Jamie went to a “Man Night” at our church last month, and he came barreling in the door at 10 p.m. ready to talk my ear off about what an incredible night he had. He loved the food, the community, but most of all, the speaker. All weekend long he’d randomly spit out things he remembered from the speaker and what an impression he immediately made on him. I really enjoy seeing Jamie get so passionate about things like this.
A few days later, a group of wives from church got together for dinner. All of our husbands had just attended the recent Man Night, so we were swapping stories about how each of our husbands reacted afterwards. One friend, whose husband serves on a high volunteer position with the church, was invited out to lunch with the speaker the next day. He said something to my friend’s husband that really impacted him, which he shared with his wife, who then shared it with us.
In a nutshell, he advised that while you’re seeking to give your kids the world and raise them in a wonderful home, it’s also equally important to teach them that the world doesn’t actually revolve around them. What’s one way to teach them? Find a cause as a family that you care about, that you can get behind and support with your time, your finances, or both for the long haul.
This conversation stopped all of us in our tracks. We could understand what he meant immediately.
As parents, we naturally want to give our kids the world, but we also want to teach them to be compassionate, generous, loving people who genuinely care about others.
So I told Jamie about this conversation, which made him scratch his head, like it made me scratch mine. What worldly situations break his heart that make him want to give and do? What breaks mine?
The first thing that immediately came to mind was how my heart was shattered during a visit to Harvesters food bank in Kansas City last summer (do you remember when I served as a 2017 ambassador for them?). I learned about what food insecurity really looks like, how it’s seemingly impossible to get out of, and what devastating effects this takes on a person who has struggled with food insecurity since he or she was born. It wrecked me to hear it painted in realistic detail the way it was. It still bothers me and has tugged on me strongly ever since.
So, Jamie and I have started talking more frequently about missions we can get behind as a family for the long haul that will involve our daughters. There’s obviously a zillion worthy causes out there that we could get behind, but we want to figure out what we are truly passionate about lending our time, hands, and/or finances to.
We had family from Nebraska in town last weekend, and I told them about this conversation I’d had with my girlfriends and then with Jamie. I told them that they (my relatives) came to my mind immediately as a family who lives by this. They have three children who are teenagers and college-aged. Every year for many years they’ve had the Christmas tradition of leaving their house mid-afternoon on Christmas Day to go to a homeless shelter in the Omaha area and serving Christmas dinner. They had called me last year on Christmas day to say Merry Christmas, and when they shared with me their plans for that afternoon, I was nearly in tears. What an outstanding thing to do with your children year after year. He said they all have come to love it and look forward to it.
This is the kind of thing I so hope our family can put our finger on. My heart breaks for food insecurity, and we want to keep our eyes and ears open to other areas of need as well.
The Center for Youth Wellness & Toxic Stress
Within 48 hours of having this initial conversation with my girlfriends, I had the most unexpected email come across my blog email. It was from the Center for Youth Wellness, which focuses heavily on providing Stress Health resources aimed to support families and individuals dealing with adversity and toxic stress from childhood through adulthood. They were hoping I’d be interested in using my voice and platform to share about toxic stress and its lifelong, devastating effects.
Admittedly, I didn’t know much about toxic stress and its effects, so I spent a good chunk of time devouring their website and educating myself. It’s safe to say it ripped my heart out! I found topics such as “What are ACEs?” and “Military Children Stress” especially interesting right off the bat.
While I still have so much to learn, I am so excited to partner with the Center for Youth Wellness through the remainder of this year, as I have no desire to turn away any opportunity that can teach me or others about causes that are worthy — especially those that involve children. The timing of it is crazy good, considering how we’re in a season of praying for and keeping our eyes and ears open for opportunities to serve as a whole family.
So be on the lookout a few posts in November and December as I dive into stress health, who is affected, and what those consequences look like. If you enjoy learning, make sure you check out these posts. I’m excited to learn while simultaneously sharing.
Is there a certain philanthropy that tugs at your heart-strings in big ways? How do you support this cause? Do you involve your whole family?
I am thrilled to collaborate with the Center for Youth Wellness this year as we partner together to educate others about toxic stress. Thank you for your support!
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to three little girls (ages 7, 4, and 1) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo