One Month More

Now that July in Texas (my last one possibly – so weird to think about) has somehow already graced us with its presence, I realized I have yet again let my blog fade in the background of my everyday. You think I’d have all the time in the world these days to just write on and on, enough for a book – side note, I’d really love to actually write a book one day. Now as far as the subject, I have no earthly idea. I just know that words are powerful,  books I’ve read have changed my life in ways, and I’ve just got a lot of opinions on things.

Here’s my lousy attempt to wrap up my first half of summer in the country.

letters

I’ve rediscovered the lost art of old fashioned letter writing, and it is SO GOOD. I can’t tell you how much it makes my day to find an envelope addressed to me in our mailbox and recognize the address as one of an old college friend. I also have that same anticipation with each one I write and send on its way, hoping it will be the best part of that person’s day as well.  One of my dearest pen pals, Jordan, told me in her last letter that a friend had explained to her that all of Jordan’s letter writing/blogging/encouraging words via social media could all be considered forms of discipleship.  That thought had never crossed my mind, but when I started to think about it, it definitely made sense. When I sit down and intentionally (and consistently) think about what to say to a friend and ask for the Lord to give me words that will encourage them, that is pouring into their life even if it looks different from the traditional picture we have of discipleship of coffee dates and scheduled weekly hangouts. I already do feel like I’m getting behind on responding to people, but the beauty of letter writing is that it does not demand a prompt and hurried response much like a text or Facebook message. It’s ok to let a few days or even weeks go by to give you time to really think about what you want to say. So to all of you that asked to join in my back and forth writing, take heart. I promise it’s on its way soon.

bike2

I’m absolutely obsessed and in love with my new, beautiful, perfect road bike. Her name is Roxie. I promise I’m not weird for naming my bike and acting like it’s my new baby. Boys name their toys all the time. After wanting a good road bike for years and it being the only thing I asked for graduation, I finally am the proud owner of a Specialized Dolce Sport EQ in satin teal. This is essentially replacing my car when I sell it to live the true urban lifestyle, so I’m okay with the fact that it cost about as much as an old used car. I didn’t get a Baylor ring, and I saved my family thousands for not rushing a sorority. I think that justifies it. Thanks Mom! 🙂 The second I hopped on and tried it out, I could tell that it was worth every penny. I’ve already taken several rides, and a couple long ones in Waco and around here, and I could go on and on about how good it is. When you’re upgrading from a beat up mountain bike from middle school you somehow got around in college on, it’s a really big deal, folks. Also, my toned cycling legs are quickly coming back after a month of missing teaching BearCycle. If the side effects of riding just for fun happen to be more defined thighs and calves, I’m not mad about it.

      leisure         better          blue

My summer reads are extremely varied and simultaneous, and I’m okay with that. I have this problem with books in the summer. I never, and I mean really never, have time to read much for leisure during the school year. Having said that, I definitely make up for it in the months when all I can really do is stay on my couch in the AC. I might get through one chapter while I lay out at the pool before I’m so done with the unbearable Texas sun and sweat is dripping on every page. So far I’ve finished Leisure: The Basis of Culture (not exactly leisure reading but very good and thought-provoking) and Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. That one is by Atul Gawande, a leading medical author, and I loved every page! I’m actually now reading a second one of his – Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance – that my mentor doc gave me when I told him I was reading his first. Gawande is a general surgeon in Boston and has written for The New York Times. He writes a lot about doctors being human beings (aka not perfect like society expects them to be), the constant pressure of performance, the healthcare system and how it could be improved, and just a lot of neat stories of behind the scenes of his life as a surgeon. I might be going to dental school now, but I’m still fascinated with all things medicine and who knows? I might also be a surgical resident one day. I’m now reading All In by Mark Batterson who wrote The Circle Maker that I loved and that challenged and ignited my prayer life more than any other book I’ve read. This one is about actually being sold out for the gospel and surrendering our entire lives for Jesus, not simply asking him to follow us and our plans. I’m also reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller with the tagline “Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality.” Let me know what’s on your summer book list!

       cg          shortys          food

I took a week-long trip back to my old stomping grounds, and man it was good for the soul. I told several of my friends when I left in May that I’d for sure make a visit during the summer before I left for good, and when my mom went to Montana to bring some things back from the cabin and would be gone for most of the week, I figured the timing was perfect. I had couches lined up to sleep on for all 5 nights and had texted everyone I knew in Waco for the summer basically saying, “If you want to see me, tell me when you’re free and I’ll fit you in!” It was so good making that all too familiar four hour drive, and it really felt like I had never left even though a month had already passed since I did. I hit up all my favorite local joints for pizza, coffee, drinks, and one more Waco t-shirt, all with people I dearly missed. I also headed to the beloved farmer’s market and Cameron park (via Roxie) one last time. It was certainly sweet being back, but if I’m being honest, it did feel different. I really realized for the first time that I wasn’t a college kid anymore and I felt more in the in between of that and grad life. I love love love all of my younger friends, but staying with them and even going to my old Lifegroup, I sensed a noticeable difference. I’m not trying to say I’m that much more mature than them, it was just more of a recognition that this season of my life was in fact over as much as I didn’t want it to be.  It sort of was an almost tease to be there that long, knowing that it would be my longest visit to Wacotown for at least four years. I thank God more and more each day for that place and those people.

