Better to give…

Guess what I have been doing on my “summer break” …cleaning and organizing. I actually am not complaining; I love doing it. Matt thinks I am weird because I like watching that show “hoarders”. Over the years I have learned that most people fall into certain categories of why they keep things. Some are collectors they like to save memory items; they like to buy matching items that carry a theme. Some people keep things they think they will use in the future and they are so frugal that they will figure out a use for that pipe cleaner and empty jar of peanut butter. Then there are the people who don’t even know they keep things, they are so disorganized they don’t even realize they still have that shirt from 10 years ago that didn’t fit or look good then, but for some reason they kept hold of it.

I ended the school year cleaning up and storing items for next year (along the way found some things that did not need to sit in the closet all summer long). I then got to sort lots and lots of donated items for our football program (thanks to Puma) J. I then went on to our home and moved my art supplies from the guest house that didn’t end up being my sanctuary that I thought it would originally serve as. I went through the kid’s memory boxes and purged quite a few very random items. Then I spend a day and a morning cleaning out a storage container at the Gayaza office that I have sorted on more than one occasion. I have more faith this time it will stay a bit more functioning fingers crossed.

I have grown more sensitive to why people like free stuff or want to hold on to things. When we started fostering the boys they came with some of the strangest things and we would get people who would give us things to use for the boys and we also went to the markets and got items. It was so hard for them to let go of old items, items that would not fit, had holes, were made for the body type of a female and someone way shorter than them. I would try to convince them to give it to a younger brother or donate it to the kids in Gayaza and after some time of trust they were able to let some things go. I find here in Uganda with the people that I work with or serve alongside like to find a good deal. I can appreciate that, but I think that for so long they have struggled with obtaining “stuff” it is hard for them to let it go. They would rather keep it for a “rainy day” so to speak than to find someone else who needs it or even (gasp) throw it away.

I reflect on the verse Matthew 6: 19-21 19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I just want to give people some way of remembering to trust God and not rely on the stuff that ultimately won’t protect them or provide fulfillment. It is easier to give up things when you feel that you have plenty some might say. But I have experienced loss in a variety of ways from selling everything to come to Uganda, getting robbed of lots of stuff and what I learned from it all is that God always provides. There will always be stuff some stuff is nicer than others, but it is still stuff that you will not need when you leave this Earth. I never want to be a person that has stuff lying around not being used just because I fear losing it or needing it someday. I choose to let other people benefit from it and hopefully they too will end up giving something they don’t need any more to someone who needs it more than them.


Settling In

As some of you know we have been waiting “un-patiently” for our shipment of three pallets that we sent in May to Uganda. Well after much stress and craziness the shipment is finally here. I will spare you the details of the entire crazy process. So since Monday we have been sorting and settling in. Today it hit me the most that wow we are in our new home. It’s crazy how “your” stuff can make a house a home. I love it, pictures on the walls, books on shelves, even the toys for our kids that have already been strung out all over the house. It is also a bit scary, we have been here in Uganda for only 4.5 months, but it does seem a lot longer. It brings a feeling of home away from home, but it also makes me miss home a bit.

It is definitely a weird feeling.

Now that the house is feeling more like home the next task is to re-organize the ministry center/office. I bought stickers and colored them and will be using them to organize the books. Our kids have a tough time with putting things back how they found them as well as picking books at their reading level. The idea is to color code the books so they can put them back on the matching colored shelf, as well as follow the color codes to pick books at their level. It is wishful thinking I am sure, but my organizational and a little bit OCD self loves the idea. The other big task is to go through the shoes for football (soccer). Again, I am going to organize them by size and then they are getting numbers put on them to keep them organized. I also might have the kiddos that regularly “earn” boots to borrow have specific shoes that they wear. It may help with keeping them from getting ruined, another ambitious thought but one that we will test out.

Jacob has been settling in to a great routine of school. He is definitely growing leaps and bounds socially. Some great things that we are working on is sharing, accepting not being chosen, and following all directions. He is making friends and even has his first birthday party this Saturday. He earned his first merit the other day and he was so proud! He is praying at dinner every night, and is really thoughtful about what he is praying for, not the typical thank you for the food, amen. If he can’t think of anything toward the end of the prayer he will simply say, “Thanks for everything else.” So funny! He is often making us laugh and is still our little firecracker.

Parker is also adapting to spending a day with our neighbors and friends who have a 3 year old who she loves playing with. Innocently she refers to Emily (their mother) as her “new” mom. So funny, because we always just refer to Emily as Seth and Simon’s mom so she thinks that must just be her name. The past few days she has been fighting a fever and sore throat so keep her in your prayers that it will clear up once and for all as it keeps coming and going.

We said farewell to our “Muzungu” friends today as they head back home to Kentucky, they will be missed. We are thankful for our neighbors and new friends for the blessing they have been, the friends to our kids, and the sense of family that they bring to our lives. We are truly blessed and feel the love as we have gotten some lovely care packages from family, and enjoy skyping weekly. God is good and we are still settling in but we know that this is where we are meant to be at this time and for this season in our lives. God is always blessing us and keeping us motivated to continue to make His name known in this world.


The Garage Sale Effect

So we survived the garage sale and overall it was a success. Let me warn you my observations may describe you, but please don’t take offense, they are just general observations 😉

So if you have never had a garage sale then this post will not make sense to you, but if you have I hope you enjoy. If you are a garage sale goer, again I may be describing you, so don’t take it personally :). So basically you decide one day, I have way to much stuff and the weather is starting to change to the ideal garage sale weather. So you purge all the stuff (I say stuff to not glorify junk or to put down the things that are good that you might be selling). Then you go through the tedious process of marking or grouping your items by putting a sticker price on them. This process to me was humbling in the sense that wow my stuff is not worth that much to others as much as it is to me, no wonder we hold on to items. It’s the mentality that we can’t possibly part with something if someone else won’t also see its value. So we mark items generally too high or too low all to have people (complete strangers) say your prices are too high. Even if the price is amazing they will still try and make a deal that makes them feel that the “stuff” they want to purchase is really worth it even if they then never use it. Then after an entire weekend of sitting around, and moving items in and out each night you are left with the “stuff” that was not sold, the rejects. So then you are faced with the decision to keep it and use it, keep it and store it until you decide you have too much “stuff” again, or you give your local Goodwill a donation to pass along to many of the same people who were just at your garage sale.

Now for the parallel…

Life can be like a garage sale, think about it. We go through life putting things in our life that clutter it both physically and spiritually. We spend our time trying to clean up our lives and we have good intentions to help others. However, we are sometimes just finding ourselves either passing on the “stuff” or simply finding ourselves right back where we were and trying to get again de-clutter. So I pose this possible solution, fill your life with God. He will never clutter your life, only fill your mind and heart. He will never depreciate in value and he is always a great deal. You won’t ever want to sell Him, but you will want to share him even with strangers.

My plan is to never “need” to have a garage sale again…here’s to hoping.


I know the plans I have for you…

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I know this verse as many do, however some have never read the following passages. 12 “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”

To me that is pretty comforting. Right now we are in a great place, a scary place, an exciting place, new place, a transition. We sold our dining room table and chairs right before dinner, enchilada dinner that I had prepared and clearly didn’t process the implications that would result in not having a table or chairs to eat on. We made due, went to my parents house and borrowed tv trays and then found random things to sit on. No major issues, praise the Lord, he works even in the little things. Our bedrooms are a bit crazy too no dressers and kids beds on the floor, end tables and desks cleared, storage shelves are emptied. We have boxes and bins and luggage in random spots around the house. Our garage is for sale, basically it is full of stuff for sale and this weekend a miracle could happen we could get rid of it all! Now that would be amazing!

It is kind of a balance of nervous and excited and a bit crazy. We are starting over essentially, in a whole new country, taking a few comfort items and mostly just essentials. It takes all trust in God to make this move, it’s what our family desires though, so it makes it a lot easier. It would be hard to imagine if we were forced to make this move, but for us it’s a conscious decision and we are very excited.

Someone once said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” (someone); but what was their idea of small? I find comfort in scripture, because it tells me in many different places to trust God. That God has our best interest in mind, that he has plans for us, that he cares for us. That’s good enough for me.

Continue to pray for us and follow our journey http://www.risingstarministries.com


Organizing and Repurposing

The family is hanging out in Michigan and we decided to do some DIY via cleanup and organizing the basement in Matt’s parents house. We knew there was some vintage things and wanted to showcase them. We thought that it would be a good Christmas gift to honor Mike. Mike served in the military and so we reframed some of his medals and other framed memorability and hung them up. We also decided to get all the records out and have them accessible to play by putting them on the shelves. We were able to repair one of his old record players and now he can relive the good olé days. We did some other organizing and got rid of old boxes and a few items that were no longer being used. Hopefully it was a good gift and it will be a space that can mix old and new allowing for an open place for the grandkids to play and for some memories to be shared.

I love to organize and try and utilize the things that we hold dear. I never have liked to keep things and then never get to enjoy them. I also am trying to live minimalistic and this is a very hard balance. You want to keep memories to share for generations to come but you don’t want them only to be seen when you have died and they are going through your stuff. I am going to try and figure out ways to keep items of sentiment available to share with others and preserve them so they don’t get damaged. I also would like to have some tangible items but also some items can be stored via the ever so amazing seemingly endless storage capacity on the computer. I was given the idea to store pictures of the artwork of the kids so you don’t have so much stuff. This is all good in theory but when downsizing it sometimes get hard to let go of that stuffed animal or the trophy you won. The point is that if de-cluttering your life allows for you to partake in something that is beneficial to you and or to your family then it is definitely worth the work.



I am all about re-purposing things especially to help to reduce cost and to reduce, reuse and recycle. However, I find it frustrating when people just purchase said junk items from garage sales, junk festivals, resale shops, vintage stores etc. And add to their already junk filled homes and lives.

Clear the clutter.

With the idea of moving to Uganda soon I have really focused on what the necessities are. I have always tried to have an un-cluttered life, but I do come from a line of “keepers”. My definition of a keeper is one who keeps things for sentimental purposes, but doesn’t add value or serve a purpose. It’s a few notches down from an obsessive collector or hoarder.

So as you switch over from your summer to winter clothes, think about what you can downsize. I have friends who are doing this challenge to wear one dress for a month. They can add to it however they want, but I believe the point is to simplify life.

I will give you a story of my experience in Uganda with just the idea of possessions. Clothing is always second hand OR made custom from a little sewing shop for example your one dress that is traditional or a wedding dress. You typically have two to three sets of clothing your work/play clothes and your dress clothes. You wear them until they are dirty and then you wear your other when you are washing the other. You can’t just stick it in the washing machine for 30 minutes it is a process. I found that my clothes were not clean and my hands were very sore when I tried to wash the traditional way. All that to say, it is possible to reduce and not replenish after we purge.

Consider donating your clothes, having a garage sale and donating the money to a charity (I know a great one ;)) or giving your old clothes to a friend who has a child younger than yours. The possibilities are endless and the types of things to give to others is also endless, clothes are just an easy example.

Be in the spirit of being more minimalistic and try and spend the time, energy and money on things that matter, things that make a difference in your life and the lives of others, some of whom you may never know the real impact you made.




My life in a nutshell “busy”;I`m sure we all can relate. Every time I want to sit down and write, something happens that makes it impossible to complete the task let alone start it. As I type now I am feeding one child and the other is waking from his nap thus, this maybe short. I wanted to touch on the concept of motivation. I am motivated these days to just make it through the day without yelling, being able to use the bathroom without interruption at least once, only changing my clothes once due to bodily fluids (which are not my own), and eventually being able to make it to my bed at the end of the day.

I however would like my motivation to be Christ-like it would probably look more like that if I would get up before the kids do and  read the Bible and pray. Realistically that is just not where I am at I sleep until awoken by a little girl who likes to kick and giggle to wake me up to start her off with some milk. When done feeding her a little boy wakes up and cuddles with me until he either wants food or cartoons. Throughout the day I am working on shaping a little boy into a man of faith and meeting the needs of my daughter, all while doing the necessary things around the house plus other  projects that are taking place. At the end of the day when the kids do go to bed I selfishly either want to go to bed or watch some pointless tv show to just let  my brain and emotions take a break.

Here is my problem I need God and I need Him daily so I am at the point where I know what I need I just need to motivate myself to do it and then the rest of my chaos will fall into place. When I figure it out I will let you know.