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Showing posts from December, 2010

Advent Failure/Christmastide Success

So this year was going to be the year that our household went full throttle on Advent traditions. I planned the advent calendar. I planned the advent wreath. I planned the advent meals and fastings and weaving in all sorts of historic advent traditions. And then we did none of that. I was so busy and stressed (a good kind of stress) from getting used to new work hours, the commute and the job itself that I just couldn’t work up the energy to go gangbusters on Advent. The opportunities passed us by. We didn’t even have time to go to but one small Christmas party.As far as Christmastide (i.e. the 12 days of Christmas which begin Christmas day and go through January 5th) and the Epiphany, we typically celebrate on Christmas day with the traditional presents and meal with family/friends and then hold an epiphany dinner on the 6th of January. The Epiphany Feast celebrates the coming of the Magi to the Christ Child.This year I indulged in more research on the traditional celebrations of Adv…

Yoga and the Christian Walk

I don’t subscribe to the common thinking surrounding the practice of yoga. Some eastern religious traditions use yoga in an attempt to empty the mind and quiet the thoughts. There is nothing in our Christian tradition that validates this as a desirable goal. God created us as active thinkers, not passive vessels that need to be emptied. There is no model of mind emptying in our scriptures and attempting to empty the mind leaves one more susceptible to brainwashing.In India, yoga is prescribed as a method to facilitate communication with the Hindu gods. As Christians we are explicitly  told to abandon the worship of false Gods and turn to the one true God only.Many new age philosophy adherents claim that regardless of attempts to empty the mind or fix it on the supernatural during yoga, just by putting the body in certain postures and breathing in certain ways can open the physical body up to other dimensions/spiritual realms. This spiritual awakening is why they turn to yoga. A portio…

2011: The Year of the Written Letter

I’ve decided that 2011 shall be the year of the written letter in my household. I used to write cards and letters frequently because I enjoyed crafting special correspondence reminding friends and family they are loved and thought of and also because I loved the art of writing itself. Somewhere along the way I abandoned this pursuit as email became widespread in the mid 90s and evite.com came on board to offer electronic invitations. I think there is something of value in hand written letters. I lost this ‘something’ by turning my back on letter writing and I aim to pull it back into my life in 2011. What I look to gain:1. A sort of quiet peace as the pace of conversation must ebb and flow with the postal schedule.2. A sense of directed thoughtfulness as each letter represents time focused on specific friends and family. 3. A reconnection with the physical pleasures of writing: choosing beautiful papers and writing instruments (I collect Italian glass pens among others), decorating th…

On Consulting

I promised more details on my new job and so here we are. I work for CSC as a Senior Consultant for their Federal Consulting Practice (FCP). In some instances, I may consult on projects the FCP has negotiated directly with the US government, but typically I am asked to step in on federal govt projects that CSC’s North American Public Sector (NPS) is already managing.  This means at a practical level that I consult to one division of CSC on behalf of another division of CSC. CSC is a very large company (92,000+ employees) and it has fashioned itself into several divisions to handle different market segments. For example, it has a large division devoted to commercial work both domestic and abroad. It also has a major division devoted to US government work. This division or entity provides services to the US government under contract. The FCP division was created to maintain a pool of expertise to drop in to NPS projects as needed. This benefits the company to keep a supply of techie-gee…

Putting the Pieces Together

Prior to the start of my new job, I had a somewhat regular daily routine established. Mornings I’d wake up and after getting groomed and dressed, check email/facebook and then sit down with my bible to go over my morning devotional. Then breakfast, downstairs at the table. Work would follow punctuated with errands and projects. Afternoons meant lunch in front of the tv watching Law and Order reruns and then cleaning occasionally. After that I’d exercise, shower and start dinner. Sometimes I’d remember to do evening devotionals, sometimes not. Every 2 weeks I’d borrow a work afternoon to do finances and carve out time to grocery shop. So I started working for CSC and all hell broke loose with my new schedule. The first week just the stress of getting up at O’dark o’clock (4:30AM!) was enough to exhaust me. Add in new trainings on the job, new people to meet, new tasks to do/learn and the general anxiety of wanting to make an excellent first impression and GAH. In the mornings I was to …

Books

With my new job comes a new daily commute to/from DC on the VRE train. One hour and ten minutes in each direction which approximates to three novels a week. This month the best things I’ve read include:The LamentsThe Year of Magical ThinkingThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel SocietyThe Girl Who Played With FireLaments told the story of a family continuously replanting themselves; always searching for something to satisfy. Along the way we come to know the characters in depth. Rich in plot and character development, I really enjoyed the text.Year of Magical Thinking is a non-fiction account of writer Joan Didion’s grief experience after her husband (also a writer) unexpectedly died. I learned a lot about sadness and longing from her piece. Guernsey is a fictionalized WW2 tale  centering on one of the Channel islands. It speaks to the impact of war and terror on a community and on strangers. I found it to be a moving story and learned a bit more about the war in the process.Girl is t…

Person Y

I can’t even give Person Y a gender descriptor such as Mr. or Ms. I can only report that Person Y was confirmed alive on Tuesday when I saw them last and is likely mentally ill based on the evidence laid out before me. Evidence: several wool blankets piled on top of Person Y as they slept on the sidewalk in DC. Our capital has an open door law which requires all shelters to take in every walk in when the temp dips below freezing. No one can be denied and if space runs out the district will open reserved emergency space in other public buildings. Shelter reps and other concerned residents do regular sweeps in the evenings and transport any homeless willing to go to the shelters. There is also a hypothermia hotline to report folks you see in the cold. Result: the only people remaining on the streets are those who actively refuse to go to the shelter or walk away from them. And in those cases the caring are left to only drape them with wool blankets and move on. Refusing shelter when it’…

Mr. X

“You can’t save the world Jenni”. This is what Jon said to me recently when I told him my offer to Mr. X was rebuffed. Mr. X is currently sleeping his nights at the Manassas VRE station, in the waiting lobby. A buffer from the cold, the lobby is perhaps 50-55 degrees. The outside temps are in the low to mid 20s this week. I met Mr. x last week while I lulled about waiting for the 5:50am train to DC for work. He sat on one of the benches staring straight ahead. We exchanged a friendly hello and a smile. I saw him again the next morning but he was slumped over sound asleep and I didn’t want to disturb him. When I got to work that morning I called our church. “What can we do for him?”, I asked. “Is there a shelter I can take him to?” Answer: no. There is only one shelter in Manassas and it’s over capacity and not accepting new walk-ins. Our church used to put the homeless up in hotels but after a few got destructive the local hotels barred the practice. I was certainly hesitant to bring …

Ruining Children

(written on Sat 12/18/10)Today I felt rude and stabby as I waited for my shuttle bus outside MCO (Orlando airport). 30 minute wait. Argh. Maybe it was the wait that was agitating me most, maybe it was the dreary rain or maybe it was just leftover bitterness from my brush with the older woman at DCA this morning who was extremely rude to me while we waited for our plane. I should have confronted her perhaps. In any case I was cranky. And then, as it typical, my inner voice reminds me it is my civic and spiritual duty to be kind to others even when I don’t feel like it. Manners are a simple expression of love for others. Suddenly with this thought I am pulled back to the time I explained this concept of love-as-demonstrated-through-manners to a particularly unruly child at church once. A child with a difficult home life who had likely never seen good manners modeled for him at home. Now I panicked – had I, in that moment, been the stranger who confirmed for him with one casual sentence …

Christmas is Around the Corner

First there was the season of advent, and soon the season of Christmas will be here. Joy to the world!
Although the secular market is ready to put the holiday away after the capitalist consumption has culminated in unwrapped presents on the 25th, the holiday traditionally lasts for a much longer period of celebration. This year our household will celebrate the full 12 days of Christmas (begins on Christmas day and is capped with the epiphany). I encourage you and yours to do the same and keep the focus on Christ our savior. This will be a time of shared dinners with friends for me and little ways to make each of the 12 days memorable. Perhaps a party as well.

Swiss Chard and Parsnip Soup

Adapted from a recipe of the same name published in Oxygen Magazine in June 2010. My version adds white wine, spices and a bit of butter. Made this for dinner last night and it was fabulous. A really good way to sneak in greens for husbands/kids who are anti-veggie. Over 100% of vitamin A and over 600% of vitamin K. Fantastic!2 T olive oil1 large onion, chopped2 cloves garlic, minced1/2 cup white wine2 T butter3 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced4 cups chicken stock1 bunch Swiss chard, rinsed, stems trimmed, chopped2 T balsamic vinegar1/2 cup skim milk1 tsp caraway seed1/2 tsp ground celery seedsea salt and pepper to taste1. Salt the onions and saute them in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Remember to heat the pan first, then add the oil, then add the onions once the oil is hot.2. Add garlic and parsnips and saute for 5 minutes or until parsnips are golden. Add wine and cook until most of wine is evaporated. Add butter.3. Add stock then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer f…