The Proud Parent Of….

SDSMTGoing off to college is a major life change. I don’t really remember being filled with fear over it…but I am sure I was.

I attended a college in my hometown my first year. There was some safety in that. I knew that I could go home and do my laundry and not have to use the machines at school. I knew how to get around town and I still had my part time job that I had in high school. Sure the idea of going from building to building was scary and the classes would be hard, but I loved the community that I felt in my “small” school.

I thought that I would be there for the next 4 years.

But at some point in my first year it was evident that I needed/wanted to switch my major and I had to change colleges to do so. I felt like a failure...I had all these plans for so long and now I was doing something different. Who could be proud of that?!

Dominic also made a change after his first year. He attended the school that Isaac is at today…it wasn’t for him and after his freshman year he changed too. That is how we met, at our new college, carrying the baggage that in our own ways we had “failed”…

Perceptions like that can cling to a person. Whether they are appropriate or not…they can shape how we think and view ourselves.

When Dominic started Law School there were these window clings that had the name of the school on them. I told him to buy one that first year…I was really proud of him….it was like a bragging right to have that on your car.

But he said he wouldn’t buy one until he graduated…he needed to believe that he could do it first, needed to prove it to himself and others. After he graduated you can bet we bought the cling.

As we dropped off Isaac this past week there was a place for parents to pick up a bunch of information, and at that table was a window cling. Proud parent of SDSM&T.

I grabbed 2 and when we got home last night I put one on my computer cover. I am a proud parent of a South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Student.

Tech is a HARD school. They do their very best to weed out the students that can’t hack their programs in the first year. Isaac has some terribly hard classes, Trig, Calc and some Finite math for computer science class. I don’t even know what having classes like that would be like. Well I do…it would mean complete and utter failure for someone that isn’t math minded like myself.

He is going to have to work hard. It will not be easy, that is a guarantee. He may love it and he may decide like we did that he wants to do something else. And if he does I will be proud of that too.

I want to live my life embracing the here and now. Right now my oldest just started at one of the hardest tech schools, and yes I am proud. He doesn’t have to graduate for me to be proud…I already am.

Moving in to a dorm with strangers, leaving your family and the routine you have come to know for the past 18 years…it is all really hard changes. There were lots of kids that we saw that looked terrified. I am not kidding….they looked scared out of their mind.

As a parent we should be proud of our kids for taking these next steps.

I know that Isaac won’t do everything perfectly. There will be hard times and likely some failures. He will have tough choices to make and we will see his character develop through it all. He doesn’t have to have it all together for me to be proud of who he is. He doesn’t have to prove it to me that he can do it.

I already know he can.

Whatever career path he decides he wants to pursue, I know he will succeed. It will be something he is passionate about and he will work hard to do his best. I have already seen that in him, and I know it will continue as he gets older.

Parents these times are hard on us…especially us mama’s that are emotionally “gifted”. I will miss talking with Isaac every day in person. Miss hearing about his day…I don’t want to bombard him with text messages so I can hear all about how it is going. He will probably not tell me everything just so I don’t worry. :)

So I am going to be focused on praying for my son…for all the kids there at Tech. Praying that they would start to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. That they would find their classes and make new friends. I will pray that they will stand strong in their convictions and be an example to others. And I will pray that they know how proud of them we are as parents.

I will be Isaac’s biggest cheerleader. Through the good and the bad. Through the tough choices and even the wrong decisions. It is my privilege as his mother to cover him in prayer and cheer him on this new path he is on.

Proud? Absolutely, 100%…no matter what.

All the things I want to say…

Sunset IsaacI made a quick trip to Walmart this evening to pick up a few last things on my “sending Isaac to college” list. It is the eve of the eve of our adventure to college and my mama heart aches at the reality of it all.

I cried through the entire worship portion of church yesterday…something I was clearly NOT prepared for as the ugly cry was starting and I couldn’t find a kleenex to save my life. It was awesome. Something about singing about God’s amazing love for us and seeing a dear friend singing on the worship team who is leaving on her own adventure this next week…and standing next to my son, it was too much.

The tears are coming quite a bit these past few days, and I am sick on top of it so it is all around good times.

I found myself in the baby aisle tonight, oddly enough buying pull ups for one who will be in our home for 14 more years and a new towel for the one we are preparing to leave us.

It didn’t seem so long ago that I found myself making late night runs to Walmart to buy a new paci because Isaac’s was lost once again…how is it possible that the time has gone so fast?

As I was leaving the store I was feeling a bit verklempt and I walked out to see the most beautiful sunset before me.

Oddly enough I make many trips at this time of night and for a brief moment I get to experience God’s full splendor in creation itself.

The clouds were tipped in pink and the sky was a brilliant orange, contrasted to the dark clouds that were behind me…a storm that had recently passed through.

Oh how I marvel in the beauty after the storm.

The sky represents a promise to me. A promise that God is always with us….and He CAN make something beautiful out of even our darkest storms. I just have to trust that. Oh may I always remember Lord.

As a mother I honestly want to protect my oldest from any storm.

I want him to learn from my mistakes so he doesn’t have to make any of his own. I pray that his journey would be easier than mine….but if it were, would he experience the majesty that is the sunset after the storm?

In my darkest moments I haven’t always believed that I would see daylight again. And at times I believed that God couldn’t redeem my past.

But He has and He will…

So as I prepare to close this chapter of parenting and enter a new one with Isaac I wanted to share a few things here.

I am an introvert through and through, and while I am a woman with ALL THE FEELINGS, I don’t always express them well. Especially out loud and in person. Thankfully God knew this about me and gifted me with an ability to more comfortably share the cries of my heart behind the safety of a computer screen.

So first Isaac let me say how much I love you.

I know I don’t and haven’t said it enough in person and I am sorry for that. I hope that you know and always know that I love you. You have always been a gift to me. I thank God that he allowed me the blessing of being your mom. How did I ever get to be so lucky?!

And Isaac we are so incredibly proud of you.

Not only are you an amazing brother but you are a hard worker. Someone that can be trusted, dependable and funny. You bring laughter to our home and your presence will be missed by the entire family.

You are smart and talented.

You can take apart just about anything and make it new again. You aren’t afraid to try something new, to push your thinking outside of the box…it is no wonder you are pursuing engineering.

I am so excited to see where God will take you.

I know this transition won’t be easy for you, but I know you will be ok. You have a resilience in your bones and as difficult as it was to move before you started high school..I believe it has prepared you even better for this next phase of your life.

There will be trials. Life won’t always turn out like you hoped or imagined.

My prayer during these times would be that you would hold onto your faith, trust God with the big and the small things….He is with you and will be with you every step of the way. Even in those times you may feel abandoned…He IS there. Trust me on this one…it is a lesson I have learned time and time again.

The last 18+ years have been an honor. 

While this change makes me sad it also makes me so excited for you. There are bigger and better things in front of you. Chase those dreams you have, do the scary stuff, take risks (acceptable, legal ones) 😉 and don’t let fear tell you that you can’t do something.

You are well prepared for this moment Isaac, I am confident in that. We all stumble, face failures and struggle with feelings of doubt…but always remember that you are right where God wants and needs you. Be that light to others, and make a difference.

And while I joke that you are never coming home again I hope that you want to visit us soon. There will always be a place for you here, even if your brothers take over your room next week! :) You were the best thing that happened to your dad and I almost 19 years ago and we are cheering you on as you start college.

Oh and a couple other “administrative” items before I let you go…please text me once a week so I know you are still alive! Know that I will always be here for you. I may force myself not to check up on you but it isn’t because I don’t want to know how you are…I don’t want to be that annoying mom. :) Do your laundry before you run out of shirts and pants. Trust me everyone will appreciate that one. And just go and do your best. We don’t expect perfection…clearly we aren’t capable of it ourselves…just work hard like you always have and you will succeed.

Thank you Isaac for being such a gift. I love you.

Mom

Photo Credit: vj_flicks

Walking in Forgiveness

Path to forgivenessOh friends how I miss this space at times.

I miss writing here, miss sharing my heart…my summer has been filled with fun and not-so-fun moments, and with preparations to send our oldest to college in 15 days, seriously where has the time gone?!

I am not sure that my heart is ready for the change.

And isn’t that the way with so many things? Life, reality, comes at us and we have to deal with it regardless if we are prepared or not.

And as a girl who doesn’t like change, or things out of her control…well this can be a bit of a tough road to go down!

I don’t know why God felt that 2015 needed to be the year of all the lessons. I mean really, one good one would have been plenty for this girl…but it has been chock full of learning and growing.

Most days I probably grumble more than I should.

Many days I focus on the pain of the stretching and not the beauty of new growth.

