Sunday, May 04, 2014

Could the Bible be my altar...

Sometimes, when I struggle most with how much weaker I am, how little I actually do in a day ... a week ... a month, I go on a tear accomplishing things and wear myself out.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Because I am having to wear my compression stockings all the time, I am finding myself in need of doing more laundry.  The need to wear wool socks, still, is also adding to my laundry needs.  Really, I need to purchase more stockings and more wool socks.  But, Miser Myrtle, doesn't want to spend the money ... and she doesn't actually like that her lower legs are swelling and her feet are turning blue.  However, I was heartened to see the sunshine so that I could hang my laundry out on the line.

Look at that sky!  Look at that GREEN grass!!

Ever since posting the photos of the wood I sealed, I have been smitten by just how dirty my Highlander is.  I think I have admitted that I stopped washing it when even using a self-service car wash was too much for me.  However, I have not budgeted for car washes, nor do I really want to do so ... even at my rather slow rate of one car wash a year.  So, I tried to wash it myself.

I did.
But I fainted four times.
And I am still in agony ... my muscles, that is.

I think my vehicle actually grew larger as I was washing it.  Next spring, I will definitely have to find the most economical non-manual car wash in the city.  That ... or ... maybe try washing the car in a torrential down pour!

After a nap, I tacked the maple seedlings taking root in the fern bed.  I removed 207 of them.  However, I know that if I were to go out and look right now, more will have appeared.  My front yard is full of miniature maple trees.  I am really taken aback at this maple tree infestation and do not know what to do about it.  However, I am ever so grateful that at least 15 ferns have survived the brutal winter and the gutter pipe extension project.  The center of the bed is empty, and so I fear I might be tempted to actually purchase some ferns to fill that spot.  I have wanted to create my own fern bed by what I found and then cultivated in my yard.  However, I am starting to worry that I won't be around by the time the bed is as full as I would wish ... ferns from end-to-end and side-to-side and overflowing in abundance!

Such pressure to put on such a tiny frond, eh?  Only two of the 15 ferns are more than mere midgets at this point.

I also did most of my part of a barter:  cooking labor for cleaning labor.  Whilst I spent as much time cooking and cleaning up as Marie did cleaning, she had to work really, really, really hard at her part.  I am so ... well ... almost peaceful looking about and seeing my clean home.  But I am afraid she'll find the barter far too lop-sided to repeat.  I cooked her flour tortillas, Thai Honey Peanut Chicken, and Chipotle Chicken Chili.  Friday, during our cooking time, Marie also tried a new pasta lasagna recipe, looking for something to tempt her father's plain palette.  So, today, after exhausting herself cleaning my abode, Marie left with 24 freezer meals and 16 tortilla dough balls.

While she was here, we made Honey-Lime Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Corn Tacos:

I am most decidedly not a vegetarian, but, just as with the Chipotle Chicken Chili, the recipe photo reeled me in, hook, line, and sinker.  So, I am very happy to report that these were as tasty as the photo indicated.  My photo is blurry, so really you should take a gander at the original recipe photo.

We forgot the avocado slice at the end, but they were rather tasty without it.  And, to be perfectly honest, I almost forgot the seasoning on the sweet potatoes.  I put them in the oven and then had to take them back out and finish seasoning them.  The interesting part was that I could not imagine sweet potatoes in a taco, but once I smelled the seasoning on them, I couldn't wait for the recipe to be finished.  And, well, how can you go wrong with something that has honey and lime in it??

Today, whilst I was cooking for Marie, I cooked for me. 

Again, my photography skills with food leave much to be desired.  Fatigue might have played a part in not really taking a good one of this ... or hunger ... but I am having a really difficult time not polishing off the left overs.  Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce is truly a Myrtle recipe.

I didn't have brandy, so I made do with Barefoot Moscato.  However, I plan to buy some brandy and some vodka (for the next recipe I wish to try) as soon as possible.  This has two kinds of mustard, cream, garlic, butter, olive oil, and chicken broth in it.  I found the reduction part took too long and plan to adjust the cream a bit more next time.  I also wonder if the broth is really necessary.  However, since the Pioneer Woman has brought such success to my kitchen, I am not sure I should quibble over 1/4 cup of broth.

I can so readily plan to purchase the alcohol for both recipes because, clearly, cooking from scratch has decreased my grocery bills.  Yes, the transition has included a large capital outlay, between the freezer, larder staples, mason jars, a few cooking utensils, and the expense of my raised herb bed.  However, already the cost of the freezer and mason jars are being mitigated by the lowered grocery bills.  By the end of the year, I hope to be consistently at $150 a month, on average.   Realistically, that would be a savings of more than the $1,200 budgeted, because I always blew way past my grocery budget line item.  Since the 27th (my budget cycle), I've spent less than $25.  And I could very easily eat only what is in the freezer and have enough for the end of the month, buying only milk and cream between now and May 27th.  But those chunks of steak are calling out to me to try tackling the new recipes that have been waiting for two months now.  And, of course, I just have to try the vodka sauce pasta recipe I found. And I still have all that chicken ... hence today's culinary adventure.

The only thing about buying brandy and vodka is that I don't know what to get. I actually have blackberry brandy, but figured that would not work with a mustard cream recipe.  I am very ignorant when it comes to alcohol, with the large part of my infinitesimal knowledge being about liquors, since I am a sweet-tooth even in alcohol.

Hmm ... what do you think I could make with the honey liquor sitting in my cabinet??

Firewood Man has been working incredibly long hours and long weeks (not a single day off) at his job, so building the raised bed for my herb garden has been shuffled back a few times.  But after hearing that my worms are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, Tim came after eating a quick dinner to work in my project.  He brought a friend.  Much to my embarrassment, many Myrtle stories were told.  I may (or may not) have and to resort to a swift kick in Tim's backside when he was kneeling over.  Something about a face plant in my beloved grass quells embarrassing story telling.

Tim worked by flashlight for much of the finishing work, but he ended up being able to create a home for my worms!

The back wood is in two pieces, one on either side of the fence and then braced.  That light bit of wood up top is to keep the dirt from spilling out, so I very quickly added sealer to it after Tim and his friend left.  It was 10:00 PM!!  I put the pea gravel in whilst they were measuring and cutting the cap pieces and then, once the cap was on, they added the mulch.  Before leaving, Tim and his friend carried the compost manure, peat, and potting soil over to the bed so that when I mix it tomorrow, all I will have to do is use my large scooper.  No lifting.  No fainting.

Yes, I know I am short on soil.  Even though Tim's Monday's are 12-hour days, he said if I got Lowe's to add more to my car, he will stop by on the way home and put it in my bed.  Merciful man.  A truly great guy ... even if he couldn't help catching his friend up on every single silly thing he knows about me!

So, my laundry is done, my Highlander is washed, my fern bed is weeded, my house is incredibly clean, and my herb bed is built.

To be honest, though, I have been trying to keep so busy that I would not have time to think.  Part of that plan was derailed by a package in the mail.  You see, I bought another Bible.  I did so before I had the thought that if I just stop fighting so hard to hold on to this area of my memory, my life, then I might not be so awash in anguish and terror.  So, as far as putting away all the reminders goes, I have one that I am reluctant to set aside.

A few years back, I discovered the Holman NASB 1977 single column Bible.  At first, I thought it odd, but I am now deeply in LOVE with this format.  I immediately went searching for another.  So, I had one in brown leather and one in hardback (a rather startling red color).  The next one I found, I bought and gave away.  Although, I do not remember to whom I gave it.  I was just so darned excited to share how different and thought provoking it is—for me, at least—it is to read the Scriptures in just one column.  Of course, in communications, presentation is everything.  So, maybe that is why I like it.  In any case, I find the format much, much, much easier to read.  After a long dry spell, I tracked down another one.  I snapped it up because it came with a bonus:


One of my sorrows and frustrations is that I struggle greatly in searching for books in the Bible.  I get them mixed up and cannot find them.  Well, if you want the Psalter just open a Bible up to the middle.  But as for the rest ... I can spend so much time searching that I become dispirited.  I care not that the stick on part is so old it has yellowed.  They are all there.  They all work.

The Bible is still a reference version, with the references on the edge, a set of maps, and a concordance in the back.  My kind of Bible!

It is funny, I talked with my pastor about everything and nothing and one of those everything-and-nothings was the fact that I don't know what to do with old Bibles.  I have all of mine.  I have my Ryrie Study Bible that has a broken spine and pages falling out.  I have my Zondervan Thinline that I took to Africa and is all moldy and tattered from being in the Liberian climate.  I have the Zondervan Thinline that I bought on my return, which also has a broken spine, but the pages are still intact.  I  have a putrid pink Zondervan Thinline that someone gave me, which is new but has pages falling out.  I have my personal copies of the King James, New King James, and Revised Standard Version.  I have an antique copy of the King James from 1865.  I have my copy of The Lutheran Study Bible (English Standard Version) and my missionary Bible that is a translation using only 800 different words for those who struggle with English.  I also have the old New International Bible only because it is in daily readings that are also in chronological order.  And I have family Bibles:  my great aunt's King James, my grandmother's Revised Standard Version, my father's King James, and my other great aunt's Revised Standard Version Anglicised.  Not full Bibles, but I also have three copies of the Common Book of Prayer.  There might be more that I am forgetting, but these are the ones I know the location of, the broken, battered, and other owner ones all in a box in the attic.

I cannot throw them away.
I do not believe they should be recycled.
I am burdened by Bibles I do not want.

The Ryrie Study Bible actually represents the bulk of my desperate years in the mainline evangelical church and, thus, distresses me.  The moldy Bible is in a ziploc bag, so I wonder if it will become a science experiment at some point.  I simply do not know what you are supposed to do with old Bibles.  And, these days, I basically think donating the usable ones to some place like Goodwill could end up with them being discarded, given the turning tide against Christianity in America.

Since the "reverent" way to discard an unusable American flag is to soberly and solemnly burn it, should old Bibles be burned?

I honestly have the same discomfort with the bulletins from Lutheran services that have sections of the Living Word printed in them.  I have a box of those in the attic, too.  Lately, I have taken to leaving mine behind so as to also try and leave the thoughts I have about discarding it behind as well.

I do not know why the texts are printed, since there are pew bibles.  I am not sure I have ever since anyone at any of the Lutheran churches I've attended carry a Bible to Divine Service.  Only at mid-week Bible studies at this one church.  As heavy as it makes my bag, I bring my Bible (or my Gospel Harmony), my hymnal, and a copy of the Christian Book of Concord when I go to church, even though there is never any need for the latter and I usually end up simply reading the Scripture from the bulletin since the version does not match my Bible.

I know that the Living Word is more than the printed text.  But that printed text is powerful.  And I do not think it should not be so disrespected as to be tossed in the trash can ... or the recycling bin.

That one line in the Large Catechism still staggers me:  "For it [the Word] has, and is able to do, all that God is and can do."

Of course, as my pastor pointed out, this was not really a problem until the 1500s when the Gutenberg Press was invented.  Then, again, not so much a problem until, perhaps, this last century ... or even half-century.  For much of human history, there was not such disposable texts of the Living Word.  And, for most of the printed press stage of human history, few could afford multiple copies or versions of the Bible.

I brought him a used, free copy of the NASB 1977, in paperback.  I wanted us to be able to read the same version.  Unfortunately, the first time he used it in catechesis, pages fell out. I gasped.  And was horrified.  He looked at them, the maps, and quickly told me that those pages didn't matter. The next time he used the Bible, more pages fell out.  I was even more dismayed and said I would get another copy.  Half-joking, my pastor quipped that were I to do so, then he would be stuck with trying to figure out how to properly discard a Bible.

Anyway, opening the package, my heart went wonky.  Literally, stress affects my cardiac function and I was full of all sorts of good stress.  In short, I was giddy at the sight of the package waiting on my porch and carried it quite lovingly inside.  And, to be honest, I have already slept with my new (old) Bible.  I have used every single tab. I have traced my fingertips across many of the pages.  I looked at all of the maps (none of which I have ever really understood).  I flipped to favorite passages and then looked up references.  I perused the concordance.  I clutched it to my chest.  I am a nutter for the Living Word, especially for its printed text.

Could the Bible be my altar?

After all, for most of my Christian life, the Bible is where Jesus has come to me.  The Bible is where I understand Jesus coming to me.  In fact, for the first few years of having faith, church was not an option, so the Living Word was all I had.  So, the Bible was (and remains) my refuge.

I suppose, too, I should acknowledge, given my rather strident thoughts about discarding the printed text of the Living Word, I am probably a textaphobe, as opposed to a crumbaphobe.

To be honest, I simply don't understand Christians who do not daily delve into the Living Word.  I mean, over the decades, I have oft been lauded for being a "great" Bible reader and that accolade is usually followed by the statement:  "I just don't have time to read the Bible that much."  Hogwash.  We have time for the things we make time for.  Period.  Yes, especially now, I have oodles and oodles of time to read, but even when I was working full-time (and then some) and even volunteering on top of that, I always had time to read the Bible.  I want to read it the same way—although differently—that I want to read one of my historical fiction or fantasy or science fiction novels.  I hunger for that text, the way I hunger for the joy of all text.

I also do not understand Lutherans who do not daily delve into the Confessions, especially now that the Reader's Edition has been available for almost a decade.  I don't understand why Lutheran parents are not out buying personal editions of the Confessions for their children once they reach upper elementary or middle school.  That book ought to be flying off the shelf.  But it is not.  I get that I am basically a freak in that thinking.

But the Bible...
I wish I knew other Bible freaks.
I wish I were not increasingly uncomfortable asking others to read the Bible with me, to me, to them.

Could the Bible be my altar?

I am both reverent and irreverent with the Bible.  Never have I bowed before a copy, but I do oft clutch a copy to my chest and/or stare at it in utter awe.  Sometimes, when I am too upset to read, to concentrate, I hold the Bible open and run my fingertips over the text.  Honestly, I would just love a Braille bible.  But a Braille bible is 18 volumes, I believe, and rather costly.  Having a copy of the volume containing the Psalter would be cool, though.  A page.  A single page of the Living Word in Braille for my fingertips.  SIGH.

Anyway, I do have a deep reverence for the Bible, for the printed text.  However, I also have carted it everywhere, splashed it with Dr Pepper, splattered it with food, dropped it in the bathtub, thrown it against the wall, left it out for my first puppy to chew, etc.  A torn and tattered Bible is just fine to me, but a torn and tatter altar???  I've never seen one of those.

So, the conundrum is that I am still having those thoughts, still longing to just not remember, to stop fighting to remember, to understand, to learn what I should know.  And yet I am beside myself with joy and happiness and awe over the latest copy of the Bible come to me.

A leather bound, single column NASB 1977 with tabs for a mere twenty bucks!!!!  What does it say about me that were I to come across another copy of the Holman side reference, single column NASB  1977, I would snatch it up in a heartbeat?  That I would very much welcome having a copy in every room of my house, one in my car, and one in my Kenya bag that I take when I have appointments and such so that I am never without the printed Living Word in the form that fits me best??

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

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