Archive for August 2014

Mustard Seed project Update: Days 2, 3, 4, and 5

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Birthday good deeds day 2, 3, 4, and 5 (and some day 1 stuff I missed):
    After I published my last post, a few more fun things happened. We had my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for dinner. Having people over is a great joy for us, and we had a great evening full of laughter and food. I also got a little treat for my bro-in-law.

     It's just a silly marketing gimmick, but I thought of him. It's nice to be thought of so act number 3 was getting this little treat for him. Act 4 was having them all over for dinner.
      Day 2 I wasn't as successful in my acts of kindness. Our friend was still here, and we had a laid back day. We got pedicures, walked around the mall, and watched a movie here at home. It was fun, and we hope she had a great time of rejuvenation
     Day 3 we spent the whole day with family out on the boat, in extremely cold weather (for August). We just sat in the harbor eating food and talking. I also got to meet some family I hadn't yet met, so act number 5 is spending time with family. I think sometimes we take for granted how much spending time with our extended family means to others. It's good for their hearts, and it's in turn shining light on the world. Especially if those family members are elderly, or can't get out much, spending time with them is a great small thing to do with a big impact. 
     Day 4 and 5. Monday and Tuesday I prepped a whole bunch of acts to do today and tomorrow. I'm very excited about these. I also surprised Mac with a coke with his name (act 6), and some of my upcoming acts have to do with these coke names as well. I think it's really awesome to be thought of, and know someone thought of you, even if it's in such a silly way. 
     I mailed 4 cards to people who I really need to say thanks to. I have a lot more that need to go out, but I hope these 4 small gestures help these people know how much I love them. (acts 7, 8, 9, and 10). I also got a package ready for a new teacher we know. 
     This might ruin the surprise for her, but it's really just a sneak peak. It's so expensive to stock a classroom, when most of those expenses have to come out of pocket. There are also lots of students who come to school without the supplies they need. I stocked some good stuff for her, and am mailing it out tomorrow! I hope this helps her in a small way to start well and share her love and light in these young lives (act 11).
      The last act I did was make a whole lot of cookies for my neighbors. We have yet to deliver them, but they are all ready to go out this evening. We are giving them to all the neighbors on our block, which means 10 acts of kindness in our corner of the world! 

    A couple more cards and packages are getting prepped to go out, and I have a few ideas left to carry out. I wanted to buy someones Starbucks the other day at the drive thru, only no one was in the drive thru behind me, so that didn't work out as planned. 
    I hope beyond these small acts that I'm trying to do, that I've been a source of joy, a smile, or a laugh for someone this week. 
    Today is my last day in my 20's, I'm hoping to make it a good one! 

Mustard Seed Kingdom Day 1: Hospitality

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     My goal was to do around 4 acts of kindness today. I think I achieved 2 notable ones. There were a few other random acts, but not very notable. There was a debate going on in my mind on whether or not to count throwing the empty Starbucks cup that I found in an aisle at target away; the answer was no. I don't want to get in the habit of counting every piece of trash I pick up as an intentional act, or I'm going to end up copping out on so much more.
     The first act that actually does count is having a friend over tonight and to spend the day with us tomorrow. Most of my day was spent cleaning the house in anticipation for her. I don't like to do things small either, I love for people to feel welcomed and pampered when they stay here. That does not always happen, but I try. I read that "the heart of hospitality is when people leave your home they should feel better about themselves, not better about you." I try to do that. Another great quote on hospitality is "Hospitality is not about inviting people into our perfect homes; it is all about inviting people into our imperfect lives." Our home is far from perfect. Only one room has been painted, things are still somewhat dirty (as much as we've strived for them not to be, there's only so much we can do in a summer), and we still have unpacked boxes, but we still want people to come be a part of this chaos we call life. We want them to see us as real people, with a dog that barks too much, and dust in the corners. We want for them to see that, but to ultimately come out of the other side feeling loved, valued, rested, and with memories. Our beds are soft and clean, and they are meant to be slept in. Our home is meant to be lived in, so we have strived to open it up as much as possible to anyone.

     Here's our imperfect guest room all ready for tonight's guest!

The small ways we try to pamper our guests

Striving to make our guest feel GREAT about herself after staying here

      These are just some small things we do to make guests feel welcome, and a small mustard seed way we try to change the world. 
       My second act today was to finally write a postcard to friends who are planting a church in Hawaii. They sent out these awesome postcards to send them a note several weeks ago. It's been stuck to the fridge since then, being procrastinated. I think I was trying to think of something profound to say, but I'm not super profound, I'm just me. I decided that this is a week all about celebrating my 30 years as me, so I needed to just write something from the heart. That's what I did. 

If you are interested in their work in Hawaii, they blog at You should check them out! They are also fundraising for their ministry there, so consider making a donation to their work. We have a hard task here in Hammond, but we are blessed to have family so close. They can't just drive home for a weekend, so I know they love words of encouragement and lots of prayers.
Day 1 was a lot of fun, and I look forward to the rest of this week, and discovering ways to be the kingdom here in our community and with the people I interact with.  

Overcoming Evil with Good

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     Given the news the past several days, it's evident that evil exists. It exists in suicide and death, it exists in persecution and genocide, it exists in hatred between religious groups, and exists in the rampant racism of our country and beyond. It's hard to know what to focus on. It's overwhelming to know what to do. 
     Do we send money to doctors battling ebola? Do we drive to St. Louis in some sort of solidarity with the black community against an unjust system? Do we post the suicide hotline number on our Facebook statuses, again? There are so many things to do, there are so many issues, the world seems to be falling apart. It is easy to be overcome by evil. 
      There's this voice, this verse in Romans that says, however, to not be overcome, but to overcome that evil with good. Not with money, or Facebook statuses, or violence, but with good. 
     The context of these verses are astounding. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
      Love, do good, bless others, mourn with those who mourn, live in harmony with others, don't repay evil for evil.
     So you know what I've done in light of things going on? I've gone out and met some neighbors, I threw a baby shower for a friend, I went for a tour at the local YMCA, I prayed hard, I've intentionally talked about these issues, and I love the people around me. 
    That might seem silly, small, ridiculous in light of all that has happened. I guess it is in a lot of ways, but I don't think the solution is throwing money at a problem, I definitely don't think the solution is throwing Molotov cocktails or bombing cities, I don't think the solution is changing the channel on the news and burying your head either. I think the solution is doing what you can by what means you can; loving your neighbors. Being a force in your community.
     I know this of the kingdom of God, it's like a mustard seed. Small, but grows into a weed with potential to tear down entire buildings and walls. The walls of racism, hatred, death, and greed. I can't go to St. Louis, or fly to Gaza or Iraq, but I can plant that mustard seed of the kingdom here. I can know my neighbors names, share cupcakes with them. Pour out love on my friends, be a home that's open to all who need it, be hospitable, be a person who lives outside of myself. I truly think those small kingdom things aren't small at all. I think they open us up to so much, I think God takes those small acts of love and compassion and they grow. They grow into a force to be reckoned with. They grow into something that changes the world. 

    It takes intention, it takes stepping outside of your comfort zone, it takes leaving your house, it takes everything we have, but it's so worth it. 

     So, this week I want to encourage everyone to get out of their homes and plant mustard seeds of the Kingdom. My birthday is a week from today, and I turn 30!! Something I've always wanted to do for my birthday is 30 random acts of kindness. This is more fitting this year than ever before, so join the Mustard Seed project, plant a seed of hope, of love, of compassion in your community, then come tell me about it! I want to hear at least 30 stories of ways you've loved others, blessed others, loved your enemy, fought racism, cared for the oppressed, anything that extends the kingdom of God. Or better yet, do 30 acts this week in honor of me. That would ultimately be the greatest gift ever, and from today forward to next week my birthday, I'm also going to do 30 things and come back here and blog about them each day. That means about 4 things a day. They don't need to be big, they just need to be done in great love. 

So who's up for the challenge? Let's overcome evil with good, together!


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     The delay in posting about our Mundelein students visiting, is not without reason. The main reason was to sigh a heavy sigh that we survived the summer. The other reason is, I have a disappointingly low number of photos. I was so busy living in the moment, and soaking up every second I could with these teens I love more than words could ever express.
    There aren't nearly as many shocking before and after photos, because so much of what was done, was to clean up and make the church workable for now. Plus,we needed some time to breathe. It's been such a whirlwind of a summer, that we had to play catch up on boring things like organizing receipts, and calling insurance companies. We also just needed some time to put our feet up for a couple days, before the next whirlwind started.
      Spending time with our teens from Mundelein was invaluable to us. It was a week of mixed emotions, as we watched them enjoy our new home, and got to admire how tall everyone has gotten in the 2 months since we left, we also knew we'd have to say goodbye again. We also had our first real issue of the week with one of our girls breaking her leg while adventuring at the beach. It broke our hearts to sit with her in the ER and watch her go through so much pain. It really is an emotional thing to want to help someone so much, and be very limited in what you can do. We are so grateful that she had an awesome Dr. and nurse, who took great care of her, and she is on the mend.
     There were lots of laughs, lots of stories, and lots of work done. Here are a few pictures that I managed to snap in the midst of basking in the moments I shared with people so precious to my heart.

Remember our hideous office room? It's completed now! Our first completed room in the house!
 Mac found his beloved friend, Classic, in the boxes we unpacked during the week
 This room looks much less dungeon like with paint on the walls! Once the ceiling is replaced, this room will also be completed. The last classroom at the church that needs to be finished.
 While organizing the books, a super nerd bookcase was created, this is a glimpse of that.

I have yet to take a picture of the entire garage sale pile organized, but I did manage to take a picture of this awesome find of the week.
 Every mission trip team's favorite place to go, Dairy Belle!
 Sable wanted her new friends to stay forever

      I'm sorry for the lack of pictures, but I do think it's important to live in the moment sometimes instead of behind a camera (or phone). I tried to do that. I'm so blessed to call these students mine, and I'm so grateful that we got to end our summer trips on such a high note! Now it's time to hit the ground running as school starts this week here in Hammond. Goodbye summer of 2014! You were awesome! Now on to fall 2014, I foresee the outflow of blessings to continue.