You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

I decided not to write a post about our family reunion over Thanksgiving for two reasons:  1.  I’m really hoping to forget most of it  2. There might be some lurkers out there who were at the reunion.  If you really want to know, send me an email and I’ll give you a brief run-down.  In reality, as much as we would like to forget the whole experience, I’m sure that a year or two down the road the story will come up in conversation and we will be able to laugh about it all.

I don’t think I need to say that it was a relief to stay in Colorado and only see our immediate families for Christmas.  Lauren and I spent Christmas Eve morning together sharing small gifts with each other.  I found a box of tea called Pan Asia, that I hoped she would love.  And Lauren got me a cook book entitled “Out of the Box.”  The cook book is centered around food that would come in a CSA box.  We shared a very simple morning and it was wonderful.  We both hold to similar views when it comes to gift giving for Christmas, so we didn’t feel the need to spend a bunch of money on things for each other.  We would rather find gifts throughout the year that catch our attention and remind us of each other than wait for a certain day to come up with gifts for each other.  While it is nice to receive something that we wouldn’t normally buy for ourselves we recognize that even in our modest means we live in a place of global affluence.

Christmas Day was spent with Lauren’s parents and a small group of family.  I am very blessed to be a part of her family.  I respect her dad very much and her mom might be one of my favorite people. (but don’t tell her that, because she’ll hold it over my head.)  They are two of the most generous people I have ever met and I can only hope that as Lauren and I grow older we can become as selfless and generous as they are.  Our day consisted of sharing good conversation, wonderful food (I made a few things that turned out quite good, if I do say so myself), some reflection on Christmas, and giving and receiving a few presents.   What stood out to me was that although we participated in the gift aspect of Christmas it wasn’t the focus of the day.  There didn’t seem to be a sense of entitlement to what people were given.  Gifts that were given were not done so because they were on a person’s Amazon Wishlist and the giver needed to check someone off of a list, but instead the gifts that were given were thoughtful expressions of love.  We could all share in the joy of the gifts; we were happy over the gifts that people were given and there wasn’t a sense of jealousy over who received the “better” gift.

Yesterday we drove up to Estes Park to gather with my family.  We got up to my sisters house around mid morning with no real plan for the day.  The plan was simply to spend the day together.  My brother and his wife were there and after a short day of work my mom came over, too.  It’s been a while since all of us have been together, so it was  great time to catch up on life.  Whenever my family gets together at someone’s house it seems as if the center of all the hub-bub is the kitchen and this time was no exception.  I love it when people gather in a kitchen while preparing (and eating) food.  I think that there is something about making food for people that is an act of love. When the 3 kids went down for their naps we adults passed out gifts to each other.  We sat and shared in with each others excitement.  There were even a few giggles over gifts given.  Feel free to ask Lauren about a particular toothbrush!  When we gathered to give gifts it wasn’t the focus of the day, it was a small reason in our getting together.  I had some apprehension about giving gifts this year.  I’m not very good and finding at gift when I’m on a time schedule, so when there was a few weeks until Christmas I became anxious.  Truth be told, Lauren did a great job at picking out most of the gifts we gave.  While I was anxious about the gift giving aspect of Christmas I wasn’t taking into account the graciousness of my family.  While giving gifts have almost always been a part of our Christmases, it has never been the reason for getting together.  I saw that this year and it was a wonderful reminder.

How was your Chirsmas?  Did you celebrate in any different ways this year?  Is there anything that you wont do next year?


Lately, I’ve been thinking about the push for local and sustainable food.  I realize that this isn’t the type of things that many of my friends think about, but you’ll just have to indulge me for a bit.  I’ve been reading praise and critiques of local, sustainable, slow food and while I more often then not will find myself on the side of praise, I do have a few concerns with what I see and hear.

The foundation of my critique comes from the location of the praise.  Let me put it this way.  More often then not, the examples of restaurants and homes that are pushing the local food movement come from people who are able to grow food 9-10 months of the year.  In Fort Collins, we are lucky if we can push 7 months.  It is much more realistic for people that can have a nearly year-round supply of local food to be advocating the consumption of it.  However, it is much harder for me to consume a local-only diet.   If there are going to be cookbooks that are intended to promote local foods, wouldn’t there need to be highly regional cookbooks?  I have tremendous respect for Alice Waters and what she is doing with Che Panisse, but the reality of it is, her local foods can be worlds apart from the things that are local to me.  So where are the chefs from Denver talking about a seasonal menu?  Where is there praise for root crops?  And what should we be doing about a seasonal dessert?  This is not a topic of discussion within the local food movement, but I believe it must be if it is to be more than a posh trend.

The second thought that consumes me has to do with the economics of local, sustainable, slow food.  I’m no economist, but I have a basic understanding of supply and demand curves.  So here’s my issue, if we are promoting local seasonal foods as something that we should all be using, then we should be showing people what to do with the local and seasonal foods.  Here’s an example of a common menu item praised for it’s seasonality: Lagier Ranches goose: grilled breast, leg confit, and sausage with chestnuts and wild mushrooms; with Chino Ranch savoy cabbage and other winter vegetables.  But is this the type of menu that appeals to the majority of people?  If we are going to create a demand (in reality we showing honest benefits of the local movement, rather than turning it into a consumer-driven marketing product.) for honest, local food then we should be showing people what to do with it.  I believe that the majority of people don’t have any confidence in the kitchen; if you were going to suggest for people to start using root vegetables over the winter season, they wouldn’t know what to do with them or even what they are.

So these are the things I think about.  When I think about “what I want to be when I grow up,” these are the things that I think might be involved.

What I’d like to know is, what do you think about these things?  Cuyler, I know you don’t care much for all these types of food conversations, but I’d really like your input.  Shannon, you too.  Maria, any more recent thoughts about Tomato Theology?  Josh, what about things up in your neck-of-the-woods?

Sabbath Poems from 2005
I know that I have life
only insofar as I have love.

I have no love
except it come from Thee.

Help me, please, to carry
this candle against the wind.

there are those who can count

and those who can’t.

Ok, that was a joke.  I’m sitting at Cafe Ardour overhearing a conversation between three people at the table next to me.  Their conversation started me thinking about this distinction between people.  So here you go, for real.

There are people whose love for life is contagious.
There are people whose contempt for life is caustic.
And there are people who are “emotional followers” of the other two types of people.

By “emotional followers” I simply mean that their mood can become dictated by a stronger personality of a person in the other two categories.  Any thoughts on these types of people?  Which one are you?

–  I hung out with my sister and her 3 kids today.  I walked through Wal*Mart with them while she shopped.  At one point my sister took the two girl to the bathroom, so I took the boy to look at toys.  As we walked toward the isles of brightly packaged toys, my nephew stopped and said in a slight whisper, “Wow, they’re beautiful.”  What stood out to me most was that even though he was in awe of all of the beautiful toys, there was no whining or crying when it was time for us to move on.  He didn’t’ beg to could get any of the toys.  I was really proud of my sister at that moment.  She is raising her children in a way that they don’t expect to get something every time they walk into a store.  This seems very counter-cultural these days in our consumer-driven society.  That simple moment left me with a little bit of hope.

–  I feel like the majority of the things that I’m reading these days, via my Google Reader, are the same talking points I’ve been reading about for the past few years.  I realize that this has much to do with the fact that most of what I read is more opinion than news, but come on people, write about something new!  I’ve come to the conclusion that for New Years I’m going to clean out my Reader subscriptions.  Don’t worry, I don’t think I’ll wipe it clean.  I’ll still hold on to the feeds that come from personal friends, but I think that, unless I have some relational connection to the author, it’s gone.  However, like all New Years related decisions, there will probably be a clause in which I allow myself to keep newly acquired feeds for a certain allotment of time to determine if they are beneficial.  Here’s an example:  Lauren’s feed will be kept.  Emergent Village’s wont.  Here’s two tricky ones though:  Josh’s feed will be kept even though I’ve never met him in person, but I think I can call him a distant friend.  And Deb’s feed will stay even though I haven’t really interacted with her much, but because of the overall usefulness of the site.  7 out of 10 recipes I try come from her site, and man I dare you to not drool when you look at the pictures .  So there you have it.  Do you guys ever do things like this as a way to clear the clutter of your mind…and inbox?  **That reminds me, I should do this with my Google Alerts account, too.  Ahh, spring cleaning in December.

This morning I lit two candles for Advent.  I listened to the reading for the Second Week of Advent.  I sat and meditated on “preparing myself” for the coming of GOD.  I did this sitting at my kitchen table…alone.  This has been one of the first times in nearly a year that I have felt this great sense of loneliness.

I have been walking a spiritual journey by myself for a while because I have felt so uncomfortable in a church setting.  I am still so critical of the words I hear spoken in churches that seem to contradict the actions of the church.  I have heard so many people say, “My church is different.”  And I’m sure it is, but I don’t think that it would change my perception.  I am still nursing deep wounds from the last church I worked for.  Emotional and spiritual wounds that have altered the way I view life and religion.  Looking back I see things that I didn’t see then.  I now see that I looked at the senior pastor as a father figure, emotionally connected to his approval.  I was so confused emotionally that there were times that I actually considered going back and trying to figure out how I could continue to work at the church.  It was the emotional equivalent of a woman continually going back to a physically abusive man because she is so broken down that she can’t see anything else.  It has been almost two years since I left that church, but some days the wounds still feel fresh.  I’m not sure how to move on.

If I could reduce all of my issues into one, run-on sentence it would be this: How is it that people can claim to have the same Messiah, who say they follow the life and teachings of this person, can be so decisive and exclusive especially when one of the teachings of this Messiah is about knowing a tree by its fruit.  I’ve grown tired of Christians using the line, “we’re not perfect” as a crutch.  When will we be honest about the parts of following Jesus that we suck at?

In my confusion about all of this, I still feel a pulling in my soul to gather together with other Christians.  It’s at this crossroads that I find myself.  Can I move beyond these deep wounds and gather weekly with other Christian or should I continue down this path alone?

The year following my job at the church I was leading a house church for ‘displaced’ people from the church I was working for.  It was by no means perfect and was not easy, but there were things that I really miss about it.  I think that if I find myself in a church setting again it will be in something like the house church.  Broken and honest.  I really miss sharing food with people as an intentional act of communion.  I miss sitting together and listening as people opened their hearts to each other.  I miss worshiping together with music and art and prayer.  I miss walking with people through very difficult times of life and rejoicing with people in the happy times.  I miss reading the Bible, out loud, with different voices.

All of this leads me to my kitchen table to celebrate Advent – alone – and thinking of what it means to anticipate the coming King.  I wonder if I should be asking people to join me in this journey when the way seems so uncertain?


Part of the Advent reading for today comes from the Gospel of Mark.  It’s the beginning of Mark’s story when he introduces Jesus, but before Jesus is on the scene Mark talks about John the baptizer.  John knew that the Messiah was coming and called out to the people around him to “Prepare your hearts.  Confess your sins.  And make way for the coming Messiah.”

So today we pray:  Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


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