Great Read: The Underground Girls of Kabul

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan written by: Jenny Nordberg

I’ve been reading a variety of books lately both fiction and non-fiction. I picked The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg because I’ve been wanting to learn more about cultures in the middle east as well as issues they may be facing. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this book, in fact, I think I was thinking it was going to be similar to Reading Lolita in Tehran – women helping other women in an underground type movement, but it was nothing like I expected.
It was incredible to see the lengths families would go to protect their reputation, and within that, how culture and society roll with the choices that are made, just acknowledging that these decisions have to be made for the sake of the family, whatever may happen.

There was a lot of discussion last year on what defines gender. Is it parts you are born with or how society defines boy vs. girl? I found it comical as my son was in his toddler/early elementary years because he was drawn to the most random things – favorite color? Pink for a good while. Favorite toys? We had a My Little Pony phase. I’d raise my eyebrows, but roll with it. We saw McD’s one too many times to get those My Little Ponies…and who can blame him, really? I LOVED them as a kid…It even gave me a chance to pull some of MY old toys out of the attic. Everything was a phase. I’ve always felt that if my kid was concerned about his sexuality in elementary school, then I had a problem. Kids are kids…or they should be to me.

But then I read this book…It didn’t change my feelings on how I’ve been handling favorite colors, tv shows, toys, etc. but it did make me wonder how gender as a whole works. I do believe that we are made with certain qualities that tend to “group” us into one category or another – women may be more nurturing…boys more destructible. (That being said, please note that I am fully aware that there are lots of destructible girls and nurturing boys)…but I’ve had my fill of stitches and broken bones that my friends with girls just have not had to deal with! I believe that God intended men to be one way and women to be another so that we could support and care for each other perfectly…and then there was sin which totally jacked up that situation.
In The Underground Girls of Kabul parents in some cases choose their children’s gender based on societal pressure. To have not had a boy by the third or fourth child, a family could be pitied or cursed. It tarnishes reputations, in some cases, leading to job loss.

So, they make their girl a boy.

Let that sink in.

At birth a female child will be born and the parents will say “It’s a boy!” Doctors will nod and go with it. Or at five, the parents will see that issues are piling up as they have not had a girl yet (or perhaps can’t get pregnant again)…so they will call in their daughter, and discuss transitioning them into a boy.
Then wrestle with the fact that one day the girl, who has been made into a boy by cutting their hair short, allowing them to wear pants and run around with other boys, will one day have to turn back into a girl (around puberty) so they can resume another societal norm.

This is an amazing read. Regardless of where you fall on ideas around gender, this book will definitely enlighten on multiple levels and reveal layers of questions with which to wrestle. What would I choose? What if I was the girl having to be a boy? So many questions, but not many answers…amazing that today these are issues that families have to deal with in Afghanistan. Granted it may not be everywhere or commonplace, but I would be intrigued to see the actual numbers if families could admit it without retribution.
If you choose to read this, let me know your thoughts – what did you wrestle with (or did you)? I’m appreciative of Jenny Nordberg for boldly asking questions that are difficult to answer – and seeking the stories from those willing to share them with us.

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Snow Cones and Tardies.

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Today was rough…it ended on a super high note, but the beginning was tough. If you want a clue as to how rough – I’ve had a glass of wine and am now consuming coffee (not that coffee! I am staying true to my word…but oh was it HARD today!)

I should probably start with yesterday…because that set the tone for today. Friday’s prior to holidays are usually busy for my department. Typically, we are gathering food together (aka shopping our local mega club store) for a company cookout. The day of the cookout is spent organizing and then playing food runner (from grill to meeting room) for several hours. Yesterday, half our department (all of 1) was dealing with product for our upcoming trade show and the other half (me) was dealing with setting up for today’s giant indoor picnic. It would’ve been easy…had I not forgotten that this was also the same day that I was supposed to have snack for my 6 year old’s soccer team.

So I picked up snacks and had the goal of setting up for our night crew’s dinner and then jetting up to the soccer match for the last 5 minutes of the game. I kind-of imagined swooping in at the last minute and all the kids surrounding me cheering…

There would be no cheering…because there was no snack…because I was still on the interstate when my husband called to see how close I was to the field…and I was still a good 20 minutes away.

Cue this morning…I fell asleep last night prior to working out…prior to making sure all the dishes were in the dishwasher. Fabulous. So I got up and then hustled the boys out of bed. They ate, I dressed and then fussed at them to get dressed…and in the car…and my lovely 6 year old, who is very rules focused, was quite content to have a long running argument with his older brother…which caused us to be slightly late. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal…

BUT…

I was so tired of being late I opted to try an alternate route to the school.

And missed the turn.

Causing us to be 5 minutes later.

And then there were the snow cones…

Why do we do snow cones in elementary school – I mean it’s sugar and ice…sugar and FOOD COLORING and ice…Red Dye 40 anyone??

I digress.

So we pull up late to the school and the kids are like, “Mom, don’t forget about the snow cones.” Mind you they’ve been talking about them the ENTIRE ride to school…missed turns and all…I have cash so I’m like, “Fear not kids, I have the money – I’m just going to pay the school and you’ll be good.to.go.”

Yeah..no.

So I get the kids checked in – tardy slips in had they head off to class.

The school administrator is looking at me because she’s about to leave and so I say, “I’ll wait, I just have to pay for snow cones.”

And she says, “We aren’t taking money at the front office for snow cones. We sent home a note. The kids had to bring it with them.”

Longer story slightly shorter…there was no way to break the $20 and I felt like a jerk. Not only did I send my kids to their classrooms thinking they were going to be getting the snow cones, I also had the joy of knowing they’d be told by administrators that they weren’t getting snow cones because mom didn’t have exact change. And I was late to school that day.

I’m not going to lie. I totally called my husband and cried. Over snow cones and tardiness.

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My husband offered to go up to the school and make demands on my behalf…which I totally appreciated, but also knew would do no good. I’m not mad at the school. I remember reading the sheet about not sending up $$ for snow cones during the school day…but apparently I didn’t read it clearly…or I forgot what I read. I’m okay with rules. They are there for a reason and I imagine last year they spent a good amount of time running $ to kids who’d forgotten their snow cone money…and I’m sure one of those times it was my husband doing it on my behalf.

I truly cried out of frustration at myself for not being good enough. Not being responsible enough to be organized and together enough to be the mom that can pull everything off.

I’m a working mom and should be able to get it together. It’s not like I didn’t know about the snow cones the night before…Lincoln TOOK NOTES on the types of snow cones he could buy at school.

My kids survived…obviously. This is a first world problem if I ever heard one…and I survived. My day picked up and ended on a high note from a conversation with a person I highly respect.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 10.24.57 PMAnd then my library emailed me and told me the audio book I requested titled “For the Love” by Jen Hatmaker had been released to me…and I smiled. God was smiling. The full title of the book is: “For the Love, Fight for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards”.

See, I’m going to fail. I’m going to disappoint others and most of all, I’m going to disappoint myself.

I hate the feeling that comes with it, but I also know that it’s a temporary feeling. My kids will get over it and I will too. I will do my best to have exact change next time…

But I will also give myself grace. I am not perfect. I never will be. It’s not the first time I have disappointed my kids and it won’t be the last. I’m not really sure why this is the time I was reduced to tears, but I imagine it won’t be the last time either.

My friends reminded me that while it was frustrating, I thumb_IMG_1296_1024wasn’t a bad mom. There were a dozen things I COULD have done that would put me in that category, but truthfully, forgetting snow cone $ was not one of them. And another person reminded me that my kids are not going to remember this – probably ever. It’s not a scarring event. It’s a one-off. They are going to instead remember me playing with them, helping them, and encouraging them.

So for all the moms out there thinking that they are terrible moms because of the things they have done or forgotten to do – know that I’m right there with you…but even more than that know your kids love you. Give yourself the grace you deserve…and if that isn’t working, give me a call. I have a friend who’s husband is a police officer and he will gladly tell you of moms who have done much much worse…and while it’s not pretty…it will make you realize that you are a good mom…even if you don’t feel like it at the moment:)

Crock Pot Goodness

IMG_3033I LOVE recipes. I am not a chef that can just toss things together. I like knowing that if I follow steps, the dinner will taste good (well – most of the time!).

I put this together this week because I had some chicken breast in the fridge and wanted to use them before they went bad. I bought some pesto and had a can of diced tomatoes in the pantry – super easy, pretty quick and my kids LOVED it!

4 chicken breasts

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4 tbsp of pesto (This just needs to cover each chicken breast so you can use a little more or a little less pending the size of the chicken breast)

1 can of diced tomatoes (28oz is what I had on hand)

Place the chicken in the crock pot and put 1 tbsp of pesto on each chicken breast, then cover with the can of diced tomatoes. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Once you’ve cooked it – sprinkle a little bit of shredded mozzarella on top and then allow it to melt.

We shredded the chicken and served it with long grain, wild rice and green beans.

Update: We turned the above into tacos & then I made it for a second time. Instead of using the pesto I chose diced tomatoes with green chilies in them. Another quick and easy dinner! 

 

Life Hack & the Herb Pesto Salmon

I was going through Publix and in the mood for Salmon. They had giant long fillets for sale as well as the usual individual portions. I inquired about ways to make salmon when it’s on a long fillet. The gentleman behind the counter went on and on about cedar planks and grilling. I did not have time to grill or feel the desire to find a cedar plank…it was Friday evening after all and I was ready to be home, with the kids, eating and drinking  a glass of wine!

Lucky for me, the conversation continued by leading me to a free booklet which held salmon recipes perfect for my oven!

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I flipped through the pamphlet and while there were several that sounded delicious, the one that stood out was the Herb Pesto Salmon due to the fact that I had a bottle of pesto at home. The remaining ingredient list was quick (and would allow me to make it AGAIN withOUT purchasing anything) so I went with it!

Kellen, my 6 year old, LOVES food. And when I say LOVES I mean LOVES!!! He is continually asking us when the next meal is and by reminding us that there are more meals left to be had in the day. A perfect example is today – we had lunch at home (sandwiches); we then went to a shower where there was food. He ate a lot. Then we came home and he kindly reminded me that the food at the shower was a snack so we still needed to have dinner. As a toddler I would find boxes of (unopened) food and cans under his bed….

So Kellen opted in to helping mom cook! First I had him juice the lemon. I helped a little bit, but he did the bulk of the work. His little hands had trouble at first making the handles pull together, but with a little help from mom we did it!

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Next I had him scoop out the Dijon Mustard and the Pesto together and mix it with the lemon juice. They we added a little salt and pepper.

He was pretty impressed with the size of the salmon and made me flip it over so he could see the scales. The recipe called for skin off, but the butcher told me he thought salmon with skin on was better (and I agree).

Now for the life hack!

I was out of baking sheets – which means the only one I have was dirty:) I scrounged around the kitchen to figure out what I could use. Normally, I would pull out my stone to cook on, but the salmon was too big (and I didn’t want to cut it!).

I looked under the counter and found a cookie cooling wrap…I then remembered that I had aluminum foil (which I was supposed to put on the baking sheet) and presto! I wrapped the aluminum foil around the cooling rack and the salmon fit perfectly!

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So hack finished, I then let Kellen put the pesto mixture on the salmon and then I put it in the oven.

Literally 15 minutes later it was done! I added green beans and Long Grain Wild Rice to it and suddenly we had a meal!

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A seriously long piece of salmon!

The kids and hubby gave it 2 thumbs up (and Tim might have dug a piece of salmon off the sheet before I had a chance to get a good pic:) and even better news – there was plenty for leftovers too!

Yet another reason I LOVE Publix!

Ingredients:
Nonstick aluminum foil
1 lemon, for juice
3 tbps basil pesto sauce
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 salmon fillets (about 1 1/2lbs)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Prep:
Preheat oven to 375F, line baking sheet (or cookie sheet!) with foil.
Squeeze lemon for juice (1 tsp).
Check fish for bones (or have the butcher do that for you!).

Steps:
1. Combine pesto, mustard, and lemon juice. Season fish with salt and pepper; place on baking sheet.

2. Top each fillet evenly with pesto mixture; bake 14-16 minutes or until 145F (or opaque and separates easily). Serve.

 

*This is not a promotional post – I did not get any type of monetary contribution for this – I just love Publix THAT much…and the meal was pretty awesome too:)

 

What’s the Beachbody Health Bet?

Lately, I’ve been talking to a lot of friends and family about the Beachbody Health Bet. It’s a bit silly but I LOVE what Beachbody has been doing the last few months! A lot of people look at Beachbody and think Insanity, P90X and while all of those fabulous programs DID come out of Beachbody – it’s not what they’re all about.

Yes, they are about fitness.

Yes, they are about health.

But truly, their desire is to reduce obesity in America and across the world – and if we get down to the nitty gritty – they’d like to get rid of it altogether. They want it so bad that they are going out of the box to try and make it happen.

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Day 17 Only Happens When You Start at Day One!

The Beachbody Health Bet
Beachbody believes that if you get into a rhythm of health and fitness you will actually stick with it…but it’s getting people to take the first step that is SO HARD!

This might make it a little easier🙂

Beachbody is betting $1 million dollars that you will fall in love with getting healthy.

 

 

The bet is simple:

Work Out + Drink a Superfood Shake = Win a Piece of Up to $3 MILLION DOLLARS!

You read that right! Up to $3 MILLION DOLLARS [insert fun evil laugh and put your pinky out too:)]

It can’t be THAT easy!

Um, yeah, it is:)

And for fun – let’s run the numbers:)*

If 25,000 people participate in the Beachbody Health Bet Challenge. Think about it, lots of people SAY they are going to commit, but usually a SMALL percentage actually do it – so let’s say maybe 10% make it all the way to the end – that is 2,500 people…splitting a potential of $3M!

10% of 25,000 people = 2,500 people

$3Million split between 2,500 people = $1,200

What would you do with $1,200 extra in your wallet??

The actual requirements:CoachShakeWorkout

  • You need to join my Health Bet Challenge (starts Sept. 5)
  • You have to commit to eating healthy. And the way this is measured is by adding Shakeology to your nutrition plan. You must drink Shakeology (and track it in our group with a selfie) at least 5 days a week.
  • You have to commit to working out at least 3 times a week and log it into our group.

Voila – that is it!

So what are you waiting for? I’m so pumped I have actually gotten some smaller prizes to reward the folks who join my challenge group as we go through each week!

If you want to join in fill out this challenge group application and then I’ll reach out to you ASAP:) The best thing is to remember you won’t be alone. Taking the first step is the hardest, but once you do, you’ll be so glad! The group of women and men that are gathering for this Beachbody Health Bet Challenge are amazing people on their own health and fitness journeys!

Put Down the Patron!

First off, let me just say that I have friends that work for Patron and I care about them. A lot. However, when my parents and I go to their local Mexican restaurant they are CONSTANTLY ordering Patron margaritas. All. The. Time.

A few weeks ago I looked at my mom and said, “I love you, but you are sending my friends’ kids to college – not mine!” and although laughing it sort-of struck a nerve with my mom…and when we’re together she will now order another margarita featuring a different brand…like Hornitos or Tres (I’m sure you really wanted to know!).

Now, for those of you who don’t know, I work for a local beverage distributor and I LOVE my job. I love supporting my brands…and it KILLS me when my family uses a brand we don’t distribute. They roll their eyes when I make comments (let it be known that while I do give them crap about it – I also am not super psycho – if my mom lived by Patron, obviously I’m not going to get into a bar room brawl about it…but she might hear some verbal digs…I’m loyal – what can I say? 🙂

Okay – so what is this really about? Well, I was driving home today and I started thinking about our finances. This is not unusual…I have a long drive home and my brain tends to wander through various items while I stare at cars on the interstate.

I was thinking about this side hustle I have going on…building a side business while I work full time is a little crazy. I honestly thought I would never be able to do it, but I have a vision of not being held hostage by debt and so I’m pushing through:) Anyways, I started thinking about Starbucks. I LOVE Starbucks… In fact, back in the day, my parents had Starbucks stock and I would joke that my stops at Starbucks were just “supporting my inheritance.”

I was suddenly struck. I’m supporting someone else’s kids college funds by going to Starbucks. And that’s awesome – I’m all about giving back…but right now I need to be focused on my kids. They’re young…but time is FLYING by…

And so I am making this pledge in front of God and WordPress and you fine folks that have opted to read this blog today…I’m GIVING UP Starbucks…now if someone happens to throw me a gift card for a birthday or something I will be more than happy to indulge…but as for my hard earned dollars…They are no longer going to be visiting my favorite coffee house.

I have big dreams. I have big goals. My kids have bigger goals (my 8 year old wants to be a paid writer…that follows the Falcons around the nation…in a camper).

What are you hanging onto today that is keeping you from going after your dreams? I’ll be honest, hanging onto Starbucks as silly as it may sound is a roadblock for me.

That changes today.

So long Starbucks! I bid you adieu!Signature_Pink

 

 

Mood, Music & Me

Music has been a huge part of my life…IMG_3018

Age 3…I played harmonica to the cows in our backyard…and apparently they liked it because they would line the fence and listen.

Ages 6 – 10…We made multiple treks to Cincinnati to visit family. Long, 8 hour trips. I had an amazing Walkman with cassette tapes that ranged from kids records to Chicago (my mom’s favorite band). I also joined chorus and felt chills as we would sing “I’m proud to be an American”.

Music continued for me in middle and high school as I played trumpet and then explored other avenues…like the time I wrote a play based on my high school experience and tried to develop my own theme song…and yes I may have sung that song into a tape recorder and then replayed it for my mom. And she might have laughed aloud after hearing the first stanza…all in love, of course:)

I love the way music transports you to various times and places. It swirls around you and makes you tear up, or laugh, or a variety of other emotions.

Music moves me.

Healthychildren.org states, “An analysis of 5 studies on music for depression concluded that music therapy is not only acceptable for depressed patients, but it actually helps improve their moods. Music has proven useful in helping patients with serious medical illnesses such as cancer, burns, and multiple sclerosis who are also depressed. If it can help in these situations, it may be able to help you and your loved ones experience more positive moods.”

I believe it. I have had times where I have needed to put on music to change my mood – or to focus me. When I attempted running I needed music that would keep me motivated and pumped up. When I’m writing a sad section of a story, I want music that gets me in that mindset. I’m loving the my new workout, Country Heat, because the music is upbeat and not twangy so I find myself singing as we go which makes me more inclined to continue it to the end (there have been yoga videos I’ve done where the music was too crazy for me so I was more inclined to turn it off than to finish).

How do you utilize this knowledge to your advantage? Put together song lists so that you can instantly grab them when you need them. Happy songs – motivational songs – inspiring songs. When you’re at work, working out, driving to the store you can put them on and be transported to a happier place no matter the time  of day.
Not sure what moves you? Spotify is fantastic. You can go to their website or app and click on the mood your in (or the mood you WANT to be in) and instantly it will play music that falls into that category. Some of their categories include: Brain Food, Celebration, Chill, Mood Booster, Happy Hits, Songs to Sing in the Shower, Calm Down, the Cure for Loneliness, etc. In those moments where you feel like you can’t get out of your funk – remember – you have tools around you to help…it might not get rid of it completely, but it can definitely improve it!Signature_Pink

Claiming Truth Over Lies

IMG_2841I was talking to a friend on my drive home from the office a few days ago. She was telling me that she is going on a trip and is already feeling nervous. She is going to be around women that have always intimidated her. I found myself uttering the words that I am constantly having to tell myself – and in God’s fabulous humor – words I need to hear more often because I tend to forget my own advice:)

The truth she was telling herself is that she is not equal to these women – they are farther along in their careers, have done more in life, have better lives – that whole “the grass is always greener and looks that way because we only put the BEST of ourselves on our Social platforms”…The truth of the matter is that we ALL have ups and downs and NO ONE should feel less than due to another person’s success or status…

But how do we make that a reality? I mean, seriously Courtney, I feel that way ALL THE TIME!

We have to CLAIM the TRUTH. For me it means recognizing that I’m a child of God. He created ME…The timing had to be perfect or I’d be someone else…I could be a BOY or I could HATE to read! But no, mom and dad did things at the right moment and they got ME (thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk who puts this way more elegantly than I just did:)

So what does that have to do with claiming the truth? Well, recognizing that you are YOU and no one else. You have a specific set of skills, qualities, character, etc. that make you unique.

When thoughts come to our mind we need to offset them. We’ve trained our brains over time to believe what we say…and if you’re a parent you may have experienced this with your kids. “Mom, I CAN’T do it!” and my response is: “Get rid of the word CAN’T!” Why do I say that to my kids? Because if they say they can’t that is the word their brain will hold on to and they will begin with a defeatist attitude.

A few months ago I was listening to a podcast and the gist of it was that we need to speak words of affirmation over ourselves and speak with a positive mindset. EVERY. DAY. We need to retrain our brains to think in the positive INSTEAD of in the negative. In other words…when our brain tells us one thing…we are going to voice the TRUTH. Out loud if you need to.

When your brain says: You are worthless. You will never amount. Respond with: NO! That’s not the truth. I AM good enough.

When your brain says: You are a horrible mother. You were late dropping them off AGAIN. You were late picking them up AGAIN. You are terrible – you forgot to send in that paper work. RESPOND WITH: NO! That’s NOT the truth: I AM a good mother.

When your brain says: Why can’t you just get it TOGETHER. The house is a mess. The laundry hasn’t been done – you are TERRIBLE. Respond with the TRUTH: NO! I AM a good wife.

When your brain says: Wow, you really sucked at that presentation! You really messed up in that meeting… Respond with: NO! I AM a good [plug in job title].

At the end of the day, our brain likes to lie. It likes to run on the emotions of the moment. That isn’t always good. A few years ago I made a MAJOR mistake at the office. It was heart-breaking for me because I had worked really hard, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter. And when the project completely fell apart I made a mistake…a lot of mistakes. I was written up and it CRUSHED me. After a few weeks my boss pulled me aside and said, “You need to quit walking around like the world is coming to an end. Hold your head up. It’s over, you need to move on.” It was true. I felt like I would never gain upper management’s trust again. (The old mantra ‘You’re only as good as you’re last…) But here I am, several years later in the same position at the same company. I had to readjust my mindset. I had to realize that that was one moment in time. I had been holding onto it like I’d just written my death sentence and it was TAKING ME OVER.

Ridiculous!

Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

I will never understand why my brain wants me to focus on the negative over the positive. What I do know is that I need to focus on the positive more than ever. We are in a world that loves negativity. It sells. It draws attention. I need to speak TRUTH over myself so that I can speak TRUTH over my family.

There is power in the words we speak.

Speak truth today. Take it a day at a time. I promise you will see a change…and if you find that you’ve stopped – just start again:)

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Honor Your Father & Mother

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 Exodus 20:12

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

This week’s sermon impacted me a tremendous amount. I’m not positive what exactly it was, but I left feeling encouraged about being a parent…and intrigued in how much more I can do as a daughter.

