30 November 2012

Weekend linkage

My family is funny.

Jared: When we install the new cabinets we have to measure the space is between the radiator and ... um ... you know, the other thing.
Me: Wall?
Jared: Right. The part you can't walk past.

(He was maybe a little bit tired.)

Mark: Guys! I think a UFO just landed. There's a bright blue glow up there!
Matthew: Yes, that would be the sky.

(Dryly dismissive elder brother at his best.)

Ray: How much space do you need on the flash drive?
Jared: About half a gig.
Ray: Half a gig, half a gig, half a gig onward! Into the valley of death!

(Sorry Ray, you knew it was only a matter of time before you made it onto the blog.)

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Pregnancy happenings: Tadpole is moving a lot, particularly when I first wake up, during mealtimes, and right before I go to sleep. Like her momma, it seems, she enjoys good food and is eager to get it.

Finding GAP maternity jeans at Goodwill is exciting. (What? It IS!)

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Washington Post article on Susan Wise Bauer and infighting among homeschoolers.

Someone please, please, please buy this for me. I would absolutely wear it.

I thought this post from Rick Phillips was excellent: "Thank God That Christians Are Not Totally Depraved."

Tim Challies is giving away a set of Theologian Trading Cards. This cracks me up. The giveaway is open until Saturday noon!

From The Atlantic, an article about Messianic Jews in Israel.

This coat! So cute. And I like her minimal makeup. It's refreshing after all the industrial-strength eyeliner one tends to see these days.

28 November 2012

Well Written Wednesdays: a friend of your mind

Paul D sits down in the rocking chair and examines the quilt patched in carnival colors. His hands are limp between his knees. There are too many things to feel about this woman. His head hurts.

Suddenly he remembers Sixo trying to describe what he felt about the Thirty-Mile Woman.

"She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind."

-from Beloved by Toni Morrison

27 November 2012

"oh no, don't bother"

I have plenty of time to think these days. We are living with Jared's parents until our house is ready, a situation which-- while delightful in many ways, and nothing like those dreaded parents-in-law stories you may have heard-- leaves me at a loss for occupation. I can't do anything at our house right now, because all of the remodeling either involves heavy lifting or lots of chemicals. I have two small rooms to keep in order, which is certainly not demanding, and as for work, it comes in spurts: one week I've got ten short stories and five persuasive essays to edit, and the next week, practically nothing. I don't have any of my craft and art supplies with me (dumb. I shouldn't have put them in the storage unit) and even I can only read so much before my head splits.

So. Thinking. I do that.

(Plus plenty of sleeping. If you could stock up on sleep, oh man, I would have one fat account. Too bad I won't be able to draw upon it after the baby is born!)

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I wonder, for example, why it is so hard to let other people bless us. At least it can be hard for me.

One stock answer is pride: we believe that we should be able to do everything ourselves, so we don't want to admit our weakness and ask for help. I think that is a legitimate possibility. Pride poisons a lot of things. For me, though, I see another reason, and that's cynicism.

I mentioned this in a post over the summer. I tend to assume that people don't care about me and that if they offer to serve me in any way, they're doing it out of a sense of obligation rather than sincere love. Why is that? I'm really not sure. After all, for the most part, I enjoy blessing others. If I bring them a present or go out of my way to help them, I'm not acting out of guilt or legalism-- I am happy to do it!

Yet . . . I insist on believing that others don't feel the same way about me. When I am offered an unexpected gift, I get suspicious, and I am more likely to say "oh no, don't bother" than to graciously accept it.

That's silly. I want to have more faith in people, and less skepticism. I don't think it honors my friends to be insistently independent, to push away their help.

What other obstacles might stand in the way of accepting blessing?

26 November 2012

pastures and valleys [part IV]

Villa dei tre camini
{image credit: Il Medo}
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

---
 
"surely": the psalmist is certain about what he says. Why? Because his trust is founded on the host's character.

"goodness and mercy": things only God can give perfectly. Thing we all long for, and that are going to comfort and protect us in the valleys.

