27 August 2013

August Advocacy

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Thankfulness. We honored to stand beside so many of you in your faithful service to God and His call to love and care for the orphan. Join us in praising God for the work that He continues to do through the Church!

Listen in on HIS provision in Honduras and the opportunity to join the work through sponsorship...

Centro Vida Construction Complete // HONDURAS
Please enjoy this video featuring Honduras' brand new multi-purpose building, Centro Vida, which includes assembly space as well as a large kitchen. This building is just part of the incredible work going on in Honduras to equip over 575 vulnerable children & young adults with not only the Gospel, but hope for a future!

It's exciting to see Centro Vida's completion on Plan Escalon's 25th anniversary of serving orphans and vulnerable children.

Want to see more updates at Plan Escalon? Check out the kitchen renovation video thanks to the amazing help from our partners at Retail Orphan Initiative.

When choosing a sponsor child, Vicki noticed that Lesly was an older student, but in a younger grade. Vicki intentionally chose to sponsor Lesly, understanding that something had happened in her life to cause her to fall behind. She wanted Lesly to know she cared and believed in her.
Listen in as Vicki, member of Retail Orphan Initiative, meets the students she sponsors at Plan Escalon and the impact that it is making not only in her heart, but in the heart of her sponsored children...

Read more about Child Sponsorship...
What Child Sponsorship is All About -- Beautiful story of a sponsor child moved to tears and prayer when he heard that his sponsor was in a car accident. Read more

Be a Light Through Sponsorship -- Read a post from Lifesong's summer blog series featuring Sponsorship. Read more

Dear _____, I love you. -- JB, student at Lifesong Liberia, wrote to a sponsor he did not yet have. Fill in the blank for JB! Read more

"I will not stop serving the Lord" -- Watch the testimony of the life of Haggai, student of Lifesong Zambia. Watch Video

Breaking the Cycle in Ukraine -- Natasha's life and future was changed by the mentorship she found through Lifesong Ukraine. Watch Video to hear her story.

14 August 2013

To A New Mama

My sweet baby boy is now one; from breathing his first breaths, saying his first words, taking his first steps, throwing his first tantrums - it has been quite a year.

For this occasion, I wrote the Roranicus Rex, Destroyer of Worlds, a letter. But that is private. So instead, I will share with you what I would write to myself, one year ago...

Rory with his first Gelato Cone.

Darling and Blessed Woman,

This is it. You have been patient, at least, you were patient sometimes. You have have endured. You have been tried and tested; physically, emotionally, psychologically - some tests were easier than others. But this is it. That moment you have waited for. You, beautiful woman, are a Mama.

The little one you carry in your arms is your beloved child and you are his Mama. I know it doesn't feel real and you cannot believe that he is actually yours, but believe me? He is. Write down these moments, photograph them, but mostly just live in them. For as cliche as it is, your child will grow faster than you can grasp and you will never again have this second, this millisecond, with him.

Mama, you will get advice - so much advice. Some of it will be good, but most of it will be nonsense. You are the mama now, you make the decisions you feel are right. Trust your instincts. People will tell you that they "love this stage" and you will stare, open mouthed and covered in exhaustion from the night before. But be gracious, someday you too will be coveting the days before. Say "thank you" and move along. Time is the rosiest pair of glasses. Dear one, sometimes it will not be advice, but criticism. Know whose words to take to heart, and whose to let pass over you. There may be friends lost over such words, but there may be friendships strengthened through them as well. Keep heart.

Speaking of advice... Drink water. Carry that water bottle with you wherever you go, along with a string cheese. You won't realize you're hungry or thirsty until it is too late. And then you will be tired, grumpy, and still needing to feed your tiny one regardless.

Trust me when I say, it is okay to be frustrated. Sometimes you will not want to wake up at 3am. Sometimes it will be all you can do to not just put your fingers in your ears and bury your head in the covers. Sometimes, you will do those things. Say a quick prayer for patience, for calm, for love. Because it will not always be easy to just pour out love on a screaming little one, especially as he gets older. Practice doing it now. It is normal to get upset, it is normal to be frustrated, even angry! Don't blame yourself. If you need to take a moment away? Take one. That's what husbands are for, after all.

