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Category: Living Simply

How You Can Make a Difference in South Africa

Welcome to my series all about our recent family trip to South Africa. I’m recounting some of our favorite experiences, lessons we learned, travel tips, and some of the most memorable stories and takeaways. To read all of the posts in this series, click here.

As I close this series on our trip to South Africa, I want to give you an opportunity to help in a tangible way. Many of you have asked me if there is a way you can send money or help in other ways.

First off, please know that I only share this with those of you are feeling a tug in your heart to be involved. I rarely share these types of opportunities because I know that most of you are on tight budgets and I never want you to feel in any way obligated to help.

But I also know that many of you would really love to help and are eager to find out about specific ways to make a difference in South Africa. Know that just by reading here and by occasionally purchasing deals we post or buying my online courses and products, you are making a difference in South Africa — because our family gives a significant portion of our income to help pay for the operational costs of .

We believe wholeheartedly in the work of and we also know exactly how they spend every penny. We know that they are extremely careful and prayerful and wise with all funds given to them and we know firsthand that the money we invest there goes very far.

In addition, Jesse serves in a volunteer position on the board of the ministry, so he is actively involved in the decisions that they are making and the direction they are taking. I only share this because I want you to know that this is something our family is personally deeply invested in.

is helping to feed, teach, nurture, and provide care for around 1100+ children at 17 different centres they work closely with. These centres are located in some of the poorest areas of South Africa and these children are some of the most vulnerable kids in those areas.

Many of these children live in child-headed households or with a grandparent or aunt. Their parents are either no longer living or they work in the city. Since transportation from the city to these rural areas is expensive, parents working in the cities often can only come home once a month or so.

It’s very common for these children to be left to pretty much fend for themselves and take care of themselves. The government does provide schooling, but the education is usually very minimal as teacher training is also minimal. Many children not only do not have parents who are teaching them basic skills and caring for them, but they are also not learning much at school.

That’s why the work that Take Action Ministry is doing is so vital to these kids and their futures. The centres they work with provide so much support to these communities — feeding the kids nutritious meals, teaching children to read, helping them with schoolwork, teaching them basic hygiene (such as how to pick up trash instead of just throwing it on the ground), giving them opportunities to be involved in sports, helping them to have a safe place to go to after school, providing counseling services, teaching the kids about Jesus, and helping them to feel part of a community where they are loved and cared for.

While there are so many needs that I could tell you about in South Africa, I wanted to highlight three needs that I’d love for you to consider being involved in:

1. Buy a Pair of School Shoes for a Child

is currently hosting a Shoe Drive with the big, big goal of providing a new pair of school shoes to every school age and preschool age child in each of their 17 centres. That’s 1110 pairs of shoes total. It sounds like a BIG number, but I know that we can all band together and make this happen!

Here’s :

All children of school going age at our partner centres are supposed to wear black school shoes as part of their uniform, but many children are unable to do so because they come from households where the cost of a pair of shoes is prohibitive.

Although most of the schools in the Hammanksraal area show leniency with this requirement, the children still suffer as not wearing school shoes singles them out as being vulnerable and poor, which takes away their dignity and feelings of self worth.

We are asking you to stand in the gap to provide a pair of new or very gently used school shoes for every child from our partner centres who will be attending school in 2019. In addition, we hope to bless those who are too young for big school with a pair of shoes they can be proud of!

On average, a good pair of school shoes costs R250. The cost varies by size, with smaller sizes costing less than larger ones.

We reached out to a large shoe supplier and have been given an amazing discount on black school shoes we purchase through them! In addition to this fantastic news, we can also purchase shoes for children who attend creche at this same discounted rate!

In our , we said that we needed to raise R250,000/$20,000 to provide shoes for every child. We are so excited to share that those numbers have changed to R159,000/$11,500!

These figures are based on the discount we will receive and also on the current exchange rate, which is always in flux.

I’d like to challenge each family who reads here to do is to prayerfully consider . This would be around $15 to $25. If you have more than one child, maybe you might consider donating a pair of shoes for each child you have?

Think of fun ways to get your kids involved in this! Maybe they could come up with creative ways you could earn or raise the money. Or they might donate some from their savings, piggy bank, or allowance.

If you donate, would you leave a comment or send me an email so I can personally thank you? Also, if you come up with a creative idea to raise money for this or to find the money in your budget for this, would you send me an email? I’d love to consider sharing it to inspire others!

To donate to the Shoe Drive, . Then, put “” in the notes section. 

2. Become a Monthly Sponsor

If you feel God tugging on your heart to do something more, there is a big need for . They currently have a need to hire more locals to help out at some of their centres and they would also love to be able to pay some of those locals who are giving up many hours of their time to volunteer at their centres.

If you are interested in becoming a monthly donor, even just $20 or $40 per month can go a long way toward helping with the these salaries and could make such a difference.

To become a monthly sponsor,  (Just enter your details and choose “Monthly Donation”).

If you’d like more information about Take Action Ministry and the work they are doing/how they manage their funds, I know that Jesse would be happy to talk to you more about it. (Just email me and I can put you in touch with him!) We are so careful about where we choose to give our money, so I want you to feel very confident in what you are investing in and make sure to have all of your questions answered.

Thank you so much for considering this! You have no idea the far-reaching impact you could be making… and I hope maybe someday I could take you with me to South Africa and get to show you firsthand!

3. Donate to Amo’s House Fund

Amo is a sweet, sweet girl that our family got to meet when we first visited South Africa. Our friends, , often take care of her while her mom works. They have become like family to her family and have long dreamed of being able to help build her family a home. (You can .)

When we first visited South Africa, Kathrynne got to go with their family to Amo’s house. When she came back home, she told me that was one of the points of the trip that stuck out most to her. I vividly remember her looking up into my eyes and saying, “Mom! Amo’s whole family lives in a house that felt smaller than my room! And it was so old and cramped!”

She was pretty overwhelmed by the poverty she saw and she then said this, “Mom! I don’t understand! If there are Christians in this world, why does Amo’s family live like that?”

I had no answer for her, ya’ll.

But I did tell her that this is why our family chooses to be very careful with how we spend our money and that this is why we often say “no” when she asks if she can have certain things… because we are choosing to give that money away instead of spend it on our family. We can’t meet all the needs or help all the people, but we can do what we can do — and that’s why we want to live beneath our means so we can give generously.

I think Kathrynne is forever going to be changed by what she saw that day.

The story didn’t end there, though. Guess what? The Fey’s worked tirelessly to raise enough support from Christians around the world to build Amo’s family a house!

We got to go and see this house when we visited South Africa and it was pretty incredible. They were so proud of their house and I was, too. Because it was beautiful! (See .)

The house is finished enough that they can move into it, but we asked permission to take their picture and share their story here because I thought maybe some of you might want to donate to the house project — there are still a lot of needs to help furnish it and finish it out.

If you would like to donate to Amo’s family’s house, you can click on the donate button on

(The old house)

(The new house — isn’t it so nice?!)

(Amo was talking to me here! She’s so precious!)

(Pictured are some of the wonderful team from — they aren’t just people we know in South Africa; they are people we consider our dear friends!)

Whether you donate money to pay for a pair of shoes, sign up to become a monthly sponsor, give to Amo’s house fund, share this post with someone else, or just get inspired to give in some way in your own community through this post, all of us here pictured say thank you. You might never know this side of heaven the impact that your support will have to change children’s lives and futures.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Slow Day: Week 17

Welcome to my weekly Slow Day post, inspired by Monica from . My Word for 2018 is Slow and, in the spirit of that word, I’m taking one day each week (Wednesday) off — I’ll be unplugged and offline and plan to move at a slower pace, take time to do things that refresh me, and just really focus on being present and savoring the moment.

Each week, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into my Slow Day — and I’ll let the pictures almost 100% speak for themselves, instead of giving many explanations. Enjoy a little peek into our lives!

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our .)

I told you last week that we finally found a table we loved for our formal dining room. We wanted something that would seat up to 10 people, that was in our budget, that would take wear & tear well, that was simple and durable, and that matched with our overall look of our house.

We were so excited to find this one as it meets all of our qualifications! The leaf is built in and when it’s fully extended (as shown above), you can seat 10 people around the table. (It’s cozy, but you can do it!)

We got 10 chairs — two have different backs and we’ll use those on the ends. They are on order and will be coming in in June.

Now we just have to find some simple wall-hangings and this room is done! We’re excited to now have seating for large groups between our kitchen table, our dining room table, our covered deck, and our walk-out basement patio!

I’m still enjoying the $0.99 flowers!

Ruth Schwenk and she sent me this . I’d never even heard of an air plant before, but I am determined not to kill it! Any advice or tips for me?

Jesse and I watched while the kids were at school and then I went to meet a friend for lunch. I always love it when I have leftovers to bring home for lunch the next day!

They were filming something right outside where we ate lunch so I had fun people-watching before I left for home!

We picked the kids up from school and drove to downtown Nashville for a fun family outing. I got in while we drove — until I got crazy car sick! (I’m slowly savoring . It’s been really thought-provoking and I don’t want it to end!)

We hit up Dave & Buster’s for another Half Price Wednesday! Our whole family is quite competitive and the kids had been researching and watching YouTube videos on the best arcades to play at Dave & Buster’s. (Yes, we are those weird people that go into these kinds of things super prepared and with a strategy!)

We did another guys versus girls competition and had a blast! We girls did better this time and we decided not to cash in our winnings but to just save them on our cards so that we can get a bigger prize next time.

On the way home, I wrote a few cards to people and then I headed out to spend the evening with my Discipleship Small Group.

It was a good Slow Day! And by the way, I am just loving taking Wednesdays off! It has made me so much healthier and productive this year — and I look forward to Wednesdays every week. I especially love the fact that I can forget about my phone for a day!

Hospitality on a Budget: 5 Simple Ideas

You can still show hospitality, even when you're on a budget! These 5 simple ideas are great!!

