Grocery store surprises

Moving regularly inherently requires a frequent reorientation of basic necessities. If visiting a new grocery store on a regular basis does not sound appealing, I’m in agreement. Rediscovering new store layouts as well as changing brands and prices has its distinct drawbacks. However, it also can be a little like a treasure hunt–mommy style. This week I discovered grass-fed organic yogurt and cashew milk (something not perviously available in my local grocery store) as well as eggs for just $0.77 a dozen. (I decided not to dwell on the fact that I am no longer getting deliveries of fresh farm eggs or raw milk and instead celebrate my new discoveries.)

Also, because our internet speed is not strong enough to stream movies, I had the opportunity to visit the video rental section of the store in preparation for our grandma/mother/daughter “girls movie night”. I was both shocked and saddened when I asked the young curly-haired employee to direct me to “Anne of Green Gables” and was met with a blank stare preceding the question, “Is that like an old movie?” “No, it’s more like a classic,” I replied.

Despite the fact that they lacked a certain quality of movie title selection, I was pleased that I could rent three videos for 7 days for just $1.04!  However, problem number two arose when I realized that they wanted an in-state drivers license to check out the movies. Thankfully, they were willing to work around this since I was visiting family who lived in the area. Phew, crisis averted.

Isn’t this an ever-changing adventure? Who knew the grocery store could be so exciting!

Food for Kidz & food for thought

We’ve now been stationary for over a week and it has been wonderful to settle briefly into a routine before we begin traveling again next week. I anticipate that there will be a continual ebb and flow between consistency and chaos in the months ahead. For now, this is perfect. Thankfully, new opportunities continue to find us. One of the highlights for our family this past week was serving together to package emergency relief food packets for the non-profit organization Food for Kidz.

Food for Kidz

Does helping actually hurt?

The mission of Food for Kidz is to “bring awareness to hunger issues in the world by involving others in the participation of packing a nutritional meal supplement for distribution and also involve them in sustainability building to facilitate change”. I like the heart behind their mission (awareness, involvement, sustainability, change). It struck a chord in a melody that I’ve been replaying in my mind recently.

Before we left Idaho, Trent was reading the book “When Helping Hurts” which has spurred some good discussion relating to the concept of how to help others most effectively. It’s a challenging concept and one that unfortunately we as Americans often unknowingly get wrong. Among the many themes covered in the book, a few common problems with the typical models of service included:

  • We introduce dependency.
  • We step in and offer “solutions” that are not sustainable.
  • We fail to really find out where the true needs are.
  • We neglect to involve those who need help to be a part of the process of restoration.
  • We step in and out too quickly, leaving those we are seeking to bless worse off while we leave feeling good about ourselves.

That said, the Bible clearly states that we are to love our neighbors, feed the poor and to take care of orphans and widows. And as long as there continue to be natural disasters, emergency aid will continue to be necessary. I want to love effectively, but I also don’t want to get so caught up in the “right” way to love that I miss it altogether.

Packaging food with Food for Kidz

Where do we go from here?

Recently, I developed a two-step plan to help me assess and act when appropriate.

  • First, I am actively praying that God will open opportunities for us to serve and show love.
  • Secondly, I am striving to anticipate that prayer being answered and being ready to respond.

Simple right? Turns out God is terribly uncomplicated about matters of love.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

Food for Kidz food prep

What might that look like in practical terms?

I began to pray this prayer while we were recently driving through Montana. That afternoon we pulled over at a gas station for a potty break and as I got out of the car I saw a young woman laying on her back in the parking lot. I hurried over to see if help was needed. The mother, shaken, explained that her daughter had briefly passed out and had been dealing with sickness but that she didn’t wish for help to be called. I sensed that here was a place where I could show love and I asked if it would be okay for me to pray for her. They said yes. I offered a simple prayer and then realized my children were slowly migrating into the traffic of the parking lot. I departed quickly, saved my children from danger, visited the bathrooms and headed out. It was fast, but it was what was put in my path.

