Everyday Story: Caitlyn Littrell

Once a month, I teach Art and Music in my sons’ classes at Pleasant Hill Elementary. The school does not have the funding to teach these subjects, but thankfully they have an amazing parent-led group that equips parents to come in and teach the lessons.

Last week, I was teaching about Michelangelo in Sawyer’s class, and so we got to practice sculpting. Each student got a specifically designated size of clay to work with. The instructions I was given for the lesson were clear that I couldn’t give any student more than that amount, since there had to be enough clay left for the other classes. I explained that to the class, so that they could plan accordingly.

There is a boy in Sawyer’s class who just moved here from Mongolia and doesn’t speak or understand English very proficiently yet. He became upset, because he was building an igloo and ran out of clay. I tried to explain that I couldn’t give him any more clay, but he didn’t understand. I asked the class if anyone happened to have some extra he or she was willing to share. Instantly, almost every student in the class stood up and brought this igloo builder some clay. He ended up having plenty to finish his igloo. The teacher and I got a little teary eyed as we watched. Even though they knew they wouldn’t get anymore clay, they readily gave a portion of what they had away.

An Invitation: This has stuck with me for the last several days and built a conviction in my heart. I want to readily give away what I have, even when I know it’s all I have. I don’t want to hold my possessions, time, resources so tightly that I’m not seeing Jesus’ invitation to share and help someone beside me build something important. This class showed me how to live out a place of abundance even in scarcity. 

Everyday Story: Carol Hasegawa

I started writing haiku a little over a year ago just to see if I could do it. My son Steven and hubby Stan had already written quite a few. I often thought, that’s fine for them, I’m just not into poetry. Never understood it and certainly couldn’t write it. But, one day, I thought, why not try? It was much easier than I thought. I’ve always loved words and writing, just not poetry. It turns out that haiku fits me perfectly, because I can either write/say just a little or a whole lot, sometimes more than most want to hear. Haiku fits the “just say a little” part of me.

Plus I discovered, that God often speaks to me by filling in the last line. During my quiet time with Him, I think of some complaint, some struggle, something I’m working towards or away from. Then I start counting syllables and if I have less than 17, I wonder what or how God thinks of it. He whispers the end. Then it’s just a matter of making the whole thing fit into 17 syllables without destroying what I’m trying to say.

Recently, daughter-in-law Rebecca asked me about what I meant by “all is right” in one of my haiku. It’s my definition of joy—a fruit of the Spirit that I’ve tried desperately for years to get a-hold of. I don’t often experience joy, but one day when I did, I worked to define how it felt. And instead of anything euphoric, amazing or ecstatic, it seemed like everything was right with me and my world. No complaints, nothing amiss, no anxiety, no guilt, no shame, nothing to strive for. Just at that particular moment in time. And then it occurred to me that God is always right—perfect and the embodiment of Truth, even in the midst of the world’s un-rightness.

Thinking that my haiku on joy would demonstrate my journey, I pulled together all the haiku that mentions joy or is related to joy and sent it to Rebecca. Here they all are:

To see Your Light in darkness
Feel joy when all fails
Know You alone are God

a joy killer! Jesus, give
me a grateful heart

I’m sick. Give me joy
to rejoice in You when I
feel really lousy

Snapchat: God, Your day.
Gratitude. Your Plan.
God is good. Rejoice.

Various trials? A call to joy:
Sunshine, not fog
Ice cream, not pickles

When God writes a poem
Rejoice in His goodness
Give Him all the glory

When God writes our life
Rebel and protest that that’s
not what we asked for

Surrender to share
in the suffering of Christ.
Here and there small joys.

Joy can be in my
heart for no good reason other
than it is there

Pray your way to joy
Trusting that God listens and
cares more than you know

Let me pursue You
in prayer and find joy at the
end of the rainbow

Joy, like life, is fleeting
and to pursue it (as a goal)
is to lose it

Wake up feeling not
right. Help me surrender
the not right in my life

True joy is “all is right”,
independent of all
God is always all right

Trying to achieve
joy by living perfectly—
what a joy killer!

Things will get better…
Or maybe they won’t
Either way, all is still right

Aiming for neutral
Seeking joy, trying to survive
Seek God alone

Jesus, corral my
troubled thoughts, replace with Your
promises of joy

Darkness—we have too
much joy to go there.
We are children of The Light.

A teaspoon of joy,
of all-is-right-ness, is such
a gift from above

Tired, discouraged,
guilt-ridden, glum. Trade You for
joy, hope, courage, strength

and dark thoughts begone!
Let joy and hope reign instead

Breathe in hope, breathe in
joy. Deliberately breathe
in what you need most.

k, ready for a
cup of joy. Show me sunshine,
ice cream and lilies

Grateful that even
Though adversity abounds
Joy is in my heart

Don’t have to follow
tiredness to depression.
Can choose joy instead.

Step out into Light
Smell the joy See the perfume
Inhale the beauty

Hello Joy! Keep Darkness
at bay. Be the door to
Praise and Gratitude.

Invitation: As many have said before me, art can be a way to connect with God. I challenge and invite you to look for an art medium that is your unique way to connect to God. The medium may not be unique in itself, but your use of it will be. If nothing comes to mind, try something, anything. You can’t fail, because this isn’t about performance or achievement; this is about you doing something together with God.

A Season of Surprise and Imagination


Advent is a season of surprise and imagination.

The lectionary texts for the First Sunday of Advent included Isaiah 64, where the prophet ponders the “wonders beyond all expectations” God has done in the world. 

The Scriptures invite us to imagine a God who catches us by surprise. 

When Jesus was born, it caught the world by surprise. And I think this element of surprise brings God joy: that redemption would show up in a place that was thought forgotten or abandoned, that the surprise of God was first revealed to (and for) those who were lowly and meek. 

Later in the passage, the prophet invites God’s people to imagine themselves, collectively, as clay and to imagine God as the potter who works tirelessly and creatively to form and shape a people who participate in the ongoing creation of the world. 

This isn’t the God we (or our world) might typically imagine - a god likened to a stern old man in the clouds with a big beard who constantly makes sure each of us knows that we don’t measure up. Like an eternally-grumpy Santa Claus. 

What if we imagined God as a craftsman? Someone who carefully and meticulously and skillfully designed and sketched and then sourced different materials together to make something sturdy, something that will last. Someone who creates and builds and develops the spaces needed for the world to flourish?   

What if we imagined God as an artist? Someone whose imagination was sparked and then compelled into creativity, creating a sculpture and painting a canvas and weaving a tapestry of life and beauty and goodness, a storyteller who’s artistry reflects and guides the intricacies and possibilities of life in the wonder-filled expanse of our universe.  

What if we imagined God as caretaker or a gardener? Someone who got down into the dirt and the mud and the clay. Someone whose hands were familiar with the soil, someone who is filled with equal parts hope and patience and perseverance as they plant tiny seeds anticipating a great harvest. 

The scriptures invite us to imagine God as a potter who creatively works the cay, a mother who fiercely protects her children. as a Father who is constantly looking out for his children. as a host who is always inviting, always opening the door, and never shutting it in your face. 

What if, this Advent, we positioned ourselves to be surprised by God? 
To be caught off guard when we find God at work in unexpected places? 
To dare look for those things we’ve thought were lost?
To risk hope in the places we’ve let go of hope?

This Advent, may we step forward toward the God who was stepped toward us in the journey of becoming a people of laughter, creativity, surprise, and imagination.

An Advent Home Liturgy


There are a lot of "liturgies" we follow during the Christmas season.

  • We make shopping lists for friends and family and slowly cross of the lists as we've found the perfect gift. 
  • We prepare a place in our house for a tree or other special decorations that remind us of the holiday festivities. 
  • We surround ourselves with food and tastes and smells that we associate with the season or memories of the season..

These are all "liturgies" - rhythms, practices, and routines - that form us. For good or ill, we are shaped by the rhythms, rituals, and practices of everyday life and special seasons like Christmas. 

Each year, Advent is a season of time marking the movement toward Christmas. Journeying through the season of Advent is a liturgy designed to form us as people who can receive the gift that Christmas represents - the birth of joy, the arrival of hope, life springing forth in the world.

Because of the arrival of Jesus, the world has changed. Advent helps form us as a people who participate in the change that God is up to in the world. 

In addition to our Advent Journey in our Gathering rhythm, we put together an Advent Home Liturgy to help you (along with family and friends) mark the time of Advent through candle lighting, scripture readings, simple discussion questions, and prayer. (The Scripture passages and prayers are adapted from the Revised Common Lectionary, which is a guide used by churches throughout the world to move through the Scriptures together.)  

Download the Advent Home Liturgy PDF as we move toward Christmas together!

Open Door Abundance

In the beginning, God created a world of abundance. 
Out of an abundance of love, Jesus offered up all he had so that we could live. 
Through the work of the Spirit, God continues to weave a world of abundance all around us. 

In our world, scarcity is often the loudest voice: there is not enough, there can never be enough, you are not enough, you can never be enough. 

Yet this is the world of God’s abundance.

The good life that Jesus invites us into (life 'to the full') is marked by a pervasive and holistic shalom, love of God and neighbor, and joining a family formed around Jesus that practices faithful stewardship and a deep trust and reliance in God's abundance. 

In contrast to the economic imagination of the world around us, we are invited into a Jesus-looking economic imagination that invites us to reconsider the economic status quo and move deeper into a kingdom imagination of abundance.

For the last several years, Open Door has created space for a digital, experience, and relational economy rooted in abundance. Open Door Abundance is where the Open Door family redistributes our resources, skills, time, talents and possessions for the sake of others. On Abundance, you'll find people trading housewares, skills/talents/ideas, recommendations, as well as reaching out for prayer and tangible help in response to pressing needs. 

But sharing our stuff is just the beginning. 

Acts speaks of the Jesus-following family as a community that shared all they had in common. In a letter to the Jesus-community in Thessalonika, Paul talks about sharing the good news of Jesus but also the entirety of life as well. 

What if we continued this journey?

What if we, like the flowers in the field and the birds in the air, practiced abundance to such an extent that we no longer got caught up in worry and stress? What might the world look like if we placed our trust, not in the sound of scarcity, but in the beauty and goodness of God’s abundance?

May we step into this invitation into the fullness of God’s abundance, recognizing that we not only have access to an abundance of stuff, but that we ourselves, together, embody a holistic abundance that can be offered up for the sake of the world around us.

Join us in this journey of Abundance!