30 January 2009


And you thought all New Hampshire had to offer was a broken man in the mountain.

And no sales tax.

Super Snacks

If you know Andrew and me, you know we are not sports fans. While I try to know enough to at least be conversant, I rarely follow a team (or a sport for that matter) much beyond the latest headlines and controversies. This indeed has its benefits. We watch less TV and our emotional well-being is never tied to a scoreboard. The downsides? Well, for starters, Andrew has earned the nickname "Sporty" and he recently confessed to me that he'd be interested in having a Cubs hat but is afraid that it might invite conversation about baseball. For Andrew, that's pretty much social suicide. I, however, being a woman, pretty much get off the hook. Fair or not, it's true.

In any case, what we can contribute to the wide world of sports is food. It has been an unofficial (and not quite consistent) tradition that Andrew makes guacamole for Super Bowl Sunday. I've been a faithful fan of his combination of avocados, cilantro, tomato, garlic, lime, jalapeno and onion (?) for quite some time. The only thing that has been left to modification over the years has been the quantity. One year we ended up with not just a bowl of guacamole, but a 9x13 pan of it!

Enjoy your traditions this weekend. And if anyone knows how to deflect questions about baseball stats and subtly turn to exchanging tips about sports snacks, let us know. Or if you've seen a cap with an avocado on it...

22 January 2009

A Thousand Words

Check out the work of Pete Souza, the former Chicago Tribune national photographer who has now been named Obama's White House photographer. Souza's photos from Obama's first year as Illinois senator have been compiled into the book, The Rise of Barack Obama, which contains some truly telling images.

Obama in Moscow
(Tribune photo by Pete Souza / August 25, 2005)
Few recognized Barack Obama as he walked on a sidewalk in Moscow in 2005.

Kenya tradition
(Tribune photo by Pete Souza / August 26, 2006)
Sen. Barack Obama dances with one of the grandmothers who care for orphaned grandchildren at a CARE project that he partially funded in Siaya, Kenya.

Candidate's wife
(Tribune photo by Pete Souza / February 10, 2007)
Michelle Obama brushes off her husband's coat inside the Old State Capitol in Springfield in February just before he proceeded into the chilly winter air to announce his entrance into the presidential race.

Photos and captions taken from chicagotribune.com

21 January 2009

Imagine All The People

"For they [those who question the scale of our ambitions] have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."

This is my favorite part from Obama's inaugural speech. And not just because it celebrates the achievements of our country, but because of the calling it could become for the Church. What if the Church reawakened its Christian political imagination (not my words) and joined in its common purpose?

We have been reading the book, Jesus for President, with others from our church and it has been instrumental in provoking some good conversation, and I might even say, our imaginations. Do we have it all figured out? No way. But it's been a good place to start in rethinking how we live our lives, how the choices (small and large) we make reflect what we believe about the Christian life. Here is an excerpt of the book's description by Zondervan:
Jesus for President is a radical manifesto to awaken the Christian political imagination, reminding us that our ultimate hope lies not in partisan political options but in Jesus and the incarnation of the peculiar politic of the church as a people “set apart” from this world.
Probably the best part about the book is that it provides practical examples and real stories of how this is being lived out today, and reminders of how this has been lived out in the past (ie: Dr. King, Bonhoeffer, Romero). I find it important to acknowledge that while this book has most definitely been written in a certain context (ie: 2008 America), it emphasizes that this "new" movement is really part of a bigger, pre-existing and ongoing story, and is therefore not new at all. Rather, it is a reminder of what has occurred when imagination has been joined to common purpose, and a recall of Christians to that alternate way of life.

[For other reading on this topic, I strongly recommend The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd.]

19 January 2009


In preparation for our small group meeting tonight, I had a chance to reread some of the speeches and writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I wondered why I don't do that more often, but I'm glad I did today. These words are no less relevant 50+ years later, even on the heels of an historical inauguration.
True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force - tension, confusion, or war; it is the presence of some positive force - justice, good will and brotherhood.
Dr. King's address before the First Annual Institute on Non-Violence and Social Change, Montgomery, AL, December 1956

Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.
From an article appearing in the magazine Christian Century, 1960

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advised the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

The Deep Freeze

18 January 2009

Move It or Lose It, Buddy

I really don't want to use this blog as a platform to complain, but I can't help myself on this one. I've been considering a lot lately what it means to live as a community, and I'll tell you what doesn't fit: saving parking spots with chairs/sawhorses/crates/coke cans/buckets/cones... whatever. Not cool. I do not understand how shoveling out a spot justifies the sense that now, this piece of city-owned pavement is mine. I would much rather approach snow removal as a neighborhood endeavor, a common goal, the idea being that this is our city block, together. And together, we will work to get the snow out and our cars in. If everyone would shovel out their spot (and help those who cannot), then wouldn't our block be cleared and we could all park? I know that some people don't shovel. But since when is it ok to abstain from doing the right thing just because that's what everyone else is doing? Didn't we learn that lesson in kindergarten? In any case, if anyone has some good suggestions for how to transform this individual act into one of common care and concern, please, fire away. And for those of you who don't live in Chicago and don't know what I'm talking about, here you go:

Addendum: I would be remiss not to mention the upside. Not everyone abides by the spot saving strategies of the supremely annoying. Sometimes a good car-trapping snowstorm can bring out the best in people. Andrew has become Super Shoveler (with a cape and everything) and is always ready to rescue a lad or lass in tire-spinning distress. And I know he's not the only one. Perhaps therein lies the solution: model the change we wish to see.

15 January 2009


I am not Swedish, and I am really ok with that. I am. I promise. But you can't grow up in a Covenant church, attend North Park and have some fabulous friends and family of Scandinavian descent without brushing up against some of the finer features of Swedish culture. Take korv, for instance. We wouldn't have braved those drippy meat juices (I think there are still some remnants on Andrew's shoe) had it not been for our dear friends' gentle coaxing into the world of homemade potato sausage. We're still enjoying it (and probably will through the Spring). So, in the spirit of Swedish Heritage Appreciation, I thought I would convey to you the pleasure I take in a much loved item of Swedish persuasion that I inherited from none other than TK's mom.

I'm not sure what the whole back story is on these, and I can't remember the specific reason why she relinquished them to me, but I'll take them, real wooden soles and all. Whenever I wear them, I'm reminded of the great land of Sweden (and the 70s) and the many traditions it has birthed. And I will admit, I am the better for it.

12 January 2009

Christmas Trees: Use No. 2

Give the illusion that your city-dwelling is set in a backwoods oasis.

08 January 2009


At some point along my haphazard journey to discover a hobby, I committed to paper. Not scrapbooking, just paper. Letterpress. Stationary. Gift wrap. The Perfect Greeting Card. Decorative paper with whimsical designs. And while I don't think I ever truly embraced the full-fledged art of Paper (I finally admitted that I really just liked to buy it and appreciate it, as opposed to actually ever doing anything with it), there are some things I picked up along the way that I just can't shake. Take greetings cards for instance: If you get a greeting card from me, you can be assured that it will be hand selected and not from Jewel (and if I'm feeling really inspired, I might just make it). Or gift wrap: try a paisley print or Paper Source's Colonial Indian Chinz pattern. Fonts? Texas Hero is still my favorite. And so, as you can probably imagine, the Paper Source has become a treasured merchant in my quest for creativity. When I go there, whatever little dormant dusts of inspiration I have are resurrected and I feel the sense of possibility once again. Last year, I discovered their exclusive Date Books and for the first time in my life, I felt satisfied with my chosen method of organization. Great design, eco-friendly and fantastic colors. What more could a paper girl want?

Well, I'll tell you what she wants: less planning. If there's anything I'd like to change about myself for 2009, it would be that if I ever needed to, I could throw that planner out the window (at this point, I don't ever see that happening, but it's only January 7th). I'd like to be less scheduled, more flexible and more generous with my time. While I realize that this is easy for some, I'm confronting the fact that it is very, very difficult for me. I protect my time to the point of selfishness and somewhere between Monday and Sunday I have forgotten on whom I should be spending it. And so, in a symbolic gesture, this year I bought the Mini Date Book (in persimmon red). May it be a reminder to me to not covet those blank pages, but to give of them freely. A reminder to plan less and live more.