23 January 15
The readings for this were from Jonah and from the first chapter of Mark.
I want to talk about discipleship and following God today. We get three views of what it means to respond to God’s call in these lessons. We’ll start with the easiest one first. In the Gospel, Jesus calls Andrew and Simon (later Peter), and he calls James and John. The men leave their careers and families and towns willingly, even joyfully, and quite literally follow Jesus up and down Judea for the next three years. This may be the most common view of discipleship, that of giving up everything to follow God. And it’s a powerful message and takes an awful lot of nerve. But thankfully for us, that’s not the end of discipleship. You can still follow God even if you aren’t a fisherman.
In our first reading, Jonah tells the people of Ninevah they will be destroyed. Now you may remember the story of Jonah. God tells him to go to Ninevah and tell the Ninevites that Ninevah will be destroyed in forty days. Jonah, understandably, would rather not do that, so he runs, gets thrown into the sea and swallowed by a fish, and God, again, tells him to go to Ninevah. He delivers the message, the Ninevites repent, and God doesn’t destroy them. Jonah thinks it’s unfair, but that’s another story.
We have two examples of following God in this story. Jonah follows God’s instructions eventually, though he was kicking and screaming and only gave in once he realized he couldn’t escape. This may be what discipleship feels like for many of us. But there’s another example, that of the Ninevites. When they heard Jonah’s message, they repented, they turned towards God, and God saved them from destruction. They led their lives but prayed and repented and did fewer bad things, and God spared them.
This particular example of discipleship is a little difficult for me. As a Lutheran, we put a large emphasis on grace and faith. Our salvation comes from God, and there is nothing we can do to earn it. Works are a response to God’s love, rather than a way to earn salvation. Other denominations believe that faith and works are equal, that we must do works to receive God’s mercy. This story from Jonah, that of the Ninevites being spared because they repent, does not make me want to not be Lutheran, but it does raise an interesting question of how we are called to follow God.
God desires a closer relationship with us. He hears our prayers, he walks with us, and he desires good things for us. He wants us to repent from what keeps us distant from him. But I believe that his grace is not conditional upon this. His grace was sealed with the death of his son. And our response to that grace is to lead prayerful lives. I hope you will think of your whole life as a response to God’s grace in the coming month. Amen.
23 May 14
So a few months ago, I took over a service at a nursing home once a month. I had been playing piano for the services for a while before I was asked to lead the service as well. Sometimes it’s a little awkward to hop back and forth from the piano to the altar, but it’s been working pretty well, and I have a great team of volunteers who come out and shepherd people.
My sermons are short, five minutes or less. Today’s was the shortest yet, just over two minutes. The text was John 14:15-21, “I will not leave you orphaned,” that kind of thing. And I thought maybe other people would be interested in reading what I had to say. So here’s my sermon for today:
I met someone who grew up in a family where, instead of saying “bye” or “see you later” when one of them left the house, they would say, “remember whose you are.” It was a reminder to be strong in identity and values, to remember where you came from and to whom you belong. It was a reminder to live faithfully and in glory to God. Because of that story, I have a card in my wallet that has a sunset with those words printed on it – Remember whose you are.
We remember whose we are, that we are God’s children. God loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us. During Easter we especially celebrate his resurrection, but that’s not the end. Jesus ascends to heaven, where he still lives, and sends the Spirit to be with us. God loves us so much that He will not leave us orphaned or alone.
At the beginning of this Gospel reading, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The commandment we are instructed to keep is the one given just before this in John, to love one another as God has loved us.
Our response to God’s love to is to love one another. This can be easy to do when people are nice and we have the ability to help. But what about when we have no help to give or when people are mean or lash out? God’s commandment is clear. We are to love one another, not just when it’s convenient or when they look like us or have our same values or the same beliefs, not just when they’re nice to us or have something to offer us. We are to love one another as God has loved us. Period.
But we’re not alone in this. God sends us the Spirit to guide us and be with us as we figure out the world. He does not leave us orphaned. The Spirit is God’s presence on earth. And this Spirit lives in us. That might sound like some modern hippie stuff, but God’s work is done through us, and the Spirit guides that. We remember whose we are, that we are God’s children. We should do our best to show whose we are by how we love each other. We talk about scripture being God-breathed, God’s word filtered through human hands. Our lives and works should also be God-breathed, the Spirit working through us with our personalities and passions and mistakes imprinted on them. Our love for one another is God-breathed, Spirit-inspired, with our own expression on it.
Remember whose you are.
I have three other sermons that I haven’t posted, though I will if people are interested.
6 March 14
My theme for this year, as a New Year’s Resolution, is discipline. Since I closed up my law firm, I’d been rather undisciplined – sleeping late and too much, eating too much, watching too much TV, drinking too frequently (rarely to excess), generally living in my own bubble of self-indulgence and not engaging with my community. I felt bad, emotionally and physically. New Year seemed like the right time to make more changes, and I decided to try to live with more deliberation and discipline. I still have a long way to go, but I think I’ve made a good start. I get up with Carl most days and work on our new business (ArtsMuse!) for a decent portion of the day, I get out of the house regularly, I’m eating, if not better, at least less. I attend 1 Million Cups, which is a weekly presentation of two start-ups, and I made it my goal to meet 2 new people each week. That’s pushed me outside my comfort zone, though I think with the lack of “work friends,” maybe I’m willing to seek out human contact a little more. And I’ve been reading more. Last year, I read a lot of nonfiction, which was great, and I learned a lot, but I’m trying to read more fiction right now (I love my local library!). I started voice lessons, and I’ve been playing more piano recently too.
So that’s been well and good, but I can do better. I have nowhere near the discipline of, say, mothers. My house is still regularly cluttered, I’m still not exercising (I do walk the dogs, but does that count?), and my spiritual life is not great. I’m really involved in my church, but the last time I prayed on my own without prompting in church (before yesterday) was, well, I don’t remember, because it’s been that long.
I’ve decided on my Lenten disciplines. First, give up alcohol. I think my liver and my gut will both appreciate that. Second, follow the devotional that my pastor wrote. Third, pray regularly, at least daily. And fourth, write or draw (or both) daily. I still feel like I write like a lawyer, and I’m hoping that I can write like a normal human again. As for drawing, my artistic ability is limited, and it’s something I want to improve upon.
My husband asked what Lenten disciplines are all about, which was a good reminder to me of why we do this anyway. The way I learned it was that when we deprive ourselves of something, we are meant to pray when we feel the deprivation. One year when I was a kid, my dad, my brother, and I decided to fast on Wednesdays (though somehow, smoothies didn’t count). The idea was that when we felt hungry, we were supposed to pray. Hopefully this will mean praying at dinner now. 🙂 With adding disciplines, again, it’s meant to be something that brings us closer to God. The devotional and praying regularly are pretty obvious. I have a harder time explaining the writing/drawing, but I think anything that gets me focusing for long-ish periods of time is a positive in my personal development, not that it will make me worthier of redemption, but I think we are meant (called?) to improve constantly.
30 April 13
A good friend got married last weekend. It was a wonderful ceremony and a fun reception. As one of the bridesmaids, I elected to bring the emergency kit for the day. And this was the emergency kit to end all emergency kits. I was prepared for basically anything except a biochemical attack. It was a pretty packed duffel bag, but it came in handy, and thankfully, I didn’t actually have to use much of it. 🙂 So here’s my list of contents:
- sewing kit (including extra buttons, hooks and eyes, and small scissors; mine also had some sticky-backed velcro, you know, just in case)
- hem tape
- safety pins (multiple sizes)
- scissors (large)
- superglue (I had two single use things)
- clear nail polish
- white nail polish
- nail polish remover (I had nail polish remover pads)
- static cling spray
- spot remover
- white chalk (to cover spots)
- pantyliners (you can also use these to line the armpit of dresses or shirts to keep from sweating through things)
- painkillers (2 types, in case someone is allergic to one)
- breath mints
- eye drops
- dental floss
- toothbrushes (really, bring a few)
- bobby pins
- hair ties
- earring backs
- nail clippers
- emery board
- cuticle trimmers
- corsage pins (yeah, I did actually use these)
- antibacterial wipes
- hand sanitizer
- scotch tape
- Benadryl (or Unisom tablets – both can be used as a sedative)
- smelling salts
- round brush
- curling iron
- hair dryer (even if you’re getting ready in a hotel room, make sure you have one – we ended up using this at the chapel when the flower girl poured water down the front of her dress)
- frizz gel or spray
- mirror (small and large)
- lint brush
- baby powder
- Pepto Bismol tablets
- cellphone charger
- small iron
- makeup remover
- cotton balls
- oil blotting sheets
- zip-up hooded sweatshirt
- shoe pad inserts
- heel traction pads (I had a roll of anti-slip tape instead)
- ballet flats
- spare change (ended up forgetting this and regretted it)
- cotton swabs
- shimmery body powder
- plastic bags (for trash)
- sandwich bags
- double-sided tape
- disposable camera
- blister band-aids (or moleskin)
- binder clips (useful for when you’re setting up the reception)
- pocketknife (I couldn’t find mine and REALLY regretted it)
- first aid tape
- gaff tape or electrical tape (also useful when setting up the reception)
- duct tape
- cough drops
- contact solution
- bottle opener
- granola bars
- animal crackers
- alcohol (I had a flask of vodka and a small bottle of Jaeger because, well, I just did)
- orange juice
- dark chocolate
- list of vendor phone numbers
I know it’s a long list, but it really is better to be prepared, right? Most of the stuff I had around the house (not smelling salts though). My husband is now quite excited about the prospect that I will prepare a bug-out bag.
I started to organize the list better, but eh, I’m tired. Good luck!
22 March 13
This may be a little macabre, but I’ve been thinking about what I want things to be like when I die. I closed my law firm officially last week. I just wasn’t happy practicing law, and I realized that when I’m on my deathbed, I don’t want to think that I should have changed jobs fifty years ago. And that’s what I would think if I continued in law, or at least in practicing law. So I’ve closed up shop and am spending some time being a housewife. I don’t think I will regret this.
Thinking about being on my deathbed got me thinking about other areas of my life as well. Carl and I talked about things, and we agreed that, if one of us were to die suddenly, we don’t want either of us to feel that we should have said more or shown more love. And I know that, if one of us died today, I would know that I had shown him love and been shown so much love. I also don’t want to feel like I didn’t really LIVE. And by this, I don’t mean bungee jumping or swimming with sharks or opening a bar on a beach in Costa Rica. I mean being present. Being present to experience the beauty and the sorrow that life provides. This means everything from playing with my dogs and gardening to spending time with friends and family to traveling to reading a book and watching TV (because yes, watching some TV can contribute to my happiness). I’ve known someone who disconnected and chose not to be present and experience the hurts and the joys, and it caused a lot of pain for many people. I will be present though. I will try not to regret broken relationships or missed opportunities. I may not love life every day, but I will appreciate it and know that experiencing it is what makes everything worth it. Embracing the pain and the sadness so that celebrating joy and love is even more brilliant.
That got really sappy, didn’t it? I’m in a bit of a sentimental and contemplative mood…
4 January 13
I have three days left for my month-long challenge, and while I’ve had a blast, I’ll be glad to start using my slow cooker only a few times a week instead of every day. It’s produced SO MUCH FOOD. I did get a 1970s-era 3 1/2 quart Crock-Pot, so that will be nice for smaller quantities of food. Here’s the list of things I’ve made since my last post:
- creme caramel
- pomegranate pork
- fallen cheese souffle
- chicken pot pie
- sausage and vegetables medley
- butternut bisque
- honeyed pears with goat cheese and thyme
- halibut with Maitre d’Hotel butter
- Alsatian lentil soup with bratwurst
- hot buttered rum
I’ve been making notes after each recipe so I know how long the prep took, any modifications I made, how long it cooked, how it tasted, and whether it’s worth making again. Oh, I also roasted cauliflower, but not in the slow cooker. That was super delicious.
As I said, I have three days left, but five recipes I still want to make. They are:
- crustless vegetable quiche
- lamb with artichokes and olives
- acorn squash
- lemon pots de creme
- ginger creme brulee
It’s hard to choose a favorite from the month, though Carl seemed to rave most about the Rousillon meatballs, the pomegranate pork, and the two recipes with whole chickens. I have learned a few things – it is indeed possible to overcook things, namely fish; the spiciness in chili will intensify over time; and I can make so many more dishes than I ever thought in the slow cooker. It’s been a pretty delicious month.
I don’t know why, but this post feels like a book report. Maybe it’s because of the lists… you know, a recitation of the main points without much judgment. Hmm.
25 December 12
Merry Christmas! I thought it was time for another post after such a very long radio silence. I wanted to let y’all know about my month of slow cooking. I’m over halfway through and having a blast. I’ve used it every day except the first two Wednesdays (because we were rather overloaded with leftovers). I’m working from three sources – Michele Scicolone’s The French Slow Cooker, Cook’s Illustrated The Best Slow and Easy Recipes, and Stephanie O’Dea’s blog. So far, I’ve made:
- garbure (cabbage and bean soup)
- roast chicken with potatoes, lemon, and thyme
- chicken in the pot with aioli
- Povencal spinach meatballs
- Rousillon meatballs
- salmon with tomatoes and mint (not awesome)
- bacon and Gruyere pain perdu
- cauliflower and potatoes Catalan
- bittersweet chocolate creams
- rice pudding
- barbecued brisket
- salsa chicken and black bean soup
- stuffed peppers
- 21-ingredient chili
- chicken broth (today’s task)
- mulled wine
And then not in the slow cooker but cooked slowly: baked bananas and slow-braised carrots. The French book is wonderful and has turned out the best results, I think.
Nearly everything has turned out deliciously. And I’m having a great time. So great a time that we decided to get a 1970s-era one as well (they cook slower and have great reputations) so that I can cook smaller amounts of food (efficiently) instead of the very large amounts I am currently producing. Carl has also been enjoying it for obvious reasons. 🙂
I’m also working on perfecting a gluten-free French bread recipe. It had quite a bit of millet flour in the original recipe (from one of my GF cookbooks), and I think it’s the millet that has just a little bit of a strange taste. The texture of it is absolutely fantastic though. I’ve tried substituting buckwheat flour for the millet, but that didn’t work out. Today, I’m going to substitute almond flour and perhaps coconut flour for the millet. We’ll see how it goes. I thought of substituting quinoa flour, but a friend of mine who cooks tons of GF stuff recommended against it. She’s also working on perfecting the same recipe. I think between us, we’ll figure it out. And then I’ll post the recipe because it will be AWESOME.
On another but related note, I do have the best husband ever. He is supportive of me and kind and smart and just absolutely wonderful. He came to two church services last night (out of three) at two different churches and said he would rather be there for/with me than be home alone. I definitely go the best husband.
And now off to do laundry and other domestic-y things. Merry Christmas!
16 June 12
Carl and I have been weeding the garden like mad the last few days. Out of the 500 square feet, a good 150 (if not more) of it had weeds. I assume it’s because we brought in a bunch of topsoil last year, but all the same, it’s quite annoying. I think most all of it is clear of weeds now, thank goodness. And we have vegetables growing! Some tomatoes on about half the plants, a few bell peppers on a couple of the plants, butternut squash, some melons (I don’t remember which kind I planted there, so we’ll just guess when they’re ripe), zucchini, cucumbers, and artichokes! One of the squash plants has started annexing the schoolyard behind our house, which is quite fun. Squash extended about ten feet into the schoolyard a couple years ago, causing the mowers to mow around it. The butternut squash plant in question is growing out of the compost, so it’s terrifically happy and producing lots of squash. The lettuce has just about gone to seed, as has the arugula. I don’t know what’s going on with the kale – it’s nearly inedible from being so tough, so if anyone has suggestions on what to do with it, let me know. I think that about covers what we are growing – a few more types of squash and melons, and then the asparagus is nice and bushy, so lots of nutrients are getting to the roots. And the potatoes and sweet potatoes are coming along nicely.
Last night, we had lambchops from our meat CSA in a marinade of lemon juice, garlic, and oregano, and we had roasted beets. The beets are better when they’re wrapped in foil and roasted that way, but these were okay. It was our first time having lambchops – they were absolutely delicious, and I look forward to having them again. I made GF crepes for breakfast – also delicious.
All in all, life is good, and I’m happy with how things are going. I haven’t done much sewing recently, but I’ll get back to that.
4 June 12
This is a blog post about blogs. Namely, my blogs. I have three of them, if you didn’t know. The first is this one, which is my personal one where I write about anything that strikes my fancy. The second is “Laws and Found,” at rjkm.wordpress.com. That one is about legal things not directly related to my areas of practice. Lately I’ve been writing about things relating to my practice itself, like choosing a name (it may sound boring, but it was a rather involved process) and benefits of working for myself. And third is my firm blog, found at vestalegal.com/blog/. That one is about the areas of practice of my firm. Most of the posts are currently about estate planning, but keep an eye out for posts related to adoption, elder law, and exciting issues I’m running into.
Also, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here: I started my own firm about two and a half months ago! It’s called Vesta Legal, and I started it chiefly to do estate planning but also to protect the rights of the individual and the family. Please do check out my website, if you didn’t already click on the link above and poke around.
1 June 12
I fear I’ve killed off a lot of my pepper plants, both through pulling them up with weeds (we have weeds that look remarkably like pepper plants) and now through the cold. I’m quite disappointed. Maybe I’ll try putting some seeds straight in the ground later this weekend, once it has warmed up a little more. I’ve heard that peppers do better when started inside, but I can’t wait at this point.
Also, I have SO MANY tomato plants. We’ll cage them in the next few days.