Friday, April 25, 2008


More painting today. We are still not moved into the new house, because there are so many walls and ceilings with cigarette smoke stains, and hideously dark-brown cabinets, and I begin to wonder if there's any point in scrubbing paint off myself when I'm only going to get another coat. ;) We're getting it done, but probably won't be seriously moving stuff over there until school's out.

Things to be thankful for:
  • millions (so it seems to me, their painter) of kitchen cabinets
  • the fresh, clean look of what we've done so far
  • a mother of incredible indefatigable energy, patience, and hope
  • being able to listen to lots of exciting audio books from the library
  • manual labor that, in moments of quiet, provides great opportunity for story-plotting!
  • a tangible metaphor*

*I realized last night, in the midst of a grumpy attitude and desperate slopping-on of paint, that a Christian's sanctification is a little like a house being painted. It seems to take forever, needing several more coats at least, and still there are bad brush strokes and sloppy drips, but we mustn't stop seeking perfection because we can't get there all at once. Persevere! Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! And oh the glory when the dingy, dark, and dirty is covered slowly in glorious white! I couldn't keep being quite so grumpy after all those thoughts came rushing in. :-)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


It can be challenging to set our sights on excellence, particularly when we're hearing that we're already there. One of life's great lessons, which we all must learn, could be expressed in the phrase, "That was nothing. Watch this." Challenge yourself and others to call the normal things normal and save that word excellent for things that really are.

~From a letter quoted in Do Hard Things~

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Misty-Morninged Tuesday

This morning was misty, softened in wet fog that moistened branches, gathering, to fall in a whispering rumor of rain. The air was not cold, just cool enough to be crisp and refreshing.

Now the sun's come out and the mist is vanished. Soon I'll be off on my weekly grocery shopping, but first I must say something about yet another book.

This abundance of good books I've lately been in should make me wary- what if I'm soon to run out? ;) I suppose then I'd just have to work harder at writing my own, and/or begin re-reading old favorites.

Anyway, I just finished reading the
The Little White Horse, and I'm left with a joyous satisfaction. It was lovely, a cozy sort of beautifully written tale, almost a modern-day fairy tale...except it's set in the 1800's, and written before the Chronicles of Narnia, so it's not quite modern, especially not in a bad way. It had bits of mystery and danger, though some might not like the overflowing cozy sweetness of it. Some also might not like the suggestions that lots of children are a blessing, pride and curiosity can be a curse, and one of a woman's high duties is to love and honor her man. I loved it especially for those reasons! It had a few strange parts to it, I admit, and I'm not sure about all the author's theology, but for the most part I highly recommend this one, especially if you like the works of L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and George MacDonald.

My only other recent news is that yesterday I successfully made two Good Shepherd Pies! As my mother said, it is very hearty, simple food, and doesn't really take special ingredients but it takes either a lot of time or plenty of hands. Because I've never made it before, and because it to so long, I count it a good challenge that I took on, though it gave me sore feet from running about the kitchen so much! ;) But I think I could go faster next time. Everyone ate it, and there was still plenty for left-overs, so I count that meal a definite success!

(I know I must learn to take better pictures, but at least we're getting one here!)

P.S. I was excited to use freshly-ground pastry whole wheat for the crust. Though it could have been flakier, and I'll have to work on it, it was definitely lighter and less tough than crust made with regular whole wheat.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How it should be

And when the Old Parson read the Bible to his people, he did not read it in the sing-song sort of way that the parsons in London had read it, a way that had made one want to go to sleep. He read it as though it were tremendously exciting; dispatches dictated on a battlefield, or a letter written only yesterday and bringing great news. And when he preached, taking as his subject the glorious beauty of the world, and the necessity for praising God for it every moment of the day or else standing convicted of an ingratitude so deep that it was too dreadful even to be spoken of, it was as thrilling as a thunderstorm.

~from The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge~

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Remembering His Benefits

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget none of His benefits;

~Psalm 103:1,2~

Way back when I was a smallish child of six, I wrote my first journal entry.

Translation: “One day, me, Sam, and Mama went to a wedding.”

It was my first wedding to attend, and I was duly impressed (both with the ceremony and, of course, the cake and punch afterwards!) so I apparently thought it an event deserving of record. This morning I got out that first old journal to read, laugh over, and remember. I might share some especially funny entries later, if anyone would like to see them. :-)

I’ve been thinking – for all my years of journaling (my spelling and handwriting have improved just a little, and perhaps I'm more wordy now), how often have I deliberately written careful letters and thoughts for future generations? Am I actively seeking to record God’s providences in my life? Am I keeping a record of my life story to pass on to my children so they can see that God’s faithfulness? And am I seeking to always remember, myself?

I can look at that first journal entry now and be grateful for so much. Attending that wedding was one of many opportunities my mother took to teach me that marriage is wonderful and serious, a promise before God meant to last a lifetime. I’m sure I wore a dress, and I can be thankful that I was always provided with only modest clothes, no matter how young I was. I was six, and that made me remember that I’d already learned to read and started to write (some might look at my scribbling and phonetically-correct spelling and disagree!), and the “One day” beginning showed my early love of stories.

I’ve been reminded again just how surely thankfulness cures misery, boredom, and plain old grumpiness. Not saying a vague and hurried, “Thanks, God, for everything… now, make everything better, please.” Um, nope. Not that I would know that doesn’t work from experience. *cough*

Of course we can be brief in our prayers, and of course when we don’t know specifics of something, God does. But I think He likes us to be specific when we can. And it’s so good for us! I find this in the (to often procrastinated) joy of writing thank-you notes. To write them, to speak of specific things people have done for me, is to remember my blessings and how special people are to me.

And thanking the Lord, especially recording those blessings, is a great way to glorify and delight in Him.

Here, the shepherd-poet David remembers God’s benefits to him:

Who pardons all your iniquities;
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit;
Who crowns you with lovingkindess and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
~Psalm 103:3-5~

A truly thankful heart is a delight, because it focuses on what we’ve already been given, on remembering, on pondering God’s faithfulness. Even if it’s only through the clumsy scribbles of a child, our Father is glorified. And though we’re only on earth for part the Great Story, even our frail hands can help in the telling.

(Image: Frodo writing in the Red Book, from The Return of the King)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do Hard Things - book review

This is what we call the Rebelution: throwing off the shackles of lies and low expectations and returning our generation to a true and very exciting understanding of the teen years—not as a vacation from responsibility but as a launching pad for the rest of our lives.

~Alex and Brett Harris, from their new book Do Hard Things~

I pre-ordered several copies of this book, knowing it would be above average. It finally came, and indeed, it’s not your everyday book written by teens. (Um, there aren’t many of those, are there? Let’s say it’s not your everyday book, period.)

In the book, the Harris twins offer an expanded, in-depth look at the rebelutionary concept of doing hard things. They talk about the myth of adolescence and the potential the teen years hold. They detail five kinds of Hard Things. And they show practical ways they can be accomplished. Much of the content is familiar to me since it’s similar to articles on their blog, but it’s great to have a book-length look at Doing Hard Things.

It’s challenging. Maybe especially to those of us already past our teen years who know we could be doing more, striving for bigger and better things, and we don’t even have the excuse of being teenagers anymore. Of course, part of the whole point of the book is that being a teen is no excuse, and that they should and can rebel against low expectations. But the Do Hard Things mindset is something all Christians should have. It’s just incredibly sensible, useful, fulfilling, and possible to do so at an early age.

The stories are probably the most challenging parts of the book, since they are real-life (historical and modern) examples of teens doing real-life hard things from overcoming sickliness, buying and learning to use recording equipment, running political campaigns, beating procrastination (ouch!), designing top-quality survey programs, captaining ships, and more. Alex and Brett also do a consistent, thoughtful job of backing their points with Scripture, making their message all the more powerful.

I’m not quite finished with the book. It’s a good length. The cover design is really cool. It has an intro by Chuck Norris, if that interests anyone. (Half a year ago, I had no clue who this cool guy was who got all the jokes made about him…”You don’t know who Chuck Norris is?!?!?” was usually followed by uninformative silence. Now I know he’s a real person, not some mythical character, and I chiefly think he’s cool because he’s a Christian and admires the Harris twin’s character and message.)

I may put up more quotes from the book later, or talk about some hard things I’m attempting. For now, I recommend buying the book (or here's a cheaper autographed one) and/or reading the blog. These guys have a message that is changing lives because of its grounding in truth. I think God is using it to change mine, and only time and effort will tell where He’ll take me next.