Friday, August 28, 2009


If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time you know that I'm undergoing a personal experiment this summer. Our family bought a subscription to an all-natural, local vegetable farm and have been reaping (ha-ha!) the benefits of home-grown produce all summer long. You can read all about it here, here, and here. Anyway, it's been awesome. I feel healthier, I eat better, and as a result my family does too. It's a win-win situation.

But as I was chowing down my yummy lunch yesterday, I couldn't help but wonder how (or if?) this is changing my eating habits.

I love macaroni and cheese. I know, I know, it's nutritional suicide. But I can't help it: I'm gaga over the warm, gooey, cheesy macaroni perfection... Mmmmm. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. Usually I slice a few hot dogs in my mac n' cheese. I repeat: Mmmmm. Quasi-meaty goodness. But as the summer has worn on, I've found myself trying to come up with creative ways to finish the 3/4 bushel box of veggies I pick up every week. The search has resulted in some interesting combos, like replacing my Oscar Meyer stir-in with something a little more figure-friendly: Vegetables.

I slice, dice or chop two cups of whatever veggies I have on hand, steam them in a saucepan with a little water, and add them to my finished mac n' cheese. Call me redneck, but it's culinary heaven. I can't think of anything I'd rather have on a Thursday afternoon.

And yet, I can't help wondering if my healthy choice (vegetables) and my not-so-healthy choice (mac n' cheese) work to cancel each other out. It's a bit of a depressing thought.

Sadly, I don't think my diet is the only place where a right doesn't cancel out a wrong. I've been thinking lately about the choices I make--the way that I try to sprinkle a little good on something that I know is not healthy for me and proclaim it A-OK. Don't we all do that? We schedule a much-needed coffee date with a friend (a good thing!), but then spend the whole time complaining and gossiping (uh, not so good). We decide to work out, eat better, and take care of ourselves, but quickly fall prey to obsession and vanity. We actually succeed in scheduling devotional time into our hectic day, but do it with a spirit of legalism and superiority. Maybe you're all scratching your heads... Am I the only one who does this?

Anyway, I don't want to downplay the positive changes that are continually reshaping me. Nor do I want to get bogged down in unrealistic expectations. After all, even a baby step is a step. But I do want to be a strong enough person to realize that I will never arrive. Life will always be a journey, a long obedience in the same direction. It makes me want to keep trying. To hope for more... Like maybe the vegetables minus the mac n' cheese every once in a while.


  1. Hey, Nicole. This post is really making me think. You're right--choices are about so much more than balancing each other out. Thank you for this reminder to live for Christ in each moment and not just in specific ones that crop up.

  2. I finished Summer Snow. I liked it, but it wasn't quite what I expected, which, of course, is one reason we keep reading to the end. I do like how not all the strands were neatly tucked away at the end, but some were still frayed and flapping in the wind, making us wonder what would happen. That is real life, too. Novels that end with everything neatly wrapped up do not reflect real life. The biblical stories of sinners forgiven (the John 8 woman and Zaccheus) are left open: they are saved and restored, but how will their stories play out? We don't know, just like we don't with our own lives. I thought you did a good job of that.

    Will there be a part 3?

  3. Interesting post. I find this very thought provoking. Thanks for making us think and to really look in-ward and examine what we are and who we are! It is a positive and healthy thing for us to reflect and a good reminder to re-evaluate how we are living. Thanks! Melissa

  4. Thanks for responding, Kristin and Melissa. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sometimes feels this way! Maybe it's getting into the fall routine, maybe it's because every September feels like a fresh start... Either way, I've been thinking a lot lately about my own apathy. I'm tempted to say, "Good enough." I don't do a great job, but it's good enough. And yet, that's not what I want for myself. I want to strive for excellence. I want to hold myself to a higher standard. Easy, no. Worth it? I think so.

    Warren, I'm glad you liked "Summer Snow." It's not your typical Christian fiction, is it? I think that's why some people love it, and others don't understand it. I ended it the way I did because I wanted to show that there is beauty and hope in every circumstance--even the ones that don't end "happily-ever-after." I'm not a fan of the health and wealth theology that many Christians nowadays seem to embrace. We were told that we would be blessed in our suffering, and that His strength would be made perfect in our weakness... Not that once we accepted Christ life would be hunky-dory. Julia's story is full of brokenness, but it's also full of grace. Much like all of our stories. ;) Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

    As for a 3rd Julia book...? I think that's up to my publisher. :)

  5. You are not alone, sister. Not at all. Unfortunately, I think I tend to put hotdogs in my mac'n'cheese more than vegetables. And I'm a far way from arriving anywhere...more like baby steps along in my journey.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  6. Nicole,
    One thing I do want to ask about without giving away plot lines to your other readers who haven't read this book yet ... why was Julia's anger rather subdued when 'someone' returned and not more explosive? wb

  7. I succumbed to hot dogs last night, Katie. Sigh. ;)

    Good question, Warren. In a nut shell, I don't think Julia is the explosive type. She carries her cards pretty close and experiences things much more internally than externally. In that way, she's like me. When I was in labor with my son, I didn't moan, cry, or even utter a single sound. My husband thought that I was experiencing a pain-free childbirth! He was so convinced I was fine, he went to Quiznos and bought a great, big, juicy sub and proceeded to eat it in front of me. I was dying inside--the smell was awful, I thought I was going to throw up, and the pain was so intense I couldn't even see straight. But I was perfectly silent. I think Julia internalizes her suffering like that. In some ways you could argue that she's sort of stoic...

  8. A suggestion for book three in this series - a single associate minister moves to the church. Squeaky clean character, educated, in debt with low first-church pay ... and he has an eye for Julia. Can they navigate the distance b/n them?

  9. Great angle, Warren.

    I feel like a bit of a sneak because I have the rest of Julia's story written in my mind... In a way it's not fair to leave the rest of you hanging. Maybe I'll have to be creative and release a third book on-line, a chapter at a time or something like that. Maybe I could follow the lead of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" and write a book in letters that I send out one at a time to a reading audience... I don't know, but I keep getting people asking about a third Julia book. Perhaps I need to pursue it.