Friday, July 26, 2013

This morning, dishes are piled high from last night's dinner and an evening of preparing meals.  Crusty pans of lentils, onions, and various mixtures are literally heaving out of the sink and spilling out along our too-small counter top.  At 10pm, our water stopped working.  This morning, it was fixed for a few minutes, then cut out again.  Some of the perks of living in our little country fixer-upper.  Yep, sometimes, we completely run out of water and nothing comes from those shining taps. 

"Argh!  This huge mess.  I can't function like this!  Look at all the pots - seriously?  I can't even make breakfast... argh.  Honestly..."  I grumble, moan, you know, throw a childish tantrum.

I walk to our drinking water machine in an attempt to pour some cool water into a pot to at least wash up a bit and - empty. 

"You're kidding me, that's empty too?!?"  Grumble, whine, moan.  Maybe throw a Tupperware bowl.  No water at all.  Unless I start scooping from the river down the street, we're without.  I've considered it in the past.  It could be boiled, right?

There's a better option.  We are, after all, the rich.  (Did you know, if you merely live in the West, you are rich?)

I pile all the kids into the car to take the 20 minute drive to the free Spring for more water.

Yes, DRIVE to the ever-flowing, FREE Spring where I can fill as many jugs and buckets and bottles as I desire.  Nestled in a breath-taking area of our city, there is a fountain that never ceases.  Any one, at any time, can fill and fill and drink and drink.  And I grumble?


Get real, Cass.  You spoiled brat.  You whine that the taps have no water, but your fridge is full and you simply scoot your little car to a clear, cool spring and stock up easily, all too easily.  Then, a little jaunt over to the local library to pick up 24 books for the kids to enjoy.  For free.  Water and books.  Millions don't know these two gifts.

I'm reminded of when my best friend told me how her family and the ladies from her community in Kenya walk half the day to buy contaminated water.  WALK.  Half the day.  There was never a little tap that gave running water.  For many, there never will be a tap.  What they get is never free, and what they give their babies to drink, could eventually kill them.  My kids' three colored bottles are overflowing with safe, fresh drinking water. I've got a recycled jug filled up to wash dishes, and two more giant water containers for the week's drinking water. And I take even this for granted.  Imagine, being a Mother and not being able to give a safe drink to your child?

I choke back the tears and shake my head, staring at three little bottles, all in a row.  Blue, Pink, Red.  Three little bottles flowing over with a gift. 

This morning, it's not the tap that's broken.  It's me.

Broken right in the midst of my want and my selfish, entitled spirit.  I'm owed water.  But my sisters in Kenya?  They don't deserve to have clean water at the tips of their fingers? They deserve it far more than I do.

Humbled in spirit is where I am today, friends.  Once again, aware of my brokenness, my selfishness, my sinfulness.

Reminded that I need Jesus every day.  Every day to come in and refresh me with that renewing of the mind.  Because my mind?  It's busted up.  I desperately need the refreshing that moves me from entitled and spoiled, to broken and empty for His sacred filling. 

I want to live thankful and bowed low in reverence for all I have.  Teaching our children that they too are the blessed ones.  All that flows - every drop a gift from the One who gives and takes away.  And every drop, filling a bucket that is to be poured right back out again.

In His timing and in His grace - we grow.  Thank goodness for brokenness, because only when we are cut in two, can He put us back together.  Sometimes, the tap has to stop flowing so can we realize how blessed we are when it does flow.  So can we realize this truth - we are not owed anything.  When it flows, it is a gift.  Only when we realize how empty we are without Him, can He really, truly fill our cups.

Fill, fill, and overflow.  This splashing, coolness all over my heart and soul.  The kind of soothing renewal of strength and perspective that only comes from Jesus.

Have a beautiful weekend overflowing with God's grace, friends.

Written for Five Minute Friday

Must-read books about nutrition...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I wanted to post a list of some of the incredible books I've been reading.

If you care about your and your family's health (and I know you do), I would really encourage you to borrow these titles from your local library.  Read them with an open mind, and they could change your life. I will post a lot more about our family's health journey in the coming days/weeks.

Alright, here is my list of must read books about nutrition.  Yes, they are very pro-plant based diet.

These books have changed the way I view food and I hope they can do the same for you.  I'm sure there are many, many more.  I'll add them as I read them!

The top four are my biggest recommendations.  They are by far the best books I read on this topic.

