Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Raising Grateful Kids


                                                                 






                              

I have recently begun reading the book Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World (RGK)  by Kirsten Welch as part of a book launch team. It is a timely and convicting read laced with confessional encouragement and inspirational guidance. It is available here for pre-order for January.


The first chapter discusses wants vs. needs and the American dream.  I can remember doing a school assignment with my oldest years ago on wants and needs. It was a      mixed lesson discussing the economy, budgeting and essentials of society.  Pretty ambitious for the second grade. It asked the students to list in two columns wants and needs.  It encouraged you to list general things and then break them down.

 For instance:

Shelter is a need but what kind of shelter could be listed under both need and want.  This is where it got blurry.  We live in a 2300 square foot house of brick, wood and dry wall. It has air conditioning and heat. Electricity and running water. A fine home indeed.   Now I believe everyone would consider four walls, a floor and a roof over their head a need.  I live in the deep south of Alabama. As I type this it is late December and 75 degrees so I consider AC a need; yet people have lived in this region for centuries without it. (and yes I realize some have died due excessive heat.)   But there are people all over the world, in places far hotter than Alabama such as the Middle East and Africa who have never nor will they ever have AC.    Another example was food. Everyone must eat to stay alive. We need food, but we don’t have to have lobster everyday of our life.  Here is where of course the budgeting lesson came in.
Then there were some intangible needs like safety or education.  Everyone needs to be safe. But exactly what does that look like?  Military? Police? Handgun? Gated community? Guard dog?  The discussion could go on and on. What the exercise did was not only allow you to see the very basics of human need (food, water, shelter, safety, education, love, employment) but also required you to consider the specific way in which those needs were filled and if those ways blurred into wants. 
Now this is not to say that it is wrong to want things above our needs. It simply lets us see that many of our needs are met and it changes our perspective into one of grievance to gratitude.  In addition it helps us to analyze how we go about meeting those needs and which ones we place as priority. Striving to make a basic need made better isn’t greedy either, when it’s launched from a platform of gratitude and kept within the boundary of enough.

This was a great lesson for my second grader and an eye opening one for her mama. Kirsten Welch writes   that “ as uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less-entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by living more grateful lives.”  Wow -this moment was brought to me by Rude Awakening Productions

This realization coupled with the simple second grade exercise is a sign that it is time for a reevaluation of our family’s current wants and needs.  I have a sneaky suspicion there will be some category hopping.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Staying out of jail

I don't even know if I can do this post justice. I am incredibly grateful for my man. We have been together for 25 years, married for 24 this July and I can honestly say there is no one else I would rather be with.  That is not to say that every moment has been bliss- far from it. There have been good, joyful loving wonderful times. and there have been bad, moody, frustration suxy times too. as well as the just plain mundane, hectic and ordinary.
  Such is a thing called life.  All these days , emotion and events fall into every ones timetable. Its who you spend those times, whatever they may be, that counts. and I have been privileged enough to spend those times with a kind, smart man named Marc Hill,  After so many mistakes (read date bad boys reeling in selfishness) how I landed this gem is purely grace.  
Please stop making me laugh!!

We are so very different in personality. I'm loud, he's quiet. I'm impulsive, he's contemplative. I think out loud, he thinks before he speaks.  He cooks, I don't. The list could go on and on . I once told someone that Marc married me so he would have some fun and spice in his life and I married him so I would stay out of jail.  So far , so good!  ( seriously, you have no idea)

But for all we have that is opposite, we have the core things down.  We're both honest, we're both loyal. We both fail. We both forgive. We both love and trust God. We both work hard. We both are willing to sacrifice for the other. We are both kind (in very different ways)
And we are both fun , also in different ways. We both love our children unconditionally.
Prom 2012
Fixing the retaining wall- but time for a pic!
The dog we got when I was out of town!!



Our love has changed and grown over the years. It manifest itself differently than when we were younger. We are still very much attracted to each other but flirting is where it's at and on weeknights and where it ends because baby we are 3 kids, 2 dogs and a mortgage into this thing- were kinda tired. :) 
But were closer than ever.  We know how to love each other, whats important to the other one. 
We know each others love language and we know how to just "be". Even if we are not doing the same thing, we can be in the same room, near each other . We enjoy each other.
Friday Marc will be having surgery to remove part of his colon.  While this isn't celebratory news, it is news that has a lots of reasons to be grateful : 
there is no cancer.  

we got the surgical procedure to laproscopic along with the surgeon we want. 

He is young and this is semi elective to remove damage from 10 years of diverticulitis. 

The surgery will improve the quality of his life.  

We have parents that  are going to come and help .

 Friends that are praying for us and helping with our children and 
most of all a God who is the healer of all flesh.  
So I am forever grateful to be married to Marc Hill.
I am blessed to be loved by him.









Thursday, December 3, 2015

Siblings

So when you just do the next thing on front of you, it awesome when it gets mixed up a bit!!
The is is where I have an advantage over most. My fabulous sister. She is  unpredictable, creative and spontaneous.
I'm grateful! ! 
Nothing can say -cheer up chick
Like a crazy as sister! !



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Grateful girls

Busy week and busier days,ahead.  Tonight I went out with the youngest chick.  After work and school we hit the ortho
Chik  fil a
Target
Haircut-eyebrow wax (so on fleek- new teen word of the week)
The Prodisee pantry
And finally Moe's (we never say no to moe)
I had the best time and she was reletively unphased by hanging with me in public-score!!!


And here is a picture at Moe's with those on fleek eyebrows just gazing you down! !

Here we are trying on winter hats at Target. Does the purple make my for heads look wrinkly?



So happy to be with this chick.
Grateful and Goodnight!!!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sunday- Day of Thanks




I flat out didn’t post. But it was a rough day. My emotions were high. Older girls went back to school which is always hard. My man’s health has been not so great lately and my mind was in an uncooperative state went it came to being happy.  But looking back on it I can be grateful for endurance. Because I basically journaled  it out with God and ended up with the fact that this is just a season and rather than run and curl up in a ball of denial, I could just stare the trash in the face , decide not to be afraid and trust God will get me through .  I could ask “What I am supposed to learn in this season? “ What lesson.  Sometimes the answer isn’t fun. 

The lesson might be how to endure, how to be grateful in hard times.
 Or this is a sticky one: Dependence.
Dependence on God to meet my needs.
Dependence on God to be faithful.
Dependence on God’s love even when I don’t feel it.


I think this is part of what I am learning, because so far the begging for relief and the hiding coping skills I possess (insert sleep, apathy, resentment) just haven’t really gotten me anywhere. Shocking I know , right?  This stinking thinking reminds me of a line from a country song: “You ask a Jeannie in a bottle of Jack Daniels and she lies to you.”  Yeah that kind of face palming epiphany.

I also received a dose of conviction about my emotional/spiritual laziness. I called it “ If I just ignore it , it will go away” but alas the toma-to/tom-a-to doesn’t really apply here. Ignoring darkness doesn’t destroy it only light can do that.  So it requires – wait for it – exposure.  It’s hard to get that in the fetal position, covers overhead, cry festival. But I looked for it there anyway. 

  This realization brought to the forefront that I need to work at  (read- participate in ) being happy. Now this is not to diminish the times I have tried and still didn’t feel better. It happens, but I am coming to accept that anything is better than lying down in the depression/ anxiety.  Because even if my efforts result in very little betterment, the act of not giving in, however that looks, counts in and of itself. It builds up muscle against the darkness and next time I’m that much stronger and experienced.


The act of NOT giving in can look different every day.  It can be a funny movie, purposely thinking of someone’s else’s needs and acting, reading scripture, praying for myself and others, stating truth out loud, exercise, walk the dog or maybe even a nap; (if it’s not in the I need to be unconscious sad hide mode) Just resting in God and doing the next thing in front of you is enough. Sometimes I clean a lot or organize something just to be moving and then even if my mood stays the same at least I have a clean organized area.

Dancing with a large shrimp- just one depression buster idea!
 Sometimes it’s intentional self-care. How long has it been since I shaved my legs?  How about a face mask, treat myself to a pedicure or attempt something on Pinterest.   Think about how awesome my abs would be if I dropped and gave 50 every time I had a distressing, negative thought.  12 pack baby- nothing but steel.


Anyway I am grateful I kept on keeping on yesterday.  The day was better for it. I was better for it. Everyone around me was better for it.    And even though at the end of the day I was still a little down in the dumps I looked back at all that went on during the day and it made me smile. I was glad I did it even if it was like walk in through jello .  I got to kinda have a yeah baby- take that dark cloud –moment and I got to be grateful.  
  Victory and Gratitude.  Nice combo.

So I am choosing to be grateful for the struggle and the presence of God while enduring tough seasons and I choosing to be grateful to let the outcome of be in God’s hands.


Because at the end of the day I can depend on God because He is dependable.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Grateful View

Grateful for what I can see.  And grateful that I can choose what I see.
The eyes have been said to be the window to the soul.  Be careful what you let in .

Jesus said the eye is the lamp of the body.  And if your eyes,are healthy your whole being will be full of light.

What you see is important.  It filters to the whole of you. You think on it. Let's face it there are just some things you can't unsee.  It shapes your thinking.

In Romans it says to transform your self by the renewing of your mind. This verse comes directly after a verse telling us to use our bodies as,a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God.  A link between your body and your mind clearly exist. We can prove this medically now in 2015, but God , who created both body and soul, tells us it is so. 

 
The eye is a part of your body and a instantaneous link to your mind. If you fill it with images and words of the  world how will you not be conformed to it?  Now this isn't to say walk around with a blindfold but be aware of what you allow in your eyes and what you put your eye to. Where do you focus?

If we have our sight let us be grateful by choosing wisely to put truth, beauty and light before our gaze. Let us be grateful by turning not a blind eye, but a watchful one away from evil, darkness and deception. 
I've chosen poorly lately . So please don't think I come from a position of criticizing.  I come from a position of confession.  I make bad choices sonetimes. Some delibrate. Some lazy.
But poor.  I'm grateful I can repent of this and I'm grateful I can choose again.
Grateful to see another moment with my eyes and my soul .
I get to  ooen, close, and shift my eyes to the light.  
I'm grateful and looking forward to seeing better tomorrow.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Thankful Wife

One of the important people in my life is my husband Marc.  He is a huge portion of my world and my day. He is responsible for much of the other important people in my life: our 3 chicks.

It is often easy to overlook your spouse on a daily basis. You do life together, the good, bad, the mundane.  In and out day after day.  Some days just feel like we hit a repeat button: up, eat, work, school, errands, home, eat, chores, flop in exhaustion on couch, watch tv, fall asleep . Repeat . It's like we are stuck reading a shampoo bottle in an endless loop.
But these days are spent along side my man. They aren't necessarily exciting but they are together.  And together is where it is at.  

 I'm grateful to have his face to look at when I arrive home.  His arms around me and his face to kiss. I sometimes forget to kiss that face or fall into those arms when I get home because.... well I'm tired, distracted or hungry.Yet these are the very moments we have together right now.   We're not in the market for a vacation.  Date night can't be every night. So we have this time together and these small interactions matter.  Having 2 chicks out of the nest these moments matter even more. Very soon our littlest chick will fly the coop too and Marc and I will be alone together.

Kinda catches me by surprise when I see it all laid out in black and white like that.  I could focus on the word alone.  All my chicks out of our home. I've been a mom for so long it will be strange to have all the kids out of my immediate reach.   But I'm going to focus on the word together.  Marc and I will be together.
When that time comes I'm sure we will discover a bit of each other all over again.  But I don't want to be strangers , I don't want to have neglected so great a gift in front of me that I missed the joy . I am grateful for Marc.

I'm grateful for his love everyday in his acts of service( his love language) to his family. In fact just a moment ago he texted to ask what time I get off and told me he was buying more blue lights so we can decorate the tree while all 3 chicks are in the nest!! 

 He knows I'm weird and I only like blue lights on the Christmas tree. It's my thing.  

So I'm grateful he gets me and all my quirky things.
Like the saying on my kitchen wall
Together,  the best place to be.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thankful Day

It's Thanksgiving 2015 . I really wanted to put up a great place or items everyday this past month for Christmas ideas that make a difference and show gratitude.  I didn't do everyday it was just to much with starting a new 40+hour week job and basketball season kicking in for the youngest. But I did put up a few great ideas that I hope yall took a look at.
Today we all think on what and who we are grateful for. So I have decided to blog a Lil blog about the most grateful pieces of my life. I do this in the spirit of Thanksgiving but also for another reason: depression.  Bet you didn't see that one coming?  I've struggled with depression off and on for a bit now. Some from circumstances , some from physical issues that invaded my mindset ,and some that just seem to be a heavy cloak or random dark clouds.  Hormones ? Maybe?   No matter the reason  or lack there of; depression can be a hard road. 
So to help myself and others along that road ,heading straight to the lighted path, I am going to concentrate on one person, thing, event or moment that I am truly grateful for. I may mention it in passing with a quick smile and picture or I might concentrate on it over and over mentally reminding myself minute by minute to be thankful.   Whatever the day requires I will find one thing to focus on in gratitude.

The seeds of depression cannot take root in a grateful heart-  The  Noticer

One of my favorite quotes. Now this is not a cover all statement for those suffering with depression but a great reminder to always look for something to be grateful for , focus hard on it and while depression may be lurking , don't let it set up shop in your head or be planted in your heart. 
If it does-uproot.
How? Let's start by being grateful .

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Good intentions, better action

It's November 10th.   And yes like my good intentions of posting a place to give every single day has fallen short. I'm not superstitious but I am going to claim that the upcoming holiday "well- intentioned- to- have- it- all -together" beast just won this round.   And while I would have liked to have had a post for each day it is not like I have been sitting around eating bon bons. I have been busy and not so busy, just chilling, with family. My KK just turned 19 yesterday. Her first birthday away from home : She was living it up at college with some friends.

