Monday, November 29, 2010

Vampires for Africa

This post is written all-in-good-fun and is in no way meant to offend. The party specifically mentioned has given her express permission to be poked fun of.

If you have known me any length of time or have ever been around me when the topic of the Twilight series (sorry - "saga") comes up, then you know that I am vehemently opposed to reading those books. Ever. It's not that I think the books are evil or amoral. I don't have something against vampires or teen romance (well, maybe a tiny bit on that last one). I simply refuse to be associated with the crazed fans of Twilight - neither the screaming teenage girls or the age-inappropriate, not-so-secretly-swooning grown women. Nothin' doin'. Not now, not ever.

Well. Cue the exception to the aforementioned declaration: I love orphans more than I hate Twilight and I have a very devious best friend who just happens to be one of the crazed fanatics mentioned above. So, when I sent out a letter telling my friends and family that I would be looking for creative ways to raise money for my Uganda mission trip, unbeknownst to me, my fate was sealed. 

For two years, my "best friend" (hereafter refereed to as "The Devious One") has badgered me with pleas to read Twilight. My response was always, "Not gonna happen." To which she would respond, "Will there ever be anything that could get you to read it?" 

Knowing that, while devious, my best friend is not likely to cause me bodily harm to get me to read a book, I would reply, "If I am ever on bed-rest, I might-maybe-could-possibly be talked into reading it, otherwise - forget it." 

Then one fateful day, The Devious One laced her pleas with guilty-ridden whispers of, "If you were really my best friend, you would read this book. It would mean so much to me and I'm asking you to do me this one favor - as my friend." This went on for fifteen straight minutes until the desperate entreaties ringing in my ears had to be stopped at all costs. In a frantic huff, I agreed to read the first five chapters - one for each year of best-friendship. The Devious One however, was only momentarily satisfied and I could see in her eyes that she would not settle for only this.

Then, before I knew what had happened, The Devious One was offering me financial support for my Uganda trip if I read the entire Twilight book. (How's that for creative?) Now the whispers rang with words of, "How much do you really want to go to Uganda and work with those orphans? Enough to read Twilight???"

The Devious One's schemes have worked and after two years, she has finally discovered a way to force my hand into reading Twilight. However, before I start this venture, I am looking for a few more Twilight die-hards to join in The Devious One in sponsoring my reading of this much despised book. I know there are a number of you who know exactly how deep my distaste goes (J.S., S.H., J.D. - you know who you are), so this is your chance to prove to me how wonderful this book is. Any takers?

If so, leave me a comment saying you'll sponsor me on this devious challenge of madness, then go to and click “Donate” in the upper right hand corner. (Specify the donation for my trip – “March 18-27, 2011, Uganda Trip” and designate the funds to “Jennifer Hanson”). All gifts are tax deductible.

Check back here for an update on my progress - I'll let you know when I start and what I think once I'm finished. 

It's on.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Julia-ism

Julia-isms: funny saying from my baby sister

In honor of "Turkey-Day," I will bestow upon you this little gem...

On the way to church one Sunday, Julia was sitting in the back of the van singing "Hush Little Baby" to her doll. However, her rendition of the classic nursery rhyme was a little... well... unique:
"Hush little baby don't you cry,
Mama's gonna buy you a turkey.
And if that turkey doesn't die,
Mama's gonna buy you an oven." 

Laughter - something I'm thankful God has blessed us with. 
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy those turkeys, but I do not recommend given them to your babies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What if Christmas is more than we've made it?

In light of the fact that many people will be running out to hit all the post-Thanksgiving sales this weekend, I thought I'd share this video. I saw this for the first time two years ago and still get chills every time I watch it. Something to think about as you brave the Black Friday crowds this long weekend...

(For some ideas on meaningful gift-giving, check out this post.)

Monday, November 22, 2010


It always amuses me to hear my dad explain how he became the father of five kids. He likes to say that he started out wanting two kids and that my mom talked him into a third and then God talked him into adopting a forth... but then God dropped two little girls "temporarily" into our laps instead. (read that story here)

Today, my family joyfully celebrates my sisters' six-year adoption anniversary. For the occasion, I thought it would be fun to share some thoughts I wrote shortly after my sisters were adopted - a little glimpse into my mind as I processed the new additions to our family.

by Jennifer Robison
January 28, 2005

My parents are adopting a little girl. I can’t wait! I’m the oldest and only daughter- I’ve always wanted a little sister to spoil. I’ll dress her in pretty dresses with bows and frills. I’ll buy her dolls and do her hair…

Then again… maybe I like being the only girl. It after all, has its benefits. There’s only so much room on daddy’s little finger.

Less room. Let room in the house, less room in my parent’s hearts, less room in the car on cross-country road trips.

Less time. More stress. Less money. More noise.

Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.

What? Two? Two! There are two of them now?

Two little girls. Two under the age of two. Twice the time, half the space. Two times the diapers, two times the work.

Wait a minute! I’m twenty-one years old! I’ll be over the hill by the time they enter high school! Let’s look at this logistically- I’m away at college. I’ll never get to know them. I’ll be known as “that’s sister of ours far away in college.” That hardly seems fair. Perhaps we should send them back.

But back to where? They have no other place to go. When I imagine what their lives would be like if they did go back… No pressure or anything, but the fate of these little girls lives lies in your hands!

Life might be less complicated without them…but would it be better? It would be a lot quieter without their constant chatter, without their contagious laughter. 

This would be easier if they weren’t so darn cute!

What harm would it really do if they stayed? They need us... and maybe we need them too.

We’re their second chance. And they’re our chance to make a difference; to do something really worthwhile with our lives.

Less room? Less room for selfish motives.

Time? More time to put someone else before myself.


Two. Two more hugs in the morning, two more kisses at night.

Two little girls.

Two precious lives that I have the opportunity to influence.

Two precious hearts I have the chance to fill with love.

Two precious souls that I have responsibility to impact for eternity.

How could I say no to that?

Christmas 2008

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Uganda or Bust" Garage Sale

Garage sales are an interesting breed ain't they? You never know what you'll find or the types of folks who will show up. The "Uganda or Bust" garage sale that Devin and I had this past weekend was no exception.

The generously donated items given to us by our amazing friends and family

Thank you to my brother and sister-in-law for allowing us to invade their always pristine garage for two days.

It was interesting to sort through the collection of items that people donated for our sale - clothing styles spanning (at least) two decades, workout tapes that - despite the best of intentions - never seemed to make it out of the box, brand new books and some well-loved, along with all sorts of odds and ins - all with a story. There was one particular set of male unmentionables that certainly must have had a story behind (ahem) them and I was glad the family member or friend whom they belonged to remained anonymous. 

The variety of people who show up for garage sales are even more interesting. I think we met the best and the worst of the garage-sale junkie bunch during our sale. One sweet lady didn't buy anything, but gave us $5.00 for our trip anyways. Another gal, after talking us down $8.00 in price, returned almost immediately and paid the full price when she realized the sale was to fund a mission trip. People are so nice sometimes. Other times however... $20.00 microwaves go missing and Tasmanian devils disguised as middle-aged women tear apart all of your neatly organized clothing piles, buy one shirt and leave the mess all over the garage without a second glance. ::HUFF::

But then, sometimes God shows up and puts things in perspective while teaching you a lesson on provision...

The missing microwave incident had just been discovered and Devin was trying to re-organize the clothing disaster when a lady showed up and began chatting with him about our trip. He found out that she just happens to be an advocate for Compassion International. And of course, a huge part of the reason we are going to Uganda in the first place is to meet our Compassion sponsor children! How's that for God dropping some encouragement in your lap just at the right time? But it gets better (as it often does with God-stories), she gave us a $45.00 donation for our trip just because she was so excited that we get to meet our girls. Wowzer  - what a blessing! And what a cool way for God to provide for the stolen microwave and then some!

All in all, we raised nearly $700 through the sale. Which means that the extra travels costs for our Compassion girls to meet up with us are more than covered, along with the supplies we'll be bringing for the orphanages. God is so faithful.

Thank you so much to all our generous family and friends who donated items for our sale. We appreciated this blessing so much! (And thank you to my dear, sweet husband who did the majority of the work planning and running the garage sale! You are amazing.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy National Adoption Day!

Katie (3), Julia (2)
On November 22, my family will celebrate the six-year anniversary of the adoption of my little sisters Katelyn and Julia. The girls were two and three years old when they were adopted and they remember the day quite well, so their anniversary is celebrated much like a birthday in our family. I am so grateful that God brought my sisters into our family! I can not imagine our lives without them.

I remember when my dad first called a "family conference" to discuss the possibly of starting the adoption process. Together the five of us (my parents,my two younger brothers and I) weighed the "pros and cons" of adoption. The pros were easy - we'd get a cute new sibling and give that child a forever family. The drawbacks were less time, less money, less space, more work, more patience, more sharing... that list just seemed to go on and on.

After we spent a while laying out these challenges, my dad very gently asked us one simple question. A question that still comes to my mind when making a decision that requires me to sacrifice something for another. He simply asked, "Can anyone think of an unselfish reason not to do this?" We could not.

Then seven and a half years ago, my mom got a call from our caseworker for an emergency placement of two baby girls (6 and 19 months). They were to be dropped off at our house within a few hours, but would only need a place to stay for two weeks. One and a half years later, our whole family (and a number of our extended family) went to the courthouse and made the "temporary two-week placement" officially-official-forever.

I am so glad that my parents followed God's command to care for the orphans in this way. Adoption -  the wonderful and the difficult - has been such a blessing in our family. Thanks to my parent's example, adoption is now something that my husband and I also plan to make part of our family story in the future. 

Julia (6), Kate (7)
Julia (7), Katie (8)
Our Forever Family

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - James 1:27

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Letters That Make a Difference

I started Goal #57 this week - Write my Compassion sponsor children once a month for a year.

Compassion International started an initiative that I stumbled across recently (perfect timing I'd say) that asks child sponsors to write their children on the second Friday of every month. I have been a sponsor for four years, but I never truly grasped how deeply important sponsor letters are to a child in the Compassion program. The letters these children receive from their sponsors are often the only words of encouragement that those children ever receive and you can not believe how deeply wounded they are when they do not receive a letter on delivery day. Yes, there is a delivery day. Which means that all the children line up at the Compassion centers and hope (a word so foreign to most of them) that their name will be called and that their sponsor has remembered them. When their name is not called and they walk away empty handed... my heart aches just thinking about that kind of disappointment. (Read a beautiful story about delivery day here.)

I was the kind of sponsor that wrote my kids when they wrote me, but never really made a huge effort beyond that. I loved getting letters from my two girls but was really challenged recently to invest into their lives even more, so I committed to Second Fridays as a way of engaging Goal #57. Wouldn't you know that just days after I made that commitment, I received a letter from my oldest sponsor child that just melted my heart. Here is a little excerpt:

"I have written this letter to thank you for paying my school fees and to tell you about my school because I love it. I greatly thank you for my schooling because if it wasn't for your paying, I don't know anybody who would have done it. I do even thank God who joined us together because it was because of the love he has for me. Most of the young people going to school are in Compassion because most of the have no parents like me and others are abandoned by their parents when they are still young so they live hopeless, not ever thinking that there is someone thinking about their well-being. They don't even know that just a prayer for them can make a change, so I do really thank you and God who have loved me. You are trying to make me be somebody in the future." - Nazziwa, 19 years old

Wow. Just... wow. 

So here is my challenge for any of you sponsors out there:  Write your kids. It means more to them then you could imagine.

If you can't afford to be a sponsor, but your heart aches for those little empty hands on delivery day, consider being coming a Word Sponsor. You get to write to children who have financial sponsors, but whose sponsors can't write them (example, I know of a guy who has 60 sponsor children through Compassion, I'm guessing he would need to take advantage of the help of Word Sponsors).

Lastly, I saw this video about the impact sponsors can have on a child. It interviews past sponsor children who are adults now. Incredible. Watch it. (pretty please)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Radical Lab Rats

*Part Nine of the Radical Read-Along with Marla Taviano

Well, I and all my world-wide-web reading buddies have made it through the last chapter in Radical. I am one part relieved to be finished, one part excited about all I learned and one part scared to death because now that I'm done reading, I have to actually do something with what I've learned. I am reminded of the very first quote I pulled from the book way-back-when in chapter one:

“My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus’ words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to him.” (page 3)

Reading Radical was quite the eye-opening journey and now that it's over, it seems it's actually just beginning. In the final chapter, Platt challenges readers to put his theory that something is wrong with American Christianity to the test through The Radical Experiment - five challenges, one year and a life turned upside down (or right side up?).

Being a "detail-oriented-doer-type" myself, I really appreciate that Platt didn't just offer a critique of the Christian version of the American Dream, but actually gave a clearly mapped out process for changing it. Here is the Experiment's challenge and here is my take on each point:

1. Pray for the Entire World
This one seems overwhelming for sure, but the simple idea behind it is that if a whole ton of people prayed for a whole ton of people to go and minister to every place on earth, then we would see a huge awakening. It's based in the idea of "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, so ask God to send workers" (Luke 10:2). There is a great resource that Platt mentions here that helps to break down the task of praying for the entire world into little bites at a time. 

I hate to admit it, but I've never been much of a prayer. I think it's just a spiritual discipline I missed learning somewhere along the way, so the idea of praying for the entire world was incredible to me. But the "bit by bit" approach is something I think I can do if I commit to it and assume that this would be a great way for me to start learning how to really pray.
2. Read Through the Entire Word
The challenge is (and it makes perfect sense) that if we started reading through the Word of God every day (along with praying for the nations) then God's heart for the lost and His will for our lives would be so clear and so deeply rooted in us that the next three steps of this Experiment would easily fall into line with our changed hearts.

I was raised in the church, I've called my faith my own since middle school and I have read a good portion of the Bible. But I have never actually read the whole thing, which I find ridiculous since I say I believe this Word which I've never gotten around to reading. I want to know God's heart better and I know that time in His Word is the best way to do that - I just have to be disciplined enough to do it. 
3. Sacrifice Your Money for a Specific Purpose 

This challenge is exactly what it sounds like - live on less and sacrifice more so that you can invest in a gospel-focused ministry.

There are a number of purposes that Devin and I already sacrifice our money for (most of them focusing on ministry to the poor and orphaned) and when I read this challenge I thought, "What if I've already sacrificed, but am to the point where living this "sacrificial" way is the norm? Do I sacrifice even more?"

We live on one income and still give much of it away, we drive one car (one very old car) and live in an older apartment with old, second-hand furniture and have no plans to buy a house in the near further. We live a lifestyle that many reading Radical would consider already "radically downsized." So I was feeling pretty good about this particular challenge. Then I came across this: Who Are the Joneses?  and realized I am still living in luxury and still have plenty of abundance to share.

4. Spend Your Time in Another Context
This challenge involves the importance of serving others and sharing the gospel in another country. While Platt doesn't suggest that you have to go on a mission trip to be a "good" Christian (because that would ostracizes every Christian living in poverty who is unable to afford a mission trip), he does speak to the importance of the experience of seeing and serving people in another cultural context than your own. 

Again, I thought, "Right on! We are going to Uganda in March - score one for the Hansons!" But then I read this article: When Helping Hurts which cautions about short-term missions trips and now I'm all sorts of turned around.

5. Commit Your Life to a Multiplying Community

The final challenge for the Radical Experiment is to invest in your local community and do this with/through your church family. 

This is a complicated one for us for many reasons that I can't really go into, but I will say that we are making steps to engage in the needs of our local community and bring our church along with us. That's all I can really say at this point.

*  *  *

So that's the challenge presented by the Radical Experiment. For those of us who have gone through the Radical Read Along together, we are probably all wondering the same thing - who's in and who's not? 

I look at the five points listed above and think, "Yes! I want to do this, I know I should do this and I know God can help me do this! I know I will be forever changed if I do this!" And then there is the "Buuuttt..." that lingers in my mind. This is a huge, life-alter, turn-me-upside-down-and-inside-out kind of commitment and I won't lie to you - I kinda rushed through reading this chapter. I want to commit to this, but I don't want to do it just because I feel like it's "the thing to do." My heart is (amazingly enough even after all this stretching and growing) not in the right place, my motivations aren't entirely pure. They are laced with peer-pressure and in-the-moment-excitement. This is a big deal and I want to take it seriously. 

