Mercy {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Mercy.


And go…


The word mercy wasn’t on my radar much before Mercy House Kenya, but I think the founding of that amazing place came at just the time God wanted me to become really aware of mercy in my own life.

I still feel like I’m learning just what mercy is, but even with my vague understanding of it, I see God pointing it out to me over and over. As a mother, one of the verses I’ve come to lean on most often is…

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning. ~Lamentations 3:22-23

Very few days go by that I don’t feel like I’ve messed up or yelled too much or let someone down, but He always brings those verses to mind and, each morning, I know He has a new start for me. He doesn’t remember my transgressions from the previous day, and I am free to move forward in His mercy.

But how am I at showing mercy to those I love the most?

As my Bible study group started The Fitting Room this week, I asked each person which virtue they would like to grow in the most.

Mine: tenderhearted mercy. I want to know it more. I want to show it more.

Act justly, LOVE MERCY, walk humbly.



I wanted to let you know about an incredible opportunity to be a part of the work of Mercy House Kenya without ever leaving your home. A project is happening now as a partnership between Mercy House, {in}courage, and Pure Charity to raise $74,00 for the needs of the organization before Christmas. There are five different phases and you can read about Phase #1 right now at Pure Charity!

And don’t forget to read lots of lovely thoughts from the Five Minute Friday gang over at Lisa-Jo’s today!

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I Can’t Make My Kids Care

I want to teach my kids to be compassionate.

I’ve said it before but I’m not sure I totally agree with this statement anymore, since what I used to mean when I said that was…

I want to make my kids be compassionate.

You see, I’ve come to realize that I can’t MAKE my kids care about something.

Just like I can’t MAKE them like broccoli or MAKE them love that old movie I adore.

I Can't Make My Kids Care

{No, I did not MAKE them hug for this picture! Pure moment of brotherly love for the win!}

This realization was REALLY frustrating to me at first:

I’m the parent, right?! I can’t MAKE them feel love or mercy or compassion for someone else?!

After a few times trying to force them to get on board with charity projects I wanted to do, I have learned to take a different approach to this whole “teach them compassion” thing.

What I CAN do is two-fold:

  • Show them that I care.
  • Give them the tools to jump into action when they DO care!

This has taken a LOT of pressure off of me and actually created more opportunities for the boys to grow in compassion!

So, what does this look like?

Show them that I care.

There is great power in a parent’s example. I remember trying over and over to “teach” Double J {our youngest} to clap and he wanted nothing to do with being forced to do it. Fast forward a few weeks and he notice one of us clapping at something and joined in! He didn’t want to be made to do anything, but he did want to mimic what Daddy and Mommy were doing!

When we decided to sponsor a child through Compassion, I actually didn’t involve the boys in the process of picking a child. At the time, they were still young and the details were not important to them. So I picked a child I felt drawn to – his precious face and March 17th birthday the same year as Big J told me he was ours right away

When Samson’s picture arrived, I told the boys about him and where he lived and tried to get them excited about writing to him. They didn’t “get” it yet. They drew something because I told them to, but I knew their hearts weren’t really in it.

At that point I decided I would keep his picture where we all could see it, pray for him when I prayed for the boys, write letters, and read his letters out loud when they came, but wait for them to gain interest in their own time.

And the boys did start to be interested in him. Big J would be working on his Scripture handwriting sheets and decide he wanted to send it Samson. Little J was making Christmas cards for grandparents and asked if he could make one for Samson, too. Their care and love for Samson didn’t come through forced activities. It developed over time as they saw The Hubby and I caring for him through our prayers and words.

As parents, our example of compassion, mercy, and love for those in need goes much further than anything we could MAKE our children do. It may take longer than you like, but genuine compassion is much better than forced compassion!

Give them the tools to jump into action when they DO care!

Eventually, there will be a cause or person in need that catches your child’s attention. For Big J, it was the children who didn’t have beds or safe places to sleep. When he brought it up, I was ready with the question:

“Would you like to try to help them?”

