Get the exclusive (almost) Weekly Digest.

    Other Thoughts

    Thoughtworthy (Organic Makeup, New Christmas Book, Finished Read Aloud, and MORE!)

    November 15, 2019 by Brandy Vencel

    :: 1 ::

    I don’t wear much makeup, but what I do wear started to run out. I considered just buying what I’d bought before because I knew I liked the color already, but decided out of curiosity to internet search “organic makeup” and see what came up. I was pleasantly surprised by the options and decided that this new (to me) fruit-and-oil approach was interesting enough that an experiment was called for. (Some of it also has minerals, but it’s not as heavy in minerals as some mineral makeup, which is good because I’m not keen on the possible toxins in mineral makeup — why exchange one set of toxins for another?)

    Anyhow, I settled on blush by HAN and eyeshadow by 100% Pure. The big reason was they were pressed powders rather than loose. (I wear gas permeable contact lenses and loose powders irritate my eyes.) I’ve been wearing it everyday since it arrived and I love it.

    I still haven’t found a lipstick I like, so I’m sticking to my old faithful that I’ve worn for at least twenty years, but these are definitely an upgrade from what I was wearing before.

    :: 2 ::

    Each year, I add one new Christmas book to my collection. When the kids were little, these were mostly picture books. Now, these are mostly chapter books or short story collections.

    I think we have a children’s Nutcracker somewhere, but we’ve never had the real thing. I couldn’t resist this cheerful cover, so The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffmann is the new addition for this year’s Christmas read aloud.

    I haven’t chosen our Advent devotional yet. We really enjoyed Sinclair Ferguson’s Love Came Down at Christmas last year and I keep trying to find something I think will rival it. Any ideas?

    Have you added any new Christmas books to your collection?

    :: 3 ::

    We finished reading Emma aloud last week. Soooo good, and so much fun to finally share with my children. O-Age-11 tolerated it (and it now being consoled by a read aloud of The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict), of course, but the others were all in, engaged, and laughing at the exact right places. It was truly a delight.

    I wasn’t sure Q-Age-12 was ready for it, but I wanted to fit in at least one Austen novel before E-Age-17 leaves home, so I took the risk. When I overheard her declare, “If you don’t like Emma, SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YOU,” it was very satisfying. (Heather gave me permission to graduate her on the spot.)

    There is so much to consider in the last year of a child’s education. I think choosing the read alouds you always wanted to cover is important if at all possible. You’ll be glad you did. Or, at least, I’m really glad I’ve made that a priority the past few years.

    One thing that really struck me about Emma, which had never stood out to me before, was how amazingly kind she was to her father — as was Mr. Knightley. Our culture is always saying how important boundaries are. Her father, he lives a small life. He doesn’t get out much. He worries about his own health and everyone else’s. He seems to struggle with anxiety. Emma is a grown woman. Shouldn’t she dismiss him? Go live her life somewhere as a full fledged adult and stop worrying about him?

    Emma has many faults, but she is as faithful as a daughter can get. Even when she realizes she’s in love with Mr. Knightley, she vows not to marry until her father has passed. It would be too hard on him to move him to Donwell Abbey, and yet she could never ask Mr. Knightley to give up his independent life and move into her family home in order to coddle her silly patriarch. Mr. Knightley, however, proposes to do just this. He loves her enough to do what it takes to make her father as comfortable in his old age as possible.

    It’s an act of love and sacrifice that most of us can’t even fathom. Isn’t this bad boundaries? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just extreme consideration for the weak and respect for the aged. Whatever it is, it gives one pause in an age when the most common relationship advice is to break with anyone and everyone who stresses you out or is “toxic.”

    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2014:

    This one tells the story of how our DecemberTerm plans were born. This was back before many people were talking about Christmas Circle Time plans and it felt revolutionary to me. There had been a time when I only had one student and he was quick, so we could easily take off all of Advent and still finish school on time. If I did that now, we’d have to homechool year round! (I don’t want to do that.) So this was a way to still prepare ourselves for Christmas while making sure we did our regular lessons as well. Still works perfectly after all these years.

    :: 5 ::

    Podcast episode of the week:

    • The Dan Bongino Show: Ep. 1109 This Impeachment Farce is a National Disgrace
      • Quick run down on impeachment, which you might find helpful, but also don’t miss the segment on Google’s collection of healthcare data.

