Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012

I don’t feel that it should be the end of 2012.  This year has flown by at an incredible speed, and I can’t avoid the niggling impression that it ought to be longer.  A year isn’t supposed to be this short, is it?  But nevertheless, here we are at the second-to-last day of the year, with approximately 32 hours left before 2013 begins.
Something about this time of year always makes me somewhat reflective, and I tend to slow down and look back over the past, trying to recall all that has occurred in the past twelve months, trying to remember how these hours and moments and days were spent.
I suppose it’s a natural inclination, as the ending of a year reminds me afresh of the fact that I’ll never be able to re-spend my time; I only have one chance to invest it correctly.  When I make an error in sewing, I can pull out the stitches and re-do the project again.  I can’t do that with my time.  It is impossible to go back, to change what I’ve done with it.
Thinking back over this too-short year, seeking to recall where all those hours went – it reminds me of how fleeting life is.  How short, in comparison with eternity, our time really is.
“[As for] man, his days [are] as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the mercy of the LORD [is] from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.”  -Psalm 103:15-18
2013 will hold another 365 days.  May God grant us the grace to use them wisely, and for His glory.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quote

“You say further that Rome is perhaps the most wonderfully devised mechanism extant.  By her admirable organization she appears as the most Brilliant, intellectual, and worldly-wise manifestation of the Anti-Christ in the world up to date, and that is why she is the most flexible, the most adjustable, the most adaptable scheme of things devised by man.  She can conform to any proposition of the corrupt human mind, but not to the truth as revealed to us by the Holy Ghost, because the Carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed  can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  Rom. 8:7.8.
“Rome has changed the truth of God into a lie, worshipping and serving the creature more than the creator.  Rom 1:25.  Witness Transubstantiation, denial of the sufficiency of the mediatorial work and Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Mariolatry, adoration of Angels, Saints, and what not.  Rome has done, and does, what the Devil tempted our Lord to do, to fall down and worship him and then he will give him all the glory of the world with its kingdoms and dominions, and that Rome has not got it is because Satan cannot deliver the goods, but that is the aim of the Church of Rome.  The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof, Ps 24:1.”
-Tjerk Veenstra (one of my ancestors), in a letter, 1927

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mayonnaise

In order to better appreciate this post, you ought to know that I care not for most condiments, mayonnaise included.
I do not like mustard.  I do not like pickle relish.  I do not like ketchup.  I do not like mayonnaise.  I do not like them here or there, I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
So, when Mom asked me what we should have for lunch today, the fact that we didn’t have mayonnaise didn’t deter me from suggesting chicken salad.
You might not care about it,” Mom told me, “but others of us don’t enjoy dry chicken salad.”
Oh.  Right.
I still wanted that chicken salad.  I didn’t care about the mayonnaise, or lack thereof.  So I came to the obvious conclusion that I would attempt to make the missing condiment.
A quick Internet search showed me that most recipes were nearly identical.  One egg, one cup oil, a tablespoon or so vinegar or lemon juice, and some seasonings.
So, armed with a few simple ingredients and a blender, I began.
Some recipes called for an entire egg, while others simply used the yolk.  I started out by only using the yolk, since I decided it would be easier to add the white later than to attempt to remove it after whipping everything together.
Every single recipe I saw warned that the oil was to be added slowly. 
So, I added the oil slowly.
Or at least, I thought I did.
I’d call taking two minutes to pour one cup of liquid slow.
But apparently, it wasn’t slow enough.  When I realized my mixture wasn’t at all resembling mayonnaise, I read some of those recipes a bit slower.
Ten minutes, folks.  I was supposed to add that oil almost drop-by-drop over the space of something like ten minutes.  ’Cause, you know, we don’t want to rush things.
Oops.
I don’t like to waste ingredients, so I ditched the instructions (which told me to dump what I’d mixed) and ventured forth into the unknown.  Or something like that.
I opened the blender and poured most of the contents back into the measuring cup.  Yes, poured.  That stuff…well, it looked like oil and egg yolk mixed together.  Which it was.  But see, it wasn’t supposed to look like that.  Mayonnaise doesn’t look like oil and egg yolk, does it?
Dumping those egg whites into the mixture, just in case they actually did something to help, I started again, pouring the egg-and-oil mixture in drop by agonizing drop.
Curious siblings walk past.  ”What are you making, Hannah?”
“I don’t know.  I don’t want to talk about it.  Just leave me alone, please.”
Our blender stops every minute, and I have to start the cycle again.  Each time I do, the mixture splatters up out of the blender onto my face.
Olive oil is good for skin, right? Of course right.  
A quick inspection reveals that the mixture no longer looks quite so runny and disgusting.  It’s starting to get a bit thicker, a bit paler…
There’s hope!
Another ridiculously long fifteen minutes  and many splatters later, the mix finally resembles mayonnaise.
Sort of.
It’s spreadable, anyway, and identifiable as a condiment rather than a salad dressing.  So.  It is mayonnaise.
Voila?
I go looking for a family member who actually likes mayonnaise.
“It’s…sort of yummy.”  Abbie tells me. “But…I don’t like it.”
Well, at least she’s honest.
Esther, however, loves it.  ”It tastes like apricots!”
What?!  Apricots…?  (We later learn that she meant avocados.)
So after nearly a full half-hour of frustration, I got my chicken salad.  Dry.  Just as I wanted it in the first place.
And all this, people, is to tell you that I suddenly have a new-found appreciation for store-bought mayo.
Long live Hellmanns?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Musical Terms: Defined

