Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekly Links: Catechesis, Faith, and more!

Some good reading for your weekend:

"Getting Catechesis Back On Track":
Gregory’s point in those days was this: that doctrinal battles are not fought in councils, but in the hearts and minds of ordinary people, as the Church seeks to catechize and form those hearts and minds in the Faith once delivered . . . he and his confreres, the Cappadocians, took great efforts to win hearts and minds with persuasive and attractive teaching on Holy Scripture and especially the teaching it contains on creation, the person of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. This is what won the day.
"Believe You Have Received it and it Will Be Yours?"
To ask for something in Jesus’ name is not merely to append the name Jesus to your prayers. It is to pray according to Jesus’ character, purpose, and will . . .
"Why Islam Is More Violent Than Christianity: An Atheist's Guide":
As an atheist, I have no god in this fight, so to speak. I don’t think the differences between religions make one more valid than another. But as the Charlie Hedbo attack reminds us, there is a big practical difference between them. In fact, the best argument against the equivalence of Christianity and Islam is that no one acts even remotely as if this were true. We feel free to criticize and offend Christians without a second thought—thanks, guys, for being so cool about that—but antagonizing Muslims takes courage. More courage than a lot of secular types in the West can usually muster.

"When Bread Bags Weren't Funny":
There's a scene in one of the books where Laura is excited to get her own tin cup for Christmas, because she previously had to share with her sister. Think about that. No, go into your kitchen and look at your dishes. Then imagine if you had three kids, four plates and three cups, because buying another cup was simply beyond your household budget -- because a single cup for your kid to drink out of represented not a few hours of work, but a substantial fraction of your annual earnings, the kind of money you really had to think hard before spending. Then imagine how your five-year-old would feel if they got an orange and a Corelle place setting for Christmas.

And finally, just for the fun of it, a snippet of David Tennant as Benedick:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

In Time of Need

Hebrews 4:15 says: 
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
It’s a very familiar verse. But in my reading this week, I was struck by the verse after it, which says:
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
You’ve got to watch out for those therefores.

But what a heartening verse! To receive mercy and to find grace.  And not only that, but to receive and find them in time of need.

So now, every time I hear about Jesus being a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses (yet was without sin), I will try to remind my very sinful self (me = weak & very much with-sin), that what Jesus being able to sympathize means is that I ought to DRAW NEAR. And to ASK FOR HELP.

Because He knows who I am. And because of who He is, asking for help will not be in vain.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yarnalong: Rocio Cardigan and "Mudhouse Sabbath"

I'm linking up with Ginny, over at Small Things, who says, "Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading . . . I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?"

The knitting: I'm still knitting the Rocio Cardigan, and I've made a lot of progress. I finished the lace panel and now I'm knitting the body. 
The book: I'm reading "Mudhouse Sabbath", by Lauren Winner. It's really interesting: she discusses Jewish traditions and spiritual practices in the light of her conversion to Christianity. I especially appreciate the way she describes the Jewish traditions regarding mourning, and how they have an understanding of the time grief takes and the way the person mourning needs to be in community. I feel like I'm learning a lot - and having a pleasant time at it, too, because Winner has such light, easy prose.

What are you reading and making?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

new books!

One of the best parts of my new job is this:

Getting new books in the mail!

It's a nice little mix of books from Doulos Resources, our parent publisher, and Kalos Press, the imprint I work on.

The first one is "God in the Sink: Essays from Toad Hall", by Margie Haack.  This was the first title I got to work on when I joined Kalos last fall, and it was almost ready to go to print when I first saw it.  Margie's a lovely writer, and it was a joy to have such a good book be my introduction to the job of a general editor!

Margie's one of those writers who can write about ordinary life and you see the beauty shining through it. She's also got a disarming candor that draws you in and makes you feel like you're no longer alone, but in good company. She's also been in ministry for so many years, that she has some un-ordinary stories, too!

The second one is "Naked and Unashamed: Exploring the Way the Good News of Jesus Transforms Intimacy", by Rob Toornstra.  I've just started this one, and I'm already encouraged by his approach, which is to focus on what is good about sex, and not just about the "thou shalt not's".  He promises describe a positive theology of sexuality and I?  I am intrigued.

The last one is "One Enduring Story: A Basic Guide to Safely Navigating the Biblical Terrain", by Christopher M. Morgan.  I haven't started this one yet, but I love books consider together the messages of the Old and New Testament, so I'm looking forward to reading Morgan's take on the message of the whole Bible.

Peace of Christ,
Jessica Snell

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Notes: "The Cherokee Trail", by Louis L'Amour

I've admired Louis L'Amour for awhile on merits of his work ethic alone: the man wrote a lot of books and he really did his research.

But the truth is that I hadn't read his work. Though there are Westerns I've enjoyed (I'm looking at you, Tombstone), I thought that, in general, I "didn't like Westerns".

I was wrong. Westerns are great. And L'Amour is amazing.

The Cherokee Trail is about a woman - a widow with a young daughter - who travels to Colorado to take up the job promised to her deceased husband. She has no other choice, and she has to make this work.

I loved it.  I loved watching her learn about the land and the people. I loved watching her use what she'd learned in her previous life and adapt those skills to the new life she'd taken out of necessity.  I loved the hint of romance and the overwhelming heroism of her and the other good people on the frontier.

It was just a good book.  What gets me is just how compulsively readable this book was.  This is what good fiction does: it makes it easy to turn the page.

Recommended to anyone looking to pass a few hours with a good story, well-told.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekly Links: Rainbow Recipes, Horror vs. Terror, and more!

Some good reading for your weekend:

"27 Rainbow Recipes that Will Bring Joy to Your Life": So pretty.

"Why the Shift from Horror to Terror on 'CSI' Is a Problem":
There is a fine line between accurate storytelling—wherein a crime show might show some violence to tell an honest story about the consequences of wrongdoing—and gratuitous depiction, in which violence is portrayed not for the sake of the story but for the spectacle of it. 
"Fittest Type of All Disciples: Bartholomew/Nathanael":
Because of the way Nathanael is brought to Jesus, commentator Rudolf Stier calls Nathanel "the fittest type of all disciples." God has already been at work on him in multiples ways; he is summoned by the witness of another disciple; and he is introduced directly to Jesus, converted by his word. Nathanael's faith is the occasion of Jesus first "truly, truly I say to you" statement.
"Mincemeat: on Writing":
As a writer and a mother of two children, I thought I didn't have any spare time. And then we added twins to our family, and I wondered what I used to do with all that spare time. 
"The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think":
. . . human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It's how we get our satisfaction. If we can't connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find -- the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about 'addiction' altogether, and instead call it 'bonding.' A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn't bond as fully with anything else. 
So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.
"Am I Empty?":
Empty.  It needs to be said.  Infertility and miscarriage leave one empty.  There is pain.  There is loss. Someone is missing. That needs to be acknowledged. Years later, there are scars.  I felt it then; I feel them now.  I contemplated the starkness of the word, the label.  My label.  My label?

"Measles Is Horrible":
Before the vaccine, the United States saw approximately 4 million cases of measles each year and 400 to 500 deaths. These are the stats that vaccine-deniers tend to emphasize—a relatively low number of deaths compared with the number of infections. However, those statistics alone leave out a big part of measles infections. Prevaccine, almost 48,000 people were also hospitalized each year because of measles and measles complications. One in 20 of those infected developed pneumonia. More rarely but more seriously, each year 1,000 became chronically disabled due to measles encephalitis
Measles is not a benign disease.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Luke 10: Passive Questions and Active Questions in the story of the Good Samaritan

Jacopo Bassano, The Good Samaritan, via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

In Luke 10, we read the story of the Good Samaritan. And though I've heard this story over and over again in my life, this last time I went through it, I noticed something new.

I noticed that the question the lawyer asks Jesus ("Who is my neighbor?") is not quite the same question that Jesus asks back at the end of the parable ("Who was a neighbor?", or, "which of these . . . proved to be a neighbor . . .?")

The Lawyer's Question
The lawyer asks a question that requires no action on his part, if that makes sense. He's not asking who he is, he's asking who other people are to him.

Jesus' Question
But - and I'd never quite noticed this before - Jesus doesn't answer his question. Not exactly. Jesus doesn't tell him, exactly, who his neighbor is.

Jesus tells him about a man choosing to be a neighbor.

In other words, the lawyer asks, "How do I know which people are my neighbors?"

And Jesus says, "By what fruit is a  neighbor known?"

The Command, and it's not just for the lawyer, but also for us . . .
And then, of course, "Go thou, and do likewise."

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, January 16, 2015

Recently-tried Recipes

Cooking is one of those things that just has to happen in order for life to go on (and it can't always be as simple as the cheese, crackers, and grapes pictured above), but I've found I enjoy the necessity a lot more when I try new things. So, in that spirit, here are some recipes I've tried recently, along with a short review of each:

"Chicken, Bacon, and Corn Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette":  This was sooooo good. And I prepared most of it separately so the kids could pick and choose what they wanted and what they didn't, and so it worked pretty well as a family dinner, too.

"Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad": This one I made for a Sunday potluck at church. It was great! I kept everything separate until right before we served up, and that worked really well.

"Crab and Corn Chowder, with Bacon and Jalapeno": This is one I made just for me - my family is not such a big fan of seafood. But I thought this was AMAZING. So yummy.  I didn't mind not sharing. :)

"Warm, Spiced Sangria": I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was so good, and so well-received, that I made it for Christmas too.  Highly recommended. (But perhaps to0 delicious and wonderful for anything but a feast!)

"Over-the-top Creamed Brussels Sprouts Gratin": this really is over-the-top.  Another Thanksgiving recipe: it was perfect for a feast, but too much for every day. (It starts with frying bacon IN butter - how could it be anything BUT a feast recipe?)

"Garlic Noodles": this, on the other hand, is a lovely work-a-day sort of a recipe. The kids loved it.  Add some veggies & leftover chicken, and you've got a perfect weekday lunch.

Have you tried any new recipes recently?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, January 15, 2015

More on God's Judgment

I've been thinking more about God’s judgment. I’ve been noticing a lot in my Bible readings lately, that the evil “withhold judgment” (esp. from the poor, the widow, the orphaned), and the righteous “judge justly”, and that the epitome of the “righteous judge” is the Lord Himself.  Judgment is not a bad thing in the Bible, it's a good thing. It's what the people of God long for. It's what the psalmists beg for over and over.

And yet “I am afraid of your judgments”. Because it’s wise to be so.

The righteous long for the just judgment of God, but that just judgment is also the reason that they greatly fear Him.

As they should.

And this is all good. This is all so good. Amen, come soon, Lord Jesus.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, January 12, 2015

God's Judgment: a short observation

from wikimedia commons, Christ the King icon, from St. Catherine's monastery, Mt. Sinai, PD:old.

It strikes me, on reading the Lord’s statement to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion,” that the correct answer is, “Yes, Lord, and have mercy on me.”

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekend Links: Prayer of the Hands, a good book review, and more!

Some good reading for your weekend:

"Why Women Make Blankets...and Prayer of the Hands":
I usually have work in my hands when I'm listening to speakers. I suspect that at least a few co-attendees think this is inappropriate. Busying one's hands can free up the mind to listen, though, and to pray. The repetitive rhythm of handwork has always been a conduit of prayer and of connection for me. You see, rosaries and prayer ropes are wonderful, but crochet works too! I always listen more attentively, and pray more deeply, when my hands are not calling me for something to do.  
"What 2,000 Calories Looks Like": a photo essay that was interesting not just for the restaurant food they show at the beginning but (what I really liked) the home-cooked meals at the end.

"The Legacy Journey": insightful review by Tim Challies of Dave Ramsey's latest book.

"How to Write Believable Children":  Useful stuff for my fellow authors.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, January 9, 2015

a rainbow of books! (a pretty picture for a Friday)

Not only did my wonderful brother and his wife get me a generous handful of out-of-print Essie Summers books (I love Essie Summers!), but my sister-in-law stacked them neatly in this gorgeous ombré order - a literary rainbow!

Isn't it pretty?  :)  I just had to share.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yarnalong: "Rocio" cardigan & "Not God's Type"

I'm linking up with Ginny, over at Small Things, who says, "Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading . . . I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?"

The knitting: I'm knitting (finally!) Rocio, by Joji Locatelli.  My dear friend Becca bought this pattern for me about two years ago, and I've been looking forward to working on it all this time.  And this holiday season, I finally cast on!

I love it.  The laceweight is perfect for our southern California weather, and the beautiful leaf pattern on the back is perfect for nature-loving me.  I'm using Knit Picks Shadow Tonal in Canopy (you can see my project notes on Ravelry here), a lovely, shifting, green colorway.

The book:
I'm reading "Not God's Type", by Holly Ordway.  This is another gift, this time from my dear in-laws.  I've been listening to Dr. Ordway on one of my favorite podcasts (The City) for awhile now, and I really wanted to read her memoir.  My brother-and-sister-in-law bought it for me for my birthday, and I just dove in.

It's so good. I'm almost done with it and, like many a good book, I wish there was more.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Christmas: on the last night of the season

from wikimedia commons, Raphael, St. Michael & the Dragon, PD: Old

You hear about "the reason for the season", but what does St. John say it is?

Concisely, he says:

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

And this is what Christmas is really all about.