    :: 6 ::

    This week’s links collection:

    • Howard Zinn lied about Christopher Columbus. Here’s how. from The College Fix
      • “But Zinn’s most crucial omissions are in the passage from Columbus’s log that he quotes in the very first paragraph of his People’s History. There he uses ellipses to cover up the fact that he has left out enough of Columbus’s words to deceive his readers about what the discoverer of America actually meant. The omission right before ‘They would make fine servants’ is particularly dishonest. Here’s the nub of what Zinn left out: ‘I saw some who bore marks of wounds on their bodies, and I made signs to them to ask how this came about, and they indicated to me that people came from other islands, which are near, and wished to capture them, and they defended themselves. And I believed and still believe that they come here from the mainland to take them for slaves.'”
      • I am struck by the fact that reading original sources helps defend us against these sorts of things.
    • A Family-Friendly Guide to Sex Education from Crisis Magazine
      • “Children are born into a family, and it’s up to that family to help them develop according to their nature.” LOVE.
    • ‘Pushing a coup’: Fellow soldiers slam Vindman for testifying in uniform from The Washington Examiner
      • Since he’s on the NSC, which means he doesn’t wear a uniform, of course this is an issue. He went back to work afterwards — think he changed? Sure he did; he wore it for show. Isn’t it against protocol to wear your dress uniform in this sort of situation?
      • It’s pretty obvious this whole impeachment thing is put on for show, a combination of parading and hearsay. I find it disgusting and wish our legislature would get back to business.

    Get the (almost) weekly digest!

    Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.

    Powered by ConvertKit


  • Reply Hillary November 17, 2019 at 9:51 am

    Did you find that Sinclair Ferguson’s book was a good fit for all your kids’ ages? Our church library team just ordered it.
    We also have bought Repeat the Sounding Joy by Christopher Ash (published by the Good Book Co.), which goes through Luke 1 & 2 phrase by phrase, adding a carol and prayer. That might be similar to Ferguson’s focus on the phrases in 1 Corinthians 13.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 18, 2019 at 8:44 am

      Ooh! Thanks for the tip on the Ash book. I will definitely go look at it.

      I think my 10yo son was a stretch last year, but it worked well for the others. I definitely wouldn’t do the Ferguson book with kids younger than 10 because I think that meditative approach is too intense for them when they are little. I was still doing Cindy Rollins’ Hallelujah in the mornings, so I felt like he was getting something he connected with at a different time.

    • Reply Joshua Morgan November 18, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Your comments about Columbus are nice to hear. Some years ago when I was helping an AP US History student, we were reading original source material of Christopher Columbus. It amazed me how different it read than what I had heard from second hand sources.

      • Reply Brandy Vencel November 20, 2019 at 12:06 pm

        I’m so glad AP classes are still using original sources!

  • Reply tess November 15, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Don’t remember where I first heard of it, but “All Creation Waits” by Gayle Boss is so lovely it makes me cry. 🙂

    Regarding boundaries, I think there’s a difference between *actually* toxic people and those our culture tends to call toxic because they aren’t easy, or very likeable, or are inconvenient in some way. Much like how the colloquial definition of the word narcissist is useless because it just describes mean, nasty and/or selfish people. Really toxic relationships have a way of taking over your life so that your whole identity revolves around palliating the dysfunction of a person who is unwilling to budge on their interpretation of reality. That’s not even remotely the same thing as having a difficult parent or grandparent that needs some sort of dignified care in their final years.

    Buuuuut—- having said that, I think the deterioration of mental and spiritual hygiene in our society could be leading to more people becoming toxic to each other.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 16, 2019 at 7:19 am

      YES. I have heard women start calling their husbands “narcissists” when they don’t like his opinion on something and I feel so badly for women married to TRUE narcissists because now it’s all muddled. I agree there are real toxic people. I listen to a lot of business podcasts, and I have been shocked over the last year or two how many times the advice was given to shed relationships that were “toxic” when it met a definition of *all* relationships at some point in time because they only meant that the person required something from them they didn’t want to give. Not surprisingly, one of the guys I heard give this type of advice bragged about how low stress his life was — but he had been divorced three times and very obviously left a path of destruction in his wake.

      I so wish we were inclined to save these words for the real situations they were meant to describe because I think it is protective in a lot of ways and helps us think more clearly about things. With that said, I *know* that Emma’s father would have been held up as an example of bad boundaries in any class using Cloud’s book on boundaries and that gave me pause. I wondered for the first time if my entire view of what are good and bad boundaries was framed by a single person and what the danger in that could be. Made me want to read more Austen!

      Interesting comment there at the end of our cultural deterioration leading to more true toxicity. I hadn’t thought of that before, but I definitely see your point!

      I always love your comments, Tess! ♥

      • Reply tess November 16, 2019 at 7:59 am

        Since you brought them up, I’ll be completely honest: I do not like Cloud and Townsend’s ‘Boundaries’. I’ve tried several times over the years and the book leaves me with an icky feeling.

        One of the things missing is the nuance that sacrifice and suffering can be embraced/chosen in an act of union with Christ. The key to understanding this is really emphasizing the extremely *voluntary* nature of such suffering. It can’t be coerced in the slightest, and it can’t even be passively accepted (i.e. suffering something because “I should” or because “God wants me to”– a premise that implies God wills suffering). Maybe it’s only possible to make such a movement of the will if you have a certain amount of self-integrity, rooted in an existence of kenotic love. *Shrug* In which case, most people in our society do not possess the wholeness to even understand what that means, let alone act on it.

        Cloud and Townsend seem to be writing for a very specific group of (let’s be honest) mousy churchy women, who behave in a certain way because that’s how they were programmed by bad theology about gender inequality. (You don’t have to bake cookies EVERY Sunday, Barbara! You can say ‘no’ to things like that, at least sometimes!) Cloud and Townsend are virtually useless when it comes to dealing with caring for a mentally or terminally ill parent, or relating with someone with an actual personality disorder and/or addiction issue. What do your boundaries matter when someone you love is stumbling drunk and about to get into a car and drive away?

        And YES about the “low stress lifestyle”. Honest to God, the people I know in life with the least stress are the most selfish ones, the ones who are the root of the suffering of others. And when you think of it, how can you practice any kind of Christian coinherence without metabolizing the stress that comes with it? 🙂

        Thanks for chatting back! I’m not on any social media– I still party like it’s 1999, only for reals. 😉 That means I still think commenting on blogs is cool and fun, lol.

        • Reply tess November 16, 2019 at 9:11 am

          On reread, I want to apologize for my tone/rant regarding C&T— I could see where someone reading my comments might think I looked down on someone who found their observations helpful. And that’s not what I think– really, I think it’s possible to pick the good out of almost everything. I do have a deep-seated, multi-leveled argument with their worldview, which includes both their theological models and their psychological models of the human person and relationship. But I don’t think I articulated that well, or clearly. Let’s blame it on not enough coffee, shall we? 😉 There never seems to be enough coffee…

          • Lynette November 21, 2019 at 10:59 am

            Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I was trying to figure out how to comment on here (and whether I should) as I was a bit bothered by the boundaries discussion. I read a part of that book on boundaries awhile back and though I can’t remember the details, I do remember disagreeing with him. At the same time, I have personally benefited tremendously from learning to have boundaries with a parent. The goal wasn’t to shed the relationship though. The goal was to figure out how to have a healthy relationship. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Emma. But I think I can remember examples of Emma having healthy boundaries. The evidence for her healthy boundaries lies in the fact that she has a positive relationship. As I’m thinking about this, perhaps it comes down to tone. Back when I learned to have boundaries, I also learned the importance of respecting a parent whether or not they deserved it. So learning to be respectful and have boundaries at the same time was really important. And I have a pretty healthy relationship with this parent today. Anyway, I just thought I’d chime in that boundaries are good and helpful when done well. I think relationships without boundaries are always unhealthy. If you’ve never had to think about it, it’s because your relationships have healthy boundaries. But when one or both sides doesn’t have healthy boundaries that thought needs to be put into where to place them. But of course, having boundaries should still fall in line with the natural order of human relationships. They’re not an excuse for disrespect, condescension, or selfishness. They should be a way to foster respect and loving kindness.

  • Reply Angelique November 15, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    I read Sense and Sensibility with my thirteen year old daughter this year. It was so wonderful! So many great discussions! Especially nice to talk about emotions and boys in a deep but not personal way.
    If you haven’t read Leila Lawler’s blog, Like Mother, Like Daughter, check it out! She’s like the wise, experienced, hilarious aunt we all wish we had.

  • Reply Julie Zilkie November 15, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Check out Crunchi make up. I just discovered it, and I am smitten. It is a newer direct sales company, and although the price point is like department store prices, it also performs the same way. They have ZERO toxins in their stuff. Love their mission and what they stand for. I literally got my second order from them yesterday!

  • Leave a Reply