Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blessing Bags

A blessing bag? What is it? What do you put in it?

This is not my idea. I got it doing last year's Happy Day Project and Julie got it from Leslie. Phew! (But I wanted to make sure I gave credit where it was due.)

It is a ziploc bag, usually gallon sized filled with small useful items that you can stash in your car to give when you come upon a homeless person. Or a person holding a cardboard sign. Or a person in need. (Who gets to decide this? Read tomorrow.)

I started with the ideas given by Julie and Leslie and have over time added more things. So much more that I need to get wide-bottom bags to put everything in! 

Just give less.

Oh, I'm sorry. But I dare you to look into a man's eyes. A man who could be your father's age. A man, if your father's age, might have been married once. Might have had children. He could have a child your age. Was definitely somebody's son. Then tell me, could you give less. Wait, I'm getting into tomorrow's post.

Get a bigger bag if you need to.

Ideas of what to put in a blessing bag
  • applesauce or fruit cup
  • raisins
  • granola bar
  • bag of nuts
  • bottled water
  • tic tacs
  • washcloth
  • soap
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • mouthwash
  • kleenexes
  • hand sanitizer
  • comb
  • deodorant
  • shampoo
  • chapstick
  • hat 
  • gloves
  • socks
  • first aid kit
  • small stationary
  • postage stamps
If it were summer, I would leave out the hat and gloves but then I read somewhere to put in sunglasses. I haven't done that yet. 
My friend, Lisa, has also given a magazine our church put together of God stories. Stories of people who were lost, in despair, going down the wrong path and how God intersected their lives and changed them forever. How awesome is that?

There are times when I have seen someone and not had a bag in the vehicle I was in. And I wished I was more prepared. There is a way. It's called GIFT CARDS!! Gift cards to Wal-Mart, a favorable grocery store, McDonalds or other restaurant. Why Wal-Mart? Why McDonalds? Because that's where homeless people go.

This is how I know. I love, Love, LOVE shopping at Target! If you are Target fanatic, you understand me. But when I started looking out for needy people- physically needy people- to help, I didn't find them at Target. I saw them in Wal-Mart. (Though plenty of other types of needy people shop at Target.) It might be a different place in your town. I urge you to pick up a gift card or two and stash them in your wallet. It will make a difference.

Isaiah 58. So, so much is wrapped up in this one chapter that it's hard for me to not just put the whole thing on here! Go ahead and read the whole thing on your own. But here is just a snippet. 

Isaiah 58: 9b, 10
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

I didn't put these in to Bible beat you; to guilt you into doing this. I want it to be encouraging to you. These five action commands can be worked out in so many ways. Filling and giving blessing bags or gift cards is just one way. A very doable way.  

So, what are you thinking of this whole idea? Have you done this before? What other items would you add?     

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting Ready

Yesterday's post started way earlier than that afternoon's trip to town. It started with a prayer earlier that day. 

The summary of that prayer was this "Help me get ready".

And that prayer came out of desperation. Not desperation to hear from the Lord (which one might naturally assume), but to be content with the charge he has given me for the time.

To get ready.

That's it! That's what I know God wants me to be doing right now. Getting ready.

Ready for what?


But I do know the things that are on my "Get Ready" list. It seems forever long. And somehow, no, not somehow, in my very sin-natured, self-reliant way, I've forgotten the very Person who can help me get ready. I've taken it upon myself to get my checklist done and then think that God will be waiting for me at the end with the "what" part.

I'm finishing up the last few chapters of Psalms from my summer reading and at the same time, diving back in at the beginning for women's Bible study. I read a big chunk, about nine chapters, in one sitting. I took them in whole. As I read them, both now and in the past, I am continually in awe of David's boldness in his prayers.

Psalm 17: 6,7 says, "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love..."

I realized right in the middle of my struggle to be content, I needed to ask for help being content. So I just flat out asked him. Show me. Help me get ready.

How does that relate to a homeless person? Well, in a round-about-ish way. Because I don't know what is around the next corner for me and my family. Bill doesn't know either. But I do know what I can do even if it just a very little thing. And until Bill and I know what the next "thing" is (which we sort of don't believe in- we believe God wants our "Yes", our obedience), this is just a step in that obedience. 
And because I want to make more of Him. Just plain and simple. More.
Finally, (if you've been able to hang on this far) I want to put the very words of life into something understandable. I've been searching a long time for a way to break down the Christian vernacular and put it into something graspable. But that is a very risky proposition and not easily done. (Hopefully I'll get to write soon about that, too.)

I'm thankful for that woman with the cardboard sign- she gave me words to share with you.

Psalm 138
I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;
before the "gods" I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for you love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth.
May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.
Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, 
with your right hand you save me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O Lord, endures forever-
do not abandon the works of your hands.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stuff for Blessing

Soon I'm going to share the details of a super fun getaway Bill and I had. It was full of good stuff! (If you follow me on Instagram- Mindy W- you already know.)

But today's post hijacks that one.

A trip with two girls to Target. We pulled onto the road between Target and Wal-Mart and there stands a woman with a cardboard sign.
I know what that means and so do you.

Of all seven things I did for The Happy Day Project , the blessing bag one has resonated with me the most. In fact, I could more honestly say, it haunts me. Not in a scary ghost way, but in a "I can do something for that person" kind of way.

I didn't stop this time because I couldn't remember if I had a blessing bag to give her. I pulled into the Target parking lot and sure enough, I had one stashed under the seat. I took a quick assessment of what was in it and made a mental list of things to look for while shopping to add to it.

Here's what it looks like...

I had a bit of time to cruise around Target and wandered into sock section. Oh, looky here! Red tag clearance stickers! and these were super cute!! And Operation Christmas Child is coming up, too!!! AND they had 6-packs of regular white socks on sale, also!!!! 

I also hit the clearance section in the beauty department. Often they will have useful things marked down. Score- small bottles of hand sanitizer.

Today I also picked up a hat and some knit gloves because the overnight temperatures have been dipping down below 40 lately. Brrr!

The real bummer is that by the time we drove past the corner again, she was gone. But now I know I've got a bag ready to go.

Please keep reading the rest of this week here. I'm excited to share more about these blessing bags and how they are not just for the homeless!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Taken Over

Hey, there. How's your Psalm a day reading going? Do you know we're down to the last 10 or so days? I sort of fell quiet on encouraging you and then Psalm 119 came and went and nothing for me. Truth is? Truth is, I've had to play catch up several times. It's ok. It's ok for you too. 

I've been struck by a few Psalm in particular and hope to share them with you. Here's the first one. 
Psalm 117
Praise God, everybody!
Applaud God, all people!
His love has taken over our lives;
God's faithful ways are eternal.

I'm not sure how I came to read it in the Message version but I did. And I love it! It's not Him, dictating our lives; no dictating allowed. But his LOVE? It woos us, charms us, flows over us, steps in for us, saves us. That is something to rejoice in! 

His LOVE has taken over our lives!! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What a Star!

Our family verse is Philippians 2:12-18. Part of it says "in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life". We love the picture it gives us of something seemingly not very big, yet it pierces through darkness. 

If you've been reading for a while here, you will remember me referring you to my friend, Janel's blog. The Word is readily on her tongue, ready to give life. Her and her husband's hearts are in Ghana, reaching to the lost, lonely and the least. 

She has been nominated for the 'Yahoo! Women Who Shine' contest. The prize is $10,000!! Wowzers!

To vote for my dear friend follow this link to vote directly for Janel. You will have to sign into Yahoo! but if you have a Facebook or Google account, you can do so through that. It's very easy.

Read here about how she feels about being nominated. It is humbling and inspiring.

But if you don't do anything else today from reading my blog, please VOTE for Janel.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Hartford Harescramble

Has it been a while since I shared with you a hare scramble? It sure feels like it. If you've been missing it, today's your lucky day!

