30 December 2008

Banishing the Holy

"The bane of modern and current religion is [the] loss of the idea so closely identified with Love's might, majesty, judgment, and glory: the idea of the holy. Either it is lost, or there is substituted for the moral meaning of it the aesthetic, and for the ethical the seemly; so that the response is but reverence instead of real worship, attrition instead of repentance, an extreme regard to religious decorum and good form . . . but no equal regard for the type of life."
-P.T. Forsyth in The Justification of God

We don't like the idea of a holy God. It's so inconvenient. And so we substitute a more pleasant deity, institute a moral code with plenty of wiggle room, and dress the whole mess in saccharine tolerance.

But what does God say about His own holiness?

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire . . . and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years."
-Malachi 3:1-4

26 December 2008

Thankful EVERY Day: A Saviour Has Come

For love of His rebellious children and for His own glory, the Father sent His son to a rebellious world. The Son obediently humbled Himself, and the omnipotent Word of God entered His own creation as a weak, wordless, squalling baby boy. He died in our place, he rose in total victory, and the Spirit moved in the hearts of those He had chosen to receive Him . . .

. . . so here we are, two thousand years later, marvelling at the condescension of our suffering Saviour. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests. That's us.

Here's an interesting post from the Stand to Reason blog, on how we tend to misquote the angels and thus overlook God's particular grace to His people, something even evident at Christmastime.

24 December 2008

Talk About Revisionists...

What would Dr. Johnson say? Well, the author of our language's first real dictionary (a book full of witty and precise definitions) is probably rolling over in his grave. Just take a look at the latest atrocity perpetrated by Oxford University Press: a children's dictionary shorn of its "antiquated" words. These supposedly irrelevant words include goblin, kingfisher, monastery, radish, canter, and monarch. What?! Yes, and what's worse, the editors at OUP have replaced these lovely, meaningful portions of the English language with terms such as broadband, tolerant, celebrity, and cautionary tale.

No wonder we have ignorant, unimaginative children. No one teaches them about nature, or mythology, or history, or tradition anymore . . . goodbye, beauty and truth . . .

(HT: Reformation21 Blog)

22 December 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: The Wonder of Incarnation

"Gloria in Profundis" by G.K. Chesterton

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is split on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.

Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.

16 December 2008

Mellifluous Mondays...er...Tuesdays

It's SNOWING! And it's beautiful, if slippery. I have two exams tomorrow (Spanish and English), so I will have fun skidding around in the drifts on my way there. Hopefully, the roads will be relatively clear by the time we leave for the airport early Thursday morning. Please pray for good weather and safe travels.

from "London Snow" by Robert Bridges

When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silentily sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.

...now doors open, and war is waged with the snow,
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.

12 December 2008

Rolling the Cinnamon

The sponge. No really, that's what it's called when you let yeast and its food play around together and make happy bubbles...

En route to the pan, we pause for a little cinnamon-sprinkling action.

Tasty. Oh yes.

With a quick buttercream frosting (powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and water to get it to the right consistency).

Cinnamon Rolls

In large bowl combine:
2 c. warm water
2 Tbs. instant "rapid rise" yeast
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. honey
4 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
3 c. unbleached flour

Cover with towel and let sponge for 10 min. Add 1 Tbs. salt and more flour, until soft dough forms (until you can touch it without having it stick to your finger). I like to use at least 3 cups of whole wheat flour here, plus several more cups of unbleached. Knead on lightly floured surface for 5-6 min.

Now for the fun part. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a large rectangle, about 14x18 inches. Over each rectangle, spread:
1/4 c. softened butter
Plenty of brown sugar
A liberal sprinkling of cinnamon
Raisins, currants, dried cherries, craisins, walnuts, pecans, almonds . . .

Roll dough
tightly, starting from long edge. With sharp knife or dental floss, slice into 12 rolls. Place in greased 9X13 pan. Let rise in a warm oven (not on, just slightly warmed and draft-free) for half an hour. Remove pans from oven and preheat to 375; bake rolls for 15-20 minutes.

Once cooled slightly in pan, run knife around edges and invert onto wire rack. Invert again onto a platter and separate rolls with a fork. Frost generously with cream cheese frosting. For frosting, beat together till smooth:
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 T. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar, plus more to taste

11 December 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Presents

Brooke, dear sister that she is, gave me a LOVELY Christmas present this week. It's Lenox china with the most adorable painted butterflies and crickets and ladybugs...reminds me of Beatrix Potter-style art.

08 December 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Wallace Stevens

"Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" (1915). This seems to me like a poem written against the smug, unimaginative paralysis of suburbia. No one wants to learn; no one wants to travel; no one has anything interesting to say. In Stevens' opinion, even a drunk old sailor has a better life than the wearers of "white night-gowns."

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange.
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

06 December 2008

"Excessively Diverting": Austenbook

Thanks to my brother Luke for giving me this link. Austenbook is an extremely clever version of Pride and Prejudice . . . Facebook style. (Example: "Fitzwilliam Darcy became a fan of Fine Eyes.") You've got to check it out. I laughed a lot and you will too.

03 December 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Packages

I love snail mail. Everyone knows this. And if you didn't, take that as a hint to send me some. :) Anyway, I've received two packages in the past week, which has made me a very happy person.

First came a box full of love from the girls at CrossWay. Wow, that was amazing. Fuzzy socks! Truffles! Numi tea! Stationary! Gee whiz. Could it get any better? Then today, I got something less sentimental but equally valuable: an external hard drive big enough to back up my entire laptop. Mind you, this puchase is not merely practical . . . few things I do ARE merely practical . . . you see, it's slick, shiny, and a "sexy red color" (to quote my cynical father) and thus has some serious style. Good times all around.

So today I'm thankful for the postal service, for thoughtful friends, and for technology that works!

01 December 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Isaac Watts

"Man Frail and Eternal" (1719)

Our God, our Help in Ages past,
Our Hope for Years to come,
Our Shelter from the Stormy Blast,
And our eternal Home.

Under the Shadow of thy Throne,
They Saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine Arm alone,
And our Defence is sure.

Before the Hills in order stood,
Or Earth receiv'd her Frame,
From everlasting Thou art Good,
To endless Years the same. . .

A thousand Ages in thy Sight
Are like an Evening gone;
Short as the Watch that ends the Night
Before the rising Sun.

The busy Tribes of Flesh and Blood
With all their Lives and Cares
Are carried downwards by thy Flood,
And lost in following Years.

Time like an ever-rolling Stream
Bears all its Sons away;
They fly forgotten as a Dream
Dies at the opening Day. . .

Our God, our Help in Ages past,
Our Hope for Years to come,
Be thou our Guard while Troubles last
And our eternal Home.

30 November 2008

Weekend Pictures

A few pictures of the Feeney's house, where I spent Thanksgiving.

The kitchen was very busy on Thanksgiving. I think there were about 25 people at the Feeney's house that afternoon. And yes, they all were fed in abundance.

The nook of caffeinated delights. Behold the coffeepot, bearer of good tidings to sleepy college students! Honey, hotpot, and cabinet-full-of-tea played a starring role as well.

View out the kitchen window to the snowy backyard.

Three cheers (or more, if you'd like) for leather furniture.

Happy friends! From left to right: Mary, me, Tonia, and Natalie.

27 November 2008

Thankful Thursdays: This One's Obvious

It's Thanksgiving! How appropriate. I hadn't even thought about the fact that Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday when I instituted "Thankful Thursdays" this summer. How about that? Today I am most grateful for the Gospel: for the salvation which comes by grace, through faith, by the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ our Lord. No matter what else is going on, that's a constant source of joy!

Right now, I'm at Mary Feeney's house in Indianapolis. This morning we peeled potatoes, made salad, sliced baguettes, swept floors, rolled piecrust, arranged furniture, and other preparatory party sorts of things. I felt right at home. The Feeneys have friends and family coming over this afternoon, and it should be a lovely holiday. I'll try to post pictures later.

26 November 2008

Well, This is Interesting!

I find this really intriguing. My friend Mary told me that she'd taken the Myers-Briggs personality test and was surprised at the accuracy of the results: I gave it a try, and wow...it's good! Apparently, I'm an ENFJ (Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Judging), a type which various sources label an "Idealist Teacher," a "Mentor," and a "Sage." I recognized myself in almost every facet of the ENFJ description. If you've never taken the test, you should. If nothing else, it'll provide you with ten minutes of entertainment. :)

25 November 2008

Good News in Computer-Land

Thanks to Raj the outsourced Indian at Dell Tech Support, my computer's up and running. Hurray!

Ok, yes...I'm sure that my ethnic stereotyping is extraordinarily rude to poor Raj (or whatever his name was). But I didn't mean it that way. He was very nice and helpful. I won't hold his near-undecipherable accent against him. ;o)

Mellifluous Mondays (sort of): Carrion Comfort

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.
-"Carrion Comfort" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918

20 November 2008

Thankful Thursdays: A Crisis Averted

My laptop has gone postal. Thankfully, however...

1) The warranty has not run out, so I can get a new hard drive for free.
2) I'm on a campus full of computer labs.
3) Gwen is letting me borrow her external hard drive, and I haven't lost any of my documents!

Technology is great when it works, but when it doesn't, what a pain. Things could be so much worse, though, and I'm just grateful to have my term papers safely stored somewhere else. :)

17 November 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: The Gather'd Storm

"The keener Tempests come: and fuming dun
From all the livid East, or piercing North,
Thick Clouds ascend; in whose capacious Womb
A vapoury Deluge lies, to Snow congeal'd.
Heavy they roll their fleecy World along;
And the Sky saddens with the gather'd Storm.
Thro the hush'd Air the whitening Shower descends,
At first thin-wavering; till at last the Flakes
Fall broad, and wide, and fast, dimming the Day,
With a continual Flow. The cherish'd Fields
Put on their Winter-Robe, of purest White.
'Tis Brightness all; save where the new Snow melts,
Along the mazy Current. Low, the Woods
Bow their hoar Head; and, ere the languid Sun
Faint from the West emits his Evening-Ray,
Earth's universal Face, deep-hid, and chill,
Is one wild dazzling Waste, that buries wide
The Works of Man."
-from Winter by James Thomson

Yep. It's snowing in Hillsdale! Winter has officially begun (even though Thanksgiving hasn't even passed yet). And now we all have to pull our snowboots out of the closet, wrap ourselves in wool and feathers, and brave "the keener Tempests" as we tramp off to class. This should be fun.

16 November 2008

More Adventures with Yeast

Here we have the results of my latest kitchen experiment: a recipe from King Arthur Flour, hence trustworthy. Though I am still somewhat frightened of yeast (it's alive, for Pete's sake!), this turned out quite well.

Vermont Oatmeal-Honey Bread
2 cups boiling water
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon salt (I'm going to use a little bit less next time)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant or "rapid rise" yeast
1 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the boiling water, oats, brown sugar, honey, butter, salt and cinnamon. Stir to melt butter. Let mixture cool to lukewarm.
Add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a rough dough; knead (about 10 minutes by hand, 5 to 7 minutes by machine) until the dough is smooth and satiny.
Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour.
Halve the dough and shape each portion into a loaf, placing in two greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch bread pans. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the loaves to rise till they've crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour. (I actually let them rise uncovered in a warm oven.)
Bake the loaves in a preheated 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately and let cool on rack.
Betsy and I sampled one loaf for our mini tea party this evening; it was delicious with a drizzle of honey. I'll use the rest of that loaf for breakfasts throughout the week, and the other one is going to the Mu Alpha house posthaste.

15 November 2008

Psalm 104

"O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. . .

"Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in His works. . .

"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord."

13 November 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Convocation (and that which it represents)

Today was Fall Convocation 2008 at Hillsdale College. Essentially, we all dress up, congregate in a old beautiful church, watch the professors parade around in their academic regalia, give out the Daughtrey Teaching Award (which Dr. Jackson won, hurray!), listen to inspiring speeches, and remember why we came here in the first place: to learn. To pursue the truth humbly, eagerly, and thoroughly. To grow through our studies, learning how to glorify God and love our neighbor more and more every semester.

I am so grateful for a college of conviction, rooted in absolute truth.

12 November 2008

An Accidental Addiction

So I'm definitely addicted to caffeine.
If I haven't had any within an hour of waking up, I get a headache, and without several cups of coffee or tea throughout the day, I'm even sleepier than usual. (Granted, it's the time of the semester when everyone is tired 24/7, but still.) Ironically enough, I didn't even try to get hooked on caffeine; it only happened because I was so cold, I started drinking coffee at every meal in Saga. Apparently, my brain got used to it and now cannot survive without said coffee. Blast.
I'm not planning to "go cold turkey," but cutting back to two cups of caffeine a day would be a start, yes?

11 November 2008

In Defence of Chick Flicks...

Only good chick flicks, of course, along with Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables, Disney princess movies, and every fairy tale in which the knight in shining armor saves the day. Westley may be a fiction, but why shouldn't we set the standards high? Ideals need not blind us to reality.

"If what mothers mean by a good match, is the alliance of a man of position and means-- or let them throw intellect, manners, and personal advantages into the scale-- if this be all, then we grant [that] the daughter of cultivated imagination may not be manageable, will probably be obstinate. We hope she will be obstinate enough. But will the girl be less likely to marry a gentleman, in the grand old meaning of the sixteenth century? ...Will she be less likely to marry one who honours women, and for their sakes, as well as his own, honours himself? Or to speak from what many would regard as the mother's side of the question-- will the girl be more likely, because of such a culture in her imagination [that is, images planted by The Princess Bride or Pride and Prejudice], to refuse the wise, true-hearted, generous rich man, and fall in love with the talking, verse-making fool, because he is poor, as if that were a virtue for which he had striven? The highest imagination and the lowliest common sense are always on one side."
-George MacDonald in "The Imagination: Its Function and Its Culture"

Mellifluous Mondays: More Frost

A day late, here's a beautiful poem by Robert Frost. It's called "Bond and Free." The contrast between love and thought, passion and pure reason, reminds me of the debate which has recurred in my Englightement-era literature class this semester. Is is better to operate under the dictates of reason, free of this world's distractions and error? Or should we listen to human feelings and compassion?

Or . . . can we simply embrace both? I think the answer lies there, since clearly, God gave us both faculties, not to oppose but to complement one another.

Love has earth to which she clings
With hills and circling arms about--
Wall within wall to shut fear out.
But Thought has need of no such things,
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.

On snow and sand and turn, I see
Where Love has left a printed trace
With straining in the world's embrace.
And such is Love and glad to be
But Thought has shaken his ankles free.

Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom
And sits in Sirius' disc all night,
Till day makes him retrace his flight
With smell of burning on every plume,
Back past the sun to an earthly room.

His gains in heaven are what they are.
Yet some say Love by being thrall
And simply staying possesses all
In several beauty that Thought fares far
To find fused in another star.

06 November 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Echinacea

I'm sick (recovering soon, or such is the hope) and therefore sucking down vast quantities of Vitamin C and echinacea. I am so grateful for natural remedies like these, because they do help, and I do not have to visit the health center and pay for a batch of artificial antibiotics.

Isn't it amazing how a beautiful flower can also yield a potent medicine? I love how God works so many levels of goodness into His creation.

05 November 2008

Political Thoughts

I'm not happy that Obama won. But neither do I think that McCain was God's gift to mankind, and much less do I think that O's win spells disaster for life as we know it. I've had enough of these ridiculous prophecies: "Socialists will overrun America! Every other child will be aborted! Taxes will rocket through the roof!" Please, people. He's only the executive. The House holds the power of the purse; the Senate has more influence on laws than the president ever will. You should be worrying about our liberal legislative branch more than our liberal president. Constitutionally speaking, Obama can't make any of that awful stuff happen unless he orchestrated a Nazi-style coup d'etat and pulled the wool over the entire nation's eyes on the force of his own rhetoric. And pardon my French, but if he pulled that off, we'd damn well deserve it.

. . .

I live on a very conservative campus. I can only imagine what an uproar there will be today. A couple thoughts on the common responses I'm seeing:

1) Fear. How about these reassuring words from Scripture? "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). "Kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations" (Psalm 22:28). "God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth." (Psalm 74:12). If the Lord truly is King over all the earth, a paltry president should not worry us.

2) Hatred. Guess what? Obama is not the devil incarnate. He is simply a sinful man in need of God's salvation, and who knows, the Lord may be at work in him even now. I'm praying that He is. Nothing can stand before God's irresistible grace, not the most hardened heart and wayward soul. Do you think that it was any easier to save you?

. . .

All that said, I do think we're going to hell in a handbasket. Socially and politically, we have rejected so many of the foundational truths of our freedom that it would be hard to extricate ourselves from the downward spiral. Without respect for our constitution, and (more importantly) without the individual virtue that's required to make a republic work, we're never going to recover. The United States may not collapse, but it will soon look very different from what the Founders had in mind.

03 November 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: A Sad Woman

Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea,
London has swept about you this score years
And bright ships left you this or that in fee:
Ideas, old gossip, oddments of all things,
Strange spars of knowledge and dimmed wares of price.
Great minds have sought you-- lacking someone else.
You have been second always. Tragical?
No. You preferred it to the usual thing:
One dull man, dulling and uxorious,
One average mind-- with one thought less, each year.
Oh, you are patient, I have seen you sit
Hours, where something might have floated up.
And now you pay one. Yes, you richly pay.
You are a person of some interest, one comes to you
And takes strange gain away:
Trophies fished up; some curious suggestion;
Fact that leads nowhere; and a tale for two,
Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else
That might prove useful and yet never proves,
That never fits a corner or shows use,
Or finds its hour upon the loom of days:
The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work;
Idols and ambergris and rare inlays,
These are your riches, your great store; and yet
For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things,
Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff:
In the slow float of differing light and deep,
No! there is nothing! In the whole and all,
Nothing that's quite your own.
Yet this is you.
-"Portrait D'Une Femme" by Ezra Pound

This woman leads such an empty life, filled with "idols and ambergris and rare inlays" but void of family or lasting friendship. At worst, I think, she might be a courtesan ("great minds have sought you, lacking someone else"). At best, she's simply a crabby woman who refused to marry for fear of losing her independence, and now pays dearly in loneliness.

30 October 2008

Thankful Thursday: The Heart of the Matter

"Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land; thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.
Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of they people, thou hast covered all their sin.
Thou hast taken away all thy wrath; thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.
Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.
. . .
I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people and to his saints.
. . .
Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.
Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps."
-Psalm 85

Need I say more? Glory to our Savior!

27 October 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Oh, Shakespeare

12 Shakespeare geeks made the trek to the Stratford Theatre Festival this weekend in order to see top-of-the-line performances of Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew. We stayed at a cheap but clean hostel, visited several lovely little shops (books! tea! quirky hats!), ate delicious food, and got a lot of walking in. Stratford is a beautiful town and the October leaves made it even more so.

Stratford swans. The walk from the hostel to the theatre took us along the river.

After Taming of the Shrew on Saturday, we walked back and went to dinner at Cafe Ten, where we feasted on scrumptious curried sweet potato soup, penne Italian salad, and Bailey's cheesecake.

It rained on Sunday, so between lunch and Hamlet we pranced about the "Shakespearean Gardens" with umbrellas and cameras brandished.

My dear friend Jessica, with the roses in the garden.

Stratford has so many lovely buildings! It's an architect's dreamland.

Now for today's poetry: a few lines from Laertes, one of my favorite characters in Hamlet. He loves his father and sister, and he's got the guts to prove it.


22 October 2008

Thankful Thursday: Now For Something Completely Different

I know, it's only Wednesday. But I am SO grateful for a couple of the things on this list, I couldn't wait! This week, I decided to express thankfulness for things which don't exist.

1) Midterms. I conquered my last one today!
2) Hunger. Not only does Saga give me fifteen all-I-can-eat meals a week, I get wonderful food from church, Bible studies, friends, and my own experimenting.
3) The flu. Despite an occasional fit of sneezing, I've gone through two weeks of stress and late nights without getting sick.
4) Loneliness. My suitemates, classmates, dancing buddies, study buddies, and "adopted family" take care of that. In fact, I should probably impose some loneliness on myself for the next couple days before we go to Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Otherwise, I'll never get my homework done!

20 October 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Tea

This little lyric comes courtesy of my dear friend Gretchen Spencer, who knows the value of a good cup of tea.

We had a kettle, we let it leak;
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven't had any tea for a week...
The bottom is out of the Universe.
-Rudyard Kipling

16 October 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Library

Things I'm thankful for, regarding the library:
1) The Heritage Room has leather chairs, rare books, and fireplaces, yet students can use it with abandon. There's no better place to study in style.
2) We have interlibrary loan (so not only can I check out our entire section on Gothic literature, but also sack the collections of Wayne State and MSU!).
3) It's open late. Really late.
4) The friendly people on staff...who are patient with my mile-high checkout stack, let me take books home over break, pretend they don't see my illegal coffee and bananas, and work long into the night so we can too.

13 October 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Acquainted With the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain-- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
-Robert Frost 1928

This seemed appopriate in light of the late, late study parties we've been holding recently. :) More seriously, I thought it was interesting that Frost wrote this in terza rima, the same rhyme scheme used in Dante's Divine Comedy. But where Dante (by the grace of God) ascends from deepest Hell to highest bliss of Heaven, Frost stays in Limbo: uncertain, isolated, and unable to explain either his surroundings or his own actions. So very modern.

10 October 2008

But He Can

"O my Strength, I will watch for you,
for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in His steadfast love will meet me;
God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.

...I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.

O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love."
-from Psalm 59

I can't do this. But He can. Whatever "this" is (from passing an exam to exercising self-control) my strength comes from God alone, and His power does not fail. In the midst of distress, therefore, we should never give up, because our Sovereign God provides both a fortress for retreat and an unstoppable force for victory.

09 October 2008

Thankful Thursday: "I Don't Feel It"

I was reading Edwards's essay "On Religious Affections" last night and was particularly struck by this passage.

"Spiritual light may be let into the soul in one way, when it is not in another. So there is such a thing as the saints trusting in God, and also knowing their good estate, when they are destitute of some kinds of experience."
-Jonathan Edwards

For those of us feeling spiritually empty, Edwards advises that we look a little harder. God is with us, and He is faithful. His work lets in "spiritual light" in unexpected ways. Do we have enough to eat today? Are we safe from danger, and free to worship the Lord as we wish? Is God creating beauty in the world around us? Do we see evidences of His sanctifying grace? And above all, don't we know beyond a doubt that He has made us...saved us by His son...and even now sustains us?

Now, that knowledge may not immediately stir up the "experience" that we want. However, it TRUE, and our fickle emotions are not! Keep your eyes fixed on God and the eternal inheritance you have in him. It's constant, even if the "spiritual light" seems to be flickering. And for that, I'm deeply thankful.

08 October 2008

In the Midst of Lions

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

My soul is in the midst of lions...

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!"

-Psalm 58

Today's lions: no worse than usual. Homework, a Spanish quiz, several important phone calls, fluctuating emotions, and the prospect of two very stressful weeks after Fall Break. Put together, it all seems utterly overwhelming. But is it? No. God will send from heaven and save me. In fact, he already has.

06 October 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Flattery

What cannot praise effect in mighty minds,
When flattery sooths, and when ambition blinds!
Desire of power, on earth a vicious weed,
Yet, sprung from high, is of celestial seed:
In God 'tis glory; and when men aspire,
'Tis but a spark too much of heavenly fire.
[An] ambitious youth, too covetous of fame,
Too full of angels' metal in his frame,
Unwarily was led from virtue's ways;
Made drunk with honour, and debauched with praise.
-from John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel (1681)

A warning to all the "ambitious youths" out there, all too ready to listen to others' flattery or their own self-praise: watch out. The desire for power and fame suits God, who alone has the right to glorify himself, but in you, it's a ludicrous presumption. Soli Deo Gloria is a lot harder to put into practice than we think!

Edwards on the Excellency of God

"There is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness...there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance."
-Jonathan Edwards, from A Divine and Supernatural Light

Oh, Edwards. You're the man.

Essentially, this sermon expands on the awesome gift of spiritual illumination. That is precisely what I desire as I read Scripture and pray: the knowledge which pierces straight to my soul, brought by God's Spirit and not my own efforts. The glad consciousness of His "loveliness and beauty," the inexpressible joy which comes from that knowledge...a heartfelt conviction and not just an intellectual assent. As we all dive into another crazy week, may He bless each of us with that magnificent evidence of grace! May we know Him deeply and constantly, and may we never tire of His glorious presence.

02 October 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Rule-Bending

Yesterday I was the thankful receipient of professorial graciousness... i.e. Dr. Raney is letting me fudge the "rules" for my honors thesis and construct my own advisor committee, which means that I can work with the professors I want, thankyouverymuch. This thesis just gets better all the time. I love benevolent dictators. :)

30 September 2008

The Apple Pie

I am posting this recipe, which has been modified from the original, so that I don't forget it. A picture will probably appear later. This is the pie I've been making with the rest of the Mu Alphas' apple crop, then distributing to various male friends. (Baking makes me happy, and eating makes them happy, so you know, it works out for all of us...)

3/4 c. unbleached white flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. sugar
1/2 c. cold butter
1 T. white vinegar
3-4 T. ice water

12 medium cooking apples
1/4 c. unbleached white flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. allspice
1/8 t. ground cloves

3/4 c. unbleached white flour
1/2 c. quick oats
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. cold butter

1) For crust, stir together dry ingredients. Cut in butter until resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in liquid 1 tablespoon at a time, until comes together in soft ball. Do not overwork! Wrap dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

2) For filling, slice apples thinly and toss with remaining ingredients to coat. Let sit 5 minutes.

3) For topping, stir together dry ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly.

4) To assemble, roll out dough on lightly floured surface. Place in sprayed/greased pie plate (I like glass plates myself). Pile up filling in the crust. Sprinkle topping over and press gently to hold.

5) Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 45-60 minutes, until apples are tender and topping golden. Let cool before serving.

29 September 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Bake Me a Poem

I made this apple bread yesterday, as another foray into yeast baking. It turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. (Apples? Of course!)

Weave me a poem of ribbons and strings.
Hatch me a poem of feathers and wings.
Grow me a poem of sunlight and soil.
Paint me a poem of canvas and oil.

Build me a poem of timber and stone.
Dance me a poem of muscle and bone.
Bake me a poem of sugar and cream.
Sing me a poem. I'm ready to dream.

-Eric Ode

27 September 2008

SAI Charity Ball

The sink is a very important part of one's beautification. Behold the magic implements: curling iron and hairspray.

Me in my room beforehand. Daniella and I got ready together in Whitley, then headed over to the dance itself...

...where we were stunningly beautiful together. ;o) It was a lovely dance, with excellent music and food, an elegant atmosphere, and of course some of my Very Favorite People in the Whole Entire World. I've now been up entirely too late, however, and I need to wind down for a half-decent night of sleep. Maybe I'll read some John Dryden. That should have me snoozing soon enough.

26 September 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Free Apples

I know it's a day late; Blogger had an outage yesterday. But in any case, here I am, with photographs of yesterday's late-night cooking project. (This is how I amuse myself while sitting desk. Homework? What's that?)

The charitable and disinterested Mu Alphas gave me two huge bags of apples from the tree in their backyard. (Maybe not so disinterested, as they've since benefited from the pies and cakes I have baked using their gift...but we must assume the best.)

Peel, core, slice. Repeat.

After a little cooking, they grew softer...and started to smell really good. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey I added doubtless helped with the aroma.

Then they got mushy! This is one of the only times you actually want food to disintegrate.

With a lot of simmering and smashing, those ugly (sorry guys, you don't grow very attractive fruit) apples produced some top-notch applesauce! I'm planning to bake apple-cinnamon bread this weekend, and I still have enough for another pie and maybe more sauce. I'm reveling in the abundance of fresh fruit, and the best part is that I don't have to eat all of this myself: college campuses cause food to vanish almost immediately.

22 September 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Keats on Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

18 September 2008

Thankful Thursday: Cheap Stuff

The Women's Commissioners Rummage Sale was yesterday. I had fun shopping instead of doing homework...

Beautiful red satin ballgown for a quarter.

Sweet coffee mug (from Wales! with a Welsh castle on the front!) for fifteen cents.

I got a lot more, but these were handiest when I wanted to take pictures. :) For a total of $15.90, I purchased two wool sweaters, two skirts, seven glass jars with cork tops, three kitchen knives, a skillet, a glass pie dish, and of course the mug and gown. I call that a good day's work.

15 September 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Brooks Too Broad

Some friends drift away in the natural course of things, and others make choices which lead them down a new and solitary path. Sometimes the bond between you is stretched by time or circumstance, then recovers; sometimes it is decisively severed. And then there's nothing you can do.

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a lightfoot lad.

By brooks too broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.
-A.E. Housman

This is poem 54 in Housman's collection "A Shropshire Lad," published in 1896.

11 September 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Tiny

Due to the small size of Hillsdale's campus, no matter where you live, you can get to any of the other dorms within fifteen minutes. Off-campus houses might be a tad farther away, but they still are within easy walking distance. And this means that your friends are never too far to visit, whether you go to see them or they drop by to relieve your long, lonely hours of sitting desk (thanks guys :). I know this blessing will vanish as soon as I graduate, so I'm trying to take full advantage of it now.

08 September 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Mr. Toad (Wind in the Willows)

Well, I don't know if you could label this "mellifluous," as it's more doggerel verse than poetry. But since I've been reading a lot of Kenneth Grahame lately for my thesis, here is what's currently in my head. Besides, it's (unfortunately) appropriate for me, since I tend to puff myself up just like Toad. How clever I am, I say to myself. How very lucky my friends are! What a great contribution I make to the beauty and well-being of the world! How repulsive such pride must be to God. Why do we foolish humans insist on giving glory to ourselves, when it belongs to someone else entirely? God is the source of any good or "clever" thing we could ever do, and all praise ought to go straight to Him.

Toad apparently hasn't learned that lesson, though. What an absurd little braggart.

The world has held great Heroes,
As history-books have showed;
But never a name to go down to fame
Compared with that of Toad!

The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed.
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr. Toad!

The animals sat in the Ark and cried,
Their tears in torrents flowed.
Who was it said, "There's land ahead?"
Encouraging Mr. Toad!

The army all saluted
As they marched along the road.
Was it the King? Or Kitchener?
No. It was Mr. Toad!

The Queen and her Ladies-in-Waiting
Sat at the window and sewed.
She cried, "Look, who's that handsome man?"
They answered, "Mr. Toad."

07 September 2008


The Mu Alphas had a party at their house last night, and we danced in the parking lot till midnight. Que divertido. For the inquisitive, this is a pretty good YouTube demo of the sort of swing we do here; I haven't done all the aerials performed in the video, but I'm getting there! In situations like this, it definitely helps if the girl is small. So there's yet another reason I'm glad to be a shrimp! And of course, you have to trust your partner. A moment's hesitation, and I would have cracked my skull on the blacktop.

They play a really weird song in this clip (I think it's about a beer-drinking dryad, if you can imagine such an oddity) but ignore that. :)

06 September 2008

Good Bread!

I was sitting desk last night and couldn't possibly do homework the entire time. Reading The Horse and His Boy, writing worksheets for high school composition, and watching Casino Royale only takes up so much time. Thus, I made some bread: an experiment, you could call it, because I used a basic KAF recipe but added various spices and herbs. It was very easy, and it was good! Savory and dense, it would make a good accompaniment to soup. It also made the kitchen smell delightful.

After I locked up the dorm, I headed over to a friend's house off-campus for an impromptu party; the bread came along, and it was prounounced "tasty" (a term of highest approbation) by all who ate. Mmm. Bread tastes better when eaten with friends.

Next time I make this, I think I'll try it with raisins and nutmeg. It would be great for breakfast that way, perhaps with some honey or mild cheese?

The picture is not of my own loaf, but it actually did look just like this. I'll take a picture next time I bake.

Herbed Irish Brown Bread

2 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. unbleached white flour
3 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/4 t. tarragon
1/4 t. sage
1/8 t. coriander
1/8 t. ground cloves (optional)
1/8 t. finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 c. buttermilk (I soured milk with a few tablespoons of vinegar)
2 T. olive oil

Stir together dry ingredients in large bowl.
Make a well and add buttermilk and olive oil. Stir until mixture forms a ball.
Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead 10 times, until dough holds together.
Form into large ball (about 8-10 inches across), place in greased pie pan, and cut a deep cross in the top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and tests done.
Let cool on rack; slice into wedges and serve with butter.

04 September 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Dancing My Head Off

I love dancing, as everyone knows. When I left Lancaster for Hillsdale, I especially hated to leave my ballet studio. What will I do without ballet? I thought to myself. But never fear! When I got to Hillsdale, I discovered two new and wonderful things: first swing dancing, and then Scottish highland dancing. Now I do both with wild abandon. :)

This picture is backstage at the Tulloch Ard concert last March. The shoes we wear, known as "ghillies," are a lot more comfortable than pointe shoes...but that's not saying much. Anyway, we had our first highland practice of the semester last night, which is why I'm so pumped about it right now.

01 September 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: 632

This is a little gem from Emily Dickinson, who numbered her poems rather than giving them titles. The last stanza borders on transcendentalism, granted, but one could avoid heresy and simply interpret it as highlighting our intellect's key role in making us "the image of God." :) So without further ado, I present to you #632.

The Brain-- is wider than the sky--
For-- put them side by side--
The one the other will contain
With ease-- and You beside--

The Brain is deeper than the sea--
For-- hold them-- Blue to Blue--
The one the other will absorb--
As Sponges-- Buckets-- do--

The Brain is just the weight of God--
For-- Heft them-- Pound for Pound--
And they will differ-- if they do--
As Syllable from Sound--

31 August 2008

I'm the Domestic Type

"As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden-plot. For others the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime."
-Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

I'm rather like Mole: I need consistency and schedule, or nothing gets done and I feel empty and listless. Of course, adventure delights me as much as it did Mole, but also like him, I can't stay there forever. One can only travel for so long. One can only rearrange furniture, or dabble in new subjects, or cook new food for so long. Then it's time to settle (at least for a little while) and make the adventure your own, incorporating what you've learned or seen into that central core of your life, rather than popping off into a completely new sphere and abandoning the old.

I go adventuring in order to grow...to build...not to change utterly.

28 August 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Good Classes

Since I'm a senior this year, I have a lot of leeway in my class choice; no more core, and all I have to worry about are classes that I love (and that I'd want to take anyway, regardless of major requirements). Yesterday, I had:
-Prof. Westblade on Jonathan Edwards
-Dr. Somerville on Modern American Lit
-Dr. Wyatt-Hayes for Intermediate Spanish

I enjoyed them all, and what's more, those are some of my very favorite professors. :) In addition to those three courses, I've got Dr. Juroe for 18th-century British Lit, and I'm taking choir and writing a thesis. Finally (uber-exciting!!) I have Michael Ward, an Oxford don, for a special two-week seminar on "The Theological Imagination of C.S. Lewis." That's in October. I can't wait.

Funny story from Dr. Somerville: apparently, it was a fad among posh French gentlemen in the late 1700s to take turtles for walks. Did this display their copious leisure time, or was there a more profound reason? "Look at us, we're so rich that we can afford to fritter away the afternoon walking beside a turtle!" Sheesh.

25 August 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Short and Sweet

This is a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins: "Heaven-Haven," subtitled "A nun takes the veil." I'm not a nun, but this is how I feel when I'm in a stressful situation (any situation, really) and I pray that the Lord would shelter me under His wings.

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

23 August 2008

The Room

Here are a couple pictures of my room, now that I've finished messing with it.

Sink in the room; no running down the hallway to a communal bathroom.

Here's what you see as you enter.

Closer shot of the bed corner... and several of my precious posters. I've got at least four maps up on the walls! It makes me feel so cosmopolitan. lol

And this is my desk, laden with books and other very necessary paraphernalia. I'm glad to have my speakers back. :)

21 August 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Unhurried Schedules

Since I arrived in Hillsdale yesterday morning, I've had a lot of time for unpacking, arranging, and fun. After saying goodbye to my family and (sort of) tidying up my room, I spent a late evening with friends...laughing and cooking and playing games and just catching up on one another's summers. I don't think we split until sometime after midnight. However, I got to sleep as long as I wanted to this morning (no classes yet!) and then did a bit more to my room. It's still messy, and here's the only truly organized part of it:

Yep. The closet's the only presentable part. As soon as I finish setting up my room, though, I'll take pictures and post them! After I fiddled around with boxes and hangers for a while, I went to College Baptist Church, where there was a lunch for all the honors kids who got here early for a retreat. Nice to see everyone again. :) Now I am back in my room for another hour or so, and then heading out to Camp Michindoh for the retreat.

Here is Luke at lunch yesterday (a good and cheap Mexican restaurant near campus). I thought he was mature enough for college, but now I'm not so sure...

18 August 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Wistful Goodbyes

I leave for Michigan tomorrow morning, and though I'm thrilled to get back to classes and professors and my wonderful friends at school, it's hard for me to leave home this year. A lot of my relationships here in Lancaster have grown and matured this summer, so it's not as easy to say goodbye this time. I guess that's a good thing, right? :) Luke and I had a big party at our house last night and I was just overwhelmed by the blessings God has given me through my friends. We can talk and laugh and grow together, loving every minute of it and knowing that for each of us, the most important thing in the world is that God be glorified. How precious that is! Believers in Christ share something that nobody else will ever even understand, and what's more, that connection will last forever...because God's glorious kingdom is eternal, and so are our places in it.

Anyway, this is an Irish song about leaving your home and grieving over it, yet hoping to return someday. It's sung by The Dubliners and many other groups.


Farewell to Prince's Landing Stage
River Mersey, fare thee well
I am bound for California
A place I know right well

So fare thee well, my own true love
When I return united we will be
It's not the leaving of Liverpool that's grieving me
But, my darling, when I think of thee

I'm bound off for California
By the way of stormy Cape Horn
And I'm bound to write you a letter, love
When I am homeward bound

Farewell to lower Frederick Street,
Ensign Terrace and Park Lane
For I think it will be a long, long time
Before I see you again

Oh the sun is on the harbour, love
And I wish I could remain
For I know it will be a long, long time
Till I see you again

So fare thee well, my own true love
When I return united we will be
It's not the leaving of Liverpool that's grieving me
But, my darling, when I think of thee

16 August 2008

Stuff & Nonsense

Do we really need all this stuff?

Luke and I are packing for college this weekend, he for Grove City and I for Hillsdale. As the clothes and shoes and books and desk lamps and pillows and stationary and coffee mugs pile up in our respective rooms, I look around and wonder: how much of this do we really need?

During my packing extravaganza, I've tried harder than ever before to reduce needless luggage. In fact, I have thrown out more clothes this summer than I've purchased, and my "hm, I might need this someday" junk drawer has shrunk considerably. My packrat tendencies sometimes get the better of me, but on the other hand, I love organizing and simplifying my life, and that usually requires me to throw things away. That's fine with me.

Still, where did all this stuff come from?

And here is where I can begin to confuse thriftiness with folly, or self-denial with ingratitude. There's a lot to be said for contentment with fewer possessions and making do with what you have. I think our society needs to lower its standards of prosperity; Americans seem to think that in order to be "well off," you've got to wear something different for three weeks straight, own two computers (not to mention a cell phone and whatever other scheduling gadget you fancy), and have extra change to spend at Starbucks. Hello, people. For most of human history, you'd be rich if you had the simple guarantee of something warm to wear and something healthy to eat. The majority of the world's population today, in fact, would be thrilled to have a fraction of what you take for granted.

Yet in my case, this attitude--while it begins as something good--can become judgmental and ungrateful. First, I start wagging my finger at people who spend money on Corvettes and copper saucepans, telling myself that if I ever had that much money, I'd be content with something less flashy and give the rest away. That's a big problem with my own heart. It is not my place to judge other people's financial decisions! Sure, buying a $500 cooking pot would be stupid for someone in my position, but maybe it isn't foolish for someone else. God has chosen to bless them in a different way than He has blessed me, and the manner in which they choose to use that blessing is a matter between them and the Lord. (Didn't I just buy a pricey Turkish carpet, anyway?) Second, I begin to feel guilty about the nice things I do have. I am not willing to accept God's kindness to me, because I think it should be more evenly distributed. In those cases, I need to remember what the wise man of Ecclesiastes says about enjoying the fruits of your labor:

"Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God."

I don't know how I'd feel about inheriting a ready-made fortune, but according to the Bible, I'm allowed to use what I earn to buy and enjoy nice possessions...perpetually thanking God for the ability to do so, and making sure to share my wealth with others.

Interesting tension here. I suppose it'll follow me as long as I live, but I want to deal with the questions of "money" and "stewardship" in a wise way!

14 August 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Chiropractors

This morning, I went to our chiropractor Dr. Tierney (affectionately known in our family as "the witch doctor") for an adjustment before heading back to school. He popped a few things, stretched a few things, cracked a few things...

I feel so much better.

13 August 2008

Park + Lake = Fun

This afternoon, we took a picnic lunch to Sam Lewis State Park (over the Susquehanna River) and climbed around on the rocks there.

Then we headed over to Lake Clark, where we waded in and tried not to get completely soaked.

Rachel and Mark had fun finding shells and "cool" stones on the shore.

11 August 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Nonsense for Laughs

YOU ARE OLD, FATHER WILLIAM: a bit of nonsense verse by Lewis Carroll. I love studying Carroll for my thesis. :) He's so very quirky, and you're never sure what will come out of his characters' mouths next.

"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," father William replied to his son,
"I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door --
Pray, what is the reason of that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment -- one shilling the box --
Allow me to sell you a couple."

"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak --
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth; one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose --
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

09 August 2008

Into His Image

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
~2 Corinthians 3:17-18

I'm reading through a short history of Western philosophy this summer: a primer really, but suprisingly detailed and very helpful. (Oh, and it has pictures. That's always a good thing.) I feel so ignorant in this area, and I want to know what people mean when they say "he's a Hegelian" or "that smacks of Kant." Never having taken a philosophy class, I have turned to independent study. It has worked, mostly.

Anyway...what does this have to do with 2 Corinthians? Well, one chapter in the book focuses on the influence of Eastern religion on a couple of Western philosophers, such as Schopenhauer. Essentially, most of those religions emphasize a loss of our identity, making it the goal of a truly virtuous or enlightened person. We (in Hinduism) are absorbed into the divine spirit of the cosmos or (in Buddhism) become free of all things, even existence itself. No more consciousness, no more independence. The most glorious end we can hope for is a type of annihilation.

Now compare that to the promise of Christ. We will see Him face to face. And that means that we'll still have faces to see Him with! This is where 2 Corinthians comes in. St. Paul says that we are being transformed into the image of Christ...not into Christ Himself. That's a key difference between Eastern and Western religion, and I suppose it lies at the root of our divergent views of the individual. For Westerners living in a Judeo-Christian culture, one person's soul is actually a precious treasure, something which will be eternally separate (not something which will just be absorbed into the cosmos anyway). So we pay attention to individuals. To their minds, their hearts, their actions.

In a Christian worldview, we don't become part of God: instead, we become reflections and imitations of Him, magnifying His glory all the more through our differences. It's like a chandelier with a lot of crystals and corners. The light gets refracted and reflected because of the various angles and thicknesses of the glass, more so than if it were to shine simply against one flat surface. In St. John's vision of heaven, he can distinguish individual people around God's throne, each bringing his unique tongue and mind and culture to praise the Lord. There's no "homogenizing process" at the pearly gates. And even here on earth, though together we comprise the body of Christ, Scripture carefully makes distinctions between members. We don't all become a foot or an eye. The differences between us are created by God Himself, and instead of being smoothed out and mashed together, it is individuals--with all their quirks and splits and varying interests--who are used for His purposes.

As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, we become more "ourselves" as we submit to Christ, not less. That is, we become who we were truly created to be, holy and perfect, rather than sin-twisted caricatures. And that's why this 2 Corinthians passage refers to the Lord as the Spirit of freedom. Because He wants to bring liberty to His beloved children, he makes us into images of His Son. This process does not trample on our souls and minds; instead, it sets them free. There is more beauty and depth in Christ than we could ever see. Being made into His image, then, could not possibly be a restriction.

It's as if a horse who had lived in a dark, cramped stable all his life were suddenly unchained and turned out into an infinite world of excitement, beauty, and wonder. The stable was familiar, while the world outside was under the rule of some other master. Now, do you think the horse would complain just because that wonderful world belonged to someone else? Do you think he'd want to scuttle back into his stable, just because he preferred to be in control? I doubt it. To quote Lewis once more, I think he'd kick up his heels and run "further up and further in," becoming happier and freer the longer he ran. In the same way, in an odd irony, God requires us to submit in order to enjoy liberty. Yet He promises not to crush those who come to Him; instead, he picks us up, sets a crown on our head, and turns us to face the light of His own surpassing glory.

07 August 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Community

"The very fact that God, though singular in nature, is plural and societal in person, indicates that we should not view ourselves as isolated individuals who happen to exist in close proximity to others, but as. . .relational persons in community. . .so that what one does affects another, what one needs can be supplied by another, and what one seeks to accomplish may be assisted by another.

Living in isolation with the pretense of autonomy is, of course, 'the American way.' Our heroes are those rugged individuals like the Lone Ranger or Superman or Rambo who can do everything themselves and need no one's help. But when we insist on going solo, when the I-did-it-my-way syndrome strikes, we are rejecting God's plan for how we should live with one another. When we refuse to be in relationships of accountability and interdependence with one another, we are choosing to live in violation of God's created design."
--Dr. Bruce Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

I'm grateful for a loving family who cares about what happens to me, and for loving friends who invest their lives into mine. They are all models of Biblical community and bring great glory to God as they seek to imitate His character!

06 August 2008


Rachel and I had tea together.

Simon: "Happy birthday! Now you're 21 and you can do stuff."


Rachel: "How come Rebekah doesn't get presents?"
Me: "I'm too old."
Mom: "Um, no. Her presents are the wine and steak and all the other expensive food we've had today!"

Menu (always one of the most important parts of one's birthday):

Breakfast...yogurt-berry parfaits, bagels and marmalade, and Irish Breakfast tea
Lunch...taco salad
Dinner...grilled steak with mushrooms, broccoli, Italian bread, caponata, and a Chilean Merlot
Dessert...chocolate torte with raspberries and whipped cream (which was also good on coffee!)


Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.--Psalm 119 "Lamedh"

04 August 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: A Birthday Poem

Since it's my 21st birthday on Wednesday, I thought I'd post an appropriate poem today. :) This is "A Birthday Poem" by Ted Kooser. I really like the imagery, starting with a humorous comparison but turning serious in its carpe diem outlook: first, the sun as a dairy cow, but then the entire day just brimming with wonderful, joyful potential. And that is how I want to see every sunrise, not just on my birthday, because "His mercies are new every morning." With that promise in mind, we can truly say, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
So anyway, the poem. Enjoy.
Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

03 August 2008

Five Minutes at Our House

In case anyone had the slightest doubt regarding our (in)sanity, here's a short episode from one evening this past week.

Mark and I go to the back porch.

Simon comes onto the porch and starts to chase Mark.

Mark responds by picking up a stick and using it as a saber, shouting, "On guard, you foul fiend!"

The boys duel like a pair of French musketeers.
Simon has the worst of it and perishes melodramatically ("Ah, I am slain!"), but handily resurrects himself ten seconds later.

Seeking revenge, Simon picks Mark up by the ankles and dangles his head two inches above the ground.

Mark shrieks.

Simon proceeds to carry Mark (still inverted) out into the yard, hollering, "Birds, here are cookies!"

Marks continues to shriek.

Matthew flies out the back door to join Simon, slips on the way down the hill, and sits down rather abruptly.

Simon almost drops Mark because he's laughing so hard.

An Amish buggy rumbles by, and the befuddled driver slows down to stare at these maniacal children.

All three brothers wave wildly and do a sort of mangled chicken dance.

I am vastly amused.

01 August 2008

An Advertisement

Hey, listen up!! This is an announcement from Luke's personal PR agent, ME. Everyone within a 151.43-mile radius of Lancaster City should come see the upcoming performance of Godspell by Central Lancaster Country Homeschool Music. Why? Well, because it's a great show to start with. But more importantly, because my brother is playing Jesus and basically does an AWESOME job with it. Oh, and the rest of the cast is pretty good too. haha

I watched a rehearsal last night and it made me 1) laugh and 2) cry, which are both good signs.

Anyway, there are two performances, both on August 9: I believe they're at 3:00 and 7:00, but I could be wrong about that (some PR agent I am). Tickets are $5 at the door. If you are interested, ask Luke, because he will know more details. :)

Here's the address of the church where they are performing it...

Newsong Fellowship Church
609 Prospect St
Lancaster, PA 17603

31 July 2008


I apologize if my constant color-shifting confuses anyone. :) I'm still trying to figure out a color scheme that I actually like!

Thankful Thursdays: In Sickness and In Health

"A joyful heart is good medicine." (Proverbs 17:22)

Today I'm thankful that I have the flu. Huh? Yes, you heard me. Why? Because I'm commanded to rejoice in all circumstances, welcoming everything as God's kindness and wisdom to me. I don't know why I am sick right now, but He knows. And who am I to grumble against what He has willed?

On the other hand, I'm thankful that I can pray for healing without a guilty conscience. Praying for something to change does not mean that you're discontent. You can be thanking the Lord for your current circumstances, saying "Thank you for choosing to arrange it this way," even as you say to Him, "But please have mercy upon me and change it." Of course, your continued thankfulness should depend upon a favorable response. Instead, you need to submit your desires to Him, and trust that He will give you the best answer.

Finally, I'm thankful for my brother Luke: if a joyful heart is good medicine, he's a great doctor. Last night he came into my room and told me funny stories, engaged me in conversation (in spite of my crabbiness and sore throat), and generally distracted me from my awful self-pity. :) What a good friend. Thanks, Luke!

30 July 2008

Postscript on the mice

Dad did NOT kill the family of mice in the sandbox, bringing great joy to Rachel's heart but (unfortunately) giving said rodents the run of the backyard. One of them appeared in the garage yesterday; having injured his leg, he needed a little help (broom and dustpan) to exit, so Matthew and I put him into the lavender bed in hopes that he wouldn't die of sunstroke.

As long as the mice stay outside, I'm okay with it. They're cute in the appropriate setting...they're just annoying in the kitchen.

29 July 2008

The Magic Carpet

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, this is the (in)famous Turkish carpet. It arrived without mishap, just when they said it would, which is more than I can say for some American vendors. My dad wrinkled his nose at its relatively small size, but I am quite content with it. The colors match my room and the design is intricate, but not overwhelming.
Rachel and Mark dubbed it "The Magic Carpet" and had fun incorporating it into their make-believe games for a couple days after it came. Isn't it gorgeous? (My presence in the last photograph may or may not add to its beauty...you can decide that...lol) Now I have to keep the housekeepers in Whitley from vaccuuming it to death. I'd hate to come back from class one day and discover the fringes gone or something.