30 December 2013

you don't have to, but you do.

In his wisdom, God has crafted a life for us that does not careen from huge, consequential moment to huge, consequential moment. In fact, if you examine your life, you will see that you have actually had few of those moments. You can probably name only two or three life-changing situations you have lived through.
We are all the same; the character and quality of our life is forged in little moments . . . You are daily on the job adding another layer of bricks that will determine the shape of your marriage for days, weeks, and years to come.
-What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp
If so, the question is how to build those bricks up solid. How do we use our little moments to construct something beautiful, instead of a rickety eyesore?

I think our motive makes all the difference. We could be motivated by anger and selfishness, or a grudging sense of duty. Or we could be motivated by love. Love makes us say, "I don't have to do this for you. But I will, because it is my joy to give you joy." And love creates an atmosphere that we can come home to.

Newly Married by William A. Breakspeare
Jared and I will celebrate our fourth anniversary this week. That's four years of inconsequential moments. Four years of ironing shirts exactly the way he likes them, of packing his lunches in the right container so they microwave evenly. Four years of rubbing my shoulders after I've had a bad day, of filling the gas tank on his way home so I don't need to worry about it the next morning. Four years of doing these things because we wanted to do them.

We didn't have to. But since we loved, we did.

Not always of course. Some days I only wash his clothes because it's my job. I'm sure he has felt the same. Certainly, when it's really hard-- when we're angry and hurt and don't want reconciliation-- it's not a loving feeling but duty that pulls us back together. We made a commitment and will stick to it come what may. Our covenant is our bedrock.

Yet over that bedrock, I think that our marriage has flourished through willing love, not cold "responsibility." Here's to four more years of that. And four more after, and four more once again, and four more till death parts us.

We don't have to. But since we love, we will.
Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.
-Phillips Brooks

27 December 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #19

Linked with Conversion Diary. 

Sorry about the oversized print. Blogger's being idiotic, and my options today are huge and tiny.

1)

"Spending money you don’t have is no fun."
-more Americans should take J's financial advice

2)

Ellie-- who already has six razor-sharp teeth-- is cutting another one. FOR THE LOVE. It's a toughie, and combined with a cold she picked up over the weekend, I'm afraid the poor thing didn't have the best Christmas.

She did, however, muster up enough energy to nibble some of Daddy's bacon on Christmas morning.


3)

And this is why I'm proud of my alma mater: Dr Arnn on the two ways of education and government
Bereft of the kind of questions posed by Socrates in the Republic—or the kind of questions raised in the Bible, or in the plays of Shakespeare—modern education treats students chiefly as factors of production, as people to be trained for productive jobs. And although we all wish productive jobs for our children, as parents we know that they are not chiefly job seekers or factors of production.
It's also why I will be fighting in the streets for parental authority over education, if it ever comes to that.

4)

Made these scrumptious macaroons from Zen Belly Catering over Christmas. I didn't bother with the chocolate drizzle and they were very good without it!

(My sister also made these chocolate peanut butter cups from Colorful Eats, and they were scrump. I may or may not have eaten four in one day.)

5)

From Politico: "Crystal Balderdash: the worst predictions about 2013." This is why I place so little faith in "experts."

6)

This is an interesting article in The Guardian: "The People Who Challenged My Atheism Most."
We are all sinners. On the streets the addicts, with their daily battles and proximity to death, have come to understand this viscerally. Many successful people don't . . . Soon I saw my atheism for what it is: an intellectual belief most accessible to those who have done well.
7)


And [John's] father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,  
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,

as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
-Luke 1:67-79

23 December 2013

prepare ye the way

This morning I read most of the first chapter of Luke; his account of the Nativity is my favorite, and so I'm going back through it these few days before Christmas.

Having grown up in the church and read the Gospels many times over, I'm quite familiar with the details of this narrative. But because it is God's word, of course-- because the Spirit makes it living and active-- it comes into my heart differently every time around.

Today I especially noticed the sense of preparation throughout the chapter. Everyone is busy getting ready. Every single event lines up and links together for the unfolding of this great Providence.
- Gabriel's announcement prepares Zechariah and Elizabeth for John's birth.
- John is destined to prepare a people for God.
- Another visit from Gabriel prepares Mary for her own child, and she herself prepares her heart to bear the Son of God.
- The two women prepare together for their babies' arrival, a pair of arrivals that will change the world forever.
And what I thought today, as I read, was that God is always doing this. Always weaving the world into His plan, either fulfilling His promises, or directly preparing to do so. Though we do not see this pattern fully, we can have absolute faith that it exists and that each moment of our lives is used in it. Nothing hangs free of His order.

