Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Write a Will (#9)

It's something I've been putting off for, well, all my life. But, next Monday, I'm heading to Arizona for a week without my family, and it seemed like something that I really ought to do before I go. So, thanks to JT's advice shared via her sister who is in law school, I sat down to write my will. Evidently, the easiest way to do this in the state of NC is to handwrite the document. This worked for me--simple and free. It was actually emotionally easier to do than I thought it would be. I hesitated when I wrote the part asking to be cremated...I'm generally uneasy about the idea of cremation, however, I'm equally uneasy about the idea of being embalmed and taking up space in a cemetery. I think my uneasiness stems from a childhood idea that if I was cremated, when Jesus came back, I wouldn't have a body to be resurrected. Yet, I had to reckon with the fact that if I believe He created the whole universe, He's got it together to resurrect my ashes. The other sticky point for me was figuring out what we'd want with our assets if all five of us were to die at the same time or from the same accident. At any rate, the will is finished, at least the first draft. Whew.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Letter to Granddad (#58)

Granddad is my Dad's father. He's 92 and (seriously) lives off whole milk, Hershey's bars, and butter. Until the past few years, he also enjoyed red meat and ice cream on a daily basis. After a visit to his house, I sometimes wonder if I'm doing everything wrong...avoiding meat and fat, choosing vegetables and grains. :)

While his body is starting to slow down, his mind remains in tact. In his nineties, Granddad has started writing and self-publishing books. He really enjoys pursuing that passion. And it truly is a pursuit, because Granddad is nearly blind. Yet he still works to be able to use his computer on a daily basis.

And Granddad is a character. He loves talk radio and discussing politics. He reads his Bible cover to cover every year. He's been growing that beard since I was in high school, so for about 20 years. My husband thinks he looks a little like Moses.

Something that also makes him a good character (per my Don Miller influence), is his story. In his young adulthood, Granddad was an alcoholic. I never saw it, but from the stories I have heard, it wasn't pretty. He also lost his first wife, my Grandma Jane, to an ugly battle with cancer. But in the aftermath of that, he allowed himself to know Jesus' love, gave his heart to to God, and never took another drink. He really is an inspiration in that regard.

Because Granddad is my oldest living grandparent (and because he took a potentially serious fall last weekend), I decided to make his letter my first one. While the content of that letter is private, it included thanks to him for his constant encouragement to me to pursue God's love for me, even when a relationship with the Lord was the last thing on my mind.

Thanks for who you are, Granddad. My world is more colorful because you are a part of it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Maple Soy Glazed Salmon (#14)

I'm a mostly vegetarian.

My one exception is that I eat fish occasionally. I do so because 1) sometimes I am lazy, 2) I like fish, 3) when someone invites you over for supper and gives you these wide eyes after you say "I'm a vegetarian," it helps so much to be able to follow it up with "but I will eat fish" and you see the relief wash over them because they had no idea what they could cook that was vegetarian.

Friday night I was feeling lazy. I didn't want to chop veggies for an hour to make something for supper. So, I pulled out some frozen salmon and took the opportunity to discover a new recipe. Oh, I am so glad I did!

The Maple-Soy Glazed Salmon was delish & easy to prepare. Per some reviewers suggestions, I added some minced garlic and ginger. And to be honest, I left out the lime zest and chives, because I just forgot. My husband JH and I loved this fish! I served it with baked potatoes and sauteed green beans with toasted almond slivers. This recipe will be added to the regular rotation, for sure!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Reviews (#90)

I've finished a couple books recently. Both were really engaging & have me thinking.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
This book inspired the title for this blog. Written by the author of the widely-read memoir Blue Like Jazz, this book is a look-back at the author's life after he has been approached to make a movie of his life, based on his hit book. The film-makers, however, assess that the "real" Don doesn't have a life story that is compelling enough to make a film about. He sets out to change that.

The feeling I had with this book was that it was like drinking a smoothie. It contained a lot of things that were really good for me, but was easy to take in and digest. Miller deals with all kinds of complex issues...parent-child relationships, crisis of identity, spiritual faith and disappointment, friendship, the proper place for work in our lives, how we see ourselves, existential angst...yet he does so in such a way that it isn't overwhelming or heavy. Rather, it pulls you in and has you asking yourself questions about your life and the story it is telling. Miller is funny and witty, but in an unassuming way. It's easy to feel like he's your buddy.

If I have a criticism about the book, its that I feel like the impact of his faith on his life is understated in this book, having read Blue Like Jazz. He discusses his Christian faith in A Million Miles, but so much less so than in Blue. I longed to know more about how his faith informed the snippets of story he was telling, because that was what was so compelling to me about the other book. But overall, I loved it and definitely recommend it.

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman
I heard about this book on NPR and then it was recommended to me by my sister-in-law, Rachel. I'm an admitted social science geek, as well as a former early childhood ed professional, so this book was right up my alley. The book examines several widely-help cultural beliefs about childrens' development and then explores the science behind those beliefs--debunking many "common sense" thoughts about what is best for kids. The authors take on the ideas that educational programming on TV promotes less aggression than more violent TV shows, that teens who are actively engaged in extra-curriculars get into less trouble, that exposing kids to a variety of activities so they are well-rounded is more important getting more sleep, why kids lie, how kids learn about racial issues, why siblings fight, how praise actually effects kids, and more.

I want every one of my friends who is a parent or is thinking about becoming a parent to read this book. Seriously. Though it is a social science book, it's not overly technical and is accessible. It really shakes up what you think is "best" for your kid. I think most people want to do their best for their kids. This book will help you channel that desire in more effective ways and help steer you from things you think are good for them that may actually have a negative effect on them. Read this book--you won't be sorry you did.