Archives for April 2013

On Christianity and Social Justice


From The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis:

“About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our (the demon’s) position is more delicate.

Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster.

On the other hand, we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice.

The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy  (God) demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner.”


When I read the above statement written by C.S. Lewis in 1941, it took me several moments to wrap my brain around the concept presented. I then had to read the letter a second time, then a third, then I waited for our group of friends to come to our house in the hopes that someone would unpack it for me.

The mere definition of social justice itself causes my brain to turn over. What does that phrase even mean? In my search for some kind of answer, I turned to Professor Google to help me out:

– According to the National Association of Social Workers, social justice is “the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need.”

– According to social justice is defined as “The fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice. See also civil rights.”

– The Catholic World Report informs us that the idea of social justice was first presented by a Jesuit Philosopher named Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio. This early philospher’s theory was described by Thomas C. Behr of The University of Houston as “a legal order and normative ideal within a society by which individuals and their various associations are given the maximum range of liberty in pursuit of their proper ends, with a minimum of interference from superior authorities, i.e., only to the extent necessary to orient general activity towards the common good, and governed by the principles of conflicting rights, prudence, and, ultimately, of charity.”

When I read this post at, my mind almost exploded with the range and depth of thought that was given to this idea of social justice. Read through the theories slowly and carefully and take a moment to chew on the difference between social justice and social charity.

Without doubt, “Social Justice” is a buzz word and it seems to have been one for centuries. It sounds noble to claim that we are for social justice, but the fact is it is a phrase without a real definition and you cannot really back up the notion of social justice scripturally.

In today’s modern society (particularly Western society), social justice is quickly followed by a list of those things we believe to be rights and we all seem to have a mountain we’re ready to die on when it comes to social justice.

It has become so prevalent to fight for the modern social justice, that even the Church as a whole is separate on the issue with I myself taking part in the noise. But lately I’ve had to pause and ask the question: Is social justice demanded of us by God?


Did Jesus fight for social justice?


We’re told in Acts 2 that the early church was “together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” It seems to me, as I read through this passage, that this is a picture of the church operating in Love, not under some forced and false notion of social justice.

Perhaps the most common argument used by Christians when trying to define social justice is the fact that Jesus stood for Love and if Jesus is Love, then we must be that as well. This is true, but do Love and social justice go hand in hand? I think, again, it depends on how we define social justice. 

What are your thoughts on this issue? How do you define social justice and within the paramenters of that definition, how do you apply it to your faith? What does it mean to Love and serve others as Jesus commanded of us? I’d love some discussion on this because my brain spins when I try to grasp it.

Update: The term I’m looking to discuss is “social justice,” which I believe is entirely different than the term justice as defined by God. We are definately called to seek justice, but how have we warped that calling? We have politicized and twisted the idea of justice and made it a thing that is to be held in the same hand as faith.

To channel Linda Richman…”Talk amongst yaselves.”


The Words on my Desk

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – The best book I’ve read in a long time. It has totally rocked my faith and honestly saved me from a bout of bitterness at the present circumstances of life.

With God in Russia by Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. – The fascinating true story of Father Ziszek who was falsely accused in 1940 of being an American Spy and sentenced to hard labor in a Russian prison camp in Siberia. He would remain imprisoned for 23 years.

The Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Robert W. Bly – This book (or my version of it, anyway) is a bit outdated as it was printed before the boom of online social media, but it still gives practical tips for how we writers can actually make a little bit of money at this freelance gig. Because friends, I need a new computer. Mine is hobbling toward the finish line and really, at 745 in computer years, she’s lived a long, happy life. But it’s time for a replacement and before that can happen I need some money.

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas – I haven’t started this one, but The MOB Society will be leading us through it during this month’s Book Club. Check it out if you want to be involved. I’m looking forward to it!

Bonhoeffer: Paster, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes – I’ve been slowly making my way through this book. It’s wordy, but it is so, so good. It’s given me a GREAT glimpse into the world of Nazi Germany, which has helped further bolster the historical nature of my own novel. In addition, the story of Bonhoeffer’s life is challenging and fascinating.

How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen – The time has come for me to get down to the dirty business of getting my book published and part of that process is writing a book proposal. This is not the fun part of the process, I might add, but it is necessary.

Write the Perfect Book Proposal by Jeff Herman and Deborah M. Adams – See above.


So that’s what I’m reading. How about you? What words are sitting on your desk top, or beside your bed, or on your couch or kitchen countertop or wherever it is that you get lost in a book?

Join me at The MOB Society



That’s what I served my oldest and his motley crue of buddies at his 9th birthday party. Crickets. C-R-I-C-K-E-T-S! Now before I move forward with this story, I must tell you I have a history with crickets. It’s not happy, my cricket story.

It involves a college-age me in 1999 when the plague of crickets descended upon Waco, Texas where I was a student at Baylor University. Literally, crickets fell from the sky like rain. The horror of it all still leaves me nauseous.

And in the midst of that time, I got engaged to the man who would soon become my husband. A regular date during our courtship involved him accompanying me to Barnes and Noble for late night study sessions and this is where the cricket story really takes off.

Friends, as we sat in the hushed bookstore one evening, a cricket FREAKING CRAWLED UP MY PANTS! Do you know what happens when you realize a cricket is in your pants?!

You freak out right there in front of God and everybody.


Once I dug the little Peeping Tom Cricket out, I sat down flushed and embarassed as my future husband laughed hysterically.

“A cricket…was in. my. pants!” I hissed.

Lee wiped his eyes, leaned forward and raised his eyebrows. “Oh yeah?” he grinned. “Lucky cricket…”


So you see my conundrum with crickets. I’m not a fan of the wily little buggers. And yet my boy wanted them for his birthday…as a snack. He wanted to eat crickets because he wanted a Bizarre Foods birthday party.

We watch Andrew Zimmern regularly around these parts. My boys ooh and aah and think he’s the coolest person in the whole wide world. My daughter and I wrinkle our noses and gag.

But, I’m a boy mom and boy moms find a way to make their boy’s dreams come true and my boy wanted to eat bugs so I tracked down edible crickets, larvae and scorpion lollipops and became the coolest mom on the block.

I’m over at The MOB Society today sharing a post about the day that my son, thankfully, did not poison us all. Join me over there to read the rest!

And Happy Weekend to you all!

The Peace and Comfort of Art Created

I am deep in the trenches of editing my book, which is more overwhelming than it sounds. As I read through it a second time, this time with the words of those who have read and offered constructive criticism, I find myself swallowed in the process. It is equally daunting and peaceful.

In the background, the Mozart station plays on Pandora filling my mind with the peace and comfort of art created. I love the way the notes mold and push and swell and fall and each have their place.

My mind still feels full and twisted and confused by all that has happened over the last few months. Sometimes I feel like a lost little puppy. But when I stop thinking and start creating, peace takes over and wraps me tight. I just re-read these words from my novel. They were spoken by a father who had to let go of his son. I wrote this two years ago, but I needed to read again it today.

“Pain is an interesting emotion.  It’s more than physical, though it certainly manifests itself in physical ways.  As I hug my son for the last time, my arms physically ache as though the muscles are tearing from the bone.  And when I pull back and look into his brave but tear filled eyes, I feel my heart rip.

I think I even hear it.

I won’t get that piece of my heart back.  And that is the interesting thing about pain.  It never leaves you.  Sometimes it dulls and other times you may feel healed, but pain always leaves a mark – a scar as a reminder that life and love aren’t free.  Pain changes everything.”

©Kelli Stuart, April 2013

I hope I don’t sound terribly angsty and sad. I’m not – in fact, right now in this moment I am enormously satisfied. I still feel unsure of what tomorrow will bring, but today is alright.

Today there is peace in the process of creating.

And there is Mozart.

And…well, I can’t lie – there’s also some coffee and a little bit of chocolate involved.


So tell me friends – how do you all find peace and calm when life feels twisty and unsure?

Playing Hooky

Image taken by Avodah

Today, this girl and I are blowing off school and heading to Busch Gardens. We could have done this after school, or on Saturday, but there’s something about skipping school to have a fun day with Mom that’s extra special.

Sometimes playing hooky is the right thing to do.

Sometimes they need you all to themselves.

Sometimes they need to know that time spent alone with Mom is fleeting and special and a little bit exciting.

Sometimes they just need to see that building a memory is more important than reviewing spelling words.

Sometimes playing hooky is right because I want them all to know that family is fun and life is an adventure and it’s okay to get away now and again for no other reason than just to have a good laugh. I also want them to know that this is not something that we do all the time and it’s only to be done with Mom and Dad’s blessing and involvement.

Sometimes you just need a break. Today I get my break with her and her alone and we are both giddy with excitement.

What are you up to today?

The One Where I Channel My Inner Nester

My friend Myquilin (better known as The Nester) is my Interior Design guru. I read her website and sigh at how beautiful and serene and lovely her house is, then usually look at my house, shrug my shoulders and assume I will never be able to pull off anything pretty or serene.

But something has gotten into me the last few weeks. I needed a distraction from my thoughts; I needed something to keep me busy and my dad had some time off to help me paint, so without really thinking about it, I started rolling the snowball and gave it a good shove.

The results are turning out marvelously, if I do say so myself. I have a long way to go, but I am slowly piecing together the home that I’ve always desired but assumed myself too inept to actually have.

I mean, we all know that I stink at DIY projects, right? Last time I attempted a do it yourself project, I ended up needing a steroid shot to combat my tracker jacker bites.

Dad and I repainted half of the interior of my house last week and I must say, it looks smashing. Of course, now all my furniture no longer matches (hello Craig’s List!) and I need new curtains and area rugs (hellooooo IKEA!) and…well, you get the snowball analogy, right?

I’m trying to reuse the few pieces that I can by repainting them. I made my first attempt at painting furniture on Saturday. Using Annie Sloan chalk paint (which is supposed to be fool proof…I decided to put it to the ultimate test), I refinished the table that was behind our couch.

We didn’t pay very much for this table and I’m not attached to it so I figured it I messed it up then no harm done. Friends, everything you’ve ever heard about Annie Sloan chalk paint is true. It practically does the work for you. Case in point – this is what my table looks like now.

Once I finished admiring my handiwork and patting myself on the back, I looked around at what needed to be done next and I asked myself, WWND?


What Would Nester Do?


She would shop her house, that’s what she would do. And so that’s what I did. I moved the blue vase from our bedroom (which Lee makes fun of…he calles it “Grandma’s Ashes” – punk…) and a couple of the colorful frames I had scattered throughout the house. I grabbed my pretty yellow pitcher that always makes me smile and a stack of books and threw it all on top of the table.

Then I went to Michaels where I bought the letter ‘S’, a piece of scrapbook paper and the bright green frame. I removed the glass, glued the paper on the back of the frame and then glued the ‘S’ to the paper and stood it proudly atop the books.

Look at me go!!!

I’ve also had these pretty Alphabet Bible Verse Cards for awhile and I’ve wanted to do a better job of displaying them so I used my thinker, looked through a couple of magazines, and I decided to keep it simple. I grabbed a couple of thumb tacks, a piece of string and the little clothespins that I use to hang up Christmas cards and viola!

Indeed…I do love it. I love it a lot – especially the way the colors all move from one room to the next in a way that makes sense.

Now I just need to sell all my brown furniture (except the pieces that I plan to paint…nothing wooden is safe in my house now. I MIGHT BE ADDICTED TO ANNIE SLOAN!) But it’s all starting to come together, slowly but surely. (Warning: The color and quality of these photos are not good. I didn’t have the patience to keep trying to get it right. The walls are a very pale, light grey…)

If you know anyone who might be interested in the dining room table and chairs and the hutch, let me know!

The cornices above the windows used to be dark brown. It took several coats of white paint (the same paint I used on the trim) to cover it but it was worth the effort. Now I just need some bright curtain panels to frame the window.

It’s not perfect…yet. But that’s the other thing that Nester has taught me – It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. For now, I’m just happy with progress because it feels like something in life is finally moving forward. This, oddly, gives me a sense of hope for the future.

Who knew redecorating my house could be so philisophical?!


He wakes up every morning with one thing on his mind: When can I play/watch/talk about baseball? It is his life passion and I know without a shadow of a doubt that this kid was created to play sports.

As a sidenote, I also think he was created to be a Florida boy because he finds pants, shoes and shirts to be terribly cumbersome and restrictive.

Most mornings, this freckle-faced child of mine stumbles from his bed to the couch where he lays half awake, unable to function or move unless someone pulls out a ball and starts bouncing it. Then he goes from barely functional to crazy person in less than a second. In fact, when someone pulls out a ball, Landon usually reacts a bit like Buddy the Elf upon seeing Santa Clause:

Seriously. When someone pulls out a ball you can see his pulse quicken. It’s a game with a a ball?! A GAME WITH A BALL!!!!!!!

The sight of a baseball, or football, or basketball or anything round that can be tossed or caught sends him into such a frenzy of excitement it’s hard not to laugh out loud. When he plays ball, if the people he’s playing with lose interest in the game or begin messing around, he grows agitated and annoyed.

“Just play the game!” he can be heard yelling over and over. He has no patience for shenanigans when it comes to playing ball. This boy was created to play ball. How do I know this?

Because he has been enamored with balls since before he could walk. In fact, he was barely sitting independently the first time I set a ball in front of him and his face lit up as he rolled it from hand to hand. When he was 8 months old, we sat on the sidelines of Sloan’s soccer game and Landon crawled after a soccer ball for an hour, giggling and laughing as though he were frolicking with a long lost friend.

He’s been able to hit a baseball thrown to him since before he turned 2 and he was dribbling a basketball with near perfection by 2.5. Remember this video?

