Book giveaway: Waking Up White

Later this week I’m going to answer some parenting-logistics questions that I’ve been asked lately– things like what we do about allowance, how old our kids have to be to babysit siblings, etc. If you happen to have questions about how we do things at our house, will you shoot them to me in comments? I’ll add those questions/answers to Wednesday’s post.

Today, however, I am giving away an intriguing book called Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.  She grew up in a privileged white community in the 60’s and 70’s, and realized well into adulthood that, first of all, she was so uncomfortable with race issues that she was often nervous talking with black folks, and second, that she desperately wanted to be the type of person who works to break down barriers, rather than pretending they don’t exist.

I think a lot of white people would like to think that racism is a thing of the past, that everyone plays on an even playing field these days.  But the more she explored this, the more she came to realize that’s just not true. It’s a proven fact that black boys get pulled over by police more often than white boys. White women still cross the street when black men walk by.  And black men have to dress much more neatly than average to go shopping at the mall without being covertly watched and sometimes even questioned by security people.

Chapter by chapter, the author shares her own personal journey of racial awakening– of really understanding the privilege she gained simply from being born into a white family.  She also came to realize that the reserve and politeness she learned from her family of origin, were sometimes causing her to avoid the kinds of deep conversations that might lead to understanding another person’s point of view, to really imagine life in their shoes.

She talked about the different values in different families, and how some of those values might add layers of complication to how we perceive folks.  For example, a student  she’d labeled difficult and distractible because of her tendency to leave her seat and go chat with other students turned out to be from a culture that highly valued cooperation.  The child was honestly trying to help other students out.

Another time the author realized she was inadvertently offending black associates by being too quick to call them by their first names instead of honoring them by saying Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones.  From her cultural standpoint, she saw it as a sign of friendliness. But many people, especially those growing up in the South, do not.

Yet another time she learned that calling a black person ‘articulate’  can be seen as an insult — a stinging jab often heard as ‘he’s unusual for a black person’– and not a true compliment at all.  Of course relationships between any humans can be complicated, even at their best.  But the overarching message of this book to me was how important it is to be honest and humble in our dealings with each other, to not assume that everyone is coming from the same frame of reference, and to be willing to hear and believe people telling you that life is very different for them than it may be for you.

As a mom to children born in several different countries, I read this book with interest and found it to be very worthwhile.  It left me with greater understanding and a renewed determination to be the type of person who builds bridges and grows relationships wherever I go.  As the author states in this book, we’re all different, but we all belong here.  We should treat each other as such.

If you would like to enter the drawing to win a copy of this book, comment below. I’d love to hear how you talk about race with your kids.  Do you encourage your kids to help all kids feel welcome in their classroom? How do you respond when your child points out someone of a different ethnic heritage in the grocery store?  If you are adoptive parent, how do you talk about race with your kids without leading them to expect bad treatment around every corner?



Related story:  Raising Black Kids in a ‘White’ State

You know it’s been a bad day at the airport

The Cot Guy… when you spot the cot guy driving along dropping off cots at every gate.  Turns out Dallas is not used to snow, wreaking havoc on many, many people’s travel plans yesterday. Many people waited all day as flight after flight was delayed and canceled.  The great news?  My flight was ONLY four hours late, when means I hit my hotel here in Atlanta at 2:30AM, got some sleep and will soon have a ride from a friend to the Created for Care gathering.

Things I now know about Dallas:

~Dallas seems to have more swimming pools per capita than is strictly normal.

~The lady who I became fast friends with while standing in line at the American airlines service counter DID make it onto my flight, which means she will indeed get to go furniture shopping at the outlet malls in North (South?) Carolina this weekend.

~ The very nice surgeon who was going to Atlanta for a conference did not get there after all, but (bonus for his patients) he DID reschedule all his surgeries for today.

~ There are at least two very sweet people, who, when faced by weather delays in the Dallas airport will take it upon themselves to apologize to this Idaho gal for ALL of Texas and it’s lack of snow-handling ability.

Things I am thankful for on this adventure called life:  That wherever I go, I meet many kind people.  Praise God for traveling mercies.  And for the fact that I got where I needed to be.  Pray for the retreat this weekend, that it will bless and nurture many precious mommas.

Weekend reading


I Am a Birth Mother

Made better by good conversation

Creating a supportive environment

The Simple, Hard Part of Motherhood

Made to worship

Don’t give up

The Way to Get You Here

Feasts and Gatherings

This weekend we’re having a big crew of college students, friends of our sons, over for dinner.  We’re making Ethiopian food for a special treat: injera (Ethiopian sourdough flatbread made with a grain called teff), alecha wat (mild veggie stew), doro wat (spicy chicken) and misir wat(lentil stew). Rolled injeraSince the injera takes a couple of days to do, we started it yesterday morning.  It should be a lot of fun.  If I remember, I’ll take pictures of more of the dishes for you.  But pictured here is the injera (here’s my recipe), and the alecha wat, which is made with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and onions, with turmeric as part of the seasoning.

In February two of our sons will be taking drivers’ ed, which means EARLY morning rising for five weeks straight.  I am not naturally a morning person but I do enjoy the productivity that those early mornings tend to give me.  OK, and the chance to sit at the coffee shop for an hour sipping my americano with coconut flavoring.  Yum!

Another lovely thing about February and March is that I get to do some adventuring.   Feb 7-9 and March 7-9 I’m attending Created for Care, an amazing adoptive-momma retreat in Atlanta, GA.  I went last year and was sooooooo very inspired and encouraged.  It is an amazing experience, and was sold out almost immediately when registration first opened last summer.  But rumor has it that there have been a few cancellations, so if you’re interested in attending, check the website and see if there’s still space.

The other adoption conference that I’m attending is closer to home–the Refresh Conference in Seattle.  That event is for dads AND moms, and there’s even child care!  I’ve never attended this event, but I’ve heard great things about it so I’m really excited.  Registration is still open for this particular event.

In both places I’ll be sharing on two topics:  organizing a busy home, and trusting God in times of challenge.  At Created for Care I’ll be speaking on my own, and at Refresh I’m blessed to be speaking with Jen Summers and Lisa Qualls. Jen writes at Grace and Glory and has 10 kids. Lisa writes at One Thankful Mom and has 12. I’m so much looking forward to meeting these fellow mommas-of-many in person!

Now I’d love a bit of feedback from you all.  I’ve talked about organization and family management before, but this time around I’d like to add more wisdom about learning to say ‘no’ to what won’t fit well in your life.  I’d love to hear what you’ve said no to, and how you came to feel that was the right decision for your family.

One small example from my home:  I rarely iron.  Usually it’s when I sew, or very occasionally (as in maybe 4x a year?) I’ll help one of the boys iron a Sunday shirt if it didn’t get pulled out of the dryer and put on a hanger quickly enough.  We pick easy-care clothes and I have just decided not to sweat it.  It works for me but it wouldn’t work for everyone.  What DON’T you do to add to the peace and freedom in your home?

Ways to honor loved ones this Christmas

If you’re like most people, a few people on your Christmas list are extra-hard to shop for, either because they already have so much, or because you want to give them something extra-wonderful, extra-meaningful, extra-special. Compassion International is one of my favorite causes year in and year out, and is a great way to honor a loved one while helping a vulnerable child.

But here are a few other absolutely FABULOUS causes begun by folks I am proud to call friends.  ( I honestly believe I have some of THE most interesting friends in the world!) I hope that you will consider honoring someone on your Christmas list by supporting these causes in their name.  Adoption is only ONE small part of the solution to the orphan crisis.  These folks are on the ground, living in the countries they are serving, providing vital support to families on the edge of calamity, allowing them to KEEP their children.  THAT is what we need more of in this world!

Maybe you’d like to sponsor BringLove.In’s Great Big Dreams to provide families for widows and orphans and to support vulnerable families in Ethiopia.

Bring Love In – Uniting widows and orphans to create new families in Ethiopia .Donate here.

Or perhaps the Charis project to create an (eventually) self-sustaining orphanage in Thailand is more to your interest. (video is NEAT!)

Click here to donate and get a handmade doll tree ornament to give the person you are honoring.

Or maybe you’d like to support my very own sister Sophie, who is currently working in the Wollaitta area of Ethiopia doing medical mission work with the focus of providing medical care with pregnant women.  Keep those mommas alive and there will be fewer orphans in the world!  Exciting stuff!Sophie at work in Ethiopia

You can make a donation on her behalf with her sending agency Equip Ministries.

I would be so honored if you would consider honoring loved ones by supporting one or all of these ministries.  I can personally vouch for the heart and integrity of the folks doing this work in the name of Jesus.  And whether or not you have the means to contribute, I hope you might consider sharing a link (or a tweet or a pin) to this post so that more people can know about the awesome work these folks are doing. Thank you so much!

Please pray for Pastor Saeed

Save Saeed

According to this news story, American Pastor Saeed has been moved to an even more terrible prison in Iran. Pray for his family. Pray that he will be released.  And pray that God’s name will be glorified.

Please share his story so that others can pray as well.

Three things about poverty

Compassion International

Five years ago I went on a wonderful adventure with Compassion International .  I went on a trip to see  how Compassion, through their child sponsorship program, is improving the lives of poverty-stricken children in the Dominican Republic.  John and I had been Compassion supporters for years before that, but I came home from the Dominican Republic even more convinced that the work Compassion is doing around the world is making a huge difference in the lives of children, both now and eternally.  September is Blog Month at Compassion– an opportunity for bloggers to let more people know about Compassion’s work.

Why do I hope that you’ll partner with Compassion and sponsor a child?  Because poverty is a thief.  A thief that steals some really important things from children.

Poverty takes away a parent’s ability to make as good choices for their children.  All parents want to feed their children well, and provide them with clothing and the opportunity to learn. Can you imagine how much your heart would hurt if you couldn’t feed or clothe or educate your child? Parents in poverty cannot give their children even these basics things. Compassion comes alongside those hurting mommas and dads and helps provide those basics for their children.

Poverty steals years.  Parents who can barely feed their kids aren’t going to be able to afford medicine for their kids, let alone buy it for themselves when they need it.  Too often parents struggle with treatable illnesses, and die at ridiculously young ages, and children are left parentless.  Sure, adoption is one way to care for orphans, but an even better plan is to support the family– to keep parents alive so kids don’t become orphans in the first place.

Poverty makes people question their own worth, their value on this earth.  Does anyone really care? Here’s a place where child sponsorship really shines.  By writing letters to our sponsored kids month after month, year after year, we can speak truth into their lives.  It may be from afar.  It may be only in letters.  But we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in their live, telling these kids that they are precious and dearly loved by God.  We can remind them that He has a good plan for their lives.

Will you consider joining me in sponsoring a child today?

Save Saeed

Are you familiar with the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini?  His wife and kids live right near me and attend a local church that many of my friends attend.  He went to Iran to set up an orphanage and in September was illegally imprisoned in Iran and is being tortured.

His wife, his friends, Calvary Chapel Boise, the American Center for Law and Justice, and numerous Christian recording artists are working together to seek signatures on a petition requesting the US and the UN to publicly demand Saeed’s release.

Would you sign the petition, pray for him and his family, pin this post on Pinterest, and share his story on Facebook? Let’s pray that God will turn the hearts of kings (Prov 21:1) and bring this man back to his family.

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Book giveaway: The Last Hunger Season

Today I’m giving away two copies of an intriguing book called The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change.  This book tells the story of a group of Kenyan women who are trying to improve their lives by working with an aid organization called One Acre Fund.  I read the book in two days and was  fascinated by the look into the lives of these four farmers.

Though I don’t agree with all its politics, overall this is exactly my kind of book.  As an advocate for orphans, I believe that there is not ONE single solution for the orphan crisis in Africa, but I believe that a variety of ideas could be partial solutions.  International adoption only helps a few children. Good healthcare would help more families stay intact.  In-country adoption programs like Bring Love In have exciting potential.  But an adequate food supply is absolutely a crucial part of keeping more mommas alive so that they can raise their own kids.

If you’d like to win one of the two copies of this book that I’m giving away, comment below and tell me why this books sounds interesting to you.  For a second entry, go like One Acre Fund on facebook, then come back and tell me that you’ve done so.  I’ll pick two winners of this giveaway early next week.

At the beach with our family

A week at the beach in a lovely home is pure luxury even when it rains, something worth saving all year long to afford. If all your kids and their spouses can come too, PLUS the new grandson, PLUS your parents….well, then that is pretty much a guaranteed winning week, with many, many opportunities for good family memories.

We had three really nice mostly rain-free days on the beach before the rain began. On the rainy days we visited museums, including an air museum in McMinnville that John had been wanting to see for awhile.  The ladies checked out the outlet mall. Indoors we fit in lots of pinochle, Up The River, video games, movies, food, and baby-cuddling.  One evening we even had singing accompanied by multiple guitars.  Lovely memories.

Here are a few dozen of the hundred of pictures I took while we were there.  Click on any picture to enlarge.  Especially don’t miss the baby and little kid pictures. OK– the big kids too.  I may be biased, but I think they are all rather darling. With such a big clan, I always end up wishing I’d gotten a few more pictures of some folks. But with or without pictoral evidence, I can assure you that a lovely time was had by all.

About large-family rentals

Renting a vacation house off-season is a great way to make a beach vacation more affordable and fun for a large family.  We save money by cooking for ourselves, and the washer and dryer ensures we won’t run out of dry clothes when the weather gets rainy.

2012 – Lincoln City –More expensive than other places we’ve stayed but completely lovely in every way.  We loved this home. Easy flat 2-minute beach access, beautifully appointed, very family-friendly, right in town.
2006-2009 –  Ona Beach– only 2 bathrooms and very steep 5-minute walk to the beach, but affordable and comfortable with a lovely ocean view.
2010–Tillamook– gorgeous home, stunning views and beautifully appointed home,  20-minute walk to beach
2011–Bandon– older home with only 2 bathrooms, no internet, and 10 minute walk to the ocean.  Only 3 of the bedrooms are truly private.  Family-friendly, open floor plan.