what i'm not doing.

We’re a few days into December, which means it’s definitely the Christmas season (even if you’re not one of those people who starts listening to Christmas music in September, like I am). I don’t know about you, but in between buying gifts, holiday events, and the stuff of normal everyday life, December can feel like three-ring circus, and it’s easy to miss the whole point of it all for all of the things we have to do (just like the innkeeper).

When you add my upcoming surgery (which has added a new holiday deadline) and a full week away training for work, I’m looking for ways to slow the frantic pace we could easily adopt. With that in mind – here is a list of things I’m not doing this year:

Christmas cards – I like getting them, and even like sending them, but not this year.

Extensive Christmas decorating – I was actually thinking of just limiting our decorations to the tree and the Nativity, but lucky for me, M did all of the heavy lifting here (usually when I was out of house). Even the clean up.

All handmade gifts – I’ve made a few things, but with the exception of a couple things to finish up this weekend, I’m sticking with purchased items. Still personal, but a lot less time involved.

Avoiding gift cards – Normally I try to avoid giving gift cards, because they feel impersonal. This year, I’m giving in – especially for a few hard-to-buy-for family members.

Christmas baking – I got all inspired at Michaels a couple of nights ago and bought disposable loaf pans, thinking I might make some homemade zucchini bread for my neighbors. Or maybe cookies. Who knows? But if I just don’t get around to doing this, they’ll keep until next year. Or even the year after.

Creating (or buying) many new Christmas decorations – This year, I’m sticking to what I already have.

How do you make sure you slow down and enjoy the Christmas season?

the innkeeper.

I heard this at church yesterday morning, from Frederick Buechner’s The Magnificent Defeat. I’m working on a post about some of the things that I’m not doing this Christmas season, in an attempt to slow down the crazy. In the meantime, read this – because I think missing the miracle for the trees is certainly not a new problem.

"I speak to you as men of the world," said the Innkeeper. "Not as idealists but as realists. Do you know what it is like to run an inn-to run a business, a family, to run anything in this world for that matter, even your own life? It is being lost in a forest of a million trees," said the Innkeeper, and each tree is a thing to be done. Is there fresh linen on all the beds? Did the children put on their coats before they went out? Has the letter been written, the book read? Is there money enough left in the bank? Today we have food in our bellies and clothes on our backs, but what can we do to make sure that we will have them still tomorrow? A million trees. A million things.

"Until finally we have eyes for nothing else, and what-ever we see turns into a thing. The sparrow lying in the dust at your feet-just a thing to be kicked out of the way, not the mystery of death. The calling of children outside your window-just a distraction, an irrelevance, not life, not the wildest miracle of them all. That whispering in the air that comes sudden and soft from nowhere-only the wind, the wind…

"Later that night, when the baby came, I was not there," the Innkeeper said. "I was lost in the forest somewhere, the unenchanted forest of a million trees. Fifteen steps to the cellar, and watch out for your head going down. Firewood to the left. If the fire goes out, the heart freezes. Only the wind, the wind. I speak to you as men of the world. So when the baby came, I was not around, and I saw none of it. As for what I heard -- just at that moment itself of birth when nobody turns into somebody-I do not rightly know what I heard.

"But this I do know. My own true love. All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come-we all of us do-our destiny, our joy, our heart's desire. So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When he came, I missed him.

on being radical.

I have this desire to be radical. It's one of those things that's engraved deep within me, a yearning that has been a part of me for a long time. I'm not sure where it comes from exactly - maybe a desire to stand out, a need to matter. I'd like to couch it in spiritual terms, to make you think that I love Jesus so much that I want to do something big for him. But if I'm being honest, I think there are some selfish motivations driving that. Because if not, would I really want to be radical, or just obedient?

It's been about a year and half now since I started doing stuff that I would have considered radical a few years ago. And you know what? It doesn't feel radical. It just kind of feels like this is the way I should have been living all along. And hopefully, as God keeps teaching me, the stuff that seems radical now will just seem normal in a few years. I have no idea what that will look like. But in case you're in that place of wanting to be radical but not really sure how to start, here are a couple things I've learned.

First, it starts with the small things. If we're not willing to be faithful in the little things of every day life, what makes us think we'll say yes when God asks for something more? If I won't be generous with my free time when I have so much of it, am I really going to be willing to sacrifice it later when it seems there is much less to spare? And if I don't trust him with all that he has given me so far, why would I trust him with more?

Second, in the end, it's really about the small things. Even the big decisions are really lived out in the day to day. For me, it's cooking more often than I ever have before, because one meal doesn't lead to as many leftovers as it used to. Sometimes it's stopping what I'm doing, or skipping what I want to do, to give someone a ride or pick someone up. It's the choice to be patient when I really want to be left alone, or the decision to stay engaged when I want to find a place to hide out for a while. It's doing the dishes again. Like with so many other things, the real impact is not in the one big decision, but the daily little ones.

the latest.

After wrestling for a couple weeks on what to say and how to say it, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

A few months ago, T and her 14-year-old daughter K moved in with me, because they needed a place to stay for a few months. For reasons I won’t go into, T is going to be unavailable for a while, so K will be living with me, along with her 17-year-old sister A. In addition to this, M and her young daughters A and B are living here, which makes for a wonderfully full house.

(Full of females, including the dogs, which gives some male members of my family a little bit of anxiety at the idea of coming over).

So this is where I find myself these days – making doctor and dentist appointments, planning meals on a regular basis for more than just myself, checking school grades and helping with homework, and learning what parents mean when they say they feel like they’re running a taxi service. And although I am not the girls’ mother, I’m still getting a crash course in parenting. I am certain that I am exactly where God wants me, even as I’m getting used to this new schedule and the myriad new responsibilities that come with it.

I started reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson today, and these words jumped out at me:

“I felt underqualified and overwhelmed, but that is when God has you right where He wants you. That is how you learn to live in raw dependence – and raw dependence is the raw material out of which God performs His greatest miracles.”

This is where I am – sure that I can’t do this job, but confident that He can. And anticipating that God will do miraculous things.

new recipes, part 6.

Recipes6

[Sources: 1 – Taste of Home, 2 – Stay-At-Home Artist,
3 – Our Best Bites, 4 – jujugoodnews.com]

Enchilada Stuffed Shells – These were okay, they just didn’t have a ton of flavor. Not bad, but just not one of those recipes I would absolutely keep to make again.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup – I love chicken noodle soup, and I love thick, creamy soups, which this definitely is. It was pretty easy to put together, even with the addition of the cream sauce. It made a lot, and it got rave reviews. It’s definitely something I’ll make again, especially as comfort food this winter (after I’m done hobbling around on crutches, that is).

Baked Sweet Potato Fries – Honestly, I kind of winged it on this one. I didn’t measure out anything, just peeled and cut the sweet potatoes, then dumped olive oil and the seasonings on them. I also skipped the coriander, because I didn’t have them. The result was definitely tasty, but I wasn’t careful about laying out each piece so they weren’t touching (I was in a hurry), so they weren’t very crispy. Still, they were good. And easy enough that I’ll make them again.

Orange Chicken Vegetable Stir-Fry – This recipe just really didn’t have much flavor! The orange flavor didn’t come through at all. It was edible, but there wasn’t much to it, really. I have another recipe for orange chicken (from here). It’s a less healthy, but much tastier and easier. Maybe I’ll try a hybrid someday.

what’s going on.

So here’s the weird thing about having a blog. It’s a great way for me to process the stuff that’s going on in my life and the things that God is teaching me, as well as share the projects that I’m working on. But it’s also a public forum, and since I never really know who is reading my tiny little corner of the Internet, there are some things that I just don’t feel comfortable sharing, at least not right away.

And then, when my time and mental energy and sometimes even money is consumed with this BIG THING I can’t talk about, I don’t always want to talk about anything else. Sometimes it’s easier to just be silent, then wrestle through what I want to and should say.

My reason for saying all of this is just to explain that there are some big things going on over here, that I can’t talk about. Maybe soon I can. Or maybe I’ll find the words to share some of these things without sharing the details I shouldn’t. I don’t know. In the meantime, if things are sparse around here, or maybe even just not very deep for a while, you’ll know why.

So, here is one thing that I can share. At the beginning of September, I dislocated my kneecap while playing kickball. Actually, let me clarify that – we were practicing kickball (my sisters, brother, and brother-in-law are all in a kickball league, and I signed up for the fall season, too). Before the first game, I was out of commission. This is, of course, after I signed up and paid my registration fee. My bright yellow jersey is hands-down the most expensive t-shirt I own.

So after a few weeks of just following my orthopedic PA sister Kelli’s advice, my knee just didn’t seem to be healing the way it should. I got better, but then things kind of stalled, so Kelli referred me to one of her coworkers. I started physical therapy and got an MRI, and a couple of days ago, I got the news that the reason my knee wasn’t healing, and probably the reason that it was so unstable that I dislocated my kneecap in the first place, is because I have a torn ACL.

This was a complete shock to me. Kelli, too – she may or may not have said a few swear words when she saw the MRI results. I’ll admit, it threw me for a loop. On one hand it’s good to have an answer. On the other hand, with everything else going on (the stuff I can’t talk about yet, Grandma’s death a few weeks ago, normal Christmas-is-coming chaos), in that moment, the weight of everything just felt like too much.

I’m handling it better now. Surgery is scheduled for December 19 (which means that I have even fewer days to finish my Christmas prep). I’m supposed to be on crutches for several weeks and unable to drive for a while. I’m taking off work for a week, and have the option of taking more time or partial days after I see how I feel. My boss has made it clear that we’ll work things out, however I need to. My sister has put in a request for a specific anesthesiologist (we get nervous about anesthesia around this family, and plus all medical questions fall under her area of expertise). My mom has already offered to do my laundry, and several friends have promised to help with meals or rides as I need them.

God is faithful. Sometimes I remember that well. Sometimes I need reminders. Sometimes it’s a truth that I hold on to with everything I have, because I know that when I forget it, I’m lost.

Thanks for letting me just unload a bit!

chicken fabric art.

This is my newest meaningful art project.

chicken fabric art (1)

It’s a little bit different, isn’t it? But as simple as this project is (just fabric stapled around a canvas), the story behind it is one of my favorites.

Buying fabric is Gabon is always an interesting experience. There is a ton of great, really fun and colorful stuff, but you also need to look closely at the pattern, just to make sure you notice if it has cell phones or dollar signs or pieces of fruit.

A few days before I left Gabon, several of our friends bought me a few going-away gifts, including a few yards of this fabric. I’ll admit, I was a little surprised at the chickens at first, but they explained they had chosen it so I would always remember my children at Hope House. They talked about the way I would come into the medical clinic, always with children that I loved as though they were mine.

I, of course, teared up.

Then Papi Joe, who is a bit of a class clown, said in his limited English, “Kristy is the mama chicken!”

Which made me laugh.

And this makes me remember my kids in Africa, and my friends who do a better job at loving people like Jesus than anyone else I know.

love does.

I’ve never met Bob Goff, but after following him on Twitter, reading his book Love Does, and watching some of the videos he posts on his blog, I think he’s probably one of those guys who is a lot of fun to be around – someone who just lives life all in, who isn’t afraid to be a little ridiculous and encourages you to do whatever you’re passionate about.

Love_Does1-195x300

If you’ve ever read anything by Donald Miller, the style of this book is somewhat similar. It reads a little bit like a memoir, with a series of stories from Bob’s life and the lessons he learned while living those stories. I highlighted lots of little nuggets as I got started, things that I thought were an interesting and insightful way of looking at something. It wasn’t until I got to the end, though, that I really understand that the whole book is about doing something, about being active not passive, about really being full engaged in life wherever that is. I finished it inspired. I think you will, too.

Here are a few of the parts I highlighted:

“The world can make you think that love can be picked up a garage sale or enveloped in a Hallmark card. But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright. What I learned from Randy about the brand of love Jesus offers is that it’s more about presence than undertaking a project. It’s a brand of love that doesn’t just think about good things, or agree with them, or talk about them. What I learned from Randy reinforced the simple truth that continues to weave itself into the tapestry of every great story: Love does.”

“I want to leak from having been hit by Jesus. From having something crazy happen to me, something that flipped my life upside down. I’ve met people like that, people who leak Jesus. Whenever you’re around them, Jesus keeps coming up with words and with actions. I don’t suppose everybody gets hit by Jesus, but those of us who have talk about Him differently. We start steering funny, we start leaking where we stand. And it’s because we got thrown from our lives in a terrific collision.”

“We’re God’s plan, and we always have been. We aren’t just supposed to be observers, listeners, or have a bunch of opinions. We’re not here to let everyone know what we agree and don’t agree with, because, frankly, who cares? Tell me about the God you love; tell me about what you’re going to do about it, and a plan for your life will be pretty easy to figure out from there. I guess what I’m saying is that most of us don’t get an audible plan for our lives. It’s way better than that. We get to be God’s plan for the whole world by pointing people toward Him.”

a tough week.

Friends, it’s been a tough week.

I’ve traveled a lot lately – all good trips, but I’ve learned that one thing that is guaranteed to stress me out is not having enough time to just be at home, no matter how much I enjoy the thing that takes me away from home.

Last week I had to give notice to one of my house guests. It was the right decision, I know that, because sometimes you just can’t really help people, no matter how much you want to. Still, if I’m being honest, I’m more than a little frustrated that it came to this. I wish it was otherwise. Sometimes it feels like a failure on my part, even though I really don’t think there was anything I could have/should have done differently. There are tons of lessons to be learned here, and maybe one day I’ll share them.

Also last week, on Monday, my beautiful grandmother passed away. She was 96 years old. We had her for a long time and now she’s home and whole with Jesus, and I think probably dancing with my grandfather. I’ve been trying for the last few days to write about her, and maybe someday soon I can, but for now the words aren’t quite coming together in my head.

This past week, even the past month, has taken a lot out of me, and I’m tired. More than that, I’m weary.

I’m down in Virginia Beach this week for training. At first, I wasn’t looking forward to yet another trip, but I think I’ve changed my tune. I’m staying in a hotel, which means I’m getting some much needed alone time. It feels a little luxurious, honestly, to have all of this space to myself, but I’m soaking it up. My suite has a small kitchen, so tonight for dinner I made fajitas (one of my favorite meals) and cream cheese and salsa dip (also something I love, but I don’t make it that often because I love it a little too much, if you know what I mean). I’m eating Cookie Crisp for dessert. I’m watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix and HGTV and it’s wonderful. Tonight I’ll sleep right in the middle of the king size bed all by myself and I won’t have to push a dog out of way to get more space. Tomorrow morning I’ll leave for training for the day and come back and someone else will have cleaned the room.

When I told my mom and sister about the hotel, about looking forward to the break and hours to just do nothing, they predicted I’d be bored. Maybe in a few days I will be, but I doubt it. Right now, I don’t think I ever want to leave.

dining room curtains.

What do you get when you add two Target shower curtains and a single curtain panel?

Personal2

[Photo source: Ebay (left), Target (right)]

Plus some iron-on hem tape and hot glue (also know as the two of the greatest tools of non-sewers)?

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My new dining room curtains!

Some day I really would like to learn to sew, but for now, hem tape and my hot glue gun work wonders!

100_2809

finishing what i start.

I love thinking about new projects. I like to browse blogs and Pinterest and magazines, noting ideas that I want to try in my own home. I enjoy figuring out how to actually accomplish it – making plans and buying materials.

What I actually seem to have trouble with is actually finishing those projects. There are already a bunch of things that I’ve started and haven’t finished, or projects where I have the supplies and just need to get going. Just a few days ago I thought of a couple new projects, and had to stop myself from going out to buy the supplies for them.

So, this is my public decoration of a few items that are in the works. I’m hoping that putting them out here will give me accountability to get these things finished before doing anything new. That means you should see posts about some of these things before something that isn’t on this list.

  • Make duvet for master bedroom
  • Create a gallery wall in the dining room
  • Create a memo board to hang over my desk
  • Create chicken fabric art (there’s a really cool story about this one)
  • Make a shutter memo board
  • Convert upstairs tub into a shower
  • Make dining room curtains
  • plus a few other Christmas gifts I can’t talk about here

new recipes, part 5.

Recipes5

[Sources: 1 - Our Best Bites, 2 - Inspired by Charm, 3 - My Blessed Life, 4 - Inspired by Charm]

Baked Pasta and Broccoli with Ham and Cheesy-Creamy Cauliflower Sauce – This was good, and I love that it was full of healthy things like broccoli and cauliflower. Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that just really doesn’t have a lot of flavor to me, so I really like the idea of using it in a puree. That said, it didn’t take quite some time and made a huge mess of my kitchen, so I think this is one of those recipes that I’ll save for special occasions.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies – I love to eat cookies, but I have to be in the right mood to want to actually bake cookies. I pinned a couple of recipes recently that have inspired me, including this one and the one below. These were really good! Plain oatmeal cookies are a little bland for me, but I love the added combination of dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Parmesan Potato Wedges – Easy and tasty. I pretty much eye-balled everything, and I cut the potatoes in chunks instead of wedges. Still, it’s an easy side dish, and definitely something I would make in the future. As a bonus, this is one of the few new recipes I’ve tried that I think my dad would like, and maybe even my brother, too.

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies – Oh my word. These were seriously amazing. Not super easy, very messy, but oh so worth it – I got a ton of compliments! If you decide to make them, here are a couple things you should know. First, these really spread out – so much so that I ended up with some oddly-shaped, smushed-together cookies. I’m actually thinking next time I might try smaller cookies and cut the caramels in half. Second, the parchment paper is really helpful. I did it both with and without, and it was definitely easier with.

compassion, justice, and the christian life.

This is book 3 of the 5 non-fiction books I wanted to read this year. I think this year I just might actually complete this goal.

compassion justice and the christian life cover

I actually read Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life by Robert Lupton because a friend loaned it to me. You know how when someone loans you a book you feel like you have to read it, because they’re going to ask you how you liked it? I was surprised, though, because once I got started with this, I really enjoyed it. I thought about the way I help the poor, right and wrong, about what kind of things lead to long-term change and what hinder it. I also had to face some real truths about the way I interact with those I’m helping:

“There is blessedness in this kind of giving, to be sure. But there is also power in it – which can be dangerous. Giving allows me to retain control. Retaining the helping position protects me from the humiliation of appearing to need help. And even more sobering, I condemn those who I would help to the permanent, prideless role of recipient. When my motivation is to change people, I inadvertently communicate: Something is wrong with you, but (quite subtly) I am okay. If our relationship is defined as healer/patient, then I must remain well and they must remain sick in order for our interaction to continue.”

Over the last few years, and the last few months especially, I’ve become more and more convinced that social justice is absolutely essential to sharing the gospel. How can we tell someone that we care about their soul, but ignore the fact that they don’t have enough food or a roof over their heads? Evangelism and acts of compassion and fighting for justice are not separate things. Jesus came to mend and redeem our relationship with God, but he also healed the sick, wept with the hurting, and befriended the lonely – not a sidebar to his ministry, but it is by these things that people see God.

“The problem, of course, is that it leads toward viewing others as souls instead of people. And when we opt for rescuing souls over loving neighbors, compassionate acts can soon degenerate into evangelism techniques; pressing human needs depreciate in importance, and the spirit becomes the only thing worth caring about. Thus, the powerful leaven of unconditional, sacrificial love is diminished in society and the wounded are left lying beside the road. When we skip over the Great Commandment on the way to fulfilling the Great Commission, we do great harm to the authenticity of the faith.”

This book was an extremely quick read for me, and if you’re at all interested in learning how to really care for the poor, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

house guests.

When I was house-hunting last November, I was looking for a few specific things. I wanted something small, with maybe two or three bedrooms (even if I could have afforded a big place, I didn’t want to clean it or pay to heat it). I wanted a yard for the dogs. I wanted it to be within walking distance of downtown Frederick, though after looking at a few row houses, I decided I really didn’t like the narrow footprint (especially the yards). And most important, I wanted a place that needed a little bit of work, that I could fix up and make my own.

I looked at quite a few houses. Many of them had most of my requirements, but only one had everything I wanted. And, as an added blessing, it came with five bedrooms, even though it was still small. I love living here. Still, I knew from the start that God did not provide everything I wanted in a house, plus a bunch of extra bedrooms, for just me and Dakota and Harvey.

So, over the last few months as I’ve slowly fixed this place up and settled into life here in Frederick, I’ve prayed that God would show me who would fill these bedrooms. He has been answering that prayer over the last couple months – T and her daughter K moved into the upstairs bedrooms in July, and sometime in the next week, M and her daughters A & B are moving into the second downstairs bedroom. Both families needed a place to stay for a little while.

I want to be very careful not to share the details of their stories, because they are not my stories to share. At the same time, I’m learning quite a bit about living with others, the best way to help people who find themselves in difficult situations, and also ways that really don’t help. It’s been a fantastic learning experience, to be sure, and in case there are topics that I think are appropriate to post here, I wanted to lay the foundation.

God is doing great things! I told a few friends recently that I felt like I was right in the middle of white water rapids. It’s a thrilling ride and the view is changing rapidly (even from day to day), but I trust my guide.

too many clothes.

When I read 7 last month (my review here), there were quite a few areas where I was convicted, but my clothes really weren’t one of them. I’m just not one of those girls that gets really excited about clothes. I like to look nice, but I don’t want to put a lot of effort into it (and the latter usually wins out). I have to be in just the right mood to enjoy shopping for clothes. Generally, I would sooner put time and money into decorating my house than decorating me.

So when Jen Hatmaker wrote about counting the number of clothes she owned, just to see what she was starting with, I had no plans to do the same. Here is what changed my mind:

  • I’ve been watching the weekly videos for an online book club that is studying 7, and was reminded that I can say I don’t care about clothes, but if I have an excessive number of them, something is off.
  • I’m tired of trying to cram everything into my closet and dressers. It’s just ridiculous.
  • Since maneuvering up and down the stairs with a laundry basket would have been difficult until very recently with this knee injury, my mom has offered to help me out with laundry. (And before you laugh because my mother is doing my laundry, let me just say that I really do think laundry is her love language. This is a woman who offers to do mine even when I’m not limping around). I’ve realized, I really do tend to wear a small percentage of my clothes, day after day.
  • Since I work from home, my day to day wardrobe is really casual. Sometimes I wear my pajamas all day and just wait to shower and get dressed until I’m ready to leave the house after work. Some days I get dressed earlier, but just to change into a clean pair of paint-stained sweatpants (especially if I know I’m going to be doing anything messy around the house). Buying new work clothes means yoga pants, and if I’m dressing up, jeans. I just don’t need to have a full business casual wardrobe any longer.

So, I counted my clothes. It took about 15 minutes to go through everything - the closet, the dresser, the nightstand, the laundry basket, the box in the closet of cold-weather sweaters. I grouped everything into categories, largely because I suspected there were a few specific areas that were out of control and I wanted to identify those. Here is what I discovered:

  • I have 299 items of clothing, including everything (underwear, socks, shoes, coats). A pair of shoes or a pair of socks count as one item.
  • I have 21 pairs of shoes, not including 5 pairs of flip flops. Ridiculous considering that I spent all summer wearing either sneakers or one of three pairs of flip-flops. Most of the others are items that have sat untouched in a box since I packed them away before I left for Africa, over a year ago.
  • I have 50 pairs of socks. 49! That means I could skip sock laundry for over a month and still have plenty to wear.
  • Sometime last year, I tried to cut down to 5 t-shirts. Now I have 17. I’m not entirely sure how that happened.
  • I have 30 tank tops or camis. A few are paint clothes. Several are just falling apart – so why are they still in my dresser?

Over the next few days and weeks, I’m going to work on paring down this excess. Some of it will probably be easy. Some will be more difficult, trying to balance out of season items and the occasional need for work clothes when I have to be in Virginia Beach. Still, it’s something that I’m determined to get under control – so here’s my public confession to make sure I do.

africa sand art.

This sand art was one of the few souvenirs I brought back from Africa for myself. I thought about displaying it in the dining room, with the other gallery items I’m slowly creating, but I decided instead I wanted to use it as a main focal piece in my bedroom. It’s a special reminder to me, so I wanted it in a place I would see it every day.

And because it’s special, I wanted to do something different than just frame it. So, I had the guys at Home Depot (thank goodness they cut wood for you!) cut a 2-foot by 2-foot project panel to be just a couple inches larger the canvas on each side. I stained it and attached it with hot glue. With the slightly fraying edges on display, it’s a little less polished – which kind of fits Africa and how I feel about it, too.

africa sand art

I hung it using velcro hanging strips, but it wasn’t long before it fell right off the wall. So for now, it’s propped against the wall, until I can figure out the best way to display it. I’m thinking, maybe something like this?

wooden doormat.

This is what the front of my house looked like at the inspection (from the house tour):

My brother-in-law Vince ripped the awnings down the same day I moved in, and they made a huge difference! The house looked a lot less dated, and the inside was so much lighter.

Both the front and back porch had red outdoor carpet – I ripped that off several months ago, along with the rest of the nasty carpet in the house. Outdoor carpet is a little weird to me anyway, but with two dogs that shed, it’s just not a good choice.

I haven’t done much else outside. I have some plans and ideas, but I’ve been focusing on the inside (and the first floor) first. Eventually, I’d like to pull out the existing bushes, add new landscaping, stain the concrete, repaint the rest of the porch, and replace or reconfigure the existing trellises. In the back I’d love to add a large patio and a raised garden bed or two.

I did complete one small project for outside, though. I’ve had this wooden doormat on my “things to make” list for a long time now.

wooden doormat

Please excuse the poor picture – it was difficult to get a clear one between the sun and the trellis. To make this, I used inexpensive pine 1x2s (4 at $4.13 each). The tutorial called for 2x2s, but that seemed a bit thick to me. Each piece was cut to around 22 inches long (I picked a length that looked right, then cut the other pieces to match). I used a small can of semi-transparent exterior stain ($3.68) to stain each piece, then knotted the slats together using 1/4-inch sisal rope ($5.58). The entire thing cost just over $25, with some supplies left over for other projects.

It’s was a simple project, but I’m glad to finally be getting something homemade out here. If only the rest of the porch didn’t look quite so ugly…someday!

etsy art love.

The biggest pain in having a dislocated kneecap, besides the limping around, is that I actually have all this motivation to get projects around the house, just not the balance to actually do them. It’s so frustrating not to be able to work on the things I want to! I actually made a list called “Things To Do While I’m An Invalid.”

So while I work, very slowly, on a few small things I can get done without buying more supplies or carrying anything that requires two hands, I thought I would share a few things on Etsy that have caught my attention lately. Some of these are items I might actually buy, and some have a steep enough price tag that I’ll just enjoy them from the laptop screen.

This one is actually my favorite of the bunch, both because I seem to have a thing for maps lately, and because I love the sentiment. I would love to have this hanging somewhere in my home!


As a kid, one of my favorite carnival rides was always the swings. I loved feeling like I was soaring and seeing the aerial view of the whole park.

This one – well, I don’t know if I can even explain why I like it. I just do. And sometimes cards are a great way to get smaller versions of really fun prints.

I lived in the Chicago suburbs for two years just after college, and have lots of fond memories of the city – working in the city, my first real apartment, being on my own for the first time. Chicago is such fun city.

This one is out of my budget, but I still think it’s beautiful! We grew up spending nearly our entire summer in the pool, especially after my parents installed one the summer my brother was born. This painting reminds me of that.

I’m hoping to build an art gallery over time on the upper walls of my dining room – not necessarily expensive art, but things that have personal meaning for me. Any of these would be great addition.

What do you think? Found any fun (and inexpensive) art lately?

bedroom paneled wall.

So work on my bedroom has kind of stalled, thanks to a dislocated kneecap during kickball practice last week. Thankfully, I had finished this project earlier that same day (and thanks to my brother, who pulled off the rest of the painters tape for me!). So while I (not so) patiently recuperate and try to think of projects I can complete that don’t require going downstairs or a lot of mobility, I’ll enjoy the freshly painted room and fun paneled wall I created.

Keep in mind that even though the main painting, there is still quite a bit of work to do. At the moment, I still have furniture floating in the room, all of the trim needs to be painted, and the light switch and outlet covers haven’t even been replaced. Good thing I’m comfortable with living in the midst of projects!

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To make this wall, I basically followed tutorials from Take the Side Street and Miss Mustard Seed. Like them, I used 1/8-inch thick 4x8 sheets of hardboard from Home Depot. The store cut the boards into 6-inch strips for me, small enough that I could (mostly) cut them with my miter saw. I needed 3 sheets, and each one costs less than $10, so the entire wall cost less than $30, plus the cost of primer and paint (both of which I already had). I did need to use a jig saw and circular saw for a few of the pieces, but all in all, it went up pretty quickly.

I painted a first coat around the whole room, primed the boards, installed everything, then painted a final coat around the entire room. I’m so happy with the character it adds to this basic room!

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sovereign over us.

This is the song that’s been playing on repeat around here lately.

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever, perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good, and for your glory
Even in the valley you are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good, and for your glory

art doors.

This was one of those ideas that I knew I was going to copy the second I saw it.

I’ve got this great Expedit bookcase that I’ve moved into three different houses. It’s great for storage and display and holds a lot. I use baskets along the bottom row of cubbies for newspapers, old journals, electronic cords and chargers, and stuff for the dogs. What I still needed, though, was a place to store laptops. It sounds funny, but I have several, including my personal laptop and two work laptops, and I need a home for them when they’re not in use. The bookcase is a great place, but I want to keep them out of sight. Also, a laptop doesn’t take up much room, and I wanted to use the space well.

So, I added a couple of shelves to two of the cubbies to increase the storage space. I just used a small sheet of MDF, cut partly to size by Home Depot and partly by my jig saw. I primed and painted them (oil-rubbed bronze spray paint is actually a pretty close match for the existing color).

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Then (and this is the really fun part), I added cup hooks to the bookcase and the bubble art canvases Jacob made, and made little doors for my new shelves.

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I am so happy with the way it turned out! They add a fun personalized touch and storage to the bookcase. They’re really easy to slip on or off as I need to, and it’s a great way to store some of the extra computer equipment I’ve got laying around here (and the wires from the stereo on top the bookcase).

new recipes, part 4.

Recipes4
[Sources: 1 – Our Best Bites, 2 – Our Best Bites, 3 – Oh She Glows, 4 – Urban Nester]
White Chicken Chili – This was really, really good, and I’ll definitely be making it again. I used pre-cooked chicken, which made the whole thing come together really quickly.

Berry Vinaigrette – I don’t think I’ve ever tried a recipe from Our Best Bites that I haven’t really liked, and this was no exception. It’s quite different from the type of dressing that I normally use. It makes quite a bit, so I wouldn’t make it just for myself. I used raspberries and left out the poppy seeds (just because I thought I had them on hand but didn’t).

Stuffed Patty Pan Squash – I’ve gotten several large patty pan squash from my CSA and wanted to try stuffing them. I used this recipe to understand how to prepare the squash for stuffing, but used my own recipe for what I put inside (ground turkey, red onion, garlic, zucchini, brown rice, tomatoes). The filling was good (it usually is), but there was something about the squash. I like yellow squash (usually with other flavors) and I love zucchini, but I just wasn’t a fan of the patty pan squash.

Baked Oatmeal with Strawberries, Bananas, and Chocolate Chips – I have a basic baked oatmeal recipe that I like, but I thought it might be fun to try a version with fruit and chocolate chips. In this case I used strawberries and left out the walnuts. I also used a larger pan (who has a 10 1/2 x 7-inch pan?) and didn’t really measure out the chocolate chips. Next time I’ll use less chocolate chips and more strawberries, because although it was good, it was definitely more of a dessert than a breakfast.

Eggplant Parmesan – I was a little nervous about this one, because the only time I’ve tried to cook with eggplant before, I didn’t really enjoy it. I was never quite sure if it was the eggplant or just the recipe. But I had a huge eggplant that I had to either use or let go bad, and I figured that when you fry something, it’s usually good. I liked it. Next time I think I might try a baked-but-breaded version.

Homemade Applesauce – My mom has been making homemade applesauce for as long as I can remember. In fact, I’m so spoiled by it that I really don’t eat store-bought applesauce at all. She makes a ton of it in the summer, then freezes it and we eat it the rest of the year. This year I got to help her. The process itself is pretty simple, if time-consuming. I’ll definitely make it again, though I think a big part of the enjoyment was doing it with my mother.

bubble art.

Jake and I planned another craft day today.

This bubble art idea topped Jacob’s list of things to try, so we gave it a shot. I bought a large bottle of bubbles and some food coloring (which was surprisingly hard to find), and we mixed up individual cups of different colors – red, green, yellow, blue, purple, and orange. Jake made some smaller 12x12 canvases (I’ll post later on what I did with them), and K made a larger one for her room.

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If you’re interested in trying something similar, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You need to get the mix of bubbles to food coloring right. Too much food coloring and it’s difficult to blow bubbles. Not enough and the colors don’t show up well.
  • This is an extremely messy project – there’s a lot of splatter. Expect to get food coloring on your skin and clothes, and definitely do it outside.
  • On the other hand, wind obviously makes this a bit more complicated.

it’s all broken.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a new foster mom. She told me that she knew the kids placed in her care would come from tough places, that it might be tough to work with them and with their biological parents. She expected that, but what she didn’t expect is that it would sometimes be tough to work with others, like the social workers.

I expected something similar, I think, when I started volunteering as a CASA. Even though I had heard the stories, even though I thought I understood the reality, I was still a little surprised. I shouldn’t have been. There are lots of wonderful social workers, yes, but there are also plenty who are burned out or just incompetent. Even the good ones can be easily overworked and overwhelmed by a system that has to care for far too many children.

Like the foster mom I spoke to, this is often the most frustrating part of it for me. But after doing this for a little while now, there is one conclusion I’ve come to, that kind of helps it all make sense: it’s all broken.

It’s not just the kids that are broken, or their drug-addicted parents. It’s not even just the foster care system. It’s all of it, and all of us, because we were born into a broken world.

Sometimes my sense of justice, even my understanding of logic, wants to scream out, “This is not the way it’s supposed to be!” And this is true. But it isn’t because in a perfect world, a social worker would always return phone calls and never make ill-advised decisions. It’s because in a perfect world, there would be no need for social workers, for CASAs, or for foster parents. In a perfect world, parents would love and be able to meet the needs of their children. They wouldn’t be fighting substance abuse and poverty and their own neglected upbringing.

I absolutely believe in God’s redemption. I know, and have seen, how He truly gives beauty for ashes and gladness for mourning. But somehow, it also helped when I realized that very little in this work makes sense because it was plan B to start with.

art to make with kids.

Jake and I have worked on a few projects together.

We made crayon art.
We made abstract art.
We even worked on a family rules project for Katie’s Mother’s Day gift.

We’ve been talking about doing another craft day and maybe even working on some Christmas gifts together. I can’t talk about our Christmas gift ideas yet, but here are some of the other things we’ve been thinking about trying.

I love this Bubble Art from Life as a Thrifter, and this is the one Jake is the most excited about. It’s pretty simple – just add food coloring to bubbles and blow it at a white canvas. I’ve had some trouble finding liquid food coloring, so we might need to wait until Easter (and egg dye) to try this one.

bubble art

[Source via Pinterest]

As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of anything with words, so this simple project is right up my alley and I think it would be great to do with Jake. You just use an old painting (or create your own with paint or even magazine clippings, add vinyl stickers on top with a word or phrase, paint over top it, then remove the stickers to reveal the colors underneath.

song lyric wall art

[Source via Pinterest]

We’re thinking about doing something like this Messy String Art from Polish the Stars, but using a single initial and without the extra pieces of string. He might need a little help with the nails, but stringing it would be pretty straightforward. I’ve also seen something like this using the outline of a state or country (like this one).

messy string art 1

[Source via Pinterest]

Jake is also really excited about making a drip painting, like this example from Take the Side Street. It’s pretty simple – paint, a water bottle, and no real rules about what is “right.”

drip painting

[Source via Pinterest]

We’re still trying to figure out which project we’ll start with, and when. But I love getting the chance to experiment and be creative (and sometimes, teach him how to use power tools).

And next time, we’re thinking about inviting more people to our craft days.

bedroom ideas.

After finishing the board and batten wall treatment in the dining room, I dived right into working on the master bedroom. Usually I like to break up the big projects with smaller ones, but this time I was motivated. I wanted to take advantage of that, so I pulled all the furniture in to the middle of the room and started taping. It's still in process (everything around here takes forever), so while I work on it, I thought I'd share some of my ideas for the room.

I love the look of wood planked walls, so I'm experimenting a little with something that looks kind of like this:


I'm also planning to build my own headboard. I'm thinking about something kind of like this, using these plans:


I want to include some kind of phrase on it, something like this:


I'll also need to repaint my nightstand, because I don't think the existing color will work with the new wall color. My old dresser could use a new coat of paint, as well, since it's gotten a little beaten up with all the moves in the last year. The closet has sliding doors, which I hate, so I'm thinking about creative ways to replace those.

Overall, the bedroom isn't tiny (especially compared to the bedrooms upstairs), but it isn't very big, either. One wall has a door in from the hallway and the closet, two walls have single windows, and one wall is empty (though this is the wall the door opens against, so that limits the amount of usable space). I don't want to place my bed against a window, because the headboard I want to make will block part of it, and because the scale of the 3-foot window would look odd against my queen-size bed. This leaves the blank wall for the bed. After leaving room for the door to open, it would be difficult to fit the bed and two nightstands along the wall, so I'm thinking about placing a small shelf and maybe a wall basket on the other side of the bed. Neither of these photos are really my style at all, but you get the idea.

[Source (both) via Pinterest (left and right)]

So, lots of plans for this room! Right now I've got the first coat of paint on the wall, and the planked wall is in process. Hopefully I've have a reveal photo (at least of the wall) soon.

my dealer.

Because some conversations are just too funny not to record.

The other day I had dinner with my parents, and I brought corn from my CSA. This is the conversation I had with my dad.

Dad: Is that from your dealer?
Me: Yes, Dad. It's the same place I get my pot.

dining room closet.

This is one of those projects that should have been finished a long, long time ago. In fact, it's been mostly done for a while now, but I haven't written about it because it didn't look pretty and organized yet.

Well, there is enough going on around here, in my house and in my life, that making a closet pretty and organized just isn't at the top of the list. So, here, finally, are pictures.

One area where there really isn't enough storage in this house, is in the kitchen. There's enough room for the basics, but extra things like serving bowls and display items don't really fit. And since there are already two coat closets in the hallway, I decided to turn the coat closet in the dining room into something that works a bit better for my house.


I removed the bi-fold door and the hanging rod and added shelves (made of 3/4-inch MDF, cut to size at Home Depot). I used a simple piece of trim for the front of the shelves, just to finish it off a little.

Someday I might organize it a little more and maybe add a curtain rod to keep it hidden most of the time. And eventually, I'll continue the dining room wall color up the stairs, but I don't want to think about painting that for a while.

7.

I'm kind of on a roll with the book thing. Normally, I really need some kind of external motivation to finish a non-fiction book (like a small group), but I've been reading a lot lately. It helps that I really like Jen Hatmaker's writing style - its sometimes serious, sometimes silly, sometimes irreverent, and sometimes just really in-process, which is something I can really appreciate in another person. It also helps that since T and K moved in, I've been going to bed at a more normal hour.

And let's be honest - it also helps that it's the summer and there isn't a ton of good stuff to watch on Hulu at the moment.


Anyway, I actually downloaded 7 before Interrupted (my review is here) but thought it would be better to read them in the order they were written. And once I finished the first one, I flew through the second. 7 is the story of an experiment to make 7 simple changes in 7 different areas of excess (including things like media, possessions, and shopping) for one month each and record the results. It's written almost like a blog, with entries labeled by day. It was funny and challenging at the same time. It was also not a little bit convicting, given my frustration with significantly reducing spending last month, though some of the words in the conclusion brought me a lot of peace (see the final quote below).

I highlighted far too many things to list them all, so here's a sample:

"As I reduce, He is enough. As I simplify, He is enough. He is my portion where food and clothes and comfort fall woefully short. He can heal me from greed and excess, materialism and pride, selfishness and envy. While my earthly treasures and creature comforts will fail me, Jesus is more than enough. In my privileged world where 'need' and 'want' have become indistinguishable, my only true requirement is the sweet presence of Jesus."

"I won't defile my blessings by imagining that I deserve them. Until every human receives the dignity I casually enjoy, I pray my heart aches with tension and my belly rumbles for injustice."

"When the jars of clay remember they are jars of clay, the treasure within gets all the glory, which seems somehow more fitting."

"What if we are actually called to a radical life? What if Jesus knew our Christian culture would design a lovely life template complete with all the privileges and exemptions we want, but even with that widespread approval, He still expected radical simplicity, radical generosity, radical obedience from those with ears to hear, eyes to see?"

"The church the Bible described is exciting and adventurous and wrought with sacrifice. It cost the believers everything, and they still came. It was good news to the poor and stumped its enemies. The church was patterned after a Savior who had no place to lay his head and voluntarily died a brutal death, even knowing we would reduce the gospel to a self-serving personal improvement program where people were encouraged to make a truce with their Maker and stop sinning and join the church, when in fact the gospel does not call for a truce but a complete surrender."

"Self-deprecation is a cruel response to Jesus, who died and made us righteous. Guilt is not Jesus' medium. He is battling for global redemption right now; His objective hardly includes huddling in the corner with us, rehashing our shame again. He finished that discussion on the cross. Plus, there's no time for that. We're so conditioned to being a problem that we've forgotten we're actually the answer. God is not angry at you; how could He possibly be? You are His daughter, His son; you're on the team."

dining room board and batten.

This room has taken forever to complete. My poor dining room has looked like a construction zone for months now. I'd like to say this is the biggest project I've ever tackled, and while it might come close, the truth is that it just involved a lot of painting. I don't mind painting itself, and I love the difference it makes, but it's the prep work and the clean-up that makes me put it off. Finally, though, I got my butt in gear and got this at least finished.


I've been wanting to play around with adding some kind of architectural treatment to walls for a while, and I love this look:


There are a million ways to do this, and of course, this just mimics the look of true board and batten, but I am so happy with the way it turned out. The entire thing is made out of a single 4x8 piece of 1/2-inch MDF (less than $30). I had Home Depot rip it in widths  I needed, then I cut the lengths individually at home. The only other costs were for liquid nails, caulk, and paint.


The MDF and lower half of the walls are all painted with the same paint I'm using for all of the trim in the house, and the top color matches the living room (and the hallway, once I get that painted). I have shower curtains that I'm going to convert into window treatments. I want to create a gallery to fill the walls - I'll add to that over time. And at some point, the light fixture will need to change, but I'm still waiting on finding the right option for that.


In the meantime, I can't wait to entertain in this new space! Who wants to come over for dinner?

fruit and veggie inventory.

Have I mentioned that I love my CSA? I do. It's a great deal, the variety of stuff is amazing, and it lasts all season. And, bonus, Michael and Michelle are just really fun and personable. This is definitely something I'll be signing up for next year.

But, one of the challenges of a CSA is making sure that I use up all the fresh produce every week before it goes bad. There's lots of fresh stuff around the house, which is fantastic, but if I'm not careful and don't plan ahead, I'll find myself throwing away a cucumber, for example, that has gotten a little...fuzzy. And with T and K living here, the refrigerator is full enough that there isn't I can't necessarily see everything in one glance, like I could before.

(Did I mention that I have new roommates? T and her daughter K are staying with me for a few minutes. Among other things, this means a lot more stuff in the refrigerator.)

As OCD/anal-retentive as it sounds, I had this idea that if we kept some kind of list/inventory on the front of the refrigerator, it would be easier to plan food, knowing what we had on hand and what needed to be used up. I could have bought a dry-erase board, but this solution was cheaper (and cuter, too).


I've seen lots of projects using the glass in picture frames with dry-erase markers, so I picked up a multi-color pack of mini markers ($3.50) and a simple 8x10 frame ($4). I filled it with a piece of scrapbook paper that I had on hand and added magnet strips (that I also had on hand) to the back of the frame so it would stick to the refrigerator. I was going to just do a simple list, but K wanted to make it color-coded and pretty.

We'll see how well the fruit and veggie inventory list works, but I think this could also be used for a grocery list, instructions for dog sitters - lots of other things.

By the way, this is just the stuff that's either in the bottom part of the refrigerator or in the fruit bowl on the counter. It doesn't include things in the freezer or canned goods in the pantry. See how healthy we are?

no spend july - recap.

Ugh.

So this no-spend month was actually going rather well. I found it a little annoying having to be so careful at the grocery store and second-guessing meals with friends. I realized how many times I grabbed fast food just because it was convenient. I didn't miss buying clothes, browsing thrift stores, or even buying supplies for a new project (there is certainly enough already here to keep me busy). I only had Starbucks once this month, and didn't even really miss it.

However.

However, by week three, I was just annoyed. T and K moved in with me, and there were a few things that I had to buy (like a baby gate to keep the dogs downstairs). I wanted to plan a meal out with a friend without thinking about the cost. I wanted to make a bunch of mini loaves of zucchini bread for my neighbors, or muffins for my sisters/brother/brother-in-law's kickball team, without thinking about the cost. So I just kind of...stopped thinking about it.

And yes, I know that there are many people who aren't so blessed. There are many people who don't have extra, who have to count these costs, and more people who don't even have enough. In light of that, this started to just feel like a silly little experiment, with no real value.

So, sometime in week three, I just stopped playing along. Partly for these reasons, but mostly because I was tired of it. Not a good reason, but there it is.

In end, though, there are a few things that I hope I've learned from this month:

  • There is a difference between enjoying a meal out with friends or family, and just running by Chipotle because I didn't plan ahead, or because I didn't feel like cooking. If I really don't feel like cooking, there are plenty of quick, at-home options.
  • Shopping is not a healthy hobby - at least not when you do it often. (Side note: I really can't figure out how I used to find time for just wandering around a store. Maybe this month has just been unnaturally busy, but really, where did my free time go?)
  • Errands are dumb. Really, I used to actually enjoy running to this store then that one, because it was a quick, fairly mindless way to check things off my to-do list. Now whenever I add another errand to my list, I'm annoyed.

at the risk of looking ridiculous.

A few times now, my sisters and I have taken a kickboxing class at the local rec center.

There is one thing you need to know about me and kickboxing. When it comes to anything involving any sort of rhythm, I'm pretty uncoordinated. So are my sisters, something they'll willingly admit, as well. This means that we carefully avoid looking at each other so we don't get off track (and that we get off track anyway). It also means that I am often counting out the steps under my breath (left-right-kick-hold, left-right-kick-hold).

But finally, after the third class, sometimes I'm comfortable enough with the pattern that my mind wanders a bit. This is what happened last week, when I heard a song that took me back 20 (!) years to high school. I thought about how afraid I was then (and later) to look the least bit silly. I thought about how I avoided doing anything I wasn't sure I could do well, how I so rarely took a risk. I thought about how I would never have done anything like this (kickboxing) in front of other people. I wonder about how much that girl missed out on - how many experiences, how many relationships, how many opportunities to see God move.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and have a chat with that Kristy. I wish I could tell her that you only need to really be worried about the opinions of the people that matter to you, and sometimes not even then. That learning to laugh at yourself is an important life skill. And that stepping off a cliff, while scary, can also be exhilarating, because that's when you see God move in extraordinary ways.

interrupted.

I'm so bad at finishing non-fiction books - I really am. I have great intentions, but I usually get bogged down at some point in the process. But, I finally finished the first on my list for the year, and let me tell you, it really messed with me. It challenged me and is still making me think. I've been telling everyone I know to read it, partly because I want someone else to discuss it with me, and partly because it is just that good.


Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker is the story of  a radical shift in the way we view life with Christ. It's about learning to do life the way that Jesus did, in relationship, seeking out the least of these. It's radical, but at the same time, it's really not.

Here are just a few of the items I highlighted:

"Why is it so exhausting to uphold someone's heavy, inconvenient burden? Why are we spent from shouldering someone's grief or being an armor bearer? Why is it that lifting someone out of his or her rubble leaves us breathless? Because we are the body of Christ, broken and poured out, just as He was. Mercy has a cost: Someone must be broken for someone else to be fed."

"We don't get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We're not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can't without social relief because we're not convinced it will be perfectly managed. Must we be wise? Absolutely. But doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission. Turning a blind eye to the bottom on the grounds of "unworthiness" is the antithesis to Jesus' entire mission."

"Of course we loved the poor, Jesus. You told us to. Of course we opened our homes and invited the lonely in. That was clear in the Word. Of course we clothed naked children and fed starving people. They are human beings made in your image. We took care of the least in obedience to You, Jesus, but we never had the privilege of actually serving You. We did all that for you. But Jesus will say, No, you did that unto Me."

"In Breaking the Missional Code, Ed Stetzer and David Putman wrote, 'The church is one of the few organizations in the world that does not exist for the benefit of its members. The church exists because God, in his infinite wisdom and infinite mercy, chose the church as his instrument to make known his manifold wisdom in the world.'"

"If we've been in church for years yet aren't full, are we really hungry for more knowledge? In our busy lives, do we really need another program or event? Do we really need to be fed more of the Word, or are we simply undernourished from an absence of living the Word?" (from Brandon Hatmaker)