Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hard Core Seven Month-ers

The New Year is just around the corner! Enough with this 'O-Nine' business. Onto the 'O-Ten', 'Twenty-Ten', 'O-One-O', or whatever we're going to call it. I thought it's about time to carry the banner and start blogging again. Hopefully this time with more vigor!

Of course, I must mention our amazing Christmas in California! We had a wonderful time with our family- particularly our lovely nieces and nephew. They are so precious! Please note, in the below picture I am holding my new niece Rachel Gloria. This is not a little New DeLew baby.
Moving on, in just a couple of days Mark and I can tell people that we got married LAST year. I think it makes us sound much more hard core, and even better, it makes us appear as if we know what we're doing as a married couple. I mean, obviously after 7 months of marriage we have tons of sage advice for other married people, right? Although I can't wait until we're really hard core and we've been married for 25 years, the past 7 months of newness has been so deeply fulfilling! I can't describe the joy of living with my best friend and sharing everything with each other. Freedom is the word I use to describe the past seven months. Absolute freedom. Freedom to love fully and to share fully.

Now obviously, Mark and I have gotten into our fair share of heated arguments over unsalted vs. salted butter, saying 'I understand' too often, and chicken fingers dinner. And of course, these fights always start off about superficial tidbits and morph into a monstrous debate about major life issues. How annoying. But all this to say, what has made this a wonderful 7 months is the fact that we have both committed to sit down at the dinner table and hash this stuff out. In the midst of our disagreements, I'm not afraid that this is a 'make-or-break' conversation, because no argument can break us. I have the freedom to be more honest, more real, more me. Now unfortunately, more often than not the 'more me' is just simply 'more selfish'. But that's where we get opportunities to live out God's grace and cover over that selfishness. It's a beautiful thing!

I've heard from a lot of people that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Because we've had such a fun first few months, I've been kind of waiting for the bomb to drop (or whatever that idiom is) and cause us to ask those questions 'why did I get married? who is this man? ahhh!?!?!' And of course, I"m sure there will be some type of moment like that in our life, but I'm realizing that instead of fearing the potential crazy future, I need to cherish these joyous times, use them to build a foundation that will prepare us for harder times, and remember these joys whenever we're in the midst of that darkness. So for now, the New DeLews will reflect on 2009 and simply rejoice that God has brought us deep love and fulfillment. We are so thankful.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Remember Well

It has been an exciting and busy few weeks for the New DeLews. I had almost posted about our yoga experience last week (yes, Mark and I both went to a yoga studio for free classes, let's just say it was intense). I also almost posted about our sweet weekend in northern Wisconsin with our good friends. I also almost posted about one of the kids I tutor and her comment "I got Obama'd". But none of those posts were actualized. Great intentions, lame follow-through. Oh well.

But, the Big News in our lives is...

No, I"m NOT pregnant.

Mark has been offered a permanent position at his work!!

Some may know our relatively harrowing experience regarding Mark and the job market. One sentence to summarize it: We've been praying for a full-time, permanent job for Mark since August 2008. Yup, that's one year and 2 months. This obscure idea of being a double-income family still seems very surreal to me. But we are thankful, and let's be honest, I"m sure I'll get used to it very quickly.

As Mark and I have gotten a chance to reflect on the past year of unemployment, I can't get the phrase 'Remember Well' out of my head. There have been plenty of times the past year when Mark and I have been thoroughly frustrated and discouraged by the apparent 'meaninglessness' of unemployment. I mean, we have all these plans of how we want to live and serve God. How is unemployment helping us reach those goals?! I say this facetiously but really, we had to be reminded over and over again that we were not in some 'useless stage of life'. This time of uncertainty really did re-shape our perspectives. We've had the opportunity to start our marriage with a sense of utter need for the Lord and His providence. We've gotten to see how even the most confusing circumstances can make sense in God's timing. And we've learned again that our identities cannot be determined by what we do. These are the things that we must remember well. I need to remember the roughest times of this past year and God's faithfulness in the midst of it all. Holding those things close to me can help make a bit more sense of roughness that we encounter in the future, and remind me that I can have confidence in our faithful God. My desire is that we will be a couple that 'remembers well' the sorrows and joys of life, and that we might find beauty and meaning in their midst.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

When you walk through the garden...

It's been a while since I've posted in this space, but it's not because I haven't been thinking! Actually, one of the reasons that I have neglected my blog posting is the topic of this post tonight. Over the last couple months, Emily and I have been watching our way through the TV series, "The Wire". I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the dirty workings of inner-city America...and to anyone who has a tolerance for HBO-level language and content. Currently, we're in the middle of season 3, which focuses on the political ramifications of an increasing homicide rate in Baltimore. The wealthier population is fleeing the rising crime, and the political incumbents are losing their tax base. So a lot of pressure is on the police to bring the crime rate down. The result of this combustible mix? Backroom deals between politicians, drug lords, and developers, more drug deals, gang shootouts, broken relationships, and ruined lives. It's a sad story of people using and abusing each other for power, money, and pleasure. Sounds like a depressing show...why do I watch this again?

Well, there are compelling characters, humorous moments, exciting plot twists, and mysteries behind each corner. It's an extremely smart and well-written show. Further, it’s believable that this is what could be happening in cities all over America. It's incredibly illuminating. And it promotes cynicism towards those in power (but not complete cynicism...there has to be some hope). There aren't really any "good guys" in the show, mainly just the bad and the worse. It's a sobering reminder of the injustice and evil in this world.

So what does it all mean? What's the point? I think The Wire succeeds in painting the complexity of social injustice in urban America. There isn't one, or two, or even a few causes to poverty, drugs, crime, and corruption. All these elements are intertwined and related. And while there may not always be a high-level conspiracy that reaches from the top of the political ladder to the bottom of the sewer, what happens in politics is related to what happens in the street. In Chicago, things like Cabrini Green and the Olympics (doh!) have far-reaching implications. People’s lives are affected, and the people who have the least power are usually the ones that are most adversely affected.

Thinking about this makes me want to hold our leaders, whether in politics, business, or religion, to a higher standard of integrity. When I hear of new laws or policy, it makes me ask, “how will this affect those with the least influence?” or “what personal benefits might a leader accrue from this?” These are easy questions to ask of hated politicians, but it’s important to keep our beloved figures accountable too. Corruption is a scourge of society, and I believe strongly in fighting it wherever it rears its ugly head. And because of The Wire, I now have a sense of how seemingly innocuous actions committed by either suburban families or charismatic politicians (or urban yuppies like myself) can hurt those that have no protection.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thai Red Curry

We mentioned that we would talk about kithcen experiments on this blog. Mark and I have a running google document of 'our favorite meals'. In the past few months I have become awakened to the beauty of cooking. I've come up with a whole 'philosophy of cooking', but I don't feel like writing it down yet, so give me some time.

Mark and I strongly believe that Thai food is objectively the best food in the world (even though we haven't yet been to Thailand, we still think we're masters on this subject). One of my goals in life is to be able to cook the things we love most- including Thai food. After spending a good hour in a very authentic Asian market in Chicago (it took an hour because we couldn't read any of the product names), we bought the basic spices required in Thai cooking. I must admit, one of the ingredients that is essential to most dishes is 'Fish Sauce'. Oh dear, fish sauce has such an atrocious odor, and yet if you can persevere through the smell, you can create Americanized-Authentic Thai food. So, below is the recipe/pics of the Red Curry dish I made tonight.

Thai Red Curry (based off the food blog http://www.rasamalaysia.com/)

-1 tablespoon oil
-1 1/2 Tbs red curry paste (from asian market or Whole Foods)
-8 oz. shrimp or boneless chicken breast (cut into small cubes)
-some fresh green beans
-thickly sliced carrots
-1 15 oz can coconut milk
-1/4 cup water
-2 tsps sugar
-1/4 tsp fish sauce

Heat up a small pot with the cooking oil. Saute the red curry paste until aromatic. Add the chicken and/or shrimp into the pot and stir well with the curry paste. Add coconut milk, water, beans, carrots, and bring the curry to boil. Add fish sauce, sugar, and stir-continuously for 1o seconds or so, dish out and serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

(Pretty much you can use any veggies you want- I added in onions and green peppers too)

We drank it with a riesling, primarily because it equalizes the spicy-ness of the curry. In honor of Fall, I also made one of our favorites: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. You can find a super easy recipe on one of my favorite food blogs: http://www.smittenkitchen.com/

Anyway, that's it for today. We love to eat and we love to experiment in the kitchen. Please try this out and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fields of Opportunities

So we may have slacked a bit on blogging the past 2 weeks, but it's only for good reasons. We've been busy- I had a big work thing that dominated my life, we took a wonderful road trip to Kansas City, and our closet broke, which means all of our clothes are strewn across the apartment. It's a good look. But we're back with a vengeance, slowly yet surely getting back into our life routine. We even went grocery shopping tonight.

Mark and I had a wonderful time on our road trip last weekend. Not only were we very excited for Sean and Bethany's wedding (woo hoo!), we were eager spend some extended time together. So we started driving Friday evening (just in time for Chicago traffic) and stayed over in Columbia, Missouri. There we got some bad Chinese take-out from Jing-Gos, stayed at the 'oh-so-classy' Econolodge, and watched cable TV.

Saturday morning we attempted to make use of the complimentary 'deluxe continental breakfast' (which included stale toast and lukewarm milk), drove 2 more hours, and absolutely loved the wedding! It was wonderful. Sunday morning we thoroughly enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the bride's parents' house and then journeyed back to Chicago via Iowa.

Favorite mundane tidbit of the trip: When driving across the Missouri-Iowa border, a welcome to Iowa sign said "Iowa- Fields of Opportunities". Being the (at times) snobby urbanites that we wish we weren't, Mark and I just laughed. I've never considered rural Iowa to be a place of opportunity. Fields- yes. Opportunities- no.

But really, Iowa was a field of opportunity for us. Driving for countless hours through the countless corn fields created space for Mark and I to simply 'be' with each other. We had the time and opportunity to talk about anything- Mark explained the stock market to me (yet again), I sang the entire soundtrack of 'Rent', together we dreamed of our future, discussed our sense of calling in the world, and just laughed. Iowa gave us a chance to remember and experience the joy of being together. So Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois (and any other states that my 'California-urbanness' normally disregards)- thank you for creating that space for the New DeLews.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


All right, I realize that it's almost been a week since my last post. Shame on me. I don't really have more to say about it.

I have a major issue with hair salons. Everytime I go to get my hair cut or highlighted, it's an emotional fiasco. My hair generally turns out looking fine, but the experience is rough. I don't know why this is the case, but I've noticed a trend of hair salons increasingly becoming more and more pretentious. The stylist can't understand why I don't spend 45 minutes on my hair each morning or why I don't want to buy $50 shampoo. Whenever I sit in that chair, I get chastised for something, and then I get very antsy to escape from this place where hair is the center of the universe. Well, I have had enough of that.

In our neighborhood (Logan Square), we have tons of hair salons, I mean tons! On my short walk home from the El, I pass by 4 hair places, most of them labeled 'unisex', 'Crazy $10 Tuesdays', 'we do bowl cuts', etc... Perhaps they're not the most 'posh' places, but I figured they'd be able to cut my hair sufficiently. So Monday night, I ventured to the hair salon closest to the Whipple owned by a wonderful woman named Josefina. Josefina is a dear lady who has owned the shop for 9 years, and has lived in Logan Square for 25 years! And guess what? Josefina didn't chastise me for having ridiculously nasty roots or dead ends. She simply cut/colored my hair, and talked to me about our neighborhood and the rough economy. It was such a refreshing experience to spend 2 hours with a wise woman who understands that hair is not the center of my life, but good hair can help make things a bit better.

Spending time with Josefina reminded me that 'living intentionally' in this community is not necessarily some big event. It involves going to a local salon and sharing the mundane moments together. Although it does not seem very significant, these moments give us a glimpse into someone else's world, and it allows us to understand our community a bit better. Thankfully, this realization helps 'living intentionally' seem a bit more manageable.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm not consumeristic!

I am so thankful for this past weekend, full of relaxation and friends! It included going out to Korean BBQ with some friends (shout out to Sean and Bethany!), sleeping in until 10am, going to a yummy lunch at Suzette's Crepery for Mark's mom's bday (shout out to the DeLews), yummy birthday dinner party with friends (shout out the Woehrs and other Wheaties), church, deep apartment cleaning and cooking, and community group at the Whipple!

One of the highlights of the weekend was spending Saturday afternoon shopping with Mark. Now this is the first time since being married that Mark and I have shopped for clothes, so it seemed like a really special event. Because Mark was involuntarily unemployed for the past 5 months (note the picture of Mark's first paycheck!) , obviously clothes shopping was not on our agenda, mainly because we were just barely making it through each month. I must admit, as I look back at that time of frugality, I'm pretty proud of us. We learned the art of discipline, of living within our means, of prioritizing our needs and wants. I was so proud of how 'subversive' we were living- we were not falling into 'Consumeristic America's' temptations! I was able to abstain from shopping, so that means that I'm totally not a slave to consumerism. Phew!

But the other day, I was looking through our 'Yummy Meals Google Doc' (it's a list of all the great meals we know how to make so far). As I read through the different meals we've made the past few months, I realized that I still consumed quite a bit, actually. I loved grocery shopping, but I thought that was totally normal. But really, it was my consumeristic outlet! I was able to justify how often I grocery shopped/thought about grocery shopping because eating was a necessity. So shopping for food can't being consumeristic, right? Believe me, I'm not at all saying it was wrong for me to like grocery shopping, but I shouldn't fool myself- it fed my subconscious consumeristic desires. What an annoying self-realization! But I guess an important one too. At least now I can admit that I"m a product of consumeristic America and face that reality head on. So what do I do? I guess I could grow my own food in an apartment in subzero Chicago winter? Well, maybe I need to be a bit more realistic...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Grace in Trader Joes

All that talk about the glories of biking to work and it's been raining the past 2 days. Of course. Yesterday's 'life lesson' took place at Trader Joes. After work I walked to Trader Joes to pick up a few essentials (wine and cheese- my two favorite food groups). It was raining so I was messing with my umbrella in the entryway of the TJs. Mind you, I was tired, feeling a bit sick, and wet, so my movements were a tad slower than usual. As I'm walking over to get the cart, a tall lady walking behind me almost bumps into me, throws her hands up in anger, looks at me in disgust, and says, 'Ugh!'. Apparently I had gotten in her way. She rushes past me all angrily and arrogantly goes into TJs.

I must admit, I was SO mad at her. The whole time in Trader Joes I was thinking up smartass comments I could have made to her like, "I'm sorry that I made you lose one second of your precious time. I"m sorry you're such a jerk. I'm sorry you hate your life and are taking it out on me." Ok, so maybe those comments would have been lame, but still, I was ranting and raving in my mind. I was judging her for being so petty and impatient. Why can't she just be gracious with people around her and chill out?

A couple minutes later I was walking to the bus stop with my heavy Trader Joes bag (due to the wine), and some tourists in front of me stopped quickly to let a car pass. But of course, it was pedestrian's right away, so I brushed past them quickly, grunting a frustrated 'ugh'!, I mean, how could these tourists be so stupid? They made me slow down for a second.

Then the convicting moment hit me. I am that 'mean Trader Joes girl'! I was petty and impatient with these tourists because they inconvenienced me for a second. I was not gracious with them at all. It's all about me.

Isn't that always the case, though? We want people to be gracious with us, but then we fail to be gracious to others? I see that in my life so often, and yesterday I was once again reminded of it. I take myself too seriously sometimes, and the people around me feel the brunt of that. I want grace to pervade my life and my interactions. And it starts with these little things, the minor inconveniences, the petty issues. I must practice living graciously in all circumstances, even in Trader Joes.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Aaaaand...we're here! (both of us)

Well, it's time for my first blog post. Actually, I'm very excited for this blog. Compared to Emily's, my posts probably will contain less "quotation marks." I'll try to bring my limited perspective, education, and experience to bear on some of my favorite issues, namely politics, economics, and the church. I will also attempt to view these issues in light of my belonging to the diverse human experience, and more directly as a member of a past, present, and future community that follows Jesus. (Reader beware: there is also a strong possibility that I'm just trying (and failing) to sound cool ;)

So where this goes, I'm not too sure. I want to write more about these issues as part of everyday life in this blog. Being practical is very important to me. When I examine an issue, I try to look for root causes, ideal solutions, and practical steps toward these solutions.

A little more about me and my present situation: I'm married to the most wonderful woman (Em), I live in the Logan Square neighborhood, and I work as an analyst in Chicago. As recent arrivals to Logan Square, Emily and I are trying to live "intentionally" in this economically and ethnically diverse neighborhood. We're doing this because we think it's right to respect the neighbors who have lived here for a long time and for the people who are long-term residents to be the beneficiaries of more recent economic activity (i.e. "development"). We do NOT want to "use" the city; we want to give to the city, and work for the city. I think we have a lot to improve upon, but I like how we attend church in the neighborhood, shop at local businesses, and know some residents.

One of the questions that I think about when passing through different neighborhoods, especially lower-income neighborhoods, is: how does a city foster economic growth in neglected neighborhoods that benefits the long-term residents of that neighborhood? It's not right that development in Chicago often means the pricing out of long-term residents and domination by newer arrivals with more economic resources. I'm searching for a picture of what development should mean; and although that will likely look different according to the context, I'd love to hear any thoughts or resources on non-destructive development (if that is even possible).

Well, I did use a few quote marks, but whatevs. I'm just following my heart!

Yeah, we bike

Today Mark and I biked 6 miles to our respective workplaces. I know, hard core. We're totally 'that couple' that bikes together. And I feel pretty good about it. Normally my work commute entails walking 10 minutes, taking the El, then hopping onto a bus. I actually really enjoy public transportation, partly because I feel a bizarre sense of solidarity with the other 40 people squished up around me, all of us on a journey to or from something. It's one of the few times that people of every different background is forced to intermix. Sharing these moments with complete strangers encourages me to look beyond myself and remember that I'm just part of a greater story. While waiting for the bus in freezing temperatures, it is all too clear that I am not in control of my life. "Where is the (insert choice word here) bus?" But don't we need to be reminded that we're not the center of the universe AND we're not even in control of that universe? So, long story short, I love public transportation.

But biking, now that's a different story! Biking gives me a sense of autonomy and control! I can weave in and out of traffic, sometimes we're able to beat cars down a street, I can ride on sidewalks like a pedestrian, use the left turn lane like a car, and I have a kickstand like a bicycle! It's incredible. But for some reason, when I'm biking, I find myself more inclined to pray. Perhaps it's because I"m fighting for survival in commuters traffic- 'Dear Lord, please help my brakes work,' But I also find time to reflect on the 'journey of life'. My heart is a bit more tender to God's gentle nudging. And honestly, I need more times like that in my life. More times where I'm in the position to respond to what God is doing in the world. So I will continue to bike. As long as the weather allows....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tea Time

As I began writing my second blogpost ever, I felt that it's kind of a lame post because it's just about winter and tea- kind of boring. But we're all about finding "beauty in the mundane", right? So here goes...

It is a blustery day in Chicago. It seems that Chicago decided to skip Fall and jump straight into Winter. Let me say- poor decision Chicago, poor decision. I think I can speak for the masses when I say that Chicago winters are horrible and demoralizing. My hatred for Chicago winters can be very intense. When I'm ranting and raving about the cold, it's pretty hard for me to separate Chicago from its atrocious winters. In my irrational mind: Chicago has cold winters + winters suck= Chicago sucks. Now, as a self-proclaimed 'lover of all things urban', I realize that I'm not supposed to say that. I'm supposed to love the city for what it is, feel a sense of solidarity with other cold people in the city, etc...

So I"m working on a change of heart this winter because 1. my 'urban conscience' is convicting me and 2. I'd like to be a pleasant wife this winter- I don't want to be that girl that always complains about the weather. Everyone hates that girl.

In thinking about practical ways to motivate this change of heart, I've made the conscious decision to become a tea-person. Although I'm a coffee person through and through, I really like the idea of tea. It's healthier, tea-people are usually pretty cool, tea is more hippy/green, and drinking tea sparks my imagination about ancient herbal remedies. So endeavor number one- find the right tea and learn to make it. Endeavor two- develop a deep love for tea. I think this is a step in the right direction. This winter, with tea in my hand, I hope to take my eyes off of my cold self, and authentically care about the other cold people around me. Well, I guess tea can't completely take away my self-involvement, but it might help! We shall see...

Monday, September 28, 2009

We Caved

Welcome to the New DeLew's blog! Now I must admit that I feel a bit insecure about two things regarding this blog. 1. I always feel a bit behind in this new 'technological' game. For example, I was slow to join Facebook, I still don't get the Twitter concept, and I just discovered the beauty of food blogs! So, here we are, once again, a bit late in the game. 2. I kind of feel like we're caving into technology, baring our souls to that anonymous entity called 'Cyberspace'. But let's be honest, we live far away from a lot of people we love. I can admit that this can be an effective way to communicate about our lives.

So, enough insecurities, let's just admit it- we've started a blog.

We will just learn as we go along here I guess. But we want to officially welcome you to our blog! We hope to share a bit about life occurances, kitchen experiments, and our stream-of-conscious reflections.

Cheers to the journey! Please join us!