Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Luke 6:20-45

Jesus: All you who are poor, you are blessed
        for the kingdom of God belongs to you.
21     All you who are hungry now, you are blessed
        for your hunger will be satisfied.
    All you who weep now, you are blessed
        for you shall laugh!
22     When people hate you,
        when they exclude you
        and insult you
        and write you off as evil
        on account of the Son of Man, you are blessed.
23     When these things happen, rejoice! Jump for joy!
        Then you have a great reward in heaven
        For at that moment, you are experiencing what the ancient prophets did when they were similarly treated by the ancestors of your detractors.
24     All you who are rich now, you are in danger
        for you have received your comfort in full.
25     All you who are full now, you are in danger
        for you shall be hungry.
    All you who laugh now, you are in danger
        for you shall grieve and cry.
26     And when everyone speaks well of you, you are in danger
        for their ancestors spoke well of the false prophets too.
27 If you’re listening, here’s My message: Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you. 28 Keep speaking blessings on those who curse you. Keep praying for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer the other cheek too. If someone steals your coat, offer him your shirt too. 30 If someone begs from you, give to him. If someone robs you of your valuables, don’t demand them back. 31 Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them.
32 Listen, what’s the big deal if you love people who already love you? Even scoundrels do that much! 33 So what if you do good to those who do good to you? Even scoundrels do that much! 34 So what if you lend to people who are likely to repay you? Even scoundrels lend to scoundrels if they think they’ll be fully repaid.
35 If you want to be extraordinary—love your enemies! Do good without restraint! Lend with abandon! Don’t expect anything in return! Then you’ll receive the truly great reward—you will be children of the Most High—for God is kind to the ungrateful and those who are wicked. 36 So imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way your Father is.
37 If you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge. If you don’t want to be condemned, don’t condemn. If you want to be forgiven, forgive. 38 Don’t hold back—give freely, and you’ll have plenty poured back into your lap—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, brimming over. You’ll receive in the same measure you give.
39 Jesus told them this parable:
Jesus: What happens if a blind man leads a blind man? Won’t both of them fall into a pit? 40 You can’t turn out better than your teacher; when you’re fully taught, you will resemble your teacher.
41 Speaking of blindness: Why do you focus on the speck in your brother’s eye? Why don’t you see the log in your own? 42 How can you say to your brother, “Oh, brother, let me help you take that little speck out of your eye,” when you don’t even see the big log in your own eye? What a hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye. Then you’ll be able to see clearly enough to help your brother with the speck in his eye.
43 Count on this: no good tree bears bad fruit, and no bad tree bears good fruit. 44 You can know a tree by the fruit it bears. You don’t find figs on a thorn bush, and you can’t pick grapes from a briar bush. 45 It’s the same with people. A person full of goodness in his heart produces good things; a person with an evil reservoir in his heart pours out evil things. The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Menu Planning: Back To It!

I fell off the wagon!  Summer break started and I guess I decided that eating gets a break, too.  I don't know exactly how we got back into our eating out habit, but we've fallen back into it really hard.  It's been since... the first week of April!

For the sake of health and budget, it's time to get back on track.

I've got a chicken in the crock pot today for tonight's dinner.  We'll have rice and a veggie (I've got stuff in the freezer) with it.  

I've put together a plan to eat healthier this week.  I plan to make some healthy banana pancakes that I can freeze and then eat at work or at home.  I plan to boil eggs and make egg salad.  I have thought about food for breakfast, snacks, and lunch for each day.  I've thought about dinner food for the first couple nights of the week.

The funny thing is that I am starting all of this back up on a very busy week!  Vacation Bible School is this week at church.  The kids are attending and I am volunteering.  And this means that I get home around 4:30-4:45 each day and have to be at church about an hour later.  That is not a lot of time for dinner.

If I take the time and make the effort, I can have food ready within 20 minutes of getting home.  The other option would be hitting the drive through every night and eating in the car.  I don't like that plan.

The biggest driver this time around is that I haven't been feeling well.  Aside from the myriad health issues I've had this summer (lots of mostly minor things or things that end up being nothing) - at the end of the day, I just don't feel well.  My lunch will sit heavy in my stomach and when I'm driving home, the idea of food is unappealing.  Until later in the evening.  When I then eat more nasty junk.  Fruits and vegetables have been non-existent in my diet.

Well, that changes now.

Banana pancakes (with pecans and sliced banana)
Eggs and toast, fruit

broccoli slaw with sliced almonds and cilantro-avocado yogurt dressing)
egg salad and triscuits, fruit

meat (usually chicken), starch (brown rice, potatoes, or multi-grain medley), vegetable, fruit for dessert if I want something sweet.  Tonight, I've got a whole chicken in the crock pot

cheese and triscuits, larabar, fresh fruit, cucumber salad, radishes

It's just a matter of getting back to basics.  I've been more active lately but my terrible eating habits are keeping me feeling pretty blah.  Time to change that!

Plus... there's that adults only vacation coming up... and I will need lots of energy for that!

Anyone else need to get back on track??

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Kindness Wins

I recently read a blog post on Huffington Post from a dad who thought that people on planes need to suck it up and just deal with it when a baby or toddler or child acts up on the flight.  He thought that parents who make little goody bags to hand out to those around them (with candy and earplugs and a note of explanation) was too much to put on parents who are already stressed about flying with their kids.

I appreciate his point of view.  Except I'd want him to shift it a bit.  Because I think a lot of our culture views the world with this "screw you" type of attitude.  This... entitled... attitude.

"I'm entitled to a peaceful and quiet flight!"

"I'm entitled to not have people complain about my crying baby!"

What if we flip it around and find ways to skip the entitlement and seek out kindness?

"That poor mom with the kid having a meltdown in the middle of the store... I'll give her a kind smile to let her know I support her."

"My kid is being extra loud in this restaurant, I will take her outside to deal with this issue so we don't disturb the other customers."

What if we found ways to specifically show kindness and support of others instead of immediately judging and jumping to conclusions about the people around us?

Not only would other people feel better... but each of us would feel better, too.  Trust me.  Your insides will feel better when you are treating others with kindness, when you seek to show love through service.  Your insides feel yucky when your thoughts and words are yucky.

What if we all started to expect kindness and understanding from others?

Sarcasm and pointed jabs and backhanded comments only seek to hurt others, to make a barbed point, to make Us seem bigger than Them.  Kindness leave Us and Them feeling better.

Kindness wins.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

@IndyStateFair - A Day At The Fair!

Every year, there is at least 1 person who jokingly says that they wish they could go to the Fair with me as their tour guide.  I'm no expert - I just have a deep love of our State Fair and I happen to find a lot of hiddens treasures!

So until I get my tour guide business up and running (kidding, kidding), I thought it would be fun to take a virtual walk around the Fairgrounds and point out the things I always love to do.  So this post is for those folks who hav enever been to the Indiana State Fair or who have been but felt overwhelmed and unsure of what to do.

First step - study the map before you go!  If you've never been to the fairgrounds, it can be really confusing to figure out what building is where.  Dow AgroScience Celebration Park? Huh?  Family Fun Park? Where's that??

I enter the fairgrounds through gate 6 (right side of the map) off Fall Creek Parkway.  This takes me to Infield parking (center of the map by the hot air balloons).  I usually try to get a spot so I'm near the Grandstand/Main Street Stage/Grand Hall area.

I come up through the entryway that brings me just to the right of the Grand Hall.  To the left of the Grand Hall is my first stop - The Dairy Bar for a glass of choclate milk.  If I'm arriving bright and early for a full and long day of Fair fun, the Dairy Bar is also where I pick up breakfast (bagel and cream cheese or a breakfast sandwich).

If you do arrive early and you really want to get yourself familiar with the fairgrounds before adventuring through everything, this would be a great time to hop a ride on a shuttle (those benches on wheels being pulled by giant tractors) and ride it for 1 loop around the fairgrounds to get the lay of the land.  Follow along on your map to get an idea of what's where.  Then get off by the Swine Barn to start our day.

First things first, let's visit the animals.  It's stinky and dirty - you have to watch where you step!  But showing animals is a big part of the State Fair.  There are 4H kids who have been raising sheep and pigs and cows... and you don't want to miss the World's Largest Boar or the prize winning piglets!  So stroll through the Swine Barn, check for horses in the Champions Pavilion (there aren't horses the entire time of the Fair), head back to the Blue Ribbon Pavilion to visit the sheep and look for the sheep shop by the door (where you can buy wool products and other cute things).  Walk through or by the South Pavilion and visit any horses that might be there - or just enjoy watching the horses get primped for showing!  Next up is the West Pavilion (the cattle barn).

Exit the cattle barn and go back to Main Street.  Circle back and go visit the Coliseum.  I'm very excited to go see what the refurb of this historic icon looks like!  From the Coliseum, head over towards the Grand Hall.  There might be some fun entertainment on the Main Street Stage to stop and enjoy.  Then head inside the Grand Hall for the Indiana Wine and Beer Expo (must be 21).

Next up, head to the DuPont Food Pavilion and learn about Indiana food agriculture, healthy living, see where things are with the cheese sculpture, visit the market of local Indiana foods, and maybe catch a demo on the Red Gold Culinary Stage.

I usually head to the Ag/Hort building next.  First stop once inside is always a glass of tomato juice and I fix it up with a dash or 2 of hot sauce, some worcestershire, and a little celery salt.  I always have to visit the honey booths in the Ag/Hort building.  Then a tour to see the prize winning produce.

You might be getting hungry for lunch at this point.  I really like the roasted corn that is in between the Ag/Hort Building and the Food Pavilion.  It's kind of across from the #11 on the map.  I don't usually do any big meals at the Fair - just a bite or 2 here and there.

Next stop is the Home & Family Arts Building.  You could seriously schedule an entire day just to peruse all of the sewing and art projects here.  It's like a museum and it's nearly impossible to take it all in.  There's also usually some really awesome Lego displays and there's another opportunity for demonstrations (check your program for the schedule for the day you go).  Also in this building, tucked back in a corner on the main floor, is a used book sale.  It's always fun to look!

If you've never been to Hook's Drug Store, take a moment to swing by and enjoy the history.  And if you'd like to indulge in an ice cream float, go right ahead!

I always like to do at least a quick walk through the Expo Hall.  I rarely buy anything but I'm often intrigued by what's being offered and I like to pick up free stuff.

After the Expo Hall, you can swing by the rabbit and poultry building.  I'm allergic to rabbits so I sometimes skip this one.  However, you will find baby chicks.  And a very interesting and fun assortment of chickens and ducks!

This might be a good time for a little break so walk back towards the Ag/Hort building and find a shuttle stop.  Take a ride past the Midway and over the covered bridge - next stop is the 4H buildings and Dow AgroScience Celebration Park!

Inside the 4H buildings are the finished projects of the 4H kids - everything from research projects to posters to sewing to woodwrok and more.  This is a good building to stop and use the bathroom.  Strange thing to say about a building, I know.  But there isn't a lot in the building so it doesn't draw the crowds like some of the other buildings.

Celebration Park is home to a lot of interesting entertainment this year - check your program for that day's schedule!

Up next is a walk through the DNR building.  My kids love to see the local fish and learn about our state parks.  Our favorite part of the DNR building is Goat Mountain, located on the side of the building.  Lots of goats to pet and you can buy some cut up carrots to feed them (and there is a hand washing station).

The FFA Pavilion has a lot to offer so you might end up spending a good amount of time here.  There's free putt putt, a couple of playsets, tons of farm safety displays (I think the one about staying out of the silo is scary), a fun market that raises money for FFA (Future Farmers of America)... it's a fun place to stroll through!

The Farm Bureau Building is a good place to stop and use the bathroom.  Same reason as the 4H buildings.  There are a few booths set up and you can get some SWAG here - and free popcorn!

Hard to believe we're only about 2/3 of the way through the entire Fair at this point.  And everything we've gone and done offers stuff we'r emissing after we leave or before we get there.  This is why I almost always need multiple days and why I have a day with kids and a day without kids.

This next section is an area where I don't spend a lot of time.  Not because there's not good stuff, it's just not an area where I've done as much.

We've got the Glass Barn, Normandy Barn, the Greenhouse, and Mac Reynolds Barn.  All worth walking through - especially if you want to know more about Indiana agriculture as a business, about plants and gardens.

Next up is Pioneer Village and this is always a treasure!  I love hearing bluegrass music back on the stage.  I love walking through the barn, especially at meal time when the workers come in and eat a olds tyle farmhouse meal at the table.  I love watching the wood carvers and other special artists there (quilting and tatting and such things).  I love heading out of the barn and visiting the coppersmith (that's where you can order a copper cookie cutter of your child's hand - I think they mail it to you after the Fair).  I love going for a taste of molasses and sourghum.  I love seeing all the old old old farm machinery working and clicking and chopping away.

Getting closer to the end of our day and this might be one to skip if you don't have kids with you - the Family Fun Park.  There are some shows worth seeing and one of my favorite lemon shake ups comes from the back side of this area (just go straight past the Hands On The Farm thing and head straight until you run into it).  But if you have kids with you - this is a must stop!  Always fun shows and displays, Little Hands On The Farm is a must-do (although, sadly, I think Teagan may officially be too big for it this year), a great meal deal at one of the vendors right by Little Hands On The Farm (they do a box meal of a hot dog and chips and a drink for a reasonable price).  Start heading back down to the south side and you'll first stop through the Pathway to Water Quality if you'd like to learn more about Indiana's waterways and systems - and you get a cool drink of water at the end.

Keep going and walk past the Speed Barns which is where the harness racing horses stay (and stay year round).  Here's a tip for you - don't try to save any cats you find around there.  Feel free to visit them.  But they live and work in those barns and aren't strays that need to go to the humane society.

The Kiddieland Midway is near the end of our circle tour.  Again - if you've got little kids and you're there for, say, kids day when you can get a wristband for $15, this is a great stop with the kids.  And now we've made it back almost all the way around.  Time to grab another glass of chocolate milk and either pack it in for the day or determine if you've got time to visit anything you wanted to see again.

The complicating factor to all of it is planning a day around shows and conserts and entertainment and presentations and demonstrations and such.  You could end up doing some bouncing back and forth to make it work.  But I promise that it is worth it!

After the series this past week, I hope you feel confident and excited about the upcoming Indiana State Fair!!  It opens August 1 and runs through August 17.  Maybe I will see you there!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

@IndyStateFair - Best Day To Go

Everyone who is a regular visitor to the Indiana State Fair has an opinion on what the best day is for visiting the Indiana State Fair.  It's hard to pick just one day and the great thing is that each day offers something different that will appeal to different people.

Here are some great insights on some personal favorite days at the Indiana State Fair!

We love Wristband Days. With a large family, it just wouldn't be possible to let our kids enjoy the rides without a serious deal. We spend the morning wandering the Fair, let the kids loose in the midway for the afternoon, and often stay for a free concert in the evening.” – Heather Sokol 

We love $2 Tuesdays because you can get smaller portions so that you don't feel guilty trying a bigger variety of foods. The portion sizes are perfect for kids or for adults who want one of everything!” – Tricia from Helping Moms Connect 

I second $2 Tuesdays! We can get a sample of a little of everything for the family. My kids are picky eaters and want to eat everything so this works to get more and hav ehappy kids!” – Eghe from The Expecting Mamas Network

Amd who better to advise on best days at the Indiana State Fair than the people who help make the Fair happen?

My favorite day is opening day. There is nothing that can match arriving early on the first day and seeing the sunrise over the Track of Champions and the calm you experience before a 17-day celebration begins. And with the Giant Hot-Air Balloon launch on opening day this year, the experience will be even more awe-inspiring.” – Kristen Wolfred, ISF Director of Marketing & Strategy 

“I’m partial to County Queens Day, which is Sunday, Aug. 10 this year. Having the girls here from all over the state roaming around the fairgrounds is one of our fair’s great traditions. I like seeing them enjoy themselves without the stress of competing in the State Fair Queen Pageant. It brings back great memories for me.” – Bobbi Bates, ISF Special Events Manager

“In general, I like Sundays at the fair. The crowd is normally a little later to arrive than other days and it’s usually when we plan to have my family come for a visit. I’ll try to spend a couple hours with them seeing some shows, visiting the barns and hitting the midway… topped off with some great fair food, of course!” – Andy Klotz, ISF Public Relations Director

And my own personal favorite day at the Indiana State Fair?  It's so hard to choose!

I love $2 Tuesdays for the reasons given above - getting to try lots of different foods in smaller portions and so budget friendly.

I love Opening Day and the Hot Air Balloon Launch.

I love Farmers Day and the FFA Pancake Breakfast - when I can go to that breakfast, I love to ride the shuttle for 1 loop around the fairgrounds as everything is waking up for the day.

But most of all, I love any day that I get to go to the Fair.  I almost always discover something new and I love to enjoy my standard favorites. Coming to the Fair early in the morning and heading to the Dairy Bar for a cold glass of chocolate milk, watching the Fair come to life as the day fires up, seeing the creations in the Home & Family Arts Building, learning more about Indiana agriculture and products in the Ag/Hort Building and the DuPont Food Pavilion, catching local groups on the Dance Stage, enjoying some bluegrass in Pioneer Village.  But most of all, it's the surprises of the State Fair that I treasure.  Like learning how to make really good omelettes.  Or the year my kids spent an afternoon being independent (from me) and having fun together on the midway for an afternoon. Or the year I learned about vertical gardens.

Every year, there is something special that happens at the Indiana State Fair.  And I am very excited to see what happens this year!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

@IndyStateFair - Entertainment!

Some of the BEST moments I've had at the Indiana State Fair come from the amazing line up of daily entertainment.  I've seen everything from dock diving dogs to frisbee catching dogs to mini racing dogs.  I've seen amazing acrobats from China.  I've enjoyed a wild west show.  I've been impressed by diving shows and circus shows.

2014 will not disappoint!  Here are just some of the offerings that I am excited to check out this year...

Flippenout Extreme Trampoline Show - All days of the Fair, performing at the Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park.  These guys were at the Fair back in 2012 and I was so impressed!!! These are gymnasts and trampoline competitors that can do some truly amazing things on the trampoline.

Freestyle Madness BMX Stunt Show - Aug 1-10, Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park.  If you or someone in your family enjoys BMX extreme stunt riding, this is the show for you.  I've caught moments of it from the sidelines in the past but plan to take the kids to check this one out.

K9 Crew Trick Dog Show - Aug 11-12, Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park.  They're only here for 2 days so be sure to make it a point to check out this fun dog show if you're at the Fair on those days!

The Gantry Show - Aug 1-12, Grandstand Side Lot.  It's a traveling circus!  But not like you're thinking... apparently, the circus literally moves during the show.  I'm going to have to check it out just to see how that works.

ShenaniGuns! Comedy Wild West Show - All days of the Fair, Family Fun Park. Silly jokes, stunts, sight gags... all the stuff guaranteed to make kids of all ages laugh!

Kachunga & The Alligator - Aug 13-17, Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park.  Humor and stunts... but you'll walk away having learned all about the American Alligator.

Great American Duck Race - All days of the Fair, Family Fun Park. All I know is that there is audience participation and corny duck jokes.  I'm in!

Indiana State Fair Beer & Wine Exhibition - All days of the Fair, Grand Hall.  Must be 21 or older.  I'm very excited about this exhibit!  Every year, local breweries and wineries submit their beverages and bottles for judging at the State Fair.  But there is no alcohol served at the Fair so you could read about the products and you could see who won but you couldn't ever try the stuff.  Now, you can try the locally made brews and wines and learn about the process that local brewers and wineries use to make Indiana alcohols!

And some of my favorite entertainment every year are the unexpected finds at random stages all across the Fairgrounds.  We always enjoy presentations on the Red Gold Culinary Stage in the DuPont Food Pavilion.  That's where I learned to make a good, real, and fast omelette several years ago.  There are also presentations done in the Home & Family Arts Building - cooking, sewing, art, and music.  The DNR Building will have presentations on local animals and wildlife and plants.  Hopefully nothing on bugs because I'll be skipping that one...

The Fair isn't just about fried-anything-on-a-stick and Midway rides.  There is a lot to be entertained by and a lot to learn about our great state!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

@IndyStateFair - Concerts!

I have to admit that previous years haven't held much excitement for me with concerts.  I did go to Prairie Home Companion many years ago.  And I've enjoyed overhearing a concert while just being at the fairgrounds.  But I'm not usually one to make the trip to the Fair for the concerts.

Until now.

There are 3 main stages for concerts at the Fair.  2 are free and 1 requires the puchase of a ticket.

With the complete overhaul of the Coliseum, the Indiana State Fair will now offer concerts in this fantastic space.  Concert events at the Coliseum include:

Robin Thicke - Aug 1
The American Idol Tour - Aug 6
Pitbull - Aug 8
Jim Gaffigan - Aug 17

There are also a lot of great free concerts.  Some are bigger than others.  I love stopping by and checking out the variety of entertainment at the Main Street Stage.  One of the really exciting events there this year is the Vocal Throwdown prelims and finals.  You can vote for your favorite contestants now via Facebook!  Voting goes through July 20.

I'm most excited about the offerings on the Free Stage this year.  My kids are going to be very excited to go see Bridgit Mendler on Aug 4.  I'm planning a day to see one of my favorite Christian Contemporary groups - Rend Collective - on Aug 10.  Other fun shows are Barenaked Ladies, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Charles Esten & Clare Bowen (from the TV show Nashville).

I'll see you at the Fair!

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