April 27, 2012

Happy Arbor Day

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters"- Psalm 24:1-2

Today is National Arbor Day and last weekend was Earth Day. I only felt it was appropriate to write a post about 'the Earth'. 
Michael and I spend a lot of time in the trees: 
I have to start by saying I did not grow up a 'tree-hugger'. We did not recycle, mainly because it was inconvenient. I didn't believe it was viewed as something important or necessary because the world will be destroyed in the end and was recycling really making a difference? I grew up hearing in Sunday school that the earth is not our home, we are merely passing by until we 'reach' heaven. I used to be annoyed with all the 'save the Earth' talk and I wrote it off because we were only temporarily living here anyway...right? I feel like protecting the earth became a political issue that is only talked about on one side of the aisle and in some circles even laughed at. 

Well, in the last two years my perspective has shifted. It all started with witnessing my first home birth October 6th, 2010 (I will definitely be writing about my experiences witnessing birth in the future!). This led me to start thinking about my body and how it was designed. I then started thinking about the food I was consuming. That led to wanting to shop local and buy organic. I no longer wanted to be on or use medications that weren't necessary. I started looking into natural products for cosmetics, toiletries and cleaning supplies. My husband bikes to work/school every day. We started walking to the grocery store, which is actually a lovely 1.5 mile walk. We planted our first garden and started composting and recycling. No, I am not saving the world but I am starting to see the importance of taking responsibility for your own lifestyle - and yes, I am now the 'crunchy, granola' friend. :)

Growing up in church I hear all the time how we are supposed to be good stewards of everything we have, mainly pertaining to money. I started to wonder why Christians were not the biggest hippies out there, as stewards of this planet. Also in the church many people use language like, "I feel most connected with God when I am in nature". I don't think that is by accident. If God gave us this Earth and God calls it good, why on earth are we not taking care of it? 

I just read the book "7, an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker. I could probably take a whole blog to talk about my thoughts on this book but that will have to be another time. Jen takes 7 aspects of life and each month learns to minimize or improve in those areas. One of her months focuses on waste. She spends a chapter going through her family's experience learning to recycle, compost, garden, driving one car, etc. She quotes in her book author Wendell Barry who says it best:

"The ecological teaching of the Bible is simply inescapable: God made the world because He wanted it made. He thinks the world is good, and He loves it. It is His world...He has never revoked the conditions, bearing on His gift to us of the use of it, that obliges us to take excellent care of it. If God loves the world, then how might any person of faith be excused for not loving it or justified in destroying it?" 

As a believer in Christ I recognize that he came to redeem the world. I came across another author that said, "I think the message is that God loves this place. God wants to restore this place. It's not so much that we were made for heaven as that heaven was made for earth"  And often we limit that at a relational or spiritual level, but why not consider it ecologically? I cannot pretend that ecology and theology do not originate from the same source. One day there will be a new earth, one made perfect as it was intended to be. I want to be part of the process of bringing heaven to earth, both in my relationships and in the way I live my life. 

I put Fernando Ortega's version of "This is My Father's World"
Yes, you will get a cheesy montage of nature pictures, but the lyrics are beautiful and speak to everything that I am feeling about the way we view Earth: 

This is my Father's world
and to my listening ears,

                                           all nature sings and ‘round me rings 
the music of the spheres. 

                                                This is my Father’s world, 

I rest me in the thought 

of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, 
His hand, the wonders wrought. 

This is my Father’s world, 

the birds, their carols raise, 

the morning light, the lily white 
declare their maker’s praise. 
This is my Father’s world, 
He shines in all that’s fair. 
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, 
He speaks to me everywhere. 

This is my Father’s world, 
oh let me ne’er forget 
that though the wrong seems oft so strong, 
God is the ruler yet. 
This is my Father’s world, 
the battle is not done. 
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied 
and earth and heaven be one

The presence of God is so tangible in nature and I want to do what I can to preserve the planet God created. I challenge you to look at your life and consider ways that you can better steward this earth. 

April 26, 2012

My DIY Office

Visiting Orphans moved offices! I was so excited to get my own space to decorate. Now that I have a cozy space I feel like I can focus so much better! Although transition and change can be really tough, a fresh start is just as rewarding. I have definitely learned to be patient trying to figure out new phone, printer and email systems and my old computer completely died in the middle of a work day. But after 3 weeks of transition and more change than I thought I could handle, I am embracing and enjoying the this new season. It is starting to feel like the perfect "office home"!
Here are some pictures: 

Before: Grey walls and carpet
After: So much warmer with beige walls and brown carpet
I couldn't afford new furniture, so Michael and I built a bench out of some shipping pallets. 
Before stain: 
After stain: 
I made the cushion out of thrift store pillows and fabric I got while in Rwanda. 
I went to Goodwill, Ikea and Home Depot and got everything for $60. 
-3 curtains that I made into 2 massive curtains: $10
-5 frames that I spray painted black: $10
-4 pillows: $8
-Lamp: $2
-Grey Rug from Ikea: $20
-Stain for the bench: $10
I filled my frames with some art that I made and 2 beautiful photographs that Alison (from my December Africa trip) took. 
My office would not be complete without my favorite Anthropologie candle, wedding photos, and my pen holder made out of pretty fabric and a bean can!
Paint chip art! But seriously, if you want a cheap (free) and interesting medium for art, go to Home Depot, Lowes or Walmart and grab some paint chips. I am working on an entire post dedicated to paint chip art. I love using them!
Some more of my pen and ink drawings (I am a little obsessed with trees).
Side note: Happy early National Arbor Day! Every state celebrates it on different days, but the national day is tomorrow, April 27th! Michael and I will be celebrating this weekend :) I love that there is holiday dedicated to trees!
That vase will soon hold red fabric poppy flowers. 
 Thanks Urban Outfitters for my office motto :) 
 I had to combine three curtains to make one that was tall enough for the window. I love the texture of the deep purple curtain paired with the blue and brown patterned fabric.
I really like it here. 

April 10, 2012


I love sandwiches. I love hamburgers. I love that you can taste so many flavors in a single bite. And the options are limitless...
Some of our favorite restaurants in Nashville include Silly Goose and Burger Up because they use delicious, interesting ingredients in their food.
But here is the deal, sandwiches require close to no cooking and are quite simple if you know what ingredients to buy. This is one easy way to make a yummy meal. Click on this link and look at the Silly Goose menu. Delicious, right? Now go to the store and buy those ingredients and enjoy your favorite sandwich multiple times at a fraction of the price. (But still go to these restaurants every once in a while to support local business ;)

We decided to create some of our own gourmet sandwiches.

Sandwich #1: Fennel and Salami
What we used: 
1. Grilled slices of fennel (from the bulb)
2. Alfalfa sprouts
3. Salami
4. A goat cheese and chopped olive spread (we added some pureed garlic, fennel tops, salt and pepper, apple cider vinegar, a little mustard, capers and a splash of milk) 
5. Tuscan bread from Provence 

 Sandwich #2: Our own take on a BLT
What we used: 
1. Spinach
2. Bacon
3. Gruyere
4. Some more yummy bread
5. Herb Aioli - Whisk an egg yolk while you slowly add olive oil. Add a tablespoon of vinegar. Mix in herbs (here we used basil, garlic powder, oregano and marjoram) 
6. Fried tomatoes (not fried in this picture...) 

 Sandwich #3: Turkey, brie and raspberry
What we used: 
1. Sliced Turkey
2. Brie
3. Dijon Mustard
4. Yummy bread, once again
5. Fruit compote: diced apples, raspberries, plum, cranberry juice, and a touch of horseradish and balsamic vinegar. Mix it together and put over low heat. We used the emulsion blender to help mix up the fruit.

So yummy and now I get to eat these tasty sandwiches all week long :)