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FSF Top 10 Inspirational Quotes

top 10 quotes

This week we’re shaking things up with a little inspirational beauty as I bring you my Top 10 (non-scripture) Inspirational Quotes! Feel free to share, pin, post, etc. these immortal words of wisdom. And if you’re missing my words this week (and really, who isn’t?), you can check out my new post at the Bridging the Gap blog, where I am now a regular contributor!

 

 

 

10. “Minimalism is not the lack of something, it is the perfect amount of something.”
-Nicholas Burroughs

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9. “Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
– Anna Lappe

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8. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good me to do nothing.”
-Edmund Burke

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7. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world.” -Anne Frank

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6. (speaking of theology) “If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.” – Jen Hatmaker

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5. “Do the best you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better.”
– Maya Angelou

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4. “When God blesses you, don’t raise your standard of living, raise your standard of giving.” – Mark Batterson

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3. “Don’t let what you can’t do keep you from doing what you can.” – John Wooden

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2. “Live simply so others can simply live.” – Mother Teresa

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1.“Enough is as good as a feast.” – Mary Poppins.

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If you have quotes that inspire you, feel free to share in the comments! Have a great week!

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Freedom

Sell your crap

I found this quote on Pinterest, and it led me to Adam Baker’s website, Man vs. Debt, and his popular Ted Talk. What appeals to me about Baker’s quote, site, and Ted Talk is the absolute freedom of that mindset. Getting rid of debt and excess stuff allows you to be flexible, nimble, and agile. It just sounds so empowering.

I’m not a “stuff” person, meaning that I don’t have strong emotional attachments to things, and that’s weird for an historian. Most of my colleagues hold on to stuff, because physical objects are tangible pieces of our history. Items tell stories, and they connect us to the past. So it’s weird for an historian to be so anti-stuff. I blame my family’s regular moves when I was growing up; the more possessions you have the harder it is to move. Not that I live a spartan life, either. The longer I’ve lived in one place (15 years yesterday!), the more stuff has accumulated in the nooks and crannies of my life. And not just precious memorabilia, either. I have an abundance of papers, craft supplies I no longer use, and don’t even get me started on the wide variety of sizes and seasons of clothing I have stashed!

My lack of attachment to stuff, and the fact that my clothes seem to reproduce while I’m asleep leads to regular purging. My mom, sister and I have an annual garage sale, and unsold items get donated right away. But we follow the donation dropoff with an afternoon of shopping, so the cycle continues.

But I long for that freedom. I want to get to the point where my thesis no longer hangs over my head. I want to own my money instead of owing it. I want to consider possibilities and not have to say, “maybe someday.”

If you feel like I do, I challenge you to make a step in the direction of freedom. Toss some dead-weight junk, like papers and old, worn clothes. Sell some excess stuff that has value to someone else. Finish that project that’s hanging over your life (preaching to myself on that one…). Stop shopping for stuff you can live without (again, preaching to myself), and make progress on your debts. Get free. Reclaim your life. Do what you love.

I have a printable “clutter cutter challenge” for you to help you get started. And be sure to check out the Man vs. Debt website for great articles on successfully selling your stuff!

Clutter Cutter

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Book Review: The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne

Irrisistable Revolution

For a while now I have been hearing about Shane Claiborne and his radical, passionate call for modern Christians to get back to the root of the gospel message. I put his book on my (large) to-read list, but I was kind of afraid to start it. I knew it was going to challenge me, and I feared his reputation for a life we conservative-stoic types see as extreme, fanatical, and (frankly) nerve-wracking.

But I (eventually) dove in. I loved this book and hated it. It challenged me. I agreed with it and disagreed. I was shocked sometimes and usually came around to see Claiborne’s reasoning. I felt really conflicted, to be honest. It’s not often that I read something and feel so strongly inspired AND opposed. I came to realize by the end of the book that as this isn’t the holy scriptures I’m free to read his book and glean from it, reject it, or both. And that’s exactly what I did.

So here’s the story: After graduating from college with a degree in sociology and youth ministry, Claiborne went on to grad school, but found himself feeling disillusioned with “church as usual.” He spent some time with Mother Teresa and her co-laborers in India, and came back to intern at a well-to-do mega church in America. The whiplash made him sick as American excess and our profound blindness to it hit him right between the eyes.

I know this feeling. Sometimes I look at this country, or just at my own life, and I feel like a kid who got sick from eating too much candy. Everything is available to me, but nothing satisfies. I end up sick and obese from all the excess, yet stunted by the lack of nourishment in my life. In Claiborne’s words, “I read a study comparing the health of a society with its economics, and one of the things it revealed is that wealthy countries like ours have the highest rates of depression, suicide, and loneliness. We are the richest and most miserable people in the world.”

Claiborne and some like-minded friends began to research the gospel message, the early years of Christianity, and some of the great leaders of the past. They got involved with the homeless and other societal outsiders. They began living communally, like a big family. In this way they began to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), and “love their neighbors as themselves” (Mark 12:31).

The book is full of passionate soundbites that resonate with a hungry soul:
“Rebirth means that we have a new paradigm of “us” and “them.”
“When we hear that “we” were attacked, do we think “we” the church or “we” as Americans? What is our primary identity?”
“Protesters are everywhere, but I think the world is desperately in need of prophets, those little voices that can point us toward another future. Some of us have spent so much time fighting what we are against that we can barely remember what we are for.”

I found the book inspiring, and thought-provoking. As I expected, I was challenged to evaluate my perceptions and priorities. But (don’t worry honey!) I’m not going to suggest we join a commune. Some of the practices, political and social activities, and anti-war/anti-death penalty ideas that Claiborne espouses in the book don’t sit right with me. I don’t think that the God who sent Israel into battle now thinks all warfare is sin. I don’t think that the God who declared the death penalty a fitting punishment in the Old Testament now finds it abominable. Are there unjust wars and wrongful executions? Absolutely. And we need to be active participants in the world to fight those injustices.

After finishing the book, I found that on the things that really matter – the gospel message, the commands of Jesus, and loving your neighbor, Claiborne and I are in agreement. In some of the tactical aspects, not so much. I see him like a modern John the Baptist. He’s out there in his crazy camel skin robes, eating a strange diet of locusts and honey, and crying “Prepare the way of the Lord!” I appreciate Claiborne (and John the Baptist) for their message, and if their tactics help spread it, I say go for it. But I’m called in a different way, just as Mary and Martha or the disciples helped spread the good news without the camel skins.

That’s a beautiful part of Christianity that we miss sometimes; we think there is just one right way to do things. We think we all have to meet on the same day, sing the same songs, and read from the same English translation of the scriptures. But God is not small, and He is not limited, and He is not manipulated by our human culture and tactics. As long as we are true to the scriptures and in an active, receptive relationship with Jesus, we can have different practices and politics. God doesn’t change, we do: our culture changes, our values shift, and we pick up and put down things that have very little to do with the core of who God is. The way “church” and Christianity were practiced when your grandparents were kids is different from the way we do things today, but God remains unchanged. The way they worship in faraway lands may be different from how we do it at our church, but God remains unchanged. The tactics Claiborne and his mates use to spread the gospel may be different from how I do it, but God remains unchanged.

I hope that makes sense. This post kind of strayed from a typical book review, but that’s the biggest message I got from really reading and digesting this book. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His word is true and it stands for all eternity.

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Blessed to be a Blessing

blessed to be a blessing

Food Shelf…Saturday?

I’ve been sidelined by illness this week (my husband went to Europe for work and brought me a terrible head cold as a souvenir. He got well relatively quickly, I’m still fighting…)

Anyway, I haven’t forgotten you. I actually sat down and wrote a book review post on Tuesday, but I want to polish that up a bit before I share it. Then on Thursday I had an experience with the Lord that I would like to share with you.

I was laying on the couch, watching a movie – a typical sick day activity, and as the credits rolled I was just overwhelmed by all the excess of this world. I felt sickened by all the stuff and all the resources, all the entitlement and all the waste. I just sat there feeling down about my perspective and the war within my flesh. I know that under normal circumstances I would have gotten off the couch and done something “productive” to satiate this overwhelming feeling that I am spoiled. I would have sorted through some things to donate, mended something to make it last, or just about anything to busy my hands and feel less like a slug who watched Die Hard on Thursday afternoon on a beautiful summer day. But this cold. I didn’t have the energy.

Then I heard a familiar voice in my head, “what does the Bible say?” (Yes, God talks to me now and then in my head. He doesn’t reveal the future or anything like that, but he sends me the gentlest reminders, right when I need them.) I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and a pen, and I started to put down what God says about my relationship with this world:

This world is not my home. Is that a scripture or a song lyric, Lord? A sad amount of my theology/biblical knowledge is actually song lyrics that sometimes aren’t even from the Bible. I’d better google that one. 1 Peter 2:11-12: Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Foreigners and exiles: This world is not my home

If this world is not my home, I am not going to fit in or be comfortable here: I know where to find this one: Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This kind of reminds me of Daniel and the exiles in Babylonian captivity. The food of their new world made them sick. A steady diet of what the world has to offer makes me sick. Daniel 1:8-17: But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
I like the “choice food” of this kingdom. I like comfort. I like stuff, especially nice stuff. But it makes me spiritually sick.

