Thursday, October 31, 2013

7 Quick Takes - All Saints' Day edition!

1. It's All Saints' Day! I love my friend Susanne's honest, happy take on being a part of the family of God - this family full of saints.

2. Last night, we took the kids to a local safe trick-or-treating event - one that's just about the costumes and candy and none of the more worrisome parts of Halloween - and my husband and I decided to dress up, too. We went as Tonks and Lupin:

3. This lovely fall weather has me trying new recipes, and I found another good one this week: Italian Sausage and Potato Bake. It fits my four requirements for repeatable recipes: easy, healthy, frugal, and delicious.

4. I tweaked it a bit when I made it; I didn't have peppers, so I put in a bunch of fresh green beans. It still turned out splendidly. So I guess it fits a fifth requirement: it's versatile.

5. Another kitchen discovery: when I make the kids homemade pudding for an afternoon snack, I end up with a bunch of egg whites that I used to make veggie scrambles for me. Dual-purpose kitchen prep: score!

6. I'm starting my serious Christmas shopping, because I hate getting to the end of Advent and scrambling. Or at least my serious window-shopping . . . has anyone found any excellent deals or ideas or websites for their gift-giving this year? I'd love some tips!

7. And, of course, Let Us Keep the Feast: Advent & Christmas releases today! I'm so excited! This book is chock-full of great ideas for celebrating the church year with your family. The authors did such an amazing job - I really hope you all like it and find Michelle and Rachel's words as encouraging and useful as I did!

More quick takes can be found here, at Conversion Diary.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Yarnalong: "Facing East" and some Christmas knitting

This week I'm participating in Ginny's "yarnalong" - a celebration of books and knitting!

What I'm reading: "Facing East" by Frederica Mathewes-Green.

This is an old favorite. It's also one of the books that first helped me really understand the concept of the liturgical year, because this book is a (true) story about a year in the life of a young "mission" church, or, as I would say, a church plant. And the chapters are divided by the seasons of the church year.

It's lovely and lyrical. I'm enjoying sinking into Mathewes-Green's words again.

What I'm knitting: stocking stuffers for my girls. In this case: doll dresses for their American Girl dolls. I'm also working on a sweater for my son's favorite teddy bear, but I didn't manage to get a picture of that one yet. :)

I'm using this free pattern (Ravelry link) for the doll dresses, if anyone's interested. They work up quickly, though there are a LOT of ends to weave in when you're done, even if you don't do stripes!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

what does the catechism say?

Writing  my review of "Rooted" last week piqued my curiosity; my main disagreements with the authors (who I mostly agreed with whole-heartedly and enthusiastically) were about the phrases of the Apostles' Creed "he descended to the dead" and "the communion of the saints". I was curious to know if my objections were actually rooted in my own church's theology, or if I was actually holding some vague, partly-remembered-partly-made-up beliefs that I really needed to revamp.

So I did what any good Anglican would do: I cracked open my BCP. :D

I was happy to find that I wasn't far off. Here's what the Book of Common Prayer (in the Catechism) has to say:
"What do we mean when we say that he descended to the dead?"
"We mean that he went to the departed and offered them also the benefits of redemption."
"What is the communion of the saints?"
"The communion of the saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise."
(Of course - and this is for you, Grandma - when it comes to "Invocation of the Saints", the 39 Articles says it is
". . . a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrenty of Scripture".  :D )
All this, of course, is not to dump on anyone else's tradition. I just want to make sure that I know my own really well. Because if I say I believe it, I ought to really believe it, and I can't do that unless I know it!

I'm curious: if you're Anglican, do you find yourself going to the BCP when you're pondering over theological puzzles? And if you're not Anglican, where do you turn to see what your church believes? (other than the Bible, of course! That first, I imagine, for all of us.)

Peace of Christ to you,

Monday, October 28, 2013

Knitted FO's and WIP's

I finally got a better shot of my second Color Affection - and it's finally turning chilly enough to use it!
And I'm up to 200 hexipuffs on my Beekeeper's Quilt:
I love how the rainbow scheme is finally starting to really show! (I just might be addicted to knitting socks in order to have the scraps to make hexipuffs out of.)

And speaking of socks, I finished another pair:
Nothing like handknit, squooshy socks for the winter.

And in even more basic knitting, I whipped up a bunch of new dishcloths to replace the ones that were getting warm and hole-y (but not holy):

What are you creating these days?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. I'm always looking for new breakfast ideas - esp. ones I can prepare the day (or week) before, and I found two new recipes that were a hit with the kids:

-"Welcome Home" Chocolate Chip Muffins, and
-Pecan and Chocolate Breakfast Cookies.

Both of these can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. With a big cup of milk, they make a fairly decent breakfast (though with nuts and oats, the cookies are definitely the heartier choice).

2. Despite these successful recipes, one of my children, Anna, wasn't entirely happy. Why? Because she doesn't like the chocolate chips. Go figure.

3. The next kitchen experiment I want to try is this one. Though I doubt I can get away with calling it breakfast. At least something with "muffin" in the title sounds healthy. There's nothing about "Gooey Cinnamon Cake" that sounds the least bit sensible and nutritious.

4. Speaking of healthy - though this time for the heart and mind, not the body - we've been listening to these cds in the van for a few weeks now, and I'm really pleased with them. I think the ones we have are "Seeds of Faith" and "Seeds of Courage". But, anyway, they're just Bible verses set to music. Music that the kids love and that I can tolerate.

And just by listening to them on the way to and from school, all four children are memorizing a lot of Scripture. Totally worth it.

5. I liked this article about why historians should write historical fiction, especially this part:
That realisation led to another – that this is what good historical novelists do. Often without realising it, they will choose a historical period to bring out some aspect of human nature. In my case, I had chosen to set my fiction in the sixteenth century because I wanted to write about loyalty and betrayal. Loyalty to one’s spouse, to the state and to one’s faith have huge resonance in a sixteenth century context, much more so than in today’s easy going world. I used the historical setting of the 1560s to amplify what I wanted to say about people.

6. My dog thinks wikkisticks are yummy. My dog is weird. What's the weirdest thing you've seen your pets eat?

7. I'm planning to interview the authors of "Let Us Keep the Feast" here on the blog, and first up are Rachel Telander, author of the Advent section, and Michelle Bychek, author of the Christmas section. What do you think I should ask them? What do you want to know about the seasons, about their writing process, and just about them? Leave it in the comments!

More Quick Takes here!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Notes: "Rooted: the Apostles' Creed", by Raymond F. Cannata & Joshua D. Reitano

Rooted: the Apostles CreedRooted: the Apostles Creed by Raymond F. Cannata
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Rooted”, by Raymond F. Cannata and Joshua D. Reitano is, to begin with, a great idea for a book. Going through the Apostle’s Creed, line by line, with a hope of reminding Christians of the basics of their faith, the great and glorious truths we all hold to, the beliefs we have in common, the grace and love of God that has saved us all? A great idea for a book. I was excited just hearing about it.

And as for execution? With a very few exceptions, I think they nailed it.

Let me share with you a passage I loved – a passage that’s really the heart of the book, in my opinion. And it’s why I liked the book so much: there is something heartening, strengthening, worldview-correcting about being taken back through the basics of your own faith by such clear, compassionate teachers. I read so much every day about the world, on news sites, on blogs, on Facebook. I need my vision corrected; I need to be reminded of what is really real, really solid, really foundational. And this book does so, winsomely and intelligently. Here’s the passage that sums it up:
That is how you get into the world to come — by being thirsty, by asking God for something you cannot pay for. This is the gospel. If you get nothing else from this book, you must learn this. Salvation comes not by being moral, or right, or pure. In fact, the Bible says none of these things are true of any of us anyway. Rather, we get in on the life everlasting by recognizing we’re not moral, we’re not right, we’re not pure. We get in to the Kingdom of heaven because we are thirsty: for forgiveness, for mercy, for God’s grace. We get in by recognizing that we are in need of a Savior. And by placing our faith in Jesus Christ, we drink the "spring of water of life without payment."
Isn’t that beautiful? I could stand to be reminded of that every day, every hour.

There are other real bright points, too. I loved the chapter on judgment. I loved their description of how Americans might suffer for Christ; it’s one of the more realistic depictions I’ve ever seen, which was refreshing. I loved the spots of humor, like this one:
But there are dangers on the other side, too. Many Christians (and churches) rarely mention the Holy Spirit. There’s an old joke about the Trinity deciding on vacation plans for Spring Break. The Father decides he’d like to go the mountains, since they reflect his majesty and power. The Son desires to go back to his old stomping grounds in Palestine. The Spirit decides to go to a Presbyterian church, because he wanted to go someplace he’d never been before. We tease (as Presbyterian pastors ourselves), but the point is, there are Christians of all denominations who simply don’t know what to do with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. We know he is in the Bible, and we say we believe in him, but we have no real framework for how he works in our life. And so our functional trinity — the trinity in which we actually believe — is the Father, Son, and the Holy Bible.
In keeping with that funny bit of self-deprecation, the authors seem to have a good handle on how to regard Christians who differ from them (a necessity for writing this particular book):
This is one reason why the Apostles’ Creed is so important. It outlines for us the core doctrines of Christianity. Those who fall inside it can still have differences and even fight from time to time, but they can fight like brothers.
My three brothers and I(Josh) fought a lot growing up. But the way I fought with my brothers is completely different than the way I’d fight with someone breaking into my house. We all need to understand the difference.
I think that’s right on. And in that spirit (I hope!), I come to the (few) parts of the book where I had disagreements.

Particularly, I took issue with the way they skipped a bit over “the communion of the saints”. Even though I’m Protestant enough that I don’t believe in prayer to the saints, and even though I loved their chapter on the forgiveness of sins, which includes a great treatment of how to approach the communion table, I don’t think that’s exactly what “the communion of the saints” means in the Creed. A more traditional understanding, I think, includes how we are bound together, in Christ, with those who have gone before us. I don’t expect a Roman Catholic or Orthodox or even Anglican view of this from the authors, but I wish they had at least addressed the difference between their interpretation of “the communion of the saints” and the interpretation of other churches.

I also took issue (along similar lines) with their interpretation of “descended to the dead” – what about “preaching to the spirits in prison”? Anyway, theirs was a fair argument, I just disagreed. Finally, their mention of depression in the chapter “crucified, died, buried” seemed a bit off to me – I’m not sure mental illness should be lightly brought up, as if correct theology can cure it.

But these are the sort of disagreements that I have the feeling these authors would welcome – disagreements within the family, as they say. As a whole, I found this book so encouraging. These men clearly have a gift for putting the hope and splendor of the gospel into words, and I’m grateful they put those words into a book, so that I could read them. Recommended.

This book was a review copy sent by the publisher — common practice in the industry. No payment was accepted in exchange for a review or mention, and the reviewer was in no way obligated to review the book favorably.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Notes: "Sewing Church Linens", by Elizabeth Morgan

Sewing Church Linens, Revised Edition: Convent Hemming and Simple EmbroiderySewing Church Linens, Revised Edition: Convent Hemming and Simple Embroidery by Elizabeth Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This simple little book was a gift to me from my mother-in-law, and as head of our church's Altar Guild, I found it a rewarding read.

Even though I'm not yet convinced that I want to sew church linens, the sections of this book on the care of church linens made it more than worth the read.

I also loved Morgan's dry sense of humor, evident in passages like this one on embroidering credence cloths:

"When planning the embroidery, consider the nature of the vessels to be placed and the youth of the acolytes. If you have any question as to the tippiness of either, best to center the embroidery above the end hems."

Love it!

In all seriousness, though, her instructions on laundering and folding all the various linens, along with great explanations as to the history, meaning, and use of them all, make this a valuable book that I'm very glad I read. Recommended to anyone involved in the Altar Guild at their church!

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 3, 2013

7 Quick Takes

1. A few weeks after reading Andrew Yee's "Spiritual Disciplines for Busy People", I'm finding what's stuck with me the most is his suggestion to take your internal dialogue, and address it to God.

In other words, instead of just thinking, "Aw, crap, I can't believe I just did that," you pray, "Aw, crap, Father, I can't believe I just did that."

. . . I know that's a pretty unedifying example (and it's mine, not Yee's!), but that's kind of the point. God hears all my thoughts anyway, and addressing them to Him . . . well, I don't want to say it changes my perspective, because that's not quite it. But it's me inviting Him in. And I'm finding He's accepts my invitation.

And that does change everything.

2. When I was a teenager, driving around in an old, beat-up Honda Civic and flipping channels, I imagined how cool it would be to have my own radio station, that only played music that I liked. I imagined that every time a song came on, I could say yea or nay, and it would be forever banned or forever on the playlist.

Mp3 players and iTunes? They're seriously my adolescent dream come true. I can still hardly believe it.

3. I still wish the radio thing had happened though. I like the idea of instantly & permanently zapping some songs off the airwaves.

4. My new favorite culinary discovery is smoked paprika. Have you guys tried this? It's awesome! It adds that smoky, camp-fire-y taste to just about anything. It's great on egg-y dishes like chiliquiles and in soups, like southwestern corn chowder. Yum, yum, yum.

5. Sister to that discovery is my newfound love for cumin. I mean, I've used it for forever, but I've never really appreciated it before. But now I'm finding it adds a real depth to dishes. Love it in stuff like carne asada and chilled salads.

6. I love, love, love this article by Carolyn Thomas on taking the Eucharist with children. Here's an excerpt:
Perhaps it’s the boy kneeling next to you, who takes a big gulp of wine, swallows, and then grabs his throat in pain. Maybe you lean over and whisper, “Are you okay?” and he whispers back, “That drink always hurts the inside of my neck!” And suddenly you remember the first time you ever took the Eucharist with real wine, on your knees, in a stone church on a cold, grey morning, and the wine stung your mouth, burned down your throat, warmed your body–and made you think of blood: hot and red and alive.
7. And I don't love this next link, but I found it pretty interesting: an interview with a female astronaut who really loves her job. From her description, I think her love is entirely justified:
Were you sometimes too busy living in space to really reflect on where you were?
I would say it’s not something I’m very good at even when I’m here on the ground, which is to make some kind of empty philosophical space where I just think and be and live. We work between 12- and 18-hour days up there, and even when you’re done you’re thinking about the next day. But when you look out the window and see the view, it’s so addictive and alluring and irresistible. Often at the end of the day I would go up to the cupola [panoramic window] and play my flute and look out.
Can you even imagine?

Anyway, more quick takes can be found over here, at Conversion Diary. Have a great weekend, folks!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Knitted FO's, and listening to the Bible

A few projects I've finished lately . . .
Have I mentioned that knitting while listening to scripture is pretty much my favorite thing ever? If I have a quiet hour, any time of the week, that's the most relaxing way to use it that I can think of. (Short of actually taking a nap.) Something about the rhythm of the knitting, and the beauty and meaning of the words . . . they just go together so well. The knitting calms my body so that my heart and mind can listen.

I think this bunch of objects is a testimony to how much I love knitting-and: knitting-and-scripture, knitting-and-TV, knitting-and-podcasts . . . knitting-and-waiting-for-the-kids . . . and on and on.

But knitting and listening to scripture? that's the best.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

p.s. I highly recommend Alexander Scourby's reading of the KJV; he so clearly understands the meaning of what he's reading, and that helps me grasp the meaning better as I listen. Plus, he has a great voice.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Daybook: October 1, 2013

outside my window . . . it's a lovely, lovely day. Clear and crisp and about 70 degrees or so. Great day for a walk.

 picture thought . . . speaking of walking . . . we adopted a dog. Here's my lovely Callie-girl, the wonderdog:

She's mostly Border Collie, and even though she looks a bit shy in that picture, she's actually incredibly bouncy, smart, and good with the kids. She was fostered by one of the shelter employees when she was young, and so she comes to us pretty well-trained and very housebroken. And we've found her very easy to teach. I am LOVING having a dog.

Our cat, on the other hand, still hasn't forgiven us.

 I am listening to . . . Grey Havens, some more. And they have a Kickstarter! for a full album! I liked their last, mini-album so much that this has become the first Kickstarter I've ever contributed to.

 I am wearing . . . still in shorts and a tank top. This is the time of year when all of us Angelenos are repaid for suffering through the sweltering summer months. We do have the most lovely autumn weather.

 I am reading . . . just picked up Robin McKinley's new book, Shadows. I've heard good things about it, so I'm excited.

 from the kitchen . . . planning on using the last of the summer tomatoes and basil to make Pasta Margherita. Sniff! I'll miss you, summer food!

 the church year in our home . . . it feels like all my celebration of the church year this year has been wrapped around my new job as head of our church's Altar Guild. It's still the first year of our church plant, and so everything's still new, but it'll be really interesting to see how our celebration of the church year changes next year, as the routines at the church plant become more familiar.

But right now? I'm celebrating the church year by researching prices for seasonal altar hangings. :)

pondering . . . Elena's beautiful sonnet about Rachel mourning her children.

creating . . . a book, a book, a book!  :D Let Us Keep the Feast: Advent and Christmas" is now available for pre-order. It releases a month from today, so if you order it now, you'll have your copy well in time for the start of Advent. Check it out!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell