Books - April 19, 2020

What Duncan’s Reading, Listening To, & Learning During Quarantine

Hi friends! I have a really exciting post for y’all today ALL from Duncan! It was all his idea, which made me really excited because he has never done anything like this before! He’s such a wealth of knowledge and if anything, you’ve *got* to check out his AMAZING playlist he put together for us during quarantine. This is the music that we’ve had playing in the background of so many of my instagram stories lately! It’s such a good list!

duncan butler guide to quarantine

I don’t think he knew I took this photo lol but it’s cute! I took it at the very beginning of quarantine when he first starting working at home.

And now I’ll pass the baton over to Duncan! Everything from here on out in the post is written by him! Well, I made the playlist graphic (I couldn’t figure out how to embed it here so I just made a cute little graphic). And then I also added the images – he refused to have a photo shoot for this blog post even though I told him it was *neccessary*, he said I’d just have to figure it out because his “content” was confined to copy only lol. So the photos are added by me!

Also for the record, Duncan had actually titled this blog post “Quixotic Quarantine” but I didn’t know what that meant so I made the title a little more simple. But I wanted to mention it because I appreciated the alliteration – ha! But For real now, I’m leaving.

Hope you enjoy! Be sure to comment below and let us know what you thought! This is Duncan’s FIRST blog post ever on here so let’s give him lots of support in the comments :)

xo, B

What I’m Learning, Reading, and Listening To During Quarantine

Ok, so hand up over here, this quarantine season has been very challenging for me. The descriptor-word I’ll use is “exposed” since it has repeatedly crossed my mind in the preceding weeks. Undoubtedly, this season has exposed my heart’s idolatry, it’s ugliness. It’s exposed where I have placed my hope and my value. So much of this season has revealed how much I prioritize the temporal: accomplishment, status or reputation, control, hard work/effort and on and on down the list I go. Unsurprisingly, in parallel symmetry, I’ve also seen that the gratitude in my heart is ugly and insufficient. That my heart posture needs work – not just in this season but sanctification for the seasons of life to come.

But within that exposure and personal conviction, a positive thread has come to life in me as of late: God adores me personally and individually, Jesus died for me in His perfect love, and he’s been unimaginably gracious to show me my shortcomings and my need for sanctification in a way that is free of unendurable pain or hardship. God loves me enough to prune me. To cut me down where I need to be chopped. To admonish me. To take my shame and guilt and convert it to a state of genuine humility. To bless me in this season of absolute uncertainty with some #absolutetruth: His work on the Cross is permanent and Heaven is for all those who call upon His name and confess He is Lord. As David Crowder’s masterpiece lyrics below cite “we are His ‘portion’” and that His grace for our unending stupidity and sinfulness is like falling into the middle of the ocean without sight of any land: limitless and unfathomable.

And we are His portion and He is our prize, Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.

And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss. And my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets, When I think about the way…That He loves us.

David Crowder Band, How He Loves

So, with that said, I told Brighton I’d share what I’ve been learning, listening to, and reading during this season.

Music I’m Listening To During Quarantine

I’m a big music-lover so I hope you enjoy the soundtrack of our quarantined lives. I am from Austin, TX so I think I have to say that I’m a big music person btw. Anyways, a couple specific themes I’ll call out:

In times of difficulty or turbulence, there are a couple artists who I’ve always turned to since as far back as High School. During this quarantine period, it’s been no different. To name a few: The Avett Brothers, Eric Church, David Crowder, Bruce Springsteen, and George Strait for whatever reason, have had lyrics-tied-to-melodies that help emote feelings/experiences that I sometimes just can’t express without an external impetus.

I love the music of the 60s and 70s. My dad raised me on the good stuff. Lately, we loved flipping to this portion of the playlist when we are cooking (#tuscanchicken) – knowing it’ll likely give way to spontaneous sponge-mic solos and blissful kitchen dance parties.

In this season of being pretty abruptly “exposed,” I’ve found myself dwelling on a couple Christian artists and their songs. Every morning I go for a “devotional walk” and typically listen through (read: belt out loud) a couple of these.

I’ve been particularly drawn to Shane & Shane’s ‘Though You Slay Me’ as well as Jimmy McNeal’s entire collection. His covers of Come Thou Fount and How Deep the Father’s Love for Us will forever be associated with our Quarantined Easter Celebration (1st married Easter Sunday as a couple).

And lastly, we’ve been eating up the richness of David Crowder’s collection. I give a lot of credit to his song, Come as You Are, for my late-life conversion to Christianity after college. It’s nothing new but it points me back to truth more times than not.

What I’ve Been Reading During Quarantine

I’m an avid, fast reader and will literally read anything recommended to me. Below, I’ve listed the books I’ve read/am reading the last couple weeks. At any given time during a year, I typically am actively reading a biography, a non-fiction, a fiction, and a Christian book.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Patterson

Here’s some quick gold from the book:

And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let God do it his way and in his time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand that God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it. That is not hoping in God but bullying God. “I pray to GOD-my life a prayer-and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.

Out of Solitude by Henri Nouwen

What a great time for this book! Acclaimed Author and Theologian, Henri Nouwen invites us into explore the tension of rest/solitude vs. the demands of contemporary life. Through this easy-read, Henri profoundly, yet simply, guides us to this simple lesson: Jesus found the courage to follow God’s will through solitude and rest. He didn’t DO more, he rested more. He rested in his Father’s love, affection, and grace. In a season of quarantine, this is a great read.

The Return of The Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

If you haven’t picked it up before, I always mention Henri Nouwen’s remarkable, ground-breaking book: The Return of the Prodigal Son. So many of my mentors over the years have shared how they revisit this book every year as a reminder that we are always both characters in this Prodigal Son bible-story: 1) the Prodigal Son and 2) the older, punitive, condemning brother.

Nouwen accomplishes it by incorporating Rembrandt’s incredibly famous work of art: The Return of the Prodigal Son painting directly into the arc and narrative of the book. Routinely, Nouwen has his readers meditate on Rembrandt’s imagery and let that meditation renew a heart for spirituality in a new and different way. I had never done a Christian book like this. It was impactful to say the least.

Where the Redfern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Attention BTD Moms! This is your next quarantine book if your kids haven’t read it yet! Yes, of course it is a tear-jerker, but I still get fired up reading about the boy’s steadfast, discipline to save up the money to buy the dogs, how he trained them with diligence and care, and how he loved them to the point of utter heartbreak. I read this, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince every year.

Buying God: Consumerism & Society by Eve Pool

Last year, my Bible Study spent most of the year examining and studying Charitable Giving. What does the bible tell us? How do I feel about it? And what am I supposed to do with it? Etc.

What came from that study has been the next ladder on the rung: a study of consumerism/materialism. We are just getting into it, but I will be curious to see what this book and the others we read have to say about “stuff” and how much God call us to accumulate. Stay tuned.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This book has been out awhile but its remarkable. New York Times best seller etc. Here’s what the Gospel Coalition had to say about it. It sells itself IMO.

Podcasts I’m Listening To During Quarantine

I’m a big runner and have competed in some pretty cool races across the country over the years. When I run, 9 out of 10 times, I’m listening to a podcast. Right now, I’ve been listening to a bunch of people who make me laugh – normally about sports.

Bussin’ with the Boys by Will Compton and Taylor Lewan

These guys are awesome, funny, and currently play pro football. I’ve been an almost day 1 listener mostly because we are very close in age, and I relate to some of the life experiences, outside of the NFL, they talk through on their show.

Pardon My Take

The #1 sports podcast in the world. Barstool’s flagship podcast. Not always “appropriate,” I still tune into Big Cat and PFT Commenter weekly.

As I mentioned, I’ve found this quarantine season to be challenging. As part of this sanctifying season, I’ve drawn meaningful encouragement from these songs, podcasts and books. Truth be told, sharing my life is not of any interest to me. I’ve always been very private and hyper-independent. And yet, I intentionally married the love of my life whose occupation is inherently public in nature (God’s comedic-voice is beautiful lol). Because of this dynamic, I try to make efforts for this blog, albeit small, to engage with Brighton on her home-turf even though its 100% unfamiliar to me (I know who none of you are!).

It’s probably a little clumsy, but this is one of those efforts to meet my wife in her interests and passions. I’ll never fit the insta-husband profile because that’s not how I’m put together, but I am deeply interested in my wife knowing that I am more than just an observer – that I deeply care and will put myself out there in exchange for the knowing look she sometimes gives that simply says “you get me, all of the good and bad, and you sincerely care.”

I’ll end with this. God is at work in my life. He’s also involved in the minute details of your life. His hands are never too full. His power is never stifled. And his plans are always perfect. This season is filled with turbulence, disappointment, frustration, heartbreak, and on-going fear and uncertainty. In the face of that, we pray God will keep our eyes on his hope which is eternal and will never disappoint.

God has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. You are as much alone with him as if you were the only being he had ever created.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity