Folding Paper for Clean Water {some girls I’d like you to meet}

First of all…the winner of the “Be Still” video is…Helen! I’ve sent you an email Helen, let me know if you got it. For those of you who didn’t win, remember you can go to the online store and for $1 you can watch the 20 minute video, for $7 you can download the video, for $9 you get the DVD. Not bad! Okay on to the post…

Pulling into our driveway I heard a honk behind me. My first thought was, “Oh no, what did I do this time.” I looked out my side mirror and saw a kind woman smiling back at me from her minivan. I rolled down my window & she said, “I saw your school sticker! We go to the same school and live on your street. Would you be interested in carpooling?”

Um, yes please. And Thank you Lord!

This sweet family has lived only a few blocks away for the past 7 years. They have 3 girls…3rd grader, 1st grader, and 2-year-old. Before school started and carpooling commenced, we planned a playdate at our house (this is not a picture of my house…).

Watching the girls walk up the sidewalk my boys made marriage plans. I was just as enthusiastic when the first words out of their mom’s mouth were, “Your house is so organized!” (hadn’t I just complained that morning about my home?). At the end of the playdate she commented on how calm I am with the boys!! (didn’t care if she was lying…needed to hear it).

Over the past month as I’ve gotten to know this family more and more, my heart has grown more and more in love. Let me count the ways…

One: Their help. At 7:20 a.m. I simply send Quade out the front door dressed in his uniform with his backpack and they load him up and take him to school! All this while I’m still in my pjs, the baby is still in his crib, and the other boys are just finishing breakfast (in their pjs). SOOO much better than the alternative…hurriedly loading sleepy boys & a hungry baby into our car and barely making it to school on time.

Two. Their hospitality. The first day I drove carpool, Katherine, the 1st grader, invited us over for lunch. I thanked her and suggested she should ask her mom first and perhaps another time. The next week she asked again. Then her mom texted me and formally extended an invitation. Amazingly kind. Just the other day we received a 2nd lunch invitation because they had extra food they wanted to share (brave woman to invite 3 boys into her home to eat lasagna!).

Three. Their hearts.  Last year, while waiting in carpool with their dad, the two older girls learned the japanese art of origami (their dad is one-half Japanese). Each day they folded paper and created ornaments.

Later that year the girls heard about how a child dies every 15 seconds for lack of clean water. They couldn’t allow children to die for lack of water or children to miss school because of how long it took to get clean water.  So they decided to sell their origami ornaments and give 100% of the proceeds to Living Water International to build wells for clean water access. At their first event they sold all their ornaments and raised $700!

In less than 8 months, these two girls raised over $17,000!

There is no such thing as a “junior” Holy Spirit.

I’m in awe of the God-sized dream placed on these girls hearts. Also the willingness of their parents to come alongside them and make it happen. They’ve already built 3 wells in India are and halfway to the 4th! Here is a clip of the girls on Good Morning Texas last week:

(won’t let me embed the video so here is the link: http://www.wfaa.com/video?id=168933726&sec=552757 )

The girls were also given the opportunity to speak about “Paper for Water” at the UNWomen in NYC (the largest chapter) and shared this Scripture,

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

So true. My “God-Centered Mom” challenge, from knowing these girls & their story, is to stop thinking my children are getting in the way of what God has for ME. Frequently I assume He has big plans for me AFTER the kids leave the house. But God could be working right now in my kids & in our family. Perhaps His plans are for my boys to do and I’m supposed to encourage and facilitate them. Instead of being “self-centered” in approaching God’s will for my life…I need to take a step back and see our whole family fulfilling His will. 

I want to show my boys what is going on in the world. I want to teach them interesting skills. I want to guide them to know God & see where He is working & join Him.

What God-sized ideas have your kids suggested lately? Are you willing to empower them to make it happen? How are you drawing your children closer to the heart of God?

Here are a few ways to help Katherine & Isabelle reach their goal of building 28 more wells:

  1. “Like” their Facebook page: Paper for Water (www.facebook.com/paperforwater
  2. Donate to Living Water International (www.water.cc)
  3. If you live in Dallas their ornaments are for sale in the gift shop at the Trammell Crow Center for Asian Art.
  4. Mail them two-sided paper to use to make ornaments. If you cut it into little squares (3×3) even better…it takes 30 pieces of paper to make one ornament. (email me–> button on sidebar if you are interested)

Advertisements

Water Gun Target Practice

Okay, so I know I wasn’t going to post this week…but this idea just happened. Hoping it helps you with over-tired, candy-filled, post-4th of July kiddos.

My boys LOVE their water guns, but they don’t love to get shot in the face with water. In the past, to give them a productive goal, we’ve set up recycled trash as a target to aim at instead of each other. Laughter over tears is my measure of a successful activity.

I saw on Pinterest this idea for drawing a target with chalk on your driveway. Then kids could use toss water balloons at the target. It spurred this idea…

Image

I drew targets with chalk on our fence. One target for each boys (this isn’t my first rodeo…no reason to start an unnecessary fight).

Image

My first version had points system (25 for the center, then 15 in the next ring, then 5…). But the boys didn’t seem to notice. Their goal was to “wash” off the chalk from the fence.

Image

I guess it depends on the age of your kiddos whether they will try to get points by shooting the middle or just enjoy making the chalk disappear. Really doesn’t matter, does it?

Once our targets were washed off I started writing their names in chalk to have them spray off. Then they started drawing their own creations to rinse away.

Hope your little ones find this activity as much fun as mine did…if not, at least you tried something new.

How Childhood Games Reveal Your God-given Ministry

What did you like to play as a child?

Our women’s minister asked us this question. Years ago a seminary professor asked her the same question. She remembered lining her siblings up in chairs & teaching them while her mother cooked dinner. She loved to teach. Yet years of abusive relationships & discouragement had squelched that talent. A gift God had given her laid dormant until she remembered a simple childhood activity.

Stop & think: What childhood game or activity did you enjoy as a child?

As I pondered this question several things came to mind: hours spent exploring the woods behind our house creating worlds & adventures, mothering my 7 Cabbage Patch Dolls, countless hours reading “The Babysitter Club books”, journaling vacation trips, writing down names from tombstones & writing stories about who they were (I know, that’s a weird one!), dressing up & writing plays…

Common threads: creativity, verbal expression & a strong maternal instinct.

This is why I continue to write a blog while I have a six-week-old newborn and three other young children. It feeds my soul and it’s how God created me.

Many people have offered the advice to consider not blogging during this busy season. Their hearts were well-intentioned. It seems like logical advice. Cut back. Simplify my life. But when I heard their suggestion it sounded like they were asking me to stop breathing. To stop being me.

It wasn’t until my women’s minister spoke about individuality and remembering our childhood passions that I understood why I felt that way.

God gave me specific gifts & talents. When I am using those gifts & talents for His glory it is not work it is worship. It is natural and brings me joy.

However, spending my time organizing people’s closets and giving fashion advice…that would be work. Or training for a triathlon… Or planning a wedding…

Jae can organize closets & she and Amber give great fashion advice. Cari loves training for Ironman races. Elizabeth and Carrie can easily plan a wedding. Kathryn and Holly are gifted singers. They all thrive in their element. God is using them uniquely.

From our mother’s wombs God has knit us in such a way to be used for His glory. My knitting pattern is different from yours. We can’t compare them. Both patterns are unique, intricate, and beautiful…but they are completely different.

Don’t assume what seems to be “work” to you is “work” for me. What may seem like a burden to you may be a blessing for me. 

We waste precious time & energy yearning for other’s gifts & talents. Let’s discover our own passions. Embrace them. Be used by Him!

I also want to observe my children. To study what they enjoy playing. To encourage them in their talents & gifts. To remind them how they can be used for Kingdom Building work.

What did you enjoy playing as a child? Are you able to do something similar now that feeds your soul & ministers to others?

Teaching our children to be amused

The other night I attended a parenting seminar at my son’s classical Christian school. What I love about his school is how intentional they are in their approach to educating and training children. I also appreciate their counter-cultural perspective.

However, as a mom of three young children I often make choices that aren’t intentional and frequently follow culture. So I always brace myself before these seminars. I know my “mommy guilt” may raise its ugly head.

The parenting seminar was taught by a husband and wife, Robin & Michael Lewis, who have 4 grown children and who started the school.  Mrs. Lewis began talking about the topic of “amusements.”

She defined “amusements” as “those things that occupy our attention.”

Oh no! One of the topics I struggle with the most…”entertainment”. T.V.? Video games? iPhones? Nintendo DS? Do I let my boys engage in these activities? Is so, how much?

BUT instead of saying “T.V. is bad” or “Don’t let your kids play video games”. She took a different approach…

1) Look at the probable outcome

When thinking about amusing our children or giving them choices of amusement we need to think about where that choice leads.

For example: If I hand my 2-year-old an iPhone to play a game or watch a movie while his brothers are in Taekwondo, where does that choice lead? What will he be amused by when he is 6 or 10 or 21?

What about when my boys are bored and they only think to watch a T.V. show or play a video game? What will they choose for entertainment as adult men? Only something with a screen?

She emphasized that “lifelong habits are being formed now” (no pressure ;)).

2) Take the time to teach them new amusements

In order to expose our children to a wider variety of entertainment options, Mrs. Lewis suggested spending 15 minutes once a week teaching or showing them a new skill. If there is something you enjoy, share it with them.

3) Fill your home with quality choices

Instead of playing “games of chance” (like Candy Land) with our children, Mrs. Lewis suggested we should offer them strategy games. 

This was a revolutionary idea for me. As a speech-language pathologist I own many “games of chance”. Candy Land, for example, is a great game to play during speech therapy…I could set the deck so the child would win, the turns were short and the directions were simple.

But she presented a new perspective…we need to teach our children to think when they play games. She gave the example of her son and his friend that played strategy games for hours on the weekends. Now her son’s friend works for the U.S. Government state department planning international strategy.

She also suggested choosing toys with “multiple play” value. Toys such as: blocks, balls, soldiers, Legos, costumes, and even big pieces of fabric/blankets. These toys provide more opportunities to engage their imagination and creativity.

4) Amusements should spiral towards home

When introducing amusements to your family, Mrs. Lewis suggested making choices that direct your children into your home, not away from home. Every family has talents and interests. We should be sharing those with our children and engaging in those interests as a family.

For example, perhaps you enjoy cooking, gardening, or traveling. If you cook together or travel together, you develop a common love. As your children grow, she suggests, they will be more likely to choose to be home and engaging in these family interests over being with their friends.

Okay. So how do you feel? guilt? burdened? I hope not!

I’ve found that in the week since I heard her speak I haven’t made drastic changes…my boys still watch T.V. and play video games. BUT it has shaped my daily choices.

My goal in sharing it here is to provide a different perspective than the one our culture is giving. To encourage you that you can make a difference in training your children in their amusements. To empower you. To inspire you. Definitely NOT to overwhelm you.

The last piece of advice from Mrs. Lewis:

“Each day pray for wisdom in parenting your children. The two biggest deterrents to good parenting: 1) pride 2) not praying for wisdom”

**For a little humor check out this updated version of “Goodnight Moon”…called “Goodnight iPad”:

5 Must-Have Soul-Moving Songs {by Christa Wells/Nicole Witt}

In October when I attended the Relevant Conference, not only were some of my “blogging”  questions answered, I was introduced to some amazing music.

Two women who sang directly to my soul were Christa Wells & Nicole Witt. They performed a song that I only had to hear once for it to stick. Since hearing it the first time the words have been replaying in my head for months. The lyrics perfectly described the feeling of gathering with other kindred spirits to know Him and make Him known.

 “We come in pieces. We come in fragments. We come discolored. To the foot of the cross. Our maker sees us. All we have been. Bonds us together. The image of God.”

I searched the web trying to find these gorgeous songs of worship only to turn up empty handed. I even contacted Christa and Nicole via twitter desperate to hear them once again.

Last week I was blessed with the best gift…to review the newly released “Image of God” EP by Christa and Nicole

The 5 songs on this EP are magical. Christa & Nicole’s voices harmonize in angelic fashion.  The piano and violin instrumentals are smooth and transcendent.

Both ladies are well-known for their song-writing. Christa was named 2006 GMA Songwriter of the year and has written songs for the well-known Christian artists: “Point of Grace”, “Natalie Grant” and “Selah.” Nicole has written songs for several well-known Country artists: “George Strait”, “Lauren Alaina”, and “Collin Raye”.

Needless to say the lyrics for each song are poignantly written. In addition, the melodies are contagious. Combined you have God’s truth etched into your heart.

One song that is unique from the others, is the upbeat and soulful “Set Free.” This is a song that makes you want to loudly sing with your hands raised, dancing down the aisle of a Gospel church. Along with the music, the message is uplifting.

“By the love that came and died and rose again. So we could be set free. We know the truth now. His Spirit moves now. We are no longer slave to fear. Go and serve your neighbor. Let love be your labor.”

“Dawn of Grace” highlights the delicate harmony that Christa and Nicole produce along with mesmerizing violin solos. The song tells the story of the fruitlessness of our efforts and His rescue through grace in our lives.

The song “Lay Us Low” is another favorite of mine given the topic of pride/humility that echoes my blog’s mission. It’s a cry out to God to not allow us to get caught up in ourselves and to betray what He is doing in our lives.

The last song is a deep and meaningful version of the Lord’s Prayer, entitled simply “Pray”. The repetition of this song awakens your soul to listen to what is actually being said. To dwell on the richness of a familiar portion of Scripture.

If you are looking for some new songs and a new artist to listen to I would highly recommend this collaboration between Christa Wells and Nicole Witt…”Image of God”.

You may go online now to pre-order and receive a digital copy with a CD mailed out starting December 27th.

Get your digital copy today. Dwell on Him this week. Prepare your hearts for Him. Make Christmas more about His presence with us and His deliverance.

Few Favorites Friday: November 18th

1. Free Book!

Yesterday I wrote a book review of “Grace Based Parenting”. Family Matters offered to give a free copy of the book to one of my readers. If you are interested in winning a copy, make sure you leave a comment on that post: Grace Based Parenting {Book Review}.

2. Marbles

I bought a bag of marbles from Toys ‘R Us for a dollar. We made a “circle” with masking tape on the floor. The boys had a great time using the shooter marble to knock the marbles out of the circle. Ageless, simple fun.

3. Egg Carton Boats

My eldest son decided he wanted to build a boat out of an old egg carton. We cut off the top off the egg carton. Then we cut a sail out of paper, he drew on it and we taped it to a skewer. We stuck the skewer in middle of the bottom of the egg carton.

The boys wanted to see them “sail” so we put them in the bathtub…unfortunately these cartons were made of paper not foam. The result: soggy egg carton boats.

4. No-tech Angry Birds

I saw this idea on Pinterest (i think?). One night this week while I was getting ready to make dinner my oldest son (remember how I call him the “cruise director”) wanted to make our own “angry birds” game.

What was great about this activity is that he kept creating new “levels” using wooden blocks…

5. Nature Indoors

Remember my broken “thanks” vase? I received these gorgeous vases from Incourage (online community of DaySpring). One vase has “Giving” etched on it and the other has “Thanks” etched on it. The awesome ladies from Incourage sent me not only a replacement for the vase that broke but a complete new set.

The boys and I collected pecans from our backyard and cut some branches from our Chinese maples and created these…

6. Great Dinners

This week my meal plan was inspired by the following sources (love pinterest & twitter!):

Baked Potato Soup by Intentional by Grace: http://intentionalbygrace.com/2011/10/13/deceptively-delicious-potato-soup-recipe/

Brown Sugar & Balsamic Glazed Crock Pot Pork Loin:

Pinned Image
 

Hasselback Potatoes

Pinned Image
Thinly slice potato almost all the way through. drizzle with butter, EVOO, salt and pepper, herbs of choice. bake at 425 for about 40 min.

http://www.seasaltwithfood.com/2009/05/hasselback-potatoes.html

Pepperoni Pizza Pull Apart Bread (SOOOO Good!)

Pinned Image

Books, Activities, Decor, Food…A great week!!!

What were some of your favorites this week? What have you been thankful for?

Linking up with: friday favorite things | finding joy

Few Favorites Friday: November 4th

1. Star Wars crew

We do “Halloween Lite”. This year included our church’s Fall Fest, a birthday party on Halloween & a little neighborhood trick-or-treating.

Besides having a legitimate excuse to knock on our neighbors’ doors & meeting other families with young children (we live in a downtown area), we love the excuse to dress up. This year…Star Wars…Darth Vader, X-Wing Pilot Luke Skywalker, Yoda & Chewbacca. I was supposed to be princess leia but never quite got in that costume. 😉

We had a good laugh when people were confused who our youngest was dressed as…favorite was “Daniel Boone” (because what 2-year-old doesn’t love to dress up like Daniel Boone)

{love this}

2. LAFCO Candles

I discovered this candle when it was used at the Hollywood Heights home show last spring. Bought one at a local boutique soon after. This week I was eating at my favorite “girly” lunch place (Celebrity Cafe) and I looked up and saw rows and rows of my new favorite candle at Santa Maria Novella at Highland Park Village. They are the largest distributor of LAFCO in Dallas (only a few other exclusive stores in the country).

I  hesitated sharing this candle just because it is a little expensive. I will leave the purchasing up to you…best parts are:

  • it burns for at least 100 hours
  • even when it’s not burning it shares it’s scent
  • “comfy” scent that is not offensive and strong 
  • clean burning, soy-based wax with 100% cotton wick
  •  candles sit in beautiful hand-blown glass.

They had new Christmas scents, berry & tree. AND I learned you can buy a box of 3 smaller candles. But they are less cost-effective than the larger candle but you can get 3 separate boxes for each candle to give away as gifts.

3. Crocheted flowers

Prior to heading to Relevant I rediscovered my love of crocheting…may be a pregnant thing. I decided to crochet some flowers to give to some girls I had met on social media and also to have available as gifts while I was there.

Here is the flower pattern I used: 5-petal flower

Another favorite this week was ending my time at the Relevant Conference, sitting in the Incourage lounge on the comfy couches, crocheting next to my fellow preggo, boy-mom friend, Erin from www.homewiththeboys.com . We are due days apart from each other…she is having her 3rd boy.

4. Backyard swing

Loved pulling into the driveway after being away for 4 days to find pure joy on the face of my middle son.

While I was gone my dad and hubby worked hard getting projects done around the house. They hung up this great swing from a tree in our backyard. It has been the highlight of the week.

3 boys. 1 swing. Requires a lesson in sharing and me stopping what I’m doing to push boys for hours and listen to laughter of delight…definitely a favorite!

Of course, thank you Nana & Poppy for taking great care of the boys this past week. Doing laundry, folding laundry, cooking dinners, cleaning out the fridge, reading books, changing diapers, putting up a motion sensor for garage lights, loading and unloading the dishwasher, and every other thing you did to help our family!

What were some of your favorites from this past week?