Dying to Self and Serving with Joy

In being a mama, there is a whole lot of dying to self going on. When you sit down to eat your breakfast and instead get called to help someone on the potty. When you want to go for a walk alone, but can’t quite sneak out without someone seeing you. When you want to quietly read your devotions, but instead end up reading the same children’s books over and over again. When you try to write a blog post and get interrupted by cries of “poop!”.

All these little instances teach a mama about little deaths. When we choose to meet the needs of our kids over our needs and wants ,we learn a lot about dying to ourselves. I’m not saying you shouldn’t still take time to yourself. Time to recharge. Time spent alone with God. Time spent caring for yourself so you can mother your little ones better and be a better spouse, friend, and whatever other roles you fill, but being a mom means you often put other’s needs ahead of your own.

In being a mother, or really any role where we have to put other’s needs ahead of our own, we can learn a lot about Jesus. Jesus came to this earth not to focus on himself and work to meet every need and human desire, but rather to fulfill His Father’s purpose for Him. To come to this world as a babe. To grow into a man free of sin, but yet would take the sin of the world and die. Jesus understands dying to oneself better than any of us ever can.

So as we enter into this Christmas season, and soon after a new year, I want to joyfully remember that in a small way I am walking in my Savior’s steps as I serve my family. I don’t want to sigh and grumble and reluctantly die to self, but to gratefully serve them as our Savior has served and continues to serve us through His everlasting love and promise of eternal life with Him. It’s something I can’t do on my own, but with help from our Savior, it can be something I work for.

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Currently // 11/27/15

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Eating / Obviously Thanksgiving food! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, pumpkin pie and even homemade whip cream! There was some good eating in Tororo, Uganda yesterday!

Drinking / Hot chocolate, coffee, tea…taking full advantage of anytime it’s not 80 some degrees!

Practicing / Community. There is such an awesome community of people here in Tororo that we have become friends with, and building community with them has been good. Whether it’s driving to ballet, eating a Thanksgiving meal together, or helping out and bringing each other food during a time of change or sick family members, practicing community with these people is a wonderful thing.

Mastering / I wouldn’t call it mastering, but I did drive all the way to ballet practice this week. Progress!

Playing / Shortly after Dustin’s parents and cousin got in, we were playing Monopoly deal quite a bit!

Finishing / Dustin, his dad, and cousin have been in Zimbabwe on a business related trip for almost a week now. They get back sometime tomorrow!

Reading/ I’m making my way through the book, Anything. It is sooo good! I highly recommend it!

Remembering / In the hustle and bustle of welcoming family members, celebrating Thanksgiving, ballet performances, and getting over colds, my prayer time and devotion time can get pushed aside. Trying to remember to make these things a priority in my day.

Wearing/ The gray shirt, blue jeans combo sounds like it might be boring, but it’s oh so comfy and you can change it up with a scarf or a necklace. I think I may be living in some variation of this combination just about every day!

Cooking / With my mom-in-law here I think I’ve been cooking less! Between her and Jia, they keep us well fed!

Working / I haven’t made it to Smile Africa lately, but we are keeping busy! Gardening, piano lessons, baby showers, Thanksgiving, ballet performances, and other errands and odds and ends have kept this week feeling busy and full!

Traveling / It won’t be long before we are making the trip to travel home to Ohio for almost two months! Time is flying!

Wanting /  It’s crazy and maybe sad how much I’m looking forward to grocery shopping back in Ohio when we are home for Christmas. It’s the little things!

Thanks for stopping by and seeing what we have been up to this last week. What is happening currently in your life!?

Shout Jesus // Mama Shares Monday

It’s a big job, but shouldn’t it be THE job? Currently I’m reading the book, Anything, by Jennie Allen, and it’s pretty convicting…and I’m only 6 chapters in! One analogy that she uses is that it’s like being on a nice cruise ship. Everyone is enjoying themselves and relaxing and then the captain announces over the sound system that the ship is sinking and everyone needs to get to a life boat. You start panicking and running for the life boat, but everyone else seems to not notice and keeps on relaxing and enjoying themselves. So you think, maybe I didn’t hear anything. Maybe the ship isn’t sinking after all. Instead of waving your arms and shouting that the ship is sinking, you go along with everyone else and what seems normal and safe.

And that is just what we do with Jesus. Sometimes we get these glimpses where we get all fired up and start shouting Jesus and trying to get as many people to come to Him as we can, but somewhere along the way we stop and look around. We notice that no one else seems worried. Maybe we can relax and just enjoy ourselves like everyone else. Maybe we really didn’t hear the captain announce that our time on earth is going to end and the only way we are getting to Heaven is through Jesus.

So where do we start, mamas? How can we work at shouting Jesus for all to hear when many days we may be stuck at home in mama uniform yoga pants and babies on our hips? Let me tell you something. Let me tell you something important. Let me tell you something I need to remind myself. You are right where you need to be to shout Jesus in a BIG way. You are going to go though different seasons and some season may involve shouting Jesus outside the home, but this season may be for shouting Jesus more INSIDE your home. Your little ones need you to do this. And this is hard work. And it’s important work. And it’s life changing work.

Wherever you are and whatever season you are in, work to shout Jesus. Don’t just sink into normal cruise ship living while the ship is going down. It’s hard work, but whether inside or outside of the home, it’s important work.

Jesus

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Vanilla + Grey Fall Wardrobe

I’m so excited to have a guest capsule wardrobe post from Celene at Vanilla + Grey! Read on and see how Celene’s Fall wardrobe looks!

It’s the beautiful season of Autumn. I love the vibrant coats the leaves put on as they prepare for their flight off the branches of slumbering trees. The smell of good hot chocolate, warm knits, and cozy fuzzy socks dance around like dreamy visions.

I have spent a great deal of time in transition of placing those summer adventures at rest. Especially when it comes to my wardrobe. I have been replacing my summer capsule wardrobe of light fabrics and airy dresses, for thick knits and warm leggings.

This year I took a good chunk of time to carefully inspect each piece from last season to determine whether it truly would be worn or not. There were quite a few pieces that didn’t make the cut. It was a thorough overhaul, and my wardrobe paired down to a little over twenty five pieces.

Personally, it’s been rewarding. I feel it makes me more creative with my pieces, and keeps me using them rather than storing them away.

This little round up is what I have been using in my fall capsule wardrobe:

celene1I love warm fabrics. I tend to be drawn to neutrals. These pieces are flexible with many of my bottoms. Not pictured is a Chambray top. I was never a fan of Chambray until I tried it. Now I realize why many own one.

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Tunics are my favorite go to. You can dress them up or down depending on what you are feeling. I love the ability of throwing on a pair of structured leggings and a great tunic. Not pictured is a short sleeve tunic.

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I own one skirt in my arsenal of bottoms. Black skinny jeans are lovely. I didn’t invest in any until just recently, and I am thrilled by them. Also the lavender colored cords are soft and durable.

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It has taken me a while to warm up to dresses. However, I love the beauty of Fall/Winter dresses. I find they are great with leggings or tights.

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This season is beautiful to layer up, and I am just smitten.

What are some of the pieces you love in your Autumn Wardrobe?

Celene Olson is author, blogger for Vanilla+Grey, mom of three beautiful kids and married to Darrek. She lives in the Midwest of South Dakota. Loves cappuccinos in a teacup a good devotional and poetic stories.
https://vanillagreyblog.wordpress.com/

Because This World is Not Our Home

This world can be a messed up place. In light of what has recently happened in Paris, this has been on my mind more. But really, there are a lot of bad and not very nice things happening in the world. And how we do we talk to our kids about this? When they see the bad and not very nice things happening, what do we say?

Because of our work with the local orphanage and recently starting to foster a baby whose mother died in childbirth, Gracie has been asking why some kids don’t have a mommy or daddy. It can be hard to explain something like this, because sometimes, I just don’t know. What I do know is that this world is not our home. This world is not perfect, and because of that, bad things happen. And so that’s what I tell her. This is world is not perfect, but heaven is. Someday, because we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, we’ll get to live in this perfect world forever. This world is not our home.

My husband noticed a quote from Mr. Rogers that was circulating after the recent Paris attacks. It sticks out to me because it helps me remember that though this world is not perfect and is not our home, there is still good. God still works and moves among us here on earth. Because this world is not our home, bad things will happen. But God is still good. God still uses His people here on earth to carry out His good works.

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Wear // Capsule Wardrobe {6}

This week I’m sharing the accessories I use in my capsule wardrobe. I’ve not always been one to wear a lot of accessories, but I think I’m going to start focusing a bit more on good solid accessories to go with basic outfits. I’m realizing that an outfit I feel really comfortable in, and I also stylish, is a basic t-shirt and jeans combo with a pop color added with a scarf or a fun necklace. It leaves me feeling put together with minimal effort. Feeling stylish, comfortable, and taking minimal effort is key for this mama!

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The kimono and the rain jacket below aren’t usually counted as accessories and would be considered core pieces in a capsule wardrobe. I don’t wear these items very often, but the kimono adds a fun pop of color and dresses things up if needed,  and the rain jacket is occasionally needed in a down pour! I also realized I have two long sleeves shirts not pictured that I never wear here, but I need to keep for those trips to go home to Ohio!

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Kimono:Kohls//Jacket:Amazon

I definitely have a lot less shoes than I did in the U.S.! They are also all the same brand! I invested in Keens as I know they are going to last and I also like the look of them. They also have good arch support, so as a person that walks with feet slightly rolled in, this is a very good thing! I rarely wear the tennis shoes, but I cycle through the other three and they so far have met all my needs here! They would probably look better if I cleaned them up a bit, but I’m keeping it real for y’all!

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Shoes: Keens

Here is the jist of my true set of accessories. Like I said, I haven’t invested a lot in accessories in the past. While back in the U.S. I do have a big collection of scarves, I only brought along a few. The challenge will be adjusting my capsule wardrobe when we move back to the U.S. someday! But accessories don’t count in the number of core pieces in your wardrobe…so the scarves can all stay, right!? I also plan on adding some necklaces and earrings that the women of Smile Africa Ministries make and sell. You can pick up your own here and have them in time for Christmas! How about you? What do you feel most comfortable in? What kind of accessories do you gravitate towards? I’d love to hear!

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Scarf Black: Kohls//Scarf Blue:FASHIONABLE//Scarf Red:Unknown// Nursing Necklace:Oh Tiny Gifts

Someday // Mama Shares Monday

I had just started to role out the first tortilla to prepare for lunch.

“Mom, Lillie says she pooped in her underwear!”

Because that’s just what you want to hear from your three year old’s mouth. Enter room. See guilty/I’m still pushing face on the one year old and all suspicions are confirmed. Rush to the bathroom and be super thankful that this one was solid. If poop grosses you out, sorry, but if you’re a mom reading this today, chances are poop makes up about 50-99% of your day depending on what stage of child rearing you are in. And while that percentage is in no way researched, as a mom, I’m 100% sure it’s accurate.

We are in full mode potty training here in our household. I’d like to tell you I have it all figured out! I’d like to tell you the top 5 tips to instantly potty train your child and make your life 50-99% better and easier. This is NOT one of those posts.

This is a post to say, this too shall pass. On the days when it seems they will never be out of diapers, this too shall pass. On the days they need you to cut their food before you even get to taste yours, this too shall pass. On the days they need you to fall asleep next to them so they can sleep, this too shall pass.

Some days you crave change. Some days drag on a little too long. Some days just need to be different. And some day it will change.  Some day they won’t be wearing diapers anymore. Some day they won’t need you to cut their food. Some day they won’t need you to fall asleep next to them.

So enjoy them today, because someday comes all too soon.

mama shares monday

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Currently // 11/6/15

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Eating / This week we ate more good ole American comfort food. Meatloaf and potatoes! Hot dogs and deviled eggs! Sometimes we have to improvise a little for certain ingredients, but it was still delicious!

Drinking / Jia makes some great hot cocoa! So we pretend it’s actually cold here and drink it in the evenings!

Practicing / Rest. We have all been a little under the weather with sore throats, and sniffles, and earaches. We’re on the mend, but we have definitely been practicing rest this week! Lots of snuggles, sleep, and staying home!

Mastering / Flexibility? No, just kidding…but I think I’m getting better at it. I like to think I’m flexible, but the flexibility usually come in a time frame where I was already planning on being flexible. But Africa is stretching me and working on my weaknesses.

Playing / I wouldn’t say I’m a huge country fan, but I generally like a lot of country songs by women…sorry guys. I especially like Kacey Musgrave, who Dustin downloaded and I’ve been listening to this week.

Finishing / Our time with Grace helping us in our home and teaching us all sorts of great recipes and cooking tips is sadly coming to an end today. The family she has worked with long term arrives back in Africa soon and she will be moving to Kampala with them.

Reading/ Continuing to read Just Rise Up and now I’ve started The Life -Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’ve heard good things, so we’ll see how it goes!

Remembering / Prayer doesn’t need to sound perfect or have all the right words to be powerful. I’m learning how to pray more for those around me, both at home and publicly. One day the women in the widow’s group totally caught me off guard and wanted me to pray for hurt legs and sore shoulders. It’s not something that I’m use to doing, but it can be good to get drawn out of your comfort zone a little.

Wearing/ Whelp, this week it was a lot of comfy pants and t-shirts suitable for staying home and snuggling!

Cooking / We can now add sour cream to the list of things we have learned how to make, as we aren’t able to buy it here in Tororo. Sour cream twist pastries were made…and devoured already this week!

Working / Continuing to work with the women of Smile Africa Ministries to get the word out about the wonderful products they make. Items are now listed in my Etsy shop and available for purchase! All proceeds go back to the women who make the items and to Smile Africa Ministries to support their programs of empowerment and growth. Go check it out here!

Traveling / Haven’t been traveling much this week, but next weekend we will get to travel to Kampala to pick up Dustin’s parents!

Wanting /  Candy corn! And it will be coming in a week!

Thanks for stopping by and seeing what we have been up to this last week. What is happening currently in your life!?

Train Up a Child // Mama Shares

Let them be little. You’ve heard it before. It’s nothing new. Now more than ever is the time to let them play, to discover, and learn. But in letting them be little, make sure you are letting them grow. We all know that babies just don’t keep. Babies grow faster than we could imagine right before our eyes. In certain still and peaceful moments we want to freeze time. To capture the innocence and naivety of childhood. In certain not so still and not so peaceful moments we wonder when they will finally be old enough to outgrow this. To move past this stage of tantrums, potty training, and spitting their half chewed food out. But we have to let them be little, mamas. And we have to let them grow. Sometimes it’s hard finding that balance, right? To maintain the wonder of childhood, yet help them grow holistically as they learn. So here’s what the Bible says.

 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

That’s our job, mamas! To train them up! Train them up in God’s goodness and love. I think one of the best ways we can train them up is to encourage them to be kids! We don’t have to shelter them from the world, but let’s give them the tools to make good choices. To make the choices that draw them closer to Jesus and being a child of God. Keep at it mamas! Training them up in His Word is the best place to start! A place that encourages them to be children and maintain childlike faith, yet helps them grow spiritually mature.

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

It’s important work and it’s hard work. So it’ s good thing that God has given us a guide book! Dig into His word, mamas! Keep searching and growing spiritually so you can train up your little arrows. Read them the Bible. Talk about Bible stories. Make God and His Word a normal part of your day! Hide His Words in your heart and encourage them to do the same.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Psalm 127:4

We can’t keep them little forever, but we can train them up to be children of God.

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