Monday, October 26, 2009

Doing what we can for justice

I've recently started using again as a way to trade books. While browsing around for books to add to my wishlist I stumbled upon one where the "blurb" immediately caught my eye,

"Most of us care. We really do. We care about poverty and injustice, about orphans and the sick. And yet, weighed down by the everyday tasks of bringing home a paycheck, putting food on the table, and shuttling kids around, we question our ability to make a difference. Bombarded by one celebrity help-the-world-athon after another, we shrug our shoulders in futility and do absolutely nothing. . . . But what if we did. . . .Something?"

The book is She Did What She Could by Elisa Morgan. She focuses on Mark 14:3-9 and the story of a woman who pours her jar of perfume on Jesus. Some present found this extravagance wasteful and unnecessary. However, Jesus said, "She did what she could." (vs. 8) and that her story would be told in connection with the gospel throughout the world. (vs. 9). (Sidenote: there are actually two stories of women anointing Jesus in the gospel - I always thought it was just one! The other specifically calls the woman one who had a lived a sinful life and the pharisees object to her personally - not just the cost of the oil. We're talking about the first story though)

So, the book focuses on what the author feels God taught her through that story, and more specifically, through that one phrase - "She did what she could." I just want to summarize a few things that really stood out to me.

The focus on the word "what." It doesn't say she did all she could. Yes, there are biblical examples that support the "all" philosophy - where we are called to give our last cent or to keep going even when our strength is gone. But - in this case - in this instance - we don't know if she gave all. She could have - but Jesus did not make that distinction. He says "what" she could. However she arrived at that decision - it was accepted and honored. It was not less-than-enough. Her what was enough. A quote from the book: "The element of faith comes into play here. My 'what' may not look like much to me. It may seem puny. It may look like no big deal, as if it couldn't make a dent. But when I put my 'what' in Jesus' hands, it becomes enough." (56)

It's easy to get caught up in whatever your passion is regarding social justice. There are so many areas to choose. Hungry people in your community. Hungry people on another continent. Abortion. People sold into the human trafficking industry. Disease. Malnutrition. Homelessness. Poverty. The lack of clean drinking water. Genocides. Oppressive governments. Prejudices. Discrimination.

I find that sometimes I feel guilty for not having strong feelings for all of these. Yes, they are all heart-wrenching. But I sometimes feel that I only have so much empathy that I can extend. I can only seek to educate myself and the world about so much. I can only give to so many places. And, sadly, I admit, my reaction to all this overwhelming need is initially just to stop. If I can't fix it all - why try? I remember shortly after the time that Katrina hit, followed by the Tsunami in Asia, and I believe there were a few other natural disasters around the same time - I read something about how our mass communication has overwhelmed us. 50 years ago it would've taken us weeks to get that info, we may have never seen photos or heard stories, it would've taken much longer to get supplies and people to the locations to help. Now - we know about tragedy upon tragedy in real-time. We can watch live satellite feeds. Hear the stories. See the faces. Our money can be instantaneously transferred to aid organizations. We can hop on planes and make it there to help in a relatively short period of time. But, we can't do it all. So, we get overwhelmed with the need.

That is why the "She Did What She Could" idea so profoundly hit me. It's something that's been on my mind since those tragedies I mentioned above and not knowing how to help. If I just focus on what I can do - if I focus on being sensitive to exactly what my "what" is - knowing when it's my last two cents and when it's not - then I'll know I've done my part. I'll know that no matter how great or small what I could do is - that it's valued - that it's part of furthering the name of Jesus Christ. And then, I have to be ok with that. I have to not feel guilty that I couldn't do more. It's kind of simple and kind of not. Being able to help a family in need with a little bit is nice - until you feel overwhelmed that you can't fix it all. I guess it's then that I have to remember Who is in charge and have faith that he cares more than I do. That bad things happen to good people, that injustice exists, but that at the end of the day I still believe that God is more than good - and that he will see justice - his justice- delivered one way or another and that to be a part of that - I just need to do what I can.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Go shopping for me

My method of decorating tends to be "don't put anything in the room I don't love." That worked well for me - when I had an extra undecorated bedroom in which to stick all those elements I didn't love (but thought that I'd love later for another room, or they were just necessary, or they had nostalgic value.) But now that I have exactly one bedroom of personal space - personal space with provided furnishings no less - I'm having issues. It certainly has that dorm room feel to it and I'm trying not to hate that.

There's also the issue of the radiator being directly in front of the window and my fire-paranoia complicating the curtain issue.

However, here a couple of glances at my room now - and then I'm going to send you out shopping for me as my brain is having a block thanks to all those aforementioned issues.

The curtains. These hung in my old guest room - and looked much better there. Narrow window, pooling on the floor, no off-center radiator in front of the window. Ah, well. Curtains are expensive and as I can't really close the curtains or put another panel in the center (and don't tell me the radiator will be fine and the curtains won't spontaneously ignite - I won't believe you!) - new drapes are not really possible. Any other ideas? Scarf across the top? Valence over the top - though I hate valences - so find me one that works!

And the bed portion of the room. The frames on the wall are leaving. There was a third one and it fell. I'm trying to avoid putting nails in the wall - so - I'm thinking - some of that vinyl wall art that's all the rage now. Etsy search "vinyl wall decal" if you don't know what I'm talking about. I haven't found anything I'm in love with yet though. So - your job: find me wall art to go in that corner and tell me where to put it (head of bed, side wall, on the slanty attic ceiling above, etc.)

Second thing for this corner. Throw pillows for me bed that coordinate but are not matchy-matchy.

Third thing: New bedside table that will provide adequate bedside storage for lamp, book, laptop, and odds and ends but that doesn't have a crooked leg and doesn't look like that and would hopefully hide that tangle of electrical cords.

Also - an area rug to put down to cover the odd-colored/stained carpet would be awesome.

I've kind of got a butterfly with reds, browns, greens, and golds going on. Black accents.

On a positive note -my room did come with this awesome dresser and I do like how I've decorated the top of it:

It's Charlie, Moe, and Blanche! I do love these ducks. Even though they don't match my room. . .

Now, off you go. Come back with links to fabulous things that I can buy to add to my room.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wacky Cake

So I made this a long time ago, way back when I still lived at my apartment. I was looking through my photos and realized I never posted it though! It's called Wacky cake but i kind of want to call it Monster Cake as it makes a little face at one point in the prep process.

Funny story first. I was flipping through my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and reading through dessert recipes to try to find something simple to make and as I was reading their chocolate cake recipe I laughed at their note about "some recipes even called for us to make holes in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into those." They dismissed it as way too complicated. A couple years later ATK touts the brilliance of doing just that when they publish the wacky cake recipe in their Best Lost Recipes book. Amusing, no? I thought so.

Anyway. So, my Best Lost Recipes book tells me this recipe came about during WWII when people made do without rationed food. To make a cake without eggs they devised this method of mixing the ingredients in the pan so that when they poured vinegar into the pan it would react with the baking soda and give it a lift - but it has to go into the oven quickly after the reaction in order for the rise to stick. Here's the All Recipes version that's not all copyrighted by America's Test Kitchen though it looks really similar. Wacky Cake. Photos of my wacky cake journey!

You see all the dry ingredients mixed in the pan with the holes made above. Then you pour the liquids into the holes.

Pour water over the whole thing and stir.

Then you bake it comes out all normal looking like any other chocolate cake.

Dust with some powdered sugar and enjoy. Yum!

Friday, October 9, 2009

drumroll please

7 people entered with a total of 15 entries. So most of you had a pretty good chance of winning. ;-)

And the winner is...


Ok - so - Lauren. I don't think I have your current address. Just send that to me and I'll go tell to ship your cookbook to you! Happy Baking!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Here is my pumpkin bread recipe. I've made it as large loaves, small loaves, and muffins. All fabulous!

I went looking for my pumpkin bread recipe and realize it's one I found on (my second favorite source of recipes because of the review feature)

Pumpkin Bread

The recipe indicates that this bread tastes better after it has been frozen and then thawed - and it's true. It's why I make big batches to thaw out throughout the year. (And why I stocked my mother's freezer full of pumpkin bread muffins before I moved. How's your stock doing, mom? :) )

Happy baking!

(Don't forget about the cookbook giveway! Deadline to enter is Friday morning!)

Monday, October 5, 2009

I've been interviewed

Check out the Women of Promise Blog. There's a short interview featuring yours truly as well as interview with other women on what God is teaching them.

(Don't forget about the cookbook giveway! Deadline to enter is Friday morning!)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The blog redesign/merger party!

My friend Melody over at Creative Radiance is giving away one of her cool plarn bags. You should NOT go register to win because I want to win. But go read her blog and buy something from her etsy store anyway! :-D

And, because I think giveaways on blogs are fun and a good idea I'm going to copy Melody.

In honor of the upcoming holiday baking season I'm going to give away a copy of America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book (This is from me. ATK has no idea who I am as far as I know!)

Here’s how you enter (again, copied from Melody – I’m such a thief!)
You get one entry for a comment here telling me what you want me to write about most with my new blog merger.
You get one entry for a comment linking your twitter post that links to this post.
You get one entry for a comment linking to your blog where you link this post.

(You can put all three things in one comment if you want)

Then I'll number all the entries and put them in a random number generator and pick the winner!

Deadline to enter: Friday, October 9th by 8:00 a.m. central time. Winner will be announced by Friday evening as long as all goes according to plan.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's Pumpkin Season!

It's October - which means it's the official start of Pumpkin Season (in my mind anyway - I'm not sure if there is an official pumpkin season.)

In honor of this - I thought I'd post a few of my favorite pumpkin things (as well as a few new things that I just found for this post)

1. Dunkin Donuts pumpkin muffins. YUM.

2. My Pumpkin Bread. It's good. I'll post the recipe later as I just did a search and realized I've never posted it. I'm shocked that I haven't posted it yet- I make that non-stop in the fall.

3. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. I just tried this the other day for the first time. I was a bit worried about pumpkin in liquid form - but it was good!

4. Those clear class pumpkin bowls that everyone sets out about this time and fills it with food. (We did a lot of cheeze-its in my house growing up as they are orange. And that matters to me.) Here is one here if you don't know what I'm talking about.

5. Actual pumpkins. Everywhere. They're a food. A decor item. A craft item. Really - very functional those pumpkins!

6. The color. Particularly as I've recently discover that I look pretty good in orange.

7. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Again - yum!

8. These very autumny covered pumpkin mugs from Williams Sonoma.

9.Pumpkin Pie. Traditional. Plain. With Cool Whip. The kind that has a cream cheese layer. It's all good. (And a perfect day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast food)

10. The smell - which is probably more of a smell of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves - - but to me that smell means pumpkin - and it's heavenly.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

ahhh..I can post again

So I haven't been posting because I hated how my blog looked and I didn't want to bring people here by writing a new post.

But, NOW - usn't it pretty? Blog design via Simply Yours Designs.

Now I can start posting again and not be ashamed of my blog ;-)