top of page

ISSUE No. 36 | AUGUST 2O23


ISSUE No. 36 | August 2023


If you’re new to CULTIVARE we welcome you!  CULTIVARE is a monthly field guide for life and faith, brought to you by TEND.  Each month we explore a specific “field” – a topic or theme through which we seek to cultivate contemplation, engagement, and deeper understanding. Our guiding questions are:

What are you cultivating in your life?

What fruit do you want your life to bear?

Each issue of CULTIVARE is structured into three parts:

Cultivate:  Examines a specific “Field” or facet of life and offers questions to unearth and challenge our held perspective; along with concise kernels of truth which we call “Seeds.”


Irrigate:  Explores the ways we nurture our understanding, which varies from individual to individual. We offer six means of irrigation:  Art, Poetry, Profile, Film, Essay, and Books.


Germinate: Encourages practical ways to engage in becoming more fruitful and free in our lives.  

Our name, CULTIVARE, in Spanish means “I will cultivate.” We hope each issue of our field guide will encourage you to do just that – cultivate new thoughts, actions, faith, hope, and fruitful living.  We invite you to dig in and DIG DEEP!



For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.

(I Corinthians 3:9)

Our theme this month is SHELTER.  Throughout the Bible we encounter individuals who seek shelter – from the elements and from danger.  King David knew the importance of shelter more than most, as he often hid out in caves and among the rocks, when he knew his life was in danger.  Amidst David’s frequent sheltering-in-place, he would write songs declaring the peace and safety he felt in the shelter of God no matter the circumstances that surrounded him.  As David faced days of challenge and trouble, he remained confident that in staying close to God, he would find internal peace and external safety.


How are you experiencing shelter in this season?  What elements press in upon you and make you feel anxious or vulnerable?  What do you need shelter from?  What forms of shelter would be most helpful to you?  We hope this issue prompts you to contemplate how shelter functions and the various forms it takes in our lives and in our world.  We also hope this issue brings awareness of the myriad of individuals who often live without shelter and desperately need it. 


In this issue we spotlight Millard and Linda Fuller, the founders of Habitat for Humanity. We feature an original essay by Michael Shiaw Liaw where he shares his personal story of growing up in a globetrotting family that complicated his experience of shelter and home, and how God is now redeeming that complicated history through a ministry empowering housing-insecure young men.  We highlight a book we think is profoundly enlightening entitled Evicted by Matthew Desmond.  We’re not alone in our high view of the book.  In 2017 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction. We also feature a short film that spotlights a ministry in Austin, Texas that is gaining national attention for its promising model of providing shelter and cultivating community.


Whatever shelter you may need in this season, may you be encouraged by the following words of David (and others), who knew well the need for shelter amidst various dangers yet could confidently proclaim the safety and peace they experienced in the shelter of God. (DG)



Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  (Psalm 91:1 NLT)



For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;

He will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

He will set me high on a rock. (Psalm 27:5 NRS)


You hide them in the shelter of your wings, safe from human scheming.

You conceal them in a shelter, safe from accusing tongues. (Psalm 31:20 CEB)



Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless.

Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

(Isaiah 58:7 NLT)


And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests,

but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20 ESV)



A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life


The home is the wellspring of personhood. It is where our identity takes root and blossoms, where as children, we imagine, play, and question, and as adolescents, we retreat and try. As we grow older, we hope to settle into a place to raise a family or pursue work. When we try to understand ourselves, we often begin by considering the kind of home in which we were raised.  (Matthew Desmond) 


Do not ask the name of the person who asks for a bed for a night.  

He who is reluctant to give his name is the one who most needs shelter. (Victor Hugo) 


There is no feeling like coming home after danger. (Bear Grylls)


What do you actually need?  Food, clothing and shelter.  Everything else is entertainment. 

(Aloe Blacc)


Each evening, I ached for the shelter of my tent, for the smallest sense that something was shielding me from the entire rest of the world, keeping me safe not from danger, but from vastness itself. I loved the dim, clammy dark of my tent, the cozy familiarity of the way I arranged my few belongings all around me each night. (Cheryl Strayed)


It is in the shelter of each other that people live. (Irish proverb)


Freedom is meaningless if people cannot put food in their stomachs, if they can have no shelter, if illiteracy and disease continue to dog them. (Nelson Mandela) 


Everyone is in need of a shelter from the storm,
be the shelter,
be kind
. (Luffina Lourduraj) 


If you are tired, take shelter in silence! If you want to find the truth, take shelter in silence! If you're tired of people, if you missed yourself, if you just want to watch the world or if you want to heal your soul, take shelter in silence!  (Mehmet Murat ildan)


When God made up this world of ours,

He made it long and wide,

And meant that it should shelter all,

And none should be denied.

(Carrie Jacobs-Bond)




Artist of the Month

Doris Salcedo

In this article from My Modern Met, editor Sarah Barnes spotlights the work of Colombian artist Doris Salcedo, known for artwork addressing the themes of loss and displacement.  Salcedo creates large installations that incorporate furniture and domestic objects to evoke a sense of absence and the fragility of shelter. In her article Barnes writes:

“The phrase ‘putting down roots’ is likely familiar to anyone looking for a permanent place to call home. In deciding to root ourselves in a location, we have the benefit of building a community and flourishing; home is one thing you don’t have to search for anymore. It’s just one reason why being displaced from where you live is so traumatic.”


We invite you to read Barnes’ entire article on artist Doris Salcedo’s installation Uprooted by clicking the link: View Now



Shelter in Place

Tina Cane

Schools are shuttered     everything is canceled     and my body has become

an extension of my house     this shift is strange     but not entirely unfamiliar

the way a cardinal’s home     is a disordered stick bomb     just about captures

how I feel

        how the mother bird uses her shape     as a template to form her nest

shoving sticks together     in a fit of random engineering     randoming would be

the verb I guess     or jamming as it applies to me

                                                                                a steady state of hysteresis

in which applied pressure     changes the ensemble     in which the structure

bounces back     but not completely

                                                      I’ve been thinking

of ways to speak     to my children about fear     how to be adaptive

I want to tell them     about zebra finches     who are content in captivity

and who unlike robins     which favor mud as cement     make their nests

from anything they find     strips of paper or string     fibers from a coconut husk

I want to stress     that these elements the finches assemble     seem haphazardly

placed but behave collectively     how there’s a logic buried     deep in the mother

building her nest     which is a story of the nature of her body     as every child’s

first home     that we don’t struggle alone     as the architects of our days

that nature will continue     to amaze us      in ways we don’t expect



Millard & Linda Fuller

Co-Founders of Habitat for Humanity

I see life as both a gift and a responsibility.

My responsibility is to use what God has given me to help his people in need.

(Millard Fuller)

Millard Fuller co-founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976 along with his wife, Linda Fuller, and served in executive roles until 2005.  In 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—calling Habitat “…the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States.”

From humble beginnings in Alabama, Millard Fuller rose to become a young, self-made millionaire at age 29. While his business prospered, his health, integrity and marriage suffered. These crises prompted Fuller to re-evaluate his values and direction. His soul-searching led to reconciliation with his wife and to a renewal of his Christian commitment.

The Fullers then took a drastic step: they decided to sell all of their possessions, give the money to the poor and begin searching for a new focus for their lives. This search led them to Koinonia Farm, a Christian community located near Americus, Georgia, where people were looking for practical ways to apply Christ’s teachings.

With Koinonia founder Clarence Jordan and a few others, the Fullers initiated several partnership enterprises, including a ministry in housing. They built modest houses on a no-profit, no-interest basis. Homeowner families were expected to invest their own labor into the building of their home and the houses of other families. This reduced the cost of the house, increased the pride of ownership and fostered the development of positive relationships. Money for building was placed into a revolving fund, enabling the building of even more homes.

Testing the model

In 1973, Fuller moved to Africa with his wife and four children to test their housing model. The housing project, which they began in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was a success in that developing nation.

Upon his return to the United States in 1976, he met with a group of close associates and created a new independent organization: Habitat for Humanity International. From 1976 to 2005, the Fullers devoted their energies to the expansion of Habitat for Humanity throughout the world.

Millard Fuller died in February 2009 at the age of 74.  Linda Fuller remains active in supporting the ministry of housing and is often referred to as the “First Lady of Affordable Housing.”


*Excerpted from Habitat for Humanity website:



Each month we recommend films focused on our theme

Feature Film

The Public (2018)

In The Public an unusually bitter Arctic blast has made its way to downtown Cincinnati and the front doors of the public library where the action of the film takes place. The story revolves around the library patrons, many of whom are homeless, mentally ill and marginalized, as well as an exhausted and overwhelmed staff of librarians who often build emotional connections and have a sense of obligation to care for those regular patrons. At odds with library officials over how to handle the extreme weather event, the Patrons turn the building into a homeless shelter for the night by staging an "Occupy" sit in. What begins as an act of civil disobedience becomes a standoff with police and a rush-to-judgment media constantly speculating about what's really happening. This David versus Goliath story tackles some of our nation's most challenging issues, homelessness and mental illness and sets the drama inside one of the last bastions of democracy-in-action: your public library. Available on various streaming services.

Documentary Film

Lead Me Home (2021)

Lead Me Home, now streaming on Netflix, seeks to humanize the housing crisis. Rather than getting into the nitty gritty and taking a long, deep dive into this issue from a policy standpoint, the short documentary spends just 40 minutes capturing the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, as well as the dead-end conversations between those in power. It may not always be easy to watch, but it’s absolutely vital. Nominated for the 2022 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film. 

View Now

Short Film

A Man With a Mission

(5 minutes)

In an area around Austin, Texas, sits Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a community that could help provide an answer to chronic homelessness. Reporting for Today, NBC’s Harry Smith visits the village and learns why the plan has proven results.

View Now



TED Talk 

A Vision of Sustainable Housing for All of Humanity

(11 Minutes)

By 2100, the UN estimates that the world's population will grow to just over 11 billion people. Architect Vishaan Chakrabarti wants us to start thinking about how we'll house all these people -- and how new construction can fight climate change rather than make it worse. In this visionary talk, Chakrabarti proposes a "Goldilocks" solution to sustainable housing that exists in the sweet spot between single-family homes and towering skyscrapers.

View Now



Shelter, Home, and Community
By Michael Shiaw Liaw

Seven years is the longest I’ve lived in any one address. This finally happened when I was 37 years old, decades after Taipei, Fukuoka, Pennsylvania, Hong Kong, California. As a family, we globetrotted with our father, a graduate student in meat science and then a quality control manager for a McDonald’s meat supplier. In my twenties, on my own in Southern California, I moved fifteen times-- because I had to justify myself to immigration regularly, I knew my addresses and dates of residence by heart. I remember, too, the first furniture I didn’t dumpster dive for, a loveseat and a coffee table for half off at Salvation Army. I remember when I folded the cardboard moving boxes and, instead of storing them in the closet for the next inevitable move, recycled them. Even in my late 30’s, I had traveled with all my life’s belongings packed in two suitcases, a backpack, and a violin case. All this served to complicate my relationship to the concepts of shelter and home, and my answer to questions about where I was from. 


When I think of shelter, I think of danger and survival. Whether shelter takes the form of a 36 square foot steel-reinformed concrete tornado shed, or an underground nuclear bunker with water and air filtration systems, or, for the wealthy, a corporate tax-free Cayman Islands bank account, shelters serve to preserve life and our possessions. My father moved us from Taiwan to Japan for educational opportunities unavailable in Taiwan. Then to Pennsylvania when companies around the world, in response to the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1987 to return Hong Kong to China, began training Chinese speaking employees to enter the Chinese market through Hong Kong. If there was hope or excitement in our moves, I recall little of it, and I recall instead my father’s long absences, which I knew had to do with our welfare. The world was a place that my father’s absence protected us from.

Just as we wish of the circumstances that make temporary shelters necessary, they are meant to be temporary stopovers-- the unhoused become housed permanently, the abandoned kittens are adopted by loving homes as indoor cats, “even the sparrow has found a home.” Home, then, on the other hand, suggests safety and permanence, in hope if not also in reality. “Make yourself at home” we say to our guests. “Home away from home,” describes a place of happiness or comfort. It is “close to home” where our deepest feelings and affections reside. Jesus considered it a comfort to promise, “In my Father’s house are many rooms.” Is my home here, in Whittier, CA, everywhere, anywhere, or nowhere? My answers vary.


What happens, however, when a home becomes a shelter? As in what happened in 2020, when the whole world was instructed to “shelter in place,” making a shelter of our homes against the dangers of covid? Homes turned from residences into pods, shaped by an alertness to dangers, the severity and quantity of them as high as they were unknown. As the original instruction to shelter in place for 3 weeks stretched into three years--as was the case in Los Angeles County--our homes, which were now shelters, became the new normal. Shelters had turned into homes. 

Globally and locally, we see what happens when a shelter becomes a home. Refugee camps turn into settlements or permanent shelters. The unhoused on Skid Row of Los Angeles is now called a stable homeless population. An example closer to home and far less consequential, my Zanzibar plant has spent three years in the same pot; its pot-molded roots are suffocating themselves trying to outgrow the pot, and it’s dying because it can’t. During the pandemic, the waiting was made additionally difficult by lack of resource or vision for how to wait or how long to wait, turning stress (which isn’t inherently harmful) into toxic stress. What was supposed to be temporary was slowly becoming, it appeared, permanent. Hope without end can turn to despair.

The Hebrew and Christian Bible is at home with these tensions. God has placed eternity in human hearts, but God also says, “return to dust, you mortals.” The apostle Paul says that our perishable bodies will be clothed with the imperishable, mortal bodies with the immortal. Jesus leaves his followers in the world even as Paul looks to his citizenship in heaven. The Christian witness is that truly reliable shelter is in God’s hands even as the longed-for, permanent home is in the new heavens and the new earth to come. All the giants of faith listed in the Hebrew epistle lived in this tension, being sure of what was hoped for and certain of what was not seen.


Currently, I live these tensions at Orchard Community, a community I founded in 2019 that empowers housing-insecure young adult men to acquire lasting life skills toward successful adulthood. I could say that God planted the seed when I served in youth ministry at a local church and witnessed the youth growing up in unstable homes with insufficient parental support. I could also say, considering the arc of my story, that Orchard was God’s stay, a gift, to my itinerant, nomadic life. 

For many of our residents, their homes had become shelters: family becoming foster family, living out of a car, moving frequently and unpredictably due to circumstances or some guardian’s whims or mental health struggles (what happens when we aren’t at home in our own bodies? When we aren’t at home in our own minds?). At Orchard, we value that each resident be relationally rooted. Through safe, long-term housing for each resident in his own fully furnished room and through group dinners with other residents and with community members, we seek to restore a measure of home and stability, without which lasting change can be difficult. 

But Orchard isn’t meant to be forever. Orchard, though home, is temporary, is a shelter. The gift of time and safety is meant as relief to attend to one’s life, not as emergency, but gift. The household rules and programs are meant to teach skills and wisdom, portable and made one’s own. At Orchard, we seek, by uniquely tending to each resident’s strengths and struggles, needs, and goals, to empower each resident with lasting life skills. With a residency time limit and individualized program requirements, we hope to promote each resident’s growth and ownership to better prepare them for adulthood. 

In these ways, Orchard Community is both home and shelter, a tension which, as a Jesus-centered community, Orchard is at home in. While our residents need not be followers of Jesus, our desire is that each one tastes the assurance and hope that we have. 

How do you experience the tension of shelter and home in your life? How do you keep from the despair that the unpredictability of shelters can engender? How do you keep from the complacency that the comforts of homes can settle us into? How do you joyfully and hopefully engage your earthly life, which is both home and shelter, reliable and temporary, good and groaning? As I continue to make sense of my own transitory life, may God ever be my fortress, the only certain shelter, even as I follow the Son of Man who, unlike the birds and foxes, had no place to lay his head; even as I am led by the Holy Spirit who, like the wind, goes wherever he pleases and assures me of my heavenly citizenship.




Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme


By Matthew Desmond

It is hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need. 

Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. 

The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart. (Matthew Desmond)

In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.  Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize. 

View Now



By Claire Keegan


An international bestseller and one of The Times’ “Top 50 Novels Published in the 21st Century,” Claire Keegan’s piercing contemporary classic Foster is a heartbreaking story of childhood, loss, and love, now released as a standalone book for the first time ever in the US

It is a hot summer in rural Ireland. A child is taken by her father to live with relatives on a farm, not knowing when or if she will be brought home again. In the Kinsellas’ house, she finds an affection and warmth she has not known and slowly, in their care, begins to blossom. But there is something unspoken in this new household—where everything is so well tended to—and this summer must soon come to an end.

Winner of the prestigious Davy Byrnes Award and published in an abridged version in the New Yorker, this internationally bestselling contemporary classic is now available for the first time in the US in a full, standalone edition. A story of astonishing emotional depth, Foster showcases Claire Keegan’s great talent and secures her reputation as one of our most important storytellers.

View Now




Childrens Book

Andrew Henry’s Meadow

By Doris Burn


Andrew Henry excels at building inventions, but his creations annoy his family and outgrow his house; so one day he goes away to find a meadow where he can build a house of his own. One by one his friends from town find him, and he builds a custom home for each friend. After some time, the children's parents come in search of them. Everyone goes home, and Andrew's parents give him a place in the basement for his inventions.

This lighthearted fantasy appeals to the childhood delight of a secret hideout. Andrew Henry's generosity, creativity and skill are portrayed as qualities to be admired, and the parents' search for the missing children evokes a warm sense of community. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed, especially Andrew Henry's inventions. 

View Now



Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme


a.   What do you think of when you think of “shelter?”

b.   How have you viewed “shelter” in the various seasons of your life?

c.   Do you take shelter for granted?  If so, why? 

d.   Do you have extra room in your home that might provide shelter for someone in need?

e.   What steps might you take to help others find and secure shelter?



The Union Gospel Mission asked men living at the UGM Shelter if they wanted to participate in an essay contest.  Several were enthusiastic. The theme? Tell us what you wish people knew about homelessness. The submissions ranged from thought-provoking to eye-opening to downright humbling. Click here to read the contest winners: View Now



Millions of American families face eviction each year.  Just Shelter seeks to change that. 

Click here to learn more and to get involved:  View Now


4.    MUSIC VIDEO: SHELTER (Live at the Planetarium) by Vertical Worship

In the shelter of your presence, in the shadow of your wings, I am safe.

View Now


5.    PRAYER 


Dear God,

Watch over your children, especially those with no homes to return to at the end of long and weary days. Protect them from all harm and keep them from despair. Open the hearts and eyes of those of us with blessings to share. Unite our voices in a call for justice: So that no man need ever lay down for the night on a wooden park bench because he has no home; So that no woman need ever tuck her children into the backseat of her car because she has no home; So that no child need ever wonder, “Where will I feel safe?” because he has no home; So that all those who wander and all who are in need, find the shelter and the peace they seek.  Remind us, O God, that we cannot rest fully secure in our homes each night until all your children are, at last, home.


*Prayer by Andrea Goldstein

dig deeper


But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.

(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)


CULTIVARE is a ministry of TEND and is offered free to our subscribers.  We are grateful to our donors who help underwrite our costs.  If you would like to support the ongoing work of CULTIVARE, please consider us in your giving. All financial contributions to TEND

(a 501c3 ministry) for CULTIVARE are tax-deductible.  

Subscribe to CULTIVARE for free! 



Images used in order of appearance:

1.   FIELD:  The Littles and Me, Blanket Fort Family Night



2.  SEEDS:   Marta Kulesza, Marta in a Faraway Land 



3.  ART:   Doris Salcedo, “Uprooted,” 2020–2022. 804 dead trees and steel; 3000 x 650 x 500 cm. Installation view: Sharjah Biennial 15, Kalba Ice Factory, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2023.  (Photo: Juan Castro)


4.  POETRY:  Steve Niedorf, Canoe Bay Escape RV, Travel Wisconsin



5.   PROFILE:   Jay Janner, Austin American-Statesman


6.   FILM:  David Iliff, The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland


7.   ESSAY:  Kai Caemmerer, Unborn Cities, China


8.   BOOKS:  Dean Lewis, Rocinha favela near Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 


9.   DIG DEEPER:  Peter Bohi, Aescher Berggasthaus, Switzerland


10.   ROOTED:  Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico 

TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Elizabeth Bolsinger, Amy Drennan, Greg Ehlert, Bonnie Fearer, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Nick Kinnier, Andrew Massey, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Heather Shackelford, Jason Pearson (Design:



We welcome hearing your thoughts on this issue

and suggestions for future issues.

Email us at:

bottom of page