Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekly Links: Broken Christians, Building the City, and more!

"Broken Christians":
Sure, everyone outside the church is just as ugly, just as sinning, just as broken, but the church, the bride of Jesus, is supposed to be perfect and beautiful. Or so says the world. But that’s not what Jesus says. Jesus loves the church, loves his bride, whatever the world says about her. And he is not surprised and disgusted by her brokenness. In fact, if he was, we would think he was a bad husband, which he’s not. So there you are. In everything, the reflection is always back to Christ, who is beautiful, and perfect, who loves his bride, even though she is broken down and left bereft by the wayside. He picks her up and takes care of her.

"What Is ECUSA Spending on Lawsuits?": Speaking of broken . . .

"Being a Go-Getter Is No Fun":
 Why should you do more work for the same reward, while your less capable coworker coasts along with lower expectations and work?

"The Shield Failed, the City Endures":
 It is easy to list the errors of the Christian Empire and, thank God, the Empire is not returning. We have learned much since  that time in 1453, but we have learned the lessons in part because the City saved the texts, the education, and the vocabulary that allow us to reject some of what that City did. We stand on the intellectual foundations of Constantinople behind the long intellectual walls she defended, constructed, and preserved. That City of words has never fallen and can never fall as long as one modern Christian endures.

"What Shakespeare Plays Originally Sounded Like":  Very Northern!

"Well-Planned, Hard, Sweat-Inducing Prayer and Work":
Prayer is the first and most important thing you are called to do. “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed,” John Bunyan writes.“Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.”

Finally, a video. I already thought Sia's "Chandelier" was a sad and haunting song, but this cover of it is just amazing:

Giveaway winners!

The winners of the giveaway of "Let Us Keep the Feast: Pentecost & Ordinary Time" (chosen by this random number generator), are:

Ranee, of Arabian Knits
- Gail Kittleson, of The Barn Door
- Renee Bernhard

I've notified the winners, and if I don't hear back from them within a week, I'll draw new names.

Thanks to all who participated!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you buy anything through those links, I get a very small percentage of the purchase price.)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Knitted FO: baby socks! (and a hat)

My cousin just had her first baby, and I greedily took advantage of the occasion by using it as an excuse to make my first pair of baby socks:

Itty-bitty-baby socks!  so cute!

I think I might make these again.

For my fellow knitters, here's the pattern I used. It was free, and while I might have modified it a bit to fit the way I like knitting my socks, I found it a great jumping-off point.

Yarn is leftover Cascade Heritage, the colorway I used to make my dad's gloves.

I also used the same yarn to make a matching baby hat:

I like the sock-and-hat gift set idea. I can see myself doing it again.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Yarnalong: a shrug for Bess and reading about the old West

~ before getting into this entry, I wanted to remind you that  I'm hosting a giveaway here for free books. Enter to win! It's free! Okay, onto the good stuff! ~

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 books:
My writing's taken a turn for the historical and that means I've gotten to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes: research!

My dad introduced me to this awesome series of books, the Time-Life Old West series. Alongside the history, they're full of anecdotes and character sketches drawn from old diaries, letters, and newspapers. Reading them really feels more like reading a short story collection than anything else . . . except that all the stories are true!

Needless to say, I get the best plot ideas out of these. :D  Right now, I'm making my way through  "The Women", by Joan Swallow Reiter and "The Forty-Niners" by William Weber Johnson

The knitting:
Bess wants a shrug and so a shrug she shall have! I'm knitting with worsted weight cotton and NOT knitting dishcloths (vive la différence). It's a revelation: the yarn is so soft and thick, but so nice and cool at the same time. Given our hot climate here in Los Angeles, I could see myself doing this a lot more. Yarn is Universal Yarn Cotton Supreme (Ravelry link).

What are you knitting or reading?

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, May 26, 2015

Notes on 1 Timothy

~ before getting into this entry, I wanted to remind you there's giveaway here for free books.  Enter to win! It's free! Okay, onto the good stuff! ~

Notes from 1 Timothy. (These are not doctrine or anything close. They're just notes from my devotional reading. But I love this stuff! And I thought it'd be fun to share.  

Oh, and all questions are real questions. Not rhetorical.) 

-Paul wants Timothy to keep on as he’s been doing; the first instruction of the letter is just confirming Timothy’s vocation and mission.

-Everyone sins, and if Paul can be redeemed, anyone can. Paul points out that the law isn’t for good people, it’s for people who break it. Good people don’t need the law. (And there aren’t any good people.)

-It’s good to pray for those in authority, that we might have peace and, in that peace, the freedom to share the gospel.

-Women are supposed to learn (yay! Not necessarily typical in those times), but not to exercise authority over men or to teach them. And Paul cites creation reasons for this. So it’s something truly in our nature?

-“preserved through bearing of children” – okay, I’m still working on that one – but only if we “continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint”.  And that makes me think that what he’s saying is that our normal works as women – bearing & raising children  - are acceptable to God, if done in obedience and love. I.e., the “good works” we do by nature – becoming mothers and wives – aren’t unacceptable. We’re included too, and our daily work can also be done to the glory of God.
            This is actually good news.
            (Also, not that “good works” save us . . . I’m assuming here the normal theology that we can only do good through the regeneration given us in Christ, and that fruit is proof of his saving love in us, etc. Not going for heresy here!)

