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Week in review

June 24, 2011

I’m out at the Wild Goose Festival, but I didn’t want to leave you with empty space! Here are two good posts that I read this week, and a website as a bonus.writing in the journal

  • For those who hurt by Bethany
  • Comparison, Guilt, & Redemption, a guest post on Mary DeMuth’s blog. (p.s. her new book releases soon – check it out, it’s great!)
  • And because this is a scheduled post, I’m just going to point you in the general direction of Sojourner’s Magazine. I realize some of you have never heard of Sojourner’s, so I’d like to introduce you.

I’ll be back here on Monday with a newly designed blog space. Note to email subscribers: you should still see posts next week, but if by some technical error that you don’t, I hope you stick with me and I’ll fix that error right away.  I also hope you’ll swing by here on Monday and check out the new design.

See you Monday!

Photo Credit

Blog update + Wild Goose Festival = Don’t miss this post

June 22, 2011

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled posts to bring you a little update.

Earlier this year, I decided to make an effort to blog at least once per week, no more or less, to give myself a little blogging strength. Apparently, the tactic worked. I now enjoy writing for you so much that I don’t plan to stop any time soon. In fact, I’m bumping it up a notch!

A great team of people steadily contributed their time and energy to help me redesign this space. Thanks to them (and you will definitely hear me singing their praises in the next few weeks) beginning Monday, Kyla’s Joy will have a new look. It’s true. Spread the word – you won’t want to miss the unveiling!

The more, the merrier. The more you read, comment, and share my posts, the more I am encouraged to write. In turn, I discover more ideas to make this website a community space, not just a space for me to preach what I’m learning. I hope you’ll benefit from the site just as much (or more) as I benefit from creating it.

Next up: This week I’m off to the Wild Goose Festival, where conversations about community, faith, and loving people, will flow like music. It’s not too late to change your weekend plans, if you are at all interested in attending. I will be there because I know that the festival will generate conversations that will be like food for my soul.

When I have an opportunity to see and hear how others are tangibly and purposefully acting out their beliefs, I am strengthened in my own decisions and actions. Speakers such as Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, Matt Pritchard, Richard Rohr, Bart Campolo and dozens others, have greatly influenced my faith journey. I’m looking forward to some good blog posts as a result, so keep your eyes open. I’m so excited that my eyes are glowing.

Please send me a message here, or on twitter, if you’re going to be there. It would be a great joy for me to hug you in person! If you’re not going to be there, send me a message anyway. I like mail; it makes me feel all mushy inside.

I think that wraps up the updates for now. Thanks for sticking with me.

Keep watch for these great posts ahead:

  • Friday: Week in Review – I try to post these every Friday. There are a lot of great reads on the web each week, so here’s your chance to glimpse what I’ve been reading.
  • Monday: Redesign unveiling – Let’s hope nothing goes awry.
  • Wednesday: How to spot a fake: Nonprofits you don’t want to give your money to
  • …And more to come!

Week in review

June 17, 2011

Wow – Great reading this week! Here’s what I’ve been reading on the web.writing in the journal

What posts did you enjoy this week? Send them along!

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Don’t let the spirit of fear destroy you

June 15, 2011

The spirit of fear comes to destroy us, if we let it.

Learning how to choose peace instead of fear takes practice. Where do you start?

Today I’m writing about my most recent fearful experience, and how I dealt with it. It’s a 2 – for – 1 Wednesday!

This spirit slowly built inside of me until I was unable to think of anything else.

My heart and emotions used to live in a guarded stone castle with a moat and hungry alligators.

 To hear the story, follow the rabbit to my friend Andy’s blog:  Andy in Progress.

How to give extravagantly, when everyone is asking.

June 15, 2011

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There are days when I’m overwhelmed with financial requests. From Facebook, Twitter, news networks, snail mail, email, radio, or word-of-mouth, not one single day passes when I don’t hear of some amazing organization that needs money.

