Category Archives: Serious Linky Info

Valleys & Mountains

I’ve been visiting my folks up in Rose Valley for the past week.  It’s my annual “I’m tired of parenting, can the boys and I come stay for a while?” trip, which they always kindly say “Yes.”

Yesterday, in the midst of preparing to go to Big 5 to get New Balance 800 shoes for 40.00 (something my father scouts the ads for on a weekly basis:  gotta stock up on those high numbered New Balances!  No offense to my Nike-employed friends), my dad passed me the Longview Daily News which had an article about Mountain Ministries.  People ask what my dad does up in Rose Valley, and connecting with these folks is a big part of it.  It’s one of the times I see him get so excited that he can’t stop smiling.

Here’s the article, which sums up the ministry much better than I can.  I found the online comments interesting, how passionate people are in their experiences of recovery (whether or not MM “works”).  And here’s another outreach of theirs.  This is what happens when churches/denominations/ministries/people come together – change and transformation.

May we all count our blessings and give back out of our abundance.

More Than Much Ado

“Sigh no more, ladies:  sigh no more.”

I love Emma Thompson.  I have since high school when watching “Much Ado About Nothing” . . . over . . . and over . . . and over.

This is so much more than much ado.  Please note:  it’s disturbing and graphic.  But since people in my community have responded to a God-placed call to help in such situations, raising my awareness, I couldn’t not watch, even though it hurt.

It hurts.

God:  freedom, redemption, peace – overwhelm such women with these.

I Love to Get Emails Like This

Kelly Bean is an amazing woman I connected with through a F/friend, and then we actually met in Connecticut for the first time, even though we only live 30 minutes from each other.  She is a contributer to Off the Map and a codreamer for Northwest Emerging Women Leaders and an amazing woman who brings creativity, care, and beautiful atmosphere wherever she goes.  Kelly and her family are part of a faith community that looks nothing like traditional church, and despite (or potentially because of ) the lack of “hierarchical organizational structure”, they have organized an amazing trip to bring supplies and help meet needs in East Africa.  Please send prayers out for her and her group as they are Light bearers in their journey.

Dear Friends

It is with great excitement that I update you…  Our East Africa adventure is 5 days away! {note from Aj:  Okay, so I’m late in posting this  :)}

Depart Portland for Seattle Monday Nov 5

Arrive Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday 6th (via Amsterdam and London, Ken travels through London and we are flying through Amsterdam)

Visit projects in Nairobi area 7th, 8th

Friday to Rwanda for one week

Friday 16th fly to Burundi through Monday 19th

19th return to Nairobi for flight home

20th pm home

The 7 of us traveling from Portland, Vancover and Seattle have been happily overwhelmed with the generosity of our communities, friends, families and networks…

Because of you we will carry with us all this and more:

  • Specially printed team shirts for the Gasogi Village “football” team of 35 in Rwanda, 15 Excellent quality soccer balls, ball pumps and ball needles, new soccer socks for the whole team, some soccer shoes and shorts
  • Two laptops and women’s clothing for HIV treatment ministry in Kenya
  • Clothing and shoes enough for three orphanages
  • Toys, books, treats, stickers, toothbrushes
  • Books, notes from kids in our communities and school supplies for a school
  • Money to help support the school lunch program at the Mathare Mennonite school (.03 a day for lunch, only 1/2 the kids can afford to eat lunch)
  • 15 soccer balls to distribute to kids in various locations
  • Courier service to Americans living in Kenya and Rwanda bringing their Christmas gifts from their families
  • Gifts of encouragement for the African leaders who will be hosting us
  • Elliot raised 340.00 at his school to help with school for the Batwa/pygmy children in Burundi! (good job Elliot!)
  • Funds to purchase food for Africans in need
  • Funds to help with ARV’s for a group of HIV positive kids
  • Donations to cover the excess baggage charges.
  • Donations toward microfinance projects

THANKS TO EACH OF YOU FOR YOUR CARE FOR THE CHILDREN OF AFRICA and for these amazing projects we will visit

We would be grateful for your prayers for our good health, safe travel. We will be joined by 19 friends from South Africa in Rwanda and are looking forward to this aspect of our cross cultural experience as we team build all together.

We would be very grateful for your prayers for our girls at home.

If you have not had the chance to give yet and would like to, these are the needs that remain . . .

1.  Contributions to help cover trip expenses are welcome

2.  Donations to deliver directly to the ministries and projects. More on that also when we return!

{Sidenote from Aj:  contact me if you can contribute in any way}

With Full hearts and Full bags!

Kelly, Ken and Elliot Bean

A Conspiracy with Twinkle Lights

Today I put away the jack-o-lantern candles and the “boo” candle holders.  Halloween has come and gone.  What does that mean?  Knock knock:  hello, onslaught of Christmas mayhem.  Big Box Stores are already on top of the frenzy:  WalMart had their first “Black Friday” sale – you know the sale that’s supposed to come *after* Thanksgiving, not after Halloween?

It makes my heart hurt, both thinking of the preparations that I can never get on top of as well as thinking of the objectification Christmas has become – consuming, not giving as God gave to us.

While listening to an Imago Dei podcast during a 3am feeding, I became interested in Rick McKinley’s mention of The Advent Conspiracy:   an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by worshipping Jesus through compassion, not consumption.

I wonder what others would think if they weren’t on board with the concept:  it wouldn’t necessarily be easy to explain to others who expect some goodies at the holiday season.   You know how it feels when someone makes a donation “in your name” – except it’s to a cause they enjoy, but not so much you?  But then again, this would certainly open up doors for conversation, eh?

It wouldn’t necessarily be easy to make such a countercultural expression of the holidays, but it would be good.  Making presents takes time:  buying “stuff” can be so much quicker.  Except for when the bills pour in and we’re trying to work off the Christmas cheer/debt.  Our most recent Beth Moore bible study had a statement:  “stop equating hard with bad.”

What would this look like for you?   What would it look like to worship more and spend less?

A Time to Gather & A Place to Share

This past weekend Northwest Yearly Meeting had their first ever all-board retreat. At our annual sessions it was approved to create new boards and start from scratch with board members: a massive undertaking. This weekend was the first time for us to gather together, to look at the purpose and vision of our board, and to dream of how we’ll work together (both individually within our board and collectively with other boards and the Yearly Meeting as a whole). Sounds like oodles of fun, eh? Well, when you spend your time scouting out the best deal on mandarin oranges and wondering what in the world your child ate that could make his poo smell oh so foul, the idea of meetings with adults doesn’t seem all that bad.

The best part? Connecting with the individuals who were present. So many seeking spirits, so many dedicated individuals, so many folks saying, “I’m not quite sure how I’m called, but I’m here none the less!” The themes I heard through the weekend:

  • questioning: but a questioning that involves trust and faith rather than doubt
  • excitement: “leaning into the harness, raring to go”
  • doubt: does moving “bits and pieces” really make a difference if the people of the Yearly Meeting aren’t living out Christ’s call to “Go! Feed my sheep!” in their everyday lives?
  • isolation/loneliness: an ache to connect with others who are questing and questioning as well
  • hope: when the people of God are gathered together, something is bound to happen

I chatted with a number of folks about a variety of resources I’ve found helpful in my own personal journey: very random in nature, but I figured I’d throw it up in one solitary post a) because I’m lazy, and 2) because it’s almost dinnertime and I’m hungry. 🙂

Labyrinths: an interview with Jonny Baker of

Women leader resources: Convergence, a gathering of Northwest emerging women leaders in January

Random helpful books: Emerging Churches, Emerging Worship, The Shaping of Things to Come, Exiles, The Present Future, The Secret Message of Jesus (especially the last chapter “Plotting Goodness”), Cultivating a Life for God

Some worship gatherings that seem to “get it”: Evergreen (check out the pastor’s blog: good stuff, especially on community), Church of the Apostles (Seattle), Jacob’s Well, Solomon’s Porch, Vineyard Boise

This is SO not definitive. And yes, it’s relying heavily on “emerging” sources: but that’s where I’ve found folks who are actively asking, seeking, and knocking. Hope it’s enough to get you started. What are some books/websites/gatherings/resources that have really shaped your current lifeview and challenged you to keep questing for those “Oh, there you are, God!” moments? Keep the ideas flowing!

Do I Have to Agree with the Rev?

So I did it: I read Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church. Those of you in EC circles probably will think, “Why? He’s a punk!” And those of you in Quaker circles will probably think, “Who?”

See, Mark Driscoll pastors a rather hearty-sized church called Mars Hill up in Seattle: this story chronicles his journey creating a gathering aimed at 18-35 year olds in one of the least churched areas of the nation. Dan Kimball says it best:

“After reading a book like this, you can never go back to being an inward focued church without a missions. Even if you disagree with Mark about some of the things he says, you cannot help but be convinced to your core about what it means to have a heart for those who don’t know Jesus.”

Because there certainly is an amount of his actions that I question. And yet after reading this book, I can honestly say it is the confessions of a man seeking after God’s heart and call for a specific culture. It’s also spurred me into a mini-crisis of faith . . . but that’s for further blog posts, if at all.

While this book is autobiographical, it’s also a great practical resource for thinking about how, why, and what to do when starting a church. It would be easy for folks to write it off saying, “Well, Mark did it this way, and I don’t agree with that, so I don’t think it applies.” I believe the truths he speaks of are that – truths: the distinctives, or ways they manifest themselves in specific places and cultures, will look different. His church tracks the tithes of members: if your pledge is short, they call you up – moreso out of concern (usually it’s because of a lost job or failing health, and they want to be a support), but also to make sure you are doing your part as a member. That kind of “parental” accountiblity kinda makes my skin crawl . . . but then again, my church just went through somewhat of a budget crisis, and Mars Hill is doing *just* fine. His sermons can be loud, over-the-top, and sometimes bordering on X-rated as he tackles the subjects of marriage, sex, and sexual purity. He doesn’t hold anything back, which has turned many people off. But I found it to be strangely refreshing (though don’t get any ideas, Gregg; you wouldn’t want my mother shaking her head at you). And I can imagine why young adults in Seattle would be attracted to his potentially-vulgar talk: he’s telling it like it is, no bars held, which doesn’t happen very often in Christianity. Folks are looking for answers; if we don’t give answers, they’ll go someplace else.
Not only is this book a “confessional,” but it’s also a practical guide in what is involved in building a church, at least in his case. Again, I believe the distinctives will look different each time, but many of the truths are universal, such as how to set up a governing/elders board or raise funds or balance the roles of family member and pastor at the same time. He read some “noted authors” regarding structure, the culture he was ministering to, pastoring, but the majority of his leadings came directly from Scripture. He found that God provided an amazing amount of guidence in the ways the churches were established in the New Testament as well as providing a foundation for right living. I found that incredibly refreshing: to be honest, I’m getting a little tired of people’s opinions and arguments – I’d rather hear it straight from the source. And I’d say that’s something that’s lacking in a lot of our churches today: we preach our own mission and try to work Christ’s mission into it – pretty sad.
I did struggle with some of his fundamentalist stands. For instance, his church does not allow women to be elders or pastors. Coming from my Quaker background, that certainly does not resonate with me: I know a number of women who I believe had a call placed on their hearts to serve in that capacity, and I believe people were blessed and God’s kingdom furthered because of it. But maybe it’s something that’s a call for his specific mission area . . . I struggle because I’ve heard the pain of Seattle women who feel their ministry has been hurt because of Mars Hills’ influence in the area, but not being directly in Washington and experiencing it, it’s heresay on both sides. But the least I can say is Driscoll lays it flat out on the table:

“Eventually I’ll write some books on these subjects, but for the sake of brevity, I will now simply come out of the closet and reveal that I am an intense biblical literalist who believes that the man is the head of the home, that the man should provide for his family, that children are a blessing, and that we would not have so many deceived feminists running around if men were better husbands and fathers because the natural reaction of godly women to godly men is trust and respect. For some, this theological instruction was as popular as a fart in an elevator, and they left our church. But the more than one hundred couples we trained in the first few years of the class remain happily married today and serve Jesus as missionaries, knowing that their marriage is for the gospel as much as the gospel is for their marriage.” (67) Hmmm. . .

So yeah: it’s mouthy. It’s more on the fundamental side. It’s honest. It seems to be a way that God’s moving in parts of the Seattle area. Have you ever found truth in things you didn’t quite agree with? What did you do with it?

CPT Rescued: Cool and Sad, All at the Same Time

An instant message notifier pops up on my computer screen.

jschwanz: Have you heard the news?
Aj: Mp. No. (I had my fingers on the wrong keys.)
jschwanz: the christian peacemaker team was rescued
Aj: oh, yes: did see that. thank you 🙂
jschwanz: heard it on npr
Aj: yes: very cool, and sad – all at the same time
jschwanz: yup

I heard it this morning while catching the “real news” portion of the Today Show. My heart jumped a bit: hurrah! They’re safe! And then my heart paused: if only it had been sooner . . .

It does me and others no good to think in such a way. I don’t believe that God destined Tom Fox to die in such a way, but I do believe that God will use this horrible event and redeem it to be something to bring about good. What is God doing now? I believe Tom Fox would want us to keep attuned to the Spirit’s movements rather than spend time in regret and “if only” – to question does not honor his memory, his actions which seemed to go unquestioningly, selflessly after God’s leadings of compassion.

I came across this interesting post while looking at news stories.

7. The number of Christian Peacemakers in Iraq is extremely small. Their positive effect and peacemaking work is disproportionate to their size.

9. The goodwill that the Christian peacemakers elicited from the community around them may have had a great deal to do with the intelligence that appears to have played an important part in their release.

10. Christian peacemakers point that what the friends and family of Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden, James Loney and Tom Fox have been through in the last 4 months is very similar to what the families of detainees of American and British forces have been going through on a daily basis for 3 years.

The last one struck me. As we have rallied for the release of “our” hostages, outraged that their rights and humanity were stripped away, what is my call towards those that are experiencing the same . . . at the hands of *our* people?

8. When the peacemakers were taken hostage, calls for their release flooded in from Muslims all around the world.

It’s time to step up.

Folks Weighing In

My hubby’s leaving for a trip, my son’s engaging in Bouncy Toddler Endless Energy antics, and I have not so much time to blog. SO, go check out folks who do:

Wess & Zach wrote responses to my post “Bread of Life Shouldn’t Make You Choke” (Quakes and sacraments).

Brother Maynard wrote a post regarding “Church Detox: Does It Have To Be Cold Turkey?

I love blogging’s ability to help get ideas out there: now if only blogging could provide a qualified caretaker for my son so I could actually have time to respond. 🙂


It reminds me of “Baby steps to four o’clock.” is a website for the $5 philanthropist. Its based on the premise that many of us would gladly give a few minutes of our time and a few dollars if we knew it could actually affect someone or something we care about. By joining together with other people who are passionate about the same things we are, we can make a meaningful difference.

It’s times like these that I love the internet.