We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Celebrating Pentecost

Come Down, Oh Love Divine

Come down, O Love divine
seek thou this soul of mine
and visit it with thine own ardor glowing

O Comforter, draw near
within my heart appear
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing

O let it freely burn
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming

And let they glorious light
shine ever on my sight

and clothe me round the while my path illuming

And so the yearning strong
with which the soul will long
shall far out-pass the power of human telling

For none can guess its grace
till Love create a place
here in the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.

words by Bianco di Siena (c. 1434)

We got all dressed up in our Ghanaian batiks to celebrate Pentecost and the remembrance of the birth of the Church's mission to go into the world making disciples. Here is a photo:

You'll notice little baby L is not in the photo - she was napping after a long day at church. I'll post a photo of her soon in her very spiffy batik dress.

It was a lovely Pentecost celebration! After being absent from church and The Body for over a month, it was wonderful to be back. Everyone noticed how much baby L has grown! Tonight is our church's Ladies' Twilight Garden Party, so we won't be having a Pentecost meal. But I do have some ideas for a meal, so we might celebrate in style tomorrow night.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pentecost: Reignite Your Ember!

Pentecost, for the Western church, is this Sunday. I'm posting this a bit early to participate in the Carnival of the Church Year for Pentecost.

Welcome to new friends (and old) visiting from the Carnival of the Church Year: Pentecost! I hope you'll enjoy my submission and stick around to check out my blog a bit.

Have you heard this story? There was a man who had been a devout believer and active church member. One day his pastor noticed that he was not in church. Nor was he the next Sunday. Nor the next. It became obvious that something had happened and this man was no longer attending church. When the pastor went to visit the man, he found him sitting peacefully beside a crackling fire. The man invited him to take a seat, but had no interest in discussing the matter. The pastor joined him and they both sat in silence.

After a while, the pastor took a pair of fireplace tongs and grasped one of the flaming embers. He brought the ember out of the fire (and out of the pile of other flaming embers) and set it on the hearth away from the flames. The man sat watching the ember. He noticed that it stayed glowing red for a bit, but slowly began to darken and cool. Before the ember had entirely gone out, the pastor returned the ember to the fire where it quickly began to glow again. He returned the tongs to their place, said his goodbye and left the man to contemplate that ember.

The next Sunday the man was back at church where his heart was rekindled.

Somehow that story, with its fire imagery and message about the Body of Christ, seems appropriate for Pentecost, doesn’t it?

The Holy Spirit can exist in us when we are separated from other believers by time or distance or circumstance (and does exist in us as individual believers), but the Holy Spirit came from Heaven and breathed on a gathering of believers…and there is something to that! We need other believers to stay “kindled” with the fire of belief, don’t we? There are times when our ember may be out of the fire for various reasons, but we are wise not to keep it out too long for fear it may extinguish completely.

I’m in one of those seasons right now with the new baby. Her schedule is very important to maintain, more so than it has been for my biological kids, and our church service occurs right in the middle of her morning nap. We’ve taken her anyway and let her nap in the baby sling, but it is still hard on her (and me!). So, the result is that I’ve missed a lot of church lately. Luckily I’ve found other ways to stay “kindled” – a ladies’ bible study – until I can resume regular church attendance, but it isn’t quite the same as being in worship with my church family.

My church family kindles the Holy Spirit in me. I become that cold, dead ember when I am away for too long. Oh, the Holy Spirit is in me as a believer, but I am much less likely to feel His warmth or the flicker of His flame when I am long separated from the company of my faith family.

This reminds me of something I read by Dallas Willard in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines. In the book he looks at the disciplines of the Christian life that sustain, encourage, and challenge us thus growing our spiritual life in Christ.

When we understand that grace (charis) is gift (charisma), we then see that to grow in grace is to grow in what is given to us of God and by God. The disciplines are then, in the clearest sense, a means to that grace and also to those gifts.” p. 156

He divides the disciplines into two main types: disciplines of abstinence and disciplines of engagement. The disciplines of abstinence are: solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy, and sacrifice.

In the disciplines of abstinence, we abstain to some degree and for some time from the satisfaction of what we generally regard as normal and legitimate desires. “Normal” desires include our basic drives or motivations, such as those for food, sleep, bodily activity, companionship, curiosity, and sex. But our desires for convenience, comfort, material security, reputation or fame, and variety are also considered under this heading.” p. 159

While the disciplines of engagement are: study, worship, celebration, service, prayer, fellowship (this is the one I’m getting at…I’ll get back to it momentarily), confession, and submission.

The disciplines of abstinence must be counterbalanced and supplemented by disciplines of engagement…Roughly speaking, the disciplines of abstinence counteract tendencies to sins of commission, and the disciplines of engagement counteract sins of omission.” p. 176

The discipline that I’m getting at is Fellowship:

In fellowship we engage in common activities of worship, study, prayer, celebration and service with other disciples….The fire of God kindles higher as the brands are heaped together and each is warmed by the other’s flame….

The diverse gifts or graces of the Spirit – all of which are needed in some measure by each person from time to time – are distributed among the separate members of the body of Christ, the church….

…fellowship is required to allow realization of a joyous and sustained level of life in Christ that is normally impossible to attain by all our individual effort…In it we receive the ministry of all the graces of the Spirit to the church.”
p. 186-187

Pentecost is a fitting time to assess our commitment and engagement with our church home, our faith family, our body of Christ –whatever you wish to call it - and determine our need for the discipline of engagement in the area of fellowship.

While I am at peace with my current season of being slightly removed from my particular body of Christ in fellowship, I am aware that this needs to be a temporary and infrequent occurrence. I look forward to resuming regular attendance on Sunday mornings, because I need the Holy Spirit’s movement in the Body to kindle my faith, my ember!

There is a prayer I learned in Cursillo that I've always loved and seems appropriate for Pentecost...

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Are you interested in reading more from Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of the Disciplines? I highly recommend it!

Want to read more? Be sure to check out the rest of the Carnival...and my Pentecost posts from 2007: Peals of Pentecost and 2008: Come Holy Spirit - and just added: Celebrating Pentecost 2009 (with photos of us in our Ghanaian batiks!).

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuscan Garbanzo Bean Soup

As you might have noticed from my post frequency, May is a ridiculously busy time in my family! End of school, summer plans being formed, son's birthday party, and state homeschool convention.

Well, here's what we are having for dinner tonight. It is simmering away on the stove right now!

Tuscan Garbanzo Bean Soup

1 c medium pasta (shells, elbows, etc)
2 T olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
a couple dashes of garlic powder
3 T fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dry
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
1/2 c chopped canned, stewed or sun-dried (packaged in oil or softened with water) tomatoes
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 cans 16 oz Garbanzo beans, drained and divided

Cook pasta according to package directions.

At the same time, in a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until just soft, add carrots and saute a few minutes more. Add garlic powder, rosemary, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Add 2 cups of water, tomatoes, carrot, and garbanzo beans, reserving 1 cup whole beans. Bring to a boil, stiffing occasionally, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes.

Puree vegetables (in blender or with a hand blender) and return to saucepan. Add pasta and remaining whole beans and heat through adding water if soup is too thick.

Top with cheese at the table!
2 T grated parmesan

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

They do grow up, don't they?

My eldest son turned 13 last week. THIRTEEN?!?! He's nearly as tall as me. He mows the grass now. His feet are nearly as big as mine. And he now owns a REAL sword.

Last week was his 13th birthday. It was quite a celebration full of surprises. I hope I have't set the bar too high for the other 3 kids! We had dear friends from out-of-town come visit to help celebrate. Our kids had no idea they were coming - they live 13 hours away! Then on Friday night my hubby planned a very special ceremony and camping trip with some men of the church and their sons.

A number of the men prepared letters and talks on various subjects concerning Christian Manhood. The letters were presented to our son in a nice binder for him to read and refer to in the coming years. Each man gave a brief talk on the same subject. At the end, there was an oath and the presentation of a sword: a Viking replica with a real blade!

Of course no women were allowed, so I have to rely on pictures and retellings.

The next night was our church's Father-Child Camp-Out at the same campground, so the rest of the kids joined their dads for a day and night of crazy games, getting muddy, various injuries, general goofiness and camping fun.

I think I'm still recovering from the laundry. . . and the fact that I have a thirteen year old . . . with a sword.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pentecost Carnival

Jessica, of Homemaking Through the Church Year, and I were recently discussing how well-received the Advent and Lent carnivals have been, so we thought, "Why not the rest of the church year, too?" Why not, indeed! On Sunday, May 31st, Jessica will host the first in the series: Carnivals of the Church Year: Pentecost. I'll follow with the next one later this summer "Ordinary Time", and so on through out the year.

Would you like to participate? Jessica has all the details on when and how to submit your post. She also has some good writing prompts for you if you'd like to participate, but don't quite know where to start.

Don't forget to visit the carnival at Homemaking Through the Church Year on May 31st for some great ideas, wise thoughts, and fun plans for celebrating Pentecost!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bath and Hair

Hi, this is Baby L here. Mommy let me have some computer time, so I thought I'd tell you about one of my favorite things - BATH TIME!

Oh my, do I love bath time! Especially sucking the soapy water out of the wash cloth.

See, even big sister likes it. In fact, mommy doesn't know this, but I taught her how to do that.

And after bath time comes lotion time. Mommy gets me good and greased up - I shine like melting Hershey's kiss.

And then hair time. Mommy is putting in some fancy twists for my Sunday "do". I mostly try my best to knock everything off the counter while she does this. My "bob and weave" is getting pretty good, too. But then, mommy is getting good at chasing my head around. Sometimes I get bored, but the results are nice...

See, don't I look pretty?

This week we had our first post-placement visit with our social worker. He was very nice and enjoyed watching me play with mommy, daddy, brothers and sister. Not sure what the big deal was, but mommy was cleaning the house like a crazy woman. Anyway, Mr. Social Worker says I'm doing great! But of course, we knew that!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Art Links for Homeschoolers: May

Each month I preview art resources from around the world to bring you, Art Links for Homeschoolers. I think you'll find these links useful in your homeschool for Art History, Art Appreciation or Picture Study. Looking for something in particular? Try a blog search (that little Blogger search box in the top navigation bar - above my banner). Want to see what resources I've reviewed so far? Click on the label "Enjoying the Arts".

This month's Art Links for Homeschoolers are all from the 20th and 21st century - from Georgia Okeefe's abstracts and surrealist paintings, to the Wyeth family's realism, to David Hockney's Pop art.

- Modern -

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts presents Georgia O'Keefe and Her Times

The Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, NJ offers an exhibition of three generations of Wyeth painters now through July 19th. See their online exhibition complete with biographies of each of the family painters.

David Hockney has traded in his paintbrushes for printer cartridges. Well, maybe only temporarily. This is a fascinating exhibit showcasing the artistic applications of modern technology.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day - from an adoptive mom...

HT: Amy Welborn via Extraordinary Moms Network

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Seasonish Italian Dressing Mix

Do you love Good Season's Italian Dressing Mix as much as I do? Do you hate the preservatives and other chemicals they include as much as I do? Would you love a dry mix you can make yourself and keep on hand? Look no futher!

Good Seasonish Italian Dressing Mix

First you make the dry mix:
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T sugar
2 T dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil
1 T dried parsley
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 T salt

Store this in an airtight container. When you are ready to make dressing, put the following in a jar with a tight lid - or one of those handy Good Seasons dressing bottles:

2 T dry dressing mix (above)
1/4 c vinegar (my favorite is red wine vinegar)
2 T water

Shake this really well then add:
2/3 c really good olive oil

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vegetable Oven Pancake - Spring Onions

This recipe can be used with just about any vegetable: asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. Some vegetables may need steaming before-hand if they won't cook completely in the oven.

I had some spring onions needed to be used up, so I made this for lunch on Sunday. We enjoyed it with a frilly salad of spring greens and a hunk of bread. I did find that if you double it, as I did, it is best to use a large pan. Otherwise the pancake doesn't fluff up quite as high as intended. I made mine in a deep-dish pie plate...it would have been better in a very large cast-iron skillet or a small, rectangular baking dish.

It was delicious!

Spring Onion Vegetable Pancake

1 T butter

1 cup or so of sliced spring onions

3/4 c milk

2/3 c flour

2 eggs

1/4 tsp salt (hubby thought it might need a bit more for flavor)

1/2 c cheese (we did without the cheese, which might account for the lack of saltiness)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While oven heats, place butter in 9-inch pie pan and place in oven to melt. Swirl pan to grease bottom and sides. Place spring onions in bottom of the pie pan. Mix milk, flour, eggs and salt with a blender or whisk until smooth. Pour over onions. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on tip, cut into wedges and serve immediately.

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