Thursday, March 31, 2011

Penitence & Confidence

The same man who wrote the following desperate plea for mercy: 

O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine indignation, neither chasten me in Thy displeasure.  My soul is sore troubled; how long wilt Thou punish me? (Ps. 6)

Also penned these words of confidence:

Give thanks to the Lord, for His anger is but for a moment, and His favor for a lifetime.  (Ps. 30)  He will not always chide nor will He keep His anger forever.  (Ps. 103)

And he does this over and over and over again:

I am weary of my groaning; every night I flood my bed, and drench my couch with my tears.  (Ps. 6)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  (Ps. 34)


How long, O Lord?  Will You forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?  (Ps. 13)

He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and He has not hidden His face from him, but has heard when he cried to Him.  (Ps. 22) 

There is no health in my flesh, because of Thy displeasure; neither is there any rest in my bones, by reason of my sin. For my wickednesses are gone over my head, and are like a sore burden, too heavy for me to bear. My wounds stink, and are corrupt, through my foolishness.  I am brought into so great trouble and misery, that I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a sore disease, and there is no whole part in my body. I am feeble and sore smitten; I have roared for the very disquietness of my heart.  (Ps. 38)

He does not deal with us according to our sins nor repay us according to our iniquities.  As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward us; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.  He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.  (Ps. 103)

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  Why are You so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?  I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.  (Ps 22)

In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help.  From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears.   (Ps. 18)

Save me, O God; for the waters are come in, even unto my soul. I stick fast in the deep mire, where no ground is; I am come into deep waters, so that the floods run over me.  (Ps. 69)

He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He rescued me because He delighted in me. (Ps. 18) He drew me up out of the miry bog and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. (Ps. 40)

David alternately sends up desperate cries for deliverance and professions of profound trust and hope in the mercy of God. His words accurately reflect the tension of our lives as Christians who struggle with enemies and remaining sin, but desire to please and trust the Lord.  May we join our voices with David's in both of these aspects, utilizing his intensely emotional, Spirit-breathed words.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Baby...

...is 5 years old and not such a baby anymore.

When I picked him up on Saturday, he was so proud to show me that he could write his name in cursive:



I was amazed at how beautiful it looked!  When I asked who had taught him to do that, he said, "No one...I just did it."   I had to remind him that somebody had to teach him...you don't just know how to write in cursive.  He informed me that he had seen it written on a paper at Grandma's house and asked her what it said.  When she replied, "Julian," he looked at it and copied it.  Hmmm...sounded to me like he was leaving something out.

He wanted to write MORE words in cursive, so I wrote out each of our names and some other words for him. And guess what?  He looked at them and copied them without any instruction.  Then it dawned on me...the child is an artist!  And what does an artist do?  He sees lines and shapes and reproduces them!  Duh!   So he was telling me the truth afterall!  He "taught" himself how to write in cursive!

This was the first time he wrote Uncle Steve's name:



Then...on Sunday before he went home, he brought this to me:  (sniff, sniff)



Doesn't get much better than that! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Grati-Tuesday

Today I am giving thanks for good music...and for good friends who introduce good music into my life.


 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nostalgia

Nostalgia
by: Lori Shaffer

A favored toy;
The latest gun;
Chosen.  Cherished.
Used. Shelved.

Perhaps remembered,
Fondly missed.
Perhaps forgotten
Without a thought.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Can I Say?

I'm in a silly mood.  And when I'm in a silly mood, I do silly things and I laugh at silly jokes...you know, like Chuck Norris jokes.  Everyone has heard these before, but so have I and they STILL make me laugh.  So here's a little silliness for you: (FYI: the first 5 are my all-time favorites)

Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.

When the boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris is the reason Waldo is hiding.

Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.

Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.

If you have $5 and Chuck Norris has $5, Chuck Norris has more $ than you.

Chuck Norris CAN believe it's not butter.

Chuch Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King...and got one.

It only takes Chuck Norris 20 minutes to watch 60 minutes.

Chuck Norris's hand is the only hand that can beat a royal flush.

Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

Chuck Norris strangled a man with a cordless phone.

Chuck Norris counted to infinity....twice.

The Coverdale Psalter

I have directed you many times to Gloria Dei Cantores' recordings of The Psalms, and once again, I encourage you to check these out if you haven't already. 


One of many elements that factor into my love of these recordings, is the use of Myles Coverdale's version of the Psalter.  Here is a helpful page about Coverdale, as well as a copy of the translation itself.   (If you own a 1662 BCP, you already have a copy!) 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Lenten Way of Life

Keep the Fast, Keep the Feast
by: Peter Leithart - Mar 17, 2009

Over the centuries, Christians have fasted for many reasons. Sometimes the reasons have been good. The apostles and their churches fasted and prayed before selecting elders or ordaining missionaries. Christians have fasted in mourning for their sins. They have fasted and prayed to combat demons and to plead with God for relief from disaster.

Often, of course, they have fasted for bad reasons. They fasted because they believed flesh was evil, because they felt desperately guilty and forgot God's love in sending his Son to cleanse their sins, because they wanted God to notice how wonderfully pious they were.

In spite of errors and abuses, Christians in the past had sound intuitions about the centrality of fasting in the Christian life. In the early Church, fasting was not an isolated practice reserved for a day or a season. It was a clue to all Christian living, a perspective on the whole of discipleship. To be a Christian meant to participate in a great feast. It meant also to observe a great fast.

This is true in several respects. Fasting shows that discipleship is always cruciform. It reminds us that we can't follow Jesus unless we say "No" to ourselves and take up the cross. Fasting reveals that Jesus requires us to combat and enables us to conquer the sinful desires and habits that continue to plague us. Fasting reveals that the Christian life is a life of charity. Many of the Church Fathers made this point by quoting Yahweh's words in Isaiah 58:

Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

But even these insights don't get to the basic meaning of fasting. St. Basil got closer when he said that "the first commandment Adam received" was a prohibition on eating, which Basil called "the divine law of fasting and temperance." Basil was right, but only half right. To see why, we need to look back at Adam's original fast in the garden.

Before God told Adam he could not eat from the tree of knowledge, he had already offered all the trees of the garden for food. "Behold I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you," (Genesis 1:29) and "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely" (Genesis 2:16). In offering food, Yahweh was offering more than food. He was offering the whole creation. He formed Adam, placed him in a world full of delights and treasures, and told him, "It's all yours. Enjoy it." God created Adam a hungry being, and then set before him a world that, so long as he remained in communion with his Creator, could satisfy his hungers.

This helps us see where Adam's fast fits in. Yahweh did give Adam a law of fasting, but only after inviting him to a feast. In the Bible, feasting is prior to, more fundamental than, fasting. "Eat, drink, and rejoice" is the first word God speaks to Adam, and it is the last word Jesus speaks to His bride. Fasting is essential to the story, but fasts are always ordered to feasts.

Even Adam's fast from the tree of knowledge was not permanent. Eventually, Yahweh would have given him the fruit of that tree too. "Knowledge of good and evil" is royal insight and judicial wisdom (cf. 1 Kings 3:9). After long experience, mature people come to have the "knowledge of good and evil" they need to share in Yahweh's rule over creation (cf. Hebrews 5:14). Naked and newborn in the garden, Adam was not ready for that fruit. He had to drink milk before he could digest meat. One day, though, the good fruit of the tree of knowledge would have been added to his menu.