When he answered yes, I got on board with him and we found a way to do something for those kids!


Keep your ears open for the things your children say that show they are wanting to help someone and be a ready to help them out!

Nickels for Nets flier

If they want to raise money for an organization, help rally friends and family to collect money like we did with Nickels for Nets, but let them do most of the asking, counting, etc. so they hold on to ownership of the project! I made the flier above on the computer, but Big J handed them out and told people what he was raising money for, as well as counting the money himself!

U-NEEKS - Thinking of You - Dweeber- 3 Premium Cards for Kids

If they notice a friend who needs some encouragement, have some cards ready they can use to write their friend a note! Dayspring has these totally awesome U-NEEK cards just for kids that include messages of encouragement, friendship, prayer, love, and more.

Be willing to search for charities or programs that help the people your child is interested in helping!

Let your children know you are willing to commit family resources – such as time and money – to support something about which they feel passionately!

Side note: I do think it is okay to require all family members to participate {with a good attitude} in a cause that one family member feels is important because it fosters the “team” atmosphere of the family, but it is also important to not get frustrated if the other family members don’t get all excited over that one person’s cause!

Taking the “model and equip” approach has produced greater results in the compassion and service area of our children’s hearts than anything we could have ever MADE them do!

What is your experience with kids and compassion? What causes have your children shown interest in? Which of these steps would you like to work on in your home this year?


*This post contains affiliate links.

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Links I Love & a Nickels for Nets Update!


We’re over halfway through the month, so I thought I would give you an update on how we are doing with our monthly mission raising Nickels for Nets!

I am so proud of Big J and how he has been committed to asking people for nickels and telling them about the mission of Sweet Sleep – at taekwondo, the library, church, and everywhere we go!

As of Friday, we had collected $21.20 and our neighboring city friends had gathered at least $30.50 for a total of $51.70! That means SIX NETS have been sponsored so far! Woohoo!!! Let’s keep it rolling for another 12 days! How is your collecting going?

Nickels for Nets Box

Now, for a few things I’ve loved around the Internet this week…

*Simple Mom’s posts on writing a bookThe Big Picture and The Nitty Gritty – bookmarking these for someday…

*4 Steps to Casting a Godly Vision for Your Son – Ooh, this is a good one from Heather, relevant for sons AND daughters. It’s had me thinking a LOT.

*Amanda’s Armor of God series is Totally. Awesome. I’m storing up these ideas to use with the boys after Lent and Easter!

Happy weekend everyone!

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Monthly Mission: Nickels for Nets!

He hears everything, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked about the children without clean, safe places to sleep they were talking about on the radio.

Kids without beds? Being bit by bugs while you sleep?

He was genuinely bothered by what he had just heard. He remembered a time they talked about something similar at church.

I asked him if he wanted to find a way to help. He said yes.

I was thrilled because this went along with one of the family ties I have been working on for my 31 days series: serve together.

Not long after this conversation, I traveled to another part of country for a moms’ conference and learned of a company called Sweet Sleep. It was just what we had been looking for – an organization committed to providing clean, healthy places for children to rest their heads.

And now, because of a brilliant challenge dreamed up by my dear friend Amanda, I get to share more about Sweet Sleep with you today!


Monthly Missions are all about teaching our kiddos to do the “hard things.” Serving, giving, making a difference for those who are in need. You can read more about the whole shebang over in the introduction at Amanda’s awesome-sauce blog!

Nickels for Nets

The Monthly Mission for February is Nickels for Nets, an initiative from Sweet Sleep to help stop the spread of malaria.

Did you know 1 in 5 childhood deaths are due to malaria, with 90% of those deaths happening in Africa? I had NO clue it was that rampant and it BREAKS. MY. HEART.

Mosquito nets can save lives by preventing mosquito bites in the first place. Each net costs just $8.00, or 160 nickels!

Big J decided he wants to collect enough nickels to sponsor five nets. Five nets = $40 = 800 nickels!

**Update: A sweet real-life friend has offered to help collect nickels towards our goal in another city so we are changing our blog goal to TEN NETS sponsored! WOOHOO! So excited! Thanks R & E! Doing a little happy dance!

Here’s what we’re doing:

We are reading more about malaria and mosquito nets so the boys understand how we are helping these kids. It’s all part of the “do hard things” aspect – I want them to really know what they are a part of when they step out.

Nickels for Nets flier

We made up some fliers to hand out to people at places we frequent – church, the gym, the library, etc. – so they know he is collecting all month. I included contact information and our blog address in case they wanted to donate later or check on our progress!

Big J is taking his Nickels for Nets box everywhere he goes! You can use anything to collect the money – we just happened to have the box already! I am already seeing a boldness in him as he tells people about malaria and the program. My heart swells to see him taking on this challenge with such enthusiasm!

When the month is over, we will count all of our money and make our donation through the Sweet Sleep website!

I put a little thermometer over there in the sidebar so you can see how we’re doing with the goal! I’ll be sharing updates throughout the month on Instagram, and to wrap it all up, we’ll link up a final post over at Amanda’s site!

And that’s it! Want to join us?!

All you really need to do is help your kids understand the problem of malaria and be a part of the solution by collecting nickels to buy nets! HOW you go about doing all of this is up to you! Make it fun and make it fit your family!

So who’s in?! Who will accept the Nickels for Nets mission with us?! Can’t wait to follow everyone’s progress throughout the month!


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Processing “7”

I’m reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker right now.

I laugh out loud reading it in the middle of the night feeding Double J. Seriously – that Jen is one funny gal.

But this book is messing with me as well. If the book wasn’t so funny, I would be locked in my room, in a puddle of tears, unable to move because it has made me confront a lot of uncomfortable things.


Our life of excess here in America.

My own selfishness and self-centeredness.

Blech. Blech. Blech.

I want things to change. I want to be part of the change. I want to live my life differently than the “world.”

The trouble is I just don’t even know where to begin.

Remember that post I wrote about being in mom survival mode? I’m there. Just figuring out how to get through a day homeschooling two boys and taking care of a baby. Trying to not let the laundry pile get too high {which I’ve failed at miserably this week}. Attempting to have even an ounce of energy or time left for The Hubby at the end of the day {another big failure lately}.

I’m so stuck in this mindset of making it through the day, I can’t even move towards helping the marginalized in our society. I feel paralyzed.

Despite my lack of action, I AM thinking and praying. The poor, the orphans, the widows…they are on my mind and my heart. And they are making their way into many conversations between the boys and I.

A story about children without beds in Kenya comes on the radio and Big J wants to know, “Do they REALLY not have beds?” I take the time to talk with him about these children – about their living conditions, how he feels about what he is hearing, how he would like to help them. We get so deep in conversation, I miss my turn to the Bible study we’re headed to and I’m ten minutes late.

Totally worth it.

Tropical Storm Isaac heads toward Haiti. I hear that 400,000 people are still living in tents after the earthquake that hit TWO years ago. We get out a globe and find Haiti. We pray that the storm will miss them. Big J decides those 400,000 people should move into the new houses being built across the street from us. I hold back tears, moved by his desire to help.

And I know – this is what I can do now. I can do my part by raising children who are aware that life is not the same for everyone around the world. I can nurture those desires they have to serve and give to others. And we can help others side-by-side in the name of Jesus.

There ARE things Jesus wants me to do – things I need to eliminate or re-prioritize in my life and things to change about how we live – but those things aren’t completely clear to me as I write this. He is stirring me. I will continue to pray and seek His will and let Him know…

I am willing. Lord, use me according to Your purpose.


Join the Compassion Blogger NetworkOne other thing I can do is share my heart here with you. September is Blog Month with Compassion. I’ll be sharing more with you about Compassion each week as will many other bloggers, all with one goal:

To see 3,108 children sponsored between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30.

If even one child is sponsored because of something I posted here, I will be humbled to have been used by God to help that one precious child.

And you can join Blog Month as well – just join the Compassion Blogger Network by clicking on the widget over there on the left! If you have a blog, you have an opportunity to make a difference by using your platform to save children from poverty!


If you want to read and process 7 with a lovely bunch of women, the (in)courage Bloom Book Club is reading through it RIGHT NOW! Get all the details on the Bloom page and start reading – you will not regret it!

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Meals for New Moms {Top Ten Tuesday}

Top Ten {Tuesday} I have so many friends due with little ones in the next nine months, it’s hard NOT to think about how to help them all out! And every new mom, whether first time or repeat, appreciates not having to cook! It is my favorite way to bless these dear friends!

I’ve got a list of my favorite go-to meals to make for these families – some are freezer meals, some are not. The biggest thing is to not make spicy or heavily-tomato based meals for the nursing moms. That can be hard when the easy things to make are spaghetti, tacos, lasagna…but it IS possible!

Here are my…

Top Ten Meals to Bring to New Moms

1. Chicken Stuffing Casserole – This recipe has comfort food written all over it AND it makes two casseroles at once! I think of it as more of a fall dish, but stuffing is good anytime of year!

2. Brinner – Whip up some waffles or pancakes or even a breakfast casserole!

3. Mom’s Updated BBQs – Yes, these have some tomato soup and a little ketchup in them, but they are very mild. If you have a really sensitive newborn, you might steer away from this, but it has worked ok for others! Just take along buns, chips and some fresh fruit!

4. Kahlua Pork – Just bring the buns, chips and fruit along here as well!

5. Cranberry Chicken – Again, with this one, a very sensitive newborn tummy might not like this one, but the cranberry balances out the Catalina dressing really well! I always get rave reviews on this one!

6. A favorite soup – pick something seasonal – a fresh veggie soup in the summer or a beef stew in the winter! Add some fresh baked bread or rolls to complete the meals!

7. Chicken Veggie Pasta – Friends brought us this meal when we had Big J and it is still a family favorite! And you can customize the veggies to what the family likes!

8. Steak Salad Again, there are lots of salad recipes out there, but this one {without the tomatoes} would be nice and hearty! Pick your favorite!

9. Honey-Glazed Chicken Stir Fry – Or a stir fry of any kind! Pick your favorite recipe and bring rice along!

10. Food from their favorite restaurant! Most places have curbside pick up now, so ask the new parents what they would like, call ahead and pick it up from the restaurant!

A few bonus ideas…

*Make them some bread! Fresh bread is such a treat and with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day you can have that in no time! I was skeptical about this book at first, but it is seriously easy and delicious!

*Put together a crockpot meal and take it to them in the morning! It is always a tad stressful to try to take a meal to a family AND get your own family fed at the same time. You can put all of the ingredients for the meal in the crockpot, then drop it off and plug it in during the morning so it will be ready for the family at dinner time! Less hassle for everyone! My favorite crockpot cookbook is the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook!

*Bring lunch instead! Lots of new moms get meals for dinner, but when there are other little ones in the house and the husband is gone to work, someone has to feed those hungry mouths some lunch! There are tons of great family-friendly lunch ideas in Erin Chase’s The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook!

What is your favorite meal to share with a new mom and her family?


Also linking up to…

And Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam!

*This post contains affiliate links.

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The Spirit of This Tree

This post.

This post by the brilliant Amanda (Oh Amanda, Impress Your Kids) over at the MOB Society last week inspired the project-loving teacher in me to pick up a roll of craft paper and get to to work on this…

Our “Helping Hands & Thankful Tree.”

We traced tiny hands, brainstormed ways to help others and put ourselves in the “thanks” AND “giving” mood.

Hands go up on the tree as our ideas are fleshed out. More ways to give are always around us.

We track our blessings on the calendar – thanks to be shared a week from Thursday around a food-filled table.

We strive to make this – the spirit of thanksgiving – a part of our every day, not just November.

holy experience

And I continue to count my way slowly to one thousand gifts…

41. Early morning time with Him.

42. Warm, over-sized sweatshirts.

43. Ruffles. Beautiful ruffles.

44. Diet Sioux City Sasparilla in bottles – delightful.

45. Unexpected surprises from the hubby.

46. The joy of working with my hands.

47. Girls’ night.

48. Friends who call, text, email just to say hi.

49. Party mix – my FAVORITE fall food.

50. Watching nature’s decor change with the seasons at the hand of the Master Artist.


How do you and your family get – and stay – in the spirit of thanksgiving?


You are always welcome at Home with the Boys – please join us on the journey!

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Micah 6:8 in Action

I’ve written about how much I love this verse in the past.

But I love it even more when I see it in action.

As is the case with everything Kristen from We Are THAT Family does.

Especially her newest project. It is truly amazing, friends.

The Mercy House.

  • Annually, 26,000 women die from having an illegal, unsafe abortion in Kenya. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • Every 30 minutes, a woman is raped in Kenya. (Nairobi Women’s Hospital)
  • Mothers often force their daughters into trading sex for food in the slums (CNN)

information taken from The Mercy House website

These stats about pregnancies and abortions among young girls in Kenya is enough to make me crawl in a hole and cry – for a LONG time.

But that wouldn’t do any good.

Kristen and her family knew something needed to be done to affect this horrific climate and culture of rape and abortion in Kenya.

You MUST go read more about the journey and heart behind the Mercy House here and here.

And then hop over to the actual Mercy House site to keep up to date with all that is going on as they prepare this sanctuary for scared, pregnant young women and girls.

They need your support – prayers, donations, purchases from their fabulous shop – whatever you can do.

Just take action.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


And I couldn’t finish this post without adding this song – it will break and inspire you all at the same time. Shaun Groves is incredible.

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The Gift of Home

Conversations with my husband, with dear friends.

Reading the Word of God, perusing thought-provoking blog posts.

Planning for our upcoming MOPS year, examining the relationships of women in the church.

Lately, everything seems to point to one thing for me:

I am beyond blessed to be at home.

I have not, however, truly appreciated that or known what all that entails in the eyes of God.

But I am unwrapping this gift layer by layer, day by day.

I do know it involves loving, blessing and serving this man.

Summer 2010 010

And loving, raising and serving these boys.

Spring 2010 017

And if you’re uncomfortable with my use of the word “serving” here, go ahead and take a glance at this verse:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

If serving others was good enough for the King of Kings, it is MORE than good enough for me. And who better to serve than the ones I love most?!

Now, back to the homefront.

These verses have been pivotal for me, and I am still pondering what all it means for my life and for the church:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

I would consider myself the younger woman in this scenario, and not because of my age as much as my need to learn.

My mind is reeling with ways I can grow as a homemaker. I hope to chronicle this journey here as God works in my heart and in our home.

After all, I am “Home with the Boys,” and it’s not all about me.

Truly a gift.


tuesdays unwrapped at cats

I’m joining Tuesdays Unwrapped over at Chatting at the Sky to celebrate the beauty of the small moments in life.

What gift are you unwrapping today?

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Friday Favorites: Making a Difference

I wrote a post a week ago that revealed a change that has been happening in my heart. And while I may not know exactly what God wants to do with that change at this point, I do know that I can share ways that YOU can get involved if you are so led.

So this week, here are a few of my favorite organizations that are changing the lives of so many, along with a little info pulled from each of their websites.

Please take some time today or this weekend to check out more about each organization. And pray about how God wants to use YOU.


Convoy of Hope

COH logo

Convoy of Hope is a faith based organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, disaster response and partner resourcing.


Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

The Mentoring Project

The Mentoring Project seeks to respond to the American crisis of fatherlessness by inspiring and equipping faith communities to mentor fatherless boys.

World Vision


World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Feeding America

Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity.  Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger

Do you have a charity or organization you strongly believe in? Share with us in the comments!

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