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.

28 July 2008

This Summer

That of which my days largely consist (how's that for scrambling a sentence for the sake of grammar?): tea and books.


I'm liking the Irish Breakfast tea. As far as books go, I have an absurd number on my nightstand right now. They range from William Wilberforce to F. Scott Fitzgerald to Susan Cooper to C.S. Lewis.


Between my philosophy, fantasy, theology, essays, and depressing modern literature, I think I have a fairly well rounded list.

Mellifluous Mondays: John Donne

Here we have a sonnet from the Elizabethean poet John Donne. Known at first for writing rather raunchy love poetry, Donne was converted in later life and turned his talents to another use. (Not that love poems are bad in themselves, of course. But his libertine lifestyle was not so great...) He wrote a series called the "Holy Sonnets," and this one is one of the most famous. It's a beautiful plea for God's Spirit to soften the poet's heart by any means possible, even trial and pain.

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

--John Donne, c. 1610

25 July 2008

Aw...I love my siblings

They're pretty cute. (And they like the beach.)
Today Rachel, Mark, and Matthew found a nest of mice in the sandbox. Rachel was horrified to hear that when Dad gets home, he'll probably massacre the babies and dump them all into the cornfield...so she's making signs to picket and protest. "Save the mice," "We love mice," and sentiments of that sort.
Someday she'll realize that her hamburger is dead Ferdinand.

24 July 2008

A Thankful Thursday (with help from William Wilberforce)

Wilberforce on perpetually immature Christians:

"There are many who satisfy themselves with what may be termed general Christianity. They feel a general penitence and humiliation from a general sense of sinfulness and have general desires for holiness. Yet they neglect this vigilant and zealous care with which they should labor to destroy every particular form of corruption. . .So we see little progress in their development of faith or in the reform of their plan of life. They will confess in general terms to be miserable sinners. But it is an expression really of secret self-complacency. We need to warn such persons that there is no shortcut to holiness."

- - -

I'm thankful that because of the godly leadership at CrossWay Church of Lancaster, no member of the congregation can get away with "general desires for holiness." In sermons, small groups, and face-to-face conversations, my church family asks pointed questions and gives specific challenges. What sin are you struggling with? How can I pray for you? How has God shown his faithfulness to you this week? If you come to CrossWay, "self-complacency" goes out the window-- and that's just how it should be. How wonderful it is to see God's grace at work in our hearts, filing away at sin and transforming us into the image of His perfect Son!

In particular, the leaders of the young adults ministry know that "there is no shortcut to holiness," and they want us to push on through the difficult work of sanctification. Growth is hard. But the reward at the end is so very worthwhile.

23 July 2008

Fear and Faith

Going to college? Going to work? Going anywhere your faith will be challenged?

Read this. Titled "Freshman Fears," it's an article by Ted Slater at Boundless Line. In it, Slater responds to a college freshman afraid of "letting Jesus down" as he interacts with atheistic classmates. The article's advice will encourage any Christian who wants to nurture his or her faith in a difficult environment, and then share it with a hostile, unbelieving world.

One of my favorite quotes:
Clever arguments may be of some worth but being prepared to speak words of life is of eternal worth. . .The Lord converts people, draws them to Himself by His merciful kindness; we ultimately don't draw anyone through our clever words.

22 July 2008

Psalm 3

Many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

I cried aloud to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy hill. . .

Salvation belongs to the Lord.

(Psalm 3:2-4, 8)

21 July 2008

Casting Your Cares...

"I see more and more that nothing will do for anybody in my circumstances but an absolute enthusiastic confidence in God."
--George MacDonald

Mellifluous Mondays: The Lady of Shalott

I'm instituting a new tradition: "Mellifluous Mondays."

mellifluous: adj. Having a smooth rich flow. (From Middle English mellyfluous, from Late Latin mellifluus, from Latin mel honey + fluere to flow; akin to Gothic milith honey. That is for the word geeks. Three cheers for etymology.)

So: "a smooth rich flow." It's an excellent description for poetry, and as I'm a poetry fan, I decided to use Monday posts for exhibiting poems which tickle the ear, stir the heart, and are just well worth reading. There are enough good poems to fill a thousand blogs, so I doubt I'll run out any time soon.

In any case, here is Exhibit A, "The Lady of Shalott" by the great Victorian poet Lord Alfred Tennyson. For anyone who likes Anne of Green Gables, you'll remember than Anne recites this in the opening sequence of the first movie, and that she and several of her friends attempt to reenact the Lady's death with rather soggy results. :) The poem deals with a woman who has lived all her life in a safe tower, barred from both the pain and joy of the world outside. When she finally realizes what she has missed, she decides that the reflections and shadows with which she has contented herself thus far are cheap fakes in comparison to real life. That's a good thing to conclude, right? Now she should leave the tower and her little fantasy land, and start living in the real world.

