Larissa and Ian Murphy married two years ago. An eight-minute video of their informal outdoor ceremony-lush grass under trees, bride in a knee-length white gown and cowboy boots-shows Larissa holding her father's hand as she walks the makeshift aisle. Someone helps Ian stand.
The video explains how, six years ago, Ian and Larissa were about to get engaged. Then Ian suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. Larissa stayed committed to Ian during his time in the ICU and the rehab center. She moved in with the Murphy family to help take care of him when he came home.
Four years passed. Friends married and had kids. Larissa had to decide whether to commit to a life "I don't think I ever would've chosen for myself-working my whole life, having a husband who can't be left alone, managing his caregivers. ... The practical costs felt huge, and those didn't even touch on the emotional and spiritual battles that I would face."
Their wedding took place on Aug. 28, 2010. The video of it has touched a nerve: 576,000 views in the first five days after it was posted last month on the Desiring God website (desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-story-of-ian-larissa).
Larissa did not expect that kind of response: "I thought there would be more attention on Ian's disability, but I've been watching the comments ... and it's just really affecting people's marriages." One man messaged Larissa saying his wife was ready to file for divorce, but after watching the video, he realized he hadn't been showing Christ-like love to her. They are now trying to reconcile.
Larissa said the marriage "has given us a really big view of God, which is what it's all about. It's not about Ian and me, it's about what God accomplishes in us." Now, while Larissa works, caretakers and family members come to stay with Ian. After work she and Ian do physical therapy. She helps him eat dinner, and they spend time watching movies or going to their church group.
As in any marriage, Larissa said, she and Ian sometimes have difficulties, but through it all, she's learned to rely on God: "So many times when I am just ready to sob, when I'm so tired and I can't do anything else to help, those are the times Ian needs the most help, and God gets me through it. I keep thinking 'God, this is You showing me it's Your strength getting me through.'
Organic or conventional, that is the question. According to the USDA, half our dinner plate-the new icon that replaces the food pyramid-should consist of fruits and vegetables, around five servings a day. But with food prices going up, many people fear they can't afford so much produce, especially if they have to buy organic in order to have nutritious and safe food. Organic produce can cost three times more than its conventionally grown cousin.
Some people buy organic because they worry about exposure to pesticides. Organic produce is grown without using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. That does not mean no pesticides or fertilizers. According to Christie Wilcox, writing for Scientific American, the U.S. Organic Standards organization has approved more than 20 pesticides, all natural-and some of those are toxic in elevated quantities.
Some people buy organic because they think it's more nutritious. LiveScience.com reported on a British analysis of 162 peer-reviewed studies comparing conventional and organic produce. It found "no statistical difference in levels of most nutrients" between the two groups.
What to do? The Mayo Clinic says consumers of both conventional and organic produce should select a variety of foods, buy in season, read labels, and wash and scrub produce under running water. The National Pesticide Information Center has information about how to minimize pesticide residue (npic.orst.edu/capro/fruitwash.pdf).
The USDA provides a handy guide for adding more fruits and vegetables to the family diet. It includes buying seasonally, buying canned and frozen, and buying store brands (choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet9SmartShopping.pdf). -Susan Olasky
Twenty years ago dinner theaters were popular, but now many have closed. Jeff Czerbinski, producer and manager of Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater (WCPDT) in Hagerstown, Md., said he once looked into joining the National Dinner Theatre Association, but he received no response to his many emails. Then he learned the association was defunct.
The continuing recession hurts both restaurants and theater, so "surviving the bad economy is a little tricky," Czerbinski said. Although two decades ago, the WCPDT averaged 100-120 customers at eight performances a week, Czerbinski said now, "A young family having trouble paying bills is more likely to stay home and order pizza and rent a movie."
Dinner theaters that survive have generally slimmed down. WCPDT planned to close in April following 27 seasons, but after cutting back its shows in an effort to save on royalties and rent, the theater is beginning its 28th season this month. Now the theater runs from Thursday through Sunday and puts on each show 11 times rather than the previous 18-20 times. -Evelyn Iversen