Sunday, December 29, 2013

Simplifyyyyyyyyyy


One of my goals, always, is to simplify.
Lately I have been feeling the ache of clutter. We are in a time of transition, of temporary-ness, and we are half unpacked, half packed. A time of waiting, if you will. And I think you will. We did just get done with Advent, after all. 
In this time of waiting, I've come to realize that we have managed to survive for....over half a year without using some of our stuff. Longer for some of it. Some of it, I miss, and wonder if I should just go unpack it, or just wait until we are wherever we are going to move to. Most of it, I don't miss. And I wonder, WHY ARE WE KEEPING ALL THIS STUFF? We clearly don't need it. Someone else might. Like our extra coats and blankets for example. Or all the sweatshirts and shoes I don't wear. For example.
So an obtainable goal, I think, is to go through a box or a drawer, just one a night, and get rid of stuff. Regardless of where we live after this place, I don't want to keep carrying around STUFF that we never use or don't need.
I am aware that simplicity does also come with natural complications. For example, if I want to get rid of a bunch of clothes, perhaps I will have to do laundry more often. Or maybe not....if I already only wear the same 4 outfits all the time anyway. Or maybe, if we decide to eat more simply. Only foods with ingredients we can recognize. Or only foods that we can prepare at home. Well that means that preparing meals or grocery shopping might seem more complicated for awhile. I am aware of the complications that come with simplicity.

Ultimately, it comes down to what we value. Do we value stuff more than people? What do we treasure?

Here are some especially convicting Scriptures (for me).

Matthew 6:19-21: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."

And

Acts 2:42-47: "All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved."
Emphasis my own. This community sounds amazing.


In related news, I am really enjoying -- looking forward to even, my daily blogging on the lectionary. I am working ahead, in case I fall behind. Either way, the goal is the daily study of Scripture. They are scheduled to started being posted on the first of January.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Scripture for 2014

The Scriptures I will be blogging about in 2014 (until Advent, when I switch from year A to year B), can be found here: http://commontexts.org/publications/RCLDailyReadings_Yeara.pdf

(this post just gives credit where credit is due)

Also I think I need to include this:

Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org

Cheers.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2014 Resolutions

It's early (well, 10 or so days early), but here are my resolutions for 2014.

1. First of the month photo journal
Take a picture of the view out my front door (or wherever, as long as it is the same place/time each first of the month). In the likely event that we move (just to a different house, probably), or if we happen to be out of town on the first of the month, I will find a different front door view. Will start this January 1st, of course.

2. Lectionary Blogs 
A blogpost reflecting on the day's Scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary. I have already started on some of these (thanks, scheduled posting!) for the likely event that I fall behind on this. Basically I am just going to read through the Scriptures and blog about whatever the Lord places on my heart. I'm guessing the quality will change from day to day...but mostly this is an exercise for me. If you are blessed/challenged by reading it, then thank God! I really desire to be in the Word regularly, and not only that but thinking about it and reflecting on it. So this is my attempt at that.

3. Prayer Life
I am terrible at praying. Period. Anything will be an improvement. Currently, my most consistent prayers are in the middle of the night when I am rocking with my son, who has trouble sleeping. I pray for obvious things like rest, and for our little family. If someone asks me for prayer, I pray right then and there, because I don't want to say, "I'll pray for you" and then completely forget. Let's face it. I will forget. Sorry. I don't want to forget. Ultimately I think that wanting to be a better pray-er is a twofold thing. I want to be closer to God, and I want to think of others more than I think of myself. The way I hope to accomplish this is yet unknown. I think that writing them down is a good start (or more likely, writing a note on my phone), and then checking the list throughout the day. That's all I have so far. I think a journal is a good idea...but I have never been a consistent journaler (journalist?). Blogging doesn't count.

4. Be the person I want to be
Continue working through this list. Basically I want to be a better wife and mom, and a better me.

That's it. Instead of doing something crazy like 14 goals for 2014, I've just taken the last number, 4. Four goals. Working through them daily is the goal (except for the first one, obviously)...but we'll see how I'm doing come January 3.

EDIT/ADDITION

5. 5K
I'd like to run a 5K sometime in 2014. Probably toward the end.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Today's Advent devotional....by Me


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Throughout time, we can see God at work. In the Psalm, David celebrates God’s mighty acts with music and singing. In Genesis, God is at work in Abram’s life and in the future of his descendants. Abram thinks that his family line must be almost done, but God promises him a son and blessings beyond his wildest dreams. In Matthew, God is at work in our hearts, producing good fruit.

“For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”   Matthew 12:34c-35

What is in the treasury of our hearts? James 1:21-22 says, “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” 

Is the word of God planted in the treasury of our hearts, producing good fruit? As we study Scripture and store it in our hearts, we see that it all points to Jesus (John 5:39)! Jesus enables us to produce good fruits; it is not our good works that save us though. They are only the result of our salvation (Philippians 1:10-11).

How can we plant the Word of God, which points to Jesus, in our hearts this Advent season? Through regular reading, studying, singing, memorizing, praying through, and meditating upon Scripture.

Pray through Ephesians 3:17-21:
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Facebook Quality Control

What if each person were allowed only 31 Facebook posts a month? I imagine a utopian Facebook where everyone thought carefully before posting, asking themselves, "is it worth it to use up one of my posts for this?" Sure, there would be people who would consider it a blow to their freedom of speech (they're always out there, waiting for a reason to use it for complaining), but overall, I think it would immensely improve the quality of Facebook.

Some guidelines I've thought of (in the likely event that Mark Zuckerberg is reading):

31 Posts A Month. It averages out to one post a day (with some months getting a bonus!). What counts as a post?

A status update. or
A share. or
One photo album with a limit of 31 pictures (so, you could still have nearly a thousand pictures posted by the end of the month, if that is what you want to use your posts for...but if your album only has, say, 10 pictures, any other time you add pictures would count as an extra post...so think it through!). or
One profile picture change. or
One 31 second video. or
One gaming update. or
One link to an inspirational/funny quote or a recipe (Oh, hey! Have you heard of Pinterest?). or
One link to an article or blog post. or
One cover picture change. or
One post on one other person's wall. or
You get the picture. One post a day. I'm being really generous with photo albums.


Unlimited Likes and Comments of course. And messages sent to others would be unlimited as well.

What other quality control ideas am I missing?






Monday, October 7, 2013

Making pictures the old-fashioned way

So basically I go back and forth between wanting to develop the downtown area where I live, and reading books on sustainable farming. Currently I have 8 books on city planning requested from the library. I don't have money or business skills, and I don't have land or a love for being around animals. So I guess it's just me and my books and dreams for now. I thought of just writing a book and creating the town I want to live in, but I would only have fun creating the town. I don't want to create characters or figure out their conflicts and then resolve them.
I recently learned that there is a building for sale very close to where I want to put the town square. Were I to have the resources, this is what I would do:

Wait. First, here is a rough drawing of the current situation. I don't have paint on this computer, so I had to draw it with an actual pen, and then take a picture of it with my phone and email it to myself so I could post it here. I probably could've done it simpler, but that's not how I do.

There are probably some buildings and trees and such that I'm leaving out, but you get the idea.

If you remember my recent-ish post about the town square, you may remember my plan to tear down the old armory across from the courthouse and put in a town square where much merriment will take place. My newest development is finding out that the building across the street from the bank is for sale!

For Sale

The obvious move is for the bank to buy that building, and either tear it down or remodel it and turn it into their new location. That way we can tear down the current bank and make our town square even more awesome.

It just seems right, you know?
Ok. If you'll excuse me, I have 8 books to read, some pretend businesses to start, and a fountain to build.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

To do. Indefinitely. Goals.

1. Don't be so attached to screens. Computers. Phones. TVs. The like. Spend less and less time on social media.
2. Eat homemade as much as possible. Homemade and from scratch. Frozen pizzas* and cake from a box, though made at home, do not count. As homemade or as food, likely.
3. Search local stores first when shopping. 
4. Learn/hone skills in making handcrafted goods.
5. Learn about gardening/composting, etc.
6. Simplify. Less stuff. Priorities.
7. Build community wherever you are. Live and be present wherever God has placed you.
8. Read Scripture daily. Pray continually.
9. Go to bed earlier.
10. Spend at least an hour a day outside.


Essentially I want to be Amish, but keep my iPhone. And dishwasher.




*Unless it's a pizza that you made from scratch and then froze.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Eating like kings and queens

Warning. Soap box-esque thoughts forthcoming.


Over the past few weeks, I've become increasingly aware of a stigma that at the very least used to exist (not sure if it still does, for various reasons) against homemade bread (and other homemade things too, I'm sure). At least three different people (either in real life, book, or facebook comment) have mentioned things like,
"Of course we were poor so we had to eat homemade bread. Our mother made everything."
"It was always a treat to get things from the bakery. Otherwise we always had homemade."
"Kids at lunch would never trade sandwiches with me, because our bread was homemade."

Excuse me, what?!? What kind of backwards society do we live in where homemade bread is not seen as superior in every way possible? Healthier, better ingredients, tasty, inexpensive and easy to make, etc. The only drawbacks I can think of are that some people have a fear of working with yeast, and some people don't have time (or don't think they have time) to make bread. Making bread is time consuming, especially if you want bread RIGHT NOW. Sorry, you'll have to wait, or plan better next time. And think of all the things you can get done while the bread is rising.

This sort of thinking of course applies to other things as well. So many other things are so much better (in most ways) when they are made from scratch, at home. Now before you stop reading this blog because you think I'm the most pretentious person on the planet, please realize that I don't think that people who eat a certain way are better or worse than people who eat a different way. Human value is not based on what we eat, and in general, people are not better or worse than each other, just different. Secondly, it is weird how stigmas work. On one hand there is a stigma against homemade bread, and on the other hand, people who make their own bread are now somehow better (and also worse, because of the stigma). It does not even make sense. Let's be logical here.

All this to say, I've been thinking lately about how a sign of poverty in our (first world) times can be seen not in how many people have things to eat, and not in how little people have to eat (little in amount, not as a descriptor of people), but in the quality of food, and the amount of non-foods that pass as food these days.

A while back we went to a waffle-feed. Hundreds of waffles were consumed (by hundreds of people). I have no idea what was in the waffles, perhaps they were made from scratch, or perhaps a mix (just add water), so I can't speak for them. But I can speak for the toppings that were offered. When I eat waffles at home, I like to top the savory waffles off with some sour cream and eat alongside other savory items like bacon or eggs. I like to eat non-savory waffles topped with yogurt and blueberries and bananas. At this particular waffle-feed, the options were....plentiful in a way, and severely SEVERELY lacking in other ways. The options for toppings were all (only) available in gigantic containers with pumps. Pumpable butter product, and about a dozen different syrups, all but one containing high fructose corn syrup as its first or second ingredient. Even the "maple syrup" was made of high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors. I think it was technically (and legally) labelled maple FLAVORED syrup. It just turns me off, people. This is not food. This is a sign of severe poverty.

Yes, hundreds of people got to eat. Yes, it maybe even tasted good (though I only had one pump of the pecan flavored syrup...the only one without high fructose corn syrup anywhere on the ingredients list...it tasted fine, though real pecans would've been even tastier, obviously). But why is this acceptable in our society? Do we suffer from the poverty of being too poor to buy/serve/eat real ingredients? Do we suffer from the poverty of lack of knowledge about what we put into our body? If it is artificial anything, why do we call it food?

The bread you buy at the store has a million ingredients (real, artificial, necessary, and filler) in it, but apparently it is a sign of poverty if your mom has to make you bread.

I just don't get it.

Rant over.

Not my picture. Why on earth do we call this food?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Town Square

This blogpost will probably contain no surprises, if you've read this blog over the course of the past few years. Maybe you haven't though, so SURPRISE! The powerball was big again, and of course I get all existential (we didn't even buy a ticket, people calm down). Though I don't really need the powerball to dream big dreams.
Since June's blogpost, I've been obsessing thinking about ways to best love our new city. I think on a very small scale, we can try to shop as locally as we can. Probably another post coming on that. On a larger scale, I still don't think we've lived here long enough to truly know what the city needs (first glance says the downtown area needs some businesses to come fill the empty buildings...but what kind of businesses would draw regular customers? I don't know yet). I do know that at the new Farmers Market in town, in the call for new vendors, they included handmade items in the list of things people could sell. And I thought, maybe if I get my act together and make a bunch of soap, I could sell some at the Farmers Market next summer (don't have much made...and even if I did make some this evening, summer would be over by the time the soap was ready to sell).
All this thinking about selling soap at a Farmers Market got me to thinking about selling soap at a Christmas Market (SURPRISE!).
And then I thought, LONG PRAIRIE NEEDS A TOWN SQUARE. Now, again, we have lived here for just under two months. I have no idea if Long Prairie really would utilize a Town Square or not. But since this is my blog, and the powerball was big, I'm going to pretend like I have the funds to back this up and dream a little. Indulge with me.
Last week while I was thinking about all this Town Square stuff (SURPRISE! before the powerball), the Long Prairie account on facebook asked us faithful followers what kind of businesses we'd like to see in town. Well thank you for asking, Long Prairie Facebook account. I have been thinking about this very thing. I waited a bit to answer, of course. 1. I wanted to gather my thoughts, and 2. I didn't know what kind of answers people were going to give. I had just moved here, I shouldn't be the first one to post (especially if I wasn't even thinking in the same book as people, much less the same page). Also 3, I have zero nostalgia for Long Prairie, so it wasn't like I could say, "I wish it was how it used to be." No idea how it used to be.
Anyway, here is part of how I answered:
If money were no object, it would be great to restructure downtown to have a town square, with businesses/restaurants surrounding. In the spring/summer/fall, concerts and farmers market could be held there (or craft fairs...large gatherings, etc) and restaurants could do outdoor seating. In winter, we could have a Christmas Market....and maybe a skating rink in the town square.
Businesses... A larger bakery, art studio, craft supply store, and more restaurants...maybe a cute little deli.  (of course [the new coffeeshop] would have to move to the square!)

Doesn't it sound AMAZING?!?!!?!
And of course all week I've been thinking (even dreaming while I'm sleeping) about the new Town Square. And how great downtown would be if we could just walk there and get everything we need (or, when we move out of town, to drive to downtown, park, and then walk everywhere to get whatever we need). Who needs a supermega-walmart-esque one-stop-shop, when you have a Town Square surrounded by all the businesses you need? I still don't know what businesses exactly, but a small, locally owned grocery store/deli would be nice. And the coffee shop, of course. An outdoor mall, if you will (and I think you will).
My first thought was to have it in the middle of Main Street, but after some thought, we thought maybe it would be better if the Town Square were right across the street from the ever-majestic-on-the-hill courthouse (of course, maybe that street would have to be moved. maybe). We'd have to tear the old armory down (from what I can tell, it looks abandoned anyway), and then build businesses around it (or, just turn the businesses on main street around...if we want to have a really big square/rectangle).
And then of course, we'd have our Christmas Market. And it would be a wonderful utopian society where everyone shopped locally and walked everywhere and lived happily ever after.
Dear Lotto Winner from Minnesota,
Would you be willing to fund this project (if of course this is what Long Prairie needs...I know it's what I want), and help invest ($$) into some new businesses to be named?
Thanks,
Laura

The city block where the Town Square will go. You can see the Courthouse in the background (left).

Goodbye Armory. Hello Town Square! This is looking out from in front of the courthouse.
OK. If you just got to this blog and only read the captions under the pictures, please note that I am dreaming, and not actually making things happen. Unless you are the Lotto winner. Or the Mayor. OR some other rich benefactor with an interest in small town development.
Cheers!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Motherhood

I've been a blogger for a longer time than I've been a mother, so maybe some reader(s) of this blog assume that this blog will turn into another Mom Blog.
You know Mom Blogs, they're written by moms, and cover topics such as breast feeding, wholesome cooking, tips for organizing/cleaning your home, and my favorite: "our year trying _______," documenting a family's year of shopping locally/eating whole foods/not buying anything new/fill in the blank. 
I am thankful for Mom Blogs, however abundant they are. This is not a Mom Blog.
But Laura, you are a mom who breast feeds, likes to cook from scratch, makes soap, and already has a few blogs. This is just a natural next step, right?
No. I hope not. I really want to be the type of mom who doesn't have time to blog on a regular basis about How To Be A Mom, or The Benefits of Breastmilk, or Five Quick Meals to Make on a Budget. Plus, those topics are already covered in abundance. The world doesn't need another Mom Blog, thank you very much.
I will post from time to time still. Same old random stuff, but not regularly. Because I do like to make stuff and think thoughts, and I do like to reflect on them every once in awhile (Mom or not).
Anyway while I will never be the Mom with the cleanest house or the most high-fructose-corn-syrup-filled snacks (#sorrynotsorry, Lars's future friends), I do like the idea of being the type of Mom/person that makes things from scratch. This is getting to be long.
To wrap it up, I would rather be a mom who spends more than 24 hours making bread and NOT blogging a how-to that will get reposted to Pinterest, than being a Mom that finds a short-cut way to do things so she has time to blog about it.
For now.

Sorry/Not Sorry, dear Blog Reader(s)


Pictured: bread that I've been working on over the course 24+ hours. The main ingredients are Time and Waiting. I love the whole process.

And: enchilada hotdish (which I nicknamed Long Prairie Hotdish), made from scratch (the corn tortillas and the sauce). Was delish.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A new city to love

Well, we've been here a week. What's that, you say? Yes, we've moved. And yes, I'm a terrible blogger. Most people are.
We moved back to Minnesota! We are thrilled, but also feeling a little culture-shocked, and a little bit like we're just visiting still. We haven't lived in Minnesota for seven years, and we haven't lived in small town Minnesota for even longer. We will adjust, but it will take some time (as any transition does).
Tonight we took a stroll up and down the Main Street of our new town (Steve lived here a long time ago, and I've never lived here, only visited...so yes, we can call it our new town). You can kind of see what it once was, but there is a lot missing. A lot of empty buildings. Seems like other places we've lived, eh?
Let's count the pros: there is a bakery, a Mexican restaurant, a pizza place, and a new coffee shop opening soon. And a really cool little food co-op.
There are a few more businesses I can't remember...and TWO optometrists. TWO.
Of course we can see all this potential, and start dreaming about what could be, and ways we can best love our new city. How can we support local businesses? How can we encourage new businesses? How can we spend our money wisely in our town, yet still value making things at home, from scratch.
Oh! I just remembered, a farmers market is also coming soon. So that is exciting.
Still lots to learn about this community and its needs. At one point I even wondered out loud what it would be like to plant a covenant church in one of the empty buildings on the Main Street.
Of course I walked around like a tourist snapping pictures of the cool old buildings (which will all be found at the end of this post, since I'm posting from my phone). Excited to see how we gradually make this place our home. Determined to take on the challenge of serving this community. What would it look like if we only shopped/spent our money locally? Who are the people, and what services do they need? 












Friday, March 15, 2013

Oops.

Seems I've fallen a bit behind on my Lenten posts. Since no one is knocking down my door begging for me to keep up with them, I'm assuming it's ok. I still like doing them, so I may take some time to catch up on them someday in the future. Hopefully before Easter, but no promises.

In other news, Google is getting rid of their Reader as of July 1st. One more way that I won't be using Google, I guess; though I am disappointed. I'm sure I will read a lot fewer blogs unless I find a new reader. Anyone know of one that they would recommend? I suppose this will give me an opportunity to evaluate, in the coming months, the blogs I follow.

Cheers.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lent Project - February 25


Monday, February 25


Questions/Thoughts: What are the great things that the Lord had done according to the Psalm? Why wouldn’t the Lord travel with the people? What was their reaction to this? Can people do anything in order to be made right before God? What does circumcision have to do with anything?

O Lord, who hast mercy upon all,
take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore Thee,
a heart to delight in Thee,
to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake. 
Amen
St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lent Project - February 24


Sunday, February 24
Second Sunday in Lent


Questions/Thoughts: Though Abram still did not have a son of his own, the Lord promised him countless descendants. Abram was counted righteous because of his faith. Even though it seemed impossible, he believed what the Lord told him. How is this encouraging to you? How have you seen the Lord work in your own life, even when things seemed impossible? What does it look like to be brave and courageous as you wait for the Lord? What is some of the imagery in these passages regarding God’s protection?

Hope beyond all human hope,
you promised descendants as numerous as the stars
to old Abraham and barren Sarah.
You promise light and salvation
in the midst of darkness and despair,
and promise redemption to a world that will not listen.
Gather us to yourself in tenderness,
open our ears to listen to your word,
and teach us to live faithfully
as people confident of the fulfillment of your promises.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. 
Amen.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

One more brief break

Hello again. I know I should spread these breaks out a bit, but I'm sitting here now. Want to get these done while the baby sleeps.

I made some coffee soap again last weekend! The last time I made it (nearly a year and a half ago), I stuck to the recipe and added the coffee grounds and walnuts to the mix. Well, it turned out to be TOO MUCH FOR MY PRINCESS SKIN to have all of those exfoliants in one bar of soap. It feels nice if you're washing the bottom of your feet, but not as an everyday soap (my opinion).

So this time around I left out the walnuts, and only added the coffee grounds to the top (so that each bar has a little exfoliation option). We will find out in another month if they are any good, and if my idea to put the coffee grounds on top was a good one. Until then, they look pretty enough to eat! But that would be gross. Don't eat soap. Unless you have a potty mouth.

lovely brick of soap, about to be cut into bars. coffee grounds swirled about on top.

pretty little bars all in a row

it was a big batch of soap


In other news, it would appear (based only on the words in the links, I didn't click on them to double check) that there are some questionable sites that are sending people to this blog. Sorry (not sorry) people. You won't find porn here. Although, I suppose...is it better to be looking for porn and stumble across some Lent verses, or to be looking for Lent verses and accidentally find some porn? Gross.

A quick break for a Pinterest win

Oh hey.

Just a brief break from your daily Lenten verses to talk about what Steve and I ate for lunch today. Hey. I gave up Instagram (among other things) for Lent, I need an outlet for posting pictures of my lunch.

I found the idea on the bottom of a Pinterest post, and immediately ran to the store for ingredients (ok, I was on my way to the store anyway, when I stumbled upon this idea). It was at the bottom of a post about how to make your own sprouts: a BLT wrap with sprouts and cream cheese and avocado added. Perhaps you may remember when I was pregnant I ate at least two BLTs with avocado a week for awhile there.

Anyway, we made them our own and they were SO GOOD.

Ingreds:
Multi-grain Wrap
Onion and Chive Cream Cheese
Spinach
Bacon
Tomatoes
Avocados
Sprouts
Sprinkle of pepper

We opted not to tuck in the sides.

So YUM

Lent Project - February 23


Saturday, February 23


Questions/Thoughts: What roll does fear play in your life? Why should we not be afraid?  What things in your life can you praise God for? What do you think it means to “bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord?”

Artist of souls,
you sculpted a people for yourself
out of the rocks of wilderness and fasting.
Help us as we take up your invitation to prayer and simplicity,
that the discipline of these forty days
may sharpen our hunger for the feast of your holy friendship,
and whet our thirst for the living water you offer
through Jesus Christ. 
Amen.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lent Project - February 22


Friday, February 22


Questions/Thoughts: List characteristics of God as you find them in these passages. Have you experienced these characteristics? How? What does it look like to be a citizen  of Heaven?

Jesus,
May our hearts be burning with more fervent love for you;
may our eyes be ever turning to behold your cross anew;
till in glory, parted never from the blessed Savior’s side,
graven in our hearts forever, dwell the cross, Crucified.
Amen

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lent Project - February 21


Thursday, February 21


Questions/Thoughts: What can we learn about prayer from the Psalm? What can we learn about waiting patiently for the Lord? What do you think was going through Abram’s mind when the Lord was telling him of the land and descendants the Lord would give him? What are some things that you once thought were valuable, but are actually worthless when compared to know Christ Jesus? How are we made right with God?

As you did hunger and did thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord, to die to self,
and so to live by your most holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
and through your Passiontide,
for evermore, in life and death,
O Lord, with us abide.

Abide with us and through this life our doubts and pain relieve.
An Easter of unending joy we shall at last receive.
Amen


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lent Project - February 20


Wednesday, February 20


Questions/Thoughts: Why do you think that Job was not sinning when he blamed God? In what ways is Satan limited in what he can do? Why is it important to be alert at all times? What is the significance or importance of prayer in each of the three passages?

God of deliverance and freedom,
you taught the people of Israel
to acknowledge that all things
come from your bountiful hand.
Deepen our faith
so that we may resist temptation
and, in the midst of trial,
proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord,
now and for ever. 
Amen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lent Project - February 19


Tuesday, February 19


Questions/Thoughts: What are characteristics of sin, in these passages? What hope can you find, in each of these passages?

