This year’s theme for Christmas etymologies is Settings. 

To start, we have the hometown of Mary, the place Jesus grew up, Nazareth. And, we don’t know what it means or where it came from for sure. Some have speculated that it is related to Gennesaret, another name of the Sea of Galilee or Sea of Tiberius in northern Israel. Gennesaret means “a harp”. 

Jesus’ birth occurred in Bethlehem, broken down to two parts: beth, which is Hebrew for “house or place”, and lehem, which most literally means “bread”, but is sometimes used to mean “food” (think “daily bread”, and in Arabic lehem means “meat”. (Source is Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon.) Wiktionary suggests the differences result from different agricultural dominance in separate areas of the fertile crescent. 

Near Bethlehem is Jerusalem, the seat of the government and of the Jewish religion. It means literally “foundation of peace,” from base yarah “he threw, cast” and shalom “peace.”

Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation, that God Himself came to live on earth among us as a human, fully God and fully man. Earth is from the Old English eorþe “ground soil, dirt, dry land; country, district” – the material world as contrasted with the heavens. Proto-Indo-European has a root *er- “earth, ground” with cognates all over Germanic languages: Norse jörð, Dutch aarde. (Which reminds me of Tolkien’s word for the earth, Arda. No way that’s a coincidence.)

Famously, in Bethlehem there was “no room at the inn”. Inn is from Old English “lodging, dwelling, house” with the same root as in, basically unchanged from Proto-Germanic and even in Proto-Indo-European. 

Instead of staying inside in a room, Joseph and Mary harbored in a stable. Stable is an English word that dates from early 13th century, from Latin stabulum, literally “a standing place”, and meaning “stall, fold, aviary, beehive, lowly cottage”. “Standing” is from Proto-Indo-European root *sta- “to stand, make or be firm”. 

Angels announced the arrival of the Messiah to shepherds who were out in the field. 

Field comes from Old English feld, Related to Dutch veld and Old English folde and Finnish pelto. These are from Proto-Indo-European *pel(e)-tu- from root *pele “flat, to spread”. 

At the time prescribed in the Mosaic Law, Jesus was dedicated at the temple in Jerusalem. Temple, “building for worship or dedicated to the service of a deity” is Old English tempel from Latin templum, likely from Proto-Indo-European root *tem- “to cut”, or *temp- – both with the idea of “separating out a place for special purpose”. *ten- is “to stretch”, possibly with the concept of stretching string to stake out a parcel. 

Jesus came from Heaven, and that is where the angelic host appeared to glorify God at His birth. Heaven comes from Old English heofon “home of God”, probably from Proto-Germanic *hibin, but there is dispute over the history of this root. Etymoline (the source for all these etymologies unless otherwise noted) suggests it may literally mean “a covering”, from a Proto-Indo-European root *kem- “to cover” or from Proto-Indo-European *ak- “sharp” via *akman- “stone, sharp stone” as in “the stony vault of heaven”. Have you heard that phrase? I can’t find a citation in a quick internet search.  

To God be all glory, 

Lisa of Longbourn


 I believe God is male.

I believe Adam, the first man, had a special position of responsibility toward and representation of the rest of humanity.

I believe women are made in God’s image and have equal inherent value to that of men.

I believe men and women are together called to exercise dominion together. (Two togethers in that sentence on purpose.)

I believe God gave special responsibility, authority, and representation within their family to husbands/fathers.

I believe humans are created to submit.

I believe when someone in a position of submission does not submit, it is a responsibility of the authority to work to get things in proper order, by using instruction, persuasion, prayer, example, or discipline.

I believe when someone in authority is abusing that authority, they will answer to other authorities – ultimately, God.

I believe it can be right and good for a person in a position of submission to appeal the decisions of the authority in a respectful way. And that they can lovingly express concern over the sin of an authority.

I believe God sometimes patiently endures people not submitting to His instructions. He endures authorities leading wickedly. There will be judgment. There are also consequences.

I believe it is right to disobey the commands of any authority which directly contradict the revealed commands of God (or, when hierarchies are in place, of any higher authority).

I believe it is wrong to rebel against authorities who are sinful, abusive, or less than perfect (except in the specific circumstances of specific commands contradicting those of higher authorities). I believe it is wrong for those in submission to overthrow their authority, but not wrong necessarily to pray for it.

I believe in households on a mission together, headed by the father/husband.

I believe in mutual benefits and obligations of fathers/husbands (or landowners/tenants) in the hierarchical arrangements. The works of managing, overseeing, leading, representing, arbitrating are no small work.

I believe in generally observable differences in strengths and inclinations between men and women. And I believe the different things each offers are valuable.

Good men serve by leading.

I believe fathers and mothers both have responsibilities to spend time bringing up their children.

I believe a marriage starts a new household.

I believe people were created to live in households, and independence is a tragedy.

I believe it is possible to contribute to the mission(s) of redeemed humanity without being married or having children. And not all parents or married people do a good job contributing.

I believe men and women are more than their bodies.

I believe it is a significant clue to how we should live, that we have bodies.

I believe husbands and wives owe each other sex and have authority over each other’s bodies in this area.

I believe wise men will often but not always solicit the input of their wives (hopefully they were discipled to choose wise wives), without abdicating the burden of their leadership.

I believe it is not sinful for a woman to work for another family’s household or industry, though this may not be ideal.

I believe a husband has the authority to nullify his wife’s vow.

I believe Jesus sets a good example of headship.

I believe there are limits to the analogy between the marriage relationship and that of Christ and His Church.

I believe there are some church activities wherein the expectations for men and women are different.

I believe Paul’s practice of not permitting a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man in church activities is prescriptive for Jesus’ Church in all ages.

I believe hierarchy in the family preceded the Fall.

I believe God can and does gift some women as prophets, as well as men.

I believe leadership and oversight can be exercised, and obedience can be due to, authorities who are not the head. For example: mothers and church elders.

I believe the only true head of any church is Jesus.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Sometimes I sit a few cars back at a stoplight that has just turned green and imagine how efficient it would be if we could all trust each other to accelerate at the same moment at the same rate. The light could turn green and we could all press the gas pedal without running into each other. The way it works now (and I am not interested in any technologies or systems that would enable or enforce my vision), the second car watches the first car for movement instead of the light for color. The third car must wait for that to happen and the second car to start moving in response to the first. It’s a chain reaction. Not synchronized.

Inflation usually works like our chain reaction. First more dollars are introduced to the system (unbacked by increase in production of goods or services). Someone reacts to this influx of purchasing power by increasing demand on something. The producer of that thing raises their prices. They then have more dollars with which to demand the resources they use to produce. Those resource providers raise their prices, and so on. Buyers who did not yet receive a share of the influx of money, but compete to buy the same resources, need more dollars to buy those same goods or services. So they react by raising their prices to whomever is buying from them. The people at the end of the chain lose.

Or, since money is not usually dumped into our system secretly, the people at the ends of the chains could raise their prices without waiting for the series of reactions. It’s like putting on the gas when you see the light turn green. I acknowledge there is some risk that for whatever reason the buyers of your labor or product will not recognize the appropriateness of this action and may decide not to do the trade, so it could be analogous to rear-ending the slower car in front of you. Maybe it would be wiser to wait until the first or second car have gotten moving – people are noticing increased prices in some spheres and so will be readier to accept your higher prices before the reaction technically trickles down. If you are far down the chain and wait until the dominoes hit you, all the earlier dominoes will have had more purchasing power for months or years, and thus will have a strong economic advantage. It could be so strong as to devastate your investments, keep you from buying a house with money you saved – not just make it harder to buy the newest iphone.

I was telling my mom about this economic reality – advocating that the business we work for not wait for the chain, but raise prices (and wages) early, and stalwartly defend the decision by educating any unreasoning customers. But it is only tonight that I discovered the winners at the front of the chain, losers at the end effect has a name: the Cantillon Effect.

I read a substack article about the economic rule and its creator, Richard Cantillon. (Disclaimer – the article linked contains some coarse language.) Among other things, the author, Matthew Crawford, points out, “Note also how the American economy benefits from this system at the expense of the rest of the world. By virtue of being closer in economic relationship to the money printers, most Americans win, or lose small enough…” I encourage you to read it (even if you skip the formula and don’t spend too much time deciphering jargon or looking up names). The Cantillon Effect is Currency Slavery

One way, not mentioned in the article, to reduce the power of the Cantillon Effect is to have a higher percentage of things produced and services rendered be non-transactional. Grow your own food. Neighbors help neighbors fix their fences, or get rides to the airport. Make meals for widows. Grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends mind children. Have enough people in your household to care for your home: mowing, shoveling snow, cleaning, weeding, painting, minor repairs. Preserve what you have through maintenance or carefulness. The less you are using money, the less power inflation has over your life (and wealth).

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn


It’s been coming up a lot lately: this tension between knowing God has already given us so much more than we deserve, so to be content with what we have – but also seeing that there are things broken or out of place in our world and lives and for it to be ok to desire healing and progress towards the ideal – while accepting it if God keeps us living somewhere short of perfect through no fault of our own.

Like a lesser example would be food. We are wretches deserving eternity in hell. Instead God gives us new life in Christ and on top of that, daily bread. For this we should be thankful. But also if our bread lacks the nutrition God designed our bodies to thrive on, or if the pesticides used to grow the wheat cause toxicity in our bodies – it is ok to want different food. It could be argued it is good to pursue different food. But if all the food we can get is that same bread – or a little better bread, but still not all the way to the nutrition that would be optimal, God is still faithful and generous and we can trust Him.

I think it is just hard to sort out what times we’re being tempted to wicked discontentment and what times we’re being prompted to go after changes, and if we are, how much of our energy we should put into that. Maybe we ideally need more rain, more back rubs, more time praising God with our friends. And maybe God wants us to endure lack, to find our sufficiency in Christ, to know the supremacy in our hearts of His love. Or maybe He wants us to work less hours or scroll less Facebook and host more worship gatherings? Maybe, at the very least, He wants us to ask Him for the things we perceive that we need.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Some Facebook friends got me thinking about turning the other cheek this week, and whether it could possibly apply to sexual abuse. Obviously our impulse is to say NO! But I wanted more than a feeling to justify this interpretation, and today I thought of one. Turning the other cheek isn’t participating in violence. Giving your tunic to the thief stealing your coat is generosity, not participating in the theft. But if you comply with sex it’s consent and participating in the wicked thing. So I don’t think it would be right to go along with sexual abuse for the sake of meekness and forbearance.

I also think that Jesus’ command didn’t prohibit reporting criminal or sinful behavior to relevant authorities.

I do maintain, after all the above, that Jesus’ command is a radical call to patiently endure unjust suffering. I think of Corrie and Betsy ten Boom who endured enslavement in a Nazi prison camp – and faithfully tried to obey Jesus by praying for their enemies and being ready to forgive them. Jesus, I believe, called them to turn their cheeks to the soldiers dehumanizing, starving, and beating them.

And, in lesser circumstances, we have all experienced moments with friends, family, coworkers that were not edifying, were rude, where the other was self serving at our expense. And Jesus’ commands do not leave room for us to respond with defensiveness or self-serving actions of our own. What is best for those toxic people, those boundary-tramplers? Maybe they would be served by a firm enforcement of boundaries. Or maybe where they are at in God’s story for them needs more patience and forbearance, letting our generosity be taken advantage of.

One thing I keep in mind discerning these things is whether ignoring boundary violations from one person towards me would endanger someone else I am called to love and serve (and consider whether God wants that to be my priority in this instance).

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Once upon a time just over a year ago I was out for a drive with my brother and his wife. We were off the beaten path (not on the Interstate), and found ourselves winding through hills and valleys that did not seem like Colorado to us, but maybe more like Sweden or somewhere old and less industrial where sheep may bleat down the path. It was greener than Colorado usually is. 

I tried to go back a few weeks later, but couldn’t find our route. I still found some unfenced fields, which blows my mind in America, and I took some pictures. 

This year I did more research on Google, and I am still not sure if I found the same special sights, but it was lovely. Obviously experience is better than pictures, but I wanted to share them, because in searching for evidence we weren’t just dreaming, the internet had precious little to show for this part of the world. I think it is partly in Greenland Open Space, or near there, and the especially beautiful parts (to me) were on Upper Lake Gulch Road. Some of the earlier route was also near Castlewood Canyon south of Franktown. And the later section is a long north-south road called Perry Park (maybe Highway 105). The towns I drove between to get my photo journal were Franktown, Larkspur, Sedalia, and Littleton/Englewood. 

After the pictures I am putting the directions for the route I traveled. Go in early spring for better green, but after winter or else Upper Lake Gulch Road might be closed. 

Mainstreet & Parker in Parker, Colorado

Parker to Hilltop, turn east

Hilltop to Flintwood, turn south

Flintwood to 86, turn north

Short stint on 86 to 1st left on Deerfield, turn west

Deerfield to Russelvile, turn south

Russelville to 83, turn northwest

83 to Lake Gulch, turn west

Lake Gulch 3.3 miles to Garton, turn south

Garton 1.8.miles to Upper Lake Gulch, turn south

Upper Lake Gulch turns sharply west

Upper Lake Gulch under 1-25 to Spruce Mountain Rd, turn south

Larkspur, Colorado

Spruce Mountain to Perry Park, turn northwest

Perry Park Ave to 105 (Perry Park Rd), turn north

105 18 miles to 67/Manhart Ave, turn north

Sedalia, Colorado

67 .6 miles to 85, turn north

85 16 miles to Hampden, turn east

Englewood, Colorado

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn


My friends taught me to play a board game which starts with each player dividing 100 into three categories: fame, happiness, and wealth.

What if I divided 24 hour vacation days into my own preferred formula? I think I want to sit with my toes skimming the surface of a lake or stream, reading a novel. But if I could choose, I wouldn’t do that all day, and may even do it only one or two hours a day. Because I would also like to hike in a forest. I would want to converse beside a fire drinking something warm. And cook and eat delicious food. Window shop. Play games. Talk some more. Maybe look around at a museum or a few old and beautiful buildings. Maybe take a scenic drive. Watch some rain or clouds or a sunset. Pray. Journal. Maybe write.

And, acknowledging that work is a blessing and calling of life, how would I incorporate such refreshing things into non-vacation life? With what proportions? Adding in investing in community and ministry and weekly chores and job chores?

And if TV and crafts and scrolling Facebook are not on my recreation list, shouldn’t I limit how much time and space I give them in any of my life?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of longbourn


There’s this cooperative game called Hanabi (that I love), where, in order to play a card, you are dependent on hints other players have given you. I decided early on to play with hope. I will hope that my fellow players gave me good hints and didn’t neglect to give me necessary hints. It can backfire when the constraints of the game limit the available hints, and so my fellow players were between a rock and a hard place. …

Anyway. When a person is first learning, a lot of times they don’t know what hints are the most important, or how to give good ones, or maybe they do, but they don’t know the kind of player I am and how I will respond. And so my preference for playing hopefully may be reckless for one round of play. It may leave the hint-er feeling like a failure. (I am disinclined to consider myself the failure.) Hanabi is a game for playing more than once. It is a game for learning people. In watching me respond in a certain way, even if we crashed and burned, now that player knows more about communicating with me in the future.

And one of the humbling beauties of the game is that not only are they learning how I play; I am also learning about how they give hints. So we adapt to each other. I probably won’t stop playing with hope just to adapt to a cautious strategy, but I may adapt to the things they evidently meant to communicate, and the things they think are priorities.

Yeah. But this morning I was thinking about the willingness to teach through failure. In the movie Penelope, a young woman goes to a bar for the first time and the bartender slides her a beer, but she watches it slide on off the counter. “You’re supposed to catch it,” he smiles at the crashed glass, and pours her another, which he slides to her in a second attempt. More than likely, he thought she’d figure it out the first time. Definitely expected her to not let another one hurdle off the end of the counter. But he didn’t have each of his customers go through orientation. He didn’t show them diagrams and examples. He didn’t hold the first beer a few inches from their hand and then give it a slow push to slide gently into the hand he’d made sure was waiting for the pint. He risked trust. He risked wasted beer and broken glass and embarassment.

I’m not going to just play it safe and have a mediocre game. I’m going to play like I think it should be played, and lose very badly a few times in order to become really great players and get great scores more consistently. I guess I could explain things out, train the game before playing (thinking especially of teaching kids), but that kind of defeats what is to me one of the objects of the game: to practice paying enough attention to other people, and putting your fate in their hands, to communicate and cooperate better and better.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn


I cried tonight. I didn’t expect it. I was watching a movie that wasn’t sad, that didn’t have me in the least feeling teary, and it ended without anyone dying, and I remembered something I told someone earlier in the day, that I didn’t feel very deeply when I said it. And I just cried. 

I mean, I know that I have had a long and overwhelming few weeks. I know that the whole world feels like it is inevitably sliding toward the brink. I know that I have sadness that is not depression that hasn’t been all the way dealt with. Not that I feel like it’s holding me back; I have a job, after all. I gather and laugh and pray and work and even occasionally meet new people. There was Covid. There still is the strangely rapid totalitarian takeover that is sort of called Covid. I think there’s a lot of sadness in me about that. I know that “captivated by hope” is not currently the best descriptor of me. 

But the tears did surprise me. Hard tears, real crying for a minute or two. Tears that have to do with actual hard things in my actual life, and not just pulled out of me by a sad movie or another person’s struggle. 

Earlier today I told someone I work with that I had wanted twelve kids. 

My job is fine. It’s a job. It’s work that I don’t feel is completely meaningless. I’m probably overqualified, but no one would really know that from a resume. (Not that there are things I don’t know, like how to make the e in resume have that little accent line over it to distinguish it from picking up where we left off.) I actually work really hard, much harder than is strictly necessary, at my job. I try to find ways to make it better, whether it would particularly benefit me or not. 

So after I cried, I was wondering. If I’d had twelve kids and a household by now, that would be an enormous task. I’d probably have cried more over the years. But I wonder if I put so much into my job because I really believe I’m capable of doing more – you know, like wrangling a whole big family. 

I got to be on a team this week. My little sister and her husband own their first house, and I was helping them fix it up by handling a drill and a hammer and all sorts of other things I am vastly underqualified to do. One day in particular a fellow volunteer was someone I’d served with years ago at a ministry, and it brought back fond memories of that teamwork. No joke; I was so grateful to get to be on a team with him again. 

Another team member from that ministry back in the day has had a life really different from what I expected. He’s been doubting things he taught others about Jesus back then. And suffering from life and human betrayals in a way that is undoubtedly all knotted up with the other doubts. That makes me sad. Ecclesiastes says not to wish that we were back in the former days, romanticizing the past. How do you do that when the former days held so much that today doesn’t? People have literally died. Marriages are broken. Doors are closed on hopes. Friends moved away. Comrades in Christ have professed not to trust Him anymore. What is that? 

I know how to obey Ecclesiastes. It’s like a friend was texting me recently: to look to God, to think about Him and His plan and what we know He’s doing. Hours before the crying, I was thinking about that. There is this book I really like but haven’t read in a few years, and the author weaves in glimpses to the plots of demons, like Screwtape Letters, and then the readers get to see their evil plots unfolding, everything going according to plan, and it is horrible, but it is so good for me, because as the story goes on, it so happens that there is a bigger plan by a more powerful Person, and that it is actually His will going according to plan, so that the end the demons hoped for is completely thwarted. In the immediate future, I cannot imagine what bigger plan is going on. But I do know that in the very end the end we hope for is true. The King comes on a white horse, vanquishing enemies and making a home for His beloved faithful, receiving His own due reward and desire. 

I got to work early this morning, and turned on our Pandora while I got things set up. I picked a different station, and was surprised that it played me hymns. I changed it to less overtly religious music when we opened, but it was so nice to have a quiet ten or fifteen minutes being reminded “which, wert, and art and evermore shall be.” 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Two Fields

Once upon a time there were two fields and two farmers. One field was fertile, and the farmer who lived there worked diligently to plant crops, care for them, and harvest. His harvests were so abundant that he made more than he and his family needed. The second field was sandy and dry. Harvests tended to be small, and many years there wasn’t enough to feed the farmer and his family. Their generous neighbors shared some of their excess, and the poor farmer’s family didn’t starve. 

Then along came a central planner one year. He noted how unfair it was that one farmer had better harvests than the other farmer. To solve this problem, he decided that the farmer with the good field must share half of his planting seeds with the other farmer.

So both farmers set to planting. And they tended their fields. They watered. They watched. When the time came, they reaped. Where before there had been a bounty, there food still grew. It wasn’t as much. The first farmer’s family would be a little hungry that year. On the other field, hardly any food was harvested. This farmer had grown a tiny bit more than before, but still not anywhere close to enough to feed his family. And the previously prosperous farm had none to share. The second farmer gave all the food he could to his children. He and his wife died that winter. 

Central planners all over are inviting us to repeat this story. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn