Monday, July 30, 2012

Why I Love the Olympics

  • Reminiscing about the many hours spent watching gymnastics during the 1996 and 2000 summer games with my mom and sister. 
  • The heartwarming commercials. Have you seen the Target commercial that shows kids' reactions when they open their college acceptance letters? I teared up. 
  • Making fun of the announcers, especially the gymnastics guy. I love to hate him. 
  • Not hearing anything about Suri Cruise or the Jackson family on the Today Show.
  • And, most importantly, not only do I not have to feel guilty for watching 12 hours of TV in one day, I can actually feel virtuous about it. 
Are you an Olympics fanatic like me? What's your favorite event? I've always been partial to gymnastics, but I've gotten really into swimming this year. And I happened to catch kayaking (random) on TV this morning, and it was awesome. Basically, I'll watch whatever's on. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Small love

After brushing my teeth, I walk to the bed and start throwing the decorative pillows on the floor. Darby likes to lay his towel out on the bed to dry, and since he goes to bed later than me me, the towel's usually there when I get in bed. Like always, I turn down my half of the covers, scooting his towel to the edge of the bed. But, for some reason, on this night, I am struck by my own selfishness. Couldn't I just hang up the towel?

When we got married, I put a ring on his finger and said "with all that I am and all that I have, I honor you." I often think about that vow in terms of some grand gesture of love, some big sacrifice on my part. And if I'm faced with a situation like that in the future, I hope that I'll rise to the challenge. But I have dozens of chances every day to honor him with "all that I am," and that includes something as simple as taking 2 seconds to hang up his towel instead of kicking it to the side. 

This incident really troubled me, as I got to thinking how often selfishness prevents me from doing good things, even simple good things. How many times have I put off calling a friend I know could use encouragement because I'm "too busy"? How many times have I searched for an excuse not to help someone with an unappealing task? 

When I hear about situations like the recent shooting in Colorado, I feel so helpless. And the truth is, much of life is completely out of my control. But, certain situations are under my control. The absolute least I can do is to choose love in those situations. I might only have a handful of chances to do some grand good deed in my life. But every day, I have the opportunity to practice "small love" towards those around me. I pray that I'll see those opportunities and take advantage of them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On listening to my food conscience

So, in my June Books post, I left out The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan because I knew I wanted to do a separate post about it. Without being overly dramatic, I have to say that this book changed my life. Of course, I've read other books and articles and seen documentaries about the startling lack of diversity in the American diet and the cruel treatment of livestock, but for some reason, this one hit home with me quite a bit more. It's beautifully written and, for the most part, not too over-the top. (Although it does target McDonald's as pure evil. I don't get this. There are tons of fast food restaurants. And, confession, I love McDonald's.)

I've known for a long time that I need to make changes in the animal products I buy. But I'm so used to trying to save money on groceries that it seemed daunting to begin paying over $3 for a dozen eggs or $10/lb. grass-fed beef. So, I did basically nothing, except trying to cut back on my meat consumption in general. After reading this book, I decided I had to do something more. I had convinced myself that it was all or nothing, but I realized I could make changes gradually. So, I started buying milk from grass-fed cows and free-range eggs, both of which are available at Meijer. And I made a compromise on the meat. The University of Illinois sells beef and pork in its "Meat Science Lab." It sounds really scary, but basically its a butcher shop staffed by students. The animals are not grass-fed, but they are raised locally. I am assuming that conditions on the smaller university-owned farms are better than the giant slaughterhouses. And the prices are not too much higher than Meijer. I still want to switch to grass-fed beef at some point, but I think this is a step in the right direction.

Besides the meat issue, this book also convicted me of the need to avoid processed foods. I've always known non-processed foods were generally healthier (less sugar, preservatives, etc.), but I never realized how much of what we eat is basically corn. This lack of variety is troubling for economic as well as dietary reasons. Avoiding processed foods helps fight against the overproduction of corn. I feel like I do ok, as I don't eat frozen dinners and prefer homemade treats to storebought cookies and candy. But, I definitely have a long way to go. I've given up my flavored creamer in favor of half-and-half and milk. And I'm trying to switch from diet soda to water flavored with pure fruit juice. Eventually, I'd like to make my own granola, granola bars, and tortillas, which I consume regularly. Of course, I won't ever completely get rid of processed foods, but if I eat well most of the time, I won't have to feel guilty about my indulgences.

Anyway, I never want to be one of those preachy people who tells others how horrible their food choices are or doesn't let their kid drink Kool-Aid at a friend's house. So, I'm definitely not judging anyone who makes different food choices than I do. Obviously, I'm not doing everything right. But I feel good that I'm not ignoring my conscience so much anymore. And it might be years before I'm where I want to be, but at least I'm moving in the right direction.

I highly recommend the book, but be prepared: If you read it, you might become one of those hippie food people you've always ridiculed. It happened to me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Happy "Hannahversary"

My sister came to visit last week. Immediately after she left, Darby and I left for a family trip to Wisconsin, so I didn't get a chance to post. We had such a great time. Since she happened to be here on mine and Darby's 5th anniversary, my mom coined the term "Hannahversary." We had fun playing board games, Mario Kart, and Just Dance 3, baking red velvet cheesecake brownies, and eating at some of our favorite Champaign restaurants.

But, hands-down my favorite activity was karaoke. A little back story: a few months ago, I went to "Korean karaoke" for the first time (where you sing in a room with only your friends, not in front of a crowd). I loved it so much and really wanted Darby to experience it, so we did it again a couple of weeks ago. Darby liked it, but he said he preferred regular karaoke because he likes to perform. This is kind of hilarious to me, as it doesn't really seem like his personality, but it's true. Hannah is a natural performer herself, so we decided to go while she was here. We met a couple of friends at Memphis on Main in downtown Champaign. Darby and Hannah broke the ice by each singing a song by themselves. Then, Hannah, Jin, Cassandra, and I sang "Lady Marmalade." I am very good at that song, having sung it about 3,000 times in high school. (I was always Li'l Kim, of course.) Later, Hannah and I sang "Man, I Feel Like a Woman," which was one of our middle school specialties. And Cass wowed us with "I Will Survive." But the undeniable star of the show was Darby. He sang 4 songs, and everyone LOVED him. He was such a great performer. Considering that he was in a band when we first started dating, it was a perfect way to spend our anniversary. Brought back a lot of memories of my "groupie" days. :)

I'm so glad Hannah took the time to come visit us. It was great to have some sister time. We've started planning our sister trip for next summer. I can't wait!

Excited after our successful performance

Friday, July 06, 2012

June Books

Breathless by Jessica Warman
This young adult novel is about a girl who is sent to boarding school after her brother's mental illness destroys her family. As you can imagine, it was a bit of a downer. And the main character's high school experience was so different from mine that it was hard to relate to. But, the characters were interesting, and I like that it didn't gloss over real issues as many teen books do.

Winning the Clutter War by Sandra Felton
This was offered for free on the Kindle, and I got it because I like to motivate myself by reading books about organizing. I was not the target audience for this book, which is directed at people who have serious clutter issues (not just laziness, like me). But, I did find some of the tips useful. One thing I'm really trying to be better at is doing all of the little things like closing cabinet doors, pushing in drawers, hanging clothes back in the closet, etc. It takes hardly any time and it really does make a big difference in how the house looks. 

A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
This is another young adult novel. I knew it was going to be good when I read the first sentence: "On the morning of the best day of her life, Maud Flynn was locked in the outhouse, singing 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic.'" I mean, come on, how could that not be great? I wasn't disappointed. Maud, a precocious orphan who's adopted by three spinsters with ulterior motives, is so likeable, and her story is very intriguing, if a little predictable at the very end. Highly recommend.

The Crux of the Matter: Crisis, Tradition, and the Future of Churches of Christ by Jeff W. Childers, Douglas A. Foster, and Jack R. Reese
Darby and I bought this book to prepare for the class we're going to teach in the fall. It was a very interesting read. The authors argue that the CofC needs to stop denying its history (e.g., saying that we are the continuation of the Jerusalem church in Acts) and acknowledge that, for both good and ill, we are a product of the cultural climate at the time of the Restoration movement. They also emphasize the importance of refocusing on the cross (the crux of the matter) rather than issues of worship style and other less important matters. I think this is a great book for anyone who's concerned about the future of the churches of Christ. The authors are very honest about the challenges ahead but also very optimistic. Additionally, the book includes a paraphrase of the book of 1 Corinthians in more modern language, which I found very powerful.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The beginning

11 years ago today, I offered to give Darby a ride to watch the fireworks with a group of friends from church. He brought his huge binder full of CDs and played different songs for me in the car. Now, Darby feels like that was hugely pretentious, but, at the time, I thought he was so cool.

We stood together on top of the Baylor parking garage, watching the show. I wanted desperately for him to hold my hand---I even did that thing where I rested my arm right next to his on the railing, but he didn't do it.

After the show, we went over to our friend Daniel's house where some of the guys set off their own fireworks. I have always had a fear of fireworks, especially when they're being set off by teenage boys. But I might have played up my fear just a little bit, so that Darby would comfort me. It worked. :) He finally held my hand. Now, he tells me that he saw through my act all along. Oh well.

I think we've only spent one 4th of July apart since then (when I was in Mexico). We've watched fireworks on the suspension bridge in Waco, at Nelson Park in Abilene, in downtown Nashville, on the beach in Florida, in tiny Monticello, and in Champaign. Every year, I think back to that first 4th of July. Both of us were so nervous. I'm so glad Darby took the plunge and reached for my hand. Neither of us had any idea that, 11 years later, we'd still be watching the fireworks together, holding hands.