Friday

Big Plans for Our Refrigerator


I have a good life.

Everything is orderly (hello, Type A) and has a place--from things that fill a space to abstract emotions and concrete thoughts--there are appropriate compartments.

It's tidy and neat, just the way I like it.

But then I experienced Africa.

And nothing fits anymore.

Revamping your life is hard. It's uncomfortable.

Our family has decided to shave off the fluff, to remove some of the extra from our lives.

So, we taught our kids how to clean toilets. Confession: For the past 2 years, we've had our house cleaned twice a month. (It was the best 2 years). I've worked for my Dad's small business for several years, while at home with my kids. It's only a few hours a week, but I used a bit of the money to get my house cleaned. Totally justifiable since I work from home. But totally uncomfortable since I've returned from Africa.

You can judge me if you want to.

My daughter gagged a bit as I showed her the toilet cleaning technique. Further proof that this was good for all of us. "Why are we doing this again?" she asked. "We can sponsor more children each month if we clean it ourselves." (sidenote: Having your house cleaned twice a month doesn't mean you don't clean it yourselves. It only stayed "clean" for a precious 30 minutes!)

My children took this small change in stride. They didn't complain as we tackled room after room.

When we got to the kitchen, I carefully removed the pictures of our sponsored kids from the refrigerator, so I could clean it. (While I was in Africa, my hubby and kids moved the Compassion pictures from the box I stored them in, to the fridge.)


It was a change I loved and decided to keep.

"Mom?" my daughter said, as she wiped down the countertops. "Do you know what my dream is?"

I stopped and listened. I knew this was going to be big.

"To fill our refrigerator with pictures of sponsored kids."

I cried.

My kids get it. They really do.


(And then they told me what they wanted in their Easter baskets. So, they sort of get it.)

44 comments:

LJFredricks said...

Love the way you involve your kids. They will remember the practical things they did in order to sponser the kids! BTW you can let your daughter know that the people who clean the toilets for a living gag as well. (personal experience). It helps you stay humble!

JD said...

Kristen, I LOVE this post.....

My 8 year old daughter and I were talking the other day about what we can give up (live simply so they can simply live) to begin to sponsor one more child, and I told her I'd love to get rid of satelite TV (I haven't watched TV in about a year), and she gasped... then smirked, and said "if we pray for that, we'd better warn daddy, huh?" She said she'd be willing to give up her house.

Kids have huge hearts... if we raise them to keep it that way, it's a beautiful thing.

Sandi said...

I just started reading before your trip to Africa. It really had an effect on me. I used to be on the mission field full time about 15 yrs ago. I have gotten caught up in my western world. Forgotten those times, those people, those needs...how easily I am lured by confort and having much. Right when I started reading I found pictures from that time (we just moved) God's timing is always perfect.

Thanks for going, thanks for caring, thanks for changing. The impact on your kids, the compassion kids....heck, my own kids are far reaching. We sponser a child now because of following your trip. This is so much bigger then THAT family :o)

To Think is to Create said...

You are creating memories and shaping eternal souls, not just teaching them to clean toilets. It's people work.

And as God winnows you, your family, though it may hurt and be uncomfortable, you'll fit into that perfect space He has saved for you. It's the perfecting so we can be with Him.

xoxo

Lindsay @ Not2Us said...

This is awesome! :)

Paula from Amen Corners said...

It's a wonderful dream your daughter has and it should come as no surprise that your children "get it" from the inspiring example their parents are setting.
As for cleaning counters and toilets...it matters not the work you do but the fact that you take pride in how you do it.
You are showing your children that giving up a little can give a lot to those who have so little.

Mommypotamus said...

That is a precious moment. We want to teach our children to give early. We're thinking of taking them to a shelter on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day and let them give some food or clothing to people in need.

It's so important for our children to grow up developing their thoughts and beliefs around unselfish actions.

Thanks for sharing this with us!

Julie Stiles Mills said...

I love it when I get glimpses that I'm being a good steward of these precious gifts God gave me (and I mean my kids, not just our finances). Good job, Mom! (We sponsor three children in a Haiti orphanage.)

Angela @ HomegrownMom said...

Beautiful! My 6yo just asked me today why we couldn't skype one of the girls we sponsor... made me cry! I love your dream :) and we can all find something to give up!

Christina said...

This post was just beautiful! I love your blog. :)

Angie said...

It's amazing where we can find money to "shave" if we're doing God's work. We have our 3 sponsored children on our fridge, too.

LifeAtTheCircus.com said...

I have always loved your transparency... seeing the way God has been working in your heart and in the heart of your family, is truly awesome!

Jennifer said...

It sounds like your daughter is finding a nice balance between a desire to help others and a desire to enjoy the little things we have in life. What a sweet conversation! :)

La Dolce Vita said...

Thanks for the courage of your example. We are working on releasing things as well. As I have commented before, your blog has been like fule to me as I prepare for my own African experience.

Myra said...

Absolutely amazing. God is doing an amazing work.

And I agree. Your daughter is pretty much amazing. She's living against the "grain" and that's beautiful!

Stephanie said...

What a tender heart. That is what I pray for my children...a tender heart. I had to laugh at the gagging though. I don't blame her. :)

PJ Friedel said...

This post means more to me than any other. I used to have our house cleaned twice a month as well. My sweet husband heard Dr. Dobson years ago say there is nothing wrong with helping out your wife by getting a housekeeper. So he did.

But 6 months ago I started feeling like I needed to give it up. I kept thinking about all the money I "wasted" on paying someone to clean my house. All the money that went to keep my beautiful house clean, while others struggle to find food for the day. It was a definite dichotomy that I couldn't reconcile. So, I gave it up. And I feel great about it.

Sure my house isn't perfectly clean and I do stress out at times trying to keep it clean. But I've prayed and asked God to help me manage. I've given extra chores to my girls and they have been doing them without complaining. My husband has been unloading the dishwasher without being asked. :-) And I feel really good about the money I'm saving. We all have to sacrifice to give. This is just my sacrifice. Thanks Kristen, for confirming what I've been feeling and doing....

bridget {bake at 350} said...

You have no idea how many Tuesday I looked out my window and wanted to kidnap your housekeepers, and bring them to MY house!!! ;) Seriously.

Stephanie said...

Your post made me cry today! Your blog's actually been doing that to me for the past few weeks, but it's a good thing. I have been sharing your blog with my husband, and has been giving us the nudge we need to consider sponsoring a child of our own.

Stephanie said...

Your post made me cry today! Your blog's actually been doing that to me for the past few weeks, but it's a good thing. I have been sharing your blog with my husband, and has been giving us the nudge we need to consider sponsoring a child of our own.

Donna @ Way More Homemade said...

Not judging... I would totally have my house cleaned if I could.

You inspire me, Kristin. You really do.

Blessings,
Donna

CBernard said...

I want to do more - you are inspiring people everywhere and you are starting right at home which is so great. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

Roberta said...

When I was working full time I also justified a house cleaner...but after losing my job and downsizing two times in a year, now I'm just glad that I have a house to keep clean. Which is probably how you felt when you got back from Africa...heck have a toilet bowl to clean is much better than a hole in the ground anyday...right! Besides is does our kids good to clean and appreciate our homes as well. On another note...do you have one of those scrapbooking laminating machines? Cause you could turn those photos into actual magnets on the fridge and they'd be protected from stains as well. If not...email the photos and I'll make them for you and send them in the mail. Fondly, Roberta
rlphilbr13@aol.com

Malia said...

Oh, wow. Yeah, I had to choke back some tears. You're doing a really good thing.

Harper said...

That's wonderful!

Something that's been really humbling in my life was living without a fridge for a month last year. It could be a really good learning experience for your kids to learn how people who are less fortunate live! Americans refrigerate a lot of things unnecessarily (like eggs, for example), and most vegetables can go several days without refrigeration. Milk will depend on climate, but don't count on it lasting more than 48 hours, and meat needs to be eaten the same day it is bought.

It's certainly more labor intensive (and shopping intensive) than I was used to, but totally worth it for the education. And now I know how to handle it if I'm without electricity for a prolonged period.

I highly recommend it. But for a week. Not a month. ;)

Amanda said...

WOW! I was wondering if you were going to let R go. How did she take it? you are brave! Im just not there yet. But now your house will just be "clean" instead of "spotless" b/c I know your a clean freak woman! ;-) I've seen your house, I've envied your house! lol!!!

TDM Wendy said...

I LOVE CHILDREN. Things are so simple to them. That is an awesome, beautiful story. You are developing life changers, world impacters, Jesus imitators. Starting with yourself. I am not Type A, but I have many friends... I know what a big deal that is for you to post those pictures on your clean, uncluttered fridge. Good for you.

Grannyann said...

I am enjoying your adventures in Africa and your transformation upon coming home. Thanks

It Feels Like Chaos said...

This is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your Africa story and the aftermath. I blogged here: http://itfeelslikechaos.blogspot.com/2010/03/better-purpose-for-our-money.html a bit about our journey to sponsor another child and teach our children just why we are making frugal choices.

organizingchick1 said...

I love what you are doing with your family, and I pray that my kids will get it too when I return. Everyday I see how far they are from getting "it".

I do want to give you another point of view on hiring a house cleaner. I bet you were a blessing to your house cleaner while you had her. I run a home cleaning and organizing business and clean up to 5 houses a day to keep afloat. Each one is a blessing and helps keep my family just over America's poverty level. Someday I hope to not have to do so much hands on labor, but until that day comes I thank God for blessing me with the families who pay me to give them more time to enjoy doing the things they love instead of cleaning. It's nothing to be ashamed of (having a cleaner). I am sure you hired knowing that it would free up time for more important matters. But as with all "good" things, there comes a time to re-evaluate and God is now leading you in another direction. And your kids will benefit!

Bless you Kristen!

Joni said...

That's so beautiful Kristen! Tears, tears, tears ;o)

Thank you so much for your beautiful blog (I read it often - but forget to comment!).

xox

Paula said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog for the past few months. Your reports on Kenya and Compassion not only tug at heartstrings, but they also serve to alert each of us to a reality outside of ourselves and our own personal comforts. Thank you for your transparency and reports on how your trip has impacted your whole family. I think that is so awesome!

On a different note, we got our copy of Southwestern Today and saw you in it! My husband is a SAGU alumni ('78 graduate - a long time ago!) and we were excited to see you there! We lived in DeSoto up until 2002 and attended DeSoto Assembly of God for several years while Dr. Harden was pastor.

Also, to make the world even smaller, a friend of mine here in Oklahoma (I'm now an Okie) saw that I participated in WFMW on your blog and told me that her cousin (Bake at 350) is a neighbor of yours.

Isn't it crazy how connected we can sometimes find out we are to people we don't even know? lol

:o)

Keowdie said...

That's so cool! We just got our new sponsor packet today (I'll be blogging about it tomorrow afternoon) and we have been having a lot of conversations with our 7 year old. He was fascinated by the materials they sent us, and has decided to set aside some of his allowance to send for Michelle's birthday (which is two days before his own).

Tim said...

Great Post Kristen! I pray that my kids are beginning to "get it" as well. Hopefully we'll be able to go on a Compassion trip someday. I would love it and I think that they would learn so much.

Pati @ A Crafty Escape said...

Your daughter's comment just brought tears to my eyes... beautiful. You should be proud, you are doing a great job raising your kids!

Karen G said...

Your blogging about your trip nudged on our hearts, and god just kept nudging us. Thanks for the nudging. : ) We just sponsored our second compassion child.

jamie z said...

Wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

Seizing My Day said...

amazing how things change in the blink of an eye ~ so to speak ~ it will be good for all of us to see how Africa changed you... =)

Seizing My Day said...

amazing how things change in the blink of an eye ~ so to speak ~ it will be good for all of us to see how Africa changed you... =)

Sachin said...

www.onlineuniversalwork.com

Beki - TheRustedChain said...

That is awesome. Just awesome.

Carolina Mama said...

Proud of you and sharing.

Mommy, M.D. said...

Hi Kristen,
You don't know me, but I would love your opinion about something. I have an opportunity to go to Nairobi this summer; my husband has been asked to teach at Kenya Baptist Theological Seminary. I would love to take our family (three small children), but honestly, I'm scared. The state department has a travel warning that sounds horrifying; it mentions carjacking and kidnapping, all sorts of things. I don't know what sort of security you had on the compassion trip, and what we would need. Would it be completely crazy to walk around Nairobi with 3 blond children??? We aren't afraid to take risk for the sake of the gospel, but don't want to be stupid either. If you could provide any perspective on this it would help us out.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Thank you Lord.