  • The China Study by T. Colin Campbell (Must-read!)
  • Healthy Eating, Healthy World by J. Morris Hicks  (This is probably my favorite of the bunch for it's ease of reading and great information/inspiration.)
  • Food Revolution by John Robbins
  • Diet for a New American by John Robbins

  • No More Bull! by Howard F. Lymen
  • Forks over Knives (The How-to Companion the Documentary)
  • No Happy Cows by John Robbins
  • Food Inc. (The Participants Guide)
  • Let Them Eat Junk! by Robert Albritton
  • The End of Food by Thomas Pawlick
  • Disease-Proof Your Child by Joel Fuhrman
  • Fat Chance, beating the odds against SUGAR, PROCESSED FOOD, OBESITY, and DISEASE by Robert H. Lustig
  • The Crazy Makers, how the food industry is destroying our brains and harming our children by Carol Simontacchi
  • Whole Foods to Thrive by Brendan Brazier
  • SALT, SUGAR, FAT, how the food giants hooked us...  by Michael Moss

Some documentaries you might want to watch:
  • Earthlings (caution - there is some seriously disturbing footage in this doc, so be careful when you watch and if you're sensitive, you may choose to opt out.  But, this is TRUTH, friends.  I forced myself to watch.)
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Food, Inc.

If you have any more books or documentaries about plant-based eating, please, add them in the comments!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Exactly ten years ago today, I walked into a College and Career church gym-night and met the man I would marry. It was my 20th birthday.  Wes was playing game of 3-on-3 basketball and I was on the sidelines, trying to look like I was comfortable in the setting. 

I wasn't.

But I was desperate to belong to a group.  I went the church in search of a friend, I didn't know I'd find my future.

He came off the court sweaty and gross and plunked down on the ground beside me.  I remember thinking, "Ew, you need a shower..."  but then, he showed me a part of himself I still cherish today - his genuine heart.

"I like your necklace, it's pretty."  He fumbles and looks a bit scared.

I nervously look down.  Oh, yes, the seashell one.

"Oh, thanks."  Awkward silence follows.

Somehow we made our way into the snack room (which, might I add, was a much more comfortable setting for me than a basketball court... ha!).  We sat and we talked and we didn't stop until about three hours later. 

Wes and I knew pretty quickly that him and I, we were one in the same.

Neither of us felt like we every really belonged.  Not in our peer groups, that's for sure.  And if we ever did belong, it was to the wrong person or the wrong crowd.  We were both 20, and both seeking just what on earth our future was supposed to hold.

We didn't know what was in store for us.  We didn't know in those first few weeks of holding hands and talking for hours and him complementing me that my face was "well put together".  We didn't know that within a year, we'd be pregnant with our first baby and planning a wedding.  Yeah, sometimes, things work out like that.

Ten years later, three children later, the house, the garden, the hugs, the talks, the big decisions and the little decisions, the really, really rough days, and the laughing out loud days - here we are.   To many, I might look the same - but I'm truly nothing the same. 

Everything has changed.

We belong to each other.  We belong to our children.  We belong to Christ Jesus. 

And in who we belong to, we find our true self.  We grow, we change, we seek, and we find.  And we love.  We learn that love is so much more about accepting each other right where  you are and realizing that we belong to each other because God gave us to each other and that right there - it's a gift.

Our children belong to us and they belong to God and we belong to Him too.

The searching for where to rest is gone.  Because we can rest right here - in this Holy Belonging.

When we can look around us at the happy, crazy mess of family life, we can embrace this sacred belonging and realize, God plants it in our hearts.  Even the hearts of two crazy, confused kids at twenty years old.  Yes, even then, we were searching for that space of knowing we were home.

And now today, turning thirty - I see the path that God laid out.  I see the imperfect way we've walked it.  And I see His loving arm around us whispering always, "You belong to me, children... I will take care of me - you take care of each other..."

All I can do it look up at the sunny sky and thank God for everything He gives.  Grace -oh, boy!  Grace overflowing my soul and love so abundantly.

I hear the giggles of kids hiding birthday gifts for Mama, I glance out the kitchen window and the leaves shimmer - I breathe out. 

I am home.

Written for Five Minute Friday.

Being and Doing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I've come to realize the idea of 'rest' is hard for me.  I literally just don't like to sit down.  I much, much prefer to be busy: cleaning, cooking, chopping, planning, gardening, running, moving - doing.

But I've also come to realize how important it is to slow down.  To relax enough to really, seriously reflect and connect.  Reflect on the big picture, and connect with God and others.  This is HUGE for stability and spiritual health, friends.  HUGE.  I have, mind-you, realized that you can reflect WHILE moving.  (For all the crazy A-types out there, there is hope!)  I pray while I run and I sing songs to God while I prepare meals.  It can be done. (Chuckles)

But honestly. 

We in the West - we don't like rest.  Or at least, many of us don't.  Rest is for the weak.  Sleep is even for the weak.  What with all the drug-induced ways to stay awake, who even needs sleep? 

When we race through life, we're teaching our children to do the same.  We so often feel defined by what we do and evaluated by how much we achieve - it feels like it's all about 'doing'.

We sign our kids up for every sport and activity under the sun and forfeit family time to join the kiddie rat race.  It's the elephant in the room - the question of, "Who's kid is DOING more?"

Because surely, 'doing' all these things is the precursor to that all-successful life we should strive for and push our kids towards.  Right?  I wonder if we've become less human BEINGS and more human DOINGS.

We run and fill our 'doing' cups to overflowing but when do we truly concern ourselves with who we  ARE?  With who our children truly ARE and who are children are going to BECOME? 

Not what they do, who they are.

In our little family, we've chosen to step way back from that crazy race.  We believe children spend their time best with family and in that glorious space where imagination and creativity can run free.  Where Mom and Dad are close at hand and life is experienced together.  Where daily activities aren't a competition, but an experience.

See, we want our family to be more 
focused on the BEING than the DOING.

The crazy busy days of running from checkmark to checkmark leaves little space for just simply being.  When can we slow down long enough to even think?  When can our children calm their minds and bodies and connect with each other, with us, with God?  When can they look up and look all around and be still in this world?

How can we ask the 'Who am I?' and shape the "Who are they becoming?' when we never stop

The 'doing' trap is deep and wide.  The thrill of the 'busy' life.  The addiction of piling up the shopping lists and life 'goals' and wants and want-tos.

And, I know, not all doing is wrong.  Of course not.  But I'm talking about the kind of doing that is go, go, go, busy all the time and accomplishing very little that actually matters.  That actually is going to impact this globe in a powerful way.  That is God-driven, love-centered work.  That kind of doing, is biblical.  Busy-ness for the sake of busy-ness, is not.  Busy-ness for the sake of showing off, is not.  Busy-ness for the sake of acquiring the next thing, the next thrill, or the next gold star - it's actually called, "A WASTE".

Because life isn't about a piling up of accomplishments.  It's about building relationships.  Our relationship with Christ Jesus, and relationships with others.  It's not a rat-race to the front.  It's a bowing low to the very bottom.  It's not a stress-filled, "HAVE-TO!", it's a peaceful, "What would God have me do?"

Because, if first we become who God would have us become -the doing will be all laid out.  It will be clear and the path, straight.  Because who we are in Him will define how we live our days.  It will define how we spend our time and yes, what we 'do'.

Training ourselves and training our children to long to BE above longing to DO is not an easy task.  Daily prayer and hourly renewal is needed.

Faith, yes, that too.

Courage?  Yep.  Because you'll be standing apart.  Steadfastness, yes - because walking that narrow road is sometimes hard.

We need to have the ability to buck the giant of "what do you do?" and say instead, I will be in Him.  What I do is defined by that solemn and profound truth.  I am in Christ.  And what I 'do' may not look like much to some but that's ok.

Because we need to teach ourselves and teach our children that the BEING precedes the DOING.  Just the same way Eucharisteo precedes the miracle.

When we seek who we are to BE in Christ Jesus, everything else falls in place.  The doing becomes sacred, meaningful, and often quiet, simple, one-on-one.  The building of heartfelt friendships and relationships - the singing of His song in our own unique way. 

Imperfectly, off key - but beautiful, authentic.

When we stop long enough to just be in Him, we realize it's actually about our love for Christ above all else.  Striving to be like Him and then, do like He did.  And if we can, above all else, strive to BE in Him, we will be filled and our lives will flow over with love.  Our doing will be for others and for the Kingdom first.

We will BE content.

We will BE connected.

We will BE a life-breather.

We will BE fruitful.

We will BE renewed, restored, refreshed.

We will BE clay in the Master Potter's hand.

We will BECOME exactly who He has called us to be and in turn, He will show us exactly what we are to DO - every day, every moment.

Growing, seeking, learning... right along with you. 

Big hugs,
Linked In:

We Need to be in Nature...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

This Summer, can I challenge you to turn off the screens and spend as much time as possible outside?  Go TV or computer-free for a week or two. Plan trips to local lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and farms.  Turn off the cell phone and just be outdoors with your children. Bend low and smell a flower, dip your toes in rushing waters.  Search for frogs and insects.  Lay back on the grass and let the blades tickle your neck.  Invite your children into a deeper relationship with God – through His creation.

Join me today at The Better Mom for more about why ne NEED nature...


Friday, July 12, 2013

So, my camera fell into the river a couple weeks ago and now, it's broken.  On top of that, our internet is really acting up and not allowing me to upload images very easily.  So, there goes a huge part of my blogging...

I took it as a sign to just turn the camera and the computer off for a while.  And, the past few weeks  have been really peaceful.  Just enjoying my time with our children.  Not trying to capture an image or re-cap a day in writing.  Just being there.  Watching them grow and change and discover.

I'm trying to intentionally be 'here'.

(images from the archives... ha)

And, oh, I've lived the struggle of staying present.  I've dropped the ball so badly it's floated downstream and over the waterfall (like the camera).  I know how all the Moms and Dads feel.  I've lived those days.  Exhaustion sets in.  Selfishness wins.  Distractions take over.  Especially the distractions

And don't we live in a world full of menial tasks and stupid, time-wasting distractions?  (The answer is yes, yes we do.)

Part of the reason I long so deeply to be more 'unplugged' is so I can 'plug in' to what matters.  (Hence, the tag-line of this little blog.)  Because I watch countless parents live on high speed, blasting through their days.  The laundry, the sports team, the dinner (drive thru?), the play date, the school run, the appointments, the cleaning, the this, the that, the iphone, the email, the text message on the highway... always something to do and something to check.

I wonder though, when we're taking our last breaths here on earth, what will we reflect upon?  And we're all going to get there.  We'll all come to the end.

I'm sure we won't wish we'd cleaned more toilets or signed the kids up for more sports teams.  Or checked more text messages, or uploaded more images on our blog or Facebook.

We will reflect upon the relationships.  The times we were truly connected.  The people who loved and inspired us and the people we loved and inspired. The moments and the ways our hearts grew kindred to other hearts.  Love and be loved.  That's it.  How did we live out God's love?

When I come to my end, I will think of the days I was fully and totally present. Open to God's wonder.  In the moment.  Bonded to the hearts around me.  Because to be present means to enter in.  To walk towards and then dwell in what God has for us at that very point in time.  That heart, that soul, that person.  Because life is really about people.  Jesus' life was about people, and so our ought to be too.   This moment here, it's a scared blip - that could last for all eternity.  That could leave an impression on the hearts of our children forever.  That could inspire someone to find out more about this Jesus we serve.  That could lift a spirit, hug a heart, touch a soul more profoundly than we know.

But we have to be present.

We live in such a distracted, disconnected world.  People, children - they are longing for someone to look them in the eyes, hold the gaze, and actually engage with them.  Ask them how they are doing and truly care.  Truly, really, madly - CARE. 

You know what's going to make the Christ-followers different?  If we actually take the time to unplug from our devices and our hang-ups and our own lives.  Unplug, so that we can actually connect and plug-in to others in a passionate, authentic way.  Plug in to our children, our spouses, our neighbors, our family, even strangers.

When we choose a text message over looking around and seeing who needs a smile and a 'hello' - we choose to check out.  We just might miss something huge.

When we choose email over coloring with our child - we miss out on a moment in time that will never return to us.

When we choose Facebook over gazing into our child's eyes and listening to their heart - we really, really drop that ball.

And I've dropped it.

But I can also choose to change.  And choose to cling to what I know is right.  I want to live present. 

No regrets.

No, "I wish I had of...".

Every moment, we decide.  We choose to be relationally present or we choose to turn away.  In a world of beeps and bings and messages and constant contact and distractions blaring in our faces, we choose.  We are not victims of technology.  We are adults.

Living alive and awake to what is around us OUTSIDE of those screens is a counter-cultural choice.  We decide what our lives look like and how our family, children, and friends will relate to, and remember us.

We are empowered to be the author of our relationships by how we choose to live every single day. 

Every moment, a chance to either connect and be present or check out and be distracted.  It truly is a matter of self-control.   And aren't we called to have that?  Isn't it a fruit of the spirit?

Fruits are grown.  They are nurtured.  They are ripened.  One day at a time.  One choice at a time.

Let's choose to be present, and live with no regrets, friends.

Love to you all.


Linked in:

Five Minute Friday

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground