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Last week I was living in survival mode.  My 18 credit semester started last Tuesday.  Beginning school this semester surprised me with the reality that I am really a college student again.  Last semester felt as though it was just an isolate experience, but now as I am finding a rhythm to classes and homework I am forced to see that I am in this for the long haul.  I am trying very hard to stay on top of my class work.  I will have a lot of reading this semester and I know that it would be easy to fall behind, so I’m trying to find some useful applications for my computer or iPhone to help me stay organized.  If you have any suggestion please let me know.  I’m not opposed to paying for an app, but I want to know it’s really what I need.  I’m also going to need to get a weekly planner so that I’ll have something physical (pen and paper) to have in front of me, too.

My goal is to be in a comfortable rhythm in two weeks so that I’ll be able to write a few posts on some recent thoughts regarding food education, the reasons I’m back in school, and some recent thoughts about church.



Lauren and I visited the local Vineyard church yesterday.  As it turns out, local includes Windsor and Loveland, too.  The curch is multi-site, video venue church.  All of the separate campuses have their own pastor and worship, however the sermon is broadcasted live from one of the auditoriums in Fort Collins to each of the other campuses.  Had we know this was going to be the case we might have chosen to attend the “Vineyard-style rock band, and a lively celebration” service instead of the “unplugged vocal-driven worship style in an intimate atmosphere.”  I’m not a fan of video venue churches, so I think I could handle it a bit more if I was in the same building as the person preaching.  Maybe my issue with this method of church comes from seeing some pastors raised to celebrity status in evangelical churches.  The video venue model perpetuates that in my opinion.

My issue with our visit was not primarily with the video preaching it was but with the fact that no one really welcomed us.  We didn’t feel welcome at the church.  Sure, the guys holding the front doors open said, “Good morning” to us, but that was about it.  There was that uncomfortable time during the service when the person up front tells everyone to get up and “greet someone new” and a few people stopped by to tell us their names.  Other than exchanging names with people no one made any attempt to truly welcome us.  In fact, the first couple to introduce themselves made Lauren feel so unwelcome that she left the room for a bit.  The most unfortunate aspect about all of this is that there were around 50 people during the service (this includes staff people, too).  No one asked what we do for work/school.  No one asked us if we had visited before.  If we had gone to the service with hundreds of people in it I would be a bit more tolerant of this, but in a group of 50 people, with over 15 people working in some capacity, no one made us feel welcome.  Shame on the bride of Christ for acting this way.  Shame on me for all the time I could have talked to someone new, but never did.

My experience wasn’t all bad though.  It has been over two years since I have felt comfortable in a traditional church setting, but yesterday I didn’t experience the same anxiety that I have felt in the past.  The preacher taught about Jesus.  Not self-help.  Not a prosperity gospel. But he preached about Jesus and forgiveness.  In my time away from churches I cannot get away from Jesus.  In fact the farther I have moved away from church, the closer I get to seeing how absolutely central God’s incarnation is to Christian theology.

So there’s a little church update, for those of you who might care.  peace

It’s January 13, 2009.  If history is any indication, then I would have given up on all “more or less” resolutions by now.  Since I was more specific with resolutions this year I feel like I am still on track.  I have intentionally worked on 4 resolutions so far.

Slow Down- This is perhaps one of the more generic and vague resolutions to try to evaluate, but here’s some of the effort that I’ve put into it.  I have made an effort to not surf around the web while watching TV or a movie.  One thing that I have noticed so far is that there are times when I am watching a show and wishing that I had something else to do at the same time.  This most often happens when I am just watching a show to kill time or watching something because I can’t think of anything more engaging to do.  My purpose of this resolution isn’t to simply help me recognize areas of my life but it’s intended for me to act on it.  If I find myself using the TV as a crutch, I would like to be able to act on it by turning the TV off and finding something else to do.  Maybe I should make a list of “TV alternative activities” to utilize.   The biggest thing that I’ve done to slow down was to clean up my Google Reader feeds.  Before I cleaned it out I was receiving feeds from over 180 sites, but since I’ve cleaned it up I down to near 50.  By doing this I’ve been able to narrow the feeds down to sites that consistantly offer stimulating opinions and are mostly from people that I stay connection to.  I’ve used this as a way for me to controll the amount of time I’m spending online.

Read 12 new books this year-  I bought Eugene Peterson’s latest book, Tell Is Slant, last week.  Peterson is one of a hand full of authors who I find to be a constant source of challenge and encouragement.  When I think about being in a pastoral position again Peterson is the type of pastor I’d like to become.  I grow tired of reading books about why a particular theology is more right, and reading Peterson helps ground me with the things that I think are the most important: People, Language, and Simplicity.  In Tell It Slant Peterson introduces three distinct methods of speaking that Jesus uses throughout the Gospels: Preaching, Teaching, and Informal.  Regarding preaching he says, “Preaching is the news, the good news, that God is alive and present and in action: ‘Maybe you didn’t know it, but the living God is here, right here on this street, in this sanctuary, in this neighborhood.  And he is at work now.  He is speaking right now–at this very moment.  If you know what is good for you, you will want to get in on it.'”  Of teaching he says, “We often dichotomize our lives into public and private, spiritual and secular, cut up our lives into separate parts, and stuff the parts into labeled cubbyholes for convenient access when we feel like dealing with them.  Teaching puts the parts together, makes connections, demonstrates relationships–‘connecting the dots,’ as we say.”  And of this “informal” way of speaking he writes, “A kind of intimacy develops naturally when men and women walk and talk together, with no immediate agenda or assigned talk except eventually getting to their destination and taking their time to do it.”  I’m really looking forward to the way that Peterson looks at the words of Jesus and the language that is used by the gospel writers.

Host 6 “slow food” evenings- Cuyler and Shannon came up over the weekend.  We had planned to make empanadas and some other South American foods.  We filled the empanadas with beef and onions (and green olives. mmmmm.).  We also made a “tres leches” cake for dessert.  You need to make this cake!  Do it right now.  Quit reading this nonsense and bake this cake.  The afternoon was filled with food and conversation.  It was wonderful.  During dinner we (read: I. sorry, guys.) talked about some of the issues of “slow food” and what are some of the limits to it.  I’d really like Shannon to write about her thoughts about this given her relation to the children she works with at her school.  I really enjoy these opportunities to get peoples opinion about food.  It help give me a welcome perspective on things different from the people who write about how “the world would be a better place if all we ate was local organic food.”  I hope that over the course of the year and over the next 5 evenings my ability to critically think about all of this will greatly expand.

Become disciplined in using a planner/calendar/schedule- I have to say, I’m most surprised at my efforts in this area.  I’ve filled my iCal with my class schedule for the fall and added in other events throughout the year.  I’ve synced my phone with my calendar.  And I’ve looked at my calendar each day.  Pretty impressive, huh?  Next week, when classes start, will be a big opportunity for me to find a rythm with this or to simply let it slide by.  I’d really like to keep on top of this throughout the year (“that’s what she said.”  come on, I know you were thinking it.).

What do you think?  Are you surpised at my efforts in these resolutions this year?  How are your resolutions going?

Last night I spent a few hours looking at the time and credits needed to finish my degree.  At this time I’m working toward a degree in Horticulture with a focus on specialty food crop production and taking classes for an interdisciplinary study on organic agriculture.  I’ve tried to put into words why I’m studying horticulture, but I feel as though there is still a large part that I cannot yet put into words and when I try I find myself bumbling on.

I’m interested in the practicality of growing food for people.  I want to understand how food grows and participate in growing it for people who cant grow it for themselves.  But I’m also interested in what people should grow for health benefits.  It might be fun to grow lettuce, but if you have a limited space to grow food is that the best use of your space?  These are questions that I think about.  Is there food that people can grow that will be more healthy for them to grow than for them to buy at the store?  The third piece to this is the preparing food part.  I’m surprised at the stories I hear about people’s fears in the kitchen.  It seems that the people who cook food for their family (with an oven, not a microwave) are the minority.  I think that if people are going to grow food that is healthy they should be equipped to prepare it.

Studying horticulture is one piece of this puzzle.  The preparing food part is something that I don’t know that I can necessarily pursue as schooling option.  Culinary school, as I have seen, focus of training people in classical forms of cooking.  What I am interested in is basic cooking skills.  I want to help chip away at fears people might have with cooking.  Teaching people how to make foie grass is not practical when most of their meals on a weekly basis come from the microwave or a fast food kitchen.  The nutrition aspect of all of this is something that I recently found out I can do something about.  CSU offers a minor in Nutrition, and it’s open to any major of study.

I’m seriously considering dropping the organic agriculture study and picking up this nutrition minor.  It seems like this would be really beneficial in helping me look at the nutrition aspect of food at the same time I’ll be looking at the growing process.  I’ll take classes like: Human Nutrition, Nutrition Assessment, Community Nutrition, Nutrition in the Life Cycle, Integrative Nutrition and Metabolism, and a few others.  Sounds fun, huh?  The potential downside to going this route is that there is quite a bit of argument of what is really “nutritious.”  There are studies done to say that butter is bad for you– you must use margarine.  Other studies say that raw milk is better for you than pasteurized milk.  Much of the conversation sound similar to the organic vs. conventional farming argument.  But I think that in the end, having a minor in nutrition will give me some building blocks to work with.

Picking up a minor in nutrition seems to clear some of the fog that is my future career, but there is still a lot that is still unknown.  I feel like I’m heading into uncharted waters (although I don’t claim to be unique in my pursuits) know that there is a destination somewhere in the future even though I cannot see it from here.

This morning I realized that I have one other New Years tradition that I didn’t mention in my other post.  I didn’t mention it because I didn’t realize it was a tradition for me until this morning.  Every year, during the first few days of January, I find myself standing in front of my bookshelves searching for a devotional/daily reading book.  Every year I pull a book or two off of it’s shelf and open to that day’s reading and start to read.  I bet I open more books in the month of January than I do in any other month of the year.  As I was scanning for books this morning I was struck by this tradition and started to question why I do it.

I believe that my life is a part of a spiritual process.  This process is working it’s way out whether I am doing anything or not, but I want to participate in the process as much as I can.  I read and study the Holy Book as a part of the process to understand the history of my faith.  I read more contemporary books as a part of the process to understand how the history of my faith interacts with my life today.  I look and listen to the world around me as a part of the process to see the ways that GOD is working around me.

I want to participate in this process, but I feel as though I’m limited to the ways that I’ve already experienced participating.  e.g.: I make a plan to set aside time each day to read a devotional book and the Bible each day.  I try to communicate with GOD more.  I use things that already written to assist me along.  But by some time in late January, I’ve given up.

I anticipate this year being much like the previous years.  I’ll study and pray on a regular basis for the next month.  Start to skip a few days here and there.  Eventually I will loose any desire to study and pray regularly.

What frustrates me most about my attitude in all of this is that I realize that I am the type of Christian who I despise.  This shows me that I am looking for a quick spiritual fix.  If I don’t feel as though my life is changing in a matter of a few days, then I assume I’m doing something wrong.  I flip through the Bible expecting something to jump off of a page at me and speak to me right then.  I have turned into a Christian that is simply looking at GOD as something else to consume.  And maybe worst of all, I am perpetuating a justified form of the Health and Wealth gospel.

If you pray, please pray that I can be honest with myself.

I used to set New Years Resolutions each year.  As soon as December showed up I would start to reflect on the year and look for things in my life that I wanted to do differently.  The lines on my list of resolutions would often end with the words “more” or “less.”  The problem is, “more” or “less” resolutions are difficult to quantify.  It’s had to reflect on the past year and decide, “Did I read the Bible more?” or “Did I drink less soda?”  I have found that the only thing these types of resolutions are good for are stroking ones ego throughout the month of January.  (Hey look, I’ve posted a blog post every day this year!)  I do think that there is a place for “more” or “less” resolutions, but I don’t think that they are an end of themselves.   It seems to me that these types of resolutions have been good at bringing to light things that I want to change, yet don’t want to become disciplined in.  If I really wanted to read the Bible more, I could have created a chart to assist me in reading.  If I really wanted to drink less soda, I could have given myself a specific limit on how much soda I should drink per week.

The other resolutions I would set were black and white; there was no room for “more” or “less.”  One year I made the resolution to not eat meat.  Another year I resolved to not drink soda.  And believe it or not, one year I actually made the resolution to not exceed the posted speed limit!  This past year Lauren and I resolved to read through the whole Bible.  The first three examples were things that I needed to choose to do every day, and multiple times a day, too.  I had to decide to not eat bacon for breakfast, not drink soda when I ate pizza (this was before I was 21), and set the cruise control whenever I was driving.  These resolutions were always in front of me.  I wrote “DON’T SPEED” on a note card and taped it to my dashboard.  There were eating habits that I had to change because the restaurants that I was used to going to didn’t have any vegetarian meals.  I had to change my order a few times because old habits stuck hard.  I’m proud to say that in all four examples, I kept my resolutions.  It certainly wasn’t easy, and I often contemplated giving up, but I’m glad I stuck with them.  The biggest reason I’m happy about finishing them is not because of what I may or may not have accomplished, but because this means that I can create a discipline in my life when I really want to.

I didn’t spend the month of December planning out resolution for this year, but I have come up with a few this morning.  First, let’s get to the resolutions that I’m not setting.  These are the resolutions that I set nearly every year, that fall into the “more” or “less” category.

  • pray more
  • read the Bible more
  • write more (with pen and paper)
  • eat less junk food
  • spend less time watching TV
  • work out more

Here are a few resolutions that I’d like to keep through out the year:

  • slow down. setting this as resolution seem counter-intuitive seeing that it’s not quantitative, but my intent with this resolution is to find things that will force me to think about what I’m doing.  Instead of watching TV while surfing the net, I’ll do one or the other, not both at the same time.  I hope that many of my posts throughout this new year will be about ways that I’m am doing this.
  • read 12 new books this year, not including text books.  this isn’t a difficult task for me in general, but I want to be specific about it.  of the 12 books, only 5 will be in the theology/ Christianity genre.  3 books will be fiction, with at least 1 book being contemporary.  2 books will be misc. non-fiction. 1 book biography. and 1 book historical.
  • maintain a 3.5 GPA.  I can do this if I set it as a goal.
  • take a short trip every other month.  these trip could be as simple as a day wandering around Denver, or something that needs more planning like a trip to see Mount Rushmore (it’s only 6 hours away).  The reason for this resolution is to help Lauren and me not feel stuck in Fort Collins (or Colorado).  It’s great that our families are close by, but living in Colorado is not where we want to spend our lives.  We need small glimpses of hope that one day we’ll get out.
  • host 6 “slow food” evenings.  I would like to have a small group of people over to make food from scratch.  This past fall, we had some dear friends over to make ricotta cheese and then ravioli for dinner.  I would hope that through these gatherings that I can help calm some fears about cooking, talk about food cultures, discuss whether or not “slow food” is a realistic option, and eat some good food with people I care about.  Let me know if you are interested and we can plan a night.
  • become disciplined in using a planner/calendar/schedule.  I have technology to make this easy to do, I just need to start adding this into my somewhat normal morning routine.  I want to become disciplined for two reasons. 1.  This would make Lauren happy.  2. When school starts up at the end of the month I will have a lot going on and I want to stay on top of it all.

There’s my list.  I feel pretty good about it.  Do you set New Years Resolutions?  Do you keep them?



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