Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I hope you are thinking of what ARKs (Acts of Random Kindness) you will do to honor Matt Shubzda this Thursday Oct 18, the 10-yr anniversary when Matt's jet collided with another and he went to heaven. Matt was always serving others, so we're going to carry the torch for him and keep his serving spirit alive! And don't forget to post your ARK to the FB page: www.facebook.com/shoobystillserves so his family/friends can know how Shooby Still Serves through you. (For those that don't know, our son in heaven was named after Matt. My husband and I were very good friends with Matt and we met at his wedding.)

Sample ARKs: babysitting for a single mom or family with a deployed service member; free lawn work for an elderly neighbor; surprising a widow with something he/she needs; pro-bono work for a business you run; buying someone's groceries at the store; buying someone's lunch at McDonald's; buying something for a family who has lost a child in remembrance of their child; finally deciding to sign up and serve at a local homeless shelter/children or women's shelter/soup kitchen; having a garage sale and donating the proceeds to a charity, calling your local VFW and seeing how you can help serve veterans such as helping unemployed veterans find a job; reaching out to someone you have had a strained relationship with and starting over. There are just so many things we can do to serve others! It just requires your time, heart (and in some cases, a little bit of your money.)

If you available and are local to Garland, please join us to do ARKs!

We have 3 places we will be doing ARKs in Garland, Texas this Thursday around lunch time; 1) homeless/unemployed folks outside of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) building, 2) New Beginning Center (shelter for women/children), and 3) Garland VFW post (veterans in need).

We are meeting at the Generator Coffee House on the square in downtown Garland (107 N. 6th St Garland, Texas) at 11AM and will disperse and meet up at the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)/women's/children's shelter (they are across the street from each other) to perform ARKs. Some folks will go and buy sandwiches we will hand out to people outside the TWC.

An NBC Channel 5 news crew will be following us around performing these ARKs but don't let that keep you from coming! You do not have to do an interview! The ARK story will air Thursday night.

Please email Cortney Schwalbe, coordinator of Shooby Still Serves and the ARK day at cortneyschwalbe@gmail.com if you are coming and you will receive an email with more details about Thursday!

If you can't come or aren't local to Garland, please consider donating the following items we need for the women's/children's shelter and veterans in need. (Email Cortney at cortneyschwalbe@gmail.com for info on where to drop off these donations.)

- Clothes of all kinds; men, women's, children's
- Baby food, formula, diapers, wipes, baby supplies
- Toiletries; regular or travel-sized (any biz travelers out there have a stash?) e.g., shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, soaps, etc.
- Boxed food and canned goods
- Monetary donations for us to buy these things.

For monetary donations, we are accepting cash, paypal donations (preferred) by sending money to shoobystillserves@gmail.com and checks (email Cortney for info on where to send checks).

Let's make this a special day of service in honor and memory of such an awesome man. We can ALL make sure SHOOBY STILL SERVES!

If you cannot do an ARK on Thursday, just do it when you can.

**** PLEASE don't forget to post your ARK on the FB page: www.facebook.com/shoobystillserves. You can give as much or as little detail as you want about your ARK. If you're doing an ARK in the future, just post what you/your family plan on doing! ****

Friday, October 5, 2012

massive fail(s) meet hope

my friend texted me to see how my day was and i wrote back,

"fantastic, my girls are in preschool from 9-2."

don't think for a second i don't love to be around my girls, because i do. i love being their mama and i'm so glad God choose me to shepard them.

but a mama needs a break and a temporary single mama with a hubby deployed some 11 months, needs a break like an addict needs a fix.

i'm a better mama for the breaks i have built into our lives. on tues/thurs from 9-2 they go to our church's preschool and i volunteer from 9-12 helping people write a resume, and then wha-la, 2 free hours to myself! on monday from 9-12:30 our babysitter comes to the house and i serve the hungry through our church's food pantry.

breaks. adult interaction. serving the poor and hungry. yep, i'm a better mama for sure.

then there are days like today when i pick up the girls and need to go to an appointment and run errands (every time i tell kennedy we're going to run "errands" she thinks we're going to visit our friend Erin and when she doesn't get to see her, she *freaks* out!)

as a general rule, i used to NEVER take my children on errands. sure, we peruse parks, the mall play area, petting zoo, fair, sometimes other's homes, etc. but no, not grocery stores or post offices, rarely restaurants and definitely NOT a doctor's office.

if they have no experience going to these places, can i expect they'll behave?

so today we roll into the post office and immediately kennedy rummages through mailers, tape, and boxes as if its her personal art corner. i stand in line, waiting patiently (ha!) for my turn. i sit morgan down on the ground to play with kennedy so i could finish filling out the envelope. yes, kennedy, morgan definitely needs that box on her head. then i get called up, pick up morgan and wait...where's kennedy?

"kennedy, come back here. 1.....2....don't let mommy get to 3. kennedy, you're not going to get a treat." now sheer panic. where is she?

i dropped the envelope and apparently my place in line and alas, i found her opening the door to enter the back office as if she was ready to intern sorting mail. (why isn't the lever door locked?? gracious, these are the easiest handles for 2-year-olds!) "kennedy, come back here, put your hands on this sign and you'll get a sucker." listen to mommy, and i'll throw a bribe your way.

then, i get my customs form completed and hmmmm...i'm standing there at the counter while the postal workers are ushering people up to the counter from the line behind me. hmmm...hello, am i not standing at the counter? i said something like..."my form is complete now. do i have to go stand in line again to get service? this is CRAZY. i don't have time for this. clearly, i have my hands full." all in my best sarcastic voice. (kennedy now hanging from the counter like it's the bar at gymnastics.) awesome.

even more awesome?

i finally coax my 2-year-old back to me after she was allegedly opening and closing PO boxes in the corner (again, why aren't these locked?) and i say to her, "come on kennedy. we have to wait in line again because life's not fair." and when i get to the end of the line, i look up and i'm standing behind....an elder in our church. a man who i adore, and along with several others on mondays, we serve the hungry together. yep, awesome moment alright!

while turning red from utter embarrassment, i explained to him how i don't take my kids anywhere because of THIS. THIS. (now kennedy is trying to climb up the metal detector.) awesome.

he insists i go in front of him and he was probably the only nice person to me today when faced with my active children. so thankful for him, but so embarrassed by my little hissy i threw.

kennedy announces she is hungry so we drive thru chick-fil-a. after that post office bloodbath, i completely abandon my 7 fast and suck down a fresh-squeezed lemonade. for a moment, while drinking that lemonade, i thought, we'll make it; this day can't possibly get any worse. yep, i broke my 7 fast. crap. thankfully, tomorrow is a new day.

then onto the doctor's office where i got smart this time and constrained them to a double stroller. my oldest daughter likes to squeal (read: scream loudly) and when walking through the outpatient doctor office doors, she hits a high note like a professional opera singer. people stare. and roll their eyes. i can see this out of the corner of my eye, remarkably as i bend my body over with my butt holding one door and my outstretched arm opening the other to get a double wide stroller through. (i want to kill the inventor of the double stroller or these double doors at this point. not sure who; i'll toss a coin.)

never mind people, just sit and stare at us and roll your eyes. i've got this.

more freakin' out, begging for another sucker, and general terror when the nurse placed a blood pressure gadget on my arm. luckily that appointment didn't take long so the bloodbath of the post office wasn't quite repeated. we only left a few drops.

the bad days are mounting this week. all without my coffee addiction of course.

perhaps i'm traumatized by yesterday's memory of bath time, where my 11.5 mo old threw up on me and the changing table while i got her undressed, and then at the end of bath time, my 2.5 year old announced she pooped on the tub mat once the water drained out because i was taking to long getting morgan dressed. after i put them to bed last night, i did a calculation of how many days, hours, minutes and seconds i had left before ken comes home. that's exactly how long i can endure the single-parent'ness of it all. not a second longer.

our last stop was target because i'm a glutton for punishment. admittedly, i'm not grunge enough to use wet paper towels to wipe my kids' butts. because this is the forth time they've been in a crazy-large push cart that should probably be illegal, i've wised up to kennedy's urges to hit or kick morgan right next to her. plus morgan is about to have a MAJOR freak out because she is so tired.

securely in her infant carrier, i place morgan in the basket. and kennedy rides solo in the side-by-side compartment/driving cart. the problem? no room for anything. i try to balance organic fruit/veggie pouches, wipes, bread and paper plates around morgan without suffocating her. it was dicey. handing the $1 pumpkin candy holder for trick-or-treating to kennedy was a fantastic idea. she threw it down no less than 43 times. the smart mama would have put it back on the shelf.

when i paid the $125 bill (how do 3 bags of that = that?), i was never so exhausted. and i was so glad to be done. i immediately called in a togo order at chili's. i just had nothing left. this mama was definitely not cooking. (and i ordered a 7 approved meal; grilled chicken sandwich, plain, with avocado slices on a whole wheat bun with a side of sweet potato fries just plain please.)

i called my friend back who had called as we were rolling into the doctor's office. i wondered if she was traumatized by me answering the phone earlier with "hey, it's a f%$#ing crazy time and i can't talk. i'll call you back." truth is, i knew she could handle my blunder.

we made our plan for a 24-hour getaway to a women's retreat tomorrow with her grandma's church. we almost broke out into simultaneous hallelujah at the thought of leaving our families; not necessarily the fantastic teaching we'll experience. we were in agreement--we just need a break. never mind that i just returned from a 11-day vacation less than a month ago.

on the drive to pick up our takeout, i got to thinking about my girls not knowing how to act in a store or restaurant. the fact is they don't know because they haven't been given the opportunity. did you know how to ride a big-girl bike as soon as your parents placed you on the awkward-shaped seat? did you know how to play an entire song when you sat down at the black and white keys for the first time?

in order to be good at something we need practice.

so be warned river valley area, the schwalbe girls will be on the lose. i'm gonna use your town as practice turf so when we move to SD in a couple months, we'll be able to go anywhere with ease minus the exorcist-like meltdowns. but, of course.

i wonder how many people try with Jesus only to give up from massive failings?

too many people rolling their eyes, staring and not opening doors.

where's the community of so-called christians rallying around you, the new person to the Jesus club. if you are one who has tried this Jesus thing and have found zero camaraderie and support, i'm so very sorry.

i'm asking you...give it another chance.

find a community who accepts authenticity and dismisses the christian facade of living behind the veil of everything's perfect.

surely Jesus was right when he said we'd have trouble in this world. it's not our intended home. you're going to have bad, unglued days and the older and more mature we become, the less these days stain our lives. the more practice we have, the less unglued we will be. (and i've heard 7+ year olds can behave fairly well at Target, of course with the threat of being grounded for life if they flop around on the store floor.)

Jesus' mercies are anew each morning and He loves us regardless. REGARDLESS. we can come to Him at the end of a day like i had and say:

here are my bruises, hurts, bloodstains, marks, and wounds from today, Jesus.

He's already died for all of them and tomorrow He'll give me (and you) a new day.

a new HOPE.

a fresh new canvas on which you get to paint tomorrow's picture.

Monday, October 1, 2012

7 fast - food and possessions in october

ok friends, today it starts. my 7 fast.

(here's the exert from amazon about jen hatmaker's book, 7, so you have an idea of what i'm doing.)

American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

i'm shooting for the stars choosing 2 areas of excess for october. i want to jump-start my diet AND we've gotta shed some stuff before we move! i have always been an over-achiever which often gets me over-committed and too stressed (hmmm...isn't stress one of the areas of excess? yeah, i can't wait for that month!)

i was going to try and change my 7 foods from the ones Jen chose, rather than copy exactly what she did. but you know what? as i was at my love/hate grocery monstrosity this evening, i sat and stared at black beans (my proposed substitute for sweet potatoes). am i really going to make several pots of black beans and not buy the sodium-rich ones in the can?

NO. NO. and NO. maybe if i had a hubby home and i could take longer prepping dinner, not having to play referee and trying to discourage morgan from walking, i could make black beans. wait, beans...don't you just throw them in a crock pot or pot and basically they cook themselves? yeah, i'm just making excuses now.

it's ok to copy her list, exactly. it's genius.

7 foods for oct: chicken, apples, whole-wheat bread, avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach, and eggs.

i went shopping yesterday and spent $71.51 on my foods. i think this will feed me for about 7-10 days.

- $42.17 for organic, antibiotic-free, free-range chicken breasts, drumsticks, and sliced chicken
- $3.97 for gala apples (no organic option at wally world tonight and i don't have time to run to mr. nutrition tomorrow; but i will the rest of the month. after all, apples are the #1 dirty fruit, meaning most pesticides!)
- $7.24 for whole-wheat pita pockets, sandwich thins and tortillas (thank you brandon hatmaker! for the love of Texas!)
- $7.44 for 6 avocados (yeah, probably will only last 4 days as i have to share with my avocado-lovin' girls)
- $5.71 for 8 sweet potatoes
- $4.98 for 10oz organic spinach
- i had organic, free-range, antibiotic-free eggs, but i'll need more next week.

i plan on taking january off when we move to SD, and my other 7 peeps, aka my "council" will be doing food that month. i'll drive to san diego, stop and eat krispy kreme donuts and in-and-out burgers, and i won't even feel bad about it. the council may disown me in january.


i'm also shedding stuff. we have too much. others don't have enough. Jesus wants me to give. simple as that.

i'll be giving away 7 things each day for the month of october.

what makes me sick to my stomach is i have a whole 24-foot POD in storage in MD. really....really?

when is enough, enough?  (our pastor in austin wrote a book about this; you should totally check it out!) i've already packed up at least 50 pieces of the girls' winter clothing to drop off tomorrow at our church's clothes closet, which serves folks in our community who are in need of clothes. i haven't even gotten to MY closet of overabundance threads.

the point of 7 is to be less of Cort, and more of Jesus.

i can't wait to share with you how this journey will change, shape, stretch and make me cry big fat tears, because i just can't eat another bite of chicken. please pray for me, friends! i expect Jesus to show up in my life and all of my council members' lives in a BIG WAY!

my last meal tonight. an excellent organic piece of rib eye smothered with bearnaise sauce, paired with some vintage red wine. it was yummy.

did i mention i'm REALLY gonna miss coffee and red wine?? i'm gonna have the shakes without coffee and it's going to be real, real ugly the first few days.

i'll try really hard to update my blog weekly to sum up my 7 successes, failures, learnings, insights, and general whining.

thanks for following me and praying me through this journey! and thanks to my long-distance council, many of whom i don't even know...this is gonna rock!

and jen hatmaker, thanks for being obedient and faithful to see this experiment through. it's changing how people live and how we respond to God's call of more of Him in us, and less of us in us. thank you.