Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kingdom Cares, Part 2

Back in the early years of this blog I introduced you to our friends, the Sullivan's, and the beginning of their ministry in Ghana, Africa. They were beginning to raise money for a beginning project. Over the years, God has taken the willingness of Jake and Janel and grown it into so much more. 

In the last two years, it has been impressed on Jake that singular donations are great but what is needed is sustained giving. He gathered people in the Kingdom Hoops gym one morning that January and laid out the history of Kingdom Cares International and the vision for what was next. He asked us to join in giving $100 a month to this, naming it the 1200 Club. Bill and I joined and read updates throughout the year. 

A year later, we gathered again in the gym. I was full of questions but my main two were: What about women's education and other such root needs? And what about the local people, the local businesses, using local people and not always bringing in Americans to do the job that they can? (I'm sorry that these are not more elaborate or eloquent questions. I hope you get the idea.)
Right off, Jake made a laundry list of concerns that could have been straight from my brain and said those are all good things and they are not neglecting them but for him, when he goes to Ghana (and now Chad), he sees God moving him to a place where he is compelled to share the Gospel. The Gospel brings eternal change. The Gospel brings hope and peace in spite of dire circumstances. Again, needs are not ignored by any means but in meeting those needs, it is for the Gospel. This is very close to what I once heard David Platt share. (I can't even begin to direct you to where I heard that. It was a live broadcasting of some conference several years back. All I know was that I was eager to hear him speak but instead only caught this small bit while giving Luke a bath. #momlife) Back to Kingdom Cares, when I heard this, I nearly stood up and applauded. 

As for my second question, Jake shared example after example of working with the people there and the successes and failures. It was an up-close look of what is working and what needs assistance. We aren't superheroes there to swoop in and save the day. Instead we are givers, listeners, discerners and come-along-siders. 

Out on a run this week, I was lead to pray once again for Jake and the now Acts 2 Collective. Specifically I was lead to pray for wisdom for him and for those in leadership. I communicated this to him and also expressing my continuing concern that the ministry there continue to come alongside the people and that God would raise up people from within. He responded with affirmation that yes, indeed God is raising up some "unreal leaders in Africa!" 

Now I will confess something to you: In the past couple of years, I have become more outright skeptical rather than critically informed about ministries. (Again, I apologize if I'm making up words and hope you'll understand despite my vocabulary.) As I have learned more and more about what helps and what doesn't for poverty, and while it has been very good and highlights the need for better ways, the opposite has also taken root in my heart. Jake didn't point this out from my text and possibly didn't even perceive it, but the Lord revealed it to me. And here is what I was challenged to do: To pray in faith that God is directing specifically Jake and Acts 2 Collective where He wants them to be. God wants my prayers but He can certainly act without my skepticism or approval. 

I confess this to you because that's just my nasty heart. Nor will I use this as a means to sell you that this is an approved organization worthy of your dollar. 

Kingdom Cares has made a change and is now Acts 2 Collective. God is raising up leaders. God is seeing the broken. God is moving. Janel has written quite a bit recently about it all and I encourage you to read more on her blog along with the Acts 2 Collective website. I will post links below. 

Acts 2 Collective
Team Sullivan 

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Garden, 2015

I think it's year three of my gardening adventures. I remember once upon a time having big gardening dreams. Bill bought me a subscription to Fine Gardening. I have a huge book filled with all manners of gardening knowledge. My gardening ambition was boundless.

And then I had my first real garden. 

That sounds much more dramatic than what it actually is. If the idea is to get some soil, plants some seeds or seedlings, maintain some sort of regular watering and watch it grow and produce, then that's what I did. That is, me and the Lord and a few children.

Even though I start prepping my garden beds and planting later than I should, I have no end of joy loosening up the soil, smoothing it out, and tucking tiny, precious seeds of hope in the blank, black canvas. 
See? It's a bit much.

My gardening plan involves index cards and roughly sketched garden layouts for rotating crops and what shouldn't be planted next to what. Strawberries are taking up a good end of this bed which I proceeded to fill in with basil, cilantro, tomatoes with radishes planted in between and jalapeños.

I squished a lot in this bed. Parsnips, green beans, peas, spinach, lettuce, two kinds of carrots and cucumbers. You might know that some of these are early season plants while others are planted a little later but because I started so late everything went in at once. There is no succession planting, early crop/late crop plants here. My motto is "Plant late, shove everything in."

This is about a month later looking at the same bed but from the opposite direction. Some things are actually growing although I've managed to drown them in too many grass clippings. I can tell you for certain is that waiting for parsnips to germinate is dumb and I cleared that space up and re-planted it with more green beans. I'm learning that in my small space, you've got to earn your right to stay and they didn't. And while we're at it, here's a list of vegetables no longer welcome in my garden: zucchini (I'll just ask a neighbor for some), onions (once the leaves bend over they're done growing and that's just not sturdy enough for me), potatoes (oh, I do love a homegrown potato all mashed up but they take up a lot of space for so little). I've benched broccoli for the moment and I'm afraid to say it because I love homegrown peas but they might be benchwarmers for a year or two.
The other bed looking the other way has some very sickly looking jalapeño plants, now that I look at them. It might explain why they produced so poorly. The tomatoes are coming in the best yet. And the strawberries in the back are ok. They have one more year or I'm reclaiming their space. You can tell how thick the grass clippings are. Lesson learned there. 

That's an old iron headboard next to the garden (and another one leaning against the fence that I've yet to place somewhere). The cucumbers did well this year and climbed up the bed. I feel it one of my gardening victories.

 Oh gosh, cilantro! I'm so proud of you for growing this year but you came on strong before the tomatoes were ready and that's just not right. I don't know what to think because it seems this is the story of all my friends' cilantro as well. I'm letting the strawberries creep in on your space.

That's the end of my garden pictures. I know it's an abrupt ending but that's kind of how it went with my garden. All on. All off. Now my garden looks sad. A few tomatoes hang from weakened stems, hoping someone will find their green-ness appealing. There were some red ones left to be picked but someone has a smart dog who knows when her invisible fence collar is off and helped herself to all the ripe ones. Yes, I know it was you, Lucy, because you get super guilty looking when I come around and also you left red poop all over the yard. But to redeem her, she's taken a fancy not only to tomatoes but to green beans. 

We were able to pick enough for us to eat fresh for meals without being overwhelmed. I did make a few refrigerator pickles with some of the cucumbers with this recipe. It was my best year for tomatoes and I canned over 20 pints of salsa with them. I planted six jalapeño plants and I barely got any from them whereas my friends had two plants and were almost overrun with peppers. I can't imagine my life if mine produced like theirs did. I hardly watered this year because of the abundant rains the Lord provided which in turn gave me a lush garden. (All I need now is a collection of Russian nesting dolls.) (Please, someone tell me you get this.)

I don't even know what is going on with this picture with the black border.
This was our last big harvest. Audrey is holding all the carrots but Ben pulled them. 
As though it isn't obvious enough, no one is going to be asking me for gardening advice. But for once, I'm okay with just letting my garden do its thing and not try to coax it into perfection. Which is what my friend Deanna told me the first year. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

They're Back to School, 2015

Whether I get to the summer's stories and pictures is yet to be seen. What should be noted is that we all survived. Yay, us!

It always goes like this: June is sort of detoxing from school and busy schedules and then we do different schedules and swim lessons, etc. July evens out even more. There is a lot of sleeping in and any sort of schedule I had hopes of implementing this summer have been shelved. August is sort of like July except I do a little more shopping for school supplies and underwear and the like. The problem with August is that we can't really handle this kind of laid-back schedule much longer. We need a change. I don't necessarily want to school to start but we can't keep this going the way it is. So, school it is.

The 2015-16 school year has started with no changes in buildings which is very nice. The kids weren't nervous and already feel comfortable. Well, Audrey was a little nervous.

Luke is in 4th grade this year. He seems to have a great teacher. But Ben will be quick to quip that all teachers are nice the first day of school and the second day are ready to buckle down. 

Speaking of Ben, he's in 7th grade. The class schedule changes a bit more for him than it did in 6th grade, going more class to class. He's taking Home Ec (it's not called that anymore though) and thought it was dumb until he learned he'll get to eat the food they make. I guess we'll see how much is edible from 7th grade boys. Of course, they'll eat just about anything. Ew!

Oh, you may recognize this sweet girl as Audrey and I'm here to break the news that she is a senior this year. That's right, a senior. She was nervous and excited to start her senior year. (I stared at this picture most of the day.)

And here they all are. They're going to have a great year!  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


This may be the weirdest post to come back to blogging with. I'm not sorry for that. 
I've also read that the first X number of words is what captures most peoples attention to propel them to read the rest of your post. I don't care. 
It might turn out that I'm not actually coming back to blogging but rather had a temporary burst of blogging energy. Fine. 

This is my little place in cyber-history and I think I'll do with it as I please. I like writing on here. I like sharing about my life. But I want you to know my life is not all roses and sunshine or unicorns and rainbows or whatever happy pictures come to your mind. And I want you to know I don't share everything. (Well, sometimes I share about pre-race nerves and what that does to me and it might be TMI for you but it's real and let's be honest, everyone does.) Please don't get into your noggin' that our life is perfect. It's not. I share the happier things because 1) they are easier to write about and the harder things are harder to write about and 2) the hard things are usually struggles that need time to work out before words can be applied to them (or at least for me anyway). Finally, who takes a picture of themselves having a meltdown? No one that I know of. The closest I get to that is a selfie of me taking a nap. (Let's discuss naps later.)

So anyway, I know you're curious about my running and did I ever get back on the motorcycle and what has happened to the children. I'll probably share about more food that you want to know because it makes me happy even though the only two things people ever ask me about is my monster cookies and scones. 

I'll admit, this feels pretty ambitious of me. I'm quick to realize school has been in session only four days and my think time (sans kids) has grown significantly and so my brain is in happy overload. (It's an introvert thing.)

But I have had a few key conversations with people to help me put some pieces in the right order about blogging and life and so on. I am super grateful for them because they are answers to prayers.

Golly, it sounds like an acknowledgment page of a book. With a lot of expectations. Nope. What I really should say is "I overthink a lot of things but I have patient, gracious friends who help me sort my life out." The end.