Thursday, May 9, 2013

happy birthday, judah!

here is judah's birthday video.  facebook took it down.  sorry that it's so small; i can't seem to change that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

macaroni necklaces and other things i avoid

       it has been so long since i've blogged, that i couldn't figure out how to write a new post.  blogger has changed its format and i was a bit lost.  i decided to post today, because of something i've been seeing on pinterest and in real life.
       with fall upon us and school back in session, mamas and teachers are looking for crafts to do with their kids.  pinterest boards are replete with cute ideas and eye-catching photographs, but i will never be the one to facilitate an art project that uses food as a medium.
these colors and shapes look so fun, but i cannot ignore the fact that it's food.  it's a precious commodity that way too many people in this world are lacking and i won't take it for granted by stringing it around my child's neck.
sometimes our children make these crafts to give as gifts.  i love the idea of giving gifts.  i love teaching giving to my child.  however, unless the food is actually for eating, we will have to find another project.

because we have grown up in abundance, this idea is rarely considered.  it's so common to string noodles and glue beans to paper, that we don't think twice.  but one day, not too long ago, i supervised such an art project (facilitated by others) and was asked by a woman in the room who struggled to put food before her family every night, "but can't you eat that?"  

oh the shame.

she was looking to me for an answer to this puzzle.  why would anyone give children food to make a necklace with?  especially when . . . it's food!

i didn't know what to say.  there was no response that would have been sufficient.  she saw plainly what i (what we) had missed: we were taking for granted that food comes to us in abundance.  because her experience was different.

she had never had so much food that she decided to decorate with it, and i have to say that she opened my eyes.  how insensitive of me.  i was so ashamed.

please understand, i am aware that by abstaining from making crafts out of food i am not saving anyone from hunger, malnutrition, or starvation.  i get that.  i am simply saying that i will not take food for granted as i did before.  and i will try to show respect for those who have less than i do, in this small way.

and while i'm at it, i can pray for others and send what i can to help.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

design on a dime

my daughter judah means the world to me. (as though you hadn't noticed.) she is my incredible blessing from the Lord and i can't imagine my life without her. i hope and pray that she knows the following things: that she is loved, valued, cherished, and that Jesus is Lord. it's not enough to simply desire these things, i have to plan for them. i show her that she is loved by listening to her, by spending time with her. i show her that she is cherished by not dismissing her as a child. by putting her near the top of my list every day and by putting up her pictures and artwork. likewise, i show her she is valued by making time to hear the ideas in her mind and (often) acting on them. i read to her and invest in her. and daily i tell her about Jesus, His love, His sacrifice and His offer of salvation.
but there's more. children are astute. they are intuitive. and if the words coming out of our mouths do not match up with our actions, they notice. if i tell judah that the Lord wants us to live and love sacrificially but don't model that, she'll see my hypocrisy. if i tell her we need to give to the poor (matt 19) but spend all my money on plastic toys from target to fill her already overstimulating room, the things i say fall flat. so you see, i had to be careful with how i designed her room because that is what's best for her and for me.
therefore, i re-designed this room on a dime because, well, i only have a dime. but more than that, i did so because i wanted to put action to my words. judah doesn't need another toy or stuffed animal to know she's loved. she needs me. and i firmly believe that the way i spend my money makes my heart transparent. so i didn't go overboard on spending in her room, because not only have her needs already been met, but because i'm modeling right behavior for her. commonly referred to as "the pink room", my parents set up this room and the one i live in as guest rooms. they run a veritable bed and breakfast here, and if you haven't been a recipient of their hospitality, get up here!
as you can see this room was pink before the re-deux. ;) you might also notice that this is an old picture, pre- new window installation. if you look closely, you'll notice that our new windows are larger than these and some of the artwork around the window frames has been diminished.
so, off my soapbox and on to the details of this oh-so-fun make-over! i searched pinterest for an evening, gathering ideas and then set immediately to work. first off i changed the layout to offer her more free space for playing. secondly, i emptied the closet (mom's summer clothes, the hand-me-downs that are still too big for jude, extra chair cushions, etc.). moving her into her own closet freed up a lot of space in the whole house. i found toys all over the place and i was able to move most of them into the closet. well, those toys that i kept. the rest are slated for the garage sale! whoo-hoo!
ahem. anyhow, i was ready to begin the fun part: decorating. i used this quilt for my color palette of turquoise, red, pink, white and yellow.
one of the first ideas was the old window frame with fabric in the panes. i found a fat quarter at "joanne's" for about $7 that was in the perfect colors. the window took a little cleaning, but it was something we had on hand, so i was pleased with that! putting effort into things for my child tells her she's valued, remember? :)
for that project i needed hot glue (on hand), molly bolts (had 'em), a drill(you bet) and some of those picture hanging things with teeth (also found in the garage) to go into the back of the window. done and done. so cute! and so cheap!
i bought a $3 oversized letter "j" and plastered it with fun scraps of paper i had on hand in the same colors. again, it took a little time, but less money. that came out pretty cute, right? and then i had to re-create a painting i found on pinterest with one of my most favorite verses on it (micah 6:8):
also on pinterest was a fun and colorful child's silhouette. since i'd already created one of those for my "line of judah" shop (oh yeah, in pink), i simply cut it down to size and stuck it in a matted frame i already had. the other picture was already framed in yellow (perfect) and the doll is from jamaica. i like to have little dark-skinned dolls around since judah doesn't have anyone else the same color as her in this house. (although, clearly, she's not this black!)
in the garage i came across an old tv cart. we took the wheels (casters?) off and voila! a bookshelf that not only fits in the closet, but also holds ALL of her books!
oh me, what am i to do with all the shelf space i now have in my room? :)
so my beloved daughter now has a custom-designed, big girl room for very minimal $$. she is excited, feeling important, and since we set so many things aside for the garage sale the lesson of passing things along was reiterated. mission: accomplished.

