13 Family Games Worth Playing, Plus a little History

13 Family Games Worth Playing, Plus a little History

The first family games date back to Egypt in 3100 BC. That’s right, BC “Before Christ”. It was the game of Senet that set the stage for board games. Today stores are filled with an overwhelming display of games. Let me save you some time and money, the best place to find amazing board games is in your parent’s closet. And secondly, the trick to making family games fun is to find the right game the whole family can enjoy, not just an 8-year-old.

13 family games worth playing

I’ve got a list of 13 family games that are worth the time and money. Believe me, we have one child, so when it comes to games, we parents want to like it too. However, I wouldn’t advise ‘borrowing’ your parent’s games, those games and the memories they hold are theirs, so keep the games in their closet. It’s time to get your own games and create tattered box memories with them.  

What makes a game fun?

First of all, I’m not talking about games about poop or getting whip cream in my face. The toy companies certainly don’t make games like they used to. The family games that make the top of the pile are games that require skill, cognitive skills, and where we’ll learn something like strategy. They are games with a little history.

With that said, the games listed below are for ages 8+ for the most part. Keep Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and Hi Ho Cherry-O for your younger crowd. In fact, those are the best choices anyway for that age range.

The 13 best family games

If your game closet is looking empty, let me remind you of the top 13 picks for family games. Some of these games you might have played as a kid and forgot about them, I sure did. Note: these games are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Battleship (2-player)

Battleship involves strategy, it also involves reading your player. Reading your player in a poker kind of way, did they’re eye-brows go up when you got close to their aircraft carrier? Keep your eyes peeled. You can get it on Amazon.

History: Battleship goes back to World War I by using a pencil and paper to play the game. In 1967 Milton Bradley came out with the plastic board version.

Catan
click for the price

2. Catan

I personally have not played Catan yet! But I will be getting it soon. This game has rave reviews. It’s about developing your own civilizations. This brings you back in history a bit. I hear it’s easy to learn how to play, but difficult to master. I’m getting this one! Check it out on Amazon.

History: Catan was created in 1995 in Germany.

3. Chess (2-player)

This too gets lost in the game pile. We recently taught our son the game of Chess and he beats me every time! Chess requires strategy and getting to know your opponent. Again, reading the player and getting in their head to figure their next move is key.

History: Chess goes back to close to 1500 years! Whoa. It originated in northern India. For more info check out Wikipedia.org.

The game of clue

4. Clue

This game never gets old. Clue is best played with more than two people. Put some mystery in your game night with Clue. Amazon price.

History: This game goes back to the UK air raids of World War II in 1943. When Anthony Pratt and his wife were stuck inside during the nightly air-raids they invented this game.

5. Connect Four (2-player)

I love Connect Four. My son and I have an ongoing Connect Four title. Like the WWE title, ours is Connect Four. This game is all about strategy. We play the best of three games. History: It’s been around since 1974.

6. Gin Rummy (cards, 2-player)

A classic card game that never gets old. You can find how to play here. Plus many other games at Bicycle. History: This dates back to 1909.

7. Monopoly

I don’t think I need to say much about this iconic game. Monopoly and I have a love/hate relationship. If you want to play a game for hours or even days, this is it! However, learning about strategy and money radiates from this game. Head to Amazon to get a fresh game.

History: The original name of Monopoly was The Landlord’s Game. It was designed by Elizabeth Magie in 1902 and patented in 1904.

8. Operation

Who doesn’t like a little zap and lights? Operation is as close to blood and guts you’re going to get in my family games list. It takes about 15 minutes to play. If you have shaky hands, this is not your game. I suggest using your reading glasses for this one. History: This game has been in circulation since 1964.

9. Pay Day

Move over Monopoly, yes I did just say that. Pay Day has become one of our family favorites. Unlike land in Monopoly, you learn about money, taking risks, debt, and did I mention it’s a quicker game? You can play as many months as you’d like. History: It was first created in 1974.  Yep, Amazon has it.

10. Jenga

Jenga is like a cross between a cardhouse and pick-up sticks…sort of. Any age can play this game. And it certainly comes in all sizes. It’s a great game to break the ice. History: created by Leslie Scott in the early 1970’s. Jenga means “to build” in Swahili.

Family Game Night

My family game night memories

Family game night is a vivid memory for me. My dad wanted to take one night a week to hold a family game night. At first, when my sisters and I were young we got into it, but as we got older the more we grumbled. I remember a time when my dad announced that it was Family game night and we all rolled our eyes and moaned. His stern response was, “You’re going to play a game and you’re going to have fun!” Ha ha ha! I’ve used that response in my family. But it’s those game nights that formed a special yet goofy bond between our family…even when we didn’t want to play, we did still have fun.

click for price

11. Skip-bo (cards)

We dug Skip-bo out recently. In fact, I forgot how to play and had to have one of my son’s buddies re-teach me. Since then, we have been playing almost every night. Yes, it’s true. We play a quick 10 card stack of Skipbo. I’m happy to say I beat them all last night with my secret strategy!

History: Skip-bo first came alive in 1967 thanks to Minnie Hazel “Skip” Bowman.

click for price

12. Ticket to Ride

Once again, I have not played Ticket to Ride but looks awesome. It involves a train adventure in which players collect and play matching cards to claim railway routes through the United States. This game has gotten awards. The youngest game on the list came into being in 2003. Find it on Amazon.

13. Yahtzee

This is a great game of chance. If you don’t mind a little noise and love strategy, Yahtzee is fun for everyone. I’ve even seen it in giant size for camping!

History: The history of this game is a bit confusing. Some say it dates back to 1938. Others say it was essentially invented on a yacht, hence, “Yahtzee” by a wealthy Canadian couple.  

Boils down to memories

Okay, that does it for my brief review of family games. You might have played these games at your home when you were growing up. I hope I took you back to some great memories. But now it’s time to make amazing family game memories with your kids. Or, maybe you have invented a new game during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020!

Let’s turn off Disney+ and Netflix, gather your troops, and make it a game night! To get any of the games listed above, simply click on the links. The links will take you to Amazon.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13 yrs. old)

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13 yrs. old)

Scavenger hunt to the rescue. Do your kids have a lot of time on their hands? Are they feeling dumpy and bored? I have a fun low-cost solution for you! My scavenger hunt takes at least three hours to complete. Can you hear the angels sing? LOL! This adventure keeps the kids busy and creates a smile on their faces.

Scavenger Hunt
Download it today! Click the picture or head to Freebies.

Not your typical scavenger hunt!

This hunt is like no other. First off, it’s not just a list of things to find. It involves reading, drawing, exercise, strategy, skill, teamwork, creativity, and cognitive thinking.  Seriously the kids loved it. They were outside and having fun. And strangely they got along! As a parent, it was gratifying to watch how much joy was happening in the kids. A memory for sure!

Another fun difference from other scavenger hunts is that it tells a little story. The story starts out with Larry who is lost and needs to find his way home. He has to go through the first three challenges to unlock his map, materials, and list. Then the rest of the challenges help him find his way home. He gets hungry on the way, wants to find presents to bring home, and needs to spend the night. And the most exciting part of all is that he needs to create a flying vessel to get home!

Who is Larry?

Larry is actually one of my son’s stuffed animals. I just grabbed a small one that would be suitable for flight. You can use an egg…this would be interesting…or a water balloon for that matter, or a cardboard cutout. Essentially, Larry can be anything you want. However, with the stuffed animal, I found it made the hunt more personal-able and “real”. They really had fun with it.

Who is this scavenger hunt for?

This challenge is for 8 – 13-year-olds. Younger kids can be helpers; some of the challenges I found to be difficult for kids younger than 8 years old. But that is up to you. You could make some adjustments to cater to younger kids. This is also fun for families.

Scavenger Hunt Challenge
Download it today! Head to Freebies.

Materials and Set-up

As for materials, use items you already have in-house. No need to run to the store. This is what can make the scavenger hunt more challenging…after all it is a scavenger hunt! For instance, for Larry’s flying vessel I just found some yarn, balloons, a plastic cup, a piece of fabric, foil, and threw in some other things from my junk drawer. Who knows what kids will come up with!

All you need to do is draw a map and set-up the course. This usually takes about 30-minutes. I personally had a lot of fun doing this. It brought me back to my childhood fun. To make it more interesting, I allowed a phone to be present for the kids to shoot video and for taking pictures. They enjoyed this part especially making the trick shot video. I simply downloaded an app called Clips. My son actually had to show me how to work it, in other words, it’s easy to figure out.

Scavenger hunt example

Here’s a video summary of this scavenger hunt we did the other day:

Larry is waiting for you!

Ready to have some fun and watch your kiddos have a blast? To download and print Larry’s Scavenger Hunt Challenge head over to Freebies. OH! One last thing, it’s actually a lot of fun as a family to do too! Not to mention at a campground when on vacation. Enjoy!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Wellness in Kids & Us

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Wellness in Kids & Us

5 valuable ways to manage mental wellness in kids

My mental wellness plan started early in my years. I learned at a young age how to develop a relationship with nature. It’s not until later in life I realized how important that relationship was going to be. I’m sure you’re thinking ‘relationship with nature? That sounds weird, but what we’re addressing here is mental health and how to manage it. And nature was my #1 go-to, I also have four other incredible ways to tame the lion within ourselves and kiddos.

The beach

My toes were planted in wet sand. My arms stretched out as wind combed through my pigtails. “Let’s give them a show,” I said. I cleared my throat, threw up my hands, and orchestrated the waves as they crashed and rippled onto the beach. My mind was free, I had no stress, I played and used my creativity; I was happy. It was just me and the beach. No toys. No electronics. In fact, no one else was by me. It was a simple setting, yet a powerful one for my mental wellbeing.

The brain

National Geographic wrote, “Nature provides us essentials like clean water, food, medicines, even recreational retreats… it also helps regulate our weather and climate. But these systems are extremely fragile…we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements.” We didn’t need National Geographic to tell us this. However, isn’t that statement similar to our mental health? Our brains need clean water, good food, and recreational escapes to help normalize our well-being. If we don’t get these things, our minds, too, are fragile and will break.

Mental health issues shouldn’t be shrugged under the rug. We all have them! Sorry to break that news to you, but we do have our own mental poo; whether it’s addictions (large or small), obsessive-compulsive disorders, learning disabilities, anxiety, anger, hypochondria, social challenges, depression, PTSD, or what have you; we all have a touch of something, even your kids do too. Perfectionism doesn’t exist in this world. Now, don’t you feel better you’re not alone?

What can we do about it?

You’d think that we can either fix it or we can try to ignore it. But neither way works very well. What we need to do is manage it. Fixing it 100% doesn’t exist, it’s bound to surface again someday, and ignoring it is going to lead to other problems. Who needs more problems? Yet managing it helps us understand our triggers and how to handle them.

My mental issue

For me, I’m mad at my body. I know that sounds silly, but my body has caused me a lot of grief in my life, from autoimmune hepatitis, hyperemesis gravidarum, bulging disc, miscarriage, colitis, torn ligaments, and nerve damage to name a few. These all have put a mental toll on me. It’s one thing if these ailments are short-lived, but they weren’t and are not. They go on and on. Anyone hear me out there? Some people just go with the flow, and boy, I admire those people. I honestly don’t know how they do it, hence, my mental issue. I’m just mad that my body can’t figure out balance and I eat well and exercise. However, what I do know is that I’m driven to figure it out; that’s why you’ll see posts about health stuff every so often at Simplify Firefly.

Maybe this will help you understand my madness, my dream as a kid was to have optimum health. Weird dream for a kid, but hey, I’m weird. At a young age, I wanted to be super healthy, strong, and run an Iron Man. I’ve been trying to work towards this since 1982 when I was doing Disney Mousercise in my driveway…basically aerobics to Disney tunes, and yes on a Boom box, I had the cassette version. But even at a young age, it was one blow after another, then another. However, I always had hope that I’d learn something new. The Lord gave me that light and helped me through and through. Oh, I love Him so much.

Acceptance

It has taken me years to accept my mental issue, but it’s clear as day to me as I look back on life and I can see how this all came to be. Believe me; my madness wasn’t helping my health at all. It was probably making it worse. A vicious cycle it was and still is if I ignore my mental state.

With that said, this is a journey friend. I still struggle with management today, but I’m determined to understand my root cause, which I know I’m getting closer to. I think that’s why I share so much because maybe someone has gone through the same kind of thing and we can help each other. What do you have to lose?

What to do.

Probably the biggest step in helping ourselves and our children with mental health management is to digest that we have something going on. Upon discovery, many may experience anger at first, but others will feel relief that they finally figured a piece of the puzzle out. Does that make sense? All in all, when we can embrace it and understand it, we’ll have a better chance of managing it and living that amazing life we always envisioned. I may not run an Iron Man, but I’ll know a heck of a lot more about how my body works and why it does what it does.

Anger Management 101

I could end on that, but it’s important to reiterate that a ‘lack of understanding’ usually gets us upset in the first place. Why? Because we don’t understand! That’s why fights happen and judgments lash. We don’t know why people act the way they do, because we don’t live in their shoes. For all we know they could be sick, have a chronic illness, be abused, have social issues, or on drugs. And when we don’t know how to manage those things, a mess of emotions implodes and then explodes on others.

click for details

When we have an anger about something, we usually want to do something about it. I’m not talking about anger towards a person when you want to lash out at them for saying something stupid, that’s a different post. The anger I’m referring to is about how we react to either ourselves or a cause that affects other people. Some call it anger, others call is passion. You can take it a step further and call it uniqueness. There is this great book by Matthew Barnett, “The Cause Within You”. I highly recommend this book to not only inspire your own life but to motivate how to help others. Super good!

