Thursday, December 31, 2009


I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. -- Groucho Marx

I hope the new year brings you health, happiness, and hope. Enjoy today!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I've been up to lately...

I've been busy doing not much.

I've been enjoying days of quiet stillness. I've been tearing through my pile of books. I've caught up with some housework. I've slept well and wake feeling refreshed and ready to get up. I've spent hours on the couch with the cat on my lap. I've been extremely lazy and even - gasp - bored.

It's been lovely.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The greatest of these is LOVE

A gift came to me in the mail yesterday. It wasn't tied up in ribbons, or something that I can hold in my hands. It was a card written in the shaky script of a lovely old gentleman who wanted to let me know how he felt blessed by me and my work in this past year. It is probably the most precious gift I think any of us can get or give.

Sometimes people ask me what my faith in Christ means to me, and why I align myself with a religion that has been the instigator of pain as well as joy, and why I put belief in something so ridiculously intangible and frankly, unbelievable. I would have to say, that my experience with this gentleman can perhaps serve as an illustration better than any theological argument. Simply, my faith means acting out love and relationship the way Christ modelled.

It means coming alongside someone who is hurting, and walking with them as they struggle with life's blows. It means loving them in person and through prayer. It means acting in faith that the nature of the relationship and support that is provided will be enough. It means persevering and trusting God even when I am exhausted and emotionally drained and feel like quitting and wonder why in the hell I ever agreed to this in the first place. It means showing up and prepping and planning and schlepping and attending meetings even when all I really want is to be at home with a good book. It means struggle and victory and using my talents and stretching my weak points. It means serving others without expecting anything in return (although to be acknowledged, is icing on the cake). It means living every day as if the most important thing there is, is love.

Most of all, though, these verses help sum up why I am a Christ-follower, and why I rejoice at Christmas:
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us. But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do: trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (from The Message, Eugene Peterson's translation).

May you love extravagantly! It is the best gift.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lux venit

Happy solstice to you, if that's your thing. It's the darkest day of the year, and the beginning of winter. After today, the days will get lighter again as the earth tilts and we move toward summer. This site has some cool information about solstice and its connections to Christmas:

Scholars aren't exactly sure of the date of Jesus Christ's birthday, the first Christmas. "In the early years of the Christian church, the calendar was centered around Easter," George Washington University's Yeide said. "Nobody knows exactly where and when they began to think it suitable to celebrate Christ's birth as well as the Passion cycle"—the Crucifixion and resurrection depicted in the Bible.

Eastern churches traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 6, a date known as Epiphany in the West. The winter date may have originally been chosen on the basis that Christ's conception and Crucifixion would have fallen during the same season—and a spring conception would have resulted in a winter birth. But Christmas soon became co-mingled with traditional observances of the first day of winter. "As the Christmas celebration moved west," Yeide said "the date that had traditionally been used to celebrate the winter solstice became sort of available for conversion to the observance of Christmas. In the Western church the December date became the date for Christmas."

Early church leaders endeavored to attract pagans to Christianity by adding Christian meaning to existing winter solstice festivals. "This gave rise to an interesting play on words," Yeide said. "In several languages, not just in English, people have traditionally compared the rebirth of the sun with the birth of the son of God."

The light comes.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Early resolutions

It's never too early to make a resolution, right? I don't have to wait till New Year's? OK, so, in my continuing quest to "be the change I want to see in the world," and in the spirit of recognizing that I can't change everyone else but I CAN change myself, I have decided to work on my empathy button.

What is your empathy button, you say? So glad you asked. The empathy button is that part of me where I suspend judgment and extend grace. It's that part of me that holds back before I rush to hasty assumptions about people's motives, or what they meant when they said that specific comment that sounded really rude/ignorant/selfish. It's the part of me that doesn't swear at drivers who cut into my lane, and the part that stays calm in the face of a student's frustration, and the part that forgives that snappy clerk at the store. It's also the part of me that sets kind boundaries, that becomes angry at injustice, and the part that speaks up to correct those who need correcting.

Yes, my empathy button needs a little refreshing.

Any early resolutions on your mind?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

28 F

No, it's not a band, or a new TV show. It was the temperature outside this morning. Brrrrrrrrr.

(OK, so yes, I am a California wimp, but come on - that is a good 10 degrees colder than it usually ever gets here. Yesterday we had snow. SNOW, people!!!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009


As the sky simmers up a winter storm (snow in the valley predicted!), I simmered up some goodies today in the kitchen.

Everyone in the pot for some homemade vegetable broth.

Next week this will get transformed into garlic soup.

Experimenting with winter squash, apples, and potatoes.
(The onion didn't make it into this dish.)

Really not sure about this, but I may as well experiment!

Of course, you can never go wrong with roasting a butternut squash.

I think my favorite bread and butter stuffing will go well with the butternut.

Wilting some greens for a yummy cream-cheese dip.

Can't wait to try this!

Gorgeous mandarins

Mandarin orange cake with brown sugar glaze
I feel so blessed with good food, all of it fresh from the farm.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekend Cooking

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm really looking forward to doing some cooking this weekend.

Shocked? Me too.

I blame it on my CSA box, which has yet again delivered a bounty of beautiful veggies, ready to be chopped, peeled, roasted, boiled, simmered, and sauteed. I have bok choy that I want to make into soup for next week's lunches. I have older veggies that need to be boiled into vegetable broth, then used as the base for other soup. I have winter squash to roast with apples and onions. I have a bag of luscious greens to simmer up with some ham hocks. I have spinich to saute and mix in with pasta.

And I have random vegetables like watermelon radish and tat soi, and some delectable treats, like mandarin oranges. TH, the regular cook in our house, better watch out.