Friday, October 30, 2009

A Hymn to God the Father

A Hymn to God the Father
by: John Donne

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin through which I run,
And do run still: though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin by which I have won
Others to sin? and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two: but wallowed in a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
Swear by thyself, that at my death, thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done,
I fear no more.

This is my memorization passage for October. I was a little late getting around to it, but I made it!!

What's That Stench? Part 2

So, how do we learn to live inside that smelly ark we call The Church with all those stinking sinners?

First of all, we need to change our expectations so that we are less easily disillusioned. Remember who your brothers are...fallen humans...bent hnau, every one...with a remaining propensity to act as sons of the first Adam. Don't just know it theoretically and theologically. Remember it and believe it!

Think, for a moment, how easily we take for granted the birth of a perfectly whole, healthy baby whose every system functions flawlessly. We assume this is "normal" because it happens so frequently and we even come to expect it. Only when a child is born with some manner of "defect," are we forced to contemplate how very many things could go wrong and how very often they all go very right! And we give thanks.

So it is in the Body of Christ. How very many sins and divisions could constantly plague the Body, but how often everything functions as it should...with brothers living faithfully in love for Christ, one another and living sacrificially for the life of the world. And here again, we give thanks.

So, when I say we must change our expectations regarding our brothers, I do not mean that we live in constant anticipation that our brother will fall, anymore than we should assume that something will go wrong with the baby. But neither should we expect or assume that our brother will NOT fall. As with the baby, we must believe that the possibilities for failure are numerous and real and that this reality extends to every member of the body, however seemingly impervious to temptation. In this attitude, we cannot be caught entirely off-guard when our brother sins.

If we truly believe our brothers are sinful and capable of falling, we will be compelled to act on their behalf. We will intercede for them, especially in areas where we perceive their weakness or vulnerability. We will watch over them in such a way that we can help shield them from unnecessary temptation, encourage them in love and good works, build up their weaknesses and discover useful means of service for their strengths so that they remain an integral part of the Body.

In addition to interceding and watching over, we must also be ready to warn, rebuke and restrain when we see that our brother is in danger. If he already knows our love, he will likely receive our admonition willingly and we may snatch him from destruction. But we will never engage in this duty unless we believe our brother a true sinner. We will talk ourselves out of the possibility that he is vulnerable and therefore won't risk alienating him by pointing up his potential pitfalls.

Another word on this subject from Mr. Bonhoeffer's Life Together: "When does sin ever occur in the community that [the Christian] must not examine and blame himself for his own unfaithfulness in prayer and intercession, his lack of brotherly service, of fraternal reproof and encouragement...?"

We have a measure of responsibility for the other members of the Body which we ought to take seriously and execute dutifully. It requires engagement, watchfulness, courage and sacrificial love. When we know and remember our brother's frame, that he is dust, we cease to be shocked when he sins.

The next way I learn to live in the stench of the Ark/Church, is to remember that I myself am one of those brothers made of dust and my own propensity to fall is great. Therefore, I must practice intercession for myself, watch over and guard my own heart diligently, and allow God's Word to illumine my sin and caution me to forsake it. BUT...just as surely as my brother needs my help, I need his! I must be honest enough to allow others to see my weaknesses so they can intercede on my behalf; be willing to be watched over by my brothers; and be humble enough to receive and take to heart their warnings and admonitions which can lead to early repentance, avoiding the grand consequences of more serious sin.

If I am honest about and with my brother and with and about myself, I will be less astonished and more prepared to live in the stench of both his sin and mine.

So I alter my expectations to include the reality that my brother and I will sin...and not just "petty" easily forgiven sins, but BIG, in-your-face, hurtful sins. But when it actually happens, THEN what?

Next time...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What's That Stench? Part 1: Even the Righteous Man Sins

The pastors and teachers with whom the Lord has graciously gifted His people, have long recognized Noah's Ark as a symbol of The Church. By faith, we, like Noah, enter that door and are closed safely inside as we pass through the waters to deliverance. Thanks be to God.

But think about it for a moment. For Noah and company, what must it have been like to be shut up for months with a host of animals and with one another, with no escape or respite? Imagine the constant labor to meet all the needs, and then...imagine the stench that must have permeated the place!

So it is inside the ark of The Church. Here we are...shut up together and forced to endure the resulting stench! Remember all those OT references to bodily "issues" which make a man unclean? Ultimately these laws teach us that whatever comes from within a man - that is, from his heart - is unclean. Just as the sight and smell of those bodily issues are repulsive, so is the uncleanness which proceeds from our hearts.

When we consider that individual reality, then multiply it for every occupant of this ship, we have a sense of the corporate, cumulative effect inside the Ark/Church...and it can be staggeringly disgusting.

But wait! Hasn't the one who has been received into the Church been washed and made clean? Has not his heart been transformed and renewed? Indeed it has! But remember that even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags and King Solomon tells us that one of the great mysteries of life is that even the man who has been made righteous, sins!

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon speaks of this mystery as one of the great unsolvable dilemmas of life under the sun. "You cannot find it out." In our desperate struggle to understand this enigma, we will be as frustrated as if we were attempting to "corral the wind". Pastor Jeff Meyers, in his commentary on Ecclesiastes, says this, "Like Solomon, the wise person knows the depravity of man - both his own and others - and learns to live in terms of it. That is the sort of know-how that wisdom brings: the ability to live in a world of sinners, but living in such a world is not the same as being able to explain or comprehend sinful human nature. Even those known as righteous will sin. On some occasions, a righteous man will fail. We cannot afford to forget that there are limitations on all men and women. No one is perfectly wise. All sin.

"The wise man has discovered the ineradicable sinfulness of man and he has learned to deal with people in the light of this truth. Too often, we live in a dream world. We are surprised to discover that someone we love and respect is a sinner. He or she fails us. It may be our husband or wife, our elder or pastor, our good friend or neighbor. Sooner or later you will discover that he, like you, is a sinner. He will fail you. He will surprise you." (Table in the Mist, J.J. Meyers)
In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer also reminds us: "The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous." Upon entering the Christian community, he says, "we surely must be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community, the better."
So...what IS that stench? It's you and me, living side-by-side, sinning in front of and against one another and stinkin' up the place. We might as well get used to it. But HOW do we learn to live in that reality without being continually discouraged and disappointed by the paltry Image of Christ in our brothers? How do we live with the disillusionment and pain caused by these sinners among us?
Next time...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesday


flecto (Latin) v. to bend


deflect (deflected, deflecting) - to "bend" from its original course

genuflect - to bend the knee

inflection (inflect, inflected) - to "bend" the tone or pitch of the voice

reflect (reflective, reflecting, reflected, reflection, reflector, reflex)- to "bend" or throw back again

flexible (flexibility, inflexible) - able to be bent

Add your own?

Give Thanks?

Riesa brought this masterpiece home from "school" yesterday:

I have convincingly assured myself that she doesn't really MEAN anything by it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Life Together

In this brief wisdom-packed treatise, Dietrich Bonhoeffer lays out a Biblical vision of Christian community, then demonstrates the way in which this genuine community ought to manifest itself.

True Christian fellowship, he asserts, is only such by virtue of our union in Christ. "Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality," and this reality is all too often characterized by unfulfilled dreams and disillusionment with all these sinners who surround me, shattering my ideal of life together.

In reality, we are bound to one another by faith, by our common sinfulness, by our brotherhood in Christ, and by the love of the Spirit which springs from Truth, not from our experience with one another.

One of the primary expressions of this unity is in fellowship around the Word, the Psalms and hymns of the Church, and prayer - both daily in the community of the Christian home and weekly in the gathering together on the Lord's Day. Bonhoeffer emphasizes over and over again that true Spirit fellowship will be manifest in each member's humble awareness of his own sinfulness and his need for forgiveness from Christ Himself as well as from his brother. In turn, he will meekly extend that same grace to his brethren. As Shakespeare puts it, "...we do pray for mercy; and that same prayer doth teach us to render the deeds of mercy. (Merchant of Venice)"

As joint members of One Body, we also owe one another the ministries of a listening ear, active helpfulness, and a true bearing with one another's weaknesses, infirmities and burdens. Only in the context of these ministries can we then rightly minister the Word of Truth, spoken in love and supported by our gracious deeds.

"Strong and weak, wise and foolish, gifted or ungifted, pious or impious, the diverse individuals in the community, are no longer incentives for talking and judging and condemning, and thus excuses for self-justification. They are rather cause for rejoicing in one another and serving one another. Each member of the community is given his particular place, but this is no longer the place in which he can most successfully assert himself, but the place where he can best perform his service. Justification by grace, and therefore service, should govern the Christian community. Once a man has experienced the mercy of God in his life, he will henceforth aspire to serve. The proud throne of the judge no longer lures him; he wants to be down below with the lowly and the needy, because that is where God found him."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 16

Outside my is gloomy again, but yesterday's sunrise was stunningly glorious - possibly the most intense in scope and color that I've ever seen.

From the kitchen...marinated tri-tip grilled to medium-rare perfection. Yessss! Thank you, Steve!

Around the house...I'm rearranging my bedroom furniture. I had previously concluded that I had found the only configuration that would work, but I require change...and you know what they say about necessity!

A favorite thing...this statue pictured below which I bought at TJ Maxx a couple years ago. I love the symbolism. Can you see her well enough to tell who she is and what all her "stuff" represents?

I am thinking...that I'm nearly ready to begin playing Christmas music!

I am wearing...SOCKS and a of the great and varied joys of fall. I love fall.

I am hearing...Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat Major.

I am reading...Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together, in which he encourages us to abandon our dreams and ideals concerning Christian community and to replace them with reality...that we are only and truly bound together in fellowship by faith in Jesus Christ, not by our experience with one another.

Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together - the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.

I am creating...more greeting cards this week:

I am thankful...for Carolan VanHeest and Doris Daily...2 elderly women in our church who remain strong-of-heart and faithful even as life presents obstacles and difficulties. Their lifelong faithfulness is a great encouragement to me, as I'm sure it is to many others as well!

Plans for my week...plans are frighteningly sparse this week. I'm thinkin' I gotta fix that...QUICKLY! You know what they say about idle hands, right? How much more dangerous are idle hands when accompanied by an idle mind?!

A photo/video I'm sharing...our little "surrogate grandson" - Julian - who hangs at our house every other weekend. This one was taken one Saturday last winter when he showed up sick in his jammies...a conglomeration of Batman and Superman from head to toe. Such a cutie pie!

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now

Or so they tell me. Apparently, I am no longer the best judge of my own vision. You see, yesterday I became the not-so-proud owner of a public display of my aging self. Glasses. And you all know me...I'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal, so I couldn't just need glasses for the first time ever. No...I needed 24-hour-a-day trifocals. Oh, pardon me...they call them "progressive" lenses now, not trifocals. Suddenly I feel better about my rapid descent toward blindness. Dramatic, I know.

So, I, who have been known to have trouble staying on my feet under the best of circumstances, now have to adapt to eyewear that makes me feel as though I am only 3 feet tall. The ground is way too close to my head! Seriously. I get a little nauseous if I walk too far with them on and I feel continually in danger of mis-stepping and taking yet another face dive. Hey, no big deal. What's another facial scar or two gonna hurt?

And maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't expect to squint WITH the glasses on, when I wasn't squinting without them. computer screen is shaped like a trapezoid. Is THAT normal? AND...I now see yellow blobs on the computer screen which were previously non-existent.

I really hope the Dr. is right about needing time to adjust, because the prescription feels way too strong. It seems that my eyes are working way too hard to see through them. Maybe they've BEEN working really hard already and now they have to work to NOT work? Hmmm.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to what, in the world of fashion eyewear, is known as "Geek Chic." (that doesn't work if you pronounce it like my darling friend, Nancy..."chick"! Love you, Nanc!)

My New Look

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Have a Dream 6

It's been awhile since I shared one of my delusions of grandeur and I know ya'll are eager to analyze my psyche based on all my unfulfilled dreams. So here you go. Have at it.

I want to learn to play a musical instrument.

Yep. That's it.

I love music. I grew up in a musical household. My sisters and I sang together in church from the time I was 3 years old until I left for college. And we sang in the kitchen as we did dishes...we sang on the long car rides from Chicago to St. Louis ('s a long ride when there are 8 of you crammed into a Hatchback VEGA!!!)...we sat around the house and sang. It was what we DID!

My eldest sister, Sherre, is quite an accomplished pianist, organist and vocalist who has spent years perfecting her technique and skills in all three.

My second sister, Pam, is naturally gifted and can pretty much play any instrument she puts her hands on. She hasn't "studied" at all, but in addition to possessing the highly coveted "perfect pitch," she can hear any song and duplicate it on the piano.

Though these two were the "star" musicians of the family, my younger three siblings were all musically inclined as well. Vicki sings, Richard plays guitar and trumpet, and Jeffrey was quite the drummer. ask...what happened to ME? Well. When Sherre, Pam and I were about 10, 9, and 8 (I was the 8-year-old), we took piano lessons from the same teacher who delighted in writing trios for us to perform at recitals. Trouble was, when we practiced, I was ALWAYS the one who goofed up. ALWAYS. That's not the figurative "always" which means regularly. It's a literal "always." Just ask the sisters. I wasn't really terrible...I just wasn't as good as THEY were. Given my current perfectionistic tendencies, I'm surprised I didn't work harder to overcome my deficit, but I really don't remember trying that hard. I DO remember getting tired of being the kill-joy and, as soon as I was allowed, I quit piano. I can't say that I regret it necessarily, but I do regret that I didn't take up something else in its place.

I love good music. I really love to sing, but I have this little problem called "nerves." Even when I'm performing with a full choir, I lack confidence and tend to become very nervous. When that happens, my voice cracks and my breathing is short and shallow. So you'll never catch me singing solo...and if I have to sing in a small group, I prefer my company to be strong, confident male voices who can carry the weight.

Over the years, I have considered taking up several instruments, because (as I was ridiculed for saying to my sister, Pam) "music is IN me...I need to get it out somehow." My nervous/breathing issue eliminates the possibility of all wind instruments...unless I only want to play in private. But music is inherently social, right? Right. Strings it is then.

The stringed instruments that fascinate me the most are the dobro, the banjo, and the mandolin. Mandolin would be my first choice. So, what is stopping me? I have this fear of I wonder if I am driven enough at this point in my life to push myself to conquer the thing.

Chris Thile (pronounced "teeley") of Nickel Creek has been a profound influence on my love of mandolin music. Here's a brief clip of him performing "Ode to a Butterfly," one of his many original compositions. Doesn't hearing him make you wish YOU could play the mandolin too?

Ode To A Butterfly - Chris Thile

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 15

Outside my window...the third consecutive day of sunshine is causing the side effects of S.A.D. to dissipate. Finally.

From the kitchen...sweet & spicy tuna. Yum.

Around the house...there are extra people here today. I do believe our family has entered the all-dreaded "Swine Flu" zone. Son # 2 has been quite ill for 3 days now. I just hope it makes the rounds quickly and skips Aunt Riesa altogether! It's NASTY!

A favorite thing...hanging with friends around the firepit night after fall night. At home, church, MK's...

I am thinking...that I should let Riesa watch me exercise more often! Today as I was going through my routine, she sat contentedly in her chair chanting, "Keep going...keep going...keep going...!!!" Or, "Higher...higher...higher!" Of course, her cheerleading was more of a hindrance than a help because physical exertion and laughter don't mix!

I am wearing...a new pair of earrings, handcrafted by my friend, Tracy.

I am hearing...Miles Davis - Love Songs: I Fall in Love Too Easily.

I am reading...Bonhoeffer's Life Together.

I am creating...I finished creating the quilted card set I mentioned last week and have begun working on more cards. A couple samples below:

I am thankful...for many faithful Christian girlfriends who have flocked to my side, encouraging and upholding me in a time of weakness and trial.

Plans for my week...bridal shower on Monday, lunch on Tuesday, Bible study, coffee and firepit time on Thursday...Joe Bonamassa at The Pageant on Sunday...

A photo/video I'm sharing...this is the kind pictures I find in my files after my youngest son has been online:

Nice, huh?

Friday, October 16, 2009

First Lines

Have you ever picked up a book, opened to the first page and been absolutely enthralled by the first sentence or the first paragraph? . Here are some of my all-time favorite openers which immediately hooked me. Can you guess the authors and/or the titles? I've left out names which would make it TOO obvious. And there will be no CHEATING!! No googling!

1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. (Jane Austen - Pride & Prejudice)

2. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of ____; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by______ and he told the truth mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. (Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)

3. So. The Spear Danes in days gone by and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness. We have heard of those princes heroic campaigns. There was ___, scourge of many tribes. A wrecker of mead benches, rampaging among foes. This terror of the hall-troops had come far. A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on as his powers waxed and his worth was proved. In the end, each clan on the outlying coasts had to yield to him and begin to pay tribute. That was one good king. (Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf)

4. ____ cut a comical little figure as he wobbled his way along the cloisters, with his large sandals flip-flopping and his tail peeping from beneath the baggy folds of an oversized novice's habit. (Brian Jacques - Redwall)

5. The last drops of the thundershower had hardly ceased falling when the Pedestrian stuffed his map into his pocket, settled his pack more comfortably on his tired shoulders, and stepped out from the shelter of a large chestnut tree into the middle of the road. (C.S. Lewis - Out of the Silent Planet)

6. In a hole in the ground there lived a ____. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a ____ hole, and that means comfort. (J.R.R. Tolkien - The Hobbit)

7. Besides the neutral expression that she wore when she was alone, Mrs. Freeman had two others, forward and reverse, that she used for all her human dealings. Her forward expression was steady and driving like the advance of a heavy truck. Her eyes never swerved to the left or right but turned as the story turned as if they followed a yellow line down the center of it. She seldom used the other expression because it was not often necessary for her to retract a statement, but when she did, her face came to a complete stop, there was an almost imperceptible movement of her black eyes, during which they seemed to be receding, and then the observer would see that Mrs. Freeman, though she might stand there as real as several grain sacks thrown on top of each other, was no longer there in spirit. (Flannery O'Connor - Good Country People)

8. There once lived, in a sequestered part of the country of Devonshire, one Mr. Godfrey ____; a worthy gentleman, who, taking it into his head rather late in life that he must get married, and not being young enough or rich enough to aspire to the hand of a lady of fortune, had wedded an old flame out of mere attachment, who in her turn had taken him for the same reason. Thus two people who cannot afford to play cards for the money, sometimes sit down to a quiet game for love. (Charles Dickens - Nicholas Nickleby)

9. It was___,it was____, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil in the superlative degree of comparison only (Charles Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities)

10. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was the beginning with God and the duty of every faithful monk would be to repeat every day with chanting humility the never-changing event whose incontrovertible truth can be asserted. But we see now through a glass darkly, and the truth, before it is revealed to all, face to face, we see in fragments (alas, how illegible) in the error of the world, so we must spell out its faithful signals when they seem obscure to us and as if amalgamated with a will wholly bent on evil. (Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bon Appetit!

In many ways, Julia Child was a misfit. She was a gargantuan-sized woman with a distinctly unglamorous look and voice who, at age 34 - a veritable old-maid in those days - married a man, not only ten years her senior, but a government man whose politics were in direct opposition to her conservative father's. In an age when domesticity and motherhood reigned, she accepted, though not without some heartache, their inability to conceive and she finally found her passion and fulfillment in the kitchen.

Though Julia and I share a love for exquisite food and wine, her precise and scientific approach fascinates me because it is diametrically opposed to my experimental "Dump & Pour" method! Her desire for absolute reproducible perfection allowed her to develop exact recipes which could be duplicated repeatedly by herself and others.

Julia was infinitely curious, and though she considered herself somewhat unlearned, she never stopped improving her intellect, her language skills (she learned both French and German from living in the cultures), and her ability to understand and converse intelligently with a wide variety of people on a broad range of subjects.

Her tireless dedication to teaching Americans the proper way to prepare authentic French cuisine is more than a little admirable! Even in the face of ridicule, skepticism and discouragement, she was relentless in her pursuit and those efforts eventually resulted in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her popular cooking show, The French Chef. Both of these projects brought her unexpected fame, which she assimilated with grace and humility.

In order to gain a thorough sense of her charm and appeal, you simply must read her autobiography, My Life in France, and as I've mentioned before, watch Julie & Julia. You'll discover a delightful woman who lived a full and extraordinary life in the midst of very ordinary circumstances.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesday

Root Word:

laboro - Latin (v) - to work, suffer, or be hard pressed


laboratory (n) - a place of focused work

laborious (adj) - involving much hard work (laboriously, laboriousness)

labored (adj) - done with great effort; strained

belabor (v) - to work to excess

collaborate (v) - to work together (collaboration, collaborator, collaborative)

elaborate (v) - to work out with care and detail (elaborateness, elaboration)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 14

Outside my the dawn begins to overtake the night, I can't help but think this has to be one of the most beautiful and powerful expressions of the Gospel that our Creator has gifted us with.

From the kitchen...time for Thai spices and a pot of Red Curry Bisque.
Around the house...Remember that comforter I found and loved last week? Well...I just can't bring myself to keep it. First of all, it is king-size and made of very high quality/heavy fabric, which means it cannot fit in my washing machine. You might also remember that one of my great joys in life is fresh, clean linens. For me, the only way to achieve that is by washing them with soap and water!!! So. I think this is not a practical decision for me. Back to square one. Find something beautiful, tasteful, warm-ish, and small enough to bathe...the hunt begins. Again.

A favorite thing...our church's annual Harvest Party. Tons of fun, food and frivolity in the backwoods of freakin' Eureka (see, Ros...I love Eureka AND Ladue!).
I am thinking...that I need to stop dreaming and start DOING!
I am wearing...bright pink fingernail polish, the color of raspberry sherbert. Is that OK to do when you're 40ish?

I am hearing...The Wailin' Jennys - Parting Glass

I am reading...The Psalms.
I am creating...a set of quilted cards. Sound odd? I'll show you when I'm finished.

Plans for my as last week. DID any of that stuff I said I was gonna do.

A photo/video I am sharing...the last time my boys dressed up for the Harvest Party in 2006.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rain Outside...Drought Inside

It's been a dry week.
In order to blog, I have to have something to say. And not just anything will do, you know. It must be something that I think at least one person will find amusing, entertaining, challenging, encouraging...or disturbing. Finding that "something" to say, demands that I actually be awake to life around me or be engaged in stimulating books, music or conversation. In short, blogging requires energy, thought, and meaningful interaction, none of which have been in abundant supply this week. Therefore, I've had nothing to say. BUT...the direct and witty Miss Dorothy Sayers does have something to say. Enjoy this essay from Letters to a Diminshed Church:

The Greatest Drama Ever Staged:
The Official Creed of Christendom
Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as a bad press. We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine - dull dogma as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man - and the dogma is the drama.
That drama is summarized quite clearly in the creeds of the Church, and if we think it dull it is because we either have never really read those amazing documents or have recited them so often and so mechanically as to have lost all sense of their meaning. The plot pivots upon a single character, and the whole action is the answer to a central problem: What think ye of Christ? What does the Church think of Christ?

The Church's answer is categorical and uncompromising, and it is this: that Jesus Bar-Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, was in fact and in truth, and in the most exact and literal sense of the words, the God "by whom all things were made." He was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be "like God" - he was God.
He has himself gone through the whole human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.
Christianity is, of course, not the only religion that has found the best explanation of human life in the idea of an incarnate and suffering god. The Egyptian Osiris died and rose again. Aeschylus in his play, The Eumenides, reconciled man to God by the theory of a suffering Zeus. But in most theologies, the god is supposed to have suffered and died in some remote and mythical period of prehistory. The Christian story, on the other hand, starts off briskly in St. Matthew's account with a place and date: "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King." ...About 33 years later (we are informed), God was executed, for being a political nuisance, "under Pontius Pilate" - much as we might say, "when Mr. Johnson-Hicks was Home Secretary." It is as definite and concrete as all that.
Possibly we might prefer not to take this tale too seriously - there are disquieting points about it. Here we had a man of divine character walking and talking among us - and what did we find to do with him? The common people, indeed, "heard him gladly"; but our leading authorities in Church and State considered that he talked too much and uttered too many disconcerting truths. So we bribed one of his friends to hand him over quietly to the police, and we tried him on a rather vague charge of creating a disturbance, and had him publicly flogged and hanged on the common gallows, "thanking God we were rid of a knave." All this was not very creditable to us, even if he was (as many thought and think) only a harmless, crazy preacher. But if the Church is right about him, it was more discreditable still, for the man we hanged was God Almighty.
So that is the outline of the official story - the tale of the time when God was the underdog and got beaten, when he submitted to the conditions he had laid down and became a man like the men he had made, and the men he had made broke him and killed him. This is the dogma we find so dull - this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and the hero.

If this is dull, what in heaven's name is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore - on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him "meek and mild," and recommended him as a fitting household pet for curates and pious old ladies. To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggests a milk-and-water person; they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand. True, he was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers, and humble before heaven; but he insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites. He referred to King Herod as "that fox"; he went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a "gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners"; he assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the temple; he drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations; he cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other people's pigs and property; he showed no proper deference for wealth or social position; when confronted with neat dialectical traps, he displayed a paradoxical humor that affronted serious-minded people, and he retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb. He was emphatically not a dull man in his human lifetime, and if he was God, there can be nothing dull about God either. But he had "a daily beauty in his life that made us ugly," and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.
"And the third day he rose again." What are we to make of this? One thing is certain: if he were God and nothing else, his immortality means nothing to us; if he was man and no more, his death is no more important that yours or mine. But if he really was both God and man, then when the man Jesus died, God died too; and when the God Jesus rose from the dead, man rose too, because they were one and the same person. Those who saw the risen Christ remained persuaded that life was worth living and death a triviality - an attitude curiously unlike that of the modern defeatist, who is firmly persuaded that life is a disaster and death (rather inconsistently) a major catastrophe.
Now, nobody is compelled to believe a single word of this remarkable story. God (says the Church) has created us perfectly free to disbelieve in him as much as we choose. If we do disbelieve, then he and we must take the consequences...The Church says further that man did, in fact, disbelieve, and that God did, in fact, take the consequences. All the same, if we are going to disbelieve a thing, it seems on the whole to be desirable that we should first found out what, exactly, we are disbelieving. Very well then: "The right Faith is, that we believe that Jesus Christ is God and man, Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Who although he be God and man yet is he not two, but one Christ." There is the essential doctrine, of which the whole elaborate structure of Christian faith and moral is the only logical consequence.
Now, we may call that doctrine exhilarating, or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation, or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all. That God should play the tyrant over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tryant over God and find him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed. Any journalist, hearing of it for the first time, would recognize it as news; those who heard it for the first time actually called it news, and Good News at that; though we are likely to forget that the word Gospel ever meant anything so sensational.

Perhaps the drama is played out now, and Jesus is safely dead and buried. Perhaps. It is ironical and entertaining to consider that at least once in the world's history those words might have been spoken with complete conviction, and that was upon the eve of the Resurrection.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 13

Outside my window...Fall has arrived in all its splendor. There is nothing quite like the sights, sounds, and smells of a cold sunny morning in fall. One's spirits can't help but lift.

From the kitchen...time to make the year's first batch of chili. I resort to an old favorite recipe or make up something new and different? How about something new and different?! If I like the way it turns out, I'll share the "recipe."

Around the house...I actually found (per last week's post) a comforter that I really like for my bed. Now before I decide whether or not to keep it, I have to shop for fabric...for two reasons. First: a single European sham costs $50!!!!! Did you hear that???!! $50 for a pillow cover!! That is nothing short of ridiculous! Second: though I like things to coordinate, I'm not into the matchy-matchy look so I want to make my own pillows, shams, curtains, etc. I prefer to use 5-6 different patterns and textures that work together, but look like they were gathered randomly over time.

A favorite laundry chute. Do you have one of those? Those have to be one of the most awesome inventions EVER. I know. There's no great technological or engineering feat behind it, but it's so cool that my boys can shove their dirty clothes into a hole in the floor and have them end up 2 floors down in my laundry room. Of course, this assumes they actually put the clothes IN THE HOLE rather than pile them NEXT TO THE HOLE...which they are inclined to do. I really difficult is it to give that extra little kick to get those boxers into the hole? It doesn't even require the energy of bending over...a simple swipe of the foot would do it, you know? They're delightful, those boys. But I still really like my laundry chute!

I am thinking...that walking 3 miles in 38 degrees when the sun is barely up, is a remarkably head-clearing way to begin the day...or the week for that matter!

I am wearing...RYKA Radiant running shoes.

I am hearing...Nat King Cole: When I Fall in Love - I'm partial to his whole Love Songs album. Horrifyingly and wonderfully schmaltzy stuff!

I am reading....Harry Potter's which author, John Granger, highlights connections in Rowling's series to great literary works from ages past. A birthday present which I am just now getting around to reading.

I am thankful...that missionary friends in the Phillipines, Kim & John Piet and their orphans, were spared any serious trouble from typhoon Parma.

Plans for my week...make appointments with the optometrist, orthopaedist and dentist. Tracy and Courtney will be so proud of me...if I actually DO it, that is!

A photo/video I am sharing...I'm hoping to see a repeat of this scene a few weeks from now. A World Series parade in the midst of a red sea! Go Cards!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Papa

On Sunday, my family gathered in honor of my Daddy's 67th birthday. Yes, he's still Daddy, although in recent years I've taken to calling him "Papa." I've talked before about my Dad, so you already know he's a faithful man of character who has lived an exemplary Christian life. He has always made his love known to me through his deeds and through frequent verbal expressions of love and affirmation. What more could a girl ask for?

A couple of years ago, I put together a scrapbook commemorating and preserving portions of his life. The commentary is mostly taken from his baby book - in which his mother kept sporadic records of his early successes and interests - and from her recollections. I'm sharing some of those memories/pages here: (I apologize for my poor scanning job...most of these are fairly crooked!)

Fourth Grade

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of my dad with all 6 of his children or his 21 grandchildren, or his 2 great-grandchildren in the album. I'll have to work on adding those later!