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re:defined: February 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

diversity vol 2: more babies, please!


now that i got all of the diversity ramblings out of my head, and you've glimpsed a little into my heart, i'll follow up on what i mentioned about babies.

more babies, you ask? yes please.

and not just babies of my own, although dave and i have realized over the past few months that our family is still not complete, and are excited to see if God will give us a third bubby (and fourth. dave doesn't want 3. it's 2 or 4 for him, so i'm shooting for twins. kidding. SO not wishing twins on myself, except for in the deep dark secret corners of my delusional brain.). but that's a different topic. i'm talking about diversity here, and although italian, my husband can not give me what i want.

and what i WANT is babies from different places of different races! just like piper has.

my heart, the heart God has given me, is for fostering babies. maybe adopting, too, if the opportunity presented itself, and God was leading that way. in my mind, there is no better gift to give than the gift of love and a home. and i have lots more love to give, and if need be, i can stack kids up in drawers to fit 'em! kidding. sort of ;)

seriously, though, it weighs heavy on my heart to know how many unloved and uncared for children there are. it breaks my heart a little every time i think about it. so in the years to come, as our kids get a little older, and i have more of my attention to give, i'd really love to foster children (okay, babies especially. perhaps because i'm sick and twisted? maybe i like getting up in the middle of the night? i don't know. i just love babies).

this is what Jesus calls "true religion":
"religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." james 1:27

i feel like that's a pretty direct charge for us to help the people who need it. single moms, widows, children with no family, whoever. and however. i have a home, and i have love to give. if God gave me what i have, it would be wrong NOT to use it. i'm not saying everyone should foster kids and adopt babies. i think God calls us all to different things. what i AM saying is that we are asked to USE what we HAVE for the kingdom. not being selfish with ourselves OR our things. and this is one way i'd like to give generously.

and the bonus? my kids get to grow up in a family that isn't all white, which i feel brightens the future for acceptance, justice, and equality in the generations to come. i would feel proud if my children could look at different colors of skin without batting an eye because it would feel so normal and common and quite irrelevant that their skin is different. or their hair is different. or their eyes are different. THAT'S what I'M talking about.

so yes to more stratton babies, yes to anyone else's babies, and yes especially to black babies. just saying. i have a special place in my heart for those amazing features God didn't give us white folk.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

more diversity, please

*you'll have to excuse the seemingly converse nature between my last post on target's fineries and a post today with thoughts on race and ethnicity in america. although i may seem schizophrenic or batty, i must remind and assure you that this blog represents my mind and it's many wanderings, for better or worse :)

in asking you all what you wanted to hear about from me next (okay, this was a LONG time ago now. months. better late than never?), it was unamimous that i must talk more about the "john legend" experience. or my ramblings on diversity, my obsession with culture and ethnicity, my affinity for black people, my desire to some day foster (and hopefully adopt) children that don't look like mine, and the fact that even just writing that makes me worry that it's already such a white person thing to say. and that i already sound weird or ignorant.

so first- a disclaimer post (and tomorrow, we'll talk more about babies and fostering and the such):
i love diversity. and by love, i mean adore. my fear in writing is that my posts on this topic may not come across the way i want them to. or maybe they will. but i am going to write anyway, because my heart demands it and so do you. i do not, however, want to trivialize or understate the overwhelming issues that we face in this world in light of culture, race, and ethnicity.
there is a lot of hate in this world.
there are people who hate african americans for being black and white people because they live in trailer parks. people don't see others the way God sees them. people compartmentalize other people because it makes us feel safe. what i'm attempting to say is what's in my heart, which is that my love...is for everyone (my problem might be that i like white people less and tiny afros more), and i don't care about country of origin or color of skin. equality is equality. i don't want people treating me a certain way because i'm a woman and i don't want people to think i'm stupid because i have blonde hair, AND i don't want people to stereotype how i see other cultures because i'm white, either. i mean...REALLY?!

in my opinion, the trouble is that our country is just...young. and ignorant. the united states is like a teenager who thinks they know everything, knows what's right for everyone, and can't do any wrong. that's why so many countries hate our guts. i mean, who likes teenagers (i mean that with love, teenyboppers)? there is so much baggage we still carry in 2010 as a result of how we've treated other people in our country, and what i want to know is why it can still feel premature or wrong to say we're all equal, even though we are. i feel like we are, but i try to see people how God sees them. and i'm white. which is not saying that because i'm white, i don't think there is inequality and i don't think there's racism- because i do, and there is. i just don't condone it or participate in it or agree with it or see any need for it as a white person. i tend to feel like no one wants to hear about oppression or racism from a white girl because frankly, i'm not up against racism and hatred like so many other cultures and races are. so many of us have it SO easy. heck, christians aren't even persecuted anymore! no one's banging my door down and killing me for going to church. i mostly wish i wasn't white, so i wouldn't have to feel so absurdly awful about the way my ancestors treated other humans. (way to go crusaders, awesome job bringing Christ to the world, by the way.)

i stole this quote from my cousin daina's blog, who lives in and writes of her experience living in jinotenga, nicaragua:
"homogeneity is sometimes mundane, other times a stimulus for prejudice."

i love this thought, and it's so true. how can we live in such a diverse part of the world and desire homogeneity? this is america- we're the melting pot, we're the place where freedom rings, where opportunity knocks. except we look through the peephole first because we're a bunch of haters (i'm using "we" loosely, here. i mean the generally "we"). i think we should fight the kind of assimilation that encourages people to take on american names or forget their culture's practices or holidays. that's whack.

and i want to be part of a generation who sees past color and background and class and status and just sees people. people who have feelings, who have desires, who have families, who have lives that are being lived simultaneously to ours. i celebrate differences. i WANT differences. we NEED differences. not just in culture and ethnicity, either. in mind and opinion, too. we were designed to live in harmony, at peace with one another, but our sin and our greed and our hatred and our ambition have gotten in the way. acceptance is what we need. judgement is not.
straight up, all we need is love. the beatles were totally right. and for real? i love me some non-white babies. we'll talk more about that tomorrow :)

i leave you with this: i recently read that "cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only in respect of economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life."


what do you guys think? i want your thoughts!
ALL OF THEM. NOW!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

lurkers


we all do it.

we can't help it.

there's something fascinating about someone else's life, isn't there? if you're reading this, then you, like me, are a lurker. if you're tweeting, or posting on facebook, or watching survivor or the bachelor, then you, my friend, like knowing what is going on in other people's lives.

before i go any further, let me assure you, lurking is not a bad thing at all. it sounds like a dirty word, like peeper, or creeper, or prowler, but i assure you, lurking is part of our culture now. we all are in each others lives through some medium, especially my generation. andyou know what?! i think it's FANTASTIC.

why?
because blogging, like many other mediums, is a way to
connect with each other. my friend suzannnah (i lurk and follow her life via her blog) put it this way:

"if you had told me two years ago that blogging would create relationships with strangers in other parts of the
country and across the world, i would have told you that was insane.
what kind of creeper becomes "friends" with people online? um, apparently me, and i'm grateful for the connections, especially during a season of life that can be achingly isolating.

being home all day with tiny people is lonely.
and wonderful.
but lonely, nonetheless.
this space has made the distance seem narrower."

i told suzannah that i would steal her words because they're so poignant for me and for others who need a space. to write and think outloud. to share. to be heard. especially moms, who have no time to themselves, yet are still somehow allll alone.

i adore sharing my life you and with the world. not because my life is that interesting, but because i know it can impact people's lives in a positive way. or bring some joy or some laughter to someone's day. or maybe i can challenge someone with a thought. or maybe i can just share my little life (and my little children) with you (and with our family that is spread literally all over the world).

i'm really glad your here, lurking around. it's such a cool thing to be connected with so many, near and far, and so easily. however, there is a price to pay as a lurker. are you ready?

i, michelle, challenge you, lurker, to leave comments here on blogger. i love to hear your feedback, and like suzannah articulated in her post, it helps me to feel "less naked." you can create a blogger profile really easily with just a name and your email address (to keep wacko spammers at bay), and if you have gmail, you can just sign in.

so let's keep the conversation going :)

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

l-o-v-e in the uk



can you even STAND it?!
even MORE fabulous items in target?
is it possible?!
march 14, liberty of london is headed to target to make it even more impossible for me to not shop.

i might need an intervention. someone will have to literally lock me in my house and steal my amex. the pillows and lamps and cannisters and note cards and dresses...and...and...

oh gosh. it's hard for me to breath with all this fabulousness.

anyone?!

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

new recipe


dave made this wednesday night for dinner when i was at work. i had the
leftovers for lunch and MAN was it delicious.

i literally cut and pasted it from cook.com, so don't blame me for this recipe's weirdness in places ;)

ITALIAN SAUSAGE SOUP WITH TORTELLINI

1 lb. Italian sausage (casing removed)
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
5 c. beef broth
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. dry red wine or water
2 c. chopped seed tomatoes (peeled)
1 c. thinly sliced carrots
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. sliced zucchini
1 (8 oz.) pkg. tortellini (any kind)
2 tbsp. parsley
1 green pepper, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

In large saucepan brown sausage. Remove drain, reserving it, drippings in pan. Saute onions and garlic in drippings until tender. Add beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce and sausage.

Bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes. Stir in zucchini, tortellini, parsley and green pepper. Simmer additional 35 to 40 minutes or until tortellini are tender. Sprinkle cheese on each serving.

Serves 6 to 8. NOTE: Fresh, frozen or dried tortellini can be used.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

preschool?!




preschool.
whoa.

i have to say that i'm really not quite ready to let my little guy grow up. i'm sort of avoiding preschool, actually. if i sign him up, then he has to go, and...get...well, BIG.

i digress.

so i'm looking into preschools in the area that are first and foremost:
a) convenient.
b) affordable.
c) and, of course, they need to teach, and well.

southeastern regional high school has a program that has come highly recommended to me from a few different people, and since it's practically across the street from the church, ie, only 6 miles from us, so it's one of the front runners.

let's talk about this, though, moms. did any of you realize how EXPENSIVE preschool is?!

holy moly!

here is a breakdown of southeastern's center for early learners:

full day program:
tuesday and thursday, 7:15am-4:15pm: $60/wk
monday/wed/friday, 7:15am-4:15pm: $90/wk

i think we're doing a full day program because i'm not about to get us all out of the house every single day. nooo thanks. i'll have to do that every year from now until he's 18, so i'm cool with not making that kind of daily commitment right now (if your curious what the pricing is for a half day- full week, it's mon-fri, 7:15-11:45, $75/wk).

but have you done the math on it?!
$60/wk for 16 weeks = $960
20 weeks = $1200
24 weeks = $1440
(etc.)

!!! whoa, baby. i don't actually know how many weeks this particular program is, though i do know it starts 9/8/10, but regardless, it's hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars. worth it, sure, but surprising for me, to say the least.

so i want to hear back from you!

do you think the cost of preschool is exorbitant? or would you pay anything to get them out of the house, ahem, i mean, educated? (kidding, kidding)

do you see pro's and con's for half days versus full days?

local readers- do you have suggestions of other great programs? what is their pricing like? for how many days and what times??

i'm one for making educated decisions (excuse the pun), so let's talk some preschool, mamas!







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Thursday, February 18, 2010

eli's quote of the day

it's early, but eli's one liners wait for no one. i had told elias that i'd consider letting him watch one more show this morning, but he wasn't being very kind to piper, so i was undecided. i suddenly realized i was alone upstairs and when I came down, the two of them were sitting watching dora the explorer. i sat down to put on my socks, not saying anything yet about the tv and eli turns to me and says:

"i said to myself, maybe there is a show on that is appropriate for kids, and i saw this and so i watched it."

!!!
i mean, really?! i'm letting him watch dora just for saying appropriate! i'm not even mad...i'm impressed!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

miss piper

i have to admit, i'm actually a little obsessed with piper.

she has so much attitude and personality these days (on the verge of too much, actually), and a whole smattering of things to say (true to her little birdy self). here are some of my favorite piper sayings right now (lucky for her, she has the most adorable voice, so it's hard not to like her even when she's spitting "no!" at you...)

"whey ahh you, muma?! wheyaayyyuuu?" (where are you) she says this alll the time, even if i'm...right next to her.
"he's saddd" referring to elias whenever he cries.
"upa budda wurl so higghh" she sings this verse of twinkle twinkle over and over.
"da-duu" (thank you)
"i luyu dudda" c'monn, melt your heart.
"i sawdy" (i'm sorry). after she knocks you down, at least she apologizes.
"my buddy!" she's saying brother, actually. but the very fact that brother comes out "buddy"...is adorable.
"mummy, wadda nut!" (i want a snack) this one was tricky at first. 'uhh, nut? you want a nut?'
"uh-huh" this is just cute because of how she says it in her sing-songy little bird voice. she reminds me of "uh-huh" from the little rascals sometimes with her "uh huh" response to everything.
"vey huttt!" (very hot) she points to the stove and says this and blows, like she's cooling off her food at dinner or something. hahaha.
"mo peeezzzz!" (more please)
"elmo d. moo-eee, moo-ee!" (elmo's world. movie movie!) she loves her some elmo. that is fo sho.
"tea time!" whenever it time to eat, it's tea time!, according to piper!
"gudge. yell-oww AATT" (george, yellow hat!) yeah, she loves the man in the yellow hat. more than george, even.
"muts! bigg mutss!" (mess, BIG mess!) we hear this a lot. piper makes lots of messes.
"bee-zaa!" (pizza) most food is pizza to piper :)
"jaaa-tull, jaaaa-tull." (gentle) many times, we have to show piper again how to be gentle, as opposed to brutish and wrestler-ish.
"poots!" (poops, and she waves her little fingers under her nose) i mean, it's adorable. and so is when she says "tootsies" as in toots, but the girly version. ha!

and the list goes on and on...

i haven't given any pippa updates in a while, so i thought i'd make up for it by posting some pictures and videos of my spunky little punk. enjoy!


:)

always a blur.
always.

big girl pony.

with one of her many "babies!"

kisses.

more accurate: assault.


dancing and singing abc's. it's so hard to catch her because as soon as she see's the camera, she wants to watch herself. except you can watch yourself annnd be videoed.

video

piper amazed by the plaster on her dada's skin. hilarious.

video

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Friday, February 12, 2010

black and white and grey

although this may come as a shock to you, being that i'm a pastor's wife and all, i'm not a big fan of what people refer to as "devotions" or daily quiet time. now, that doesn't mean i don't agree with the principle behind it or the need we have to be disciplined. i'm with those things. we need quiet. we need focus. we need to read the Bible. i'm just not into the legalism that comes with "devotions" an the guilt that creeps in each time we don't sit every single day and do our "due diligence". i actually just like the idea of wanting to read the Bible, whether it's every single day or not doesn't matter. i like the idea of actually studying it when i can, and doing my best to talk to God as constantly as possible.


sounds good, right?

excepttt, i'm not super-great at it.


as moms, as humans, really, it's almost against our nature to do what is best for us, what is right for us. even if we want to or even enjoy that thing (in spiritual matters, i mean). our hearts and minds are pulled constantly away from God and distracted easily (and even intentionally) by any number of things. we sometimes even
like putting other things before God or in place of God, and it's a shameful struggle so many of us secretly battle alone. i was reading my friend jessi's blog recently and reading it stirred up a challenge for me personally to study more and read more. to not let my day get the best of me, to not rest on the laurels of motherhood and the challenges it presents, but instead make a choice. make a decision to live better and more fully the life i WANT to live.


and for me, that life requires more Jesus and less michelle. more focus and less distraction. more time and less excuses. more Bible and less laundry. (now we're talkin!!)


enter: a little study on john 14 with the help of http://bible.org.

at this point in my spiritual walk, almost decades into my faith, just straight reading the Bible isn't enough anymore. not because i've read it all, because i haven't. or because i know it all, because i definitely don't. mostly because i want to REALLY know what was written on those ancient manuscripts, and since i don't quite know hebrew or greek, in my opinion, when reading current translations of the Bible, a LOT gets lost in translation, if you will. and honestly, words can become all too familiar when you've heard or read certain things again and again. so for me, i really like to read with a commentary when i can (and i really can't and don't always), to get a fuller meaning on what i read. and more often to help me understand what i'm reading, because for real, Jesus talks circles around us common folk with His double-meanings, parables, metaphors, and the like.


i just want to share a few thoughts that challenged me this morning and i'll probably only get through one of the verses in this posting. the rest i'll come back to if you want to continue studying with me :)


i tend to feel like the book of john can be one of the more challenging books in the Bible, mostly because there are so many

of Jesus'

teachings , which to me are some of the most important and most fascinating to read. here's what the commentary had to say (in yellow), and some questions for us all:


John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me."
This is a verse that a lot of people aren't big fans of, eh? In our world, many people believe that there are a lot of different was to "get to" God, even that there are more than one God. For me, the jury is still out on how "generous" God is in terms of whom he'll allow into his Kingdom and not. For me it's complicated, not just black and white, or "you're in, and you're out". We'll get back to that later.


Initially we might suspect a copula (word linking subject and predicate) with three predicates...the first would be

similar to John 10:7, 9: “I am the door”—that is, the way of entrance. The second would relate to Jesus’ statement in 8:31-32, “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The third sounds similar to 11:25, where Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life.”

However, the context suggests that the three ideas are not strictly coordinate. The next statement (“no one comes to the Father except through me”) seems to relate primarily to the first predicate, “I am the way”. Thus we suggest that the two remaining predicates, the truth and the life, are epexegetical or explanatory to the first: “I am the way, that is, the truth and the life.”

But what does this mean? Jesus is the way—the only avenue of access to the Father and thus to salvation (the “door” of 10:7, 9)—because he is the truth (the sole revelation of the Father who is the end and goal of the journey—cf. 1:18). Note that this is not, in context, an ontological (relating to or based upon being or existence...umm, very philosophical) statement but a statement of who Jesus is in relation to men.


Jesus is also the way because he is the life—the source and giver of the life from above. Just as in the original creation he was the giver of physical life
(see John 1:3-4. The "Word" being Jesus, his presence at the beginning of the creation of all things. Jesus always was, just as God always has been), so in the new creation he is the giver of life from above (cf. 3:5-8). Again, this is a description of Jesus in terms of his relation to men (10:10). Brown remarks: “It is noteworthy that zwhv, “life,” which occurs thirty-two times in the Book of Signs (the first few chapters in the book of John), occurs only four times in the Book of Glory (the last couple chapters in the book of John). Now that “the hour” is at hand, life is actually being given and need not be talked about.”


i guess i just enjoyed the thought that Jesus is the Way BECAUSE he is the truth, he IS truth. and that He alone gives us life in his death. and that
in his truth, we find freedom. that in the beginning he gave life, and in his death gives NEW life, and NEW freedom that is only possible through Him. as i mentioned before this rouses an interesting debate, though mostly (not entirely) between non-christians and christians about whether Jesus is exclusively "the Way" to God. i have my own thoughts and opinions on this, but i really want to hear yours.


for me, the Bible isn't something i feel i need to protect and guard. it's been around for centuries for a reason. it doesn't
need me to help it stand up against questions and curiosities. jesus told the disciples later in John that the Holy Spirit would continue to teach them after he was gone. truth is, those who don't have the Holy Spirit will struggle to understand the truths of the Word. heck, i struggle with them. all i do know is that what the Bible contains changes lives and teaches love and a better way to be. i'm not afraid to ask questions that will help me understand my faith more and challenge me to grow in my faith. that's what questions do. that's how Jesus taught, no? by asking questions.


so what do you think?? believer or not- do you feel like Jesus is THE Way?

are you black?

are you white?

or are you in the grey?

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