The Kitchen House

This is the first year I have made a list of goals, posted them, shared them with y’all, and have actually kept myself to it. One of those goals was to read at least 1 book a month. I love reading but never make the time for it, so this is the year that I am making the time for it. Yay me!

My husband gave me the book titled “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom. He didn’t think too hard on it. He saw that it was a New York Times Bestseller so that make him feel better about his purchase, but he bought it because our last name is “Kitchen”. He’s deep and I love him for it!

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I decided to make “The Kitchen House” my January book and I am so glad I did. It is a great book. It’s based around the nineteenth century in Virginia. It follows the story of Lavinia, an orphan from Ireland and Belle, the illegitimate black daughter of the plantation’s master. From the moment the story starts you are completely invested. I won’t spoil any of the story for you because I believe you should read this book. The author did a great job of making your heart break for the main characters and join their journey towards freedom. At times it was hard to read because I just wanted to scream and yell at all of the evil, wicked characters. Another thing I got from the book is that at all times we never know the “whole story”. When you read it you will understand, but I was left wondering why I didn’t know more about what happened with a certain character. At the end, it dawned on me that it was because I was reading it from Belle & Lavinia’s perspective… they wouldn’t know the details either. They were women, regardless of color, and women were not privy to details. The main thing I loved loved loved about this story was that all of those living in the Kitchen House were family. They didn’t care about color… they loved. They weren’t all genetically related, but they loved. It’s beautiful.

This book spoke to me. Being born and raised in Atlanta I have been surrounded by racial history my whole life. Fortunately for me, I had a family that treated people as human beings and not as a skin color or gender. For the longest time I had no clue what racism was. I was in high school when I had my first experience with racism. I couldn’t wrap my head around why I was being threatened because of my skin color. Then when I was 15 in downtown Atlanta, there was a gang that decided to attack any white person they found. I saw a man holding his two year child beat down to the ground when it all started. Frightened we began to disperse, but I was slammed up against a wall. I fell to the ground at that was the extent of it. It was enough for me to be done with downtown Atlanta. This was in the early 90’s. I remember my ride home that I was filled with an anger I had not known before. I didn’t want to go to school out of fear that because of my color I would be attacked again. Then something amazing happened. I began to think about all of my friends and those I cared for.

See, a lot of my friends were black. They were very dear to me and I looked forward to hanging out with them every day. They brought me joy and laughter. It was at that moment that I my heart went from anger at an entire race to anger at the individual who committed the crime. As awful as that night was, it shaped me to who I am today. It made me strong in who I was and was not willing to allow a group of idiot boys develop of hateful heart for a group of people that had absolutely nothing to do with the situation. I still don’t get racism because it comes from a place of ignorance and hate that I don’t know or understand. I do not look at people and judge them based off color of skin, gender, sexuality, political affiliation, religion, and whatever it is you can judge people. I get to know people for who they are and if they aren’t jerks, I am open and accepting.

I hated the circumstances for Lavinia and Belle in this story. I wanted so bad to make it right for them and at one point, Lavinia tries and is beaten pretty badly for it. Alice Walker writes on the front of the book, “I recommend The Kitchen House. This novel, like The Help does important work.” It really does. It opens up the dialogue of a past that happened and how as a country we have moved way forward. There will always be people with a wicked heart and believe that their race, gender, sexuality, etc is far superior to others. No book, law, movement, or anything will make them change. It will have to be on their own accord.

If you don’t mind being uncomfortable at times, read this book! If you can’t stand being uncomfortable, read this book. I loved it.

Miss Gracie

I have been meaning to sit down and share with you the story of Miss Gracie. She is my 12 year old niece who just happens to be Miss PreTeen National for 2013. She earned this title in December while representing the state of Georgia competing with 64 other contestants from all over the country. She was also voted Miss Congeniality by her peers.

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When she left for the competition I truly thought she would just have a good time in Orlando, FL and make some new friends. She would gain pageant experience by participating in a National event instead of the smaller, local ones she frequented. The competition was fierce and all of the girls there were ready to represent their states. In my mind, and all of our minds, there was no way Gracie was going to bring home the crown. I don’t say this to imply we were doubting her. We weren’t. We were preparing ourselves for a loss that could have very well taken place.

She was excited to participate and proud to represent Georgia, but she was also looking forward to the experience. She wanted to win, but knew that it wouldn’t crush her if she didn’t. As we got updates from her experience via text messages, Facebook updates, and Instagram posts we could tell she was having a lot of fun! Gracie is a good girl….well behaved and extremely intelligent. She is naturally beautiful (yes I am biased… whatever) and sensitive to those around her. As she grows up, she gets stronger and more confident in who she is.

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She is not that girl who will wait around for someone else to take care of her. She is independent and in charge of her own destiny. I am proud of all that she has accomplished so far in her life and I look forward to seeing what she is going to do with her future.

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Every wonder what a beauty pageant queen receives when she wins this coveted title? Well here is a glimpse:
The new Miss PreTeen National for 2013 brought home a gorgeous crown, a 5 ft trophy, sash, a dozen roses, beautiful pearl earrings with a matching necklace, a $7500 cash scholarship and a Cruise for two to the Bahamas including round trip airfare!

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You would think she would have asked her Aunt to go with her on this cruise, but no… she invited her awesome cousin, Shelby to go along with her. That’s okay… Shelby will be more fun for her to hang with anyway. I would just cramp her style being an adult and all!

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All pictures are courtesy of Gracie’s Mom, Beth Hansen.

I love you very much Gracie!!

A 30 and 1/2 Woman

I am excited to be a part of a young woman’s study group at church named, “Thirty and a Half”. It’s not that we are afraid of our age and holding strong on to 30. Some aren’t even 30 yet. It’s that we are holding on to the the belief that we are a daily work in progress, imperfect, and accepting that we will never be a true Proverbs 31 woman because she was made up by a woman who had an expectation for her son. I would love to know if the woman actually writing the poem for her son actually did the things she wrote about. Not only that, could you imagine having that woman as your mother-in-law??? The terror!!!

I, like many of you, struggle with the whole Proverbs 31 woman. We have lifted her up to be a real woman instead of acknowledging her for what she is. A poem, a wish, a list of great values. There is no possible way any woman could be all of what was written. There aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what she does. About a year ago I finally said good bye to the ridiculous expectation I put on myself to be this woman. She was our first “super woman”. Keep in mind, she never existed. We still hold her high on a pedastal. We made her someone we want to strive to be. I dare challenge us, especially Christian women, to look at who we are FOR REAL. Yes, we love Jesus and know what he did for us on the cross. He died for our sins. Did you read that? HE DIED FOR OUR SINS. We are going to sin. It’s inevitable. We are human. We are going to make mistakes and fall sometimes. It’s okay. He loves us any way.

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Jesus loves us if we don’t stay up all night making sure everything is perfect for our family… He expects us to rest. He loves us if we don’t stand at the gates of the city honoring our husband. He knows some of us are shy. He loves us if when we wear sweatshirts and yoga pants, with no make up on and a knit hat to cover our hair that we didn’t have time to do. He loves us as we are… exactly as God made us. When we love Him back all of it falls into place. Jesus doesn’t expect us to be the Proverbs 31 woman. He expects us to follow Him. He is my guide. I think 30 and 1/2 is a perfect description of who we are. Striving towards the virtuous woman but always a work in progress. Love it.

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I might be writing more about this on my blog because I am an active participant in this group. I am looking forward to it. It’s a chance to not only get into God’s word, but to have fellowship with other women in different stages of their life. This is because we have a liberal definition of “young woman” and I love that even though I know I am young, many days I feel old. This made me feel better about my cracking knees and aging back!

Simplify

We really do make things extremely complicated in our own lives.  We try so hard to keep up with everyone’s  image.  We think they are the perfect couple because they “look” like it, but behind closed doors they don’t speak to each other.  We want the really big kitchen with granite counter tops because our neighbors just got them installed but don’t realize that they are broke and can’t afford their mortgage payment.  We want the sports car and big paycheck that the Executives have but don’t realize that he’s divorced and lonely living in a hotel room.  All we see is the outside image and that is what we strive for.  It’s stupid and sad.

I think of this often, especially when I get on my pity party about wanting the granite counter tops and big kitchen.  When I start to pout I take a step back and embrace what I have.  Compared to the rest of the world I live in a mansion.  I have a very large home that would comfortably fit my family of four if I would just get rid of the clutter collecting everywhere.  Compared to a lot of my friends, I do not have a very large home but it’s still very cluttered.  I have also looked at other couples in the past and wondered why we couldn’t be more like “them”.  Then those other couples have gotten divorced due to affairs and I’m quite thankful we were nothing like them.  We may be geeky homebodies, but we are happy, geeky homebodies!

What makes it so complicated is that we believe we are entitled to all of these unnecessary things.  We believe that our relationships should always be easy because it looks that way for others. We are the “entitled” generation… Ick. It’s the quest for all of these things that has gotten a lot of people in financial trouble, broken relationships, and caused a lot of damage.  In America, we are all wealthy compared to the rest of the world. In our tiny bubble known as America, we are trying so hard to have the exact same things that we are missing out on the most beautiful, simplistic parts of life.  The TIME with family & friends.  Getting together and talking to each other, face to face.  Chatting on FB or text messaging does not count!!!  Playing silly games, taking walks, holding hands, eating healthy foods, and embracing what you already have is important.  It makes me sad when I see so many people spending every single weekend doing nothing but running around and cramming in as many projects just so they can try to keep up with others.  I’m not judging them, I just don’t understand it.  I don’t understand because on those weekends where we are constantly on the run I do not feel satisfied.  I don’t feel as if I had a productive weekend.  I feel worn out and exhausted.  I didn’t get to talk to my husband or play with my kids.  I spent it doing chores.  That sucks.

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I have made it a goal of mine to simplify my life.  I actually started this last year and decided it would be something I strive for but would not stress about.   I have done well at saying No and accepting that I can’t do it all and frankly, don’t want to do it all.  I am working hard at decluttering my world (this is a constant work in progress).  I am going to praise Jesus every day for having everything that I need.  Anything else is gravy.  I don’t complain often, but on those days when I get on a pity party about not having something new and exciting, I am going to remind myself of the new and exciting food I get to eat that day, especially now since I have started having local organic foods delivered to me… it’s always a surprise what I’ll get and then have to create something good to eat.  I am working on slowing down because I have learned and accepted that I am not a good multitasker.  That means I schedule time to work and that’s all I do.  I don’t clean if I need to work.  When I need to take care of my home, I don’t work.  I can not multitask well and I am okay with that.  I take time daily to do something that gives me time for myself.  It’s either spending time in prayer, reading a book, meditating, painting my fingernails, or whatever is within reach.  When I take time doing something for myself with something I already have, I find this is the most satisfying.  It’s also not a lot of time, but enough.  Simple doesn’t start out as easy, but it does get easier the more you focus on it.

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I have noticed that more people are beginning to realize that we are more out of touch and more complicated than we have ever been.  I have noticed that others are searching for simple ways to reconnect to their friends, family, and selves.  The hardest thing to do in order to embrace simplicity is giving up the life that we know.  The complicated world of trying to be everything, have everything, and do everything.  If we can become grateful for what we have and embrace who we are, then things will eventually calm down and become more simple.  It’s a beautiful thing. 

Are you looking for simplicity?  What are you willing to do?

 

 

A lazy, cold day

Living in the south all of my life has made me spoiled rotten with some amazing weather for most of the year. It gets hot here in the summer, but not Arizona hot. It gets cold here but not Minnesota cold. When it does get cold I can barley do anything. I just want to curl up under blankets and read a book, take a nap, or watch a movie. Today was that kind of day for us here in the Kitchen home.

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I did clean the bathroom, folded laundry, and cleaned the kitchen… but for some weird reason it wasn’t something that irritated me. It was just something to do. I put dinner in the crockpot (my favorite, Crockpot Chicken Salsa…. easiest recipe in the world). There was no rush to be anywhere today. It was a great day.

I was able to take some time and do some more research on essential oils, start my new book (The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom), logged on to myFitnessPal to start logging my caloric intake, and cut B’s hair. After typing all of these things that I did today I realize that today was a pretty productive day… it was just one where I didn’t have to race the clock. That makes a world of difference.

Days like this are rare for me, but it was a fabulous day. I hear there is a possibility of snow on Sunday…. if that’s the case, Monday could be a great day too!