An Evangelical Pilgrimage
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Category — Posts by Kate

Give Thanks at the Table

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Penn Valley, CA :: It’s the day after Thanksgiving. I’m sitting with my dad talking about recipes and miscellany. This is a great way to start a day. A cup of coffee, dad’s eating leftovers, I’m eating a gluten-free vegan blueberry muffin (I’m going to be enjoying a vegan diet again for a while). We’re debating the fine points of pork tenderloin, killing and plucking chickens, installing solar panels on a roof (that’s what he does these days for income), turkey stock and upcoming projects for his home.

Last night I did not stay within the vegan ideals. We enjoyed many of the traditional Thanksgiving goods: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, pan roasted brussel sprouts, steamed green beans, cranberry jelly, stuffing with dried cranberries and cherries, and bottles of great red wine. I brought a few things to the table that I’m proud of. My teriyaki sweet potatoes, a 2007 bottle of Smith Syrah, a pecan praline pumpkin pie (say that three times fast) and a cranberry apple crystallized ginger pie. It was all wonderful. The company was wonderful, and Molly ate by the handful.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. You can enjoy family, friends and food (my three favorite “f” words) without the worry or pressure to also providing gifts. The table is enough. Cheers to that!

November 27, 2009   6 Comments

Work

Penn Valley, CA :: I experience life through work. I find pleasure in making things, helping on projects, moving stuff, fixing items, etc. When I have a project I have purpose. When someone needs help I have meaning. I always knew this about myself on some deeper level but until John and I started talking about our value as members of a community I didn’t know how much I was driven by this.

Example: We arrived at my Dad’s house in California last Monday. Since then I have raked and moved the leaves on his lawn (about the size of a suburban lot), removed wallpaper paste left on the walls (from the last time I was here and worked on taking the wallpaper down), installed and taped and applied mud to the walls in the bathroom, emptied the old freezer and loaded the new freezer, moved the old freezer out of the house, watered all of the outside potted plants, picked the last squash from the garden to be stored for the winter, and helped John with a massive book mailing project for the BWC. In the next three days I plan on winterizing the vegetable garden, installing a new granite counter in the bathroom and prepping for paint and painting installing new light fixtures.

Am I a little manic? It’s possible I rely too heavily on what I do to determine my value or usefulness. But I really do enjoy working hard. At some point over these next few months I’m going to include sitting quietly, meditatively, in my daily schedule. It’s not so much about balance as it is about growing and stretching myself. I think I might be able to find value within myself if I sit and listen and just breathe.

Until then, off to work.

November 13, 2009   1 Comment

Welcome to California

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Penn Valley, CA :: We are in California and I’m loving it. Although Oregon has become a very special place for me and I can see us settling there when this trip is finished, I am a California girl 100%.

Fall in Nevada County, California is wonderful. The deciduous trees flash bright red, orange and yellow between tall evergreen pines. The air smells wonderful. My sister describes it like, “mushy leaves and pine needles, old brick, rusty iron, cedar, mulled cider, incense, old books.” And I add that it is all warmed to a gentle simmering fragrance by the beautiful sun light that makes it way through the trees. Topped with a little bit of smoke from the wood stoves.

California has sun. Oregon sometimes has sun. California has my kind of sun, consistent. Today we all woke up with leaves stuck to our cars and wet roads thanks to the downpour that started at about 11:00 p.m. last night. But then, by 9:00 a.m. the sun was out and it will most likely remain out for the next few days. Right now my whole family is seated around the dining room table, speckled with sunlight shining warmly through every window. It just feels warm everywhere…even if it’s chilly.

I’m happy here even though I know we won’t stay here.

November 12, 2009   12 Comments

Packing (again)

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Keizer, OR :: We are packing the car tomorrow. On Sunday we drive to California for the remainder of November and much of December. We don’t have all of the details worked out for December so we don’t know how long we’ll be where. I’m excited to leave Oregon. Not because I’m excited to leave Oregon, but because I need to head out, start something, start this journey.

The last month has been an amazing time for me. For all of us. John’s parents have cared for us so well. They have given us a room to live in that is larger than our old living room. Every morning I come downstairs between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. to find fresh coffee and hot breakfast. Molly gets attention from her three uncles and is regularly watched by the grands so I can go out for a while or John and I can go on a date. It’s been a wonderful time. I’ve rested, found the rhythm my days were always lacking and enjoyed being cared for. Now it’s time to loose the pounds I added as I gave myself permission to sit, strengthen the muscles in my legs to help mend my knee, and get focused on what lies ahead.

First order of business: figure out how to pack John’s books in the car while leaving room for me, Molly and John.

November 6, 2009   3 Comments

Christianese

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Keizer, OR :: I have spent the last five years of my organized spiritual experience in home groups and not inside structural and institutional churches. This reality has created a small language barrier that I need to work on. I will need to relearn Christianese.

In my experience a lot of Evangelical Christians have a vocabulary and way of speaking that I have distanced myself from on purpose. While I was in college I participated in a few campus outreach and evangelism projects. I realized I was not really speaking clearly to the people I wanted to share my story with. It was like me trying to evangelize to people who didn’t speak my language. After this realization I began to listen critically to the words coming from my mouth, those used in the prayers at church, the lyrics in the songs we all sang, and in the sermons I was being taught. Although I did not disagree with the heart of the message I started to see how powerful language can be and how specific words can influence entire doctrine, meaning and social structures, culture and people’s lives.

Now, as we enter back into churches and institutional Evangelical communities I will need to practice using this language to relate more effectively with others. Even though some of my word choices have changed (possibly forever) I find that with a little practice I can slip right back into my Christianese.

October 29, 2009   2 Comments