Okay, so what do we do now?

I’d have to say the majority of people try to ignore their mental state or try to numb it with something else like drugs, alcohol, shopping, or eating. Another route to managing our mindfulness includes prescription drugs and/or counseling. These are helpful ways if used correctly, but they can be pricy and scary for that matter. And what about the kids? As parents, we can teach our kids how to manage our ‘uniqueness’ in less complicated ways, of course depending on the severity.

*Disclaimer: For the record, I am not a therapist, nor am I trying to be one. These are things I have personally learned and wanted to share them with you. Please consult your physician before trying anything new, especially if you or your child is at risk of hurting themselves.*  

5 valuable and creative ways to help

Here are some creative ways to help you and your family manage our mental uniqueness.

1. Get outside

Remember that relationship with nature I started talking about? The National Academy of Sciences performed a study that shows a simple 90-minute walk in nature {a place with trees} decreases negative thinking about oneself. Taking a walk in an urban area like a city or industrial park has zero effect. This study reveals that there is a “…pathway by which nature experiences may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health…”

I don’t have 90 minutes to take a walk but I do have 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes are gold to me. My ideal walking area is to be around trees. For you, it might be the beach, the park, field, or mountains.

click for details

The University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’,” which is largely due to screen time… Push your kids outside. Show them how to get started with orchestrating the waves, climbing trees, building a fort out of sticks or snow. My favorite is to grab a camera (a camera separate from a phone) and ask for certain pictures to be taken. We had gotten one for our son and he absolutely loved it! He still goes back and looks at his pictures.

If nature goes away; so will our sanity.

2. Head to your hobby

A hobby can do loads for you. It keeps your hands busy and your mind focuses on being creative and being you! Kids love this! I wrote a post on hobbies with a list of different ones to try, check’r out!

3. Do something kind for your body.

Our bodies take most of the brunt from stress. As much as my body and mind are not getting along, I’m still kind to it. When you feel good, you are kinder to yourself and others around you. Do you need a run, a yoga session, a massage, a hot bath, a cup of tea on the couch? Do something that makes you feel better that is good and pure. This teaches kids how to pamper themselves when pampering is needed.

4. Eat foods for your brain

Food matters! Your brain needs fats, the good fats. And getting the clean kind in your body helps your body and brain fight off free-radicals…those are the guys that destroy the good stuff. Here is a post about Omega Oils that will help you out. And don’t forget the avocados.

5. Journal

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I know this sounds like old news, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Journaling works. When our thoughts are written down on paper, more so than typed, it’s like you’ve given permission to let the hurt get out of you. Write about your journey and what you’re trying to do to help. Put down what is working and what is definitely not working! Put in what you’re grateful for too. Not all journaling needs to be venting, having a flip side to things to healthy. Journaling is a great exercise to help kids express their emotions yet feel like they have some privacy. Plus it’s fun to shop for their very own journal. Another idea is to check out this workbook specifically for anger management. It will you guys understand each other.

For more ideas, this post from Mental Health America is a good one!

Taking little steps here and there are strides for our health both body and especially mind. Show your kids how to do it. You’ll be helping yourself and teaching your family. Win-Win!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

The Proven, No-Fail Christmas Gift for Kids.

The Proven, No-Fail Christmas Gift for Kids.

The proven no-fail Christmas gift for kids

Making Christmas special is what most parents aim for with their kids. What I’m about to share is something I wished I had learned years ago with my son. It’s the proven, no-fail Christmas gift that is sure to make every Christmas special.

Presents!

Christmas is a time of giving and receiving. We all know this. And the stores love this! I’ve been sucked into Black Friday, store sales, and crowds; anxiety took residency and what was supposed to be fun turned into frustration. In fact, this year I thought I’d avoid crowds and shop online. It was convenient to shop while eating pancakes, but I soon realized I fell prey to the timed sales and limited deals.

My body temperature increased as the minutes slipped away and my mind swirled not being able to make a decision. Before I knew it I was sweating through my comfy pajamas! What the heck was happening to me? My husband even said, “They got ya!” He got that right. The shopping hoopla had its grip on me. The kick-in-the-pants is that it the time spent got me NOWHERE. In fact, I had taken that whole morning with my face in the computer missing out on hanging with my son and walking our dog. And you know what? I ended up returning half the stuff when they arrived on my doorstep.

Feel the Love.

Don’t me get wrong, gifts are fun to give. Gifting is, in fact, some people’s love language. On a side note, in case you didn’t know, there are five defined love languages and each is unique on its own. If you don’t know your love language or the language of your family members, I highly recommend Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages.” Click on the picture below for more details.

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Picking out the ‘perfect’ toy for your child, something that is unexpected and so exciting is where the magic happens…at least in the moment of buying, wrapping, hiding and then opening. But then what?

Let me put this way, in five years is your child going to remember that toy she played with for maybe four weeks? Is she going to even remember who gave it to her? In some cases, she might. But in most cases, she won’t. The real magic isn’t a tangible item, it’s something more valuable.  

family christmas gift

An Ultimate Christmas Story

Let me tell you a story I heard years ago that I wished I absorbed better. Here’s my second chance. I hope you enjoy it.

It was in the early evening of December 20th. A father and his young son were planning a trip to the city. They had a checklist of all the things they wanted to see and do; the big Christmas tree, the street decorations, ice staking at the city center, Christmas cookies at Carla’s Bakery, hot chocolate at the “Reindeer Barn”, and most of all the toy store where the son got to pick out his present. 

The dad was excited to show his son all the sites and to buy him the perfect present at the store. And the son, well, he just couldn’t wait to get to the toy store. He’d say, “Dad let’s do the store first!” The father would reply, “No. We don’t want to carry the gift around all night.” Yet the son persisted throughout the day leading up to the downtown venture. “Dad, I can carry it. I promise I’ll be careful.” We all know the real answer to that, not happening fella. The dad was starting to get a little annoyed that his son only wanted to go to the store, but he reminded himself that he was just a being a kid.

Uh-Oh! Or Not So?

After brushing a fresh blanket of snow off the car, they hopped in their seats and performed their ‘system checks’. “Hat?” the father asked, “Check” replied the son. “Gloves?” “Check”. “Phone?” “Check”. “Wallet?” “Check”. All systems were a go. The key went into the ignition, the dad’s grip got stronger, and turned key upward. Nothing happened. He tried again, but this time he pushed on the gas just to see. Complete quietness. Not even a click. The dad took in a big breath, looked at the son, exhaled and said, “Looks like we need a new plan.”

The son thought the trip was off, no toy store, no nothing. His eyes started to sting and his throat got tight. They headed back inside the house, the son sat on the couch and flipped channels. After about five minutes the dad looked at his son and said, “Grab your boots, we’re not going to let a broken-down car stop us!” They put on their hats, gloves, and coats and started to walk down the sidewalk. The son asked, “Are we going to walk there? It’s so far!” His dad said, “Nope, we’re going to ride the city bus. We’re just walking to the bus stop.”

The Ride.

When the father and son got on the bus, they sat in the middle side by side. The bus driver announced they were headed to the heart of the city, and off they went. During the ride, the son and father played “I spy”, they talked about the silly dog sitting in the seat across the aisle, they looked at Christmas lights on buildings and homes they passed, they played a game of “Would You Rather”, and lots of giggles where shared.  

They made it to the city and saw the beautiful tree. Lights alone the sidewalk sparkled. They ate Christmas cookies and drank hot chocolate. Everything on the list was being checked off. The last stop before heading home was the infamous toy store. The son walked through the doors and his eyes got wide. They spent at least an hour in the store before the son carefully picked out his present. The father with a full heart bought him the gift and they walked back to the bus stop.  

On the bus ride home the son asked, “Would you rather ride Rudolph or be Rudolph? Would you rather drink one cup of hot chocolate every day for a year or eat 10 candy canes in an hour?” When they arrived at their final stop, they wished the bus driver a Merry Christmas and started to walk home. As the son and father held hands, the dad asks his son, “What were your top three favorite things of the whole night?” The son replied, “Playing ‘Would You Rather’, laughing, and the best of the best was riding the bus with my dad.”

Christmas Love.

This melts my heart. The son didn’t mention the toy; he didn’t mention cookies or hot chocolate. His son said that it was the time his dad spent with him that was the most special.  The dad didn’t see that coming. My friends, ‘time’ is the real magic. It’s a gift that will last a lot longer than a plastic toy or video game for that matter.  

Merry Christmas from Do More Than Exist. May you enjoy many “bus ride” moments this Holiday season.

By Christy Copyright © 2019 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved. 

The Meaning of Christmas & Your Identity. Don’t Miss This!

The Meaning of Christmas & Your Identity. Don’t Miss This!

Are you looking to have an awesome Christmas this year? A Christmas that will have meaning? I know I am. This past month I researched Christmas, that’s kind of funny to say. But I sought out answers to this holiday. After I put some of these pieces together, I was reminded of how to make this holiday a meaningful one. And who knew it has to do with identity…the meaning of part of our existence? Before we get to that let’s have a short history lesson.

christmas gift with pinecone

What’s up with ‘Merry Christmas’?

Tis the season to be Merry, fa la la la laaa, la la la laaaa! In 1843 it was Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” that introduced the word ‘Merry’ for “Merry Christmas”. Did you know that? I didn’t. The dictionary defines Merry as cheerful and lively. Occasionally you’ll hear “Happy Christmas”, but “Merry” fits the bill. The word “Christmas” originated from “Christ’s Mass” which literally means a group of many people gathering to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. In fact, this celebration started in 313 AD, three centuries after Jesus’s crucifixion. Interesting isn’t it?

Let’s talk about gifts. 

For most people, Christmas’s meaning means presents. How did gift giving come into play on Christmas? Well, it’s not a black and white answer:

1– It started in Europe as a pagan custom around Winter Solstice, a celebration to mark the shortest day of the year. It falls in the range of December 20th-23rd each year. At this time ancient Rome would celebrate this day by gift-giving.

2– Around 336 AD December 25th was established as Jesus’s birthday in which the solstice gift-giving tradition leaked into the Christian holiday. Some believe that the gift giving started with the three Magi (wise men) giving gifts to baby Jesus.

3– On top of that, Santa Claus was introduced from a fourth-century Greek bishop who was a gift giver, Saint Nicholas. His legacy gradually blended into the Christmas celebration.

So “Merry Christmas” is a combination of things, but one thing is for sure, “Christ’s Mass” has stood the test of time. Jesus came to save us from our sins so we would have the opportunity to have life after death. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”, says Jesus. And in Mark 10:45 Jesus also says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

How meaning comes into play

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A few years ago I read Matthew Barnett’s book The Cause Within You. He talks about his experience of listening and obeying God’s cause that He placed in his heart. Based in LA, he tells great stories about how people off the street, the homeless, the drug dealers and prostitutes have completely turned their life around by focusing on Jesus and the cause God placed in their hearts. How serving others, rather than serving themselves and their addictions has changed their life.

He says, “As soon as you start thinking about the needs and burdens of others, and what you can do to alleviate them, or how you can bless and build up others, you begin to establish a new identity for yourself – your true identity. “ (page 38) This brings on meaning! Meaning for living.

Think about that for a minute. Christmas is the most popular time of year to give; not just presents. Just look at the Christmas movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, or even Die Hard. Yes, I just referenced Elf and Die Hard in the same sentence. But hear me out, they all have something in common.

Do what now?

Let me ask you this, what do you think would be a powerful way to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year? Sure we can give tangible gifts or donate money to a cause, those are fantastic ideas! But what about your time? Your precious time? What about sacrificing a slice of your time and put your talents to work to take the burden off someone else? What about using your strength to help a neighbor out with a project? What about turning on your personality to lift someone up with a little encouragement? You might say, “But I do that already Christy” But do you do it with Jesus in mind? Do you consciously say, “Hey Jesus, let’s bless someone today! Use me. Work through me. Let’s do this!”?

I love this statement from Rick Warren, “What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived.” In the Bible, 1 Peter 4 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” But here’s a bonus in all this. If you think serving is just for the person being served, you’re missing it.

christmas scrabble

What does serving do for you? It produces being Merry. It gives you meaning.

  • It gives significance. Putting our talents to work to help someone else is meaningful for us. It warms the cockles of God’s heart. And generates joy in your own.
  • It produces gratitude both for the servant and the person being served.
  • It brings us back to earth. Serving helps take the focus off what’s going on inside us, to what’s going on around us. This helps us put our own lives in perspective.

Here are a few tips that have worked for me on serving others:

  • The Golden Rule. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • Vision yourself helping.
  • Pray for opportunities in which you can help someone out.

I have an experiment for you to try this month to gain more meaning in this holiday. I bet you know what it is. Serve with the mindset as giving a gift to Jesus; use your time, talents, and strength to give back to Him. Not sure where to serve? Don’t make this complicated. Open your eyes and pay attention to your surroundings. He’ll tell you.

One more thing, I encourage you to experience a “Christ’s Mass” and attend a Christmas Eve service at church this year.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved.

4 Fixes of the Volunteering Woes. I love #3.

4 Fixes of the Volunteering Woes. I love #3.

three musketeers

Have you caught yourself saying, “Oh, someone else will do it.”? We all know volunteering is essential for our charities, religious organizations, pancake breakfasts, environmental cleanups, and schools to name a few. And we all know we SHOULD volunteer for something, right? But why at times (not all the time) do we see volunteering as a daunting task?

The Stage:

Let’s say you’re at…a magic show. The stage backdrop is black, the fog machine creates mystery, the magician stands with a power pose and says, “I need a volunteer!” Eyebrows raise. Hands pop up. Voices chirp, ‘pick me, pick me’!

Let’s say you’re at…church. The stage backdrop is black, the fog machine softens the ambiance, the Pastor stands with a power pose and says, “I need volunteers”. No one moves, some eyeballs roll, and then…there’s a cough.

A little different isn’t it? Many people use the excuse of time. “I don’t have time”. I’ve used it, I’m guilty. But is that really the case? I wish it was…but if there’s something you REALLY want to do, you’ll make time for it. So what gives? Let’s start with the logical answer: Interest. If you’re not attracted to the task at hand; you’re not going to raise your hand for it.

Fix #1: Just say ‘No’?

My last blog post was about saying ‘No’. Well, friends, this is when you can practice it. Say what? I’m not encouraging you to NOT volunteer for stuff; I’m cheering you on to volunteer for stuff you ENJOY. Let me explain: if you don’t like the outdoors, then don’t volunteer to plant trees. If you aren’t a toddler-time kind of person, then don’t volunteer in the kid’s wing. If you hate the smell of pancakes, then don’t volunteer at the pancake breakfast. It’s okay! They don’t want you there. No one likes a grumpy volunteer or worse yet to hear how much you hated it.

When you enjoy a task at hand you do a better job, you have fun, and you make in difference in more ways than one. Now that’s rocket science, people. Having an interest in what you’re giving your time and attention to creates joy. BUT WAIT, there’s an exception to this ‘no’ thing: if you don’t know if you’ll like it, then totally do it! What a great way to test it out.

Fix #2: Getting there

Do you ever say, ‘when I’m there, I’m good”? I have had dozens of experiences where I didn’t want to go but was grateful after I got there. But even when I’m volunteering for something I know I’ll enjoy, I STILL have to make an effort to hurdle the couch, forgo the beach, and ignore the ‘to-do’ list. How to fix this obstacle? Think about the end first. Ask yourself, “How am I going to feel when I’m done?” Then focus on that.

Another way to look at it is to put yourself in the receiver’s shoes and ask yourself if you were them, how would you want to be treated? Would you like someone to not help you because they were into their Netflix series?

Fix #3: But I’ll be all alone…

I have a hard time pampering this one because I’m an advocate for embarking on the unknown without knowing anyone. Why? Because you learn a tremendous amount about your character when alone. Questions like ‘who am I?’ and ‘who do I want to become?’ get an opportunity to plant a seed in you. It’s like searching for a piece to a puzzle. You know the piece is somewhere on the table; the hard part is finding it. But when you do find it, a small flutter happens and you get to see a little bit more of the big picture. So here it goes friends, “Suck it up and go.” Who cares if you go solo, there are people there in the same boat.

To help you out here are some websites to get your juices flowing about volunteering. http://www.volunteermatch.org/about/ or this one http://www.500volunteers.com/

Fix #4: Go in with the right attitude

Have fun. Remember who you’re working for, the Big Man upstairs. Help with a smile on your face. Nothing is worse than seeing someone help you in disgust. How does that make you feel when a grouchy person is helping you? I just wanted to remind you of that.

Also, this is super important. Go in without expecting a lot in return, you may not even get a thank you, just prepare yourself for that. They are grateful, they might not know how to show it or say it.

puzzled about volunteering

“Okay Christy, geesh, I get it; so why is it so important to volunteer?”

There are a number of reasons with a bunch of explanations behind them, let’s check some out:

  • Assist those who need it…the less fortunate, the disabled, the elderly, the young.
  • Create connections. Network.
  • Experience wellness. Studies have shown that volunteering helps boost self-confidence, personal satisfaction, and even help combat anxiety.
  • Career enhancement. Want to try a new career path before jumping headfirst? Volunteering gives you a taste without any waste. It’s a way to get your foot in the door.

Everyone deserves a smile, a thank you, and a helping hand. Seeing appreciation from the faces of the people I help is priceless and brings wealth to my heart. Be a success, challenge yourself to help one person in the next seven days.

To sum all this up, without volunteers we DO get divided, we do fall. Think about those events at church, school, or the community center. It’s the volunteers who are the real Musketeers. Next time you hear the word ‘volunteer’, stay tuned to your instincts and pay attention to what you enjoy. Say ‘no’ when you need to and ‘yes’ when you want to. You’ll make an impact on not only the people you’re serving, but on the bigger picture.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

3 Steps to Preserve Our Space

3 Steps to Preserve Our Space

lost in space ad

Okay, so right now on Netflix, my family and I are watching the remake of the 1965 TV series “Lost in Space”. It’s about the Robinson family who goes on a space adventure to find a better planet to live on…earth is dying. Well, they crash on this alien planet, which is incredibly beautiful but has a whole bunch of mess with it. To top it off they have ridiculously dishonest “Dr. Smith” and a bipolar robot, named “Robot”. Will Robinson, the youngest in the Robinson family becomes friends with Robot. Robot protects Will and warns him if danger is near. This is where we hear the infamous, “Danger Will Robinson”. The crew battles crazy challenges that are stupidly entertaining and unrealistic, but I love to watch them play the game of survival. Each character has their own distinct nature that anyone can relate to. And now Netflix just came out with Season 2, which is just as good as Season 1. I’m addicted to this show! Go watch it.

Space Invaders

This post isn’t about a Lost In Space review, although I could go on and on about it. Instead, I wanted to bring your attention to a different kind of space, physical space. Space in our homes, our backyards, and our overall planet. Our space is getting invaded by…ourselves. If there is space, we want to fill it. This is true with our stomachs, our homes, our phones, Pinterest page, and our closets. I could go onto say that space affects our wallets, but that’s a different post. When we manage our space, let’s say the kitchen cupboard, we can see our options easily and we’re less stressed because it’s organized. But what if we went beyond the cupboard and into our backyards. I know that’s pretty drastic, but hand with me.

Earth and survival go hand in hand. Everything we need to survive is outdoors; the sun, trees, plants, clean air, water, resources, and beauty to entertain. Our Heavenly Father created us to live on earth, but let’s face it, we are invading it and destroying the power pellets to make it work properly. In “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren he expresses, “You were created to add to life on earth, not just take from it”.  I think he meant this in a purposeful way, but you can also look at this with a physical sense.

“GPGP” what?

I recently heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). The pristine Pacific Ocean that is the lifeblood to our planet is slowly and steadily being filled with garbage. Right now the patch has more than doubled the size of Texas! Whoa, say what? The Pacific Ocean isn’t in my backyard, but it’s a crucial part of why and how our environment works.

Let me take the mic for a minute

I understand everyone is not into nature, but you’re still a human who drinks water, breathes air, and who likes to go to the beach for vacation. Our existence impacts the earth’s existence, and if the earth dies, so do we.

Most of us have taken initiatives to do our part to help preserve and protect our backyards. Thank you! But some of us just don’t get it, or frankly, we don’t care. For instance, we have big trash bins but no recyclable bin, we use chemicals on our grass, and we keep the car running while sitting in a parking lot. There is a lot to be said about comfort vs character. I’m not asking for people to give up toilet paper, I’m just asking for awareness…your personal wakefulness on the subject. Think of it this way, if we don’t take notice of our actions, our future grandchildren just may be called the Garbage Pail Kids.

What is space?

John Muir answers that question pretty straight forward: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

John Muir quote in trees

Whether you are a city slicker or country folk, the outdoors is a necessity in life; it’s our peacekeeper for the mind, body, and even relationships. It’s our space that doesn’t need to be filled with all our stuff. So what can you do today to help with our space issue?

Here are 3 survival steps to start with:

#1 Connect with nature. Kind of how Will Robinson connected with the robot. After they developed a relationship with each other, they took care of each other. Go barefoot, roll in the leaves, swim in a lake or ocean, exercise outdoors, have a picnic, start a garden, or simply let her entertain you. Make time to do this.

#2 Put a picture of the GPGP or any garbage dump on your refrigerator. Seeing is believing. Be proud of how much you recycle. Measure how much you do. Your actions will influence your neighbors or at least get them thinking!

#3 Plant a tree. Trees do a whole for us, like helping us breathe! Trees are easy to take care of and they bring personality to your yard. Heck, you can name them if you want! I named my Blue Spruce “Bruce”. Need a tree? Go to the Arbor Day Foundation. You can have them plant a tree for you where it’s needed most!

ocean with Mother Teresa quote

We may not be lost in space, but we may just lose space on our planet. Cue the robot, “Danger, Will Robinson.” Find your own ‘earth thing’, then own it.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers – Plus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

How Cookie Dough Gave Me Super Powers – Plus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

“You let this little thing tell you what to do?” – Diana (Wonder Woman)

Tears streamed down my cheeks. “Dear God, how am I going to do this? I have too much going on…too many hats to wear: Christmas shopper, decorator, home manager, wife, mom, personal banker, blogger, volunteer, and now a student?”

I enjoy these many hats, I really do! But this December I got carried away. I had a hard time sleeping, completing a thought, and taking care of my own physical ailments. I felt like I just existed. Don’t get me wrong it had its fun times with family and friends; but there were challenging, brain-draining, and humbling realities scattered throughout the month.

Recipe below, plus where I get the special ingredients.

Wonder Woman Activate

During the second full week in December my expectations for myself where stupidly unrealistic. Not only did I have the usual Christmas preparations and home duties, but I started an online class! WHAT? “Wonder Woman Activate!” I would say to myself. “Wonder Woman Activate!” I pictured this tall, confident, strong woman with fists on hips seamlessly do everything with a smile and wind blowing through her hair.

“Wonder Woman Activate! I can do this.” Then out of nowhere, a hawk landed on the back deck. Was this a sign? BARK! Bark, bark, bark! My dog saw the hawk… I snapped out of my dream. There I stood looking outside. My eyes stung. My arms crossed. And a golf ball size knot grew in the nook of my neck.

“Wonder Woman Active”, came out of my mouth like a broken record. My mantra did not work.

I found myself on my knees. My dog looked at me and knew what was ahead, annnnnd…yup…there it is.

Tears streamed down my cheeks. I stretched my neck side to side and bowed my head with fingers intertwined, “Dear God. Help. Help me manage all this.” After a few minutes of “sob-fest”, I sat there on my knees. It felt good to take a breather. Real good. So I gave myself a time-out. I stood up and walked to the kitchen. My praying hands unfolded and tied the strings to my apron. A deep breath filled my lungs as I closed my eyes to envision my ‘go-to’ recipe… Christy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Allergen-free Chocolate Chips. These taste better than ‘real’ chocolate chips.

Wonder Twins

As my hands got busy, my tangled world loosened up just enough to welcome in some wandering. A heaping cup of flour, a pinch of salt, and a few hardy shakes of cinnamon were ready to be mixed. The beaters spun. My brain zoned-in on the mesmerizing hand mixer. The hum of the beaters, the swirl of the dough, and the smell of sweetness filled my senses. Then it was as if time clicked into slo-mo. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Each beater spun with poise. Each beater focused on the job. Together they mixed the ingredients with accuracy. I watched them work. Thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk-a. Wait a second…I watched them work. All of a sudden I was back in the Hall of Justice! This time I wasn’t looking to utilize the powers of Wonder Woman, but of the Wonder TWINS!

My “Wonder Woman Activate” affirmation was wrong. I laughed out loud about my realization, my confusion. Let’s try this: “Wonder TWINS Activate!”

I quickly found a picture online of the Wonder Twins. Oh my gosh! Remember Gleek the monkey? Zan and Jayna’s purple bodysuits? Whoa…I have Jayna’s same haircut!

While cleaning the cookie dough bowl…with my finger…I still laughed about the superhero mix-up. As I detached the infamous dough-draped beaters my thoughts went back to my reality. What was I trying to prove with this juggling of hats? That I could do it all? That I could be that strong woman who holds everything together?

A blow to the gut

For one last lick, I swiped my finger in the umbrella of the beater. As I was enjoying the flavors I felt a brick hit my stomach, not because of the raw cookie dough, but because I understood my madness.

I was trying to achieve all these things to prove to myself that I could do it all. And do it…all…by…myself. Why?

It was at that moment realized there was a little something telling me what to do…i. The very letter that is in the center of pride, anxiety, and exist! Pride was getting in my way. Anxiety was stealing my joy. To just ‘exist’ was sabotaging my goals. I was holding me BACK!

It wasn’t the tasks I needed to manage; it was my motive that needed attention.

What did I do next? Five things.

  1. I asked God for clarity and perspective.
  2. I found my Wonder Twin. And called on them when needed; whether to physically help, to listen, or to be my cheerleader. “Wonder Twins Activate!”
  3. Took things one small step at a time, step, by step, by step.
  4. Made time to hang with my family and put aside the “I”.
  5. Gave myself permission to take a time-out every once in a while and baked cookies.
gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe
Print

Christy’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free chocolate chip cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate, cookies, dairy-free, gluten-free, low-fat, nut-free, soy-free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Servings 10 cookies
Calories 145kcal
Cost $3.00 for batch

Equipment

  • Glass mixing bowl
  • Handmixer
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil do not melt
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar do not pack down
  • 1/4 cup Cane Sugar
  • 1 egg Prefer organic egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup King Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking Mix Baking mix. Use a heaping cup.
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips Mini These are allergy-free, read package.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 370. Tear a sheet of parchment paper and put it over the cookie sheet.
  • Add the coconut oil, brown sugar, and cane sugar to glass mixing bowl and mix with hand mixer until mixed together
  • Add egg, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Mix until together
  • In a separate bowl, add a heaping cup of King Arthur's Gluten-Free Baking Mix, salt, and cinnamon. Hand mix with a fork.
  • Gradually combine both bowls while mixing with the hand mixer. Mix until all together.
  • Fold in Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips Mini with a wooden spoon.
  • Scoop dollops of dough about the size of the wooden spoon and place on the cookie sheet. Allow 1-2 inches between dollops.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the oven and set the timer for 11 minutes.
  • While cookies are baking, clean-up the dishes. Please don't eat raw cookie dough due to the egg. We don't need tummy aches.
  • When cookies are done, slowly transfer them to a cooling rack if you have one. Otherwise, remove the cookies from the cookie sheet in a minute.
    gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

Notes

Calorie count is a guesstimate for one cookie when baked. It depends on the size of the cookie. Also the cost of the batch of cookies is also an estimate.

For the remainder of the month, my Wonder Twin and I worked together. We joked as we cooked meals, we encouraged each other managing the house, we were present with each other, and we played games with our son and dog.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work…” Ecclesiastes 4:9

This past December taught me something unexpected; my real superpower came from putting the “I” aside.

The cookies I baked that day didn’t last long. In fact, I made another batch that coming weekend. Who knew cookie dough would be so powerful?

Here are some of the ingredients I use for my cookie recipe. Don’t forget to use a glass mixing bowl! Plastic bowls have a tendency to add unwanted flavors to the cookie dough, plus there are chances of chemicals or plastic leaching into your delicious cookies. I use these, click on the picture below for more details.

Click on the picture for nutrition information and details.

Click on the picture below for ingredient information and more details.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

4 Simple Stress Strategies for You & Your Kids

4 Simple Stress Strategies for You & Your Kids

When we look at our children we can easily think they don’t have any stress. We might say, “What possibly could they be stressed out about?” Kids have stress, just like us. It might look different, but they do, and knowing how to relieve it can be confusing for them, even for us adults. No wonder stress is the #1 cause of illness and ailments.

Who is Stress?

Think of it this way, whenever we have something important to us get compromised or threatened, ‘Stress’ comes to visit. Let me refer to stress as a person for a second, Mr. Stress. When things don’t go according to our plan, Mr. Stress welcomes himself into our home. When there are projects and deadlines to be met Mr. Stress sees an opportunity to break-in and steal. Hear me out, projects and deadlines aren’t bad, they’re actually super good, what is bad are the distractions that keep us from achieving those goals. And it’s the distractions, when not managed well, that act as precursors to our foe, Mr. Stress. Mr. Stress can cause memory issues, sore throats, and digestive tracts havoc to name a few. That’s only a few headaches he causes. What happens at this moment is that Mr. Stress wakes up a hormone in our body called cortisol. Cortisol is the ‘bad stress hormone’. So what do we do?

Awareness is critical

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” The very first step to ignoring Mr. Stress is to be aware of his triggers. This year I was on a quest to destroy my cortisol-feeders. Awareness helps us recognize the cord before it is struck. With awareness, we will then know what circumstance to avoid or to mentally prepare for. On a personal level, I needed to kick Mr. Stress out, so my plan was to simply pay attention to the little things, because the little things add up, and then do something about them.

4 discoveries that fed my killjoy

  • The step-counters. At first, I found it curious. But then it became an obsession. I had to reach my 10,000 steps or it wasn’t a good day. This equaled a DISTRACTION for me. My fix? I took it off and just made a mental note of how much I walked.
  • Social Media. “I’ll just check it”, then 45 minutes later I’m like “What just happened?” Another DISTRACTION. My fix?  I set a timer or don’t check it at all.
  • My purse. Wow, this was really stressing me out. My purse was awkward on my shoulder. It was too slippery…yes, slippery. Too HEAVY! Not organized. Weird zipper. I had no idea how much of a DISTRACTION my purse was. My fix? I changed my purse.
click for details
  • Paper Clutter. I enjoy a clean countertop. What took up the most real estate on my counter was paper. Junk mail, receipts, sticky notes, magazines, old homework, sale ads, and newspapers were piling up. This was not only a DISTRACTION but a stress bomb. My fix? I got a recycle bin and an organization station.
click for details

Tasks are done, stress is gone, or is it?

When the big “tasks” are complete, cortisol levels go back to normal. Everything is fine, right? Not necessarily. Think of a wave approaching the shore. When a wave breaks how does it hit the beach? It crashes. Sand and shells stir and water splashes. It takes time for the water to settle and be calm. Like an ocean, the wave of cortisol might be gone, but our bodies take a lot longer to recover. How do we fix this?

4 strategies to combat the ‘crash’

  • Set a daily routine. Routines help reduce anxiety, we sleep better, and we are more productive. Let your kids write down what they would like their routine to look like. You can compromise with them to give them a little responsibility and to show trust.
  • Make a ‘daily to-do list’ that includes errands and simple things like laundry and walking the dog. This is another great habit to teach your kids. It helps them see what they need to do, and then feeling the gratification of crossing it off as ‘done!’.
  • Get outside every day for at least 20 minutes. This is harder for us parents, but it teaches our kids that nature is their friend. As a parent, force yourself to get outside, even better you’re your kids. Show them how important it is to connect with nature.
  • Cut out (as much as possible) disturbing TV shows and movies, even the news. We know bad stuff is out there, but we don’t need to be reminded of it day and night. News especially freaks kids out. A friend of mine loves the news, she had it on all day. She also has two kids, who were around the news. As time went on, the kids are afraid to go outside and play. For our kiddos and TV shows? Be wise with what they watch. Their brains aren’t developed to determine what is real or fake. Even if you say, it’s fake, seeing is believing. So unless you can show them how they make movies, keep to the ‘G’ or ‘PG’ ratings, and turn the news off!

Taking charge of your life needs awareness, self-discipline. What is one thing you can change today to help fight stress and its crash?

Here’s another post about stress you may find helpful: 5 Stress Fighters That Most People Forget About

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

1 Simple Way to Make a Difference Globally

1 Simple Way to Make a Difference Globally

What is one way you’d like to make a difference in this world? I have an easy and super effective idea for you and your family to look at; which could not only save a life but an entire village. We often take this one thing for granted, and most of us will continue to do so until we understand what it’s like to not have it. Let’s play a little game to see if you know what this is.

Quick quiz

Try and guess this simple thing that has a big impact, answer these three statements:

  • I planted a garden and depended on this to see my first flower bloom. What is it?
  • I had no energy, no appetite, no hope, all due to a rare disease that hindered me of this. What is it?
  • My husband left for a two-week venture to Nepal, his bravery and drive brought him there because of this for the people. What is it?

Do you know what it is? I bet it’s on your desk right now. It’s something so simple yet filled with power in a thousand ways. If you take notice of this you too will see where this small thing has made a big impact on your life. I know I’m not the only one.

My delighted encounter

When my husband and I moved into our new home I was giddy to have our own place. Before then we lived in apartments and duplexes. Some we fixed up and rented, others we lived there…no fixing needed. What a difference a house made for us! Sure there is a lot more responsibility, but as many I dreamed of my first real home. Granted it wasn’t brand new, but at least I could make a snow angel on the carpet without hitting any furniture!

Yet, the best part about our house is that it had a backyard. A garden was definitely in order. I wanted to see something I planted with my own hands grow. There is something magical about planting something. Getting my hands dirty was like therapy. Gardening renewed my mind, I didn’t think about work, or my to-do list, for all I focused on was the steps to gardening. Step one, weed, then break up the dirt (my favorite), push in a small hole, plant the seed, cover the seed, then water. That first day in the garden was so fun. My dirt-filled fingernails delicately pushed the last seed into the ground, I gently covered the seed, and then watered. Now the sun does its job. And all I have left to do is to make sure it has water to grow. I knew this easy project was going to make a difference, not only for our own eye but for our neighbors. We reaped a harvest of food over the years with our garden, flowers delighted our souls, and we passed the love onto our neighbors. Some of our neighbors got inspired and even planted their own gardens. This garden made a difference in our small neighborhood, all because of water.

A fight that still haunts me

Exhausted and debilitated from nonstop nausea and uncontrolled vomiting I clenched my cross desperate for relief. Eight months of day-in and day-out sickness tormented my body and mind. I remember saying to myself, “This must be what it feels like to die”. If you have ever been severely dehydrated, you know what I’m talking about. Your body hurts, standing up straight is a joke, nothing sounds good to eat or drink, you can’t see straight, think right, and your head pounds. There is not an ounce of energy in your body. And when you pinch the skin on the back of your hand and the skin doesn’t bounce back, you know you’re severely dehydrated. I still use this trick today.

If I drank too much I’d throw it up. Nothing is worse than wanting to drink water, but can’t because it makes you sick. My body was present, but I was gone; all from a rare pregnancy disease. I kept thinking, “What do women do in 3rd world countries where the water is dirty and medical help is scarce? How do they survive? How do they thrive? I don’t think they do. An IV pierced my collapsed veins. The color in my face came back and I felt somewhat human again.

The lack of water can literally kill, it can leave a scar on our psyche, and our body doesn’t forget it. That’s the scary part that our bodies don’t forget. For instance, when I get the stomach bug, my body remembers dehydration and immediately shuts down to preserve what it’s got. Thankfully I can go the to ER for fluids. If I didn’t, I probably would have died eight times already. Water saves the day.

On a global level

My husband’s heart beat towards a little village in Nepal near the epicenter where an 8.1 earthquake hit in 2015. The earthquake killed at least 9000 people; it flattened villages, triggered avalanches, landslides, not to mention destroying watersheds. Never being on a mission trip he chose to go across the globe, to camp on the ground, ride treacherous roads for 10 hours, and have land leeches eat at his feet.

While he was there he took notice of what the people needed most…and acted on it. They needed water. People were getting sick because of the dirty water. I kept thinking of my dehydration experience, granted they may not have been vomiting, but diarrhea can do the exact same thing. My husband was a changed man after that trip. He made it his mission to get water filters to that village, then from the help of Genesis Waters, he was able to install two entire water filtration systems for the village. People walked miles outside of the village to use it. After seeing how one simple necessity could change an entire village, he dove into helping more people with clean water and is now a board member of Genesis Waters. To this day hundreds of people from that small Nepal village are using the exact water filters; they are feeling better, stronger, and cared for just because of water.

click for information

Anyone can make a difference with water. Our neighborhoods, the health of our own bodies, and villages across the globe. Clean water makes us stronger in more ways than one. Not one person can survive over three days without water. This may not be an exciting cause to support, but it is a life-saving one that will make a difference for generations to come.

Simple ideas to make a difference with water:

  • Drink it for good health, a clearer mind, and a cleaner body. Use a water filter for home. We use this one. I absolutely love it and trust it.
click for details
  • Conserve it. Get a rain barrel. We have one like the one below. You can also limit your time in the shower less and flush less.
  • Help the environment. Plant trees or a garden near a creekbed, the vegetation naturally filters water from rain and melting snow that runs into it.
  • Support organizations like Genesis Waters who can bring clean water to people in 3rd world counties. Trust me, you don’t ever want to experience dehydration via disease or lack of water…neither do they or their precious babies.
  • Teach your kids about water. Kids can get into this. It’s something they can relate to immediately.
  • Minister with it for others.

Teaching our kids compassion- two ideas

Want your kids to feel the compassion for water? Here’s idea #1. Recently my son’s class went on a field trip. They had been learning about a village in Africa where they had to walk five miles to a river to retrieve water. And the water wasn’t even clean. The women and children were sent there with big tubs to fill up and balance on their heads as they walked another five miles home. As a class, they reenacted what these people had to do. Instead of tubs, each kid was giving two empty milk gallons containers. The kids had to walk two miles through a forest to get to a pond. They filled up their jugs and had to walk two miles back with the heavy jugs. The class, of course, didn’t drink the water, but that experience helped them be more appreciative of what they have at their fingertips…a faucet.

Idea #2

Another idea to do with your kids is to simply take them camping. This can be as simple as buying a couple of jugs of water and living off of those for the weekend. Or you can take it to the next level and purchase a water filter and filter your own water from a body of water. I’m talking rustic camping; no showers, no potties, no water pump. This experience will not only toughen your kiddos up, but again help them be thankful for what they have. And they’ll have a lot of fun! Here is the water filter my husband recommends.

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Together we can make a difference in this world if we just focus on water. Simple, yet powerful.

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

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