But by far, right now, his greatest affection lies with the game of baseball. He spends hours a day throwing the ball against the house outside. He practices catching it with his left hand, and then with his right hand. He narrates his own imaginary game and he is, of course, always the winner.

Perhaps one of the things I love most about this kid is his unabashed enjoyment of life. Every moment is a gift and he is fully engaged in the enjoyment of those moments – even the few moments that don’t include baseball. Yesterday I walked the dog around the block and he rode his bike alongside. As he pedaled hard, his training wheels keeping him firmly upright, he flew passed me, the wind pushing his white hair back off his forehead.

“WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” he screamed, lifting his legs off the pedals and grinning wide. “This. Is. AAAWWWWEEESSSSOOOOMMMEEE!”

Life is such a gift, isn’t it? I pray we all embrace the zeal of a five year old today and soak it in. Roll the windows down, let the wind whip through your hair and grin wide. And if you’re feeling brave, give a shout of joy. I think we could all use a little zeal, yes? In light of recent events, it’s refreshing to remember that life is an awesome gift and joy comes in the enjoyment of the present moment.


Happy Friday and happy weekend!

Where the Present Touches Eternity


Image by


“We (the demons) want [man] to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a himan’s mind against [God]. He want men to ce concentrated with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This present time and age rocks and churns with uncertainty. With each bomb exploded, each innocent child killed senselessly, each cry of anguish and pain that gathers like a cloud over and around us, it’s easy to feel lost. Beauty is marred and history now tainted.

How many more cities must erect a memorial in honor of the victims?

In times like this, we have to be careful not to wallow in the uncertainty of this present age. As Americans, we are a toddler nation still youthful in our page of history. The rest of the world is pitted and scarred with the darkness of evil, but beauty and goodness shine bright. Just visit the cathedrals that still stand in the Italian countryside, their centuries old paintings revealing beauty in ashes.

Look at the statues carved from stone and close your eyes and take in the brilliant, soul stirring symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven, Gershwin and Chopin. Read Pushkin and Akhmatova and get lost in the words of those brilliant poets who weave pictures with pen and paper that send color into the dark world.

Most of the great beauty in this world has risen from the heat of evil.

When the world gets dark and smoky, it’s easy to fall into cynicism. We wonder what kind of world we’re living, what kind of darkness our children will have to endure as they grow.

But we can also remember that these things, though shocking and revolting and vile and senseless, are not new and they are not the end of beauty or hope or joy or goodness. All you had to do was watch footage of the first responders to know that goodness wins. And really, without the ugly how would we ever know what beauty truly looked like?


Without evil, how could there possibly be good?


These last few months have rocked me to my core. They’ve tested my faith and pushed me down into the heap of ashes. I’ve lamented and cried over the child in the orphanage who may never know how much she was already loved – a child who could have had a home but now may never know the comfort and security of a family. I’ve wept bitterly over the children who could have known love.

I’ve looked hard at the darkness, the ability for man to make all of life into a giant mess, and I’ve wondered where the beauty lies in all of it. I’ve looked around and seen the world with new eyes and realized…we are all covered in ashes. And what are we to do with that?

We keep loving. We keep rushing forward into the dark and we be the light. We teach our children what it means to be the light. As for me, I am working on finding the beauty. I can’t focus on the darkness because there is no hope there and life without hope is life without beauty. I cannot  dwell on the fear of the future, the unknown and unfulfilled desires of the heart – instead I must trust that the only true impact I can have on this world is living fully right now, in this present moment.

“The humans live in time but our Enemy (God) destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

It sounds cliche and almost trite to say I’m praying for Boston today, but I am. I am praying for all the hurting hearts and the darkened souls. And I’m praying that today I will be ready to act – ready to be light, to show love, to speak well and bring out the beauty.

 Live for the Present friends. Let’s touch eternity together.



What are you up to this week?

Friday Links

We’re making progress in the Great Paint Project of 2013. The colors are spectacular and when it’s all said and done I’m going to love it. Just trying to keep my eyes on the prize because sweet mercy I do not enjoy the process of painting.

Anyway, while I continue to slave away, here are a couple of links for you to check out.

I’m thrilled to announce that I have joined the writing team at The MOB Society. I will be managing the Friday Funnies series where we will dissect the hilarity of mothering boys. Today’s post by LaToya made me laugh out loud because the socks and the shoes? Awesome.

Shaun gives us 4 practical things we can do to help end slavery. Definitely worth the read.

I am honored to have been invited to this year’s Disney Social Media Moms celebration at Walt Disney World. Leading up to the celebration, Rene of Good Enough Mother is featuring a little bit about each attendee. Today was my turn in the hot seat. *blush*

My friend Myquilin, who many of you know as The Nester, faced down a big fear and wrote a book and I am so, so proud of her.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!