Tag Archive | gifts

Life in the Aftermath

I’ve noticed that most folks from Harrisburg are using social media to post pictures of the tornado damage. The images that have really moved me in the last 24 hours, though, aren’t pictures of destruction. They’re pictures of compassion …


Life Church in Marion: “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink.”

Alltel is charging phones for those without access to power.

And lots of folks – volunteers and professionals – who just want to help.

(I don’t even know where Lemont is! How nice that they would come, though!)

As seen at locations all over town: stockpiles of water and supplies that are being donated.

Trade Ya’

In a phone call yesterday, a friend shared some exciting news: he has decided to keep chickens.

His suggestion – since he knows of my excitement about the garden I am planting this year – was to suggest trading some of the eggs from his chickens for some of my tomatoes.

(I’m flattered by his confidence in my ability to actually keep a tomato plant alive long enough for it to produce a tomato!)

My response was: “This is country living at its best!”

As I give the matter more thought, though, I am forced to retract that statement.

This desire to trade isn’t a trait born or developed only by folks who inhabit rural areas. I’m convinced that it’s a trait that is born in each of us.

Don’t believe me? Sit down at lunch with some elementary-age students and watch the mealtime bartering.

Need more proof? Check out a flea market sometime.

Human beings seem to have an innate need to pass on the things they no longer want or need, or the things which they have in abundance.

The great number of flea markets, estate sales, food swaps, thrift stores and consignment shops around the country seem to indicate that, in addition to the need to pass on, we also have inherited a willingness to receive those items that have been offered.

I suspect this is our survival instinct showing itself. Somewhere deep inside us, our cells remember (even if our conscious minds do not) that we were made to live symbiotically.

In modern America (although, probably not limited to here), it seems that too often, symbiosis is disdained in favor of individualism, living simply and interdependently is dismissed in favor of hoarding and stockpiling, and talking heads seem to suggest that the attempt to live more cooperatively is somehow insidious, that it somehow undermines the “American spirit”.

But those attitudes cannot negate the fact that, whether we accept it or not, we live in a web of connectedness. Embracing that web leads to richer fuller lives for all of us, while attempting to disengage from the web diminishes our common life.

But it’s not easy. Living in such a way requires that we live honestly, offering up both our gifts and our needs to the larger community.

Sometimes, I’m not sure which is more difficult: claiming the knowledge of our own gifts so that we might offer them up without hesitation, or admitting to our need or weakness, so that others might have the opportunity to support and sustain us.

Either offering requires courage. And there are days that I just don’t have it.

But I think I can at least start with a tomato.


Special Sanctuary

This post is short, but don’t let that fool you. My affection is sincere!

I’ve just started reading Jan Richardson’s new book In the Sanctuary of Women. It’s FAB-ulous. It’s my new daily morning reading.

I’ve already informed my mother that she’s getting it for Mother’s Day. Ladies, look out: I’m itching for an excuse to give this one to friends!

You are Salt

Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20

Sermon excerpt:

Salt doesn’t wake up one morning and try to figure out what to study in college. It doesn’t make a career choice or check the classifieds. Salt is just salt … it has some sodium and some chlorine … it’s salt.  All it does is what salt does. It just does what comes naturally to salt. It doesn’t do something else.

If you were to sprinkle salt on your french fries and instead of making them salty, it made them sweet, we wouldn’t say “This salt has lost it’s saltiness.” We would say: “That’s not salt! That’s sugar!”

If salt doesn’t do what salt naturally does – if it does something else – then it’s not salt. If it doesn’t have the qualities of salt, then we don’t call it salt.


Five Years Late to the Party

I am astounded to discover that February 5, 2011 is the Fifth Annual World Nutella Day! I’m astounded, not that the whole world is honoring this extraordinary spread, but that I’m five years late in celebrating with them!

First, I feel I must confess my deep and abiding love for this beautiful chocolate-hazelnut treat. Originally from Italy, this delight didn’t make its way to the U.S. until 1983 (nearly half a century after its creation). But I didn’t discover it until the 90’s, when I lived in France.

It’s a standard in crepes, but it is equally common at European breakfast tables, spread on bread as Americans might do with peanut butter. After arriving home from France, I found that Nutella was still unavailable in many parts of the country, sadly including the one in which I lived. I missed it so much that when a European friend came to visit, she smuggled some in for me!

In the intervening years, many companies that distribute in the States have tried to sell a product that can compare. None do. Finally, a number of years ago, I discovered a few jars of Nutella sitting on the shelf in my local, small-town Kroger. What joy! I now can have Nutella whenever the mood strikes me.

I confess, I try not to keep it in the house. It’s the kind of thing that is just as good right out of the jar (on a spoon) as it is prepared in any other way. However, if you’re looking to celebrate World Nutella Day, you can find some great recipes HERE.


1 Thing You Probably Didn’t Know

One of the best things you can do for the environment this gift-giving season is to give gifts that don’t require batteries. Admittedly, this is usually easier if your list has a bunch of adults on it, rather than a list full of children. And, of course, it’s practically impossible to give batteries up entirely. (We still need our smoke alarms, after all!)

However, it’s worth the extra time and effort to find those battery-free gifts. All those batteries (and there are loads of them) end up in a landfill eventually. Even the rechargable ones don’t last forever. And all those discarded batteries are quite the environmental hazzard.

Nearly half of all battery sales occur during this time of year … so let’s see if we can’t trim the number of batteries that wind up in landfills this year.


And thus ends our 12 Days of Christmas. Geez! Now I’m not sure what to do next. Hmm. Maybe I’ll take a day off!

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See you then.


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