Love in the Reformation: Review of Luther & Katharina by Jody Hedlund

A former monk and an escaped nun fall in love, marry, have a family, change the world. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes, and Jody Hedlund’s new book blends both in an impressive historical novel.

Luther and Katharina. The names probably aren’t unfamiliar to you if you have an ounce of church background, or if you saw the movie Luther, starring Joseph Fiennes, that came out 12 (really?!) years ago.

Luther-KatharinaBut the story of their courtship is one I hadn’t read much about. I would want it in no one else’s hands but Hedlund’s. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my review.)

The events surrounding Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora’s relationship are sometimes shocking and unbelievable, but Hedlund assures readers in the end notes that much of what she writes is based on fact. Of course, she takes creative license in arranging scenes for dramatic effect, which is why it’s called a historical novel. In previous books, Hedlund has taken real people and events and changed their names and storylines a bit to tell a romantic tale. (For example, in Rebellious Heart, the characters are based on John and Abigail Adams and their revolutionary relationship but their names are changed.)

I loved the weaving of history, religious reformation and romance throughout the story. The characters were full of life and passion, confronted with danger and forced to make hard choices.

It is a gift, I’m discovering, that someone can take historical events and turn them into stories that are page-turning and applicable to life today. Jody Hedlund has that gift. You don’t even have to be Lutheran to enjoy this story!

I always love a little peek into the author’s world. Here are a few questions and answers about Jody Hedlund and her writing process and life. (And Illinois, friends, I just discovered she has an Illinois connection. Read on to find out what it is!) jody hedlund

You grew up Lutheran. Share with us how your Lutheran background influenced the writing of this book.

Yes, I was born and baptized a Lutheran. In fact my dad was a Lutheran pastor all his life until he passed away. I have an uncle who was a Lutheran pastor until he retired. I went to Lutheran grade school, and my high school alma mater is Lutheran High School in Rockford, IL. I took catechism classes and was confirmed in the Lutheran church. My German and Norwegian grandparents on both sides of my family were strong Lutherans as well. I have a very fond spot in my heart for all things related to Martin Luther since his name and teachings were such an integral part of my upbringing.

It’s obvious that research plays an enormous role in the development of your scenes and the characters that inhabit them. How did you begin the arduous task of researching these two historical figures and the period in which they lived?

One of the first things I do in the early research phase of any of my stories based on real historical figures is I locate as many biographies on the couples and individuals as I can get my hands on. Usually I can get quite a number through my library system. Once I figure out the books that will be the most helpful to me, I usually buy them.

After I have the biographies I spend an enormous amount of time reading through them, taking pages and pages of notes, and trying to gain a realistic grasp of the people and the events that fall within the time frame that I hope to write about (which usually entails the romance relationship–how the couple met, fell in love, and ended up together).

Once I’ve scoured the biographies, I begin the next phase of my research which is to delve into the details regarding the time period and setting. Usually I try to focus on gaining a “feel” for the era. I try to understand the social and political climate. I familiarize myself with wars or other disruptions happening during the time. And then I round out my research by studying clothes, food, homes, life styles, etc.

The process is intense and takes me weeks before I’m finally ready to begin the actual writing process.

Katharina von Bora is a name that most people would never connect with Martin Luther. Why do you think it’s important that we uncover and shine a light on some of the forgotten female figures who helped shape the Church?

My goal is to give a voice to the forgotten women of the past. Since most of history has been written by men, unfortunately all too often the accounts neglect to include or minimizes the many women who played critically important roles in the shaping of history.

As a mother of five children and a wife to a husband in Christian ministry, I’ve had a firsthand learning experience of the incredible work load and responsibility that comes with raising a family, being a wife, managing a home, as well as helping do all of the things necessary to provide emotionally, physically, and financially for our family. As I go about this calling God’s given me at this stage in my life, I have a greater appreciation for the women of the past who also struggled through the same issues (but without all of the modern conveniences that I have!).

I believe modern women will benefit from hearing their stories, will be incredibly encouraged to see these women who persevered through discrimination and found the strength to use their God-given abilities to make a difference. Not only did they make a difference in their era, but today (decades and even centuries later) we can see the fruits of their bravery and strength. These women of the past have encouraged me to persevere and to use my skills and talents to make a difference in my time. No matter how big or small that difference might be, I want to be faithful to leave an impact, just as those women did

As you began to read and learn more about Katharina, what particularly captivated you about her?

I was particularly fascinated by the fact that Katharina had once been a nun. And as we know, nuns take a vow of celibacy.

I was curious to know why she’d become a nun in the first place. What led her to that decision? And then what made her later decide to forsake her vows? What was life like for her after escaping her convent knowing that if she was caught and recaptured, she could face persecution and even death for running away? What were her hopes and dreams for her life after she’d denied herself for so long? What was it like for her to interact with men when she’d never before had the opportunity?

All of those questions and more reverberated through my mind. And what I really wanted to know was how she’d ended up with Martin Luther. What brought this couple together? It was a forbidden love during a time of incredible turmoil. It was a love that was never-meant-to-happen. So how did it come about?

What was the biggest surprise in researching this story?

As I dug into the research, the thing that surprised me most was that Luther and Katharina didn’t experience “love at first sight.” In fact, they had no thought of marrying each other. Katharina was a woman of noble birth and Luther a man of peasant beginnings. They were in two different social classes, which doesn’t sound like a big deal to us today. But at that time, social class was extremely important.

After leaving the convent, Katharina expected to marry a nobleman. And even though Luther preached the goodness of marriage and encouraged other monks and nuns to leave their convents and get married, he had no intention of getting married himself.  So, the question begs answering, how did these two opposite people with opposing personalities and aspirations, end up together? You’ll have to read the book to discover the answer!

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What happened when I left my phone behind

God tricked me into taking a break from technology.

I’ve long admired people who can walk away from social media for an extended period of time and embrace the solitude. It sounds like a refreshing way to live.

And yet I can’t make myself do it. Which is why I think God had to trick me.

Earlier this summer, my husband and I went to Kenya with a team from our church. Two weeks before the trip, I learned for the first time that we wouldn’t be allowed to bring our cell phones with us. Maybe not a big deal. We were going to Africa, after all.

But we were leaving our kids, ages 7 and 5, behind with grandparents and in the year 2015, it never occurred to me that a cell phone ban would even be a thing.

I did not take the news well. I cried for days. I snubbed my pastor, who was leading the trip, when he tried to talk to me. It almost made me physically ill. I proposed a compromise. I sought commiseration. I basically behaved like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

No! You can’t make me!

There were deeper issues than just feeling like I needed to be connected to social media. I wanted a direct line to my kids, even if I couldn’t be physically present. I wanted to be in control of how I checked in on them. I had serious trust issues, even though I knew they were in good hands.

“If I’d have known about this at the beginning,”  I told Phil, “I’m not sure I would have signed up for the trip.”

“Maybe that’s why you didn’t know about it then,” he said.

For almost a year, God had made it clear that we were to go on this trip. He provided money when we didn’t expect it and He kept moving our hearts in ways we couldn’t ignore.

Maybe He wanted me on this trip whether I could take my phone with me or not.

I sat with that for a day or two, considering the possibility that God—not my pastor or my church—might be asking me to do this.

Our group settled on a compromise. We could take our phones but we would have limited access to them while we traveled. And my husband and I did have a chat with our pastor to clear the air before we left.

The way forward was settled even if I was still unsettled. It had only been two years since I’d had a smart phone and already I was so attached to it that I couldn’t imagine being without it for 10 days. That was a problem I could acknowledge, but I still didn’t see how it could possibly turn out well.

The phone went on airplane mode as soon as we loaded up the vans. I tucked it away, reluctantly and with a bit of anxiety, because I use my phone for lots of things: weather, clock, calculator, flashlight, to name a few.

Waiting to board our plane in New York

Waiting to board our plane in New York

 

Even as I write about it and think about it now, more than a month after, my heart starts to race. I’ve believed the lie that I’m useless without my phone.

As we flew from New York to Belgium and then from Belgium to Rwanda to Kenya, not having access to a clock was a benefit. I had no idea what time it was locally or what time my body thought it should be, so I just went with it. I slept when I was tired, and I ate when they fed us on the plane.

We were tired enough we got to our destination in Kenya that the phone didn’t beckon me at all.

The first morning was a different story, though. (You can read more about that over at Shawn Smucker’s blog, where I have a guest post on the subject today.) I felt like part of me was missing. I kept reaching for it, thinking I’d take a picture or check the weather or the time. I had to re-train myself to look for the clock in a room. Eventually, I could guess the time by where the sun was. We were so close to the equator that sunrise and sunset were near 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

And the weather was virtually the same every day, so I didn’t have to check for the possibility of rain or whether I should wear jeans or shorts. We dressed in layers for the cool mornings and evenings, and changed our clothes when appropriate to the dress codes of the villages or the activities in which were participating.

I still wonder if it was easier to be without my phone on our trip because our days were planned out for us and because of our location.

Most days, we were so busy I didn’t worry about what time it was. On one of our painting days, four or five hours passed before I even thought, “What time are we eating dinner?” It was freeing, in a sense, to be so involved in life that I didn’t have to keep track of the time. Here, I feel like I have to fill my hours according to a certain schedule.

When we were given access to the WiFi password and agreed to limit our use to an hour in the evenings in our rooms, I will admit to being tempted to push past those limits. If I was in my room, who would know if I checked my e-mail in the morning? Because of the time difference, I didn’t always get the most current updates on our kids and how they were doing. I craved information about them, and the phone was the only way to get it. As hard as it was, I did stick to the agreement as I understood it. And most nights, I was too tired to even bother logging on to the network and checking e-mail.

In the evenings or at meal times, when I might have been surfing my phone for whatever, I was engaging with the world around me. We played Apples to Apples or sat around talking. We looked at the stars or smelled the flowers or took a walk.

I sometimes convince myself that I’m too tired at the end of a day to really engage with my kids for one more minute, but in Kenya, I was just as tired or more so at night and I still found some reserve energy for human connection. I’m ashamed of myself for all the times I zone out with my kids.

In the first week after our trip, I practiced leaving my phone in another room, or in the car if we were playing at the park. It was freeing when we didn’t need to be anywhere, and it was out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I didn’t think about checking it because I couldn’t. It wasn’t with me.

Old habits die hard, though, and I’m back to my former ways. Some of them anyway. The lure of social media, especially for someone who creates content, is hard to escape. I feel pressure to be interesting and post regularly so that people remember who I am and know what I’ve been up to. Because we all know that out-of-sight, out-of-mind also applies online. If I don’t see your updates regularly, it’s easy to forget you. (And that is not an easy confession to make.)

Even though I’m struggling to put my technology experience in Kenya into practice back home, I know that it was a good exercise for me, one I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. And I know I need to impose limits on myself for the good of my family and my soul. I don’t want to have to be tricked into doing it again.

I’m curious how you’ve accomplished this, or if you’ve ever thought about it. Do you feel the pull of social media on your life? Have you ever taken an extended break from it? How do you limit your online time in daily life?

 

This is what ‘yes’ looks like

“Phil, why am I doing this? This is a bad idea.”

My stomach churned. I thought I might need to throw up. Anxiety crept its way up my body, threatening to choke any courage I might have left. I stood at the door, keys in hand while the kids kept up their after-school shenanigans in all parts of the house.

I could stay and eat dinner with my family and do the normal bedtime routine.

Or I could go to the volunteer training I’d signed up for.

Yep. That was the cause of my anxiety. See, to attend this training, I had to drive into the city and find a place to park my van. I had to enter an unfamiliar building and sit with strangers to learn how to help strangers from other countries adapt to life in the United States. And I would have to leave the city in the dark.

For an introvert, this is a deadly combination.

Sonja Guina | via unsplash

Sonja Guina | via unsplash

But I did it. I got in the van and drove into the city. I had a plan for where I was going to park, but when I went to make the turn into the lot, a man was standing in the middle of the sidewalk so I aborted that plan and went down to the next street. Parking in the city, anytime, is stressful for me. I’m never sure if I can park in that spot or how much money to put in the meter and I’m forever afraid of getting a parking ticket or having our car towed.

So, imagine my surprise when I found a spot right next to the building on a side street. That eased my anxiety some.

As I drove by the building trying to find parking, I noticed some people gathering on the front steps. One of them was a man with long hair, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. After I parked the car, I was afraid to walk around to the front of the building because what if he was homeless. And then I realized how ridiculous that was because I was attending a training to help refugees–who are homeless!

Turns out he was there for the training, too, and if I believed all the western depictions of Jesus were accurate, I’d say upon closer look he looked a little like Jesus, so my anxiety leveled off.

