I don’t like it when people talk publicly yet cryptically about things. But I’m about to do just that. It’s weighing on my heart, and I need to write about it, but I simply can’t share details. But rest assured, I am fine, my family is fine.
I’m sure everyone knows the feeling, though. No one gets far in this life without it happening at some point. You know the one. The feeling that all of the air has been suddenly vacuumed from the room. The feeling the person standing in front of you, telling you this news, isn’t really there, and this can’t possibly be reality. But it is. And there is no air. And what the person is saying can’t be true. But it is.
You know the moment.
You know the punched-in-the-gut feeling.
And there’s nothing you can do to make it better or even to make it suck a little bit less. There is nothing you can do. You are helpless and scared and there is a huge load of bricks on top of your heart. And hope seems like some fairy tale idea that doesn’t apply to this situation. And then things keep compounding, and you’re swimming in bad news, and there are so many crappy things happening all around you, and you can’t do anything about any of them.
So what do you do with that? What do you do when there is nothing you can do to fix it, and prayer seems ineffective and intangible, and it feels like God is too busy with other things to do anything about this thing?
You hang onto hope, I guess. Even when it feels like it’s barely there–it’s just a tiny flicker that could be whiffed out any second. Because hope never stops at all…
Another year over, and what have we done?
Well, I’ll tell you!
We rang in 2012 over Little Caesar’s and a game of dominoes at our friends’ house.
The first week of the year, I met with our pastor to discuss a job opportunity! I knew my job at the Jackson Citizen Patriot would end January 31, and I hadn’t found anything else yet, so I was pretty excited about the meeting.
Dave offered me a part-time position as his editorial assistant, and I joyfully accepted without a second thought! Before he knew anything about my situation at the Citizen Patriot, he asked me to start February 1. Sometimes God really outdoes himself to amaze me.
It’s been a wonderful year working at Westwinds. I couldn’t have imagined a better job, better boss, better co-workers if I tried. I absolutely love it and feel extremely grateful and blessed every single day.
I’ve also continued to babysit the sweet toddler daughter of our friends, Caleb and Amanda. This little girl is full of wonder, joy, love, and sweetness. She always brings a smile to my face and perspective to my week. She blesses my life in so many ways.
Sid continues to work at Allegiance Health as Senior PC Technician, where he is blessed to call many co-workers friends.
Winter and spring passed quietly, as I settled into my new position, and we spent our time mainly around Jackson.
At the beginning of May, I ran a 5K at the Holland Tulip Time Festival with my friends, Amy and Kimmee. It was a lot of fun and hard work, and we were so glad when it was over!
My friend, Renee, and I started a small group (satellite) at church for writers this year. We are still finding our way, but have had many great conversations, met some fantastic people, and encouraged each other to keep writing.
At the end of May, Sid had a birthday, and my Aunt Terry passed away the same day. She was an amazing woman and is greatly missed.
On June 18, Sid and I celebrated our seventh anniversary with a weekend trip to our favorite Michigan beach town, South Haven. It was probably the most fun anniversary celebration we’ve had so far, and we concluded that since seven is the number of perfection in the Bible, it must mean our marriage has now become perfect.
June ended with a wonderful visit with out of town friends, a weekend of folk music all around Jackson, and the wedding of beautiful Breyona to her awesome Aaron!
At the end of August, Sid and I packed up our old Grand Prix and our dog and went on vacation to the Keweenaw Peninsula! That’s the northernmost part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’ve wanted to visit for years, but it is over 500 miles away, even though it’s in the same state, and it just never happened until this summer.
We LOVED it there. For more on that adventure, look here.
This fall has been busy and good. I’ve been busy at work with a HUGE project–The Revelation of June Paul.Sid has done his fair share of work on this project as well, editing video, setting up equipment, caving, etc. It has been exciting and fun and rewarding and lots and lots and lots of work. It’s so cool to be a part of something like this, though. Something bigger than me, something crafted by writers and artists and designers, and something that makes a difference in the lives of real people. It’s a live storytelling event, to be performed in several locations around southern Michigan in January. But ALL the proceeds will be given to organizations that fight human trafficking. Human beings should never be treated like a commodity to be bought and sold and used. This stuff matters. And I love that, at Westwinds, we can take our creativity and our art and turn it into something that not only glorifies God, but also does something to heal this world.
So if you’re in southern MI in January, why not come on out to one of the shows and see what all this talk is about? I plan on being at every show, so BONUS! You get to see me. Info. is at the link in the above paragraph.
It’s hard to believe 2012 is coming to a close. Hard to believe we’re well into the second decade of the 21st century! Sid and I hope and pray that you have been able to experience peace and joy this year, whatever that may look like in your life. We hope that, no matter what 2012 brought, you can look forward to a new year of hope and promise with us.
Happy New Year.
I’m really not sure what to write about this morning, but I want to write. I’m trying very hard to maintain the practice of blogging 2-3 times a week, but I have to admit there are weeks when sitting down to write something is the last thing on my mind or that I want to do.
But then I lose the discipline of writing, don’t I? It’s so difficult to make writing a discipline. Anyone who has ever felt the urge to write something will agree, I’m sure. We want to feel inspired. We want to sit down and have the words flow magically and beautifully without any real effort on our part.
That’s now how it works. That’s not really how anything works. Notice the key word here–work. It’s work. It’s discipline and practice and practice and discipline. Nobody writes a perfect first draft. Heck, nobody writes an OK first draft. There is a chapter in Anne Lamott’s book on writing, Bird by Bird, called “Sh*tty First Drafts.”
Seriously. First drafts are never ever good. Not even for the most talented genius writers out there. I love Anne Lamott. Adore her. Think her writing is some of the most beautiful word-crafting I’ve ever read in my life. But does her work start out that way? Nope.
Um, speaking of Anne Lamott, guess who has the opportunity to hear her speak this week? Yup, this girl!
On Thursday and Friday, I’ll be going to Story Chicago (or http://story2012.eventbrite.com/ to see the list of speakers) for the first time, and I am SO EXCITED! I’m going with some friends, and we have the totally awesome opportunity to be volunteers for the conference. Not only is Anne Lamott going to be there, but also Rachel Held Evans, Bob Goff, and loads of other really awesome and incredible people. Those three just happen to be people whose books I have read fairly recently and LOVE.
Alright, I don’t really have much of anything else to talk about today, so I’ll leave you with a plug for our new series at church! We’re going to be talking about good news for the next 10-12 weeks in a series titled What’s The Good News? We’ll be looking for the good news for the broken-hearted, the lost, the wealthy, the poor, the young, the old, the disenfranchised, the discouraged. For this series, we’re encouraging people to take photos on their phones with Instagram and post them with the hashtag #whatsthegoodnews. This will send the pics here, where you can comment and view all the photos people have been posting. Point out the good news you see in the pictures. If you don’t see any good news, offer some.
Well, it’s still zucchini time. I have 6 cups of shredded zucchini in the freezer, two medium zucchinis on my kitchen counter, and at least 5 or 6 more growing in the garden.
With the continuing zucchini abundance, I decided to try another new recipe using this moisture-packed and versatile summer squash.
The official recipe title on the site where I found it is Extremely Health Fiber Packed Zucchini Carrot Cranberry Bars.
That’s a tad wordy. How about we just call them zucchini bars? OK? OK.
Here’s the recipe (found here):
I think whoever wrote this recipe really liked to over-explain. Oh well.
I made my usual substitutions and changes. I used egg whites, Ideal brown and granulated sugar substitutes, canola oil. I also didn’t have any dried cranberries or even raisins, so I actually went a tad bit less healthy and used chocolate chips instead. I also didn’t have any nuts to add. And I completely forgot to add the peanut butter. Bummer! I guess I’ll have to make them again to find out what they taste like with the peanut buttery goodness.
Yummy yummy! These have been a delicious breakfast for me for the past week.
I also decided to cook up some zucchini to go with dinner the other night. Sid is in the midst of a Phase 1 diet reset right now (no carbs), so I needed to figure out a way to cook it that would be carb-free and still tasty.
I sliced up one zucchini, then I mixed up some parmesan cheese and Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning in a bowl. Then I put a couple egg whites in another bowl for dipping. I used this as breading and then fried the pieces lightly in olive oil.
Easy and tasty!
Sid and I just returned from our vacation to the Keweenaw Peninsula in northern Michigan, and now it’s time for life to kick back into high gear as we head into fall! Which means I’ll be resuming my regular blogging starting now. Aren’t you so very excited?
I’m not a teacher, nor am I a student, nor do I have school-age children, but I’m still feeling that school year buzz as summer winds down. Maybe it’s partly because of the timing of our vacation- we came back just in time for Labor Day weekend, so it really feels like we had a summer vacation, and now it’s time to get back down to business. Or maybe it’s partly because I babysit for the sweetest little toddler ever during the school year. Man, have I missed that little girl over the summer! Or maybe it’s partly because of all the buzz around me about the school year starting up.
So, who wants to hear about what I did on my summer vacation?
Being lifetime Michigan residents, Sid and I had still never explored the farthest reaches of our beautiful Great Lakes state. It’s incredible to me that we can drive 10+ hours and still be in the same state. Throughout that drive, the scenery changes. Drastically. The culture changes. The population density changes.
But you still find Secretary of State offices. Michigan license plates. Michigan state parks. Great Lakes. It’s still Michigan.
Throughout our week in the Keweenaw, three major things stood out to me wherever we went:
3. Sandstone buildings.
These three things seemed to make up about 93% of the Keweenaw. The other 7% was made up of logging, white pine, craft beer, birch trees, lakes, mountains, thimbleberry jam, hiking, and mountain biking. Plus skiing in the winter. And Michigan Tech.
I know I complain about winter down here in Jackson, but with mountains and miles of ski and snowmobile trails and loads and loads of snow, I really think I’d enjoy winter MUCH more in the Keweenaw. The reason I hate it much of the time in Jackson is that winter here consists mainly of gloomy, gray days. Little snow, so most of the time it’s just cold, with bare trees and dead grass. Slush. That turns into ice overnight to make it a pain to drive to work in the mornings.
If it’s going to be cold, at least give me some snow to play in. Give me real winter.
And in the summer, the Keweenaw is amazingly beautiful. Water on all sides, plus a plethora of calm pine-lined inland lakes, surrounded by mountainous beauty and fed by forested rivers. Hiking/biking/ATV trails crisscross the whole peninsula, dotted with the remains of so many copper mining villages from the copper boom in the 1800s. Miles of untouched nature. Small villages filled with beautiful sandstone architecture and friendly shopkeepers, always ready to strike up a conversation with the next visitor.
Calumet stole my heart. It’s right in the middle of the peninsula, and it’s beautiful. It’s filled with old buildings, many of which are still operating today- churches, restaurants, pubs, etc. It has a wonderful coffee shop, housed in what was once a gas station and garage. What a creative use of space. It has a theatre, built over a hundred years ago, still putting on plays. And, right across the highway sits the neighboring town of Laurium, which is filled with old mansions, many of which are operating as inns and bed and breakfasts today.
On top of all that, Calumet is only about half an hour from Houghton (the biggest city in the Keweenaw) and a little over half an hour from Copper Harbor (the farthest north town at the tip of the peninsula). I’d love love LOVE to live there. One day.
Lest I bore you too much with tales of our vacation, I’ll stop here and leave you with one final bit of entertainment. We discovered a new activity for Lizzie:
As you may have noticed, my blog posts have been a bit nonexistent lately. I’m going to blame it on summer. Nothing seems to be in its regular routine in these hot, lazy days. Sid and I have been enjoying a very delightful summer, full of a whole lot of my favorite things, and as such, my time in front of the computer has been neglected. We are headed to the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan for vacation in a couple weeks, so I don’t expect to be back to my blogging routine for a little while longer. Come September, however, I fully intend to be back on here in full force, bombarding you all with blog posts about things you may or may not have any interest in. Hooray!
For today, I’ll share what I wrote for our prompt at the August Masa meeting. The prompt was to write a story about your early memories of faith, religion, church. This one is for Katie.
My friend Katie went to a Reformed church growing up, while I was raised in the Free Methodist tradition. Her church seemed vastly foreign to me at first. They called the pastor a “minister” and he wore long flowing robes. Children weren’t allowed to take communion until they had made a declaration of faith and been officially confirmed into the church, and they always observed the season of Lent. These are the facets that stood out to me most as a child.
My church didn’t place any importance on these things–they had rejected these sacred rituals and liturgy as unimportant and dead practices–and I felt giddy and intoxicated with this different way to worship God.
Katie invited me to their Maundy Thursday service one time (whatever Maundy Thursday was). I eagerly joined her and soaked in all the liturgy and tradition. I was in complete awe of the man in the flowing robe–I thought his garments must make him extra holy–and when it came time for communion, one loaf of bread and one cup of wine (or maybe grape juice) were passed through the pews, from adult to adult.
Being children, the bread and wine skipped me and Katie. But we snuck Mentos from her mom’s purse, giggling as we partook of our sugary sacrament.
We sang old hymns and recited the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed as a congregation, and I felt embarrassed and out of place, as I had not memorized either one. The Apostles’ Creed was in the back of the hymnal at my church, but we never recited it. The Lord’s Prayer was, of course, in the Bible, but we weren’t taught to memorize it at a very young age.
For years, I was enchanted with Christian liturgy and churches that celebrated it–Reformed, Lutheran, Episcopal, etc. It made me feel like I was a part of something especially sacred and holy. It probably just felt like boring old church to Katie, but to me, that Maundy Thursday service represented the first time I really felt the presence of God, thick in the sanctuary with us. It was tangible to me, there in that room filled with old Dutch people and the Holy Spirit.
That’s all I wrote during Masa, but I’ve reflected on it more since. I don’t think I fully realized all of the things I wrote down until I wrote them. I knew going to Katie’s church had been important to me, that those memories stuck firmly in my brain like pulled taffy for a reason, but it opened up new avenues of thought and reflection to actually write about it.
I don’t attend a liturgical church now. Or a Free Methodist church. Nothing of the sort. At. All. But I still hold those early memories close to my heart. I think experiencing different styles of worship as a child allowed me to open my mind up to the idea that not everyone is the same. God doesn’t speak to every person in the same exact way because no two people are exactly alike. It doesn’t make another church wrong because I don’t love their way of approaching God. It makes them them. It’s awfully limiting to tell God he can only be worshiped in one particular way.
My God is bigger than that. So much bigger.
Despite the dry weather lately, I’ve been doing my best to keep my vegetable garden watered, and I’ve been rewarded with zucchini! It’s my favorite time- zucchini is so versatile! I love that I can put it in muffins and brownies, pizza, lasagna, soup, bread, etc. The list just goes on!
So far, I have made zucchini brownies, pizza, pasta bake, soup (also with green beans from the garden), cinnamon crunch bread, and muffins (also with carrot).
The pizza was new to me, and Sid and I absolutely love it! We’ve had it twice so far. It’s very easy to do. When making pizza, just shred some zucchini and layer it on after the pizza sauce, before the cheese. Yum! It seemed to me that the zucchini brought out the mozzarella flavor somehow. We had it once with pepperoni and once without. I think I prefer it without- with some additional vegetable toppings, but not the meat. We used what we had on hand, which was yellow bell pepper the first time and pepperoni and green bell pepper the second time. I think it would also be great with some onion, green olives, maybe even some spicier peppers, too.
I made these zucchini carrot muffins last year and loved them. I couldn’t wait to make them again this year (of course I used Ideal instead of sugar and used part whole wheat flour- I was running out, so I also used some white flour)!
On another note, I made my second batch of laundry detergent on Sunday. It’s not food, but I still made it in the kitchen, so it counts for this blog post, right?
The first time I made this detergent was in January of 2011. I’ve been using it ever since and only now ran out of that first batch. Actually, it’s not quite gone yet- I still have a few weeks’ worth left. But it was finally time to make a second batch. The first time, all I had to buy was a box of borax, a box of washing soda, and a bar of Fels-Naptha soap. Since I still had the boxes of the powders, the only thing I had to buy this time was a $1 bar of soap. For another year and a half of laundry.
Seriously, why would I ever go back to buying detergent in the store? Making my own costs me about $1 (maybe $5 or $6 when I have to buy the borax and washing soda) and 15 minutes or so in the kitchen. For 19 months of laundry. I don’t have to do the math for you, do I? You know how much detergent costs in the store. And I’m using tried and true natural ingredients- no harsh chemicals on my clothes or going into the ground.
I posted about the detergent awhile ago on here, but I’ll post it again if you’re interested in giving it a shot:
Homemade Laundry Detergent:
5 gallon bucket with lid
1 bar of Fels-Naptha Soap
1/2 cup of Borax
1 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (make sure it’s the WASHING soda)
Grate and melt the bar of soap in 4 cups of water on stove. If you have a food processor, chop the soap into smaller pieces and then put in the food processor. Grating by hand will take you for.ev.er. (And the soap can irritate your skin with prolonged contact- like holding onto it while grating it.) Be sure the soap is completely melted- no chunks left, or you will have chunks in your detergent, and it can leave spots on your clothes. Put other ingredients in the bucket, and then pour the melted soap water into the bucket. Fill the bucket with hot water and stir. Cover and let sit overnight. Stir and then pour your homemade laundry detergent into left over laundry detergent bottles, filling them only HALF way. Add water to fill to the top. Shake before using each time. Use one capful per large load. The soap will not be sudsy like you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working!
Here are some tips on finding these products if you’ve never looked for them before (I know it took me a little while to track everything down).
You should be able to find a 5 gallon bucket with a lid at any place that sells farm supplies and the like. I found one at Tractor Supply Company. 5 gallon buckets can be found also at places like Home Depot or Lowe’s, but they don’t usually have lids.
Fels-Naptha soap is a long bar of soap with a really old-fashioned-looking package. Look for it with the laundry supplies or with other bar soaps- I’ve seen it both places. I get it at Meijer, but I’ve also seen it at other grocery stores and have heard some people say they found it at Target.
Borax and Washing Soda are boxed powders and will be found with cleaning and/or laundry supplies as well.
Good luck if you decide to try the detergent! Let me know how it works for you or if you have any questions about it. Also let me know if you have any zucchini recipe ideas- I love to try new things!