walk in newness (2016)

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4

So much of this year – this move, this new baby, this new house – has felt like one giant baptism by fire. In many ways I am a much richer woman at the start of 2016 than I was for 2015, but it has come through much surrender, sacrifice, and sanctification. Last year demanded  we bid goodbye to life in Minnesota, goodbye to other dreams we would have welcomed, and I’m realizing that it was goodbye to another layer of certainty or control,  too. Five months into Missouri, I don’t think we’ve made much progress figuring out what it is we’re greeting with a “hello” here.

I knew I’d hit my life-surprise threshold when the new Star Wars movie came out. Since we had to wait a few weeks after The Force Awakens opened to see family (which was really just a cover for having babysitters so we could go to the movies), I almost read a bunch of online spoilers after I wailed to Aaron that I could not handle even one more big life event curveball. (Star Wars is a life event at our house. We are also in complete denial about the upcoming presidential election — no emotional reserves left for thinking about politics right now.) As someone who really likes goals and dreaming about things that could happen, my stance toward this New Year is extremely anti-climactic. Amid the general hopeful talk of “new years resolutions” and annual goals that everyone else is throwing around, I don’t really want this year to rock. I don’t want to make any big life changes or start any big dreams or have anything else I need to take care of added to my plate. We’re trying to remain positive but realistic about life right now, which means thinking in terms of an entire year is still a bit… much.

What I really want in 2016 is for my life to calm down and be more predictable. And maybe to get everything in the house painted. We’re trying to move from the current Breaking Bad drug den look into more of a “Fixer Upper” feel, and after 7 straight years of remodeling, I would like my house to look decent.

No matter how desperate I am to reduce the turbulence levels of my life this year, I can’t predict what God will bring us in 2016. But on the most practical level I know it is new, and that even when something new is hard, facing it with joy is a practical living-out of Christianity. Paul talks about “newness of life” coming from baptism, and that helps reframe the baptism-by-fire of this fall. Because the Christian life is is both initiated and sustained by the power of the resurrection, this isn’t something we hear once and move on from; it continually transforms us. This means the same resurrection that gives new life in salvation also empowers and compels me to walk in the newness born out of these changes, too. It might not mean I’m marathoning in newness or achieving greatness in any sphere outside of keeping my people fed and clothed. But it does mean we can walk forward step-by-step into this year with faith that this newness is for God’s glory, even without the excitement of big goals or new dreams about what that might look like.

So maybe all we know of 2016 is that it’s new. And that’s a good thing.

a year afresh

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” – G.K. Chesterton

Living far away from family means most of my major holidays are spent running around to see loved ones, sleeping on different beds, living out of suitcases, and coming home exhausted (a 24-hour round-trip with a baby and a dog will do that) to a house that was left in a rush. When returning, there is much to catch up on — mail to sort, clothes to put away (is this shirt clean? Did I wear it? Should I wash it anyway because it was folded right next to these pants that are certainly not clean?), groceries to buy, leftover errands to run, and the gargantuan task of loving so many people in different places while settling back in to life here, where we are. With all that in mind, I told Aaron we had to reclaim some semblance of celebrating the holidays for ourselves and get in the groove of our own personal traditions. Since skipping extended family celebrations every year is not practical or desirable, this year we decided to try celebrating the real 12-days-of-Christmas, which starts on Christmas day and ends on January 6. This has extended our celebrating after a winter holiday season that included two trips back to Michigan. Back in Minnesota we’ve been drinking eggnog coffee, singing carols, and turning on the Christmas tree lights with gusto around here this week. It’s been good. 


(This is not our house and certainly not how I imagined Max looking — ha!)


Every year I pick a phrase or stanza from a Christmas carol for our cards, and this year it was “the weary world rejoices,” from O Holy Night. There was much weariness in 2014 – moving, pregnancy, a new baby, an insanely demanding job for Aaron, many long road trips – but much rejoicing. I only think of the joy, really, but the hints of weariness are present in all things. And honestly, 2015 may have plenty of reason for weariness as well. Aaron is still gone almost all the time, we will probably need to replace some vehicles, we may have any number of family funerals, and we could open ourselves up to the possibility of weariness (or…. heartbreak…..) as Annie grows and we start thinking about more children. Who knows how God will work this year to give us new souls, new eyes, new backbones, new selves? We certainly don’t. And that’s mostly the point. So the words of St Paul to the Galatians are very timely:

Let us not grow weary in doing good, in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. – Galatians 6:9

photo (1)

The end of Christmas mostly means I have to take down our tree today, so I’m enjoying one last day of “real” Christmas carols and preparing for a new year — with many unknowns and responsibilities, but much joy, I’m sure. (And with a new computer that doesn’t take 10 minutes to start, hopefully it will include more writing, too. Thanks for hanging in there, friends!)

reading round-up (5.09.14)

“Max, you know what we say in Minnesota: May showers bring June flowers!” – Aaron, while the dog was perturbed during his first real thunderstorm on Thursday.

[maybe by memorial day the polar vortex will be a memory?]

[maybe by memorial day the polar vortex will be a memory?]

[One] Much encouragement over at The Art of Simple on the difference between organizing and decluttering. We pared down our “stuff” a lot before moving, and the new house is much larger… and we still feel like we have way too much floating around here. I was not in a state of mind to dream about maybe having a baby when we decided to get this particular house, so we lack a real “nursery” and will likely be turning our beloved walk-in-closet into the baby’s room. (Where will those shelves go? Maybe the laundry room? Questions abound.) This means there is lots more unorthodox organizing needed in the next few weeks, and this post nailed my frustration: organization is always temporary; decluttering makes you love your house more. So here’s to wisely culling in order for more love in my home!

[Two] My regular bible study is wrapped up until fall, and I’ve been especially missing the girls I had a fabulous summer study with last year. This is just not the summer for a big project, but I’ve been checking out a few online resources to fill in the gaps. It’s refreshing when my daily She Reads Truth devotional pops up in my reader — and those free printables would be fun to have if I ever actually printed anything off. (I usually find it’s easier to grab markers and copy the artwork than wrestle with the printer we should have recycled two years ago.)

[Three] However… if anyone wants to do Nancy Guthrie’s The Wisdom of God study with me (virtually) this summer, I will make my best effort despite the, uh, impending upheaval during the second half of the season.

[Four] Love these thoughts on social media from Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas: Don’t be a hater. It’s not evil, it’s a tool. Just use it well.

[Five] With Mother’s Day coming up, I’m (of course) thinking and praying for the many, many women I know that find it a stressful holiday. This humorous out-take of the story of Hannah’s prayer from 1 Samuel is good advice for those who want to best love the barren and truth for all.  Additionally, I find that (if anything) a new baby coming so SOON (9-13 weeks for a regular full-term delivery, people!) doesn’t negate the lessons from past years. Maybe she makes me realize how true those things really are? If you haven’t read it yet, check out “Only A Dry Tree?” from my archives, and look for ways to bring a special blessing to those who may feel dry and unfruitful this weekend.

“Let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off… I will… make them joyful in my house of prayer.” – Isaiah 56.

[Six] Guess what — Maybe Jesus Wants Us to Get Stuff Done! And get off the computer!? Really. This advice isn’t always going to be helpful — but I think keeping it in mind makes the days of work AND the days of rest more useful and encouraging, just as God really intended. My friend Hannah wrote about how the Sabbath rest of a Sunday is a blessing… and after living with her in college and being so blown away by how she both DID ALL THE SCHOOL THINGS and DID ALL THE FUN THINGS while also DOING ALL THE RESPONSIBLE ADULT THINGS LIKE RUNNING HALF-MARATHONS AND GOING TO BREAKFAST EVERY DAY, I think she’s on to it: Work hard and rest well in the rhythm God provided.

[Seven] Happy weekend! I hope it involves flowers, lots of french toast with copious amounts of coffee and orange juice, and special moments for honoring those who have cared for you and celebrating whatever fruit God has ordained for your life.

“I know now what they say in your world about justice. And perhaps they say well, for in that world things always fall below justice. But [God] always goes above it. All is gift. …The best fruits are plucked for each by some hand that is not his own.” (C.S. Lewis, Perelandra.)

[As always, more weekend quick reading available at Conversion Diary!]

dust and ashes made good (lent/easter 2014)

[A regular round of links seems a little out of place for Good Friday, but I’ll have plenty of those for you next week!]

We’re living in a state of liturgical disorder. Sometimes we joke that our whole marriage feels like a long season of Advent, always waiting for something without really arriving. Our new church doesn’t seem to acknowledge the church year (which is hard for me, but not a deal-breaker) and with everything else going on, the season of Lent has been almost a non-issue. We’re feeling pretty stretched and deprived already, saying “no” to desires and wants all the time — which probably tells you that we’re more spoiled than spiritual. I also feel like I’m in a 9-month-long Ash Wednesday, constantly aware of my child’s mortality as much as her life.

Normally I love Spring’s rebirth, which feels like nature telling the Easter story, with beautiful life pushing up from dead cold ground. The Minnesota Polar Vortex of 2014 declares this year it will not be so. (I told Max I won’t take him out for a walk until it’s above freezing outside so we don’t slide to our deaths on all the re-frozen melted snow, but he doesn’t understand the delay.)
image (12)As much as I’d love to see grass and flowers right now (which… I REALLY WOULD…) I think this is appropriate weather for contemplating death and what a mighty thing it is that God killed death. The entire Christian faith hinges on the validity of the Resurrection of Christ, and even though it’s backwards and seems a little “spooky,” I think this deserves more press time than we usually give it. (Should other people be quicker to say, “Those Christians! Psychos! They are so anti-whatever-hot-button-moral/political-issue-comes-to-mind!” or, “Those Christians! Psychos! They believe someone rose from the dead!”?)

Like Christmas, Holy Week is about things being backwards. He uses ugly things like betrayals and unfair trials, beatings and mobs and lynchings, and three-day-old tombs, to display what redemption really looks like. It’s about God becoming a dust-and-ashes man to fully taste the very worst of the Fall to overcome death and rise again. It’s about God turning things around, so the sinless man takes on the full weight of sin and is victorious over it forever. It’s paradoxical beauty, for sure – death trampling death, resurrection, reconciliation between sinners and a holy God, eternal life. In turning these things around, God embraces us, full of dust and ashes, and calls us into his goodness, which is so powerful we can look at the most horrific, unfair death …and call it “Good Friday.” We celebrate that all this weekend, and with it consider the mini-Easters we see every day with the marvelous goodness God creates through our lives in so many backwards ways.

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, so we will also bear the image of the man of heaven!” – I Corinthians 15

Advent, Interrupted. (advent 2013)

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. – Matthew 8:20

Instead of following any of our usual traditions, this Advent kicks off an intense season of unsettling. While I am listening to Handel’s Messiah, because that’s just what you do before Christmas (also, it is less annoying than the radio), there is a decided focus on projects like this…

…instead of usual things we might do at this time of the year. Instead of covering little boxes with ornamental paper, I’m covering big boxes with Sharpie-d words like, “KITCHEN/OFFICE/ETC/FRAGILE/HEAVY” (sometimes all on the same box… uh…) and covering oddly shaped packages with shrink wrap, which is like a giant roll of Saran Wrap. Instead of buying candycanes to stir my hot cocoa and preparing favorite traditional dishes, I’m creatively mixing random foods from the freezer into “adventurous meals” in an effort to move it empty.  I miss setting up a Christmas tree, placing a wreath on the front door, making snowflakes, hanging stockings, sitting by the fire with our special Christmas mugs. (Aaron’s is a Grinch.) I’m missing church Christmas events, special times with friends, surprise gifts for people I love, familiarity, routines, and control. Instead, I’m saying “good-bye” to much of this and will have to start all over in the new year.

It’s funny that this season is entrenched in tradition and patterns, and that those annoying radio songs focus on things that stay the same (chestnuts, mistletoe, snow and lights, etc.), because the beauty of the real story is that it isn’t about what stayed the same. The history of captivity, wandering, rigid moral and civil codes, receiving and ignoring confusing prophecies, war, tumult, siege, exile, and silence culminates in an unplanned pregnancy, a sub-par birth situation, an emergency move to Egypt, an entire town bereft of little boys. This does not speak to maintaining long-standing magical-feeling traditions. The beauty of this all is that these interrupted circumstances pointed to what was superior and everlasting, and it wasn’t customs or feelings or family gatherings – it was the faithfulness of God and the fulfillment of His promise.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. …From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ … He has made him known.” – John 1

While I would rather be lighting candles, singing verses of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and reading Messianic prophecies over special dinners, I’m packing up my home, moving away from dear friends and students, spending weeks running around for family gatherings when I would rather be nesting into a new home, and not really doing much of my usual Christmas stuff. This is going to be an Advent with lots of practical reminders of Christ’s coming down to us — from timeless to temporary, from eternal life to a taste of death, from glory to a manger and then no place to lay his head, from the splendor of heaven to the unsettled mess of earth. (Which is more of a condescension than trying to function with the unsettled mess of my living room, though in my mind they seem pretty comparable.)

