Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fair Food Philosophy

How to eat at the Fair and get out of the cycle of shame surrounding food.
An essay by Joy

Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison: Delicious

This is the time of year I will gladly walk around on a crowded, hot and sunny day in Minnesota declaring that all foods are created equal...well some foods are created equal at the Great Minnesota Get Together. Each year, I spend time peeling through the newspaper for the articles by Rick Nelson pertaining to the food fare this year. What's new and what's good. To me the fair is two things: Fun with friends, and sharing food with friends. It is a communal activity. We eat together, sharing cheese curds, key lime pie, sparkling apple cider floats with cinnamon ice cream, you name it.

But one thing that has become increasingly apparent is that we are totally ashamed that we want to eat this amazing grub. One woman at my workplace said she was purchasing only vegetables for the next month to reverse the effects of one day at the fair last week. Another said they were going on a diet the second Labor Day was over. Still, another said she would go to the fair only to watch people eat, not to eat. What is it about eating what we crave and love that makes us feel so bad about eating it?? Who are we that we can't be proud of the things that tantalize our taste buds and give us incredible pleasure?

We are a society stalked by advertising that if you gain any weight, and are no longer skinny, you don't matter.

Let me set the record straight. In one day of overeating calories, you will not gain any weight, especially if you already have a balanced diet. Eat vegetables, fruits, dairy, grains, protein and you my friend are going to be just fine. In fact, many nutritionists will say that eating some junk once in a while is good for your system. It mixes things up for your body and requires it to get out of ruts. So do it at the Fair. Furthermore, you are not a number on a scale. You matter whether you weight 130 pounds or 300 pounds. Your value does not depend on the things you eat or don't eat at the fair.

So how can we combat this evil in our lives? How can we take back the 12 days of Minnesota's greatest event?

1. Eat with your friends. No you don't need to eat the whole bucket of Sweet Martha's Cookies alone. Get a cone and share with 5 friends. This is a satisfying amount, and it leaves room in your tummy for other goodies. When you eat with friends you can rate the flavor of the foods, talk about what you love and what you will never order again. It makes the experience of eating much less shaming and much more exciting.

2. Pick a 2 things you love to eat and find one new thing to try. Sure I love a pronto pup and Australian Battered Potatoes (located across from the horse barn). But this year I wonder about the dough-sant. And so will my girlfriends today when I ask them to share it with me. All of these things will be shared, savored, and enjoyed. The less I worry about calories, the more likely I am to eat the things I love this one day in the year and wait another year to savor them again.

If everyone in your group of 2-10 does this, you will enjoy many tasty treats, my friend, one bite at a time.
Sharing Poutine, a new food, with a friend

On my day at the fair, I will consume one pronto pup, probably a few sodas or lemonades, a few cider freezies, and other tasty treats. You can follow my food journey on Instagram today if you'd like: mplsmopedjoy.

I got a Papa Pup last year!

Remember the fair is about friends and sharing food with friends. So ask a friend what they like, you'll be surprised to find they might share their favorite and you'll have a new thing to look forward to at the next Great Minnesota Get Together. I'll see you there today...and Friday.

Here are a few websites to get your food thoughts flowing:
The Star Tribune New Fair Food Write Up
The Minnesota State Fair Website

Monday, August 12, 2013

Checking boxes

It's Monday and I feel the busy creeping up my body already. List upon list of to-do's. Decisions about what will happen must be made and I'm crippled by the thought of doing all and doing nothing. This is the part of my day where I must be brave. Either way I must choose my destiny, and sometimes that destiny is e-mailing and cleaning. Today that is my destiny before work.

The first decision was what to eat. Easy. Two basted eggs, one piece of nine-grain toast, plenty of Hope Creamery butter. Coffee with cream and a dash of sugar. Done and done.

Next on the agenda e-mailing. Can I make that appointment on Wednesday? Monday? Friday? Yes, yes, and yes. Calendar filled. Delete the many more promotions from the various places I have frequented in my single life. Goodbye Gap. Ciao Vertical Endeavors. Aloha (in the goodbye sense) Urban Outfitters. And respond to the personal e-mails in my, count 'em, three e-mail inboxes.

Call my mother-in-law (because I have one as of 6 weeks ago) to sync our lives. Check!

Now to the important decisions. Make time to exercise, read, pray, rest.

But the anxiety creeps up. First in my stomach then in my heart. There are so many decisions about how to live. Why is she writing about to-do lists? you might be wondering. Well, its because you are wondering the very same things. Will I get everything done? Will I do what I said I would do? Will I enjoy today, the first day of my work week? Or will I hate my life today? 

If you live intentionally, you know what I'm talking about. We must make decisions everyday that have real consequences for the future.

For example, I recently joined a group of exercisers from work. We are committing to 21 days of 30 minutes or less of exercise. Sounds easy. For me it's not. I was once a very active person, some might say athletic. I might look very skinny, but do not be fooled. The only workout I have had lately is lifting heavy boxes of water at Trader Joe's. Lazy. My decision has been laid out in the agreement I made: do the work, or be kicked off the Facebook group. Ouch. Talk about public shaming. I'm anxious about my 20 minutes with Jillian Michaels today. She's a real piece of work when I don't want to do lunges. I think, "Shut up about bating suits. I'm already upset that I'm in workout gear."

Anyhow, I'm writing today as an act of opposition to the anxiety about scribbling a list and crossing it off. I told myself I'd blog once again CONSISTENTLY. So, here is me scratching something off my list. Keeping a promise to myself. And practicing bravery. Bravery. Bravery my friends is not me in armor, but me typing back at my fears, and deleting them from my brain's hard drive. Goodbye fear. I've checked a box.  Bring on task number two.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Resurrection in the Library

I spend the morning sorting through resources in the seminary library. As I comb through the stacks, I look intently on a section with one search keyword: resurrection. I landed on this topic by happenstance. Or, that’s what I thought. My professor said I had two options: a passage in Romans, or one in 1 Corinthians 15. I chose 1 Corinthians, since the passage seemed shorter. But little did I know that this would be a culmination of the anthem of my past four months.

Term papers are stressful. It takes everything within me to get away from procrastinating. Even now, I’m doing a glorious form of it while blogging. Though very cathartic for me, is in no way getting actual work done.

Back to the library, I find my sources and decide to scan them into a pdf so I can read them at my leisure the following few days at home. The scanner is the closest thing to a suntan that I’m going to experience today. While vexing over the complexity of this paper, and wondering about how well or poor I will do, I see a guy I went to undergraduate at North Central with for one semester. Looking at him I realize something. We are no longer the kids we once were. Resurrection is happening here and now.

I was talking with my counselor about how I think things will eventually get better. How contentment and joy, I believe, are right around the corner. And she asks me, “How do you know that?” And I fumble through my thoughts for a while. I don’t really know, but I do. Something within me knows that all things go through rebirth and become new once again. Then, after what seemed like an eternity in my mind in silence, I look at her, and she says to me, “You know about resurrection.”

The past four months have been a painful realization of what I really desire. For a while I thought it was my ex. I thought if I set everything right in my life, he would come back. But now I realize I did what I could, I loved with my heart, fully and really. And now that my heart is repaired, I have forgiven him and let him go.

What I really want now is resurrection. I pray for it eagerly, everyday. I feel it some days when the sun is shining on my face and I’m out zipping from place to place on my scooter. Or when I have a free hour and I’m sitting on the porch watching the chickens peck around while reading NT Wright. I find contentment and joy there. And resurrection is on its way.

A few weeks back, I wrestled with my life. Wanting everything to be BETTER. Hoping I could leave my job at Trader Joes, wishing I could be done with school and spend every day rock climbing and gallivanting around the city. This is what I thought it meant when God says, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

But now, in resurrection, I realize, God is making all things new. He’s holding me in my temper tantrums and changing the places in my heart to see that I am not stuck in death, but he has an amazing life for me everyday. Some days I don’t see it, feel it, or know it. Today, I think will be a day of resurrection because he hasn’t forgotten about me. He has made a grand adventure for me starting now.

And the anthem now plays, Today, I am making all things new for you, Joy. Keep your eyes wide open for resurrection is here and now.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How to face your fears at J. Crew

I entered J. Crew with the brown bag I received in the mail. As I approached the counter a male sales associate came to meet me. Now, he was very handsome. Great hair, nice features, and good style. The bold plad of his shirt was offset by a peanut butter tie. His style was great which made me immediately think one thing: gay.
But as I handed him the package, it was clear that his smooth lines and easy conversation indicated otherwise.
“I have a few returns,” I say with a half smirk. I never like to upset sales associates by throwing off their sales for the day with a return. He responds,
“Swimwear too big? That’s been a problem this season.”
Great answer, I think. He did the work and complimented me in the process. I didn’t have say that I looked awkward and disappointing in it, or that I felt chubby and disproportionate.
I answer, “Yes.” I doesn’t matter if I lie, he’s already made the assumption.
“Well, lets turn that frown upside down,” he says. Cheesy, but cute. He pokes at the computer. I look away and back slowly studying him as he works. His combed back hair is trendy, but not kitschy. He doesn’t have facial hair, or those thick-rimmed glasses. He’s just fashionable, and perfect to look at. He asks for my e-mail address and clicks some more.
I take a receipt asking, “Can I take this?”
He responds, “It’s yours, sure.”
I ask, “Is it ok?”
He says, “Hey it’s yours, I live in your world right now. You can do whatever you’d like.”
My response is partly theological, “I tend to think that we all live in each other’s world. It doesn’t belong to one of us. So this is your world, too. That’s just how I think.”
He gives a giggle. Smiles. Hands me another receipt.
I’m about to turn, and leave, and he says, “There’s a new men’s line, for the men in your life.
At this I wonder, is he asking me if I’m single? I am, so I respond, “I’ll let my brother know.” I smirk and turn to leave.

Later that evening I replay the interaction to my aunt Pat. Pat is a go-getter. She’s the kind of woman that grabs the bull by the balls. She says to me, “You gotta make things happen in life. You go back to J. Crew after dinner and you ask that guy out.”
I shrug, say, “No, I can’t.”
And she says, “You can’t or you wont?”
I think for a moment why I wouldn’t ask a perfect stranger out on a date. Abduction, rape, and a terrible experience cross my mind. But an interesting conversation does, too. I pocket it. I wait.

What if I did?

What if I walked back into the shop and asked this gorgeous man out on a date? What if I put on my grown up pants and took some control over my life? See, I couldn’t seem to shake it. “You can’t or you wont?” There are some things in life that people will never do because they will never have the courage to face their fears and lean right in saying, “Come on fear, do your worst.” I’m not that person. I have been the past but not anymore. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in the past few months its that I don’t need to be afraid of what I do not know. Worrying is the enemy, and courage is a fear breaker. Face your fears, and you’re going to live life without regrets. You’re going to do what you were meant to do. And you’re going to be yourself.

So I didn’t go back to J. Crew. But the thought kept creeping in, What if I did? I arrived at my home in South Minneapolis and I sat in my car. 5 minutes to 9pm. I look at the receipt. His name is at the top. “Mitch.” The phone number is right below. The store isn’t closed, and I’m not going into my house until I answer this question, What if I did?
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Ring. Ring.
“Hello, J. Crew.” A woman answers the phone.
“Hi, is Mitch there?”
“Sure, one minute.”
Pause. Silence. What am I going to say? What is he going to say?
“Hello, this is Mitch.”
“Hi, this is Joy. You helped me return a few items earlier tonight?” I say with a question in my voice. “Oh, I remember.”
“Yes, well, I’m wondering if you’d like to go out for coffee sometime?” The words just spilled out of my mouth. It was better than anything I had come up with earlier. And it sounded so natural.
There was a long pause. I didn’t think he’d actually consider. My blood was pumping, heart racing, breathing quickens. I was nervous.
He finally responds. “I’m very flattered. But I’m engaged.”
Answer. Relief.
“Congratulations,” I say naturally.
He finishes, “But, you need to know, what you just did was totally bad ass.”
“Thanks. Bye, Mitch.”

I’ve realized from this experience that I cannot live in fear. Does this mean I ask every beautiful person out on a date or recommend it for others? No. In fact, I probably wont do it ever again. And I'm glad that Mitch was unavailable. However, it would have made for good material later.

But, when I’m afraid of doing something, I’m going to ask myself, “What if I did it?”

What if I did? What if I got a motorcycle license? What if I bought a Kitchen-Aid mixer? What if I was ok with my single life? What if I climbed a 5.9? What if I wrote letters again? What if I wrote this blog? What if I preached in front of a crowd? What if I went to Argentina? Wouldn’t I be less afraid? Wouldn’t I be who I am and who God made me to be?

 Freedom, my friends, is in the wonderful answer to “what if.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Not Giving Up

I haven't washed my hair in six days. Books with reading due next week pile up on my bedside table. I have at least a dozen calls to make and I can't get out of bed. Though the sun shines on my face, I feel no glow.

This is a dark, dark season.

I pray each day for guidance, for joy, for love. But mostly I pray for mercy.

Some people say that the most difficult things in life make you stronger. But I never wanted to be stronger. I just wanted what I wanted. And now, months of agony have passed with many hopeful allusions to leaving this place crushed over and over again.

When will my God be my solace and my peace?
When will this season be over and my soul be released?
I cry out to a God who is alongside of me,
But when, I ask, will I ever be free?
Lord, save my from my misery.
I believe you came to set the captives free.
Let me be liberated from my pain and suffering.
And bring new life with joy so freeing.

What else can I do but wait upon the Lord? What else can I do but go through the motions until life anew breaks in?

I will not give up, as much as I want to. I will not give up.

And You will not give up on me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love, I'm back at it again

A two year hiatus has left me feeling pretty creatively dry. I haven't blogged, but I did fall in love and am now on the other side of it enduring a broken heart as God heals it. Its not that I didn't have anything to write during that time. Rather, I had literary laryngitis I suppose. Or possibly, I lost my voice because I lost myself for a while. Have no fear. As I find myself again and rediscover my God, so many things are happening. And without me, for the past two years at least, you might be eager for an update or ready to laugh and cry with me.

I hope you missed me, because now, I'm back.

What speech can usher in my grand reemergence? Two words. Love exists. On the day after St. Valentine's, I'm reminded that my life is full of love. Let me show you where from three examples from Love day.

I spent the morning with a new acquaintance at the rock climbing gym, Katie. Her 5.10s were so glorious to my beginner 5.8s (which in regular terms means shes advanced and I'm a newb). However, as I wrestled with this wall, I heard the heights calling to me, asking me to reach them. And from below, this new friend encouraged. A stranger, 60 feet below me, urged me onward toward my dreams. Our climbs were mixed with chatter about love and hopes, dreams and desires. We find solidarity in brokenness, but realize there is hope to apprehend.

Love was: having someone realize my dreams and encourage me onward.

Rushing off to my next appointment, I let my hair down and fixed my makeup. This was a date I had been looking forward to all weekend. I met him at his home, where the staff had prepared a wonderful steak and potato meal. You'd think I was dating a lawyer. But, you see, my 89-year-old grandfather expected me to be on time, and I was inevitably running late. The workers at his assisted living facility all wore red and pink and smiled at me, my grandfather's "sweetheart" for the day, as they rushed around serving the residents their special meals. My grandfather is a quiet man, except when he needs coffee. His memory is grand. And I have learned in the past two months how much I love him and look forward to the slow walks down his hallway as he pushes a walker with little effort. I especially appreciate the stories he tells about life. It's like I'm friends with him instead of a kid who doesn't really know him. He reminds me that there's someone out there for me, and that I have a great heart.

Love was: taking slow, gentle time to give my love and in return receive it.

My finale of love for the evening was an exceptional meal with some of my best girls. Upon realizing how difficult the day would be for me without class (which is normally scheduled on Tuesday nights), they made it a night to remember. We had a splendid meal, made by Georgia, a gorgeous spread of desserts, chocolate dipped strawberries by Megan and better than ... cake, again Georgia, and sweet beverages, via Laura. And we ate steaks and a potato medley that were to die for. I didn't bring anything, except a camera and witty comments to share during "Sweet Home Alabama." But it didn't matter.

Love was: being served when I was feeling down and didn't have anything to offer. Having friends to care when a heart is troubled and life is confusing.

All in all I'm realizing the truth of it all. "Every good and perfect gift is from above." And the love that I gave and received, was from above yesterday. That's the love I'm looking for. And when I find it in its fullest, I'll share it.

Monday, September 20, 2010


“Good morning, gorgeous lady!” I hear as footsteps roll quickly down the stairs. Boss, a nicknamed Iranian member at the health club, greets me in his booming voice before 6 a.m. I’m startled awake as I read dreamily in another non-fiction theologically charged book. You know all too well that I’m no romance reader. A good thinking book gets me going in the “wee small hours of the morning.” C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer and John Bevere have been known to sit at this front desk, but this particular book is noteworthy for other reasons.

“When Jesus Came to Harvard,” discusses a non-theological class on Jesus’ teachings. Harvard implemented a department of moral reasoning after many alumni were caught in unethical scandals. To wash some of the dirt of is face, Harvard covered its booty. One of their professors of theology, Harvey Cox, began the course in the 80s with a small group of students in the back of a dilapidated armory. After years of teaching, the class became so wildly popular that it was moved to the campus’s main auditorium that typically hosted rock concerts. I give it rave reviews when club members ask about what I’m reading. My hope isn’t that they will ask me questions about it. Instead, I want them to pick this one up.

Back to Boss. I find myself happy, yet overwhelmed, whenever he swipe in. Boss has a way of greeting me with flattery and charm that seems kind. He leaves to the dressing room and returns minutes later to lavish more gushiness on me. “You are a beautiful lady,” he says, looking to the other members in the foyer waiting for the elevators. “You are the most beautiful girl,” he continues on until it becomes sickening. I make an unspoken prayer that the elevator arrives more quickly. Then he does something downright embarrassing. He looks to a regular and ropes him into the compliment-fest. “Isn’t she beautiful?” The member is shy, and seems off put by a required response. However, he kindly obliges and answers Boss’s pestering. “Yes, very.” He offered too much. Now, I’m blushing, even more than the makeup I put on at 3:45 a.m.

The moment the doors close I exhale. At that same time, I examine the interaction. Mind you, this isn’t sexual harassment. Boss is just a middle aged man who likes to make me blush. He’s never soliciting or asking for any personal information. He’s only giving out free ego-boosters, one line at a time. There is no detriment in taking them, is there?

Just as I thought this, a few phrases filled my mind. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Show me you love me”? Under this adage, Boss’s words are harmless and meaningless. I could even go as far to say worthless. Sure, he’s paying a compliment, but why do I need an inflated ego? Especially if it’s guaranteed that I won’t be like this forever. If beauty is fleeting, I need to take a good look in the mirror. Let’s face it. someday my hair will turn a soft white mixed with a paler red color much like what’s left of my father’s hair, I anticipate. My skin will sag, my body will ache. My thin frame will make room between my bones and my skin for more weight. And my toenails will inevitably turn yellow, like my grandmother’s. I will get old, and so will you.

My body will fail me, but my anxieties about dying are squelched as the proverb is finished with a promise. “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” No reassurance for you boys, but I’m sure it can be used for you as well. Lucky for me, I’m working this whole faith thing out with fear and trembling already. I will continue to fear the Lord, adding an speechless beauty to my life. As I continue to grow deeper, I must take Boss’s charm with a grain of salt. Otherwise, I may look in the mirror one day and say, “Getting old wasn’t supposed to happen to me.” I smile at him again as he leaves a trail of thick expensive cologne, chirping, “Goodbye gorgeous girl, have a great day.” I will Boss. See you tomorrow.