Category Archives: Nature

Earth Day: Being Green, Trendy, and Advocating for a Cause

I once heard some very smart person say that the people whose beliefs are most suited for celebrating Earth Day, are Christians. Why? Well, because we believe we are given a gift of creation. We are part of that creation which has purpose, while the opposing view is that chance made us part of an earth that apparently exists and is still evolving. Yet, we have a gift we are challenged to be good stewards of. We believe in life. Whether this is saving a baby, saving a whale, or saving a baby whale, it is our responsibility. So, Happy Earth Day!

Now, let me make myself clear. I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, even though I like to shop at farmer’s markets. I believe God gave us this earth to use its resources. But using is different than misusing. Sure, you can call me a tree-hugger. In fact, in an hour or so I am going to be planting baby trees with some teens. I sometimes use reusable shopping bags and I use cloth diapers on my baby’s booty. I grew up in California, where we think the whole world recycles in perfect harmony. Its something kids do for fun on a Saturday morning, instead of watching cartoons. We also like to save the whales on Saturdays. Saturdays are busy days in California. Really, though, I should confess, I can be obsessive about recycling. In fact, just the day before yesterday I was fuming mad because our new recycling service will not take “clam-shells” (the plastic things that strawberries and such come in). The audacity! Lastly, in effort to prove where I stand when it comes to being “green,” I hate pesticides, and harsh chemicals (besides bleach) because I have had bad experiences with them. I am far from a green activist, but I would say I am more green than the average Joe. Or Josephine.

And then, one day, I realized everyone else thought being green was cool. The cheapest shirts I can find for my kids from Target or Walmart have “Save the Earth” written on them. I remember having a distinct conversation with my cousin about how we were grossed out by how being green became a trend. But, since I believe I am at the front-line of the trend (whether true or not), I am okay with it. You see, I don’t mind being a trend-setter.  I only mind being a trend-lager. Which, mind you, is not a type of beer.

Some characteristics of human nature influence the way we are green, besides just flowing down the trend-pipe. Psychology has a term for when everyone doesn’t do something because they think someone else will. I don’t know what it is, although I can assure you I have studied it. For example, if there is a crime, and there are many people to witness it, its more likely that no one will actually call the police. Also, in CPR training, we are taught to direct a specific person to call 911, or else that too likely won’t happen. On a similar, although different stream, humans tend to do another illogical thing I don’t know the term for. This is an example: if I feel like I did a good job running a mile today, I will happily go home a drink a 900 calorie milkshake.

All of these things can apply to being green. If everyone is doing something for the planet, its okay if I don’t do something. Or, since I bought Seventh Generation soap today, I can justify cleaning my bathroom with the unknown ingredient death killer cleaner. Therefore, the way the human mind thinks mixed with being green solely for the coolness factor, doesn’t necessarily change much to make our planet better. It might a little; it is better than nothing. Yet, if you actually care about creation, challenge yourself to take a next step. Especially if your motivation is it to honor God, rather than be part of a trend.

I read this article today that my husband sent me which I mostly fully agreed with. Take a skim:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/236722/page/1

Often, what this article is talking about can be applied to activism in general. Activism is an art. You motivate for a cause, which many people just don’t really care about. They might care, but not enough to really do something about it that is meaningful.  I read a study the other day which was talking about how the whole cause to end genocide in Darfur has almost single handily been brought about through activism. This is amazing! This proves that in our global, technological world, being an advocate for a cause makes a difference and can actually start a global movement. Everyone has heard of Darfur, thanks to awareness campaigns, new organizations that have been birthed, and just everyday, grassroots movements coming from average people like you or me. Even so, the main people who really can make a serious difference, by forcing change, are governments and international organizations. Who haven’t done too much.

Why do I bring this up? Thanks to people advocating for Darfur, there is money, political pressure, prayers, and support networks for those in the Darfur region. The good ol’ activists have made a difference. And, at the same time, for a greater difference to be made, those with the most power (yes, bureaucracies) need more pressure.So, if you want to make a green difference, the same principle applies. You can’t justifiably be claiming to make a serious difference unless you are also trying to create peaceful political pressure. I am not saying you need to write your congressman, but I think we do need to have our veil of ignorance fall off. The veil which allows us to pose as being trendy green while we really aren’t willing to take the steps which are shown to have impact. I think it is okay if being more earth friendly is not your passion; its not mine. But I do want to honor God. Therefore I want to be responsible. And I want to use my minimal greenness to portray to my green friends about how Jesus probably didn’t hate environmentalists (as so many cultural American Christians instead seem to portray, being very anti-“save the earth”).

So, what are the lessons to be learned? Support a cause. Support caring for the earth (although, I highly suggest caring for the people of the earth, prioritizing that). But, as you support it, pick it up a notch. Do something more, something than has more value than just buying an overpriced piece of recycled paper that you can write on and throw in the trash. More importantly, move from just doing or being something because of a trend, to doing so because you care a smidgen. As you do that, you will rub off on other people. These other people might be doing it just because of the trendiness of it at first, but someday they might care about the cause, also.

Thank you God for this beautiful world you have blessed us with! Let your creation sing of your glory until Jesus comes back again, and makes a new world which will not fall apart on us! 

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What is Going in Life of Late

Life has pretty much been the same ol’ same ol’ here in Northern Virginia. Not that I am complaining. As usual, I have an obsession, which of late has been my FADs (Friday Adventure Day). I started a blog about these weekly adventures, adding in traveling tips for moms with little kids at www.adventureday.wordpress.com. So far, I really haven’t gotten too much done. I am learning a lot about official REAL blogging (not like this personal blog here) which is a whole new set of information to me. Web design, themes, and SLO & SEO  was equivalent to SOS in my thinking when I started! Considering it was kinda throwing off my focus, I think God helped remind me that its all cool and I don’t need to be obsessed. And, with that gentle reminder, I am not obsessed! I guess we will see where it ends up now, if anywhere.

Also, as is typical, I am still taking classes. I am so very ready to be done. Which is why it is especially nice that I will be done SOON- three more classes left! I have fun writing papers on poverty, justice issues, international relationships, and interpersonal relationships. I love what I learn, I just hate doing the work to learn it. This coming week I have a huge paper due on intercultural business. Fun, fun, fun! So, if I keep up with my homework after the kids are tucked in to their beds, I should graduate from Ashford University at the beginning of August. Thanks to Josh, the Hills, and Becky for getting me through this! I know I won’t regret it!

And, as usual, I am still involved in my church, facilitating a Bible study, hanging out with the people in my SPHERE (and hopefully making a difference in their lives, as they often make in mine) and helping Jill out with L2F Needs Network. Within this past month I’ve been helping a Pakistani family settle into their new home in America after they fled religious persecution. L2F, other community members, and people in churches have almost entirely provided everything they need. Also, we collected, packed-up, and had a team deliver a bunch of stuff (baby necessities and medicine) to an area in Haiti which was very close to the earthquake epicenter, and is not very reachable to large relief organizations. Here is a cool video about it:

In addition, I have been trying to create a home-garden. Its a fun activity for us to do outside and, yes, it was my obsession just prior to the Adventure Day Blog. I think my obsessions are always semi-creative (music, cooking, blogging, painting, gardening) which might mean I can blame them on my partial artistic personality.  I am even on the map as a Triscuit Home Garden! Wow, how THRILLING! Josh has even been adding to the flowers and vegetables, by practicing his slingshot off the porch, to his targets. Okay, I guess he doesn’t shoot my plants, but its nice to all have something fun to do in the same area together outdoors.

Lastly, and most importantly, I’ve been taking care of the kids. I like them. They are growing up. Maybe in honor of Josiah’s first birthday next month I’ll actually write out his birth story! He still has no teeth, but he is cruising around pretty good. He is a happy baby. Sweet little Avi is a mischievous lover of her brother. I don’t even know how to begin to describe Avilynne these days. Sometimes she makes my heart melt, yet other times I just want to lock her outside of our house. She is trying very hard to speak English, repeating our pronunciation of words over and over. I am terrible at pronunciation, as is she. But, unlike me, she is improving. Here is a link to a Spring 2010 photo album of them.

As always, if you haven’t, please support Thai Song, and what is going on in the makings of this awesome inspired fair-trade organization. Buying a bag, which these sweet women create from nasty trash, helps change lives! Feel free to check out and support the co-director (yes, my cousin’s) blog at: http://brittanyfox.missionsplace.com

So, these are the updates on the Johnston Family of late!

Our Baby Boy is Born!


Hello! Our baby boy has been born!

At:
INOVA Loudoun Hospital Birthing Inn
In:

Lansdowne, Virginia
On:

May 11th, 2009
At the Time of:
3:57 p.m.
Weighing:

8 lbs. 1 oz.
Length:
19.5 inches long

And His Name Is:

Josiah Cory Michael Johnston

“The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.”
Psalm 29:11

(Labor progression Chart)

Metaphors from the Moon

Metaphors from the Moon
Category: Religion and Philosophy

I really get this. Tonight I saw the moon. It was full, glowing, bright. It was only the moon, yet I could barely look at it. Soon all these spiritual metaphors were flowing into my mind. I really should go outside more. Sometimes I wonder why I left CA, because it was warm enough there to enjoy outside even in the winter. I think I hope to move back to a warm climate. There were benefits to places like Fiji and Hawaii. I think I experienced God so much more because I surrounded myself with nature. Though I might be surrounded by four walls, my space heater and computer in this VA winter….. tonight, in my car, I was able to see God in nature.

So, going back to the spiritual metaphors….I don’t think I reflect God like the moon was reflecting the Sun. But you know what? It hit me that if the moon could reflect the sun so vividly even though it is sooo not the sun, then maybe I too can reflect God. No not just dimly, but with amazing beauty and charisma. With a blinding brightness, even though its obvious I am not God (um…just like the moon isn’t the sun).

Then, the I remembered years ago when one time I was sitting peering at a full moon one Valentines Day, the year before I got married. I believed God told me He was giving the moon to me. I mean, that probably sounds weird. Yet, it was the most special gift. Its like the time my mom told me before she went on a trip to remember her whenever I heard the frogs croaking out my window (not as romantic). And, I do. And now, since then, the moon is such a connection between me and God. Sometimes I am convinced He must do spectacular things with the moon just for me right when I happen to glance up. Okay, I am sure its me and everyone else. Heck, I don’t care if God “gave the moon” to everyone else. He gave it to me, dang it! And not me “too” even though it is me too….but it doesn’t feel like it. And isn’t salvation like that? He has offered it to us humans, yet just the same, it is the most personal thing ever. And it doesn’t stop there.

Moments before I saw the moon tonight I was pondering how much salvation just doesn’t do it for me. I mean, it should. Yet, I know I am terrible at thinking outside of my reality. And being saved from eternal death is just not my personal reality. I don’t feel and have never felt like I was going to hell. I can say “yep, I am saved, I am going to heaven.” Don’t get me wrong, I am glad about it. It would suck if I wasn’t. But I don’t “get” it. I don’t FEEL it, its just a mind knowledge. So, even though being saved and all does cut it, I am sad to say that I am much too human and demanding to really “get” Christianity just because of that. I just don’t think that would do it for me. But, there is something that turns me on to this deal. Its that I am daily saved, daily renewed, I have new life currently. My pastor keeps harping on the verse in John 10 where Jesus said He came to bring “life to the fullest,” and for good reason. This has always been one of my favorite verses. What this verse means gives meaning to life. And I think that’s why there are so many countless people who live under the title of being a Christian but don’t act like it and don’t live like it. They wouldn’t die for Christ, because they can’t daily die to themselves. Why not? Because they don’t get that there is really something that we are sooo freakin’ blessed to get by doing that [dying]. We have life! We can FEEL that. That hits our reality now! Salvation is not just fire control, escaping hell. Its also so much about not being burned right now. And tonight, I felt burnt.

So, I know your wondering, “um…what about the moon? Wasn’t this blog supposed to be about the moon?” So, with that, here was my other spiritual metaphor I pulled out of my moon-time which encompasses the present and the future:

It was so amazing. It was a glimpse of what Heaven must be like. There were moon bows; rainbows which were surrounding tonights blinding full moon with the clouds whipping past it. And that kinda fits the description in Revelations; the throne of God surrounded by rainbows with clouds of His glory and the Spirit passing by. Wow. crazy. And for a split second I almost could “get” the reality of heaven. Maybe for the first time. It was like sneaking a peak into a window when your not supposed to know what’s inside yet (which, unrelated, I did really do the other day with a flashlight and all). It was such a little amount of Glory to be seen. But “for the Glory of it all …” (Which happened to be the David Crowder song playing at the moment) as I sat there in the car in the cold night, I was reminded I am here for the Glory of YOU (no, not you person reading this. I mean God, silly….wait, you mean its not normal for people switch from first person to second person in the middle of a paragraph? I guess not). There is purpose in my living because you are glorified and enjoy helping me through, making me better, helping me thrive when I don’t feel I can survive. No, Its not a game, but its fun for you, isn’t it? You like helping me out and giving me that life to the fullest. You like say “sweet, check out my resurrection power in Elisa over there!” You get a kick out of it. And with that in mind I suddenly felt the energy, the strength to go back into my house. To face my sick and crying baby. To smile at my husband and want to love and appreciate him even when I don’t feel perfectly loved. To face the work that needs to be done and the life I sometimes don’t always prefer but I have anyways. Why? Because I wanted to give that gift to you, God. I just understood that it would make you happy letting you have fun by filling me full of life. To let you enjoying seeing your amazing power working in my life. I think that I think you only like to do that when other people are around to see, you know, so you are more “glorified” among the masses by the cool stuff you can do in me. But you don’t need an audience to be glorified. Nope. You just need me.

So, that’s what I got out of the moon tonight.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9:

“[W]e were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

Currently listening :
Remedy
By David Crowder Band
Release date: 25 September, 2007