2013: The year of “MAKING IT HAPPEN”

Our holiday memories this year center around traveling. We visited our families for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, which made for lots of fun and lots of driving. (My little Honda passed the 100,000 mile marker somewhere around Kalamazoo, MI!) Aaron reinjured his knee playing ice hockey and now receives consistent encouragement to visit a doctor, and we’re both enjoying the benefits of our Christmas loot: eating lots of air-popped popcorn, drinking homemade lattes, and keeping warm in wool socks. We really lucked out in the loot department this holiday season.

And now, without much time to really refresh over break, we’re heading full-force into a new year of grace and growth. After Aaron’s four-and-a-half years of PhD slaving, we’re close to the end of this grad school thing, though without a solid graduation date yet. It could be this year. Or it could be later. We don’t really know. It’s hard to even think about “resolutions” or “goals” for the new year because so much is unknown about the future. I suppose this is always true, but it seems very apparent that everything about our life – employment, family, church, house, income/finances, location – could drastically change in the next twelve months. Or it could all stay the same!

During our possible-moving-scare last spring, we had a walk-through with a Realtor to discuss exactly what this house needs before advertising it for sale, and since we have a list to work on, our plan for this year is “make it happen” at home by finishing one house project each month. We slacked off on projects of all sizes this fall while Aaron was hunting and I was drowning in work. I may still be drowning this spring, but we’ll be able to get stuff done together. First up? Finishing the kitchen. Shocker, I know. And luckily (for me!!), our bathroom plans were heartily approved for resale interest, so we’ll start working on that when it gets a little warmer.

But for now, we’ve been working on all the little finishing details for the kitchen project and we’re hoping to wrap them up by the end of January! It’s really embarrassing and disheartening to know we started this all two years ago. Next time we redo a kitchen, we’re hiring out some of the stuff and  we’ll take time off work for our labor instead of squeezing all the magic into weekends.

So this is what the year has looked like for us so far. I’d say it’s pretty exciting!

head lamp; fashionably spray-painted vent.

Aaron is wearing his head lamp while installing our fashionably spray-painted vent cover.

Happy New Year!

a well-examined birthday

There is a certain realization that comes upon a person examining life on their 26th birthday: I am no longer in my early twenties; I am closer to 30 than 20. While I know, deep-down, that this is good, exciting, and normal, it is a little unsettling. So I have done some thinking about the next four years before I hit that big milestone and come up with a list of 30 things I want to do or accomplish before my 30th birthday. Planning like this can be a dangerous thing. Life is very much out of my own control and for as much as I plan, I can’t guarantee that  circumstances will fall in line with my plans. But it also seems wasteful to live without intention and dreams. So, in whatever ways I can make things happen, which may be not at all, I have thirty goals – some big, some small – for the next four years of my life. It is my intention to complete this stuff before April 12, 2016, but, to quote our favorite online hunting show, Midwest Whitetail, “We’ll see what happens.”

1) Figure out gardening. (Spoiler alert: this is in progress already because it might take all 4 years to turn my black thumb green.)
2) Learn Greek. I own the books and I’ve played around with this on my own, but I get distracted while writing out the alphabet. The shapes are pretty and they make me think about other things. I might need to take a real class if I want to make serious progress. I swear, some days it  is no small miracle that I can get anything done at all.
3) Grilling. I should figure out this miraculous thing that occurs when I hand raw meat to my spouse and he magically turns it into a delicious main dish with appealing crosshatch lines.
4) See the Grand Canyon.
5) Get back into the Guitar. I have played guitar for about 10 years, and I always get to the point where I really get the hang of playing bar chords without having to look at what I’m doing… and then forget about it for months. Also, I should probably learn to read tablature notation. This is very important, because it occurred to me that God may call me to a Bluegrass ministry, and if so, I should be prepared to follow.
6) Make and can salsa from our fresh garden tomatoes. [Done! Summer 2012]
7) Finish the Lord of the Rings books. [Summer 2012. Slogging through some parts of Return of the King is the killer, but totally worth it.]
8) Go Camping. Tents. Campfire. French press coffee. ROASTING S’MORES.
9) Real Vacation. This means no cooking and sleeping in real beds. [Mexico, 2013.]
10) Leave the Country. I have been to 23 countries, but not in the past 6 years. [Mexico, 2013.]
11) Go out with Aaron while he is hunting.
12) Go fishing and catch something I can eat.
13) Read my camera manual so I can take better pictures. 
14) Keep my car. I can’t control if it gets run over or something,  but I want to keep it as long as possible!
15) Become a parent (and save extra money in case this means pursuing an adoption.)
16) Keep my closet photo-ready for a month.
17) Get my PhT (“Put him Through”) so you all can send your Christmas cards and wedding invitations to Dr. and Mrs. Hummel. [December 6, 2013!]
18) Get nice family pictures of us. 
19) Visit a winery and go on a tour.
20) Finish my wedding scrapbook and then stop pretending like I care about this hobby enough to make time for it and get rid of all my stuff. (We have been married almost four years.)
21) Try downhill skiing.
22) Learn 4 new challenging piano songs. At least one a year.
23) Make donuts.
24) Buy a new couch that I love. I need to love how it looks. Probably from a real store, unlike our current furniture. [Update: Possibly off the agenda until 2017 or later.]
25) Have a house with a real guest room. You know… one that has a bed for company instead of a Craigslist couch that is, I promise, actually pretty comfortable.
26) Get the hang of cookies. I have had a few successes and a lot of failures in cookie-baking already, but I’d love to find consistent success. I have a feeling it may be connected to my current disdain for strict recipe-following.
27) Go shooting with Aaron.
28) Do another photo-booth with Aaron because the one from when we are dating is, to be honest, totally adorable.
29) Teach myself to like olives[If they are excellent quality, I’m happy with them plain and no longer pick them off Greek Salads, so I’m calling this a win.]
30) Hold off on getting a smart phone as long as possible. [Bit the dust November, 2013.]

giving up

A little over a week into Lent, I’m surprised at how scattered my thoughts about self-denial and repentance remain. I suppose it’s not a very fun thing to think about. At least with the other “big” Church season of Advent, we prepare for the revelation of Word made flesh while planning holiday menus and anticipating the spiritual experience of getting loads of loot. Not so with Lent! For nearly two thousand years, Christians have spent forty days in repentance and self-denial preparing to observe the most extreme series of events in human history: Jesus’ undeserved betrayal and gruesome death that make way for the eternal victory of His resurrection.

It can be rightly said that this is a special season of grief for sin and brokenness in ourselves and the world, and turning away from these things back to God. Of course we should seek repentance at all times, but that doesn’t make Lent irrelevant. There is much to gain in approaching this corporately and systematically — or, to use the evangelical lingo, “in community” and “intentionally.”  Compared to our full observance of Christmas (and sometimes Advent), we evangelicals tend to tend to sweep Lent and Easter under the rug. Perhaps this is further evidence of our own brokenness, indicating that we don’t always take the the death and resurrection of Christ as seriously as his birth.

My thoughts and convictions on this topic are still not fully formed, but mostly my point here is that these forty days are a special time of examining my own heart and orienting myself more fully towards the gospel. In giving up small things – this year, it’s sleeping in past six o’clock and using the computer after dinner – I’m more aware of how much I hang on to and how much Christ gave up for me. And I’ve failed at one or both of these things every day. This teaches me even more about my own rebellion and powerlessness, and how much I must cling to God in all things. I want Lent to be a big deal because these tangible experiences help break me out of my own fallen perspective and emotions. Rightly understanding my own state of helplessness and defeat is the only way I can rightly understand what the gospel means. In Lent, when I turn my heart towards sorrow for sin and grief for all that brokenness has wrought in my life and the world, I gain a deeper understanding of St. Paul writing: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive!” and the traditional liturgy stating: “Thus we proclaim the mystery of faith – Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ is coming again!”

Though “giving up something for Lent” alone is meaningless, with a contrite heart the tradition of fasting and denial teaches us about surrender, sacrifice, and salvation. These lessons are profoundly valuable. I’m glad to be observing Lent this year, because I know in “giving up”  little things  to make room for greater devotion to God, I’m learning more about giving up entirely.

“…whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:39, esv.

fire at Slane Hill

I have many reasons to love St. Patrick’s Day. Although my strongest ethnic identity comes from my Finnish grandfather who blessed us with Saunas and Kropsu and loose familial ties to the “Flying Finn” Paavo Nurmi, I can celebrate this day whole-heartedly because I’m about one-quarter Irish. I love beer, corned beef and cabbage. I love the color green. And if it were possible for an annoying little red-haired leprechaun to give me a pot of gold, I would be in favor of that. I do have a kitchen to remodel.

I also love the nerdy and sacred historical basis for this celebration. The exact details are sketchy, but it’s widely accepted that teenage Patrick was kidnapped from his home in Scotland and taken captive to tend sheep for a druid master in Ireland in the 400’s. In the six years (My God! I whine about much shorter trials nearly every day!) of his slavery, he gave his heart over to God in prayer and was so intimately connected to the Lord that he recounted praying at least one hundred times a day in all weather and all circumstances. These circumstances were pretty awful, being kidnapped to live outdoors as a shepherd and enslaved to a druid master.  In his sixth year of captivity, God led him to run away from his captors and he escaped to be with his family again. Happy ending? Not yet. He was then trained as a priest and called to go back to spread Christianity in Ireland. Legend says he dreamed of the people of Ireland calling him to come and preach to them. (This wasn’t the first time someone heard their call to mission in a dream…)  He brought the gospel to the country of Ireland and ministered effectively throughout the land for 28 years, inestimably blessed by a full knowledge of their language and religious customs. He is famous for lighting a fire on Slane Hill the night before Easter to represent the light of Christ – this against the direct commands of the pagan rulers celebrating a Spring Equinox festival.  The fire burned brightly and incited a showdown with the pagan ruler and his men, but by the power of God, Patrick preached the gospel to the whole pagan army on Easter morning.

The Irish tune Slane is named after the memory of Slane Hill where Patrick shone the light of Christ and proclaimed his death and resurrection on Easter Sunday. We often sing it with the words of the song Be Thou My Vision. It’s a wonderful hymn, and I especially love the “hidden” verse you almost never hear sung in church:
Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight
Be Thou my dignity, Be my delight!
Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower
Raise Thou me heavenward, O power of my power.
(Be Thou My Vision, English translation by Eleanor Hull)

We also have a prayer from St. Patrick which includes the following stanzas:
I bind unto myself today:
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name:
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

So. If you think of all this when celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, you will see that drinking beer can be a very spiritual experience.

fat tuesday

Aaron asks if we ate pancakes tonight in an effort to live up to the nickname “fat tuesday,” but he doesn’t really care about the answer. Pancakes for dinner? Well, okay. You don’t have to twist anyone’s arm around here.

On this day we mark the eve of Lent, when it is traditional for Christians to participate in various practices of self-denial in order to more tangibly appreciate Christ’s ultimate self-denial: death on the cross.   Reminiscent of their Jewish ancestors clearing the leaven before passover, Christians developed the habit of eating rich and sweet foods (hence the name “Fat Tuesday”) right before entering Lent, when they would abstain from such things until Easter weekend.
Just like we have plenty of meaningful and sometimes silly traditions with our own families, we really enjoyed celebrating this tradition from the family of God and I think we’ll continue doing so in future years!

poached eggs, sausage and blueberry pancakes

This recipe was adapted from my cousin Natalie, so I always think of her when I make them. They are even, um, a little bit healthier than plain old pancakes. Well… I don’t know what difference these actually make when slathered with Buddy the Elf’s fourth main food group, to be perfectly honest with you.   We make these because they are good, not because they make us look good.

Natalie’s Oatmeal Pancakes
1 c whole-wheat flour
1 c quick cooking oats
2 T sugar
1t salt
1t baking soda
2t baking powder
4T butter
2 c milk
2 large eggs

Mix ingredients to make batter, adding more milk if needed for a runnier consistency. Add chunks of fruit (fresh or frozen) if desired. Cook on a hot griddle and enjoy with maple syrup!