"will follow me": I love how personal God's care is. He doesn't just follow the church in general, or a family, or a nation. He follows me. And I love, too, the focus on the future here. What comfort for an anxious heart-- he will be there! Also, the act of following shows a kind of dogged loyalty. We're not going to escape the shepherd because he has pledged himself to us.

"all the days of my life": no exceptions. I never realized how absolute the claims of this psalm are.

"the house": something established. A place of welcome. And if it's the house of the Lord, it will be a grand dwelling. I think of a mansion, a villa, a temple.

"the Lord": the first time he has been called by name since verse 1. The psalmist is reminding us who the shepherd really is.

"I will dwell": the journey is over, but life is not. Dwelling is an active, living thing, a state of conscious bliss. Something to look forward to! And it is the ultimate fulfillment of all the pastures and waters and tables where we've rested along the way.

"forever": without ceasing. "No one will snatch them out of my hand."

24 November 2012

busting a cold

Yesterday I came down with my first cold of the season. Scratchy throat, cottony head, going through tissues like whoa . . . all the fun you could wish for.

Jared: How are you feeling?
Me: Sick.
Jared: Aww. Are you sneezy?
Me: Yes.
Jared: Are you sleepy?
Me: Yes.
Jared: Are you . . .
Me: Yes, babe. I am also dopey.

So out came my arsenal of vitamins and supplements, and today I feel much better. Hurrah! If you happen to be interested, here are the natural remedies I used to kick the cold bug:

Vitamin C. Make sure it's a buffered formula (with magnesium and calcium) because absorption is much higher that way.

Cod liver oil. This has tons of vitamins A and D. I take it every day regardless of whether I am sick or not!

Oregano oil. Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-all the bad things.

Water. Staying hydrated is always important, doubly important when you're pregnant, triply important when you're ill. Get yourself a good water bottle and keep filling it.

Echinacea tea with raw honey. Boost your immune system, stay warm, and get more hydration while you're at it.

Homeopathic nasal spray. Mostly it helps with congestion, which means that it allows me to sleep, which leads me to the next item . ..

Sleep! I actually took a three hour nap yesterday afternoon, and then I slept all night again. My philosophy is: sickness means no alarm clocks. If you need to take a big old nap, although you may feel bad about the things you aren't getting done in the meantime, in the end it's a much better investment of your time.

Olive leaf extract. I actually don't know much about this stuff (shame!) but it was recommended to Jared one particularly cold-ridden winter; it certainly seems to speed healing for us.

If I would have had zinc on hand, I would have taken that too. In my experience, it always speeds a sore throat on its way. Now that I am down to occasional sneezing and a slight headache, I am just continuing with lots of water, vitamin C, cod liver oil, oregano, and olive leaf.

Having a personal masseur also helps matters tremendously. But sorry, you will have to find your own-- mine isn't for hire. :)

23 November 2012

Weekend linkage

"We will choose plan number C."
-Jared

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Pregnancy happenings: Tadpole is a girl! :) We had the ultrasound on Monday. My favorite part was while the tech was trying to take a picture of the baby's profile: she had her arms stubbornly crossed in front of her face and kept moving her hands, and at one point, she looked as if she was trying to suck her thumb.

I don't know, you guys. There's just something surreal about watching your daughter (!!) wave her hands around on a computer screen. After waiting so long to see an image like that, well, wow. I can't quite believe this is happening. But she is . . . all 10 inches of her.

In other news, I have become an emotional BASKETCASE. Like, I've found a reason to bawl my eyes out every single day for the past week and a half. Does something happen around week 20 that permanently knocks one's hormones off kilter?! Please tell me this won't last forever!

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The only time I've ever found football commentary interesting: The Princess Bride shows up on ESPN.

Jane Austen can teach your child to count.

This book looks fascinating (and for that matter, I'd like to buy the cover artwork as a print to frame on the living room wall!).

Speaking of prints on the wall. A.A. Milne or Beatrix Potter for the nursery? (Or both?)

21 November 2012

pastures and valleys [part III]

dining_dinner - The Ridge Tahoe Resort Hotel
{image credit: Ridge Tahoe}
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

---

"a table":  We're taking time to sit around a table, so we are not eating on the run. It's going to be a leisurely, pleasant meal-- possibly a celebration!

"you prepare": as usual, the shepherd does all the work here. He is once again looking out for the psalmist.

"before me": this nourishment and comfort are readily available. I don't have to go on an expedition to find it.

"my enemies": the same dangers that presented themselves in the valley. Those who desire my hurt or downfall.

"in the presence": the Lord is not at all intimidated by these enemies. He is practically thumbing his nose at them. Nobody can deter him from his purpose. As in the valley of the shadow of death, he is providing comfort to his flock right in the middle of an apparently dangerous situation.

"oil": a sign of welcome, blessing, even divine favor or selection. "The oil of gladness."

"cup": literally, a drinking vessel. But figuratively, my heart or my portion of blessing.

"overflows": far beyond mere filling. God is abundantly able to provide and to delight. He's an extravagant host. His guests never lack (just as the sheep shall not want).

This seems an appropriate passage to post about on the day before Thanksgiving. :)

19 November 2012

pastures and valleys [part II]


La vallee sombre..
{image credit: David Augustin}
Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

---

"valley": there may be fertility and quiet in a valley, but it is strategically inferior. For a flock of sheep, it's more dangerous than a mountaintop.

"shadow of death": not death itself, but close enough to inspire great fear. One's life is being threatened in some way (whether that is literal mortal peril, or a threat to your wellbeing in some other way). More than an everyday inconvenience . . . this is a several trial.

"I walk": like it or not, these trials come. We must cross the valley. (A thought here: I suppose that the shepherd must still faithfully be leading the flock, just as he led them to quiet waters.)

"even though": a hint of something unexpected, contrary to our naturally fearful response to the situation.

"no evil": this is strong language with zero exceptions. Evil is terrifying, the enemy, death, Satan, wickedness of all kinds. Even the shadow of death? The psalmist doesn't fear that?

"for": now comes the explanation.

"you": we move from describing the Lord in third person to addressing him directly; this is a new note of intimacy.

"with me": the poor sheep isn't wandering through the valley alone. The shepherd, furthermore, is no passive bystander and no fellow victim. He takes action.

"are": not a future hope. The Lord is with the flock at all times, from entrance to exit.

"rod and staff": used both to fend off attackers and guide unruly sheep back into line. The shepherd protects us from a two-fold danger-- within, our tendency to stray into doubt or self-reliance. Without, the enemies sent by the world and its diabolical prince.

"comfort": we can rest even in this valley!

16 November 2012

Weekend linkage

[upon passing a buggy decked with flashing multicolored lights]

Me: I guess it doesn't matter if you're English or Amish . . .
Jared: Everybody wanna pimp out their ride.

The picture shows you what I've been doing at the house: scraping wallpaper. Jared commanded me to wear a mask because there is probably lead paint underneath the wallpaper. Don't worry, I only dealt with the paint for a total of four or five hours. I don't think the baby will have three heads or anything.

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Pregnancy happenings: I felt Tadpole move for the first time this week. Possibly the coolest thing ever. I remembered, suddenly, that there's another person living in there . . . that it's not just me getting bigger, but somebody else. Our family consists of three already!

In addition to being all kinds of amazing, it's also slightly freaky. I've never functioned as a house before.

We find out if Tadpole's a he or a she on Monday. Guesses?

Oddly, a lot of people have asked us if we'd prefer a girl or a boy. I think that is a funny question; for one thing, we have absolutely no say in the matter, so preferences seem somewhat pointless here. For another thing, even if we could influence the outcome, I don't think we'd care! Either way, I'm probably going to flip out with excitement, just for different reasons. If it is a girl, fantastic. I see womanhood as a wonderful gift from God, and I would be thrilled to have another little lady in the house. I like being a girl [well, most of the time] and it would be such a privilege to help raise one. If it is a boy, equally fantastic. I enjoyed growing up with so many brothers [well, most of the time] and I would love to have a son! So whatever the ultrasound reveals, there will be much rejoicing around here. :)

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Interesting Forbes article on banning email. It's focused on business practices, but makes points relevant to personal email as well.

I'm looking forward to this forthcoming book: The Gospel Centered Woman.

Ah, rocket science I can understand!

