Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beauty in the corn rows

It's our first spring in the Illinois valley.  It's beautiful down here: lush green, black soil, blue sky.  Last week the farmers finally got a chance to plant their corn.  Ava, Maddie, and I got to watch their progress on our way in and out of Tiskilwa each day. Most of the corn is already up. I snapped this picture this morning coming back from dropping Maddie off:
It's not much at first glance.  You can see the tiny corn sprouts growing.  From this angle, it looks rather messy and random.

Here's what happens when you turn 45 degrees, though:
Perfect rows.  Simple, neat, beautiful.  You can tell the skilled farmer took care to plant his seeds.  

Isn't life kind of like that?  Our lives can seem weedy and random.  We struggle to find beauty in the mess. But sometimes if we change our perspective, we can see the outlines of a bigger, more complete picture.  

What unexpected places are you finding beauty lately?  Could changing your angle change your outlook?

Friday, May 17, 2013

So Much Stuff

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NLT)

Nearly 1200 dead or missing.  Countless injuries, both emotional and physical.  Families broken.  Lives turned upside down. All from going to work.  

As I watched and read coverage about the Bangladesh factory collapse, I began to feel convicted about my "American consumerism".  I have a small clothing budget for myself and my family, therefore I frequently hunt through clearance racks at Old Navy and Target.  In truth, I rarely give a thought to the many hands that have touched my garment during its production.  But my desire for cheap clothes helps fuel the trade that oppresses so many--often women and children--around the world.  This NPR article sums it up nicely.

Todd and I try to practice "ethical consumerism" as much as possible.  We tend to favor purchasing things from companies using fair trade and socially responsible practices.  

One of our favorites is Paper Culture.  We have ordered our Christmas cards from them in the past.  They use recycled materials and plant a tree for every order.  

I have not personally purchased from FashionABLE or Sseko Designs, but I believe in their mission to improve the lives of African women through fair trade. If anyone wanted to buy or send me some of their goods for research purposes, I'd be fine with that :-).  

I also use Good Guide when making decisions about future purchases.  Good Guide helps me find "safe, healthy, green, and ethical" companies and their products.  It breaks goods down into categories, such as food, personal and baby care, electronics, etc. and rates them on a 10 point scale on health, environmental impact, and social responsibility as a company. 

But we're not perfect.  We live in the middle of nowhere and rely on less than ideal companies such as WalMart for our day-to-day grocery needs.  In the summer months we prefer to purchase as much produce as possible from our local farmer's market. But all this consideration about my goods and where they come from doesn't get at what's really bothering me: Why do I need so much stuff?  

I began reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker this week.  I've found myself getting wrapped up in all the "stuff" I need to prepare for this new baby.  Of course, it goes deeper than that.  Acquiring stuff sometimes fills other voids in our lives.  So I wanted to get another Christian woman's perspective on saying no to consumerism.  I invite you to read along with me!  

What ways do you and your family practice ethical consumerism?  What companies do you hold up as examples of fair trade and social responsibility?  Are there any companies you stay away from?  Let me hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bucket Lists

So, winter has come and gone and spring is upon us. Here's what the Krosts were up to this winter:

We had a pretty outside-centered list which is unusual for my girls, who (like their mother) would rather be curled up inside with a book and hot cocoa. We accomplished several of the outside items rather spontaneously, like making snowmen and having snowball fights. Skiing and ice skating didn't happen, mostly because of the shocking lack of typical winter weather here in central Illinois. We did take the girls snow tubing in northern Michigan with some friends, though. That kind of counts as skiing, right?

Here's what's on the agenda for spring:

Again, most of our items are outside activities. But with the beautiful spring weather we've had this week, I'm not complaining. And I'm starting to feel much better as I approach the end of my first trimester, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up with the girls as we work through our list.

What things have you checked off your to-do list lately?

 You can print your own bucket lists here from Funky Polkadot Giraffe.