Tag Archives: family

My husband read a quote on Facebook today:

“I was going to quit all my bad habits in 2017, but then I remembered nobody likes a quitter.”

Ha ha!  That quote speaks to what many of us are thinking about as the calendar changes to a new year.  We want renewal and change but our good intentions often aren’t fulfilled.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am kind of a New Year’s Resolution geek.  And my family gets to entertain my obsession with goal setting just because they love me and don’t really have a choice.  I only subject them to this once a year–when we do our family New Year’s Resolution/Goal-Setting night.

All kidding aside, I do think there are some great benefits for taking the time to work through goal-setting as a family; specifically two:

  1. Our kids learn the habit of self-reflection and the practice of change.   It is actually quite easy to move through life without looking back to analyze what we has worked for us and what we can improve upon.  Successful businesses do this annually (or even quarterly). They review the numbers or the growth they are trying to measure and make changes accordingly.  Why not do this with ourselves and our families?  In seeing what did or didn’t work last year we can then work on changing ourselves going forward.  I want our kids to learn the gift of self-reflection.
  2.  Our kids learn how to set concrete goals and steps for achieving  them. We have all heard how the road to bleep is paved with good intentions.  Well, I would love our children to learn the art of actual change and be able to look back on the year and see how their steps toward improvement made a positive impact on their lives. I want them to feel empowered in their lives with the ability to get “unstuck” if needed.

So in early January Jon, the kids and I sat down and worked through some questions and then talked about them as a family.  We gave the kids a chance to identify some areas of their lives that they were happy with and some areas where change might be needed or wanted, and we did the same for ourselves.  It was great and I would encourage you to give it a try!

If you would like to have a Family Goal-Setting Night, here are some questions for everyone participating to ask themselves:

  1. WHAT are some areas you would like to work on this year?  For kids some examples may be in academics or sports or cutting back on social media.  For adults some examples may be finding more time to connect with your spouse or goals with your work life or homemaking.
  2. What are the SPECIFIC goals you want to work on in the areas you picked?
  3. WHY do you want this to be a goal? This is one of the most important questions to ask–if we don’t have our strong “why,” the chances of change are pretty slim.
  4. What are the specific STEPS you can take this year to achieve your goals?

If you are like me and want a more structured plan than open ended questions, I created the FAMILY NEW YEAR GOAL-SETTING PRINTABLE

In the printable each family member can draw circles around areas where they want to set some new goals (spirituality, friendships, healthy eating, social media, screen-time, and family relationships to name a few) and then they can work through how to accomplish those goals.

EXAMPLE

Here is an example from my own life that I gave our kids as they worked through the printable:

One of my resolutions for 2017 is with meal planning.  Last year I put as one of my new year’s goals “to increase the variety and consistency of making meals for my family.”  Well, I totally flopped in achieving that goal, and it was a source of frustration for me all year.

But instead of feeling like a total failure as a kitchen maven,  I took some time to really look at why my goal didn’t work. In 2016, two of our children had their license, all were in sports or working, involved in youth group activities, and my husband traveled about twenty nights out of the month.  We had a revolving front door, with busy teenagers and constantly moving parts.

Even when I thought everyone would be home for a meal, I was constantly disappointed that I had made the effort to cook (something I don’t particularly enjoy) when plans would change and no one was there to eat it.  And when the kids did trickle in they were not hungry since they had eaten a snack at work or church.

So this year, I am still going to make it a goal, but tweak it a little. (In the printable I created, each family member can work through these four questions):

AREA: Homemaking

GOAL: Planning meals that work for my family’s busy schedule

WHY: This is still an important need for my family and it makes me feel good when our kids are served a nutritious meal at home.

SPECIFIC STEPS:

  1. To prepare a variety crock pot meals that the kids can eat whenever they arrive home.  This is far more flexible and appealing than a meal on a plate in the fridge that needs to be reheated.
  2. To make sure that in our family meeting on Sunday nights I am aware of everyone’s schedule and they are aware of what nights I am making the effort to cook so they come home hungry and expecting a meal.

This was a great exercise for me to work through personally, and I hope you and your loved ones can find some time to do the same.

Click HERE if you would like to try this with your family!

~Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I want to be a family that “lives healthy.” I want us to eat well, exercise, and be thoughtful about what we put on our skin and hair. But I often feel like we are missing the mark, especially with our children.

We have teenagers who spend more time away from home than here, which means I have significantly less input about what they are eating or how much exercise they are getting.  Just this morning the thought crossed my mind that I’m not sure if my son has eaten a vegetable in the last two weeks.   It’s pretty sad that I breath a sigh of relief when he grabs a Vitamin Water out of the fridge.

Healthy living happens when you have a clear vision of who you want to be and how you want to feel in a week, in a month, in 5 years and in 30 years.  And it’s hard for adults to make changes with a “future mindset” let alone a 16 year-old.

But if my husband and I can model for our children what healthy living looks like than not only will we be taking care of our future, but we will be setting a great example for our kids.

That is why I am excited for a great bundle of healthy living e-books, podcasts, courses, DIY tutorials and much more that came out today!!!

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They are designed to cut through the clutter of information out there and provide people like you and me a library of extremely helpful resources that we can customize for our own family’s goals.

Because when you have the right info and tools at our fingertips, it all comes together so much more easily.

We know what to cook for our family. We’re more confident in choosing natural alternatives. We find ways to save money without comprising on what’s important to us.

We learn to replace store-bought products with DIY options that actually work and are easy to make. We feel better (and even look better, too). Healthy living becomes less stressful and more enjoyable.

We become educated and motivated–from exercise to gardening to essential oils.

You sort of need to see it to believe it, but the package includes 83 digital products and it’s worth over $2,400!

  • For the cost of a small bag of groceries, you’ll get a complete healthy living library to help you:
  • prepare whole & delicious real food
  • get the toxins out of your house for good
  • understand and use natural remedies
  • breathe new life into your exercise habits
  • learn about important women’s health issues
  • raise exceptionally healthy kids in an unhealthy world
  • plus learn about gardening & homesteading, meal planning, weight loss and so much more!

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…and this is only a sampling!

Plus, it comes with over $250 worth of bonus offers including:

1. Bloom Naturals – $15 gift certificate toward any product ($15 value)
2. Perfect Supplements – $15 gift certificate toward any Perfect Brand product ($15 value)
3. TriLight Health – $15 off select TriLight products ($15 value)
4. MadeOn Skin Care – FREE BeeCool Muscle Balm Stick and Natural Lip Balm Combo (value $15.25)
5. The Maca Team – FREE Organic Gelatinized Yellow Maca Powder, 8 oz. ($15.44 value)
6. Primal Life Organics – FREE 1-ounce jar of Dirty Mouth Toothpowder ($15.97 value)
7. Get Kombucha – FREE 2-week supply (15 ml) of Kombucha Pro: Liquid Probiotics (value $29.99) AND/OR a FREE 1-ounce bag of 8. Get Kombucha’s Custom Organic Kombucha Tea Blend (value $15.99)
9. Orglamix – FREE Mineral Eye Shadow Trio ($18 value)
10. Experience Life – 4 FREE digital guides (value $29.99)
11. Grove Co. – FREE Mrs. Meyer’s 64 Load Laundry Detergent, Mrs. Meyer’s Fabric Softener, 60 Day VIP Trial, and FREE shipping with a $20 minimum purchase for new customers ($32.66 value); FREE 1-year VIP Membership ($39.95 value) for existing customers
12. Meal Garden – 6 months of Meal Garden FREE (value $35.70)

Besides being so incredibly helpful and inspiring, one of the things I like best about the bundle is the price. By offering the bundle for a short time only, they’re able to give you access to over $2,400 worth of high-quality eBooks, eCourses and printables for a whopping 98% off!

That’s just $29.97 my friend.

Here’s how it works:
Visit their website, take a quick look at all the goodness that comes in this package, then click the green “Buy now!” button to go through their simple and secure 3-step checkout process.

 

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You’ll receive an email with a login to their online access portal, where you’ll begin downloading your eBooks, signing up for your eCourses, and redeeming your free bonus offers.

Use their Getting Started Guide to pick the topic you want to tackle first and start making healthy changes!

The most important detail, though, is that this bundle is available for just six days! After Monday night, September 26th, the sale ends and you’d have to buy all of these products individually.

It’s even backed by a full money-back happiness guarantee, so you can make sure it’s right for you.

I don’t know about you, but this is something I am excited about for our family.  I may not be able to control what my kids eat outside the home, but I can be creating an atmosphere of health inside our home.

Get your bundle HERE.

Yay! (I’m kind of excited about this…)

~Amy

(Psst… the bundle goes away at 11:59pm Eastern on Monday, September 26th, so don’t wait!)

(This post contains affiliate links.)

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Cite Soleil

The Tap Tap jostled over the uneven road causing me to reach for the red rubber hand-hold dangling above my head. I peered through the enclosed metal grates that kept our group safe in the back of the truck as we traveled around Haiti.

We were headed today to Cite Soliel, where we would deliver water to the residents of this three square mile slum village built upon a garbage dump. Our family had arrived in Haiti two nights before, a culmination of years of praying and months of planning for a mission trip the five of us could take together. Now we were here, our eyes wide, absorbing what felt like another world.

I had been told Cite Soleil was the poorest place in the Western Hemisphere, yet I couldn’t imagine any standard of living any lower than what I had already observed in the short 36 hours since we landed in Port-Au-Prince.

The initial shock of the last day had not yet worn off. There was trash everywhere, in piles, strewn along gutters, and burning on the side of the road. The smell would wind its way through our open-aired vehicle and then disappear as quickly as it had arrived. There were people everywhere also, sitting in groups in the blazing sun, walking endlessly, selling their wares and stacked four deep atop motorcycles that swerved between traffic. Car horns honked endlessly, the Haiti version of turn signals, and dogs and people and goats wandered through busy streets without hesitation. The city hummed with activity and sound.

And the concrete. It formed endless walls throughout the city and I found myself straining to see behind openings to peek at scenes within. The buildings were cement, the roads another version of hot, solid material, and the homes built from cinder-block. This was the cinder-block and cement that fell on and crushed over 300,000 Haitians in the 2010 earthquake.

Half finished structures created a sense of permanent rubble. The scene formed a dusty, light tan contrast to the yellow bananas and green mangoes splayed out on sidewalk blankets in hopes of catching the eyes of hungry shoppers.

I kept waiting to see the “nicer” area of the city, which never revealed itself.  It was like the city had been forgotten by those who might renew some part, any part.  The paved roads would suddenly turn into deeply pocketed dirt roads, the writing on buildings long faded from years of heat and sun, the only investment being bars and heavy metal doors to protect what little everyone had.

There was nothing familiar, nothing my American eyes were used to seeing.

Our vehicle bumped down a different road now, following a large truck filled with free clean water for the people of Cite Soleil. This truck was owned by Healing Haiti, the organization leading our trip for the week. Six days a week they deliver free water to the residents of Cite Soleil, where there are no wells or running water. They serve the people of this country with Christ-filled love day in and day out.

The scene now changed slightly. Walls turned into small rusted tin structures that all attached to each other, as if they were locking arms for support. The cars were few, the children barely clothed if at all, and heat and desperation hung thick in the air. We turned down a smaller road, almost as narrow as an alley, lined with more shacks.

Three long blasts burst from the water truck’s horn. I thought it was warning people out of the way, but then realized it was a joyful announcement to the Haitians deep within the village that their water was here. Out of nowhere women and children poured onto the street as our vehicles slowed to a stop. They carried plastic five- gallon buckets, thirsty to be filled.

We had been told to prepare for the swarming. The children instantly surrounded the tap tap, yelling and smiling and reaching out arms. They didn’t want water, they wanted us. We exited the vehicle literally sweeping up children in the process. Most of us had two or three in our arms, which wasn’t difficult since they were so slight of frame. Many were naked or barely clothed.  None had shoes.

Some just wanted to be held, and stayed expressionless but content on our arms. Others clamored for our camera, wanting to have their picture taken and then asking in Creole to see themselves in the frame. Huge smiles and squeals of glee at the sight of themselves smiling back at the camera. I wondered when was the last time they had looked in a mirror, if ever.

All around us there was organized chaos. Young women formed a line behind the water truck as the hose poured gallons into the buckets at record speed. When the buckets reached capacity they would deftly lift them onto their heads and turn to walk home. Children crowded around those of us with strange white skin, wanting to touch our hair and not letting go of our hands. We all worked fast, our time needing to be quick to not only make our other stops but for safety.

Cite Soliel is run predominately by gangs. It is how there is any order at all. Guns are prevalent, and tensions between gang members can run high. Violence is a common resident here.

Our four Haitian translators (who reminded me more of body guards) kept watch on the scene. They had insider knowledge of where the gang activity existed and would usher our group into the Tap Tap and out of the area at a moment’s notice if needed. Yet our team of thirteen did not feel nervous. On the contrary, we were overflowing with joy of helping (for this one day) to give love and water to people who desperately needed it.

Sweat trickled down my neck, and the dust stuck to my teeth. The men were noticeably absent–a few hanging out on the fringes. This was women’s work, gathering water. It was the women who carried out household duties, while the men struggled to find any work in general. Haiti has an 80% unemployment rate, and my estimation is the numbers are even higher in Cite Soleil.

Out of nowhere a small girl appeared, possibly ten years old although she looked much younger than her age as all the children did here. She tugged on my shirt and on my Aunt’s shirt, pointing to her bucket sloshing with water and then to the street and somewhere beyond. “Do you want us to carry you water to your home?” We asked pointing also. She nodded and smiled.

We had been told that this might be asked of us, and that we needed to check with the Haitian translators before we left the water truck area to carry water. I asked Brenee, our driver, who stood surveying the scene along a wall with arms crossed.

“Can we walk back into the alleys here?”

“Yes” he responded in a thick Creole accent.

My Aunt Marj and I picked up the handle to the bucket, its weight pressing the metal wire into our palms. All around kids were dragging water, mothers carrying containers with grace and skill, children asking to have buckets lifted on their heads. How could they carry this much weight?

We followed our new little friend, down a main dirt street lined with shacks and people sitting and cooking on the sidewalk. She suddenly turned left between two homes, glancing back to make sure we followed. We wound back between narrow tin walls, water splashing between us. As we went deeper into the slum I looked at Marj, “How far do we go?” She glanced around, “A little farther.”

We had been told to be careful–that it was easy to get lost. I did my best to observe the turns, and just when I felt nervous enough to call it quits, the young girl disappeared into a doorway–her home. She pointed to the exact spot she wanted the bucket–tucked under a thin wire shelf.

I paused to look around. A bed. The wire shelf. Dirt floor. Rusted metal walls.

That was it.

Where were clothes, dishes, food? A place to sit?

What about the stifling heat, holes in the roof, endless dust and dirt?

What happens when the rain comes?

There was so very very little.  Not even the bare minimum. But this was her LIFE.

For a moment, time stood still.  There was such intimacy being in this family’s one room house, just my Aunt, myself and this young girl. It was a gift I will forever open, being allowed to see how she lived. Her home.

A piece of my heart broke.

Thin arms reaching for my neck snapped me out of my daze. I bent down and this dark skinned, bright smiling little human gave me the biggest, tightest bear hug. We didn’t speak each other’s language, but I have never heard the words “Thank You” so clearly in my heart. She was grateful that we had brought her family water for that day.

She turned to Marj, and with a huge smile gave her a thank you hug also. And then she turned and waved us to follow her out.

I couldn’t speak as I fought back emotion the whole journey back out to the busy street and as I write tears come again to my eyes. This sweet girl, whose life I cannot fathom, was so very thankful for our journey to deliver water to her home. Water! Yet the experience of having my eyes opened to a life so unlike mine brought me waves of gratitude just as deep.

In that instant I understood how poverty and extreme lack can live in beautiful companionship with gratefulness and deep joy.

The water truck and our team appeared as we rounded the last corner. Something inside me had changed in those few minutes, and while I couldn’t explain just what, I knew it was so very good.

The hose eventually ran dry and we were told to return to the Tap Tap. I said goodbyes, gave last hugs and then felt a tug again on my sleeve. It was the girl. I reached out my hand to hold hers and she placed her second hand on top of mine–such a mature gesture for such a young life.

I looked into her eyes and she nodded her head– I think saying thank you one more time.

As we drove away, bouncing along the trash filled road, my heart was so very full, and so very empty at the same time. I didn’t know poverty like this existed. But I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to step into the lives of these strong and surviving people for one day.

And this, combined with several other experiences we shared on this trip has convinced my husband and me that our connection to Haiti will not end when we return home.

There is hope in Haiti and we want to be a part of that.

The next post will be all pictures of Haiti and what we experienced there!  I can’t wait to show you.

Blessings,

Amy

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This is pretty normal for us! Our son being goofy while we try to take a family picture.

 

Hello Friends!

It has been far too long since I’ve posted, a result of our life “derailing” from normal after selling our house two months ago.  Since then our family of five has moved three times, lived in a friend’s basement and then a home we rented, and finally in to our new home three weeks ago.

All this was planned, thought out, and expected (although much of the process had unexpected twists), so it surprised me how challenging it was for me personally to “get through” these past few months with a positive attitude.

During this interim time our family of five lived out of seven blue tubs we had packed with clothes and personal items. We existed on dinners of Chipotle and Kraft Mac and Cheese because of limited kitchen space and and stretched thin mom who wouldn’t love cooking even in ideal conditions.  Our family felt disjointed not having our “normal” routines and space, and the rainy cold spring added to the unrest.  Our dogs found their own form of crazy (one of them peeing indoors and barking neurotically, challenging at one’s own house but really fun when it’s at your best friend’s house).

For a while I thought I was struggling to stay positive because there was no end in sight–we were having an extremely difficult time finding a new house after we sold ours. But then, we found a great house, and had a closing date and everything, but my restlessness grew as our familiar “more comfortable” life seemed just a reach away.

Why was it so important for me to find normal again?

I asked myself many times, “Why is this so difficult? God has blessed us with wonderful friends to house us temporarily, we know we will find a home eventually, our kids are healthy and handling this transition better that expected.  So why the discomfort?

The answer came to me once again, as it has over and over in all the unknowns over the last year with our moving story.

Our strengthening comes in the discomfort.

This time has felt like “how to keep a positive attitude boot camp,”  and I know that like the true military boot camp, with the purpose of strengthening physical muscles and endurance, this time for me has been an emotional and spiritual strengthening.

I have been forced to release my grip on managing everything the way I want it to go.  I have had to let go of normal, which involves me having a lot of control over my life.

 And that is good.

God is stretching and teaching me to let go, to again, trust him.  To again, remember that the little daily comforts and order I am used to need not to be taken for granted.  To believe that he has a purpose for every difficult time we go through–to decrease our self-sufficiency and increase our God-sufficiency.

One of the largest parts of “me” that I have had to release in the past couple of months is writing this blog.  I think about it every day, but feel like I have been in survival mode for so long that it takes sitting in a hotel room with my family sleeping to find head and heart space to finally write.

We did move into our new house three weeks ago and it is so very good.  I am so grateful for the little things like a desk to work at and some of the homey decorations we had packed away.  And the big things, like our family re-connecting and bonding over settling into our new space.

But normal is still to come.  In a few hours our family is about to get on a plane to Haiti to serve with a Healing Haiti team in the poorest part of the world.  Here is an excerpt from a woman who returned a few months ago from this trip as she relays vignettes of people she met:

Hello. My name is Mardy. I am 23 years old. I’ve been living in front of the hospital for a while. A few months ago I got raped and now I am pregnant. I’ve had a stroke and I am in the hospital now. I can’t move my left arm but that’s not the worse part. I am all alone; with no one to help me. I don’t know how I will take care of my baby once it’s born and where I’ll go and how we will survive.

This experience we are about to have, the conditions and desperation we are about to encounter will feel as far from normal as we have probably ever known.

But we can’t wait.  If there is anything I have learned recently is that God shows up when I feel helpless and out of control.  It is during these times I have eyes that more clearly see Him at work.  I have a heart open to what he needs to speak into it.

So I ask you, where is your normal being challenged?

Where can you find God’s hand in your story right now?

What is he teaching you?

Whether your lack of “normal” was a choice (like ours) or unexpectedly happened to you, I hope that you can find some peace as you wrestle through this time. Whether it is temporary or permanent, I pray that you will see God’s handiwork in the plan of changing your heart to rely more on Him and less on you.  These are certainly the lessons He has taught me.

God bless you,

~Amy

 

 

 

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