The Maria Scarf

Introducing the Maria, the first in a new collection I’m launching launch to benefit refugees and asylum seekers around the world.

Made ethically in North America, the Maria is available in a variety of sizes and prices in silk, modal, satin, and polychiffon. Choose from two colors: coral/teal or rust/scarlet.

100% of the proceeds go to the Maria Skobtsova House in Calais this wintertime.

This design has been a labor of love for a place and a people I care for deeply. Whether or not you buy the Maria, I hope you’ll consider any gift that supports those searching for safety this holiday season.

PS: If you’re like me and you need some ideas of how to creatively style a square scarf, may I suggest this blog post, or this one?

Merry Christmas from the Funkhousers!

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

Like many of you, this year has been full of cancelled plans, shifting emotions, anxiety and grief. But as we look back on this year, we also want to celebrate all the moments of joy and grace that have been present right through the midst of it.

2020 was a hard year. But it was also…

  • The year we explored our own neighborhood and discovered all sorts of hidden treasures
  • The year we leveled up on our brunch making and homemade pizza baking and tried so many new recipes (we’re looking at you, eclairs!)
  • The year we bought a radio and started planning parts of our weeks around programs on the classical station
  • The year we reconnected with many friends around the world
  • The year we saw people having new and fresh conversations around community justice and flourishing
  • The year we walked and biked everywhere and turned every social event into a picnic
  • The year we made new international friends by staying put
  • The year we encountered Mother Maria of Paris
  • The year we started buying more of our groceries at the farmer’s market
  • The year Jenna had enough time to finish writing and publish a book, which she never thought she would do.
  • The year Ben learned how to carry a two-week supply of groceries home by bicycle
  • The year we picked up new craft hobbies, from calligraphy to textile design
  • The year we leaned to pray the words of Mary: “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me as you have said.”

We pray that as you look back on this past year, you too can discover new seeds that were planted in the deep furrows and rocky soil. May you find yourself accompanied by a God who is as close as our very breath, who gives us these very current and ordinary circumstances as our school of life and love.

Merry Christmas!

“Of course it does no good to recognize this in a merely intellectual way. Knowing Christ loves us may not save us from fear, nor will it save us from death. And so it comes down to this: the only way to truly overcome our fear of death is to live life in such a way that its meaning cannot be taken away by death.

“This sounds grandiose, but it really is very simple. It means fighting the impulse to live for ourselves, instead of others. It means choosing generosity over greed. It also means living humbly, rather than seeking influence and power. Finally it means being ready to die again and again – to ourselves, and to every self-serving opinion and agenda.”

Johann Christoph Arnold

Merry Christmas from the Funkhousers!

2019 is coming to a close, and what a year it’s been. In so many ways, it has been a year of healing, wholeness, and increasing hopefulness for whatever lies ahead in 2020. We hope you too feel surrounded by the warmth of this season and the seeds of new life that have been planted in your soul.

To give you a quick overview of this year for the Funkhouser family:

  • In early 2019, Ben was accepted into the School of Social Work at Portland State University! (Cue the confetti!!) This dream was many years in the making and we were thrilled to make the transition into college students again. He began classes in September and has another year and two-thirds to go before receiving his MSW.
  • In February Jenna traveled to Tanzania again with Loom, and loved getting to reconnect with friends and partners there. She has also perfected her recipe for Tanzanian ginger tea and would love to share a cup with you!
  • In May, Jenna broke her wrist in a freak accident on the way to jury duty (she’s finally ready to talk about it). Thankfully, it was a smooth healing process and didn’t interfere too much with her plans for summer hiking, camping, and kayaking!
  • In June we both traveled to Minnesota for a family wedding that became the best sort of reunion. It was wonderful to spend a few days on the lake as well with family and make new memories together.
  • This summer was also full of many wonderful outdoor adventures, including a rafting trip with friends, three camping trips, and a college reunion on Mt. Hood. That was certainly one of the highlights, as well as a camping trip to Crater Lake with Ben’s family. We’re so thankful for all the friends who love to soak up the beauty of Oregon with us!
  • In August, we moved yet again – this time into housing near Ben’s school specifically for students. We love living the downtown life and making our cozy little flat a home. You’re welcome anytime!
  • Jenna traveled with Loom again in October to be part of a training at the World Without Orphans forum in Thailand, then visited a friend in Indonesia. This was definitely one of the highlights of her year – you can read more about it here!
  • We continue to be richly blessed by friendships – including one family who arrived this April from Afghanistan. We’ve kept trying new recipes and love seeing food or a generous cup of tea bring people together.

If we’re being honest, both of us came into 2019 feeling a bit fragmented and pretty weary. We entered the year in a season of waiting and fragile beginnings, and it’s been incredible to see how those little seeds have begun to grow into something nourishing and beautiful. We made a commitment this year to prioritize beauty and the practice of finding and experiencing God in all things – and it has made each season such a rich journey, even in the midst of struggle and heartache.

Now, as we head into a new year full of new dreams and new adventures, we pray that God would give us the eyes to see Him in places the world often overlooks, to keep embracing rhythms of wholeness, and to keep learning how to become our truest selves in Him.

We pray that this blessing from John O’Donohue would be true for each of you as well:

May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and light of your soul.

May you realize that you are never alone.

May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.

May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique;

that you have a special destiny here,

that behind the facade of your life there is something

beautiful, good, and eternal happening.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Merry Christmas from the Funkhousers!

Christmas Photo

Merry Christmas, friends! And what a year it has been. It feels like so much has happened since our letter last year.

To give you the highlights:

  • This year felt like a big learning curve in our new and growing roles at work. We’re so grateful for these opportunities and are glad we “took the plunge” last year!
  • Ben continues his work with L’Arche and just applied for PSU’s Graduate Program in Social Work. We are praying he gets in and begins next fall!
  • Jenna traveled with Loom to Tanzania in April, her first time to Africa (it was beautiful and very wet!) She is excited to to return this February.
  • We both traveled around Scandinavia visiting family this June, and spent a few wonderful days back in Amsterdam (it was beautiful and very hot!).
  • Both of us are trying out new volunteer roles: occasional dinner chef at L’Arche for Jenna and crisis line worker for Ben
  • We moved a few miles down the road in October and have enjoyed sharing a place with friends (and their cat).
  • We spent most of the year car-free which was a fun experiment
  • After much prayer and counsel, we joined an Anglican church this month and are thankful for the opportunity for spiritual formation through the ancient liturgy and practices of the Church.

In all honesty, this has felt like a year of opposites in many ways. It has been a year of making many new friends and reconnecting with old ones, of really testing out what it means to live according to our values and how to walk the delicate road of adapting without compromising. We love the direction our lives are going and yet so much still feels uncertain. It seems fitting that we write these words during Advent, the period of waiting in the mystery.

More than anything, this year has been a reminder that as John Lennon said,  “life is what happens while we are making plans.” We continue to look ahead and hope for the future, but more than anything we’re learning that wherever God takes us, we bring ourselves along. We want to invest just as much into becoming whole, healthy, mature people as we invest in getting to the next phase of life, whatever that holds.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. It means more than you know!

We’d like to end with these marvelous words which have been such an encouragement to us during this season. May it bless you as well as we “trust in the slow work of God’ together.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Merry Christmas from the Funkhousers!

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & truth were trampled by scorn-
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn-
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

-Madeleine L’Engle

This has been a year of many changes (but then again, aren’t they all?). We have both experienced the “risk of birth” this year as we step into new & unknown directions. Through it all we have been so grateful to have a Father who has gone before us, taking the ultimate “risk of birth” by coming down in human form to bring us hope & eternal security through his son.

Per tradition, here’s the bullet point version of our year:

  • We’re still living in Southeast, the longest we’ve lived in an apartment by far. We’re enjoying the chance to continue getting to know some neighbors and hope to keep investing in the community. Plus, our mice neighbors have finally been evicted, a definite reason to rejoice.
  • Jenna had a series of scary health issues Feb-May of this year. One of the bummers of this was that we had to cancel our trip to Amsterdam. Thankfully she is feeling much better now & is actually grateful for some of the things she learned during that season. It was a hard but good season of trusting and relying upon God. (Although we still hope to make it back to Amsterdam before long!)
  • Ben completed his fifth year of working with CIS, then took the exciting step of following his passions towards a more people-oriented career. He is now working for L’Arche Portland, an intentional community for people with disabilities.
  • Jenna also took on a new position with Loom International on their Marketing/Communications team. So far she loves it, and will hopefully be planning a trip soon to visit some of their work on the field.
  • We traveled to Chicago this June and attended the Justice Conference, a dream come true for both of us.  We were especially inspired to broaden our perspectives by pursuing relationships with those who see the world differently.
  • Great memories with family: Celebrating both parent’s 30th anniversaries this year, and visiting Ben’s parents in August. In October we had the opportunity to visit family in Oklahoma and also went to Sunriver with Jenna’s family.

During this year, we have also been so thankful for each of you, our friends & family who have rallied around us in the hard times and cheered us on in the good. We hope you know how much you have blessed us this year! May 2018 bring you peace, joy, and perseverance as we go further up & further in together.


Ben & Jenna


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Season’s Greetings

Another year, another Christmas letter! Merry Christmas from us both to all of our friends & family out there.

As I’m writing this, the snow is flurrying in the wind, soup is bubbling in the crock pot, and a cup of steaming tea sits by my elbow…life’s little blessings are so good. And yet this year we have also been blessed in big ways as well as small, in challenging and painful ways as well as joyful. Ben and I have been spending Advent reading through the daily prayers from The Divine Hours, and it’s been so profound to spend time praying towards the coming of Christ together, anticipating the echo of his second coming, which we all long for in this crazy life!

To highlight some of the big events in our lives this year:

  • Jenna has begun writing more for several online publications & blogs, expanding her “justice” interests from simply anti-trafficking work to many other areas. She has also joined the writing team at her church, helping develop women’s study curriculum.
  • Ben is still working at CIS Oregon and auditing fun classes at PSU on the side. His interests in urban development, politics, and social justice continue to grow as well.
  • We began a new adventure by “adopting” a refugee family from Iraq this July, along with a team of seven others from our church. It’s been eye-opening and a blessing, to say the least!
  • We traveled to Minnesota to be with Jenna’s side of the family after the passing of her grandfather this fall.
  • We traveled to Asia (specifically Sri Lanka & Indonesia) to visit some good friends (and eat a lot of delicious food!)
  • We’re continuing to learn what it means to love others & listen well, befriend the “other,” and spend ourselves on behalf of the needy.

In other news, it looks like we’ll be headed back to Europe in Spring 2017! Jenna will be assisting with the Shine Seminar this year, and Ben will be working remotely and being amazing support as always.  He’ll also be coordinating technology for the Mobile Ministry Forum’s 2017 conference in the Netherlands.

Our first few years of marriage, Ben and I used to joke that we could give ourselves slack, because we were simply “baby adults,” trying to figure out the world together. Now, however, we consider ourselves moving into the “toddler adult” stage–starting to form stronger opinions and wills of our own, yet constantly running up against our own limitations and inexperience. We’ve tried a lot of new things this year, and learned a lot along the way. We’ve also made a lot of mistakes, which I suppose is part of the process. I’m so thankful the grace of God is big enough to cover over it all and redeem it into part of His Story.

In the midst of a world that feels harsh & increasingly polarized, and the consistent desire we feel to be doing good & life-changing work, we keep coming back to 1 Corinthians 13:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 

And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love.

Merry Christmas, everyone! May you be blessed by the faithful love of our Lord, who is with us in the midst of our pain and our questions, and redeems both our sorrows and our joys for His Glory! We are so thankful for each of you!

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