Thursday, December 24, 2009

Disconnecting in Order to Connect

I work outside of the home for a whopping ten hours per week. *GASP* I don't even really consider it "working" as I am helping out a good friend. While I am at work, I have a tendency to micro-organize things and demand orderliness; I just seem to be unable to sit still for more than five minutes while there. Last week, I spent a good deal of time pondering why that degree of orderliness does not spill over into my home. I love my home & family and consider being a homemaker one of the highest honors, but somehow my convictions about how our home should be had not materialized over the past few years. While my health has been poor, I do not believe that to be the only reason. It occurred to me that while I am at work, there is no cable TV, internet access, comfy couch to lounge upon, or means of escape....meaning I have to stay there and can't just pick up and leave whenever the mood hits. So to sum it up, my problem at home is that I'm too distracted.
To remedy this, I have deleted 99.9% of my facebook applications (no more farmville for me) and turned off my cell phone notifications from facebook as well. That will automatically eliminate a large chunk of my computer time. If I'm going to spend time on the computer, it really should be perusing encouraging blogs anyway.
As far as TV goes, that will take more discipline on my part. I will actually have to find the "off" button on the remote. To help, I'm going to move a radio/cd player into the den. We used to have a nice stereo, but we moved into a much smaller house where there is no place for an old stereo system with huge speakers. Music is a wonderful gift for setting moods and I am a fan classical music (as well as Jazz, some Broadway, and crooners). Music doesn't necessarily require that I stop what I'm doing to look at something the way TV does and will allow me to work while enjoying it. Not sitting down in front of the TV will also keep my mind more alert and not as groggy....hopefully eliminating the need for most naps.
I've also been considering being less available on my cell phone. I may actually turn it off some times *GASP!* We have unlimited texting and while texting can be a very useful tool, most texts could really wait. Such a large part of real communication is lost through texting or instant messaging or online chatting. There are no voice inflections or facial expressions that help convey meaning. I fear that most of our relationships are (as my dh loves to say) a mile wide and an inch deep. We know when each other is at a certain store or event or who they were with, but we fail to connect on a more intimate level that can only be attained through person to person contact.
Anyway, I'm doing some metaphoric house cleaning and hoping in the end to find more orderliness of home, mind and spirit.
Blessings to you all. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Great Grandmother's Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie
Georgia Mae Smith

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of each: salt, nutmeg, allspice
1 1/2 cup pumpkin (one can)
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat eggs & add sugars, flours, spices - beat slowly
Add pumpkin & milk
Pour into 9" unbaked pie crust and bake at 450' for 10 minutes
Reduce heat to 325' and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour
Knife inserted near center should come out clean

Sunday, November 01, 2009

For the Love of Aprons

A few months ago at an antique mall, I saw an apron with a dish towel sewn on the front. I thought it was a clever idea, but I didn't like the colors of the one I saw. When I went back to the antique mall the other day, the apron was gone, and I have never seen another one. Today I decided to do a google image search to see if I could find one I liked. I stumbled across this one and in the description it said that the towel is held on with a button. Hmmmm, I can sew on a button, and I can sew button holes. Hmmm, this could get

Saturday, October 31, 2009

95 Theses by Martin Luther

by Martin Luther
1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent" (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words "plenary remission of all penalties," does not actually mean "all penalties," but only those imposed by himself.
21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.
35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them -- at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God's wrath.
46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
48 Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
55. It is certainly the pope's sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
61. For it is clear that the pope's power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).
64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written, 1 Co 12[:28].
79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.
81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
82. Such as: "Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church? The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
83. Again, "Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"
84. Again, "What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, because of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love's sake?"
85. Again, "Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?"
86. Again, "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?"
87. Again, "What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?"
88. Again, "What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?"
89. "Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?"
90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.
91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!
94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Health Update

I'm am currently day 21 post-op and feel wonderful! Well, except for abdominal pains when I overdo things. Lately, I have a renewed sense of creativity and emotional energy (physical energy will hopefully follow suit in time) that I have not felt in years. It's almost as though my mind is remembering who I once was. I can hear my sister's voice in my head as she says, "I told you so." And, yes, she did tell me I would feel ever so much better. :) I haven't read; I have been naughty and watched a lot of HGTV, so while I'm brimming with creativity for my home, I don't have anything to blog about...sorry. The good news is that I've had about all I can take of the TV and will be reading soon. I hope to get a lot read as I still have 4 weeks off, so I'll be back to blogging soon. :)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

