Gun Violence: Stop Praying Start Doing

So, there’s been another mass shooting. Chances are you’re trying to make sense of it. You’ve read numerous posts asking “Why?” and “How.” And more than likely, you’ve seen a lot of people sending their thoughts and prayers.

But those haven’t been working, have they?

You’re asking your representatives to DO something because clearly something needs to change.

Maybe you know exactly what needs to change. Or maybe you’re feeling helpless and you want to help but aren’t sure we’re to start.

This post is for you. I’m offering up some “reasons” for these events that I have come across on social media and what I have told people who ask, “What can we do?”

Social Media Graphic with image of hand holding a sign that says Enough Is Enough Text overlay says Stop Praying Start Doing via MuddyBootsAndDiamonds.com blog post

But, but, but we need common sense gun laws!

  • Check out Giffords Law Center to see what the gun laws in your state are. I was surprised at some of the laws in Virginia. America is only as safe as the state with the weakest laws. Knowing what your state’s laws are can help you discuss what changes you’d like to see in your community.
  • Join Moms Demand Action. It’s not just for moms and they aren’t going after all your guns. Many of their volunteers are gun owners themselves; they just believe in responsible gun ownership. Volunteering usually costs nothing but your time. At the moment the most I can do is share posts on social media. But they also hold training so you can make calls, write postcards, man tables at events, and even talk to your family and friends about guns in the home.
  • Support and vote for gun sense candidates. Laws won’t change unless the majority of us vote in people who understand gun violence can be preventable and want to make it happen. The good news is that the majority of Americans want common sense gun laws passed, but we keep failing to vote for people who want the same.
  • Donate to or Volunteer with the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, which strives to create a culture change that prevents violence and other harmful acts that hurt children through their evidence-informed Know the Signs programs. 
  • Write/call your representatives and let them know what legislation you support and would like to see them support. Follow them on social media and tag/call them out if appropriate. (Unsure who represents you? Check here.)

But, but, but it’s a mental health problem!

Mental health in America sucks. There’s a stigma. There’s judgment. There’s a lack of awareness. There’s a lack of knowledge among the medical field. There’s a lack of therapists in rural areas. Medications are expensive, and it can take trial and error to find the right ones/combination. 

Being a mental health advocate, I could go on.

Check out these mental health organizations and learn how to get involved to normalize mental illnesses and make getting help easier for all:

But, but, but it’s a veteran problem!

Our troops deserve so much more than lip service on Armed Services and Veterans Day and 10% discounts at various businesses. Treating them like the heroes they are goes well beyond that. It includes acknowledging trauma and caring for them when they get home from a mission. Many times, this circles back to mental health crisis, so see above.

According to Veterans for Gun Reform:

Every day, eight children and teens are unintentionally injured or killed in acts of family fire. And easy access to guns is killing those within our veteran community as well. On average, 17 to 20 veterans die by suicide every day, and approximately two-thirds of them do so by firearm.

You know where I am going with this, right?

  • Volunteer to be part of the solution to prevent these deaths.
  • Write/call your representatives and let them know what legislation you support and would like to see them support. Follow them on social media and tag/call them out if appropriate. (Unsure who represents you? Check here.)

Cartoon Fists of Shades of Brown with text overlay that says Real Change Takes a Community via MuddyBootsAndDiamonds.com blog post Gun Violence: Stop Praying Start Doing

But, but, but it’s a healthcare problem!

Gun violence IS a healthcare issue and various groups have been telling us that for years. It’s a public health issue that has been labeled an epidemic in the United States.

Be aware of which legislators want to roll back the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA aka Obamacare). Doing so will go back to the “good old days” when you could be denied coverage for things like depression and anxiety (this includes postpartum depression, which can be temporary with the correct treatment). And even if you weren’t denied, insurance companies could limit your coverage. 

  • Don’t vote for anyone who wants to take away a person’s healthcare. 
  • Write/call your representatives and let them know what legislation you support and would like to see them support. Follow them on social media and tag/call them out if appropriate. (Unsure who represents you? Check here.)

But, but, but it’s a bullying problem in our schools!

  • Get on the PTA/PTO and go to those meetings.
  • Volunteer in your child’s school.
  • Attend school board meetings.
  • Attend teacher conferences, even if your child is doing well (I always ask about their emotional/social wellbeing; that matters more to me than if they’re testing well)
  • Pay attention to how you’re behaving. Children model the behavior they see and live with, and kid bullies can turn into adult ones.
  • If teachers are coming to you and suggesting or hinting there is a problem (this also goes for preschool-aged kids!!) you need to take a deep breath then sit down and talk with them. Ask for resources to help your child and follow through.
  • If you notice any changes in our child, don’t be ashamed to seek out the school’s counselor or a children’s therapist.

But, But, But now’s not the time to talk about this!

We can’t even go a week between massacres. At the rate we’re at, we’ll never discuss it.

Today was too late. The time is NOW! 

But. But. But. But. Butbutbutbutbut…

We can go round and round on what the “real” cause of gun violence in America is. But it’s really all of these things, and more (toxic masculinity, white supremacy and racism play big roles as well). It all needs to be addressed. It all needs to be fixed. If you feel one thing is the driving force, start donating and volunteering to fix that one thing. Start advocating to make that one thing better.

We can no longer offer up thoughts and prayers to God, the Universe, or grieving communities. If that’s all you’re doing, YOU. ARE. NOT. HELPING.

YOU are part of the problem.

And I suggest reflecting on “….Faith without works is dead…” (James 2:26).

Graphic with words Gun Violence Prevention Stop Praying Start Doing via MuddyBootsAndDiamonds.com

Honor gun violence victims with action.

I’m pretty sure Jesus would. Save your children, grandchildren, friends and family with action. Donate. Volunteer. Make your voice heard. Register to vote and vote in every election. Don’t be afraid to put country over party and begin voting for candidates that are willing to work with you to end this public health crisis and keep YOU alive.

Do something.

And I don’t mean pray or do push ups.

Write/call/tweet/message your representatives. Even if you know they agree with you; they are in a position to introduce, vote, and pass legislation. In other words, they are in a position to prioritize gun violence prevention and make changes in a shorter amount of time. Remind them you’re paying attention. Which reminds me: If you live in an area that doesn’t have many gun-sense candidates, or are frustrated with inaction by those who claim to be, Run For Something and become one yourself!

Making America a safe place to learn, work, and play takes all of us working together to achieve that goal. One person can plant the seeds, but it takes all of us to create changes. It’s past time to start demanding better of your neighbors and people you’ve voted to represent you.

Enough is enough. It’s time to get to work.

Pinterest Graphic with image of a hand holding a sign that says Enough is Enough text overlay says Stop Praying Start Doing via MuddyBootsandDiamonds.com

An Etsy Holiday Gift Guide

It’s not too late to order gifts for friends, family — or yourself! I’ve compiled some of my favorite finds from Etsy that are perfect for the entire holiday season!

Brown envelope with white card that says Etsy Finds for the Holidays surrounded by brown, gold, and white gift wrapping supplies

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Etsy and contains affiliate links. This means I will receive a small commission if you click on a link and place an order — all at no extra cost to you!

Etsy has compiled an exclusive 2021 holiday gift guide. I’ve clicked around and am sharing some of my favorite holiday finds with you today:

Holiday Decor

Check out my Holiday Decorations Collection here.

 

Holiday Card Displays

Check out my Card Displays Collection here.

 

Women's Holiday Tees

Check out my Women’s Holiday Shirts Collection here.

Which Etsy gift is your favorite? Let me know in the comments! 



Etsy Finds Holiday Decor pinterest image

Printful + Etsy: Print on Demand Made Easy

Drop shipping is easy when you integrate Printful with Etsy!

DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by Printful and contains affiliate links; however, all opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.

For years, I wanted to sell physical products with designs I have created myself, but I lacked the technology. I don’t have a fancy cutting machine. Nor the money or space to maintain an inventory.

That changed when the pandemic hit and we found ourselves with two kids learning virtually. We bought an iPad so they wouldn’t need to fight over my computer and I was finally able to purchase the Procreate app, which I had been eyeing for nearly a year.

Armed with a tablet, a stylus, and design app, I actually found myself doodling more than I was writing for my blog. Something about being stuck at home with three kids, our worlds turned upside down for a year, did something to my brain and motivation when it came to writing.

What I lacked in being able to put into 300+ words I could draw instead. And as I was doodling, I was researching ways to share and sell what I was working on with the rest of the world. That is when I learned about Printful.

Printful + Etsy Print On Demand Made Easy Pinterest Image

WHAT IS PRINTFUL?

Printful is one of the leading print-on-demand (POD) companies out there. You can use it for personal use or to start your own business with no upfront fees or inventory!

They have fulfillment locations and partner sites located around the globe, making them an ideal option for anyone to begin their own POD gig, or are interested in widening their customer base, such as the UK.

What stood out to me was that I could create my own brand once I signed up with Printful. As a white-label partner, they can attach my brand’s name to the products I sell, not theirs. For a fee, they will also store cards or other branded goodies should you wish to include those in your shipments. Other POD companies weren’t really offering that.

Map of Printful Fulfillment Centers as of 2021
Printful fullfillment and distribution centers

PRODUCTS

I began my Etsy shop with the intention of selling shirts. But Printful offers a wide range of other products they can customize for you to sell. With over 300 products in their catalogue, you’re sure to find something you like!

In addition to clothes, Printful can put your creations on hats, mugs, stickers, and notebooks.

They even embroider, for you lucky people with the software to create .EXP files!

Image of several products Printful offers for customization and print on demand services
Clothing is one of the many products Printful offers for POD drop shipping!

ETSY INTEGRATION

Printful partners with a variety of online shops, including Etsy. One of the reasons why I went with Etsy was because I already had an account and it was a brand I used and trusted.

Once you have created your Printful account, your next step is to set one up in Etsy and open a store, if you haven’t already. I recommend getting your store set up before uploading products to it. I used Canva to create a store banner and you can use it to create a logo as well! Having your storefront set up as much as possible will help your credibility with potential customers.

Before you can begin selling, you’ll need to connect your store to Printful. It was as simple as approving some permissions so the two can “talk” to each other.

A few helpful tutorials got me started. I highly recommend reading and watching tutorials on how to make the best of integrating and listing your products.

Etsy Listing for Future Voter toddler t-shirt via MuddyBootsAndDiamonds.com
A completed Etsy listing from my shop.

COST

While it’s free to set up Printful and Etsy accounts, there is a $0.20 fee to list your work on Etsy. This was the cheapest option for me, as some of the other companies Printful integrates with had monthly fees. I just couldn’t justify spending money every month when I wasn’t sure how successful I’d be. But I could swing 20 cents every few months.

With Etsy, you listings are good for three months. You have the option to have them automatically renewed or renew them manually. I choose to renew manually because I can assess how well an item is doing before deciding whether or not to keep it in my shop.

Buying samples also costs money, but if you’re happy with what comes in the mail you can take your own photos and upload them to your store to help entice customers. Printful lets you purchase the products at cost, making them less expensive. You could skip this entirely, but it’s nice to see and feel the quality yourself.

Personally, I find Printful’s print quality of shirts to be one of the best!

Inside PRINTFUL fulfillment center two men working the screen printing machines

HELPFUL TIPS

Printful will upload your product’s info to Etsy as a draft. You’ll need to enter a bit of information in your Etsy store’s back end before you’re ready to sell:

Printing Partner
This is a MUST. Your customers need know who is making your product and what roles everyone plays.

Description
Printful will import information about the product being printed on. It’s up to you whether you add more to entice patrons to buy or describe your design. Doing so helps customers find you, though.

Tags
Think of these as Key Words. Etsy lets you add up to 13 tags to describe your product and help people find it.

Attributions
This is optional, but it will also help people find what they’re looking for.

TIPS FOR MAKING SALES

  • Promote Promote Promote! No one can buy when they don’t know it exists. When I put a new product up for sale, I share it to Twitter. When I’ve worn my products, I’ve shared via Instagram with a link.
  • Link up! Anywhere you can link your store, do so. Your Facebook profile. Your Instagram profile. I’ve even come across a post or two on social media asking for small businesses to support, and I’ll add it there if I think my store is a good fit.
  • I’ve also opted to allow Etsy to share my products via SEO ads. They take a bigger cut (advertising fee) if someone buys it, but it’s how I made my first sale!
  • Put time into the tags and descriptions. Like blogging, SEO is super important on Etsy as well.
  • Upload photos of the products you order yourself onto your listing. This lets visitors get a better sense of print quality and how an item might be used.

BOTTOM LINE

At the end of the day I’ve been happy with my experience with the Printful and Etsy integration. When I have questions, Printful has responded quickly, and they’ve even walked me though the process of changing an order for someone.

And you can’t beat having someone else help with the printing and shipping, giving you more time to create and share those products with the world (including the UK)!

Pinterest Image of Paintbrushes and watercolor painting text overlay says Print on demand made easy via blog Muddy Boots and Diamonds

Already an Etsy store owner? Learn how to Grow Your Etsy store with Printful!

Here’s How to Help People Affected by the Government Shutdown

I can still remember my first government shutdown. I was in middle school and my dad was furloughed. In an effort to save my family money, I brought home my brown paper bag from lunch every day to reuse.

I remember the ones from the Obama administration. And then the one that made me most upset – back in 2018. Over a structure.

The only government shutdown that truly affected me was that one in middle school. I was a kid, and I could tell my parents were stressed out. Which is why I did the only thing within my power at the time: reuse my brown paper bag.

I honestly don’t care what side you’re on: debates over a structure — or flat out refusal to work with others, like we’re seeing now — shouldn’t stop people from going to work and getting paid. It’s happening too often, when it was a rare occurrence (if it ever occurred) before I was born.

Helping People Affected by the Government Shutdown

Having lived in an area saturated in government workers and now living in an area with a good mix of government employees and military families, I’ve seen a lot on Facebook from folks wanting to help when these shutdowns occur, but aren’t totally sure how.

I’ve taken what I’ve seen suggested over and over in various Facebook Groups, along with a few of my own ideas, and compiled a list. Whether you personally know someone who has been affected or not, there is a way you can help out those in your community affected by the government shutdown now.

Send them a gift card

This can be a gift card to a grocery store or a favorite restaurant. Also consider gas cards, as those who are still working but aren’t being paid are dipping into their savings to pay for gas to commute.

Make them a meal

It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. A lasagna or casserole will do. Invite them over for dinner or take one over to their house. These make-ahead meals would be perfect if you’re looking for ideas on something to deliver a friend or neighbor.

Send them a meal

Order them a pizza or even sign them up for a meal subscription box.

Offer to babysit

A furloughed parent brought up an excellent point: as much as she loves her kids, she needs a break from being around them all day. As a SAHM I can relate. Offering to watch their kid(s) for an hour or two can give them a chance to do something for themselves or simply get a few necessary tasks done.

Host a play date

Provide lunch or some snacks.

Donate to Local Diaper Banks

If you’re a parent, you probably know how expensive diapers are (about $70-$80 per month per baby). A staggering 1 in 3 families cannot afford to put clean diapers on their baby. To find a diaper bank near you, visit the National Diaper Bank Network.

Donate to Local Food Banks

To find a local food bank near you, visit Feeding America.

Don’t forget about those with food restrictions! While you’re reaching for the peanut butter consider buying a jar of Sunbutter to donate as well. Food allergy families tend to spend more on groceries as the substitutes available cost more.

Hands holding food to put in cardboard box marked donations

Reach out to your local schools

Our boys attend a Title 1 school. Part of this means that most of the students receive a free or reduced lunch. The school actually has an ongoing food drive to help make sure students are fed after school and weekends. You might not know this unless your child attends the school (I didn’t!), so it doesn’t hurt to find out if your local school(s) have something similar in place.

Frequent restaurants offering discounts or free services to those affected by the shutdown.

They’re losing money by doing these things. Help make it worth their while by popping in and buying a meal of your own.

The same goes for any business offering discounts or free services to furloughed government workers.

Share the love on social media

Know of a business offering free lunch? A church offering a hot meal? A discount on tickets to a play place? Did you find a list of local resources to help people affected by the shutdown? SHARE IT!

Sharing encourages others to share. When more people share, those who are silently struggling know where they can go for assistance without asking around.

Support the side hustles

There are some government workers who have a side hustle. My dad was one. And if they don’t, their spouse might. Many of my friends do. Support them! Buy something. If you are unable to, then share their websites and posts so they are seen by wider audiences.

Contact your local Coast Guard base and find out what items you can bring into the food pantries they have opened up.

Call your representatives

This is the #1 response I’ve read from people who are directly affected by the shutdown. When they’re asked “how can I help?” they haven’t responded with “I need gas money” or “I need money to pay my heating bill.” They have been telling us to use our voices to end the shutdown and get the government back open by calling our representatives in Washington.

How are you helping your community during the government shutdown?

How to Help Those Affected by the Government Shutdown via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Springtime Word Search for Kids

Snow is melting. Birds are chirping. Trees are blossoming.

It must be springtime!

Today I’m sharing another word search that you can print out and use for fun or your homeschool curriculum! This Springtime Word Search is perfect for elementary-aged kids. Let them take it outside to complete on a warm day, or use it as an indoor activity on a rainy April day.

If you’re homeschooling, my Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt makes a great compliment to the word search if you need an additional activity for younger children.

Image of Springtime Word Search graphic with text overlay via muddy boots and diamonds blog

A thing about my printables:

This word search is 8.5×11 inches. If you’d like to use this for yourself, feel free to download it and print a few out. But please….

  • This printable is for PERSONAL USE ONLY
  • You MAY NOT resell, redistribute, or claim the original as your own
  • If you post this on the internet, please give credit to this blog, Muddy Boots and Diamonds, and link back to this specific post so others can obtain the resource.
  • I’d love to see how you incorporated this scavenger hunt into your Halloween plans! Feel free to tag me (Twitter: @bootsndiamonds or IG: @muddybootsndiamonds) when sharing your photos!

Download your Springtime Word Search for Kids here.

Springtime Word Search with text overlay pinterest graphic via muddybootsanddiamonds.com