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Last week Gregg received 321 chickens in the mail. Unfortunately, some of them have died.  (They trampled each other.)  But, as survival of the fittest continues to prove true, many of them are alive and strong and chirping away in our shed.  Gregg has set up heat lamps to keep them warm, and they have mason jar watering concoctions set up to quench their thirst.  They also have some kind of chicken feed to eat.  Life is good for the baby chicks.  Now, we only have to wait 3, 4, or 5 months, and they will start laying colorful eggs for us (and other willing Eastern Shore residents) to eat.

During the trampling, Gregg created an “Infirmary” for the baby chicks.  I volunteered to/Gregg made me help pull out the weaklings and sicklings from the heap of healthy chicks and into the “Infirmary.”  Good thing I’m a nurse.  This is the first time that my feet have been covered with bird feces from helping the sick.  It may not be the last.

Read more here:

Farmer Gregg

Farmer Gregg to the Rescue

Infirmary

Cutie Chick

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When Gregg and I were living in San Francisco, we were part of a group called reImagine.  Its difficult, if not impossible, to classify reImagine.  Church?  Para-church?  Non-profit?  They are a group of people, led by Mark Scandrette, seeking to learn and live and love like Jesus.  They are not afraid to ask questions and seek God in non-conventional ways.

They have committed to live into 7 vows, which they developed together based on Scripture.  Simplicity.  Creativity.  Service.  Obedience.  Prayer.  Community.  Love.   Each year, they conduct workshops that focus on each vow.

Three years ago, Gregg and I participated in a workshop called Experiments in Truth.  The workshop took place during the Lenten season.  The idea was to make a change in your outer life that would promote inner growth.  Rather then asking the question: what should I give up for Lent?  They led us in asking a series of other questions.  When asking the questions, they encouraged us not to think too hard about them, but to write down the first things that came to mind.

The questions went something like this:

What areas of your life are in need of growth?

What distracts you/slows your progress from experiencing growth?

What can you commit to abstain from/limit in order to promote growth? [This was supposed to be measurable and specific.]

What new action will you engage in to “replace” what you are abstaining from?

How will you track and record our progress?

Three years ago, I tracked my progress using one word journal entries.

I’ve gone through the questions myself this year and come up with some answers.  I need peace and friendship.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

My friend E at emyselfandi celebrates Wednesdays by sharing her midweek confessions.  Today, I’m going to join her. [I  “linked up” to E’s blog, and I definitely mispelled my blog title.  Awesome.]

Here we go:

I’ve been suffering from a bout of “blog envy.”  I’ve been thinking things like, “I don’t have enough followers/comments/readers/etcetera.”  I’m not sure what to do about these thoughts other than flush them down the toilet.

This morning, I woke up and didn’t hear the dogs.  I thought that Gregg had taken them to work.  I was thankful not to have “anyone to take care of but myself.”  (I feed them and walk them.  Its not like having a baby.) It turned out that they had been secluded to the sunroom because they got dirty this morning.  I’ll have to take care of them after all.

I’ve started drying our clothes on the clothesline out back.  This is partly to save energy, partly because our dryer takes three cycles to get clothes dry, and partly because I think they look pretty hanging up, blowing in the sea breeze.

I’ve been watching more TV at nighttime since we moved here.  I knit and watch TV.  Its one of those things that I don’t like but do any ways.  It makes me feel yuglck.

In an effort to continually move towards Team Grace, I’m hoping that these confessions will not weigh me down.  (Even though writing them down is feeling more heavy than I anticipated.)  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to write them down and release them.

I love the mornings.  (Not really a confession, but I’m getting depressed with all the confession negativity.)  I’ve been reading and writing and journaling and being quiet in our sunroom ever since we got to this house.  I haven’t been walking in the mornings like I originally planned, but these mornings have become sacred to me.  I think that having no internet at the house helps.  I can just be without diving into emails and pinterest and all the other amazing distractions of the world wide web.

We visited a church yesterday that’s very close to our house.  The service was pretty standard.  Traditional.  Liturgical.  The church building was beautiful.  Old windows with that wavy glass, old wooden pews, high ceiling.  The back of the bulletin provided a short history of the building, describing that the church was originally built in 1600-something(!) and how it lived through the Revolutionary War(!).  If these walls could talk…

We went through the usual motions of church: sing, sit, kneel, pray, feel God, daydream, listen.  I expected this all to end with us sneaking out the back door unnoticed.  Nuh-noh!  We were inundated with faces and get-to-know-you conversations after the service.  Honestly, I’ve never experienced this kind of welcoming-ness (not a word) at a church.  With the exception of one young family (I was told that several other young families were absent), everyone was over the age of 50, beyond that, 75% were over 60.

Our get-to-know you conversations at church (which are not my favorite type of conversations) were actually pleasant and informative.  No one else just moves here.  Everyone else has been here for generations.  We met a farmer who lives up the road from us.  He harvests/gathers/(how do you say it?) clams and grows wheat.  His father worked the same land. He said that his neighbor’s land has been in the family since the Pilgrims landed in Virginia.  Woa.

I met a woman who works at the Barrier Islands Education Center (I don’t think that’s actually what its called).  So, I asked her.  I’ve been dying to know.  Is there a public beach on the Atlantic side of the Shore?  No, she said.  😦 , I said.  She went on to tell me about some coastal towns that I should explore that may not have public beaches but do have water access.  We also met an older lady with a colorful knit sweater.  She was all smiles, and she and I talked about her sweater for a couple of minutes.  Then, after introducing her to Gregg, they talked about her sweater for more several minutes.

I think that I was especially sensitive to this friendliness (a word!) since I’ve been spending so much time with these two dogs.

Max & Roo in the passenger seat.

So much time to myself has been productive (my house is more decorated after three weeks than our previous house was after on year) and sharpening (God and I have been in conversation A LOT-there’s those two words again).  This time has also made me realize how much I need people.  I already knew this, but before the knowing looked something like: i need people.  Now its more like: I NEED PEOPLE!!!

I can also appreciate their eagerness, because when our pastor in Knoxville encouraged us to speak with the new people visiting our church, I rarely would.  Its exhausting to me to approach and start up conversations with people I don’t know.  But these people were genuinely excited that we were there.  It didn’t even seem effortful for them to approach us.

I think we’ll be going back.

Lea Buck

Friendship Bio: Lea and I lived on the same hall freshman year of college at Clemson.  All the girls on our hall went through “Rush” together.  Rush is another name for forced conversation between sorority girls and soon-to-be sorority girls.  Nobody likes Rush, nobody.  Yet thousands (millions?) of girls across the country participate every year.  Any ways, Lea and my roommate Elizabeth (or E) decided not to join a sorority, so they kind of bonded over that decision.  I joined a sorority, met and became really good friends with 4 girls and quit a year and a half later.  So, Lea and E were good friends.  E and I were good friends.  Lea and I became friends through E.  Fast forward two years when E studied abroad in London.  In honor of missing E, Lea and I began to spend more time together.  During this time, we became better friends through long talks, walks, and books.

Now, Lea is a P.A. living in Littleton, CO with her husband Jon and little boy Jonathan.

Lea is a very good friend in the truest sense of the phrase.  She and I have not lived in the same state or even the same time zone since 2005, and here we are, still good friends.  Lea is a very good listener.  Sometimes when I’m listening to other friends, I try to channel Lea’s listening ability.  One thing that’s really good about Lea’s listening are her responses.  Her response questions and comments always seem to hit on the exact spot that need hitting, whether you want to be hit there or not.  She is such a good listener that for awhile I forgot to ask her questions, I’d just talk and talk and talk.  I hope I’m starting to channel her listening ability while I’m listening to her, too.

Just like Meg and I have knitting.  Lea and I have reading.  Lea didn’t teach me how to read, like Meg taught me to knit.  But, during our talks books always seems to come up.
  Also, she’s confident.  I’m not sure if she recognizes this about herself, but she can say “I’m good at my job” or “I’m good at being a mom” in a way that isn’t braggy.  As someone who leans toward self-deprecation, I find that seeing this kind of confidence is encouraging.  Like, “Oh, I can recognize that I’m good at this and that, and say it loud, and that’s okay.”

Now let’s here from Lea!

Greatest Strength:

I asked Jon this question (about me) and he said it’s the way I can see people. But I actually think my greatest strength is that I can see myself. Sure, I can’t see everything about myself as clearly as I’d like (as evidenced by the new ways I see and learn about myself all the time!). I definitely don’t feel scared to see my stuff, the good and the bad. And I’ve seen enough of the bad to know that God has chosen this time for me to see it, and is only showing me because I am ready and because he wants to help me replace that part with His good. I guess I’ve been through the cycle enough times to trust that. And so I think (hope) that my strength of seeing myself can allow me to see others from a humble and inviting place. I hope that because I can see myself, and am working towards being comfortable in the me that I see, I can allow those around me to be who they are too.

Perfect day:

No matter the setting or circumstances, the perfect day would include the following elements: quality time with my husband and son; peaceful time alone to connect with god and journal and pray; good food; fresh air; no stress or long to-do’s; connection with family and friends. I know that is vague.

Favorite book:

Hardest question in the world for me! I’ll make up for my vague-ness with the last question by being the opposite here :). Hopefully I can limit it to under 10. OK what first comes to mind are Connecting by Larry Crabb and A New Kind of Christian by Brian Mclaren, both because they are books that I really connected with in my early Christian years, when I thought no one could relate to the way I was thinking. Both met me where I was at, while opening up new parts of me. Atlas Shrugged  by Ayn Rand and Ender’s Game both because I read them pretty recently and because their characters demonstrate resolve and conviction and determination and intelligence. I admire the characters and the authors that created them, even if I don’t completely agree with them. Books I could (and probably should) re-read every year: Hind’s Feet on Hind’s Places  by Hannah Hurnard and Prayer by Richard Foster. Books I have actually re-read several times: The Chosen by Chaim Potok,  Catcher in the Rye (but not sure if this would be a favorite anymore… I may have grown out of it??), The Outsiders by SE Hinton. Oh and I love Beloved by Toni Morrison for her poetry within her prose and magical thinking within a non-magical setting. Discovering the Enneagram by Richard Rohr seriously changed my life. Favorite writers are Barbara Kingsolver, Richard Foster, and, newly, Ann Voskamp. There, is that less than 10? You knew I couldn’t give you one favorite right? 🙂

How we met:

We both lived in the fifth floor of Manning Hall when we were Freshman at Clemson. I can’t remember if I met you or E first… actually it must have been E first because I can remember coming to your room (I’m assuming to see E) and you were sitting on that hammock chair and I think that’s the first time I met you. We were friends all through fresh and sophomore year, but then after you got back from Australia we got really close when we started going to the same church and exploring our faith in the same way, and meeting regularly to talk about the holy spirit, and getting discipled by the same person. The rest is history!

Reason for starting a blog:

We started the blog when I was about half way through my pregnancy. It was intended to be a way for our East Coast family and friends to check in on us and keep up with the baby happenings. Pretty soon after starting it, I realized that this was a really easy way for me to document this important time in our lives, and it became kind of an online scrapbook. I am super awful at photo albums, real scrapbooks, baby books, etc., so I was thrilled that I actually wanted to keep up with the blog and it was actually easy to do so!

Reason for continuing blog:

Also pretty soon after starting the blog, it became an outlet for me to journal my journey through motherhood. I posted a lot of reflections about pregnancy and labor in the early days, and have posted reflections of what I’ve been learning being a mom. It’s good for me to write things that aren’t just for my journal, but that have to make sense enough for others to read. The mommy-blog community is huge, and is a great way to connect for a new mom. There’s a lot about the blog too that has forced me to face some of my fears: fears of being rejected, fears of disapproval, fears of not having anything worthwhile to say. I also rarely am consistent about things so continuing this blog has been an exercise in commitment. Now I am also writing about medical topics that new moms would be interested in, which is so much fun for me to do, but also forces me to overcome worries about approval, do I have what it takes, etc. Overall, blogging has been really good for me and is definitely something that I want to continue!

Surprised about being a mom:

Well, I was asked this question before and I don’t even remember my answer but the person asking it said “Oh, that’s weird [in response to whatever I said]. I was just surprised by how much I love my baby.” Haha–I guess that is just not my answer… I haven’t really been surprised about how much I love Jonathan. It is a new kind of love for sure, but I fully expected that it would blow my mind how much I could love this little guy, so that didn’t really surprise me. I also expected to learn a lot about myself through being a mom, but I will say that I have been surprised about what I have learned. Learned that I am not perfect, but I do have what it takes to be the mom that Jonathan needs. Learned that I am disorganized, inconsistent, messy (I knew all these things before but now I know them in a new context). Learned that I need love from people in some healthy ways and in some not so healthy ways, and learned the urgency of working through the unhealthy ways to get rid of that! Learned what things matter and what things don’t. I have also been surprised at the different mommy-stages that I have already experienced in just 8 months since meeting Jonathan face-to-face. I could go into all the stages here, but nah.

Here’s to Lea!
Her blog is called buck buck goose and is in my BlogRoll.

English: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay...

San Francisco Bay

When I move to a new place, I become really brave because I am desperate for friendship.  In 2007, when I moved with two friends to San Francisco after college, we did the most random things.  At the time, I didn’t recognize that they were random, I just thought they that were part of exploring a new city.  I guess random and exploration go hand in hand.  Within our first week, we got offered cocaine by an Egyptian that we met at a bar, a Rastafarian asked if he could touch my feet, and the three of us showed up uninvited to a house church that I had found out about on-line.  (For the record, we did not accept the cocaine, I don’t remember if I let the gentleman touch my feet, and we never went back to the house church.)  Okay, are you getting the idea?  Random and desperate.

 

Since then, my life has changed A LOT (I hate using those two words, but sometimes they are the only two available to convey the message that I’m going for).  I’m married.  I don’t live in a city.  BUT, I do live by a bay, and I am still desperate for friendship.  In San Francisco, I was OVERWHELMED by things to do and people to meet.  There were at least ten posters on every shop windowadvertising an upcoming concert/street fair/festival, etc.  On the Eastern Shore, its a bit more like a scavenger hunt.  They (the things to do and the people to meet) make you work to find out where they are.

Chesapeake Bay Bridges

The Other Bay-the Chesapeake

Since we have moved here, I have found solace in crafting.  Knitting and sewing have been my focus.  I’ve also been reading, but crafting gives me the sense of productivity and creativity that my personality type craves (or so I’ve read).  I’m hoping to find not only solace in crafting but friendship as well.  At church last week, a woman told me that she and some other women meet from 3:00 to 11:00 (8 hours!) on Fridays to craft.  Potential friendship opportunity #1.  AND this weekend, Gregg’s mom Elizabeth treated me to my first skein of Baby Alpaca yarn (oh so soft!) at a yarn shop called Purls.  The woman behind that counter told me that a group of women knit together on Thursday evenings.  She said socializing is half the priority.  Potential friendship opportunity #2.

If I had a group of friends, I would not venture out to craft with people that I didn’t know.  I would probably just work on my projects at home by myself.  BUT, I’m desperate and brave.  So, I’ve got to go give this friendship through crafting shot.

 

espresso

Mmmm…espresso.  The perfect little pick me up.  I read once that drinking coffee with another person increases your fondness towards that person.  What if you are by yourself?  I’m not sure, but drinking espresso by myself makes me feel fonder towards life in general.  I’m rolling my eyes at myself.

This morning I woke up feeling like I didn’t have enough time.  The feeling was focused on nothing in particular, but, in general, there’s not enough time in the day to [fill in the blank].  I tend to get this kind of feeling when I feel bogged down with things to do, and when I feel anxious in general.  I really have felt less anxious since stepping back in time two weeks ago when we moved to the country.  But, today, for some reason, that old feeling was creeping up on me.  I often try to get rid of it by proving it wrong.  “I do so have enough time.  Look how productive I will be today!”  I don’t recommend trying to beat the feeling that way.  I woke up at 7:00 a.m. to see Gregg off to his first day of work (woo hoo!).  I fiddled around the house for awhile getting ready to leave the house for my errand running.  I was tired by 8:25, unable to escape my, “there’s not enough time” feeling.  I got back in bed.  I think this actually is the solution to rid myself of this enemy feeling.  Rest.  Stop.

I consider this a step toward Team Grace.  A step away from Team Shame.

 

It has taken a week (a month and a week if you count packing up our house in Knoxville), but we have moved into our house pretty much completely.  There are still some projects yet to be completed.  Painting, for example.  I’m not sure if I’m up for it, but I want to  scrounge up the energy to make our place as homey as it can be. This includes painting.

I told Gregg that I wanted our house to smell like us.  Maybe this is weird, but there is something reassuring about smelling your own smell when you walk into your home.  Okay, definitely weird, but still true. I don’t know if it smells like us yet, but it doesn’t smell like not us any more.  Progress.

Did you like Meg?  She’s pretty great.  I forgot to include the link to her blog in her Tribute.  Her blog is also included on my blogroll, “peace, love, and happiness.”

 

 

Tribute #1

If you have read The Hunger Games then you may be a little bit confused.  I’m using tribute in the traditional sense of the word.  For example, I’d like to pay tribute to so-and-so.  On second thought, maybe I am referencing The Hunger Games a little since I’m using tribute as a noun instead of a verb.  No matter.  I’d like to pay tribute to some tributes.

Here in blog world, and internet world in general, its very tempting for “me, me, me” to become the focus.  (I’m realizing that is okay and good to talk about myself.  I’m learning to trust that people care and want to know what is going on in my world.  After all, I like reading my friends’ updates/blog posts, etc.)  Okay, enough of that, I want to pay tribute to my girlfriends.  I want to pay tribute to those that I love, those that have impacted me for good, and those that have blogs.  (I may expand to non-bloggers, too.  We’ll see.)

{I thought about doing this before I moved to a place where I had no friends.  Now that I’m in this place not only do I hope these posts will a. encourage those in which I pay tribute to, but also b. make my heart glad by remembering those that I love and c. prevent loneliness.}

Tribute #1 (for real now)

Meg Garner.

Friendship Bio: I met Meg in San Francisco in 2007.  At the time, she worked in a call center for a high-end fashion company (not really her thing).  Now, she’s in her first year as a licensed/certified (I’m not sure the proper way to refer to an official teacher) elementary school teacher (very much her thing).  She has a new puppy, a new job, and is still living in SF.

About Meg: Meg is a giver, I’m not sure that she would call herself one, but its true. She gave me my first pair of knitting needles and my first skein of yarn.  She gave me an easel when I was on a painting kick.  As an artist, her giving and creative nature compliment each other very nicely.

Meg taught me to knit.  This has proved very beneficial to me since I have now made this hobby slightly profitable.  Also, I have enjoyed passing time in the car, making something out of nothing, giving gifts with an extra special meaning, and teaching others to knit.

Giving.  Artistic.  Creative.  Meg is also SPASTIC in the very best sense of the word.  She has so much energy bottled up inside of her – its infectious. When she dances, I want to dance.  When she’s going to a new show/restaurant/street fair, I want to tag along.  When she is excited about something, I want to get in on that thing that she’s excited about, no matter what it is.

Now, let’s hear from Meg herself.

What is your greatest strength?

Hmm… while talking to my friend Adam at a party last night and explaining to him the joys and troubles of raising a puppy, he told me that I always have a propensity to bite off more than I can chew.  I think that this is a strength and weakness:  I’m up for anything all of the time and open to new people and experiences, but at the same time I often will feel overwhelmed after I’ve taken it all on.  A lot of teachers I know just teach and that’s enough- they don’t have a social life or middle school girls that they mentor or host for people at an apartment without a sink. But, I don’t think that I would want to live life any other way.

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day is one that I’m constantly tweaking.  But, I think that it would start with a walk at Land’s End with my puppy Levi.  Something art-related would definitely be involved- be it an independent movie, listening to live music, a trip to a museum, SCRAP, or a thrift store to come up with creative ideas for a new project.  Other people would definitely be involved- good friends of course and there would be good food and drink too.  Some kind of social gathering at night involving dancing would wrap it up nicely.

What’s your favorite book?

I’ve been reading more now since I’m sharing my love and enthusiasm for reading with my students each day during the curriculum we use.  I don’t know that I have a favorite anything most of the time, but I just read The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and loved it.  I’m a big Shauna Niequist fan too.

Describe how we met.

Well, this is one that I remember pretty clearly.  You met my friend Rachael first at Young Life and I was with her when we met up with you at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass four and a half years ago!  You were wearing overalls and were with Wimberly, who had a pink tutu on and was hula-hooping.  I just knew that we would be friends.

What hobby/ activity are you interested in learning and why?

I would really like to learn to play the guitar because I think that it would be something great to do with my students- just busting out in song when they are being unruly.

What is the reason you started a blog?
Well, it first started with a book idea about my adventures living in France.  I had some free time when I first moved to San Francisco, thinking that I could use it productively and record my European experiences while they were fresh in my mind.   The book idea never came to fruition, but it was my first blog post.
I started a blog because for some reason I believe that I have experiences that no one else has and that I want to share with other people.  Who else can say that they overloaded themselves with groceries at Trader Joe’s, parked up a hill far away, and then ended up just shoving the shopping cart in the bushes?  Or that they made their own muppet in New York and dressed up as her for Halloween, more for herself than her students?  Peace, love, and happiness was one of those phrases that I was obsessed with in middle school- I had necklaces, t-shirts, you name it.  Now, my fourth graders love the same thing and I laugh about it every time I see them doodling it on their papers.

What is the reason you have continued your blog?
Again, similar to the reason above.  I know that my mom reads it.  And that people like Pryor (who I don’t get to share my life with on a daily basis but who I still want to be up on my adventures) read it.  So I keep going.
Here’s to Meg!