-Faith, love, sanctity, and self-restraint. I’ll have to remember those and meditate on them more.

-more for the women – this time the deaconesses or deacons’ wives – they are to be “dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things”.  (Yes, I kind of want to make a list of all these things I should be aspiring to be. Because, well, I do want to be a mature Christian woman. I really do!)

-Paul is writing all these things so that Timothy has a guide to how the church should run. It really is a handbook of sorts! Paul would say all these things in person, but he’s not sure how soon he’ll be able to visit.

-beginning of ch. 4: no Gnosticism!  Marry and have babies!  Eat meat with thanksgiving to God!  “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
            (Y’know, this makes me think that I should NOT partake of anything that I can’t, in good conscience, thank God for. Not a bad litmus test for what I ought and ought not to do, y’know? A good check for the conscience . . .)

-Teach these things, Timothy, teach these things. This is Paul’s constant repetition.

-Fellow Christians ought to be treated as family members.

-a woman who is deserving, who has done “good works”, is someone who has been a good wife and mother, who has practiced hospitality and helped those who needed help.

-so, in 5:11-12, it sounds like young widows who were helped by the church had promised not to get married again? Maybe? I really want a commentary here . . .

-also, in vs. 13, it sounds like one of the big problems is that young widows have nothing to do. In these times, no family (for a woman) equaled no work. So . . . so it’s really not okay to be idle. It’s really not okay to have no work. Huh.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Weekly Links

"Guy in your MFA":
 Guy In Your MFA (Guy) was born out of a big stack of pieces I needed to critique for the next day and my frustration with this whole culture of pseudo-pretentious literary works, both in myself and in my colleagues.

"Five Things Every Christian Should be Doing with God’s Word"

. . . Psalm 119 is one of the best examples of Scripture speaking about Scripture.  It is the Word about the Word.
And in it, we find David interacting with the Word of God in five ways that should be paradigmatic for all believers . . .

"The Most Qualified By Far: On Clinton and Qualifications":

Mrs. Clinton is one times more qualified than Mr. Bush . . . at best.
"A Composed Salad Is a Meal Unto Itself":
 . . . it can contain almost anything the cook wants to arrange, roll, roast, poach, bake or grill, from thin shavings of fennel and whole kernels of local corn to dollops of ricotta and shards of country ham. Tossed together, the result would be sloppy and monotonous. A bit of order makes it satisfying and elegant.

Pentecost giveaway!

Today, Sunday, May 24, is Pentecost Sunday, when we remember the gift of the Holy Spirit.

To celebrate, I'm giving away three copies of "Let Us Keep the Feast: Pentecost and Ordinary Time".  All you have to do to enter is to comment on this post!*  This is limited to the United States** and the drawing will be conducted via random generator after 5/30/15.  Thank you for entering!

Here's a description of the book:
A brief guide for individuals and families who want to celebrate the seasons of Pentecost and Ordinary Time in their daily lives.
Pentecost and Ordinary Time are the last of the seasons in the Church Year—and often among the most misunderstood and neglected. As with some of the other seasons, Christians may find that their practices are inconsistent or in need of improvement. In the Pentecost and Ordinary Time edition of Let Us Keep the Feast, you’ll find help for enriching your observance and celebration of these seasons: traditions new and old, suggested readings, recipes, and prayers.

Please share this with friends who might enjoy having a copy of the book!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*Please make sure your entry includes contact info, like your email, or your entry may be disqualified.
**I'm sorry - postage is a killer!

Friday, May 22, 2015

a happy day years in the making

I got a book in the mail this week.

But not just ANY book.

You see, six years ago, I connected with a lovely woman named Susanne Dietze through the ACFW email loop. We both loved historical romance, and we also discovered that not only were we both Anglicans, but we both lived in California!

On the strength of these similarities, we exchanged our WIPs (works-in-progress) and gave each other critiques.

And we both went back to writing and revising.

But we've kept in contact all these long years*, and the book I got in the mail today?

It has Susanne's name on the cover!

I'm so excited. Congratulations, Susie!  I cannot wait to read it!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*Here's an interview I conducted with Susanne here on my blog back in 2012.

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.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Knitted FO's: another baby hat and another scarf

It feels like all-craft week here on my blog!  I guess I've gotten behind on documenting the things I'm making . . . 

Anyway, I'd made scarfs for each of my girls (see here, here, and here) and so it was Gamgee's turn. 

He wanted blue and orange, and so I took advantage of the anniversary sales over at WEBS, and bought some yarn. I ended up with this:

I also used some scrap sock yarn to make this baby hat:
Do I know what baby it's for?  Nope!  :)  But I have a few ideas (and a lot of expectant friends).  

It never hurts to have a few gifts put away for a special occasion, because, God be praised, special occasions keep coming up.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, May 18, 2015

Handmade Crocheted Beaded Necklaces

So the Saturday before last, I decided it was time to make some jewelry. I hadn't done that for awhile, and so I had to dig out all my beading stuff from the dark recesses of the living room bookshelf wherein it resided.

I was inspired by the pendant in this picture, which I'd recently found at Michaels (I'm a sucker for botanical imagery):

And even though I ended up ditching the twine for some plastic beading wire, I did end up with a successful necklace:

Though I think I might go back and redo it. Not sure I like the plastic wire, even though I worked it along with some gold quilting thread. I might just use some cotton laceweight yarn instead.

But then, I went on to make this:

and I love it so much!  This was made with semi-precious stone chips (pretty affordable, actually, at your local craft store) and three strands of some DMC gold embroidery floss. I basically crocheted a tube shape for the middle stone section, and winged the two beaded sections on the end (sort of chain stitch, but with a bit of extra fiddling around to make it as thick as I wanted).  I had the closure in my stash, and now I think I need to get a few more like it, because it worked so well.

I think there's more jewelry-making on the horizon for me. It's just so much fun!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Weekly Links

My weekly round-up of good reading around the web.

"Grace Lee: She Taught Me to See":
Mom taught me, at least a little bit, to begin to look at characters, all characters, on television as people. They did not exist for me, but for themselves . . . even in the story. 
"Passive Aggressive Dissent: It's a Trap":
Seven, tell your story often.  If it is not allowed to trump exegesis, church history, or reason, look sad. Ask why the Evangelical church always shoots her wounded. Don’t consider whether your story might not be enough for millions of people to change their mind.
"How Christianity Invented Children":
Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care. We also romanticize children — their beauty, their joy, their liveliness. Our culture encourages us to let ourselves fall prey to our gooey feelings whenever we look at baby pictures. What could be more natural? 
In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity. If you disagree, just go back to the view of children that prevailed in Europe's ancient pagan world.

"Kindness and Reasonableness: spread it, because it matters":
I am not anxious today because there is something deeply and particularly wrong with me. I am anxious today because like everyone in the world, life in it sucks my spirit dry now and again. I need to hear the truth over and over, as a corrective to the false promises and threats that are taken in in the air we breathe.

"The Psalms, A Holy WTF?! and Other Thoughts on the Cloister Walk":
The psalms do for us what we often can't do for each other, they let us be honest, and they let us just be. They do not insist that we pull ourselves together, get over it or move on. Their writers aren't uncomfortable or unacquainted with misery. They don't try to minimize it or explain it or tell you it is all for the best.

"Wired Binge-Watching Guide: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"
Thinking of it as the “dark side” of Star Trek is too reductive—not least because it’s a show that flirts with darkness but purposefully doesn’t embrace it—but maybe “the Star Trek that’s not uncomfortable feeling weird” would fit, instead. It’s the Star Trek for people who don’t think they like Star Trek, and the Star Trek for people who do, as well.

"3 Takeaways From My Recent Trip to Biola": Loved reading this positive take about my alma mater.

"First Things Essay Contest": I know there are some students and moms of students that read here, and I encourage you to take a look at this link - it's a great chance for a Christian student writer to get some experience and exposure!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"the shepherd verse"

My twins, Anna and Lucy, have just memorized Psalm 23, which Anna calls "the shepherd verse".

I think I'm going to think of it that way from now on.

As I've been listening to my girls recite it to me, I've noticed something new about it. (Isn't it funny how listening to something you've read a million times can make it feel brand new?)

What I noticed is that the part about "the valley of the shadow of death" comes right after the part about "the path of righteousness".

"You lead me in paths of righteousness," says the psalmist, "for your name's sake."

And immediately after that, he says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

The path of righteousness, therefore, may very well go through the valley of the shadow of death.

I hadn't noticed that before. "You lead me," says the psalmist. And directly after that, he acknowledges the fact that he might well follow that lead into dark places.

And yet. And yet.  "I will fear no evil."

Why? "Because You are with me."


Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Knitted FO: a scarf for Anna

My youngest daughter dearly wanted a scarf, and so I obliged:

It's just a simple garter-stitch scarf (and if you're interested in the yarns here, you can see my Ravelry entry here). It's very similar to the one I made for her twin sister, which you can see at the end of the entry here.

But it made her happy, which made me happy too. :)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Knitted FO: Viajante

It took forever to finish this.

It's a very big project, and I knit it in a cobweb-weight silk that I reclaimed from a very tightly-knit Ann Taylor sweater I bought at a thrift store. (See this post for more on yarn recycling.)

But it's beautiful.  And so light and airy!

I'm not sure when I'm going to wear it - other than on Pentecost Sunday, when everybody ought to be wearing something red and brilliant, to remind us of the coming of the Holy Spirit in fire and flame - but I still love it.  It's so bright, so light . . . if it weren't so cool and comfortable, I'd say it was the embodiment of fire and lava.

I do want to try making Viajante again, this time perhaps in a yarn that behaves itself a bit more than my nutty recycled silk thread. I'm thinking about using all my leftover laceweight scraps, and buying a white yarn to tie them altogether.

What do you think?  Have you knit Viajante yet, or do you want to?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell