Wednesday, July 30

The heart of the home....

Here is my current kitchen (in the living room!)....

Because my soon-to-be kitchen needs some work!

It's strange not living with a kitchen. I'm quickly realizing how much I take it for granted and how much time I typically spend in the kitchen...planning, preparing, cooking, baking, and cleaning up!

How do you view your kitchen? Chores to be done? Work to be had? Cleaning dishes, cleaning floors, cleaning faces?

Whatever your view, you might want to check out this article: The kitchen, the heart of my home.

I appreciate the truth presented in this article. Our role in the kitchen is truly a blessing to our family and to others. Meals together and favorite dishes can all become beloved memories and traditions.

Be it a big, contemporary kitchen, or an older, well-used kitchen or a tiny remodeled kitchen (like mine!), what takes place in this area can truly fill our homes with heart!

Tuesday, July 29

A Wise Woman Builds...

Stacy isn't kidding when she says she is living in a construction zone. Their move is way beyond a 'normal' move.

As a Realtor, I see hundreds of homes all put together well and showing nicely. I am asked so often, "Don't you always want to move when you get to see so many homes that are available and so beautiful?'

My standard answer is, "No, I am not yearning to move, I just want to go home and clean my house." I have found that I can easily get discouraged or envious of the homemaker who has all her things in the appropriate place. The mother who has her children's rooms organized and color-coded. The woman who loves to garden and has a home with outstanding 'curb appeal'.

I usually see homes when they are 'staged' and ready to sell. I don't see the mess of moving but this weekend I was reminded of the reality of it.

Isn't that easy to do? Forgetting what life is really like, and thinking that everyone else's home is better, more organized, comfortable, prettier or more efficient? We don't get to see what really goes into building or sustaining a home too often. We are quick to hide our junk and just display our best to others and they do the same for us.

Moving brings the Homemaker to grips with the basics...with the best things packed away, we are left with only the mess and the 'stuff'. It is our attitudes that fill the home and begins to build memories into the spaces. I've learned over the years, that the best-dressed homes are homes where the people are sharing laugher, love and the lives of one another on a daily basis.

Sharing in Stacy's move this week on the blog is a great time to evaluate your home... is it 'staged' to impress others or is it busting forth with love, life and laughter?

Let's review...Proverbs 14:1 says "A wise woman builds her home, but with her own hands, the foolish woman tears hers down."

What kind of home are you building?

Monday, July 28

A wise woman builds....

My husband and I had a busy weekend! Here are a few photos that represent the current state of our lives....

Saturday we moved from our temporary housing into the home we have
been remodeling. Our house is in a bit of chaos....boxes, tools, and lots of projects.

The crazy part is that I
am loving being here! Of course, it's only been 48 hours, but it feels SO good to be home!

Last April I left my previous home of
five years and drove off into the sunset. I didn't know where we would be living or what our next home would be like. So even though my home is a construction zone (literally - I will post more pictures of that this week!) I feel so blessed to be here.

Tonight I washed dishes in the bathroom. It's really gross to wash dishes while looking at your toilet :)

But I realize that washing dishes in the bathroom while my kitchen is being remodeled is part of building my home.
Next week I may be frustrated, feeling unsettled and ready to be done with construction. But today I'm thanking God for the blessing of building my home!

What about you? What tasks are required of you today to build your home? What attitude is necessary to do them so that you build and not tear down?

I'm hoping I can choose carefully in the days and weeks to come....I'm hoping wisdom wins out over foolishness!

Friday, July 25

Home Improvement...

We've been talking about marriage this week, so make this weekend a time to improve your relationship!

Have your husband write down 5 tasks he would love for YOU to do. It may be calling around for information, scrubbing the grill, cleaning out a space for him to store his tools, or buying some fertilizer. Have him write 5 things HE would like your help with.

You do the same. Write out 5 tasks you would love to see him accomplish. Trim some tree branches, hang up some hooks for the kids' coats, wash your car, give away old clothes he doesn't wear anymore, etc.

Write out each task on a separate small piece of paper. Put his tasks in a jar and put your tasks in another jar. Find a time during this weekend to 'draw' one task out of the jar for each of you to accomplish during the next week. You pull from the jar he put his slips in and he will choose a job from your jar. You will have all week to do it and then pull another piece of paper out of each other's jar and do another job the following week.

This Home Improvement will last you 5 weeks and hopefully it will bring you laughs and smiles as you see your home get a face lift as well as your relationship.

Expectations are so much a part of a relationship. Identify what it is that you expect your husband to do around the house and what he expects from you and then let each other know in a fun way. Put it in this format and I bet your expectations will be fulfilled. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 24

5 Things Never to Say to Your Spouse

Wow. That's a pretty strong headline, huh? I thought so when I read it. I was curious as to what 5 statements could be so detrimental that one would never want to voice them to his/her spouse.

Then I read the article from Marriage Partnership, and I have to agree with all of them. You can check the article out here.

This article challenged and encouraged me. And it reminded me that I have a long way to go.

Even after years of marriage there are always things to learn about the marriage relationship and about my husband specifically. As soon as I learn about Ryan, he's changing!

One thing I am committed to is to be constantly learning and growing when it comes to my marriage...reading books, talking, sharing, observing, reading the Bible and what it has to say about marriage, asking questions, talking with those further along in marriage.

Although it's challenging to read articles like this from Marriage Partnership, I believe they encourage us and force us to grow.

If you have a book or article or passage or quote that has challenged or inspired you in your marriage, please share!

Wednesday, July 23

What Makes a Good Marriage?

Here's a riddle for you:

30% marry because of this...

50% say it's the second most important reason to wed...

Long married women call it the number one factor in making a marriage succeed...

What is it?

Well, I am a 'long-married' woman so I will give you the answer...FRIENDSHIP!

Did you peek, or did you know the answer after the first clue was given?

I met and married my husband really quickly 37 years ago. The odds that our marriage would last were very low in that our first 'date' was in February and we were married by July of that same year. Not a lot of time to establish a friendship. We spent many months after our wedding just getting to know each other. Thankfully, friendship has been a major part in the success of our marriage.

Dr Laura Schlessinger says the secret of a good marriage can be summed up in 4 words:

"Choose Wisely...Treat Kindly"

4 words that are key to a good marriage...and a good friendship.

The application of these four words and the building of a deep friendship takes a long time to establish.
That is why marriage needs to be forever!

Tuesday, July 22

Here's to 37 years of commitment

As Barb's daughter-in-law I am blessed to have in-laws who have persevered through 37 years of marriage. My in-laws are a beautiful example of two people committed to one another for life.

They work together, play together and laugh together. They pray together, trust God together and bless their family together.

They married young and have spent the last 37 years growing and learning and discovering the joys and challenges of marriage.

In his book Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas comments on the fact that couples who break up after just 3 or 4 years of marriage never even had the chance to experience what marriage is really like. Experts say that it takes nearly a decade for marriage intimacy to truly be built.

The marriage journey takes time....years....decades. We can't rush the learning process. Only through time can we truly experience the marriage relationship as God designed for it to be enjoyed.

I am looking forward to what the next 30 years of marriage have in store for my husband and I. And I'm praising God today for my in-laws example of faithfulness, commitment and perseverance.

Monday, July 21

"Be A Good Mom...But Be A Great Wife!"

I've been a wife for almost 37 years! On Wednesday, my husband and I will celebrate our 37th anniversary! Have I been a great wife? Ummm, sometime 'yes' and sometimes 'no', but after that many years of marriage and 3 grown kids, I can say that there is alot of truth in that statement..."Be a good mom, but be a great wife".

Part of being a great wife means that I take responsibility. When I walk along side my husband, supporting him, encouraging him, helping him and sharing my views on a situation, I am moving forward in our marriage as a team player. A successful team, needs team players.

The times I feel like a great wife, are also the times I have felt I have had a great influence on my husband. That influence has been powerful in helping my husband become the man he was meant to be and has been reason enough to continue to want to be a great wife.

The times I thought I was a great wife, I almost always found myself pleased with my mothering as well. The opposite didn't always hold true!

Being a great wife means I have to intentionally move in that direction. It hasn't always been the easy choice, but it has always paid big dividends when I chose to be a great wife.

On July 23th, I will celebrate another year as my husband's wife, friend, confidant and mother of his children. After 37 years, I am still striving to be a great wife and a good mother.
I guess that makes the statement, 'a woman's work is never done', a true statement as well!

Friday, July 18

Home Improvement

Today I'll leave you with the questions that we started with this week. Please take the time to deliberately ask yourself these questions. When you do, think about your family (parents, in-laws, siblings, spouse, children), your friends, your co-workers, your social circle and relationships or friendships from your past.

"Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful? Am I proud? Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?"

"Is there someone who, when I think of them, I feel hurt and wish revenge? Is there someone who, every time I see the person or think of the person, a sharp page of resentment flares up as I perceive how they have done me wrong?"

It takes courage to answer these questions honestly. It takes perseverance and strength to daily deal with the issues of the it envy, greed, impatience, anger, bitterness, self-righteousness, a critical spirit or pride.

Just last night I found myself in a situation that was painful for me - the situation was a result of life circumstances, nothing more. No one wronged me, but I still had to acknowledge the hurt, realize it was turning into anger and judgment, and confess it. Oh, it's so not easy, but neither is the alternative.

I realized this morning that the lessons I'm learning can be applied to so many areas of my life. This is not something I will learn and apply and leave behind. These heart issues will need to be addressed continually and I will have to make the choice daily how I deal with them.

May each of you find healing as you address the issues in your heart and may you find that walking in freedom is the best gift of all.

Thank you for letting me share my heart this week. Thank you for allowing me to be authentic and honest with my struggles. Thank you for listening to me and loving me in spite of myself.

Be blessed my friends!

Thursday, July 17

To be...or not to be?

This week we’ve talked about recognizing a bitter root, finding freedom from living in bondage, confessing it, and choosing forgiveness. Much of what I’ve been writing about this week is based off Ephesians 4:31 which tells me to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

So in studying this passage, I asked myself, “If I am getting rid of those emotions, what am I replacing them with?”

Verse 32 says to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I decided to make a list of everything I could find in Ephesians that told me ‘how to be.’

This is the list I came up with:

an imitator of the Lord
filled with the Spirit
completely humble and gentle
made new in the attitude of my mind
careful how I live, not as unwise, but as wise
strong in the Lord and in His mighty power

As we work to rid ourselves of bitterness and resentment, we can replace those unhealthy emotions with things like compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience. We can choose to be an imitator of the Lord. We can pray to be filled with the Spirit. We can strive to live carefully and wisely.

It won’t happen overnight. But friends, if we persistently and faithfully seek the Lord, and desire to be all He is calling us to be, I strongly believe that we WILL be made new in the attitude of our mind.

Note: I covet your prayers as I continue to deal with the issues in my heart. I am so thankful we have a God of mercy and grace to meet us in our time of need. If you are struggling with a heart of resentment or bitterness, or God has revealed an area of unforgiveness in your life, please let me know. I would love to pray for you. I know God desires to bring healing to your heart.

Wednesday, July 16

Choose wisely

I heard this statistic recently: 70% of people are angry about something. As we’ve discussed this week….bitterness is the unharvested fruit of anger.

In Andy Stanley’s book "It Came From Within," Andy says that the antidote to anger is forgiveness. “Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s a decision. Forgiveness is a way of life for the man or woman committed to keeping their hearts free of anger and bitterness. Forgiveness is the means by which we are to do away with our bitterness, rage and anger.”

Forgiveness is a tough topic.

Forgiveness requires action on our part.

Forgiveness cannot take place unless we have a genuinely repentant heart.

I so desire to immediately be rid of bitterness, anger and resentment in my heart. I want to wipe my hands and be on my way. But in my desire to deal with these emotions, I need to reconsider my motives and determine if I truly have a heart of repentance.

Wikipedia says that resentment will often manifest itself through the lack of forgiving, the unwillingness to let go and forget.

I talked with a wise older friend today and she encouraged me to look beyond the symptoms that are appearing in my life and get to the root of my bitterness….there could be issues from my childhood or my past that are causing me to respond with an attitude of bitterness and resentment. What am I unwilling to let go of and forget from my past? What hurt and pain am I clinging to?

The more time I spend reading, writing and learning about bitterness, the more I want to run in the opposite direction.

But as a woman striving to live wisely, I have no choice. Tom Drout says, “We cannot live with bitterness because it will first manifest itself in our spirit, then in our emotions, and finally in our bodies.”

If I want to build my home, build my family, build my relationships, I must deal with the issues of the heart. I must ask God to show me where I have unforgiveness lurking in dark corners. If I do not choose to forgive, I will walk in bitterness and that bitterness will affect my spouse, my family members and my relationships with those I care about.

Lets determine to be among the 30% of people who have chosen to replace their anger with forgiveness. Lets walk in the peace and freedom that comes from choosing forgiveness. It’s not a feeling. It’s a choice.

Lets choose wisely today.

Tuesday, July 15

The bondage of bitterness

Yesterday I shared a little of my own journey in discovering and dealing with the bitterness that has taken residence in my heart.

How can you tell if you harbor bitterness? Here's a simple test you can take. Ask yourself these questions: "Is there someone who, when I think of them, I feel hurt and wish revenge? Is there someone who, every time I see the person or think of the person, a sharp page of resentment flares up as I perceive how they have done me wrong?"

Now don't just keep reading. Stop and really ponder this question. Ask yourself if there is anyone in your life (or past) who still brings hurt to your heart.

If you are like me, and you take some time to really dig deep, you just may find there is a bit of bitterness lodged in your heart with regard to that person(s). You may also discover that you've been pretty good at covering it up. I've learned that bitterness lies just beneath the surface....just like roots. You can't see them, but they are there. And man can they be powerful!

Ephesians 4 has been a guide for me during this process of discovering and dealing with bitterness. Verse 31 says to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander.

Do you see the command there? Get rid of.....

To get rid of we need to dig out the bitter root. We need to recognize if we have bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander. We need to confess it.

After weeks of reading about bitterness and resentment and praying about it and talking about it, I finally got down to the business of confessing it. There is freedom in saying out loud, "Lord, I confess I have bitterness toward _____ for _____."

I know that people live in bondage to a lot of things: alcoholism, drugs, pornography, greed, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. But it didn't dawn on me that I was living in bondage too.

Remember that bitterness toward another person affects you more than them. While you might view your anger as justified and your hurt and resentment as your way of hurting the one who hurt you, bitterness will ultimately harden your heart and affect your relationships.

When I read that I could be free of the bondage of bitterness I almost cried for joy. Dear friends, lets claim the beautiful truth that Christ has come to set us free....lets walk in freedom together.

Monday, July 14

A root revelation

If you're reading this and don't know me personally, my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about three years. We've been diagnosed with unexplained infertility and although we had a miscarriage two years ago, we haven't been able to get pregnant since. If you're interested, you can read more about this from a series of postings I wrote last year. Scroll down to July 9 and read July 9-13.

Recently a friend asked how I was doing in this area of my life and I shared with her that while I am fine with being around babies (for the most part) it is very difficult for me when friends and family are pregnant. I told her "I just really have a problem with pregnant women."

She looked at me with kind, loving eyes and asked, as a good friend should, "Do you think there is something you should do about that?"

My first reaction was to stubbornly say, "No!" I didn't want to deal with whatever hurt or pain was in my heart that causes me to struggle with being around pregnant women.

But her question started me on a journey that I never expected to go down.

During the last few weeks, as I have I pondered her question, I have come to realize that I have allowed the pain, hurt and anger of three years of infertility to harden parts of my heart.

God has brought to light the people in my life that I am resentful toward - for achieving pregnancies easily, for not being sensitive to my struggle or for never acknowledging what I am going through. I realized I was also angry at God for allowing every person in my life (or so it seemed) to get pregnant - except for me.

This realization hit me with full force when I read the following question one morning during my devotional time: "Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful? Am I proud? Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?"

While all those questions are important, did you read the last one? "If so, what am I doing about it?"

Well for three years I haven't done a thing about it. I have just clung to my hurt, pain, longing, and anger. I felt justified in holding on to these feelings and they became a crutch that I clung to in tough moments and on hard days.

My crutch came tumbling down when I read this: Bitterness will end up affecting you more than anyone else.

I doubt any of the people I hold resentment and bitterness toward have any idea that I feel this way. I am very good at covering it up. While in my mind I might have been thinking "I'll show them," I have discovered that it hasn't really affected anyone but me.

Did you know that bitterness is the unharvested fruit of anger?

My bitterness toward other people and toward God was really displaced anger. Hebrews 12:15 says, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

Friends, I have allowed a bitter root to grow in my heart. I identify with the author who wrote, "I hadn't intended to let bitterness grow within my heart, but I hadn't actively prevented it either."

It was painful when I discovered that bitter root. It's deep and I don't want to let it go. But I also don't want to live a life of bitterness.

This week I'll be sharing the things I'm learning about recognizing resentment and bitterness in my heart, and how to begin dealing with it.

Today I'm wondering: is there any part of your heart that feels bitterness toward another? Someone who has wronged you? Someone who has hurt you either intentionally or unintentionally? A parent, spouse (or ex-spouse), a sibling or other family member, someone from a past relationship, a co-worker or boss, a neighbor, a friend, a trusted leader or role model in your life?

Let me ask you this question:
Is there ANYONE whom you fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what are you doing about it?"

Friday, July 11

Home Improvement...

A few years ago, a young mom asked me if I had a list of books I could recommend to her. She knew I was a big proponent of reading and wanted me to pass along what I had read. It was then that I realized that I couldn't recall what I had read off the top of my head! Oh, there were a few books that came to my mind, but I had to dig deep to come up with a many worthy titles. I was frustrated and embarrassed that I could be so dogmatic about something and yet so clueless when it came to the specifics.

Can I spare you this scenario in your life and encourage you to spend this Home Improvement weekend setting up a system to record what you read?

Write down what you read every month. Add to this list throughout the year and at the end of the year you will have a neat inventory of what you have put in your mind. Perhaps it will shed light on how your year went as well, because what you read is what fed your mind.

If you already do catalog what you read, maybe you are ready for a more complete summary of your books. Make a short book report after reading every book.


Name and Author of Book:
Month/Year read:
Number of Pages:
Where I heard about the book:
Did it meet my expectations:
Would I recommend this book to other women:
What are key points I would like to remember: (copy quotes, key thought, or page numbers you can refer back to)

Do this for every book you read, whether it is a no-brainer or a philosophical will reveal to you what you are spending your time on as well as what you are learning.

Sounds like added effort, I know, but when a younger woman asks you someday what you have spent your life can hand her an overstuffed notebook, filled with book reviews that will not only be beneficial to her, but will have made you into the woman you have become!

Thursday, July 10

Are you desperate?

Are you desperate for help in running your home?

I recently read Desperate Households: How to Restore Order and Harmony to Your Life and Home

The author, Kathy Peel, is known as America's Family Manager. What I love most about this book is that Kathy had to learn all the principles herself. She was not naturally a morning person, she ran late, her house was disorganized and messy, and she doesn't cook. It is so refreshing to read about someone who had the same struggles I do and know that with focused time and effort, I have great potential.

Kathy divides home managing into these seven categories:

  • Home & Property--overseeing the maintenance and care of all tangible assets, including belongings, house and its surroundings, and your vehicles
  • Food--meeting the family's daily food and nutritional needs of your family
  • Family & Friends--dealing with relational responsibilities as a parent and spouse, and with extended family, friends, and neighbors
  • Finances--managing the budget, bill-paying, saving, investing, and charitable giving
  • Special Events--planning and coordinating occasions--birthdays, holidays, vacations, garage sales, family reunions, and celebrations--that fall outside one's normal routine
  • Time & Scheduling--managing the family calendar and daily schedule; dispatching the right people to the right place at the right time with the right equipment
  • Self-Management--caring for one's body, nurturing the mind and spirit
I felt no condemnation or guilt reading these pages. Instead I felt a desire to soak in all I could to begin making the necessary changes in my home to replace chaos with calm. It's definitely a work in progress and will always be a challenge for me!

It was encouraging to read that although I desire to have a Type A personality, I think God has given me a Type B personality - and that includes how I manage and run my home. I need to recognize that and learn to manage my home in a way that fits my style.

If you find yourself desperate from time to time, (or most of the time!), you may want to check this book out.

Wednesday, July 9

Disappointment With God...

The title of this book caught my attention! I was in a used book store and came upon an old copy of Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey. I love his style of writing and the hard topics he chooses to write about, so I bought the book for pennies and have it practically all underlined!

Is God Unfair?

Is God Silent?

Is God Hidden?

...all I can say is you have to read the book to find out how Yancey uses the Bible to answer these questions!

His excellent style of writing allows the reader to get caught up in his thought processes with interest and personal application. Here's a line I have marked in red, " In the beginning, the very beginning, there was no disappointment. Only joy."

I found myself reading small portions at a time because I wanted to see how it fit into my relationship with the Lord. Was I disappointed with God? Could I be? Could I work through some tough questions I had 'stuffed' to this point in my life?

This isn't a 'beach book', but it is one that will sharpen your faith, I think.

I loved reading my challenge is to remember it!

Tuesday, July 8

The Glass Castle

A book I recommend for summer reading is The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. It would be a wonderful book to read on lazy summer afternoons or at the lake or as the sun sets at night.

The story is about Jeannette's childhood - a very unique and adventursome childhood. The Walls children grew up in poverty and traveled from city to city because neither parent could hold own a job. They learned how to survive in spite of the choices their parents made that were often not in their best interest.

It's a page-turning book that will draw out many emotions and make you question many decisions. As a reader I was encouraged to overcome obstacles in my own life and face challenges head on.

Although her childhood was incredibly dysfuntional, the author rose against all odds. It truly is a tale of survival and one that you will not soon forget.

I highly recommend it and would love to hear if you read it or have already read it!

Please share a summer book that you are reading....

Monday, July 7

The Heat Is On...So What Are You Reading?

I've heard it said that a healthy life is like a table with 4 legs. A table needs the 4 legs in order to balance correctly...and a healthy woman needs to attend to 4 areas in her life to stay balanced...her physical needs, her spiritual needs, her emotional needs and her mental needs.

I usually am more aware of my physical health in the summer as I try to exercise more and eat lighter. My emotional and spiritual needs are a daily exercise of discipline and focus...but my mental needs tend to slip abit in the summer as I am quick to head out and do something outdoors rather than hunker down and learn something.

So I make reading a top priority during the summer to keep my mental state in good repair!

I just finished reading The Great Starvation Experiment by Todd Tucker. It is a true story about men who volunteered for an experiment to see what the affects of starvation has on a body. All the men were Conscientious Objectors during World War II. Dr. Ancel Keys headed up this experiment for the government to find out how to rebuild countries that had suffered so much through starvation during the war. It is a fascinating book and a fairly easy read.

What did I take away from it? What a remarkable body I have! What extreme conditions a body can live through...and recover. The volunteers were at their optimum weight going into the experiment and all of them lost about 25% of this weight during the experiment. Yet they survived and went on to become very driven and successful men in the years that followed.

This book was recommended to me by my son who is getting his Master's in nutrition. I hesitated abit when he first suggested it...but it proved to be a very informational and intriguing book to read.

What books are you reading? Are you keeping your life in balance by stretching your mental capacities this summer? Share your list with us....and read a book that you normally wouldn't reach for and feed your mind.

Friday, July 4

Happy Independence Day!

Here's to all the men and women who sacrificially serve so we can enjoy the incredible freedom of living in America. Thank you and God bless each and every one of you.

Wednesday, July 2

Kilo 9

The following pictures are from a small 'village' we called Kilo 9 in the Dominican. About 40-50 people live there, and we helped to rebuild a few of their homes. The homes on the left and right have four different doors (like town homes) so multiple families live in each building, but have their own home.

What I want you to take note of is the area in the middle of the homes. See the ground? The rocks? The dirt? That's where the kids play. They have no grass. No playground. No slide or swing. No back yard. No basketball court.

This last picture is a very sweet memory for me. The last afternoon two girls from my team and I took a dozen kids from Kilo 9 and brought them to the compound/church where we stay. We had a huge grass field to play in, we swang, played basketball and soccer and kickball, colored and did other crafts, had snacks and enjoyed suckers.

It was a precious time to be able to love these kid and bless them with a fun afternoon. It was fun to see them go crazy over bubbles and swings and cold water and lollipops. It was a reminder that we are so blessed in the U.S.

With the 4th just days away, take time to plan activities for yourself or your family that enable you to enjoy all that you've been blessed with. Go to the park, play in the sprinkler, relax at a lake, sit by the campfire.... just remember to be thankful for the little things and say a prayer for the people of Kilo 9.

Tuesday, July 1

Meet Malaney

Here is a picture of me and my sweet friend Malaney (Ma-lay-nee). She lives in a small village called Guayabal in the Dominican Republic.

I love this picture because we each have a headband that matches our shirt :)

Malaney lives a life of poverty. Her home consists of two rooms for her entire family. Her clothes are dirty. Her skirt is torn. Her feet have no shoes.

But look at that precious smile.

She is a beautiful girl. Her smile and her eyes light up her entire face. She was always quick to hold my hand, offer a hug and laugh out loud.

Back home, my clothes are clean. My wardrobe is not ripped. I have more shoes than I can possibly even wear.

Today I am asking myself, do my eyes light up? Do I have a ready smile for those around me? Do I reach for the hand of the loved ones in my life? Do I have hugs to offer those I come in contact with? Is laughter a consistent part of my daily life - even when life is tough?

It was easy to look past Malaney's worn clothes and dirty body while in the Dominican. But why don't I do that at home? Why do I turn away from the homeless and those begging for money? Why do I not offer my hand more readily to the sick? Why is it difficult to relate to those without much money, living in squalor and poverty here? Why do I judge people based off their appearance - if their clothes are old, dirty and worn? Why do I think any individual is less lovable than another?

These are the questions plaguing my mind today.

In the midst of it all, I am praising and thanking God for the life lessons learned from a
beautiful, sweet young girl in the Dominican.

Dios te bendiga my amiga Malaney.

God bless you my friend Malaney.