WFMW: Yes to the Unknown

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Tanya for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I sat across the desk from a caseworker who asked if I would care for my friend’s child. My friend and her husband had made some decisions that compromised their health. While they worked to regain their well-being, their child needed a home.

In the span of moments, I breathed a prayer while dialing my husband. I explained to him the decision we needed to make in the next 60 seconds. He says, “What do you want to do? I’ll back you up, either way.”

I said, “I think we are supposed to do this. Our friends need to see “Jesus with skin on” because they have been lost in a dark, dark place. They need to see the light of Christ standing in the gap, not just someone spouting “I’ll pray for you” platitudes.” My husband agreed.

Kristen says, “There were times it was downright scary and it didn’t feel safe.
Saying yes will cost you something. It will challenge and stretch you.”

I gathered up all of my courage and told the caseworker, “Okay. We’ll keep him.”

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Those words were my yes. I knew my yes would change things for the toddler we would care for. But I didn’t know my yes would change me, change my husband, change my children – for the better. Those words helped all of us step out of our comfortable, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-entitled suburban way of life.

As Kristen said“This journey has taught me so much about my family.” In the months since we said yes, our family has lost much. We’ve lost hours of sleep. We’ve lost a sippy cup and diaper-free household. We’ve lost a few date nights. We’ve lost carefree, lazy weekends. We’ve lost family vacations.

However, when compared, we have gained so much more. We’ve gained hours of laughter and giggles. We’ve gained an energetic routine. We’ve gained a little firecracker that keeps us on our toes. We’ve gained the wonder of seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler. We’ve gained a common goal that allows us to work together as a family to help others. We’ve gained the knowledge that God gives us what we need, when we ask him for it.

Occasionally, we forget how all of this started. We start worrying about details. We worry about how all of this will turn out in the end. We worry his parents won’t get better and that he will become a ward of the state. And truthfully, some days we worry they will get better and the daily noise and chaos we have come to enjoy will fade away. We worry about what his life and our life will be like when he returns home. We worry about the things we can’t control.

But here’s the deal: when God is in it,
He doesn’t need us to control a thing.”
Kristen Welch, Rhinestone Jesus.

In those moments when we forget, God always finds a way to remind us. He is present. He knows about it all. He’s in control. He reminds us that our job is to trust him and to obey his call – all we have to do is say yes.

Author Bio: Tanya Ehrler is a wife and mother. She spends her days homeschooling her two boys, and tries to live out her life’s motto: Love God, Serve Others, Show the Way.

Tanya blogs at Truly, TexasTanya and writes about family, homeschooling, adoption, foster care, photography and her occasional dabbling in the kitchen.

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Fair Trade Friday

When I was in Kenya with my family a few weeks ago, I gave a hint about something that was coming soon.

And it’s here. Now.

More than a year ago, God dropped an idea in my heart.

I had this crazy - overwhelming, overpowering desire to empower women all over the world with opportunity and employment in the name of Jesus.

And I had no idea what that meant.

I had more questions than answers.

But I wasn’t able to shake this truth: While it’s often easy to give people in poverty what they need; it’s empowering to help them meet their own needs.

They don’t need more charity. They need more opportunity.

The two homes in Kenya that Mercy House supports are full with mothers, mothers-to-be, babies and toddlers. It’s a wonderful kind of hard when we are at capacity. It means we are helping, but it also means there are others hurting.

There is a heartbreaking slum at the base of the mountain from our beautiful new home. And now every Friday, the Mercy House staff is taking mercy to 12 new young single moms who live less than a mile from our organization. They are being introduced to God, they are learning skills and they are finding hope.

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And on the other side of the world, at the same time, in a small, packed room, the same thing is happening with displaced refugee moms.

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And it’s happening in Ethiopia, India…

Have you ever felt so passionate about something that it scares you?

This is it for me.

It’s called Fair Trade Friday.

fair trade flags

What: An affordable subscription-based club that delivers a box of beautiful fair trade product created by women we support, delivered by  the first Friday of every month (starting in September)! Check out the options.

Why: Fair Trade Friday exists as an avenue for women to empower women.  We are tackling poverty through job opportunity and empowerment rather than enablement. 100% of the proceeds support the artisans, hundreds of women and children from all over the world. FTF is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya.

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When I think about what $30 or $60 a month means to these young mothers–how it will help them meet basic needs for their children–I can’t help but think this is a bit of Heaven on earth.

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Plus, it’s really cute stuff.

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And fun mail!

It’s like Stitchfix or Birchbox that changes the world.

The club has a limited membership (we will continue to expand in the near future), so join today!

(Sorry, this is limited to the USA only).

P.S. You can expect your box by the first Friday of September if you have a prepaid membership. If you sign up today to become a monthly member, you will get the introductory box around August 21 and your first club box in September!


25 Summer Hacks For Moms

We went swimming yesterday.

Which also doubles as bathing.

Because summer.

And we had popcorn, which obviously counts as dinner.

That made me think of all the great shortcuts summer allows.

summer hacks

And then I asked the brilliant moms in my Facebook community to share their summer hacks.

So, I give you awesome:

  1. Leftover birthday cake is breakfast.
  2. Toweling the floor after a bath equals mopping.
  3. Playing with your kids counts as a workout.
  4. Raisins double as vegetables.
  5. Waking up a little later every day, so instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner, we’re eating just two larger meals each day. With snacks like yogurt, string cheese, trail mix etc, when needed.
  6. Make-Your-Own-Breakfast was such a hit, we added Make-Your-Own-Lunch.
  7. Getting to the library semi-regularly equals the homeschooling structure you were going to keep over the summer.
  8. Playing in the rain or with a hose counts as bath time. It also waters the yard.
  9. Let your boys wear just their underwear to bed. Less laundry!
  10. Or dress in shorts and t-shirt to bed. Already dressed in the morning.
  11. Sandals! No washing socks!
  12. More outside time means less messes created inside to pick up.
  13. Berry picking farms….kids stay busy, they leave full – on fruit, no less! and you have dessert for a few days with some ice cream or cobbler-making.
  14. Visit Costco or Whole Foods when they are passing out samples=free lunch!
  15. Watermelon for lunch.
  16. PJs -> swimsuits -> PJs. Repeat the next day.
  17. Ice cream sundaes once in a while for dinner=happy kids &  “Mom of the Year” award. Win-win for everyone!
  18. Having the older kids read to the youngest to “practice” their reading.
  19. Swim naked in the backyard. Less laundry.
  20. Put soap in the baby pool=bath
  21. Trade screen time for kids for house cleaning chores.
  22. Spirited running through sprinklers = Homeschool PE.
  23. Cereal: a meal or snack.
  24. Jammies all day .
  25. After swim lessons, walk through public shower, put on pj’s, fall asleep in car on way home! No bath, no fighting bed time, no “just one more story, pleeeeeeease!” Grand Slam!

What would you add?

 

*Photo by my friend Taylor Handfelt


WFMW: The God of Second Chances

YesWFMW

I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Lindsey for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

I was not a good mother. Not for a very long time.

Thankfully, He is a God of second chances.

My second chance started on a rainy, gloomy day. My three-year-old son was sitting in time-out for the fourteenth time…and it was only 9:30am. The house was a mess, breakfast was burnt and I hadn’t taken a shower or changed out of pajamas in days.

As hopeless tears started to fall, I decided to cope with my obvious failures by hiding in my dark closet.

It was day 61 of my being a “stay-at-home” mom.

I had been a career girl. I LOVED my job and the validation it brought me. My work reviews were fantastic and I was well liked. By outward appearances I was successful, happy and fulfilled.

The truth was far from that.

I had neglected my marriage and my children for years. Adultery had also led to the implosion of my marriage, a fact that demanded immediate action before I lost everything. So I left that career and walked into the unknown feeling lost, terrified and stripped of my identity. Those feelings grew as the days passed and I fumbled through trying to knit my marriage and life back together.

In that closet I started whispering a small prayer full of hesitant words to a God I barely knew.

I asked for a second chance, for a sign that He was here in the midst of my painful path of obedience.

I asked for a renewed relationship with my children.

I asked for the undeserved gift of many firsts to come to replace all the ones I had missed.

Almost immediately a sliver of light shone promise across my face, as my son peeked into the closet and said “Mommy? Can I come in?” I nodded my head yes and he sat in my lap, talking about the red fire truck he held in his hand. Sharing how it was his favorite toy and showing me all the cool sounds.

As he rambled on with excitement, it hit me.

This was my first conversation with my son that did not involve me yelling at him to be quiet, to obey, or to go away.

Tears started falling again, only this time they were full of joy. God was already giving me a second chance — my first “first” — simply because I had asked.

I’m going to let you in on another little secret…

I am a good mother. And have been for a very long time.

While my path has been filled with bad decisions and sorrowful mistakes, I am confident that I am now an equipped mother loved by a glorious God and am reminded of His love to me every time a new “first” occurs.

My prayer for you is to remember God’s presence in YOUR mess.

He is the God of second chances. And He is waiting to give you yours.

 

Bio:

LH Bio Pic.jpgLindsey believes God-inspired words have the power to bring hope and healing to a broken world. She spends her days loving her family, listening to classical music, pretending to clean, writing to God and helping authors create and share life-changing messages.

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5 Things I’m Learning in This Dance With My Strong-Willed Daughters

I see the anger before I feel it. Her fists clench at her side and her dark eyes flash.

I brace myself because I know what’s coming.

Some times it happens when I say the word no or when I say you can’t.

Her passion erupts and she fights hard for what she wants.

She’s not the only one.

I take deep breaths and try to remain calm, controlled.

But she pushes. And I push back.

Words and attitude can be daggers to a heart.

Hers and mine.

I take the bait.

We battle.

I have two daughters, both strong-willed. Both like me.

girls.

Wavy hair. Olive skin. Dark brown eyes. Same nose. We even share identical birthmarks.

But our similarities run much deeper. We are short-tempered. Passionate. We want life to be fair and just. We are fighters. We want our way. We long for control.

And in those strong-willed moments–when daughters demand their way–their strength amplifies my weakness.

Some days we laugh and push through the tough moments. Other days are filled with harsh words and regret.

And I know as I certain as I stand in my kitchen arguing with one of my strong-willed daughters, there will be no winners.

In moments like these when we fight for what we want, we both lose.

When we put our will above all else. we leave a wake of casualties.

Battle-weary, we find a place of peace and talk through the damage of our words. We say our “I’m sorry’s” and we end up stronger in our weakness. I am not her captain or her companion, I am her cavalier, her company and we are on the same side. We are not enemies. It is not my way or hers.

I’m not a teacher on this strong-willed dance floor. I’m a student. Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. Not everything is a battle–but it can be if we make it one. If we are in constant battle about the same things–messy rooms, laundry and attitude, we might win a few, but it might cost us a relationship. Leave the small things, small. That’s not to say we let them have their way all the time, instead we focus on what really matters.
  2. Not everything is personal–but it can be if we take offense. That eye roll or audible sigh–it’s normal. That doesn’t make it right or less frustrating. But most words flung are coming from a hurt or misunderstood place. If we choose to be offended by every word or action, we are choosing something much bigger. Look past the words and get to the heart of the hurt.
  3. Not everything can be won–and if we try to win it all, we will ultimately lose. We are raising, unique, one-of-a-kind girls who will surprise and satisfy us. We have to step back and let them learn and grow and mess up. Most of all, we have to help them find the beauty in every place, especially the hard ones.
  4. Not everything is eternal–but everything is significant. Things in her world might seem small to us. And they probably are–that zit, that boy, that mean girl, that first B on her report card. But if we make what’s important to her insignificant to us, we wound.
  5. Not everything is understood and that’s why listening is the best gift. We may not always understand the drama, the emotion, the passion over the trivial. And that’s okay. We can offer them what they really want and need–it’s not a fix to their problem, it’s a listening ear. Some times the best thing we can do is close our mouth and let them talk.

I’m raising strong-willed daughters. And I’m discovering their passion and determination are the very things that carry them through their toughest times. I’m watching them deflect the world, stand against cultural norms and leave a mark on those they impact. They shine.

And more than ever, I need to remember what the fight is really about.