Book Review, Tables in the Wilderness

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I've read two books in 2015. 
(SiDE NOTe: I'm almost done a re-read of Walking on Water-- because it just needs to be read every.single.year. and am half way through this book, which the author calls a "commitment"... a rather apt description.)

The Bible Tells Me So, by Pete Enns. 
I thought about doing a book review for that one because I doubt I will read a better book all year.
(Which kind of sucks because I read it completely on January 5th... which leaves me 360 days of knowing I already read the book to "beat" for 2015.)  I chose not to because...well, just read it, okay?  It will be a hard pill to swallow for many.  I almost choked like every other page.  But it is honest and difficult and challenging in the best ways.  Peter Enns jumped to the top of my Theologians I'd Love to Have a Beer With list.  

Oh...the questions I'd ask. 

The second book I finished is Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey.  It is a memoir of a journey through "God Found, Lost, and Found Again," as the book jacket put it. 

It is inviting and beautiful, through and through.  
He writes things like

God is unchanging, but we're standing on the image we see.   
One day we wake up and find that God has shifted the image.  
Everything looks different.  
The world looks different.  
The world seems new.  
The trick is learning how to recognize that all the old colors are still there.  
It's just the patterns that have changed.  

Somewhere this past year I read the quote, "If your theology never changes, maybe there is something wrong with your theology."  And it has stuck with me; daily creeping into those places that had become really.very.totally secure~ places that probably looked more like walls built by an indifferent acceptance of everything I'd been taught in my very-Christian life for years and years and years.  

The point of the quote is NOT that God changes.
But that I often have Him pegged. 
Figured out.  
How foolish I was to live like that for so long. 

In the places of growth there is always some discomfort and pain~ and this is the part of the book that deeply resonated with my own experience.  The silence of God.  The long days of knowing God is there (intellectually) but not being able to know His presence or closeness.


Yancey graciously guides readers to see through his own wilderness journey that there is a table there.  
A table spread for the wilderness wanderer.  
The silence is an opportunity to hear.  
And this place is inhabited by God.

I've already passed mine along to Phil. 
He pretty much knew he had to read it when I spent 23 of 24 hours one day on the couch telling everyone to "shhh."  It's just a beautiful, encouraging reminder that the wilderness is a dwelling place~ 

A hearing place.
And there are tables spread for us all.

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Leave a comment with a book recommendation.
One person will be gifted Yancey's book~ 
(I'll be sure to send a new copy and not my scribbled/underlined/ruined-margins one:)


New Year.

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2015 is just a couple hours away for us.
2014 was a huge learning year for me, personally.  
Looking back, there is growth and a lot of soul shifting.
Turmoil.  Redemption.  Grace.  Humility.
I am thankful for journeys that have winding roads and tangent paths~
Travels in heart and faith that really never end, but just curve generously around new bends.
In new directions. 

We do revolutions instead of resolutions. 
Since we've been away this week, I haven't spent much time thinking about mine for the new year.
I'm mostly just excited for the places 2015 will take us.
What shape it will give to our hopes and dreams as we move through it.  
Maybe that is my revolution~ 
To enjoy the journey in the moment.  
Putting less energy into expectations.
Spending my time in awe of the daily gifts;
And looking eagerly around each new turn.

Happy 2015, friends~
Hoping your year is full of goodness.


2014 Favorites List

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Cannot believe we are standing at the edge of another year gone by~ 
Here are some favorites from 2014...

Favorite Movies: 
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(explains the life-size gorilla pictured above.)
Maleficent (close second)

Favorite Books:
(I'm a total geek, and I don't enjoy fiction.)

Favorite Shows:
The Walking Dead

Favorite Apps:

Favorite Songs:
Stay and Wait, Hillsong United
Overcome the Grave, Tori Harris
This I Believe, Hillsong United

Favorite New Hobby:
Flower arranging.  Because in a different life, I live above and work in a hipster flower shop:).

Favorite Homeschooling Nugget:
Reading at Starbucks over lattes.  We believe it is important to not only raise Christ-loving, knowledge-filled, and generous-hearted children; but to instill that Starbucks snob virtue in them, too.  

Favorite Dream:
Living on mission.  And in community.  
Building deep friendships with others.

Favorite Trip:

Favorite Project:
Converting our master bedroom into a family room.  Phil even made me Pinterest pallet-couches for seating.  I love our new room.  

Favorite Pastime:
Chilling at home with my little crew.

Favorite Verse:
Galatians 5:1a
"For freedom Christ has set us free;..."

Looking forward to 2015 and all the beauty that it unfolds!
Feel free to share some of your favorites from the past year in the comments...


King of Heaven

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"In our silence
Heaven whispered out
In our darkness
Glory pierced the night
We were broken
But now we're lifted up
King of heaven
God is here with us"

~Merry Christmas, friends~


Put a Stamp On It.

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I see lots of people on Facebook post stacks of colored images waiting to be put onto cards.
Here is a way to get those beauties used up during the holidays. 
Stick 'em on your gifts:).

I used everything from scraps.  
And a colored stamp that had been hanging out on my desk for a few weeks now. 
It is made even more perfect by the fact that my niece looks exactly like the angel:). 
Plus, is there anything better than combining animal print and halos?  Hello?!

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Happy gift wrapping~ 
I am exactly one present ahead of the game:).


Easy DIY Ornament~

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Each Christmas, I need to figure out those gifts for friends/family that are small, affordable, and preferably handmade.  I'd love to give out plates of cookies...but that would just be mean.  Cookies and I do not get along.  The bar is pretty low~ I shoot for 'almost edible'... Which doesn't make them especially coveted gifts:). 

This Christmas, we decided on ornaments.  For our small family gifts, we used a cute photo from earlier this year of the kids.    Added a little sparkly snow.  A hook.  And for just a couple dollars, have a sweet ornament to give out. 

For friends, if you don't want to add a photo of your kids or family, you could print out a favorite quote, Bible verse, or even use a colored digital scene instead.  

Supplies you'll need:

large clear (plastic) ball ornament
iridescent/ sparkly snow
optional ribbon or snowflake to tie onto the top of the ornament
photo/ paper insert

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Our ornament has a circumference of 12".  The photo inside measures 2.9" x 8"... just for reference.  

When you add the photo/ insert, roll it up gently and then push it into the opening at the top.  It will unravel inside.  You may need to help it a bit with a pencil, but it is pretty easy.  

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Happy Christmas crafting!



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Last April, I spent 5 days with Help One Now in Haiti. 
You might remember me talking about it in a few blog posts after I returned (here, here, and here). 
It was a trip I will never forget. 
Haiti will always be under my skin, creating some friction between the ease and comfort of everyday life and the memories of watching people with so little overflow with abundant joy.

April feels like forever ago already~ but Haiti feels always close to my heart.

Our team spent a day in a village called Drouin.  We drove hours to get there.  Bumpy roads.  Hot as hell.  Eighty miles an hour into oncoming traffic.  Car sick.  And just a little concerned about the lack of traffic rules/safety/signage.  There were a few moments I thought, See you in a few, Jesus.  When we finally arrived at the village, the ‘bathroom’ was something I’ve never seen before, and so I tried not to drink anything the rest of the afternoon to avoid using it twice (which is a pretty smart move in 98 degree heat).  The canal through the village was not sanitary, but often used anyway.  So, I didn’t eat the rice offered to us for lunch because I was too afraid of getting sick.  The place felt so foreign to me, I felt a thousand years away from who I was and the things that filled my life.  And I wondered if I had been born in Drouin, would I still be me.  Would I know how to be creative?  Or goofy?  Do people here ever curl up with a book and read?  Would I still be a runner?  Would I have laughed with my family?  Would there be anything to laugh about? 

There were moments early in that visit where I wondered what made the people in this forgotten and terribly poor village even want the sun to rise each tomorrow. 

And then the children ran out of their classrooms to meet us.  

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They laughed and talked to each other about us, pointing…giggling.  They touched my lip piercing; and I knew by their hand motions, they wanted to see how it looked from the inside of my lip.  After I showed them how it was locked into my face;), they let out that ‘ahhhhh’ that is understood in every language as ‘gottcha.’  They watched videos of my kids on my iphone.   At one point, I was under probably 20 kids~ like, under a mountain of them~ all pushing and screaming as they watched me scroll through photos of Niamh and Philly.  They braided my hair.  Tried to rub away my tattoos.  Held my hand. 

They told us, through a translator, what they wanted to be when they grew up.  We walked through their village, meeting mothers whose hearts were for and after their children and their children’s futures.  The appreciation for two meals a day and education far surpassed anything I’ve felt in my own heart~ because these parts of life are expected and normal in my home.  We laughed with the people here.  We stood in their yards and in their dwellings.  We tried to absorb their stories so that we could come back home and pour those stories out to others. 

As I let Drouin sink in~ all of it, from the sweaty smells to the gentle mothers we met~ I realized these far away people are just like me.  And that, if I had had Niamh and Philly with me, it would have taken two minutes before they were off playing, making new friends the way only kids can.  The parents wanted the same things for their children as I do~ health, education, opportunities.  There were two differences only~ the surroundings in which we live our lives out and the reality of what it means to truly be thankful for everything. 

I live in a 3 bedroom house that has two working toilets and plenty of clean, running water… but the satisfaction I feel towards it is often determined by vacuumed floors, strands of twinkly lights, and my latest score from Pier 1 Imports.  And when we “pare down” and take part in an Advent Conspiracy this Christmas, I’m still “parring down” in the top 3% statistic of world income.  My life is full of things~ and even when I clean out, live simply, or give to others…the reality is that I am still living in a very different place than the one I visited on a hot day last April. 

I struggle with what to do with that.  I do not like fostering a spirit of thankfulness in myself or my kids by telling them horror stories of Haiti~ because I was blessed by the abundance of beauty and joy in the people there.  There are real needs~ but I didn’t want to only bring back stories of need.  I wanted (and still want to) tell stories of what Haiti gave to me~
a deeper understanding of poverty,
a slant towards compassion first and questions later,
grace for people struggling, for immigrants, for single moms, for the guy who sits behind a ‘homeless’ sign by my Target (whereas before I would probably have kept my $5 and wondered why he doesn’t ‘just get a job’),
and a first-time love for seeing justice worked out. 

Haiti graced my heart with space for grace and a huge desire to put that into action.  And I am forever indebted to that hot as hell day in a forgotten village in the middle of nowhere and the amazing people that filled my hours that afternoon. 

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I choose to live in the daily journey towards what Haiti began in my heart.  I cannot solve poverty for Drouin.  I cannot clean the canal water.  I can’t ‘fix’ that small place in this big world.  And those thoughts feel overwhelming if all I am looking for is a solution~ an end instead of a means.  My family will live in the means~ the daily grind-blessing of moving in the direction of justice, love, and thankfulness.  So, yeah, we choose less this Christmas, because I think that might be the key to finding more.  And we actively look for opportunities to move against our comfort boundaries and serve others in loving, even crazy ways.  We chose to take on a Drouin child sponsorship, because it is a small choice that creates ripples of change in the future of one girl’s life.  And we hope that our choices and actions more and more align with the opportunities we are gifted with each day to step into looking more like Jesus. 

If you have $40 a month that can be redirected, I encourage you to think about sponsoring a child in Drouin~ providing them with two meals a day and an education.  As one who has walked through this place and seen the changes Help One Now is affecting, I am honored to be offered the chance to help continue their work in this small way. 

And if you buy my stamps and have a stack of cards made but no place to send them… sponsoring and sending cards to a child might fill your crafty hours with a little more weight and delight.  I’ve included a link to a digi I gave out as a promotion last year~ she is not in my shop.  Feel free to download her to use on cards for sponsored children…

...Or, if you cannot financially sponsor a child, consider donating to Help One Now this holiday season so that their work is supported and continued throughout the year. 

If interested in sponsoring a child, please click through this link and select “Drouin” in the “location” tab.  

I'd be thankful and honored for you to share the link to this post through all your social media sites/reach.  It is a privilege for me to have you join in sharing these stories.  


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