Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Depression and Thankfulness

I was going to write a post about all the things I am thankful for.

And then I got depressed.

Depression is a bit like a cold. Some depressions are like mild colds, and some are like bad colds. You get through them. It helps when you realize what they are.

I think.

Sort of.


Being depressed is like having to fight like crazy not to have a bad attitude about everything and everyone. You feel envious of people who are happy, energetic, focused and in possession of goals. But you know you should not be jealous, and this makes you miserable, which increases your sense of depression, compounding it with guilt.

If you didn't realize that you should not be jealous, you would not feel the guilt, but then you would sink even deeper into bitter jealously, so ultimately it's a lose-lose situation. Although I suppose God can --at some point-- use the guilt to motivate you towards a productive action.

You look at the carpet that you have been trying to get replaced in your house for the past five years or so (give or take), and you go back to bed with a lump in your throat. When you get up again, you are even farther behind and that also makes you feel worse.

You are thankful. You are.

At least, I am.

I am thankful that I have great kids and a faithful husband with a steady job.

I am thankful that I live in a relatively nice, safe neighborhood in a house with a decent roof and insulation, in a home where I find consistent shelter from the outside world.

I am thankful that we have enough good food, cars that work, money for gas, and clothing to wear. Also, I am thankful for nubby socks--particularly the ones without holes.

I am thankful for my dishwasher, my washing machine, my vacuum and especially my hot water heater.

I am delightedly thankful for our gas fireplace, hot showers, cozy blankets, my cobalt blue tea kettle and my white teapot with the blue flowers.

I am thankful for my new church and new friends there. I am thankful for old friends, too. I am usually thankful for my dogs.

I am thankful for beautiful music, flowers, sunshine and newborn babies.

I should be overwhelmedly thankful for Jesus and the fact that He came to earth and died for my sins, rose again and is planning a glorious eternal future for me in heaven. I would be more thankful for that if I could wrap my mind around it better.

I have no real reason to be depressed.

It's just kind of like having a cold, and it will pass.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday -- ha

(Thanksgiving flowers)

Shawn says Black Friday doesn't exist in his world.

DJ says that Black Friday means we pull the shades and sleep until noon in the dark.

DJ also pointed out the irony that Americans supposedly spend all day Thursday giving thanks for the great abundance they are blessed with, and then roll up their sleeves to hit the malls on Friday, willing to draw blood and mow down their neighbors in their to-the-death competition to procure more stuff.

After cooking and cleaning up the turkey feast, I can't imagine who has energy to shop after Thanksgiving. Maybe it is the people who eat their dinner at a restaurant and thus (after receiving the bill) are desperate to save money on their Christmas gifts? I was exhausted last night, but blessedly able to sleep. I woke up at 8 and still felt like it was about 3 a.m. -- except for the bright sun streaming in around the edges of my window shades. I went back to bed.

We didn't sleep until noon, only about 10:00. I breakfasted on tea, leftover turkey, leftover pie, and citrus fruit.

It was a good Thanksgiving. We had the same menu as always, but we ate off the every-day dishes instead of the china. The turkey and praline squash were better than last year, and the Waldorf salad was not quite as good.

(pies, and me making praline squash in the background)

Speaking of the turkey... that was thirty pounds of deliciousness. Actually, I thought it was 29.88 lbs, so I've been happily calling it a 30 lb. turkey without any remorse. But I noticed on the label yesterday that it was actually 28.99 pounds, so I guess I was exaggerating more than I thought in my number-rounding process. But it was a gargantuan turkey.

A friend offered to loan me a turkey roaster. I don't think we could have done this project without that roaster. The turkey was technically too big, but I lined the sides with buttered aluminum foil where the turkey was plastered against them. The lid went on, and that was what mattered.

(topped the roaster with a towel to insulate)

I read up on roasting in a roaster, and applied a melange of the advice I found.

(1) I rinsed the turkey, rubbed it with olive oil, and sprinkled it with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, plenty of sage, and a bit of thyme and rosemary. I put plenty of the seasonings into the cavity.

(2) I coarsely chopped and/or quartered some onions, celery, a granny-smith apple and a lemon and stuffed them into the cavity as well.

(3) We put about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. Sources differ as to whether they recommend this step, but I wanted to be sure to have something for gravy.

(4) We placed the turkey in the roaster with the buttered foil along the sides.

(5) We turned the roaster up to nearly the highest setting and "seared" the turkey for 30 minutes.

(6) We roasted the turkey for 2 hours at 325, and then 4.5 more hours at 350, never lifting the lid once to check until seven hours had been completed.

Upon opening the roaster, the first thing I noticed was the leg meat falling from the leg bones. I thought perhaps it would be overcooked and dried out. But it was a the tenderest, moistest, most flavorful turkey I've ever had, except perhaps when I've brined them.

The first few bites were so delicious. Unfortunately, I got full practically before I even tasted some of everything. But you know, "there's always tomorrow..."

(DJ after eating his fill)

So I guess this post is more about Thanksgiving than it is about Black Friday. And I am glad, because I think that's the way it ought to be.

(The guys raked the rest of the leaves...)

(...and watched football.)

Lulu took pictures.

We ate our first meal in the dining room since we repainted this past summer. That is sparkling cider, non-alcoholic, and it was a delicious complement to the meal.

It was nice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

All's well

My kids are all at home.

Last night, it felt so good to go to bed knowing that every bedroom was occupied. Every person was present and accounted for. Six sets of DNA-sharing lungs would be breathing the air in this very house, all night long.

I fell asleep listening to them bantering out in the hall about whose turn it was in the bathroom. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Today we had a family photo shoot with a family friend who is a wonderful photographer. We walked around on this perfect fall day amongst crunchy leaves, brick buildings, metal bridges, park benches and grassy banks on the side of a canal. Our photographer took tons of pictures, and we laughed, climbed, and leaned against one another.

At the end we were chilly, so we warmed up with some fancy coffee drinks in a trendy little coffee shop, and we were just so together, so completely and totally all there. Jon smiled, DJ was nonchalant, Laura wondered how long it takes to get into NYC from Shannon's apartment, and Shannon talked to Shawn about visiting her when he goes east on business, and how she knows a place where they can get all-you-can-eat sushi for $20.

Now they are all at the phone store because Jon gets his first phone today, and the rest all want upgrades.

And I'd better come up with a dinner plan...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday season

The longest gaps in my posts are when there is the most going on in real life. Shannon is home now, and we're praying that Lulu-belle will arrive home safe tonight.

It's kind of weird how one's blog is quiet when one's life is full, but it makes sense.

Wegman's has turkeys for 48 cents per pound with a $25 purchase. I've been hitting Wegman's more lately, so each time I go I can get a turkey. I believe I've bought four turkeys so far! I'd like to get one more, and then I can roast one per month until spring. How is that for a fun way to pass the winter months?

The other day I took Jon with me on my turkey run. (I call it a turkey run when I go out to spend $25 and get a cheap turkey--and I don't feel guilty, because Wegman's is getting a lot of business out of me through this offer, business that otherwise would be going to Aldi.)

So Jon and I were walking toward the freezer case that holds the turkeys, and I said, "Do you want to get a medium one, or a big one?"

Of course he said he wanted a big one. I saw a 20 pounder and said, "How about that?" He considered it and told me, "Well, the one underneath it is a whole lot bigger." He dug out the really big one, and it was very nearly 30 pounds. I tried to talk him out of it. I don't know if my oven is even big enough to roast a bird that big. Oven roasting bags only hold turkeys up to 24 pounds. I was very dubious of this scheme.

He won. There is a 30 pound turkey thawing in the bottom of my refrigerator.

I hope the plastic wrapper doesn't leak.

I borrowed a turkey roaster from a friend. If the turkey doesn't fit in this contraption, we're up a creek.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Song lyrics

I've written a number of times about my concerns regarding the lack of theological substance, correctness and completeness in many Contemporary Christian Music choruses.

There are some good modern songs, though. Here are links to a few of the ones that touch my heart meaningfully:

How Deep the Father's Love

In Christ Alone

The Gospel Song

All I Have is Christ


It is not about when a song was written, whether it is a new song or an old song. It is about:

(1) What kind of truth do the lyrics of the song proclaim about the Lord?

(2) Does the form of the song (the way it sounds and feels) support the meaning that it is trying to communicate?

In other words, the song needs to have good, solid truth in it, to begin with. And then, the melody and the rhythm need to underscore and spotlight this truth, rather than distracting attention away from the lyrics. Even a really good song can be ruined by a distracting drumbeat, although I recognize that this statement drifts dangerously close to matters of personal taste. Still, it is something to beware.

Aside: I was once in a choir that sang a song with lyrics that proclaimed,
It was a great thing that He did for me!
It was a great thing that He did for me!
Jesus died on Calvary,
for the whole wide world to see!
It was a great thing that He did for me!

Now, this is all absolutely true and good and right. However, the song was sung to a loud, catchy, swinging country gospel tune. I'd say it was rollicking. If the song had been about the resurrection, it might have been appropriate. But singing in such a sing-song, hee-haw, kick-up-your-heels-and-dance style about the crucifixion of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ... well, it always made me cringe. Quite a bit.

Lyrics are important. Words are important. If Jesus is the Word of God, made flesh to dwell among us (John 1), then words are important. People who say, "You just think too much," are copping out, and the Emperor has no clothes.

I just wanted to write about this today because there is an old hymn that I have never liked, since I was a child, and this morning I thought of an analogy for why I do not like it.

I do not like the song, "The Old Rugged Cross." Here are the lyrics in particular that I do not like:

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

It has a nice, heartfelt hymn melody, so in these days when hymns are sung somewhat rarely, especially if it comes up in the middle of a head-banging set of contemporary music, I can get lulled into a sense of well-being by the melody before I realize that I do not like the words.

But really? "I'll cherish the old rugged cross..."? How about if I cherish JESUS, who died a horrible death on the old rugged cross? The cross itself was a terrible thing, the thing I'd have had to experience if Jesus had not sacrificed Himself for me on it.

The analogy I thought of: Imagine a young man who has to work for a living in a terrible machine factory. In this factory, his bosses beat him and insult him daily, working him to the bone. Day after day, in the ear-splitting din of crashing metal parts, he lifts and carries large, awkward, heavy, sharp-edged metal pieces from one end of the factory to the other. He has no hope. He is miserable, and he can't afford to quit, or he will starve.

Then, suppose his mother learns of his predicament. She moves across the country to live with him, and she goes to work in the factory for him, enduring all the harsh treatment and excruciating labor to earn money for her son, which she gives to him so he can go to college and earn a degree and get a better job.

At the end of it all, when the young man has received his college degree, paid his college bills, and begun a new job, does he say... "I love the old machine factory!"

I think not.

And neither do I love "the old cross." I love Jesus. I am grateful that He died for my sins. I appreciate with all my heart what Jesus did for me on the cross. But I do not love the cross. It is almost like saying that you love Hell, because Jesus saved you from it. That would just be ridiculous.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Identifying the problem

I am trying to clean, and it is totally stressing me out.

I had to take a break.

Part of the problem, I think, is that in order for me to make things look nice, I have to take apart and hide all our haphazard systems for living and paying bills and cooking and studying. When it is aesthetically pleasing around here, it is entirely non-functional. Both of these scenarios (living in squalor vs. living in an aesthetic but non-functioning environment) cause me no end of stress, but the clean-to-dysfunction is killing me right now. It could be months before we find some of the things I am squirreling out of sight today, even though I am trying very hard to do this logically.

(side note: When things get lost, Shawn plays a game where he says, "Hmmmm. I'm Ruth. Now, where would I put the [--insert name of missing object--] if I were trying to store it in a logical place?" I can never find things this way, but he often does, which is uncanny, but I have been telling him for nearly 25 years that it is his job to read my mind, and I guess he has learned how in certain instances.)

I long for a house that is both aesthetic and functional... where I have real places to keep (not hide) the things I am working on, and I can find things readily without just piling all the important stuff in one very obvious and unaesthetic place, and bills do not get lost and I don't forget to return my library books before they are overdue.