Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Treasure-hunting, Words, and Stories

If you ever get that craving to find treasure, just for the thrill of finding, get into words.  Open a dictionary, read the definition that catches your eye first, and ask yourself questions.  What did that one word mean in the definition?  What are the root words, and where are they from?  How is that word related to other words that sound or are spelled similarly but whose definitions you never before associated?  Is there a list of synonyms?  How are they similar to the first word?  What variations do they put on it? 

If you get really interested in the hunt, pick up a book about interesting words.  There are many of them.  I have been a fan of JRR Tolkien for years, and his books contain many interesting words.  In one reading of Lord of the Rings, I kept a list.  Even if the words were familiar, I listed ones that sounded good, or that had an intriguing spelling – words that stood out.  Then I started looking up their definitions and etymologies.  There is a book I’m reading now, Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary.  Over half of the book is word studies. 

You can learn interesting things, like the history of “ent.”  It comes from old Germanic and Norse words for giants.  In those ancient days when the word was in common use, the writers attributed still older ruined cities and half-remembered mythologies to “ents.” 

Or you can start wondering about words.  How is dwarf related to orcs and ogres?  To rocks?  Especially in mythology, and very intentionally in Tolkien’s myths, relations between words reflect relations between the objects they describe.  If the word “dwarf” derives from a word for “rock,” then maybe dwarves themselves come from rocks. 

EVEN if you are wrong (as I often am) you’ve started your imagination on a great story.  And along the way, you’ve undoubtedly found some absorbing treasures of words and history. 

To God be all glory.

Red Grapes

I made a discovery earlier this year.  Red grapes taste better than green ones.  My whole life Mom bought us green grapes.  When I was at a party, I stuck with the familiar.  On some desperate occasions when hosts inconsiderately offered only red grapes, I made do.  There was never anything wrong with them; I was just suspicious.  Surely if red grapes were not dangerous and tasted good, Mom would have varied her fruit purchase to include them.  Then finally I was shopping one day, and deciding which kind of grapes to buy.  That’s when I realized I prefer red grapes.

With green grapes, it was an adventure to try them: will they be sour or sweet?  Should you pick bigger ones or smaller?  Why do so many go mushy?  On the other hand, I can remember no bad experiences with red grapes.  All the classic images of grapes are red.  Grape juice is usually red.  Raisins seem to be dark (though I’m not sure if that happens to green grapes, too??). 

A lighter flavor belongs to green grapes.  They, like green apples, have a tendency to tartness.  In some dishes and on some tables, they look brighter and more varied.  Or you could go for the bold, rich crimson of red grapes. 

Purple raisins look good on salad.  They taste fabulous, too.  I like how raisins resist perishing.  There is a package at work I use for emergencies (when I slept in too long to make myself a lunch).  Today is such a day, and while popping a few into my mouth, I read the nutrition facts.  Usually when you eat fruit, you don’t get information about vitamins and calories and all that.  I know an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but I’m still not sure why. 

Raisins (and I assume grapes, too) are a source of iron, of fiber, of a bit of calcium, as well as calories and carbohydrates – which is why raisins are sweet.  They also contain potassium, a substance that wards off cramps and is also found, (I know this one!) in bananas. 

Oranges have Vitamin C, so I’m told.  And there are many other vitamins and minerals a body needs to stay healthy.  The nutritionists say to eat a variety of colors each day, and I don’t think M&M’s count.  I just wish I knew really what foods had what properties and how much, and how our bodies used them.  You know, like the potassium example.  That might be useful information for meal-planning and regulating the health of a family.

Meanwhile, I’m going to have my lunch of water, chai tea latte, and raisins – at 3:30 in the afternoon.  I may even supplement from the supply we keep in the office of chocolate (which I KNOW is healthy)!  

To God be all glory.

What's New?

“What’s New?”

Usually I have no answer for this question.  I could be spiritual (insert image of pompous solemnity) and say “God’s mercies.”  But then, um, Lamentations is a bit ironic, isn’t it, when Jeremiah writes “His mercies are new EVERY morning.”  Sounds like a pattern to  me!

Anyway, it just so happens that this May I have a few answers for what is new.  Since I am usually so discouraged to have nothing new to tell, I’m going to make the most of this and list the things here on my blog:

  • I tried Thai food.
  • I got my first traffic ticket from my first time running into someone. 
  • I went to a “lounge” and listened to a swing band.
  • I drove in the mountains. 
  • I trimmed my own hair.
  • I redecorated my bathroom. 
  • I’m going to be brides’ maid.  (Two weddings!)

To God be all glory.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Peaches and Oreos

One of my friends has a family tradition of Oreos and peaches.  She shared it with us the other day, step by step. 

First you buy canned peaches.  Then you buy Double-Stuf Oreos (because who buys any other kind?).  Take them home.

Open the can of peaches.  Drain.  Divide into bowls, each with its own spoon.  Hand one bowl to each person.  Give them a napkin.

Set the Oreos in the center of the table.  Open package.  (Name brand containers have instructions for peeling open the top instead of tearing or cutting open the ends like the old days.)  Have each person select two or three cookies and set them on the napkin, because Oreos must be on napkins. 

Begin eating:  first a bite of peach; then a bite of Oreo.  Disregard normal procedures for consuming the chocolate wafer and cream.  Don’t worry about putting fruit on cookies or cookies on fruit.  Alternating bites works just fine.

Ration as you go, balancing the percentage left of peaches with that of the cookies.  As you near the end, you will have to make a choice whether you want to end on peaches or on Oreos.  There is no rule for this, and you can decide when you come to it, based on your mood and taste that day. 

To God be all glory. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Circles and Hope

I like circles.  Hula-hoops.  Rings.  Pi.  Domes.  Time travel.  Except that’s more of a spiral…

When I am embarrassed or flustered, I go in circles.  Literally.  I’ll do a little spin, adjust my hair, and be back to business.  Like a new start. 

But really, circles don’t have starts.  And that’s what I really like.  Fresh beginnings.  Forgiveness.  History. 

And I like endings.  Hope has to do with endings.  Fulfillment.  Consummation.  Happily ever after.  Completion. 

The thing I don’t like about beginnings and endings is that there has to be time in between.  Waiting.  Remembering.  Continuing.  Perseverance.  Diligence.  It isn’t that I really dislike those things; they’re just hard. 

It seems that for hope to exist, time has to be linear.  We can’t go in circles.  Chesterton described insanity at a circle.  Think about it.  Most of our natural laws follow the principle of cause and effect.  Order. 

And God had the wisdom to describe Himself not as a circle, but as Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, First and Last, Author and Finisher.  He it is that gives us starts.  Quickening.  Initiation.  (We love Him because He first loved us.)  And He is there at the end, pulling us to completion.  To joy and peace.  Because of Him we have an ending, and it is happy.  

To God be all glory.


I'm the kind of girl who spends hours talking to a friend.  Then I go home and write a 5 page email.  Then I want my friend to write back.  So I can write back.  And so on, until we can spend hours together again.

I don't need to be with people constantly; I appreciate a few hours to myself here and there.  But I want to see people every day.  And not just see them.  Not just eat dinner across the table from them or watch TV with them.  I want to have an interesting conversation with them.  To laugh with them.  To plan with them.

That's the kind of girl I am.  I am also usually the last to leave a party - unless I'm on my way to another one.

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cynicism? Or Hope?

There’s a lot of cynicism about the Church today.  And while I am stimulated by argument, by addressing something I identify as wrong, I don’t think of myself as a cynic.  Rather, this confrontation with status-quo is inherently hopeful.  I invest energy because I think Church could be better. 

Before I left my last church, a few people were leaving slowly.  And my friends who were staying, they wondered why.  “There’s no such thing as a perfect church,” they argued.  “So why search for another kind of bad?”  Which reasoning rather baffled me.  What were they praying for?  Why did they do anything in the Church?  Didn’t they believe our community could be better?  And if we can get better, isn’t it possible that something better already exists? 

Now, there may be other arguments for hanging around a church that is not as close to perfect as you hope.  But to say that leaving a church is for people with unrealistic expectations is silly.  Whatever your choice, your reason for staying should be the same as your reason for leaving: hope.  If you stay, be hoping to see God grow your church to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  If you go, may it be because you hope that God has more designed for the Church than the divided and sterile institution you’re leaving. 

I didn’t leave the institutional church in despair.  There was hurt and disappointment over the group of people I had been congregating with.  But there was joy over the release God had given me – not release from fellowship or love or truth, but release from schedules and structures and enduring a view of Church that I no longer believe.  I went out looking for people of God doing life together, praying together, participating together in teaching and worship and celebrating Communion.  My search has been for a high view of our Bridegroom as the Head of His Church, of a supernatural (but orderly) view of the Spirit of our God as He orchestrates lives and relationships and meetings. 

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.  And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” – Hebrews 11:13-16

I am persuaded that there is something better than what I have experienced.  And I will desire it and pursue it.  The things I write on ChurchMoot really excite me.  What I read in the Bible about Church excites me.  The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.  Christ is purifying and strengthening His gloriously beautiful Church.  He’s preparing a place for us.  There are visions of unity and purpose and power.  A joy in knowing that we believe in, serve, and wait on an Almighty and Good God. 

What’s more, I have hope that the people of God are being awakened to the biblical descriptions of Church.  Now when people realize church is broken, they’re seeking answers from God, and acting on them!  No longer will they betray the Body of Christ by their silence, by their tacit approval, by being accomplices.  They don’t want the world to think that what it knows as Church is the Beloved Bride of a Radiant Savior.  He purified for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works!  They want the world to see a light set on a lampstand, not some pitiful ember fading into darkness. 

We are not a cult.  We are the Redeemed.  Joyful.  Saying so.  Hopeful.  Believing it is our God who builds His Church.  Waiting for our Messiah to come back – begging Him to come quickly!  We are loving, caring for each other, not afraid to weep or to rejoice.  The God who created the universe, the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, indwells us.  He speaks through us, comforts us, guides and instructs us.  The same God who rattled the Early Church prayer meetings with mighty rushing wind is among us.  Let that be known.  Let it be proclaimed.  Don’t contain it in schedules and corporate models.  Joy might be practiced, but not rehearsed!  Truth should be so familiar that it can be ad-libbed.  We share in a life that is saturated with God, with no distinction between the times when we are doing ordinary work and when we are worshiping. 

God called His people to abundant life, life in Him.  My hope for the Church is that we embrace it. 

To God be all glory.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Prosperous Etymology

I was having a conversation about the economy last week, and my friend was talking about how to thrive in a recession.  And I recommended thrift.  Which made me think.  Thrift and Thrive have very similar spellings.  Are they related?

Thrift - c.1300, "fact or condition of thriving," also "prosperity, savings," from M.E. thriven "to thrive" (see thrive), possibly infl. by O.N.þrift, variant of þrif "prosperity," from þrifask "to thrive." Sense of "habit of saving, economy" first recorded 1550s

Spendthrift - c.1600, from spendthrift in sense of "savings, profits, wealth." Replaced earlier scattergood (1570s) and spend-all (1550s).

Prodigal - mid-15c., back formation from prodigiality (mid-14c.), from O.Fr. prodigalite (13c.), from L.L. prodigalitatem (nom. prodigalitas) "wastefulness," from L. prodigus "wasteful," from prodigere "drive away, waste," from pro- "forth" + agere "to drive" (see act). First ref. is to prodigial son, from Vulgate L. filius prodigus (Luke xv.11-32).

(see also the American Heritage Definition #2 of Prodigal: Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse)

Profuse - early 15c., from L. profusus "spread out, lavish, extravagant," lit. "poured forth," prop. pp. of profundere "pour forth," from pro-"forth" + fundere "to pour" (see found (2)).

Wastrel - "spendthrift, idler," 1847, from waste (v.) with pejorative suffix (cf. mongrel, scoundrel, doggerel).

Thrive - c.1200, from O.N. þrifask "to thrive," originally "grasp to oneself," probably from O.N. þrifa "to clutch, grasp, grip" (cf. Swed.trifvas, Dan. trives "to thrive, flourish"), of unknown origin.

Prosper - mid-15c., from O.Fr. prosperer (14c.), from L. prosperare "cause to succeed, render happy," from prosperus "favorable, fortunate, prosperous," perhaps lit. "agreeable to one's wishes," from Old L. pro spere "according to expectation," from pro "for" + abl. of spes "hope," from PIE base *spei- "to flourish, succeed."

Flourish - c.1300, "to blossom, grow," from O.Fr. floriss-, stem of florir, from L. florere "to bloom, blossom, flower," from flos "a flower" (seeflora). Metaphoric sense of "thrive" is mid-14c. Meaning "to brandish (a weapon)" first attested late 14c. Related: Flourished;flourishing. The noun meaning "literary or rhetorical embellishment" is from c.1600.

To God be all glory.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May First

I had to buy Flowers!

To God be all glory.