Friday, May 1, 2015

Contentment VS. Complacency

I wonder if I'm the only person who's ever been confused about the difference between contentment and complacency.

  I'm told contentment is good. "Be content with what you have." (especially when what I have isn't what  I want).
 On the other hand; The word "complacency" conjures images of a tragically apathetic life, fueled by potato chips and a constant stream of Netflix….

I'm pretty sure complacency is a bad thing..

We could probably all agree that we ought to be content with things like our material possessions, or even our physical appearances.
 But after that, things can start to get a little fuzzy…
For example: Should I be content with my job or education if it doesn't allow me to use my talents and skills to the utmost?
  Should I be content with my relationships, if I know they could be closer and more meaningful?
What about my relationship with God?

  Where does contentment end and complacency begin? 

I started thinking about these things after reading a verse from the book of Proverbs:
"For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;"
-Proverbs 1:32 
  "The complacency of fools destroys them" Hmm…That doesn't sound good.
I wanted to have a better understanding of what contentment and complacency actually were.
…So I googled the definitions.
Not exactly an amazing feat of scholarly inquiry, but hey…I'm not exactly a scholar.
 It took about 3 seconds to find what I was looking for, and the Webster's Online Dictionary defines contentment as follows:
"the state of being happy and satisfied".
Ok. That was pretty much what I thought it meant.
  The definition of "complacent" however, was enlightening:
1: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies" (emphasis  added).

   I think it's reasonable to say, that if contentment is being satisfied with what we've been given, then complacency is an unawareness of our position.

      Contentment says: "I have what I need.".  Complacency says: "I don't need to change.". It's Satisfaction with what God has provided, VS. satisfaction with self...

  Contentment really comes from an attitude thankfulness… And complacency develops from an attitude of , well…… Pride.

And I'm pretty sure pride is a bad thing.

So, this is what I really wanted to know: 
  Is it possible to recognize deficiencies in our lives, or our circumstances, while maintaining a genuine attitude of contentment? 
 I honestly think it is.
However, it all depends on where we set our eyes:
"31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
-Matthew 6:31-33
  What are we really seeking after?  
Once we get our priorities in order, it becomes easier to see what we can and can't live with.  And the things that actually do need to change become more apparent.  When we have the right priorities, we get an accurate perspective of our position in relation to those priorities. 

This makes complacency impossible.

And I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

You Learn Something New Every Day...

Learn Something New Every Day

Learn Something New Every Day

    I recently got back from a trip to Missouri, visiting my brand new niece…Well, my sister and my brother in law were there too..
So, my niece is extremely cute, even though she doesn't do a whole lot besides eat, cry and poop. But the amazing thing is, in just a short time, she'll be saying her first words, crawling, putting things in her mouth, climbing the stairs... She'll go from this , to someone who can communicate her thoughts, play an instrument, lift weights, paint pictures, write poetry…or whatever she'll like to do when she grows up…She's like this little atom bomb of potential. Her life is a miracle. She's constantly being bombarded with new information, because everything is new to her. Her brain is forming new synapses at lightning speed,she's learning something new every day. Spending time with someone so new to life has got me thinking though… Who says we have to stop learning?I was just talking to a friend of mine, and I remarked on a time I'd listened to her play the guitar, she sounded pretty good. "How long have you been playing?" "About a year." I thought about this after our conversation. One year ago, she couldn't play the guitar...
    One year ago:
  • She found something she wanted to do (play the guitar),
  • She came up with a plan ("I'll practice so many hours a day")
  • She kept her course,
  • Time passed..
  • The thing is… Time would have passed anyway.

    A year ago, my friend made a decision that changed her life. And she kept making that decision every time she practiced. Now, she has a skill she didn't have before.
    Maybe you're in the middle of learning something new. It could be something as well defined as earning that degree, or as vague as building better relationships with the people you care about. At times you might question what you're doing. At times it may seem like you're not making any progress.
      But over time:
    • completed assignments turn into completed semesters..
    • And kindness turns into trust...
    • And over time, practice does make perfect.
        Imagine if a baby decided that learning to walk was just too far out of his reach, that it was just too much of a time commitment and besides, crawling suited him just fine.
        Pretty absurd right? But I think you get my point…
    So here's to tomorrow…And the next day…And the day after that. Here's to the daily choice to do, to be, to learn something new. Best wishes.

    Thursday, January 16, 2014

    How to make Sauerkraut

    Making Sauerkraut With The Family

    I'm in Virginia visiting family. Here's what we did this afternoon:

    It's great to be together with everyone. 

    How to make Sauerkraut the Awesome Way:
    This method of food preservation utilizes a process called lacto-fermentation. This increases the nutrient content of the ingredients and allows access to fresh veggies all winter.
    You'll need:
    Cabbage (preferably organic)
    Jars with lids 
    1. Get a bunch of cabbage. It's a big project, so you want to make a lot at once. 

    2.slice it up in shreds. We like to add carrot and onion. Beets are good too.

    3. Toss everything into a large bowl and add salt. You'll need about 1 1/12 tbs per cabbage. We like to use sea salt because of the extra minerals it has. Sprinkle it over each layer of cabbage as you chop. 

    4. Mash everything down until it's nice and juicy. We used a jar In this picture. This compacts the cabbage, gets everything  salty and gets rid of air, all of which encourage growth of lacto bacilli, which occure naturally on the leaves of cabbage. These bacteria produce lactic acid, which is what pickles the kraut.

    5. Once everything is nice and juicy, pack it tight in jars. Remember: air is not your friend. Packing everything tight keeps the kraut from molding.

    6. Screw on the lid and let the bacteria do the work. 
    Place your jars in a some kind of container, like a Pyrex dish, or Rubbermaid bin. The kraut will produce  co2 as it ferments and the increased pressure will cause some of the juice to bubble out of the jars.

    No need to refrigerate. The jars will even seal themselves from the pressure produced as they ferment.
     In a week or two your sauerkraut will be ready to eat. Refrigerate your jars once you open them, otherwise, you can store them on the shelf, once they're done off-gassing.

    It's great with fried eggs for breakfast, as a salad garnish and of course- it's fantastic on hot dogs.

    Monday, June 24, 2013

    Wisdom: It's Not a Lucky Guess

    Get Wisdom
    “When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
    He taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
    Proverbs 4: 3-5
    These words were written by Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. Most of you have probably heard the story of how he became so wise; how God spoke to him in a dream, offering to give him anything, (riches and long life were some of the options) and how Solomon, who was both a young man and a new king, feeling the weight of ruling a country, asked God for wisdom.
       In the end, God was so pleased with Solomon’s choice that he threw in long life and wealth in addition to the wisdom he had asked for.
    I might be inclined to think “Whew…  Good thing Solomon chose wisdom. Lucky guess.”   However, after taking a closer look at Proverbs 4:3 it’s clear that the story of Solomon’s quest for wisdom began much earlier.  It began with his father, David; the same David who fought Goliath, wrote the book of Psalms and ruled the nation of Israel. In the middle of his life, looking back at his accomplishments (and some of his mistakes) King David took little Solomon on his knee and talked to him. “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom.”  Again and again we see how Solomon’s father told him to get wisdom, insight and understanding.  And when the time came to make a choice that would alter the course of his life forever, Solomon remembered his father’s words….. “Get wisdom”. Solomon chose wisely.
       So what’s the lesson we can take away from the Solomon story? Parents: here’s one: talk to your kids about life. Make time to sit down and get their full attention, take opportunities to explain to them the consequences of sin.  None of us are born wise (as a young person this is often painfully apparent); wisdom is something we have to find. Teach your kids what to look for and where to look, so that when the time comes for them to make choices, they will chose wisely.
        Fellow young people: don’t be foolish. Maybe your parents didn’t take the time to teach you to look for wisdom, but that’s no excuse. Blaming our parents for our shortcomings may make us feel better about ourselves, but it’s the least productive thing we can possibly do. Regardless of your upbringing,  you have a fully functioning mind and personal responsibility.  “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”( Proverbs 4:27 . )   Or maybe it’s the other way around:   perhaps you parents and other wise people who have your best interest at heart, have been giving you good advice for years, but you're just to proud and rebellious to give them the time of day.  If this is the case, do you really want to spend the rest of your life suffering the consequences of poor choices just because you were too angry to listen?  Is it really worth it? 
    The truth is, we all need wisdom and wisdom is something God earnestly desires that we have.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5


    Monday, May 27, 2013

    It's Summer Time and You Know What That Means....

    As I mentioned earlier, summer sort of sneaks up in Alaska, but when it finally arrives it really jumps out at us........BAM!!! We literally watch the trees get greener from morning to afternoon, thanks to the long daylight hours we enjoy.
      With the temperatures hovering in the mid 70's today, now begins the rush to get our seedlings planted.
      We have family staying with us at the moment and I must say, they picked the perfect time to head north.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    A Grey Day In May

    Summer always sort of sneaks up on us here in Alaska..... Sometimes very slowly. It snowed yesterday, but fortunately it wasn't cold enough to accumulate on the ground.
       Yes, it's true that we only have a month and a half until summer solstice, and after that the days begin to get progressively shorter, and the weather progressively cooler.
        But summer always comes (eventually) and for now I guess I just need to learn to appreciate the grey.

      I had to add this old car. It just looked so SAD.

    Friday, December 7, 2012

    "Body World" at The Anchorage Museum

    Yesterday my family and I met up with some old friends from Dillingham,( a small Alaskan bush town only accessible by airplane ). They had flown into Anchorage for the day to take their two youngest girls to the dentist. It had been five years since our two families had been together, so we decided to make an event out of it and do an activity together. “Body World” was on exhibit at the Anchorage Museum, and it was agreed upon by both parties that it would be both educational and entertaining…
    In addition to living up to the first two expectations, I also found “Body World” somewhat disturbing.  Although this really shouldn’t be surprising when you consider what exactly was on display; namely preserved cadavers. 
    Each one was different. Some were whole bodies, minus most of the skin, with muscles or other structures removed to allow for multiple anatomical views. Others were individual organs, or cross sections of organs. The example that I found the most striking was a cast of the vasculature of the arm.
       From a video clip playing in a continuous loop, we learned that each body (which had been donated to science before the person’s death) was been preserved by a process developed and perfected over several decades, called “plastination”,  which causes a kind of polymer  to be absorbed into the tissue at a cellular level, and therefore allows  for exquisite preservation of the whole form. The bodies are then set carefully in poses and hardened in with heat in an air tight chamber.
      It could be argued that art is classified as “good” or interesting based on how we identify with what we see. We can also judge something of the character of the artist by his work. The singular thing that made “Body World” different from any other exhibit  I’ve seen so far, was the fact that every  “sculpture” had actually once been a moving breathing being. And in each astoundingly intricate example, I couldn’t help but see a somewhat eerie and sobering reflection of myself. And looking through the glass at the body-  was awe inspiring, because I knew the same artist had made us both.