Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reformation Day: A Reminder for our Times

Today is Reformation Day, a holiday celebrating the great faithfulness of our forefathers in the faith, as they defended the Word of God in the Middle Ages. On October 31st of 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famed ninety-five theses onto the castle door of the church at Wittenberg. He was challenging the Catholic church's practice of indulgences, and what ensued is what is commonly known in history books as the Protestant Reformation.

Many Christians today (myself guilty at times!) look at our culture today and think that there is no hope for the Gospel, and that we are indeed sinking into greater and greater unbelief, heresy, and corruption. We are prone to see the earth on a freight train headed straight towards a great engulfment. We see our current political situations, the unBiblical laws passed, the millions of our children who are murdered by their own parents each year, prayer stripped out of schools, Gospel truth replaced by moral relativism, and the "Christians" in our society following mammon and Hollywood more readily than Jesus. And we take a VERY pessimistic view of where our glove is headed. We think there is nothing that can be done.

But look at Europe at the time leading up to the Protestant Reformation. The Word of God was held captive by a religious elite who were corrupt to the very core, hiding theft, adultery, greed, swindling, and lies underneath the guise of the name of our Lord. The Gospel was not being preached to the masses; instead they were hearing select portions of scripture read to them in a language not native to them, and the public were being taught that they had to help earn their righteousness. They were so frightened of the future of their souls, and so frantic to do anything to earn their way into heaven, that the poor would give away some of their last pennies to buy off a few years from purgatory or to save their souls from hell. The masses murmured rote prayers in penance, trusted in priests to be their mediators before God, and lived in utter fear and spiritual darkness.

That, my friends, is despair. That sounds like a place where the Gospel truth would never spread. That's a society sinking into greater unbelief, heresy, and corruption. The Word of God was not even available to the masses! Yet God was still sovereign, even when His church came to the brink of self-destruction. He used a monk who was bold enough to challenge the powers that were, and He used corrupt church counsels and men who were still searching for the truth to accomplish His will. And look at the fruit it has born! Churches around the globe still benefit from the courage of men like Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, and others. God's church continues to spread, not because all the factors are aligned in its favor, but because God is in His heaven, and He is still ruling.

So when I get discouraged and am tempted to adopt a very pessimistic eschatology, I remember the Protestant Reformation, and give a prayer of thanks to God for always preserving a remnant of His people. And I remember a brave monk in 1517, and all the reformers who came after him, who were willing to die because of their beliefs, letting the truths of God be their dying cry:

Sola scriptura - Scripture alone

Solus Christus - Christ alone

Sola gratia - Grace alone

Sola fide - Faith alone

Soli deo gloria - To God Alone be Glory!

Make sure to read some of the excellent posts linked at the 2007 Reformation Day Symposium.

Answers to Various Questions

First of all, I think it's hilarious how quickly I got comments on the previous post. Y'all are very perceptive! I also find it interesting that the phrase I used is common to Australia too; I didn't realize it was that wide-spread.

Our projected due date is June 22nd, though that has not been confirmed by a physician or midwife; I'm just going by online sites on how to calculate it. I'm 6 weeks, 3 days along (for those who don't know, those weeks are never calculated from conception, in case you're starting to count backwards to our wedding date. . . ). We think it's hilarious that our due date is exactly 9 months from our wedding day :-).

I took the first pregnancy test two weeks ago tomorrow, and another (different brand because I'm cautious) the next day; both were positive. For the first several days my main symptoms were just hunger and a bit of tiredness, but late last week I got that unpleasant queasiness that now seems here to stay a while :-P. But no really awful nausea/vomiting. Just enough to make me feel really bleh and make me want to not do much at all, especially with the added tiredness that comes with the first trimester. I actually delayed starting to write wedding thank you notes, thinking that if I did get pregnant the first month, that would be a good activity for me while I languished in bed, so this works out well :-).

Even though I'm becoming terribly sensitive to smells, and don't have any appetite, and have queasiness, I'm actually faring better right now than I thought I might, as I am keeping down food (even though it takes me a long time to force it down!). Adrian, thankfully, doesn't mind it when meals aren't gourmet, and he's taking my whims about smells quite well. (Honey, didn't you say you liked that smell yesterday?) He's wonderful :-D. I'm VERY thankful that I started a prenatal vitamin, cod liver oil capsules, and a B supplement several months ago, so I don't have to adjust to those new smells/tastes as well, because the latter two are strong.

As for cravings, I haven't had many, yet, except for fresh fruits and vegetables (especially fruits!), so I definitely splurged on my grocery trip yesterday, and bought more fruits than I usually do. Right now I'm mainly preferring really bland foods, though. Even my cravings for dark chocolate have disappeared temporarily (Don't faint, Jessica!).

As to what our birth plans are. . . we don't know yet. Part of it is, we don't know if we'll still be in Blacksburg in June. Adrian will hopefully be done with his internship and have another job, which may be here, or it may be in California, or Nebraska, or New York, or South Carolina, or Timbuktu (actually, only lower 48). I am looking at options in Blacksburg, though, because we may be here, and I do need to see someone before too many more weeks have passed. My first choice would be a birth center with a midwife, but the closest one is an hour and a half away, which isn't my idea of a fun drive, while in labor. And the closest midwife who delivers in a hospital is still over an hour away. I've spoken with a midwife who does home births, and I really like her (not alarmist, very experienced, etc.), and we do live one minute (literally) from a hospital with a birthing wing if an emergency arose. Also this midwife recommended a local family practice that does birthing as well, at a more personal level than most OB/GYN practices, and at a nearby hospital. So answer: I don't know :-).

Names? We've only briefly discussed ideas. I have a friend who insists I need to send her a full list of our possibilities, but I simply don't have one yet. We do like Germanic names, though, or other Northern European names (Swedish, etc.). We're both of German descent, with other European mixed in (Swedish and English for me). We want names that have not been overused, but also ones that most people have at least heard of, so the poor child doesn't have to spell his name for someone every day of his life. And no, Hannah, Enoch is currently NOT in the running for a first name for a boy. We also don't know yet if we'll find out the gender. Part of that will be determined by if we have an ultrasound. We'll see :-).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Baking Experiments of Late

One of my favorite novel kitchen gadgets that we received for our wedding is a pizza baking stone. I've always gone with the old pizza-on-a-pan method of cooking, and it's sort of funny how I came about the pizza stone. I had planned on registering for two regular metal pizza pans, but Wal-Mart didn't have the particular size I wanted, and the pizza pans at Bed, Bath, & Beyond were $15 a piece! I noticed that BB&B also had a complete pizza baking set (stone, wood "shovel", rack, and cutter) for the same price, so I registered for the stone instead. And we both love it! It gives a great firm crust that is still chewy. Mmmmm. Highly recommended.

One of my next cooking experiments I hope to embark upon is sourdough bread. One of the women at our church makes fabulous sourdough bread, and I'm going to get tips from her. For now, though, I have a bun in the oven.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Playing House

Growing up, one of my favorite pastimes was playing house with Hannah and/or with friends. We'd organize our play kitchens, our baby nurseries, create forts, etc., and play shopping. I liked doing this because my dream was to someday "play house" for real. I am LOVING setting up my own (our own) house now :-). It is so much fun, and a fulfillment of many dreams.

It is quite a bit of work, though. Getting into a routine of shopping (and learning the location of stores!), making menus, creating a budget, etc. takes a lot of initial legwork. And then there is the great task of organizing! Adrian moved into the apartment in early June, and I brought up two loads of my stuff during the summer, then we added wedding presents on top of all that, so there were literally humongous piles to sort through and organize. Of course, being the type-A, hyper-organization freak I sometimes can be, this wasn't all that bad of a task, just very involved :-P.

Oh, and meals are great fun to prepare every day. Due to teaching, tutoring, wedding planning, and the distractions of a certain young man *cough*, I haven't regularly cooked meals in quite some time, so I'm really enjoying getting back into the kitchen. I think Adrian appreciates it too ;-). He admits his diet has vastly improved. We've greatly appreciated all the helpful wedding gifts people gave us, and are enjoying using them. We received a pizza stone, and I am completely sold on the idea of baking pizza on a stone, after just one try; vastly better than metal pan-baked!

Oh, a word of advice to all the young ladies who, like me, fill hope chests in their single years. I suggest focusing on specialty and handmade items that are priceless, not just cookware that can be bought at any department store. We were blessed with a lot of basic cookware like mixing bowls, casserole dishes, etc., even some that we didn't register for (but were nicer than we had!), so I'm glad that most of my hope chest items were handmade or more particular items (like a glass bread plate a la Laura Ingalls Wilder, or teacups, or a handpainted bowl, or handmade quilt). Anyway, just a suggestion. We couldn't believe how generous people were!

I feel bad, because as is often the case with weddings, I won't be able to really thank some of the gifters. Even with the precaution of having a few people to tape cards to gifts, we still have some cardless gifts, and one or two with a very generic first name on them. As a suggestion, please write your last name on a wedding card!

It's different being in a completely different area, and adjusting to a new set of stores and a new church. It helps that Adrian has lived here for a while :-). And I just spent most of today at various government agencies changing legal identification, etc. Long story as to why, but I had to go to the DMV three times! But it's done now :-). I'm officially Susan Garrison Keister. Yay!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Finally, a post! :-)

I finally decided that if I keep waiting for time to post, it's never going to come, so I'm posting anyway :-). Our professional photographs have not yet arrived, nor our video, but they both should be forthcoming the next few weeks. Meanwhile, we've been enjoying select photos by family and friends. For a more complete group of photos, see photo links in previous post. Many thanks to Grace True for providing the photos for this post :-).

We had a wonderful wedding day!

Family and friends started arriving on Thursday, my groom among them :-), and Friday consisted of a whirlwind of activity, including decorations and last-minute decorations at the church all afternoon.

Our longtime friends, the Trues, put together the flower arrangements.



And they did a beautiful job!!!



I felt like on Friday I was constantly being accosted by someone for a question, help, etc., which was rather necessary, but exhausting. But, I had already promised Adrian that Saturday was my day of delegation (not doing tasks myself), and I wouldn't worry about anything once the ceremony started :-). I'd planned the wedding all summer, and I wasn't about to not enjoy it from over-busyness! My mom is the one who really brought me through that last week, in fact, as I was finally wearying of wedding details. Mothers are wonderful :-D. But I digress.

Anyway, the rehearsal was very helpful and amusing, as we had quite a collection of witty people at the gathering, so it was a light, fun event.





Twins!



The rehearsal dinner was even better than the rehearsal. We made the mistake of asking various family and friends to "roast" us, and they did a really good job! Lane and Ben have both posted their roasts on respective blogs. My abdominal muscles were aching after Ben's roast of me :-).


After a late Friday night, we started pictures the next morning around 9:30. By this time I was done with any personal tasks, and was able to just enjoy the day. I wasn't nervous or stressed or anything, and I really felt so relaxed throughout the whole day. It was wonderful :-).

Here is our ridiculously cute flower girl, Ila Keister (Lane's oldest). Her mother, Sarah, made her beautiful dress and headpiece.





And here is the cutie ringbearer, Ila's brother James, held by Adrian:



Maid-of-honor Hannah Garrison and Best Man Lane Keister (you can just barely see my hair and veil):



Jessie was able to come down mid-Friday, and was vastly helpful Friday and Saturday, running to and fro, accomplishing an untold number of tasks :-). She and the Trues were WONDERFUL errand women :-). Here is Jessie, holding Edmund, who is Lane's youngest - only 2 months old! Awwwwwww.



This picture takes some explaining:



I decided that I didn't want to have a whole train of bridesmaids, making the rehearsal and ceremony much more complicated, but I did have several friends I wanted to honor. I asked Hannah to be my maid-of-honor, and I had no more bridesmaids; however I had 9 "bouquet maids".

I processed on my dad's arm with only a white Bible in my hands, and then after the congregation was seated, Anne's Theme was played on the harp while the bouquet maids slowly filed to the front from the back row of the sanctuary, carrying one to two roses each. They handed me the roses individually, as they came up to where I was in the front of the sanctuary. Then the last maid tied a ribbon around my bouquet, and they all returned to their seats down a side aisle. It was a nice touch, I thought, and was a simple way of honoring my friends :-). I got the idea from a woman in my church. The above picture is all of us practicing just before the ceremony.

Back in the bride's room just before the ceremony:



I made Hannah's dress and Jessie and I made mine together, in July.


Dr. and Mrs. Adrian Keister!