Shopping Guide: Inspired by Camping

Growing up, Memorial Day was always a milestone, marking the official kick-off into summer. Passing through Memorial Day meant being able to wear shorts to school (past your fingertips of course), the opening of swimming pools, and the countdown to the end of another school year.

So, in celebration of making it to another Memorial Day, as well as our camping experience being featured in an article in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I decided for fun to pull together a little visual ode to one of summer's great mainstays: camping. Even if I'm not the fondest of camping itself, I've always had a thing or two for the images it conjures up in my head--the great outdoors, woodland creatures, kitsch and tons of plaid in bright colors. Enjoy this inspiration board of camping-inspired paraphernalia as you finish off this Memorial Day weekend. (Scroll down for product links.)
1. Red plaid sleeveless button-up
2. Screenprinted dish towels that say "Tidy Up" and "Eat Local"
3. Deer necklace
4. Green checkered melamine plates
5. Mushroom salt-and-pepper shakers
6. Black checkered tank top
7. & 8. Antique-looking framed owl paintings
9. Deer coin purse
10. Squirrel painting on wood
Related Posts
Our Trip to Savannah in Pictures

Sights and sounds of Savannah

10 books I want to read


One of the first things Michael and I bought when we moved to Atlanta were two big white bookshelves to house our now-merged collections. While I'd prefer to organize via spine color (so pretty!), that just doesn't seem all that practical when you're trying to hunt a particular one down, neck craned and eyes darting through 12 shelves-worth of titles.

Instead, I've tried to bring some organization so that we can easily hunt down a title; fiction are on the top left shelf, then non-fiction, with prayer topics grouped together, then marriage/relationship books, commentaries, etc. Near the bottom shelf, I have a little stack of books on my "to read" list.

I don't go through this list very quickly; often I supplement it with books I pick up from the library (like my current read: "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey). But I thought I'd share the titles that have made this list of mine, sitting ever-so-patiently on the bottom shelf, waiting to be read:
  1. Miracles by C.S. Lewis
    I got this at a half-price bookstore a couple years ago for the mere fact that it was by C.S. Lewis. I was talking with some friends when someone said that this is a classic and, in their opinion, the best nonfiction book by Lewis to read. So, I added it to the list!

  2. Five Simple Ways to Grow a Great Family by Carol Kuykendall
    Before you jump to conclusions (ahem), no, I'm not pregnant. However, I do hope that Michael and I will be able to start a little family of our own in the next couple of years, so in preparation for when that day does come, I want to start thinking intentionally about choices I want to make for my family and as a mother. This book is intended to help you do just that and consider how to integrate into your family the five qualities that the author claims matter most in childrearing: love, fun, loyalty, growth and faith.

  3. Cloister Talks by Jon M.  Sweeney
    "Learning from my friends the monks" is the tagline of this book and looks at some of the practices from the lives of monks (stillness, solitude, simplicity). It'll be interesting to read this in light of my recent read of the fictional book Chasing Francis.

  4. Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy
    I find it hard to believe that you need a whole book (283 pages!) for tips on learning to live on less when you've got gobs of blogs that talk about it everyday. But, it seems very down-to-earth and more about taking a maco- approach to your spending (changing your mindset about "convenience food" for example as well as chapters about utilities, "the cost of working," etc).

  5. His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr.
    This is another marriage book, with the purpose of teaching couples how to sustain that "in love" feeling by discovering activities, hobbies, actions that will keep you and your spouse connecting on an emotional level. Supposedly the methods of this book are "guaranteed."

  6. Learning of God by Amy Carmichael
    A missionary during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Carmichael is called "one of the great spiritual writers of the century, possessing a breadth of vision that transcended barriers of churchmanship and of culture." A dear friend gave me this book about a year ago (yikes!) when I made my big move to the uncharted waters of Michigan!

  7. Experiencing the Holy Spirit by Andrew Murray
    This is another gift from that same friend! (She knows my heart all too well! Thanks, MB!) This one focuses specifically on the Holy Spirit, something I have only started to learn more about over the past year or two and that I'm eager to continue to understand.
  8. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Trish Ryan
    This is a memoir, and memoirs are one of my favorite reading indulgences. I think if I could only read one genre, this is what it would be. Trish writes about how as a successful 30-something, she found herself still searching for the perfect man. So she decided to try all the self-help advice out there, which didn't seem to help at all. Finally, "she hesitantly decided to give God a try. ... He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is Ryan's story of how her search for the right guy turned into the search for the right God."

