Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas With A Purpose

There are 25 days until Christmas.

How does that make you feel?
 Rushed? Excited? Overwhelmed? Busy?

 I get such a range of emotions when I think about this special holiday. I love Christmas and look forward to it every year. I love the cold weather, twinkling lights, nativity scenes, hot cocoa, and carols. I love baking gifts in the kitchen, making homemade ornaments with my girls, and reading the Christmas story as a family.

 BUT at the same time I get a knot in my stomach when I think about the American version of  Christmas.  A time of materialism, overspending, busyness, traffic jams, to do lists, expectations, selfishness and  stress. The statistics themselves are mind boggling.
Every year Americans spend atleast $450 billion dollars on Christmas.
Let that just sink in for a minute...
WOW that is a lot of zeros spent on a day we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

If that doesn't register how about the fact that to provide clean, available drinking water to every person on the planet it would only cost about $10 billion. 
The first time I read that it really put into perspective how crazy ridiculous our culture is about ourselves and STUFF.

2 Years ago I first saw this video and it has totally changed my outlook on Christmas, not at all saying I am perfect or don't get distracted so easily to the twinkling allure of stuff... thinking presents and activities will make me and my kids happy. That if I am generous to just give stuff to my family and friends then thats the meaning of Christmas, right?

Join with me in having purpose in your gift giving this year. Take some (or even most) of your holiday funds and GIVE. Instead of buying more gifts and things we really don't need, give something to someone that will change their life forever. Then take all that free time you have not rushing around shopping and spend it together as a family. For us SixtyFeet is what God has put on our hearts and we are partnering with them on something awesome so read below and see what God's doing.

Dare to Dream
What if the youngest, most vulnerable, most desperate children at M1 and the other facilities didn’t have to be there? What if they could live in a place filled with hope, where they could grow to know and love God, where they would be deeply cared for, where they could receive an education and have a future? What if…

Since SixtyFeet first began, we’ve dreamed of purchasing land and building a home so we can remove the most vulnerable children who live in the M facilities. We can all agree, these children shouldn’t be in these conditions.

Late last year, we had a matching donation to raise funds so we could acquire land. The land was to be used as the site for a home where the youngest and most vulnerable children at M1 could live in a loving, nurturing family-like environment. Some of you may be wondering what happened to that.

Well, we were blown away by your generosity, as usual, and you sailed past the $10,000 match raising a total of $30,000. That money, unfortunately is still sitting in the bank – set aside and earmarked for the home we so very much want to build.

Various obstacles prevented us from moving forward with our original plans (we’re learning that sometimes we just need to be still and wait on the Lord). So that’s what we’ve been doing. But we never gave up hope. Ever since then, we have been praying that we would be able to raise the remaining funds to start this home.

Recently, several incredible donors have stepped forward to offer a whopping $60,000 as a matching gift in order to make this dream a reality. Yes, that was not a typo and you read it correctly. Every dollar we are able to raise between today and December 31, 2011 – up to $60,000 – will be matched, dollar for dollar. 

So what does this mean for SixtyFeet and the children? With the $30,000 that was raised last year, we are hoping and praying that by January we will have $150,000 in order to purchase land, build a home and have a place where we can nurture these precious children. But we’re not just thinking land and a home. We’re thinking bigger… way bigger – as in community. We want to build something sustainable.

Given the size of this gift, we also pray we can use a portion of the funds to expedite our plans to remove and house many of the older children at the M facilities. We hope to establish multiple homes for boys and girls 10 and older where they can live with up to 20 other children and be mentored by young adults, who themselves have been in similar situations but who now have a heart to give back and serve.

So as we enter this holiday season, please dare to dream with us. Dare to dream of the eternal impact this will have in the Kingdom and in the lives of the children of M. Dream of the children who may arise from these homes. The leaders, the doctors, the pastors, the educators. All of whom may ultimately come from M and go on to serve and do amazing things in the name of Christ. Just imagine it.

To donate to this amazing cause, to have your donation matched dollar for dollar, and to make a big difference this Christmas, click HERE

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for:

-A sweet little girl who finds her way into my bed in the morning and asks me to scratch her back. 

- Sweet smiles and hugs from my littlest sleepy head when I go in her room in the morning to get her up

- A wonderful husband who loves me and our girls sacrificially. 

- The love of my heavenly Father whose loves me despite of me and whose grace abounds. 

This list could truly be pages long but I just wanted to jot down a few things I was specifically thinking about this morning. 

Happy Thanksgiving!
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Our thanks tree

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Re-focus


OK so even though I don't think Thanksgiving is all about turkey nor is Christmas about Santa, I did think this was funny and a good ice breaker for my thoughts .

I am a firm believer that all Christmas decor and energy should be harnessed until at least the day after Thanksgiving. Don't get me wrong I LOVE Christmas and I am excited as anyone to bust out my holiday music and Christmas cookie cutters but seriously where did Thanksgiving go?

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday and I feel like it is always overshadowed by Christmas. What a sweet time it is to slow down and truly thank God for our blessings and then pray that He works in our hearts to take those blessings and give generously to those in need.
LOVE this quote source
It feels like when we rush through November with our eyes so focus on Christmas we are missing out on a blessed season that can be used to prepare our hearts for the wonderful celebration of Jesus' coming to earth. My prayer is that God would let me just slow down and take this time to reflect on His goodness and that He would cultivate in me a heart of worship. That He would ready my spirit to celebrate the gift of His son and in result not be so easily distracted or caught up in what the world tells us the holidays should be about.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
Psalm 107:1

Friday, November 11, 2011

Look Who's Walking Now!

Last week our little Zoë really started taking off! She is walking all over the house now and getting more and more steady on her feet! The expression on her face in this picture is just priceless, she was SO excited and every time we clapped for her she sat down and clapped too. I am sure will be running after her big sis any day now. It's hard to believe how fast the past 14 months have gone and that my little baby is not so little anymore. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall Fun

Carving Pumpkins, Zoë loved getting messy and trying to eat it.

The finished product, a kitty per Evelyn's request
Annual costume party with our play group
Carnival fun
S mores in the backyard
Pumpkin Finger painting 
Local Farm trip to get a pumpkin and see the animals
Caramel Apples

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It's been two months since my heart was changed forever. I have a little notebook with a ton of half written thoughts about days and experiences from Uganda that I wanted to remember. This is one that truly opened my eyes and changed my perspective. 

Our night started around 10:30pm when Moses came to pick my friend Christy and I up for hospital duty. "R", a boy from one of the remand homes had been in the hospital for a week already and the UG Sixty Feet team had been taking turns staying with him all day and night. We all wanted to bless them and at least take a few nights off there hands, I was nervous but I knew God wanted me to go. We drove through the busy streets of Kampala while Moses shared his heart for SixtyFeet and a little about how God had brought him to where he was now. Listening to his story I was in awe of the perseverance and devotion God had blessed him with. Moses is completely sold out for Christ and the crazy thing it just seems so natural to him to give every ounce of his being to God's work. 

We arrived and immediately I knew this facility was vastly different than any we had back home.  We walked up towards the pediatric ward at the top of the hill and passed a building that Moses pointed out as the triage area. He told us the first night 5 babies died. 5. We entered a set of metal doors and came inside a dimly lit room . It was much different than I expected and what kept running through my mind was a perfect setting to an old horror film.  The room was full of metal cribs covered with mosquito netting. Babies, toddlers, and young children filled these beds while their families attempted to sleep on mats on the concrete floor. Looking up, the ceiling was exposed wooden beams and at close look there were gaps around the edges that opened to the outside.  
"R" was in the only private room that I saw. This room was made up of 3 free standing walls and the top was open to the rest of the large shared room. Inside there were two hospital beds and a small sink. "R" slept on one bed and the other was for whomever was staying with him for the night. There was a round bucket that sat under one of the beds that was used for washing the soiled laundry. The recently washed clothes were draped across the bed rails attempting to dry in the damp Ugandan air.  Sweet "R" was resting on his bed and aroused when we came in. He had just started eating solid food again a couple days prior and had developed a very big appetite, whenever he was awake he wanted to eat some more. We all helped him up and we changed his diaper, clothes and bedding. We were out of diapers so Moses had to leave to go to the store to buy some more and since all of his clothes were still damp Christy gave her extra shirt for him to have something dry to wear. We sat together and let "R" listen to music on Christy's phone until he seemed to be tired again and then we helped lay him back in his bed. He dosed off for a little while until Moses returned with the diapers. After a brief lesson on what to do if "R" had a one of his seizures he left and we were on our own! 

The hospital is so short staffed that at night all the staff leaves except 1 nurse! After getting him settled again I took my trusty flashlight and went on search for a bathroom. After multiple attempts down a very dark hallway I decided to just hold it and wait till morning. Christy and I talked for a while in between helping to settle "R" back to sleep a few times. He was pretty restless and kept trying to get out of bed so we sat and rubbed his back and sang songs to him which helped calm him down. When he was quiet a while we decided to try and rest ourselves. We got cozy in our little twin hospital bed and I laid there praying for "R", hoping he wouldn't have a seizure because quite honestly I don't think we could find that 1 nurse if we even needed to. I looked up at the ceiling and could see a swarm of mosquito's circling around the dim light and I was trying to fight off the thoughts of getting malaria because we didn't have a mosquito net. Then in the corner of the room above the window I saw movement and I freaked out. There was a mouse and now he was climbing down the wall and down the window curtain..... So now both Christy and I were wide awake and trying to keep an eye on this little unwanted guest. We spent the next hour or two intensely watching the window making sure we knew where he was at all times. There were a few close calls that we thought he was literally going to jump right into our bed but then he finally decided to take his leave and we finally felt like we could rest a little. 

Laying in the quiet I could hear the sounds coming from the other room. Babies crying and coughing so much they were gasping for air. It was so hard to hear such pain and desperation and I couldn't do a thing about it.  The remainder of the night we dozed off and on between jumping out of bed to keep our little guy from trying to climb out. In the morning our ride came bringing the young man who was there to help for the day and we said bye to "R", I thanked God for how much better he was doing since he had first arrived (read about it here and here) and hoped he wouldn't need to stay there much longer. 

Leaving in the daylight brought new thoughts and observations. There were lines of people sitting around waiting to be seen, entire families living at the hospital while a sick family member was there. Almost immediately after we pulled away from the hospital and towards the busy down town area the first shop I saw was selling wooden coffins... and lined up along the front were rows of tiny little wood boxes the size for infants and toddlers... thinking back to what Moses had said about the first night it hit my stomach like a brick. Children were dying, mothers were burying their babies everyday and many for easily treatable illnesses. 

I remembered the last time I was in the hospital with my daughter Evelyn, she was really sick with Rotavirus. We were in the hospital for 5 days and at times I was really scared but we were blessed that they could just hook her up to an IV to get her what she needed. We had a large room with a TV, comfortable beds, available staff, clean linens and clothes, plenty of diapers and wipes, good food, and plenty of medicine and clean instruments. I remembered the silly things I complained about... being "bothered" too much and the remote not working for the television. I pray that I will never complain again about US healthcare, despite it's own issues nothing compares to that night and the reality of millions across the world with no access to decent healthcare.