But every once and awhile I get it…it is a light bulb moment and change happens, and that is what I want to share with you today.

I have vaguely shared that for many years Dominic and I struggled in our marriage. I haven’t shared lots of details, but married life didn’t start out easy.

We jumped right in as young adults into a big world of expectations and we both got burned in the process.

On our wedding day, as my dad gave me away, he told us both to never, never, never give up.

It made me cry and I thought that it was beautiful.

And then I got angry at Dominic for something and wanted to run.

I am not sure where that all comes from really…I need some good therapy to figure it all out. But when things get hard and uncomfortable – I want out!

Very early on I established a pattern in our marriage. It was a damaging and awful path to be on and I walked in it for years. Divorce was a swear word and I used it with a vengeance.

Make me angry, I threaten you with everything that should be secure….family, home, our relationship. It didn’t matter if I really meant it or not. I got mad and opened my mouth and out spewed unmatched ugliness.

Can I just pause and say here that this is NOT where I thought I was headed with this post when I started writing it…that being said I am going to keep walking this out as I feel God is maybe giving me the words for someone who needs to hear them.

In my Hello Mornings study we have been reading through James and yikes can I say that it is a tough one to read when there are so many things that I can personally relate to.

So to lay it all out there…me mad = many people hurt by my actions/words.

I used my words as a weapon time and time again. And Dominic received the worst of it.

And I always felt justified. The conversation in my head always went something like this…

“Well if he wouldn’t have done/said xyz…then I wouldn’t have gotten angry.”

So in my mind it was never my fault. (I see the error in my thinking now, but this has been a struggle for YEARS and it caused so much hurt.)

I became an expert at the silent treatment. Even when forgiveness was asked, and I “granted” it (even though I should have been doing the asking) I would drag out my punishment for days being silent and cold.

Sounds like a wonderful, inviting home doesn’t it?!

We went around and around in this cycle for way too long.

Yes several years ago there was some significant restoration and healing…but bad behaviors are hard to break, especially for someone like me. And walking in true forgiveness wasn’t something that I had mastered.

I forgave with conditions.

I never let go, never took full responsibility for my part….I have been walking in chains and so desperately want freedom.

A few weeks ago Dominic and I had a really great conversation. It was one of those unplanned, deep talks that led to a frank discussion about forgiveness.

Dominic used himself as an example saying things like “at times I do this and say I forgive you, but I don’t really and I hold a grudge….” Everything that he said was something that I should and could say as well. We both do it and it isn’t healthy.

And then he said “We have got to say we forgive one another and then walk forward like we actually do.”

No more I forgive you but….

I forgive you but I am going to remain guarded and distant.

I forgive you but I am going to remember this for next time.

I forgive you but only after I have punished you for a time first.

We have walked that path for longer than we ever should have.

And so that night we committed to walking a new path.

A path of true forgiveness.

It has been a little silly around our house as a result.

Arguing and hurt feelings happen. We are flawed human beings…so now we say “I forgive you” immediately.

Forgiveness is flying around like crazy. I will admit it has become a bit of a joke (sometimes he forgives me for forgiving him), but we are practicing it every day. :)

There will be a time where one of us hurts the other. It is inevitable. And as a woman with all.the.feelings., well Dominic just has to look at me sideways on the wrong day and I could get all twisted up.

But if it happens, I will choose to walk in forgiveness.

I will say it and then act like I mean it.

I will not hold a grudge.

I will not threaten our marriage.

I will not give the silent treatment.

He deserves better than that and so do I!

We have a choice to walk in freedom on the path of forgiveness. (<====Click to Tweet)

There is a lightness in my step as a result.

I still have LOTS of issues that I need to deal with, my anger first and foremost at the front…but I have confidence that there will be freedom there as well.

As my dear friend Marlene told me “God has given me the key to freedom…I just need to choose to walk in that freedom.”

So I am marching ahead. Want to join me?!

Joining the beautiful writers over at Jennifer’s place #TellHisStory

Photo Credit: agnivohneb

A Lesson in Obedience

Gabriel's baptism 1

God has been using my children to teach me some pretty big lessons recently and today was no different.

It was a special Sunday at church. We have had church in the park the past 2 Sundays, but this week was also baptism Sunday.

For the past 2 years we have been talking to Gabriel about getting baptized. He has accepted Jesus in his heart, he knows God sent His Son to die for his sins…but the idea of standing up in front of people and talking about that was scary for him.

We have a service like that every year…and every year Gabriel has told us that he wanted to wait one more year.

As a parent this was hard for me. I wanted him to make the choice, wanted him to walk in faith and not fear…but I also wanted it to be HIS choice…not mine.

So a few weeks ago we talked again and he said that he wanted to do it when he turned 12. So one more year wait it was.

And then this morning he came downstairs and blew me away with his words.

He said he woke up and felt like God was telling him that he needed to do it today. He didn’t need to be afraid and Gabriel asked if I thought that our pastor would let him do it even though it was short notice.

He said that he had been nervous before but he felt like God was giving him the courage to stand up.

He was choosing to demonstrate his faith instead of letting his fear hold him back.

Gabriel's baptism 2And so we went to church and found Pastor Ray and asked if Gabriel could be baptized and he said yes. In front of a pretty large crowd of people Gabriel shared that he believed in God and wanted to be an example for his family and the church.

I couldn’t have been more proud.

I could tell he was nervous when he started talking…he said something like “God turns my good days into bad” 😉 and then realized that he mixed it up and corrected himself. But then he shared his belief in God sending Jesus to earth to die for our sins…

It is pretty amazing to hear your 11 year old articulate the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Gabriel's baptism 3And so with his profession of faith he was baptized.

Dominic helped and I took pictures and a video.

The water was cold and it is a little shocking to the body to go down under the water and come back up. There is a big breath that everyone takes upon rising again.

A breath of new life.

Gabriel's baptism 5Hope is found in faith in Jesus.

We will continue to mess up and make mistakes.

Just because we believe in God it doesn’t mean we won’t have problems, or mess up and say the wrong thing…that is why we need the gift of grace.

But we have the promise of new life, new breath because of our faith. An opportunity to breathe deeply and fully in the One who created us.

Today my brave son felt a calling from God to be obedient.

He later told me that he didn’t think it was going to happen today…but after this morning he knew he needed to do it and he was glad he did.

Our family didn’t get to attend because we weren’t prepared in advance that this would occur today…but it is ok.

It was a beautiful, sweet moment with our 2nd born, and thanks to the technology of phones and You Tube we can share those precious moments with others.

And like our pastor said…it is a day we will remember forever.

If you would like to watch the video I am including it here at the bottom of the post. For email subscribers click here to watch.

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The Revealing – a GSD Post

Road

Oh friends what a journey I have been on this year. I have said it before but please DO NOT chose the word DEPEND as your One Word if you don’t want a year full of stretching! 😉

I feel like I have been on a bit of a roller coaster lately, but you know it is ok. I do know that God is working out some beauty in all of this and am trusting that He will be the One on which I can depend through it all.

He is faithful. He is steady.

When I am not, I can trust that He is.

I discovered this even more when I was on a family vacation in early June and I am sharing some of the newest things God has been revealing to me about myself over at God-sized Dreams today. Will you join me there?!

The New Face of Brave

Elijah pool 1Elijah has been taking swimming lessons every Tuesday and Thursday evening for a few weeks. The first night we got there they had him in level 3. We aren’t a huge “spend the summer at the pool” family…so he has been in a big pool maybe 3 times.

He didn’t know a thing about it.

They thankfully moved him into the Level 1 class after the first night and it has been fun to watch him swim. He works hard, and even when it is tough, he smiles and keeps going.

He is one brave boy, my Elijah.

Tonight the teacher asked at the beginning of the class who wanted to jump off the diving board at the end of class.

He initially didn’t raise his hand and I was secretly relieved.

I had visions of a drowning accident, what if he let go of his noodle…what if she didn’t catch him. The water is 13ft deep and he doesn’t know how to swim yet without assistance.

Quite honestly, the whole idea seemed ludicrous to me…what was she thinking?! 

At the end of the class they headed towards the diving pool….and there was Elijah right in line with the rest of the kids.

Was he going to go through with it?

Elijah Pool 2He walked out on that board and put his toes on the very edge just like his teacher said. She was treading water ready to catch them as they jumped.

And then he just went for it.

Elijah Pool 3

What I loved most was that he didn’t timidly jump in, he leaped.

He trusted the noodle float, he trusted his swim instructor and he went for it.

My brave boy Elijah is such an example to me. He shows me how to be brave.

Elijah Pool 4

So often I won’t even step up to the ladder.

I know that I am going to be scared looking down at the unknown. I feel unsure of the next step and so I quit before I start.

And taking that leap? Heavens no. I am not brave like that…

But my boy reminded me today that sometimes we make a choice to do something even when we feel afraid.

Elijah told me later that he initially didn’t want to do it, but then he decided to be brave and try.

We all have that choice don’t we?

When we are facing a big decision, a job change, an unknown situation of any kind…we have a choice.

We can make the choice to stay stuck in fear, or we can choose to jump anyways.

Elijah trusted he would be ok, he choice faith over fear and became the new face of brave for me.

What a gift to watch it all unfold before my eyes.

Next time I am faced with something that induces fear, or worry or doubt I will remember my boy who lept into the scary and came out a little bit stronger from the experience.

The Spoon

Spoon 2

A few weeks ago I picked Karlena up from daycare and as we were driving home I noticed that she had a toy in her hand. When I asked her what it was she tried to hide it behind her back.

A pretty clear sign to me that she had taken something that wasn’t hers.

When we got home I told her to show me what she had. It was a small toy horse. She LOVES horses right now and it was obviously something she didn’t already have at home. But I knew it wasn’t hers.

She reluctantly admitted to me that it was Markel’s. When I asked her how she got it outside without either of us seeing it she said she hid it in her shorts! In the waist band to be exact! Can you even believe that?!

We had a long conversation about taking things that aren’t ours and the next morning we brought it back to daycare and she told Markel the truth and apologized for taking something she shouldn’t have.

This isn’t the first time that one of my kids have done something like this. Last year it was Elijah and some shiny treasures from preschool. I might have cause to be worried but the reality is don’t we all covet what we don’t have?

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I don’t remember how old I was but I do remember the tea set.

We lived on a hill and there was a family that lived down the hill from us that had 2 girls just a few years younger than me. Sarah and I became friends and often played together. Her dad also had a red corvette and every once and awhile he would take us out in the “cool car” to McDonalds for an ice cream cone. That was always such a treat!

At some point Sarah got a brand new, huge white tea set for a birthday or Christmas present.

Oh how I wanted that tea set. I loved playing with it and wanted to have one at my house. But I didn’t. It wasn’t enough that Sarah was generous in sharing it with me during our play time…no I needed to have one myself.

And when I couldn’t have it, I didn’t want her to have one either.

Why is it that we do that?

When someone has something nice/fun/new why do we feel jealousy, why do we covet what they have? Why can’t we be genuinely happy for others and their blessings?!

I didn’t want Sarah to have something so wonderful, so one day when we were playing I stole a tea spoon. I hid it in my pocket and took it home with me. Stuffed under pairs of socks, it sat like a dirty little secret in my drawer.

It isn’t much fun to play with one spoon.

It really isn’t fun to play with one spoon that is a constant reminder of stealing…of a lie. I would take out that spoon and feel guilty. I knew that I should give it back. That Sarah wanted her full tea set together….that it wasn’t mine and I didn’t have any right to take it.

I honestly can’t remember if I returned the spoon or not. I hope that I did.

I have a feeling that I would have been the only likely “suspect” and maybe the truth came out…but if I didn’t, I want to apologize Sarah for taking that spoon!

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I was thinking about that story this morning as I was laying in bed. I am not sure what brought it to mind really but I find that as memories like this happen, I process them best at the keyboard.

I have been pretty silent here lately. There are some things that I do plan on writing about, but I am still working through them. Some ugly, icky parts of myself, and my past that God is healing and restoring.

It isn’t fun. Let’s be honest I am the type of person that would really like to skate around the difficult. I don’t like wading through the muck of my life. I want a quick fix to any and all faults/problems and I am finding again and again that God isn’t going to give me restoration on my time.

I am learning to savor the journey even if it means it is a slow, arduous process. (<====Click to Tweet)

If the end result is freedom from the things that are bondage in my life…well it is worth it.

One of the things that I want to find freedom in is this need to want what I don’t have.

It has been with me since I was young and started with the smallest of items, a tea spoon. It grew as I aged and became jealous of friends that had better, name brand clothes than I did. Maybe someone was smarter or prettier than I was. The cheerleader and the homecoming queen….I was never “enough”

As a wife and a mother I see all that you can do, and feel inadequate in my own family. I start to wish that I could go on the trips, or have the super romantic relationship with my husband that I see in other couples. Or the most well behaved children in church. 😉

It is never enough. What I have is just never enough. But the reality is that it IS enough.

I have more than I could ever hope or imagine. SO many blessings in my life. No it isn’t always easy…but they are blessings none the less.

And I don’t want to paint a picture of someone that I am not.

I don’t have it all together. My children will mess up, but heck so do I – ALL.THE.TIME! I am not the perfect women/mother/spouse and it is ok! Thank God for grace.

A part of this walking into freedom is recognizing that I am who God made me. Yes there are flaws and imperfections but there are beautiful things too.

I don’t know if jealousy or envy is something you have struggled with, but if it is you are not alone! Let’s do something together and stop comparing, stop coveting, and start giving thanks for the very place that God has each of us.

It is going to look different for you than it is me. Let’s embrace the difference, there is beauty in that! And let’s start walking out of bondage and into freedom.

One spoon at a time.

Photo Credit: partycja

Changing Lives One at a Time – #FTFClub

FTF 4I was 21 when I found out that I was unexpectedly pregnant.

A junior in college, and scared out of my mind. I was fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who loved me and my now husband who wanted to start a family with me. It wasn’t how I had always planned it would be, and while I was terrified of what the future would hold…I was not alone.

I didn’t have a full understanding of grace those first few years, in reality it is something that alludes me at times, even today. But I have seen God’s grace in my life over and over. I see it in the eyes of my children. I know that life isn’t always “fair” and doesn’t always turn out the way we had hoped or imagined…but there is mercy in these moments and I am so very grateful.

I can be a pretty selfish person, my woes and troubles keep me spinning and I start to believe that I can’t handle it all. And then I hear stories of women, girls even, that are faced with the same fear and uncertainty that I was…except their situation is far more bleak…

Meet Pauline

Pauline

“Pauline was only 15 years old when she became pregnant through force. When she moved into Rehema House in Kenya, the maternity home funded by Mercy House, she was desperate and hopeless. In just a few short years, her life has been transformed through the Gospel. Her son,
Melvin, is thriving. Recently, Pauline graduated from the residence program and moved back home. She attends vocational beauty school 5 days a week, while Melvin is in school because of sponsorship. Every Saturday, she goes into the heart of her slum and teaches more than 20
mothers how to make beautiful product that is then sent to the USA and mailed out in Fair Trade Friday boxes. The women in this community outreach make around $50 a month from the product and that’s enough to pay for rent, provide food and school fees for their children. From a pregnant teen to a mother/teacher, Pauline’s future is bright and she is a beautiful example of what God can do.”

Mercy Found Pauline

God’s hand has been in the life of Pauline and women just like her. In what might be a hopeless situation, a way has been provided. A way for hope, a reason to celebrate, a light in the darkness.

A Crazy Kind of Yes

A few years ago I heard of a group called Mercy House Kenya. Kristen Welch stepped out with a crazy Yes and answered God’s call on her life. A call that would eventually impact women in 18 countries.

FTF 7

As with any calling from God…the details seemed impossible. How could a woman from Texas make a difference in the lives of young, pregnant teenagers in Africa? How could any of us really? We don’t have the resources, the knowledge, to make a difference do we?

But through Kristen’s faith she has shown us that our yes matters.

Initially the Mercy Shop was opened with a few handmade, fair-trade items. The profits would be used to help fund a God-sized dream idea. To provide a safe place for unwed, pregnant teens in Kenya Africa to go during their pregnancy. They are given proper education and medical care, and taught a trade so that they can provide for the life growing inside of them.

They are given hope in a place where often hope seems lost.

One Yes Can Open Many Doors

But it didn’t end there. And soon the Fair Trade Friday Club was born.

FTF 8In Kristen’s words “I heard it clear, these words in the middle of the night, “Provide jobs for women.” It was years ago and I didn’t know what it meant. We were a couple of years into our hard work in Kenya, rescuing pregnant teens and I didn’t think I could do much more. But I also couldn’t shake those whispered words. Fair Trade Friday is the response to providing jobs for women. Sometimes God asks us to do something we don’t know how to do. But He does and He leads.”

What Then Is My Response?

It would have been easy for Kristen to ignore these tugs on her heart. But she forged ahead and because of her example first I now ask myself when then can I do?

One of the easiest and most fun in my opinion is becoming a member of the “club.” They have a couple of options available for any budget. It is a win win really, it is our chance to support the artisans and the reward is a fun box of cute items delivered right to our doors!

FTF 9

If you just want to try it out and see what the Fair Trade Club is all about you can order a One Time Box. For $35 + $10 shipping you will get 3-4 fair trade items. Everything from jewelry to fashion accessories.

For those that want a little mail surprise each month you can sign up for the Recurring Box. You save a little (Only $31.99 with free shipping!) and these are the perfect items to save and share with friends and family! Right now these boxes have been SO popular, they have a wait list. So if you are interested sign up now so you don’t miss out when the next group opens up!

If earrings are your thing, try the Earring of the Month club! This is $11.99 a month and they have discounts when you sign up for multiple months! Again join the wait list if you want in on these amazing items!

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I love stories of redemption and there is a book being written, one full of hope and promise, in the stories of the women whose lives are being changed through the Fair Trade Friday Club. Mercy has found women like Pauline, women in 18 countries who now have sustainable employment. Lives are being changed and we all have an opportunity to be a part of it.

Join the Club and make a difference.

**Images and stories shared courtesy of Fair Trade Friday.

Mom Confessions and Updates

Mom Confessions

I haven’t blogged any real life confessions in a few weeks! I have had things to share, but we went on a vacation 2 weeks ago and had no wifi! So even though I had things I would have shared, I couldn’t…and can I confess that having a few weeks off felt good.

I love blogging, I love sharing my heart here and working out the nitty gritty of my faith, but when I start to feel the pressure to write, to have a certain number of posts in a week…it starts to lose its appeal.

Taking a break was good for me, necessary really and while I will continue to write, I am trying to lower the expectations I have for myself here.

Things have been a blur since coming back to the “real world.” We were scheduled to be greeters at church the Sunday morning after our return. Note to self, if you are randomly scheduled to greet the day after a vacation…switch with someone.

We were up until almost 1am unpacking and when the alarm went off I groaned…and I am a morning person! Karlena was the worst…crying that she was just SOOO tired! I felt her pain. But we were there, not with bells on…but we were there. The sermon was on baptism and so good..so there was a good reason we needed to be there besides greeting! :)

Last week flew by. I really don’t know what we did even. Why is it that you need a vacation from life after a vacation? We had a busy work week scheduled and I think we all struggled to maintain at full speed right out of the gate! Who does our scheduling anyways? A crazy person?!

Oh wait, that is me. :/

This week is VBS week.

VBS

I LOVE LOVE VBS week. Really it is a blast. I am helping lead the singing/dancing again this year and it is the highlight of my summer! It is the one time that I can laugh and dance and be goofy and I don’t feel people are judging me. And if they are I don’t even care because VBS just rocks so much!

I just unpacked my suitcase yesterday. I am honestly surprised that I did it this soon. But it was time, and I couldn’t find a second pair of clean socks to wear to VBS so it was necessary that I search for them in my bag. Isn’t unpacking after vacation the worst?

The Fruit Truck came to town last Friday and we purchased 40lbs of bing cherries. Yes we are nuts but oh were they delicious!! We also bought this cherry pitter.

Cherry Pitter

It was $22 and a splurge but oh how worth it! We set up an assembly line and had 20lbs pitted and frozen in no time!

This weekend the kids asked if they could do an experiment. Karlena grabbed a container and just wanted to add food coloring to water. Then Elijah joined in and wanted to make “goo”…he thought the ingredients were water, Elmer’s glue and “white powder”…I could have searched for a recipe but I was too tired…so we just let them dump and pour.

The result was not what they were hoping for and it made a mess everywhere.

Experiments

Karlena dripped green slops all over the floor. I have yet to mop it. I am secretly hoping the dog does the job for me. I know, I know.

I have fed the kids fried eggs for dinner 3 nights in a row. It is late when we get home from VBS and the kids are usually starving and since it seems we NEVER have anything to eat…eggs are the easiest answer. Thank goodness they love eggs.

We spent the afternoon on Sunday with friends and came home with 2 packs of farm-fresh eggs. Karlena calls them “chicken eggs”…I am not sure what animal’s eggs she thinks we eat normally, but apparently farm-fresh = chicken eggs.

There may be more I could share, but I am tired…and out of words. :) I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week and hopefully I will be back sometime soon!

What a Zip Line Taught Me About Fear

Black Hills

We just got back from a week in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is our third year vacationing there and we rented a cabin in Lead. The cabin was at the top of a mountain and it took 9 minutes and 38 seconds to get up or down the road.

It was kind of a treacherous road as well..I will have more on that at a later time. It was long and bumpy but lead to a beautiful cabin and view. We were remote in many ways…including that we didn’t have wifi. It was a true vacation and such a good week.

One of the days it was rainy and Dominic and I took Isaac, his friend Zach and cousin Casey to go through Rushmore Cave in Keystone. The little kids didn’t want to go so they stayed at the cabin for a “rest” day with the grandparents.

The cave was fun…beautiful really, and for the most part, the journey through was manageable. There were a couple of interesting spots where you had to watch your step, but overall it felt safe.

Then we headed to this 7-D theater experience where I was in last place for shooting zombies. This didn’t come as a shock to me as I was with 4 boys! 😉

The final part of our time there was supposed to be a zip-line ride. We headed up the hill and Dominic and I got on first. As soon as I was in the seat and my feet were dangling, I started to get second thoughts.

It wasn’t a terrible drop, but I am not one who loves the thrill of my stomach dropping in rides. I don’t like roller coasters and other rides like that. Panic waved over me and I said that I wanted to get off.

I know that Dominic was disappointed in me…he had just wanted to ride together. But, as in so many situations, when I feel fear, I want to run.

I didn’t think about praying, didn’t consider pushing through. I just got scared and I got off the ride.

Looking back this is so indicative of my faith life.

I can be happy go lucky if things are safe and going well…but the minute it becomes a little dangerous, or unknown, I bail.

As much as I feel I have grown this past 6 months in my dependence of God, this experience felt like a huge step back. I could have asked God to calm my spirit, could have just had courage to stand up to my fear, but I didn’t.

And it has bothered me ever since.

I don’t want to be ruled by fear, limited in what I can or will do because I am so afraid of the “what ifs.” I think for me, right now, this fear is coming from the reality that we will be sending Isaac off to school in a few months.

We visited the school again while we were there…I have some concerns, less about Isaac and more about what the environment will be like those first few weeks/months. Let’s just say the freshman all get to wear a ugly green beenie hat for like 2 months or more (no one we have ever asked will admit to the actual length of time….all the students “can’t remember”) AND while wearing the hat they can (and will) be forced to stop, get on their knees and sing a “I love my beenie hat song” at the whim of any upper classman.

That along with the parties and alcohol etc., that will be available (and it sounds like all freshman get forced pulled into those first few weeks)…I am suddenly entering this place of being unable to control what happens to Isaac and what the outcome may be.

Not like I ever had any control right? Maybe the illusion of control when he lives upstairs…but 7 hours away with a bunch of students who try and humiliate and pressure my first born. Ugh, this mama heart almost can’t handle it!

I am on that ride again and I just want off.

I told Isaac that I thought he needed to stay home another year before going off to school 😉 …I just need more time you know?! Time to make sure he is prepared for the real world, to make sure he can melt chocolate without scorching it (inside joke)….I haven’t possibly done enough.

And as I type these words I realize…like literally right this moment, I can see that I am so darn afraid that I haven’t been a good enough parent.

I should have been stronger, prayed over him more, encouraged him and prepared him, told him I loved him and hugged him more. I suddenly feel like a failure. He is going off to experience one of his biggest life changes yet and I want it to be good.

I want to be able to wrap an imaginary swath of bubble wrap around him so that he doesn’t have to experience hurt and failure and disappointment. I want everything to be roses and the reality is that it probably won’t be.

And as much as I know that he needs to go through these life lessons, just like I did. Oh how I want it to be easier! 

As a first time mama going through this, I am not sure how you survive?! I know that you do…I have seen others go before me. My own mom survived me and that was a feat in itself! ha!

I am at that moment where my feet are dangling and I know that it is going to be scary but I have to be able to trust that God has my son just like He always has me.

I have to let go.

I have to trust that God is with Him.

I have to trust that Isaac will go through what he needs to, and that his life experiences will hopefully draw him closer to God as well. He is a great kid and I just want amazing things for his life.

Will there be unknown? I am certain of it.

I am also certain that God loves Isaac even more than I do, and that He will be with him every step of the way.

Fear doesn’t have to control me. I can learn to let go and trust God. (<====Click to Tweet)

It probably won’t be a pretty journey on my part…but it is a step forward in the right direction!

If you want to see the lamo ride that I chickened out of you can check out the video below (or here if you are reading in an email) :)

YouTube Preview Image
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