Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I awoke this morning to find...

So I thought this was worthy of a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, baked cinnamon apples and cinnamon rolls. My husband went outside to shovel, and when I went out to tell him breakfast was ready, I found this...

And this

I love the first snow of the year! After church I'm making some snow angels and a snowman to end all snowmen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Books in the Mail!

Today was a really good mail day...I received " Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler, MPH and " Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed To Put Women and Children First" by Marsden Wagner, M.D., M.S.

Both of these books have been recommended to me and I can't wait to dive in! Thanks to Netflix and their free movies online, I was also able to see ' The Business of Being Born'- which was quite the eye opener.

I wish I could say I was confident in the maternity system here in my area, but since working at the hospital..I cant say so. We have the highest C-Section rate in downstate Illinois- over 30%. We induce most people, also. The funny thing is, a few years ago, I wouldn't have given any of this a second thought. The turning point was when my SIL had our niece. She was induced and knew virtually nothing about anything they were doing to her- she just trusted the doctor. That concerned me a bit, because I'm nosey and want to know everything that's going on.

Little did I know that starting to read about what DOES go on ..would lead me to question so much.

Out of curiosity...what are your opinions of the maternity system in the USA? Doctor care, quality of care, time spent with patient during delivery, etc. Would you ever use a midwife, or a certified Nurse-Midwife? I'm not pregnant, but I want to be informed if/when we have children.

Frugal Diet Soup

I realize it's a bad time of year to go on a diet, with all of the holiday parties and food coming up, but what the heck. In an attempt to be more healthy overall, I'm overhauling the foods we eat around here. It's a challenge to do this on a budget, but I'm really interested in making some lifestyle changes.

I'm finding that replacing a meal a day with this soup has really helped me cut back on calories without feeling too deprived. Plus it's nice with the cold weather- I'm always in a soup mood.

Here's what I use:

3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
Sea Salt
1 can chicken broth
2 cans diced stewed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 can green beans
1 can corn
1 small can mushrooms
1/4 head of cabbage
1 tbsp olive oil

I saute the carrots ,onion and celery in olive oil, with some sea salt and pepper. When they're tender, I add the chicken broth and other ingredients ( including the juice in the canned ingredients) On low heat, I let it all simmer until bubbling.

The nice thing with this recipe is pretty much any vegetable can be substituted- depending on whatever I have on hand. I make a huge batch and keep it in the fridge, and just re-heat for a quick meal. The calories are very low and paired with a few crackers and a tall glass of ice water,I find it to be quite satisfying. My husband isn't too much of a fan, since there isn't any meat- but I'm toying with a recipe that includes chicken.

I call it 'frugal soup' because the ingredients are inexpensive and most are in my cabinets on any given day. Plus its a good way to use up produce that otherwise might be forgotten in the depths of the fridge and go to waste.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Some Election Day Fun

I’m so tired of these mortal men
with their hands on their wallets and their hearts full of sin
scared of their enemies, scared of their friends
and always running for re-election
so come to DC if it be thy will
because we’ve never had a savior on Capitol Hill

You can always trust the devil or a politician
to be the devil or a politician
but beyond that friends you’d best beware
‘cause at the Pentagon bar they’re an inseparable pair
and as long as the lobbyists are paying their bills
we’ll never have a savior on Capitol Hill

All of our problems gonna disappear
when we can whisper right in that President’s ear
he could walk right across the reflection pool
in his combat boots and ten thousand dollar suit

You can render unto Caesar everything that’s his
you can trust in his power to come to your defense
it’s the way of the world, the way of the gun
it’s the trading of an evil for a lesser one
so don’t hold your breath or your vote until
you think you’ve finally found a savior up on Capitol Hill

-Derek Webb, A Savior On Capitol Hill

Election Eve

Here it is, Monday night. Tomorrow the polls will be filled with eager Americans, casting their vote for whichever candidate they feel will do the best in steering this country for the next four years. Heated debates have taken place over things such has healthcare, the economy, and hot-button issues such as abortion. Rallies have been held, millions of dollars donated, family and friends either drawing together or becoming enemies. And in the end, after the polls close...life will go on.

