Teaching your kids about justice and loving your neighbor just got easier. Meet the Glow Campaign

By | Get Inspired | One Comment

Note From Kat: This post is from my very good friend, neighbor and monthly contributor, Liz Griffin.

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Mamas, I’d like to tell you a story. And then invite you to join us.

Last spring my daughter Sophie and her friend Ana were celebrating a classmate’s birthday in school. A little boy in the class didn’t like cupcakes and became very vocal about how he would have preferred a different snack. Not sure what was wrong with him – I would have gladly taken that cupcake off his hands.

Mrs. Keltner, the teacher, mentioned to the kids they should be thankful to have a cupcake. She told them that there are kids all around the world who don’t get enough food to eat and would probably love to have a cupcake for a treat.

That struck a cord with Sophie and Ana. At recess they began to think about what life would be like if they lived in poverty, were orphans or didn’t have access to clean water.  It made them sad to recognize that was a reality for so many kids. Despite the fact that they were seven, they decided to do something about it.

Fueled with a passion to make lives better for kids around the world, their charity was born.

The Glow Campaign. Creating brighter futures for kids.

The Glow Crew in South Africa visiting a day care center and learning how we can help children there.

The Glow Crew in South Africa visiting a day care center and learning how we can help children there.

Our first project was this summer and the girls raised enough funds to provide medical testing for children in Burundi so they can begin to get access to proper medical care. These tests also assist in placing children into adoptive families.

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The Glow Campaign decided this fall to focus on kids a little closer to home. We did a duffel drive to provide bags for children in foster care. Often times these kids have nothing to pack their belongings in when they move to a new home. Thanks to some generous kids in our area, we are working to change that.

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That is Glow’s Story so far, but I’d like to invite you and your kids to become a part of it.

Sophie & Ana’s desire from the beginning was to start a movement of kids helping other kids. We have done some really great projects so far and have more lined up for the future, but in one of our Glow Meetings the girls talked about ways kids from all around the world could be a part of Glow.

lemonade stand fundraiser

lemonade stand fundraiser

Launching this fall is The Glow Crew. And this is where YOU come in!

I talk to moms often who mention how they wish they could get their kids involved in community service or social justice issues. But, let’s be honest. Most of us don’t have much time or knowledge of even where to begin. By joining the glow crew, we hope to give you easy tools to teach your kids how to make a practical impact on the world around them. Our heart for the Glow Crew is to raise up a generation of I Tim. 4:12 kids who understand what it looks like to express the love of Jesus to others.

“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – I Timothy 4:12

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Excited to tell the Glow Crew that the fundraising goal for Burundi had been met.

What happens when your kids join the Glow Crew?

You will be emailed a “Secret Mission” every month to complete in your own community. These are simple, free ways to teach your kids how to impact their own neighborhood. Missions might taking cookies to an elderly neighbor or writing an encouraging note to a kid who gets picked on at school.

In addition to the Secret Missions, your kids can participate in some of our larger projects. What kid wouldn’t want to have a lemonade stand to raise money for a clean water well in Haiti?  It’s a movement of kids to help other kids. We’d love to invite you to be a part.

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Also, feel free to follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  Lastly, I want to encourage you mamas. It doesn’t matter if your kids are two or twenty. We are raising world changers, even on the messy days that feel like failures. Keep at it mamas. You are making a difference.

Any thoughts, ideas or questions? Join the conversation by clicking here!

 

 

 

 

Playground Missions: Changing the World One Juice Box at a Time

By | Featured Posts | 7 Comments

Playground missions

Note from Kat: This post is from my good friend and monthly contributor, Liz Griffin.

My husband and I were a year into planting a church in Seattle when my daughter was born. Of course, I was thrilled to be a mom and have this little blonde baby to spend my days with. Who wouldn’t? I was prepared for sleepless nights and days spent in yoga pants, but there were some aspects of the motherhood transition I wasn’t as prepared for.

As someone who had been doing ministry for years, it took some getting used to seeing how motherhood aligned with my passion for church planting and discipleship.

I was able to schedule in a few meetings with girls during naps, but most of the time I was at the library story hour or pushing a swing at a playground.

While the journey had some ups and downs, I am more convinced than ever that raising kids offers a massive opportunity to show the love of Jesus to an entire demographic I previously had no access to.

My kid’s friends.

This summer two things happened that showed me what an impact my parents had on kids that I played with when I was little. In June I was talking to a friend that I had known since elementary school, but really got close to in high school. She had come from a broken home and my parents always invited her over after school. She joined us for countless meals and weekend hang outs.

While we were catching up she told me about her new book club. The group was currently reading a book called The Most Important Place on Earth. I have never read it but it is about the significant role of the home. One of their first discussion questions was to share about a place that made them feel valuable and important. “You know what I said?”, she asked me. “ I told them it was your parents house. I always felt loved and safe there.”.

Fast forward to August. A guy who is in our college ministry at our church went on a mission trip to Russia. While there he visited the church that my parents started when we lived there in the 90s. He brought back a gift for me from my friend Natasha. To my amazement she packed a silver box with some of my favorite goodies from Russia. I poured over all the yummy foods I haven’t had in years and the sweet tokens of a city that I love so much.

Mostly, I was amazed at her story. When I lived there Natasha was just a neighborhood girl that I played with. We’d go to the market, meet at the park after school and my mother invited her in for tea on several occasions. It was always accompanied with an invitation to church. In 1995 my family moved back to Texas. Fast forward almost twenty years. Natasha went through some challenging situations over the years and eventually – a decade later – came to our church.  She is now living her life fully for Jesus and a pillar in our church there.

That is me in the center and Natasha on my right. I know, I know. I look so good here. (That is me in the center and Natasha on my right. I know, I know. I look so good here.)

These stories have confirmed what I have already been coming to understand on my own journey into motherhood. As parents we not only shape our own children, but the children around them.

While this looks different as our kids grown up and reach different ages, there are some simple things we can do to be missional no matter your kids age.

1. Pray. Most of us mom’s pray for our kids, but what an opportunity to get to pray for their friends. The kids in their classes, on their soccer team or down the street. A simple way to sow the Kingdom into their generation. Who knows, you may be the only person who is praying for them!

2. Make our homes available. Growing up my house was always filled with my friends. No, we didn’t have a pool or fancy media rooms. You know what we had? A nurturing and fun environment. My friends loved being at my house. There was always an open door policy. Several times in high school I would come home and find my friends over just hanging out with my parents. You never outgrow the need for parent figures.

3. Invite them to church. Let’s get real here, okay? I have enough trouble getting my own kids to church on time and the thought of going out of my way to pick up another little person seems pretty stressful. But, how worth it for them to have the chance to learn more about Jesus. Hopefully their entire family goes – but if not – set the timer on your iPhone and leave in time to swing by and pick up a friend.

It may not seem like it when we are punching straws into Capri Suns on play dates or  helping break up a fight over an American Girl doll. But, we have a BIG opportunity to impact an entire generation. Libraries, parks, our living rooms – an open mission field that is ripe for the harvest.

What ways have you found motherhood to be missional? Any thoughts or ideas? Share here in the comments!

20130218-193106.jpg Elizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @thelizgriffin.

 

Dreaming Big…In Motherhood and Beyond

By | Podcast | 9 Comments

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Note from Kat: This post is from my good friend and monthly contributor, Liz Griffin.

I was sorting through all the end of school papers that had come home with my daughter a few months ago when I got the call. A congressman was coming from DC to his district and he wanted us to brief him on human trafficking in his district. Well, not just us. The FBI was gonna be there too to brief him. Tomorrow. Gulp.

The most urgent thought would probably be, “What am I gonna say in that meeting???” but instead my mind went immediately to “What am I gonna wear???”.

This is the point where I go into my closet and realize that stay at home moms have a serious lack of professional clothes. At least I do. Would a loose tee, cute scarf and slouchy boyfriend jeans do? Probably not.

I finally put together a business outfit, dumped the crumbs out of my nicest purse and started putting together all the information he needed as well as reviewing the proposed legislation Congress would be voting on in the following weeks regarding human trafficking.

I did this in the slivers of time between making snacks, reading Danny & The Dinosaur (a current fave at our house) and carting kids around to their practices. Because, you know what? I don’t have a fancy office. I don’t have lots of time. And I don’t have money in the budget to buy a new outfit for the meeting.

The next day I dropped my daughter at school, took my son to my husband’s office where he tagged along with dad while mom was going to this meeting and hopped in the car with my two other teammates going.

During the two-hour drive I listened to the discussion about the pros & cons of the anti-trafficking bills that were before Congress and texted my husband reminders about snacks and making sure he regularly takes our son for potty breaks.

Finally, we pulled up to the building and jumped in the elevator to the congressman’s district office. It was pretty easy to spot the FBI agents who were coming to the meeting with us. They were the guys with guns underneath their black suits. Dead giveaway. Although, it is Texas so maybe not.

I took my seat at the conference table with our national director for UnBound, three FBI agents, three congressional staffers and Congressman Flores. We discussed trends of human trafficking, things he could do in his district to help curb it and talked through the bills he was going to be voting on in a few weeks.

There were so many times during that conversation I almost laughed at the fact I was sitting at that table. I am a stay at home mom with a bachelor’s degree  – whose only jobs have been in church planting. My resume didn’t get me here. My skills didn’t get me here. My resources didn’t get me here. The only reason I was at that table was because God put me there.

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I talked to you guys before about my dreams of justice. I used to want to go to law school and be in politics like the congressman. I used to want to work for an intelligence agency helping solve the worlds problems with a badge. But, I didn’t. I planted churches and had babies. And yet, God knew what He had put in my heart.

I’ve learned a lot from Gideon over the years. In Judges 6-7, God tells Gideon what he has made him for. Gideon explains to God that he doesn’t have what he needs to do it. Gideon didn’t have the experience, skill, resource, team, courage…you name it Gideon didn’t have it.

And I love what God did.

He didn’t take Gideon out to the desert and put him through a ninja master bootcamp. He didn’t turn his trumpet into a sword. God just told him to use what he had. So armed with lanterns and trumpets, Gideon’s army defeated their enemy. God used what Gideon had in his hand already to accomplish the task that God had for him.

Sometimes as moms we can feel like we don’t have what we need in order to do the dream God has put in our heart. We don’t have the capacity, the time, the money, the energy, the education…we’ve got piles of laundry, goldfish crackers and the soundtrack to Frozen running through our heads.

So how is God going to use those things to help you start that business you have been dreaming of, to disciple kids from the youth group at your church, write that book in your heart or go back to school for that degree? I don’t have any idea. But God takes our loaves and fishes and multiplies them to meet the need in front of us.

It might feel slower than we’d like sometimes and look different from people who do it for their full-time professions. But God knows the dreams He put inside of you mamas. And He has a plan.

In the midst of raising kids and giving yourself 100% to them, God has not forgotten the things in your hearts. This narrow season of motherhood isn’t a small season. Trust God to develop the things you hold in your hands in this season as tools for the things you hold in your heart.

What has dreaming with God looked like for you in this season of motherhood? Share in the comments here!

20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @thelizgriffin.

 

 

 

The $300 Cookie – God sees the value in what we do

By | Podcast | 7 Comments

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Note from Kat: This post is from my good friend and monthly contributor, Liz Griffin.

For nearly five years my husband and I have been in the process of adopting internationally. The whole story could be an entire summer-long series, so I will spare you too many details. The journey has included four different adoption agencies, three different state processes, and three international adoption programs. It’s been kind of insane at times.

Adoption doesn’t just require lots of time, it requires quite a bit of money. International adoption isn’t exactly cheap. A few months ago some friends of ours put together a bake sale outside of our church’s college service one Wednesday night. We had a large amount of goodies and hoped to get a couple hundred bucks out of the deal.

It was the usual gang of sugary items. Chocolate chip cookies, rice krispy treats, brownies, soapapilla cheesecake squares and the like. Good stuff but nothing gourmet or super fancy. Kids made little signs to hold up as the students piled through the doors.

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Kids holding their bake sale signs

Students were greeted with chants, songs and cheers directing them to the table inside with all the baked goods. The expectation was not to raise a considerable amount of money. Moms just wanted to get their kids involved in helping bring orphans home and hopefully bring in a couple hundred bucks for our adoption fund.

After the service college students started flooding out and lining up at our bake sale table. Hundreds of college students waiting in line to get their simple deserts. That night we raised nearly $1500. Gulp, yes that’s right. On a little ole bake sale.

I saw one college guy pay $300 for a cookie. And you want to know what? That cookie was not even worth $10. Why in the world was he willing to pay so much for something so basic? Because the cookie was not worth much, but it’s purpose held extreme value.

The generosity of his gift had nothing to do with the quality of ingredients, the culinary education or skills that went into making his cellophane wrapped purchase. He didn’t pay $300 for a cookie. He paid $300 for what the cookie was intended for. To help bring an orphan into a family.

At that moment I realized something.

God isn’t looking at the retail value of what we do. He is looking at the heart of why we do it – which is far more valuable than perfection. 

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The value of what we do as moms is not measured by how well we execute our plans. Perfectly folded laundry, meals straight off Food Network and expertly crafted children’s artwork on the fridge is not what God is looking for. Although, props to you if that is what your house looks like.

The days where all you have to show is the fact that your offspring are still alive? Those days are worth just as much as the days where no one throws a tantrum while grocery shopping and your kids are looking perfectly coiffed.

Remember the whole thing about man looking at the outer things, but God looking at the heart? The same is true for motherhood. The value in what we do comes from our heart. Our desire to raise godly children and to build strong families. To show little people how important they are and make sure they know they are loved.

That is the intention behind motherhood. That is the $300 cookie. 

 Have any  comments or thoughts? Want to connect with Liz about adoption? Click here to join the discussion!

 

20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. you can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @larkandbloom.

Dealing With “Mommy” Fears

By | Guest Posts | 11 Comments

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Note from Kat: This post is from my good friend and monthly contributor Liz Griffin.

This photo of me was taken when I was discovered numerous 3-inch jumping spiders in my bedroom in Africa. That was pretty frightening, but I’ve learned that motherhood can be much more scary…

When the nurse practitioner told me that it could be cancer, my mind went blank. I started having strange symptoms two weeks ago. Went to the doctor’s office the next day where the nurse told me that we were gonna do labs and numerous ultrasounds to check for a possible tumor on my thyroid, pituitary gland and check for breast cancer.

Clearly, like any good mom I totally freaked out. How was I going to tell my kids? What would their life look like if I have to do chemo? I can’t bear the thought of not being there to raise them… It was the ultimate of mommy fears.

I’ll save you the drama, but the following week I got the results back and everything was fine. It was a simple benign problem. Thank you Jesus. However, my poor heart had to fight every day waiting for those results. Fighting to choose trust over fear.

I think every mom can relate to that battle. Maybe not a personal health scare, but some kind of send-your-heart-into-a-panic tailspin of fear.

What if I have a miscarriage?

What if my child is developmentally delayed?

How will I be able to financially provide for my kids education?

We feel called to missions, but what will happen to my kids if we move overseas?

Will my kids be alright without a father in the picture?

What happens if they grow up and choose not to follow Jesus?

Could my child get cancer or some other fatal illness?

The list goes on. So many things can overwhelm us with worry and anxiety.

It is only natural to try and protect our kids from harm or pain. I mean, they are our kids. But there comes a point where our thoughts and action move beyond being responsible parents to become fearful parents. Trust me, I know. I am a regular over in the fear territory.

It is a tricky line between being a wise mom and a fearful mom. I thought I’d share with you a few practical tips that I have learned to keep myself in check.

1. Evaluate if you are being wise or fearful. 

Wisdom is responsible, fear is not.

Let’s take the early years…As a mom it is good to know developmental milestones and talk to your pediatrician about any concerns. That is wisdom. But a fearful mom (ahem, me ) will read numerous articles about problems my child might have in the future, go over developmental checklists from multiple websites to see if my kids are on track, and compare my kid to all the others on the playground.

Wise moms notice problems, fearful moms look for problems.

2. Start your day off with a devotional time. 

When I am getting consistent time in the Word and in prayer, my fear level drops dramatically.

I am more on guard when fear tries to sneak in and I remember that with God I can overcome my anxious thoughts. One great way to make this a part of your life is to jump in with Hello Mornings. In fact, Kat has even written a free ebook to help you get your mornings under control and off to a solid start.

3. Tell a friend. 

I know it can seem silly and embarrassing even to admit you are dealing with fear, but I promise you aren’t alone.  Being in ministry I am constantly talking to people about dealing with fear. Fear of pain, death, rejection, tragedy…you name it. As moms it is no different.

If you feel yourself tempted to Google your child’s symptoms for the 5th time, call a friend. Ask them to pray for you to have peace instead.

4. Memorize Scripture

The Word of God is true. Our vain imaginations are not. All over the Bible we are encouraged to be disciplined in our thoughts. Pick out a few verses to memorize. When your imagination wants to run wild – in all the wrong ways – quote these verses and remind yourself to stand on God’s truth and not your feelings.

“Finally, brothers & sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

5. Pray for someone else

Fear tends to make us self-absorbed. A great way to break out of that is to get in someone else’s boat. If you find yourself worrying about your children , pray for someone you know whose kids might be having a hard time or recently received a difficult diagnosis.

I am thankful that all my tests came back normal, but some of you out there may be battling an illness. If so, leave a message in the comments so we can pray for you!

I don’t know know what kind of worries you are facing at the moment. Financial struggles, a broken marriage, health challenges, kids having trouble in school or just plain anxiety. But I do know that God is faithful and we can trust him to take care of whatever we or our children are facing.

Have you dealt with fear as a mom? What have you learned along the way? Click here to join the discussion!

20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two kids.Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @larkandbloom.

Why Google Can Never be a Mom

By | Get Inspired | 8 Comments

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Note from Kat: This post is from my good friend and monthly contributor Liz Griffin.

Let’s be honest. Google is pretty great. It can give you directions, show you photos and sort through billions of facts to deliver the information you want. Its so awesome it is both a noun and a verb. There are nearly 6,000,000 Google searches a day. One of the most common questions people type into Google is “What is the meaning of life?”.

I’m not nearly as smart as Google, but I imagine what people are really asking is  “What is the meaning of my life?”. When you type it into Google all kinds of quotes, articles and opinion websites pop up. Data to sort through for days.  And yet, that doesn’t really answer the question people are asking.

Rewind a few weeks…

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I recently returned from a trip to Burundi. This small country is nestled in the heart of Africa between Rwanda and Tanzania. Currently, my family is in the middle of adopting two children from there. One evening when I was organizing all the things I had to bring with me, I watched a film called Closure. (If you are interested in adoption, I highly recommend it.)

It is a documentary about a trans-racial adoptee, Angela,  who searches for her birth family. As someone who is adopting I was struck by her search for identity. Her adoptive family was incredible and joined her in the hunt for her biological family. There was one scene that stood out in particular.

Angela was using Google to hunt down information on her family. And Google was giving her answers, but she was looking for more than facts – she was looking for people.

Fast forward to last week in Africa…

I was sitting in a shelter surrounded by orphans. A little girl who was  5 shared my seat as I listened to the nun across the table talk about the kids who were in their care. She was sharing the facts and stats of all the children there – how old they were, their medical history, how many are available for adoption…

The children in the room were not very interested in the stats and data on their lives. They were focused on this one particular nun who tickled them, looked them straight in the eye and snuggled them while whispering something in their ears. I don’t know what she was whispering, but it sure made them all smile.

so happy to be in Africa

so happy to be in Africa

I couldn’t put my finger on it at the moment, but sitting in that room I started thinking of Angela from the documentary. Later that night I sat under my mosquito net and processed out the day. That is when I realized what the connection was.

The similarity between Angela and the children in those shelters is that they didn’t want facts or data. Angela could Google a million personality quizzes to help her shape her identity or search online for her missing family. These kids in Burundi have information in their files which gives a brief glimpse of where they have come from.

However, this information is not what these children are craving. I saw it watching them interact with the nuns. They want people to look into their eyes and really see them. They want a voice to speak their value out loud. Someone to tell them what they are great at and help them dream into what they could become.

For all the information that is out there – personality quizzes, scholarly articles, personal medical histories – there is no substitute for an actual person looking you in the eye and telling you why you matter. It is what everyone craves and I recognized it in the little eyes all around me.

While Google can spit out loads of resources and facts, it can never be a mom. It can never hold a hand, sing an original song or squeeze into a toddler bed to snuggle a sick kid. Google can never really answer the most asked question in the world, “What is the meaning of my life?“.

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women in Burundi

For the rest of my time in Africa, I thought about those children’s mothers. Many of them died from HIV or complications in childbirth. My imagination can’t comprehend how hard it must have been for them to realize that they would never have the chance to watch their babies grow up.

They would never get to tell them the story of how they were born, tell them the potential they see in them or share with them memories from their own childhood. Those mamas never got the chance to give their kids what they are longing for – identity.

I am reminded of the powerful privilege of motherhood. The ability we have to touch, speak and develop our kids is one not every woman is given. God has granted us the honor to speak identity into our kids. Who they are in Christ and who they are to us. It is a question the world is asking. Google may be smarter than us, but we have the answers.

 20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @larkandbloom.

Raising “normal” kids

By | Get Inspired | 8 Comments

Note from Kat: This post is from my very inspiring friend and monthly contributor Liz Griffin.

IMG_2284 Looking at a Picasso because going to art museums is normal for Griffins.

Last Friday I got to have coffee with Kat. We only live about a mile apart and every so often we meet up to watch Downton Abbey or talk blogs. We laughed a lot, I learned a lot and my heart was full when I was headed home. I actually arrived at my house to find that my husband had spent that two hours deep cleaning our house and folding all the laundry. It was his day off and he was cleaning. Bizarre right? Not for Jady.

To my husband keeping a house clean is normal. I’m not really sure how she did it being a mother of three boys, but my mother-in-law ran a strictly clean and organized house. Put a cup down and 30 seconds later it is in the dishwasher. Jady is the same way. He can whip the house into shape in no time flat because he grew up that way. But, back to my hanging out with Kat…

During my coffee with Kat I was telling her about my trip to Burundi, Africa in a few weeks. ( We are in the process of adopting a sibling group from there. More on that in another post sometime! ) I will be flying by myself to Africa and back, meeting our program director in the capital city and spending my time there traveling to various orphanages around the area.

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Love getting to be real-life friends with Kat. And I am highly envious of her ability to look good in hats.

Kat’s response has been the response of everyone. “Are you nervous going to a developing country all by yourself???” The answer is no, I’m not. Because I grew up traveling with my family to developing countries and spending time in orphanages and poverty-stricken areas. It is completely normal to me.

Over the past few weeks I have explained this reality to many people and I have come to an obvious but profound conclusion for me. What is “normal” to me, isn’t “normal” to you. And vice versa.

My family never had nice cars or a big house, but I knew what lemonade tasted like in Egypt and what Guatemala smelled like right before it rained. Having children who saw the world and were actively involved in missions was a priority for my family. That meant we didn’t spend lots of money on extra-curricular activities, didn’t have cable or go out to eat often. And that was normal to me.

Every family has their own “normal”. Going to college, traveling, doing community service, being athletic or keeping a perfectly clean house. In some families it is normal for everyone to learn an instrument or to workout.

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My kids at a Baylor game. Because being a Baylor fan is our normal. Can I get an amen???

As moms we have the opportunity to create what “normal” is for our kids. What an amazing thing to help craft and shape. Their view of what following Jesus looks like, having a healthy marriage looks like, what they eat, how they handle conflict, where their money is spent, the types of friendships they have. We get to define what is normal for them.

There isn’t a right or wrong “normal” and one isn’t better than the other. I’m glad I traveled the world and I am equally glad my husband is hyper-clean. Both are blessings. Both reflect the family cultures we came from.

I’ve been personally challenged these past few weeks to be more intentional in the ways I am shaping my kid’s “normal”. I’d like to encourage you to think and pray about what you value most as a family and how to help develop that in your kids.

So, when you get up early this week to read your Bible or when you shuttle kids to choir practice realize that you are actually creating your family’s culture. And that is no small thing mamas.

Side Note: If you’d like to pray for my trip and adoption, I’d love it! Our family’s adoption blog is The Six Griffins and I will be posting on Instagram  (@larkandbloom) throughout the trip, so you can follow along there!

 20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @larkandbloom.

Don’t grow weary mamas

By | Get Inspired | 14 Comments

Note from Kat: This post is from my friend and monthly contributor Liz Griffin. Go check out her blog. Good stuff.

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my sick little boy and his emergency vehicles taking a nap

Sniff, sniff. Cough, sneeze, moan. These were the sounds echoing through the doctor’s waiting room yesterday. I was just in there for a check up but was terrified that I’d leave with the flu. I hate the flu. Well, I take that back. If it is mild then small retreat of privacy I get in my room is actually kind of nice for a few days. Its when my kids get the flu that I freak.

My son got a stomach bug not too long ago. We were out of town ( of course ) and it hit hard. I was sitting in the bedroom with him doing what I could to make him comfortable and of course holding the big silver bowl to his face when he got sick to his stomach. I’d wipe his face off and try to rock him till the next bout of upset stomach came.

At about 2am I was pretty much over it. The tender wiping of his face to clean it off got a bit more lax. He was going to throw up again in about 5 minutes, so what was the point? Plus, I was so tired by now. Hours of wiping, washing, rocking and trying unsuccessfully to get liquids to stay down.

I thought to myself, “I could stop here. No one will know if I wipe his face off entirely. Certainly Tait wouldn’t care at this point if he is in a clean shirt or not.”  I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

I find myself feeling this way a lot. Not wanting to fold the laundry…we can just pull it out of the basket when we need it right? Why do I need to clean the kids table when it will get dirty again in an hour at lunch? Who cares if I organize the kids toys? They will be a total mess again tomorrow.

I think God knew that we moms will feel this way from time to time.

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

God didn’t have to tell me not to grow weary going on vacation. Or don’t get weary pursuing my own ambitions. Don’t get weary going shopping…no, He knew that doing good can be exhausting. It can be monotonous. It takes a long time.

That’s where the don’t give up part comes in. Doing good gets boring and uneventful. We want to chase shiny and glittery things instead. Like visiting Anthropologie instead of washing clothes…it smells so good in Anthropologie.

I came a cross this quote the other day and I think its pretty awesome.

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How perfect is that for us moms? All the questions we answer, clothes we fold, meals we cook and things we teach are important. Our doing them a thousand times a month doesn’t diminish their value or significance.

Don’t get tired of doing good and don’t give up. When you wipe your kids nose for the twentieth time remember that you are actually giving dignity to another human.

Providing people with clean clothes and clean living spaces is uplifting to humanity. Coming home from work and being willing to jump into your kid’s homework is giving dignity to those little people.

If you are feeling a little weary today, remember that what you do matters. Who you are as a mom gives dignity to others. Today, you can dominate the laundry room and the homework pile. It’s like Kat always says. You’re a mom and you’re kind of a big deal.

20130218-193106.jpg Elizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She    lives in Texas with her husband and two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @larkandbloom.

Raising Justice-Minded Kids

By | General | 15 Comments

 Note from Kat : This post is from my friend and monthly contributor Liz Griffin.

raising justice minded kids

The older I get the more thankful I am for my parents. They taught me from an early age about Jesus and were very active in helping me develop my relationship with Him. In addition to that, my parents were very intentional about developing my worldview – especially as it relates to issues of social justice.

Whenever I talk about being a naptime abolitionist, I am always asked about how we can raise our kids to be justice-minded. I am certainly not an expert, but my parents modeled it pretty well for me and I thought I would share a few ideas with you mamas today! Here we go…

1. Discuss the idea of justice in the Bible. If my kids know anything about justice I want them to know that it starts with God. Social justice is such a buzz word these days and kind of a trendy thing. That’s not bad at all, but I want to make sure justice isn’t just about doing good deeds.

It is an active way to show who God is to the world. Memorize scriptures that talk about justice and discuss Bible stories that show us how to treat people and respond to problems. (Hint: pretty much every Bible story fits this description)

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Really cool 10 year old me in Guatemala on a trip with my family. We worked at medical clinics in villages with a team of doctors.

2. Pray for an ambulance. When I was a little girl and we would see an ambulance, police car or fire truck with their lights going my mom would always have us pray. It wasn’t some big fancy prayer, just asking God to keep everyone safe and help anyone who is hurt.

This instilled in me the habit of going immediately to God when there is an emergency. I’ve seen acts of terror, natural disasters, extreme poverty and the heavy reality of human trafficking first-hand. My first response when faced with these problems is to pray and ask for God’s help first. Thanks mom!

3. Sponsor a child. This is an awesome thing to do with your kids. It is a tangible way to teach your kids to be generous and also for them to connect personally with a child they are helping. There are lots of great organizations that offer various sponsorship opportunities. Kat has a link to Compassion in the sidebar so that could be a great place to start!

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Visiting victims of the West explosion in the hospital last spring.

4. Volunteer as a family. Helping out at soup kitchens, packing school supplies for low-income students and visiting elderly are just some great things you can do together. Some of my favorite memories as a kid are when my family served our community together. If you don’t know where to start, talk to your pastor about needs in the community.

5. Model how to interact with others. When a homeless person stops you for help don’t just brush them off. Ask their name and look them in the eye. Show your kids that everyone is important no matter what they look like or how little they have.

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My daughter playing with kids in a low-income neighborhood in south Texas.

6. Read biographies. Go by the library and get some books about people who made a difference in their world. Our family would ready missionary biographies growing up and I loved them. Plenty have been written about famous figures in the area of justice – Martin Luther King, Jr. , Florence Nightingale, or Abraham Lincoln would be great for starters.

7. Talk to them about what justice looks like in their world. One of the biggest misconceptions we have is that to “do justice” we have to become lawyers or move to Africa to build wells. The reality is that we are all called to do justice (Micah 6:8). So talk to your kids about what justice looks like for them. Maybe it is involving a kid who is being left out on the playground or standing up to a bully at school. Show them what they can do right where they are.

8. Take your family to visit another country. Taking your kids to another country is a great way to help them develop a heart for justice and missions. I know that is expensive and may not be possible for everyone to do. However, maybe your family could set a goal of going on a mission trip and start saving for it now.

Mamas, I believe that our kids are going to change the world! It is about just doing little things in the pace of everyday life that we can show them how to love God and love others. 

What things do you do to help raise justice-minded kids? Click here to share your ideas and join the discussion!

20130218-193106.jpg Elizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She    lives in Texas with her husband and two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @larkandbloom.

What The Federal Government Taught Me About Motherhood

By | General | 16 Comments

 Note from Kat: This is a post from my friend and monthly contributor, Liz Griffin.

IMG_8361-1 Meetings on the Hill with Jady

A few weeks ago I packed up my bags, took my husband Jady and boarded a plane to Washington DC. This sounds so posh to say, but I had some meetings with Congressional offices to talk about human trafficking and ways to combat it here in the United States. Perhaps at this point you are totally bewildered about who I am and why in the world I would be doing this? You can get filled in here where I talk about being a Naptime Abolitionist.

The first thing that struck me when we entered into the various congressional buildings was how shiny the floors were. Seriously, they were gleaming. I’d pay money to know what they use on those suckers because I need to buy it. Only a mom would notice things like that.

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Meeting with Congressman Flores…and do you see how shiny the floor is???

Once I got over the sparkling tiles, I allowed myself to soak in the power of where I was. This place is arguably one of the most influential few square miles on the planet. And here I was, a stay-at-home mom, sharing my ideas with them. I’m guessing this is where the whole “foolish things to shame the wise” verse comes into play.

We met with various organizations, legislative directors, and chiefs of staff. I was really nervous at first. These people had degrees and credentials plastered on their office walls. I hold a bachelor’s degree in political science, which basically qualifies me to drive a bus in DC.

The more we dialogued about the problem with jurisdiction of agencies, financial implications, or bipartisan challenges, the more comfortable I felt. Not because I have degrees in economics and experience drafting legislation, but because I talk about these things in my living room with my kids almost every day.

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The nature of the conversation was political, but it could be boiled down to sharing, having compassion and how to prefer others over ourselves. These are the principles I was talking about with politicians and it is what I talk about with my kids.

Walking through the streets in DC it was very tempting to pass buildings like the Dept. of Education, Dept. of Justice or the Center for Disease Control and feel like “those” people are the movers and shakers. The ones who are responding to the big issues and needs of our day.

My meetings in Washington taught me something though.

Social reform starts in our living rooms as we teach our kids how to engage the world around them. —> click to tweet

I don’t have to work in those fancy buildings to address issues of international importance…

Teaching my kids to read. Education reform.

Helping them learn how to save their money. Fiscal responsibility.

Training them to stand up for a bullied classmate. National defense.

Feeding them healthy food & teaching them the value of exercise. Healthcare reform.

Learning to work through & resolve conflict. Bipartisanship. 

The list goes on…

I am thankful for all those in public service for their work to address very real and significant issues. However, I am acutely aware of how directly I can influence those things as I raise my kids and teach them how to live their lives.

So mammas, maybe you deal with feeling like other people are doing the big & important work. I just met with those “other” people and they are, in many ways, trying to make up for what didn’t happen in living rooms.

As you break up another fight today, make another meal, and annoy your kids at the grocery store by taking forever to compare prices — know this. You are doing something of national importance. Transforming the world from our minivans is what we moms do best. Go get ’em ladies.

Do you ever feel like “other” people do the important work?  Join the discussion and share your thoughts! Click here to join the discussion!

 

20130218-193106.jpgElizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two little kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her over at Lark & Bloom or on twitter @larkandbloom.