Friday, December 24, 2010

My First Christmas Eve...

It’s early winter in Bethlehem. There’s a chill in the air and the scent of damp straw hangs all around. The cattle are lowing… the stars are shining extra bright. Something incredible has occurred this night. Tonight, for the first time since humanity stood amidst the Garden of Eden, God tangibly comes to us. Pretty incredible, no? This tiny, wriggly baby—Jesus, Emmanuel—is fully human, and fully God.
And, yet, where is the fanfare? God, who created the earth from nothing, had the power to choose anyone on earth to bear and raise his Son… so he chose a young woman, not more than a child herself; and a common carpenter.
It seems like a rather strange way to save the world, doesn’t it?
When I think about raising children, the Nigerian proverb which says, "Ora na azu nwa” comes to mind. Translated, it means, “It takes an entire community to raise a child.” Hillary Clinton made this proverb famous when she named her 1996 book “It takes a Village to Raise a Child.” As a youth minister, I can attest to this notion—that it’s not only a child’s family that influences who they become as they grow up… but also the community, school and friends that surround them.
If I were to choose a family to raise my child, I would require some serious applications. I would want not only to meet the couple, but might require several references, a tour of the community in which my child would be raised and a guarantee that s/he would be raised in a good church.
What on earth could God be thinking, choosing two peasants who aren’t even married yet to raise His one and only son?
What kind of life could he possibly have? Born, not in a warm cozy home where Mary had been “nesting” for weeks, but in a strange land, placed in a feeding trough. This is nothing like the birth stories with which we are familiar. There’s no account of midwives helping with delivery while Joseph paces the floor... There is no mention of warm water or receiving blankets… Jesus was wrapped in bands of cloth.
There was no one waiting outside the room for the good news of safe delivery and the anticipated declaration “IT’S A BOY!” There was livestock. This new family found its humble beginnings lost somewhere in the shuffle of the world’s first census.
But that’s not entirely true, now is it? There were shepherds not far from this strange scene… but why shepherds? Isn’t there an inn with people close by?
One scholar writes that, “[Shepherds] are people whom we wouldn't expect to be worshiping Jesus. Because of their jobs, shepherds normally didn't make it to the Temple worship services. They didn't practice Sabbath day observances. They were seen as ignorant, irreligious, immoral, crude and vulgar Jews – and they smelled bad, too.[1]
Some biblical scholars have even noted that shepherds were so shifty in their business practices—letting their sheep graze on other’s land—that they were not permitted as witnesses in courts of law.[2] That’s right-- men who were not considered fit to be witnesses in court, are the first to witness the Christ child![3]
The angel appears to this motley crew—not the pious Pharisees or Saducees—and announces to them the birth of the Lord, the Messiah… the one for whom the people of Israel have been waiting and waiting.
Let’s recap the story so far. It’s a brisk night in Bethlehem, miles and miles from Nazareth. Mary and Joseph are exhausted from traveling and have just born witness to the birth of this tiny baby, they know to be the Messiah. There is a stillness hanging in the air…no one with whom to celebrate this incredible experience… when suddenly a bunch of shifty, smelly shepherds come stumbling upon the scene babbling about angels and a celestial experience...
It doesn’t sound real, does it? It might even sound a bit… crazy.
If it truly takes a village to raise a child, why would God send his only begotten Son to a community of peasants, livestock and unsavory shepherds?
I’ll tell you why: Because this child—this babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, this SAVIOR—is not to be raised by any village. He came to raise our village. It takes this child to raise our entire community.
This is the story of how our God became human and entered the most neglected, unsavory places on earth, that no one could be left out. This story is not about a virgin mother or a carpenter; it’s not about a multitude of angels or shepherds… it is about God incarnate.

God takes the commonplace details of life and enters in, making them holy. God does not reside on some unattainable throne dressed only in the finest linens. God the Son became human and laid in a manger, wrapped in bands of cloth. Jesus, Son of God, suffered the shock of birth—grasping for his first breaths of humanity—so that we might know the salvation he brings.

No matter what this year, or this decade, has brought: pain, illness, shame, suffering, even ambivalence… this story tells us of the invitation God makes to us, like the unsavory shepherds. Despite who we are or how we’ve acted, Jesus Christ breaks into our world and becomes human like us so that he can die for us and for our sins. My fiancĂ© wrote earlier that, “Tonight we celebrate and remember, not just to give gifts, not just to see a baby in a manger, but to ponder the great gift of eternal life that is wrapped in those bands of cloth in that stable.”

It’s early winter in (_______, West Virginia). There’s a chill in the air. The chickens are roosting… the stars are shining extra bright tonight. Something incredible has occurred this night. Tonight, and for the past two thousand years, our God has walked among us to show us love, compassion and forgiveness. Pretty incredible, isn't it?

[1] Brian Stroffegen,

[2] Brian Stroffegen,

[3] ibid.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

December Newsletter...

"Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth."
Psalm 71:9

I came across the classic poem by Robert Fulghum the other day, titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I’m sure you’ve seen it at some point or another… it brings up everything from the importance of sharing to the universal need for napping. It is true! The world would be an incredible place if we all followed the rules of the Kindergarten classroom. But, while there is a lot of truth to this philosophy, I have learned a lot of important lessons from our residents in the latter stages of life, as well.

- I’ve learned that hearing a story repeated several times can be a gift. Our fast-paced culture is becoming more and more lousy at listening… what better way to practice our listening skills than to hear the same story repeated!

- I’ve learned that there is no such thing as too many hugs. We live in an ever-isolating culture. The best place to give hugs and receive smiles is in the hallways of PM. My loneliest days are brightened with a stroll through the halls!

- I’ve learned that words shouldn’t be wasted. Speak up, annunciate and be efficient with your words…

- And, most importantly, I’ve learned that God is present in the most unexpected of places. Our Creator’s fingerprints are present all around PM… from the ever-quiet woman who yells, “I LOVE YOU!” to the glimmer of relief in the eyes of a perpetually anxious resident.

The holidays are a lonely time of year for many people. Families miss loved ones who have passed… single people miss the company of others… residents miss their families. We can easily be swept up in this loneliness, like the voice in Psalm 71:9. What if we were to reach out to one another? There is so much to be learned from and shared with the residents and staff of PM and people all around us. My prayer for each of us is that we not shy away from opportunities to discover God’s presence among us!

God’s peace to you this Christmas and always!

Jessie Hamme

Monday, September 27, 2010


My grandma ("Gramma") has discontinued her chemo therapy. It has been nearly fourteen years of "fighting" lymphoma. It has been nearly fourteen years of sickness, weakness, sores from radiation... and a few months ago, she stopped. She decided to live and smile and breathe.

She ventured out to my little sister's beautiful little house the other week (with the generous help of my parents) and stayed in a hotel. Ironically, she came through the woods and over the river to see me this past weekend. She's seen four grandchildren grow up and has suffered the sudden loss of a beloved great-grandchild before we could meet him.

It's been a tough year... facing the impending loss of an incredibly strong woman whom we all love so very much... and all coping with the sudden loss of a precious little guy we all loved so very much and anticipated meeting. It's been especially tough living away from everyone as they suffer.

And, so, I've made an effort to honor my family in my new place. I pray differently... without ceasing... in every moment for the ones I love who suffer sudden or impending loss. I snuggle my supervisor's little son more. I weep with the woman who has recently miscarried. I hug the "grandmas" at the Nursing Home and tell them I love them...

Tonight, though, I honored a favorite memory of my Grandma that I had almost forgotten from my childhood. Tonight, as I helped get two sleepy little people ready for bed, I recognized the homesickness in their cries. I knew what it is to miss one's mommy. And, recalling what my Grandma used to do for us, I made Gramma's special warm milk. Sure... it was special for the sleepy little girl... but it brought a new and familiar peace to my heart. These are the ways I honor my family. I knit booties for little ones who are not yet born, praying for their safe arrival. I add a few drops of vanilla to warm milk for a weepy little girl...

I remember that the God I love and cherish is present in the midst of my suffering... holding the baby we all dreamed of holding... preparing a space for a beautiful woman... comforting a sister who mourns... supporting grown children in the anticipation of impending loss...

I remember that my God is also our God and that we are all held in compassionate, all-knowing love.

I remember these things... I weep... and I know that it is well with my soul.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Camfire Marshmallow

I purchased two candles from the local Country General Store. One is scented "Ginger" (it smells like pumpkin...) and the other "Campfire Marshmallow." Campfire Marshmallow scent is the perfect combination of all the best aspects of Autumn in one jar. I think I'll buy a hundred so that I can take them with me when I leave here...

Family is en route from Pennsylvania to these mountains I call home today. I get a little more than twenty-four hours with my parents and my Grandma. We'll go to the General Store, the local restaurant, tell stories, worship together... it's already perfect and it hasn't even started!

I love it here. I love watching the mountains brighten with yellows and reds and oranges as they prepare for winter. I love taking a watering can out to my pitiful flowers in the hopes of bringing them through this awful drought. I love wading in the low river with a happy beagle. I love the small town veterinarian who keeps "office hours" and not appointments. I'm even growing to love the giant mountain which divides me from the convenience of the life I used to know.

There is a peace that comes with Autumn. As Creation gears up for it's weary rest in Winter... I see the artist hand of God in every detail. It's a period of waiting that deepens my understanding and love for God. A renewal before hunkering down in anticipation of heavy snows and depleting resources. Autumn makes any waiting period seem do-able.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the Details...

The big festival... the day for which this entire town waits all year... begins tomorrow. One of my congregations is holding a bake sale to support their seminarian and asked if I would contribute. So... the muffin lady pulled out her parchment paper, soy milk and muffin tins and made miniature bran-apple and cornbread muffins. This week has already wiped me out. I am ready for a weekend of celebration and renewal. Thousands of people are preparing to descend upon this tiny town in the mountains for a weekend of new and old memories and I cannot wait to participate!

At the same time, I am up late tonight chipping away at my sermon on a Wednesday to make way for the busyness. I am consumed with prayers for friends and family who ache. One of my goals for internship is to learn what it means to be alone... how to care for myself in the midst of chaos and solitude. I've learned to turn off the television/internet and turn on the music. I've explored what it is to pray through baking or solitude or even quiet walks with the pup after the town has gone to bed.

As I baked these mini-muffins and created their little packages out of parchment paper, wrapped them in twine and labeled them accordingly, I thought of the loving care and detail my Creator has invested in me. Some of my friends would see these details as wasteful of time and energy. I've seen them as an opportunity for my intimate Savior to enter into this solitude in the mountains. I was reminded tonight of the many reasons to be thankful.

In the craziness of this Festival, people will (hopefully) tear into these tiny snacks without much thought toward the time and care that went into them. It only serves as a reminder to me of the ways I take the details of my own life for granted. When I lay my weary head on my pillow tonight, I will rest peacefully knowing that I am loved intimately by a God who not only created me, but sent His son to die for me.

...and a good sleep it shall be.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Day Off

A day of rest and recovery. I spent the morning taking "rest" as a serious task and then roused to use what produce remains in my fridge before trash night in soups, salsas and prepping bags for future morning smoothies! I'd like to compost here, but with such a tiny yard and no garden to speak of, it sounds like a silly task. That said, I find that most of my "fresh" meals made with fresh produce occur at the end of the week so my garbage doesn't rot too much before Saturday morning!

I find great peace in the kitchen. I pray as I chop and add vegetables to soup stock. I ponder the Holy Spirit's intercessions as I whiff roasting peppers and tomatillas in my oven. I've found relief today in blanching kale and manipulating the "waste" water into creating stock for tofu vegetable soup... I reveled in new territory as I explored the world of salsa verde in my teeny tiny food processor.

I feel rested. I opened myself to peace and God's peace found me. Now, nearing the close of day, the football game is underway at the high school-- whistles and cheers pour in through open windows. A crisp edge has settled in on the air and I can just *feel* the need for sweaters rounding the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Nothing like a homesick camper to take away all hope of restful sleep and bedtime joy for a week.

I've been surprisingly not homesick since the move to WV. I'm sure it's connected to the large number of family celebrations and milestones occurring on a regular basis this summer... I am, however, finding that I am becoming unquenchably "friendsick." Although I am learning to laugh aloud on my own, I miss the entertainment of deep friendship. I miss sitting with a group of women around a coffee table and sharing our rich experiences of life. I miss sitting in The Boy's apartment and laughing at the antics of three twenty-something men. This feeling never sticks around for very long-- a fleeting moment or perhaps a day or so-- but when it does, I find it hard to pick myself up. The busyness of the ministries here have certainly helped to push me forward, but some days I am slow to find motivation.

I've made friends with myself here. I walk the dog every morning at his pace. We stop and smell every nook and cranny for a mile each direction. And then most nights, I grab my weights and head out for a few miles alone or dragging a reluctant pup. I eat healthier here, too. I've made a pact with myself to take better care of my insides. I use my blender more and drink my daily smoothie in a large wine glass. It feels less "hippie" (as The Boy would say) and more self-indulgent that way. I've mastered dry-frying tofu for recipes like Thai Red Curry and Ginger Stir Fry. I've introduced new vegetables to my diet (still no raw tomatoes).

Life is beautiful here. And considering it's only been about a month, my learning curve has been incredible. I have the sneaking suspicion that this "friendsickness" will follow me the rest of my life. But, once more, a new depth has been added to the richness of the "communion of saints" as we gather around the Table. I long for more frequent communion with my brothers and sisters. I know the seminaries push us to introduce weekly communion to our churches, but I also revel in the ache for communion, which continually draws me back to God.

So here I sit at my kitchen table, spinach smoothie in a tall wine glass... friendsick, on the verge of tears, pining to be united with the saints in communion, and clinging to my God.

...clinging to my God. The God of my friends, in whose security rest the saints. I've got the hunch that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hold My Hand

Working in a nursing home is different from leading BINGO. It's different from singing for a group of residents like I did in my youth. No, working in a nursing home means investing in people. It means sitting down with a woman whose brain is pulled in many directions and whose words don't form coherent thoughts. It means validating even the craziest of stories and bringing a smile to someone's face.

Serving as a chaplain in a nursing home means holding the hand of a resident who weeps. Even when they can't communicate the reason for their tears. It means leading a bible study with people who have read the Bible cover-to-cover, forwards and backwards and who have memorized more scripture than anyone else you'll ever meet.

Serving as chaplain in a nursing home means daily being humbled; it means witnessing the love of Christ in new and various ways; it means opening oneself up for profound change and intense relationship with people who may or may not have much time left on this side of the kingdom.

It means choosing to invest richly in the Kingdom of God and not in things of this world.

And it also results in an intense nap at the end of every shift.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Cozy Spot

I wish for extended Autumn. Today's temperatures peaked around seventy degrees-- perfect for an open sweater and a gentle breeze. This morning began early and remained busy clear through to the afternoon and these weary bones were happy to be home.

It's funny. I've found my nook in this house. It's cozy, with an empty seat waiting for good company. There's room for the dog and plenty of sunshine... unfortunately, it will only be good for a few months longer! It's the front porch, you see. I've purchased some hanging plants and a bird feeder, continued the valiant battle with the trumpet vine, washed the lawn chairs and purchased a small "coffee table." Just now, as I sit here, with the mountains in the distance (hugged ominously by dark, heavy clouds), a humming bird is buzzing around chirping at the dog. Tucker seems mostly unfazed... he's munching on a pork femur from the Dollar Family General. I may regret that purchase later, but something about long Sundays in his crate makes me a softy for a Sunday evening treat.

Busy as it was, though, today was filled with glimmers of God's grace and love. I have been so welcomed into these churches. My second service ends with hugs and beaming smiles. I received multiple invitations to meals and family functions. I'm quickly learning about the hospitality of God's people and challenged with preaching the Gospel to a people who routinely teach me about radical love.
The busy pace of the weekdays here is renewed and challenged on Sundays. PC mentioned today a nugget of wisdom I'd like to carry with me throughout my life in ministry. "When Sunday is seen as the end of the week, it's difficult to carry out the tasks of the following days... but when Sunday is seen as the beginning of another week of service in the Kingdom of God, it can be a driving force in your ministry."

I continue to meditate on Colossians 3 as the words from Kyle Childress' recent article ("Oversized Expectations") roll around in my brain. My tweets occasionally have the hash tag #rurallifeisdifferent. I'm growing to see this as an important lesson, not only for me, but for everyone to learn. Rural America is being "megachurched" on a regular basis... perhaps it's time we learn to live into our own identity. Perhaps it is time for us to set aside our greed and our oversized expectations for what life here should be like and thrive in the middle of what life really is.

Ah, well. It is Sunday evening. I'll step down from my front porch pulpit and go back to watching my ornery puppy roll in the grass like a cow. Perhaps we'll make it out for a long walk tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

On the House

I'm mostly unpacked. It's a nice sized house for a single girl and her dog. There's a GLORIOUS amount of counter space and my new coffee maker (thanks mom!) has its own permanent space.

Tucker has found his favorite spot in the house. The sun shines through the window in my "living room" onto the love seat. He sleeps pretty soundly most of the day in the sun, waking only to run around like a nut and howl at the strange noises in the house and/or the house flies (whom he has declared his mortal enemies).

The bathroom quite possibly bigger than my childhood bedroom. Tucker plays a funny game of hopping from rug to rug in the bathroom while I do laundry.

I've attached the dog chain to the front porch rail, which pleases both the momma and the Tucker. He gets to sniff and dig and pee all he wants while I vacuum/sweep without a howling nuisance. I tackled the gardens today. It helped to have a physical challenge and some quiet time in the midst of creation. I pulled tall weed and trimmed the long ivy vines that had begun to take over the sidewalk. (I also discovered that scissors can be used as a manual-powered weed whacker, too!)

The back porch/wood deck has been taken over by a giant trumpet vine. The humming birds seem to loooove it. I, however, would like a little more porch to sit on, so I wrestled the plant into submission. It took surprisingly little trimming to wind the vines around the porch rail and open up more space. I know it's a small feat, but it feels good to have some control over at least one aspect of my life.

I have a pumpkin plant growing happily from under my porch. I'm eager to get better internet to see if I can't find some information on tending pumpkins! (Aunt Tina, I'd love advice from you...:)

It's becoming home... slowly but surely. God is richly in these people and revealing himself in everything.

Know Peace,

Some Rambling Thoughts on Tiny Town, WV

I've been here since Wednesday. Mom and Dad drove in the old green pickup, towing the long trailer with most of my belongings. Tucker and I took the lead in the wagon. There are some great pictures Mom got of Tucker's head out the window as we drove down the backside of the mountain. I think he's still recovering from the drive... his little carsick belly held tough, though!

I've been spending some time exploring the town. Before mom and dad left on Thursday, we walked Main Street and explored the hardware store, the sporting goods store and the courthouse. There are some very old and beautiful homes and buildings here. Most that survived the Civil War are marked with plaque to denote whether they were Confederate or "Union Occupied." Even more so than in Gettysburg (is this possible?), the Civil War seems to have soaked into the roots and crevices of this town.

Tucker and I walked to the Post Office last night. It's a nice 30 minute round trip ("with traffic") walk. I think we'll be making the trek on a regular basis. He is frightened of the truck traffic that seems to have picked up along the highway. My neighbor says it's because truck drivers are trying to save gas. We chuckled at the thought that someone might save gas driving in these mountains... These mountains are beautiful. They are nothing to scoff at. These mountains will decide when I can leave town and when I must stay. Come winter, these mountains will decide if I get to see my Love or not.

It rained last night on our walk. Front porches were crowded with rocking chairs and friendly faces who watched us on our awkward adventure. I think it will take some time to get Tucker to trust me on the sidewalk along side tractor trailers and other cars. There is no buffer of space between the road and the sidewalk. (I am just thankful to have any sidewalk at all!) So for now, we walk a bit, he pulls, I make him sit, we walk, enter tractor trailer, he tries to run, I make him sit, we walk a bit... rinse and repeat. I do believe my spiritual exercise this year will be patience.

I'm in a good place. I'm safe. Internet is sketchy, but once I work out a schedule, I can get internet in my "office" for sure. I think Tucker and I will explore the park today... I hear there's a public pool!

Know Peace,

Friday, June 18, 2010

Grace in Dog Park Culture

Regal Beagle has been a grace in my life in many ways. He has tested my patience (and won on more than one occasion), challenged me to better balance my life with play, required me to keep my life clean (or suffer the consequences of devoured black pumps or favorite purse), and so much more... but lately, now that I am at home with my parents for a few weeks, he has once again presented me with a new grace.

Every day, we pile into the Subaru and run over to the dog park where he romps recklessly with other dogs, rolls in something delightfully stinky, goes for a sloppy swim in the creek and then collapses in exhaustion, ready to go home and snooze. He inevitably introduces me to people I would otherwise never meet or have reason to engage beyond "hello." Today alone, "we" played with a 20-something Russian woman and her doberman puppy, an old man who takes care of an even older woman's dachshund, and a woman who owns not one but four beagles.

As a special treat after several hours of hard play, I took Regal Beagle for a free doggie ice cream. He greeted two young boys who were spending the day with their big sister with slobbery kisses, a gentle old man who reminisced about his own beagle and a cantankerous woman who seemed rather displeased with the length of the line. All the while, I was given the opportunity to share smiles and a moment of my day with a few strangers...

He's a blessing, this little guy.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Sometimes, seminary feels a whole lot like war... a war with words (written, spoken, private and sometimes achingly public) instead of weapons.

Late nights, frayed emotions, thousands of pages of reading, mountains of written work and trasnlations, social networking...

A sometimes too-small community, public ministry and full-time enrollment, every detail of life scrutinized by committees and professors who rarely take the time to know "candidates" personally...

A church laden with labels of conservative, liberal...heretic...

By the time we get through the barrage of assaults that compile the end of the semester, seminarians wander around with glazed eyes, incapable of effectively communicating with one another let alone non-students; still sore from the wounds inflicted, bracing for what is inevitably around the corner...and there's always something around the corner

I have to wonder how we can move from this realm into healthy public ministry. I have to wonder why it seems like a strange phenomenon that so many people in ministry struggle with mental illness. Mostly, I guess, I wonder if seminaries don't take care of their students, how do the leaders of the church learn to be cared for?

Who holds this realm of God's people? Who reminds them how to love and be loved? Can a war-torn, weary survivor really be a healthy leader?

Disclaimer: There are many places for students to turn for help. I am neither desperate nor in an unhealthy place, BUT I do see a ton of ache which is exacerbated with the pace required of students. I also feel like I am currently without pastor, opening up a new awareness of the desperate need for seminary students to have a "neutral" spiritual leader-- one who is not connected to grades, evaluations or candidacy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Moving & the regal beagle

Today, he sleeps.

Yesterday, he dug a million little holes in my parents' backyard, tore a six inch strip of wall paper off the dining room wall and made an(other) attempt at my black leather shoes. He's tucked into a tiny little ball of puppy cuddling in the breeze on the edge of my bed now, but if you happen to wander by between classes, he's perched at the window atop my wooden step-stool, busily wagging his tale and wishing he could lick your bald spot. Granted, you don't actually have to have a bald spot for Regal Beagle to desire an enthusiastic hunt in your masses of hair to double check... I am *so* not the one who taught him this bad habit.

As I begin the adventure of collecting cardboard boxes for packing and marking things with post-its as "storage" or "move," I wonder what our lives will be like next year... missing our boy with the bald spot and lots of big changes looming overhead-- some surrounded by eager anticipation and others with a tight knot in my stomach.

I know it is important not to wish one's life away. I understand the importance of living in the moment and learning from everything. But sometimes seminary makes me long for the life that was meaningful and lived for the other. So many of my days are spent planted in books trying to grow new roots to strengthen my future in ministry while my personal experience hearkens back to a life of tending to the aches and hurts of the world. I am here because I wanted more education to prep for a life of ministry. I am here because the church recognizes the importance and significance of an education. I am here... and that is what matters.

Because of this, I am grateful for the ever-looming presence of internship... an opportunity to actively serve God's people and be fully immersed back in the broken and beautiful world to which I feel so called.

And yet. I (we) will miss him. Our year will be filled with too-short visits and too-few hugs and meals shared... too-few funny kisses to that soft little bald spot. But, oh, the joy of our reunion-- as a real family.

Yes. I'll keep telling myself this: We'll come back... with belly laughs and new friends; with great stories and new scars. Until then, I'll enjoy the days I get wrapped in my green prayer shawl with a sleeping (still-a-puppy) 32 pound dog... can't believe he's nine months already. Never thought there would be such simultaneous comfort and pain in the swiftness of time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kitchen Essentials

I have somehow convinced myself that the availability of my favorite groceries will be different in my future abode. I have these minor meltdowns before every big trip and have even developed a mantra for packing for Europe: people live t/here, too. I repeat it over and over as I roll up my pants and tuck them neatly into my suitcase.

And, yet, moving to a new and somewhat foreign, highly remote, place feels completely different. Although this place is near great hiking and serious outdoor adventures, I've convinced myself that my favorite (healthy) ethnic ingredients might just not be available at my future remote home...

And, so...I present a running list of essential kitchen ingredients... of things I use often or will miss in my own overly-dramatic nature if it's not available! I'm open to rational advice, which assures me that, yes, Virginia, there is a healthfood store. Until then, here's the working list of things I'm stocking up on and researching how to freeze/save!

  • fish sauce
  • red curry paste
  • bamboo shoots
  • kale
  • whole chiles
  • whole wheat tortillas (...can I make these?!)
  • whole ginger root
  • tahini
  • hummus
  • herbs for growing: rosemary, cilantro, thyme, dill
  • whole wheat pitas (this have to exist everywhere, right?)
  • low fat coconut milk
  • mango

Breakfast Club

Winter is done. Summer, that temptress, made a brief appearance with her 80 degree temps and tank tops, but is once more on hiatus. Spring, however, has made her regal entrance: tight pink and white buds have exploded into papery blossoms; birds spiral through the air with their fertile pursuits; windows fling wide with blinds pulled high and curtains blowing in a cool breeze... the productivity level of students everywhere dwindles and the eager anticipation of distraction emerges once more.

That was my morning. Four women, one husband and one complacent baby. While sipping mimosas, we spent nearly two hours preparing Pioneer Woman's guarantee to maintaining birthing hips. As we planned to serve these beasts with eggs and strong coffee, we chose bacon instead of ham. And, my, how the savory smell of bacon splattered and hung in the air as we fussed over the other ingredients and gabbed.

Now, I've always had close friends with whom I could speak for hours, but never before seminary had I appreciated the gift of gabbing. We poured over Ree Drummond's cookbook, fantasized about what her life must be like, discussed our own hopes and laughed-- oh did we laugh. Even now I smile recalling this morning as though it occurred years ago...with friends I've known for many ages.

As I sit down to focus on grad school and pretend it is gloomy and gray outside, I find a renewed vigor for life. Papers, projects and exams loom overhead while I calmly plot how to fit more time for good people in my cluttered life. (And, oh, how I look forward to more adventures in cooking with the many beautiful women in my life!) For now, though, I think I'll sip my praline coffee and contemplate kicking my productivity back up a notch... we'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Money for School...

School moneys are tight. I'd like to be selfish and keep this little ditty to myself, but I know we all feel this pinch and how much cooler if someone we know wins?

Monster Jobs $5000 College Money Giveaway

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Not wanting to lose some of the great things I've stumbled upon this week, I'm throwing these up here for future reference!

A DIY Cupcake Tier

And while I'm at it, this whole website is pretty fabulous. Check this out!

And as we race to plan a wedding before the two of us bolt to live in separate states for a year, I'm super excited to find inspiration from places like this!

I made these for lunch. I didn't measure anything and instead of brushing the chips, I sprayed them with Olive Oil PAM. Went great with hot pepper hummus!

J & I have been talking about how we should do a better, more intentional, job of planning our meals and groceries. I've become quite the coupon queen and have even learned how to price shop from the internet to see who has the best "bonus buys" on products for which I have a coupon! That said, I love, love, love the design and layout of these. There are a few options toward the bottom of this page-- while I suspect I'll settle for the blank list, I appreciate the pre-fab list for its outside-of-my-box vegetable and grains suggestions!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thoughts to Come...

Nearly a month into a new year and I've got a pile of thoughts needing to be fleshed out. This is a new format for me. My thoughts are typically intertwined with images and lines that flow from page to page of a cherished journal. We'll see how this comes to life in this new place!

A list of the many things to which I hope to return:
  • Miss Elaine: the simultaneous gift and pain found in the death and burial of a cherished local icon juxtaposed with the tragedy in Haiti and the mass burials
  • Clutter, Comfort or Materialism?
  • The Arts in Worship: Liturgy ("the work of the people") beyond the words

New Beginnings...

I am a theologian-in-training, a knitter, a novice cook and a dog lover. I make bread from scratch, brownies from a box and eat far too much chocolate. The Boy and I take turns cooking and are exploring the world of tasty and healthy eating.This blog is a quiet corner of the world wide web for me to explore God's presence, share silly Regal Beagle stories and perhaps publish the occasional knitting pattern and kitchen success while attending grad school full-time.