Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shawna's passionate trip to South Africa :)

Hi Kajij’s it’s my turn to write about my passions and interests, and I’ll do so in the context of my recent trip to Durban, South Africa. When it comes to knowing myself, I’ve found that I’m actually a little like Dori from Finding Nemo who’s always forgetting everything. So this has been another great opportunity to re-re-re-discover what God’s placed in my heart, the way he’s wired me. I will say that overall I think that I have maybe only a couple overarching passions but almost a list of “things I want to do while I’m alive” which we kind of talked about at Michelle’s last time. One overarching passion is about economy and getting the most out of every situation, so maybe that will come through as I write about these other interests on my check list of life.

So the trip in itself related to a major thing that I want to do sometime. I’ve got a book on my shelf from college that a leader in a Christian Fellowship lent me (Kim - don’t tell Evan!) called “Working Your Way to the Nations”. It’s about the concept of “tent making”, using your profession to get to other parts of the world to spread the kingdom of God. I liked the idea of using what I’d learned in school in this way (see that economy thing?). I studied Biology and I originally wanted to do field studies in some other area of the world. However, when I decided to get married to Brian I wasn’t sure how that whole interest would play out, it’s hard to make something like that work as a newlywed. However, it just so happens that Brian also has the same interest. Enter his company, Turbocam, and the potential start of a new division in South Africa. Our whole trip this past February was to get a glimpse of what life was like there and to “hear from God” about whether this was a move we should make or not.

We were only on the ground for seven days so we had to be selective in what we did. My top two priorities were to visit a local church plant in the same family of churches as our church in NH and to visit the Botanical Gardens in Durban. The rest of the time we spent on the beach, replacing lost luggage, going to the aquarium, visiting a township with a team to teach a life-skills lesson at a school, and overall just enjoying each others company.

Brian and I are passionate about serving in local churches and so if we were to move there we’d need to feel in agreement with the vision and direction of the local church (it’s hard to find words for this, we’d have to “click”, or something), like we could be a part of what they were already doing. The church we visited is just newly formed, it was great to be able to visit on a Sunday for their meeting, go to a homegroup mid-week and also have dinner with the family leading the plant. We came away with the sense that it was definitely something that we could join up with. They’ve got a vision to see a truly multi-ethnic body formed and it’s already happening. I’ll mention one thing related to my passions that I discovered through the experience of visiting the church. Although there was a great diversity in nationalities represented, I actually felt sad as we were worshiping because there was very little diversity in terms of economic status. I missed the poor. To me everyone seemed either pretty middle class or a student at the local university. I found myself fantasizing about sending a passionate homeless person on a missions trip because God’s given them things to share around the world too. I think the experience caused me to re-realize how much I value being around the poor. In South Africa there are plenty of poor, they are in fact much poorer than here in the US, it’s amazing really the difference. After talking with the couple leading the church I know that their heart is to see them included as well.

One morning while Brian was exploring a potential work connection I went to the Botanical Gardens, my second priority. I absolutely love plants and could spend tons of time studying the tiny differences that make them technically different from each other. My primary goal at the Gardens was to determine if the Herbarium needed any volunteers. That’s where they store all the pressed plant samples for comparison in these huge upright filing cabinets. It’s one of the things my list to do while I’m alive - to work/volunteer in one (actually being able to help collect the plants in the field would be an off the charts experience, in my book). I was able to connect with a helpful individual there who said that there were plenty of volunteer opportunities. Yeah! After determining that, I just wandered around the gardens marveling in the fact that these cool tropical plants were actually native there. I think that plants just tell so much of God’s creativity, studying them, in my experience has lead to worshiping Him.

I probably should wrap this up – this is a just little snap shot of what I’m passionate about. I actually don’t know if the opportunity in South Africa will work out at this point. The question lies more with the actual business potential rather than our hearts to be involved. I believe that at the right time God will provide opportunities to do these things I’ve mentioned and I’m looking for them, and waiting for them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Three Passions

Thank you Erin for holding my hand as I make my debut in Bloggersphere. While brevity is most definitely not my gift, it is currently required of me tonight, as my three children are alternately playing adorably and squabbling annoyingly around me. I ask for forgiveness in advance for any lack of coherency and potential non-sequiters, as interruptions are the rhythm of my life right now.
So, passions....Well, I am grateful to have three primary passions at the moment. It was so interesting to read the history of Michelle's admirable passions. I won't get into my childhood passions because they were quite simple, yet essential. I basically desired love and acceptance, which are tantamount, I believe is paramount to pursuing more mature, other-focused passions. This passion was met and continues to be through Christ and the way He works in my life and those around me. Now I can attend to secondary, perhaps productive passions.
I am passionate about my children. I recognize, more deeply at certain times than others, that my mothering is about forming, shaping and nurturing a soul for eternity. Because it fulfills me so much, it is a passion. I often reflect on our family patterns, i.e., T.V. watching habits, dress, patterns of communication, and how we spend our time and money. I am satisfied with some of these domains and less than satisfied with others. Secretly, I get an occasional fear that I am raising geeks, as I don't allow much T.V., I wear the same clothes all the time, and am trying to teach some counter cultural ways of responding to life. I ask myself whether it would be safer to raise geeks or culturally "normal" kids, and I have come to the conclusion, along with my husband, that it's better to risk the former than the latter. But hopefully my kids will relate well to people in the culture without completely and personally identifying with it.
A subpassion of this mothering passion is homeschooling. I may lie awake at night thinking of cool projects and how to teach academic curriculum. I also fantasize, if you will, about how to help my children be imitators of Christ. This is by no means an obsession because I am so often an imitator of non-Christ-like behavior. Thank God that He can use both my good and bad examples.
Okay, picking up the pace as Fin crawls on me. Second passion is music, specifically singing. I feel that this is my most recognizable God given gift. I have not cultivated it, I just have it. In my vanity I would rather be a soloist than join a choir, although both are enjoyable. Ashamedly, have not used this gift as much as I could, but I haven't given up hope. I've sung at many, many weddings, a funeral, and my all time favorite, and truly one of my fondest life memories thus far, the subway with my friend Dom. So a New Year's resolution, about which I am still resolved, is to make a CD with him and distribute in hopes of getting some paying gigs. I can no longer tutor with the three children, but could do an occasional gig and have done many free gigs, to which I'm still open. It's the sheer thrill of singing and being transported. Sorry, sounds a bit New Agey, but it's the best way to describe it.
Third, is to be either a politician (unlike Michelle, this is a very new / recent passion) or a Catholic/Christian apologist. Having gone to a very liberal college and being VERY new in my faith (Junior year of college overseas) while there, I felt challenged to have sound reasons for my faith. I feel so strongly about this and have been dismissed before I could even articulate any stance. I feel passionate about my world view being true, versus true for me and pursuing this in order to have a satisfied mind. I feel passionate about the inanity of the abortion minded culture and the scientific basis for a pro-life view. Thankfully, I've had a chance to read a bit about this. Unfortunatley, I have not read people like G.K. Chesterton, Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, Augustine, etc.
Okay, you get the gist and I obviously did not meet my requirement, as there is a spilt bag of carrots and scattered flax seed on the floor and a broken egg on the counter. Should be cleaned up by Friday:).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Michelle's passions

Hello, Ladies
Let me first clearly state that I am totally intimidated by this blog posting so clearly writing for others to read is NOT a passion of mine. However, given how much I have been blessed to date by other postings, I am obliged, per Crystal's request, to write a bit about myself and my passions.

Throughout my life there have been some steadfast passions, and some fleeting.

The fleeting one's have included politics - I actually desired to be the first woman president at one point in my life! I even went to George Washington University so I could be only a few blocks from the White House. From there I delved into foreign languages, studied abroad in Russia, dated foreign men (even became engaged to one from South Africa) and studied hard to take the Foreign Service exam to become a diplomat and live overseas.

But, alas, I am a simple, Christian, farm girl from Southern Maine and none of those temporary passions managed to withstand my desire to follow God's will for my life. As of late, I feel my life has come full circle in terms of "passions." I have always put family as a priority in my life and now, more than ever, I am realizing the passion I have for family. Maybe its because my nuclear family broke down in my early years - my parents divorced when I was 10 - and I was somewhat left to help raise my two younger brothers, 7 and 2 yrs old at the time. I took on the role of co-parenting with my Dad happily and willingly from a very young age and have never resented a minute of it - although my brothers might think differently.

Maybe I took to it so willingly because I have always felt the strong God-given desire to have my own family. Now that I have started one with my husband, I feel my life is finally given the true meaning I searched for far and wide. We are now happily residing in Southern Maine and have no desire to ever leave - unless that perfect temporary overseas assignment pops up!

Now I'll cut to the chase and identify some current passions that drive me on a day to day basis.

Naturally, growing up on a farm helped me develop a taste & love for every kind of vegetable my Dad grew, but until now, I have never appreciated the power that the fruits of his labor have on our well being. The last couple years has really been a learning experience for me in terms of nutrition and natural wellness. It started when my poor infant daughter, Grace, developed eczema. I had never heard of the condition and wasn't satisfied with mainstream medicine's response of "just apply steroids." It just didn't sit right with me, and so, I started my own research...

Through my research, I uncovered the world of alternative medicine. Although I wish it was just considered "natural wellness" and mainstream medicine was called "alternative." After all, shouldn't the "alternative" be the last resort, not the first?

Anyway, my research led me to natural approaches. To looking at the body holistically and not patching the bad spots, only for them to reappear in some other form later on. As a result, I feel I was able to help my daughter manage her eczema by taking the natural approach.

My brother said he read somewhere that its very common for a new mother to develop passions for all things "natural." That, coupled with my farm family upbringing, I believe has brought me full circle in terms of a passion for agriculture, sustainable living, natural wellness, nutrition and conservation.

I won't go into detail here, but would be happy to discuss why I am now a huge fan of probiotics, gluten-free anything, cod liver oil, raw milk, fermentation, composting, cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, keeping chickens, gardening, free-range meat, etc.

Without making this the longest posting ever, I'll just include a few of my favorite Web sites & books that I just love to consume...
The Good Life by the Nearings
The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon
Patient, Heal Thyself by Jordan Rubin
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

I also just want to add that a long time prayer of mine has been for a community of Christian women to befriend and grow with. Thanks to God working through Susan Arico, Erin Dauphinais and Crystal Ortlieb, my prayer has been answered. I am now finding that I can get just as much enjoyment out of spending time with friends, as I do with my own family. Fellowship with the Kajiji's feels as good and as natural to me as with my own blood relations. Thanks to the blood of Christ for bringing us together.


Seeking Accountability

Hello Kajiji Girls-

Is all this talk about how we spend our time, what we are doing with our talents and passions and simple living affecting you? I suppose it remains to be seen to what degree I am affected, but I know it has me thinking tons and tons. I recognize in myself the ability to think things to death while actively, I do nothing. This post is being sent out to you all as an attempt to overcome that, even if briefly, in regards to a specific part of my life.

I have always understood why it is important to have a daily date with God. I get it that He should be to us what our husbands were when we first met - exciting, someone we want to be around all the time, soaking up his every word, longing to be together when we are apart - but my head and my heart haven't ever really gotten together on these concepts and having a "regular quiet time" has been seen as a chore, something that comes way lower than taking a shower or a nap on my list of priorities when the kids are otherwise occupied.

But this talk about our passions has led me to a startling revelation. I cannot, in good faith, follow my passion, pursue my dream, unless I am first following Christ and pursuing God. I believe this would hold true no matter the passion, but in my case, I feel this necessity all the more. I long to be an encouragement and inspiration to others. (More on the specifics of how I intend to do this will come in due time.) How can this be when I am not seeking encouragement and inspiration from the Spirit? It is He who must give me breath to then give breath to others.

I have avoided facing this reality for two reasons. One - If I vow to have my time with God every day and don't - to pursue my passion would mean a pursuit shrouded in hypocrisy. Logically, I then determine I will do neither, just to be safe. Two - If I am successful (by the grace of God) and have my quiet time, I will have lost a fairly strong argument against pursing my passion and facing the fears associated with doing so. Again, logical reasoning brings me to the "safe" place of doing neither.

But now I find myself in a situation where the opportunity to realize long-held dreams is upon me. I have some key signs from God indicating the light has turned green and it is time to open up the throttle and see what this baby can do!

I want to have a 10 minute quite time (Susan sent an email about this idea, if you didn't get it, ask me and I will forward it) every day from now until Easter. This is where you come in. I need someone(s) to check in with me every day (by phone or email) to make sure I am keeping to it. I am happy to return this favor, but I don't need it to be a two-way exchange. Please do NOT casually accept this partnership. I cannot stick to this without someone(s) who will really hold me to what I need to do. Either comment here, or email me directly if you are willing to connect with me for the next few weeks.

I know I could have singled someone out to ask to do this for me, but I thought it best to let you in on what my brain (ok, God really) has been doing with our conversations and this blog. I hope it in some way means something to someone besides just me.

With much love, respect and gratitude-
ps - This was not intended to be the official posting for this week, so there may be an additional post coming. Crystal will let you know.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Can You Help?

Save Giovanni Bone Marrow Drive
at the
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Dover, NH
Saturday, March 10, 1pm to 5pm
Giovanni wants you: 18 to 55 in good health.
Simple cotton swab procedure conducted by dkmsamericas.
Save a life, you won’t regret it for the rest of yours.

Giovanni Guglielmo is a 7 month old baby born with an undetermined immune deficiency that is threatening his life. Giovanni's family and friends are working furiously to rally support for beloved Giovanni in an effort to save his life. The Guliamo family has gotten great media coverage and would like to thank all those that have found it in their heart to reach out to Giovanni and help with monetary donations, prayers and inquiries regarding bone marrow drives.

Giovanni has taken a drastic turn for the worse and is very ill. He's losing weight and his intestines are bleeding. He's on a constant feed, and is throwing up most of the food when lifted up. He is getting weaker, and the smiles are becoming fewer and further between. We were given a preliminary diagnosis yesterday of NEMO, as well as a second gene mutation that is not identified to any existing disease. NEMO is a very rare x-linked chromosomal disorder. Giovanni's is described as a severe NEMO requiring a bone marrow transplant. Giovanni is of Italian and Greek heritage and his parents live in Belmont, NH. Please seriously consider being a bone marrow donor as you may save a life.

If you are able to come Saturday, please give me your name and phone number so I can put your name on the sign up list.

Additional information is available at the web site: or
If you are unable to make Saturday but want to help, you can go on-line and register. They will send a swab kit to you.
Dear friends,

My church is sponsoring a bone marrow drive this Saturday March 10th from 1pm to 5 pm in Dover, NH in hopes of finding a donor match to save this child's life. In order to for the bone marrow organization to commit to flying in with testing kits, we need a minimum of 100 people to commit to being tested. This is a simple process of filling out some paperwork and having your mouth swabbed with some cotton. This boy and his family are originally from Belmont, NH and are now residing at Children's Hospital in Boston, he is that sick at this point. The doctors say that without a marrow transplant soon, he will likely pass away. I have attached the website that the family has created and although he is of Italian/Greek descent a match could be out there anywhere, regardless of your ancestry. I am hoping that you and your spouses may want to commit to getting tested for this cause. If you are, will you please contact me as soon as possible as we have to have a list together by Wednesday to give to dkmsamericas, the company that coordinates the testing. There is no cost to you and if you are a match you are permitted to not commit to donating, and it's completely anonymous at that point.

If you feel that you are able to get the word out, posting info at a work place, please let me know as I have flyers.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


If you can drop by Stephanie's church (the church is located on 93 Locust Street in Dover, NH, near the library) this Saturday, you’ll find it only requires a few minutes of your life and a simple swab of the inside of your mouth – that’s all. Please let Stephanie know ASAP if you can make it – she needs to know by Wednesday of this week. Feel free to contact Stephanie or Crystal if you'd like to help out in any way. Thanks so much! ~Crystal

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