Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Golden Old Friends

'Make new friends, but keep the old....
one is silver and the other gold."

 This past week-end several friends gathered here in Bend for a fun and support filled week-end. I got married in the summer of 1971, and when we returned from our honeymoon, all these ladies were living in (or just leaving) Burns, Oregon.
 We attended First Baptist Church there, and were lucky to be in the church during a wonderful few years of great friendship. These ladies were at the baby shower for my first daughter, Joy, and I learned a great deal from these young Moms. * For the sake of our family members, the ladies are from L to R: Barb, Mary, Peggy, Cheryl and Linda.
Shortly after this, I met my very best friend for life, Nancy, in the same place at the same church. God was good to provide mentors for me, in sewing, crocheting, cooking, gardening and loving my husband, at that church and among the ladies there.
Forty-plus years later, we had our second 'annual' reunion week-end. We went out to dinner, we talked, we ate, we did a little 'antiquing', we enjoyed the great weather, we talked, we went out to tea together, we had fun, we cried, we talked, we ate some more, we walked, we prayed, and we loved each other.

How great is that??

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Quotations from The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

My minister-husband and I have been moving through this book, but it's taken me a while to set aside some typing time to share some quotes with you.  Here are the ones I underlined as we finished up chapter one: 
(For some readers this may be uncomfortable or hard to read, as Rosaria is a convert from a Lesbian lifestyle.  But I think it is very powerful because it's like a window into the heart of a person going through world-rocking change.  It sheds bright light on the human heart and also on what it takes emotionally to turn from a life of sin to a life of obedience.)

"I learned that we must obey in faith before we feel better or different.  At this time, though, obeying in faith, to me, felt like throwing myself off a cliff.  Faith that endures is heroic, not sentimental."
"Slowly but steadily, my feelings did start to change - feelings about myself as a woman and feelings about what sexuality really is and what it really isn't.  I - like most everyone who identified as gay or lesbian - felt very comfortable, very at home in my body, in my lesbianism.  One doesn't repent for a sin of identity in one session.  Sins of identity have multiple dimensions, and through-out this journey, I have come to my pastor and his wife, friends in the Lord, and always to the Lord himself with different facets of my sin.  I don't mean different incidents or examples of the same sin, but different facets of sin - how pride, for example, informed my decision-making, or how my unwillingness to forgive others had landlocked my heart in bitterness.  I have walked this journey with help.  There is no other way to do it.  I still walk this journey with help." (Italics mine)

"God sent me to a Reformed and Presbyterian conservative church to repent, heal, learn and thrive.  The pastor there did not farm me out to a para-church ministry 'specializing' in 'gay people.'  He and the session knew that the church is competent to counsel (to quote the title of one of Jay Adams' useful books).  I needed (and need) faithful shepherding, not the glitz and glamor that has captured the soul of modern evangelical culture.  I had to lean and lean hard on the full weight of scripture, on the fullness of the word of God, and I'm grateful that when I heard the Lord's call on my life, and I wanted to hedge my bets, keep my girlfriend and add a little God to my life, I had a pastor and friends in the Lord who asked nothing less of me than that I die to myself.  Biblical orthodoxy can offer real compassion, because in our struggle against sin, we cannot undermine God's power to change lives."

"I think churches would be places of greater intimacy and growth in Christ if people stopped lying about what we need, what we fear, where we fail, and how we sin.  I think that many of us have a hard time believing the God we believe in, when the going gets tough.  And I suspect that instead of seeking counsel and direction from those stronger in the Lord, we retreat into our isolation and shame and let the sin wash over us, defeating us again.  Or maybe we muscle through on our pride.  Do we really believe that the word of God is a double-edged sword, cutting between the spirit and the soul?  Or do we use the word of God as a cue card to commandeer only our external behavior?"

"Conversion put me in a complicated and comprehensive chaos."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Lovely Month of June in Two States

This is the first big butterfly I've seen this year.   And my first rose has now bloomed.  What a lovely month is June in West Virginia.  Oh, and I saw my first fireflies two nights ago. 

And the photo below is from my (Jennie) yard yesterday. Yes, June is a lovely month in Oregon too. Everything is SO green, and this June the rhododendron's are running into the roses and peonies and the iris into the day lilies, and I'm outside in delight. This must be why bride's have traditionally chosen this beautiful month to marry in.

"And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten."

James Russell Lowell

Clam Chowder on a Cool June Evening

 I haven't done a cooking post on here for a long while, so decided that it was time. Yesterday was a cool drizzly day in the 50's here, perfect for a clam chowder night.
This is one of my all-time favorite soups, and one I don't need a recipe to throw together. Here are the ingredients:
1 Large Onion
3 or 4 Slices of Bacon
2 Cans of Minced Cans, with the Juice
3 Large Potatoes or 6 Medium Ones
1 Can Evaporated Milk
1-2 C of Whole Milk
Flour mixed with water for thickening
1 T of Butter

Cook bacon until crisp, removing the bacon and reserving the fat. Roughly chop the onion and cook in the bacon fat. Sprinkle the onion with course salt while cooking to aid in the weeping. While cooking, peel the potatoes and chop into 1" pieces. When the onions are translucent, add the potatoes and stir around in the onions and grease a little to coat with flavor. Add enough water to just cover the potatoes, and a generous T. of salt. Drain the 2 cans of clams and add the juice, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft. Add the can of evaporated milk, 2 C of milk and 2 cans of clams, and heat through but do not boil. Shake together 1/4 C of flour and enough water to make a paste that will still pour. and add to the soup, stirring until thickened. Depending on how thick you like your chowder, you may have to do this step twice. I added the flour water mix twice last night and it was just right. Add the tablespoon of butter to melt and you are ready to serve along with oyster crackers of course!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Things I Wish I Would Have Known

I was thinking that I (Jennie) would like to start a new series on Tending Our Gardens, with an occasional post. Over the years, there is so much that I have learned, from others, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and from watching my girls raise their children. I occasionally wish I would have known these things as a young wife and mother, and that I could go back and do things differently. Well, we all know that isn't what God has intended for us, so instead I thought I would write a few of these things down and from time to time add a post in a series of 'Things I wish I would have known...'.  Maybe God will use these ideas and lessons learned to spur on others in their lives, and they will know much earlier than I did.

The first thing God brought to my mind that I wish I would have known is that working children are better than playing children. In the culture that I grew up in, which was the 1950's and 60's urban life, kids had a few chores that they did for allowances, but mainly they spent their time playing. Before they started school, then after school, on week-ends and all summer. My Mom sent me to my room to play, down the basement to play, or outside to play etc. It was fun and good, but my friends and I got into a lot of trouble along the way, and I grew up thinking that was what kids did with their time. I didn't bother my mother, but I also didn't help her with anything and did not learn much, either in the way of housework or gardening or yard work. I thought that playing was a child's right, not a privilege.
After getting married, and having three daughters of my own, I just repeated these same ideas. The little ones played all day, made messes around the house which I picked up, and generally spent their time playing together and leaving me to my 'work' alone. Oh, how I wish I could go back to those days, and change that. Having a little one with Mommy, doing what Mommy does, working alongside her and learning from her is the best, the very best mentorship possible. That time is precious, so precious. Keeping small ones and big ones busy, working at projects, or learning lessons is so very much more profitable than playing with endless toys. When children are small, it's hard to visualize the adults they will become. But the only way they will become adults who are equipped to face the world with the skills and knowledge they will need, is to teach them each day, every day and spend the time with them, supervising them. I have come to see that children sent off on their own will usually come to mischief and laziness, and children sent off to others to oversee will never develop the same relationships with the parents or the skills the parents want to instill. Very small children do need some toys of course, but not anywhere near as many as I thought they did when my children were little.
Is this way harder? Yes, yes and yes. Will it last forever? No! The time goes by way faster than anyone can ever dream. Are the results worth the effort? Oh yes. What better thing could any woman ever pour her time into, than the growth and education of her children? Can small children really work? I wish you could see my grandchildren. They know how to clean harder than mama and grammie. They know how to cook so well, that they can make a breakfast of eggs benedict, fruit salad, toast and tea all by themselves. The boys can landscape the yard (see photos), build a fence all around the vegetable garden, and take care of their younger siblings including a baby sister. They have taught me just how much children can learn and are capable of. I have seen how much happier they are when guided and working on a project alongside mom or dad.
These ideas you will not find in our general culture today. I'm sure I don't need to tell you what you will find in our culture. But I think fighting our culture in every aspect is worth the work, effort and intention. I'm so glad that God has brought my daughters further along that I was at their age. I'm so glad that I have daughters willing to be different than what they saw from me, and what they see around them. It's called GRACE.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Deer Proofed

On Memorial Day week-end we were gone to the Oregon Coast. When we got back we discovered that a deer had made it's way into our back yard. Now, our neighborhood has a roving herd of deer or two that munch in our front yards and unprotected back ones. For many years we have had a fence that is just a bit too high for them to jump, and we happily grow whatever we want back there. On this week-end an enterprising doe boldly walked up our side handicapped ramp, past our apartment door, and found that the short section of fence there was much shorter. Without further ado, she jumped the section and although quite a drop on the other side found herself in the forbidden garden of her dreams. She ate what she wanted, and then came back to the section, only to find it was much higher on the other side. She must have been in quite a quandary for a while, but eventually jumped high enough to get herself back out, breaking three fence boards in the process. The broken boards were the evidence that gave her away,(along with the munched on plants).
In the next day or two, the insurance man repaired the boards by replacing them, getting everything nice and tidy. As we were sitting in our family room that evening, I noticed a doe go streaking by in our front yard. I mentioned that she wasn't casually strolling and munching, but looked as if she were a deer on a mission. The insurance man jumped up, and ran out our front door and around to the side ramp. He was just in time to see the doe gracefully sailing over the fence. After some shouting to me, we 'herded' our unwelcome visitor to the other end of the yard and garden, and out the gate back to where she belonged. He was gone for quite a while, while I settled comfortably back down to the TV. The next morning I walked around the end of the house to find the above scene. He had definitely put up 'no deer allowed' boards. That doe won't be visiting again anytime soon!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Partial Book Review and Quotations from Chapter 1: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

My husband and I started reading this together today.  It's so interesting that I don't anticipate it being long before we're through.  Written by Rosaria Butterfield, the book chronicles her own conversion from her life as a lesbian, and associate professor at Syracuse University with tenure in the English Department specializing in Queer Theory to her new life in Christ which includes being a minister's wife and homeschooling mother.  That description alone is enough to explain why this is an amazing read.  But on top of her true story, what makes this book great to read is that she was an English professor and her writing is articulate, as well as the fact that she shares her recollections of her perceptions of Christians and Christianity from an "outside" view and from the view of a committed scholar in the university culture in our country.  Fascinating.

I thought I'd share some quotes as I go along:

"Although I knew that I wasn't the smartest scholar in my department, I enjoyed doing research and writing.  I enjoyed (and still do) the risk of examining new ideas.  I had a stick-em on my computer with a quotation whose author I never knew.  It read:  'I would rather be wrong on an important point than right on a trivial one.'  This quotation reminded me that when you make your mistakes in public you will learn that they are mistakes and in being corrected you will grow.  It also reminded me that being wrong and responding to correction with resilience was a higher virtue than covering up your mistakes so that your students and the watching world assumed that success meant never being wrong.  Working from your strengths and cultivating resilience in all matters of life have always been guiding principles for me." (Italics mine)

(I was impressed that these were her values and led her to be open to examining Christianity)

"In addition to appearing to be anti-intellectual, Christians also scared me...the lesbian community was accepting and welcoming while the  Christian community appeared (and too often is) exclusive, judgmental, scornful, and afraid of diversity."

"Feminism has truly captured the soul of secular U.S. universities and the church has either been too weak or too ignorant to know and to know better.  But how has the church responded to this truth?  Too often the church sets itself up as a victim of this paradigm shift in America, but I think this is dishonest.  Here's what I think happened: since all major U.S. universities had Christian roots, too many Christians thought that they could rest in Christian tradition, not Christian relevance.  Too often the church does not know how to interface with university culture because it comes to the table only ready to moralize and not dialogue.  There is a core difference between sharing the gospel with the lost and imposing a specific moral standard on the unconverted.  Like it or not, in the court of public opinion, feminists and not Bible-believing Christians have won the war of intellectual integrity.  And Christians are in part to blame for this."

Through a series of events, Rosaria became acquainted with Pastor Ken Smith and his wife.  Part of the reading we did today expressed her impressions of them and why she liked them. 

"I came to my (lesbian) culture and its values through life experience but also through much research and deep thinking.  I liked Ken and Floy immediately because they seemed sensitive to that.  Even though obviously these Christians and I were very different, they seemed to know that I wasn't just a blank slate, that I had values and opinions too, and they talked with me in a way that didn't make me feel erased."

"One thing that made Ken safe as well as dangerous was a point of commonality between us.  We both are good teachers.  Good teachers make it possible for people to change their positions without shame.  Even as Ken prayed for my soul, he did it in a way that welcomed me into the church rather than made me a scapegoat of Christian fear or an example of what not to become." (Italics mine)