Over Christmas break I read some books.
You have no idea how exciting it was to type that sentence. Yes, I technically read books all the time, I am technically employed to read books. But so often they are not the books I would choose to read, or I am forced to not only read them, but to tear through them quickly and then produce some profound something on them. I’m not complaining because seriously, grad school is a pretty sweet setup. But sometimes, I miss reading books just for the joy of reading them.
Over the past month I finished Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon that I started last Christmas, charged through Wilson’s Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, started Helprin’s In Sunlight and Shadow, and finally sat down and read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Everyone has been talking about that last one for over a year, but as it was checked out at every single library all of the time, I finally just begged for it for Christmas and have book-loving in-laws that came through. To my surprise, the book was just good. I think that a childhood of reading Lurlene McDaniel books where adolescents are always finding love in the midst of terminal illness made me think it slightly less original than some(are those books still around by the way?), but it was still good. A couple awesome standout lines, some tender moments, and a nice, slightly unpredictable ending. Not the book that everyone hyped it up to be, but good.
But then I read the thirty pages of interview with the author in the back of my edition and it totally changed everything and then I had the sensation that the main character describes as being “convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together again unless and until all living humans read this book.” What I loved was his philosophy of fiction that so perfectly manifested itself in the book. He emphasizes over and over that what he wanted to do was reclaim the power of ordinary existence and show that ordinary, unheroic life is the meaningful and beautiful. And he succeeded, elevating my view of the whole book from “good” to “perfect,” in that it fully fulfilled what he set out to do.
I’ve been thinking lately, as I do every so often, about what purpose I want this blog to fulfill. It used to be just for my family to see random things in my life that they miss because they are far away. As it has grown a little, it still does that, but I also want the words to matter in a more general way. I don’t want to just spout dribble into cyberspace. That seems such a waste of energy and a shameful misuse of language.
There are lots of blogs across the Internet that serve to inspire you. They share so much inspiration of what to buy, do, eat, etc. that sometimes I feel exhausted reading them because it seems that so much money and work must be exerted to re-craft my ordinary life into an inspired one. There are also blogs out there that teach you to do something worthwhile, but I have so few skills that can be translated into text. (Conversely, if you are ever in DC and want to learn how to plunge a toilet, I tell you – I can plunge anything.) There are blogs that challenge you, judge you, guide you, but that just seems like a tall order. There are political blogs, fashion blogs, cultural blogs, but I get bored with one niche. I’m not attacking any of these bloggers – all of these things serve a very real purpose and I’m glad they are there. I’m just saying that I can’t be one of them.
Instead, I’ve decided that what I want is for this blog to encourage you. Where you are. In the life you are living. With whatever you have. I want it to applaud the absolutely ordinary parts of everyday life and show that they can be extraordinary, be worthwhile, and be beautiful, by very nature of being ordinary. I want it to be a little corner of the Internet that makes you feel a little better about whatever little corner of this world you are in. Some beautifully ordinary moments from the past couple weeks.
Oh, yes. I super love this. I completely agree that I appreciate other blogs for what they do, but it doesn’t mean that that’s what I want my blog to do. Your encouragement goal reminds me of this line from Glennon Melton’s book, “Carry On, Warrior”:
“It was more fun to say things that made other women feel hopeful about themselves and God than it was to say or omit things to make people feel jealous of me.”
I think that I’d like my blog to tell the truth in the slices that I publish. It’s not the whole, entire truth — who has the time? — but those pinhole pictures will be truthful.
Also, that picture of James in front of the rug is amazing.
I love that quote! Thanks for sharing!
And yes, that pic of him is one of my faces…. very expressive of real life.
I remember reading the Lurlene McDaniel books too…I hadn’t thought about those in years! I would be in tears at the end…
Me too!!!! And I love how the titles were always super morbid and dramatic.
I used to read fashion / design blogs as well, but eventually they lost my interest over the years, because it seemed like all they did (for me) was pressure me to re-craft my life into something more sparkly that gives the illusion of perfection. I’m not into perfect – I’m into honest. Now I only find time to read the blogs that meet you where you are and find beauty in the simplicity of daily life. Like yours! I, too, blog to find the hidden gems buried in the seemingly mundane moments, and it’s made all the difference, so thank you for doing what you do girl! It encourages me.
Thank you! I agree — I like a little bit of sparkly, but too much and I just get overwhelmed.
Amen to what you said. And–that picture of your husband in front of the rug makes me smile…and is exactly what my husband looks like any time he steps foot in a store that’s clothing or home goods related. That, too, ironically enough, is part of the beautiful ordinary, isn’t it?
Definitely part of it. Basically James is the perfect candidate for Internet shopping because he HATES stores.
Nice one Hannah. I think that with God too we can long for and dream of the extraordinary, which is right and good, but miss the way he moulds us inside out, bit by bit, until the ordinary has taken is on an extraordinary journey which not only blows our minds, but has contributed something wonderful to the world. If we are too busy trying to ‘be’ someone, we wear ourselves out, miss the beauty of a gentle, patient and relational God, and wonder why we crumble in frustration! I love that you celebrate life in a riot of colour and friendships, it exudes joy, so keep going. Colour, joy and passion are what (hopefully) characterise my life, and passion, variety and the desire to gently challenge our perspectives are what I try to aim for with my blog.
Have a Lovely weekend. X
Thank you so much for that — I love what you said!
Thanks I do find this blog encouraging. God has been teaching me about the way our ordinary lives can honour him and I think you have written about this well.
This is a beautiful post!! I loved it. I often feel just like you . . . don’t have a niche. Redeeming the everyday is my purpose, and how does that fit into a branded blog? Thanks for sharing these thoughts! I read “The Fault In Our Stars” a couple of years ago, and remembering the story in light of your thoughts is great. Thanks for sharing!!
Oh, and your thoughts on Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl? I loved it! Fits well with finding the purpose & encouragement in the everyday.
Ok, so my thoughts on Notes are really mixed. I loved it for the poetry and the exhalation of the minute and the ordinary. But, I am really concerned about some of his theological implications. I feel like you have to be careful discussing theology without scripture and with pretty language (which he does) and there were a couple parts where I was screaming NOOOOOOOO at the book because his theology got super inconsistent. But on the whole, I still really enjoyed the book and copied out a million quotes.
I think your blog title has turned into some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. This blog IS encouraging and I love your celebration of beauty in the ordinary. My blog doesn’t focus on one topic either, and I think that’s totally ok. I get SO overwhelmed with all those perfect blogs out there. They’re awesome, and they teach me so much, but really I can’t keep up with it all. Sometimes instead of inspiring me, they make me feel like I don’t do enough in life. Keep doing your thing, girl! Blogs like yours are my favorite. You write about REAL things and RELATABLE things and I absolutely love it.
Ah thanks girl! Perfection is WAY overrated. (I also love that you are like me and love that all caps key! )
Let me just say that if that’s your goal you have achieved it. I love your “little side of the Internet. ” I have been subscribed since you made the post about James not being your soul mate and I love your blog. It gives me hope. I love the way you relish life and show so much excitement about everything. The way you and James love each other made me reevaluate my last relationship and realize that me and him where not going to work out and that I need someone that loves me and loves God as much as I do. You definitely inspire me and make me laugh. I look forward to every part.
You totally deserve someone who loves you and God so much!!!! Hold out girl!
Your blog already does that – it is my favorite thing to read online simply because it is so very encouraging. ❤
Thanks girl — you have been such an encouraging commentor all along!
I am always uplifted by your blog ~ don’t go changing a thing! ❤
I don’t plan on it! Mostly because I wouldn’t know how. : )
Encouraging is just the word I would use to describe your blog! In so many ways, in so many parts of my life, with your words and thoughts and pictures. I feel inspired, not to be like you (even though you are an amazing person) but to be like me! To find and appreciate what makes my ordinary life beautiful. Thank you for that. And I have to read John Green now, my sister has been at me for years to read The Fault in Our Stars. Thanks for the reminder!
Make sure to get a copy with Green’s interviews in the back! Total game changer.
and here is why I love your blog.
Seriously, posts like these make me so glad to read your blog.
Thank you Katie!
And I believe you succeed, Hannah. 🙂
Thank you. Your blog is an inspiration. I love your writing, and your photos. 🙂
Long time reader, first time commentor. Hello from Australia!
I was given ‘The. Fault in our Stars’ for Christmas as well, and had a similar reaction: lovely story but nothing too revolutionary (it’s no Hunger Games, IMHO). Mine didn’t have the epilogue you describe, which does sound like it would enhance the appreciation of the characters and their experience. I am keen to read more of Green’s work though, if for nothing else, they are a delightful way to while away the day.
I really appreciate reading your blog. Not only are your posts interesting, but the way you see the everyday spurs me to look again at the things I take for granted. Thanks for all the time and effort you put in – please know, it’s appreciated! Especially from a couch on the other side of the world!
Thanks! It made me want to read more of his stuff too… any recommendations?
And I am almost ashamed to admit just how much I loved the Hunger Games. ; )
Dear, Dear Hannah (I feel like you are that, even though we really don’t know each other; you just seem to me to be a dear young woman.)–You are doing a PERFECT job of carrying out your stated mission with this blog! Even though I’m pushing 60 years of walking on this earth, there are days I read your blog and if I was to put my inner response into words, it might come out as “I want to be like Hannah when I grow up.” I love your fresh, lively, uncluttered perspective on life and find myself always refreshed by reading it (and always thinking that my friend Elizabeth is so blessed to have you as her daughter-in-law).
Ahhhh– thank you so much!
But really I am the one who is blessed to have her as my mother in-law!
Thank you! I really like this. Sometimes we focus so much on being better, that we forget to enjoy life. Seeing other people happy on social networks causes me to feel like my life is just ordinary, but what’s wrong with ordinary. Just because I am not doing the great thing someone else is doing does not make me less than. I really enjoyed this post.
Social media is the worst… and yet we are all so addicted. Sigh. I try to just insert lots of the humorous everyday in mine to even out the perfect of everything else!
You have already accomplished the goal of your blog by articulating graciously the richness of ordinary life. That’s why so many people are drawn to you because of the way you make regular things fun. Reminds me of my childhood pastor who mentioned that God can transform daily duties into Divine experiences. I have prayed many times over the years for God to help me see opportunity in responsibility and find God’s freshness in routine.
Hi Hannah. Just wanted to say that if the purpose of your blog is to encourage and applaud the ordinary parts of life … you’re doing a good job. 🙂
Thanks! You are too sweet!