**oh, and i have artwork on the way from some incredible etsy sellers for the currently empty wall over her bed. preview those amazing pieces here, here, and here! i'm also hoping to purchase this one in the near future! thanks for taking the time to read this! **

Monday, August 8, 2011

st agnes

(agnes is pictured in pink)

my friend shanley founded a beautiful organization. it's called nakate and she employs 40 ugandan women from wherever she happens to be at any given moment. these women use discarded paper to make beads. they string these beads into stunning necklaces and those of us with disposable incomes get to dress up our everyday outfits and support ugandan women at the same time. brilliant, says i.

a vagabond by nature, shanley moves about every couple of months. while she might not have a bed to lie down in at night, she is never without her phone. shanley tweets and posts more than anyone i know, however i'd say roughly 83% of those tweets are informative updates in regards to her organization or some other way to help those in need. she truly wants to ease the burden of others.

this week, nakate (pronounced "NAH kuh tay") is partnering with an ingenious fundraising platform called the tipping bucket. this site promotes simple, grassroots fundraising by encouraging contributors to donate a dollar each. just one dollar. how easy is that? but here's the catch: nakate only has 1 week to meet their goal. if they don't, all the money goes back to the contributors and nakate doesn't earn a cent. their goal? $2000. this money will be used to ship the next order of jewelry from uganda to the US, to pay the women who did all the manual labor, and to pay agnes.

ah, agnes. at last we come to the point. you see, agnes is a ugandan missionary and i have the extreme privilege of helping her out this week. agnes oversees the nakate project in its entirety in uganda. she visits the women, finds out their needs, ministers to them, prays for them, and advocates for them. agnes was doing all of this free of charge until her husband lost his job. now we want to bless her in return. we are hoping to raise $300 for agnes, which would be her salary for two months. agnes and her husband felt called to live among the poorest of poor in their village and minister to them. let's do something wonderful for her, shall we? let's raise a mere $300 and send it to her.

the bible says that those who are loved by God are called saints (romans 1:7). it also says that we are supposed to "contribute to the needs of the saints" (romans 12:13).

instead of merely tipping her bucket, let's make sure it runs over! give here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

o give thanks

**note to readers: i originally wrote this post a few weeks ago. i planned to have it out by thanksgiving. clearly, that didn't happen.**

seeing as how we don't go around our table and talk about the things we're thankful for (with our extended family), i thought i might blog about them here.

i am so thankful.

so thankful.

Jesus paid the debt of my sin, which was death, for me.

i am thankful that my daughter survived her twisted-intestine hospitalizations and surgery.

so very very thankful.

i am filled with gratitude that countless friends including judah's dad and my sweet nicole survived the fatal earthquake of january 12.

i rejoice that all 26 children were miraculously rescued from a devastated haiti merely six days after the earthquake.

i am grateful for my mom and reg who jumped at the opportunity to plan a fundraiser to help our friends in haiti.

i am so thankful for all of those who sewed, pulled, dyed, baked, knit, printed, collected, drew, sang, played, photographed, donated and otherwise put together a fantastic and profitable fundraiser for "new life to the children" - our orphanage in haiti.

i am more than appreciative for my dad who willingly
sought out his friends and attempted to put a good work crew together to rebuild in haiti. i was so blessed that he jumped on that plane with me and spent a week sleeping on roughly poured concrete in the rain to help my friends in haiti.

i am ever grateful to my dearest brother who loves me unconditionally. who left his busy work/school/ministry schedule behind and came to sit at judah's bedside and let her play with his ipad.

i'm overwhelmed by parents who have taken me and my daughter in with open arms, clothed us, fed us, given us love and shelter these past few years. who drove through the night to literally hold me up while judah went into surgery and then again when she finally was moved into recovery.

i'm so so thankful for my amazing best friends emily and brendie who have stood by my side through every.single.moment of my past few years. they are actually aggressive in their acts of love for me and for judah. i truly have some of the greatest friends a girl could ever hope for.

so many of you (ashley and nate, christine, mat, janet, kristen, leilani, kaylene, erin, kellie . . .) came to see us in the hospital. came bearing gifts, came bearing smiles. came just to sit. and SO VERY MANY MORE of you called or sent cards and gifts. i was overwhelmed once again by the body of Christ. your love carried us through!

i'm thankful for those of you, my dear friends, who are scattered about the country but support me and love me from afar.

i'm thankful for our fireplace, our heater, our hot water heater.

i'm thankful for my bed and my electric blanket.

i'm trying not to take our non-leaking roof for granted.

of course there is too much for me to write out here, but i wanted to make a small list; it has been such a tremendous year.

praise Jesus!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

fun giveaways

is this a clever blog title or what? ni hao y'all? i love it!

they're doing giveaways; check 'em out!

Ni Hao Y'all

Monday, October 25, 2010

so this is Christ-mas?

question: how many of you think your child(ren) have too many toys? how often do you mutter to yourself as you pick up the living room that it’s gone too far? that we have too much? that it might just be possible that we have become more materialistic than we ever planned to be?

okay, so what are you doing about it? because it’s that time of year again. you know, that time when we go into a spending frenzy to get copious amounts of gifts for our family, friends, and even some acquaintances. oh yeah, i think it’s called “Christmastime”. hmmm. Christmas. i wonder if that means it is supposed to be about Christ and not gifts?

sometimes it feels like, as Christians, we fight so hard remind the world that this isn’t a holiday about santa, that we forget it’s not even a holiday about giving gifts. yes, the magi gave gifts to Jesus, but nowhere are we commanded to give everyone of our family members a gift on the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

to be clear, i don’t want to say that giving is bad. giving is loving. giving is modeled in Scripture. giving is Christ-like. but what are we giving, and why?

maybe this is the Christmas to make the change. maybe this is the time to start teaching our children compassion and empathy. maybe we need to stand up and say, “i’m going to give away more. i’m going to be a blessing to my neighbor. i’m going to be the ‘cheerful giver’ that the Lord says He loves and i’m going to teach my family to do the same.”

a man by the name of trent hamm wrote an article about 20 ways to donate to others even when you’re broke. it caught my eye because i’m a single mom who only works part-time, so i could really relate. the article can be found online here.

please take the time to read it because there are some fantastic ideas there. (thank you, shan, for that link!)

that article got me thinking. and since i know Christmas is coming and i know what we’re all programmed to do, i thought that i would put together a list of ways, not unlike mr. hamm, we can give to others. let’s decide as families this year that we’re going to forego the whole ‘gift exchange’ and give to those in need instead. here are some ideas:

*give to your local (church?) food pantry

*give a coat to a cold kid (

*give a Christmas tree to a soldier (

* give clean water to those without (

* give Christmas presents to children whose parent(s) are incarcerated (

* give a wish to a child with a terminal disease (

* give a Christmas meal, or clothing to those without (

* give food, water, and education (

* give shoes (

can you come up with some others? do you have an organization in mind that you would like to share with me?

since becoming employed, i’ve had the opportunity to sign up to sponsor a child’s education monthly through the organization i worked for in haiti. to me, it is a blessing to be able to give. i want to live on less so i can give away more. how about you?

what do you think? can this be the year that we make the change for our families? can we model selflessness and compassion for our children in this way? i know that it will be an adjustment for our children, but is that such a bad thing? because, as i read it, the bible says we are no longer to “conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” (romans 12:2)

if you haven't heard about "advent conspiracy" yet, get on board! if you haven't watched this video, DO IT. i'm telling you i've seen it plenty of times but i always get emotional just thinking about those people getting clean water! praise Jesus!