Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seriously.


Seriously. Just look at that face and...the tiny paws! How can I be bothered?

Yep, that is my new friend Mr. Raccoon, except I think it might be Ms. (oops!). She is very curious.

Yesterday the hubby and I were enjoying hot dogs outside on our porch (because the weather was so so beautiful) when we heard someone barking in the background. Nope, it wasn't a dog, it was a squirrel -- not just any squirrel. Apparently Mr. Squirrel is quite territorial and really (and I mean really) becomes anxious and aggressive whenever he sees Ms. Raccoon anywhere near his tree. He barks up a storm, even his tail twitches to the beat of his barks, for added emphasis. I think he got his point across to Ms. Raccoon, who refused to climb up the tree.

Instead, she made her way to the area surrounding our porch. We made eye contact when she was in the neighbor's yard and she could smell the food, I'm sure. I could hear some rustling nearby and guess who it was? Yep, cute and curious Lady Raccoon.

That picture you're seeing was actually taken today. She was a bit on the shy side yesterday but today she was bold enough to climb onto our porch. I left the sliding door open while I was baking chicken and sewing earlier this afternoon, I'm pretty sure the aroma in the breeze was too much for a hungry raccoon to handle. I opened the curtain and there she was, except, I only caught a glimpse of her furry tail curling around the edge of the porch while she tried to escape. But a minute later she decided to come back and say hello. She literally remained in that pose (in the photos above) for about 5 minutes. :)

As far as sewing goes, I'm working on a few Mother's Day projects. I'm finishing up a tote/beach bag for my mom. I made it really huge :D, I was afraid of making it too small, but I added a few pockets because things are bound to get lost in that big ol' bag. I have to sew the exterior/interior together still, but here's what I have so far:



Friday, April 24, 2009

Thought of the day


I'll post more later this weekend, but I really wanted to share this quote I came across today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day











scrap from Noshay Designs.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Control and Pride

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller -- I love that book!  I'm reading it right now and learning so much!  The author does a nice job of explaining the prodigal son parable in a very new (to me) and necessary way (click here to read the parable).  He discusses how we normally hear about (or focus on) the rebellious son who leaves then returns to his forgiving father.  It is a reflection of God's love for us, true, but the other half of the story is just as important, says Keller.  What about the jealous older brother who played by the rules and was upset that his father never threw him a party for being the good kid? That's the part Keller says is often overlooked; that's the part Jesus wanted the pharisees to hear because it applied to them.   The prodigal son came back with an apologetic heart; the older son was too proud to admit that he wasn't as perfect as he thought.  We are either one or the other in this life.

Jose and I have started reading Job together.  This is going to sound crazy, but even though I've heard the story of Job many times before, I've never read it for myself!  I enjoy reading it with Jose because he sometimes catches things that I don't, and I understand the message of the story a bit better, as a result.  

The part in the first chapter that caught our attention the most is when Job finds out his children and animals have just died and (v. 20-21) At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.  Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:  'Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.'

Job reduces himself to nothing.  Instead of acting as if he is entitled or worthy of an explanation or apology, he humbles himself before God.  Job also relinquishes control (Jose pointed that out to me) and doesn't compare himself to anyone who might have more.  The shaving of his head might represent a sort of catharsis, but it also represents letting everything go.  In a way, it's as if Job is also saying Take even the hairs on my head and my clothing, I give it all over to you, God.  This is an act that a prideful heart, like that of a pharisee, can't take part in.

I'm not like Job.  At all :P.  When things don't go the way I want them to, I try to sort things out on my own and then I remember to pray.  To top it off, I usually mumble and grumble before handing it over to God.  Prayer is usually preceded by unanswerable questions or dumb remarks, like "Why?", "I don't get it" or "Not now!'.  As if I'm entitled to know.  As if I, a flawed human, could've planned it out better than He has.  My pride turns me into the Chihuahua who thinks they're a Great Dane.

I'm going through a situation right now that many might find unfair, as I have felt it is many times, to be completely honest.  It has me asking some of those silly questions and comments (don't worry--it's not as hopeless as I'm making it seem).  I'll reveal the details in a later post, but this is an issue I have to bring to God on a daily basis.  I notice that when I don't, I tend to obsess over it and try to control the situation myself, even though I'm very limited in what I can do.  Though the actual circumstance might be foreign to you, I know we've all wanted to have control over the source of our worries. Ironically, worry in itself is a dysfunctional form of control (one that I struggle with!), my mom mentioned this to me once.  

It's as if I think that gnawing on a thought or concern long enough is going to improve the situation somehow.  When I try to control a situation, I'm taking hold of the reigns and basically telling God he can't do it and that it's my turn now.  Isn't this essentially the definition of pride?  Setting ourselves up as God's equal, or much worse, his superior?  Though I'm not sporting a purple robe and reciting scriptures verbatim in Hebrew, I might as well be; my behavior is pretty much that of a modern day pharisee.  I become the older brother who asks his father where's my party? when things don't go my way.

Here's a good excerpt from the book that applies:
Why is the older son so furious?  He is especially upset about the cost of all that is happening.  He says 'You've never given me even a goat for a party, how dare you give him the calf?'... He's adding things up.  [The older son then says] 'I've worked myself to death and earned what I've got, but my brother has done nothing... where's the justice in that?' That is why the elder brother refers to his record. 'I have never disobeyed you!  So I have rights' he is saying. 'I deserve to be consulted about this!  You have no right to make these decisions unilaterally.'

That's pretty much my line to God when I'm frustrated about how things are panning out.  The elder son felt powerless (as I do), and compared to his father (who represents God in this story), he very much was.  Keller explains how Jesus leaves the parable open in the end, the father extends an invitation to the older son to attend his younger brother's party, and it's up to the older son to accept.  I too have to decide if I am going to accept what God has offered and is perfecting for me in his time or if I'm going to make my own plan, which will likely end in failure and more disappointment.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The new neighbor and more cards


The mysterious new neighbor...

Say hello to my new neighbor. He's a little feisty, always on the prowl and doesn't sleep much. I was thinking of baking him a batch of cupcakes, as a way of saying welcome to the neighborhood, but he needs some time to adjust, I think. Recently, there was some sort of domestic dispute between him and Mr. Squirrel; a few nights ago, I heard strange yelps and cries coming from that very tree he's pictured climbing. Haven't seen much of Mr. Squirrel or his friends since.

If you look closely at the first picture, you'll see a smirk across the new neighbor's face -- I think he knows something I don't...

I think, maybe, he's the real rebel.



When I'm not working undercover for the raccoon paparazzi, this is what I'm up to -- making Mother's Day cards for the Etsy shop I've yet to update:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!


Luke 24: 38-39 & 46-47 spoken by Jesus after the resurrection:
"Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see..."
"This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations..."

Titus 3:4-8
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

An update and Vintage Thingies Thursday


It's time for Vintage Thingies Thursday! I miss participating in this fun weekly event. I decided to share something this week. Here's a cute little plate I picked up from the thrift store for $1, that's right! It has the Shabby Chic and girlie look that I love, so it was definitely a real steal!


New topic: After feeling like a 6 year old trying to sell finger woven pot holders in the front yard, circa 1990 (yes, I tried doing this once with my cousin; unfortunately, our 'store' went out of business the same day :P), I've come to realize that my Etsy store really needs a makeover. Now, I didn't open it up with hopes that I'd get a ton of business the first month, or even a ton of business ever... but it's been a few months now, and all is still quiet on the western front.

So what to do, what to do? A friend of mine has a successful Etsy store. I asked her for a few tips and she was kind enough to share some of her wisdom with me via email. Things have got to change, they really do! I admit, I've gotten lazy, I don't take nice pictures of the things I create. I am also not doing a very good job of keeping the (potential) customer satisfied. For instance, I don't think it's such a great idea to sell single illustrations anymore. That's a little boring and, let's face it, I can't offer prints at the moment. My pal's suggestion? Sell a small bundle of illustrated cards. Cards! Yes, of course! Initially, I was a bit weary of being yet another Etsy card seller, but at this point, what do I have to lose? So long as the illustrations are unlike anyone else's, I don't see why this is a bad idea. In fact, it sounds like a pretty good idea. So that's the first change I'll be making to my Etsy store in a few days. I'll probably take a few of the illustrations off of the site this weekend. Until then, I'm working on creating a small themed collection. Here are two cards from the first (you'll recognize the second illustration :):



In other news, after waiting 2 weeks for genetic test results to arrive, someone helpful and caring finally faxed them over yesterday. What test am I referring to? Well, after not feeling so hot tummy-wise (funny how it all started after ingesting gluten while out of town), I decided to go back to the doctor. Turns out I have a gene for Celiac disease! Who woulda thought? I was a bit surprised. This doesn't mean 100% that I have it at the moment, but it means there is more than a 2/3 chance I could have it/develop it later. Given my symptoms, it's possible that I have it already. This simply means I need to be more strict about the gluten issue, like no more bubble gum, no more hair products or lotions that contain gluten, no more baking for friends using 'regular' flour, that sorta thing. Not so bad, really. Of course, there are other food sensitivities to take into account, as Celiac disease can contribute to other intolerances, but it's much more manageable than one would think (it just requires some discipline on my part).

If you haven't been feeling so hot, especially if you're experiencing digestive issues, please watch this video and read this! Celiac disease is ridiculously under-diagnosed!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

National Poetry Month

The Snow Man
By Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

My simplified interpretation: Learning to observe things objectively, apart from your circumstances, so that you can see things as they are, without judging.

Oh oh! Gotta post this one too...

In a Dark Time
By Theodore Roethke

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Quick commentary: I love the images and analogies; the definition of 'madness' (though I don't view it as a derogatory kind of madness here). A rollercoaster of intensity: thoughts, feelings and questions. In the end finding freedom while reflecting, admitting your weakness and coming to terms with God... all in the desperate but very natural process of self-discovery.

Monday, April 6, 2009

foodie fun and stuff in boston (and everywhere else)

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Haymarket: Cheap produce and lots of it!


Christina's Spice and Specialty Foods Store in Cambridge


Oh oh! And if you love Anthropologie.com (but aren't a fan of their prices), check out Ruche. Their clothing is gorgeous, still a bit pricey for me, but they do have pretty good sales! I love their earrings! Lulu's also has some cute stuff. And Purlsoho.com is so fun, I'm thinking of getting some of this fabric for kitchen curtains...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Purse 2

...this is the purse I promised to make a friend of mine, it has a zipper but I couldn't figure out how to sew on the magnetic clasp. Next time :).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

God is love: a simple but often difficult TRUTH to grasp!

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This is the verse quoted by Lee Strobel at the end of his book, The Case for Faith. My husband and I watched the movie last night, and we both enjoyed it. We had to pause the movie here and there, though, to discuss our thoughts about the different issues that were brought up (and such good ones they were, watch it!). The two big issues are/were those regarding the existence of a truly loving God in a world filled with suffering and the often-controversial core Christian belief that Jesus truly is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Now, I'm not writing this to start any kind of debate or curse anyone to hell, in fact, I'm here to talk about my aversion to both of those things, particularly the latter.

When Lee Stroble and the theologians he interveiwed used the crucifixtion to explain God's intensely real love in a world filled with sin and pain, Jose paused the movie for a second. He said something I've already heard before, but he said it in a much more obvious way. It's true that God's people are his bride and he is the bridegroom, it's mentioned in the Bible and repeatedly discussed among Christians -- but what if we were to simplify that even more?

Let's put it in much more 'human' terms. God's love for us is like a husband's love for his wife; it's very romantic, actually. It is unconditional, steadfast and faithful. He wants to woo us so that we love him with abandon; he gave us the most beautiful rose, the promise of everlasting life, and he wore a crown of thorns to prove it.

Jesus. Here is a perfect man who said he came to save the world, not condemn it. And there we are -- lost and confused, wanting change in our hearts and the hearts in those around us, but we are a slave to our human condition and we can only do so much. We have abandoned our God for things that, in the end, only cause us more suffering. It's a vicscious cycle and we want out, but when the issue of hell arises, we're angry that any 'god' could send people he supposedly loves to such a dark and insufferable place. It's as if hell is the major roadblock to people accepting that Jesus is the perfect and loving son of God, next to suffering. (For a great explanation on suffering's existence and how it doesn't contradict with the reality of a loving God, read The Case for Faith!)

But Jesus didn't focus on hell when he was on Earth, he focused on the promise of Heaven and hope. He did correct those who damned people to hell, though. Think of Mary Magdalene, the prostitute he rescued while she was being stoned, he claimed that no one was worthy of stoning her. He corrected the Pharisees, men who falsely advertised their supposed 'faith' and 'allegiance' to God with their (very corrupt) "pious" ways, but they totally missed THE POINT -- Jesus. He literally made friends with sinners and the sick; leopers that no one would touch, he healed. People that no one would associate with, he befriended and called disciples. He outstretched his hand - actually, both of them - the very same ones that were nailed to a cross not only to save, but to express his (literal) undying love for every one of those sinners. Death (and resurrection in this case) is the ultimate sacrifice for sins, the ultimate display of real love.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

Jesus. Here is a man who longs for us similar to (but stronger than) the way a groom longs for his earthly bride; he would do anything to save her, even if it means undergoing the most painful and undeserved death. Here is a man who, when you say I'm sorry (even though you've cheated on him with sin, and let's admit it, we've all screwed up!) -- he never brings up that wrongdoing again! Even if you feel guilty about it, you shouldn't, because he's already forgotten about it.

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
Hebrews 8:12

But so many of us have this image of an angry and difficult to please God who's always on our back about something, we forget that he is on our side and that he has our back. I am guilty of this. Growing up criticized again and again, and verbally abused even for the littlest things, I developed a somewhat distorted view of God. Unfortunately, the Bible was sometimes used to condone this criticism, and even though I tried my best to follow God in my youth, I often felt I could never please him. I heard that God loved me, but it was hard to truly believe just how much, especially when I felt I wasn't good enough.

In turn, I wasn't sure who was right and who was wrong, so I asked God to show me; I asked him to make himself real to me, I wanted to know who he really was. When I went to college and left that emotionally unhealthy environment, it was easier for me to see the truth. Now that I look back, I realize he was there all along. With my weak human strength, I could not have made it. I felt so desperate for a solution and lonely at times, but those were the moments I literally cried out to God. Even though I didn't understand him, I knew he was there and that was enough to get me through a rough childhood alive, emotionally and very much physically too. Being able to look back and clearly see that is part of my answered prayer, and God continues to make himself known to me every day.

Still, there are moments the guilt unexpectedly creeps in. Sometimes it comes after I've already asked for forgiveness for a wrongdoing (i.e., saying something hurtful, thinking something unloving), and other times the guilt resurfaces when I've picked at the scab of an old wound (I get stuck thinking about the past). I'm glad I can take comfort in this verse:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19

I don't believe I'm sugarcoating the message of Jesus when I say that his love (and not condemnation) should be emphasized when we minister to people, both with our actions and words. He came to offer grace and forgiveness; he came to save and not condemn. Remember, it is said...

If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.
Matthew 12:7

Jesus begins his ministry in the heart of the individual, he reaches out to us in very personal ways. If we are curious in the least bit, if we want to better understand who God really is, he will reveal himself to us if and when we ask. However, as followers of Christ, when we condemn anyone to hell, we are creating a roadblock for God to reveal himself in their heart, because that condmenation hardens it. After all, Jesus interceded on Mary Magdalene's behalf, he saved her from the stoning, so who are we to cast the first stone? By doing so we are only contradicting Christ and, at that point, we sincerely have to ask ourselves whose side we're on.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
1 John 3:16

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy National Poetry Month!

I'm going to try to post 1 or 2 poems a week this month. Here's a recent favorite of mine.

Photography by Nikki Giovanni

the eye we are told
is a camera
but the film is the heart
not the brain
and our hands joining
those that reach
develop the product

it's easy sitting in the sun
to forget that cold exists
let alone envelopes
the lives of people
it's easy sitting in the sun
to forget the ice and ravages
of winter yet
there are those who would have no other season
it's always easy when thinking
we have the best to assume
others covet it
yet surf or sea each has
its lovers and its meaning
for love

watching the red sun bleed
into the ocean
one thinks of the beauty that fire brings
if the eye is a camera and the film is the heart
then the photo assistant is god
 

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