Net Neutrality and Freedom Online

Sometimes there are things that happen in the world around us or in our communities or our country that I feel the need to talk about. Normally I leave politics at the door here. Mostly I talk about faith and my family or my life in general. This is one of those rare times that I feel the need to talk politics.

There is a lot of talk going on right now about the FCC and Net Neutrality. Those in favor of net neutrality are telling us how great it will, how free the internet will be with the government regulating it. Really? I would say that the internet is pretty free right now.

When I decided I wanted to start a blog, I googled hosting websites and came across a couple different ones that were free to get started. I checked them out and finally settled on wordpress.com to host my blog. I came up with a name, put in my email address and chose a password and *BAM* a website was born where I have the freedom to put anything I chose. I didn’t have to ask permission from anyone to start this. I can say anything I want to here. I am FREE to do with this area as I please.

If the FCC classifies the internet as a telecommunication service rather than an informational service, everything changes. No, it won’t change overnight. You won’t wake up the next morning and everything be different, but things will change. The government will suddenly be regulating the internet.

Let’s say you’ve got this great idea to make soaps and lotions. You start out making them just for yourself, but they are so great that you start making them to give as gifts to your friends and family. Your friends and family love your products and tell you that you should start selling them. You think about and decide to go ahead and give it a try. You decided to start a web-based business selling your soaps and lotions. Today you can do it. Find a hosting company to host your website and start selling your products.

When the government takes over the internet, what do you think they are going to want you to do before you start selling your products? Well, what does the government want (force) you to do if you want to start a business in your town? Well, you are definitely going to need a business license ($). There are going to be some fees ($). You’ll definitely need an inspection ($), and probably several of them ($). You did get a permit ($) to make those lotions and soaps here, right?

Let’s say you are a great baker. You love baking cakes and decorating them, and it turns out you are pretty good at it. Some friends ask you to bake a cake for their baby’s first birthday. They take a bunch of pictures at the party and post them to Facebook. “WOW! Great cake! Where’d you get it?” And suddenly, you’re getting asked to make cakes for birthdays and weddings and all sorts of special occasions. You decide to go ahead and give your cake business a name and a Facebook page so you can start taking orders regularly. Maybe you can even make a living out of doing something you love.

And businesses aren’t the only changes that could be coming with government regulation of the internet. Maybe you think the internet could use some regulation. I’ll be the first to agree with you that, along with the many, many good things, there are many, many bad things as well. Although I’ve never looked for it, I am positive that you can find any type of porn you could ever want on the internet. There is probably a site for every type of hate and oppression imaginable. Let the government regulate that, you say. Let the government shut all of the hate down, you say.

Well, doesn’t that sound great in theory. But who gets to decide what stays and what goes? Who gets to pick what qualifies as hate? Right now a lot of people who have never listened to a word he has said would tell you that Glenn Beck spews hate, even though every day he says we should love each other regardless of our differences. But he spews hate, they say. Shut him down, they say. And if you don’t agree with him maybe you think that is a great idea.

But think about this. What happens when we have a different president? What happens when power changes hands? What if those in charge thought that everything on MSNBC is hate and start shutting those people down?

What if those in charge decide that talking about God is hate speech? Or if you write about being anti-vaccination? Or if you home school? Or if you just disagree with the things that are going on around you? Slowly you’ll start seeing the bloggers disappear. What about all those bloggers that share news and political opinions? What if the government decides that they aren’t real reporter, they aren’t real news sites? And then they disappear, too.

Right now you can go online and say whatever you want. You can take videos and millions of people can view them.

Right now the internet is free.

 

I would ask you all to please go to this website and sign the petition asking the FCC not to take over the internet.

Will you be my valentine?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. How excited are you? It’s a day to force your spouse or significant other to buy you an overpriced card/flowers/candy/gift/dinner. It’s a day to say, “No, Honey. You don’t need to get me something.” and then be mad when you don’t get something.

Maybe that seems a little harsh. Maybe you and your loved ones truly love Valentine’s Day. That’s great for you. I know Hallmark/Hersey/ProFlowers loves it. (Hey, way to go! Yay for capitalism!) As for my family, tomorrow is just another Saturday. No big deal.

I can hear you now. Oh, sure. You say it’s no big deal, but we all know you’ll be upset if your husband doesn’t show up with a dozen roses. If my husband shows up with a dozen roses tomorrow, I’m going to ask him if he’s lost his mind. Don’t get me wrong. If he wants to get me flowers, I would love them. However, I don’t want them on a day that the world has told him he HAS to get them for me. I’d much rather have them on a random Tuesday when the boys have driven me to the edge and nothing has gone right and I have no idea what I’m going to fix for supper. A week old bouquet from the gas station on a random Thursday would mean so much more to me than the nicest, freshest bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day.

We said years ago we weren’t “doing” Valentine’s Day. I told my husband not to get me anything. And you know what? I meant it. If you tell your significant other not to get you anything for Valentine’s Day and you don’t mean it, well, in my house, we call that a lie. And I don’t lie. A lie is a lie is a lie. I do not understand why someone would say they didn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day when they do. Why would you set up your significant other for failure?

Maybe instead of setting ourselves up to fail, we should celebrate love for what it is or is supposed to be. Randomly this week, Connor walked up to me and said, “You know Valentine’s isn’t about presents and candy. It’s about friendship.” Amen!

What if instead of expecting gifts, we offer kindness. “Love suffers long and is kind; love doesn’t envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) What if we love each other like that?

What if instead of walking down that red and pink aisle in Wal-Mart/Target/Kroger, we spend Valentine’s Day following Jesus? “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.'” (Matthew 22:37-38) Maybe February 14th should be about that.

Maybe we are just weird. Maybe it is strange that we don’t “do” Valentine’s Day, that birthdays aren’t that big of deal, that on Christmas morning I don’t need a gift under the tree. I don’t need a big dinner out or flowers or fancy words in a card. I would much rather have a nice (crazy) night at home with my husband and kids. A simple “I love you” is just as good (better) than the sweetest Hallmark card for me.

If you needed/want the dinner out, the flowers and gifts and fancy cards, that’s great for you. I hope you get them. I hope you’ve told your significant other that you need those things. And I hope you’ve found someone who will give them to you. I respect your decision.

In return, I hope you’ll respect mine. If you ask my husband what he’s getting me for Valentine’s Day and he tells you I don’t want anything, don’t act like only an idiot would fall for that trick. If we say we’re staying in on Saturday, don’t feel sorry for us. It’s exactly what we want to do. This is who we are, and we like it this way.

It’s been a while

If you’re a regular around here, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been away. I hadn’t planned on being away. My original plan was just to be gone from Christmas to New Years as we enjoyed time together as a family. It seemed like a good plan as I wasn’t planning on writing a post of New Years. I felt the same way about it this year as I did last year.

And then life happened. We’d be in the middle of something and I’d think, I need to blog today. And night would fall and lying in bed I would remember that I hadn’t gotten around to blogging. I really have to blog tomorrow. That’s the thing about writing. If you do it often, you keep doing it. If you stop writing, it’s really hard to start again. Several times I would get around to charging the iPad and turn

ing the Internet on, only to look at the blank page, shut the iPad and Internet off and walk away. Maybe tomorrow, I’d think.

So tomorrow has finally come. After almost two months away, let’s catch back up.

Hope For the Holidays was an amazing success. I believe everyone who asked for help got some sort of help. I couldn’t have done it without you guys. Thank you to everyone who prayed, who shared, and who gave. I’m hoping we can do it again next year, and it be even bigger and better than it was this year.

Around our crazy little house, things have been really good, too. My baby turned 5 in January. That seems so hard to believe. He’s turning into a little man right before my eyes.

IMG_0373

We finally got enough snow that the boys could go out and really play in it.

Cameron

Cameron

Connor

Connor

I’ve been baking a lot. For several years, I’ve been baking bread and have tried my hand at pasta a couple of times. I really enjoy baking so we started thinking about what else I could make at home. It turns out that flour tortillas are fairly easy to make at home and use ingredients that we keep on hand. It took a couple tries to get them to roll out nice, but it only takes about an hour from start to finished product. You can find the recipe I used here. (if you try it I add a little extra salt and use shortening instead of lard)

Tortillas

Tortillas

After tortillas, I was feeling really adventurous. I googled bagel recipes and it turns out you can make those at home, too, and they are so much better than store bought. In fact, I have a batch rising right now. That recipe can be found here. (I use 4 cups of flour and mix the ingredients like I am making bread.) The hardest part of bagels is trying to hook the ends together so I stopped making them like that and instead make a disc and put a hole in the middle with my thumb. We love ours topped with shredded cheese.

Bagels

Bagels

And to be really wild and crazy, we booked a room at a local hotel last weekend so the boys could spend some time swimming. They loved it, but kept asking when their uncle Justin was going to get there. The only other time they’ve been to a hotel is when we went to uncle Justin’s wedding, and the boys really think if we’re going to be at a hotel, uncle Justin should be too.

Cameron

Cameron

Connor

Connor

So that’s what we’ve been up to. I’m back now. The first post is always the hardest. It’s just a matter of getting words, any words onto the page. I have thoughts, topics, opinions and songs so expect to start seeing them again.

Oh! Who could forget that after about seven months of refusing a haircut, Connor finally agreed to get one (only after I made the deal that I would take him to the zoo as soon as it opens if he agreed to the haircut. Yes, we do use bribery.)

Haircut!

Haircut!

Merry Christmas

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care. The presents are under the tree. There is a plate with cookie crumbs and a dirty milk cup next to it. And two sickly little boys are in bed, if they’d only stay asleep.

Merry Christmas from my crazy family to yours.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Happy birthday, Jesus.

 

How they really felt about me taking pictures

How they really felt about me taking pictures

Angels Among Us

The version of Angels We Have Heard On High in the video above is amazing. It’s The Piano Guys with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The video also includes clips from the world record breaking live nativity with over 1000 angels. It is worth watching.

Angels are so important to the Christmas story. They bring the news to Mary, to Joseph, and to the shepards. Each time it starts out the same. The angels tell them to not be afraid.

Imagine Mary standing there in her home and suddenly there is a man standing behind her. Imagine Joseph, his world collapsing around him as he learns his love is pregnant and he’s not the father. Imagine those shepards, watching over their flocks, settled down for the night and suddenly someone appears shining in the night’s sky.

Do not be afraid was probably the right way to begin. When I think about any of those situations, I know I definitely would have been afraid. In fact, afraid probably isn’t a strong enough word to describe how I would have felt.

These angels knew what to say. They were sent by God to give the best news. They knew there was no reason to to afraid. “You’re going to have a baby, and not just any baby but the Son of God.” “Marry your bride. Together you are going to raise the Savior.” “The Son of God has been born, and you get to be there!”

There was no need to be afraid. These angels were bring the best news ever. They brought cause for celebration. The Son of God was coming to earth!

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!'” – Luke 2:10-14

In the song, it says that the mountains echoed the sound of the angels singing the praises of Jesus’s birth. I’m not sure it was just an echo. I can imagine it being such a joyous occasion that even the cries of the mountains could not be contained.

And those shepherds, dirty and tired from tending their sheep, from chasing down the ones that wondered off. They were sitting around thinking it was just another night when suddenly their whole world changed.

I’m not sure what angels look like. When I think of Gabriel appearing to Mary, I imagine him to look like a man you could pass on the street without a second thought. When I think of the shepherds, I picture the classic angel look, the white gowns and wings and light. I’m not sure what they look like, but I know God is still sending them to earth.

I saw one once

It was night, and I was driving a friend home. This involved a lot of county roads with woods and fields, also known as a deer’s best friend. We were just getting off of the main highway which was well lighted. Just as the street lights were coming to an end, I saw something move. It was dark and person shaped but more like a shadow of movement than an actual person.

It bothered me and stuck with me. My friend didn’t see it, I was sure. I didn’t say anything about it, but I kept thinking about what I had seen.

We kept driving and a couple minutes later turned onto a dark county road. Whatever I had seen was really bothering me so I asked my friend if they had seen it. Nope, he had no idea what I was talking about. So I started telling him about it, where it was and what it looked like.

We were driving up a hill, and what I didn’t realize at the time was, while I was telling my story, I had taken my foot off the gas petal. We had drastically slowed down. And as I finished my story we started down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, standing in the middle of the road was the biggest deer I have ever seen.

Had I not seen the figure by the side of the road, had I talked about it right away, had I not taken my foot off the gas, I would not have gotten stopped in time. I have no idea how my little car, my passenger and I would have faired had I hit that deer, but I know it wouldn’t have been good.

And no one will ever convince me that it was anything but someone sent by God that I saw by the road that night. Do not be afraid for God is with you.

Angels among us 

We’ve gone through hard times just like everyone else. Our hardest time felt never ending (although it did end just like everything does). We had to rely on our families a lot. We struggled individually and as a family.

During this hard time, I opened the front door of the house to let more light in through the screen door. I found a shocking surprise. Sitting on our front porch were boxes of food. I stepped out and looked around expecting to see someone.

There was no one there. There was no note included with the food. I have no idea how someone could have gotten those boxes to my front door without any of us seeing anything, especially considering the giant picture window in our living room.

I still don’t know how the food got there, and honestly, it doesn’t matter. Whether it was delivered by someone from earth or not, I believe it was sent by God. Do not be afraid for you are not alone.

I also believe we have angels working with us right on this site. Over on the post Hope For the Holidays, strangers are helping strangers. And maybe all of the givers live on earth or maybe they don’t. Either way, I believe every commenter over there found themselves there through God. Do not be afraid for you are not alone.

This Christmas season watch for the angels. Do not be afraid. They are bringing good tidings of great joy.

Hope For the Holidays *Update*

Just before Thanksgiving, WANA (a private project where strangers help strangers) was supposed to start again for the fourth year. However, this year it was on Facebook rather than a blog where people could share their needs in a more private way.

I felt moved and decided to host something similar here calling it Hope For the Holidays (since I couldn’t get a hold of the original blogger). I wrote a post and slowly but surely people have showed up with needs and strangers have helped us fill those needs.

And every time I get discouraged that needs won’t be filled, more givers show up to help. And while I have been told no that I can’t share our project in places that seem like they should be willing to help, Matt over at Must Be This Tall To Ride wrote a lovely post about what we are doing and asked his readers if they wanted to make magic with us.

Together we have helped moms and dads, aunts and uncles, families that need just a little help this year. We have sent toys and clothes and gift cards to help with food. Christmas morning there will be presents under trees in houses that Santa Claus would have been missing. Families that worry about how they are going to buy groceries next week can breathe a little easier.

Thank you so much. None of this would have happened without those of you who have helped, by filling needs, sharing the project with your friends and family, and praying for us.

But our work is not done. We still have needs that I would like to see filled.

There is Jo, a mom of two little boys (ages 4 and 6) with a baby girl on the way.

There is a mom who is “looking for an angel” with a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Santa won’t be making a stop at their house without help.

There is Wanda, a grandma taking care of her grandsons (ages 5 and 1). She left a violent situation and they had to leave everything behind.

Heidi is a mom of 6 with one on the way. Not only is Santa missing their house this year, they don’t even have a tree those gifts belong under.

There is Brian who is 16 and has a 13-year-old sister. They know things are tight this year and there won’t be any presents under the tree. They aren’t asking for gifts. They just want to do something nice for their parents and get some help putting food on the table so their parents won’t have to worry so much.

Sara is a single mom with a 14-year-old daughter. Because of illness and missed time at work, things are tight. She doesn’t need things but is wondering how she’s going to put food on the table this Christmas season.

Elaine and her husband have 5 kids, 2 girls and 3 boys. Their car broke down and any “extra” they could come up with had to go to repair it.

Every comment that comes in I read. Every need breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could help every person. We pray for the families that need help and those that are helping. We pray that God would send us help to meet the needs that are left.

If these stories touch your heart and you have a way to help, please go to the original post and reply to the person’s comment. If the stories touch your heart but you don’t have a way to help, please pray that the right people see the needs.

If you have been helped, please go to the original post and update your need.

If you have been helped and are willing to share that story, please email me at 2crazylittleboys AT gmail.com. I’d love to share all those stories (and pictures if you are willing to share those).

Thank you for giving. Thank you for reading and sharing. Thank you for praying.

And as a bonus, my crazy little boys decorating the tree:

IMG_0291

Can one pizza feed the world?

Raising boys with giving hearts is so important to me. We live in a world that is full of entitlement, and I don’t want my boys to be like that. I don’t want them to think they deserve everything they want just because they want it. I want them to love to give.

We work hard on this. It feels like the most important thing we can teach them other than to love Jesus. Several times a year we go through the toys to give some away. The boys are great about it. They want to help others and they find it hard to believe when I tell them about other little boys and girls that don’t have toys to play with. They are kids so sometimes they just pick out toys that they never play with or the broken toy that somehow made its way into the toy box instead of the trash can. But sometimes they pick out old favorites that still get played with so another little boy can have a toy.

One question I get asked every time is, “What is his name?” meaning the little boy to receive our toy. I don’t know is not consider an answer. I’m the mom. I’m suppose to know.

Maybe that’s why our Hope For the Holidays project is so close to my heart. It’s real people asking for help and real people replying to help. And even if they aren’t using their real names, you have names to associate with real people and their stories.

 

Ringing bells

Ringing bells

 

Last week we rang bells for Salvation Army. Salvation Army is my charity of choice, and it was a really easy way we could do something to help. I also thought it would be a fun way for the boys to give their time instead of items. Plus they could ring bells and who doesn’t love that.

On our way to ring the bells, I explained again what we were doing. I told them if people put money in the bucket, they needed to remember to say “thank you” and “Merry Christmas.” Then I explained that the money was not for them to keep. It was for little boys and girls who didn’t have presents or food.

Food?

It was so hard for them to understand that there are people who don’t have enough food. My boys have never had to worry about where their next meal would come from. Thank You, Lord, my boys have never known real hunger. Even during our hardest, darkest times, there has always been food.

If you know Connor, you know he loves food. It just broke his heart to think about little kids not having food. And with his childhood innocent and giving heart, he had a plan.

We drove past a Little Caeser’s. Connor said, “I know! Let’s go to Pizza! Pizza! and take pizza and Crazy Bread to the hungry people!”

“That’s a really nice idea, Buddy.”

I kind of wish I had stopped at Pizza! Pizza!

———

During bedtime prayers, we’ve been including prayers for “Mom’s project.”

“What’s it called again?”

“Hope For the Holidays. We’re helping people who need presents and food.”

“We should go to Pizza! Pizza! and get them food. Then they won’t be hungry.”

How simple is it when you look at it through the eyes of a four year old? If people are hungry, stop and get them food. Through the eyes of an adult, it feels so hard. But maybe he’s right. Maybe it is that easy. Maybe we’re the ones making it seem so hard.

Maybe if we all gave a little, if we all gave a pizza, we could change the world.

Thank you all so much who are helping with “Mom’s project” whether it’s been through actual giving or prayers for those in need. If you are in need or are looking to feel a need, be sure to check out what we are doing with Hope For the Holidays.

 

My Faith Is Just My Faith

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about my faith as it is seen through the eyes of others. It’s been an interesting experience. To me, my faith is just my faith. It’s something that has always been a part of me. I don’t remember a time without it. There wasn’t one morning where I woke up and suddenly realized that Jesus was the Christ.

Now that’s not to say that there aren’t defining times of faith in my life. There are definitely moments that I look back on and know that God was working in my life. And while there are no times in my life where I questioned the existence of God, there are certainly times where I was far from Him.

I’m at an interesting period in my faith right now. Suddenly, I am listening more carefully and doing things I feel God is calling me to do when they make no sense to me. Or when I’m not even sure that I want to do them. Or when the thought of doing it has me literally on the verge of throwing up.

And then I pray that I’m making the right decision. I pray that the words that I’m using are the right ones, the ones that will make the most impact, the ones He wants me to use. Before yesterday’s post, Hope For the Holidays, I was sick and shaking. What if it didn’t work? What if there’s all these needs and no one to help? What if it’s just an epic failure, and then everyone knows that I’m an epic failure?

And then I prayed again. Hope For the Holidays is probably the most prayed over blog post I’ve ever written. And after I prayed, I felt at peace. I was still shaking. I was still nervous. Those are human reactions. But I knew that if it was right, it was going to work. I actually had prayed for God to shut my blog down and not let it work if I wasn’t supposed to write those words.

In the last couple of weeks, people have been talking to me about my faith. I’ve been told I was brave. I’ve been told that my faith is awe-inspiring. I’ve been told I’m doing God’s work.

It’s amazing for people to look at me and my words and see my faith like that. To me, it’s just my faith. It’s just who I am. Most of the time, I feel like a scared little girl just trying to do what her Father wants her to do.

You look at me and say that I am brave? I am so scared every time I write. But maybe being brave is writing when you are scared.

You look at me and say that my faith is inspiring? It’s just who I am. It doesn’t feel inspiring.

You look at me and say that I’m doing God’s work? WOW. That one just blows me over. I hope you’re right.

Thank you for giving me a different perspective on my faith.

Hope For the Holidays

December 2011 I was a part of something amazing. A blogger I love, Martini’s or Diaper Genies? (MODG), had gotten some ugly comments on her blog about how rich she must be. She responded with a very sarcastic post about how amazing she was and then asked for everyone to give their financial stats in the comments. The regular comments came, like, “I must be rich too since I eat ham.” But then a very different comment showed up.

A woman named Catherine commented and gave her actual financial situation. She and her husband were losing their jobs. They didn’t know how they were going to pay the bills let alone have anything under their tree for their young child to open Christmas morning.

And just like that hearts were softened and lives were changed.

MODG and her family helped Catherine, even though she wasn’t actually asking for help. It felt good. It felt right. So MODG came back to her blog and shared it with her readers and a movement happened. She called it WANA (We Are Not Assholes). She asked her readers to be honest and open. If you had a need, share it and let us help you. If you could help someone, comment on their need.

It was amazing. It exploded. So many people needed help and wanted to help that I can’t even share that blog post with you because it crashed the system and is lost forever.

People shared their stories. They shared their illnesses and job losses. They shared their fears of not knowing how they were going to feed their families or even put gas in their cars to get to their jobs that barely paid the bills. They shared their heartbreak that Christmas morning at their house Santa Claus wouldn’t be coming. They shared how their kids were old enough to understand how hard times were or young enough not to know there weren’t any presents where there should have been.

But if you are a mom or dad, you know that it doesn’t matter if your kids won’t know or will understand. You will know. And your heart will break. You will feel like you failed at something big.

Of course, Christmas is about so much more than presents under the tree. But that empty tree, or empty spot in the corner where the tree should have been but you couldn’t even afford one is just a glaring reminder that you failed your family.

It was a truly magically thing to be a part of, and I will never forget that Christmas.

WANA continued for the next two years. You can read MODG’s post for 2012 here.

In February 2014, MODG came to her readers again and told us she had to step back. As a mom, she just couldn’t blog anymore. It was too much. And as a mom, I completely understand where she was coming from. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be criticized for every choice you make for your kids by strangers.

Last week, MODG posted on her Facebook page that she still was unable to get back to the blog but wanted to have a place for WANA to continue. She made a post for it on Facebook. I clicked the button to get notifications whenever anyone posted on it.

And then I waited to see what would happen.

Later that afternoon someone finally posted on it. They had a need but would prefer private messages. And that’s when I realized this wasn’t going to work. When you post on ANYTHING on Facebook it shows up on the timeline of ALL your friends. It is hard enough to ask for help from strangers. How much harder when all your friends and family are going to see you asking for help?

I felt moved. I have this little place on the Internet that I can do whatever I want with. I felt called. I sent MODG an email sharing my thoughts with her and asking if I could run WANA through my blog. It felt so right.

And then I waited.

It’s been a week since she put the post on Facebook and I haven’t heard back from her. The last time I looked there were 15 comments on her post and no signs that anyone was helping fill those needs.

I completely understand that. Someone says they need help but can’t share that need in a public forum with all their personal information attached to it. And if you don’t know what the need is, how do you know if you can help? Do you send them a message and have them tell you their story? What if you can’t help then? “Sorry you just spilled your guts to me, but that’s not a need I can fill.” And then everyone feels bad?

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I have a deep faith. If you’ve been reading recently, you know I’ve been doing things recently that I feel God has called me to do even (or especially) that I don’t understand. This is one of those times. Maybe I can’t help everyone that has a need, but I can share my little piece of the Internet to connect people.

Because I never heard back from MODG, I don’t feel like I can use the term WANA. I’m calling this Hope For the Holidays. Because that’s what we are going to do here.

We all need hope, and when times are tough it’s really hard to find hope.

If times are tough for you and your family, I’m asking that you share your story with us here. Let us give you hope that things will get better and that people do care about you.

If times are good for you and your family, I’m asking that you help give hope to those who need it.

Giving always makes you feel good. And this time of year, more people are in the giving spirit. And there are great charities to give to. (We personally love Salvation Army and will be taking the boys to ring bells for them this year.)

As great as giving to a charity to help random people is, giving to a specific person to fill a specific need is amazing.

This is all going on faith. I have faith that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I have faith that people needing help will find this post. I have faith that people able to give help with find this post and be called to help where they can.

Some tips on making this work:

-When you post a comment, you do not have to use your full name (or even your real name) if you are wanting to remain anonymous.

-If you leave an email address so people can contact you, please leave it as name AT place DOT com so spammers are less likely to find you

-Please leave a real email address in the box for it when you comment. I am the only one who can see it and that way I will be able to contact you if I need to

-And I especially need you guys to share this post on social media. The only way for this to be successful is for people to know about it

Choose hope this holiday season. Let’s share Hope For the Holidays (no matter which ones you celebrate).

I choose hope.

**update**

It has been pointed out to me that my instructions may not be clear enough if you weren’t a part of the original movement. So I would like to clarify.

If you have a need:

Please share your story. Share as much as you feel comfortable with. This is important. People want to connect with you. Your story will touch hearts. Give us specific needs we can help with. It is also helpful if you leave your email address in your comment so people have a way to reach you.

If you can fill a need:

Please reply to the comment of the person you are wanting to help so we will know if the need has been met. It is then up to you and the person you are helping to connect so you can help them. If I need to be a go between, I can be, but it will be much simpler if you connect with each other.

When you leave a comment, the is a box to check if you want to get an email when there are new comments. I would suggest clicking this box so you will know when someone replies to you.

The best part of Hope For the Holidays and the only way it works is for us to connect with each other. Real people helping real people.

Thank you to everyone working to make this a hope filled holiday season.

Mary, Did You Know

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A day to spend with family and friends and thank God for all the blessings in the past year. It also officially starts the Christmas season.

I love this time of year. The weather turns crisp to cold. The snow starts to fall. (Although I haven’t always been a fan, seeing snow through my sons’ eyes makes me appreciate it again.) We have time spent with family and friends. I love the smells and even the cooking, decorating the Christmas tree and drinking hot chocolate. And I love the music. I’m not sure that the handful of weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are long enough for me to get my fill of the music.

So today is starting our Holiday addition of Worship Wednesday. “Mary Did You Know” seems like a really good place to start. And the Pentatonix version I included above is an amazing cover of the song.

I remember holding both of my boys for the first time. It is an amazing thing to hold your baby for the first time. To look down at that little life that you created. To know that you are responsible for that little life. It is amazing and terrifying, all at the same time.

I can’t even begin to imagine what Mary must have been thinking that first Christmas. As she sat there in that stable, surrounded by hay and animals and looked down at the Baby in her arms. Of course, she knew she was holding the Son of God. She knew where this amazing gift she had been given had come from.

As she looked upon the face of that sleeping Child, could she have even begun to imagine the things He would do? I love the line in the song “when you kiss your little Baby, you kiss the face of God.” As she bent and held the sleeping Child to her chest and placed a kiss upon His forehead, did it cross her mind? Or did she just sit in awe of this Life that had come from her?

I believe that all babies are amazing and all babies are a gift from God, but Mary was holding a baby that was ACTUALLY God. And I am sure as she looked upon the Baby, she knew He would do great things. However, I can’t imagine she could have known how great or the sacrifice that sleeping Child would give.

As you begin this holiday season, take a moment and think about that mother and Child. Think about how amazing that moment must have been. So amazing that the shepherds went out and told all about the Child and Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Even Mary couldn’t know how amazing it all was going to be.

So amazing that 2000 years later we would still be talking about that night in the stable.

 

Mary Did You Know

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy had come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you?

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kiss the face of God?

Mary did you know?

The blind will see
The deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nation?
Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

You can find all of the Worship Wednesday posts here.