Monday, March 26, 2012

Fall Salad in the Spring!

Bailey is home for Spring Break! We are enjoying our time together. I planned the meals for this week with many things in mind. Bailey is in the middle of her outdoor racing season, it would be a bad time to indulge in the decadent desserts, Mexican food and pasta that we enjoy at Thanksgiving, Christmas and other speicial occasions. Following my 30 days of consecutive running I fell into my typical winter pattern of running only two days a week (more on this at another time). I rededicated myself to a running plan this morning and would like to eat healthy this week. Below is our dinner for Day 1 of the healthy eating week (we had Mexican food last night!!) This recipe was first printed in the October 2010 issue of Cooking Light magazine:

 Dean, as always, is our executive chef. We all loved this salad! The dressing was just right and did not over power or compete with the prosciutto or the Stilton cheese. Parker and Dean had Perogies as their main course with the salad on the side:   

Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts, and Stilton

1 T minced shallot
1 1/2 Ts. champagne or white wine vinegar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 dried apricot, finely chopped
3 Ts. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups torn green leaf lettuce leaves
2 cup thinly sliced Belgian endive (we substituted Butter head lettuce)
1/4  cup Stilton cheese, thinly sliced
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 (5 oz) package baby arugula
1 oz very thin sliced prosciutto, torn
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a blender. With blender on, slowly add oil; process until well combined. stir in salt and pepper.
2. Combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; add apricot mixture, tossing gently to coat. Yield: 4 servings. Calories: 294

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making Crosses Outside!!!!

It is a beautiful day here in Texas! We began our day in worship, then I taught the third graders (they were happy today), we went out for wonderful Mexican food and dined alfresco, and returned home. It was so pretty outside I was not ready to begin a project inside.

A friend (Janet) who helped inspire my cross making project sent me a photo a few weeks ago of 6 people's hands. They had joined their hands together in such a way that it made a cross. Someone got underneath their hands and took a photo looking up at the sky.

I thought this was a great idea. This picture was originally posted at Jesus Loves You. I did not have five or six friends nearby so I improvised. I enlisted Parker to be my assistant.

We got carried away and took other pictures in addition to the original sky idea.

This is my favorite son and loyal assistant, Parker! There are so many things I would not be able to do without the extra hand and the extra brain power of Dean, Bailey and Parker!

Just a thought on the first picture of the cross and the sky (even though there was not a cloud in the sky today): "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.". Acts 1:9

Making Crosses- 32 Days and Counting

I continue to enjoy this project. Here are my thoughts so far. I am posting each day's photo of the cross on Facebook. This has been very helpful because people seem to enjoy seeing them and many people say kind and encouraging things. This is very helpful with the perseverance and accountability needed to do something every day even if you do not have time or don't feel like it that day. I do need to make sure that my focus stays on Christ.

It is challenging to make a cross every day that is interesting with the things available. I can see where I might later want to do a project where you make something once a week. Then you could use a day to plan and get ideas. Another day you could go out and search for materials or buy supplies that would leave 5 days to paint on a layer, let it dry, mold something, bake it, paper mache one day- paint the next, etc. Some of the things I wanted to do involved supplies I do not have on hand.  I want to buy a white paint pen and a white marker to use on black. I also want to buy a small box of crayons to do one of those pictures where you color very hard with the crayon in color, then you color over it with black - then you scratch away the black to reveal the colors below. When I was in elementary school we colored orange onto paper in this way, covered it in black crayon and then scratched on a jack-o-lantern. Is it strange that I remember that?

The two crosses above were made using Prismacolor markers. I love Prismacolor markers! Many years ago I noticed and liked the artwork of Mary Englebreit. One of her famous greeting cards pictures a little girl in a chair, I think she is surrounded by toys with a crown on her head and a royal cloak about her shoulders. The caption says "It's good to be Queen!". I read an article about Mary Englebreit and her work, she often uses Prismacolor markers. So I bought some. I love them! They make me happy. I have used them over the years to make three little pig birthday invitations, Christmas cards, newsletters, illustrations for an enrichment program and many other alien, cowboy, construction, pirate, dinosaur, Medieval,  Egypt, China--themed kid projects and decorations.

Below are the other crosses created this week. The "remember" cross is made from a post card mailed to me by my  friend Nanette from her Spring Break trip to Paris! Parker said it looked like something from a scrapbook and that's because I used scrapbook paper, scrapbook embellishments and scrapbook techniques to make it. There are two Zentangle crosses, an origami heart cross  (Instructions here) and a cross made by using the technique of quilling. The origami cross was very time consuming because I wanted to make an origami dove. I tried for at least half an hour to fold several sheets of origami paper into a dove. I could not figure it out. I was using instructions from an origami book, I then went back to the easy origami site and checked to see if Nancy Jenks had dove making instructions, alas she did not, but she did have heart instructions, so there it is. I am often constrained by my artistic limitations, the key is: Do not give up and make substitutions with skills you already have when necessary!

Bailey will be here this week. I plan to have her collaborate with me on some ideas and cross making projects. There will be another post today. It's a long story but it has to do with not being able to get Blogger to do what I want it to. In this case I would like to add text and some more pictures below the pictures at the bottom of this won't let me. Bailey will be here soon to solve all my Blogger problems. continued!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring, Spring Break and Bunnies

Spring has sprung. Bailey comes home tomorrow for Spring Break and Easter is approaching! In addition to making a cross a day I have been sprucing up the house for Easter. I realize that Easter has nothing to do with bunnies. Easter is the celebration of Christ rising from the dead after His crucifixion, as far as I know there were no bunnies involved! In celebrating Easter, some people leave behind the eggs and bunnies when their children outgrow the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Not me! Since we have bunnies in our home year round, what's a few more added at the onset of Spring? Here are a few of the bunnies that hang out with us every day:

Picture of Jackson taken today - he looks angry because he is! He did not want me to take his picture. This was the fourth picture I took. He kept hopping away or turning his back on me.


Cleo was asleep this afternoon (in her bunny castle) and couldn't be bothered to lift her head for the picture.

Here are more bunnies that can be found here year round.

Lest you believe we are bunny fanatics let me clarify that the most found decorative items in our home are family photos; there are also candles, teenager stuff, craft stuff and more stuff. There are also crosses.

One of the bouquets.
Okay, so back to Spring, Spring Break and the Easter Bunny. Last year, right before Bailey's Spring Break, the weather was dreary and cold. The entire winter had been dreary and cold as far as I was concerned and I desperately wanted to see green grass and flowers and feel some warm sunshine. I do not like for her to come home to our Texas from the very cold Missouri and find more of the same (cold, dreary). I needed to do something to celebrate Bailey's return and to bring some Spring into our life, not to mention prepare our hearts for Easter. I went to the florist. I had them make three arrangements, one large and two small to put in our family room and kitchen.

We loved the flowers and given the gloomy weather it was money well spent. This year we have had a mild winter and today, the day before Bailey comes home for Spring Break, it is sunny and warm! Very cheerful. Therefore, this year to celebrate Spring, Spring Break and Easter I bought a metal urn with a wire cage on top and another decorative bunny!

As with many of my ideas, Dean helped me pull this one together. He purchased an ivy for me and planted it in the urn. He also bought a bag of moss that I then put around the edges of the urn. The tray usually sits there and has been the backdrop for vases, flowers, two very funny ceramic chickens, a turkey at Thanksgiving and two gold reindeer at Christmas. Those are coffee beans on the bottom of the tray.

After my failed Smoothie pictures I took extra time and effort to photograph my little project. The results were comical not professional or artistic!

Parker is holding up a too-small poster board behind the bunny.
Parker is holding up a green table cloth behind the bunny! Perhaps I should have ironed the table cloth!

Despite no improvement in my attempts to 'stage' photographs, I like the way my idea turned out. Hopefully, I will not kill the ivy so that the urn and ivy can remain long after Easter has passed- to be joined by a summer creature or a bowl of fruit or maybe even another less-Easter looking bunny!

Here's Parker, photographer's assistant!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quiet Sound and High-reactive Fury

For someone whose blog is titled "Sound and Fury" (or as Bailey calls it "Unsound and Furry") it may seem odd that I would read and embrace the book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking". We all fall somewhere on a spectrum of personality traits. I probably fall on the Extrovert end of the spectrum. Yet I am an often unhappy and irritable extrovert. This book helped me understand my dissatisfaction with the extrovert life. On the personality tests and surveys, one of the key questions for establishing a person as an extrovert is that they are energized by being around people. Well I am absolutely energized by people and I am a big talker. The problem for me is that with too many people comes too much energy and too much talking. I prefer to think about what I am going to say before I say it but when I am around a large group of people I get caught up in the conversation and energy of the group and there is no way to know what I will say. In earlier years I would be disturbed by my chameleon-like qualities. I would hear myself saying things that I don't think I even meant. Not completely contradictory but more flip or off the cuff than I felt. It's like I get too wound up and then just blurt things out in an exaggerated way that later leaves me uncomfortable. I go home knowing I did not present my authentic self.  I also go home analyzing all snippets of conversation, remembering facial expression and "looks"  given by other people. I think this may be related to what Susan Cain refers to in her book as "highly reactive" personality or the sensitive personality.

Cain begins her book by showing us the historical change in our country from one that valued character to one that values personality. One example: "A popular 1899 manual called Character: The Grandest Thing in the World featured a timid shop girl who gave away her meager earnings to a freezing beggar, then rushed off before anyone could see what she'd done. Her virtue, the reader understood, derived not only from her generosity but also from her wish to remain anonymous...But by 1920, popular self-help guides had changed their focus from inner virtue to outer charm - "to know what to say and how to say it" as one manual put it."To create a personality is power", advised another".

She then points out the many repercussions of this shift in perspective. Cain says "We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal - the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight...We like to think that we value individuality... but all too often we admire one type of individual-the kind whose comfortable 'putting himself out there'".

In the book, the analogy is made that "Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man's world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are".

Cain discusses how our society's elevation of extrovert characteristics have shaped corporate structure, workplace environments, school curriculum and even church activities and programs. Cain believes it is a mistake to set up work, school and worship environments in such a way as to appeal to one type of personality while virtually alienating another (and in some cases more valuable) personality type. Cain points out that "without introverts the world would be devoid of the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, Chopin's nocturnes, Proust's In Search of Lost Time, Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, The Cat in the Hat, Charlie Brown, Schindler's List, E.T., Google and Harry Potter."

Cain makes a distinction between shyness and introversion: "Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating." Later in the book she says," Many introverts are also "highly sensitive", which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, they you're more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" or a well-turned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience." These are the parts of the book that sound like me. I discussed in a previous post that I nearly cried when I saw "The King's Speech" because it was so well acted and so well written.

"Quiet' contains a great deal of intriguing research on the subject of introversion. Particularly interesting are the studies that yield counterintuitive results. A management theorist, Jim Collins, began a research project to find out what characteristics made a company outperform its competition. He selected eleven successful companies to research in depth. Every single one of the companies was led by an unassuming man, "Those who worked with these leaders tended to describe them with the following words: quiet, humble,  modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated".

In addition to the results of many interesting research projects Cain discusses many famous examples of quiet types who achieved extraordinary things from Moses to Rosa Parks. In the interesting section on evangelical churches and personality Cain describes the tension between church and introversion. She quotes author and evangelical pastor, Adam McHugh: "The emphasis is on community, on participating in more and more programs and events, on meeting more and more people. It's a constant tension for many introverts that they're not living that out. And in a religious world, there's more at stake when you feel that tension. It doesn't feel like"I'm not doing as well as I'd like.' It feels like"God isn't pleased with me'". McHugh has written a book, Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture, that I have added to my to-read list (one thing leads to another).

When I posted on FB that I had read and recommended Quiet, one friend commented that she had been called "selfish" by someone at her church because of her personality. In the reviews on Amazon of Introverts in the Church, one reviewer stated:   "More than 10 years ago a good friend and fellow missionary scolded me for being a "recluse", for being "selfish with my time" and "too inside" my head.... I discovered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which helped me understand my own temperament. Not only did it affirm those things which were not flaws, but God-created characteristics, it helped me develop those traits in healthy ways." Cain points out the all too common problem in some churches,  "It's not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly. Is it any wonder that introverts like Pastor McHugh start to question their own hearts?"

On a personal note I try to balance time with people verses time alone. I love to listen to people tell their stories. I love to talk! I absolutely love to connect with people over deep thoughts and ideas or profound experiences.  On the other hand I get overwhelmed by too much activity and too many people and I like to spend time alone. I like to think I can be delightful with people but if the balance between people time and alone time gets out of whack then I become more socially awkward and ridiculous and I feel less authentic.

I also like to think I am creative, on this Cain observes: "One of the most interesting findings, echoed by later studies, was that the more creative people tended to be socially poised introverts. They were interpersonally skilled but 'not of an especially sociable or participative temperament".

There is so much more in this book; from research that disproves the effectiveness of brainstorming (thank goodness) to studies that show performance gets worse as group size increases. One study made me laugh. Bailey has taken several personality and vocational tests over the years in preparation to go to college. She is currently a successful Computer Science and Engineering major at Mizzou. I will mention that she is intelligent (and is currently on the Dean's list) so that you understand why we were astonished with the results of one of her personality oriented vocational tests. The test revealed that she was best suited to the vocation of bus driver! The study mentioned in Cain's book (the one that made me laugh) stated: "high reactives become writers or pick other intellectual vocations where "you're in charge: you close the door, pull down the shades and do your work...(those from less educated backgrounds tend to become file clerks and truck drivers"). Apparently it was a personality trait that drove the bus driver result...what a relief!

That is what is wonderful about Quiet, I saw myself in it as a sensitive, high-reactive, I saw my children in it, I saw friends in it and in every instance our various non-extroverted qualities were portrayed as assets to be highly valued. Cain acknowledges the need for both extroverts and introverts and that each has something wonderful and diverse to offer to society, very much like the body of Christ. We are all of one body, but there are many parts to the body, with different roles to play.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Raising Up My Ebenezer

Scrooge in Scripture?













 As I continue my topical study of stones in the Bible I was delighted to come across a reference I remember from the past: A stone set up by Samuel called "Ebenezer". I have no trouble remembering this reference because I always think of Ebenezer Scrooge but I can never remember what Ebenezer means. What happens in my brain that such an outstanding Dickensian image can be retained as well as the entire plot line for A Christmas Carol, yet no matter home many times I look this up...I cannot remember what Ebenezer means. I can also remember obscure song lyrics but have no idea where I left my glasses. 

Once and for all (I’m being optimistic), here is the explanation. As we have discussed, stones in the Bible can represent Memory Pillars. They can be set up to remember a vow we have made as in the case of Jacob or in the Ebenezer example, set up to commemorate the occasion of God’s provision of victory in battle.
Twenty years have passed since the ark of the covenant had been taken to Kiriath-jearim (1 Samuel 7:2). Apparently some of the Israelites had begun to worship other gods.  Samuel told the Israelites to dedicate themselves to the Lord and worship only the Lord. He promised that if they did this then God would rescue the Israelites from the dreaded Philistines. The Israelites removed the Baals and other things and only worhsipped the Lord.
While the Israelites were meeting in Mizpah the Philistines marched toward them to overtake them. The Israelites asked Samuel to continue and to not stop crying out to God on their behalf. Samuel offered a burnt offering to the Lord for them.
Verse 10 says (and I love this part) “The Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they fled before Israel.” I have a list of people I would like the Lord to thunder loudly against! I should be careful, I might be on someone’s list as well. The men of Israel pursued the Philistines and struck them down.

“Samuel took a stone and set it upright between Mizpah and Shem. He named it Ebenezer explaining, “The Lord has helped us to this point”. (1 Samuel 7;12).
So here is the part where I look up the meaning of Ebenezer once again, (this information was gathered here.

The word "Ebenezer" comes from Hebrew and is actually two words pronounced together: Even Haazer. Written in Hebrew it looks like this:

It is usually transliterated as a proper name by dropping the definite article (Ha) from the Hebrew word for "help" (Ezer) and putting it together with the Hebrew word for "stone" (Even) to create: "Ebenezer." The etymological roots of the word, thus defined, should demonstrate that an "Ebenezer" is, literally, a "Stone of Help."...Literally speaking, an Ebenezer is a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid.

Hebrew word for “help” is Ezer.  Hebrew word for “stone” is Even. Stone of Help. Unfortunately, Hebrew and Greek are so unfamiliar to me that I cannot form word associations for them. If it were Latin then I might be able to picture the word or relate it to my very limited Spanish vocabulary. ‘Help’ doesn’t look like EZER. ‘Stone’ doesn’t look like EVEN or EBEN. 
I am trying those memory tricks (as I type this) where you make up a picture in your mind with all the words you are supposed to remember on a table with objects that remind you of the words. Hmm. Samuel (who is dressed as Scrooge), let’s call him Ebenezer Samuel, is standing behind a table. There are dead Philistines lying on the ground behind him (you can tell they are Philistines because they have the letter “P” on their tunics). Ebenezer Samuel places a big rock on the table, written on the big rock is EVEN (this doesn’t really help because the word is Ebenezer not Evenezer). Next, God thunders (because I like that part of the story)- that can be a lightening bolt in our picture. Across the lightening bolt is written EZER in bright red superman letters. It could be that I’m not very good at this word picture memory thing. 

 It could be that when I next sing, “Come thou fount of every blessing” and come to the second verse, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come..." that I will continue to have no idea what I’m singing and will yet again have to look it up. The author of the helpful information quoted previously, Dr. Gregory S. Neal, commented in his article that every time he sings that hymn he “cannot shake the mental image of someone holding up Ebenezer Scrooge.” 
Regardless of the unintended whimsy of this reference, it brings up a good point. An Ebenezer stone was the stone set up by Samuel to remember and honor the help God had given the Israelites. The Word of God is my Ebenezer. I am so fortunate to have God’s word, written in so many easily understood translations to remind me that God has helped me in the best way possible. He has provided eternal salvation for me through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Dr. Neal said in his article:

an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the Sacramental Elements, a cross, a picture, a fellow believer, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, God’s Real Presence, and God’s assistance are "Ebenezers."

In a general sense that may be true but it seems that God deliberately gave us The Word, His Son, The Cornerstone to be our everlasting Ebenezer, the rock who helps. I am probably getting ahead of myself by including the cornerstone before actually reading all the verses on stones. However, these are the verses I was thinking of, verses about Jesus as the Word and a precious cornerstone:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with god in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1: 1-5

Therefore the Lord said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable. Isaiah 28:16
Sometimes in our rush to application I think we can get too general, maybe sometimes God is more specific than we think. Maybe anything CAN be an Ebenezer, maybe not. Either way it is safe to say that Jesus is our rock, our salvation, a tested cornerstone and He is our Ebenezer, our stone of help.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

No Stone Unturned (almost)

Picture taken in Carmel, CA July 2011, these are not stones I would want to touch much less turn over! Birds are fascinating, bird poop, not so much.

In the first installment of my topical study of stones in the Bible I optimistically and perhaps in a cavalier manner stated that I would leave "no stone unturned" implying that I would look up every reference to stones in the Bible. Well...I may actually leave at least a few categories of stones unturned.

In Rick Warren's Bible Study Methods, Twelve Ways You Can Unlock God's Word, Warren says, "Be thorough. As far as possible, find and study every verse that relates to the topic. The only way to know everything God has said on a topic is to go through the entire Bible and find all the passages on that topic." Hmm. According to Zondervan NIV, Nave's Topical Bible there are about 58 separate references (more verses) on the literal use of stones. There are about 21 verses on the figurative and symbolic use of stones.

There are additional references for precious stones and also many, many references for stones used for stoning people. For this reason, and I hope Rick Warren won't mind, I will limit my study to the literal, figurative and symbolic stones and will omit the precious stones and stones used for stoning people. My study will include stones used for building, stones used for remembering events, stones that can cause someone to stumble and stones that in some way describe Christ or the Spirit.

This week I was particularly "struck" (no pun intended) by the stones that are used to mark occasions that are to be remembered, the topical Bible calls them Memory Pillars. In Genesis 28:18-22 Jacob took the stone that had been near his head while he slept and dreamed and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel. Jacob then made a vow that if God would protect him on this journey and would bring him back safely then the Lord would be Jacob's God. God has just given Jacob a dream of the stairway with angels walking up and down from earth to heaven. God has  promised in the dream to give Jacob the land he has been sleeping on. Initially the vow sounded to me like second guessing God and also, are we allowed to make these kinds of deals with God? The New Bible Commentary* says that "as long as the votary
 performs his vow, the Old Testament does not discourage them...Vows are not necessarily bargaining with God, rather they can express our dependence on him. Nor was Jacob's vow here an expression of unbelief in the promises just made to him, for all petitionary prayer is based on God's promises to provide for our needs (Mt. 6:11 with 6:25-34)".  I really like it when the commentary actually answers the questions that I have!!

Many of my prayers lately have been based on God's promises to provide. Jesus told us to pray: "Give us this day our daily bread..." I am so tempted to pray for tomorrow's bread and next month's bread. And I want to see tangible results. Jacob wanted more than just his extraordinary dream. He wanted something in the waking world to signify God's promise and provision. He took the rock that had been beside his head during that remarkable dream and he poured oil over it. I tried to think of how I could pour oil over my requests before God. I've been in a church service where we wrote our prayer requests on a piece of paper and then walked up to the altar and put them up on a wall. I've heard of people writing sins on a piece of paper and then burning the paper to symbolize the confession and turning from the sin. We as people seem to need something we can touch, see, read or hold, something tangible. My desire is that God's Word, His promises would become as real to me as the stone by Jacob's head was to him, that Jesus and His saving grace would be such a big stone of faith that nothing could move it. I hope that by meditating on God's Word and His promises it will be as if I were pouring oil over my little stone of faith. May my stone of faith grow larger every day and be so real that I can reach out and touch it.


*I will take a moment to express my thoughts on commentaries. I like them! For those of us without formal theological training and with limited time they can be a great tool. I do not think commentaries can be substituted for scripture, nor do they carry the weight of scripture, nor are they definitive. They are a tool. Sometimes when I read scriptures that confuse me I will ask God to help me understand the difficult passage in the way He intended it. I will ask for wisdom. Sometimes I will get a new insight or suddenly see the passage in a new way but sometimes I simply do not have the knowledge (culture of the time, Greek language, Hebrew language) to get the true picture. At those times I benefit from the writings and knowledge of others; always remembering that the words of others (even brilliant scholars) are not scripture. One of the questions I always ask when reading what someone else has written about the Bible is: "Does this make sense with regard to other things that the Bible says?, Is it consistent with what I already know about God and His character from the Bible?".

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Making a Cross and Pancakes on St. Patrick's Day

I'll begin with the St. Patrick's Day portion of this post. In honor of St. Patrick's Day and all things GREEN I made green pancakes! I have mentioned before that Parker has an aversion to all things green, this only applies to food. Green is actually his favorite color. Anyway, he enthusiastically began to eat his pancakes but I could tell by the surprise in his voice when he said, "These are good" that he suspected I had put vegetables in them. I made them with Bisquick mix and added vanilla and a little bit of sugar and also green food coloring. We loved them!

Now for the cross making part of the day! The internet is filled with inspiration and sometimes it is overwhelming. Sometimes something kind of ordinary will jump out at you. Perhaps on another day I would have passed it by but today I took a closer look. This is the graphic that caught my attention this morning:  from Clay Pot Ideas on Facebook.

 This picture gave me the idea to arrange the names of Jesus in the shape of a cross. It would be like a "things to remember" board, where you  tape up the names of who He really is so you don't forget. This week I needed to remember that He is the Prince of Peace, the Bright and Morning Star, He is wonderful, He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.He is The Corner Stone.

The names of Jesus with scripture references are found here. I did not use all the names. Around the edge of the project I wrote the lyrics for the chorus of the Casting Crowns song, My Savior Lives. Video with lyrics are here on You Tube. I have this song on my nano and I love to listen to it while I run. Jesus is so many things to me, Savior, Redeemer, Counselor but the one thing that matters most is that He Lives! He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the END.

Friday, March 16, 2012

So Far So Good, 24 Days of Making Crosses

something green and glittery!
Making crosses every day has become more challenging this week. A trip to the ER for a pill stuck in my throat did not help. I know this is TMI (too much information) but you will wonder why one of the crosses is made out of hospital bracelets. Wonder no more!
 I made this cross by painting card stock with watercolors. I then wrote the Armor Of God verses (Ephesians 6:10-18) on the cross, then I used watercolor crayons to write "Faith" and accentuate the edges. We are memorizing these verses with the third graders in my Sunday School class. They  have such quick memories. I am struggling with the verses. The first four were great, but now my slightly older than third grade brain is rejecting any further verses. It's a battle I must win!

The hospital bracelet cross!
"And God said, Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to it's kind. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:20-21 :)

Even though this has been a challenging week, I still find peace in knowing that God is with me. I especially enjoyed drawing the little animals on the cross I made today. I love to think about the vast variety of creatures that God has made for us to enjoy and be fascinated with. I think I enjoy trying to create pretty things because I am made in the image of the Great Creator. It doesn't matter what the finished "product" looks like, it matters that I find joy in the process of making it just as God must have when He created the world and all that is in it and then pronounced it was "good".

Monday, March 12, 2012

One Thing Leads to Another - again and again!

stones from our flower bed, this is better than the smoothie picture!
Today, two different projects came together to lead me to a third and really my 6 mile run sealed the deal! I am about 6 days behind in my goal to Read The Bible in a Year. I've mentioned before I am reading chronologically through the bible on You Version. Currently I am in Joshua. I am also in the middle of my project of making crosses. My goal is to make a cross every day leading up to Easter. Today was day 20 of making crosses!

While I was reading in Joshua today I noticed that "Stones" came up quite often in these few chapters and for different reasons. First, the stones were used as memorial markers to remember that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan so that the Israelites crossed on dry ground.

Joshua 4:20-24

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
20 Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, 21 and he said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ 22 you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. 24 This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the LORD’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the LORD your God.”

Next I read about Achan. Achan kept for himself some treasures that he coveted from the spoils that had been taken at the fall of Jericho. He buried these things in the ground in his tent. Joshua confronted Achan who admitted his crimes. Achan was stoned to death and they raised a pile of rocks over his burned body.

 25 Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? Today the LORD will trouble you!” So all Israel stoned them[a] to death. They burned their bodies,[b] threw stones on them, 26 and raised over him a large pile of rocks that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from His burning anger. Therefore that place is called the Valley of Achor[c] to this day.

And it was when I next read of an altar being built of uncut stones that I began to wonder about the pattern.  

30 At that time Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal to the LORD, the God of Israel, 31 just as Moses the LORD’s servant had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the book of the law of Moses: an altar of uncut stones on which no iron tool has been used. Then they offered burnt offerings to the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings on it. 32 There on the stones, Joshua copied the law of Moses, which he had written in the presence of the Israelites

I began to wonder about the corner stone and all the references to the Lord as our rock. This has been in the back of my mind since my friend Denise brought it up with regard to one of my earlier crosses.

This led me to make a cross today that involved stones. The cross did not turn out as I had seen it in my mind's eye. After making the cross I decided to run 6 miles. I often think and pray while running or sometimes I just zone out. About half-way through the run I thought I should do a word study on stones. God is the ultimate creator. He creates in ways we do not understand and hidden in His word are images that mean more than we know unless we take the time to follow them throughout scripture. So reading the bible in a year led to making a cross which led to doing a word study on stones.  One thing leads to another.

So far I have looked up verses about the ten commandments written on stones. The standout here is when the Bible says that they were "stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God".  The tablets were broken by Moses and God gave them to him again.

Joshua later renewed the covenant and he copied the laws of Moses on an altar of uncut stones. I have read about houses (in the Bible) made of stone and I finished today by beginning the verses about the stones used to build the Temple. I am not halfway through the verses for the literal stones- once I look up those I will begin the verses that talk about figurative stones. I am excited to get the big picture.  I will leave no stone unturned! ha ha.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Making Crosses Continued

Making Crosses: Day 11
In the past when I have given up something or added something for a set time I typically lose focus. I may keep doing whatever I have said I will do or not doing what I said I wouldn't do but these things become another thing on my to-do list, something to put a check by and move on. Making crosses has been different. I look forward to making the crosses every day and so it becomes not just another thing that has to be done but something I am excited about. I think God would be pleased if I approached all my commitments this way. I have to say that I have not brought the same enthusiasm to my reading in Numbers and Deuteronomy (for the read-the-Bible in a year plan)!

Making Crosses: Day 12
I "tangled" this cross using Knight's cross, Mod Box and some other Zentangles. I love tangling the crosses because it is very relaxing. I have been playing my Bible reading for the day in the background from You Version while I tangle. Once I get into the groove of making the particular pattern it is easy to focus on the scriptures playing in the background. I have to pause the reading when I begin a new pattern but soon I can begin it again.

I made these crosses for the Awesome Bible Study Ladies to commemorate the end of our study of James! These, too, had a meditative quality once I memorized the folding sequence. After the first five or so, they were easy to make. I found the directions for these crosses at Easy Origami Crafts.

Making Crosses: Day 14
Making Crosses: Day 15
Making Crosses: Day 17
I used a stamp of the mason jar and then cut out crosses to go inside. I thought the crosses were like us, little fireflies caught in a big world. Because of Christ we can shine our light in the dark mason jar of our world. I loved catching fireflies when I was little, we called them lightening bugs!

Making Crosses: Day 16
The white base puzzle cross was something I purchased from Michael's or Hobby Lobby. I found it in the craft cabinet and decided to do a different Zentangle pattern on each piece. I tried many new patterns and made lots of mistakes! I enhanced the photo by taking it with a phone app called Awesome Camera. Awesome camera allowed me to add the border and darken the picture.

One of the choices on the app is to "awesomize" your photo! My photos (and my crafts) need all the awesomizing they can get!  There are lots of jokes about "there's an app for that", I can understand why. It would be great to be doing something and then press the awesomize app and suddenly whatever you are doing is hazy in a moody and exciting way. I would really like to walk around with a soft focus lens app for my appearance! I know I would look amazing softened by a fuzzy glow! Or better yet, there could be a "What Would Jesus Do" app that would change my demeaner and my words into something that really does shine a light in our world rather than the complaint, the grimace or the irritation I was about to display.

The problem with an app like that or with the "easy button" is that if we use it we do not learn or grow. I use many iphone camera apps to enhance my photos. I have not learned how to take better pictures, how to use lighting properly, how to use my photo software on my computer or added in any way to my knowledge of photography. If  I had to learn how to enhance the photo through time and effort I could build a base of knowledge and skill that I could use again and again, preparing me for future picture taking. My words and actions are often incorrectly lit and poorly staged; if there was an app for that I would not give the time and effort to God's Word that is needed to grow and change. Convenience and efficiency are wonderful but sometimes quality and depth require that we give time and effort.