Happy Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for:

  • my cute rain boots;
  • that my brother has been here with me all week;
  • getting to see Alice, even if just for a night;
  • Skype;
  • that this is the last holiday Kris and I have to spend apart!;
  • only paying $4.26 for a 15 pound turkey;
  • pumpkin pancakes;
  • strong coffee;
  • getting to talk to my family;
  • a community of wonderful YAMs who share in my frustrations and my joys and who can always make me laugh;
  • a day off from work;
  • a place to spend Thanksgiving dinner – with new friends and lots of food!;
  • for my wonderful, ridiculously cute godson Silas (AND his awesome big brother Asher);
  • getting to see friends in California in two weeks!;
  • that my family and fiance both believe in Christmas AFTER Thanksgiving;
  • for my wonderful co-workers;
  • for the ladies at Mary’s Place who continue to inspire me everyday;
  • Thanksgiving Day football!!;
  • funky scarves;
  • that I get to marry the most amazing man in 7 months!;
  • Seattle – I love this city – even when it is cold and rainy,
  • friends who I don’t get to see often, but who love and support me always (Stephanie, Valerie, Leslie, Jan, Stacy, Nathan);
  • having a car for the weekend! (thanks Marty!);
  • blogs – I love the way it keeps us connected and informed;
  • my education;
  • seeing beauty in brokenness and grace in pain;
  • Ingrid Michaelson – her music makes me smile;
  • babies – everyone is having a baby these days, and I am thankful for my friends who have healthy, happy babies;
  • that worship comes in many forms;
  • good books and a comfy blanket;

…there is so much to be thankful for.  I hope you take some time today and everyday to remember what it is that you are thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving All!!

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Busy for the holidays

It has been a crazy busy week.   It seem there is a lot to update about!

  • Kris has 3 days left at work in Lexington!!  I could not be more excited that he is leaving Kentucky.  While there were some good times in Lexington, and there are still some very good friends there, it is time to move on.  And I’m glad that Kris is almost finished.  Kris is in the midst of packing up, so prayers for him please.  He’ll leave Lexington and head to Atlanta for the month of December.  We’ll be together for Christmas in Florida, then back to Seattle together!!  I am SO ready to live in the same city as my man!
  • My little brother is visiting this week!  We’re having a good time goofing around, catching up and exploring Seattle.  Pictures to follow.
  • Life at Mary’s Place is BUSY.  My director warned us that until December 26th, it is just going to be busy and chaotic.  And she was right. Our numbers are up, and tensions are high.  It is a hard time of year for most of the women.  They are seperated from their families and that’s especially hard this time of year.  It’s COLD outside, and WET, and that only adds to the frustration.  We are doing all we can to not only keep the peace, but to provide times of warmth and love for the women as well.
  • One of these instances was on Saturday, for our Annual Thanksgiving Celebration!  We held our celebration at a church up the street, in order to have a little more room.  They have a beautiful chapel where we held our hour long hymn sing with a full band!, and our service.  Our Thanksgiving meal was held in their gym.  The tables were bright and colorful.  The food was amazing.  The volunteers were numerous and incredibly helpful!  We had about 65 volunteers – there were 6 year old boys and 70 year old women there to volunteer their time and share their hearts with the women.  We had about 110 women and children attend the lunch, which we considered a GREAT turnout!  I loved seeing the volunteers hugging the women and calling them by name at the end of the day.  What a beautiful day.
  • I also have some potentially wonderful news to share about Mary’s Place, but that will have to wait till after 2:30pm today. 🙂
  • I’m the turkey lady this year.  Two turkeys in one week.  One I made for the Mary’s Place celebration.  The 2nd I am making on Thursday for our celebration.  I’m gonna be turkey-ed out.  Nah, there’s no such thing!
  • Wedding planning is going well!   We are down into the details, which is a little tedious, but a lot of fun!  I just really can’t wait for June 12th!!  It’s gonna be awesome!

That’s all for now folks.

How time flies

I met Mari not too long after I had started working at Mary’s Place in February.  She came to services on Saturday, and dropped by occasionally during the week.   While not currently homeless, she had been in the past and is still extremely low income.  She’s a sweet lady, quiet, thoughtful.  She is proud of her Native-roots and kind to everyone she meets.  People who know Mari, love Mari.

Not long after I met her, Mari found out she was pregnant.  She had a spirit of quiet excitement.  “This is my last one.  I knew how many children I always wanted, and this little one will finish me off.”   Everyone was so excited for her.  Maryanne, another church-goer, made her a baby blanket.  Another lady brought a sweet little outfit and hoodie for the baby.  There were gifts of diapers, hats and love.  At the beginning of the summer, she informed us it was going to be a boy! Everyone had an opinion for naming the baby.  Mari would just smile, “We have his name picked out.”

Three weeks ago, Mari came into church for the first time in a month.  With her, little baby Sage.  He was bundled up in one of the blankets that just a few months before had been a gift.  Everyone ohhed and awwed at the sweet little baby.  A tiny miracle.  There is nothing like an itty bitty baby to reduce a room full of hardened, weary women into a cooing mess.

It is amazing to me that I have been here long enough to see a non-pregnant woman become a mother.  These last ten months have just flown by.  It is sad to think that there is only 6 months left in this program.  It has truly been a life-changing experience.  I have able to travel the world, work in grassroots organizations, learn about issues in migration and homelessness.  I am a different person than I was 2 1/2 years ago.  A better person, I think.  These last ten months, I have become wholly invested in the work of Mary’s Place and the Church of Mary Magdalene.  So much so that I am not leaving Seattle after my Mission Intern program is finished in the Spring.  I am hoping to stay on with Mary’s Place, but even if that is not possible, I want to stay in this community.  I feel at home here.  I feel a sense of peace in staying that I haven’t felt in a long time.  It feels good to be here, invested, learning, stretching.

Fall

Tell me, is there anything better than having your house smell like fresh laundry and chocolate chip pumpkin muffins?  Cause I really don’t think so.

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A cooking post

So I got the wild idea to try and make falafels last night.  Does anyone remember the last time I tried to make falafels?  It was nothing short of a (hilarious) disaster!  So what did I do differently this time?  Well, there was no Joe, and I had a recipe.  And it worked!

n100500669_30197134_2353 <— Joe and I during our failed attempt at making Falafels

I didn’t have my own food processor, and I realized very quickly that a hand mixer wasn’t going to work on chickpeas.  (who know, chickpeas can fly!)  I borrowed my landlords blender (next best thing, though not ideal) and went to work.  It is a pretty simple recipe, that I got from my favorite site, allrecipes.com  You simply puree 2 cups of chickpeas, then add 4 cloves of sliced garlic, 3 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 chopped green onion, 1 large onion cut in chunks, 1 egg, 1/4 tsp. ground coriander, 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, and 1 tblspn. soy sauce.  Mix all of the ingrediants together.  I also added a large handful of breadcrums, to help the balls stick together while cooking.

101_5391 <— all blended and ready to cook!

Form the mix into balls and in a hot skillet with 1 tblspn of corn oil cook till brown on all sides.

101_5389 <—they look nicely formed now, but they didn’t all come out this way

Now, the process of cooking and turning would probably be a little easier with tongs, rather than a spoon.  So they didn’t come out as perfectly shaped balls, but oblong falafels taste just as yummy!

To go with my meal, I decided to also make black bean hummus.  Another real simple recipe from the same website.  Just take 1 cup of black beans, 1 cup of chickpeas, 1 tblspn. olive oil, 2 tblspn. lemon juice, 2 tblspn. greek yogurt, 2 tblspn. water and 2 cloves of roughly chopped garlic.  Puree.  Season with 1 1/2 tspn. curry powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Blend again.  Cover and chill before serving.

101_5392 <— I don’t have any pictures of the process, but here is this finished product

My only regret was not having a food processor.  While the blender worked, it was difficult, and cost more time than I had wanted.  (I was hungry!)  So I would recommend definitely using a food processor if you have one.  If not, only blend a quarter  of the chickpeas at a time, so they don’t get stuck under the blades.

The final product?  Falfels stuffed in warm pitas with spinach and greek yogurt. I topped the black bean hummus with feta cheese and served with diced red and yellow peppers.  Delicious!

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A wedding update

Last weekend I flew out (yes, yet another trip) to Atlanta in search of a wedding dress.

Now before you find me guilty of dress-searching obsession or some other ridiculousness, let me explain.   I had originally wanted my mother to come out here to Seattle to come dress shopping with me.  But she managed to convince me (by helping to pay for my plane ticket) that Atlanta would be more fun because we could involve my sister, aunts and cousin.  And she was right.

I don’t feel like I have to say this again, but I will.  I am not a girly girl.  I’m not frilly, and I don’t typically get excited about shopping.  The one dress I own, I typically wear with pants underneath. (no joke – it’s super cute too, all hippie style!)  It also probably does not need to be restated that my sister and I have very different tastes in….well, pretty much everything.  The joke has always been that while she is “pinks and polka dots,” I’m “earth-tones.”

But for all of our stylistic differences, it was a wonderful weekend.  I adore my family.   We always have a good time together.  My aunts are hilarious and just feed off each other.  And it is always a comforting feeling to be at my Aunt Gayle’s house – it feels like home.  They were all good sports, letting me search for what I needed, listening to what I envisioned (which mostly included, “No bedazzled, no butt bows and no lace!”).  My sister only made me try on one frilly dress, though my mom pulled a couple frilled and beaded dresses.  After 3 stores and about 40 dresses, I found a dress!!  It is beautiful.  And it is true, what they say.  When you try it on, you just know. It’s very weird.  I had tried on many many dresses over the course of two days, and though I liked a few of them more than others, there wasn’t one dress I was attached overly attached to.  None of them made me cry.  I thought that I had maybe actually broken my curse.  But then, at the last shop, in the last dress, I walked out and stood in front of that mirror.  I could see reflections of my female family members behind me.  As I caught my own gaze in the mirror, tears sprung to my eyes.  Dammit.  Curse is still there.  But that’s okay, because I got a dress.

In other wedding news, things are falling into place.  We have a date (June 12th!); we have a location; we have a photographer; and now I have a dress!  There are still a lot more checks to make on my list, but it’s getting there!! 🙂

Women In Black Vigil

Every time a homeless person is found dead outside or dies by violence in King County, WHEEL (a homeless women’s organizing effort) and the Church of Mary Magdalene (an ecumenical day ministry) mobilize for our silent witnessing vigil called Women in Black. On Wednesday, November 4th, we will stand for two new homeless deaths. The people we will honor and remember are:

  • Rulon Smith, 55, who died by suicide (gunshot wound) in North Bend on 9/27;
  • Lance Loder, 58, who died by suicide (from the Aurora Bridge) on 10/6. 

Our hearts go out to their friends and family.

The nubmer of homeless deaths outside or by violence this year now stands at 34.  Eight of these deaths have been suicide.  Women in Black consider this to be a public health crisis!  We are very concerned about all of these deaths, the horrible causes of death (suicide, being run over by cars and trains, murder) and the lack of available shelter. Without shelter and loving community, people die. This is exactly why Nickelsville and other day/night shelters are so desperately needed.

(Taken from the Women in Black press release)