07 November 2014

The Stupid Dumb Truth About Why I'm STILL Fundraising

I really want to start every blog post off with "Here's the thing..." but we will get to that in a minute.

Firstly, thank you for all of your words of caution, support, love, and weirdness. It is always nice to be heard - even if you were just venting and weren't quite expecting to cause such a raucous... 

Now, here's the thing.

I do not wish that I hadn't posted my last blog, nor would I change one word (not even the swearing). Because it was my honest, heartfelt cry of that moment. And let me tell you - the week only got worse from there. Our two year old is pushing boundaries, as they tend to do, and getting his two year old molars. Marko was laid off and I discovered more things that have fallen behind due to my computer crash at work. It was a week.

There were a fair amount of people who gave me insightful advice about reconsidering our pathway - but there were also a number of people who were like "Then why are you doing it?" or "It sounds like you didn't actually think about your life choices.

I don't know how to respond.

Why am I doing this? Because I feel called to it. No, that might not make sense, but if I gave up on everything in life that was difficult - what kind of life would that be?! I would definitely not have my two year old. I would definitely not be pregnant again. I would definitely not be married. I would definitely not have deep friendships. I would definitely not work at my job - or any job for that matter. I would definitely be a depressed, shallow, human being incapable of change.

Hard things are typically the things that shape you into a better human being than you were before. They grow you, transform and empower you. Trials create perseverance.

But knowing doesn't necessarily make it easier in the moment.

And sometimes we get to vent.
Publicly.
On the interwebs.

As to whether or not I think about my life choices. I think about them a lot. I pray about them constantly. In the month of October, I prayed and considered my life choices constantly. I don't necessarily feel the need to constantly update people about that.

A time when I didn't consider my life choices was when I was a high-functioning member of society my senior year of high school. I was severely depressed, on all kinds of substances, and no one knew. Because I didn't talk about it. I was the lead in the Spring Musical. I was on Leadership. I was the Prom Queen. I was told just the other day what a "treasure" I was in High School... I was confused.

Guys. Don't judge people by what you see. Or even what they vent on Facebook or Blogger. Instead, have deep conversations as you walk in relationship with them. Even if you don't understand what they are doing through. This is important. Because while I was just venting - sometimes there is a deeper need for conversation. Don't dismiss it and don't try to judge people in that one window you see them through.

We are still fundraising.

We are still fundraising because it is the path that we have chosen, it is still what we feel called to, and through this season in the desert - we will be transformed and learn.

29 October 2014

The Stupid Dumb Truth About Fundraising




My family's Underwood has been on display in our home for over forty seven years. It is the one my dad used over the years for taxes, I used to practice upon, and our kids played with.....quite an artifact! K.W.

I haven't written.

And I don't just mean published - I haven't even written anything.

I just can't.

I have been all consumed by the support raising process. Fundraising. Development. "Friendraising." You can call it whatever you want, it remains the same. And I am exhausted. Beyond exhausted. I don't even know what I am anymore.

Exhausted is what my toddler makes me when he wants to have a dance party for 30 minutes straight (dance parties with Rory involve a lot of running, jumping, and dipping low). Beyond exhausted is where I am living with fundraising. Enervated maybe? No, I think I have hit a stage beyond what the English language allows me.


71 Churches Contacted
20 Covenant Camps Contacted
6 Church Invites
2 Supporting Churches
30 Individual Supporters

I can't even tell you how utterly depressed this makes me. I have emailed every church within our conference and then some that aren't. I have tried to make it clear what we are going to do, even though I am unclear of it myself. I have read every book and just addressed 60 envelopes to people I don't really know, but knew me as a kid. I read blogs and advice, try to think of "creative fundraising methods," whatever that means. Emailing, reading, re-emailing, googling, calling, writing, addressing, labeling, stamping - I do this shit for hours upon hours.

And then?

I cry. I feel like this maybe isn't what I am supposed to be doing. I feel like maybe I am absolutely out of my mind. I feel like if this had been the right path, it would have happened for us already. I feel like a failure, like I'm not doing something right. And I literally don't know what else to do.

But here's the stupid part - the extra stupid part, anyway - I also don't feel like I'm allowed to let it go. Oh yah, you read me right. As soon as I sit down and cry and vent and think, "Maybe this is the end of this dream," I just a swift kick in the spine (literally) that reminds me that I don't get to quit. It's not that time, at least, not yet anyway.

I still believe in what we are going to do. Sure, I feel called by God to it, but you don't have to believe in God to understand it.

We are going to Oaxaca to learn about the people and the culture and walk with them as we try to figure out a way to eradicate poverty through education and sustainability; what that entails and how we can make it happen together.

It's not that complicated. Yet it seems damn near impossible to get anyone on board with that dream. And I don't know what else to do. I just don't. Every time I ask for advice, I feel everyone very genuinely telling me to do all of the things I have already done - sometimes out of the goodness of their hearts and sometimes out of other places...


There really is no point to any of this except to say: I haven't written. And I don't know that I will for awhile. I just don't have it in me. But I love you all and hope to be back to you soon.

04 September 2014

Autumn Activism



I am realizing more and more... it is not enough wish things were different.

So, what can be done? Because I often feel small and overwhelmed by the world and all of the things happening in it. I am just one person. You and I are just two people. But I also have Margaret Mead in the back of my mind..."Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Here's the deal - we live in a broken, fallen world. But we cannot expect anything to change if we are not willing to change. So... what to do?

William Pitt challenging William Wilberforce to look beyond the impossibility of ending the English slave trade in "Amazing Grace."
And isn't it lovely?

1. Have an opinion - not just the opinion of your parents, friends, coworkers, etc. Have one of your own. Educate yourself by not only listening to others who share your opinions, but also those who disagree with you. Make sure you have an open mind and hear what others have to say.

2. Educate yourself - constantly. Read articles and blogs, listen to the news on the radio and television, try to branch out from your normal go-to places of information to seek out new concepts and ideas.

3. Share - if you find it informative, odds are someone else will too. And with the amount we are inundated by vanity based posts on social media? We can always use one more source of knowledge over one more selfie.

4. Object - don't just let things happen, be a part of change. If you see or hear something that shouldn't be happening whether it's bullying, slut shaming, racism, sexism, ableism, a wrong statistic, an ignorant comment - make sure you say something. Don't wait for someone else.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke

5. Give - your time, your talents, and your treasure; volunteer, donate, write articles, share companies that do good things, expose companies that do bad things. Go and see with your own eyes, support those already doing amazing work around the world and in your own backyard.

6. Use your purchasing power - for good. They say if you want to see what really matters to a person, just look at their bank account summary. And it's true. We put our money where our hearts lie, and our dollars move and shape our world so spend them on companies and ideas that move and shape well.


7. If we are thinking, we are winning. Flobots basically sums up all things. If you are challenging what you know, if you are asking questions, if you are looking at the world around you instead of just your own life - you are winning. You are creating a world in which people must have answers for their actions and reasons for their doings. You are creating change.

We have the power to create change or we allow change to happen through our passivity. Remaining ignorant is no longer an excuse in an age where information and answers are just a click away.

In case you need some inspiration... here are some things I am semi-obsessed with right now:

You can't arrest an idea.
'Cause it's awesome.

http://areyouoverrated.com/
Because our generation needs to be challenged.

A91eb7f964b1f158b29c90d7b79e628d 
An online store that posts about products that do good in the world.

Feed Projects
Feeding kids for a full year - and you get a trendy bag.

http://www.noondaycollection.com/ 
Providing employment and education for women and children through the creation of cool products that you would love to have in your closet.

hems & fringes
All the time.


And this.




Sympathy is no substitute for action. David Livingstone, Missionary to Africa

So get out there and do something.
Me too. ;)

27 August 2014

Toddler Eats

So, we primarily make all our food from scratch. We have always been pretty "granola," but after reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker? Our cooking from scratch increased dramatically.

Most of our purchases are "whole foods" - meaning our grocery list is primarily organic fruits, veggies, and bulk items with some milk, eggs, cheeses, and meat on occasion. We bake our own bread products and try to avoid things that come "ready made." However, just because that is what we primarily purchase, does not mean I am not above purchasing Annie's on a week where our lives are crazy (or when I am desperately craving cheese powder on mediocre noodles). And if my favorite organic wraps have a sale sticker slapped on them? I buy two or three. If we are out and about, I try to have snacks on hand, but the world doesn't end if we stop at our local coffee shop for a chai tea and bagel.


On top of being kind of obsessed with clean eating and the like, I am cheap. Partially because I just am, but mostly because we are on a tight budget. With Mark and I working part-time jobs, fundraising, a toddler, and another tiny on the way? We are having to great creative with our spending - or rather, our not spending.

So, what to do about food for littles while still attempting to be a frugal-whole-foods-er?

I should preface this with the fact that I am blessed with an eater. But here are some of the things that are regularly lying around my house in small dishes.

_____________________________________________________


Roasted Chickpeas
I buy chickpeas/garbanzo beans from the bulk section, which is unbelievably cheaper than from a can, but it also means you have to soak them at least overnight before they are ready for cooking.
Take 1 cup or so and soak in them in 3 cups of water anywhere from 24-10 hours before I want to cook them.
Next day drain the water, pay them dry, toss them on a cookie sheet with edges or in a glass baking dish (so they are lying flat and not stacked) with a little olive oil, mix them around with your choice of spices. We do a little salt, pepper, and cayenne because my crazy son was born to live in Mexico, but cinnamon sugar is really good, or you can go with curry powder, chili powder, and turmeric or any blend of spices that you love.
Then throw them in the oven at 350F. You have to keep an eye on them, especially if you are soaking and not using canned chickpeas, because they are all different sizes and depending on how long you soaked them. But just occasionally check and stir them around and eventually they will start to look golden brown and if you pop one in your mouth (careful, very hot) it should be crunchy - like a corn nut!
Once they are done, just put them in tupperware and they keep for awhile - at least, they keep for about a week. I couldn't tell you if they last longer than that. My son gobbles them.

Fresh/Frozen Fruit/Veggies
When it's in season, fresh fruit is the way to go. Lots of good for you things and it's sweet! So you don't really need to spend too much time trying to convince your kiddo to chow down. We are lucky enough to live somewhere that has a pretty decent fruit season, so I purchase as much as I can and then freeze what we don't go through. Peaches, nectarines, berries, figs, pineapple, mango, etc. all hold up pretty well and are a nice cold treat.
Carrot and celery sticks are great, grape tomatoes cut in half, corn, snap peas, bell peppers - Rory likes to dip in ranch/other salad dressings, but he also will just eat them if there is no dressing available. Rory also really likes frozen peas and corn. I cannot for the life of me tell you why. Try it on your children?

Dehydrated Everything
We went big this Summer and purchased a dehydrator. We are semi-obsessed with Laura Miller, Sidesaddle Kitchen, and Raw Vegan Not Gross - so a dehydrator was definitely in our line of thought.
Now?
Dried bananas, pineapple, mango, and plums! Zucchini, kale, sweet potato, and squash chips! Jerky!
Rory is a big fan of all of this. Some fruit for his sweet tooth, some crunchy for his veggies, and the kid absolutely adores jerky.
We have not had a lot of time since the arrival of our dearest kitchen appliance, but I will let you know how further recipes turn out. I am very excited to try Not Chicken Nuggets. It's on my to-do.

Sweet Potato Fries
Cut up a sweet potato or yam (it doesn't matter). Toss in a glass baking dish with olive or coconut oil. Add salt if you want. Throw in the oven at 350F, occasionally mixing around until they are how you like them - for softer, take them out sooner and for crispy, wait a while longer.

Toast, Half Sandwiches, and Other Bready Things
Like I mentioned, we make our own bread. So it doesn't concern me for Rory to munch on toast. Our favorite place ever, The Grainery, has so many options it will make your head spin. We actually considered getting a wheat grinder and just purchasing organic wheat stalks. Then we decided we probably didn't have the time...
If you feel like you don't have the time to bake bread? Get a bread machine. 5 minutes of your time and 3 hours later you have a fresh baked bread loaf. Don't have a bread machine? Put an ask on Facebook. People just don't use them for some reason and are more than happy to get rid of them. I got two before I even knew what was happening. I use it once a week - maybe twice in one day if our menu for the week is kind of bread heavy or I want to freeze a loaf for a busier week.
Avocado toast - toast + mashed avocado + a little salt & pepper if you want.
Egg salad sandwich - piece of bread + egg salad (hard boiled eggs, mustard, a little olive oil, salt & pepper) + some lettuce chopped up into small bite sized pieces.
Melted cheese - piece of bread + cheese (+ sometimes we do a little onion) in the oven on broil till melty.
PB&J - piece of bread + peanut butter + jelly
Braided cheesy bread - Mark makes this, I will find out the recipe at another date. Cause it is magical.

Omelet Bites
Make an omelet! Put all your favorites in, whether it's just cheese or one million veggies, but make sure it is thicker and holds together well so you could pick up a bite with your fingers. Then cut it up and serve it to the small one.

Pumpkin Pie
Yah, you heard me.
Lessen the sugar and make your kiddos pie. I have two in my fridge right now, thought I will admit they were definitely not made from scratch. I needed to get rid of several things in my pantry... But pie, especially Pumpkin Pie is a great way to get them some great vitamins. I am determined to find the perfect from scratch recipe this Fall - I will let you know how my quest goes.

Saimin
So, saimin is like top ramen but from scratch and 100x better.
Veggie stock, saimin noodles, and whatever veggies you so desire (leeks, carrots, celery, and bell peppers are my go-to) all thrown into a pot until the noddles are done. Then break an egg into the boiling water, turn off the stove, and stir it up with your spoon to get that awesome Asian soup egg that my husband literally cannot seem to accomplish. Maybe you just need to have it in your blood? Add salt and pepper as you so desire. Drop in ice cubes and let the tinies at it.

Fish
Frozen wild caught fish fillets are actually not too expensive. So defrost and throw in a pan with some coconut oil or homemade teriyaki or whatever and then give a small chunk to your little with quinoa or rice. Here is fish tip: fish? Should not smell or taste "fishy." Ever. If it does? It's bad. Good fish should have little to no smell and melt in your mouth almost like butter. True story.

______________________________________________________

You'll notice that I'm not the most specific recipe writer, that's because I'm not the most specific food maker. I use my fingers rather than measuring and often just kind of wing it. It drives my chef husband a little bonkers.

Also, I will add some pictures - my internet doesn't seem to love me at the moment.

Maybe another day I will do more specific recipes, but this is more of an inspiration post. If you are a recipe person, just follow me on Pinterest. I am constantly making the recipes I post there. Seriously, it's how I meal plan for the week. ;)

26 August 2014

Let's Be More Than Overrated

People of the internet, I apologize for my lengthy absences.

I have no excuse except life. Life happens.

 

See the pretty life?

I read an interesting blog  the other day about how this generation is the most overrated - by ourselves and others - and here is why we are supposedly the most overrated: we like the idea of saving the world, giving aid, helping others, etc. more than we are actually willing to do anything about it. 

Ouch.

The truth of the matter is - this is probably true. We think that liking the Invisible Children page on Facebook, or posting graphic bloody pictures of the Israel Gaza conflict all over the internet, or sharing ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos is going to create real change.

(shared with me by the lovely Lindsay Belsha)

I'm not saying these things don't have the potential to create some lasting effect. Maybe someone saw that you "liked" International Justice Mission on Facebook and decided to check it out and came to the realization that they would like to work for IJM! But probably not.

And while I am glad to see that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has shifted to dumping water on your head and donating... we are still putting one cause above another when we dump clean water over ourselves while a large portion of the world goes without.

If you are passionate about helping rid the world of ALS? Try learning about the research being done and share articles with new information. Or give to the foundation and share that you did so and why with your friends on social media.

I understand that we love our kitschy things that make giving to charities seem cool - but giving to charity is cool regardless. Regardless of whether your friends know, regardless of whether you had to look silly doing it, regardless of how many people you got to give. And raising awareness makes you the coolest kid on the block. Even if you are completely dry.

For instance, here is something I am passionate about.

http://www.bestinfographics.co/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/information-and-facts-about-malaria-infographic.jpg

Malaria is a preventable disease. As in, those 700,000 deaths do not need to occur because we could stop them. And I am passionate about spreading that knowledge. So here is your infographic, and you can donate here, or try over here, or even over here.

I am also passionate about education.

 

But even more important than the level of education reached, is the type of education received. In places where AIDS still runs rampant, it's important that we are educating protection and awareness. There is always education needed surrounding Malaria! And lowering the infant mortality rate, the access to clean water, women in business and micro-enterprise loans - the list goes on. And on and on.

Let's not be an overrated generation. Let's put our personal lives, our politics, our nationalities aside for the bigger picture - our human brothers and sisters, our world. Let's raise money, raise awareness, put our time and talents and treasure into something more than ourselves. Let's use social media to create real change rather than passive-aggressively touch on important issues.

I am the first to admit, I need help. I need reminders. I need grace.

But that should never stop me from trying again.

And it shouldn't stop you either.

So, what are you passionate about?


21 August 2014

Demand More

It's hard to hear about injustice, war, outbreaks, corruption, suffering,  - and then turn on the stereo.

I get it. I do. Maroon 5 is my jam and I just cannot get enough of that Kesha beat. We own every Everclear CD and I have a deep love of POD to Jimmy Eat World. But what are any of these songs saying? I think we should start demanding a little more from our music. The love songs are catchy and everyone needs good angry workout music, but

I should mention, most true Punk Rock is anti-establishment and discusses the injustices of our world, but I feel like you should already know that - so I didn't include any. If for some strange reason you didn't, please check out everything from The Dead Kennedys to Anti-Flag and even to Green Day.

These are just a few songs that I love because they make me feel like there is hope and the music industry has more to offer than bubble gum love songs. Some you might know, others you might not. Some are Christian music, others are explicit, so just be aware of that as you listen! :)

demand more by markmalia on Grooveshark

In case you can't click on the playlist above, here is the link: http://grooveshark.com/playlist/Demand+More/99923029

14 July 2014

The Days Are Just Packed

The last time I blogged was in May.

MAY.

I am sorry, dearlings, hopefully you didn't even notice due to your own busy schedules. I know mine (ours) has been chaotic to say the least. Between pregnancy, a toddler, my job, Mark's job, raising support, weddings, parties, and just regular life - I have not had a chance to catch my breath. So here it is, big breath in, and big breath out. Proper breathing is important, you know.

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin because of how long it has been... so, let's start here:

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light." Colossians 1:11-12

Here's the deal. Last night I was stressing out about raising support and how long it is taking, how difficult it has been, and how it will continue. The thing I asked God for above all else was endurance and patience - and then I flipped my Bible open here. God is creepy awesome.

For a more detailed Missions update, you can check out Rory's Blog, which has done far better than this poor one. We are 30% pledged. Which means we still need 50% to be cleared to purchase tickets and another 20% after that. It is overwhelming. Especially because we are having another child which actually increases the amount we need to raise. Sigh... It's hard to feel called to something and also constantly feel like it is never going to happen.



I am reading Rory Calvin & Hobbes right now - we have the entire works - and he loves it. On the pages where there are just pictures, I let him tell me when to go on. It's fun to watch his eyes scan the page and laugh. We are also reading A Little Princess - because children should read an equal number of books with female or male heroes.

Rory is speaking now; ball, dog, meow, goat, ice, bite, yes, no, bike, pee, up, down, brm (which is car), bat (which actually means batman), boom, baby, bye, and many more. There is a part of me that fully expects him to just look up at me any day now and speak in full sentences. He is learning new words every day and it is absolutely magical to witness.

We are also introducing the concept of potty-training to him. It is pretty early, but we wanted to make sure we talked to him about the idea of it all in the Summer when he can pee outside and run around naked a lot, as well as before new baby arrives. We don't expect him to be fully potty-trained by December, but we are hoping to make some strides in that direction.

Saturday we went hiking up to Denny Creek and Rory got to hike, run, play in the water, and nap on the way back down. That little boy just loves to be outside, and after bed rest and quite a few months of exhaustion, I have to say it is so great to be finally getting back into the swing of outdoorsy things! We are hoping to do a big hike every weekend as long as the weather and new baby permit.

Calvin & Hobbes - happiness 2


Speaking of new baby, I am nearly 18 weeks along - almost half way! Which is absolutely insane because I feel like December is years away. It is also crazy that I am not only showing, but have a baby bump. With Rory I was flat as a board until almost 20 weeks, although I insisted to Marko that you could see my bump if you were really looking...

Baby loves to dance, for the love of the land. The little one is constantly shifting and moving - visibly. One minute I have a huge bump and then next minute I have washboard abs, it's ridiculous. Play some loud tunes while I'm standing and you can watch my whole stomach change shape, it is the craziest things. While there is lots of movement, even movement you can see, feeling it from the outside is still not the easiest. I am excited for that, primarily because I can involved Rory and Marko in that portion of baby-amazement.

Baby is healthy with a good heart rate and in just a couple weeks we will do the big ultrasound to see the four chambers of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, etc.!!! I am so excited to see our little one who already exhibits so much personality. We have decided to not find out the gender, but will let you know how everything else turns out. And we are still brainstorming names so feel free to input...

Rory just woke up from his nap, came to join me on our bed, and is now sleeping again with his foot in my lap. The boy is a riot.




20 May 2014

Naked Time

Sometimes you just need to be naked.


And shout at the airplanes.


Thee End.

13 May 2014

The Pregnancy Files | Part Two


In case you haven't heard the news...


Yep. I'm pregnant. If you're wondering why we didn't do a cute photo shoot? It's because my 21 month old refuses to sit still. Especially when outdoors. We had to work at it to even get this gem. We keep telling him that he's going to be a big brother, reassuring him that when we have a new baby there is just more love to give out, explaining there is a baby in my tummy, etc... he is uninterested. But he definitely knows he is not the only one vying for our attention anymore. Our wonderful sleeper very suddenly refused to sleep in his own bed, Daddy became an unwanted creature, all-things-Mommy-all-the-time!!! Oh Rory knows we are having a baby, he knows.
being a good parent is hard work that not everyone is willing to do.  And any woman can give birth to a baby, that doesn't mean she knows how to be a REAL mother!!  Grow up, put your daughters FIRST, not your loser boyfriend!!
So pregnancy this time around is so very different. I was reading through my original Pregnancy Files and I touch on the fact that women are more often sicker during their first pregnancy because your body isn't quite sure what's happening to it. Second time around? Your body (like your almost 2 year old) knows. And introduces a new cast of characters. Firstly? You think you're welcoming your friend morning sickness again - but you're not. You're welcoming an entirely new creature called the same name. Because this time around, the nausea is different and this baby requires different things. Then bloating appears on the scene. You just suddenly have the same little kangaroo pouch you had right after having your first baby. Last time it took forever and two trimesters to have a bump, this time around it's 8 weeks? What the actual hell. Also introducing itself is a new brand of exhaustion.
I . Am . So . Tired . All . The . Time
I fell asleep at 7:30pm the other night and slept until 7:30am. And I was still tired. All I want to do is curl up in bed and drift into slumberland - all the time. And honestly? I do. I am all of the sudden the very best napper, rester, sleeper, or whatever else you want to call it. Something I seriously struggled with the first time around and have always had trouble with when Rory is napping. Second pregnancy, you are full of surprises.

 This is where Rory lives currently: in my lap, hugging one part of my body or another.

 My first prenatal appointment isn't for another several weeks, which is late, but I am hoping that because it is so late it will make me think I am not as far along as I actually am and then December will just sneak up on me! But maybe not... maybe I will just live through pregnancy knowing exactly where I am. Either way, I am so excited to be adding another little to our family. It might make things so much harder than they already are, but I am not afraid of that. Not because I'm amazing, mostly because I'm too tired to be afraid of it. Also because I believe that all of this is in the perfect timing of God. Aren't I neat? Sure. Why not. :)

05 May 2014

Pirate Ships

There is something powerful about stopping to take the time to use your imagination as an adult. Especially when interacting with your kids. It takes new effort and energy you weren't even aware was necessary. I feel like I day dream and imagine quite a bit, but actually involving someone else in your imagination and being involved in theirs? Is a whole other talent that we really lose as kids. 


These are the characters: We have Buzz Lightyear, a Spiderman Pez dispenser, the Phantom, Aquaman, Batman, Simba, a knight, a bird, a ciuccio (binky), a strange wobbly bear, a weird green puppy, a sharp tooth and a spike-tail (we watch Land Before Time). The dinosaurs Rory will play with on their own, but the rest belong to the Pirate Ship - which is definitely a new kind of crew as far as I know. Buzz is Rory's favorite (we also watch the Toy Stories) and therefore the clear Captain of the ship. He spends his time at the helm or up at the top of the masts. The others have various assigned positions around the ship and are neatly tucked away below deck when it is time to put the ship to bed. Rory is very considerate of the crew members desires for sleep.


Rory loves to involve me in his games and I probably don't engage often enough, because "often enough" would ideally be always. Today we had naked adventure-time outside (at least, Rory did) and I just watched him move about and let him take me with him when he wanted to. It is such a gift to have the opportunity to dive into his world. He is so bright and imaginative, curious, with such a good sense of humour. I am constantly surprised by the blessings he pours out on me.


 I love this little big one.

28 April 2014

Tinies With Littles

Maggie Gyllenhaal in American Life (Away we go)
So, tiny living with littles.

It's honestly pretty great, but I get the reservations. I think most people assume people who live in tiny homes with kiddos are the Fishers from Away We Go. While I cannot deny Maggie Gyllenhaal's sweet style in this hilarious film (we cannot move forward in our friendship until you have seen it), I don't know many people like that. Which is totally okay with me. Seriously. I love and accept all forms of weirdness, but sometimes it's still weird.

But other than "hippie reasons" to have a small home, there are some awfully great parenting ones.

1. The smaller your space : The smaller the chase. Our house is a rectangle with the bathroom in the middle, making the rest of the space a "C" shape. This means that no, I cannot see Rory 100% of the time, but I can find him in 10 seconds or less. No baby gates or "play areas" in this house (not that those aren't totally fine, it just makes my life significantly easier, maybe it would make yours harder! No judgement here, man.), he can play wherever and whenever without being too far for me to check in on.

built-in bunk beds
This. It's simple and adorable. I would probably lean away from the white toward the natural board look, but that's because too much white makes me feel like I'm in a hospital... or cell.

2. The smaller your space : The less you clean. Now, there is definitely some worry about clutter in small spaces and the fact that it can go from clean to disaster area is less than 5 minutes with the assistance of a determined 20 month old and project-oriented husband - BUT - I can vacuum my whole house in that same amount of time. Cleaning the bathroom (singular) takes all of 10 minutes unless we are doing deep cleaning. Sweeping? 3 minutes. Mopping? 5. So you have more time to play with baby! Or toddler... yikes.

Map
My blog is called "Where In The World Is Malialani," if it's news to you that I like to travel... you are broken. I will post a picture of our maps some time, but this one is pretty neat. It is printed on a sheet and not the wall, so it can easily go up, have things tagged to it, and come down without much fuss or damage to your wall. Brilliant! It is also much more to scale than most maps... bravo. We spend wake-ups asking Rory where in the world he wants to go and he gets to pick a spot and we tell him a fact about that spot or make up an adventure. Maps + Kids = Wonder.

3. The smaller the space | The less crap accumulated. Let's face it? Most kids toys are unecessary. They play with them for maybe 10 seconds and then it's into the bathroom to destroy a roll of toilet paper. Parents in the US drop ridiculous amounts of money on toys that are thrown out or donated to Goodwill within 6 months. When you have less space to throw crappy toys into, you start to get very picky about which toys stay and which get to live at grandma and grandpa's house. How excited would you be if you could say no to toys you hate because "Oh! There's just not enough space for this gem, let's leave it with Nana?"

Also this! We've discussed my desire for 12 children right? And my desire for tiny living? Perfect... We often chat with our good friends about how many rooms you need for children and always end up with one for boys and one for girls. Less trouble that way... or maybe more trouble, who am I to know the future of my babies? ... Probably more trouble if they are my kids, regardless of how many rooms we have.

4. The smaller the space | The more creative the time. Maybe "more creative" is a little bit presumptuous, there is definitely a need for creativity with kids no matter the amount of space you have. With small space though? There is no "new room" to visit. Rory and I read a lot of books, play with a lot of toys, go on a lot of walks, watch a lot of movies, do a lot of yoga, play with a lot of magnets, color a lot of pictures - and it's still only 9:30am? WTF. Seriously though, you have to get really creative time management in a small space. It's good to do one thing in one area, like the living room, then move to the kitchen for a snack while you tidy the living room again to do a different thing there. The more often you tidy a tiny space? The less likely your child will be to get bored. And it has created the very strange but awesome desire in Rory to tidy with me, which is a fun game in itself. It might seem exhausting, but it's actually pretty simple because, again, there is less space and less stuff to tidy.

Built-in for an entryway. This is something I wish we had on the regular. We have a smattering of shoeboxes and coat hangers and shelves piled precariously next to our door, but it's so temporary feeling and just not exactly what I want.

5. The smaller your space | The more the outdoors call. Again "more" might be a bit of an exaggeration. But we are very lucky to live on quite a bit of land and Rory revels in exploring every bit of it. Climbing on old stumps, feeding the donkeys, walking through long grass, jumping in puddles - there is just so much for him to do. We also love to go to the park and run around, we usually bring his soccer ball and he just kicks it around for literally hours. Long walks are the best, Rory just marches forever. And then naps. The best naps.

Perfect shirt for the nitty-gritty of motherhood
And you obviously need this to describe living with littles in general... actually, I have needed this shirt for most of my life.

24 April 2014

Jumping On The Bed

I remember sheet changing day to be the best day when I was younger. There is just something so appealing about a naked bed. It is so excellent for jumping and rolling around on. It is somehow significantly better than when there are sheets.

Rory has noticed it too.

There is some kind of magic about jumping on the bed. Especially a naked bed. And lately? I have needed that magic. I have been tired, so tired. And tired with a toddler is unlike any other kind. But just because you're exhausted? Doesn't mean life stops, does it? I have been overly needy of Mark, overly exhausted with Rory, and overly critical of myself this week. Magic of any kind is greatly needed.

So this week, I irresponsibly jumped on my bed with my son.

There are times when we just fail. Not in a big, Youtube video worthy way, just in little things. Like demanding my husband read my needy little mind, or getting cross with my sleepy teething 20 month old, or being self-critical of myself, my home, and my time management (or lack thereof). And when we fail? We need to just accept that we have failed and move forward. There is no starting over. Not really. There is only the realization that we have messed up and trying to do better next time.




Failure is a part of life. But it doesn't need to define life. When we ask forgiveness for our short-comings and move forward, a failure becomes just another experience. A teaching moment. Lord knows I have had a lot of a teaching moments, but as long as I learn from them? I think it will be alright. At least, I think that today. Remind me tomorrow.


20 April 2014

For Long Walks With No Destination

Sometimes I get very busy with what I am doing.

I get so busy that I forget that my sweet little has the love-language of quality time and his own checklist. Where as mine might include dishes, tidying, and planting my new plants; His includes pirate ships, tickle fights, and a long walk with no destination.


If I am being honest, I often forget his to-do list. I feel like mine is full of must-happen-now! things and his is just there to accomplish afterwards, if we have time. But that's not really the case, is it?
If I refuse to prioritize Rory's list, what does that teach him about his self-worth and how to treat others? Nothing. I teach him nothing.


There's a balance to it, like with all things. Sometimes, mommy's things have to come first, like going to get groceries so the husband and baby won't starve. But other times, a lot of time, mommy lists can probably wait for pirate ships, ticklefights, and long walks with no destinations.


Because, let's get real, how long will he want me involved in his to-do list?
(Forever, obviously, but just in case he doesn't because he gets hit on the head by a meteorite or something...)

There needs to be some semblance of equality stressed. Rory's desires are just as important as my own. Neither one of us gets to just always do the things we want. That isn't how life works - at least, not a healthy one. I cried about this earlier this week - like a ninny - it was stressing me out to no end. I had my agenda and Rory wasn't working with it, Rory had his agenda and I wasn't working with it, and Mark was left confused as to why we were so frustrated with one another.

Balance. It's good for the soul. So this weekend? We are doing a mixture of Mommy ordained must-happens and Rory commanded if-we-feel-likes. And Mark is being very generous with us. Because he is the best husband I have. ;)

18 April 2014

Day Dreamy Home



I am in love (see: obsessed) with the whole tiny homes movement. It's partially because we live in one, but also because I am just fascinated by such a counter-cultural phenomenon taking up in America. The "bigger is better" concept still has hold on the US, but there is a tiny revolution of sustainability that I am so excited about!

I often wish we could build our own tiny house, designed with our little family in mind, but odds are that won't occur for some time. I do day dream that the layout of our 550sqft was a little different, but that is kind of a pipe dream. But in our ity little house, there are several things that I constantly wish we had.

3. A washer and dryer - not having laundry on site makes for long days and large loads, especially with a toddler. I wouldn't mind drying clothes on a rack either, so perhaps just a washer? There are so many great eco-friendly and tiny options available these days, I found this one just the other day. I'm not sure about the rest of the house design, but I do like this washer/dryer combo.
Washer and dryer
Panda also makes a pretty cute tiny two-in-one combination, but I haven't seen it used in any of the tiny home models I've looked at. The reviews seem decent though...

2. A dish washer - if for no other reason than a place to hide the dishes. So maybe just a bigger sink? I am just not disciplined enough to do the dishes every time I use one. The shame.
Tiny Kitchen. I think taking a couple of our small cupboard doors off would make the room feel larger
Just look at that pretty little kitchen! I must be honest, I probably spend the least amount of time scrolling through dishwashers, but I definitely crave having one more often than a washer/dryer.

1. A bathtub - and no, not for Rory. For me. I love a good long bath. There is nothing more relaxing or wonderful than a long bath after a long day. Especially after having a baby. And I guess it would be good for kiddos too... but mostly for me.
old galvanized bathtub
Beautiful. Just beautiful. I'm thinking something old and lovely, with a holder like the one above, but made by my husband so as to be $60 or so cheaper. :)


There is so much to tell you about in my dream space. But I'll save that for another day... Or you can just stalk my obsession on Pinterest. That's always a thing.

17 April 2014

Mission Moments: Lifesong

14-04 MM email

Lifesong Farms. We are thankful, with the help and expertise of our friends at Plant Sciences, Inc., to have active strawberry farms in Ukraine and Zambia. Our hope is to not only create jobs and self-worth for orphan caregivers, but also  provide future employment opportunities as orphans grow into adults. Eventually, we aim to establish sustainability to help fund on-going orphan care. Hear the stories behind the farms...

Bearing Fruit in Sergey {UKRAINE}

Like each and every child our Ukraine team reaches out to through Constant Christian Presence, Sergey was full of potential. Coming from a life of hurt, God breathed hope into his heart and life. Through the team's support, mentorship and love, Sergey came to know Christ while developing relationships and life skills that is leading him towards a fruitful future.

Now, he and another orphan graduate are involved in helping manage a nursery, as well as play an important role in Lifesong Farms-Ukraine.

Listen in to his story...

Strawberries Help Send Kids to School {ZAMBIA}

Last month, Lifesong Farms-Zambia team were pleased to present the first check to the Lifesong School at a special ceremony. As the farm continues to grow and show profits, we hope to have many more check ceremonies in the future as we grow towards sustainability!

zambia farms
Farm team presenting $5,000 check to Lifesong Zambia School

Read More...

Story of Lifesong Farms - Learn how Lifesong Farms got started in Lifesong Zambia. Watch Video
Impact on Farm Workers -  Listen in to our Quality Manager, Pilijah, as she shares how her job has impacted her and her family. Watch Video
Christian Alliance for Orphans CAFO2014 {May 1-2; CHICAGO} -  CAFO2014 inspires and equips Christians to care for orphans with wisdom-guided love. Register today! Learn More & Register
Celebrate Life Tour - featuring Cheri Keaggy & Zambia Children's Choir! Buy Tickets Today

07 April 2014

Evangelism

I have been a little spiritually and emotionally spent.

Maybe more than a little. Maybe a lot.

We were recently turned down by a local church for support. They feel as though we don't have a strong enough emphasis on evangelism. And because they have decided not to support us as a church, they don't feel it's appropriate for us to share with their congregation. I am a little discouraged by this. We are still in talks with several others churches, one we will visit this month, another in June, and we will be attending our conference's annual meeting in May. So it isn't as if the world is over - but I'm still feeling a little put out. The truth is, for more fundamentalist churches, we probably don't have a strong enough emphasis on classic evangelism.

I believe in holistic ministry. I believe that living out my convictions, loving people, caring for people - those are the ways I spread the gospel. I definitely believe in sharing my beliefs, but there is a time and a place and I am so not a door-to-door type of person. I am awkward. For the love of the land, I am awkward. It takes people a solid two or three tries to get me in a conversation where I am coherent! I do much better working alongside people, having conversations as they come, asking hard questions where they make sense, and keeping things light and sarcastic when life calls for it.

I will give you a for instance. For instance, I had a dear friend call me at 5:30am several weeks ago because she needed to go to Urgent Care. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and then physically got on my knees and prayed for her situation. We ended up at Urgent Care several hours later when it opened (8:00am, thank the dear Lord) and I simply sat there and made bad jokes and sarcastic comments. I am nothing if not a killer comedian, especially within hospital walls. At 5:30am? My friend needed prayer and words of the Spirit, but in the hospital? She needed to be distracted.

Now, I'm not saying I am the best at reading all of these scenarios, I am definitely not. I am mostly saying that evangelism doesn't always have to look like asking people if they know Jesus. Sometimes it looks like being sarcastic in an Emergency room, other times it looks like lending a neighbor a drill or a cup of sugar, and sometimes it does look like asking someone if they know Jesus (tiny sweet baby or pierced and risen King).

Mark and I are less classical evangelism and more "love your neighbor as yourself." This does not necessarily mean that we are right and the church that told us "no" was unjust - I think there is a time and place for both. It just means we weren't a right fit for that church, which, if I am being honest? Isn't that surprising. Just disappointing.

It is also hard because what we will be doing in Oaxaca is hard to pin down. I can riddle off the ministries happening there in great detail - but what we will be doing specifically? It will depend on what people need. If people need support to outlying rural churches? That's what we'll do. If people need us to tag along with Semillas de Salud and the health ministry they do all over the region? That's what we'll do. If people need us to be volunteers with the youth group? That is what we will do. It's a little nonspecific, but hopefully very helpful to the people and missionaries in Oaxaca, as well as to us and our hopes to learn about being long-term missionaries.

So, that's that.

I don't feel like I am ending on a very upbeat note, but that's kind of where I am at right now. Somewhere in the middle of trying very hard to stay positive and wanting to hide in my closet until Summer. But it's nice outside today, so I will get back to it.

Cheers, guys, thanks for all the encouragement.


26 March 2014

Loaded Questions

These questions appeared on my Facebook page today, from someone whom I absolutely adore. But they are loaded, so I wrote a blog about them.

  • "Can you tell me your secret? How do you not walk away from Christianity? How do you still go to church? Excuse my language but I am so fed up with this bull shit."

Where to begin...

Over the last several months I have been faced with quite a few experiences that have been... rough. Everything from a misinterpretation of something I said, a flat out contestation of my faith, and, of course, all of "us versus them" happening within the broader Christian faith right now. So why have I not abandoned my church, my religion, my faith? How do we maintain our walk? How do we stay unified as the body of Christ? How do we join hands with people so blatently different from us? People we maybe see as "wrong?"

I read an article yesterday about how "liberals" and "conservatives" will never be able to come to the table - and this article was just discussing "liberals" and "conservatives" within Christianity! Not to mention those with varying relgious beliefs within our communities, our nation, and our world.

But I whole heartedly disagree.

If we are unable to come to the table to discuss issues, it has nothing to do with whether we are liberal or conservative or any other label you can think up - it has to do with pride.

The truth of the matter is that I am furious with Evangelicals deciding to withdraw sponsorships from children in need based purely on who the company hires, the Good Samaritan was not a believer and yet he was the one who was able to do the right thing - but here's the deal: just I as I don't believe those withdrawing from World Vision should do so based on judgement of individuals as "sinners," I should not judge them. I should call them to action and encourage them to continue to support those children that they previously made promises to, not because of World Vision, but because God calls us to care for the least of these. And if they truly feel so led to no longer support World Vision? I would encourage them to seek out another organization.

I can think whatever I want about their decision, I can be frustrated with how this makes our LGBT community members feel, I can even express anger about how this is protraying our faith to the rest of the world - but I am not ultimately the one who anyone will answer to. I don't have the corner on the Cornerstone. I don't have a backstage pass to morals and ethics. I don't get to judge. Thank the Lord Almighty, that it not my job.

If we can't come to the table and discuss this and other issues, that makes us equally pharisaical. "Truth in love" can only come through relationship, so we need to stop using it as an excuse to say hurtful things. Both to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as our brothers and sisters in humanity.

When I was younger, I made a lot of poor decisions (let's be honest, I still make some poor decisions). These decisions created rumours that ran rampant throughout my childhood church and youthgroup which led to some very serious judgemental statements made about and to me. Because of that, I walked away from the church, which I thought meant I was walking away from God. But here is what I found: 1. God will always come after you, even when you can't see it and don't believe it. And 2. Love always trumphs judgement.

Sometimes (a lot of the time), the church misrepresents Christ. And that sucks. But God does not need us to fight the church to protect Him, because that sends more mixed messages than helps and because He is God - He can fight His own battles. What God needs us to do is to love and care for people as He has called us - including those we disagree with. I know, for me, it is so much easier to love and care for people who do not call themselves Christians - but that doesn't give me a free pass to walk away from what I believe. I don't get to just distance myself and say "I'm not with them!" I get to love them, or at least to try vigorously.

Loving people doesn't mean not having hard conversations, it doesn't mean total consensus, it doesn't mean finality - it just means love. That is our call. To love. To love God, to love each other, to love the world. There will always be disagreements, there will always be frustrations, there will always be misrepresentation - but there also always needs to be love so that we can come to the table and discuss these things. Not just as Christians, but as humans.

It's hard.

(but luckily there's grace)

13 March 2014

Gistfuls

There is too much happening and I cannot for the life of me catch up to the number of drafts I have created, so I will give you the gist.
Rory is one and a half. He talks to us in his own language, which mostly satisfies him, except when it doesn't and he gets upset that we can't understand him. He is animated and active. He loves to play the drums and count and read books. He likes berries and gummy vitamins, he cleans up after himself if he knows we are going to leave or go outside, he hates children's music. He rolls his eyes with gusto and can throw a ball almost too well for his own good. He likes to put hair clips on his head and pretend to wear my earrings, he loves trucks and cars and anything that goes "brrrmmmm," especially airplanes.

Mark continues to surprise me with all of his interests - from sustainability, to wood working, to fixing dishwashers - the man is simply amazing. He works at the Maple Valley Signs and is somewhat interested in his work there, but primarily loves the opportunity to work on his graphic design skills. He volunteers with me at Life101 youth group and is a crowd favorite. Between his long hair, straight forward manner, and hatred of closed-toed shoes? I'm not surprised that kids love him. After all, I love him!

I am have applied to North Park University and take the ACT in April to hopefully begin taking courses in May. I am applying to scholarships left and right, studying like a fiend, and still trying to work as many hours as possible. Thankfully, we have hired a new Youth Director, so I can pull that off my plate. But as Mark and I continue to plan the Mexico Mission Trip for our Youth Group, we are still so busy.

How goes our own missions funding? Well, our initial boom of support was wonderful, but with our busy schedules over the Holidays, we fell behind and are stuck at about 22% of our goal (if you want to support us, check out our giving site!). I had a meeting last Thursday with a church that is considering sponsoring us - if they decide to sponsor us, we will have the opportunity to visit their church at some point this Spring to see if people would like to sponsor us individually as well. We are praying hard for that.
This Sunday we will visit residents at a Covenant retirement home. We have small hopes for individual financial support, but most of the residents are on a fixed income. Our main goal in visiting is to share our love of missions and build relationships with residents.
We are trying to set up times to visit other churches and organizations as well, but it often seems overwhelming. In May we will be attending our conference's Annual Meeting as delegates and will hopefully have the opportunity to speak briefly during the weekend. In June we will visit another church for them to decide whether to support us as a church as well as whether to allow us to visit their congregation. Pray for all of this, we need it.

But what will you do in Oaxaca, you ask? Well, Mark would like to primarily be involved in sustainability; both for businesses started up through Fuentes Libres as well as agricultural sustainability (rooftop gardens, beekeeping, etc). I will be focused on Rory, but Mexico has a family based culture, so I will most likely be able to be involved in a lot of things with Rory in tow. I'm eager to check out Casa Hogar and be involved with Semillas de Salud, local youth groups, and support local churches outside of Oaxaca.
But the truth is, a lot of what we will be doing specifically is up in the air depending on what is needed from us by the missionaries and churches already present in Oaxaca. We are there to learn and grow God's Kingdom and what He is already doing. We hope to be mentored under Erika and Nils Clauson in order to become Long Term Missionaries after spending time as Short Term-ers. There's nothing concrete or sexy to sell you about why we're going or what we will be doing. We are decidedly unsexy.

What else?

"I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God."
Psalm 69:3

Here is where I am at mentally: I just want something different. I am tired of waiting. This has been my sentiment for the last several weeks, months even. I just want to be done waiting. I have tried. I have tried to embrace patience and I was even mildly successful for a short while. But I am weary. I am parched. And my eyes grow dim. Waiting for funds, waiting for a new youth director, waiting to go to school, waiting to grow our family, waiting to hear from churches, waiting... there's more, trust me.

"What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?"
Job 6:11

That's right, I'm quoting Job! I have been experiencing overwhelming frustration with the fact that our circumstances just have not changed. I feel caught in the middle of a hurricane, the eye of the storm. Everything around me is moving at a pace I can't seem to keep track of and life continues, but it is also so still. I don't like it. I was not okay with being patient, then I was okay, now I am not again. It's confusing and infuriating and I just want a respite. I want a moment to not be overwhelmed by the work, one second to feel like we are moving at an acceptable pace, a single breath to believe that we will make it to Oaxaca. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? I'm not really sure at this point. People continually ask "When do you leave?" And I smile and say "Oh, well it depends on fundraising," and then explain the surrounding circumstances. What I really want to say is... well, it's not appropriate.

But here is the kicker.

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you."
Psalm 39:7

My hope is in God. It's fuzzy and sometimes it falters. It's fuzzy, faltering hope. But it's there! Most of the time...

This is where I'm sitting. On a ledge, at the start line, waiting for the gun or the champagne bottle to break. My life is steadily turning into a Dr Seuss novel - yes, novel. Pray for me. I'm ridiculous.