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He Came To Live Among

I grew up in a very Catholic community. My mother had shifted from Catholicism to being a part of the ‘Jesus People’ movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s.

I remember visiting Catholic churches with large crucifixes containing the image of Jesus dying on the cross. My mother would explain that we looked to an empty cross, a symbol that Christ concurred death and paid the price for our salvation.

A large part of this movement left believers longing for the day that Christ would return. I myself have cried in vain during periods of depression, begging God to just come now and end this living hell.

But recently, I’ve been having those views challenged. Up until now I’ve spent my days longing for His return, hoping that my children will not have to spend their whole lives in this infernal place.

The challenge comes from the book ‘Flesh’ by Hugh Halter. In it he takes a look at what the incarnation of Christ really meant.

For me, rather than daydreaming about eternal chocolate sundaes and worship, I’ve been introduced to the idea of bringing that celestial location down to terra firma. And even more challenging, raising my children to do the same.

Let’s face it, this world can suck. Big time.

But am I not also a part of its current state?

It can be so easy for us as Christians to focus intently on Jesus’ 3 years of ‘ministry’. But what about the rest of His time on this planet?

Sure the Bible doesn’t say a ton about those years, other than to say that he grew in wisdom and knowledge. But I’m pretty sure he was not secluded from any other living being.

As an adult, I can see times in my life where I have been called to a certain ministry. Does that mean that once engaged in that ministry the entirety of my previous years are no longer worth anything?

Uh, no.

Before I became involved in women’s ministries I was involved in children’s ministry. I’ve also spent time ministering to teen parents and teens in general.

My point is that Jesus did not just start ministering to people at the age of 30. From what we know of his character I would venture to guess he did not intentionally avoid helping someone in the same way that you or I do.

The only reason we separate His time in ministry is because of how much it differed to the ministry we are able to provide to those around us. Like say, turning water into wine.

If I’m going to emulate Christ, I need to not only try to emulate the part of Him that we view as ‘God’, but also the part of Him that was ‘man’.

As a man, Jesus worked. He was a laborer and with a laborer husband I can only imagine how much harder that would have been 2000 years ago.

So. Where am I going here. (yes, a statement, not a question. Just because)

Our current church culture has people looking for fame. There is a lot of stinkin’ vanity in the church. A lot.

As a blogger, I could totally get sucked into this. I have actually (obviously to no avail, but still, my heart was in the wrong place).

There are all these books and blogs and speakers trying to help Christian leaders build a platform. To become known in the Christian community. To be the most popular kid on the block.

Why?

I love when Halter says in his book Flesh, “Everyone wants to have influence. We count Facebook fans, Google circles, and Twitter followers. We measure Sunday church attendance and yearly budget numbers, all the while thinking we are creating our own wave. The multitude that followed Jesus was more than willing to speed up His influence and make Him the leader they wanted. But Jesus knew that real influence could be gained only as people were made into disciples one by one.”

Wow.

Talk about convicting!

This is what matters. This is all that is important.

Jesus the Savior is important, don’t get me wrong. But the other 90% of Jesus’ life was spent as Jesus the friend. Jesus, the neighbor. Jesus, the guy that buys figs at that stand down the street.

And since I’m 99.99% sure that I’m not going to be able to take that Savior position, I should probably focus on the other part of Jesus that I can attain. The part that I’m pretty sure He wants me to fill.

 

I’ve only just scratched the surface of Halter’s book ‘Flesh’, you have GOT to get ahold of a copy and read it for yourself. Everyone can use a good challenge!

Flesh

 

How About You?

What part of Jesus are you trying to live out?

 

Have a great Easter!

Esther :-)

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Don’t Let Them Tell You To Shut Up

If you’ve ever met my husband you could use any of the following words to describe him; sweet, nice, kind, relaxed, patient and much more.

The fact that he puts up with me should tell you all you need to know about his character!

But let me give you more of a background.

When my husband was young a traveling evangelist told him that he would be a great leader. My husband quickly wrote off the prophetic word because of his life experience.

As a kid my hubby unknowingly suffered from some eye problems that prevented him from being able to read well. His teachers, even in elementary school actually used the word ‘stupid’ when talking to him.

All of this difficulty left him with little to no self worth.

I mean sure he could chant the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” like every other good church kid, but in his heart he never truly believed it.

My husband has a heart for people. A big one. And something he has always wanted to do was combine his love for bikes with his love for people.

He found a way to do this last year as an outreach from our church and has now moved into starting a non-profit to further extend his reach to help a larger community of people.

Over the past year I have watched as my husband has taken on new roles, learned new things and has really started to overcome a lifetime of negative self-worth.

I could see the hold that those nasty childhood comments held on his life losing their grip.

 

Like the rest of the world we require a day job to pay our bills. But those jobs have been difficult to find. Our current pattern has been find a job, business slows, lose the job.

So when we found a position at a company that was starting to expand, we became pretty hopeful.

Very shortly into the position however, it became apparent that something wasn’t right. The owner of the company seemed to have trouble with his temper, and would often lose his cool on his employees for things out of their control.

My hubby is a pretty understanding dude, and for a long time has been able to put up with quite a bit.

But this past week he received a text from his boss saying they needed to meet. Then, there was no work for him the rest of the week.

We’re fairly perceptive people and we saw the writing on the wall; he was going to get fired.

He has never been fired. Ever! People love him, and this time, it was his downfall. My hubby’s lovable attitude pissed this guy off, big time.

We prayed and talked and rehearsed the final confrontation, but we weren’t prepared for the words that would come out of the owner’s mouth as he stood inches away from Eric’s face;

“Shut the F*** up!”

My husband quietly handed him his work clothes, took his paycheck and walked out the door.

Immediately upon hearing what was said, my blood started to boil. Had I been at the wheel of the car I would have turned it around so I could personally deliver my return message of extreme anger mixed with physical violence.

I’ve even come up with a term that I think appropriately characterizes my emotional state, “Wifezilla.”

My husband had done nothing but show this man kindness, and in return he gave him filth.

 

It wasn’t until later that day that it hit me.

Who was telling him to shut up?

I’m not the type of Christian to blame everything on Satan, I think we do ourselves enough damage that he hardly has any work to do.

But this time seems different.

Over the past year my husband has been able to gain confidence. To truly start becoming the leader and man of God that he was destined to be. He has overcome stereotypes and climbed over obstacles to get to a point where he is not only the most productive he’s ever been, he’s reaching people in a magnitude that he’s never experienced as well.

This message of hate and anger was aimed not just at him, but at his actions.

Satan hates when we overcome the obstacles in front of us to truly become the people God wants us to be.

My hubby spent his life restless, knowing he was made for more, but believing he was built for nothing.

But as those lies started to dissipate he was able to see that God gave him the desires and skills necessary for a unique place in the Kingdom of God. A place where he can feel fulfilled and closer to God with every action he takes.

Satan is going to get pissed. That’s a guarantee.

And if there’s anything that I’ve learned in this life it’s this; you should probably not take advise from Satan.

So while he’s screaming in your face to stop what you’re doing; keep going.

When he’s telling you to give up; dig your heels in.

When he’s telling you to throw in the towel; don’t give up the fight.

 

What About You?

What are you doing to piss off Satan?

Or are you giving him what he wants?

 

Esther :-)

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When Did I Stop Dreaming?

I live in a house filled with dreamers.

Some dreams are big, some are little and some are pure unadulterated fantasy.

I used to be the same way. I remember vividly pouring over a Space Camp catalog for hours on end, dreaming of how it would be a stop on my path to astro-themed greatness. Or walking through our back woods, certain I’d find some sort of archaeological find that I could research and catalog (man I love organizing!).

But somewhere along the way, it all stopped. I had given up any and all hope that my life could be or do anything. At all.

When did it stop? Well, probably in a couple places. For me, it was partially when my dad died. This brought a realization of our mortality. And then when I became a teen mom I quickly threw out all hope for a future.

Every once in a while I’d get a glimmer of a dream, only to allow myself to cut them down soon after. I let reason and logic  end each and every one.

And I’ve not only done this to myself, I’ve done it to others as well. My husband, my poor, poor husband, has been victim to my cold hearted ‘dreamless adult syndrome’.

You see, he loves coffee, and has often talked about opening a coffee shop in our small town that also happens to be a very busy travel stop. Incidentally we don’t have a stand alone drive-thru coffee shop.

But could I let him dream? Heck no. I’ve repeatedly squashed all hopes, even if they were just for fun.

 

I’ve been reading Jennie Allen’s book ‘Restless: Because We Were Made For More’. I talked a couple weeks ago this same book. Here: I Was Made For More

So I’ve been trying to think about when I started to let the world around me speak for not only myself in my own life, but also to be the voice of God in my own life.

It all goes back to when I was a teen mom. You see, teen moms aren’t really known for having a ton of success. If they were, MTV wouldn’t have reality shows about them.

Instead of letting God be the voice of how I viewed myself and my chances at success in anything I attempted, I chose to believe the voices around me.

I recently had a couple encounters with physicians. With one who knew I had been a teen parent I was treated rudely. She talked down to me and used a patronizing voice. While it’s not the first time I’ve experienced that, it still stings when I do encounter it.

The other physician assumed I held some sort of degree because of our conversation regarding my children and was taken aback when I said that I had not finished any post secondary education.

What am I getting at?

Well, which physician do you think I’ll see again?

I’m learning that in order to be a dreamer that still has hope for their dreams, I need to surround myself with people who see me as someone capable of achieving those dreams.

If I’m surrounded with people who have little to no hope in me, I will have no hope in me.

I wish I could say all I needed was God in this one, but I totally need people to back me up. I need to at least be around positive people who are also striving to achieve the goals and dreams in their own lives.

Back to my poor husband. He has had a dream to help at risk youth in some fashion using bicycles for, well, since the beginning of time.

I’ve often squashed his dream. There are enough bike shops and other organizations out there. The market is flooded. It won’t work.

But I decided last year to keep my negativity out of it. Let him move forward. Support any growth. Now this year we find ourselves starting a non-profit that will help not only youth but adults in our community. (Visit us Here: Involved Cycles)

He was able to surround himself with people who had faith and hope that his dream could become a reality. I want this not only for myself, but for my children as well!

How About You?

Are you still dreaming?

What is your current dream?

 

Later!

Esther :-)

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I Was Made For More

A while back I was a part of a ministry team where I played a fairly small role. The time and commitment to the team meant that I didn’t have room in my life for any other ministry.

The longer I was a part of the team, the deeper and deeper a certain longing grew inside of me.

I easily confused this longing as being a desire to play a larger role in the ministry. Over time this longing turned into boredom. I was amazingly bored in the only ministry I was a part of.

So I tried to find new ways to be involved, I thought going deeper, putting more time into it would somehow fill that longing.

Wrong. So, so wrong.

Not only was I not filling that longing, I started to become resentful of the time I was putting into the ministry with nothing to show for it.

As with many other times in my life, it took a physical inability to be a part of the team for me to quit. Sometimes my stubbornness is so great that at times I joke about God having to physically remove me from something, knowing that over time I would only dig my heels in deeper and deeper otherwise. (oh yes, this has happened on more than one occasion, I don’t learn very quickly…)

I was beyond depressed. I was presented with another ministry opportunity at the same point, and assumed that this must be where God wanted me. The position meant zero contact with others, and sitting behind my computer screen.

As an extreme introvert, isolation is NOT where I should be. Ever. It is far too easy for me to stay in isolation, without any human contact (other than my husband and 6 children). In another life (and realm) I could very easily have been Gollum with chocolate as ‘my Precious’.

But sitting in the background, hidden behind a screen I felt as though I had lost my voice. I was invisible.

As time went on, that theme grew stronger and stronger. I needed to have a voice. There has GOT to be room for me to have a voice!

And then this is where my guilt came in.

“Wow I’m vain”

“Seriously, what on earth could you have to say?”

“And have you received a degree in A, B, C or D? What authority do you have?”

I’m not sure if it’s my German heritage or what, but I have a tendency to suffer in silence, easily bowing to any negative comment/look/gesture made available.

But what if that longing was built in me from the start?

What if I was always meant to seek out my voice?

What if it wasn’t vanity, but God’s way of providing direction?

I just started reading Jennie Allen’s new book Restless: Because You Were Made For More

 

 

I’m going to spend some time, sharing with you, conversing with you, trying to understand with you this whole premise.

I know I’m not alone. We may tend to feel as though we are, we might even have people verbally tell us that our restlessness, our longing for more is not Godly, pushing us further and further from God’s role for us.

I know I’m not alone. You are not alone. I don’t want to be stuck any longer. For the sake of God’s plan for our lives, for the Church as a whole, I want us all to be able to move forward.

For me.

For my husband.

For my children.

For you.

We were all made for more.

 

What About You?

Have you felt that longing for more?

Are you feeling restless?

 

Can’t wait to journey with you through this!

Esther :-)

13th Birthday

Why I’m Rethinking the Purity Ring For My Daughters

When I was 13 my parents gave me a purity ring. For those not familiar with them, they are a ring which remind you of the reasons you are not having sex until marriage.

My ring was simple, a gold ring with my birthstone, opal, at the center. I would sit and stare at it, mesmerized by the sparkle and depth of its stone. And when my dad died just over a year later, the ring became a symbol to me of my fathers wants and expectations for my life.

I am still a proponent of waiting for sex until marriage. I think that there are many benefits, including the inability to contract STD’s that give abstinence a real seat at the table in the topic of sex for single people.

But I’m fairly certain my father didn’t predict that I would be raped. In fact, I’m fairly certain it was a top concern of his seeing as how he had been abused as a child. I myself think about and consider sexual abuse quite frequently as it applies to my children because of my own personal experience.

Being raped changed everything, including the way that I look at plain old sin.

As a person who didn’t choose to lose their virginity, I felt used and worthless afterwards despite not making the choice to do so.

I will never forget the moment I looked down at my ring finger to find that the soft white opal that had meant so much to me was missing. It had fallen out and was gone.

I was destroyed. Not only was I no longer pure, but even the representation of my purity that the ring held was also destroyed.

At that point I no longer felt worth saving. Not worth cherishing. Not worth waiting for.

The Christian community puts a pretty high price on purity. The girl who is no longer pure has been compared to used gum, tape, garbage and countless other visuals.

None of those things can return to their original beauty.

But, what if my daughters willfully sin? I mean, they are human, and humans sin like all the time.

I sin, you sin, we all sin. But we’ve placed such a huge weight on sexual sin that it leaves the person struggling with that particular sin feeling worthless and not worth saving.

I want my daughters to know from the get go that they will sin. Period.

Should they know the consequences of sin? Sure. I’ve talked at great length to my teen about the consequences of sin. But not just sexual sin.

What about the consequences of lying? Or jealousy? What about gluttony, even as it pertains to wealth?

All these things have consequences, but if you commit any of those our loving Christian community will not chase you out of town holding pitchforks and torches.

Sex on the other hand? Out you go.

The ostracism a sexually active teen receives from a church community is prolific. Friends are warned to stay away, taking away any positive support that teen might need. Rumors, I mean prayers are spread that only further their social destruction. And the shame buries them deeper and deeper into a hole they will struggle to crawl out of for years to come.

I’ve told my daughters that they will make mistakes. I make mistakes. So will they. Giving them this grace will not only help them personally, but it will help them in giving grace to those around them.

I want my kids to live among the world. Jesus did, and so should they. (yes I homeschool, but that has more to do with social issues than it does religious ones)

Jesus didn’t avoid the woman caught in adultery, he went specifically towards her, ready and willing to hand out grace.

So while we’ve already given a ring to our oldest daughter, and will probably buy a cute ring for our youngest as well, I want it to mean something more. I want it to symbolize God’s grace for us. That even though we are sinners, God still wants us for His bride. It’s God’s promise and our promise as parents that we will love you no matter what. Sin or no sin, pure or not pure.

 

What about you?

Did you grow up with the purity ring culture? How did it affect you?

 

See you later!

Esther :-)

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What Goes Around Comes Around, and Around, and Around

When it comes to the three R’s; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, our family does just about okay.

We fill our recycle bin to overflowing, we totally rock the hand me down clothes and I’ve been known to occasionally use old fabric (like flat sheets, who even uses those?) to create new things.

But, we’d like to do more.

In the past we’ve had some pretty grand visions of collecting rain water, starting a compost bin and my husband has even dared me to make my own hippy sandals out of old tires (I’ll NOT be taking that challenge).

The problem with those things isn’t how we would do them as much as why. We don’t garden. It’s not going to happen. Mostly because I’d be the one responsible for its maintenance, and let’s just say my thumb isn’t so green….so why put my energy there?

But I’m going to share a way that our family is venturing to be greener; getting people on bikes.

My hubby has always had a passion for bikes, and now we will be starting a non-profit with the goal of bringing self-reliant transportation to the least of our community.

We’ll be offering mechanic skills classes to those without transportation; low income youth, college students and the large population of homeless people in our community. Through these classes people will have the chance to earn a bicycle. One that they can pick out, fix up and be proud of.

And when their bike needs something tweaked, they can stop by the shop, and with the assistance of our mechanic in residence, fix the problem without going broke.

So not only are we reusing the bikes, we’re reducing our dependence on other forms of transportation as well.

I don’t know about your community, but in ours a low income person without access to transportation is going to have a real tough time getting their life back on track. To get from point A to point B back to point A could take all day if you are going by foot. And that’s a problem.

Something else we’ve learned is the state of mind of the unemployed (yes, we’ve found yet another blessing of our several year unemployment!). When you’ve been laid off, lost your residence, lost your possessions, lost your sense of humanity, you start to give up.

Sadly, people look at those who have given up hope as ‘bums’. We even have a coined term, ‘lazy bum’ that we use to describe someone we see as not doing enough to improve their situation.

But imagine for a moment that you’ve lost it all. Piece by piece you’ve seen your identity stripped away from you. You have nothing to your name, not even a permanent address. You apply for jobs, but aren’t even able to get call backs for interviews. Trust me, this economy has been hard on even the hardest working individuals.

Eventually you start to see yourself from the eyes of those around you, judging you. Why don’t you just get a job? Why don’t you DO something to improve your situation?

Never mind those who are physically ill. Homeless people can be sick too you know, and many have those ‘invisible’ illnesses that prevent them from working but at the same time have them looking perfectly normal. I’ve experienced this one quite often. I’ve tried over the past several years to work, failing miserably each time. People saw the smile on my face and assumed I should be able to help my family financially in hard times. They didn’t realize that even the most part time job left me passed out in bed for days, unable to care for my children.

My husband has always been an exemplary worker. People love him. A lot. I think it’s because he’s so dang cute, but that’s just me.

The thing is, when he received rejection after rejection, it started to wear on him. All the positive comments in the world couldn’t outweigh the blow to the ego of getting passed up for jobs you’ve done for years.

So we understand. We know how it feels. We can see the need to be treated with respect. To be treated like a person. And we are looking forward to spreading that passion like wildfire through our community!

We’d love if you’d visit our new site! Let us know what you think, or if you have any contacts you’d like to share!

You can visit us at our website involvedcycles.com

Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/involvedcycles

and follow us on Twitter @involvedcycles

 

How about you?

What ways are you looking to incorporate the 3R’s?

 

See you next week!

Esther :-)

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The Seasons of Valentine’s Day

I’m over at Bridging the Gap today talking about the seasons of Valentine’s day.

I have this thing where I go back and forth on my feelings about Valentine’s Day. Part of me wants my husband to be über romantic and self-plan a luxurious and thoughtful outing for just the two of us, including securing the babysitter. The other part of me realizes that our life is at times so crazy that trying to stop and be über romantic on that one night might resemble a 90 mph head-on collision with disaster.

Click Here to Read More

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Esther :-)

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Limiting Media. Ugh, Why God? Why Media!?

I think I’m a media-holic.

I wasn’t always though.

For a while I really was the no TV homeschool mom. I practiced Bible Quiz with my kids at the kitchen table in the afternoons and read them books in the evenings.

But, well, okay I don’t have an excuse. Things are different now.

I live in Minnesota. We’ve had a Bazillion below zero days, and my kids can’t (and have no desire to) go outside.

And to be honest, I’ve just gotten really lazy. I enjoy my quiet afternoons with the kids watching something or other on Netflix in the basement while I watch some other something from the comfort of my bedroom. Oh, and I’m probably researching at the same time…seriously, I can do it, kind of.

Between videos, Minecraft, software, music, e-books, research and my oldest daughter’s AP classes our family probably spends more time in front of a screen or with headphones on than not. Heck I’ve even caught my daughter taking notes for biology while listening to music and checking Facebook all at the same time! Okay, so technically she’s able to pull it off, but that doesn’t make it right! It’s no wonder that our latest electric bill said we were using more electricity than our neighbors.

The thing is, we have PLENTY of other things to do in our house. It’s not as though we have no other options.

  • We have a cabinet stuffed full of quality board, card and logic games.
  • We have shelves lined with an array of non-fiction and a large collection of classic fiction.
  • We have craft supplies up the wazoo. Seriously. My mother worked for a scrapbooking company, and I inherited all the stuff she realized she would no longer ever use. We have enough stickers to decorate a small country!
  • We have instruments and lesson books for kids to experiment with. I’ve even already learned to tune out the sound!
  • We have cookbooks upon cookbooks and the ingredients for  most anything. Come to think of it I could totally go for a cake.
  • We have exercise equipment…never mind, that one is not worth the energy…

Overall, we have a lot of stuff we could be doing that doesn’t involve a screen.

 

Now, I’m not looking to move mountains here. I do kind of enjoy watching my kids huddled around the computer building bluebiddy bippety blah on Minecraft (those are the sounds I actually hear when they speak of it to me). They are usually helpful to each other, encouraging and not in fist fights.

We recently tried to instill new time limits on screen time. Something that is just REALLY hard to do when you are stuck inside all day every day. It worked for a while, but then the lazy mom started to let things slide.

I imagine that we’d be quite the centered and well rounded family if we ever learned to remove the plug! But like I said, I’m not tackling mountains. 

Instead, I think I’ll try to lead by example. Get my butt away from the screen, stop reading the news, stop looking at recipes I’ll never make and clothes I’ll never look good in and interact more with my family face to face.

Sure, with writing and launching a non-profit with my husband (did I just say that out loud?) there is a lot of stuff for me to get done on these dang blasted typing machines, but seriously, not THAT much, I can be efficient when I want to be.

Then maybe as I’m reading my kids all those ‘100 books to read in a lifetime‘ (22 of which are on my shelves, no excuses!) I can actually start to feel as though I’m not a complete waste of a parent, and perhaps maybe even slightly brag worthy!

 

How About You?

I’d ask you to tell me I’m not alone, but I know I’m not! What are you looking to reclaim as you tear away from the grasp of media?

 

:-) Esther

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There’s Just SO MUCH STUFF!

When I was a kid, I think I could have easily become a hoarder. I attached a pretty strong emotion or memory to each of my possessions. In the 7th grade my parents sold the Hobbit Hole (literal house in a hill) I grew up in to live in a sub-division.

I. Was. A. Mess.

I thought I could derail this plan by giving the Realtor the ‘cold shoulder’. I would even sabotage the for sale sign by the road! I still have the diary page entry with real tear drop stain where I write about how evil my parents were for making me leave my sanctuary.

But it was really because of this experience that I learned to let go. I now have no problem ridding myself of darn near everything in my house. Although I will admit I’m having trouble getting rid of the ‘size I’m never going to be again’ pants because I’m still holding out hope.

It’s nothing for me to tackle a closet, weeding out not only the garbage but even the excess. My problem comes from what I do with it. Usually the unneeded items find their way to garbage bags in my living room. Then after a few days (or weeks) they make their way to the garage. Then they wait a few weeks (or months) to find their way to a donation site nearby.

I have to be honest, sometimes I’m really good about giving our things to organizations that could use each item the most. But other times, I just dump it all on Goodwill.

So my challenge here, is to stop making our giving a one stop shop, and start giving where it really counts.

Having 6 kids, homeschooling, being a bibliophile and having a husband with a bicycle fetish leads to massive amounts of stuff.

MASSIVE.

Between the clothes, toys, books, curriculum, furniture, bikes and more that we end up with, we could probably support another whole family.

Here are some ways I’ve recently been able to give our stuff away.

  • A family who suffered major loss in an apartment fire needed clothing, including winter gear. I was able to find things in my teen’s closet as well as my husbands to give to them.
  • A class full of Somali refugee children needed easy to read books to line their classroom shelves. I was able to find several (SEVERAL) that I had no problem parting with and that my kids would never miss.
  • A couple of families needed help with school supplies and I was able to find a large chunk of them in my supply closets. (How did I afford it? Find out here!)

Here are some things I’m thinking I’ll do with more of our stuff;

  • I will FINALLY let myself get rid of those ‘size I’m never going to be again’ dress clothes at the upcoming Single Moms Retreat Boutique this May, so a deserving mom can outfit herself for her next job interview.
  • Go through puzzles, games and books to donate to local waiting rooms. I’m thinking the Financial Services office at the local counties, a place filled with stress and needed distraction for children.
  • My mother’s school has a supply closet for when kids show up under clothed (a hazard when you just came from a refugee camp in Africa to a climate akin to the North Pole), I could start donating our unneeded kids clothes there.
  • I have an abundance of books (Yes I already used this category, but I’m using it again. You can apply your personal area of hoarding here). There area lot of places I can split these books up. Marriage books to the shelters, parenting books to the teen pregnancy home, and juvenile fiction to the local Children’s Home.
  • Our large collection of children’s movies to the children’s wing of the local hospital.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone reading this has excess. How many versions of the same things do we really need in our homes?

 

How About You?

What ideas do you have for giving to specific areas? I’d love to hear them!

 

Happy Giving!

Esther :-)

 

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A Clothing Challenge!

There was a time when I did not get or understand clothing. I just didn’t understand, at all, why people spent money on fashion thingy’s.

Until I realized it was like playing dress up. Like putting on a costume every day! I’m kind of into costumes, something evidenced in my many 80′s get togethers, date night’s ironically dressed as hipsters, and the fun I have getting my kids and myself ready for Halloween.

So when I realized that fashion was just an excuse to play socially acceptable dress up, I was hooked.

This is not to say that I spent a ton of money though. My penny pinching German bank president grandfather was still always in my ear to save every bit possible. I hit clearance racks and outlets stores like a pro.

I had a limit I had imposed on myself for the price I was willing to pay for each type of clothing. $3 for kids shirts, $5 for their pants and I prayed relentlessly for those prices for their shoes as well. These limits really did work for years, until my oldest hit the teen years anyway. Then I had to double my limits, but I still found those deals!

I think I was as much addicted to the deals as I was to the fashion.

What changed?

Well, a lawyer friend of mine (you know who you are) introduced me to Goodwill, and their $1.49 Tuesdays. I wasn’t quite sure I would want to stroll those aisles, imagining a bunch of nasty, smelly junk lining the racks.

But when I went in, and really gave it a go (meaning I spent a few hours at a time) I found some amazing deals. Deals that I could never even find on those clearance racks I loved so much.

I was surprised at the number of brand new things on the racks. This with tags still attached. Apparently I could have my fashion and my money!

Then, last year the collapse of clothing factories in Bangladesh captured the headlines. I was yet again convicted and swore off buying anything not bearing a fair trade promise. (You can find my articles and fair trade shopping guide HERE)

I did a decent job of sticking to those standards, sticking to thrift stores and brands that cared about where their clothes were made. For a while that is. Until the deals, pretty colors and shiny objects at our local outlet drew me in. I slipped. Not too hard, but still hard enough to feel it.

After reading Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess I was re-convicted in my shopping habits. I mean yes, those $3 jeans at Macy’s for my oldest son are an amazing deal, but is it worth it in terms of the human cost? What about knowing the people making those clothes are being ripped off?

Last week several news sites reported (HERE) that Wal-Mart, JC Penney and Kohl’s shortchanged their Guatemalan workers. As if they didn’t make enough profits already.

So not only do we have excess clothing in my house (seriously, some kid drawers barely shut), but we have clothes that were practically (if not actually) made by slave labor.

<deep sigh>

It is time to get ready for the Single Moms Retreat Boutique this may. I have no problem going through my closets, finding those never worn treasures to pass on to deserving single mamas. But I think it’s time I do the same in my kids drawers. Finding the things never worn and donating them not just to a dump site at my local grocery store, but finding the right organization to give those items to.

My mom works at a local public school with a large refugee population. These people come with absolutely nothing to a state covered in snow for almost half the year, whose temperatures have been so low that school has been closed more often than past years. I’m pretty sure there are PLENTY of children at that school who could use the extra layers just taking up space in my kids’ drawers.

I know I need to do a better job when it comes to clothing. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.

How About You?

Any tips on how you shop ethically? I’d love to hear them!

 

See you next week!

Esther :-)