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Monday, June 18, 2012

Becoming Grownup (First Anniversary Reflections)

A year has passed. One year, and so many moments of deciding that I am not ready to be a grownup. I wouldn't hinder it, and I wouldn't give up the blessings. But I still don't feel ready. I have learned that

1. The times when I know just how much I love someone are often the times when I am incredibly frustrated, either because of them or in their behalf. Because then I realize how much it hurts to see them in error when I want so badly for them to reach their utmost potential, and how much I would give to heal the ache in their eyes.

2. Some nights, even a grownup just wants mommy.

3. Westley was right—life IS pain. Humans are too faulty and love is too strong for it to be anything else. I am just beginning to understand how blissfully ignorant I was as a little girl of the hurts in the world—how often friends slip away, couples tear apart, and invisible walls grow like weeds.

4. Some days, dropping a stick of butter feels like the end of the world.

5. Being in charge of a household (or being the wife of the one in charge) is a lot scarier than being a child in one. It's like sitting on the bumper when before, you always got the booster in the back seat. You sketched out a map before you left, but it blew away...there's a drop-off on one side...and who (or Who) is standing on that gas pedal...?

But as I said in the beginning...I wouldn't give up the blessings. I have also learned that

1. Contrary to my expectations (due to a remark once made by one of my parents about their early years), not every couple hates each other the first year of marriage. I won't say I never lose touch with the fluttery side of things, but there you have it. I like him.

2. Husbands will hug you as tightly as you want whenever you need it. And they will startle you by (really truly) thinking you're gorgeous on your most nightmarish hair days.

3. The movement of new life inside me...it's just one of the best feelings in the whole world. It panics me every now and then with its vastness of implications, but I am learning a different sort of love than I ever knew before, and it gives me joy.

4. I may not write quite so many long letters and emails...but my loving friends always seem to be there, ready to challenge and comfort me as ever.

5. God never fails to love me more than I understand. I constantly fall short of honoring His love (I can't nearly say I try my best, even), however, I'm trying to at least merit the description 'a work in progress.'

These lessons perhaps make my life sound more sobering than it has been. Really, it's beautiful, and I wouldn't switch places with anyone on earth. My trials have been very petty so far, and when I'm not crying (pregnancy hormones, anyone?) I'm laughing at my foolishness. But I can only imagine the fright of a newborn baby as it emerges into the atmosphere we call normality. I am a baby grown-up, and the world is too big and too bright. Just give me time. I'm still a little scared.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Maternity Leave

Well everyone,

With pregnancy, nesting, preparing to move, job craziness for my husband, and all that jazz we call life, I really haven't had much inspiration for this little nook of the web. So I decided I might as well make it official and let myself off of the hook--just in case y'all were expecting to see more of me over the Summer.

May God be with you all during the next few months. I look forward to sharing all about the birth of my daughter!

Huffing and puffing (I know I had ankle bones at some point in the past),

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Should Christians Celebrate? Part II--Does God Like Holidays?

Photo credit: data9090

Before I step any farther into the topic of Christians and holidays, I need to note that I do not believe the setting aside of any day besides the Lord's Day is required by God. Paul writes in Romans 14,

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

We are given a tremendous amount of liberty in this area. My family may celebrate Christmas, Resurrection Day, and whatever else, but if you don't believe it would glorify God for your family to do so, please understand that I have no problem with that whatsoever. There are huge issues with the major holidays celebrated in our country today, and I can think of plenty of valid reasons why a household may decide that it's not enough of a priority to justify the struggle. The Baucham family, for instance, has chosen not to observe Christmas in their household. You can read their reasons here, and I greatly respect the stance they have made.

So this is not a question of whether holidays are lawful, but of whether they are profitable. My first question, as mentioned in my introduction, is this: Does God like holidays?

By the way, when I say “holiday,” I mean a day in which normal life's routines are set aside in some fashion to commemorate or celebrate an event or person. Dictionary.com says it a little fancier:

A day fixed by law or custom on which ordinary business is suspended in commemoration of some event or in honor of some person.”

First I want to look at a few examples of sentiments proclaimed throughout the Psalms.

Psalm 78:

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might,
and the wonders that He has done.”

Psalm 105:

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon His name;
make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
tell of all His wondrous works!”

Psalm 111:

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.”

In these verses we see
   ~Remembering God's works
   ~Studying God's works
   ~Proclaiming God's works

As well as
   ~Praising Him for them
   ~Thanking Him for them.

These are all shown as worthy activities for children of God, and I think I'm going to venture to roll them all up into one verb: celebrate. If the above verses don't sound celebratory enough, try Psalm 98:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!”

As far as whether or not God approves of celebration in the form of holidays, i.e. certain days of the year being set apart to celebrate specific works which He has done, a look at Leviticus 23 will reveal that for His people, He mandated it. And have you read those requirements? That is a lot of holiday for one year.

Because of the Romans verse, I don't believe these feasts are mandated in the New Covenant, but neither have they been obliterated (although certain aspects of them, such as sacrifices, have). So I think that yes, holidays can be a legitimate form of celebration for the follower of Christ. 

What about the extra-biblical holidays that many of us celebrate today? This brings forward our next question, to be discussed in Part 3...

Does God Like Our Holidays?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Should Christians Celebrate? Part I--Did Christ Eat Rabbit?

Well, Resurrection Day has come and gone—as we can all tell from the chocolate rabbits and plastic eggs lining our local clearance aisles. So am I the only one missing a connection between the cross and the bunny?

 Christ fed the multitudes, but I think he used fish—and they did eat bread at the Last Supper, but I don't see loaves of Mrs. Baird's hidden among the green cellophane at Wal-Mart. Let's see, we're getting closer. . . after He was crucified, they gave Him some nasty wine, and when He rose and appeared to the disciples, I know He ate something. Maybe that's where the eggs come in—or did he eat rabbit?

 Um—nope. It says He ate fish again. Huh. I'd expect to at least see some goldfish crackers in the purple baskets. That would make sense.

 Oh, wait. That's the Easter Bunny, not the Resurrection Day Bunny. Never mind, sorry. My bad. I think I have it now—two holidays colliding on the same day?

 It sounds right, but that can't be it. No, certainly not. Because how does that explain this?

Bunny Tomb Empty image
                                              Easter Christian Graphics 

 I am so confused.

 From what I've heard, I'm not the only one who is wondering or has wondered in the past why we celebrate the way we do, and whether or not the benefits outweigh the effort. Does God like holidays? Does He like ours? And if He does...does He like the way we're celebrating them?

 This is a topic which has become increasingly important to me, and I quickly realized that one blog post wasn't going to suffice for everything I wanted to look at. So I hope you'll return for the second installment of my series 'Should Christians Celebrate?' and I'll give you my thoughts on whether or not God approves of holidays.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pickled in Christ?

I found this gem in my Greek New Testament Lexicon while researching baptism for my husband. It can, I believe, be safely asserted that I have never heard salvation explained in quite this way before...

"'The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo [vs. 'bapto'] is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words.

Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in asolution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change.

When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g.Mark 16:16. 'He that believes and is baptised shall be saved'. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!'

(Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.)"

A joyous Resurrection Sunday to all of my fellow Pickles in the Lord!


Friday, March 30, 2012

What Not To Wear...but Why?

                           (Photo credit: www.jupiterimages.com--cropped by me)

For the past month or so, I have enoyed watching episodes of TLC's TV show "What Not To Wear" when I'm wiped out in the evenings or I want something to focus on while I fold laundry. I tried Say Yes to the Dress, and it only depressed me. (Thousands of dollars for one dress to make the bride feel like the star of the show? What happened to representing the Church and setting the focus on Christ?)

I'm analytical. I can't help it. So I keep wondering what it is that brings me back to What Not To Wear. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this reality show, it runs in the vein of "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition," but for individuals instead of houses. 

Each episode features someone who has been nominated by her friends and family because they feel like she needs help learning how to dress (and they're right). Stacey London and Clinton Kelly offer her $5,000 towards a shopping spree in New York if she will agree to toss whatever clothes they dislike out of her current wardrobe and follow their shopping rules. The participant is sent home with her new clothes, and a new hairstyle and makeup. I haven't seen an episode yet in which she leaves unhappy, or her family is not ecstatic with the things she has learned about looking presentable.

Why do I feel like Clinton and Stacey are bettering these peoples' lives with what they teach even though I don't agree with a lot of the attitudes they promote? I don't think a slouchy dresser needs to “love herself,” or “show off her great body,” and I don't think the issue should resolve with a person making more “me-time” for herself because by golly, she's amazing, and she needs to accept that she just deserves it. That viewpoint only makes clothing a reinforcement of the pride we as followers of Christ are working so hard to beat out of our nature.

Skyrocketing self-esteem won't get us closer to God—but WNTW is getting something right. I hadn't been able to pinpoint it until suddenly today they said something that made it all click.
“You're dressing like you don't want to be here.”

That I understood. Dressing nicely and appropriately is not about showing people how much I love myself because I rock the world. It's about saying, “I love being here.”

I love my calling. I love the people I'm around. I love the home in which God has placed me as the wife, mother, and domestic artist. Sure, I can throw on a t-shirt and a stained skirt to sweep and wash dishes. I can even socialize with my neighbors with unbrushed hair and pajama pants sticking out from under my skirt. But it sends an “I don't care” message, and that's the last thing I want to say about the position I have been given.

This is the reason to pay attention to the clothes I put on. It's not about appreciating myself, it's about appreciating my situation—my work, my family, and my brothers and sisters in Christ.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rain Music

Hello Everyone...I know I am a failed blogger. I have many posts bouncing around in my head right now, I just haven't had the motivation to sit down and write them. And when I tried the other day, for some reason it just wasn't...ringing, if you know what I mean. It didn't flow. So I didn't post it. I'm sorry. But while a few other thoughts simmer, here is one of my favorite poems. It perfectly fits such a rainy first day of spring, does it not? 


   Rain Music
     by Joseph S. Cotter, Jr.

ON the dusty earth-drum
  Beats the falling rain;
Now a whispered murmur,
  Now a louder strain.
Slender, silvery drumsticks,        
  On an ancient drum,
Beat the mellow music
  Bidding life to come.
Chords of earth awakened,
  Notes of greening spring,       
Rise and fall triumphant
  Over every thing.
Slender, silvery drumsticks
  Beat the long tattoo—
God, the Great Musician,        
  Calling life anew.

Photo Credit: www.morguefile.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

Home Planning and N. N. S.

For the past few days, I've been back into the swing of planning my housework organization. Notice I said “planning.” None of this has been really put into practice yet, so I can't attest to the efficiency or practicality of it. These are just my brainstorms—or, to be perfectly honest, I could call them the result of NNS. (That's “Nestless Nesting Syndrome.” The result of pregnancy while waiting to move from the trailer into the real house.)

After going back over the menu planning idea I shared a while back, I decided I could use a little more specification. So I'm going to try choosing one meat per week. A week's dinner menu might look something like this:

Week 1: Chicken

Chicken soup
Barbeque chicken and mashed potatoes
Parmesan Chicken on spaghetti noodles
Chicken and Rice
Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Or something to that effect. It's eating one meat all week, but every dish will taste different enough that even my variety-loving husband said it sounded like a good idea. This way, if I catch a good sale, I can choose that meat for the week and save some pennies. And usually, between his parents, my parents, and a meal out now and again, we'll have variety even within the week.

Also, inspired by Lindsay's post “How to Wash All Your Laundry in One Day,” I decided to look up the weekly chore list Ma Ingalls used in the Little House books. There are plenty of other versions online, but of course Little House is very nostalgic for me, and who can say no to a literary reference?

So I've been trying to come up with a modern schedule which corrolates to that which the Ingalls' used. Some are easy—I don't have to mess much with “Wash on Monday.” However, I haven't gotten quite to the point of making my own butter, so “Churn on Thursday” required a little creativity. The prototype looks like this:

Wash on Monday

Laundry, Extra dishes, Surfaces

Iron on Tuesday

Clothes put away, Surfaces clear

Mend on Wednesday

Sewing, Repo, Home fixes

Churn on Thursday

Fresh expendable supplies—mayo, dressings, cleaners

Clean on Friday

Bathrooms, Cupboards, Windows

Bake on Saturday

Bread, Cookies, Treats

Rest on Sunday.

I'm curious to know how my more seasoned housekeeping readers would see this.

Monday, January 30, 2012

In Which I Speak Randomly

Well, it's been about a month I suppose...a month of growing this baby and stretching my clothes and trying not to sniff because even if things don't smell bad, I just have the feeling that I'm not meant to be smelling them at such a high intensity. I'd really rather some things just not have a smell at all.

Newer developments might include (for the worse) crying fits which spring from nowhere, constant fatigue, and (for the better) less stomach queasiness, which is cancelling out the tiredness enough that I actually have a few clear surfaces around here. It's quite uplifting, actually.

But apparently last Friday, an arch enemy found out about my newfound feelings of happiness and worth and decided that it simply could not be allowed. Hence, the evilness which is called Stomach Virus invaded my abode and being, and promptly tried its best to...well, I'd say kill me, but that's rather dramatic. I suppose it only wanted to yank my stomach up my throat.

Now I'm recovering, and over the weekend I have amassed a few opinions on random subjects which I have decided to share with you.

The first: “Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.”
I thought this G. K. Chesterton quote would look perfect on a maternity shirt, and said so on Facebook via status update. My sister-in-law thinks it would be degrading, and perhaps that is the popular opinion—seeing that nobody replied to my status. I think it's a great anti-feminist metaphor, but hey. I've been wrong before.

The second: “Wives and Daughters” is such a beautiful story. I watched the movie again while convalescing on the couch, and it rather frustrates me how most of the comments I read are women swooning for Roger, when while Roger is indeed a stellar character, there are so many other people with traits to highlight. When I put myself in Molly's shoes, my admiration for her obedience towards her father even in living life with such an awful stepmother puts me in awe. The love of Squire and Mrs. Hamley in their old age is such a beautiful thing, and even the second Mrs. Gibson's character is astounding in that no matter how hard she “tries” to please a person, it always leads back to her own comfort or her social standing. Elizabeth Gaskell has earned applause for more than a handsome hero.

And the third: No matter how many times I try to get over it, Sam Tsui irritates me more every time I watch him sing. He has a good voice, which is why I even make the effort. But it's like he's sure he's the hottest thing since buttered toast, and that just kills the mood for me.

Enjoy February!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January: A Poem


      Again I reply to the triple winds
      running chromatic fifths of derision
      outside my window:
      Play louder.

      You will not succeed. I am
      bound more to my sentences
      the more you batter at me
      to follow you.
       And the wind,
      as before, fingers perfectly
      its derisive music.

      William Carlos Williams