Monday, March 31, 2008

Respectable Sins

I just finished reading Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. We had Jerry at our fall Bible conference last year, and this book was his newest release. I promptly bought it, and then began hearing how convicting it was from my friends who read it right away. I knew that I needed to read it, but kept putting it off in favor of books that wouldn't be so painful to read!
Well, painful it was. It seems that Mr. Bridges doesn't name a single "respectable" sin that I don't struggle with. The term "respectable sins" comes from, of course, those sins which we tend to forget are sinful, or that we tolerate in an air of pride because we don't commit those BIG sins that the rest of the world does. We don't commit adultry, we don't lie (at least not overtly), we aren't guilty of assult with a deadly weapon, but we do act selfishly, we are discontent and we sin with our tongue daily (at least I know I do).
J.I. Packer endorses the book with this quote: "Read this book - we need to - and be ready for a gentle surgeon's sharp knife." And that is exactly how I percieve this book. Bridges literally "cuts to the chase" and names our pets sins, shows how abhorrent they are in the sight of a Holy God, and encourages us to confront them, confess them and turn away from practicing them. But the amazing way he does this is worth pointing out: he doesn't only preach to the reader, he uses his own life to show how he often struggles in the same way. He points us continually to the Cross, the only source of true repentance and forgiveness, and continually reminds us that the faith that saves us is the same faith that will sanctify us. In other words, we DO have the power to say no to sin, we DO have the power, through Christ's sacrifice, to change our behavior and to battle those respectable sins.
It is a book worth owning, and reading more than once, to remind us to constantly be searching our own life for "respectable sins." I'm still recovering from his surgery, but thanking God for an author who speaks the truth, even when it hurts.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Breakfast

One of the traditions our church has on Easter morning is to eat breakfast together before the service. It is a wonderful time to fellowship with one another before we worship together.

I'm always looking for great breakfast dishes that are quick and easy to prepare, and I found this recipe a few weeks ago. You fix it the night before and then only have to pop it in the oven the next morning. I thought you might like to try it for your family on a special holiday, or just a relaxing weekend.

Apple-Stuffed French Toast

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup chopped pecans
12 slices Italian bread (1/2 inch thick)
2 large tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
6 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Caramel sauce:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup; cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Pour into a greased 13x9 baking dish; top with half of the pecans, a single layer of bread and remaining pecans. Arrange apples and remaining bread over the top.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned.
In a small saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Serve with French toast.
Yield: 6 servings.

Beyond the delicious breakfast, we had an encouraging sermon about preaching the gospel to ourselves - not only the sacrificial death of Christ, which we usually focus on, but His resurrection, without which, according to I Corinthians 15:14, "our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty." What an excellent reminder.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Doggie Blogs

After reading this, Sadie seriously contemplated obeying her herd instinct in starting a blog, but decided it would interfere too greatly with her sleeping, eating and barking.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Inspired by Sara, I tried to create pigtails out of Alli's wispy, fine, baby hair. Yes, I know they are small and I realize they only stayed in for about 5 minutes, but at least she has enough hair now that I can try!Sooner or later, sweetie-pie, there will be enough for me to make a girly-girl out of you!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

10 Products That Make My Life a Little Better . . .

(in no particular order)
1. My Mary Kay Timewise 3-In-1 Cleanser. I start and end every day with it, and have never used a better product.

2. My dishwand. You know, the tube with a sponge attached that dispenses dishsoap as you wash. I can't remember the last time I filled a sink with water and used a washcloth. It makes for quick clean up for the dishes that can't go (or won't fit) in the dishwasher.

3. Curl refiner hair product. Either Aveda's Be Curly or Redkin's Curl Refiner. Scrunch it in after the shower and my curls stay soft and frizz-free all day. It makes my hair routine take all of 2 minutes.

4. Huggies baby wipes. How did I live without these for so many years? Not only do they clean up after a diaper explosion, but they wipe dirty faces, clean stamps, and remove makeup. What other all-purpose product does this?

5. Carmex. The original, made in Wisconsin product.

6. Tropical Twist Trident. Tasty gum that freshens my breath when needed. My purse is rarely empty of this product.

7. My Kitchenaid mixer. I use it more than I thought I would!

8. Music by Sovereign Grace Ministries. When I listen to music, one of their CD's is almost always my first choice. I haven't heard many other artists whose lyrics are so rich and theological.

9. Berres Bros. Coffee. What can I say - I like Starbucks, but NOTHING beats a hot cup of Highlander Grogg.

10. Settlers of Catan. I haven't tired of this game and haven't met many people who don't love it as much as Dan and I do. We have stayed up late too many nights playing with friends and never regretted it. Wanna come over for a cup of coffee and a game?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

I know that this may shock some of you, but I just recently saw, for the first time, Pride and Prejudice. I saw the stage production in college (and promptly forgot the story) and I have never read the book. So when I found out that Masterpiece Theatre was running the complete Jane Austen, I decided to DVR them all and catch up to my womanly notions that I should be at least familiar with her writing.

I watched the "classic" version first, the A&E and BBC one with Colin Firth as Darcy. I am glad I did, because if I had seen the newer version first, I probably would not have wanted to sit through the 4 hour version. Boy, am I glad I did! It was wonderful! I disliked Darcy at once, instantly rooted for Jane and Bingley, and felt exactly as Lizzie did in every scene. I couldn't ask for a better movie.

So just for kicks, I decided to rent the 2005 movie starring Kiera Knightly and went into it, I must confess, a bit biased. I knew it would never top the original. And so I wasn't disappointed. Although, it did a good job of condensing the plot to only 2 hours, it missed all the nuances that were so obvious and necessary for a complete story.

Instead of completely dismissing the Kiera Knightly version, let me give you a more detailed response to it:

1. For starters, it did a better job showing the disparity of wealth between the Bennet family and Bingley and Darcy. I didn't get that in the original.

2. Kiera Knightly does well in a strong female role, but couldn't convey the gentleness of Lizzie, or, quite frankly, the beauty. She kinda looked like Cinderella before her transformation for the majority of the movie - dirty and unkempt. Her sisters looked more formal than she did.

3. The only time I believed Kiera as Lizzie was when she was telling off Mr. Collins when he proposed and Darcy after his first offer.

4. Colin Firth as Darcy was much more believable. He was mean and snotty and softened just enough for the viewer to change their mind about him. The actor who portrayed Darcy in the latter of the films (sorry, I couldn't find his name) was too soft from the beginning and came across as almost pitiable. I never once disliked him and kinda felt sorry for him. Although I will concede that his softening at the end of the film was a bit more endearing.

5. Jane was definitely more beautiful in the 2nd film, although I thought Bingley looked like Conan O'Brian.

6. The 2nd film cut so much of Mr. Wickham's storyline that I neither embraced him nor hated him. He was an ancillary character that didn't matter, which is a shame, because I whole-heartedly fell for his lies in the longer version.

7. I did enjoy both actresses who portrayed Mrs. Bennet, although they portrayed her quite differently. Both versions were believable.

8. I was intent on liking the 2nd Mr. Bennet, but he wasn't around enough to enjoy and he garbled most of his memorable lines.

All in all, if you weren't familiar with the first movie, the second wouldn't be bad. In fact, it received really good reviews. But I will side with most P&P fans and take the first version any day!

*By the way, I am aware that the BBC version is not truly the original. But come on, has anyone actually seen the Lawrence Olivier version? These 2 movies are the most well-known productions of the story. And yes, I will also read the entire book now. I know I did this backwards!