Thursday, August 14, 2014

No Small Moments

I've been reading through the Bible for, like, four years. Maybe five. And I'm only in 1 Samuel. Clearly, I've taken a few detours along the way.

The story of Saul becoming the first king of Israel isn't new to me, but when I read how Saul was called to kingship by the prophet Samuel, I seriously didn't remember the details. Do you know how many weird, insignificant things had to happen for Saul to run into Samuel and for Samuel to name Saul king? A lot. Here's a brief list:

  • Saul's father's donkeys went missing.
  • Of all his sons, Saul's father asked Saul to go look for the donkeys.
  • Saul walked all over tarnation to find those donkeys and couldn't find them.
  • Just when he was about to give up, his servant happened to know that a "seer" (Samuel) was in a nearby village and suggested they go see him about the donkey situation.
  • Saul says they need to pay the seer but they don't have money. Oh wait. The servant has some. Perfect.
  • On their way to the village, Saul and his servant happen to walk by some girls going to draw water, and ask them if they've seen the seer. They have.
  • Samuel had just arrived in their town that day
  • Samuel was on his way to a banquet, and the people wouldn't eat until he was arrived. If Saul found him too late, he'd have to wait a while to talk with him. 
  • Saul finds Samuel in time (and God had told Samuel the day before that he would meet Saul at that place and time...the banquet was actually for him, even though he hadn't shown up yet).
Y'all, a donkey hunt is the way God chose to anoint the first king over His people. Every one of those details individually is insignificant; you wouldn't think twice about the fact that a servant has a little change in his pocket. Girls going to get water in the middle of the day? Okay, yeah, that happens. But without each of those details working in concert, Saul may not have been the king of Israel. 

This isn't an isolated story. It's all over the Bible, all over our lives. And it's not a new story. I know all about "divine appointments" and God's sovereignty. But it hit me freshly this week, and I needed the reminder that I'm part of an infinitely bigger story than I can sense or see, that my moments matter.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mattress buying 101

The mattress we sleep on is at least 20 years old, and while it's not necessarily causing us any discomfort, it just seems like it's time. I mean, who really knows the lifespan of a mattress anyway? One website told me "2-20"years. Thanks for that. My arbitrary rule (before doing any research) for determining whether not we needed a new one: take the average number of years you're supposed to replace mattresses and double it. If ours was significantly over that, it'd be time.

Turns out, the average mattress lifespan is 6-8 years (according to the people who want to sell you mattresses), so taking the higher end of that and doubling it, our mattress is way past its prime. My guess is that, while we're aren't particularly uncomfortable on our mattress, any new mattress would feel better; we don't know what we're missing.
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Thus, we began our research phase. We watched a short Consumer Reports video, read multiple online reviews and explanations, and even went into a couple of mattress stores to lie down on plush mattress after plush mattress. The verdict? It's a crapshoot. Some say coils are just as good as foam; others say foam is the way of the future and the best out there. Some are advertised as "firm" but really aren't and others are advertised as soft but are firm. There are no standard terms in the mattress biz, so two mattresses can sound completely different even though they're essentially the same mattress, which confuses the heck out of us consumers who are just trying to get a good night's sleep.

And then there are the names for the mattresses.
  • "Beautyrest Recharge Palisades Court Luxury Firm Pillowtop"
  • "Serta IComfort Brilliant EFX Luxury Plush Mattress"
  • And other variations including words like "Rhapsody, "Cloud," "Symphony," "Majesty," "Crystal City," "Lily-Rose," and "Lux Estate." 
If they're trying to do the whole "Use-wealthy-words-so-I-believe-this-mattress-will-make-me-feel-rich-and-important," then they've used the wrong ad technique on me. I can't even make it through the mouthful of adjectives. Sheesh. 

The bottom line: No one really knows host to decipher the mysteries of the mattress world, so lie down on several and pick the one you like. End of story. 

Okay, a few addendums (helpful hints we picked up along the way):
  1. Never pay more than 50% of the original price. Mattresses go on sale all the time, so wait for the sale.
  2. Unless a video game character jumped out of the TV and slashed your mattress to pieces with a machete, mattress buying isn't an emergency. Wait for the deal.
  3. Check return policies carefully; mattresses can be a pain to return.
Fast forward a week and a half of researching (many thanks to Phil, who made this new mattress his mission). WE'VE FOUND A MATTRESS! It's a Saatva mattress and is actually online. Sounds shady, I know. I mean, we haven't even tried it out. BUT. Just watch this video and tell me you don't love it. It's a four-year-old mom and pop company. It's rated "best mattress" in Google searches and multiple independent mattress review sites. It has an incredible (unheard of, really) return policy. There's almost 100% customer satisfaction. It makes mattress buying easy and straightforward (thank you!). It's half the cost of comparable mattresses you can buy in a store because it cuts out a lot of middle men.

The mattress should be at our house in the next 8-18 days, so I'll let you know the official verdict, but we're ready to sleep on clouds! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book reviews

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
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This is one of those hot books that I felt like I should read because everyone I knew said I needed to read it. Then I read it, and now I'm telling you that you need to read it. Seriously good. It's like a history lesson, a sociology lecture, and an interesting writer all smashed into each other at the same time and this is what came of it. Gladwell traces patterns of success in various "successful" groups of people--hockey players, geniuses, billionaires. His conclusions are unexpected and turn how you think about success--and how people get there--on its head. I felt more informed and thoughtful after reading it, and the last chapter on education was particularly interesting to me as a teacher. Highly recommend!

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
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Technically, I'm not finished with this one, but I'd pretty much recommend any of this guy's books before I even opened them, and I'm almost finished. I haven't read a marriage book in years--probably since I got married nearly a decade ago--but our small group at church decided to go through this book together, and it's been challenging and encouraging all at once. A must-read for pretty much anyone--married, single, thinking about marriage. It's full of substance, light on fluff, and while Keller tends to write fairly heady books, he includes enough practical and personal examples that it's understandable and meaningful and so very rooted in the gospel. Highly recommend!

It Looked Different on the Model by Laurie Notaro
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Nothing comes close to the humor in Mindy Kaling's Everyone's Hanging Out Without Me, but I was needing a light read for our trip to Canada and came across this title while perusing a New York Times Bestseller list. And I loved it. It's hard to get me to laugh out loud when reading, but I did on several occasions in this book, much to the amusement of my plane-mates. The book is nonfiction and each chapter is a stand-alone piece about her life, which made it easy to put down and pick up as needed, but also easy to read "just one more chapter" and finish the whole thing in a few hours. (Disclaimer: total ladies book--sorry, men!) A great little read!