Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Show me the money: part 2

continued from yesterday's post...

In thinking about the money coming our way, I am surprised not only by how much desire was awoken.....but by how much confidence and stability just the thought the rebate brings me.

I think of the $600 and I take a sigh of relieve. It's almost as if having unexpected money and the ability to spend that money will "fix" problems in my life and lead to a more fulfilling life. In listening to many of the remarks by politicians in regards to the stimulus seems our government feels the same. The ability to spend money will "fix" our economic problems.

In realizing this about myself and our country, it's cause me to question if it is right that our country's health/stability (which is largely based on economic indicators) is based on how much money we spend? Consider the encouragement the nation received from Pres. Bush after 9/11:

“tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.”


“I have great faith in the resiliency of the economy. And no question about it, this incident affected our economy, but the markets open tomorrow, people go back to work and we'll show the world.”

In a time of economic uncertainty, yes there was encouragement to mourn, yes there was encouragement to pray for those affected by the tragedy but there was also the encouragement to return to life as normal. To work, to earn money and to “enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” I like how the author of put it. In the face of uncertainty, America was encouraged “to go shopping and spend their money to show the terrorists that they will not break us.”

How different would it be if our country’s health was measured based on how we treated others or how much we gave away rather than how much we spent on ourselves.

Even with this current economic stimulus package, the motivation is highly based on America’s desire to consume. In fact, as most of us are well aware, the government would like nothing less than for all of us to go out and spend the rebate on new toys. It’s just amazing that the solution to having a healthy nation/economy is to encourage people to spend more (even when most people have an average of $8,000 in credit card debt). This stimulus package doesn’t seem to address the real problem causing our economic stability. And would it really be a bad thing if the economy corrected itself and as a nation we learned to live within our means?

Furthermore, I’m quite skeptical if the rebate checks will really help in the long run considering that most people will spend this extra money at some big corporation. I’ve have particularly enjoyed Dave Berry’s comments regarding this very phenomenon:
"Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?
A. It is money that the federal
government will send to taxpayers.
Q. Where will the government get this
A. From taxpayers.
Q. So the government is giving me back my own
A. Only a smidgen.
Q. What is the purpose of this payment?
A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set,
thus stimulating the economy.
Q. But isn’t that stimulating the economy
of China?
A. Shut up. "

to be continued tomorrow...

Show me the money: part 1

One of the hotter topics around the Kirk table these days is what to do with the rebate check coming our way (or at least we think is coming our way). Opinions have ranged from giving it all away to a struggling food pantry to buying a new wardrobe to a new camera lens. And yes there have been weeping and gnashing of teeth. However despite all the "discussion", both of us always come back to the fact that we are Christians and we want to honor God in using this money. But with competing personal desires, it’s hard to sort out what is “right” in God’s eyes with what tickles our materialistic fancies.

In many ways I resonate with a recent John Piper blog entry where he comments that

Nobody in the world will see you spend your [rebate check] on yourself and conclude that Christ is your treasure. They will assume you are just like them, no matter how loudly you thank God for this boon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend it on yourself (the way we do with most of what we earn). Not everything we do can look different from the world—eat, pay utilities, fill up the car, wear clothes (even thrift-store clothes). And yes, we hope (somehow) that spending on ourselves in some way contributes to our being more Christ-exalting people. But do we really need this money? Very few do. We would have gotten on fine without it.
If we didn’t know it was coming, we wouldn’t even be feeling the desires we are feeling right now.”

The moment I heard money was coming our way, desires were not just awoken, they exploded. I can’t tell you how many hours have been wasted visioning of new gadgets, new cars, and fun vacations. As I flirt with these desires, I can help but realize how much materialism has been ingrained not only in my personal life, but in our country as well.

to be continued tomorrow...

Monday, April 28, 2008

My wifes spring hobby

Fun spring photo's Matt recently took. Too bad it started snowing again today!!!! I guess that means I'll need to go buy more dirt and flowers!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The New Conspiritors

If you have been involved with any church with in the past 10 years you've probably noticed some new "buzz" terms floating around such as "the emerging church", the "monastic movement", "mosaic churches", and the newest "missional church".

Most the time I laugh at all these terms because in some ways it seems they are all trying to do the same thing. Or it seems like a trend that will die off and be replaced by some new term. More out of skepticism rather than a desire to learn about these movements, I picked up "The New Conspirators" by Tom Sine which just came out not to long ago. I was pleasantly surprised. Tom does a fairly good job summarizing what each movement is about and the heart behind each movement.

I'm not necessarily ready to jump on board with any certain movement...but I like the challenges each of these movements pose to the church at large in America.

The Controversy Over Wright

I have to admit that while I haven't followed this political controversy closely at all, I have been curious to get a fuller picture of both the sermon snippets floating around the media as well as the man behind the statements. I was glad to finally find a program that looked into this controversy a bit more than just a 30 second sound bite.

While the statements are still hard to hear, the context was extremely helpful to hear. If you're like me and want a different take on this whole controversy than what the mainstream media is offering, I recommend taking the time to watch this interview. It's a bit long but I think worth it. And I think it offers some food for thought for those who of us who are Christian.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Wedding: New York Highlight #3

The main reason we went to New York was for Matt to photograph a co-worker's daughter's wedding. The wedding was a lot of fun complete with the bride and groom getting covered in silly string after their first dance. I guess that's a family tradition that we found out about after the fact. You can see some of Matt's favorite wedding shots at his photo blog.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Modern Diner: New York highlight #2

As mentioned before, Wellsville is a small town. Being such it took Matt and I about 15 minutes driving around trying to find some sort of breakfast place. You'd think it'd be pretty obvious where the local cafe's would be...but I guess you have to be a local to recognize them.

Anyways, the one we found was great! Not only could you get an omelet, toast and coffee for $4.35 (when was the last time you have seen prices like that), the coffee was amazing! So amazing that we had to go back the next day just to get the coffee and enjoy both it and the atmosphere.

The restaurant was called The Modern Diner, complete with not so modern decor, the locals to match, good coffee and instructions on how you should behave while there. If you're ever in Wellsville, I'd highly recommend this place.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

All things Gucci: New York highlight #1

On the van ride from Ohare to the parking lot where we left our car, we were joined by a British family with two small children (ages roughly 2 and 3). The following conversation insued (please read with strong british accent).

Mummy, "ok, boys now we got to go get the car."
3 year old responds, "how will we find our car mummy?"
Mummy, "well, do you remember what color our car is?"
3 year old excitedly, "BLACK!"
Dad turning around from the front seat: "nooooo...our car isn't black, mummy would never get a black car" then with a smirk in his eye and in a hushed voice, "unless it was a Gucci".

Sarah's trains of thought during this conversation...
Thought #1) Wow
Thought #2) This kids have no idea what Gucci means...I wonder if they'll grow up with Gucci being a norm in life.
Thought #3) Hmmm...maybe I should market this idea to Gucci. Purses, cars...they really arn't that different from each other.

It was a very funny conversation...made more so by the accents. However the conversation was nicely resolved by the mom piping back at the dad that she "would never get a black car...even if it was a Gucci". The world is now back in order.

Oh, and when did Gucci make cars? I missed the boat on that one. Guess I'll have to come up with another brilliant idea to sell to a giant corperation.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New York

This past weekend we were in New York for a wedding shoot. It was Matt's first "destination" wedding. And my what a destination it was...Wellington, New York. Where is Wellington, New York you may ask? We didn't know either. But it's a small, small town (I think it might have actually been a village) on the western side of New York near the Pennsylvania boarder.

The town was fun, local people interesting, wedding beautiful and weather excellent. I'll post some of our highlights over the next few days.

But now it's back to normal life which means Matt is off again traveling for the week. This week he's in Chicago conducting interviews at Northwestern College.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Great Bill Moyer's video journal on Hunger today in America. Since it seems like this is an issue that is only going to's worth looking at now.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I never thought...

...I'd say I'm glad to smell the scent of fertilizer in the air again.
Spring is in the air, and some flowers along the road.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What does my husband do when he's traveling...

Go to a beach with another man!

Matt had the chance to get up at 5:00am this morning and go catch the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean. While I'm sure he'll pay for it later today :)...I'm sure it was good for his soul.

His trip is going well and he's gotten to see history (former slave markets, plantation houses and things like that). For us as Californians, this is a lot of history we've only read about so I'm sure it's been interesting to actually be in these places and hear stories about the impact that part of history has had and is still having on that part of the world today.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

travel prayers

Matt is off once again. This time to Charleston, SC. He'll be there for a few day's on a video shoot documenting a specific InterVarsity chapter and what they have done with the topic of multi-ethnicity.
Finn is also off (our Norwegian roomie) and about. He was a bit more ambitious and went to Thailand for a week.

If you thin of it, please keep them both in your prayers. Matt has still been fighting a stubborn cold and I'm hoping the airports germs wont make him worse. You can pray also that he will be able to film with God's eyes and not his own.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Pray and Nehemiah

So this weeks Sunday study was on Nehemiah's prayer to God. Overall it challenged me to consider if there is anything that I would care deeply enough about that it would cause me to pray in earnest for four months!

Nehemiah heard of the desolation that Jerusalem was still in and he was moved deeply to pray. In many ways I understand that as I hear of friends in anguish or situation around the world. There is often a gut instinct to fall before God in prayer. However, what struck me this time is that Nehemiah continued in that prayer for four months! We only get of three paragraph's of Nehemiah's prayer, but it sums up what he prayed to God over the course of four months. It makes me wonder how much his prayer changed during the course of that time. Did he begin by praying asking God to fix the situation. Did he ask God to send other's to rebuild the city? I wonder at what point Nehemiah began to ask God what he could do?

It's so much easier to pray for God to fix a situation or pray that He would send others to fix what distresses us. It's a whole other thing to ask God how he wants us to be involved in the situation. To do that is just down right scary. But I wonder how much more God desires us to pray that prayer. To ask how we can be used.

I think about some of the prayers I have prayed for four months or longer and know that I have not always asked God if I was a part of the solution. Or even if there were ways he wanted me involved. I'll be curious to hear God's response as I begin to shift my prayers and ask how he might want me to be involved in the situations I care deeply about.

Monday, April 07, 2008

April Prayer Letter

Above you will find our newest prayer letter. Click on each image to view and if you currently do not receive our prayer letter via mail or email but would like to...please let us know!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Favorite New Short Film

A Ninja Pays Half My Rent. How cool would that be?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Planning to be Spontaneous

It has occurred to me today that since leaving a college lifestyle...I haven't been as spontaneous as I used to be. I don't just go to a fast food joint at 10:30 at night anymore. Or call up someone to see if they want to catch a movie in 5 minutes. Everything has become planned out in advance by about a month! I think I'm going to need to plan a spontaneous day in June. Or does that defeat the purpose?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New Photos Up on Matt's Photo Blog

Matt has some fun pictures up on his photo blog from this past weekend where his photo group went out to practice taking pictures of the same subject with different lenses. It was a funny day overall. Matt challenged himself by taking pictures of only people meaning that he had to interact with them. And I sat at a coffee shop and randomly began talking with someone who ends up is a former roommate of my supervisor (this confirms my thinking that Madison is a very small town).