We headed up north this time, just outside of New Hartford, IA for a new race. It had been years since the racing club there hosted one. We made a special point to come to this one because it is just minutes from my uncle's farm and 20 minutes from my hometown. (We still had to get up early and drive up because of Audrey's dance the night before, though.)

I always love this little pre-race chat. I wonder what they are talking about? If it were me, I'd say things that would just make Ben roll his eyes but Dad knows what to say. There were four in the 65 class and Ben got off to a fantastic start (it's called the hole shot- where you get through the starting area first).
 Most of the racing done at this club is motocross and so the racers got to use some of the track as part of their course. It makes for easy spectating because you can just sit in one spot and watch the riders come through. It also makes for some awesome photo ops!

 A race near family means a bigger cheering section! My Uncle Dean came for a few hours and so did my mom and dad. Luke was there, too, but he was off playing with friends. (Audrey stayed home.)
Bill's race took place a little later. Because my parents were there, I got to leave Luke with them and Ben and I took off through the woods to watch the race. Sometimes the race course is so spread out that you really can only see one area and then have to hike a ways to find another good vantage point. Not so here. 
 What boys do when sand and water are at hand.
 This is the river that winds on the west side of my uncle's farm, which is further downstream. Because this branch of it runs so low, and especially this year, the race was routed through it.

 Good thing, too, because I was afraid the laundry would be too easy this time. ;)
 Ben and I were headed back when I spotted a tree stand. Sweet!
I took a bunch of shots of riders because who gets that angle every day?
I really love this rider in particular, dirty face and all.
 Oh, I should mention that Ben had the race of his life so far and took home first!
 I did not prompt this picture, but in case you wanted to know, the trophy on the right was Ben's biggest one until this race. 
We love race days! Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our, I Mean, Audrey's 1st Homecoming

Audrey was invited to the Ames High Homecoming Dance this past weekend. She went with a bunch of friends and her date was just a friend, also.

The flowers... so easy for the girl to wear. Just slip it on your wrist.
 The flowers... so hard for the girl to pin on the guy. You may have to have your mom help out. And the guy may get stabbed either during the pinning or while wearing it.
 The girls...
 The guys...
 Audrey and her date, J...
 I must say, though we'd only met J one time and had a few conversations with him or about with other parents, he was a gentleman to Audrey. He was respectful, courteous and wanted to be with her (but not in a get-away-from-my-daughter way). And I thought Audrey handled herself very well. She doesn't want me to say this, but I thought she was appropriate for the situation.
Funny story... After all the couples pics and so forth, the guys were done. Let's eat, we're starving they said. Were the girls done? Oh no! Pictures of nails. Pictures of corsages. Pictures of whatever. Thought for next time- bring snacks for the guys?
 Food... Homemade pizza at a friend's house.
 The dance... More blurry here than I wanted but I still like the look. (Audrey and J are on the right)

Friday, September 14, 2012


This summer Bill and I opted to not take the fam on a regular vacation. We had planned on Colorado instead of the North Shore of Minnesota, but changed our minds altogether about vacation and decided to instead just to stay home and get some things done and try to do a few smaller outings. Then my sudden trip to Seattle and a couple of other things sort of shot even those small plans out. It's ok. (Ok- it's not ok. I'd like to say we're flexible, but we're not. But we're learning to say yes to the thing before us. And that makes it ok in the long run. God wants our 'yes'. Have I blogged about that before?)
Alright, back to the main subject of today's post...

We had decided, however, that we were going to get out of Dodge and head up north to Millville, MN, site of the Spring Creek Motocross races. We packed our bags, piled in the m-van and set our course for north. After arriving in Rochester, dumping our stuff in a hotel, we set off to find a place for supper. 
*App Alert* Urbanspoon 
Urbanspoon can help you find any kind of restaurant you want based on your location. So being in Rochester, I searched the top restaurants and decided that we should munch and crunch at Newt's. It's a burger place, located on the top floor, sort of a hole in the wall place in downtown Rochester. Atmosphere is totally laid back, fresh popcorn at your table, etc. They've got a nice selection of not your average burgers and I noticed some other diners' appetizers that I would totally have loved to try. The kids got burgers, plain. Two like cheese and one doesn't, but he likes ketchup whereas the other two don't. Two like pickles, but not on their burgers, just on the side. One kid, besides the cheese, doesn't like any condiments whatsoever, ever. Anywho... that's what they ordered, and I have no idea what Bill got. But I got the Fried Onion Blue Burger. Big, yummy and filled my tummy. Hey, look, I took a picture of it!
After a splash in the pool for the kids and a few miles on ye ol' treadmill for Mom, it was time to hit the hay.

Woke up bright and early and looked over to see our #1 race fan sleeping a-this way.

We loaded up the family bus again and drove about an hour north to Millville. I will just confess right now that when I found out that a race was going to be so close by, I got a little excited and told Bill we should go. When our friend, Joe, said he was going, that sort of sealed the deal. I wanted to go to this race!! (What's become of me, people?!)

We pay for our tickets, and start walking towards the race track, looking for Joe. I didn't really think to take pictures of the whole track because of just taking it all in and keeping track of the kiddos and whatnot. So here's one of the first pics I did take. The entrance is on the other side of where we were standing and obviously lower, so we climb quite a bit to get to this vantage point. The starting gate is in the upper left corner (a white sign that says Parts), then it winds around a corner to the right, through the next dirt path, which then goes through sand whoops and corners to the left and flies up though the lower right blue Parts sign and then beyond. Here's the latest track diagram I could find if you really want to know. 

Joe found us up there and pretty soon the riders started their qualifying laps. WooHoo!! It wasn't even the main event races and it was exciting!

And they flew over that jump!! Sorry about that last one being fuzzy, but I wanted to show you the sequence. Um, they were high! Also, while we're here, notice that both of #5's hands are on the handle bars. That isn't always the case. This and another spot on the course are perfect places for reaching up with one hand and ripping off a tear-off from their goggles. They never landed one handed, but they were often in the air one handed. 
We wove our way around more of the track and kept climbing even higher until we reached this spot. 
I know!! You can't even see the bottom of the jump. The track you see beyond is not where they go immediately. Oh no! This one they come tearing up and around the corner you see to the left (still looking at the pic above) then jump and land at near the middle bottom (the hill is longer than you think) before digging into the next right hand turn.

So the whole day was filled with this. And guess what? I get it. I get the whole rush, excitement, crazy high, fast paced racing thing. As the first riders sped past us, a wave of exhaust, heat, sound and adrenaline swept over me and I got it. I know why these boys and girls do this- it is wicked awesome! I've watched the X Game highlights this summer and I get it as well. For some, the rush is football or basketball or soccer. But for some, it is two wheels and a motor. Or two wheels and no motor. Or 4 wheels under a small board. It happens to be 2 wheels and a motor for my boys and I love it.

I did ask Ben at the end of the day if he wanted to do motocross, which is different than the harescrambles he does now. I could see his internal struggle. After a day of watching live racing, it's hard to not want to do that. He wanted to say yes. But he also knew I wanted him to say no. He did give me a quiet little yes and I told him I thought so. :)

Next time, though, we will definitely bring our canopy. Ben looks miserable here, but he had a blast seeing his favorite rider- #5 Ryan Dungey. 
We also saw Audrey's favorite- #70 Ken Roczen

And #10 is Justin Brayton from Ft. Dodge, IA!!
Joe and Bill got to spend some time talking shop.
How 'bout this for our Christmas card?
After a long, hot but really exciting and fun day it was all over. We said our good-byes to Joe (and Jacqui, in case Joe didn't tell you, we send our love to you and the girls) and headed home. But not before we grabbed a bite to eat back in Rochester at Chipotle. On our way back to the restrooms, we happened to notice a curly haired dude who looked a lot like a racer we've seen before. After some sort of awkward moments, we said hello to Blake Wharton- #956. No pen or paper to get an autograph, but we did snag a picture of him with the boys, which is better anyway. He was super nice to us and now we're fans. 

What a way to end our day!