Friday, November 19, 2010


It has been an extremely long time since I have blogged! I apologize! Life has been busy around here.(as it is for everyone) Ryan and I are both working part time, we have been actively pursuing ideas about South Asia, and our intern load has picked up.

Speaking of pursuing ideas about South Asia, here is one thing we are really excited about:
We have been trying to learn as much as we can about micro-finance (lending) and savings among the poor. It is amazing how much this can affect communities and change people's lives. Before I began reading stuff I had no idea what micro-lending even meant(and my understanding is still really limited.) In a nutshell micro-finance is is the provision of financial services to low-income clients or solidarity lending groups including consumers and the self-employed, who traditionally lack access to banking and related services.

Surprisingly, there is a really cool organization that is right here in Lancaster called Hope International that does micro-finance. ( We were able to participate in a really cool exhibit they have about poverty all over the world. Here is a video done by Hope International that helps explain the heart and vision of micro-finance.
We are hoping to be a part of something like this in South Asia. Do any of you have any experience or thoughts about micro-finance and savings or any connections to anyone that does?? We are wanting to learn anything and everything we can!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

English Class

One very exciting thing, that we didn't expect in moving to Lancaster, is a large refugee population. We have heard this is due to the Mennonite presence here. They believe taking care of refugees is important, so that means this small town in Pennsylvania has quite a few refugees living here. Very cool!
As most of you know, Ryan and I love working with refugees and decided we wanted to get involved with them here in Lancaster. There is an non-profit organization that helps settle refugees and so we connected with them and they have helped us get the word out about an English class we started. There are a few classes already offered through out the city, but most of the refugees want as much help as they can get to learn more English. It helps them find jobs and adjust to their new culture...America!
We have been offering a class on Wednesday nights. It has been great. We have a lot of volunteer teachers, which means much more attention/practice for the students. Most of our students are beginners. Some know very little and some can carry on basic greetings. I personally(Kristin), love this stage because you see such amazing progress as they learn new things.
The class is very diverse. The students are from Ethiopia, Cuba, Iraq, Burma, and Nepal. It is so amazing to think how all these people from such different countries and backgrounds are all together once a week in a little room in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Not everyone in our class are refugees. We have a few students that have moved here and want an opportunity to improve their speaking skills.

Here are a few pics of our students :)

Ryan working with some Cubans. They are so fun and lively. The first week I asked one of the Cuban guys if he knew how to salsa dance. He very quickly and passionately told me(as if this was dumbest question I could ever ask a Cuban), "CLARO!!" =translated..."OF COURSE!"

These students are from Nepal. The man on the far left is the son of the man in the middle and the woman beside him(with the red shirt). The son, Bishnu, speaks perfect English. His parents do not know any English, but I am so proud/inspired by their determination to come every week.
This is a picture of some of the ladies from Africa and some Burmese students in the background.

****We found out some great news! There is an organization that has pledged to match funds with us. That means if we raise $250 dollars they will match us. This would be great to help cover classroom costs. If you are interested in donating, please let me know!!!****

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One Year!

This past Sunday, October 3, 2010 was our first anniversary! I absolutely can NOT believe it has been a year since we got married. This first year of marriage has been one of crazy transitions. Besides the transition of just being married, Ryan has quit a career type job, we have moved across the country, we have started an internship to prepare us to move to another country, and we both now have jobs with bosses who are younger than us :/ (ie: coffee shop for R, Banana Republic for K) It has definitely been an adventure so far. It seems as if this next year will be one of even more transitions! Life is fun, crazy, and a little stressful.

We decided to go here for our anniversary.

It was so fun! We don't have any flower vases and so we have flowers we have to use our pitcher, which means we then don't have a pitcher. So, we both decided to paint vases. R did a bud vase and mine is a little larger. I think I would like to do something like this on a regular basis. I loved painting and can't wait until we get to pick them up next week after they have been glazed and fired.

Wow, those baby blues make me melt. Also, check out R's cool new hat. I got it for him for our anniversary. I wasn't sure if he would like it...but he did :) I think he looks quite artsy in this pic.

I wish I could do this every week!
After we finished our pottery, we decided to go out for Mexican food. Unfortunately, most of the restaurants in downtown Lancaster close on Sunday evenings. We found a restaurant called El Rodeo and it wasn't so great. There is nothing quite like Tex-Mex, so we were a little disappointed. We hear there are some better places up here, so we have not given up hope yet.

To end our evening we decided to go to a crepe place downtown, but it was CLOSED. So we ended our night in one of our favorite places, Barnes and Noble. We enjoyed a chocolate chip cookie and also saw this guy there:

that is our friend Steve :)

It was a great night and has been an amazing year!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Texas our Texas Part 3

I continue with Ryan and my favorite places in Austin. (I promise that I will start writing about Lancaster soon :)

5. Tree House Italian Grill

This place is so yummy and has a very cool atmosphere. They have a patio with a very large oak tree growing in the middle of it. I love Italian food and it has a romantic feel. Honestly, we have only been here a couple of times, but it is very special to us. We went on our first "real" date here. It was a double date with Les and Nicole Williams. It was a very interesting and funny night to me. A couple funny memories:
1. As I am looking at the menu trying to decide what to order, Ryan very awkwardly turns to me and announces that he will pay for my dinner. He hadn't made it very clear if this was a date or a "hang out" so he wanted me to know he was paying, which in turn was suppose to clarify to me that it was a "date." He is so smooth :)

2. I had no idea, but Ryan wanted this night to be special and he wanted to dress nice. He had texted Les asking him what he was wearing. Ryan has many, many gifts and talents, BUT when it comes to fashion he is pretty clueless. Apparently, Les and Ryan had decided he should dress nice for this date. Ryan asked his roommate Steve Husmann if he could borrow something nice to wear. Steve let him borrow a very cool tan sports jacket. The only problem is that Steve is a few sizes larger that Ryan. I remember walking through the door and realizing he was trying to dress nice, but his jacket was very large on him. It was really funny!

Les and Nicole. We love you two!

6. Mozarts

One of our favorite coffee/hang out spots for sure. Mozarts is located on Lake Austin. They have an awesome wooden deck and great coffee and desserts. We didn't have internet at our apartment while we lived in Austin, so this was one of my favorite places to go do internet stuff and read. The view of the lake is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Texas our Texas part 2

This is part 2 of a series about our favorite places in Austin, TX. As we made the list of our favorites, we quickly realized most of them revolved around food. We do enjoy food and especially bakeries and coffee shops. However, I am proud that our next place has nothing to do with being unhealthy but the complete opposite!

3. Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake)

The reservoir was formed in 1960 by the construction of Longhorn Dam at its easter boundary by the city of Austin. The western end of the lake is bound by Tom Miller Dam, built in 1939. The lake was created for several reason, including the need for a cooling pond for the Holly Street Power Plant. The reservoir was also envisioned from the beginning as a recreational venue for the city.
I think it has done a great job as a recreational venue! There are miles of trails to walk, run, and bike. We have also gone kayaking a few times and love that. The trees and lake are beautiful. Although you are in the middle of the city, you still feel like you are surrounded by nature.
Here is a link explaining more fun things to do around Town Lake if you happen to be in the area and want to make a day of it:

4. Austin High School (AKA Austin Stone Community Church)

We love being a part of The Stone (that is what the locals call it :) We have learned and grown so much while being a part of this group of believers. When I (Kristin) moved to Austin, I started going to the Stone and then after Ryan and I got engaged we decided to go there together. They have really great pre-marital counseling and that was a big deciding factor for us. The Stone's vision for combining truth and being a catalyst for renewal in the city is also something we feel really strongly connected with.
Here is the Stone's website. I love how passionate they are about Jesus, the city, good teaching, the world, and community.

More to come.....

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Texas our Texas"

I have realized a strange phenomenon happens when a Texan leaves Texas. It seems that their love and devotion increases. I (Kristin) have left Texas before and experienced it myself, but now I am experiencing it in a new way through Ryan. For example, before we moved he didn't really show that much Aggie pride, but the last few weeks I have heard more A&M chants and songs than I have in our entire relationship! It's been crazy. Anyways, in honor of our love and longing for Texas, we wanted to dedicate a few blog posts to some of our very favorite places in Austin. So here are a couple. (Disclaimer) Most of the destinations include food and beverage. These are in no particular order.

1. Whole Foods

I never imagined that one of my favorite places in Austin would be a grocery store, but oh this is no ordinary grocery. Everything here is fresh and organic. I could wonder around this store for hours. I also love watching the people who shop there. Most of them seem fit and organic and there are always many, many cool tatoos. I would love to know their stories.
We started a little ritual of going to Whole Foods on Sundays to get tacos after church. They are so delicious. Here is a picture of them. If you have never been to Whole Foods, you should!

Yummy produce section!

2. Upper Crust Bakery

(Excluding Mr. Youngblood's cinnamon rolls, which I barley remember because it has been so long!) Upper Crust has the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted. They are unbelievable. Upper Crust is a cute little bakery with all kinds of cookies, cakes, desserts, chai and coffee(according to Ryan). We started a little ritual(also on Sundays) of going to Upper Crust in the mornings and getting cinnamon rolls and drinks and reading scripture together. Great times!

I was trying to take a picture that would look so good you would have to go there and taste it! I hope it worked.

Austin, Texas we do miss you and your delicious food! However, we ARE discovering some very cool places up here in Lancaster...stay tuned to hear more!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hello World (from ryan)

Well, this is it! My (Ryan's) first blog post EVER! I'm a little nervous because Kristin is an EXCELLENT blogger - it's really fun to read her stuff - so feel like I've got to live up to the bar she has set.

But anyway...

We have lived in Lancaster for 3 weeks now. Here is our new home - sweet huh?!
Notice, it is a beacon of MAROON in the middle of two poor, burnt orange homes - surely a symbol of hope in the midst of despair! People live in row homes (or terraced houses) up here. So neighbors are VERY close and we love it.

We also went to NYC this weekend to see my sister and her husband. Here we are in front of the Rockefeller Center

As it has been said: "Each man reads his own meaning into New York." (Meyer Berger) From my extended experience in NYC (2.5 days), I agree. I read into it this: it is the most amazing mixture of cultures I have ever seen! In fact, Jessica and Matt (my sister & her husband) live in Astoria - home to the largest population of Greeks outside of Greece! And there are many other cultures clustered throughout the rest of the City.

One other interesting cultural thing we got to see is the location of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero. If you haven't seen it, here are a couple of pics:

Welp, hope to see you back here often!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How cleaning a nasty aparment reminded me of Jesus...

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11

Last Tuesday we moved into our new apartment. The first time we saw the apartment it smelled like dog poop, the bathtub was covered with dirt and stains, the toilet was green, and the kitchen floor was brown(it is linoleum floor that is supposed to be off white with a little squiggly line 1970's design in it). This was almost enough for us to say no thanks, however we kept looking at it. We were looking at two different apartments and weren't sure how we would decide between the two. Well, it turned out that the other one was given to someone else. So in a way this apartment chose us :)

We got the key to the apartment and started cleaning as soon as we could. At first, I just felt disgusted and wondered if I would ever dare to take my shoes off in this place. (those of you who know my Mom, know that she is a bit of a clean freak. I am no where close to her level, but she has worn off a little on me.) I worked and worked on the toilet and bathtub. I got the toilet looking good, but could not get the bathtub clean. I gave up after a while. (Luckily Jordan Tardy came over and cleaned it until it shined!)

I decided to move on to the kitchen floor. I swept a few times and then began the first of many moppings. The water had to be changed every few feet and I kept wondering who lets a place get this bad and why. As I mopped something crazy began to happen in my heart. I started to fall in love with this kitchen and this house. I wanted so badly for it to be clean and different than it was when we found it. Then I began to be reminded of how we all come to Jesus like this; nasty, dirty, and smelly and we need someone to clean us. We have no idea how dirty we are and we have no idea how to clean ourselves. I never really understand why God loves us or cleans us when we are so nasty...but then I thought about this apartment and how I cleaned it because it was mine and as I cleaned it my love for it grew. I think God is like that, because we are his he cleans us of our nastiness and he loves us with a great love. This love is so great, he sent Jesus to be the one to ultimately cleanse us for good!

If some of you came to visit our apartment(esp my Mom) you could probably still find a lot of areas that need more cleaning and might even say it is not that great of a place.(still has a dog odor because our neighbor has TONS of dogs). BUT, I know what is was before it was cleaned, I know how far it has come and that is a LONG way. If we could see people the way God sees them/us, how dirty they/we are before being cleaned and how far they/we have come as far as cleansing, we might have a lot more grace and love for one another.

These are just some random thoughts about a nasty apartment, hopefully you didn't get bored in this extremely long post. I just wanted to share and I am so thankful that my disgust for a nasty apartment began to remind me of Jesus' love for me/us and how wonderfully he has cleansed me/us.

Little Austin Friends

While living in Austin, we were able to live in an apartment complex where many refugees are resettled. We LOVED living in these apartments and loved the people we lived with. Ryan and I both feel strongly that as followers of Jesus we are called to love refugees. This is one of the reasons why we feel in love with one another so quickly :)

Anyway, this is a picture of Ryan with our friends Lily Pa and Pai Lai. This picture was taken on the day we were moving out of our apartment. Lily Pa and Pai Lai are brother and sister. They are Burmese, but have never lived or even visited Burma. Their parents had to flee Burma and lived in a refugee camp in Thailand(where they were born.) After many years, they were able to come to the USA. Every year the USA decides how many refugees they will allow from each country and then they usually partner with non-profit or state agencies to resettle these refugees. In Austin there are a few of these resettlement organizations. The one we know the most about and worked with is Refugee Services of Texas. RST settled many refugees in our apartment complex. They were mostly from Burma, Burundi, Iraq, Nepal, and Somalia. If you ever have a chance to hang out with refugees they will inspire you. They all have such amazing stories of pain and loss mixed with perseverance and hope.

Pai Lai is one of our favorites. He spent more time at our apartment than any of the other kids. He loves Ryan and loves being around him. He always wanted to come over and watch Spider Man on our computer or color in our coloring books. He is a really smart little kid and one of the reasons leaving Austin was so hard.

I am so thankful we were able to spend our first year of marriage living with people like this!

Monday, August 16, 2010


First of all, I am so so sorry it has been so long since I have blogged. I promise that our blogging is going to become more regular now that we are in Lancaster. Ryan is about to join me and write some blogs of his own....stay tuned :)

We made it to Lancaster on Thursday night and have been looking for an apartment and exploring the city since we arrived. It looks like we have found an apartment, there are just a few details to work out. I am so excited about getting settled into an apartment. The buildings downtown(they are called row homes) are over 200 years old! We will be living in a house older than TEXAS!! CRAZY! I will post pics as soon as possible.

We are really excited about what this next year will hold. We love the feel and culture of this city and pray that we will be like sponges and soak up everything we can.

hanging out at a coffee shop downtown

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


This past weekend we went to Tyler to visit my Mom. We love going to spend time with my Mom and really love when we get to spend time with our nephew, Boston. Boston really loves Ryan and loves playing music with Ryan. They play guitars together, play the piano together, and even sing some songs together (okay it is just the "ABC" song, but he is ONLY two!) Here are pictures of the jam session!

disclaimer: Boston is not naked, he has on a pull-up after spending the morning at the lake :)
They both started with their "own" guitars.
Boston quickly learned that Ryan's guitar sounded much better than his little red one and wanted to switch.
This picture reminds me of the movie "August Rush." I'm pretty sure Boston is also going to be a musical prodigy!

What If?

Back in March I read a blog entry by Donald Miller. It challenged you to ask yourself the question "what if?" and actually follow through with that question. It was an inspiring blog to me and you can read it for yourselves here:

After reading, Ryan and I began to ask ourselves this question. What are some things that we would really love to do, but for some reason are not doing them? Maybe we are scared, maybe we are scared of what others will say and think, maybe we just don't take the time, or maybe we don't think we can really do it??

Many of you know that Ryan and I plan on moving to PA and then out of the country in the next year or so. These are really big steps and they are scary to me at times, but we are doing it because we know God is leading us every step of the way. For me, it is often the smaller things that are harder to do, the smaller "what ifs" that are more scary for me.

So, after two years of thinking about it and talking nonstop about it the last few months(poor Ryan) I am doing my "what if"!! I really love jewelry and I learned about a company called Silpada. It is one of those companies where you become an independent rep for them and then throw parties in women's homes and sell your product. From the first time I heard about Silpada, I wanted to do it. However, I was afraid

1. People would think I was silly for wanting to sell jewelry
2. I would lose money
3. I would be horrible at it

BUT, I painfully put those worries aside and ordered my kit. I have had three parties so far and I am loving it. It is really fun hanging out with new ladies and catching up with old friends while looking at beautiful jewelry. I am still scared that after a little while no one will want to have any more parties and I still feel a little silly when I tell people about it, but I did it and that is the point. I think it is really good for us to do things that make us feel a little uncomfortable and silly.

Maybe reading this you are a little disappointed that my "what if" was not more dramatic or life changing...sorry if that is the case. OR maybe, just maybe there is something you have been thinking "what if" about and maybe, just maybe my little story of Silpada will inspire you!

For some of you, it maybe be something huge or it may be something "small". What if you decided to become friends with someone totally different than you? What if you decided to start working out? What if you started a blog or a journal? What if you adopted a child or became a foster parent? What if you got married? What if you started eating more vegetables(working on this one :)? What if you learned a new language? The list can go on and on.

What is your "what if"???

PS Anyone want to host a Silpada party for me??? :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

6 months

On Saturday, Ryan and I celebrated our six month anniversary. It is hard to believe we have really been married six months. I had defensive driving all day, but arrived home to a bunch of tulips and pictures that Ryan had developed of us. We also got our wedding video on Saturday so it was really fun to watch it and remember all the special moments.
We celebrated by going to the Oasis for dinner. It is a restaurant on Lake Travis with absolutely beautiful views. They had a live band and so we spend the evening (along with thousands of others) dancing, eating, and watching the sunset.
Here are some pictures from our night. After we got home we made chocolate covered strawberries and bananas for dessert!

In honor of our 6 month anniversary I thought I would write about the top six things I love about Ryan and being married to him:

1. Learning Together. The amazing thing about marriage is that you have someone to process and learn with all the time. Whether it is learning new things about each other, God, cooking, music, or about ourselves it is a beautiful thing to do with someone.
2. Saturday Morning Pancakes. It has been a tradition for Ryan to cook pancakes every Saturday morning. He has even invented a new type of pancake. He scrambles eggs then he pours the pancake batter around the eggs and makes an egg pancake. It is delicious!
3. Joy. Ryan is one of the most positive people I know. He finds joy in so many things(like good food, a good book(he even loves books that are thousands of pages long and loves reading through all of it!), good relationships, and good wine). He has helped to teach me to enjoy the small things.
4. Date Night. We decided when we got married that we would have a night every week where we just spend time with each other. We use this time to focus on our marriage and our hopes and dreams for our marriage and each other. We do different things on date night, for example; salsa dancing, exploring different coffee shops, watching 24, and checking out different restaurants. Austin has endless options for this kind of thing.
5. Snuggling. I really love to snuggle. Marriage = constant snuggle partner.
6. Unconditional love and forgiveness. We have quickly learned that the closer you are to a person the more that person has the ability to hurt you. We definitely are not perfect and have already done a lot of selfish, hurtful things to one another. The amazing thing is that God has given us so much grace and we are able to extend that to one another and experience more of God through one another's love and forgiveness. It is such an amazing thing to completely, unashamedly know and be known by someone in marriage. I am so thankful God gave us this gift in order to for us to have a very small glimpse of His TRUE, NEVER FAILING unconditional love and forgiveness.

I have been accused(I believe wrongly) of still being in the "honeymoon phase" and wearing "rose-colored glasses." So in an attempt to fight this stereo-type and be honest about marriage I decided to include a list of 6 annoying things about marriage:

1. Getting elbowed in the face. Ryan likes to sleep with his arm up under my pillow, well when he gets tired of his arm being in this position he carefully removes it. More than once, this has resulted in his elbow jamming into my face in the middle of the night.
2. Clutter. Ryan loves books and to study. He is usually reading multiple books at a time. On most days if you come to our apartment you can find anywhere from 5-10 books scattered around...on the table, on the desk, ect. (Okay I have to admit a few of the books are mine, but most of them are his!)
3. The Pregnant Question. Now that we are married anytime we tell someone we have some news we want to share with them, they automatically think we are pregnant. I guess it is just that time in our lives.
4. Alarm clock. Ryan is a morning person and I am most definitely not. He likes to wake up really early and read and study. He likes to set his alarm a good 30 minutes before he wants to wake up, this means that the alarm goes off around 5:30 multiple times every morning. At least it is a soft alarm that sounds like wind chimes.
5. Weird noise. Ryan does this weird thing where he makes a noise in his throat/nose. It is really hard to explain. He does it when his throat or ear itches. It is very strange to me. I think he learned it from someone in his family :)
6. Decisions. I have learned now being two people instead of one means that you check with each other before making plans and decisions. I think this is really a good thing and teaching us what it means to not be so selfish. However, it does mean that it takes a lot longer to make plans and decisions that it did as a single person.

I love being married to Ryan Hartsfield and hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into our first six months!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fun Weekend

One of the reasons I love Austin is because of all the unique events you can attend.  This past weekend was SXSW and the kite festival.  Jessica, Autumn(college friends), and Maggie(co-worker of Jessica and Autumn/new friend) were all in town.  Saturday we spent the day at Town Lake canoeing and playing frisbee.  Then we took a trip to Mt. Bonnell.  On Sunday we went to the kite festival.  
At the kite festival there were hundreds of people flying kites.  The skies looked amazing! It is so refreshing to spend time with good friends. 
Here are a few pictures from the weekend.  I really hope to have a better camera in the next few months, but for now these were taken on the iPhone :)

*top of Mt. Bonnell overlooking the Lake.  I love these girls!*

*Maggie's uncle has a sweet house on Lake Austin.  This is Ryan and I on the dock.*

Friday, March 12, 2010

Invitation to Celebrate

*Noori,(bday girl's father) telling everyone how thankful he is that they came to celebrate*

Last Monday night we had a knock on our door and it was our neighbor inviting us to come to a birthday party the next night for his daughter's first birthday. We said we would come, but we had no idea what a huge party this was going to be! There were about 30ish people at this party, a huge cake, lots of sweets, and very loud music.
The family is from Iraq and they have lived in America over a year now. By most people's standards their life looks sad and depressing, and in many ways they have suffered things I can not fathom. They have left their homes and families to come to a new, unfamiliar place and get jobs that pay $8 an hour at best. However, on Tuesday night the only thing felt around the swimming pool of our apartments was joy and celebration.

*sweets and women*

I started thinking about parties and celebrations and what our lives look like as believers. I will admit, I can be pessimistic and often see the hurt and pain in life before the joy and celebration. However, I was reminded that life now is hard and there are struggles but we must learn to celebrate in the midst of it all. Not celebrate as if there is nothing bad happening, but celebrate because we know of the joy that is coming and celebrate the present joy we experience because we know Jesus.

Isaiah 25:6 Says:
-8But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
Yes, he'll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
He'll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
Yes! God says so!

(the Message)

*Hamdia(mother), Noor(bday girl), and me*

A great feast is coming and our King will reign and make all things completely right one day. Yet we still are living in the Kingdom of God right now. This has always been a mystery to me(and many others I am sure.) The Kingdom is among us and yet bombs are killing people everyday, children go to sleep with no parents, people are starving, and women and children are forced to be sex slaves. What does this all mean? I am definitely not a theologian, but I believe God will make all of this completely right. He will do away with all this sin and injustice. This is what Isaiah says. But what about now...well we are the body of Christ in the world. I pray we become Kingdom workers who fight for these injustices in our everyday lives. I think understanding that God (not us) is the one who will actually make them right gives us the freedom to celebrate and have joy in the midst of such sorrow and ordinary-ness of life today. We know the end of the story will redeem all the regular, hard, and even boring parts. So party on...with all of your heart!

"We need to understand that God does at times give us an infusion of joy even in our bitterness and hard-heartedness. But that is the abnormal situation. God's normal means of bringing his joy is by redeeming and sanctifying the ordinary junctures of human life. When the members of a family are filled with love and compassion and a spirit of service to one another, that family has reason to celebrate."
Celebration of Discipline- Richard Foster

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Listening is so HARD!

We just returned from two weeks of training, evaluation and orientation in order to go overseas.  The last two weeks were intense to say the least.  It was definitely information overload and I keep asking myself, "What was the main thing we learned?"
We learned a lot about transformation, peacemaking, marriage, singleness, language learning and much much more.  However, I (Kristin) think the one thing that we learned the most about was listening.  Most of my friends would probably say I am a good listener, but I am talking about listening to God.  So many times when I pray, I come with so much talking and lists of what I want to "tell" God.(as if he doesn't know)  I have been reading and thinking about Romans 8 especially this part:

26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

Growing up Southern Baptist and currently being a part of a Reformed church, I find myself being a little bit skeptical and even afraid of the "Spirit".  As soon as people start talking about the Holy Spirit, I get pictures in my head of people running around yelling and making people pass out.  This is extreme and un-biblical.  These past two weeks I felt stretched and even uncomfortable at times, but I also began to realize that I was in a way trying to control God by limiting what I believe about Him.  God can't be controlled and I can't change his character, but my belief and understanding were lacking and therefore wrong.  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are a beautiful mystery.  I want to know that beautiful mystery more intimately in spirit and in truth.  I am practicing more listening in my prayer life and more dependence on the Spirit.  He intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will, I definitely want to be a part of that!  Please pray for Ryan and I as we learn to listen more and talk less in prayer.  I pray that this will stir you to also become a better listener :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Life as we know it.....

We have decided that a blog is the perfect way to share all the new things we are learning and experiencing right now.  We believe that God has been and continues to write a beautiful story of bringing us out of captivity and death and into life.  Our story is just a very small part of this beautiful script that has been written since creation.  We hope you enjoy it :)  

This is the beginning of "Our Story"

Kristin:   While living in Greece, I became really close with a couple (about my parents age...YOUNG!) Tracy and Mary Marks.  They were my family away from home.  During the summer of  07 their daughter Amy came to Greece to visit for a few weeks.  One night we were talking about boys (of course!) and Amy said, "Mom, do you know who would be so perfect for Kristin?.....Ryan Hartsfield!"  Mary said, "YEAH!"  So Ryan and I became friends on facebook; however, I didn't even think twice about it because I thought there was no possible way I would ever really meet this guy.  

  After moving back to Texas from Greece and a lot of crazy decisions that didn't make any sense, I ended up moving to Austin, Tx.  I loved Austin and knew there were refugees there so I moved!  On November 25, 2008, Amy Marks was in Austin and invited me to go out to eat.  I thought it was going to be just me and her; however, she had invited quite a few other people.  One of those people happened to be Ryan Hartsfield.  Because of my experience in Greece I have a really huge passion for refugees and Ryan just happened to live in apartments with refugees.  So funny how that works out!  That night we talked mostly about refugees in Austin.  A few days after meeting, I sent Ryan a facebook message asking him if they were doing English classes or anything with the refugees.  He responded by answering my questions and asking me to go have coffee/tea with him.  We began to teach together and drink together and quickly fell in love!!!