Turkey Pesto Bagel

Moscow is full of amazing places to get lunch. This was my attempt to combine two favorites: Bucer's paninis, and anything from Moscow Bagel & Deli. Actually, I was mostly craving the panini, but since I don't have a panini press or the right kind of bread handy, it became a bagel.

This version has cheddar cheese instead of provolone, and the tomato slices are cut up into smaller pieces.

I toasted the bagel and spread each side with a mixture of pesto and mayo. Meanwhile, I heated up the toppings in a little pan with a lid so that they could steam: lots of sliced turkey, cheddar cheese, and sliced tomatoes, marinated in balsamic vinegar in the fridge for a couple of days.

Since I don't have a proper steamer, heating the toppings separately was much faster than trying to warm up the whole sandwich (I've tried). It also allowed some water to drain off of the meat so the final sandwich was less soggy.

Daniel is a happy, happy husband. 


further improvements

After spending the last few months toying with different ideas, I finally took the plunge and dolled up the bedroom. The red pillows came from a remnant; the dark purple ones behind them are a recycled floor-length skirt.


getting crafty

The lazy susan: This was pretty ugly (quasi-Tuscan purple grapes on a rust background), but nothing a coat of paint and some mini travel posters (cut out of a sheet of scrapbook paper) couldn't cure. I love having it on the table to collect all the condiments and napkins and whatnot.

The necklace rack: I own a LOT of necklaces, and almost all of them have sentimental value, but it's been years since I had a good place to store them. Problem solved, thanks to two plaques from Goodwill ($4 total). This looks pretty classy on the bathroom wall, and keeps all my favorites handy.

Not a craft, but another improvement in the bathroom. Daniel has had this picture for a couple of years, but forgot to take it when he moved out of his old house, so we just recently reclaimed it.

The next projects: making throw pillows for our bed (two red ones down, three dark purple ones to go) and contriving some kind of art project to go above the headboard. First I need to take a break from crafting and clean my fridge, but as Inigo Montoya would say, don't bother me with trifles. 


"Negligence" (sonnet)

Dear Lord, we both know I don’t pray enough.
I get distracted, or I just forget.
Don’t get me wrong, Lord--You know I regret
Ignoring You, but making time is tough.
No. You know that’s not true. I’m just afraid
Of what would happen if I talked to You
Because You’d talk back, and then what would I do?
No more excuses. All my cards are played.
I think I’m ready. Go ahead and tear
The scales off of my eyes, so I can see
My negligence and beg You honestly
For grace that’s almost more than I can bear.
Lord, make me humble, wash me clean again.
Please hear my prayer in Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Poem: Psalm 43

My God, You have heard me, so why won’t you speak for me?
Vindicate, plead for me, bring down my enemies,
Cruel disguises, the men who abandon Your Word.
You are my stronghold, the one who will fight for me,
So why aren’t You fighting, Lord? Have you rejected me?
I go on mourning in blackness and walking in woe.
Send me your light, Lord, and rescue me faithfully.
Up to your mountain of holiness shepherd me;
There I will sing at the altar of God my delight.
Why are you downcast, my soul? Why so sad in me?
God is my hope, and I’ll praise Him eternally,
Singing forever to my Savior and Lord.

Psalm 43 (NIV)
1Vindicate me, my God,
   and plead my cause
   against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are
   deceitful and wicked.
2 You are God my stronghold.
   Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
   oppressed by the enemy?
3 Send me your light and your faithful care,
   let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
   to the place where you dwell.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
   to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
   O God, my God.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God.


Joy in Philippians

This summer I'm in a Bible study going through Philippians. We established last week that the theme of the book is joy ("Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!" (4:4)). The average English translation has about 12 uses of joy/joyful/rejoice altogether.

The Greek text is a little more complex. Most of the words we translate as "joy" are forms of the root χαρα, but three of them are καυχημα. Then I tried marking every appearance of χαρα or καυχημα, no matter how it was translated. Total: 25. This book is oozing with joy, but not always in the way we might expect.

Many of the instances of χαρα are translated as "grace", as in 1:2: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father...." The closing blessing is the same: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (4:23). If we were to be unconventional and translate χαρα as "joy," the book's "theme" would be built right into its opening and closing lines, not just sprinkled across the middle.

It makes sense for joy and grace to be closely related concepts. How else could we be joyful if not for God's grace? Here, they're two sides of the same coin. However, some of the forms of χαρα add a new dimension to our idea of what "joy" and "grace" look like. For instance, we partake of grace with Paul in his chains (1:7).

Later, Paul says this: "To you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (1:29). "Granted" is a verb form of χαρα: these things have been graced to us. And, as Paul points out, it's not that hard to be joyful about this tough grace, because we're imitating Jesus, which means that our suffering has a purpose.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus... He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name" (2:5, 8-9). "Given" is χαρα again. Lest we think grace is something like cough syrup, vaguely beneficial but also pretty unpleasant, Paul makes it clear that the same grace also means joy, because we look to our reward.

That's the joy that Philippians is all about: not just the stuff of happy-clappy praise choruses, but the certainty that our sufferings are always rooted in grace.


N. T. Wright on prayer

"Part of our difficulty here is that we moderns are so anxious to do things our own way, so concerned that if we get help from anyone else our prayer won't be 'authentic' and come from our own heart, that we are instantly suspicious about using anyone else's prayers. We are like someone who doesn't feel she's properly dressed unless she has personally designed and made all her own clothes....

"'One good breath of fresh air from the down-to-earth world of first-century Judaism is enough to blow away the smog of the self-absorbed (and ultimately proud) quest for 'authenticity' of that kind. When Jesus' followers asked Him to teach them to pray, he didn't tell them to divide into focus groups and look deep within their own hearts. [...] He and they both understood the question they had asked: they wanted, and needed, a form of words which they could learn and use.

"Some Christians, some of the time, can sustain a life of prayer entirely out of their own internal resources, just as there are hardy mountaineers (I've met one) who can walk the Scottish highlands in their bare feet. But most of us need boots; not because we don't want to do the walking ourselves, but because we do."

- N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, 164-165