We don't have conversations like we used to. We type words that appear on screens and we don't communicate our thoughts all that well. Our attention is short and written words reflect just how short it is, ie. twitter post lengths. We live our lives depending on snippets to inform us and expect better of those around us because of the snippets we share. We focus on headlines and we never dig deeper. We quickly share lost child posts and never bother to click to even see if we should be rejoicing for those that are found. We've gone from blogging, to mini-blogging, to reels set to music that are a great source of entertainment, but really add little value to who we are or our lives. We live by headlines, sound bites, and snippets and we judge our world on these. Social media thrives only when there is astounding news to share or an extraordinary person who catches our eye.
Our judgement of the world is far from accurate based on these tidbits. We don't see all the corruption, we don't understand the depth of conspiracies, we also do not see the most important part, the inner workings of what God is doing.
See, just below the surface of what we can see and hear is a network that goes unnoticed. The algorithms of the internet don't place much value on what is going on there. Just below the surface of what we see as hard facts and real life is a network of good happening. Organizations that are birthed from the hearts of people that love Jesus and want to do more for the world are moving and working in the communities we often neglect, our own.
I recently met a lady with a huge vision and has proven what it is she wants to do actually works
Imagine a single mom walking out of jail who has a child her parents are raising or is in the foster system. This mom is thrown into the world again; old contacts at hand, drug use still around the corner, alcohol handed to her because they KNOW she wants it. The cycle continues and families stay broken. Then imagine this single momma, walking out of jail to her child and has an advocate by her side who refuses to let her be thrown back to the wolves of the world. Instead, she gives her a safe place to sleep, healthy food, the love of Jesus, and many other things she needs to contribute to her own healing. She isn't even required to find a job right away because the pressures of work can even be too much. After a few months, she begins a new journey in her healing of working to make something for herself, to save money, to providing for herself and her child. A year goes by and she's living in a reduced rent apartment, answers the phone at a front desk, and actually is taking care of her child on her own while going to school part time. Eventually, she graduates with a degree or starts her own business and her family is made whole again. The support and love is always there for her when she needs it and she can now trust that she has it in her to become more. The vision is beautiful and noteworthy and deserves our attention, but it works under the surface with little recognition and even push back from the community for helping a drug user.
The vision of one, easily becomes the vision of many.
Imagine a network of women coming together to help single moms go to school and find jobs, imagine a network of women who are helping single moms coming out of bad situations get back on their feet starting with the birth of their babies, imagine a network of women working together to help make sure those babies have clothing and safe beds to sleep in and car seats too. Imagine all these networks joining together just under the surface and begin to support a community of women that includes anyone from a runaway to a young adult who the foster system let go. Imagine these women pooling resources and creating a network, a net, that hopes to catch those that are falling through the cracks,, to prevent them from becoming part of a broken system.
Titus women do this.
I say all this to say, are you paying attention to "under the surface"? Are you letting the world tell you there is little hope and nothing more you can do? You may not be the one called to start an organization, but you are the one Jesus is calling to do more. Doing more can look like baking 1 extra meal a week to folding and having clothing for children and teens. If you're worried about the state of our economy, our nation, our values, anything, then you need to fix your eyes on Jesus and ask Him what you can do. There is hope, it does't get the attention it deserves. It doesn't even get the help it needs to stay hope..
Our God is raising up an army of women who are everything from prayer warriors to giant killers and we do it in ways that no one will ever see. If you're looking for an organization or foundation to help, here are a few that have amazing plans.
Flourish Foster Care Closet & Support, Inc.
6 Simple Ways to Help Your Community
There are volunteer opportunities everywhere you look. Look into areas that appeal to you and your interests. A few examples are...
2. Support Local Businesses
Often it is the local business, not large corporations who support local charity work. Here are a few ways to help support your local business beyond just shopping with them.
3. Tidy Up
Something as simple as picking up trash on a stroll or planting a few flowers for an elderly neighbor can brighten the community you live in. You an even organize small events that focus on cleaning up water ways, nature paths, and playgrounds.
4. Help Your Neighbors
So often we see a need and we hope that someone else will step up and meet that need, even in our own communities. Charity starts at home and community starts with everyone around you.Take the time to get to know people around you and find out how you can help. You can contribute in many ways from budget planning, to meal preparation or shopping and even just having a chat. You never know how much your time and effort will mean to someone else.
5. Donate Things.
You don't always have to donate money to help organizations. You can also donate your unwanted items that are still in excellent shape. I personally run the organization Flourish which provides infants to youth in foster care with clothing. We love taking in beautiful, like new clothing to help provide for others. Charity and Ministry Thrift Stores appreciate your well meaning donations of goods and the funds often not only help support their ministry, but also helps create jobs for people in your community as well. Even local food banks appreciate contributions year round.
6. Donate Money
We don't always have a lot of money laying around to just give away. However, pooling together resources can create big impacts. Give a little here and there with the help of others can provide in big ways. Saving or rounding up your change is a great way to collect over time and then give back to organizations you want to support. Getting together with friends, coworkers, or church members to collect a little bit can add up to big support for smaller organization that use your little bucks to make big impacts. A twenty dollar gift card can buy new shoes for a child just placed in foster care. Just skipping your favorite chain store coffee shop 1 or 2 times a month and setting that money aside for a bigger purpose, makes a big difference in your community.
Helping the community is good for you and good for those around you. Whether you spend time on a community project, donate unwanted clothing or just tidy up, giving something back can help you too.
I had this really cute candle I bought at the store last fall and I burned it quite often. The scent was called Harvest Bakery and all I know is that it smelled amazing and it was in this adorable container. Recently, while it was burning next to my bathtub, it went out. It was done. Finished. At that moment, I realized how much my life right now was like that candle. Maybe you're going through the same thing too.
I've been a terrible mother. I have done and said things so many times out of frustration and anger that I regret. Have you ever? I'm telling you that it I have lost it and in the wake of my storm, when all is calm, I become highly convicted about my own behavior despite the reason why I blew a fuse. Then starts the comparison game. I bet my friend who is so sweet and calm all the time, never talks to her kids that way. I bet the preachers wife has never even raised her voice to her kids. I bet my friend from college is the kind of mother that scoops her kids up and has highly effective conversations with her little ones so that they never disobey, never mess with things, never undo hard work, and always hit the laundry basket every single time.
As I’m laying awake in bed tonight, unable to sleep, I thought I’d take a minute and write down a dream I had recently that had been an eye opener for me...
A few mornings ago I was able to sleep in a little later than usual. That usually means I’m dreaming something vivid. This morning was no exception.
In in my dream I am still living at home with my parents. I could not figure out why I was back home in the house I grew up in. I kept thinking, “Aimee, you are 41 years old. Why are you still with your mom and dad?” It just didn’t make sense. Nothing made sense and I was completely frustrated.
Then, suddenly I would remember that indeed I had spent the last precious 16 years in my own house. Oh. And yes, I had a husband and children. Then for a brief second I would remember my life like a flash.
As as quick as the memories came, they left and I again was wondering why I was still living with my mom and dad.
This went on and on in my dream and it would break my heart every time I would remember my actual life, It was the most frustrating feeling. I was so upset and angry at the situation. It eventually occurred to me that I actually wasn’t living with mom and dad again but that I was living somewhere unfamiliar. I was never in my reality long enough to explain to anyone what I was experiencing.
When I woke up from this dream my heart ached. I called James and told him to which he replied “you have dreams like that often. They’re sort of reoccurring. The same theme but not exactly.”
Maybe I’m projecting some of this on myself when I talk about how forgetful I am concerning details of my life. Maybe it comes from how sometimes I can’t say in front of others what I really want to say, it never comes out right. Maybe deep down that’s the thing I’m worried about later in life. Forgetting. Feeling lost.
What I did realize in all of this... I am sure that this is how demntia must feel. I feel like I’ve been given a view inside the mind of someone who suffers from this awful phychosis. I could feel it in my soul, the suffering of not being able to make sense of this life.
What does one do with this new knowledge? I can’t seem to shake that this is prophetic in some way either concerning someone I know or myself someday. Whatever the reason it’s a reminder to be kind to those you know who suffer. Be compassionate and understanding. We can’t tell but their hearts are breaking and their minds are not on board with reality much any more.
