Friday, June 29, 2007

Featured Family Friday

We are on the journey and have not arrived at a simple life, but here is our list of ways we try to live simply. Lately, we've found the books Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James and Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher helpful. Scott loves Walden by Henry David Thoreau, but we cannot claim to embody that severe brand of simplicity. We have --

1. Downsized our posessions by eliminating excessive or repeated items like clothing, shoes, and dishes, and we try to continually "edit" these possessions;
2. Usually buy and keep clothing and shoes that have multiple uses and are moving toward a uniform approach to dressing; .
3. Use public resources like the library for books and movies, parks for exercise and play , and the bus for Scott's commute;
4. Own a conservative about of children's toys and those that are "old-fashioned" (not battery operated or with bells and whistles);
5. Practice debt free living - living below our income, waiting until we have cash for something before we purchase it, no car payments;
6. Rarely watch TV;
7. Interact as a couple and a family by playing games, doing outdoor activites and taking evening walks;
8. Go camping for vacation at least once a year;
9. Try to eat breakfast and supper together at the dinner table every day;
10. Group like chores and tasks so they take less total time;
11. Reduce energy we consume by using compact fluorescent bulbs, walking or riding our bike when we can, and consolidating errands;
12. Buy used whenever possible;
13. Simplify meals by planning out a menu for a week at a time, eating beans and cornbread at least once every two weeks, reducing the amount of meat we eat;
14. Support a local farm by being members of a Long Hungry Creek CSA;
15. Moved into a place that's about a third as big as our prior home, which has really been a test of our character (some days we pass the test; some days we fail);
16. Try not to work at least one day of the weekend.

We don't have it figured out, but have found these these things helpful. We're learning from you all and are thankful to be a part of this conversation.

-Scott and Jessica

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

2 Fundraising Efforts

“What can I do to make a difference?” These days, I’ve been hearing that question a lot. It's a question with endless responses. Today I want to share with you 2 fundraising efforts for International poverty & ask for your help.

First, The Seed Project is an attempt to get more people involved in the act of giving, who might not have the capacity for large dollar donations. We’re asking people throughout the Nashville area to host an event in their home during the weeks of 9-23 through 9-29. You throw your own party & accept donations on our behalf for Heifer & GAIA. You can have a dinner party for your 12 best friends and ask for a $50 donation from each guest, or a backyard cookout for 100 & collect $20 per person. You make the call. If you are willing to help or throw your own party read more here.

Secondly, Climb Nashville is compiling a Vegetarian & Vegan Cookbook to benefit Made in the Streets. I began requesting recipes from just gym members, but I am seriously in need of more recipes. I am up to maybe 75, and hope to reach 300. If you have anything that would fit the bill, please send them along! thanks. >carrie.

Monday, June 25, 2007

How rich are we?

There is a great disparity in the distribution of the world's resources. In fact, the richest 20% of the world’s population has 89% of the world’s wealth. But that's just Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, right? I'm "middle class" and am not one of the rich who "hoards wealth."

Check out the website You can go there and type in your annual income and find out how it compares to the rest of the world. A few caveats are in order, though. First, the website's data is from 1999, so it's a bit dated (but the most current I could find). Second, there's really no way to accurately determine what percentile anybody's annual income is, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, I think it help gives a picture of how rich we really are relative to the rest of the world. For example, if your income in 1999 was $47,500, you were in the top 1% of the world! That's staggering to me. Because we Americans are surrounded by extreme wealth, it's easy for us to forget how the rest of the world lives.

Hmmmm....what should I do once I understand how wealthy I am?

- David

Friday, June 22, 2007

Featured Family Friday

Jodi and I don't have as much simplicity, community, and service in our lives as we would like. However, we have taken some baby steps that help. Our search for simplicity is helped by the fact that we have a small apartment within walking distance of where I work, flexible low-stress jobs (songwriter and nanny), and don't have kids for the time being. We also don't watch much TV. Community has been difficult for us because we have typically traveled a lot, but my new job as a full-time songwriter means we'll be home a lot more. We've become friends with two families of refugees and asylum seekers here in Nashville, and our perspectives have been shaped by spending time with them and sharing their struggles.

We have a lot more goals and dreams in these areas than we do actual practices, which is why we're excited about working on that together with this group. We dream of living on a small portion of our income and establishing a charitable fund with the excess, of getting our (OK, my) veggie van running again, of living in closer community with like-minded people who inspire us, of becoming foster parents and/or adopting, of reducing our environmental impact, and of spending more time working with refugees and other groups that society has marginalized. We need your help! And we're willing to help you as much as we can as well. We're looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Peace,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fire at The Simple Way

Doug just emailed me and wanted the rest of you to know that there was a fire at The Simple Way and surrounding homes yesterday morning. You can visit the website for more details. Please keep these families, who have lost everything, in your prayers. I know that they are also taking up donations to rebuild for The Simple Way and the neighboring families.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Slavery in the USA

I recently received an email from Sojourners with these frightening facts about Burger King:

"Farm workers who pick tomatoes for Burger King's sandwiches earn 40 to 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has not risen significantly in nearly 30 years. Workers who toil from dawn to dusk must pick two tons of tomatoes to earn $50 in one day."

"Worse yet, modern-day slavery has reemerged in Florida's fields; since 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted five slavery rings, freeing more than 1,000 workers. As a major buyer of Florida tomatoes, Burger King's purchasing practices place downward pressure on farm worker wages and put corporate profits before human dignity."

So what can we do about social injustices like these?
1. Investigate the companies where you are spending your money.
2. Write letters/send emails to Corporate Executives.
3. Boycott irresponsible companies.

Do you know of any companies that are not treating their workers fairly?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Who or What?

Simple and short question from me this week:

Who or what inspires you in this pursuit of simplicity?

- Phil

Friday, June 15, 2007

Featured Family Friday

We began to value the spiritual discipline of simplicity after reading Richard Foster's The Challenge of the Disciplined Life, in which he contends that simplicity should be the faith community's response to the temptation to worship money. We are quick to give in to the forces of greed and materialism, and we quickly fall prey to our culture of consumption. The discipline of simplicity, while not an end in and of itself, is a means to maintaining a focus on Jesus, who taught about the dangers of riches more than almost any other topic. Also, as we've become more aware of the issue of local and global poverty, the grace of simplicity has helped us remember that we have no right to indulge ourselves while so many are in need.

We learned three tips for simple living from Dr. Matt Hearn. First, stay small. Live in as little space as possible, and resist the temptation to buy a bigger house, which you'll need to fill with more stuff. Second, drive your car until it breaks. Third, turn off the TV. Marketers constantly tell us via the media that we need newer, bigger, more advanced stuff. Turning off the TV will keep some of their messages out of our heads.

-The Shipp Family

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Community Supported Agriculture

The average meal in the US travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally saves fuel & supports local farmers. Sarah also mentioned some other advantages of eating a largely vegetarian diet. Those are some of the reasons I’m proud to be a new member of a CSA. Each week I pay about $15 for a ¼ bushel of vegetables & fruit. Meat, breads, and eggs are also available with CSAs like Avalon Acres, where we are members. Long Hungry Creek Farms is also used by a reader of this blog & has it’s own advantages.

FAQs: At Avalon Acres, we do not get to choose the produce. Other CSA/Coops may operate differently. We are having lots of fun, however, learning how to cook unfamiliar foods. Last week we received yellow squash, patty pan squash, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, strawberries, peas, peppers, cabbage & broccoli. The produce varies weekly, according to the crop yield. We actually split a ½ bushel with my parents, which gives us a slightly reduced rate. For 2 adults, I think a ¼ bushel is plenty. There are a variety of days & pickup locations, which might determine where you decide to join.

If you would be interested in joining & adding a new drop-off location, the farm requests about 20 families to commit. Please post here & we can see if we qualify. Or let me know if you have other questions. >carrie.

A Missional Order

I received this link below from Doug. He thought the group might be interested in reading it.

Here are just a few excerpts from the link:

"In their experience an Order is best formed out of a more descriptive Rule rather than a set of written prescriptions around what should be done and when."

"The focus of the Order is the guarding of the ethos which is about the journey into God - everything else flows out of that most basic journey."

"The ethos, therefore, is this rhythm of the tides, the inward/outward journey. The ethos is to continually cultivate the rhythm. If we are trying to create an environment in which we see everything as a gift from God then the rhythm is essential - this focal recognition of the inner/outer journey going on in our lives continually."


Monday, June 11, 2007

God bless everyone

I like t-shirts that have a message. Sometimes I browse websites looking at new designs and sayings. But because I'm trying to minimize buying new clothes, I haven't purchased any. That doesn't mean I can't appreciate them, though.

I like what the above t-shirt says. Although the phrase "God bless America" seems innocuous at first, I think it contains a subtle message that can be somewhat harmful -- i.e., I only want God to bless Americans; if you're not American, I don't care if God blesses you or not. (Don't we care about innocent children suffering in Iraq or women and girls being raped and abused in Sudan??) As such, the saying is exclusionary and seems to pit "us" against "them," where "us" is Americans and "them" is anyone who's not. Instead, I suggest that lines should not be drawn based on nationality, race, gender, religion, socio-economic standing, sexual orientation, etc. Love and generosity should be all-inclusive and non-discriminatory. It's easy to care for those who look, act and talk like us. The challenge is loving and being in community with those who are radically different from us.

And for this reason, I prefer the alternative and more positive message: "God bless everyone."

- David

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Upcoming Events

Saturday, October 13th---Hike for the Homeless, for details:

Saturday, October 13th---Living Water Yard Sale at Otter Creek

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Featured Family Friday

I recently found out about the Knox House where four guys--Brent Hendricks, Eric Colby, Greg Hess, and David Weddle, a recently added member--live together. They are trying to live out monasticism in a revolutionary way. They are committed to live for two years in the North Central Neighborhood in Spokane.

“Some people call us hippies; others call us monks. I'm not sure I qualify as either,” Hendricks says.

They currently live without many of the amenities that we take for granted, including no TV, no Internet, and no dishwasher. They also try to minimize toilet flushing.

A daily routine in their home consists of prayer, worship, reading scripture, and eating together daily. They begin these shared disciplines at 6:30a.m. and complete them in two hours before leaving for work. Once everyone returns home they reflect and pray together.
They also are concerned about the type of food they eat, where it comes from and how it affects others in the world. So they have eliminated meat from their diet. They also have created a "garden" in their kitchen in order to grow food for their meals. They have a rooster and chickens from which they get their eggs.

These men live out community in their neighborhood in several ways. Every Sunday they invite friends/neighbors to their home for dinner and the number can be from 5 to 25.

“We are trying to be a Christian presence in the neighborhood, not by passing out brochures but by building relationships and have a lasting impact,” Hendricks says.

Here are just a few ways they have lived out community with their surrounding neighbors: shoveling snowy driveways, raking leaves and cooking meals. When a visitor arrives, he or she recieves a friendly greeting, a glass of tea, and undivided attention.

You can read a more detailed account about the Knox House at the link below:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

1.3 Billion Neighbors

"Sometimes I think, 'If I die, I won't have to see my children suffering as they are.' Sometimes I even think of killing myself. So often I see them crying, hungry; and there I am, without a cent to buy them some bread. I think, ' My God, I can't face it! I'll end my life. I don't want to look any more!" -- Iracema da Silva, resident of a slum in Brazil (excerpt from Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger)

As a new mom, I am overwhelmed with these words above. I hurt for my baby when he only cries for 5 minutes and I have plenty of milk to feed him.

The picture above is of a few of our 1.3 billion neighbors who live in desparate poverty, similiar to Iracema da Silva. And, you may not guess it, but at the bottom of the picture is their meal for the day that they are very proud to have and eager to share. What does your lunch look like? I am sure it is more than this and you will not only have lunch today but probably three meals and even some snacks in between. I am struggling with how to deal with the fact that thirty-four thousand children die every day of hunger and preventable diseases.
Here are a few ways that I think might in some small way help our neighbors:
1. Eat less meat, maybe even become vegetarian. (Meat not only is a luxury to the rest of the world, but also it takes more land to raise cattle than to grown grains and feed grain to the cattle that could feed people.)
2. Support a non-profit organization that helps those living in desparate poverty. (David and I support Made in the Streets, who are going to begin a new program that supports young, single moms who live on the streets in Kenya.)
3. Find a local event that supports our "neighbors." David and I plan to participate in Ellie's Run for Africa.This event is on June 23rd.
Do you have any ideas of how we can live differently to help our neighbors living in poverty?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Stumbling Blocks...

Sheryl and I have been going through some things and seeing what we could discard or give away to clutter our house less (amazing how cluttery a house can look with kids' toys) and to pursue aspects of simplicity. And in doing that, I've realized how attached to certain things I am.

  • Books - I love my books. Before a couple of weeks ago, I had a ton of books that I had in high school, college, and from when I was teaching that I just didn't want to get rid of. Books I hadn't cracked in years or even books that I had multiple copies of for various reasons. Even on my theological shelf, I had to pull some things to make room. It was a hard, hard decision to get rid of some of those.
  • Gadgets/Electronics - Had we the money and the space, it would be very hard for me to not run out and get a big huge Hi - Def TV with all the bells and whistles and to have the latest PDA phone and a new computer every year. I love tech toys and I love playing with them and having them. And that's not to say that we don't have some nice tech toys, but I can look at a catalog or a website and almost start drooling over the stuff I don't have, but really, really want. This area in particular, I need accountability for, and thankfully, Sheryl gives me a lot of it (plus trying to stick relatively closely to a budget).
I'm curious about what some of the other stumbling blocks to simplicity others have. Is there something in particular that tempts you to ignore a call for living in a simpler way?


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Borrow, Give & Trade

Why spend more money & add to our piles by buying something that could just as easily be borrowed? This will be an ongoing post for those in need of trading or borrowing. Please check back frequently to see if you can be of service to others.