Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ten Things

Alisha Sommer is one of my new favorite internet personality crushes.
She drinks a lot of wine and coffee. She's a creative cook. She's a gifted writer.
She travels. She is and African American woman married to a European American man.
She is raising their children to eat good food and appreciate beauty.
And she takes amazing photographs to document her life and her adventures.
Please go check out her work - you will find your mouth watering.
I'm not a foodie by any stretch of the imagination, but this woman keeps my mouth watering.

One of the things that she does that has caught my attention is her practice of "Ten Things."
Simply a list of ten things, ten thoughts, ten ideas, ten moments from her day -
and any combination of the above, any combination of any ten things - she posts a list.
Daily. I look forward to reading her lists every day.

Since imitation is the best form of flattery, I'm gonna imitate her right here.

My ten things for today:

1. I love chewing gum. I crack my gum noisily and incessantly. My family doesn't complain, for which I am enormously grateful. If I get to meet Oprah again (someday I will share the story of meeting Oprah and getting my photo taken with her), I won't be able to chew gum in her presence. Apparently, she thinks gum chewing is a vile habit. Other than that, she and I will undoubtedly be great friends who agree on everything. In case Ms Winfrey is reading this, let me be crystal clear: I am more than willing to give up gum chewing if I get to hang out with you, Oprah.

2. I have recently been reminded about how much I love a well crafted sermon. And as much as I am grateful that when I preach at my own church, I am limited to about seventeen minutes, I enjoy a nice, long, intricately woven, story driven, Scripture dense sermon. This guy, Anthony Smith, is one of my favorite preachers. He lives, ministers, and serves the community up through a church called Mission House in Salisbury, NC. Here is a link to Mission House sermons. At a time in our nation, in our world, in our history, when so many of us struggle with fear, I would recommend scrolling down the sermon list to 2/12/17 and listening to the sermon entitled, "Take Courage." Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, grab a notebook and pen, because you are gonna wanna take a lot of notes - and be prepared to have your mind blown. So good!

3. One of the goals of Mission House is "to mobilize an army of love" in their city. They have tee shirts. I have one of those tee shirts. I am not an advocate of violence OF ANY KIND - but I am willing to enlist in an army of love. They are doing some fantastic work there in their home city. Advocating for peace. Walking the streets of their city every Friday night, praying with people, praying for the healing and wholeness of their city - they call themselves "Nightcrawlers." Getting involved in holding politicians accountable for what they do and say. Encouraging people to do their research and to vote. Imagine if those of us who call ourselves followers of the Prince of Peace actually worked for peace, walked for peace, advocated for an end to violence, and were willing to stand up and speak up and act up for peace. What would our cities, our nation, and our world look like if we actually lived out the command listed in both Psalm 34:14 and 1 Peter 3:11? Imagine if we actively and intentionally did simply this -  "Seek peace and pursue it."

4. Teavana tea - if you like loose leaf tea, now is the time to go stock up on their tea. All of the Teavana stores are closing early in the new year. They are beginning to reduce prices by 30%, 50%, and 75%.

5. Starbucks owns Teavana. Why are they not willing to invest some of the billions of dollars they take in every year to preserving and protecting an offshoot that sells healthier product than the coffee and sugary syrups they sell at Starbucks?

6. I love when a plan to "catch up and have lunch" turns into a four and a half hour story-fest, complete with laughter and tears, wisdom and encouragement, tea and salad, and prayer and a few choice four letter words. Only a small number of people in my life can stand hanging out with me for a marathon conversation like the one I had yesterday with my girl, Krystal.

7. Pioneer Woman macaroni and cheese will be on the Thanksgiving table in two day. Even if you don't make this recipe, it's worth the read. She's a chef and writer with an engaging sense of humor.

(If you have any recipes that you love, please send links to them in the comments. I would love to hear what some of you are eating... whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving this week. I'm always open for new ideas. The simpler the better.)

8. Homemade fresh cranberry sauce too.

9. And cornbread and sausage stuffing.

(To try to offset some of the preplanned indulgence in deliciousness, I will keep up my habit of drinking a green smoothie a day at least through the rest of the week. I'm gonna need to get more spinach, I am certain.)

10. People still send snail mail - and I count myself among the endangered species of folks who still write letters and mail then the old fashioned way. Thoughtful cards from Kentucky and New Jersey and California, and right here in Charlotte. Missives from a friend who is in prison. Birthday cards. Christmas cards. Holiday cards of all kinds. Journals purchased and sent to me just because... There are colorful and beautiful stamps available at the post office. And washi tape, pens, and markers (all of which are a slowly advancing obsession of mine) for decorating envelopes and enclosures. Snail mail is the gift that keeps on giving.

The good thing about the Ten Things habit, which I have been practicing in my journal lately, is that I almost always want to write fifteen or twenty things. But limiting myself to only ten takes some of the pressure off... I can write my ten and then take a break. For anyone who doesn't particularly like to write, for anyone who feels intimidated by the blank page, for anyone who doesn't think they have anything important to write or to say, beginning with a list of ten things can make the process of writing, of keeping a journal, of blogging, easier.

Ten Things can be as simple as this -

1. Flowering pineapple tea from Teavana.

2. Daily green smoothies

3. I love the library. Free books for everyone!

4. Peppermint chewing gum

5. Peppermint anything

6. I love rainy days

7. the smell of clean laundry

8. the beauty of deer in the backyard in the morning

9. I am a pen hoarder, and I love every single one of my pens

10. homemade cranberry sauce is one of my favorite things to make and eat

For me, this list on a journal page would bring up a host of wonderful memories, but I haven't had to spend too much time on it. If I want to elaborate, I certainly can, but it is not required.

Sometimes my list of ten things is a list of ten people I love,
or ten things I wish I could eat,
or ten places I want to return to before I die,
or ten movies I would like to watch again,
or ten songs I listen to more than any others,
or ten invitations I wish I had accepted,
or ten invitations I am glad I did accept,
or ten authors whose writings I return to over and over,
or ten favorite Bible verses,
or ten lost loves.
See? Simple.
And also meaningful. Thought-provoking. Tear producing.

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