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What I Learned When I Visited a Children’s Hospital

This post is part of the Miracle Marathon campaign.

I had been on this children’s hospital campus once before.

Our youngest, known around here as Double J, had a slight heart murmur at his 18-month check-up and our pediatrician wanted an ultrasound done to check it out. We had an appointment in the outpatient clinic and everything checked out just fine.

I didn’t like that we had to be there, but everything about the place made our little one and me feel at ease – the bright, playful decor, the friendly staff, the child-friendly waiting area. For all of that and for the health of our boy, I was very grateful.

I went back to the same children’s hospital campus last week, not as a parent, but as an observer. I was invited on a tour of the hospital facilities to share them with you as we approach the start of the Miracle Marathon, a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals such as Children’s Omaha. And I learned more than I bargained for.

What I Learned at a Children's Hospital

As soon as I stepped in to the heart cath lab, our first stop on the tour, I learned my first lesson: it would be impossible to leave behind the parent part of me as I went on the tour. The child currently being observed in the lab was a six-year-old boy. I have a six-year-old boy. I was amazed to hear about the specialized work of the doctors and staff in this particular lab. The technology being used was incredible.

Children's Cath Lab

But I couldn’t stop thinking about this sweet boy whose heart was in a fast rhythm that couldn’t be controlled by meds and who needed to be observed for most of the day to figure out just what was wrong. I could only imagine being his parents, waiting to hear the diagnosis, but I could also imagine how thankful I would be to know my son was getting such great specialized care. The closest cath lab for children is three hours away, so this is an important service for children in a large geographical area.

My second big lesson came as we visited the emergency department, where 27,000 children have been seen in the past year. Emergency rooms need to be ready for anything, and a children’s hospital emergency room has to be ready for patients of any size. Laid out in the trauma room were the smallest and largest pieces of equipment that could be used on a patient – from a preemie to a high school football player…

Children's Trauma Room

When you hear children’s hospital, you might think of a child similar in age to your child. That’s how my mind viewed it until I saw this trauma room. Treating a sick newborn is very different from treating an injured high school athlete, but these hospitals are ready for it all.

Children's Cuffs

The different medicines that may be needed in the trauma room are even color-coded by weight to streamline the process of treating a trauma patient. I was in awe of how every detail has been thought of to take the best care of kids in need of medical care.

Children's Med Cart

My third lesson: I should have brought tissues. I was very emotional on the tour, for so many reasons. Touring the NICU, seeing the EMT team load up the ambulance to pick up a preemie from another hospital, talking to an interpreter who enjoys so much her job helping Spanish-speaking families and children at the hospital. It was very powerful to see so many people helping these sick and hurting children and loving on their families as well.

Children's Preemie Cart

Which brings me to the last lesson I will share with you today: Donations to this children’s hospital help fund pivotal positions in the hospital I didn’t even know about. One of the most interesting and important to me is the child-life specialist. A child-life specialist is there in the room to help the child feel more comfortable, to help distract them during a painful procedure, to make a sad, horrible, worrisome experience better in any way they can. This position is so critical, yet not reimbursed by insurance companies, which makes it a position dependent on donations.

A children’s hospital could be a place full of so much sadness, but I learned it is a place of love, specialized care, and hope, and I feel so privileged to share such a special place with you.

Children's Girl Heart

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The Miracle Marathon, a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, kicks off Tuesday, September 16th. It’s not a scary marathon – it’s just a mile a day for 26 days plus 1.2 miles on the 27th day. You can run, walk, bike – just move a mile forward each day. Do it with your kids. Do it FOR the kids. And I would love to have you join my team! You can donate to our local hospital or one local to you! Just go here to sign up and/or donate and get ready to move! {Yes, we have a long ways to go, but every donation – big or small – is important! Please give what you can!}

Have you ever been to a children’s hospital with your own child? What was your experience like?

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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.

Be-a-Hunger-Hero-logo_white

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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Fashion Friday for Kids: 60% Off!

Our kids should have a little fun on Fashion Fridays as well, right?!

Cents of Style hasn’t forgotten about your little ones and today’s Fashion Friday is all about them! The whole kids’ collection is 60% off + free shipping with the code RADKIDS at checkout!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 7/18/14- Kid's Collection 60% off & FREE SHIPPING with Code RADKIDS

All custom kids’ t-shirts, available in sizes 6 months to 5T, are under $10 shipped! I’m in love with the “Stop Collaborate Listen” shirt and I think the “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” shirt is so adorable for little girls!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 7/18/14- Kid's Collection 60% off & FREE SHIPPING with Code RADKIDS

The little girl and little boy shoes are darling and just $8.00 shipped! You can also find sweet sunglasses for boys and girls at just $6 shipped, as well as jewelry for your little princess for just $5 shipped!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 7/18/14- Kid's Collection 60% off & FREE SHIPPING with Code RADKIDS

Now is a great time to stock on some hip back-to-school gear for the little ones! Remember, use the code RADKIDS today only to get 60% off and free shipping!

I have to know: which kids’ tee is your favorite?

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Join Me for the Miracle Marathon!

Before you run away because I mentioned the word “marathon,” take a minute to read about this unique and MUCH easier marathon that everyone can do!

I’m thrilled to share that I’m serving as a lead blogger for this fall’s Miracle Marathon, specifically in support of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska! Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raise funds for 170 children’s hospitals across North America. When a donation is given it stays in the community, helping local kids. Awesome, right?!

Miracle Marathon

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I would be excited about an event that involves running and helping children! I started running just over two years ago and it is a major part of who I am now. I love that the Miracle Marathon gives me a chance to use my love for running to benefit others! And I want you to come along with me, whether you’re a runner or not!

The Miracle Marathon is a 27-day virtual fundraising campaign in which participants run/walk (or achieve forward motion of any kind!) one mile per day at their leisure. The first 26 days are completed at your own pace—wherever and whenever you want. On Day 27, the final 1.2 miles will be started as a group at 2:27 pm EST. Get it? It’s a marathon, plus a mile, for the kids! And it’s perfect for those of us who like the idea of completing a marathon but would rather not complete all the miles at once!

Please join me and register to support Children’s Hospital & Medical Center or another Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and tell your friends, too! And if you register as a Miracle Maker (you’ll receive fun swag!), you can use my special code MiracleErin to get a 10% discount off registration!

Did I mention we have a team?! I would love to have you join Team Home with the Boys, either as a Miracle Maker or as a donor, and help us raise $5,000 together! Just sign up here to join the team in one way or another and we’ll help kids together!

I’ll be sharing lots more about this as September 16th approaches, but let’s get the ball rolling with some donations and registrations for the kids this week!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Miracle Marathon.

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Schlitterbahn: Something for Everyone!

If you’ve watched the news or been on social media at all in the past week, you’ve heard about Verruckt. It is the world’s tallest water slide and it is set to open to the public today at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.

Verruckt is taller than the Statue of Liberty and that is just NOT my thing. I know plenty of thrill seekers who are dying to give it a try, but not me. And I’m happy to tell you, whether you’re a daredevil or a mama to littles, our visit to Schlitterbahn this month showed me there is something for everyone there!

Our whole family loves the water, so making a waterpark a part of our vacation was a no-brainer. A few other waterparks were considered, but ultimately eliminated because most of the rides and attractions had height requirements our little munchkins didn’t quite meet. That’s when Schlitterbahn caught The Hubby’s eye.

Entrance

Welcome

Although there are several “big kid” slides and rides that require riders to be 48″ or taller, Schlitterbahn is very family-friendly and we spent over six hours at the park and had more than enough thrills and fun suitable for all of us!

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For the littles, there is the Kinderhaven + Wyandotte Express train area…

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And the Pirate Ship at Henry’s Hideout {with heated water!}…

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You can step things up from there but still relax with the Kristal River lazy river…

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For a little more excitement, the King Kaw Rapids were a favorite for all of us. Just thrilling enough for the older boys, but safe enough for 2 1/2 year old Double J to enjoy with us riding in the child seat of a tube with a life jacket on. We all went back to the rapids several times!

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The Torrent River Wave Pool was tested out by Little j and The Hubby before we all decided to give it a whirl and this was another favorite! Much like the King Kaw Rapids, it was fun and safe for all of us!

Big J and The Hubby had a blast on the Storm Blaster ride, and there are much larger slides like the Twister, Cyclone, Black Knight Tube Slide, and of course, the brand new Verruckt.

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We attended the park on a Tuesday and it was busy, but not crowded. We were able to do everything we wanted with very little waiting. Schlitterbahn allows you to bring your own food + drink in, but also offers several food + drink options inside the park. We rented a locker to keep our stuff safe while we had fun and highly recommend this.

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I absolutely LOVE that life jackets and tubes are available free! On the website they say these are available in limited quantities, but there were always plenty when we needed them!

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I won’t lie: Schlitterbahn is not cheap. Thankfully, Double J was free and we got a discount for buying our tickets online. I was a little nervous about paying that much for a place we knew little about, but after a day there, I would do it again in a heartbeat for a special experience the whole family loved! I talked to a local mom who has a pass they use all summer long – if we lived in the Kansas City area, I would definitely get a pass as we would all want to go back often!

Lounging

Boys entrance

Couple park
Full park

Family entrance

If Verruckt has you excited about Schlitterbahn, then go for it! But if the opening of Verruckt made you think Schlitterbahn is for the older crowd, I’m here to assure you everyone from the littles to the bigs to the adults in your group will love this waterpark!

Does your family love waterparks? Have you visited Schlitterbahn?

This is NOT a sponsored post. Schlitterbahn has no idea who I am or that I’m writing this. We just loved our experience and I had to share!

*****

Most of the pictures in this post are from our new GoPro HERO 3+ camera {affiliate link}. There is no way I would have used my nice camera at the waterpark and we had a blast taking underwater pictures, videos on the rides, and not worrying about the camera getting ruined! SO MUCH FUN! If your family loves the water and loves to record their adventures, this is the camera to use! I love it so much, I’ll probably do a whole separate post on it!

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The New Awana: Story, Pillars, Website!

Awana logoI was so honored to be a part of Awana’s internal launch back in April and I gave you a few insights into all the “secret” info we were learning, but I’ve been dying to let you in on all the details…and today is that day!

While at Awana Headquarters, I was blown away by the heart behind Awana. In the past, I may have never heard that passion and vision had I not visited their offices, but Awana is changing all that by sharing more stories, launching a new website, and centering everything around three central pillars.

Awana prayer

The three pillars are Awana are what have had me all fired up {in a good way} – I passionately believe in each of these pillars and love how Awana is moving forward with these as the focus…

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Reach Kids | Equip Leaders | Change the World

  • Awana reaches kids for Christ through fun, relational Scripture-rich experiences that lead them to know, love, and serve Him.
  • Awana equips church leaders and parents to reach and disciple kids who impact their generation with the gospel.
  • God is at work changing the world through the evangelism and long-term discipleship ministry of Awana.

When I heard this quote at the internal launch, I knew Awana was serious about making an impact for Jesus, not just for their own organization:

“It’s not about planting more clubs, it’s about reaching more kids.” -Kevin White

To share more stories and to keep everything aligned around these three pillars, Awana has launched a brand new website today! It is not just a store to buy resources for clubs, but a place to find out how lives are changing for Jesus, to find training for leaders and inspiration for parents, and a valuable resource for all involved in Awana!

A few highlights I’m excited about…

  • The “Reach Kids” page includes a parents and families section with a blog and free ebook downloads!
  • The mission of Awana is to read every child, everywhere, so I love the Global Outreach page, where you can learn about sponsoring a child or engaging your church to help the global reach of Awana.
  • The stories featured on the “Change the World” page make me all weepy. Story is powerful and I’m so glad Awana is telling more stories about the impact God has made through their program!

Take a look at this video to get your very own website tour and then go look around at the website for yourself!

To keep up with Awana as they move in this awesome direction, make sure you subscribe to their blog here. You can also connect with Awana on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

Which of the three new Awana pillars is most exciting to you?

 

P.S. My friend Tricia is traveling with Awana to Kenya this weekend to see their international clubs and global outreach in action! Please pray for her and the whole group as they travel and bring back more stories! Thank you!

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Armed With Truth: Wearing the Word!

I am very passionate about the Word of God. I think more so right now than at any other point in my life. It is Truth. It is my lifeline. It is my hope and sword and shield.

I am equally passionate about my boys knowing the Word of God for themselves. The older boys each have their own Bible and when they have a question about a verse, we get the Bible out and look it up. And we’ve made memorizing key verses a priority – hiding the Word in our hearts, if you will.

Scripture music has been a favorite way to memorize Bible verses, and now we’ve added a new favorite way to keep important verses close by…

Armed With Truth 2

Armed with Truth is an awesome new company designing temporary tattoos with Scripture as their focus! And they weren’t just created with kids in mind – Armed with Truth tattoos can be worn by anyone!

Armed With Truth 1

The basic Scripture tattoos come in packs of 10 based on themes such as fearless, identity, and missions for just $9.95. The ones we’re sporting here are from the kids pack!

Armed with Truth 5

The awesome graphic tattoos, seen above on my foot and below on Little J’s arm, are part of the designer series which come with two of the same tattoo for $4.95-$5.95.

Armed with Truth 6

We have received so many fun comments from people since we started wearing them! And for me, it has been a great way to keep the Truth I need to remember right in view at all times. I really needed that Philippians 2:3-4 reminder often during the days I was wearing it! I also wore one during my half marathon this weekend to remember all good gifts – health, strength, joy – come from Him!

I know you want to get your hands on your own tattoos for your family, so hop on over to Armed with Truth to pick out your favorites! And then enter our fun giveaway for $15 to spend in the Armed with Truth store!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AWT blogger*I received these tattoos as part of the Armed with Truth blogger program. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own!

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#Awana14Launch: Exciting Things Ahead from Awana!

My first day at the Awana headquarters was amazing – a tour, meeting lots of staff, inspiring brainstorming sessions, and REALLY good food. You can see more from that day here.

Awana Blogger Day

Awana Matt's Office

Awana Out to Dinner

The second day was completely different but also completely amazing. Awana brought in its staff from around the country and world for an internal launch of a new direction for the ministry. Fun fact: Awana actually has its own “hotel” in the headquarters to house their missionaries when they come to town! I felt like part of a great big family all coming together for a reunion, and they really did treat us bloggers like family!

This launch day was full of fun news from Awana, inspiring talks from staff and guest speakers, great fellowship, and worship with Meredith Andrews! There may have been a little impromptu dance party to “Happy,” too. That was my favorite.

Over the next month, I’ll be slowly unveiling what we heard at Awana as part of their internal launch, but let me just say that they whole day just felt holy. I had to take my shoes off at one point during worship because I just felt His presence so strongly. The focus at Awana is passionately on bringing the Gospel message to all kids and my heart beats right there as well.

More to come in the next several weeks, but here are a few more photos and quotes to wrap up our #Awana14Launch time…

Awana Breakfast

“It’s not about reaching 10 million kids with Awana - it’s about reaching 10 million kids with the Gospel!” ~Zac Wendlund

Awana Sound Check

From Peter Greer, CEO of Hope International and author of Mission Drift:

I cannot outsource the discipleship of my children to Awana.

Self-centered service undermines impact, families, and ourselves.

Awana Meredith

“In the world of ministry, redemptive innovation leads to unprecedented impact.” ~Dan Lovaglia

Awana Tweeters

Awana Chick Fil A

“Every child everywhere deserves and needs long-term discipleship for the sake of the Kingdom.” ~ Travis Williams

Awana Worship Feet

Awana Matt

From Matt Guevara, campus pastor at Christ Community Church in the Chicago area:

You should not commit yourself to any story for your life that is not itself worth the spending of the only life you have.

Epic, quest, pilgrimage, mystery, love story – the Gospel is all these things.

There is space between ending of 1 chapter + the beginning of another. Use in-between to remember + anticipate.

Awana Group

This is most of the awesome group I had the privilege of hanging out with while at Awana! Brannon {in the middle back} was our point person on staff at Awana and he and his wife took such great care of us! He also knows how to PREACH about bringing Christ into our communities! If you’d like to read more from the other bloggers on the #Awana14Launch team, check them out here:

Felicia at Go Grow Go

Alicia at Making Time for Mommy

Heidi M. Hensley

Bill at Commander Bill

Ron Brooks

Jesse at Coffee with Dad

Steven at KidMinTools

Matt Guevara

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I’m with AWANA!

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ve seen an abundance of #Awana14Launch tweets over the past 24 hours. That’s because I am actually at Awana Headquarters in the Chicago area for a blogger summit and exciting internal launch event!

We love Awana at our church and in our home, but to be honest, coming into yesterday I knew VERY little about what Awana actually does and is all about. I am just blown away. The depth and breadth of this ministry around the world is so much more than just the Wednesday night clubs most people know.

The tricky thing about this summit and launch is we’re learning a lot inside details…and we can’t share most of them yet. Such a tease, right?! But I CAN tell you that the direction Awana is heading is exactly along the lines of what makes my heart beat excitedly regarding God and families and churches. It is a huge God thing and it is evident from every leader we have heard from how much prayer and thought and obedience to His call has gone in to the next steps for Awana. When an organization with a legacy of almost 65 years is moving in to something new and a little bit scary, you know God is up to something!

Enough with the teasing, I know. Here are a few fun images of our fabulous first day at Awana Headquarters…

Awana name

Awana Desk

Awana missions

Awana Sparky

Awana prayer

Awana meeting

Awana Bocce

Awana Hope Intl

Awana appetizers

Awana countdown

Stay tuned the week of June 16th for exciting, God-breathed news from Awana! And keep following me and the #Awana14Launch hashtag on Twitter for more sneak peeks throughout the day!

Have you or your kids been a part of Awana? Do you know much about Awana beyond the club experience?

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The Shamrock and The Trinity!

As most of you know, with my Irish ancestry, St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal around here. It was a big celebration with my family growing up and it is for my own family now, as well!

Besides the wearing of the green, Irish music, and a fun St. Patrick’s Day meal, it’s been very important to us that we keep our celebrations and holidays centered around Christ. This year, along with sharing the history of St. Patrick, I thought of a fun activity that ties together a very Irish symbol – the shamrock – with the Trinity.

Shamrock Object Lesson

Come on over to the Faith Gateway blog to learn about explaining the Trinity to our kids with a shamrock!

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