Tuesday, October 30, 2007

not something I ever wanted to be able to say

So we found out yesterday that a mole my husband had biopsied had melanoma in it. "My husband had cancer" is not something I ever wanted to be able to say. Though "my husband had cancer" is better than "my husband HAS cancer", although at this point I don't know which statement is true. One of them is, but it's going to take a visit to a specialist to find out which one.

At first I thought "just skin cancer" because I've had friends who've had skin cancer "scares", and it hasn't been a big deal. But this is not a scare, it's the real thing, and it's melanoma, which is the worst kind, the kind that kills 1 out of 7 people who get it.

Hopefully, we caught it early. If we did, the survival rate is about 99%. And I think we caught it early. But we don't know yet, and I ask for your prayers that we caught it very early, and that Adam will be just fine.

But, again, "my husband has had cancer" is not what I ever wanted to be able to say.

Adam got his test results while he was at work, and he, knowing me, knew I'd have trouble not worrying, so he told me to make sure I listened to some good music before he got home.

I didn't want to, but I knew he was right, so I looked for my favorite cd of hymns. But I couldn't find it. So I put on a Christmas cd, one of those really good cds where the whole album holds together as one piece of art, rather than a collection of individual songs.

And that's where I found the words I did want to say, that I've always wanted to say, that I always will want to say, words like "Glory to God in the highest!" and "God has come to walk among us" and "Emmanuel, our God is with us now." Those words have been true since the incarnation of Christ, and they are true even though my husband has had (has?) cancer.

It's funny, because I tend to think of comfort as people being close and sweet and tender, but what was comforting yesterday was something majestic and huge and over-awing. What was comforting wasn't what wasn't any human-sized reassurance, but rather an assurance bigger than the universe, that God is great and good, always has been, and always will be.

And I learned that really good Christmas music is good any time of year, because really good Christmas music is about the incarnation and the glory of God, and that is true in October, in May, in March - whenever. Not just December. And it's true in the face of cancer.

God is bigger than this. And I am glad.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall Y'all Giveaway: Two Vintage Aprons!

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Hi! Welcome to the Fall Y'all Giveaway, hosted by Bloggy Giveaways (where there are more great giveaways to be found). Here's what I'm giving away at Homemaking Through the Church Year:

Two pretty vintage aprons. To enter for your chance to win, just leave a comment by this Friday, before midnight, Pacific Time. I'll pick a winner by random draw (or random number generator) sometime on Saturday, and post the winner on Sunday. U.S. Residents only, I'm afraid, and you must leave a valid email address, or have your email address available on your Blogger profile, or I won't be able to contact you, and I'll pick a different winner. (You don't have to be a blogger, you just have to have a valid email address.)

Now, these are vintage aprons, so they're not perfect, but they're very cute and I think you'll enjoy doing your holiday cooking with something so pretty tied around your waist. And I know they're wrinkled in the photo, but I was in a hurry to get the post up; they will be freshly laundered when they arrive at the winner's door. :) One winner gets 'em both, so leave your comment today, and then make sure you check out all the other great giveaways at the link above!

And please come back and visit: this blog is about homemaking through the church year, which means it's about loving God from season to season, and how to raise kids, keep house and living a good life through that lens. With things like All Saints' Day, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas coming up, we're going to be having a lot of fun here in the next few weeks. I'd love to have your company through this festive time of year, so add Homemaking Through the Church Year to your bookmarks or blog reader if holidays, kids and serving Jesus are things you enjoy reading about. :) (And if not, enjoy entering the giveaway anyway, I'm glad you stopped by!)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Now THAT would be homemaking through the church year!

Did you realize that Easter is really, really, REALLY early this year? As in, there is only exactly ONE month of Epiphany, and Lent starts on February 6? Do you know what that means? It means that Easter Sunday is March 23rd. And do you know what THAT means? It means I could have this baby on Easter Sunday!

I don't know how I feel about that. I would HATE to miss the Queen of Feasts - Easter is my favorite holiday of the whole year, is there anything more glorious than the gold and bells and alleluias and joy of the Lord's ressurection?