  9. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
    I heard about this book a long time ago and I've heard lots of people give great to praise and I still have not gotten around to reading it. But I intend to, sooner or later! This book is all about the way God loves and how he wants us to love others--God's "crazy love."

  10. Easy Green Living by Renee Loux
    I suppose this isn't really a book you read, so much as you use as a reference manual. Yet and still, I'd like to take the time to scan through it's almost 400 pages and get some ideas for ways to build and create a greener, more environmentally-friendly home and lifestyle.
What's on your reading list? Have you read any of these, or do any of them sound interesting to you?

Related Posts
Read all my book reviews

Making Popcorn Without a Microwave

Pop. Pop. Pop!

That’s the sound you’ll hear sometimes when you walk into our kitchen in the evenings. Thanks to my new foray into making popcorn on the stove, old-school style. Honestly, having given it a try (and it is so easy) I don’t know why we ever veered away from this and latched onto microwaving little bags.

Here’s why I’m happy to kick the microwavable bags to the curb: First of all, we have a tinier-than-usual microwave that is great for everything we need...except when it comes to those darned bags, because when they expand they get stuck in one spot and then some kernels on the bottom end up getting burned. Plus there’s some controversy (I think) about the microwavable bags having some chemical in them that’s not great for you.

But going sans microwave, it almost feels like a science experiment! All you need are the kernels (which you can get for about a dollar or two), some olive oil to pour into a sauce pan and coat the bottom of it, and the aforementioned sauce pan and its lid. Add the kernels to the pot (¼ a cup will provide plenty for two tummies), put the lid on top and (assuming you have a glass lid like we do) watch the magic happen as the little guys burst into popcorn.

Obviously going this route will mean that you would have to add your own salt or butter, but at least then you can personalize it however you want. I’ve also heard of people making their own kettle-corn popcorn, but I haven’t tried that out myself.

And within minutes, we’re all set for movie night (and still whittling down the Netflix recommendations you all were kind enough to suggest)!

Related Posts
A lesson I learned while watching a movie
Asking for Netflix Recommendations

The Benefit of Doing Things You Don't Want to Do

Of the many perks of having a husband (aside from the fact that he does most of our cleaning and loves to iron) is that sometimes it forces you to do things you otherwise wouldn't do--things you'd otherwise give up on.

Case in point: For the past few months, Michael and I have been attending a theology class at our church on Monday nights. The class had been billed as one to prepare you for church leadership and being better equipped to disciple people. I'm not a born leader by any stretch of the title, so I figured I could get all the help I needed. But when Michael and I showed up to the first meeting, I was disappointed when I discovered that what I would be learning about was something called "The Westminster Confession of Faith"...which was written in 1646. And since my husband is the aspiring historian around here and not me, well let's say that if I'd had it my way, I would have called it quits without a moment's hesitation.

One thing I've learned in my few short months of marriage is to try to curb my negativity. (Remember my Lenten goal?) So, even though I was ready to high-tail it out of the class, I made the conscious decision to not complain or tell Michael how I felt, but to wait and see his thoughts. (Of course, I really hoped that he would share my same conclusion as well and we'd be off the hook.) Not surprisingly, he didn't. He really enjoyed the class, so we went back the next week and bought the workbook. We were in.

But as the weeks have passed, my heart has changed. Today is our last night of the class. Though I don't get a kick out of trying to figure out what "this" means in the Bible (such as whether "day" in the Creation story is literally a 24-hour period of time, describes an era or is a metaphor; a real discussion we had), it forces me to look at these questions and hear highly intelligent people discuss them and share insights and vantage points that never would have crossed my mind. It makes me become more educated about my faith and Scripture in general, whereas before I've pushed those questions aside to focus on the things I consider truly more important. Things like, "God loves you. Jesus died for you. The Holy Spirit is at work. Redemption is happening, and Satan is going down."

Truly those are the lifeblood of what matters to me in regards to faith. But this class has opened my eyes to things that make those facts even more real, even more true. And what do you know, but I have my husband to thank for that. Another good lesson in learning to keep my mouth shut and trust his leadership to guide our relationship even in these very little things!

Related Post
Telling my husband I love him, in three words

{ photo by safetylast }


Praying for Other People

In Christian circles the words, "I'll be praying for you," usually seem more of a gesture than a reality. They're what you say to someone who's having a difficult time, but that it doesn't mean you'll really be praying for them. I caught myself falling into that trap of emptily saying those words to make someone else fell better and realized that that's unacceptable. Despite the good intentions lining the 5-word phrase, then it becomes a lie.

So now, I try to be really careful if I tell someone, "I'll be praying for you," because that means I really am going to commit to praying for them. Probably not everyday, but I take that prayer request seriously. Sometimes though, when I've got a list of people I want to pray for, it can get kind of boring (is that sacrilegious to say?) with the "Lord, please be with so-and-so as she tries to figure out such-and-such." I know God hears my prayers and appreciates them, but couldn't there be more to it than that kind of limp prayer?

So a few months ago I decided that when I had a new prayer request for someone, that I'd turn to Scripture for the words to pray over their situation or need. I locate a Bible verse that seems fitting and pray that verse specifically for that person. Sure I can pray more if I want to, but this makes praying for other people manageable and helps me know what to say for them that I know aligns with God's Word.

For instance, there is a high school girl that I'm close to who I will be praying Ephesians 3:17 for: "I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in [her] heart as [she] trusts in you. May [her] roots go down deep into the soil of your marvelous love." For my friends who are trying to sell their house, I pray that "...your blessing be on the home of the upright." (Proverbs 3:33)

I am the first to admit that prayer isn't always as easy as it seems like it should be, so that's why I think it's good to have these kinds of "techniques" in place to help guide our hearts when we don't really feel like it.

Related Posts
What "praying big" looks like
Easy does it: 8 minute prayer exercise


Creating the Artwork for Our Living Room

I've mentioned before my struggle when it comes to finding art--I hate the mass-manufactured kind you find in the stores. Usually I find it to be too dark, too boring, too "themed" for me to justify spending $20 or $40 on. Which means I've often had to resort to making my own.

My answer, time and time again, has been designing my own images and having them printed, poster-sized, which you can do anywhere from Walgreens to Target. (By the way, make sure to check out the comments for some other good places that people have recommended to get your pictures printed at!)

When it came time to set up our living room, I decided to go this route again and began the elusive search for an image to fill the frame, which I already had on hand. I ended up discovering this rights-free, high-res print of the bird nest on one of my favorite stock photo sites, Stock.XCHNG. I spiffed it up in my photo editing software (making the eggs a bit more teal, to match our color scheme) and then sent it off to be printed.

I had originally found the frame at a thrift store (surprised?), meaning it came without glass or a mat. (It also was a gaudy copper color which I immediately spray painted white.) I couldn't find a mat that large at any of the craft stores so I decided to DIY my own, using some sturdy cardboard and green fabric I already had lying around. I pieced together the cardboard lengths and then drew the fabric taut around and fastened in the back with my handy new staple gun. I stapled them all together to make a big rectangle and then taped the poster to the back of it all. (Let's just say that there's no doubt about the DIY-ness of this project when you see the back!)

It's not perfect but I like the tactile element that the fabric brings to the piece. And the oversized nest is such a fitting image hanging over our couch, a testament that this place is our little nest, humble beginnings all around!

Related Posts
My decorating dilemma: The search for the perfect artwork
DIY decorating: The trick to a stylish lamp for less than $7

My Thrift-Store Outfit Featured at "Thrifty Threads"


An Unexpected Mid-Week Getaway

I'm a sucker for traveling. Above all else, I love to get out and wander around, exploring new places, discovering new sites and finding the beauty that is buried in each and every place. It's why, when Michael asked what I wanted for my birthday, I told him that all I wanted to do was go camping. Of course, then he went above and beyond and took us on our fun, romantic trip to Savannah!

But as the weather has been warming and the sky staying a steady blue, the jetsetter in me starts getting antsy, daydreaming about unexplored streets and cityscapes. It was only a week ago that I said to Michael, I wish we could go on another vacation again. (Not a grateful little wife-y am I, when we're supposed to be watching our budget, and here I'm yearning for another trip?!) This is even in spite of the knowledge that next month, my parents are going to Gatlinburg and we're going to head up and stay with them for a few days. And then later this summer we‘ll be heading up to home-sweet-home Ohio. Obviously, when it comes to travels and new places, patience is not one of my greatest virtues!

How gracious was the Lord when, even though I should be happy with what I have and what's already awaiting, we get a surprise trip dropped in our lap? While we were at a meeting to discuss the formation of a newlywed group at our church, we were trying to figure out where to stage a retreat to kickoff the ministry to the rest of the church. That's when one of the leaders asked if we'd be willing to scout out a location, and we'd get our gas, food and hotel for the night covered. A mini getaway, smack-dab in the middle of the week.

We objected, saying we didn't need to stay the night, that we could come back early but he told us, "No. You need a night away." And with that I couldn't help but sit in awe of how kind God is to me, even in the littlest things like that, like a hotel stay for the night and the chance to troll a new town and drink in its sites and sounds.

Today, we’re headed to Chattanooga!

"The faithful love of the Lord  never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."
Lamentations 3:22-23

Related Posts
Our Trip to Savannah in Pictures
A Weekend Trip to the Sunshine State


Why I Keep Looking Back and Reminding Myself…

When Michael and I took our Judaism class, they kicked off the first session by looking at Jacob (son of Isaac, son of Abraham) who is one of the patriarchs of Judaism. Abraham is deemed "the first Jew" but it is his grandson Jacob who gains the name Israel and from him that we get the Old Testament's nation of Israel.

The rabbi pointed us to the part in Jacob's story where he is on a journey and is left alone at a riverbed, when a man comes and begins to wrestle with him. They wrestle until morning and the man cannot defeat Jacob. The man goes to leave but Jacob says, "I will let you go if you will bless me." It is there that the man--who we learn is actually God--blesses Jacob and changes his name from Jacob to Israel, which literally means "he wrestles with God."

This story, the rabbi explained, is a testament to how wrestling with God--sorting him out, learning to trust him, working through your questions and hardships about who he really is--is fundamental to the Jewish faith. There is no expectation that you will not struggle, but that through struggling you will see God face to face and be saved and blessed as Jacob was.

For me, there are times when I'm reading the Bible and I wonder, How do I know this is true? Why do I believe in this? How do I know that I'm not wasting my life on this faith? It's during those times, that I start to turn back the pages on my own journey, I start looking back at all the places where I can clearly see God parted the seas to deliver me, where he went ahead of me and prepared the impossible to come to pass. I remember how much my life has changed and how it is richer--in so many more ways than that word implies--now than it has ever been. I look at my own heart and can see the beauty that has been planted into it and how it continues to be cultivated by his grace, pulling out the weeds that have festered there for too long.

It's that remembering, peering back and reminding myself of God's goodness in the past--and his promises for the future--that reassures me of the path I'm on. The wrestling, the squirming calms and I finally come to rest back in his arms, trust and faith renewed again.

Related Posts
Why We're Taking a Judaism Class 
A God who treasures ordinary people, like me

{ photo from an old photoshoot with my favorite tax auditor and dear pal, Betsy! }

Balsamic Barley Salad Recipe: Our Sunday Afternoon Tradition

Michael and I are slowly building our own set of traditions. Not the every-Christmas-we-buy-each-other-such-and-such sort, though. So far, our traditions revolve mostly around meals: Friday mornings Michael makes us a big, Bob Evans worthy breakfast. Friday evenings we make homemade pizza. And, adding to the rotation, on Sunday afternoons we enjoy this tasty barley salad recipe.

The thing I love about this recipe is that you make it ahead of time, and really the only preparation is boiling the barley (though it does take about 40 minutes for that portion). But other than that, you don't really have to tend to the recipe and then when it's all done, shove it in the fridge until you're ready to dig in. So I usually will fix it either on Saturday or Sunday morning before church, so that buy the time we arrive home (sufficiently famished!) lunch is ready to be served!

Balsamic Barley Salad (adapted from Epicurious)
1 cup pearl barley
1 garlic clove, chopped or minced (I use a cheese grater to get it into tiny pieces)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cups cooked corn
chopped mozzarella cheese (I usually just eyeball this amount)
cherry tomatoes, halved (a handful or two)
chopped onion, small handful
chives (I use dried chives and just sprinkle them on to my heart's content, but if you use fresh it's about 1/4 cup)

Into a pot of salted boiling water, stir the pearled barley and cook at a slow boil for 40 minutes.
When finished boiling, drain well and put into a large mixing bowl. Stir together the rest of the ingredients, and mix well. Refrigerate until cool and serve chilled. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. (Serves 2 hearty portions.)

Do you have any mealtime traditions?

Related Posts
A Discovery of Different Tastes
Our Friday morning tradition: Breakfast with all the fixings

Living through the Question Marks & A Prayer Request

It's been about nine months that Michael and I have been living in Atlanta. Great things can unfold in nine short months: a new life can be formed. Even in our relationship, it was after dating for only nine months that Michael and I got engaged. Now, another set of nine months marks our time here in Atlanta finding our place and establishing our roots as a newlywed couple.

When I think back to the decision-making that led us to move down here, I become aware of how sure I was that everything was going to work out. Not surprisingly, it didn't work out in the ways I'd anticipated: Never would I have believed that I wouldn't be able to find a job in 10 months. I thought, sure, it might take a month or two, but no longer than that. Yet, at the same time, never would I have thought that I wouldn't have to look for a job for that long, either. I guess it's been about a month since I found out that my freelance gig has been prolonged through the summer. I never could have predicted that the Lord would provide for me as richly, as extravagantly and impossibly as he has.

During this process I've vacillated between the comfort and awe of it all and the fear of the "what's next." Some seasons seem to be marked by a frantic feeling of looking this way and that, pulling ahead like a dog on a leash trying to reach the next marker quicker. Too often, I've let that keep me from enjoying this journey, enjoying the moments that come with it. In hindsight it's obvious that the franticness and the lurching was for nothing--God already had it all figured out for me, as he always does.

Michael just finished up his last finals and will be officially graduating on Saturday with his history degree. In his search for a history teaching job, nothing has turned up, so he's started looking into other alternatives--perhaps working at a local college, perhaps going on to grad school, perhaps trying to work for a nonprofit, perhaps trying to work for a music venue.

The question marks loom, and yet I'm learning to relax into this rhythm.

We were at a cook-out this weekend with some couples from our church. Each seemed to be at a similar place, unsure of where they'd be next, thinking about their next jobs, contemplating whether they'd be moving somewhere soon. And the thought that's been swirling and swelling lately is that God only knows where we'll all be in one year, in five years. God only knows. And that's a beautiful reassurance. I don't know, but I don't have to. I can trust that just as he's all brought us together for this moment, he might scatter us, but he'll still be guiding each one of us.

Feel free to be praying for us in this journey, and especially for Michael as he continues his job search. I really want him to be able to find a job that is meaningful and that he feels passionately about. Even in spite of the current economy, I know that any door that Christ opens, no one can shut, so I know this is possible. We just have no idea what this might look like! I am praying that in spite of our ignorance, God will lead us there. (What mercy!)

Related Posts
Lessons I'm Learning: Embracing the unknown
Some biblical inspiration for the "in-between" times in life


Our Wedding-Planning Tips Featured on


What Going Green Looks Like for Me

I remember being in elementary school and learning about the dwindling rain forests. I remember the commercials that aired, teaching us the “3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” So was my foray into environmentalism, when I convinced my dad to start a compost pile and tried to turn empty toilet paper rolls into all sorts of craft items.

A decade later, we’re still trying to incorporate “green” and “eco-friendly” into our daily life--albeit in more grown-up ways. What I’ve found most interesting, though, is how friendly--even convenient--“going green” has been to our lifestyle and budget.

To “go green” you don’t have to buy a pair of organic cotton jeans that cost $150; just go to the thrift store and find a pair that fits for $10. I love buying used clothes, furniture, décor or housewares and being able to get a one-of-a-kind item for a dollar or two; it’s like a treasure hunt for me. It doesn’t even feel like I’m “reusing.”

Instead of buying something brand new that you know you’ll only use a handful of times, why not see if you can borrow it from someone else? When Michael and I needed a stud-finder for one-time use, we ended up borrowing it from my dad. I wanted to try my hand at baking homemade bread, so I asked my mom if I could have her bread maker that’s been sitting in the basement.

I’ve tried to get crafty when new wants or needs arise to use things I already have or make my own. For instance, I wanted to decorate our apartment for the holidays. I ended up ironing a large swatch of olive green linen fabric into a table runner and using some festive jewelry to accent a cluster of candles.  Even for decorations at my wedding, I trolled through my house to find items that could be repurposed for the occasion, like an old bedspread thrown atop the cake table or a picnic basket used to display the favors.

Obviously, we don’t do all of these things 100 percent of the time: We still end up throwing things away. We still buy new products. We can’t always afford the greenest items on the shelves. But we try. For us, it’s about trying to live as wise stewards of the resources God has given to us. That also includes our time and energy. So you won’t see me washing out Ziploc bags (though I do try to keep their use to a minimum) or taking buckets into the shower with me to save the water (but we also are aware of how much water we're using). A fine line, but it works for us!

Related Posts
Finding New Uses for Glass Jars

Cultivating the Art of Resourcefulness


Book Review: "I Am Hutterite" Memoir

Whoever says they prefer fiction because it tells a better story than real life, has never read "I Am Hutterite" by Mary-Ann Kirkby. This memoir delves into her childhood, exploring her upbringing in a Canadian Hutterite community (which is similar to the Amish in that it's a religiously-based community with strict, old-fashioned dress codes) and then her eventual struggle to adapt to English life when her family left the community when she was only ten.

I was not familiar with the Hutterite communities before I read this book. Of course, growing up in Ohio and attending college in the Appalachian foothills, I knew the Amish and Mennonite communities whom we might see at the zoo or whose horse-and-buggies we might zip pass on the highway. (In fact, my fascination with these sects was one of the dreams that encouraged me to explore journalism as a career; I hoped that some feature story might lead me behind-the-scenes where I could live alongside the Amish for a week or two, and then write about my foray.)

What seems to set the Hutterites apart from other communities like the Amish (aside from the women's polka-dotted headkerchiefs) is that their community is based around the biblical image we see in Acts where all the believers live together and share all their belongings. Hutterites attempt to live this characteristic out by eating meals together, sharing communal chores, harvesting crops together and rationing the yields equally. Everyone's needs, from those of new mothers to the elderly, are looked after and taken care of by the entire community as they embrace this conviction.

Kirkby shares what it was like to be raised in this sort of tight-knitted community, where literally everything is shared, from household chores to celebrations to the unfortunate tragedies and hardships that characterize life no matter how idyllic it might at first seem. And in spite of good intentions, no human project is ever perfect, including that of the Hutterites. It was the difficulties of community life that arose that eventually coaxed her parents to leave the colony with their seven children.

With honesty and rich revelation, she shares how devastating this decision was for her as her family left the colony in 1969 with little to their name to start anew. While everything had been taken care of communally in life in the colony, life outside was a stark contrast. They now had to worry about affording groceries, paying bills, finding work, as well as adjusting to being outsiders and fighting the loneliness that came with their newfound freedcom. With frequent visits and letters to her best friends back to the colony, Kirkby shares how she was able to keep one foot in each world--find her way around the outside world but also cling to the Hutterite heritage she would always consider home.

The memoir is an intriguing look into this obscure lifestyle, the emphasis put on family, sacrifice, hospitality and forgiveness--true tenets of the Christian faith that unfortunately are rarely lived out so vibrantly. Approachable and transparently, she intimately shares her story. I took in every word, imagining the beauty of living on a farm with all my friends and families just moments away, wishing for a bit of that myself. Though I had hoped she would have spent more time exploring more of how she found her place in Canadian society, adapted to it and how she integrates her upbringing today, this story was so rich and compelling--better than any fiction--that I read it in a day. (I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby)

(As part of the BookSneeze blogger review program, I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my review.)

Related Posts
Book Review: "Let God Talk to You"
Book Review: "Chasing Francis"


Making the Psalms Your Own

I’ve heard various ways of relating to the Scripture and how to make it cling to our hearts and in our lives, from singing verses over ourselves to replacing the “you’s” with “me’s” and inserting your own name into the promises. Both of those examples are great ideas, but didn’t really seem to work for me–they didn’t seem to strike a nerve in my faith.

Last year, though, I joined a Beth Moore Bible study about the  “Psalms of Ascent,” where we’re studying Psalms 120-134. One of the things I especially like about this study is that upon studying each of these psalms and ruminating on them, she had us rewrite them in regards to what they mean to us and regarding the emotions and circumstances of our own life.

Though there are some Psalms that I definitely identify with and will pray, word-for-word, there are others that I just think, “This doesn’t apply to me, at all,” whether it’s times when David talks about his enemies hunting him down or fleeing and hiding and near-death misses or being righteous and without blame. I don’t ever really feel that way, so often I’d just breeze past and dismiss those sections. But as I started rewriting the Psalms in this study, I started seeing that if I truly took the time to reflect on them, there is a connection to my life. Oftentimes, I’m too impatient to discover it, though. There’s the beauty of this exercise–making the Bible more personal. Much of the Bible is God’s Word to us, but the Psalms reflect humans’ words to God. So it’s beautiful to take another person’s prayers, draw from them, and make them your own.

Related Posts
How a 3-ring binder has changed the way I pray
Unexpected insights from a boring Old Testament list


A Discovery of Different Tastes

When my friend Holly and I got an apartment together, I remember she wanted to know what foods I liked, which I hated, what my favorites were, what I never tried. Ever the hostess (we once threw a '50s-themed "Playing House" party where we served pancakes and wore aprons!), she was sensitive to my preferences and tastebuds and took the time to discover what I liked (besides club sandwiches, of course).

As it would turn out, I should have taken better notes from my dear friend. Those thoughts never seem to cross my mind--not then, not now.

For instance. Michael and I had been married for about six months before I found out he really likes sushi. He had stopped by the grocery store to pick up some items for us and came back with a little package of pre-made rolls. "You like sushi? I had no idea you liked sushi..."

Then the other day, I came across a simple, mayo-less recipe for tuna salad and decided to try it. I don't know that I've ever been one for tuna salad before. I whipped up a batch for lunch, which Michael discovered later that night. I told him there were crackers in the pantry, which he dug out and dipped in. Then he made a sandwich with it. Then he finished the rest of the batch off the next day for lunch. I had no idea he liked tuna salad, no idea at all!

The thing is, I usually just assume that people like the same things as I do. Well I don't like sushi. Eh, tuna salad is OK. I don't stop to sit down, pick their mind about their palate. At 27, I'm still learning these kinds of lessons, which sometimes seem so fundamental and yet so a-part-of-the-process, better-now-than-never. I think tonight I'll play 20-questions with Michael and see what else I discover about his food favorites.

{ photo by stitch }

Related Posts

Finding New Uses for Glass Jars

Do you hold on to used glass jars, from things like canned pasta sauce or condiments? Awhile ago, I started feeling guilty about pitching so many into the recycling bin and decided there must be something I can start using them for. At first, I picked the really pretty jars--specifically the checkered-top Bonne Maman strawberry jelly jars.

Then, we were going through so many jars of salsa, I decided to stash some of those. Then came the oversized spaghetti sauce jars. And then a few more tiny jars with cute features that I figured I might as well hold on to.

To the point of where we must have at least a dozen glass jars (all with the lids!) stacked inside our pantry, de-labeled, washed and ready to be put to use.

For instance, I've got an old apple-sauce jar for our dried black beans; a pasta-sauce jar contains pasta; a maple-syrup bottle houses olive oil; the original over-sized olive oil bottle now contains a water-and-vinegar mixture for cleaning purposes; jelly jars house coffee grinds and leftover coffee from the morning (which I use for making an occasional cold coffee); a super-cute apple-juice bottle contains simple syrup for mixing into my coffee (whether hot or cold); and those salsa jars now hold staples like salt and sugar (labeled so I make sure to tell them apart!).

Slowly but surely, I'm finding uses for them, trying to get away from using plastic containers for storage (especially with hot liquids/foods). And the fact that they don't leak is definitely a plus, and a hard-to-come feature with plastic!

I'm enjoying the satisfaction of being able to find a new use for something I would have otherwise never seen again. It makes me feel resourceful and more homemaker-y to see old jars find new purposes around our home!

Do you re-use glass jars? Any fun uses you've found for them around the house?

Related Posts
Show and Tell: My Mug of Many Colors 
Stovetop Décor with Colorful Cookware
Next Post Previous Post
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...