December 30, 2011

Road Trip!

Husband, Baby, and I have made a road trip to FL from TN for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. We have spent some days relaxing, but mostly we've been doing a lot of driving between the homes of Husband's parents, extended family members and a few friends, including T!

I've done a lot of road trips in my life.  In college, I'd ride between FL and PA over holiday breaks and summer vacations.  In grad school, I drove back and forth from Atlanta to both PA and FL to see family and friends, respectively. I don't do the crazy 18-hour trips any more... once I started making a reasonably steady paycheck, I gave myself an 8-hour limit. Still, after all those long ones in college, the 5-hr trek to or from Asheville seems like a breeze.

Road trips with a baby are a new experience, though.  Babies don't know to wait till the gas tank gets close to empty before they cry because they are hungry.  Babies don't know that there are 9 miles till the next exit, and that it's impossible to play peek-a-boo when they're in a rear-facing car seat.  They can't help it when they poop in the confined space of the car--when they gotta go, they gotta go! Our baby is still too young to appreciate one of those car DVD players, as a movie is only entertaining for ten minutes or so, max. We read stories and pulled out a bunch of toys which were generally fun for a few minutes each.  I sat in the back for most of the trip (thank you God, for Dramamine!) and entertained and/or soothed as needed. (This is also b/c the new car seat is so big that the passenger seat is practically up in the dashboard.)

So the drive that should have taken 9 hours took 11, which is still worth it to see Nana and Pappy, and to watch them experience her for the first time in six months.

Any advice on road trips with babies?
How 'bout teething babies?

T- good to see you, an hour wasn't enough!

December 29, 2011

Why I Love Sesame Street

I freaking LOVE Sesame Street. I loved it when I was a kid and now I DVR it for my own kid. We watch it together and while she’s learning to count with me and Elmo, my feminist heart is doing fist bumps with my feminist brain. And even when her attention span only gets her through the first five minutes, I can’t stop watching it. In the most recent episode I saw, actor Paul Rudd was playing a “storybook prince” who appeared every time Rosita, Abby and a penguin were confronted with a challenge during their game of Princess. In a last ditch effort to prove himself useful, he pulls out his trump card and, when that fails, a pity party ensues. If you have a few minutes, watch this clip.

Awesome, right? As a feminist, I love it when something on TV actually aligns with my value system and supports my parenting efforts. I also love when Sesame Street takes a dig at Disney. I don’t have to write about why feminists don’t enjoy Disney – the blogosphere has already taken care of that for me. I just can’t support its woman’s-worth-based-on-that-of-the-male-character stories. This isn't to say that kids who worship Disney princesses turn out to be rotten eggs or spoiled brats - just ask one my dear friends who's daughter has a trunk-full of princess costumes. Its all in the parenting. I like that Sesame Street has female characters who use logic, creativity and teamwork to get the job done, just as the male characters do. The messages of independence and girl-power are ones I can support and reinforce with real-life lessons at home. I love when Rosita asks, “How is kissing her feet going to get her out of the mailbox?” Duh Prince, your silly little kisses don’t save lives or get people out of sticky situations. Even puppets know that.
As an educator and a parent, I have a deep respect and appreciation for Sesame Street. I love that Sesame Street isn’t afraid to create episodes that incorporate ethics, emotions, respect, problem-solving, diversity, character, relationships, and tough social issues. Their crafty team of researchers, writers and puppeteers knock it out of the park every episode. Sesame Street has been on the air for over 40 years and has won more than 100 Emmy Awards.

December 27, 2011

Under The Sea

Like most children at some point in their life, Little E loves the ocean. I may have rubbed off on her a bit - fish are, of course, my favorite animal! However, this summer at the beach she was a pig in mud. We collected ugly white shell after ugly white shell. Yes, I am a bad mom and threw a lot of them back when she was not looking.

Little E's birthday is on the horizon. I asked her if she wanted a theme for her party. (A, she loves themes. You would be so proud.) This year it seems we will be including the ocean and seahorses! I started planning by making a board on Pinterest of ideas. It will be lots of fun to turn my mom's dining room into an aquatic environment. Do you have any favorite ideas for a child's birthday party?


December 26, 2011

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Miracles Are Happening!

Luke 1:26–38 (NIV) 26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 34Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God." 38Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! The Lord is with you

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Do not be afraid

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! You have found favor with God

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! You will conceive and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Nothing will be impossible with God

These are the announcements from the angel Gabriel to Mary. Up until this announcement, Mary was just an ordinary young peasant woman, living in a remote village. I imagine that when she received this announcement from Gabriel, she was going about her normal daily routine, with no hint that she was destined for this role….And then, the announcement that basically says:

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Miracles are happening!!

Miracles are happening with you!

And through you!

I think that during this time of year we are in the mood for miracles, and this annunciation contains all the ingredients needed to satisfy the yearning…We have an angel appearing as if out of nowhere, and a virgin learning that she will defy nature and bear a child. To add to all of this, the angel talks about another miracle - a woman well beyond childbearing years is in the sixth month of a pregnancy. The angel is referring to Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin.


And how does it come to be that we have these miracles?….Gabriel answers this with, “Nothing will be impossible with God." These are more than announcements for Mary. These words from Gabriel are announcements for us today.

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Miracles are happening!!

Miracles are happening with you!

And through you!

I love this narrative in Luke. I love it from the first announcement:

"The Lord is with you!"

I don’t think that it is possible to hear this enough. This narrative is a reminder that we are not going at our lives alone. God planned for Jesus. God specified the circumstances preceding Jesus’ birth, and designed a plan that greatly affected Mary. Well, Gabriel’s words provide a reminder that our lives are not initiated wholly by human effort and intention. Although the details rarely are readily apparent, God takes part in the unfolding of human existence, from before the moment of our conception. God does not control our lives, but God takes part in the unfolding of our lives. And God has plans for us - plans for good and not for disaster, to give us a future and a hope.

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! The Lord is with you!

God bursts into the earthly realm with Jesus, and God continues to break into our lives with the holy all the time. Mary was not at all anticipating this announcement to come her way. We, also, cannot anticipate the ways that God will break into human history - into our history! God’s breaking in, brings new life, AND new possibilities. As Gabriel says about Elizabeth’s own pregnancy, “nothing will be impossible with God.”

As we prepare for Christmas, I think that it is a happy time, filled with excitement and joy. However, as much of a happy time as this season is for some, I think that for many it is an especially hard time of the year, maybe even the hardest. It can be a lonely time, a financially difficult time, a time of worry and sometimes regret. And it may be tempting to imagine that the human predicament, whether we define this as the state of our warring world or the state of our broken lives, can never be healed or overturned.

Yet Luke’s gospel tells us that not only is redemption possible, it has already happened. Because of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ, Salvation has already happened! And the holy continues to break into our lives, bringing us new life, and new possibilities.

This announcement of the long-awaited birth of the Messiah also makes it clear that we do not create our own salvation, nor do we have the capacity to imagine the ways of God. Well, since we cannot imagine the ways of God, I think that when we hear God’s astonishing announcement:

Miracles are happening! Miracles are happening with you and with me!

And through you and me!

We are puzzled.


How can it be?

Miracles are happening with me, through me?

I, am a part of God’s working in the world?

Are you sure? Are you sure thats a good idea?

Does this mean more work for me?

How often do we feel unworthy, thinking that there is someone better qualified, someone more articulate, someone better trained, someone with more energy, someone with more time? We sound just like Mary, “How can this be?” I am glad that Mary’s first response was this. I think that Mary’s puzzlement grants us permission to take time to adjust to astonishing news, to question whether or not God’s astonishing promises are for real and to contemplate what it means for us. This is what is called discernment.

When Mary hears this message, her response is cautious at best. After-all, there is nothing overtly special about Mary. She is an ordinary young peasant woman, living in a remote village far from the busy religious center of Jerusalem. Yet Gabriel announces that God has found favor with her. God chooses Mary because she has nothing - she is a young girl in a society that values men and maturity. Later Mary writes a song of praise and identifies herself as lowly and poor. In other words, not one who is favored in the human realm, but God has shown favor with her.

Well, through our baptisms we are children of God, and God has found favor with you and me as well.

So what does this mean for us?

I think there is a tendency to think that leading unassuming lives in out-of-the-way places isolates us from the extraordinary. Well this theory is totally debunked by Mary’s surprise visitor. The selection of Mary to be the mother of Jesus is an occasion to encourage Christians to leave the realm of predictability and open ourselves up to the unexpected and the unimaginable - The unexpected and the unimaginable that is even possible wherever you live.

Can we believe this?

It is easy to say the words - “nothing is impossible for God” - But Do you and I actually believe that nothing is impossible for God?

Are we actually capable of letting go of all our attachments to feelings of unworthiness, to worry, to safety, to the opinions of others, to the most comfortable lives we can make for ourselves; all this in order to say with Mary, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

Mary comprehends that her life, and not only hers, but the whole world’s is about to be rearranged. She ascribes more credence to God’s vision for the human community than to naysayers who’s words suppress courage, who suppress faith.

"Here am I, the servant of the Lord;

let it be with me according to your word."

What does this mean for us as stewards of our time, our gifts and our talents?

When we see ourselves as stewards of what God has entrusted to us, how do we do things differently?

It is only when we with Mary, stop, look and listen to angels, and to the voice of the Holy Spirit, that we will be transformed able to do this.
It is only then that we are capable of the surprising, crazy, things God may be calling us to; it is only then that the Holy Spirit gets us participating in the life of God in a way that changes our lives, changes the way we use our time, our talent, our possessions, our energy.

As we are overwhelmed with awe at being loved in this way, we find ourselves caught up in doing what matters to God; our words and actions begin to overflow with gratitude that Christ has bound himself to us, inviting us and surprising us, like Mary, to bear God's fruit in the world, to bear Christ’s redeeming love to all the world.

Perhaps Mary’s words deliver God’s Christmas wish, that followers of Christ will believe that nothing is impossible with God, and invite the Holy Spirit to work through them to attain miracles.


December 25, 2011

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem

by Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes

And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.

Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
implore you to stay awhile with us
so we may learn by your shimmering light
how to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ

Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices to celebrate the promise of

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.

We look at our world and speak the word aloud.

We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul


December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Friends.
This song by Amy Grant is my Christmas anthem this year!


December 23, 2011

Tag It

Have you wrapped all your presents yet? (Shhh... Don't tell. I have not even started!) Stop by the amazing Creature Comforts for a round up of free gift tags to complete all your gifts.


December 22, 2011

Eco-Friendly Christmas Wreath Ideas

Good Housekeeping had some great ideas for recycling materials to decorate for the holidays. Here are some good usages for those old ties, corks, Holiday cards and cookie cutters.

When my Dad was alive he wore a suit to work everyday. He had the prettiest ties. So this Christmas my Mom and I plan on making the tie wreath out of my Dad's ties. I think it can be left up year round.

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/uW6JDU


Infused herbs

In my garden I have rosemary and lavender. These are two of my favorite scents, and for a home-made goodie this year, I decided to try and do something with them.  I searched the internet for instructions on making herb-infused oils and salts, but most of the instructions used essential oils that were purchased.  I wanted instructions that started a step back from that since I had the actual herbs. I finally found what I was looking for here.

The Herb Gardener includes instructions for making lavender sugar and Martha Stewart has instructions for making rosemary salt.

I ended up making them both in a similar way.  I picked branches from lavender and rosemary in my garden and cleaned them.  Then I put the branches of rosemary in a big soup pot of sea salt, and baked it in the oven at the lowest temp my oven allows (170). I stirred every few minutes so that the oils would ooze out of the leaves onto the salts. I did the same thing with the lavender and sugar.  I wanted to make the lavender sugar purple, though, so after I had the scent I wanted, I moved the soup pot to the stove. I mixed red and blue food coloring with the slightest bit of water and sprinkled it over the scented sugar, stirring immediately. The color slowly distributed as I stirred and eventually turned a pretty shade of, well, lavender!

I used old baby food jars to package them.  The scented salts were labeled with a tag that said, "Turkey Rub: rosemary-infused salt, pepper," and I added a pretty piece of fabric over the lid. The salts can be used to prepare a roast turkey, but could also be yummy on a potato, in a stir-fry, or just about any other savory dish. The sugar's label said, "Lavender Sugar: add to herbal teas or lemonade or mix 1 tsp. with a Tbsp. of olive oil for a body scrub." It is really delicious in herbal tea.  Tea alone is relaxing, but with the added scent of lavender, it is particularly nice.

I would add that rosemary is very easy to grow! It is a kind of evergreen, so after it is established, it stays around to use again and again. Lavender is harder, but read up a bit so you plant them in a good spot, buy fairly mature plants, and you'll be fine.

I gave the salt and sugar to friends and co-workers as little Thanksgiving and Christmas presents this year. It's a sweet (or salty!) something from my garden and my kitchen, but was inexpensive and easy to make.

Happy Winter

 via Pinterest

Things That Make Me Laugh

My husband just introduced me to The Oatmeal. There's so much funny (but often crude) stuff on this website that I had to share. I especially like the one about ginger ale on airplanes. A - I think you would really like the greeting cards.

December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah

I can NOT get enough of this acappella group called the Maccabeats, from Yeshiva University in New York. I was introduced to their music last year, and have followed them since.

Today marks the beginning of Hanukkah, and I can't think of a better way to mark the day!


Gift Guide 2011: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Have I shared with you that I love ice cream? I could eat it every day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For all you Buckeyes in Columbus, here is a perfect last minute gift for an ice cream lover. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams are amazing and unique. With flavors like Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows and Cherry Lambic Sorbet there is something for everyone. Would someone kindly send me a pint of Dark Chocolate Peppermint?


Gorgeously Green

I try and make a conscientious effort every day to be "green". My husband helps me a lot with this by hounding me about my recycling. (Thank you Babe!) My mom recently supported my efforts as well with this book. - Gorgeously Green.

I love this book for its wide range of tips and advice. From makeup to household cleaning to baby! Are you "going green" for 2012?

December 19, 2011

Life Is More Fun (For All Creatures) In Costume (Part 2) - Merry Christmas!

Well Jackson had so much fun participating in Halloween that she insisted on dressing up for Christmas. What could I do?...I had to enable this awesome idea. So, I made sure that I got her a present for Christmas that turned her into a present.

With this costume she will fit in beautifully with my famous Christmas Tree costume. Look out Santa - we plan on upstaging you this year - AGAIN!


December 16, 2011

What to Make on Christmas Break

I never thought I would be saying the words, "When I am on holiday break..." again. However, here I am after completing my first quarter of nursing school. My to-do list for the next two weeks is a mile long: clean the house, do laundry, read three books, finish my Christmas shopping, and cook! A few years ago, A had a Pampered Chef party, and I acquired this cookbook. The recipes are easy and delicious. I stole my mom's crock pot, so first on my recipe list is chili. I will let you know how it turns out.

What is your favorite crock pot recipe?

December 15, 2011

Twinkle Lights

When it comes to the holiday season, there's one thing that my husband and I can't agree on...white or colored twinkle lights on the Christmas tree. For the last 5 years we have been alternating the lights on the tree, but this year, we both win. We have two Christmas trees now so I can decorate mine with white lights and he can put those silly multi-colored lights on the other tree. I think white lights are classy, beautiful, and simple. I don't even like colored lights in the front yard, let alone on my tree. I think that colored lights are fun, silly, and remind me of the circus - and that's not Christmas for me.

Help us settle the debate, which lights are better?

December 14, 2011

Yummy Autumn Soup

I found a recipe for pumpkin soup somewhere and I love it. It is so easy and even my not-so-much-a-fan-of-soup husband likes it!

One can pumpkin
One can chicken soup broth (would prob work with veggie broth too)
One cup milk/cream (I used skim milk b/c it's what I had)

Dump in a pot and stir!
That's it!  I added chili powder b/c I wanted it a bit spicy, and ate it with a slice of toast covered in apple butter. Yum.

You could also modify or dress it up with:
- a dollop of sour cream on top (or plain Greek yogurt, the healthy version of sour cream)
- I think drained and rinsed black beans could add some yummy protein
- Sweeten it up with some pureed pears or apple sauce, and add nutmeg instead of chili powder for a more dessert-like soup

December 13, 2011

Study Break

I apologize for the lack of post today. I am wrapping up my first quarter of nursing school, and final exams are demanding my attention this week. See you next Tuesday!

P.S. Would someone make these and drop them off to me? What a way to take a study break.


December 12, 2011


Mark 1:1-8 (NIV) 1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Isaiah 40:1-11 (NIV) 1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." 6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 9 You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

We have just read how Mark begins his gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ. It is different from Matthew, Luke and John. There is no birth story like in Matthew or Luke. There is no mention of the beginning of time like in John. There is no manger scenes derived from this Gospel. Yet, here in the opening lines of Mark we do have a “birth story” … of sorts. On this second week of Advent, it is good to tell of new beginnings, to tell about a God who breaks into our time and interrupts our regularly scheduled activities. God interrupts our lives with good news, and this is such good news that it shakes the world, turning it right side up and restores it to the proper order under God’s reign. In this Advent season God comes - perhaps not as we expect; perhaps not in the time frame we desire but God comes. And Frankly, I think we need the interruption. I think that we need it desperately.

In the text from Isaiah we read the beautiful and poetic words of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah is talking to Israel during a time of disaster.In the beginning of the 6th century BCE, Babylon invaded Judah, destroying much of Jerusalem, stripping them of the institutional structures that shaped their lives, destroying their temple, deporting leading citizens, and raising up false God’s. We hear the poetry of Isaiah which emerges in the decades after the invasion, like a healing, life creating song. Isaiah’s words seek to interrupt the disaster and uncertainty and bring back to life a people crushed under a shroud of death. Isaiah imagines a nation restored, a city rebuilt, and a people reunited. At a time when all ways of relating to God had seemed to collapse for Israel, the prophetic word of Isaiah is their anchor. In the midst of the disaster and uncertainty the Word provides comfort, and a promise of hope that though everything else fails, God’s word endures forever, and that God comes to lead them home.

In the gospel message we read the gospel writer Mark describe a, less than poetic, hairy, insect eating, sharp tongued, rough and weathered wilderness man named John the Baptist, crying out in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins. Mark is talking to an audience of first century followers of Jesus who after returning to their homes after being exile, were struggling to survive in the years during or just after the Jewish War, and they were experiencing oppression from Roman occupation. It was as if exile had followed Israel home.

The words that come from John echo those of Isaiah and provide an interruption of “joyful tidings” to a people seeking,...longing…. anxious...for comfort, deliverance, and restoration. Longing for it, to the point of traveling considerable distances, to the wilderness, just to hear the words of John the Baptist, and to experience baptism with water.

Both audiences are experiencing their own exiles.

Are we, today, any different? Are we experiencing our own exile? Are we in captivity….perhaps a cultural captivity? Perhaps a captivity that has, in essence, exiled us from God, in that we have become unconscious to God’s presence? OR a captivity that has raised up other “Gods” that seem to reign in our “empire” - God’s such as, consumerism? Lust for oil? Power? Sex? Are we suffering from oppression? Are we being bent over beneath life’s crushing load? Be that load, disease, domestic violence, discrimination, or economic loss? Is this captivity, this oppression this exile from God leaving our human community fractured, cynical, numb, afraid, and even hopeless?

I recently read on CNN’s homepage an article entitled, "Mourning’ in America: What must be done about a depressed nation." I asked myself, "are we a depressed nation?" The article talked about unemployment rates, soaring government deficits, ballooning national debts, yo yo gas prices, and gridlock in Washington causing America to virtually stall out. Hmmm….I don’t know the answer to whether or not we are a depressed nation. But I do think that we seek comfort...we long for deliverance….and we are just as anxious for restoration as the audiences of the texts above.

We are longing for a Messiah too. So when we hear Isaiah sing “Comfort, O Comfort my people” - these words are for us. When we hear John the Baptist cry out that Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit, forgiving us, giving us new life, promising God’s continual grace-filled presence in our lives...We too will be like the crowds listening to the prophet John, running out to the wilderness, seeking these words of comfort, these words of hope and these words of direction for our future.

We are longing for God’s interruption to our lives and to our world, we pray for God’s interruption to set things right. We pray, “Come Lord Jesus Come”…..and what happens? Just that. God comes. God came in the past, in the history of Israel, and the incarnation of Jesus in the manger. God comes in the present. God comes in the word that is proclaimed each week, and the meal - the meal that offers the assurance of the comfort that breaks into our lives in the body and blood of Christ, given and shed for all. And we have the promise that God will come in the future at the end of all things.

We have a God who interrupts our lives with good news, shaking the world, turning it right side up and restoring it. So what do we do with this Good News? The preaching of John the Baptist calls us to prepare for God. We prepare the way of the Lord. We go from being the recipients of the Word, to messengers, or heralds of the Word - Proclaiming the good news, the message of joy, the words of comfort and the words of assurance to anyone who feels separated or abandoned by God, telling them that God will arrive and will come in power - gentle power. Yes, the Messiah will come, mightier than all, and gentler than all, who will cleanse us with his Holy Spirit. Whatever our circumstances have been or will be, nothing can stop God from restoring us. That promise, steering Israel and the church throughout countless generations, embraces us, too, and will never let go.

(Picture is Baptismal Font - Bethlehem, Palestine)


December 10, 2011

Guest Blogger S - "Be better than I was yesterday..."

Introduction to our Guest Blogger:
S is a good friend, wife, small business owner, fitness trainer, and marine scientist. S recently made a life change and left the glamourous life of the federal government, and began a new life with her husband. They left their careers, left Florida, and moved to Muscatine Iowa to open a Cross Fit gym call Warrior CrossFit Muscatine.

Now she is in the throws of all things new, and is making it work day by day. I am always encouraged by S, and love that she and her husband had the courage and faith in themselves to try something new. I am sharing an article that S recently wrote for her gym's Newsletter. I love the honesty with which it is written, and hope to have S write for our blogs about her life, small business ownership, health and fitness.

Dear Athletes,

I have a confession. I do not have an athletic background. I complete the same Work Out of the Days (WODs) as you each week, and I am rarely (if ever) the fastest time on the board. The most doubleunders I can string together? 8. And I hate practicing. I have days where I don't want to workout. I HATE pullups. I am in training, even as I coach each of you.

I did not play sports in school, at any level. When I first tried running at the age of 24, I could not jog for more than 30 seconds at a time. I didn't think seriously about my fitness until graduate school when I gained a muffin top and 15 pounds of beer chub. Fed up, I impulsively signed up for the 2006 Miami Marathon with Team in Training. Though training was grueling and humbling, I shed the chub, found a sense of accomplishment in my physical abilities, and raised money for a good cause. Further, I realized that exercise could fit into my schedule, which left me no excuses, and the habit of running stuck.

In 2009, at the request of a friend, I joined a boot camp class. While my friend's attendance gradually fell off, I fell in LOVE with the challenge, intensity, and variety of the workouts. My instructor CrossFitted and she incorporated CrossFit principles into our workouts. At the same time, Jacob and I worked out together more often - we just started dating - and he exposed me to even more CrossFit. I started feeling stronger, more fit, and dare I say, more athletic. I cared less about how I looked, and more about what I could DO.

Now CrossFit is my life. I find great fulfillment, daily, when I see each of you complete a WOD, try something new, overcome a fear, go up in weight, or encourage each other through that final rep. I'm still close enough to my own CrossFit beginnings to recognize what each of you are going through and I am so excited when I see a movement finally "click" for you.

I tend to be overcritical of myself and I have to remind myself that CrossFit is not about the number of rounds or the time I post on the board. CrossFit is about the effort I put into each WOD and it is about the desire to be better than I was yesterday. My goal as a coach is to help you feel the same way. If I can help you do that by improving your technique or increasing your mobility, then I succeeded as a coach.
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