Monday, November 3, 2014

Forgetting to Say Thank You

Thankful to be writing for Today's Frugal Mom.

"Thanksgiving is about expressing gratitude.  It’s a time to reflect on the things we have been given, the things we have been kept from, and the things the Lord has removed from our lives.
To get into the spirit of the holidays, we moms typically create daily exercises of gratefulness by making lists of what we are thankful for and posting them on our Facebook pages. We make paper or stick trees to hang leaf ornaments on, until finally we gather around a table overflowing with food, and one by one we share our Thanksgiving appreciation with others.
Teaching our children and reminding ourselves about gratitude is a powerful tool that we should all apply to our lives, but often we miss the real point of these activities." Continue reading here.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Consuming Consumption

School is starting again and I've written another article for Today's Frugal Mom.

"School fliers arrive in the mail touting one-cent glue and crayons for a quarter.  Week after week in August, big chain stores make me believe that I need several hundred binders; they make me wonder how I am existing without hole reinforcements for loose-leaf paper.  Flash forward to September when I have enough glue for three kindergarten classes and possess more hole punches and push pins than any family would ever need in their entire life.  Not to mention, my collection of binders in rainbow colors has grown exponentially and all of my children are wearing hole reinforcements like French manicures.
I’m not sure why I do this to myself. Not just at back-to-school time, but practically every time I am presented with an opportunity to acquire something with little or no money.  A clearance rack, a yard sale, a dollar store–suddenly I should be on a TLC show because my appetite for inexpensive material things is insatiable.  Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not opposed to having extra things on hand.  I totally see the value in that. My issue is having things on hand and then never using them.  My problem is stockpiling.  Truly, if there is ever a shortage of glue at your local office supply store, it’s probably because I bought it all.
Over a year ago, God began speaking with me about my consumption and how it was consuming my life." Continue reading here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Because She's Happy

Another article for Today's Frugal Mom

"My friend posted a beautiful picture of her daughter jumping at the water’s edge on a sandy beach with the caption, “Because she’s happy!”  It made me think about my own children at the beach.  They jump, shriek, dance, and roll in the water and sand for no other reason than pure joy.  It’s a beautiful thing, with inhibitions lost in the moment of expressing unadulterated happiness.
Her photo made my soul smile, but the more I thought about it, it made me a little sad, too.  My sadness wasn’t for my friend or her daughter, but for my children and me.  My friend’s daughter has Down Syndrome and, while I am no expert on the matter, every person I have ever met with Down’s has never lost their ability to express their contagious child-like joy.  My kids, on the other hand, most likely will, because somewhere on this journey through life I’ve lost mine.
It’s not that I am not joyful, but somewhere I picked up and applied a joy filter to my life.  I think many of you can relate.  It tends to happen when we become cognizant of others and how they will perceive us, of how they will judge.  We begin forfeiting the opportunity to fully embrace our joy, because we stifle the actions that our bodies yearn to express."  Continue reading here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When Your Kid Stops Believing

"My 16-year-old son came home from spending a week at a renowned Christian camp and announced that he didn’t know if he believed  in God anymore.  Not the thing a mom would expect to hear within five minutes after getting in the car with the kid who was just high-fived by the entire coach bus of students and leaders and seemingly couldn’t stop smiling.  Nope.  I was expecting the typical camper spiritual high.  The on-fire-for-Jesus excitement after total Jesus immersion for a week.  Instead I got the 'I don’t know if this God stuff is for me.'” Continue reading here.

Sharing my heart on Today's Frugal Mom.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sheltered Lives

My latest article for Today's Frugal Mom:

"   My children wear seat belts in the car.  I make them wear helmets when they ride things with wheels.  I limit their candy intake.  I have a water filter on our sink to ensure the water they drink is clean. I don’t allow them to play by the road. These are typical boundaries to ensure our children’s safety that I think most people would agree upon, because they physically protect our kids.
However, when I say my children are not allowed to watch certain movies or t.v. shows, people tell me I’m overprotective. If I mention that our teenagers are not allowed to date, people think I am robbing them of their youth.  When I mention that one of the reasons I homeschool is because I would like input into who is influencing our children’s lives, people assume I am controlling.
I find the irony somewhat amusing that people of today’s culture would never want their children to have skinned knees because of the scar it would leave, but they believe that a teenager with a broken heart builds character."...  Continue reading here...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Laundry Washing World Changer

This women is an artisan in a residential program in Tennessee that provides housing, food, dental, medical, therapy, education and job training for women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction.
I think most people want to make a difference in the lives of others, but often they don't know how.

That was me.

Wanting to make a difference in my home, in my new community, in the world, but completely unaware of how to do it.    I wanted to fulfill the commandment of Christ to make disciples in all the nations.  It was a command I had been neglecting.  I knew this command went deeper than monetary support with our sponsor child and missionary support. He was calling me to take action.  I was excited at the prospect and wanted to get messy, get loud, get moving, but I still had a husband and seven kids to care for.  That's when I sought out Trades of Hope.

They are doing the work.  They aren't just throwing money at the world's problems, they are changing lives by empowering women; strengthening community by giving hope; transforming generations by breaking harmful cycles; and because of that they are making disciples in all the nations.

I thought, "Amen! I want to be a part of that!"

Thanks to Trades of Hope I can. I can actively pursue helping others, building relationships, being an advocate, making disciples, and still keep up with my children's neverending laundry. Life changing and Laundry? Amen, again!

I am now a voice for a woman whose voice is lost across the sea, whose voice is stifled by government, pimps, and culture.  I think you will want to be her voice too and the way to get her talking is wearing her handmade goods. When someone asks you about it, you tell her story and then her voice is heard once more.

Help me change lives:
This woman is an artisan from a group in Uganda that feeds, educates, and encourages orphaned and vulnerable children and families in Uganda.
This woman is an artisan from a group in Uganda that feeds, educates, and encourages orphaned and vulnerable children and families in Uganda.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31:8-9

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Touch of Jesus

I've been missing.

I know I've been MIA from the bloggysphere before, this time my excuse was legit.  We have picked up all we have known, everything our children were familiar with and left it behind as we transplanted from one coast to the other.

It's been tough.
It's been tougher than tough.
It's sucked.

After months of loneliness, of frustration, of loathing; I have sought the Lord and endured.  It's not a hundred percent, but I'm walking.  I'm lonely, frustrated, and occasionally loathing but I'm holding His hand.

I feel it.

Here's my latest article for Today's Frugal Mom:

"My family is in the midst of one of the biggest transitions of our lives.  We have moved back to the state where both my husband and I grew up.  It’s where we went to school, where we fell in love, and where all of our extended family resides."...  Continue reading here...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

God and the Guinea Pig

Yesterday a guinea pig made me angry at God.

It had been coming.  The guinea pig was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.  I'm quite aware of how ridiculous this sounds. I'm also aware this isn't right, afterall, who am I to be angry at the Creator of the Universe?  But I was. Kinda still am.

Two months ago we moved back to the town where my husband and I grew up.  For 18 years we had been living in California where we started our family, had a nice home, a church family that blessed us beyond belief, and friends that were our family.  We left it behind to connect with our roots.  To give our kids green grass and lightening bugs.  I thought it was what I wanted, I thought it would be great, I thought it was what the Lord wanted for us and now I think I want to go back and this was all a big mistake.

Before you launch into the "How's Your Heart Checklist":
✅I've been praying about it.  ✅I've been in the Word everyday.  I still feel the same.  I still feel like God isn't saying a thing on the topic.  Actually, He doesn't seem to be saying anything about anything I've been bringing to his attention.  I thought maybe I am too needy and instead of asking, I should be thanking for the blessings I do have.  ✅So I've been intentional in praising.
All I'm getting is a dial tone.

We have found a house at our new locale, but can't do anything about it till our old house sells- which it's not.  The realtor says it doesn't look promising, but I remind myself nothing is impossible with my God.  We have desperately been church shopping and can't find what we want or where we feel a connection.  We continue to seek, because scripture says eventually we will find.
I feel like we are in limbo on every level.

It's not just been about me though, I've been petitioning heaven for those I love:  a dear friend who died from cancer, his sweet wife he left behind; my friend fighting immigration laws to be reunited with her husband and how she spent Valentine's alone; a friend from high school and her devastated family who lost one of their own to a battle with cancer as well; for my lonely kids to make friends; our sixteen-year-old devising a plan to go back to Cali because he hates it here so much.
It's tough.

I'm questioning God and everything else. I feel as if the things I've been praying for shouldn't be on God's radar anyway, after all, people in the world don't have clean drinking water, others need doctors and food, people are being trafficked.  Who am I that I should even matter?  I have the basic necessities and I'm praying for a freaking house.  Why does it matter to me?  I guess the better question is, does it even matter?  Because if it does, He ain't talking.

I was thinking it was just his will not to answer right now concerning the house, but nothing is being answered in my favor, is it possible that I'm just asking for everything wrong?

Enter the guinea pig.  We were having a particularly rough day yesterday.  Everyone was bickering, shoving, getting on one another's nerves so I decided for sanity's sake to go for a drive.  I told the kids it was a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure drive.  At certain stop signs and lights I'd ask left or right and they had control over where we would go.  About 40 minutes into the trip we decided to visit a farm auction so the kids could see the animals and we could stuff our feelings with soft pretzels.  The time was enjoyable and as we were leaving we saw a tiny guinea pig in a cage laying on its side breathing heavily.We brought the little fella's condition to the attention of one of the nearby workers who reached in, scooped him out and headed to the trashcan.  The waterworks welled up in all of our eyes and I asked the man if we could take it instead.  The man obliged but his stern farmers face knew we were just prolonging the inevitable.  I was determined to prove him wrong because...Jesus!  And that's what we named him, Jesus.  We took that little guinea pig and wrapped him in a cloth diaper I had in the truck to keep him warm and began the drive home.  We prayed over this little guy, like prayed-prayed, like Benny-Hinn-heal-what-ails-you prayers.  I had the faith of the mustard seed, I was certain that if I told the mountains to move, they would have said, "Sure thing, Erica, to the left or the right?"  Piled in the truck with the heat going and the radio on we were joyful, singing songs, laughing and imagining how to retell the story to Brian and my parents of how Jesus entered our lives. We only had twenty minutes until we were to arrive home when our efforts failed or maybe it was just God's lack of effort. Jesus breathed his last breath and lay limp in Brynna's hands.  Seriously. God, could you not have given us this?  Given us little furry Jesus to show us in a tangible way that despite appearances you are still with us in this?  That you care and all that other stuff was going to be okay?  The answer was No.  A big fat nopety-nope.

I know I have no right to question the Creator of the Universe, and you can think I am teetering on blasphemy, but I'm still kind of mad that Jesus died. That I'm doing the Christian check boxes and he is making me out to be a liar in front of my kids, in front of the friends asking me to pray, and making me question is this for real.  I have no right to be angry I know, but feelings are a funny thing.