Feasting is the beginning and the goal, but Adam could enjoy the full feast—truly enjoy it—only by first keeping the fast. Eventually, he would feast even on the forbidden fruit, but he could do that well only if he waited for permission, only if he waited until he was ready. That pattern applied not only to the tree of knowledge, but to everything else too. Adam's fast from the tree showed how he was supposed to handle everything God offered him. If Adam was going to feast on the fruit of the other trees, he would have to "dress and keep the garden." If he was going to mine that gold, the good gold, down in Havilah (Genesis 2:11--12), he would have to trudge down there, or sail down the Pishon River, and start digging. To enjoy the full abundance of what his Father offered, he was going to have to wait, and work, a long time. To enjoy the banquet, he had to fast until he, and it, were prepared.

Of course, Adam didn't want to wait. Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food, and desirable to make one wise, so she ate and Adam joined in. Adam sinned because he wanted it all—wisdom, authority, a full belly, the whole abundant goodness of creation—now. He sinned because he grabbed for the feast. He sinned because he didn't keep the fast, and as a result even the appetizers he already had were taken from him.

Jesus is the Last Adam because He keeps the fast. He enters a world that is no longer a garden, but a howling waste, and in that wilderness Satan tempts Him to break the fast, to be an Adam: "You're hungry; eat this now. You deserve the accolades of the crowds; you can have it now if you jump off the temple. You want all authority in heaven and on earth, but your Father won't give that to you unless you suffer an excruciating, shameful death; you can have it all now, no cross or self-denial required. It's yours, and you only need to do a bit of bowing. Life, glory, power, everything you want, everything you deserve—you can have it all now."

Jesus refused, and refused, and then refused again, and in so doing broke the power of Adamic sin. Jesus kept the fast; he waited, labored, suffered, died, and then opened his hand to receive all the life, glory, honor, authority, and dominion that his Father had to give Him. He kept the fast and as a result was admitted to the fullness of the kingdom's feast—because by that time both it and he were ready. And by resisting the devil, Jesus sets the pattern of true fasting and reveals a Lenten way of life.

Here in Idaho, we may be tempted to dismiss fasting with one of our favorite local buzzwords: Fasting is "gnostic," because it assumes that food and drink and pleasure are evil. We're into feasting, not fasting.

But fasting is not gnostic. On the contrary, refusing to keep the fast is gnostic. Adam was the first gnostic. After all, God didn't impose a fast on Adam because creation is bad. Adam wasn't forced to wait because the things he wanted were evil. It was all good, very good. Why did he have to wait? He had to wait because the things Yahweh offered were so explosively good that Adam wasn't capable of enjoying them, yet. He had to wait because if he didn't wait, they were going to blow up in his face.

We might think we're celebrating the goodness of creation when we grab for this and that without waiting through the fast. We might think we're anti-gnostic because we taste the icing of the wedding cake before it's cut. Our reasoning: "This fruit is just too good for us to wait until it's ripe." But that's not honoring the goodness of creation. Impatience is always incipiently gnostic, because it assumes that nothing can be bettered by time. It is not gnostic to prefer roasted meat to raw. Fasting is not a renunciation of creation; rather, it celebrates and honors the goodness of that most basic and pervasive of all creatures: time.

This, finally, shows us what it means to live out a Lenten lifestyle in imitation of Jesus. It shows, how fasting provides a clue to all Christian living, to all human life and history. Whenever Solomon warns us about the dangers of rapidly acquired wealth, he is warning us not to be Adams. He's reminding us to keep the fast. Little by little, piece by piece, waiting and not grasping, saving ahead of borrowing: That is Lenten economics.

And Lenten sexuality is like unto it. Lent teaches us to renounce the two-dimensional, bodiless sex that we can seize so easily on the web, in magazines, on the screen. Lent teaches us to wait. But Lent also shows that we don't wait out of prudish hatred of sex, but out of admiration for its mysterious potency. Sex is so pleasurable, so obsessively delightful, that we have to have our senses trained before we can handle it well. Abstinence is the fast that prepares us for the feast of marriage. Lenten sexuality honors creation by insisting we take time to get ready.

