Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Answer to Hate

Over the past week, I've had time to think about the events in Charlottesville and the current status of our society. A lot of fingers get pointed.  We see a lot of posts about love and acceptance and standing up for the marginalized. That's all great, but we sometimes fail to see the answer right in front of our faces. We've failed to understand the true definition of love and fail miserably when we try to label hate. I'm not an innocent party in all of this. I've missed the mark so many times. However, if we all tried a little harder and dug a little deeper, we could make a difference. Let me take a second to share exactly what I'm certain we need to do to combat hate.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

"Love is patient..." Love might be patient, but are you? Slow traffic. Long lines. Just a couple of things that seem to test our patience. The other day I watched a car speed past a slower moving car and cut them off. Both drivers held up "that finger" at the other. Yeah...that pretty much sums up the times we're living in. If you truly want to display love (and inspire others to do the same), be patient. Show grace.

" is kind." Pretty self-explanatory there. Love holds the door for the person following. Love lends a smile. Love responds in kindness even when faced with the opposite. Do you?

"It does not envy..." The grass always seems so much greener on the other side. Stop looking at how the neighbor's grass looks and start watering yours! And for goodness sake, stop throwing sand in your neighbor's yard out of your jealousy! Trying to sabotage someone else's success to make you feel better is hate and things like that are done out of envy.  Start focusing on what YOU have and less on what everyone else does.

"It does not boast, it is not proud." And once you have that nice, green grass, stop rubbing it in the noses of the people around you. It's one thing to be excited about the highs in your life, it's another thing to gloat and showboat. Think about it this way...if you boast, you'll likely make someone envy. And these days, that can get sand thrown your direction. It's like telling a homeowner not to leave the box for their big screen TV at the curb for the're just inviting someone to come in and try to steal your new TV!

"It does not dishonor others..." That's honors the other person ABOVE YOURSELF! Regardless of what a person looks like, believes or gives honor. These days, if we disagree with someone, we would never think to give them the best seat at the table. But love does. You want to stop hate? Start showing some respect to EVERYONE regardless of if you see eye to eye or not.

" is not self-seeking." Love doesn't say, "Because I'm in a hurry, I'm going to disregard everyone else and do what I need to do for my own benefit and comfort." No, love actually cares about the needs and desires of others. Do you? Have you allowed your own agenda to get in the way of truly loving those around you?

"It is not easily angered..." Love doesn't get all twisted up if you look at it wrong. Nope, it just keeps on being love. It keeps on being good. Do you?

" keeps no record of wrongs." Things that happened in the past? doesn't hold that against you. Love forgets all that mess and moves forward as if those wrongs don't exist. It doesn't make you pay. It doesn't leave the wrong-doer in debt. Nope, it writes that debt off and keeps on loving.

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." I think we can all agree that lies are evil. Lies that tells us we're not good enough. Lies that tells us we're less than. Well, love calls those things evil and embraces the truth. And love certainly does not cover up the truth in lies.

"It always protects..." When love sees someone being mistreated, it steps in. Love provides safe arms. Do you?

"...always trusts..." Love doesn't give a side eye to someone who looks different. Love doesn't suddenly get all scared that what looks different will bring harm.  Love chooses to trust and if an outside force breaks that trust, love gets up and dusts itself off. Do you?

"...always hopes..." Chalking all the hate up to "It'll never change! It'll only get worse!" doesn't seem so hopeful. Choose to see the potential we all have together. That's what love does.

"...always perseveres..." Love keeps trying even when it seems like it's not getting the results it hopes for.

"Love never fails." That's why we're failing...because we aren't truly loving. But if we start to truly love, I think we'll find it doesn't fail.

And that leads us to the bottom line of all of this. Our world needs Christ...the ultimate example and embodiment of love. He is all of the above and we should make it our aim and goal to look like a mirror image of Him.

That's the answer. It's not some complicated algorithm. Love doesn't have to say, "I'm not a racist." Love doesn't have to say, "I don't hate that person." In fact, love is pretty evident. So stop defending yourself with words and start living out love. It's a verb. It's an action. And it's also a choice. Today, I choose to be the best example of love I can be to every human I come in contact with. Do you?

Friday, August 4, 2017

40 by 40 Bucket List: Item #23

There's a lot going on here to say the least. I decided to go minimalist to fund a vacation. Then, I decided to fully embrace it to fund and make future adventures possible. One of those adventures has been moving from Tennessee to Missouri to serve at a church with my pastor husband (I'm a pastor too, but he's taking the lead on this one). A parsonage came with this adventure and it happened to need some help. So we're living with my parents while we fix it up so we can move in. In the middle of all that activity was my birthday and my decision to tackle a 40 by 40 bucket list. I have 7 years to complete it. However, if I can complete this in far less time, I could start the process all over again. I'm motivated to make this project far less than 7 years despite some of the very challenging items on the list. To allow you to track my progress, I've also added the list to the sidebar on the right.

So, at the prompting of my husband, I made the decision to check an item off my bucket list for my birthday. My decision was a bit spur-of-the-moment when my husband and I entered a chocolatier (Panache) on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City where we were celebrating. There in a glass case was a beautiful display of French Macaroons. We asked the cashier about them and she almost seemed apologetic when she said, "We did not make them here. They are imported straight from France and then we drizzled our chocolate over them." My husband and I looked at each other as if to say, "Well, this is what we're checking off today!" It was completely unplanned which made the experience that much better.

There were a few to decide on and after asking the cashier which she enjoyed, she said she liked both caramel and vanilla. While I would typically go for chocolate, I decided to be even more adventurous and take the caramel. So my husband documented the whole thing.

I took a bite and died, went to heaven, looked around for a few days and then floated lightly back down again in ultimate bliss. I couldn't utter a word. Not because of the enjoyment, but because it literally stuck to my teeth. I gave a thumbs up not wanting to leave my husband in too much suspense (who can't have them because of food allergies).  I was on cloud nine the rest of the evening because I was able to get a jump start on my list and because I now have a new favorite treat to enjoy when I come to the Plaza.

I can't believe I've lived so long without ever trying one. A treat that takes so many painstaking steps to make deserves all the respect and admiration I gave it that day. In fact, I only ate half and then, later on, enjoyed the second half as slowly as possible. At $2.50 per treat, they aren't really something you wanted to pop in quick succession. These are things you savor...extravagance straight from a place I so want to see...France! I felt one step closer to checking that one off too!

Have you tried a macaroon? What did you think?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Birthdays & Adventures: My 40 by 40 Bucket List

Today is my birthday. I'm celebrating the 4th anniversary of my 29th birthday (you do the math). Most of the things I've accomplished to this point came a little bit later than I had originally intended. I got married just 2 months shy of the 1st anniversary of my 29th birthday.  I graduated with my bachelor's degree just 2 months shy of the 2nd anniversary of my 29th birthday. That's not to say that I didn't accomplish some pretty amazing things. I've traveled my fair share around the United States and tried my hand at quite a few new things. Now, we get down to the nitty gritty. These years fly by so fast and I don't want to wake up for the 11th anniversary of my 29th birthday and realize I haven't done all the big stuff. Thus, my "40 by 40" Bucket List. Or what I should call "40 by the 11th Anniversary of my 29th Birthday". I realize that's too long, so I'll stick with the former.

So here it is in all its glory. Some things are so simple, yet still undone. Some things are so likely near impossible that they just might take quite a lot of effort. Mind you, most of these things are completely selfish. That's just because I'm busy trying to save the world on a daily basis. These will obviously come when I'm not doing all of that.

1. See New York
2. See Seattle
3. See D.C.
4. See London
5. See Paris
6. See Madrid
7. See Rome
8. See Hawaii
9. See Niagra
10. Do something that goes viral.
11. Have a credit score over 700.
12. Write a novel.
13. Have said novel made into a movie.
14. Stay the night in a tiny house.
15. Own a custom tiny house (for guests and travel)
16. Have children.
17. Buy a home (for daily living).
18. Get Master's Degree
19. Earn a passive income to live off of.
20. Renew marriage vows.
21. Meet a celebrity.
22. Live in a loft/industrial style apartment.
23. Try a macaroon.
24. New York at New Years.
25. Be debt-free.
26. Get a nice SUV.
27. Learn to speak French.
28. Raise money for a favorite charity.
29. Give out "blessing bags" to homeless.
30. Revist Richmond, VA with D.
31. Make Beef Wellington.
32. Try Lobster.
34. Take Grandparents on an adventure.
35. Mother/Daughter trip somewhere new.
36. Make a French dish.
37. Go to an award show.
38. Learn and perform a choreographed dance.
39. Be on National TV for something positive.
40. Learn to enjoy exercising.

Now...let's see how many I can cross off this list!! Cheers!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Our Minimalist Adventure & God's Goodness

If you've been following this minimalist journey, you'll know I started in February of this year. I first started in my email inbox. I had thousands of unread spam just sitting there making me crazy. After that, I tackled my closet and other areas getting rid of a TON of stuff I knew I didn't need. At the time, we were living with my in-laws waiting for the next thing God had for us. I felt that whatever it was, we needed to seriously downsize. I felt a sense of urgency that we needed to be able to load up the important things as quickly as possible with as much ease as possible.

Little did we know, we would find ourselves with an open door that would move us from Tennessee from Missouri to take a church to pastor. We didn't have the money to load up a Uhaul (nor did we want to). So, we knew we could only take what would fit in our car. Thanks to our minimalist journey, we had seriously downsized and knew exactly what we would need to bring. We sold off our bigger furniture and relied on the grace of our in-laws to protect what couldn't fit this first trip. In the meantime, I knew we would be able to better determine if we really needed the things we left behind during this time setting things up in our new town.

Currently, the things we've brought are housed in my parents' basement along with us as we work to bring the parsonage up to par enough to live in. There is no doubt that my desire to become minimalist was inspired of God. But I had absolutely no idea how many more ways God would reveal Himself to us in the next phase of our journey.

Before we left, a few people gave us "seed money" for us to use to pour into our new community to help minister to the people we came in contact with. We were thankful for this and knew we would be good stewards of it. As great as that was, we knew we would need funds to pay our bills, live, and make the repairs and get the items we needed (things like a couch and bed). I had no idea how it would all happen. I decided we'd use the money we made selling the items left behind in the parsonage to fund the work we had to do on the house. So far, we've made $388 doing that.  I have no idea if we'll make enough to make all the repairs, but faith is blind. 

Along with that, over the past couple of weeks, we've had a few people come forward to give to us to help us with the house. Our parents have also helped us in sweat equity and purchased supplies. Recently, we were also gifted the funds to have a fun night out (which I'll tell you about later). I hadn't even thought about having dates. I've always been okay with the free dates I could come up with. But for someone to think, "These two just need a date night." Well, it blew my mind. For the first time since we've been here, we were able to go out just for work or stress about the things we needed to get done.

To date, not one bill has gone unpaid. We have not starved (in fact, a few people have treated us to meals). It all is evidence of one thing...God's goodness. We had the faith to make the walk through the be obedient. And God in all His goodness and mercy is supplying our needs every step of the way. I'm humbled and in awe. He's a good, good Father. Our minimalist adventures weren't just happenstance. It was God's way of showing us that we could let go of the stuff and let Him supply our needs. Not only that, but it was also God's way of showing us just how wonderful His people are. So many wonderful lessons to learn in the journey!

And a little update: I finished painting the bathroom today! I feel like it looks so good! Here's some before and after photos!


Here's to many more updates as we make progress on our current adventure! 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Our Minimalist Adventures Update

I can't believe it's been over a month since we announced our move to Missouri and our Minimalist Adventures Challenge. The great news is we were able to sell the $800 in more of our things to fund the move and some of this past month's expenses. A lot has happened since that blog post last month, and your jaw may just drop when I tell you about some of our "adventures" thus far.

As you know, my husband and I accepted a church to pastor last month and made the move from Tennessee to Missouri. Our first Sunday in Missouri, we realized how much work we had in our future. The church has a parsonage (a house owned by the church that the pastor can live in). This is a huge blessing to us because it means we won't have any rent/mortgage payments and no utilities. Since the church isn't able to give us a salary currently, this helps take care of us in a big way!

The cute little parsonage...
However, upon inspecting the house, we realized that it needed A LOT of work. The house had been sitting vacant for several months and you could tell little work had been done on it the last several years. It was in desperate need of updating as well as work on a leaky foundation and bad air conditioner. We decided to stay with my parents while we set to make the parsonage liveable. So, poised for the job and seeing what we could make it, we got to work.

One blessing was that the previous pastor had left several items (mostly large furniture) and did not want them back. So, putting my minimalist adventure selling skills to use, I decided to try the minimalist challenge again and sell off the items piece by piece in order to make $1000 to put into the repairs the house needed. So, far, we've made $238 from that project (I've added another sidebar graph so you can track our progress with this).

Our work was soon halted that first week as D arrived one afternoon to work and found both the parsonage and the church had been broken into. Several tools we were using for repairs were stolen as well as speakers and a DVD player from the church. We were stunned. Our family came together and patched up the broken windows and we set ourselves again to continue repairs (now with 2 windows to replace added to our list).

A few days later (on a Sunday morning), D and I pulled up to the church to prepare for service and we came upon yet another break-in. Unfortunately, the burglar got away and we had another broken window to replace. On the bright side, he was unable to take anything with him this time. Again, our family and the congregation came together that morning and cleaned up the broken glass and patched up the third broken window in a week.

One of the 3 window casualties...
We have dusted ourselves off again and have set off to complete the repairs. Despite the activity that first week, our tribe has really come together to get things done and we are so blessed and happy with this change. So far, we've painted a couple of rooms and have pulled up some carpet to discover hardwood floors! Yay! It's certainly been a fun adventure thus far.

Bedroom before paint...
Bedroom after paint...

Bedroom...after I pulled up the carpet to reveal hardwood floors!

Our minimalist life is definitely at its height as we were only able to bring 2 car loads of our things. We left some items back in Tennessee that we will get later, but we're currently living VERY minimally. This will also help us determine if we really need the items we've left behind. Once we get settled in the parsonage, I'm sure I'll be able to take inventory and settle in nicely in a space sans all the stuff.

So that's where we are currently. There are so many more stories to share, but it may take a few days and a few blog posts to recount them all. Suffice it to say, we're enjoying this adventure we're on and know the best is yet to come!