My Life in Words
A weekly blog about parenting, the prophetic and God's presence here, now
This picture has HUGE significance to me...it is just 2 boys on bikes but to me it is so much more. A year ago we were in Scotland. Our kids were in school, we were hunkering down for another Scottish winter, channeling all the Danish hygge we could. We stocked up on candles from Ikea, dark chocolate, warm comfy clothes, a disco ball for the dark afternoons (sunset at 330pm). We had all settled, made friends, found our rhythm. At the same time I had heard in prayer to "pack our bags and get ready, we were going to move". That word didn't totally make sense to me--we didn't have any place to move to. We had sold our home, a lot of of our furniture, quit our jobs--where would we go?
Then, last September our 10 year old son told us he felt nervous about starting middle school in The States without knowing anyone. He either wanted to stay in Scotland for the next 7 years (not a possibility on a student visa) OR move now. We informed him school had already started and he would enter into 5th grade in the middle of the school year. His response was--"that would be perfect. If we start in January then my teacher will have time to help me catch up on everything I am behind on and focus on me since all the other kids will be settled already." Apparently this kid is an expert "mover" and this isn't his first new school rodeo.
So long story short, we bought plane tickets, sold our Scottish furniture and moved back to the states at the end of November. We had a few ideas of where we would "land" but nothing definite. After a long crazy month in December we had bought a car, found American health insurance and enrolled the kids into school in Bend, Or. We still didn't have a place to live and Greg was still working on his PHD. It took 6 months of short term vacation rentals before we found a house to move into. But that is another story, this one is about Sam.
Today, Sam left at 730am to ride his bike to middle school with our next door neighbor, also a 6th grade boy, who has become a good friend of Sam's this summer. They were meeting 2 other boys in the neighborhood and the 4 of them rode off to school. This time last year I couldn't have dreamt up a better scenario for our son. This is exactly what he was hoping for when he said he wanted to move, now. He wanted to start school feeling caught up on American math and spelling, and he wanted friends so he wasn't alone. We took a risk and it felt like we hung in limbo for months. Today as he rode down the driveway with his buddy to MIDDLE SCHOOL (deep breath) I had this powerful sense of God's provision. While we thought we were hanging in mid-air God prepared a place for us to land, specifically caring for my kid's desires. The other 3 kids start school tomorrow. They each have friends in their class, have amazing teachers and get to start school without being the new kid. As we parents attempt to follow God's call in our lives, it is a gift to know God is taking into consideration all of us and caring for my kids in the process. Today is a day of celebration.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the various problems in the world and how they all interconnect? Global warming, too much garbage, the effect of both on clean water, on children's health and food resources. Sometimes I don't know where to start so I don't start anywhere. I was reading about the organic food industry and how a lot of the increase in organic, free range food products was brought about by consumer demands. This means that people who shop, like you and me, changed the way some of the food industry works. This means that we have power, that the choices we make can effect change.
I have four kids and a limited budget. Here are 3 things we've done this year to change our habits and become more "environmental". I was am not paid or sponsored to promote these products...just stuff I chose based on some research.
1. Reduce plastic waste: Buy in bulk and stop using plastic fruit and vegetable bags. I've used reusable grocery bags for years. If I forget them I try to hand carry items or at least get paper bags. But this year I bought these: Simple Ecology reusable cotton mesh and Cotton Muslim bags. I had to shift my shopping habits slightly so that I was shopping at places where I can chose my produce and it isn't already in plastic bags. I also inherited a bunch of glass jars from my grandparents which I use to put flour, sugar etc in from the bulk aisle. The goal is to reduce the amount of garbage I pick up while grocery shopping.
2. Get rid of paper towels: This seems super small but my goal is to reduce the garbage my family produces. My kids love to use a paper towel once to wipe their mouth then throw it away. So I bought these Medline cloths. It felt like a huge upfront investment. I have a drawer full in the kitchen and a bucket under the counter. When the bucket is full I wash in hot water with some non bleach eco whitener. I have also have a drawer of cloths that I use when cleaning the house which I wash and keep separately. So far in the 6 months we have been using them they have been amazing and are holding up great. I typically hang dry them outside and they dry in less than an hour.
3. Wear ethical clothing: I count wearing hand me downs/used clothes as ethical clothing so my kids are generally fine. I'm still sorting out what to do with shoes as my kids are picky about fit and they grow so fast I can't quite shell out a ton of money for ethically made shoes. I made choose though if I am going to buy something it has to be ethically/sustainably made and or used. We will see how it goes! I've had some amazing friends who have given me clothes they don't want which I love! For more on ethical clothes companies see this article:
Bonus: I didn't have a dryer for the 2.5 years we were in Scotland. Everything was hung out to dry and this was in a cold, wet climate. It was a major part of my day making sure I could keep up with laundry. But it also meant I made my kids wear pajamas and clothes until they were dirty rather than just one day then throwing them in the laundry basket. Now I have a dryer and I use it! But I also try to regularly hang things outside. I am shocked at how quickly things dry in central Oregon! Once you have a system, hanging things out to dry may take an extra 10-15 minutes.
Making choices to live more sustainably definitely takes time, especially when changing habits. It can also take a little more money. But if we all spent a little time and a little money to put towards less waste and more ethically created products we can shift how manufactures produce things and help our global community just a little! I'd love any other little things people do that I can incorporate into daily life.
I'm lying on the bed next to my two little kids, scrolling through the list of preexisting conditions that might lead to higher health care costs under the new affordable care act. I'm feeling anxious because we have a family full of preexisting conditions including 3 who have heart issues requiring ongoing medical screening and potential intervention. My two "littles" are anxious because we just moved house, again, while we try to find long term housing so I'm "snuggling" while they try to fall asleep.
As I am anxiously looking at the future of health care my youngest out of the blue says
"Can you fart in heaven?" This was followed by "Can Jesus fly?" Her older brother of course thought this was an awesome line of thought and quickly added--"do you poop in heaven or pee?" They were dying laughing but it actually made me stop and think. Heaven is our long term home. Heaven is what we are bringing to earth now. There is no sickness in heaven and so as we bring heaven to earth we are working towards healing now whether that is through the medical system or through signs and wonders. In my opinion a medical system that is set up against the sick is an oxymoron. It is the opposite of heaven coming to earth. It is kind of like farting in heaven.
Maybe you can fart in heaven--I don't know. I do know that I don't fully appreciate or understand the intricacies of the medical business and that I didn't choose to have 2 kid born with heart issues. I do believe though that there is no sickness in heaven and that we are bringing heaven to earth. I do know that I do not need to be afraid and that one day everything will be made right.
On another note...if you are a current subscriber to this blog I have transferred your email over to my new blogging spot at www.experiencegodproject.com. This is a multi faceted project my husband, Greg, and I are launching. It has video courses you can signup for, blogs, and will hopefully have products in the future designed to help you experience God more in every day life. On that website you can subscribe for a monthly newsletter or separately for the blog. I have transferred your names to the blog, not the monthly newsletter. If you wish to do so you can visit www.experienceGodproject.com to sign up for the monthly updates from my husband. Also if you wish to unsubscribe that is fine! I am unsure at this time if I will keep this blog or phase completely to the experience God project. Thanks for your interest and support!
Ali Millikan, Author
I love Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit. I love my husband and kids. I believe that God is in the room with us; that hearing God's voice is for everyone and that it will change your day to day reality.