• Extensions,  Faith

    12 Small Joys of COVIDtide

    There are so many resources and disciplines available to feed the soul while connecting our deep gladness with the world’s deepest hunger. One tool I have used is a weekly Ignatian examen on Sunday evenings. I pause to review the previous week and look forward to the week ahead across all areas of life. After squeezing my heart and mind into various tools for awhile, I now use a template I created that works best for me. This process of reflection comes easy to my personality. Identifying all the big picture pieces of life as they relate to future possibilities is what most occupies my brain space. (Inside baseball: If…

  • Books,  Extensions

    A Sojourner’s Truth

    I first heard Natasha Sistrunk Robinson’s name when she was interviewed on the Truth’s Table podcast (from March 29, 2019). I was so impressed by her and her passion for mentoring, I immediately followed her on Twitter and ordered her book, Mentor For Life. A Sojourner’s Truth is her story of growing up in the South, going on to the United States Naval academy, earning her MA in christian leadership from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and starting the nonprofit Leadership LINKS Mentoring Program. Natasha felt like a kindred spirit, wise mentor, hospitable guide, and the kind of female leadership I continually long for. She has leaned into her own story, leadership abilities,…

  • Annual Top 10,  Books,  Extensions,  Faith

    My Top 10 Books of 2016

    Books and reading continued to be a major priority in the Hoiland casa throughout 2017. Tim and I spent a ridiculous amount of time discussing what we wanted to read, what we were currently reading, what we’d read in the past, what we planned to read on vacation or on a retreat day, what bookstores we’ve visited, what bookstores we hoped to visit, what bookstores we should return to soon, what bookstores are the best… you get the idea. This year, of the 50 books I read, I attempted to narrow my favorites to a list of ten, as has been my practice over the last five years. This year…

  • Extensions,  Guatemala,  Justice

    5 Things You Didn’t Realize Your Child Sponsorship Was Doing

    When you invest in the Lemonade academy-based child sponsorship program, you impact all aspects of a child’s life in La Limonada – spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual. Here are five things you may not have realized about your child sponsorship: Child sponsorship gives a child in La Limonada the opportunity to have many positive role models who are deeply invested in their lives. Each classroom has an average of 15 students per teacher. In addition to this powerful relationship, they build relationships with the school principal and psychologist. Many of the children are receiving 45-minute therapy sessions where they are given the opportunity to process and heal. Older students are…

  • Annual Top 10,  Books,  Extensions

    My Top 10 Books of 2015

    Once again, of the 50 books I read this year, it seems I enjoyed memoirs more than ever. I continue to be drawn to real lives and stories I can learn from. I’m also reminded that our favorite books often reflect the context and timing in which they are read. While I was very low on fiction this year, I did stress-pound Jane Austen and Lucy Maud Montgomery to add some simplicity and lightheartedness to a year of wrestling with deep poverty, gang violence, systemic racism, and other forms of human brokenness. We all need our guilty pleasures! What were your favorites of the year and what were your guilty pleasure…

  • Extensions,  Guatemala

    Spring Forward for La Limonada

    The Lemonade International Spring Forward campaign officially launched last night, and will continue until May 9th. This video says it all – there are real, tangible, and urgent needs every day in the largest urban slum in Central America. After watching the video, I thought about Mark 1:41, where Jesus was moved with compassion after seeing a deep need presented to him in faith. There is a time and place for community development, but there are also times when Jesus is asking us to join him in showing mercy to urgent situations. Simply having a La Limonada address marginalizes the people and causes incredible struggle in every day life. There…

  • Extensions,  Faith,  Guatemala

    Tackling Urgent Needs in La Limonada

    During our visits to the slum community of La Limonada, Tim and I have been warmly invited into seven different homes – homes filled with stories of pain, struggle, survival, and deep faith. Marginalized individuals and families who have worked hard to meet their basic needs, but have come against unexpected difficulties and emergencies. When you are working hard to survive today, how can you plan or prepare for unexpected health emergencies that may arise? If your home is damaged from a fire or by rainy season, how do you repair or rebuild? If your son is diagnosed with Leukemia, how can you pay for medical care when you can’t…