As Elizabeth told her young cousin, "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

20 December 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #18

Linked up with Conversion Diary.

1)

When I was first considering how to introduce Ellie to solid food, I figured I'd do a combination of Baby Led Weaning (letting the child feed herself with pieces of "real" food) and the traditional pureed, spoonfed stuff.

Well. BLW is so easy and Ellie likes it so much that purees have yet to make an appearance.

It's fun to give Ellie pieces of our dinner and watch her carefully manipulate it with her chubby fingers. Thus far she has enjoyed broccoli, oranges, green beans, zucchini, mango, apple, bananas, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, carrot, pineapple, oatmeal pancakes, eggs, rice pasta, and any kind of chicken-- including chicken with ras al hanout or spicy coconut broth all over it! Not afraid of flavor, this girl.

She does not like avocado, kiwi, or anything that you try to give her on a spoon. Except for whipped cream.

She still nurses a lot, but she gets a bit of solid food about three times a day.

I typically make myself fried eggs and a smoothie in the morning. Now that she knows she's allowed to share, she gets really excited when I sit down next to her with my plate of eggs, and flaps her arms anxiously until I cut her a piece of yolk and hand it over.

2)

Here's some incredible photography of individual snowflakes.

3)

JFK, the Mandela funeral, and everyday coincidences that we only notice in a crisis. "Man is good at finding patterns, sometimes where there is only noise. At a more sophisticated level, people don't always act the way we expect them to. When you put these together, you can find a lot of things that look like well-planned cover-ups."

4)

Oh, Mr Obama. Pajama Boy was not a good idea.

5)

Just in time for the holiday: how to survive "Christmas Shoes." I just turn the radio off.

6)

Even Prince Charles knows that Christians are being violently targeted in the Middle East, and that the media isn't covering it. (I do, however, disagree with his characterization of Islam as a religion fundamentally based on love and human rights.)

7)

"Based on a True Story? Fact Checking Six Oscar Contenders."

16 December 2013

the essence of family.

Daily Odd Compliment Tumblr

It's true. Remember this post?

I do feel kinda sorry for the people who marry into our clan. Because half of our conversations consist of inside jokes.

But I love that. We have a very distinct family culture, thanks to a number of factors (primarily homeschooling, which allowed us to cultivate our weird sense of humor nearly 24/7, and parents who insisted that we get along rather than hide in our rooms).

I'd like to create such a culture in my own nest too. Shared memories and rituals that bind us-- Jared and me, and our children-- together in a way that genetics alone can't.

Daily Odd Compliment Tumblr

I find these connections particularly important in an increasingly rootless world.

In every aspect of life, we seem to be wandering. This world has misplaced its moral compass. It pretends that history is one vast Dark Age, thereby cutting us loose from the past, and its continual discontent fosters instability in our personal lives. While a strong family culture is not the ultimate solution, I do see it as a way to fight back against the chaos.

13 December 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #17

Linked up with Conversion Diary.

1)

We are all Christmas'd up in here. Tree decorated, Nativity set, wreath on the door, candles-- even snow! And half the presents are wrapped already!

In the midst of present-wrapping, Ellie finds a treasure.

I'm one of the die-hards who refuse to turn on the holiday music before December 1st. Now, however, you'll hear it quite a lot. :) We have been especially enjoying Phil Wickham's Christmas album.


2)
 
Ancient city discovered underwater. Do I need to say more?

3)

Wait But Why tells you how to name your baby. Haha. I am definitely in Category #1. Jared leans toward Category #3, but I lured him over to my side this time 'round.

4)

If you had to take the American Citizenship test, would you pass?

5)

Three thoughtful pieces for when you have time to read. First, "A Non-Religious Case Against Same-Sex Marriage" by Michael Bauman (who is incidentally a prof at Hillsdale GO CHARGERS).

Second, "Kitsch and the Kitchen Sink: Andrew Wyeth and Thomas Kinkade" by Dwight Longenecker.

Third, "On Football, Warrior Culture, and Manhood" by Owen Strachan.

6)

Is the "new and improved" Obamacare really any better? Nope. "Someday, when it comes to the rollout of Obamacare, I will assume that things cannot possibly get worse, and blessedly, I will be right."

7)

Now everyone should go goggle over the pictures from my little brother's wedding. Because PRETTY. And HAPPY. And YAY.

(And because Ellie has a cameo and it is hilarious.)

09 December 2013

a bowl of breakfast. or snack. or whatever.

We have a lot of granola recipes floating around the blog, but this is the most straightforward. It is crunchy, delicious, fairly low in sugar, and high in good fats. Also, if you need to avoid gluten, soy, or dairy . . . voila.

I kind of eat a lot of this.

Because I don't chop up the almonds and like to use large pieces of coconut, the granola ends up with a nice hearty texture. You can stir in some golden raisins or dried cranberries once it cools. I usually keep it simple.

---

Simple Honey Granola
(a spin on this recipe from Shutterbean)

6 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or chips
1 cup whole almonds
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
2/3 cup honey

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Stir together oats, coconut, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt in large mixing bowl. Add coconut oil and honey, and stir to coat.
3) Spread granola evenly on prepared baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes; stir gently, then return to oven and bake 10 more minutes, until golden on top. Watch carefully the last five minutes to make sure it does not burn.
4) Let cool and store in airtight container. (This makes quite a bit so I freeze some of it for later.)

*Or chopped pecans or cashews or heck, even plain pumpkin seeds, which are what ended up in the pictured batch.

08 December 2013

Weekend linkage // 7QT #16

Shared with Conversion Diary.

1)

"Why don't they just call it a poomeranian?"
--J on seeing a sign advertising pomapoo puppies

2)

My brother got married two days after Thanksgiving; since we spent most of Friday packing, driving, and having fun at the rehearsal dinner, no linkage last week. But we're baaaaack!

Taking a break from the festivities.

Ellie behaved like a near-perfect little angel. At the rehearsal dinner we kept her amused with spoons (possibilities endless: bang on high chair, click on teeth, drop on floor), plus sampling our zucchini sticks and whipped cream. She didn't sleep too well in the hotel room, but on Saturday a toy and a bottle occupied her during the wedding ceremony. After a nap on Daddy's shoulder, she was ready to party at the reception. So we did that.

3)

"Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future." Terrifying and sobering. I think that antibiotics are, in theory, a modern miracle. It's their indiscriminate overuse that makes me angry-- and increasing antibiotic resistance is one of the reasons why.

4)

A list of German words for which we've no good English equivalents. (Baggerspion: the urge to peek into boarded-up construction sites, literally digger-truck-spyhole.)

5)

"On high school and college campuses and in certain political and social media circles, the growing visibility of a small, but semantically committed cadre of young people who . . .  self-identify as genderqueer — neither male nor female but an androgynous hybrid or rejection of both — is challenging anew the limits of Western comprehension and the English language." I just cannot with this.

6)

Since babies are always playing with their parents' phones anyway. (And this one is quite dorkalicious.)

While we're on Etsy: I NEED THEM.

7)

I debated whether or not to share the following link, but I think it is important. Please keep in mind that it's highly disturbing; I chose not to watch the video, because the graphic description was sufficient to fill me in. If you have children around, you will want to filter this just as you'd filter news of a rape or pedophilia.

So: Violent Mob of Pro-Abortion Women Attack Praying Men Defending Cathedral in Argentina. Click through for more details.

I'm sharing the link because it's like the Gosnell trial all over again: the mainstream media is not covering this. If pro-life men had attacked pro-abortion women, you can bet that it would be all over the news. As it stands . . . silence. And since a social media uproar helped to bring the Gosnell scandal to light, I think the same thing can happen with this.

02 December 2013

the right kind of sheltered

We all like to laugh about "sheltered homeschoolers," and homeschoolers probably laugh hardest. Nothing beats a little self-deprecation.

Though a child of the nineties, I never heard "Hit Me Baby One More Time" before my freshman year in college. And I still can't differentiate between 'N Sync and The Backstreet Boys. Truly a homeschooled innocent par excellence (or maybe not: I could pick Luke Skywalker out of a police lineup).

Sure, my cultural ignorance set me up for teasing. But it was worth it. I don't regret "missing out" on the slop served up by Seventeen. More time to read Shakespeare! Not that he's so squeaky clean himself . . . codpieces, anyone?

Emmie and Her Child, Mary Cassatt
Now, although my daughter is only eight months, I spend a lot of time thinking about what she hears and sees. I wonder what I will try to protect her from. And remembering my own experience, well, I don't care if she knows who is topping the charts or if she is "ignorant" about the antics of her generation's starlets.

That kind of sheltering's fine by me.

I do want Ellie to know, though, about the truly important things in the world. We sponsor three children through Covenant Mercies, and I want her to understand why they need help. She needs to realize that many people in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Zambia go hungry. They don't get education or medicine, and they may never hear the Good News.

We will do our best to protect Ellie from experiencing the filth floating around her. Shield her from reality, though? From knowing that the filth exists? No. Creation groans as it waits for deliverance. We won't pretend otherwise. We will hold her hand and introduce life to her slowly, but ultimately we want Ellie to grow up into a woman. Not a girl, but a woman, who can face the dark world without being thrown-- one who has a backbone and a solid anchor in Christ.