Friday, January 27, 2012


i absolutely *love* my CSA, and i want to share my love for it with you, so that maybe you will go out an join a CSA too (if you live in so cal, you can join ours!).

'vegetable box' photo (c) 2010, John Lodder - license:

first of all, what is a CSA?

CSA stands for "community supported agriculture".  it is a way of getting produce straight from a local farm, usually through a subscription.  most commonly, people subscribe for a whole season and get a weekly share of the farm's produce.  in this way you are sharing in the risk of a farm: in good years you get lots of produce, in bad years you get less, but its always local, fresh and delicious.

secondly, what is the benefit of joining a CSA, rather than getting produce from a store or farmer's market?

the consumer benefits from a CSA in many ways.  the produce from a CSA is often cheaper than in a store, since it is local and in season.  it is also more nutritious and tastes better, since it was usually harvested within a few days of coming to you.  you also benefit by knowing the growing practices of your farmer: many small farmers cannot afford official organic certification (which costs a lot of money) but may practice all organic methods.  you also become more connected with the source of your food, possibly even building a friendship with your farmer.

the farmers benefit by not having to go out and look for customers: when people subscribe at the beginning of the season, they already knows who has paid for the farm's produce.  also, they get to hear directly from the consumers, which can be encouraging to them especially when they are putting in 16 hour days at harvest time.   furthermore, a CSA cuts out the middle man, so the farmer gets a greater profit from his hard work (many farmers are way underpaid for the work they do, while food companies and grocery stores continue to rake in cash).

where can i find out about a CSA near me?

Local Harvest is a great place to start.  if you live in so cal, you can ask me, as i am familiar with several around here, but of course i love ours the best :)

there is a great variety in CSA's: some focusing more on fruit or veggies, some delivering weekly, some bi-weekly, etc.  some are certified organic, some are completely conventional, some are bio-dynamic without an organic label.  some CSA's require a seasonal subscription, some yearly, and some monthly (although ours just goes week to week).  there are even meat and dairy CSA's, though produce is much more common.  look around at the options and find what works for you and your family!

why i love our CSA

to be honest, at first i didn't really like our CSA.  the veggies that came in our box (lots of strange things i had never made before like kale, chard, kohlrabi) were difficult to cook with and didn't taste very good.  but i was committed to the idea of the CSA and this was much cheaper than any other CSA, so i kept ordering.

fortunately, things went up from there.  i learned better and new recipes, and i also learned lots of ways to hide strange veggies in recipes that we already enjoy.  many things that were formerly weird are now normal parts of our routine.  and now, every time we get a box, i smile as i open it, thankful for the delicious and nutritious contents inside.

every week is a surprise.  though our CSA does send out an email each week to give you a heads up for what to expect, it still usually varies from what they predict.  i love opening a box to see what is inside, creating menu plans for the week in my head.

the box saves time shopping.  when i pick up our box, i know that we are set for the most part for veggies for the next two weeks.  no deliberating over which veggies to buy because they are on sale, or trying to decide before i go to the store what the menu plan for the week is going to be.  one trip to pick up a box and we are set.

the veggies are often heirloom varieties.  which means they usually look weird.  we get yellow tomatoes and purple basil in the summer.  our broccoli is almost more leaf than floret.  but i like it that way, knowing that they aren't genetically altered, and that people have probably been eating this variety for decades, or even hundreds of years.

last week, while cutting up parsley, i got stung by a thorny weed. now, the sting wasn't too fun, but i had to smile knowing that they don't use round-up or any herbicides on the fields.  which means that weeds will happen.  in fact, i regularly find weeds in our boxes, most especially crabgrass.

what could make me smile more than weeds in our box?  bugs in our box.  they usually hang out in the lettuce and other leafy greens.  its not uncommon for a spider or beetle to crawl out while i am washing or chopping veggies.  now, i am not a fan of spiders crawling around me, but again, i have to smile that the bugs were not killed by pesticides (which after i ingest them would be slowly killing me too).

i have rather enjoyed learning new veggies. i already fancied myself a pretty good cook, but my horizons have definitely been expanded through our veggie box.  my favorite new recipes are turkey-cranberry arugula salad and lemon-nutmeg creamed greens.  yum!

i love knowing that our veggies are regularly picked at the peak of freshness and that they didn't sit for weeks in a truck or boat, transported from some far off location.  fresh not only means more nutritious, but it also contributes to much better flavor.  i have heard it explained that the reason that many people don't like veggies is because they have only experienced flavorless canned veggies, or store-bough produce picked so early it never has time to develop good flavor.  i couldn't agree more.

do you order from a CSA?  what do you like about it?  what do you dislike?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

4 reasons to sabbath

you have probably heard many words to describe people like me.  type A.  workaholic.  highly motivated.  productive.

let me put forth a new one: idolator.

to explain, let me back up.  i have always been a hard worker.  in high school i took the toughest classes, worked multiple jobs and participated in numerous extra-curricular activities, sleeping 5-6 hours per night and often skipping church to keep up with it all.

college was pretty much the same story.  i would devote hours each week to my job and school activities, and sunday was my day to catch up on all my homework.

senior year i started dating alex, and we were assigned to plan a spring break mission trip to louisiana (this was around the time that hurricane katrina hit the south and many houses were still in need of repairs).  we needed to get together to do some planning, and i suggested meeting that sunday.

"i don't work on sundays" was his reply.

i was shocked.  wasn't the whole sabbathing on sunday thing rather old fashioned?  do people really even do that any more?

as i learned more, i began to respect alex for his decision not to work on sundays.  i couldn't quite take that step for myself yet, but after i graduated college i did start to practice a healthy sabbath every week.  and it has become one of my best life practices.  at times it is easy, and at times it is more of a discipline,  but overall i am so joyful and thankful that one day every week, God not only allows me to rest, but commands me to rest.

'Day 45: Day of Rest' photo (c) 2010, truds09 - license:

i hope that you too have the joy of a weekly sabbath.  consider the following:

sabbathing is an active form of trusting God 

imagine life when the sabbath was first instituted.  most people had to grow their own food to survive.  if they didn't grow it, they didn't eat it.  farming is hard work, and they needed to spend hours every day working on their farming and tending livestock, in addition to making clothes and many other daily living tasks.  if they slacked for even a few weeks, it could potentially ruin an entire year's harvest, leading to possible starvation and death for their family.  now imagine those people being told to stop working on their farm one day of every seven.  to obey would be a HUGE act of faith in God's provision

in comparison with that scenario, it seems almost silly that we find it hard to sabbath, we who can get food, clothes or almost anything else we want from the store at any time.

but the act of faith remains: to sabbath, we are trusting that God will allow us to get more done in six days than seven.  or we need to trust that what we desire to do is more (and unnecessary) than what God desires for us to do.  either way, our actions speak louder than words: sabbathing shows more faith than merely saying (or thinking) that we believe that God provides.

the sabbath is a gift

to reject the sabbath is to reject a blessing from God.  like a loving father, he knows what we need and had provided it through the sabbath.  why would we want to reject such a beautiful thing that he freely gives us?

i really enjoy taking a day to rest each week.  i am sad for all the years that i rejected this weekly blessing.  in my eyes, this is probably the biggest and most compelling reason that we should take a day of rest.

God created us to sabbath

numerous studies show that taking a day of rest each week is beneficial.  conversely, it is also well known that overwork and stress is one of the most damaging factors to our health.

God created humans to sabbath, and when we go against His good design for our lives, we suffer consequences.  if God himself rested on the 7th day, who are we not to follow his example?  it can only stem from pride.

sabbathing points us forward to eternal rest.

jesus said, "in this world you will have trouble" (john 16:33).  work is hard, having kids is hard.  for those who have turned away from sin and believe in jesus' gift of forgiveness, there will be eternal rest. i am greatly looking forward to it.

taking a mini-rest each week helps us eagerly anticipate the eternal rest that God has laid out for His children.

to go back to my above word (idolator)...  for me, i know that i did not take a sabbath, because my heart was worshipping things besides God (such as good grades, money, and the admiration/respect of others).  are you worshipping something besides God that gets in the way of your sabbath?

have you seen benefits in your life of taking a sabbath?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

what i have been reading recently

last week i shared about what i have been watching recently.  but i have also been doing quite a bit of reading recently, and i'd love to share that with you too, as i have been loving the books that i am reading.

real marriage by mark and grace driscoll

when mark driscoll writes, i read. i am about halfway thru this book, and i am loving it!  mark and his wife grace are honest about their marriage and their sin, and in the process constantly point to God, his good design for marriage and our need for the reconciliation and restoration that Jesus can bring to marriage.

you are a sinner.  your spouse is a sinner.  jesus can bring you new life in the midst of your sin.  jesus can also bring new life to your marriage when you recognize the implications of the good news about jesus's life, death and resurrection in your marital relationship.

the vaccine safety manual by dr neil miller

this is the first anti-vaccine book i have read.  it is very eye opening and i am really enjoying it.  it is widely researched with over 1,000 citations.  the whole vaccine issue is definitely one i am praying A LOT for wisdom on.

thats all i will say, because when i say any more about vaccines, i tend to get a lot of strongly worded comments...

operation world

i love this book!  i will be reading it every day for the next year.  it is a year long guide to praying for all the nations of the world.  God has really used it to remind me of my need to pray for the nations and reinvigorating my desiring to be a missionary overseas.

today, i bought a large wall map, i will probably hang it up in our dining room.  this will serve as a visual reminder to pray for the nations, as well as the missionaries we support, and help me to learn more geography.

for the love of God, volume one by d.a. carson

i also love this book! which is good because i will also be reading it for the next year (and then next year i will be reading volume two).  the title is funny (not intentionally... but it sounds like something you say when you are frustrated), but the content is WAY deep.  it is a daily devotional that goes along with the daily bible reading plan that i am doing, explaining part of the reading more in depth.

what i love about this book (that i find lacking in many devotionals) is that he goes in depth on each topic, mixing historical knowledge with theology with references to numerous other parts of the bible.  i also really appreciate that he makes it clear that the whole bible, every page points to jesus and the good news of his life, death, burial and resurrection.  because that truly is the main point of the whole bible.

your medical mind by dr jerome groupman and dr pamela hartzband

this is a book to help you understand how you make medical decisions.  i don't generally trust doctors, and i like to make decisions for our family from my own research.  my hope is that this book is going to help me better this decision making process.  i just started it, so the jury is still out on whether i like it or not.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

wise parenting

last july, after we got lovely girl and little man (our youngest two foster kiddos) i started reading thru proverbs, a book of the bible devoted to wisdom.

this september, after esther was born, i again read through the book of proverbs (not even remembering that i had done it last year. you may have already read this post, which was inspired by my reading.

in the past year and a half, i have prayed almost daily for wisdom.

clearly, God has used parenthood to make me see my great need for Him, and especially His wisdom.  and for this i am grateful.

good and wise parenting is NOT set in stone. there are many principles to follow (proverbs is a good place to start!) but the practicality of how it plays out in a parents' life is less clear.  hence, the great need for prayer.

here are a few verses about wisdom that i like that come from the bible.

"so teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom."
[psalm 90:12]

many people float through life, never questioning what comes after.  the reality is, life on earth is like a dot on a line that expands to infinity.  our time here is short, and then there will be another life.

i want to parent with eternity in mind.  i want to number my days on earth (and number my days with my children!) and make each one count towards something significant.  the only eternally significant thing i can do as a parent is be used by God to help my children know God through Jesus' mediating sacrifice for sin, that they too might spend eternity with Him.

"the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, 
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight."
[proverbs 9:10]

the idea of fear encompasses respect, awe, reverence, worship, trust and submission.  what we fear has a great influence on how we live.  fear of the Lord means acknowledging our sin and rebellion against Him, and humbly receiving the gift of Jesus, the only payment for that sin.  fear of the Lord means following jesus, and regularly reading His word so that we know what that looks like practically.  fear of the Lord means getting to relax in His strong arms, knowing that there we are safe.  fear of the Lord also means that He has the greatest influence in our life, and not people.

but often times we do fear people instead of God.  the bible says this:

"the fear of man brings a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe"
[proverbs 29:25]

if i am to be a wise parent, i need to fear the Lord, who is good, and not people or situations.  noted biblical counselor ed welch puts it this way: 
fear in the biblical sense... includes being afraid of someone, but it extends to holding someone in awe, being controlled or mastered by people, worshipping other people, or needing people... the fear of man can be summarized this way: we replace God with people.  instead of a biblically guided fear of the Lord, we fear others... when we are in our teens, it is called "peer pressure".  when we are older, it is called "people-pleasing".

to be a wise parent, i need to fear God more than anything else.  not the "experts" (truth is they all contradict one another anyways!), not my friends, not social workers, not all the well-intending advice-givers who give their multitude of opinions on how to parent (they often contradict as well).  i have often felt pressure to parent a certain way to please others, especially social workers (when we had foster kiddos), strangers at the store looking at me when kiddos are throwing tantrums, and people with strong parenting opinions.

buuut... that being said: 

a wise man is full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
proverbs 24:5

it is good to get advice from wise counselors.  God can use them to guide you well.  just keep in mind that they are not God, so their advice should be secondary to the bible, and make sure you do not fall into the temptation of pleasing them.  also, make sure you are getting advice from wise people (you respect the way they parent and see good things in their kids), and not convenient people (the people you happen to see the most or talk to the most).

i especially am tempted to think that i know it all, especially because of my proclivity to research things.  i can be tempted to think that my head knowledge is better than the years of experience that many around me have.  this is sinful, and i have often been humbled to discover that other, more experienced parents know better (who would have though? :P )

lastly, keep in mind...

"House and wealth are inherited from fathers, 
but a prudent wife is from the LORD."
[proverbs 19:14]

Lord, let this be true of me!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

what i have been watching recently

i love watching/listening to videos while nursing esther, doing housework, etc.  basically, any time i can make use of my brain when my hands are busy :)  i thought i would commend a few of my favorites to you.

wondering how the primary system works?

i find the idea of a caucus a little weird.  i would not want to have to always make my vote public, and having to be at the polling place at a certain time.

what does God have to say about work? monday morning motivation

this is true of paid work and unpaid (ie being a SAH mom).  can't figure out how to embed it, so you can watch it here. 

avoid the one exercise that shrinks your muscles and speeds up aging

cardio (such as running, elliptical machine, spinning) isn't good for your health, especially if you are a woman.  here is an interesting vid from a doctor who breaks it down.

adequate vitamin d levels would get rid of the majority of colds, flu and possibly 2/3rds of cancer

the more i learn about vitamin d, the more time i spend in the sun (one HUGE benefit of so cal)!  here is a great place to start in learning about vitamin d.

jesus storybook bible animated!

jesus storybook bible is prob our favorite kid's bible.  now they have some of the stories animated!  and read in a cool british voice, which obviously makes them automatically 100% better :)

anything about ron paul

here's one you can start with.

at first this one made me mad.  now i just think its hilarious (and the inspiration of this blog title)

ok, i cant resist.  one more.  the establishment is scared, because ron paul will remove the money IV drip.

aaand one of my fave subjects: raw milk

with the owner of our local raw milk dairy farm! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

may i suggest a new year's resolution? shower less. bathe your kids less.

'Shower Curtain' photo (c) 2005, Michael Lehet - license:

i have never been one much for showering and bathing.  when i was a little kid i hated taking a bath and would try to go as long as possible (a week or more!) between baths.  when high school and college came around, i showered just enough to remain reasonably clean and smelling good (maybe 3 times a week or so).

when we got our four foster kiddos, i dutifully instituted nightly bath time.  part of it was for good reason: the kids had experienced so much instability that they needed routine in their life, and bath time soon became their favorite time of day. on the other hand though,  part of it it was because i felt like that was what parents are "supposed" to do.  we kept up nightly baths for six months or so, and then decreased to monday/wednesday/friday baths (bathing four kiddos every night was a lot of work!).

now that esther is around, i usually have to write "bathe esther" on my to-do list.  otherwise, i forget.

but as i learn more, i am becoming more ok with infrequent baths.  there are many reasons it could be better for you, your kids, your wallet and the earth.

save water

a ten minute shower can use anywhere from 25 to 80 gallons of water.  when multiple people in a household shower daily, that can really add up!  not only does saving water save money, but it also helps the earth (especially here in so cal, where we are literally sucking the colorado river dry).

avoid chlorine

tap water contains chlorine, a chemical that is linked to increased risk of cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, lowered sperm count and a weakened immune system.  chlorine is very absorbable through the skin, which may even be worse for the body than drinking the chlorine.  the longer and hotter the shower, the more chlorine your body will absorb.

you can avoid chlorine by getting a shower head with a filter.  we don't have one of these (yet- hopefully soon!) so the next best thing for us is to shower less.

avoid soap chemicals

chlorine is not the only chemical your skin absorbs during a shower.  most shampoo, conditioner and soap is loaded with chemicals known to be toxic.  just like with chlorine, the longer and hotter the shower, the more of the chemicals that are absorbed.  you can check here to learn more about what chemicals are in your health and beauty products, and what their effects are.

these chemicals can be avoided: currently i use the no-poo method, washing my hair with baking soda (scented with good smelling essential oils!) and rinsing with apple cider vinegar.  and i use dr. bronner's castile soap (made from 100% organic oils) for body and face wash (you can also use castile soap for shampoo, but i prefer baking soda).

save time

what could you do with an extra 15 minutes in your day?  whenever you skip a shower, that gives you more time to spend on other things!

better skin

showers dry out your skin.  it is most likely caused by a combination of the hot water, chlorine, and harsh chemicals in soap and shampoo.  to make things worse, the skin produces extra oil to compensate when the natural oils are stripped away.  this usually causes people to feel like they need to shower more, because their skin is so oily.  it becomes a vicious cycle.

when you shower less, your skin retains its natural oils, leading to better feeling skin (especially in the winter).

how often do you shower?  do you notice a difference when you shower more or less?