Posts tagged ‘Books’

July 30, 2009

The Cherry Orchard

P1010018All Russia is our orchard. The earth is so wide, so beautiful, so full of wonderful places. [Pause]. Just think, Anya. Your grandfather, your great-grandfather and all your ancestors owned serfs, they owned human souls. Don’t you see that from every cherry-tree in the orchard, from every leaf and every trunk, men and women are gazing at you? if we’re to start living in the present isn’t it abundantly clear that we’ve first got to redeem our past and make a clean break with it? And we can only redeem it by suffering and getting down to real work for a change. ~ by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

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It’s a beautiful thing when literature and life collide! When you leave your every day routine, step into the unfamiliar and purpose to experience the moment, life enlarges and expands.

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Last week, I found an ad for one weekend only of pick your own cherries (and currants) at a local orchard, and was determined to wedge it into our scheduled weekend. One of my favorite books is French Woman Don’t Get Fat.  In her book Mireille Guiliano reveals the beauty of the French culture.  She writes about her childhood home and various types of fruit her family grew, harvested and preserved. Food is respected and fruit is treasured in French homes and hearts. Her book has inspired me to get in touch with my French-side (yes, I’m part French). Now, I make my own bread, yogurt and have preserved fruits and veggies for years.

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My lovely mother joined us for this adventure in the cherry orchard. I love to pick fruit on so many levels. With so many references to fruit, the Bible literally comes alive. The fruit itself has a unique beauty that inspires the artist in me. The joy of watching generations of people experience the same child-like wonder fills my heart.  And the thoughts of cherry pies sans metal cans and high fructose corn syrup, spurs me on despite the occasion cloud burst.

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For me the most amazing part was what I alluded to earlier, the literary experience.  The majority of the people who had travelled for miles and miles to pluck buckets of cherries were Russian immigrants.  They brought everyone from Grandpas to little tots and in between – beautiful teen girls and polite young men in their twenties and thirties.  Every generation joined in the effort to provide their family with the cherries that culture so delights in. For me, it was like I stepped into the backdrop of the Russian play, The Cherry Orchard. I’m a huge fan of Russian literature and just inhaled the moment so precious and lovely.  The beautiful morning, the melodious sound of Russian spoke by natives, the joy in their eyes, the little old man who climbed the cherry tree to get the ones just out of reach – I captured it all in my mind’s eye and treasured it all my heart.

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Not only do my jars of currant jam for tea and scones and cherries frozen for Valentine’s Day pies represent “getting down to real work,” they will be a tasty reminder of my morning in The Cherry Orchard.

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And then we’d send the dried cherries off in carts to Moscow and Kharkov. And money! And the dried cherries were soft, juicy, sweet, and nicely scented. . . They knew the way. . . . ~ by Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard

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Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:17

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June 11, 2009

I Spy with My Little Eye

glass.001I spy with my little eye something that starts with a M…

Since I was little girl, I’ve wanted to be a mommy – especially a mommy of boys. Growing up with only sisters, I desperately wanted a brother and prayed that God would make me the mother of sons. And when I played, there was always the mommy element to whatever I was doing. Playtime was serious training for my future role.

All little girls watch their mommies in hopes of gaining the skills, training, wisdom and resources needed for parenting, and I was no exception. My mother loved to bake all kinds of delicious treats – I watched. My mother gave generously of her time, energy and resources – I watched. My mother was passionate about her beliefs and her faith – I watched. But, my mother lacked something that I deeply desired: she wasn’t the mother of sons.

I distinctly remember searching for those mothers of boys. I watched as they nurtured their sons, and I watched as they cared for themselves, too. I listened to what they said to their sons and about their sons. I naturally gravitated to those who had the skills, wisdom and temperaments I wanted to exemplify. When they needed babysitters, I was the first to volunteer. 

While reading Nurture, my heart was quickened and reminded of this childhood search for mentoring and nurturing.Nurture As a young girl, I wasn’t enlightened enough to understand why I was drawn to these women, but now I see it so clearly. And whether good or bad, these women who were the wallpaper of my little life had no idea they were under a microscope. 

We are being watched by little eyes. The hearts of young girls are desperately searching for the tools, wisdom, training and skills they need to be good mommies. So keenly I am aware of this now. Last week was our final hockey tournament after a 6 weekend run; this was our home tournament. Colin, son number two, had implored me to come to his game on Sunday since they were playing for the championship.

“Mommy, could you pleeeeease find someone else to teach for you? You missed my last championship game…”

He was right – I’d actually missed a few championships. And because of a very gracious volunteer, I was able to rearrange things to be there. So, there I sat in the arena’s mezzanine with the two younger brothers competing for my lap and my attention. Distracted and tired, I had a choice to make. I could let their antics gnaw at me, or I could make a decision to patiently admonish and redirect. Two little girls were sitting near us. I felt them grow quieter and more attentive as my sons grew more active and disruptive. They were watching!

Now, it’s my turn – rather our turn. We are the wallpaper in the lives of little boys and little girls. Perhaps, we aren’t directly training or nurturing or directing, but we are setting a example whether good or bad. We do have a responsibility not only to our children to train them, but our responsibility extends far beyond our four walls.

I spy with my little eye something that starts with a M…

We can draw an inescapable conclusion: the older women are being watched by the younger. Whether you signed up to be an example or not, you are one. – Nurture by Lisa Bevere

June 5, 2009

From My Bookshelf

Turn on the tea-kettle, grab your prettiest chintz teacup and settle into your favorite chair. Reading Lisa Bevere’s new book, Nurture, is like an intimate afternoon tea with your very best friend. Listen as she shares from the depth of her heart:

This gathering of women, this hunger for nurture, is what drives me. I want to find the daughters and help them recover life and safety. I want them to grow so they can fly. I want to turn the heads of busy mothers so they will notice the daughters who are searching. And I want to empower the grandmothers to lend the comfort only they know how to give so well. I want these women nurtured well, so they can in turn enlarge the lives of others – who will hear the cry of Earth’s citizens.

Lisa Bevere BookNurture will take you on a journey of the heart with the destination being a rediscovering of God’s purpose for you as a woman. When God made woman, she was beautifully equipped and gifted for nurturing from the heart to the heart. Somewhere along the way, we seemed have lost our God-given endowment to nurture and reproduce, but not hopelessly. God is raising up wise companions who will walk with us and encourage us to take our place in God’s plan (Proverbs 13:20). Lisa Bevere is a voice of wisdom calling out the daughters, mothers and grandmothers of our age.

Like Wisdom personified in Proverbs 9, Nurture provides a table of nourishing delights. It could also be likened to a cup of steaming tea to be sipped, savored and enjoyed. 

 Wisdom has built her her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.

 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; 
       she has also set her table.

 She has sent out her maids, and she calls 
       from the highest point of the city.

 “Let all who are simple come in here!” 
       she says to those who lack judgment.

 “Come, eat my food 
       and drink the wine I have mixed.

 Leave your simple ways and you will live; 
       walk in the way of understanding.

Proverbs 9:1-6

May 29, 2009

Frugal Friday: Granola

A little knowledge CAN be a dangerous thing. And once given a smidgeon of knowledge, you are forced to make a decision. There is no turning back. Hence, the danger.

51210RGXETL._SS500_In my case, the little bit of knowledge has to do with cereal manufacturing. My parents are organic-certified producers and attend conferences on a wide variety of related topics. They introduced me to Sally Fallon‘s book, Nourishing Traditions. Her book offers a wealth of knowledge regarding nutrition, healthy eating habits and nurturing foods. She explains in her book that dry cereals are produced by extrusion. Grains are made into a slurry, poured into a machine called an extruder, and then forced out of a hole at high pressure and temperature. The shape of the whole dictates the shape of the cereal. If that isn’t enough, the shapes are slice, sprayed with a coat of oil and a coat of sugar. The extrusion process all but destroys any naturally occurring nutrients, fatty acids (these are GOOD), and even the chemical nutrients that fortify the cereal. During this process, amino acids become toxic. 

Faced with this wee bit of information, I have been forced to make a decision: no going back to manufactured cereal ignorant bliss!

So now this is how I shop: When I reach the dreaded cereal aisle, I pick up the pace (My little boys in the cart resemble test pilots going Mock 1). I zoom past all the colorful cartoon and beautifully styled food pictures to grab my precious jar of wheat germ and containers of oatmeal (and Irish steel-cut oats).  Quickly, I round the corner before they can even finish their sentences, “Mommy, can we get…” Actually, the boys have for the most part ceased to ask for cereal. Every-so-often, I will fall off the bandwagon and grab a box of whole grain goodness. Not being able to help myself, I read the list of ingredients. “Oh, that’s right, BHT…” (another one of those little bit of knowledge deals) and 95% of the time it goes right back on the shelf (The other 5% usually involves the need for Rice Crispy Bars).

acp_00_11So, we make do with instant oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, fraffles/wench toast, French toast, coffee cake, scones, home-made cinnamon bread, eggs, toast, porridge and the like. Years ago, my mother faced with many of the same breakfast challenges (four daughters rather than four sons) would make us home-made granola from the More With Less Cookbook (a must have for any frugal fanny with a health-food bend!). It was simply delicious! Armed with that memory, I have determined to find the perfect granola recipe and create my own convenience breakfast.

Granola is also a frugal response to expensive and nutritionally-challenged boxed cereal. It meets my frugal standards of being highly nutritious, tasty, nurturing and cost effective!

Happy Frugal Friday!

Wise men store up knowledge. Proverbs 10:14a

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May 20, 2009

Weeding My Soul

This mess is you! Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive – a living fractal. – The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

shackcoversmRecently, I read an interesting and intense piece of literature called The Shack by William Paul Young.  If you haven’t yet read this New York TImes Bestseller, the book is a beautiful allegory exhibiting God’s love for broken humanity.  My favorite chapter in when the main character, Mack,  joins Sarayu, the Holy Spirit, in a messy garden.  The two spend time together laboring over a plot of weeds all the while weeding through Mack’s deepest questions and hurts and utter confusion.

Today was a perfect spring day and I was fortunate to be able to spend much of my morning in flower beds pulling out many, many weeds.  One of the reasons I love to garden is because nature truly reveals some of the deeper things of God. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

As I pulled and hoed and clipped, I was able to reflect on the imagery of The Shack. Isn’t amazing how garden plots are so similar to our lives? Just take a look at weeding. Weeds are the enemy to our soul. Their sole purpose is to choke out anything fruitful in the garden plot.  They steal. They kill. They destroy.

So what do these perversive weeds look like in our lives? Jesus describes them as “sons of the evil one” in Matthew 13. Weeds are really anything that separates us from the love of God thereby inhibiting growth and fruition. Weeds are worries.  Weeds are 450px-Tulip_-_floriade_canberralies. Weeds are sin. Weeds are condemnation. Weeds are past hurts. Weeds are works. Weeds are a physical representation of our fallen state. Weeds are the enemy of our soul.

What is amazing about weeding and gardening is that it is a lifetime task.  One cannot just weed their garden and expect that they will be weed-free thereafter. It is a process of pulling and uprooting. And, if one is diligent about this task, it actually gets easier. The roots aren’t as deep and so becomes quite easy to pull them up. But, pull we must.

Jesus told us in this life we will have trouble. In other words, we will have weeds – it’s a given. But if we diligently partner with the Holy Spirit, we will be able to root out these enemies to our growth and freedom. Together with the Master Gardener, we can walk through the garden secure in the fact that we are loved and that we are a work in progress. Weeds will grow, but the Holy Spirit will be there as our Helper and Companion. He will patiently assist us as we yield to Him.

There is no condemnation or judgement in this garden. God has a plan and loves us deeply. He isn’t concerned that everything isn’t perfectly manicured. He is God the only infallible one. He understands our fallen state better than we do. When we do miss it, His grace and love are poured into our lives. His love washes over us and causes us to be a well-watered garden. (Isaiah 58:11)

I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit is actively beside me and He lovingly identifies the weeds that have prevented growth in my life. It is like Sarayu says to Mack, “To prepare this ground, we must dig up the roots of all the wonderful growth that was here. It is hard work, but well worth it. If the roots are not here, then they cannot do what come naturally and harm the seed we will plant.”

May 5, 2009

KAL Mystery

photo-54I joined my first KAL. It was impulsive. I didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t even sure what the acronym meant. I just did it. Maybe it was the pretty purple yarn. Maybe it was the scent of a mystery (I love a good mystery!). Maybe it was the challenge.

For those of you who are still in the dark, a KAL is a Knit-A-Long. KAL is just one of those esoteric terms found in knitting circles (SSK, YO, dcdec, M1, K1, SSP, FROG, and many more). In these KALs, groups of knitter get-together virtually (Ravelry.com) and knit a project. Along the way, tips and victories and frustrations are all shared. 

Except for a childhood class in purling a scarf (I’m sure I invented the YO – you should have seen the holes!), I am a self-Madame DeFargetaught knitter. I’m now nearly fluent in knit-ease, but I still have a long way to go. The knitters in these groups are die-hard knitters (I’m sure they would have the mysterious French knitter in Charles Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities quaking in her des chaussures!). They perform amazing knitting feats without batting an eye. Clearly, I am way out of my league.

The mystery is the pattern. The clues are released one by one as you are knitting the project. The pattern is a pair of socks, but what will they look like? Clue Two was released yesterday and I am still struggling with finishing clue one. Tobias, the cat, has been circling my yarn as if to mock my efforts (He loves yarn! He loves chewing yarn into little pieces preferably when I am mid-project).

Of course, I’m loving the challenge and I even got my mom to join too.  And, there is still time if you are up for the challenge: 

http://www.knittersbrewing.com/storename/knittersbrewing/ViewDept-260510.aspx

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor. Proverbs 12:24

March 24, 2009

Tips for Tight Places

Earlier, I wrote about claustrophobic places.  When the walls seem to be closing in on you, and you begin to feel like Pooh Bear (a wedged bear in a great tightness).  But take courage, there is relief in those tight places. David prayed in Psalm 4:1 for God to expand him in those tight places.  He had the wisdom to know sometimes God leads us to spacious places, but there are also times God chooses to expand us in those places of great tightness.

If you are in a similar place, whether physical or emotional or whatever, God can expand you.  Here are my Tips for Tight Places:

1 – Pray for expansion:  David admitted that he was in a tight place, and prayed for expansion.  He did not just assume that God would notice and do something about it.  David knew the value of asking.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

2 – Pray specifically for the need:

If any of your lack wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5

Financial expansion – This can include wisdom in budgeting, discovering new avenues of income, and utilizing current resources creatively.  Watch for out-of-the box answers to your request.  

This past year has been very tight financially for our family. But, we’ve discovered a wealth of things that have expanded our finances and our perspective.  One extremely valuable thing my husband and I did was to attend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  This provided us with tools and knowledge that we quite frankly didn’t possess before.  

We worked with my parents and my sister’s family gardening all summer, and canning the harvest. Anyone need a jar of kraut?  My two older sons and I spend our early mornings during the summer months at a local market garden picking fragrant strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  Some afternoons, we also sold buckets of berries.  We were rewarded with a small income, and often times with berries as well.  We became berry rich!  Again and again, we discovered that God can expand a limited budget.

3 – Pray and meditate on God’s word – Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness? – A.A. Milne, In Which Pooh Goes Visiting 

There are many comforting passages from THE Sustaining Book: The Bible. Write them on notecards and memorize them. Repeat and personalize them daily.  Romans 8:31-39 is one such passage:

 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 
   “For your sake we face death all day long; 
      we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

4 – Trust GodTrust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Tight places can be exceedingly uncomfortable places, but there are places of intense personal growth. Often times, they are a proving ground or preparation for new phases in your walk with God. Trust God not your circumstances, and know that He WILL make your way straight.