You will be overwhelmed, Mama, by the love you feel for this small inscrutable human. Tell him. Tell him everyday. Show him. Especially on the days you don't feel like it, especially on the days he yells at you, especially when he bites you, especially when he throws his head into his hand and screams because he cannot communicate.

Put down your phone, get off the internet, turn off the television. Spend time doing whatever it is he wants to do. Whether that is to tear all the books off the book shelf and hand them to you one by one so he can climb onto it, or run around outside eating the lettuce out of your garden. Encourage him to play by himself, but always be there to engage when he wants to play with you. Because there will be a day when he is no longer interested in asking you to join his fun. Show him how to help you do the things your doing, because he loves to do laundry with you and drawing is fun!

You were made for this, you were made to do this. It doesn't mean it will all come naturally, it doesn't mean it won't be so difficult it brings you to tears - it simply means that it can be done and you can do it. And yes, someone else might seem to be better at it, but they aren't you. They were not made perfectly for this child in this moment, you were. He will look like his daddy, but have your eyes. He will be strong willed and full to the brim of emotion! Just like his mama.

There is so much I could tell you, sweet new Mama, but I think I'll let you find the rest out for yourself. Pay attention, there will be so much!

With infinite love,

02 August 2013

Like They Do On The Discovery Channel?

Marko and I attend one of the many Small Groups at our church and this Summer our topic is? Marriage. Well, at least, that's the vague one word summary of what we are studying. And this week we discussed "When Love Sizzles" ... aka sex - yah, I'm not going to pretend that the study isn't cheesy, but most of it is decent teaching. One of the questions following the session was "What are some of the damaging aspects of culture to sex?" The answers from around the room were good, but they focused primarily on the damage pop culture has done to sex - leaving out the serious damage that church culture has done to it.

It's true that in this day and age? Sex is all we want to talk about. Where and how people are doing it and with who - or what. We are hyper-sexualized, women are only as good as what they'll show and men are only as good as their six-pack abs on a billboard. There is television, Pinterest, Tumblr, and photo after photo of what "sexy" is. Sex is easily accessible. In fact, it's hard to avoid it. Everyone has poor self image these days, it's impossible not to with all the damage this over stimulation does to our psyches.

But we know it.

We know the superficial nature of pop songs and that "rush" of a new relationship versus the "stagnant" nature of a long term one. We know the injury porn can sometimes place on a relationship. We know the problems with allowing young girls to read Cosmo and Teen Vogue. We see the anorexia, bulimia, rape culture - and not just in women. We watch the rate of sex before marriage sky rocket, the divorce rate rise steadily, and the number of dysfunctional teen moms captivate television audiences everywhere. We know it's damaging.

But what about the damage we as a Church have done to sex?
Because our sin is equal to that of the media.
We force sex under the bed covers, shaming it and any discussion of it. With women and young girls, we teach them to "control" and "tone down" their sexuality; t-shirts over bathing suits, high-necked shirts, finger-tip length skirts and shorts. We tell them modesty only concerns keeping their legs closed and that purity is tied directly to their virginity and once you lose it? You can't get it back. We reproach men for finding a woman who is not their spouse attractive while encouraging a misplaced sense of machismo at the same time. We demand romance from our men while maintaining that they need to stop acting so feminine and "man up." It is a confusing, backwards, hurtful place where words like "abomination" and "sexual deviancy" and "aversion" are common place. The question arises, what does good sex even look like within the context of the Church? Because simply answering "marriage" doesn't do it. There is damaging and hurtful sex within marriages.
It's blurry.
Until we can openly and honestly have discussions within both cultures without the fear of being labeled "prude" or "sinful," sex will continue to be harmful. Not just when media tones down the sex and the Church amps up the "sizzle" factor, but when both come together to have an appropriate and in depth conversation. This is just identification of the problem and a lot could be said and speculated on how to heal the damage being done, but that is for another day. There is so much more to say and write on the subject and other people that I much admire have written about it here, here, here, here & here, or here - just to name a few.

01 August 2013

The Comeback

You may or may not remember that for my 24th birthday, I created a Quarter List - 25 things I wanted to have accomplished/be heading toward by the time I turned 25. I think the list was and is a good idea. But I may possibly have changed my mind on several of the items... and already accomplished others!
4 Build furniture rather than purchase it. We have remained tried and true on this point. Our pretty bathroom counter is almost finished (we were out of the state for essentially two months, give me a break) and we have much pine and other fun woods to create other furniture for ourselves - as well as for SKATEBOARDS. Yah. My husband is essentially a Superhero.

5 Stick to a budget. So, we have not done this. But we were all over the place for two months (figuratively as well as literally), so my hope is to get a budget set up and in place by September... look at all that realistic planning from the girl who can't keep track of a planner.

6 Size 4 Jeans. This girl? Wearing size 3 jeans and size Small leggings, WHAT UP?! Let me be totally honest, and say that my jeans fit in a snug manner and I am by no means in the greatest shape of my life. But mostly I am just really proud of myself! In two weeks it will be one year after baby and I fit in the same size jeans as I did in High School! That's awesome. I have to work hard at sticking to it though - the days of easy metabolism are kind of gone. Although, I will admit I have a strangely large amount of gelato in my diet... joy!

7 Sew clothes rather than purchase them. Nope, haven't done it. I have a stack sitting on my sewing machine that need love and I just haven't gotten to it. Maybe once Summer calms the frick down.

8 Continue to grow hair out.
Photo: So awesome!

Changed my mind! I now have a mohawk, thanks to Nikki at The Loft, and I FREAKING LOVE IT. I will try to get more pictures up as I try new things with it... Reasoning for changing my mind? One: my son likes to pull hair when he is upset or tired and ow. Two: You need a lot of time in order to really do anything with long hair where as this took me 5 minutes. Three: After I had Rory, I suddenly had this overwhelming sense of doubt that I had to sacrifice who I was in order to "become a mom," and while I whole heartedly believe in sacrificial living, I do not think that is what I was doing. I saw the image of what a mom is supposed to look like and it upset me that I did not resemble it. Having long hair wasn't the whole story, but I think I finally remembered and got comfortable with the fact that I am still that woman who loves pretty pearls and mohawks, wears gauged earrings and sun dresses, believes in minimal make-up and maximum sass - all while now having a baby on my hip.

9. Blog twice a week. Ha. Ha. I'll work on it.

14 Kiddo Number Two. We are not there yet, but I think it's nearing. There is a post-pregnancy period where you want want want another baby, then you don't ever want another baby, and then you come full circle to where you're comfortable with the idea, but when the time is right. And right now? We are just too busy to even think about it. Although I will say, I bought a very cute dress for a little girl the other day...

16 Harvest our own honey. We expanded our hive in June and will maybe try to harvest a screen or two in September before snuggling the bees into a comfortable place for the winter. Our bees are doing pretty well and we love them.

19 Second Income. Like I've said, we got really busy there for awhile, but I think we have created several avenues to maybe start an Etsy shop... I'm pretty excited to tell you about it once it's a reality!

20 Homeschooling. I'm ankle deep in the craziness that is a homeschool curriculum for my little one, I just have to make the time to really dive off into the deep end...

25. One Year Album. This is number one on my priority list right now, as Rory will be a One Year Old in less than two weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!! <<< Craziness. I'm trying to pool together photos and other things in order to get it all together. He already loves opening gifts, so I know he will love his birthday (we are just going to wrap empty boxes because, let's face it, he doesn't care about toys as much as the box).

Thanks for all the love and support these last two months, it's been great. We are close to being able to send out our letter - make sure you let me know if you'd like a physical copy or an email copy or whatever you want! I will try to make dreams come true, but no promises - this isn't Disneyland...

Or is it?