Monday, April 20, 2015

Move Over Monday: The Violinist



The Violinist
A little known fact about violinists: in order to hear themselves stand distinct from their orchestra colleagues, they unintentionally tend to tune their instruments slightly sharp or flat in comparison to the other violinists nearby. 
Let me explain. As an orchestra warms up and tunes before a performance begins. The best violinist, known as the first chair or concertmaster, plays her open A string once. The rest of orchestra hears this pitch and adjusts their instruments to match. Concertmaster plays her A again and orchestra joins her forming the sound of one note and one giant instrument. Finally, the concertmaster hands the perfectly tuned orchestra over to the conductor and the show begins. This is the ideal situation. 
However, inexperienced violinists have a hard time making this happen sometimes. The same musicians that can tune any violin in a matter of seconds, struggle. Additionally,  the instrumentalist that can hear a short sound stroked from a violin and judge the pitch correct or incorrect every time, has a hard time adjusting her own sounds to blend perfectly with a group. This is not the ideal situation.
Unintentional out-of-tune violins can be found in orchestras because, as a violinist, you are trained to hear a clear sound with your left ear- the side of your head that the instrument is held on. The left ear hears a very loud and distinct sound during practices, lessons, and small group rehearsals. Each violin has it own sound, much like vocalists singing the same note but with distinction. But, when playing with the orchestra, the sounds of all other instruments make it hard to hear the same violin, even though it is just inches from the ear. So without meaning to, often these violinists alter their pitch so slightly it probably isn’t even noticed by the untrained ear. However, someone that has heard an open A string played for years can tell when one- even among a dozen or more- is out of tune. Out of sync with the rest. 
Thinking about this today made me wince a little because I see it now in light of spiritual things. Without meaning to, this inexperienced violinist must adjust my step, ways, practices just slightly so I can hear myself. Since I can’t hear myself clearly it must mean I am perfectly in tune with my colleagues, right?  Jesus said that his ways were not our ways and his thoughts were not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9) I observe two things here. 
  1. I struggle to trust that I am in sync with God when I can’t hear/see/feel Him close.
  2. I am not naturally drawn to doing things someone else’s way, adjusting my step/speed/direction in order to align myself with another. 
You know what this sounds like? Pride. (The reoccurring issue in my life!) “God, I can’t hear myself because of all the chaos around me. So, I think I’ll adjust something. Yes! There we go, I can hear myself again. Everything’s ok now” Or try this one on for size: “God, I just want to hear what I sound like alongside everyone else. I just have to make sure I have that rhythm right. As long as I can hear myself and I can control it all, I’ll get it done right.” Sound familiar? 
Jesus asks us to walk with him and to stay in stride and instep with him. We aren’t to run ahead, lag behind or wander off. Our feet are to hit the ground so in-sync with his, that only one step is heard. It’s hard to do though. It’s hard to remember that his speed and direction is the best when everything is shifting around us. It’s tough to slow to his desired pace when our eyes catch glimpses of the lengthy to-do list. And it’s challenging to  head in the direction he is going, when someone in need is down the road the other way. But, thankfully, Jesus doesn’t ask us to set the pace, chose the stride length, or navigate the course. He simply wants us to obey, to align ourselves with his purposes and plans, to “gel” with his will. 
As long as our violins are tuned to his perfect A-or our spirit is in line with His spirt; then we can rest in perfect peace that we are “in-tune” with what he has asked us to do. We don’t have to use our limited wisdom to adjust our pitch just enough to double check. We can work as unit of one with him. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

From Protected to Projected: Challenge #2



He told them many things and gave them God’s word- John 17: 13,14

Jesus spent time investing in the lives of a handful of people with the final goal of ensuring they will have the ability and knowledge to carry on his message to the rest of the world. He spoke with them about the laws of the land, customs of the day, incorrect teachings from religious leadership, God’s plans for the world, and other fabulous things. He shared personal prayer requests with them and found ways to connect their day-to-day lives with furthering the message he came to bring. Jesus took seriously the time he had with his disciples and spent it as best he could. If we use the same lens to look at parenting the way Jesus looked at discipling, then raising kids similarly to the way everyone else on the block raises their kids just won’t cut it. Our calendars and weekly schedules won’t look the same as everyone else’s. Our values and rules will take a shift from the average. Our household budget won’t match others. Even our vacations might look different. It’s ok to be different. 

As a family, “seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added”(Matt 6:33). Start with scripture memory and pray blessings over your children. If you are starting this after your kids are a bit older and it feels awkward, that’s ok- it probably feels weird to your kids too. Just keep going and it might just become the greatest habit your family developed. Some parents may not have a single verse memorized, that’s ok too. What a truly beautiful and worshipful moment it is for all to understand and commit to memory a portion of God’s word. Work on it together. Make it a family competition to commit to memory a verse each week. “But the seed on the good earth- these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.” Luke 8:15


I don’t want to assume that Jesus only spoke things to the disciples pertaining to theological concepts, so I think it is safe to say that some of the “many things” Jesus shared with them had to do with other areas of life. In order that our children be well round and able to live, move, and function in our society, we should also be teaching them skills and preparing them for as many aspects of life as we can. Just as the old adage says, being “all heavenly minded, but no earthly good” is not helpful to God or anyone nearby. Giving our daughters the opportunity to be “good” at something (education, music, athletics, art, cooking, etc.) doesn’t ensure they will be better Christians, but it provides them outlets to develop friendships, avenues to provide an income and points of reference to engage others with the world God created and gave to us to enjoy. Since we are to “seek first the kingdom”, let’s seek second the family fun, interests, and skills as we grow closer together. 

Challenge #2
What has been your family’s structure of spiritual formation up to this point? If you are honest, have you left the church to take care of a task that you, as the parent, are supposed to do? What can be added, changed, or started in order to further your family’s spiritual formation as individuals and as a family unit?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Move-Over Monday: Timeout Tag-a-long



My Move-Over Mondays will soon be ending, but this week I wanted to share an old post about when the girls were very little. I was reminded of this bff tendency earlier today when one didn't want to go outside without the other. Gil and I often talk about how they will need very strong, confident men to marry because their love and devotion to each other is stronger than anything I've ever seen. Good luck, boys.
So, here is this week's Move-Over Monday, called Timeout Tag-a-long!
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4/22/2009
Timeout Tag-a-long /[tahym-out tag-uh-long]/noun. Meaning- /a. to assist in the service and duration of discipline given to an older sibling for the purpose of not parting or preventing the potential boredom that might occur while older sibling is serving timeout sentence./ b. must place gluteus maximus as closely beside older sibling’s as possible. /Origin- mom moment in my kitchen.

Our youngest has created a new self-designated post during her sister’s timeouts- right by her side. Adi willingly serves the punishment with her sister because she either (a) sees it necessary share the load and help carry the weighty punishment of a two minute timeout, (b) would not want to miss out on anything exciting happening at eye level of the coat closet door frame in the kitchen, or (c) just wants to be with her favorite person- no matter the circumstances.

I’m gathering that my first option for Adi’s reasoning for this assignment is slightly incorrect. This deduction is made simply because she does not seem to enjoy sharing other forms of discipline such as taking away a toy causing fights or just coming indoors from an hour of coloring on the sidewalk with chalk. Wrong.

So on to the second option for Adi’s MO (term originally used in the military, short for military operation…I think!). I am sure there are handfuls of stimulating events that occur lower than 16 or so inches from the floor in my kitchen. Maybe the coat closet door is just a good seat to see the dog scramble to grab each crumb that falls from the counter as meals are prepared. Perhaps the dust bunnies that trail the heels of taller people walking through the kitchen are more entrancing than I imagine. Or even better, just possibly Adi is hoping with all her might that the closet door will fling open and the coveted bucket of markers will come falling into her little hands. This could very well be the right reason she has succumbed to the assignment of the Timeout Tag-a-long. Hmm.

But before we decide, let’s examine the third reason of this self-designation. Could it really be that our Adi just wants to be with her sister- no matter the circumstances? Might she simply desire her sister’s company despite the task? Is it a slight possibility that Adi adores her more distinguished sister so much that she wants to be at her side as much as possible?

Given the surrounding evidence of the interactions between our girls, I think we might have to choose option c. You see, the first three things either daughter asks for every morning are mom, sister, and cereal. And if you knew the esteemed value cereal holds in our home, you could very well understand the magnitude of coming higher in rank than such a luxurious bowl of carbs. (Don’t worry, dad is #4!) It seems that Adi loves her sister with such a purity of heart that she just wants to be at her side, serving.

And here it is- another heart-pounding moment of theology learned in the throws of parenting. This lesson can be examined two ways. From one side, we see Adi’s adoration of her sister and her desire to be with her all the time. She wants to climb with her, play in her room, eat the same foods, run as fast, talk as clearly, and color as passionately. She doesn’t seem to care what Em is doing, just as long as she can be with her. The other side of this can be seen by looking at the willingness to serve a sentence she didn’t earn. Does this sound like someone else you know?

We should want to be at Jesus’ side, no matter the activity.
Jesus wants us near him so bad that he was willing to serve a sentence he didn’t earn.

So, I am sure my little Timeout Tag-a-long will shed her desire to share timeouts in the near future. But for now, it’s a great reminder that Jesus served a sentence he didn’t earn.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Favorites

And this week's FFs (Friday Favorites) are….

- our super warm pellet stove- because we live in the frozen north where spring doesn't seem to exist yet.

- our super high powered blender that someone donated to us years ago. It's so super strong that it has it's own breaker switch on the bottom. It makes the best smoothies- which, by the way, can't be enjoyed in the presence of my 15 month old or he will drink it all.

And my top pick of all things I read this week:
- St. Patrick's breastplate prayer. This has been on my mind a lot lately because of two things- first, the girls are memorizing their list of prepositions in school, so each morning we can be heard chanting "aboard, about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at….."(those are just the prepositions that start with an A) and it makes me think of "Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, etc. I also have thought about this prayer a great deal because of reading A Constant Prayer, which I mentioned last week. These old prayers that believers have prayer for generations are resonating with me deeply right now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

From Protected to Projected- Our response to Jesus' challenge (Part 6)


Last week, I shared about a moment when Jesus prayed for his disciples and how we can use that as a guide to pray for our kids. If you missed it, jump here and catch up. 

He received them as gifts, kept them and guarded them- John 17:6-7, 12

I think it is safe to say that since you are concerned about the future for your child and still reading, you consider your child(ren) a gift from God. Check. Next, I also think it is safe to say that you’ve done your best to “keep them and guard them”. If that’s the case, do you feel that trusting God to keep and guard them is something you pray for and will release to God? 

Let’s look more closely at the words Jesus used when he said he had done this and requested God to continue to job. The Greek word that Jesus used for “kept” was /tēreō/ which means to guard against loss or injury by keeping an eye on, maintaining, to hold fast, serve, and watch.* Jesus repeats this word in verse 15 when he asks God to “keep them safe from the evil one”. Protect. I observe that, out of fear, many parents confuse this with the Greek word /koustōdia/, much like the word Jesus used, but a definition different enough to change the entire tone of his task. Koustōdia means to “not prevent escape by constructing a fortress or military lines” and is where we get today’s word for “custody”. 

Challenge #1:
May I challenge you to trust that the gifts we have received from God are intended for us to treasure and maintain, not to take custody of?


When the doctors place the little bundle of joy in our arms for the first time, we gently hold her being careful not to squeeze to tight or let her fall through our arms. Newborns seem so fragile and dependent upon us to care for each need in life. That wrinkly face and bald head eventually grows into a toddler that squirms from the bath towel to run through the house completely naked just for a moment of feeling the greatest form of freedom available on earth. Soon the school years start and much of our energy is poured into capturing the mind of the child with the facts of our world. Somewhere in this haze of putting together the parenting puzzle, our view of protecting this gift becomes our identity. I remember the first time I was known as “E’s mom” and not by my own name. I was caught off guard, but very happy to absorb such a hip title! We all must work to remind ourselves that we have been entrusted temporarily with treasuring the gifts God has placed in our lives. God has greater plans for them than we can ever imagine and our positions in their lives must not get in the way

For further thinking:
 Are there certain life stages, seasons or times of the year when the purpose to all of our parenting gets trampled by the chaos? 
What can we do to remind ourselves of the task God has asked us to do (as opposed to the ones society places upon us)?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to comment below and share with friends or family you feel this will bless. Also, if you haven't submitted your email to get blog lovin' straight to your inbox, please do so. 

<3,
Lindsay


* Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries. Digital Edition. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Favorites

Three Friday Favorites:
2 random things I love and 1 to read.


  • Homemade yogurt- my friend Jess taught me how to make yogurt back in our Farmville, VA days. I found this great blog post handy has a refresher. We go through a boat load of yogurt, so this is a cheaper way to get the good stuff. 

  • Super bright orange Cabella's windstopper jacket that GB3 scored from the Bargain Cave last fall. Now that the harsh winter is slowly making its way out of New England, a little jacket is all that's needed. 



  • In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson- a great part of The Ancient Practices Series. "We are unwilling, it sometimes seems to me, to leave anything in our lives to chance except the way that we live out our lives in communion with the One who gave us life in the first place. It seems odd to me…to pray the office is to anchor your life of prayer somewhere between the daily and the divine". (79)




Now it's your turn. What did you LOVE this week?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What's a pressure cooker sling?

My awesome father in law gave me a pressure canner for Christmas. Wait… before you roll your eyes and jump to the Betty Crocker comments, you have to hear me out. Cooking with a pressure canner is great because it keeps so much of the nutrients in the food, forces moisture to remain in the foods and is fast (relative to oven cooking times- not in comparison to nuking the food). I was excited to get the pressure cooker for Christmas, but other than canning small batches in it, I wasn't too familiar with how to use it. I found some great ideas on pinterest but most of them came with such strong warnings of explosions, ruining the cooker, third degree burns and other science-lab type accidents, which caused me to just sit back and not use this thing for it's full purposes. But then I was sent the mother-load of all pressure cooker side-kicks.



I flipped through and was so shocked to see the variety of things that could be made in my kickin', nutrient-retaining, kitchen gadget. Want some french toast casserole for breakfast? It's in there. How about some cheesecake to finish off your lunch? Yep, you can do that too. Pineapple upside down cake for afternoon snack with your coffee? Totally. Well, not the coffee, but the cake. Soups galore. And meatloaf. Chickens, lamb, cuts of meat I'd never heard of, desserts, and 475+ other recipes.

I do have to say that I was still a bit timid to use my cooker, but a few of my worries were calmed when I read the beginning of the cookbook. The authors hit a handful of personalities (I am the Nervous Nellie) and helped me to see that this tool is safe when used properly and can be a lot of fun. I also had my hunter-husband cheering from the sidelines when he saw the lamb recipes…. because as some of you may already know, lamb has many similar qualities to venison and can be substituted for it easily. He can't wait to get his buck this fall and try out the lamb [read venison] recipes we now have at our fingertips.

So, the great thing I liked about this cookbook is the layout for each recipe. At the onset, the authors give the reader a quick heads up about the cooking time and the trickiness level of the recipe. I appreciate knowing that I am about to attempt a toughie when it comes to balancing my cheesecake on a sling and lowering it down into my cooker. It worked too, wanna see? Here is my 7 inch cheesecake that I baked in my pressure cooker + it's little sling to lower and lift it out. (Instructions are provided in the book on how to make and use the sling. )


I can foresee the market for pressure cookers rise in the upcoming years, we wise cooks are returning to older cooking methods in order to preserve the best parts of our foods. I have a few friends that don't use their microwaves anymore and this method of cooking precedes the nuking method-so, I think it would be a great addition to their kitchen. As the word spreads of how simple, fast and effective pressure cooking is, I bet this book will come in handy for many people.

As for the meatloaf I made, it was good- not the best I've made- but not the worse either. I think that the problem was the type of ground beef I was using. The recipe called for a very lean cut (leaner meat works better because the pressure cooker forces moisture into the fibers, thus making them soft) and I used what I had on hand. Mine came out a bit mushy, but the flavor was decent. I'm going to try again with the right meat next time.

I was a little disappointed to see that a portion of the recipes were actually variations of the same recipe. The meatloaf was listed a few times with only a slight variation, and the same goes for the puddings and chicken meals. I do have to say though, that even if 25% of the recipes are variations of something else, you are still left with a HUGE amount of ideas on using your cooker. I consider this cookbook something to keep on the shelf.

The publisher sent me a free copy of the book to review, but my opinions are my own. Trust me. The cheesecake is worth it.