January 2017 Media Sabbatical

It's been a long time coming, our family's January 2017 Media Sabbatical. I've thought about the numerous benefits from varying levels of such a thing. To be completely honest, the decision to go on a "media sabbatical" was made on New Years Eve when I saw the wording and brief description from a friend doing the same thing. While her desire to do one was a bit different than mine, her wording gave me the confidence to ask my hubs if he's be game.

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In just a couple seconds, he responded with a quick, Sure. I wasn't sure if he understood what I was asking of him and our family so I went into a detailed rant about what I was thinking. He listened and again easily agreed with a chuckle.

A week into our "Sabbatical", several things have come about but to start with I'll give you the brief rant about what our game plan for this lil vacation, reprieve, break, retreat, get-away, rest, escape, time-out, leave.

For my kids it basically meant, they would take a break from anything screen related. No movies, shows, netflix, iPad games. I still allowed facetime with a long-distance friends and audio books via the old smart phone or iPad. We've taken small breaks from these before but this time had been slightly more challenging because they just received new movies for Christmas, we've been working at the valley building a lot, traveling in the car, and just this weekend it snowed. I mean, come On! Snow, while fun to play in for 30 minutes also leads to the ideal snuggle-drink-hot-coco-while-vegging-out time.

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For my hubs and I it means no movies, shows, netflix, smart phone games, or social media. We are still allowed to call or text people and use social media for important work/church things as well as utilize audio books or YouTube to help with projects. I knew this would be a big change for use seeing as how the majority of our frugal pass times include tv shows, phone games, and social media but it's been difficult in different ways than I anticipated. I'm looking forward to this indifference with windows of unfilled time will motivated me to be more productive and inspired when it comes to our 2017 school semester.

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I've experienced lots of exhaustion. LOL In part because we've been accomplishing a lot more without the easy excuse to procrastinate. Boredom has us doing more. I am used to numbing out via social media during nap times and then vegging out with my hubs after the kids bed time with our favorite shows or a redbox movie. Taking the numbing or vegging options away have caused me to have to think all. the. time. My brain can't shut off. In the past I've had "heart issues" that required me to find a way to make myself sit and rest. I didn't used to be good at it and it was hindering my health during the pregnancy with my son. Well, 6 years later, I've learned to "rest" a little too well some days leaving me a few pounds heavier and addicted to increasing my dopamine levels via social media.

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Most of the assets were things I anticipated but I'm still very thankful for. I am able to do a few more interactive things with my children like the science kits they were given for Christmas, talk talk talk with my hubs more, we are all listening and reading more books, I'm relearning my love for writing, and like mentioned before, we are completing even more projects at home and at the valley. With Matt now working a 3rd job, the media sabbatical is helping us budget our time more wisely. I do see benefits of all the things we are vacationing from, I am thankful for this time off to see both the perks and downfalls.

Have you ever considered a Media Sabbatical? What are your thoughts, desires, or fears about it?

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Seasons in Arkansas {and in Life}

The "seasons" in Arkansas are often the center of jokes year around. They are unpredictable. Some years the icy winter may seem to never fade with a spring that may last for 2 hours before the sweltering summer takes over which leads to a whirlwind of sweating and freezing temps that swing back and forth within a matter of days.

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My kids have a hard time understanding these swings in mother natures hormonal outburst after what seems like months of one extreme or the other. Explaining to them that, although yesterday shorts and flip flops were appropriate, today they'll need boots, jackets, and hats will never get easier. As adults here in the Arkansas' climate, we've just learned that it's life and you just have to check your weather app often.

I wish it were as easy for us adults to learn that "seasons" in life are often as unpredictable as Arkansas' weather. Some years the icy loneliness may seem to never fade. Then a fresh breath of friendship lasting for only a couple hours before the sweltering heat of relational hard-work sets in. Yet, sometimes it leading to sweaty or freezing dynamics swinging back and forth.

I never would have pictured myself in the season I'm in now. I'm not sure I would have signed up for all that's going on if I could have seen what lied ahead. That's probably one of the many reasons God doesn't always just tell us; we'd avoid the rough seasons and try to make things happen on our own, unnatural.

This time 5 years ago, I didn't anticipate my week being full of mainly solo parenting 6 kids ranging from 1-8 years old, running to meetings and visitations and appointments for foster friends, running errands and classes and activities with our bios, cleaning and painting a building built by the Church we helped plant, hosting thanksgiving in my own home and trying to figure out how to see family and friends for Christmas while I sit in my guilt about how behind I am on my homeschooling and my hubs runs circles as a bi-vocational pastor and mail carrier, delivering God's word and US mail within a crazy work and family schedule.

Every time I feel like our family has found the comfortable norm of flip flop weather, a foster placement leaves, a new one comes, our building needs our undivided attention, kids have new needs, our house needs maintaining, part time jobs come and go, and my emotional sinuses go haywire trying to keep up with the changing seasons. Sorry, this doesn't seem to have a resolution at this time. No matter how many things I say no to or different things I trim from my t0-do list, I still feel like I'm being swept off my feet by natural disasters.

Anyone else in this ever-changing "season" of life right now? How do you catch your breath? Get prepared for what's coming?

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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.

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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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Resetting Halloween

For years, my husband and I have gone all out for Halloween. We love dress-up and that's the best part of Halloween.

From our first Halloween as newly weds all the way through adding 4 children to the mix, we've done couple, group, or family costumes. Having boundaries help make us more creative. Last year was HUGE. My hubs destroyed our house for months getting ready. He put so much into our family's costumes that we took them to the local Comic-book Convention for a costume contest.

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Although it was fun, it also come with tons of stress and each year, the standard for what we were gonna come up with got bigger and bigger. The bar just kept getting so high, I wasn't sure our sanity or checkbook could keep up. I dreamed of the old days when you made up something for Halloween night with randomness you had in your closet, or kitchen drawers. lol I think every kid should experience that fun.

So moms, if you need to reset the bar for Halloween, I present to you: The Boxtrolls!

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Yep, just
*boxes collected, some from neighbors, the weeks right before Halloween, with the bottoms cut out along with holes for heads and arms.
*We even added a bit of dark foundation to make faces appear dirty
*Messy hair helped us appear troll-like.
*Adding some toilet paper on hands and feet made it kinda look like their wrapped limbs.
My hand was bruised a bit and had a blister from cutting the cardboard with scissors {my box knife wasn't as sharp as the scissors} and the TP quickly came off on our trek around the neighborhood making it look like teen vandals traveled with us but this was by Far the easiest costumes to throw together. We were "double waterslide, typerwriter, moving box, music stand, shoes, eggs, diapers, baby doll, and wipes."

A couple people knew who/what we were, possibly because my kids tried to explain, but for the most part, it was hilarious to see people inspecting our kids and laughing because I'm sure they were thinking, "wow. you're wearing a box as a costume." To that I say, "WINNING!" #resettingthebar

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Adventure Awaits {in a shoebox}

In March of 2013, God launched the valley church here in Vilonia AR. He set us out with a mission to make disciples. We plan live in authentic community, learn biblical teaching, serve here in our area, as well as through go there, where ever that may be across the world to do just that.
Clipping along through the story of the valley and what God's doing, we come to April of 2014 when a crazy tornado swept through our town, destroying many things including the building we were leasing. That allowed us to get creative in how to serve our community during that really hard time. 

I share that all so you'll understand the awesomeness of the upcoming date! 

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Since the conception of the valley, part of our attempt to make disciples across the world was to partner with Samaritan's Purse to pack Operation Christmas Child boxes that serve as an amazing, door-opening, tool to share the gospel with children and their families. In the years we've been portable, we still chose to make it a priority to commit to this campaign. 

We have had to let go of a lot of things because it's just too hard to set up and tear down big stuff for just an hour and 1/2 service once a week. This year, I decided to make a BIG display to show the importance of this campaign to our church even if that means a lot of extra work. As a bonus, I think it's helping put a little cheer in our people's already generous hearts.

This week and last week, we collected TOYS! We collect the 5-7 weeks {depending on the year} in preparation for our Operation Christmas Child 2016 shoebox Packing Party.  This year it will be November 13th. Our goal is 60 boxes but I think we May just surpass that quickly...😳 Eeek!

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::Collection Schedule::
10-2&9: toys
10-16: hygiene items
10-23: school supplies
10-30: accessories & boxes
11-06: catch up, bring anything you missed
11-13: PACKING PARTY!!!

The biggest news!? We are shooting for hosting the packing party In. Our. NEW. Building.

This space to worship in and serve from is just one small way God has continually reminded us that He is not done in this city, through us. He has provided *opportunities to build new relation ships,*unique ways to keep serving, *new families to join in our mission, and *faithful ways for us keep making disciples locally and across the globe.

The adventure awaits! You just have to be willing to take part. God's story is so vast and He invites us into it; isn't that inconceivable?! For many children in poverty-stricken parts of the world, their hope of being apart of God's adventure awaits in a simple [Operation Christmas Child] shoebox gift that might just come from us...or you.

Adventure Awaits! How will you respond?

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