Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My battle with the sinus monster Part 1

So I have a sinus infection... I think. Why am I divulging this bit of information? Because I have decided to forego professional treatment and have a go at it homeopathically, and I want your advice. I used to get these pretty regularly and would always eventually just sign up for the antibiotic. It worked well for me, but I've been hearing a lot about super virus strains recently and don't want to contribute. Plus, I now have a copay on both Dr visits and meds that I would like to avoid.
After a bit of Internet research I hit the store today and got a Netti pot... oh joy... water up the nose.
I'm also avoiding sugar and dairy, drinking ginger lemon tea, sleeping my 7-8 hours, and engaging responsibly in garlic consumption.
There was a lot of advice to juice garlic, smear it on your feet, put cloves between your toes...
I'm just eating it minced in salads and stir frys.
Do you guys have any advice for me? I'm willing to try crazy non-uber-stinky stuff...
I will chronicle my battle with the sinus monster here publicly so as to discover whether or not it is possible to kill one of these things without antibiotics - here goes!


Wendell Berry speaks about environmental and societal problems, rebuking us for not taking personal responsibility for the care of our land and communities.

"The danger, in other words, is that people will think they have made a sufficient change if they have altered their "values," or had a "change of heart," or experienced a "spiritual awakening," and that such a change in passive consumers will necessarily cause appropriate changes in the public experts, politicians, and corporate executives... The trouble with this is that a proper concern for nature and our use of nature must be practiced, not by our proxy-holders, but by ourselves. A change of heart, or of values, without a practice is only another pointless luxury of a passively consumptive way of life. The "environmental crisis," in fact, can be solved only if people, individually and in their communities, recover responsibility... We have an "environmental crisis" because we have consented to an economy in which by, eating, drinking, working, resting, traveling, and enjoying ourselves we are destroying the natural, the God-given, world."

How often have I been the one who thought I had made a "sufficient change" because I cared about an abstract "environmentalism." In college in CA I was an "active" (attending) member of the environmental club. I spoke passionately about how we needed to care for our earth. Then one day when I had moved back to the Midwest it hit me. I didn't even recycle. (I actually don't right now either, I've been a bit disillusioned by it.) So, I began packing up all of my recycling from my cabin 15 minutes from my campus and sorting it into their recycling bins. Just that small step made me feel a bit more legitimate deep in my soul. Imagine how appalled I was the day the expose came out in our college paper that the college didn't actually recycle! Everything was put in the same dumpster.
But, Mr. Berry's point goes further than that. He calls us as a community to become less dependent on people we can't touch for our lives. He wants us to make and grow as much as we can and then buy the rest from locals. He wants us to take our elderly into our homes rather than putting them in impersonal state-run homes, to care for our neighbor's children rather than having them go to day care, even in organizing local entertainment rather than going to a movie theater. Through this he believes that real healing will come not only to our land, but also to our relationships and souls.

For me today this means that I am baking my own bread and line drying my families clothes. How does it look for you? (I know cheesy question to elicit reader response, but I truly am curious! I'm always looking for new ideas.)
to be continued...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

true enjoyment of life.

"To enjoy a thing exclusively is commonly to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of it." Thoreau

My husband and I are returning to a habit we began in Norway of reading aloud to eachother in the evenings. (While there we read the whole of the Lord of the Rings together. I know, we're a bit nerdy.) Last night we began Thoreau's essay entitled "Walking" that contained this quote. It convicts! This morning we read a corresponding passage in Mark. It spoke of the young rich man who obeyed the Judaic Law perfectly but could not bring himself to give all he had to the poor and follow Christ. My husband and I got into a discussion as to whether that is a universal and literal prescription for mankind; that we are to own nothing, and leave all to enter the kingdom, or whether it spoke to a mindset he had about possessions.

To enjoy a thing exclusively is to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of it.
If you cannot leave all and follow me you will never enter the kingdom of God.

I do not believe that when Christ speaks of the kingdom of God that He is only referring to our after life experiences. I think His kingdom is also something to be entered into here on earth. It is fullness of life and joy. It is the beginning of the redemption of His broken people and land. His laws and teachings all guide us into that life eternal. He says it is hard for a rich man to enter into that kingdom. Relative to global situation we are wildly rich. Should we give away everything and find work with the poor as we intended? Or can we enter into that kingdom if we have hearts that value people over our possessions?

This question is intimately pertinent for us right now as my husband recently began a job in the world of investment banking. *See my post "My Story" for that strange tale. If Christ was speaking of his heart, then we can obey Him fully by having a house (someday) if we have an open doors policy and share empty beds with those emotionally and economically in need. We can make money if we give it away. Basically if we follow the principles from the Beatitudes that if we have two of something and see someone in need we ought to share, and to give to all who ask of us,then perhaps we can live obediently.

What have your experiences been as you have wrestled with these sorts of questions? I would love to hear your stories.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2

Proverbs 10:21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of judgment.

The lips of the righteous use many different mediums to nourish -
internet, books, music, paintings...

Today I am grateful for these lips:

1.Marc Chagall - whose incredible paintings and stained glass inspire new worship in my soul, and inspired my husband and I's first kiss!
2. The blog "A Holy Experience". The author of this blog inspires me through simple and poetic words to see and listen for my Lord in every nook and cranny of everyday life. For her I am thankful.
3. William McDonough & Michael Braungart who wrote Cradle to Cradle, a great book that teaches us how to better care for our earth.
4. Derek Webb - this musical artist who was once a member of the popular group Caedmon's Call, has a prophetic voice that cuts to the heart of my faith and helps to radicalize and reform it.
5. The blog "A Fruitful Vine" that chronicles the story of a woman in my church whose husband is battling cancer. Its honesty and hope refresh me, while its raw pain brings me to tears. It reminds me of how precious my loved ones are and what a gift life and family are.
6. Laura Ingalls Wilder's beautiful Little House series is teaching me day by day about homes in the past, as I read Farmer Boy to my son. I love learning about how they filled their lives with such necessary and fulfilling work, even in their "leisure time" knitting and whittling. Wholesome.
7. The lips of my son, that give such sweet kisses that nourish my mother's heart.

Other things I am thankful for today:
8. The rain! Nourish, nourish, the little seedlings growing at my CSA. We are busy counting down the days until mid June when we start to receive weekly baskets of fresh and delicious, locally grown, organic vegetables. (Look into joining a CSA this summer. We LOVE ours.)
9. Our dear friends Jill and Alec who might be leaving us this summer for him to further his education. We mourn the fact that they might leave this area soon, but are grateful for their friendship and the opportunities they have for first rate education.
10. And my two wonderful grandma's who had birthdays last week!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

If you have ever read the little blurb on my profile you will know that I am an idealist struggling to live out my values. I am terribly excited to be a wife and mother. Its funny, my husband keeps on looking at me and asking "When are you going to snap? I think of you as my splatter paint personalitied, hippy wife but now you have a Fly Lady journal, you keep the house clean and you're content to be a stay at home mom!" I realized today that being a stay at home mom in today's culture seems like the hippy thing to me! In today's women's lib culture this way of life is RADICAL, COUNTER CULTURAL, and something deep in me rejoices. I feel in a tiny way that I am connecting to the strong, adventurous women of our countries pioneering past who had to grow their own food, can things, sew their clothes, make their cleaning supplies, make all of their food from scratch, live on a dime. They all worked, and worked hard, but they weren't usually working outside of the home. Today so many people think of a stay at home mom either as an unintelligent, unmotivated, and unsophisticated mess, OR, as a snooty, country clubbing, latte drinking, (perhaps even husband hopping?) spoiled human being who contributes in no way to society. But, once someone has committed to many of the ideals espoused on my blog and others similar (natural living, healthy eating, frugality, simplicity, generosity, etc.) neither of those remain options. In reality this community of stay at home moms tend to be empowered and informed, creative, industrious and compassionate women.
Wooohhh... ok, time to get off my soap box. Sorry.
I love being a stay at home mom, but I don't want to become insular, ignoring my "neighbor" in need because I am so engrossed in my own family. Recently I applied to volunteer with a local ministry to refugees but something got stuck in the wheel and the process moved very slowly. In that time it hit me that my "neighbor" in need, can be my ... drum roll please... neighbor! Who of us live in places where no one around us could use help financially or emotionally or in some other way? Why don't we start by caring for those directly around us? I'm not saying that we should only do that as I am aware that there are some people in the world who probably would not end up getting cared for properly in that system since some whole countries are in deep need. But still, it is a good place to start.
Since my husband and I have chosen to keep our housing costs as low as possible right now we are in an apartment building where many of the people are below the poverty line and on some sort of government assistance. We realized that when our next door neighbor generously offered to take us to all the local food pantries etc. obviously assuming that we would need it. She taught us about generosity by giving us all of her son's outgrown clothes. I recognized some ugly pride in myself when it was very hard to accept them from her. A little voice in me wanted to shout, "No, I'm WELL OFF, I'm choosing this life right now, it hasn't been forced on me. I should help you, not the other way around!" That moment humbled me as I realized how far I still need to go in becoming a true servant (quite, quite, far really, just ask my husband, or my son once he learns to speak in sentences!) I have in turn had many chances to return her kindness; filling up a gas tank for her when they were out of money in between pay days, taking her son to school when their car was broken or she was out of town helping a friend who was having custody problems with her child, and trying in my broken and stumbling way to explain to her that Christ was the reason for my actions. I have no idea if she was able to understand me, or if she cared, but I am glad that I said it. Especially now that she was just arrested for drug use (turned in by her husband) and her kids were taken away. We don't really understand whats going on there, but need to figure out how to help.
Our informer was another neighbor we have recently met. A round little African American girl who showed up at my door the other day to borrow some milk to make her macaroni. She then asked "If it wasn't too much trouble could she come in and look around?" and then "My mom doesn't get her government check until the end of the week. Could I have some change to go across the street and get some snacks from the vending machine for school tomorrow?" I gave her the change but then asked her if she couldn't possibly get something healthier for her snack. She said, "Well, I get chips, they're healthy right?" When I shook my head she asked, "Should I get HoneyBuns? Would they be healthier?" I sighed and smiled and doled out some of our precious fruit for her snack. I then made a decision. I asked her if she would like to come over a few times a week to help out a bit with my chores and watching my son in exchange for healthy snacks, ( I thought it might be good for her character and her pride to have to work a bit for her food.) She's lonely and jumped at the chance and we have now been doing that every day this week. Yesterday she helped me make soup for dinner (she loves to cook) and took out my trash. In return she got two clementines and celery sticks with all natural peanut butter. Her mom also stopped by during the day for some cinnamon so I got to talk to her for about half an hour after giving her our extra jars of spices that we were given by my grandparents. She talked about her church downtown and her desire to have her daughter take music lessons. She ranted about her ex-husband who wasn't sending child support and the government who only sent $224 in food stamps every month. She wondered if I could take her daughter to her saxophone lessons across town once a week.
All of this has led me to ask more questions and work through more heart issues. The hard thing about giving to neighbors is that you can't "leave them at the door" like you could with other ministries. You go home to them every night. They can knock on your door and ask for more at any time. I am learning to give more, but I am also learning boundaries. Yes, if I have two of something and you are in need I will give my extra. (But, why is she in need when we make do with a $160 monthly food budget (and that's with a 25% increase in the past few months), and she gets $65 more dollars a month for a family the same size?) Yes, you are lonely. You can come spend time with us in the afternoons and "help out." But, no, you can't stay all afternoon, we need some alone time. And yes I do now lock my doors since I know people around me know we have a MacBook etc, when before I didn't lock them. Is that wrong? should I trust more?
I don't know.
I am sorry that this was such a long post, but I have a lot going through my head that I wanted to share. Does anyone have any advice for me? I know Christ says I am to "Love my neighbor as myself." So pray for me as I dive into figuring out what that looks like!
And, I will keep sharing esp. as we begin our Thursday night neighbor dinners where we hope to get to know a new neighbor or two every week!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Simplify to find freedom

(This is adapted from a comment I left on Money Saving Moms blog about simplifying.)

After reading ideas on blogs recently about CVS and coupons I have felt a rush of adrenaline - "oh fun! what a challenge! what a way to save money with grocery prices rising so quickly." But then I talked to my husband and realized that we not only try to keep things simple financially and clutterwise in our home, we also try to keep our lives simple in general. Bargain shopping for me I think would become something to just clutter up my time and mind.
The way that I have found useful to save money is in simplifying our home. Our monthly costs are low bc we live in an inexpensive apt, keep lights off during all but the gloomiest days, don't own a microwave (saves on electric), we dont have clocks (again saves on electric and changes perspective too!), we only have cell phones no land lines, we also dont have a tv which saves electricity, the intial cost of purchase, hours of mindless entertainment, and the extra costs of things like cable etc. When we do watch movies its on our Macbook (a splurge for Ben's grad school and work) that are borrowed from the library that we walk to down the street, and we are very careful to return them on time so the fines don't start adding up.
A way we have found to save money in the kitchen is by not buying meat, I am a vegetarian and my husband only eats meat served to him outside of the home. We don't replace meat with expensive fancy veg options, we just eats lots of vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
I hate the cheap chemically options of things so I have started making my own cleaning supplies, skin care prod and toothpaste out of simple things like hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and lemon juice and I have to say my skin is actually glowing through this pennies and dimes treatment!
We only buy clothes from thrift stores (and i'm trying to only get them when we need them after a recent pep talk from my husband!). We try to mend broken things rather than replacing them, have one car that we try to use as little as possible and instead get exercise from walking and biking. This all has enabled us to live on my husband's start up salary while letting me stay at home with my son while we pay off school loans. I never feel deprived by any of these choices. Start paring down and you'll be surprised by how little you miss and how much you enjoy your new freedom. Plus its fun and empowering to learn to make things from scratch!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The art of informal hospitality PART 1

My husband and I both find deep satisfaction in inviting people into our homes and creating for them a sense of community and loving family. We meet deeply in that common joy and therefore I want to chronicle our stumbling attempts; give advice where I have it, and seek in turn to learn your stories and wisdom in this matter.

When my husband and I moved into our first apartment after returning from our summer-long excursion backpacking Europe two and a half years ago we were hungry for community. As we had never had the blessing of having friends who were also married (or even dating!) we were absolutely delighted to begin forming a friendship with the couple in the apartment across from ours. I had known Emily for most of my life since our moms had been roomates at Wheaton but we had only interacted during occasional reunions esp after Emily's family moved to Alaska. Our paths crossed again at Wheaton college but we lived separate lives where in her words we were only "hi" friends. But, all of a sudden we had all of this shared experience to bond over; both newlyweds married a day apart, childhood friends, parents with history, same college, etc etc. We loved those first awkward dinners and game nights where we strove to dive into relationship. We were both so hungry for couple friends. Then Ben began to invite other young couples from our complex to join us for dinner once a week. After our initial shyness wore off joy abounded. All of a sudden 6 couples had a community where before they had been aliens in a new land!
We finally had those neighbors we could pop over to to borrow a cup of sugar, or a movie, or invite to an impromptu picnic in the courtyard. We shared life together; them watching me as my stomach grew to the size of a barn during those sweltering August days. Them surrounding us and sending dinners and cookies and free babysitting as we adjusted to the 9 lb 7 ozs of screaming new life in our home. We discussed theology and ancient languages; hermeneutics and philosophy in the common context of grad school. We learned the art of squeezing 12 people into a small apartment and cooking a big, healthy and inexpensive meal without getting stressed out. We had SO much fun that year, learning to live life together.

All it took was the initial awkwardness of stopping someone in the hall or on a sidewalk, getting to know them, and inviting them into our home. I challenge you to enrich your lives by practicing the spiritual discipline of hospitality.

to be cont...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The beautiful, and sometimes frustrating thing about life, is that we always have more to learn. The more we peel away of our ugliness and our selfishness the more we see its ugly heart and how many layers are left to remove.
And yet God is patient with us as we dig deeper and He provides us often with beautiful soundtracks to our lives and our work. Right now beyond the clicking of the keyboard, I hear my toddler fighting off his nap by talking to his stuffed animals, and I smile. In the kitchen is the sound of my lentil stew boiling. It fills our house with delicious scent that is making my stomach rumble. It will be my lunch for the week. Outside cars engines are revving and I celebrate the fact that I do not have to leave yet. I am at home with my son. Again birds are tweeting and chirping, new babes calling out for food, moms gossiping through the trees as we call to eachother through the internet.
But, back to what I have to learn in the midst of these blessings given by a patient God...
I am realizing that I need to better use my time. As I have begun to so appreciate the blogs that people have shared with me, I have allowed myself to spend too much time sitting and soaking these things in. Yes, I am mostly getting my household chores done, but there is other maintenance necessary, that of my soul, and my mind, and my body.
As my little one still blesses me by napping, I need to take full advantage of that time to GROW. I have been learning to get my cleaning done while he is awake by letting him be my shadow and my apprentice. He loves it. Yesterday we swept together, he held the pan and I the broom. We scrubbed the floors together, he splashed and rubbed, I scrubbed. We did the dishes together. We vacuumed together, him with his Littly tykes vacuum, I with the real one. We did the laundry together, I pulling out things from the washer, and him throwing it into the dryer.
My mom sent me a great article on child rearing and one of the things that most stuck out to me was that we shouldn't do all of our chores and then spend a bit of time playing with our kids. We should include them as much as possible in EVERY area of our life to mentor them, so they learn, and grow.
All this has meant for me that I now have the gift of very free time during his two naptimes. And I shouldn't just plop down and scroll through the internet, or pop in a movie. I need to read challenging material to keep me informed and my mind sharp. I need to exercise to make my body strong. And, I need most importantly to really set aside time to pray and dive into Scriptures. Even the wisest and most spiritual blogs can't replace that :)
So, yes. Hold me accountable to that. Ask how I am doing. I want to use my time well.
But... today it seems that my son isn't going to give me the gift of a nap as he is in there now hollering out "mama!down down oh please please." Now that he's learning to talk its so much harder to be strict about his naps! Well, goodbye until tomorrow then.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Count your blessings day... or something like that

I have decided to make every Monday both on my blog and in my life a day of Gratitude (inspired by the blog, A Holy Experience. ) I chose Monday b/c so often it can be a day we dread. It might mean five more days of school until I get to another weekend. Or, five more days of work at a job you're not crazy about, or five more days with your husband gone at his work all day. No matter what your circumstance, I though Mondays might be days where we needed to be reminded of all the good in our lives and all we have to be thankful for.
Therefore, every Monday I am going to post 10 specific things that I am thankful for.
Here goes...
As I sit in my one bedroom apartment I am thankful...
1.) That we found this place so quickly upon our return from Norway for about the same price as our old apt. and that it has so much more space than our old apartment (good esp. with our toddler and for entertaining) but is still in walking distance from everything.
2.) Also, that it is run by our old landlord who is extremely lenient about everything which means that we painted our living room wall "Courtyard green" a bright and rich evergreen color, with a white Aragorn tree on it. Beautiful...
3.) After 3 months kept indoors by the cold Illinois weather, that it is 74 degrees outside and birds are chirping and the sun is shining welcoming spring ! (which means parks and hikes and picnics and flowers and animals etc!!)
4.) Speaking of birds I am so grateful that my son is learning to talk so much now (bird being one of his latest words. He likes watching them through the window). His 50 odd words (I counted the other day for his baby book) have alleviated so much of his frustration and enabled him to communicate very well.
5.) Looking across the room from where I sit I see a beautiful asian style quilt that my father's mother made for my birthday. I am so grateful for the artists in my genetic line that have infused me with just a bit of their genes. It helps me to create and see the world in a richer way.
6.) I recently attended a MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) gathering at the church of the lady I babysit for. While there we painted pots and were given seeds and soil to plant them in. I have been like a child every day going over at least twice to see the miracle of new life pushing through the soil and bending toward the sun. It is amazing watching things that were once just small seeds turning into LIFE, vibrant green first and then a glory of color and style. I can't wait to see how the flowers turn out and to begin smelling my basil and cilantro. I am SO thankful that God wrote this beauty into creation.
7.) As my head continues to swivel around the room I spot my bookshelves that are bursting at the seams and I see titles and names of authors that have shaped me in such deep and lasting ways that I am greatly in debt to them. These include George MacDonald, Madeleine L'Engle, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and on and on. Hmmm... perhaps they will become topics of some of my postings this week!
8.) My feet right now are propped up on an antique trunk that my mothers father (my "mor far" in Norwegian) found for me. My grandparents are some of the most generous people I know and they have found great fun in running estate sales in their retirement days from which we constantly receive treasures. Their example of love and charity deeply bless me.
9.) While on the topic of family I will delight in the fact that I am currently living so close to mom's entire family. We are surrounded by local love and get to share meals with parents and grandparents and aunt and uncles and cousins weekly. This I think is increasingly rare as people choose their home spot based on its location or job possibilites rather than family. Perhaps we will follow that example someday and move into the mountains or by the sea, but for now being wrapped in the love of family has enriched our lives amazingly.
10.) And finally I guess I will say that I am thankful for blogs! There are parts of the technological age we are in that I feel cheapen life, and alienate and ostracize people from real relationship. But, the blogs that I have interacted with surround me with such a great cloud of witness and give me a direct link into the hearts and minds of people (esp. women) who are following the same road as I. They share wisdom and wit and encourage me to dive more deeply into the love of Christ and hold me accountable to continuing to grow more into His likeness.
For all these things I thank you God

Saturday, April 19, 2008


As I briefly mentioned in my first post I went through a valley a few years ago that most have to travel through at some point of their lives. I had a broken heart from a relationship that had turned sour, and a church that I had become deeply disillusioned with. Sometimes I worried I might be losing my faith, and with the loss of that I would have been lost indeed. I learned the depth of His meaning to me in the tears I cried. He brought me through my specific valley and taught me even more to trust His promises that he knew the plans He had for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
This song by Bebo Normal both articulated the state of my heart and helped to mend it. I hope it is an encouragement to any of you who might be going through valleys of your own.


Sometimes when I'm all alone
I don't know if I can
Take another breath
Some say home is where the heart is
Tell me where my home is
'Cause i'm scared to death

Falling from the rooftop
Crashing like a raindrop
Can you make my heart stop
Shaking like a leaf
Standing at the floodgate
Steady as an earthquake
Can you hear my heart break
Tearing at the seams

I am drifting in the deep end
Holding on to your hand
Is all that saves me now
Life can treat you like a beggar
You hold me together
But I don't know how

Falling from the rooftop
Crashing like a raindrop
Can you make my heart stop
Shaking like a leaf
Standing at the floodgate
Steady as an earthquake
Can you hear my heart break
Tearing at the seams

Some say home is where the heart is
And my heart is in your hands
You are all I need

Rising from the ashes
Lifting from the madness
Now you see my heart is
Deep enough to dream
Heal me from the deathblow
Lead and I will follow
Now you feel my heart glow
Mending at the seams

Friday, April 18, 2008

Learning to contribute

As I have mentioned I have recently started following the Fly Lady system which I highly recommend. It has really helped me establish routines in my day to make me more productive. Its interesting that the more i've done in my home the more empowered i've felt to do more! I have been feeling guilty that my husband works such long hours while I get to be at home enjoying my son. Now that i've started taking better care of the house and working more throughout the day part of that guilt has become unnecessary.
But I have still wanted to contribute more financially than I have been.
So, I've done two things...
1. Beginning already a rather thrifty person (by choice not nature ha!) I have begun looking for even more ways to SAVE money. I went to the library and checked out some Tightwad Gazette books to help myself get ideas and more importantly get in the right mindset.
a. Whenever we need something now I am trying to have my first thought be "how I can I make or get that for
free?" What do I already have that would substitute for it. Who could I borrow that from? Or
where could I find something that could work instead? We are too often in the habit of
rushing out and buying things as our consumeristic "right and ritual." We think that if its on
sale that we've been good stewards of our money.
b. This has actually been a fun challenge that has unleashed my creativity. When I think of
throwing away a pair of old stretched out, or uninteresting pants I now try to come up with
ways that I could simply update them. When we began running out of kitchen soaps, and
body wash I went online to find out how to make natural versions out of simple ingredients.
2. I have also started looking for small ways to make money.
a.My son and I babysit a local family with two girls 2-3 times a week which has worked really
well for us as its a way to make money without leaving my son, and we get out of the house in
a way that lets him play with other kids.
b. As i've been decluttering my home i've realized how many books we have that we will
never read or even need to lend out again. So, today I put them all up for sale at If
all eleven sell we will have around $250 coming in! (Two of them were old textbooks.)
c. I love thrift store shopping. I recently found a Michael Kors tunic new with tags for $4. I
checked and I could easily sell it on ebay for 5 times as much. Or, I might send it to my
grandma for her birthday, she loves his clothes! (Yep, my dad's mom has cute, funky, style.)
d. Finally, I have tons of ideas for things I want to make and sell somewhere like if I
ever get up the nerve. One of them is a spin off of the Fly Ladies office in a bag. it's a great
idea but hers just kindof looks like a binder cover. I want to make one that looks like a cool,
vintage, messenger bag, but still has all of the pockets necessary to hold note cards, pens,
your journal, paper, a calculator, phone, post it notes, etc. etc. I have started doing this with
my beautiful messenger style, multi pocketed diaper bag that my dad got me for my birthday
from Moveable Feast in Geneva. Now, whenever i'm stuck in a waiting room or as a
passenger on a car ride I can just whip it out and write Thank you notes or letters that I
normally would never get around to. My mom just called to tell me that her parents had
received a card I wrote in a spare moment and were so touched they were nearly in tears. All
it did was put down in words how I feel about them and what i'm grateful for about them. But
if I hadn't had those cards with me I probably would never have thought to write it.

Well thats all for now but this is probably a topic I will be revisiting quite often as I come up with new ideas of ways to save and make money. Please send me any ideas you have had!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A verse for my day

Pro 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Being a blessing

When I first got married I had the humbling realization that I wasn't going to have a happy, healthy marriage, and be constantly adored just on the merit of my charming personality. I needed to learn to be a contributing member to our home and our partnership. This especially hit home in the area of our house.
I grew up untameable in my messiness. I saw it as part of my free-spirited personality. Procrastination was my middle name. My mom tells stories of telling me that I "at least had to make my bed each day!" So, I made it once, and then slept on top of the covers every night to avoid the daily chore. Once I got married I realized (and was told) that this attitude wouldn't be accepted. God chose to mold my, and my husband's, characters by letting two opposite personalities fall in love.
My husband is a very driven, hard worker, with high standards for himself and everyone around him, who never puts anything off that could be done immediately. He can't rest in a space until its clean, uncluttered, and beautiful. If I planned on "doing it later" he in frustration would end up doing it himself and resent me for it. I struggled with my unwillingness to love and serve him by better caring for our home. To add to this challenge, I got pregnant immediately after getting married which sent out the window our plans for me to work to put Ben through grad-school. I refused to put my son in day-care. Therefore, Ben worked long hours at a few part-time jobs to pay our bills and I slept continually, exhausted by my first trimester of pregnancy.
Once I had my son, my husband started a full time Masters program and fostered the growth of a small tutoring business he had started. I began trying harder and harder to do a better job of caring for our home, but I had SO MANY years of bad habits to unlearn. I would be incredibly proud of a baby step and my husband wouldn't see its worth as the overall cleanliness of our home was still sub-par. I started working two exhausting part time jobs when Rowan was 4 months old, and left him either with Ben or with my mom. This didn't improve my abilities as a homemaker. Obviously, this all put a huge strain on my marriage and at some points it felt that we were barely hanging on.
We never would've thought there could be such screaming matches and disillusionment due to cleaning! We had gotten along so well in dating, but living together was hard. Honestly it went deeper than just cleaning habits. It was a heart issue. I was not willing to serve my husband in the ways he needed to be served. I loved him how I wanted to and not in the ways he could receive that love. And he perceived that. It put such a burden on him to work so hard while I wouldn't pull my own weight.
Finally, this year my attitude changed. I loved him so much I wanted to bless him by giving him a peaceful home to return to each night, esp. now that he is working full time and I am full time at home. A huge help for me has been the Fly Lady system that humorously, with understanding and grace, has helped me to become more organized, and to replace my bad habits with good ones. I have made friends with other young moms who could share in my struggles and achievements when before I had no one to walk with me in that way. I started attending mother's groups through my church, and following Blogs such as Home Living, A Fruitful Vine, and At a Hen's Pace that all mentored me in how to grow.
I had been so scared of losing my identity and my free spiritedness that I was allowing myself to cripple my marriage and be enslaved to constant chaos. Now that I've become willing to change, I find that I can still be myself while having a handle on my life. And Ben loves it! He loves to come home to a clean house, a hot healthy dinner, and a happy well rested boy. (well... most of the time! :0) We now enjoy each other without constantly bickering over things.
I'm still taking baby steps on this path, but the results are so gratifying and immediate that its encouraging me to run. I enjoy being a blessing and now that my home is less chaotic I have so much more energy to not only bless my family but to bless others as well and build life giving friendships and community. Thank you to all of you who help me to be a blessing.
Please pray for me as I continue to follow this path.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Please share advice!

As those of you who know me know, I have a wonderfully loving, adventurous, intelligent, and RASCALLY toddler. I'm not even sure if I can properly call him a toddler anymore b/c now he's more of a sprinter, esp. at the library. As soon as I turn away off he goes, head tucked, arms pumping, weaving his way around the library. Last night when Ben and I went for a run he insisted on running with us instead of riding in his stroller. He got to the sidewalk, and then gave up and crawled into his stroller huffing and puffing.

All that to say, I need some advice from those who have gone before, or those who are fighting this delightful and still trying battle beside me.

My son is at the stage where he is constantly testing me to see who the authority is, to find out the boundaries. But, I don't think I have yet convinced him that I'm the authority, not he.
He reminds me of my parents black lab when he was a puppy. You had to watch him constantly b/c he was always roaming looking for the next thing to steal and chew and jump up on.
For example, yesterday I was sweeping the kitchen and he came looked at me defiantly and started dancing in the pile, no matter how sternly I spoke telling him to move. Once, I had finally finished and moved him away he ran over and climbed on the table (a no-no) and started dumping the salt out. When I removed that from him and put him back on the ground, he snagged a candle stick and began running around the room and banging things with it, and on and on until I wanted to lay down and throw a temper tantrum.

I have tried all the things I can think of with him as consistently as possible and not met with success.
We have tried time out in his crib - it makes him see it as a place of punishment and refuse to nap in it afterwards.
We have tried time out in his room - he throws lamps on the ground and breaks them, and then refuses to let us back in the door to get him. I guess punishing us for punishing him!
We have tried turning him around at the table when he throws food - but he turns around and throws it again immediately.
We have tried spanking his hand - but its not enough of a deterrent to the delightful mischief he wants to engage in. When we were in Norway the only source of heat in our old farmhouse were a few space heaters with BIG, EXCITING, RED, on and off buttons. He would go over to them, we would say no. We try to give him the opportunity in non dangerous situations to make the right choice. He would look down at his hand and stroke it, and go ohhh ohhh with a concerned look on his face thinking through the consequences of what he wanted to do. He would look at us, look at the button, look at us, look at the button. And then, push the button. Over and over. Sometimes he even spanks himself, and then proceeds to his misdeed.
We have tried ignoring him so as to not give negative attention - this just gives him free reign!

Dobson recommends basic deterrence tactics - baby proof your house to the point that there is no longer anything to say no to. But this is only possible to a point. There will always be cords on lamps to yank, things to climb.
Honestly, for those who know my husband and I, we are pretty laid back people. We only say no to things that will seriously injure him or others or break things(ie we let him dance on the chest in the living room even though he occasionally falls off, but we don't let him use our CutCo set like swords, he can drum on the walls with spoons but he can't drum on our faces.)

Is it possible to mold an obedient spirit in a toddler, or is the highest goal at this point merely to deter him from harm and redirect him?

Please send advice. I welcome ideas and stories to help me raise my fun, crazy little son to be a good man.
I don't want to force him into being a quiet child who sits in the corner and twiddles his thumbs. I LOVE his adventurous curious spirit and want to foster his zest for life. But, I also want to see in him a willingness to obey me, in order that he will learn to submit to God.

Ok thanks in advance! I look forward to reading your advice.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sauntering to the Holy Land

from Thoreau's essay, "Walking"

"They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean...the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea."
I want to point out something that hit me while I was reading this essay today. In our lives we are to be saunterers; walkers, explorers with purpose. We are seeking the Holy Land, God's kingdom on earth, not geographically but in justice and beauty. We are actively seeking to join in the process of our sanctification. We must never sit back and let life happen to us. Even though sometimes we will feel like a meandering river we must remember that that river is, and must be "sedulously seeking the shortest course" to its destination or else it will dry up. Sometimes the shortest course is not an obvious straight line. And lets also encourage ourselves by remembering Tolkien's quote in the prophecy about Aragorn, "All who wander are not lost."While we choose to trust God in where He will take us we must still saunter on. And when we feel lost in our sauntering we must turn our faces East, trust our guide even if we cannot see Him, and take another step toward the Holy Land.

Friday, April 11, 2008

To Hope

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
When no fair dreams before my mind's eye flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head.

Whene'er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon's bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moon beams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof.

Whene'er the fate of those I hold most dear
Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
O bright eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
Let me awhile thy sweet comforts borrow:
Thy heaven born radiance around me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!

Should e'er unhappy love my bosom pain,
From cruel parents, or relentless fair;
O let me think it is not quite in vain
To sigh out sonnets to the midnight air!
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy siler pinions o'er my head!

In the long vista of the years to roll,
Let me not see our country's honor fade:
O let me see our land retain her soul,
Her pride, her freedom; and not freedom's shade.
from thy bright eyes unusual brightness shed--
Beneath thy pinions canopy my head!

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veiled face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o'er my head.


This poem is in a book I keep in the bathroom for some of my only minutes of privacy a day :)
I highly recommend poetry in the bathroom!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My story

Here I am, sitting in my living room, doing precisely what I used to scorn my mother for. I'm a mom of an 18 month old rascal who I adore. I'm the wife of a man who is currently working in the world of high finance, (although we want to eventually become farmers and sink our fingers into the soil... its quite the long story of how we are where we are.) And I am NOT a high powered member of an NGO, which I always expected.
Life takes twists and turns; ducks into valleys and then races up mountaintops.
I love it.
Once I learned to trust that I was loved and would be cared for I began to truly enjoy this unpredictable journey.
5 years ago I was in California studying International Politics and planning to change the world through grassroots NGOs.
4 years ago I was in California planning to forsake my education and travel the world with an evangelical, fundamentalist missions group.
3 years ago I moved back to the Chicago area, committed to a decade of singleness, my cynicism running so deep, and my angst so overwhelming that I nearly lost the soul of my life, my faith.
2 years ago I married an incredibly intelligent and driven man who held my hand while together we battled out of that pit. He planned to be a professor of Philosophy and I planned to work in the inner city until we could join the Peace Corps.
That summer we travelled Europe together and experienced deep healing from our church related wounds. When we returned home we sunk our toes into one of the healthiest church bodies i've ever had the chance to be a part of and drank deeply from its fount of grace.
1 1/2 years ago I gave birth to a 9 lb 7 oz bundle of energy.
1 year ago Ben lost his faith in academic philosophy's power to transform, and I was working two part time jobs and caring for a six month old son.
8 months ago we cut all ties and planned to move to California to pursue a lucrative job opportunity in the medical business community.
7 months ago we opted out of that move and instead spent 2 months with my grandparents deep in Louisuana, marinating in the rich traditions of Southern community and hospitality.
6 months ago Ben ran the Chicago Marathon and the next day we moved to Norway and lived, praying and listening for direction, and peace while making organic soap and tending the grounds of a Cistercian monastery on the island of Tautra.
4 months ago we returned once again to the Chicago area, with much more peace, but still no direction except that eventually we hoped to own and work a small organic farm, positioned so we could still serve others, and yet deep in beautiful (hopefully mountainous) country. And we also knew that close community, deep roots, and rich hospitality were central and integral to our vocation.
2 months ago, after applying for jobs across the globe from house parents in Omaha, to directors of a homeless shelter in Seattle, Ben was offered the one job in the "for--profit " industry that he had applied for. He took it, and now he is gone from 6:24 until 5:52 Monday through Friday working within a bond-sales firm. He is learning deep and good lessons about hard work and integrity from these men of character that he is daily surrounded by.But, we keep casting out the line for people to join us, buy land, and create rural utopia. (I know, I know, it doesn't really exist.
This month, and this day, I look back over those years and laugh at myself as over and over again I sought to control my life, and over and over again control was taken from my hands and I was forced to follow and trust and then receive a life better than what I had raced toward.

I am a DEEPLY happy and contented mother, dreaming of having more children, rejoicing in each day I spend getting to know the one I already have. I am reclaiming the delightful role of homemaking that I scoffed at along with most other women of my and the past few generations. I love learning to better love my husband and my son. My soul dances at learning to mold a home that can be a refuge of beauty not only for my family but for our friends as well. I take joy in simple things like baking bread, developing friendships, and learning, LEARNING, the complex art of shaping a home, a good life.
I welcome your help along the way.
I am newly fluttering on this path.

I invite you to join me as I contemplate and process what I discover.

But now I must say, "It is well, it is well, with my soul."