Last summer before six year old Anton traveled with us to Ethiopia {see here for post}, we talked a lot with him about how the trip would put him outside his comfort zone.

We warned there would be times that he’d feel uncomfortable with his surroundings and with the food.

injera

We stressed heavily that it was going to be an adventure and it was important for him to embrace the culture that 4 of his siblings have come from.

He was sometimes tentative about things, but he always tried it…and now his worldview {and palate} have expanded leaps and bounds.

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When we asked, “Anton, what’s your favorite part about the trip?” He’d say, “Everything!”

I pressed, “but if you had to pick one thing…”

“Mom, I can’t pick! EVERYTHING!!! I love Ethiopia!”

“Ok then what part did you not like so much?”

“Mom,” a touch annoyed at this point, “Seriously. I loved it all.”
Conversation over.

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I had joined my dad with a medical relief team which traveled to Guatemala when I was in fourth grade. It completely changed my world-view, and consequently my life.

This trip has done the same thing for Anton.

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His eyes were opened to the realization of how most of the world lives. And God is beginning to do big things in his heart through it.

Never think your child is too young to make a difference.

Let them dream, and support those dreams.

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Though it was hard taking time away from Abreham and Elsabet {they had to stay behind because the adoption wasn’t yet complete}, we wanted to show Anton the beauty of the countryside…more than simply the metropolitan feel of Ethiopia’s capitol.

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The beautiful town of Lalibella now holds a tight grasp on our hearts and is where Anton may have heard the voice of God upon his heart for the first time.

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mother teresa quote

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As our driver took us on the long, bumpy, dirt road from the airport toward our hotel, Anton witnessed women and small children on a Water Walk.

He had heard Ezekiel talk of it from time to time, yet seeing firsthand the heavy load these thin ladies had upon their backs, he felt the impact of it.

The huge-ness of their task and situation.

water walk

{sadly, source unknown}

We didn’t realize how much so until a week after returning to the States.

That grey summer morning, Anton urged his five-year-old brother over to their toy bins and began to explain that if they sold some of their toys, they could give their money to build a well for a village in Africa.

I saw them knelt together on the carpet, placing different toys in separate piles and came to ask what they were doing.

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{sadly, source unknown}

Anton relayed to me what he had explained to Laith and reminded me about the women we had seen, struggling with the weight upon their backs so their household would have water for the day.

Lalibella

He’d seen the filth of the water they carried and how it likely made them sick, and his young mind understood the simple act of how building a well would change their lives.

He and Laith held up their treasures, and asked if I could set up a garage sale for them that afternoon.

toy sale

Because it was a grey and drizzly day, and I knew no one would stop for a mid-week garage sale with only single table and about 20 toys, I told my big-hearted boys that we could set up a Facebook sale instead.

They found paper and markers and grouping their toys together with the price, I snapped a few photos. When they were satisfied with how it all looked, we posted them online, along with an explanation of what the boys were trying to do.

toy sale 1

All their toys sold in about 40 minutes, parents Paypal-ing us the {small yet still exciting} funds. The boys were ecstatic, thrilled they were making a difference in someone else’s lives.

Moms and dads began to email Ben and I, saying their children wanted to do the same thing and could they send us their used toys and we sell them, using the money toward the well, also.

Wow. We couldn’t believe the response we were receiving from Anton’s little idea.

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Knowing any day we would get “The Call” and I would head back to bring home Abreham and Elsabet, we didn’t feel we could take on multiple online garage sales for all these toys offered.

Instead, we urged the families to do themselves what we had done, using the money for whatever is on their children’s hearts, or sending it to us to help build the well in Ethiopia.

be who you want them to be

The concept of other children getting involved thrilled our first grader and he announced, “I want this for my job.” Ben peppered him with questions, seeking what exactly he meant.

As we delved deeper into Anton’s heart, Ben and I realized this was something that could make an impact.

By children understanding that they could better the lives of someone all the way across the world, with their selflessness and generosity, they could grow up understanding the concept even deeper and really cause a chain reaction.

If you can change the children, you can change the world.

candle quote

 We’re now in the process of setting up a charity, named by our son. He has named it, “Anton’s Hope.” …and I’m so excited to see where God takes it.

Anton’s Hope is that the children around the world can join together to give hope.

…see how your children too, can be part of changing the world.

{like the Anton’s Hope Facebook Page to keep up with the building of this exciting charity and it’s grand revel soon!}

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We are presently building the website, forming the board of directors, and filing for 501-c3 status. Stay tuned!

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the perfect red lip

Perhaps it’s because it was just Valentines Day, or perhaps it’s because I need something bright on these cold wintery days, but I am super into red lips right now….and I wanted to share my latest favorite.

I’m not usually a fan of drug store brand lipsticks, but this one is fantastic.

The above picture was from Instagram last week, the photo taken after wearing said lipstick all. day.

Yes, seriously.

I’d had lunch, drank coffee, kissed children, and it was {almost} as good as when I’d put it on as I rushed out the door in the morning.

red lips

See now why I had to share? Maybe you need it, too.

{I was wearing color 050, Couture}

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And for all you tired mamas out there, just remember…

If you’re short on time in the morning, just smooth on some tinted moisturizer, a quick wand of mascara, and these red lips will instantly make you feel like you took longer than 30 seconds to get ready.

Welcome to my week, this is totally how I’m feeling.

{excuse me while I make another cup of coffee. xo}

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Ahhh…I finally have a moment to sit and blog. What an incredibly insane week. We were out of town, then the day we returned, Ben’s mom also flew in, and poor Imani’s been sick.

Whew! Craziness.

valentines table

Every holiday, birthday, or any special day really {i.e. first snow of the year!} I set up a special breakfast party for the family.

I love hearing their little feet on the stairs and then a gasp, “yaaaaaay! breakfast party!” Makes my heart happy.

valentines table

Thought I’d share today’s with you.

valentines table

I typically just hang streamers but found these fun polkadot and striped lanterns at Target the other day and thought they were a must.

I hung them with ribbon and tied ribbon scraps at the bottom for more interest {I hung them with a thumbtack}.

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In full disclosure, I was trying really hard to distract from our beautiful lighting here in the kitchen. Classy.

Still looking for just the right thing to put up there.

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Gathering things from around the house, I just layered it all on.

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valentines table

And yes, that’s our china on top of silver chargers. Get it out of your cupboards! Use it!

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Using washi tape from Target’s $1 area, I made little flags for each of these darling paper straws.

I thought they needed a little sparkle.

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I got the kids {and Ben} something little. A favorite snack, new crayons & small coloring book, little lego set, that sort of thing. Each kid got one item.

Nothing over the top, just enough to know Ben and I were thinking of them.

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On to the FOOD!

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Red Velvet pancakes, of course {it’s a mix from Target}.

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And who doesn’t love bacon shaped into a heart?!

They didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, I’ll have to keep playing.

But if you want to try it, cut your bacon in half and shape it into a heart. Bake at 400 degrees {time depends on how crispy you like it} on a baking sheet that has sides {so the grease doesn’t make a mess of your oven}.

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Milk tastes better when it’s in a pretty glass, don’t you think?

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Finally our Crazies woke up for their early morning feast!

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Wow, this girl gets some bed-head!!

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Happy Valentines Day! Hope yours is as full of love as ours is!!

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valentines table

 

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Ok, this is a confession. For some reason, it makes me SUPER uncomfortable to say it. But…

I'm writing a book

Maybe I didn’t want to tell anyone because I don’t feel qualified. Or perhaps it’s because it makes me feel really vulnerable, but I’ve always promised to be real and raw. To be “an open book” to those around me.

And now, with the Lord’s guidance…I am.

proverbs 19_21

God has asked me to write this book for a long time now. And I’ve ignored Him. “Lord, I have six kids…I don’t have time for that!” I would tell Him. I mean quite honestly, it’s a ridiculous notion. I hardly have time to brush my teeth twice a day, let alone spend hundreds of hours writing on my computer.

I realize we have a unique story but truly, other than my husband and my sweet family, who would read it? Well, probably my best friend. That makes maybe 8 people.

As I continued to ignore and refuse God’s leading to put together the book that will hopefully be one day in your hands, the Lord began to give me visions. Well, slight…almost there visions. It’s like He’d hand me binoculars and tell me to look through them. Just as things were becoming clear, He’d snatch them away before really seeing what it was. Sigh.

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More days, weeks, and months began to pass and I had this relentless and uncompromising feeling like something was missing. In the past, that feeling has resulted in {another} adopted child. But since we’ve only recently brought home a baby daughter and teenage son from Ethiopia, I doubted that’s what it was this time.

So because I’m apparently a little dense {or perhaps just blonde}, I began to ask God what it is I was missing. What was He trying to tell me? “Lord, reveal it to me. Show me what it is You’re trying to tell me.”

Oh. The book. It’s the book, I realized.

I finally knelt before our Father and surrendered myself to Him once again, remembering that which I’ve prayed many times through the years: I want Him to use me and His plans for my life are indeed so much bigger and better than mine ever are or ever could be.

Isaiah 55_8-9

So I have begun to write. Many naptimes have been spent at my laptop, praying that my little crazies actually sleep so I can get a few pages or simply a couple paragraphs written. Luckily for me, my husband Ben has been telling me to write a book as well {not so strangely, he began urging me about the same time God did}…so he sometimes tosses me the keys to my car and tells me to go to Starbucks for a few hours so I can work without the wonderful chaos that is now our life.

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And now I’m excited. I’ve gone from thinking I’d better do this before God gets my attention by sending a big whale to swallow me up…or something equally as dramatic {see Jonah}. To praying what He wants me to write, what stories to include, and more importantly, how to help you come away from this book feeling encouraged and empowered in your own life.

I don’t want this to be simply our family’s story…I want rather, for you to understand that even if adoption won’t likely be part of your personal story, there is so much to learn and grow in your relationship with Christ through these pages.

let Him interrupt you

Acts 4_13

I’m about 25,000 words in {a little over 50 pages} and have so much more to go.

Would you pray for me? Pray that I know where to take this? 

Do I attempt the traditional route and find a literary agent and try to get in with a publishing house? {ahem…know anyone? message me!}

…or do I publish it myself? I have no idea.

All I know is that the Lord has told me this is an issue of obedience, and because I know His plans are bigger than mine could ever be, obedient I will remain. 

AB Simpson

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I have a new obsession. Waterlogue is an app that turns your photos into watercolor paintings.

You can even print your favorites & frame them!

Imani 1

{Imani at the fireplace last Valentines Day}

I discovered it about a week ago when a friend posted a “painting” on Instagram.

I was instantly hooked.

Anton & Abreham

{The day after Anton & Abreham met while in Ethiopia}

Apparently I’m not the only one who can’t get enough of it. I just saw a few minutes ago that two of my favorite blogs also posted about it today! Guess they scooped me since they got theirs out before me.

Thistlewood Farms | Jones Design Company

Elsabet

{A few days after bringing Elsabet home}

It’s so fun to go through old photos and see them in a completely new way.

A&E

{New brothers…and buddies!}

Now…to choose which to frame?!

ethiopia

{Ethiopia – during our trip meeting Abreham & Elsabet}

Anton & Laith

{Reading on an early snowy morning}

wreath

{I love this one of our mantle}

Elsabet 1

{Elsabet’s first steps!}

Stella & Dot necklace

{Even a photo of my necklace turns into something worth framing}

What do you think? Will you be as obsessed as I am?!

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danish puff recipe

Many of us have them…a recipe we remember so fondly making as a child, standing side-by-side with our sweet mommas, them letting us “help” and us enjoying every second.

Well, this is one of those recipes for me…

danish puff recipe

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Place 1 cup flour in medium bowl, cut in 1/2 cup softened butter, using pastry blender {or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions…which is how I do it}, until particles are the size of coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over mixture; toss with a fork.

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Gather pastry into a ball; divide in half.

danish puff recipe

Pat each half into {approximately} 12×3 inch rectangles, about 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

{mom, are you reading this?? I laughed seeing this photo. I completely have your hands.}

danish puff recipe

danish puff recipe

In 2-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water to rolling boil; remove from heat.
Quickly stir in almond extract and 1 cup flour.

danish puff recipe

Stir vigorously over low heat, about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat.
Add eggs; beat until smooth.

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Spread half of the topping over each rectangle.

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Bake for about 1 hour or until topping is crisp and brown; remove from pan to cooling rack.

danish puff recipe

Cool completely before drizzling glaze.

my mom’s danish puff {recipe}

Prep Time: 20 hours

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Serving Size: 10 servings

my mom’s danish puff {recipe}

Ingredients

  • {pastry}
  • 1 cup all-purpose flower
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • {topping}
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flower
  • 3 eggs
  • {glaze}
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond {or vanilla}
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk {more for thinner glaze}
  • chopped nuts, if desired {almonds are fabulous...but I often leave them out}

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place 1 cup flour in medium bowl, cut in 1/2 cup softened butter, using pastry blender {or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions...which is how I do it}, until particles are the size of coarse crumbs.
  3. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over mixture; toss with a fork.
  4. Gather pastry into a ball; divide in half. Pat each half into {approximately} 12x3 inch rectangles, about 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. In 2-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water to rolling boil; remove from heat.
  6. Quickly stir in almond extract and 1 cup flour.
  7. Stir vigorously over low heat, about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat.
  8. Add eggs; beat until smooth.
  9. Spread half of the topping over each rectangle.
  10. Bake for about 1 hour or until topping is crisp and brown; remove from pan to cooling rack.
  11. Cool completely before drizzling glaze.
  12. In medium bowl, mix all glaze ingredients and stir until smooth and spreadable.
  13. Sprinkle with nuts {if you so desire}.
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valentines day danish puff

So….maybe I added a little pre-Valentines Day fun to one of them.

Sometimes sprinkles are imperative. ; )

favorite

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valentines day round up

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{hugs & punches}

I’m still in shock that feather wreaths are about $100. I made mine though…for just a couple bucks.

arrows

{stocksy}

Sure wish these arrows had a tutorial, but it looks like they used perhaps the sticks form paintbrushes, and red feathers…then took a sharpie or paint and decorated them? LOVE it.

love chair

{the nester}

So…Myquillyn {yes I spelled her name correctly, in case you’re wondering} over at the nester is amazing and fun and brilliant. And you must {MUST} click on the link to see the most beautiful and fun valentines craft party party that she just “threw together”…swoon.

sealed with a kiss

{oh happy day}

I get excited when I find non-candy Valentines. These are so cute!

tree heart installation

{oh happy day}

I just love this blog. So many fun, happy ideas. Wouldn’t you love to decorate your trees like this?!

valentines

{just us three design}

How can you not adore these printables?! I get excited when I find a little color, if ya know what I mean.

valentine rice krispies

{cupcake diaries}

How happy-looking are these yummy rice krispy treats? I just may be sneaking these into their lunches one day soon.

{hugs & punches}

The kids and I made these heart bird feeders a few years back. The birds loved them and even chubby little toddler hands could easily string it together.

lacy envelopes

{country living}

Leave it to Country Living to make me fall in love with doilies all over again.

valentines printable

{soho sonnet}

Soho Sonnet has a whole slew of reeeeally cute printables that you just might need on your wall or shelf.

valentines party

{100 layer cake}

I’m going to leave you today with this party by 100 layer cake.

champagne

No joke, you need to go to the above link and check it out.

valentines party 1

Please somebody tell me when it became so cool for grown women to get together for a craft soiree. And look at the last photo! They’re even glammed-up for making the Valentines for their loved ones!

{wonder if their cute dresses are now covered in glue, glitter, and sequins like I would be}

Please…please…if any of you have a party as fun and beautiful and over the top as this one….please. invite me.

I’ll even bring champagne! I’ll even bring my own hot glue gun!

Goodness. Seriously amazing.

Sigh.

gold glitter heart

{happy almost valentines day!}

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It’s no secret I’m a big reader. I feel like it’s the chance my soul needs for nourishing…and my brain desires in not becoming perpetually consumed with changing diapers, doing laundry, and menu planning.

It continues to get me outside my little world of “mommydom” and allows me to remember when I could weave words like innocuous and soliloquy through conversations, without need of a thesaurus.

My brain does not like to be idle…and neither do I.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll already have seen me reading some of these…but with the past few months of ravenously pouring over pages…I thought I’d share some of my favorites!

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I don’t want you to think that I consider all books I take the time to read, to be incredible and life changing.

There are about six more books I have read within the past few months that I’m not including in this list because in my opinion, they don’t deserve to be. They were fine, had good portions, but I didn’t come away feeling changed. In these following books however, I most certainly did.

non fiction

a house in the sky

I just finished this heart-wrenching and beautifully written book yesterday. I so strongly recommend it even though I sobbed through the whole thing {and I am NOT a crier}.

A House in the Sky tells the true story of Amanda’s life growing up poor in a small town in Alberta, traveling the world, and ultimately being kidnapped in Somalia by Muslim extremists. A captive held for 460 days, she recounts the terror and abuse, her daring escape, and pretending to convert to Islam as a survival tactic.

What gripped me the most was how she got herself through without losing all hope. She’d look for something…one little thing, each day that was good. Things like, “I am thankful that today Jamal set my food down on the floor instead of throwing it at me…I am happy that I heard a few seconds of the boys laughing and horsing around in the hallway today because it reminded me, if only for a minute, that somewhere inside each of them is a teenager who wants to be carefree.

In her mind, she’d run through all the different things she had to be thankful for and pray for every person she could think of. Those at home in Canada, others who she’d met in her travels, or had tried to hard to help her escape. She’d also picture all the places she had visited, imagining a house in the sky away from all the pain of torture, rape, and misery.

pink-scrolly

Of Beetles & Angels

Of Beetles & Angels {which I still need to return to my sweet friend who loaned it to me} is a remarkable memoir about a boy whose family was able to escape the dangers of northern Ethiopia and fled to a refugee camp in Sudan, where they were finally granted permission to move to the US.

Suddenly dropped into a affluent suburb of Chicago at the age of seven, Mawi recalls living on welfare as a child, struggling to adjust to American life, all the while being challenged by prejudice, language barriers, and financial disadvantages.

Following his father’s advice to “treat people . . . as though they were angels sent from heaven, ” Mawi tightly grasped the idea of good work ethic, and delighted not only himself, but his family’s dream of a full-tuition scholarship to Harvard University.

As an adoptive mom to older Ethiopian boys, it was incredibly eye-opening as I imagined our boys going through similar pain, loneliness, and loss as they manouver their new lives in America.

I got more insight on the division of African kids within each other {which we’ve experienced with Abreham and other African {non-Ethiopian} kids at school}, the fighting that is ingrained within them from early years in rough areas, and missing absolutely everything about their homeland. Even recalling the awful parts brought pangs of mourning and wanting to go back.

fiction

Terri Blackstock books

I picked up these two books at our church’s $1 used book fair and finally got to reading them. A series of four books, I’m really excited to finish the story.

Last Light begins as a wealthy father and grown daughter step from their airplane onto the tarmac in Birmingham. All of a sudden, an eerie quiet settles over the airport “as if someone had muted all the machinery around them.” Suddenly, planes begin to fall from the sky, exploding around them as they hit the ground. As moments continue, the pair realizes nothing works… phones, cars, water, anything that requires electricity to work.

After riding a bike part of the way and walking the rest, the Branning family is reunited and safe {for now}. The entire country {later they learn the entire globe} is thrown back into an age before electricity. Banks are shut down, stores are empty. People are acting out in violence because of fear and lack of food and resources.

The Brannings are quickly faced with the decision of hoarding everything…or trusting God to provide as they offer their resources to others. But trust is sometimes difficult when someone in their neighborhood is a killer.

pink dots

Night Light continues where the previous book left off. The Branning family {and the rest of the community} seems to be getting the hang of walking to get water, living by candlelight, and the slow-paced yet hard working lives that has become their reality. Their front yards are no longer beautifully manicured lawns and rosebushes, but rather have been tilled and seeds planted, as crops are needed so families can eat and live.

With the discovery of four children living alone in a filthy apartment, stealing to stay alive, the Brannings know the right things is to take them in. But with them comes a lot of pain and obstacles to overcome. The search for their mother uncovers a trail of desperation and murder…and for the Brannings, a powerful new purpose that can transform their entire community…and above all, themselves.

pink dots

I can’t wait to read the next books! I keep thinking how prepared {or not} our family would be if this happened in real life!

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Blessed Child book

The Blessed Child is such an amazing story of a young orphaned boy who was abandoned and raised in an monastery in the jungles of Ethiopia. He has never seen outside its walls, but suddenly he is running from men with guns…he must flee those walls or die.

Relief expert Jason Marker agrees to rescue little Caleb from the monastery and travels on with him to his own home in California, joined by Leiah, the French Canadian nurse who escapes with them. His heroism in saving the little boy however, unknowingly opens the door to an incredible journey filled with thrill, romance, and supernatural experiences.

Jason and Leah {and me!!} all have our eyes and hearts opened to this little boy who pours out the love of God, sweet innocence, and immense manifestations of the Power of God. The question is how the world will receive him {and who they believe the power is from} and if the men with the guns can finish the job they set out to do.

Spine tingling in places and leaving me in awe in others, I came away from this book not only entertained by a fantastically written novel…but encouraged in my Christian walk, as well.

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faith based books

 one thousand gifts book

Though it admittedly took me awhile to get into this book because of her poetic manner of writing, One Thousand Gifts is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life {in fact, I am thinking about reading it again!}.

In it, Ann Voskamp takes you through the horrors of being a child and seeing her sister hit by a car on their farm and die in their mothers arms. Ripping apart the hearts and souls of her parents, any faith in God was gone. Hardened by pain, she went through life with many more sorrows, many hurtles {some of them self-induced}.

Now married to a farmer, and in the midst of home schooling their six children, her soul awakens to the thought of eucharisteo - the Greek word for Thanksgiving. And yet the word also envelops the Greek words for grace and joy.

I whisper it out loud, let the tongue feel these sounds, the ear hear their truth.

Charis. Grace.

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.

Chara. Joy.

…A threefold cord that might hold a life? Offer a way up into the fullest life? Grace, thanksgiving, joy. Eucharisteo.

A Greek word…that might make meaning of everything? {page 32-33}

pink dots

Joy is a huge theme for me. It’s something I search out every singe day of my chaotic life.  My post on Perfection and Joy, this one called Weary, Worn, and Remaining talks of it as well. Every post I write is signed off with TAKE JOY, which the Lord spoke to me while doing my early morning quiet time.

Take Joy. Seize it.

In this book, Anne recounts how she counts her little pieces of joy. Her blessings, however big or small. She gives thanks, eucharisteo for them.

1,000 gifts

{page 103}

Her goal was 1,000. But as she far supposed that goal, she realized what real happineness {joy} is, and how it completely changed her life…and the lives of everyone in her family.

pink-scrolly

confessions of a raging perfectionist book

I love, love love loooooove this book. Another life-changing one as my eyes were recently opened to what an incredible burden it is to be one.

Since I’ve already talked about the book here and here, I thought I wouldn’t reinvent the wheel…but direct you to my past posts on what an impact it’s made in my life.

pink-scrolly

anything jennie allen

This book, so perfectly titled Anything, is another life altering, face on the ground before the Father kind of story.

Jennie writes how God had been opening the eyes of she and her husband Zac {a pastor in Austin, TX} to how precious our temporary lives are and how numbly we move through them. One night while climbing into bed, they began to pray Anything. “God we will do anything. Anything.” they told Him.

We were over it. We were over building our lives. We were over houses and cars and cute Christmas cards. We wanted something; we just couldn’t put our finger on it. It was burning in us. We had loved so many other things more than God. {page xi}

The book weaves around their desire for God to answer their prayer. “Lord, do you want us to give up the house we just built for something smaller, less expensive?” They felt a no. What about filling the extra bed in their son’s room, they questioned. Yes, they felt God answer. Adoption? Yes.

And so much more.

pink dots

Inside these pages are lessons on trust…

Do I trust God? Today as I write, I am in Colorado with my sister, Brooke, who just bravely delivered her daughter, little Lucy, twenty weeks too soon. Lucy is with Jesus. Today Brooke said through tears, “I trust God.” The beauty of the statement on this day makes me cry. God, give us enough faith for whatever the stories of our lives will hold, even in the worst of days. {page 61}

Overcoming doubt…

We avoid compelling anyone to God because it may feel cheesy or annoying. Well then, we have to find ways to compel that aren’t cheesy or ann {page 139}

One big thing – God must replace the chaos of me. I’m over my cute, comfortable, easy life. I don’t want to make decisions based on my adequacy and capacity. I don’t want to miss what God has for us because I’m afraid. {page 144}

God in the chaos…

At some point you either live perpetually anxious or give in and embrace the fact that your life is now completely out of your control…

…You still train your kids, but somehow you learn to let it all play out rather than trying so hard to smash it and them into perfect compliance…

…And while it was hard…it was simple. God was in control. he was real. He saw us. And we were going to eventually or quickly get to heaven with him. See, we weren’t going to be here very long. And everything we did between now and when we met him was up to him. {page 147-148}

control…

For years, I had known what I should do but could not seem to control my heart to do ti. I could hear good advice, even godly advice, but I couldn’t seem to stop my heart from feeling the out-of-control feelings of fear and insecurity and pride. How does one control the heart? 

Jesus prayed before he died, “You live for this other world, you live my mission, you glorify me here by obeying my voice and my Word, and you fight well, and I am telling you all of this because I want you to have joy. {page 163}

{ahhh joy. we’ve come full-circle. I told you it’s the theme in my life}

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It’s chalk-full of thought provoking lines, such as…

We weren’t as scared as we should have been. We were just so tired of normal. {page 91}

I wanted to be right with my God at the end of my life rather than right with all the people in it. {page 92}

So how do we actually let God change us? {page 102}

Without the Spirit of God to lead our anything, we will only be do-gooders with our own agendas. {page 121}

If life is temporary, why create the safest one possible that gets you through it with the least amount of scars? {page 135}

We don’t follow God just because he is God, just because he is boss. We follow God because he builds beautiful stories, even if they are not easy. {page 135}

If we pray anything, we will all, like Christ, be called to give up this life and things we love. We will be called to risk for his glory. Christ never intended those who walked with him to feel comfortable and safe… {page 136}

Ohmygosh, I obviously could go on and on about this book.

Basically? You need it. Get it. Read it.

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books

I so hope some {or all} of these books have stirred up something within you and will sometime rest in your hands as you curl up in the coziness of your bed or favorite chair.

They’re amazing, thought provoking, and if your heart is open for it…life changing.

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Last weekend while at one of our fabulous museums here in Denver, a woman struck up conversation as we watched our children take part in one of the exhibits. She saw how many kids we had and asked about them.

After telling her we had adopted them from Ethiopia, she looked completely bewildered.

“But WHY? Why would you do that?” she asked aloud.

Half trying to pay attention to our six kids running all over the place and half trying to explain to her the great need out there, I was frustrated. How can she be so shocked we did this?! How can this be such a foreign concept?!

I remember another woman, years ago who told me:

“Oh I could NEVER do that. We don’t have a big enough house for all the kids to have their own rooms!”

Really. REALLY? That is your reasoning?!

{for the record, every one of our kids is doubled up in their rooms}

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Now I TOOOOOTALLY get that not everyone is called to adopt. I don’t think it’s for every family.

. . . . . .

BUT…I certainly DO think we are all called to do SOMETHING for the poor, for the orphans, and for the widows.

I just finished reading an incredible book by the former CEO of World Vision and his wife, Richard & Renee Stearns, called He Walks Among Us.

he walks among us

In it they share short stories of individuals they had met in their travels around the globe, how they’ve overcome struggles, and how God is working in the lives of the poorest of the poor.

It’s inspiring. {and the photography is breathtaking}

Toward the end of the book is a chapter titled Seven Steps to Poverty.

I wanted to share it with you. It certainly helped me understand a little more, what it would be like to live in the way that much of the world does.

REMEMBER…we CAN do something to help! We CAN make a difference.

Ready? Here we go…

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Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

{Leviticus 19:18}

I’d like to take you on a mental and emotional journey into poverty. Follow me as, one at a time, I take seven things away from you. And let yourself feel the pain of the poor.

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First, I will take away your clothes.

Don’t panic, I won’t take them all. You can keep the ones you’re wearing. Can you imagine wearing the same clothes every single day? You can wash them each night, but even this small takeaway is humiliating.

Next, I will take away electricity and power.

Imagine going home to a dark house each night. None of your appliances work: you can’t use your refrigerator, telephone, heater, air conditioner, dishwasher, television, computer, or stove.

Your showers are cold, and now you have to wash your clothes by hand. Inconvenient is an understatement. But you shouldn’t feel too bad; you are still better off than most of the world.

Takeaway number three is really tough: I’m taking away your clean water.

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{sadly, could not find source}

Now none of your faucets, toilets, or showers work, and your only water source is a stagnant water hold about a mile away. You must walk hours each day to fetch the water your family needs, and because it is teeming with bacteria, you and your children are constantly sick.

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{source}

Making this situation even harder is the fact that none of your neighbors have been affected, and they don’t even seem to notice your suffering.

I’m afraid I now have to take away your home, so you have to live in a ten-by-twenty foot mud hut with a dirt floor, no beds, and little furniture. Your whole family will now sleep in the same room on the floor.

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{sadly, could not find source}

Takeaway number five is devastating: food.

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Long ago your children lost their smiles; now they are so hungry that the gnawing pain won’t go away. You have to find what little food you can by picking through your neighbors’ garbage. Already sick from drinking dirty water, your children become malnourished, and their bodies can’t fight off diseases. Your four-year-old daughter seems to be slipping away.

Getting her to the doctor is urgent but, tragically, the sixth takeaway is health care.

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To your horror and disbelief, there is no doctor and you have no option except to watch powerlessly as your daughter, wracked with parasites and diarrhea, dies before your very eyes! How can this be happening?

So what else could I possibly take away?.

Your hope has died in the ashes of your poverty.

And you wonder why no one has stepped in to help you.

Do these seven takeaways make you feel compelled to do something about the hardships that billions of people endure each day?

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in him?

{I John 3:17}

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Please…PLEASE don’t think there’s nothing you can do from here.

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. . . . . .

These organizations, though largely African in focus…are some that we hold close to our hearts.

{water/wells} Water to Thrive

{mosquito nets to prevent malaria} Nothing but Nets

{building wells, schools, medical clinics} A Glimmer of Hope

{shoes/protecting feet of children from hookworm and more} Soles for Souls

{helping free women from sex trade/human rights} International Justice Mission

{sponsor a child} World Vision & Compassion International

{give the gift of an animal & more} World Vision

. . . . . .

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You CAN make a difference. It may seem small to you…but it’s life changing for them.

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coffee filter wreathEarlier in the week, I talked about the fun coffee filter wreath I just made…which inspired a little room-redo and mantle decorating {I love shopping our house}!

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Today, I thought I’d show you how to make your own…for about $5.

Crazy, I know.

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You can use any wreath base you like or have on hand. I chose this wire one, from the floral department our local craft store because it cost just over a dollar.

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I started off by getting out my glue gun and glueing filters to cover the wire and give myself more space to eventually cover.

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Folding the filters into fourths like this, and placing glue on the edge, I first worked on the outside layer.

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It began to look like this.

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I next did the inside circle in the same manner.

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Finally the fun part…the inside! I crinkled each filter like the above photo, again glueing at the bottom and pressing it in.

Be careful doing this part, I burned myself on the hot glue SO many times!

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Make sure you place the filters extremely close together for the fullest look.

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It took me two days because Ben was out of town and I was alone with our six Crazies…and I had to take lots of breaks for fort building, cookie making, and museum going.

BUT all in all, it probably took me an hour and a half or so. Not too bad.

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After just shy of 300 filters, I am so excited about how it turned out!

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I think it just may be the prettiest and least expensive wreath I’ve ever made.

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I hope you have as much fun making yours!

Send photos over to my Hugs & Punches Facebook Page! I’d love to see them!

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