A beautiful persimmon centerpiece.

15 November 2012

pastures and valleys [part I]

Quiet Stream Near Rush
{image credit: Doug Wertman}
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters;
he restores my soul.

---

A little while ago, Jared and I took a brief course on reading and interpreting the Bible (of course, I was sick for two of the classes so that's not very helpful). Anyway, the aspect I appreciated most was when we'd spend the first part of class going over a particular passage of Scripture, word by word, thinking hard about what each little part of the passage meant. I realized that I am in the habit of reading quickly and looking for the "big picture." Not a bad thing, but it can cause me to skim over nuance. That is where a slow, painstaking approach is more beneficial.

So I decided to read Psalm 23 that way and see what I found. Here's a summary of my scribblings on the first few verses. More coming later.

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"shepherd": someone who cares for a group. He's been given a responsibility to protect them and so he devotes himself to that job.

"the Lord": the most powerful, the unchanging, the all-seeing one. It's strange that he would become a shepherd, a servant, but there it is-- our shepherd is no underling, he's the king.

"my": I am in the flock. I have someone wholly devoted to my welfare. Also, the shepherd isn't just watching out for someone else's belongings. "We are the sheep of his pasture." He brought us into the fold and is going to guard us henceforth.

"I": this psalm is remarkably personal. The Lord cares for me, not a faceless mass of sheep. He knows my frame and ministers to my soul.

"want": a need or lack. The shepherd supplies all that is necessary.

"shall": an expression of certainty. I am confident that the Lord-- the shepherd-- will meet my needs. No question here about his attentiveness to his flock.

"green pastures": places of abundance, beauty, and safety.

"lie down": we don't just pass on through. We can rest. The shepherd is watching over the flock and we can let go of any fears.

"makes me": this could mean makes it possible (because of his care, I can rest) or makes it obligatory (after all, we stupid sheep sometimes don't want to rest and insist on struggling rather than trusting the shepherd!).

"still waters": life-giving refreshment without storms or waterfalls to alarm us. We can drink as much water as we need. It's a place of renewal.

"leads": we don't know how to get there on our own. I must follow the Lord to find the water and the pasture.

"restores my soul": our weary hearts need renewal. Life inevitably wears away not only our bodies, but our inward selves; they need restoration so they can be healthy once again. The shepherd resupplies the faith and joy we lost along the roadside.

"He": the focus is ultimately less on the places where the shepherd takes us, than on the shepherd himself. All along he has been the real source of rest, peace, and refreshment. He spoke to us through those gives but their power came from him. The Lord restores us as he draws us to himself.

13 November 2012

in the house of God forever

Scotland - Isle of Skye: The Greenest Pasture
{image credit: John and Tina Reid}
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters;
he restores my soul.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

-Psalm 23

12 November 2012

if we were cats

Just after we got married, I did a post in which lolcats portrayed some of our everyday life. Here we are three years later.

This is Jared working on our new house.


This is me when confronted with the budget.


This is Jared listening to hip-hop.


This is me when I get a good book out of the library.


This is both of us when the other person is on the computer.


09 November 2012

Weekend linkage

"I’ve made up my mind. I’m voting for Antoine Dodson, all seats."
-Jared on election day

So you can run and tell that, homeboy.

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Pregnancy happenings: getting bigger (Tadpole is almost the size of a mango these days) but still stubbornly squeezing into my old jeans. On the bright side, I can drink tea again! Just in the nick of time, too, as we had our first flurry of snow this week.

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This hot cauliflower dish looks amazing. I picked up a head of cauli last week so I guess I'll be making it soon!

Belle in the 'hood. I have watched this about a dozen times and am still crying with laughter. Of course, it's only funny if you are really familiar with the original. Hint: "there goes the baker with his tray like always" has been revised to "there go Bonquesha, she wit' Detray like always," Belle visits the weave shop instead of the bookstore, and Gaston's pickup line is now "Girl, your daddy mus' be a cop cause you got fine written all over you!" (Language warning.)

Extremely interesting--and provocative--article by Joseph Epstein on "The Kindergarchy." I agree at some points, disagree at others. What thinkest thou? "One reads occasional stories about the spoiled children of the rich, those little tyrants of private schools, who wear designer clothes and mock classmates who do not; or about the kids whose parents drop a couple hundred grand on their bar-mitzvahs or sweet 16 parties; or of affluent suburban high-school parking lots filled with their students' BMWs and Porsches. In a rich country, a fair amount of this kind of sad vulgarity figures to go on. But what I have in mind is something more endemic--a phenomenon that affects large stretches of the middle class: the phenomenon, heightened under Kindergarchy, of simply paying more attention to the upbringing of children than can possibly be good for them."

The greatest tragedy of the recent election: "From 1973-1994 roughly 35 million babies were aborted. That’s roughly 35 million 18-39 year-olds who did not vote because they were dead." There aren't many socio-political issues I feel strongly about, not many debates in which I am willing to take a decisive stand, but my God . . . this is one of them.

07 November 2012

the love of God was made manifest among us

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another . . .

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and however abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

(1 John 4:7-18)

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John really takes the cake for compression. In approximately ten verses he jams in more truth than most pastors do in an hour of preaching (sorry, pastors . . . hope you aren't offended that I am comparing you with the Apostle John :).

06 November 2012

sour cream quiche

Crustless Quiche
{image credit: Joy the Baker}
What's for dinner? Um. We have a lot of eggs . . . I guess we always have a lot of eggs. Oh hey, look. Cheese! And other interesting things that we can mix with eggs!

*chop fry stir bake*

In fact, I think this is the best quiche I have ever made. (Bacon and sour cream tend to do that for ya.) If you are out of mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and green onions-- alas, a common plight-- you can always put in other stuff. I bet that broccoli and red onion would be another great combination. Also, sausage would make a delicious sub for the bacon.

I never add a crust to my quiches: 1) I don't want to bother and 2) gluten that I don't need. Feel free to use one if you'd like, though.

When feeding more than two people, you'll want to double the recipe in order to have leftovers for breakfast. It is most certainly that good. I see it as another reason for us to get chickens (we have a shed in the backyard that could convert into a coop, after all).

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Sour Cream Quiche

1/4 lb bacon
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1 small bunch green onions, sliced thinly (include green part)
3/4 cup shredded cheese (a blend of cheddar and Parmesan is good)
6 large eggs 
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour crea
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
dash of pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat deep-dish glass pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
2) In large skillet, fry bacon until crisp at the edges. Remove to plate; saute sliced mushrooms in the bacon grease, just until tender.
3) Stir together tomatoes, green onions, and cheese in mixing bowl.
4) Once bacon is cool, chop finely and add to cheese mixture; stir in mushrooms. Spread in prepared pie plate.
5) Combine eggs, sour cream, milk, basil, salt, and pepper in blender until smooth. Pour over cheese and vegetable mixture in pie plate.
6) Bake for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Simple Lives Thursday.

02 November 2012

Weekend linkage

"If this real estate thing doesn't work out, I can always go be the yeoman of somebody's cellars."
-Jared

This was after we watched a documentary on the British Royal Family in which we were introduced to their Yeoman of the Cellars, an intimidatingly knowledgeable personage with an even more intimidating French accent. Let's just say he had a lot of wine bottles in his keeping.

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Pregnancy happenings: According to the scale at the birth center, I have only gained four pounds since my first visit. (Jared is skeptical, and it does seem like it should be more than that, for the amount of belly that's popped out in the last few weeks. Well, I'm not complaining.)

We settled on our house this past Wednesday!!! Here I am looking into the middle bedroom, which happens to be the only room with wallpaper (thank goodness), suffers from a saggy ceiling, and will probably turn into the guest room in the near future.

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Did you know that Guglielmo Marconi almost sailed on the Titanic? Smithsonian has a really interesting feature on seven famous figures who escaped the disaster by chance.

Somebody get this for Jared for Christmas.

"Why Easter Means I'm Not a Sabbatarian" by John Stevens.

"Why Easter Means I'm a Sabbatarian" by Iain Campbell.

Three lifelines in any storm. "And the wind keeps blowing, and I keep singing these three lines like a lifeline, and what else is there always but these?"