Tag Archives: food!

Tomato Thankful

  • This bright red tomato just picked from our garden. On the last day of April??? (I can’t get over the weirdness of this. I know I may be from Texas, but Amarillo and Austin are 500 miles away from each other. That equals two very different climates. See here and here if you want to be nerdy about it. And after being a grown-up on the East coast, the idea of April being anything but ground-smushy and 60 degrees is still crazy to me. So, fresh tomatoes from the garden in the middle of “spring”? Strange and kind of wonderful.)
  • A new camera other than my lame-o phone camera! (Hence the photo above.) My kids will finally have their lives documented!
  • A friend-date last night with Andrea
  • A lovely weekend with my brother and sister-in-law…having them around, especially while Chris was out of town for the weekend, was such a gift. By Sunday lunch, Brooksie was crying when Jason left the table for the bathroom. (And calling “Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma” after him. Should I be offended?) Also, they left me a surprise thank you note and a bar of dark chocolate, which is the best way to ensure that I’ll always be their friend.
  • That my husband got to spend a whole weekend with his best guy friends from the east coast. That he loves his friends as much as he does and for how he inspires me to love mine well.
  • Brooksie’s newest word: “Eh-a,” which is baby speak for “Ezra the Super Cat.”
  • August’s sudden lovey feelings for our next-door neighbor. When she wasn’t around to play with us on Saturday and I suggested we walk to the park, he countered: “But, there aren’t any cute girls at the park!” Seriously? Where did he learn about cute girls?
  • The book, Psalms for Young Children that I discovered at the Eerdmans table at the Festival of Faith and Writing. The pictures are beautiful and the Psalms are true to form: there are sad ones and happy ones, and I’m amazed by how much August is connecting with the laments. More to come about my thoughts on why I believe we should be exposing our kids to both kinds of Psalms.
  • That my very sleepy almost-four-year-old fell asleep in my arms half dressed in his pajamas at 7:45 on Saturday night. I sang to him and smelled his clean hair and promised my heart that I wouldn’t forget what a gift it was to rock my big baby to sleep. Then I tried to stand up with his 36 pounds in my arms and lift him up to his lofted bed. It was hard work. Aren’t all beautiful things a little bit difficult?
  • The countdown to summertime has begun! Did you know I love summer for a gazillion reasons? After my two non-summers in San Francisco, I’m so thrilled to experience all the heat and ice cream and mosquito bites and sprinkler playing and sunscreen lathering and hamburger grilling with my boys.
  • Can I brag about my husband for a second? (You’re thinking: Isn’t that all you do on Thankful Tuesday?) After I came home from the Festival of Faith and Writing all rejuvenated and excited to write, he decided that I should have a whole day away every month, where I can go somewhere to write and meet friends for lunch and generally do whatever I want to do. That idea sounds kind of awesome, right? I’m thankful for a husband who is always thinking of ways to care for me.
  • For sundresses and iced coffees and sunsets and bubbles and baby pools
  • For popsicle makers and my dad’s birthday and my the chance to make up stories in the car on the way to all the places and watching August become himself and learning who that is. For the insight that he, “likes to watch soccer, not play it.” It’s good to learn about this person who is learning about himself.

It’s Thankful Tuesday. What are you thankful for?

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Dishes and Litany and all that Beauty

keepcalmgallery.com via Pinterest

I live in the litany of the putting away. The clean dishes go onto shelves, forks and knives and cups and bowls. And the boys are waiting for their food, always waiting for food. I move from fridge to stove to sink to table, little circles.

Sometimes it’s morning. I listen to the news in my pajamas. Oatmeal for one child. Cereal for another. I’m slicing an apple. I’m pouring a cup of milk. I’m cleaning up a spill. I’m reminding Brooksie that “our food does not go on the floor, little babes.” I’m sipping coffee as I move around that room. I’m not frantic. But I know what needs to get done and my gut is begging me to feed it as well. Take bites. My mom always stood during breakfast too.

Sometimes it’s lunch and the quesadilla has two sides: one swiped with spinach puree for the baby who doesn’t notice green things yet. One plain for the boy who notices everything. “What vegetable would you like today?” I’m saying. He’d like to just once get away with no vegetable. Not in my kitchen! My head sings. And, it’s true: I own this room.

Later, during naptime, there are dishes to wash and floors to sweep and counters to wipe or, possibly, to be left till later. Because, seriously, I need to get on Twitter.

And dinner, and after dinner: All those dishes. All those pans. When we were first married and living on my tiny fellowship in grad school, freezing in Syracuse winter with our heat set to 62, Chris and I stood together in the kitchen washing pans and drying them, washing plates and drying them. That next apartment in Philly had a dishwasher. It was a slice of glory. We filled it with wonder in our eyes. How easily I can forget that.

The other day, I was putting away a glass bowl: the kind that has held salad and cookie dough, a baking soda volcano and playdough mix and I thought: This is it. This is my life.

Granted, sometimes I can have that thought in the kind of way that leads me to cry in my pillow and take a long bath and rewatch the saddest scene in Little Women (you guys know what I’m talking about). But, sometimes, I have that thought and the light shines in through the window and the bowl sparkles and I think: Thank you, bowl, for the volcano and the endless supply of salads. Thank you for the chocolate pudding August and I made in our second apartment in San Francisco and the way he couldn’t quite pronounce “choquate” then. Thank you for the endless circles I’ve scrubbed around you in every home Chris and I have shared for almost eight years. Thank you for the putting away and the getting out and the hope that I can always clean you.

And in those moments when the bowl is good and the litany is good, I realize that my life is this in its most simplest form: these circles I’m moving in around the kitchen and around my day–from breakfast to play time to errands to the kitchen to nap time and writing time and play time and the sun shining down on us outside and back to the kitchen and food and my husband being home and the boys wrestling in the living room and bathing the boys and clean shiny skin and combing their wet hair down and pajamas and teeth brushed and stories read and bodies tucked in and moments with my husband on the couch and our own books and bedtime. And we do it over and over and over. And this is the shocker: That circle is good.

Because this is what I’m realizing: every night as I lay my baby down in his crib and sing the words, “I know that moons rise and time flies and sweet little boys get older…” I see him changing. Some moments I can stop the circling long enough to notice: the way he’s smiling today, the joke he’s trying to play on me, the love he’s inheriting for books. And when I notice, that’s when I remember to pray.

It’s always about paying attention, I was thinking yesterday afternoon, stacking plates on top of one another, hoping not to wake the light-sleeping baby whose room shares a wall with the dishes. And that makes the circle more of a spiral, doesn’t it? We’re always circling, yes. But it turns out in all this doing and putting away and creating and consuming, we’ve been spiraling toward something all along.

And that spiral leads toward a glorious center, the place where God is making all the plain things beautiful and all the sad things untrue.

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{Practicing Benedict} A post about monks and errands and eating

“Any who are sent on an errand which will allow them to return to the monastery on the same day must not eat outside, in spite of pressing invitations whatever their source, unless the superior has approved this..” (The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 51)

Oh, the errands! There are the errands and the falling asleep babies and the boy who wants to walk beside the cart even though you think of a million reasons to convince him that the cart is so much cooler. Oh, to contain him! Especially in Target, where he knows the location of every possible Cars 2 toy and has touched every button on them four times in the past five minutes. How many times can you say, “Wow, you love that? Well, maybe you can save your quarters for it.”
Errands: What can you manage to accomplish? How many stops in the process before the children combust? No more than two, I’ve found. More than two and someone is screaming; one of the three of us is screaming.

And then there are the errands alone. Of course, these are the rare beauties. The Sunday afternoon when all are asleep, even your husband, and you sneak off to look for a gift for a friend and you walk slow and finger the fabric of scarves and sigh at the shoes and whisper at all the shiny.

We are busy people. We have tasks to accomplish. So much of life feels like one errand after another, especially as so much of life takes place inside the happy glowing screens we stare at all day. We’re buying clothes, working, managing the home, wasting time, all on the same device. And busyness, the act of “errand” running, often feels like all we’re good for.

But home is not found in the errands, the tasks, the checks on a list. Our lives are not found in our accomplishments. Each shop and store is a pause and then we return to what is real. What a funny rule Benedict mentions for his monks. He commands them to only eat with one another, as if eating is so holy that to break bread outside of the monastery is to cheat on the family in some way. Is it possible that Benedictine monks make vows to community and stability, even in how they eat their food?

We all know meals matter. We know that studies show that kids who eat dinner regularly with their families are happier, more successful in school, more well-rounded. We know that every culture celebrates around food. It’s not a birthday without a birthday cake. It’s not Thanksgiving without a turkey.

When I was growing up, my mom had a rule that stunned (and frustrated, sometimes) every other family we knew. She fed us breakfast as a family. At 7 am, no matter when we woke up, we were expected to have clothes on (though, sometimes my brothers weren’t yet wearing shirts) and be sitting in our seats for breakfast. My mom was (and still is) a teacher. She had to be out the door at 7:30, but she always set something out on the table for us, whether that was boxes of cereal and bowls or canned biscuits out of the oven. But what mattered was the community of the morning. We were together. We talked. We knew what each of us was dreading that day. (Though I was probably crying about that day’s math quiz and, therefore, couldn’t pay attention to anyone else’s daily dreads.)

What I’m trying to say is this: You eat with your family. And when you eat with them, you know them. Community is always sealed with food. Culture is always best expressed in what is shared. And food never comes out of the ground in individual packaging. Heads of lettuce were made to be chopped into sharable salads. The meat of an animal always feeds more than one. Pies are made to be sliced into pieces and distributed.

So, yes, there are errands. We are a busy people. St. Benedict would not know what to do with the mess we’ve made of living in this culture (taking a life that should be whole and chopping it into a spreadsheet of action points and check lists). But we are counter-cultural people when we stop to eat with our community. When we appreciate the beauty of food, when we slice it and smell it and taste it, when we call the family to the table and tell stories about our day and how we feel and what matters, when we share food and look in each other’s eyes, then we are living community.

Yes, we leave the monastery and run the errands but we always come home for dinner. And when we come home for dinner, we practice the discipline of simplicity: eating, caring for one another, listening, sharing what we own and what we’ve been given.

Eating is very monkish.

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Simplicity: Meat and Spiritual Practice

I spent yesterday morning rinsing, drying, salting and peppering two chickens. One was for a friend who has just had a baby girl and one was for my little family of eaters. I handled those chickens with love, patting them sweetly with salt all over my hands while Brooksie napped and August played astronaut nearby. I held the little bird and thanked God for his (or her!) life and the reality that its sacrifice will nourish my family. And then I listened to it crackle in the oven and the scent of roasted chicken filled the house. It was lovely.

It was especially lovely because I have not cooked meat in my home in a long time.

If you know me well, you might gasp at the horror of such a statement. What? Micha stopped eating meat! Hush, hush, little bird, it’s okay. I still eat meat. I grew up in Amarillo, Texas. My childhood staples were barbeque and burritos. I have always loved my meat and eaten heartily.

Two things have changed in me. And they happened around the same time. I began to feel convicted about the treatment of animals. Now, I don’t mean that I don’t think people should eat animals. (I have no problem with the use of animals as a food source.) What I have a problem with is chickens stacked on top of each other in disgusting conditions, never seeing the light of day. I have a problem with chemically zapping cattle into meat monsters and force feeding them corn instead of grass for our own sake, for our wallets. What I’m trying to say is that while I don’t know much about agriculture or ranching whatsoever, I do know about conviction. And there’s something in me that says it’s wrong to mistreat an animal, especially one that is giving its life for my own sustenance.

So, as I began thinking about that and wanting to make a change, I found it was difficult to afford organic grass-fed or free range meat. I was struggling between meeting our budget and adhering to my newly forming conviction.

Around that time, we became friends with a couple in San Francisco who we really admired for their commitment to simplicity. I had been studying St. Benedict for a year or so and had begun to think about what it might look like to simplify our lives for the sake of Jesus: our closets, our use of money, etc. But I had never once considered food consumption as a way to simplify. They were over for dinner one night, eating one of Chris’ perfectly done (crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside…so good) pork loins and it came out that they never eat meat at home. We were perplexed. Oh no! Are you vegetarians and here we are force-feeding you this oh so wonderful pork loin??? No, that wasn’t it. They had stopped eating meat at home as a spiritual practice, a way to live gratefully, a way to appreciate meat when it came their way, but not to demand it or expect it.

I’ve never gotten their commitment out of my mind, mostly because I really respect them. For a short time in my childhood, my mom committed one dinner a week to a simple meal of rice. It was a chance for her to teach us about missions, for us to experience what life is like for a majority of world, for whom food does not come easily, for whom meat is a luxury.

I kept coming back to that childhood experience, thinking about what it means that meat is a luxury for most of the world, that there are other ways to get protein, that I was buying meat I felt uncomfortable with because I couldn’t afford to spend more. After we began to think about what we could do to practice simplicity in our lives, meat seemed like such an obvious choice.

So, we’ve decided to simplify our week day meals (the ones I’m in charge of). We’ve switched to wraps and salads, eggs and tofu and beans. On the weekends, Chris is our chef and he can makes us whatever deliciously meaty thing he wants.

I’m loving it. Here’s why: Yesterday that chicken smelled so wonderful. Yesterday, the flesh in my hands was a real creature I could be grateful for and I actually remembered to be grateful. Yesterday, I was reminded that in a culture that allows me to have anything I think I can afford to own or consume, it’s good for my soul to wait, to live simply most days so I can feast some days.

So I can hear the chicken crackling in the oven. So I can notice.

 

What does the practice of simplicity look like in your home?

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Thanksgiving in their words:

"Country Home" by suziebeezie (Pinterest via Andrea Duffy)

 

“It is impossible to give thanks and simultaneously feel fear.”

-Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

 

 

“[The] dinner party is a true proclamation of the abundance of being–a rebuke to the thrifty little idolatries by which we lose sight of the lavish hand that made us. It is precisely because no one needs soup, fish, meat, salad, cheese, and dessert at one meal that we so badly need to sit down to them from time to time. It was largesse that made us all; we were not created to fast forever. The unnecessary is the the taproot of our being and the last key to the door of delight. Enter here, therefore, as a sovereign remedy for the narrowness of our minds and the stinginess of our souls, the formal dinner…the true convivium–the long Session that brings us nearly home.”

-Robert Farrar Capon The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection

 

 

“What will our final perspective be on all these hours? The hours of work, the hours of wealth, the idle hours, the hours of failure and self-doubt? Who stands up and divests themselves of this body of work? Who lets go of all these accomplishments, these so-called failures? Do we look back on the wealth acquired from the acquisition, the poems published and admired, the house built and sold, the land farmed and productive, or do we see the drama of the acquisition, the beauty in the act of writing itself, the happiness the house can contain, the love of the land and the sky that nourished it?…

It is the hidden in our work that always holds the treasure. A life dedicated to the goodness in work is a life making visible all the rich invisible seams of existence hidden from others. Good work is a grateful surprise.”

-David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

 

“Thanks be to Thee, Jesu Christ,
For the many gifts Thou has bestowed on me,
Each day and night, each sea and land,
Each weather fair, each calm, each wild.

I am giving Thee worship with my whole life,
I am giving Thee assent with my whole power,
I am giving Thee praise with my whole tongue,
I am giving Thee honour with my whole utterance.

I am giving Thee reverence with my whole understanding,
I am giving Thee offering with my whole thought,
I am giving Thee praise with my whole fervour,
I am giving Thee humility in the blood of the Lamb.

I am giving Thee love with my whole devotion,
I am giving Thee kneeling with my whole desire,
I am giving Thee love with my whole heart,
I am giving Thee affection with my whole sense;
I am giving Thee existence with my whole mind,
I am giving Thee my soul, O God of all gods.”

-taken from the Carmina Gadelica,, found in The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious imagination, by Esther De Waal

 

“You have survived the winter because you are, and were, and always will be very much loved,” said the sun. “For that small place deep within you that remained unfrozen and open to mystery, that is where I have made my dwelling. And long, long before you felt my warmth surrounding you, you were bing freed and formed from within in ways so deep and profound that you could not possibly know what was happening.”

-Mary Fahy, The Tree that Survived the Winter

  

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
‘His love has not end.’

Psalm 118, as translated in The Benedictine Handbook

 

 

Scrolls

by Brooks Haxton

So will I compass thine altar, O Lord: That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving. (Psalm 26)

Thine altar is to me this bathtub
where my four-year-old twin
girls tip back their heads.
They close their eyes.
I read their faces from above,
in trust and fear, in holiness,
heads tipped until the waterline
has touched their hairlines, cautious.
Look: their hair flows underwater
like the scrolls unfurled in heaven.

from Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms by Brooks Haxton

 

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m off to enjoy mine. See you on Thankful Tuesday!
(Emphasis mine…where in bold)

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A day to be thankful in a month full of grateful.

August cheering after a successful rock skip by Tomales Bay

After a week where I actually recorded all my grateful thoughts in a journal and now have apparently lost that journal. But, does that mean I’ve lost my Grateful?! By all means, no!!!

That’s why I will tell you about my sweet past week (in 7 thankfuls).

  1. Brooks laughed for the first time last Thursday night. It may or may not have been while I was singing “MmmmBop!” to him. Don’t judge me. What was sweetest about it was that we were all in August’s room together. Chris and August were wrestling on the bed and I was changing Brooksie. I loved seeing how excited August was for his brother’s laugh. He is really falling in love.
  2. I can’t get enough of this city. Every sound, every person on the street. It’s all precious and temporary and in need of being savored. Last Friday night was Chris’ good-bye party with his work friends from his old job. We went to his favorite bar in North Beach, our old neighborhood. Then, he and I walked down the street to Golden Boy where we used to grab pizza slices almost every week when we lived there. And we topped off the night by walking past our old apartment and up to Coit Tower. We ate our pizza there and stared at this city. It was a lovely goodbye.
  3. Yesterday was Chris’ birthday. All he wanted to do this past weekend was drive out of town up to Tomales Bay and eat ourselves silly with oysters. The 4 of us joined 5 friends by the water. Then we found some dessert and a grassy spot and lay in the sun. I’m grateful for friends, sunshine and the ridiculous goodness of San Francisco (and Bay area) food. I will never recover from how well I’ve eaten in this city.
  4. Yesterday August and I worked to surprise Chris with a homemade birthday cake. August tried really hard to spread the frosting and not just eat it and he was giddy to show it to Chris when he got home. I love that August is at the age when he can learn to love and serve his family. And I love how fun it is to see him learning how to celebrate. (A very important skill, if you ask me.)
  5. This past week, I have felt so challenged by the study on calling that I’m doing with my Bible study as well as the book I’m reading, The Missional Mom. After a season of feeling frustrated that my life doesn’t seem to allow for missional living, I’m feeling God challenge that notion in me. I’m excited to see where it goes.
  6. Yesterday, after picking August up at Vacation Bible School I drove past the most phenomenal view of the city. And I thought: I can’t believe we actually lived here once. I’m so thankful that God loves San Francisco and we got to experience that love for a while.
  7. It’s June and I can’t be thankful in June without remembering all the sweet things that were born in this month: my husband, my oldest boy, and my marriage…all of whom I will be celebrating over the next 10 days.

What are your 7 grateful things?

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Thankful Tuesday: Moby wraps, pancakes, and baby dimples

  • Let’s start with this: There are some seasons in a marriage where you feel more like a team than you ever have, where you know what to say to each other in the sweetest and most painful moments, where you laugh big, hearty, hysterical laughs at each other. I’m thankful that Chris and I are in that season. And I’m thankful that Sunday night during my Bible study, Chris yelled over and over for me from our bedroom. I left my friends in the living room and found him on the bed, lying on his back, Brooksie on top of him and a tablespoon of spit up floating in Chris’ neck hallow. It was gross. It was awesome!
  • Have I ever said how great Diapers.com is? It is the best. And I’m thankful that I can order online when I have three diapers left and get a box the next day, just in time! (No, they didn’t pay me to say that.)
  • I’m thankful for my handmade (by my sister in law) “moby” wrap and the fact that Brooks spends his entire life in it.

    In my wrap with August in 2008

    For the first time a few days ago, I nursed and cooked dinner at the same time with him in that wrap. I am woman!

  • Two of my sweet friends came over Saturday morning to babysit the boys so Chris and I could go out and find me some cute post-pregnancy outfits. I’m thankful for 1) dear friends who make August pancakes and panic because he’s eaten 10, yes 10. (He loves his pancakes.) And 2) the blessing of being able to buy new clothes that I feel cute in.
  • After 4 months of potty training, my little boy is finally willing to sit on a real toilet! This is a monumental step for this kid. Now, onto getting him to sit on any other toilet in the world.
  • Yesterday, a friend asked me if I knew how to cook and eat an artichoke before moving to California, and I said: “Of course!” Then I felt grateful for my mother in law who has taught me how to cook and eat a lot of stuff, especially artichokes. (PS Did you know they’re amazing roasted? True fact.)
  • Smiling babies. Specifically, my smiling baby and his dimple in his right cheek. I can’t get enough.

It’s Thankful Tuesday! What are you thankful for???

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