Saturday, July 31, 2010

True Intelligence

"People are usually characterized as intelligent based on an incorrect usage of that word. It is not those who have studied the sayings and writings of ancient wise men that are intelligent. Rather, it is those who have an intelligent rational soul, who are capable of distinguishing good from evil, who avoid everything that is evil and bad for the soul, and who wisely show concern for the good and useful, and while doing so, render great thanks to God. They alone should actually be called intelligent people."

-- St. Anthony the Great

I've stolen this from Father Joseph at our church, because it's too good not to share. It's like a mini-version of The Proverbs of Solomon, isn't it? True Wisdom is embodied in Christ Himself (hint: that's why "Wisdom" is capitalized in The Proverbs - it's just another way of speaking of Christ) and therefore those that seek after Him can be called wise. In Orthodoxy there is no division of the heart and the head, the way there is in the West, where one's emotions live in the heart and one's rational thoughts come from the head. Orthodox know that no such division can really be made, so one who is filled with true spiritual intelligence will act and think accordingly. Here's an even better explanation than mine: check it out.

The Icon of St. Anthony the Great is from this page.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Linky Goodness

We spent last week in Estes Park, Colorado, having perhaps the best family vacation we've ever taken, so I've been silent for a very good reason. In lieu of a real, written post, here are a few links that have me interested:

The New York Times has a story on how oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill is dissipating much more quickly than one would expect. HT: Ann Althouse

Kelly at The Meaning of Pie has a recipe for one of my all-time favorite foods: pimento cheese. Yes, I ate lots of bologna sandwiches on white bread with mayo as a child: what made you ask?

Here is a fabulous short article on helping your children develop friendships with one another, by Rachel Balducci's mom. Eight kids? She should know!

The WSJ has an opinion piece on the Ramona Quimby books, in part because of the Ramona movie that was just released. I've said before I don't like the Ramona stories as much as others about children in stretched circumstances; right now, Two and I are about to finish The Story of the Treasure Seekers, which is a much better read.

An Orthodox priest from Belarus surprised the PCUSA General Assembly serveral weeks ago by telling them, just after they voted to approve non-celibate gay, lesbian and bi-sexual clergy:

"Christian morality is as old as Christianity itself. It doesn’t need to be invented now. Those attempts to invent new morality look for me like attempts to invent a new religion — a sort of modern paganism. ... When people say that they are led and guided by the Holy Spirit to do it, I wonder if it is the same Spirit that inspired the Bible, if it is the same Holy Spirit that inspires the Holy Orthodox Church not to change anything doctrinal or moral standards? It is really the same Spirit or perhaps there are different spirits acting in different denominations and inspiring them to develop in different directions and create different theologies and different morals?" [emphasis added]

HT: Father Joseph Huneycutt of Orthodixie.

And last but not least, Betty Duffy explains in much better words than I would the "problem" I have with Eat Pray Love. She says: "This is to say that I don't need anyone encouraging me to put myself first, or to remember my best me, or to spend another second thinking of or pampering my self." Uh, yup - that would be true of me as well. Not. another. second.

I'll try to put together a vacation post over the weekend, or maybe we'll just move on and write of other things. Who can tell? I know you're waiting impatiently to find out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oh My Stars!

I write like
Jane Austen

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

HT: Rachel Balducci. I feel like it's my birthday all over again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Two on Dessert

Two decided he was actually on Food Network today: he disappeared into the kitchen and made mini desserts for One and me, narrating to the invisible camera as he went along.

Here is mine - sweetened sour cream, slivered strawberries and bread & honey. It was amazing:

One received a tiny dish of vanilla ice cream topped with slivered strawberries, blackberries, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. One and I returned the favor, and made Two a mini, whole-grain waffle with vanilla ice cream, mini chocolate chips, and topped with a dusting of cinnamon.

It's 1:00pm and I'm stuffed. I don't think I can live in a TV kitchen much longer. Someone turn on a Star Wars movie, quick!

Saturday Breakfast

The boys usually make their own breakfast, which is quite a blessing for Husband and me. Since today is Saturday, they wanted a little more than a bowl of Cheerios. Here's what each of them came up with:

One went for the French breakfast - cafe au lait (3/4 milk, 1/4 coffee) and toasted sourdough with strawberry preserves:

All that's missing is the newspaper and Gauloises:

Two was all traditional - scrambled eggs and cheese - but he had fun garnishing his plate with some fresh basil be found in the 'fridge. Husband is the omelette master in this house, and as Two walked out of the kitchen with his creation he whispered "take that, Dad!" I think someone may have watched a little too much Food Network Challenge, no?

Anyone care to come over for brunch tomorrow?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth of July Weekend in Pictures

This Fourth of July we went for a simple celebration: eat until you almost explode, then light some sparklers for the kids and watch them from the porch. I have to say, I like it.

Dinner on Sunday night:

Some grass-fed ribeyes:

Husband's secret grilled broccoli - I'm about to get my hand slapped here for peeking under the foil before it went on the grill.

Tomato and feta salad - this made a delicious lunch on toasted sourdough bread today, too:

And, for dessert, what else?

Tell me you don't want a bite?

And then tonight:

Husband's brined and grill-roasted chicken:

Pea salad:

Kelly's peaches with balsamic and blue cheese:

And her smoked salmon with corn pancakes - and if you're not checking her food blog, The Meaning of Pie, on a regular basis, you might could have a screw loose:

And again, for dessert, who can resist a repeat performance?

Combine all that with some sparklers and firecrackers, and we couldn't be happier.

Lighting the last of the firecrackers:

Where did they go, Dad?

Happy Fourth, y'all, and may God Bless America.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Just Be Yourself

"... Blajeny nodded. 'Yes. You have much to learn from each other. Meanwhile, I will give each of you assignments. Charles Wallace, can you guess what yours is?' 'To learn to adapt.' 'I don't want you to change!' Meg cried. 'Neither do I,' Blajeny replied. 'Charles Wallace's problem is to learn to adapt while remaining wholly himself.'"

--- Madeleine L'Engle, A Wind in the Door

I've been thinking about this exchange ever since I re-read this book several months ago. One and I have had several talks about it and how it can apply to him: he needs to get along better with others, and if he can think about doing that in these terms, it helps (and hurts less at the same time). Today I started realizing that the truth in this passage applies to so much more than that.

Here's what I mean:

Everywhere I look, I see advice for Christian women that at heart asks them to be someone other than who they are. Be a Proverbs 31 woman, be Mary, be Martha, be Ruth - the list goes on and on. Many times the advice goes further than that and becomes "you're not a good Christian women unless you [fill in the blank: are a Proverbs 31 gal, stay home full time, have lots of children, etc]." And so the Mommy Wars come to Christian women, and many of us get wrapped up in watching how other people act, looking for the right person to be more like, and struggling to live up to some standard that doesn't fit us any more than that size 6 bikini in the Everything But Water window display.

And it's all wrong. Because just as Charles Wallace was asked to get along with others without being anyone other than himself, we are called to be ourselves as we live our lives as Christians. The one big qualifier in all that is: we are called to do so in chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility, while putting aside wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. In other words, we are here to sin less, while being who we were born to be and living out the life God has given us. We are not meant to be like someone else, to follow their path, to mimic their actions. We are to follow God and God alone, and that means living as ourselves and using all the strength He has given us to run from sin and towards virtue.

So I am called to sin less while working full time, mothering two wild, public schooled boys, ordering too much take-out, relying heavily on my precious, perfect cleaning lady, and leaving the laundry in the living room for days at a time. You may be called to sin less while staying home full-time with six children, or you may be called to sin less while working part time, sending your three children to private school, and cooking everything from Sandra Lee's "semi-homemade" recipes. Ultimately, though, the details are less important to God than the "sin less" part of the equation. He'll help you work out the details of what daily life looks like (and remember, He gave you your own gifts, intelligence and discernment to help do that by yourself, too), but your day-to-day life doesn't have to look like mine, I don't get to judge you if it doesn't, and vice versa.

Like your mom told you when you were a teenager: just be yourself. It's who God made you, and He did that for a reason. Focus on the real reason we're here: to love and worship Him, to work every day to sin less, and to grow in virtue. On you, that will look different than it does on everyone else. Isn't that refreshing!?