When I was very young, I lived on a coffee plantation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I ran barefooted with my brothers up and down the runway while my dad circled overhead, swimming his red and white airplane through an endless ocean of sky.
During the week, my older brother and I hopped on a yellow truck with bench seats in the back and bounced away to boarding school. My dorm parents had been missionaries in one of the jungle tribes, so it was appropriate that they were put in charge of civilizing a pack of missionary kids who would have rather been outside collecting beetles and climbing mango trees.
My roommate in that weathered wooden dormitory was Stephanie, the oldest daughter of my dorm parents. We weren’t much alike, and since she was several grades ahead of me (and far more mature); I must have made her crazy.
I did not know that one day, that curly-haired girl would become my sister.
We’re still not much alike, except we both have crazy hair and a slew of children and we both married men named Jeff. Some of our kids share names, too. Other than that, we’re totally different. For one thing, Stephanie is far more caring. When my husband was gone on Army business for months on end, Stephanie kept track of the days. She sent care packages and notes and checked in on me at just the right time.
That’s just like a big sister for you.
I don’t know how she has time to think of me at all. Stephanie is the mother to seven children, and the wife of a man who is busy balancing work and ministry. Jeff was a former missionary kid himself. The two of them met in training for mission work and spent a total of ten years preparing for and ministering to the Semandang tribe—the same people group Jeff’s parents had served when he was growing up in Indonesia.
One of their children nearly died there. They faced many challenges and hardships as missionaries. There were joys too–but if you’ve never been on the mission field, you cannot imagine what it is like to raise your babies in the jungle.
Stephanie and Jeff are back in the States now, working with their home church as youth leaders. Jeff is on the church board. They both disciple small groups of people while they pray about where God is leading them. They work, too, because it takes a lot of work to support a large family. For a time, Stephanie worked the night shift and came home just in time to homeschool the kids. Now, she is a caretaker for a few young children in her home while her own kids are in school.
It’s not easy managing a home, ministry, and work. But I love how consistently Stephanie demonstrates a Proverbs 31 woman to me. She is willing to work hard as a partner and helpmeet to her husband while being a loving mother to her children. I’m sure some days are very hard. But as far as I can tell, Stephanie does it with a servant’s heart.
Like I said, we’re not very much the same.
It seemed appropriate that Stephanie decided to become a consultant for Thirty-One, a company named after Proverbs 31. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? They sell amazing bags and organizational products. I even did a fun review on them here which you totally have to read because it’s funny. At least, I had fun writing it.
Stephanie decided to join the company for several reasons. For one thing, she wanted some of the bags. It’s easy to see why–they are beautiful, functional, and made to outlast seven children (which is saying something).
But she has a bigger dream. She wants to free her husband up to become even more involved in ministry. That’s just like Steph.
I wanted to support that vision and my step-sister’s dedication to her family. It’s a rare thing these days to witness a woman working beside her husband in ministry and in the precious calling of raising godly kids with such humility and grace.
I told Steph I would do an online party for her because I appreciate her so much. If you love Thirty-One bags, or if you’ve never heard of them but want to check them out, please click on the link to browse around! Your purchase will help Stephanie and Jeff in their desire to serve their church in a greater way.
To make things even more fun than shopping alone, I will be doing a giveaway! That’s right! Everyone who orders through Stephanie’s link above will be entered to win her choice of either this bag (in a print of choice):
or this one (again, in your choice of print):
All you have to do to be entered to win one of those bags is shop through the party link. Be sure you order before Friday, February 21 at 9 pm Pacific Time in order to be entered to win one of these bags. You should see the Five in Tow party title at the top of the screen when you order. That ensures that you’re ordering with this party so I can keep track of who is eligible to be entered. Also, if you’re a follower of my Five in Tow Facebook page, you “might” (wink wink) get in on a few extra giveaways while we run this party this week.
Have fun shopping, and thank you for supporting Stephanie!