Last night, after Lauren was done with work, we drove (read: sped) down to the Boulder Humane Society to meet with a puppy.  We adopted Kenya through the Boulder Humane Society and we so comfortable with them we knew that when the time came to get a second dog we would like to adopt from them.  Lauren and I have been talking about getting a second dog for about a month now.  When we adopted Kenya we had talked about having two dogs, but we wanted to wait on the second until we were used to having one in the house.

We met with Jackson and knew right away that he was the pup that we had been looking for.  He’s an eight week old,  black/red Aussie mix. 

Kenya isn’t quite sure what to do with a little dog in the house yet.  She certainly isn’t sure what to do with another dog that is getting attention from us.  I think they’re going to get along pretty well once they get used to each other.

Last year at this time I was writing a post about New Year’s Resolutions.  I had good intentions when I wrote that post, and I think that the goals I had last year were good for me, but it’s impossible to know what will happen throughout the year.  It wasn’t that 2009 was a bad year for me.  There were some great things that happened throughout the year:  I worked with a first grade class to integrate gardening into their science curriculum, I started my job at the CSU organic farm, Lauren and I took a trip to Seattle, I passed organic chemistry and statistics, Lauren and I got a puppy, I had the chance to cater a business’ open house.  However, in the midst of all of this good stuff that was going on I just felt “off.”

I struggled to focus when I sat down to read.  I struggled for words when I sat down to write.  I found that when I couldn’t read or write I was restless.  When I couldn’t read or write  I lost vision and purpose.  Being restless without vision and purpose does not sit well with me.

I found myself somewhat stuck between searching for contentment and longing for adventure.

This year, however, has some exciting things on the horizon.  I’m working with a friend on a project that will be working on bringing affordable, healthy, and local food to people who are ready to make the change.  We’ll be kicking things off with a blog on January 10 and we are planning an event during the month of March.  I’m heading to Milwaukee next week to visit Growing Power.  Will Allen has become a hero for me and I’m really excited to meet him and get a closer look at the great work he is doing in organic, urban ag.  Starting in February I’ll be starting back to work at the farm, but this year I’ll be working as a farm manager.  I’m really excited about being able to step into this role.  I think that it will  give me a needed push to convince me that I’ll be able to have my own farm (in whatever capacity it looks like) someday in the near future.  Lauren and I are planning a trip to Oregon in June.  It will be a vacation for the sake of taking a vacation.  It’s going to be lovely.  In the fall I’ll get the chance to do an independent study for credit.  I’m thinking about looking into extending the CSA season to look at the viability of a winter CSA or perhaps a market study of heirloom dry beans.  And by the time we’re writing 2011 I’ll be one semester away from graduation.

I’m staying away from making any formal resolutions this year.  I think my goal is to learn to live in the ways that are the most “Stephen.”  I want to find and pursue the things that capture my heart.  I want to continue to fall in love with Lauren.  I want to find peace in the unknown.  I want to be.

Etcetera Whatever
words by Over The Rhine

Don’t speak.
Words come out your eyes.
You’re wet with this nightmare.
Like thorns you hold these secrets to your breast,
your slender fingers closing into fists.

Trace your bruise
like a guilty streak.
Hold the pain.
You’re a connoisseur.
You think you have no other gift to give,
but we have so much left to live.

We don’t need a lot of money.
We’ll be sleeping on the beach,
keeping oceans within reach.
(Whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free.)
I will stumble there with you
and you’ll be laughing close with me,
trying not to make a scene
etcetera. Whatever. I guess all I really mean

is we’re gonna be alright.
Yeah, we’re gonna be alright.
You can close your eyes tonight,
’cause we’re gonna be alright.

So come on now,
I can almost see
that place
on a distant shore.
And courage is a weapon we must use
to find some life you can’t refuse.

We don’t need a lot of money.
We’ll be sleeping on the beach,
keeping oceans within reach.
(Whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free.)
I will stumble there with you
and you’ll be laughing close with me,
trying not to make a scene
etcetera. Whatever. I guess all I really mean

is we’re gonna be alright.
Yeah, we’re gonna be alright.
You can close your eyes tonight,
’cause we’re gonna be alright.
All that I can see is your eyes.
Close your eyes.
Close your eyes.

I haven’t been writing about my thoughts and questions about GOD lately.  I’ve struggled to find the words to use.  I’ve started countless posts only to trash them a few sentences in because the words that I was typing were not really the words in my head.  I felt like all I could do was take a long, deep breath and wonder, “will I ever be able to figure this out?”  For a large part of my life “figuring this out” meant finding the correct doctrine so that I could know the “right” things.  I think that holding this view was really misguiding.  As “correct doctrine” became my focus any understanding of GOD in a relational sense was pushed out of focus.

During my time away from the church I have been trying to relearn about GOD.  This hasn’t been a very easy process.  My understanding of GOD was so intertwined with my understanding of the church and orthodoxy that any negative aspects of the church would be reflected on GOD.  So I’ve stripped away my understanding to a few things in hopes to discover GOD in a relational way.  At this point if you were to ask me what I know or think about GOD my answer would simply be, “I think GOD is selfless, unconditional love.”

Earlier in the week I had a thought that centered around this thought.  If you have spent much time in an evangelical church you may have heard of the book “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman.  If you haven’t heard of the book, let me offer you a quick synopsis: Love, as we express it, can be understood in 5 different ways-Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, and Acts of Service. We often use one or two of these “Love Languages” as the ways that we express love to each other as well as the way we receive love from others.  Sometimes conflict can occur simply because we don’t understand how the people around us are expressing their love.  As an example, say the way that I offer love is through Quality Time yet my wife receives love through Acts of Service.  I may assume that by offering my time to be with her is a loving thing, but for her, she may not feel love until I vacuum the house. Understanding Love in this way can help us show and receive love.

So when I was taking the puppy for a walk earlier in the week I had this thought that I need some feedback on.  If GOD is love than GOD encompasses all aspects of love and the reason we operate out of only one or two of these five “love languages” is because we are aren’t living in the wholeness we were created to.  (this is using the assumption that Dr. Chapman’s book is true and there are only 5 expressions of love.) After thinking about this thought for a while I started to wonder if we, as humans, assume that GOD loves in only one or two of the five languages?  Some people only think that GOD loves them if they are receiving “gifts from GOD.”  Their view of GOD’s love is limited to whether or not they are being “blessed.”  Other people speak of feeling “GOD’s touch” as an affirmation that they living in communion with GOD.  I wonder if we gravitate towards an understanding of GOD that shows GOD expressing love in the way we tend to receive it most OR we don’t feel GOD is expressing love because we don’t see it in the ways that we receive love.

When I read through “The 5 Love Languages” I learned that the way that I receive love is through Words of Affirmation.  This is what the website has to say about this language: “Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, ‘I love you,’ are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.”  This leads me to wonder if my struggle with understanding GOD comes from is that when I think back on life I don’t remember times in my life when I heard, from GOD, that I was valuable or that I was GOD’s son.  I long to hear these words and no amount of “blessings from above” will make me feel loved by GOD as much as hearing these words will.

What do you think?  Does this line of thought about GOD being the completeness of love make sense?  Do any of you feel like GOD isn’t expressing love to you in the way that you naturally receive it?  I posted a link to the 5 Love Languages website above.  On the site you can take a short quiz if you’d like to understand your own love language.

Peace.

I posted this over at Field and Table, but I thought that I should post it here for those who don’t make their way over to that blog.  It’s called “Stepping into Private Catering.”

Two weeks I received a phone call to see if I would be interested in catering a businesses open house.  I spent four years cooking in a professional kitchen as an assistant chef.  Two of those years I managed the kitchen operations for the catering requests the restaurant would receive.  I love to have cook for people and teach people how to cook.  But I was surprised to get this phone call because I’ve never done any private catering on my own before.  It’s one thing to prepare a meal for 8-10 people; it’s an entirely different thing to prepare hors-d’oeuvres for 75 people.

I’ve had the opportunity to cook for this business owner before, and I knew that they wouldn’t ask me if I was interested unless they were happy with my ability to cook.  This couple recently purchased a coffee and paper house and are having the open house to welcome back some of the locals that the previous owners scared away.  The new owners wanted to have some festive hors d’oeuvres and cookies to serve during the open house.  I told them that I would think of a few menu options and get back to them.

Two days later we settled on the menu:
-Spanakopita triangles (traditional spinach/feta as well as wild mushroom/blue cheese)
-Cranberry Cheddar meatballs
-Baked Brie
-Hummus and crispy pita chips
-A simple cheese platter
-Cookies (fresh ginger, espresso-chocolate shortbread, chocolate chip, and another variety I have yet to decide on)

I feel really good about the menu.  I wanted to have foods that people will be able to eat easily, without utensils, as they walk through the store and mingle.  I was also trying to offer a few special items- handmade spanakopita, meatballs with a holiday twist, a baked brie, and my favorite shortbread cookies.

This past Tuesday was the open house.  Lauren made up a business card design for me to have available on the tables.  I wasn’t really sure if I could handle doing many catering gigs like this on my own, but we decided that it couldn’t hurt to have my information available if people were interested.

The evening was a success for the new owners of Longs Peak Coffee and Paper House.  My guess is that they had well over 100 people in their shop during their two hour open house.  I received many sincere compliments on the food and in fact, a few people went out of their way to track me down and offer their appreciation.  Cooking for that environment reminded me how much I love to cook for people.  It reminded me of how much I enjoy preparing food for others to enjoy.  Here’s hoping I have another chance at it.

I wrote this in 2006 when I was using a different blogging platform.
[info from worldaidsday.com]
1981 had the first documented case of AIDS (then referred to as GRID). “Around forty million people are living with HIV throughout the world – and that number increases in every region every day. In the UK alone, more than 60,000 people are living with HIV and more than 7,000 more are diagnosed every year. Ignorance and prejudice are fueling the spread of a preventable disease.”

if you’ve spent much time online today i imagine that you’ve seen something or another about (red). it’s something Bono helped get started. you buy things from companies who are (red) companies and part of the money they make from your purchase goes to buying medicine that can help people with AIDS. i think this is a great idea. i like this idea because it plays on the consumerist nature of our culture. it’s like saying, “all you have to do is keep spending money and you can help people.” this is the type of cause that the US can get behind. it takes no commitment, other than having a red phone or t-shirt, and it’s a really easy way to feel good about helping other people. “i really want to help people, so i bought a t-shirt. now whenever i wear it i’ll remind myself how i helped someone else. i’m such a good person.”

i realize that i might come across as annoyed, but that’s cause i am. why is it that we need to receive something in return to help someone else. i often find myself saying that it’s not about what i’m getting in return, it’s about helping a particular person or cause. but when i get stopped by the waist-high cub scout, standing in front of King Soopers nervously asking people to buy popcorn for $15 a box instead of buying the same amount of popcorn for a fifth of the price inside, why don’t i just hand him the money and tell him to keep the popcorn? instead i take my box of popcorn home with me and complain about how the popcorn wasn’t even worth $15.
i get the feeling that (red) is playing off this psychology. for some reason, people wont give money to people in need unless they get something in return. shame on me. me, who believes that all i have is a gift from GOD. me, who says he trusts that GOD will provide all i need. how did i get here?

for the whole of my life AIDS has been a part of the world. i want to be a part of helping AIDS loose the devastating power it has had over the world for the last 25 years. i want to do something. but i want to do more than buy a GAP t-shirt. i want to be with people. i want my life to touch theirs. how do i do this with where i’m at in life right now. is there anything i can do beyond buying stuff? what do you think?

 

I’m falling back in love,
with scribbling ink on paper.
with sitting quietly while sipping coffee.
with being still in the middle of the day.
with making eye contact with people I pass on the sidewalk.
with dreaming of the future without forgetting today.

with the smell of books.
and humid air.
and silent morning walks.

Some photos from my recent life.

I don’t often find myself thinking about Myers Briggs personality types. Perhaps that is simply an aspect of my own personality. But over the past few days I’ve been thinking about mine a lot. I’m an ENFP, which may be an “Ah-ha” kind of moment for some or a “huh?” to others. The ENFP stands for Extroverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving. Here’s a little blurb on my personality to bring you up to speed. (Feel free to jump down past the quote if you are already bored.)

As an ENFP, your primary mode of living is focused externally, where you take things in primarily via your intuition. Your secondary mode is internal, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit in with your personal value system. ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types. They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it. ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values. An ENFP needs to feel that they are living their lives as their true Self, walking in step with what they believe is right. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their lives and values to achieve inner peace. They’re constantly aware and somewhat fearful of losing touch with themselves. Since emotional excitement is usually an important part of the ENFP’s life, and because they are focused on keeping “centered”, the ENFP is usually an intense individual, with highly evolved values. Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivious to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP’s family members.

I wrote at the beginning that I don’t usually thing about my personality type, but when I do I am reminded of two things: 1. I am driven by deep sense of values. and 2. If I cannot connect something with these values it becomes less and less of a priority to do it. I jump head first into something that interests me. I’ll read and research and experiment and talk about the things that I’m passionate about. This blog is a small outlet for that, but if you know me in person this would make all the more sense. My wife, an ISTJ, can attest to this. In fact, she is probably smirking and rolling her eyes as she reads this. It has only been in the past few years that I have embraced this part of my life and have tried to find ways to celebrate it.

When I get something in my head it can consume me. All of this should bring you up to speed on my past week. I found this posting for a hotel/restaurant in New England looking for a farmer. It’s nearly an ideal position for me. We’ve traded emails and I’m waiting to hear back from him. I’m trying to get some more information about their expectations. I don’t know whether or not they would think I’m qualified to come out and farm for them. I don’t know a whole lot about what they are looking for, but I’m driving myself crazy thinking about it. I check my inbox with an anticipation of finding an email from them with more information. I’ve been thinking non-stop about what would happen if they wanted me to come out there to work. Would we stop school for this opportunity or hope another comes around?

I’m consumed by these thoughts; I wish I could simply let it go, but I don’t know how. Does this make me sound crazy?

Last Friday I took my final for the Organic Chemistry class I took this summer.  What a relief to be done with that class.  Now I get two weeks of summer vacation until fall classes start.  Life is good.

The busyness of the summer has caught up to me.  I feel exhausted by the end of each day, toss and turn through the night only to wake up tired each morning.  I trick myself into thinking that I need to keep going.  That I need to check things off of my never ending list.  I’ve come to believe that my list is self-inflicted busy-work.  I forget how to slow down.  How to be still.  How to relax.  Perhaps it is my own restlessness that pushes me into a sense of spiritual apathy that I have been experiencing for a while now.

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,

but the contentments made

by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.

I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.

I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.

“The Want of Peace” The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint Press, 1998), 29

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