WFMW: Summer Swim Tip

Our little community has a plethora of public pools. We pool hop all summer! It’s a hard life, but someone has got to give the lifeguards something to do.

We keep our pool bag in the entry closet, next to the laundry room. An easy tip: We fold warm, fluffy beach towels and pull dried swimsuits directly from the laundry and store them in the pool bag.

We like to be prepared.

It works for us!

Preparing Your Kids for Global Missions

When I crouched my head and entered her small home, I had two thoughts: 1. I have too much 2. My kids need to see this.

I watched as the young mom made charcoal bricks from mud and crumbles of coal, laying them in the sun to dry. Later she would leave her 8 year old son to watch her 1 year old baby, so she could go and sell the the roasted corn she’d made over the charcoal to passers-by walking home from work.

I’ve always loved missions. I sat rapt as an elementary girl, listening to missionaries tell stories at the annual Missions Convention our church hosted. My favorite memory: dressing up in clothes from different countries and tasting foods like baklava and curry. I remember driving home one evening telling my parents I wanted to be a missionary. My mom worried. My dad thrilled.

[I didn’t understand my mom’s reaction until I had kids of my own, now I completely get it].

As a teen I took trips with my youth group and then later with my youth pastor husband. I sort of lost my missions heart in the quest of the American Dream for a few years, finding it again when I began following the Compassion blogger trips several years ago.

I want my kids to love missions. I want them to have mental images of kids their age who live on the other side of the world. I want them to put God first, others second, themselves last.

We have spent the last year preparing our children’s hearts for global missions. And tomorrow when we leave for Africa, we prepare to expose them physically to a different culture. Even if you don’t plan to take your kids overseas immediately, you can begin to prepare them:

  1. Incorporate Window On The World into your dinner-time routine. This book is suitable for families and gives a glimpse into different cultures.
  2. Put a world map or globe in a heavy traffic area and talk about different parts of the world.
  3. Pray for different countries when you pray together as a family.
  4. Sponsor a child-hang their picture up, pray for them, write letters, make them a part of your family.
  5. Share stories from books like Voices of Martyrs and Jesus Freaks: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus, the Ultimate Jesus Freaks. Often in an attempt to protect our kids, we shelter them too much. We can raise compassionate children by exposing them to a bit of grief in our world, while still protecting them from too much knowledge.
  6. Try different foods from different countries: my kids love Ethiopian and Mediterranean food and will “try” just about anything (still working on the 4 year old)
  7. Check out books from the library and teach them about different cultures.
  8. Pray for God to prepare your heart and your feet as you contemplate visiting another country as a family. Pray together about this, often.
  9. Be realistic: some kids (ages) do better than others. Don’t force things upon them.
  10. Explain to your kids that time and plans in other countries is much slower than our own fast-paced American culture. Talk about spiritual warfare and God’s will, protection, safety and trust (this was huge when we recently weren’t able to travel to Africa).

And lastly: Prepare your own parent heart: you might be raising a future missionary.

100+ Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference

  1. Babysit for a single mom
  2. Teach compassion with a Family Giving Box
  3. Write a Family Mission Statement
  4. Bake cookies for your local fire dept.
  5. Pick up trash at local park as a family field trip
  6. Create snack packs for Ronald McDonald residents
  7. Welcome a new family to the neighborhood with a dessert and introduction
  8. Pray for the poor of the world
  9. Color a Smile-print coloring page to be given to lift someone in need up
  10. Make a baby care kit for a baby in need
  11. Take time each week to unplug as a family
  12. Donate your time or treasure to the Make a Wish Foundation
  13. Appreciate your church staff in some small, tangible way
  14. Do yard work for an elderly neighbor
  15. Make a Life Book for a child in Foster Care
  16. Read You Were Made to Make A Difference as a family
  17. Volunteer to cuddle babies at the hospital (older kids/teens are often allowed also)
  18. Read Christmas Jars as family
  19. Save loose change in a jar and give to a needy family at Christmas
  20. Take a family volunteering vacation
  21. Stop and say thank you to grocery clerks, waitresses. Ask them how they are doing.
  22. Become a monthly sponsor to help pregnant girls in Kenya
  23. Make a birthday cake for an underpriviledged child
  24. Serve at home: make each other’s beds, clean up someone else’s mess
  25. Write thank you notes to people who serve you: postman, yard guy, doctor, etc
  26. Sponsor a child monthly (cannot recommend enough)
  27. Make relief kits for disaster relief victims
  28. Sew a sleeping bag for someone in need (easy pattern)
  29. Volunteer at a non-profit
  30. Make up some Hygiene Bags to pass out to local homeless people
  31. Take your family on a tour of Red Cross
  32. Put a monthly date on the calendar for a Family Service Night
  33. Take a meal to a new family
  34. Create a card for Habitat for Humanity new home owner
  35. Encourage your older children to be a Mother’s Helper to a mom with young kids
  36. Fill a backpack to help give a homeless person a lift up
  37. Make birthday cards and deliver them to a local nursing home monthly
  38. Donate books to Africa
  39. Take your kids to a local Food Pantry with canned goods to donate
  40. Deliver food for Meals on Wheels
  41. Pray as a family on a regular basis for the people in your life.
  42. Donate your hair to Locks of Love.
  43. Give blood. (Take your kids with you and explain the importance).
  44. Donate nice toys to cancer ward at a Children’s Hospital
  45. Buy a mosquito net and help prevent malaria
  46. Randomly celebrate each other with a special treat, meal, time
  47. Donate school supplies to a classroom in need
  48. Compliment and thank the teachers in your life
  49. Buy a soccer ball for a child in poverty
  50. Give a used bike to a homeless person
  51. Donate coloring books/crayons to hospital emergency rooms
  52. Host a 40 hour famine in your home (fast something!)
  53. Give clothes to a family in need (call your church/school to find one)
  54. Read to a special needs child
  55. Only drink water for 2 weeks, give proceeds for clean water
  56. Buy a goat for a family in extreme poverty
  57. Give a donation in someone’s name to an organization you believe in
  58. Send your used shoes to Reuse-a-Shoe
  59. Become Certified Respite Caregivers to give Foster Family’s a babysitting
  60. Decorate a Christmas tree at an elderly person’s house
  61. Hold a collection drive: makeup, lotions, etc for women at a shelter
  62. Find a Food Bank near you to volunteer
  63. Deliver popcicles to children at a homeless shelter
  64. Offer your pet for therapy to the elderly
  65. Decorate nursing home rooms of residents with homemade art
  66. Have regular “family nights” with games, ice cream, time together
  67. Visit the NICU with treats for the doctors and anxious parents
  68. Write to unsponsored children
  69. Read to patients at a local hospital
  70. Plan a family missions trip
  71. Bake cookies, host a bake sale and donate money to the poor or a cause
  72. Volunteer at a local animal shelter
  73. Plant a garden and share the produce
  74. Hold a drive for lightly-used stuffed animals for police stations SAFE program
  75. Write letters to servicemen
  76. Give a micro loan and change a family in a third world country
  77. Smile. At everyone.
  78. Make care packages for children in the hospital
  79. Instead of a birthday gifts, ask for donations for a charity or food for a food pantry
  80. Shop fair trade
  81. Offer to decorate hospital hallways during the holidays
  82. Ask your city about volunteering to remove graffiti
  83. Host a Lemon-AID stand and donate proceeds Blood Water
  84. Make no-sew fleece blankets for Hospice
  85. Collect pencils for African children
  86. Send a care package to our military
  87. Read the Bible together as a family every day
  88. Collect shoes for Shoes for Kids (started by an 11 year old girl)
  89. Let kids choose a charity to donate to for one of their Christmas gifts
  90. Become a foster family
  91. Pay for someone’s drink in Starbuck’s drive-thru. Make sure your kids enjoy the act of kindness.
  92. Help your kids starts a neighborhood or school Bible Study with their peers
  93. Volunteer to plant flowers for your school/church flowerbeds
  94. Make a Care Bag for a child in need
  95. Adopt a child
  96. Welcome home a hero at the airport
  97. Complain less
  98. Start a Kindness Club with your family
  99. Let your light shine!
  100. Look for opportunities to be the difference in someone’s life
  101. Host a virtual food drive
  102. Start a KidzRap on your street!
  103. Purchase gifts through families fundraising for adoption.
  104. Make a quilt for NICU familes
  105. Pay the toll for the car behind you
  106. Invite friends to Vacation Bible School
  107. Help keep families together
  108. Take someone flowers from your garden
  109. Participate in Operation Christmas Child

What did I miss? Leave your ideas in the comments and I’ll add them!

When Life is Heavy and Hard to Take

Because sometimes life is-heavy and hard to take.

It can be rock heavy like a diagnosis or feather heavy like a willful child displaying their, um, will in public (okay, VBS this week. Ahem).

But heavy is heavy and it’s hard to take.

I have good news: Lamentations Chapter 3. Yes, the book of the Bible I usually don’t seek out for devotional reading, unless I’m lamenting. For the win.

When life is heavy and hard to take,

go off by yourself. Enter the silence.

Bow in prayers. Don’t ask questions.

Wait for hope to appear.

Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.

The “worst” is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return.

If he works severely, he also works tenderly. He takes no pleasure in making life hard.

It’s like a 5-step program. Sign me up!

  1. Go off by yourself-find solitude
  2. Enter the silence-stop talking
  3. Bow in prayer-only say what matters
  4. Wait for hope-oh, so hard
  5. Don’t run away-even when that’s the easy choice

So I’ve been practicing this 5-step program this week and I got very encouraging news from test results that my kidney function has returned to normal and even better, stayed at normal the last week. (Yes, we are hoping to reschedule our trip soon!)

Meanwhile some beautiful, truly amazing things are happening at Mercy House Kenya. Basically, I’m learning that by NOT being there, nothing has really changed: God is still building a house of mercy and girls lives are being changed. Please, take a minute to Meet Our Girls (we have 3 residents now!). And read about their amazing first week in the Sustainable Skills Program! Would you take a minute to pray for them?

Because our worst doesn’t touch their worst.

And sometimes that perspective is all we need.

WFMW: Summer Cooking Tip

I don’t know about y’all, but by the time dinner rolls around at my house in my part of Texas, it is hot outside. Like a million degrees, give or take one or two. The last thing I want to do, is bake at 350 (no offense, Bridget).

Here’s what we’ve been doing: bulk grilling.

I marinated a couple of pounds, seasoned another pound and put barbeque sauce on a couple of pounds. I grilled them (or my hubby did to be exact) and we just used the grilled meat in different recipes all week.

*Only this is a reprint from last summer, and while I love the tip, we eat vegan/vegetarian dinners now to help my hubby with his diabetes. So, basically, I cook brown rice in bulk and heat up veggie patties. Or smeat, as some like to call it. Sorry if I killed your appetite.

Hope it works for you!

View WFMW guidelines here.

When God Doesn’t Make Sense

I’m just going to say it: Sometimes I don’t get God.

Oh, I try. I line up my limited understanding and my perfectly planned to-do list next to His revealed path and sometimes, it’s a terrible matching game.

So, spending this past week in a hospital bed for five days, hooked up to continuous iv fluids, working round the clock to revive my shutdown kidneys (WHAT!?@), I whispered it. “God, this doesn’t make sense.”

I don’t understand why the day before we were to leave for Africa to do work at Mercy House, I went into acute renal failure, as a perfectly healthy young woman. This doesn’t make sense.

As a last-minute precaution, knowing I had a long flight the next day, I made an unplanned visit to Urgent Care to have my lower back pain and nagging nausea checked out. Nothing could have prepared me for a “You will end up on dialysis or worse if you go to Africa tomorrow” speech from an ER doctor.

I knew I should be overwhelmed with thankfulness that I didn’t have this unexpected health crisis in a third-world country. I was, I am–thankful. But it’s all layered with a bunch of confusion and anger as to why it had to happen and the terrible timing.

When my Pastor sat at the end of my bed, I asked him, chin trembling, faith-weakened. Is this satan attacking or is this God’s plan?

He quoted, “The enemy can take no advantage but what the Lord permits him; and He will permit him none but what He designs to overrule for your greater advantage in the end.” – John Newton… His timing was perfect, Kristen.”

Ultimately, the how and why still don’t make sense to me, but I trust Him. I don’t want my plan-it’s one-sided and error-filled.

I want His plan, even if it’s hard. Because in the end, it’s better.

When God doesn’t make sense, He is still God.

[Insert painful dose of honesty] I’M AN EMOTIONAL MESS, Y’ALL….trying to find my bearings and figure out what’s next. I’m waiting on further test results to try and figure out this medical mystery while ironically, feeling very good. I’m also hoping to be cleared to re-schedule our trip. Trying to get needed supplies over, Skyping meetings I thought I’d have in person….

I’ve cried and whined and reminded myself to trust. I’ve felt bitter and angry and relieved and anxious. And finally, just a night or two ago, I whispered it, “What do I need to learn from this, God? What are you trying to teach me?”

I’m leaning into the answer. He is revealing my need for ultimate trust, my desire to control the uncontrollable, my dependency on too much of me, not enough of Him. And the simple fact that I haven’t truly rested in a year.

He is still the One I trust.

Even when I don’t understand.


A month ago, I wrote a post for (in)courage about darkness and finding my way around in it. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence.