Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Beauty and Grace

There was an evening last week when I found myself home alone... a rare event at night... and looking through the many channels to see if there was "anything good".  I suddenly stopped on one of the classic movie channels for there was Babette's Feast.  It was already half over but the second half is my favorite, anyway.

Once again I watched with a sense of anticipation, awe, and the occasional tear.  It was good to be alone with Florentine sound asleep on my lap, she didn't care if I cried at movies.  For this slow moving Danish film with English subtitles takes my breath away every time I watch it.

I don't think there is any other film, at least not one I have seen, which shows the affect of Beauty on the soul which has gone cold.  In the first half of the film, we are told the story of when the sisters were young and the sacrifices they made to stay with their father and the community.

We then watch as the sisters take in the barely alive Babette after her husband and son had been killed in Paris.  The religious community that the sister's father had begun now consisted of mostly middle aged people, who in the effort to remain pious have lost their joy and what is worse... their desire for Beauty.

Babette slowly enhances their days with little things like asking for good quality food when she makes purchases, forages for herbs to add flavor to their simple meals, and performs little tasks like washing the windows to let the sunshine come through.

When Babette wins the lottery (a friend purchases one ticket for her each year), she decides to use the money to create one amazing feast for the few remaining in the community.  For you see, what the community does not know even after all of these years is that Babette was a highly skilled French chef.

She not only purchases food, wine, etc. but she buys those items which will make the table beautiful.  From silver, to fine china, to crystal... the table is as exquisite as her food.  Babette understands that a true feast is a marriage of what is experienced in both taste and sight.  The table itself is a beautiful work of Art to provide a place for fellowship and delicious food.

Of course, if this is just the story of a dinner then it would not be anything special.  But in the second half of the film, as we watch Babette cook and the now elderly members of the community dine as they never have before... we see what true Beauty does to the parched soul.  Okay, a lot of wine doesn't hurt, either.

The story brilliantly includes a visiting general, one who as a young man, had dined in the restaurant where Babette was once the chef and who recognizes the artful skill of the cooking as well as the quality of everything being served.  

We view how the lovely feast brings about transformation... and love... and grace... as those whose soul had grown cold now come alive with joy.

If you know the story, the sisters assume Babette will be leaving them after the meal to return to Paris.  She then stuns them with the news that the feast cost all that she had won.  She would spend the rest of her days with the sisters.  There was no one at home for her anymore and she was happy.  For it brought her joy not only to prepare the feast for them but to once again perform her art.

I believe it was a "God thing" that I was able to watch this film the same week I was rereading Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer on the Kindle.  The book is Schaeffer's famous argument for Beauty in the life of a Christian.  He shows the reader that the Bible is full of God's use of art and reminds us that we are indeed created in the image of One who creates.

As a balance to the more theological argument, it was Edith Schaeffer who often reminded us that true Art is not only found in museums or the concert hall.  In the book Hidden Art of Homemaking, she spends a great deal of time talking about the art in preparing meals and the small ways one can bring Beauty into their life through the making of a home.

I was thinking of the film a lot after watching it and how the first time I had seen it was when I was much younger. I found it easy then to include art in my life. As we grow older and experience more of the difficulties life has to offer, it can be easy to set aside that little extra required to make life lovely.

Our soul may not have grown cold like those who sat down to feast with great apprehension... or maybe it has.  Perhaps there is a need for Beauty long forgotten.  It could be that we feel we are in Narnia when it was always winter and never Christmas.  Maybe we need a feast of our own.

I have come to realize that it is no mistake God tells us we will come together for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb upon His second advent.  He who cooked a fish breakfast by the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection seems to know a thing or two about our need for food and fellowship.

May we grow each day in His grace and never let go of the truth that He created us to make Art.  To live Art. When we do, just like Babette, we are not only bringing grace to others but also to ourselves.

Mentioned in this Post
Babette's Feast film... here.
Art and the Bible... here.
The Hidden Art of Homemaking... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Just chatting

I was thinking this past week that perhaps it is time for Saturdays to be about more than deepening the pantry.  In some ways, it already is since so many years ago I changed it from pantry posts to a lifestyle pantry post.  But over ten years of talking about the pantry... is it time to leave it behind?

So I prayed about it and as I share the same mental illness as our Vice President (I believe I hear from God)... I felt as if He was telling me not to try to fix what is not broken.  Keep it as it is!

So I made a deal with Him... if one can really make a bargain with God... that if He keeps giving me ideas then I will keep writing them down.  That is what I did a few years ago when I thought about giving up the blog and I continually am amazed at how He has provided ideas, especially for the Sunday posts.

There are probably more reasons today to deepen our pantry than when I first started blogging in 2006.  The world is even more upside down loony tunes crazy and at times... frightening.  I thank God we can rest in His Word that mankind is not going to completely blow the earth out of the solar system.  It does say if He hadn't returned then that could very well happen.  But it won't because He does...

I have to admit that part of the reason I felt like changing it all is that I continue to push through being really tired a lot.  Every time I think this virus and cough is behind me, it returns.  I think I need a trip to Aruba or some other warm place with a beach and a nonalcoholic drink with an umbrella in it.  (I prefer my carb cheats in the form of chocolate or pasta.)

The one thing I did for my pantry this week was a chore that cost nothing but time.  I cleaned and rearranged the tall yellow chimney cabinet in the kitchen.  It needs to be done every few months since I use it a lot and things can get put back where they don't belong.  It looks very nice now and there is more room just by arranging it differently.

My husband cleaned up a Rubbermaid style container for me, one that had been run over (literally) by the former inhabitants of the garage.  Thank God there has been no more mice in about a year!  The container is now ready for a few large bags of sugar that has taken up room in the kitchen (one large Sam's Club bag of confectioners sugar, one bag of white sugar, and a couple bags of brown sugar).

I've had confectioners sugar last well over a year when Stephanie left a couple large packages of it behind that she didn't use for her brother's wedding reception.  It was just fine that whole year.  White sugar lasts practically indefinitely if packaged correctly.

However, I'm finding out why some experts say not to try to store brown sugar long term.  It does get as hard as a brick and while I use all methods I know of to soften it, I'm not thrilled with any of them.  I used to use the Sam's Club size bags up before it could get that hard but I'm not doing as much baking these days. 

My biggest lesson from the large brick in the cabinet is to not purchase brown sugar in very large packages, anymore.  A few small packages will be slightly more expensive but it also will not get thrown out.  Times change and our pantries often change along with it.

My addition to the freezer this week was a whole chicken for 79 cents a pound.  I bought one for the "pantry" and one to let defrost to become dinner tonight and soup tomorrow. 

Sometimes I can really deepen the pantry using Christmas or Birthday gift money.  However, most of the time it is done a little at a time.  A ham on sale here, a turkey on clearance there, one or two whole chickens, packages of frozen veggies on sale, etc.

As with any effort to deepen our pantry, it is surprising how much we can have "put back" by purchasing just a little at a time.  Here and there.  Just a few dollars at a time. :)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Legends of Easter Treasury, a review

This book for children contains three complete stories in one volume.  They are The Legend of the Easter Egg, The Legend of the Easter Robin, and The Legend of the Sand Dollar.  All three stories are simple Christ centered "legends" for children having to do with Easter and the Resurrection.

The first story is about a little boy who must quickly leave his home because his sister has become ill with scarlet fever. He is taken to stay with friends who own a candy store during Easter week. It is hard for him to be away from his family but the couple he stays with help him to keep busy, including coloring Easter eggs. He is told the story of how Easter eggs relate to the Resurrection.

I had never heard of the Pennsylvania Dutch legend about how the robin received its red breast, which is a legend having to do with the crucifixion.  It is told to a little girl by her grandmother as they await baby robins to hatch from their eggs. It is a beautiful way to share His suffering but in a way young children can understand. 

I have read the legend of the sand dollar a few times.  In this version, a young girl and her older sister leave for their aunt's house at the beach a couple days before her parents are to follow.  The young girl is missing her parents but goes out on the water with her young cousin who teaches her the story of the sand dollar and how it relates to Easter.  She also learns that God is always near to her.

All three stories would be good read aloud to young children or elementary school children can read them on their own.  However, the real star of the show with this book is the illustrations by Richard Cowdrey.  They are lovely, full color, illustrations which I am certain even preschool children would love to look at over and over even if there is no one around to read the stories.

The cover appears to sparkle, which is another aspect of this book kids will love.  It is a rather large book so tiny hands would not be able to carry it around easily but the size does bring the reader into the story very well.  It is lovely!

The Legends of Easter Treasury was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hope For Each Day, a review

I came around to reviewing this new edition of the Billy Graham devotional in a roundabout way. I don't review many devotionals so when it became available, I passed on it.  However, I was in a store when I noticed it in their book section and picked it up to look through it.  I was smitten and checked to see if it was still available when I arrived home.

This revised edition is a "Large Deluxe" imitation leather version that is very easy to read and I love how it feels like a good quality Bible.  Since each devotional is written by Billy Graham, they are inspiring as well as Christ centered.

This will make an excellent devotional for your own use but I'm thinking it would be the perfect gift for a birthday, Easter, etc.  Especially for the people in your life that can benefit from larger print.  It is highly recommended!

Hope For Each Day Large Deluxe: Words of Wisdom and Faith by Billy Graham was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - When I Run, I Feel His Pleasure

I look forward to the Winter Olympics every four years.  World class athletes amaze and inspire me as I watch their feats, especially since there is no athletic gene in my body.  Unless "curling up and reading" becomes an Olympic event.

I am never as interested in the Summer Olympics except when following a specific athlete's career.  However, one of my all time favorite movies takes place during the Summer Olympics... Chariot of Fire is one of the most inspiring films ever made.

Based on the true story of Eric Liddell, who finds out his main race will be held on a Sunday and decides to hold fast to his convictions of keeping the Sabbath only for God and chooses not to run.  Of course, we probably would not have heard of him if God did not honor his decision and he ended up winning a gold medal in a different event... but that is part of the story.

There are a number of quotes from the film but my favorite is when he tells his sister, " I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure".

I think it is possible that the question people wonder about the most is, "Why am I here"?  Those of us who have made Jesus Lord of our life should ask the question slightly differently.  That would be, "For what purpose did God create me?".

Few people actually answer those questions.  At least from what I have seen in my years upon the planet.  They explain what their job is or perhaps their favorite hobbies.  Those who are the more spiritual among us may say that they are here to give God glory.  Which at least sounds good.

But really, what were you doing when you have felt His pleasure?  What activities can you do in which you feel you were born to do this, those in which you lose track of time?  Perhaps they came easily to you or it may be that... like an Olympic athlete... you wanted to excel so much that you were willing to put in the time to be among the best.

Was there any time that you have felt His pleasure with what you were doing?

I think the reason many of us have a hard time remembering anything is that we assume we are talking about the big stuff of life here.  Like ummm... winning a gold medal for England. 

However, if you look through the Bible at the people whose lives have been recorded for all time, you will find that just as many seemingly small events are recorded as the big stuff.  For every person asked to build an ark, another simply fed the hungry.  While David slew his giant, Lydia simply sewed lovely clothing.  We are told the story of Mary the mother of Jesus... and Mary who simply poured perfume on his feet.

Noah was given directions by God and then spent over one hundred years perfecting his craft.  David had practiced killing the bear and the lion from the time he was a child, just in time to know how to bring down the giant.  Lydia, I am certain, loved to sew.  It made her happy.  It energized her.  She could hardly wait to give her gift to a friend or family member.

They were born for that which the Bible describes... and each brought God pleasure in their deeds.

As I was pondering this question, I thought about times in my own life that I felt absolutely alive.  As if He were there with me, enjoying the moment.  I'm sure there were some big events that I felt His joy (such as my wedding) but honestly, what I can remember are the little instances.  Those that would go unnoticed by the outside world.

I remember a day when my daughter was a toddler and after her well baby checkup, I drove to a favorite department store that was close to the doctor's office.  This was in the day when they still had tearooms.  I felt such joy as I pushed Stephanie in her stroller, talking to her as I perused books and pretty china.  Some things have not changed.  ;)

We had lunch in the tea room before heading home and even though she did not talk in full sentences, yet... the communication between mom and daughter was delightful.  She enjoyed her day, too.  I felt His pleasure that day for I loved being her mom after losing our preemie son just a year before her birth.

I recall one of the many times my son and I hiked on trails together when we homeschooled.  He was probably around age nine or ten at the time.  The weather was perfect as we hiked the familiar paths.  I felt His pleasure that I loved the gift of this son, born when we thought we were not having any more children.

I have been in a corporate meeting room as the group I had been working with found a resolution to their challenges.  That season which He let me spend in corporate life, and providing me with the abilities needed... I knew it was due to His gifting and I felt the pleasure of God.

I felt His pleasure at my daughter's wedding in the chapel in a forest near where I had grown up.  I felt His pleasure at my son's wedding reception as we danced to the song he picked out for the mother-son dance... Garth Brook's The Dance... a song that is dear to me.  For their dad and I had remained faithful and raised our children to love God and honor Him and now... they were starting their own families... and He was pleased.

For you see, the reason Eric Liddell felt His presence when he ran was because... he was born to run.  He was created to run.  God knew that it was through running that he would have an audience to spread the Gospel of Christ. 

We feel His pleasure when we are doing that for which we were created.  I feel it when I'm finally getting the words that I'm trying to say as I write.  I feel Him when I'm with my family for I was created to be their wife, mother, mother-in-law, and grammie.

Okay, I also feel His pleasure at the sight of a beautiful teapot, while reading a good book, and when I am in the midst of baking a cake or chopping vegetables.  For that is the way He created me.  I am the sum of the gifts and the talents and the places and the work for which I was asked to do.

You and yours and me and mine and all God's children feel His pleasure when we run... doing that for which He created us.  Think of what you absolutely love to be and to do.  I have a feeling that is where you will feel His pleasure as you learn and grow and continue being faithful to your calling.

Eric Liddell gained fame in the Olympics and died as a missionary in China.  In both places, he was doing what he loved to do.  With different outcomes.  One would seem a success while the other would be deemed a failure.  But not in God's plan.  I think if one were to ask him now, which of the crowns he prefers... the crown of the Olympian or the Martyr's crown.... we  know what he will say.  Both were what he was born to do. 

In both instances, he felt God's pleasure.  Earthly success and Eternal success.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - My Arts & Crafts Pantry

I was looking through some photos this morning and came across this one of Victoria "helping" me do some crafting.  I do miss my Study Buddy!  It has been over a year and I have come to love Florentine but animal lovers know how each pet we love has their own space in our heart.  No kitty can ever fill that space.

One of the areas I haven't talked about in a long time is that of having an Arts & Crafts pantry.  It was especially important when there were kids at home but now it is mine.  All mine.  My pretty stuff.

What brought up the subject of an Arts & Crafts Pantry was when I was sorting washi tape recently to decide what stays in the antique wooden case and what can go into separate containers.  The Christmas tape has its own home now as does some more "architectural" choices (not shown).

Someone commented once that they would enjoy just looking at the tape and I quite agree.  Although I do use it, art is created by them simply snuggled up together in old wood.  The photo above was taken a few years ago but shows the wood container off better.  I bought it when my daughter and I attended the Brimfield flea market in New England together.

One of the reasons I've been looking through my own Arts & Craft Pantry (which consists mainly of shelves and a couple drawers in the dresser) is that I plan to start working on my scrapbook journal again.  I will write a post about it when I have something to show.

My right eye is still not completely healed, everything is a little fuzzy from that eye.  However, it is good enough that I can enjoy making some art without my eye hurting too much.  Thus... the scrapbook journal.

I have a lot of magazine and calendar images cut out and filed already.  They reside in a couple different kinds of files, taking up about half of the desk top file basket.  I've also collected original Victoria magazines through the years and they have a home in a couple vintage suitcases.

Quite a few years ago, when my son still lived at home so it has been awhile, I sorted through all the magazines to find duplicates.  Those duplicates are kept in one of the vintage picnic baskets also in the Family Room and they are what I use for cutting more photos.

Yes... I figure if my clutter is hidden in something pretty then it is not considered clutter.  ;)

All of my scrapbook journal and card making art supplies reside on these three shelves.  It helps to have them in full view when I'm looking for something.  My poor card making supplies are feeling neglected, I'm sure.  However, once again with the eye problems half of last year, they were literally put on the shelf for awhile.

I was inspired by Marie Kondo's books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy to eliminate stuff that I do not need and keep what is making me happy.  While her first book offers more how-to, it was Spark Joy that really spoke to me about keeping only what brings joy and does not add a burden.  It was also written more for the non-Japanese audience.

For some reason, the books gave me permission to get rid of so many items I had been moving around for years, some for decades.  I gave a friend who still loves to sew my fabric, another friend knitting needles, and to charity other items like yarn.

I kept some of my needlework craft items since I may still use them.  Also in the dresser drawers are accessories used in baking such as cupcake liners.  However, when I made that final decision that I was no longer holding on to sewing and knitting supplies because I absolutely no longer wanted to sew or knit... what a burden lifted off my shoulders!

I highly recommend that if you are past having fun with any arts or crafts... let the "stuff" bless other people.  Either by selling them or giving them away.  I found giving away better so I didn't have time to change my mind as I remembered their original costs.

We do tend to live in phases and sometimes what was once fun is not, anymore.  That is okay.  Let. It. Go. 

I will share what I am doing with the Scrapbook Journal when I have finished a few pages.  However, listed below is a link to what I was working on before my eye problems.

Mentioned in this Blog Post:
Scrapbook Journal here.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up... here.
Spark Joy... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.


Blogger is having some issues.  I've gone to the forum and I see that others are receiving the same error message.

If it clears up soon, I will publish a Living the Pantry Lifestyle post today.