Discover more from More Beautiful Than Necessary with Tresta Payne
Make Up Your Mind || June 2019
It's time to simplify things.
I love writing this newsletter but the past couple months, I've spent more time formatting it than I have actually writing and sharing it. I've wrestled with this technology more than is necessary. This reminds me of Stratford Caldecott's wisdom in Beauty for Truth's Sake:
"Increasingly, in a society shaped by technology that is continually changing, we need to learn a new skill: how to keep learning."
That's probably my motto for life, but rather than try to learn why my formatting gets wonky and what the technology needs from me, for June, let's just keep things simple. That's my other motto for life.
May was a month full of beauty and the right amount of stress. We celebrated Mother's Day at the beach and it was the most beautiful day on the Oregon coast I've ever seen. We attended two weddings, celebrated another child's graduation from high school, welcomed a new calf to our micro-ranch, and I shared with a group of women about the importance of truth, goodness, and beauty in my life.
"Beauty is the true form of things crafted by God, with the right proportions and harmony and an appeal to the senses. In asking the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, we are letting Him work through goodness by appealing to the conscience (the way we were made to feel conviction), in order to bring about truth. Madeleine L'Engle wrote, 'We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.' That’s the power of beauty.
Beauty takes truth and goodness and applies it to the need of the moment."
I shared how my 20s and 30s were are time loaded with the truth and goodness of God, but lacking in an appreciation for beauty. I treated it as an extra, as frivolous and not serious.
I'm making up for lost time, now—I'm that person with the camera, that person with her face buried in the flowers, that poetry-reading person who gets hung up on a phrase or an image. I also wear more make-up than I ever have before and, thanks to a gift from my husband, get my nails done. *shrug*
Some of these things are embarrassing to admit but it's good to be knee-deep in the truth, goodness, and beauty of God. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him and I'm learning to see the smallest, beautiful thing, and give Him glory for it.
To quote Caldecott again:
"Praise (of beauty), service (of goodness), and contemplation (of truth) are essential to the full expression of our humanity."
WHAT I READ, LISTENED TO, AND WATCHED
Here is the updated link to my Evernote file, where I track my goals and progress in my made-up Homeschool MFA. What is a Homeschool MFA? Read more here.
Not much happened in May as far as my MFA plans go. Learning layers in with life but some seasons, the things I'm learning are just by happenstance and not according to a plan. We are all growing by degrees!
Faith Among the Faithless by Mike Cosper.
I love Cosper's thoughtful dialogue on his podcast Cultivated so I was fairly certain his book would be worth the time, and it was. This is the story of Esther, of the dangers of assimilating into a godless society, and of God's faithfulness in the midst of His perceived hiddenness.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This book was loaned to me by a student, so of course I had to read it. Anything recommended by a thoughtful student will receive priority in my reading pile. I've heard of this book over the years and was so primed to read a good novel that I finished it in one long Sunday afternoon. I've never read a book in one sitting, so if that's not a high recommendation I don't know what is. Gripping. Intense. Beautiful in the midst of being devastating.
Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
Maybe I'm just burnt-out on self-improvement (see note above about the lack of beauty in my life in my 20s and 30s—I read a lot of books about how to be better, and not enough about how to be beloved of God) but this book was a dud. I hate to give poor reviews to authors who've poured their guts into a project, but I don't think Elrod will be affected by my opinion.
This is a book that could have been an essay about a guy who succeeds in his own strength. To be fair, there are useful reminders in it, but it's far too "self" to really be much "help".
Why as Christians we need to read widely—and deeply, by Katelyn Beaty
Another good argument for getting outside our bubbles.
Why I'm deleting my Instagram account for good, by Tonia Peckover
Tonia and I have agreed to disagree about certain things, and this is one of them ; ) But her reasons are great. My conscience was uncomfortably pricked, just a little.
Robert Browning on artistic integrity, withstanding criticism, and the courage to create rather than cater, by Maria Popova
The snap of Thanos and the God who flooded humanity, by Rebecca Reynolds
Rebecca is always honest and thoughtful. I love how she works through hard questions and doesn't shy from the truth about how we feel, as humans, about our conceptions of God.
If stories aren't enough, by Callie Feyen
Read this one. "The truth is every day I go to work, I am a little afraid. Every day, while I work with other peoples’ children, I also think of my own. Every day I hope with trepidation a story I read or one a student reads will be one that becomes a part of him or her, and will help this person forge their way in the world.
I am scared for my life, and I believe in stories – two truths that will never match up. They will never go away."
Again, I'm lacking in this department. I still fight a mentality that says to read something is always better than to watch something. I did convince two of my menfolk to watch The Greatest Showman with me though. I enjoyed it, but I admit that a musical is just kind of uncomfortable to watch on a television. I think it requires a movie theater or a live performance to be viewed properly.
I watched Wonder and the Artist's Task, an Anselm Society talk with Ben Holsteen on YouTube, while reorganizing my bookshelves this month. A little wisdom from Ben: "An artist must avoid both the traps of having something to say and no idea how to say it, and...knowing exactly how to say something, and having nothing to say." This quote got me thinking about the times when I want to write but don't feel much direction. Sometimes just starting the process helps my thoughts come together, but if I'm struggling to figure out what I want to say—rather than figuring out how to say what is already on my heart—I know it's not time to write.
Good Enough podcast with Andrea Burke and Lore Ferguson Wilbert
Poet Kind podcast, especially this episode on Imposter Syndrome with Kris Camealy
One Thousand Words podcast with Matthew Clark. Matthew goes full word-nerd in this episode about etymology and I love it!
WHAT I WROTE
Life Lately—"I have a sketchy memory full of very specific snapshots I’ve intentionally frozen—remember this. I am mad about so much I don’t remember but the fragments are enough to fill the boat, and if I forget, ultimately, it’s ok. It’s never about the lack, the forgotten things. It’s always about the present provision."
Letting Go of Perfection—this article is in the summer issue of Joyful Life Magazine, which you can order here! The Joyful Life is a well-done, thoughtful, useful and beautiful magazine, as well as an online presence for great writing from authors you may not be familiar with yet.
Last month I learned that my family loves tacos and really doesn't care if we eat them every week, or twice in one week.
I learned that the cheapest motel is rarely the best choice.
I learned that my smoke alarms need to be dusted occasionally to prevent a 1 a.m. wake-up call.
I learned that shampoo is not necessary and my hair feels better without it. *gasp*
I learned today that I can simplify the newsletter and finish it without complication or frustration, and you, dear readers, probably won't even notice a difference. Though simplification is one of my life goals, I can miss the forest for the trees in my efforts to make things better. I'm learning.
When I say 'learned', sometimes I just mean it finally sank in deep enough to make a difference. So much of what I learn is just simply noticing—nothing monumental—just small, incremental steps in my growth as God works sanctification and maturity in me.
We can't point to everything we are learning. It's not always concrete and tangible, but it adds up. It's worth noting. Worth paying attention.
"The road to reason leads through the ordering of the soul, which implies the necessity of an education in love, in discernment, and in virtue."
Here's to more truth, goodness, and beauty in our lives.
Here's to simplifying.
Here's to reevaluating our routines and looking, again, at our surroundings.
May your June be full of noticing.
Thanks for reading, friends.
You can reply to this email or find me on Instagram and tell me what you're reading, watching, listening to, and enjoying. What are you learning about simplifying in this particular season?
I love to hear your ideas.