i will give you everything

Last night at youth group we spent some time in the kitchen, talking about how we nourish ourselves. The juniors made soup, the seniors made analogies: spiritual metabolism, spiritual bran, spiritual heartburn. Later, we talked about where food comes from and making ethical choices around food, the impact of films like SuperSize Me and Food Inc. I shared my childhood experience of living on a farm and eating our own livestock. Yes, we named our animals.

In Genesis, God says,

“Everything that lives and moves will be your food. Just as I gave you green grasses, now I give you everything.” (Genesis 9:3, CEB)

This writer weaves a tale of a society moving from a hunter gatherer to an agrarian society. As a story of God’s action, I wonder. Why did God change humankind’s relationship with the animals, so that now humans can eat the animals?

I wonder if it was because Noah took care of them, and so now knew what it meant to eat another of God’s creatures. On the ark, Noah and his family were in the minority, one of many species that God created. Perhaps God reserved that right to eat animals until humankind could regard this source of food as beloved creatures of God, just like humans. If you would eat it, you must respect it, love it and, when the time comes to eat, give thanks for its life.

And all of this is the result of God’s promise to us, to never destroy, to love, to sustain and never abandon.

As I have been reflecting on this passage today, this song has been rolling around, an expression of love and sharing good things. I could sense God’s voice in the lyrics. I share it with you.

Day 4: Genesis 8:1-9:17

Join the E100 Challenge at www.e100challenge.org.uk


Back to Scripture: me and the e100 challenge

Hey Dawn. What’s with the commentary on Genesis? It’s not even in the lectionary right now!

A few months ago I wrote about my writer’s block and general lack of creativity. I’ve also had some spiritual struggles which have made it difficult to be fed by and grounded in a spiritual discipline.

I've started the E100 Challenge

After a few months of irregular reading, random praying and weak contributions to theologically stimulating conversations, I decided it was time to get off my faithful but complacent arse and get back to something routine.

Back in the summer a friend told me about the e100 challenge: 50 readings from the Old Testament, 50 readings from the New Testament, reading one passage a day for 100 days. These passages, selected by the Bible Society in England, have been selected as the top 100 passages that all Christians should be familiar with. Like our Revised Common Lectionary, I’m sure there are gaps, passages I would have included, but it’s a good start.

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

Starting at the very beginning (Genesis) is a very good place to start. Perhaps it is because I love the creation stories so much that my mind started to whirl this morning, to the point that I absolutely had to sit down and write. And I did. And I was blessed. So, there will be blog posts.

Growing up in the Baptist church, we were expected to be reading the Bible and praying in solitude every day. The rhythm was to read an assigned passage, read a devotional guide, spend some time in prayer. While at different times in my life I have been fed by the daily offices, meditation, the rosary and contemplative retreats, I felt it was time to go back to the beginning, how I first fertilized the seeds of my faith. The e100 challenge seemed like a good place to start. It is completely interactive and I can use a new translation I have come to like, the Common English Bible. Below is a bit of information on the Common English Bible and then, below that, some information about using the E100 website and YouVersion, which I very happily recommend to anyone looking for a mobile bible app.

Technicalities aside, you’ll be hearing from me, and, for that, I am grateful. I hope to hear from you, I’d love your feedback. And if you’d like to join me with on the challenge, sign up on the website.

What do you use for your devotions?

Common English Bible

This is a translation that has come out in the past year. Like the Message and other current translations, it has gone for a more conversational, narrative style, but rigorous in translation. Along with beautiful print editions in leather, hard cover, paperback and editions for students, it is also available online for free. It has used inclusive language for people and, when possible, used non-gender specific language for God. This has been submitted by the Anglican Book Centre to Faith, Worship and Ministry for approval as an official translation for being proclaimed in churches. I like it. Learn more at www.commonenglishbible.com.

E100 and YouVersion

YouVersion is a mobile bible app that, along with several reading plans, is connected to the E100 challenge. Signing up on the E100 and YouVersion websites, you can have email alerts sent to you every day to remind you, read your passage on your phone or computer. You can also make notes which you can keep private or share with the E100 community. This is where I keep my notes, because they will pop up every time I read that passage, which is kind of nice. I can read other readers’ thoughts on the same passage. These are the notes that will be posted on this blog. I can’t post from YouVersion to my blog, but I can post directly to facebook and twitter. I can also schedule those posts for a later time. It really is a great system, keeping track of all your reading. YouVersion has other Bible reading plans as well. You can schedule how long you want to take to read the whole Bible.

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life.

Book of Common Prayer (1662), Collects. 2nd Sunday in Advent

then they both saw clearly

Then they both saw clearly and knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made garments for themselves. (Genesis 3:7 CEB)

This whole chapter is so uncomfortable. God wishes to hide things from me. Child birth is a curse. This was someone’s understanding of the experience of our separation from God, but it is not mine.

As I read this verse, I reflect on the discomfort of moving from ignorance to knowledge, and not being able to go back to my naïveté. Two facebook friends regularly post about the horrible working conditions and injustice that is part of what has become a most basic part of my life–my cell phone. The minerals required for all that technology are mined under conditions like the Hebrews experienced in Egypt. This tablet that I am typing on was very likely worked on by a child too young to be working in a factory. Even though I still buy from cheaper retail stores, I cringe when I see ‘Made in Indonesia’ every time I pull out that shirt.

I can’t go back to not knowing the truth. And when I try to put it aside so that I can enjoy myself, or even just perform the tasks so necessary to my ministry, it still creeps back in. I wonder if that is why Adam and Eve couldn’t go back to Eden. No matter how beautiful and lush it is, there would always be that knowledge of what they had done, of how disappointed and angry Creator was, of how they pointed fingers at each other. They were forever changed. They could only move forward in a new reality. We know God didn’t abandon Adam and Eve because their story continues. But they were never the same. They could never make the same choices, or see each other in that naked abandon.

Perhaps, after this, they saw each other more deeply. Maybe they reflected more on the reality of the created order. They certainly knew Creator in a more complex way. After this, I wonder, did they love each other more deeply? Could they know the love of Creator in a new way, a love that is known not only in the gentle walks in the garden, but in the harshness of the desert; a love that sustains them even when they lose a son at the hands of the other? At the end of their days, did they look back thankful for the fullness of their lives?

Creator, Sustainer, may we not be paralysed by our knowledge, but delve more deeply into connected experience of all our sisters and brothers, ever mindful of the depth of our connectedness, through Spirit and ever in your love. AMEN

Day 2: Genesis 3

Because it’s yummy: my monday devotions

Alternate title: My place is in the kitchen

Damion* is one of my young friends at Trinity. He’s 5 years old.

*This isn't Damion. And Damion isn't my friend's real name.

The day he left the communion rail bawling because he could not have communion, his mom and I decided it was time for Damion’s communion education. Sitting in the pew, after the service, we started talking. I told Damion about how Jesus called himself the Bread of Life, and how he promised that every time we ate bread as the family of God, he would be there.

“Damion,” I asked. “Why do you think Jesus used bread?”

Damion looked up from his swinging feet with his big smiling eyes and said, “Because it’s YUMMY!

Psalm 34:8-Taste and see that God is good.

For me the spiritual disciplines that have always rooted me are the ones that I have stumbled upon. Daily offices, for example, are what I am supposed to do. Sometimes they are meaningful, but more often they are a chore. Meditation, the rosary, blogging, leading worship and, now, preparing food. These are my disciplines.

I’ve been trying to be more disciplined about meal planning, simply from an organizational and economic standpoint. But here’s what would happen. I would buy all my groceries. I would plan out my recipes for the week. Then, I would get home. Look at the recipe. And because I was late, or just a long day, we would end up eating at 8 pm, or I would ditch the plan (ditching plans has always been a special gift of mine) and order out. I would throw out a lot of food.

A few weeks ago, I had a day off. A Monday. All to myself. So I decided to try preparing as much of the week as I possibly could in one shot. I started at around 10 am with the grocery shopping. I finished about about 8 pm. And I loved every second of it. I loved the cutting, the preparing, touching, smelling. Marc kept coming upstairs and saying, “This house smells amazing right now!” The aches in my back were the satisfying aches of a day of work, not the stiffness of sitting in a chair.

I decided to try it again last week. I made a point of looking at my calendar for the week to see what nights we had company, whether or not I would eat at our weekly community meal, if I had meetings in the evenings.

My bulk buying and meal planning is paying off! These are our groceries for the week. 8 items.

Along with all the nutritional and economic advantages of this meal planning, Mondays are becoming not just a day off, but a retreat day. I am on my own in my kitchen with my list, my music and the purest most beautiful form of God’s provision. I am creative and creating. It is an act that is completely gratifying, without being self-indulgent because I am being a good steward of my body and feeding those I love. I feel very much in the company of women through centuries, feeding their families. It is serving myself as well as others, and connecting with those who provide for me.

Taste and See that God is Good 

How exactly do I do this?
By opening my heart in gratitude and praise
for all the gifts of life.
By focusing on the astounding intricacy of the world.
By attending to the still small voices of healing and renewal
which save me in times of trouble.
And by loving life and honoring that gift,
speaking truth, doing good, seeking peace.
When I serve the highest I know
I serve whatever God there is.
The joy of this, no matter what my troubles, will keep me whole.
Christine Johnson, Psalms for a New World

Searching all my favourite food blogs at once: I knew there must be a way to do this, and knew if I just waited the solution would come along, and it did!

And an additional paragraph on my life in the cloud…and my food blogs

I just discovered the best use for Google Reader! Searchable food blogs!

Google Reader is an RSS feed. Basically, you can read all your favourite blogs or websites in one place. You can organize them into groups. The best part is it indexes every single blog post in your feed…past and present! Over the holidays, I asked friends for their food blog recommendations, because I have also recently discovered Evernote*, and want to start clipping recipes from the web.

This morning I am working out our meal plan for the week. This has become one of my favourite Monday day off activities. It makes me feel incredibly organized and smart! It also lets me focus on two things I love, food and feeding those I love. Once the week is planned, it’s time to go shopping.

After a month of holiday eating, we have a very full fridge and freezer, as I’m sure you do. What I have always wanted to do is find a way to search for whatever ingredients are in my fridge or freezer, to find one or two recipes that would use up ingredients I already have. I can only eat so much stew, casserole and soup, my friends. My brother, Fred, is a chef and often gets phone calls from me regarding what to do with the food in my fridge, but that’s an expensive recipe search since he is in London, England. I know some websites will let you do this, but I want to search ALL my favourite websites.

So, here it is.

1. Subscribe to Google Reader.

2. Click on the Subscribe button and start entering your favourite blogs. Some blogs come with a specific link to their RSS feeds. If it doesn’t, just pop the domain name in the search box. The reader will find it.

3. Put all these blogs in a folder called “Food”.

When you want to, like me, search all your favourite sites for those pork chops that are on the edge of freezer burn, just search for pork chop in the search box, making sure the search button says “All Items”. And voila! Recipes. If you get too many, add another ingredient from your veg drawer like, say, broccoli. Then, take the ones you like and file them somewhere locally, if you like.

It always feels like a failure when I have to pitch food from my fridge. Couldn’t I have been creative enough to come up with something to do with those chunks of melon and that half finished hummus? Here’s to a more open fridge and freezer.

And here is my tangent about life in the cloud: I have become impressively cloud based. I am reaching a point where, if it can’t go on my iPad, I’m not interested in reading it or using it. That’s not a plug for iPad, but simply to say, I love having all my information with me at all times. Opening my file cabinet is a chore. Right now, my husband is putting together a file for me to take to the bank to make some changes to an account. Can’t you just scan it and email the pdf? Why haven’t we scanned all our files by now? And why wouldn’t the bank be so impressed with my cloud that they would make the changes? Shouldn’t the banking sector be the epitome of efficient organization? In fact, my life in the cloud is because I am ridiculously disorganized. The solution for a disorganized person…ultimate searchability. Who needs a filing system when I have a search box? The only thing stopping me is my lack of electronic files. Which I am fixing, one day at a time.

My food blogs

Here are the food blogs I am following so far. If you have others to share with me, please pass them along. In my new searchable universe, the more the merrier!

Feisty Chef: Renee Lavallee is a good friend of my brother and I. Feisty is the perfect moniker. Two kids, cheese fiend, lovely recipes!

Epicurious.com: For when I am feeling fancy

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Thanks to my friend Cydney for introducing me to these two “quarter-life” cooks. Here is how Cydney met the big girls.

Chef-Girl.net: A friend of a friend

Mennonite Girls can Cook: Yummy recipes with some lovely prayer and scripture

Also highly recommended: Smitten KitchenStone SoupWell PreservedZest for Life Today

*I have friends using Evernote for all kinds of things. Right now, my best use for it is food! I have over 100 recipes in Evernote right now. I have not neglected my cook books at all. When I find a recipe in a cookbook I want to prepare, I take a picture of the page with my phone and clip it to Evernote. With word recognition, Evernote makes the picture searchable.

Writers block and George RR Martin

I owe you more than this. I owe you writing about beginning my second fall at Trinity, our mission trip to Mexico, the death of my beloved uncle and reuniting with my Boston cousins, but the truth is I have spent most of the past 5 months unable to process, partly because of some health issues, partly because I came back from Mexico into a bit of a $#\+storm. All that being said, here you go. It’s a start at chipping my writers block.

I had plans for this morning. I was going to look up some reading recommended by a friend last night. I was going to make chili, do some laundry, get into the church in time to hear my colleague preach.

But then, I woke up early this morning and decided to read a bit more of Dances with Dragons. What I didn’t realise, since I read on a tablet, was that I had about 60 pages left. I woke up this morning to read Jon’s last chapter of the book (no, that was not a spoiler, but for those who have read it, you know what I mean) and, well, once I recovered (again, not a spoiler!) there was no way I was putting this book down again.


I’ve been reading this series since the summer, after I watched Game of Thrones on HBO. I’ve taken the Starks, Lannisters, Targaryens and other Westerosi and Dothraki to Mexico and back, through this chaotic fall. And now, finally, there is nothing left until Martin writes book six.

Just to be clear, Martin is not like JK Rowling. Rowling wrote 7 books in 10 years. Martin wrote 5 books over 15 years and has two more to go! And here I am, not writing for 6 months. I mean, Martin is writing about an empire, a dozen locations, dozens of characters. My life is relatively simple.

I am going to miss these characters. I really love the kids in this series. They are powerful, respected, fun, brave, loyal and smart. Just like my youth group kids. Oh yeah!

So now what? In order to fall asleep tonight, I have to read something. A couple of months ago K downloaded Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on a Kobo sale. I will likely start that tonight, once Colbert is turned off.

Be patient with me. In true Martin style, my dates might not line up over the next little while as I go backwards and forwards to fill in some blanks. It’s good to be back among the bloggers. Blessings to you!

Bottling up on Blog Action Day 2010: Water

Today, bloggers around the world, in over 100 countries, are spreading the word about the right to clean water.

For a few years now, I have done my best to avoid drinking bottled water. We have been convinced that bottled water guarantees that we will have safe, clean, tastier drinking water. In North America, that is a myth. And so, we take clean water from natural sources around the world, even in places where clean water IS at a premium, so that we can have a convenient plastic bottle of water to dispose of. Watch this video by Annie Leonard in the Story of Stuff series to learn about the environmental and economic impact of bottled water.

When I lived in India, the price of bottled water was regulated by the government for pennies a litre. Still, the minimal cost was still profitable because so many Indians drink it. In many other countries, pop is cheaper than water. Meanwhile, their natural water sources are being polluted by our outsourced industries and littered with our plastic bottles! So guess what happens? Bottled water becomes their only option, but only because of the bottled water industry!

I am not naive enough to think that if I boycott bottled water then companies will stop producing it. I carry my thermal water bottle when I drive and travel (and ask for refills) to remind others that we are privileged to live in a country where we do not need to worry about the state of our water. When our public drinking water is compromised, it is due to irresponsible industrial practices, and not the natural state of water. And so why should I give more profits to the industrial system that is responsible for harming our public water sources when it is compromised?

I have also worked with the Disaster Response Team of the Red Cross and have been grateful for the availability of bottled water for victims of natural disaster. Let’s keep bottled water as an emergency source, not a norm.

To celebrate Blog Action Day, this FANTASTIC piece by Lewis Black about the silliness of bottled water in North America as only Lewis Black can express.. Profanity warning. Enjoy.

Other posts today

Today bloggers are uniting to start a global dialogue about clean drinking water. Here are some from my blogger friends:

PWRDF blog: Happy Blog Action Day!

Elena_SC: Water footprint: How the fashion industry and your shopping impact the Planet

GreenBE’s blog: Hoy es el dia de accion del blog 2010 (with a cool short video in English about Blog Action Day)

Great Arquitect’s blog: Blog Action Day! (I think this is an English language version of the above blog)