Thursday, May 31, 2007

the Visitation

Today is the day the church remembers the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, remembering Elizabeth's salutation, "Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" and Mary's beautiful song in response: the Magnificat. (You can read it all in the first chapter of Luke, here.)

I love this story. I love the joy that flows from the women's realization of what God is doing in their midst and from their love for one another. I love Mary's powerful words of praise, her recognition of God's faithfulness to his people. I love that there's a story in the Bible about two pregnant women. I love how John, still in utero, responds to the Lord's presence (the Lord, also in utero. Can you even begin to fathom it?). I just love this story.

Happy day of the Visitation, folks! God was with Mary and Elizabeth on that day. May God be with you, also.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dollar Stretcher

Wow! Click here to see a real, live article for which I was paid a real-life check.

(Also, for all you frugal moms out there, the Dollar Stretcher is a great idea-place.)

peace of Christ to you,

Not Again

So, I was going to sit down and write a real blog entry. I had the kids all settled at the kitchen table, playing with ooey-gooey magic mud and Fischer-Price zoo animals. That buys you, you know, hours.

And last time I tried that, I stupidly left the box of cornstarch within their reach, and we ended up with a cornstarch explosion.

So this time, I settled them at the table with magic mud, and kept the cornstarch up on the counter. That is, until I went to refresh the magic mud. And then, absent-mindedly, left both water and cornstarch on the table within their reach.

And, a few minutes later, heard toddler giggles. I turn around: snowstorm.

So, forgive me, but I'm giving up on the idea of a real blog entry in order to clean up the cornstarch. :D

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, May 28, 2007

For those in the Armed Forces of our Country

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

-BCP, 823

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lawless Men, Red-Lettered Days

This Sunday is Pentecost, and so today I'm borrowing an essay my brother, Joshua Barber, wrote, for blog-fodder. It's a meditation on what it means that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples on the day that was traditionally celebrated as the day that Moses received the Law. Enjoy!
-Jessica Snell

Lawless Men, Red-lettered Days:
A Discussion on the Significance of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit in the Jewish Tradition as Compared to the Christian Tradition

