Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Chickens in industrial coopImage via WikipediaOn Twitter - @coorganic just tweeted "Wright County Egg, one of the two factory farms responsible for the current salmonella scandal, has 7.5 million egg-laying chickens!"

7.5 million. So these chickens, kept in small cages (and they'd need about 500,000 employees to keep those cages well cleaned), lay eggs daily that get sent across the country, packaged in whatever brand package is popular in your area, and you eat it. These chickens never see sunshine, and eat whatever food is given to them -- that is usually a huge mix of foods that no chicken would ever dream of eating naturally.

We are seeing this over and over again with meat, pork, chicken, and egg infestations. Is it any wonder that chickens raised in this environment would get salmonella? And the answer...give them vaccines against salmonella. So rather than treating animals right, giving them feed that they were meant to digest, and keeping them in good conditions, the answer is to vaccinate them and pasteurize the eggs so that they can continue to sell you meat and eggs that are raised in these kinds of conditions.

That's what pasteurization made possible -- back at the turn of the 20th century, they were keeping milk cows in cities in facilities that were unclean, feeding them mash from beer companies, and tuberculosis was happening. So pasteurization, which was meant for beer, made it so they could continue to raise diseased cows in disgusting conditions and still sell you the milk that they make. Hormones make it so they can make more milk than their bodies are capable of handling, and when they get mastitis and other infections, antibiotics that they load them with help keep the cow going, and you from getting sick...but you know, there's pus in your milk.

Not only that, but when animals are kept in these conditions, without sun, with bad feed, no exercise -- there are next to NO nutrients in their milk, meat, and eggs. With all the soy that they feed cattle, it is now a problem that animal fat goes rancid like soybean oil does.

There is an answer. You are not going to be part of a national food poisoning epidemic if you get eggs from as local of a source as you can -- from chickens that were raised cage-free in pastures. The best option is to get your meat, eggs, and dairy from a farmer who is focused on providing to local people. They don't even mind that you look around the farm and see how they do their job and how the animals are treated.

You can complain that these eggs cost $3.00 as opposed to $1.25, but you are getting a ton more nutrients that you need, rather than eggs that are worth next to nothing. Plus the knowledge that the animals were treated humanely while they lived.
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Monday, August 30, 2010

From Luther

Luther from his House Postils (from Pastor Weedon):

"To sum it all up: we will be good Christians, first of all, when we have a firm faith and trust in God's goodness; second, when we are grateful to God and our fellowmen; and third, when we patiently tolerate ingratitude as we keep on doing good to all people.

In any case, nine people will be ungrateful for every one who is grateful and thanks you for a good deed. And it may well be that the one who thanks you and is grateful is the one of whom you least expected it, just like this Samaritan. May our loving Lord God grant his grace that we remember this and keep growing in our sanctification. Amen."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Take 10 Minutes -- Every Christian (Especially Lutheran and Protestant) Ought to See This

And the link to the document he references:

Real Food Rookies

One of the blogs that I follow -- Kelly the Kitchen Kop, is offering an e-class called "Real Food for Rookies."

ChickennuggetsImage via Wikipedia

If You:

Hate high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors?
Are repulsed by cafeteria school lunches
Think it's wrong that McDonald's chicken nuggets contain *lighter fluid*
Support small farmers and eating locally

Then this class is a good place to start learning HOW to actually make it work without getting overwhelming.

If you've read me for any length of time, you know I don't really advertise or promote things. But over the past several months, I have learned SO much from Kelly and a few of the other blogs that are part of the Real Food Media Network that work so hard to promote real food raised healthily...and well-prepared.

So go here to check it out. I do get compensated for this, just so you know. But I know so many moms who start this direction and get overwhelmed by it (including me) that I really do think this could be a big help (I'm taking a different class right now by another member of the Real Food Media Group, and it is REALLY good.)
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Rejecting Industrialized Sex

This is an amazing post on sex from the First Things Blog. And of course, the comparison to industrialized eating is great, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A New Tea Bracket

I knew it was dangerous. The stuff that I was perfectly happy with that was $3.50 a box for a ton of teabags was fine. It was even organic. Tazo was fine, too, though not quite the bargain with it's fewer bags. It was Earl Grey, cold.

But no....after having some of Mighty Leaf Currant Iced Tea at a restaurant in Chicago (I went in 3 times a day for it), I'd done a good job resisting the expensive box sitting on the shelf in Meijer, because they didn't have the CURRANT iced tea. Last night, though, I gave in. I was probably tired. My resistance was weak. I figured "what harm could it do?" I got the sampler pack since I'm trying to have more iced tea at home, rather than out.

I'm in love. It was TOO good. I've moved up to a new tea bracket. There's no going back. My tastebuds have been opened. The Orange Dulce has completely captivated me in it's little silky tea bag surged with THREAD all the way to it's pretty tag that even instructs me delicately how long to let it steep in all its graciousness. It's tea leaves in a classy negligee and it's like drinking liquid ambrosia (nectar of the gods, NOT a bizarre marshmallow salad).

Dang you, Mighty Leaf!
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Submitting to Your Husband as to the Lord

Several years ago, I stumbled upon a book in the book store that taught me more about submitting to my husband than anything I had ever read. It was called The Surrendered Wife, by Laura Doyle. It was actually a bit disappointing that it was a secular book. I wish I could've found this kind of common sense from a believer. But she did have a lot of wisdom. I learned a lot of things from her. (for the record, there were things I completely disagreed with also, like her stance that men "need" porn).

A few of the things I learned are these:

1. To learn to think of my husband as basically a good man. -- It is SO easy to gripe about our husbands, isn't it? To build up in anger over little things like not putting clothes in the clothes hamper or rinsing dishes, forgetting that I too do a lot that he could gripe about as well. It is almost the ultimate feminine bonding experience to sit around complaining about what our husbands do that is so completely insensitive. But my husband loves me. My husband wants the best for me. My husband wants to make me happy. These things are true. On top of that -- my husband doesn't abuse me. My husband doesn't do drugs and isn't an alcoholic. He's not cheating on me. Where he usually "falls short" is usually regarding things he doesn't understand. He's a good man, and he deserves my loyalty, my patience, and a good reputation amongst my friends, because he comes into contact with them as well and shouldn't have to wonder about what I have said.

2. Since he is a good man and an intelligent man, he doesn't need me to tell him how to do everything and how to think about everything. After he made the wonderfully intelligent decision to marry me, he didn't suddenly become an idiot, and even though I didn't realize that was what I was doing when I was offering an opinion on everything under the sun, I was treating him like he was an idiot.

3. A correllary to that -- My husband deserves to have a relationship with his children without me getting in the middle. I always thought I was doing a favor when I suggested things they should do, or when my husband was mad at my son -- interpreting what my son really meant by what he said or what he really needed. My husband is a smart man who loves his son. He might not always express himself the way I would've wanted him to (not that it was bad, and not that I am perfect either), he can figure it out, and since he's not abusive -- he will not do lasting harm to our child. I wasn't giving him the freedom to be totally himself with Chris, or to let Chris relate directly with him and learn that he could indeed handle it.

4. A lot of marriage problems are caused by the woman trying to control the situation.

5. Men need to be respected and showed that they are respected. Women need to be treasured. (Almost sounds like Ephesians 5, doesn't it?). We've been told so many times that we want to be equals in a relationship, but really, we don't. A relationship isn't 50-50, its 100-100. At times, when one is weaker than the other, one compensates for the other. But in reality, we want to be treated like equals in the workplace -- at home, we want to be treasured. Loved. Shown that we are special and prized beyond rubies or diamonds. We really don't want to have a relationship where we are tallying up and keeping a record of who gave the most to the relationship this week, or who is doing the most chores.

6. My husband needs me to communicate with him about what I need. Women often expect the men to be mind readers, and we shrug it off as common sense. It's not. My husband needs to know what I like and what is important to me. And just as much, he needs to know what I can't do. And it is okay to say "I can't do that" and then let him figure out what to do.

When I started doing these things (or not doing the harmful stuff), I didn't tell my husband that I wasn't doing them. I didn't tell him what I was doing. The book told me not to. But I also remember the wisdom from a couple of pastors that went like this: "The Bible doesn't say "submit to your husband IF he loves you like Christ loved the Church. (and vice versa). It's your business to submit, because you are trusting that God gave you your husband...not because he's earned it or he's good enough."

And this brings me to something that I've been thinking about for a long time. What does it mean to submit to my husband as to the Lord? The question in the end is "what does it mean to submit to the Lord?"

Different things go through my head -- "Come unto me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. " "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will rescue you." "Suffer not the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of God." And from the Catechism "...as a dear child talks to his dear father." "...thank and praise, serve and obey Him." "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." "but call upon it [his name] in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks." "Give us this day our daily bread"

In the end, what does God want from me? He wants me to be thankful, and He wants me...no, He commands me, to come to Him when I need something. To ask Him. To bring my EVERY concern and desire of my heart to Him as a child does to his father -- without worrying about whether it is appropriate, and then trust Him that He who sent His very own Son to die for me will give me EVERY good thing (even when it isn't in the way I think God should do it).

So, I keep coming back to the idea that submitting to my husband as to the Lord is the same thing. I'm to be thankful for the gift that God has given me in him and trust that God will bless me through him....because he has promised to. I am also to let him know what is in my heart. What I think, what I want, what I need....and even what I don't think I can handle and don't want. And then, I'm to trust that he is going to love me and lead me, taking my desires and my welfare into account (even when he isn't doing it in the way I think he should do it).

I keep coming back to the fact that it isn't really about blind obedience or losing myself. It's about going to my husband and trusting that he will love me, that he will forgive me, that he will treasure me, and that he will lead our family knowing what I need - because I told him.

Will he be perfect? No. He hasn't been and he won't be. But after sixteen years, I can certainly see how many of those things God has used for good, even when they hurt like crazy. I'm married to a sinner. I'm a sinner. So we do the best we can, we forgive each other, and we keep loving, confiding, and trusting. God is the one who is really providing for me through my husband. And my loving Father has certainly done a better job of taking care of me through my husband than I ever could've done myself.
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I apparently accidentally turned off the ability to comment. My apologies. It's fixed now :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Holy Communion Quote.

(another Wordpress post..I'm transferring it here)

“Lutherans don’t get into transubstantiation or
consubstantiation or ‘how can the finite hold on to the infinite?’– We don’t worry about any of that. How do we know Jesus’s body and blood are really there in the bread and the wine? Because He said so. If I’m in the Sunday School teaching the children why the body and blood are really there, I would tell them “because Jesus said so.” If I go to the [Lutheran] seminary and the great doctors of our faith are discussing the same thing, the answer is STILL simply “Because He said so.” — Rev. Jeffrey Horn, sermon 2/7

Helping Children in Church

(I wrote this when I was on Wordpress...I wanted to repost it here)

How children should behave in church, and what limits should be set can be quite a contentious issue. Personally, I like children in church. I don’t even think it is tantamount to a crime to hear them babbling or fussing in church. Over the years as a pastor’s wife and a La Leche League Leader, I’ve heard so many stories about getting the evil eye by simply walking into the sanctuary with a babe in arms or a toddler. Obviously, if your child is proving to be a distraction or too loud for others to hear, it is a matter of consideration to take them out and deal with it. What that means is defined by your family perspective on it and the age and temperment of your child.

But I am a firm believer in “faith comes by hearing,” and children certainly belong in the presence of their savior, and need to be a part of the body of all believers from the instant they are baptized. I am always scared that nurseries, children’s church, or Sunday school during church give one of two (or both) messages to children: That they don’t belong in the presence of God, or that they should be involved in activities that are more fun than church. Either message can be incredibly damaging to their faith. We segregate so many aspects of life according to age, I don’t believe worshiping our Lord and receiving His gifts is an area where we should be doing this.

That being said, having children in church can be a challenge. I ought to know. As a pastor’s wife, I am a single parent on Sunday. With so many men who are not involved in church anymore, and so many babies not born into nuclear, married families—many women are put in the position that if they want to go to church, they have to take care of their kids alone, and so many of them put off the challenge of having children in church until an age when they might be easier to handle.

I don’t think there is an age that is “easier to handle.” Babies and toddlers are truly a challenge, but they don’t get easier, they just change how they fight against it, if they are not used to it.

I don’t want to make it seem like I believe this is easy. There were days I stayed home because I wasn’t up to the fight of keeping Maggie in the pew that day or dealing with Chris’s moods (he definitely was NOT a morning person. A wonderfully friendly person would go up to him and say “Good morning, Christopher, and he would glare at them and yell “NOOOO” and then bury his head in my shoulder). And there were days when I wonder why I was there because I didn’t hear a word of the sermon, wasn’t able to go to communion, etc. and I was exhausted or in tears the rest of the day (which is why having a husband or family there with you is wonderful.) But as I sit with my kids in church now, and even watch them frequently go to church even when I can’t, simply because they want to, I know that it was worth it.

So here are some things that did make it easier for me:

1. Sit in front. Most parents have a tendency to sit in the back because they don’t feel like the whole church sees when their children act up, and they can make an easy exit. But scooch down to your child’s level. They can’t see anything besides the back of people’s heads. They don’t see why they are there. They often behave a lot better when they can see what is going on.

In our church, there are side aisles, so while I sat up front, I didn’t necessarily sit front and center, so I could still make an easy exit. There even was a door off to the side to a hallway. But even if you don’t have that, it is less distracting to everyone than you think if you need to walk down the aisle (side) or the nave.

2. Bring quiet toys, non-messy snacks, and a drink in a bottle or sippy cup (or discreetly nurse). The fact of the matter is, young children don’t have the attention span to deal with nothing but church for the whole service, and having something quiet to do helps, and if nothing else, it helps you. Chris used to love to stack hymnals, and when he got done, he would put them in a new stack. Plastic animals, stuffed animals, Hot Wheels (if your kid is not the kind that goes Vrroomm) or coloring books can be a help. And also, kids behave better when their blood sugar is even. Something like Cheerios is generally fine. And, having a drink right there means there is one less reason to take them out which means you get to hear more.

3. Pay attention to what is developmentally appropriate. For instance, a baby or toddler will have difficulty sitting still. He is not being rebellious or difficult, his mind is just hard-wired for movement at that age. Also, take into account temperament. My son Chris could sit still and become absorbed in books at an early age. At the same age, Maggie needed to move.

I would take my kids out if they couldn’t sit still, but somewhere around late two or early three, it became clear to me that it wasn’t that my child COULDN’T keep from being active, he just didn’t want to. This was then more of an issue of limits rather than ability. When this became the case, leaving the sanctuary meant that we went and sat perfectly still in a chair for 5 minutes out in the parish hall. They then learned that since snacks, coloring books, etc. were still in the church, they could actually do more in church than they could if we left.

Children are even hard-wired to challenge limits. My rule was they could play quietly in the pew, but couldn’t leave the pew. Maggie would go to the edge of the pew, get “that look” in her eye and then bolt. We’d do the chair in the parish hall thing and then I’d ask, “are you ready to go sit in the pew now?” Often, especially at first, we’d be right back in the parish hall in five minutes. After a while, it became a non-issue. As frustrating as this is, it is actually quite normal, and is part of their learning to think for themselves. Your job is to set good limits and make them stick!

I know a discussion on my homeschool board had where some parents with each five minutes their child was good they’d give them a pile of tokens and then take one away for each infraction during church. With my kids, just leaning over and whispering to them, “you are being SO good” was enough. If I were doing tokens and such, I’d be inclined to give them one every five minutes that they were good rather than take them away. Some kids will do anything to keep from losing one, and with my kids — Maggie probably would’ve cried, and Chris would’ve debated with me why he shouldn’t have lost it.

3. Try 1-2-3 Magic. This is a book or video you can generally get in the library or at Barnes and Noble/Borders. When I was working as a social worker, this was one of the programs we taught to parents who were in the DCS system. IT takes the emotion out of it, which is nice, and sets clear warnings. I was going out of my mind with my daughter who bounces off the walls, and when I started using it, it helped SO much. It worked great in the home, but it worked MARVELOUSLY in church. Maggie was three, and very active. She’d forget to whisper if she had to tell me something, I could just hold up one finger. Three minutes later, she might start trying to walk out of the pew. I’d gently grab her wrist (my reflexes were getting pretty good by this point) and bring her back and hold up two fingers. If something else happened that was not right, within that fifteen minute time period, she got a time out. At first, I went out with her, but eventually, I could just have her stand right in the hallway, in view through the doorway, and then just wave her back when I wanted to. I wasn’t missing church anymore because of her!!

It also wasn’t long before we rarely ever got to three.

So, what worked or works for you? I’d be eager to hear, and I’m sure it would help other parents as well.

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The Twenty Worst Christians Ever

This is a great article at First Things.

An Amazing Step Forward

See those pillows? They mark a great victory. I come from a long line of women that don't really get around to those sorts of "luxuries." You know..the sorts of things that kind of make a house a home. There is always something more important, and there is always the possibility of being questioned regarding whether they are appropriate spending....

So I have pillows. Pretty pillows. And they also settled the question as to what color my walls will be. Ice blue. I want the feel of the ocean. I've been toying around with sea greens, even periwinkle...but it will be blue.

Maybe someday I'll even figure out what kind of pictures to put behind that couch. Or get end tables.
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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Why I Homeschool

Why do I homeschool? One word: socialization.

That may seem like a bizarre reason, since the first protest that I always hear against homeschooling is that schools provide socialization. There is something to the way homeschoolers socialize with each other that warms my heart, and in the end, it was the reason that drove me to homeschooling in the first place.

Being True to Yourself
When my oldest was two, I was at the park with a friend of mine, Lori, who homeschooled her eight kids. Jeff and I had recently started discussing homeschooling as a possibility, and so I asked her why she homeschooled. I expected something like academics, cost, or religious reasons, so what she said surprised me.

Lori pointed to her son, who was currently occupied with his toddler little brother -- the baby was sitting on a skateboard, and the older boy was pushing him around gently, making car noises.

"Look at him" she said. "He LOVES his little brother. And he isn't ashamed of it. He could care less what anyone else thinks about it. He is active in sports and he goes to Scouts, and when the boys there cuss or get into mischief, Zack doesn't feel like he has to follow along because he doesn't spend most of his waking hours with those kids. He doesn't need their approval because he spends most of his days with his family -- people who love him unconditionally for who he is."

This warmed my heart. I had an emotional, easily over-stimulated little boy who had one of the most loving, tender hearts I had ever seen. When I thought of him at school, all I could see was misery. He didn't develop the ability to tune out stimulation as early as others. He didn't adapt to change easily. Sometimes he just needed to be alone, and who knows when that that need would rear its immediate, urgent head. School would be hard for a boy who could detect the flash in flourescent lights and hear them hum and who responded to stress with strong emotionality. I could see him being teased and labeled. I take that back -- I knew he would be teased and labeled. And this little boy who started reading at the age of three -- who was incredibly intelligent, might very easily face a boring and frustrating environment. In my heart of hearts, I knew school wasn't right for Chris. I knew he needed to have more time than a mere three or even five years to get that under control, and as his parent -- it was my job to give him that space. I had no doubt he'd get there (okay, I had some doubt), but there was no functional purpose in demanding that he do it by kindergarten -- when I knew he couldn't.

I didn't think about it in these terms, but I remember a father who visited our homeschool Tiger Cub Scout pack -- his wife was trying to convince him to homeschool. "I get it now. These are the geeks. These are the kids who would be beaten up in school, but because they are homeschooled, they are free to be who they are and to be safe." Okay, started off kind of offensive -- probably true, but he went on. "My son has the tenderest heart, and I don't want to see that destroyed. This is GREAT!"

My family spent a few days this last week at the Wisdom and Eloquence Conference at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne this week (always the first week in August -- HIGHLY recommend it). While not just for homeschooling families, there were a lot of us, and it was so amazing to see the way the kids related to each other..and also pursued their interests. I expected parents to be interested in the "Courtship and Marriage" seminar by Pastor Foy -- but it was largely attended by teens -- raised in families, and valuing families, they were already looking at "how do I go about forming my own family?" They attended lots of different presentations on theology and life...because they wanted to, they were interested, and no one was going to tease them about it. And if they did, I doubt they would've cared.

When Jeff and I were talking about this, he commented "Girl Scouts and other organizations can talk about focusing on making girls strong or talk about kids being true to themselves -- but they are fighting a losing battle when most kids go to school each day focused on wearing the right thing, behaving the right way, and making other people happy so that they don't get teased and can fit in."

I remember that pressure. I don't remember it weighing so much when I was in school, but it certainly feels heavy when I think about it now.

Getting Along

Going back to my friend Lori's boy who was playing with his little brother -- that is something I have seen OVER and OVER again. The first day we attended a homeschool park group, there were a group of teens sitting at a table playing Yu-Gi-Oh together, but they didn't shoo the littler kids away. I would see teenage boys picking up preschoolers and holding them on their laps while they played, without missing a beat. They would also scoot over so that six or seven year-olds could squeeze in and then they would explain what they were doing. Sixteen year-olds had no problem with playing with twelve year-olds.

When we were leaving the Wisdom and Eloquence Conference, I walked into the narthex to get my kids, and my son was standing around talking with other teenage boys. One was casually holding his toddler little brother on his hip. My son Chris, at park days, has felt comfortable going and picking up my friends' babies and playing with them. When he starts to feel like he needs a break socially, he'll even take one and go sit in the swing, rocking back and forth until the baby falls asleep. Now that's self-regulation! I also love seeing how the "tween girls" with their natural, God-given fascination with babies and toddlers are free to follow them around, learn about them, play with them. Kids of every age generally are helping their parents with their siblings...and not even realizing they are learning to be good parents. That is something that I am convinced that our age-segregated society has diminished. I don't know how many people I know who have never held a baby until they hold their own.

Another friend of mine commented on the way kids were playing when they got together. They were creative, they were all over the place, they organized some games, and free-played at other times. She had grown up in Liberia, but the same is true here. "That's how kids used to play. They don't play like that anymore. Everything needs to be structured."

These kids are free to be themselves -- and rather than needing to be grouped by grade or age range, they could very easily relate to the youngest and oldest in the group, and make the needed allowances.

I could go into the closeness of family members -- and there is a lot there. My kids aren't perfect, but they do get along most of the time. I'll write about that another time, because it really is a beautiful aspect to homeschooling as well. But every time my family interacts with a group of homeschoolers, I am amazed at the difference and the peace and joy that is there in how the kids relate to each other.

Monday, August 02, 2010

My Husband's Dream Car

My husband's dream car is a Toyota FJ Cruiser. I saw this one in someone's driveway today.

He wears this every day....Yep. Definitely NOT getting black with a little white top.

Clergy Burnout

Here's a New York Times story that I saw posted on Facebook on clergy burnout.

It seems to me there is a disconnect. There are lots of stats out there on divorce rates for clergy, but there should be more focus on clergy FAMILY burn out. The two environments feed each other.

I'm not saying "Gee, everything would be all right if we did the whole Happy Homemaker thing right." It's not a judgment statement. Its a reality. When we are stressed and unhappy, men who care about us want to "fix" it. Often, they can't. And also, when they are stressed at work, it effects us, maybe more so than in many other careers -- because we love them, and at the same time are tied into their work community, intimately. I see that over and over again.

It is also interesting that it points out that lack of volunteers because of women being in the workplace was pointed out. There really isn't enough said about how that has hurt congregations. Most of of the mercy work, outreach, social activities, etc. that were done in times past were done by women who could give some of their time when their children were in school, or when older children could help with younger children (decreasing family size has also hurt congregations)-- or who could also help with the church work. They could devote part of their time to these things, without taking real time away from their families, because their families got so much of it. Now, with both parents working, families are stretched for time for themselves. It was easier on the men who also devotedly served because they also weren't dealing with some of the stressors that this puts on a family. I'm sure having extended family close by also helps in this, and when there is extended family in the same congregation, that also counts as family time. But the work that the congregations managed to accomplish when this was the norm is impressive.