what would jesus buy?

the title of this movie intrigues me…
especially working in retail management.
especially quickly approaching holiday and the shopping season in the retail context.
especially since i am personally attempting to coordinate my theology and culture.

so i went to see this screening at the city of angels film festival with some friends who are also interested in the interplay of theology and culture…each from a different perspective. none of us were disappointed.

it was challenging (and still is as i just begin to process what i saw, what i heard, and what i had already known)…
and it was funny (in fact, i thought the actual storyline was joke throughout the entire movie).

on to the movie.

at the outset, the narrator said (or something to this effect) “each week people enter places of worship” as numerous visual depictions of shopping malls flashed the screen.

    what constitutes a place of worship?
    what does one do at a place of worship?
    and do i consider shopping idolatry…
    or even visiting a shopping mall an act of idolatry?

    the movie, which is actually a documentary, was a montage of various mediums all centering around the storyline of reverend billy and the church of stop shopping. for real…i didn’t realize this guy was an actual preacher (thought he was fictitious with his bleach blonde, tv evangelist, hairsprayed hair), nor did i believe this church was an actual community until the panel discussion afterwards. the movie followed the church’s story and followed their 30 day gospel choir tour across the u.s.

    this stop shopping campaign may seem a bit extreme…especially in our american, consumeristic culture.
    which is precisely the point.

    we know you cannot stop shopping, but you can have a conscience about your shopping. think about how it affects other people.
    ~quote by one member of the stop shopping church (fairly certain it was savitri d., the wife of rev billy).

    brings up a good point…responsible shopping. and the documentary shifted focus there…and that is where it hit home with me personally as well.

    some means of praxis:
    •check out the website: www.responsibleshopper.org or even perform a search on the company or product in question.
    •buy commodities made in u.s.a.
    •buy local.
    •ask yourself these questions when shopping:
    why am i here?
    do i need this?
    how will i pay for this?
    where will we put it?
    what would happen if i wait?
    these seem like very helpful questions for me to ask next time i enter a store to shop…for something i most likely do not need or did not intend to purchase.



i put on my ipod, turn up the volume, pick up the hand weights, and begin to workout…listening to the latest podcast from mars hill, a church located in grand rapids. within the first 5 minutes charlie and kim were invited to share their story…their story of second marriages, of 5 adopted kids, and of miracles.

we are proof positive that what satan meant for evil with brokenness, god has kind of taken kim and i and put us back together and taken all these other broken, castaway pieces of humanity and made this beautiful mosaic called a family.
~charlie, sharing his story at mars hill service on october 28, 2007.

what a view…
what a perspective…

god doesn’t cause us to be broken people; we just are.
god doesn’t desire for us to remain broken; we just sometimes do.
many reasons why…
don’t want to change.
don’t think we can.
don’t want to make the effort.

but charlie and kim’s story is one of wholeness and healing the broken.
it is a story of restoration.
it is a story of newness–new life not only for charlie and kim in their marriage to one another, but new life for each of their 5 adopted kids.
it is a story i needed to hear today.

we all have a story to tell.
we all have a miracle to share.
we all are broken tiles awaiting the master to create a mosaic of our lives.
we all desire to see the beauty in the broken.


DSCN5513southern cooking…

in the american south, cast-iron pots and pans are often regarded as family heirlooms, passed from one generation of cooks to the next. sharing the traditions of old-fashioned cooking and proud local roots, le creuset enameled cast-iron cookware is still handcrafted at the original french village factory, where each piece is individually made and finished by hand. designed to last a lifetime, this iconic cookware is ideal for preparing classic southern recipes–from crispy fried chicken to slow-simmered stews.
~visual advertisement for williams sonoma.


no wonder i love le creuset…reminds me of granny’s cast-iron.
DSCN5519 DSCN5521

love the cast-iron that i saw my granny cook with–cornbread, creamed corn, fried okra, hoe cakes.

love that growing up i didn’t know cast-iron had to be seasoned because granny’s were already well-seasoned.

love that i still have her cast-iron skillets, muffin pan, and corn stick pan…ones that she used to cook with while mom was growing up, then when i was growing up (how many lifetimes does cast-iron last?).

love that they are heirlooms, passed down from my granny to me (love that when mom, aunts, cousins, and i were going through stuff at her house after her funeral i found the treasure–the cast-iron muffin pan that was hidden underneath the bed).

love that it does communicate tradition, old-fashioned cooking (or just plain southern cooking…good ol’ deep south cooking) and proud local roots (definitely got those…especially since moving to california).

love that they are, indeed, ideal for typical southern recipes (when i tell someone what they can cook in the le creuset, all i can think of are southern recipes…chicken pot pie, peach cobbler, macaroni ‘n cheese, black-eyed peas, turnip greens).
love it because it reminds me of the south, of tradition, of home, and of family.

letting go.

makes me think of that cheesy country song with the same title about a girl packing up to go off to college. it’s the line that always catches my attention “it’s never easy, letting go”…maybe it is a bit cheesy, but true nonetheless.

letting go.
i have seen these words in a different context lately.

a conversation i had with dad while he was visiting about my next step in life–the much anticipated, although somewhat dreaded question of what to do after graduation in june. a conversation where i told him i did not plan on moving back home, or even close to home. this is not a new conversation–one i have had several times with friends here, friends back home, or even with family over the phone. but i feel like it was the first one i have had face-to-face with someone from my family–someone whom heard it uttered was heart-broken, someone who uttered it torn apart as well. the conversation just seemed to stop.

for me i had this one thought: letting go.
and the questions that immediately followed…
what would that entail?
what would that look like?
what would that mean?
how would i handle it?
how would my family handle it?

never easy…letting go.

and it hasn’t been easy thinking about since.

this theme has been surfacing in others areas of my life as well lately.
thinking of letting go of friendships–those from back home, those i have met in seminary that i will leave behind in june, those from work that will inevitably end, and those relationships that are given up for one reason or another either voluntarily or involuntarily.

they’re never easy…letting go.

letting go of expectations,
of dreams,
of future plans,
of what might have been,
of people who have been significant in your life.

it’s never easy…letting go.

it is hard to think about…hard to process. almost too much at once for me emotionally. so many changes, so many consequences, so many uncertainties.
so many memories–both old ones and ones in the minutes making.
and the impact is hard to imagine.

sometimes it seems like it is for the best.
sometimes you don’t know until you take that first step.
sometimes you question as you go…and continue to as you walk away.
sometimes you never know.

it’s never easy…letting go.


happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.
~mildred barthel, author

happiness is, indeed, not dependent on my circumstances…as i oftentimes suppose.
it is not reliant upon…
how my day goes,
other’s response towards me,
or how i feel.

it is a choice.

i can choose to focus on the positive, rather than dwell on the negative.
i can choose to overlook things, rather than obsessing about them.
i can choose to forgive and forget, rather than harbor bitterness and resentment.
i can choose to see there is another way, rather than wondering why things didn’t go my way.
i can choose to be content and satisfied in my present state, rather than longing for grass to be greener on my side.

i have a choice.

i can choose to be happy, despite…
my circumstances,
my present situation,
my feelings,
my ultimate longings.

saying good-bye.

never easy…
never gets easier…
never without a tearful last glance…

i sit writing this blog, listening to dad breathe just a few feet away…as i have heard him do each night for the past 4 nights as i update the world on our adventures for the day while he is sleeping.
there has been no time apart these past 4 days–no solitude, no alone time.
so tomorrow, when i leave dad at the airport with tears in my eyes (and i am sure they will be streaming down my face even as they are now in anticipation) and walk away, it will be the first time of non-togetherness time we have had since wednesday when i met him at baggage claim.

i am sure it will be good for us to both resume our “normal” lives, get back to a schedule, and not have someone so dependent on us…but i will miss it.

DSCN6528 i will miss having dad navigate me along the journey…even telling me when i need to get gas, even when i have 3/4 of a tank full, even though he has told me 3 times in the last 5 minutes.

i will miss having dad wash my windshield each time we stop at a gas station…even though i just washed it automatically with the fluid and washers as i was driving.

DSCN6352 i will miss having dad to share all my meals with, telling me what looks good on the menu and what i should try.

DSCN6153 i will miss having dad to make plans with, to share adventures with, and to chart new territories with.

i will miss having dad ask me questions that make me think, make me uncomfortable (in a good way), and make me voice the answers.

DSCN6509 i will miss having dad here beside me…his presence, his conversation, his advice, his support, and his love.

so hard to think about going back to “life as normal” when it has been so refreshing to have dad here. i know tomorrow will be hard as i must say “good-bye” for now, dad.
DSCN6383 i have loved having you here!

worth the wait.

williams sonoma was my first detour off the 101 on the trek home.
the other took us a little farther from our path, led us to yet another freeway, a good 30 minute wait (ok, maybe it was more like 45 minutes), followed by an hour long journey to get back on the freeway.

was it worth it?
hard to say, but i wanted dad to have a taste of sprinkles.
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he had tasted the homemade, come-in-a-can mix sold from none other than williams sonoma but i wanted him to have the experience…long line and all.
DSCN6538 DSCN6536

i am not much for delayed gratification.
i had waited behind the 50+ people ahead of us in line, endured the longing for my strawberry cupcake for months now, and i wasn’t wasting any time sticking my sprinkles-labeled wooden fork into my pink cupcake as we pulled away from the curb.
dad, on the otherhand, could not fully enjoy his cupcake until just before bedtime, when he was finally out of traffic, unleashed of his navigator duties.

oh, how it was not worth it…
but spending time, making memories, and experiencing life with dad…
totally worth the wait! DSCN6543