Just Eat the Bread

The other day I was sitting next to Tui in Family Literacy when she offered me a partially eaten baguette from the Safeway bakery. Truly not hungry, I thanked her and declined. Showing up to Family Literacy means showing up to a feast every week. Some days, homemade empanadas show up; others times packages of Oreos are sitting on the back counter. One week we all enjoyed the sweetest Somali tea, thick and gritty with fresh spices.

Photo by Rodolfo Marques on Unsplash

Nancy, the teacher eats everything. When Nagham offered her some white Cheez-It crackers, she graciously nibbled on two of them. There is not treat she turns down.

I was thinking about Tui’s offering the other day and realized it wasn’t about me being hungry but about sharing bread together. I don’t need any of the treats these women offer, but they continue to share chocolate-peanut butter granola bars and samosas freely.

Sharing snacks is a big part of doing life together. It takes our relationship from a teacher-student level to a relational space, made tangible by the food we share. They don’t expect reciprocity but they do hope for gracious acceptance.

Tomorrow, I’ll be on a plane by myself, heading to Syracuse for the start of the RubyWoo Pilgrimage. I’m excited and nervous for many reasons, ranging from the fact that I haven’t ever left the girls for so long to the curiosity of how this will impact and change my life. In one of our early group calls, the question was asked, What are you hoping for from this pilgrimage?

Answers were as varied as the women attending. Put on the spot and having to choose just one succinct reason, I recognized that my journey toward activism and partnership is incomplete without tangibility.

I can read all the article and books, watch documentaries and TED Talks, and listen to my heart’s content but until I eat the bread offered and tangibly get involved, I am a passive part of the change. What good are books and knowledge without action behind the learning?

I’m a fairly self-sufficient person and feel most relaxed when my ducks are in a row. Our family very rarely veers from our routine, I usually meal plan, and I’m pretty intentional about the books I read and how my worldview is being shaped.

But I wonder, am I overlooking offerings that I may not need but will nonetheless deepen my relationships with others and with the earth? Am I missing out on what God is offering because of my well-laid plans?

As I prepare for this pilgrimage, I have a stack of articles to read, some videos to watch, and a general idea of what we’ll be doing along the way. But the organizers of this journey are keeping the details vague. They want us to show up, to be in the moment, to come hungry.

I’m learning that I just need to eat the bread offered to me. That building relationships and deepening my understanding of activism and partnership go beyond well-curated books and experiences. Sometimes it means accepting what is offered, sitting and listening.

What about you? Do you take the bread that is offered or is it counterintuitive to accept gifts?

0I would value your thoughts and prayers as I go on this journey – for learning, for peace, for this time away from my family. I’ll be writing about these experiences in the coming months, I know, but for now, I’m looking forward to absorbing and getting into this new world.

And, if you’d like, Freedom Road is still accepting donations for the trip. Our GoFundMe page is here. Thank you!


Beyond Flowers & Brunch

Before we had kids, our dog, Daisy would send me a Mother’s Day bouquet at work. It usually came during a staff meeting (well done, Frank!) and the real mothers in the group were always a bit jealous. I never understood this until having human children. There’s definitely a difference. This year will be my first year of receiving a handmade gift. (Bea is having the hardest time keeping it a secret!) As our family has grown, the gift of time seems more and more appealing. Clearly, each year is different.

Before I start, let me say: I love fresh flowers and brunch so I’m definitely not knocking traditional Mother’s Day gifts. But, if you’ve procrastinated or just need some filler ideas, I have a few suggestions.

63972_10152997022327005_3404827055315220030_nFair Trade Friday
If your mom loves jewelry, Fair Trade Friday offers several monthly club options – from earrings and bracelets to a full box of goodies. Each item is handmade by women in vulnerable areas of our world. Each artisan receives a fair price for her product, giving her the resources and skills to become more independent. I’ve received both a box and earrings and love the unique quality they offer.

11960223_10206009339885032_1077253324444733695_nThe Mom Quilt
Over 60 moms contributed essays to this collection (including me!) It’s filled with a wide range of experiences and realizations. Compassionate, funny, and honest, the moms who have shared have done so from their current experiences, which makes this book encouraging for moms of all walks. Plus, all proceeds go to Mercy House Kenya, the same organization behind Fair Trade Friday. Mercy House equips young mothers with health education as well as job training.

12512411_10208144234217534_6513410687910768109_nLoving My Actual Life
My friend, Alex just wrote a book about loving the life we’re in right now. Whether or not you’re a mom, this book resonates with finding peace in our experiences. But, since Alex is a mom of four, this book will especially resonate with mothers who are in the mode of day-to-day and may need encouragement to step back and love their own messy, actual life.

The-Mother-Letters_cover_smallThe Mother Letters
just started this one, so can’t give it a full review. But, so far? These honest pieces of advice could be just the encouragement a mom in the midst of raising kids needs.

mercy-house-she-is-priceless-social-media7-460x307Give a Donation
Mercy House Global has compiled a list of organizations at sheispriceless.org that help empower mothers, specifically. Tuesday, May 10 is Global Giving Day, and they are encouraging women to wear pearls as a reminder of healed wounds. For the mom who has everything, empowering another mom may be the best gift.

If you’re a mom, what’s your favorite type of Mother’s Day gift? What’s a favorite gift you’ve given to your mom?

Gifts that Keep on Giving

A friend and I were talking the other day about subscription gifts. With wedding season upon us and more and more people getting married later, gift giving looks a bit different. Most couples don’t need new bedding or china – they’ve already bought what they need. We were talking about subscription services and how fun it is to know that a gift will continue to surprise someone months after an event.

Summer seems filled with weddings, birthdays, baby showers, summer travels and host gifts, so I thought I’d share some subscription services I’ve been happy with as well as ones I’d like to try.

Foot Cardigan
For tax season, I usually try to think of fun little gifts for Frank that I can either slip in his briefcase or have sent to the office easily. This year, I signed him up for a Foot Cardigan subscription. Once a month, he received a funky pair of socks. I loved that they are dress socks – something he needs anyway – but in fun designs. When he has to wear a suit everyday, a fun pair of socks is an easy way to lighten the mood. The socks fit well, for the most part. One pair didn’t fit, and they quickly replaced them without question.

Getting mileage out of our Museum of Nature & Science membership
Getting mileage out of our Museum of Nature & Science membership

Local Memberships
After my parents moved up to Denver, we got my mom a membership to the Denver Botanic Gardens. This is one of our favorite memberships – we’ve had it since we were dating and listed as “Frank Rim + Guest.” We’ve since upgraded to the Family Pass and absolutely love that we can get six friends in with us for each visit. Area attraction memberships are great ways to stop saying We should go there sometime… and just go!

Sunset Wine Club
For my mom’s retirement, we decided to get her a subscription to Sunset’s Wine Club. Each month, she gets a bottle of white and a bottle of red as well as recipes to go with them. We were talking about her experience the other day and she said it was a great introduction to a variety of wines. Many are easily found at the liquor store, so if you find one that’s tasty, it can most likely be purchased again. There are many subscription wine services (Frank and I have been mulling over becoming part of the Justin “family”) but this is a good one if you want a variety or if you don’t have a specific winery in mind.

Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday
Image courtesy of Fair Trade Friday

Fair Trade Friday
I just received my first Earring of the Month club earrings from Ethiopia. They are beautifully made and the colors go with several of my outfits. Because you aren’t guaranteed a specific style, a gift tag is always included so you can share the love. This is the perfect gift for a friend who loves global accessories. (I’ve been picked as a member of the FTF Blogging Team. A more in-depth review will be coming soon!) 

Fair Trade Friday is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya. FTF exists as an avenue for women to empower women by tackling poverty through job opportunities and empowerment rather than enablement. The artisans make beautiful projects and 100% of the proceeds support these artisans. Fair Trade Friday has a one-time box or a monthly club subscription but there is also an Earring of the Month Club. Both usually have a waiting list to join, but right now are open to new subscribers!

Three more I want to try…
These last three are services I keep hearing rave reviews about but haven’t yet had a chance to try for myself. We just sent a 6-month subscription of UrthBox snacks to a friend, so I’ll be interested to hear how he likes it.

My friend who likes to send subscription gifts to newlyweds said that Try the World is a tasty, gourmet surprise every couple months. After looking at their website, I’m tempted to sign us up for a subscription!

Blue Apron keeps coming up as a great way to make healthy meals when you’re tight on time. I keep thinking it’d be a good baby shower gift. I’ve also heard it’s a fun way to empower older kids who are interested in cooking by themselves.

Have you ever given or received a subscription gift? How did you like it? Any favorites to add to this list?