Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tipping Sacred Cows and Learning from Birdfeeders...

Hi Friends!
This post has been a long time in coming. It was written months ago. Seriously, I know you did not even have a clue that there was a part two to the first Bird feeder saga. “Sigh”

I will just say that in order to understand this post I ask that you go back and read the first one. (Hint, click here.) Please take the time to read the comments that follow the post.  I honestly believe the people who shared there brought in more wisdom and food for thought than my little post.  You could even stick around and read more of the Bibledude's awesome site. You will not regret it. ;)

My question is, will you join in on the conversation?

Because my friends this is where we have been for a few years now. Asking questions and seeking answers in something as radical and simple as…

 His Word. 

(Gasp, I know right?!)

We are following God on a new adventure down an old path.

Asking questions and tipping sacred cows is not for the faint of heart. Honestly, it can be freakishly uncomfortable.

But this is worth it, this lovely journey to better understand God and His church.

For each person this expedition could lead to different places, different ministries, and different conclusions, but it is better when we journey this adventure together. We can pool our collected wisdom and different experiences and compare it to His word.

Will you join me? Would you like to share?

And now…

The $5 dollar bird feeder that is a metaphor for our life in the church.        

Winter Reflections on the Bird Feeder and the Church part 2.

It hit me today as I looked out the window,  I could see and hear the Birds again. They were on our new $5 bird feeder that our kids wanted to get. Our old one was pretty, but had some serious issues that kept reoccurring. (Read here, Winter Reflections)

So this winter with a dysfunctional bird feeder and a budget tightened by our resignations, medical bills, and appliances failing after the lovely power outages, I have found myself walking outside every couple of days to feed our birds. 

Nothing spectacular, mind you, just sprinkling the seed on the ground and branches where it’s hidden by tree cover and safe for our little feathered friends to eat.

The other day though, we saw a clearance “cheapo” bird feeder and the kids were excited. (Yep, we get excited about these kinds of things.) So we binged and bought it.

The lovely $5 bird feeder has been out for a few days now.

Birds are happily alighting on it and they do not seem to care that it is not as pretty or grand as the last one.  Maybe the birds know something we don’t?

They are after all leaving it with bellies full of good nourishing seed again.

This is lovely.

So once again I hear my heavenly Father nudging me to listen, to pause…

To lean in and learn from Him...

Sometimes we try to repeatedly fix things that just continue to break.

You see we can keep on trying to fix something that is remaining broken or we can find a simple solution.

Like a $5 dollar bird feeder or just grabbing some seed and heading out daily to feed those hungry cold little ones.

Sort of like the church. Sort of like our faith…

We can hold so tightly to our beautiful buildings, to our precious methods and sacred traditions and in doing so we sometimes forget what God and His word actually have to say about them. 

So maybe we don’t need a big flashy building?

Maybe we can just use our homes, our hands, and our feet to go out and feed the cold and hungry.

Maybe, just maybe there is more than one way to do this church thing.

Even more importantly we can actually decide to be the church.

What are your thoughts friends? 

Both churches within buildings and those that reside outside the traditional brick and mortar can serve a purpose.

Do you believe it's possible to "do" church more effectively inside or outside of a building? Why or why not?
(P.S. What is your definition of "doing" church?)

What are your experiences good or bad with this?

What might happen if the body of Christ was more active outside of it's buildings than it was inside? 

Whether it's a church that meets in a cathedral, movie theater, homeless shelter, or someone's home what do you personally view as the most effective venue?

What pluses and downfalls do you see for either side of this spectrum? 

We cannot truly learn when we are only surrounded by people who think the same as we do. I encourage you to all share your differing ideas, what you have found in God's Word, your personal experiences, and heart in a respectful manner so that all of us can learn from each other.

If you are unsure of what the purpose is for this series than please click here and read the "Let's Talk Church" intro.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When Human Trafficking shows up on your door step...

Hi my friends,

Please share this post with as many people as you can. Please read this and read some of the links. The more knowledge we have the better we can help kids like these. And please never ever let your kid join one of these crews. Just remember, If this was your kid... Wouldn't you want someone to look out for their welfare? 

    There was a knock on the door and I saw the silhouettes of two kids standing out there. I opened the door to their friendly greeting and shook hands with them. The girl immediately went into her up-beat speech on the contest she was in trying to sell magazines for earning points towards a European trip. I chatted with the two kids about the contest because frankly it sounded a bit off. 

She handed me her pamphlet and as I scanned through the actual magazine selections I found I could not find a website or number to call for the business. I decided to ask more about what they were doing and to ask where they were from.

She quickly explained that they were on a traveling sales crew.

Wait… What? Traveling Sales crew? These kids were young. I mean the girl looked anywhere between 14-16 and the boy looked somewhere between 11-13 years old. 

Who lets their kids travel from state to state selling magazines with a company? My parent radar was going off...

“So where have you two been so far?”

There was a moment’s pause as they glanced nervously at each other. The boy finally chimed in revealing how they had been to Indiana and were heading to Ohio soon after their stint in Michigan was over. The girl then chimed in and gave an upbeat spin on how this was an adventure and great opportunity for them to see different areas.

I asked them if they were doing this for just the summer and they quickly dodged the question, instead, telling me more about their dreams of winning the competition with bright smiles on their faces. 

She even asked me if she was doing a good job with her speech because she wanted to work on her public speaking and better herself. I smiled and gave her some encouragement, but something wasn’t right…

My internal "scam" radar had been sounding off for a while now. What was worse though was my concern for these young teens. Too many things were not adding up.

I did not purchase a magazine with them, but as they left I immediately hopped online to try and find the company while calling two more neighbors to see if they would slow the kids down and ask more questions to find out as much as we could about their situation. I could not find the company, but what I did find caused me to call the Human Trafficking hotline immediately.

They immediately instructed me to call the police requesting a welfare check for the kids.

From there it was a tag team effort with another neighbor to talk with the kids and slow them down, but soon after my call their pick-up vehicle arrived. 

My neighbor asked the driver for identification or papers for the company they represented, but she grew angry and refused while quickly herding the kids into the SUV and rushing out our the subdivision.

My neighbor quickly shot a picture of the vehicle and license plate. A minute later the police arrived and we quickly relayed the information to them. 

One officer left in pursuit and after finishing with the first officer I left to check-in with the other neighbors to whom the kids had been seen speaking to.


I am so heartbroken my friends and this is why…   

Most traveling magazine sales crews are a scam. This was obvious to me and my neighbors. Their talk was good, they were clean cut, and sweet faced kids, but the lack of a website and contact number for the company tipped most of us off. The outlandish prices deterred the rest.
My deep issue with this scam is that it involved two under age kids. After researching the articles and information on Traveling Sales Crews and learning about the way they operate it was beyond disturbing.

Hopeful kids signing up for a job promising great pay, adventure, and fun, that may leave them as little more than indentured servants.

Ads similar to this one lure students to call...

Some of these crew managers hook them on drugs and alcohol. They refuse to pay them. They may even beat and abuse them when their sales fall short. There are multiple reports of rape and molestation and quite a few of these kids, as well as, adults are listed as missing people. Some have even been killed.

To put it simply my friends, 
it was 
Human Trafficking 
showing up on my door step. 

These stories have been covered by news groups such as NY Times, ABC, FoxNews, NBC, and more...

So no, I have not lost my mind.

Most of all, please, the next time one of these kids from a traveling sales group shows up at your door do not purchase from them unless you know the student. 
If you do not know them and they appear under eighteen then call the police and ask for a welfare check for them. (Or follow the BBB's guides and suggestions below.) If they look older ask for their solicitors license and if they refuse to show it call the police.

Here are some quick suggestions from the Better Business Bureau

Please don't hesitate to call the National Human Trafficking line they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at:


This guy captures one of their typical sales pitches on video. This kid's pitch was very close to the young girl who came to our door. (To watch a pitch click here.)

This site shares stories from teens and young adults that have escaped the traveling magazine crew lifestyle. (Click Here)

Here is the deal. If this was your kid... Wouldn't you want someone to look out for their welfare? 

This quick thinking lawyer in Wisconsin did just that.(Click Here

Again, I ask for you to share this post with your friends, family, facebook, twitter, and get the word out. Sadly, some of the smaller police forces do not know about this form of child exploitation and trafficking. This can slow down the process when they do not take it seriously.

Please help get the word out to your community and maybe just maybe, we can save a few people from being scammed, but more importantly save some kids as well.

As a friend of mine pointed out. " If these were my kids, I would hope to God, someone out there would go the extra mile to make sure they were okay."

Monday, June 30, 2014

Spread the Love Blog tour... Am I back?

 Okay my friends it has been a long time… 

I mean too long, but there was a purpose and a reason for that season. 

When a blogger friend of mine, Stacey, (Who is aca-mazing and a bigger encouragement in my life than she even knows…) asked for some volunteers to join the tour I felt God give me a nudge and tell me to jump in.  SO…

Here I am.

All of my craziness is still intact and I have things to share, but oh where oh where to start?!?!?!

Hence this blog tour gives me a simple way to share what I have been up to these last few months…errr… “Cough, cough” (YEAR).  

One more side-note for you… This will not be a polished and pretty post. We had our anniversary, a wedding, grad party, birthday party, and allot of home projects that have been going on this last week and sooooo…
Grace my friends. Give me some grace. ;)

1. What are you currently working on?

Can I just give you some pics my friends? A picture is worth a thousand words right?

Getting demo's done for Art classes that my good friend, Brianne, and I get to teach together.

Another Demo. This one is of my daughter;s silhouette. She is full of life and color so that is how I painted her. ;)

Average week at our home. We all have fun painting. Can you tell?

Was privileged to be asked to return and do another experiential service for a Youth Retreat. This one was on The Persecuted Church. It is one of my favorite things to help others understand what people are going through across the world.

We went on our last youth mission trip before resigning. (Yes, I am a dork.) :)

They repaired the inside of a family's home which had some severe damage inside. The husband had aids and was unable to work.  They also completely re-roofed another family's home and did an immaculate job. Love these teens!

Survived Michigan's worst winter ever. With record snow falls and and record low temps it was an experience for sure! ;)

We lost power for 5 days straight over Christmas and of course, while family was staying with us. Entertaining 7 kids while trying to keep the fires going to keep the house warm made for some good memories.
Yes, grown men do play Bakugan. ;)

Good times. We were so excited to be able to visit a bunch of my family. It had been years y'all. Way too long! (Can you guess which one is from Texas?)

Movie time with the Cousins!

Cousins having some fun!

Heading up north and seeing my brother from another mother. (In other words we grew up together and I count him as my brother.) P.S. Don't tell him this pic is in here...He doesn't like it. ;)

Being Silly with my Hubby at a good friend's Grad party for her daughter.
Love. This. Man.

 Trying to get a pic with my kids. It only took 6 tries... Goofballs.

This is why. ;)
Homeschooling Fun! The challenge? To build a Trojan Horse that you can all fit in from Card board and tape. Oh yeah!
 They rocked it!

Learning about the racism and inequality
that still continues to this day.

Loving Nature as usual.

Hiking the largest Dune. Love those Great Lakes. 

Good times at Lake Michigan!
 So much more happened, but I do not want to bore you my friends. Just know it's been a fantastic time full of adventures with family, making new friends, and learning new things. 

Now, back to the blog tour questions.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?


What is my work? Well I guess that would be a better question.

Hmmm... A little synopsis perhaps?

I am a homeschooling mama, ministry peep, artist, art teacher, justice and poverty advocate, who is prone to spontaneous dancing and/or singing.

The biggest news over the last year is that after over a decade in youth ministry and 15 years of various ministry positions we resigned.
 It was a hard decision to make because we love our teens and we loved working in youth ministry, but it was a necessary choice for us. Since then it’s been a beautiful time of learning new things, healing from the stress of the last few years, and also a rough time of wrestling with God as we ask Him,  "What’s next?". 

Aaaaannnnnd His, “What’s next?” is a different type of adventure. We have always been a bit out of the ordinary (Shocker, I know.) and now we feel like God is asking us to just jump off the reservation with this next adventure, but we are absolutely excited about it and have a peace. (Are we nervous? Heck yes, but with God? Things are risky and exciting and require faith. So here we go!)

3. Why do you write/create what you do?

To put it simply, God gives me a drive to create. Whether it’s art or words, speaking or creating experiential services on global issues, or teaching art classes...

 I just do what He nudges me towards. I love getting to foster that creativity in others. My kids, my friends, youth, anyone?! 

Art is such a therapeutic and freeing process. I gave a creativity workshop at a youth retreat and discovered a quote that basically said. (And I am totally paraphrasing this…)

If as, Christians we are worshiping and following the Master Creator of the universe then shouldn’t we be the most creative beings on the planet?

This is sadly not the impression allot of us are conveying to the world. 


There are glimmers though. Along the fringe lines there is a beautiful group of creative cats that both love Jesus and are following in their Creator’s footsteps. 

Getting Bolder and braver in their expressions of creativity. Willing to think out of the box, which last time I checked God doesn’t like to be put in a box. (I could write on that one for a bit, but this is supposed to be short. Lol)

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

I watch life constantly and ask questions just as much. There is so much to learn, see and experience. Life, is a never ending lesson we can learn from. God is constantly drawing analogies before my eyes each day and I find it beautiful and exhilarating. 

To be more specific. There is always music playing and then the juices of creativity start flowing and away we go. 

I just want to thank Stacey for asking me to join this lovely tour. You should check out her blog my friends. She writes, she creates, she advocates for women. She is a rockstar in my book. (Seriously! Click HERE and visit her.)

So how are you?

 I hope and pray you are doing well! I will be returning to this little corner of the blog world more often. My, "Let's Talk Church" section will be finally getting some more posts soon as we share what we have learned and explored the last few years. I hope you will join in the conversation. It is always better to hear from all points of view so we can learn from each other's experiences and knowledge.

God bless you lots!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

When You don't know where to start... Start with one.

She was drunk.
 I could see our breath like a mist in the cold winter’s night as we sat outside the church building. People passionately lifting up praises to the Lord echoed out of the churches open windows. My rear end was starting to move from sore to numb as the chill sank into my bones from sitting on the ground outside. She was anxiously glancing back and forth. She told me again she should not be here she was “drrrrunk”. She rolled her “R’s” as they do in the Afrikaans language. My heart went out to her.

We sat together there in the cold damp night, waiting for her to sober up or just gain the confidence to go inside the building. I was silently praying for her and she was feeling nervous about the church people’s reactions to her being drunk. I reassured her of our love for her. She repeated again that she should not be here, yet made no move to leave. 

She had followed me all the way up the winding dark streets from where she and her friends had been partying. All the while we kept chatting lightly as we walked.  She repeatedly told me that she should go back to the party, and yet we continued walking and chatting together as we headed up the hilly road towards the church. God was propelling her. I smiled as I watched her keep pace next to me.

God had placed her on my heart from the first day she arrived at the park where our mission’s team was working.  I spotted her standing towards the back of the ever growing numbers of teenagers and children who were coming out to the site. With her arms crossed, her face cynical and smug, she would stand and observe us. If you got to close, she side stepped you. If you reached out to give her a friendly pat on the arm, she made fists and darted. She smirked when we spoke and made fun of my American accent, but God nudged me and said,

”This one, love and pray especially for this one.”

It’s always amazing how God can place a love inside of us for someone we do not yet know personally. Or when He places a love in our hearts for someone who does what they can to be rude or dodge us like the plague.

 We shared some of the horror stories from our lives on that chilly evening. She allowed me to share with her how God brought love and healing into mine. We prayed together and still keep in touch. She still has an abundance of hardships to deal with in life, but I am confident of this.

God loves her. That she is beautiful and valued in God’s eyes whether or not she feels valued in her family. I pray for her protection and for God to guide her each week. I pray for healing for her heart and the strength to stand for what is true. I also pray that one day I can see her and give her a big hug again, I even long to hear her giggling as I try once again to pronounce her name correctly.

There are many of us who are in need of God’s love, forgiveness, grace and freedom, whether here in the States or halfway across the world. They are hiding behind tough exteriors, towering walls built from years of broken trust and open wounds, yet dying inside for someone who will care and be patient enough to love them out of from behind their walls.  

I have heard from quite a few people how they feel overwhelmed by the needs in our world. A friend of mine shared she did not know where to start and if she could truly make a difference. 

This brings me to this week’s challenge. Consider this phrase,

“Do for one what you wish you could do for all.”  

Friends, if you relate to this then, could you please pray and ask for the Lord to help you to see the “one” in your life? 

Couldn’t we all start there with just one person?
Ask the lord to help you to see the ways you can encourage and bless them and then do it. Don't think too long about it. Do not put it off till next week. Just do it.
Maybe it is someone in your neighborhood, a co-worker, or a person you have met where you volunteer. Perhaps God is leading you to support a child through Compassion International or World Vision. I encourage you to take the first step today and ask the Lord, “Who is your one?”

Then remember the words Bob Goff so aptly coined, 

“Love Does”. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”