Is it possible to show hospitality when you’re on a tight budget? Well, judging by the emails and comments I’ve received on this topic in recent months, this is something that many of you are struggling with.

You want to open your home and exercise more hospitality. You want to reach out to your neighbors and co-workers and friends. You want to develop closer relationships.

But for many of you, you feel like your home isn’t large enough, your house isn’t nice enough, and your budget isn’t big enough.

I believe that no matter your budget or size of house, you can be hospitable. You just need to get creative and think outside the box.

Many times, we think of hospitality as being when we’ll host another family or group of people for a meal. While that is definitely one form of hospitality, it is by no means the only form of hospitality.

So how can you exercise hospitality when your budget is slim and/or your home is tiny? Here are some ideas:

1. Host an after-dinner dessert and coffee night.

This could be as simple as brownies or cookies or ice cream. Or, skip the dessert and just serve coffee and tea.

You could also invite friends to come over after dinner for popcorn and games. You could ask them to bring a favorite board game and snack, too!

In each of these instances, it’s simple, it’s affordable, and you don’t need to have space for everyone to sit at a table. People can sit on the floor, if need be! (Or ask your guests if they have extra folding chairs they can bring!)

2. Make a simple and inexpensive meal.

What about having a baked potato bar, or prepping a simple crockpot meal, or homemade pizza, or making soup and homemade bread?

I always keep it simple when we open up our home… mostly because it makes me stressed if I try to cook a fancy meal. I’d rather be relaxed and be able to fully focus on loving on our guests and investing in them so keeping things really simple is what works best for me!

If you’re short on time and you have the money in your budget, you could even do something like picking up the $5 pizzas from Little Caeser’s. It’s not the healthiest option, of course, but most people care more about spending time with you than about how amazing your food is!

3. Serve breakfast for dinner.

Breakfast or brunch foods can be a fun change of pace for dinner. And they are usually inexpensive and easy to make, too!

Think pancakes and eggs and bacon. Or a waffle bar with fruit and whipped cream and chocolate chips. Or an egg casserole with cinnamon rolls and fruit.

4. Ask people to join you in free fun.

Maybe your home is really tiny, but don’t let that stop you from inviting people into your life! Look for opportunities for invite people to join you for free fun!

Many areas offer free concerts or festivals or events that would be great for the whole family. Why not ask some friends to join you?

Or, pack picnic lunches and go to the park! (Check out this list for lots of great free fun ideas.)

5. Go out for tea/coffee & dessert.

Hospitality doesn’t just have to mean opening your home. In fact, I believe it’s much more than that. It’s about opening up yourself and your heart to relationships with others.

One of my favorite ways to do this is by inviting someone to coffee. It’s more low key than coming to our house and it can feel less intimidating. Plus, it’s super simple, very inexpensive (especially if you literally just order a cup of tea or a cup of coffee!), and can be a fantastic way to begin connecting with someone on a deeper level.

Start looking for ways to show hospitality and reach out to others and I bet you’ll begin to find them all around you! (Need some extra encouragement and inspiration? I highly recommend checking out Jen Schmidt’s book, .)

P.S. for a simple way to celebrate someone even if you have a small house.

Re-inventing the Layered Dip Recipe

This Layered Nacho Dip recipe can be tweaked to fit all preferences or dietary restrictions. It's SO easy and versatile!

I wanted to make Layered Nacho Dip for the Super Bowl. This is a recipe that my mom used to make and then my sisters and I made it often when we were growing up.

I haven’t made it very often since I’ve gotten married and had kids, because two of the kids don’t like raw onions, one doesn’t eat tomatoes, Jesse doesn’t eat olives, and two of us don’t like spicy things. (We sound high maintenance or picky. We really aren’t about most things; this dip just seems to have all of the few things we don’t eat in it!)

So I decided to re-make the Layered Nacho Dip recipe to be a little bit more in line with what my kids and husband would like.

I used one can of refried beans mixed with homemade taco seasoning (well, I actually just dumped in some of the taco seasoning spices because I’m all fancy like that! ;).

Then, I topped it with guacamole because we had that on hand.

Next, I put a layer of sour cream.

Then, I added a layer of black bean salsa.

And I topped it off with shredded cheese.

It might not be as fancy as regular Layered Nacho Dip, but it was still very delicious and my family loved it!

I’m all about making do, using what you have, and never feeling like a recipe is set in stone. It’s a suggestion of how to make something; not a must-follow sort of rulebook! 😉

Slow Day: Week 2

Welcome to my weekly Slow Day post, inspired by Monica from . My Word for 2018 is Slow and, in the spirit of that word, I’m taking one day each week (Wednesday) off — I’ll be unplugged and offline and plan to move at a slower pace, take time to do things that refresh me, and just really focus on being present and savoring the moment.

Each Saturday, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into my Slow Day — and I’ll let the pictures almost 100% speak for themselves, instead of giving many explanations. Enjoy a little peek into our lives!

(It looks like I really need to clean the cover of my Discipleship Group curriculum — yikes!!)

Shown in the Pictures: