Wednesday, March 28, 2007

growth marker

I know I'm being slightly lazy with posting but, being busy with essays, I don't have much time to spend on here this week so here's a short quote that got me thinking.
Compare this week in your spiritual history with the same week last year and see how God has called you up higher.
-MUFHH, March 27th

Saturday, March 24, 2007

the private life of prayer

Once a week at least take stock before God and see whether you are keeping your life up to the standard He wishes...
My worth to God in public is what I am in private.
-Oswald Chambers, MUFHH (March 17th)

What a man is alone on his knees before God, that he is and no more.
-Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Creative Process

I had a great conversation this morning over a Baglewich from Rooster's (my weekly indulgence) about many things. What I want to concentrate on in here is the aspect of writing as a creative process.

As we were biting into that mound of greasy goodness we were talking (yes, with our mouths full) about what it means to live for God in every detail and aspect of our day to day lives. When the topic of writing came up (essay season is upon us again) I was thinking along the lines of doing one's job to God's glory thinking more of the general position we hold as students than the specific work we do but my friend had a deeper insight than that. She was saying that by writing essays and creating something new, we are imitators of God and thus in that act we are living out part of what it means to be made in His image. I had never thought about it that way before but it adds so much to my notion of the creative process.

I have always loved creating or being creative but I hadn't thought much about from whence that impulse had its issue. It is amazing that we, as created beings, are imitators of our Creator and are able, in turn, to create on our own. What a gift and privilege He has given us in this! I find so much joy in making things beautiful. That's why I love photography. Taking various aspects of myself and creating something pleasing is my one of the joys of forming this blog. The impulse to create is why, as a girl, I started reams of stories (building them around my own little worlds that, in a sense, I was creating by writing about them).

I could go on about many things that are creative that I enjoy but the point is that by remembering that we are sharing in one of God's acts (even when we are slogging through another essay) might help to make us more engaged in our work and do a better job (and thus bring more glory to God). What an excellent spur to write good essays (and I needed one!).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kitchen Rules

This is an extract from the 1869 edition of Mrs Beaton's The Book of Household Management
Golden Rules for the Kitchen
1. Without cleanliness and punctuality good cooking is impossible.
2. Leave nothing dirty; clean and clear as you go.
3. A time for everything, and everything in time.
4. A good cook wastes nothing.
5. An hour lost in the morning has to be run after all day.
6. Haste without hurry saves worry, fuss and flurry.
7. Stew boiled is stew spoiled.
8. Strong fire for roasting; clear fire for broiling.
9. Wash vegetables in three waters.
10. Boil fish quickly, meat slowly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It is finally here! It is the first day of Spring! The sun is shining, the snow is melting, I woke to birds singing outside my window (rare at the best of times since mine is a basement room), the overture to An Italian Girl in Algiers is playing in the background, the scent of chocolate cake wafts down the hall along with the invigorating smell of melting snow and fresh laundry as Grandma opens the door to hang the washing outside.
Does it get much better than this?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Results of Darwinism

My Mom sent me an e-mail about how Darwinian thought has filtered down to our age with specific reference to performance arts. To see the whole article, go here but I have taken excerpts of what really stuck out to me. I read this article right after getting out of my English class in which we have been studying Darwinism and its impact on Victorian thought. So it is a fresh topic for me and interesting to see how it has filtered down and changed our way of thinking and other aspects of life.

The article begins by reporting an incident in South Dakota where two performance artists from France shocked the audience with their show and goes on to explain the philosophical roots behind such degraded cultural movements. I find the tone borders on the sarcastic at times but so much of it is true that I felt it was worth quoting. I have added italics when I wanted to stress a certain line.

Apparently, the social behavior of the clinically insane is viewed as an exciting art form in more sophisticated regions of the world. Playing with excrement and barfing - how cosmopolitan.
This is what happens when Darwin's theory of origins comes into full flower in western culture. When humans are viewed as nothing but primates, it is little wonder that scatological themes prevail in the art galleries. The products of random chance acting on matter don't recognize the concept of "Great Masters" in art. The idea of classification of anything as good, bad, beautiful, ugly, etc. is considered the unfortunate leftover thinking of modernity. This is why a barely literate teenager can bang garbage can lids together in a garage band and be called a "musician", just like Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Bell. It isn't tolerant to make distinctions, you see. So if you have the desire to cover a hotel room in melted cheddar cheese or repel nude off your local TV tower, you can be an artist, too! Just like Matisse and Renoir and Da Vinci. The Unmade Bed exhibit at a London Art museum several years ago opened up entirely new career opportunities for all of us who don't take time to spread up the sheets in the morning. The artist in that exhibit even added a used kleenex to the scene for a special touch of realism. Imagine, the world of art opened by simply leaving your bed unmade! When mankind is viewed as a cosmic accident, his art will start looking like it.
Mentally and spiritually sick individuals are now our cultural icons. Inspiration for art no longer comes from above, it is found in the base and the vulgar-from the dirt below. God has been thrown out of our Western world and the result is nothing but despair and absurdity which echoes through the art galleries and the music halls and the movie theaters of our land. When man is seen as nothing but a cog in a machine, a cosmic accident with nothing but his own lusts for his guide, civilization crumbles. There is moral anarchy in the air and the rise in violent crime in America, reported this week, only confirms the violence already expressed in the art world against all that is true and meaningful and lasting. Art is a mirror and that mirror presents a horrific picture of what has become of our country. The lesson in all of this? First off, avoid art shows by Lisou Prout and Jean-Louis Costes and the next time you see an unmade bed at an art museum, thank Charles Darwin.

I find that I have quoted almost the whole article but I would still reccommend going to the site to read the background since I simply cut to the cultural explanation part (and having read the background myself wouldn't realize if what is quoted doesn't make sense on its own).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

hollyhock seeds

Last November I published a picture of the "last hollyhock of summer". I recently took a picture of the very same plant, which by this time has dropped the petals and produced seeds.

Not only do I find it interesting to follow up what has gone before but it's also interesting to note that although not as beautiful as the first picture, the second (here) has its own beauty along with the actual fruitfulness (rather than the beautiful promise of it).

This picture reminds me of the verses in Psalm 92:
"Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;"
-Psalm 92:13,14

What a beautiful image of our hope of sanctification in Christ as illustrated through a simple flower.

on inspiration (or lack thereof)

It has been a while since I last was inspired to write. I suppose I should qualify that statement: by writing I have in mind a narrow category of works of imagination and delight or, more basically, works of fiction. Strictly speaking, I probably write more than I ever have before with the increasing length and number of papers expected of me through school and the lengthy e-mails that take up so much time (along with this blog) but I don't classify that type of writing in the category of fiction and they need little inspiration to get going. What I would love to have again is the same drive to write stories that I had when I was younger.
I don't know how many unfinished stories I have from my youth still sitting at home in some drawer or box or file. Lovely stories ambitiously begun yet usually petering out before they could even hope to be long enough. More often than not, the stories were of the girl I wanted to be or were placed in situations in which I imagined myself to be. As I grew, I managed to finish my writings more.

The script for a movie starring my group of friends had a deadline if it was to be approved by them before we started shooting it. I finished by the deadline and we started shooting but never finished the movie itself. I also did a few adaptions of classic literature for our once-a-month-plays for our families. Those were easier in many ways and quite an interesting exercise for creative writing since I had to transfer the story to a different medium as well as adapt the characters to the available actors. The lack of sets, props and practice time must have made them interesting to watch (it's a good thing everyone present was acquainted with the story beforehand!).

But that was all back in the time when I had buckets of time to sit and dream away on the 'sun-porch' of my fort in the woods with my pad of foolscap sharing my knee with my cat. That was before I ever had to write essays for a professor who wasn't interested in my imagination but merely in my completion of the assignment as laid out in the guidelines. I am not saying that essay writing is bad because it is restrictive instead I think that it is a valuable skill to be able to write according to what is specified by someone else. I just mean that much of the time I might before have spent thinking up impossible plots was now taken up in work along other lines.

Part of all this growing process I have been able to study in depth what truly is great literature; I came to see and acknowledge true genius. In comparison my own paltry attempts paled considerably. I could see that these authors had something that I have never had, something hard to define but that makes a work shine out. About the same time, I came to acknowledge that there is good poetry and I found myself enjoying and admiring poetry as well as my first love (novels).

So I feel drawn in two directions: I both want to write to give similar beauty to others but I feel my own inadequacy keenly when seen in comparison to greatness and begin to wonder if it is worth the attempt.

Of even more immediate importance, we arrive back at the fact with which I started: I have no inspiration beyond the vague desire to write something good. I now see the childishness of my previous stories. Now I have more practice and can say that my writing has improved immensely but I am story-less. Although I have a much greater understanding of the mechanisms needed I have nothing to fill in my frame. But I have heard several people report certain authors and composers (writing music is a whole other issue) who lived in constant fear that their inspiration would run dry. Well, I have nothing to fear in that way since it's already dry, so it's only up from here!

I need to acknowledge that I am not a genius and go through the very same process I've gone through with drawing, music and photography and come to the same conclusion: I can and should try to cultivate these gifts and if I can bring glory to God and joy to others and myself through them, but not to despair and/or give up altogether simply because I cannot be a master at them.

So, to be contented with where I am at present, I need to write what I can to the best of my ability and trust that the Lord is able both to use my present abilities for His purposes and to inspire me to write in time if that is part of His plan for my life. For now, I'll use my weak light to illuminate this little corner where He has placed me. Who knows what's in store? Is that not what makes this life exciting?

Monday, March 12, 2007

The dauphin's horse

I'm re-reading King Henry V for my Shakespeare essay and came across a fun passage where the Dauphin is praising his horse. It is fairly long so I may have to truncate it a bit but here it is:

Dauphin:...I will not change my horse with any that treads but on four pasterns... he bounds from the earth, as if his entrails were hairs; le cheval volant, the Pegasus, chez les narines de feu! When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.
Orleans: He's of the colour of the nutmeg.
Dauphin: And of the heat of the ginger. It is a beast for Perseus: he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him: he is indeed a horse; and all other jades you may call beasts... It is the prince of palfreys; his neigh is like the bidding of a monarch and his countenance enforces homage...Nay, the man hath no wit that cannot, from the rising of the lark to the lodging of the lamb, vary deserved praise on my palfrey: it is a theme as fluent as the sea: turn the sands into eloquent tongues, and my horse is argument for them all: 'tis a subject for a sovereign to reason on, and for a sovereign's sovereign to ride on and for the world, familiar to us and unknown, to lay apart their particular functions and wonder at him.

What praise! I would like to have a horse like his!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oatmeal Cookies

Since I won't be around for the next few days I thought I'd throw in a bonus post with the recipe for oatmeal cookies that Mom tried out last Friday. It has been quite convenient how she has been around with extra time and so turns to baking--we often benefit from such Fridays for the entire week.

I don't, as a rule, enjoy oatmeal cookies (except the store-bought "Dad's" brand) considering them inferior to chocolate chip but these ones turned out quite well; they boasted a slight crunch coupled with soft, chewy goodness that was quite pleasant. This may have more to do with the way that Grandma's stoneware pan helps in the baking than the recipe but the flavour was decent also, so there must be something about the recipe itself!

Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup walnust (optional)
granulated sugar*

Mix first six ingredients. Add shortening, egg and vanilla. Beat well. Stir in oats and walnuts. Form into small balls, dipping tops in sugar, place on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.
*I couldn't tell if Mom actually did this step; it looked as if she merely put them on the sheetlike regular drop cookies. It sounds good, however.

Brother Sky

This week I have been cultivating another fictional-character-crush, this time on Sky Masterson. I went to see Guys and Dolls with my Grandma and some of her friends on Monday and since I had extra time last night, I curled up and enjoyed the classic movie version of the same with Brando and Sinatra as the male leads.

Ahh, I'm afraid that the first guy that sings to me may just win me. Interestingly, in the stage version we saw, Sky does end up in the mission helping out (seemingly enjoying himself, too). This little detail may have been the big factor in the development of my present condition since I couldn't fall for a gambler but a reformed gambler is a different thing.

I'm sure at one point (which I'll underline the next time I read the book) Anne (of Green Gables) says something along the lines of it's no fun loving someone who is hopelessly good; that it's much better to know that they could be wicked yet chose not to be. I agree with her in this.

Does it not even get down to the core of the gospel? Christ came here and was tempted in all ways yet without sin. The possibility had to be there because He is fully man as well as fully God. We, of course, are tempted and are with sin but God's grace makes us more than conquerors over the sin and enables us to live as dead to the world.

I don't mean to draw too close a comparison between the gospel and Sky but I do believe that through this idea it's easier to understand why slightly wild characters who reform are appealing. Sky ends up working in the mission but we can see even before this that he was a cut above most of the others in a way: he knew the Bible back to front and didn't take advantage of Sarah in Havana. So he was already part way there when they first sang the duet.

Of course I do not wish to promote conversion-dating and I can see the many problems that a relationship such as that one would have but I think that it's the idea behind the character (and the wonderful singing!) that draws me. But if this still doesn't convinve you that I should have such a crush, I'll just say that crushes are irrational to begin with and I shouldn't have to defend myself rationally!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Winter weather

We have been hit by really really cold weather to start off the week after being buried under a prodigious amount of snow on the weekend after being teased by clement spring-like weather last week. The set-back is disheartening to say the least. It feels more like January than March around here but I rest in the hope that March, having come in like the lion, may begin acting like the lamb soon and that spring is really just around the corner.

But there have been good points to this cold-snap: it is beautiful outside and I am able to look to my heart's content while not having to be out there. Also being cosy inside while it is bright and sunny outside has invigorated me and I have given my room a thorough cleaning (right down to the papers on my desk!) from which I am hoping it will not recover for some time.

Hopefully the thermometer will decide to rise a few degrees before the weekend and our trip to the sugar bush with the internationals. It sounds like it'll be a great time but there's nothing like bad weather to dampen spirits (some of whom may not be used to braving cold weather) venturing into it.

But while we are still in the mood and context for it, here is a poem with a perfect description of wandering alone in the Canaidan winter landscape until after dark (as only a Canadian is able to describe properly):

Winter Uplands
The frost that stings like fire upon my cheek,
The loneliness of this forsaken ground,
The long white drift upon whose powdered peak
I sit in the great silence as one bound;
The rippled sheet of snow where the wind blew
Across the open fields for miles ahead;
The far-off city towered and roofed in blue
A tender line upon the western red;
The stars that singly, then in flocks appear,
Like jets of silver from the violet dome,
So wonderful, so many and so near,
And then the golden moon to light me home--
The crunching snowshoes and the stinging air,
And silence, frost and beauty everywhere.
-Archibald Lampman

Monday, March 05, 2007

Stuart's poem

I stole this poem from my brother's blog because I like it and want to share it (and because I know he never reads my blog so will never know I took it...). Finding poetry difficult to write (except for silly stuff) I am even more impressed with the form and content of this.

Go slowly, O knight, for beyond thy road
Lie deep shrouded shadows, yet to unfold
Like midnight's dark hour, when all we hold
Not silver of daylight, but hard and cold

Go slowly, O knight, take care lest thou fall
When fate's light shines dimly, or not at all
The higher thou climbest, the harder to crawl
When all is forgotten, stand on and stand tall

Go slowly, O knight, tread with great care
For all you've forsaken will be with thee there
Though deeds of thy glory may darkness repair
Naught that thou dost hides thee from despair

Go slowly, O knight, through tears and thorn
Whever thou goest, thou hearest the horn
They call thee to war, desolation forlorn
Ne'er to rest but fight through 'till the morn

Go slowly, O knight, take with thee thy fame
Whose eye is keen, yet still better his aim
Live your life now; know the end of this game
Giver of hope, know naught of great shame

Go slowly, O knight, great lance in thy hand
With thy sword bring good from evil demand
Though all else fail, yet surely thou must stand
Fight on to the end, fight on for thy land.

Friday, March 02, 2007

snow and tulips

After being spoiled for a couple weeks with my idea of perfect winter weather we are being hit (note the elegant use of the passive progressive) by a snowstorm. I didn't realize how I was looking forward to spring until this setback.

But it really won't be that long until spring really arrives (it just seems that way) so to cheer us up, here's a photo of some tulips given to my Grandma on Valentine's Day. Hopefully they are able to help tide us over until the tulips outside wake up and bloom.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

pointy pokes

As the day approaches for the beginning of the missions trip, I have had several people ask me if I'm worried about raising enough money in time. The question was unexpected at first (now I'm accustomed to answering it) but I have answered every time in the negative (explaining why I'm not) and gone on to other aspects of the issue at hand.

I don't think that I have picked up any of that worry simply by the suggestion in their questions. I honestly believe that I have no anxiety about that aspect (didn't think that was an area that required work) and yet God, in His providence, sent me two specific passages in the Bible in my devotion schedule today that apply comfort to this issue (especially when the passages are considered together). It was such an awesome feeling to realize how directly He spoke to me and my situation today, yet I know that He always speaks through His word.

The reality is, that it took a very pointed poke for me to wake up and listen. Yes, Leviticus can be tedious at times but
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: -II Timothy 3:16
and I need to start living out that truth. I need to be reminded that the Bible is God's words! That truth is one that has become so close to me that I have lost sight of it.
I truly enjoy my time of devotions (a step forward from those years when I first started to implement them and struggled along with my 'this is my duty' attitude, but that's another line of thought) but there was a time (not that long ago) when every word was a comfort and became precious to me. I was much closer to the picture of the hart in Psalm 42 then. Since finding the brooks I suppose you could say I have slaked that immediate need and find myself wandering again.

So perhaps my main lesson from these two passages is not so much to help my anxiety over money matters but to remind me that I need to listen if I am to grow at all in my relationship with Him (communication is key in all relationships; earthly and heavenly!).

I suppose after all that I should share the two passages (or the few verses in each passage) that jumped out at me today. The first was Leviticus 25:20-22:
And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.
I suppose I should provide some background and context (this is going to take longer than I thought!): In the passage the rules for the observation of the jubilee year are being set out and God is anticipating their worries and obstacles by telling them that He is providing enough ahead of time to cover all their needs. The background of my situation is that I am observing this year as a partial jubilee year (my exact reasons for this are even more extensive so I shall leave them out) and the missions trip is part of how I am applying the jubilee idea to my life. I have expenses but the Lord has so blessed me that I have no immediate need of money and even a surplus (that I had planned on using for such a trip as this).

The other portion of the passage is Mark 10:24-27:
And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
What jumped out were the first and last verses. Even though I am not worried about the money situation, is that because I trust God to provide (actually it's closer to God having already provided) or because I can see the figure in my bank account? Am I truly asking God to sustain me through everything or am I simply giving Him lip service as I look to more tangible supports?

Anyway those are just a few of the avenues of interest that I found in comparing these passages to my situation. God is so amazing! His word is power and His timing is perfect! Praise His name!