There are so many distractions in life these days that did not exist when I was growing up. There was no facebook (gasp! oh, horrors!) or other social networking tools. There was no email, twitter, or blogs. There were video games, but they were exceedingly boring and not much of a distraction for me. There were no cell phones where you could not escape from texts or calls. There were no Mp3 players filled with 1,000 of your favorite songs; only radio, records, and live music (the best of the three). There was no cable TV with 100's of nonchoices, no VCR's or DVD players; there were 4 basic networks, and they didn't run 24 hours a day. When I was growing up, we didn't have five or more extra curricular were something special if you had just one. I would say that the family generally had only one or two cars in my day, but I can remember a time when there were more cars and trucks in our driveway than we had drivers for. But there didn't seem to be this insatiable need to be entertained; we were busy with work. I don't know; maybe your own experience was different. In our house, if you admitted to being bored, it was quickly remedied with extra work. What scares me the most about present day trends is not the prolonged adolescence or irresponsibilty so much as it is this culture's inability to listen to God's still, small voice because we're so busy drowning it out with noise and activities that have no value in eternity.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The light's on, but no one's home....

I had been somewhat distraught about my blogging life because I have been more than remiss in blogging due to being down with pneumonia and anticipating being gone for an even longer period due to a surgery that is scheduled for this Friday, but I am pleased to find that I can blog at least a little via my cell phone. I hope to be reading lovely books while I recuperate and hope to be cognizant enough to share some thoughts with you. I'm still in the process of getting my home and family ready for being out of commission for 6+weeks, so blogging will have to wait until I'm off my feet. Until then, God bless!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crazy for God

"Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back" by Frank Schaeffer
William H. Smith
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Crazy for God is a sassy, angry, honest, revealing, vulnerable, unsettling, insightful, frustrating book. In other words, it sums up Frank Schaeffer. It is not, however, the tell-all, reject-all book about his parents and evangelicalism that I thought it might be.

I do have serious misgivings. He has been accused of dishonoring his parents, especially his aged, impaired mother who is not able to defend herself. Reading the book is much like sitting in as a damaged child of famous parents unburdens himself to his therapist. If saying such things at all, or saying them in public, breaks the Fifth Commandment, then he is guilty, but I'm not ready to declare that this is the case.

As I read the book, the words of the psalmist, "If I had said, 'I will speak thus,' I would have betrayed the generation of your children" (Ps. 73:15), came to mind. The psalmist wrote honestly of his doubts only after they were resolved. But what if one has not resolved his doubts and no longer believes they can be resolved by any "answers"? Is he bound to hold his peace? I don't know.

Schaeffer's language is earthy. He uses both the "s" and "f" words freely. If Paul had this kind of thing in mind when he directed "let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth," then Schaeffer is guilty. It does seem that he could write a soul-baring book with the same punch with less frequent use of such language. That he uses it at all will offend many.

He is a man who is still angry with his parents for who they were, what they did, and how they reared him. But this book is not a hate-filled temper tantrum. He has come to terms with his experience of his father better than of his mother, but he has sincere affection for both. The descriptions of times of tenderness and intimacy with his father are moving. His appreciation of his mother's frustrations in marriage and life shows genuine empathy, while his sensitivity toward her in the times he spends with her in her frailty is admirable.

One reviewer has said that Schaeffer is obsessed with sex, but I don't think obsession is the right word. He has the fascination and conflicted feelings about sex that is not uncommon among those who grew up in fundamentalism. In addition, he has an excuse for his "level of interest," if he is telling the truth about his parents. His mother was unusually open with her children about her intimate marital relations (distinguishing her from the vast majority of fundamentalists) and his father's sexual needs were (shall we say) intense.

Schaeffer may be wrong in terms of the accuracy and balance of his memories and perceptions of his parents, but he does not seem motivated by a desire to smear and discredit them. His father had a temper, experienced periods of doubt and depression, was both indulgent and negligent toward his son, and allowed himself to be pushed by his son and others toward a political and public role that negated much of the good he had done earlier. His mother was vain, at times dismissive of his father, self-righteous, and for the most part (unlike her husband) blissfully unaware of her faults.

But Frank does not spare himself. He may confess his sexual sins with a little too much glee and be a bit too proud of his doubts, but for the most part he is honest-honest about his rebellion, his arrogance, his hypocrisy, his failures as a husband and a father, his intensity, and his impulsiveness.

He is also honest about his doubts and his rejections of the Christian faith. It is somewhat surprising that he is so honest about them inasmuch as he does not write to debunk faith. Most markedly he has his doubts about God, not an uncommon doubt to have but an uncommon one to admit. He has dismissed the inerrancy of the Bible as a view that can be sustained only by denying or explaining away the things that argue against it. He can no longer accept, and was never really comfortable with, the glib and formulaic expressions of Christian belief and practice so common among the old fundamentalists, the parachurch organizations, and the "faces" of current evangelicalism.

Yet he is not entirely without faith. He knows that his persistent search for meaning comes from somewhere. He does not expect to get closure in his search, but he takes even that as evidence of a universal quest for the infinite. He hopes that "maybe there is a God who forgives, who loves, who knows." Is this saving faith? Not exactly? He has not rejected Christian ethics, but, if anything, has become more consistent in their practice as he aged. Perhaps the fact that Frank cannot let go of his faith says he is in the grip of a God who will not let go of him.

He probably did not intend it to be so, but the book throughout points to the fundamental weakness of twentieth-century evangelicalism—its ecclesiology.

His father had little regard for the church as an historic and concrete institution. Both Francis Schaeffer and L'Abri were, like so many evangelical stars and all parachurch ministries, beyond the accountability to and the oversight of the church in her governing role. Revivalism, pietism, fundamentalism, liberalism, and spiritual pugilism had all done their parts in emasculating the church and putting the individual, his conscience, and his ministry outside the authority of the church. As Frank observes about his father, "Dad was our 'holy tradition.' He was bigger than any church." And so it is with them all.

The weakness in ecclesiology is revealed also in the church's worship. Frank got to the point that he could not put up with the tackiness of so much of evangelicalism. Take its music for an example: "How I wished that God had never made any men or women with a 'ministry in music.' I wish he would strike them all down so I'd never have to spend another minute listening to another fat lady (even the men were 'fat ladies' to me) sing another Jesus-is-my-boyfriend song synthesized to violins." Preach on, brother!

His father's funeral, which was held in a gym and not conducted by a minister, shows evangelical worship at its worst. "Dad's funeral embodied all the chaos, make-it-up-as-you-go insanity of evangelicalism. It was to funerals what 'personalized' weddings are to marriage, one where the young couple compose their own vows while some friend 'really like into guitar' provided the music."

One of the most insightful paragraphs in the book comes from Frank's experience of that funeral. "There is good reason we humans take refuge in the collective wisdom accumulated over time as expressed in the liturgies and cultural habits of long practice. And the arrogance of the Protestant notion that one's individual whims are equal to all occasions manifests itself in innumerable bad hair moments and in dreadful worship services, let alone innumerable do-it-yourself weddings. But funerals are supposed to be serious. Creativity isn't always good."

Frank Schaeffer regrets his role in the rise and development of the religious right, which is an example of the church getting confused about why it exists. This is a significant admission. I can remember thinking to myself in the 70s that his father had gone off the tracks with his Christian Manifesto and that Frank's A Time for Anger was over the top. The church then was guilty of hitching its wagon to the various horses of politics, and the faithful still do not always understand that the kingdom does not come about in this way.

He has rethought his position on abortion. He remains essentially conservative though no longer absolutist. He scorns and skewers the liberal position far more than the conservative, but he now thinks that it was a mistake in the wake of Roe v. Wade for evangelicalism to move to the "no abortion for any reason" position. I can remember being in a seminary class pre-Roe where there was a discussion of abortion. One student spoke of his wife's having had an abortion upon a doctor's recommendation, and there was no horror expressed. It still seems to me that it is impossible to draw a line, so it is safe and wise to mark the beginning of life and of its protection at conception, but we have got ourselves in a situation where rational discussion of national policy is impossible for either side.

For some reason Schaffer has turned sour and mean about Calvinism, identifying it with fundamentalism in its simplemindedness, rigidity, smug piety, and legalistic rules. On this he is wrong. But, perhaps, the problem is that he learned his Calvinism from his father, and his father never understood it either. Francis "didn't like" Calvin. Added to Frank's attribution of most of the things he doesn't like about his parents to Calvinistic sources, and I guess you can understand.

