Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Not So Secret...Secret Garden

a secret garden

Sometimes you have friends whose company is just plain fun. 

And sometimes you have friends that you have walked through dark & difficult times with. 

Our friends Andrew and Sara fit both of those categories for Sam and I.

Over a decade ago, we volunteered at the same summer youth camp together. Now we live in the same city, go to the same church, each have a handful of kiddos...have laughed together, stayed up late at night playing board games together and have wept deeply together so much so that it hurts. 

All of those things have made our friendship stronger. 

I have also been watching this family closely, for years, as they live out community. The kind of community where you don't just invite someone over for a meal but invite a handful of people to live with you...LIVE with you! 

Break bread with you...see you at your highest moments and your lowest. 



It is something that I hope to write more about in the coming months. While we've never fully experienced community in that way, we have had someone living or staying in our home for much of our married life.

In fact, I would even say that I am who I am today because of those experiences. 

Having people live with you isn't neat and tidy. You don't get to clean everything up pretty and have plenty of advance notice to vacuum and dust before company comes over. But you say, this is me.

This is me allowing God to transform every part of me.

And you work at it earnestly. 

And you say, this is what it looks like in the process.

We will go deeper on that topic, sometime soon...I promise. (Sara writes beautifully about her journey, here.)

But today I wanted to take you on a tour through Andrew and Sara's community garden. 

I immediately wanted to call it a "secret garden" because it makes me think of the movie. But there is simply nothing secret about it. 

Their home is always open to others...always

It is one of the most welcoming places on the planet. 

A few years ago they moved into a beautiful, old Victorian home in Minneapolis. It is the kind of house where you go from one parlor to the next and they have the most glorious vintage Christmas parties with cut out paper snowflakes and strands of popcorn and dried cranberries around the tree and...

I digress. 

The city skyline is literally just a hop, skip and jump away.


In fact, the home that they moved into is directly next door to their good friends, Jon and Bliss. Almost immediately after moving in the two families decided to open up their connecting yards to enlarge each family's outdoor space and create one larger community space. 

Brilliant, I say.

Together they have created an outdoor space that is simply enchanting, welcoming and a place to gather. 

Would you like to see it?!?

Come on in...


First of all, you should know that Sara will tell you that she isn't a professional gardener, but she certainly has me fooled. It is a joy to see someone come alive by doing what they love...spending hours in the dirt while soaking up huge amounts of vitamin D!

Sara loves making things beautiful.


Recently I spent one morning snapping pictures of her yard and then we sat and talked. We talked about life and kids and I enjoyed every minute, I almost don't know where to start you first.

But perhaps I should start with the bees.


Jon and Bliss, next door, have two children and a swarm of bees. 

In fact, part of their backyard is sectioned off with a special enclosed space for the bees to call home. There is something so fascinating to me about these bees. Perhaps it is because of their beautiful haven that Bliss created that just draws me in, or that bee keeping is such a mystery to me, or that honey is simply delightful. 

I just had a conversation with some friends about bees. I began it by explaining that I would probably ask a silly question...but I really know nothing about bees: "Do they actually live through a MN winter?"


I could literally stand at the gate of the bee yard for hours gazing in and watching...

just watching.


In fact, while I was watching the bees move around there were butterflies coming and going and lily pads to glance at.

This...this is a Minnesota summer to perfection. 


Back at the front of the house you'll find a path that leads you directly to the front porch.


And the front porch is filled with chairs to rest on. 

Not just one or two but enough chairs for a gathering. 


Not too long ago a few of us ladies met Sara on her front porch after work was done & kids were tucked in bed.

We sat there chatting about life as the cars and people strolled by. It was something that I definitely want to do again. Talking about life with other women is so good for the soul. It is about hearing each other's stories and experiences and learning and growing...together. 

Moving back to the backyard you'll find all sorts of places to stop and rest a while.

A hammock...


A swing...


There is even space for lots of friends to gather and eat.


These two connected homes take having a weekly potluck to a whole different level!


As I first pulled up to Sara's house she was cutting flowers straight out of her garden to place in the mason jars.

Straight out of her garden...if I did that all of my flowers would be gone.

Like, totally gone. :-)


While they have beauty around every corner, it is their heart for sharing their space with others that makes my heart skip a beat. It isn't just about creating a beautiful space, sitting alone in it and watching the clouds roll by.

For them, it is about inviting others in.


Just to name a few invitations...they have had weddings, numerous birthday parties, family gatherings, community potlucks, harvest parties, vintage Christmas parties and even invited kids from the neighborhood to join them for some food & fun one week not too long ago.


And since their family has continued to grow and expand, so has their vision for having a fun outdoor space...not just for their kids but for their community.

The people that come and share life with them.


A pirate ship...how cool is that?!?

It kind of makes me dream of being seven again.


Whether you want to climb a pirate ship, be mesmerized by bees, swing in the hammock, sit in the shade, eat yummy food from a weekly potluck, roast some marshmallows or share a cup of tea with a cherished friend...they have you covered. :-)


And it's not just about finding such a beautiful and rare outdoor space in the city...


But about the company that you get to share it with, when you do.


I believe that life is meant to be real, celebrated, shared, & enjoyed.

And this home does those four things well...really, really well.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Purpose On The Journey

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to use my attention to detail for something good. You see, I love looking at the process and the journey and helping others who are also on the journey. I would sit on my bedroom carpet at home with a white board and marker and teach my little brothers everything I knew.

Then along the way I realized that I really wanted to be a mom. When my dream of being a mom became a reality I soaked up moments of teaching my babies and toddlers how to walk and talk and learn how to share. During the process I knew that I personally needed things to be in order to thrive, so I intentionally began turning our house into a home and started organizing & bringing beauty to one space at a time.


At times it felt like a never ending list of projects. New systems and processes were always being created. But then in time projects became less and less and contentment became more and more. And I began to dream about my next adventure. What would it be?

If I could list out my hopes...

I would really like to help others,

and give generously.

I would really like to have a flexible schedule,

and do something I love.

I would enjoy using my organization & attention to detail for something good,

and also teach my kids about hard work.

I would really like to build relationships,

and keep learning.

I love to travel,

and enjoy being home.

I want to study the word, and share with other women how God's truth and love not only affects our hearts but every part of our lives too.

I want to encourage others,

and I would really like to help others believe that their dreams are possible.

I want to use my time wisely,

and I would love to pay off our mortgage and be completely debt free.

I guess you could say that the past few years have been a discovery process of figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. 

And the discovery has certainly been made! :-)  



Last year I shared how I was stepping out of my comfort zone and beginning to speak at women's gatherings. It has been an honor to do that more and more over this past year. I was recently at a camp about to speak to a group of women when a friend asked me if I was nervous. I told her that I don't get as nervous as I used to, but that I'll find myself sitting in that relaxed setting...gathered with precious women...sipping coffee. Then someone is about to introduce the speaker and I find myself wondering, "I wonder who the speaker is and if she will be any good?" :-) THEN I get a little nervous. I look forward to more moments of sharing my heart and having conversations with women around the world who are influencing their home and community for Jesus one day at a time!

This past December I also began to teach essential oil classes. I never imagined how many people would be interested in learning about natural forms of healthcare. Now, I teach one class a month at a local community center and then other classes throughout the month in friends' homes. Teaching classes has literally created a snowball effect and I now run a full business out of my home as an essential oil educator. Now I once again have a whiteboard in my house that I use to plan and organize with. :-) And all of those episodes that I watched of Shark Tank & The Profit have taught me that I really am an entrepreneur at heart!



It is a joy and absolute privilege to have this little space on the web to encourage and inspire others with. I really enjoy sharing the little lessons that I am learning along the way. I am excited to continue blogging about parenting, adoption, organization and decor, while also pouring myself into teaching and parenting. I have yet to figure out how to create more time in a day to blog about the things I'm learning along the way, but I do have more posts planned for the future! Currently sharing little nuggets through Instagram has been one of my favorite things to do. In fact, you can find my secret for holding a weekly potluck in your home right here

Over the course of the next four months I will be traveling the country teaching essential oil classes. We will be taking the crew on the road for part of August before school starts (I'm already brainstorming the least amount of clothes that will be needed for everyone on this journey!) If you are interested in learning more about natural healthcare, and have never attended an essential oil class or had someone share with you the benefits of essential oils...email me to find out which states I will be visiting. 

And if you are looking for a women's speaker for your next event, I am currently looking at events taking place in 2016.

Looking forward to seeing you and learning with you along the journey!


Monday, June 15, 2015

A Friendship To Be Remembered

Three years ago, on June 15th, 2012, my dear friend Preethi died of cancer. She was only 36 and left behind her husband, three precious little boys, and numerous friends and family who all loved her deeply. It is still hard to believe that she is gone. The world seems to continue moving forward, yet on this anniversary of her homecoming, I am strongly reminded of a precious woman that the world is missing.


Preethi taught me many things about friendship, about loving life, loving your family, and above everything else, loving God.

I've been thinking a lot about friendship these days and I was going to write a little bit about that. Then, as I was reflecting back, I began reading the words that I shared at Preethi's funeral. It seemed like those words, and capturing a glimpse of Preethi's life and how she loved, was the most appropriate thing to share on this day.

Here are those words...

I remember clearly the first time that I met Preethi. Our husbands, Sam and Adam had already met and talked a few times and then Adam and Preethi invited us over for a meal at their home. We were warmly greeted at the door by that amazing smile that so many of you know. The wonderful smell of Indian food filled the entire house. From that one evening, over two years ago, began one of the dearest friendships that I have known. I know that many of you sitting here know exactly what I mean when I say that Preethi was able to touch so many hearts so deeply and in such a short amount of time.


I knew that Preethi was an amazing mom right from the start of our friendship. At the time her boys were 1, 2 & 3. She would take them on all kinds of adventures. They would go down to the Mall of America to go on the amusement rides, to the Children’s Science Museum, the Eagles Nest, numerous visits to the splash pad and parks, and uncountable amounts of picnics and play dates in the back yard.

It was a joy and a memorable experience to recount the numerous play dates that occurred at Preethi’s house. Upon arriving at her house you would here, “Come on in!” as she would be rushing to the door to greet you. Hi Sarah girl or Hi Jenny girl or Hi Shelli girl…we were all her girls or some other nickname that she might call you by and there was always usually somebody new there to meet!
I remember that she always smelled so wonderful and her house was so welcoming. She would take your jacket from you and give you a big hug. You could barely get your kids in the door and she would be helping them get settled as well. She would offer you some dark coffee mixed with some flavored creamer. If you had a baby with you she would insist on holding them for you so that you could sit and relax. She would say that she wasn’t going to make anything special for lunch but her “nothing special” always looked like my “gourmet” and you never went away hungry. 


Once everyone that came over that day would be settled we would sit down and Preethi would begin talking about Jesus…about how she was learning so much through this process about trusting him…about a new verse that she was reading that really meant a lot to her. There were a few other things that always came up in conversation too. Adam’s name was mentioned every time. Whether she was beaming about the new purse that he had given her or she was telling about their fun weekend adventure away. She always lit up when mentioning Adam and was so proud of Him. Her other favorite thing that she would talk about or should I say favorite three things…was Julian, Zachary & Micah. There was always a fun story to share. About how Julian was reading at such a young age, or Zachary wanting to snuggle, or Micah’s flourishing personality.
I’ve had a hard time coming to grips that Preethi is really gone. Even while she battled what we knew was a super difficult battle with cancer the reality of God’s strength in her life made it seem so unreal. With the passing months her tests would come back worse and yet she still remained the same looking so joyful and well. She was always giving Glory to God for the way that he was working in her life and boy was it evident. 
I know that Preethi completely trusted God. 
She trusted him to heal her so that her life would be long and full with lots of time with her family. But she also trusted God that if his plan was for her to be up in heaven early then the God that had worked so clearly in her life to love, care and transform her would also fully take care of Adam and the boys here on earth. 
I don’t know many people that would trust that greatly in either circumstance. 
My prayer is that as God cares for Adam and the boys that He would use all of us whose Preethi’s life touched so deeply to surround this family for many, many years to come. That we won’t forget the impact that Preethi had on this world and instead would clearly remember it and that it would change us for eternity. If I had to express the life that Preethi passionately portrayed in five sentences this is what I would say…
Preethi loved everyone and treated them all the same.
Preethi’s smile was contagious, her passion and joy were always overflowing.
Preethi loved making people feel extra special and loved to feel extra special herself.
Preethi loved her family deeply and knew how to have fun and enjoy every moment with them.
Preethi loved God with all of her heart…not just part of it…ALL of it!
I want to always remember my dear friend Preethi and how she loved God and people passionately! 
However, I have one more significant reason as well as to why I want to always remember her. I am hoping that in the years to come I will be asked by one of her boys, just like many of you will be asked as well… “Did you know my mom? Can you tell me what she was like?” “Why yes, yes I certainly can. She was one of the most remarkable people that I ever knew…let me tell you some stories about why…”




Thursday, May 28, 2015

7 Reasons For Making The Same Menu Every Week This Summer!

I was thinking about this summer and my hopes for it. 

I am hoping for simple & laid back with LOTS of sunshine. Sam and I will both be working (I'll update you more on that soon), the kids will be out of school, and living in Minnesota we kind of get crazy excited when the weather starts warming up and we can roam the great outdoors again. 

I want to frequent the community pool often...grill out with friends, figure out how in the world one gardens (still tilling the ground to get things planted in a new plot) and watch the kids play for endless amounts of time. (Where every night should be a bath night because they had THAT much fun playing in the dirt outside!)


What I don't want is to be in a panic every few hours wondering what in the world I am going to feed this hungry crew for lunch and dinner. 

So it got me thinking and I thought..."what if we had the same weekly menu all summer long?!?" 

There would be an end date of course...the end of August

It could be kind of like an experiment. 

Hmmm....

And that is when I decided to go for it! 

You'll never know unless you try, right?

So without further ado. 

Here are...

7 reasons for making the same menu every week this summer

In My Opinion, We Have Too Many Choices Anyway: I've noticed that in others countries people eat the same food all of the time. Have you noticed that? Beans & Rice...Rice & Beans, yummy curry cooked various ways. Why in America do we really need THAT many choices?!?

Simple, Simple, Simple: By making the same meals, on the same days of the week, over the course of the same three months...I don't have to brainstorm new dinner ideas, create a new menu every week or be asked, "what's for dinner?" a bunch of times. :-) Yes kids, it's Monday night...pork roast it is! I can keep veggies, sides and salad on hand to add to the main dishes but for the most part everything else stays the same!


Kids Complain Less: You know how you serve a particular meal and you just know that one of your kids in particular is going to complain about that meal...no matter how many times you have told them that having a happy (and thankful!) heart is more important than whether they like or don't like the food. Well, generally as moms, I think when we have the choice, we generally pick meals that we know won't get many complaints. It goes along with that whole...pick your battles thing. So I thought I'd be strategic with this. I got everyone in the family involved. I made the idea of having the same menu every week sound like the most EXCITING THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED! And I had the kids (and Sam) help pick out the meals so that everyone agreed (AGREED! I believe in miraclesssss!) In fact, up until this point we have had one repeat meal every Wednesday night...Rice & Beans. I've often thought that the kids would be sick of it by now but it is literally their FAVORITE thing. They squeal when they see me get the beans ready to soak the night before and I think quite honestly that they like the whole...we know what to expect. thing. One of my neighbors has the impression that my beans come straight out of heaven because of how much my kids rave about them...I tell you, they do not. I always find it quite strange how excited they get about them actually.

Less Expensive: Feeding a family of seven on a regular basis is going to add up any way you slice it. However, I know that there are days where the fridge is bare or I just don't feel like cooking (mainly because I haven't figured out what's for dinner yet and it is 5pm and everything is frozen) and in those moments we will usually visit our good friend Little Caesars or go out to eat. I do really enjoy going out to eat when it is a special treat...a celebration, a restaurant where kids eat free (AMEN!), etc. However, even if we swing into a fast food restaurant and buy food in bulk to split and waters for everyone...the bill still comes to over $30 easily and all I can think of is that I could have served steak and potatoes at home for that price if I had only planned right!

Guests!: The summer is a great time to gather with friends (ok, ANY time of the year is!) Whether it means putting more rice & beans on the night before or making two crock pots of chili instead of one...any of these recipes can be adapted or doubled to serve more people...especially when my kitchen is stocked with large amounts of the same ingredients already....which brings me to point six. :-)

Grocery Shopping Will Be A Breeze: (Click here to read my past thoughts on grocery shopping.) I'll still swing into the grocery store at least once or twice a week to grab fresh fruits and veggies (until that garden kicks in) but I can load up ahead of time on the main food that I will need. For instance, buy a pork roast in bulk at Sam's Club and bring it home to cut into smaller portions and freeze. I can switch up the snacks & treats that we keep at home but for the most part I'll know exactly what I need when I go to the store...and exactly what I don't need.


Mom Is Less Stressed: I've been noticing that when I remove the guilt, stop thinking that I "should" be doing something and just simply be me...things go a whole lot easier. And can I tell you a secret? It is a whole lot more enjoyable too! I'm looking forward to making memories, maybe even playing scrabble, roasting marshmallows around the fire and NOT worrying about what is for dinner!


I'm pretty excited for this experiment and our summer adventure to begin! 

Want to join in on the fun? 

Use the hashtag #samemenuallsummer 
to share meals your cooking up frequently 
and the fun things you are doing 
this summer because of it!

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Shift Happening

As I sit here the house is still. 

In this rare moment it is completely silent. 

Our older four are at school and our youngest is with Sam running some errands. I almost don't know how to think in this silence. Distractions pull at me from every direction. I think of how the soap dispenser in the bathroom needs to be filled or how we need to call and schedule an oil change for the mini-van or how badly our lawn needs to be mowed...but the rain hasn't stopped yet so there isn't much I can do about that last one.

Yet the more I live the more I realize that there will always be distractions. 

Currently I would just like to focus on writing a blog post. It has, after all, been weeks since I posted last. Yet in the weeks leading up to this moment my thoughts haven't seemed clear, so not writing seemed best. 

I've felt tension from within as I debate back and forth some thoughts that I have been struggling with. Then, after attending a conference in Chicago, I came home a bit rocked. There was a speaker at the conference who I had never heard before. He spoke with a deep passion that overflowed out of his soul. 

All I could think of was: I want that.

He had tears in his eyes as he talked about the simple truth of the Gospel and about how much he was in love with Jesus. He was so in love with Jesus because his life had been transformed ten years ago. And since that transformation he has spent hours and hours and HOURS in the word, praying, and on his face before God. 

I know, I know...I am a mom. How can I spend hours reading the Bible, praying and on my face before God? Yet I've found hours and hours to scroll through facebook, read the news, check out Instagram and watch my favorite tv shows. I wouldn't say any of those things are bad, not at all. But it is how I've felt for months that has me questioning how I spend certain moments of my day. 

You see, I'm constantly comparing myself to others. I see tragedy after tragedy on facebook and feel as though sadness is consuming me. I naturally see the problems more easily than I see the silver lining. I post a picture on Instagram giving you a glimpse into my world and find that I check back often to see how many "hearts" it has received. In the past I have always posted from the heart yet let the amount of comments or lack there of determine in my heart how successful my life is.


That has got to stop.

Ya'll our identity does not come from how many people heart or don't heart our life! Our identity comes from being a son or daughter of God!

I've decided to take commenting off of the blog. It's one of those..."it's not you, it's me" problems. I deeply want to encourage you with what is on my heart, share a simple idea, talk about my mistakes even. Sometimes that means I will still post an organizing tip or trick or a new wall that I've painted. But I want this blog to be about the journey. Not about how many people read it, heart it, pin it, or like it. I don't want to seek personal gain, fame or acceptance. I simply want to point you to the one who has captured my heart and display for the world to see what living an authentic, vulnerable, joyful life at home (as a wife, mom, friend and daughter of God) looks like.

It's not perfect, but I promise you there will be passion.

And perhaps this is going against the norm. Perhaps I won't fit into any "blog categories," yet I'm finally ok with that because I just want to be me and I am SO ready for a shift. 

I am so ready to experience more of the overflowing joy in my own life that comes when I spend time soaking in the presence of the one who knew me before I was even born...the one who accepted me right from the very start.

It was also high time I took facebook off of my phone and it might just have been the best thing I did all year. Now I can choose pockets of time to hop online on my computer (UPstairs in my office) instead of scrolling on my phone (in my pocket) every time there was a lull or a brief second in between tasks.

When we returned from the conference, Sam and I started getting up two hours before the kids to read the Bible, worship and pray. Which means I really have to be intentional about getting to bed at a decent hour. I'm totally one of those people that looks at the clock once I crawl into bed and does the math to be certain I am getting at least 8 hours of sleep...it doesn't always happen, but I aim for it!

I NEED sleep.

It is my desire to let the truth of God's word fill me. To have the truth transform every ounce of me. To live a passionate life on fire for God so that everything else that I do and say pours out of that.

I want to find rest on a daily basis and not struggle through each day waiting for the next vacation.

I have no idea what it will fully look like but I am ready...so, so ready.

Let the shift begin!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Hardest Ten Days Of My Parenting Career

Recently Sam went out of the country on a ten day mission trip. He grew up in Mexico and it had been on his heart for a long time to go back . So when the opportunity came for him to lead a team of adults down there for a short term trip, we both knew he should go.

Inevitably this created a missions trip for me too...holding down the fort and caring for five children while daddy was gone.

The kids were also on Spring Break.

Now before you think, "I don't know how she does it?" Let me explain a few things.

There are some key words in those last few sentences that should have stood out to me WAY more than they originally did. However, I put way too much confidence in my own abilities. Three years into our transition as a family of seven and the kids are getting bigger...things are much more routine...no problem (wait, who am I kidding?!?)

Words that should have stood out to me more:

daddy gone

ten days 

five children

SPRING BREAK

In true mommy guilt fashion I had convinced myself that it would be just fine if I focused 100% on my children. I've got this. I've got a plan. I can so do this.

Spoiler Alert: 

I so DID NOT HAVE THIS!

In fact, it has taken me a pretty long time to recover.

I've been silent on the blog and I've tried to take some time to gather my thoughts.

You see, prior to the trip I decided to clear my schedule, take some time off from blogging, house projects, essential oil consults...this would be a great time to focus solely on my kids.

Five days in and I texted Sam telling him that I think I discovered that five days was my max for being alone with the kids. A bit comical I should say, since there were still five days left of his trip.

However, I realized up to that point I had been heavily relying on my own abilities as a mom. My systems, my organization, my ability to be calm and rational...things that in the past seemed to help things run more smoothly at home. 

However, in these circumstance, well... 

It was constant...24/7, kids coming to my bed in the middle of the night, cleaning up bodily fluids, being the constant referee, having five kids ask me a question at once and expecting me to answer them all, five kids giving their opinions on what we should or shouldn't do, eat or not eat, "Can you turn the radio down, mom?"...two seconds later another child asks, "Can you turn the radio up, mom?"

The words cycling through my head the entire time was...this is IMPOSSIBLE! 

I am literally going to go crazy...no, I HAVE gone crazy!

I love my kids...put me in a locked room with each of them one at a time and it is like a dream come true. My favorite people...one on one quality time...I am in heaven!

Being in charge of all five of them for ten days with no school...I literally felt broken.

There were moments that I laughed from the impossible task of it all. And then there were moments that I realized how much of a detail person I am. I want to address every concern, find justice in every argument, make sure consequence are fair and that kids are having fun. 

And can I just be honest, I would also like to be the perfect mom, make no mistakes, be 100% present, patient in all things and so loving that my kids cannot find any faults in their dear mom.

Ha!

What I found?

I CANNOT do it.

I kept telling myself over and over, "I CANNOT DO IT ALL!"

It was the very last day that I broke. 

"God, I surrender." 

I whispered as tears rolled down my cheeks.

"God, I need you more."

And I realized that without having the pressure turned up, I had been coasting along for months on my own abilities.

It was that very day that I discovered something. 

The view out of my kitchen window will always look the same until I'm suddenly looking for something different. 


It was that day that I discovered that having a constant reminder of where my strength comes from is what I needed most. 

It was that day that I discovered that taking my Bible in one hand and a dry erase marker in the other, suddenly gave me the power to change my perspective.

I can't do it all.

But HE can.

He is always with us.

God, is always with us.

But if we think we have it all under control or have "our" systems in place...we forget to look for the one who has all of the strength that we need.


My perspective might be cloudy, there may be too many water and dirt marks on my window to see things clearly (life is never going to be perfect), but this is the place that I am constantly looking.

Gazing out the window.

And what better place than this...than to put a constant reminder up of where my true strength comes from.

These are the words that carried me through...


He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. 

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:29-21

Today the only "tip" I have for you is to lay down your own abilities at doing this whole mom thing the way that you think it should be.

Then go grab the closest dry erase marker and your Bible and write whatever truth you need to be reminded of most right up there on your cloudy kitchen window.

In the coming days you will still have to look for it.

You may have to be standing directly in front of the window to see it.

But the next time your standing there, doing the dishes and the tears are rolling down at the impossible job before you. That truth will carry you through.

"He gives strength to the weary..."

What truth do you need to be reminded of today?


Monday, March 23, 2015

How I Feed My Starving Children

Have you ever thought, "I want to help others, but how?" 

I certainly have.

how i feed my starving children

Yet I find more times than not, it comes way more naturally for me to focus on my own family's needs. It is almost effortless for me to roam Target filling my cart with things that my family needs (ok, and things we don't need too.)

However, then I find that I spend a lot of time at home organizing all of the stuff. You know what I mean...all of THE STUFF.

Simple, I long for simple. 

But it doesn't just happen. I have to intentionally work towards simple. I have to make choices for our family based on simple. I have to choose to not buy another thing that we really don't need and instead...

Well, here is the story of what happened recently.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Two of our family's values are gratitude & generosity. (Sam and I sat down a few years ago and narrowed down our family's core values to seven things that we wanted our kids' childhoods to be marked by. Things that they would leave our house after they have grown knowing were REALLY important to our family.)

Does that mean that I have the most grateful kids on the planet? No!

Does that mean we have a perfect family that holds to these core values all of the time? No!

It simply means that while we are doing life together as a family, Sam and I are going to do our best to teach our kids (and remind ourselves!) that being joyful, thankful, patient, respectful, generous, compassionate & responsible are all really important to our family.

How does that play out in real life you ask, well...I'll give you one recent example.

You see, I feed five kids three meals a day on a regular basis. I often hear...

"I'm starving."

"I don't like that."

"What's for dinner?"

My kids make statements every day based on their needs and their wants. 

I get it... 

However, I often tell them,

"There are kids all over the world who don't have enough food to eat."

Or, "Do you know what the word "starving" actually means?"

and then I think...

How do I connect the dots for my kids?

How do I create a culture in our house where my kids are thankful for their food?

How can we help feed the hungry?

How can we do small things with great love?

And then a friend invited me to come pack meals at Feed My Starving Children for her birthday celebration. Melissa wanted to gather friends together to see how many boxes of food could be packed in just a few short hours together.

Her idea was genius! 

So we gathered, we wore hair nets, we learned how the packing process worked, we all picked a duty (I helped seal bags and managed to somehow not seal my fingers in the process), they played party music (because I'm happy...), we sang, we cheered, we tallied each box and by the end all of Melissa's friends worked together to pack 22 boxes! 

That was enough food to provide four thousand, seven hundred and fifty two meals! 

4,752!!!

We are totally planning a family trip to go back there...soon!

While I was at FMSC I also saw a t-shirt with a Mother Teresa quote on it that I had never heard before. It summed up everything I had been feeling but couldn't put the words together to say.

feed my starving children

I foresee some brainstorming happening of how to get this quote in my house, on a wall...or ANYWHERE!

FMSC is based out of Minnesota but they have MobilePack events that go all over the United States. They also have this t-shirt available online with a donation of $50. That donation covers the cost of one box of food...enough food to provide 216 meals!

Maybe you can gather your tribe to celebrate a birthday, take your book club on an outing or grab your neighbors and go pack meals.  If you can't get to a packing event, maybe your family could save some money in a jar to donate towards buying the food that is packed. All of the food is provided by donations. 

live simply so that others may simply live

We also have some dear friends, Justin & Sarah who work with a ministry, Master's Heart, to provide food security to the many orphaned children of Mozambique who are struggling to survive. Their ministry is the real deal and so are they! To get your family involved with helping to provide food for one orphaned child you can go here.

Suddenly the question is no longer...how can I help? 

But...

How many kids can our family provide a meal for today? 

#smallthingswithgreatlove

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