Sunday, October 21, 2007

Can I get a change-a-looyah?

My mom and I had a tradition- on the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Black Friday, we'd take the Amtrack up to Chicago and spend the day shopping. We'd fight the crowds from approximately 10 am until 3 pm, until the sidewalks were so crowded that you couldnt move without running into someone.

Why we did this? I dont know, to be honest. In years past we've gotten smarter and gone sometime later in the season, when people werent insane. Even so, I always have to run out sometime during the day on BF, to see if I can score some deals.

This year- no more. I've made the decision- I'm going to not do a single bit of shopping the day after Thanksgiving. The insanity of this whole thing became crystallized last fall when I (briefly) worked at a retail jewlery counter. There were hoardes of people waiting in line, pushing, complaining, fighting over items throughout the mall. Besides wanting to strangle someone, I was just saddened. Is lining up en masse to get the latest whosiewhatsits-that-nobody-will-care-about-by-next-year, something I want to participate in? No thanks.

More 'Christmas' simply reduced to mass produced, material goods? In the good ole' USA, that seems to be the case. I'm not sure I'm ready to go as far as a complete Buy Nothing Christmas, but I want to simplify the holiday season and make the focus on being thankful for the blessings God has given me, and extending love to those around me and in this community at large.

I love Reverend Billy. I wish he'd come to Illinois and do some cash register exorcisms.

( If you dont have a clue what I'm talking about and think I've lost my mind, watch the clip below and check out the Church of Stop Shopping at Hes a satirist who, along with his 'choir', preach against consumerism and commodification- and is the featured actor in the new Morgan Spurlock documentary, What Would Jesus Buy? I saw a pre screening of the film this summer at Cornerstone- its great!He also happens to be hilarious.)

Prepare for the Shopocalypse!

as the holiday season approaches...

Experiments in Frugality

Between classes and work, I'm a pretty busy person. Money is stretched thin, and many times my paychecks are spent before I even receive them. But I'm going to be in school for the long haul, and after the wedding Adam and I will still both be students. So I've found this an opportunity to learn creative ways to be

I had never even been to a garage sale until I moved away for college. They amused me for a time, until Adam introduced me to the *Estate Sale*. An addiction was born. Beautiful items in a big fancy house, from decades of collecting? I was in love. Soon I was buying up china, tablecloths, books, and all kinds of gorgeous things that I had no place for. My tiny little apartment couldn't take anymore!

Many times- since I'm all about the deals- I'll wait until the last hour or so of an estate sale, when items are typically 50% to 75% off. I had a thought- why not try ebay? I knew nothing about collectibles or what they are worth, or what is even considered a collectible. So last March I listed my first batch of items, and through lots of trial and error, have found a fun way to earn some extra income.

It took a while to get the hang of it, and I bought my fair share of items that had flaws because I hadn't examined them well enough. Shipping was also a lesson in the school of hard knocks- I ate profits a time or two. But by summertime I was earning on average, $100-$150 a week- not bad for a hobby. This allowed me to enjoy my 'sailing', and use it in a lucrative way, instead of just filling up my home with things I didn't need.

All in all, I've earned a few thousand dollars since I started the ebay habit. I don't have time to sell full time right now, but every once in a while I'll list some things and make a quick $100.

Oh, and I have managed to add a few extremely cool pieces to my collection along the way. Some things I just couldnt part with.

So if you're looking for an inexpensive way to get a shopping fix, check the paper for garage and estate sales. You never know what treasures you might find.


The other day I was talking with a good friend and, unfortunately, politics had to rear its ugly head. I guess its inevitable; considering there is a presidential election coming up in the next year. This is my first attempt to get back involved with ridiculousness that is our political system, after my decision to ' opt out' after becoming extremely jaded a few years back.

For those who dont know, I grew up a diehard Republican/Fiscal Conservative- Ann Coulter quoting, Bush poster waving, the whole bit. Liberals were snakes, and Conservatives might have a few bad apples but they were ' better' overall.

Then, I went away to college, and I met this guy named Jesus. I stayed true to my Conservative roots for a while, but soon various inconsistencies began to pop up. Things were suddenly...messy. Jesus was talking about loving our neighbor, turning the other cheek, loving and serving the poor. Sure, I was prolife, but the idea that 'pro life' applies only to abortion and not the death penalty, not the mentally/physically/developmentally handicapped..didn't seem to jive with a consistent ethic of life. And environmentalism- only tree hugging liberals care about matters such as pollution, global warming ( because its just a myth, right?).
I came to realize these things, I became extremely frustrated. To be a good Christian, you just -had- to vote Republican, because Democrats were anti-God, anti-life. Yet I could plainly see Conservatives who didn't give a hoot about people, and caring for those in need of help- they wanted votes. So say you're pro life, vote for a few pro life things, and bada bing bada boom- you've got the Christian vote.

Even more apparent was how full of crap BOTH sides were. Its about climbing the ladder, about saying what you need to say in order to get votes.I realized this, and just gave up. (Hence my opting out). I just hid my head in the sand and pretended none of it was going on.
Then I found this book called God isnt a Republican or a Democrat- Why The Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesnt Get it- by Jim Wallis. Ooh- so there are a few people who notice this too. I then found Sojourners magazine, discovered Gregory Boyd, Shane Claiborne and various other Christians who were addressing these social issues often ignored by Christians. I began to have some hope.

Fast forward to today- I'm still frustrated, and I still dont trust any of the political candidates farther than I can throw them. But I'm starting to navigate the mess of issues, and starting to form where I stand. I'm okay with not voting straight ticket, and I dont fully endorse either party. I'm an independent- and I'm going to vote my conscience, where it ends up being red or blue- or a mix, and ends up being purple.

I've learned that its okay to take the red letters in the Bible seriously..that Jesus wasnt just joking when He mentioned money and the poor over and over. It doesnt make me a communist to care about the poor, nor a wimpy liberal to care about the environment. It IS pro life to care just as much about existing children and their welfare, as I care about the welfare of the unborn. It's okay to be a Christian and be disgusted by how our money-loving culture has turned people into a commodity, that we put profit over human lives and welfare.

So here I am, a born-again, evangelical, missional, progressive, conservative/liberal, anti death penalty, green, pro life, pro religious freedom, pro separation of church and state, homosexual loving, semi pacifist ( still working that one out), unfinished, still growing , neither-red-or-blue-probably-more-purple-than anything- Christian.

good stuff

Matthew 9:9-13
As Jesus was walking on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him' follow me.' And he got up and followed him. Now while he was at table in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples,' why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?' When he heard this he replied ' it is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. go and learn the meaning of the words

mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice

..and indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners.'

Here is revelation bright as the evening star: Jesus comes for sinners, for thos as outcast as tax collectors and for those caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams. He comes for corporate executives, street people, superstars, farmers, hookers, addicts, IRS agents, AIDS victims, and even used-car salesmen. Jesus not only talks with these people but dines with them-fully aware that His table fellowship with sinners will raise the eyebrows of the religious bureaucrats who hold up the robes and insignia of their authority to justify their condemnation of the truth and their rejection of the gospel of grace.
This passage should be read, reread, and memorized. Every Christian generation tries to dim the blinding brightness of its meaning because the gospel seems too good to be true. We thinks salvation belongs to the proper and pious, to those who stand at a safe distance from the back alleys of existence, clucking their judgements at those who have been soiled by life.
In effect, Jesus says the kingdom of His Father is not a subdivision for the self-righteous nor for those who feel they posess the state secret of salvation. The kingdom is not an exclusive, well-trimmed suburb with snobbish rules about who can live there. No, it is for a larger,homlier, less self-conscious caste of people who understand they are sinners because they have experienced the yaw and pinch of moral struggle.

-Brennan Manning - The Ragamuffin Gospel

wedding progress

At long last, we were able to find a place to have the reception. Who knew it would be so difficult? Everything was booked at least a year, up to a year and a half in advance. Oy.

Anyway, without further ado:

The Gateway Building

( if the weather is right, and hasnt frozen, we'll get that fountain out front- the city runs it)

The room is on the top floor and has a balcony that overlooks the fountain below, as well as the river, and the bridge right next to it.

The date is October 25th, 2008. I also have my dress :

So far, we have the church, reception, dress, photographer and food lined up. Next I need to decide what the colors will be. Problem is, I've got a whole bunch of colors I love, but need to narrow down. I love sapphire blue, dark green, dark purple, silver, cranberry,etc etc. One thing I know I want is to go with jewel tones over a more 'traditional' palette of fall colors. The church we're getting married at is actually my mom's home church, and where she and my dad were married.( aww, I know) This church is big, made of gorgeous stone, and is littered with stained glass windows and beautiful woodwork that my grandpa did himself. For their Christmas eve candle light service, they have these big candelabras that attach to each pew, and we're going t use those. My goal is basically a warm, glowing fall ceremony that feels really cozy.

Lately I've seen some neat dark colored hydrangeas, and some green orchids that are something different. This is fun, but there are so many things to think about! Yikes.

I'm curious, what did you choose for your wedding colors and flowers? Or, what will you choose?

Er, that book review....

I read the book, but sorta forgot I was going to write a reivew.
How about a summary?
The book was great; funny and insigntful. The author does a good job of following the ' food trail' so to speak, of corn and beef. Don't read this if you dont want to know where food REALLY comes from. Now, dont go thinking this is some kind of blood and guts diatribe, because it's not. Pollan just does an extremely thorough job of following the history of food, the details of how/where its grown or raised, how its transported, processed, and ultimately, ends up on the dinner table.

I am a child of the corn. No, I'm not kidding- I grew up in the middle of a cornfield. But despite my many years of exposure to farming, this book gave me a whole new perspective on that lovely yellow maize. I guess as a corn fed midwesterner, I never really considered the history of commercial farming, and how it evolved into market it is today.

Pollan examines the inner workings of commercial farming, organic farming, grass pasture farming, and throws in a chapter of hunting and gathering.

I wont lie, in the end I wanted to go run out and buy 50 acres somewhere and start my own farm, complete with chickens, cows, goats- maybe even an alpaca or two.

Then, back to reality. The book really does support eating locally, supporting farmers markets and and family farms. All good things. At the very least, it caused me to think even more about moving toward foods that are less processed, and with fewer chemicals. And I'll never look at high fructose corn syrup the same way again.