Friday, February 17, 2012

A couple of good quotes from Martin (Luther)

"Riches are among the most trivial things on earth and the smallest gift God gives to a person."

When Luther thought he was dying, he wrote:

"My dear son and my dear Kate. I have nothing [in worldly goods] to bequest to you, but I have a rich God. Him I leave to you. He will nourish you well."


"Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our Mission

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  (James 1:27 ESV)

This is deep on my heart right now.  It's the essence of Living Little! Giving Big!  We want to follow the command to live out our faith by taking care of widows, orphans, and much, much more.   To open our hearts and homes to those with nothing.  To give in faith above what might seem reasonable.  To go against the grain in how we manage and spend our money because our first world emergencies are not nearly as bad as the third world emergency of starving and orphaned children.  To deny ourselves so that we don't have to deny a child their next meal.  To give of ourselves until it hurts.  Isn't that what the Savior did for us?  He opened His heart and has led us home.  He had faith in His Heavenly Father to go to the cross despite what He knew was there.  He didn't have a place to lay His head at night in order to be an example to us and what the opposite of excess looks like.  He denied Himself.  He bore the cross for us.  He gave until it hurt.  I want to be like my Savior.

The following DVD preview is a reflection of the changes the Lord is making in our lives and the heart for the orphan He is growing within us.  We have such a burden for the orphan.  I often feel so frustrated and overwhelmed by how massive the population of orphans is and how I can barely crack a dent in the surface.  I heard a statistic recently that said that those who proclaim to be Christians out number the orphans in the world.  I was blown away.  How can that be when we are clearly directed to take care of children?

Perhaps not all need to be adopted.  The mission of Jesus in Haiti is to keep the children in Haiti in the loving homes they currently have.  They give them food, shelter, and make sure all of them are educated.  The hope is that these children will grow to love their country and be able to take their faith to the people as well as use their education to possibly make the changes necessary to bring Haiti out of the pit.  God is the Father of these children but we need to giving up alot of Starbucks to make sure those children have their next meal and can go to school tomorrow.  (Remember, when we take care of the least of these we are taking care of Jesus.)

What of the orphans with no hope?  What of the children abandoned because they are sick and mom can't afford to take care of them?  What of the children whose parents were crushed under the buildings in Haiti over 2 years ago?  What of the thousands of abandoned girls in China whose mommy and daddy could not keep them because of the cruelty of a dictatorial regime?   What about the over 10,000 children in the state of Texas alone that are moved from home to home because they were emotionally and sometimes physical abused and abandoned?  Who will love these children?  Isn't this our call?

Christians, let us rise up.  Let us take the reins and begin to move into this sphere with the genuine love of Christ.  Pray about your role in taking care of widows and orphans.  I do not believe that all people are called to adopt.  But I do believe that it should at least be a conversation between a husband and wife.  Why do we think we aren't called to adopt?  Money?  Space?  Popularity or reputation?  Isn't God bigger than our bank account?  Isn't the size of our home a first world problem that God can move on behalf to solve?  Do we really want to worry more about what people will think of us in this life time or the questions our Father will ask when we face Him and have to answer for why we didn't do more?  All of our fears and doubts can be overcome.  Just ask the many numerous people who have begun to more into this realm and are seeing God perform miracles on their behalf.

There are so many ways to get involved in orphan care as a church and as a family.  For instance, there are ministries that work with children in the foster system about to age out of it.  These children often have no where to go and no help getting there. Have a heart for these kids?  Find out from your state how you might be able to help mentor these young adults and get them off to the right start.  Better yet, open your home and adopt one.  One of my favorite adoption stories was from a family that used to be in my homeschool group.  She met a young lady working at Starbucks and found out she had no family to go to over Christmas.  So they invited her over.  Several months later, this family and the young woman signed papers with the state of Texas for her to become their daughter.  I get chills every time I think about their story.  This family has adopted all of their children.

I loved the quote in the following preview.  "God didn't say natural born children are a blessing.  God said children are a blessing."  That is a powerful statement.  We MUST take a stand against the current view of our world.  The vision of this world is that children are a burden and are to be discarded.  This is never the Holy Father's view of these precious creatures.  And He's got a plan for you, dear follower of Christ.  He's got a plan.  He wants to write your adoption story.  Will you seek Him to find it?  What does He want to

One final thing.  Underdog has been talking alot recently around the concept of how we cannot waste our lives.  Neither one of us really believe that we'll retire, at least not in the normal sense of the word.  His idea is that we live to the fullest extent we've got for the glory of Christ NOW and the true reward will be in heaven.  Isn't that a beautiful idea?  Adoption is hard, no doubt.  I have never experienced the process personally (not yet) but I have read the stories and heard the reports.  Scripture talks about how our lives are the grass of the fields.  We grow up quickly and then we die.  We can't fathom the idea of how short life is.  In the scope of eternity, we last but seconds.  What will be have to say in the end that we did with our lives?  How are we going to explain the excessive materialism that we daily spend our lives chasing?  How we will explain the daily $5 coffee from Starbucks when there are children who don't get to eat today?  How will we explain the lost opportunity to bring love into our homes in ways of which we never dreamed.  But God did dream. . .we just weren't listening?  Oh people, lay down your lives.  Die to yourself and all the fleeting excesses this of this generation.  Live Little!!  GIVE BIG!!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Truth about Difficulties

Thank you, John Netwon:

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

Monday, February 13, 2012


This is where I am going this summer, Lord willing.  We had a team from our church go to Haiti last year in June and Underdog went in August with another church.  So the plan was for him to take Jennabear with him.  I would go if the funds were there.  That, well, um, changed.  And I can only thank one of the coordinators for the team this year, Jason.  (Ok, so maybe I should give more credit to the Holy Spirit but I am not yet happy about this change so I am holding back my thankfulness at this point.  :)

Underdog was telling Jason that we may not be able to go this year because we're really trying to get some of our financial house in order.  We're taking Financial Peace University right now.  If you've ever taken this course, you know the upheaval it can have in your home.  "Hard" is not enough of a word to even describe the adventure that Dave Ramsey will take you on.  I highly recommend it.

Anyhoo.  Jason mentioned that this might be a great opportunity for us to do some fund raising.  Great idea!!!  I have blocked part of this conversation out because I am still mad at Jason.  (Ha!!)  He mentioned at some point in this conversation that it might be a great idea for us to do the fund raising but that maybe I should just go by myself if the funds weren't there.  I am sure it didn't go exactly like that but that was what I heard.  As I mentioned, I blocked a good portion.

I was NOT HAPPY.  In fact, my only emotion at the time was terrified.  Underdog has always been my protector.  I go everywhere with him.  He even told me that he wanted to go to Haiti first and then take me back so that he could help me work through some of the things I was going to experience.  He felt at the time it would be hard for my sensitive spirit.  Although Jason was simply giving a suggestion, I knew where this was going. . .and Underdog was probably not going to be with me.

I was up very early this morning giving a child a breathing treatment.  (We've got RSV.  Oh goodie!!)  After put her back to bed, I decided to stay up and pray.  The Spirit is working in other areas of my heart regarding the idols that I have built up in there.  I do have another post about that at another time.  I realized, though, that over the years I had turned Underdog into an idol.  I was horrible about this in the beginning of our relationship.  Why he ever married me I will knew understand?  I am so thankful for the grace that God has poured on me to change me.  I am not the same woman I used to be in college and early marriage.  But there are still areas where I am rely WAY too heavily on Underdog to lead me.  He should lead me.  He's my head.  BUT, I must also learn that the Father is my comfort and Underdog is not.  He is the One that walks me through the shadow of the valley of death and Underdog will not.  He is the One that pulls me out of the pit and upholds me with His righteous right hand, not Underdog.

I am camped out in Isaiah right now in my Bible study and this verse is so fitting to the lesson that the Spirit is teaching me right now.
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
                                           (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
The lessons I have been learning over the past several months are simply that I cannot pull myself out of the pit that my sin has led me to.  I need a Savior even now.  I needed Him the moment He first drew me to Him.  And I need Him now.  The gospel didn't end the moment I prayed that prayer.  The gospel just moved to becoming central to my life.  I cannot save myself.  Period.  I sin daily.  I daily need the reminder of the sacrifice He made for me.  It is He who saves me.  And there must be brokenness involved in that realization.  Until we are all broken, we will never know the Truth regardless of how "saved" we are.  God can't work in people who aren't humble before Him.  I don't want to be like that.

My trip to Haiti will be another level of experiencing this grace.  It will be all about Him bringing me out of the pit and into living life FOR HIM.  I am scared to death of going to Haiti by myself.  Even more, my oldest daughter will be going with me if we can raise the funds.  Dad might get to go.  I suspect he's not going to work too hard to get there though.  He knows as well as I do that God is in this plan.  He knows that I have something to learn on this trip.  But the learning starts now.  I can already feel myself looking for excuses not to go.  Like my newest one:  Sunshine apparently has issues with mommy leaving for long periods of time.   The next day after I am gone, she has accidents all day.  The psycho-therapist in me has already boiled it down to the drastic cold turkey weaning I had to do with her when she was 10 mos old.  I guess it's time to stop watching Dr. Phil.

I feel like I have just stepped on to a train. I am headed on a wild adventure.  I don't leave for Haiti for 4 more months.  But it's started.  The wrestling has begun.  I will lose this battle.  I don't mind.  I believe that it's going to grow me closer to my Savior.  But apparently my sinful little heart isn't ready to go without a fight.  Praise God for the grace to cover even that.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Like to Run?

I love running.  Admittedly, though, I haven't run since last October (except maybe a few times with Underdog.)  My asthma started acting up again in August and my running just kind of went down hill from there.  Now that I know the trigger of my asthma I am ready to get back into it.  The weather was also beginning to warm up so I was ready. . .until this week.  Unfortunately, winter seemed to have return this week so I am questioning my sanity.  I HATE running in cold weather.  I would prefer to run on a 100 degree day than to run in 40 degree weather any day.  I don't get a choice now.  I am prepping for a run in April benefiting the Sudan.  We will be racing to raise money for Seed Effect and e3 Sudan.  From the Sudan Foot Race website:
The 2012 Sudan Footrace and walk supports both Seed Effectand e3 Sudan. Seed Effect and e3 Sudan trains, equips, and empowers the Sudanese people to transform their lives, families, and their entire communities. This transformation takes place through education, training, microloans, and the power of Jesus Christ.
Sleep InCan't attend the event but would like to show your support? Sleep in and receive a t-shirt! $30.00 registration
What a great way to spend your charitable giving dollars and your time.  The added bonus. . .fitness!!!!  Join us on April 28 in Dallas, TX.  If you don't like to run, you are welcome to walk the race.  Come as a family.  There are all sorts of ways for all levels of fitness to join in this event.  And if you'd rather sleep in, you can see above, "sleep in and receive a t-shirt!"  You can register for the race, sleep in, and still get a t-shirt.  Great opportunity to be a walking promotion for a great cause.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Do you like to have different ministries to send your money for charitable giving?  Do you like to wear stylish graphic t-shirts?  Do you need a first step in combating consumerism? is the place for you.  Each week, features a new charity for which they are working to raise money and awareness.  When you buy a t-shirt, you are contributing to the chosen ministry.  Plus, by simply wearing the t-shirt, you help bring awareness of this ministry to others who might not otherwise know about it.  Last week, Underdog and I bought a t-shirt benefiting Clothes4Souls that gathers gently worn throw away clothes and helps those who need them.  (And I have another post in the works that will feature this ministry. . .they are doing a lot of great work for those in need right now.)  So check out today and buy a t-shirt.  This week you'll be feeding children in Darfar through Relief International.  Check out the RI website to learn more about it.  Then head on over to and make a difference.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Birthday

Today was my birthday.  I turned 38.  <<sigh>>  I am not even 40 yet but this one seemed to weigh heavy on me.

My family blessed me so much today.  Underdog brought me a Venti Chai Latte and a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks.  (I wonder if he saved the receipt.)  We cleaned house yesterday so there wasn't anything to do around the house.  Here's what I did do:

* Spent a lot time this morning looking into different orphan care ministries that I would like to spotlight in future posts.  Found some great ones.

* Found an app for my phone that will help me train for a 1/2 marathon that I want to run in October.  WooHoo!!!

* Read a little more about barefoot running as I gear up to begin training again.  I am hoping to run my next 5K in April in my 5-finger shoes.  I LOVE my shoes.

* Found some budget planning software for us to use.  Underdog and I are taking the Financial Peace University class with our church right now.  The further we get into it and see the possibilities, the more excited we get.  God is totally in this.  We can see where this is really going to help us increase our giving and possibly even reduce how much we're consuming.  Budgeting has definitely made me sit up and think about were all our excess income in going.  I am hoping when I get my 7 challenge I'll see where even more excess if creeping in (or out in this case) and make further changes.

After I finished with all my internet work, I was finishing my day up with a quick note to friend.  One of my children, who will remain nameless, needed to tell me something.  Since this was the third interruption in two minutes I motioned to the child to wait until I was finished.  Apparently this wasn't what this child wanted.  When I finished the note and called the child back to talk to me they asked in the most snotty of voices, "Well I am not sure I should tell you because, well, how can I be sure you won't motion me away again."

Remember those moments as a child when you sassed your mom and you thought she was going to breath fire.  Now you know what my child saw in me today.  Honestly, this is the first this has ever happened with any of my children.  (I think I know how my mom felt when I was a butthead toward her.  sorry mom!!)
I won't go into much detial, but let's just say that this child will probably never be snotty or sassy with me again.  After breathing fire, giving a fairly significant grounding, and then dad stepping in, I am pretty certain I will never have anything but great respect coming out this child's mouth in the future (yeah, right!)  We had a good talk after everyone had calmed down and I've definitely seen heart change this evening.

Part of the catalyst behind is how this child has been spending time recently.  We have a tremendous opportunity taking place at home right now.  Several of the boys on our block now congregate in our front yard playing basketball.  Many of these boys are from single homes and there are several families living in one home.  There is no dad and so Underdog sees a great opportunity to be involved as mentors to these boys.  Our boys are also making some pretty good friends.  But these friends don't share the love for Jesus that we do.  We hope that someday they will.  That is our prayer.  But until that point, there is a worldly influence on our children that they are not familiar with yet.  So we're seeing the need to be certain we help our children understand that they are to be a light in the dark out there.  Have fun.  Talk smack that doesn't include corruptible talk.  Remind your friends when there is corruptible talk that mom will move the van in to the driveway and end the game.  She end it for a couple of weeks if her five year old comes into the house again speaking corruptible talk.  Be bold enough to stand up when the standards of our house are broken but be gracious.  This takes alot of courage for our kids and time to learn.  This one child was seeing something different from the way our family practices life.  This child is learning the difference between talkin' smack with your friends on the court and talkin' smack at your mom when you're unhappy with a decision she's made.  It will take time and there is great grace to cover those times when they don't.  They are just kids and need much encouragement.  God is at work in their lives to make them who He needs them to be.  This was one of those opportunities for both of us to grow.

When that was all said and done, dad got our burgers on the grill and I took a bath to get ready for church tomorrow.  The burgers were great, as was the conversation we had to go with it.  I love sitting down to dinner with my family.  Once dinner was over we started kitchen clean up and then my in laws called to wish me Happy Birthday!!

My favorite part of the evening was the new tradition we've started for our birthdays.  Each person that is old enough to write in the house must write a special birthday blessing or letter to the birthday person.  I LOVED my letters.  According to these very authoritative letters:

* I am the best mom in the world (sorry all you other moms, I got you beat!!)

* Despite having one child mad at me yesterday, they realized the error of their way and decided that I was necessary for their life.

* I am better than chocolate cake and "I love you forever, I like you for always, As long I'm living my mommy you'll be."  <<sniff, sniff>>

* Again, I am better than chocolate cake and the greatest mom in the world.

I will treasure those letters forever.  They are better than the gifts I did get.  hehe!!  I got a recycled necklace.  It's beautiful!!!  I got a beautiful homemade flower pen that I will be able to use at the speech and debate tournament (I always have my special flower pens with me!!)  In the spirit of Living Little, Giving Big, my family gave me a pair of Tom Shoes.  Buy a pair of shoes, they give one away.  Yay!!!!!!  If consumerism must take place, I'll take it.  And finally, my sweet husband with the stash of cash I apparently didn't know existed, is going to take me to Cirque De Soleil.   He saw this show while he was in Las Vegas on a business retreat with his new company.  He was so fascinated by it that he decided to take me.  We're definitely not in the seats he wanted but I just feel blessed to get to go.

The night is almost over.  The kids are playing the Wii, because there is a birthday in the house.  LOL!!!!  Dad is working on Big Sunday material for tomorrow and I am here blogging.  Once I sign off, we'll pour of glass of my favorite wine (Underdog bought that for me too) and race each other in Mario Cart.

It's been a great day.  There is a restlessness in my spirit BUT I am at peace as I know that the Holy Spirit is working change in my heart.  I have no clue what the next year will look like.  So many changes are coming our way in the coming year.  Exciting but (at times) frightening changes.   Learning to live little and giving in big ways.  God is Sovereign over it all.  He was reigning the day I was born and He will still be reigning as King next year.  I am growing to love my Lord and King in new and exciting ways.  Sure does make getting up in the morning for the start of another a whole lot easier.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What are the Chances?

Yesterday a government census guy showed up on our door and made an appointment to come back tonight for a survey.  Turns out that our address was selected AT RANDOM to participate in a government survey of the rate of inflation.  And when I say AT RANDOM, I mean AT RANDOM.  We are on the only address in the DFW metro area doing this survey.  In two weeks it will be a completely different household.  What are the chances?  This should get interesting as our family will probably skew the results.  We don't shop at grocery stores.  I don't buy your typical cleaning products.  I don't buy baby products.  I don't buy bread and my eggs are fresh from a farm.  Add to that fact that we're on a spending freeze. . .I wonder if Washington DC can here me laughing from here.  Not that I am trying to be rebellious or anything. . .I just don't like to cooperate with much of anything the government would like me to voluntarily participate in.  I do, however, realize that knowing the rate of inflation can be a good thing.  I am just not sure I'll be much help at this point.


This book has stirred something within me.  A sleeping giant, if you will.  "7", written by Jen Hatmaker, is an extremely entertaining look at one women's attempts to combat excess in her life.  Seven areas of excess whittled down to just 7 articles or concepts in each area.

7 foods
7 places to spend money
7 articles of clothing
7 areas to cut waste
7 areas of media overload
7 different possessions given away daily
7 pauses to combat the stresses of everyday life
7 fascinating months of God revealing much greate areas of excess than she ever imaged

I heard Jen speak a little over two weeks ago.  I went to hear her out of pure curiosity.  You see, Jen lived on the same floor in the freshman dorm that I did our freshman year.  I knew her from a distance.  Out of shear curiosity did I go to hear her speak.  What I discovered blew me away. . .there are actually people out there that think the same way I do.  The difference between her and I at this point is most definitely fear.  I am fearful of breaking the status quo.  What will people think of me?  I have no doubt that Jen may have felt the same way as the Spirit stirred change in her heart.  I haven't read her book Interrupted in which she tells the story of the complete change for her family that led to 7.  But these ideas are pretty radical and the idea of vocalizing them causes me great stress.  I attempt to cut excess or often done in the privacy of my own home so no one will know what I really do.  (You should hear the comments I get when it does come out that use cloth diapers.)

So how does this affect me?  When I drove home that night, I asked God for a 7 challenge.  I love challenges like this.  Mostly to prove to myself that I can do it (which is the main reason I ran a 5K in middle of Texas August lat year.)  But I was already seeing the excess in my life and I was growing weary of it.  I also asked God for verses to challenge my life and thinking.  I didn't want to go hear a dynamic speaker and then adopt her ideas.  That never works.  I wanted to have the Spirit move in me in ways He needed to.  To teach me personally.  I took time to fast and pray.  I finished 7 and my motivation grew even stronger.  But I am pretty insistent that I not act simply because I have been impressed with the author and her ideas.  I want to be moved by the Spirit alone.  I believe that the Spirit can use different means of moving me and 7 has been the catalyst and I know now that He has been moving and awakening the sleeping giant within me.

Living little, Giving Big is now our family motto.  It is my dream that we have the ability to live well below our means that we might be able to give in the areas that we are most passionate about.  Helping the poor, the sick, the orphaned, the widow (you know that whole "true religion" thing. ~ James 1:27)  I don't believe we can get there until we truly understand the amount of excess we truly live under.

That is what this blog is about.  My little blog here is going to chronicle our journey. . .and hopefully encourage people along the way.  Over a two week time period I have been given my challenge and He's been teaching me much.

This blog is a reflection of our new course and it's journey.  The purpose is 3 fold:
  1. To simply tell the story of how God is moving in our midst as we cut the excess and find bigger ways to give.  
  2. To gently give challenge to the reader to consider their own excess and it's impact on the world around them.  
  3. To offer direction in combating excess without the overwhelming need to do it all at once.  (This coming from a former perfectionist how usually tries to do it all at one time.) 

Not only has the Spirit been working in my heart, He's been stirring in my husband as well.  And as I have communicated to my family what the Lord has laid on my heart and all that He's teaching me, my oldest daughter is seeing a small glimmer of the road the Lord is laying before her.  Both of them will be joining me as I blog through this journey.  

By the way, God never really did give me a personal 7 challenge different from Jen's.  He's simply told me to do the 7 challenge for myself with a few areas to tweak.  So you will learn a great deal about me (mostly about my sinful, lustful, and addictive heart) as I begin my 7 challenge in the next few weeks.  (My sinful heart was avoiding it all together hoping from something easier.)  I am still in the planning stages.  I also want to meet with a group of ladies whom I am hoping will either join me in this or at the very least be my counsel.

I am not expecting this journey to be easy.  I can already see areas where the Lord is moving in me.  But I am very excited about the direction the Lord is moving my little family.  I hope you will join us in this journey.  Spur us on and we'll do the same.