I love my children. But just like when getting married you could have never known all the wonderful, interesting, and quirky things about your mate, so it is with having kids. There may have been moms who told me stories prior to having children…but if they did, I don’t remember.

Moms are amazing. It’s not just that we will ignore a screaming child in a store and continue the conversation we’re having with our girlfriend, be up all hours of the day and night to attend their needs, drop everything to rush our child to the bathroom in a restaurant (“Out of the way, people!”), or catch our own child’s puke - all things I have done. We deal with stressful situations on a daily basis and are no strangers to all kinds of interesting and sometimes gross things. But there are some things that just wear on me as a mom.

Public Enemy #1 to a Mom: Germs

Now, lest you think I’m that crazy mom who trails her kids around continuously wiping their hands and using sanitizer, I am not. After three kids, I’m now the mom at the park who will see something in their child’s mouth and upon investigation realize: “Oh, it’s just dirt? You’re fine.” And leave them to their playing.
Photo by Alyssa L. Miller via Flickr
For our final week of Lent Remixed, we are focusing on the United States. 

After a few discussions about the many issues we could give attention to, we decided on one that many people may or may not know much about: human trafficking. 

Human trafficking, defined, is the trade of human beings, typically for the purpose of sexual slavery or forced labor.

Kendra, Julie and I were surprised and pleased by a call earlier this week from Amy Bowen, one of my former coworkers from the St. Cloud Times. She said they were interested in doing a story on us for the weekend paper, and wondered if we would have time to meet in the next couple of days.
Honestly, I've interviewed plenty of other people, but rarely been interviewed myself. I was so distracted by her offer that I forgot to press the record button for an interview I was doing of someone else, and am quite sure Elise had to yell "Mom!" at me a few times to gain my attention for the rest of the afternoon.

I sometimes struggle to articulate the things that matter so much to us - our heart for social justice issues, our burning desire to see the world around us transformed - as well as I mean to, but luckily, Amy is a pro and got our message anyway. You can read the full article here.

That’s right…we wrote a book. Aptly titled The Ruth Experience. And if you want a chance to win one, it’s simple, really. There are three ways to enter:
  1. Like “The Ruth Experience” page on Facebook.
  2. Share  “The Ruth Experience” page with your friends on Facebook.
  3. Sign up to follow our blog.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0-eWy4Z-EOw/UUfFDX-sLkI/AAAAAAAAASM/XramU5NDCpk/s1600/book+photo.jpgThree different ways to enter - you only need to pick one - and your name will be entered in the drawing. We will randomly pick two winners  on Monday, April 1st and announce them that same day. And no, this is not an April Fool's Day prank! 

For anyone who does not win, no worries, our book is available for purchase…and here’s the really cool part: Orders placed through July 1st, 2013, we will be giving 50 percent of our proceeds to support El Refuge, a safe haven for young people who have been transformed by Christ's love in Panama City, Panama.  

That’s right, 50% of the proceeds of every book we sell is going to support and empower girls and women in Panama who may have been abused, disregarded, or voiceless (check out week two of our Lent Remixed Series for more information on Panama)…which is really what The Ruth Experience is all about, anyway. Sharing our stories, building our faith, and glorifying God - all at the same time! 

Won’t you join us?
For week 6 of Lent Remixed, we are focusing on the Syria, specifically on  the children of Syria.
Photo from Freedom House on Flickr
Syria is in the midst of an armed uprising since March of 2011 (which is now being described as a civil war by the international Red Cross). 

Between 50,000 and 70,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict with a staggering 1,129,019 Syrian refugees that have fled their country and are living, often in refugee camps, in neighboring countries. 

The UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) estimates 8,000 Syrians flee Syria everyday into neighboring countries with an estimated 3 million refugees by the end of 2013 if the conflict continues.  

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to Disney World. My kids were so excited, and my husband, maybe even more excited. When we got to the park and were discussing what rides the kids could or should go on, Kyle suggested one of the roller coasters.

Me: What? THAT roller coaster? Absolutely not. Are they even old enough?!?

Kyle: Yes, it’ll be fine. They’ll love it! I’m sure they’re big enough!

After checking the kids' height and realizing they both just squeaked past the allotted requirements, I was still resistant. Upset. Finally (in my very mature way of handling the situation), I told Kyle that he could take ONE child first. I refused to go with, sure they would freak out the moment the ride began. I told Kyle I did not want to see my children terror-filled and screaming on or right after the ride. It would be all on him when they hated it.

He decided to take Jasmine first, since she's a year older than Abe.

This week we’re focusing on hunger and the country of Niger. In fact, you almost can’t think about starving people in the world and not have Africa come to mind. It’s become cliche to tell our kids to eat their dinner because “there are children starving in Africa!”

Which, actually, is quite true. There are children, whole families in fact, that are starving. In Africa alone there are approximately 276 million people without food. People who will have woken up without anything to eat and will likely go to bed with no food in their stomachs.

And why is this? Is it because, as I’ve heard some argue, people are lazy, unmotivated, or unwilling to do what is necessary to provide for themselves and their families?

If you’ve read across the Christian blogosphere, you’ve probably heard others talk about Haiti.

Ann Voskamp (one of our heroes) continues to visit Haiti, partner with Mission of Hope Haiti and write heart-wrenching blogs in response, posts that never fail to make the tears spill over into my coffee and blur my computer screen. Last time she saw me, Elise slid her small hand alongside mine, gripped softly and asked what was wrong as I dabbed my face with a dishtowel. And it wasn't even 9 a.m. yet.

Jen Hatmaker (another hero) partnered with Help One Now to build a school in Haiti, and has continued to do work there. She wrote last November about how she saw a Tent City that still had 20,000 displaced people, still struggling after the earthquake that hit in 2010. And I cry over her blogs, too.

So it’s hard not to feel like we’re just jumping on the Haiti bandwagon.

But here’s the thing – the statistics are simply staggering. Because statistically, Haiti is the poorest country in the world.