We've all heard the phrase, "bloom where you're planted." It really is a great little quote to share but even more so, to meditate on. We all have a past and parts of our past we tend to grieve on the regular. Maybe you grieve those moments in the kitchen with Grandma, or watching. your kids sled down the neighborhoods favorite hill; maybe, you grieve for loved ones that have moved out and moved on or for just the moments spent with those you care so much about. We all do it, and sometimes we can let grief keep us in a dormant state.
In early January, I pulled up my Etsy app and started searching for Peonies. They are my absolute favorite flower. They graced my mothers front walk way and my grandmothers back door. I just think they are the most majestic flowers and I have decided that I want every kind I can find. There is a great little Etsy shop that is based just north of us and shares the same planting zone. I decided to take a chance on some mail order Peonies. They arrived fairly quickly and because I love receiving packages I was also quick to open the box. I was excited to find 3 pots of dirt, wrapped in plastic and surrounded by packing peanuts. I pulled each pot out of its plastic and it literally just looked like a pot of dirt. Somewhere beneath all of that soil that was shipped was a plant, a dormant plant.
Being that it was still January, I let the little ladies hang out in our basement for the time being. We had not yet even built our front porch on our house and I want them to be tucked in around our front porch. I would have to wait. They would also have to wait and remain dormant. Then there was a really beautiful, warm winters day today. Our porch is built but unfortunately not yet ready for landscaping. I was a little anxious to see how my baby Peonies were doing so I pulled them out of the basement from their box and carried them out to debate on what I should do based on their conditions.
Sprouts. Sprouts were poking up just ever so slightly, beginning to reach for the sky in search of the life giving sunlight. My baby girl and I pull out my grandmothers 3 concrete planters and prepared them to receive my three precious Peonies. We carefully transplanted each. These are the moments when I wish I had a small green house. (Hmmm, I think that will be my next project.). I want to make sure those little ladies are well protected and able to thrive. I've put so much thought and have been so careful to make sure they can reach their full potential.
See, flowers and trees really have such a neat life. The go about life doing what they were created to do. The may flower, bloom, bud, or just stay green all year. More than anything, every little plant has one goal, just one. To grow as tall as it can! It is going to reach and stretch with all its might to the sun until it can reach no further. Many factors will come into play to determine just how far it can reach. If conditions are just right it will thrive. If conditions are not just right, it will struggle.
Struggle & Thrive
Now, there's a thought. As I was planting my little Peonies I prayed that they would thrive. I wanted the best for those little plants because if they reach their full potential, they will bring so much joy to all who meet them when they are clothed in all their flowering glory.
Isn't that kind of like us as women? We are planted and we are told we should bloom where we are planted. How can we ever reach our full potential though if we aren't given the right conditions, no matter how much we want to bloom. If the conditions we are in aren't conducive to thriving, what are we to do? The answer is so very simple. Pray.
Romans 8:28 gives us confidence that everything we endure is used for God's glory, for a greater purpose, for good. We know that when we are in His hands, not matter the circumstances or conditions, He will make it all right. Even if it's grief, you don't have to stay dormant.
I want to encourage you, that if you don't feel you are thriving in this life to ask God if you are planted where you ought to be. Are you in the best place so that He can use your life and make it beautiful? If you don't feel that is so then just ask Him to plant you in the right place. Ask Him to begin to surround you with people who can encourage you, speak life into you, pray for you, and help you see yourself as God sees you. Ask Him to send life giving words your way, favor, and to uproot you from where you are if the conditions aren't what He sees as His best for you. Don't be afraid of being uprooted when you are in His hands. Sometimes that's just what we need to leave our dormant place and begin to grow where we have not. Sometimes it's what we need to get the conditions just right for thriving.
Six months ago, my family of 7 put everything we owned on truck beds and trailers and stored as much as we could, nearly everything. We moved into a camper and a small cabin between us. It's not what I personally would consider ideal but it works for us. In the mean time, I have watched our new house rise out of the ground. We are thriving and making progress. My kids have discovered that they can actually play in nature and enjoy it. We have become closer as a family than I could have ever imagined. We've even add a really sweet dog to the mix who is our protector and friend.
God took what might look like a mess and misery to others and has made it beautiful. In the end, we have prayed over and over that we do not owe one single cent on our house. We own our land free and clear but a house is a different story. It sounds impossible to some.
Your circumstances maybe currently be ideal and perfect for you and your family to thrive. I pray that is the case for more and more families. However, as I have friends that reach out concerning needing prayer various circumstances I find it so very heart breaking that they just are not thriving. I have seen doors open and doors close for them and for others. I have seen God move and make a way were there shouldn't be a way. I have seen God drench families in His love and He has radically changed their circumstances so that they begin to thrive. The struggle, it will always be there. We aren't promised that things will be good and easy all of the time.
1 Timothy 4:10 says "That is why we labor and strive". We work and struggle. We work and struggle. We grown and stretch. We grow and stretch. It's not for our glory that we finally get to bloom. It's literally, for HIS glory that the world gets to be a witness to all the goodness and beauty that our story brings to the world.
I still find myself grieving for what once was. We had a beautiful home and were surrounded by family for 16 years. We brought home all 5 of our babies to that house, 2 were handed to us at our threshold there. I still grieve for my Granny who lived next to us and for the security we had in having my parents across the street. I find myself starting to grieve those things and that's okay. The thing is, I can't stay dormant long because God planted us so very perfectly. We were meant to thrive.
It's all for His glory.
So many little things have been coming together lately and making me question my own purpose. Do you ever find yourself wondering if your purpose in this life is bigger than what you currently see in front of you? We have lived so much of our lives as women and mothers; and we have to believe that all we've been through and all we are going through has a purpose beyond our own little lives. Advice we give from our own experience or a word of encourage to another because we've been there may give purpose to some of the things we've been through. Do you ever feel you have a higher calling as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, woman?
Have you ever reflected on you life and thought, "How could God even use me?" Do you feel very insignificant and alone? Do you feel bound by the little life you have and the mundane tasks you are in charge of daily while admiring others who have found a higher calling? Nothing in your life has ever happened that seems significant enough for a powerful testimony that God can use? It was only a few years back that I felt this way, but I had this feeling inside of me that called me to do something bigger. It's a very confusing thing to feel one way about your life and being called to do the opposite.
I saw your heart last night. I don't always get to see it, but I saw it.
We were all tired from a long days work and it was my birthday. You've never made a huge deal out of birthdays. I get that some how this is because of how you grew up, how your birthdays were treated. Still, your small efforts to show me love were seen. Your kids saw it too.
Hey husbands, you know that girl that you took by the hand and promised to love and honor forever. She's worth it.
As time paces forward and the days come and go she finds herself standing in front of the mirror wondering if the years show. She puts on the cream to try to rid her eyes of the lines from laughing and the lines from worry. She wonders if she can recapture a bit of the youthful girl you fell in love with and wonders if you think she's worth it.
All the late nights rocking babies and tending to the sick ones wear on a momma. She looks at her body and knows it's not the same. She aches some days from laying carefully and awkwardly next to a child that wouldn't let her go. Her hair is dull from too many days of dry shampoo but she's surviving and hoping for a moment a peace which she often only finds in the car while it sits in the drive way; and she wonders if you still thinks she's worth it.
She sees her hand weights and yoga mat collecting dust and knows that she bought them with good intentions, just like the work out videos and running shoes. She's on her 4th cup of coffee and just trying to heave the laundry from washer to dryer. She feels like she's gotten a workout already. She imagines that she can do it all, but knows she's not meant to and yet, the thought crosses her mind as she whispers to herself, "Am I worth it?"
She shuffles the kids to bus stops and through car rider lines, signing forms and searching through backpacks. She pulls out folders and the homework then Googles how to do 5th grade math. She catches herself day dreaming while listening to a child read a book. She's dreaming about you....
She's worth it you know. She's worth coming home to and asking her about her day. She's worth a moments hug or gentle kiss. She's worth offering a minutes peace to so that she can capture a little of herself back from the day that seems dwindle her away. She's worth asking the question, "what can I do to help?." Make her heart race with words of giving love.
Your support is important.
Your love is important.
Your tenderness is important.
Your gentleness is important.
Your strength is important
She's worth it.
She just needs you to see her.
See her strength and beauty.
See her worth.
See her efforts.
She's worth lifting up.
She is worth your love, your affection, your attention, and your honor.
She is worth it.
She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. - Proverbs 3:15
In the last few weeks I have spent several hours washing my families dirty laundry at the laundromat. Each time I need a load cleaned and dried I have to deposit quarters into the machine. With each quarter I get closer to the promise that I’ll end up with a load of clean clothes. I have been think a lot about these deposits and the promise that when I leave I’ll have baskets of clean clothes and my family will have what they need for the week.
I love a good story and one that especially touches my heart and teaches me more about how to be a better wife. I want to share with you a story that truly helped open my eyes to what I was called to be...
Take a deep breath.
Four little words that play through our minds when we feel like things are spiraling out of control, when we feel like we are losing our grip, when the unexpected just took control over our day; take a deep breath.
Go ahead, breathe in deep.
Now, let it out.
Do it again and again until you feel the calm sweep back over you.
Your heart rate steadies, your blood pressure comes down, and you can focus on what truly matters.
You know that place where you go to hide, to be alone for awhile? For some of us, it might be under the sheets, curled up in the corner of the couch, in our cars after pulling in the drive way, or even in a hot shower so you can hear nothing except the water streaming down.
We all have that place. We all have those reasons. Maybe you need to escape, maybe you are afraid, maybe you have let your thoughts run amuck and just need a minute to settle them down. Maybe you are weary from fear and shame; and the burdens of life are weighing heavy. You just need to escape and hide.
If one of your babies was lost out in the world you wouldn't stop looking for them. Ever. Right?
In this throw away world, it’s uncommon that you hear of someone going after something they’ve lost because of the abundance they have. I bet you we don't even notice most things we've lost. We typically keep moving forward in a world where losing one thing compared to the other ninety-nine things we have is okay. We have so much that we value that in reality, we value very little. If you had $100 would you really miss $1 of that if it were lost? It’s just 1%, right? No big deal. When we have fewer of something, we tend to value it more. If you have 3 cars and one is wrecked or out of commission you notice. It probably bothers you or upsets your daily plans. What if one of those things you were missing was one of your children?
In 2015, I was in a real spiritual battle. My husband and I were embarking on something that the Lord had called us to do and within that the Devil knew that God was placing us into the battle for a purpose. We remain victorious as long as we are in His Will. Let me take you back to a journal entry.
We all have those days that just don't go as planned. We can all relate to feeling like we have too much on our plate and we just don't know how we are going to do it all. The day to day can feel overwhelming, much less the year to year to do list. I'm so thankful that this method of organizing my anxious thoughts and to do list works...
There are so many memories we forget because we don't record them. I found this little gem of a memory in an old blog post. It serves as a brilliant reminder of someone I deeply love and grieve for many days, but it also serves to help me remember a precious memory I can share for generations.
I don't know about you but the adult me has struggled. It makes me sad to know that my adult life, up until a few years ago, was miserable. My battle with my weight led to a cycle of being miserable, unhappy, and depressed for so long. I am so thankful that I finally found a way to break that cycle...
I have been mothering boys for a long time. The one thing I always share concerning raising boys, is raising boys whose future wives won't hate me. They know how to help out and pitch in. They may not always do it willingly or in a timely manner but they know how to get it done. Here is a simple chore chart if you need to help keep your little ones (or big ones) on track.
Christmas with too much stuff is exhausting and I'm hearing the cries of Momma's and Daddy's everywhere that they are sick of stuff. It seems like this season has taken a turn like I've never seen before.
Blueberries are one of my very favorite fruits. They grow wild around here. I have a friend that made me blueberry jam recently and I ration it's deliciousness.
I'm Aimee, former Early Childhood Educator and Reading Specialist turned author, speaker, blogger, and mom of 5. This website is meant to inspire & equip parents of little ones to promote early literacy & language development at home. You will also find fun crafts, devotionals, and recipes to explore..
Learn more about me here.