Friday, May 12, 2017

Celebrating Like a Mother!

For the fifth year in a row, my amazing friends have helped me put together Swag Bags for mothers in need.  We didn't just make a few this year, we made thirty bags for moms and twenty bags for kids!  For more information on the inspiration behind this little project, read this post or this post. 

In the past, our bags have always gone to the Women's Crisis Center of Northern Kentucky.  I connected with them for my original project five years ago and have since grown to love and admire their mission.  If you missed out on this year's Swag Bags, consider making a donation directly to the Crisis Center for Mother's Day.  They serve survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Their shelter is anonymous and residents are surrounded by loving, sensitive staff which provide comprehensive services for the women and their children.  It's a phenomenal organization.  I look forward to showering those mamas with gifts each year, because they are truly the forgotten warriors of motherhood.

However, with a growing amount of interest in this project, and after lots of reflection and prayer on the whole issue, I asked friends this year to double our efforts and also support women and children in The Welcome House.  This shelter is for homeless women and children and I am learning some wonderful details about their organization.  I was worried that asking for 30 items this year would be asking too much, but my friends and family totally delivered!  In fact, it was the biggest, most well-attended Swag Bag stuffing party I've ever had and almost all the women involved mentioned that we could go bigger next year!  So look out, friends...next year is going to rock your socks off!  

I'd like to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone involved in this project.  The organization is the easy part, but my friends and family did the hard part: the shopping, deal hunting, drop offs, Pay Pal donations, social media sharing, and showing up for the big party to make these bags as amazing as they could be!  I know that our shelter mamas are going to feel so special on Mother's Day!  I can't thank everyone enough.

I've said it once and I'll say it again: the only way - the BEST WAY - to celebrate Mother's Day is to lift other mamas up.  And we didn't just lift the spirits of some mamas in the shelters this year.  I could see the spirits of everyone involved become lifted and lighter as we worked together to serve. Thanks, friends!  Happy Mother's Day!

Here are some picture recaps from the whole project: 

Thirty bags filled up my living room!  Next year we may need to rent a hall!

I forgot to take a picture of all the goodies IN the bags, but trust me....these moms are getting hooked UP!

I thought it would be fun to let all the kids work on the the kid bags.

They did the best they could, but some Moms had to jump in and help get it all ready to go!


Writing out the cards and putting the finishing touches on the bags!

Ten ladies stuffed the bags, but countless more helped make it happen!


Van full of love!

Margot helped Mrs. Tracey load the gifts into the elevator at the WCC.  Albert tried to sabotage.

Sylvia tried to carry four bags down the street in Covington!  It was a tough job.
This project has brought many unexpected blessings, including a slew of new friends through social media, but the biggest one has been watching my kids' hearts grow through giving.  They know what shelters are for and they know it is our job to love the homeless and those leaving a dangerous situation.  In fact, Sylvia would tell you that she's trying to "love fearlessly," and I can tell you that I'm trying to do that, too.

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering at the Crisis Center or the Welcome House, check out their websites (linked above) or contact me for more information.  The work I've done with the Crisis Center has broken my heart wide open and I highly recommend giving your time, talents or treasures to this worthy organization!  I plan to work more closely with the Welcome House this year, so I'll keep everyone posted on what I learn.  Thanks again, friends!  Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Girls, It's Time

My precious babies,

Today was Inauguration Day and we officially have a new president.  I've been a little sad all day because he is not the candidate I voted for, but that's okay.  I spent the better part of my day bracing myself to hear his speech and steeling myself against the fear so that I could wear my best "public school teacher" face.  I did a great job!  My class watched the inauguration, we had a great discussion about respecting the office of The President, and I went on with the rest of my day appearing to be cool, calm and collected.  But...in my head I was composing all the things I want to say to you on a day like today.  

Here's what I want you to know.

His previous behavior is unacceptable.  It is unacceptable to objectify women, to suggest that it's okay to touch women without their permission or consent, or to brag about the ways he mistreats women.  That should be a deal breaker in a relationship.  I thought it would be a deal breaker in a president, but I was wrong.  Going forward, please know that this behavior is a DEAL BREAKER in any potential partner that you meet.  Who is in control of your body?  Say it with me - nobody but you! 

It is not okay to exclude people or to make people feel afraid.  Everyone you meet is special and beautiful and it's your job to respect them and welcome them into our classrooms, our churches and yes, even our homes.  Whether the person next to you is black or white, Christian or Muslim, gay or transgender or searching for the meaning of it all....your job is to smile and listen and find the good in their story.  Your job is to connect with them.  Connection is what you were built for.

Finally, I want you to know that there's a difference between complaining about something, fighting against something, and speaking up for something.  Let me break it down for you.  

Complaining gets you nowhere.  Complaining is a cancer that spreads from your lips to your heart to the hearts of those around you.  You will lose your friends, your job, your happiness...you will lose everything from complaining, so don't even start.  

Fighting against something is a bit trickier.  Many people in our country want to fight against the administration, and rightly so, in my opinion.  But sometimes fighting against something leaves you so unhappy and sad that you can't see the good in the people around you.  I'm all for fighting against injustice, bigotry, racism, misogyny....but remember that the people you're fighting against are just that - they are people.  They are not perfect.  If they aren't willing to listen to you and find some common ground, your fight will be long and hard and scary.  Which brings me to the best option...

Standing up FOR something, which is completely different.  When you take all of those things that scare you and make you mad, then you find the opposite of those things - you've found the stuff you need to stand up for.  When you make a list of the things you want instead of the things you don't want, you've found something worth standing up for.  

Tomorrow, your Mama stands up.  

And I'm bringing you with me.



Tomorrow, we march in the Cincinnati Women's March on Washington.  It's a sister march to the REALLY BIG march happening in Washington DC.  I'm not sure what to expect here in Cincinnati, but I know that if I don't go, I'll regret it.  I know that if I stay home during this important moment in history, I'll be sad that I missed out.  I'm not marching to complain.  I'm not even marching to fight against things, although I do believe there is plenty to fight against.  I'm marching to stand up for the things that are important: freedom, justice, equality, hope and love.  And I don't know anyone who can argue with that!

Today was a bummer, but tomorrow.................

We March.

It's time, girls.  #BeLoud  God gave you that mighty voice for a reason and now it's time to use it.  No matter what happens, you'll be glad you did.

Love always and forever,
Mama 

Note: The small boy would totally be joining us in the family hashtag, but he's still in diapers and he's considered a flight risk in any crowded situation.  After careful consideration, just the girls are going to the march.  His time will come.  You should hear the set of lungs on that kid.  All three of them, really.  This is what my kids were created to do.  #BeLoud