Like a nut

 But to be sovereign of the universe is no great matter to God. In Himself, at home in “the land of the Trinity,” he is Sovereign of a far greater realm. We must keep always before our eyes that vision of Lady Julian’s in which God carried in His hand a little object like a nut, and that nut was “all that is made.” (C.S Lewis, The Four Loves)

From the Web: notes and outlines of Mere Christianity

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I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet.

I hate it because of its ability to distract you when you’re supposed to be studying or cleaning the kitchen- I’ll blame that on my lack of discipline- and I love it when I run into the exact thing I was looking for. Mere Christianity is, in my humble opinion, one of the best apologetic books I know (reading back that sentence, that might sound as if I had read TONS of apologetic books, which is not the case, only a few, actually-but come on, let us be honest and admit that Mere Christianity is one massive monument combining abstract realities with beautiful illustrations, which makes reading it a pure delight, both for the thinker and the fiction addict).

However, everything in the book is so quotable and so relevant that I have a hard time summarizing the great lines of the book – Okay, I haven’t tried ^^ but I know it would be difficult.

Today, the Internet reedeemed itself by giving me a nice, complete yet concise outline of the book. If you haven’t read the book, and you are looking for a quick “summary”, may I suggest you to take a look at it ? And if you have read the book and, perhaps, you need a good basis to start building an apologetic plan, then it’s also good for you. Click here for the link- special thanks to Andrew Dósa from the C.S Lewis Society of California for writing it !

His Words in my heart: God’s interests

” 21From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”(Matthew 16:21-23)

Those that follow Christ, must not expect great or high things in this world. Peter would have Christ to dread suffering as much as he did; but we mistake, if we measure Christ’s love and patience by our own. We do not read of any thing said or done by any of his disciples, at any time, that Christ resented so much as this. Whoever takes us from that which is good, and would make us fear to do too much for God, speaks Satan’s language. Whatever appears to be a temptation to sin, must be resisted with abhorrence, and not be parleyed with. Those that decline suffering for Christ, savour more of the things of man than of the things of God.- Matthew Henry’s commentary

A letter an eleven-year-old whose family doesn’t have enough food

How would you explain God’s love to an eleven-year-old whose family doesn’t have enough food?

Piper: “God wants us to trust him and want him more than we want food or parents or clothing or even life. He knows what we need most in order to become the kind of people he wants us to be. And even if you die, he will take care of you.”- Desiring God

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This article from Desiring God, a letter from John Piper to a 11 years-old child broke my heart. It really did. Not that the answer of Piper was heartbreaking in the sense that it was disappointing, it was on the contrary written, I see, with a lot of love and tact. What I mean is, what “Tommy” is going through breaks my heart.

I was reading the comments people posted in reaction to Piper’s answer, and a lot of them sounded like “But why do you preach and don’t feed the boy”, or “Feed him first”. First, I would like to say that as we can see in his reply, John Piper was ready to help in a practical, concrete manner. And who knows if he did not actually help the family without shouting it from the rooftops, out of humility ? This remark aside, I wanted to share a few thoughts I had on my mind after I read this article- here they are, not necessarily in order of importance:

  • First, I hope that I will never be so sophisticated, so unapproachable as to make people too shy or embarrassed to ask me to help them.
  • Second, I’m thinking about the fact that some people will never ask for help. I remember, when I was a bit younger, that I was so proud and so independant that even if I was to starve, to take the example of the article- I don’t think I would have had been able to tell anyone. People often look so impressive. So above us. So cool. Always having serious conversations about the latest Iphone or some sophisticated gadget. They take food for granted. What embarrassement it would be, for me, and for them as well, if I was going to reveal that I struggle to eat. 
  • I am thinking of what we should teach our children. I’ve seen so many kids making fun of others, at school, because their clothes were not cool enough, because  from year to year they would keep the same backpack, the same pencil-case, etc. I think it is really, really important to teach the kids to not make fun of their classmates because you NEVER know what he or she might be going through: in high school, I had friends who were orphans; whose parents were poor; I’ve witnessed people taking secretarial courses and breaking down in tears because they could not afford “regular” food, and they had to depend on foodbanks. I’ve seen girls being so excited, in highschool, to get, for their birthday, a cheap lipgloss and eyeshadow box because it was something they never dreamed of having; I could write tons of example, but my goodness- in spite of all the ambiant coolness of our age, poverty is still there. And likewise, it’s easy to hold prejudices against apparently rich people- but again, I’d have countless examples on store that would prove that their lives are not easy as they seem to be
  • Spontaneous acts of kindness and hospitality, no matter how small, can be the beginning of a frienship and/or of a trustworthy relationship. Since often, people will never dare to ask- a plate of cookie and a note can go a long way. I am not saying this so people will say “how nice and thoughtful she is”. The point of giving, I believe, is not to bring attention to us or to try to sound or act kind, generous and benevolent. Some people are alone and suffering and small acts of kindness can really make a difference in their lives.
  • Teaching our children and kids in general to be thankful for what they have and not taking what they own -whether it be toys, food, clothes, anything- is crucial. I want one day to teach my kids that we ought to give thanks for what we have in our plates, and not be complaining. Someone once posted a video on Facebook and you could see Syrian children being asked what they wanted for Christmas- among their answers, one children said “Fresh bread”. Fresh bread. I get my bread every time at the local bakery – how many times I don’t think about the privilege being able to have fresh bread whenever I want ?
  • What good does it do, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not prove it with actions? This kind of faith cannot save him, can it? Suppose a brother or sister does not have any clothes or daily food and one of you tells them, “Go in peace! Stay warm and eat heartily.” If you do not provide for their bodily needs, what good does it do?In the same way, faith by itself, if it does not prove itself with actions, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
  • I was also deeply touched by one of the things John Piper mentionned in his letter. This boy struggles with a lack of food, and in a way or another, we will all come to struggle with an apparent lack of something in our lives. Looking back at my past, I lacked that something; I now realize that God perfectly used that lack to prepare me for something greater than the said lack- during that time, He shaped me and molded me so I could be fit for the next season of my life, and it reminds me, today, as I was complaining in my heart about something- that everything is under His control and that I can trust Him for the next season of my life, and that all I will be going through, ” God works all things together for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28)

God is good,

Stéphanie

These are a few of my favorite things <3

This category is all about my favorite things, the kind of things I like to post because I think they are lovely, they always make me happy- I love, every now and then, going on Pinterest to see those pictures that never fail to brighten my day.

One of my favorite things ? The eponymous song, Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music- that makes three. I just love this song, this movie and I think Julie Andrews is a lovely woman, I love her role in that movie and how playful she is with the children. Besides that, I’ve read of people who, inspired by this song, started a “favorite things” journal; how lovely ❤

In the library; The Four Loves

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Two years ago, The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics landed in my mailbox and since C.S Lewis is my favorite author, I carry that book around with me everywhere. My little sister recently asked me what was this book I seemed to never have finished – It’s true, haven’t read all (yet), but every now and then I read one of two chapters of Mere Christianity or Miracles- I feel like one hour with Lewis is worth an outing- do yourself a favor and treat yourself with a copy of Mere Christianity or even better, the Classics !

However, the only disappointment with the said edition was that it did not include The Four Loves- I read only a few quotes of this book and since it’s apparently short, I could not wait to read it and decided to found a good, decent PDF on the Internet. Here is the link, and again, I was not disappointed– From the first pages, I knew I found another masterpiece from Mr.Narnia- hope you enjoy it.

In the library: Jesus Christ is the same

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

The instructions and examples of ministers, who honourably and comfortably closed their testimony, should be particularly remembered by survivors. And though their ministers were some dead, others dying, yet the great Head and High Priest of the church, the Bishop of their souls, ever lives, and is ever the same. Christ is the same in the Old Testament day. as in the gospel day, and will be so to his people for ever, equally merciful, powerful, and all-sufficient. Still he fills the hungry, encourages the trembling, and welcomes repenting sinners: still he rejects the proud and self-righteous, abhors mere profession, and teaches all whom he saves, to love righteousness, and to hate iniquity. (Matthew Henry- Commentary of the book of Hebrews, emphasis mine)

His Words in my heart

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.- (Hebrews 11:6)

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. (Hebrews 11:27)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;

FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” (Hebrews 12:6)

For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but Hedisciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:10-11)

His words in my heart- Hebrews

Today as I was working, I was struck dumb as I realized my lack of discipline when it comes to memorizing verses of the Bible- I was trying hard to recite, in my head, a few verses of the beginning of Hebrews 1 because I needed encouragement, and the only thing I had was a vague image of those verses. How frustrating is that ! I thought, therefore, that it would be a good idea to start gathering things of the Scripture in this new category, “His words in my heart”, to pinpoint those parts I need the most.

Christ in Hebrews chapter 1

  • Heir of all things
  • Through whom the world was made
  • The radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature
  • He who upholds all things by the word of His power.
  • He made purification of sins
  • He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high
  • He has inherited a more excellent name than the angels
  • He has loved righteousness and hated lawlessness
  • The heavens are the work of His hands
  • He will remain
  • His years will never come to an end

Chapter 2:

  • He was made for a little while lower than the angels
  • Because of the suffering of death He was crowned with glory and honor
  • by the grace of God He tasted death for everyone.
  • for Him are all things, and through Him are all things,
  • Through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil
  • and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
  • He was made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God
  • For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted

Chapter 3

  • He is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession
  • He was faithful to Him who appointed Him
  • He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses
  • Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

Chapter 4

  • He is the great high priest who has passed through the heavens
  • We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses…
  • …But One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin

Chapter 5

  • Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest
  • In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death
  • Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
  • He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

To be continued…

In the kitchen: fancy desserts made easy (and vegan)

This year, I altered my diet a bit and became a part-time vegetarian.

Or a flexitarian, if you prefer.

The dreaded word. Vegetarian. The first time I heard that word, I was something like 8-9 years old, and when an adult in primary school told me that she did not eat meat because was vegetarian. And I clearly remembered thinking two things:

-I pictured her eating, every single day of her life, a bowl of lettuce leaves and tomatoes

-How can she live without a cheeseburger ?

A little more than a decade later, at 22, I am the one happily eating lettuce leaves and trying to eat less ditching cheeseburgers.

Surprisingly, this unexpected turn of events happenened for no reason: one of my friends is a vegetarian -for ethical reasons- and she just challenged me to use grains, cereals and vegetables to develop new recipes. Challenge accepted. I was bored with the perennial steak/chicken breast with a small side of rice and salad and realized that I was not eating enough crudités. So just for fun, I started decreasing my meat consumption and sooner than expected- I coped without meat, and pretty well, I must add. I only have meat on week-ends when I visit my parents and family. And when it’s sushi time because raw salmon is one of the best thing in the world.

I really enjoy the way I eat now, I’m more creative in the kitchen and, being a student- it’s easier and faster to prepare than a 36-courses meal.

Another thing that changed (and for good) in my diet is that I now got rid of dairy products. I am not a doctor, but I noticed that when I went a little overboard with cheese (and little is a euphemism when it comes to French people !), I had less breakouts and my now my skin looks better than it ever did: even my younger sister, who used to make fun of me “She only eats veggies and tofu“, told me a few times that my skin looked nice after years of breakouts.

So I recently tried to make vegan desserts-and recently I added two recipes to my list:

This vegan, dairy-free avocado chocolate mousse: don’t let the avocado scare you away- it won’t taste like guacamole. Avocado absorbs the cocoa powder and you won’t even know it’s there. I did it without coconut milk/cream- simply blended the cocoa powder, honey, and pecans with the mashed avocado.

– You know those coconut balls/pearls you microwave in Chinese buffets ? I finally found, in a nearby Asian store, the glutinous rice flour the recipes calls for and ended up with nice pearls- my friend prepared the filling by mashing in a mortar canned chesnuts with sweet potato and honey. It was easier than expect, quick, fun, and a bit messy, too ;). In this recipe, I did not add the peanut oil or any oil for that matter, nor sugar for the coating- coconut was enough and I did not want it to taste too sweet..

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Here is the finished product !