How One Mom Can Change The World

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A precious and powerful guest post by Emily T. Wierenga

I saw them walk into the church one Sunday, all five of them, the boys in their long pants and button-up shirts and the girls in their dresses, heads ducked low. They’d just lost their mother to a brain aneurism and I swore I’d never complain about another dirty diaper.

And then the next day my eldest son dumped the potty on the floor, a full potty, and my foster boys were fighting and my youngest fell down the stairs and got a black eye.

I gathered him up and ran to the office and sat on the floor and cried, rocking my baby back and forth wondering why God had asked me to be a mom, this girl who’d been told she wouldn’t be able to have children, this girl who had never wanted children—had only ever wanted to be famous. To be known, because of some deep unloved holes in her heart.

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Sometimes I escape to the back deck and listen to the silence, to the way the snow falls—softly, uninhibited—smelling the laundry through the chute and wishing for the same kind of significance I felt as a single person. Or even as a newly married person. The ability—and time—to do something profound because I didn’t have four little boys on my lap.

And then I turn and see their tiny faces pressed against the glass of the back door, their foreheads wrinkled and my baby’s lip beginning to tremble and I know without a doubt I’m famous. Despite the spit-up on my shirt, I matter in a huge way. This mothering, matters.

And not only that, but motherhood is revolutionary. It changes the world.

We live in a culture that insists mothers deserve spa-days and hot cups of coffee and time to remember that they are women—and to an extent, I agree. I grew up as a pastor’s daughter whose mother never had time to herself, who was always serving, and she was exhausted and sad. I swore I’d never become a mother because it ruins you, it wrecks you–and in many ways, it does.

But in the same way that Jesus says a seed cannot produce fruit unless it falls to the ground and dies, we as mothers cannot produce fruit in our children (or in the world) unless we too die to ourselves.

Being a perfect housewife is not the same as being a revolutionary mom. Being a revolutionary mother means taking time each day to snuggle with your children. To read them the same story over and over, to kneel down and look them in the eyes and tell them they mean the world to you. To pray with them and take flowers and meals with them to the lonely and teach them how to fly a kite.

A mother’s sacrifice is her child’s reward. They will not remember how clean were your floors. They will remember how you took time to sound out the words in their Winnie the Pooh book, or how you stretched out your arms and said, “I love you.”

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And this, friends?

This changing of the world?

It makes children of us all.

* * * * * *

Mothers? Friends? Will you help me change the world in a BIG way today, for 30 children from Rwanda? It will just take a moment… please read on.

Do you remember back in January when I visited Rwanda, HERE, and met all of those kids standing across the wire fence with their moms, staring wistfully at the students in their uniforms? And how I reached across that fence and took down their names, one by one, promising that I would help them get into that school? Because I know that education is one of the only ways out of poverty.

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I have gone and set up a page on my blog with 30 children who need sponsoring from that same village… those children, they could be on the other side of the fence by the end of the year. Would you consider reaching across the wire and taking their hand? You would change a life. But more than that–you would stop the cycle of poverty for yet another generation.

Here is the page:

Scroll down and you’ll find dozens of beautiful faces, all with very hard stories. If you right-click on a face and click “save as” you’ll see their name and number. If you want to either sponsor or learn more about that particular child, just email me and let me know, and I’ll send you the info: wierenga (d0t) emily (at) gmail (dot) com.

Here is info about World Help’s sponsorship program; in addition to learning about Jesus Christ, these children will have access to food, clean water, clothing, and an education:

“Our current sponsorship level is $35 per month. The most convenient way to give is through credit card or bank draft, and this can be done monthly, quarterly, or even annually. The way our program operates is a little different from some other organizations. The funds from a sponsorship do not go directly to each child or family in cash. Rather, the funds are sent to each program site and then used to meet the needs of all the children in the program. This way, if a child loses his or her sponsor, that child is still taken care of. So at Star School, the funds from sponsors help fund the operation of the school as a whole and allows low-income and disadvantaged children to attend with minimal school fees, or in many cases, free-of-charge. At Star School, the children receive a top-notch education, food, school supplies, and access to the on-site clinic. For children who live on campus, it covers their room and board. You can read more about how World Help uses funds here:

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Let’s change the world, friends. One child at a time.

EmilyEmily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including an upcoming memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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9 Classy Reasons to Go For A Cheap Date

9 Classy Reasons to Go For a Cheap Date
Now I don’t mean to make too big a deal out of this. 

But, yes, my husband did take me out for a hot date last week.

It went something like this. A Thursday night and nearly dinner time. And there I was dutifully scrubbing our sticky, kitchen floor when he walked into the house. That man of mine.

It was just like in the movies. . . .

Except that I was wearing grungy jeans, my hair piled up in a clip, with sweat dripping down my sides. And the pasta water was boiling over on the stovetop.

And the little boys were wildly chasing each other up and down the stairs.

Along with the muddy dog who happily joined in on the mayhem.

Oh, and the cat somehow got involved too.

And I haven’t even explained why the floor was sticky (but that’s another story).

Plus it was so terribly loud that – even if there had been swelling, romantic music to cue his entrance – I wouldn’t have heard it.

Besides that, I was too busy wrestling with my stupid old mop to notice that he’d actually walked through the door.

But that’s when it happened.

He took one look at that broken-down piece of junk and announced, “Hey, Babe, let’s go out on a Mop Date.”

Well, who could refuse an invitation like that? Not me.

I hollered back (above the din), “Give me two minutes!” and ran back to the bedroom to brush out my hair and apply some lipstick. Then turning down the stove,  I shouted out a few instruction to the kids and we were off to the Home Improvement store.

I felt like Cinderella – minus the ball gown.

Now how does this qualify as a hot date? Easy. We held hands all the way there and back. We stopped to kiss in the parking lot. And I got a new mop at the end of the evening.

All that fun for only $12.97. Wow.

Talk about a cheap date! My favorite. 

So here are 9 Classy Reasons Why I Love a Cheap Date:

1.    Cheap dates inspire creativity. Maybe it’s just me, but I like the challenge of coming up with something fun for only a few dollars.

2.    Cheap dates are flexible. No pressure of a dinner reservation or a tight timetable. We can even make it up as we go along!

3.    Cheap dates are convenient.  I hope this doesn’t sound bad, but it’s nice to enjoy something that doesn’t require a lot of trouble or effort from either of us.

4.    Cheap dates are fun.  Let’s face it – what could be more fun than kissing in the Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot?  Hard to beat, isn’t it! ;)

5.    Cheap dates are budget-friendly. Okay, that’s an obvious one. But honestly? When we’re watching our finances, it’s a relief to know we’re not breaking the bank but still having a great time.

6.    Cheap dates are simple. No fussy details or intricate planning required.

7.    Cheap dates are more frequent. Since they’re not expensive or complicated, we can go out more often!

8.    Cheap dates are low-stress. This is good for me, but it’s good for my husband too. We’re both better able to relax, talk more, and simply take it easy.

9.    Cheap dates are romantic.  Strolling through the park? Sneaking away to a local cafe? (A trip to the home improvement store?) Doesn’t get more romantic than that.

So yes, it’s true – I’m a cheap date. And I love it!

How about you? What’s your favorite “cheap date”? Tell us all about it (I’m always looking for new ideas)!

In His grace,
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All The Wonderful Love a Mom Can Carry

All the Wonderful Love a Mom Can Carry

Another inspiring guest post by Christy Fitzwater

We were enjoying lunch, until my son cried out, “I need water! I just got a mouth full of something salty!” I paused to explain to my soon-to-be-married daughter that she should always make sure the bouillon cube has dissolved completely into the chili.

After we stopped laughing, my husband said, “You owe him.”

“Owe him what?” I said.

“A slushy!” he said. “And me? And me a slushy, too?”

“And me?” my daughter said.

I conceded and said I would run to the gas station to buy slushies for all. (Really, this makes for a very popular mother. Bouillon cube forgotten.)

“Can you carry all those?” my husband asked.

“Yes, I’m a mom” I answered.

He wondered what being a mom had to do with it.

“You know –when you’re a young mom you learn how to carry in one hand a heavy car seat filled with a baby, with purse and diaper bag in the other hand –and then your husband asks if you can carry his Bible, too.”

“Hey!” He said.

“Then you have a second child, and you carry in one hand a heavy car seat filled with a baby, and in the other hand you carry a heavier diaper bag that includes sippy cup, snacks, and toys for the toddler. Add to that the toddler running up to say, ‘Mom, can you hold my Sunday School craft?’ You absentmindedly take the craft from the child, tucking it under an elbow.

“Honey,” I continued, “That’s when a mom learns how to close things with her back side or with one foot kicked out awkwardly from behind the car seat. She learns how to open doors with an elbow and carry just one more thing under the chin or in her teeth.”

“Wow” he said. More in awe at my impromptu speech than with the information.

So off I went to the gas station, where I purchased and carried three large (cold!) slushies in hand, using my back side to open the gas station door and one pinky finger to open the car door.

But all of this made me think –moms carry things.

We carry the night watch with infants and the fierce hatred of 2-year-olds who have been denied another bag of fruit snacks before dinner.

We carry smelly soccer equipment and socks that have dried and hardened wrong side out.

We carry plates of hot chocolate chip cookies to a distraught middle school girl and carry the worry that our teenage boy’s future wife will hate us if we don’t somehow convince him to put the towel on the hook.

We carry a lot, and the question it raises is, “With what attitude do we carry the responsibilities of motherhood?”

There have been times I’ve grabbed my responsibilities with scathing resentment, muttering wicked things about my family under my breath. “Why can’t they just…”

But over the years, God has worked in my heart to help me say, with sincerity, “How may I help you with that?” or “I would love to carry that for you.”

Maybe getting closer to the empty nest years has helped, as I foresee the days when those kids aren’t in my house, and they’re carrying their own burden of family. It makes me want to say to them now, “Please let me do that for you.”

It’s a privilege –a joy that will too soon be gone, to help bear the daily needs of a family.

Christy FItzwater Small BioChristy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She is the mother of a son in high school and a daughter in college. She enjoys when the days get shorter and the weather nasty so she doesn’t feel guilty about not going outside. Days where she can just read books and write words all day. She can even tell you the plots of 15 missionary biographies without batting an eye. You can read her personal blog at ChristyFitzwater. Also find her at Pinterest and Twitter.

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Strong-Hearted Women and the Men Who Love Them

Strong Hearted Women and the Men Who Love Them

I’m not sure what started it.

But I suspect it had something to do with this one book I’d read a few years back. I’m not saying the author intended to communicate this message, but it’s certainly what I concluded.

If I wanted to be a a good wife – a biblical wife? Then I needed to tone it down a bit.

Okay, a lot.

I needed to swallow it, hold it back, and keep it down. I was far too intense for my own good. Or at least for my husband’s good.

So I started this new, radical campaign. I didn’t even tell my husband what I was up to, but decided that from then on, I was going to mellow out. Keep it quiet.

Now for those of you who know me, you probably find that rather funny. You can’t even hardly picture it.

But I really did try.

And I kept it going fairly well . . . until one day when we were discussing a certain subject while standing by the piano—a subject that I felt, ahem, passionate about. And suddenly, I couldn’t take it any longer.

I nearly shouted, “I JUST CAN’T DO THIS.”

Do what??” his eyebrows raised.

“I can’t simply keep my mouth shut and not express all that I’m thinking or feeling!” I was practically shaking with frustration.

Then – being the sensitive soul that he is – he burst out laughing.

I resisted the temptation of throwing the old red hymnal at him. But only barely.

I’m glad I did though, because I might have missed what he said next . . . .

“But, Baby, I don’t want you to ‘zip it’. I married you because I appreciate your strong mind and passionate heart. Don’t you see? I love that about you.”

Oh. You do?

And at last I was able to reconcile being a strong-hearted woman and being a biblical wife.

Now some of you might not see the struggle here. What? What’s the issue?

Well, the “issue” is that Scripture talks about the “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (I Pet. 3:4) and I truly wanted to fit that description. But I wasn’t so sure that I did.

So maybe you’re a strong-hearted woman too. You don’t give up, you’re willing to stand up for what you believe is right, and you’re passionate about your family and the world you live in.

Boy! do I get that.

And guess what? It’s okay.

So all my strong-hearted friends, be encouraged.  Here are some  beautiful truths for you:

A Strong-Hearted Woman can keep a quiet heart. She’s not agitated in her spirit, yet remains strong in her convictions. A lovely example of this is Elisabeth Elliot – one of the strongest women of my acquaintance and also the author of Keep a Quiet Heart.

A Strong-Hearted Woman draws her strength from Christ – not from herself. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).  Always remember the true Source of your strength.

A Strong-Hearted Woman readily respects her husband. She uses her strength to support her husband. Not to go up against him (Eph. 5:33).  (More here: The Highly-Rated Habit of Respecting Him)

A Strong-Hearted Woman cultivates a sweet spirit. Sweetness and strength are not opposites. These two qualities actually can - and should - go hand-in-hand.

A Strong-Hearted Woman walks in humility. She knows that just because she might feel more strongly about something doesn’t necessarily make her right (and you know what I”m talking about!).  Don’t let your intensity triumph over all.

God gave you that wonderful, passionate heart and, as long as you’re submitted to Him, then you’re right where He wants you to be. Not only that, you’re right where your husband  wants you to be.

Yes, your man loves that about you.

In His grace,
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