30 June 2008

Wilberforce on Selfishness

Some wise words from a wise man.

"However the external effects [of selfishness] may vary, the internal principle is the same. It is the despotism in each one to make self the great center and end of his desires and pleasures. It is the tendency to overrate his own merits and importance, and of course to magnify his claims on others and to underrate their on him. It is the disposition to undervalue the advantages and to overstate the disadvantages of his condition in life.

It is important to notice how much Christianity in every way is set in direct hostility to selfishness. . .One may almost say that the main object and chief concern of real Christianity is to root out our natural selfishness and to correct the false standard it would impose upon us. Christianity seeks to bring us to a just estimate of ourselves, and of all around us."
~William Wilberforce

. . . . .

Well it's many a day I've traveled a hundred miles or more,
But a baby boy with his whiskers on I never saw before.

Props to you if you can identify that song. :)
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29 June 2008

Words Worth Saying

I had my dear friend Julia over this weekend. What a joy it was to spend Friday evening and most of Saturday with her!

I'm taking this opportunity to honor you, Julia, for how carefully you choose your words and for how you seek to use them for others' good. You always have something worthwhile to say about the topic at hand. It's a credit to you (and to God's grace upon you) that I can say this: it is easy to have a "good conversation" when you're around. I never have to dig or prod; I don't have to invent deep conversation topics. You look for a deeper meaning behind everything you see, instead of skimming over the surface as our culture would have us do. Because of your hunger for truth, you can make connections and share insights about almost anything, from drinking coffee to choosing a church . :) My life is richer and more thoughtful because of your friendship. And so I thank God for you!

26 June 2008

Chesterton on the Beauty of Ordinary Life


"A Ballade of Suicide"

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours--on the wall--
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.


To-morrow is the time I get my pay--
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall--
I see a little cloud all pink and grey--
Perhaps the rector's mother will NOT call--
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way--
I never read the works of Juvenal--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.


The world will have another washing-day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational--
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Envoi
Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.


~G.K. Chesterton

25 June 2008

Reasons to Study History

Here is a very thoughtful, persuasive article by Tim Challies on why Christians should study history.

I appreciate the fact that Challies doesn't just feed us the typical modern reason: "Because then we can avoid the mistakes of the past!" What narrow-minded, pompous Progressive nonsense. If that's your only rationale for studying history, it implies that in your mind, everyone before you was a blundering idiot, with nothing admirable to imitate. Instead, Challies reminds us of everything we can and should learn by the positive example of our forerunners, not just by their mistakes.

http://www.challies.com/archives/articles/seven-reasons-to-study-the-churchs-past.php

(HT: Scriptorium Daily)
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24 June 2008

Playing Pretend


I've forgotten how to play.

I re-discover this every time I come home. Board games, I can do; reading books aloud, sure; drawing maps and making up stories, no problem. I can build sandcastles and Lego castles without batting an eyelash. Croquet and badminton are fun. We can go on a hike and I'll have a blast. Basically, give me a set of rules or some clear objective, and I'm up to the task.

But when it comes to open-ended free time, just "playing pretend," I feel lost. "Let's go outside and play!" What does that mean? I can invent a whole world on paper, and tell all sorts of stories about adventures in my head, but I have no idea how to act them out. I guess I used to be able to immerse myself in a made-up world and become an Arctic explorer, pirate captain, or Amazon warrior princess all afternoon. Not anymore. If I try, I just feel fake, and nobody has much fun.

Sometimes I feel that I'm letting my little siblings down because I can't sincerely "pretend" with them. And I worry that someday, I'll be a bad mom if I don't learn how to play in a different way. But then I remember that my gracious Lord gives the ability and inspiration for everything to which He calls His children. He has already enabled me to do (and to enjoy doing) so many things, like writing stories that little children love, and showing them how to make grilled cheese, and reading books to them in a big fluffy chair.

So if I'm ever supposed to be an Arctic explorer, I guess He'll tell me how to do it.
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23 June 2008

Encouragement for Sinners

Revelation 14:
Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves . . .It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.
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So why can someone struggling with the same old sin, day in and day out--a person who feels like the most foolish, stubborn human on the planet-- take hope from reading about blameless saints who are a lot holier than she'll ever be? Well, because they aren't. They had to be redeemed too. Did you notice that? John mentions it twice, actually, even as he praises their righteousness. The "best of the best" still needed Christ's mercy, His propitiation, His constant intercession. Salvation had nothing to do with their own goodness, which could never atone for the sin at their core.
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And if God sees evil lurking even under their appearance of holiness, and He can defeat that insidious deceptive enemy, then He can conquer my sin too.
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22 June 2008

Attack of the Zucchini Monster


It's that time of year again. Zucchini takes over the garden, and everyone suddenly becomes very generous. Neighbors, friends, and relatives are all eager to "bless" you with a free grocery bag of zucchini. I hate saying no to free food, but as I'm one of the only people in my family who likes zucchini, I have to get creative. First I sauteed them with garlic, olive oil, and thyme, but everyone under the age of 20 turned up his or her respective nose. Then I put them on pizza, gaining a few more thumbs-up, but still not universally approved. So what to do with these long green treasures? Make muffins, of course... Rebekah's solution to everything!
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I baked eight dozen of these the other day. I don't think I've ever used that much flour in my life. :) But they freeze well, so it's all good. They're absolutely scrumptious, and even the veggie-phobes in our house love them.
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ZUCCHINI MONSTER MUFFINS
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1 cup quick oats
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 cup unpeeled grated zucchini
1 egg, beaten with fork
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 t. vanilla
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Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and make well in center.
Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl.
Pour wet ingredients into dry, and stir just until combined.
Spoon into 12 sprayed or greased muffin cups.
Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes, until they test done.
Remove to rack to cool.
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21 June 2008

Photobucket for Turkey

Well, if you'd like to go through Anatolia pictures at your leisure, here's the URL: http://s278.photobucket.com/albums/kk101/DaphneWelsh/Anatolia%202008/. I didn't put up all 1,146 photographs, only about half as many. The redundant or boring ones have been edited out. Aren't you relieved?

"True Christianity also teaches us not to prize human esteem at a very high rate. Thereby it provides for the practice of its command to 'love from the heart' those who may justly or unjustly attack our reputation and wound our character... taking away the source of anger, and the origin of discord, it provides for the maintenance of peace."
--William Wilberforce
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20 June 2008

Creativity

Here's when I'm happiest: when I am making something. Whether nestled in the center of my home, kneading dough for cinnamon rolls and sketching silly pictures for Mark, or wandering on a forest path, crafting poems in my head and composing photographs, or working with pen and paper, scribbling notes for a children's story and writing curriculum for my many students...I love creating beauty, I love creating useful things, and I love it when the two combine! This is all in joyful imitation of my Creator God, and I can't wait to see what He gives me to do next.

And now for something completely different:


I'm cranky about taxes at the moment, so THIS is what I think of our current government! I absolutely love America--the real core of it, the people and the ideas. But Washington is messed up. No matter if you look at the Republicans or the Democrat, we've got loads of moneygrubbers and sophists, eager to strengthen the Nanny State and never thinking about personal liberty and local responsibility. Growl.

Done being crabby now. Enjoy your weekend, everyone :) And to quote one of my favorite English professors, Dr. Whalen: "Have a good life, be of good cheer, sing hey-nonny-nonny!"
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18 June 2008

My Rug Came

The infamous Turkish carpet arrived via UPS today. I hope you worriers are happy :)

A couple more pictures:

Breakfast in Antioch. They had great bread here.

In front of the library of Celsus. The second largest library of the ancient world, smaller only than the one at Alexandria; since it had to do with books, I MUST have my picture with it.


The gymnasium at Sardes. It's rather gigantic, as you can see by comparing the pillars to Duncan.

Chris and Walter found a see-saw at Alexandria Troas.

Delicious salad, back in Istanbul eating dinner on the terrace at sunset!

Betsy and Joy on our Bosporus cruise.

Arzu and the Blade chit-chat as we wait for the bus in Taksim Square.


That's all folks! Thanks for reading the blog and keeping tabs on me as I ran around Europe and Asia. Hope you've enjoyed it.

06 June 2008

I'm Home!

More to follow, but here are two pictures of our last night in Turkey.

We had another "Turkish Night" with live entertainment during dinner.


One of my favorite things about Turkey: the amazingly sweet fresh fruit! Here we have apricots, honeydew, quince, nectarines, cherries, kiwi, strawberries, and bananas.

It was a long flight back. But three airplanes, four cups of coffee, five chocolate caramels, six security checkpoints, two delayed flights, one sleepless night, and many "goodbyes" later, I am safely in Pennsylvania. I LOVE traveling SO much. But to re-quote George MacDonald..."The stars and the stillness are always at home."

Love,

Rebekah

02 June 2008

Going Into Hysterics

I have had ENOUGH BUS. Twenty people cooped up together for seven hours at a time soon become ridiculous. We have recently been treated to the following cacophony: five boys in the back of the bus singing "When the Roll is Called up Yonder" at the top of their lungs, more people singing "Three Blind Mice" in a round, theme songs being invented for everything from Ataturk to Magnum bars, Kirstie Westblade humming the Star Wars theme through a kazoo, loud comments upon every sight out of the bus windows, debates over Lutheranism vs. Presbyterianism, debates over Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, debates over music and food and oh my goodness, everything gets turned into a debate when we're running on five hours of sleep and have just seen our four-thousandth set of ancient ruins. It's not as bad as it sounds. However, the absurdity of it all has built up inside me until last night, I just couldn't take it anymore...we were out on the pier reading "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," and someone made a silly comment that set me off laughing till I couldn't even breathe. I almost rolled off the pier into the Aegean. But laughing is better than getting crabby or throwing a fit, right?

Seriously, since I usually respond to stress with hysterical laughter, I've been laughing a LOT over the past few days. Hence the title of this post.

Now, on a brighter note, we stayed in a super hotel last night near Assos. No one else around except a few donkeys, who were very cute, but the sea was lovely. I learned to skip stones on the Aegean. :) Oh, and they had a saltwater pool, which was unique and very good for playing Frisbee in. And we got to eat dinner and breakfast overlooking the beach! What could be better?

Anyway, it was a good relaxing stay, in preparation for the marathon tour today. We went to Alexandria Troas (where Paul had the Macedonian Vision and where the Gospel was first sent to Europe!), then to Troy (where they have a fake wooden horse and a bazillion walls from the nine different cities which have been built on the site), then to the Dardenelles (we got to take a car ferry across the channel), then to Gallipolli (where the ANZAC invasion of Turkey occurred during WWI), then back to Istanbul. I'm saturated with history and stories and wonderfulness.

Tomorrow we're taking a boat tour of the Bosporus, then we have free time to explore Istanbul some more. I think all of us are planning to attack the Grand Bazaar, a gigantic shopping hub of stores and stands and exciting things like that. And then we're going to find Prince Caspian. Kirstie, Jody, and I are determined to watch it before we leave Turkey!

Love,

Rebekah