38 articles Articles posted in About Me

A Full Heart

Over last weekend we successfully moved to downtown OKC – a little bit different than where we thought we were going to end up, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude where God put us in this season. We are living in apartments across the street from City Rescue mission, doing life with other believers, figuring out how we can serve and love our city, push back darkness and pursue Jesus. It’s been incredible and overwhelming. It’s rich and beautiful being in a community who have sacrificed to live lives of love, sharing, serving, and believing. Truly living out the Gospel and what it means to be the Church – The dream of Church that was deposited in me one year ago when I read this passage and caught it’s truth for the very first time:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Acts 4:32-35

It’s also a young mom’s dream – to live within steps of other moms for encouragement, support or relief. This is the way life should be. It felt so suffocating to be alone inside four walls of a house in a neighborhood, and even with all the efforts to step outside our walls, it never felt like enough. There was always something lacking.

Living in close proximity with other people, and especially other believers forces you to step outside yourself and your bubble to be accountable, refined and selfless in loving your neighbor. It’s only been 7 days, but feels like God has changed me so much already. I’m excited, and completely spilling over with the fullness of it all.

This is what we’re made for: We’re made to live for something bigger than ourselves, we’re made to give of ourselves for others – and hopefully by God’s grace, that’s why we are here, in a little apartment, in the broken, but beating heart of Oklahoma City.

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On a separate note, I did a little interview over at my new friend Shayla’s blog, complete with a picture of our old house that we are putting on the market to sell very soon – you can check it out here: Why Do You Blog?

How are you doing, friends?

The Theology of Enough

I have a hard time understanding how people who live with so much, as we do, think that they can get by without judgment when people live like this (at a Guatemala city dump). Some people choose poverty. But there are people right here next to us that have not chosen this. And if we turn our backs on them, we are turning our backs on Christ. -Rich Mullins

I want to talk about something that has been burning in my heart for a long time now. First let me give you some back story - For years I had the false mindset that the direct result of faith in God was prosperity, safety and comfort.

Then my husband went to Kenya, and God completely shattered that way of thinking. Kent saw people who had nothing, yet their faith in God was so rich, so beautiful, so sufficient – it wasn’t just something that fit neatly into their lives – Christ was EVERYTHING to them. Now I can see how spiritually poor I was compared to these amazing Christ followers. I had unknowingly made idols out of my comfort, my safety and my possessions.

So in the last 4 years, we have slowly down-sized our house size by 75%. We have pared down our possessions by giving things away. We live a bootstrapped life – we rarely go out to eat, we don’t go see movies or shows, don’t go on vacations, you get the point. All this to say, downsizing was something necessary for us to do so we could release our grip on self-gratification and material things. I don’t say this so you can pat us on the back, I don’t even share it with the hope that you will do the same. I simply invite you to dream with me for a moment.

Poverty was not created by God, but by you and me – because we have not learned to love our neighbor as ourselves. -Shane Claiborne

What if all who profess Christ and believe the Bible would actually do what it said? God is very clear about taking care of the poor, the widow and the orphan. God’s commands to Israel were so extensive that they were designed to eradicate poverty. (Deut. 15:4) God was then furious over Israel’s failure to care for the poor and the oppressed. (Isa. 58:1-3, 5-10)

In the book, The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne says, “We need neither the gospel of prosperity, nor the poverty gospel, but the gospel of abundance rooted in a theology of enough.” This is taken from Exodus where God commanded the Israelites to only gather what they could eat, and no more (Exo. 16:16) and of course from the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

There is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. -Gandhi

In the early days of Christianity, when there was not enough food for everyone to eat, the whole community fasted until all could come to the table together. This kind of boggles my mind. We are so far from this model of doing life with our brothers and sisters in our self-serving culture.

“Does God’s dream look like Wall Street?” If everyone lived the American dream, we’d need four more planets. Can the world really afford the patterns that we’re living in? -Shane Claiborne

The theology of enough. It is something that my husband and I are still working on – we still blow money on crap that we don’t necessarily need. But the hope is that the grip will loosen more and more.

God’s love for you and God’s love for the larger world in need cannot be separated. God’s longing to see you liberated for life that really is life can’t be neatly pulled apart from God’s longing to see the poor liberated for life that really is life. My friend Nate, who works with Compassion International, sees this pretty clearly. Nate will be the first one to tell you, “Compassion’s work, releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, is releasing me from wealth in Jesus’ name.” If your life is anything like mine, God longs to set you free from addiction to pleasure, appearances, busyness, consumption, envy, greed and self-absorption.  -Margot Starbuck

What are your thoughts, friends? Do you struggle in this area?

On Loving Your Neighbor

Can I just first admit that I’m not good at this? Loving your neighbor can be hard. It can push on selfish tendencies. Sometimes people you are trying to love will take advantage of you. Then the risk is to insulate yourself from people all together, so you aren’t ever wronged again. But Jesus didn’t say it would be easy. He didn’t even say that people will love you back. He just said to do it. And sometimes, loving hurts.

Like today when I felt completely vulnerable and taken advantage of by a stranger I was trying to love, trying to help, but felt like it completely backfired. It was a hard lesson – that in the process of loving, you can be left hurting. That’s why I feel like what Jesus teaches is SO upside down. He says to love those who might take advantage of you. Why? I’m reading through Luke right now and I just keep asking, why, why, WHY?

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? (from Matthew 5)

Coming off the high of Circles Conference, it was very difficult to get back into the rhythm of motherhood – especially because it’s been so dang hard lately. Both boys, at 2 and 3 are extremely high need, and high energy. I often wish I could just skip the hard part and go to the easy part (is there an easy part?), the more rewarding part.

My second born, at 2 years old.

Donald Miller tells the story of how he hiked to the city of Maccu Picchu. The hike was incredibly hard and painful. But the pain made the city more beautiful. The story made him a different character than had he had skipped the pain and showed up at the ending an easier way.

Our sweet neighbor and friend.

So sometimes the things most worth doing can be the most painful, but the most enriching, the most beautiful. Like marriage, kids, gosh-just relationships in general, faith, loving your neighbor – those are all really difficult – but it’s worth getting through the difficult parts because those are the things that make up a life well-lived. And I want to live life really well. I want to love my neighbor well. I want to serve my family with joy. It’s hard, and it hurts, but in the end, I just have to remind myself that it’s worth it. Because I honestly don’t really love this world as it is, but I love it enough to want to change it – and that starts with changing myself.

Thoughts?

Behnaz, Art & Freedom

I cringed when she began to rifle through my work. I wanted to melt into the cushy chair I was sitting in and become one with the upholstery. Her work has been compared to Francis Bacon for crying out loud, and here she was critiquing my art. There were a few I puffed my chest out on, awaiting a word of praise, but there was none. She didn’t say much at all. It was agonizing. Until she came to this piece, which I abhorred – in fact I wasn’t even sure why I brought it in the first place.

“This is good.”

Wait, what? Of all the examples I brought, she thought this one deserved the one and only accolade? And I slowly began to look at this painting with new eyes. I previously viewed it as a tragic mess, but she praised me for my “freedom” in it. Yes, I told her. That was one that I didn’t really care what the outcome was, I just did it in a way that felt like freedom at the time. But all I could see in the end were all the mistakes and not an ideal finished piece.

That hour I spent with a beautiful Iranian artist named Behnaz Sohrabian, I will never forget. Her with her thick Iranian accent, warm but firm rebukes, and humble offerings. Who’s work literally left me breathless when I saw it at an art gallery months ago. I toyed with the idea of asking her to mentor me – fully realizing what an extremely bold ask it was. I rustled up the courage and ended up emailing her and we met together twice.

I’ve always struggled with how art relates to my faith, and I now I realize I’ve been looking at it all wrong. Art is from God. Art is our search for beauty and meaning, and freedom. Art communicates God, whether the artist knows it or not. God in his symmetry, his perfection in composition, his color, His beauty, His wrath, His creation.

She told me, emphatically, in her beautiful Iranian accent, “Be a brave lady” and, “don’t be a coward.”

“Be free” she said, over and over, like a mantra. And somehow, this encounter with this artist and her art has leaked into my life as a whole and broken down walls that have been erected by false belief. Despite knowing better, I have always felt that I had to DO to EARN. That love was conditional based on what I did right and what I did wrong. It affected my relationship with God – I felt like if I had things together, he loved me – if I didn’t and life looked messy, surely he was mad at me.

Art by Behnaz Sohrabian

I had a lot to process on the way home from that meeting, and thankfully both my children were sleeping so I could get out my journal and try to write everything down. Then my sweet husband – not knowing anything about the experience I just had – corrected me about something I’d done wrong. Well, in my current state, all I could say was, “I don’t want to hear that right now.” I told him to give me a few minutes and I walked into my 1.5 year olds room, where he had just woken up from his nap. He looked at me with the sweetest love in his eyes, and at that moment, I broke. The tears came. I let God do a work in me. I realized in that moment that freedom is not just about an ideal state of living – it’s about knowing that you are loved, despite your flaws and imperfections. And in that moment, I understood how God sees me – because you see, He knows I’m flawed. He knows that sometimes I’m angry, prideful, unforgiving, unloving, a broken person – but a broken person who has accepted healing, redemption, and freedom.

I love that God doesn’t stop making us. We are constantly being created by our experiences, relationships, and circumstances (good and bad). And I love how God sets up meetings like the one I had with a lady from Iran, who taught me my biggest lesson about freedom.

Speaking at Circles Conference

Circles Conference is coming up in just a few short weeks. I’m excited to hear from amazing designers I respect and admire – Promise Tangeman, Cameron Moll, Blaine Hogan, Kyle Steed, and more. My talented friend Ismael Burciaga from Oven Bits is organizing this 2-day conference as a non-technical meetup for creatives. I love the format.

When: September 20-21, 2012

Where: at Palace Arts Theater in Grapevine, Texas

Cost: $225

I’ll be speaking on the topic, Work, Art & Purpose – get your tickets everyone, this will probably go down in history as the longest I’ve ever talked on anything. It will be good though. I’m excited.

Let me know in the comments if you are coming and let’s arrange a meetup!

A New Adventure

Thought I’d let you in on some personal news – we are moving. To a neighborhood referred by our friends as the “Shartel neighborhood”, known in other circles as “The Jungle.” Blocks away from the OKC’s downtown homeless shelter, the Shartel neighborhood is home to crackpots, prostitutes and drug dealers. It’s what author Shane Claiborne would call, “an abandoned place of empire” – neglected by the city and forgotten.

I’ve had this up on my chalkboard wall for some time now. And I imagine if Jesus were to walk in my living room and tell me to come follow him, he would most likely take me to a place like the one I just described. But I’m getting ahead of myself – here is how it all went down.

I can only explain it as a call. One that I wasn’t expecting nor did I really welcome at the time. For a few years I have been challenged in my thinking of what it means to be a Christian. And I have a confession. I’ve grown pretty tired of mainstream American, evangelical Christianity. Maybe it’s how safe and boring we are. Maybe it’s because we don’t really live out the Gospel. Maybe it’s just because we don’t really know Jesus, or maybe it’s because we don’t want to give up anything to do what He says.

If we read the Bible, we see that He was kind of a wild man – he took risks, he was a friend of sinners, he met the needs of the poor and oppressed, he rebuked religious people, he told stories, he was radical. And, in the words of Rich Mullins, “I think when we identify with Christ, when we take on the name of Christ, when we become a Christian, I think that means that our lives should be infused with the character of Christ. And the character of Christ is that of a wildly, ridiculously generous and compassionate Man.”

The moment I knew we were supposed to move in the little, rundown, ugly 750 sq. foot house, I immediately began a dialogue in my head of all the reasons why we couldn’t, shouldn’t, and why I just plain didn’t want to. I’d grown comfortable in our beautiful mid-town home and didn’t have any intention of leaving. I didn’t share any of this with my husband until a week later.

Well, I couldn’t shake it, so I let the cat out of the bag and told him what I was feeling. Let’s just say about 36 hours later he was telling me, yes, we should do it. I began to regret sharing it and proceeded to have about 24 hours of complete crazy talk in my head – questioning the very basis of my faith, wondering what in the world we were getting ourselves into, knowing our friends, and quite possibly our family might think we are insane. I felt depressed and completely wanted to shoo the whole idea off a cliff and forget the whole thing ever happened. I prayed. I wrestled with God in my prayers. I asked for confirmation. Anything. And after I’d said all I could, I felt that we should just simply, come.

That’s all I needed. It reminded me of a verse and some words that resonated with me months ago -

Therefore let us go to Him outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. Hebrews 13:13

Jesus is not standing back saying, “Go there.” He’s saying, I’m out here! You’re in there where it’s so comfortable. It’s so safe inside the church, inside your house. I’m out here! Come to me.  -John Piper

I could cry writing this, because now I’m so eager to just sell all my stuff and go. I know it will only be a step on a long journey. I know we will make mistakes. I know we are going into this naive and unprepared. But like Abraham, he had faith in God that when He called him into “a land he knew not,” he would provide.

Community
We won’t be doing this alone. For at least a year I’ve been hungry for that biblical community that is mentioned in Acts 2 and 4. I’ve never truly experienced it before in my decades in the church. God has led us to a community of people – at least 50 of them – young families, singles, entrepreneurs, business people – people that are crazy enough to live like Jesus. With the same goals and passions – living in biblical community, loving and building relationships with people, seeking after peace in the city, restoring the broken places, creating beauty, pointing people to the true Rescuer.

But to be honest, I’m simply going to meet Jesus. Because the call is to come, and I know I will find Him there. And most likely I will meet Him in disguises, much like I’ve found Him in the homeless that I’ve encountered here in mid-town.

Bottom line, I can’t continue life the way I have been for the last 20 years. Because the life I imagine worthwhile, is the one where I give it away. And I don’t think it’s any accident that this is all coming about before my 30th birthday. It feels like a new time. New faith, new adventure, and a new calling.

I leave you with some quotes that have fueled my quest and journey for the last year, and I hope that maybe, just maybe you might also hear the call to “come.”

My desire and prayer for you is that your life have a radical flavor. A risk-taking flavor. A gutsy, counter-cultural, flavor to it that makes the average, prosperous, Americans in your church feel uncomfortable. A pervasive summons to something more and something hazardous and something wonderful. A saltiness and brightness, something like the life of Jesus.
- John Piper

Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.
- Rich Mullins

We are called by Jesus to give up everything. His call is to come. When Jesus calls us to take up our cross, He is doing much more than calling us to endure the daily, circumstantial troubles of life. It is a call to radical faith. Jesus is calling us to be willing to suffer anything and forsake everything for the sake of the Gospel. To consider everything a loss for his sake.
- Francis Chan

It’s about learning to live the kingdom and to create pathways for others to experience it with you. Throughout the scriptures, we see God calling his followers to live a life of “sentness.” Stability, social comfort, relational control, safety, success, respect, or clarity were not expected. Outcome didn’t matter: faithfulness did.
(from the book, The Tangible Kingdom)

Being a Christian is about choosing Jesus and deciding to do something incredibly daring with your life. // Rather than waiting around for God’s special plan for your life, you should just go find where God is at work and join in. // Jesus is not seeking distant acts of charity, but concrete acts of love. // While the ghettos have their share of violence and crime, the suburbs are the home of more subtle demonic forces – numbness, complacency, comfort – that can eat away at our souls. // It is risky but we are people of faith, believing that giving is more contagious than hoarding, that love can cover hatred, light can overcome darkness, grass can pierce concrete. This is precisely what we commit our lives to. // He dares and woos us to come and follow, take up our cross, to lose your life to find it.
- Shane Claiborne

Calcuttas are everywhere if we only have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.
- Mother Teresa

Cruelty, devastation, death – this is what happens when God’s compassion and love leave a place. It is when people do not allow God to show up through them, that the world collapses in on itself.
- Don Miller

I’ve realised, that it’s not at all, and never was, about how much you have. Because in actual fact it means nothing at all. Nothing, nothing, nothing at all. It doesn’t add to your peace or your joy or your love. And that’s all that matters. To live selflessly, to live for another is not only so fulfilling but just so FUN.
- Unknown

My Lately

I can’t believe it, the summer is almost over. I have a lot to share with you – things I’ve been thinking, and things I’ve been working on.

I’ve been painting some rooms in our house. That has been time consuming, but rewarding in it’s completion. We love our 80 year old house in midtown, but beige walls were everywhere when we moved in, and well, I like color. So now the living room is midnight blue, the laundry room is a cool mint, the dining room is a grey-white. It makes such a difference.

I’ve been doing some art experiments on balsa wood. It’s nice to try out a different element for a canvas.  It’s super absorbent, so it lends an interesting effect.

I also made a few of the earrings I create to sell in a local boutique and used balsa wood and 3-d paint for the packaging. Did you know you can cut balsa wood with scissors? Fun stuff.

I’ve unplugged more from social media – I feel like it’s such a time suck and really cuts down on my own productivity. It’s nice to have less noise and clutter.

Trying new projects like this small clay vessel imprinted with a lace pattern. I’m loving creating little vignettes in my home that offer bits of beauty and serenity – away from the legos, cars and nerf guns that proliferate on the floors.

I’m prepping for my conference talk that is happening in just a few short months. I’m excited, but I’m also nervous and have lots of doubts that this SAHM has anything worthwhile to say.

But mostly, I’m reading. I’m waiting. I’m pondering things about faith, church and art. Reading books like the Tangible Kingdom and learning about incarnational community and being missional and realizing that I need to be completely immersed in God to pull anything like that off. Bonhoeffer’s works, and Tozer that completely mess me up – in a good way. Interesting reads, like A.J. Jacobs A Year of Living Biblically. They challenge my thinking and cause me to ask questions.

So there ya go, and those are all reasons this blog has been a bit quiet lately. :) Not to mention enjoying my summer with the two best little boys around. But I hope to be writing more about things…in the meantime, I will be hosting a summer giveaway tomorrow – so stay tuned!

Celebrating 8 Years

I married my husband 8 years ago today, June 13th. I had the idea to put this little thing together months ago, because I thought it would be fun to see the impact of what we’ve done together. And because numbers really fascinate me. I’m not good at numbers, but they still fascinate me.

For us, since we live and work together, sometimes it seems as if we’ve been married much longer. I’d like to think we are in a pretty good place after 8 years. This year we’ve undergone so much growth and transformation, not just as a couple, but also as individuals. I’m learning that my marriage is something that refines me. I’m learning that forgiveness is key. I’m learning to have grace for him, and for myself. You’d think I’d have all these things down after 8 years, but it’s still a work in progress. :) And I can say, that through all this, I still love him earnestly.

Eight years seems like a long time, but in perspective, we still could have 65+ more years together if we both make it to our 90′s. What a thought that is! We’ll be old and wrinkly and probably still doing things like dominating bumper cars at an amusement park, or going laser tagging.

Happy Anniversary, Kent Shaffer. I love you.

 

 

My Heart-pounding Adventure

I’ve been loving photography lately. I’ve been loving adventure too. The two work so well together. Like last week when we went off the beaten path during a camping trip and discovered this old abandoned farm house that was so mysterious and so alluring – I just had to go in and take photos.

My husband and kids waited safely in the car while I ran with my little heart pounding towards the forsaken dwelling. I chuckled to myself at my silly misdemeanor as I crawled through the open window and my foot landed on a broken piece of glass and it cracked under my weight. Don’t get injured, I said to myself – the husband will never let you do this again!

The house was well lit from all the open windows – I was momentarily disgusted by all the bird poop that littered the floor – then disgust was quickly displaced by anxiety, seeing all the many hornets nests nestled on the walls. A quick look over and I regained my composure when I saw that they were currently uninhabited.

The wind was blowing through the house from all the broken windows and open doors, creating an eery feeling while the curtains blew outward, giving the illusion of life. The textures were deep, the colors muted, from the years of vacancy and neglect. I began to snap photos.

I moved carefully through the rooms, taking it all in. If these walls could talk…I wondered what type of people inhabited these walls and the stories they would tell. Despite the decades of decomposure, it was obvious that it was a beautiful home in it’s prime.

One of the more dangerous looking rooms was the bathroom, so I kept my distance while taking photos. Then I heard a startling rustle and my heart about leaped out of my throat – and I saw a large creature scurry across the floor and disappear in a dark hole. My hand flew to my heart in some instinctive attempt to calm the beats. I was relieved it was an animal, not a human that was fixing to shoot me for trespassing on their private property.

I rushed through the house, trying to be fast since my escape car was waiting for me with my family inside. I heard my name being called. I took one last shot and exited where I came in. This time avoiding the glass.

I broke in to a run and at the same time noticed the sound of  a herd of hooves coming my direction. I looked over my shoulder and sure enough, the farms only occupants, a couple dozen head of cattle began running towards me. My pace quickened across the field of grass, dodging cow patties as I went. I scaled the metal gate and flipped my body around to see how close they had come. They had stopped in a full afront and were now quietly staring me down as if to bid me a somber farewell and let me know that I would not be welcome again. And of course, I took a photo.

I think this stay-at-home mother of two needs to get out more.

 

Farming Artist: Samantha Lamb

I met an artist when I was working at Anthropologie a few months back, her name is Samantha Lamb. Born and raised here in Oklahoma, she now lives and works on a farm in the town of Hobart, a couple hours away from the city. Her everyday life is fascinating, her photography work is dreamy and magical, and this lady is by far probably the most interesting person I know.

(Above photos by Samantha Lamb)

She generously shared her day with us this last Monday and showed us around her farm, affectionately named Early Bird Acres. I wanted to share a little bit of our day with you here, and maybe you will be inspired to see agrarian beauty in a whole new light.

The closer we got to Sam’s place, the more the views looked like this. Nothing but wheat fields for miles and miles. I stopped on the side of the road and took photo after photo and marveled at the quietness – you could only hear birds chirping – and of course my two boys loudly declaring that they, too wanted to get out of the car. :)

It was really beautiful in the simplest way. Oklahoma may not have really epic views or wonders of nature compared to other states, but you can still appreciate the natural rolling plains and flat fields. Yes, God sometimes is a minimalist.

Sam’s adorable farmhouse in seafoam blue where she’s made her home for the last three years. My boys seemed quite at home here. Perhaps they have a future in agriculture.

My friend Mandy came with her 4 kiddos, and we had such a good time picking radishes from Sam’s garden. We came right before harvest, and I’m so glad we didn’t miss the majestic stalks of golden wheat rising from the earth.

Sam raises lots of different animals on her farm – sheep, chickens, cows, ducks, and even a rooster named Charles. She names all her animals, and speaks loving words every morning as she tends to them.

There is an adorable guest cottage on the property, full of antique furniture, old books, the quaintest bed and even a vintage organ.

After picnicking beneath her pecan tree, we headed out to the cow pasture where Sam rode her 4-wheeled steed to lure Ohio the cow in for a visit. Her beloved dogs Harold and Rosie joined in for the fun.

We were eager to meet this famous cow that is expecting a calf very soon.

Lots of running and exploring.

My oldest boy riding “Smoothie” the vintage tractor. As much as he loved the animals, the tractor was his favorite thing on the farm. I think he looks the part!

All in all, it was such a wonderful trip. Sam was the most gracious and sweet hostess. To learn more about this talented lady, you can read this incredible interview from 20 Something Magazine. Thank you Sam for the great day and the wonderful memories!