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I finished a couple books that I haven’t reviewed yet.  One was by G.K. Chesterton, a genius who despised Protestants without ever really disagreeing with them.  Ok, but that’s not why I was reading him.  He wrote about marriage, home, and family, with great common sense.  Sometimes we say insight, and we mean something little.  I want to say prophetic in that intangible, surreal sense, but that’s strange.  He got into an issue and saw outside of it so that he could make points that should be so obvious, but none of the rest of us could see because we were busy arguing the points the wrong people were making to distract us from our strongest case.  So that was good, and beautiful, and challenging. 
 
Side note here to transition into the next book review.  I love reading books because they inspire me, make me think, or challenge me.  Books, unlike the majority of people I know, will tell me what I’m doing wrong and what I ought to do.  This is why I read books about relationships.  Maybe I’ll be burned by thinking I have all the answers, but in the mean time it makes me want to live a life preparing for the ideal romance and marriage – if I could just figure out what ideal was.  And for the moment, I have no firm idea of what an ideal man looks like to me either.  I think I have to meet him.  It’s like The Witch of Blackbird Pond says: Kit had to stop planning and start waiting.  The reason was, she would find out, a lot of these details are not a lady’s to figure, but the gentleman’s.  Letting other people make the decisions when they affect you is hard, but relaxing.  I did a lot of that this week. 
 
So I did just finish The Witch of Blackbird Pond, making a whole two books I’ve read with “Witch” in the title.  The first was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a book that my mom probably first read to me, and then I read it.  When your mom gives you a book as a kid, you think there could be nothing wrong with it.  That’s a good reason for rereading books when you’re smarter.  (So many people like CS Lewis, but his theology wasn’t always biblical; he never bothered to study the Bible, I think.)  Anyway, I would never have picked up this book either, but for a friend recommending it and saying how real the characters were.  It came from my library’s young adult section, which I think is sad because adults are not encouraged to read these really good books that would do them more good than they do kids.  It was short, though, so it would have looked strange next to the three hundred page hardbacks in the adult section. 
 
I’d say the book is about making choices, and the freedom that comes from doing the right thing even when you don’t understand what’s going on.  And it has to do with contentment and waiting and hard work.  I see my friend, who recommended the book, in the pages.  It’s the kind of thing she would like and live – and the kind of thing I would like and try to live. 
 
So some people think I’m perfect.  I don’t know what I have to do to convince them I’m not.  What’s more, they think I’ll despise them for their weaknesses or desires.  All my life I’ve determined not to forget who I was and what it was like to be younger.  For example, I remember how very serious everything was in my life, and how sure I was of my ideas, and even now it isn’t so much that I was wrong as that I didn’t see the whole picture.  I desperately wanted someone to help me out with the big picture, but I guess not enough because I wouldn’t ask anyone.  This to say that I wanted to remember feeling those things so that I could relate to young people.  And I never wondered how I would clue kids in that I knew: that I hadn’t forgotten, that even though I’m not entirely normal, I had some of the universal experiences. 
 
I think of some of my friends not so much as perfect, but as good.  They love Jesus and they are willing to make right choices – the kind that don’t radically mess up their lives – but they struggle with the choices, and sometimes fail.  My friend who likes Blackbird Pond is one of those.  And now that I think about it, that’s probably one of the things I’m looking for in the man I’ll marry: that he’ll be good (but as Anne says, with the capability of wickedness which he denies) but struggle, and sometimes fail.  I’ve never loved a person before I knew some of their faults.  Weird, huh? 
 
So even novels I read, even the romantic ones that send me to long drives talking to God about waiting and “Where is he?” – are challenging.  Because The Witch of Blackbird Pond was about waiting and serving and looking at what is and what I can do instead of what might be or isn’t and what I can’t do (yet), and because it came packaged in a daydreamy story, I’m inspired.  Now if only I wasn’t so exhausted from a trip across two time zones… 
 
And the number one question on my mind is what to read next.  Seriously, I have a stack.  But I didn’t have to tell you that again, did I? 
 
Hey – in case you’re one of those people who thinks I’m perfect, I’m going to confess.  Maybe I should have confession Fridays or something.  = )  How’s that for a blog series?  Anyway, we were at the beach and I was feeling dreadful, but our group was taking pictures, and as I threw down my hat and jacket on the sand, I exclaimed that I had no idea how I looked, and asked a dear friend if I looked beautiful.  The other night she’d told me I did when I, a reflection recently refreshed in my memory, did not think so.  But honestly.  How immodest.  To beg for flattery even just privately from her would have been wrong.  In front of everyone?  Arg.  Not perfect.  Proud.  Vain.  Immodest.  Quick-tongued.  Self-focused.  Didn’t do personal devotions all week either.  I thought it was ok, and it was in an anti-legalist sense, but I think it would have helped to hear from Jesus. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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On a chilly day in late autumn or winter, a lazy day when you “get around to” lunch at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, on a grey day when no sunlight dares cheer your kitchen, what you need is the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, and the homescent exercise of preparing one. 

 

What is a perfect grilled cheese sandwich?  There are three ingredients to a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.  Bread is the first ingredient.  When the sandwich is done, the bread is crisp, light brown, and buttery on the outside while remaining mostly soft on the inside, moving toward cheesiness nearer the center of the sandwich.  Cheese is of course the second ingredient.  At eating the cheese should be liquid in the middle, with the soft rubbery texture of cooled cheese on the edges.  Finally the crowning ingredient to a perfect grilled cheese sandwich is the margarine that coats, for full effect, the surface that will touch your tongue.  After grilling, the margarine should be fully melted and resting in the crevices of the toasted bread.  

 

How to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich using my stove.*  Turn on one of the burners to medium high and immediately place a pan on top.  Let it preheat while you prepare the sandwich.  Take two relatively thick  (3/4 inch) pieces of wheat sandwich bread and spread a thin layer of margarine over ONE side of each slice.  Place butter-sides together.  On top of this pre-sandwich, place one slice of Velveeta cheese (pre-sliced or self-sliced).  Check temperature of pan by flicking room temperature water into the pan.  If the drops bounce and sizzle quickly away, the pan is preheated.  Lift the pan and use a non-stick cooking spray to coat it.  Replace on stove. 

 

All together take the top slice of bread and the cheese on top of it.  Lift straight off the second slice of bread and set gently in the pan.  Add the top slice of bread in the same way, ensuring that the buttered side is on top.  Have ready a spatula for turning the sandwich.  After about two minutes, flip the entire sandwich.  At this point the cheese is not melted to the bread, so your sandwich will fall apart if you do not flip it quickly.  Align pieces of bread, and ensure that no cheese is protruding over the new bottom slice of bread.  If new top is now golden-brown, that side is done.  Turn down stove to just above medium.  Continue to cook for about two minutes.  If both sides are golden brown, use spatula to remove from pan.  If either is not golden brown, place that side down in the pan and cook for 30 seconds to one minute more. 

 

At this point your sandwich should match the description at the top.  I would not recommend slicing the sandwich, as it compresses the bread you intentionally left soft in the middle.  My favorite serving suggestion is to add slices of grilled chicken such as you would put in a chicken salad, only warm, buttered**, and spiced (at least with pepper).  Have oranges for the side and drink grape juice, preferably in a glass cup. 

Lady with Electric Stove, Retro
Lady with Electric Stove, Retro

 

*If you are not using my stove, temperatures and times may vary.  The idea is that you cook the outside quickly enough to make it crisp and golden brown without drying the inside of the bread.  One difficulty in this is that at the same time you must be melting the cheese, so you must find a balance.  Heating the sandwich in the microwave because the cheese was insufficiently melted is very unsatisfactory, as it turns the crisp outside edges of the sandwich soft. 

 

**A health conscious person may decline butter in this instance and rather increase the herbs and spices to taste.  For this I recommend one’s favorite blend of Mrs. Dash. 

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When there is No Perfect Word

What to do when you need a word and find none that means exactly what you intend:

  1. Use poetry to circumscribe your meaning.
  2. Employ a simile to make a series of direct comparisons.
  3. Blog a new word (that sounds good!) into existence, and use it anyway:

Homescent – completely reminiscent of home, domestic in aura only, something commonplace yet sacred that would be done on a family vacation, or on a Saturday when the to-do list is done, spreading an attitude of peace like the smell of bread baking spreads through a house, having the essence of simplicity and love

A rebellion against the word “homey” which is no more in the dictionary than my word, and which sounds nothing like the actual sentimental experience of homescence. If it were a dead scene, merely visual, one might say quaint. The sound alone might be “familiar.” Yet the word for which we wander encompasses the entire progressive experience, the interaction between all those senseable aspects and the soul, the will-ing, moving participant in life.

Title Page of Volume I of the English Dictionary by Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-84), Pub. in 1755
Title Page of Volume I of the English Dictionary by Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-84), Pub. in 1755

Two more words:
Senseable – able to be sensed using: sight, hearing, touch, taste, or smell

Will-ing – the act of choosing to do something; this action always produces effort. Not to be confused with willing, a state of agreement or potential choice (like the difference between kinetic – will-ing – energy and potential – willing – energy).To God be all glory.

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