This life isn’t about my comfort; I will get no rest here. John 16:33: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

I have too much stuff. I feel like I say this a lot. It may be my personal motto. Too. Much. Stuff. Matthew 6: 19-21: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I am NOT the hero of my own story. Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

We are fully made for heaven while fully living in this world. There will always be a war in each of us between the citizen of heaven’s priorities and the citizen of earth’s priorities. Matthew 16:41: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Keep up the good fight, everyone, we not blessed to be comfortable, we are blessed to be a blessing!

thoughts on blessing and this world

 

Talking to Your Kids About Hunger (and other difficult subjects)

Talking to your kids about hungerOne of the great challenges of parenthood is talking to your kids about tough topics like hunger and training them to be critical thinkers and generous adults. Hunger isn’t fair, and it isn’t easy to understand or explain why we have so much when others have so little. Even as adults and parents, we don’t have all the answers. So how do we talk about tough topics like hunger with our kids? The short answer is that it varies – but there are some things we can do to navigate these muddy waters.

  1. Find Balance: (I feel so lame telling you to find balance. It’s like telling you to get more sleep or reduce your stress) Find the right balance between acknowledging the tough issues and controlling your kids’ exposure to troubles. A key here is that if they are old enough to notice and ask questions, they deserve honest answers. At three, a kid isn’t going to understand hunger at all, because they don’t really see past what they want at this exact moment. But we teach toddlers to share, and that’s an age-appropriate start. Preschoolers are more sensitive to what’s going on around them, and they start to see differences between people and ask questions about it. At this point, we can talk about how we are all different, but all loved by God, and all worthy of kindness.

    There is no hard and fast rule that applies to every kid, at every age. Some kids are really sensitive, and they need productive but limited exposure to the world’s bad parts or it eats them up. Other kids are less sensitive, and they sometimes need that exposure to crack through their shells. You know your kids. You know how tough topics affect them. You have to decide how much exposure they can handle.

    Likewise, find balance in your sources. The news media loves to sensationalize the bad parts, and fill the screen with graphic pictures that scare us into tuning in. Other organizations focus on the hope, but many use guilt tactics to raise money. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on what your kids see, and actively balance the messages they’re getting. Ask questions like, “why do you think the ASPCA makes commercials with pictures of sad dogs and cats?” By discussing what they see, you diffuse the guilt-inducing power of advertising and sensational news media. You also open the door to positive conversations.

 

  1. Turn a Tough Topic into an Opportunity for Conversation: Once a tough conversation starts, our instinct is often to provide trite answers and end it as fast as possible. We’re afraid we’ll say the wrong thing or upset our sensitive kids. And to be quite frank, we’re uncomfortable with the unfairness of hunger, and many of us struggle with guilt over how much we have and how others suffer. But I urge you, don’t shut down a wondering child. That sends the message that they shouldn’t care, and I know that’s not the message you want to send.

    Instead, turn the conversation into an opportunity. Talk about how things aren’t fair and we should be thankful for everything we have. Talk about what the Bible says about poverty and hunger, and what the Bible tells us to do. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Take ANY and EVERY opportunity to talk to your kids about God and his commands!

  2. Look for Heroes and Ways to Help: Beloved TV host Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” This is a great reminder to us adults when we watch the news, and good parenting advice as well. Remind your kids (and yourself) to look for the people who are standing up for justice. Look for the heroes who rush in when everyone is rushing out. Look for the aid workers who dedicate their lives to being in hard places for the sake of others. Look for volunteers and donors who make recovery possible.

    And then ask the most important question of all – “how can we help?” Finding a way to get involved diffuses feelings of powerlessness, victimization, and selfishness. Helping teaches compassion and generosity, and instills in us all a sense of community. Serving others is obedience to God’s commands. It opens doors for new friendships and opportunities to tell others about Jesus.

    If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas:
    – In the search bar at the top of this page, key in “service projects” and all the posts I’ve done on that topic will appear.
    – Food Shelf Friday’s Pinterest page has two boards of service project ideas, and one of them is specifically geared toward serving with kids.
    – Sponsor a child through Compassion International, or write to your sponsored child.
    – Go through your toys and clothes, and donate a box of clean, usable items to your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or local food shelf (If they take that type of donation).
    – Pick up a few extra items when you’re shopping, and donate them to a food shelf or a supply drive at your church.

There are a ton of ways you and your family can help others; this barely scratches the surface! Feel free to share ideas in the comments!