Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sundays with Jean

...For the Lord promises nothing except to perfect keepers of the law, and no one of the kind is to be found. The fact, then, remains that through the law the whole human race is proved subject to God's curse and wrath, and in order to be freed from these, it is necessary to depart from the power of the law, as it were, to be released from its bondage into freedom. This is no carnal freedom which would draw us away from the observance of the law, incite us to license in all things, and let our concupiscence play the wanton as if locks were broken or reins slackened. Rather, it is spiritual freedom, which would comfort and raise up the stricken and prostrate conscience, showing it to be free from the curse and condemnation with which the law pressed it down, bound and fettered. When through faith we lay hold on the mercy of God in Christ, we attain this liberation and, so to speak, manumission from subjection to the law, for it is by faith we are made sure and certain of forgiveness of sins, the law having pricked and stung our conscience to the awareness of them.
~Jean Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, Chapter 17, Part 1

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sundays with Jean

...[T]he efficient cause of our salvation consists in God the Father's love; the material cause in God the son's obedience; the instrumental cause in the Spirit's illumination, that is, faith; the final cause, in the glory of God's great generosity...
~J. Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, Chapter 14, Part 21

...For justification is withdrawn from works, not that no good works may be done, or that what is done may be denied to be good, but that we may not rely upon them, glory in them, or ascribe salvation to them. For our assurance, our glory, and the sole anchor of our salvation are that Christ the son of God is ours, and we in turn are in him sons of God and heirs of the kingdom of heaven, called to the eternal hope of eternal blessedness by God's grace, not by our worth.
~J. Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, Chapter 17, Part 1

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tragic Opera: abridged

And now for something completely about some haiku? My sdil, Elsa, recently shared some of her haiku, written after one of her music history classes. The topic: opera. If you are familiar with these operas, you will laugh out loud. If not, you can still enjoy her playfulness.

SPOILER WARNING: if you read these on her facebook page, and are still trying to guess the opera, don't look here, because I have included the titles!

Tragic Opera: Abridged
By Elsa Finnegan

Everybody dies.
Is it the plight of all men
or just opera?

Madame Butterfly
U. S. hypocrite
weds suicidal geisha.
An uplifting tale.

Life after death? Yes!
Desdemona is strangled.
and sings anyway.

Euridice stays
across the Styx. Husband grieves:
No boat ride for her.

Girl of the Golden West
These Plains Indians
Sing Italian recit.

Boris Godunov
Usurper and his
cute kids versus ghostly prince.
Guess who goes crazy.

La Boheme
Consumptive falls in
love with penniless poet.
No tragedy here.

The bad have bad ends
and the good do too. But you
could sing well meanwhile!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The blessing of living life...

Perhaps you have missed my regular posts, Gentle Reader. Or perhaps you have not noticed my absence. Either way, I feel I owe you an explanation.

First, the obvious explanation. As can be seen from the photo at right, I have been in parts South visiting my family this week, with limited computer access. My husband is on travel, so I took that opportunity to visit with my parents and my sister. We enjoyed lunch, and shopping, and game-playing together.

But the less-obvious answer to why I have been absent from my blogging is that something remarkable has happened. As many of you know, I recently began using oxygen at night. Darth(I refer to my oxygen compressor affectionately as Darth Vader because it sounds just like him...) has been used by God to wrought a remarkable change in my life. For the first time since my cancer diagnosis, I am sleeping through the night every night. My fatigue and muscle pain are almost completely gone. I have not had to take an afternoon nap in almost two months. I finally feel as though I am recovering! And that recovery is allowing me to do things I have not been able to do for the past two years.

So rejoice with me, Gentle Readers. Where I had almost ceased to hope for improvement, God has lavished blessing upon me. And the truth is, I have been too busy living life to blog as frequently as I have in the past! Isn't that wonderful?!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Liberty and vocabulary...

My mind has been buzzing lately as my online classical ed loop (known as my loopy friends) have been discussing liberty in preparation for a summer conference that several of us may attend. We have been inventing ideas in the classical way, using the topics of invention, and have spent a couple of days kicking around the idea of defining liberty. Of necessity, many other connections come up when one begins to define an abstract term. It has been a delightful and stimulating discussion, ranging from topics educational to theological and philosophical, from the idea of work and vocation, to the idea of vocabulary. "Vocabulary," you ask, Gentle Reader? Yes, vocabulary. As we can understand words and the ideas they express, we are freed from our bondage to ignorance, and our minds are made more facile. But you don't have to take my word for it. I found a lovely couple of quote from Tracy Simmons in His Book, Climbing Parnassus. The context is that Simmons has been discussing the importance of learning Latin, and listing several reasons this is so. He talks about our English indebtedness to Latin, and describes the English speaking student who has learned Latin as owning an obvious edge in English over their contemporaries who do not because,
..."not only has that student learned what the words mean, he learns what they have meant; he has seen them jostling and lounging in their original habitat. They've gamboled at his feet. 'Liberty' never means the same after our backs have been burdened with the full weight of Roman 'libertas'"
T. L. Simmons, Climbing Parnassus(p.168)

He talks about language learning of this sort making our brains "more capacious", that the words and ideas become like tactile things we can feel and that our commerce with them becomes easier and easier. Later, he makes this statement:
"Over time advantages arise from this commerce. One is mental expansion. Not only do our minds become better stored, but they also become more pliant, better able both to embrace new ideas and to judge old ones. They can analyze and synthesize on command. our intellects graduate to hard-won independence. They can cut through thickets of official obfuscation and doubletalk. Classically-educated people are not the prime consumers of propoganda..."
T. L. Simmons, Climbing Parnassus (p.169)

So, today I am grateful for the capacity to name things, which enables the ability to think more carefully. And I am grateful to Christ, who frees me from my sin and from the law, to pursue the calling He's given me in liberty. I hope you all find places to have such discussions!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recent quilting projects...

Here are my most recent completed quilted projects. The first is a wall-hanging for a young friend with a newly decorated room I called it "Bright Blossoms".

And the table runner below was a second anniversary gift (the cotton year) for ben an Elsa. It's a bit difficult to see in the photo, but the fabric in the center and on some of the strips is book shelves complete with a violin, music, books, urns, and other "classic" things that fit Ben and Elsa perfectly.

In the wings: three large quilts underway: one needs the quilting and then binding to be finished and it will be ready for the day bed in the office, one needs something like 35 more pineapple squares for a border before it can be finished for my bed, and the last needs 11 more stained glass-style crazy quilt squares completed. The big projects are so time consuming, that it's fun to intersperse them with quicker, more easily completed projects.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A song for the battle...

This morning, Gentle Readers, I have been praying for the struggles of others, and also lending a helping hand with music selection for worship next Sunday. Both of those paths came together when I was asked to help choose a tune for some wonderful, old Isaac Watts words. I was privileged to sing through this hymn with several different tunes, all verses, several different times. This is the type of hymn we can sing when we are in distress. It is a hymn for our battles. So I list it below for your edification. There is nothing new under the sun, Gentle Reader. We all struggle, and God is always sufficient.

Let Me But Hear my Savior Say by Isaac Watts (1709)

Let me but hear my Savior say,
"Strength shall be equal to thy day,"
Then I rejoice in deep distress,
Leaning on all-sufficient grace.

I glory in infirmity,
That Christ's own power may rest on me:
When I am weak, then am I strong,
Grace is my shield, and Christ my song.

I can do all things, or can bear
All suff'rings, if my Lord be there;
Sweet pleasures mingle with the pains,
While his left hand my head sustains.

But if the Lord be once withdrawn,
And we attempt the work alone,
When new temptations spring and rise,
We find how great our weakness is.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sabbath Sentiments

No more my God by Isaac Watts(1674-1748)

1. No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of Thy Son

2. Now, for the loss I bear His name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His cross.

3. Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus’ sake;
O may my soul be found in Him,
And of His righteousness partake!

3. The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne;
But faith can answer Thy demands,
By pleading what my Lord has done.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Chocolate Sack with friends...

Last night Dave and I broke out of our usual Friday routine of pizza and a movie at home, and headed to Santa Fe. We had a delightful evening with friends, heard some beautiful music, and discovered a wonderful restaurant. What could be better?

Those of you who live locally, you MUST try the Chocolate Maven for dinner. Their chef is amazing: the food was both delicious and beautiful. In the photo above, we are eating a Chocolate Sack: it is a literal chocolate sack filled with cake, mousse, whipped cream and strawberries. The Chocolate Maven has been a Santa Fe standard for a long time, but we didn't realize that last summer they began serving dinner as well as breakfast and bakery items. Check them out!

But even better than the food was the fellowship and the laughter. I hope you all, Gentle Readers, will take time to enjoy friends often durin this new year!

Friday, January 08, 2010

The right kind of naive...

My ds Tim and sdil Nikki have had a tough 24 hours. Yesterday morning, Tim had some minor arthroscopic surgery (to repair a hernia), which went apparently very well. However, Tim is what the surgeon terms "extremely drug naive", which has lead to quite a bit of vomiting and dizziness. It appears that he may be over the hump this morning, and able to medicate for pain without any heaving.

Tim is 24 years old, and not only has he never taken any illicit drugs, but he has never had surgery or anesthesia of any kind (even still has his wisdom teeth), never had prescription pain medication of any time, and is really a healthy young man. While it's good to have that drug naivete, now they know to ask for anti-nausea meds after surgery, should he ever need surgery again.

Would you join me in praying for Tim to recover quickly, control pain, and be able to both rest and eat, and for poor Nikki to get a little sleep today? Thank you, Gentle readers!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Righteousness and pickles...

Yesterday at the grocery store, I was buying a jar of kosher dill pickles, among other things. The teenager bagging the groceries asked the check-out guy, "Hey, what does kosher mean anyway?" The check out guy said he had no idea, and since I had SOME idea, I answered that it had to do with Jewish regulations. I couldn't figure what would be kosher or not about pickles, except maybe if kosher salt was used. The bagger asked, "So what does it mean when someone says something is NOT kosher?" I answered that it meant it didn't follow the rules, or meet the standard.

Today I was working out alone, when another gal I know arrived to work out. I know from previous conversations that she is Jewish, so I put my "kosher" question to her. She explained that kosher referred to treating animals righteously: killing them humanely and without suffering. She went on to explain that some Jews were pushing for kosher standards to be changed, since the original ones were "righteous" in the context of a pastoral society. Now many think that to act "righteously" in producing meat, you must raise the animals humanely as well as killing them humanely, and treat the workers in the packing house humanely, and that those things should now constitute what is "kosher" or "righteous" and what is not.

This was a new idea to me. I never thought of "kosher" as "righteous" before. What a heavy weight it must be to have to be "righteous" all the time. I was left feeling heavy-hearted for this dear woman, and wishing that I might find some way to tell her about the One who is Righteous, who can lift the burden from those of us who are not.

Would you pray for this friend, Gentle Reader? And would you pray for me to show her how differently it looks when you are not trying to stir up righteousness on your own?

Oh, and when it comes to pickles, my friend thinks it does not mean the pickles are kosher, but that the style of pickles is of some sort of Jewish origin. What a fascinating conversation...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Another geocaching adventure

On New Year's Day, Dave and I headed to Albuquerque. Tim and Nikki were returning from their trip to Canada, and since we had to pick them up, we made a day of it, and spent the afternoon and evening with my parents. We also thought it would be a lovely opportunity to introduce my parents to the joy of geocaching.

When we first told them about geocaching, my mother in particular, thought we were very odd, and thought this was a rather strange thing to do, but after the first find, a movie cache where we left a vhs of X-Men and picked up a DVD of Nacho Libre, they were hooked.

We proceeded to a second cache not far from the first, hidden cleverly from view. Below, Dave uncovers the ammo box that held a myriad of small treasures.

And finally, we headed into the dessert west of my parents' house for a final search. Those of you who are not from New Mexico probably don't know what the dessert area of the West Mesa is famous for, so I'll have to tell you, Gentle Readers: dead bodies. Sad to say, but true, the West Mesa outside of Albuquerque has been home to something like 9 murdered women over the last year or so. It gave beating the bush out there quite a different feeling! But all we found was an attache filled with geocaching memorabilia. It was great fun!