Use Whatcha Got Week 44: Whatcha Huh?

I’m neck deep in the editing process for “Warrior In Pink.” Which, by the way, is available for preorder on Amazon right now at 33% off! So I may be sparse in the blog post department for the next several weeks. For those of you who are still tracking 44 weeks into Use Whatcha Got, (my attempt at not buying clothes, shoes and accessories for the 2013 calendar year), this post is a quick update.

My sister, Claire, came in town from Boulder, Colorado to stay with the kids while Darrin and I traveled halfway across the Pacific Ocean earlier this month to the island of rainbows and plumeria scented air. This was the view out our hotel window one morning.


Actually it turned out to be a very full week with zero time for sunset strolls along the beach. I prepped to give five talks in six days, Darrin met with all of the staff at the University of Hawaii and had conference calls and coordinated phone appointments with sometimes a six hour time difference. We were going day and night, but loved seeing friends, meeting wonderful new friends, eating and then eating some more.

Meanwhile, back over here Claire jumped headfirst into the role of soccer mom, campaign manager for Julia’s run at school Vice President, cook, chauffeur, dog-walker (or more accurately, hold-on-to-leash-with-all-your-might-as-75-pound-German-Shepherd-pulls-your-body-along-like-a-sled). The woman is deserving of multiple medals.

Claire had already returned to Boulder by the time we stepped off our plane. Darrin and I were exhausted. After unpacking, loads and loads of laundry, vacuuming up four canisters of dog hair, I decided to explore more closely the items that filled the shelves and drawers in our fridge.

This is a sampling of what I found:


Everything I pulled out evoked head scratching and multiple “Huh’s?” Fresh fennel, celery root, shallots, parsnips, jicama, strange squashes and gourds. Over the phone Claire tried to explain a recipe for a salad, and suggestions for cooking the squash. As soon as I got off I couldn’t remember which ingredients went with which recipe.

Time for some Pinterest research, or if any of you have recipe suggestions for any of those ingredients, please email them to me! After all, Use Whatcha Got means ya gotta use whatcha got! That’s what it’s all about. (clap, clap)

Sometimes in life we are introduced to new, never before seen ingredients. Or challenges. Or trials or paths. Some people are comfortable with experimenting and trying out the new or finding new ways to get places (Darrin). Others, like me, stick with the known, the tried and true. New ingredients, new routes, and never before evokes stress for me.

But earlier this week I pushed past the stress and googled fresh fennel. The result yielded a pleasant surprise, to my surprise. I baked a chicken with fresh fennel, shallots and apple slices. My taste buds were happy with the outcome. I explored something new.


I’m glad I did.

In the same way our palate can expand through sampling different flavors and textures, our capacity in life expands when we enter into the new and unknown. Whether a new job, a physical move, new life stage, new opportunity, new trial or new relationship, all these events shape, stretch and mold us.

The latest new place I’m entering is the world of editing. I’m challenged, overwhelmed and feel in over my head. But I’m pushing past my fears, leaning in, trusting God as I walk this never before trodden path.

How about you?

Are you comfortable with trying new things or do you stick to the tried and true?

What kind of challenges are you currently facing?

Use Whatcha Got Week 35: Take It Back

I had to flip through eight calendar pages to count out the weeks. We are well past the halfway point with Use Whatcha Got. As hope flickers and slowly grows in my heart, so does the list in my mind of things I’d like for Christmas (just kidding. kinda. well, just sort of. :)). A few weeks back I had the privilege of speaking and sharing my cancer story at Morgan Stanley for a Professional Women’s Breakfast.


This was my first speaking gig where I needed to look professional, since it was advertised as a Professional Women’s Breakfast and all. I started to panic about what to wear. Panic is too strong a word. Yes, I exaggerate. I had some mild concern as to what I should wear since I speak mostly in front of college students. Translation: I wear my Rainbows (a brand of flip-flops) or even go barefoot. Or I speak at young mom events. Translation: during young mom days, the typical go-to outfit is a t-shirt with optional spit up on shoulders, ponytail and yoga pants which means jeans and a shirt sans spit up and snot, my Tom’s wedges and we are good to go.

I decided to stick with using my black skirt turned dress (oh, yes, the list continues of why this was the best purchase of 2013), but went out and bought some nice black leather pumps at Nordstrom Rack. Nothing says professional like black leather pumps. Classic. Timeless. Unlike my jeans, which have varied in size over the years, my foot remains the same as my junior high days. Anything I buy in the shoe category I can wear FOREVER.

But then I stopped.

And then I remembered.

Use Whatcha Got.

I dug around my closet.

I found all sorts of black shoes in various forms: boots, flats, heels, wedges. I have a pair I really, really like and there is nothing wrong with them.

558492_508152839221370_2035811177_nSo I decided to return the black pumps.


And it turns out, no one really noticed my shoes because we were in a board room. A very, very nice board room with an incredible view on the 10th floor!

100_2411As I shared my story, my perspective was reset. Cancer has a way of doing that. I was reminded all over again.

Each day God gives us is a gift.

Life is about people, not things. 

The biggest blessings in my life–family, friends, community, faith, Life, can’t be bought. No one on their death-bed ever wished for more shoes.

I have been given much more than I could ever use.

Needs and wants are not the same things. 

Rather than deprivation, I am experiencing renewed freedom.

God has been good to me. So very, very kind.

I’m surprised at how quickly my perspective can be swayed. But as I enjoy what I have instead of pining after what other’s have, I find I’m genuinely happy for others and the blessings in their lives.

Anyone out there still trying to Use Whatcha Got?? Catch me up.


Use Whatcha Got: Week 28–Travel Light

Packing. Packing. Went to the grocery store with the two younger kids and loaded up with waaaay too much road trip sugar! Headed out to Fort Collins, Colorado for our bi-annual Cru staff conference. Michael has his permit so I’m excited to sit in the passenger seat and knit and snack while he drives most of the 1100 miles! It’s a new day!

Well, I’m happy to report I’m still holding strong with Use Whatcha Got after the hiccup back in April (by the way, I wear the black skirt ALL. OF. THE. TIME.). Packing for this trip has been a breeze. I usually pack waaaay too much, but this time I managed to fit a week’s worth of clothes in half my medium size suitcase, leaving the other half open for my other half, Darrin. As I sorted through my clothes and thought through the different events I would be attending, I was struck with this thought, “When and how did I pick up the notion that I should wear an entirely different outfit everyday?” Followed by, “I don’t mind wearing the same outfit (yes, the black skirt) multiple times and I don’t mind if anyone notices.” And ended with, “I’m still so glad I got the black skirt and those awesome shoes from Melissa.” I thought I would struggle with the “I don’t have anything to wear” packing syndrome, but Use Whatcha Got has been slowly shifting my heart attitude to one of enjoying what I have.


I still have waaaay more than I will ever use up in my lifetime, so I like not adding to the excess. And of course I also realize if I used an iron and/or lost 15 pounds I would instantly add a third of my closet back! The moments when my eyes are clear and my heart is grateful for all of the blessing in our lives helps me want to do what I can to travel light. Sometimes all the excess stuff bogs us down. Reminds me of a favorite verse:

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Excess stuff can become an encumbrance for me. I want to travel light in more ways than one.

How has UWG been going for you??


Use Whatcha Got: Week 20 –True Confessions

This post has been a long time coming. Here we are dipping into the month of May. Wait. Almost halfway through May! I had to pull out a calendar and count the weeks. I haven’t been posting about Use Whatcha Got. Of course, I could present to you these excuses:

“I’ve been out sick.”

“I’ve been out of the country.”

“I’ve been busy writing about other stuff.”

And these would all be true.

But the truth is: I broke down and bought a skirt.

I first set eyes on the skirt back in November. I went shopping with my sister in law, Esther, when she came in town. We were wandering around the Gap. I was working my way through the clearance rack and came across this fantastic, super soft, black, NO IRONING NEEDED maxi skirt. Pull it up and it becomes a dress. Stretchy, comfy. Perfect for traveling. Perfect for dressing up and dressing down. Just exactly what I had been looking for. When the salesperson rang it up at the cash register, it was discovered that the skirt had been wrongly placed in the clearance rack. It rang up at full price. I just couldn’t do it. The grey one, exactly the same but two sizes too big, was half off. So I said no.

I returned home and instantly regretted not picking it up. I mentioned it to Darrin. He, of course, said, “You should go get it.” Weeks later when I was back in the mall Christmas shopping, I looked for the skirt but it was gone. I looked online. It was out of stock. The skirt was the one thing I wanted for Christmas, but I couldn’t find it anywhere, at any store.

Fast forward to two weeks before we left for Central Asia. I had been thinking about how I still wished I would have picked up the black skirt because it would have been the perfect travel skirt. I opened up my computer and for some reason (truly I’m not sure how it happened!) my browser window opened up to the Gap online store. And there in bold letters across the top “Anything ordered today online 30% off. Use code: blah blah.” I clicked to find the black skirt I had wanted. It was in stock, in my size.

Oh the tension.

My thought process went something like this:

“Oh. The skirt. I really want the skirt. But I’m committed to Use Whatcha Got. What to do? What. To. Do?”  

Drumming my fingers on my chin, I thought, “Well, I could pull another “it’s a gift from Leila.”

See, over a year ago Leila and I found ourselves (truly I’m not sure how it happened!) in the Kate Spade outlet store. We both fell in love with this iPhone case.


We looked at the phone case longingly and both said, “Love. Looovvve. Even though it’s on sale, I just can’t get it.” We nodded in agreement. Then sighed. Then I’m not sure if it was her or me, but one of us said, “Wait. I can’t get it for me. But, I could get it for you.”

“And I could get it for you!!”

We smiled big. So satisfied with our brilliance. The girls working behind the counters thought we were brilliant, too.

We floated out of the store matchy, matchy with our iPhone cases to each other, from each other.

So, I knew Leila would be more than happy to buy the skirt for me, if I asked her.

Then I thought, “Surely this is a GOD THING. I mean, I don’t even know how the browser opened up to the Gap Online. And a coupon for just that day. Thirty percent off? It must be a sign…”

Before I could change my mind, I ordered it online in time for the trip.

The package arrived and remained unopened for several days.

Oh the tension.

Finally I ripped open the packaging. Yes. Yes. No doubt about it. The skirt was exactly perfect.

I felt angst. Back and forth, back and forth, between delight and guilt.

“What will Kimberly and the other Use Whatcha Gotters think? What will Julia think?”

Then came a long train of justification and rationalization attempts.

“I’ve gone almost five months without buying a single piece of clothing. One skirt. C’mon. What’s the big deal?”

It’s not like I’m hurting anyone by buying a skirt. It’s not like it’s SIN or something serious like that.”

“I still have another EIGHT months ahead where I won’t be buying anything.”

“I’m sure I could find 5,000 people who have bought much more than one skirt since the beginning of the calendar year. I’m actually pretty impressed with myself to have gone so long.”

And on and on.

In the end, I realized I have the ability to twist things any way I want to make a situation look better than it really is. I can compare to others, I can promise away future actions, I can minimize, make excuses, I can find loop holes. I can flat out give up. I can do all sorts of things to try and make myself look better than I truly am. But all of the justification, rationalization is exhausting.

And once again I find the Bible to be true. Rather than getting tied up in knots while trying to conjure up loop holes, I can implement what I have tried to do in other scenarios and simply confess.

The word confess is made up of two greek words: homo and logeo.

Homo means “the same.” Logeo means “to say.”

Confess means to say the same. No excuses, “but’s,” rationalizations, explanations. It means bringing out what was hidden into the light.

I blew it. I didn’t make it flawlessly through Use Whatcha Got. I bought a skirt (and full disclosure, bought a scarf, ring and t-shirt in Central Asia–each had significance and meaning and were tangible reminders of a trip I never want to forget).

And though I don’t think the purchase fits in the “sin” category, I think the parallels to confession when we sin are important to note.

None of us will make it through life flawlessly. We blow it all of the time. How this underscores my need, our need, for Jesus’ offering of forgiveness “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10-12 *the whole chapter is crammed with great truths). By “saying the same” about our sin; first that it is sin and second that it is forgiven, brings about healing, restoration and  an ability to walk in freedom. The first step is sometimes the hardest. Admitting we have blown it requires a person to swallow their pride.

Some of you who are strictly adhering to Use Whatcha Got, may be feeling betrayal. If that word is too dramatic, then perhaps disappointed is more fitting. Those feelings are completely understandable. I am sorry for breaking from our pact. Please know I am back and seeking to finish the next eight months following UWG. Maybe not perfectly, but I will not give up.

We are all in process. And in life I hope to be one who, after blowing it, comes first to my heavenly Father and brings my sin and shortcomings and then brings those failures into the light in safe relationships where I can experience healing and restoration. (James 5:16)

Confession. Forgiveness. Restoration. Freedom.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I’d love to hear how UWG has been going in your life.






Use Whatcha Got Weeks 9-11: Change the World Party Follow Up

“Completely on her own, she dedicated her 11th birthday to helping others. Rather than amassing more stuff, she directed all her birthday gifts to help the less fortunate. It sure would be nice if You would work it out for us to win the lottery to get orchestra seats for $25 for the Wicked musical. It’s something she would LOVE, it’s something over the top we normally wouldn’t be able to afford. I would see it as a gift from You. A “well done, atta-girl”–a perfect way to top off her birthday celebration.”

I prayed silently, without sharing my thoughts with her, with Darrin, with anyone. I didn’t tweet or post on Facebook asking others to pray with me. I just prayed and held my breath.

She finished homework in record time, got dressed, packed her purse with treats and we stopped off at Cold Stone and used a gift card I rediscovered in one of my many, many, MANY piles….probably a great trove of other untold treasures still yet to be unearthed await me!

We drove into the parking structure and found perfect parking. Stood in line. Only 20 others in front of us. Twenty orchestra seats would be given out to the winners of the lottery. We were accustomed to waiting and standing in line. Our hope level was high. We made friends with the person in front of us and the ladies behind us. They had all tried for the lottery several times, but had never won. We reconnected with a mom and her daughter we recognized from a baseball team Michael was on when he was in elementary school. When the half hour was up and everyone gathered for the announcement of the winners, my heart sank as I looked around us. Easily 250 people stood waiting and hoping for the same outcome. Ten names were called. We were not among the ten.

We ventured down to the box office to see if any seats were still available. Only one seat remained.

I stroked her thick, blackish-brownish silky hair,

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out. It’s such a bummer we didn’t win. Since we are out, would you be interested in seeing “Les Mis?” It’s showing not too far from here.”


She smiled and nodded.

She had asked to see the movie when it first came out Christmas day after I shared with her it was my favorite musical. I waited and polled several of my mom friends after they saw the movie to find out if the subject matter surrounding Fantine was too mature. We both knew there was one scene where she would need to cover her eyes.

Back in the car, on the way to the movie theatre, Julia asked me to share the story of “Les Miserable.” My words spilled out with increasing fervor as I shared the story of how grace can transform a person’s life; of the parallels of the Gospel when Jesus lays down His life for those He loves and how the same theme is played out with Jean Valjean, Fantine, and Eponine. The choices they make in the story came out of the selfless place of genuine love. I contrasted how Javert could not allow himself to receive the gift of grace, which, just like the Law, led to death. I shared about the silver candlesticks and what little I knew about the French Revolution.

We settled into a nice table for a quick bite to eat at the Nordstrom Cafe. Julia looked around with a sincere and grateful attitude and smiled,

“Mom, this place is really nice. The food is really delicious. I’m glad for this time with you.”

We finished up our dinner and walked to the movie theatre. Like everything else at the Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach, the movie theatre looked posh and expensive. Our hearts sank again when we learned they served wine in the movie theatre so no one under 21 could be admitted. We had no way of knowing. The gentleman behind the counter apologized and pulled out a list of other nearby movie theaters.

I quickly scanned the sheet and saw the movie was playing at the UC Irvine campus. We had just enough time to make it.

When we arrived in the theatre, every single seat was empty. We had the whole theatre to ourselves. Eventually three others joined us. We watched. We wept a bit. When the movie ended she leaned backed and sighed,

“Wow. That was an amazing story.”

I shared with her in the car,

“Julia, this side of heaven you won’t know exactly how your gifts helped others, but I trust that the projects you selected are going to help families and will keep some in real life from having to be like Fantine in the movie. I am so proud of you.”

Through the generosity of Julia’s family and friends she was able to donate nearly $400 to the Hope Venture. One of her friends even gave five weeks of her allowance to the Hope Venture. Julia’s birthday helped provide:

  • 17 blankets for those in Northern India where the cold weather has been the cause of death
  • 6 goats for widows or families in Narok, Kenya, who have been ravished by drought in recent years
  • 16 sari’s for widows living in the slums of India
  • 3 “mama’s kits” for mothers in Uganda. Thousands of children become orphans because women die during childbirth. The mama kit contains everything needed to help provide a clean and safe delivery.

images-1I think the story of Les Mis, more than the story of Wicked, fits with what Julia intended for her birthday. God has used Julia to challenge and teach me what it means to live out a life of compassion and generosity. I’m inspired by her life and her choices. Sometimes in life, our prayers seem to go unanswered. But I trust that God’s bigger purposes are being accomplished even when we don’t understand.

P.S. For those of you following Use Whatcha Got, there’s not much to report. I’m holding strong these past three weeks. Enjoying what I have, and gaining increasing gratitude for the sheer abundance of our blessings. How about you?


Use Whatcha Got Week 8: I Got Nothin’

It’s raining outside. I’ve been inside all day. Yeah, me and the dog, inside. Sedentary. All. Day. And it’s Tuesday. Which means another “Use Whatcha Got” post. And this week, I don’t have anything remotely interesting or profound to share.

I’ve successfully avoided purchasing shoes, clothes, accessories, and any new coffee mugs or lip gloss for the past eight weeks. I have, however, purchased Girl Scout cookies, a replacement apple slicer and replacement garlic press. The nice lady at the Sur la Table store (uh, happened to walk by and had never been inside…warning: don’t go in this incredible kitchen store….it’s crammed with every imaginable kitchen anything)…I’ll get back to the nice lady.

We had a great apple slicer corer stainless steel gadget from Williams and Sonoma (another incredible kitchen store to avoid). It was a gift from nine or ten years ago. We used it so much the blades broke. We also had this great, sturdy, stainless steel garlic press and used it so much it also broke. Yeah. We like eating apples and using lots of garlic when we cook. I bought a cheap replacement garlic press and complained every time I used it. I had stopped using it all together and chopping the garlic was time consuming and made my fingers smell. So, the nice lady at the Sur la Table store convinced me to purchase this nifty garlic rocker.


Never knew garlic rockers existed. She raved about it and said I would never need to ever buy another garlic crusher again. True. No moving parts. Stainless steel won’t break. I will report back how and if I like it.

Now, for the record. I did avoid buying the $45 potato cutting french fry stainless steel gadget, as well as the $10, on clearance, single brew coffee making gadget (we have two plastic cone single brew coffee making filter holders). Though, truth be told, I did pick it up and put it back several times.

UWG lesson for me this week: get whatcha use a lot (apple slicer, garlic press) and skip the gadgets seldom used (french fry potato cutter) or already have that work just fine (coffee making gadget).

Anything you care to share? Lessons learned? Advice?



Use Whatcha Got Week 7: Fuzzy Bear Hats

I bought some clothes for the boys young men in my life for Christmas at Old Navy back in December. Note to self: no v-neck anything for male offspring next year. Or ever. I kept the bag of clothes in my car and drove around over a month in hopes of popping into the store eventually. Finally returned to Old Navy to return the clothes.

Now back in December I received a coupon from Old Navy after my big purchase of clothes at the check out. It was one of those spend so much and save so much. The more you spend, the more you save.

I still had the coupon and the expiration for the coupon was only days away. I decided to attempt the first tier of savings: spend $25 and save $10. Fifteen dollars for $25 dollars worth of stuff. What a deal. With the clothes I had just returned, it was basically “free.” Right?!

With my hands up against my temples acting like blinders, I kept my eyes fixed straight ahead as I cruised past the women’s clothing section. All the while I muttered under my breath, “Use Whatcha Got. Use Whatcha Got.”

First stop was the men’s section to find anything casual, nice looking, not v-necked, and preferably on clearance. I found a couple things fitting the criteria. Next I headed over to the girls section, found another decent deal. But I wasn’t hitting the $25 mark.

I wandered a bit more and then I spotted them hanging in the clearance section in the back corner….

Fuzzy Bear Hats.


They were so soft, so cute.

There were six left.

They were on CLEARANCE.

I bought them all.

At the check out counter I still came up a few dollars short of the $25. Plastic bone shaped doggy poop bag holders on clearance. I picked up two. One for the leash. One for my car.

Still just a wee bit short.

But I was committed.

I was obsessed.

Shirt boxes in two sizes for 49 cents finally pushed me exactly over the mark to use the coupon.

I went into the store with one bag and came out with two.

Well, the good news: the stuff is being put to good use. Michael claimed his fuzzy bear hat immediately (never occurred to me he would like one!). We Skyped with Jonathan all wearing the fuzzy bear hats. He was clearly relieved to be the entire 2,678 miles away from his crazy family. Julia thought it would be great if we all wore them for our Christmas card photo next year. Never gonna happen, but she can still dream. We gave a few fuzzy bear hats away to friends.

UWG lesson learned: don’t get all coupon crazy, Viv, and buy a bunch of stuff just to get the deal.

 Catch me up on how you’re doing almost two months into UWG! :)


Use Whatcha Got Week 6: Apples to Applesauce

Three days late on updating this week regarding Use Whatcha Got. Sometimes life feels three days late. We are climbing out of illness in our household and returning to the piles. Oh, the piles.

This past Tuesday I had a UWG moment. I bought a ginormous pork tenderloin at Costco. It was the smallest one, but nothing in Costco is small. I cut it in half and froze the other half for another meal down the line. We enjoyed it but still had a huge amount of pork tenderloin left over. Determined not to let it go to waste I decided to serve it again a few days later.

Remember “pork chops and applesauce” from the Brady Bunch? (some are smiling, some  are rolling their eyes, some have no idea). Well, we say the phrase (we, being Darrin and me…kids all have blank stares) around our table so it’s been part of the pairing when we serve pork tenderloin. Pork and applesauce, rice and veggies. yum!

I had planned to go to my favorite little market around the corner by “my Starbucks” to pick up some fresh veggies, but found they were closed. Returning home I remembered I had some apples sitting in the bottom of our fruit basket. Most of the fruit at the bottom of the fruit basket ends up getting thrown out. The fruit was still edible, no bruises, but the apples were starting to get soft. So they sat at the bottom while new fruit kept being placed on top.

I realized: I can make applesauce!!

Whipped out my favorite apple slicer corer gadget, placed the slices in a pot, boiled the apples, added cinnamon, let it simmer….blended it right up.

Michael walked by and lifted the lid off the pot, clearly drawn to the delicious smell,

“Do you even know how to make applesauce??”

“Dude. I used to make applesauce baby food all of the time for you and your siblings. Do I know how to make applesauce? Phesh!”

It was simple. It was tasty. It felt good to not waste and throw out what we had and to eat what already filled our fridge. It felt good to Use Whatcha Got.


So as we sat down enjoying our meal, my thoughts turned to how God is able to redeem stuff in my life I thought was destined for the trash. Some of my worst failures, deepest pains, stuff I’d rather not have walked through, He is able to bring about unexpected good from what can seem to be bad. And those very things seem to be the bridges into other’s lives. Those things are what make us human. And learning to walk forgiven and redeemed keeps my heart humbled and grateful. It helps remind me: God never gives up.

How’s UWG going for you??

Use Whatcha Got Week 5: Change the World Birthday

I have studied her face even before she was born. My eyes would trace and retrace her profile on the flimsy black and white ultrasound paper I kept in my Bible while my belly grew and grew. Over the months and years after she entered the world on Valentine’s Day, I logged thousands of hours watching her face express a thousand emotions. Two weeks ago I could tell she wanted to share something out of the ordinary with me. Her eyes were bright and her head tilted slightly. She looked both mischievous and triumphant.

“Mom, I’ve been thinking about my birthday.”

I braced myself, ready to talk down some over the top party theme. Birthdays are a big deal for Julia. She starts talking about ideas for her next birthday sometime around August, before school starts, and I repeatedly request we get through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year before we talk about her next birthday. I took a deep breath as she went on,

“I was up in my room and looking at all my stuff. I have so much stuff. I think for my birthday this year instead of getting gifts and more stuff, I’d like to ask my friends if they would be willing to donate to kids and families who actually need things. Maybe buy some goats or chickens or something.” 

I swallowed hard.


Was she sure? She smiled and I could see in her eyes her mind was made up.

I prepared myself by thinking, “Now, Viv, don’t get all puffed up and proud. The whole Use Whatcha Got challenge is meant to be something for just you. The fact it spills over and helps others to reduce consumerism is not the point. Humble. Think humble thoughts.”

“Julia, I am so proud of you. This is incredible. I love the idea of you helping others. How did you come up with this idea?”

 “Oh, watching the Disney channel.”

Humbled. No problem with humble thoughts!! :)

So yeah for the Disney channel highlighting a kid who wanted to help other kids. Yeah especially for Julia for wanting to make a difference.

One of my dearest friends from college, Cynci Petersen, began in incredible organization called the Hope Venture.


The Hope Venture is a non-profit organization existing to bring help and hope to people around the world through compassion-based projects.

Cynci’s character, integrity, and heart for changing the world through these compassion based projects makes the decision to donate to this organization a simple one. I trust absolutely in the soundness of Hope Venture. Cynci travels herself to India and Africa regularly to check in on the projects and to look for new opportunities. God has blessed and expanded the reach and influence of the Hope Venture and Julia is excited to be a part of changing the world through Hope Venture.

A few days ago Julia and I finished creating her evite for the birthday party. I added the Hope Venture link and we explained how the kids could bring checks written to Hope Venture. Julia would collect the monies and then decide which projects to support. I watched her face as she began flipping through the Hope Venture catalog. She couldn’t hold back her smile. She looked up with sheer joy filling her face.

“Mom, I think this is going to be my best birthday ever.”

(If you’d like to write Julia a note of encouragement in the comment section I will be sure she gets it)


Use Whatcha Got Week 4: 6/5/4 Simplicity

Back from Morristown, New Jersey. We are wiped out. I went to bed early last night with a sore throat and still needed a nap after lunch. Probably could have slept all day. Darrin and Julia are fighting off sinus infections. Many thanks for all who prayed for the conference. It was a powerful weekend.

Darrin and I have spent many summers in various locations on summer mission projects. We’ve found it refreshing to live with only the contents in our suitcase for six weeks at a time. The simplicity of “6/5/4.” We used to tell the kids: six underwear, five t-shirts, four pairs of shorts. Add to that a couple sweatshirts and one pair of long pants, and a dress for Julia, and that would be our clothing for the summer.

Our previous summer mission experiences using public transportation helped me and Jonathan figure out how to get from Newark to Morristown by train. Signs in English were a plus. We did, however, confuse “going east” to mean going inland, so we were initially on the wrong train platform. Wrong coast. West is inland on the east. Lesson learned.

Jonathan, like his incredible Dad, ended up as “personal Sherpa” and carried all our luggage. Yes, I felt proud. And blessed. And thankful.


My UWG13 thoughts this week:

  • simplicity is refreshing, so I hope to continue simplifying and clearing out our stuff so we can “travel lighter” in life
  • walking through the airport I didn’t kill time by wandering around the little shops; knowing I was committed to UWG simplified how I spent my time. I find I don’t miss stuff I don’t see

How has the first month of UWG13 been for you??