Lenten politics is also the politics of patience and restraint. History is littered with the rubble and severed limbs left behind by Adamic tyrants, who seized power they were incapable of using well. Even competent rulers can forget that ripeness is all. Christians who enter the public square are not to clamor and cling and scramble for a place at the table or a higher rung on the ladder. Christians enter the public square looking to serve, waiting and ready for the fruit when it's offered.

Everywhere we turn, the world tells us not to keep the fast. Everywhere we turn, the world tempts us to be Adam. Our culture is devoted to stoking up our appetites and convincing us that we need to have it all, and to have it all yesterday. We are fooling ourselves if we think we don't participate in that culture. Few things provide a better counter to that temptation than a diligent, thoughtful observance of Lent and the cultivation of Lenten way of life. Yes, the Church is a festive community, but unless we are also a fasting community, then we are simply a mirror of the world around us.

Fasting looks like an enemy to life, but the opposite is true. We live abundantly only if we know how to fast—which is to say, only if we are disciplined to wait until the feast is ready. Lent trains us to be a people of patience and restraint, a people who rejoices in a God who has time and gives us time and makes us wait for the treasures He gives. Lent trains us to follow the Master who kept the fast. We must learn the lessons of Lent and the fast if we are going to be the people of the new Adam and not just another variation on the old.

Peter J. Leithart is Senior Fellow of Theology and Literature at New St. Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho, and pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow.  (source: First Things)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordsmith Wednesday

One of the problems with doing this Wordsmith thing, is that the people I live among, assume I know things that I often don't know.  Well, not my children...they don't assume I know anything!  But OTHER people think I know, or expect me to know, all the words...in the world...and how they came to be.

Truth is, these posts are not primarily an opportunity for me to flaunt my vast store of knowledge, but a way of teaching myself something new or adding to my existing catalog of words.  So there it is...my permanent disclaimer: I don't know ALL THE WORDS. 

In fact, today's word is dedicated to Annie, because I let her down in Bible study a couple weeks ago when I couldn't come up with the root for the word REVILE.  I suspected a connection with vile (vilify-vilification) and/or villain (villainy-villainous), but still couldn't formulate the etymology.  So...here you go.

First of all, in Acts 18:6, the ESV translates the word as "revile." Webster tells us that it comes from:

vilis (adj) Latin - cheap, of little value, low, paltry, worthless

vilitas (n) Latin - cheapness, trifling value, worthlessness, disregard, contempt

Interestingly enough, I couldn't find a verb form for this word.  (interesting to ME, anyway, since revile is a verb...and since many Latin words trace back to their verb forms.)

Most every other version of the Bible, including the Latin Vulgate, translates the same word in Acts 18 as "blaspheme."

Again we turn to our friend, Webster, who gives the root of this word as:

blasphemare  (v) fr Greek blasphemein - both meaning to speak evil of.

But I also found it interesting that when I looked up "blaspheme" in my Latin dictionary, it referred me, not to "blasphemare" but to this word:

maledico (v) fr. L:  mal = bad or evil; dic = to speak

So, anyway you slice it, REVILE means, at its most basic: to speak evil of  (we all already knew that, but now we know WHY!). There is an implication from these roots that reviling words are slanderous, undeserved, abusive, and motivated by contempt and a desire to humiliate.

I learned something new today and I hope you did too!  Especially you, Annie!

NOTE:  By the way, I was wrong about the association with villain...I'll save that one for another day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break Cleaning?

Once I actually realized that my family was far, far away and I was here all by me onesie, I decided to capitalize on the opportunity and plan some fun and frivolity to while away the time.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans...

Instead of fun and frivolity, I find myself cleaning.  I know.  There is something inherently wrong with combining Spring Break and Spring Cleaning, but the fact is that OCD does not regard one day or festival above another...and when OCD demands a thorough cleaning, though it be Spring Break, the soul which it inhabits, obeys.  (If he commandeers another of my perfectly good holidays, I may be begging for an exorcism of the OCD demon.)

