Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week is EXACTLY for the faint of heart

So, over at At a Hen's Pace, I saw a post titled, "Does Holy Week Prep Count as a Lenten Discipline?" and my immediate reaction was, "I sure hope so!"

It feels like that's all I'm doing lately! Palm crosses, and will the Paschal candle get here in time? Linens and does anyone actually know where we're setting up the thurible stand? Do we have enough wine for four masses in one week and how can we best help the children navigate all these long, challenging, amazing services when mostly they're just going to be so very, very tired?

Yeah. And then I saw Anne Kennedy's post titled, "a week to think about Jesus and get really really tired" and I thought, Yeah. That.

So. I'm not sure I'm going to be blogging for the rest of this week - and I might take Bright Week off, too. Right now, it feels pretty important to direct all my energy towards family and home: both my family and my home, and my church family, our other home.

But I'm so grateful for all of you wonderful people I've met through this blog, and I'm looking forward to seeing you again on the other side of this long, wonderful celebration. So let me wish you all the best of Holy Weeks. God grant all of us grace to meet Him in the middle of our long days, in our tiredness, in our worry, in our sin, remembering always that He took all of that guilt and grief and iniquity upon Himself, so that we no longer have to bear it.

A blessed Holy Week to you, friends.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Daybook for March 19, 2013

outside my window . . . it's a lovely day in the 70's. There are times when living in L.A. is not so bad.

I am listening to . . . "Safe and Sound", because Lucy thinks it's perfect "falling asleep" music and pretending to nap is apparently very fun when you're a great big five-year-old girl.

I am so grateful for . . . good friends visiting tonight!

I'm pondering . . . what to do with the delivery of palms that just showed up at my house. They're for church, for Palm Sunday, but they showed up here because I'm head of the Altar Guild, and so I ordered them. But they are TOO BIG to fit in my fridge. Not quite sure what to do . . .

I am reading . . . the "Cold Sheep" thread on Ravelry. Very inspiring. Makes me want to knit ALL THE THINGS.

I am creating . . . socks for me, kilt hose for Adam, and a dress that was supposed to be for a friend's new baby but might end up being for my girls because I (like an idiot), did check my gauge . . . I'll consider it a trial run for the baby, shall I? :)

Oh. And books.

I am thankful for . . . books and the chance to revise them.

around the house . . . there are many, many, many Legos. Gamgee just had a birthday and his grandparents and aunts and uncles just know him so well.

from the kitchen . . . we had our corned beef, for St. Patty's, last night and it was YUMMY. By some miracle, we had a bit left over (that never happens) and so I'm thinking of dicing it up and sticking it in scalloped potatoes for tomorrow's dinner.

real education in our home . . . enjoying watching Bess learn to play the piano. She's starting to play with adding chords to melodies, even when she's not supposed to be practicing - just for the fun of it. Lovely.

the church year in our home . . . well, aside from the aforementioned giant pack'o'palms, all six of us went to an Irish dance, held in honor of St. Patrick, at a local church this weekend. It was SO MUCH FUN. All of us filling their huge gym, spinning round in circles, kids joining in and getting underfoot (and getting tired and sitting around the edges of the room munching cookies) . . . I could do that every night for a month and not get tired of it.

Also thinking about St. Joseph, whose feast day is today (IIRC), and feeling very thankful for my husband and for my father, the two best dads I know.

How's your day going?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, March 15, 2013

Links: Holy Week and Vikings!

"Holy Week Idea":
My dear friend Jerusha passed along this great idea to mark Holy Week. But you have to prepare early, so I’m sharing it now.
Their family used no electric lights during Holy Week last year. For morning and evening light, they used only candles. I loved this idea, but had no candles in the house last year . . .
"History Channel Gets Vikings Precisely Wrong":
Every story has to be about some dynamic young person (who wants freedom) in conflict with a hidebound old conservative, who lives by oppression.
The problem — and this is serious in a series coming from a network that calls itself the History Channel — is that this is precisely the opposite of the political dynamic that was actually playing out in the Viking Age.

And I had that link above, written by Lars Walker, already copied onto this post when I read the news that his new novel is out! So excited - his Viking novels are awesome: history, fantasy, and Christianity all rolled into one adventuresome, orthodox bundle. Here's a link to the latest, Hailstone Mountain, and here's a review. Looking forward to reading it!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, March 8, 2013

a Celtic Collect for Lent

This has been the collect all week assigned in the St. James Devotional, and I'm finding that now, halfway through Lent, I am almost able to pray it and mean it:
Grant, we beseech Thee, loving Father, that we who are disciplined by the Lenten fast may find our worldly desires weakened, and our desire for heaven rendered more fervent. This we seek of Thy mercy in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who with Thee and Thy Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Very grateful for a devotional like this, that constantly prods my reluctant self into saying good words to God, and asking for the things my sinful self wishes I wouldn't, and being encouraged in ways my doubting self would never manage on her own. Collects like this redirect me. I think they're proof - a small bit of proof out of a great, great body of proof - of the truth that the church really is Christ's body. The saints write prayers like this down so that other Christians can be taught and encouraged and it works.

We aren't left alone. Even though we are to love God with every single piece of our selves, he doesn't leave us to love alone - we're never alone. And his great generosity shows in the fact that not only are we never alone because he is with us, we're also never alone because he's also given us this great communion of saints - this huge, geography-and-time-spanning family - who show us by word and example how to love him. And remind us that he really does love us.

So grateful. I'm so tired today, and so tempted to be discouraged, but then I read a collect like this, and pray it, and think about the unknown saint who wrote it, and the fact that God knew that I would read it however many years later - that he planned that, and who knows how many other not-coincidences! how many other people have been heartened by this! and this is just one short, lonely paragraph out of millions and millions and millions of words penned by the saints! - and I'm filled with hope, and I'm reassured, and I'm grateful.

So, Amen. Amen: may our desire for heaven be rendered even more fervent. Amen, and amen.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Links: mostly about fiction (Bujold, Scalzi, and Once Upon a Time!)

Loved this interview with Lois McMaster Bujold from Lightspeed Magazine about Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, especially this part:
I’ve actually done Ivan’s POV before . . . A lot of people who’ve been following him through the series as a secondary character who keeps popping up were convinced that he had hidden depths, but I keep saying, “No, no, Ivan has hidden shallows, and let me show them to you.” 
(To remind you: Bujold is very cool.)

For fellow fiction writers out there, you might want to be aware of the boilerplate contracts from Alibi and Hydra. John Scalzi writes:
D'ya think he thinks it's a bad idea? Heh. Lots more (scarily enthralling) details at the above-linked posts.

-I've gotten geeky about Once Upon a Time before, but nowhere near as well as awesomely as Cindy McLennan does in this TWOP recap of the episode "Manhattan":
In the cosmology of Once Upon A Time, True Love serves as the deity -- a.k.a., the most powerful magic of all. Certain things are fated to happen, but that doesn't mean the characters are puppets. It is up to them whether they will work for Team Love or Team Evil. When people say hate is the opposite of love, they're often corrected by those who believe that hatred is passion gone wrong, and that indifference is love's true opposite. I hate to get in the middle of all that, so let's look at it a little differently: If True Love (emphasis on true is intentional and doesn't have to mean romantic love) is the ultimate good, then its opposite is Evil.
Basically, she starts by giving out that her bias is a Judeo-Christian worldview, and then argues that the show Once Upon a Time has its own theology. Which, I think, is right on, because a lot of the point of fantasy, as a genre, is to make little theologies. Fake ones, yes, but authors (screenwriters, etc.) use those little, pretend theologies, to try to figure out something about the real world.

Or to tell really good stories.

Or, well, both.

And I'm stopping there before this becomes a very, very long post about why fiction works the way it does and why it can do a million different things at once, and why it's awesome. No reason to fly all my geek flags at once. :)

Anyway, I'm not advocating McLennan's worldview wholesale, or anything like that, but I think her post is the smartest thing I've read so far about a show I enjoy very, very much indeed.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, March 4, 2013

Couch-to-5K (C25K), a beginner's review

Very beginning, because I only just finished Week 4, and it's a 9 week program.

But I mentioned about a month ago that I was giving C25K a try, and promised I'd write about it more, and since I'm still at it now (how'd that happen?), I figured now I can talk about it without feeling like a total fake.

The first half of the program
You can see the whole program here (scroll down), and you can see that it's really simple. That's what attracted me to it: it's simple, and it's slow.

I've wanted to get into running for a while now, but I wanted to get into it with injuring myself. Like many women, I have the odd ache and pain from old injuries. (The fun one is the ankle that complains when I swim. Why is that fun? Because it has a good story: I injured it when I missed the mat on a pole vault. And I just have to say: I do not recommend missing the mat as a desirable pole-vaulting technique.) I also have a knee that complains when I run, and when I've tried to "just go out for a run" in the past, I've re-injured that knee.

C25K? I haven't re-injured the knee yet. It still hurts when I run, but it's not getting any worse. Actually, at this point, it feels like it's getting just a tad better. Or, at least, stronger.

The second half of the program
But now I'm staring down Week 5, and I admit that I'm a little nervous. By the end of next week, I'm supposed to be running 20 minutes without stopping. And running 30 minutes without stopping is the goal, right? so I should be happy to be getting so close.

But running is still hard. Each workout still feels like it takes me right to the edge of my I-can-do-this space. Could I go out and jog 20 minutes? Sure. But I want to run.

But I'm gonna trust the process. I've been able to do every workout so far, even if not quite as fast as I'd like to. I've been able to do it, and if I don't like how I feel during (and boy, I surely don't, I miss the feeling of having enough oxygen in my lungs), I really like how I feel after. I'm finding it's almost impossible to feel stressed while I'm running.

For that alone, the burning in my lungs and my legs is well worth it.

Anyone else out there a C25K-er?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell