Be a Hunger Hero

I participated in this program on behalf of Champions for Kids and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

There are hungry kids in underdeveloped and third world countries. While I’m not ok with it, I’ve accepted this fact. I’ve told you about it here. I’ve mentioned the ways Compassion and many other wonderful programs are feeding the bellies and souls of these hungry children in Africa and Asia and Central America.

There are hungry kids here in the United States as well. Somehow that is harder for me to swallow. Hunger across the ocean has become ok to talk about because we have some distance from it. When I hear about the 16 million American children living in poverty and lacking nutritious meals, I don’t want to believe it. In this rich, extravagant country, I can’t bear the thought that a child in my own city could be going without dinner tonight or suffering from malnutrition. But it happens. Right here in America.

I’m not going to just be about making sure the hungry kids in another country have their needs met. I want ALL children, everywhere to have their basic needs met, at the very least. That’s why I’m joining Champions for Kids for the “Be a Hunger Hero” campaign.

Let’s start with the core values of Champions for Kids because that is where they got my attention:

All children should have: someone who cares; a place to belong; a hope for tomorrow; and provision for their journey. All children.

We can help all children and it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as shopping at Sam’s Club during the month of August!

hungerheroes

Throughout the month of August, Champions for Kids, Tyson Foods, and KRAFT Foods can help you “Be a Hunger Hero” at Sam’s Club by purchasing any of these products at Sam’s Club, Tyson® Fully Cooked Chicken Nuggets {5 lb bag}, KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner {7.25 oz} 12 pack, or CAPRI SUN Juice Drink Variety Pack {40 pouches} and help feed* a child in need.

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And we’ll be talking more about being a Hunger Hero on Twitter today! I hope you’ll join us to spread the word and maybe even win some prizes!

Join The #HungerHeroes Twitter Party

  • What: The Motherhood is joining Champions for Kids, along with Tyson Foods, Kraft and Sam’s Club, for a Twitter party to spread the word about hunger relief.
  • When: Thursday, August 21, 2014, at 1p ET / 12p CT / 10a PT
  • Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #HungerHeroes hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP right here!
  • Hashtag: #HungerHeroes
  • Prizes: Five prizes will be given to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $50 Sam’s Club gift card!
  • Hosts: @theMotherhood, @theMotherhood25, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann
  • Sponsor: @Champions4Kids

Chat with us on Twitter, shop at your local Sam’s Club – do what YOU can to be a hunger hero for a child today!

*4 oz. of protein, 6 fl. oz. of CAPRI SUN, and/or 2.5 oz. of KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinners

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They’re Speaking a Different Language, But I’m Still Listening

The Star Wars obsession in our house has reached full throttle. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Star Wars, especially the original three episodes. Han Solo is my favorite. Who is with me?!

The boys, however, have taken liking Star Wars to a whole new level. They want to watch it all the time. They check out books about it at the library. They play Star Wars games and play with Star Wars Legos and have lightsaber fights with the pool noodle lightsabers I made for Little J’s Star Wars birthday party.

STAR WARS EVERYTHING.

So when we sat down to watch The Empire Strikes Back, I wasn’t just getting Luke + Leia + Han + all the droids. I was getting full commentary on every ship, weapon, planet, and character that came in to view on screen. My brain just about exploded. I know the boys get their ability to talk for hours from me, but OH MY GOSH.

I will fully admit here that I wanted to tune them out for much of the movie. I don’t really care whether Chewbacca is using a Bowcaster gun or the stormtrooper’s BlasTech E-11 blaster during the battle at Cloud City. Are you impressed with my knowledge there?! All from my boys. And I think I can recognize an X-Wing from a Tie Fighter, but I don’t mind if I don’t know all the names of the other ships.

My boys, however, care deeply. They love learning about Star Wars and they love telling me about it. Most of the time, they sound like they are speaking an entirely different language, but I’m still listening.

Listening to Your Kids

I’m still listening when they talk on and on about Star Wars because I want them to know THEY matter to me. Star Wars isn’t my whole world, but these boys are, and I can show them just how important they are to me by just listening. I can look them in the eye and ask questions when I don’t understand. Their handsome faces just light up when I ask them to explain the droids to me or on which planet everyone has now arrived.

I’m still listening because I want them to keep talking to me. I want to listen when they talk to me now about what matters so they know I will keep listening as they get older and the things that matter to them change. It may be Star Wars now, but some day it will be friendships and peer pressure and deep faith questions and even girls…so not ready for that. 

On the nights where I think we’re just settling down for a relaxing family move night and I, instead, get an earful about jedis and padawans, I am committing to listening and letting them know they are heard.

Listening to Your Kids 2

Keep speaking that strange language to me, boys. I’m still listening and I always will.

What do your kids talk to you about that you just don’t “get?” How do you make them feel heard in these situations?

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Vote for the New fashionABLE + ALT Scarf AND a Sale!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Let’s start with the sale because I don’t want you to miss it…

fashionABLE is having a sweet end-of-summer sale! Some of my favorite scarves are up to 45% off right now! The Alem in gorgeous strawberry red is just $18! That is CRAZY! This sale will run as long as supplies last, so get yours now!

And now for the contest…

Would you like to help to pick fashionABLE’s next scarf design? Here’s your chance!

fashionABLE-+-ALT-Vote-for-your-favorite-square

 

Over 100 designs were submitted in the fashionABLE + Alt design contest and it’s been narrowed down to these three GORGEOUS choices. Check them out close up for yourselves, along with the name of each designer…

fashionABLE-+-ALT-Design-Contest-Scarf-1 fashionABLE-+-ALT-Design-Contest-Scarf-2 fashionABLE-+-ALT-Design-Contest-Scarf-3

I really do love them all, but I’m partial to the grey one {in the middle} because I think it would look rocking with a plain black or pain white tee and skinny jeans! Get your vote in by Wednesday, August 20th at midnight CST!

Tell me: which scarf are you voting for?!

{I’ll still love you if you don’t pick the grey}

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Interrupted: Annoyed, Flustered, Blessed?

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson! I received a copy of this book to review, but was not compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions are 100% my own!

I’ve treated many of the life changes in the course of our time as a family as interruptions. Job changes, moves – each has been a blessing, but I regret to say, at the actual time of each interruption, I treated them more as the world treats interruptions – annoyed, flustered, not thrilled.

Hatmaker_Jennifer_Author_photoI greatly enjoyed reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker, but it did ruffle my inner feathers a bit. I know that was her intention. Or His intention, actually. And when I saw the title of her book, Interrupted, I’ll admit that it got all up in my business…before I even read it.

Who wants to be interrupted? Interruptions mess with our current plan, the flow we’re in, our vision for life. Notice how I did not mention God in that previous sentence at all? Interruptions usually frustrate us because they aren’t part of the plan as we see it.

It’s been a struggle for me to see God in the interruptions as they happen. I pout and complain and lament the fact that I was comfortable and happy with the way things were. But I’ve learned God doesn’t want me to be comfortable. And I’m learning to see Him at work, even blessing me, through a change in plans I didn’t see coming.

“It dawned on me that Jesus was asking me not to do more of the same but to engage a different charge altogether.” (p. 18)

God had already begun the process of interrupting my life right now before I started reading Interrupted, but the book has definitely been a catalyst for rethinking the way He keeps us on our toes. I really thought one thing was the “next thing,” but He took that plan, shook it up, and something entirely different came out.

“The problem with Christian segregation is that God asked us to be on mission with Him, sent us to some group of people somewhere, and wants us to minister to them in a way that meets their needs by speaking their language.” (p. 202)

He has asked me to serve + minister to a certain people group. It looks nothing like Jen’s calling. But it is still uncomfortable for me to step out fully into this mission. I need Him to take on this interruption. He wants us to NEED Him to fulfill our calling.

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Interrupted is actually the prequel to 7, which I read first. Jen has a way of tackling really hard, really important subjects with equal parts honesty, grace, and humor. The humor makes it all a little easier to swallow. Without it, I may have found her books too heavy, but as they stand, I have learned so much about loving Jesus and loving the world through Jen’s words.

And now I’ve learned how important interruptions are in my life. Interruptions are actually blessings because they are God showing me He loves me and has a specific plan for me He doesn’t want me to miss. I just need to be interrupted to see it.

I would love to hear about a blessed interruption in your life! Leave a comment telling me one and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Interrupted! Giveaway will close Wednesday August 20th at 9PM CST!

P.S. Have you been watching the Hatmakers on My Big Family Renovation on HGTV?! It is THE. BEST. New episodes: Thursdays, 10PM CST. Catch the reruns if you’re not caught up – trust me.

 

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Let My Private Life Be the Proof Of Your Love

I’m surrounded by men and women making a big difference in this world. Rescuing women and children from human trafficking. Running maternity homes in Kenya. Creating sustainable income for men + women living in poverty. They have taken God’s call in Isaiah 61 and acted on it. Their lives are proof of the love of Christ.

As I have read their stories, shared their stories with you, tried to find “my” place and way to help, I have also been swept away by thoughts that I needed to prove my love for Christ for all to see. Yes, my heart to serve is there, but so is my people-pleasing side and that desire to have my good deeds known.

Yep, confession time today. I want to help those in need and I’ve wanted people to notice.

God started to break that in me this weekend. I was suffering from choice paralysis. I had a good ugly cry on a friend’s shoulder, wanting to just forget all the suffering and need I had heard about and start over. I asked Him to tell me exactly where He wanted me serving. And He did, but He wasn’t done there.

After returning home, my church held a worship + prayer night, and God spoke. At a prayer station were the words of “The Proof of Your Love” by For King and Country. Being one of my favorite songs of the past year, I glazed over the words at first and headed back to my seat. I started to write something in my journal and this came out instead…

Let my PRIVATE life be the proof of Your love.

Just a few days earlier, I had felt a gut punch in the ballroom of a blogging conference because I didn’t know WHO to serve. Now I was feeling it because God was telling me HOW to serve.

Private Life

It’s not that serving in the public arena isn’t important. I know you hear my heart there. The sharing of causes and the blogging trips and all of that is needed and important. People need to know of needs and how they can help. That is why I love to tell you about organizations like Compassion and fashionABLE and so on.

But Jesus wants my attitude, my behavior, my actions that only He and maybe my family sees to be the REAL proof of His love. If my life in private, in the walls of my home, doesn’t reflect His love, the rest is just a show.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4

This is what He is speaking to my heart: “If you’re struggling to show my love in private – in your heart, in your home – let’s focus there first.”

The truth is, for me, it can be a lot easier to love those I am NOT in constant contact with every day. I am a very social, outgoing person who loves connecting with lots of people. But I end up giving the best of me to online communities, charities, even this blog, TRYING hard to prove my love for Christ in a very visible way. Then my husband and children get my leftovers, which usually means tired, irritable, less-than-joyful Erin. God is calling me to reverse that.

And now for three steps on how to make this happen…

Oh wait, I don’t have all the answers. I’m just processing this word He spoke. I think it looks like intentional time, being present, continuing to soak in His Word and listen expectantly for His voice, but there is no three-step process because He works differently in all of us. But I do want us all to let this sink in and motivate us to love better in our everyday, not always looking for places to love that people will notice.

I’m convicted today, but also hopeful. I hope you’ll join me in making our private lives the proof of His love first and then letting Him shine outward from there.

 

A more lighthearted side note: We get to see For King and Country in concert this weekend! I’ll be singing this song at the top of my lungs with them, knowing just what it means for me!

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Summer Book Club for Moms Check-In #2: The Promise Box

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Well, this should have been posted at the end of July, but I was lost in conference session planning and magazine article writing and…forgive me?!

Summer Book Club for Moms

We’re continuing on with our Summer Book Club for Moms featuring a great series by my friend Tricia Goyer! All of the details are right here and you can still join in! Just check-in on the appropriate post for each book and we’ll wrap it all up at the beginning of September with a giveaway for one person who has read and checked in for all three books!

Promise Box

Whenever you are done reading The Promise Box {before August 31st}, just leave a comment below with your thoughts on the book and answer one or both of these discussion questions if you’d like! I love honest discussion, but let’s remember to keep it positive and encouraging to one another!

Here are the questions you can consider when leaving your comment…

1. The Promise Box is set in a small Amish community in Northwestern Montana. What do you like best about the setting?

2. How are Lydia’s eyes opened once she starts reading notes and Scripture verses from Mem’s Promise Box?

Happy discussing and happy reading! See you back here for check-in #3 on or soon after August 31st!

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It’s Freeing to Know Who You Are

This weekend I discovered the freedom of interacting with others when you know who you are.

Taking the StrengthsFinder test back in February opened my eyes to giftings I “kind of” knew were there from the Lord already, but I didn’t know how to name them. It was as if God called them out of me in a new way through that test and the study I did of my strengths in the time that followed.

This past weekend I attended the Declare Conference in Dallas, Texas. The Lord revealed an even greater blessing while there of walking in my strengths in community with other women, women who also know or are learning how God has made them and how He wants to use them for His kingdom.

God has built within me a strong desire and gift to connect with new people, to learn new things, and to communicate them with others. This is who I am.

At Declare, I had a chance to do ALL of these things and my heart leapt at each new opportunity to meet someone new, learn something new, or share what I know. I can see now how this has played out in previous experiences of mine, but this year felt different.  I felt more free, more bold, more connected with what He was bringing my way and why.

There are hundreds of personality tests and assessments out there to discover “who you are,” and it might be so overwhelming that you’re never touched one. But I’m asking you to reconsider.

In conversation after conversation with old friends and new friends this weekend, I heard women celebrating their God-given strengths and walking in wild obedience to do what He has asked them with those strengths.

Declare Heather Crystal

It looked like Crystal wildly obeying God’s call to share her love and gift for cultivating authentic community online to a room full of women.

It looked like Heather embracing her extroverted-awesome to emcee the conference with such humor, such life, such Jesus-love.

Declare Brooke Kate

It looked like Brooke + Stacey each sharing their own gracious, loving words about how to keep going and keep writing when the world seems to crumble around you complete with their own hard stories.Declare Stacey

It looked like Jessi holding on our hands and telling us she’s in the thick of it, too, and that’s ok because Jesus is enough to pull us through.

It looked like Lisa-Jo bravely telling her motherhood stories that made us all feel a little less alone and a lot more ready to fight for the things that matter to us, including our children.

Declare Sally

It looked like Sally and a lot of tears, understanding, prayer, healing between the two of us because she was willing to open her heart.

Declare Workout

It looked like Alisa leading us in a God-centered workout that brought us to throne of Jesus AND made me the good kind of sore for days following :)

It looked like the listening ears and wise words of Denise and Alia into the wee hours of the night, two women with very different strengths than me, but exactly what I needed to connect with at that moment.

It looked like so many other beautiful women saying, “Yes. THIS is who I am. THIS is what God wants me to do.” And every single woman’s wild obedience looked different and beautiful and free.

The first blogging conference I went to, I walked away wanting to be more like this woman or that blog. I hadn’t spent enough time asking God, “Who am I? What are the strengths you want me to use for You?” I spent years online trying to figure out how I “fit in.”

This year, I was so comfortable with me. And I felt so free. I led a session on affiliate marketing and I joked that it was the least “Jesus-y” session of the whole weekend. My session wasn’t about Jesus, but it was about using our strengths for Him. He gifted me in the area of connecting with people + businesses and sharing them with others, so I stepped out into this calling and LOVED it.

Instead of walking away from Declare wanting my blog to look more like this woman’s or my Instagram pictures to look more like that woman’s, I walked away ready to be me to the fullest, to fulfill MY place in His Kingdom.

Do you know how good that feels? I want you to know how good that feels. We all have different gifts but they are ALL important. The woman who listens well is just as gifted as the woman who speaks in front of thousands. But you have to know where your strengths lie if you’re going to embrace them and use them for His glory.

I don’t want to add another thing to anyone’s to-do list, but at least consider taking a personality or strengths-finding test today if you’re wrestling with your place in this world, in His Kingdom. And if you’ve taken these tests, find a way to use what what He has built inside you. Revisit those strengths often.

Because it’s freeing to know who you are and DO something for Him with it.

*****

My favorites for discovering more about your personality and strengths:

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First Day of School at Elm Tree Academy! {2014-15}

Today was the first day of school for the new year with these handsome boys! It is our fourth year of homeschool, with Big J starting third grade, Little J in first grade, and Double J wanting to learn colors, shapes, and letters, which the boys names “preschool!”

Our official first day of school pictures…

Jeremiah 3rd Grade 1st Day Joshua 1st Grade 1st DayJacob 2yo Preschool 1st Day Teacher 1st Day Three Boys 1st Day

When do your kids start school? Are they ready? Are YOU ready?!

 

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4 x 4: Get to Know Me Before Declare!

Next week is the Declare Conference in Dallas and I am over-the-moon excited to be attending and speaking this year! Some of my very favorite writer friends will be there and it has been WAY too long since we’ve seen each other. And since I know no strangers, only friends I haven’t met yet, I’m looking forward to seeing lots of new friends while in Texas as well!

And to make us a little less like strangers and more like friends when we finally do meet in person, I’m linking up with the Declare 4×4 posts to share more about myself! Enjoy!

Family Standing 2014 blog

4 things about me

I’ve been married to The Hubby for 11 wild and crazy years which have led to us being in his last year of residency right now. LAST YEAR, PEOPLE. {cue angels singing} He is my best friend and such a hottie.

I’m a boy mom, through and through. Big J is 8, Little J is 6, and Double J is 2. Our house is loud and chaotic and full of Legos and just as it should be. I don’t really “get” this boy thing all the time, but I sure do love them!

In my “former” life, I was an elementary music teacher and loved every minute of it. I worked in the best small community and also coached junior high volleyball and helped direct the high school musical. It was my dream job and I am so thankful for the time I had there.

After years of HATING running, I gave it a real shot in April of 2012 and have loved it ever since. In just over two years, I have ran four half marathons with the last two being under two hours! I never in a million years would have thought I would be a runner, but here I am! And I love encouraging other women in their running journeys! {Anybody want to run with me on Friday or Sunday morning?}

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4 endearing quirks

I am LOUD, especially my laugh. You’ve been warned.

I don’t eat cheese, but I’m a huge Cheesehead {Packers fan}.

I’m a little obsessed with personality and strengths tests and exercises. I love finding out more about myself and the people I work with so we can work better together. StrengthsFinder is my favorite so far!

I can’t wait to wear these cowboy boots in Texas.

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The last time I saw Brooke in person – Double J was 6 months old! Excited to be reunited at Declare, but sad Amanda won’t be joining us!

4 things about my writing/blogging

I started blogging in 2008 when I was becoming a stay-at-home mom for the first time. The blog was supposed to be a way to share our family life with friends and family far away, but it has definitely morphed over the years!

Writing was never something I had on my list of dream jobs, but as I look back, I used to write stories with my friends starting in elementary school and I wrote for our high school newspaper. God knew how to lay a framework for writing without me even realizing it. Now I can’t imagine going even a few days without writing something!

I have a few magazine articles coming out in late 2014 and early 2015! I love the topics and the magazine I’ve been writing for and can’t wait to tell you more when they come out!

I co-founded The MOB Society for mothers of boys with Brooke in 2010 without ever having met each other in person! We’ll both be speaking at Declare this year AND we get to room together!!!

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4 of my favorite things

Football. It’s so close I can taste it… Go Huskers! Go Packers!

Popcorn. Air-popped with real butter or popped on the stove with coconut oil are the best.

Tennis dates with The Hubby. Yes, he usually beats me, but we’re pretty evenly matched, so we have fun and get a great workout…and then go eat yummy food in our sweaty tennis clothes!

Fair trade/ethical fashion. I love knowing my purchases are making a difference.

*****

Well, that was fun! I cannot wait to get to Dallas and share the weekend with a whole lot of Jesus-loving women who want to follow Him with wild obedience and declare His Name to the world! If you’re coming, make sure you let me know and say hi if you see me!

I will be speaking on Friday about affiliate marketing and how to handle it ethically and still make money! I would love to have you join me if you’re interested!

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fashionABLE Flash Scarf Sale!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Mark your calendars! Set an alarm! Some of my favorite fashionABLE scarves will be 40% off today from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. only!

 

 

This flash scarf sale will include the FrehiwotEtanesh StripesAlem, & Anchinalu scarves, each at 40% off while supplies last! Just use the code SEEYASUMMER2014 in your shopping bag to get this amazing deal!

 

I own all four of these scarf styles and they are each amazing! Here is the Anchinalu in action:

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Each scarf is skillfully and lovingly made by a woman in Africa who has sustainable employment through fashionABLE. With your scarf, you will receive a tag telling how your purchase has helped one woman change her life. You will treasure each note and every piece – they are amazing works of art.

Remember, the sale is for FOUR HOURS only TODAY – 2-6 p.m. CST – and you need the code SEEYASUMMER2014 at checkout to get the 40% off! Grab a few of these beauties before they sell out!

Come back and tell me which scarves you bought during the sale!

 

 

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