I could be more dramatic;I could proclaim that the entire future of America rests on who will be our next president. But the thing is, I dont believe it does.

I could get into my disdain for a two party system and the problems it perpetuates; how it polarizes the population while not allowing for any tangible change- but I won't. Because in the end, politicians will be politicians. Government will be what it is- a body of imperfect, corruptible and falliable humans.

2 Chronicles 7:14
'if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land'

What if we didn't depend on a political party or governing body to do our work for us? What if we, as Christians, stepped up to the plate?

'Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.' James 1:27

Matthew 5:38-42
'You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Matthew 19:21-25
'Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?To do justice, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Jesus is the hope of all nations. We, as those who follow the man who went about doing good- are called to likewise. A faith reduced to slogans, bumper stickers and political action committees is futile. Worse, it contains no power. The world knows and loves the old way. Jesus came to show a new way. A life of grace and mercy, of peace and turning the other cheek.

So, tomorrow I'll vote because I do appreciate having the freedom to cast a ballot. But my hope lies elsewhere.

who's your brother, who's your sister
you just walked passed him,i think you missed her
as we're all migrating to the place where our father lives
'cause we married in to a family of immigrants

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom

there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood it's to a king & a kingdom

but nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we’ve got one, sure as hell
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think

- derek webb, a king and a kingdom

Let us us eat, breathe and sleep this new way, that it might spread....that our families, our communities and ultimately the entire world might be healed.

Info Requested- Natural Products

I grew up never giving a hoot about natural vs. processed, organic vs. pesticides. But as I've gotten older and have done more research, I've wanted to attempt to go more ' natural' in the things we eat and use. Luckily my hubby is right on board, at least in the theory. Both of us are rather clueless as to where to start. After reading so many wonderful blogs and seeing how other families are making the transition, I'd like to ask for a little advice.

What is something I should start with? I've debated over cleaning products, but the stores around here do not really carry natural products. Well, maybe a tiny section of very expensive items, none of which I'm familiar with.

What 'natural' personal care items do y'all recommend? Anything from deodorant, to feminine products, etc. My main worry is with toothpaste and shampoo. I've got really thick wavy hair and I love my commercial shampoos and deep conditioners...even if the ingredient label gives me the heebie jeebies. Also, I've heard negatives here and there about fluoride, but I worry that if I use a toothpaste without, we'll get cavities more easily.

So, what works for you? Also, what things DIDN'T work?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A little something

My hubby and I read this to eachother during our wedding ceremony, and I thought I'd share.

Here I set my face unto you.
Here I speak my heart's true vow.
Here I choose to walk beside you,
loving only you,
my heart speaks true,
for evermore from now.

I will love you in the dawning
and in the bright noon-day,
I will love you in the evening
Every day I live,
my heart I'll give.
I'll love you from my grave.

I have heard God in your laughter,
I have seen Him on your face.
And it's clear now what he's after
for he wrote your name
on my heart in flame;
it's a wound I'll not erase.

We will mount the wings of morning,
We will fly before the wind.
We will dwell within the mystery
of the glories of Jehovah's love,
a circle with no end.

We will pitch our tents towards Zion,
in the shadow of His love.
We will covenant between us,
We will covenant with the earth below
and with heaven up above,
We will covenant with the dust below
and the Spirit up above.

- Thigpen's Wedding, from The Celtic Book of Daily Prayer

September 27th, 2008

...I married my best friend.

Beautiful day in the low 70's, not a cloud in the sky....but plenty of no see 'ums.
Woohoo, party time!

Little bit softer now.....

Can you tell my mom was happy to be done with the planning and craziness??

One of the 3 different centerpieces that I did with my gorgeous ( and free!!) Dahlias.

A Little About Me

I'm probably a little tardy in doing this, since I'm rather new to the blog world...but I wanted to introduce myself and recap some recent happenings. I was married 3 weeks ago to my best friend, in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. The wedding was planned in 2 1/2 months; and we endured many questions as to whether I was..er...with child. But no, that was not the case, my sweetheart and I have known each other a long time- and had decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. The proposal happened July 5th, 2008 on our way home from Cornerstone Festival where hubby was so overwhelmed with the need to ask that he simply pulled off the road, in tears, and asked me to be his wife!

So, the insanity, I mean fun, began. First came picking a ceremony location- both of us wanted to be outdoors, in God's creation. The only problem is; we live in Central Illinois and the weather is entirely unpredictable. We settled on September 27th because I've always wanted a Fall wedding, and Adam wanted to get married before it got cold. We just happened to stop out one afternoon at a local lake that he grew up around, and stumbled on the perfect spot.

In case of bad weather, we reserved a tent and got on with the rest of the preparations.

Like Making Invitations

And picking out food.

A friend of my dad's grows the most beautiful Dahlias, and offered to let us use as many as we wanted for centerpieces. My mom and a good family friend, who was my florist, went with me to pick out which flowers we wanted to use.

Isn't his farm beautiful? Behind the Dahlias he has an orchard with every kind of fruit tree imaginable, has pigs, cows and raises turkeys too! That's where we get our Thanksgiving turkey each year and it is yummy.


And a wonderful, but slightly ehm....embarassing bridal luncheon.


Yes, I know I had the cutest flower girl in the whole wide world...Staying up into the night doing never-ending seating arrangements and getting pretty.

....and that pretty much brings you up until the day before...this wasn't intended to be a 5 million picture post, but that's what its become. Next: the Big Day.

So much stuff, so little space

Church and lunch are over, and the hubby is in Chicago at the Bears game. I have the house all to myself...what to do? Oh right, clean. When we moved here we didn't do exactly a bang up job in the organization department ( think stuff thrown in boxes at random) and our spare bedroom paid the price. I'm ashamed to say, it is piled nearly to the ceiling with boxes and random junk we didn't want to deal with at the time.

So, I decided today I was going to tackle the mountain o'stuff, because I'm tired of having to hide that room from guests. Problem is, I've never been one of those type A personalities who has organization down to a science. The room is quite small, with one sliding door closet and that's about it. No shelves, just one tiny built in with two small drawers. Ideally, I'd like it to be a place where our desk, computer, printer and such can sit..and I'd love a place to store our bazillion books. I dragged everything out of there to start from scratch, and I'll try to post some before and after pictures.

Anyone out there live in a space-challenged home and have ideas on how to maximize the square feet available, and keep it nice?

I've got a whole other post in mind about how we stumbled upon this little home and what lessons God's taught me through it, but first...to the mountain I go.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Two Pink Lines

...and no, I'm not pregnant.

As my husband and I were discussing ( pre wedding) what our plans for our family would be, many ideas came up. The pill, the patch, the ring, the shot..so many options. I researched, and then we'd talk each idea over. In the end, we went with none of the above.

No, we're not trying to get pregnant.

We settled on a more natural type of family planning..one that involves charting, and taking temperatures and all of that. When friends ( and family!) have asked us what birth control we were going to use, this is the answer they were given. Then came....

Blank stares.
" Wait, so you're trying to have a baby?"

While natural family planning can be used to help figure the best time to get pregnant, it can also be used to figure out which times to not be together in order to avoid pregnancy. Yes, it can fail..but so can the pill, a condom, or any of the other methods. We just decided that for our family we want to avoid hormonal contraception, and be open to what God has for us- whether thats a bunch of kids, just one, or none at all.

Its been very interesting to see the reactions from people, because from what I've seen, according to most it would be THE end of the world if we got pregnant. I realize that in the end, it is our choice- and we just didnt like hormonal bc for many reasons, including health ones.

It's a little scary-I don't know anyone here locally doing the same thing..but we'll figure it out. I had a very planned out, prescribed path for my future- one involving a precise timetable for children. At this point I'm not sure if I feel ready for children, but I know that when/if God chooses us to bless us with a child, it will be a wonderful thing.

So those two pink lines are just an ovulation predictor kit ( because I wanted to test my charting skillz and see if my predicted ovulation time was correct)...and here we go into the NFP wilderness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Analysis of the 'American Dream'

Well; it's inevitable. The onslaught of the commercial Christmas season is creeping in..I was picking up a few things and while there were some fall items-the lights, oranments and yard stuff were already encroaching on the Halloween section. Soon it will be talk of Black Friday specials ( because who can resist getting a DVD player for 20 bucks, even if you have to stand in line for 2 hours and clothesline little old ladies in the process, right?) and Christmas shopping countdowns.


I love the holidays, but I can't help but be depressed at the thought of family and friend relationships being reduced to cheap, crappy, commercially produced items that nobody will remember by next year anyway. We have decided to try to by the least amount of presents possible this year- instead make gifts ourselves. They will probably involve some sewing and craft projects, baking and other things.

But as I ponder this...I can't help but think about the fact that the best parts of the holidays always involve community-family or friends, doesn't matter. Community...the thing that America doesn't know a whole lot about.

The American Dream- I was raised to idolize and strive for it. Make money, save money, have a nice house, nice cars, a pretty little family. Many people do have those nice new homes and nice pretty lives- yet are lonely, so lonely. How can that be? We isolate ourselves in climate-controlled comfort, living through TV and video games, cozied up in our private worlds. I work in the medical field, in a hospital, where people are at their worst. People attempting to commit suicide out of lonliness, people who make themselves sick so they can at least be around others. Elderly folks who die alone, every single day. Parents completely overwhelmed by caring for a diabled child, at their wits end because family and friends feel too uncomforable around an 'abnormal' child to offer any help or support. Prosperous, comfortable, successful and yet utterly alone.

Could it be that the American Dream is nothing more than an illusion? Could it be that happiness comes from our relationships with others- through everyday interactions, support through good times and bad...leaning on eachother? Early Christians understood this- they lived and worked together, shared money and resources. Where has that gone? Why is it that the church is just as influenced by consumer culture as the general population? I find it quite interesting that the common model and structure of a modern church looks eerily similar to that of a business.

What if? What if people lived and worked together in intentional communtiy-forgoing 'independence' in favor of inter-dependence? What if we said no thank you to mega churches with plasma tv's and 8 pastors on staff and a budget that could feed and clothe and support hundreds ( if not thousands) of local people in need..but is instead spent on a new addition or new 'program' for the kids, a new associate pastor or a church growth plan?

Mainly what I wonder is how the American Dream morphed into the American Christian Dream. Seems to me....Jesus' plan for a Christian's life looks quite different.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Back in the Blog World

It's been a crazy few months.

Since I last posted, I became engaged, planned a wedding in just over 2 months, got married, took a brief honeymoon, and am now in the process of adjusting to married life while working and going to school. Whew.

Now that life is starting to settle down a bit, I am hoping to start blogging more and putting my thoughts down. So in the next week or so the blog should start to look a bit different, and I've got some ideas swirling around in my head. Looking forward to lots of reading and discussion!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

good stuff

i repent, i repent of my pursuit of america's dream
i repent, i repent of living like i deserve anything
of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
in our suburbs where we're safe and white
i am wrong and of these things i repent

i repent, i repent of parading my liberty
i repent, i repent of paying for what i get for free
and for the way i believe that i am living right
by trading sins for others that are easier to hide
i am wrong of these things i repent

i repent of judging by a law that even i can't keep
of wearing righteousness like a disguise
to see through the planks in my own eyes

i repent, i repent of trading truth for false unity
i repent, i repent of confusing peace and idolatry
by caring more of what they think than what i know of what we need
by domesticating you until you look just like me
i am wrong and of these things i repent

-derek webb

Friday, June 13, 2008

coming at you live from the nation's capitol...

Today I sit in my dorm at Trinity College, while attending Pentecost 2008, sponsored by Sojourners. The building is old, the air barely works, and its been a hot, exhausting day. Its a little weird being across the country, not knowing a soul.

But its been a wonderful, challenging, overwhelming, stressful, infuriating, depressing, exciting, frustrating yet joyful day. A life changing day. Well, maybe not life changing so much as just pivotal...the culmination of years of transition and change. I'm physically exhausted but my mind is spinning, racing at the speed of light. It's time for a change. Today is the day, this year is the year. I feel like I'm in an era not unlike that of Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr's day. An awakening, an awareness, an urgency to take action. As I stood today amidst Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans and many others..all committed to bringing God's kingdom here on Earth ( as it is in heaven)...I felt like I was home.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all people who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
- Proverbs 31:8-9

On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will only be an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
- MLK, Jr

don't dominate, serve
don't get revenge, reconcile
don't scapegoat, embrace
don't isolate, draw near, heal
- brian mclaren

My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man.
My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood.
It's to a king and a kingdom.
- Derek Webb

It is unacceptable that 30 thousand children die of preventable causes every. single. day. day. after.day. It is unacceptable that we have a society and a church that distances itself so far from poverty that its not even on the radar screen of most. It's unacceptable to throw money at a cause, get some warm fuzzies and pat oneself on the back. This will never cause transformation. It only serves to placate the conscience of the person who doesn't want to actually interact, work with and most importantly, work alongisde, the people in need.

To our most bitter opponents we say: " Throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our houses and threaten our children and we will still love you. Beat us and leave us half dead, and we will still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in that process, and our victory will be a double victory."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Peace, patience, compassion. Jesus said He desires mercy, not sacrifice. Love is a verb;one cannot have faith without action, and vice versa. One without the other is always false. Asking God to bless me and my family while ignoring the gross injustices that my brothers and sisters face is a faith that is hypocritical, shallow and irrelevant.

I'm so thankful to be here this weekend, and am well aware the very fact of me making this journey indicates that I have the privilege of choice. So many do not have the privilege to choose what to eat, where to live, what to do. I don't know ultimately what this will look like for me but I know I cannot go back and keep on as I have. I just can't believe what a comfortable, complacent existence I've had thus far in life. Maybe I've always known it but didn't want to admit it to myself for fear of actually having to do something about it. I like my car. I like my stuff. But do I love it more than human life? More than Christ's two commandments- love God, and love others? I want to be in a place where I'm willing to let God take me where He wants me.

Ive so much to learn, so much to figure out...but one thing I know. The time is now. Because, if not now.....when?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Monasticism- What is it anyway?

Recently I've felt pulled more and more away from the traditional ' church establishment'- or church hierarchy- as we've known it for the past 500 years or so.I still attend my regular church but a few movements have really echoed many of my own thoughts. One of these is called The New Monasticism. But what is this movement, what is its purpose- and what do they do? I thought I'd share a few of the traits they use to describe themselves.

The following is taken from http://www.newmonasticism.org/

'The Twelve Marks Of New Monasticism'

1. Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire
2. Sharing economic resources with fellow community
members and the needy among us.
3.Hospitality to the stranger.
4.Lament for racial divisions within the church and communities
5.Humble submission to Christ's body, the church.
6.Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the
the community along the lines of the old novitiate.
7. Nuturing common life among members of intentional community.
8. Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married
couples and their children.
9.Geographical proximity to community members who share a common
rule of life.
10.Care for the plot of God's earth given to us along with
support for our local economies.
11. Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict
resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.
12. Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.

May God give us grace by the power of the Holy Spirit to discern rules for living that will help us embody these marks in our local contexts as signs of Christ’s kingdom for the sake of God’s world.

Interesting, no?

To be continued..

New Year, New Ideas

It's been...a while. Life has kept me busy with things outside of the blogosphere, but I am ready come back with gusto. Over the past few months my thinking and my world outlook have been challenged greatly. I look forward to sharing some things I have discovered and also those things I still cannot seem to wrap my brain around.

Happy Easter!