Friday, July 25, 2008

New Monasticism Conference in Nashville

Come all ye faithful to Nashville, TN, to hear Johnathan Wilson Hartgrove and others explain what the new monastic movement has to say to the larger church. The one-day seminar is based on Jonathan's latest book.

New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church (Baker) is Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s introduction to new monasticism and the gifts it has to offer the church in a time a rapid change. Sam Ewell’s Building Up the Church: Experiments in Faith, Hope, and Love (Wipf and Stock) is an interactive study guide based on Jonathan’s book, designed to lead small groups into an authentic engagement with new monasticism.

Otter Creek Church (located at 409 Franklin Road, Brentwood, Tennessee) will host this event on Saturday, September 20th from 8am-6pm. For more information and to register go here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

CSA Half Shares - Avalon Acres

I get lots of questions about the size of the shares with our CSA, Avalon Acres. Here are a few pictures from last year. Pictured is a Half Bushel, which we split with my parents. I think this is the best way to go for small families. Of course, the size of the share will vary from week to week, depending on the rainfall & success of the growing season. Hope this helps in your decision-making! >carrie.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Joining A CSA - Pros & Cons

Fresh produce picked straight from a local farm. Sounds good, right? Many farms offer produce subscriptions, where buyers receive a weekly or monthly basket of produce, flowers, fruits, eggs, milk, coffee, meat, or any sort of different farm products.

Last year was our first year to join as members of a local CSA. We loved it and it was such a rewarding experience to become more closely tied to the foods we put in our bodies. Growing season is starting again soon, and our CSA, Avalon Acres, is now accepting signups. If you are interested, I highly recommend it, but put together a list of pros & cons for your consideration.

1) Breaks you out of a cooking rut and forces you to be creative.
2) As a result of #1, you will become a much better cook
3) You learn about all sorts of fruits/vegetables that you never knew existed.
4) You discover things like “I like eggplant after all!” and other disappointing things, like “Turnips are as gross as I thought they’d be.”
5) You learn about your local agriculture and what grows when.
6) As a result of #5, you can buy produce in the grocery cheaper & fresher, because you are more keenly aware of when foods are at their height in taste & production.
7) You’re eating more fruits & veggies! Better for the planet and better for your body.
8) You’re supporting your local farmers!
9) Depending on your farm choice, the CSA can be much more convenient, since you may just pick up your box right from the delivery truck.
10) You learn how to freeze foods. (And some attempt the canning route as well.)
11) Many CSAs are organic.

THE NOT-AS-GOOD: I recognize that a CSA is most certainly not for everyone. Here are a few of the down sides.
1) You’re in it for the long haul. Most (not all) CSAs require a full-season commitment.
2) Price – It may turn out to be cheaper than a grocery, but may not. You pay a per-week price regardless of how full or small your weekly share is. If there is very little rain (like last year), your baskets may be small for a while.
3) Repetition – I must say that I got very sick of okra and cucumbers. You might get a large load of a certain food for several weeks. In our society, we’re used to variety. I try to remind myself that farmers across the world for generations have dealt with this and been just fine.
4) Picky Eaters – Need not apply. There are things that I don’t like for certain, but I’m willing to give it a shot. If you are not interested in trying out some new foods, then you may need to pass on the CSA.

Food Sites of Interest:
The Future of Food in TN
Eating Organic on a Food Stamp Budget
Cook's Thesaurus
Slow Food USA
100 Mile Diet

Here are a few of the Nashville area CSAs:
Long Hungry Creek Farm
Delvin Farms
Fresh Harvest Co-op (You pick the vegetables of your choice as needed.)
Avalon Acres

For a CSA near you, click here. >carrie.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sons of Lwala

Documentary "Sons of Lwala," about two brothers in a remote village in Kenya, will play at TPAC on Thursday, March 27. The trailer can be seen at

The Story: Sons of Lwala is a locally produced documentary that chronicles the amazing story of Fred and Milton Ochieng’, two brothers from Lwala, a remote village in Kenya. Academically gifted, Milton was the first brother who received a full-scholarship to Dartmouth, but he had no financial means to get to the United States. However, the village came together to do whatever necessary to help Milton achieve his dream. All they told him is "Please don't forget us." The documentary follows the brothers to Vanderbilt Medical School where they strive to fulfill the request of their village by building a clinic in the village to save it from dying of AIDS. The title reflects how the elder brother has always referred to himself, even before his parents' death. "In Lwala," Milton says, "You're not just the son of your parents. Here, you belong to everyone." Through ticket sales to the evening, they are hoping to raise enough to keep the clinic open and stocked with medical supplies for a year or more.

The evening will include Senator Bill Frist as emcee and a performance by Jars of Clay.

To purchase tickets, go to or the TPAC box office downtown or at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in The Mall at Green Hills to purchase $30, $50, or $100 tickets. VIP Tickets, which also include a reception, are available for $250 and $500. >>carrie.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff should make for interesting conversation around your house. It's a bit long (maybe 15+ minutes) but worth watching. What are your opinions about the video? >carrie.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Loving Your Enemies

This has to be one of the hardest teachings of Jesus and I can't say that I do this well or easily. The funny thing is that I don't really have cruel enemies who have deeply hurt fact, it's hard for me to even put a name to an enemy. I could name people who I have heard horrible stories about but personally don't know them. Usually, when I hear this teaching, my first thought is more to love those with whom I disagree.
Then I think of my dear Kenyan friends and the challenges they are facing with this teaching. Daily they are faced with the atrocities of family members being killed, mothers/sisters/friends being gang raped, homes being burned. This isn't because they have done something wrong but because of the tribe into which they have been born and the unrest from the presidential election that has initiated it all.

So, when I read the horrific events that continue to unfold in Kenya, I am encouraged by my dear friends who are trying to live out Jesus' teaching to love their enemies. The students and team members at Made In Streets (Nairobi, Kenya) are all of different tribes. However, they are coming together through this unrest by teachers talking about forgiveness. They also are trying to reach out in to their community and encourage church members to invite the opposing tribe members into one another's homes to display grace and love.

I can't even begin to understand the deep ties everyone has to their tribes or how this could affect previous friendships. The closest I can relate this to is to compare it to the racial differences in our country (which does not go back as far as these tribal issues). I am so encouraged when I hear stories coming out of how opposing tribes have protected one another during the unrest or are trying to make a stand in their community against tribal cleansing.
I am enouraged by their bravery to change my attitude towards the person who I can barely call an enemy and display love at all times and in every way that I can. I also continue to pray for these dear ones as they face the struggle between loving or hating their enemies. May their hearts continue to be filled with love, compassion, and above all grace towards their enemy and for change in the leadership of their country to bring this all to an end.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Voices of Sudan

Author of Voices of Sudan visits Nashville

Another event in Nashville that you do not want to miss....

On Wednesday, February 27th at 6:30pm, David Johnson will be speaking at Belmont University at Buttick 102 on photography, writing and acivisim. David has founded Silent Images, a non-profit organization. This organization seeks to tell the stories of people in need through journalistic photography, videos, and writing. He has recently written a book entitled, Voices of Sudan, which in his words aims to "restore a voice to the Sudanese by causing two things to happen: people will be informed and hearts will be provoked to reach out and help the Sudanese."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sign the Petition

Only two US presidents have visited Africa during their term. President Bill Clinton was the first and President Bush plans to visit Africa this Friday. This news was very shocking to me. It's no wonder that helping developing countries in Africa has not been one of the top priorities of our country. (I am not saying that we don't do anything as a country to help, but maybe we would do more and keep our promises if our president actually visited these places.) Seeing the poorest of poor firsthand will have a dramatic effect on your life and how you choose to respond to it. I strongly urge you to sign this petition (link below) through the ONE campaign that is asking the next elected president to visit Africa during his/her first term as president.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Good Samaritan and other thoughts

Yesterday, I attended a lecture by Dr. Matthew Sleeth, author of Serve God, Save the Planet. I read the book several months ago so the lecture was a good review on what our responsibility is as Chrisitians and as citizens on planet Earth.

I will try and recap several ideas Dr. Sleeth shared.

Dr. Sleeth touched on the Parable of the Good Samaritan and how we are to be like the Good Samaritan towards our neighbors in regard to the enviornment. It's easy for us to think of our neighbors as those in our neighboorhood, city, state or even our country. However, Dr. Sleeth challenges us to go even further and consider our neighbor across the ocean in Africa or Europe or Asia. He asks us to also consider our neighbor as the young children who have yet to grow up on this Earth or the unborn of future generations. The choices we make concerning the environment will affect all of these "neighbors" and we can choose to either use our current resources to satisfy our wants or use our resources to aid those without.

Part of the lecture touched on the references to trees in the Bible. Sleeth asked what most have in front of their comfortable chair in their home....most answering the TV. He then pointed out that in Revelation, it states that in front of God's throne is a tree. He was drawing on the fact that part of God's Creation are trees and how much we can gain from their existence as well as our responsibility as stewards of this Earth is to care for these trees (many of which are no longer no more Oak trees on Oak Street).

A question from the audience (that I appreciated) asked how do you address a church that is willing to discuss the environmental concerns of today but is unwilling to make changes like no longer buying styrofoam cups due to budget issues. Sleeth boiled it down to how can you spend $1200 on biodegradable cups vs. using that money for the starving people in the world (which is what it usually comes down to). Sleeth's first comment was (the lecture was in Benton Chapel at VU), "No one had any concerns about using money to build a building like this." We all seem to easily appreciate attending a "pretty" church and even justify raising funds for a bigger church building but when it comes down to being environmental stewards, then other issues seem to take precedent (my interpretation). He suggested having a group just go out and buy the replacement cups or finding other ways to cut costs around the building (like maybe reducing electricity use) to find this extra cash flow.

One more topic that I will touch on from the lecture: keeping the Sabbath. Sleeth addresses this topic in his book and I appreciate his concern living in the culture of America. Sleeth touched on how God created a day of rest and throughout the Bible draws on periods of resting the land where crops are grown (which Sleeth does in his own garden). It's important for us to rest our bodies from work and our minds from the clutter of this consumeristic culture.

If you would like to read more about Sleeth's work, you can visit his webiste.
Two of my friends attended this as well (and I would love for them to leave their comments on what impacted them the most, since I was somewhat distracted during the lecture while trying to entertain my 10month old. :)).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Two Upcoming Events

Wednesday (tomorrow), February 6th at 4pm --- Matthew Sleeth, the author of Serve God, Save the Planet will be speaking at Vanderbilt University in Benton Chapel.
You can read more about Matthew Sleeth at this past post:

Thursday, February 28th at 7pm --- Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove (pictured above) will be speaking at Otter Creek Church of Christ. Jonathon lives with his wife in Durham, North Carolina at the Rutba house (intentional Christian community). Jonathon traveled with his wife and Shane Claiborne to Iraq with the Christian Peacemaker Team. He has also written a chapter in the book, School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of A New Monasticism.

Please comment if you would like to learn more about these events in Nashville, Tennessee.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Raising Money

We all know there are countless good causes & a ton of need in the world. While no one individual can save the the world on their own, we’re called to do what we can to serve others. Raising funds for your favorite cause can be a great place to start getting involved.

So with a few energetic people and a great idea, it’s can be quite simple to raise thousands of dollars for your favorite cause. Why not consider holding a fundraiser with members of your church, small group, book club, or mom’s group next year. Here are some great ideas which might be quite easy and raise a lot of money!

1) Hold a Bake Sale full of baked goods, hot chocolate mixes, canned jellies, soup mixes & more!
2) Prepare a pancake breakfast or soup-and-sandwiches lunch. Sell tickets in advance.
3) Make small, handmade gifts or cards and sell them.
4) Have an International Potluck Dinner and charge admission. Make each group responsible for food and decorations appropriate to the country or region assigned to them.
5) Host a 24 hour fast. Money that would have gone for food can be donated.
6) A Cake/Dessert Tasting Event
7) Since we are in music city, someone very ambitious could put together a country music compilation cd composed of popular artists.
8) Selling a really cool t-shirt, tote bag or other merchandise

More ideas can be found here, here or here. >carrie.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Non-Violent Response?

A sad story out of Colorado Springs Sunday. As you know, a gunman killed two people at a mission center and another two at a church. He was ultimately shot by a security guard at the church.

Last night I also heard the story of a man who shot two immigrants who were burglarizing a neighbor's home. News stations played a 911 call with the shooter as he reported the burglary and told the operator that he was going to go shoot the robbers.

These are two very different stories with somewhat similar outcomes. I often wonder about non-violent responses in such situations and whether the end (saving additional lives or, less importantly, property) justifies the means. I am not sure how I would react in a life-threatening situation, but would hope to respond in a non-violent manner, as modeled by Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi and others. However, I rarely have good solutions for difficult situations such as those above.
So I ask:
How could these tragedies have been avoided?
Are there "redemptive" alternatives to the actions taken?

- David

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Simpler, Greener Christmas

Here are a few ideas to have a simpler, greener Christmas:

1. Make a natural statment. Give homemade goodies.
2. Say NO to plastic. Give wood or fabric toys.
3. No batteries neccessary. Give toys that don't need them.
4. Time waits for no one. Give a coupon book of ways to spend time together.
(Source: gdiapers)
I am looking forward to making food and delivering them to shut-ins and finding more oppurtunities to serve others during this holiday season. Thank you all who have given your creative ideas for a simpler Christmas and look forward to hearing more!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shoeglue for the Shoeless

We will gather on Thanksgiving and feast on food that will overflow on our plates. Our bellies will be full for the rest of the day after only one meal! While we sit around and enjoy this abundance of food and time with family, please take time to remember that there are many around the world who are without both food and family. There are also children living on the streets and because they cannot find food, they are turning to sniffing glue in order to escape from their hunger pains and the reality of their hardships. We could easily sit back and criticize their abuse of this drug but I wonder how many of us realize that we may be the cause of this devastating addiction.

David and I just finished watching a movie entitled Glue Boys. I was quickly taken back to my memories of being on the streets of Nairobi and seeing this addiction first hand. My heart has been so saddened at this reminder. We would love for anyone to borrow this movie from us and learn more about this tragedy.

"In Kitale, Kenya, among countless other towns in the developing world, many street children have found an escape from their emotional and physical pains by becoming accidental consumers. Orphaned, barefoot, and malnourished, they habitually spend the scarce money they earn from odd jobs and charity not on food or water, but on a more immediate fix – glue – incidentally the same solvent-based kind that the wider world uses to cement shoes together. With plastic bottles perched at their mouths, the children breathe in the glue’s neurotoxic fumes until they pass out or fall asleep forever.
Equally naturalistic and investigative, “Glue Boys” contemplates the future of the world’s estimated 150 million street children and documents the day-to-day plight of a handful in Kitale. It also unveils the distribution chain of their addiction to sniffing glue, from the small-time street dealers who facilitate it, to the authorities who enable it, to the massive multinational corporations that profit from it. Not overlooking the deeply entrenched reality of the developing world, the film presents the illicit adhesives market with a sense of urgency and intricacy, bringing awareness to a growing global giant but also providing a framework for change." (Source:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Buy Nothing Day

It's easy for all of us to get caught up in the "spirit" of Christmas and want to buy that perfect gift for each person on our list. It's also hard not to turn from the "best" sale this year and the "cheapest" price this season. I am challenging all of us to join others this year in the "Buy Nothing Day" that for the USA falls on this Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). The UK is also participating in this day on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I realize that we may still go out and buy our presents on other days but wouldn't it be a great message to NOT participate in the most consumeristic day of the year?
"While critics of the day charge that Buy Nothing Day simply causes participants to buy the next day[5], Adbusters states that it "isn't just about changing your habits for one day" but "about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste." (source: Wikipedia)
To read more about this cause, see the links below:

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gift Bag Reuse

Do you have gift bags that are just collecting dust? I'm taking all my saved bags to the gym next week for free pickup to someone who will use them. If you, like me, have a big old closet full of gift bags you'll never use, please let me know! It's a good feeling to pass these along, without sending them to the dump. Anyway, If you live in the area, please let me know if you would like to pass your bags along. Thanks! >carrie.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ending Poverty by 2015

The Millennium Development Goals set a framework for how the world could see the end of extreme poverty. In September, 2000, The United States joined with 188 nations to affirm a set of international development goals in the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reflect an understanding of the devastation caused by global hunger and poverty and aim for a world that is free of such suffering. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest by 2015. Our leaders committed to these goals and it is up to us, as Americans and ONE supporters, to make sure that America keeps its promises to the world’s most vulnerable people.

MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Click links below for more info.
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality among children under 5 by two thirds
5. Improve maternal health - Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development


Monday, November 12, 2007

A Death Penalty-Free World?

At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) 62nd session in October 2007, a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions was introduced as a step towards the abolition of the death penalty. Endorsement by the UNGA of a global moratorium on executions would be a significant milestone towards achieving the goal of a death penalty-free world.

A total of 133 UN member states, from all regions in the world, have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006, 91percent of them in just six countries -- China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and the USA (note that the U.S. is listed along with other countries having very poor human rights records). Europe is a death penalty-free zone, with the exception of Belarus.

Executions have been carried out by the following methods since 2000:
- Beheading (in Saudi Arabia)
- Electrocution (in USA)
- Hanging (in Egypt, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and other countries)
- Lethal injection (in China, Guatemala, Thailand, USA)
- Shooting (in Belarus, China, Somalia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam and other countries)
- Stoning (in Afghanistan, Iran)

One of the primary reasons for support of the death penalty is that it purportedly deters crime more effectively than other forms of punishment. Recent crime figures from countries that have abolished the death penalty, however, fail to show that abolition has harmful effects. In Canada, for example, the homicide rate per 100,000 population fell from a peak of 3.09 in 1975, the year before the abolition of the death penalty for murder, to 2.41 in 1980, and since then it has declined further. In 2006, 30 years after abolition, the homicide rate was 1.85 per 100,000 population, 40 per cent lower than in 1975 and the second lowest rate in three decades.

The death penalty is inhuman, violates the right to life, is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent. Emperical evidence does not prove that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments. For these reasons, please consider signing this petition calling for a world-wide moratorium on executions (over 5 million people have already signed -- you might need to change the language in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage):

- David
(Data taken from Amnesty International)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Kindness in Kenya

An excerpt from the journal of Molly Welch (an intern at Made In The Streets, Nairobi, Kenya)
Salon Day With The Mothers…

On Monday I put together a day of relaxation for the mothers in Eastleigh. I had supplies for washing and drying hair, facials, and manicures and pedicures. I took five girls from here that work in the hair salon to help me out; Nancy, Halima, Lucy M., Lucy W., and Patricia. We get there, set up, and just as we are bringing in the women the electricity goes out! T.I.A. (This Is Africa). The day was planned to be outside in the open courtyard, but it meant there would be no washing and drying hair. Oh well, you do what you can. Truthfully though, God knew what he was doing. We had more women there than ever before, almost thirty. We spent over three hours just doing nails and facials. If we had tried to wash and fix hair like we had planned we would have been there at least another four hours. For the first hour I kept praying for the electricity to come back on and then I realized that sometimes unanswered prayers are really good.

Including Ann and I we had a total of seven people working on the mothers. We had three people scrubbing hands and feet, two people cutting and filing the nails, and two painting the nails. I helped paint the nails. It was amazing to watch the girls scrubbing the women’s feet. They spent so much time with each lady, they were gentle, and they did not rush to get it over with. These girls once lived on the streets and they know how special something like this is. The feet were dirty (the American thought of dirty does not even come close to African dirty) and many of the nails were black and brittle. Each mother was made to feel special.
They have done manicures for the woman before, but most of them are new since I have been here so the majority had never had anything like this done before. The only person that had washed their feet was themselves. The only color that had ever been on their nails was black from the dirt and dead nail bone. The women were grinning from ear to ear and no one left without saying thank you. Ann was filing and cutting nails and afterward she told me that she had scrapped years of dirt and dead skin off of some of the women. Also several women thanked her because they had never had their nails cut before. Can you imagine?

Hollye Conway kept the kids in another room while we were with the mothers so it was nice and peaceful. I have never heard it that quiet at the center before. The women were quietly waiting around, smiling, and watching in amazement. Although I was painting nails non stop for three hours, it was the most peaceful day I have had in Eastleigh. The mothers were happy and carefree, at least for a little while.
This challenges me to want to something like this here for single mothers. Possibly we could do this for some of the mothers at WRCCC.