Let me tell you, folks, getting here feels like a major accomplishment. I don’t know what it all was, but this week has been a major struggle. I had anxiety and panic-type flares for lack of a better term. And I’m super tired from getting everything ready to leave, and then plane, uber, hotel, straight into a meeting with no buffer because I was the last to arrive tonight, so I’m sort of wide open with the help of an IPA from the hotel bar. But now I’m tucked in and in yoga pants and I’m decompressing.
The trip leaders/facilitators lead us through a community-building exercise that started with a community safety agreement, which was fabulous. We were asked to imagine a person that we felt comfortable confessing to when we had messed up/sinned. And then in a word or phrase we shared aspects of what we thought of when we thought of that person. This sparked conversation about what we wanted to see in community throughout the trip and got us to go deeper faster I guess for lack of a better term in the sense that we have a lot of intense ground to cover in a short time and we needed a framework to help us get there.
We talked about intention vs. impact and which do we hold or can we hold them both or do we center impact. This is important in a multi-racial space because white folks often like to center intention when they do something that causes harm as though saying, “well, I didn’t mean too…” is some kind of get out of jail free card. This dovetails with a discussion I was having earlier this week regarding people treating repentance as a get out of jail free card, much like some do with the concept of free speech as though that means there should be no consequences for anything people say, when in reality free speech means you don’t get jailed for what you say, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get fired from your job or experience other personal consequences.
In Christian tradition, true repentance should be about facing and even welcoming the consequences of one’s actions as a path to make things right again. Repentance was never meant to be a “get-out-of-jail-free” card.
In the same way, some people–especially white folks in the context of talking about race–seem to think that as long as their intentions aren’t specifically harmful we should be granted a free pass on the harm that they caused. I’ve also personally experienced this with men thinking that if they didn’t intend harm, they should get a pass on the impact that they caused to women, and it doesn’t work like that either.
Intentions do matter. It’s ever so much worse if the intent is to actually cause harm and there’s not room for repentance or reconciliation in that case.
My main takeaway tonight was that if our intent is truly good, then we should welcome our neighbors telling us about the impact of our actions and be able to learn from that experience and change our actions, instead of centering our intentions in the conversation. By nature of someone telling you how they impacted them, they assumed good intentions, or they wouldn’t have bothered.
I’ve blogged extremely sporadically for years. Back in the early days of blogging when everything had to be hand-coded if you wanted to customize one of the few themes available, I had a blog called Emerging Ecclesiology. Which auto correct thinks should be “Emerging Anesthesiology” but I digress. I engaged in questions of theology and culture, the emerging church, and what ecclesiology (a theology of church, not as sleep-inducing generally as anesthesiology, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, otherwise, auto correct may have a point) looks like for a post-modern church.
That was about 17 years ago if I recall correctly, I was 23 and fresh out of seminary and bursting with ideas. I was teaching world religions at a community college west of Los Angeles, teaching assisting with some classes at Fuller where I had just graduated, and developing a college ministry program at a local church. Writing that reminds me that I used to have energy, now just looking at that sentence makes me tired.
Eventually I wanted to turn to more of an emphasis on general theology and spirituality so I renamed the blog Deep Soil and indulged in beautiful headers of trees and forests. Somewhere around this time (age 25 by now), I met my now husband on my blog. That’s right, I met my husband on the internet without internet dating and before blogs where a thing. I had to explain our origin story starting with “what’s a blog” to about 50% of the people I tried to tell it to.
I moved to Tennessee and took a full-time youth ministry position. That and planning a wedding, getting married, remodeling a house, husband getting ordained, then moving again a year later and both of us starting new jobs, a local church for him, a diocesan position in youth ministry for me, and blogging kind of fell by the way-side. Oh somehow in the middle of this, I wrote and published a book of youth ministry lessons on the book of Ezekiel. Why Ezekiel for my first book? Because I like to jump in the deep end and see how long I can tread water. This can be a good thing and very very bad thing, but it’s what it is. Now as I approach my 40th year, I sometimes remember to look before I leap. Sometimes.
We built a house north of Nashville, my diocesan position got cut after two years because of money problems, and I launched into free-lance photography, simultaneously starting two new blogs, one called Wayfaring Artist, which still exists in some ways on this site as I moved the posts over here when I closed that down, and one called Daily Ikon which was a photo blog turned photography business. Those blogs lasted me through the birth of my first child (he’s now 8), after which I had to dial back the photography thing because it wasn’t paying enough to justify child care. Then in November of 2011 I finished my first National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), and decided I wanted to do something with the novel I had written. So I launched edits, and blog tour and started this site, A.E. Howard Writes to go with the “branding” of my author name. Initially I only used this blog feature for announcements, as I optimistically and unrealistically thought I could write a book a year and there would be things to update. I’ve done some short stories and novellas but haven’t published another novel as of yet.
Somewhere in there I tried briefly to revive Deep Soil, and at one point had (or maybe have, I need to check, lol) a blog called Anna’s Grace Notes, and now I’ve started a blog for my aquarium and vivarium business over on Engaging Ecosystems
So by relaunching now, that brings me to blog number nine I believe. Part of my problem is I kept thinking that I had to have separate branding for everything I did, and I’m getting to where I’m rejecting that notion. Now, what I want to write about here (more in a second), is very different then technical posts on how to build a dart frog ecosystem, so I am going to keep those separate, but that’s it. I’m not removing the artsy maker posts just below this that I briefly dabbled in trying to make a go of. I still make and build and design all sorts of things but I do that for me, not for content to share.
One constant theme in all these is a search for beauty in everyday life, hence the name “daily ikon” for instance, or some of my taglines “beauty in the daily” and so on. It has been a constant theme to learn to live everyday life with appreciation and gusto even because if we only wait for the big things, the milestones, the events, we miss the majority of our own life–the one built from seconds and minutes, from children’s smiles, hot coffee, and spring flowers. If we miss the ordinary, we can’t truly appreciate the extraordinary anyway, so it’s important to make the most of the daily.
So that brings me to this blog, now in the middle of 2019. I’m working on a non-fiction project that I don’t know exactly what it will be yet. As I get parts of it done and polished I’ll post them here. I’m exploring ideas related to empathy, right relationships, theology, and what’s wrong with American Christianity. Yeah, tiny little topics, I’m sure I’ll have it sorted and polished in no time flat.
I’ve been reading a lot, so I thought I could also share some feedback and reviews from my current reading list as I go along as well.
And I’ve got about 4 different fiction projects in the works, I can’t make any promises as to when they will be finished. Books 2 and 3 of my middle grade Keeper of the Keys trilogy, a full novel from the novella I contributed to Wonderstorms, and a new project that will most likely include frogs. Which gives me my latest tagline for this site: Faith. Frogs. Fiction.
I’ve suffered for some years now from a chronic illness, namely untreated and then under-treated hypothyroidism that really wrecked my ability to much more than survive. I’ve learned a lot from being so restricted, more that I can share in other posts, but the biggest take-away is that I am not what I produce. I am happy when I can write thought, and now that I’m closer to getting the proper dosage of meds and all worked out, I can tackle some of these projects and even start bringing them out into the light, even if I don’t have any time frame that I can promise on them.
So that’s where we’re at as of today. Thanks for coming along on the journey, and welcome! Or welcome back, as the case may be
I’ve lately discovered that beauty and order are necessary for my sanity. And like so many out there, it was so hard to keep my house in any kind of order, I’d clean up, and the junk would return seemingly out of no where! So I’ve been following the KonMari method as described in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Upand I haven’t been doing it long enough yet to declare that it absolutely works but with all the areas I’ve hit so far, the clutter hasn’t come back!
And what’s more, I’ve been able to actually find systems that work to maintain things the way I want them, so nothing gets that far behind.
I’m not going to try to duplicate the book, because I’d rather tell you about what I did to make my office and mud room beautiful, but I do have some reflections on the sorts of systems we need that actually work and flow with our lives for another post coming soon, my children willing and the creek don’t rise and all that 😉
I built my first pipe shelf for my office project! I bought 1/2 inch flanges, 12 inch long “nipples,” and end caps, and screwed them into the wall. Then I added a 4-foot long shelf, in this case, I bought a 1×10 select pine board, because it looked like the 1×12 wasn’t going to sit flat on my pipes. Flanges got screwed into a stud on one side and with four heavy duty anchors on the other (dang stud wasn’t in the right spot and I had to have balance!).
The numbered files are just Ikea’s Flyt files, ordered from Amazon, because no Ikea near me, sniff sniff! I added the big black vinyl numbers for a bit of differentiation and because I thought it looked cool in a similar pin.
The white organizer behind my computer was a church rummage sale find.
I made the wire photo display and mason jar organizer this week as well. They are 2 foot long craft boards (pre cut in the lumber section), also select pine. 1×4 for the photo display and 1×6 for the mason jar organizer.
The display is just eye hooks screwed in and strung with picture hanging wire, the mason jar organizer, well, that deserves it’s own post because several tutorials I found left out key info.The two photo boards are hung with the large command strips for pictures. They say they hold 16 pounds, I put 2 on each picture board just to be sure. The mason jar organizer is hung with screws and anchors.
I stained all the boards and the shelf with a tea and vinegar method, I’ve got pics and will write about that as well (I’m racking up the list for future posts today, aren’t I?) but it’s way cool and totally non-toxic!
This is the opposite side of the office with all my Jamberry work now beautifully stowed on the built in book shelves.
And since this post is long already, I’ll do a picture only laundry room tour and if there are questions, well, I can always write another post 😉
I wanted a something happy to focus on when doing laundry