What we can see in the smoke (even if we can’t see through it)

August in the Boise area usually means smoke in the valley.

Whether from Idaho fires, or those from Oregon and Washington, it’s not uncommon to have poor air quality and visibility this time of year. In addition to my general distaste for southern Idaho summer heat, I am saddened every year to think of the devastation the fires bring to our forests. I know the fiery heat births new life from the pinecones to regenerate the wooded hillsides, but it still bothers me to see the char-scarred hills.

Yet I learn something beautiful from the smoke and its carnage. Read More

7 Ways to Help Orphans without Adopting

7-ways-to-help-orphans“I think you might have helped me decide not to adopt.”

She was worried that I’d be dismayed at her words, thinking I wanted everyone to adopt. I had just delivered a fairly candid, vulnerable message to a group of women on the topic of adoption. In our conversation afterward, I reassured her of what I’ve long held to be true:

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@kirsten828″ suffix=”#adoption”]Not everyone is called to adopt. But every child deserves a family. [/inlinetweet]

Everyone can do something to help orphans. And I do wish everyone would. I base my opinion on God’s adoption of us into His family (Ephesians 1:5), and the exhortation in James 1:27 that we show pure and blameless religion by looking after orphans (and widows).

In honor of National Adoption Month here are seven ways to help orphans even if you don’t plan to adopt:  Read More

The wonderful “after”

BalloonsThey say you can’t outgive God.

Last week’s LIFT event was the culmination of months of prayer, planning, and labor. Pam, Genny, and I have been collaborating since the spring of 2015 to help women address the tough issues of identity, purpose, and the challenges to living them fully. We have shared our thoughts and hopes for those who would attend over many hours and countless ounces of black coffee.

And then, last Thursday, it finally happened. The tickets were sold out. Chairs were packed tightly. Candles lit. Cupcakes baked. Flowers arranged. And our messages were shared.

It was surreal–after these many weeks of preparation–to have it done. And oh-so-sweet to see it come to fruition and to welcome all those women through the doors.  Read More

Honorable /ˈänərəb(ə)l/

HonorableTheft. Murder. Human Trafficking.

All we have to do is read the daily news headlines to find account after account of dishonorable actions. I find the news utterly demoralizing; I hate to see the many ways mankind can injure, defame, and oppress one another. Depravity and sin seem to run rampant.

In Philippians 4:8, Paul exhorts his readers to think on things that are respectable or honorable. I wonder what the news headlines were in their day. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is an intensely personal letter, one in which he consistently encourages them that though suffering will be part of their lives, great joy can be had in the midst of it.  Read More

Let’s do lunch

LovelyI pack school lunches every. single. morning.

And I have for nearly ten years now. Last week, as I stood in my kitchen, staring down at the empty lunch boxes on my kitchen counter, I got a little grumpy about having to do it again. “I’m so over making lunches.” But, I cobbled together a collection of leftovers, juice pouches, baby carrots and the cursory apple and sent my people on their way.

Just a couple hours later, I stood at the stainless gates that are my refrigerator and bemoaned that there was nothing I’d like to eat. Nevertheless, I rummaged through and found something to throw in my gullet.  Read More

For our school teachers (an apology and a prayer)

I felt like a schmuck.

Today in church, my pastor called all the educators in our congregation forward so we could collectively pray over them as the new school year begins. He noted our beautiful state of Idaho spends less than 48 other states on education. (Only Utah spends less.) My heart sank and I internally lamented how much I wish that were different. I instantly began plotting ways I could personally supply the needs of the many classrooms in my school… city… state. Ideas began to swarm in my head: fundraisers, donations, gifts. We can do this!

And then I winced.

I recalled this snarky post I made on Facebook just ten days ago.  Read More

For when grown women have tantrums over what to wear

What to WearWhen my daughter was young, getting her dressed was a chore. 

It shouldn’t have been so hard… she had both a closet and dresser burgeoning with darling Gymboree ensembles. Nevertheless, our morning routines were never pleasant. Many hours were lost to screaming fits over the necessity of wearing pants, shoes and shirts. (She may not have been the only one screaming.)

Tights were the worst offenders. She was certain those tights were going to end up around her ankles. Read More

What $10 can do (Lessons from Lent)

What $10 Can DoHave you ever thought your chump change couldn’t change a life?

In the comment section of last week’s post, I mentioned that I was observing seven types of fasts during the course of Lent this year. (Care to join me? Tell me in the comments below and I’ll add you to our virtual book group.)

As part of my “food fast” last week I tallied the cost of the food I ate each day. This cultivated in me new mindfulness of not just the expense, but of how readily I buy food for convenience, not nutrition or need.

It’s just $10. Or is it?  Read More

… and it will be given

I just wasn’t feeling it.

Overflowing cup - Luke 6:38It had been a long day in the middle of a very full week. Youth group loomed on the calendar horizon, an unwelcome commitment on this particular Wednesday. As an introvert, large group gatherings tap everything in me, so going ‘empty’ isn’t a great way to begin an evening of ministry. And 60 middle and high schoolers (whom I’ve come to genuinely adore) are a tougher crowd than most.

I’d love to tell you that I prayed for God to enable me to pour into those adolescent lives for two hours last night. I should have. Sadly, the thought didn’t even cross my mind. Read More

No More Worms for Christmas Dinner

It’s the Christmas tradition I’m ready to ditch. 

With-nessLiving away from extended family means most of our holiday celebrations are either shared with friends or spent with merely my four fellow Holmbergians. More often than not, it’s the latter. As an introvert, that’s often okay with me. Other times it produces a subtle but steady pain, similar to a headache that you don’t quite realize you have until you find yourself spitting nails at your spouse — utterly unprovoked.  Read More