Thursday, June 27, 2013

Belwop: No one's story but His

This story compels my heart. It compels me because I spy Jesus in it. It has His unmistakable fingerprints all over it. I don't sense that about every good thing I see good people doing in the world. I just don't. But this story...these hearts...they belong to Him. And their faith is moving mountains.

This is not a story about awesome people doing awesome things.

It's not a story about Americans helping the underprivileged.

It's not a story about Africa.

It's not a story that is supposed to inspire pity for orphans or make you ponder the economic state of the third world.

It's a story about the gospel.

Don't skip over it too quickly: The Belwop Project is a living testament of the gospel, the good news that Jesus came with an unrelenting love to pursue us and save us and restore us.

That's why this story is the same as my story. And yours (if you know Him). The place and time don't really matter, except in that these children, at the heart of the story, have far, far fewer distractions to get in the way of embracing Jesus' love. I can't say for certain that my children are as happy as these kids are. Really, I don't know if they are.

Please watch the video below to see this story unfold.

Watch how God is an absolute master at connecting dots, at organizing and raising up His people to do His work. You will be so encouraged. You will get to know Him a little better, see His heart, His intense mercy and compassion.

You'll also see our friends Kate and Aaron Johnson sprinkled throughout. Here's Kate below, on the top right. (And just LOOK at that sweet one's silly face below her!)

I had the privilege of serving at the same church with she and her husband back in California. As Kate says, The Belwop Project is just a small bunch of people stepping out in faith to share the love of Jesus. It's quite simple.

Please watch this. Because also, I'm so anxious for you to meet Veronica, the one in the middle of the photo, the mother to the 27 children who live at the Belwop home. She has laid down her life. She is the real deal.

Hope Has A Home from Belwop Project on Vimeo.
It's the long version, I know. But it's sooooo good. In the video, I recognized a sacred childishness in these kids. Because they live at Belwop, that spirit is being preserved and celebrated instead of shattered by pain and abandonment. I could see thriving ambition in one girl, ringing of the same I see in my daughter. And the little boy dancing towards the end is just like my son, who finds it the most entertaining thing on earth to shake his booty side to side. Knowing the types of things these children have been through tells me that they are being healed by Love. (If you absolutely can't watch it after the kids go to bed or sometime this weekend, here is a link to the 4 minute version.) 

This August, Kate is taking a team to Kenya for a visit. My kids and I are going to send something along with her for the kids. 23 are girls, so we'll be making flower headbands. Maybe you make something that would bless them too. 4 are boys. And so far, I'm at a loss as to what to send for the boys. Any ideas?

We also want to do a Lemonmade stand. This small effort helps the kids in this community in a very specific and very urgent way (read more here). I bet you already put "Have a lemonade stand" on your summer list. Maybe you could have one that benefits the Belwop community, and talk to your kids about how blessed they are to be able to go to school.

You can also follow The Belwop Project on Instagram now at @belwopproject. I was holding back tears reading about the newest handful of boys to join the family. To be more accurate, I was holding back tears reading about WHY they needed Belwop to be their home.

I just wonder which dots God plans to connect next. I wonder to what extent He wants to use my family, in light of our time, talents and treasure. I wonder if He wants to use your family too to extend a hand to Belwop.

This calls for prayer, friends. And surrender. And a letting go of my jaded-ness. And my pride. And my clingy attitude regarding my resources. Because this is His story. And I want to be a part of it.

Because whether you're a homemaker in Montana (me!) or an orphan in Kenya, the gospel of Jesus is all we've got.


Sunday, June 23, 2013


Well, in three years, I don't know that I've ever been away from blogging for that long. I mean, the moving thing had to catch up with me sometime. It just got to be too much when you added in both my kids' birthdays, our first out of town guests, the launch of @salvage517 on Instagram, the end of the school season, a 5th grade graduation, and Father's Day all heaped into one pile of crazy. All that equals no blogging.

But the dust has settled enough for me to share this one snippet of our recent adventures, our family's first trip to Yellowstone. We made it a marathon of a day, leaving at 9 am and returning home well past midnight. Here are some favorite memories.

(note the California hat, with a grizzly. so fitting.)
This is one of those imperative, slightly annoying shots moms are required to take. That's the whole reason that bear is there. For mothers to say, "Climb up on there kids, and look at me!" I'm not ashamed.

Some real grizzlies who get to live here because they were rescued. They were so awesome. I wanted to hug them a little. 

New wolf stuffed animals. Since we have a shortage of those around here. Wait, the opposite of that.

 Huckleberry ice cream. Mmmmmmmm. And see that brown circle next to her left elbow? That's where we missed our turn and were practically to the Grand Tetons before we realized it.

NBD. Bison we could reach out and touch. Total road hogs.  

Yellowstone style. Naturally, I had to bring my vintage binocs*.
*normally referred to as binoculars, they were only ever called binocs in my home growing up.

This is called, "Please, crazy wind, don't blow my hat off into that geyser behind me."

It's pretty ridiculous to try to capture the glory of a place like Yellowstone with a camera, and much more ridiculous with a phone kind. But just trust me. It was a glorious day, full of the majesty of creation. All of it points to Him. I don't know how so many people can visit this place every day and still question that we have an incredible, unsearchable, omnipotent Creator in heaven, so generously telling us about Himself, right before our eyes, in vivid, living, breathing Technicolor.

It was a privilege to see what He had to share about Himself. A humbling privilege, the kind that just makes you long for more.

I hope you have a great Monday. I pray your eyes are opened today to what God wants to show you about Himself, in your town, in your kids, in your world.


Thursday, June 06, 2013

salvage517 coming to a phone near you

I normally don't love to mix my side businesses...whatever they may be that given season...with my blog here. When Shauna and I had the girl's clothing and accessories business called tidbit, we had a shared, secondary blog, Cake & Cotton, on which to promote our wares. But that's not an option anymore.

So I'll keep this short and sweet just in case some of you are interested. If not, just click away and come back when I have something more typical to share with you. :)

If you click on the salvage517 button on the right, you will be led to my etsy store. However, I'm MOVING my little shop to Instagram. You can find it at @salvage517. It's that simple.

And I'm having a "grand opening" of sorts this coming Monday, June 10th, beginning at 9 am, PST. If you're interested, and you are on Instagram, please follow along!

Here are some sneak peeks, I've been calling them, just to give you an idea of what will be available. There are two kinds of things I'll be selling. Vintage resale as seen in the pics below, and stuff that I've made (such as jewelry and pillow covers) from salvaging vintage keys, trinkets, quilt tops, etc. ALL sorts of things will be on sale Monday, including some new color combinations of my most popular item, the vintage key necklaces.

The way to "purchase" something on Instagram is to enter your Paypal email address and zip code  (so I can figure out shipping) into the comments under the item. If you are the first one to do so on that item, you claim it, and are committed to buying it. Then, the next day, I send you a Paypal invoice. If you don't ever use Paypal, any email address will do. I just need something to send you the electronic payment request. Then, you have the option to pay with a variety of methods.

I hope you enjoy the sneak peeks and follow along with the upcoming sale! See the last photo for a special giveaway on IG too. If you screen shot and REPOST that one on IG (you can find it on the @salvage517 feed) and use the hashtag indicated, you will be entered to win. I'm going to do another giveaway in a day or two as well, for some vintage children's books. Mmmmm. Nothing better than old books.

Have a great rest of the week!


Sunday, June 02, 2013

Camping and almost hitting the earth's core I think

Both of my littles have birthdays in May.
And since we are now in a home away from what feels like home, with no family or friends within a thousand mile radius, we decided to celebrate them by going on our first family trip since we moved to MT two months ago.
By the way, it was my second camping trip ever. I'm getting sorta good at it. See my s'more? It has been refined to this magical combination: dark chocolate, coconut covered marshmallows, and cinnamon grahams.
These guys are camping naturals. They are in their element in the wild.
One thing I'm not so good at is called going inside of a mountain, underground for a long, long tour. Oh, granted, it was a crazy amazing natural phenomenon - these caverns - but I have psychological issues from living in CA for my whole life. If MT had earthquakes, I'd have been out. I used to get nervous sitting under a freeway overpass in traffic for more than a few seconds.
But mind over matter. Just keep swimming, as Dory says. I totally survived the center of the earth. What was weird was that the deeper we descended - oh, and there were zillions of steps down into clammy darkness - the colder it got. Which was surprising, since I am pretty the earths' core is still made of molten lava.

(That pic below, top right, is the mountain that I was inside of for God knows how long. From the outside.)
And then check out the archery action. I secretly - well, it's not a secret anymore - want to be a really awesome archer. Like way before Katniss and Merida and every little girl with a braid wanted to be one. So since my little guy got a cool set for his birthday, I've been waiting for the perfect moment to hijack it. And hijack it I did. After a little practice, I came up with some challenges. Featured below are my husband and I attempting to best each other. You had to run from a certain tree, leap off the orange rock, release the arrow while in the air, and hit the boxes. It was hard. My husband beat me. Darn it. It was probably because of his pretty sweet leap as seen below.

On the way home, we saw this sign off the side of the road.
I don't know if the sign-maker had an agenda of any kind. But it did remind me of the reason my weekend away with my family was so fun.
Choice has a lot to do with it. It was fun partly because we chose to live. Not just spectate. I chose to plan a camping trip (even though I have little experience, and even less confidence with the whole camping scenario). We chose to go into that crazy mountain. I chose to push down my temptation to freak out and instead enjoy God's hidden creativity. (How many other mountains house the same beauty just because He wants them to?) I chose to get up and shoot arrows with my family. I chose to get outside my comfort zone, more than a couple times. And stuff totally worked out. Memories were made. We had a great time.

It doesn't always happen that way. Obviously. Last week, I was choosing good things, and some of them just didn't work out. People were disappointed. That's life too. Unpredictable. A good choice does not guarantee a good outcome.
But I keep choosing, always silently celebrating my God-given free will. I can choose how I want to live. And I can choose Him. No matter which things do or don't go my way, He is where I always find real life.
And life is a beautiful choice.
Hope you all had a great weekend.