I've had a go at making my own liquid soap for washing clothes this week. I noticed that Crystal had a go at it recently, and wasn't bowled over by the results.
I got my recipe from my friend Lucy, and she was most enthusiastic, so I gathered my little bundle of cheap ingredients (soda crystals for 54 pence? I'll be having some of that then...) set up my giant stock pots and empty 4 litre milk bottles and got to work.
Now, first benefit, as I added a few drops of peppermint essential oil, the house smelled wonderful. It was an easy enough recipe, and didn't make a mess. In the 4 washes I've done since, I've been quite content with the results. It hasn't left me slack-jawed with the results, but I haven't been cross with the results either.
I've concluded that it is certainly no worse than the expensive shop-bought detergents, and with a few old-fashioned pre-treatments, may perhaps be better on occasion. The swing factor is that it costs so much less. It's not tedious to make, and I filled 4 of my big plastic milk bottles with the stuff, so at one tiddly dosing-ball a wash, I'm confident it's going to last for ages.
It doesn't change the concrete rice-krispie episode, of course, but it's a start.
I've had a go at making my own liquid soap for washing clothes this week. I noticed that Crystal had a go at it recently, and wasn't bowled over by the results.
Ant is listening to Pilgrims Progress in the car on his way to work in the morning. He's a man who takes his time over things. He mulls things over. He ruminates. He's a good balance to me, prone as I am to tumble ideas around. I recently saw a cross-stitch kit sampler, with the words 'Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder, and your hand over my mouth' and I thought it was an apt reminder to put in my signature on some forums I visit.
When I was veering all over the place after my mum died - frantically scrabbling to find out who I actually was now I had lost everything - he was gentle and persistent with what he knew to be truth. There was one particular juncture where we were considering the claims of both Roman Catholic and Reformed Protestant theology, and I confess, I found it frustrating that he just... thought.
Quite some years later now, and he is quietly, thoroughly and utterly convinced of the doctrines of grace. Once he takes hold of something, he won't be moved. It takes him time to say things, but when he does, the things he says are solid and good. He doesn't really engage with online banter - he has other means of recreation.
But today, he pointed something out to me that I thought was well worth blogging. One of the most memorable characters to him, in Pilgrims Progress, is Mr Talkative. He pointed out to me how interesting it was that the emerging gubbins is called a 'conversation', and how very like Mr Talkative emergent folk behave, when pressed to the important points.
My husband is a very wise man.
The topic of forgiveness has appeared all over the internet in recent days, and it brought to mind something which I've been working through for some months now. I've shared enough of my testimony on this blog and elsewhere for most of my readers to know that I have neither been a Christian all my life, nor a very moral person.
There are things I will share publicly, things I will share privately, and things I have only ever been able to talk about to the Lord. Sometimes, I find myself mildly perturbed by the thought that, once the end of things has come, all my sins will be laid bare before others. God knows them all, and many that I've probably forgotten, but I've struggled with anyone else knowing some of these things, I'm so ashamed of them.
I was talking all this through with Ant the other night, and we came to the conclusion that if my sins were revealed in eternity, it would not matter, and actually, it would be another reason to praise God. But I'm still a little fuzzy on this. What does happen about our sins, and judgement at the end of all things? Am I worried for nothing, and no-one will know because it's all been blotted out anyway?
Despite being utterly exhausted, we managed Sunday School and Church today, which was no small feat. Baked potatoes in the oven meant an easy time when we came home, too, and we've pretty much dozed through the rest of the day - it's been one of those weeks.
We had a visiting preacher today, who spoke from 2 Samuel 6, and it struck me how appropriate it was, given the discussion about what is appropriate in worship. 2 Sam 6 is where Uzzah meets his unfortunate end, and it's also where Michal scorns David as he dances before the ark of the covenant.
As we read it, it occured to me that I have always felt rather sorry for these two characters in scripture. Uzzah was only trying to prevent the ark falling in a ditch, and Michal - oh, poor Michal! - unable to marry the man she wanted to, and then unable to bear children because she thought David made a fool of himself.
But, then, looking at the passage today, as the preacher taught on it, drawing out the lessons in it on worship, things made a little more sense. It also made sense why I would have had sympathy with each of these people - because I am as prone to error as any other sinner.
Uzzah and Michal were two opposite ends of the spectrum, and both of them put too much stock in the world's way of doing and viewing things. When the Ark of the Covenant was put on a brand new cart, it was an idea borrowed from the Philistines. It sounded great on paper - new cart, full band going before it, how could God fail to be impressed?
Except He wasn't. The Lord had already laid down the details of what He required from the Israelites in regard to His holiness, and a cart, be it brand-spanking new, or old and extremely venerated, was not in amongst them. The consequences of a cavalier attitude to the Holiness of God are very serious - and in that instance included Uzzah being made very, very dead.
God doesn't appear to be executing people in churches that have borrowed wholesale from the world, but is there actually spiritual life there to begin with? When there is little regard for what God Himself has said, and more concern with techniques and programs, it's at least a matter of deep concern. It's not like there isn't ample instruction in scripture about the day to day functioning life of His body.
Ok, so we're looking to scripture, and we've got it all buttoned up. We know what to expect, and we've been doing it for many decades. Then, in comes some scruffy, unchurched urchin, seeing his need of a saviour. It's lovely that he's been saved, but does he have to be so enthusiastic? He bellows out the hymns, pays no attention to the harmonies, and always comes in 20 seconds too early and holds the last note 20 seconds too long. It's a bit embarrassing.
So says Michal. But Michal is wrong, because, as the text repeatedly informs us, she's Saul's daughter. Following after her father, her sarcasm is sharp as a pin, but she doesn't burst David's bubble. He will worship the Lord exuberantly, secure now that he is following the Lord's instructions. It may not be dignified, and in fact the whole point is that it is humbling, but the scorn of the world is an irrelevance to the worship of the Most High God.
We worship in Spirit and in truth, and we mustn't concern ourselves with the world's advice or it's censure when it comes to the worship of God. We have the Holy Spirit, and we have the Scriptures - let us be wise and and follow neither Uzzah or Michal into error.
Note: Please read David Reimer's comments in the thread - they're very interesting and add another viewpoint to the passage, which I found very worthwhile.
I've only just noticed something about 'modern worship' styles, and it crystalized something that has been troubling me for some time. Now, I like hymns. I make no secret of the fact that in church, I think that one hymn is worth three or four choruses (and lets face it, you never have just the one).
However, this does not mean I only see worth in music that is at least 150 years old. I enjoy Caedmons Call, Sara Groves, St Matt of Redman, and I even like a song by Suzy Wills Yaraei called 'Song of the Martyrs' and she's mad as a box of frogs.
There are still modern worship songs that I think are very worthwhile but I am extraordinarily uncomfortable in a modern worship setting.
I began to realize why when I read this post by Jonathan Hunt, in which he reviews the Cheltenham Bible Festival. He expresses discomfort with the style that has worship music as a 'performance', with the congregation like an audience at a rock concert.
It wasn't until I noticed, a few days ago, that the label of 'worship leader' appears to have changed to 'lead worshipper', that all the little strands of thought came together.
I can see the good intentions behind 'Worship Leader' becoming 'Lead Worshipper'. It removes any sense of separation between the congregation and the musicians, and acknowledges that all are supposed to be worshipping, and worshipping the Lord.
However, it is a bit like changing the label on a jar of peanut butter to a jam label. It doesn't actually change what's in the jar. You can call a man a 'lead worshipper', but if he's still standing on a stage in front of an 'audience', then there is still far too much attention directed to him.
It's different from preaching, in which it is helpful to see the preacher, because that's part of communication. But someone who is supposed to help us hold a tune, the same way a pianist or an organist does, should get out of the way.
The chances of me voting Liberal Democrat are slim to non-existent. However, I take an interest in politics when I can, and so I watched the Ten O'clock BBC news to find out what the Lib Dems have been proposing policy-wise and so on, at their annual conference.
However, the BBC report was exactly the same as the BBC report I'd seen a few days earlier. Essentially it was 'Ming Campbell is an old man. He's got grey hair and he's old. There are people younger than Ming Campbell. How can he really be a leader, when he's so old?'
I found it frustrating the other day, and I found it rather offensive this time. I absolutely detest this moronic assumption that the elderly are irrelevant and incapable of leadership.
I would not vote for Ming Campbell, because I am not a fan of Liberal Democrat policies. But it would never, ever be because he is a man of advanced years and possessing the wisdom of experience. And anyone for whom that would be a reason is really rather silly.
...when there's a fossilized rice-krispie welded to the wood. I actually had to chip it off with a sturdy butter knife and a heavy book...
I shall hand back my perfect housewife badge forthwith.
I saw a little of a Tridentine Latin mass today, and the homily made me quite dejected. The priest explained that the eastern church had a screen to hide the mysteries from the people, and in the west the 'special language' of Latin was a symbol of the necessary curtain between the Holy God and the sinful people.
Now, of course, I don't actually believe in transubstantiation, so it's sort of academic to me whether or not the people see the main part of the mass. But what made me sad was that there would be any thought of replacing barriers that God himself had torn down.
I suppose that, ultimately, this is why I never did become Roman Catholic or Orthodox. Although humanly speaking, sacramentalism is very attractive (and even more personally, the idea of a heavenly mother is comforting to someone who no longer has an earthly one), I came to understand that all it did was put distance between God and myself.
Now, God forbid that I should presume on His goodness and approach with any sense of my own worthiness. But when He Himself has told me to come boldly to His throne, through Jesus Christ, and no other way, it is not humility to cower away from Him, or go by means of another, be it priest, long dead saint or anything physical - it is disobedience.
I don't say these things as an attack on my Catholic readers, and I'm sure you would see things very differently. It just made me very, very sad to think that people would willingly put themselves at a distance from such a gracious God.
I read this today, and it was helpful as I'm still pondering this whole forgiveness idea. Now, let me be very clear. I do not think that the scripture teaches that we should forgive freely because it will be better for us psychologically.
Undoubtedly, we are designed so that when we are following God's ways, it sits well with our consciences, but this is not the primary reason we are given for forgiving freely.
So when I talk of my struggles to forgive people, it is not because I am seeking some internal balance or anything like that. It's that I truly believe I am in sin when I remain angry towards those who have sinned against me. Have I misunderstood? Am I actually allowed to remain cross with someone who has sinned against me and not repented? I'm not really convinced that's correct. Is it perhaps that I should continue to pray for their repentance and forgiveness from God? Maybe that is the case, given that David knew that when we sin, we sin against God primarily.
I was highly amused to see David Cameron responding to the latest foot-and-mouth outbreak on the news yesterday. Not because it is a funny topic. Not even because he said anything amusing. In fact, I didn't register a word he said, as I was distracted by what appeared to be an A4 sized framed picture of himself on the desk behind him. I wonder if he stands in front of the mirror practising Prime Ministers questions, too.
Poor Britney Spears and her reportedly shambolic performance on the MTV awards. There are pictures everywhere of the young woman, wearing bra and knickers. The criticism is telling. Although she was sluggish and miming her song badly, the main point of discussion is the fact that she is 'out of shape', by which most critics appeared to mean 'overweight'. Much was made of a supposed paunch.
Britney seems to offer herself up to this sort of unpleasant body-judgement. It's the most superficial, impossible nonsense, of course. And it's quite surreal when the main criticism of a troubled single mother is that she doesn't look like an emaciated seventeen year old when she gyrates in public wearing her underwear.
Miss Spears is clearly not over-weight. As a mother of two, she actually looks quite healthy. It's easy to see why the hyper-skinny entertainment industry women feel it necessary to err on the lettuce and rice-cracker side of body image. Not that they escape the hypocritical censure of the body-police, of course - for being too thin in their case.
But it just strikes me as the worst of a topsy-turvy worldview that a gratuitous display is criticized for not being titillating enough, and when a disturbed young woman is pilloried for being normal-sized, not for showing up in public in her smalls. Please, parents, don't let your kids imbibe this stuff, it's poison.
I've been thinking that I allow myself to get away with far too much unforgiveness. There have been a number of jolly good candidates for a juicy grudge in my life so far, and I have frequently let forgiveness be something 'on the to-do list'. I've thought; I'll get round to it.
When I'm feeling especially magnanimous, I'll say words which sound like forgiveness but my heart will be far from them. And I will console myself with the idea that as long as my general intention is towards forgiving them, that's enough for now.
After a time, the hurt will be less hot, and they may well pass into my 'indifference' file. But too often - far too often, I let them rest there. If there should be an occasion when they are brought to my remembrance, I will catch myself justifying saying mean-spirited things about them, recalling the injuries they had done me and others.
I will ponder their faults, consider myself lucky they didn't do worse, and, perhaps in a moment of supreme condescension, I'll be sad for them to have to go through life with such glaring inadequacies.
That's not forgiveness, and it skirts perilously close to self-righteousness, too. (Skirts? It fairly burrows into the petticoats of self-righteousness, I should say!)
Forgiveness is a determined effort to fully and freely forgive my enemy, and get to the place where I actually wish good things upon them, in all genuine sincerity.
That's why Jesus Christ used the parable of the unforgiving servant to help us to understand what forgiveness truly is. Because we have to learn to forgive as God Himself forgives. If I honestly believe that I have to work harder to forgive those who have wronged me than God had to work to forgive me, I have a rather inflated view of my own importance, and my own grievances.
How does God forgive me? Well, before I even knew what I was, He died a cruel and undeserved death, taking all the sins I have and will ever commit onto Himself. He then took the merit of His perfect, sinless life, and gave it to me. He didn't just die on the cross and begrudgingly put me in His indifference file. He died, and rose again, and gifted me with the lavish, extravagant gift of His righteousness, because of His love.
Forgiveness - Christian forgiveness - isn't just being able to tolerate my enemy. It is deliberately going to the painful place of the cross, leaving the sin there and replacing it with grace. It is hard, and sometimes can be a battle. But when I know how I have been forgiven, how can I dare not to give my own forgiveness freely?
I found this today while perusing my stats.
It says "On balance, we believe this is not a UK blog."
I'm rather amused by that. It's not like I am all incognito and mysterious. Not quite sure why it is they believe this isn't a UK blog. I'm not sure what I could possibly do to make it more English, lol.
This is an interesting article on a self-defined feminist's distaste for what abortion has 'become'. As I read it, it seemed a very good illustration of the paucity of logic in the pro-abortion camp.
Most people, when faced with pictures of children in the womb, find themselves unable to use the old standby 'clump of cells' argument. Humanity looks at them and dares them to dismiss and most cannot do so. There are a few unpleasant die-hards who insist that, even though it looks like a baby sucking its thumb, or playing with its toes, that is simply an illusion and the child isn't genuinely human at all, yet.
But the conscience is a powerful thing, and it forces people to be honest with themselves. Note how the author is very keen to show that she has the necessary feminist credentials. She rubbishes those who take a principled stand against all unborn-child murder, calling them zealots. She takes time to explain how 'noble' the introduction of legal abortion was meant to be.
But this is all so that she can express the understandable horror she feels at a situation where literally millions of children are killed each year, just because of 'free choice'
Now, of course, she doesn't actually have a leg to stand on. If it's right to kill a child for one reason, why is it not ok to do it for another? Once you've admitted that killing your children is an acceptable thing, you've given away the point and the argument is reduced to 'taste' ideas about when you find it most acceptable to do it.
She includes much information about the risks women ran in the days before legal 'therapeutic' abortion. I've never quite understood it myself. Women were killing their children, and often when they did that, they ran the risk of dying themselves from infections and other nasty consequences.
Since when was it remotely logical to see someone putting themselves at risk by doing something illegal, and to resolve the problem by just making what they did legal?
Bank robbery isn't legal, and often, when people rob banks, they use guns and people could be injured or even killed. Shall we legalize robbing banks so that people will be able to do it 'safely'? Madness.
The only thing that will halt the tide of casual child-murder, is to call it what it is and amend the law to reflect that. Squeamish prissiness and hand-wringing will make the hand-wringer feel noble, but it will do nothing to change things.
I had the pleasure of seeing a little more of a Terry Virgo talk yesterday. He is lovely and very enthusiastic about genuine grace (not the jellybean version).
But he did something that I find interesting about those who believe in ongoing prophecy. He mentioned that there had been prophecies during the first part of the meeting which had said something along the lines of 'this generation is key' and such like.
I can make no comment on the 'prophecies' themselves, I did not hear them. But, time and again, I've heard this kind of idea promoted among charismatic believers, from the wackier end of the monkey puzzle tree, all the way to the very sensible (and Terry Virgo is mostly sensible).
I certainly heard it when I was part of a charismatic church. It strikes me as the most ridiculous pride. Why does the Holy Spirit never inspire prophecy that says "You are in a season of being faithful, and should not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, or believe that you are the most important generation in history".
No, all the prophecies tell us how special and distinctive we are, and that 'God is doing a new thing' and we can be part of that. It's a very human thing to want our lives to count for something, and to feel that we have made a difference to the world in the service of God, and not neccessarily misguided.
I still get a newsletter in my inbox from a Charismatic group and each time, they say the same things about God doing a new thing, 'for such a time as this' and so on. I understand the enthusiasm that this sort of approach generates, but in reality, it just seems like smoke and mirrors - humans wanting to be part of something big and exciting, the desire to say 'I was there!'.
It just feels antithetical to humility, perseverance and a proper reliance on the Holy Spirit. Yes, we have the enormous privelege of being part of the Lord's plans. But we have not been hand-picked above all the other faithful servants of God who have gone before us. Our call is to be faithful to the things that God has called us to - even if we never see a revival.
We should pray faithfully, and we should have an expectant, believing heart that knows that the Lord answers prayers, but we really shouldn't believe that it's all down to us and our prayers and 'position'. Proclaiming that we are the special chosen ones is at best wishful thinking, and at worst a recipe for all kinds of doctrinal madness.
I have been chosen before the world began - and so has every other Christian who has ever walked the earth. Every single one of us has our days marked out for us by the Lord. It is none of my business whether I am born into a time of famine or plenty. He does a new thing everytime a human being becomes a child of God, and He blesses us with being His sons, proclaiming His gospel and welcoming in His growing family. If that is not enough for you, I think you need to ask yourself why.
There are only 113 days left to Christmas! You still have plenty of time. I am pretty much nearly done with the preliminary organization. I've done my present list and purchased most of the un-consumable ones, the card list is taking shape, and I'm doing a combination of handmade-by-the-girls and christian charity cards. I've started experimenting with some new Mince pie recipes, and yes, this afternoon we had a mince pie with a cup of tea (I wasn't happy with the shortcrust, to be honest, it needs work).
I am well known by most of my friends to be a big fan of Christmas. Some of it is an outworking of my interest in Victoriana. My two favourite periods of history are the Victorian era and the 1930's. The traditional Christmas was a fairly big deal in both those eras in one form or another.
But there is obviously, a bigger reason for me, as a Christian believer. There are many things in scripture that thrill me, but one of my very favourite passages is Luke 2:8-20.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
I don't know about you, but I think that is one exciting story. The Shepherds were part of the lowliest class in biblical times. They were mistrusted for all sorts of reasons. The kind of people you'd feel a bit nervous around if you were respectable. Perhaps like travelling gypsies are mistrusted in our society.
And angels appeared to them to announce that the Most High God had been born a man. Angels. The glory of the Lord. Appearing to scum. Isn't that great?!
And what does the angel of the Lord say, exactly? The 'hoodies' of the day are told that the Most High God has come for them. And not in judgement, but as a Saviour.
But my very most favourite bit? The angel says that the sign to them that the Most High, Almighty, perfectly Holy God has come to them, is that they will find a little baby wrapped in a bit of cloth and lying in an animals trough.
That's the most awe-inspiring message that Christianity gives to the world, and what sets it apart from all the other systems we've devised for ourselves to be 'good enough', be it through religion or mens approval.
God is born in poverty, and the only people who know about it are the people who will listen to the unlikely stories of those who are considered scum. God comes down to the lowest of the low and gives them everything they need to believe and be saved.
Yes, I'm a bit of a loon for being so mad about Christmas. I listen to Christmas carols every month of the year, but I listen to Easter hymns at Christmas, too. There is nothing on earth that excites me more than this message of astonishing redemption. You can put it off if you want to, and keep the Advent of the Holy One for a once a year feast if you will. But I know I'm scum with the Shepherds, and I know He has come to me, and I can't possibly keep from singing "Gloria, in excelsis Deo!"