The thrill of hope....for EK

Friday, November 27, 2015

I've spent the day going up and down the stairs in our home taking the Fall decor up to the attic and bringing the Christmas decor down. And every step, every trip was full of prayer. 

As Thanksgiving comes to a close and you start making your list for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday shopping, I'm hoping you'll add at least one more item to your list. 

You see, I've been praying over 10 families....some of them I know and love. Some of them I call my dear friends. Some of them I don't know yet, but I will. 

Five years ago, I met a little girl who changed my life and my love for Christ and every Christmas after that. Ellie Kate was a joy. I don't even know how to describe her other than joy. She was anointed. A child of God whose smile could light up any room. Ellie was born with a rare, genetic disorder called NKH. I fell in love with her, got really mad at God, and then discovered a God who loves us unconditionally. 

Ellie's mom, Ryan, is the co-founder of a non-profit organization called Hope Link. It exists to provide support to families with children who have rare, serious, and often undiagnosed conditions. There is even a Hope Link Graduates group now for families who have lost children. We say it's not a group you ever want to be a part of, but it's a huge blessing to these mommas. 

Hope Link is a thriving and growing community. They reach out to other families in the area by delivering care baskets to local hospitals to be delivered to other families with kiddos who have rare conditions and long hospital stays. 

It is community in it's most raw and beautiful form. 

Several years ago, we felt a pull on our hearts to attempt to provide Christmas for several of our Hope Link families. We used our Scentsy team as a launching point to spread the word and pray for gifts. And that year, our dining room was filled with gifts. Donations of love for several of our Hope Link families. Every year since, we have prayed hard and dreamed of great provision for some of these amazing families. 

All our Hope Link families have to battle insurance issues and medicare and in-home nursing and long hospital stays. Unfortunately some of our families even end up at the hospital over Christmas. 

So Christmas is something we do to try to ease the stress of the holidays. It's one way we can bless some truly incredibly families. But it's honestly a little scary. 

We adopted 10 of our Hope Link families this year. We asked each of them to provide us with a simple wish list of 3 items they would like to have. Some of them have a hard time doing it. They fight me on it. They ask if there is another family who could be blessed by it instead of them. 

And I press them. They deserve to be loved like this. They deserve for their stories to be told. 

So this year, we are sponsoring 10 families, 47 people, and over 145 items on our final master wish list. And I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn't nervous. I am. It's a big task. 

But I'm also so crazy excited. I can't do this on my own. There's no doubt about that. And when we decide to do big and scary things, we give God the opportunity to show off in big ways. 

So I'm expectant. I'm asking the Lord to bless these families with more than just things this year. I'm trusting that He'll move in some of your hearts. That their stories will grab you and change you. 

So I'm asking this year for a simple task....150 people committed to buying a single gift for a Hope Link family. They're more than just gifts. They truly are pieces of hope delivered to these families at one of the hardest times of the year. Many of these families are facing another Christmas without one of their babies.  

My sweet friends the McLaughlins are one of those families. Ellie Kate went to be with Jesus on December 23rd of 2012. During a time when many of us can look past our own struggles and issues and focus on Christmas and family and Christ, it's hard for them to function without Ellie here. 

So I'm asking for big love this year. I'm asking for more. Give a gift and then ask what else you can do. Volunteer to deliver theses gifts to one of our OKC families. Volunteer to bring them a meal or coffee or just ask how you can help. There is so much more that we can do as the body of Christ to love well those around us who are hurting. In honor of Ellie, we are giving hope this Christmas. 

So how do you help? 

Help us give hope this year. Because there is no better gift than the thrill of hope. 

It changes you

Monday, November 23, 2015

It changes you. 

You don't go into it expecting it to change you, but if you do it right, and you don't quit and you keep going day after day, it changes you. 

I joined this little direct sales company called Scentsy 8 years ago this month. And while I'm completely realistic about the fact that I would have changed in 8 years with or without Scentsy, I don't think I would have changed like this. 

Direct sales changes people. 

That is the most beautiful thing about it. When you do it right, and you're not that annoying "direct sales lady" don't want to be her, let's be change. And you become better and stronger and more of who you're supposed to be. 

And it's beautiful and messy and perfectly imperfect. 

Honestly, there are days when I don't want to do it anymore because it's hard to be your own boss. It's hard to work for yourself. It's hard to do the same thing over and over again for years sometimes. And I've gone through periods when I was really down....where I just wanted to be a mom and nothing else. 

Really, those are selfish and half crazy periods of time. Now, 8 years later, I still want to do this, and I not only want to do it, but I want to do it well. We have been so incredibly blessed. This "business" has been both the high and low point of our marriage and our story. 

I thought that money would make us happy. That's the American dream right? Make the the the life....and all your dreams will come true. 


But that's not how it goes. It's really quite the opposite. 

We made the money. Paid off our debt. Found and bought the dream house....and lost each other. I remember sitting on the back porch of the house that I thought we would live in forever surrounded by everything I thought we could ever want....a boat, private school for our kids, great clothes, fancy trips, and so on....I remember sitting on that back porch thinking that I wasn't happy. Not in our marriage, not with our life, not with anything. I wasn't "happy." 

All the stuff wasn't doing it for me. 

I think that was the bottom. It wasn't our debt or the postpartum anxiety I went was the money. And it wasn't the lack of it. It was the abundance of it, that put me at the bottom. 

And I don't write all this to talk about how much money we made. Blah. We made good money. But it was the money that would bring us to our knees. 

I used to think that money would fix it all. 8 years later, I learned that only people can fix it all. 

And not a single person. We're all sinners who fail to our flesh far too many times a day. Not a person. But people. Its people who fix people. 

We moved out of that "dream home" just 3 years ago into a home that I never would have dreamed of. It's not perfect by any means. We don't have granite countertops and all our fixtures are brass, but it's a home with room for people. 

And when I want to be my introvert self, I have to remind myself that the walls of a house are only walls. Wood and plaster that will one day crumble. But if I fill the walls. If I fill my home with people, that will never crumble. Because people change people. 

Direct sales has a bad reputation sometimes I think. People don't understand it or think that other direct sales people are just too pushy. But the reason it works is because it's about people. 

This business has changed my marriage and my family and my friends, and it's changed me. Forever. 

Direct sales changes people because it's about people. 

You can't do this well without loving other people. You can't do this well without serving other people. You can't do this well without surrounding yourself with other people. 

As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, I am so incredibly grateful for the people that Scentsy has brought into my life. And even as I look forward to this week full of food and family and love, it is and will always be different because of Scentsy. 

My family is close. We are the best of friends. I'm exited about them being here this week. I'm overjoyed at the thought of them napping on the couch as we watch football and watch kids chasing chickens in the backyard. But I don't know if it would have felt like this without this thing called Scentsy that we get to do together. And tonight I'm grateful. Incredibly grateful for the people in this "little" direct sales company called Scentsy who have changed me. 

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