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Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Academic Flu

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2009 at 9:43 pm

I have been hit with a case of the academic flu…it’s rather terrible. I seem to get it once or twice a year when school is at its most busy and overwhelming point. The academic flu usually involves the following symptoms:

1) A book that I want to read enters my home.

2) I pick up the book casually and say I’ll read the first chapter over dinner…after all how can I type papers while I am eating?

3) The first chapter is never enough. I get sick immediately. Sick with the need to keep reading. Two hours will tick by. With each passing hour I will say at the end of this chapter I’m going to turn to my school work.

4) The symptoms come on a night when my husband has gone to hang out with a friend and is therefore not home to keep me accountable to my  school work.

This is the type of strain I get most often. Sometimes when new birds migrate to Richmond I get a case of needing to go visit friends during finals. This does not happen as often. Not sure why this is. I don’t have a vacination for this strain. Come to think of it I don’t have any academic flu vaccinations. I guess I’d rather have the academic flu every once and awhile versus mercury poisoning. Either way I’m sick. I’ve got a case of “First They Killed My Father” flu.

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Gardening as worship

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 at 5:53 pm

We finally started our garden. At present we have a plot of about five feet by seven that will hopefully, come summer time spill forth with the earth\’s bounty…aka we are planting in our small, SMALL, front yard and hoping that something aside from weeds will grow. We were going to plant the garden with some friends of ours but the timing never worked out  so we called our landlord to ask if we could dig up his front yard and he said yes. In fact, being the gracious man that he is, he came out and talked to us while we were gardening and offered to let us plant across the street at another one of the houses he owns. What a blessing. We started last Saturday and came back to it about two nights ago. Already I am learning things. I have learned that to grow peppers you should put two matches underneath them because peppers require sulfur. I am learning that things that are important take time. Right now we are concentrating on turning the soil and we are weeding it as we go. Since our entire front yard is covered in weeds this is taking quite a bit of time. There are also a lot of rocks. You cannot use the shovel in these areas. You have to get down on your knees with a spade and with your bare hands dig through the soil to find and remove each and every rock.

It has been rather wonderful so far. It takes a lot of time, but I believe it is a much better investment than many other things we could spend our time on. It helps Phil and I invest in our relationship as we sit and talk for hours. It helps us to live out our belief in not oppressing others or the earth through our lifestyle and consumption. It gives us the oppertunity to smile and say hello to strangers who walk by. More than anything it is allowing me to commune with our creator. Sticking your hands into God\’s creation is a great way to be in contact and have a conversation with him or her. I believe it can be a form of worship. Like all forms of worship it requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of time. Sacrifice of control. Phil and I can plant and tend to the garden…but in the end it is only God who can make anything grow.

So Lord…because I know you read my blog I ask you to make our tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, herbs, and any other vegetables we plant grow.

Music in my Uncertainity

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm

You know how some music gets into your soul? How as soon as it comes on it takes you to a different place? Amos Lee is that way with me. I simply have to hear the first notes of the first song and I instantly feel that I am surrounded by a friend who understands what I am facing in that moment. He does me right when I am happy. He does me right when I am having a less than great day. He does me right when I am stressed.

Tonight Phil put him on and as usual when I heard the first notes my heart was soothed. I am a rather overwhelmed tonight. There are some things going on with me and people who I love that has left me grappling once again with circumstances beyond my reach. I sat on our couch tonight and felt waves of hopelessness wash over me. They were quickly followed by a tidal wave of stress. Phil came over to me and put his arms around me for awhile. We prayed. Phil all the way and me partway as I went between trusting God and trying to figure it out on my own. I cannot figure these things out though. Remember us Lord. You tell me to trust and I am trying. It’s hard. I suppose between now and the time you choose to move God I will be listening to a lot of your friend Amos Lee.

Deliver Us

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2009 at 9:11 am

I came across this video the other day. Please be advised that there will be a lot of profanity. It is incredibly heartbreaking, enraging, and offensive in so many ways. Dear Lord show us a better way. Rescue us from this darkness we have chosen to walk in. Deliver us into the light of your kingdom of love and peace.

on the front porch

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 7:13 am

Life has been a funny thing for me this week. I feel it carrying me all over the place. It has felt pretty magical to me this afternoon. I would have been at my internship today but my coworkers took one look at me and told me to go home. They then stepped back a few steps. I harbor no ill feelings. I do the same thing. So I found myself back home again around 9am. I got on the internet for awhile, thought better of my life and turned off my computer. I did some Bible reading and then settled into a two hour nap. I woke up around lunch time and dragged myself up. I felt pretty rough. I got on my bike and braved the ride to Kroger…which is across the street but still terrifying  to a new rode bike rider like me. By the time I bought the groceries, looked at the Red Box selections twice only to conclude there were no good options, and rode home I was exhausted. Fixing my lunch was the last thing I wanted to do. This sickness has taken away my appetite to some degree. I made lunch anyways. 1 tomato+ 1 avocado+ red onion+ jalapenos+ re fried beans+ a little bit of vegan sour cream all mixed together in a bowl and eaten with corn chips. Upon finishing its preparation I decided to eat lunch on the front porch. This decision made all the difference.

Reading is such a pleasure for me. When reading books I escape. I found myself. I feel safe. Alive. Aware of things I was aware of before. Reading has been a huge part of me since my childhood. Books protected me when things were not so good. They allowed me to live beyond myself. They have always been true friends to me, always willing to share a long conversation. This afternoon was no different. I sat down on my front porch steps with my bowl of dip in my lap and my book in hand. Beside me were the box of tissues that have become my spring break bff, my nalgene, and the bag of chips. I ate and read. Read and ate. It was delightful. The warm sun beamed down on me and every once and awhile I would look up with my eyes closed in hopes of allowing the vitamin D greater access to my innermost being. I love relaxing in the sun when I am sick because I always feel that I am doing what is best for my body, besides sleep, and enjoying every minute of it.

The book I am reading, “all over but the shoutin” has continued to enthrall me. It is so honest about everything. The hard parts are handled with careful dignity and even beauty. There are some moments when he writes about his mother that I practically cried over the beautiful sacrifice, truthfulness, and hardship of it all. The way the author explores his life has made me think so much about life over the past few days. My mind dances through some thoughts and ideas, races through and around others, and sometimes suffers and quakes under the burden of things I cannot make sense of or make right.

After awhile of sitting on the brick steps my butt told me it needed a break. I took my lunch inside and sliced up an orange I had bought at the store. As I walked around the fruit section earlier the words of one my coworkers had come back to me. As I was walking out the door she yelled after me to drink lots of orange juice and I assured her I would. I am not sure why I did that. I do not even care for orange juice that much. I suppose I said yes out of habit. Either way as I placed some grapes into my bag I felt the need to go in search of an orange to at least make good on my word in some regard. I took my orange back out onto the porch and arranged the chairs so that I could sit on own and have my feet propped up with the other.

From my chair I continued to bathe in the sun and let the breeze blow my hair every which way. The orange was messy. Really messy, and I did not care the slightest bit. It got all over me. My shirt bore the brunt and I am sure there are a couple of chapters in my book that will have sticky pages but it is all just fine. I sat there on the front porch until the clouds finally captured the afternoon sunlight and then I simply went inside opened the windows and continued to read.

I live a good, if not great life by all accounts. I know that I am loved. I know that I have been redeemed. I have been given an incredible partner to walk through life with. I have been given family and friends to pursue and create life with. I am surrounded by people on this pilgrimage with whom I can bear my struggles, doubts, and passions. No matter how poor Phil and I are we can usually scrounge up some money for a cheap but good bottle of red wine and then sit drinking it together on our couch or bed where I will lay my head on his shoulder. I am blessed with the opportunity to go to school and study something I am passionate about. I have  been given the luxury to travel all over the world. To see God in many shapes and forms. Sometimes I am given the privilege to spend an afternoon on my front porch with a good book and a juicy orange. When I meditate on these things they begin to outweigh how Phil and I’s struggle to pay our bills. The fact that we have no idea how we are going to pay for our Cambodia trip does not worry me as much. Neither does having no idea how I am going to pay to study in the Dominican Republic this summer. The fact that Phil and I have overall ideas of what our calling is but no real specifics about what next year looks like is okay. God is watching over us. He has not let us go hungry yet. He has given me great sunshine in the midst of my sickness. He has given me rest. Actually,  I think I shall stop here in favor of taking a nap.

Is God Green? & An Assortment Of Other Things

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2009 at 11:57 am

I have been fighting some sort of sickness since last Friday. I felt pretty crappy all day. We did not run on either Friday or Saturday in an effort to ward off the potential sickness. We spent a lot of time with friends instead. On Friday Phil got off work and we went to Capitol Ale House with his coworkers to hang out. It was great to meet the people he worked with…but sitting outside was not so nice on the sore throat I had. When we left we went home and took a nap in preparation for the second part of our evening. When we woke up we went to Ellwood Thompsons for my kombucha and then continued on to my friend Kate’s apartment. There Phil got to meet the classmates I hang out with most awesome. I love those people and so it was great to have Phil be able to get to know them a little. We played Rock Band…I cannot say that I am a big fan. Just not my thing. Sure I laughed at it…but I am all about conversational hangouts. It is just who I am. Saturday was more friends. We spent a couple hours in Byrd Park with a lot of my friends from HOP and it was great to catch up with them. Later on that night we went out with friends to celebrate my friend Jocelyn’s birthday. All in all it was a great weekend of relationship. I am so thankful for friends.

Sunday was great too. We had lunch with Hannah and then went back to Phil’s parents house for the afternoon where I spent at least an hour napping on the trampoline. It was great. As Monday rolled around yesterday I was excited for my Spring Break week. It was beautiful outside like it had been all weekend and I planned to enjoy it all. My day included time in the morning spent with God. Phil and I are working on waking up earlier to spend time with God before we start our day…and of course yesterday after Phil left for work I had even more time. I am trying very hard to catch up with the Cornerstone chronological bible reading plan. I also really need to finish Yoder’s “the politics of Jesus”…I have been reading it for far too long, or perhaps I should say not reading it for far too long and I will not let myself begin any new devotional books until I am done. The rest of my morning was spent in Harrison Street Coffee shop and Barnes and Noble. I took my first bike ride. I was rather terrified at times and I am sure looked ridiculous on more than one occasion, but I at least did it. I rode to the Fantastic Thrift but found neither anything I wanted or needed. My afternoon was spent lying in my front yard eating and reading. I am reading a book for school called “all over bu the shoutin”. It has been eye opening, beautiful, and heartbreaking all at once. I recommend the book so far. When Phil got home we went for a run in the breezy early evening. The weather was beautiful. The city was alive. I was miserable. I do not think I have ever struggled that much with three miles. Uggghh. Thankfully it ended at we got to spend the rest of our evening with our prayer small group.

So I realize that I have been spouting off words for a long time now…and it may seem like I am simply sharing a journal entry of my last couple of days…but truly the point was to create a link between what started last Friday and the sick girl I am today. It is almost one o’clock in the afternoon and I have only left my bed to go to the bathroom and get some fruit and tea from the kitchen. It has been hard to motivate my body just to do those things. I am not sure what I have, but it is not enjoyable in the least. I woke up this morning at 6:30 and just knew I was not going to make it. I called my boss and told her I would not be making it in today…thankfully I was only scheduled for a half day anyways…and then asked Phil if he would be okay doing everything on his own this morning. Phil got up and got ready in the dark…and God love him left me green tea for when I woke up. I am so thankful for him.

So far this morning I have watched the pile of tissues on my bed become a mountain…which is an ironic statement because I have also watched Bill Moyer’s special called “is God green?” that highlights the fight by Christians in West Virginia against mountain top removal. It really is having a horrible effect on the environment and the people who live there. I have also paid some bills online, cleaned out my email inbox, taken vitamins, and overall rejoiced that the internet is working again. Now I suppose I am off to my Bible, my Yoder, my school work, a nap, and hopefully recovery from this appalling attack of sickness on my Spring Break…ohhh I am also looking for my friend Allison because I have neither seen nor heard from her in far too long. Allison…Allison…

I pray you all remain healthy. I pray that as you walk through your day you will be aware of God all around you. God in you, God in others, God in the trees, God in the wind, God in the hard places, God in our selfish lives where we think/and pray more for ourselves than for all that we are surrounded by. Be blessed friends.

In Capitalism We Trust

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I really do not like  capitalism…capitalism as it is manifested today is pretty messed up. Saying that you greatly dislike capitalism is bound to get you labeled as a “communist”, “socialist”, perhaps “evil/crazy liberal”, or “hippie”. The statement will also be met with many passionate defenses of capitalism and why it is so great.and so necessary.

I think that history has shown the flaws of communism, socialism, whatever -ism you want. I am not arguing in favor of them. They have been shown to not work. The problem is that capitalism is not working either.

From my white, suburban, middle-class mindset I was not required to face the ugly side of capitalism while growing up. I’m privileged. There is no getting around the benefits I have drawn from being white and while not quite middle class somewhere close. Going to college was not a big deal. Of course I was going to go. Of course it would be payed for somehow. Of course it made sense for me to go on to graduate school. God willing I will never have to work an unskilled job.

The thing though is that capitalism runs off the fact that there will be many people who will not have the same opportunities that I have had and will therefore be willing to work low to unskilled jobs. Throughout the twentieth century industrialized countries have seen huge a huge growth in wealth. Our capitalistic economies have been based off an unending growth model. Nothing is ever enough. More money needs to be made and can be made. How is this done? How is this greed satisfied? What tools does this greed employ? Oppression. Exploitation. Violence. Lies. Capitalism in the form we have today hinges on having an oppressed lower class of people that can be easily exploited. People who will do whatever necessary to survive. As a consumer in America I can buy things for very cheap because Walmart is able to employ individuals from China and throughout the developing world who will work in sweatshops for less than a dollar a day. This works out great for me and Walmart. I can buy things for cheap. Walmart can still make a tidy profit.

I have to ask myself however, if the great price I get for my Gap jeans is worth women working twelve hour shifts where they are paid maybe $2.50 per day…and then in addition forced to sign contracts that say they will not go to church, attend any other recreational groups, date, get pregnant, and if pregnancy occurs have an abortion. I do not think the answer should be yes for anyone, but I believe it must be no for Christians.

Many Christians though are so entrenched in conservative politics that they adamantly support capitalism in all its dangerous forms. In class we have been watching a series of videos that examines the unethical and illegal behavior of Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff among others. Jack Abramoff was one of the biggest lobbyists in D.C. and Tom Delay was an incredibly powerful Republican congress member. The video examines how working together they used the conservative Christian base to rally support for free market capitalism to continue allowing sweat shops exist on American soil. They did their best to completely cover up the sweat shop issue. They painted a picture of women having amazing employment opportunities from generous employers. Tom and Jack’s success was both astounding and maddening.

I realize that I am simply arguing against a system right now and not offering many alternatives. I do believe there are alternatives. I believe there is hope. I will write about these things too at some point. For now though I hope we can all begin to examine this capitalistic system we buy into. What does it mean that our former President did not call us a nation of people or citizens, but that instead referred to us many times as a nation of consumers? As Christians can we stand and support a system that oppresses and exploits our brothers and sisters? As Christians can we support a system that has and does use violence to maintain its dominance and continued profit? What would Jesus do? What did Jesus do? I pray that we can all return to our holy scriptures to find out how our Savior confronted oppression and exploitation. May we be guided by his example and his words. Not the words of our politicians. Not the words of Wall Street.

Next time you buy something stop. Think about where the product comes from. If you do not know where it comes from find out. Think about how much the person was probably paid for their labor. If you do not know then try your best to find how much they made. Think about the fact that those workers could easily have been you. I was not born privileged by my own doing. It happened to work out that way. They were not born oppressed by their own doing. It just happened to work out that way.

Lastly pray. Pray hard. This broken world really needs it.