Prayer
God of the covenant,
in the glory of the cross
your Son embraced the power of death
and broke its hold over your people.
In this time of repentance,
draw all people to yourself,
that we who confess Jesus as Lord
may put aside the deeds of death
and accept the life of your kingdom. 
Amen.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lent Project - February 18


Monday, February 18


Questions/Thoughts: What kind of relationship does David have with God? Why do you think God was displeased with David taking a census? How does David own up to his sin? How is our sin atoned for? What does it look like to live your life as Jesus did?

and did the vict’ry win, 
oh, give us strength in you to fight,
in you to conquer sin.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The First Sunday in Lent


Sunday, February 17
First Sunday in Lent


Questions/Thoughts: What is significant about giving to God the first of the harvest? What stands out about the way God rescued the Israelites from Egypt? What stands out about the way God rescues His people in the Romans passage? How does Jesus respond to the devil’s temptations?

Lord, who throughout these forty days, for us did fast and pray,
teach us to overcome our sins, and close by you to stay.

Worth the five minutes. Watch and listen:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lent Project - February 16


Saturday, February 16


Questions/Thoughts: After reading from Psalm 91 these past couple days, what stands out to you in it today? How does the reading from Ecclesiastes enhance the reading from John? What are characteristics of dark and light in general that help you to understand what Jesus says about becoming children of light?

fountain in life’s desert dreary, Savior from the world above:
often have your eyes, offended, gazed upon the sinner’s fall!
Yet, upon the cross extended, you have borne the pain of all.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent Project - February 15


Friday, February 15


Questions/Thoughts: What can learn about leadership from the account of Moses? What is encouraging about today’s readings?

Christ Jesus,
In our wilderness, you are our bread, our drink, our light.
Your death and rising set things aright.
Your presence puts our fears to flight.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lent - Valentine's Day


Thursday, February 14, Valentine’s Day

Scripture: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Exodus 5:10-23, Acts 7:30-34

Questions/Thoughts: What does it look like to make the Lord your refuge? Why do you think it looks like the Lord sometimes waits to come to the rescue of his people?

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all those who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday


Wednesday, February 13, Ash Wednesday


Questions/Thoughts: What kind of fasting does the Lord want? What does Paul list as his hardships? How does he live regardless? Why does the condition of our hearts matter in fasting? In our service to the Lord? In our prayer life? In our repentance?

Prayer:
O God, you delight not in pomp and show,
but in a humble and contrite heart.
Overturn our love of worldly possessions
and fix our hearts more firmly on you,
that, having nothing,
we may yet possess everything,
a treasure stored up for us in heaven. 
Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day, Mardi Gras, etc


Tuesday, February 12, Shrove Tuesday, etc
The day before Lent begins is celebrated around the world, and known by a variety of names (Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day, Mardi Gras, etc). Traditionally, food that you normally wouldn’t eat during Lent is eaten on this day, and there are different festivities that happen depending on where you are in the world.


Questions/Thoughts: What stands out to you in the Psalmist’s prayer today? How is the glory of God described in Ezekiel’s vision? If you are into drawing (or even if you aren’t), perhaps it would be a fun exercise to try to draw what Ezekiel describes. How was Peter stretched beyond what was comfortable for him in his visit with Cornelius? How might you be stretched over this Lenten season? How were Ezekiel’s and Cornelius’s visions similar?

Holy God, mighty and immortal,
you are beyond our knowing,
yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ,
whose compassion illumines the world.
Transform us into the likeness of the love of Christ,
who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity,
the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. 
Amen.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday, Monday.


Monday, February 11


Questions/Thoughts: How does the Psalmist deal with those who are against him? What is the Psalmist’s prayer? What are some gifts that the Lord has given you that you can use for Him? For what do you think the Lord was preparing Peter? What do you think the dream was about?

You revealed your glory and presence
in your beloved Son, Jesus the Christ.
In receiving our prayers,
reveal the glory and presence of your Spirit
alive in the world today,
free us from all doubts,
and empower us to act as a transfigured people. 
Amen.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Transfiguration Sunday


Transfiguration Sunday is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, and focuses on the transfiguration of Jesus (go figure!). 

February 10 - Transfiguration Sunday


Questions/Thoughts: How was the transfiguration of Jesus transformative for the disciples? How is it transformative for us? What do we learn about the glory of God in these passages? What are ways that the Lord has spoken to His people in the past? How does He speak to us now?

Eternal God,
you revealed to the disciples
the everlasting glory of Jesus Christ.
Grant us, who have not seen and yet believe,
the gift of your Holy Spirit,
that we may boldly live the gospel
and shine with your transforming glory,
as people changed and changing
through the redeeming presence of our Savior. 
Amen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My heart's desires

I spent a little time this evening (a very little, actually, when I think of the amount of time I could have spent) reading through old blog posts of mine.

Ran across this one, and was very encouraged to see how God has worked in my life over the past few years. I turned 30 this past November, and am happy to report that I was able to finish seminary and have a baby right before 30. 

Looking forward to seeing what God has in store for the current desires of my heart over the next five (or so) years.

Also was reminded that I used to be a much better, thoughtful, and more consistent blogger.





Sunday, January 20, 2013

Productivity

I'm working on a project...a Lent project! It will look verrrry similar to my Advent/Christmas/Epiphany project, and will start, Lord willing, on February 10: Transfiguration Sunday! Ash Wednesday isn't until the 13th of February, but like the other project, sometimes it's nice to get started a couple days in advance.

As always, I hope you enjoy (and even if you don't, I enjoy. So this is what you get, dear blog reader!).


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Obligatory blog post. New Resolution.


Well, I didn't finish the book I thought I would finish yet. Maybe this weekend. 

I am seriously contemplating being done with Facebook by the end of 2013. Or at the very least down to checking it very infrequently, which is more doable. I just have so many pictures on Facebook, and I really do like people's comments and my own commentary on them. It's the closest thing I will probably have to a scrapbook. And for some of my facebook friends, I really have no other contact information for them other than facebook (which I guess could be remedied if I actually started using email for personal interaction). So probably will take a lot of work if I decide to completely deactivate my account. That's why I'm giving myself until the end of the year to figure it out.

By the way, if I do start using email more frequently, you can bet that I will never send you a forward. That's a promise. 

Anyway, that is an add-on to my first resolution. Still plan to give it up completely for Lent, and then go from there.

By the by, my weekly visitors for this blog have reached a special number:
favorite number
Anyway. The verses for today from the Revised Common Lectionary are: Psalm 29Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, and 1 Corinthians 2:11-16.

Blessings.

Friday, January 11, 2013

52 in 52

Back at the end of October, I agreed to read 52 books in 52 weeks, starting November 1st. If you're good at math, you'll see that I'm a little bit behind, but still trucking along.

Here are the books I've read so far:

1.

Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, Soong-Chan Rah


2. 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (reread)


3. 

Siddhartha


4. 

Life Together: A discussion of Christian fellowship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (reread)



And since I've been posting these in advance, I hope to be done with Crouch's Culture Making by the time this list is posted.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New year's rezzies from 2008

Back on my old blog, I was a little more ambitious about my new year's resolutions. Let's see if I've accomplished any of them since 2008. I will write my current thoughts in a different color.

1. Go to Boston
STILL have not been to Boston. In the Fall, or ever.

2. Get new glasses

Just the other day, I got my second pair of glasses since writing this list.

3. Visit a dentist
In December I visited the dentist for the second time since writing this list.

4. Apply for seminary

Applied, attended, and finished! Wahoo!

5. Go to Washington DC

Still haven't. Lame.

6. Write a children’s book

Need to revisit this.

7. Buy a Digital SLR Camera

Done and done. Need to find time to use it more, now that I have a baby and an iPhone.

8. Give all the clothes you don’t wear anymore to Salvation Army

Done several times. Have some boxes that need to be delivered as I type this.

9. Go to Niagara Falls

Twice.

10. Illustrate the children’s book you plan to write

See #6

11. Save a little bit of money each week

The bank does this for us.

12. Write a letter or note to someone and send it in the mail once a week

FAIL, but really should change that, since I would like my mom to have a job for at least a couple more years. We sent birth announcements out via the mail, so we have that going for us.

13. Go Colonial Williamsburg

Not yet.

14. Call your Mom once a week

I hate talking on the phone, and my mom doesn't have the internet. So we don't skype as often. But we do text almost daily.

15. Enter a photography contest

Didn't. Don't really feel the need to do this anymore.

16. Go one day without lip balm
Yeah, right.


17. Go to a Boston Red Sox Game
Still on the bucket list.


18. Learn something about each presidential candidate
I did, for two elections since writing this list. I still don't affiliate myself with a political party. Though I find myself leaning a certain way these days. Trying to keep that to myself though. If voting was meant to be a public thing, they wouldn't have us cast our ballots behind a curtain. I heard someone say that.


19. Get promoted
To motherhood! Love it.


20. Go for a walk three times a week
Though I haven't gone for three walks this week, I can probably say with confidence that I've averaged three walks a week since writing this list.


21. Go to The Poconos
Not yet.


22. Organize your recipes
Sort of.

23. See the Statue of Liberty
Not yet.


24. Go to New Hampshire
Not yet.


25. Grow your hair ridiculously long
I have, at least twice. And cut it really short twice too. I tend to do this. I never maintain a haircut.


26. Call a friend once a week
Nope.


27. Go to Vermont
Nope.


28. Shave a little bit of your legs with every shower
I have. This is just so routine now, it is as important as shampooing.


29. Dress up for church
Sometimes. We don't really go to that kind of church.


30. Learn more about investing
Nope, unfortunately.


31. Go to Connecticut
Nope


32. Be able to do one pull-up/chin-up
Though I haven't tried, I'm guessing that I can't.


33. Get an I-pod
Got an iPhone, which is better. Steve has an iPod.


34. Get more dress clothes
I did. I could maybe use more. Though in my current profession it isn't required.


35. Go to Maryland
Nope. Got pretty close though.


36. Learn some new words in another language
Lietuviskai


37. Learn some new English words
Probably did.


38. Put some towels away for later
They are still put away, thankyouverymuch


39. Go to Delaware
Nope


40. Clean the oven
I'm sure I've cleaned a few ovens since writing this list


41. Go camping in a tent
I think I did, can't remember.


42. Cook a meal over a campfire
Yep.


43. Go to New Jersey
Nope.


44. Eat more fruits
Yes, thank you blender, and now Vitamix!


45. Develop a taste for berries
Yes, thank you blender, and now Vitamix! Actually not quite there on all berries. But getting better.


46. Leave the continent
Yep. Europe.


47. Invent a new recipe
Yep.


48-97. Read 50 books you’ve never read before
Having gone to seminary, I'm sure I've easily done this.


98-122. Reread 25 books you have read before
Probably have, I do like me a good reread.

123. Reread the Bible (this will be counted separately from the 25 other books).
Yep.


124. Go to North Dakota
NOPE. How ridic.


125. Drink at least 3 glasses of water a day
Easily.


126-177. Take 52 interesting photos
I'm sure I have.


178. Encounter some Rough Giraffes
Yep, though rough giraffes probably means something different now than it did when I wrote this list.


179. Go to Canada
Yes, though I would like to visit it some more. Loved Toronto, would like to see Montreal and Vancouver and Winnipeg, to name a few.


180. Try fish again (you don’t have to like it)
Try it every summer at the cabin. Still prefer to eat other things.


181. Plant a tree
Someday, someday.


182. Floss daily
Fail.


183. Finish a Friday crossword
I think I did?


184. Plant some flowers
I don't think I did.


185. Watch 24
Negatory


186. Print photos and put them in an album
We did, for my mom.

187. Move out of Western Pennsylvania
We did....and then moved back.


188. Paint a picture
Not as many as I would've liked.


189. Finish off the lotion you have before buying more
Still working on that.


190. Go on a date weekly
Not recently, with the babe and all.


191. Watch The Office
Haven't. Might not.


192. Send Christmas cards
Some years, yes.


193. Write to your Compassion Child once a month
He turned 18 a while back.


194. Pray for him daily
I wish I would've been better at this. I wish I prayed more.


195. Get rid of two pairs of shoes for every new pair you buy
I did do this for awhile. Was a good practice.


196. Find a Bible study outside of Western Pennsylvania
I did, and then when we moved back, I found three more (though I've scaled back to just one again....might add another this semester).


197. Devise a list of verses to read every day for advent
I've decided to let the Revised Common Lectionary do the work for me. It's been fruitful.


198. Visit a lake
Yep.


199. Go swimming at least once
Yep, thankfully.


200. Go sledding
Crap. I don't know if I've gone sledding since the writing of this list.


201. Watch a James Bond movie without falling asleep
Not that I know of.


202. Go golfing
Yep. But not that much.


203. Wear earrings for a day
Bjorn and Aly's wedding.


204. Get one more belt
I didn't. And now the one that I had doesn't fit anymore.

205. Learn some guitar chords
I didn't learn anymore chords since the writing of this list...and I probably forgot the ones I knew.


206. Write a song
Nothing official


207. Maintain your eyebrows
Sometimes


208. Spit in a new ocean
Does the Baltic Sea count? Or whichever ocean is by Turkey?


209. Go to a Minnesota Twins game
Been to quite a few. Only one in MN, at Target Field.


210. Organize and update your quote calendar
Sadly, I don't even know where my quote calendar is.


211. Let bygones be bygones
Some.


212. Get rid of all the extra bags
Not sure what this was originally about, but even though we have a million cloth grocery bags, we still manage to accumulate a billion plastic ones. Lame. I would like to get rid of these eventually (they do make great small garbage can liners).


213. Wear sunscreen
In the summer, always


214. Acquire a frame for the map of the world
Haven't, but it is hanging in the baby's room.


215. Learn how to make plum jelly
Have made plum jelly twice since this list was written. The second batch turned out better than the first, and lasted for a long time.


216. Burn a candle until it is gone
Several.


217-226. Develop 10 new characters
Meh.


227. Create your own coffee shop
Only in my head. This isn't as strong of a dream as before.


228. Sing in front of an audience
I'm sure I have. But not as much as I used to.


229. Grow your own peas
Haven't tried.


230. Care more about people than their grammar
Really have been working on this. Have complimented a few people on their proper usage.


231. Get a manicure
Not sure if I did. Not a professional one at least.


232. Get a pedicure
See 231


233. Get a massage
I did. It was glorious.


234. Research the possibility and personal practicality of owning a bicycle
Got a bike. Rode it a few times. The seat got stolen. Has been chained to the bike rack ever since (over a year now).


235. Write a short story
Maybe. I don't know.


236. Write a long story
I have a good one in my head. No time to write it (or to research some of the things that I would need to research to make it a good story....it's sort of science-fiction-y)


237. Write an essay
Tons.


238. Write a letter to an editor
No, and I really don't want to either.


239. Finish this list
Not yet.


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