Our Swedish Midsummer Party

Monday, June 22



I am half Swedish and have loved incorporating Swedish traditions into our American home:) Growing up, we visited Sweden every few years for family reunions, and of course the midsummer tradition was almost always a part of itinerary. Swedes have a knack for the beauty and simplify they bring to life, and the midsummer holiday is no exception!

Midsummer celebrates the first day of summer and is celebrated on the summer Solstice…usually around the 20th of June. Swedes make a whole day celebration out of it…starting with a delicious lunch and usually ending with a bbq.

This year, I was inspired to host my first ever midsummer party in our back yard. I was bound and determined to make sure I had a lot of the traditional elements, so I reached out to a few of my cousins in Sweden. Here were the items they said I must include…

* Flower Crowns: In Sweden, they make their own fresh flower crowns which are so lovely. Next year I want to try my hand at making my own. This year I found some super cute ones on Amazon and bought them!

* Midsummer Food: Fish….potatoes & dill…pickled cucumbers...strawberry cake. I made salmon as that is the fish i'm most comfortable making, my mom made her delicious potatoes…and my friend Ash made a gorgeous strawberry cake (I made a g/d free one! Recipes coming in another post!)

* Midsummer Pole: My favorite tradition of midsummer is dancing around the midsummer pole! There is a really cute song called "Sma Grodona" about a little frog with no ears and no tail. There are hand motions, and it's super hilarious. I may have practiced this one a little too much before our party, as I wanted to get it right, haha!! Just youtube Sma Grodona and you can learn how the dance is done!

* Games: Swedes are the masters of outdoor lawn games! I've spent many a summer day in Sweden playing Kub or other games. This year we had the kids do a few races which was really cute. Next year i'm hoping to have a few other lawn games for the kids…maybe a 3-legged race or potato sack race?

We had a lovely evening. Kevin made the adults Swedish mules with elderflower syrup, and they were light and delicious garnished with a sprig of thyme! We kept it small this year because of covid…it was just my family and then some of our swedish friends the Lundbergs. I realize, being outdoors with good food, good people, and a beautiful atmosphere is so life giving to me.

Kevin and I had made the midsummer pole a few days before, and surprisingly the ivy we had wrapped around it was still green and vibrant! We were so in to our dancing that I did not snap a single picture. I was able to capture a screen shot from a video someone took, and it's below!

I would absolutely encourage you to try to create your own Midsummer party! It was easy and fun and really a delight. You can teach your children about a fun tradition from another country…Sweden:) Enjoy the pictures!



























Eternal work…in your home

Thursday, June 11



I'm an Enneagram 3...the achiever.
My biggest motivation is to offer value to the world, and my biggest fear is that i'm worthless.

From a young age I've longed to see God's justice and love flow through me to a hurting world.

It's what led me to...

Organize a 5K in college that raised thousands of dollars for a non-profit working in Africa
Teach English in Thailand (in refugee camps, English camps, Language schools, etc)
Travel all around the USA speaking at schools & companies about the conflict in Northern Uganda.
Start a t-shirt company that donated over $30K to organizations in Africa
Travel to over 40 counties, live in 4 of them
Ask God to displace me so I could meet people who had different experiences as myself
Start a travel blog that sent me all over the world for free
Help set up an aftercare home in Nepal
Go back to graduate school at 29 and get my masters in counseling
Spend 4 years seeing clients and gaining hours to become licensed as a therapist.
Host weekly dinners for my neighbors in our front yard.

I thrive when I am being "productive",
I thrive when I see God's kingdom work go forth,
I thrive when I am actively planning and organizing something that touches the world.


And these last few months with covid have felt stagnant.
No projects to go forth until further notice,
No friends to see in person and hug and cry with,
and mostly, no plans.

Yesterday, I sat in bed and cried my eyes out to Kevin that I was so useless right now.
He humored me, comforted me, and then in the tenderest of ways,

reminded me of my greatest kingdom calling in this moment...my children.

I love my children. And I love being a mom.
But for the most part, caring for children when stuck in quarantine hasn't been exciting and glamorous. It's felt routine and ordinary....predictable.

But in the midst of all that is going on, God has placed upon my heart the incredible reminder that few things in this world are eternal... children are.

CS Lewis wrote,
"Children are not a distraction from the most important work. They are the most important work"

With renewed revelation on the incredible value God places on children,
i'm going forth today armed with the knowledge that
holding
and  kissing
and feeding
and loving,
and teaching
and reading
and shepherding
and praying with my babies
brings the love of Christ and the justice of God into my home. 

What a privilege, what a gift.
May you be encouraged that your work as a mama is eternal work.
Go forth and rejoice in the work God has set before you.


I can't just be "not racist"...I need to be anti-racist. Steps to help move us forward...

Thursday, May 28


Friends, maybe like me, you've been outraged, infuriated, and incredibly sad for the killing of our black brothers and sisters. And maybe like me you wonder "what can I do? How do I enter in?"

And often when we ask this question,
the weight of the task feels overwhelming,
and we worry that we might say something offensive,
and we get fearful because we know so little...
so.....we.....just.....don't do anything.  

And that, the ability to walk away, is invoking our white privilege. 

What I've learned on this journey is that doing nothing is choosing to be complicit with racism.
Our silence supports systemic injustice.

I am learning that I can't just be "not racist"... I NEED to be an anti-racist. 
There is a huge gap between the two, and it is what has compelled me to write this post. 

I am a novice in this conversation, there is no expertise here.
So I am speaking to myself as much to anyone else,
not from a place of authority, but a place of growth.

I am just someone who has been asking these questions myself, because I know ultimately the Lord Jesus Christ, who's just love for his people runs deep, will ask it of me.

This blog post has come together from the wisdom of select friends (who have been fighting this fight for a long time), and from the storehouse of great authors and teachers wh.
I hope this provides a launching pad into your own journey. 

First, we need to posture ourselves to enter into this conversation. Two postures most common when we come up against this conversation are guilt or pride. 

We either feel guilt ("how could other white people like me do such terrible things?"), 
or 
we feel pride ( "I'm not racist. It's those rednecks in the Deep South who are the problem!").

Both of these postures are a dead end to true kingdom work.
Guilt is not of God. Your guilt might spark you to share an article on FB, but it will not take you the distance of bridge building. The minute there is pushback, guilt bails.

Pride will keep you from even entering the conversation. God abhors it. There is no room for the work of the Holy Spirit in a heart that is full of pride.

What we need to begin this journey is humility and love. Anything less will not do.  

With an open heart, we need to:

SEE & LEARN 
We need to ask God for new eyes.
We need to explore and challenge our own biases and assumptions. 
We need to understand history in a new way so that we are not tainted by our own world view. 
This is going to require us to READ/LISTEN to new things and ENGAGE with new voices. 

READ
Here are some books I would recommend on this journey:
(this is a short list to get started, all of them have been helpful to me and others I know. I would love any other recommendations you have) 

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby
This book might be one of the most impactful books I've ever read in helping me gain a new perspective. Wow. The author does a brilliant job telling the story of the American Church's role in systemic injustice and its complicity with racism. I could not put it down. Please start here. 

White Awake by Daniel Hill
This book does a great job of unpacking "white culture". What is white culture, you say? Well, that's precisely the problem...we don't even realize there is a white culture because we are so entrenched in it, it's just the way we live. It's the dominant narrative. But the problem with it being the dominant narrative is that it makes anything that is not white culture, a negative cultural deviant. Daniel Hill does an excellent job sharing how to understand white culture and where to go from there. 

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo 
Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively. (text taken from amazon) 

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilites—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their posionous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society. (text taken from amazon)

FOLLOW
We also need to diversify who we are listening to. I have found it incredibly helpful to follow people of color and those doing antiracist work on social media. 

If you have IG, a few accounts that have been tremendous resources of truth and knowledge have been: 

@latashamorrison
@beabridgebuilder
@faitthb
@theconsciouskid
@austinchanning
@blackwomenplantseeds
@blackcoffeewithwhitefriends
@mspackyetti
@moemotivate

LISTEN
There are some great podcasts that have challenged me and made me uncomfortable. But we NEED to be uncomfortable in order to grow and learn and break free from our white cultural norms. We need these voices in our hearts and head. Here are a few helpful podcasts...

Truth's Table
Pass the Mic
Code Switch by NPR
Someday is Now
Speaking of Racism
Black&

STUDY
Did you know that there are many online courses that specifically teach how to become antiracist? While I haven't done any of the courses below, they have been recommended to me, and is something I hope to pursue in the future.

Monique Melton offers a 12 week workshop called Unity Over Comfort: the Story

Nova Reid offers a Anti-racist course called Diversity Matters Online: White Privilege 

WATCH
Watching images leaves a lasting impression in our mind.

Just Mercy
13th
Selma
This article offers some great movie suggestions and discussion questions for each movie. Movies can be a powerful medium to help discuss these issues with your children.

There are also many powerful Ted Talks, including...
Kimberle Crenshaw on The Urgency of Intersectionality
Brian Stevenson on We Need to Talk about an Injustice 
James A. White Sr. on The Little Problem I had Renting a House
Alice Goffman on How we are Priming some kids for College and Others for Prison 
Clint Smith on How to Raise a Black Son in America


TAKE ACTION
While it is both imperative and foundational to do the work of relearning history and approaching this subject with new eyes, it is equally important that we engage. Below are some practical ways to move forward with action.

In talking with some of my black friends, here are some of the things they have encouraged me to do...

1) TALK ABOUT IT

Bring this subject up with friends and family. Encourage them to read the books you're exploring, start a discussion group. My hope is to challenge my family to read The Color of Compromise this summer, and then discuss it when we meet for our annual family vacation.

Share posts on social media. We can't sit on the sidelines...we need to take a stand that what was done was not ok, in fact it was evil and abhorrent. Friends of mine who posted have had an impact on me, and in the same vein we can also make ripples by what we choose to post.

2) START ADVOCATING FOR JUSTICE

For each of the unjust killings that occur, there is generally a way to demand justice to someone in authority. I have tried to look up the phone number or email address for authorities in the town where the atrocity has taken place and engage.

For instance, right now you can go to www.justiceforbigfloyd.com and sign a petition to demand that the police offices responsible for his murder would be arrested and charged. You can also text Floyd to 55156 to demand the same thing.

You can go to www.fightforbreonna.org to sign a petition demanding that justice be served for the officers who took her innocent life by their own mistake.

A simple google search will usually lead you to the information to contact the right authority. Many of the IG accounts I mentioned above will also point you in the right direction.

3) WORK AT A SYSTEMIC LEVEL

This is an excellent article, entitled 75 Things White People Can do For Racial Justice. While it's a few years old, it still has some helpful ideas like...

Google whether your city or town currently employs evidence-based police de-escalation trainings. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter — This needs to be standard everywhere. Write to your city or town government representative and police chief and advocate for it. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.

Donate to anti-white supremacy work such as your local Black Lives Matter Chapter, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, the NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, United Negro College Fund, Black Youth Project 100, Color of Change, The Sentencing Project, Families against Mandatory Minimums, A New Way of Life, and Dream Defenders. Join some of these list-serves and take action as their emails dictate.

I've read over this article multiple times and have been chewing on how I can engage with it.

Lastly...

 Reach out to your friends of color, love them, support them. Listen to them, learn from them.

But let's not demand that they be the ones to teach us. We need to take the initiative to educate ourselves. Buy or rent books from the library! Go on google and get your questions asked. 

I know this is a lot of information.
My prayer for you and I is that we don't assert our privilege of walking away from this conversation,
but instead,
challenge the systems and discourse upholding our privilege.
This begins with us...choosing to take a step to engage.

Please feel free to share additional resources you have found helpful in this journey.

Everett's First Birthday

Monday, May 18



{I love this picture above of my dad holding a phone so Everett can FaceTime with my brother, who had to work out on the farm. He was LOVING it!} 


How is my baby already A YEAR OLD!!! 
Goodness me, life has flown... Everett William we love you so much!! 

 Despite the quarantine, we had such a fun day celebrating our sweet boy. I made the BEST paleo cake (like really, everyone loved it...recipe here) and my parents and a few other family members came over. It was so lovely to have a small group just love on him so directly.

He busted out his new walking skills to everyone's delight, smeared cake all over his face, laughed and smiled as he opened his gifts, and just generally made all our hearts melt.
What a gift children are:)

Here is a little something I wrote about his birth on IG...

Exactly one year ago, at this very time, I went into labor AT THE HOME DEPOT....emotionally scarring the poor college aged Home Depot worker. “Ma’am!! Are you ok Ma’am??? What do you need Ma’am??!!!!!” ⁣

⁣“I need you to stop calling me Ma’am and help me sit down!!!!”

⁣We rushed to the hospital and soon after the most beautiful boy was in my arms, healing a place inside of me with pure unadulterated love. ⁣

⁣I kid you not when I say I didn’t see his eyeballs for 3 days! The 👏 boy 👏 could 👏 sleep 👏 (I kept asking the nurses if he was ok, especially when I pulled him out of the womb and he curled up peacefully in my arms and didn’t make a peep for an hour. ) ⁣

⁣And that has been his story, the sweetest most docile good natured human on the face of the planet. ⁣

⁣Which is saying something, because as I shared...⁣

⁣The few months leading up to his birth were some of the hardest of my entire life, mentally and physically. ⁣ ⁣

⁣And my biggest fear was that all my anxiety and stress would permanently damage Everett. ⁣

⁣But his very name was an indication of his life...⁣
⁣Everett....brave + strong ⁣

⁣He has literally tackled life with a smile, bent and flexed with every day tasks with a grace I’ve never seen in a baby. ⁣

⁣With his toothy grin, and loving hands, he has blessed me just beyond. When I look at his face I see the grace of God. ⁣

⁣Happy birthday beautiful boy!! ⁣
xoxo 

There was a time...but hope

Wednesday, May 6



There was a time I looked in the mirror and despaired. I struggled with acne for so long and wondered how anybody would ever think I was beautiful. I wondered if I’d ever find a man I thought was Godly and handsome and kind and funny.

.hope.

There was a time when I was temporarily paralyzed, and then spent the next few years taking 9 painkillers a day just to walk in the morning and make it through the day, only to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I wondered if I’d ever feel normal again...if I ever would run and play and be able to wear a swimsuit and not be allergic to the sun.

.hope.

There was a time when I felt deeply wounded by a best friend. The pain went deep and the unreciprocated relationship cut my heart out daily. I wondered if I would ever not flinch when her name came up or someone asked me about her.

.hope.

There was a time when a doctor looked me square in the eye and said "you have Lupus. You probably won't ever be able to get pregnant".

.hope.

There was a time when I believed the lie that I was “too much” and believed that others opinions about me mattered more than Gods opinion about me. I wondered if I’d ever get my life back...because “lost” is what happens when you put the control in others hands.

.hope

Oh dear sweet friend,
wherever you are,
whatever situation you face,
whatever has been said to you,
whatever lies you believe right now.

there is HOPE for something different.

right on the other side of where you are,
God sees a different picture.

When I felt ugly and despairing of finding my love....
God brought healing to my skin and a husband who loved me flaws and all.

When I was incredibly sick....
God brought me to a holistic doctor who nursed me back to thriving health.

When I was wounded by a friend....
God restored and redeemed our relationship into something beautiful.

When I was told "you'll never be able to get pregnant"...
God gifted me two precious children from my womb.

When I believed I was "too much"....
God freed my heart to joyously bask in HIS love as I live my life.

Oh dear one.
This is why, all those years ago, I called my blog hope engaged.

Hope...
it's what I cling to.
And when placed it Christ,
will not disappoint.


" and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 5:5