However, Tennyson doesn't believe in happy endings. Therefore, the Lady does not leave. Instead, she believes that it's too late for her to enter the world outside her tower; in particular, she sees Lancelot riding by and falls in love with him, but has no hope of even meeting the guy, let alone marrying him. So like a typical Victorian heroine, she dies of a broken heart. Que triste. Why couldn't she have just found an honest farmer to marry, raised a bunch of noisy kids, and lived happily in the village outside Camelot? Well, I guess farm life wouldn't have suited such a sappy dame.

The poem is very long, so I'm only posting a few of the best stanzas. To read the rest, go here.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott. . .

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear. . .

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights

And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott. . .

His broad clear brow in sunlight glowed;
On burnished hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flowed
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott. . .

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right--
The leaves upon her falling light--
Through the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott. . .

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."

18 July 2008

Big Fluffy Rolls

I have always been a bit scared of yeast. I mean...it's alive. If I try to bake with it, who knows what could happen? And it's so persnickety. Sometimes you use warm water, sometimes hot water, sometimes very hot water, and please tell me HOW am I supposed to tell the difference without using a Cordon-Bleu certified thermometer? Then there's the temperature of the room and the speed of rising and punching and kneading and the extra smidge of flour that it may or may not need depending on humidity. Eek. Yeast has scared me away for years, because dealing with a small brown bacteria more demanding than a two-year-old does not sound like a pleasant way to spend my afternoon.

But this summer, I decided to conquer the Yeast Monster and show it who's boss. Of course, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I had thought, and so far I've succeeded in making some really good cinnamon rolls, pita bread, pizza, and now hamburger rolls. (I have yet to try 100% whole wheat bread.) Surprise: yeast is fun. You can mash your stress into a big old hunk of dough, shape it into a myriad of twists, loaves, and spirals, and when you take it out of the oven, you have the paradisal aroma of freshly baked bread as your reward. Oh, and it tastes good.

Anyway, if you ever wanted to know how to make fat, soft sandwich rolls with a minimum time requirement (supposedly, you can have these done in under an hour), here's how. First pictures:

Rolls rising. They have a lot of yeast, more than a typical recipe, so they puff up like mad.

Just coming out of the oven.

And here are my beauties, inside and out. Now the recipe: you can cut it in half if you don't need so VERY many rolls. But in our house, this is the right amount.


2 1/4 c. very warm water
3 rounded T. instant yeast
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. honey
2 eggs
2 t. salt
4 c. unbleached flour
4 c. whole wheat flour

Combine water and yeast. Add olive oil and honey; mix well, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Add eggs, salt, and half the flour. Mix thoroughly. Continue to add flour until dough cleans the side of the bowl and feels soft and springy to the touch. (You may need more flour than called for.) Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place on floured or sprayed counter and cover with clean towel; let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 F. Divide into rolls* and cover with towel again; let rise 10 minutes. Bake on sprayed cookie sheet or preheated stone 8-10 minutes, and let cool on wire rack.

*As far as the number of rolls goes...I usually divide half the dough into eight rounded portions, flatten them slightly, and use those as hamburger rolls. Then I divide the other half into twelve portions; the smaller size makes them great for breakfast rolls. So I end up with twenty rolls from this recipe.

16 July 2008

Yes, Yes...

...I did indeed change the color scheme. I got tired of coral pink and wanted something a bit...tamer. :)

My wings don't sail me to the sky
On my own these wings won't fly
Jesus told me so
Still I'm not so sure that I know

Can't find no rest for my soul
Can't find no rest on my own
Jesus told me so
Still I'm not so sure that I know

Man, the trouble is
We don't know who we are instead

--Jars of Clay

15 July 2008

Psalm 46: For the Weary

For those who feel frustrated and tired, as if no one understands their troubles, as if no help will ever come in their hardship:
"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress...He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 'Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!' The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."
Did you catch that? Ultimately, the psalmist's hope isn't in his own comfort. He does not rejoice on account of what God will do for him. He rejoices because of what God will do for Himself! The Lord will be exalted, and that is enough for us...for in His exaltation, the earth is put to rights and wars cease. When He is lifted high, His people are made glad. When He comes first, all other good things will follow.
The Lord of hosts is our fortress, and He will reign over the earth once more. He will glorify Himself, no matter what, and His triumph will sweep away every obstacle and bring in glory and joy beyond our comprehension. That's a promise, and God keeps His promises--every last one.

14 July 2008

Non Nobis: Kenneth Brannagh's Henry V

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis
Sed nomini tuo da gloriam.

(Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.)

This is a GOOD MOVIE. And the placement of the "Non Nobis" is very thought-provoking; it's right after a gory battle in which not only soldiers die, but also children who ought to have been protected by the laws of war. Can Henry truly claim God's stamp of approval on his victory, or has he been fueled more by a desire for his own glory than for the things of God? Was the "honor" the men supposedly won worth the destruction which accompanied it? They seem to think so.

I can't answer these questions. War is beyond me. Maybe some day it will make more sense, but right now, I can't judge one way or another.

12 July 2008

Philadelphia: History and Deliciousness

Grandma at the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier (yes, that's its full name) in Washington Square.

Matthew loves him some cheesesteak.

The Franklin Fountain: some of the best ice cream ever, complete with retro decor, soda jerks, and old-fashioned flavors.

Grandma and I split a "Southern Sympathizer." It has rum raisin and pistachio ice cream, fudge sauce, whipped cream, praline candy, and pecans and pistachios on top.

Ice cream makes us happy. (This is my cousin Christen and I on the way home.)

Whenever my Aunt Darlene comes to visit, we have to go find an adventure. This time, it was a trip to Historic Philadelphia: Matthew, Christen, myself, Aunt Darlene, and Grandma. Oh, and Bailey the seeing eye puppy. Bailey was pretty good, all things considered, though she hated the fife and drum corps outside of Carpenter's Hall.

11 July 2008


"I am content to fill a little space if God be glorified."
--Susanna Wesley

My own heart rarely displays such humility. What about yours? Isn't the proclamation of God's glory a more worthy ambition than any? And wouldn't it be absurd to set your sights on a lesser goal? "Filling a little space" no longer seems second-rate if you can trust the Lord to work through it.
. . .
A short time in obscurity will be forgotten in the splendor of Heaven, where Christ's elect "will see His face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." (Revelation 22) To reign with Christ-- that's well worth any "little space" He gives me in this life.

09 July 2008

Sweet Book-finding Site

So. If you're looking for textbooks this summer, as many of us are (argh), you absolutely MUST check out BigWords.com. I have a link in the sidebar now, too. :) This website is:
*Easy to use
*Very comprehensive
*Hilarious to boot

You will find every book you need, and you will find them cheap.

07 July 2008

Happy Summer Things

Five summery things that just make me glad to be alive.

1. Fresh fruit. Blueberries, peaches, watermelon, raspberries, apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew, wineberries. (A blueberry glace tart is in the works for tonight...)

2. Long evening walks. Down to the creek for getting wet and muddy, or around the block for "exercise" (actually to find wineberries and tease at the yip-yappy dogs on Loop Road).

3. No school unless I want to. And thesis reading doesn't count. (I should probably be arrested for managing to get college credit for The Wind in the Willows.)

4. Picnics and hikes. One good thing about living in the country is that you can even have a picnic on your porch and feel outdoorsy.

5. The whole world ahead of me, but not much to worry about right now. The future always looks rosier during summer vacation (but wait till the school bills start to roll in...).

This has been an exercise in gratitude, and I think it worked. :)

05 July 2008

Take Refuge in the Mighty Fortress

One of my favorite hymns...three cheers for Martin Luther. And three more for whoever translated this into English! Its truths are so refreshing in times of trial or discouragement.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

03 July 2008

Scones Save the Day

Scones often save MY day, anyway. Especially British scones, because they require no fancy-pants ingredients. They aren't packed with chocolate chips or extra grease; they're light and simple. You can have them in and out of the oven in half an hour or less. And they are classy without being snooty. . .something I aim for myself, with occasional success. :)

Anyway, these also have no egg, which is perfect for a) cheapskate college students, and b) those allergic to eggs. I end up making these a lot at school, though I usually serve scrambled eggs on the side, which sort of defeats the second purpose. If you ever have to make an eggless breakfast, though, keep these in mind! They're very good with butter, jam, and cheese.
If you don't want to use the wheat germ, just replace it with flour. But we like it. :) If you do not have cream of tartar on hand, as most people don't, you can substitute two teaspoons of baking powder for the entire cream of tartar- baking soda combination.

- - -


1 3/4 c. unbleached white flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
1 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/4 c. cold butter
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 and grease baking stone or cookie sheet.
2. Stir together first five ingredients.
3. Cut in butter till crumbly.
4. Stir in sugar and enough milk to make a soft dough. I usually have to add a couple tablespoons of milk for it all to come together.
5. Turn onto floured surface and knead lightly.
6. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness (or thicker if you prefer); cut into rounds and place on prepared baking stone.
7Bake for 10 minutes, until golden. Cool slightly on wire rack before serving.