Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thanks-GIVING

unnamed

Apparently, the shelf life for gratitude is approximately 24 hours. On Thursday Americans will celebrate one of my favorite holidays – Thanksgiving. What could be better than an entire day set aside to remember all of your blessings & spend time with family and friends?

My inbox has been filled this week with so many emails from stores letting me know about their amazing sales and pre-dawn opening times for Black Friday. Now we can reward our grateful attitudes on Thursday with some indulged shopping on Friday.

I know, I know. Stores slash prices making it the ideal time to make large purchases you needed anyway. I am a girl on a budget and I totally get that. However, the idea of following up a day of giving thanks for what we have with a day of acquiring new things seems to miss the mark.

This morning I was looking at the word Thanksgiving and thought how profound it is that “thankfulness” and “giving” are matched on this holiday. Yea, sure. It’s a day that we give thanks. But what if the connection is more than that?

Maybe to really experience thankfulness we have to be willing to give. The act of giving requires a belief that you already have what you need. Generosity is an external act of an internal attitude. I may not have everything, but I have enough. That is what giving says.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I propose that we each celebrate by being thankful AND giving.

Black Friday is coming with it’s swarms of deals and hoards of crowds. Last year Americans spent $11,400,000,000 on Black Friday. That averages out to $423 per person who went shopping that weekend.

This year I would like to suggest that instead of spending tons of money on ourselves we GIVE to others in order to meet some of their needs.

In honor of  Thanks-GIVING I am going to donate before I buy. Join me in winning back Thanksgiving? —> click to tweet

This Friday I am going to go online and donate before I shop for anything. The world is full of people who are trying to make ends meet. Investing in a cause bigger than myself is the best way to kick off the holiday season in my opinion.

Grab that new pair of boots you have had your eye on, but give away a pair of shoes you already have in your closet to a shelter. Stock up on Christmas gifts for your grandkids, but purchase a gift card for a mom who needs assistance getting gifts for her kids. There are so many ways to help.

Will you join me?

I have listed out a couple great causes that I can personally vouch for as being good candidates for donations:

 UnBound – I work with this group to end human trafficking by educating and empowering local communities to combat slavery in their city. We are volunteer run & all your donations go directly to our anti-trafficking efforts.

Many Hopes – My friend Haley is working with Many Hopes to help raise $10,000 towards building homes for boys living in poverty in Kenya. It is a great project and a huge need. Support Africa & Support Haley this Thanksgiving!

Beth Stedman – Many of you may remember when Beth wrote a post for me earlier this fall.  Beth’s husband is battling stage 4 melanoma. They have two children, one with severe special needs, and I am sure that they could use a little generosity this holiday season. — she has no idea I am doing this. At the end of each of her posts there is a link to donate via paypal. The link says ” If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea”. Click on that and you can give a donation in any amount to her securely on PayPal.

I think we can work together to make a big difference in the lives of others this Thanksgiving holiday, but I need your help!

1. Share about Thanks-GIVING with others through social media or word of mouth!

2. Tell us about other groups/causes worth giving to in the comments section!

Happy Thanks-GIVING everybody!!!

*** Want to get posts sent directly to your inbox a few times a week? Subscribe via email in the sidebar. ***

Sharing is Caring

You can leave a comment or share this post via Twitter or Facebook by clicking here.

26 Comments

Filed under Faith, Fire, human trafficking, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Whimsy

Stronger or Half-Dead

Chick-Fil-A & The Gay Dilemma

We have all heard this phrase:

“That which doesn’t kill you only makes your stronger”

Here is my version:

“That which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger…or leaves you half dead” —> click to tweet

How fantastic if things always worked out like the first phrase? You are faced with a painful & seemingly impossible circumstance. You go through something that takes all but the last drops or your strength & life from you. Once you get to the other side the life grows back stronger, deeper & full of confidence.

Great story. My experience has been that it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes situations & trials leave us laying on our backs staring blankly into the sky. There is no way we could ever survive that again. It hurt too much. Part of our heart died. Hope left & numbness set in.

We survive, but only to limp along half-dead.

Each of us have our battles. Maybe you thought you had your eating disorder under control & then all the old thoughts started to come back. You felt so betrayed & then your marriage fell apart. You work two jobs to get food into your family’s mouths…just to go hungry again next month. You allow yourself to want a spouse just in time to be passed over again.

It is true. You survived…but barely. They say that God is good, but you aren’t going to go through that again. You can’t handle it.

So, instead of getting stronger, we live half dead. We smile on cue behind all the well meaning chatter. Yet behind the pep talk we are hurting. Hurting so badly that some of us wish the situation had actually killed us.

There have been situations in my life where Jady & I have literally laid on the floor crying to God because it all felt so impossible. My need was too great & my strength was too small.

So, is the difference between getting stronger or walking half-dead? When we cling to the truth that the cross is enough, we get stronger. ( If you want to know why I think that, you can check out The Dirty Gospel series )

Mankind was not meant to walk around half-dead. We must risk again & we must live.

What Jesus did on the cross is enough to meet us in our place of need.  Our personal mistakes, the pain caused by another, wandering hopelessly & waiting for more pain to hit. Those places that seem like a time-bomb inside just waiting to go off – Jesus breaks in there. He died to bring breakthrough. Not just eternal life, but life abundantly. He comes and brings life to half-dead places.

For some of us it is the shadows of things that happened years ago. We have shut off and decided that the pain of feeling nothing is better than the pain of feeling another blow. When you find yourself walking around anxiously trying to avoid anything that could crack your fragile heart – risk on the cross again.

Grieve disappointment with Him. He can handle it. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, remember? We weren’t made to walk around half-dead. So dream again. Get stronger. Risk on God. it is always worth it. 

*** Want to get posts sent directly to your inbox a few times a week? Subscribe via email in the sidebar!***

Sharing is Caring

You can leave a comment or share this post via Twitter or Facebook by clicking here.

8 Comments

Filed under Faith, Fire, Uncategorized, Whimsy

Adoption … It’s a _______!

fb0e853de2430da1aa2a790c419f85c7

It’s a … NEW COUNTRY!  If you have been following Lark & Bloom for very long you may have come across some posts about adoption. You can read through them right here to get caught up.

This December marks four years since we started the process of trying to adopt. We began with Uganda, then moved to Ghana. Two weeks ago we learned that our agency is now closing their Ghana program.

Jady & I went back to the drawing board and asked ourselves the hard question. Do we still want to adopt?  The answer was overwhelmingly yes.

Nights were spent scouring programs both internationally and here in the United States. We considered every option…again. One program and agency stood out. We talked to them on the phone, got our questions answered, prayed a lot and made our decision.

We are adopting two children from Burundi!

In a lot of ways we are back at square one, but our hearts are very peaceful and excited to be moving forward. Unlike the two previous countries we were working with, Burundi is not dealing with government setbacks when it comes to adoptions.

So, we are filling out the paperwork and the ball is moving forward. If all goes smoothly we could bring our children home as early as this summer.

Lark & Bloom really isn’t a personal blog, so I am going to limit the number of posts I put up about adoption on here. I have however started a new blog, The Six Griffins, which will keep you updated on our adoption situation.

Check our our adoption blog —> The Six Griffins

Learn about ways to donate —> Funding Our Adoption

As always, I appreciate your prayers and thoughts as we keep working to bring our kids home. Your support and encouragement has been overwhelming in this process. The biggest thanks to each of you!

Sharing is Caring

You can leave a comment or share this post via Twitter or Facebook by clicking here.

3 Comments

Filed under Adoption, Global, Kiddos, My Life Thus Far

The Narrative of Grand Things and Ordinary Moments

c5e215f1e9246257d74f352ee3ec628f

via polyvore

Tomorrow morning I will pack up my suitcase and board a plane with my husband and another woman for Washington DC. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you what we will be doing.  Actually, let me back up even further. In addition to writing this nifty little blog, I also am a director for an anti-trafficking organization called UnBound.  Titles aside, I am a stay-at-home mom and my life as a writer and abolitionist are just my side hustle.

Why am I going to Washington? On Friday we have meetings with several members of Congress to talk to them about our “Your No Is Her Hope” campaign. Later  that day I will meet with delegates from almost every African country to educate them on human trafficking and UnBound’s work. Saturday my co-worker and I will be training DC public school counselors on human trafficking and how to spot it in their schools.

Sounds so impressive, doesn’t it?

Want to know a secret? It isn’t impressive. My life is just an ordinary life made up of ordinary days. Emails sent with typos, dinner flavored with too much salt, hours spent in preschool pickup lines and numerous trips to the grocery store. It is just a normal life.

This narrative that God writes within our stories is nothing incredible when broken down day-by-day. We don’t notice the small secrets that are woven into our errands, phone calls and family dinners. And yet when I tell you what I am going to be doing this weekend, I realize that something beautiful is happening in belly of my very normal stay-at-home mom life. The hours spend chatting with my kids in my minivan are deceptive.

In the middle of my seemingly uneventful days, my story is being written.

Grand acts never seem grand in the moment. They are simply hidden in the events of ordinary days. —> click to tweet.

I am beginning to learn the gift of average days. On their own they seem unimpressive and boringly simple. And yet, our lives are lived in one long succession of individual days. When we look back at their sequence we can see our destiny unfolding…

Perhaps your life seems like mine. Routine and average. Spilled coffee, dishes, bank statements, and unreturned phone calls. Let me encourage you. Don’t toss aside your ordinary days for within them lies your story.

*** Want to get posts sent directly to your inbox a few times a week? Subscribe via email in the sidebar! ***

Sharing is Caring

You can leave a comment or share this post via Twitter or Facebook by clicking here.

8 Comments

Filed under current events, Faith, human trafficking, Kiddos, My Life Thus Far, Politics, Uncategorized, Whimsy

7,000 reasons your uniqueness may be plagiarism

IMG_3475

I live in America where there is a continual conversation about one’s individuality. We love to take tests to see what our strengths and skills are. Shelves are full of books to help us discover our unique composition and  how to capitalize on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for self-awareness. According to Myers Briggs I am an ENTP, which pretty much nails me. Knowing who we are is essential to understanding what we were made to do and how we were made to do it, but it is also where the problem comes in.

What is the problem?

I think we are each put on this earth to accomplish a certain task. You can call it what you want – destiny, mission or calling. I believe that our being here serves a purpose and that we are each divinely made to see that accomplished. My own belief is that God hand-crafted each of us and therefore every life is of deep significance.

The flaw with this mindset is when we somehow believe that it means we are going to be stand-alone unique. Our territory of gifting can’t be shared with someone else or our purpose is no longer special.

Say I am a great baker and I meet another great baker in my town. Shoot. This won’t do. I then decide  that I should become the best cupcake baker to set myself apart. Along comes the massive cupcake trend. Gotta specialize and separate myself from the pack again. Now I only do sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan cupcakes…

Clearly I am not really a baker, but you get my point. This idea that we are the only one called to do what is in our heart keeps us constantly striving to find a new specialty. Every time I find a new blog that has a similar feel and perspective as mine it is tempting to throw in the towel.  Especially if it is better than mine. Bah, I’m not playing second fiddle. I am created for a unique mission and if they have this one covered then this must not really be my mission. And just like that I have convinced myself I need to find something new to be ‘unique’ at. If another person is doing a similar to me, then I must be doing the wrong thing.

Because I am one in a million. At least that’s what they say. 

I was at a conference in August and Jeff Goins said this:

” The earth has 7 billion people on it. If you are one in a million, then there are 7,000 people just like you.” 

Crap. I just lost my edge. And so did you.

Sure, they aren’t just like me. They probably aren’t from Texas, born on my same birthday, and they sure as heck better not be married to my husband. They are versions of me though. As much as it pains me to admit it, they are often better versions of me.

Thanks to the internet we have endless ways to compare and measure ourselves against others. That brilliant idea we have to be entirely original  is killed by a simple google search. We find blueprints of another’s dreams and ideas that make ours seem like plagiarism.

Flawed thinking would cause me to believe my mission and dream are taken. I need to find a new one now – finders keepers and all that. With a heavy heart I go back to the drawing board to sketch out a different version of myself. One that isn’t taken.

Only recently have I recognized this flawed thinking in myself. Another person with my same strengths and ambitions automatically becomes a threat. Why do I believe that unless I am unparalleled then I am not  profoundly meaningful?

There are over 3 million nurses and nearly 4 million teachers in the United States. Nothing profound or distinct about being 1 of 3,000,000. Unless you are the patient who depends on that one nurse’s hopeful smile. Or the student who decided to try college at the encouragement of that one teacher.

I’ve decided that being unique isn’t so important. Instead I am going to focus on being meaningful, helpful and kind. —> click to tweet. 

All of humanity desires to know they are special. Myself included. I am just changing my definition of what “special” means.

So, I am raising my glass to all of us. All of us who will put down the endless striving that drives us to fight for a piece of earth all to ourselves. Cheers to a movement of sharing our advantage in hopes that we can – together – make this world a better place. 

*** Want to receive posts in your inbox a few times a week? Subscribe via email in the sidebar! ***

Sharing is Caring

You can leave a comment or share this post via Facebook and Twitter by clicking here.

418 Comments

Filed under Faith, Fire, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Whimsy

A Haiku or Two

27d8026b1d269b7184be1195cc13af71

Robert Frost

Remember back in college when it was your job to read great works of literature? (Or maybe you are still in college, in which case you should probably know that Ramen Noodles aren’t actually a meal. Just FYI. ) You HAD to sit, read, think and discuss what you thought about a specific work. Those were the days and I miss them. Inspired by autumn, which always reminds me of school for some reason, I am trying to bring it back. Making time to read poems, classics and other things that wouldn’t normally make their way into my day.

It’s amazing how powerful a little poem can be. They aren’t filling me in on current events, giving tips on how to manage my time or advertising anything. They speak to basic human conditions. Love, war, death, nature, fear, joy, hope, family, courage…It’s nice to stop and think about the basics sometimes. So, I thought I’d share one of my favorites with you guys:

Fire & Ice by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to parish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

I’m sure you are each thinking this means a variety of different things. To me, this poem makes me think about the destructive nature of uncontrolled passion & hatred both. Each contains a deadly potential all its own.

Have any thoughts on it or favorite works of your own? Feel free to leave them in the comments. Those who do so in iambic pentameter get bonus points.

*** Want to get posts delivered to your inbox a few times a week? Subscribe by email in the sidebar! ***

1 Comment

Filed under Fire, Uncategorized, Whimsy

Brave

This November I am thankful for lots of things. I would show you my past few days of #ThankYouNov if it weren’t for some technical difficulties that I am having with my phone at the moment.

But, one thing I am thankful for is my friend Faith. She posted this a few days ago and it really resonated with me. I’m pretty sure you will like it too.

faith dwight

15867_641466394291_4917691_n

 

I want to know how to not be afraid –

how to jump with my eyes closed, like I did

when we were young,

When I believed that death was a thing

that happened to the old.

 

You were taller then (I’m sure of it)

and there were no specks of gray in your hair,

no wrinkles creased deep into the skin by your eyes

I thought we could rule the world –

or travel it, at least.

 

Instead, we have been mostly still, for years,

and fashioned our own little planet here,

in our Victorian terrace,

from blood and sweat and belly laughs

while we wrestle our boys on the floor,

while we teach them to be brave –

while we learn for ourselves

 

that brave doesn’t mean what it once did.

 

Brave means laying bare our bodies and our hearts,

and believing we…

View original post 7 more words

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized