Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two days ago, World Vision made news by announcing that they were making a change to their hiring practice in order to allow employment of those who identify themselves as Christian and are in legal same-sex marriages. Previously, the conduct requirement, as I understand it, had simply been abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage. In addition, all employees of Word Vision were (and are) required to affirm either their Statement of Faith or the Apostle's Creed as a condition of employment.

In a letter to employees about the change, the board said:

"We are, as our mission statement so clearly expresses,“an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.” And it is this mission that unites us—Baptist, Pentecostal, Seventh day Adventist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Orthodox, nondenominational, etc.--more than 50 different expressions of the Christian faith represented within WVUS alone. In fact, for 60 years the Christian mission of World Vision has been a platform uniting followers of Christ around the world. 

As World Vision employees, we are first and foremost united in our response to Jesus’ call to follow Him and to serve the poor. This unity gives us space to acknowledge a range of views on issues among the Christian churches we attend and the denominations we represent. Those issues include methods of baptism, divorce and remarriage, views on evolution, the role of women in church leadership, and whether birth control is acceptable. At World Vision we hold a strong view of the authority of Scripture in the life of the church and in the lives of each of us as followers of Christ, but we intentionally choose not to require specific beliefs or practice in any of these debated issues as conditions of employment at World Vision U.S. In other words, we don’t have a list of issues on which we mandate agreement as a litmus test for hiring. Instead, we leave these areas under the authority of the various church bodies to which each of us belongs and to the freedom of all of our employees to discern for themselves, fully understanding that there is a range of views within and among our churches."

Indeed, some of the churches affiliated with Word Vision (United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA) *have* affirmed gay and lesbian marriage, and so to me, this stance seemed consistent with the past statements by World Vision that they are not a theological arm, but an operational arm.

This is not news, right? That World Vision is a partnership between many different denominations within the Christian church, which are comprised of many (sometimes drastically different) beliefs and practices? This has been the case for years, and I believe is partially why other relief organizations that are specific to particular denominations exist. As a Lutheran, I can't expect Word Vision's policies and practices to align completely with LCMS Lutheran doctrine and teachings...because it isn't a Lutheran organization. Neither can Catholics, or Evangelicals, or any other denomination present expect that World Vision will completely and accurately capture their belief system. Rather, the underlying goal of broad faith-based organizations like World Vision, I think, is to encourage and facilitate unity within all denominations of the church.

Back to the story.

After that announcement, Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and all forms of social media were almost immediately flooded with announcements from Christians that they had pulled their support for their sponsored children through World Vision in response to the announcement. Here's just a few excerpts:

We will invest our money in other fundamental bible charities. 

God will no longer bless this ministry as long as you continue to compromise with sin and continue to demonize Israel! I implore the leadership to repent!

They are doing the works of Satan now! We can not be apart of this! 

It is with a truly heavy heart that I called and cancelled my sponsorship of three children today. 

I do pray that donations (as mine will) dry up and that God will raise up another organization that has a biblical spine.

You are a disgrace ..... When everything starts to fall apart on you I pray that you will come back to God on your knees ....

This organization accepts gay marriage among their employees. I have therefore cancelled my sponsorship. 

In the meantime, many supporters of the policy shift (including many non-believers, if Facebook is any indication) picked up child sponsorships in order to make up for those that were dropped suddenly.  

And then today, World Vision announced that they had reversed their decision to allow practicing Christians in participating denominations who were engaged in same sex marriages to be employed by the organization. 

This whole situation has left me with a vast range of feelings and emotions. Right now, the strongest is an uncontrollable urge to scream at people that if they were so concerned with the charities that they were supporting aligning with their personal beliefs exactly, THEY SHOULD HAVE RESEARCHED THE ORGANIZATION MORE THOROUGHLY BEFORE MAKING A LONG-TERM SPONSORSHIP COMMITMENT. You are not, by any means, required to support World Vision. But I cannot, for the life of me, understand the sudden outrage about this announcement--World Vision's non-stance when it comes to theological issues is not news. Do your due diligence before making a long-term commitment to an organization for sponsorship, people. If you don't like that World Vision partners with congregations that affirm gay and lesbian marriage...then don't support them, from the beginning. Don't get caught up in stories at rock concerts that pull at your heart strings, pledge your financial support, establish a relationship with a child, and then hold your financial support hostage in an attempt to bend the organization's towards your own specific beliefs, leaving that child inexplicably without the relationship that was promised.

{Was that too harsh? I feel like I may be writing out of frustration here, so I apologize if my words are not as carefully chosen and unifying as I usually attempt to be here}.

It also leaves me with a lot of questions. 

Once a sponsorship commitment has been made, what, if any, are appropriate reasons to retract that commitment? 

Can the photo of one child from a third world country on our fridge simply be replaced with another in the same way that I can change pants? If I decide I don't like what one organization is doing, is it okay for me to just drop that organization and pick another child elsewhere? Is my commitment to the organization, or the child? Or both?

If we're saying that homosexuals cannot be Christians, aren't we also saying that denominations who have affirmed homosexual marriage aren't *really* Christian denominations? 

So then, if we're saying that the Church of Christ, for example, isn't *really* a Christian church, what about heterosexual couples that were married by Church of Christ pastors? Is it *really* a covenant marriage then? 

What of man-woman marriages outside of the church? Say, someone married by the Justice of the Peace. Are those okay even though they didn't take place within a church and may not have had any Biblical basis at all? 

Or, as a few friends and I were discussing just the other day in regards to abortion, if we take the stance that homosexuality is sin, does that mean that everything that is against homosexuality is automatically good? Or that anything that doesn't explicitly condemn homosexuality is automatically bad?

Sigh. I don't have answers, friends. Only frustration and a bit of weariness.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Big Guns.

When we bought our house in 2008, it was a foreclosure. We loved that it was a quarter acre lot with a pretty big backyard, but we did NOT love that the back yard and front yard were *entirely* made up of star thistle. We tackled the front yard first, because...well, curb appeal, and then we pulled up the star thistle in the backyard.
From the house listing back in 2008.

Once we pulled up all the thistle, we realized that we didn't actually have dirt in the backyard, we had red clay. Apparently, weeds don't mind the clay, but we could not get anything normal to grow. So, since we were looking at bringing in topsoil and seeding, we put the project on hold for a couple of years (do you KNOW how expensive it is to bring in almost a quarter acre of topsoil?!) to save up. And in 2012, we finally brought in the topsoil.

We (and by we, I really mean Justin) spread the topsoil up to about two feet from the fence all the way around. We also skipped the garden area that wraps around the side of the house (you can just barely see the trellis over in the upper left hand corner of the above pic). We did this for cost reasons, and also because we weren't sure whether we'd eventually do planter boxes along the fence, flower beds, or something else. Then, we seeded. By the fall of 2012, it looked like this:
Womp womp. Not gonna lie, I was expecting a lot more progress at that point! Anyway, last year we planted some trees--we had *zero* when we moved in, and we quickly determined that we needed at least some shade somewhere in the backyard, and so we've planted a maple, a honeycrisp apple, a pear, and a plum tree. Justin also planted a couple of wine grapes that a couple from church gave us, but we're still waiting to see if they survived. We basically left the grass alone last year other than mowing it, and at the beginning of March this year, it looked like this:

A lot more green, but also a LOT of clover in there! It looked much better once it was mowed for the first time, but we still have a good deal of weed and feeding in our immediate future :)
Anyway, this past weekend, we finally started to tackle the jungle that was the border between the grass and the fence. Justin brought in the big guns, and we BOTH spent most of the weekend pulling weeds, shoveling dirt, moving the two raised beds you can see in the upper right corner of the clover jungle photo above.
One of the benefits of having a husband who works in construction? His bosses will often let him bring home the equipment on the weekends. This time, he brought home the excavator, and got to digging. We transplanted our thornless blackberry from the fenceline to the trellis over by the garden beds, and then he dug up that fenceline jungle. Lizzy was *thrilled* to get to take a quick ride with him!

 While he did that, I weeded our 5x20 garden bed and also our strawberry patch, which was no small feat! I may or may not be really sore today, ha!


Now, in the next couple of weeks, we'll be laying down landscape fabric around the fenceline, and bringing in mulch. I haven't quite decided what (if anything) will be planted along the fence, but being that I have a bag of 180 Brodiaea bulbs from Costco, I'm strongly leaning towards those!

We sort of hope that we'll eventually be able to buy the empty lot directly behind our house. It isn't currently for sale, but the couple that originally owned our house subdivided their acre lot into four lots. They've developed one of the lots, and have left the others undeveloped. The husband was a contractor and I think was developing them himself, but recently retired. We've been thinking about sending them a letter that if they're ever interested in selling that quarter acre directly behind us, we'd potentially be interested in buying it.

So anyway, we don't want to invest a lot of money in flowers or bushes on the fence line before at least making contact with the owners of the other property, but I wouldn't have a problem sacrificing $12 in Brodiaea bulbs :) It's sort of a dance between thinking about what could maybe-possibly-someday happen in the future, while also making what we've got now a space that we love. Especially since realistically, even if we did buy that property, it would require all the steps we've taken here (weeding the thistle, bringing in topsoil, seeding, etc), so we'd be looking at a long term several year project there anyway.

 Whew. We still have a lot of hopes and dreams for this space, including installing a gate kit where the plywood is in the above pictures (we had to remove part of the fence to bring in the heavy equipment). This will also include moving a fencepost, so it isn't a small project persay, but doable. We'd also like to build a pergola over the patio, and maybe tear out the raised beds for a bigger garden area. I'd love a firepit and a swing set too.

So basically, we have a long way to go, but I forget sometimes how far we've come already!

We ended the weekend with our first time eating alfresco this year, which was a blessing!

I'm hoping this is a space that we'll be spending a LOT of time in this spring and summer--after all, when you're outside all weekend long, it's amazing how clean the inside of the house stays!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review: The House at the End of Hope Street by Meena van Praag

From the back of the book: Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

When it comes to books, I'm generally not a fan of fantasy. But every once in awhile, a book comes along that walks the fine line of magical realism so well that I find myself getting swept away to another world, despite how improbable all the goings-on there may be.

For me, The House at the End of Hope Street (not to be confused with a Danielle Steele novel called The House on Hope Street) was one of those books. It was totally outlandish--I mean, it includes talking portraits of Virginia Woolf and Florence Nightingale--but at the same time, felt totally believable. Or at least, something that I'd like to believe in, because I don't know about you, but I certainly wouldn't mind living in a house that gives me exactly what I need, from famous quotes that drop from the ceiling, to ginger cookies, to a sewing machine, to fully stocked bookshelves of *exactly* what I want to read. When you add talking portraits of some of history's most amazing women? I'm along for the ride. 

This was one of those books that I just enjoyed, though I can't necessarily put my finger on why, though I can tell you that I liked the characters and came to care about them. I can also tell you that I thought the stories of the other women in the house were woven together with Alba's story well, and that the plot and subplots all made sense and were resolved pretty well. It was a little whimsical, a little fun, and full of magic. I enjoyed it a lot, and overall, I say:

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Monday Printable (Volume 3)

Because my hyacinth popped up over the weekend.

Because it is raining today.

Because I'm stuck at home with no car.

Because I'm practicing hand-placing flowers in Photoshop.

Someday, I'll make a printable that isn't floral,but today is not that day :)


To print it, just click on the image. It should take you right to Flickr. From there, click on the three dots in the lower right hand corner and select "view all sizes". Next, click on the original size. Once you do that, the link at the top should change to say "download the original size of this photo". I feel like it should go without saying that you are welcome to use this personally, please don't sell it.

I haven't upgraded to the Beta version of Flickr yet, so these instructions may not track if you've already upgraded.

 Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Today, I am excited about an upcoming trip to Portland! My sister has been away in training to become a flight attendant, and practically our whole family is going up for her graduation soon. I can't even tell you the last time that we went somewhere or stayed in a hotel, and I am SO. STINKING. EXCITED for it. Plus, we will probably go to Ikea. Guys, I have never been to Ikea. The only bummer is that I will probably want to bring home thousands of dollars worth of stuff, and the reality is that I will be lucky to work a fun blanket into the budget. I am still so excited!

I am listening to this. For the hundredth time. Today. I don't mind this version though...I have always loved The Roots...they are my happy place music.

I am thankful my Mom's Group. Becca is such a pill to leave anywhere with anyone, and it is honestly really hard for me to leave her in nursery while she's screaming, but I'm always so glad that I do. 

I'm itching to finish a quilt that I've been working on, but I have been *slammed* with other things to do. I feel like we haven't had a day "off" (and at home) in a long time. 

I'm secretly writing something. There's been a story that I've dreampt (dreamed? been dreaming?) of lately, and I think it's...a good premise, but I don't know how it ends. I always wonder when I read books whether the authors knew where they were going all along, or if it just kind of evolved. This is probably going to sound super pretentious, but sometimes as a reader, I think I can tell the difference. And I think I like the stories where the author always knew where they were going better. So, it scares me a little to (a) say that I'm writing something and (b) to be writing something where I don't know where I'm going. Whether it's a short story or a novel or what. But I'm writing it anyway, even if it's only for me. 'Cause I think it's a story that I would like to read, and also because it's kind of haunting me.

I'm feeling so much more stable emotionally since we've been working out regularly again.  I'm learning that exercise is so important for my mental health, and I just feel a lot more sane when we do it. I've been dealing with some crazy amounts of insecurity lately, and I've been surprised that it's even seeming to help with that. 

I am excited about all the books that I've been approved for recently on NetGalley. I mean, reading new books before they actually come out in exchange for writing a review? Count me in. If I could figure out a way to get paid to read books all day long...I think that would be just about the best job in the world. I haven't figured that one out yet, so this is the next best thing. In fact, my plan for this afternoon is to lay Becca down for a nap, curl up on Lizzy's bed, and read while supervising her cleaning up her room.

The only thing that would make it better would be a margarita ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book Review: The Bear by Claire Cameron

{Image Source
From the back of the book: While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, three hundred pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite -- and pouncing on her parents as prey.

At her dying mother's faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family's canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe runs aground on the edge of the woods, the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a wilderness alive with danger. Lost and completely alone, they find that their only hope resides in Anna's heartbreaking love for her family, and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.

This is a story with a small narrator and a big heart. Cameron gracefully plumbs Anna's young perspective on family, responsibility, and hope, charting both a tragically premature loss of innocence and a startling evolution as Anna reasons through the impossible situations that confront her.

Lean and confident, and told in the innocent and honest voice of a five-year-old, The Bear is a transporting tale of loss -- but also a poignant and surprisingly funny adventure about love and the raw instincts that enable us to survive.


The first thing I noticed about The Bear by Claire Cameron was that the cover reminded me of Room by Emma Donoghue, and after finishing the book, I can’t help but wonder if that was a bit intentional, as like Room, The Bear is a story about an unspeakable tragedy told from the perspective of 5 year old Anna.

While camping, Anna is awakened by her father one night only to be shoved into “Coleman” with her two year old brother (nicknamed "Stick"). Anna and her brother remain in Coleman for quite some time, wondering if they were bad, where their parents went, and what the giant black dog with terrible breath is doing carrying a giant bone around their campsite. As an adult reading the book, we can quickly infer that the “dog” is in fact a black bear who has killed Anna and Stick’s parents, and that they survived due to the quick thinking of their father, but none of this is clear to Anna, who quickly becomes the caretaker for herself and her brother. 

Some readers may have a difficult time adjusting to the narrative style, which includes a lot of run-on sentences, absolutely no filter, and thoughts that jump around quite a bit. However, as the parent of a four year old, I can tell you that this is exactly how kids that age speak. It would not be unusual at all for my daughter to say something like, ‘I’m hungry is it snack time I like flowers when will dad come home I want to watch Sesame Street. I’m hungry!’ and indeed, this is the sort of sentence structure that you’re likely to read in The Bear. Personally, I thought that Cameron did a fantastic job capturing the “voice” of Anna, and cracked up a number of times at the patterns of speech that I find absolutely typical for that age. It may take some getting used to as a reader, but I felt like it brought a level of authenticity to the story that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. Additionally, the story was told in a way that was believable as being narrated by a five year old—you know how sometimes when books are narrated by children, they end up knowing and understanding far more than anyone that age actually would in real life? Not so in The Bear, which I really appreciated. 

Like novels such as Gone Girl and Room, The Bear definitely was not a pleasant story to read. On more than one occasion, I had to put the book down and walk away for a time because it was just so awful to even think about (especially given that the book is based on a true story). But as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good book. It was in turns terrifying, electric, sad, touching, and even a little bit funny. It was narrated by a character that I came to care about. It had an appropriate and relevant conclusion, and overall I found it to be a wonderful book about loss and surviving tragedy.

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my review. As I hope you know by now, the fact that I received a free copy of this book will in no way influence my review-- I couldn't lie about a book even if I wanted to. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Monday Printable (Volume 2)

Because it's Monday.

And I'm ready for spring.

And this song (Beautiful Things by Gungor) has been on my mind during Lent for the past few years.

And because despite the enormity of the trend, I don't have anything chalkboard in my house thus far.

Just because....


To print it, just click on the image. It should take you right to Flickr. From there, click on the three dots in the lower right hand corner and select "view all sizes". Next, click on the original size. Once you do that, the link at the top should change to say "download the original size of this photo".

I haven't upgraded to the Beta version of Flickr yet, so these instructions may not track if you've already upgraded.

Happy Monday! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Archive


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.