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Saturday, May 22, 2010

All for the Glory of God

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God." -- 1 Corin 10:31

I think most of the people who read this blog are stay-at-home moms like myself. Actually, I think most of the people who read any blogs are stay-at-home moms... But anyways -- do you ever have trouble applying 1 Corinthians 10:31 to your life? I am truly, truly blessed to stay home with my children and I definitely see how the time I spend caring for them, playing with them, teaching them, etc can all be done to the glory of God. But what about the rest of my time, mostly spent cooking/preparing food and cleaning (yes, I live a very exciting life) -- how can I really do those things to the glory of God? Can I really glorify God in the way I do the laundry, clean the bathrooms and fix lunch for the kids? Well, I learned from Alysia Crawford and her amazing Crazy Coffee talk that I most certainly can.

When you have some time, please check out these tips and these Crazy recipes from Alylsia and see our fun pictures below from the Crazy Coffee. Alysia's tip pages are full of suggestions for saving tons of money, becoming environmentally conscious and, best of all, they will  help you do all that you do (especially as a stay-at-home mom) to the glory of God.

Who knew you could get smocked children's clothing for $3?

Alysia making deodorant. Afterward, our pits smelled minty fresh.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Talk About Being Crazy

Have I mentioned that Dan and I have friends who are way crazier than us? I believe I have. We are blessed to know some amazing people -- people who really "walk the walk" and live out their faith in the way in the way Christ intended (in my humble opinion anyways).

Below is an exerpt from yet another incredible email I received from an incredible friend. Several years ago, she & her husband and their young children up and moved into one of the poorest, roughest parts of the big city they live in. They felt called by God to make this "radical" move in order to better serve the population living in the community. Here are some of her thoughts...
"There have been really hard times here when I've been tempted to forget it all, move into a safer house with a big yard, and live like none of this is going on. There have been times I have hated it here and thought I would be crushed if we stayed. But, after those times of going through the fire my passion for being here is stronger than ever. This is where we can put ourselves and be right in the midst of the darkness. There is so much that is messed up around here- both with those who need Christ and even with some of those who know Him. It's hard, it's dirty, and it's more lovely than anywhere we've ever lived and anything we've ever done. We can't forget when we are here. We can't pretend, we can't get lazy about God's business. It's all around us and if we choose not to act we are accountable by everything we see and hear. We've gone through so much- we have gone through stages of pride and judgment about why everyone else does not do this, we've gone through selfishness where we want to leave it all, we've gone through stages where we forget that no amount of physical help is ever going to heal like the truth of the Gospel, and we've had our hearts broken by it all many times. But in each of those growing stages God has strengthened our faith and taught us about how to keep getting smaller and keep letting him be bigger. We are trying to learn every day that this life is not about us, our comfort, our safety, our stuff, our plans, our desires. It is only about Him.

Here are ten lessons we've learned:
1. That getting dirty is part of the job description
2. That we are selfish and ridiculous
3. That there is a whole other way to love
4. That roaches can't kill you. That you can eat it if it looks gross and love it because it is filled with the heart of a person who knows how to give 
5. That you are safer in God's will than out of his will. That the ghetto is more secure if you walk through it with God than the burbs are if you walk through forgetting His people
6. That it is really important that my kids learn how to love a person who has been thrown in jail, who has no english, who smells bad, who needs the same help again, who needs the roach nest cleared out of their mattress, etc more than they need to learn how to find a great deal at Pottery Barn
7. That you can go to Sunday school and not even have a single crayon or piece of paper and still learn about Jesus and have a great time
8. That it's OK to not buy an American Girl Doll...ever...because for the same price we can buy 10 dolls for our neighbors and our daughter can live with one less amazing thing
9. That you can learn way more from someone who has no english, no education, no money, and no job than they can ever learn from you
10. That Jesus did it the hard way...with joy, with obedience...he never plugged up his nose, he never put on latex gloves, he held people and children who were covered in filth, he gave them what they needed most: love and words that offered them eternal life.

And that about sums it up. I can't really think of anything to add to their words. I wish I could say the words and experiences in this email were my own. Maybe one day they will be. I pray these thoughts will bless you as they've blessed me and maybe even stir some hearts into doing something radical & crazy of your own for Christ.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Join us for the "Crazy Coffee"

Sometimes Dan and I find it quite humorous that we are the ones writing this blog. Practically everyday the Lord puts someone in our path that is really far, far more qualifiied (way crazier than us) to be the owner of this thing. Our friends, Adrian and Alysia Crawford, are some of those people. If you think the Owens are crazy, watch out for the Crawfords and prepare to be inspired...Dan and I don't even play in their league.

This family is Crazy with a capital C in a really, really good way. In many ways, the Crawfords are a lot like Dan and me -- their children are about the same age as ours, Adrian is a "techie" with a nice 8-5 job, Alysia is a stay-at-home-mom... However, instead of living in the suburbs or gated communities like most families we know, they currently live in a refugee community -- a place with high crime, police cars, people packing (guns, not luggage), poverty, neighborhood parks you would not be caught dead in after dark...and a whole community of people who need Jesus, need love, need help, need to know that God loves them, died for them, has a plan for them...and that they are not alone. The Crawfords moved to this community because they felt God called them to stop "coming in" to serve and to start "being in." And they answered without hesitation in complete obedience. They just put their house on the market and moved. Is that awesome or what??
Last week, Alysia sent me this email (reprinted here with permission):
I wanted to tell you about some ways we save TONS of money...
I make my own: deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, dishwasher gel, laundry soap, lotion, cleaner, furniture polish, hand soap, and disinfectant spray. It takes almost no time at all, it's chemical free, enviro freindly to the max (it puts 7th generation and Whole Foods to shame on a sustainability level) :) and the best part? It keeps us out of the stores almost all the time! My kids are rarely in a retail store, because I need none of the typical goods from the grocery store I can do all our shopping at the Farmer's Market- advertising free! No signs telling us what we "need", giving us false perceptions of what our life should look like, what the kids should "love", etc. It also keeps us eating simple- no gimiky foods at a market! I've also found some terrific thrift stores in our area where we get 90% of our clothes...I can give you the locations if you haven't found any in your area. Buying clothes at our thrift (50% off EVERY Monday...can we say Ann Taylor dress for $3???) also keeps us from letting our money filter into "the system" where most clothes are made by kids who should be in school and getting fed properly instead of sitting in a factory. I'm not sure what your cooking plans are like in the budget area, but I have discovered some amazingly cheap and healthy (even organic) ways to cook...I've had weeks, when I'm disciplined enough and plan well, that I can buy almost all organic and keep our week's budget at $40-50!!!!!!
Yeah, so we aren't quite there yet, but we would like to be. And here I thought the best way to save money on that sort of stuff was just to stop using it until folks at work told Dan to just work from home until he could afford some deodorant (just kidding). So, I've asked Alysia if she would be willing to share her recipes, her thrift store shopping tips and hold an informal "how-to" for making all of those homemade goodies. She  has graciously agreed. And we're calling this get-together The Crazy Coffee!

If you're interested in joining us, we'll be at the Harty home in Brookhaven next Friday, 5/21 from 10:30am-12pm. Alysia is going to have all of her supplies on hand to do some short tutorials, have copies of recipes and so on. It's going to be great fun and super-crazy. You can RSVP by commenting below or email me at my personal address.
Friday, May 7, 2010

Mulalu Mazungu

As you probably already know, last week I was in Uganda with my good buddy Michael Lines of Abiyoyo Productions (shameless plug). We were there representing SixtyFeet.org, taking a lot of video and photos, and attempting to get a handle on what is going on with the children of Mukisa. You can see some of the video over at the SixtyFeet.org site (another shameless plug).

The title Mulalu Mazungu is Luganda for something like "Crazy White Folk" - I'm paraphrasing, but we ended up using and/or hearing this phrase quite a bit last week. As we wandered around busy sidewalks and street markets wielding anywhere from 1 to 6 cameras each, we got a lot of odd looks and comments. Occasionally we could even be found rolling around on the roof of the car affixing a small camera for a unique view of the world as we drove through the streets of Kampala.

The view we were looking for, however, was of children in need, and we didn't have to go far to find it. The little guy below was sitting with his mother at a street corner. When she saw Michael approaching with his camera, she yelled something to her child who immediately walked up with his hand out. She obviously had instructed him to beg for something from us.

Our primary purpose in visiting Uganda last week was to visit the Mukisa site and determine what SixtyFeet.org could do to help. We wanted to learn as much as we could about the situation these children are in so that we could bring the information back and relay it to others. It turns out to be a larger task to do this than we ever imagined. It feels sort of like trying to describe how to fly the space shuttle safely back to Earth - there are so many details and subtleties. 
Based on what we had hoped to accomplish while there, we felt like the trip was a success. We learned so much in a short amount of time. We met many people already on the ground there that are either already involved or eager to do so. Many were Ugandan nationals that care for these children and have a desire to improve their own country and were thankful that we had come to try and help and are excited to lend a hand.
Few, if any, of our fantasy ideas proved themselves out. We had a vision of ourselves riding in on the proverbial white horse and fixing everything in a week and then leaving with a sense of accomplishment. 
This is a very complex situation that requires delicate but deliberate action. Sort of like removing a splinter with a spear.

One of the things that came up over and over during our discussions with various folks was the overwhelming nature of the problem we are faced with in Uganda. It would appear that whatever we are able to accomplish is a mere drop in the ocean. With the sheer number of children in need - not only in Uganda but also here at home and all over the world - how can our efforts make any sort of difference? You can look at it that way if you want and you can choose to do nothing because the results might seem minuscule, but the alternative is to do nothing. The Owens Family cannot stand by and do nothing. You might think we are Crazy - or Mulalu - but that's OK.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Mountain Outfit

I know y’all are dying for Dan to update this blog with the details of the Uganda trip and the amazing ways God has worked in his heart since then… alas, he is still decompressing, de-jet lagging and processing all that’s happened and you’ll hear from him soon. But for now, it’s just little ol’ me with some “crazy” thoughts for the day…

As we get further into this adventure of living the crazy life and further along with this ministry of Sixty Feet that’s grown out of it all, here is a comment that Dan and I get a lot… “oh, I could never do that.” Whether we’re talking about giving up cable, driving a scooter instead of a second car or going to Uganda for a week, we hear it all the time. Sometimes I even hear it from my own mouth. But truth be known, if I can do this stuff and make these changes, anyone can. Seriously.

It’s amazing for me to look back on my life and consider the many ways that my relationship with the Lord has changed me. Not just changed the way I live outwardly but really changed me, my heart. I can only imagine that some of my friends who knew me back in the day must read this blog sometimes and scream with laughter.

My sweet friend Kim is one of my oldest and dearest girlfriends. She and her husband Pete live with their boys in a town in the North Carolina mountains. We grew up together and had more good times than I’d ever have space to write about on this blog. For years, Kim has been drawn to the outdoors, the mountains, the simple life. I personally have always been more of a city girl.

One weekend when I was in college, I decided to make the trek from Chapel Hill to Boone, NC to visit Kim who was a student at ASU. I was so excited about my weekend in the mountains. In the days before my trip I carefully selected each outfit I would pack for such an adventure. That Friday afternoon, I arrived in Boone in my self-proclaimed “mountain outfit” which consisted of this: a rather short brown & orange plaid skirt, high heeled sandals and a tank top with sequins. Kim and her then-boyfriend-now-husband Pete nearly collapsed with laughter when I strutted into their humble abode out in the middle of Nowhere, NC and announced, in complete earnest, that I was ready for a weekend of roughing it in the mountains. I think this was something like 16 years ago and I imagine that Kim and Pete still crack up anytime they think of this.

There are many similar stories… Kim and plenty of others could confirm that I used to use three different brushes to fix my hair every morning before school (come on, it was the 80’s… you know most of you had a round brush for your bangs too), ironed every article of clothing I owned before wearing it – including jeans and sometimes socks and was confused by the idea of towel racks because I would only use a bath towel once before feeling that it needed to be washed again. I guess it would’ve been fair and safe to call me a High Maintenance Girl.

Well, to God be all the glory because He alone is able to change people. This “crazy” journey He’s sent our family on, to simplify our lives and to seek real treasure in Heaven, is not just something my husband announced that we were going to do and I had to go along. I want to do this. I want to start letting go of my earthly stuff and the “wealth” that produces a false sense of joy and security in my life. Although we missed Dan terribly, I wanted him to go Uganda. I want to live out my faith in a way that sets me apart from the rest of the world. And I want to live my life, the only one I’ll ever get, as a disciple of Jesus Christ – the kind that understands denying myself and taking up my cross to follow Him. We Americans really struggle with that one.

So the Lord has started a big work in my life and He is changing me, slowly but surely. I still have a long way to go but I’m learning. And on those days that I find myself saying “oh Lord, I can’t do XYZ…” I hear Him whispering back, “do you mean you can’t do it or you’re just not willing? Anyone who wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”