Is a House in the Hood on Your Bucket List? (Part 2)

If you met Liza, you might think she’s an “ordinary” twenty-something girl. She works as a web developer by day and savors coffee and LIVE music by night. But if you spent some time with her, you’d quickly realize she’s not so ordinary. Yesterday we talked about Liza’s surprising bucket list addition: living in the hood. Once you’ve read part 1, catch the rest of her story here.

. . . I knew it was time to go live with these people and make God’s love real to them. All that was left to do was find a “hood.”

I started looking right where I lived, and the name “Keller Park Church” kept coming up. So on a cold Sunday in February, I drove to the west side of South Bend, Indiana, and slipped into the back of a small church sanctuary. I immediately noticed the people there—all ages, classes, and colors. There was something different about this place.

After the service, I briefly spoke to a woman who loves Jesus and pours her life out for the kids in Keller Park. In the course of conversation, she said:

Liza, we were right where you are three years ago. We wanted Jesus to be more than just the dessert [on a comfy, self-sufficient life]. We wanted Him to be the whole meal. So we sold almost everything and moved into an 800-square-foot house.

She told stories of buying one kiddie pool, then two, then three to host all the kids in the summer. She talked about tutoring, youth group, Bible studies, and doing life with your neighbors.

I started swinging by the neighborhood to look at the people that lived there (creeper!), pray, and ask God if I was supposed to be involved. A love for the people was developing, and the area started to feel like home. I told God I would pursue living here and expect Him to redirect if this was the wrong way to go.

He directed all right.

Signpost #1: My Parents Say . . .

I knew it was time to involve my parents. A few weeks later, I called Dad and said, “Is Mom around? You may want to put this on speakerphone.” They’re semi-used to me announcing radical, ridiculous, and passionate ideas, but still . . . I know they get nervous when I want to talk to both of them at the same time.

If you want to be truly filled, set your wants on nothing less than God Himself.

God had brought me to a place of wanting to completely honor them in this process. I was totally prepared for them to say what any loving parent would be tempted to say, “No. It’s too dangerous.”

I told them everything. In one breath. Then I stopped. There was a few seconds of silence.

Then Dad said, “We think you should do it. We don’t really have any concerns at all.”

“Liza, the Christian life isn’t about being safe,” Mom added.

“Yeah, in fact, do they need more house-parents?”

I didn’t know what to say! Their full support of what I’m doing frees me in incredible ways. Picture the Kentucky Derby, when the horses spring from the chutes. That was me. I knew then that I was on the right track, and I could run. But I didn’t quite know which lane I should be in yet.

Signpost #2: My Friends Offer Me . . .

On March 16, a group of friends were gathered in a living room. With coffee in hand, we were telling stories of how we were seeing God working in and around us.

A friend’s husband shared how God had been challenging him to use his resources to build God’s kingdom here on earth. He wanted to build as much kingdom here as possible, so we all dreamed together about ways that could happen.

Later I shared, “I’d just love to live in a big house in the hood where lots of people could find Jesus. A place where we could house people that needed a safe place and have a dozen kids around the table every night and play soccer in the backyard.”

We all rejoiced in the different things God was doing and went our separate ways. The next day, I got a text. It was my friend’s husband. “Could you show me around this neighborhood?” As we drove around the neighborhood, he said, “We want to equip you to build the kingdom of God here. We want to buy you a house. Pick one out.”

What?!? Buy a house?! I have never been so humbled or in awe of the Body of Christ coming together and everyone getting serious about what God has called them to do.

That’s when I realized, God is serious about this. He means business in this neighborhood, and I better get serious about it, too. It’s time to stop dipping my toe in the water to see if it’s cold. Of course it’s cold. Jump in anyway. Because He is worthy.

This doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all. I am in awe of a God who weaves His purposes and our surrendered desires together so perfectly. In turn, it’s only appropriate to fall on our knees in worship and give Him all the scraps of our lives.

I feel like a kid who just got a pony for my birthday. I’ve dreamed of it, but never quite expected it.

cannot believe we get to do this. And it’s not the stuff; it’s God Himself and His heart and sending us out as His personal ambassadors and involving us in His grand plan.

Caring about what He cares about is blessed freedom from yourself and caring so much about things that don’t pay up on their promises for fulfillment and happiness. If you want to be truly filled, set your wants on nothing less than God Himself.

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food [the profuseness of spiritual joy]” (Isa. 55:2).

(Hey, girls. Paula here.) Did you catch what Liza said?

Caring about what God cares about is blessed freedom from yourself and caring so much about things that don’t pay up on their promises for fulfillment and happiness.

That’s why I shared Liza’s story with you—to spark your imagination for how God might multiply your life. Yes, yours! Oh, I know you feel ordinary. But God’s always used “little” people to do great big things as they rely on His mighty power.

God made you for so much more than snagging that cute guy’s attention. It doesn’t mean you’ll write a book or live in the “hood”—God has a unique plan just for you!

How can you begin to bless others today with the talents He’s given you?

About Author

Paula Marsteller no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her two young sons and seeking to practice "radically ordinary hospitality." She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in Central New York. You can catch her writing on

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