Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Eli!

Well, he did it... my boy finally turned five! For some reason this was a huge milestone for me. I think it could be because five is the age that you go to kindergarten. And that means Eli will be away from me every day of the week during the school year. That's a big deal!

We celebrated Eli's birthday in style yesterday with a party filled with family, friends, and neighbors. He loved the attention and was very grateful for all his gifts. He and his friends had a blast together! After seeing my friend Alison do this for her kids' birthdays, I decided to do a quick photo review of the last 5 years of Eli's life :)

Newborn Eli

1 yr old

2 yrs old

3 yrs old

4 yrs old

5 yrs old

Happy Birthday, buddy! Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you! You are growing up to be a smart, loving, and kind boy. Keep listening to Jesus in your heart and He will help you become a wonderful man some day!

Monday, December 08, 2008

The India Story - To His Glory

After landing in Nepal and driving to Bihar, India, I realized that I am quite naive to the quality of living and needs around the world. I recognized a day or two into our trip that the hardship and despair I saw in India was reality for those people; they were not just putting on a show for me, the visiting American. I know that sounds ridiculous, but for a while, I think I was seeing the whole thing as if watching a movie - nothing seemed real. I think I had convinced myself that life couldn't be as bad as people make it look on TV. But I soon began to see that for many many people in the world, life is nothing like the ease and comfort I've become familiar with. Seeing the desperate situations many of the people in India endured made me realize how much I had been leaning on the world to provide my sense of comfort and sense of self.

Also, God showed me that my identity can not be found in the things of this world or the praise of men. This didn't necessarily come from any one experience or sight, but just something that God spoke quietly into my heart over the time we were there. Over the past year I have been struggling to find my “place” as a mom. I have felt the need to be more than what I am – to try to make a name for myself somehow. But I realized that making a name for myself outside of where God has placed me is selfish, arrogant, and destructive. It only brings me to a place of discontentment with God. This doesn't mean I'm never allowed to do things where people praise me, but that I can't do it for the sake of their praise.

This was a hard lesson for me, but something that I really needed to hear! I came home with a whole new outlook on my job as a mom. I still am not perfect, but I have found myself enjoying my kids and my responsibilities again! I am so thankful that God didn't allow me to continue seeking my own glory over His.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The India Story - Culture Shock

This is what I was faced with when I arrived in India that first day:

Talk about culture shock! Everywhere we went, we were oddities. People stopped, stared, and sometimes even pointed at us because we were unusual. I recognized maybe for the first time in my life that Caucasians are not the majority every where on earth. I am not culturally biased; I have friends of different color and backgrounds, but living in middle-class, Midwestern suburbia has distorted my view of the world significantly. Somewhere in my subconscious mind I began to believe that my experience of life was typical across the globe, even when my conscious mind knew this was false. I also came to the recognition that Caucasians are not the only facet of God. We were ALL created in His image: Caucasian, African, Indian, Asian - we are all displaying parts of our Creator. The American image of a white Jesus with light eyes and blondish hair is just as inaccurate as my image of a white King sitting on His throne in heaven. In my time in India and Nepal I fell in love with the Indian/Asian people and culture. I found beauty where before I had only found unfamiliarity. This was a true blessing to me.

All the photos and video in this post are from Steve Hurry, one of the members of our team, and the ServLife staff member on our trip. Many thanks to Steve for allowing use of his photos on my blog! The photos are really amazing. If you're interested, you can view them full-size here.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The India Story - Overview

There is so much I could share about my trip. I have over a thousand photos collected from all the members of our team I could put on here that would only give you a taste of all that I saw and experienced. This is what I hope to be the first in a series of posts where I share about my time in India and Nepal.

First I'll share a quick overview of our trip:
We had a team of 9 people from my church, Common Ground Christian Church who went on the trip. The leader of our team was Steve, a staff member from ServLife International (the ministry we were visiting) and a member of Common Ground.

Back Row (L-R): Jen, Carrie, Dustin, Jessica, Jana, Steve
Front Row (L-R): Vanessa, Me, Alicia

It was about a 2 day trip through Incheon, South Korea and Kathmandu, Nepal; plus a short commuter flight and a 1 hr drive to reach Bihar, India. We stayed in Bihar in the ServLife orphanage/pastor training school for about 6 days where we played with and loved on the kids and attended/spoke at the annual indigenous Indian pastor’s conference. Then we flew back Kathmandu and stayed there for 2 days where we visited two ServLife ministries there. Then we took about two days to return home.

View Larger Map

I wanted to go on this trip to get outside of myself. To see the world as many experience it instead of as I experience it every day. I had been feeling very lukewarm about my walk with God for a long time. I thought this just might jump-start things. It was scary to go, but I had a lot of hope for what would happen. We stayed overnight in South Korea on our way to India, and I was missing my family and scared about what was coming. This was the prayer that started my trip: "Bring peace to the unease of my heart! No, wait; don't bring peace… peace breeds complacency. Challenge me! Stretch me! Grow me! I want my heart to expand outside of myself.” I should have known that God would answer my prayer!

Monday, December 01, 2008

I'm back!

I'm back from my internet hiatus and my trip to India! I have lots of things to process and many great stories to share. I hope to put together a slide show and explanation of my trip to share with you all here in the near future :) For now, I'll just post a few of my favorite pics from the trip.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I decided yesterday that the internet is taking over my life! Not really, but I do seriously need to reduce the amount of browsing and reading and overall internet surfing I participate in. With my trip coming up I really want to spend this next week preparing my mind and spirit for what I will experience in India. I also want to take some serious time for reflection and reconnection with my family when I return. So I'm taking a hiatus from the internet until the end of November. I will miss all you lovely people, but I promise to check in with you and see what you've been up to after the end of the month! I will still be checking my email since this is the only way to be notified about my work stuff, so if you need me feel free to email, but otherwise I'll see you after Thanksgiving :)

I leave you with this parting photo to keep me in your hearts until my return!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Walk in the Park

Yesterday was a glorious day! The sun was shining; the air was crisp and cool; the trees were on fire with brilliant colors; I was with my family. It was a wonderful day! We had started out rough. Matt's 31st birthday party was Saturday, and the kids stayed up way too late, so they were not the most friendly little people on Sunday. We wanted to get out of the house to kind of reset as a family - work on all of our attitudes a bit. Going on a nice long walk seemed to us the way to do it.

For Matt and I this looks a little different. Matt loves the city - the sites, sounds, and smells of urban life. I love the country - the quite, solitude, and nature. Well, living 30 min outside of a "downtown" area meant that we went for the country :) Our town has a relatively new town park with an amazing walking trail we'd never been on. The trail leads from the playground, around a huge pond, past a creek and trails that lead to neighborhoods, past a frisbee golf course and an amazing old barn (that hides a small dumping ground for the park, it looks like). I took along the camera and caught some really nice (and sometimes goofy) shots of my husband and kids. We had a wonderful time of rest and relaxation as a family. Enjoy a little snapshot of our time!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Krochet Kids

Early this spring I was investigating the idea of starting my own business. I was looking into the idea that it might be possible to use my love of all things yarny to support my family and make an impact in the world. I had a vision that either the items I made or the money I earned could be put to a better use than lining my pockets, but I didn't know what that was. I came across an organization called Krochet Kids International that was doing something very cool... something much like what I'd like to do!

KKI works in Uganda to teach skills to women vulnerable to poverty and disease. First they are taught to crochet. The items they make can be sold for a profit which gives them a sustainable source of income when they graduate from the program. They are also taught personal budgeting, financial saving, and small business management, with the hope being that the skills they are given will provide them the ability to build a small business of their own handiwork to provide for their families.

The women who are currently a part of the program are all single mothers or balancing the running of their own households and their extended families' as well. They are women who have been displaced and, in many cases, orphaned by war. They are women who live lives in conditions that many of us can not imagine even exist. They are women who love God, love their families, and love their country. They are women just like you, or your mother, or your sister, or your wife.

So how does this impact you? In the words of Pamela, one of the women who is a part of KKI's program, "I want the American people to love us and they should pray for us as well so that we have peace in Northern Uganda." In addition to loving and praying for these women, you can also invest in their lives in a tangible way. KKI has a store that sells actual items these women make. Each hat is handmade by one of the 10 women currently involved in the program. Each hat is a piece of a woman's life. Each stitch is made with love and a hope that their circumstances can change. I know many of you have made the commitment to have a "handmade Christmas" - where all the gifts you give are handmade by you or someone else - why not add a Krochet Kids hat to your gift giving this year? You will not only be giving to the recipient of the hat, you will be giving to the lives of women who have a much greater need than many of us can imagine! If you don't want to purchase a hat, check out their site for other ways to get involved!

"How does my purchase support these women?" you ask. The woman who are a part of KKI are given a salary for making the hats. Your purchase supports the mission of Krochet Kids International, making it possible for them to provide the salary for the women and expand their programs to include more women in the future. "Proceeds from hat sales are infused back into the very communities from which they came in order to promote further development and aid in Northern Uganda. We seek to aid the continued efforts of education, healthcare, and clean water through the work of various local organizations." (from the KKI website)

Disclaimer: I do not work for (nor was I solicited for promotion from) Krochet Kids International. I honestly believe in this 501(c)(3) non-profit Christian organization and its impact on the lives of the Ugandan women. In my opinion this organization is a great model for how we can use our giftings to promote health and hope around the world! All of the information I have presented here comes from their website (much of it from this page). I cannot verify how the funds of your purchase impact the global community. Instead I am going on faith that this program is legit and does what it claims to do. Please read the story of how KKI got started and form your own opinion before making any purchases.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Day 5 - Winner Announced!

Congratulations to Dorothy!

Since I never heard from Breien, Dorothy is our runner up! Dorothy,
please email your mailing address to me (knitsandknots at gmail dot com) and I will get your info to Hearts at Home so they can get it out to you right away!


Congratulations to Breien in Lansingerland !!

Her name was drawn** to win a free copy of Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God. Breien, pl ease email your mailing address to me (knitsandknots at gmail dot com) and I will get your info to Hearts at Home so they can get it out to you right away!

Thanks to everyone who participated, I hope you enjoyed learning more about Hearts at Home this week! If you haven't already done so, check out to check out all the free mothering resources!

**note: Winners were chosen by assigning a number to each commenter, and then using the random number generator at to determine the winning entry. If I don't hear from Breien by the end of the day Friday, Sept 26 a new winner will be drawn and announced.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Contest Day 4 - Resources

Hearts at Home has tons of resources available to support the development of any mom in any stage of life. I bought two books last year, Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God and My Heart's at Home by H-a-H founder Jill Savage. These both seemed timeless and like great long-term resources as my kids won't be tiny forever!

Since I already shared about Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God on Monday, I thought I'd share about My Heart's at Home today. Jill Savage is a mom to 5 children - she knows what she's talking about when it comes to mothering! Here's an excerpt from the website where you can buy the book:
Founder and CEO of Hearts at Home Jill Savage explores the important role "home" plays in a family's journey. With her personable and engaging style, Jill shares practical ideas, grace for mistakes, and spiritual insight from her experience as a mother of five and conversations with many other moms that will inspire you to create a home environment that fills your heart in more ways than you can imagine.
I really loved Jill's casual writing style that both encouraged me as a mom and challenged me to think. One thing Jill talked about was making my home a refuge from the cold, cruel world - not just for my own children, but for each child who enters my door. As a part-time childcare provider for my nephew and various other children through out the year, this was a huge encouragement and challenge to me!

Don't forget, today is the last day to leave a comment on my blog to be entered in a chance receive a copy of Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God! Or you can visit to purchase your own copy of My Heart's at Home or any other of their wonderfull resources. You can even sign up for a free e-newsletter to stay connected to Hearts at Home throughout the year!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Contest Day 3 - Conferences

Hearts at Home holds 3 conferences annually in the center of the country. I attended the Great Lakes Regional conference in Grand Rapids last year. I'll share with you what the experience was like for me at my first Hearts at Home experience.

We arrived on a Friday evening and joined thousands of other moms for an evening of music, drama, and fun. The speaker was Lisa Welchel ("Blair" from "The Facts of Life" for those of you born by 1980) who was very entertaining and encouraging. At the end of the evening we had a chance to shop through the huge store of resources that they had brought along and set up in the conference center. The Friday night session is considered a "Mom's Night Out" and it was a great way to spend a Friday night!

We enjoyed a leisurely evening and woke up early the next morning for the full day of workshops. We had a few main sessions featuring Lisa again. My friend and I also attended 4 workshops that day. Some of our workshops overlapped, some did not. We each had picked 10 sessions that seemed interesting to us, and the conference coordinators made sure that each person got to attend 4 of the 10 they had picked. A lunch was provided for us and we met up to eat together. The day was capped off with a great worship session and send-off. We took some time to look through the "store" again and then walked a few blocks to the downtown area and had a great meal.

One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was when my friend and I sat down that evening and looked over the notes we had taken. We shared what we learned at the sessions we weren't in together. It was like I had gone to 7 instead of my 4! It was a great time of processing what I had learned. It was that night that we decided we were making the trip back to the same conference this year! It was so moving and impactful that we knew we needed to make it a priority to come again. I returned home renewed, refreshed, and "recharged" with a new outlook on how to be the best mom and wife I could be!

After all this talk of what Hearts at Home is all about, it makes you want to go, doesn't it? Well there's still time to sign up for these conferences:

October 3-4, 2008 Grand Rapids, Michigan
November 7-8, 2008 Rochester, Minnesota
March 13-14, 2009 Bloomington, Illinois

If you don't live close enough to drive to a conference, and hopping on a plane isn't an option, you can also order a Home Conference Packet which gives you the conference via CD. That's a nice deal for the nursing mother that's not ready to leave her little one and come as well! Visit for more info.

Don't forget to leave a comment about how you keep your "mommy batteries" charged to be entered in the drawing to receive a Hearts at Home resource!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Contest Day 2- Founder interview

Tanks for all the great comments yesterday. I have a great list of ideas now of how to keep my "mommy batteries" charged! Remember - if you leave a comment on this or any post this week, you will be entered in a drawing to win a valuable Hearts at Home resource! (See Monday's post for more info) Today's post is going to include a question and answer style interview with Hearts at Home Founder, Jill Savage.

What is the meaning of the name "Hearts at Home"
There are so many good things that a mom can do---not just in the workplace, but also in the volunteer arenas. Before we know it, our heart is tugged in so many different directions. We encourage women to keep their heart at home---making their family their first priority---because we only have one chance to raise our kids.

Briefly describe your ministry and its purpose.
Hearts at Home is a Christ-centered organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the profession of motherhood. We offer encouragement through our conference events, website (, published resources, bi-monthly magazine, and our newly launched radio program. Our National conference alone, held in Central Illinois every spring, hosts over 5,000 moms each year. The women who attend represent over 30 different states.

What does it mean to professionalize motherhood?
Most moms answer the "what do you do" question with "Oh, I'm just a mom." That answer alone speaks volumes about the lack of value she feels about what she does everyday. However, when a woman thinks of motherhood as a valid profession, she carries herself differently. A professional sets goals, seeks out continuing education, and sees her contribution to society in a positive way. When this woman answers the "what do you do" question, she responds with I'm a wife and a mom and I love my job. I'm a woman committed to the profession of motherhood.

How do you run an international ministry and still be the mother you're instructing others to be?
15 years ago when Hearts at Home had our first mothering conference, we were expecting about 500 moms to attend. When 1100 mothers from 10 states showed up we realized that what we meant for a one-time event, God meant for the birth of a ministry. One of my early prayers was, "Lord, if this is going to be bigger than my vision, you have to send me many moms to make the work light." God has answered that prayer over and over again. We have over 150 moms and about a dozen dads that serve the Hearts at Home ministry year-round. They each take one little piece of the puzzle and do their job well. I may be the most visible voice and face of the ministry, but home is still my priority.

Why must mothers make sure that their hearts are at home?
Most of us don't realize just how fast our kids grow up. In the blink of an eye your kid moves from a Happy Meal to Value Meal #9! When you keep your heart at home, you make the most of this unique season of motherhood.

How do you become the "intentional" mom that your family needs? What exactly does it mean to be intentional about motherhood?
Being intentional is about deliberately using the moments we are given with our children. It's about being proactive rather than reactive. An intentional mom has a vision for her family and home environment and she pursues that with purpose and goals.

Jill Savage and her husband Mark live in Central Illinois with their five children ranging in ages 8-20. Jill is the founder of Hearts at Home (, and is a sought after author and speaker.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blog Contest Week!

One of my favorite ministries for mommies, Hearts at Home, is hosting a Blog Contest Week and I wanted to take part! Hearts at Home is a Christian-based ministry, dedicated to supporting and encouraging mothers through every stage of motherhood - from bringing home their first newborn baby to helping their adult children cope with a newborn of their own! Each day this week I will be sharing a little bit about the ministry of Hearts at Home and what it has meant to me as a wife and mother of 2 preschoolers. Stay tuned for info on how you can win a valuable Hearts at Home resource!

As a college student, I always pictured myself as a career woman who would easily balance the pressures of business and the priorities of being a mother. All that changed drastically the moment I found out I was expecting our first child! Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to be home with my baby all day every day to watch him or her grow.

I began to stay home with my son the day he was born and soon discovered that this mothering thing is not as easy or "natural" as everyone had made me think! I was now the main source of care and and love for this tiny being. How was I to take care of him and still find room for caring for myself? It got even harder as another child joined our family and I began to feel like I no longer existed.

I had heard about Hearts at Home through some friends at church who attended a conference every year, but had been unable to attend. Last year I decided it was time to invest in motherhood they way I invest in any business prospect - I needed to get some training! I convinced a friend to attend, and we headed up to Grand Rapids, MI for the Great Lakes Regional Conference. I'll share more about my experience there in a later post, but for now I will say the conference awakened me to a whole new concept of mothering and really recharged my "mommy batteries"!

And now for the contest!!!
One of the best resources I bought at the conference last year was a devotional book called Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God, by Mary E. Demuth. Its a wonderful book full of 1-2 page reminders of why it is we do what we do as Christian women, mothers and wives. I found it to be invaluable over the last year as I sometimes read the same devotionals day after day, soaking in God's truth about me time and again! If you leave a comment on this post, or any post this week, your name will be entered into a drawing to win your very own copy of Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God provided by Hearts at Home. Here's what I want you to answer in your comment: what you do to keep your "mommy batteries" charged?

Check out for more info on the ministry and conferences available!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Upcoming Trips!

The next few months before holiday season is going to be busy for me. I am heading to a Mom's conference over a long weekend in October and then to India for 10 days in early November! I'll be posting more about the mom's conference next week, but today I'll share about India.

Here's an excerpt from the support letter I have sent out:
God has been doing many things in my life lately, not the least of which is giving me a desire to develop a heart of compassion for the people of the world. Living in a supportive and loving community surrounded by people who are in many ways very much like me has been wonderful for my spiritual growth, but it has served to insulate me from the needs of people around the globe.

On November 8-18, I have the opportunity to join a team from my church to serve at an orphanage in Raxaul, Bihar, India and dive head-first into the world as it is experienced by many people today. If you don't know much about the region, Bihar is a north-central Indian state, bordering Nepal. I am told that there are 85 million people there, less than 2% of whom claim Christianity. Bihar is considered the "graveyard of missions". ServLife, a Christian organization, has an orphanage there and is building a new building, as well as a school, resident guesthouse, and training school building. They are a bright light in a very dark place. We hope to support the local Indian missionaries and build eternal relationships. (If you would like to know more about ServLife and how to participate in what God is doing around the world, please check out their website:

The orphanage will also be hosting a pastor's conference for indigenous Indian pastors while we are there. We will be spending time with the children, encouraging the staff, and providing some basic medical care including vitamins and protein supplements. We will also help out with the pastor's conference, and some from our team may provide teaching as well. It is our prayer and hope to encourage the saints in India doing God's work, and to play a small role serving while we are there.

I am really excited about the trip and trust that God will provide the funds for me to attend. Matt and I have been considering adoption for a long time, and having the opportunity to serve in an international orphanage will hopefully go a long way in truly breaking my heart for the children of the world. Please pray with me as I prepare to leave! You can also keep my family in your prayers as Matt will be staying home with the kids the whole time I'm gone - a mission all on its own!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jesus on YouTube

It occurred to me the other day to question why Jesus was born at the time in history that he was. I mean I know the people of Israel were groaning for a Saviour, but was there more? Did God choose to incarnate himself before the invention of much of the technology that we have at our disposal today? What would happen if we had videos clips of Jesus up on YouTube that we could turn to anytime we wondered what he said instead of having to read the bible? What if instead of ever holding the printed Word of God in our hands, we read them on our Blackberry between stops on the subway, while texting our BFF about that cute guy we met last night? Where would the Holy Spirit come in here? There would be so many MORE ways to pick apart Jesus words and read into his inflection that we might decide we don't need the Great Counselor to impact our hearts and give clarity to our thoughts. Our lives are so hectic today, that I'm not sure Jesus would ever be heard correctly. He would just be another "lunatic extremest" to pick on in the media. He would maybe even get lost in the jumble of spiritual opinions that you can come across in only a brief search on the internet. Maybe God chose the time he did because it was perfect... obviously God chose the perfect time. He chose a time where transition of the message of Christ would be limited by a persons commitment to the Gospel; where you couldn't make Jesus your part-time job; where it was all or nothing, with no in-betweens. Maybe that's a lesson for us today. Is Jesus my part-time job? Or do I commit my life fully to him everyday, not pushing him aside for the ease and interest of technology?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

but I love you! *squish*

Today Eli was trying to show Anna that he loved her by giving her a huge bear hug. Much to Eli's consternation, Anna didn't appreciate this and tried to push him off. This made Eli upset, who then - to prove his deep devotion to his sister who obviously didn't understand what he was trying to do - proceeded to lay on top of her and smother her with affection. This all ended with me having to break up a fight with the warning to Eli that if he didn't stop trying to hug his sister that he would get a spank! Would a mother really spank her child for hugging their sibling? Sometimes I wonder about the words that come out of my mouth. I say them without thinking. I think them without questioning if its what I really mean. Some days I just go on auto pilot and don't stop to consider what the impact of the words I'm saying might really be. Eli's response to my threat was "but if I stop hugging her, I'll stop loving her!" So sweet, so innocent, so confused. I'm glad we took the time to talk about what I really meant this time before I carried through out of frustration.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Spider Mouths

Ok, Eli said what I consider to be the most ridiculous thing ever the other night. He came into our bedroom at about 2 am scared because there were spiders in his room. Of course Matt went in and showed him there were no spiders. He came back at 2:30, again at 3, again at 3:30... this continued on until Matt said "There are no spiders, the spiders aren't real, you're just imagining them!" Eli's response was "The spiders in my room aren't real, just part of the spider is real." and when we asked the response was - Their Mouths. So my son was up all night afraid of spider mouths. At the time it was so anger-producing... now it makes me laugh. How do kids do this? How can their minds so bend the reality of life and instead see whatever they desire? Maybe that's why God tells us to have the faith of a child. Because they can look past the confusing "truths" we're faced with and just see the good or bad, the right or wrong... they see God with out all the colored lenses that adults do. And they can beleive that God can do anything, even things that aren't logical. Maybe I should spend more time trying to imagine spider mouths!