Saturday, January 28, 2012

Game Trust, Real Trust, and Love

When I watch reality TV, I'm always surprised by the contestant (and there's always at least one), who is shocked to find out that another contestant wasn't telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but that truth. It's a bit like someone being shocked that poker sometimes involves bluffing.

Of course, there's a whole conversation about ethics that can be had here, and it's a conversation that fascinates me, but I'm going to put it aside for the moment in order to focus on something else: the nature of trust.

Game Trust
In reality TV game shows - or in just about any game - the person you can trust is the person whose interests align with yours. You  have "game trust"*. Game trust means that you can predict what the person will do and therefore you can trust them to act in the way you expect. To use game trust to your advantage, find where your opponent's interests correspond with yours, and exploit that correspondence to your benefit.

All very dog-eat-dog, right? Well, it can be. It's also very close to the reason why capitalism works and is the worse system in the world - except for all the others. Capitalism is an economic system that assumes that people are going to operate in their own self-interest, and builds all its checks and balances around that assumption. And, people being people, they do act in their own self-interest, and that's why capitalism usually works okay.

So: game trust.

Real Trust

What comes next in this hierarchy of trust? It's what I'll call "real trust". It's what we have with our spouses, our parents, our friends, and our kids, at least in the healthy versions of those relationships. We can trust them to act "not just in our own interest, but also in the interest of others".

When I was engaged to marry my husband, my mom shared a great piece of marriage advice. She said, "If it's good for Adam, it's good for you." Or, in other words, if there was a thing Adam loved - say a hobby or a job or a friend - and it wasn't something I loved, it was still good for me if he had that good thing. Because when we married, his good became my good. Anything that makes him happier, better, stronger? Makes me the same, because we've become - in ways both mystical and practical - one. His good is my good, and my good is his.

Other good relationships work this way. I have friends who have passions that baffle me - they're things I'd never want to do. But I can see the good effect that nurturing those passions has on their lives, and because I love them, I'm happy to encourage them that make them happier, better, stronger - in other words, more themselves.

So, real trust. I can trust the ones I love to love me and do me good - sometimes even to their own hurt. There are people of whom I do not need to be afraid.


But, of course, even in good human relationships, there's a limit to love. We're selfish in even the best of our relationships, we can't help it. We can never fully empathize with someone else. And since you have to know well in order to love well, we can never love fully: we're not omniscient. My husband probably has a better guess about what constitutes my good than any other human being has - but it's still, at least partly, a guess. He is not all-knowing and so cannot be all-loving.

But God can. He knows us fully and loves us fully. He knows what our good is (it is Him) and is constantly working to give it to us.

And here is the marvelous thing: as Christians, the Holy Spirit dwells within us. As we commune with God in prayer, the Holy Spirit continually works in our hearts to direct them towards love and good works. As we pray for our family and friends, He shows us how to love them.

In other words, real love, full love, can be ours. It can be ours when we let God love our loved ones through us. It is not us doing the work, but Him. Will we ever see more than that "dim reflection" here? No, but the light will grow, if we walk in obedience. I'm reminded of the words Tennyson wrote in memory of a well-loved friend:

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*I'm not sure, but this phrase might have been invented by Linda Holmes back when she wrote for TWOP under the name "Miss Alli".

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chard! Chard and oranges!

I know I'm lucky to live in California, where we have fresh produce even through the winter months. So I'm not complaining. Our CSA baskets are still bountiful and overflowing. My fridge right now is stuffed with fruits and veggies that were grown within a couple hundred miles of where we live. It's great.

It is also overwhelmingly greens and citrus. Chard, kale, tatsoi, and chard. Oranges, satsumas, grapefruits and, yup, more oranges.

We have vitamin C coming out of our ears.

Anyway, in honor of my green and orange winter, I offer a recipe for my current favorite lunch:

A California Winter Stir-fry:
-4 cups (or so) chopped chard
-1 tsp. sesame oil
-2 or 3 Tbs. soy sauce
-1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce
-1 tsp. sugar
-3 egg whites
-1 egg

1) Toss the chard with sesame oil in a big pan, and start cooking the chard on high heat.
2) Add soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and sugar. Toss to coat the chard and make sure it's all well-mixed, or you'll get a bite of chili-garlic sauce that'll make your nose run.
3) When the chard is almost as cooked as you like it (I like it still just the tiniest bit crisp), add the egg whites and egg. Cook till the egg is done, continuing to stir.

You'll end up with a sort of sauce in the bottom of the pan - all the juices from the chard and some of the sauce-makings. I pour this on top of the chard when I scoop the mess into my bowl, just to flavor it a bit more. But most of this watery sauce will still end up in the bottom of the bowl when you're done. I just toss it at the end, content that I'm not getting quite all the salt from the soy sauce, and that has to be healthy, right?

And there you have it! Spicy, salty, sweet CSA goodness. Mmmm.

And if you finish all that and you're still hungry? My advice is to have an orange.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Links! Prayer, books, Doctor Who fashion, and more!

Mama Monk's post, "It Should Be Short", is an enlightening and heartening post about prayer.

I don't remember if I've linked to Supratentorial's Read Aloud posts before, but if I haven't, I should have, because her recommendations often form the bulk of our requested-books haul from the library. Here's one that focuses on non-fiction Cybil-nominated books.

momco3 (of "Learning As We Go" fame) has a new blog that's strictly reviews of YA books. It's called "If You Liked That". I especially like her review of "The Hunger Games"; I think she's right on about who would be living in the Capital.

A little late for this year, but Know Tea's post on celebrating all twelve days of Christmas is a good one to read with next year's celebration in mind - and I especially like the keen observation about Dickens' Christmas ghosts.

Simcha Fisher's post "Bene, Bene, Bene" is, like its title, full of goodness.

A great article on the question, "should I marry a man who struggles with pornography?" Moore points out that the answer doesn't depend on the presence of the temptation, it's how the temptation is met:

What you need is not a sinless man. You need a man deeply aware of his sin and of his potential for further sin. You need a man who can see just how capable he is of destroying himself and your family. And you need a man with the wisdom to, as Jesus put it, gouge out whatever is dragging him under to self-destruction.
Yep. Whatever the particular struggle, the person to marry isn't the sinless one, because, welcome to Earth, you won't find someone like that. If you're going to get married, you're going to get married to a sinner. But you want to marry a sinner who knows how to repent. And who runs from temptation and towards Jesus. (And remember that whoever marries you is picking a sinner too.)

I think I linked to Geek Chic's Start Trek fashion post, but this one about outfits inspired by Doctor Who is EVEN BETTER. Yes, yes I do want to dress like the TARDIS. Thank you.

So, what good stuff have you found around the web this week?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Yarn Harlot by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Yes, I know: awful title. But, y'know, she's Canadian. (Just kidding! I feel very fondly towards my former home!)

Despite that, Yarn Harlot: the Secret Life of a Knitter is a really fun little book. Or at least, it was exactly what I was in the mood for when I picked it up. A collection of vignettes about her obsession/hobby, Yarn Harlot is humorous, a trifle worrying, occasionally insightful and, at least, once, tear-provoking.

Pearl-McPhee is obsessed with all things knitting. She has rooms full of yarn and freaks out when she loses one of a set of tiny double-pointed needles. But the fun of the book is that she realizes she's obsessed and can laugh at herself. I think the book wouldn't be fun if you weren't in the mood to laugh too (I could see this book making me crazy on a day when I was inclined towards feeling crazy anyways), but I was in the mood to read about someone else's foibles and this fit the bill.

Plus, it's not just foibles. Pearl-McPhee also has a clear-eyed view of what is good and even, yes, noble about her hobby. There's something fundamentally good about wrapping people you love in warm garments and that come through in her writing. There's also something about handicrafting that tells the recipient of the handicrafts that he or she is valued, and that's very clear in her writing also.

Finally, there is one chapter in this book about a particular delivery she attended as a doula (during which she was knitting socks for the new baby) that was one of the most beautiful things I've read recently.
Recommended if you're interested in either handicrafts or portraits slightly-pathological-but-still-winsome.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, January 23, 2012

Daybook for January 23, 2012

outside my window . . . the sun's just come out after what was a truly satisfying morning rain storm.

I am listening to . . . "A Hymn to God the Father", sung by my alma mater's acapella group. " Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun a year or two, but wallowed in a score? When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done, for I have more."  Golly. It gets me every time.

I am wearing . . . my hand-crocheted wool vest. It's just barely cold enough for it. (We treasure our cold days here in SoCal, scarcity equaling value and all that.)

I am so grateful for . . . bananas. I stopped eating them for awhile, but I'm now renewing my appreciation of what a perfect, filling snack they are.

I'm pondering . . . Lent. See above song choice.

I am reading . . . The Elizabethan World Picture. It's all about order. (And John Donne!)

I am creating . . . many, many things. A few weeks ago my writing life sort of exploded (I'll blog about that at some point, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around these new projects). I think all this mental activity (frenzy?) explains why I'm headed back in my reading and listening to old favorites like Donne. Donne (like Sayers) always helps put my head back on straight.

I am thankful for . . . writing projects. I'm doing what I love.

around the house . . . there is much making of soup, the better to treasure our precious cold and wet weather.

from the kitchen . . . 12 bean soup tonight and split pea in the crockpot for tomorrow.

real education in our home . . . working on making evening devotions with the kids more regular. All four children are currently a bit obsessed with Moses, and we're capitalizing on that.

the church year in our home . . . thinking about Lent, mostly. Enjoying how light and airy the house feels now that all the Christmas decorations are put away.

recent milestones . . . just hit 30,000 words on the current novel!

the week ahead. . . more writing, more loving on the kids, and a visit from a relative who's coming into town from Scotland.

picture thought . . . enjoying some GORP on top of the ridge we hiked with my dad last weekend:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

For the start of the work-week

An apt poem from Gerard Manley Hopkins. See if you can spot the line that Lewis stole and put in the mouth of a character in his Chronicles. This poem has been on my mind ever since I read it last spring and realized that I'm in the middle verse now. Oh, and all poetry is best read aloud, but Hopkins especially. And this one gathers a lot of momentum towards the end.

Here 'tis:

Morning, Midday, and Evening Sacrifice

THE DAPPLED die-away
Cheek and wimpled lip,
The gold-wisp, the airy-grey
Eye, all in fellowship—
This, all this beauty blooming,
This, all this freshness fuming,
Give God while worth consuming.

Both thought and thew now bolder
And told by Nature: Tower;
Head, heart, hand, heel, and shoulder
That beat and breathe in power—
This pride of prime’s enjoyment
Take as for tool, not toy meant
And hold at Christ’s employment.

The vault and scope and schooling
And mastery in the mind,
In silk-ash kept from cooling,
And ripest under rind—
What life half lifts the latch of,
What hell stalks towards the snatch of,
Your offering, with despatch, of!

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapbook for Boethius' "The Consolation of Philosophy"

Book II
"But you are wrong if you think Fortune has changed towards you. Change is her normal behavior, her true nature." -section I

"I can say with confidence that if the things whose loss you are bemoaning were really yours, you could never have lost them." -section II

". . . you should not wear yourself out by setting your heart on living according to a law of your own in a world that is shared by everyone." -section II

"There is something in the case of each of us that escapes the notice of the man who has not experienced it, but causes horror to the man who has." -section IV

". . . he who hath much, wants much." -section V

"When you think of your future fame you think you are creating for yourself a kind of immortality. But if you think of the infinite recesses of eternity you have little cause to take pleasure in any continuation of your name." -section VI

"Good fortune deceives, but bad fortune enlightens." -section VIII

Book III
"Look up at the vault of heaven: see the strength of its foundation and the speed of its movement, and stop admiring things that are worthless." -section VIII

Book IV
"Some may perhaps think it strange that we say that wicked men, who form the majority of men, do not exist; but that is how it is. I am not trying to deny the wickedness of the wicked; what I do deny is that there existence is absolute and complete existence. Just as you might call a corpse a dead man, but couldn't simply call it a man, so I would agree that the wicked are wicked, but could not agree that they have unqualified existence. A thing exists when it keeps its proper place and preserves its own nature. Anything which departs from this ceases to exist, because its existence depends on the preservation of its nature." -section II

". . . only the wise can achieve their desire . . ." -section II

". . . the wicked cease to be what they once were. That they used to be human is shown by the human appearance of their body which still remains." -section III

"There is, indeed, great punishment then, sometimes exacted with penal severity, sometimes, I think, with purifying mercy; but it is not my intention to discuss it now." -section IV

"You are urging me to the greatest of all questions, a question that can never be exhausted. the subject is of such a kind that when one doubt has been removed, countless others spring up in its place, like the Hydra's heads. The only way to check them is with a really lively intellectual fire." - section VI

"It is because you men are in no position to contemplate this [divine] order that everything seems confused and upset." -section VI - puts us in our place! :)

"Some people are excessively afraid of suffering for which they actually have the endurance; others are full of scorn for suffering they cannot in fact bear. Both kinds [Providence] brings to self-discovery through hardship." -section VI

"All fortune is certainly good." - section VII

"Once earth has been surpassed
 It gives the stars." -section VII

Book V
"Human souls are of necessity more free when they continue in the contemplation of the mind of God and less free when they descend to bodies, and less still when they are imprisoned in earthly flesh and blood. They reach an extremity of enslavement when they give themselves up to wickedness and lose possession of their proper reason." -section II

". . . the operation of human reasoning cannot approach the immediacy of divine foreknowledge." -section IV

". . . human reason refuses to believe that divine intelligence can see the future in any other way except that in which human reason has knowledge." -section V

"Whatever lives in time . . . is in the position of not yet possessing tomorrow when it has already lost yesterday. In this life of today you do not live more fully than in that fleeting and transitory moment." -section VI

"Why, then, do you insist that all that is scanned by the sight of God becomes necessary? Men see things but this certainly doesn't make them necessary? And your seeing them doesn't impose any necessity on the things you see present, does it? . . . the divine gaze looks down on all things without disturbing their nature; to Him they are present things, but under the condition of time they are future things." -section VI

Last Line of the Book:
"A great necessity is laid upon you, if you will be honest with yourself, a great necessity to be good, since you live in the sight of a judge who sees all things." -section VI

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: "Simply Crochet", by Robyn Chachula

Simply Crochet: 22 Stylish Designs for EverydaySimply Crochet: 22 Stylish Designs for Everyday by Robyn Chachula

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I heard that a new crochet book was coming out that featured two of my favorite designers - Doris Chan and Kristen Omdahl - I didn't just get excited, I actually preordered it.

And when it arrived, "Simply Crochet" didn't disappoint. In addition to featuring 22 patterns, the majority of which fall definitively into the "pretty" and not the "tacky" category of crochet, "Simply Crochet" is intentionally structured to help you get the most out of your yarn budget.

The projects are organized by how many balls of yarn they use and throughout the book are tips from the designers about both organizing your stash of yarn and about frugally enhancing it.

Patterns from this book that particularly stood out to me:

-the Annabel Shawl by Kristen Omdahl: a striking triangle shawl made of seamlessly joined motifs.

-the Float Vest by Robyn Chachula: well-named, the Float Vest is made of a simple lace pattern and hangs easily from the shoulders

-the Spa Shawl Top by Doris Chan: it looks like a shawl with a waist - the lacy, loose sleeves are gathered together at the waist for a silhouette that's both shapely and flattering.

-the Twist Cowl/Wrap by Linda Permann: I've been wanting to try Solomon's Knot for awhile, and this cowl is a very pretty take on that stitch pattern.

There were a few patterns I know I'll never make, but the percentage of designs I didn't like was much smaller than the percentage of ones I did, and the layout and text of the book are both inviting. If you're looking for some crochet inspiration, this is a good book to get.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Movie Review: Source Code

Source Code is a bit like Die Hard crossed with Groundhog Day. In other words, it was a pleasant surprise. I queued it because, well, because I'll give most sci-fi movies a chance. What can I say? I'm a fan of the genre.

But Source Code, though it had one gaping hole that I think any sci-fi fan would scratch their head over (it's spoiler-y, so see a discussion of it below my signature, if you're interested), was a good movie, with an interesting set-up, a solid main character, and a plot that kept up both the tension and the action.

A military helicopter pilot wakes up in another man's body, and before he's even had much time to start trying to figure out his situation, the train he's a passenger on explodes and he wakes up again, this time in his own body, in some kind of a capsule/cockpit, being given instructions via a monitor from an officer he's never met. He's told his job is to find out who blew up the train, and he's sent back, again and again (hence the Groundhog Day reference) to the same eight minutes before the train's explosion, in order to try to finger the culprit.

To say much more would spoil some of the surprises, and though there's no shocking twist of the "I see dead people" variety, there are some cool plot-and-character moments that are (and here's the key) really, really well played by the actors, and it's fun to watch them happen.

The movie does include violence but no objectionable sexual content that I can recall. Recommended for viewers who like action and/or sci fi.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

SPOILER-Y OBJECTION: In the end , what happens to the consciousness of the man whose body the pilot's inhabiting? Not addressed at all. You kind of have to ignore that omission to be really satisfied with the ending.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Links! themes on purpose, the Song of Songs, and the fashion of Star Trek

Shannon Hale writes about putting motifs and themes into her novels on purpose. An excerpt:

Many times I've been somewhere to speak and the introducer has talked about one of my books, outlining the themes and giving a really lovely review of the significance and resonance of the story. This is always very flattering, since most introducers just read my bio from my website or book jacket. But then so often she or he will turn to me and say congenially, "You probably didn't even know you put all that in the story, did you?" 
But of course I did.

This reflection, posted over on First Things, about the Song of Songs is both thoughtful and beautiful. (Hmm. Do you think a reflection about the Song of Songs could possibly be good and not beautiful? I doubt it.)

From the profound to the slightly-silly-but-still-fun, a post on fashion inspired by Star Trek.

Have a good weekend, folks!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yarnalong - Juice Box Socks and Essie Summers

That there is the first of my Sunday Swing Socks - featuring a newly-turned heel - lying on top of the Christmas gift that made me tear up.

More on the socks: they're in the Juice Box colorway of Knit Picks Stroll Hand-Painted yarn, and the colors are so bright and pretty that I feel like I'm holding a little jewel box in my fingers as I work on them. They also represent the first time I've ever worked from a chart for knitted lace (the lace would be the twisty part just under the ribbed cuffs - it's simple, but it has holes on purpose, so it counts as lace).

More on the book: it's a gift from my parents and I did cry a little when I got it, because it's such a lovely gift. Essie Summers is one of my heroines and her autobiography is out-of-print and hard to come by. She was the wife of a minister who lived in New Zealand and she wrote book after glorious book set in her beautiful homeland, full of happy family life, heroines and heroes who are both kind and good, and, of course, the gorgeous Kiwi scenery and fascinating Kiwi history. I love her books. And I love that she wrote them in the midst of her life as a homemaker and a minister's wife - I've heard that she used to plot for several weeks of the time while doing mundane things like washing dishes, and then she'd just sit down a write for days at a time, getting out into type all of the story she'd been holding in her head.

And I'm finding her autobiography charming. It's chatty and flows from one subject to another. It's not meticulously plotted like her fiction, but more like a conversation with a fascinating person - one who grew up in another world, but who is such a kindred spirit that you feel that she saw and knew and cared about all the things you hope that you would have seen and known and cared about if you'd grown up in her place and she in yours.

More Yarn-along goodness can be found here, at Small Things!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Review: the Firm: Turbocharge Weight Loss

I got "The Firm: Turbocharge Weight Loss" out of my library, and I think this might be a case where having it for such a short time lessened my potential liking for the DVD, because it feels like a workout that would grow on me if I did it regularly. This seems like a workout DVD that would be nice to have sitting on your shelves for those days where you really only have time for just a twenty-minute workout - and not a workout that claims to be "only twenty minutes", Jillian*.

This DVD contains two workouts. One is strictly cardio, and the other incorporates some weights. Both move fast and certainly got my heart-rate up, though not so much as the circuit-training DVDs I usually use.

The instructors move quickly from exercise to exercise, and though this adds to the fun I'm-taking-a-gym-class feeling, it does mean that you don't really have time to get each sometimes-complicated move right before it's time to move onto the next one. However, though the moves are a bit involved (e.g., "do this with your legs. Okay, now add in the arms"), they're still simple enough that I think this difficulty would disappear the second or third time you did the DVD.

Verdict: Fun workout, would probably grow on you, moves a bit fast for something that still somehow doesn't raise my heart-rate quite as much as I like. Wouldn't be bad to have on the shelf for days when you didn't have much time. I'd probably rather just do a series of jumping jacks and burpies to fast music rather than spend the money, but if someone gave it to me, I'd keep it and use it.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*I still do love the "30 Day Shred", and use it all the time. But it is not only twenty-minutes long. Closer to thirty. And sometimes, when dinner needs to be made, thirty minutes is something I do not have.

Monday, January 9, 2012

daily devotions and the Eucharist

One of the elements of my mild case of synesthesia is that I conceptualize time differently than most people: I actually see it. I'm unable to think of it abstractly. "Time" brings up a sort of complicated picture in my head and onto that I map my days and weeks and years.

The weeks look sort of like swooping sections of wires held up by telephone poles, and telephone-pole sections are the weekends. I've seen time like that as long as I can remember knowing what time was.

When I became Anglican, it was easy to see that the highest  point of the week - high literally, in my conceptualization of time - was Sunday mass. And now when I look at my weeks, it seems that communion on Sundays is really the strong structure holding the rest of the week up - my weeks swoop down from the last Sunday and up towards the next, and the grace received at each service is enough to last me through the week and the grace I expect to receive at the next service is what draws me back up from the trough of those hard middle days.

But I'm beginning to see that what keeps me open to receiving that grace through the week is my devotions - reading the Bible and praying. It’s a sort of connection to starting the week with the Eucharist. I want that peace and strength to be the line that carries me through, and it's really beginning to seem to me that prayer and Scripture reading are the practices that keep me connected to the grace that's so easy to perceive while I'm at church.

Which makes sense, because prayer and devotional reading are a kind of worship - or the obedience that properly flows out of worship.

I know this is all sort of obvious, but it's such a good thing that I wanted to think about it a bit more through writing.

Songs too. The Psalms and hymns and praise choruses - especially the ones with lots of scripture in them - I think these remind us through the week that we are, as some pastor or other put it, "Sunday people". We're the people of the Resurrection. And we can see that most clearly when we're all gathered together worshipping on Sundays, but it is true during the week too. And prayer and Scripture and songs help us to remember.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

In 2010, I had twenty New Year's resolutions. Yes. Twenty. Really.

In 2011, I had ten. And I felt very pleased with myself for my restraint and brevity.

This year, I just have four.

Last year, my word for the year was "attend". I thought all year of Psalm 123, especially verse 2, which says:
Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.
I wanted to attend, to pay attention.  Because I learned years ago, in mountain biking, that you go towards what you look at.

At the beginning of 2012, I don't feel like I'm even close to finished with last year's lesson, but I have a new word: faithfulness.

I feel like I don't need a great new vision for my life or startling new insights into what I'm supposed to be doing. I know what I'm supposed to be doing.  This year, I just want to do it. I want to be faithful.

My verses for this year come from the first chapter of 2 Peter:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The italicized bits are the progression I want to work on this year, and the bracketing verses explain why the middle part is both good and possible.

I'm fascinated by that progression. By faith, we believe in those "great and precious promises" and what should we add to that faith? Virtue. And what does virtue lead to? Knowledge. George McDonald said that obedience was the key to understanding and I think he's right. There are so many things we don't understand until we're actually practicing them.

And to knowledge is added temperance or, in some translations, "self-control". And then patience, and then godliness and then (here's where it just makes me want to weep) brotherly kindness and to that, charity. (And the greatest of these is love.)

I remember when these verses just read like a list to me, but now they seem like a gift. They're specific, they're instructions, they're a how-to. I mean, that's not all they are: they're a description of sanctification.

But I think it's not just descriptive, I think it is - at least the first part - prescriptive. Do this.

But it is still descriptive: this is the road that the saints of God walk and this is what they gain.

And the promise at the end:  "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Now there's a promise for you. Wow. Makes me want to cry all over again. For joy at the mercy of God.

The Resolutions
So, four resolutions.  Here they are:
1) Love and obey God.
2) Love Adam.
3) Love my kids.
4) Write.

Everything else either falls under those or comes after those. E.g., housekeeping is an expression of love to my family. (And to myself, a bit, and taking care of myself would fall under all three of the first categories actually, but mostly the first, because the first resource God has given my to steward is myself.)

But these for things. I think they are the most important ones in my life right now. And really, the last three come out of the first one. And the first one feels a bit strange for a resolution, but it's really what I want most. And it should go without saying that all of these are resolutions I make in the spirit of those baptismal promises in the prayer book, i.e., "I will, with God's help." Not with my own strength, not ever.

I'll be honest and say I have a few more practical resolutions, but they're just out-growths of these four simple ones. I have a word-count that I'm aiming for each day, I have a household chore list I'm checking off.  But they're tools now, not goals.

Maybe that's the gift of last year's word "attend". Now I am attending, and now I know that what's important is first to fix my eyes on the Lord, and that the actions follow the attention. With God's help.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wow, that's so me

Adam and I were doing some reorganizing today, in the wake of Christmas, and I ended up moving some old papers - mostly stories written while I was a teenager - from one huge plastic bin to another. Of course, I couldn't just move the papers, I had to dip into them and read some of these old forgotten-yet-familiar words, and see what exactly I was thinking about half a lifetime ago. Here's what I discovered:

-boy, my stories had a lot of kissing in them. You'd think I was a teenager or something.

-man, my poetry had a lot of anxiety it in. You'd think I was a teenager or something.

-This. I present it without comment:
It's funny. Now that I'm a senior and now that I'm valedictorian and now that I've been accepted to college and now that I have definite friends and status; now that I have a thoroughly defined position, I feel like I can stop and look around me and no one will think it's odd, because they'll see all those things they think I am, and I can actually do as I please unobserved.
-Actually, I will comment on that: that's so me. Accomplishment for the sake of detachment. I . . . I really still can't quite tell if that impulse is altogether bad. It's certainly not all good.

-I used to think sixty was old.

-I had a real faith in Jesus even then.

-Seriously, my stories had a lot of kissing in them. Man, teenagers are horny. Even chaste ones. Golly, that's going to be an interesting time in parenting when we get there. Lord, have mercy. (I have reason to think He will be, praise Him.)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Links! Time, Light, and Space

Lars Walker writes about Talented People. His take on the parable of the talents is one of those brilliant things that makes you say, "well, of course! that's blindingly obvious! but I never saw it that way till now - thank you for pointing it out!"

For those of you in Southern California - my friend, Emily Moothart, is a doula who has a passion for helping women have great births. If you're in the market for a doula or know someone who is, check her out!

John Scalzi looks forward to the year 2012 in science fiction movies. I took three things away from this article:
   1. I didn't know "Old Man's War" had been optioned for a movie. Cool!
   2. Scalzi has much higher hopes than I do for "John Carter" (of Mars). I saw the preview in theater and snickered through the whole thing. Taylor Kitsch, get back into your football jersey!
   3. There are a fair amount of sci-fi movies coming out next year. Yay!

It's almost Epiphany, and the way to celebrate it is with light and space. This is just so beautiful. And appealing.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, January 2, 2012

finished object: the Starry Scarf

This project was fiddly beyond belief: the laceweight always seemed to want to jump out of my hands and despite the join-as-you-go technique, there were way too many ends to weave in.

But now that I'm done, I'm pleased with the result:

It's light as a whisper, but since the yarn is 100% alpaca, it's still very warm.

Would I make this pattern again? No, probably not. But am I pleased I made it once? Absolutely.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Books Read in 2011

In 2010, I pushed myself to finish almost every book I started, so that I could list it as "read". This past year, I decided that was silly, and I put down a lot of books that just didn't hook me, and as a result, 2011's list is shorter than 2010's.

But it was a good year of reading. There are a few books on here that I read before I figured out that I should just put them down, so I'm not championing everything on this list, but most of them were pretty good. There's so much treasure out there!

Highlights include a few new books by favorite authors which reminded me of just why they're favorite authors - specifically the books by Elizabeth Moon, Lee & Miller, and Bujold. I discovered some new authors, and I also had the pleasure of reading a book by a friend (Cynthia Ruchti's "They Almost Always Come Home", which was the sort that shocked me when I'd set it down, because I'd discover that I'd read about a hundred pages at a gulp - she's just that smooth).

I revisited old friends, like Dorothy Sayers' "Are Women Human?" and Essie Summers' "My Lady of the Fuschias".

Dallas Willard, Lars Walker, and Tennyson also stand out as highlights. Rowling and Lewis too, of course.  Really, there's just so much good stuff out there.

So, here's the list of books I completed in 2011 (full disclosure, I count audiobooks in my list, if I really listened to the whole thing):

 1) Lewis, C. S. That Hideous Strength
2) Ugel, Edward. I'm With Fatty: Losing Fifty Pounds in Fifty Miserable Weeks
3) Martini, Adrienne. Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously
4) Lee, Patrick. The Breach
5) Sass, Cynthia. Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches
6) Campbell, Diana. The Reluctant Cyprian
7) Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
8) Brooks, Caroline. Marchman’s Lady
9) Fallon, Siobhan. You Know When the Men Are Gone
10) Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
11) Sayers, Dorothy. Gaudy Night
12) Bujold, Lois McMaster. Cryoburn
13) Kang, Joshua Choonmin. Scripture by Heart: Devotional Practices for Memorizing God’s Word
14) Brown, Harriet.  Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia
15) Moon, Elizabeth. Oath of Fealty
16) Oliver, Lauren. Delirium
17) Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
18) Kunzman, Robert. Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling
19) Moon, Elizabeth. Kings of the North
20) Sanderson, Brandon. The Way of Kings
21) McCafferty, Megan. Bumped
22) Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie. Yarn Harlot
23) Summers, Essie. My Lady of the Fuchsias
24) Summers, Essie. Daughter of the Misty Gorges
25) Eastin, Staci. The Organized Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos
26) Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve. Saltation.
27)  Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve. Mouse & Dragon.
28) King, Stephen. On Writing.
29) Hale, Shannon. The Actor and the Housewife.
30) Willard, Dallas. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.
31) Grant, Mira. Feed.
32) Briggs, Patricia. Moon Called.
33) McGuire, Seanan. Rosemary and Rue: an October Day Novel.
34) Walker, Lars. The Year of the Warrior.
35) Creasy, Sara. Song of Scarabaeus.
36) Wainger, Leslie. Writing a Romance Novel For Dummies
37) Grant, Mira. Deadline.
38) Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
39) Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve. Ghost Ship.
40) McGuire, Seanan. A Local Habitation.
41) McGuire, Seanan. An Artificial Night.
42) Ruchti, Cynthia. They Almost Always Come Home.
43) Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
44) Heyer, Georgette. False Colours.
45) Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie. Free-Range Knitter.
46) Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. In Memoriam.
47) Kelly, Carla. The Lady’s Companion.
48) Bujold, Lois McMaster. The Curse of Chalion.
49) Vaughn, Carrie. After the Golden Age.
50) Scalzi, John. Old Man’s War.
51) Thane, Elswyth. Letter to a Stranger.
52) Kennedy, Diane. The ADHD-Autism Connection: A Step Toward More Accurate Diagnoses and Effective Treatments
53) Sayers, Dorothy. Are Women Human?
54) Bujold, Lois McMaster. Paladin of Souls.
55) Lukeman, Noah. A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation.
56) Walker, Lars. West Oversea.
57) Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
58) Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie. Knitting Rules! The Yarn Harlot Unravels the Mysteries of Swatching, Stashing, Ribbing & Rolling to Free Your Inner Knitter.

Here's to another year of good reading!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

12 12s in 2012

I'm participating in a crafting challenge this year called "12 12s in 2012". (For those interested, it's hosted on Ravelry in the group "Stash Knitdown".)

The idea is that you make a list of twelve kinds of things that you're going to make twelve of this year.

Here are my 12 12’s:
12 items made from patterns I already have
12 items made for me
12 items made for others
12 items made from yarns in my stash
12 socks (6 pairs)
12 knitted items
12 crocheted items
12 new-to-me-techniques
12 household items made (dishcloths, table runners, etc.)
12 scrappy projects
Look at 12 new craft books (probably from the library!)
12 Christmas gifts made and ready BEFORE December of 2012!

Now, if you look at the list, you'll see that it doesn't necessarily commit me to making 144 objects! (Good thing, because I only made about 50 last year.) A lot of those categories can overlap. For example, if I make a pair of socks for myself using a new technique, that'll count under "12 items made for me", "12 knitted items", "12 socks", "12 new-to-me techniques", and possibly also "12 items made from patterns I already have" and "12 items made from yarns in my stash."

Nonetheless, it's a fun challenge and I'm looking forward to seeing how exactly I decide to fill out all of those categories!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell