Tag Archives: giving

Living in more…

I’m beginning to feel the urgency to live…

 in “MORE.”

And perhaps my definition of more… looks quite different than what you may be expecting from the concept of living in more.

Living in more…

How many of us live pay check to paycheck?

Go about our days like clock work.

Do the same thing day after day after day?

But what if there is more to this life?

What if we have unfulfilled dreams and callings and desires? 

Why not start living in the more?

You see…

More is where the faith is.

More is where the trust is.

More is in the mundane and the simple.

Yet excites us like no other. 

Let’s stop living mediocre lives.

Let’s stop allowing comparison to be the theif of our joy.

Why not live in the more…

We don’t have to look the part, dress the part, blend in with the crowd…

You see…

More is so much different.

Living in more is going against the flow,

Daring to dream,

Looking different,

Standing out in the crowd,

 Living in more calls us to a life of 

generous giving,

intentional serving,

Being bold, brave and courageous.

Living in more calls us to live with less but to love much more. 

It calls us to give up and sacrifice, but to walk in abundance.

Strip yourself from all that entangles you… walk out on a limb… and step forward in a sold out life of MORE! 

A recent living in more opportunity was spent with my daughter at a tulip garden. This day was an ordinary, drizzly Sunday… she and I actually had a little “disagreement” earlier that day… and instead of allowing the day to be cloudy, rainy and filled with our yucky attitudes… we spontaneously stopped and picked tulips and decided to live in MORE! It changed our gloomy day and gloomy hearts and filled our souls with sunshine and beauty. 

We love finding fun little places to visit during our travels… and love meeting people and taking the time to hear their stories too. 

If you are in the Dallas area near Springtime, I highly recommend visiting Texas Tulips in Pilot Point, TX. Check their website first to make sure the tulips are still in bloom though. The tulips are beautiful and we stopped and chatted a bit with the owner’s wife and heard her story of their family moving to the states several years ago from Holland, as this was her husbands dream since he was a little boy. This family chose to “live in more.” They had a dream and made it a reality! He was a master tulip gardener in Holland and moved to Texas to open one of the few tulip gardens in the U.S. 

Lovely family and fabulous visit. Here’s a little photo of the owner and my daughter. 

https://texas-tulips.com//

Giving Tuesday

L I G H T 

are the 5 tin letters that hang over the door to our home on wheels.

LIGHT

is a reminder for our family to live out our calling. It is a reminder for our family to remember whom we serve. It is a reminder that this life is not our own and we are here on Earth for so much more than ourselves. It is a reminder of the scripture we have claimed for our family.

Matthew 5:16: “let your LIGHT shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Our desire as we travel is to shine the light of Jesus everywhere we go and to do so with open hearts and hands.

We have traveled 37 of the states here in the U.S. since we embarked upon this journey almost 2 years ago. We have traveled many miles, explored beautiful lands, have met many new faces, and have reconnected with familiar ones. Our intent with every mile traveled and every mapped out encounter has been to love well and live intentionally. 

My prayer for my children is for their love for the Lord will shine so big that it becomes contagious to those around them. I became most certain the Lord is answering that prayer when I witnessed the generosity of my little one unfold over the past few months.

I can’t even put into words how precious my sweet Emma Rose is to me. She has the biggest heart ever and loves others well! She decided to save up all of her money from her birthday and allowance to give it away to those in need. She wanted to buy things for kids who are less fortunate. She said that she has everything she needs already and would rather give her money to those who may possibly be without. (See how camper life can make everyone a minimalist lol). 

 With the help of a few other sweet folks who contributed to her plan… she was able to extend generosity to so many children. 

Today is GIVING TUESDAY and I would love to share some photos of her shopping and info on the ministries she prayerfully chose to support…

For years we have partnered with Samaritans Purse and filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. 

“It is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, Operation Christmas Child, uses gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world.”

She wanted to use her money to fill a box or two this year for children around the globe.

You can learn more about Samaritans Purse at http://www.samaritanspurse.org


We enjoyed shopping for the suggested items and made sure we stopped and prayed over the children who would receive these goodies. 

She was so adorable counting out her money and paying at the register for her purchases.


I decided she deserved a little treat while shopping so she picked to sit and have a frozen frappachino (caffeine free) while I enjoyed a coffee (with caffeine). One on one time is so much fun. She was a ham at the coffee shop!


As mentioned earlier, we travel the US in a 40ft travel trailer and we stay in RV parks and State Parks while traveling. The Lord always orchestrates our travels and allows us to meet the neatest people. At the park we are staying at here in GA, this God ordained encounter was no exception… we just so happened to camp right next to a mother and daughter team who travels in their camper to volunteer for Operation Christmas Child. June and her daughter Andrea, were volunteering at First Baptist Atlanta and were more than happy to hand deliver our shoeboxes for Emma Rose. We loved our time with this family. They for sure blessed our lives and we hope to meet up with them down the road at their farm in Alabama! 


Emma Rose desired to bless children and families who live in other countries but also knows there are people here in the U.S. with needs she could bless as well. A precious lady that is on the same Plexus Worldwide team with me is part of a ministry called I 58 Mission. 
Here is a little more about that ministry:

“Our heart’s desire is to support those in need in our community. Your participation is valuable to this ministry. Will you pray with us, volunteer alongside us, minister to the hurting? There are many ways to plug-in. You can also participate by donating items such as household goods, appliances, furniture, clothing, and food. Those items are given to people who are in a difficult place in life. We want to help meet the physical needs of those living in painful circumstances and show them the love of Christ.

Ways to learn more or reach out to this  minstry:

Website- http://www.thei58mission.org

FB- http://www.facebook.com/thei58mission

PayPal- thei58mission@gmail.com

*********************************

My girl also has a heart for children in India. We have precious friends who currently live in India and partner with a ministry in India that serves women and children who come from troubled backgrounds. We often lift up our friends in India in prayer when we have our family prayer time before school or bed.  It was such a delight to pray over these specific women and children and ask the Lord to guide our shopping and lead us to the items that would be perfect for them.

Here are a few more pics of shopping spree day 2.

The smile on her face was for sure contagious! I know the LIGHT of JESUS shines bright through my little 8 year old… and our prayer is that her desire for generosity will move you to do something extra special and give back to a cause/ministry/group on this special day on Giving Tuesday. 


 Emma Rose, you are one of a kind, you shine the light of Jesus BIG, and we couldn’t be more thankful to have you as our precious treasure. 

I would love to close with the words that inspired our friends GA ministry I58, with truths from the prophet Isaiah…

““Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:6-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Leaning into Advent

Our family made a decision several years back to come around and participate in Advent.  I am so grateful that we did because it really helps prepare our hearts for the true meaning of Christmas. 

It puts our focus on the birth of Christ and less on the idea of consumerism. 

 It teaches us to have a Spirit of giving instead of focusing on receiving.  

It makes us pause, rest and wait for the celebration of our Savior’s birth instead of just rushing straight through the season.

I have all of these lofty ideas of how to celebrate, how to incorporate and how to participate in Advent and the Christmas Season… And boy does Pinetrist and social media help make these ideas loftier and loftier every single year. 

When I allow these ideas to get the best of me… I begin having a heart of comparison instead of leaning into the true idea of resting and waiting through the season of Advent.  Well… This year… As many of you who are following along with our traveling journey through this blog and Social Media, know that we packed up our things/rented out our house/bought an RV last January and travel the country with my husband’s job… Well along with the “packing up of things” all of our Christmas decor was packed up as well. I packed in such a rush that I didn’t even think to set aside one single item… No stockings… No ornaments… No advent books… Nothing. 

So this Advent season has become a simple one for us.  If you are tempted to compare your decor and celebrating with others… You are safe here on this blog… Because when you see our ways of celebrating this year… You will not be jealous at all…

  We believe that Jesus is the light of the world! We believe that He exists so that we can have eternal life. We desire for His light to shine through us… And we really focus on shining His light during the season of Advent.  We are staying the week in a hotel in Charlotte, NC and decided to brighten up our hotel room with Christmas lights so that we can daily be reminded to shine His light!  
   

 As far as  gifts, our kids get 3 Christmas presents.  We have been doing this since our oldest was a baby. We teach the children that we celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus’ birthday and Jesus loves us so much that he wants to give us gifts on the day we celebrate his birth. We do 3 gifts because of what we learn from the Bible about the 3 Wise Men bringing gifts to baby Jesus in Matthew 2:11: “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” 

Following this idea helps daddy and I to not get stressed out with the gift giving and doesn’t break the bank! 

My kids love buying gifts for one another… But there are 6 of us… Which could add up quickly if we each purchased gifts for one another… So we draw names and purchase stocking stuffers for the name we draw. And since our stockings are in storage… The kids picked out a stocking from the Dollar Tree this year… And they seemed totally content with that. I have Pottery Barn stockings (that I bought on clearance) packed up in storage so I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money on new ones this year. 

   

    
 Since all of our Advent books are packed away in storage 😢😢 I printed these coloring pages and we spend the beginning of our school day reading scripture and coloring about the Christmas story. You can find these adorable printables for free at https://www.ministry-to-children.com/

Although my kids no longer  “believe” in Santa… we still have fun with our silly little elf every year. Our original elf was purchased from Elves from Catie. Catie was a precious little patient of mine who passed away from cancer. Her mom started this organization in her honor and you can learn more about it at http://elvesfromcatie.webs.com/ 

Our elf did silly little pranks throughout the season… Instead of being a stationary elf that watches for you being naughty or nice… Our elf was cuddly and fun and so very enjoyable… But as you have probably already guessed… Elle the elf was packed away in storage too… So this year we have 

  
Foxy Loxy… An Advent fox who teaches us about doing random acts of kindness….
This morning, Foxy Loxy was discovered on top of the hotel room’s coffee pot and left a note telling us to purchase a cup of coffee/hot chocolate today when we are out and about in the town for a random stranger and give it to them to help warm their heart!

There are so many ways to incorporate the true meaning of Christmas and I pray you have enjoyed reading about some of our ideas. I would love to hear back from you on how you celebrate the season of Advent and the true meaning of Christmas! 

I would also like to leave you with a link to a few books that we are very fond of to use as a daily Advent devotional/family reading time…

We are biased and absolutely love this devotional book because it was written by our pastor Louie Giglio. It makes a great gift… And see the details below about how you can win this devotional book for free! 

And this lovely Advnet book was given to us last year as a gift from one of our sweet friends…
 

There are several books in this series and makes a great book for family story time. I actually found ours last year at GoodWill! (Bargain!!)  

  

I am giving away a free copy of Waiting Here for You by Louie Giglio!!! Please comment below with a way you celebrate Advent/Christmas and leave your email address and you will be entered into the drawing! I would love it if you would subscribe to my blog as well by leaving your address in the bar to the right of the screen. But you don’t have to do that in order to be entered into the give away.

Contest ends Sunday at midnight and I will notify the winner via email for shipping info!   

From our family to yours…Merry Christmas!   

Giving Tuesday

Yesterday, as we continued homeschool and prepared our hearts for the season of Advent…I mentioned to my kids that it was Giving Tuesday. 

 
 Giving Tuesday was established in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City. It is observed globally on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving by groups and individuals promoting acts of kindness. 

What a wonderful day… In the middle of the hustle and bustle of Christmas, when consumerism is at its peak… we are prompted to pause and take a moment to GIVE. 

Because really, isn’t that the reason we celebrate anyways? We celebrate because a child was born… A Son was Given. 

I shared the same story of Giving Tuesday on social media yesterday… And I love that one of my aunts actually loved the idea so much that she has decided to make every Tuesday a “giving tuesday.”  What a fabulous idea! Perhaps we all should! 

Giving doesn’t always have to be monetary. We can also give our time, talents, a handmade gift or service to others. I agree Aunt Patsy, if we all “gave” or did a random act of kindness once a week for the entire year… The world would be a much more beautiful place. And as far as giving monetarily goes, it doesn’t mean you have to give your last penny… You can 😉… But even the smallest amount helps if we all reach into our pockets and give a little. A lot of littles added together equals a whole LOT! 

If you would like to rally around the idea of giving this season and need a few ideas of where to contribute, I can recommend several that are near and dear to my heart… 

A21 Campaign is on the very front lines providing water, clothing and shelter to Syrian Refugees. They work hard to prevent trafficking, to rescue and restore lives of survivors. 

No Hungry Children is a ministry ran by my sweet friends Brandon and Kim Smith. Their ministry feeds children every school day in Nairobi, Kenya. 

My dear friends Jimmy and Melanie Gunderman (along with their 4 adorable children) are missionaries in India, working with Daughters of Hope. 

Those are organizations/ministries that you can partner with abroad and please let me know if I can help you contact them in any way… But also look around you… There are so many ways to help on a local level too. (Through a local church, school, homeless shelter, and even in your own neighborhood). 

My prayer for our family and for you is to use this season of Advent as a catalyst to remind us to always have a Spirit of giving…to extend a hand and the love of Christ during the 4 weeks of Advent… But to also stretch our giving hands into all 52 weeks of the year. 

Remember, Christ is the best gift of all, and through Him, we can make every Tuesday, Giving Tuesday. 

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV):

For to us a child is born,

    to us a son is given,

    and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

  Of the greatness of his government and peace

    there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

    and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

    with justice and righteousness

    from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

    will accomplish this.

   

 

Elijah

Every day has a purpose of it’s own.

I assume, some days more than others, we are more “intune” with the Lord and His exact plan for our day.

And that is exactly the way I would explain one certain Sunday, several months ago, as I sat down with my husband for a church gathering at Passion City Church.  It was a normal Sunday, my children were settled into their classes in Bloom and Passion Kids and the sermon was amazing as always… but God had a plan for our family to encounter Him at work in a way that was far beyond normal;  a plan that was extraordinary and exceeded more than we could have ever asked for or imagined.

My hubby and I sat behind a young man and 2 of his younger siblings.  We met them during our greeting time and shook hands.  Again, just a normal Sunday morning.  God, however, had something more in store.  My heart was blown away sitting behind this young guy and by witnessing his act of worship.  His love for the Lord came alive as each song was played, and as each word was preached from our pastor.  Jesus was alive in this young guy… and it was very evident!

I was moved by this young guy and his love for Jesus that radiated from him as he worshiped.  When the gathering was over,  I felt as though I was to ask this young guy if he planned on attending Passion 2015 (a student conference geared towards 18-25 yr olds).  Our church hosts this event… it is a powerful display of the Lord’s splendor and thousands gather there to eagerly encounter Jesus. 

When he told me he wanted to attend Passion 2015 but wouldn’t have the funds, I felt as though my family was supposed to help him raise the money to attend.  I posted this on FB and IG… and I was blown away at the goodness of the Lord and the generosity of others.  (Even my little girl had a generous heart towards this and you can read all about it on a previous blog post titled “today she is six”).  Not only were the funds raised for Elijah to attend the conference… but all expenses were paid for Elijah and his older brother to attend!!

Again, God did exceedingly and abundantly more than we could have ever asked or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  It was amazing to witness the out pour of generosity from family and friends who wanted to be a part of this story and God’s plan.

God is good!!!! We have had the opportunity to meet up with Elijah several times since our first encounter and we love him and his heart for the Lord. 

Passion 2015 starts tomorrow and we can not wait to hear all the Lord is going to do in and through Elijah and his brother.

Would you join me in praying over this conference, Elijah, his brothers and all who will be gathering to experience Jesus in a way that is unlike any other encounter! We are expectant!

If you would like more information about this event check out http://www.268generation.com

Here is a pic of Elijah and our family during Christmas:

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9fe/26985120/files/2015/01/img_1813.jpg

Thank you so much to those of you who generously gave. Lives were changed and will forever impact the Kingdom because of your obedience and stewardship.

today she is six…

imageI can no longer tell the age of my daughter by using just one hand. Today… my sweet, kind hearted, Spirit filled, brown eyed, joyful ray of sunshine turns SIX!!! What in the world!  How can it be?  As hard as it is for me to admit that she is no longer five (or one, two, three or four for that matter)… I can’t help but think over each year of her little life with such gratitude.  The only sister of three brothers… this girl is for sure the “cherry on top” of our family (and a whole lot of sparkling sprinkles too).  What a treasure she is!  She lights up any room with her beautiful smile and twirly spins. How blessed am I to mother such a little tiny jewel!

A few months ago, she set her eyes on a Sofia the First play desk at Wal Mart.  With her mouth opened wide and a smile on her face, she starred and starred at the desk (for a lot longer time frame than her mama wanted to give her)… and she desired to have this certain desk as her very own.  We told her the desk would be a big purchase and she would need to save up her money in order to buy it.  And that is exactly what she did.  She went home… rounded up all of her dollars and change… started doing odds and ends around the house to earn money… and even saved the money from the tooth fairy so that she could buy this Sofia the First school desk.

