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Friday’s Fave Five

FFF spring2It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It actually started out as a frustrating week, with a medical appointment where they couldn’t do what was scheduled (which they could have forewarned me about with a simple phone call! Argh!), so I felt like that whole morning was wasted. Then the rest of the week I’ve just been kind of tired and not as productive as I wanted to be. But – hopefully next week will be better! Here are some good parts of the week:

1. Baby smiles, giggles, and vocalizing. I meant to mention a couple of weeks ago that I received my first full-fledged, on-purpose smile from Timothy. ♥ He’s also started laughing a bit, and Jason sent a video of him “talking,” making sounds in response to what Jason was saying to him. So cute!

2. These little dealies:

plug

Silicon plugs for the iPhone. Some of you may remember I had to get a new phone recently (thankfully it was a week or two before its warranty ran out)  because it was so full of dust it wouldn’t recharge, even after trying to clean it out. I must have especially linty pockets – sometimes my phone is just covered in white dust when I take it from my pocket. These were only a couple of dollars but took a long while to arrive. But they work well and hopefully will prevent future dust problems with my phone.

3. Find my Friends app on the iPhone. It allows you to see where your friends are – with their approval, of course. We just use it with immediate family, but it’s useful in seeing when Jim is heading home from work without having to text him to ask or when the kids have left home when we’re planning to have them over or meet somewhere. My husband doesn’t have the kind of job where he can clock out on the dot the same time every evening, so it helps with dinner preparations to have some idea when to expect him.

4. Chick-Fil-A day for our pastor. The Chick-Fil-A in the town where our church is held a day in our pastor’s name where portions of proceeds from collected receipts for the day went toward our pastor, who is battling pancreatic cancer. He’s such a regular customer there, our assistant pastor said they joke that it is his second office, and all of his daughters have worked there. I thought it was so neat of them to do that. We didn’t go because the distance was a little much for lunch, and we gave through another venue, but I enjoyed seeing tweets and Facebook statuses and photos of our church folks there through the day. Can’t wait to hear what the results were!

5. Coca-cola cake from Cracker Barrel. I passed by there while out the other day and indulged in a piece to take home. So good.

Bonus: An excellent book that impacts and stays with me for days. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity was that book for me, just finished this week.

Happy Friday!

SeekingIn Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity Nabeel Qureshi first gives a window into a loving and devout Muslim home, with all its practices, disciplines, and teachings, as well as a peek into the perspective of growing up Muslim in a non-Muslim culture.  Wanting to be a faithful representative of Islam, having been taught critical thinking in school and having a mind geared for it, he often turned the arguments of some of his Christian classmates on their heads, bringing up aspects they had not thought about before and were not ready to defend.

In college God brought to him “an intelligent, uncompromising, Non-Muslim friend who would be willing to challenge” him, someone who was “bold and stubborn enough” to deal with him but also someone he could trust “enough to dialogue…about the things that mattered to [him] the most.” Nabeel and his friend, David, were both on the forensics team and knew how to get to the heart of an argument and draw out and refute key points. For the most part they did this with each other’s worldviews good-naturedly, but when a given topic became too heated, they’d table it for a while. Muslims particularly have trouble with the reliability of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and the connection between Christ’s death on the cross and how it atoned for others’ sins. For three years Nabeel studied the Bible and its claims and others’ claims about it, fully confident that he’d be able to disprove those claims, and then to study the history of Mohamed and the claims of the Quran, fully confident that Islam would be justified. Though he was obviously biased toward the Quran, he really wanted to know the truth. He discovered the Bible’s claims were justified and Islam’s to be on shaky ground.

For some time he resisted acting on this knowledge. Being a Muslim was a matter of identity as well as religion: his whole life, everything he had always believed, his relationship with his family and community, everything would be turned upside down if he became a Christian. Yet he could not continue on, knowing what he now knew. In one of the most beautiful and touching passages in the book, he was seeking time to mourn before making the decision he knew he had to, and he opened the Bible for guidance this time, not simply to look for information to refute. He came to Matthew 5:4, 6:

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Nabeel writes further:

There are costs Muslims must calculate when considering the gospel: losing the relationships they have built in this life, potentially losing this life, and if they are wrong, losing their afterlife. It is no understatement to say that Muslims often risk everything to embrace the cross.

But then again, it is the cross. There is a reason Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).

Would it be worth it to pick up my cross and be crucified next to Jesus? If He is not God, then, no. Lose everything I love to worship a false God? A million times over, no!

But if He is God, then yes. Being forever bonded to my Lord by suffering alongside Him? A million times over, yes!

All suffering is worth it to follow Jesus. He is that amazing.

I feel I must comment on one aspect of the story that I questioned at first and I am sure other readers might as well: When Nabeel mentioned early on being “called to Jesus through visions and dreams,” I admit I inwardly winced and wondered what kind of story I’d be reading. For reasons too long to go into here, I am of those who believe that once God gave us His completed Word in writing, then dreams, visions, tongues, and the like fell away as unneeded.  The few modern instances I have ever heard or read of that seemed most in line with Bible truth were in cultures which didn’t have the Bible, often didn’t have a written language at all. Another problem with relying on dreams Nabeel discovered himself: one questions what it really means (his Muslim mother and Christian friend had completely opposite interpretations for what Nabeel’s dreams meant), wonders how much was due to wishful thinking, asks “Could I really hinge my life and eternal destiny on a dream?” etc. If that’s all he had to go on to become a believer, I would question what he was really trusting, but these dreams came after years of intense searching and study. In an appendix by Josh McDowell on this topic, he states, “Dreams and visions do not convert people; the gospel does,” but he explains, “In many Muslim cultures, dreams and visions play a strong role in people’s lives. Muslims rarely have access to the scriptures or interactions with Christian missionaries.” As in Nabeel’s case, “the dreams lead them to the scriptures and to believers who can share Jesus with them. It is the gospel through the Holy Spirit that converts people.”

One of many passages that stood out to me was in the chapter “Muslims in the West,” which described how Muslims view the West and Christians and, because they think both have corrupting influences and Westerners they are against Islam, they tend to keep to themselves. “On the rare occasion that someone does invite a Muslim to his or her home, differences in culture and hospitality may make the Muslim feel uncomfortable, and the host must be willing to ask, learn, and adapt to overcome this. There are simply too many  barriers for Muslim immigrants to understand Christians and the West by sheer circumstance. Only the exceptional blend of love, humility, hospitality, and persistence can overcome these barriers, and not enough people make the effort.”

There are multiple good aspects of this book: the window into another culture and mindset and the understanding of the difficulties a Muslim would have in coming to Christianity; the example of David and other friends who shared truth kindly and politely rather than belligerently or condescendingly, who genuinely cared about Nabeel as a friend rather than a “project”; the  wealth of information Nabeel found and shared from his studies which give a valuable apologetic (supplemented by several appendices>); and the touching yet agonizing conversion of a soul truly hungering and thirsting after the one true God.

This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)

 What's On Your NightstandThe folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

Hard to believe we’re 2/3 through the year already and summer will be over before the next Nightstand. I’m glad to spend some of the passing time with good books.

Since last time I have completed:

Just Jane: A Novel of Jane Austen’s Life by Nancy Moser, reviewed here. Didn’t like this as much as I thought I would, but it is an interesting peek into her life.

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay, reviewed here. Loved this!

On Stories and Other Essays on Literature by C. S. Lewis, reviewed here. Some excellent observations.

Gospel Meditations for the Hurting by Chris Anderson and Joe Tyrpak. Didn’t review this as it is just a 31-day devotional. The tone is not what I’d call warm and fuzzy, but the Biblical truths are right on target and helpful.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, audiobook, reviewed here.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, audiobook, reviewed here.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, audiobook. This was a re-listen as I read it in 2008 and listened to the audiobook in 2013. My previous review is here.

I’m currently reading:

Undetected by Dee Henderson. Loving it.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi. Excellent.

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen. Enjoyed the first part – not enjoying the middle so much. We’ll see how it ends up.

Next up:

Why We Are Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung, Ted Kluck, and David F. Wells. This will finish my TBR Challenge list. I need to get it read and off my every Nightstand TBR section, but I wanted to take a break from my reading challenges with some fiction.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald for Carrie’s  Reading to Know Classics Book Club. I have been wanting to try MacDonald for some time and this book in particular.

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good, NEWEST book by Jan Karon! Can’t wait! It’s supposed to come out in early September and I have pre-ordered it.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis

In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin

I’ve got some good reading to look forward to! How about you?

Laudable Linkage

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to share links to posts I found interesting, so this will be a bit longer than usual, but I hope you find something here of interest:

Wonderful Hope by Bobbi’s dad, who is facing a terminal diagnosis at the same time his wife is undergoing cancer treatments.

Advice On Seeking Answers to Spiritual Issues.

Becoming Christ-Like: The Goal of the Christian’s Life? There is a subtle but important point here that resonated with me.

God Does Not View Your Labors as Filthy Rags. We have this tendency to take one verse and run away with it.

Are Christian Missionaries Narcissistic Idiots? No. Here’s why.

The Risk of Practical Love.

The girltalk blog has had a series on training your children in dealing with their emotions. 7 Reminders When Talking to Your Teen About Emotions and Helping Children Handle Their Emotions were two that stood out to me.

Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt.

12 Strategies for Singles and Hospitality. The tips are good whether you’re single or married.

Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Flawed. Courtship vs. dating is a hot button debate and I am a bit hesitant to just post the link without discussing it further. I may come back and do so at some point. I may not agree with every little thing but overall he made some excellent points. I did read the book in question before my kids got to that age and pulled some principles from it but did not follow it exactly. We did feel dating – at a certain age and under certain guidelines – was a good way to get to know someone before taking the relationship further but we did want to avoid continued serious relationships and breakups one after another: we didn’t feel the latter was good emotionally nor good training for marriage.

Why Prison Isn’t Restful. We need to be careful about throwaway quips on topics we really know nothing about.

For the Quiet Child (And For Their Parents)…You Can Stop Apologizing For Who You Are.

Ten Things Your Husband Hates.

5 Myths You Might Still Believe About the Puritans.

On Writing Negative Reviews. Good reasons to do so when necessary.

Have a good weekend!

 

Friday’s Fave Five

FFF spring2It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

I was so sorry to miss last week. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my oldest son was visiting all week from out of town and my husband took the week off as well. Mittu’s mother was also visiting and Jesse’s girlfriend came on a couple of excursions. We did a lot of visiting, went on a few outings, and celebrated Jeremy’s birthday, and there just wasn’t time to get to the computer much last week. Even this week I seem to be in recuperate/catch-up mode and haven’t been online as much as I usually am. I have a bunch of posts in me Feedly to catch up on!

With all of that, the past couple of weeks have been full of many faves: this is one of those weeks that will be hard to narrow down to five! But here goes:

1. Time with family. I had thought that with our being tied down to a certain extent with Great-Grandma and Jason and Mittu being limited with how much they could take Timothy out (as a preemie he has still had more of a vulnerability to infections even though he’s older and bigger now. They’re just now starting to be able to take him out to places that aren’t too crowded) that this might be something of a boring visit for Jeremy, but we managed to get a number of activities in. Besides talking and visiting a lot (the best part!) we rented a movie (The Lego Movie), had lunch at Jason and Mittu’s one day, had a picnic at a nature center, some went kayaking one afternoon, and we visited the farmer’s market and unwittingly stepped into a history fair complete with people dressed up in Civil War era regalia, then ate at a downtown pizza place. We enjoyed celebrating Jeremy’s birthday and seeing him meet Timothy for the first time.

Jeremy and Timothyjpg

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Thankfully we were able to manage caregivers for Great-grandma for the couple of times we wanted to do something after the usual times we have someone in for her. There were a lot of firsts for Timothy but he did well even with two doctors visits and his four month shots in the mix.

2. My birthday was yesterday. My family always makes it a special day. We went out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants (which my husband doesn’t like, but agreed to go to for my sake. I only ask to go on my birthday. :) ), Jim and Jason and Mittu gave me flowers, we got to Face Time with Jeremy, and everyone was thoughtful and generous with gifts.

photo(6)And triple chocolate cake was a bonus, too! :)

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3. Frozen yogurt. We stopped at a frozen yogurt place after the picnic. I’m lactose intolerant, and the only one I had been to before had a couple of dairy free options. This one didn’t, but I decided to try it anyway with a few Lactaid tablets. I had chocolate and peanut butter, and it was so good, with no negative effects.

4. A finished project – a new sewing machine cover.

photo 25. Lots of time doing this with this sweetie.

photo(5)There – I think I more or less covered everything! :)

Happy Friday!

 

HolmesI’ve been going through the Sherlock Holmes books by publication date, but I was tempted to skip The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, which is another collection of short stories, and go on ahead to The Hounds of the Baskervilles, which I really wanted to get to. Then I remembered that Memoirs was the book where Holmes’ nemesis, Professor Moriarty, was introduced and where (slight spoiler here though it is well known and the title suggests it) the author seems to have killed off Holmes. According to Wikipedia he did so in order to spend more time on historical novels, but public pressure was evidently enough for him to bring Holmes back in a later book, saying that he had faked his death.

So I embarked on this collection of stories and was delighted to find that in addition to the above, this set introduced Holmes’ brother Mycroft (portrayed as smarter than Holmes but less energetic), shows Holmes as completely depleted physically due to one case, and shared one case where he totally missed the mark. Of the last, he told Watson, “If it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper ‘Norbury’ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.” Holmes also shared with Watson the case that got him started investigating crime (I had wondered, with Watson, how a mind such as Holmes’ had gotten started on this particular career path.)

Holmes’ statement about having only one friend in college seems to conform his introversion: “I was never a very sociable fellow, Watson, always rather fond of moping in my rooms and working out my own little methods of thought, so that I never mixed much with the men of my year. Bar fencing and boxing I had few athletic tastes, and then my line of study was quite distinct from that of the other fellows, so that we had no points of contact at all.”

There is a story titled “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” which was originally published in the American version of this book but later removed because two characters in it were adulterous. It was not in the version I listened to.

Overall I enjoyed this collection of stories. Doyle continued to avoid a formulaic approach, with each story and case showcasing Holmes’ skills without becoming repetitive. One of the best of any of his stories that I have read so far is “The Final Problem,” the last story in the book which introduces Moriarty and deals with Holmes’ apparent death. There is an intensity about it that is different from the others. I thought at first perhaps that was just my impression because I knew what the end would be, but then I read this is one of Doyle’s favorite stories as well.

I listened to the audiobook read by Simon Prebble. I had avoided his narrations up until now because I am used to his voice in the Jeeves books by P. D. Wodehouse, which are a completely different tone and feel than Holmes’ stories. But he adapted to the tone very well and soon I had completely forgotten that this was also the voice in my head for Jeeves and Wooster.

(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)

 

Whew! I don’t think I have ever been away from the blog this long before. My oldest son, Jeremy, was here all last week and my husband was off as well. Jason and Mittu and Timothy came over a number of times as well as Mittu’s mother, who was also in town visiting for a few days. Jesse’s girlfriend also came over a couple of times to meet the rest of the family. Between visiting, a few outings, keeping up with groceries and cooking, and then after everyone left recuperating, catching up on laundry, running errands, and more grocery shopping – well, you can see why I haven’t been around much lately. :) It was a wonderful time, though – I’ll probably say more about it on my weekly Friday’s Fave Five.

My sewing/craft room doubles as a guest room. Jeremy would be staying there this visit, and though the room has been a continual work in progress ever since we lived here, I pretty much have it about like I want it with just a couple more touches to finish. One project I’ve been wanting to get to for some months was to make a new cover for my sewing machine. My old one was red (which I don’t care for or use in my decorating any more), Holly Hobbie (which I got over a long time ago), and looked like something had been spilled on it. It was about 30 years old, so I felt a new one was overdue.

Old Sewing Machine Cover

Old Sewing Machine Cover

I’ve been looking up ideas online for some time and gathered them into a Pinterest board for Sewing Machine Covers. Deciding what to do is the hardest, usually longest part of any project for me. This one was my main inspiration, but I didn’t want to do it exactly like that (and I couldn’t get to the original post about it – all I had was the photo).

I finally came up with a plan and got it in my head that I wanted to get it done before Jeremy came – not that he would notice or care about it, but you know how someone coming over is the impetus to get some things done. I didn’t get it completely finished before he got here, but it was far enough along that I could toss it over the sewing machine. I just finished it, or as much as I am going to do with it for now, this morning.

I knew I wanted a sewing machine on front, and this mug rug gave me the idea to add some sewing accessories. I was going to try to just wing it drawing the shapes I wanted, and then decided that the couple of dollars for that pattern as well as this one for the sewing machine would be money well spent. I enlarged the sewing machine pattern by 150% on my printer, but the other pieces are the same size as the pattern except that I cut the pincushion down a bit.

I had never appliqued before, except for one vague memory of an attempt at trying to use the satin stitch on my machine and having thread pile up in a lump at the beginning. So I don’t know why I decided to try to do that on a project like this that needed so much of it, and on a deadline. Glutton for punishment, I guess. :) I did use Wonder Under to fuse the pieces on, but needed to cover the outside edges in stitching so they wouldn’t ravel. Much of the satin stitch actually came out looking like a zigzag stitch. You do have to help guide/push the fabric through while sewing, and it’s hard to get a feel for how much to do that without the stitches spacing too far apart. That really bugged me until one of the patterns I was looking at this morning said a zigzag stitch could be used – so I can just pretend I meant it to be that way. :) It wasn’t until the last item I stitched that it began to look more like a satin/applique stitch.

Anyway – here it is:

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I was going to put a ruffle at the bottom out of the same fabric that I used for the sewing machine applique – but I didn’t leave myself enough room. That is one of my favorite fabrics – it’s from a maternity dress I made during my first pregnancy. :) You can’t really find those shades of pink and blue together on fabric much these days.

I used a fabric that was already quilted for the base because I didn’t want to have to deal with quilting the background fabric (sorry Wendy — maybe next time. :) Wendy is an expert at free-motion quilting on the machine and has been encouraging me to try it).

This was the last item I appliqued where it was just starting to look like I knew what I was doing.

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No, I’m not going to show you a close-up of the zig-zaggy ones! :) Though you can see a bit of it to the right of the pin cushion there.

It might’ve helped to use a slightly wider stitch to be more sure of catching the fabric edge, but some of the pieces were so small I didn’t want the outline stitching to take up too much of it. There were a couple of places I strayed off the path a bit, especially with some of the pinks that were lighter and harder to see. At some point it occurred to me that I could use a washable fabric marking pen to outline where I needed to stitch on those hard-to-see places.

I’ve thought about adding some stitching like that in this piece to kind of tie everything together. I may also come back at some point and embroider some pins in the pin cushion. I was originally going to do another design on the back so I could change it around as desired – but I got to a point where I just felt like I needed to get it done. It’s usable now, and I can think about the other touches and add them later if I decide I want to.

It’s not perfect – but I like it, and it is much better than what I had.

Here’s my little sewing corner:

photo 4(1)

No, my desk isn’t usually that clean, and yes, I did clear it off just for the picture. :)

It was nice to get behind the sewing machine again and especially nice to get a project done that has been on my mind for ages.

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