Here's where I began: I emptied son #2's room of every single thing:






After which I cleaned curtain rods, windows, ceiling fan, chair rail, baseboards, and floors.  I then proceeded to clean ALL THE THINGS before moving them back into the room.  One of the ideas behind doing this is to get rid of stuff, but this one is pretty good about doing that himself on a regular basis.  I think I ditched 1 coat and a few school papers...AND ABOUT 137 AIRSOFT PELLETS!!!!!! (deep cleansing breath...).






When I go through this process, I learn things about my children based on what things they have chosen to keep and the way in which they organize them (or don't).  #2 is very organized and purposeful and methodic in all of this.  He likes to collect things, but these things are sorted and contained.  If you open the main drawer of his desk, he has sorted pens, pencils, highlighters, rubber bands, etc.  You know...the way things OUGHT to be!

I was also reminded, as I've told you before that he has a protective "hero" instinct...as reinforced by the fact that THIS is what he stores next to his bed.



Remind me never to startle the child in the middle of the night!

1 room down...too many to go...and I'm already tired!  Getting old.  Very, very old.  Sigh...

Name That Flower

It's that time of year again!  Can you identify this flower?


Faces

III.
Swollen moats frame the fountainhead,
Restraining rivulets
Which no mere bottle could contain.

Monday, March 21, 2011

For Want of Wit

What?!  Another "Stupid Things I've Done" post so soon? you ask.  Why yes.  Apparently I have this innate desire to do stupid things so others can feel better about themselves and their lives.  And so...I document it for you.  Well...only SOME of it.

Earlier today, I glanced at the clock and realized it was 3:27, so I hurried to my car and rushed over to pick up my son, Eric, from his 3:30 carpool.  Now, on most Mondays, that would be a GOOD thing...it means  I haven't forgotten him altogether.  Today, however, it may have proven that once and for all I have fallen over that edge near which I have been tottering for some time now. 

You see...my son, Eric, was not at school today.  Instead, he was hanging out here:


On Spring Break in San Francisco.

Yeah...I knew that.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Taking A Breath

Taking a Breath
by: Lori Waggoner

The delicate maiden sprang to life
With violent voice
and terror-filled eyes.
Panic-stricken, he swung to subdue.

Stunned by her strength and resiliency,
He moved again
to secure his triumph;
Her unconscious form would cooperate.

He left quietly as he had come,
Taking nothing
but her innocence.
And her breath.

Friday, March 18, 2011

24-Hour Rag Quilt

Every now and then I get a hankerin'.  Do you ever get one of those?  My most recent was a hankerin' to sew.  For several years of my life, when the boys were young, I sewed EVERY SINGLE DAY.  It was my sole creative outlet and the one part of my daily work that no one could "undo" as soon as I had done it.  It brought the satisfaction of a visible, tangible, finished product...something we moms of young ones often miss out on.  As the boys have grown up and I, in many respects, have more free time than ever before, I have nearly abandoned all creative outlets...probably because I have focused almost exclusively on writing.  Anyway...here is the project I began and completed in fewer than 24 hours!

I started with this stack of storebought flannel baby blankets which I have accumulated over the past 4 years in anticipation of this project:

Using these highly sophisticated tools: (cookbook, pencil and scissors)


I marked and cut out 84 squares:



Which I then laid out in my preferred pattern: (Blogger insists on rotating this photo...awkward...sorry!)




I failed to take a photo of this next step, but each "block" requires 2 squares of identical fabric which are placed back to back (wrong sides together) so that both sides of the quilt end up with a "finished" look.  I chose to sew each block's front and back together with an "X" pattern - on the machine with a stitch length of 5 - before I did anything else.  This step is not necessary for the end product to work...it was my own little variation, so feel free to skip it!

Next, I sewed 7 rows of 6 blocks each, then attached the 7 rows together.  On this type of quilt, all the seams are exposed!  You need to use a fairly small stitch so that your seams are very strong!



Seams need to be strong, because the next step is to clip every single seam down to the stitching at 1/8" - 1/4" intervals, like this: (I wish I had done mine slightly closer than I did for a better fray!)



Of course, make every effort NOT to clip through any of your seams...but if you do, it's not the end of the world...you'll have to make a simple repair, that's all.

Your final step is to launder the quilt!  (I forgot to mention that you MUST NOT launder your flannel beforehand or this will not work well!!)  After you wash your new quilt, I suggest taking it outside and shaking it vigorously to rid it of many of the loose fibers from your "shredded" seams.  Then dry the quilt in the dryer, checking every 15 minutes or so for excess build-up in the lint filter. 

When the quilt has dried completely...DO IT AGAIN!  You want those seams to be as frayed as possible and each washing increases the fluffiness of the seams.  Your end product should look something like this:



This is one of the easiest projects I've done and I was pleasantly surprised at how little time it required start-to-finish!  Try it...you'll like it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Want of Wit

Last Wednesday, I went to my beautician-friend and had 5" cut off my overgrown mop.  That cut was looong overdue and I felt much better...and about 7 pounds lighter too.

But I have this habit...which is somewhat disturbing to my very gracious beautician-friend.  Every now and then, I feel the need to cut my OWN hair.  Just occasionally, you know.

Well...I had one of those occasions a couple days later when I decided that my bangs needed to be slightly more thinned out than they were.  No problem there.  I do this ALL THE TIME...well, occasionally all the time...but I know what I'm doing, so it's all good.

I confidently reached into my drawer and pulled out my thinning shears (yes, I own my very own thinning shears...one never knows when one might have an OCCASION), properly positioned them exactly in the right spot...let's see, should I start 1/2" up or a full inch up for my first cut?  Thankfully I went with 1/2"...b/c I took my swipe and WAH-LAH!!  Instant panic!!  "Oh no!  Oh no!  I did NOT just do that!!  Oh no!  Oh no!" 

You see, I had actually picked up the REGULAR hair scissors and promptly lopped off 1/2" of my bangs...in a lovely straight line.  Oops.  So much for the graceful sweep across the forehead.  And now...I have little girl bangs.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  If that's what you WANT, rather than the result of a mere act of personal stupidity!! 


BEFORE:


AFTER: 

So, there.  I've done it again.  And maybe it was a little more than half an inch...but hey...I was running low on material (you believe that?)...so it all works out in the end, ya know?!   

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Know...I Know

Two posts in a row after a month off?!  Well, don't get used to it.  It's a fluke, that's all.  Just so happens I had time to write last night.

A friend of mine who knows infinitely more about poetry than I do, recommended 3 modern poets for my consideration.  I checked them out online and discovered a strong affinity for Jane Kenyon, whose work resonated with me instantly in a way the others' did not.


So, I purchased a collection of her poems as well as The Best Day, The Worst Day, her poet-husband's account of their life together...a life simultaneously full of sadness and hope. 

Jane endured a lifelong struggle with depression which, at times, was tempered with medication, but from which she was never completely free.  She came to know Christ as an adult and experienced doubts as she struggled with the hard questions of life and Christianity, but she remained faithful throughout.  

As I read both her biography and her poetry, I was struck by her intense "awareness" - she seemed to have a heightened experience of sense and emotion - which I suspect fueled both her poetry and her depression.  The same source appears to have both inspired and impaired her. 

Ms. Kenyon produced a copious catalog of poems for a woman who was my age when she began a grueling battle with luekemia...a fight she lost about 18 months later at age 47. 

Obviously I am commending her work to you...if you're the poetic type.  If you're not, then check out her husband's gut-wrenchingly honest narrative.  Theirs is a sweet story.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder
by: Lori Shaffer
A tomboy in jeans and striped polo, I strive
Like a man to conquer men;
Then turn to discover, under your gaze,
I have become a princess.