Why is America Blessed?

This is the question I can’t stop thinking about.

Why does North America have so much, while the rest of the world has so little?

The little trip my hubby and I took at the beginning of the month wasn’t a romantic getaway. It was an informational meeting with an amazing Christian charity that works in Africa. We wanted to learn more and we did. We don’t know if we have a future with this group, but we are asking God and we’re trying to be patient.

In one of the sessions, they had every person take a colored piece of paper from a closed box. Our classroom was divided into groups based on our colored slips of paper. The medium-sized groups with 10 or more people signified the countries with world’s most wealth, America one of them.

In the far corner of the room, sat the group with the smallest amount of wealth: Africa, a continent with more than a billion people with the smallest amount of money per capita in the world.

It was shocking to see the room divided so unfairly and heartbreaking to know that this wasn’t a game. It was real.

Why is America so blessed? What are we to do with our wealth? We are a nation possessed with achieving more and more and more. I know no one likes these kind of questions. They make us feel uncomfortable. I have always thought that every pay raise, every unexpected check in the mail, every extra in my life was God’s blessing. God’s blessing for me. Now, I’m not so sure. Why would God want me to have more and more and MORE, while so many have nothing?

Every good gift comes from God above, but gifts are meant to be given.


I received this comment yesterday and thought it was thought-provoking: “Yesterday I read a post on Get Rich Slowly about how frugality is great, but really there’s nothing wrong with buying lots of nice things for yourself as long as you can really afford them. When I’d finished the article, I thought, “Is there no room for giving in this?” I believe there IS something wrong with lots of spending, even if I can “afford” it. Because maybe I have what I have not because I earned it, but because God blessed me with it. And maybe He expects me to share it, even just a little. But probably a lot.”

Why do you think America is so blessed?

Is it so we can build a greater country or is it for us to help that poor continent and others like it in the corner of the room and make HIS glory known?

WFMW: Summer Swimming Tip

This tip is brought to you by my smart 10 year old daughter:

When you are getting out of the pool and your swimsuit is really wet and your cold or you need to dry off to go home, wrap your towel tightly around your body-as tight as you can. Hold it closed with your arms and scrunch down all the way to the ground, keeping your arms pressed against your body, while kneeling.

It really does wring out your suit quickly!

I wouldn’t know. I tried it, but fell and couldn’t get up.

But it works for her!

What works for you? View WFMW guidelines here. Don’t forget next week’s (suggested) theme is: “Share your favorite summer recipe(s)!”

  1. Whos Talking About You? – BloggingWithAmy
  2. Nikki (banana cryogenics)
  3. FUN FAMILY GAME (Smockity Frocks)
  4. Julie From Inmates
  5. Blogger HTML Gadget fix
  6. Playing Cards with Kids – LifeasMOM
  7. Many Little Blessings {Make Ahead Christmas Gifts}
  8. Ways to Earn
  9. Making a Freezer Cooking Plan
  10. The Diaper Diaries (diaper pails)
  11. How to Create a Party Bin (itscome2this)
  12. Bacon Wrapped Corn – Lynns Kitchen Adventures
  13. Fiddledeedee (Coupon Clipping Help)
  14. Use Grub Hub for Ordering In
  15. Parenting Miracles (Sunscreen HELP! Please?)
  16. Jazzed Up Flip Flops!
  17. MainlineMom – Early to Bed, Early to Rise
  18. How to Publish a Calendar in iCal @ Carrie Actually
  19. Travel Tips
  20. Gen X Moms – Finding Good Deals
  21. Cutting a watermelon with less mess! Crystal & Co
  22. Kara @ Home W/Purpose (Cleaning With Steam)
  23. Muses of Megret (Prettier dish washing!)
  24. Peace Creek on the Prairie (Frugal Garden tip)
  25. Your Birthday Book: A Keepsake Journal – janna
  26. Loving My Domestic Life – Grocery Shopping Tip
  27. Tips for Family Camping (Mulberry Spot)
  28. Covert Teaching (Reading to Wiggly Children)
  29. Operation De-Clutter
  30. ElizabethG (Quick Food Waste Reduction Tips)
  31. Activities for Toddlers – onereddaisy
  32. Summer Snacking at Fiskerelli Bellies
  33. The Pizza Cutter Advantage – Cutting Toddlers Food
  34. Make Your Own Lemonade Concentrate!!!
  35. momstheword(Sibling Rivalry and Bickering)
  36. How to make great hamburgers @ frugalcrunchychristy
  39. Organized Buttons
  40. Coconut oil GIVEAWAY
  41. EASY Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream!!
  42. GROCERY CART CHALLENGE (reuse lipstick tubes)
  43. Eos Mom (party at Peter Piper Pizza)
  44. Milehimama (Easy way to clean up car sickness)
  45. Working on my Marriage-Wk 3 @ Creative2xmom
  46. Homemade Puffy Paint
  47. Desperately Seeking Coffee – How to Dice a Tomato
  48. Letter to Your Loved Ones @ Delighting in the Day
  49. Spray Painting Furniture
  50. Raising Arrows {How do YOU wash girls hair?}
  51. Marriage Advice– Maria D. @ DownrightDomesticity
  52. Entertain kids with loo roll marionettes!
  53. Get them crafty in the kitchen, make no sew apron
  54. Craft Room Makeover
  55. Molly Green (Q & R)
  56. Perfect Pancakes
  57. iDreamofClean (10 Habits of a Clean Home)
  58. Washer Bracelets
  59. Addicted to Bags!
  61. Finding Time for Prayer (Carol @ simple_catholic)
  62. Rainy Day Entertainment For Kids-A Busy Mom of Two
  63. Candi (Must-haves for sick kids)
  64. Candi (How to Ripen AVOCADOS)
  65. Alicias Homemaking (Freezing Ground Beef)
  66. Easy Kids Craft: Peg Dolls
  67. Golden Rules: If your kid gets lost
  68. Tightwad Tuesday now at Tea Time with Annie Kate
  69. Crochet Pattern – Red White & Blue Cozy
  70. Stars on a Stick @ HowDoesShe
  71. Water Park @ HowDoesShe
  72. Red White and Blue Cupcakes @ HowDoesShe
  73. Frugal, fashionable kids swimwear @ BelleSqueaks
  74. The Caffeinated Globe ~ INN STYLE ELEGANCE AT HOME
  75. Oversized Rosette Pillow by Patrice @ LTC
  76. Foam Roller Massage for Back Pain (Melissa @ CI)
  77. Annie Kate(Before You Throw it Out, Take it Apart)
  78. Songberries~Recipe Tip
  79. Frugal Entertainment: 10 Ideas for Balloon Fun
  80. Kids at church-Backwards Edition @ somuch 2 say
  81. Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet (Cheap College Books)
  82. Irish by Marriage (Cheap Hair Bows)
  83. Morristribe: Eliminate Distractions, Get More Done
  84. Moms In Need of Mercy (Make an Exercise "Menu"!)
  85. Celebrating an Anniversary on a Tight Budget
  86. Ice Cream Tip @ Tuffet
  87. Erin @ LTC-Tray Dress Up
  88. How to Grill Chicken Breast & Not Dry It Out
  89. FOR THE LOVE OF NAPS – easy gift idea
  90. Little Shelf Revamp
  91. Lindas Lunacy – Salt Water System-Swimming Pools
  92. Parsley Facial Toner – Homemade Mamas
  93. Homemade Air Freshener – Homemade Mamas
  94. Not Having Children (The Local Cook)
  95. monkey bars & skirts
  96. Tips for the end of pregnancy from a 10 time mom
  97. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect: scrapbooking giveaway
  98. Coffee Filter Butterflies
  99. Diaper bag alternative @ Moneyless Mommas
  100. Big Brother & Sister Bags
  101. WOW . . . Flag Cake!
  102. Book Page Necklace
  103. Cleaning Silk Plants
  104. Impress Your Kids {summer camp situpons!}
  1. Redone $10 Bookshelf @ Potholes and Pantyhose
  2. Coupon Binder @ Once A Month Mom
  3. Frozen Treats for Busybodies
  4. Call the Company!
  5. Superchikk (Portable Potty)
  6. KILL ANTS IN YOUR HOUSE! (Kitchen Stewardship)
  7. Jenny @ The Zepf Life(being a yes mom)
  8. Everythingmoms- 4th of July craft for kids!
  9. Brandi (ABC Note Card Notebook)
  10. Washing thick kids hair (Eden @ Mothers Who Know)
  11. Abbi (My source for parenting advice)
  12. Frugal Fashionista
  13. Postpartum Depression
  14. Thrift Stores and Garage Sales-What I look for
  15. Feeding Four – tick removal & *GIVEAWAY*
  16. Homestead Momma (Kids Craft Tub)
  17. Better is Little – Schooling Year Round
  18. Tina Gray {dot} Me – greasy tea towels
  19. Thriftstore item to look for/selling online
  20. Summer Lists with the kids
  21. lace accent shirt tutorial
  22. Saidah @ A Proverbs Wife: Stockpiling Cosmetics
  23. Organic Freezer Jam (with recipe)
  24. Dont Wash Your Hair! (Bitterroot Mama)
  25. Fabric Wall Art #2
  26. Hummingbird Homemaking (Easy to Clean Shower)
  27. My Purple Brick Road – How We Learn Spelling Words
  28. Jenny @ Just Jennifer
  29. Hand painted numbers on flower pots
  30. Low Fat Cupcakes
  31. PURSE ORGANIZATION (Chic Critique)
  32. Applesauce Chicken and a $40 CSN Stores GIVEAWAY
  33. Make a Compost Bucket
  34. Headboard shelf
  35. Kaye (Save A LOT of Time/Heartache on Meal Plans)
  36. Sunflower Cupcakes — Prairie Cottage Rose
  37. Olivia @ Of Such is the Kingdom (Live Abundantly!)
  38. Barb @ The Forever Neighbor (Wii)
  39. Jen @ Bigler Beat (Car Box
  40. Julie Stiles Mills (expense audit saves $$$$!!)
  41. Cool Mac and Cheese @ Todays Obsession (Kim)
  42. Picking/selling blueberries (WayMoreHomemade)
  43. FREE Printable 4th of July Cupcake Toppers
  44. Google Calendar & iPod Touch (My Daily Round)
  45. Save YourMoney! (The Duklings at Camian Academy)
  46. Upcycle Old Sock into iPhone Cozy
  47. Budgeting
  48. Traveling With Kids Tip @ Parenting in Blue Jeans
  49. Saved Quarter – High end Make-up for free
  50. Blissful Beth (Make Breakfast Overnight)
  51. Protein Myth-Vegetarian& Cheap PennilessParenting
  52. Tutorial: How To Sew "Mommy Bag" (Frugal Granola)
  53. In Everything (walking in the shade)
  54. Becca – Our Crazy Boys
  55. *She Sparkles ~ 4th of July Family Fun!
  56. One Chicken: Endless Possibilities @ LMH
  57. Rachel @ Must Share. . . . (free books)
  58. Mamas Laundry Talk (How to get ironing done)
  59. Pantry Cookin Mama (Ingredient Replacements)
  60. Great family game/pizza box stained glass!
  61. My Recipe Binder {Like a Bubbling Brook}
  62. Taras Faves – Saving on Kids Dance Classes
  63. Teaching children manners
  64. A Slob Comes Clean -Staying on Top of Dirty Dishes
  65. PJs All Day (A Little Laugh)
  66. My garden. . . Mulching
  67. Totallyscrappy (Summer Salad)
  68. Odd Mom (Shaving Tip)
  69. Training Kids to Work (Homemakers Cottage)
  70. When a hurricane comes (ilovemy5kids)
  71. Butterfly Garden: great kid entertainment
  72. Amyswandering (Make an Online Cookbook)
  73. Twenty Trucks For Boys
  74. Dr. Bronners Magic Soap & All Purpose Cleaner
  75. Color Hunt – ACTIVITY MOM
  76. GroovieMom-CaKe BaTtEr Ice Cream 4 the 4th!
  77. Less Stressed Mom – Car Bucket
  78. Animal Conglomerates Funny Craft
  79. Super Easy Freedom Cake
  80. The Prudent Pantry (Is Your Baking Powder Fresh?)
  81. Towel Rice Warmer @ Pony Tails & Fish Scales
  82. When They Just Want to Rip Up Their Math Homework!
  83. Penny Raine
  84. Reversible Baby Dress
  85. Ode to Trash Day
  86. Barbie Beach Birthday Bash~Link Party Thursday!
  87. Turn Trash into a Garden Treat!! Savin Some
  88. Talking with Kids About the Gulf Oil Disaster
  89. OLbD- Organized 4th of July
  90. Shelley @ MAHM (admitting our difficulties)
  91. Health Insurance Wont Pay? Dont Give up Yet!
  92. Feels Like Home (preschoolers having fun @ beach)
  93. Chair Fit for a Queen
  94. What I look for @ Garage Sale/Frugal-Living-Skills
  95. 4th of July Flag Treats
  96. When Free isnt Really Free!
  97. Soaked Wheat Bread w. o a Bosch
  98. Forget your craft projects?
  99. Jennifer @ McQuill-land (Preventing Swimmers Ear)
  100. How to STUDY THE BIBLE With Colored Pencils
  101. Nifty Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Vintage Bottles
  102. Easy Peasy Chocolate Pie @ Domestic Dame
  103. Make Up Organizer
  104. List of Fourth of July Recipes-Red, White, Blue
  105. This linky list is now closed.

The Rusted Chain {Giveaway}

*Updated with Winners* Congrats to Jessica and Krys!

So true:

Image of How Great Is Our God necklace

The Rusted Chain is one of my new sponsors. I met the sweet owner, Beki on Twitter ages ago (the Intenet makes instant friendships, no?)

Her awesome company raised $3000 for Compassion International for Haiti. I love that.

Oh, and her jewelry is amazing and she’s one of the most reasonable hand-stamped jewelry makers around!

Some of my favorites:

Image of Dream. Teach. Inspire. necklace

Image of Happy Day earrings

The Rusted Chain creates jewelry with a purpose. Beki is a mom, a blogger and a blog reader, just like us. Please visit her site and tell me what speaks to you! TWO readers will be entered to win a $25 gift certificate.

This giveaway ends on Thursday.

My Weekend: It Deserves a List

  • My baby had tubes put in her ears and her adenoids removed on Friday morning. I don’t like things like this.
  • The medical staff let her take some comfort items back to the OR, but the doctor had to stop mid-procedure to put the pacifier in the crying baby doll’s mouth. I think they have a new policy now. We like to shake things up.

  • I learned that a large majority of kids come out of anesthesia hysterical, kicking and fighting. My kids is above average.
  • Her recovery started out rocky when the nurse at the hospital mistakenly gave us the wrong ear drops.
  • I learned if you put nasal spray in newly tubed ears, it burns very badly.
  • My 3 year old could win an Olympic event in SCREAMING.
  • It turns out I like the World Cup. Even when Africa wins.
  • I sent my darling older kids to four days of church camp early Saturday morning. But I’m channeling my sorrow by gutting their rooms of all random paper crafts hoarded from year 2004.
  • P.S. I never thought I’d be the Mom who puts her son’s clothes in zip lock bags with a label for each day.

  • But I TOTALLY am.
  • The camp has strict rules about head lice. If they find it, the children aren’t allowed in. I thought about scheduling a quick visit to the dentist. But thankfully, we passed!
  • My toddler is trying on her role as an only child. She likes it, but I miss her brother and sister.
  • I found out my 4 year old iPhone does not float in the commode. Don’t ask.
  • How was your weekend?

The Email I Don’t Know How to Answer

I get a fair amount of email. I don’t ever want to get to the place where I can’t answer it and so I make the effort to respond to each one.

Every once in awhile, I get one that knocks my socks off. It may be so encouraging that I want to tattoo it on my thigh. But since that would be very painful, I just stick it in a special email folder. Occasionally, I get emails so heartbreaking, I stop what I’m doing and pray for the person on the other end. And on a rare occasion, I get a mean email that points out all my faults. I have a special folder for those too. I call it my delete file.

But it’s rare that I get an email I simply don’t know how to answer.

I received the following from a college student and with her permission, I asked it I could share it with you.

It not only knocked my socks off, made me cry and ended up in my special email folder, it drove me to my knees. Because I want to be the person that *Hope thinks I am. Actually, I want to be more like her:


I’m Hope, I’m 21 years old and will be a senior in college. My mom found your blog and she shared it with me and to say it has helped me dig deeper in my relationship with Christ would be the understatement of the century. My mom and I are so different but we both love your blog. We joke its one of the only things we have in common. I love the deep stuff. My mom is wonderful but I know sometimes she thinks my passion for serving others is a phase. She thinks when I volunteer at the homeless shelter, I’m going to catch a disease. When she sees my cry because I feel the pain of God’s people, she thinks I’m on my period. Frankly, shes so happy I read your blog because I think she knows what a wonderful role model you are for me. She loves to donate money to organizations as long as she doesnt have to be hands on.

I know that I don’t have the life experience you have, I’m single, no kids, no REAL responsibilities yet but when I read about how your heart has been changed since your trip to Africa, I cant help but cry and realize you are putting my thoughts and feelings into words. I come from a family and a hometown of people who all love God, everyone I know goes to church, and its become acceptable to “shield” our eyes from any pain or discomfort we see. After the earthquake in Haiti, I heard “sweetie change the channel this is depressing!” “I’m tired of seeing those kids on TV, change it back to MTV, I want something happy!”. When I wanted my group of girlfriends to come bring a meal to the homeless shelter I heard “its depressing, it makes me sad, God wants me to be happy! its the summer!” and “its not a good night, dancing with the stars comes on I might not be back in time and my DVR is filled up!”  There is no judgement here its just I feel like a weirdo because I relish anytime I can be with the people hurting. I want to give them hope. I want them to know they arent forgotten. This is where YOU come in. When I read your blog, its like a breath of fresh air. Youve somehow managed to let me see what HE has been trying to show me all along–that its okay to embrace the sadness of the world. Its okay for me to cry WITH the mothers who cannot put food on their table. Its okay for me to feel so disgusted with all of my material possessions that I go on binge clean ups where I sit and weep with all the crap I have allowed to try to “fill” this void in me over the years. Your words have helped me realize HE is the only thing that will fill me up. When my friends/family see me becoming distraught with all of the “stuff” my family has I often hear “you are so UNGRATEFUL, you should be happy that your mom and dad have bought you all those cute clothes, and that EVERY year you get a new wardrobe” “BE HAPPY! I wish I had all those cool gadgets” “Hope, those people are homeless because they arent following God, they keep messing up, your family is living right so be happy you have tons of stuff!” I’ll admit that last one was a little exaggerated but I sometimes feel like a fish out of water.

I struggle with balancing between being completely oblivious to the poverty and pain in the world around me, and on the other side wanting to sell everything and live in a tent.

When I walk down the street with shoes on my feet, food in my belly, the love of my family, the knowledge that I am forever one of God’s beloved and I see someone who is homeless. My first instinct is to take them home with me and fix them up. My dreams dont seem realistic. I want to take off my shoes and give them to the homeless woman. But even if I do that, there is another homeless woman I’ll see another day and I’ll want to give her shoes too. Do I have to pick and choose who I help when? I have often thought maybe I could quit college and use the tuition money for children in Africa. However, if I don’t get a college education, I won’t be able to fulfill my calling to work as a social worker.  My question is, HOW DO YOU BALANCE NOT FEELING GUILTY EVERYTIME YOU ENJOY A MEAL WITH YOUR FAMILY KNOWING OTHERS ARE GOING TO BED HUNGRY? I know its not feasible for me to sell all of my things and live naked. Any advice would be wonderful.

I’m saving up to go to Africa (I’ve been once before). I have never felt closer to God than when I was holding hands with the people in the slums of Tanzania. It was hard to come back to my world. It was hard coming back to a house where my mom doesn’t go to the grocery store without wearing her pearl necklace. It was hard getting off a plane and getting back into my familys gas guzzling SUV and driving to our home where we would have a full refrigerator of food. When I got home I started sponsoring *Naomi with Compassion. Seeing you with the children in Kenya helped renew my faith in the compassion organization SO THANK YOU!

Id love your thoughts on living a blessed life (materially) WITH THE KNOWLEDGE that others don’t have food, clothing or any extras. I struggle with this guilt and even when I lay it at HIS feet I’m still searching for some direction.

I wrote about guilt the other day, it was spurred by this email and some comments I’d received. I told Hope that since returning from Africa, I truly struggle with every purchase I make. I’ve joked with my hubby saying “Thank God, I’m not a home decor blogger since I keep un-decorating my home.” I weigh every item-do we really need this? It’s been a painful process and I’m not sure where the balance is. In Radical, David Platt asks a similar question and encourages Christians to put a cap on their living expenses and give the rest away.

Pretty huge idea, huh?

What would you say to Hope?

Behind Enemy Lines

Two years ago, I shared extensively on my blog about our new friends from The Persecuted Church who were arrested, interrogated and eventually deported from Uzbekistan for telling others about Jesus and planting secret churches. Many of my long-time readers, donated money, clothes and household items to help them set up their lives in Texas.

Reluctantly, they have made a home in America, but their hearts beat daily for their homeland. Our dear friends bare the burden of the secret church that still meets behind enemy lines.

They are currently teaching leaders and pastors in Ukraine for the next several weeks. Just 200 miles from the town they were deported from and where their parents and siblings still live, a violent outbreak of ethnic cleansing is killing thousands.

From our friends, “As many as 2000 people have been killed in the last several days, up to 400,000 displaced from their homes with 100,000 who have fled to Uzbekistan out of fear for their lives. Many are sheltering in camps or hiding in their homes in fear with thousands trying to cross the border in hope of saving their lives and their families.

There is death everywhere, arson, looting, rapings, threats from police and other officials raising the level of distrust and fear.”

For this we ask you to join us in prayer and our heavy, sad hearts over this at this time. It has brought tears and deep heaviness in us.  These are our people for who we feel a very big part of in our lives and for which we ache at this time.

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against other powers that control…”

Would you join with me and pray for peace and protection of The Persecuted Church?

How I Know I’m Doing a Good Job Parenting

Today all three of my kids were mad at me. I told one no on something I didn’t feel good about. I made one complete what they started before they started something else. I stopped one from hiding in the freezer.

There were tears, huffing, heavy sighing and yelling. And the kids even showed some emotion.

No one was happy.

It was a clear sign to me that I was doing a very good job.