As the end of the 12-day feast comes, I want to think more about the fact that the Incarnation, and all the redemptive acts that followed, were a mystery hidden from the creation of the world – that if the Devil had known God’s plans, he would never have crucified the Lord of glory – that it had to be hidden, kept quiet – and yet there in the very structure of the Word and world, so that after it happened, we’d be able to see that it had been God’s plan all along . . . I want to think more about this.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

My Favorite 10 Books of 2014

I'm a bit late on this, but I've enjoyed everyone else's book lists, so I thought I'd add my own. In no particular order (and including only books I read for the first time in 2014 - not beloved rereads - nor books I had a hand in editing), here are my 10 favorite books I read in 2014:

1) Lerner, Betsy. The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers.  You can see my review here.  What I loved about this book was how sharp and insightful it was about how books are made, and how to make good books even better.

2) Weir, Andy. The Martian
. You can read my review here.  What I loved about this book was the horrible situation the main character was in and all the (many, many creative ways) he found to survive.  And the humor. This was just, hands-down, my favorite new sci-fi of the year.

3) Vaughn, Carrie. Dreams of the Golden Age. You can read my semi-review here.  What I loved about this book was really the mother-daughter relationship, which felt real from both points of view.

4) Melinek, Judy, M.D, and Mitchell, T.J. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner.
  You can read my review here.  My favorite thing about this book was learning more about a fascinating job.

5) McKinley, Robin. Chalice.  You can read my review here.  What I loved about this book was what a warm, floaty, atmospheric read it was. Perfect, honey-full summer reading. Just perfect for a lazy, hot day.

6) Moon, Elizabeth. Crown of Renewal.  Apparently I didn't write a review of this one. But let me say this: Elizabeth Moon, in this book, provides a satisfactory ending to a series she's been writing for (IIRC) decades. What an accomplishment!  I love the series, and the fact that I loved the end of it too just shows Moon's skill.  Not many authors can land an ending like that so beautifully.

7) Clarkson, Sally. The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children.  You can see my review here.  What I loved about this book was not just its honesty and grace (though it was full of those qualities), but the reminder that my children belong to the Lord.

8) Simsion, Graeme. The Rosie Project.  You can read my review here.  What I loved about this book was the narrator, and how the writer used the narrator to tell us the story - but also to imply the story. Very clever.  (And heart-warming, which doesn't hurt.) 

9) Sanderson, Brandon. Warbreaker. You can read my review here.  What I loved about this book was the world-building. It's brilliant.  And I loved the wise-cracking, sentient sword. Most fun.

10) L’Amour, Louis. The Cherokee Trail.
 I know I haven't written a review of this yet, and it's because I just finished it.  But, oh my goodness!  What have I been missing all these years?  The absolute mastery of story here, the incredible depth of research!  L'Amour has earned his laurels. Now I know you can pick up a L'Amour book and just sit back and enjoy the ride. He knows what he's doing, and he's going to make sure you have a good time. Read some L'Amour! Now!  What are you waiting for?  :D

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link; if you purchase a book from this link, I receive a small percentage of the purchase price.  (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

a romantic scene, for the fun of it

             Essie sipped some tea. “So what about you? Are you going to be scrambling for someone, then? Before everyone else wakes up and counts the odds?”

            “Oh no,” John said. “The only one I’d consider just told me she’s off the market.”

            She got very quiet.

            “Don’t tell me you didn’t know,” he said.

            “No, I knew,” she said softly.

            “Well, then. I figured you must.”

            “Yes . . . but I haven’t been able to figure out why you never said anything.”

            “When I was such a jerk all those years ago? Seemed to me I had enough work cut out for myself just proving myself to be a good man. And a good friend, I hope.”

            “Oh, you needn’t worry about that any longer,” she said. “You’ve more than proven yourself.”

            He straightened. “Really.”

            Her eyes flicked up to meet his gaze. “Really. You think I lie?”

            “Not to me, I hope.”


            “Well, then,” he said. “That changes things.”

            She frowned on him. “I hope you’re not about to leap on me.”

            He made a face. “As if I would. Essie, I’ll have you know I’m much, much smoother than that.”

            “Oh, you are, are you?”

            “I’m a great date. Stellar.”

            “Oh yes?”

            He leaned forward. “And kissing? I’m fantastic. Fan-tas-tic.”

            She was frankly giggling, and he smiled in satisfaction and leaned back again.

            “You see?” he asked.

            “See what?” she asked, still laughing.

            “I make you laugh.”


            “That’s the first step in a good romance,” he informed her. “Laughter.”

            She shook her head at him helplessly.

            “Just you wait,” he said. “You’re going to love this. I promise.”

            “I haven’t said yes yet!” she protested.

            “Well of course you haven’t,” he replied, “I haven’t bloody well asked you anything yet. Impatient woman.”

            She started laughing again, and John watched her, content as a cat watching a cup full of cream.