A winning way to reward kids this summer (and always)

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Everyone likes to be noticed.

Especially kids.

Especially when they do something right.

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Each day, the kids do checklists. Checklists keep this momma sane.

When they finish their checklist- they get tickets. Finish first? You get the most tickets. Finish last? You get the last, lonely ticket.

If I catch them loving – I notice.

“Judah, that was very kind… go get a ticket.”

If I see they picked something up in the yard or off the floor– just to be a help.

I notice.

You get the picture.

We never, ever take tickets away.

We draw a winner each Sunday afternoon.

There is a grand prize winner box and then the five remaining children have numbers drawn and get to choose from the runner up prize box.

The grand prize winner throws all of that weeks tickets away and we start new on Monday.

It’s fantastic.

You know what? (you’re fantastic too!)

Loves,

Kati

PS: A special thanks to all of you who have contacted me about my dad and his fight for life as mentioned in this post. Strangers and friends alike, you have blessed my life by your sweet words and prayers. He is still fighting.

Making sweet love on a bad day

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“Finding myself, this morning struggling with the beginning of my day, I was reminded of a story from a few years back. From a time when my littlest one was usually naked, and my oldest one was still learning multiplication and I did the usual thing  I do when I’m struggling. 

Lost it. In one way or another.

If you are finding yourself like me this morning, or any time at all, really… struggling to get yourself together – perhaps my broken life can lend a little hope to yours, and help your day shine bright.”

February 2011~

Today was a bad day. I was a very cranky momma.

Oh, it’s hard to pin point the exact reason. I started the day out “by the book,” up early, before the kids. Time in the word, time with my man, I made a sweet little homemade breakfast, read to the kids. It should have just worked out right; right?

Wrong.

And looking back, I can’t quite figure out what finally made me snap. Oh, it could have had something to do with the three hours it took one of my children to be ready for her day and start school; just too many rabbit trails to find herself on. Or, it could have something to do with the extensive handwriting lesson one of my other children had to do because her brother almost suffered a concussion when he hit his head on the coffee table during a fun pushing game.

Or it could be the 100th phone call I knew I had to make to AT&T because they can’t seem to bill us correctly and they like to make me sit on hold for 20 plus minutes each time. Maybe it was because I am crazy and allowed my children to get three kittens for Christmas?

Perhaps, the wonderful cold snow isn’t so wonderful anymore; or maybe it’s because we just moved to the town I grew up in and I’m secretly afraid someone will knock at our door and see that it is absolute chaos, and I’ll have to use the line… “Hey, at least we’re learning.”

But then again, It might just have been one. of. those. days. But, perhaps I could just chalk it all up to a girl thing and blame it on my psycho thyroid and the fact that I have yet to find a doctor down here to get it under control.

Whatever the reason may be, I lost my temper, yelled at the kids. Felt the sweet momma in me run dry and went into my room and cried.

So then, I dried my eyes, gave myself a little pep talk, realized that I’m a total worthless parent without God and continued on with my day, teaching Judah the letter X, helping Jordan read the word, frog; again, talked to Alli about how Italy is shaped like a boot, and put Emmyn on her sweet “big girl time blanket” to play with blocks.

At lunch, we talked about Making Sweet Love.

As the children ate, I put before them, four little cups.

One overflowing, three empty.

We talked about the marshmallows, how yummy and sweet they are. They resembled our sweet love. The love we have to share with others. I asked the kids, how can “Mommy share this love with each of you?” They said things like,

“snuggle us”

“kiss us”

“read to us”

“take us places”

with each thing they said, I gave them some of my “love.”

Eventually, their little cups were full of love and mine was empty.

I said, “Oh, no… look! Where is mommy’s love?” (Of course, Judah reaches into the bag of marshmallows, grabs a big handful and says, “Right here, mommy!” But the girls understood. “You’ve given it all out to us.”

Then I told them about how a mothers love is like Jesus, it never runs out. But unlike Jesus, mommas get tired and need some love.

I perked up, “SO! Who has some love for momma?”

“I do!”

“I do!”

“Here is a kiss”

“Here is a thank you”

… the list went on and on, they were racing to see who could fill it up quickest. All of a sudden we all had plenty of love, to equally share. And we were all happy.


And Jesus Said, 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15: 12-13

Oh, The day carried on like normal, we got on a good track, the house was a complete disaster, we learned, played, laughed, got in more trouble, made really delicious chicken and noodles, and after we were all finished,  sat and rested a while during tea time.

We sipped on coffee, nibbled on egg whites, and enjoyed a glimpse of summer with delicious juicy oranges while we listened to a story, my very favorite story of all.

I haven’t read it since March. Unable to handle the truth of it all, afraid I would come unglued. Each time I read it, silly I know; but I feel like it was written just for me.

And I was right, my eyes filled with tears, my mind filled with thoughts and it was almost more than I could handle.

I. read.very.slowly.

Breathed.very.deeply.

Max Lucado writes:

“He deserves lots of dots,” the wooden people would agree with one another. “He’s not a good wooden person.” After a while Punchinello believed them. “I’m not a good Wemmick”, He would say.

Judah asked, “Momma, those real tears?”

I paused, “Yes, Judah they are real tears.”

I continued the book. Reading about Eli, the Maker.

Eli explains, “The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.


“I’m not sure I understand”, Punchinello says.

I understood today.

I asked the kids, like I always do, “Do you ever feel like you have a lot of grey dots?” I continued, “Mommy does.”

I said, “Like when momma yelled today…” “You see,” I said; “When momma does that kind of stuff, I spend the whole day feeling terrible,  like I am not a good mom, like I’ve let God down in the job he has trusted me with.”

I continued, “But, that isn’t the truth is it? That isn’t trusting God’s love, is it?”

Oh mommas, it is a hard day sometimes. Always wondering if we’ve made the right choice, always regretting something we’ve done or said. Battling things from the past, hiding emotions we are having and putting on smiles for our little ones. It isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always happen. And when our little cups run dry of marshmallows and we cover ourselves with gray dots… all we can do is fall back into the arms of our Maker and let him stand us back up straight ready to right the good fight for one more round.

Eli smiled. “You will understand, but it will take some time you’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.” 

-Max Lucado

Alli whispers to me afterward, “Mom… thanks.”

And she gives me a wink.

A trick to help siblings get along this summer.

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“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.”

The Buddha


 

I have six kids.

Two are boys.

And they are all boy.

They fight.

Sometimes for fun, sometimes not so much.

One more thing? They’re dirty.

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Well, most of the time.

This, however. THIS is for certain.

When those boys of mine decide it’s “fun” to poke fun, fight, or be just.down.right.mean; there’s this thing we do.

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Words.

I sit my little boys down and have them write 10 things they love about each other.

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Then, they read the list to each other.

“I like his smile. I like the way he laughs. I like how he plays basketball. I like how he dresses…”

“I like his skin color. I like his missing tooth.”

The silly list goes on and on.

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And it does– what sweet words always seem to do.

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Words make everything better.

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From one momma of boys to another,

Kati

 

 

Slow down, your kids are watching. A 13 year old’s view of a busy mom.

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A few months back, I was drowning.

There I was. A wife to one, mom to six. Between homeschooling, work, several different kid activities a husband in full time school–I felt the world closing in around me.

I never knew she was watching.

At the peak of my despair (can we call it that?) I felt the lord gently telling me [well, actually more like, scream at me] “Let it all go, live simple, love big and sit more.”

So, I did it. We stopped swim-team, stopped packing the days full of activities, I made a better shopping schedule — to keep from spending all week in the car running back and forth to the store; and we even sold the puppy.

I started sitting more. I started saying no. I looked at my phone less. I stepped away from social media. I stopped trying to be everyone’s savior.

A few weeks after this change had become the new “me”, my Alli, just a teenager read me a poem she just so happened to have laid on her heard during the night.


Slow Down, Your Kids Are Watching

Why is life so busy?
People to see, places to go,
Someone to call, to text.
Gotta update my Facebook status,
I should Tweet  that.
Why are my kids always
Asking for food?!
Homework, bills,
Deposits, withdrawals,
My boss is mad again.
She just had a baby,
What should I cook for her?
I need to get them a wedding gift and
Wish them a happy honeymoon!
Happy Birthday to you,
Here’s a card.
Sorry about my handwriting,
I was in a hurry.
My husband and his job,
He’s never home anymore.
Prom, seriously?
Time to mow again,
Should probably water my garden
it’s close to dying.
My glasses broke,
She needs braces?!?!
Summer’s almost over,
School starts soon… school supplies.
New shoes! Guess it’s time.
I need groceries!
Soccer, football, basketball practice.
Doctor’s appointments on Monday.
Please feed your fish.
When does church end again?
The crock pot beans should be done soon
I have an email to send before three.
Library visit, okay!
Almost out of gas.
Sick? Wash your hands!
Go take a shower now.
Did you brush you teeth?
Are you ok?
Get well soon!
Remember the old days when life wasn’t as crazy as this?

~Alli Gibson

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Wow. Only God knew she saw my good intentions as just another stressed out momma.

A good little reminder maybe? A reminder to live simple, love big and sit more. We only have this life, and they are watching.

From one busy momma to another,

Kati

The reality of mothers day.

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Walking from my bedroom into the kitchen I find this:

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Curious to what the surprise may be–I grabbed the bell.

I walked the hallway ringing the bell.

Smiling big.

From the closed bedroom door peeks my oldest daughter.

“Don’t come yet- mom. Triston peed his bed and he’s in the shower.”

This.

This is Mother’s Day reality folks.

Happy day!

:-) Kati

Fellowship with daughters: the very best thing I do with my girls.

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Remember when you were young and passed notes to your best girlfriends?

I do that with my girls. =)

Those girls of mine, all crazy four of them– they need love. They all need loved in different ways too, and that can be tricky.

I have one who speaks the least but feels the most. She loves words like me. We talk about everything from Jesus to dresses. Another of mine, she’s one for attention– she always wants to know when we’re going somewhere again. Then there’s this one who is new to the whole mom thing and she’s just happy to write. Then Emmyn, my littlest, little? Well, she makes pretty drawings. =)

In order to keep up with all of their girly goodness, we have momma journals. Each one have a decorated journal that is between just she and I. When they feel they need to talk, they pass the journal my way.

Sometimes, it’s on the stand next to my bed– other times, it’s lying on my desk. I’ve even found it next to the kitchen sink.

A cutie-pie picture from when my little Jordi pie started her journal a few years back?

It’s a place where we can be total cheese heads, encourage each other, love each other with our words, and it’s all right there, in the book– a book we can keep forever.

{ ok, ok, and it helps with handwriting practice ; ) }

Simple & silly love, today and always~

Kati 

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Um, yeah… is there an ad below here? A creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video, perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = / And I didn’t choose what it will advertise. Sorry about that. 

sometimes dreams just don’t come true.

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I wrote this story a few years back after a trip to town with my littles. Today, while a repair man was here at the house– he overheard the lesson I was teaching the kids during homeschooling. Each day, I give the kids a “quote to ponder”;  the quote to ponder today was:

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius

The repair man, in the other room, calls out “Amen to that! I’m in the middle of that lesson right now.”

His remark reminded me of this story- May it be an encouragement to you today as you chase those great big dreams of yours.

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We’ve always liked to pack up and head somewhere “special” to learn little things– create a memory.

In Missouri, it was books and cookies at the library coffee shop {yes, it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g} sometimes, it was books and donuts early in the morning at the local donut shop. Then of course, there’s always the park.

I think school at the park is Chapter One in The “Typical Homeschool Trends” handbook; along with baby carriers and long skirts, ha!  (That book doesn’t really exist)  :)

Typical or not, it’s what we do.  Sometimes it’s history, sometimes is devotion, sometimes it’s just a silly book that makes us all laugh loud and heads turn. This week, it was The Tale of Three Trees.

It starts with loading cups into bags and books into hands. Yes, always take your own cup, refills are around 59cents compared to $1.40 for a drink in their plain ‘ol not special at all  their cup.  We’re mug people around here, everyone has their favorite.

Then we head out. No big deal right?

Today, I walked into our towns little grocery store with no kiddos, a rare thing indeed (ooh, maybe Daniel is my secret servant this week?) I was all alone, in my own little world, price comparing and trying to get the best deal on chicken.

Greeting the clerk a friendly, “Hi how are you today”, then moving my stare past her onto my items,  watching those sought after good deals move across the scanner, wondering if the clerk would see the $2 off instant coupon on my smart chicken… the check out girl, a senior in high school, says to me–

“I saw you the other day, are those your kids?”

Totally confused, I ask “You saw me? Where?”

“At the store, reading to your kids.”

“Oh, yeah” I reply,  “Those are my kids. Wait, Unless they were bad then they aren’t mine” I said, with a silly smile.

She continues, “Yeah, I heard you reading to them.” 

Sliding my chicken across the scanner, removing my coupon, she goes on to tell me how she heard me asking the kids what their dreams were for when they were grown and she listened as Judah told me he wanted to be an NBA Player. Continuing to listen, she heard me bring it back to the book, where the three trees had big dreams but God used them to fulfill those dreams in His way, not looking exactly the way they had planned.

She says, “I heard you ask him,

What if God has a different plan for you?”

Then she heard his reply,

“Oh, he would never do that to me, it’s my dream and he’s given me the skills to do it.” 

Telling me my total and reaching her hand out for the money, her eyes tear up and she turns her elbow towards me to see her scar.

“That was my dream too and it seemed so reachable, until I fell and broke my arm just this year before my senior year of high school. I can’t play like I use to and now no schools will choose me.”

She smiles real big, tears still welling and says,

“I don’t know why it wasn’t His plan but I know somehow, it’s all going to be used to give Him glory–  I know he has a plan.”
 

Slipping into my van, chicken loaded carefully in the trunk, I see the book there on my dash. I walk back in and say, “I still had the book, why don’t you read it.” 

She smiles that real big Jesus smile and says–

“Oh wow, thanks!”  

For everything there is a season,
      a time for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT

Oh, NBA seems like a big unreachable dream, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve had dreams both big and small that never happened. Hopes, dreams, goals, and wonders that at this time in my life, God just didn’t answer.

No matter the size of your dream- it’s yours. And if it doesn’t happen– it hurts.

My prayer for us is this: May we find grace and give glory in each season, my friend. May we live today with the crazy peace and comfort that only our great big God can give.

May you find comfort today in knowing- God’s really big and He’s got this.


May Mercy, Peace, and love be yours in abundance. Jude 1:2

Dreaming Big, 

Kati

 

yeah… if there’s an ad below here—> a creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = / And I didn’t choose what it will advertise.

That stinkin’ proverbs 31 woman again. How love can shape generations to come #14daysofsimplelove

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“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”  James Baldwin


like it most when I’m up before the pitter patter of little feet. I like to sit and prepare before they come bounding, excited and ready to start a new day.

They usually start by telling me all about their dreams or informing me they’re hungry.

While the house is quiet, I like to set the mood. My mood. 

It is a peaceful thing, a quiet house. Before I begin the daily battle that wages deep within me, the battle of self and selflessness, it is best if I start in the quiet.

I wonder if that’s what she thought. You know that girl.  The one who puts us all to shame. “That Proverbs 31 Woman.”

“She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.” …but no servants found here.  I’m planning my work. –  and maybe it’s best if I begin in the quiet. Begging God to help me get it all done.

“She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.” because the Lord is her strength. …because he alone is [her] rock and her salvation. [Her] fortress where [she] will never be shaken.

“She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.” …because she knows it’s the only way her children will see, those people matter.

And my very favorite part…
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”because she realizes she cannot parent out of fear of their future, or of her past.

“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” …only because she pauses. breathing quietly and deeply before she responds, perhaps?

“She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.” …because she runs one more time at the cry of help, bends down one more time to pick the little one up, and sits to read… just a little bit longer.

Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.”  because he knows, this job of being a mother—will keep her close to the heart of God.

So, they tip toe out, into the darkness of early morn one.by.one.

And then your sweeties little baby joins the two of you…

and the list goes on,
and on,
and on.

I wonder- if the Proverbs 31 Woman of today would have been able to explain herself- would she have said things like,

“Yeah, it’s super, duper hard some days and I just need my Fathers help over and over again.”

because she knew, one day she’d be old and grey. If we caught up with her years later after her hands worn from years of love and hard work, would she have told us,I realized I was raising generations when I loved my little ones so it was worth the fight. I knew the love I gave today would impact them forever. I knew I was shaping generations to come.

Because when we love them, they’re learning how to love forever, right?

Our children, our students in a classroom, our neighbor, the neighbors kids… whoever we talk to, share life with, share stories with. If we’re showing, living, and talking about love. Wow. What a difference that can make.

Are you a part of the 14 days of simple love challenge? Where we love simply, in some way — each day? Knowing our little bit of love can make a big difference. But wait! It gets even better! The great news——>> When the person we loved goes and loves someone else, all because of the love we showed them? Well, that could change the world.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day why not love, simply each of the 14 days? Besides, why save big love for only one day, right? Here is how it works:

Everyday there will be a new simple way to love posted here. Each day you use that simple love idea and run with it. However that way is possible for you- do it!

Everyone is looking for someone to love them. And the more we love, the happier our little hearts are.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” – Mother Teresa.

Today’s simple love: Give Instruction With Kindness.

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“Her words are wise and kindness is rule when she gives instruction” Proverbs 31:26

this.one.will.be.hardest.for.me.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.

Loves today and always,

#14daysofsimplelove guide:
Day One: Who said grown men can’t date boys
Day Two: Everyone’s view is different than mine

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.

Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.”

Proverbs 31:10-30 NLT

yeah… if there’s an ad below here—> don’t click the creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = /

Everyone’s view is different than mine. #14daysofsimplelove

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“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18

Each Saturday morning we visit granny.

My sweet mans 86 year old grandma, the one who does art with our oldest daughter Alli each week. The most precious soul in the world.

We’ve been having breakfast with granny for the past three years- since we moved back to my hometown.

Over the course of three years, we’ve noticed a few changes. She sort of forgets things, and sometimes breakfast is a little funky because she added a few of the wrong ingredients. ; ) Some mornings, we hear the same story we heard last week because she forgot she already shared it with us. She’ll say-

“I’m sure I’ve already told you this, hun. But did you know…”

I know, it’s super cute.

Over the past six months or so, we’ve noticed she doesn’t hear us quite as well as she use to. Unless she knows the story involves her, she sort of tunes it out because she knows she can’t really hear the story fully.

Yesterday at breakfast, my sweet man was talking to me about some silly thing he had seen somewhere. I noticed granny was toned out. She was just watching the kids (our kids) playing in the living room. I thought to myself- Her view is totally different than mine. I wonder what it’s like to sit and hear only pieces of conversation- knowing you use to hear everything perfect.

Then I realized, we all see things from different views. Granny sees things through her eyes. Aged eyes, years of experience and memories.  My children’s views are all different- their life stories are all different. Alli, the oldest of six has changed lots of diapers, seen lots of little toddlers throw fits. She’s also had more conversations with me and experienced more “life” than the other children. Then there’s Emmyn, who is only four. She can’t even see the kitchen counter.

The hurtful mother, the fun friend. The cranky neighbor, the snobby co-worker. They’re all living life from their view. What has life dealt them? What challenges have they had? How have they arrived at this ‘view’?

Has the mother been scarred by a life of hurt? Has the neighbor had bad neighbors in the past so they’re not even interested in giving you a fair chance? Has the snobby co-worker always had to be appear better than everyone else because she’s actually lonely and dying inside?

What if we all took time to intentionally get down on other peoples levels. What if I sat in silence with granny doing a puzzle, or sat and played with Emmyn today. What if I bent low to make the shot with Judah to see how hard it is to make a three point basketball shot at the age of six (well, I’ve actually never been able to do that). What if I could have a glimpse into the past lives of Ashely and Triston, recently adopted. I wonder if that view would give me the occasional nightmare too.

I bet it would.

Are you apart of the 14 days of simple love challenge? Where we love simply, in some way — each day? Knowing our little bit of love can make a big difference. But wait! It gets even better! The great news——>> When the person we loved goes and loves someone else, all because of the love we showed them? Well, that could change the world.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day why not love, simply each of the 14 days? Besides, why save big love for only one day, right? Here is how it works:

Everyday there will be a new simple way to love posted here. Each day you use that simple love idea and run with it. However that way is possible for you- do it!

For instance. Yesterday’s love was: take someone special on a date. The post was about dating your children. But you might not have children! Don’t have children? Take your mom, grandma, nephew, best friend. Call someone far away and share a conversation- call it a date!! Share a picture of your simple love. Share the hashtag #14daysofsimplelove. Tell someone what you’re doing- give them a great idea!

Everyone is looking for someone to love them. And the more we love, the happier our little hearts are.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” – Mother Teresa.

Today’s simple love: See the world through their eyes.

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“How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?” Vincent Van Gogh

A few ideas?
Have kids? Sit and play today.

Have grandparents? Give them a phone call, I bet they would love someone to chat with.

Have a parent who struggles with medical problems and can’t do all they use to? Play a game of cards with them!

Have a little sister or brother? Sit and play with them- try 10 min! I’m sure it will turn into 30 before you know it. =)

Know a widow? They’re probably lonely- give them a visit?

Have a teenager? Laugh loud with them today, make silly videos with them, take goofy pictures- speak their language.

Have a sweet man who wants to watch the Super Bowl but you totally don’t get football and wonder why all those grown men run around in all that armor chasing a silly ball all day? Yeah, me too.  Simply love that man today and watch that game! ; )

Total crazy love- not just these 14 days but always~
Kati

Have a picture of your simple love? Send me a picture by clicking HERE and I’ll post it for all to see or link up to me on twitter: @kati_gibson  #14daysofsimplelove Lets spread the joy of love in a really simple way!

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yeah… if there’s an ad below here—> don’t click the creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = /