Tuesday, June 20

Do my Irishmen come cheaper by the dozen?

I’ve discovered that part of the joy of rereading favorite childhood books based on real-life events is finding out more about the “true story.” What did Pa and Ma and Laura and Mary Ingalls really look like? The internet has made this kind of information much easier to find. Just do a Google image search and you’ll see that Pa really did have wild hair. (Ignore the Michael Landon pictures.)

Tonight I will finish Cheaper By the Dozen, another “based on a true story” book. My best friend Paula and I loved this story when we were growing up, so reading it makes me think of her. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth raise a family of 12 children, employing themselves as guinea pigs in motion study and efficiency. Mr. Gilbreth’s irrepressible sense of humor is unforgettable, and the book is still funny.

This time through, I realized just how intelligent and influential in the world of engineering both Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth were. Google their names and you’ll find articles about their contributions to motion study. I get the idea that much of what we take for granted about how things work today is due to theirs and others work. That garbage can with a foot pedal, for example…

I found that Daniel Gilbreth, the fourth of the six sons, died at age 88 last week. Ernestine, Fred and Bob are the remaining three of The Dozen. The picture above shows them at The Shoe, their summer home in Nantucket, which was made from two lighthouses that were moved to flank another house.

I’ve been told that once you have three children, they take up all your time anyway, so why stop there?

Thursday, June 15

Martha, Martha

In Brian Habig’s final message at RUF Summer Conference, he read this quote from a book called Between Walden and the Whirlwind by Jean M. Fleming.
In the twenty-some years I’ve been a Christian, I’ve received instruction on and been challenged to read my Bible daily, pray without ceasing, do in-depth Bible study regularly, memorize scripture, meditate day and night, fellowship with other believers, always be ready to give an answer to the questioning unbeliever, give to missions and to the poor, work as unto the Lord, use my time judiciously, give thanks in all circumstances, serve the body using my gifts to edify others, keep a clean house as a testimony, practice gracious hospitality, submit to my husband, love and train my children, disciple other women, manage finances as a good steward, involve myself in school and community activities, develop and maintain non-Christian friendships, stimulate my mind with careful reading, improve my health through diet and exercise, color coordinate my wardrobe, watch my posture, and “simplify my life by baking my own bread.”
Those of us with perfectionist natures know just what she means. I have wondered the same thing many times (minus the husband and kids part): How in the world can I do all of this and do it well? It is easy to compare ourselves against the strengths of others and feel that we're not measuring up. Habig went on to preach on Jesus' visit to Mary and Martha's house in Luke 10. He pointed out something that I'd not thought of: how countercultural it was for Mary to sit at the rabbi's feet and learn from him. Meanwhile, Martha, who truly does believe Jesus is the Christ, is feeling the pressure to meet a standard of hospitality. But where did the pressure come from? Jesus didn't create it. It's in her own head, coming from a cultural expectation. The only thing that will make the voices of perfectionism stop, Brian Habig says, is knowing that all your doing put Jesus on the cross, and that the cloak of his righteousness is on you instead.

Listen to it here.

Friday, June 9

Slow summer

It seems that most of us are taking a summer vacation from blogging. I don't have anything insightful to say, but here's an update for my faithful readers (hey, Mama!).

While I was eating my blueberries and wheat chex outside this morning, a bug fell into my cereal bowl. That was a lot to deal with so early in the morning, but I managed to fish him out and deposit him in the trash.

I've been listening to Brian Habig's RUF Summer Conference messages on the iTunes podcast, which prompted me to make a library trip for Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor. Maybe Habig is a great speaker, or maybe he just knows how to pull from the best sources—either way, I've been enjoying these.

Last night I finished A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle and started Leaving Cold Sassy, the unfinished sequel to Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. Also in progress: Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. My brother and I read these in elementary school, and it is a relief to discover that yes, they're still funny. As long as I keep reading from the children's section, I'll make my 50 Books A Year goal easy!

Four words: Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos. I first saw this recipe on indie/Indelible Grace musician Katy Bowser's website ages ago and have been making them ever since. Beans, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat tortillas—so much fiber goodness that there's cheese on top to keep things from getting out of hand. If you make them, use less water than it calls for and let me know if you use the prepared mustard, because I don’t even know what it is.