Simple With Tsh Oxenreider Podcast Episode 190: Hometown Tourism + Abundant Mindset

I tread lightly with the word “abundant” - it doesn’t meant we’ll all be millionaires, or all of us will get to live out our ultimate dreams. In this episode of Simple, I’m sharing an Annie Dillard quote about “spending it all” that absolutely slayed me and inspired me to start practicing a more abundant mindset rather than one of scarcity or lack. To me, it’s more about gratitude and living abundantly without fear within our God-given gifts and callings, whatever that looks like.

And Tsh encourages us to view our hometown (or the town we currently live in) with a mindset of curiosity. I can’t wait to plan an entire tourist day in our local small town of Columbia, TN and explore all the places I pass regularly that I’ve yet to discover. So many good ideas here!

Listen in here or on iTunes, and let me know what you think!

You can also check out My Good List that inspired this podcast episode.

My Good List - For The Art of Simple

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A few months ago, I got to share My Good List for the first time on the Simple podcast. It was fun to revisit that idea and ponder what’s making my life better right now in this new season. Here are 4 things—an item, a habit, a work of art, and a philosophy—that are currently life-giving to me.

What’s on your Good List right now?

3 Reasons Why I Love Juvenile Literature (+ Book Recs!)

Dancing Shoes
Bridge to Terabithia
Wonderstruck
The Marvels
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Wonder
The Magic Summer
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
The War That Saved My Life
The War I Finally Won
A Single Shard
Little House on the Prairie
Little House in the Big Woods
Farmer Boy


Christine's favorite books »

At our little small-town library in Columbia, TN, the children’s area delightfully encompasses the entire basement. It’s all warm and carpeted and vintage-feeling down there, with aisles of classic books and plenty of copies of titles I often can’t find at other local libraries. I feel myself exhale when I walk down the stairs and see my girls run ahead of me to go off exploring the shelves.

Over the last year or so, I’ve found myself browsing the juvenile literature section, not to choose books for my children, but for myself. When I say “juvenile literature,” I’m gravitating more towards the books for middle grades (ages 8-13) rather than the older young adult (YA) titles (for a great list of those, check out this post). Finding myself at home in this section of the library has opened up a whole new world of reading that’s perfect for me in multiple ways. So I thought I’d share them with you…

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3 Reasons Why I Love Juvenile Literature:

  1. There’s less heaviness, but still great, deep story lines. I’m definitely a Highly Sensitive Person - things affect me deeply, like too much violence in books or movies. But I don’t want to just read fluff, either. I love how Juvenile Literature still contains real-life struggles and situations but without the violence, sexuality, or intensity that can be found in adult literature.

  2. I can preview books for my children. My oldest daughter is 8, so she’s at the very beginning of being able to jump into middle grade literature, but I feel she’s still too young for the storylines in several of these books. No need to rush into more mature storylines! By reading them first, I not only get some truly enjoyable reading time, but I know the content so I can recommend them to her when the time is right.

  3. It makes me feel 10 again. I can still remember the smell of the Madison Public Library that was a second home to me in my hometown of Madison, NJ. Before the over-protective days we currently live in, my mom would drop me off at the entrance in her Trans-Am (because New Jersey in the 80s…), and I was free to stay there all day, by myself or with friends, until I called her using the payphone to come pick me up. There was the quiet hum of the librarian’s ancient computer, the smell of printer ink and the microfiche machines, the clunk of patrons opening and closing the wooden card catalog drawers. I would spread out solo at one of the large tables for six and then go searching the shelves for one of my favorites, like a book from the Sisters series by Marilyn Kaye (any other children of the 80s remember these?!), the latest Babysitters Club title, or Tough Luck Karen by Johana Hurwitz. With the freedom and time to enter these new worlds through books, I worked out my own self and began to develop a picture of my developing identity.

Here are some of my favorite juvenile literature titles I’ve read over the last few years:

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Here are some titles on my “to be read” list:

Whew! Mamas’s got some reading to do.