On the other hand, could a child have a better birthday?

So, here's my new fantasy: I go to church on Easter morning, worship the Lord in the company of my fellow parishioners, and just as I'm on the church porch, saying goodbye to friends before heading off to Easter dinner, my water breaks, my contractions start, and it's off to the hospital with a baby six or seven hours later (which would be a real miracle, given how long my previous labors were).

Yep, that'd be pretty cool. :)

And the moral of the story is: never assume you're having a Lenten baby until you actually check the calandar.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

p.s. My actual due date is Maundy Thursday, but I think my doctor's wrong and I'm actually due on Friday of Bright Week. So . . . Easter Sunday would be right in the middle there.


Okay, I thought a little further about the last post last night (what is it about that time between lying down and falling asleep that makes it so good for thinking?).

I think the difference between what I'd call "malicious" offense and the "just making fun" offenses is that one is against the devout person, and one is against the object of his devotion. I have trouble with offenses against the devout person because I respect his personhood. I don't have trouble (or so much trouble) with the offenses against his object of devotion, because I don't believe his object of devotion is worthy of devotion. In other words, I don't believe other religions are true, but I belive people of other religious beliefs are people, made of the image of God and worthy of respect.

Yep, I think that's what was confusing me.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

offended on someone else's behalf?

So, my husband and I watched a movie last night that provoked an interesting debate: is it right to be offended on behalf of someone of another religion when their religion is insulted?

The movie in question had a character (heavily modeld after Ms. Spears) who was a pop singer very into both Buddhism and highly-sexualized dance moves. Effectively, she sang about Zen while shaking her booty.

I don't know enough about Buddhism to know if this would be offensive to a devout Buddhist, but I suspect it would, just because it is using the religion in a way the religion wasn't meant to be used.

And I had some vague notion that as a devout person myself, I ought to be offended on behalf of devout people of other faiths when their faith was insulted.

But I'm not sure. After all, I don't believe that Buddhism is true, so why should it particularly bother me that someone was making fun of it?

This strikes me, by the way, as being different than malicious insults to other faiths. I think we should find those offensive. For example, I think that deliberately feeding pork to a Kosher-keeping Jew without their knowledge, and then telling them afterward to horrify him is pretty heinous. That seems, to me, to be pretty clear by the Golden Rule: I want to treat other people's religious beliefs with the same respect I want my own to be treated. I don't think there's anything wrong with eating pork, but I don't want to be forced to do something against my convictions, and I wouldn't want anyone else to be forced to do something against his convictions. I'd be offended, for example, by a government policy that forced Muslims to denounce their faith. I don't think Islam is true, but I think it is wrong to force devout people to deny their devotion.

But what if it's not malicious? The character in this movie was there more to make fun of pop stars than of Buddhism - in fact, it seemed a bit to be a send-up of Madonna's disgusting parody of the crucifixion.

And, see, Madonna's act does disgust and insult me. But that's because I believe that Christ, the incarnate Son of God, really did die on the cross and then three days later rise again. Should a Buddhist, who does not believe this, be insulted by Madonna on my behalf? (To take the opposite case.)

I'm really not sure. And I guess it's not a terribly important question, but I am curious what others think of it.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, October 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Mediterranean Chicken and rice
Tuesday: turkey chili tostadoes and Roasted Cauliflower
Wednesday: Mac-and-Cheese soup and sliced Asian pears
Thursday: Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lemon-Sage Brown Butter
Saturday: Apple Pockets and sharp Cheddar cheese slices

I have to say, I"m looking forward to the ravioli on Thursday the most. I thought it might be an expensive dish, but it turns out that wonton wrappers are really cheap (like $1.50 for 60 of them).

For other great menus, check out Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

out and about

Sorry that posts have been light; we've been out and about, and exciting things have been happening.

One exciting thing: we went on vacation! Adam and I realized that aside from a weekend spent camping, we hadn't gotten away for a summer vacation this year. And since his job is pretty generous with paid vacation time, it seemed a shame not to use some of it. So we decided to have a fall vacation, and discovered, to our delight, that lodging rates in the little mountain town we wanted to visit are much cheaper in the fall than they are either in the summer (mountain biking season) or in the winter (skiing season). So we went up to the mountains, to the same place we'd honeymooned, and went hiking and canoeing, and introduced the kiddoes to the joys of throwing rocks into a lake. One other really cool thing was that on the last day of four vacation, my folks came up and babysat the kids for a few hours so that Adam and I could go off on our own. All in all, it was a splendid time. It was kind of funny being back at our honeymoon locale for the first time since our honeymoon, and having three (one in utero) kids with us.

The second very exciting thing is that I sold another article, this time to a magazine that I've read and loved for years. I'll give you more information when it's closer to actually being published; right now I'm in the revision process. Which is pretty amazing too, because the editor I'm working with is so good at his job. I'm learning a lot about the craft of writing just reading his suggestions and requests for revisions.

And I'm starting to feel huge. Last I checked, I hadn't gained a ton of weight (only about 10 lbs., and I'm close to halfway through), but I look very, very pregnant now. It's fun. Especially when my daughter looks at my belly and says, "baby!" and gives my belly a kiss. And then when my son (who at 1 1/2 has no idea what's going on) imitates her and says, "baby!" and makes a kissing noise too.

But, anyway, vacation's over, and life's getting back to normal, but it feels like a better normal for having that time away with my family. Being with Adam all day, instead of just early mornings and the evenings, was such a blessing. Being with him twenty-four hours a day gave me so many opportunities to notice how well our marriage works and how glad I am to be married to this particular man. There were so many times this last week when I thought, "with anyone else, this wouldn't be fun. With anyone else, this would be so much harder. With anyone else, I would be so frustrated. But with you, this is wonderful." It was a blessing to have the time and space to see how blessed I am in my marriage, if that makes sense. I am so grateful for this man, and theses children. Praise the Lord, who created them, and gave us all to each other!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

p.s. the work on learning the saint's song continues apace! Brie has begun to ask for "the song we're learning for all Saint's Day" at bedtime; and all the fun of getting ready for Nov. 1 is reminding me of how much I'm looking forward to Advent.

Monday, October 8, 2007

St. Michael and All Angels (plus All Saint's Day)

So . . . I missed Michaelmas. I've been so into this Ordinary Time thing that I've gotten out of the habit of looking for feasts. But I'm beginning to think about All Saint's Day, which is (I think) the next big feast day coming up. (Um, that is, not forgetting the feast days of St. Luke, St. James, St. Simon and St. Jude.)

I don't celebrate the weird American perversion that is Halloween, but I am very interested in finding out what the older, better traditions surrounding All Hallow's Day are, so that I can celebrate them with my children. I like the idea of having a day where we talk all about the people who really, really loved Jesus (this, I think, is the best way to define "saints" to a one year old and a three year old).

My best idea so far is to collect some good picture books about the saints (we already have a few), and to spend the week of All Saint's Day reading them daily. Also, there's a great children's hymn called "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" that I'd love to teach my kids. Bess, at least, is good at picking up song lyrics, and I think if we sang it every day this next month, that she'd learn it. I especially like how the end of each verse says, "and I mean to be one too" (a saint, that is).

And I've heard that in some places in the world, it's traditional to make pretzels on All Saints' Day. I admit that I don't quite understand why.

So, does anyone else have any great ideas about how to celebrate All Saints' with kids?

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Menu Plan Monday: Bee-Bim Bop!

This week I'm doing something special for my daughter: I'm making a meal out of one of her library books. We just got "Bee-Bim Bop!" out last week, and the rhyme is so catchy, and the meal that the mom in the story is making for her daughter looks so good, AND there's a recipe in the back of the book - so we're making it this Wednesday. :D It might be almost as good as the Dim Sum Thanksgiving that my sister and I are planning.

Also, at the end of this week's menu, a recipe for some amazing corn-sausage chowder.

Monday: Corn-Sausage Chowder
Tuesday: Pakistani Kima
Wednesday: BEE-BIM BOP!
Thursday: Broccoli and Three Cheese Calzones
Friday: dinner at folks
Saturday: dinner at Poppy's

And now, the corn-sausage chowder. I got this recipe originally from American Baby magazine (go figure), but I haven't been able to find a link to the recipe online. So, here you go:

-1 lb. sausage
-1 chopped onion
-3 cups chopped red potatoes
-2 cups water
-1 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. oregano or majoram
-1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
-1 15 1/4 oz. can corn, drained
-1 14 3/4 oz. can creamed corn, undrained
-1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

1) Cook and crumble sausage and onion till cooked and tender.
2) Stir in potatoes, water and spices. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cook about 10 min. or till potato is tender.
3) Add corn and ev. milk. Cook and stir till heated through.

Really, you can let this simmer on the stove for an hour or two to get a really good flavor. Also, I recommend using hot Italian sausage links, and just opening them up and crumbling the meat mixture inside. Those sausages taste best in this recipe.

Enjoy your meals this week, and for more great menus, visit Organizing Junkie.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, October 5, 2007

judge not

I've been (very, very slowly) reading through "The Illumined Heart" by Frederica Mathewes-Green. Very, very slowly because it's my purse book - a tiny book that fits in my purse, that I pull out and read on those rare occasions when I'm sitting somewhere, waiting, and don't have children with me. So, like, doctor's offices, basically. :)

Anyway, I recently read in there these words:

"How can we evaluate another's deeds and respond to them, perhaps even bring about correction and justice, and yet not judge them? To answer that question, picture a courtroom. See where the judge sits? Don't sit there. That's God's seat, and he will judge on the last day."

She goes on to say:

"Until that day, we linger in the courtroom as the dear friend of the accused."

I was very struck by that image, and wondered what it would look like. Well, pretty soon after reading that, I heard a real life example of what it might look like.

I was listening to Dave Ramsey's podcast. Dave Ramsey is a financial guru, very sensible, and he podcasts his call-in radio show. He was talking to one guy (and I'm going from memory here, so forgive any mistakes) and it turned out that this fellow hadn't filed his tax returns. Dave gave him advice on his other problems, and then his voice turned very urgent as he addressed the tax problem. He told him, basically, "You have to do this. You have to file YESTERDAY. Not filing and paying is breaking the law, and you're going to be in huge trouble. Fix it now, so you don't get in huge trouble."

And I thought, "wow, that's what Frederica Mathewes-Green is talking about." It felt like an exact example of the attitude she was urging us to have towards our fellow sinners. The radio host didn't say, "I condemn you for your unlawful actions" he said, "you messed up - fix it while there is still time."

And that's how we're supposed to help one another, when we see sin in each other's lives. Not "well, there's no hope for you" but "hey, you're in trouble, and you'll be in worse trouble soon. Quick! Fix it while there's still time!"

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

a submissive wife

Though I'm still sick, I'm getting better (at least, in my world, not having a headache every day counts as "better") and I'm trying to reclaim that second-trimester energy I was feeling a couple weeks ago.

To that end, I have gotten on the ball with the writing thing, and have submitted two queries to two different magazines in the past three days. I have two more planned before the end of the week (here's hoping!). Submitting a query is, always, a long-odds thing - your odds of being accepted are never terribly high, and your likely rejection rates are. But, here's what I keep telling myself: "Bad as the submission odds are, my chances of my queried article being accepted are much, much better than my chances of my UNqueried articles being accepted." :D Yeah, I think the chances of an unsubmitted article being accepted are zero, and so the ratio of queried chances to unqueried chances works out to infinity. I think. (English's my thing, not math.)

Anyway, I was talking to my husband, excitedly, about my article submissions ('cause, well, after the first-trimester+being-sick slump, being productive, even of queries, feels SO GOOD) and he laughed, and said, "Ah, you're such a submissive wife."

okay, and on that bad pun, I will leave you. G'night!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell