Eyes wide open

In the beginning of every school year our church presents Bibles to Grade 1s and their parents. So today I sat in a pew and watched proud parents and smiling kids walk up to accept their very own Bible. The parents had been able to go into the church before Sunday and write personalized notes to encourage their kids in their personal walk. Those parents would pray for their children, and answer (to the best of their ability) all their questions about faith and life. And those parents would love those kids, as only parents can.

I thought I was done grieving my kids I left in Africa, but as grief often does today it came rushing back when I least expected it. No one would give any of my beautiful children Bibles when they got to Grade 1. No one was there to dedicate them after birth. No one was there to tuck them into bed every night and read to them from their very own Bible. Needless to say I was lost in my emotions and thoughts.

It's not fair. There is nothing fair about life, I know that. But every child deserves love and the opportunity to grow up in a family. Through reunification or adoption. My heart wants to tuck every child into bed and tell them how much I love them, and more importantly how much Jesus loves them. I'm going to he totally honest with you guys. As much as my heart aches to go back to Uganda I'm so scared. I can still remember how my heart hurt after I go home. Crying myself to sleep because I was so far away from the children I loved so much. Wondering whether in all my pain I even made a difference in their lives. Wondering what I can do to make a difference from home.

I am a selfish human and when I think only of myself I would never want to go back. I want to put the blinders back on and forget everything I saw. But here's the thing. Scripture says once our eyes are opened we are responsible. And when I think of all the kids living without love, when I put them first, I would go back in a heartbeat. It is always easier to not know. It will always be easier to live a life where you don't know that 30 000 kids die a day of starvation or preferable diseases. Or where you don't think about the 147 million orphans. But that's not the life I want for myself. Because when I think about my beautiful kids there is still grief but then I remember dancing with Trevor or Peaces' first smile. Or when Susan walked on her own for the first time. Or how Gift glowed when we threw her a birthday party. I pray in my brokenness God allowed those moments to mean something. That my kids will always know that they are loved, most importantly by our Heavenly Father.

So I chose to stand with eyes wide open. Sometimes it's harder to know and see but the rewards are far greater. In this life and the next.


Thrifty Shopping

So I did a little shopping this last weekend for the new job. And I'm pretty proud of my thrifty find, so I thought I would share with you some of my rules. I have a few tips on how I have curbed the once shopping addiction and how I keep my spending on track. I think how we spend our money is very important and excessive spending is not necessary or biblical. I also think it is okay to treat ourselves something and that is something you need to decide on your own. These are just personal guidelines I follow.

Now that I'm buying clothes again I'm really careful to follow some rules.

1. I never window shop, don't go to the mall unless you actually need something. How you decide your need is a personal thing but try to go with the replace not upgrade thought process. If things don't fit or a ripped or worn out it is okay to replace them. In my case I got a new job and did need new dress clothes because I had none!

2. Decide what you need before you go to the mall. If all you need is a new sweater, go in, find a sweater, and leave.

3. Don't buy too fast, sometimes it is worth it to shop around and find the best deal. I also try the thrift stores first, you don't always find something there but when you do it is well worth it. It takes a bit more work but is worth the savings.

4. Set a budget and don't go over it. For me I would not spend over 15 dollars on a shirt, so if it was more than that it went back on the rack. I don't even try it on if it is over the budget. This is a great way to not fall in love with things that are more than you would want to spend. You tend not to really love stuff until you see how it fits etc.

5. Always try it on! Make sure it fits right otherwise it will sit in the closet and be a waste of money.

6. Try to arrange your closet in a way you can see everything. I used to have so many clothes that things would be lost and I would forget what I had. I find that continually donating stuff that doesn't fit or is ripped etc. allows you to see what you actually have and therefore know what you actually need.

7. Try to buy things that work with everything else in your closet. This weekend I fell in love with some grey shoes but they would not have matched with my tan pants so then I would have needed to buy another pair of shoes for those pants. So I walked away. Later I found the same style shoes in black and knew they would work perfect! Was so glad I held off.

8. Spend the majority of your money on things that are timeless. Anything trendy try to find on super sale or at the thrift store because it is unlikely you are going to want to wear it after it is out of style.

So what did I buy this weekend?

I got three great pairs of dress pants. I bought some fantastic grey slacks at the thrift store for $6. I found dress pants I liked at target for $25, since they were regular I kept shopping and figured I could come back if I found something cheaper. When I went back to target the next day they had restocked and organized the sale rack and I found two great pairs of dress pants for $6. Same price as the thrift store, I was very excited.

I treated myself to a dress. I don't really have a fall dress for weddings and I found a great black classic dress for $7. You can't really go wrong at that price and I have a wedding to wear it to next month anyways!

I thrifted one cardigan at $8 and splurged on another at $25.

I bought myself some great white Gap jeans for $10.

I thrifted a blouse for $6, bought one at $15 and a nice dress sweater at $15.

Last but not least I bought me some shoes! I needed something I could wear in winter, wanted a flat and a heel for the office. So I got these great oxfords for only $20 and some super cute ankle boots with a small heel for $30.

Shopping is all about balance, something you might spend a little more than you wanted to on something but getting everything else at a great price balances things out!

It is also about remember that it is important to look good, because if you look good you tend to feel good but our worth cannot only come from outward appearance. We are children of an amazing God who pursues us passionately and we don't need to put anything on to please Him. He loves us exactly as we are!