Tuesday, December 29, 2009
you are standing in an open field. it's summer. the sun is just beginning it's descent to the west. there is prairie grass as far as the eye can see. dandelions, thistle, a beautiful pasture of green. the wind is ever so present. just strong enough to send a breeze through the air and across your skin. you inhale deeply, and all you can smell is earth. it's refreshing, it's natural, it's real.
to your left, you see cattle grazing on the honeysuckles, whipping their tails with delight. they are free to roam the countryside, and the hills are their buffet. over and to the right, you see a mud hole. there are pigs making their way back and forth from the mud hole to the grass, eating and splashing. you know this is their element. you can see it in their eyes. they are happy, they are dirty, and their bellies are full. in the distance, you see a farmhouse. there is a big tree out back, with a tire swing. you can hear laughter, and a screen door slam shut. two kids run from the house to the yard where a picnic table is waiting, piled high with food. as you walk closer, you see the watermelon, the strawberries and the baskets of fresh bread. there is corn on the cob, pink lemonade and a stack of hamburgers at the center of the table. a family gathers around, says a prayer for the meal, and digs in.
here are some questions for you. right before you "dig in", do you wonder what you're eating? do you think about where it came from, how it was produced, or whether or not it's good for your body? do you think about whether or not your body will be able to easily digest it, if it will cause you to gain weight, or if it's full of vitamins and minerals? Or on the other side of the coin, if it's plump full of antibiotics, pesticides and other harmful toxins that your body was not meant to consume? have you ever wondered if what you're eating made it from the farm to your plate in an ethical manner? i could keep asking questions, but i'll let you rest, for a moment.
i think it's safe to say that most of us don't think about these things before we take a big bite out of a juicy hamburger. we don't think twice before we ravage a bag of chips or inhale a package of m&ms. we just eat. we eat because we're hungry, because it makes us feel good and because it's fun. eating is enjoyable and what once was something we did to stay alive, has turned into a reason to get together with friends and family, a solution for a bad day, and an excuse to spend lots of money.
let's go back to the picture i tried to help paint for you at the beginning. when you think about farms, is that how you picture it? cattle and pigs roaming the open fields, filling up on grass and living life the way God intended? if that IS how you picture it, you're not alone. i think most of us would like to believe that is how it works. we feel better picturing our steak that way. it seems ethical, healthy and...right. however, this "idea" of a farm, is getting harder and harder to come by. these types of farms hardly exist anymore. what has replaced them, is the answer to our society's demand for cheap, convenient food.
they are called stockyards. in a stockyard, animals live in a fenced in area so small they can hardly even lay down. they trample each other, they stand in their own manure all day, and many of them eat corn and animal parts (instead of grass). they get diseases and are often given "antibiotics" to heal them. then, after their very short time on earth, they get slaughtered in ways that we don't like to think about and they end up in our local grocery store chains at a price we like to see. (SALE: T-Bone Steaks for just $3.99 a lb!)
We don't like to think about stockyards, yet we are the ones that have allowed it to happen. Without even realizing it. We hit up the drive-thru at McDonald's and want a tasty burger, at a good price. Oh, and we want it NOW. As a society, we demand two things: cheap prices and convenience. I don't think we meant to get this way, but it's been the natural progression - and to go backwards, wouldn't make sense. Some of us couldn't comprehend what it would be like to have to place an order for a pound of ground beef and pick it up at a farm 3 days later. That seems outrageous. Who would do that, right?
The answer is, a lot of people do that. We just don't hear about them, and it's a world most of us know nothing about. My husband and I knew very little about this world, until recently. About a month ago, we got Netflix, and we've been watching a lot of movies. We are big documentary geeks, and one of the first ones we watched (after some weird movie about a rock band called "Anvil" that never made it big) was FOOD INC. It blew both of us away. Out the door and down the street actually. It was a huge eye-opener.
the jist of the movie is simple. we, as a society, know very little about what we eat, where it came from and whether or not it's good for our body. It talks about how there is a handful of corporations that monopolize the entire food industry and how they have put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our environment. i think the reason i loved and hated this movie so much at the same time, was because i knew by seeing it, i had come to a turning point. i was in one of those places where to go on as normal, wouldn't be ok anymore - but - to make serious changes, would require effort and would be hard. however, here i was, and it was time to make a decision. good thing mark felt the same way. we had been introduced to a whole different perspective. this "organic/green/sustainable" stuff meant very little to us. we had heard about it from time to time, and we knew some people that were "into it" but we just didn't know enough to care or make any changes. after this movie, we both felt a similar conviction. we wanted to do what we "could do" to make a difference.
so, what does that look like for us, thus far? a few things. first, we have decided to limit our fast food consumption. it would be easy to say "oh, i will never eat fast food again." however, i know that isn't practical. i will. i know i will. BUT, i won't do it nearly as often. i didn't eat much fast food to begin with, but this whole conviction has really motivated me to cut it out of my life even more, if not altogether.
second, we've decided to start buying the majority of our groceries from a local co-op. it's crazy how you can discover several alternatives to eating healthy and making wise food choices when you actually LOOK for them. a co-op, in case you aren't familiar with the term, is basically a community owned grocery store that sells locally grown goods (produce, meat, dairy etc) and organic products. we have found that though some things are a little more expensive, the pricing is a lot more comparable than we thought it would be. it was hard at first, to fork over the big bucks for some beef and a 1/2 gallon of milk, but i got over it. i just had to remind myself that me choosing to do this, IS making a difference. it's supporting local farmers, it's supporting the environment, it's supporting the notion of raising animals in an ethical way, and it's supporting my own body by choosing to fill it with things that are more natural and healthy. if i still haven't convinced you, look at it this way. If you eat whatever you want now, you'll pay the consequences later with your health. If you pay a little more NOW for that carton of eggs or that gallon of milk, you might just live a long, healthy life and nip all those medical bills in the bud.
third, we are going to start buying meat and dairy from a local farm. our friend hope lien told us about a local farm that she buys milk from, and we thought we would give it shot. we haven't purchased through them yet, but we've studied their web site and we're more than excited to start working with them. i think it will be a great experience and it feels good to know you CAN cut out the middle man and do things old school if you want to. it's so great to know that we have options, and we can utilize them if we dig around and find them. i think all too often, i would walk into Rainbow or Cub and not even consider that i had a different option. i believed that there was no other choice. well, it's not true. there are other choices. you can stick it to the man - if you want to.
well, in conclusion, i hope if you actually read all of this you learned something from it. it took me three hours to say what i wanted to say and i feel like i only touched the surface!
i would encourage you to check out these films and web sites for more information.
Food Co-Ops in MPLS
Eastside (this is the one i shop at!)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I was then escorted to another room where Mark came to join me. They gave us the rundown, told me what to expect, where to pick up my prescription, the whole works. Should be a piece of cake, I thought. We walked to the car (I totally was able to walk myself) and I didn't even fall asleep on the way home. I was pretty "with it" and I was impressed that I wasn't reacting to the anesthesia more.
We got to Walgreens to pick up my Vicodin and as we were waiting in the parking lot, I suddenly felt very emotional. I started to bawl and Mark took me home. Neither of us knew why I was crying, he just knew I wanted to be at home.
Then - it began.
The WORST experience of my life (so far).
I ate some applesauce because it was all I could fit in my mouth. I wanted to eat enough to fill my stomach so I could begin taking my pain killers. I popped one in and I waited. Soon after, I was sleeping on the couch. A groggy haze came over me and I just needed to close my eyes. When I woke up, it was time to take another pill...so I ate a little bit more and took another. Shortly after, I was in the bathroom throwing up everything I had just ate. This continued, off and on, for the rest of the day. Any time I ate anything, it was only moments before I barfed it up. Sorry to be graphic, but it's true. And this was violent vomiting, if I can say that. I'm pretty sure I could have sprayed someone across the room it was so forceful. It was very sick.
I decided at this point that painkillers just weren't for me, and that I wouldn't be taking anymore. I started taking ibuprofen, crossing my fingers that it would be enough.
Day 2 went well. I could hardly feel the pain. My mom came and brought me lunch and we watched "17 again". Love that Zac Efron. He is my craddle-robber crush (though i think i'm only a year or two older than him). All was good. I was so happy. I couldn't believe how easy this was. I thought I was set.
I went to bed that night and woke up around 2 am. My mouth was throbbing. It was a pain like no other. You know when you haven't flossed in a REALLY long time, and then you get something stuck in your teeth, and you floss the crap out of it until it throbs and hurts? Ok, it was kind of like that, except a million times worse, and it was radiating throughout my entire face and up to my ears. I could hardly stand it. I obviously couldn't sleep through it so I woke up and started icing it. I didn't want to admit it at first, but I knew I was going to have to take another Vicodin, because this just wasn't going to work for me. After much contemplation, I ate a piece of bread, drank a huge glass of water, and popped another pill.
It took a while to kick in, and even when it did, it didn't work with the intensity that I felt it should have. It still hurt, but it was mangageable. I drifted to sleep off and on for the rest of the night.
The next THREE days I dealt with this. I would sleep from like 10 pm to 1 or 2 am and then be up the rest of the day. I was pretty sure I had a dry socket, BUT, because it was the weekend, I was kind of screwed. I called the dental office on Sunday morning because I just couldn't take it anymore. He told me that it was probably too early for me to actually have a dry socket (because it was only day 4) and that I should come in Monday morning and they would take a peek. Not what I wanted to hear. I wanted relief, man! I was so tired and so SICK of it. I had been laying on the same couch for four days now, staring at our fake Christmas tree, watching movies and catching up on episodes of "Glee." I needed a change of scenery if I was going to have to deal with this for one more day. Mark took me up to my parents, and just being there made me feel better. More people to talk to, a prettier Christmas tree to enjoy, a wonderful, loving dog named Chief to love me and cuddle with me. It was good.
There were a few times that night that I just started crying. I couldn't help it. It hurt SO bad I just wanted to knock myself out so I wouldn't have to deal with it. The painkillers + ibuprofen weren't working - and it was making me sick. On top of the pain, I was naseaus. It was terrible.
I woke up at 2:45, ready to be annoyed and "deal" once again. I was especially naseuas. I found that there is nothing good on television between the hours of 2 am and 5 am. There was nobody online to chat with. I had nothing to distract myself, and the time dragged by. My dog was confused why I was awake. I was clearly interrupting his pattern (and i probably took his bed on the couch!)
My mom finally woke up at 5 am and joined me. We got ready and drove down to the oral surgeon in St. Paul. We waited a few minutes, and were escorted into a room. I told them what was happening, they told me i DID have a dry socket and then they explained what they would do. To sum it up, he basically took a tiny piece of medicinal guaze and jammed it deep down into the socket. Imagine stabbing a sore in your mouth over and over. That's what it felt like. I clinched my fingers together as tight as I could. And that was that. 30 seconds later, it was in. It stung for about 5 minutes, and then it was INSTANT relief. I couldn't not believe it! I could not believe how much better it felt. In fact, it didn't even hurt anymore. It was insane.
So now it is Tuesday. I still haven't been able to sleep well because my mouth is pretty sore. It's yellow on my jaw line and will probably turn black and blue. Those teeth must have been in there pretty good. Tomorrow, I go back and they take out the guaze apparently. Not sure what that means, or what that feels like. I'm hoping it won't be too painful.
I have to say, I'm looking forward to eating things and not worrying about stuff getting caught in my teeth. I'm looking foward to opening my mouth big enough to take a big bite of something I like. I'm looking forward to eating something crunchy. I'm looking forward to sleeping through the night. I'm looking forward to not icing my face and constantly taking ibuprofen.
This has been an experience. And I know many of you have probably had similar experiences with your wisdom teeth, but I just wanted to share mine and leave you with this.
If you haven't had yours out, and they AREN'T hurting you, DON'T DO IT. I was talking to my Dad about this the other night, and he had a good point. He doesn't know anyone from his "generation" that had their wisdom teeth out. He never got his out, and he has had no problems. He thinks it's actually just a scam to make money. Ha. I'm starting to wonder if he could be right.
Your dentist might tell you that you NEED to get them out, but you really don't need to do it unless they cause problems for you. My dentist told me I needed to, but my teeth weren't hurting me. They were just sitting there, and had been sitting there for a while. SO, now that I look back, and think of how terrible it all was, I probably wouldn't have done it. Not until I really, actually had to.
So that is my pity party story. A lot of people have been asking how it went, or how I'm feeling and now I've answered all of that without having to open my mouth, which is nice - because it still hurts :)
Friday, November 20, 2009
i'm in a bible study with some ladies from my church/work, and we are reading the book "crazy love." NEVER, in my whole life, has a book kicked my butt so bad. i have been so challenged, so inspired, so humbled and so determined to make some SERIOUS changes because of this book.
i could go on and on and on about what has challenged me and humbled me, and maybe i will eventually, but i just don't have time to do it all right now.
we were discussing chapter 8 last night, and i could feel my blood boiling. not because of what anyone was saying, but because i have been struggling with accepting the "truths" that have been brought up in this book, especially in this chapter. at one point, Francis Chan (the author) uses Luke 6:32-36. It reads: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" lend to "sinners," expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
He follows it up by saying, "true faith is loving a person after he hurts you. True love makes you stand out." a few sentences later, he says "God commands that we give without expecting anything in return."
Out loud sigh. If i could even EXPRESS the anguish i've been feeling about all of this lately, i would. I think the best i can do is try. It's been such a battle for me. I think this is partly why. I grew up believing that you must work to get what you want in life. You have to work to pay your bills. You have to work to put food on the table, to clothe yourself, to get from here to there. There was no other way to accomplish any of these things, except to work.
And i'm going to get controversial here, but i've always had an issue with "lending a hand" to those that don't do anything for themselves. I'm sorry, but i said it. I have had a very hard heart, because in my mind, it doesn't make sense to me why i should go in debt to get a college education, and then work 40 hours a week, to give my money away to other people that don't even try. wow. sorry, bare with me. THAT is HONESTLY how i have felt much of my life. So, as i have been reading this book...i have been slapped back and forth. Because everything in this book is against that very thought pattern. And it has frustrated me and made me stay awake at night and made me cry and be upset with God. I've demanded reasoning from Him. "Why God? It doesn't even make sense. Why do i have to work and give my money away...the money that i have earned..."
I have been praying for God to soften my heart. And i have been praying for him to open my eyes. Last night...He did.
I won't go into much detail, but i will say this. God showed me two things. ONE, he doesn't owe me an answer. He demands that i be obedient, and if he tells me to give as he gives, i must do it. I don't get to challenge him on his reasoning, or wonder what the purpose is, i just MUST. SECOND, it's not even MY money. it's His. The only reason i get money is because he has equipped me with an ability to do a job, and he has given me the opportunity to have a job, and to make an "income." so, it's not my money to spend on whatever i see fit. it's ultimately his, and i need to loosen my grip on it and do things with it that would be pleasing to Him.
I can't tell you how crystal clear these two messages have been. I got home last night, looked at my closet, and decided i'm going to get rid of much of what i have and give it to people who actually NEED it. I also had a great discussion with my husband and we both decided that we are going to start being more generous with our money and help people who need it.
mark and i don't spend much money. we save most of it, after bills. we have school debt (lots of it) but that's it. we don't have a lot of toys, or nice things. we have enough to get by, and last night i think we decided that's good enough for both of us. i think growing up in a nice house with nice things, i had this idea in my head that i could never settle for less than that. when i first got married, i was scared of living in an old, icky house with spiders--because i thought that was all we would be able to afford. i was concerned about my comfort and i was upset that i would never make enough money to have nice things.
now i've realized, that might be true. but, you know what. nice things, are only temporary. you don't take them with you. when you die, they all stay right where they are. we all know that's true, but we don't live like that's true. i want to START living like that is true. i want to start living my life in a way that reflects my heart for God and the things that move Him.
i'm humbled. i'm thankful. i'm excited. i'm grateful. i'm feeling JOY again. a joy that i have not felt in a very long time.
Monday, September 21, 2009
the second thing, the interesting thing, that energizes me, is deep conversations with people that i care about. apart from nature and God himself, there is nothing better than coffee and a friend, or even an hour long phone conversation with someone you love. it's weird that this would energize me i've decided...but i don't mind. i enjoy the way i feel after speaking with someone at length.
sometimes the conversations are difficult, hard even...but i always learn and grow from them. sometimes, honesty brings me to new places in a relationship. i've learned that even though honesty can really be painful and sting for a bit, it always feels better to just get it on the table. why live life stewing about things? why be upset, hold on to hard feelings, and waste time on the bitter past? no more. i don't have time for that crap. it's time to blow the gates wide open and clean some house.
i have a few things to clean up. i intend to do it sooner than later. if you're not right with me, expect my knocking on your door. if i knock, it means i care about you and i want our relationship to work. if i've hurt you, i'm sorry. i'm not perfect and i'm trying to be a better friend and person. if you have suggestions for how i can be a better person and a better friend, i'm all ears. i can take constructive criticism, and i actually appreciate it. i am a believer in the fact that you can only change what you are aware of. there might be some things i don't even see that need some improvement. don't be afraid to let me know.
this probably sounds crazy and random and weird, but i'm serious. comfortable jackie doesn't want to be comfortable anymore. God has reminded me, once again, that life is about so much more than being comfortable. it's about being real. facing into things you don't want to. being a better person. living a better life. bringing others to a saving relationship with Christ.
are you with me?
do you want to stop being comfy, stop stuffing things, and start being honest with yourself and with others?
i was talking to a friend tonight who said we all just need to love each other more. She figured the world would be a better place if we did that. i think she's right.
let's do it together. i think it could be good.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
or at least we think it's safety. we don't realize until we find ourselves in tears at the end of the road that we really aren't safe at all. we are drowning, neck deep in secrets. neck deep in hurt. neck deep in confusion, wishing someone could throw us a rope.
but nobody knows we need help. nobody knows our secrets. nobody is there, because we've pushed them away or kept them at arm's length. and then what?
we hit a breaking point. we cry out "help me! this is ME, being real. i am not who you think. i am not ok. i need help. i need an ear to listen. i need a hug to warm me. i need a friend. please."
we admit that we need others in our lives. we admit that we can't do life alone. it scares us because we're not use to pulling others into our world. that is a door we've never let anyone else walk through. it leaves us feeling uneasy, uncertain...we wonder what these people will think...what they will say...what they will do.
but then we remember that at least...we're not alone.
at least someone now knows our secrets, and there is security in accountability.
i've learned recently that i need to do a better job at letting people into my life and allowing myself to be loved. it's hard for me to trust people, but i'm getting better. i think God has brought some really amazing people into my life that he is going to use to break my shell. i think it could be good. i think he is going to begin to heal my heart and show me what it means to truly live.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
i once had this vision, of something i wanted to do.
i can still see it, but it's off in the distance now. sometimes i think i can just reach out and grab it, but then God reminds me why i am where i am today. he still needs to teach me things. he needs me to be where i am, doing what i'm doing, so i can be prepared for the future he has in store. i didn't believe it at first, but lately, it seems to make sense.
this is for my friends, who want to light the fire...
we are a plagued people. we have dirtied and distorted everything God has given us. we can barely see the beauty in anything anymore. we have to peel back several layers to find anything authentic. we are insecure and discontent. we need more, want more and wish we were anything but ourselves. the gift of life has become a curse and a burden. we don't appreciate anything. we dwell and can't wait for 'whatever it is' to be over. many of us live everyday as part of pattern. rhythm is comfortable, and all that is known. we accept what our traditions have brought us, and play our part, one generation at a time. we look around and we know that the times have changed. everything is getting worse, but that's just the natural progression. 'nothing can be done' we say. so we continue to accept our current circumstances. we wait for someone else to change things, or we convince ourselves that Jesus is coming back soon.
he's not here yet. and though he is indeed coming, the time isn't today. he wants us to make good use of our time here. he wants us to do what we can to bring people to him. he wants us to stop waiting, and start living. he did not create us to sit back and remain indifferent. he also did not create sin, but it happened. and it's a powerful force in our world today. though we are sinners, we also have the power and the strength of a mighty God to help us overcome whatever we come up against.
so we must be brave enough to face the harsh realities before us. we must fill our minds with truth and ask God for the strength to carry on. we must educate those that need to hear truth. we need to bring forth change.
we need to be willing to let God lead. it's scary to let go, but it's neccessary to see God really work. it's a beautiful thing when we trust him. i believe he smiles and takes our hand. imagine what he could do through each and every one of us if we just asked him to work?
why sit back and wonder?
and be silent.
listen to what he's laying upon your heart.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
this isn't a history lesson, but can you believe that our country has only been free for 233 years? that doesn't seem like THAT long ago.
i mostly wanted to write on the subject to express my thanks and gratitude for the freedom we get to experience in our country. i don't want to ruffle any feathers, but i think all too often, we as a society can get too wrapped up in things going on around us, and forget just how lucky we are.
we argue and fight about policies, about war, about political candidates and our health care system--which sure, are all valid things to have an opinion about--but i think sometimes we focus so much on these things, we allow ourselves to get disappointed in the country that has also given us so much freedom and opportunity to enjoy life and make something of it.
i use to say to people, "if you're really so unhappy here and hate the way everything is done, why don't you just leave? why not go to the middle east, central america, or asia? do you really think it would be better there?"
people all over the world are living in poverty that we can't comprehend. i know that we have poverty in our own country too, but it doesn't touch the surface of what exists beyond the US. and our government that we hate and complain about so often...? i can guarantee you that if you were living under a dictatorship, forced to live in a communistic society, you wouldn't be thinking our democratic style of doing things is so bad. think about the women in the middle east that virtually have no freedom. the christians all over the world that are tortured and killed because they want to believe in God. the sick and hurting that have no chance because everyone around them IS sick, and hurting, and that's how their government, or lack of a government wants it.
compared to the rest of the world, we have it pretty good. NO, things aren't perfect. there is a lot of stuff going on here that could bring tears to our eyes, and it does. it's not right, and it's not fair. i personally think we've taken our freedom to far, filling our lives with so many things that are not important, only distracting us from the the things that really matter in life. but that's another topic.
but, all in all, i'm grateful and happy that i live here, in the united states of america.
i have the freedom to worship a God that I love. i have the opportunity to develop a skill set that God has given me, and work. i have the privilege of an income, that can not only pay my bills, but bless others as well. i can wear what i want, live as i want and believe what i want. there are actually, very few things that i cannot do. it's really a matter of doing my best to choose the right things to do and live by, and using caution with the rest.
so, with that being said. enjoy today. enjoy the fact that you CAN enjoy today. enjoy your family, your friends, your freedom.
we are blessed.