7 Quick Takes Friday

A special New Year’s Edition featuring some resolutions and a couple best of 2009 lists.

1. Resolution #1: Become parents & be good at it. The holidays are over, State of Michigan. Please finish our paperwork & give us a call. We’re ready.

2. Resolution #2: Read through the Bible (as mentioned by D on Wednesday). Several of the girls in our high school youth group have committed to reading through the Bible this year with me. I’ve tried this before and have never been successful but the accountability of several teenage girls should help me out. I’ve promised to reward them if they complete it by January 15, 2011 (giving us all a little room for error). I’m already starting to think of ways to celebrate this accomplishment. I have always struggled with making consistent time for Bible reading and I was inspired by Pastor JR Vassar this week to make it intentional in 2010.

3. Resolution #3: Eat at home. This resolution is two fold: one, we eat better when we eat at home and, two, we eat cheaper when we eat at home. I’m thinking #1 is going to help us out with this. And, although it is months away, I am excited about the CSA share we purchased that will provide us with fresh & local fruits and veggies each Saturday in the summer and fall.

4. Resolution #4: Read five books. Five is not a lot but I’m planning to be busy. The five on my list right now (many of which I have started but haven’t finished): Adopted for Life, Parenting with Love & Logic, Parenting the Hurt Child, Same Kind of Different as Me (I already have the full audio on my iPod), and The Color of Water.

5. Resolution #5: Become reacquainted with my elliptical machine and the 30 Day Shred. A very cliché resolution but a good one. In order for this to happen though, D needs to accomplish one of his resolutions (Completing the basement project).

6. Five resolutions is enough. I know my limits. How about a list? My top five favorite episodes of This American Life in 2009 were:

  • Switched at Birth: Two women find out mid-life they were switched at birth and that one of their mothers knew it all along (originally aired in 2008, but I heard it in 2009).
  • More is Less & Someone Else’s Money: Technically two episodes but they go together. An awesome explanation of the American health care system that will make you think.
  • Rest Stop: Stories of people passing through.
  • Fear of Sleep: A favorite mostly because of Mike Birbiglia’s sleepwalking story.
  • #1 Party School: A new favorite (just aired a couple weeks ago). A look into the social life that was going on all around me when I was in college.

If you don’t already, make it a resolution to list to This American Life in 2010. You won’t be disappointed.

7. My CD player broke in my car earlier this year so I started listening to the radio again. Thus, my top three musical guilty pleasures of 2009:

  • Party in the USA (Miley Cyrus) – I put my hands up, their playin’ my song…
  • All of Taylor Swift’s songs – If only there had been a Taylor Swift in 1998/1999. I could have completely avoided my Alanis/Fiona phase by emotionally rocking out in a less angry manner. Sorry for all of you who lived through that.
  • Single Ladies (Beyoncé) – I may or may not have spent some of the time D was in class trying to teach myself this dance. And I definitely did not figure it out. I just don’t have the rhythm.

And, on that note, Happy New Year!

*Hosted at Conversion Diary

I Just Need to Say This…

Attempts to be less wasteful and have less of a negative impact on the earth are not direct attacks on you, Jesus Christ, or Christianity.

A few months ago I heard a Christian respond to a list of suggestions that a movie star made about simple things you could do to benefit the earth. He scoffed at this celebrity’s list including the suggestion to only run your dishwasher when it is full. To this suggestion he replied, “I will run my dishwasher whenever I like.” He called the celebrity out on his use of private jets for travel. That is probably a legitimate gripe. However, the list was intended to suggest simple things – as to not cause you inconvenience or the need to alter your lifestyle – which could help the environment. And, in my opinion, in a country where we pretty much get what we want, when we want it, we could all use the experience of being inconvenienced every once in a while.

Not only was his comment foolish, he was taking pride is being wasteful. In “churchy terms” that would be “not being a good steward.” It seemed incredibly irrational to me to take such personal offense to a list of simple suggestions, none of which were heretical. The man was mostly offended because this person was probably of a different political party than he was and, therefore, not interested anything they had to say. This is just one of several instances over the past few months in which I have seen a Christian take offense to a reasonable suggestion to be more environmentally friendly.

I am not endorsing the worship of nature but a simple respect for creation. I would not really call myself an environmentalist but I do think that conserving energy, recycling, and being less wasteful in general are good principles. I think most Christians understand this but there are a few who have embraced an anti-earth stance because the “tree-huggers” are on the other side of their politics.

This is just another example of what happens when faith and politics get confused. When we overly identify our faith with one political party, it becomes very difficult to see truth. In a world that we are supposed to be in but not of, it is hard for me to understand why Christians believe there is a “correct” party. Nothing about what Christ taught makes me believe that we belong in this world. One of my absolute favorite verses is Colossians 2:8:

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

I pray that every time I am considering my opinion on something, that I would measure it up against that verse. The teachings of Jesus Christ do not fit neatly into the platforms of a major political party. Why? Because they are the philosophies of man. I understand that this makes voting difficult but I don’t really care because it is not supposed to be easy for us to live here. We should not be surprised when our beliefs and our morals are challenged in politics and popular culture.

Because posts are much better with pictures: This is me and my bike-riding, energy conserving, recycling, hippie brother standing in front of God’s glorious, amazing, and wondrous creation. We both love Jesus.

Semi-Related Post: Consistent Ethic of Life

Greenish

My brother-in-law asked me a few weeks ago, “K, you’re kind of green right?” I guess I am greenish. I make attempts at a more eco-friendly life. I try to reduce, reuse and recycle (Thanks, Jeff.) I stumbled accross this blog today: No Impact Man. This guy is doing pretty amazing things to reduce his impact on the environment. In a recent post he listed fourty things that could be done to start living a greener life. Here are a few that I think I could start implementing in my life pretty easily:

3. Buy fewer things. Don´t buy on impulse. Ask yourself if the thing you’re buying is something that you really need.
7. Stopped using my dryer and use a clothes line or drying rack–and enjoy saving the cash.
18. An easy quick tip: stop using papertowels and paper napkins. Keep cloth towels on hand for cleaning and cloth napkins for mealtime.
28. Recognize that happiness in life is related to relationships with other people, not shopping.
33. Swear off plastic bags.
35. Skip sodas, juices, things that come in bottles and cans–for a week.
36. Bring your own mug to the cafe and carry your own water container.

I encourage you to go and read the whole post. It was really interesting and helps you understand that minor changes may make a big difference. And it made me want to get a bike. I had a bike but my brother “reused” it by taking it apart, using the pieces and giving away the frame. Crazy hippie.

Grocery Shopping Woes

I really enjoy cooking and do so even more now that I am planning my meals out ahead of time. Coming home from work and cooking is pretty relaxing for me. But what I really do not like about the cooking process though is grocery shopping. I make a list with everything I need for my meals ahead of time so I can get out of Meijer as quickly as possible. The only real free time I have to go to Meijer is on Sunday afternoons and, sometimes, on Saturdays. Either way, these are terrible times to go grocery shopping. I always seem to end up with a slow cashier or someone in front of me holding up the whole process. Recently, D and I ran into the store to pick up a few items so we got in the Express Lane. We quickly noticed the woman in front of us had much more than the twelve item limit. Rather than change lanes, we just waited. The cashier politely gave her the benefit of the doubt and said, “You must not have noticed that this was the express lane,” and the woman just said, “Oh no, I did but no one was behind me when I got in line.” We were not quite sure of her logic on this one. She then went on to argue over the price of five boxes of pasta she buying. Now, I’m all for a good deal, but she had already slowed down the express lane. I calculated the amount she was arguing over…it was just over $1.00.

The other problem I have run in to, especially at Meijer, is their dislike of my reusable grocery bags. I bring them in on every trip and try to have them unfolded and ready for packing when I get to the end of the lane. Several cashiers have been visibly annoyed by these bags. One even tried to educate me on the topic by letting me know that my bags were probably also made by trees and therefore, were not really that helpful. I let him know, politely, that by using them I only had 10 bags, rather than hundreds accumulated throughout multiple grocery shopping trips.

Today, when I headed to the check out at Meijer, I noticed that they had added about ten “No Item Limit” Self-Check Out Lanes with long conveyor belts. I thought I would give them a shot since the cashiers seem so bothered by my bags. I waited for the couple in front of me to bag up all their food and then started scanning my items. As I paid for my items, the guy behind me in line got way too close for comfort, overly eager to use the new machines. Apparently I was not quick enough for this family, because before I could bag up all my groceries they just started scanning theirs and sending them down the belt to crash into my items. Until people learn, “Self Check Out” Etiquette, I think I’ll just go back to the regular lanes. Or I’ll just start sending D to the grocery store but then all we would have in the house is cereal, whole milk, bread and American cheese.

Also, I’m realizing this is probably the longest post I have every written and I apologize. I’m just really annoyed. On a side note, I never have such problems at Trader Joe’s where they embrace my eco-friendly bags and have wonderful customer service.