Surely the book needs to be answered, as Os Guinness has sought to do. But what we need first to do (and Guinness I think has tried) is to hear Schaeffer. We may not like it. It may make us uncomfortable. Heaven, forefend! It may make us think. But hear and think we must because he's telling us a lot of truth about ourselves.

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William H. Smith is pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (Louisville, Missouri).

Issue: "Discipleship: Wisdom for Pilgrims' Progress" Sept./Oct. Vol. 18 No. 5 2009 Pages 43-44

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Absolute Sovereignty

I have become somewhat of a hermit blogger lately. I haven't posted, and I haven't been reading the posts of others. My mind has been too preoccupied. Last month I had minor surgery which caused me to develop pneumonia. It was also determined at that time that another surgery would be necessary; one with a much longer recovery period. I have been spending a good bit of time preparing physically and mentally for being laid up for awhile, so my need to blog had been put on the back burner. Today, I find myself needing to write in order to bring to the forefront some of my fears. I'm one of those people who worries without even realizing it. Everyone seems to know it but me. There's the obvious fear that I'll die, but that's not a fear of death as much as it is being concerned that the world (family & friends) can't survive without silly is that?! I think that's at the heart of it all. I underestimate others' abilities to cope or handle situations without my aid. I need to let go of this idea of control; control which I have never really had. It's time to let God be sovereign over all things, even my kitchen and laundry.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Everything You Wanted to Know About Baking Soda

Want to know all about the baking soda you just used in your biscuit recipe? Click on the above link for the answers. You might be surprised at all things that this little mineral can be used for. This site even includes a recipe for an antacid which could save you money!

Not Quite Julia

I have always had a deep desire to be a good cook, but unlike Julia Child, I have never had access to cooking lessons in Paris. When I was first married, I took a bread baking class, and my family has reaped the benefits of that class tenfold. But life got in the way of things as it so often does, and that was the only cooking class I have ever attended. My mother used to say that anyone with a cookbook and can read should be able to cook, and while to a certain extent that is true, I have always wanted to know more. Why do certain ingredients when combined with others have such magical affects on dishes? What herbs go with what meats? I want to go beyond following a recipe and be able to create my own. I have created a few dishes that have had great success, but oftentimes in the process of cooking, I didn't have time to jot down what I was doing and the recipe can never be recreated again. So where are the answers to my questions? Most likely I will find them at my fingertips, if I will only take the time to research them. So begins my own adventure.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Singing hymns half-heartedly without paying attention to the words or out of a sense of duty can be considered a form of taking the Lord's name in vain....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Suitable Suitor

I'm mulling over a lot while working on reclaiming the upstairs study, and I would like some help from you. No, not with the work but with the "mulling" part. We've been putting a lot of thought into what constitutes a suitable suitor for a daughter. I'm not talking about your average "let's hang out at a movie or coffee shop date". I'm talking about a real suitor. Other than being a Christian and basic requirements such as that, I want something more concrete on paper. Lately, after listening to a message on CD, I've been giving a lot of thought to the idea that a man must have a vision for his life....a way in which he ministers to the body of Christ or the world...before he can ask a young lady to follow him. Agreeing to marriage, puts a young woman in a very vulnerable position; how can she be asked to follow or submit to someone who doesn't have a clue as to where they are going? Also, a suitor needs to be someone who can lead spiritually....not just someone who is spiritual, but someone who is knowledgeable and able to guide and lead his family without falling prey to heresies big or small. There is a lot more on my mind, but I want to know what's on your mind. I want to know what you think, so I can think about it as well. So, what are some of your thoughts as to what constitutes a suitable suitor?

Try it Tuesday

When my husband and I were engaged, he asked me if I knew how to make biscuits. At the time, I thought it was a silly just whacked open a can and baked them. (My mother had attempted to make biscuits from scratch, but they seemed to be mostly useful as dog bones as one of our dogs always promptly buried hers.) It was not long into our marriage that I learned the difference. I have tried many biscuit recipes over the past 22 years and have finally created a recipe of my own. It is a culmination of three of our favorite biscuit recipes. If you don't like the slightly sweet flavor of these biscuits, simply eliminate the sugar and vanilla and add just a touch more buttermilk. Enjoy!

2 Cups of all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur, unbleached)
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/3 Cup of sugar
1/4 Cup of butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 Cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of vanilla, pure extract only

Combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles corn meal. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and stir. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead several times. Pat or gently roll out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Cut out biscuits and place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees until lightly browned.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Below is an article from the Baltimore Sun by Christy Zuccarini

DIY Dishwasher/Scouring Powder
If commercial dish detergents that contain phosphates do indeed end up being banned, it may be worth making your own natural cleaning product, especially considering that current eco-friendly brands like EcoVer and Seventh Generation are so costly.

I pulled the following recipe for natural dishwasher/scouring powder from The New Homemaker. The ingredients are simple and pretty affordable – according to the author you’ll end up saving around 14 cents a load (when compared to a brand like Cascade). On the subject of whether or this detergent cleans as well as commercial brands, opinions are varied. Though the recipe recommends using citrus essential oils, some folks swear by tea tree and peppermint oils. Either way, this may require a little experimentation but it seems worth a try.

In a plastic container with a firmly fitting lid, mix:
1 cup borax (20-Mule-Team Borax, available in any supermarket)
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid (available in brewing stores among other places--if you haven't tracked it down yet but must try this formula, use two packets of Lemonade-Flavored Kool-Aid, ONLY lemon, or you'll dye your dishwasher! and ONLY unsweetened Kool-Aid!)
30 drops citrus essential oil--lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, or a mixture

Put all of it in the container, shake it up.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Seek the Old Paths

The following is an excerpt from an interview of Ken Meyers by Walter Henegar. For the full interview go to By Faith magazine Summer 2009 edition.

Q: Evangelicals today are often preoccupied with novelty: new strategies, new ministry models, new insights for successful Christian living. How do you address this?

A: C.S. Lewis said one of the distinctive aspects of the modern mind is the assumption that newer things are always better. We've become preoccupied with things we don't have rather than nurturing and stewarding the things we do have. My favorite example of this is the shift since the 1970s toward informality in public. People used to wear coats and ties to go to a baseball game, and now they wear a ball cap at church. We've moved away from formality toward informality in almost every area - language, dance, food, worship, music - and I'm convinced that it's largely a suspicion of authority. You don't want to submit to a set of standards and proprieties that you didn't freely choose. So, if the move toward informality expresses a widespread suspicion of authority, then why would that be a good, up-to-the-minute trend to endorse? Wendell Berry says we need to attend to the intrinsic meaning of things: "What is needed is a work of durable value; the time or age of it matters only after the value of it has been established." So, it's the value of the thing itself, not whether or not it's contemporary. Of course, it's good to be aware of the shape of what is contemporary, but that's no reason to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Doo-Dad & Gadget Queen

My dear husband sometimes lovingly calls me the "Doo-Dad & Gadget Queen" and that's because there's a lot of truth to the name. I love and thrive on organization. Don't get me wrong; my house is not the pristine place of order that my mother's home is. I struggle to keep up because my health and circumstances seem to continually thwart my plans for perfection. Today, I bought a new gadget. It's a clear container divided into three equal spaces. It is the perfect replacement for our old medicine box. I labeled the sections as follows: Pain, Cold & Allergy, Tummy. Frequently, one of us would scrounge around in the box looking for something that would inevitably be on the very bottom and whatever organization was in the box was then transformed into disarray. My hope is that problem is now solved and that the Queen has taken dominion over this small part of her realm and that the people will rejoice and live happily ever after.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Home Cleaners and Your Liver

When we are young, we generally are not very concerned about our livers. This is an odd statement to make, but my liver has been on my mind lately. As we age, our livers naturally shrivel and don't function as in our youth. And, as we age, we oftentimes find ourselves taking more prescription medications which can be quite taxing on our livers. Last week, I filled my sixth regular Rx and, for me, that was the wake up call for me. I began to ponder how many chemicals and toxins my body is exposed to daily. It's time for a change. Obviously, I can't just stop taking blood pressure medications without the possibility of severe consequences, but I can start making changes in my lifestyle that will one day enable me to stop taking most of my prescriptions. But, it's not just the chemicals I'm putting into my body; it's the ones that I inhale or my body absorbs. Cleaning and laundering supplies are obviously full of harmful chemicals, but so are make-up and nail polishes and lotions. What about our food supply? How much of it is tainted with pesticides or growth hormones or antibiotics? Even our water supply is tainted. Before we all panic and move to some primitive country, there are some small changes that we can start with that can help preserve our livers and maybe help out our pocketbooks.

This week I'm starting with cleaning supplies. There are many recipes on the Internet for making your own cleaners that are non-toxic, inexpensive, and effective. Here's the recipe I chose for my all purpose cleaner in a spray bottle:

one part vinegar
three parts water
10 - 15 drops of lavender

If you have a favorite, please share it with me.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Why does happiness elude modern women?

By: Meghan Cox Gurdon
Examiner Columnist | 5/27/09 5:56 PM
Over the last four decades, American women have got almost everything the feminist movement promised. Lucky us! Are we happy now?

No, we are not. All across the industrialized world, wherever egalitarian feminism has sprinkled its fairy dust, women report that they are considerably less happy and satisfied with life then were their benighted, patriarchy-oppressed, apron-wearing sisters of yore.

“The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” a new study conducted by Wharton academics Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, finds that the happiness of Western women has been steadily declining over the exact period during which egalitarian feminism has supposedly been delivering the goods.

Given the shifts “of rights and bargaining power from men to women in the past 35 years, holding all else equal, we might expect to see a concurrent shift in happiness towards women and away from men,” the authors write.

However, they have found, “measures of women’s subjective well-being have fallen both absolutely and relatively to that of men.”

How can this be? After all, didn’t feminism achieve what it wanted? Women are today not just free to pursue education, but now actually outnumber men on university campuses.

Women are not simply going out to work, but are in a position to exude wisdom and empathy from the highest levels of government and commerce.

Women are not only able to control their fertility, as radical feminists demanded, but today girls too young to vote are considered old enough to prescribe themselves the morning-after pill.

And it turns out that all this success – or “success,” depending on your degree of irony – has not made women happier.

Nor, of course, has it satisfied the ever-complaining feminist-industrial complex so brilliantly mocked by critic Camille Paglia as “a jumble of vulgarians, bunglers, whiners, French faddicts, apparatchiks, dough-faced party-liners, pie-in-the-sky utopians and bullying sanctimonious sermonizers.”

The study’s authors are cautious about drawing too-hasty conclusions from what they’ve discovered. Coincidence does not automatically mean causation. It’s also true that happiness is in some ways a mystical quality. Inner contentment derives not just from how cheerful we may feel but also from our position relative to the opinions and successes of others.

Yet the findings are striking. Before egalitarian feminism came along and substantially rewrote everyone’s scripts – in courtship, job expectations, domestic satisfaction, purpose in life -- women reported greater contentment than men.

Today, those positions are reversing. “A new gender gap is emerging,” conclude Stevenson and Wolfers, “one with higher subjective well-being for men.”

(The authors note the perverse effects of the sexual revolution sought by feminists: Men “may have been able to disproportionately benefit” from the “increased opportunities” yielded by the spreading social acceptance of children born out of wedlock, the use of birth control, abortion, and divorce.)

To conservative critics of feminism, and indeed to dissident feminists like Paglia, none of this will be remotely surprising.

The anecdotal experience of millions, along with the analysis by women such as Christina Hoff Sommers, Mary Eberstadt, Danielle Crittenden, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, and Kay Hymowitz, all confirm what the Wharton academics discovered: Far from enhancing the lives of modern women, in many respects the feminist movement has diminished women’s happiness and satisfaction.

“The increased opportunity to succeed in many dimensions may have led to an increased likelihood of believing that one’s life is not measuring up,” Stevenson and Wolfers write.

“Similarly, women may now compare their lives to a broader group, including men, and find their lives more likely to come up short in this assessment. Or women may simply find the complexity and increased pressure in their modern lives to have come at the cost of happiness.”

Examiner columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon is a former foreign correspondent and a regular contributor to the books pages of The Wall Street Journal. Her Examiner column appears on Thursdays.

Antique Mill

Farmer's Market

Market Pics

The gourd in the background has a belt around the mouth of the opening. I love the artist's ability to think "outside the box."

This is actually a gourd that has been engraved and painted. They were lovely!

Sleep Sweetly

Sleep sweetly in this quiet room
Oh thou, whoe’er thou art,
And let no mournful yesterdays
Disturb your peaceful heart.
Nor let tomorrow pierce thy rest
With dreams of coming ill:
Thy Maker is thy changeless friend,
His love surrounds thee still.
Forget thyself and all the world;
Put out each glaring light.
The stars are watching overhead.
Sleep sweetly, then. Goodnight.
~Victor Hugo

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Erin's Garden

Posies of Our Own

Chattanooga in Bloom 5

Chattanooga in Bloom 4

Chattanooga in Bloom 3

Chattanooga in Bloom 2