Friday, May 30, 2008

Low-Cost Tips on Organization

I am one of those people who love to find new ways to make my home more organized. The June issue of Real Simple featured a great article called, “99 Low-Cost Organizing Ideas.” The article contained some great tips, and you can view them here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Theology of Beauty, Part II

We spent most of the Memorial Day weekend working outside. In many ways, we’ve done a good job improving our rental property. We have planted five trees, several shrubs, and some flowers. We also started a vegetable garden. However, we have not done a good job taking care of our grass. In fact, it looks really horrible. And the southern heat is really hot. I was convicted by this passage from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer:

“A Christian individual or organization should not move into a property and turn it into shambles. The opposite should be true. It should grow and blossom into a place of beauty, demonstrating something of the wonder of the One who made plant life to produce seeds in the first place. Christians should have more beautiful gardens, should be more careful to build without cutting down the lovely trees, should be more sensitive about keeping the brook unspoiled as it bubbles through their lands…it seems to be that the beauty which causes strangers to stop and enjoy a garden provides a background and already ‘says something’ which gives an emphasis to what is important to say” (page 88).

So this weekend we decided we better start watering our grass.

Click here to read Part I.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Liturgy: Our Teacher and Helper

I am new to the liturgy thing, but I am drawn to it. There has been a buzz lately about the increasing number of people who find liturgy appealing. A variety of magazines have reported on the rise of liturgy, ranging from Christianity Today to US News and World Report. I am not sure whether or not their claim is true, but nonetheless, I find myself wondering, what are the benefits of liturgy? Two things come to mind:

First, the liturgy is our teacher. It teaches how we ought to respond to the Lord in worship. More specifically, it teaches us what we ought to say. When a Scripture passage is read, the congregation says, “Thanks be to God!” Thus, the liturgy teaches us how we ought to respond to the Word of God; namely, that our response ought to be thanksgiving. Perhaps the passage being read was a harsh passage about God’s wrath. We might want to respond by saying, “That is too harsh” or “This isn’t for me.” Instead, the liturgy teaches us to say, “Thanks be to God!”

Similarly, the liturgy is our helper. Sometimes our impromptu words don’t do justice to what we want to say. Sometimes there is more to pray than what we can think of on the spot. That is when the liturgy comes to our aid. It helps us by giving us words when we would otherwise be at a loss for words.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Theology of Beauty

Christian homes should be dramatic expressions of the gospel message, and they should teach people about God. My favorite book on the subject of reflecting the Lord’s character within our homes is The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer, the wife of Francis Schaeffer. This book is no longer in print, but you can find it used, and I highly recommend it. Edith writes:

"A Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively. We are supposed to be representing the Creator who is there, and who we acknowledge to be there. It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator. If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation" (The Hidden Art of Homemaking, page 32).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Food for Thought from Lauren Winner

I heard Lauren Winner say, “The world should recognize that we are Christians because we and our children are not over-scheduled.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Eugene Peterson and Quiet Living

I enjoyed an article about Eugene Peterson entitled, “A Patient Peterson” by Susan Olasky (World, vol. 23, no. 9, 2008). (It is available online here, but you have to register to see the entire text.)

Peterson and his wife Jan seek to live patiently, quietly, and deliberately. “We like quite, we like rhythm,” the article quotes Peterson. He says that the rituals of daily life “give a quality of sacredness to it.”

The article describes Peterson’s daily routine. His weekdays begin around 5:00 in the morning when he makes coffee for himself and his wife. They spend the next hour and half by themselves, privately reading Scripture and praying. At 7:30, Peterson takes a morning walk, and then he joins his wife for breakfast. He spends the mornings writing, and they always spend afternoons outside—they snow ski, kayak, or canoe. In the evening, they prepare dinner together and read to each other.

Although most people who work or have children cannot entirely emulate the patterns of the Petersons’ lifestyle, the point of the article is clear. One does not need to be retired to combat the busyness of American life. We all can do things to resist the allure of our high-speed culture. Perhaps by turning off the T.V., checking our email less often, or going for a walk, we will begin to experience the peaceful rhythms of life that our hectic schedules tend to suppress.


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