Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dear Me {part 2}

Dear me,

You made it to junior high! Right now you are thinking how close you are to being a teen and saying goodbye to childhood.  You have a new freedom that comes with being 12, courtesy of course to - an awesome huffy bike! There will be tons of adventures to be had with this bike. 




I want you to know that red hair is not a curse. In fact a few years from now, you are going to love it- I promise.

This year you will discover a secret beach on the lake. This will be your place to go when you’re sad and when you just want to escape. It’s okay to take time for yourself and create a beautiful place full of hopes and dreams.  One day you will see the importance of taking a personal time out in your own spot.

This next part may be hard to hear but you need to know it. Every night you stare in front of the mirror praying to become that pretty popular girl. I see your tears and you’re hurt. Your trying so very hard to become “pretty”. But honey, it’s just not happening for you.  I'm sorry to say, you won’t ever be the popular girl or the pretty girl in class who gets picked for dances and sports. It will not happen.  But….

It’s okay because your YOU! God created you special and unique and has a breathtaking plan for you, just keep holding on. Soon you will find some girls that are awkward too. The three of you will create your own group and have way more fun than anyone else! These types of girls are real friends. Treasure them, even if you only have a short time together.

These real friends of yours are going to blast out some SWV and TLC {but remember- your still a white girl!} Your very first concert will be this year. That’s some pretty cool stuff, have a blast and while you’re at it- go take some singing lessons too!

 Don’t get caught up in boyfriends too fast.  Enjoy your time just pretending to be a rock star or a famous actress and playing doctor with all of your moms x-rays. Oh-and I see you in the bonus room. Stop dancing like that, those moves are NOT okay Missy!

ALWAYS keep a key to the house so you don’t have to spend two hours in the garage waiting to pee while your parents are still at work!

In case you didn’t get it earlier. The imagination you have is priceless.  You can still pretend and play- you don’t have to rush into makeup and boys. Enjoy being 12.

Save Mom and Dad money. Your glasses go on the nightstand, not on your pillow! 


Whatever you do- don’t fall for setting friends up to see if they have your back….don’t do it! It will end in tears and losing those real friends.

YOU ARE NOT FAT! Find an adult you can talk to about this. Don’t try to control your diet and your food. This is going to lead somewhere you will wish you didn’t go.

Let’s talk fashion a minute. A rose and thorn temporary tattoo is really cool for now but FYI- stop wearing them soon and by soon I mean before you turn 13. And the pantyhose under socks- you don’t tan-stop trying to fake a tan.


You will have your first “boyfriend” this year. It will last all of two weeks and you will be devastated (see earlier advice on setting people up). Learn from this and don’t invest too much time into boys. Instead keep dreaming and learning.


Prepare, the next few years are going to be really hard for you. There will be days of sadness and loneliness. Days where you will question why you exist. But I promise you one day it WILL get better. You are going to make an awesome adult! 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sabotage

"Big Days are a reminder of what should have been but wasn’t, 
all that was lost, all that will never be..."
   - Jen Hatmaker 

This sums up what events are like in our house these days. We have come so far but the past will never fade away. Grief and pain and loss go so much deeper into the heart and influence days like Christmas.

I love the newest blog post by Jen Hatmaker: parenting-kiddos-who-sabotage-big-days where she explains the struggle with kids from hard places. Shexplains what wounded hearts look like and why they act the way they do. It is a must read not just for adoptive families but kiddos who have also dealt with divorce or loss. Seriously-read it- you may find out you as an adult are also a sabotager!

I am a self proclaimed traditionalist {seriously-just call me Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof}. I LOVE family traditions. Poor Gene when we were married- I told him straight up- we are going to celebrate holidays my way. You can throw a few things in {like football or stuffing} but all of my traditions are staying. Maybe its because we moved so much as a kid and it was just my parents? Maybe I am really a descendant of the real Santa Clause? Maybe I'm just a control freak who hates change- point is I'm a Traditionalist when it comes to holidays.







So last year I too tried to make Christmas the best possible thing imaginable last year.
                                                  
                                                     It started terribly. 

Christmas eve night he refused to write to Santa (because he hates to write/read around his older siblings who aren't ESL learners). He couldn't understand why he could not eat Santa's cookies and then when we opened our Christmas eve present- you would have thought we killed our dog and wrapped it up for him under the tree. He was mortified! This led to a 30 minute wailing and gnashing of teeth. He hated Christmas and Santa and Jesus. As a self proclaimed traditionalist {seriously-just call me Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof} I could not grasp why. We had talked and role played and went all K Perv! But we didn't really... I expected way to much from my sweet little boy.

 After cuddling and connecting {aka wrestling and tickles} we scooted under the tree and named every single present. We told him what was inside each one. For him, it was all about the unknown. He can't do surprises- its just to scary to hope, to scary to trust.

 We added the explanation of gifts again in the am, a change in tradition and I lowered my own  expectations of the day. Santa didn't get his letter and that was okay. We ate some of his cookies and had popcorn as an alternate. It was okay if we let him eat only rolls and mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner, he was not going to be forever damaged from one day of no veggies. We let him change out of his pj's when he wanted and even did a non-Christmas movie. {I know- that was a hard one!}

We ended well. 

                                          

This year- we have already had the No ipod/No tablet/no phone discussion every day as a reminder. And by every day I mean EVERY STINKING MORNING. And you can bet ya, this year we will make cookies and EAT them first. We broke down and had "The Santa Talk".  And yes- this year on Christmas eve we will be lying down under the tree- whispering what each present is to our little guy. He has to know and that's okay.











Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day


Today is World AIDS Day. 
                  (#worldaidsday)

I remember the big push in the late 80's to get tested and the scary adds of people with HIV/AIDS but that was really all I knew. Until 1996 when I fell in love with the musical RENT. This musical was fictitious but it represented many people who really were fighting for their lives. I had every note memorized and can still sing many of the lyrics to this beautiful piece. 
        
                                  
                                         (rent: Wikipedia) 

Flash forward to 2011 when I read the book "there is no me without you". This book walked through the HIV/AIDS epidemic and then focused in on the devastation this virus left in Ethiopia and other developing countries. 

This is one of the reasons Gene and I partner with AHOPE. http://www.ahopeforchildren.org. In the beginning HIV was a death sentence, families were ripped apart and children were left with out families. But then modern medicine caught up and now it is considered a "manageable disease" similar to diabetes. Many children that were once orphaned from HIV/AIDS are living healthy lives and their families are learning how to care for them. These children that were once thought to only live a short time have the same life expectancy as any one else! 

All because there are these amazing things called ARV's that help the body keep the virus in a hibernation like state. Their immune systems stay strong and keep the virus locked up. As long as medication is managed and regular medical care is checked the positive person is considered "undetectable". 

So with all these amazing changes, you know the one thing that hasn't changed? 

                                                               STIGMA
                                                            KNOWLEDGE 
                                                               SUPPORT 

Discrimination is still rampant. Lack of knowledge is still there. You can not get HIV from kissing, or sharing cups or toilet seats. The virus is fragile and it can only live outside the body for a very short time. 

There are three ways you can contract the virus. 

1. Birth/Breast feeding (positive mother to child) 
2. Sex 
3. IV drug use/blood transfusion

News flash- your not going to contract it unless you are: 

1.THE baby just born or THE breast feeding baby (I'm gonna guess your not)
2. You are having unprotected sex without you and your partner getting tested 
   (now that is just stupid and you will most likely end up with nasty som'in down  
    there and the added walk of shame in the am) 
 3. You are sharing random IV drug needles with random people injecting 
     yourself with illegal drugs (in which case you also need rehab) or have had a 
     botched blood transfusion (which is why there is all that blood testing when you 
     give blood). 

                                    
                                 

Note- I still would recommend using universal precautions whenever handling body fluids. This is just plain good practice and smart to protect yourself from a whole host of blood born yuckies! 

So what's the deal....why does it still exist? Because people are scared of getting tested. In other countries, because medical treatment is not readily available and the stigma is so great. Like the women we partner with at Noonday, once their status is known they are kicked out of their homes and ostracized. All because of stigma and access. Some individuals can access medication but most people in developing countries people don't know that HIV is treatable, they don't know how to access it, and they don't know how it helps. 


It is not okay with me that a person dies of a treatable disease simply because of lack of knowledge and a stigma. 

                                   Let's break down this barrier together! 

Want to learn more: 

AHOPE: http://www.ahopeforchildren.org 

Worlds Aids Day: http://www.worldaidsday.org

CDC http://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids

Local: http://www.apo-ozarks.org 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor-simply sharing what I have learned from educated resources :) 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Surrendering- an update







I told you back in the first part of October about my struggle with muscle spams/seizures and acknowledging that I have pushed too hard for too long. If you missed it you can read my blog pot here :SURRENDER

Well, here I am now in the end of November still learning more about resting in HIM. I wish I could say that I am “better” but I'm not. I have seen a few specialists and still receive treatment but my seizures are strong and are still occurring several times a week.  Church, work and large groups seem to make it worse. I try to explain it to people to think of my brain like a computer. When you open too many windows at once your computer gets overloaded and it crashes. When I have too many things going on {sounds,thoughts, things to be done} I crash and my crash is a seizure.


Some days I get down and I feel hopeless. I worry if this will ever go away or will I always have this. My life has changed pretty rapidly and I don't do or go to the same things I did before. I'm scared to go out and I'm afraid of having one in public. It is so embarrassing when it happens. For those of you who have happened to watch one, they are not pretty and ugh I am one sore girl! Most days though I try to remain optimistic. I know that whatever happens God has this. I am going to be okay. In the future I may have to make some life changes or I may not. Regardless, I am going to choose to trust HIM. After all, I could let doubt and fear rule my life but ain’t nobody got time foh dat!

Funny thing here. ..The one place I have not had a seizure is at a Noonday Show.  I really think that is because it is so passionate to me and the Lord allows me to use that as a way of sharing my love of fair trade and empowerment to others. I can’t do much but he is allowing me this one thing.


The more I learn about this struggle and my non-epileptic seizures the more I am astonished at the human brain and its capacity to re-generate. Like did you know that your brain creates a new pathway each time it forms a memory or that it has 100 billion nerve cells. How miraculous is it that God was able to knit together all these tiny synapses and neurotransmitters to send all the million messages back and forth all at once! Wow- that is like cray cray. 

We may not know what is going on inside my brain that causes it to “shut down” but I am going to choose to continue to be in awe of it all. 



         Until next time, 

                     Amanda 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dear me...


I'm starting a blog series with what I wish I would have known. I think to much we look towards the future and forget the past. So here is the first one, written to the elementary age me.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Surrender



I'm laying it out there. Putting it all on the table. A no hold bars moment. 

                               
                                  (This is my 24+ hours of solo flying across the globe 
                                        but also my keepin' it real face) 
                                 

Many years I have wrestled with God for control. There is this deep instinct, this naturalistic desire within me to be in charge. I want control. I want to make the decisions and make my life fit into a nice little box where everything is in the right place. I want to make the rules and be the leader. Life should be what I want it to be, right? I work hard, I deserve it. 



The past few weeks have been brutal and eye opening at the same time. I spent several days in the hospital for muscle spasms/seizures and anxiety. My brain had basically had enough and when it gets overloaded or full it decided to shut off. It does this by sending messages to my body that cause convulsions/tremors aka seizures. No,  I don't have a tumor or epilepsy but if I did it would not change who I still am. What I DO have is a brain that wants control and is so very tired of trying to make everything "work". 

Why am I putting this all out there? Because I didn't choose this and I certainly don't choose to have these seizures or anxiety. As a culture, we don't talk about our imperfections. We can talk about our diabetes or our cancer but we don't talk about our mental health. I'm not crazy or having a mental break down...my brain has created a pathway to function after constant months of continued over exertion and it happens to be seizures. 

I have no idea how long this will last or if it will ever fully go away. Research says 20% of all seizures are this kind and with early diagnosis and therapy individuals have a good prognoses for overcoming. It's all about learning to manage. 

If you happen to run into me on one of my rare out of the house adventures and you ask me questions I will do my best but please understand it is difficult for me, but I appreciate your concern for me. It warms my heart to know that people care. 

So what am I doing? I am giving it up to God. I am tired of trying to make my life "happen". I love the quote from Jennie Allen in restless ..."for years I spent chasing uncatchable wind and built homes on sand until I finally notices, the wind never stops escaping us and the sand never stops shifting." After a life of chasing the wind I am going to stop running after it! 

                                                 
 

Instead of constant doing and going, I am learning what it means to rest. To really truly put my faith in him. I have taken baby steps and he has given me opportunities like in my marriage, blending a family, work and adoption. But now I have no choice. I am giving it to him. I'm not running anymore, I'm resting in HIM. 

Matthew 11:28-29 

           "come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest".



Monday, August 25, 2014

Fall Styling Tips and my first ever Noonday Collection GIVEAWAY!!!



Hi there cyber world! 


Today I am jumping on the blogger train as part of the Noonday Fall  Release. During a blog train, various ambassadors get to share their favorites from the new fall line and YOU have the chance to enter to earn free Noonday!


  Each day a blog {or two} are posted and each blog has a giveaway!  Check out Marijoy Horton's blog and Erin Stark's blog for the previous days post. 


  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Coming up !

If you haven't seen yet, Noonday Collection has launched their
                        NEW FALL 2014 COLLECTION!

www.amandacollins.noondaycollection.com 

I'll be talking about styling with the new line next week!
{Tuesday the 26th to be exact!} I will share my personal favorites, new arm parties, budget friendly options and a few looks for a variety of style tastes - so keep an eye out!

By the way - do you like FREE Accessories?
Well, if you do, stay tuned for my next blog post, because I'll be giving away
 a $50 Noonday Collection Gift Voucher!



Also, follow the Noonday blog train for even more stories, styling and giveaways! 
Here's a fellow ambassador from yesterday!


             -Amanda 



Friday, August 22, 2014

Growth in the hardest of times


 Sitting here yet again in another waiting room of the emergency room waiting for a surgeon. 

I am reminded of my time with Gene just a few years ago that really was the catalyst to our adoption. My husband went from a healthy, active man to a very sick just barely missed death kinda man in a matter of hours. I watched as he deteriorated before my eyes and would drift in and out of consciousness because his pain was so great. 10 days later I brought him home, being as careful with him as I did when our babies were newborns. 


God choose to use those days to show us how important family is and how precious life can be. It grew us closer and our family has not been the same since. We all had to lean on God and trust in his plan for our lives. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."  
            -Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV  

In times like these, where I feel myself scared and afraid and unsure, I am CHOOSING to lean on HIM. I am CHOOSING to trust in his plan. I am opening my heart to what God is teaching us through this. Not at a trial of faith or a justification of our belief. I think God allows things to happen in the world because he set it in motion and we have free will. However, I do believe that he uses those experience to grow us closer to him and allow us to trust him. My anxiety and fear struggle are real. It is HARD, and I mean HARD some days. That darkness peaking through my consciousness. 

But, i had a wise woman once tell me not to long ago ...God doesn't want you to suffer, what he wants is you to trust him. He wants to pull you into a relationship closer with him...

So here I am, drawing nearer to him. Trying my best to stay focused on HIM so I can be there for my husband rather than be consumed with fear. And this song keeps playing in my mind.

An expert from Dennis Jernigan's  It's gonna be alright.  

It's gonna be alright here
If you will let Me hold your heart near
I'll even use your sorrows
To teach You how to love Me
It's gonna be alright, child
I'll hold you really close and tight child
I'll even use Your woundings
To help you know more of Me

Hear Me. I am calling,
"Child, come falling deeper in love with Me."
Trust Me, you must let go
Or you will never know any deeper love in Me

          http://www.dennisjernigan.com

                                   
    



Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Reflection on the tragic death of Robin Williams

Actors, , musicians, scientists, congressmen, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters. All died too soon because of a thing called suicide. It leaves a void where a person use to be. A loss in another's world. And it happens all too often. 

Suicide is due to an underlying cause of depression, anxiety or other mental illness. As a counselor, I have worked with this for many years and seen first hand the struggles and the affect. This can be situational like a divorce or loss of a job, but it can also be a chemical imbalance in the brain. You don't choose it and you don't cause it, it simply is. 

This thing called Depression. It can consume you and take away all the things you love. Then adding Anxiety, that overwhelming feeling of loosing control and the world falling in on itself and the depression compounds. 

 I know because I too have struggled. Now, I am not going to share my inner most feelings and issues here because:
         1.that's something you do with whom you love and trust over a good cup of tea and tissues 
             NOT on a public blog 
          2.you are not a therapist 
          3.they are mine and we each have our own thing we are dealing with. 

But what I do want you to know is what it feels like. This is my own experience as well as those I have heard in my eight years of working in mental health....

Anxiety puts you in a place of panic. Things are spiraling out of control and you can't seem to think how to stop it. Life becomes overhwhelming and scary. You can't focus and you can't think and then you just want to explode. You feel like your not you anymore, but you can't figure out how to feel normal again. Every day you struggle to remain calm but things continue to build up. It builds and builds filling you, making your nerves tense,your heart rate speed, your hot and cold and you can't stop the panic feeling welling up inside. You feel so out of control. 

Depression feels like a deep sadness in the pit of your stomach. You fake it by smiling and laughing but you really don't want to smile or laugh. Each day is a new task of pretending your happy when you really feel like just crawling in a whole.  You begin to loose interest in the things you once loved to do. It's like someone turned out the lights on life and everythg feels dark and lonely. The motivation starts seeping out of you and before you know it, nothing seems interesting. This deep sadness grows in your stomach and begins to take hold. The world is now dark and and you feel all alone in this empty space. 

When you are in that place of darkness and dispair you just want out. The weight of the work is so heavy and sucks you down into this black pit of existence. Then you spiral deeper and deeper into this darkness and you feel as if it will never end. You don't want to even keep trying. Your done and you just want it to stop. 

This is where suicide indiation rears it's ugly head. You don't want to die, you just want it to end. Your tired of the pain of dispair and the lack of hope. You want it to stop and you want to be done. 

It's a myth that if you talk to someone that is contemplating suicide that will cause them to do it. In fact, talking about it can sometimes stop a person from attempting suicide. Most times the person contemplating suicide really just wants to stop hurting and doesn't see any other way. 

 If you or someone you know is struggling with these feelings. Help them get connected. A therapist, a physician, a pastor. Sometimes therapy can be an aide but other times is may be necessary for medication to aide in balancing the brain chemistry. The key is knowing you are not along and that there are people who love you and care about you. There is a life past this darkness. Group therapy can also be helpful in dealing with these thoughts and feelings. Take some self care steps. Start journaling the thoughts that don't seem to stop. Tell someone. Stop the stigma of mental health. No one chooses to have a mental illness and having one does not define who YOU are it is simply part of your health just like diabeties or cancer.  The suicide hotline at: tel:1-800-273-TALK is also another good resource. 

Reach out, be Jesus with skin on because you never know what someone maybe dealing with. 








Thursday, July 31, 2014

An Invitation


Join us
August 15th at 6pm at
 SIMPLICITY COFFEE SHOP
In Lebanon, Missouri
and hear the stories of
EMBRACING HOPE ETHIOPIA 


I introduced you to EHE just a little over a year ago when we were in Ethiopia and saw first hand the work they are doing. We want you to come and experience the work they are doing too. 
 I'm telling you, you MUST come and hear their stories, learn about these women and see what God is doing to restore their lives.  Trust me, you don want to miss it! 


Friday, July 25, 2014

The {well} call

Yesterday I had the honor of being featured on The Well Studio! This site is there to encourage and support women like you and me who want to live{well} while balancing work and pursuing God's plan for us. (check them out- you will be inspired plus the share these adorable work place Wednesdays- adorable I tell you!  I discovered The Well Studio  around the same time as the IF:Gathering and felt God pushing me.

Y'all know, seriously-I am not a writer. I have awful spelling (and by awful I mean terribly hideous) and horrible grammar ( I blame the grammar on 3 years in England during the prime years of elementary but now that I'm in my 30's and have a masters degree I am told I cant use that excuse any more). If you have noticed, I also tend to write run on sentences and use these things { } or ( ) way to much!

But, the more I read the Well blogs the more I felt "the nudge". Until finally in April I wrote from my heart and submitted it with some crazy please accept this written piece and know I am no professional. (Note- my amazing best friend Ashlee who happens to have a degree in English did me the honor of editing for spelling and function. However, I didn't hear back so I thought- Okay, not my thing, maybe the nudge was wrong.

Then last week, I got this awesome e-mail....

love love love this post! thanks for your patience in us getting back with you!!!!! we are going to get this scheduled within the next week
WHAT????????   I could not believe it....Me- the horrible speller and whacked out grammar typer... Published!!! I realize this is not like a novel or a series, however here is the deal. I was inspired, felt "the nudge" went for it and BAM... out of no where validation and confirmation! God is indeed teaching me and growing me bigger then I ever though imaginable. Now, this growth is hard, hard stuff and causes lots of anxiety for me but oh so good too. Love how God has my life in his hands!
 {Can someone please tattoo that on my forehead and my heart so I will remember
 my life is in HIS hands?-thank you}

I was super excited to share it with you. Hope you check it out and for those entrepreneurs and business peeps out there, may this encourage you to grow too!

5 ways to work a full-time job and grow a side business {well}


 By
full-time-and-side-biz



Monday, July 14, 2014

5 things that make me beautiful

Disclaimer:this is not to offend or condem, simply my own self examination of beauty. 

I saw this trending line on facebook and it stumped me. Post 5 pictures that make you feel beautiful. Facebook became plastered with women posting selfies and glammed out pictures. They tagged their girlfriends asking them to continue on the thread of posting "pictures that make you feel beautiful".

That is until one of my sweet friend really put some thought into the question. She choose not to focus on her beautiful pictures but instead the things in life that make her beautiful.

                              [While at first I avoided this knowing isn't my beauty 
                               I decided to share what I feel is.  I challenge any lady 
                               that would like to show off their beauty]
                                              -keeping her anonymous in case she wants to remain so. 

You know what she shared? 

     God's opinion
      Her church
      Her family
      Time with her daughter
      Sleep

This made me question, what does make us "beautiful" and what is "beauty". How often do we see beauty as this outward appearance- how the world sees us and defines us, rather than who we are? 


I really appreciated her take on this thread and the thought she gave to it. I think we so often times loose sight of what really makes us beautiful and instead get in our heads that our worth is created by our "beauty" and our "beauty" created by our looks. That this outward appearance defines how beautiful we are and thus how valuable we are. 

Because last time I checked I didn't pick out this face. I didn't choose to be born a red head or choose to have freckles, nor can I change having freckles. It has no determining factor on who I am or how I act other than the simple fact of melanin gathered in my skin. Why should my "beauty" be determined by something I didn't determine? 

   
                            
                                    

You know, yesterday I had an amazing evening getting to honor and pray over a sweet 13 year old girl. During this time of sharing with this new woman, the theme of beauty kept flowing in and out of our conversations. The verse was shared that really hit home with me and I hope it will hit home with you too. 

1 Peter 3:3-4

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.


Then I went searching with my hand dandy glossary and found this too-


1 Samuel 16:7 

....For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but The Lord looks on the heart.

       

2 Corinthians 4;16 


So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.


I am one of the worst at worrying about how I look and certainly a personal offender of using more than one filter combined before I post a selfie or two. I'm not saying having pride or self respect is bad. Just thinking that maybe our looks don't really define who we are and what we can do which is our REAL BEAUTY! 




After all, at my funeral they are not going to talk about how pretty I was or stunningly georgeous, instead I hope they will talk about the impact I made and how I made people feel. 


So...What makes me beautiful???


         I am who God says I am. My family makes me a beautiful person.  The impact I may have on others. The the way I make others feel. My ability to laugh constantly {which may often time lead to snorting} 

                    


Until next time, 
   
          -Amanda 








  


        













Late night meanderings

Some things on my mind (in no particular order)
   WARING -This is what you get when I am all wound up on coffee and my ADHD is running rampant at 11:40pm.


We are already a week into July and I have very few weeks of summer left! Aahhhh.....How am I "intentionally" spending my days?


I started running again today and I feel great. For motivation, I drive where I just run to see how far I go. Something about that inspires me. What inspires you?


I love reading the #styleforjustice updates on the Noonday Rwanda blogger trip and pretending I am right there with them. Amazed at how little I really knew about the genocide that occurred. See how much you can learn too.


Because I ran, I am now hungry.


Still struggling for God's whole plan for my life. Don't you wish he could give us like little previews for where he has you going?


Remembering not to focus on my "whole life" and trying to just live in the moment and rest.


Yes, I should rest (after all I did run today) and eat.


I have only bought Starbucks once since my last blog post....When I think of starbucks I now associate it with kids, hungry and lonely. How is it I so easily forget? (And yes- for those of you thinking- my coffee money has been redistributed to a better cause).


With our garden, I have enough squash and zucchini to feed an army- so we are sending it to the army of missionaries. New tribes- I hope you like your veggies!


Embracing Hope Ethiopia will be here in a month, cant wait to share their story with you!


I really have some cute kids, just saying,


Chickens (IE- my free range chickens) are dumb. We are now down to 4, apparently they love our car tires.


Three of our four children have been in the ER multiple times this past 4 weeks and two of the four had surgery but yet not one has had a viral bug-crazy! Another tidbit, I have been to or consulted with doctors at least three times each week this summer and we don't even have dental appointment's yet.


Hmmm...how well did my kids brush their teeth?


Okay, It is now midnight, I must go to bed.


Night,


   -Amanda











Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waste



For this week I already was at an advantage. We have been raising 4 chickens free range style since they were little baby chicks and we now get about 4 eggs a day and have added three more chickens to our flock. So the hubs and I decided to plant a garden this year. After a weekend of us {okay G} tilling and pulling weeds we had a garden all set up. I was so excited as we picked out organic seeds and planted them in the earth {I did not listen to my husband who says organic is just a word liberals made up to charge more}.....

Every few days we tend to our garden. Check it out! 


I felt like the previous work was kind of a cheet so I dug a little deeper into this whole "waste reform" and tried to fast harder from waste. I worked hard to buy concentrated products and add wart like soap and cleaners. I already make my own laundry detergent but we did do a huge recycling run and burned a large set of boxes. I did try to recycle cans one night when we had over 50 people at our house but it soon became overwhelming and I gave up. What does that say about me? I care about the world and the environment, but only when it's convenient to me? I think that point it the basis of in his study. 

Jen Hatmaker had us read from Job and Isaiah. I loved reading about our Creator in Job 38:1-15. I think this week started to hit home for me when in Isaiah we read about desolation and waste from plundering. I realized I may not be responsible for changing the world but I am responsible for my actions and my decisions. To be a STEWARD instead of a CONSUMER! I am going to continue to try my best to recycle out old packaging, continue donating our clothes, keep working on our garden and creating our own food and visiting the farmers market for more local foods. (Which we did however we also brought back cookies, bread and pie!) 

I think Jen sums it up pretty well when she shares the quote 
        
           "If we believe it is part of our task as earth keepers to recycle, then we ought to recycle, 
              whether or not it will change the world. Do the right thing .... Our calling simply depends 
               on our own identity as God's response-able human image bearers." 




Thursday, June 12, 2014

A different kind of blog today

I have to take a short break away from my 7 journal to share what is on my  mind.....


I am struggling right now. I am. I have been able to follow along and communicate with one of my friends who is in Ethiopia adopting right now. We are so close to our one year anniversary of having N home and the memories and emotions are flooding back to me. I remember the way the country smells of burning wood, petroleum and dirt. The sounds of the city with the bajaj's running around late into the night along with the chickens crowing and the chanting of the priests. Most of all I remember the people. The love they have for one another and the desperate need to access resources. Each person that I met on the street or in the mission groups that we met had a desire to work and to support themselves, they just lacked the resources to do so. Sometimes that was be medication to help them well, a way to send their child to school or an ability to do a job or just simple access to food and water.

I have heard a story about a 5 year old little girl who, like so many street kids, has been abandoned outside one of the guest houses. She is there getting food from people at the guest house but that is the extent. You see, as I have shared before, there is no DFS to call. No one to whisk her away within 24 hours and take her to a foster home or a hospital to get checked out. No family to call and have them come pick her up. This is the story of so many children, the story that could have been our sons. This story is told day in and day out by living, breathing individuals just like you and like me and like our children.

I am compelled to do something. I am so angry at myself for forgetting what I saw and what I experienced. Has my life changed since Ethiopia- absolutely! We partner with several groups in Ethiopia to help children like this little girl and I am part of Noonday where I can share the message of poverty around the world, but is that all I can do? Is there not something more????

How dare I get Starbucks coffee three times a week when I could be using that money to help provide resources for other families. I am overwhelmed at the injustice that is MY FAULT. I have allowed myself to go back home, love on my family, do a little difference here and a little difference there...but how have I changed? All my fancy drinks and nice things aren't bad, but how are they making a difference?

I don't need your justification or your pity. I don't need your way to go's or your criticism. What I need is a wake up to be reminded- this life is only temporary. That I am called to love others as Christ loves us. That means I cant just forget these people. I am called to Ethiopia, to Africa- I know it in my bones. You may be called somewhere completely different and that is okay. No judging, just eye opening but we have to do something !!! 

In the great words of Anna Voskamp- We are the Esther Generation! We must MOVE!


                          " There is a whole Esther generation rising right here 
                                and now and it is us....
 
Who are done with easy
Who know that being like Christ and caring for the poor in body and soul
Means more than just caring about easing our consciences
It means living real sacrifice

That we may BELIEVE and LOVE and PRAY and FIGHT and REST and LIVE!"
 
 
 
{For those of you compelled like me to help this little girl: Individuals are moving and working towards helping her and getting her connected to resources in Ethiopia that can take care of her. But, for every one of this little girl are a hundred more right in that same situation} 
 
 
 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Week Four: Media



Hello...my name is Amanda and I am addicted to Facebook.


 This week was on Media. The premise being how much of my time do I fill up with "media" i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, E-mails, Chat Groups, Movies, TV, Music. This list could go on and on.

I spend so much of my day on the computer at work and for Noonday that I really had to think about this one. So here was my rules:

1.  Only check my personal e-mail 2x a day.
2.  30 minutes of "personal"time on the Internet (so facebook, instagram combined)
         (This one I really dogged around on because I used the need to post about Noonday
         things as a "work" reason for being on Facebook so I still allowed 30 minutes of personal time.
3. The 30 minutes must occur AFTER the little ones go to bed and AFTER I spend quality time
         with just the big kids. 
4.  No TV
5.  No movies


I did follow this for a week...and I epically failed!!!! As in, failed with in my first hour.

The first day I was in such a habit I actually checked my personal email like three times before 11am. I don't even have that many emails but I'm so afraid to miss one. You would have thought I was waiting for a email from publishers clearing house.

By the time I got home I reminded myself of the rules and had no problem with TV or movies but the computer taunted me. I mean, I think at one point it started calling my name. I had fun with the kids but secretly counted down my time to be on Facebook. Then once I was on there I couldn't think what to do first. My time flew by and before I knew it I was only half way through my news feed. (Oh the humanity!)

By day three I started to get come control on the Facebook cravings. I would notice as I waited in the drive through lane I instinctively picked up my phone to check face book. It had become by go to boredom fighter.  That's when I think it became a game changer for me.

I haven't always had access to the Internet.We only joined the smart phone club about 3 years ago so what did I do before all this access to media? I may have missed knowing that a friend of a friend got a new car or one of my co workers went to the beach. But what I was really missing was quality time. I had allowed media to sneak into the little moments of time that I use to spend with my children doing songs or rhyming games or just chatting about their lives.I was missing the nightly check and connect with my husband each night because he was watching Fox News (his other wife) and I was on my tablet.

I'm still working on this little addiction of mine. I know there is a problem and I have to daily think of what is truly important in my life. Ultimately I'm thinking what do I want my kids to do with their free time. If they see me with media all the time, then what am I showing them. There were some good blogs on this...if only I had more than 30 minutes I'm sure I could find them :)

Keeping it real y'all,

    -Amanda



   



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Week three: Posessions



So after realizing that I had a problem with clothes I tackled my closet. Last week I showed you the before, so here is the after....











I ended up with three totes and two trash bags to donate and one pile to sell. Then I felt like I was on a roll so I tackled N and K's closets. Two more totes and one trash bag later they were done. I tried really hard to not just give everything to one place. Instead I methodically reviewed each item and distributed to various places. I took some to the freestore where anyone can get anything for free, then I sorted some for Crosslines where they work with families needing a helping hand up. I knew a few girl friends with younger children that I gave too and finally I took some clothes and gave them to Out Of The Ashes for the kids of Korahand then a few reselling. {Now, I have to state for the record. All of these possessions are AFTER I spring cleaned and de-cluttered just about two months ago}.

In the bible study Jen shares Matthew 6:19-21 and states that about 15% of Jesus's teaching were on "treasures".  I have always prided myself on not having a lot of these "treasures" and yet as I look around at these piles of clothes I see an awful lot of stuff. Like, a bunch of it!


 
I wish I could say that this week will forever change the way that I  think about buying things and the way that I spend my money. That I am going to sell my huge house and move into a smaller home and send that money to non profit somewhere to take care of those in poverty. That I would live Radical  {awesome book- read it now} and give up the "American Dream". But, in all honestly, I'm not there yet. I still have so much more to grow and change but I am taking it one step at a time. I am going to make some simple choices that will continue to lead me in the right direction though.

  1.  I took back several new outfits that I had gotten for this summer. Lucky I still had the tags and receipts. Instead the funds went to the mission trip our children are headed out on this weekend. 
  2. I joined a hand me down group for women's clothes where we can trade or purchase one another's clothes rather than buy brand new. I am doing the same thing with the children's clothes.
  3. I'm keeping track of the outfits I wear so I can continue to downsize this crazy closet of mine (and keep it from getting bigger)
  4. I am choosing to create a new outfit each week with my existing clothes to help lessen my future purposes. 
  5.  
    Now it's your turn. What does your closet say about you?




 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Possessions



 After seeing my problems with clothing I decided to tackle my closet for the week of possessions. As added commentary, I did just "clean out" my closet a few months ago. 
You all most know how much I care about you to show my before pictures of the closet... (Keeping it real) 

These are just my dress shoes -note the lovely super high heels aka "stripper shoes" by my friends-don't be hating just saying! 

The huffington post did a survey and apparently most women own 20 pairs of shoes yet only wear 5 (I have over 20 dress shoes alone-they are my cryptonite)  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/too-many-shoes_n_3779196.html 

My dresses and scarves. (Seriously, dresses are great because you can fluctuate weight and they still fit) 


My shorts and pants...also just went through these this summer. (and I have a good part of this in my laundry this very moment!)



My shirts, there is no excuse for this one. 

And I have a dresser filled with work out clothes, t shirts and pajamas. Excess much??? Now, to my credit, many of here items have been bought used from some lovely ladies in town who take much better care of their clothes then I and therefore I get to shop their closets. Also, I am the lovely recipient of my mothers seconds as well as an avid coupon-er! I am learning how clothes are made and learning how to be a fashionista without utilizing unethical standards. But, my closet is still loaded! 

My task this week-to rid about 80% or so. Check back and see how I do! 

  -Amanda 

Ps-I may need some Marco Negri and some prayer! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Week two: Clothing

     My first official week of seven I jumped into the clothing section. Now if you have been following my blog (all two of you out there) you already know I am discovering the world of ethical trade and sustainable economic development. These are two really fancy words for -paying people what they deserve to make this in a place that is safe and treats them with the respect they deserve while giving them a job that is more than just a weekend. 


Check me out the Noonday Collection Pieces that provide sustainable income and hope to those in poverty. 

So I thought this clothing week would be really easy. I picked my basics and gave myself an opportunity to even highlight my Noonday Jewelry each day so I could add in the ethical trade components. Well, I learned several things about myself this week.....


1. I hate repetitive things. I had a really hard time wearing the same dang pair of shoes each day. I choose my favorite shoes, my Toms. They started off with a small whole but now have a nice cozy spot for my little pinky toe to poke out off. I love these shoes (as if it's not obvious by the wholes in them) and yet by day 5 I was done. Which leads me to the next lesson. 

                          

2. I like change, I do. The idea of something different or unique is intriguing to me. So, having to wear the same basic three outfits (which really ended up being two because I choose really wrong) was really hard for me. All I could think of on Saturday was how badly I wanted something new. 

3. I have to sit on thinks one a while. Why do I need "new" things all the time? And by new I don't mean brand spanking new because a lot of things I buy used and am perfectly fine with. I WANT something different. I didn't NEED anything. I was able to wash my clothes and they all fit, they worked okay for what I needed them for.  I was just bored.  So what does that say about me and my NEEDS? Am I looking to my clothes and appearance to spice up my life? (As if working full time and 4 kids isn't spice enough!)  This got me thinking.....and looking and guess what...

4. No one ever commented on my same outfits. No one noticed about my t-shirt -that actually got so stained I had to wear my sweater folded over by then end of the week-oh wait...I'm wearing it today with a scarf over the stain..oops! See, things like that make me say to myself I don't really care about what people think and  honestly people don't really care all that much about what I wear. So if that's true, then why did I get an extra 15 minutes each morning when my clothes were chosen for me? Why did I not worry about what my clothes said about me or if I was fashionable. Or (truth be told) skinny and pretty? That's what I'm really about, not how I think I look, but how YOU think I look. 

Jen does a great job at conviction using Gods words. "The plunder from the poor is in your houses" Ouch-my house, yes my house! Slowly I'm unpealing the layers to myself, seeing what really motivates and moves me and if that's okay with me. I think I have this thing in the bag, but the more I dive in the more I realize, this is just the beginning! 

So, this week I dive into possessions....seriously. I think I may hit my closet first!!!! 

                     



Friday, May 2, 2014

55 days of John

Truth-I am not a bible reader. I'm not. One of my goals each year is to read passages from my bible every day and yet every day... I don't.   I read my face book and I read my texts, I read my e-mails and I read my TV guide, but not my bible.

55 days ago, after an inspiring and moving weekend with some lovely ladies at my IF:Local event I choose to follow along with IF:Equip. This was my first time reading through the entire book of John and I learned so much about Jesus and about myself.

If I had to break it down, I would in two simple truths. {warning-I may use a lot of shouty caps-yes, shouty caps people, I was really feeling it!}

John 19:24

 Through out the book of John and the collection of author lead discussion I saw this beautiful tapestry of history woven through out this book. There is this fulfillment of prophecy that I found chapter after chapter. It was fortold that Jesus would come, that John would be there to baptize him. That he would be loved by men and scorn by men. The real penetrating truth is that BECAUSE Jesus is who he says he is, he KNEW. He knew what was to happen and what he was to go through.  He knew which disciple would give him over and who would deny him. Yet, he loved them, he forgave them and he died for them. If so then what does that say about how he loves me?

I think the whole idea of redemption really hit home with me.  I was able to see Jesus as a real person living a real life through the book of John. I read the words that he spoke and imagined the images that must have surrounded him. I was able to focus on key areas and really appreciate the depth of what was written. I am not a bible scholar and so the added commentary of the speakers from IF:Gathering was so key to me. I was able to get a deeper understanding of the verses and then read other womens comments on those same verses.

The second simple truth is this: Jesus says- FOLLOW ME



He does say -If you read your bible every day or if you have it all together. He doesn't make it a caveat to join him ONLY if you do this or that.   We are are mess. We are sinful and broken and pitiful....but he still chooses US!!! He wants us to FOLLOW HIM! This last part of John hit it on the head for me. Jesus is talking to the disciples and one of them asks him about someone else. He says, don't focus on what others are doing, FOCUS ON ME!

I often times get so stuck in the comparison trap the "I'm not good enough" trap. When I do that I'm actually killing grace.  I am taking away the fact that Jesus died for my sins because I'm saying, "I know you did that, but I'm still not good enough because....(fill in with any mantra you tell yourself)

 Well, its not about me! Its about what HE did. What HE did on that cross and what HE did for the world. News flash- I'm never going to be good enough. I can never compare because there is no comparison. I have to stop looking at others and instead seeing what HE says about me. And this can only be done by...you guest it...reading his word and FOLLOWING HIM.

I may just become a bit of a daily bible reader after all.
    So join me!
         Let's do this thing together.
                     Help me to not look to others and to not define myself by the World,
                          but by who he says I am.

Get Started with us!  #ifequip www.ifequip.com

Ready to do this thing?    Here it is Monday May 5th....   IF: Equip


    -Amanda