Below is the sermon – I felt like it is better shared than me trying to reinterpret it for you.

 

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Clarity

I’ve been trying to clarify my thoughts on what happened 2 weeks ago for awhile. I wanted to write a blog post about it, but then, in my head, I was like “Who am I to write about it?”

Who am I?

What happened?

MikeAmyRidderingFriday, January 15, 2016 a man I met while I was in Burkina Faso was killed in a terrorist attack. I had just arrived home when I received a text from a friend from work letting me know about a tweet for Westerners to stay out of Ouga, the capital city of Burkina Faso. I thought it was odd and texted him back saying I’d known there had been a strike a few weeks back…so maybe it was related to that?

Then I jumped online. My feed was blowing up with news of Burkina, the terrorist attack and the fact that know one could find Mike. There’d been a phone call to Amy, Mike’s wife, from a pastor who ended up with his phone, but then it went dead. Mike’s wife was at the orphanage they run together in Yako – 2 hours from Ouga.

The group I went to Burkina with texted and Facebooked each other while we awaited news. The more we read the news stories coming out, the more grim it seemed. Yet we held out hope. Mike is a man of God – doing AMAZING things for the children, widows and families of Burkina. There had to be a miracle.

But there wasn’t. In the midst of our prayers, our searching (okay – truly my fervent searching of Youtube amateur footage and tweeting random news folks ‘on the scene’)…through it all Mike was already in Heaven with Jesus. Saturday morning we saw Amy’s post and suddenly the heaviness of grief was upon us. It hits everyone in weird ways. I’m not a crier…but when it comes to daughters missing their fathers, or really any child without a parent – it hits home to me. I feel like I grieved when Princess Diana died…not because I knew her (I didn’t!) but because she had two kids who were growing up without a mom they loved dearly…and here we are again…not only are Mike’s 4 children growing up without him, but the dozens and dozens of children whom he impacted on a daily basis – the kids who called him Papa…now they were feeling the pain, I’d once felt.

It sucks.

Saturday sucked.

Then Sunday came. Things were not better. Tears were still shed. Yet, we had an immediate reminder that our hope is not found in the now, but in what is yet to come. Mike did amazing things with Amy at the Yako Orphanage…Amy is going to continue the amazing things they did together. That makes me overjoyed!

Prior to this attack I’d already been talking to Tim about going back. He really wanted me to go to Haiti first because he fell in love with the country and her people when he went with Revolution…but I feel the same way about Burkina. I imagine we’d both feel the same way with our roles reversed…and so I want Tim to come with me. The next trip hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m praying about my part.

Lincoln is still intent on going as well:) He wrote our Compassion child, “See you in 4 years!” That is when he will be 12 and we will do a Compassion family trip. I know I freak a lot of people out by talking about going back, especially in the midst of terror that is so fresh, but I can’t help it. It was part of our discussion as we awaited the news of our friend. We’d only just met him, but the impact was profound. We all agreed, trips are in our future. Not everyone will agree with it and that’s okay. God puts a call on our life that we have to answer and no one else can make that decision. Wisdom plays a part (our church bumped the last Burkina trip in October to Christmas due to issues within the country) and we will take all of it to heart.

YakoOrphanageAt the end of the day I want to look at my kids and let them know that there was nothing that would keep me from doing what God asks of me…just as my prayer for them is that they will always follow God’s will for their life. I have several friends who are doing a mission trip called “World Race”. They are traveling across the world and going to 11 countries in 11 months. I imagine their parents were a bit freaked out to find that their children were traveling to Asia, Africa and other countries…not for a few weeks, but for an entire year! It’s scary – but so is being outside of God’s will…and that’s a place I will never ever want to find myself.

I do not know what God has planned for Tim and I  – in Burkina Faso or in Haiti – but I know we will continue to seek God’s will for our lives and the lives of our boys…and we will go where He leads us.

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