If bliss with God is left only for those who fulfill the law perfectly in every way, then all are damned to eternity in Hell. This is the reality that we are all faced with, and before the coming of Christ the only hope for mankind was to adhere as closely to the law as they could, imperfect as they were. It is this slim hope of salvation which was being celebrated on the day of Pentecost in Acts two when the disciples that were gathered together there “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.” The Holy Spirit which was sent from God the Father through Jesus Christ His risen Son, who just fifty days before had instituted the first communion at Passover, and shortly thereafter died and rose again proclaiming their salvation from their sins and freedom through the Spirit from the law.
One of the reasons that Christ was given such a hard time by the Jewish community was because he preached of a final judgment according to what was in the heart of a person, not simply by a recounting of what they had done, what laws they kept and which they broke. “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God,” that is, that those who seemingly keep the law perfectly, those who lord above others their piety and knowledge of the laws, are sickening in the sight of God. “For the Lord looks on the heart,” and not merely at man's outward actions. This was not the way that the Jewish community had been interpreting the words of God for many years, and traditions that had grown more out of care for the letter of the law rather than the spirit had were being kept just as religiously as the laws themselves. Christ spoke out against these traditions being held as though they were law, and for this he was hated by the Pharisees.
All of His teachings and actions that seem to go against the law occur after His having been baptized by John, and the Spirit of God coming down upon him in the form of a dove. At this occurrence the voice of God speaks from Heaven saying “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” After this bestowal of the Spirit upon Christ, He goes out and teaches among the people for weeks upon end. Many of His miracles are recorded as having been done on the Sabbath, a thing that is against the letter of the law as given to the fathers of the Jews. But since we have been granted the sight of the Holy Spirit coming down with a blessing from the Father, we may know that what Christ does is lawful. Because He is filled with the Spirit, which is the same Spirit that should be at work through the law when it is being properly followed by the hearts of men, he can do no wrong. His healing of the sick and lame on the Sabbath is made lawful by the fact that He does these things in the Spirit of the law, both figuratively and literally.
It needs to be noted, and is noted quite explicitly by Luke, that Christ's earthly parents “performed everything according to the Law of the Lord” while He was young. By including this piece of information in the Gospels we are able to see quite clearly that Christ was in no way impure, either by the letter of the law or the Spirit.
He is the perfect fulfillment of the law; He is the only one whose “righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,” and thus He is the only one who will be allowed to “enter the kingdom of heaven.” So we see that still, though the Spirit of God has come down to dwell in a man born of the flesh and tempted with all the temptations that befall mankind yet still pure, still mankind is not saved from the fires of Hell. His disciples, though they believe that He is God, are bound yet by the law that they broke before He was with them. They are not guilty of the laws that they appear to break while following Christ, for “have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?” While they are with Christ, and doing as He does they will not be blamed for their actions, they are simply being like the priests in the temple. But they still have death to pay for the sins of their foolishness that they committed before Christ came and called them to be His followers.
Thus it is that He keeps foretelling His death, saying, “the Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised,” for it is through this action that He is able to bring His followers into Himself, that they may be accounted His righteousness. So for this reason He allows Himself to be beaten, bruised and broken by will of those Pharisees whom He has so enraged by speaking truth, trying to correct their ways. He is tortured and rebuked, nailed like a dead animal to a tree and exposed to the elements and insults of His enemies. There, to the wonder and terror of all who love Him, He gives up His life.
Three long days of merciless silence ensue. The Heavens that rang with the voice of God at Christ's baptism, and the thunder of the Father's pain for His Child at His death, are now silent. Eleven disciples, without a leader to follow, passed these days in devastation: they had just watched God die.
But on the third day Christ's heart beat once more. On that third day, He called angels to come and move a stone for Him. On that third day, He showed the world that Death was overcome by Life.
Thereafter He appeared to the Apostles and assured them of His life, saying that He would send His Spirit to be among them after He had gone. And then He went, and they waited once more. But this time they waited assured of the hope they had found in their blessed Lord. They followed the laws and customs of their people once more, for Christ was not longer there with them leading them in the ways of the Spirit of the law. And as they gathered together for Pentecost, the day that the Pentateuch teaches that the law was given to Moses on, the Holy Spirit comes and rushes upon them, manifesting itself through the bestowal of tongues. It cannot be an accident that on the day they were to celebrate the giving of the law to the Israelites they are gifted with the presence of the Holy Spirit in such a way that they are forced through joy to go out and witness to the Gentiles in their own languages; allowing them the joy of “mak[ing] disciples of all nations.” This final bestowal of the Spirit on the disciples is a sign that they are now in the body of Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit and pleasing to God the Father just as Christ was while He walked among them.
It is though this participation in Christ, through the Spirit that saves us from the law. But it is actually so much more than that. We are not above the law, nor are we outside of it; we are part of the fulfillment of the law through Christ, for “it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.” Christ being the fulfillment of the law in a man made of flesh, and all the followers of Christ being made a part of Him through the bestowal of the Holy Spirit, making “one new man in place of the two,” so that we are not longer submitted to the obedience of the law, but to participation in Christ.
Thus, the Jewish tradition of Pentecost takes on a new meaning through the workings of Christ. What once was a traditional ceremony about a forlorn hope in a fallen world by a lost people is now made into a great celebration of the assurance found in the fact that the Son of God was here, and loves us so much that He died to make us one with Him, that we might not die and be made victims of Hell. It is because of this amazingly important role of the Spirit in this salvation process that Christ warns us that “whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” The Spirit is to be honored and glorified, once more this is fitting for the redefinition of the holiday of Pentecost: in place of the one salvation that the Jews sought through the law, we now celebrate the blessing of God as found in the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:4
Luke 16:15
I Samuel 16:7
Luke 3:22
Ibid. 2:39
Matt., 5:20
Ibid., 12:5
Ibid., 17:22
Ibid. 28:19
Luke 16:17
Ephesians 2:15
Matthew 12:32

Thursday, May 24, 2007

a parsley bouquet

I read a tip in last month's (I think) Better Homes and Gardens that suggested that when kale bolts, you can use the flowers in bouquets. It looks a little bit like wild and crazy green baby's breath.

Well, I don't have any kale that's bolting (Jess to kale, in a firm voice: "Stay put."), but I do have parsley that's bolting, so today I made this bouquet, accenting it with a bit of purple verbena. I really like the result; it's a very natural, spring bouquet, with a bit of nice height and shape.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

intarsia crochet: a new use for crossstich patterns

Isn't that pretty? My latest fun discovery in the world of crochet is that you can use crossstich patterns as intarsia crochet patterns. (Some people call it "jacquard" crochet.)

My sister and brother-in-law got me a book of Celtic knotwork patterns for my birthday last year, and this is my first project from it. (Gorgeous book, btw. It's by Barbara Hammet, a scholar and a needlewoman, who takes her patterns from historical works of art, like the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells.)

I'm doing this border while trying to decide exactly which of the larger patterns I want to do. I'm leaning towards a cross that's made out of Trinity knots.

Anyway, just thought I'd share something that I'm enjoying right now!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

WFMW: iced tea

Summer's on the way (almost past soup weather now), and a cold drink sounds good most afternoons. But soda's not healthy and not that cheap either. Iced tea on the other hand? Healthy, cheap (even the good stuff, compared to soda in the can), and delicious.

Here's what works for me: I make a big pitcher of tea one day, and then, once it's cool, pour it into two Nalgene bottles (one for me, and one for my husband to take to work) and stick 'em in the fridge. That way, when I'm ready for a cool drink the next afternoon, I just open the fridge, and there it is: 32 oz. of cold wonderfulness.

I find that if you let the tea brew a bit long, you can make pretty decent iced tea with two tea bags to 64 oz. of water. I like it without sweeteners, but my husband usually puts a bit of honey in his.

And I usually end up sharing it with the kids, cause they're so cute when they beg. ;)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

playdough for toddlers

I'm not an artsy-craftsy mom, but playdough is one project I am completely down with. It's a one-pot, small mess kitchen project, with steps that even a one-year-old can help with (everyone can knead!).

And the result is hours of fun. So, if you're low on inspiration today, grab your flour, salt and cream of tartar and whip up a batch of green, blue or red entertainment! (Today's choice - made by Bess - was pale green. The picture of her hands above was accompanied by the words "Wait, I'm gonna add a little flour, Mom.")

Yep, just doin' my part to help fill the hours you have with your kids. :D

peace of Christ to you,

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's almost Pentecost!

Which is not my favorite holiday of the church year, but it does mean that my favorite hanging will be up in our sanctuary. One Sunday only, the Altar Guild puts the dove hanging on the lectern. I don't know who made this particular hanging, but it's a dove descending on a scarlet background, and somehow the needlewoman made the dove look exactly like a dove and exactly like a bird of prey at the same time. It's amazing.

I say that Pentecost is not my favorite holiday, but maybe it should be. Of course, I think that whenever a new holiday comes around. Epiphany, say. "But it's the light of the Gospel being revealed to the Gentiles! Of course it should be my favorite holiday!"

And how much more so for the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Christ the King Sunday is actually my favorite holiday of the Church Year. Christ Triumphant, Christ Returning. And I don't think that's going to change.

But the Holy Spirit is the one with me constantly, minute to minute, day to day. It is his holiday this Sunday, and I am glad it is there in the church year. The Holy Spirit always seems to be the most neglected member of the Trinity in public and private worship, and I once had a professor explain that this was, in part, because of his primary function, which was to point to Jesus. He said you could, in one way, picture it like this: say there's a blackboard with a picture of Jesus on it. The Holy Spirit is going to be the fellow standing behind the blackboard, reading his hand round the side to point at Jesus: "Look there, look at Him!" So when you are listening to the Holy Spirit, you are going to be looking at Jesus.

So maybe it's not so bad that Christ the King Sunday is my favorite. :D Still, five days from now is going to find me in red, in honor of the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

peace of Christ to you,

Sunday, May 20, 2007

pictures from our Ascension Day hike

Which was not on Ascension Day, but close. We skipped the canyon and ridge, and just hiked a nice, long, suburban hill, that we usually zoom over by car on the way to church. You could tell, my husband pointed out, that no one expected anyone to actually use the sidewalk, by how closely the trees were planted, and how they made you squish up next to the hillside when you walked past them. "It's a courtesy sidewalk," he said. And, indeed, we passed no other pedestrians on the way up or down.

But the park at the top was beautiful, and we read the story of the Ascension from Matthew and Luke and Acts, and read the Ascension Collects in the BCP, and I found it easier to picture and feel the wonder of the disciples as they watched Jesus being taken up into heaven there at the top of the hill than I have anywhere else ever.

A very good tradition, I think.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica snell

Friday, May 18, 2007

Apostle's Creed for Toddlers?

Since yesterday was Ascension Day, I was pondering how to teach it to my daughter. "He went up! But he'll be back!" was what I came up with. And, of course, after I came up with this brilliant originality, I realized that basically what I'd done was repeated part of the Apostle's Creed.

Which got me thinking: how old does a kid need to be to start learning the Creed? Does anyone out there have any experience with teaching an almost-three-year-old the Creed? Did you simplify the language, or just go with it as is? (I'm inclined to do the latter, because then Bess wouldn't have to relearn it a few years later.)

Anyway, if anyone out there has a story to share, I'm very interested.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It's Ascension Day, folks! The day we remember the "day whereon Christ arose, high in the heavens to reign."

Here are my three thoughts about why Ascenscion Day is important:

-it reminds us of the great commission, and how we are to share Christ's love (using words! of course! but actions too) with others.
-it reminds us that Christ did not leave us orphans, but he left with the promise of sending the Holy Spirit.
-it reminds us that he left in order to prepare a place for us, and in order to COME BACK.

In other words, Ascension Day is all about the way in which our God loves us, and wants to be with us. And, in his greatness, he made a way for it to happen. When it seemed impossible, for our smallness, for our sinfulness. He overcame all our drawbacks, and is with us personally through the Holy Spirit, and will be with us personally (again! some more!) with the return of Christ. In the glory of the Father.

And after that, it gets even more Trinitarian. Hooray!

Happy Ascension Day!

peace of Christ to you,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

getting published

I'm guessing most of you, being fellow bloggers, are also fellow writers, of one stripe or another (even if it's just the practical sort, who realize that blogging has it all over the phone when it comes to cost). You may or may not cherish dreams of getting published, but the trick I'm going to share would work for other goals too, so stick with me. :D

I've been writing since before I could write. Honestly. I used to illustrate stories, narrate them to my mom, and have her write the narration down on my pictures, to form a rough storybook. (Such a cool thing to do with your kids, btw.) And I've always wanted to get published. But, barring a stint at my college newspaper, and a few contests here and there, nothing much came of it.

Till this year. There's a lot of backstory (which is mostly about me needing to stop writing for awhile, do real life, and grow up a bit), but for one reason and another, by the grace of God, this year seemed like the time to tackle that goal. Here's the thing though: the idea of saying "I will get published this year" absolutely terrified me. Not least because it was a promise the outcome of which I couldn't control. I couldn't guarantee an acceptance.

So I tweaked my resolution into something I could guarantee. I resolved, "By the end of this year, I'm going to get one paid article published, or get twenty rejection slips, whichever comes first."

See, while I couldn't promise to be published, I could promise to send in at least twenty articles. That was a little less than one every two weeks, which is, frankly about the right rate for a mom of two toddlers. And if I failed, I'd fail without the sneaking suspicion that I hadn't given it a fair try. Because twenty submitted articles is a fair try.

So, my tip is: if you've got a goal, figure out what you need to do to achieve it, and resolve to take those steps. Forget about resolving to meet the goal. Real life happens, and no achievement is entirely in your power. Resolve merely to do the parts in your power (with God's help!).

And, you might get your goal thrown in. (My first check for freelancing arrived this week. :D )

peace of Christ to you,

flower pressing

I've fallen so severely in love with gardening, that I'm taking up gardening-related crafts, heaven help me!

Here's the first:

I have a picture made of pressed flowers on my bathroom wall, and it's so pretty. (I found it at a thrift shop.) There are so many pretty flowers in my garden right now, that I want to see if I can duplicate the effect.

peace of Christ to you,

Thursday is Ascension Day!

Which means that it's time for something I've been looking forward to since reading The Catholic Home: mountain-climbing!

As I learned in the aforementioned book, it's traditional to climb a mountain on Ascension Day, in memory of Christ being raised into heaven in the sight of the disciples. Isn't that a cool tradition?

Well, we're not going to make it up a mountain on a Thursday, but my husband and I are hoping to climb a nearby ridge this Saturday or the next. And if we don't make it, I'm determined to climb at least a nearby hill or two.

Seriously, what a cool tradition!

peace of Christ to you,

Monday, May 14, 2007

in the garden

Here's a photo blog for you folks, of recent developments in the garden.

Photo courtesy of my husband. These are the zinnias growing in our wading pool garden.

Earthmovers'R'Us. Like our new watermelon hills? I'm hoping they work!