We are each on a path and I have to believe that what is put in front of us is intentional. We simply need to be ready and willing to respond. So simple in concept, yet so challenging to do in reality. My most difficult barrier is often busyness and distraction. It takes clear focus to truly see what God has put in place around me.

measuring food for kidzMost recently what was put in front of us was a chance to participate in packaging emergency food portions to send overseas. My heart could have burst at seeing the excitement that this opportunity stirred up in the hearts of our kids. They loved being actively involved and a necessary part of the team. When the evening started to wind down and it was time to head home, they were truly disappointed that we had to leave. Isn’t that the beauty that we are after? Hearts that ache to serve? Won’t you join me in praying into that desire? I know it’s a prayer that our Heavenly Father longs to fulfill.

What about you? Do you struggle to know how to help others? Have you seen examples of service that failed to meet the mark or been blessed to see truly effective ministry? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear about it!

the moving carousel of milking cows

I love factory-type tours so when my mother in law asked if we would be interested in visiting a new diary during our recent stay in Minnesota, we were quick to agree.

To be honest, my expectations were low. I’ve been spoiled living in Idaho with fresh, raw cow milk. I’ve been friends with the farmers. I know what the cows eat (grass in the summer and alfalfa in the winter) and how they are treated. These cows are not given a number, but a name. These are happy cows. Happy cows are going to give me awesome milk. Lately, I’ve even had the milk hand delivered to my front door two times a week. That’s a tough act to follow. But as I said, I love tours so how I could I not go?

Cow Carousel

Upon arrival we were entranced by the moving carousel of milking cows. What a sight to behold! Just over 100 cows (most of them Jersey) slowing turning in a circle taking a 6 minute ride from start to finish while they are milked.

cow field trip

Next, we saw where the collected milk is cooled and transferred directly into the trucks that will deliver their load to a nearby cheese plant within hours of milking.

cow field trip

cow field trip

One of the most mind-blowing aspects of the tour was this little machine that processes the cow manure in such a way that almost all of the moisture is removed. The resulting product is dry, crumbly and reused to line the cow beds!

cow field trip

cow field trip

As we visited the mama cows, we were greeted with the best surprise of the day-a baby calf being born right in front of our eyes! We stood quiet and in awe, ever thankful for the wonderful timing of our tour. Click here to view the 2 minute video of the birth.

I still love my raw milk and the option to farm on a small-scale. However, I will willingly admit that for a large-scale operation, this dairy was doing a lot of things right and I’m glad we had a chance to see it in person.

On the banks of Plum Creek

“As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that things truly worthwile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Any Little House on the Prairie fans out there?  I’m waving my hand! We haven’t read all the books yet. In fact, the only book we have read so far is Farmer Boy. Does it count that we own all of the Little House books? Does it count that we have been working our way through the TV series DVDs? Yes? Thank you, I agree.

Moving on.

If you are familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder, than the town Walnut Grove will perk your ears. Guess who recently visited Walnut Grove, Minnesota? I’m waving my hand again!

We walked on the banks of Plum Creek and stood where the Ingalls’ dugout home once stood.

The Banks of Plum Creek
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The yellow rope marks the perimeter and location of the location of their dugout home

Continue reading “On the banks of Plum Creek”

Minnesota bound

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The Ledeboer gang loving their audio books

We’ve recently embarked on our last big road trip before we officially launch our family’s traveling adventure this September. Locking up our RV and piling into our van, we headed east from Idaho to Minnesota to celebrate my in-laws 50th anniversary.

The back of our van was shamefully full as we brought some items to store with my in-laws that we did not wish to leave unattended in storage. The rear seat between Hunter and Ashlyn was ridiculously heavy-laden with library books as we seem to be sucking all the remaining marrow out of the bones of our library cards before we tearfully say good-bye to easy, free accessible literature. The middle row was filled with a cooler of snacks between our younger two boys and Trent and I smiled deeply from the front as we hit the road once again with our family in tow. Continue reading “Minnesota bound”