Monday, January 22, 2018

Taking the Good with the Bad


As my parents and I sat around the table playing Skip-Bo earlier this year, I thought of the couple who taught me the game. The man was neither good nor godly, yet I learned from him. I learned more from him than just how to play Skip-Bo. I learned about God, and life, and living, and learning, and loving, and serving. I learned what I don't want to do, about the legacy I don't want to leave, and I received a lot of chances to re-examine my own great needs for restoration and forgiveness from God. God ordained a lot of good within the bad.

Good has come from "bad*" in other situations, too, like from the teachings of a pastor who resigned a church position. He preached the unfailing Word of God, and I learned from his sermons, whether or not his life looked exactly how I'd like. I don't want to forget the "God-things" he taught me.

[I put the term "bad" in quotes not to discount the evil or sin in the world, but to acknowledge that the word "bad" carries with it a lot of negative connotations. Often, people think that the "bad" isn't redeemable. I disagree. We're all bad, haven fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). But I believe in a God who can redeem all things (2 Cor 5:17).]

When life gets hard and people especially are "bad," we tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater. We swear off anything associated with the person, fail to speak the person's name, and sometimes, even deny we know the person. I don't think that's the correct response. When we don't acknowledge the bad that happens, we deny the sin nature that exists in all of us. We don't admit that we ourselves are also capable of bad. We don't seek out and celebrate the redemption and restoration of God. We throw away good things just because they have bad associations.

In and through the Holy Spirit's power, I've chosen to enjoy and celebrate the game of Skip-Bo, even if it comes with some hard-to-accept associations with a bad man. I've chosen to say the name of that pastor that left the church and admit that I learned from him, even if other people won't. Am I perfect? No way, no how! There are a lot of times that I deny the bad in life just so I don't have to admit my own bad. But I don't want to live that way. I don't want to miss out on God's good just because the bad exists. God is sovereign over both.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Clarifying Question

I whipped open that new document at the speed of light and started to paste in a link to an article that resonated with me and buoyed my belief in my cause. I was ready to build a case against the nonsense a loved one had been spouting recently. And then the Holy Spirit stopped me, "How will that affect your heart?" It asked. I stopped dread in my tracks. Mind you, I almost pasted in that link and went back to search for all the other articles I had read that supported the way I believed. But I stopped and thought first.

As I thought, I asked myself how having a library of articles would help my relationship with that person. I asked myself if I intended to send my bastion of proof to the person in written form. I asked myself if my "burden of proof" would really change the way my loved one thought. Not well. No. No. I answered. 

"What would a retinue of articles do for me?" I asked. Justify my cause. Make me feel self-righteous. Make me hold a grudge against the person.

Weighing the pros and cons of my "law library," I made a decision. I closed the document before I pasted in the first link. 

The world doesn't need more lawgivers or judges. The world doesn't need more people arguing their cases, especially about things that don't have eternal value. And my loved one certainly doesn't need a whole lot of push-back against their lifestyle choice, especially since it's not really a black-and-white/right-or-wrong issue.  



"How will that affect your heart? What a good clarifying question to ask before I cast the next stone"They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them" Romans 2:15 says (New International Version). God will take care of the law. And about things that aren't God's law? I've got better ways to use my time for the kingdom. Thank you, Spirit, for the reminder.

I'm linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for this Thinking Out Loud post.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Crocheted Scarf Project

I "taught" my sister-in-law to crochet via video chat (and then her grandma really taught her) a few years ago. Since then, we've been exchanging pictures of our current projects and trading ideas for future making. Over the holidays, we decided to do a crochet link up where we would both pick a pattern and text photos back and forth regarding our progress. She chose the rouge infinity scarf pattern, while I chose the every man scarf, which I wanted to make for my brother who lives in the cold hinterlands of the north. She asked me if I planned to change colors as indicated in the pattern, and I was like, "Nope! Too much work for me."

I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick for this project, which I purchased at Wal-Mart. I went with the variegated moonlight color to give some character to the scarf. This yarn was pretty pricey and took almost three skeins to make an approximately 5 inch by 70 inch scarf.


I chose this pattern because it was easy. In truth, it was probably a little too easy. I managed to screw it up by doing front post only double crochets every other row (instead of back post only double crochets, as stated in the pattern), but it worked out. I only completed seven out of the ten rows with my ergonomic J hook. Three more rows would have been overkill. (I thought ending on row three made the pattern look better, so that's what I did. Basically, I altered this pattern a lot without meaning to.


I completed this #bucketlistproject item in five days, more quickly than expected due to being down with a flu-like virus for a week, but oh well. It's done. (And my sickness might explain why I inadvertently changed the pattern so much.)


Step-by-step pictures are below:


Row 1:

Row 2:

Row 3:

Row 4:

Row 5:

Row 6:

Row 7/Finished project:




Thoughts on this step-by-step crochet post? Do you have questions about this pattern? Do you want to see more or less posts like this? Please share in the comments section.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Wild and Free (Book Review)

I'm trying something new today. After finally finishing reading the book Wild and Free, by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, I typed up the quotes that stuck out to me and created a word cloud:



I thought I'd also share my a bullet point book review:

Agreements:

-God has already won our freedom, so we don't need to strive for it. 
-Our lives are about God's glory, not our own. 
-We need community to thrive as wild and free women.

Disagreements: 

-We're God's treasures, not God's tools.
-What about Ephesians 2:10, which says, " For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do?" 
-Can we find identity as treasures of God so that He can use us as his tools, too?

Take-away: 

-“Everyone wants to know a free woman's secret. The secret is Jesus. Because He has set us free” (p. 226).

What do you think of this type of post? Would you like to see more posts like it in the future? Please comment below.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Lack of a Smile Doesn't Mean I'm Unhappy.

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know that I'm a fan of the Chasing Joy podcast. As I listened to Episode 45 with Marian Mellen, I was struck by her comment about smiling in pictures. She noted that Americans feel forced to smile in pictures and show that they are happy, while this isn't so in other countries. As I pondered her statement, I got to thinking about how this country, and especially Christian culture might too strongly associate happiness and smiling.

Although I consider myself a happy person, I'm not necessarily a smiley person. As I've started singing on worship team at church, I've gotten several comments about how I need to smile more. Okay, I'm working on it. But really, do I need to smile while I sing? God is a high and holy and awesome God. Sometimes when I sing, I'm not smiling because I'm standing in awe of God. Sometimes when I sing, I'm not smiling because I'm focusing on the words, lyrics, or music. Sometimes when I sing, I'm just not thinking about smiling and my face is in its natural resting state. I'm okay!

I'll keep trying to smile while I sing, as I know it improves the worship experience of others, but in the meantime, can we work on accepting non-smiling faces? Sometimes people are hurting. Sometimes people are thinking. Sometimes people are sad. Sometimes people are even happy. They just might not be smiling.



I'm linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for this Thinking Out Loud post.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Chipotle Hummus Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms

Lots of people eat black-eyed peas at New Year's for good luck. That's isn't me, but since we had black eyed peas and all of the other ingredients on hand, I decided to make this spicy chipotle hummus this first week of January. I ate the hummus with veggies and chips (and some cheese!) a few days for lunch.



But then I wanted something different. So I invented this chipotle hummus pasta with spinach and mushrooms based on a recipe I'd see from Budget Bytes.



Creamy, yet spicy sauce, wilted spinach, and umami flavor from the mushrooms? Yes, please! This is really a "use up leftovers" meal, too, so any other type of wilting greens (chard, cabbage, etc.) and vegetables could be used. I personally think a cabbage and mixed vegetable version could be good with the chipotle hummus flavor. (Other flavors of hummus could also be used). Ingredients here could be increased as needed, but the proportions seem to work well.


Ingredients:


1/2 c pasta of choice (I used elbow macaroni)
2 c mushrooms, sliced
3 c baby spinach
1/2 c hummus of choice (I used chipotle black-eyed pea hummus.)
Reserved pasta water


Directions:


1. Bring 2 c. water to a boil in a large sauce pan.
2. Once water boils, add pasta and cook as directed, adding mushrooms for the last five minutes.
3. Once the pasta and mushrooms have cooked, drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water.
4. Return the pasta and mushrooms to the pot. Add the spinach and a little pasta water and stir over medium heat until the spinach wilts.
5. Once the spinach has wilted, stir in the hummus and additional pasta water until a nice cream sauce forms.

Dish up and enjoy piping hot!

Monday, January 8, 2018

How I'm Trying to Redeem My Time

After constantly complaining about how little time I have, I decided to do a little experiment on myself. I decided to "audit" my time by writing down everything I did. I hoped to realize what was and wasn't taking me "so long," in an attempt to save time and use my time more wisely. Want to try this yourself? It's pretty simple. Just find some paper (I used my journal) and try to jot down the appropriate time it takes to do each task of your day. How specific you get is up to you.

Here are a few examples of my own time audits:

Day 1

Day 2

What did I learn from this experiment? 
  • Although I can do my devotions in 3o minutes, I need to allow extra time to get up and actually get around to doing them.
  • It takes me a lot longer to do some chores than I think. For example, I estimated that hanging out the laundry took five minutes. It takes more like 15 minutes. 
  • Two minutes on social media is more like twenty, and night time is a black hole for social media use. If I don't use social media at night, I have a sliver of time for a relaxing activity like crochet, writing on this blog, or reading.
Will I continue the time audits? Maybe not everyday, but on occassion, yes. Time auditing takes time, but it also keeps me accountable.

Time efficient friends, any other suggestions or tips for making better use of time? Please share in the comments section below. 

Thanks!