We have been very fortunate that both are girls have been able to go to college; and while the expense has been hard it has been managed. Beyond application, tuition and room and board there were a whole host of expenses that came with moving in.  We navigated trips to Target, Walmart and the grocery store numerous times.  We all worked together, child, parent and siblings.  Some kids are not that fortunate.

 I recently attended an event where one of my favorite authors, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, was speaking about her latest book We never asked for wings. She told about her personal life which involved accidentally becoming a foster mother.  Her story and her books are filled with perspectives from so many angles and parts of society many of us never think about. She talked about an event known in the foster world as "aging out" where kids in the system turn 18 and n longer are taken care of by the state or their assigned foster family.  These children were never adopted and are now adults thrown out into society with very little experience of what to do next.  Many without skills of money management , work experience or how to apply for college or fill out the FASFA find themselves homeless, addicted or incarcerated. The 18-24 age demographic constitute a significant portion of our prison population.

  SIDE NOTE:  Someone here is going to say "The system should have prepared them better." Indeed they should have. Yet since they didn't an advocate is needed to make that a happen. So if at this point of the blog you are raging about that, leave this page and research your states foster system and how you can contribute to the betterment of it.  If you want to find out how you can be a part of helping a recently aged out foster child to having a great start at adulthood  then stay tuned.  If your not interested in either and your still griping about who shoulda, woulda, coulda then please stop reading this blog- your not my people and nothing I write here will inspire you.  I have experienced this scenario so many times in person that I just wanted to be transparent.

Pick her
Vanessa Diffenbaugh's  experiences led her to create a network called Life Set.  It is a brilliant social network platform that  first-of-its-kind social network that connected former foster youth to supporters, opportunities and resources from around the country.  It allows you to connect with a transitioned out foster child, who is now a legal adult, and provide them with things that set them up for life.  giving straight to the network helps support education teaching how to apply to college, filling out financial forms, money management, budgeting and many other skills we take for granted because our parents taught us ( or did for us-eek! that's another story ).  You can also search for a youth in need of a certain item such as XL twin sheets for their dorm. (Who new this was a size before college). You could contribute to their books, toiletries or household item for their first apartment.  It is set up like a wedding or baby registry where you can choose among the requested items. You also are also connected with the individual youth that you are giving to. You can offer encouragement, advice and keep up with their progress in life. If you don't end up helping in this organization that is okay but pass it on. Someone in your friend network will catch the passion. This is how we become the solution. We don't have to save the whole world. But we work, we pray, we speak on behalf of other;s needs and the life of another is better for it.  Never, ever doubt the power of compassion that God has placed in you. However you choose to act may it be for someone, may it move forward. 
or him.

If you are a young adult going to college or working I challenge you to choose one item on this registry and help out a peer. Use your own money, not your parents, and see how you can empower your own generation.    


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Promises Kept

November 5:

Promise Pantry or your local food bank needs your donations.  If your like most people you shop weekly. Why not pick up an extra can, carton or box of your favorite food and put it in a decorated box. When your box if full drop it off.
Every time you purchase for yourself you can give to someone else. A little at a time adds up. And hunger is something that comes to each one of us everyday.
You have the power of small things done in great love over and over can conquer that need.
Check out the pantry here or tell me about your local food bank.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Where is your landing zone?

November 3.  It's a Tuesday.  Weird day of the week. You can no longer blame your misgivings on it being Monday  and it is too far from Friday to justify any slacking off.   I personally like the Yoyo and Hops version of Tuesday  Treat Tuesday.  Yes lets go with that.  Terrific Treat Tuesday!




I want to talk about  agreat way to be terrific as you treat someone to goodness.  My husband and I know a sweet woman named Mary Purvis. Mary took her call from God and made a terrific difference in the lives of the Guatemalan people. In 1990  Mary went to Guatemala and
for the next 20 years Mary took short-term mission trips to Guatemala. In 2010 she headed the call to move permanently to Guatemala launching  many outreach programs in the villages of Rabinal, Rio Negro, and Pacux:
Among operating student  and grandparent sponsorship, feeding programs and medical aid Mary has developed a unique opportunity for others to be a part of changing peoples lives.
Kids at the feeding program


  • This "Landing Zone" .. place where people can come "land" and work in the surrounding villages. Your welcome with your family, church or just on your own.

    The feeding program is a mere $25 a month to feed a child or grandparent 5 hot meals a week.
    That's 5 Starbucks, 3 meals at chick fil a or less than your water bill.



     My husband and I have two little ones Esteban and---  that are in the program  and here they are , just so you can have a visual as you try to virtually pinch their cheeks through the screen.   One day I hope to go to Guatemala and pinch their cheeks in the flesh, ( I will  need to check on the cultural acceptability of such actions, first)
    Cristina and Estefan

    Evn if $25 a month is not doable for you. Any  amount given I know will be used for the purpose of the children. That is part of the beauty of GLZ it is small and effective. Mary doesn't just advocate for this people  she lives with them everyday. She shares their joys and their heartache and the goodness of God everyday.
    Mary and some local women

    How terrific to be a part of that?

    Check them out on FB at Guatemala Landing Zone or the we at
    http://www.guatemalalandingzone.com/
















  • Monday, November 2, 2015

    Love it Forward

    November 2nd-

    I hope you got a chance to checkout Samaritians Purse and all the wonderful things you can be a part of.  Today I am featuring a very special place near to my heart. Neema House in Arusha Tanzania. I had the privelege of volunteering there 2 times when I was in Africa this summer.  It is such a a well run , loving facility for orphaned, abandoned  and at-risk babies.  Here are just a few pics from that sweet time.    
    Me and my friend Razikki

    They are wonderfully staffed with 33 Nannies  that care for the children around the clock.  From breakfast to baths and reading to rest time they care for these sweet young ones with tender care.  Neema house would like to honor these wonderful women with a little extra at Christmas time.
    And you can be a part of that.

     Where all my mamas at?  You know the hectic wonderful blessed chaos of children and you also know how a little appreciation goes a long way on those long days!!

    Be a part of a wonderful Christmas.  Check out Neema house on line and connect with them on FB to give for the extra special Christmas for the nannies.  Just click on the links and start loving it forward.



    Christopher


    Sunday, November 1, 2015

    3 chicks and a purpose

    November 1.
     It is the month before December, and what that means if you live in America is that the panic/freenzy/chaos of Christmas will start in one month.  I have never quite understood this, but it is a reality.
    Christmas is the same every year. It is not like they suddenly announce it like lotto numbers or something. No governing body decides year to year when it will be and how much time is left between the announcement and the actual day.  Nope it is the same  



    EVERY ...SINGLE.....YEAR.
    December 25th.

    Some people will over prepare, like Hobby Lobby , and have Christmas trees  out by the end of August and some will procrastinate like the guy in a diamond store at 5:30 on Christmas Eve.
    I fall somewhere in the middle.
    I know its coming, I know who I will give to and I start looking for fun holiday things to do.  

    Look how prepared we are? wait? What are they doing?
     Over the past few years our family has decided to give less things to each other and to spend more time and experiences with each other.  We have also decided that we don't really have any real "needs" for Christmas just a few wants. So I have altered the giving a bit by giving to someone else outside our family but with a particular family member in mind.

    Everyday in November I plan to feature a person, place or organization that has true needs. These are all places I have given, researched or know personally where and how the money or items will be honored. I hope you and your family will join us in enjoying time with one another and placing your gifts in the hands of those who will most benefit.


    Every year around this time we receive a catalog form Samaritan's Purse.
    If you are not familiar with it you might be surprised at the offerings in the full color pages. It is filled with beautiful pictures of people, smiling faces of children, mothers holding babies, farmers working fields. It also has vast landscapes from around the world, livestock and grains featured among its photographs.

     No $9.99 wine openers with your favorite team logo or light up dog collar can be ordered.
    This catalog offers 42 specific gifts in various amounts that you can give to many in the US and around the world that will pay it forward to the next generation.

    Samaritan's Purse has been around since 1970 born out of the burden of one man to have his "heart break for the things that break the heart of God."  You can find our more about them including the complete financial disclosure on their website www.samaritianspurse.org 

    This year as always I will be giving baby chicks to a family who can raise them for food and to sell the eggs.    I am always a sucker for anything with baby chicks because that is how I often refer to my 3 girls.

    And as you can see the picture in the catalog has 3 chicks, just like me, so I am in.  If you ever want to sell me  anything just stamp 3 chicks on it and it is a done deal.
    So for $14, I will be grateful for my 3 chicks and give 12 baby chicks to a family who will use them to care for their own precious  chicks.    That is $14 that will have lasting effects, far beyond the 2 trips to Starbucks or the random Charming Charlie's necklace that it could also purchase.

    My family will have gifts under the tree and family time and experience this Christmas . And if we get to do these wonderful things with each why shouldn't every family?

    Check out tomorrows blog for another giving idea. One that might just be calling out your name, dreams, and talents to be a part of.


    Friday, July 10, 2015

    Reflections from Africa



    Mirror Mirror

    Those recognizable words can easily be rounded out with the phrase “on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”   Pretty sure every American or even westerner is familiar with those spoken fairy tale phrases.
    I wondered about this phrase as I was out in the Tanzanian bush with the Massai. How old is this fairy tale and to what cultures did it spring from?  One thing is for sure regardless of where it was conceived it has no life here out in the dry barren land of the village of red rock. Located about 1 ½ hours of rough terrain by vehicle lies this community of families who cannot relate to this whimsical phrase. 
    In my short 10 day stint here, I never saw myself once, at least not physically. There are no mirrors and thank goodness I had the foresight NOT to bring one.  I started to wonder about this on day 3 when I’m sure I was a hideous mess and I could feel my hair but could not see what it was doing.  .  That was probably best.  I must be quite the sight. But then another thought occurred to me. Who cares?  Not my fellow travelers, and I know that the villagers don’t care. Heck they think I’m strange person anyway with the muzungo skin and the platinum white hair (that I earned, not paid for).
     No one has a mirror here. And I started thinking about that and how it‘s absence plays into their culture.   You look in the mirror to look at YOURSELF. To see, admire, judge or correct your appearance.   They don’t have or do that here.  In fact they just don’t place a lot of focus on self. They don’t take selfies, they don’t own cameras. They don’t have time to sketch, paint or draw portraits of themselves or have others do it for them.   
    That’s a lot of time freed up right there.  Don’t think it adds up to a lot?
    Count today how many times you look in the mirror- at home, in your car, at work, in the bathrooms at shopping establishments or restaurants.  And then think about all the places you try to get a glimpse of yourself: reflections in windows, water or silverware (I have seen this, don’t laugh) I’m so guilty of this. My mother once said I never met a window glance I didn’t like!  ( Haa and ouch!)
    Now add in how many selfies you take a day. How many pictures you are in taken by others. How many social media sites you post to and how many pictures you look at where you try to find yourself in them. And then repost, comment and relook.  How much money have we spent on pictures, portraits and painting of ourselves?  I’m a scrapbook guru, I love the recording of memories. But I also realize that all the recording actually makes my mind’s memory weaker. I don’t have to memorize your face. I can just document it.   
     SO this thinking became very interesting to me   and a bit convicting.


    I’m not rubbing it in anyone’s faces, just sharing this epiphany I had and inviting you to examine your own actions. And while a simple selfie is harmless enough and the majority of people do them. I feel as though we never really ask “why?” we do the common things we do.  Why do we take a selfie?  Why does everyone do it? Why is it good or bad? What does is contribute to? Is it worth doing because the majority do It.? Is it simple fun that got infected with a hit of self-absorption steroids?   I mean if the majority jumped off a bridge, would you do that too?  (I know I have just quoted the majority of everyone’s mother here- irony)
    But what would happen if we as intelligent human beings stopped and asked ourselves a few why questions? And then actually heard and listened to our own answers? Would it all make sense or would we be confused as to why we do what we do., or even ashamed?

    So one thing I noticed about the Massai community that is lacking in my own is the interdependence. We preach independence, but in Africa I found that interdependence is essential to the community, to the family and to each individual.  One reason being that   life is harder in Africa. Harder to get water, to cook meals, to travel, to maintain a home, to receive an education, to develop a skill, to bear children, to earn an income. Because of this, there is not a great deal of time leftover for self-focused activities like selfies or gazing in the mirror.
    As the week went on I found that I thought less and less about how I looked and more and more about how I functioned. I paid attention to my body and its abilities, and limitations; to my conscious and my thinking patterns.  I paid attention to those in front of me and the work we shared before us. , . My vision wasn’t blocked by my selfie shot, camera, or phone.  I didn’t speak the same language as these women and yet rather than a barrier it kept me focused on our interactions. Focused on their faces and body language. Attention was paid to their words as I tried to decipher what was being said to me and concentrate on what was coming out of my mouth.  It also kept me focused in harmony on things that we were doing together; from serving a meal, to dancing, attempting conversation, or worship.
       It is an attention factor that I had lost somewhere in the attention grabbing, never focusing, concentration starved world I live in     I have , the ability to really look and to really listen to others,, but I am guilty of letting  distraction take me away..  And to be honest, focusing was more natural to do in Tanzania without the noise of modern life.  Those radios in my every background, traffic sounds, ringing phones, electronics chirps, and the TV on for the sake of piercing the silence just didn’t exist.   The Africans speak very softly because they can. One person talks at a time. They don’t interrupt. They say honest and important things. They don’t use extra words. They just look you in the eye, speak intentional and soft. And this is how they respect you, they give you the greatest offering they have. Their time and their full attention.    This was a humbling and beautiful lesson for a loud and spazy chick from Alabama. 



    The mirror, the one that isn’t on their wall, clearly speaks back, claiming that the fairest of them all is not the one who seeks to be named, but the one who looks into the faces and souls of others.


    Wednesday, March 4, 2015

    Sunshine

    It is here today and  I love it. It might not be here tomorrow,  but I won't let that ruin today.  After all today right now is the only chance I get to enjoy this moment.  That might seem obvious but sometimes you have to reef bind yourself of the obvious or you will miss it. :)

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015

    Day 13 on Day 14

    Day 13 is being recorded late because Day 13 of this brand new year is January 13, 2015. The day my oldest child turns
                   21!
    Oh my gosh. I am now a mother of an adult child!  Some once told me when my kids were little and I was in the throws of infant, baby and toddler that the "days drag , but the years fly."
    That statement has never been truer than today.

    As I reflect back on all those days before 21 I remember some as precious and fun others frightening and maddening.  I have wished for days back. Some to repeat  the sweet times other so I could have a do-over.  But none of those days are coming back. They now exist only in our memories and of course the fabulous scrapbooks I keep; and if I could re do those days I would savour those moments far slower than I did as a young mom.  But rather than get all days-gone-by on myself I have decided that the best years of our life and our relationship as mother and daughter are yet to come.  

    Today is officially the first day of The Best of Our Lives.



    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Day 12 --Thank a teacher

    Today so thankful to be able to read. Thankful for having the choice of what to read and for having so much available to read.  Gather up those good reads and donate to your library. 
    Better yet thank a teacher!

    Sunday, January 11, 2015

    A day of rest

    So its Sunday.  I am always grateful for Sunday . It is a reminder to slow down, love others and be grateful.  Its the day God wanted us to rest. But more and more I realize that the rest is not only for us-- it is a rest from us.  
    We work all week taking care of business, families, parents, schools, cars, bills,  homes, our bodies, etc  etc. This list goes on and on.

    So when we rest from all this , we rest from ourselves and the focus we place on tending to our lives.
    Worship on this day for God is an expression of gratitude for who He is:

    He is the one who loves us.

    I encourage everyone to rest in this. Relax in this. Rest form your list, your chores, yourself and enjoy this day being loved. Have fun, laugh play, sing . Its not a call to be a vegetable or lazy.
    It's a call to rest from the work, the competition, the betterment of yourself and your life and be loved.

    That rest looks different for all of us. For some it's long walks, good movies, cooking together, playing outside, reading a good book or getting a good nap in(my favorite).  For others it is feeding the homeless, making love, visiting old friends, calling your mom, or praying.  However you rest may it be a refreshment and a joy.  Monday is coming and God has planned good works for you. Gratefully let His rest equip you for the coming week.

    Saturday, January 10, 2015

    Day 8 and 9

    Umm.. I missed yesterday but I am no less grateful just super busy at work.  I am dog tired  right now and about to get in the bath but as I soak I am going to be grateful for:


    •  the full day I had yesterday of employment,
    •  the night time b ball game with my youngest and a few friends, 
    • the sleeping in (until 11 say B U M ) my man let me have this morning 
    • and the aching muscles that I organized the entire kitchen with and then walked 2 miles!!!!!- 

    I will accept my bad ass award any day now!


    So keep on being grateful even when things are not perfect or they are busy or they just sux.
    Look deep, think high and settle into gratefulness.
    It is a better place to be 

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    Day7 -One full new week

    So we are one full week into the new year. How are those resolutions going?  I have resolved to take one day at a time and as a result I have resolved NOT to vacuum today.  I really need to. The puppy has taken on a new occupation as paper shredder. Thank goodness we are saved from all those nasty magazines I wanted to read and that dreaded roll of toilet paper!!!  Seriously it is a mess.I picked up what I could by hand and was going to vacuum but its now 6 o clock, I have to pick up the youngest from b ball practice and the temperature is dropping as fast as the wind is blowing.

    I am from the south. I can't-- repeat CAN NOT vacuum in sub 50 degree weather.  I am reluctantly picking up the little one as it is. I mean can't she hang at the school over night. She is just going to have to be back there bright and early anyway.  But alas she is my DNA, so like all mamas I will sacrifice ( in this case my toes) and retrieve my  young.  I own two pairs of closed toed shoes . So its those things or double socks with flip flops.  I will layer my 4 various school sport  shirts over my Corona shirt and wear my face washing headband over my ears.  I think I have a pair of gloves left over from a mardi gras ball somewhere.  I'll be fine.
    I settled on these fabulous socks.

    Okay what was day 7 about? Oh yes I was being grateful that's right.  When I return I am sitting next to a roaring fire that I have instructed my man to get going and downing a hot toddy while wrapped in a blanket.   Tonight to spread the love and the warmth my act of gratitude  will be to outfit the kiddos with a blanket fresh from the dryer just before bed .  I will run upstairs to lay it over them and tuck them in like a bug in a rug.  They in turn will roll their eyes will giggle with glee.

     I am grateful for a warm house, electricity and blankets. I know many across the world, our nation and even our neighborhoods are not so fortunate.  Consider as winter comes on to donate your blankets, pillows, sheets and coats to your local shelter or Red Cross.

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    Day 6- moving gratefully

    Today the sun made a much needed appearance after days of overcast skies nearly made me want to go underground ( did I mention I am a possible  seasonal disorder canidate?)

    I walk with two great women in my neighborhood two to three times a week.  Later Friday I twisted the heck out of my ankle while walking in my yard.  I cursed the dog who dug the divot that I fell in with a round of four letter words. FYI they were not love, hope, or darn.

    So being not so graceful  and having a giant swollen body part for 3 days I want sure I was walking material today.  But I've been bearing weight and pain free for 24 hours. 

    I took my chances and while I was a tad gimpy I managed.  So  I am not a graceful walker but today I am a grateful one! !!   And tomorrow morning  I'm scheduled to walk with another good friend!!!

    So here is  to legs that work and friends who go with you side by side! !!

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Day 5- happy time

    Schools back in session . I loved the down time with my family. Tonight I had a meeting for the non profit water wells my family and I help build.  I saw so many friends at that meeting that I haven't seen in so long! !!
    ooh how I have missed them! ! It was so good to hug their  necks and they missed me and made me feel so welcome and loved!

    These friends share not only laughter and kindness with me but a mutual love for God and His service.   That love  shows in the way they unconditionally love me and my family.   They give the presence of God tangible manifestation and I'm so grateful and happy! !

    Sunday, January 4, 2015

    Day 4 -common madness

    So winding down the holiday break and I for one am ready to get on a schedule !!! So I've soo enjoyed my family. We have fought the crud a bunch over the past few weeks and unfortunately my middle girl is sick with cough and fever.
    While I am grateful for modern medicine, warm house and a doctor if neccesarry. I am totally totally excited that tonight is a season premier of OUR show. And since she's sick it's all ice cream for dinner as,we freak/geek out on Downton Abbey!!!!!!


    Saturday, January 3, 2015

    Day 3- First time is a charm

    Okay if you made resolutions how are those going?  I can have a goal in the distance but I do better on a day to day resolutions. When done consistently they add up to the finish line.

    The garage went great. All done. I will post pics soon (thank you my cousin for the demand of proof)

    Today I am going to be grateful for the college chick. She leaves tomorrow to head back for her classes. I have really enjoyed her.  I'm very proud of the young lady she is becoming.

    It is really a wonder first children turn out at all. They are the experiment child where we do all the trial and error. But as in everything God takes our circumstances and makes them for good. She is my most forgiving child. I guess she had a lot of practice when she was young!!  Marc and I are not perfect parents and we were quick to correct ourselves and seek forgiveness from each other and our children. Many feel this is a sign of weakness or undermines our authority.  It has not. It has shown our children the aspects of grace and mercy. It has shown that we as parents are also under authority from our loving Father and that our love is yet a poor reflection of His great love for us.

    So blessed our we to have 3 beautiful gifts from God. Today we are shopping as a family and will load college girl up with all the necessities for another semester: Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausages, Toilet Paper and her Favorite Shampoo.  It is a small gesture but for a budget conscious college kid that coconut pricey shampoo is the real deal.

    Friday, January 2, 2015

    New year - second day

    Well here we are at day 2 of the new year. It's starting slow because we,are all on vacation and have no schedule.  It will soon be upon us with school starting next week.  But for now we are still bums.  Plus it was major college football time last night and well it didn't exactly go our way.
    Who knew that 2015 would make me a Oregon Duck fan?
    Today I am choosing to be grateful for my gift of a husband Marc Hill. That man has loved me through it all.  Good times, ugly times, sick times, prosperous times, and broke times. His love comes in the  reflective form  of Jesus through  sacrifice and service .
    Marc's native language is service . Want to know you're loved by him?  Just look at his actions. He always puts his family first from choosing a job, planning his schedule or spending his money the Hill tribe benefits from his every action.

    So today an important item on his list will be taken care of by me.  
    The garage is as close to a man cave as he will ever get and 
    unfortunately it looks like this right now.

    stop judging me

    What the heck is all this ,as Marc likes to call it , "debris" doing here?  Well some would be Christmas that was taken down and never put up. Some is " crafty" items left over from making gifts. Nothing says "we have been in here daddy " like a  touch of glitter on the work bench   The rest I like to file under " miscellaneous " otherwise known as I -might-totally-need-this-one-day treasures.  Did I mention what a patient and tolerant man he is?

    So today the love in action plan is to restore the garage to its former glory. 
    Minus a few specks of glitter here and there. Glitter is like  the chlamydia of the craft world,  it just keeps on spreading. At the very least I want to clear it enough that he won't trip over the giant bottle of modge podge on his way to retrieve an allen wrench.

    Wish me luck I'm going in.