How to Grow a Gratsy

Let me tell you about Sandy.  I met Sandy ten years ago at Columbia International University.  Although we were never bosom buddies, I knew then she was a kindred spirit.   Recently, we’ve reconnected and I have really enjoyed reading her blog, How to Grow a Gratsy.   As only a kindred spirit can do, she says things straight from my own heart.  Except that she is a way cooler version of me.

But I want to review this blog for you on its own merits, so, first of all, let’s talk about the name.  How cool is it?  1.) Alliteration is my favorite literary device. 2.) It tells you exactly what the blog is about; it focuses on parenthood and 3.) as Sandy says herself, it is all-inclusive of parenthood; the Gratsy’s will be growing their son, Malachi, in many ways over the course of his whole life.

Now, the photography.  All good blogs have good images, and family blogs must have photography.  Not only is the header really awesome (Joshua, Malachi and Sandy lean into the camera on the ground and give big, cheesy smiles; the pose fits a header perfectly and it is really welcoming.) but there are visuals of everything — Malachi bonding with his daddy, Malachi looking cute in his cloth diaper, etc.   It really helps you connect and feel.

Content.  Sandy is an authentic author, offering pointed advice (such as “Just do it!” to cloth diapering) mixed with humility (“Hey, I do this, too.” and “This isn’t tried and tested.”).  She’s honest about things like being frustrated with a crying newborn and even trying a drop of Benadryl when all else had failed.   And she’s genuine in the sentimental post, “This is Life.”

Readability. This should be a given in any blog, but I honestly appreciate Sandy’s competence in introducing a topic and transitioning you to the main points. I also like her lists and can’t help but notice the way she wraps things up and leaves you with a feeling, not just information.

Involvement. Sandy’s pretty consistent about answering questions in her comments and provides plenty of opportunities to connect, providing links to her Twitter profile, Blogger profile and RSS feed.   Currently, she’s doing a giveaway to encourage more connections.  It’s been pretty effective for me: I realized I didn’t follow Sandy on Twitter or Blogger.  I didn’t think about reviewing How to Grow a Gratsy until just a few moments ago, but I also hope the giveaway encourages you to read Sandy’s blog.

I do know I look forward to reading posts from Sandy.  Recently, she challenged me to be more hospitable.  I told her, I’m almost ready to start working on that.  But I think I’d rather try cloth diapering first!  😛  I can’t wait to see what other heartstrings she tugs/shows me how to be a cooler version of myself.

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Stuff Christians Like

If you haven’t read the website Stuff Christians Like, you should. It’s a blog that parodies Christian culture exactly the way Stuff White People Like parodies yuppy culture. Only Jon Acuff, author of the rip off, posts more often. (What is Christian Lander doing these days anyway?) And while Lander, of SWPL, scientifically analyzes White People in order to give minorities hilarious advice, Acuff’s satire is targeted more towards those it pokes at, with fun lists to check whether or not the topics apply to you, and more purposeful – as the author puts it, he tries to “clear away the clutter of Christianity, so people can see Christ.”

The blog is now a book, with the most popular posts, such as the “Side Hug” and some original essays, making it all the website is and more. The first essay, written for the book, is entitled, “Ranking Honeymoon Sex Slightly Higher than the Second Coming of Christ.” I let my father-in-law, a preacher, borrow this book and he opened it immediately. Suddenly, he was laughing so hard he could hardly breathe (which is kind of scary, since he’s had heart problems in the past); all of us present at the time of me handing him the book switched to alert mode, ready to dial 911. When he finally composed himself, he said, “The…first…chapter!” My husband and I smiled wryly and my mother-in-law looked puzzled, as if to say, “What on earth can be that funny?” When my father-in-law finally blurted out the title, he followed it up with, “You don’t know how many times I’ve heard ‘I just want to have sex first and then Christ can return!’”

As I said before, these essays are targeted towards those on the inside to help them see how ridiculous they can be. It’s almost like looking at oneself from the outside and I don’t doubt that many non-evangelical Christians or non-Christians will find the book just as entertaining I and my Christian friends did. If you’re reading this and you don’t get the above paragraph because you can’t relate and don’t have a Christian friend or co-worker, well, this book explains a lot of those weird bumper stickers. Although you may still need a guide at times. And you must be brave, my friend, very brave.

If you are reading this and you can relate to the “Side Hug” or “Ranking Honeymoon Sex Slightly Higher than the Second Coming of Christ,” well, this book is definitely for you. You will laugh but you will also grit your teeth. You will feel conviction and you will feel righteous indignation. But most of all, you will see the Church as Christ sees her, I think, because Acuff doesn’t get nasty and I think God also has a sense of humor. It can’t be easy, stripping people naked and then making them laugh yet properly ashamed of how they look rather than feeling humiliated and/or angry. But this is what Acuff does and continues to do on his blog every day.