Yes: One Year Later {Huge Giveaway}

Updated with Winners: Congrats to random commenters Leslie, Becky, Chelsea, Kendra and Lindsey

A few weeks after turning in my Rhinestone Jesus manuscript, my memoir about obedience to God, I visited refugees in Houston, relocated by the United Nations an hour from my home.

I was deeply moved not just by their poverty, but by their courage.

But I argued with God the whole way home.

What can I do to help them? I’m so busy. I’m already living out my yes.

But I’d been down that road before and I ended up with the question I couldn’t answer: How can I not help them?

qyY8BxeJepvsylIJnjFGeI-oOH5FW35bSCymN9bkDEo-600x399

And so God used my own book about obedience to help me say yes again. 

That was over a year ago and that yes led to another and Fair Trade Friday was born and more than 1300 women are currently linking arms with Mercy House every month to empower and employ women all around the world like this Ethiopian artisan group we visited last week (they loved their Dayspring bags!)

ethiopianartisans

That yes led to my husband quitting his secure, well-paying job to lead the growing organization we started in 2010. It has led to helping more pregnant girls in Kenya.

ZGLnRhp1au3nju0e5YRiqmtqbrkQi5oYIqFxnNnvVJc

His yes led me to my next… a parenting book about gratitude and entitlement-possibly my most challenging yes to date. Because kids are hard.

A few weeks ago, I turned in my parenting manuscript and our family turned in an application to Catholic Charities to begin the process to foster an unaccompanied minor from a refugee camp–just typing those words–makes my heart pound.

But its been the small, daily yeses that have drawn me closer to God.

Yes, you can have more ice cream. Yes, I will forgive you for lying about cleaning up  your room. Yes, I will play Legos with you.

I keep thinking I’m done answering yes. But He keeps asking and pushing me deeper.

I’m not very good at faking brave. Every yes has scared me to death. Every yes has stretched me further than I thought possible. Every yes has drawn me to the feet of Jesus.

Every yes is without regret.

One year ago today, my book was released to the world. A few of you have sent words and stories about your yes to God. And it’s encouraged me to keep saying it. So, obviously, I completely blame you.

Here are 9 reasons other moms think you need to read Rhinestone Jesus today:

  • It will make you feel better about your messy marriage, motherhood and mission
  • It will challenge you to find that place where your passion and skills collide
  • It will inspire you to parent with intention and lead your family to find their greatest purpose
  • It might lead you to have a good cry (we all need that occasionally, right?)
  • Hopefully, it will cause at least one hearty belly laugh (and I’m not just referring to the scary picture of me with a home perm holding a doll)
  • It will stir up gratitude for what you have instead of disappointment for what you don’t
  • It will make you want to say yes to God today, right where you are
  • It will help you evaluate what matters most
  • It will support this ministry

IMG_9197

To celebrate, brave words and small yeses, big hopes and quiet dreams, I’m giving away FIVE prize packages: a signed copy of Rhinestone Jesus, Dayspring’s bestselling letterpress letters that spell the world “yes”, Dayspring’s gorgeous Micah 6:8 poster, a paper bead necklace created by the maternity home residents in Kenya, a bracelet from a Mercy House community outreach and Dayspring’s “Change the World” tablet decal.

To enter, tell me about your yes. (Remember, there are no big or small in Kingdom living. Every yes counts).

You never know who it will inspire.

The One Thing We All Have In Common {Giveaway}

Congrats to the random comment #25 Misty and #151 Nicki!

I’ve met women from all around the world.

Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been amazed at the differences-from the foods we eat, to the way we live.

Some walk with jugs of water on their heads, while others scoop it from a river or catch it in rain containers on their roofs.

Some cook at stoves with propane tanks sitting at their feet, while others lean over a jako and stir their pots over charcoal.

Some go to the bathroom in pit latrine, while others use a concrete hole in the ground or a bidet.

Some wear scarves covering their heads, while others wear bright traditional fabric or second hand clothes from the market.

one thing we all have in common

There are more differences than I can count.

And yet, we share important things in common: We have hopes and dreams and we would do anything for our children.

harmony bracelet-1This universal language of motherhood is breathtaking. It’s the dance of sacrifice and bravery and it’s the same in every language.

I met an Ethiopian woman a few days ago who had given birth the week before in her tiny hut. Her little 8 year old was in the sponsorship program we visited and told us her mother was very sick. When we visited her home balanced precariously on the side of a steep ledge, she was feverish and desperately sick with mastitis in her infected and swollen breasts.

And yet, in her suffering, she continued to feed her newborn baby, even when she wasn’t able to feed herself.

africa-01

Because that’s what mothers do.

We sacrifice.

We put our kids before ourselves.

We give them more than we had.

We risk our lives if it means giving our children the chance to live.

Love in any language is the same.

And that’s the one thing we all have in common.

state leather cuff webToday, The Vintage Pearl, a long time friend and supporter of Mercy House, is helping me celebrate this beautiful thing called motherhood. Join me in remembering our sisters around the globe and this precious thing we have in common.

The Vintage Pearl is giving away two $50 gift certificates. Please leave a comment mentioning a mother in your life that has inspired you.

Use code “WATF15″ for 15% off through 4/24. Today is the last day to order to receive by Mother’s Day.

Some Days My Marriage Isn’t Awesome

Congrats to random t-shirt winners: #301 Amy and #151 Jill!

There it is again in my Facebook feed. This time it’s a selfie with her husband and her status reads, “The best date ever! My marriage is awesome. #always”

my marriage isn't always awesome

Sure, it’s sweet. And I love a good marriage shoutout. But every time I see the “perfectly happy marriage” update, I want to say, please tell me you argue over who is letting the dog out at 2am or confess that sometimes just the way he breathes is hashtag annoying.

We probably all have friends who seem to have the most awesome marriage all the time. Every day is flowers and romance with him remembering every little thing and her sweetly ignoring every little thing he forgets. There is never arguing or irritating. It’s hashtag awesome.

First of all, I’m not so sure this kind of marriages exist.

I have been married 20 years. I have a great marriage. I have the t-shirt to prove it.

But some days my marriage is not awesome.

We don’t always communicate well, live selflessly enough, or remember to just be nice to each other .

We don’t always agree over financial issues, have sex enough, see eye-to-eye on parenting stuff.

Just the other day, there was a kitchen standoff because he heard the trash can lid close and asked me if I put the empty container in the can while he was getting a liner. I had the empty container in my hand and I held it up like a boss. Proof. Ha! He walked over to the trashcan and opened it. He leaned over and retrieved the empty bottle of Ranch Dressing I had just dropped in there. He was disgusted. And strangely enough, I had no recollection of putting it in there. This is a Thing in our house.

We’ve argued over less important things, if you can believe it.

Yeah. So maybe my marriage isn’t awesome everyday.

But that’s okay.

Because perhaps our greatest strength is that we know this and we still try anyway.

Marriage isn’t awesome because it’s perfect. It’s awesome because we keep at it.

It works because we don’t give up. We push through the long, hard days. We forgive selfishness and try to be less selfish. We ignore little annoyances and try to be less annoying.

All marriages have bad days. But every morning is a new chance for an awesome day. And when we have them we should share the happy moments instead of dwelling on the not-so-good ones.

So, the next time we are scrolling down our feeds and we see that friend’s happy marriage status, let’s go ahead and like it. Because maybe that’s what she’s doing.

—FUN MARRIAGE GIVEAWAY—

kiss

What do you love about your spouse today (even if you have to think hard)? Tell me in the comments on this post and two commenters will be randomly chosen to win a $25 gift certificate towards marriage shirts at Union28. Or get 15% any of my favorite “My Husband/Wife Rocks” shirts with code:U28WATF15. Plus, they have a big sale going on right now (shirts under $9!)

These Are a Few Of My Favorite Things {Giveaway}

Today is going to be fun.

Most of the gifts I’m giving for Christmas this year are things I love and use myself that are faith-based, fair trade or support a cause I believe in.

So, I thought it would be fun to give away a few of my favorite things. (over $300 value)

favoritethings

One lucky reader will win everything pictured (color and style may vary from picture):

Please visit each of these links and enter below!

1. Hand knit scarf from The Refugee Project- this is the local ministry I’m involved in

2. Burlap iPad case made by women in Ethiopia

3. Fair Trade Friday Gift Box- Every box comes with 3-4 amazing items made by women all over the world.

4. An apron that changes the world- made by girls who have aged out of a Rwandan orphanage.

5. My favorite handmade soap made by families in Zambia (their lip balm is amazing too)

6. An autographed Book to Inspire-this book supports the work of Mercy House.

7. Words Matter Letterpress Blocks I’m giving meaningful words away this Christmas.

8. Shine Necklace -I love this inspiring Dayspring line.

9. Laline Milk Body Scrub-My Russian friends who are making disciples in Israel gave this to me and I love it. It’s made from salt from the Dead Sea.

10. My favorite everyday gold hoop earrings empowering survivors of modern day slavery

11. A squirrel pendant carved from a nut made by artisans in Ecuador

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Blog Birthday to Us {Giveaway & an Opportunity to Change the World}

This month, We are THAT family is celebrating seven years of blogging.

7 years.

I’ve written more than 2500 blog posts, read more than 150,000 comments and deleted more than 1,000,000 spam.

I’ve embarrassed myself.

I’ve been wrecked. 

I’ve been inspired as you’ve helped make this a reality in the last few years.

We’ve been through a lot together. Some days, I feel like I’ve said it all. And others, I feel like I’m just getting started.

Blogging has changed my life. And it has given me the opportunity to change the lives of others.

This online journey reminds me that I’m not alone.

And it inspires me to remind others they are not forgotten.

Here’s to 7 more years!

For past blog birthday celebrations, I’ve given you gifts (thanks to generous sponsors of this blog). Today, I’m giving you the opportunity to be the gift.

JoinTheClubTodayBig

I’ve told you about our super fun (and wildly successful) Fair Trade Friday Club. Its had a waiting list since the day we launched and now has hundreds of members empowering hundreds and hundreds of women in more than a dozen countries! Today, to celebrate, I’m giving you the chance to join me in changing the world for some of the poorest women across the globe…like these beautiful Ethiopian women who are Fair Trade Friday partners who wanted to say thank you:

10659412_1395813833991094_7381095833801087587_n

We have a very exclusive number of High-End Fair Trade Friday boxes available for purchase. High-End boxes are different than our monthly boxes because they contain 4 higher priced items (think the best Christmas gifts ever!)

Diptic copy 2

Each box is valued at $137 each. We are selling them for just $84 dollars (priority shipping included). Not only can you knock out some of your Christmas list, the first 68 people who purchase one today, get this cute burlap clutch made by women in Ethiopia (additional $24 value ).

IMG_7548

So, that’s $161 of life-changing cuteness (which means you’re getting 5 items for around $15 each!!) well below retail.

Get yours and celebrate this amazing opportunity to make a difference in the world (and look cute while doing it!) I know that’s a lot of money and Christmas is still two months away, so I’m also giving away TWO of these fabulous boxes today. Enter below. 

Join the FTF wait list today and spread the word about Fair Trade Friday. It’s a beautiful way to change the world.

Happy blog birthday to us!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WFMW: The Two Words That Changed My Life {Giveaway}

YesWFMW

Today, we are taking a break from our Yes Works For Me stories, so I can share with you two words that have changed my life and give away a beautiful word to one of you. Make sure you leave a comment as your entry!

[Updated with Winner: Congrats to Hannah, random commenter #311]

We had just finished speaking, Maureen and I, tag-teaming, sharing the Mercy House story over and over the past few weeks. We not only wanted to bring awareness to the countless impoverished women in the world, we also wanted to inspire people hearing our words to join the story.

The lady waited her turn and pulled me aside afterwards, “What really changed your life? What woke you up? What was it?”

It’s a hard question. But the answer came easily.

Two words, I whisper.

I love words.  I love reading them. I love writing them.

But mostly, I love living them.

They are powerful. They speak death or give life.

Words guide us.

For nearly 5 years, two words have led my feet on a hard, beautiful journey. I’ve gone deeper than I ever wanted, stretched further than I thought possible and been more fulfilled than I ever dreamed.

IMG_2846-600x400

Love. Mercy.

I love these two words… I understand love. I long for mercy. I can give both to others.

These two words have changed my life.

lovemercy

And the lives of others.

SBP_2373small

Don’t think for a moment that your words aren’t important.

Your words matters.

What you say with your lips, write on a screen, scribble in a book, jot in a thank you note, they are powerful.

When we start with The Word. Our words can change the world.

———————————————

image001

Dayspring’s new (in)Courage Words Matter Letterpress Blocks are stunning. They chose the two words for me that are now hanging over my bed for me. I cried when I opened the mail.

Today, they are giving away $50 to one of you because your words matter. 

Click below to look at the awesome variety of letters:

Leave a comment with “your word” as your entry.

Blog Elevated Conference Ticket Giveaway

Blog-Elevated-2014-Conference-copy

Congrats to random commenter #12, Geralyn!

I’m excited to be speaking at the Blog Elevated Conference in Galveston, Texas in a couple of weeks! Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or a brand new one, the Blog Elevated Conference has something for everyone. There are sessions on:

In my keynote, I will be sharing how to “Use Your Blog to Change the World.” I’m honored to share my blogging story and where it has taken me and I pray it inspires others to blog for good.

agenda2

Check out the other speakers here and registration details here.

And the event will be at the lovely Moody Gardens Hotel.

moody-garden-3

GET YOUR TICKET TODAY!

Today, I’m happy to be giving away a full conference pass to one lucky reader! It’s a $249 value and includes:

  • Welcoming reception on Thursday, Sept. 25
  • All sessions and breakouts on Friday, Sept. 26
  • Friday night party
  • All sessions and breakouts on Saturday, Sept. 27
  • 18 sessions in all, with a blogging track, social media track, and visual/design track!

Leave a comment for your entry. This giveaway will end in 24 hours.

Navigating Technology With Our Kids in a Screen-Obsessed World

*Updated with Winners* Congrats to random commenters Tanya and Ami!

My oldest daughter got her first school locker at 5th grade orientation at the new middle school.  She nervously worked her combination and adjusted the books on her white locker shelf and added a mirror on the door. I’ll never forget the day four years ago—not because it was a big deal that she was growing up. Because it was. But I remember it more because of how grown up the other kids around her seemed.

The girl next to her had fake nails, hair highlights was wearing name brand clothes head-to-toe and had was going to take notes on a tablet. And at the locker below her, a girl was texting her boyfriend on her iPhone. It felt more like a scene from high school musical than the 5th grade.

little girl behind a tablet pc

I silently prayed I could keep my little girl little and we could navigate these adolescent years well. And we have so far.

When she asked for certain brands, we talked about budgets and saving and through the years she enjoyed a few. When she asked for a smart phone, we told her high school and thankfully, she hasn’t asked for fake nails or a boyfriend yet.

We recognized along the journey that some parents said yes sooner than we did and others said it later. And that’s okay. Because there’s not a perfect age or stage and we are all doing the best we can. I think it depends on what’s right for your family.

I’m not saying it was easy. It was just plain hard at times. I think my daughter must have asked for something we weren’t quite ready to give her a hundred times during those middle school years. We would remind her of our goal. The requests lessened in junior high.

That’s why surprising her a few days ago before she started high school with her own smart phone was a joy for all of us. She was shocked. But she was ready and the moment felt like victory for all of us.

Along with her phone we gave her this contract. It requires phone etiquette and usage rules and where and when it’s appropriate. We all signed it.

It’s just a matter of time before your child has the power of technology at their fingertips. Whether it’s a game system, a smart phone or a Kindle or a laptop, technology is more accessible than ever and it’s here to stay. Every parent reading this handles is differently.  It’s not a question of if, it’s a matter of when.

I love technology. It’s a huge part of my life and I certainly don’t want to rob my kids of the good things that it offers. But more than anything, I want them to understand the power it wields, the dangers that are a click away and make sure they are mature enough to handle it.

It’s a big subject that changes as fast as the next upgrade and it’s our job to not only monitor our kids, but to live by example.

Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane helped us with this decision. This summer I read (and endorsed) this important book and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s like curriculum for parents in our tech-savvy and screen-obsessed world and it released this week!

In my daughter’s cell phone contract, we asked that she wait on a Facebook account until she was older, but gave permission for an Instagram account. After a couple of days, she said, “Mom, I’m going to wait on that too. I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet.”

And I knew we’d waited long enough. She was ready.

Today, I’m giving away two copies of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World. Leave a comment if you’d like to win.