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Cheering Fans are Game Changers

Lately I’ve been deep in thought about this whole motherhood thing. I’m 5 and a half years into it. With a new year comes new focus. Everyone is trying to figure out how they themselves can be better and how they can better others. At least I like to think the latter happens for most people.

A few weeks back I read a post over on Momestary.com blog. The woman completely filled the page of her blog post on Jan 6 with what was in my heart on that day. You can check out her post here: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

I’d like to say that I love everything about motherhood. It’s all I ever wanted since I was 4 years old. But its not always pretty. Which brings me to the realization that often what I’m going through or the “secret” feelings I have in my days about parenting, well, simply I cannot be alone. There are other moms and parents thinking and feeling the same thing. There are fathers who come home from work and feel the same way that my husband says he feels. Smothered. Like he was never given a chance to come up for air. After 5 minutes of being home the other night he turned to me and said, “Welp, I’m done after 5 mins. You’ve had em for 9 hours by yourself. You think you can take it from here?” He was completely joking. He knows that I would have thrown the nearest heavy object at him if he wasn’t. (We don’t really throw things at each other people!)

I later in that same week found this blog post over on the gypsymama.com. Check it out here: http://thegypsymama.com/2011/10/for-the-days-when-you-want-to-quit-motherhood/ Proof that I am NOT alone! And proof that if you too have these feelings at times, You aren’t alone either!

My husband and I have had many conversations about parenting. We believe that there is parenting from mountain tops and parenting from within the forest. Currently, we are in the phase where we are deep in the forest. In fact, we are staring at 3 trees extremely close. Sometimes too close.  It’s hard to see around these trees that are in front of us at times. Sometimes its hard to breathe.  I know that I am not alone in this feeling.

I love that the current church is strategizing and learning how to come alongside of families and parents and partner with them in the raising of the next generation. But I cannot shake that perhaps there is something missing in directly encouraging  and impacting parents. They need to know that they are not alone. That they can do this! That like all things in parenting, everything is a phase, and whatever awful thing your kids are doing that you think they will never stop doing, will pass. Sometimes I wish the church would also realize that parents have a one up in the world of reaching other parents before the church does.I have found that parenting is an automatic common ground with another parent whether I know them well or not.

Sometimes parents just need to be told that their doing a good job. They need to hear “You’ve got this thing.” I don’t’ care if you’re a churched family or not, all parents need to hear that they are not alone and that they are doing a great job. They need to hear that as a family unit, God has great big plans.  I wish I could bathe parents in peace and rest.

Much like running a race or playing a sport, cheering fans can be game changers. Not to mention that being one of those cheering fans is almost as equally rewarding as being one of the players on the field. You begin to take on an ownership. A team commrodary. I’ve often heard runners say that they heard someone cheering from the sidelines just when they were about to throw in the towel and they got a big push to finish because of that cheering fan. It’s like everything comes into focus and the Why in what we do as a parent becomes clear again.

So if you see a mom or dad that is struggling or they have that look like “I just want to tie my kid to a chair and return when they are asleep,” give em’ a pat on the back. Even if they look like they’ve got it under control, tell them their doing a great job. Find the common ground. Every parent wants to succeed. Become a cheering fan for parents and I’m pretty sure that its a small step in the right direction of changing the game of great parents that produce some great kids. Great Families! Go ahead. I dare all those that are parents to invest in the next generation (your kids and your kids kids!) by investing in the next generations parents.

Go team Parents! You got this thang!

Gifts that Give Back

Every year I like to do a post about gifts you can choose to give that give back and help others. They are my favorite gifts to receive and give. It’s just an unforgettable moment when you receive a gift like these and if you’ve never been the one to give a gift like that, you might be surprised to know that giving these gifts are way more fun than receiving any. You will be reminded of all the things that over flow your cup and could so easily be done without. These gifts are not just thoughtful, but life changing. Choose a cause. Change a life. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Compassion International

Compassion International is just a phenomenal organization doing so much right. We are long time supporters of Compassion and we love all the many ways that they have added to give back this holiday season and all year long. We are getting several items this year for my in-laws. My father in law is a farmer and he teared up last year when we gave him a gift that helped teach a village in Haiti how to farm and plant crops. This year, you can purchase a cow for $100. Or you could go out to  eat with your family 4 times. Just saying.

Your gift will help provide clean drinking water, medical treatment, disaster relief, food supplies and much more for Compassion-assisted children and their families. Check out their opportunity to support a future leader program too! Once you purchase a gift, you will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of complimentary greeting cards to send to your honorees. For a last-minute gift option, you can print a card at home or send via email.

31 Bits 

This is one of my top 3 gifts to give. Its just so personal. If you are looking for a gift with a heart tug, look no further than purchasing something from 31 Bits. Husbands, your wives will have a daily reminder of how special this gift is every time they put on a 31 bits piece.

Not For SALE

The Not For Sale Store generates enterprise & employment to prevent human trafficking and create new futures for survivors. Every purchase you make is an action to end slavery — because no one should be for sale. We’re not talking about human trafficking in 3rd world countries, but amongst the very cities we live in. Not For Sale has beautiful bags, jewelry, tshirts and much more that all fight to end slavery.Welcome to the movement.

 

Rescue Gifts

Rescue Gifts help refugees and others who have been impacted by war and natural disaster. Holiday shoppers can choose a gift that inspires them and dedicate it in honor of a special person in their lives. The IRC will send gift recipients a beautiful acknowledgement card with the gift giver’s personalized message.

There’s a perfect gift for everyone: for a mom: A Safe Delivery ($24) can ensure critical supplies for the safe birth of a child in a crisis zone.  For the foodie or friend with a green thumb: A Community Garden ($60) can provide tools and seeds to refugees who have been resettled in the United States, so that they can grow their own fresh, healthy food in an IRC community garden.   For a teacher:  A Year of School ($52) can supply the tuition, books and other materials for one year of a child’s schooling in a country recovering from war.

 Ever After Clothing

 

Ever/After is a casual lifestyle clothing brand for kids and adults. They’ve paired simple, modern design with super-soft premium fabrics.  Best of all, the company will donate 25% of the net profit from each garment you buy to the cause of your choice. We’ve partnered with charities that share our vision of creating powerful & sustaining change in the lives of children in need. We believe helping others can extend to all areas of our lives, even the clothing we buy. Every garment comes with a change the story card that holds the value of this donation. A huge aspect of ever/after is to get the children involved in giving back. Our goal is that children wearing our brand realize that helping others can extend to all areas of our lives, even the clothing we buy.

Krochet Kids

What I love about Krochet Kids is that it’s a company that is empowering impoverished people to earn an income for themselves. Krochet Kids offers 3 year programs to women living in poverty. In this program, the women learn to krochet hats to earn an income and be able to fully support themselves for the first time in their lives. Based in Uganda and Peru, the hats are sold in the US, on their website and at most Nordstroms.

 

Live FashionABLE

You are ABLE to provide opportunities, and these women are ABLE to have a new choice.

Live FashionABLE is a non-profit. That means that your purchase of a scarf does far more than just create jobs. The fashionABLE mission is to create sustainable business in Africa so that the women are not dependent upon charity, but instead are a vital part of a developing economy. I personally have two of these scarfs, have asked for another this year and have given a few as gifts. They are heart tuggers and I love that every time I put my scarf on, I’m reminded of Gladys over in Africa,who made my scarf, and I pray for her and her family. I also want you to know that the packaging of these scarfs are beautiful and complimented with a tag by the woman who made your scarf and what it “ABLE’s” her to do. Doesn’t get much better than that!

 

Gift Card Giver

Gift Card Giver is a new form of giving.  The Gift Card industry has risen to be a 60 billion dollar industry. Ever wonder how many gift cards are unused?  Between 10 – 15%.  That means billions of dollars are sitting on gift cards, waiting to be used for good.

How many gift cards do you have sitting in your wallet?  I guess you have at least $5 of unused gift cards right now.  What’s 5 bucks going to buy you?  Maybe a pair of socks…but 10 people giving 5 bucks will buy a kid a winter coat, or 1000 people giving $5 may give that same kid a warm bedroom to sleep in through the night.

LUO

LUO is dedicated to breaking the barriers across nations to connect hearts and set children free from poverty. The word Luo means “to set free.” Buy a Canvas. Change a Life. $250 will provide nutrition, medical care, biblical curriculum and academic education for one child for one year. Buy a canvas made by the children in their partnerships and change a life. I have met this amazing couple that runs this organization and they are the real deal. These canvas pieces are stunning and serve as a constant reminder wherever hung, that someone has a better life because of that purchase. I’m a huge advocate in supporting organizations that provide hope and also teach hope to kids in need. They also have great tshirts in their store and you can donate in any dollar amount too. Spread the love.

Plywood People- Billboard Bags

When you carry a Billboard Bag, tell the story.  The material was upcycled from billboards on the streets.  They are handmade in America by legal refugees who were forced to flee their countries because of conflict.  Your bag is providing English classes every Friday and restores dignity for the workers, all the while addressing local social needs.  The bags are made with 90% reclaimed materials, so when you carry one of their products, you’re not only helping the environment you’re also helping a community in need. I personally have one of these and they are amazing. Check out their laptop sleeves too. Bags with hope. #winning

Looking for more gift ideas? Then you might want to check out one of my most popular posts from last year, the Top 10 Gifts Mom Wants This Year.

The Doors To Your Church- Part 1

 I’ve  lived in the trenches of children’s ministry for what feels like the majority of my life. My parents were children’s ministry directors and volunteers for a decade at one of the largest churches in St.Louis. Church was our weekends and even some evenings. Since I was 12 I’ve had either a volunteer or staff position in ministry. I’ve been what I always thought of as “around the block” when it comes to planning, organizing, creating, strategizing. But for the last few years, I have been on the outside of the circle. I’ll be honest with you. There’s been many of times that I have kicked and screamed at God for allowing me to just be ” left” outside of the circle. Why was I seeing things about the church that I had never seen before? Why was it causing me to feel  like I was behind a plexi-glass one way viewing window?

The difference between now and then is simple. I’m a parent. Anyone in leadership and/or ministry that is not a parent I can confidently say you won’t get it fully until you become a parent. I use to take offense to that when I would hear a leader say that. But its truth.

I have learned more about the church, leadership and being a parent far more in the last 4 years of my life than when I was deep in the trenches of ministry.

Hear me out on this. For those of you in ministry, Sundays come fast every week, don’t they?! It’s what I like to think of as the “head down and keep moving” syndrome, the “plug and chug”  or the “just keep your head above water one more week” syndrome.  I rarely was encouraged to take a step back to see the full picture. I rarely was given the opportunity to see things through the eyes of those actually experiencing the environments or processes. I often thought I was doing those things, but I wasn’t. I rarely was led in a way that put everyone in leadership on the same page, but rather drew the unspoken hard lines and siloed them even more.

On day one of entering my kids into a new church nursery, I was struck with so many negative thoughts about the church that i had never had before. And from the look of some other parents faces, I don’t think I was alone.

You see, for the first time since I was 12, I realized that the church and the staff of churches often don’t realize that their church has many doors. Doors are multi-functional if you think about it. They are for entering and exiting. Just as easy as you can enter into one, the same is true for exiting. It’s not hard in a church. Some are even revolving doors.

That day 4 years ago, I realized that the church doesn’t always step back and realize that some of the most important doors to their church are neglected. Uninviting. Unmanned. Manned improperly without any review or strategy. Existing for the purpose of existing because it simply always has. Nobody really knows why, but its there. Existing for childcare to keep parents happy and attendance and giving up in the main service. And the saddest one to me is looking great on the outside, but no strategy at all once you enter.

Pastors, Children’s Ministry is a door to your church!  Preschool Ministry is a door to your church!

I don’t care how great your main service is, as a church, you will never grow to the fullest and reach the families of your community effectively if you are not paying attention to the Doors! Doors need strategies.The environments behind those doors need strategy.

In Part 2 and Part 3 of The Door To Your Church, I’ll discuss ways that churches may not recognize doors within their church through their Preschool Ministry and how they are often ineffectively used. Things like,the Parking lot. Your greeters and signage. Your child/family registration process and drop off experiences. Your volunteers and the procedures for new volunteers. Your strategy on what you want the kids in your church to walk away with weekly. Your follow-up  and your Main Service. All things that are Doors to your church through Preschool Ministry.

I have 3 children under the age of 5. Life came at me fast. I had 2 kids in 11 months, and I was so ready to get plugged into a church and community with others in the same phase and experience what it would be like to have my kids growing up in a church that we loved. I never knew that the journey of parenthood would bring me to wondering if the church has placed silencing plexi-glass boxes over families and hope and pray that they fit through their doors.

What Doors are there in your church that you might not be seeing? What Doors within your ministry need work? What Doors have you as a parent experienced both good and bad? 

The Ripple Effect-Kids4MO

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation… It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” - Robert Kennedy

Please read about Kids4MO here and allow you and your children to join in on being a part of a ripple effect of HOPE and maybe, just maybe a wave  of HOPE will begin.

NorthPointOnline.tv goes live this Sunday!

Promo: “Losing Your Religion” from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Feel free to share this with friends, family, coworkers, etc!

Aug 16th  @ 6pm! This is the day that the church pew gets moved from the church building into homes, dorm rooms, community centers and around the entire world all at the same time! What an amazing opportunity for those that are unsure of testing the waters of “church” or for whatever reason, haven’t made church a priority in their lives. Andy Stanley, my all time favorite speaker and leader, will be kicking off with this new series “Losing Your Religion.” Buckle Up and get ready for God to be doing some awesome stuff through this service and YOU!

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