Things I’m Loving Lately

Actually maybe I should title this post “Things I’m sort of addicted to lately…” cause this is stuff that I’ve recently discovered, but literally can’t get enough of right now! I hope it’s stuff you’ll enjoy too!

Yogamazing

I recently discovered yogamazing video podcasts on itunes and I LOVE them. Most of them are about 20 minutes long (which is about as long as I can do with Thad right now – so it’s perfect) and a lot of them are free on itunes. You can also get the most recent one free on the web site www.yogamazing.com and for a small fee you can download all the old ones.

I really love these videos! They have a great flow to them and he moves you from one pose to the next in an effortless and relaxed manner. The sequencing is at times truly creative and even inspired. In my opinion, the pace is perfect – not too fast, not too slow. Most of all though I love that he gives good instructions on posture and really emphasizes listening to your own body and just going where you are comfortable at that moment. So many yoga dvd’s and podcasts don’t really take into consideration what I consider to be one of the most basic tenants of yoga, “Listen to your Body”, and that really frustrates me, but Chaz at yogamazing is different, he really understands this tenant and will even put it into practice himself during a video. I love it!

Pinterest

Ok, I’m totally addicted to this right now. I just got my account set up and I can’t stop “pinning”. Basically this is a way to bookmark (or pin) pictures of things and organize them in “boards”. Essentially it’s a super easy way to create moodboards and inspiration boards online. It’s also a great way to find new inspiration and ideas through the community. I’ve been using it mostly to organize ideas I have for the retreat center/farm we are considering moving to soon. I’ve also used it to keep track of craft and sewing projects I want to do, ideas for Christmas decorations, and recipes I want to try. Pinterest is a super fun resource, especially for artists or those working on design related projects. I have an invite or two left so if you want one let me know in the comments and if no one else has claimed it first I’ll send one your way.

Pie

Can I just say that I LOVE pie? I don’t know why I didn’t realize this earlier, but pie is AMAZING! So, much better than cake for sure, and lately I’m even liking it more than cookies or other baked goods. My favorites lately have been pumpkin pie made with REAL pumpkin (it’s nearly impossible to find canned pumpkin puree here and I’m glad because it forced me to start using real pumpkin and it’s SO much better) and Coconut custard pie (lots of coconut, eggs, milk, and a bit of unrefined sugar make for a YUMMY treat – I think I’ll have to post the recipe soon…). I’m quite certain I’ve been making way too much pie, but it’s just been the perfect comfort food lately.

Bohemiae Rosa

I wrote last week about this wonderful farm and I just have to say again I’m still LOVING it! We got a half a chicken from them this week and it was SO delicious! Plus it was about as big as the whole chickens we get from the grocery store! After seeing how good the chicken was I’m seriously tempted to order a turkey from them, even though we probably won’t be hosting Thanksgiving and will go to someone else’s house. Hum, you think Bryan and I could finish a 26 pound turkey by ourselves before it goes bad? Maybe we’ll need help…anyone want to come over for turkey??
Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Love and Fear Dance Together

Today I read this post on Christine Sine’s blog. It was a great post and a wonderful addition to the recent synchroblog on Christianity and Immigration. At the end she quoted this poem by Michael Leuniq:

“There are only two feelings
Love and fear
There are only two languages
Love and fear
There are only two activities
Love and fear
There are only two motives,
two procedures, two frameworks,
two results.
Love and fear
Love and fear.”

As soon as I read this I had this picture in my head of love and fear dancing together. I thought about the Christian life as being a journey from fear to love. There’s a long phase of the journey where love hasn’t totally conquered fear yet, and so they dance together for a while. Sometimes love leads, and sometimes fear leads, but hopefully over the course of the journey love leads more and more often until one day fear is completely transformed and Love is all there is. I’ve been sitting with this picture all day.

Here’s a little something I wrote in response to all these thoughts:

Lord, I reach out to you in my darkness and there is fear.

I speak to you in my pain and there is fear.

In me is fear, around me is fear, from me is fear.

I am fear.

But, Lord, you reach out to me in my darkness and there is love.

You speak to me in my pain and there is love.

In you is love, around you is love, from you is love.

You are love.

Perfect love drives out all fear.

You come

And your love begins to dance with my fear.

And slowly, ever so slowly

Fear is driven out by love’s dance.

And you begin to whisper,

“Come, and do likewise!

Reach out your hand in love towards those in darkness

Speak out in love towards those in pain

Drive out fear from all places where it has made its home.

Be love to the other, as I have been love to you.”

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear

I don’t often write about political issues. I don’t like politics. I don’t like talking about politics or thinking about politics. It tends to just make me upset. But I’m excited that the Christian synchroblog I used to be a part of is starting up again and I want to jump back in even though this month’s topic is a very political issue.

I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I have something really helpful to add to the debate. I don’t have a solution for the “immigration problem”. I don’t know all the ins and outs, or all the pros and cons of different suggestions. I don’t have any idea what a Christian policy on immigration should really look like – I’m not sure there really is ONE “Christian policy on immigration”. I am sure that the issue is complex, that there are probably a variety of solutions that would solve a variety of the problems that arise when dealing with immigration. I’m sure that there are a multitude of “right” approaches.

Personally, I don’t want to talk about solutions, or suggestions today. I don’t want to talk about the legality of the issue, or about how it relates to jobs and the economy. I don’t want to talk about the politics of the situation. What I want to talk about is attitude.

As followers of Christ what should our attitude be towards immigrants? I don’t know about you but so often when I hear people talking about the “immigration issue” I hear a lot of negativity and very little love. I hear a lot of prejudice and racism and not a lot of love. I hear a lot of condemnation and not a lot of love. I believe that as Christians we should take a higher approach, a different stance. We should try to understand instead of condemn, to help instead of degrade and to love instead of fear.

I think a lot of the problem comes from fear. People fear immigration and immigrants. They fear the influence that immigrants (both legal and illegal) will have on the American economy, culture, and political system. They believe that we have to protect America and that the protection of America is the ultimate goal and makes any act (including the restriction of civil liberties) justifiable. Out of fear, policies are then made that restrict civil liberties (case in point: Arizona). The restriction of civil liberties due to fear is much more detrimental to America than immigration will ever be.

The truth of the matter is that we are all foreigners and strangers on this earth. The truth of the matter is that our ultimate allegiance is not to a specific country and protecting its way of life. Our ultimate allegiance is not to a specific political or economic system. Our ultimate allegiance IS to Christ Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and his radical new kingdom.

As Christians, I believe we need to support policies that are not driven by fear, but are instead driven by love and sound reasoning. We need to remember that although we owe America some gratitude and allegiance for the gifts that it provides us with, America is just a nation – nations rise and fall, but our allegiance is to God most High and Him alone. We need to remember that immigrants are our brothers and sisters, even if they look and act differently than we do. They each have unique stories to tell and a no matter how they crossed our boarders, or why they crossed our boarders, God loves them passionately and recklessly and so should we.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

Here are the other synchroblog participants posts. Hope you all enjoy the discussion! I know I’m really looking forward to reading through these:

Mike Victorino at Still A Night Owl – ‘Being the Flag
Sonnie Swentson-Forbes at Hey Sonnie – ‘Immigration Stories
Steven Calascione at Eirenikos – ‘The Jealousy of Migration
George Elerick at The Love Revolution – ‘We’re Not Kings or Gods
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – “Together We Can Make Dreams Come True
Sonnie Swentson at A Piece of My Mind – “Immigration Stories
Matt Stone at Global Christianity – “Is Xenophobia Every Christlike?
Steve Hayes at Khanya – “Christians And The Immigration Issue
Ellen Haroutunian – “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses
Beth Stedman – “Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear
Pete Houston at Peter’s Progress – “Of Rape And Refuge
Joshua Seek – “Loving Our Immigrant Brother
Amanda MacInnis at Cheese Wearing Theology – “Christians and Immigration
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian – “You’re Right
Kathy Escobar at Carnival In My Head – “It’s A Lot Easier To Be Against Immigration Reform When You Have Papers
Jonathan Brink – “Immigration Synchroblog
Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House – “What we resist not only persists but eventually becomes our landlord”

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Marriage: A Picture of God’s Love

This is a guest post from my husband’s “younger uncle”, Geoff. I haven’t spent as much time with Geoff as I would like, but what little time we have spent with him and his beautiful wife, Devon, has been a deep pleasure. They are a wonderful couple who are deeply seeking God and I am excited for the future that lies ahead of them. Geoff is also sort of special to me because my wedding and the people he met there had a profound influence on his heart and were indirectly involved in leading him to make some major life changes and get into ministry. I always prayed that my wedding would be life changing for someone and Geoff was that someone. Thanks for sharing this post, Geoff! I pray that my own marriage as well as yours would always be a beautiful picture of God’s love for all who encounter it.

4155_86597503094_627823094_1842071_7986138_nI have to start off this post by saying that I am not necessarily writing out of experience. Because I have only been married a little over a year, and do not have the luxury of a 32-year marriage like my wonderful sister and previous blogger Lisa Stedman, I decided to share some thoughts that I have on the purpose and function of marriage, and the hope for my own marriage

What is so intriguing to me about marriage is what it is. There’s no doubt that if you asked 10 people what marriage is, at least 9 of them would say, “A commitment”. This is absolutely true. However, as beautiful as a lifelong commitment is and can be, if we reduce marriage down to only that, we miss out on the depth, beauty and purpose of marriage.

So if marriage is not just a commitment, then what is it? Well, to get the answer we must go to a source that defines what marriage is, the Bible. Probably one of the clearest definitions of marriage is found in Ephesians 5. Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus and speaking about this topic, and quoting the Creator of marriage Himself, he pens these words:

“’Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”’ (Eph. 5:31, 32)

Whenever God creates something, He does it with incredible purpose and marriage is no different. In fact, I believe that marriage has one of the greatest purposes in the world. And that is to be a picture to the world of what God did for us through Jesus on the cross, and our response to that.

Stories and pictures are tools used by teachers to help the listeners understand, with even more clarity, the point of the story. God is no different, and when thinking about how to clearly portray4155_86597533094_627823094_1842077_7995748_nhow fulfilling and beautiful a relationship with Him could be, He decided to use marriage. That’s why a couple verses before Paul gives his explanation we just read, he instructs husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. And that the wives, in response to the sacrifice of their husbands, should “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” If this is happening in a marriage, it is functioning as a picture to the rest of the world of what being in a relationship with God is like. I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words in John 17 when He says,

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

If nothing else, I hope this post serves as a reminder that there is such a beautiful purpose in our marriage that goes beyond ourselves. That if we fulfill our God-given roles in our marriages, the world might know that God sent Jesus and loves them even as He loved Him. In my opinion, there couldn’t be a more fulfilling or rewarding purpose for our marriages than this.

4155_86597133094_627823094_1842003_6622457_nGeoff Francian was married to his wife Devin in 2009. They currently live in San Diego, California. Geoff has spent the last 5 years in ministry at a local church. His passions outside of ministry include, in no particular order, both playing and watching basketball (Go Lakers!), golfing, reading, and movie nights with his wife, complete with a bottle of wine and a plate of assorted cheeses.

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

5 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Marriage

One of my favorite bloggers, Vina at A Nourishing Home, recently posted a few links to articles on love and marriage. She graciously included my 5th Wedding Anniversary post. I really enjoyed reading the other links she posted and thought I’d encourage you to read them as well.

One link in particular caught my attention. It was a post called Five Marriage Tips and One Life Lesson from a couple that has also just celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary. I thought these were some great tips and loved the concept…so, I decided to steal it and put together my own list of 5 things I’ve learned in 5 years of marriage.

Here’s my list:

  1. Timing is everything. Well, maybe not everything but it is important. If you want to have a serious conversation trying to start it after a long hard day when your spouse is tired and edgy isn’t a good idea. Trying to discuss a major decision while the baby is scream is also not a good idea. If there’s stuff to be talked about TALK ABOUT IT, but find a good time to sit down together and calmly talk it through.
  2. “Encourage the positive”. That’s how my mom put it when I first got married and went complaining to her. Basically it means instead of focusing on and nitpicking at and complaining about your spouse’s imperfections (the negative), focus on and encourage and praise the good things about your spouse. It’s amazing the difference that perspective and focus can make.
  3. Share, share and share some more. Share experiences, share hobbies, share thoughts, share concerns, share worries, share about the little things that happened in your day, share life together. These little shared things bond you to each other over and over again.
  4. People fight differently, and they process feelings differently. Recognize your differences in these areas and try to meet each other half way.
  5. A marriage is a living breathing entity of its own – it grows and changes. It does NOT ever stay the same. The good, the bad and the really ugly don’t last. It won’t always be the way that it is now. There is an ebb and flow to the best and the worst marriages. Sure there are things that you can do to make the bad last longer or the good last longer, but know that no matter what no season of marriage lasts forever in its same state.

Those are my five little things I’ve learned (from personal experience) about marriage over the past five years.

What about you? What have you learned about marriage? What have you seen other people learn about marriage? I’d love to hear.

Rejoicing in the journey-
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.