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Federal Way’s World Vision president ready for new role at White House – Seattle Times
Interesting article re faith-based organizations receiving federal funds, and whether or not they should be allowed to hire based on religious beliefs. I love that Stearns, President of World Vision, doesn’t make it JUST about Christians, but brings in other religions, and even Planned Parenthood. He brings it back to an issue of an organization’s mission and internal values:

“We pursue our humanitarian work as a community of people sharing deeply held faith values that express themselves in our concern for and work with the poor. We are no different than other mission-driven organizations that choose to hire people who affirm and embrace their organizational identity and values. Examples include Planned Parenthood and The Nature Conservancy.”

I mean really, can you imagine Planned Parenthood hiring a pro-lifer?

I also love his implication that Christians don’t need to force themselves on the world, but if we just love and serve others the way Jesus calls us to, our integrity will speak for itself:

“World Vision has been receiving federal funds for our work serving the poor for more than 25 years — not because we are Christian, but because of the quality of our programs.”

In the waiting – meditations for Christian Single Women – Practical Theology for Women

Before you dismiss this as inapplicable because you are not single, I would ask you to reconsider. Wendy differentiates between sinful desires, and God-given desires that remain unfulfilled. I found a lot in this essay I could chew on for awhile, if I simply substituted “marriage” with “soaring writing career” or “organized home life” or something else I desire but can’t seem to see fulfilled at the moment.

“God is in charge, He knows what He’s doing in your life, and you can trust that He has not lost control of your circumstances. Not only does God know what He’s doing, His plan for your life reflects both His all-surpassing wisdom and His fathomless love for you. His plan is good and right, and you can TRUST Him with the details of your life.”

The Inauguration Show – This American Life

A refreshing interview in Act II (at about 20:05) with Pastor Joel Hunter, who gave the benediction at the Democratic National Convention. Like Don Miller, who gave the invocation, he was lambasted by conservatives for being “duped” by the Obama campaign. Joel and Ira discussed the the polarizing nature of some organizations, both religious and non-religious, and how damaging combative attitudes can be.

During the interview, Ira Glass asks, “It seems the premise is that it’s damaging for you to even talk to anybody on the other side. What do you think about that?”

Hunter responded, “I think that it’s very harmful to our country, it’s very harmful to our faith that we say we believe in because that kind of very narrow, very negative, very combative approach – first of all does not give a very good image to the One we represent, that was not Jesus’ style. Secondly, if you’re ever to make progress as a country, or even as a faith, the very ones you WANT to talk to are the ones who don’t agree with you.”

Routine = Spontaneity – Studio Elise
Elise is a soul mate, a sister from another mother, my twin – whatever description one would use to describe someone who is EXACTLY LIKE YOU. Take, for instance:

“Artists like myself need freedom to follow impulses. I don’t do well on a rigid schedule. Neither, not surprisingly, do my kids. Instead, I follow a basic morning routine and end the day with a basic evening routine. Every few days I spend a little extra energy (if I have any) in a certain part of the house. Right now I’m focused on my bedroom. I pick up and clean a bit extra in there as I have opportunity. I don’t waste time making long lists of every little thing I have to do each day. My lists now are doable- things like: grocery shopping; make return at the Rack; Greek for dinner. That’s it. I have freedom to view each day as a blank canvas and know that when I return from my adventures, my house will not be a sorry place I don’t want to come home to, but a relaxing, rejuvenating retreat where I refuel for the day ahead.”

And incidentally, I’ve been wiping down the bathroom every morning since I read this post, so thanks for that!

Worship While Overwhelmed – Work and Worship
“I get overwhelmed when I have housework debt and relational debt. I feel like I just can’t catch up and it stops being manageable. I start feeling like I am losing! My joy decreases and I pull myself up by my own bootstraps and get to work. Self- sufficient, Godless behavior kicks in. The challenge is a mission. I get tough and dutiful and feel proud at the finished work. My independent crown is shining bright while I strut my productivity streak in my heart. However, God is not invited into this picture. ”

Lessons from the life of Joseph – Practical Theology for Women
“I have always loved the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. So often, the circumstances of my life have made little sense to me. Sometimes, circumstances just don’t go my way. But other times, people sin against me. Mean, cruel, hurtful sin. And sometimes, the people who sin against me should be the ones who are most for me–my brothers and sisters in Christ. When I can’t reconcile it on my own or see how the pieces could possibly fit together for good, I turn to God’s revelation of Himself through the story of Joseph and I get perspective.”

First Inaugural ZugHaus Soup Swap

soupswap.jpgMy friend Laurie, who lives on the East Coast, alerted me to this annual event here in Seattle – National Soup Swap Day. It started out local, but has become popular around the country.

I love the Internet.

So anyhow, we’re hosting a Soup Swap! Following are the details. If you plan to come, please leave a comment – include the type of soup you plan to bring, if possible, so we can plan on a variety. If you don’t live here but think it’s a great idea, I suggest you host your own!

ZugHaus Soup Swap
Date: Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Time: 7:00 – 8:30pm
Location: ZugHaus

What to Bring:
Bring SIX quarts of a frozen soup. Six quarts is generally the biggest stock pot in most kitchens (1 quart = 2 pints = 4 cups = 32 fluid ounces). Often the recipes will need doubled or tweaked to get this amount. Bring six quarts of the same soup if possible, but if you show up with two kinds of soup to make the required SIX quarts we will not turn you away – the real requirement is that everyone has the same amount of soup in same size containers.

Be mindful of soups that do not freeze well, like potato or cream soups. Identify your soups with labels or marker in case your containers look the same as someone else’s. And finally, be sure to include any necessary “accessories” to your soup, like cheese (also in a freezable container).

What to Expect:
7:00 – arrive promptly with your soup. We’ll display all the quarts in one place – likely my dining table.
7:20 – the Telling of the Soup! This is each chef’s opportunity to talk about what makes their soup special. Is it organic? It is spicy? Does it have anything someone might not be able to eat? Is it a treasured recipe?
8:00 – the soup swap! Participants will each be given a number. Person #1 picks the first soup, Person #2 the second and so on, until everyone has selected a soup. Repeat six times until all the soup is gone.
8:30 – Everyone should now be leaving with the same amount of soup, but now it is a wonderful mix of soup!


  • There will be a prize for the first soup picked and the last soup picked.
  • You don’t have to be present to participate. Just make arrangements to drop off the soup, and choose someone to pick your soups for you (proxy pickers will pick last).
  • If you bring a non-perishable food item (or two), we’ll donate it to the Renton Salvation Army food bank.

Finally, be sure to check out the Soup Swap Blog for fun pictures of swaps past – like this one!

Friday Link Love

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Moses Cooks
We met Moses several months ago – he goes to our church and we started attending the same community group as him. Our community group begins with a pot luck dinner, and he always brings a home made, baked from scratch, dessert. Not something you expect from a guy with tattooed eyebrows. He loves to cook and bake, and twitters a lot about his creations – and now he has a cooking blog for his vegetarian dishes.

Anguish – Living Palm
I’ve had a rough December, and this short post captures how I’m starting to feel about it.

Brevity – The Rabbit Room
My friend sent me this link and said, “made me think of why you say you like twitter so much.” Anything that serves as a Twitter evangelist, in my opinion, is worth linking to.


Firemen riding bikesfiremen walking to the cupcake shop

It was rainy over Thanksgiving weekend, but that didn’t stop us from getting out. Thomas and a friend spent some time together doing boy things, which involved riding bikes and playing with Transformers, to name just a couple. There was also talk of Kung Fu Panda and Light Saber battles.

The cupcake shop was golden with boys the afternoon we were there – at one point I counted SIX, with no girls in sight, save the mothers.

Lately my neighborhood has felt very Mayberry-like. Firemen blow their horns and wave at my son as they blaze by with lights and sirens blaring, and I run into parents from the bus stop while ordering a cappuccino at the coffee shop. Thomas calls one of our neighborhood friends The Funny Man, as in “MOMMY CAN WE GO FOLLOW THE FUNNY MAN?”

I have many things to be thankful for, including boys, friends, and a great urban neighborhood.

making friends at the cupcake shopplaying transformers at the cupcake shop

Do you know your days of the week?

Ruthie does! And she’ll sing ’em for ya!

But first I would like to point out her cheeks. Aren’t they just yummy?! I saw those cheeks on an ultrasound photo when I was 26 weeks pregnant, and they have always been adorable.

Also, the level of her concentration impressed me. Maybe if you’re not her mother you don’t notice, but she’s very focused on the finger movements and the snapping. She’s working that brain, big time!

And yes, she appears to be singing to the tune of The Adams Family.

Friday Link Love

track breastfeeding schedules on your iPhone – Techmamas
This obviously doesn’t apply to me at the moment, but I am fascinated by technology that is useful to me should I find myself in this… predicament. More and more I find myself consolidating my entire life into one place, despite all efforts to sabotage this. I have a computer, and I have a Treo, and that’s about it. No more date books, wall calendars, or address books – I keep it all digitally and share the files between my computer and my phone. This application, and others like it out there, would fit well into my lifestyle. (Thanks to Lindsay for twittering this!)

Don Miller talks about his faith as it relates to partisan politics.

Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What, gave the closing prayer Monday at the DNC, and this is an interview he gave Christianity Today before taking the stage. Two things in particular struck me. One, is his comments on abortion and the way the Republican party has dangled the carrot of idealism in front of evangelical Christianity. The other is his comments on the Democratic party’s treatment of people of faith – “You need to tell your leaders to stop mocking people of faith.”

Speeches on Wordle – by Papernapkin
I was going to link to Wordle a long time ago, but it was old news already by the time I got around to actually doing it. I’ve looked through the gallery and am convinced The Zugs should create a Wordle design to print and frame for our living room.

Anyhow, Papernapkin twittered these Wordles she created of the major political speeches given over the last several weeks. Very fascinating, to say the least. Please check them out: Obama, Biden, McCain, and Palin.

“If you lived here, you’d be home already!”

seattle center in early springI’ve seen a marketing campaign with this slogan on a huge banner against a newly built Belltown apartment building or condominium, and it sounds rather appealing to me at times.

Bryan’s been working downtown Seattle since late last year, which is a marked improvement from his commute to San Jose a couple years ago. However, his working downtown has amped up my itchiness to move back to Seattle from our suburb in the south.

This summer in particular has been bad. We’ve taken advantage of his locale, and at least once a week we pick him up after work and and have a picnic at Seattle Center, or Gasworks Park, or some other city destination. The kids love it, and of course, so do I.

I love it so much, in fact, that we end up driving into Seattle as much as three days a week, which is not easy on the gas budget. We sometimes drive him in to work in the morning and have fresh mini donuts at Pike Place Market. Sometimes we drive in for the free summer movies at Regal Cinemas’ Meridian 16 theater. Sometimes we drive in to visit the Children’s Museum.

seattle center fountain

We drove in so often this summer I justified the need to move there, and began looking into it. I won’t go into details regarding the scandalous number of hours I spent wasting time researching homes and condos for sale. Let’s just say I’m well aware of the Seattle condominium market for units over 850 square feet.

Yes, I talked myself into downsizing from a 2200 square foot 5 bedroom house with an office and family room into a 1000 square foot two bedroom condo in the middle of Capital Hill – where you would not be able to visit me, by the way, because parking is TERRIBLE on Capital Hill.

I was completely sold on this idea, and even began complaining about how rough I have it in my giant castle. I CAN’T CLEAN ALL THIS SPACE! WE HAVE TOO MUCH JUNK! WE DON’T EVEN USE ALL THESE ROOMS! WE DON’T NEED A PLACE THIS BIG!

I had visions of traipsing to the park with my kids, grocery shopping daily for only as much as I could carry, and taking the bus everywhere. After all, my kids are headed off to school this year, so it’s not like I’ll have crazy toddlers running under foot all day.

And then?

Last week it rained for three days straight, and my kids ran from top to bottom in this house. They jumped on the couches, they swung on the swing in our basement, they climbed on the rope ladder, and they used every. last. inch of this giant house before they even began to tap into one tiny little nerve.

And then?

snap peas

All my tomatoes came into harvest. And my carrots. And zucchini. And I put a kiddie pool at the end of the slide on our big toy in the yard. And we made s’mores in the fire pit on our deck.

It didn’t take much to remind me I have all I need to be content right here.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame, part 2

I should really call these posts ‘Twenty Minutes of Fame,’ since that’s about how long each segment is, but that just isn’t catchy.

Here is part 2 of the Kindlings Muse panel discussion with Dick Staub. In this segment you get to hear Dick put me on the spot with a question about Mars Hill’s practice of sending live sermon feeds out to multiple site locations. What you don’t hear is the the deadpan smirk I give him after he asks the question, as I wonder how much of a smart ass I want to be for being put on the spot.

All in good fun, as I expertly deflected the conversation (“Do you REALLY want to talk about this now?”).

There is also discussion of focus on a virtual community vs. a community that is right in front of you. Dick used the example of talking on your cell phone long distance while sitting next to someone in the car whom you are ignoring. To that I will add (though I couldn’t fit it in at the time), that my writing and blogging does at times distract me from my children and my duties as the manager of my home. I’d say that while some of that is an intentional choice to lower my standards of cleanliness for the purpose of my own sanity, there is definitely the distraction factor of checking emails when I should be running a load of laundry or something.

Early on in my recovery I noticed that the majority of my rage episodes happened after a period of extreme distraction in which the kids’ mounting irritability at not having my full attention caused the whine meter to reach defcon 1 levels in preparation for attack. Subsequently, I would finally tear myself away from whatever riveting thing I was doing and realize my stress level had risen without notifying me, only to open The Can on everything that made a sound.

I definitely keep an eye on that now.

In Praise of Bryan Zug

hung in the right spot!Yesterday afternoon Ruthie and I went to a birthday party, and while we were gone my super-husband cut the grass. We get into at LEAST one fight every summer over the reel mower we own (I love it, he hates it), so it was a big deal that he just decided to cut the grass and not complain about it.

He also hinted at another project he accomplished while we were gone, but wouldn’t tell me what it was. After spending the entire evening outside by the fire pit (first fire of the season!), I finally went in to find Ruthie some warmer clothes. It was then I noticed our large framed print in the living room had been hung on the wall correctly! And it looks great!

Bryan had given me a few concert posters from Over the Rhine for my birthday a few years ago. It took a year and a half to get one framed, then we hung it on the existing nail which was positioned lower for a smaller, horizontal print. Finally, a year after THAT, my print is hung in the right spot.

Yay for Bryan!

White Trash Gets Classy and other spontaneous events of the day.

IMG_3698Bowling isn’t the slumming event that it used to be in my college days – back when you could only display three letters of your name in the computer, thereby drawing out Viv, my sassy, gum chewing, bad ass alter ego. I’ve never been to such a high tech bowling alley as ACME Bowl. We took the kids there Saturday for some good, airconditioned fun, and we had a blast. The scoring is completely computerized, and every time Ruthie’s turn came up the gutter bumpers automatically popped up from in the floor! The hardest part was trying to keep Ruthie and Thomas both from chasing the ball down the lane – something we were not always successful at. Oops!

IMG_3709We also went to Target to buy me a yoga mat, and came out with a new bicycle for Ruthie. We’ve talked about getting her one for awhile, and yesterday just seemed like a good day. She’s so stuck in a rut with her boring three wheeled life that she kept calling it her new tricycle. Poor kid doesn’t even know how cool she is.

We walked to the park and she rode most of the way by herself. As I walked behind her, I couldn’t help noticing the muscles in her calves flexing and her long legs stretching to reach the pedals and the fact that she’s even OLD enough to ride a bicycle. She starts preschool tomorrow, and so far I’ve been in denial. I’m so screwed.

This and That

Where have I been? I’ve been reading. And doing this. And doing that. I have many hobbies and only space for one at a time. That is where I’ve been.

Book Pile.

I finished About Grace for our book club on Monday (here at my house. Are you coming?). I liked it. I found it to not be as depressing as the last few books we’ve read, even though it was sad.

I started the book for my other book club, which I’m sadly realizing is probably too late to finish it in time for the discussion: The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie. I’ve read the first couple chapters and his writing style is beautiful. Where does he find such beautiful word combinations in the English language? He writes of something falling from the sky, “making contact with the taut drum of the sea.” Yum. Yum. Yum. I’m loving it, but it’s a slow read.

It’s not your mother’s pill box.

I was at the vitamin store and saw this cool pill case for dividing out the insane dosages of my vitamins. This was an especially timely find since I had JUST been standing in front of my vitamin basket trying to remember if I had taken my vitamins already that morning. Sometimes there is no clear distinction between what I think about doing and what I actually do.

It's not your mother's pill box

Two gay deaf men walk into a tropical bar in Tukwila and…

Bryan and I had drinks at Bahama Breeze Friday night sans kids and we flirted and had relaxing conversation. I’ve never had dinner there, but for drinks it is a little ray of tropical sunshine in a rainy city. We were entertained by people watching and made up opening lines to jokes to entertain ourselves.

And so on…

In short, life goes on in the Zug household, albeit more peaceful than ever. This mama seems to be getting a handle on her temper and her emotions, and it makes for a lovely home

Woo Hoo!

Ass Minus Ten Pounds

Last Thursday I was discouraged because I hadn’t lost any weight. I wasn’t too worried about it because I knew I had splurged a little on Mother’s Day when a few men made their wives a fantastically decadent brunch complete with Mimosa’s. Also, I ate my gift of chocolate covered raisins liberally (my favorite!!) all week long. Plus I had several Margarita’s a day in celebration of the warm sunny weather.

But still, it was disappointing.

Well, HELLO MONDAY! Perhaps I was bloated last week, because today I am two pounds down! Which makes a total of…. (drum roll, please)…. TEN POUNDS LOST!

And how did I celebrate? I worked my ASS OFF (quite literally, if you think about it)! Today on the Monotonous Machine of Monotony and on the treadmill, I discovered the ‘random’ button, which keeps my muscles and heart rate from getting lazy and into too much of a rhythm because I’m basically going up and down hills.

And? And! I JOGGED the last three minutes of my treadmill routine! Once I got over the distraction of my ass fat bouncing wildly like a pile of jello sitting on a washing machine, my endorphins were so high I was doing that cheesy grinning with my eyes closed thing.

Yes, thank you, thank you. I am warmly receiving your cyber pats on my back for a job well done.