Monday, October 27, 2014

Psalm 73: Talking to God About Talking to God

Psalm 73 is just a little bit meta: it's a conversation with God about the speaker's conversations with God.

I love that this is in the Bible.

I've listened to Psalm 73 several times this week during my devotional time, and I keep being struck by the simple, honest reflection, "I was as a beast before thee."

Because the psalmist isn't hiding from God. Instead, he's reviewing a time in his life that was particularly painful. It was a time when he was full of doubt and fear. And instead of hiding from God, he's laying it all open before Him.

He's reflecting on a time that was past, and trying to see what it all meant.

He's honest about his doubts; he's honest about his fears.

And he's honest about his own state: "I was as a beast before thee."

Animals are instinctual. And when we humans are at our worst, so are we.

But the psalmist doesn't hide this from God (as if God doesn't know).

Instead, he takes this hard time in his life - this time when he doubted that God would at the end make all things well - and he lays it out before his Lord.

He thinks about it. He reflects on it.

And he says, "Here I was: in despair. Until I went into your sanctuary.
"And then, I understood."

He sees the Lord's place. He sees the real place of the wicked.

And then - extra gift! extreme generosity of our Lord! - he sees his own place in the universe:
But it is good for me to draw near to God: 
I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

Our place is to declare the goodness of the Lord.

And He is good.
Amen, and Amen.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekend Links, for your reading pleasure

"What Makes for a Stable Marriage?": fascinating bunch of research-based charts.

"He Often Has to Remind Me":
It’s my stomach that always wakes me up. Whenever I’m bothered by something, invariably I end up awakened in the night with my stomach in knots. Over time, I’ve learned that the only remedy is to talk with God about it while I journal. The physical act of writing slows me down, focuses my thoughts, and allows space for God to intervene. But until I begin writing, I am often clueless as to what it is that’s actually bothering me. I wish my mind were as sensitive as my stomach! 
"Rich and Poor | The Question That Wrecked Us Both":
The last time Maureen, a child of poverty who now leads the organization in Kenya that Mercy House partners with, spent a few weeks in our home, it wrecked me. That’s what happens when you see your first world life through the eyes of someone from the third world.
When she saw five bikes hanging in our garage, she wanted to know if we sold bicycles. Why else would we have so many?
"A Christian of Integrity Resigns His Office":
Magistrate Kallam’s resignation merits deep respect and admiration. It often seems that there are few Christians in modern-day America who are willing to take a principled, moral stand that affects their professional standing and livelihood.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Recently-tried Recipes

Here are some recipes I've tried recently and enjoyed. Thought you might like them too!

1) Faux "Orange Julius": This was very like its namesake. A delicious weekend breakfast treat.

2) Chilled Black Bean, Feta, and Cucumber Salad: a nice, healthy summer lunch.

3) Tex-Mex Chopped Salad: oh, this was so good. A party in your mouth. And a perfectly delightful dinner.

4) Greek Pasta Salad: Yummy, again. (If you haven't caught on yet, I only link to recipes I liked.) This was one that was stellar the first day, but even better the next.

Also, for what it's worth, I added a can of cooked chicken, just to up the protein content for my six-person family.

5) Garlicky Baked Shrimp: I actually made this with a frozen seafood mix from Trader Joe's - so I had more than just shrimp. Despite that, it turned out really well. I liked the crunchy topping, and the convenience of baking the seafood instead of sautéing it.

Let me know if there's any good recipes you've tried recently - I love getting new ideas for dinner!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Notes: "Attachments", by Rainbow Rowell

I am a sucker for epistolatory novels. I have been ever since I read the classics "Daddy Long Legs" and "Dear Enemy".

So, when my sister-in-law recommended Rainbow Rowell, and I saw that Rainbow Rowell had written an epistolatory novel, I signed right up.

I didn't even care when, a few chapters into Attachments, the epistles in question turned incredibly (and I mean that: I didn't credit it anymore) narrative.

I was already hooked on the story.

"Attachments" is a novel that alternates between the point of view of Lincoln, the technician hired to monitor a large newspaper's staff email system, and the emails of Jennifer and Beth, who both work at said newspaper.

Lincoln slowly falls in love with Beth, solely through reading her emails. Meanwhile, Beth is slowly developing a crush on the guy she occasionally sees around the office - but has never actually met.

Basically, it's a romantic comedy - and I mean the comedy part: I laughed out loud frequently. Not heartily, but frequently. :)

I really enjoyed this. Cautions for a bit of language, and secular sexual ethics. But it reallyis  a lovely little read.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Crocheted Finished Object: Altar Cloth for the Credence Table

Or maybe I should call it the Credence Table Tablecloth?  A little repetitive, that.
This was really a labor of love.

But so little labor, really, at least in terms of tiresome labor. The pattern was simple and pleasant to work, and the work itself joyous.

Someday, I want to make something better, something that uses actual Christian symbols (crosses, etc.) in the lacework, but for now, this covers a rather beat-up table that our little church plant is using out of necessity, and adds a bit of beauty to our weekly worship.  I'm so happy I got to do my little bit here.

The idea of the church-members working with their hands to deck the church is a concept I love, and one I think that goes back to the making of the tabernacle. Someday, I'd love to see a needleworker's guild at our church, to work alongside the Altar Guild.

But here's a bit of a start. I'm so happy with it.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Libation for St. Luke

Today, October 18, is St. Luke's Day, and I have a drink for you in celebration of the feast day!

Now, I fully admit that the origin of this drink is a little silly - okay, more than a little silly: the origin of this drink is a pun.

St. Luke is sometimes referred to as "Luke the physician". So he's a doctor. And he lived during the days of the Roman Empire.

The drink is a rum & Dr. Pepper. (Like a rum & Coke, but oh-so-much better.)

A rum'n'doctor.

A Roman doctor.


I know, I know, I'm so sorry.

BUT. If you do want to raise a toast to St. Luke in all sincerity, and you'd like to use a punny drink to do so, here's how you make a St. Luke:

To make a "St. Luke":
-1 can Dr. Pepper

-1 oz. rum

Mix and enjoy! (Responsibly, as a legal adult, etc.)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica snell

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Notes: "The Sword Bearer" by John White

I've written about the other Anthropos books by John White here and here.

This one is a little different. The Anthropos books are Christian children's fantasy. And if the first few are a sort of allegories of the New Testament, this one is definitely an allegory of the old.

And as such, it's darker. Darker, and harder to read.

Nonetheless, despite the darkness, and despite the frustrating obtuseness of John, our protagonist, who is constantly choosing to be stubborn and wrong and stupid in the face of choices for goodness and mercy and right, this is a good book. (In fact, the truth is that John's stupid stubborness is all-too-recognizable-and-familiar, at least to this reader.)

I've been reading this book to my children in the evening, before our prayer and Bible reading. They draw or play with magnet sets while they listen to the story. And this book has inspired a lot of drawings. It's that kind of very visual fantasy world - easy to picture and to sink into.

And I guess I have to go back on what I said a bit: it's not all Old Testament allegory. A big part of the plot, especially in the beginning of the book, revolves around "the wine of free pardon".   I loved the inclusion of this simple analogy to the Eucharist. It means even more to me now than it did as a kid.

I guess the highest praise I can offer to this book is this: my son, Gamgee, swears that he dislikes this book when we're not in the middle of reading it, yet every time I picked it up and read another chapter, he was open-mouthed, caught up in the suspense of what's-going-to-happen-next, and eager as any of his sisters to hear how things would go for Jon, and Mab, and everyone else on the island.

This is a great read-aloud. I loved it when I was young, and I'm happy to say that now, as an adult, my kids love it too.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)