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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Loving Our Neighbors and Planting a Garden

I spent hours Thursday morning shoveling out my driveway from 15" of snow.  After that, I had epic sledding time with my son.  I say epic, because he might as well have been climbing Everest as we walked back up the hill in snow almost to his waist.  Why?  Because I love him and I love my husband who was working from home.

I spent what felt like hours Thursday night tearing apart, cutting apart, and peeling apart all the little pieces of the Angry Birds Valentines my little guy picked out for his classmates.  He'll sign his name to every one of them all by himself.  There are 22 and he is only 5.  That's no small feat.  Why?  Because he loves his friends!  We even have gluten free Angry Birds fruit snacks to attach.  Why?  Because we love the little girl who happens to have Celiac disease and never want to leave her out.

When Jesus was asked to identify the two greatest commandments in all of the Law he answered simply:  Love God first, then love everyone else - just like you love yourself.

I don't know about you, but I love having some clean clothes to wear, good food to eat, and a safe place for my child.  Shouldn't I want at least those same things for others.  Last year, part of that laundry issue was taken care of when a water point for the Maubane Community in South Africa was fully funded in 12 HOURS!!  You can read about it here, at

Lisa-Jo has a deep passion for the people of her South African homeland, and some orphans in particular.  She also has a passion for those of us who are not "just a mom".  Sister, if you say you are just a mom, let me tell you you are so much more.  You are a world changer.  You save civilization from becoming utterly barbaric in under 20 years.  AMAZING!!!

So here's how we are going to our neighbors a world away.  We are going to raise $150,000 between Valentine's Day and Mother's Day by the grace of God Almighty.  I have a strong feeling this is His work anyway and we are being invited along for the ride.  You wouldn't want to miss that would you?

"This plan has been a year in the making and the goal is to raise $150,000 to fund the entire project between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day – because love is more than a date on the calendar, and it never leaves anyone out. And Mother’s Day is a 365 days a year adventure, always worth celebrating."

Phase 1: Community Vegetable Garden {watered by the water point you all built last fall} [FULLY FUNDED]
Phase 2: Community Kitchen and Welcome Center
Phase 3: Community Outreach Hall
Phase 4: 12 Classrooms
Phase 5: Playground  [FULLY FUNDED]

You can also purchase one of these beautiful vintage dictionary necklaces from Krafty Kash necklaces for $24 and $12 will go towards the project.  You can choose from FAMILY, BRAVE, or PRAY.

So let's get started.  I've already placed a handy little widget over there on the right for you to donate right now.  Let's do this thing and love, because it's more than a date on the calendar.

For the Five Minute Friday this week we have (for Phase 1):  GARDEN

Mary, Mary quiet contrary, How does your garden grow?  That's the first thing that pops to mind.  The second is that I don't have one and I want one.  sure, I have the land - but I'm not at the land to tend to it.  Where I am at - there's no space for a garden.  I grew up with a garden, while I didn't care for some of the work, I did love the rewards.

Gardening is a long-term thing, not a quick trip to the grocery store.  There are seeds and weeds to contend with - the creation and the curse all in one act.  There is the waiting, the withering, the fruit (or vegetable as the case may be).  Then the dying starts all over again.

There's a satisfaction that comes with growth.  We have it in ourselves and we nurture it in others.  It is gradual, but entirely significant.  I guess my garden really only grows when I water it.  I need to go find my watering can and get to work.

(Sorry you were subjected to that, I'll use the time of day as my excuse and nudge you one more time to go donate.)  Blessings!!

Linking up with so many lovely other heart-sisters (and a few brothers) here:
Five Minute Friday

Friday, February 7, 2014

Write – Five Minute Friday

Write, it’s one of those things that all of us do yet few of us claim or actually feel as if we do.  Sure I fling words around on paper and a computer screen, but do I ever reach eloquence or that deep place inside another.  Do I ever make someone catch their breath as tears start to flow unexpectedly?  How about that moment that causes one to stop, lay down the pages and think a thought that has never been there before?

I doubt that.

Doubt – it’s a powerful plague that stops us from all manner of creative and practical pursuits.  Doubts lead us to other scarier questions:  will I help?  Will I hurt?  Will I fail?

Writing is like that. If I don’t call it Writing – with that capital W, then it doesn’t matter nearly as much, does it?  Does it?

Oh, the bravery required to ignore the doubt, to pour out with abandon, and to know that the action, not the reaction, is what counts.  Only the action is under my control.  The reaction is from the outside and others and that is scary!

 Five Minute Friday

Linking up with other brave souls for Five Minute Friday.  You find out how to play along here.

Also celebrating other brave writers with 4 giveaways this week.  Start with this one.  The first two end TONIGHT.  J

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Birthday Surprise - a Giveaway

Today is the big day.  I feel weird about this one.  It’s a double double digit – 
4 4 
33 was a little strange, too.  However, then I was in a city I loved, working in a profession I loved and felt like I was thriving.  A lot has changed in the last 11 years, including my address 4 times and the number of mouths I feed on a daily basis.  Where does the time go?

To make this day extra special, I have a wonderful gift for you.  Just as I am surprised by how different my life has become over the last 11 years, motherhood has been its own surprise.  Surely you have guessed by now.

I have a copy of “Surprised by Motherhood” by Lisa-Jo Baker for one of you.  People!  This book is not even out yet.  It won’t be released until April 1 and I’m offering it to you today – again with the help of the generous folks at Dayspring.  You will receive the book as soon as it releases.

Don’t be jealous (okay, you can be a little jealous).  I have already read this amazing story of one of the dearest souls in my life right now.  I do not want to give a bit of it away.  Thing is, Lisa-Jo is so lavish with her heart and words that you’ve already been given sneak peeks if you have read her blog even once. 

There are moments we all nod our heads in agreement as she distills those moments that are common to all moms and strings them into a word necklace that goes perfectly with the faded jeans.  And then there are moments that take your breath away, fill your eyes to the rims with tears and cannot be imagined because they are so foreign.  There are also aches that sneak in when we see what we so desperately wanted, but never got.  But we celebrate each other, just like today.

That is Lisa-Jo – she is us, and only she is herself.  You know what?  We are each that glorious same distinctiveness.  We have this momlife, but our own words to tell our story.  This is her story.  I bet she’d like it if it gave you a bit of bravery to tell your own.  I know I certainly felt that bravery stir in my blood throughout.

Surprised by Motherhood will be one of those books that brings you closer to Lisa-Jo and closer to your own adventure.  You can pre-order it here right now. 

Congratulations friend on the impending birth of your fourth baby!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks bunches for using them.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Blue Bike and a New Passport {and a Giveaway}

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.  I was provided a copy of the book for review, but all opinions and actions are entirely my own. This post contains affiliate links, thanks for using them.  :)

Welcome to the third day of my birthday week.  Do I have a treat for you today!  It’s another book giveaway courtesy of my lovely friends at Dayspring.  I truly hope you have checked them out and shown them some love for their generous and encouraging spirit.

I first learned about Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, Notes From a Blue Bike, last October at the Allume conference.  There was a snazzy little fridge magnet in my swag bag with a quote from Virginia Woolf (anyone afraid yet?).  Little did I know the impact this book would have on me.  It may be the same for you.

This year I am trying to live with INTENTION.  It’s my One Word for the year and even up there in my header.  I lost count of how many times that word is used in this book.  That’s a good thing.  Whether it is where I live, how I eat, where I go, or how my son learns to read and write, I want to do it all with intention.  I want to care for those in my home and those across two oceans.  I’m not the only one with this desire and Tsh’s family is an excellent model for me.

I am fascinated by the thought of living in another culture and often wonder if I could actually do it.  There are so many insights into the daily minutia thoughtfully crafted as story throughout that make it seem doable.  House Hunters International never follows up the rental of a fifth floor walk-up with shots of the weekly grocery shopping or the laundry that must get done.

Notes from a Blue Bike is divided into 7 specific sections.  Five of the seven cover: Food, Work, Education, Travel, and Entertainment.  Of particular impact was the section on Travel.  I’ve never been a “big” traveler.  I’ve done lots of small travel in my life, but “big” has just not happened.  I have left the country.  Once.  We drove to Saint Sauveur, Quebec for vacation one summer from Connecticut.  If you can drive, it’s not quite a “big” trip.  However, they do speak French there and we do not.  It was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend the Laurentians in summer.

As I was reading about traveling with children I started thinking about what it would be like for us to travel internationally, or even cross-country with our little guy.  Oh, the hours in an airplane!  Then it hit me.  Our son LOVES airplanes!  He also regularly sits strapped in a car seat for 6 ½ hours once a month as we drive home to see family.  Before that it was a 12 hour drive from Chicago.  He’s actually done quite well on several flights.  What was my problem.  The food pickiness would be the only problem.  Maybe a lack of his comfort foods would be a good thing!  All this to say that I just filled out an application for his passport!!  Who knows?  We may hit the friendly skies to see where Finn, Holley and Mater were trapped inside Big Bentley!

Sometimes - most times - being intentional and simple take more effort.  That effort is rewarded.  I want this life to be a rewarding one.  Don’t you?  So I’m offering you a chance to win your own copy of Notes From a Blue Bike right here.  This is hot off the presses and just released yesterday.  If you don’t win, you will still want to get your own copy.  You will thank me later.  Trust me!

Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here.   

You’re Going to Be Okay: Review and Giveaway

It’s Day 2 of my birthday week and do I have a special gift for you!!  One of you will get an extra special gift; you will get this amazing book in your hands!

Today is another birthday of sorts.  Holley Gerth’s new book “You’re Going to Be Okay – Encouraging Truth Your Heart Needs to Hear, Especially on the Hard Days” releases today!  

Holley’s heart speaks loudly to you and her wisdom gently guides you to dispelling the lies we tell ourselves.  Through scripture and story we come to see that our emotions and circumstances are merely where we are, not who we are.

Through the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2) and the guarding of our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) we live lives that, though they are hard, are not self-sabotaging.  When we take every thought captive we are able to retrain our thought patterns into a new way of thinking that isn’t controlled by our instinctive emotions. 

You are going to want to have this on hand for when the road gets bumpy and the voice in your head is a little louder than the truth in your heart.  You may even want to have a few on hand to share with someone you know is going through a difficult season.  There are simple exercises throughout that will open your eyes to the tricks you didn’t even know you were falling for.  What a gift!

Now for the second gift.  The amazing lovelies at Dayspring are generously giving a copy of “You’re going to Be Okay” to one of you.  Simply enter below.   Seriously, though, you are going to want to buy at least one copy of this to have at the ready to give away.

What scripture most encourages you as truth when the voices in our head become loud?

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book for review.  However, all opinions are my own.  This title from Revell is available for purchase now at your favorite bookseller.  This post contains affiliate links.