January 27, 2008

weeping and laughing

I really can't wait to see where our new pastor takes us in the coming months. Our beloved former pastor left us under very painful circumstances, but I praise God that we have not been left shepherdless. Tom is just what this church needs. The text for his sermon this week can be summed up by the phrase "they mourned not neither did they dance." It's the passage where Jesus expresses His frustration and disgust at the blindness and fastidiousness of a generation that despised John when he came in sackcloth and sobriety and condemned Jesus as a drunk and a glutton when He came eating and drinking. But the point Tom particularly wanted to make concerned the children in the market playing together saying "We played the flute, and you did not dance. We played a dirge, and you did not mourn." He compared this to two of the main camps of Christian thought and the ways we completely miss out on the celebration and the mourning called for in the Bible. On one hand are the people who are so consumed by their own sin that mentally they stay curled up on the floor whimpering. Rejoicing has no place in a life so consumed. On the other end are the people who only read the happy psalms and sing the happy songs. The words of the hymn:

Out of the deep I cry,
The woeful deep of sin,
Of evil done in days gone by,
Of evil now within.

would only affront their bliss blinded minds. Then there are the people who refuse to sing either song because it means taking Christ's tune for their refrain instead of their own.

Tom said, and I'm inclined to agree, that our church has sort of got the dirge down. We understand brokenness and grace. That's not to say that we never celebrate but that our bent in our walks with Christ is towards mourning over our sin. It's mourning accompanied by the preaching of an all-encompassing grace for God's elect, but it's still mourning. Tom said that in the coming months he wants us a church to trying having a go at getting the wedding dance down. In our worship and our times of coming to God he wants us to taste the richness of a joyful, exultant life joined intimately to Christ. This doesn't mean that we won't ever think about our sin. It's not one versus the other but rather us as a congregation learned to laugh louder and mourn deeper. As Tom said, ultimately these two things are two sides of the same coin. A Christian mourning his own sinfulness must acknowledge a grace which he did not earn and cannot repay. The depth of our sin reveals that much for forcibly the gravity of Christ's sacrifice and the enormity of His forgiveness and love towards us. But when we are rejoicing and celebrating in our relationship with God, if we are honest, we admit we did nothing to merit a place at the wedding feast and that were it not for God's grace towards us our sins would otherwise have certainly excluded us.

He had a lot more to say, but that's what mainly caught my attention. I look forward to getting to know our new pastor and his family.

Clean Feet

My mother-in-law just got her ionic cleanse foot bath in late last week, and Allen and I went over there this evening to see what all the fuss is about. Don't ask me about the science because I really don't know. Basically it uses polarization (and electricity and ions) to draw toxins out through your feet. Think of it as a super charged detox mudpack. Except without the mud. It's really neat though. The water you put your feet in turns all sorts of nasty colors, and you get this horrid scummy foam over the top. Glad that's not inside me anymore.

This sort of thing is useful because it provides your body with a way to detox without overloading your colon and/or kidneys -which is awesome because if you're really toxic it's so easy to overload your elimination channels. Looks like I'm going to be adding that into my weekly routine now.

January 23, 2008

The five minute miracle

Well it's starting. I made me a morning routine that I've been trying on this week with decent success.First thing in the morning after I get dressed I spend five minutes cleaning the bathroom (I'm already standing there anywhere), then immediately move to spend five minutes in the bedroom making up the bed and putting away odds and ends, then five minutes picking up the living room, and I finish with ten minutes in the kitchen putting away dishes and generally tidying things. I said this was the five minute miracle, but since my kitchen and I need a double miracle it gets ten minutes. So in 25 minutes I've cleaned the bathroom, made my bed, tidied my bedroom and living room, and cleaned the kitchen. Well, they aren't completely clean. I'm not superwoman. But they are cleaner than they were the day before. First day, I felt pretty guilty leaving rooms that I'd started to clean but hadn't completely cleaned. Now though, I'm feeling pretty good about it. As the Flylady says, "It didn't get this way in one day, and it won't get clean in one day." Things are getting better, and I'm not overwhelmed or exhausted. It's great.For the first time since I don't know when I'm getting excited about housekeeping. Next week I'm probably going to start adding in something of an evening/afternoon routine just because there are certain tasks I really don't have time to even really start during my morning routine.Overall though I'm extremely satisfied with the start I've made.

January 19, 2008

And it's gone

Maybe a quarter on an inch on the tops of the cars. And no more falling. That's Alabama for you.

Snowflakes fell on Alabama


It's actually snowing pretty hard too (especially for Alabama).

January 15, 2008

Fly away clutter

Well, I'd heard about her for a year or so now and had never been terribly interested in joining, but this evening I just signed up with Flylady. I've really been needing help, and I reckon I'm going to give her a try. But not the shoes. I don't even wear lace-up shoes hiking when I can get away with wearing tevas. So yeah, I understand why she says to wear lace-ups, but I think I'm just going to try getting by without 'em. :D Hey, it's hereditary. I get it from my father's side. Can't go back on my heritage :D

Seriously though, I'm hoping that her routines will help me get on with life. I've already received several of her e-mails just for signing up, and there's one thing she said that encouraged me very much. I hope she won't mind my posting an except:

Our homes are stifling our imagination. Our little creative minds have been stuffed into this cocoon because of the guilt that has been put on our little heads. We are blessed to have an imagination. We fight hard to keep from being stuffed into that cocoon. This is why we rebel against habits and routines. They look too much like the “Born Organized” people in our lives. They are a tool that helps us to emerge from our cocoon of guilt and suffocation to find our true joy in living.

I must say I can identify. I have the dickens of a time getting started on what I should do, but I don't do what I really want to do either because I feel so bad about what I should do.

Soo...............here's hoping that this helps me turn a corner.

sacks of scraps

Anna no longer has the corner on vintage fabrics. I now have a sack of fabrics from Mamaw and Nanny each. There's all sorts of interesting patterns. Not all of them are vintage, but some of them are quite pretty and usual. I can't wait to play with them. Unfortunately I have quite a few projects and chores taking first priority, but I'm looking forward to digging into them one day.

Back from Dallas

Last week we took a long weekend to visit Allen's great-grandmother out in Dallas. We'd been talking about the possibility of visiting her, so when Allen's mom mentioned that she'd been planning to drive out there we jumped at the opportunity to go out there with her. For having broken her hip she's a remarkably spry little lady. She'd got a wheeled walker, and she just cruises around her little house. Doesn't want to sit still. A trait Grandmom shares -like mother like daughter. Those two have a hard time being happy when they can't be buzzing around seeing to things. Apparently Nanny's son does most of the work now though. I think they said he's lived with her for 20 years or close to it. A long time anyway.

It was very good to see them. Nanny told us that she has 44 grand and great children. The way she's going she's going end up with a couple of great, great grandchildren. The day we left she said, "You think maybe I'll make it to 100?" I would not be surprised at all if she did. She looks younger at 94 than my grandmother did at 85.

The drive over an back wasn't too bad. I read Wives and Daughters all the way over, and my mother-in-law and I watched Pride and Prejudice half of the way back. Allen was sweet enough to drive for us so she could watch it. We make it out and back in one day each. Actually got back in time for supper Sunday evening.

January 9, 2008

Peeling off the shell

You remember learning about all those various bugs and crustaceans who carry their skeletons around on their backs? Spineless little creatures they are. I begin to think that I was brought up to have an exoskeleton. Lest you start commenting on the state of my skin and start offering moisturizers let me explain. You might say I had a pretty successful college career. Scholarship girl, super high GPA, summa cum laude graduate with a paid ride to grad school, and one of the darlings of my academic department. On top of that I was homeschooled, and we all know that homeschoolers are some of the most intensely self motivated people on the planet. I would have told you that myself. Despite what you might have heard to the contrary I was a fairly decent kid as well. In other words, by appearances I wasn't much of a slouch. However, I've come to see that appearances can really, really, sucker-bet you lie. You must understand that I bought into a lot of that description. I tended to credit my professor's creative powers when I read their recommendations (although I might add that my friends didn't), but overall I would have accepted that general picture of myself. Looking back though I see that I really had very little positive momentum. I didn't have to. Everyone else was pushing me along. Grades, chores, and even acceptance where all rigidly enforced. My single B became an echoing example of what might happen if I ever let my guard down again (or took a class somewhat over my head). I worked hard not because A's were a goal so much as an absolute necessity. I did my chores so that I might say (if even to myself) I wasn't a complete dead weight on the family -that I did in a way earn some place there. Acceptance? Toe the line or else kid. Keep your mouth shut, your head down, and get by as best you can. Fear, guilt, and the necessity of success where primary motivators during that time. The thing about them though was that although they provoked action they didn't create momentum. When you're motivated by fear you stop when a. you've met the bare requirements to appease or b. you come to a point where the effort to appease isn't worth it anymore and you resign yourself to living with wrath and failure. Guilt works about the same way. If you can never get enough done to assuage the guilt then you might as well save yourself the effort. The necessity of success is rather more nuanced I believe, but it's still confining and debilitating.
The point I wish to make here is that I had so much pressure holding me up and pushing me forward that my reaction (especially with regard to fear and guilt as motivators) was resist the pressure and hang back against it in effort to make a breathing space. My movement might have been forward, but much of momentum was zero or negative. Here's another image for you. Imagine a a thin paperback or a children's Golden Book held up between two larger books. It's secure, stable, and upright. Now imagine taking those supporting books away. It's probably going to flop over. Now think about me. All my life hedged about by pressures and necessities. All of a sudden (thank God for Allen) they go away. Oh I hear echoes of them, but the pressures aren't physically, daily, in my face running my life. In fact the opposite is occurring. Without the accustomed pressure though I flop over and end up kicking my legs in the air trying to get upright again. However, my hard exoskeleton of relentless achievement and parental demands isn't there to hold me up in my accustomed position. So I fall down again. By this time Allen is really confused, and I'm not exactly understanding this myself. And we do that for a few dozen weeks until the lights blink back on, and we can see the bits of my discarded shell scattered around the living room. All this to say -Mom's please give your children backbones instead of shells. All my life I never really had to develop the basic backbone that lets a girl decide when's a good time to go to bed. All this was decided for me. My grades, my temperament (selfish they said), my profession, my fitness as a wife and mother, my ability to cook, and even how much of my money I could/should spend on my own wedding dress were all largely predetermined and dictated to me in words if not in actions. Having broken out of a lot of that I realize that even if I do have a leg to stand on there's not much in the way of skeleton holding that leg up. It's getting better though. I'm just going to have to be patient while I wait for my new spine to grow in and make sure not to confuse limping on crutches for running on whole legs.

I do wonder though. Where would I be today and what would my past look like if I'd been taught to run like a woman instead of crawl like a spider. Moms out there. Seriously. Teach your children to run.

By the calender -a reflection

Well, Monday all (most) of the Christmas decorations were packed away for the year. There's still a few bits and pieces from my mantle and bookcase that have hung around a little longer. However, it wasn't laziness or poor planning that kept the tree around this long. Last Sunday happened to be Epiphany or the day on which the Magi are celebrated as arriving in Bethlehem and is the day that closes the Christmas season in the church calendar. Not having grown up with the Church calender (most Baptist/Bible churches I know don't much follow it's lesser celebrations) it's still pretty new to us, and we weren't quite sure how to go about celebrating this punctuation to Christmas. So....we didn't. But we did keep our tree and lights up through Epiphany and remove them promptly afterwards. Minor point though that may be, I'd like our home to start moving more in rhythm with the Church calendar. Advent, Christmas, Lent, etc aren't just occasions for changes in the church service but actually provide an organizational structure for our lives. Not having grown up with it I can't really say I understand how this looks. Obviously people often fast during Lent, but that doesn't tell me much about what to do Epiphany or Ascension Sunday. All you moms can laugh at me if you like, but I also get the impression that this is harder to do as a married couple than as parents. Parents, it seems, naturally find themselves explaining and illustrating the seasons to their children (often with appropriate construction paper activities). The act of teaching appears to shape the holidays more than anything else. A couple like us? Besides cooking some more food I'm not entirely sure what to do. Maybe for now that would have been enough. I don't really know. However, as there are several more feast days coming up before the ordinary year starts again I believe I will have the chance to practice.

January 4, 2008

New year, new goals

Having recently escaped into the warm arms of grace, rules and lists and such still tend to frighten me with specters of my former captivity. However, though grace is everything the law is not void, and there's nothing wrong with a few sensible rules. To that end here are a few of the ways in which I want to grow this year.

1. Stop letting worry, stress, and guilt paralyze me and keep me from doing the things I want and need to do.
Sometimes just the thought of how much I need to do and want to do and haven't even started to do overwhelms me to the point where I feel incapable of tackling any of it. Therefore little to nothing gets done, and I feel even worse. Wash, rinse, repeat.

2. Realize that it's ok for me to take time to do the things I really want to do. Like sewing.
I'm a genius at procrastinating with the computer or a novel, but the minute I get up and start trying to actually do something I immediately feel bad that I'm not doing something else. Thus I piddle away time that'd I'm much rather be spending on productive things because I don't want to face the worry over whether I'm doing enough or the right thing. Clear as mud?

3. Pick two things everyday to do -one chore and one project, spend at least some time on each, and don't worry about whatever else I could be doing with my time.
Start breaking the habits. Spend at least a little time each day sewing, crafting, or reading a really good book.

Start here. See where we can go from here.

January 3, 2008

Quick, easy, and delicious steaks

Getting a really good steak out of grass fed beef can be a wee bit of problem since the meat, although more flavorful, tends to be rather more tough than your standard Food World cut. However, a few weeks ago while I was thawing out some steaks Allen (the king of randomly awesome research) stumbled across a cooking instructor turned blogger who claimed to have discovered a way to turn any steak (even cheap discount ones) into perfectly tender prime cuts. Allen and I aren't huge steak fans, but preparing it this way has changed our minds. If you like steak (or just have some in the freezer that needs using) I really suggest that you give this a try.

January 2, 2008

One of four

I hope no one will take offense at my posting this, but I've recently been pondering about what it means to be a family and to be in a family and...this is going to be a little personal. I suppose a careful reader might have picked up that my family and Allen's family are pretty different in how they view family relations. I've been pondering this for a while now, but something happened yesterday that drove it all home for me. We were sitting around the table at Mamaw's asking the blessing when I heard my father-in-law thanking God for his four children. Allen only has two other siblings. The fourth child mentioned was me. This didn't really surprise me since I'm called "daughter" twenty times for every one time I'm called "daughter-in-law." However, I immediately went back to another time I heard someone talking about four children. One morning, before I'd left my room, I heard my mom saying very vehemently that she had four children. My mom has given birth to three daughters and two sons. Most people would say she has five children, but she wasn't counting me. I've been turning the phrase over in my mind ever since -"four children."

"I have only four children."

"Thank you God for my four children."

Damnation and acceptance in the same phrase. Joy and heartbreak in the hearing.

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year everyone!

I just wanted to pop over and wish everyone a very happy New Year. This is going to be my first New Year's in town with my new family, and I'm looking forward to it. I've got some black-eyed peas cooking on the stove preparatory to taking them down to Mamaw's. Apparently my father in law needs/wants to see about something on the farm, so we're taking dinner down with us. Should be fun! Feel free to comment here with your New Years traditions. I'd love to hear about them.