Do you have any juvenile literature titles to add to my list? I’d love to hear! Also, I’d love to see you on Instagram - follow my hashtag #whatstineisreading for some reading happiness (there’s usually a good frothy latté picture to go with it!).

Simple With Tsh Oxenreider Podcast Episode 188: Analog Living + Reading Classics

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In this episode, I share about how to “slow down time” in the midst of very full days in my life as a farmer, homeschooling mom, wife of a chef, and writer. I also share a story about how I delightfully misplaced my phone a few weekends ago. I learned so much from Tsh about reading the classics, and it definitely convinced me to pick up a few new ones I haven’t read yet!

You can also check out my Day in the Life post on Art of Simple that inspired this podcast episode. Drop me a comment here or on the AoS site, and let me know your thoughts!

A Day In The Life - For The Art of Simple

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In my latest post for The Art of Simple, I’m sharing a typical day in my life right now as a homeschooling mom, wife of a chef, writer/creative, and organic produce farmer. If you’ve never taken the time to record a typical day in your life, I highly recommend it - it was quite an eye-opening experience!

“Recording my day in the life helped me recognize that slowing down time is important to me, as much as it’s in my control. The more I pay attention in the little moments, the more I’m able to pull back the reins on time. So, after I wrote this, I came up with a new daily motto that I’d like to share with you…”

Continue reading…

A Woman Who Changed My Life

"This is my work, my mission."

The words flowed from her mouth boldly yet humbly. Over the course of 10 days in the village of Ongole, India, I watched Prabhukumari clean her home, cook from scratch for multiple people, mother two young boys, take care of her duties as a pastor's wife, and host a guest from America (me) that spoke a foreign language, all with joy and a peaceful smile.

Today is International Women's Day, and as my Instagram feed fills with photos of women from all over the world, my mind is occupied with memories of this woman who changed me forever, whose strong and gentle hands I can still feel on my back.

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Fourteen years ago in January, I did one of the scariest and bravest things I've ever done - boarded a plane alone, with a back injury from falling down the stairs a few days earlier, and flew 21 hours across the world to Chennai, India. There, I waited to be retrieved by Prabhukumari and her husband Pastor Samson, both of whom I had only ever seen in photos. I had no cell phone or way to reach them. All I had were desperate prayers whispered under my breath, “Please let them be here…please let them be here...”

After I finally spotted Samson in a crowd holding a sign with my name on it, we then traveled another 5 hours by train to the town of Ongole, which was my headquarters for the next 10 days working with the organization Peace Gospel, visiting children in an orphanage, embracing the culture, helping tsunami victims, and basically being stretched in ways I never knew possible.

When I think about that trip now, I can't believe I did it. I barely got on the plane. I remember crying the night before on the phone to Steven (who was my fiancé at the time), declaring that I was too scared to go. But the ticket was bought, and I went. Turns out it was one of those watershed experiences - I was humbled every single day, seeing firsthand just how far-reaching the love of God is.

One day, we traveled further to a tiny, remote Indian village near the coast, where the tsunami had just taken the lives of many of the men who were out fishing the day. We delivered food, Bibles, and clothes to the widows.  Their vibrant smiles, their colorful garments, the way they clung to their babies, their shyness mingled with strength...I couldn't get enough of these stunning women.

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During my last few hours in India, Prabhukumari, Pastor Samson, and I spent several late night hours in a hotel room watching Indian television and resting before it was time for them to take me to the airport. I was wearing my sari, lying face-down on the hotel bed with my head resting sideways on my elbows, drowsily watching TV. 

Then, without a word, Prabhukumari reached out and touched my dirty, frizzy hair, and ran it through her fingers. She placed her hand on my back and ran it up and down over and over gently, sending shivers throughout my body. She must have done this for a solid hour. 

At first it felt strange to be accepting so much physical touch from someone I was supposed to be serving. It felt shocking, even. But my injured back began to feel like it was healing, and tension and tiredness from this scary, wonderful trip began to leave my body. Her touch was absolutely the hand of God to me in that moment, and I didn't want to leave her. At the same time I was tired, homesick and desperate for home. From this point on, a part of my heart would be left among these people in India. And she would always be my sister.

Today as a mother and a wife, I think of Prabhu's words often.  On days (all too often) when I'm anxious and grumbling and overwhelmed by everything that's on my plate, I hear her voice saying, "This is my work, my mission," and I stop in my tracks.  I feel her love and encouragement radiating across the oceans that separate us. If she can do hard things with joy and a smile, certainly so can I. 

We’re all a part of this tribe of women that traverses the globe. Who are some women - where you live or abroad - that have inspired you?

Simple With Tsh Oxenreider Podcast Episode 182: Dating + Marriage (With Kids)

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In this episode, Tsh and I talk about what dating in marriage looks like with kids 8 and under (me) and kids 8 and over (her). It was so fun to chat about this, and I felt like we could have kept going for another hour! :)

You can also read my latest post on The Art of Simple about freedom & connection in marriage: And The Two Shall Become One, Separately. Drop me a comment here, or on the AoS site, and let me know your thoughts!

And The Two Shall Become One, Separately - For The Art of Simple

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Here’s my latest post for The Art of Simple - And The Two Shall Become One, Separately. For some reason, this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. Maybe because the topic is so important to me, it’s a crazy story to weave together, and our marriage really has been hard-won through a lot of challenges and trials. But I can honestly say today I couldn’t be more thankful to be a on a team with the Steven Bailey and also for the ways we are wired completely differently.

People often ask how we’ve been able to handle working together in addition to the challenges marriage brings. But the practices that help us work together successfully are the same ones that bring freedom to our marriage—we strive to be a team, and we celebrate and respect our separateness within the team.

Keep reading…

I’d love to know your thoughts!

Moments Of Connection - For The Peaceful Press

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“Those things you learn without joy, you will forget easily.” (Finnish proverb)

After seeing this quote recently on Instagram, I decided to rephrase it a little:

“Those things you learn with joy, you will remember.”

Ahhh, there you go. Wrapped up in that sentence is exactly what I deeply desire for our little homeschool, which my two daughters (5 and 8) have decided to name “River Lake Sunshine.” Who wouldn’t want to enroll there, right?

Read the rest in my guest post for The Peaceful Press, who creates beautiful and thoughtful learning resources that our family loves.

Rebirthed

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5 years ago today, I was safe in my bed at home in Dallas, holding my little Norah Jewell, who had been born 47 minutes after midnight. I had tried with all my might to get her out on January 22nd so she could share my dad’s birthday, but in the end, she came into the world on her own time, as she still does as a carefree little girl who says, “My favorite color is rainbow, and my spirit animal is a unicorn.”

Here’s the story of Norah’s birth - the consumption of inordinate amounts of fro-yo, the waddling around Whole Foods and holding onto a shelf in the body care aisle during contractions while the customers looked at me strangely, the waiting, the hoping, the believing that this would be “my healing birth.”

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After preparing for months for a homebirth VBAC, this experience unearthed a strength I never knew was possible and ended up birthing me just as much as it birthed my child.

I thought I was going to break.

I didn’t.

And in the end, I was handed a beautiful, pink skinned baby with her daddy’s Asian eyes.

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Little did I know how much I would draw upon the strength I found in myself that day for years to come, because a few years later, I would push my body to the limits again, this time to birth a farm and grow an abundance of food from soil that had never seen life before.

So, here’s what I want you to know today - God says that because of Him, when we feel weak, we are actually strong - so much stronger than we thought possible.

I believed it 5 years ago and I still believe it today, for you, and for me.

>> Norah’s Full Birth Story

>> How I Prepared For A Homebirth VBAC