Monthly Archives: May 2012

Kitchen Music

I spend a lot of time in my wee kitchen.

I live in an 850 sq. ft apartment in one of the most expensive parts of the Metro-Phoenix area: North Scottsdale. This is not my first choice of location but it’s 10 minutes from my husbands job, which also happens to be our church and so we make it work. We don’t go out to eat very often, I try and make a lot of staples here at home…

and so I spend a lot of time in my wee kitchen.

And so I have learned the rhythms of my stove, my mixer, the meals I make there.

The best way to make my kitchen seem larger than it is, is to have some fabulous music playing while I work. Really! Finding a rhythm in a song that matches the rhythm in my tiny workspace allows me to dance and sing while I knead and mix. It’s a soothing exercise, and I never recommend cooking without a good soundtrack!

We are making bread early this week (Thursday is our usual baking day), I traded a lovely friend a loaf for a big bag of lettuce from their garden! FABULOUS!

We are also shaking our flour dusted booties to The Punch Brothers album, Antifogmatic. Chris Thile is a genius and I like everything he does, from Nickel Creek to Goat Rodeo. And this is no exception.

Enjoy some kitchen music of your own with Don’t Need No

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on “that quote”…

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image via Pinterest but I can’t find the original source. If you know it let me know eh?

You’ve seen this one making the rounds. Inspiring introspective blog post after introspective blog post. “I used to find myself lacking in comparison!” “I compared myself all the time!” “BUT NOT ANYMORE! I won’t compare myself to her or them or that…”

I am about to blow your mind. I think this quote is bullshit.

I appreciate the sentiment, of course I do, do I find myself feeling less than or like a failure because my life doesn’t look like someone else’s? Of course. That’s human nature.

But you know what is also human nature? Comparing ourselves. And not because we want to wallow in our pitfalls, we compare ourselves so we can move forward, learn new things, improve our lot. (And for a hardcore liberal Democrat to be saying something that sounds like “bootstraps” you know that I take this concept seriously!)

Comparison is an opportunity to see something you admire and learn about it, and go for it, and strive. If we simply view it as a “thief of joy” we remain complacent, we hold where we are now up as the highest standard… and I refuse to accept that.

I speak from a place of staggering privilege, I am fully aware that I can change my education level by going to college, I can change my income level by getting a job, I am a fairly well educated white woman in the United States. These tangibles, these changes require outside forces beyond our control, other people rooting for us and helping us out. If I compare myself to a woman with a Master’s Degree in Divinity, I can take comfort in the fact that I need only fill out a FAFSA and apply to a school and because I am a fairly well educated though not particularly well off white woman in the United States, I can get that degree. I get that concept.

But I also speak of the intangibles. I speak of the years I spent languishing in crippling anxiety because I didn’t fight to have my meds adjusted because it was scary to be my own advocate, the days when I don’t feel beautiful or styled or fashionable even with my husband grabbbing my ass and telling me how sexy I am.  I speak of the times I feel like I am not the best parent because I don’t have a million projects planned and photographed with my kids when I’ve got chalk and a porch right there. It’s these things, it’s embracing the drive and focus, it’s looking at what other people have and saying “I want to be there, what do I have to do to get there?” These comparisons allow us to work at ourselves. They provide benchmarks for what we view as success and then urge us on to more. It’s fighting for your best self, understanding your best self and loving the hell out of it because you worked so hard to get there.

Look, there are things in this life that you are never gonna have. That’s a given. You might not get them because you look a certain way or believe a certain thing or make a specific amount of money. You might not get them because they are just outside of your capabilities as a human being. We can’t do and be everything, no matter what line of crap we were sold as kids.

We CAN be the best version of ourselves. We can listen to our bodies and our hearts and believe ourselves capable of great things. We can see something that we want and say “I can get there, I KNOW IT” and fight to do it. We can look at our shortcomings not as failures but as opportunities to learn about ourselves and others.

That’s what comparison is about. It is looking at another persons story and jumping in. Hearing it and learning from it. It’s about looking at our own story and not seeing it as flawed but as being continually told with every opportunity to add to it.

Comparison may be the thief of joy for some, but for me it’s the instigator of inspiration, the spark towards learning, comparison is the opportunity to become something marvelous.

The one where I show my cards.

Some people in North Carolina voted yesterday. They voted on a little something called, in shorthand “Amendment 1”. This “measure defines marriage in the state constitution as between one man and one woman, and bans any other type of “domestic legal union” such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.” It passed with 61% of the vote. Our lovely President today came out and said that he believes “same sex couples should be able to get married“, ostensibly in response to the outrage over Amendment 1 passing.

I have seen many of my brothers and sisters in Christ respond to this battle, some celebrating another law “upholding the sanctity of marriage” and some lamenting the fact that in this day and age our gay brethren are still denied basic rights, they have responded in this way each time this battle comes up for another round.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me, know I come down on the side of the lamenters. That I believe gay people have every right to be married in the exact same way my husband and I are married. They should get tax breaks, hospital visitation, the legal recognition of all their peers that theirs is legitimate partnership. I sometimes take it for granted that my Christ loving brothers and sisters do not feel the way I do. That they do not view marriage as a secular institution, they believe the Bible is God breathed and God breathed a river of pain on the man who sleeps with other men, they worry about legitimizing sin, not relationships. And I understand, I do not think the way they do but I know their hearts. They love Christ and they love marriage and they believe that their marriage will be cheapened if 2 people of the same gender, people living in active sin, are allowed the same privilege.

And it makes me weep for them.

Yeah, I said it. It breaks my heart.

I know the Bible verses they quote, I’ve read 1 Corinthians, I’ve read 1 Timothy, I’ve read Romans. I’ve read em. But I’ve also read Matthew 25:40 where Jesus Christ, Himself says: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The least of these. The ones who hunger. The ones who thirst. The orphans, the widows, the lame, the sick. The prostitues and lepers, the tax collectors. The ones society says: “we hate who you are, what you stand for. You are weak, you are flawed, you are worthless.”

What we do for them, we do for Him. What we do TO them, we do TO Him.

When we tell a marginalized sector of humanity, a group of people bullied and discriminated against for something as simple as loving a person of the same gender, when we tell gay people: NO. Because you are the same sex you cannot marry your partner and see them in the hospital when they are dying, or get a little something back on your taxes as a reward for contributing to the country as a family. NO. You can’t legalize your partnership because you are bad and wrong and hellbound. People like you deserve to be alone. People like you deserve to die of AIDS. People like you a disgusting.

When we say these things, with our voices, with our votes?

We say them to Christ.

I see pictures of my fellow Christians cutting a wedding cake in celebration of this amendment passing. And I want to rage. I want to curse. I want to call them bigots who are so filled with hate they’d burst if you touched them. I want to scream at them that they are horrible people, dead inside. I want to tell them that no real Christians would actively take joy in making a fellow human being a second class citizen. I want to tell them there is not way they can really love Christ because all that judging makes them horrible Christians.

But I’d be wrong.

Because just 2 verses earlier, Jesus Christ says the words that made me decide to become a Christian. In Matthew 22: 37-40 He says:” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I might think they are behaving in a hateful way, but I am commanded to love them. Love them just as readily as I love those I believe are being marginalized and pushed out. A very well spoken wise pastor said to me once: “If we could see what God sees, we would do what God does” And God sees us, all of us, flawed and hateful, empty and angry, and He loves us, He adores us.

Oh that I could do that with ease. With…GRACE. God is so much bigger than the hate we have for one another, He is so much larger than the box we try and put him in.

It’s hard for me to swallow that there are people who are actively behaving in a way that I think is horrible who also love Jesus. Like, legitimately love Him with all their hearts. But somehow that loving Christ doesn’t translate into them being a decent human being (as I see it) in any way.

I don’t understand it. I don’t.

And then I realize that the Christian church does not equal God. The church was made by human beings, fallible and flawed and all failed.

I realize that the God that I love is bigger than that little box we have tried to put Him in and I’m so grateful for it.

And more than that I can fight for Him.

I can fight to make sure that my fellow humans are treated with all the love and respect He is capable of pouring through me. Whether they are in the majority or minority I can fight to make sure that in spite of all the hate and discrimination we spew out into the world, we have a Father who loves us, all of us. He commands us to love each other and so I will. I will fight to love my fellow man.

I can fight like hell to make sure that people who love Christ understand that loving Him should open your mind farther than you ever thought possible…not close your heart to the hurts of others. Loving Him should open you up and out and overflowing with the love of Christ, so much love you have no choice but to spread it around a little.

So let this be my battle cry, small and insignificant though it may be, I will fight against whatever hate others may spread. I will fight against whatever ignorance you may admire.

I will fight till I take my last breath.

And while I fight that?

I will love you…just so you can see how it’s supposed to be done.

Fearless

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear

1 Peter 3: 3-6

When I converted to Christianity, I knew immediately that I would not be your typical Christian lady.  I was outspoken and loud, I was liberal of politics and coarse of speech. I read the Bible avidly and despaired of ever being a “Proverbs 31 woman”.  I hated the gender disparity rampant in the church, I lamented the loss of Mary the mother of Jesus as a touchstone. I once said to my husband: “if I have to hear another well meaning Christian man tell me I don’t really know what submit ACTUALLY means I will scream”. It was not pretty.

4 years later I am still fairly outspoken, I am still liberal of politics (slightly less left than when I was 19 but football fields more left than even the more liberal Christians I know), I drop f-bombs when my kids are out of earshot. I still read the Bible avidly, I still hate the gender disparity in church. I have taken it upon myself to talk to other Christian women what submission to Christ and to my husband means and tune out all those well meaning, but ultimately clueless (if only by dint of their gender!) men.

But I am different. The first time I read this passage from 1Peter I was actively sad. No one ever, in my entire life, would ever, NEVER describe me as a gentle and quiet spirit. Ever. Even when I wasn’t impassioned or enraged (which was not very often), even when I wasn’t anxious (which was almost NEVER), I buzzed, I hummed, I was incapable of being still and being quiet. I was incapable of being meek and mild. I longed to be like the pastors wives I knew, lovely gentle women, quiet and soft edged. Never blurting out things that struck them as funny or ridiculous, only speaking in low tones and soft voices.

Ok, I’ll cop to it, I was sad but I was proud of my fire. I was proud of my strength and my drive. Those women were doormats! I shouted to myself. I am an Amazon! I am woman hear me roar! I thought I had it all figured out and I thought I knew I would never be a real woman of the Good Book. But it was ok, because God made me strong!

Several months ago one of those amazing pastors wives shared a little bit about the word gentle and the Greek meaning behind Paul’s usage of it. And it changed my life. Literally

A good definition for gentleness in this context is strength under control.

A horse when it is wild, when it is strong and proud and fierce, is of no use to man. It dangerous and destructive. It lashes out, it is impulsive. When a horse is tamed it retains that speed and strength, the pride of being a creation of God, but it no longer destroys. It no longer lashes out. It’s strength and speed and ferocity are under control.

All of a sudden the gentle women I thought I was so different from? I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be like that. Smart and in control, strong and fierce for the Lord, but still capable of listening to others and learning.

Like I said, it was a life changer….but it went further.

I got home and the last line of the passage had been underlined in my Bible. I don’t remember doing it but there it was, blue ink ,strong and sure: “you are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear”.

The her being referred to here is Sarah, Abraham’s wife. She bore Abraham Isaac after years of barrenness, she had Isaac because of a promise from God. And I’ll lay it out for you, she was kind of a smart ass. In Genesis 18: 12 she literally laughs at God. She does it for an understandable reason, she and Abraham are long past childbearing years and yet He promises she will have a son, that she will be the mother of nations. I mean, in her defense, I’d snort too. When reading the account of Sarah and Hagar, I thought to myself: “Dang, this chick is fierce. She’s merciless!” I felt terrible for her because I identified with that anger, that feeling of being so frustrated. She shows herself to be a sinner, laughing at God, openly defying Him.

And then we see that God blesses her anyway. He has a plan for her and like all of His plans, they come to fruition, they all come together for good. Because Sarah has her son, and she brings him into the world with laughter, so overjoyed is she.

In Galatians, Paul describes Sarah as an allegory for Jerusalem. The free city, not enslaved, the children of promise, the children borne through laughter. She is fierce and hard but she is loved just as fiercely by God.

Fearless. Righteous. Gentle.

I have been meditating on these traits today. My prayer is that though I am a sinner, prideful and hard, I strive to be a daughter of Sarah. Because my reward is the fierce love of God. How marvelous.

 

 

Listen

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We are a musical family. My husband is a sound engineer, I was in vocal performance for years and years and both of my children love to sing and dance to music. When I am home with the kids during the day we always have music playing, usually the same albums over and over but the boys and I stop for impromptu dance parties and break it down with the best of them.

This summer I’d like to introduce the boys to new music, we listen to a lot of bluegrass, a lot of James Brown, a lot of the Glee soundtrack, a lot of Jack Johnson, a LOT of Foo Fighters. Varied, yes, but the same stuff over and over. This summer I want to expand my children’s musical horizons(and by extension my own). I am looking forward to discovering all sorts of new (or at least re-discovering stuff that is not in heavy rotation) tunes and having late summer night dance parties for the next few months!

First up? An Album I have had since I was a sophomore in college. Songs to Live By by the Square Egg is a solid funk, jazz album. It has catchy tunes and easy to sing along with lyrics.

We are enjoying Hello Sunshine with our lunch today! We hope you will too!

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