When my morning glories died (they can be perinneal here), I was heart-broken. But I got over it, and planted nasturtiums in their place. But among the circular nasturtium leaves I kept spotting other leaves that were suspiciously heart-shaped. And this morning, I discovered the joyous truth: my morning glories had reseeded themselves. (This picture does an awful job of conveying the blue-purple glory of this flower, sorry.)

Bringing the outdoors in, all the way to my kitchen table: I never knew that I loved flowers, and I think it was because cut flowers are so expensive, I couldn't let myself love them. But growing them yourself makes it much more reasonable, and now I'm finding out exactly what everyone's been talking about all these years. Flowers really are pretty. Like: really, really pretty. :D

Ever wonder what "cornflower blue" looks like?

Since taking this picture this morning, I've gone out and tied the leaves up around these cauliflower curds. But they're actually producing! (On a side note, does anyone know if cauliflower leaves are edible? Because they sure have a lot of them.)

I love this rose bush. It was one of the first plants my husband and I bought together, and we bought it for the lovely deep red color. It is constantly afflicted by wilt, but that never seems to keep it from just spilling over with jewel-like blooms every spring. Isn't it gorgeous?

Happy Monday, folks!

peace of Christ to you,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

still Easter

And that means I'm still reading things like this everyday in Morning Prayer:

"Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more. Death hath no more dominion over him."

Today I had to go in for a scary doctor's appointment, that ended up being not-so-scary, and actually rather good (i.e., neutral, which is pretty much always good in the medical world) news. Reading the verse above made me tear up.

Whatever happens, in these bodies of death, Christ has been raised from the dead, and dies no more. And he will show us the way through death, to himself.

peace of Christ to you,

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

How to Entertain a One Year Old

Arrange to have the house across the street undergo construction.

peace of Christ to you,

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

shopping specific colors

Okay, so I like clothes shopping. And I especially like thrift store clothes shopping. Because it's much more affordable and less wasteful than new, of course, but also because it's more fun. There's so much more variety, so many surprises! You're not just stuck with the choice of whatever (probably ugly) style is popular at the moment.

But thrift store shopping, and any other kind really, can be a bit overwhelming. And there's always the danger of buying something you will never, ever wear. While there's lots of tricks for preventing this (only shop for what you actually need, think about which clothes you wear most often and buy similar ones, etc.), I came up with a new one recently that's been really helpful.

I've started buying only two colors, other than your basic black, white and denim. I picked my favorite two colors of course! For me, that's blue and green. I'm a winter, so I looked good in a lot of those lovely deep jewel tones, but I don't always feel like wearing all of them. I've found, for instance, that though I look well in burgundy, I often don't want to wear it. I don't know why; I just happen to find it a slightly depressing color.

But I always, always, always am in the mood to wear blue and green (the versions of it that go well with my coloring, that is). To me, wearing blue and green is shorthand for thinking about sky and trees, and that's just never bad. So I decided I'd just buy those two colors, and, hopefully, eventually, everything in my closet will match. (Though I admit, that there's been at least one instance since I instituted this rule when I bought something, well, pink. But I figure if it's gorgeous enough that I notice it when I'm not looking for it, well, I'll make an exception.)

In the short term, what it's done has been to make clothes shopping a lot easier. Thrift stores aisles aren't nearly as overwhelming if you're only keeping your eyes open for variations on two shades.

So . . . yeah! I'm sure everyone out there would pick a few different colors (and hey, maybe your "basics" would be tan and grey rather than white and black), but limiting my wardrobe to my favorite colors sure works for me!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, May 7, 2007

ha! it WAS a good Monday!

And thanks to the other folks who confessed their deep, secretly-held love for Mondays too.

I tried Robin Jones Gunn's suggestion about getting up early to write today. Well, a modified version. I know that getting up at 3 am would - well, not kill me, but make me (as my friend Emily would say) a bad mommy. So I got up at 5 am.

I had trouble getting started, but at about 5:20, my son woke up wanting to nurse, and as I fed him in the pre-dawn dark, I let my mind wander through my ideas, and when Gamgee was blissfully asleep again, I was able to write easily. Nothing better than nursing for brain-storming.

And the rest of the day . . . was okay. I got a nap during the kids' afternoon nap, and I got the laundry done, and the dishes and dinner, and all that good stuff. And made Duplo houses and stairs and slides with my daughter. And we read library books. And Gamgee and I looked out the window at the sky and trees and houses. And I got to go for a walk with a friend.

It was a very good Monday. God be praised.

I think I'll get up early again on Wednesday.

Also, the two hours of silence? The introvert in me was ecstatic. :D

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, May 6, 2007


I hate Mondays for being the true end of the weekend, but I love them because they are almost always the best stay-at-home days. I am most rested, and most motivated, and all my work seems brand new. Compared to Fridays, and even more, compared to Thursdays, Mondays are fresh and shiney.

Yay Mondays!

peace of Christ to you,

Friday, May 4, 2007

Morning Prayer in the BCP

As I was reading the service yesterday morning, it struck me that Morning Prayer is a good balance to the spontaneous prayers I pray the rest of the day. Many of my prayers during the day are petitions. After all, it's the difficulties of daily life that remind you to look to the Lord, by and large.

But Morning Prayer is different. There are plenty of petitions in it, to be sure ("but thou, oh Lord, have mercy upon us; spare thou those who confess their faults"), and even a place where "Authorized intercessions and thanksgivings may follow," but there is much more praise. There are the canticles, which glorify the Lord. There are many repetitions of the Gloria Patri ("Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.") And there is great care throughout the whole service to address God as his greatness deserves: "Almighty God our heavenly Father", "Almighty and most merciful Father", "Christ the Lord", "God my Savior", "the Lord God of Israel", "Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father", "Lord God of Sabaoth", "the King of glory", "God, the King eternal", "almighty and everlasting God" and "Father of all mercies". These are all the titles which deserve to be constantly used, but that, in my hurry and distraction through the rest of the day, I forget and omit.

It's good to take time every day to use them. To pray to the Lord with the care and attention He merits. It's true that He hears my prayers that are uttered quickly and distractedly as I go about my day. But my prayer life would, I think, be unbalanced without this reverent, set-aside time in the morning. It gives Him His due, but it also has the salutary effect of reminding me who I address so easily during the rest of the hours I'm awake.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, May 3, 2007

May Saints

May 2 was the feast day of St. Athanasius. (I actually met a little boy named Athanasius once. He was Eastern Orthodox, and was born on Athanasius' day. Very cool!)

In order to break my streak of noting the saint days after they happen, here's a list of the ones coming up this month:

-happily situated near Mother's Day is the saint day of Monica, mother of Augusting of Hippo: May 4.
-the great mystic and writer, Julian of Norwich, has her feast day on May 8.
-another great writer, Gregory of Nazianzus, has his feast day on May 9.
-Dustan, Archbishop of Canterbury, is celebrated on May 19.
-May 20 is the feast day of Alcuin. Anyone know anything about him?
-Ditto for Jackson Kemper. He's listed in the BCP as "First Missionary Bishop in the United States", and is celebrated on May 24.
-Now here's a heavy hitter: the feast day of the Venerable Bede is celebrated on May 25. If you've never read any of his "Ecclesiastical History", well, you should. Especially the part about the Romans evangelising England from the south up, the Irish from the north down, and how they met in the middle and argued about the date of Easter.
-I mentioned him awhile back, when discussing one of the popes, but Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury (woo-hoo!) is celebrated on May 26.
-This one is in bold in the BCP, meaning that it's a major feast day: The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I assume that's when she went to see Elizabeth? This is the last day in May, the 31.

wow! A lot of important people to remember this month! Truth is, everyone on that list is someone to whom we all owe at least one great debt. They've improved our understanding of the incarnation (Athanasius), shown us the power of intercessory prayer (Monica), explained to us the great love of the Lord Jesus (Julian), introduced our ancestors (possibly! depending on where you're from! and if not yours, than probably the ancestors of friends of yours!) to Christ (Augustine) and much, much more. Indeed, our Lord is glorious in his saints. May we follow their example in serving Jesus.

peace of Christ to you,

why being a stay-at-home mom doesn't make me crazy

'cause it could, you know. It's not exactly the most sanity-enhancing job in the world, what with the constanting needing to play hands, feet, brain and conscience to people whose hands, feet, brains and consciences aren't ready to do the job on their own yet.

No, but why it doesn't make me crazy, I realized just now, while nuzzling the cheek of the kissable-ist little boy in the world, is that I like my kids. I don't just love them, I like them too. And that holds the craziness at bay, praise Jesus.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Meeting a Literary Heroine: Robin Jones Gunn

There are a few of my literary heroines that I'm never going to meet this side of heaven. I don't think, for example, that I will ever be able to go to a book-signing for Dorothy Sayers' novels. I'm holding out hope for Lois McMaster Bujold (read the Miles books and the Curse of Chalion, and skip everything else), but up till today, the only one of my literary heroines I'd met in real life was Frederica Mathewes-Green.

But today, I got to meet Robin Jones-Gunn! She was doing a book-signing in our town, and when I heard about it, I didn't think I'd be able to go, because my son was on the verge of falling asleep. He didn't fall asleep, which annoyed me, but in the end, that was what let me go to the book-signing. I was on the way out of the house, when I decided, "well, it started an hour ago, but maybe she's still there," and so grabbed one of her novels off my shelf, and put it in the car along with diaper bag and library books. We stopped by the bookstore where she was, and guess what? She was still there! Moreover, she was able to talk to me for about five minutes.

And, I have to say, she was lovely. She talked to me about writing when her kids were little (so encouraging!), confirmed by suspicion that she lives in Oregon (beautiful Oregon!), quoted C.S. Lewis, smiled at and complemented the babies, and signed both my old book and the new one I bought there.

Robin Jones Gunn is the author that showed me that you can write about the present day, and still make it beautiful, that you can write about teenagers without being condescending, that you can write relaxing books that aren't shallow, that you can write about a relationship with Jesus without being clunky, and that you can write sweet books without being cloying. That's what makes her one of my literary heroines.

So, go read some Robin Jones Gunn! And, as you do, enjoy her stories with the assurance that she's just as lovely in real life as she seems on the page.

peace of Christ to you,

p.s. You know how she wrote when her kids were little? She got up at three in the morning four times a week! And you know what? I want to try it - maybe I'll start with one morning a week, just to see how it goes. But honestly, that sounds like the best way to get some uninterrupted time. (And, if you do it her way, you make a big pot of tea to go with all those words. Doesn't that sound lovely?)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

skip the party

I'm planning on throwing birthday parties for my kids. Someday. But I really haven't yet, even though, together, they've had three birthdays so far. Why not? Because they're toddlers, and, frankly, they don't care. We make a cake and give them presents, and the grandparents usually supply cool things like balloons (mylar! we have such smart grandparents 'round here!), but I've never thrown a birthday party for my kids.

and you know, it really works for me. And them too. They get everything they want (cake! presents! cards in the mail! grandparents making a fuss!) and feel special on their day.

Now, I have friends that love throwing parties for their toddlers. And more power to 'em. There's nothing wrong with it. But, if you're like me, and the thought of organizing a big to-do for someone who a) won't care and b) quite possibly will be provoked to tears by all the hoopla, makes you crazy, then I say, just skip it. To my mind, it's a lot of work for very little reward, and I just don't like equations that come out that way.

I imagine that around four or five, Bess and Gamgee will start asking for a party. And once they want it, I'll be glad to do it. We'll have little people running around the house, playing games, eating themselves sick, and going away with favors.  But during these crazy toddler years? Cake and presents with family works for me. :D

peace of Christ to you,

things to do with toddlers

One of my favorite things to do with my kids is to stick the dishpans in the sink, fill 'em up, break out the plastic cups and let the kids go to town with waterplay. They will stay at the sink, getting soaking wet, for about an hour. Which is a LONG time for a one and two year old.

Usually, of course, this means an extra change of clothes during the day. But I just discovered that if I let them do their water play right after breakfast, while they're still in their pajamas, I don't have an extra change to do - just the one we'd do anyway in the morning. Yay!

Other fun things Bess and Gamgee think make up a great day are:
-playing with homemade playdough. Usually in concert with playing with their plastic zoo animals. The playdough becomes food and water and who knows what else.
-playing outside. Again, this preferably involves water.
-climbing things. This involves my heartrate going up.
-playing with homemade magic mud. Recipe: cornstarch & water. Suggestion: do not leave the box of cornstarch within reach of the children. Ever seen that Courderoy book where the box of soap suds tips over? Well, that's what it looks like if you leave the cornstarch box within reach.
-reading books. Mostly to Bess. Gamgee thinks books are for throwing.
-pulling everything out of the pantry.

Most of these things, I'm realizing, involve lots of mess. Anyone have some good toddler games that don't involve mess. (snicker) No, really. :D

peace of Christ to you,

p.s. This just occurred to me: does "courderoy" mean "heart of the king"? And if so, who thought that fabric should be called something so fancy?