Saturday, January 31, 2004

Work I Love
Just so y'all don't think I'm a lazy-bones, I thought I'd list a bit of work that I actually enjoy doing. So here it is, in no particular order:

-gardening - planning, building and putting in beds, digging, moving dirt, setting out plants...
-painting and wallpapering
-refinishing furniture
-hanging laundry on the clothesline, and taking it down and folding it when it's warm and crisp and smells sweet
-studying health and nutrition
-doctoring my family
-cutting hair
-fixing little girls' hair
-dusting and arranging my bookcases
-making my bed
-keeping my dresser pretty
-throwing parties - dinner, tea, birthday, or holiday
-reading to my children (can I count that as work?)
-rubbing Old English furniture oil into my piano
-planning just about anything
-drawing floor plans (I lost it during our second to last move, but I had a notebook full of various houseplans I'd drawn over the years ranging from tiny apartments to very large houses - anyway, I don't know if this counts as work, since drawing out floor plans is more like sketching or doodling than actually doing any work!)
-crochet (that counts as work if I'm making a baby afghan, right?)
-arranging flowers
-repotting houseplants
-studying history
-dressing and tickling the baby
-editing dh's and dd's stories

Some of those things don't seem fair to list as work, since they are just so much fun.

I'm thinking more about what Toni said, especially the part about monotony, and I've been letting the monotonous parts of being a housewife get me down so much that I had forgotten that there are things I enjoy doing that are important, too. I don't know why I always think that if I'm enjoying something then I must be goofing off - after all, work is supposed to be hard and unpleasant, right? ;-)

Friday, January 30, 2004

You know, I hope that Kuci-whatzit-guy doesn't become the next president. How are you supposed to respect a guy whose name you can't even pronounce, let alone spell?

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Toni Cunningham is a woman of infinite purdiestness!
She gave me a most excellent and needed attitude adjustment in her comment to my post below, which I think deserves a post of its own.

My mother and most women I think (including myself) simply hate the monotony. There's so much I'd rather do! Theologically, when I'm doing an annoying housework task, I try to think of how God cleanses us over and over again in our sanctification. What if he left us filthy and just let us get worse and worse instead of forgiving us over and over? Our homes should be an extension of that biblical reality...

Isn't that great? It's just what I needed to hear.

Mr. Cunningham, you are indeed blessed. May God make your wife like Rachel and Leah, who together built the house of Israel.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Loving work
In a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I once read that she loved to do housework. I don't know how you get that, but I sure wish I had it.

Housework is not something I enjoy; it's usually a duty, or at best, a means to an end - having a pretty place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and a good book, being able to invite someone home from church on the spur of the moment, knowing where things are so I don't have to look for them... I've never enjoyed the work itself.

Except for one thing: vacuuming. I love to vacuum. I guess it's because the noise sort of envelopes me and I don't have to keep my mind on the task so I can daydream or think about something Important, that I like doing it. And I've noticed something - vacuuming is the one job that the kids always ask me if they can have!

If any of you ladies can let me in on the secret to loving housework, please do so!
Wonderful advice!
Found this at the blog of Kolbi, ("The hilarious homeschooling snake lady," quoth Sora).

Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done.

I think I'll go do that right now! :-D

Friday, January 23, 2004

I had my suspicions and they've been confirmed. Last night I found out for sure why all the Matrix fans in the blogosphere neglected to comment on the latest installment. It was just a pointless movie.

Or rather, the point was that there is no point, there is only choice - and it doesn't really matter what your choice is, just so long as you choose. Classic existentialism neatly wrapped in eastern mysticism, schizophrenically beribboned with Biblical names.

Did you noticed the Yin/Yang earrings the Oracle was wearing? By the time she mentioned that everything was about balancing out the equation, we'd figured out the story would end. Or rather, where the movie would stop, since there was no end, only choice.

But thank God that his story has a point!

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Now I ask you...
If you had not already heard from a reliable source that this is a good story, would you have paid 25 cents for this book?

Is that cheesy, or what? It's almost attains the cheese-level of Credenda's Jumpstart the Heart issue.

Actually, it may even out-cheese that one. What's up with those disembodied heads floating in the clouds?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

A note to homemakers
When you're cooking chicken-fried steak and you have the floured pieces of meat sitting on a glass cutting board waiting to go into the skillet and you turn on a burner to cook your potatoes, don't turn on the burner under the cutting board.

You won't like it, and neither will the glass.
A note to publishers
Do not allow a cover illustration and the author's note to give away the story. Three pages into Green Dolphin Street, I know how the story is going to go and who the man is going to end up with.

I am quite displeased.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Nostalgia, books, thriftiness, and coffee
My antique store loving friend, Teresa, asked me to come with her scavenging this morning, so we went out to American-British Antiques, two huge buildings that must be at least as large as three basketball courts between them, and filled with furniture, vintage clothing and hats, dishes, toys, appliances large and small, knick-knacks, odds-n-ends, what-nots, and books!

We meant to spend a little time there, then go to the "nicer" antique stores downtown, but when we got back to the car it was past 2:30, so we got some lunch at Wendy's and went home.

A few of their books have antique store prices, such as the first edition Gene Stratton-Porter book for $45, which may be a good price, but is still way out of my range, but they have thrift store prices on most of the books - the paperbacks were only 25 cents, and most of the hardbacks were $1-$2.

The loot:

Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
The Brothers Karamazov, Feodor Dostoyevsky
Who Shall Ascend, Elisabeth Elliot, a biography of R. Kenneth Strachan, missionary to Costa Rica
Beat to Quarters, C. S. Forester, #1 in the Horatio Hornblower series (now I can take that one off my Amazon wish list!).
Lieutenant Hornblower, C. S. Forester
Sink the Bismark, C. S. Forester
Green Dolphin Street, Elizabeth Goudge, which I would never have thought to buy (judging the book by its cover - it looks like a cheap romance!) except for the wonderful reviews Summer Strider has given it.
Gentian Hill, Elizabeth Goudge, which I bought because of the above.
Collected Stories, O. Henry
The Clue of the Broken Locket, Carolyn Keene, this is the 1934 1st edition, but it's the 2nd printing. This is the edition that my mom's three Nancy Drew books were, and I got it especially for the sentimental value. I thought about giving it to Mosey for her birthday, but that's not until October, and I'm really not very patient so I went ahead and gave it to her today. If you're familiar with Nancy Drew, you might remember that this book was re-written in 1965, so the newer editions are not the same story as this one.
A Man Called Peter, Catherine Marshall
Father Bear Comes Home, Else Holmelund Minarik
My Book House, Oliver Beaupre Miller, volumes 8, 9, 11, 12. I am so glad I was with Teresa, because I would have overlooked these!
Quo Vadis, Henryk Sienkiewicz

I have never read any of the books above, except for the Nancy Drew, Father Bear, and A Man Called Peter. Alas! for wasted youth!

I also found something I've been wanting for awhile - an electric coffee percolator. The heating element on my electronic famous brand name model quit working several months ago right after the 1 year warranty on it ran out, so I contacted them asking if I could order a new element and replace it myself - that is, ask Mike to replace it - but they don't sell parts.

So for the last five or six months, I've been boiling water in my teapot, then pouring it over the coffee grounds into the coffeepot. This takes nearly half an hour if I don't get distracted and forget that I'm making coffee! This is most unsatisfactory, so after a month or two, I decided to buy a simple percolator that will hopefully last longer than the newer fancier models, and I was very pleased to find a Cornflower Blue one. My mother had the Cornflower Blue bakeware and I had plastic doll dishes and bakeware, and I had the coffeepot. It's kind of nice having a real one now - and it was a lot cheaper than buying a new one!

Something just occured to me - if I ever get serious about not buying made-in-China stuff, I can probably get everything I need in the thrift stores.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The complete irrelevance of being relevant
This morning we had the most relevant of all our culturally relevant worship services to date. Let's see, we praised a modern hero of the State, we broke the RPW in probably every possible way, and we boasted about our enlightened understanding of male/female roles in the Church.

This is not the first time any one of these things has happened during a worship service, but I think it's the first time they've all happened during one service. We've tried really hard not to complain, but to serve, and we've bitten our tongues an awful lot.

Mike is the music leader in our "traditional" service, and in the six or seven months since the Nazarene chaplain took over our service, Mike has had three meetings with him to discuss theological/liturgical issues, and generally came away from these meetings feeling like the chaplain was uninterested in his perspective. Mike's biggest concerns have been the man-centeredness of the service, and women leading in worship. We regularly have women giving the Scripture reading, the call to worship, the invocation, the offertory prayer... The chaplain has answered these concerns merely by saying he wants everyone in the congregation to have an opportunity to "participate."

(Were you aware that when one is singing hymns, praying the Lord's Prayer, giving tithes and offerings, and listening to the sermon he is NOT participating? Neither was I.)

Now, when I say we've bitten our tongues an awful lot, I really mean it. We didn't say anything when The Battle Hymn of the Republic was sung in the middle of the service with everyone (except us!) saluting the flag.

We didn't say anything when the chaplain had a PowerPoint presentation of paintings of the life and ministry of Christ during his sermon entitled, "Who is this man?"

We didn't say anything when the chaplain dressed up as Paul to deliver the first message in his series on I Corinthians - in character, as though we were the church at Corinth.

We didn't say anything when the chaplain got to I Corinthians 11, and spent forty-five seconds saying that the whole head-covering issue was really obscure and most likely cultural and we couldn't really know what it meant, before moving on to the next part of the message - which, by the way, was the best communion Sunday sermon I've ever heard - and I told him so, too!

We didn't even say anything when the chaplain declared that if you believe in predestination, then you're wrong, just like John Calvin was wrong!

We also haven't said anything every time an individual has been praised, honoured, and applauded during the worship service - which happens about twice a month. Usually it's inviting a person who is going to a new assignment up to the front, so we can tell all his good deeds, thank him, give him a coffee mug full of Hershey's Kisses, and clap for him. Two or three times a year, we have a local music group come to "lead us in worship" which means that they play and sing, while we listen and applaud.

But this morning was a little different. So many things were so very wrong. First, the chaplain spent a good ten minutes praising and honouring a man who was a prophet and did many good deeds, but he was an immoral man, and unrepentant. I thought it was a little like praising King Saul in the midst of a worship service. That was bad enough, but it only got worse.

When it was time for the Scripture reading, a woman read the passage:
Well, my brothers and sisters, let's summarize what I am saying. When you meet, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord. No more than two or three should speak in an unknown language. They must speak one at a time, and someone must be ready to interpret what they are saying. But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.... So, dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don't forbid speaking in tongues. But be sure that everything is done properly and in order. (I Corinthians 14:26-28, 39-40 New Living Translation)

The interesting part of this was what was left out - verse 34 says, "Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says." Not to mention the passage earlier that says that when a woman stands up to prophesy, she should have her head covered, and naturally this woman did not.

After the pastoral prayer (to which I did not listen - I was too busy praying that God would have mercy upon us, grant us repentance, and forgive us. Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways, like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.... Lord have mercy on us! Christ have mercy on us! Lord have mercy on us!), the PowerPoint flashed onto the screen announcing this week's topic: Fitting Worship.

Standing under this banner, the chaplain announced that he would be selling raffle tickets to help the students raise money for their weekly Bible study. He moved out into the congregation as if to take up the money, but then he stopped and asked, "Now is this a proper activity for a worship service?"

I've become terribly jaded. I thought, Well heck, why not? It's no more improper than anything else that's gone on this morning.

It turns out he was using that "raffle ticket announcement" as a sort of attention-getter to point out that some activities are not proper during worship.

Really now? You don't say!

By way of an introduction to the main topic, he spent several minutes explaining how that little thing about women not speaking in the chuch was all a big cultural uproar, and aren't we glad we can have a woman read Scripture in worship, and that if a woman chaplain ever comes here, well, that'll be just peachy keen. I can't even remember what he said was not "fitting" in worship. I think it was about intentionally segregated churches, but I hardly see how that applies to our congregation - our service, while not the most diverse congregation we've ever been part of, is about as integrated as the base itself is overall.

I believe it was Martin Luther who said that if you preach every point of the Gospel but that very point that is being attacked by your culture, then you are not confessing Christ.

It would have been much more to the point if the chaplain had recognized the myriad things being done in this worship service that are man-centered at best and idolotrous at worst.

So, if you think of us, please pray for us. Ever since we moved here, we've prayed about whether we should try to start a Reformed work. This morning it was made pretty clear that we can no longer attend the base chapel. We have already contacted several Reformed denominations about starting a church in our town, and we are eager to begin. Until we are able to do so, we'll be attending the local Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

Most gracious God, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts; Give thy grace, we beseech thee, to all the Ministers of thy word; and so replenish them with the truth of thy doctrine, and endue them with the innocency of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name, and the benefit of thy holy Church. And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace, that with meek heart and due reverence they may hear and receive thy holy Word, truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Updating blogroll
You may have noticed I've rearranged my blogroll. I had several links I wanted to add and my list was getting so long and I was getting tired of scrolling around to get to the blogs I visit every day, plus some of the ones I wanted to add were people like George Grant and Peter Leithart, and I just couldn't list them as "George" and "Peter" the way I listed everybody else.

So I've done two things: the food categories serve the purpose of listing the blogs in the order of frequency that I visit them, and I've changed the names a bit since I don't want to be inappropriately familiar with people who don't know me. If you don't like the way I have your name written, let me know because I want to address you the way you prefer.

(Valerie, I made these changes before you quit blogging and I just can't bear to take your name off the list!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

This is weird
Two days ago I started to blog something but I didn't have time to finish it, so I clicked the "Draft" option before saving the post. I have no idea where Blogger has saved the draft. What's worse, I have no idea what the post was about!
I wish they made waterproof books so I could read while I'm taking a shower.
A Titus 2 Woman
Last fall at our after-worship lunch, I noticed Miss Emma, an older lady in our congregation, wearing a striking skirt and blouse set. It was beautifully made with buttons covered in coordinating cloth and stitching details that you don't ever see in off-the-rack clothes. I complimented her outfit and asked if she had made it. She said that she had, adding that she loves to sew and finds that it is a great creative outlet for her.

Do you ever have the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with a seemingly inspired thought? Well that happened to me that night – at about 2 o'clock in the morning, I found myself sitting bolt upright in my bed thinking, "Miss Emma can teach my girls to sew!"

My daughters have been wanting me to teach them to sew for ages, and I just have not had the time to do it. I mean, I barely have time to sew myself, let alone to teach them. So the next Sunday, I asked Miss Emma if she'd be willing to teach my 14- and 11-year-old daughters to sew. She was pleased with my request, so I asked her how much she would charge for weekly lessons.

At that, she grabbed my arm and said, "Oh, no! I wouldn't charge you anything! I love teaching girls to sew! I think it's so important for them to know how."

So for the last few months my girls have been going to Miss Emma's house one afternoon a week and spending two or three hours with her. Elaienar has made herself a warm cloak and a skirt, and Mosey has made dozens of napkins and is now working on a skirt for herself.

The skills they are learning are valuable indeed, but there are more lessons than just sewing going on. Miss Emma belongs to an older generation (her husband is a Korean War vet) and she is the kind of gracious, gentle lady I would like to be. I am glad my daughters are spending so much time with her.

In addition to learning from her sweet nature, they are learning the value of an older woman who is not tied down by being employed. Not only is Miss Emma free to teach girls some necessary skills, but she is free to help her own family when needed. Last fall when her granddaughter was sick with the flu and had to be hospitalized, Miss Emma was able to go stay with her daughter and help out during that difficult time.

I hope Miss Emma's daughter appreciates what a rare blessing her mother is.

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Oooh, Baklava
Mike has a co-worker whose mother in law makes pans of baklava to sell this time of year. Mike bought a pan yesterday, and oh! is it good. I had a little one inch square piece as a before-breakfast snack this morning, then another piece with breakfast, a third piece for second breakfast, and a fourth for elevensies - and it's almost lunch time!

If I suddenly disappear from the cyber-world it's because I'm in my kitchen, slumped over in a sugar coma!