{I Heart Faces} July Photo Challenge: Enjoying Life

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.

(A.A. Milne)

Photo Challenge Submission

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Coats, Coats, Coats

Things in life don’t ever seem to turn out as well as I imagine them. In spite of a yucky rainy day, we loaded the kids up and went to the bazaar in search of coats.
Of course everything had already gone wrong this morning– baby with a fever, kids fighting, parents speaking unkind words to each other. Ain’t that always the way it goes when you’re trying to be a “good Christian” and do something like buy 14 coats to send to poor children who live in a cold, snowy, devastated place? That’s how it seems to go for us anyway…
I think Hubby’s face says it all here. But doesn’t he look like St. Nick with his big bag o’ coats?
We got 14 coats. We actually ended up having more than $100 to spend on coats. When I blogged yesterday, two people wanted me to buy a couple of coats from them to add in, so the blessing multiplies. God is good.
(I totally realize the picture of the coats is oriented wrong, and usually I would so care, but I just don’t today. If you’ve ever dragged three kids- one sick- to the outdoor bazaar in the rain after a horrible night’s sleep, you understand. Ahem.) 

In spite of the rain and the bad moods, we shared some sweet conversation with the kids about why we were buying so many coats and where they were going to go. 
Ladybug promptly burst into tears and said, “I don’t want to go to Van!” I think she thought we were cancelling our trip to America for Christmas and heading to Van to deliver the coats instead. After that misunderstanding was cleared up, she was very happy to help get the coats.
And I may still be a little disappointed that I didn’t win an iPad… but how can I be anything but joyful that he will have a coat this week?

I Won Today

I won a blog giveaway today.

I won $100 cash to give away to someone else from Nancy Ray Photography. Isn’t that awesome and christmas-y and fun??????

It would be if I wasn’t such a wretched, sinful being.

You see, the original giveaway was for an iPad2 PLUS $100 cash to give away to someone in need. All you had to do to enter was leave a comment saying what you would do with the $100 if you won. Cool, huh?

Note: Honestly I would never pay for an iPad. I have an iPod touch (although the screen is busted) and an iPad just seems like a toy to me… a toy I could never justify paying that much money for. But to win one for free from a blog giveaway? Cool. I’m down. Hubby said that if I won (a long shot at best!) we could sell the iPad and put the money into our adoption fund. So I entered- hey everyone else online was doing it.

I mentioned here that Hubby was doing disaster relief work a couple weeks ago. He was helping to build shelters for families who have been displaced by a major earthquake in Van, Turkey. As he told me about how cold he was (wearing three layers of bottoms and four or more layers of tops… edit: Hubby just told me he was wearing SIX layers on top!), and sent me pictures like this…

…my heart was saddened. These kids don’t have any coats on! (And it had started snowing while Hubby was there! It’s cold y’all!) As a mama, my heart aches when I see children in need around the world. Children going without the things- like coats– that my children (AND ME!) take for granted every single day.

So on the iPad giveaway blog, that’s what popped into my head! I would take the $100, buy as many kid-sized coats as I could, and I would cargo them to one of the men Hubby met while working in Van. It sounded like so much fun as I thought about it… Of course it would be a family affair to take the kids out, bargain for the coats to be cheaper (I love living overseas!), talk to the Bugs about how wealthy we are compared to the rest of the world, and how awesome it is to be able to give to others… yada yada yada.

(I don’t mean yada yada yada like this isn’t important. This is very important.)

The problem is that I have a wicked heart and tonight I glimpsed again just how wicked.

My friend called me to tell me I had won a giveaway on Nancy Ray’s blog. NO WAY! I exclaimed and laughed as I pictured myself checking Facebook on my brand new iPad. Visions of the kids and me cuddled up watching Mickey Mouse episodes together on the shiny iPad screen danced in my head.

She went on to explain that it wasn’t the iPad I had won, but a generous anon had given an extra $100 to be given away and I had been chosen to give that $100 away.

SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?


Inside, my mini-me sinner started stomping her feet. No iPad? Her lips pursued into a pouty grimace. No new toy for me?  Her sense of entitlement screamed– only $100 to give away? But what about ME? What do I get?


I am ashamed to tell you about all this. It’s hard to realize (yet again) that I am a sinner, and to be transparent with others is even harder. But I can’t just let you read my comment on Nancy Ray’s blog and think– oh what a great little Christian girl! She’s so happy to buy coats for those poor children and bless them this Christmas! Her first thought is probably simply for others as she spends her life working overseas.

Because that ain’t how it went down y’all. But I’m happy to report that with the help of the Holy Spirit, I was able to recognize my thoughts and attitude as sin, and ask God to forgive me. I was being selfish, petty, self-centered, entitled, jealous, and I was coveting a stupid iPad. And tomorrow morning, we will bundle our three little Bugs up in their coats, we will head over to the local bazaar and I will bargain my heart out to get as many coats as I possibly can with that $100. And we will talk to them about needs and wants and how important it is to care for the poor and the helpless and the widow and the orphan. And I’m pretty sure as we walk home with all our coats in hand to box up and send, I’ll realize what a precious gift this experience has been to me.

So anonymous donor, whoever you are, thank you. Thank you of course, for making it possible for some kids in Van in the snow to have new warm coats.

But thank you from me too. If you hadn’t given that money for the extra giveaway, I would not have had the chance to see my sinfulness in this way, and be forgiven. I maybe would not have seen so clearly this Christmas how selfish and petty my heart (still) is. And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to step outside of my self, my family, my Christmas, my life for a few minutes and experience the awesome joy of doing something generous for someone else. And I might not have had the chance to have those important conversations with my kids. So from the bottom of my heart, Thank You and Merry Christmas!

(I will hopefully have a chance to blog this week about buying the coats and mailing them off…)

‘Tis the Season– Last Chance!

Today is the last day to participate in the ‘Tis the Season carnival by linking up a gift ideas post to one of the categories from this week. I will choose the winners of the giveaways tomorrow morning (my time– I’m seven hours ahead of EST) and email them!

Here are the categories you can post about and link up to:

1. Gift Ideas FOR HER

2. Gift Ideas FOR HIM

3. Gift Ideas FOR THE KIDS

4. Gift Ideas FOR THE BOOK LOVER

5. Gift Ideas FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT

So, link up any time today and good luck in the giveaways!
Don’t remember what the giveaways are?!

Lisa Leonard Aqua Stone Earrings

AllforAbby Frame-A-Name

Gift Ideas FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT


Today’s gift ideas are all about creativity– a gift that is a little different.

1. Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog: My parents give each of their kids a gift from the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog each Christmas. Basically it is a gift in honor of. They are gifts like milk for children, blankets for families, toy lambs that play Jesus Loves Me, a bicycle for a pastor around the world– you pick out whichever gift you’d like to give, and you can give it in honor of another person. They have really beautiful “in honor of” cards you can get to tell the person what you gave in their honor. It’s a super gift idea for anyone, especially people who have a heart for the world. Here’s an example of a gift:

Gift 21 – Feed a Hungry Baby for a Week

Suggested Gift: $9

2. A personalized T-shirt Quilt: I got a T-shirt quilt made this summer with T-shirts symbolizing my relationship with Hubby. A shirt from the college we went to, the college ministry we were apart of, a trip we took to NYC, a shirt I got on our honeymoon, the shirt I was wearing when Hubs proposed– it is such a special way to preserve memories! My friend, Courtney, has started a little business making quilts, and she did a fabulous job. I actually just got a tacked blanket, so there’s no quilt stuffing, but it’s a perfect couch snuggling blankie! Here’s a picture Courtney posted to her business blog after she finished my blanket. Isn’t it fabulous? I love it! Having a special blanket or quilt done like this would be a great gift idea! (I even thought about having a blankie done with snippets of all my favorites of the baby clothes the Bugs wore… wouldn’t that be sweet?)

3. Homemade goodies: This is always a hit. My mom has always been a Christmas baker, whipping up all sorts of deliciousness during the month of December and presenting pretty plates of the goodies to teachers, pastors, and friends during the holidays. I have continued the tradition since getting married. It’s special to get in the kitchen as a family (or by yourself) and make some delicious treats to gift! (It’s also quite a bit cheaper than buying gifts for everyone in your life.) Plus, you get to sample the goods yourself, so this is a win-win situation!

OK, there are some of my favorite gift ideas for something different– who’s next? Tell all your great ideas for gifts FOR THE SOMETHING DIFFERENT on your blog, then come back to Momfessions, and click below where it says “MckLinky”. Enter your name and the link to your gift idea post. Don’t forget, each time you link up a gift ideas post this week, you’re entered to win one of the awesome giveaways!

(Check here for carnival guidelines.)

Gift Ideas FOR THE BOOK LOVER

Books are a popular gift around our house. Hubs and I were both teachers in our previous lives in the states, so we love childrens’ books, and gift them to our kids. I grew up as a avid reader, devouring fiction, and though that passion has waned some, I still enjoy a good book in all my spare time– HA! And Hubby is a newbie reader, but adores theology books and spy novels. So I have lots of ideas today for gifts for any book lovers on your list!

Fiction:
* Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers: Oh. my. word. This is my all-time favorite book. I’ve read it every year since my junior year of college. Love it!
* Mark of the Lion Triology by Francine Rivers: A great story– these books would make a terrific gift to any book-loving woman who loves historical fiction.
* The Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum: These are Hubby recommended. He warns that they are nothing like the movies, so read them as such!

Non-fiction:
* Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg: My absolute favorite baby how-to book. This woman speaks to my kind of parenting– I’m somewhere in between Attachment Parenting and Babywise. I love this book because before I read it I didn’t know you could be in-between AP and BW. Great gift for new or expecting mothers!
* Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose: One of Hubby’s picks. I’ve never read it!

Childrens’ Lit:
* My Very Own Name personalized storybook: Both of my kids have one of these and they are such a perfect gift! How neat that a real book is all about animals bringing the letters to spell your own name?! Click here to see a virtual book tour on the website. So cool, and helpful when your child is learning to spell their name!
* The Jesus Storybook Bible: I cannot say enough good things about this childrens’ Bible. It is a “storybook” Bible, so it’s not word-for-word, but each story is told with a emphasis on the coming Messiah (Old Testament) and the sent Messiah (New Testament). The words are stunningly beautiful, and I want to cry when Ladybug curls up in her Daddy’s lap and asks him to read her the Bible.
* Olivia by Ian Falconer
* Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
* If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Other:
* ESV Study Bible: I gave this to Hubs last year and he loves it. It had just come out last Christmas, so it’s only about a year old. I’ve heard great things about it though, and I love the English Standard Version anyway.
* Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper: Great and totally convicting book!
* Daily Light: A sweet daily devotional that is purely Scripture. I got this book as a gift recently, and it’s perfect encouragement from the Word of God. Each day has a theme and all the Scripture listed relate to the theme. It’s a great gift!
* Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman: My favorite parenting resource. This is how Hubby and I seek to train our children in righteousness. Perfect for Christian parents with toddlers or preschoolers.
* Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman: Companion and reference guide to Don’t Make Me Count to Three. Very handy and very helpful!

OK, there are some of my favorite gift ideas for book lovers– who’s next? Tell all your great ideas for gifts FOR THE BOOK LOVER on your blog, then come back to Momfessions, and click below where it says “MckLinky”. Enter your name and the link to your gift idea post. Don’t forget, each time you link up a gift ideas post this week, you’re entered to win one of the awesome giveaways!

(Check here for carnival guidelines.)

Gift Ideas FOR THE KIDS

I love shopping for my kids! It is a very rare occasion when I am out shopping and don’t see something for one of my kids! Here are some of my favorite ideas!

1. AllforAbby Frame-A-Name: I ADORE this woman’s stuff! I introduced you to Melissa while back during Fantastic Finds. It’s been a few months, and a lot has happened– Melissa and her husband brought their little girl, Abigail, home from China! How precious! Abby is having surgery this week, so please say a prayer for Melissa and Abby! I love, love, love my kids’ name frames! Aren’t they too cute? Decor for a kid’s room is a great gift idea– less plastic, junky toys for us, please!
*Melissa has agreed to do a giveaway during the ‘Tis the Season carnival! For each post you link up, you will be entered to win a Frame-A-Name or Frame-A-Family!

2. Melissa and Doug toys: Speaking of plastic, junky toys, I have to tell you how much I love Melissa and Doug’s stuff for kids! We got the kids the standard until blocks last Christmas, they are perfect for building and imagining all sorts of things! These blocks will grow with our children! We also have a lot of wooden Melissa and Doug puzzles, the kids are big fans!

3. Praise Baby DVDs: We got these DVDs as a gift right about the time Bumblebee was born. Ladybug loved them! Each DVD is 30 minutes of praier music with clips of babies, children, animals, numbers, and letters. Think Baby Einstein, but not as creepy! I could listen to praise music all day, so they don’t wear on me like the annoying voices on some of Ladybug’s other DVDs. Bumblebee has just started watching them and he’s enraptured with watching the other children! They are perfect to put in when I need some time to read my Bible and pray– and I don’t mind praise music in the background!

4. Doll Sling: This is what Ladybug has asked for this Christmas, and it thrills me to the core! I love that she watches me wear Bumblebee and wants to do the same with her babies! She asked for an Ergo specifically, but their doll carriers are $25! I found this one: on etsy from SnuggyBaby for $10! If she really seems into it, maybe we can get Ladybug an Ergo for her babies later.

OK, there are some of my favorite gift ideas for kids– who’s next? Tell all your great ideas for gifts FOR THE KIDS on your blog, then come back to Momfessions, and click below where it says “MckLinky”. Enter your name and the link to your gift idea post. Don’t forget, each time you link up a gift ideas post this week, you’re entered to win one of the awesome giveaways!

(Check here for carnival guidelines.)