We found our way into the building and entered the room and sat, not talking but looking through papers and a packet of information. Just after the presentation started, about a dozen more people joined us and I was intimidated by the look of some of them. I was in the city, after a work day, and many of them looked hip and chic and business-y. Maybe I was out of place. I’m just a mom, after all.

But then I remembered, again, why we were all there. This wasn’t something any of us had to do, I don’t think. It didn’t matter what else our lives were about. For this one night, we were united in our passion to reach out to others.

I was shocked by what I learned. Facts can be boring sometimes, but these facts represented people and for the first time in my life, I think I actually understand that.

Fifty percent of the world’s refugees are children. Like my own. There are 7-year-olds in this world who feel responsible for the safety of their family. I have a 7-year-old. She feels responsible for her second-grade homework and that’s about it.

Some families are separated for years in their journey to safety. This little office in a small section of Lancaster County in a tiny part of the world helps reunite families. Would I want someone to help me if I hadn’t seen my daughter in six years? This is superhero stuff right here.

When we traveled to Kenya earlier this year, we saw refugees boarding the planes we were on. We weren’t exactly sure at the time that that is what they were, but this training confirmed it. They were boarding planes and leaving countries of strife for resettlement elsewhere, maybe even here.

Did you know that refugees have to repay their travel expenses and they get a bill five months after they have resettled? Could you pay a $2,000 airline bill five months after moving your family to a new country and beginning entry-level work while learning how to pay other monthly bills in a currency unfamiliar to you?

Of the millions of refugees in the world right now, only a small percentage actually resettle in other countries. Most live in refugee tent “cities” for far longer than is planned or is healthy. There are some who have lived this way for decades. In Kenya we met people who had been living in an Internally Displaced People camp for seven years. They no longer had tents, but mud huts are no upgrade when you’ve lost the only life you knew.

Did you also know that refugees seeking resettlement are interviewed about their lives and personal stories and undergo health and security screenings before they are granted permission to resettle? Sometimes this process takes years.

And did you know that ISIS isn’t the biggest fear among Syrian refugees? No, they fear their own government and the corrupt regime of their president who tortures children and kills parents while the kids watch, who bombs houses where mothers sit nursing their children. This is why they leave.

I said “yes” to this training because I need to do something besides read and write and be horrified. I don’t yet know what this will look like, but I know that by the time I got in the van at the end of the night, I wasn’t anxious about anything.

Sometimes “yes” looks like an upset stomach before walking out the door because you don’t know what to expect. And sometimes it turns into stories you can’t ever forget.

The one thing my kids really want

Maybe your kids aren’t like this, but mine seem to always want something.

It’s Book Fair week at the school, so every day, we’ve had a request for books. I am not opposed to buying books (obviously; you should see our overstuffed shelves) but I’d like to be there to see what they pick out. Phil and I will take a spin through the book fair on parents’ night to find them something they want because I’m not a monster and books are my weakness.

Also, they always want food! I mean it’s not enough that I provide three meals a day, but the snacking is a major deal. Especially now that they’re both in school all day. I knew on the first day of school that they would be hungry when they got home, so I let them pick out a special snack from a couple of cookbooks and we bought what we needed and I made them their special snack.

It was a hit! And then they wanted a special snack the next day! And I knew there was no way I could keep up this streak for 180 days, so I had to come up with a plan. Could I give them a snack every day and make it special without busting our grocery budget or spending a ton of time on it?

The entire first week, one of their first questions off the bus was, “Did you make us a snack?”

There was such hope in the question that I couldn’t say “no” and disappoint them.

Could you tell them "no"? I didn't think so.

Could you tell them “no”? I didn’t think so.

But then came a week where we had a bunch of responsibilities and planning a snack, in addition to planning food for church events, and food for our own meals, was too much. So, I tried an experiment. I made a “special” snack from stuff we had in the house that wasn’t very special at all! (P.S. Do not tell them my secret!)

One day, I slathered some celery sticks with peanut butter and cut up some carrots and put ranch in a bowl. I set them out on plates at the counter, and the kids ate it up! The next day, we were going to have to take a snack with us because we had errands right after school, and the only pre-packaged stuff we buy is for their lunches, so I needed to improvise.

I made a snack mix out of a variety of nuts we had in the pantry. I cut up a fruit twist and a Twizzler and dumped in a bag of cinnamon sugar pretzels. I mixed it all up and gave it some kind of qwirky name and presented it as their special treat for the day. They were skeptical, and some of that stuff they wouldn’t eat on its own, but together, they tried a few bites. They didn’t end up finishing it that day, and that’s how I learned the secret of what my kids really want.

It doesn’t so much matter what I give them for a snack after school. But they want to know that I was thinking of them long enough to make an effort. On the days when I throw out a few options without an apparent plan, there is more grumbling and complaining than when I put something on the counter already prepared. A few days ago our daughter was complaining that she doesn’t like the taste of the baby carrots anymore and doesn’t want them in her lunch. I’m wondering what will happen if I put them out as a snack with a ranch or honey mustard dip. I’ll have to let you know how that goes.

What do my kids really want? I think they want what everyone wants: to be seen and known and heard and loved.

I fail at providing those things all the time, but I see the difference it makes when they know that I was thinking of them.

Maybe that’s all that really matters in any of our relationships: not that we get it right or perfect or that we make it special all the time, but that we make an effort to see and know and hear and love, in all of our imperfect ways.

I’m willing to give it a shot. Are you?

How Convenient

I pulled into the bank parking lot, hands a bit sweaty, rehearsing my lines before I walked in the door.

I need to withdraw some money in different denominations than I can get from the ATM.

Maybe it seems weird to you to have to practice what you’re going to say while running an errand, but I suspect most introverts know about this. If I don’t plan what I’m going to say, then I often stumble over my words or say something awkward or embarrassing.

It might not have been a big deal, but I hadn’t actually been inside the bank in two or three years. The world of online banking and deposits at the ATM have made it more convenient to not speak with a teller, and my introvert self sometimes prefers it this way.

I waited in line until it was my turn and then had a really nice interaction and conversation with the bank teller. I told him what I needed, and then I added, spontaneously, that it was for a yard sale I was having. This was my attempt at small talk and conversation, two things I’m not great at on the fly. When our business was finished, he wished me well on my sale, and I nearly floated out of the bank, so happy was I to have connected with a human being over something so small.

Read the rest over at Putting on the New, where I post on the 12th of every month.

A faith-plus-fantasy series for the doubters: review of The Sword and the Song by C.E. Laureano

I used to define my reading habits by what genres I didn’t read, and sci-fi/fantasy was always on the list. But well-written stories of any kind are finding their way to not just my reading pile but my list of favorites. And C.E. Laureano’s three-book series, The Song of Seare, is a prime example.

sword and songI just finished the third book, The Sword and the Song, and I’m stunned. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through the Tyndale Blog Network.)

Throughout my reading of this series, I’ve written about how surprised I was at how much I liked it. (Read my previous review here.) I didn’t grow up reading the Lord of the Rings series, although I did read The Chronicles of Narnia once upon a time, but I’m rediscovering a love for this kind of faith-based action adventure series set in a world of the author’s imagining.

Laureano’s world is reminiscent of Celtic culture, namely Ireland, and I want to literally applaud her for the names of people and countries that she invented to sound like Irish names but not quite.

But let’s talk about this final book for a moment, and the series as a whole. I did not see the end coming, and it was so surprising that it brought me to tears. You can read a short interview with the author, below, and she talks about some of her decisions in the series. Let me just say this: you will want to throw the book–any of them–across the room because Laureano does not play by the “everyone must be happy all the time” rule. (Is that a rule at all?) Her characters go through realistic drama that tears their worlds apart, but through it all, a thread of hope remains.

I’m sad to see this series end, and if I could ask the author one question myself it would be: Is this really the end?

carla_stairs_full-199x300Here are a few more questions Laureano answered about the series:

Why Celtic fantasy?

I’ve been interested in Ireland for as long as I can remember, maybe because of my distant Irish heritage. I had the opportunity to travel there during college, and I’ve never felt such an instant affinity for a place. While America will likely always be the place I “hang my hat”, I realized that Ireland was my heart’s home. Ever since then, I’ve written Irish characters and settings. But it was only when I started reading books by Juliet Marillier—wonderful historical fantasies that showed the pagan/Christian conflict from the pagan point of view—I knew I wanted to do something similar with a Christian slant.

How much is based on history and how much was made up?

The culture of Seare is very much based on ancient Ireland before the 10th century, but since relatively little is known about that time period, much of it is extrapolated from research done in the 1920’s. (Some of that research, like the idea that the Irish wore kilts, has since been disproven.) But the food, weaponry, law, and social structure of Seare is very similar to how things might have been in ancient Ireland. Of course, the addition of magic changes things, so I got to imagine how the existence of supernatural gifts and blood magic might have affected their culture. I also re-envisioned the faerie mythology from a neutral, mischievous role into something more malevolent.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I didn’t want to write a “safe” story where you know that everything is going to be okay and everyone will come out unharmed—because real life isn’t like that. It can be scary and messy and unpredictable. But through it all, if you look hard enough, is the ever-present thread of God’s grace and provision. My greatest wish is that readers come away with the understanding that they have a purpose, that they matter, that God cares for them as individuals and not just as a face in the crowd. I’ll consider my job done if readers walk away with hope.

Visit Laureano’s website to find out more about her and her writing. Books in this series are: The Oath of the Brotherhood, Beneath the Forsaken City and The Sword and the Song. I hope there is more like this series to come from Laureano!

What to do when you don’t know what to do

I’m feeling a lot of emotions these days. Some of them generated from the life in front of me–kids who won’t listen, worries about the future, fear about the past–and some from situations that are beyond my control and beyond my geography. I went to Africa this summer. It’s been a month since we came home. And the feelings I’m feeling now are tied to the things I saw there and then.

When I read about the refugee crisis affecting Syria and see the pictures of people longing for a home without violence and fear, I want to turn away. I want to get on with my life. Yet I also want to step in and do something. But even as I sit and read the article, there are people in my own home who are fighting over a toy or asking for food. There are needs out there and there are needs in here and I don’t know how to reconcile the two. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m trying to compartmentalize them. I want the time to take care of my family to be separate from the time I need to care about world issues. Maybe what I need is not reconciliation but some kind of intersection. A way to incorporate my cares for the world with the cares of my family.

Fifteen of us went to Africa and almost all of us, I think, want to fix something about what we saw and experienced. We want to do something. We want to change something. We were changed and that’s significant, but there are so many things to do. How do we choose?

The same day I read about Syria, I read this post, too, and it was an encouraging push to do something, whether it’s for Africa or Syria or my neighborhood. Even if it looks like the wrong thing to others, I can still do something. It’s the first part of that statement that scares me because I don’t like to be wrong. But would I rather be wrong and do something or do nothing because I’m afraid of being wrong?

I’m ready to do something.

I’ve written before that my writing is one way of doing something, and I’m still going to do that. But I want to take it another step forward.

In Kenya, we met people whose lives were disrupted by violence, whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed in a bid for power. They were refugees in their own country.

mud home

Their struggle is real. I looked at their faces and into their eyes. I walked into their dark one-room houses. For one part of one day, I entered the life of someone on the other side of the world, and though I offered prayer and encouragement, the words practically stuck in my throat because they sounded so hollow. Who was I to stand in that woman’s house and pray for provision? What she needed for a more secure house is what I pay monthly in rent. Let that sink in for a minute.

I know I can’t save the world. I’m not going to try. That sounds big and overwhelming.

But I can look at my life and consider what I have and what I can give. And I can do the next right thing.

In Kenya we also met a man who heard about the need in the valley, who knew that there were people living in tents in an unfamiliar place. He went there to see what he could do. They asked him to preach, and even though he wasn’t a preacher, he started preaching on Sundays for them. They met under an acacia tree. They became known as the tree church.

That was years ago. We worshipped with the people of the tree church in a building in the refugee camp when we were in Kenya. Because this man wanted to do something and then actually did it, there is a church building where people come for miles to give thanks to God for their very lives. Because this man went where he felt led, the children can count on one good meal every week. And he dreams of more things he can do, with God’s help, for the people.

So, I will take my one step forward. And I will let God take it from there.

It is a small step. Tiny really. But it’s something.

And I’d rather do something than nothing.

Today, I sent off a volunteer application to work with a local organization that helps resettle refugees in our area. This is not even a humble brag because it feels like nothing, but it’s something I was thinking about before Kenya and it has only grown stronger in my heart and mind.

That’s my “yes” today. Yours might look different.

And click here for an excellent resource if you want to do something to help Syrian refugees but don’t know what to do.