Tuesday, August 28, 2007

WFMW: making my own rag rugs

This has been a very crafty summer (see my post on learning to sew), but I think my favorite craft has been the new rag rugs I made for our bedroom and our bathroom.

I've always liked rag rugs, but they simply seemed to complicated to make. How, after all, do you braid rags?

Well, I still don't know the answer to that question. But, thanks to this tutorial from This Vintage Chica, I now know how to crochet rags. And that, my friends, has made all the difference. The truth is, if you know even the most basic single crochet stitch, you can make your own gorgeous rag rugs. And the other truth is, the part that takes the longest isn't the crocheting, it's the cutting of the rag strips.

This rug, now in our bedroom, is mostly made out of our old denim couch slipcover:

This rug, now in our bathroom, is more colorful, and is made out of shirts, sheets and sarongs:

The nice thing about that one is, because I made it myself, I was able to make it extra long, so that we could kneel comfortably next to the tub when bathing the kids. It's also made out of mostly cotton cloth, which means it dries out easily.

I wish you could see what these actually have done for these rooms. The bathroom looks more cheery now, with that bright, soft rug on the tile floor, and the rug in our bedroom picks up the colors from the quilt on our bed and the hangings over the windows and lends the room a mellow, comfy air. This is a great, satisfying craft - beautiful and useful at the same time. (And frugal! You'll never throw out a stained shirt or sheet again! Just cut out the stain and rag the rest for a rug!)

Making my own rag rugs works for me!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, August 26, 2007

to the other blogging moms:

thank you. Truly.

Last night, I was browsing links from Et Tu, Jen?'s weekly links post. I don't remember where exactly I found it, but somewhere between Radical Catholic Mom and The Wine Dark Sea, I came across the idea, the reminder really, that when it comes to our children, serving their immediate needs (real needs) is pretty much always what God would have us be doing. If they need water, then getting up and getting them water is serving Jesus, and he'd probably rather have us doing that than doing any other great devotional work.

Anyway, I was glad to have that at the forefront of my mind, because just as my husband and I were getting ready for bed, my three year old woke up, projectile vomiting and with a fever of about 103. Bedtime was delayed by a good hour as we cleaned her up, tried to get her to drink and take some Tylenol, held her head as she threw up again, tried more water and Tylenol, held her head as she threw up again, changed her again, rinsed more laundry, dug out the electrolyte drink and moved her bed into our room so we could keep an ear out for her during the night.

Through all of this I was nursing my own headache and longing to be asleep. But I still managed to be soothing and present with my daughter. I don't think I could have done that as well if I hadn't had in my head the encouraging thought that this was obviously exactly what Jesus would have me doing right then. I'm so glad I read those blog entries; they came at the perfect time, right before I really needed them, and I didn't even know it.

This morning, Bess still has a fever, but she's been able to keep down crackers and water and Tylenol, and her fever's a much less scary 100.5. Please pray for her and for us, though, for healing and that it doesn't spread through the rest of our family.

But I just wanted to say: it was cool to see how God gave me the reminder I needed right before I needed it. I am amazed, as always, at how the Holy Spirit works through his people. And tickled to see that that includes us momma bloggers. :)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

p.s. the other big reason last night was so much better than it could have been? I wasn't alone. Adam was there, holding and comforting and cleaning right along side me. Thank God, also, for husbands. Amen and amen.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ordinary Time and the Creeds

I can feel Advent and Christmas beginning to bear down on us, even though it's almost August. What can I say? In my family, my mom always started her Christmas shopping in January, and when it gets to the end of summer and I find my Christmas list less than half-fulfilled, I start to feel behind.

But it's still the long, green season of the Holy Spirit, to quote Jessica Powers, and it feels like the whole of the season has been filled with the Creeds.

(A quick side-note: as I'm writing this, my children are having their "quiet time" in their room. Although right now it sounds like what they've decided to do with their "quiet time" is have a shrieking contest. Oh well, as long as they stay in their separate beds while they squeal back and forth, it's okay with me. But somehow, I couldn't keep writing this post without giving you a feeling of the "SHRIEK!gigglegiggleSHRIEK!" soundtrack that I'm hearing in my house right now.)

This summer, we taught our now-three-year-old the Apostle's Creed. And saying it altogether is now part of our bedtime routine, right in between the Lord's prayer and praying for our family. (I give you a direct quotation of my daughter's nightly prayer: "Dear Lord. Please bless Aunt Rho and she can do well. Give her good night's sleeps. Amen.") We made up hand motions to go with the Creed and even my one year old son raises his hands at the end ("and life everlasting! Amen!")

I have trouble now, when I read the Creed during my own quiet time, not using the strongly rhythmic entonation we developed when teaching it to my daughter: "I beLIEVE in GOD the FATHER. ALmighty MAKER of HEAVEN and EARTH." I can't say "he descended into hell" anymore. It always comes out: "he DEscended into hell."

But in a way, it's a good thing. I've thought more about the Creed this summer, teaching it to my daughter, than I ever have before in my life. There was one day, during Morning Prayer, when I just read it slowly, and hit something like contemplation as I pictured what each of those short, succinct phrases actually meant. "He was concieved by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary". Really? Really? How can that BE? After "almighty maker of heaven and earth", how did he get small enough to be an embreyo?

Though I had no idea that this would end up being our theme during Ordinary Time this year, I think the Creed is a fitting theme for this time of year. We look at Christ's birth during Advent, his death and resurrection during Holy Week, and other parts of his life on other high holy days. But Ordinary Time is a good time to stand back and look at the whole thing, the whole of our faith. And where better to find it all put together than in the Creed?

Maybe next year we'll have graduated from the Apostle's the Nicene. :D

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, August 9, 2007

looking out for each other

I am (and you may laugh, if you like) a fan of Dr. Laura. In that I enjoy listening to her while I do housework, I appreciate the encouragement she gives to parents and spouses to be good parents and spouses, and I find the issues she deals with on her show thought-provoking. I don't agree with her on everything (I think, for instance, that she doesn't really understand forgiveness - though, to be fair, she isn't a Christian, and so I don't expect her to share my theological views on forgiveness), but I do enjoy and deeply appreciate her work.

So, when I saw her newest book at the library, I picked it up, and I'm about halfway through. It's a lot like her show: easy to absorb, mostly right, encouraging and thought-provoking. The thought-provoking part might be the best part. Reading it in snatches since Wednesday has left me thinking a lot during the day about marriage, what makes a good marriage, and what specifically makes my marriage good. Which is good pondering material as I clean the house, feed the kids and take the occasional, much-appreciated, nice, long shower. (We just got back from camping and I am - oh so truly - all about the running water.)

I've always known - since before we were dating actually - that one of the things that really works between Adam and me is that we are good at doing things together. Once, when we were still just friends, we cleaned out a really disgusting fridge together (it was at the end of an MK retreat) and even though we were, you know, cleaning out a really disgusting fridge, we had a grand old time. That's when I discovered that Adam was a good guy to have with you if you wanted ordinary life to be fun. He's just really, really good at normal things, at day-to-day stuff, at chores, at meals, on walks, at games. In fact, the perfect man for me to marry. (And so, dear reader, I did.)

But though that is still true (truer than ever), this time around, thinking about our marriage and what was good about it, I came up with a new answer: the longer and longer the time is that we've been married, the more Adam and I look out for each other. In fact, we've started looking out for each other so much, that we're starting to look out for ourselves less and less. It's coming about that I don't have to tell Adam when I'm dead tired, and really need a bit more sleep. He notices and gets up with the kids on those Saturday mornings and lets me sleep in an hour, without me having to ask. And it's coming to be that while he won't bother to notice that he's stressed out, but I will, and I'll help him get back to his normal, calm self.

And this new development, coming about now and not earlier, I think, because it has just taken us this long to really get to know each other, is so very good. It lets us both be at the same time less selfish, and more loving.

Someone might say, "Well, you could be taken care of just the same if you both just looked out for and took care of yourselves." Well, maybe. But isn't this so much better? I don't have to look out for me, because someone else is doing it. And I can, instead, focus my attention on someone outside of myself, and learn more about how to love. And here's the thing: I can do it because I'm secure. I don't have to worry about me, because someone else is worrying about me.

It's two gifts in one - or maybe three. It's the gift of being loved, the gift of loving, and the gift of being able to let go of myself.

And (St. Paul was so wise) it mirrors the love Christ has for his church. Isn't that why we can feel safe loving anyone at all? because God first loved us? If I didn't believe that my heavenly Father was watching over me, I don't think I'd ever take my eyes off myself long enough to look out for anyone else. I'd be so scared, so anxious to see to my own needs, that I'd never take the time to see to someone else's. But because I know that my Father loves me, and will take care of me, I can devote time and energy to people other than myself. I can be a parent to my children only because God is being a parent to me.

And it's just so cool to see that principle, that part of God's love for his people, being mirrored in our marriage. God gives me, in the very tangible love of my husband, a picture of the spiritual truth of his love for his Church. He's like a priest who knows that the kids need an object lesson in order to understand the children's sermon. It's just so cool.

There. That's my deep thought for the day: I can take care of Adam because he's taking care of me, and he can take care of me because I'm taking care of him, and really, that can all happen because God's taking care of all of us.

And here's to books that make you think. (Thanks, Dr. Laura.)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell