29 March 2013

reads for your weekend

In light of the goings on this week, here a few reads that made me think. Some of these are new reads; some I've read in the past months but find them appropriate for this week. As we remember and celebrate this Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, I pray that God stirs your heart and draws you to Him. He's a great God, even though His followers aren't good. But some of us are trying. Even then our sinful nature pokes through. We try to do good, but we don't. This is nothing new.

For those who are hurting or feel ashamed or don't know what to believe or have been called an unbeliever or just want to go to the basement until the storm passes:

(A follow-up to In the Basement, a favorite read.) 
This isn't some Christian commune. This is a way of representing the Gospel. It is about our hearts and words, reaching across party lines and believing that love is the most excellent way, even in the hard stuff. It's about becoming slave to everyone to win anyone to Christ--quite the opposite of "defending our rights" all the time. In the basement, people matter. All of them. And we've discovered that kindness and dignity do wonders for forging healthy dialogue, especially the difficult ones.  
But if we can turn our attention away from these provocative comments and come alongside those who are earnestly and humbly seeking to know how to view this issue through the lens of Scripture with the help of the Spirit, I think there can be more to the conversation.  
I want to sit down with you today in order to offer confession and repentance on behalf of myself and my Christian brothers and sisters, because I believe reconciliation begins with confession and repentance. Please understand that many Christians will never stop believing homosexuality to be sinful, but the topic of whether or not it is a sin before God is not something I am interested in discussing today. If I were to try to begin with that discussion, I would be struggling to see around the plank in my eye in order to evaluate, weigh, and measure the speck in yours.
Wanna hear something crazy? I made a bigger difference in the gay community through that one sermon than I have in over 10 years of ministry. Why? 
Because it was the first time I really cared about gay people and they could tell.
That night I shook hands, hugged and became friends with several gay people (most of who disagreed with me theologically). I also got emails from others who admitted they’ve always felt hated by Jesus and the church until that night. 
But Sammy, (what some of you are thinking right now), how do you love someone whose actions or behaviors you find really unacceptable?  How can I love someone who I believe is living in sin? Great question. Do your thing Mr. C.S Lewis. 
“There is someone that I love even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is……me.”
(If you can’t say amen, say ouch).
  • Sex | Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary
But. If you've already gone down that path, you knocked boots, you got 'er done, you did the nasty.... and now you're not sure, or maybe you feel dirty and you're rocking the walk-of-shame-face day in and day out, you need to hear this -- I mean it, you really need to hear this...
You've had sex outside of marriage? *gasp* So what! You are so much more than your sexuality. And the God of the Universe, the one who turns whores into heroes, and drunks into prophets, and liars and murderers into leaders and kings - that God? He made peace with you and me and our promiscuous, pathetic attempts at love a long, long time ago. He gave you a Redeemer. Shame is no longer your burden. 

27 March 2013

laundry powder, take 2

Last March, I made laundry powder for the first time. Y'all, I saved a bunch of money. (Which I spent in other areas.) I just made my third batch, so I only spent $30 on laundry powder for the entire year. I realize that when we have children, it won't last as long, but I think it will be totally worth it, even then.

I made a few changes to make it stronger. I added more soap (increased from one bar to three) and tons more essential oil. It works so well! I add a little white distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. I'm super happy with my laundry. Except the folding part. (And no worries, you won't smell like vinegar if you use it in the rinse.)

Homemade Laundry Powder
3 bars Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
1 box (55 oz) Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 box (76 oz) 20 Mule Team Borax
1 small container (32 oz) Clorox Oxi Magic (bleach-free)
4 lbs Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
10 "shakes" of essential oil, optional

Using a food processor, grate Fels-Naptha Bar Soap; also, have blade in place at bottom to make smaller crumbles of soap. In a large bowl or bucket, mix all powders, and then add grated soap. At this point, you can stop; add 4 good shakes of essential oil and stir really well. I choose to process mine a bit further to have a really fine laundry powder. I wanted to be sure it dissolved well. I ran small batches back through my food processor, and then added essential oil. I bought a large glass jar for the soap that sits on my dryer.

*I use 1-3 tablespoons per load, depending on a small, medium or large load. (I saved the scoop that came in the Oxi Magic.)
*If you can't find or don't like the idea of Fels-Naptha, you can use Ivory, Zote or castile soap.
*I'm sure you can substitute other brands of ingredients. I found all of mine, except for baking soda, on the laundry aisle. Just look on the bottom shelves.
*There is a debate about the toxicity of borax. I did appropriate research and found that it LARGE amounts it can be toxic to rats. Since I only use 1-3 tablespoons per load, depending on the size of my load, I feel that the clothes are sufficiently rinsed of borax. Also, borax does not contain boric acid, which is toxic.
* This soap doesn't suds. Soap (laundry, hand soap, etc) has a foaming agent added. Although we don't have an HE washer, I've read that this soap works well with those machines.

26 March 2013

tuesday things

1. I have two brackets for March Madness. I haven't watched a single basketball game all season. I know nothing about the teams. I won't watch any March Madness. Last year I chose based on which team colors and/or mascot I prefer. It didn't work well. This year, I decided to go mostly with those expected to win and chose a few upsets. Again, poor way to choose a bracket. Both of my brackets are busted. In one tournament, I'm ranked 63 out of 85; the other ranks me third from the last. Too bad my bracket name in the second one is "I'll Probably Win." Definitely not a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2. I am so excited that this is a four day week. In fact, my excitement got the best of me as I just realized that I'm not on my third day of the four day week. I only have two more mornings with an alarm until next Tuesday. I love working at a private school.

3. As reported last week, I had artichoke for the first time. And this week, I cooked them for the very first time. It was a success. Thirty minutes in boiling water plus five or so minutes on the grill (cut in half) makes for a great artichoke. For dipping, I mixed some sriracha with a bit of mayonnaise. Oh, yum.

4. I recently discovered Thrift Books. I love books and have an Amazon wish list a mile long, plus a stack at home that I haven't read. For some reason, books on my wish list are always more appealing than my actual books. But when I order from Amazon, I feel the need to order just enough to qualify for the free supersaver shipping. That means $25 minimum. (Though I can usually score three books for that cost.) But then I stumbled upon, thriftbooks.com. It's great, y'all. The books are less than $4 and it's free shipping. What?! I still can't figure out how they make money, but before they figure out they're losing money, I'm taking advantage of them. I will say that their quality for "good" or "great" doesn't match Amazon. They come a little more banged up, but for less than $4, I'll take it.

22 March 2013

reads for your weekend

"I’m hungry for a church less known for sanctimony and more for their shocking intervention for hungry babies and human trafficking and racism and injustice. Christianity is too thrilling to reduce to middle/upper-middle class First World Problems, encapsulated in issues and gauged by a nebulous moral compass that lost its bearing decades ago.
"Every child deserves a family. If it can’t be through unification with biological parents, then it needs to be through a more rapid process for adoption. This stands in opposition to a long drawn out process taking an average of three or more years while the child remains institutionalized during their most significant developmental years."
"So, I want you to know that I’m not jealous. When I hold your baby, I don’t wish she was mine. When I hear that you’re expecting, I don’t envy you. When I see an ultrasound picture of your little life form, I don’t wish that image was nestled in my own uterus."
"It is easy to spout trite Christian platitudes designed to make people feel better with bumper-sticker theology. But insipid axioms do little in the face of the actual brokenness of the world."
"This particular statement, that 'God won’t give you more than you can handle,' isn't even in the Bible. There is a statement that sounds like it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” But notice that verse is about temptation. That’s it. You won’t be tempted beyond what you can stand up against. This text is not saying that you will not experience more than you can bear. That idea just isn't Biblical." 
"...Treebeard answers, 'This is not our war.' Merry’s response is simple, and powerful – 'But you’re part of this world!'...We ARE part of this world, and as such are seen by God as part of the solution to things like foster care/adoption." 
"I should have blocked off thirty minutes to an hour Saturday night and gotten those chores done. I should have done whatever I needed to do to pave the way for a morning of reconnecting with Him after a busy week and weekend."
"I am not ashamed of this great cloud of witnesses, kicking up dust ahead of me on the path. They are hermits and homemakers and sinners and saints and pilgrims and poets and mothers and activists and peacemakers and friends. They bind up wounds and stand up to bullies and offer rides and listen well and make meals and let things go and work hard and fail sometimes. But they keep telling the story--this story that sets both the oppressed and the oppressors free, this story that may even save me."

19 March 2013

tuesday things

1. Last week was spring break, and it was such a great week. What started with not many things planned turned into a week of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffees, and a slumber party. It was time well-spent.

2. My intent over spring break was spring cleaning. That didn't happen. I bleached my shower and wiped the baseboards in our bathroom, and then decided I was done for the day. I never went back to it. We still have weeks of spring ahead of us, so it'll get done. And if it doesn't, I'll admire those clean baseboards in our bathroom often!

3. For St. Patrick's Day, we celebrated with cheddar and stout fondue (with bread, apples and asparagus to dip) and a chocolate stout bundt cake topped with chocolate ganache. It was delicious! And so much easier than a stew or hash.

4. At the beginning of the year, Jeremy and I set goals for us. One goal is to see 12 movies in the theater. I know. Priorities. We like movies, but saw maybe three last year. We're upping our game. This weekend, we saw Oz: The Great and Powerful. I loved it: the music, the costumes, the effects, the story. Only eleven more movies to go!

5. Last Tuesday, I returned our DVR box. It was difficult. I almost didn't do it, thinking I could convince Jeremy to keep it. But then our bill decreased by $60. I think I can do this. Plus, we have Roku that we'll use to stream our shows.

6. Our shows this season include: The New Girl, The Mindy Project, Castle, Modern Family, Top Chef Season 10, Duck Dynasty. We waited until Top Chef ended before making the break from cable--we have an obsession with that show. It's more like borderline addiction. We enable each other.

7. I am totally into memoirs right now. I love real stories. Some that I've read and loved: Crowded Skies: Letters to Manhattan by Tara-Leigh Cobble, Orange Jumpsuit: Letters to the God of Freedom by Tara-Leigh Cobble, and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. The pendulum will swing soon enough, and I'll love fiction again. But for now, I love these stories.

8. We ate dinner with my brother and sister-in-law this week. My brother is a great cook. (It obviously runs in the family.) For the first time ever, I had real artichokes--not just the hearts that come in a can. We dipped and scraped the leaves on our teeth and dug out the thistle-y part to get to the heart. Oh, man, it was good. I have it on the menu for dinner one night this week, but I can see how they could become a regular vegetable in our house!