Friday, December 13, 2013

Fives on Friday- FIVE places to shop that give back

This Christmas season I have tried really hard to shop locally and to shop at non profits and organizations that give back to others.  Here are just FIVE of the many that are available.

1- Beautiful and beloved-
Every purchase you make will help empower a survivor of slavery. They have amazing necklaces, bracelets, scarfs, purses and other amazing pieces.  They also have men's wallets.  Each piece tells a story of someones life and what they are trying to do to overcome injustice in their lives.

2- Mercy Ink-
Each gift helps support adoption.  They create beautifully designed prints, and necklaces.  They have prints specifically designed for adoption as well.

3- Amazima Ministry-
OK, So I totally want to be Katie Davis when I grow up.  She runs a huge ministry in Uganda Africa. Her ministry employs Ugandan woman and feed hungry children.  They have beautiful paper bead necklaces.

4- Punjammies -
This is a great place to get awesome pajamas! The international Princess Program supports women who have been freed from sex trafficking and help them achieve lives of hope and dignity.

5- Sole Hope-
This is a pretty awesome place too!  You can buy T-shirts, shoes, and bags, but the really neat thing is that you can host a shoe cutting party.  Sole Hope cleans and heals the feet of those infected with jiggers in Africa by creating closed toed shoes. Shoes heal and protect feet from further infection.  Sole Hope also employs the men and women in Uganda and surrounding areas to actually sew the shoes together.  

 These are only FIVE of the thousands of organizations available. Research and find the perfect gifts for your loved ones this season.  This season purchase to change a life! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where did Christmas Go? And Why didn't I see it leave?

The kids and I just watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Its one of my favorite movies.  Jim Carrey does a great job being Grinchy.  He's mean, vile, stinky, and lacks the Christmas spirit completely.  I mean he eats glass and his dirty socks run away from him.  He steals presents, trees, and even the last can Who Hash.

  During this season we all can get  mean, vile and stinky.  Some of us can even lack Christmas spirit. I know that we each can have our own Grinch moments. Maybe we get a little annoyed waiting in the incredibly long line just to buy a shirt that we are sure they will return.  Maybe its trying to find a parking spot at the mall that does you in.  (I mean really, can anyone drive this time of year?)  Maybe its looking for the only thing your child asked for, only to find out the store is completely out.  Christmas can be hard.  Christmas can be crazy. Christmas can be grinchy.  But it's something else...There is something that lingers in some of our hearts.  Something that you can't put your finger on, or you just don't want to admit it.

There is another  little character in this story that has a big presence in our hearts.  A small Who, or What that needs to be talked about.
Cindy Lou Who...  Cindy Lou is the littlest Who. That's the Who that has all of the what's that makes all of us think...Where did Christmas go?

She doesn't get all of the stuff that we call Christmas.  The hustle bustle, maxing out credit cards, buying ridiculous gifts.  Feeling pressure to make ornaments, throw a party, bake cookies, make unquie wholesome family memories.

The pressure!  For some of us the pressure is just under the surface waiting to explode.  For others, we are still trying to figure out where to even start.  Thanks to Pinterest we are all completely inadequate.

Cindy Lou Who- Where are you Christmas

I find myself searching to find Christmas...
Where did it go?  What happened?  When did it disappear, and where was I when it left?  How could Christmas up and leave right under my nose?

Last year and the year before I remember it.  I participated.   I remember the presents and wrapping paper.  I remember decorating,  and mall searching.  I remember countless trips to Target searching for THAT toy.  I even remember a year when my husband was out on Christmas Eve looking for something, anything, that we could wrap and give as a gift.

I remember the panic of thinking we "forgot" someone on our list.  I remember stressing out about 'how many' gifts family  members had, and how we could make it even.  Searching through the piles of presents and making sure that everything was fair.

I remember the MORE.  I remember the WHAT.  I remember the HOW MUCH.  The EXCESSIVE.  

That's what Christmas is all about, Right?

The hustle, bustle, presents.   Crowded malls, long lines, sale items and maxed out credit cards.  Consumerism at it's finest.  

We want to live up to all of the imaginary expectations.  We want to participate.  After all, that's what we have always done, each year it gets bigger and bigger.  We try so hard to create a manger scene out of toilet paper rolls, or wrap a wreath in burlap, only to fail and add to the stress of the season.  

Y'all it's hard to see past the stuff and see the stable.  Its hard to FEEL the season and not just be a participant in it.  Christmas is not about a checklist of duties and gifts.  It is about THE gift.  The only gift that has ever mattered...EVER!

Take some time this season and just be like Cindy Lou Who.   Think of the WHY and the WHO.  Try to FEEL the season and FEEL the presence of Jesus.  He is there, He is always there.  Take time in the hustle and bustle to celebrate the true reason.  Celebrate the birth of our savior that was born for us and died for us.  Perfectly human and perfectly God.

Cindy Lou Who got it right in my opinion.  She sought after the "least of these".  She looked after the homeless, the hungry, the naked, sick,  and thirsty. (Matthew 25: 31-46).  She went after the one whose heart was two sizes to small.  The one that no one had hope for, I mean he didn't even receive Christmas cards.  

I pray that you can go after this season with a new attitude.  Not an attitude of more, but an attitude of less.  The least...

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (God with us)

Read about the true meaning of Christmas...
Matthew 1:18-2:1-12
Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-21

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Advent (better late than never)

For the past few years my family and I have celebrated the Christmas season with a countdown to Jesus birthday.  Each day of the countdown the boys open a bag.  In the bag is a bible verse for the day representing the birth of our Savior.  Each bag also has a random act of kindness, or a special treat, craft or family activity.  

I have made my own bags in the past and used paper bags. Never really pleased with the outcome.    This year I finally found affordable burlap bags at Micheal's!  I love them and they were $1.00 for two.

We hang the bags on the garland going up our stairs, that way we do not forget to open the bag for the day.

I printed and laminated the bible verses. I could not find my original list, but I did find another one you could use. 

Every year I add to our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.  I try really hard to meet the needs of our local community.  I encourage you to look in your own community and and make an impact.  Call your church, the homeless shelter, the local hospital or nursing home.  Ask what needs your family can meet.  Remember that you do not have to give money.  Your time and your gifts are truly valuable as well. 

Below is the list that I add and change to every year.

Advent- Countdown to Christmas

-      Take a box of toys, puzzles, balls, crayons, coloring books to local Children’s hospital.
-      Place one dollar bills throughout the dollar store.
-      Drop off laundry detergent and dryer sheets at Laundromat.
-Bake cookies and goodies to give away to the fire dept.
-Bake cookies and goodies to give to neighbors.
-Buy toys for needy kids.
-Pick up buggy's from the parking lots.
-Go Christmas caroling.
-Make ornaments to give to local nursing home.
-Place post it notes with encouragement throughout Target.
-Offer to babysit for free.
-Give out gift cards to strangers.
-Drive through neighborhoods and look at Christmas lights with hot chocolate.
-Make star twig ornaments to give away
-Cook a meal for a friend, just because.
-Leave a note of encouragement on a car windshield.
-Tie balloons to random cars
-Collect canned goods from neighbors and donate to local food pantry.
-Pay for the next person in takeout line.
-Donate books to a preschool, school or library.
-Take gently used toys to preschool.
-Write cards to grandparents and mail them.
-Give sweet treats to our mailman, dry cleaners, garbage men.
-Collect old clothes and donate to shelter.
-Do something nice for a family member, siblings.
-Take a giant can of coffee to homeless shelter.
- Use sidewalk chalk and go to a friends house and draw pictures and write words of encouragement on their driveway.

Please comment below for other fun family ideas, I am always looking to add to my list.
Happy Advent!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

People with kids

An Ode to parents everywhere...You are not alone.

People with kids are tired.

People with kids have broken furniture.

We have to go to places like Monkey Joes, and Chucky Cheese.

People with kids have 'refrigirator art'.

We can give "the look".

We can count to three very well.

Our couch has been peed on.

If we get a candy bar, we have to share.

We receive gifts of weeds and dead bugs, and display them proudly.

We have piles of dirty laundry.

People with kids have sticky floors.

We can recite Disney Movies verbatim.

We eat our food in shifts, even when its cold.

People with kids never sleep alone.  We usually have a foot in our face.

We wipe snot on our jacket sleeves.

People with kids drive mini vans, and still think they are super cool. 

People with kids read the same books over and over again.

We say "Yay!, good job" when our child falls down.

Grown men wear princess hats and have tea parties.

Grown women cry over a scribbled, colored piece of paper.

People with kids...

I am a "People with kids".  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  The snot, crying, screaming, laughing, giggling little joys that God has blessed us with, are ours.  Only on loan from the Lord.  They make me better. I am constantly striving to be the mom they need me to be.

During this crazy season filled with artificial things, keep your eyes to the one who create you to be a "People with kids".  And remember that you are a child of God.  He is the ultimate Father, who sent His child to us, to save us...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fives on Friday (Finally)

Here are FIVE of my favorite songs right now.  Enjoy!

1- 10,000 reasons; Matt Redman

My kiddos sing this song constantly.  I love hearing there sweet little voices belt it out!

2- Give me Faith; Elevation Worship

Almost every time I hear this song I have to stop what I am doing and just lift my hands up!

3-Lead me to the Cross; Hillsong United

This song has special meaning for me.  We sang this in Peru at every village we visited.  It is a representation of that trip and what Jesus did to me, and through me.

4- White Flag; Chris Tomlin

I love this...Makes me feel ready to go out for Jesus!!

5-One Thing Remains; Jesus Culture

This song gives me hope.  No matter what I am going through...Jesus never gives up!

Take some time and listen to these songs.  Allow God to speak to your heart today!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

my littles...

In keeping with my other posts of prayer I wanted to share with you my biggest prayers come true!
I pray for them daily.  I lay hands on the them, I pray for them while they are at school.  I pray for their futures, and for their hearts.  I pray that they hold on to Jesus through out their lives.  I pray that they learn from my mistakes, and learn that God is gracious and kind and merciful.  I pray that they use their Dad as an example of a Godly man, one who seeks the Lord in all decisions.  I pray they will be great Godly men who make a difference for Jesus.

God granted me with three amazing little men! These three are His! 

Tyler- The "T"man

Kind, loving, he has the gifts of faith, mercy, and evangelism.  Strong, creative, bold. 

Carter Joe- Silly 'Cartersauce"

Loving, creative, kind hearted, silly, witty.  He has the gift of discernment, mercy and serving.  Natural leader.  Encourager.

Walker James- "Bonafied" Goober

He is funny, always make you laugh.  Kind, caring.  His gifts are mercy, faith, and giving.  He is a natural protector. 

This season is a time of thankfulness.  I am beyond thankful for my three kiddos.  I am so blessed to be their momma.  Even when they paint with yogurt.  Even when they track mud throughout the house.  Even when they pee in public.  Even when they are more than I can handle, I know that God is handling them.  Growing them, growing me.

Are you thankful? 

"Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever"
Psalm 106:1

P.S. While I am writing this, my younger two were playing innocently in the backyard, so I thought.  They snuck and turned the water hose on.  They got soaked and muddy! It's NOVEMBER people!!  Hello....Sometimes I have to pray over and over "Give thanks to the Lord, His steadfast love endures" These children are a gift, with no exchange policy....

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Pray

"I pray because I can't help myself.  I pray because I'm helpless.  I pray because the need flows out of me all the time-waking and sleeping.  It does not change God-it changes ME". ~ C.S. Lewis

Are you praying for something?  Are you praying for someone?  What are you praying for?  What are you praying about?
Are you allowing God's will for your life?  

Don't take prayer for granted.  Let the Holy Spirit intervene for you.  Allow yourself to succumb to the Lord.  Listen. Sit Still. Be patient. Be bold. 

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Fives on Friday

Hey Y'all!
Fives on Friday is all about randomness. I will list five things each week...Whatever they may be. Hold on for the ride, you never know is swimming up in here!

Five things that I say almost everyday:
Don't judge. I lovingly refer to them as "Katieisms"

1- Over Yonder: refers to a location that is not near. "The ball is over yonder, can you please go get it?"

2- Reckon: mostly used to agree with someone. "Sure! I reckon we can go to a movie."

3- Full as a Tick: When you are hungry as a bear, and eat waaayy too much.

4- Britches: Hopefully your wearing them right now. (If not, I don't want to know)

5- Duh! Really, Who does that?: I had to combine these...They go together. Usually accompanied with "Hey, Y'all watch this"!

Bonus: Y'all: Plural, singular, hey you! Like 15 times a day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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Laying Hands=Praying Hands

Do you lay hands?  Do you pray over your family and friends?  No?  Then keep reading...

My first real experience came when I was in Peru for the first time.  We were hiking through the Andes Mountains when we came across a small mud hewn hut.  There were three women standing out front.  Two of them were probably in their mid 30's.  The other woman was in her late 60's.  In the yard was a little girl no more than three playing in the dirt.  As we walked upon their little house the older women ran to meet us.  She had tears in her eyes and she began to speak.  Her words were quiet and soft, but full of intention.  She spoke in Quechua to our translator.  We had no idea what she was saying, but we felt it.  One by one, each of the members of our team started to surround the woman.  The other women in the yard came and joined us.  We quietly stood and listened as the translator spoke to the women.  Then, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, we reached out and touched the woman.  We prayed.  She prayed.  Neither one of us understanding each other, but spiritually speaking, we were completely in sync. 

No one walked away from that experience with dry eyes.  The Holy Spirit was among us.   And not one walked away feeling the same.  Here we were a bunch of Americans walking through the mountains, and there God found us.  God met this lady right where she was.  Broken, desperate, and yearning for more.  More of Him. 

I have learned that laying hands is a gift that God has given us.  Laying hands when people are sick.  Lay hands when people need comfort.  Lay hands when people feel weak.  Lay hands when people are afraid.  Lay hands when people are hurt.

Laying hands is powerful.  I have felt the Holy Spirit’s presence.  His overwhelming power.  Once while riding in a van in Peru a friend had an anxiety attack.  There was no stopping the van.  After all, our driver didn’t look more than 15 years old.  The only thing we could do was pray.  We laid hands on her and prayed like never before.  We prayed for comfort and peace, and stillness.  Jesus showed up, my friend felt relief and comfort. 

My mom recently had surgery.  Before she went into the operating room, I laid hands and prayed.  The Holy Spirit showed up. 

We’ve laid hands on expectant moms and prayed them into their new adventure.  Prayed for a safe delivery and a peaceful motherhood.

I have laid hands on my sick children, my husband’s business trip.  You can lay hands on your teenage drivers car.  Lay hands on a physical building, a church, your home, and a new business. 

Sometimes at night I tiptoe in my kids room.  Quietly, sneaking through the strewn Legos and monster trucks.  I walk up to their bed and gently lay hands on my sweet kiddos.  I pray over them.  I pray for the day and their attitudes.  I pray for their futures and their wives.  I pray that I can be the best mommy I can be for them.  I pray that they show me grace and I show them the same.  Laying hands is powerful. 

My Quechua women had been praying for help to happen upon them.  Their tiny little village was under a dark spirit.  There had been much destruction and killing in her village.  She had been praying for help.  She just didn’t know that help showed up in the form of white faces and hands.  The power of prayer does not have a language barrier.  The power of prayer has no borders. 

I do not have a special power, or claim to be a healer of the sick.  My hands are no more special than your hands.   But I also know, that when we pray, the Holy Spirit shows up.   I believe that Jesus can do anything!!
Will you be so bold in your faith to lay hands?

2 Timothy 1:6
For this reason I remind you to fan into the flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands