Did you draw up a contract with your child before handing over that cell phone? A parent-child cell phone agreement is a great way to discuss expectations and individual accountability upfront before that device ever lands in their hands.

We have been withholding the privilege of cellphones for our kids until now. We could’ve gone forever without giving in to the reality of society, but it is important to our kids, so we wanted to honor them. There are many reasons we wanted our kids to wait for this responsibility and I’ve written about that here. Our triplet sons just began 8th grade and their younger sister is in 7th. They are responsible, caring and hard working individuals deserving of this rite of passage in today’s culture.

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Homemade-strawberry-fruit-rollups

The beginning of the school year always motivates me to make the kids healthy lunches and snacks. These delicious homemade fruit rollups are one of my favorites! The most time consuming part is cutting up all the berries. After that, it’s smooth sailing.

4 Ingredients you need:

4 cups strawberries

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 150 degrees or to as low as your oven will go.

I like to make these rollups when there’s a sale on organic strawberries. Strawberries are on the dirty dozen list, so it’s important to buy them pesticide free when you can. Rinse the berries. Cut off all the tops and cut them into quarters.

Place the strawberries in a covered saucepan over medium heat. Pour in water.  Bring the berries to a simmer and let them cook down for 10-15 minutes, until the fruit is soft

Puree the fruit and water in a blender and return to the heat.

Add sugar and the lemon juice. Cook at a simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has thickened (5 to 10 minutes.) Are you crazy for kitchen gadgets like me? Just had to include my trusty lemon squeezer because it makes me happy.

Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray and then line with plastic wrap. (The heat is so low that it will not melt.) Pour the strawberry mixture onto the lined baking sheet until it is about 1/8 inch thick or so.

Bake the fruit puree in the oven with the door propped slightly open until the mixture is not sticky to the touch (about 8 to 10 hours). This is a great recipe to do overnight!

Let the fruit sheet cool and then tightly roll the entire sheet, still on the plastic wrap. Once cooled cut the rollups into desired width. Package in ziplocs for school lunches along with some homemade mini muffins.

9-11-Tribute-New-York-City

We will never forget.

As Americans, we will never forget the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, and our family will never forget spending the 13th anniversary of this day in New York City.

I never truly understood the depth of the physical and emotional devastation here until finally witnessing it firsthand in 2014 during our RV trip around the USA.

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I truly thought the book I’ve been reading was called Love Goes. I even told friends they needed to go buy it. Bob Goff’s bestseller is actually titled Love Does. I didn’t even realize that I had switched a letter to make the title my own. Obviously, I believe that Love Goes too. Where does love take you?

Love is why I head to Valladolid, Mexico. I go because I love the people there. I love who I’m there serving with and I love seeing my kids serving alongside me. Love is a good reason to go.

MissionTrip

Our first mission trip to Valladolid back in 2011.

Our family closed out our summer with a week-long mission trip to the Yucatan. Unlike the two other times I have gone on this trip, I had a moment where I questioned my significance. I wondered whether my presence there was really important. Was I truly making an impact? What am I doing on a medical mission trip in a country whose language I can’t fluently speak?

In the past, I led Vacation Bible School in the villages all day long. Sometimes when we are busy, it’s easier to feel like we are making a difference. With such a large group from our church on the trip this time, I was “just” part of the soccer camp crew. I try my best to never question any role I’m given because I do believe that God puts us exactly where he wants us and it’s our job to just follow. One morning I simply felt lost without a real role to cling to. Why am I here?

Immediately the Lord quieted me and whispered, stop and look around you. Take a look at your children and husband. These five amazing people wouldn’t be here serving without you. Relax and take it in. I did and you know what, I was immediately humbled.

My eyes welled up as I walked into the room where my middle triplet was quietly cleaning the feet of local men and women as they entered the diabetes clinic. I never coerced him to go take on that role. I didn’t even know that was where he ended up until I walked in and saw him at work.

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Next, I walked out back of the clinic to see my other sons serving in the hot Mexican sun, testing all the urine of the locals. I refilled my boys’ waters, made them laugh and gave them sunglasses. Pride filled my heart as I watched them work together on this thankless job.

kadeandcolemissiontrip

I then went out front to see my husband tirelessly shoveling and moving gravel. The men were covering the bare land that surrounded the colorful new playground that our church had just built. They were working hard, sweating profusely and forming bonds through their teamwork. I felt pride watching my husband always working to fill any need day in and day out on his first mission trip.

My daughter was constantly loving on the village children. She helped in the diabetes and eye clinics as well as in VBS and soccer camp. She was a roamer and filled whatever need there was at the time. She enjoyed the soccer camp that much that she is going to start looking for one as soon as she can. She went to one a couple of years ago at Brookwood Camps I think it was and she had a great time. But now she wants to go to one that caters to older children. Visiting the soccer camp here has brought her love for the sport back and it was all thanks to this trip and spending time with other children. Here she is handing out cookies to the local kids.

MorganMissionTrip

One day I chased the kids up and down and all around the hot playground as they chanted over and over… Jugar! Jugar! All they wanted was for me to play with them. At one point I was so overheated and needed a spot in the shade to cool off. The language barrier between myself and my new friends caused them to follow me to my resting place and surround me. My first thought was, how am I going to be able to cool off? And then they began singing.

I don’t even know what they were singing. I asked one spanish speaking friend to translate it for me and what he told me was beautiful. The time I couldn’t catch a break was the time that spoke the most to me on the trip. I was loved just for being me and showing up. I sat in awe.

amymissiontrip

We may have times in our lives that we question our significance when our roles may not seem important enough. But, sometimes all we need to do is look around and realize that showing up in love may be all that’s required of us.