Until next time, I’m eating Tex-Mex whenever I get the chance (it will NOT be the same in Philly), still filling out and sending 54,298 forms to Penn, watching way too many Grey’s reruns, avoiding the storage room where I need to sort, unpack and repack, and soaking up my last month of rest and stillness before the crazy starts.

Winter Break Reading List

I’m officially home as of last night, so holiday break mode is in full force (aka sleeping, eating, playing with baby nephew, and trying to refuse a slight sickness I feel creeping up on me…).  One of the things I look forward to most when I’m not in classes and have actual free time is reading for FUN. I know, it’s a crazy thought right? Not reading textbooks or theological books (which I don’t mind actually) because it’s my assignment for class the next day, but reading things just because I find them interesting, enjoyable, or thought-provoking.  Even though I’ve only got a short 3 weeks, I’m being pretty ambitious with my winter break book list.

1. Cooked by Michael Pollan

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I actually started this one over summer before I realized I was not going to have time for anything outside of summer classes and studying for the DAT every day.  Michael is one of my favorite food writers and some of my favorite quotes from his books are on my blog here. This one is about his own personal journey learning how to cook and he organizes it by the four elements of basic cooking: fire, water, air, earth in the form of BBQ, braising, bread baking, and fermenting (including brewing and cheese-making). He basically is showing how fundamental cooking is to humanity and the dangers of what can happen if we keep veering away from this ancient art towards the convenience and low-quality of today’s food.

He discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world, standing squarely between nature and culture. Both realms are transformed by cooking, and so, in the process, is the cook.” 

“Cooking, above all, connects us. The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching.”

“In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life.” 

2. Love Does by Bob Goff

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This book was recommended by several of my friends, and I look forward to finishing it (again, I started it very briefly this summer).  The subtitle is “Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.”

“As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren’t good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll. 

Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world’s best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it’s not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob’s love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.

When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don’t want to miss.”

3. Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

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This one I heard about from my roommate who shares these two loves of mine of all things bread and wine (in fact, I did a creative project about bread for my biblical class here), and I’m hoping it might be under the tree for me on Christmas morning. Shauna is a blogger and so far what I’ve seen and read from her is always right up my alley of food, friends and family, and faith.

“As a follow up to her two bestselling books, Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines, author and blogger Shauna Niequist returns with the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table. Bread and Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir. Bread and Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.” 

What’s on your winter book list?

Favorite Food Quotes From Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan has recently earned a spot in my line-up of favorite authors after I read In Defense of Food last summer.  I recommend his books to anyone that is interested in food, cooking, environmental health, nutrition, history, economics, food industry marketing, or American society in general. He has written several best-sellers, and he simply has a way with inspiring words about food and health.  I know what you’re thinking – books about nutrition and food science seem far from exciting, but his style is not your typical scientific or medical lecture.  He writes with convincing passion and quick wit.  I just bought his newest, Cooked, and can’t wait to get around to reading it. Here are some excerpts from his books:
“You are what what you eat eats.”

“Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting.”

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.”

“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.”

“The sheer novelty and glamor of the Western diet, with its seventeen thousand new food products every year and the marketing power – thirty-two billion dollars a year – used to sell us those products, has overwhelmed the force of tradition and left us where we now find ourselves: relying on science and journalism and government and marketing to help us decide what to eat.”

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. ”

“Organic Oreos are not a health food. When Coca-Cola begins selling organic Coke, as it surely will, the company will have struck a blow for the environment perhaps, but not for our health. Most consumers automatically assume that the word “organic” is synomymous with health, but it makes no difference to your insulin metabolism if the high-fructose corn syrup in your soda is organic.”

“That eating should be foremost about bodily health is a relatively new and, I think, destructive idea-destructive not just the pleasure of eating, which would be bad enough, but paradoxically of our health as well. Indeed, no people on earth worry more about the health consequences of their food choices than we Americans-and no people suffer from as many diet-related problems. We are becoming a nation of orthorexics: people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.”

“When you’re cooking with food as alive as this — these gorgeous and semigorgeous fruits and leaves and flesh — you’re in no danger of mistaking it for a commodity, or a fuel, or a collection of chemical nutrients. No, in the eye of the cook or the gardener … this food reveals itself for what it is: no mere thing but a web of relationships among a great many living beings, some of them human, some not, but each of them dependent on each other, and all of them ultimately rooted in soil and nourished by sunlight.”

“Now, all of this might be tolerable if eating by the light of nutritionism made us, if not happier, then at least healthier.  That it has failed to do.  Thirty years of nutritional advice have left us fatter, sicker, and more poorly nourished.  This is why we find ourselves in the predicament we do: in need of a whole new way to think about eating.”

“Pay more, eat less. What the French case suggests is that there is a trade-off in eating between quantity and quality.”

“To eat slowly, in the Slow Food sense, is to eat with a fuller knowledge of all that is involved in bringing food out of the earth and to the table.”