Monday, October 9, 2017

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Good 'ol Teddy Roosevelt, dropping some wisdom in that quote in the title.

The world seems heavy these days, right?  Shootings.  Political uproar.  Division in communities.  Extreme weather catastrophes. Hate. It's easy to feel hopeless, sad and unequipped.  However, I'd also say it could be easy to feel a fiery passion ready to take on the world in advocating for justice and life in general.  And perhaps, more frequently, it's particularly easy to ebb and flow between the two.  A passion that lights and ignites desire to take action and unite, yet a hopelessness and sadness in not knowing where to start or how to make waves in such a lost and broken word.  It all seems too much.

They say, "Pray for ______"  when tragedy strikes.  Pray for Paris.  Pray for Las Vegas. Pray for Puerto Rico.  Just pray.  Prayer really works friends. I know this and I believe this from the depths of my soul.  But, I also feel a big nudge when praying that God wants some action from me.  Simply praying is not always enough--God equips all of us with abilities and gifts to help in these situations in some way---not just to sit idle and pray  (though this is a great place to start!).  Maybe it's pray and donate money. Or time. Or blood. Or a listening ear.  A helpful hand.  A phone call to congress.  A march in the streets.  A meal to a family in need.  A courageous conversation.  I feel that my God in all of His wisdom LOVES when we pray to Him and communicate our needs and praises and cries of dismay, but I also believe He LOVES when we use our God given abilities and resources to step up.  Really, doing what we can, with what we have, where we are at.  In all of its goodness, prayer is not always enough.  I cannot pray for money and expect it to rain from the heavens, I need to pray for opportunities for God to give me so I may work in action towards gaining more financially.  I cannot just pray for a healthy body, I need to put forth the steps and work to gain this through eating well, exercising, vitamins, mindfulness and generally just being safe and taking care of myself.  The same goes for times of hurting, brokenness and a divided world.  The key for praying, is not only praying for change, but to pray for opportunities along your path that help you to contribute to that change.

Friend, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the "if only's".  If only I had _____ I could do more.  I've caught myself filling in the blank with money. Time. Knowledge. Confidence. After the bombardment of negative news and feelings of hopelessness, I've decided to trade in my fill in the blanks with baby steps.  Really, just steps of action that don't make big waves, but provide small, baby ripples in the pools of hurt.  Doing what I can, with what I have, where I'm at.  I'm not rich, I don't have loads of extra time, I'm not super smart, nor am I very confident.  BUT, I do have some money, and some time, some smarts and some confidence.  In using these God given gifts, I can still create action, change, progress and momentum towards a better world.

I feel one of my greatest avenues of doing this is my job.   My job, can at times, feel hopeless and exhausting--much like the world we live in.  Yet, it can also feel full to the brim of promise, hope and joy---because kids are truly amazing and resilient.  I make a choice each day to go into my building praying for God to use me and give me opportunities to act in a way that might make and create positive change.  This is not as hard as I tend to make it.  It's a smile in the hallway--I'm always perplexed when I'm not offered a smile in exchange when passing someone.  It's actually scientifically proven that smiling at someone increases their positivity and our mirror neurons pick up on it. It's forgiveness.  Many of the kids I work with are not always afforded full forgiveness after they have harmed their community.  When I offer unyielding and grace filled forgiveness, I can create change in that little being.  It's putting my money where my mouth is.  I'm rich in comparison to much of the world, yes, but we also have times where we scrape by holding our breath until the next payday.  Yet, I still always feel I can never turn down the opportunity to donate a few bucks here or there or use our money in ways that can help a student have a meal for the night, gas in their car or heat in their home.  It's listening.  Whether to my students, colleagues or parents, it's amazing what kind of magic happens when people feel heard and validated.  It's loving.  Hugs go a long way with kids--I used to be afraid to hug kids or let them hug me (what might people think--gasp!), but hugging and physical affection is an innate human need.  To give a child a hug, squeeze, high five, fist bump or secret handshake, I can be filling a need they have to carry them a little further in their day.  I will never turn down a hug from a student.  It's these little things that can add up because these little people are going to grow up into big people and using my power of influence in these developmental years, I better believe my presence in their lives is important to the future of our citizens.  Pair those little actions up with things that may take a little more money, time, knowledge and confidence, I can actually create change--not needing to measure the change by how large and grandiose my actions are, but by the seeds I plant and abilities I utilize throughout my day.

It's amazing what positive change can come out of doing what you can, with what you have, where you are.

I have a friend.  A generous, loving and talented friend that chose to share an idea with our staff to provide comfort and joy for a grieving community by bringing them some treats to uplift their spirits.  So simple.  This friend used her God given ability of baking and serving others in kindness to unite a group of people that are overcome with emotion from a recent horrific situation.  She did what she's really awesome at with what she had, and where she is at and it created a huge ripple of positive change, not only in the recovering community, but our own school community as well.

Praying is great.  I love it.  Its effective, powerful and Holy.  But it's not always enough.  I think this is where God wants us to start, but not where he wants us to end.

What abilities and gifts are you equipped with?

Do what you can.  Not, do it all.  Not, do everything.  Not, do more than everyone else.  Not, do what she/ he is doing.  Nope, do what you can.

With what you have.  Not, driving yourself broke.  Not, being ashamed of what you don't have.  Not, striving to have more.  Simply, use what you've got.

Where you are. Not where you think you should be.  Not where you wish to be.  Not even where you once were. No, where you are.

It's ok to not have all the answers.  It's also ok to act and just do something in the midst of being not sure of what to do.  We need to use our abilities to DO more than just pray.  They all work for the power of good and they are ALL necessary and important to create change in our communities.  As the old proverb states, "When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion"

So tomorrow, when you wake up and are overcome by the depth of our world's' brokenness and need for peace.  Don't feel hopeless, overwhelmed and unsure of what to do.  Pray for God to give you opportunities to use your gifts and just start to use them.  Don't worry about how big or small your actions are, but about how you are using what you have and what that looks like for you.  Really begin to realize that you were born to use these abilities you have---you were BORN for this, friend! No pressure, right?  At times, it may require some stepping out of your comfort zone, but what at times may feel uncomfortable for you, may in fact be one of the things that bring healing comfort to those around you.

Don't lose faith friends, the world's healing and peace lies in each one of us--ready to be ignited by God, not just from our prayers, but our actions as well.

Do what you can.  With what you have.  Where you are.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Greyleigh's 4th birthday: a royal gathering of princesses

This is about what Greyleigh looked like last week on her birthday and supposed birthday party. :(




We rescheduled her party for today and let her rest, but it was sure hard to see our little firecracker so sick and lethargic on her special day---for the second year in a row!

Needless to say, we were beyond happy to celebrate her today with her favorite little friends!  What a great little group of girls she is beginning to surround herself with--and their mom's are pretty great too :)

We went full on princesses this year as she is still heavily gulping the princess Koolaid.  It's not my favorite flavor, but we do what we can for those we love, right?  Let's just say, I won't be devastated when the princess phase is laid to rest.  Although, seeing her all decked out in her princess attire is pretty adorable.  Good think we'll be meeting all of the princesses at Christmas!

Everett even got on board serving as the royal tea waiter.  He was pretty stoked to get all dressed up and serve the ladies their tea--he took it very seriously.  Umm, and the best big brother award goes to...

A good whack of a pinata, some make and take jewels, some cake and presents and now we are done with birthday parties for a year! Phew!

Here's some highlights from Greyleigh's special day.
















Friday, September 1, 2017

Everett's 7th Birthday Party-Football Combine Style

So I wonder who thought it was a great idea to plan a wild boy's birthday party after a long week of daddy being out of town and mama at workshop week.  Was that us?  Perhaps, we planned it during THE craziest week ever, but crazy or not, this boy and his tribe know how to have fun.  Curtis planned a Football Combine themed party for Everett.  Does anyone even know what that is? I definitely didn't, but essentially I think it's a round of drills to weed out players suitable for drafting.  We had each friend come in their favorite sports Jersey and fashioned them in some eye black.  Oh yeah, and Curt and I made sure to take the part seriously by dressing as referee's---since Curt has about 50 uniforms.  We took their full stats: Name, age, weight and height before we executed the drills which were both humorous and adorable.   Little kids doing push up contests--hilarity. I love how some kids are super intense and others could care less about how they do.  It was a pretty great mix.  We ended the challenge with possibly the most crucial drill of all-- the touch down dance. I think after seeing their moves I have a few new ones I could pull out at any given time.  I'm not sure that I've ever been so tired after a birthday party, but my heart is full.

I have a SEVEN year old!  Who is in charge of letting this happen?  I need to talk to their manager and request less fleeting childhoods.

Now to clean up....I think I have an arsenal of cheese balls and nerf gun bullets around the house waiting to be scooped up.

Little boys are the best.





















Sunday, July 9, 2017

Camping Adventure #3 (2017): Bent Trout Lake


This trip was extra special as it was a mom and dad ONLY camping trip (plus Axle)!  Don't get me wrong, camping with the kiddos is always fun and creates so many great memories, but we needed some memories of our own this time!  It was actually our first time camping in the camper just the two of us.  Easier, cleaner, quieter and more relaxed (more sleep!), but it was hard not to miss the kids since we could picture them joining in and playing with all the kids around on scooters, bikes and swimming.  This was our second time at BTL campground.  The first time was last year and we only stayed there for a night since it was not our end destination.  We stayed 3 nights this time and were reminded of why we marked in our travel journal that we wanted to go back.  It's a medium sized campground with around 100 sites. Some nicely tucked away, others right on the lake and some set up in a neighborhood fashion.  Lots of kids and buzz going on from the seasonal folk--but nothing too wild.  Very family friendly!

Thursday night we enjoyed dinner just the two of us---literally---the only two in there, at Elmwood Inn, in Cloquet.  Friday, we ventured to Duluth for some fun and landed at a Cantina restaurant (delicious!) for dinner and the brewery for a flight---er, two flights--of their local beer.  After we got back to the site, we walked around the whole campground and picked out our favorite sites and ooohed and ahhhed at some of the campers.  Saturday we took the half hour drive South to Banning State Park.  A first for both of us.  We thoroughly enjoyed the park and what the trails had to offer on our 4 mile hike.  We will definitely go back for a visit! After our hike and lunch on the trail, we drove through Moose Lake.  Very cute little town.  We visited their trading post/gift shop where I got some vintage records (hello Elvis, Dolly and John Denver) and fun little things for the kids and we also stopped to have a beverage at the local brewery---can't leave a town without visiting their breweries!  After we got back to the camper, we rented out a paddle boat and spent an hour going around the lake.  After tiring our legs out, we relaxed for a couple hours and Curt cooked some locally prepared burgers over the fire.  We felt like we needed one more adventure "out on the town", so we headed out and landed at the Elmwood Inn again.  This time, the place was packed, so we expected a lively place.  Our assumptions were true--however, the liveliness was in the form of a school reunion.  Specifically the Cloquet graduating class of '87.  We were tempted to grab some of their nametags and play along while people complimented how young and awesome we look for our age ("Hi there, I'm Samantha Litchfield, you can call me Sam.  You don't remember me? Oh, well I transferred to Cloquet my junior year and then dropped out to pursue my dreams of being a taxidermist.....") , but we decided to just stick with our front row seats and appetizers and people watch the night away.  It was amazing.  After enjoying guessing who the popular kids were and who might've been voted most likely to own a mini-mart, we drove back to the Nomad to call it a night.  Sunday came with one last morning of sleeping in and just like that were were packed up and on the road!

We had a wonderful weekend that I am so thankful for as it renewed our energy, produced lots of laughs and memories and gifted us some time to dream together and talk about future aspirations and hopes for our family.  We are also very thankful for loving grandparents to our kiddos---this trip was made possible by them!

We highly recommend Bent Trout Lake and are even considering making it a seasonal home for the 'ol Nomad! If we do, we'll be sure to save a spot for you :)






DULUTH






BENT TROUT LAKE CAMPGROUND








BANNING STATE PARK












THE ONLY WAY TO EAT A MALLOW


Oh, and we got some Tattoos.  :)

Finally starting my sleeve.






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