Tuesday, March 14

The Dinner I Didn't Want to Host

I am thrilled to have been asked to join the Thrive Moms writing team this year! Thrive Moms is a site that offers support and encouragement to moms in the midst of everyday life through weekly posts, bible studies, online retreats and even local mom meet ups. I have found such encouragement from following them the past few years, I know you will too. Here's a post about a recent dinner I really didn't want to host... 

My husband invited some friends for dinner and honestly, I was annoyed. I’d spent the week home with our kids and would have liked nothing better than a quiet night out with my husband. Ever the host, when an old friend called, my husband quickly invited him and his family over to our house that Saturday night.
I was a bit disgruntled as I helped my husband prepare food and our house for company. You can read the rest of my post here. 

Monday, January 23

It's Okay to Fail

Stubborn tears streaked down his 7-year-old cheeks. Determination to do as well as his brother at snowboarding had lead to frustration and anger coming out sideways through tears when he couldn’t quite measure up—at least not in his own eyes.

As I locked eyes with my younger son from across the room, I saw a familiar pain in his eyes—the struggle to want to succeed and do well no matter what.

He walks towards me, holding back more tears he hates to shed, especially in front of others. I pull him close, trying not to make him feel like a baby, as I whisper in his ear:

It’s your first time, bud. It’s okay to fall. Donnie’s a lot older than you. You’ll get it. It takes time. You’re doing really well.

He nods as his eyes fixate on the floor, listening to my words. He exhales as he looks into my eyes, finding the reassurance from a mother who understands what it is like to not want to ever fail.

But he’s just learning something it took me years to accept: It’s okay to fail.

Monday, January 9

Life Beyond Your To-Do List

This morning I forgot what day of the week it was. If it weren’t for school and the few activities my kids are in each week, I may never remember the dates as the year rolls on with no clear differentiation between one 24-hour period and the next. At times, life can seem rote and mundane.

My forgetfulness isn't because I don’t have things to do; in fact, if you haven’t heard we’re writing a book. WE’RE. WRITING. A. BOOK. And after having four deadlines this summer and, now, looming edits due to our editor (the second of which just passed, thank you, Jesus), I feel extra pressure to put my head down and whittle away at stories a little at a time. Sometimes I forget the joy, the magnitude of seeing a dream fulfilled with the pressure to actually do the work that it takes to finish the project. (Dreams have a way of being way more work than you ever imagined, who knew?)

Tuesday, December 27

25 Days of Kindness Completed! {2016 Edition}

Once again, we've pulled together the months kind acts as a reminder of all that was accomplished. Thank you so much for joining us this year!

Day 1: Today, the kids and I donated items to our local humane society in honor and memory of our dog Reggie and got to pet some really sweet animals as well!

Day 2: An encouraging note (and caffeine) to a small business owner who is a hard working rock star.

Day 3: I may or may not have teared up a little when chatting with my girls about our military and their families and the sacrifices they make for our safety and well-being.

Day 4: Today was a bittersweet day, friends. We had the honor and privilege of helping dedicate Katie's Wing, a beautifully redone area at Place of Hope homeless shelter that will help give homeless women and kids a place to live. It's named in honor of our dear sister and friend Katrina, who died 11 years ago after a 5-year battle with breast cancer. The funds raised by our family's foundation and the generosity of so many others in the community led to this day.

Tuesday, December 6

Our 2016 Finale: Journals for Katie's Wing

Whew, already partway into the month, and it's already turning into a busy December! If you've been following along with this year's 25 days of Christmas kindness on our Facebook page, this past weekend we revealed via video what our finale will be this year (Kendra is in love with those live videos. If you know how much I hate being in the spotlight, you'll understand why all I do in the video is grin like a fool.)

Attending the dedication
A bit of the backstory first: More than 11 years ago, when my sister Katrina died after a 5-year battle with breast cancer, our family created a foundation in her honor that gave women and girls opportunities in Christian environments that they otherwise wouldn't have. Over the years, one of the places Katie's Club supported was Place of Hope, a homeless shelter in St. Cloud. Last year, Place of Hope announced that their new women's wing would be called Katie's Wing in honor of Katrina and her legacy.

This past weekend, we got to see the fruition of that dream in action. The three of us, along with  friends and folks from the community, attended the dedication of the wing. I could not. stop. crying. With more than a dozen bedrooms for women and their children as well as a common living area, kids room, kitchen and bathrooms, the wing is fully equipped to help women overcoming abuse, human trafficking, and homelessness. It's amazing.

Living room

We are SO excited to be a part of this amazing ministry, and although there are still practical needs to be met, we wanted to take on an item that we hope will encourage the wing's residents to dream.  We'd like to take on one specific item -- journals for all the women who stay in the wing, journals that they can then take with them as they leave the wing to continue their lives. So here is where you come in: We are asking our community and friends to help out by donating a journal. In addition, if you'd like to write a blessing, scripture, or prayer inside for the woman, we would love that!

Ok, I know it's the holidays and everyone is busy but journals are everywhere. I bought three this morning at Marshalls and spent $10 total (who else loves Marshalls?! It is seriously right up there with HomeGoods and Barnes & Noble as one of my happy places). We would LOVE for you to send us a journal, and before you do, write in it. If there's one thing we've learned over the years and believe in wholeheartedly, it's that your words matter. Words have the power to hurt or to heal, and your words of encouragement could be exactly what someone else needs to hear.

Hallway and a bedroom
Plus, how amazing would it be to say, "I know this person is a stranger to you, but they've been praying for you and will continue to do so"?! If you'd like to send us a journal, drop it in the mail (you can even send it media mail, which is cheaper, since it's a book!) to us at: 1704 Red Fox Road, St. Cloud, MN 56303. Thank you for joining with us, friends!

P. S. If you're interested in donating to some of the other practical needs of the wing, you can certainly still do so! A few of the items on their wishlist include sheets, curtains, and new windows, although there are other things they need as well. Donations can be sent to: Place of Hope, 511 9th Ave North, St. Cloud, MN 56303. Just designate your gift for Katie's Wing.

Monday, November 21

25 Acts of Kindness {2016 Edition}

Wow, it's now been five years since we began incorporating kind acts into our families’ holiday activities—acts that have now weaved themselves into family traditions, right alongside decorating the tree and hanging stockings.

Sometimes the simplest of ideas can produce the most profound change in us and in those around us, in ways we’d never have known when we’d first begun. For us, these acts of kindness have become so much more than just something we do during the Christmas season. They have become the catalyst that has shifted the way that we see people, needs, and even the way we see God.

We now notice so much more of the pain and suffering that is occurring in our world—but instead of quickly averting our eyes or ignoring it, we walk towards the pain, extending out our hands with what may seem on the surface to be one small act of kindness, but turns into so much more. An altered perspective; a lesson for our children or ourselves. A willingness to be vulnerable even when it hurts.  And, on the very best of days, a small glimpse of the way in which God's grace can bring light to the dark places in this world.