  • Extensions,  Guatemala,  Justice

    Presence in La Limonada

    I just returned from 10 days in Guatemala, a time of connecting with staff, building relationships, visiting the community, gathering stories, and hosting a vision trip from our home church in Phoenix. It was a joy to return to the narrow streets again, and to reflect on the experience. There is a grand paradox when we step into the paths that weave down into the ravine of La Limonada. We pass people whose eyes convey stories of pain, violence, and lack of power. We feel the weight of their marginalization immediately, and are welcomed into homes where we learn more about each individual and family. These stories of sickness, loss,…

  • Church Calendar,  Ethiopia,  Extensions,  Faith,  Mozambique

    Lenten Reflections: Isaiah 58

    “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”  During this Lenten time of self-examination, we pause to consider our brokenness and great need—our vulnerability and inability to do enough fasting or law-keeping to earn even an ounce of righteousness. One of my first encounters with…

  • Annual Top 10,  Books,  Extensions

    My Top 10 Books of 2013

    This is my 3rd year of sharing the top books read over the previous year. But to be honest, it was a bit of a slow reading year for me. I half-read many, skimmed through previously read books and journaled a lot more than I consumed. While I greatly enjoyed all the books listed here and welcome your suggestions for 2014! Crouch, Andy Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power Each of us has a measure of power, whether we acknowledge it or not. Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? How can power be used for good? Read this book for a paradigm-shifting view of the dynamics of power all around us.…

  • Extensions,  Faith,  Fun Times

    2013 Year In Review

    In light of the (cyber) age-old tradition of using a blog to journal key events from the previous year, I endeavor to remember 2013. In no particular order:   1.  In April, we visited Guatemala. It was my first time to Central America, to Tim’s home country, to the community of La Limonada, and to meet our sponsored child. Having already blogged about these experiences, I won’t go into detail. This was the absolute highlight of my year and I feel overjoyed to now get to work for Lemonade International in a small way to advocate and tell the stories of what God is doing there.   2. We purchased…

  • Extensions,  Guatemala

    3 Ethical Christmas Gift Ideas

    For those of us who desire to live radically different, measured by God’s word rather than the status quo, the holiday season invites a slew of conflicting feelings surrounding the reason for the season. Should we lavish gifts on each other? If so, what kind of gifts? If our focus is on the advent of the birth and then full on celebration of the coming of Christ, how do we live like we believe that is true? While cause for contemplation and reflection, I would like to suggest a few specific alternative ways to give generously to our loved ones this Christmas. Ways that seek to honor our water-into-wine-celebrating God…

  • Bloggers Trip,  Extensions,  Faith,  Guatemala

    Lessons on Faith from Guatemala

    We’ve been back from Guatemala for almost two months now. Tim and I are still so grateful to Lemonade International for welcoming us in to such a special place. We continue to process what God had for us there, but these lessons on faith keep rising like sediment in my thoughts. The Lord used my ignorance. This was Tita’s response to how she first came to this violent place. The Lord led her in to find a gang member who had been at the hospital where she volunteered. She didn’t realize it was ‘The’ La Limonada – an infamous Guatemalan slum synonymous with danger and fear. This has filled my…

  • Bloggers Trip,  Extensions,  Fun Times,  Guatemala

    24 Photos from Guatemala

    Yesterday, Tim curated 24 of the Instagram photos he captured during our time in Guatemala. I’m inspired to do the same. Most of the time we spent in the community of La Limonada, we respected the one camera per group request by relying on the incredibly talented photography skillz of Scott Bennett. But our phones still managed to capture a few of the scenes and people forever imprinted in our memories. We also had the opportunity to pray, reflect and debrief the experience in Guatemala City by visiting Panajachel and Antigua. In addition to being beautiful and relaxing, these places also hold childhood memories for Tim. Stepping back into familiar…

  • Bloggers Trip,  Extensions,  Faith,  Guatemala

    What does Lemonade Child Sponsorship do?

    This week I witnessed an incredibly unique sponsorship program in a uniquely challenging and beautiful place. Focused on a single (but large!) slum in Guatemala City, Lemonade International is a small, intentional and relational organization which allows them to go deep rather than wide in their impact. Mobilized by God, local Guatemalans walk into this dangerous neighborhood with very specific goals for the children who live there. There is no presence of another development organization, government aid or even the police in these neighborhoods. One Guatemalan recently said, “I never stopped to think there are families with children living there. I just thought they were all thieves and gang members.…