March 26, 2008

Dear Readers,

Dear Readers,

I've moved! I'm now blogging at: http://taracleaver.wordpress.com. I've been there for about two weeks now. I didn't want to say anything until I'd moved in and tidied the place up a little bit. I am still getting settled, but please stop by. That's where I'll be blogging now. Naturally, this blog will still be up, but if you're looking for anything new, head over to the address above. Enjoy!

Tara

p.s. Don't forget to update your links!

p.p.s. It's semi-chronological. This is the first page, and the first post is entitled (appropriately enough) "Moving". I hope to hear from you over there!

March 01, 2008

Temptation redux

On Tuesday at our small group, the discussion got onto temptation. One of our small group leaders threw out a question. We didn't really talk about it, but it is something that I've been thinking about since then.

While discussing temptation, the point was raised that temptation itself is not a sin. After all, "we have one [Jesus] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:[14], 15). And our small group leader's question was, "How long do you think we can hold on to temptation? At what point would it become a sin? (Would it become a sin?)" We were all silent thinking about this. He said, "We don't have to answer that. Just throwing it out there as something to think about." We were silent some more and so we moved on in our discussion. I think we were intending to come back to it later, but the discussion took enough turns that we didn't get back to it.

I don't know if holding on to temptation is a sin, or rather, at what point it becomes a sin, but I do know this: the longer we harbour temptation, the more difficult it is to resist giving into it. I'll return to the metaphor of the forbidden cookie. You've been told quite strictly not to eat the cookie, but as you're walking through the kitchen, you see it sitting on the counter. You're hungry and it smells so good. If you turn and walk out of the kitchen (or cover it and put it away if you need to be in the kitchen), you'll have a far better chance of resisting eating it than if you sit at the kitchen table and stare at it. Or if you get close enough to inhale its aroma. Or if you see some cookie crumbs beside it on the plate and decide to eat those. Or maybe you'll just take one of the chocolate chips off of the top (no one will really miss them anyway). Or if you just break off the misshapen edge of it (who could tell?). Well, and truly, there are so many cookies from that batch, what difference is one going to make?

At what point do you sin? Is the sin in the eating of the whole cookie, or eating a part of it? Or perhaps it is in choosing to gaze after it rather than walking away. It is difficult to know, but the longer one toys with the idea of consuming the cookie (why else does one look at or smell a food item, if not with the desire to ingest it?) the more difficult it is to resist actually eating it. That is what temptation is, after all: the desire to partake in something that we know to be forbidden. The longer we entertain thoughts of actually participating in said sin, the more likely it is that we will take steps in the direction of participating in it. James 1:13-15. I think that harbouring temptation is having something in thought that we know we shouldn't have in reality. And because, predominantly, thoughts are the precedents to actions, when we entertain thoughts of doing what we oughtn't to do, it is much more difficult to resist the doing. It is far better to refuse to indulge in the thought to keep the action from becoming enticing enough that we can no longer resist.

One of the girls in our small group passed on some wisdom from her grandparents. They said that young people are more likely to feel like they cannot approach God when they are being tempted, because they feel unholy and unworthy to approach God's throne. Her grandparents said that this is categorically untrue. It is when we are being tempted that we most need to approach God. God wants to hear our prayers even and especially when we are in the midst of temptation. They said to pray for someone else. "Pray for missionaries," they said. Prayer accomplishes two things: it gets our minds off of our temptations and it allows us to surrender that which is beyond our control to the One who knows best how to handle it.

February 24, 2008

Swing dance, anyone?

My friend J-- taught me to swing dance. He is a good teacher, no?

Pretty good dancer, too ;)

February 04, 2008

Sesame Chicken

I promise, this isn't going to become a cooking blog! I'm just very excited about this:


p.s., that's Pepsi in the glass. I am of the opinion that if you go to that kind of work to prepare a lovely meal, it should look lovely, too. 'Course, not everyone agrees with me, but especially when I'm cooking for myself, I like it when my meals look pretty.

The original recipe made 6 servings. Seeing as it was just me eating, and I didn't want leftovers for the rest of my life (and by life, I mean week), I used the scale/conversion widget they have on the website to scale it down to one serving, making the measurements very strange. So I'm including the link to the recipe, and that way you can choose to scale it as you please! It was very good. I quite enjoyed the meal. If you try it, I hope you do, too!

January 30, 2008

Tuesdays

Yesterday at my small group, we were talking about church unity, an appropriate topic considering what last week was. Something that we were working through was the question raised of the difference between unity and uniformity. I think in a lot of instances, what causes us as Christians to shy away from the idea of unity with other Christians (from other denominations, etc) is the confusion of what unity would look like, versus uniformity. A good friend of mine shared a very good illustration for this difference.
Unity is all playing on the same team; uniformity is all playing the same way.

I think this is a good point to take into consideration. As Christians, we are all playing on the same team, but we lose this by arguing about how each of us is playing. Not only are we all playing different positions, but we also play differently (someone mentioned the idea of how we criticize each other's technique in kicking the ball). If someone begins playing in a way that is detrimental (kicking the ball in the wrong direction, passing to the other team, turning on teammates) that is something that needs to be called out and the reasons for it need to be dealt with. But we are losing so much by picking at each other for how we kick the ball. This picking at each other is something that needs to be addressed, something we should definitely be thinking about, and thinking about how to change.

It was a friend's birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday, Matty!

I came home from class today and found on the ledge just inside the door to my apartment a bag of "Rooibos Tea, straight from Africa!" for me from another friend who has, as one might have been able to predict, just come back from Africa. I think it was left there last night, but I only discovered it today. Thanks Megan! I had some after class and it is delicious.

Tuesdays are actually pretty good days ;)

January 26, 2008

New tea, inside with a book, watching the snow fall

1. Spending all day reading.

2. Well, actually, spending this morning at the grocery store and praising God for the complete lack of wind as I was walking to and from the bus stop. Had there been wind, the trip would have been shockingly cold and therefore far less enjoyable. The walk was beautiful, though. It was gently snowing and everything seemed so quiet.

back to 1. Even though it was for school (some of it), it was all reading that I am thoroughly enjoying. One of these days, I might take it into my head to write out a list of the books and stories I am responsible for knowing this term. But perhaps it would be safer to wait until the term is over. Right now, it is only a vague sense and acknowledgment of volume. Should I write it all out, it might become overwhelming. I have also managed to find time (or make time) to read some more of the pure-enjoyment books I started over the Christmas break, the ones that I really should have finished over the Christmas break in order that they would not be a distraction to me now. C'est la vie.

3. The different kinds of snow falling all day. This morning, it was little bits coming rather hurriedly down. They were anxious to find the ground, I think. This afternoon, they were big bits of fluff, floating rather lazily. They seemed to be enjoying the journey and were in no hurry for it to end. This night, they are smaller, but they are more excited than they were this morning. My blinds are still open and the light shining out from my room is reflected off of the snowflakes when they turn in just the right fashion. Little sparks of light appear for just a moment, like fireflies, but smaller, faster and in far too many places. The light is also reflecting more steadily off of that which has already fallen. It is a beautiful scene. It is amazing the subtleties with which our eyes absorb light.

Inter-Floor Warfare

Okay, so it isn't actually warfare, but there is a certain degree of friendly and unspoken rivalry in the building where I live. There are eight apartment units (32 individual inhabitants of these dwellings) and one vacuum cleaner. The apartment building is on our university campus so is, in a way, very much like a residence in that much is provided for us in the way of furniture, maintenance, and things like vacuum cleaners. And because for many of us, our stay is no more than two terms, we do not bother with things such as purchasing our own vacuum cleaners. Instead, we all depend on this one vacuum cleaner that is shared between these eight units. The issue of rivalry comes up between our floor and the floor below us. It is subtle. In fact, I doubt many of us have actually thought about it, but this vacuum cleaner, even though it has likely lived here since 1983 (I jest; the building has only been around for 5 or 6 years, but it is an old, ugly beast of a machine), yet it still has no permanent home. There isn't a storage closet for it anywhere. Instead, it lives either in the stairwell on the floor below us (or at the end of their hall) or it lives at the end of our hall. Because it is so bulky, it is quite the event to carry it up or down the flight of stairs that separates our floors, therefore, should the vacuum cleaner be below and someone up here wants to use it, they carry it up, use it and then leave it in its home on our floor. Should someone from below then want to use it, they carry it down, use it and leave it in its home on the floor below. After all, one never knows who will wish to use it next, someone from downstairs or someone from this floor. We move it hoping or expecting it to be for the convenience of someone on our floor (and for the convenience of not having to carry it back). It just struck me as rather amusing today. I went to retrieve it in order to clean up a mess of shattered, scattered candies (yes, I made the mistake of dropping a candy bracelet on the hard tile of our kitchen floor) and even though I got the vacuum cleaner from downstairs, I left it at the end of our hall. And so the rivalry continues. Sort of ;)

January 20, 2008

Ode to Shoe

Aside from the The Road Less Traveled and variations thereof, ode to shoe is one of the most popular search strings that leads people to this blog. I wrote an Ode to Shoe Thieves just over a year ago after two of my friends thought it would be amusing to remove my footwear from my apartment and hide it somewhere just outside the building where it would be very difficult for me to reach. It turns out this escapade was the catalyst for producing one of my favourite little bits of doggerel*. But it has received a surprising number of hits from people presumably looking for something else, some "Ode to Shoe". I've done a Google search for it, which brought up a couple of different odes to shoes, but I'm curious, if you are here because of typing in that search string, what ode is it that you're looking for and why? I am seeking to determine the reason why so many people from so many different places are using this search string. Hopefully someone can alleviate my curiosity.

*a comic verse of usually loose or irregular measure