Jeff actually went the following day and purchased the desk for her when it was half price, in order to give it to her for her upcoming birthday.  We didn’t let her know… and she kept saving every penny and quarter she could get her hands on.  She saved $15 and was ecstatic as she was at the half way mark!

Fast forward and change scenes with me for a moment…

Last Sunday,  I sat behind a young gentleman at church and felt as if I were to help him raise enough money to attend an upcoming student conference that our church hosts.  (You may have seen my FB post about it last week and you can check out info for this conference at http://www.268generation.com). The kids were curious as to what I was doing and I explained the entire situation to them on the way home from church.  As we pulled into the driveway to our house that afternoon, my sweet daughter said “Mama, you know the story you told us about people giving money so that Elijah can go to the Passion Conference?  Well, can I give my Sofia the First money to you also so that he can go to the conference?”  Give a mama a box of Kleenex!!!! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  How generous was she?  I was blown away by her sweet little servant’s heart.  My husband and I were both in tears.  We decided to surprise her when she got home and give her an early birthday present… her Sofia the First desk!  And YES, Emma Rose… you certainly can give your money that you have been whole heartedly saving to Elijah so that he can attend the Passion Conference… and sweet baby girl… may Jesus bless you above and beyond what you could ever ask for, imagine or dream for in return for your sweet, kind, loving, and generous heart.  I love you EMMA ROSE!! I am blessed to be your mommy.  Happy 6th Birthday little darling.

Psalm 37:4: Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Virtuous woman with a servant’s heart

Thanksgiving Day is a little over a week away so it is only fitting that we continue along with our time looking over the Proverbs 31 woman by learning from her example of being a woman of service. Proverbs 31: 13-20 speaks of the many tasks this woman sets out to accomplish. Not only does she see to the affairs of her own home and cares for her immediate family, but she also extends her hand to the poor. Please join me in reading verses 13-20:

13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

Just reading over that scripture makes me short of breath. What about you? As I have mentioned time and time again, do not allow her eagerness to serve make you feel bad or belittle who you are. Once again, remember that this is just an “ideal” bride for a mama’s son and she obtained these characteristics over her lifetime. Although I am not sure that in my lifetime I would have accomplished half of these tasks. What an amazing woman the Lord inspired through scripture for us to glean from as we strive to become the woman of God that Christ desires for us to be.

One thing that I love most about this woman is that she has a heart for service. I can so relate. It brings me great joy to serve others and reach out to the needy. However, if I were to take a glance at my life currently, I am not able to serve as much as I would like to. When I was single and prior to having children, I was able to put many more hours towards serving others and reaching out to the needy, than I am now, having three small children at home. It took me a long time to come to grips with the inability to reach out and serve like I used to. The Lord revealed to me that my hours of service are “for such a time as this,” is spent serving three small children who depend on me to meet their every need. I know that sooner than I want, my children will be older and there will once again be time to spend more hours serving others. In the meantime, my job is to serve my family and along the way teach them about serving others by involving them in acts of service that we as a family can participate in. I love finding ways that my family and I can serve together. We find things to do that would allow us to involve our young children. I have been involving my children in service since they were very young, and now it is so neat to see them desire to reach out and help others. I am now able to serve with that child like faith through the eyes of my children.

As women of God, how can we be examples of noble servants? Can you think of ways you and your family can reach out to a family in need or serve during the holiday season this year? I know times are tough and our lives are so busy, but I guarantee you it will bring you great joy to serve others.  Last year my kids wanted to do something to raise money to send to Haiti.  They decided to have a lemonade/cookie stand and used the money raised to buy medical supplies to send with our friend as she headed to Haiti on a mission trip.  For my son’s birthday every year, we take cookies to the local fire station because he is infatuated with firemen. I love my children’s desire to serve.

Here are a few suggestions for service opportunities this holiday season:

  • serve at a local mission or homeless shelter
  • make holiday goodies and take them to family, friends, neighbors or your local police station/fire station
  • visit a nursing home in your area and spread love and smiles to someone who may not have family to visit them
  • Gather Thanksgiving meal items to give to a needy family.
  • Adopt a family and  purchase Christmas gifts for them. One great way to get involved with this idea is through Operation Christmas Child. For more info: Samaritan’s Purse

I would love to hear all about how you and your family enjoy spending time-serving others.  I know there are many ideas that you can add to the list above! Let’s encourage one another through service.