Friday, November 28, 2008

tis the season

I know I'm not the first to say this, but might it be time to reevaluate something here? This is just so very sad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

caring for creation

I did not grow up "green." We saved a few soda cans for a while, but that was the extent of my participation in environmentally friendly practice. The general public opinion in the Texas panhandle of my youth was very skeptical; "tree huggers" were bad. It's only in the past few years that I have tried to learn to change my habits and adopt some more sustainable practices. I've quit excusing myself from making changes because they seem to small to matter, and I want to become a more responsible steward of the creation God entrusted to His children. I am a baby at this, so Google could point you to more helpful sites if you want a "how to." I'm writing to offer a testimonial: If we can make these changes, anyone can.

So over the past two years, we have taken these baby steps:

1 - We try to REDUCE the amount of garbage and pollution we generate (directly in indirectly):

I guess the general idea here is that we won't throw away trash that we don't buy to begin with. We try to buy food that will generate less trash. That means more local and/or fresh ingredients, less process, packaged food. We throw away less, and we're eating food that required less energy (processing, packaging, shipping) to get from its origin to our plate. (It also means that I'm learning to cook differently, which has been fun! I think I'll finally have a skill!) We've cut down on the fast food we eat (better for our bodies AND our planet), and try to eat out at places use real plates and buy local, if possible. We use pyrex/corning ware food storage, trying to cut down on plastic baggies, foil, and plastic wrap that would end up in the trash.

I shop for homemade or used items (from kitchen gadgets to clothing) first, then after-market or reduced items before I buy new stuff. It may keep said items from just going in the trash, and if more people shop that way, environmentally unfriendly production will slow.

We are trying to buy cleaning products that are less toxic, and steer away from plastic toys (which is tough, but doable).

In the interest of steering away from disposable anything, I highly recommend Diva Cup, ladies (also MUCH more comfortable).

Hopefully these buying practices will support business and farms that use sustainable methods for production, and eventually help them have the means to sway legislation in their favor. I think my dollar is as powerful a vote as the ballot.

We use cloth napkins and real towels, and when we use paper products, we use PAPER products - not wax-coated paper, plastic, or styrofoam. Most of the paper products we buy and use end up in our compost pile instead of the trash, which leads me to...

We compost. We may or may not have a garden in the spring in which to use our compost, but either way, I feel better about making sure biodegradable matter ends up back in the dirt instead of wrapped in a plastic bag in a landfill somewhere.

We don't drive very much. Our strollers have logged miles and miles since moving here. Again, living in Wilmore has made that easy for us; it's such a small town. When we move, it may be quite an adjustment to learn to drive less.

2 - We try to REUSE as much as we can.

We reuse as many things as possible before throwing them away. A couple examples: We keep some plastic containers to store/organize things in the house (like toys or art supplies) or in the shed (nails and screws, etc.). I use newspaper from the junk mail pile to shine glass. We realized that most of the standard letter size paper that came to us in the mail or from school was blank on one side, so we save it and use it to print drafts, write notes, or for Morgan's art. We have our own grocery bags (which I'm still getting in the habit of taking with me to the store), but we use the plastic ones to line small trash cans. Ryan is a genius when it comes to reusing cast-offs for his projects before buying new materials.

It's easy for us. The city of Wilmore has a recycling program. We sort the approved items into our bin, and put it on the street for pick-up every other week. I'll have to write again later and let you know if we learn how to recycle when we live in a city that does not have a program like this available.

We've also looked into some things that just won't work for us. I was about to order cloth diapers, but with Athan's physical challenges, it would not be wise for him to have the bulkier cloth diapers hindering his mobility. And there are more things we're learning about that we hope to work into our daily habits and lifestyle a little at a time.

So that's a start. None of those things have required much in the way of sacrifice on our parts. It took a little attention and discipline to change our routine as we incorporated these practices, but now everything listed above is pretty much the norm. Yes, I said "pretty much." I am no saint. If it's cold outside, I drive - even to IGA, which is only a couple blocks away. Sometimes I'm too lazy to sort all the recycling, and I just toss it. Sometimes I buy convenience foods or eat fast foods that are toxic to world and body, but they're easy on a mom who doesn't always get enough sleep. Still, I'm trying to change my "default" practices so that the exceptions are less costly. I've done no measurement at all, but my guess is that even with all the exceptions, this year we've generated half the garbage we did the year before.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Shane Claiborne, author of Jesus for President spoke at Asbury Chapel yesterday, which you can listen to here if you like. I cried almost the whole time. Shane and friends have composed a beautiful litany that is also worth the read, if you haven't already.

One story in particular stood out to me - this one about sharing communion through the fence along the US/Mexico border. Politically, I'm against the construction of any fence or wall between the countries. I think it's a fear-fueled bad decision.

But that honestly wasn't my focus yesterday. The image became a metaphor for another part of my reality: I saw us (and substitute any group here that you've ever called "us" - mine include the Asbury community, our church, our friends, my family) trying to relate to one another in a Kingdom way. There are always fences under construction, threatening to come between us - hurt feelings and miscommunication, fear, anger, shame, brokenness, pride, apathy, fatigue... The list is inexhaustable. (With apologies to Robert Frost) Something there is that loves to build walls...

But if we can meet at the border and share Christ with one another, there is hope. Maybe we pass it through a little fence, or maybe we hurl it across a river. Maybe we do it in defiance of the powers that oppose our freedom to connect with each other, risking much, serving one another with humility, grace, and love.

Maybe that kind of love can bridge the gap. Tear down the wall. Melt the fence.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"When I was in London..." (last one, I promise)

It was fall. I love fall. This is Hyde Park and St. James Park:

And then I got to come home.
Home to my Athan (blurry, i know. but my favorite, still):
And to my Morgan:And of course, to my wonderful Ryan (NO way am I letting you see that picture!).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"When I was in London..." part 3

My hosts:Andrew and Meme. Such generous and gracious hosts. Both took time off work that they probably shouldn't have just to show me around London. Andrew gave up his room for the week (despite my protests), and Meme was just so very, very available to me as tour guide, confessor, friend, and minister. Without them, London would have just been another city to see.

Andrew's neighborhood:

Andrew's neighbors:Andrew's front door:
His house is in Wimbeldon Chase in London. It was quiet neighborhood. MUCH more fun than being in a silly hotel!