Christians and Social Justice…

I have been mulling over my thoughts, scripture and writing this post for a long time. Even now I write this hesitantly because I am not good with words. I don’t know how to explain myself well or pinpoint my main thought. But writing out what I feel for my own blog, is important to me. This is what is what I am thinking and chewing on frequently and have been challenged with everyday for the past several weeks.
It all started when I read David Platts book,” Radical.” Challenging doesn’t begin to explain it. Besides the Bible, no other book has just sat with me and been a constant companion of my mind. The premise of the book is to present this idea to the reader that only seems radical but the bible just calls it obedience. The idea is that maybe God was being literal and serious when He spoke about such things as the Great Commissions, caring for the widow and the orphan, etc.  Platt challenges the American church and their tendency to believe that portions of scripture must not be taken literal or are not meant for us today because they come at a huge cost, require sacrifice of time, money and sometimes life. Platt also throws out this crazy thought about where we would be and have been taking the gospel if we didn’t count our lives so dear to ourselves. It’s true for me. I am positive there are a few mission trips I wouldn’t have passed on had I not been full of fear for my safety.

There is a ton more I can say but with little ones running around, this is all I have time for for now. Take a fresh look at scripture and ask yourself if you are buying in to a comfortable lie you have told yourself. If we decided to really live out the gospel by loving on people in a radical way, caring for orphans and widows, being active for the poor – what would that look like in our churches and in your own life? For me, it has meant advocating for orphans on my facebook page, helping adoptive parents fundraise, buying necessities for foster kids, praying for the widows I know and being active in my pursuit to serve them. It also means I started selling Noonday Collection. I sell fair trade accessories like jewelry, bags and home goods. All these items create sustainable income for men and women in vulnerable countries. These jobs provide them with dignity, health care, literacy training, job training, access to basic essentials and schooling. For me, it means getting to the root of the orphan crisis and caring for moms and dads so they can keep their own children, so they can provide for them. That should be the heart behind orphan care-keeping families united and then allowing ourselves to be used when a family unit can not be kept together for various reasons.

Isaiah 58:10 “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”

I will try and follow up this post with some suggestions of ways you could get more involved in acting out the gospel.

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Hearing from the Lord.

A few months ago I read the story of Elijah in the cave (1 Kings 19:10-19). Great story, moved on. Then shortly after, I read it again. Took note but moved on. When our pastor taught on it a few weeks ago, I listened. I was asking God, why do I keep hearing this story? What are you trying to say? I left without an answer and again asked the question when the story came up about a week ago.

3 days ago I was having a freak out fest. I was struggling with both of the boys strong personalities and needs and feeling unequipped and unable to have joy in the situation. I was asking, what does it mean to be in Christ? Can I be settled in Him, with joy, if this is what everyday is going to look like from here on out. I was also feeling overwhelmed with things in our life. We have been asking God to move and give us wisdom in a certain situation for almost a year now and it was starting to get to me, the waiting. I decided I needed to listen to a sermon online and get my mind out of the places it was going. So I went to iTunes and looked up one of my favorite churches, The Mission North Shore. The first message that popped up was called Paralyzing Fear, thought it sounded right up my alley so I clicked on it. Man, the Lord blew me away. It was one of those message where you blink and it is over and if you were writing notes, your hand never would have stopped. It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear and… a big part of the message was about the story of Elijah in the cave. Hahahaha crazy! If you want to catch the message here is the link https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/paralyzing-fear/id542501750?i=122928439&mt=2.

I’ve been busy

Wow, it has been awhile since I posted but that is real life and the only way blogging is going to work for me. Erik had to go out of town for 4 days last week and I had the boys all to myself for the first time. Surprisingly we made it and actually semi enjoyed it. I stayed up late every night enjoying the quiet and indulging myself in Parenthood marathons and working on Noonday ordering. I owe a special thanks to a few friends and family members for helping past the time, play dates saved the week for sure.

I was also able to mark one book off of my reading list, ” Call of a Coward” by Marcia Moston. I loved it!!!! It was a really quick read, which I appreciate seeing as I have three thick library books on the nightstand that I need to get through. It was really insightful about life on the mission field, going and doing things you never expected God would ever call you to, dealing with the confusion when things don’t work out how we thought and start to doubt that we heard Him in the first place. It is the story of her family moving to Guatemala to work in an orphanage and then being uprooted and sent to a completely different place that didn’t seem to make sense. I told Erik he should read it as soon as I was done but I was having a hard time not telling him the whole story in the first 5 minutes after reading it. Glad to have one book off the list. Next up ” The Searchers” by Joseph Laconte.

I wanted to share this video with you as well. We have some amazing friends who are moving to Ethiopia this spring to work at an orphanage. They heard of another couple working in Addis and have been following their blog to learn more about life over there. The family in Addis does video updates in lieu of a newsletter. It is a great idea and it is really gives you an idea of the work they are doing and of the impact they are making. So here is their video and next time, after I ask permission, I will share more with you about my friends and the work they will be doing at the orphanage

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znOOxSpCdbw&feature=youtu.be

When Will I make the Time…

I got sucked into a beautiful blog last night and it was all about… books! My total and complete weakness. I ended up putting 7 books on hold at the library and then met with a fantastic friend today and added two more. I decided I needed to write them all out so I could push myself to read them. Not that I want to get through them but I am just so excited to devour them. By the way the blog is http://www.heartsandmindsbooks.com/booknotes/.  So here is my list. If you have read any of them tell me your thoughts but don’t suggest to many good books until I get through these ones please 🙂

  1.  Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis with Beth Clark
  2. No Greater Love by Candy Chand and Levi Benkert
  3. Adopted for Life by Russell Moore and CJ Mahaney
  4. The Just Church by Jim Martin
  5. Generous Justice by Timothy Keller
  6. Radical by David Platt
  7. Parenting is Heart Work by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
  8. Good and Angry by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
  9. Call of the Coward by Marcia Moston
  10. 7: An experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker
  11. The Last Hunger Season by Roger Thurow
  12. When a woman lets go of her fear by Cheryl Brodersen
  13. In a pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson
  14. Francis Schaeffer by Colin Duriez
  15. God Smuggler by Brother Andrew
  16. Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel
  17. The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
  18. Unchristian by Gabe Lyons
  19. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Hopefully I don’t walk past the bookshelf after this and realize there is more I want to read.

Deliberate Parenting

Before I had Owen I always thought parenting would be somewhat easy. I thought I could hug and kiss him a lot to show him how much I cared, read all the Dr. Dobson I could get my hands on, be consistent with discipline and share Jesus with him. I thought we would be going to the Farmers market on the weekends, taking fun mom and son dates and doing lots of adventurous things in the Summer. In my pre parent mind I had no idea how all-encompassing motherhood would be. I had no idea I would have to schedule time to brush my teeth, struggle to still date my husband and that all the things I thought before weren’t going to be enough.
Sometime in the last 6 months I have realized that my parenting needed to change. Though I was disciplining and trying to be consistent, I wasn’t see real change and the change I was seeing was in action and not in heart. I have come to realize that I was just putting out fires and not thinking long-term. With a baby in the house who doesn’t sleep much at night and wants all my attention during the day, I lost sight of needing to make goals for Owen. Goals in the sense of fostering great character in him like service, honor, respect and kindness. I came to realize that I need to be deliberate. To be deliberate means to be studied, intentional, carefully weighing, steadily moving forward. slow in deciding, unhurried. These are the things I need to be doing as a parent because it is the second greatest job I have been given next to being a wife. It is going to take time, tough decisions, a whole lot of patience and discipline on my part to be this kind of parent. The world is already telling him how to treat people, how to think about himself, how to speak to me and it is never going to stop so I can’t take a back seat. I want to ponder the skills that are important for him to have in life and make a deliberate plan to get there.
A lot of this was stirred in my heart through several blogs that I read and I want to share them with you. This first one is my favorite. It has some of the most provoking thoughts on parenting. It is solid, a quick read and there is always something you can walk away with to carry out. Plus the people who write the blog have written a few of my most beloved parenting books.
1) http://www.biblicalparenting.info/ – there is also a sister site link on their page and a ‘university’ where you can take parenting classes on tough issues like anger in you and in your children.
2) http://steadfasthope-thegospelaccordingtomom.blogspot.com/- a great devotional read.
3) http://powerofmoms.com/ – this is a new resource to me but when I went to the site for the first time, it allowed me to download two books for free. They also offer a circle of moms group, where you get together once a month to discuss a parenting topic.
4) http://www.strategicdads.com/blog – dads really get left out but they are essential to our parenting. A full resource for them.
I would love to get your opinion. What are some of your go to resources online and how do you put in to practice being deliberate? I will post more in the future on my favorite parenting books once I am done reading the few I am working through now.
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A New Venture

A few months ago I stumbled across this great blog about a family who had adopted 3 boys, 2 of which are siblings, from Uganda. I was in love. Her blog really advocates for orphans and for families who are adopting. There was so much to read about, I couldn’t stop. I started finding  a few earlier posts were she was promoting people’s businesses that helped others. Whether it was raising funds for a family to bring their child home, buying  a shirt that benefits an orphanage or buying goods from a fair trade company because it provides better wages for people who are often exploited. In comes Noonday Collection. Noonday seeks to help create a pathway out of poverty through style. They sell fair trade goods like amazing jewelry, accessories and home goods all while fundraising for adoption and creating sustainable, reliable income for others. I am still learning about fair trade so here is an excerpt from the Noonday website to better explain it,

“At Noonday Collection, the artisans aren’t just at the heart of our company, they ARE the company. The artisans we purchase our collection from know their craft. For them to get paid a fair and competitive wage for the skilled work of their hands is a unique and life-altering opportunity for most of them.  Because we practice Fair Trade guidelines, your purchases enable them to earn more than what they would be earning in another job. This extra income enables them to put their children in school, buy chickens, or even expand their own business so they can employ their local community.

Noonday Collection only partners with companies and ministries who assure that their artisans are growing, learning, and benefiting from their craft. All of our suppliers use fair trade principles.  Basic fair trade principles state that artisans receive a fair, living wage, a good working condition, and a reasonable path out of poverty. We want to go beyond fair trade.  In many instances, the artisans are part owners in the companies! Read more about the stories behind your purchases.”

Every piece you buy comes with a story, one you can read about. Directly on their website, underneath every piece is the story of the artisan who made it, where they made it and how Noonday Collection has changed their lives. I have read about people having joy for the first time, becoming Christians, receiving health care, sending family members to school, buying their first home, etc. You really have to read their stories to appreciate the value and beauty of what is being done. I am super blessed because I have gotten the chance to partner with Noonday Collection and help spread the word. If you want to get involved you can shop from the link provided or host a party at your house to show your friends. If you are adopting, you can host a party and 10% of the shows sales will go towards your adoption. I am super excited to be involved in something that is so special and that makes an impact outside of my own world.

For those wondering, Noonday Collection gets its name from Isaiah 58:10, If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness and your darkness shall be as the noonday.

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http://www.sarahjonsgaard.noondaycollection.com/

Living in Fear

In my creative life, I have recently realized that I am held captive by my fear of failure. Afraid to put the brush to canvas because it is probably not going to come out how I envision. Afraid to turn on the sewing machine because I know I am not that great at sewing. Afraid to make a decision on furniture because then maybe I am not as savvy with decorating as I thought. Afraid to have a blog because what if I find out I have nothing to say. Afraid to step out on a new personal adventure for fear that I will feel like a total failure and loser. Lame I know because none of these thing even matter. Who cares if my painting doesn’t come out how I wanted, my furniture doesn’t match or that this next adventure may not go as I hope. Regardless, I have been laying awake at night for three days now feeling consumed by these thoughts of fear. My life is full of schedules, plans, obligations and chores. I would love to be able to feel free in my creative life. As I write this I think all these things I fear, I fear because I could fail. Is failing really that bad? What is it about failure that leads me from living a life of creative freedom? While I ponder this, enjoy these quotes that inspire me.

dstore.tumblr.com birchandbird.com simplemom.net modernmotive.com nomrdarcy.com blog.fazeone.me gemgoode.deviantart.com witanddelight.tumblr.com

Drumroll please…..

I feel like the first post on a blog should be awe inspiring and/or hilarious. Maybe this one will be hilarious because our life is a little crazy right now but doubtful. As I write this, Cole and I are recovering from the stomach flu, Owen is out cold and Erik is barfing, literally.  For Christmas, I bought Erik the cd Rend Collective Experiment, which I highly recommend, and I have been rocking it a lot. When I am stressed, trying to make Cole sing or rubbing the back of a puking child I keep going back to this one song called True Intimacy. It makes my heart sing with the music, so enjoy these lyrics and I hope they stir you to seek Jesus even more diligently 

“Whatever I have, whatever I hold, There’s nothing compared to having You close. True intimacy is my desire. To catch Your whispers and carry Your fire. You’re my ambition, my destination.More than living, more than breathing, You’re the reason my heart’s beating. There’s nothing greater than knowing You. You unlock my joy, You waken my soul.Forever I’m Yours, forever You’re mine. A wonderful truth that You are my life. You’re my ambition, my soul’s true mission.More than Living, more than breathing. You’re the reason, my heart’s beating. So I’m giving, freely yielding. You’re the reason, my heart’s beating.There’s nothing greater than knowing You, nothing greater than knowing You.”