I think that yes, my husband and I will very likely commit to this Experiment (or some similar variation of it) but right now, I've got to pray that God will bring my heart to the right place and make sure that I've got the right focus before diving in. I've got to seriously discuss it with my husband. Otherwise, if the commitment isn't genuine, I know that my motivation will just fade off along with my commitment. This challenge is something I really want to allow into my life and it's too important to halfheartedly commit to.

So that's where I'm at. Thank you to all who shared your heart and your stories during this journey - it has been a pleasure to take a little peek into your world.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Another goal checked off my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here.

Goal #18 COMPLETE: Attend five plays, musicals, or symphonies

When I wrote this goal I thought, Okay I can complete this in 1001 days if I see one show every six months. Well. What I should have foreseen was that once this former theater addict returned to her artsy narcotics, there was no turning back. Seven months and five shows later, a goal that was mapped out for six months is completed. I just couldn't get enough and snapped up every opportunity to see a show that I could find. Best part - two of the five performances were completely F-R-E-E. 

To finish out this goal, Devin and I attended a free concert courtesy of the Chandler Symphony Orchestra. We were joined by our superbly classy friends Megan, Brian, Jamie, Ben, Julie and Blake. (Okay honestly, I was shocked that we had such a large turn out. My friends are more sophisticated than I gave them credit for.)

The symphony was beautiful and when those first few notes left the musician's instruments, I felt so in awe that music even exists. How and why God create the ability to arrange random sounds into such inspiring melodies is beyond me, but I am so glad He did - it was incredibly generous of Him.

I loved every performance we saw throughout this goal and even though it is checked off the list, this junkie is already keeping a (frugal) eye out for where to get my next fix...

Check around your area for local symphonies - many of them offer free shows or preview nights every now-and-again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

All I Want for Christmas Is...

The pumpkin spice lattes are here, the apple cider candles are burning and the Christmas displays have been moved to the forefront of the stores. Christmas is in the November air and if you are like me, you've already started thinking about Christmas shopping.

Honestly, there is very little that I or the recipients of my gifts actually need. Especially when I compare my "needs" with the needs of the world's poor. It makes me feel almost guilty about receiving more stuff-I-don't-need just for the sake of a Christmas tradition. But at the same time, there is something special about giving gifts to your loved ones on Christmas - it is part of the joy of the holiday. That's why I've come up with what I think will be a wonderful new Christmas tradition - one filled with a much deeper level of joy. This year, many of my gifts will benefit not only the recipient, but also someone in need. It's like a double-giving gift.

Additionally, it is a beautiful display of the true meaning of Christmas. On the day we remember the gift that God gave us - the gift of salvation and a gift that we are to share with others - how appropriate to do something similar with our own gift-giving?

For example, I'm buying my one-year-old nephews shoes from The shoes are adorable and will help fund a life-saving heart surgery for children in Iraq (they have adult sizes too). I know the boys will grow out of them quickly, but they’ll grow out of whatever I give them so I might as well give them something that helps someone in need verses helping... like, Target. (Check out how these shoes are made by watching the video on the home page - it is fascinating!)

Below are some other places where I've found some great double-giving gift ideas. I hope that you'll considering some of these as you put your Christmas shopping list together. If you have any more ideas as to where to buy gifts that benefit someone in need - please give us a link in the comment section!

World Craft Village, Build a Nest and Global Goods Partners have huge selections of jewelry, home decor, clothing and kitchenware. These are all fair-trade organizations and purchases help to provide sustainable income for artisans in poverty-stricken countries

World Concern has a Global Gift Guide that allows you to purchase, say, a goat or a chicken, for someone in a third-world country. How cool is that? Consider giving this in honor of a loved one, or putting it on your own Christmas Wish List (I know I have!)

147 Million Orphans sells these gorgeous magazine bead necklaces (I'm sporting mine in this photo - I absolutely love it!). Purchasing one of these necklaces not only provides income for the women in Uganda, Africa who make them, but 50% of the proceeds go to Amazima Ministries' feeding program, which provides meals for some of the poorest families in Uganda. 

Thinking about getting something from Bath & Body Works? Why not check out The Body Shop's stop sex trafficking hand lotion?

A few more great gifts that help women come out of prostitution are these gorgeous pajama pants or some of these items which are handmade by human traffic survivors. 

Lastly, as you might remember from this post, I am also selling beaded crosses to help feed the children in Amazima's program. The 3.5" crosses make perfect Christmas ornaments and then can be displayed in the home throughout the year. Click here for more information.

Can't wait to hear some more ideas from all of you! Let me know if you use any of these items for you Christmas List.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Risky Obedience

*Part Eight of the Radical Read-Along with Marla Taviano
In the past few months, since really taking a hard, Biblical look at my faith and how it does (or doesn't) affect my life, I've received some "comments of concern" from some well-intending people in my life (all of whom I love very much). Many of the comments revolve around my desire to clear my life of much of the materialistic clutter I've acquired and spend my time and resources to the benefit others instead. I can't imagine the feathers I'd ruffle if I were to actually put my life on the line for Christ, rather than just my checkbook and time.

Shoot! I'd ruffle my feathers. Because I hate to say it, but I am still struggling deeply with the idea of intentionally putting myself in a place of real-life-threatening danger for the sake of the Gospel. I just plain don't want to do it and I am ashamed and frightened that this is the status of my heart. I am under construction and this is one area of my heart that I haven't really allowed God to get His hands on until very, very recently so I'm still having a hard time with it has He molds my perceptive. 

I've begun to realize that I have very eagerly bought into the modern, unbiblical idea that God wants His children safe - the whole "the safest place to be is in the center of God's will" idea. While I think the statement true, the self-persevering sentiment behind it is false. Because I think my view of "safe" is much different than God's view. God's will is safe not because it is happy, comfortable and easy, but because it is buffered by eternal security so that even when we loose our lives for His glory, we are eternally safe in His grace through our salvation.  

Yet, even as I type this, I struggle to live that way myself. I know it in my head, I can even articulate the idea well with words, but my actions seem to show that I am only partially believing it.

I've thought so often that if something is tough, or I don't like it, then surely God isn't behind it. I've viewed risk and difficulty as a "closed door" from God. However, when I look at scripture, God clearly calls people into risky situations all the time. Just because it's risky, doesn't mean it's not God's will. If God has told us to do something then our choice to obey has very little to do with "weighing the risks."

For example, consider how many Christians quote the verse, "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,'" yet fail to remember that the prophet to whom God spoke those words (Jeremiah) was persecuted, tortured, jailed, rejected and killed for fulfilling God's will for his life. God's perspective verse ours - very, very different.

This is tough stuff - and honestly, there are times I don't like what I'm learning. It was nicer when I was content with my safe, blind, unbiblical version of Christianity. But my eyes and heart have been pried open by the truth of the Gospel and for that I am grateful - however difficult it is to work through. I know that the re-building of my perspectives on this world are to my gain and to His glory. I am learning that God is trustworthy, even when His ways in this world don't make sense. I am learning that when I believe Him and live in the way He calls me to, it can be life-changing, rewarding and invigorating in ways that my "happy little life" never was.

"Indeed, God knows every detail of our lives, and when we step out in faith to follow him, he will show us that our greatest security is not found in the comforts we can manufacture in this world but in the faithful provision of the only one who knows our needs and the only one who is able to meet our needs in every way." (Radical, page 174)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Tale of Two Sisters

Kate & Julia
I was at my parents' house this weekend for a short visit and at one point wandered onto the back porch to enjoy the cool air and a warm mug of coffee. Within minutes my little sisters Kate (9) and Julia (8) followed me bearing their own sugar-infused versions of coffee.

I started chatting with them about school and the upcoming holidays and about their best friend Jacob (which always incites a fit of uncontainable giggles, heaven help me). I was soaking up this sweet moment with my little ladies and said, "You know girls, in about seven years from now, we'll be sitting on this porch watching my kids play in the back yard. You'll be in high school by then and we'll sip coffee and I'll give you all sorts of advice about boys and life and such."

Julia piped up, "You already give us good advice, Jen!"

"Oh really?" I said, curious to hear what she'd come up with, "Such as?"

She thought for a moment and then began counting on her fingers the nuggets of wisdom that I have imparted on them thus far, "Don't dress like a skank. Don't dance inappropriately. Don't shake your booty like a hoochy. Don't kiss boys before you're in college."

Yep. That sounds like something I would say. In fact, one of my favorite "Julia-isms" (I'll share more of these in the upcoming months) has a similar ring to it...

When Julia was about five-years-old, she came up to my Dad and announced very matter-of-factly , "Tinkerbell is a bad guy."

"Why's that?" Dad asked.

"Because she told Captain Hook where Peter Pan was. And because she wears a skanky dress!"

Hmmm.... I wonder who helped her come to that conclusion...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Goal #3 - COMPLETE

Another goal checked off my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here.

Goal #3 - Take a sewing class

Don't get me wrong, I'm not entirely sewing-inept. I've sewn stuff before. When I was little, my cousins and I would dig through my grandma's sewing room (a magical wonderland bursting with fabric patterns from a completely different world, that is - the 60s and 70s) and hand-sew some rather shoddy pillows. This was considered high-entertainment for nine-year-olds spending their summers on a dairy farm.

My sewing skills have since graduated considerably (thanks to some tips from my mama), as have my pillow-making abilities. I made these throw pillows for our living room (as well all the curtains in our apartment):

So I know how to sew and the basics of a sewing machine. However, when it comes to sewing clothing, or anything that is not rectangular in shape, even level one patterns leave me completely baffled. (Don't even talk to me about hems and darts and bias-whatchamacallits. And basting? Isn't that a cooking term??)

So I took a sewing class at Joann's hoping to take my sewing skills to the next level. Unfortunately, I was not as confident in my talents as I should have been and signed up for the Sewing 101 class. I quickly discovered that I knew a lot more than I thought I did and ended up being the impromptu class assistant for the very nice Indian lady sewing next to me.

Fearful that I was wasting my $35 tuition learning things I already knew, I began asking the instructor questions. While she was busy showing the class how to thread a bobbin, I was interjecting with questions like, "What is a zipper foot?" "How do I sew button holes?" "What does 'baste' mean?" Hopefully I didn't annoy her too badly with my Sewing 201-level questions. I did try to be respectful.

On to the next step I charge - Goal #4: Sew an article of clothing and wear it in public.


Here's what I'm working on:

 Looks simple enough, right? Right?!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Ash Pile

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." - Matthew 6:19

I heard someone say recently that "The more stuff I collect here on earth, the bigger ash pile I'll leave behind when I die." That idea really puts into perspective the skewed value we place on our stuff doesn't it? It seem recently that this mentality has been growing deeper and deeper roots into my heart. The more I downsize, give away and sell, the more I realize how much I still have and how much less I could still live without.

Devin and I are having a garage sale November 19th and 20th to raise money for our Africa trip (if you live in the Phoenix area and have anything to donate - we'll take it!), so this past weekend we started combing our closets for things to sell.

I was a bit baffled, and more than a little ashamed, to see the pile of clothes I was able to clear out of my closet. You see, I have already down-sized my clothing collection twice in the past few months and somehow I still had a full garbage bag of clothing to put in our garage sale. That is just ridiculous.

During the first round of downsizing, I got rid of some outfits that I didn't like all that much. The second round had me donating some things that I liked, but didn't wear all that often. But when I was looking through my closet for round three, I had to remove some clothing items that I really liked a whole bunch. There were many moments when I removed something from the hanger, put it back, glared at it and pulled it back out again with a sigh. But as I perused my still hefty (even after two trips to Good Will) stockpile of clothes, I thought, "What am I willing to give up so that I can go to Africa and love on some orphans?" With that thought in mind, my perspective on the worth of my clothing changed considerably. 

I mentioned this in last week's Radical post, but I'll say it again here. As I pulled out items to sell, I felt so foolish at my wasteful materialism. The cute jacket that I had to have for $25 will be lucky to snag $5 at a garage sale. Thinking about what the $20 difference could have bought instead (i.e 133 meals for a child in Africa) makes me so embarrassed, but I am thankful to be learning these lessons. I am grateful to have my eyes opened. I still have a long way to go, but I am starting to learn the contentment and fulfillment found in generosity.

"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." - 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guilty As Charged

*Part Seven of the Radical Read-Along with Marla Taviano

"Some wonder if it is unfair for God to allow so many to have no knowledge of the gospel. But there is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who posses the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven't heard. That is unfair." - Radical page 159

It's not that I don't care about people who don't know Jesus, though I do seem to be more concerned about meeting material needs than spiritual ones (like a mentioned in this post.) My problem, or my lame excuse anyways, is that I get bogged down. Not by the billions of people who have never heard of Christ, but by the amount of people who just don't seem to care. I am overwhelmed by the thought of talking about Christ to the man already set in his own religious beliefs, or the lady so comfortable in her lifestyle that she refuses to follow Christ because of the change it would entail, or the guy who just flat out thinks Christianity and religion are ignorant cop-outs for the weak minded, or the gal who thinks it is nice that I have religion but "it's just not for her - no hard feelings". I don't know how to talk to these kinds of people and something in my head tells me that they won't listen anyways, so why try?

Awful I know, but that's where I'm at. 

I love to love people - I love to give to those in desperate circumstances and minister to physical and emotional needs of people. I love doling out smiles and hugs and kind words to those who don't get them often. But when it comes to directing them to the One who can meet their eternal and spiritual needs - I hush up like a clam. I make the dangerous assumption that they've already heard it all and have already rejected it. 

I've gone to apologetic seminars and heard countless sermon on how to share your faith. I've read all sorts of "How To" books on the topic and "arguments" about the truth of Christianity, but when a  moment to share Christ presents itself I am at a lose for words.   

I love to show people God's love through my actions. But telling them about Him with my words... ::GULP::

I wonder so often how I can claim (in my little group of like-minded friends) that Christ is the One Way to heaven and yet make little to no effort to actually say that to someone who doesn't already believe it? If I REALLY and fully believed this is Truth, wouldn't I say something? Or has my desire for approval and self-preservation manifested itself in a kind of deep-seeded materialistic idolatry - one that has nothing to do with possessions and everything to do with my reputation, my emotional comfort zone, and other people's perceptions of me? 

Monday, November 1, 2010

We're All in This Together

I am so excited to tell you all about this awesome opportunity to feeding some beautiful African children in Uganda and get some lovely decor for your home at the same time!   

One of the ways well be raising the $7300 we need to go to Uganda in March is by selling some of the beaded crosses that I make. The cross picture here, "We're All in This Together" is hand crafted with beads made from recycled magazines -  beads which are created by women in Uganda. By selling this particular cross, we'll also be raising money to feed the children that Amazima Ministries works with.

(Pictured Left: 3.5" We're All in This Together Beaded Cross)

This is how it works:

Step 1: Amazima Ministries trains and facilitates the women of the Karamojong tribe to make magazine bead necklaces. These women are some of the poorest in Uganda and are often considered outcasts. The necklaces provide them with sustainable income to feed their families.

Step 2: The Karamojong women sell some of these necklaces to the 147 Million Orphans organization. When 147 the re-sells the necklaces, they send 50% of the profits back to the Amazima feeding program which feeds some of the children of the same women making the beads.

Step 3: I buy the beads from 147 and work them into my crosses. When a cross sells, I donate another 50% of profits to Amazima's feeding program. (The other 50% will go towards our trip.)

This means that the same set of beads will provide income and food for the poorest of the poor in Uganda in THREE separate ways!! Wow - what a beautiful full-circle story!

The 3.5" crosses (pictured above) are $20 (includes shipping to U.S. addresses) and will provide forty-six (46) meals for a child in Africa. This cross comes with a ribbon for hanging and makes a beautiful home accent or Christmas ornament.

The 7" crosses (pictured left) are $50 (includes shipping to U.S. addresses) and will provide one hundred and eleven (111) meals for a child in Africa. This cross comes ready to mount on a wall or can be placed on a bookshelf or windowsill for display.

Is this not just the coolest thing you've ever heard? (Okay, maybe not ever, but I'm pretty crazy excited about it!)

If you are interesting in ordering a cross, please visit (click the "We're All in This Together" tab). Supplies are limited, so please order sooner-than-later. 

*Please note: Because they are handmade, the pattern of beading will vary slightly on each cross. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.