Wednesday, September 15, 2010

about Leah

I've been trying to work through the Old Testament lately; right now I'm in Leviticus, and it's a little slow going, much thanks to the chapters and chapters and chapters about every single detail of the tabernacle (down to the number of loops in the curtains!) as well as every single detail of every type of sacrifice. The Lord instructed Moses with a incredible level of specificity, and it makes me wonder if it's the same way today when we build temples.

Anyway, there's a story clear back in Genesis 29 that's been on my mind off and on since I read it a couple months ago: the story of Jacob and Leah and Rachel. You probably know it well - Jacob loved Rachel enough to work for seven years to obtain her father's blessing, and is deceived at the end of the seven years into marrying Leah (who was veiled... grooms: make sure to lift the veil before you say "I do!") After marrying Leah, Jacob works another seven years to win his true love, Rachel.

This time as I read the biblical tale, I was struck by the undercurrent of Leah - she was the older daughter, with "tender eyes," but Rachel was described as "beautiful and well favored." She probably lived in the shadow of her favored younger sister, which would have been difficult. On top of that, she was given to her younger sister's suitor as a first wife, when he clearly didn't want her (if my dad tried to give me to one of Jessi's boyfriends, I'd probably run away... no offense, boys). The Lord sees that Leah is "hated," and he allows her to have children while Rachel is barren.

The Lord saw the heart of Leah and knew her sorrow, and knew how difficult it was for her to be hated as the unwanted first wife, so he blessed her with children; she recognized the fact that the Lord was blessing her, because every time she had a child, she blessed God and bore witness that God saw her afflictions and blessed her because of them. Later, "God remembered Rachel," and allowed her to bear children, but Leah's sons were the larger part of Jacob's seed.

I think this is a beautiful story. The average reader might pass over Leah, but the Lord was always mindful of her sorrow, and though he may have blessed Rachel with beauty and favor, he blessed Leah with more children, and with the knowledge that he loved her and would comfort her in her difficulties. Leah could have been bitter, but she appears to have accepted her trials and moved beyond her sorrow to gratitude for the Lord's blessings. I think everyone should take a leaf out of Leah's book (including me), and express gratitude for the blessings we have in spite of problems that may exist in our lives.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

books and essays

On of my favorite things about a new semester is new books. Really, pulling the new books off the shelves of the BYU bookstore makes me indescribably giddy. mmmmmmmm! I just look into my basket and sigh at all the information in those pages that is going to be in my brain in a very short amount of time. This semester, rummaging through the books with hundreds of other students in the bookstore on that day, I even picked up a book not on my class book list: A Patriot's History of the United States. It looked so beautifully blue and thick and full of stuff I don't know or don't remember that I couldn't resist - plus it will help satisfy the craving I've had lately to learn more about American history (true, it will have to sit on my shelf untouched until after the semester's over and I have time to read whatever I want... at which point I will also be reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, because it has been on my reading list for a long time, and I had another person today tell me how wonderful it was. Sold.)

Some of my favorite reading this semester so far has been, not surprisingly, from my Creative Non Fiction class. Reading and writing personal essays, very simply put, make me happy! I wanted to share one of my favorite essays from class today, found on the web at Brevity Magazine, which is an online literary journal featuring brief essays. This one's by Brian Doyle (a new-found favorite) and is called Pop Art. Que lo disfruten!

Pop Art

clever illustrationby Brian Doyle

In nine years I have been graced with three children and here is what I have learned about them. They are engines of incalculable joy and agonizing despair. They are comedy machines. Their language is their own and the order of their new halting words has never been heard before in the whole history of the world. They are headlong and hilarious. Their hearts are enormous and sensitive beyond calculation by man or machine. Their pride is vast. They are cruel, and move in herds and gaggles and mobs, and woe unto the silent one, the one who looks funny, the one who speaks awkwardly, the fat one, for she will be shouldered aside, he will never get the ball, she will never be asked to jump rope, he will not be invited to the pool party, she will weep with confusion and rage, he will lash out with sharp small fists. Yet they are endlessly kind, kind by nature, and among them there is often an artless democracy, a linking of arms against the vast puzzle of the long people. They search for rules and rank, for what is allowed and what is forbidden, and poke the rules to see which bends and which is steel, for they wish to know their place in the world, where they might walk, what they may wear, which shows are allowed, how far they can go, who they are. They rise early in excitement and return reluctantly to barracks at night for fear of missing a shred of the daily circus. They eat nothing to speak of but grow at stunning rates that produce mostly leg. They are absorbed by dogs and toast. Mud and jelly accrue to them. They are at war with wasps. They eat no green things. Once they learn sarcasm they use it with abandon, slashing here and there without control and wreaking havoc. When they weep they weep utterly from the marrows of their lonely bones. They will not speak of death but when it comes, a dark hooded hawk on the fence, they face it without fear. They are new creatures hourly, and what you think you know of them is already lost in the river. Their hearts are dense books no one can read. They speak many languages of the body. To them you are a stone who has always been and will always be. When they are ill they shrivel. To father them is not a brief noun but an endless verb that exhausts, enrages, edifies, elevates, educates; I am a thinner and grayer man than I was; and closer to joy. They frighten me, for they will make a new world on the bowed back of the one I love; but they delight me, for to have loved them is to have tasted the furious love the Maker has for what He made, and fathers still, and always will.

Monday, September 6, 2010

mishaps and madness

this has been quite the week of mishaps! let me just go in order:

1) the burned granola.
i love homemade granola; it's probably the best thing since... oh, i don't know. it's fabulous. anyway, i have my mom's recipe for granola, and i was so looking forward to making it! granola is fantastically easy; all you have to do is mix all the ingredients together and toss it in the oven. after i popped it in the oven, i was walking around my house, enjoying the granola smell, and the buzzer rang, so i ran to check it. i like my granola a little crunchy, so i decided to put it back in for a few minutes. unfortunately, i forgot to set the buzzer, and about 15 minutes later, i started to smell burned granola. :( so, so sad. we tried to salvage some of it, but it just tastes very much like burned granola. fail!

2) the very, very clean phone
last weekend, i was running around my apartment like a crazy woman, trying to get stuff done, and i threw some towels in the washer. later that night, i was looking everywhere for my phone... we even tried to call it several times, but to no avail. my roomie beth jokingly asked if it was in the washer. "haha, yeah right." so i checked just for fun. haha. yeah. right. there it was, sitting in the bottom of the washer, squeaky clean and very much dead. last year, i dropped my phone in a bowl of soup on accident, and i saved it by cleaning it off and putting it into a ziplock bag with dry rice overnight. worked like a charm! this time? no dice. my phone was dead as the wicked witch of the west (which is funny, because it was also green). so i went to the sprint store, confessed my stupidity, and to make a long story short, after $115, i have a new phone. it is also green.

3) baking soda pancakes
jessi and i decided to celebrate labor day by making pancakes for our roomies. one problem: no baking powder. no worries! jessi looked online and said i could substitute 2 tsp baking soda for every 1 tsp baking powder the recipe calls for. well, the recipe called for 1 tablespoon (not teaspoon) of baking powder, and i was doubling it, so i put in a whopping 4 tablespoons of baking soda. don't ask me why i didn't think that sounded like way too much baking soda. the result? gross, gross, gross pancakes. we had to start over again, and this time, jessi checked again and said that it was 1/2 tsp baking soda for every 1 tsp baking powder, plus some yogurt. anyway, we had our laughs and enjoyed the chocolate blueberry pancakes with celestial cream that tasted much, much better the second time around!

life is full of mad mishaps. and the only way to live through them is to laugh at them ;)