(or, “A post full of exaggeration which was written on the spur of the moment and should not be taken too seriously”)
Baby Grand – About as easy to fit in your living room as a baby elephant.  At least it sounds nicer, though.
Bluegrass – An easy way to get everyone in the room tapping their feet and clapping.  (Also an epic way to get people dancing.  Seriously, I know it’s not historically accurate, but I wish people would accompany ECD with a banjo.)
Country Music – The result of someone losing something and singing about it like a moaning cow.
Do - A deer, a female deer…
Easy Listening – The music played when someone puts you on hold for several hours and wishes to give you a headache.
Fa – A long, long way to run.
Harmony - What you pretend to sing when you don’t know the melody.
La – A note to follow so
Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, et al.  - The latest innovation in musical torture.
Lullabies – Nonsensical lyrics put to soothing tunes.  Rock-a-bye baby, in the….TREETOP?!   What kind of mother sticks her baby up there?
Metal  - An odd combination of music and chainsaws.
Mi – A name I call myself.
Musicals - When an entire town or group of people suddenly makes up a song together and sings it, with no previous practice or planning, and a movie is made of the miraculous event.
Opera - A quick way to get either a headache or a sore throat.
Praise Choruses – Music with lots of repetition.  They like to repeat themselves a lot.  Repeating is common.  Repeating themselves frequently is what these folks tend to do.  They don’t often use big words, either.   They like to repeat the same lines over and over and over and over and over and over and over and…
Rap – The musical equivalent of Red Bull.  Listening might not be the most enjoyable thing, and you might not understand what you’re hearing, but at least you won’t have to worry about falling asleep…
Ri – A drop of golden sun.
Rock Music  - What happens when people try to imitate the sound of grating stones – with their voice and a set of drums.
So – A needle pulling thread.
Solo - Singing so low no one can hear anything.
Staccato – Imitating the sound of rapidly popping popcorn.  This is sort of how I end up sounding when I practice piano after drinking coffee.
Ti – A drink with jam and bread.

What others can you think of?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why I Will Not Vote Romney

I’ve heard the same thing over and over lately, in blog comments and forum threads and facebook discussions and real life conversations and anywhere and everywhere. And I’m sick of it.
Why?  Because it isn’t true, it isn’t logical, and it isn’t wise. To follow it would be an abandonment of principle and a betrayal to my country, and so I refuse to heed it.
It is the notion that we must vote for Romney simply because he purportedly has the best chance of defeating Obama come November. Because our nation “can’t take another four years of Obama.” Because Obama is horrid, and evil, and of course no one wearing a red tie could ever be as bad.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’d never vote for Obama, and I don’t like him any more than you do.  His policies are horrid, he very well might be constitutionally unqualified for office, and he has done dreadful damage to America during the past four years.  I loath the very notion of him getting another four years to wreak havoc on America.
Nevertheless, that does not mean that I will vote for whoever seems to have the best chance at winning.*
Recently, I’ve been discussing this very matter with a friend of mine.  She is in the Romney-because-I’ve-no-other-choice camp, and stated that although Romney’s record isn’t much better than Obama’s, he would likely be more conservative if he were elected.  She believes that Romney would run a more constitutional and conservative administration than Obama, and that Romney’s administration would look a lot different than his current record.
She might be right.  Romney strikes me as someone who is seeking to promote self whenever possible, and if he wanted a second term he just might take a more conservative stance on some issues.
Of course, right now even Clinton’s administration looks conservative when compared to Obama’s.  Hence, it would take very little effort for Romney to seem ultra-conservative, if compared to Obama.  Compare him to any of our founding fathers, however, and the fact that he is radically liberal and unconstitutional quickly becomes evident.
Might he be more conservative than Obama?
Perhaps.
But when his views echo Obama’s, why should we expect it?

Luke 16:10 states that:
“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”
If Romney was not faithful in following the Constitution and Bible while governor, why should we expect him to follow it as President?
After the recent SCOTUS decision on Obamacare, Romney stated that:
“If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama.”
I’d agree. But to replace Obama with the man who made the Obamacare prototype – also known as Romneycare – seems rather stupid. Romney’s new slogan is “Repeal and Replace Obamacare.” My question is, “why on earth would you want to replace it?”  Yikes.
So, while I agree that it is possible that Romney will take a more conservative stance should he be elected, I wouldn’t bet on it.  Especially when the stakes include my country. The land of freedom which was bought at the price of blood.
I know with certainty that he would not reverse America’s slide away from constitutional government, even if he did slow it down slightly.
Furthermore, I don’t respect the man at all. His current stance on all hotly disputed issues seems to be to figure out which way the winds of opinion are blowing and to follow them. He is a chameleon.  If he truly loved his country, it stands to reason that he would have a solid platform, a line in the sand.  Should he run the country the same way he has run his campaign, our nation will be in sad shape indeed.
And now we come to one of my final objections to Romney – the fact that he would put America back to sleep with the deadly lullaby of a red tie.
If Obama has done one good thing during these last four years, it is to waken the American people.  Conservatives are enraged at his policies and actions, and they are fed up with liberals. The sleeping giant has been tyrannized enough, and is beginning to rouse.  Even some liberals are abandoning the democratic party.
But should Romney become president, and great number of Americans will go back to sleep.  They will note the red tie, observe the the ousting of Obama, and then roll over and go back to their lives, thanking God that we have another “wonderful christian republican president.”**
True, there will be some who continue to sound the alarm bells, who stand fast, who echo the words of Patrick Henry.  But I’m afraid that the majority of Americans will assume the crisis is past.
Finally, I must point out the fact that Mitt Romney is not the only option.  Although I don’t agree with Ron Paul on everything, I do believe that he is the only candidate worth casting a vote for.  He has stood firm on his convictions for many years, has upheld the Constitution even when no one else will, and is, so far as I can tell, a true christian and patriot.
I do not believe that our Founding Fathers would have ever voted for Romney. They were willing to give their lives for America, even when she was not yet in existence, even when it seemed a hopeless cause.
Right now, America seems to be faltering under the weight of her chains and loss of her liberties. The poem written by Francis Scott Key during the war of 1812 still seems to be relevant today, although I am not looking for the flag, but the free and the brave.
“O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
I’m not sure how many Americans are free or brave anymore.  But I do know that I will not, can not, vote for someone who will, I am convinced, undermine America’s freedom and liberty further.
And that is why I will never vote for Romney.


*Note that I’m not at all convinced that Romney has the ability to defeat Obama.
**The words of one freedom-loving and woefully ignorant American concerning George W. Bush, back in 2004.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Six

Has it been this long since I held you for the first time?  Since that joyous morning when I walked into Mom and Dad’s bedroom after hearing them calling us, meeting you for the first time?  You were so sweet, with long fingers and toes and curly hair.
I’ve always loved your name.  In fact, I named my favorite doll Abbie when I was two or three years old.  For awhile Lizzy held to the notion that you were actually named after the doll.  It took us quite a bit to convince her that you weren’t.
Six years.  I blink, and all of a sudden you’re no longer a baby.  Time seems like such a vapor sometimes, and it just keeps getting faster.
I recall my sixth birthday.  We had a birthday party – my first one with friends over – and played musical chairs and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and raced each other for prizes of silly putty and multi-colored pens.  One of the little boys tried to scare me with a worm, but at that age I loved worms and snakes and reptiles.
And I felt like such a big kid.
I look at you and I know that I wasn’t really big, but I’m not surprised to see you thinking you are.  You watch me and help me and feed me skittles and give me pictures and I feel like I’m watching myself at age six.  How is it that time goes so fast?
Wasn’t I just doing that?  How come you’re big enough to do it?   It’s mind boggling, and I don’t want to blink because then you’ll be in high school (and we won’t talk about how old I’ll be!) and life is so short.
You’ve grown so much since the times I would hold you in Church and you’d suddenly let out an excited shriek, since the times you chewed and slobbered on everyone’s shoulders.
Every day I see you growing in grace and knowledge and sometimes craziness, and I’m so glad you’re my sister.  So glad God has given us this time together, however quickly it may seem to pass.
You are a wonderful sister to me, and I’m lovin’ every minute of it.
Happy Sixth Birthday, Abbie!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Deadly Red Ties and Other Random Musings

Pulling into church last Sunday morning, our family was surprised to see multiple police cars scattered throughout the parking lot.  We are currently not attending one particular church and are instead visiting various congregations in the area, so we were not present for any announcements given the previous week.
Once we reached the lobby area, Mom was pulled aside by an excited church member who let her know that “Newt Gingrich is coming here today!  He’s going to go right through those doors!”  After politely exiting the conversation, Mom slipped over to the rest of us to give us the news.  Our reactions ranged from “Eww! Yuck!” to “Who’s he?”, but we managed to make our way to the balcony without too much commotion.
Thankfully, the service was not at all focused on Newt, and at the end when the Pastor did mention him, he made sure to state that Jesus was the most important visitor.  Nevertheless, “our” pew was conspicuously still and silent when everyone else was applauding and welcoming Gingrich.  I was deeply disappointed in how excited so many seemed at the prospect of meeting him – if we had been in some place other than church, I would have been tempted to boo or start chanting ‘End the Fed!’.
Had Obama or Clinton or someone else wearing a blue tie been there instead that day I doubt that they would have received such an enthusiastic welcome – but because Gingrich wears a red tie, no one seems to look twice at the fact that he is otherwise indistinguishable from many liberals.  Ugh.  Red ties are quite deadly, I’m afraid.  So far they’ve managed to do much are harm to our country, and I’m surprised that many continue to be blinded by them.
~
Those of you who aren’t new here likely notice that I’ve changed my background theme. (yet again!)  Hopefully this one is for keeps.  I like it, even thought the html has proved slightly difficult to manipulate.  If any of you note any bugs, flaws, or ugly stuff I’d be thankful if you’d leave me a comment pointing them out.
In other news, google has discontinued the friend connect gadget for all non-blogger sites.  Since I’ve been double posting to my old blogger blog lately, anyone “following” me there will still get updates in their blogger news feed, although it’ll be more hassle than before.  If you know me in person/know me well enough that you know my full name feel free to “friend” me on facebook, (no guarantees that I’ll confirm, though!) but if not, sorry…
~
It’s been different lately with no real baby around the house.  For the first time in about decade there are no diapers to change, no burp rags to fold, no little one to “fight” over… In a way it’s sort of sad, because unless God sends another sibling, that chapter of our family’s life is finished.
~
My days lately are filled with school.  Trying to finish up twelfth grade and “graduate” from my days of formal schooling has me busier than I’d like to be, but thankfully I’m in the home stretch now.  Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed, although I’m a perfectionist and the overwhelm is mostly my own fault, I think.
I’m also trying to figure out what to do after graduating.   Taking over schooling some of the littles is an option, although right now I think Mom is doing a better job than I would be able to.  I’d also like to find a way to get some sort of income, although I’d prefer for it to be from home or self employed.  Photography is something I really want to look into, although I’d need a better camera than the one I -er, Mom – has.  Heh.
Anyway, if you’ve read through this far I congratulate you.  Thanks for bearing with my rambling.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hesitating Over Communication

I sit there, typing furiously, trying desperately to get the words out.  Pausing to look at my work, dismay hits, and the backspace button is employed once again.  With a clean sheet of paper, I migrate away from the computer, hoping to capture with paper the thoughts which the computer could not.  But it is to no avail.
Anything I wish to communicate via the written word is inadequate, imperfect, too stiff.  Some people are able to speak and write eloquently, making me laugh or cry or ponder.  But when I write, everything just seems blah, at least to me.  When I speak, it is not without much hesitation and trepidation.
Blog post drafts stay in the draft stage for weeks, months, and sometimes even years before I finally decide to either delete them or take a deep breath and hit the publish button.  Conversations play out in my mind for hours before I take a deep breath and introduce myself to someone new.  Even emails and letter collect {virtual??} dust as I try to find the courage to send them.
After I say finally something or publish a blog post or hit the send button or seal the envelope or whatever, I ask myself, why?
Why is it so hard for me to express what I want to say?  Why do I fear to open my mouth?  What makes it so difficult for me to be content with the quality of what I have communicated?
The answer lies not in that I have had a lot of criticism, or that I have been lambasted for saying something in the past, or anything like that.  Although there have been times when close friends and family gently admonish me over something unkind which I stated, I have never received any real opposition to anything I’ve ever said.
So why the hesitation?
Pride.
Perfectionism is a pitfall which I all to easily stumble into.  Mortified all too easily at any blunder, any faux pas, I tend to keep everything inside instead.  After all, I can’t go wrong if I don’t say anything, right?
But instead, I hurt myself as well as those around me.  I keep silent when I ought to say something, I don’t comment even when I know that I could or should or ought to.
Almost two years ago, some girls at Presbytery were going to be singing a quick chorus at the “talent show” there.  They asked me to join, since the needed all the volume they could get.  Refusing with the excuse that I needed to help Mom with the little kids, I politely declined and heaved a deep sigh of relief.
But now I wonder if my refusal was partly based on pride, on the fear that I would mess up.  If I has asked Mom, I’m sure she would have told me to go ahead.  Instead, I let my fears get in the way.
The epistle of James speaks of the tongue being a rudder, something which steers the whole course of life.  I’ve heard many people speak of times they said the wrong thing, times they blundered terribly with what the spoke and damaged many around them.
“Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.”   – James 3:4-5
So many realize quickly how easy it is the say the wrong thing at the wrong time, to speak when it is not appropriate.
But a ship’s rudder, although it can be incredibly harmful when used the wrong way, is also necessary.  So also is communicating, even when it is something hard for me to do.
Moses was not nimble in speaking.  He did not feel at all capable of confronting the Pharaoh, of taking on the tremendous task of ambassador for Israel.
And yet he did.
Sure, God sent his brother along to help him out, but Moses was not excused  from duty.
Just as Moses stood up and used his faltering mouth for God’s glory, so I ought to do the same, even when my pride hisses to me that I can’t, shouldn’t, won’t.
Perhaps I will never find speaking to be an easy task. Perhaps I will never excel at communicating.  But with God’s help, I  can reach past my pride and trepidation and speak.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One Decade Ago Today

A decade ago today, Momma told Stephen, Lizzy, and I to go pack overnight bags, that we were going to stay with our friends for that day and possibly overnight.   We went to our bedrooms and pulled out some clothes and stuffed them into bags.
“You’re going to get a new baby brother or sister today!” Dad and Mom told us as we tromped into the car.  We celebrated and bounced up and down and were a little bit scared, all at the same time.
They dropped us off at the residence of the P__ family, then continued on to their destination.
Our young minds quickly left the topic of new baby and refocused on playing with the other kids.  We found the playmobils and guided them through an adventure.  We went outside and played on their swing set.  We played checkers on a big cracker-barrel style mat thing.  We went on a walk around the block with them and their mom.
And then that evening, while coloring pictures with the family’s only girl and Lizzy, using markers from a butterfly shaped art case, I was handed the phone.
“Hi Hannah!” came Dad’s voice “you have a new baby sister!  Her name is Esther Ruth.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friendship

{1} Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
{2} Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent pray’rs;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims, are one,
Our comforts and our cares.

{3} We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
{4} When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
~John Fawcett
The words to this song, specifically the third line of the first verse, really struck me recently.  2011 was a hard year for me & my family in several ways, one of which was a lack of Christian fellowship and community.  I miss the cozy, stimulating feel of a good discussion among like-minded friends, the fun of laughing and crying and debating and praying with and for friends.  The old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is true in many ways, and I pray that when God brings to us a season where we will be able to experience this again we will not take it for granted.
When God does open up the door for us to taste that sweet delight of fellowship again, I pray that I will have the courage to, as the third stanza speaks of, share and  to sympathize, to hear and to help, to give and to receive.  I don’t want to be superficial, to just chatter.
The aching void that this current lack has created has also forced me to draw nearer to my family, to the occasional friend who I have been able to see, and also to the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother”*.
Not only that, but with the technological world we live in now, I am able to do so much more than I would otherwise be able to.  I can keep up with friends and acquaintances with so much more ease than I otherwise would be able to.  The mere click of a button allows me to share and see thoughts, pictures, videos, and other such things with you and from you.
I do not know why God has not let us experience more of the joys written of in this hymn.  I cannot explain or understand it, but I do know that all thing work for to accomplish His plan.  While I often feel that we have been stranded, I know that somehow, someday, God will work it out for our good, for our benefit, and most of all for His glory.
*Proverbs 18:24b