Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Just Because You Can't See the Sun Doesn't Mean it's not Shining"

Hope Meet: Yesterday was the Hope-Calvin meet at our new pool. The girls team won, and we had a lot of really good swims. I had a couple season-best times (I swam the 200 medley relay (butterfly), 200, 100, and 100 fly) and a lot of people on the team had season-bests as well. I'm not sure what we're cheering for there - the 400 free relay, I think - but Mom and Mark were here so they were timing. (I really should stop letting Mom time... Or teach Mark how to time multiple lanes. Someone gets too excited during good races, or races where me or my friends happen to be in the water.) AND the sun was shining yesterday amidst the frigid cold. But the title of this post is actually from an awesome Anathallo song.

On Friday, Cara and I did a trial run putting on our Blue Seventys: this is me at minute 15.

And Cara at minute 7.

This is me, 29 minutes later. Could've been quicker (it took Cara 22 minutes) but I was too busy taking pictures and wriggling around ungracefully. It is the right size - nothing ripped when I went into ta handstand. Molly, if you're reading this, I hope you feel ashamed of yourself when you see the mug that I happened to notice when I unpacked stuff from Christmas. Don't look too close, your future birthday present is on the shelf.

Finally! We're both in the Blue Seventy suits. They're like a wetsuit material. Kind of fun, right?

This week is the last week of interim, and then I start my last semester. In interim, we talked a little about healings with prayer, and then the NY Times ran an article about parents who are going to trial for their daughter's death (Link here). That opens up a can of worms - on the one hand, God CAN do anything. So we should entrust problems to him, physical as well as emotional and spiritual. But, we have developed hospitals and medicines and it seems as though those are a gift from God that we can use to bring shalom to the world. I don't have a convincing argument either way, although I do know how my actions lie on this issue. And that ambivalence doesn't bother me - perhaps it should?
The team with the main donor and her family.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning to Eat (?) like Jesus

Okay, so I absolutely love my More-with-Less cookbook. It's a cookbook that relies on the premise that one's belief in God affects the way one lives, and so, tries to find healthy eating habits in response to that. Its goal is to 'help Christians respond in a caring-sharing way in a world with limited food resources.' Everything I've made from it has been so good (I cooked a macaroni-tomato pie for some friends and oatmeal crumb-topped muffins and they were all approved of) and last night, I made lentil burgers and berry cobbler that were DELICIOUS. (Perhaps some of it was the lovely company.) It really makes me want Lent to come because I've already made some food plans to live more in the act of shalom for Lent. Which means, I really should get started now.

Lentil Burgers
Combine in a bowl:
2 cups cooked, cooled lentils (about 1 cup dry; needs no presoaking)
1 egg
1/2 c cracker crumbs
1 small onion, minced
tomato juice (I used sauce and it worked fine!)
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together using just enough tomato juice to hold mixture in shape when pattied. Fry like hamburgers in small amount hot oil, shortening, or bacon fat.

I served them with cheese, mustard and ketchup on buns. Someone suggested adding another egg and making it as meatloaf as well.

Quick Berry Cobbler

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine in bowl:
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c flour
1/2 c milk
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Pour into 9 x 9 greased baking pan. Add:
2 c fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned)
Bake for 40 minutes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

All your ways and all your thunder

"All your ways and all your thunder/
Got me in a haze running for cover/
Where we gonna go from here?
Where we gonna go from here?"
- mat kearney

This is me in my new waterproof jacket (thanks Dad and Diane!), holding up the Blue70 from many of you. There was a new deal where I paid half-price to purchase half of the suit. (Just kidding - it stretches.) For those of you who aren't swimmers, that will take me about 20 minutes to put on. It WILL fit. This upcoming weekend is our meet against Hope in Calvin's new pool (for a glimpse, check out this link and video.)
We just had an invitational in Chicago, in which I had a chance to get mowed down by the UAA swimmer of the week for her butterfly events. w00t.
Also, had a chance to negative split a 50, which nobody can really figure out how or why I do that. Dan, my coach, pointed out that most people have a velocity graph that looks like y= ln x (he may have used other words...) and mine looks like a y = 3x.

More on Learning to Pray like Jesus:
  • Praying in Jesus' name has lots of significance. In those olden days, knowing someone's name held a lot of meaning and power. By praying in Jesus' name, it means we can tap into his power in the presence of God. It also involves "praying in the place of Jesus. By using Jesus' name we are declaring that the prayer we are voicing is what Jesus would pray if he himself were speaking." (Grenz, Prayer: The Cry of the Kingdom, 22) If I were to think of that every time I pray, I think my prayers would be radically different. Not omitting petitions for me, but certainly understanding the significance of weightier supplications as well.
  • As for the Lord's Prayer, the first petition "hallowed be your name" does not just mean "You are holy" as I thought. Hallowed is a verb, meaning "show the holiness of" or "sanctify." It's what Bible scholars refer to as the divine passive voice, the same as what Jesus used when He told people to "Be healed." Because names hold power, the Jewish rarely spoke God's name, and so used the divine passive tense, intimating that God is the subject or active object in the command.
  • The second petition in the Lord's Prayer is "Thy kingdom come." My professor pointed out that most people don't feel any urgency for Jesus to return, but that we really should be. The best humanitarian action we can take, more than donating time or money, more than praying for reduction of injustices, is to pray that the kingdom returns. Nothing will stop wars, unnecessary deaths and genocides, energy issues and more except for the return of the kingdom, the Parousia, Jesus' return.
  • It's actually the combined knowledge of the two above paragraphs that is inspiring me to keep better tabs on the news around the country and the world, because then I'll know what to pray for and what the world needs relief from. If anybody knows of anything that might not be listed on major headlines, pop them in the comments here, please!
  • Last thing - I heard a speech about how love transfers into actions. Nobody can get away with telling their wife, "Honey, I love you, believe me. But I am going to ignore our marriage vows. But really, I love you." And yet... what an allegory that is for our relationship with God.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Learning to Pray like Jesus

Calvin has an interim term during the month of January when students take one course for three-ish hours a day. The courses are usually specific professors interests, and a lot of students use this month to go abroad. (Examples of courses - knitting, sailing in the Bahamas, Business in Europe, Infinite series, grammar (took those last two)) and the one I am taking this year named "Learning to Pray like Jesus." It's by THIS GUY and he's quite entertaining, as is the course material.

Apparently, next week, we get to talk about whether God changes His mind for petitionary prayers. Obviously, He does not always answer to what we want, but there is some evidence in the Old Testament that He changed his mind. For example, Genesis 18 (here) shows Abraham praying for the town of Sodom and the dialogue there shows God changing His mind from His original plan. And my professor seems to think that God still does... Which makes the idea of prayer a lot more inviting, knowing that it's not just a futile attempt to converse with God. Not only does He listen, He responds and cares. But that's just a teaser, because I don't really know what I think about that - I sure trust God's plans more than mine - and we're talking about it next week. So start thinking about it; I'll be asking about it later. My main thing is like a "What if I actually get what I pray for? But God hadn't planned it for me? Wouldn't I be getting something that isn't as good for me as what He planned?"

So, a quick overview of things I found interesting from the first four days of class:
  • Is it a "pagan practice" to pray for practical things? In the New Testament, individual requests were always "cradled between substantial introductions and conclusions that focused the petitioner's attention on praise and adoration." (Crump in Expository Times, 120(5)) Basically, we decided no, even though they're not really worth worrying about (Matthew 6:32). God won't fault us for praying for specific things, but we should be remembering the true purpose of prayer is NOT for our comfort or material requests.
  • The majority of prayers in the New Testament are intercessory (for other people.) Hmm... Not mine, usually. How many Julies does it take to screw in a light bulb? (One, because the world revolved around me.)
  • The Jewish prayer life was (is?) very focused on the idea of berakoth (blessings) and thanking God for the blessings that we find in our daily life. In class, we each made a list of 50 things we were thankful for. Easy, right? Try it. Now, how many blessings did you list that were material things or things for your comfort? Not that we can't enjoy these, but if I hadn't been thinking about other types of blessings, all 50 of my blessings would have been such.
  • Berakoth was their way of life - it made worship a lifestyle and helped them focus on true joy and gratitude, or was supposed to. The prayers recited began and ended with berakoth. An ancient rabbi said, "for those who make berakah (singular form; blessing) a life, everything becomes manna." Manna was the miraculous bread that fell from heaven. Imagine living a life where everything - intellect, material, spiritual, all blessings were as obvious as bread falling from heaven when you're hungry.
  • Romans 1:21 begins, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor..." - What do you expect follows from Paul's description of pagans? Don't glorify God and ?? Surprisingly, it finishes with "-nor gave thanks to him..." That's the strength of berakah; it was (and maybe still is? Thoughts?) a defining characteristic of pagans, the people who did not follow God. Praising God for our trials is not a Christian thing, it originates from Judaism. Saying berakoth for enemies, as Romans 12:14 (here; the word "bless" is eulogia, meaning a blessing or thanksgiving) IS unique to Christianity at that point.

finally, a good friend (whose honesty, cynicism, and love never ceases to amaze me) sent me this quote after we talked about a lot of the above stuff:

"For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business." - ts eliot, the four quartets

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

The training trip in Florida is something every swimmer dreams about, whether it's preseason, mid-season, or at naptime during the trip.
Some dream to remember, some dream to forget...
In that way, it is a little like the Hotel California. All in all, it's such a lovely place (any time of year) but really - it feels like you can never leave. Many of us spend practices, days, the whole week, attempting to check out, but we are stuck. And often checking out is just as painful as putting your head down, taking the steely knives, and trying to kill the beast. I'm proud to say, this is the first year that I haven't "checked out" or just written off any practices, unless you count the stretch cord set - which, you probably do. But all the same, I held my own. After all - I was a prisoner there, of my own device.

Enough with the intense connection between The Eagles and the Training Trip. I spent the mornings before our first practice down at the pool restaurant overlooking Deerfield Beach. This picture is the beginning of the sunrise on the last day we were there.
Coral Springs Aquatic Center - this is the pool we trained at! We've trained here for the past 3 years actually, so it's almost a little sad to say goodbye. (If you're looking for me in this picture, I am in the second lane over, heading away from the photographer, probably trying not to drown or to get
Hotel California out of my head. Whichever was easiest to concentrate on.
Every year, the swim team has a party. This year's theme was the "Dark Knight" - because of the movie and Calvin is the Knights - so this is Cara in her batman costume and me in my black (dark night?) pajamas.
The senior girls - I asked our assistant coach to think of a pose that says, "We are done and never have to do this again!" - This is what we came up with. 22+ hours of training within 6 days, getting over 10,000 yards every day - it's a rite of passage that all swim teams go through. And we never have to do one again.

"we may lose and we may win -
but we will never be here again.
so open up, I'm climbing in -
so take it easy."