Seriving in Your Community {WITH Littles}

YOU can serve in your community WITH your littles. They're not keeping you from serving and their not just in tow while you do so.

In some countries, having children is seen as "tying your feet". To be honest, I've felt that way on and off again. Structuring my day around their needs and the routines that help my children thrive occasionally feels like tying my own feet. I know God is at work in so much going on around me and I'd love to be apart of it, all of it. I feel like I'm missing out on blessing when I see God asking us to get to work where He's already working and I can't. I've even felt jealous of others and the serves they're able to do as a single or as a mom of older kids or even a mom of fewer kids. But here's the thing:

God HAS and is continuing to bless me right where I am.

In the this current season. With aaaaall these tiny humans I'm allowed to claim, even for a short time. God has blessed me with a husband after God's own heart. God has blessed me with home after home to raise my family and welcome others into. God has blessed me by abundantly meeting my needs. God has blessed me with friend upon friend, even if some are for a short season and others from a distance. Focusing on my blessings and learning to say no to good things in order to be apart of the Best things has taught me--> I can and Should be serving right where I am, with those placed in my life, when I see the opportunity, because God is bigger than self-pity, routine's, and excuses. I've also learned some practical ways to serve with my children and I'd love to share them with you to help untie your feet.

10 Practical Ways to Serve in Your Community with Your Children

  1. Invite neighborhood children over to play consistently 
    I've totally laid younger children down for a nap while my older children and the neighbor friends played. My children are also getting to participate service to our King through hospitality.
  2. Host a block party in your neighborhood
    I've also put a child down for the night while carrying a baby monitor into my front yard to mingle for the rest of the block party. Depending on your neighborhood, over a holiday weekend, consistently on a specific weekend, or celebrate something fun one time a year might work for you.
  3. Serve within your local Church
    Most churches work hard to put on service events during a time that is family friendly. I've also learned that messing up my kids routine momentarily is well worth the rewards of living and serving in genuine community.
  4. Make and deliver seasonal gifts to neighbor friends, delivery people, grocery store employees, civil servants
    Letting kids come up with fun gifts and who they're give them to helps them be more aware of each person they naturally come in contact with on a daily basis and just how easy being missional in our living can be.
  5. Donate food, clothes, and toys to a local drop off center
    Having children help in decluttering, purging, whatever you want to call it can help them make it natural in their own lives. Being grateful for and generous with our belongings is good stewardship.
  6. Host homeschool meet-ups, field trips, or parties
    When we moved to this town we were told there were lots of other homeschoolers but we've had a hard time finding them. I guess they're all in their homes. lol SO, we created our own coop and simply started advertising it on Facebook. We meet up once a month for a simple party, field trip, or class of some kind.
  7. Go to a rehab or retirement center and sing or dance, then stick around to chat with residence
    The dance class my girls are in actually planned this and take the opportunity to have a mid-year presentation for the grandma's and grandpa's at the local rehabilitation center.
  8. Create and host original events in your city park [or other neutral space in your community] 
    Our community is large in residence but small in things for those residents to do so we've had to get creative from Movie Night in the park to Water Day that included a giant slip-n-slide and huge water gun fight.
  9. Clean up trash on the side of the [back, low-traffic] roads
    This was actually an idea my kids' had while driving down the road after a storm so we grabbed random plastic bags out of the car and hopped to it.
  10. Participate in and serve at as many community events as possible
    This takes most of the prep work out of serving. Stay involved in community and or school events. Find places they need volunteer or just participants and have fun being a part.

Those are just 10 of the simple ways we've found that are fun to serve as a family in our community. Living Missionally [or being intentional to spread the love of Jesus as You are going] is simple but not always easy, if you don't know where to start.

PLEASE, by all means, share what you've learned works!

 

 

 

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eShakti Dress Review

eShakti has a wide variety of customizible fashion.

Most, if not all {I didn't click into EVERY item they offer} comes with options to change parts of the style from neckline, sleeve type, and length- HELLO Modest ladies! You can even input all your measurements to get the perfect fit.

So when I was offered to review an item in exchange for an honest review, I couldn't turn it down. Not only for my closet, but for YOU. We HAD to know if this was a For Real thing!

After scouring the options I was given, I ask for my hubs help in narrowing down my favs. Here's what he picked:

I hope he remembered I wasn't oober classy when he saw this... Even when I try, I'm just super silly.

I chose a high neckline; I typically wear tshirts because it's difficult for me to find shirts that I'm comfortable in due to coverage. I went with the sleeveless option so I could wear it year-round but they are a bit big. I'm not used to thinking through the length of dresses on myself because I don't really like how dresses fit my "square" body type so I went with right above the knee...maybe I'll look taller. LOL I even got to add POCKETS! Who doesn't want pockets on everything!?

After putting in my order, it took a bit to get the dress in the mail but it was totally worth the wait for a customized item. The packaging was great and the fit was just as ordered. The material is high quality.

Things I've learned over the different seasons of wearing this dress since April:

  1. I don't know what I look good in; I usually just buy what's on sale, so it was hard to choose the right option(s). While the high neck is nice, it's almost too tight. I'm also not a pro at measuring myself so I think I may have erred a little too small across the bust/back.
  2. I think I should have forced myself to choose rather than letting my hubs, I might have ended up with one I loved more. While I like the denim, jeans go with everything right?! I feel like this dress gives off a baby doll vibe.
  3. The flare effect makes me feel like I'm wearing a maternity dress but works well to hide my "leftovers" and still looks fun by itself or with a cardigan, jacket, or scarf. Dressing it up or down is very easy.
  4. This dress is very versatile. Winter: tights, jacket, scarf, and tall boots, Spring: hat and rain boots, Summer: plain with flip flops or tennis shoes, and Fall: cardigan, knit leggings, and ankle boots.

overalll, I was pleased with my customized dress dress. I would totally recommend this s site to  a friend, especially those who have a hard time finding clothing to fit their uniquely created body type.

It is a bit pricey for my cheap self but it doesn't be seem overpriced compared to most clothing stores.

I also think this could be a fun option for things like bridesmaid dresses. Coordinating but customized, giving each friend a chance to look and feel awesome. Plus, you could choose something that they could wear again we the event.

eShakti also just emailed me to share that you can mix and match FABRICS now! Like the lrint but  the style? Like the make but not so much the type of fabric. More customization options- winning!

What would you choose if given permission to customize!? CAN you think of other benefits?

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How to Organize An Operation Christmas Child Packing Party

This is the fifth year we’ve hosted an Operation Christmas Child Packing Party at The Valley church so we’ve learned a few things each year. I've also done some research via Pinterest and Facebook OCC groups to try to improve our parties each year. From the first year of packing with my kids in my living room to becoming more and more organized, we have grown our passion for this ministry.

I would love to share with you some of thing logistics we've learned.

Collection

We choose to only “officially” collect items the month [5 weeks] before our packing party. Some like to collect all year-long and we are looking into creating a housing space at our building for this but we have several other out reaches we focus on throughout the year.

The week before collection starts, we announce what Operation Christmas Child is, what we will be collecting each week, and when our packing party will be held. We do four main focuses: Hygiene, School Supplies, Accessories, and Toys. The fifth week is a catch-all and that evening is our party.

We also have an OCC info table set up that hopefully answers any questions someone might have as well as provides resources to help get people excited. Of Course, people can bring any items during these weeks, we just try to help narrow the focus. Next to this table we have a collection space designated- the past two years it has been this big blue shipping trunk. Each week we empty it, sorting items into bens.

On the last Sunday of collection, we take inventory and try to spot areas we might be short, comparatively and announce those needs via social media so people can bring them on our catch-all week/Sunday morning of the party.

 

Prep

Several of us {sometimes me and my children} go through all the bins and take everything we can, out of it’s packaging. If we need to, we open packs of crayons, markers, and colored pencils and divide them up into bags. This not only helps items go further but it also makes sure crayons aren’t melting onto other items in the boxes.

While doing this, we sort even further into gender and age groupings [2-4, 5-9, 10-14] if possible. Bagging things ahead of time helps your party flow better and sets you up for quality assurance.

We have always gone with an assembly line format- folding tables in a long line, filled with sorted items. This year, we added very visible signage using small orange cones wrapped in green garland with wording printed on cardstock and taped to paint stir sticks sticking out of them. These were placed at the beginning of each category to help make sure those packing packed items from each section.

I spoke with several others to make sure I was thinking through everything and we decided on a flow and through items we would need to help that layout work.

Layout

We chose to set up in our main room so we thought through making the experience flow in a giant circle. We had stations that everyone worked through to make sure we covered everything.

FOOD

You can’t have a party without food, right!? We set up a small pot-luck along one wall with eating tables right next to them. This is a separate space from packing, even if in the same room, because we don’t want to send crumbs with our boxes of awesomeness.

PHOTO BOOTH

We LOVE sending pictures with our boxes so we hired a friend to run a photo booth for us. This is at the beginning of the layout because we ask that everyone take a picture Before they start packing to give the printers time to print them while they load items.

PACKING

Our long line of tables full of goodies was broken into the same categories as the collections weeks but with a couple added sections with the essentials at the start: boxes, labels [tape and markers for selection and attaching], hygiene, school supplies, accessories, WOW items, and filler toys.

NOTE/PRAYER

We set up separate tables on the opposite wall from the food full of writing utensils, specialized postcards, blank printed info pages, blank Christmas cards, and stickers.

DROP OFF

We designated the wall near these tables for drop-off and had signs hung to help sort boxes by age and gender so we could see which needed more as we went.

Start again

PARTY

FOOD

You can’t have a party without food, right!? We set up a small pot-luck along one wall with eating tables right next to them. We had a group from our local drop-off location come to share with us about the process after we pack boxes. Everyone finished up eating while they shared.

PHOTO BOOTH

We LOVE sending pictures with our boxes so we hired a friend to run a photo booth for us. This is at the beginning of the layout because we ask that everyone take a picture Before they start packing to give the printers time to print them while they load items.

PACKING

Our long line of tables full of goodies was broken into the same categories as the collections weeks but with a couple added sections with the essentials at the start: boxes, labels [tape and markers for selection and attaching], hygiene, school supplies, accessories, WOW items, and filler toys.

NOTE/PRAYER

We set up separate tables on the opposite wall from the food full of writing utensils, specialized postcards, blank printed info pages, blank Christmas cards, and stickers.

Follow Up

We have invited any family that would like to join us, to deliver the boxes to our local drop off location and we've also complete 2 different tracking labels so we can learn where our boxes went, pray for them. Most boxes have addresses in them in hopes of building relationships with ministries dispensing and or individuals receiving boxes.

I hope this was helpful. I'd love to hear about your passion of OCC, how you pack, and maybe even how you follow-up to enjoy this passion all year-long.

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Plarn Balls {for Operation Christmas Child Boxes}

For years, I've loved the Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child Box ministry! We've packed boxes with our small children as a family and now pack dozens of boxes with our church family as part of our way of spreading the gospel across the world.

My mother in law recently let me in on a little project she's been working on for our boxes- Plarn Balls! "Plarn" is short for "plastic yarn". Plarn is made by cutting plastic grocery bags into strips, which are then strung together into a single long strand, like yarn. She used to make water proof mats with a group of ladies as a ministry to the homeless. Since that time, she has discovered endless uses for this recycled material. You can use plarn to crochet sturdy, reusable tote baggs, purses, pool/beach bags, doormats, and more.

Today I want to share her awesome idea, how to make plarn, as well as the pattern for the plarn balls that will fit perfect into OCC boxes!

How to make plarn

  • Lay bag flat and fold it in half lengthwise.
  • fold bag in half again.
  • cut folded bag into loops, discarding handles and bottom.
  • Knot lops together to form a single strand.
  • Roll the strand into a ball and crochet or knit as you would with yard.

Plarn Ball Pattern

Abbreviationss
  • st/sts- stich/stiches
  • sc- single crochet
  • sc 2 tog- single crochet 2 together

Round 1: Make a foundation row with 6 st using the magic ring method. Optional, but highly recommended, place a st marker at the beginning of the round, moving it to the first stitch of each new round as you go.

Round 2: 2 sc in each st around (12sts)

Round 3: 2 sc in next st, sc in next st around (18sts)

Round 4: 2 sc in next st, in next 2 sts around (24sts)

Round 5: 2 sc in next st, in next 2 sts around (30sts)

Round 6-10: sc around (30sts)

Round 11: sc 2 tog, sc in next 3 sts around (24sts)

Start filling iwth plastic straps or plastic bags.

Round 12: sc 2 tog, sc in next 2 sts around (18sts)

Round 13: sc 2 tog, sc in next st around (12sts)

Round 14: sc 2 tog, until the opening end is closed enough to tie off.

Weave in the ends hiding inside the ball.

Cut plarn 1" wide when marking plarn.

[note: I no NOTHING about crocheting so I won't be able to answer an questions in that regard- so so sorry! I just copied this pattern exactly as my MIL wrote it having not idea what any of it meant. Also, remember food items are prohibited so no filling the balls with beans...I don't know who would have had that bright idea :/ lol] 

I'm so excited that more and more people are falling in love with this simple but life-changing ministry!!! Click learn more about Operation Christmas Child!

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The Mercy House Global Market {GRAND OPENING!}

Several years ago, I started following a blog known by the name, We Are THAT Family. I fell in love with the humble, realist, passionate writer who mentored me via the internet in matters of the heart, marriage, and parenting.

I am excited to say I got to meet her at a bloggers conference a few years ago. She was everything I expected: humble, meek, and oozing Jesus. I got to creep along the sidelines and watch as God took her "YES" and transformed it into what only he could. This past weekend, I got to roadtrip with 3 other friends from Arkansas to Texas to see that God-sized dream expanding once again.

mercy-house-global-market-served-coffee-with-a-cause

Mercy House Global Market is an extension of the work that has been happening for a few years now. Without giving a complete history lesson, we'll just jump to where it is currently: a fair trade market place with products created by hand from multiple countries where different groups are all fighting for to restore dignity for working women.

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I was honored to meet these ladies in person and be there to celebrate with them at the Grand Opening!

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Can't make it to Magnolia, TX to shop in person, don't fret. You can shop for most of the items HERE or sign up for a monthly club HERE!
I can personally recommend the earring of the month club to start you out 😉

find classier, high quality pics here

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