Wednesday Fast & Pray For Our Kids

My friend’s sister named Kim has an amazing facebook page called His Hands His Feet Today.  Kim and her husband have adopted a total of fourteen children (two are in heaven).  Her facebook page is updated daily and it is full of encouragement, photos, stories, inspiring quotes, Bible verses, and information on adoption.

Kim challenged others to have every Wednesday in 2014 a day to fast and pray for our children.  You don’t have to fast from food–just pick one thing–carbs, snacks, pop, coffee, the TV, Facebook etc.  Kim shares:

If you’ve never fasted before, try just fasting 1 meal. Or snacks. Or coffee/pop. Or facebook. Or carbs. Whatever … just submit yourself of the Lord. Die to yourself/flesh. And let’s build up some spiritual muscles for what lies ahead this year! You’ll be amazed at how badly you’ll want “that thing” (you are fasting) tomorrow. Our flesh can be so strong.

 I chose Facebook because I am for better or for worse (probably mostly worse) on Facebook a lot.  Sometimes for legitimate reasons and communication…but nothing that can’t wait another day.  Facebook is a big distraction for me which is why I have been keeping the computer off a lot weekday mornings and early afternoons. This past Wednesday I subconsciously kept inching my way towards checking Facebook, but stopped myself and prayed for my kids instead.

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On New Years Eve I was sitting in church with all three of my children.  People in the congregation were reflecting on the year.  Earlier that evening, I had been thinking about how we had hoped to have foster children by the holidays 2013 and how God led us away from this.  It is still hard for me.  I think about foster care every single day.  During the service as one woman was sharing a testimony about her daughter I looked at my own three sitting together. I felt like God was saying to me–“These are YOUR kids.  These three I have given you.  Love them.  Teach them.  Help them grow to know ME more.”

I am not saying we should put all our focus on our bio kids and forget about the orphans, foster children, children in need of mentors, etc.  I think many of us can stretch outside of ourselves and love on these children at risk and in great need.  But we have to do what God has asked us to do and WHEN He asks it of us.  For some reason I think God is growing us all so we can become a foster family in the future or else something similar.  Our hearts are willing and we continue to listen to His wisdom and guidance.

Feel free to join me on Wednesdays as we lift our children in prayer.

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The Fellowship Hall

Fellowship halls are a necessary for a church.  People need a large room to congregate, have meals, and let the boys play dodge ball on Wednesday nights.

Enjoying A Meal

However I have found it difficult to have a meaningful conversation in the fellowship hall.  So often after-service Sunday turns into crossing items off  a to-do list.  Talk to Person A about VBS, Person B about youth group, and Person C about my children misbehaving in Children’s Worship.

I’ve also blamed it all the loud noise and low lighting in the fellowship hall, but maybe that is my own excuse.

Today my three year old was randomly going up to everyone (even the oldest lady in the church who has a thick Dutch accent is hard to understand) and showing off her new Bible and pointing out her favorite stories.

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I wish I had that kind of zeal she had for people.  I tried today.  I really did.  I talked to a couple people.  While my conversations were shorter and surfacey, I threw out my own “church to do-list agenda” and my own stories.  I did learn new things about people I have known for years.  No effort wasted.

Day One: First Conversation

One conversation.  More listening than talking.  Engaging.  Asking questions.

Day one.

I spent the vast majority of the day at a rummage sale…which I love.  I see the MOPS rummage sale as a smaller version of Christmas.

I talked to someone and started with simple questions.  It turned into a very interesting thought provoking conversation about social justice and racial differences.  I would not have enjoyed learning from her and hearing her stories had I not made the effort.  Soon others were drawn into our conversation.

I was thinking about that scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding when Julianne intentionally takes Michael (her best friend who she also has feelings for) and his fiance Kimmy (who she is jealous) to a Karaoke bar after hearing about how much she hates them.  Michael and Julianne talk about Florence, Italy and all their memories there while Kimmy tries to find her way in the conversation…but is not welcomed.

We do that a lot.  We gravitate to who we know and the people lurking to the side…we don’t know how to bring them in.  Sometimes all it takes is a very simple question.  All I asked is:  “So do you like working at rummage sales?”

 

Happiness Project Revised…

I started a happiness project a few months ago with gusto.  I had all these superb ideas to implement in my everyday life.  I daresay it was my happiness project that helped me do creative things with my kids and foster my relationship with each of them in the month of March.

Then May came along which for the past two years is the month I am alone without the husband for two weeks.  I had every intention of focusing on my house in the month of the May and working on some projects while he is gone.

Too ambitious?  Yes.

I was reminded once again while he is away I can only do the bare minimum:  take care of the kids, spend time with the kids, do the cleaning that NEEDS to be done, and work on other projects if there is time leftover.   I think I have said, “I’m so tired!” at least a half dozen times every day…sorry for those who might have gotten sick of me complaining about my fatigue.

So the month of May is going to end in five hours and I have very little if anything to show for my May Happiness Project.

So I thought of a couple options:  1) Do the month of May in the month of June and bump everything back  2) Skip the month of May and move right next into June. 3) Drop this all project in its entirety and do something totally different.

Then I remembered 12/12/12.  I participated in a National Random Acts of Kindness Day.  It honestly was one of the best days.  I did 12 random acts of kindness in a day and my kids were involved in almost every single one.  I cannot tell you how it helped to intentionally think of others and less about myself.

Now it is 170 days later.  I spent a good part of the day today with someone I do not know very well, but greatly enjoyed conversing with.  This person comes from a similar background as me and we have many things in common.

Also today I saw someone who is different than me and I am sure I have less in common with.  I did not strike up a conversation with this person.  I did not even try.

It made me think of a speaker I heard recently who started her talk by saying, “You look at me and you will immediately judge me.”  Even though we claim we are not racist and do not have a prejudice bone in our body, our minds will go there.  We always judge.

We will always gravitate to the people we are more comfortable with.  We tell our children to befriend the odd one out or not to always sit by the same girl on the bus.  But do we?

My friends and I were talking about if someone visits our church and is from our denominational background and especially if they are a young family, people will flock to them.  We are hesitant (and myself included!) to talk to the person on the fringe, the homeless person, or the guy with purple hair.  I hate that.

So what does this have to do with the happiness project?  I thought instead of focusing on “bettering my life,” I want to focus on stepping outside of it.

My oldest does a “task of the month” where they spend a whole month working on one single task.  Some of the tasks were tying shoes, learning their address and phone number, and now it is writing neatly on a single lined paper.

I thought about creating my own task of the month that centers on something “others-centered” and outside of myself.  Honestly all the goals for each month for the Happiness Project was getting overwhelming.  My “to-do list” was exploding.

Throughout this process I am going to read a section of the Bible each day in hopes to finish the Bible in a year program.  Something else that fell to the wayside in the month of May.

I am going to try to blog a little bit every day or every few days.  Even if it is 2-3 sentences.  I am already at 700 words and am totally exhausted.  I cannot write these long drawn out posts every single day.  As I have read more blogs, this seems to be the new blogging trend. As a news writer, I have learned “less is more.”

So in the month of June I want to have a conversation with someone every single day and do more listening than talking.  I want to do less telling my own stories and more engaging in what is important to them.  When I am given opportunities to step outside my comfort zone and talk to someone “different” I will seize it.  I am hoping this experiment will help me appreciate the different backgrounds of the people I encounter in my everyday life.

December Photos Day #14 Tradgedy

I honestly was not sure what photos I would post for today.  I did not have any major plans for this day other than baking Christmas cookies for a fundraiser, catching up on laundry, and watching two different friends’ children on top of my own.

In light of today’s events in Newtown, Connecticut there aren’t any photos that can accurately capture the audacity of such an event.

As my husband took the kids out this morning, I sat at the computer working on various projects in the peace and quiet of my usually “noise filled” home.  I saw e-mails from CNN popping up one after another in my inbox.  I know enough now when something like that happens, an earth shattering event occurred.

My heart is breaking for the families in Connecticut.  I imagine some of these moms have put Christmas presents under the trees for their little ones who will never open them.  I can’t even fathom their grief right now.

In a world where gunmen burst into shopping malls and elementary schools and take innocent lives, there are no words.  There are no pictures.  My mind keeps reverting back to a young person on our news here in Oregon who was referring to the Clackamas Mall shooting–“How could anyone’s lives be so bad that they have to take away innocent lives?”

In a world where people are quick to point the finger, blame someone else, or fix this problem–there should not be any words.  I am just as angry about the debates on gun control, justification for homeschooling, and prayer in public schools.  On an evening when some parents will return to an empty house where there were precious child will be not be tucked into their warm bed but instead lay in a casket in a funeral rooms–let’s show some grief, mercy, grace, and empathy.  Please lay your political opinions and educational preferences aside–this is not the time for it.

Random Acts of Kindness Day: 51 Ideas To Get You Started

RAKEMy friend Melissa shared on facebook about Random Acts of Kindess Day which is coming up on December 12, 2012.  In order to preserve the holiday season as a time of giving and spreading Christ’s love for those around us, her family is doing 12 acts of kindness of 12/12/2012.

I had been looking for some service projects to do with my kids. Melissa’s list is great!  These are all things family members can do together.  Now if I can figure out how to all 12 in one day…especially on a Wednesday which tend to be our busier days.  I am committing to this so we’re doing it!

Most of these might not make a huge earth shattering difference in our eyes, but God uses every moment for His glory.  I have to give credit to Melissa for the first 39 on the list, but I added a few of my own.

  1. Place encouraging notes on bathroom mirrors/stalls
  2. Put change in meters for people (the courthouse/downtown would be a good place for this)
  3. Bakes goodies or a meal and take it to the firehouse
  4. Pay for the person behind us in line (the cashier could give the note)
  5. Bring flowers to the elderly or a neighbor
  6. Wash someone’s car for them
  7. Help someone with yard work
  8. Bring hot chocolate/coffee to bell ringers
  9. Buy flowers and after paying for them hand them to the cashier and say thank you.
  10. Mail carrier homemade gift/card (fast food card lunch is on us today)
  11. Trash man homemade gift/card (fast food card lunch is on us today)
  12. Leave quarters on a soda/snack machine with a note.
  13. A dollar in the dollar store toy section with a note.
  14. Gather the grocery carts and return them in the store.
  15. Leave diaper and wipes on a public changing table.
  16. Care packs for the homeless.
  17. Clean out toys and donate to charity.
  18. Clean out clothes and donate to charity.
  19. Pick up trash.
  20. Send a thank you letter to a solider.
  21. Help someone load their groceries in their car.
  22. Visit a nursing home.
  23. Take canned goods to a food bank.
  24. Collect coins and give to charity.
  25. Hold the door for someone.
  26. Leave coins at a laundry mat. (Note says Laundry is on us today)
  27. Write 5 things you like about someone and give it to them.
  28. Make daddy breakfast in bed.
  29. Allow someone behind you in line to go ahead of you.
  30. Place a note on someone’s windshield.
  31. Take old towels and pet food to an animal shelter.
  32. Smile and speak to 10 strangers.
  33. Sweep a neighbors sidewalk.
  34. Leave candy and a note on a stranger’s door.
  35. Give bags of microwave popcorn to people in line for redbox.
  36. Quarters on gumball machines.
  37. Gatorade to construction/outside workers. (or in our case hot chocolate because they are probably wet and cold!)
  38. Shop for stockings for needy kids. (have stockings one for boy and one for girl)
  39. Return neighbors trash cans after trash day.
  40. Bring baked goods to a homeless shelter
  41. Make a Christmas craft for a home bound senior in your church
  42. Send a note of appreciation to your church or kid’s school janitor
  43. Make a gift basket for  your next door neighbors and introduce yourself if you don’t know one another!
  44. Pray for someone who is going through a difficult time
  45. Bring doughnuts or bagels to a business
  46. Listen to what someone is saying when they share a story.  Ask them questions and take an interest.  Don’t start talking about your own experience (very hard for young moms to do–I’m one of them!!)
  47. Tell your child’s teacher how much you appreciate him/her.
  48. Do household chore that is typically done by your spouse.
  49. Shovel your neighbors driveway along with your own (if you live where there is snow)
  50. Bring in all your cans.  Instead of pocketing the money, use it for a random act of kindness.
  51. Try to go through the WHOLE day without complaining about something you don’t have, how busy you are, all the things you still have to do, and how tired you might be!!

If you are local, my kids & I would love to bless Simonka Place, a women and children’s shelter here in town.  Simonka Place is doing AMAZING things for these women that we can’t do with our limited time and resources.   They are most in need of canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and Tylenol (I found it interest Tylenol was one of the most needed items–but it makes sense).  If you want to contribute to our little food and Tylenol drive you can do the following:

1) Drop food items off to my house (message me for the address if you don’t have it already) before Wednesday.

2)  Contact me before Wednesday to pick up items.  

3)  Contact me before Wednesday to pick up pop cans.  We will turn them in for you and use the money to purchase fruits, veggies, peanut butter and/or Tylenol.

And if you’re out of town but would like to contribute, contact your own rescue mission in your town and find out what their most needed items are (some of it might be on their website).

Philadelphia and back again…

I have been taking a short hiatus from Everyday Mom.  For the past week I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Philadelphia along with fifteen other people.  Our task was simple:  to learn about community development from church planters while participating in a camp for 10-14 year olds at By Grace Alone Church.  This is not just an activity driven camp.  This camp is called Business Boot Camp and the kids learn about entrapeneurship, employment, risk-taking, teamwork, and more.  It was amazing to be a part of it!

It’s part of a project my church started called the Salem/Philly Connect.  Basically we sent a team to inner city Philly to learn about community outreach.  In 2012, the Philly church will send a team to us here in Oregon.  You can read more about how this project got started, why we felt God calling us to do it, how it is totally different than your average church mission trip, and how it impacted our lives.

We hope to do a few fundraisers throughout the year to send some of our new Philly friends to Oregon next summer to help us with summer outreach projects.  Stay tuned.

Now I am getting ready to leave on a much needed vacation.  Everyday Mom may be a little quiet until I return.