By organization, I also mean church and my six friends at any given time who are fundraising for a great cause. Sometimes I’m that friend who is humbly asking for funds. On this blog alone, there are at least ten social justice organizations worth supporting.

I never have enough money or time to give to everyone that asks, unless I give only $1 or sometimes 50 cents. While I’m sure that if every person in the world gave just one dollar to your cause, you’d be able to save the world from its terrible misfortunes, I do not want to give one dollar to everyone that asks.

Call me stingy, call me un-Christ- like, call me whatever you want, name-calling is fine with me as long as you aren’t being hypocritical.

So what can I do? What can YOU do when you’re being shouted at from all sides with requests?

Narrow it down.

Here’s how:

Choose what topics, what issues, are most important to YOU. Not to your mom, not to your neighbor (those people are important to you so please support them and love them by supporting what they love, but know that you have my permission not to give your life savings to save the pandas just because your mom once saw a panda cough in the zoo), but figure out what is that thing that makes YOUR heart ache the most.

Do you have a heart that all children should have a father figure in their life because you grew up without a dad?

Do you want to take down companies that are controlling our food growth because you don’t want to eat chemically grown food?

Do you want to find a cure for cancer because your grandfather died from cancer?

Do you want to sponsor children so that they can eat fruits and vegetables because you believe that all children have the right to be nourished?

Do you want to protest corrupt government because you have seen its effects?

What issue screams at you, hits your buttons, makes your blood boil, makes you cry, or gives you such great joy that you can’t imagine saying no?

Go, and do that thing. Go, and give extravagantly to that thing. Leave the other great causes for the people who hear those issues shouting at them from the rooftops.

You can’t do everything, but it would be a great shame if you did nothing because you didn’t know which thing to do.

Social Work and Social Justice, Repost

June 10, 2011
These animals bite!

Photo Credit

The following is a repost from 2008, updated. I’m still asking the same questions, but my questions have more depth and experience within them. Am I the only one who asks these questions, and do you think there are answers?

In my process to figure out my calling I’ve thought much about becoming a full-time social worker. Although I’m realizing that social work takes many forms. So what is social work exactly? It is the same as social justice?

Just last week I heard about a woman whose Dad taught her to smoke crack. That ticks me off. She hates him for it, yet she still smokes with him on occasion. It makes her miserable because she doesn’t like the way she views herself because of doing this. So why does she still make the decision to use the drug? Is it because as much as she believes that her dad is a terrible dad, she still wants some sort of love and respect from him? Things that he will never give her.

I translate for the John School, a court-ordered program for men who have been arrested soliciting prostitution. Now that brings many stories, but the one of interest is the woman who talks to them about her former life as a prostitute. She will tell you that she would do whatever it took to fulfill her need for drugs. Then she continues to say that what she was really looking for was love and acceptance, which she thought came from drugs, then men, but those didn’t fill the emptiness in her life. She wanted to be needed, and her transition out of prostitution taught her that she could find love without using drugs or giving her body.

Then there are those who have mental illnesses and can’t care for themselves,or those who have been abused so badly they don’t have the physical ability to trust, and those who have made so many bad decisions in their life that their choices leave them always wanting.

How many stories are there? Too many too think about. Where is justice for people whose lives have brought them experiences that many of us don’t want to consider? Can I as a social worker bring justice, or is it just a Band-Aid?

If Christ brings true justice, and I do my best to love people in a way that brings Christ to them, I believe that is pursuit of justice. But quite often I will be doing no more than allowing certain people to make it to the next day in their lives. Where is the justice in that?

Safety is relative

June 8, 2011
This Path is Uneven

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We spend a lot of time thinking about our personal safety.

It’s not safe to play with matches.

It’s not safe to drive over the speed limit.

It’s not safe to get on an airplane without screening passengers through a metal detector.

It’s not safe to ride a bus alone at night.

It’s not safe to park drive in that part of town.

It’s not safe to hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers.

I wonder if we are confusing safety with wisdom. It’s sometimes less dangerous for me to fly into the middle of a war-torn country than it is for me to drive my car on the interstate. However, wisdom would mean not walking through a war-torn country without a guide or driving without a license.

We take risks with our lives every day. Sometimes simply climbing out of bed is a risk. If you’re living and breathing, you’re taking a risk in your personal safety.

Doing your best to keep yourself personally safe is fine, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your ability to love well. If you are more worried about taking a risk than loving a person well, then you’ve missed the point. As a follower of Jesus the Christ, I’d say you’ve missed the point of the gospel. If you don’t follow Jesus, then I’d say you’ve missed the point of a full life.

We can use wisdom and instinct when it comes to personal safety, those are good things. However, I challenge myself and I challenge you to think a little deeper the next time you say the words “that’s not safe”.

Is it really unsafe, or are you letting fear control your chance to love well?

Compassion in community

June 5, 2011
Atlas, it's time for your bath

Photo credit: woodleywonderworks, creative commons

The same Sarah that I mentioned in a previous post, came to visit me, so I’m finally reading her favorite book, Compassion by Henri Nouwen. She sent it to me months ago, and I read a few chapters but got distracted by life. I wish I would have read it sooner, I see why it’s her favorite book.

One of the most tragic events of our time is that we know more than ever before about the pains and sufferings of the world and yet are less and less able to respond to them…

Can we really expect a compassionate response from the millions of individuals who read the paper during breakfast, listen to the radio on the way to work, and watch television after returning home tired from their work in offices or factories? Can we reasonably expect compassion from the many isolated individuals who are constantly being reminded in the privacy of their homes or cars of the vast extent of human suffering?…

When there is no community that can mediate between world needs and personal responses, the burden of the world can only be a crushing burden…

The Christian community mediates between the suffering of the world and our individual responses to this suffering.

Nouwen, Henri. Compassion. P. 51, 53.

That’s from the chapter on Community, which just feels me up to the brim full of smiles. Nouwen continues to describe how, when we are following God’s call in our lives within community, we tend to disappear. We give more of ourselves to Christ and to the world because we’re not trying to save the world, but give to it.

Questions to ponder:

  • What are you doing to live a compassionate life?
  • Relationships take effort and pursuit. Are you investing in the creating of community? If not, why not?

Marge, and the story she tells

June 1, 2011

I just re-read some old posts, and I noticed that I have the same themes repeating in my life. I feel a little bit like I’m repeating the same lessons, ideas, struggles, or dreams. I have been influenced by certain people and philosophies and I tend to hold on to those. Each time I repeat a theme, I get a little bit stronger, a little bit deeper, and a little bit more confident.

I remember in college how I would get so frustrated with people who refused to see other view points, particularly people who were much older than I was. There were people who were set in their ways and were determined to tell me how wrong I was in my way of thinking. In turn, I was a stubborn college student who was set in her ways and believed that I had all of the right answers and those old people needed to learn to be willing to see new ideas and change their opinions.

Today, I’m just as stubborn, but a little more mature. I see how easy it is to go down a path, to struggle and fight for your beliefs and be determined to follow them without backing down. To come to a point where I’ve worked so hard to figure out what I believe and want, that no other options make sense. I can’t say enough how much I admire people like my friend, Marge, who is 60+ and continually willing to learn new things and see other views. This comes so easily to her, but she’s been practicing for years. She travels the world, never ceasing to form new friendships, hear life stories, and discuss new (or old) ideas. She’s kept in touch with friends for decades because she understands that relationships matter. She has suffered deeply, and loved deeper. Marge has never stopped learning, asking questions, hearing stories, and finding new ways to serve. That’s who she is. It would be a dark day if Marge ever decided that she was always right and that there were no more lessons to be learned.

It would be a dark day if any of us decided that we were always right and there were no more lessons to be learned. Even if I repeat the same themes and write on the same topics for the next 60 years, I hope that I’ll still be willing to see new and deeper lessons. I hope that I’ll remember that it’s relationships that matter, not my stubborn beliefs in things past.

Justice for your city

May 24, 2011

Several years ago, I visited my friend, Sarah, in San Diego. Sarah worked as a Social worker with Catholic Charities at the time, and was aware of the resources that the city had to offer. One sunny day we were driving downtown with the windows rolled down. We stopped at a stoplight, right next to a man who was panhandling from the median.


Photo Credit

The conversation went something like this:

Man: Can you help me out? I need money for food.

Sarah: No, I’m not going to give you money.

Man: I don’t have anything, I need money.

Sarah: There are a lot of resources available in the city for you. I’m not giving you any money.

Man: Come on, I can’t go to those places. What I really need is money for food.

Sarah: I’m not giving you any money. There is (names a place) and they can help you there. If I give you money, it’s going to keep you here on the streets. I want more for you than for you to be out here asking people for money. If I give you money that just keeps you here and tomorrow you’ll be hungry again.

He didn’t like Sarah’s response. He couldn’t take the “no” and kept bothering her until the light turned green and we drove off. Sarah’s mini lecture may not have stayed in his memory, but it stayed in mine.

What is it that I really want for other people? I want them to love and be loved. I want all people, including myself, to know true justice. I don’t always know what that looks like, but I don’t want to assume that the right answer will be shouted down to me from heaven when someone is in desperate need and looking to me for help.

No matter where you are reading this from, whether a major metropolitan city or an unincorporated town, at some point you are going to come into contact with someone who is searching for justice. That could be a man or woman who is hungry and panhandling on the streets. That could be a woman who is living in a domestic violence situation. That could be a son who is not wanted by his parents. What does justice look like for them?

Does justice mean giving money and driving away, or does justice mean offering myself and my gifts/skills?

I don’t know and I’m not going to tell you there’s an answer, because sometimes there isn’t one.

What I can promise you is that you will be much more capable of finding an answer if you educate yourself on the available resources in your city. Sarah did offer this man something. It wasn’t what he asked for, but she chose not to ignore him or leave him empty-handed. She knew what she had to offer, and she knew that if he was hungry, there was more than one option available to him.

For those of you who don’t want to spend the time studying the names of all of the organizations in town (not many people do), there are still some things that you can do today so that when you find yourself needing some information, you aren’t left feeling helpless.


  1. Save in your phone or memorize your town’s Non-Emergency number. This is a police number (police exist to help you, not just to give out speeding tickets). Using this number allows 9-1-1 to remain available for life-threatening emergencies only. You can find this number in the phone book, the internet, or even by walking in to your local police station. They won’t arrest you, I promise.
  2. 2-1-1. Know this number! It’s like 9-1-1, only for information. When you dial 2-1-1, you give your first name only and your zip code. They have a searchable database of organizations, and the operators are friendly experts. Last night, I used this number to help a friend. All of his identifying documents had been stolen and his only hope for getting off of the streets was his birth certificate in Colorado. Stranded, he needed bus fare. I called 2-1-1 and gave him the number for travel assistance. He now has the choice to go there, advocate for himself, and receive assistance from someone more informed than I.
  3. Volunteer. You learn about other organizations by osmosis.
    A searchable database similar to the one used by 2-1-1 operators. Just surfing it for 10 minutes today will give you an idea of what’s around.
  5. Find a list. Hospitals have them, churches have them, the internet has them, lists are everywhere. If you take an hour out of your day this week, I’m sure you’ll find one. If you need help, send me a message. For example, Nashville has a pamphlet with all of the available meals in town – times and addresses. There are at least 2 free meals offered for every meal, every day of the week, in Nashville. Find lists and keep them in your glove box, in your office, in your backpack and don’t be afraid to give them away. Here’s one for Nashville.


Don’t try to memorize all of the available resources in your town. Just know how to find the information, because someday, someone is going to ask you for it. Give them dignity by offering of yourself while letting them be responsible for their own story.

What did I miss? Feel free to fill in the blanks or leave your opinion.