Wednesday, May 29, 2013

End of the School Year: This n That

There has been so much I've wanted to blog about lately -- fun things happening in our lives, and yet, I don't have time to record everything! Well, when my girls get home today, they will be 5th and 7th graders. I still can not believe how quickly life is flying by with these two amazing girls.

The last few months, I've let the girls get instagram accounts. I'm monitoring them closely because the online world is a scary place these days for tweens and teens. 

But I have liked seeing what the girls choose to put on their pages, and seeing their friends like their pages.  And I'm smitten with instagram, so it's been fun to have them interacting with me on there too. 

Here was a screen snapshot of Morgan's account today.  Gotta love the Spartans photo! :) 

I've had quite a few sales in my etsy shop, this month -- two large orders -- one for 24 coasters and another for 12 nameplates -- gifts for team members and volunteers.  It's been a fun little adventure these past 6 months!

I sold them at Minden Place here in town for 3 weeks and made over $40, but then she decided to close shop for various reasons, so that was short lived! :) Oh well.  

Here's one of the orders...

The girls had lots of fun with their architectural skills this past week -- and built some fun fortresses in our backyard in the trees. Complete with zip-lines, weapon rooms, and more! Love their creativity!

And lastly, the not-so-good-news to start summer. Yesterday, lunch started out great -- having lunch with my neighbor! Chatting away...and then, all of a sudden something didn't feel right. I went to the bathroom -- and my tooth had broke in half!! Geez.

Luckily, could see the dentist in the afternoon -- only to find out they could not fix it nor save it. It will have to pulled by the oral surgeon on Friday. Then I have to get an implant. And then a crown. This whole process will take 6 months. It's crazy. And let's just say, that even with insurance kicking in, it will still be over $2k for all of this...not exactly how I wanted to start the summer!  The worse part -- my tooth - was a perfectly healthy tooth -- no cavities, no fillings -- the dentist said it was just one of those 'weird things'! Lucky me!!

So life goes...but I'll take the bad mixed with the good...if it means a full life!

Now, to finish up our final A to Z Summer Fun list before the girls get home shortly and summer officially begins! :)

The Dream Journey

It's hard to believe this God-Sized Dream Team commitment is coming to an end. Here's the last assignment from Holley: We’ve been walking the path of God-sized dreams together for a few months now. Will you share an update with us about your dream? Let us know where you are with it–the happy and the hard. Tell us how we can pray for you and your dream too. 

Wow, I didn't know what to expect when I signed up (and was actually selected!) to be a part of Holley's team!  What has truly inspired me are all the other women who are authentically pursuing God-sized Dreams that God has placed in their heart.  This community of women has been nothing short of inspiring and motivating to me! It's a beautiful thing! It's one of those 'glimpses of heaven' things.  This team to me has been what the body of Christ should be (and sadly, often is not) -- real, encouraging, uplifting, honest, supportive, faithful.  This journey is one that I will long remember as the years go by.  These women, this team, will give me strength as I journey forward, knowing I am not alone.

So, as Holley update on my dreams...

Creating Family Friendly Apps -- I haven't completely given up on this dream. I still think some of my ideas would make some fun apps -- so I'm still keeping my ears and eyes open for an opportunity to partner with someone on some app development!  However, what I've discovered on this journey is that the heart (or the why) behind this is that I want to encourage family togetherness. Healthy families can prevent so much heartache, not only now, but later on in life too! Healthy families, families that have fun together, have the power to make a difference in the world! Healthy families are happy families, enjoying their one life well!

This dream journey has reminded me that in many ways I am already living this.  I get to share my family ideas every week through The Good Stuff Guide, which already has a huge audience of readers! Through my own blog, I also get to share my ideas with friends and family.

Another thing this dream journey has shown me is that I want to pursue my dreams in real relationships, in real life, not just with online relationships and unknown people. Though I've met some amazing online people -- I'm wanting to connect in real life more, and I'm asking God what that looks like and where I can inspire and encourage other families (and be encouraged in my own) in real life!

Publishing My Memoir -- The story of my grief and healing. Of murder, of not guilty verdicts, of healing. I want others who are going through similar tragedies to be encouraged by my own journey.  And I've been researching and making a list of several publishers who I am hoping to submit book proposal later this year.  But again, this dream has drawn me to real life. There are grieving people right here in my own community. I am going to start volunteering with Lost and Found Grief Center this summer, and more in depth this fall.

I've also got a children's book idea, I'm hoping to polish up this summer and submit to a publisher or two! And while I treasure moments, and living in the now, there is such value to dreaming, to looking forward -- when God places dreams in our hearts -- we live fully when we are faithful to pursing them! I read a saying awhile back, that went something like this: "Don't you think God smiles when we enjoy the life he gave us?" And sometimes enjoying life means right now, and sometimes it means looking forward.

If you have a dream in your heart, and haven't picked up a copy of Holley's You're Made for A God Sized Dream book -- I encourage you to order a copy today! You won't be disappointed by all the encouragement and hope you'll receive from the words in the pages!

I think this so so perfect for us <3

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A to Z Summer Fun (Girls' Versions)

So, it's about summertime, and we've got our A to Z summer fun list on our minds! I asked the girls what they'd put on the list if they could make it this year - they had some great ideas.  Here's what they came up with on their own...

A is for Andy's 
B is for ball games
C is for coldstone
D is for dog day
E is for eat Chinese 
F is for father day
G is for game day
H is for half priced sonic shakes
I is for ice cream day
J is for jello day
K is for kite flying
L is for lick your lolly pop day
M is for mom day
N is for nap day
Ois for outside day
Pis for popcorn day
Qis for quiet day
Ris for riding day
Sis for sunshine day
Tis for taco day
Uis for u do it your way
Vis for viking dress up day
Wis for water day
Xis for xtra watermelon day
Yis for your imagination day
Z is for zebra painting (or zoo day)

(BTW, she made a complete powerpoint presentation of her ideas!)

A - Animal Day (go to the zoo with casella family)
B - Bring together hands day (invite friends to help clean up our world)
C - Counting Day (count things we're thankful for)
D - Deserve Day (think of someone and give them something)
E - Egg Roll Day (Chinese for dinner with dad)
F - Fun Day (we each think of something fun and do it!)
H - Hugs hope and happiness day (bring joy to others around you)
I - Ice cream day (with dad)
J - Jumping Jacks Day (go to Chesterfield)
K - Kick back and relax (hang outside, play in water)
L - Lickity split day (make huge hot fudge banana splits)
M - Mouth watering Day (go get whatever your taste buds are screaming for)
N - News Flash Day (get old newspapers and doodle on them)
O - OOOOH AAAH day (go see a movie)
P - Pop Pop Pop Day (Go Eat Lunch with Pop - bring popped popcorn pizza and soda pop)
Q - Quack Day (have Henry over to go feed the ducks)
R - Race Day (think of funny races to do)
S - Spa Day (go get our nails done at mom's nail salon)
T- Trip Day (Take a trip to a secret place)
U - Up Up Up and away (watch Mary Poppins as she goes up up and away)
V - Vacation Day (lets stop A-Z fun and do whatever we want)
w - What is that smell Day (go into kitchen and just start baking)
X - X-citing Day (what is on our agenda for today, where are we going, is it a surpirse?
Y - Yikes Day (it is the second to last day, so lets go have a campfire!)
Z - ZYX...learn the alphabet backwards. 

So, now, what to do, what to do? Complete both of their lists? Combine a few of each of theirs and some of my own ideas into one list?! Hmmm.  Whatever we do, I'm sure it will fall somewhere between awesome and zany fun! I LOVE SUMMERTIME!! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It Began with a God-Sized Dream: Nonprofits Impacting the World

Tuesday's Link Up With Holley -- God-Sized Dreamin' at it's best! Take this “do what you can” step for your God-sized dream: Share about your favorite nonprofit organization. They are all God-sized dreams in action. How have they inspired you? 

There are so many great nonprofit organizations out there! Sometimes I wish I could support all of them!  So I've narrowed it down to two that are on my mind this morning.

Locally, and as it relates to my God-Sized Dream, I really appreciate Lost and Found Grief Center, and I really would like to begin to volunteer there. (They only have 1 volunteer training a year - in the fall, so I have to wait).  You see, as I've been processing the dreams in my heart, I know that I want to help people heal on their own journey, especially as it relates to grief and all that one must process when a loss occurs.  While I hope my written words will one day benefit others, I've felt more of a tugging that I need to be connecting locally, in-real-life, with others on this journey.

Convoy of Hope

Locally and Globally, I love Convoy of Hope: A Driving Passion to Feed the World. Before we moved here 5 years ago, I'd never even heard of this amazing organization, that is based here in Springfield, and impacts millions of lives around the world, through disaster relief and local feeding programs.  They have opportunities where we can volunteer on Tuesdays, and I'm looking forward to doing this again with the girls this summer with more flexible bedtime schedules! (Want to join us?!) I love knowing that our efforts do make a difference.

A few years ago, I got to hear the founder of Convoy of Hope speak at our church, and wow - talk about a God-Sized Dream, that God placed in his heart! I'm so glad he followed that dream! What started with him buying groceries and handing them out in poor neighborhoods (through local churches) from the back of his truck --to 16 years later having fed 55 million people in 100 countries, and $304 million worth of supplies and food given away. WOW!

BONUS: If you've never heard of Mercy Ships (and before this morning, I had not!), you should read what my friend Mel has to say about them. Amazing, beautiful people working for this nonprofit!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mike's Day Off

Happy Birthday to Harry S. Truman! (Thus, the reason Mike had today off. There are benefits to being a state employee!)

So, Mike's day off...he got up early to take Morgan to school, then came home and loaded up bikes. After Sarah headed to the bus, we headed to the Frisco Highline Rails-to-Trails for some biking.  We ended up biking 20 miles! 

There was even a mountain bike trail that ran parallel with the trail, so we got on that for a couple of miles. I love mountain biking.  We had so much fun pre-kids mountain biking regularly.  Maybe one day I'll jump over logs and plow through creeks again! :) For now, we enjoyed the conversation, exercise, and time together this 20 miles allowed us. 

Mike even had a flower get stuck in his bike spoke, see it there in the middle...

He then took Sarah lunch (nuggets, fries and a frosty) and ate with her in the school cafeteria. Always an experience! Then we cuddled on the couch, watch some shows on netflix, til Morgan got home and they left to go get some blizzards at DQ together. 

And guess what!? Our new storm doors came in! So after a quick trip to Lowes to pick them up, he's spent the evening installing the first one! Oh, I love it!!!  I've wanted these since we moved in 5 years ago. I'm thankful for the overtime he's worked the last few months so we could afford these 'extras'! 

I love how Mike took time on his day off to spend some time with each of us, so I just had to write it down, just in case we ever start forgetting how awesome he is (although I don't think that's possible!) 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Love Does

Guess What? It's Tuesday, time for Holley's God-Sized Dream Link-up  (and, yes, I'm actually posting my post on said Tuesday, don't faint!)

Today's assignment: Find a way to pay it forward. You’ve been encouraged in your God-sized dreams by your sisters here the last few months. How can you spread that encouragement forward by investing in other dreamers? It can be small and simple or BIG and wild. Ask God what you can do and get creative. Then write a post about what you’re doing and link it up below.

I did find a way to pay-it-forward, but I am going to keep it private, and  instead, share with you a story from my past.

<< Rewind to 1994 <<

We had been married not even four months. I was working what temp jobs I could find, while Mike took classes at Michigan State and worked part-time in the dorm cafeteria. Good times.

Rewind just a bit more: Two weeks before our wedding, I wrecked our car -- late at night, country road, county had just put down loose gravel, I went too fast around the curve and came face to face with a tree.  I was fine. The car was not. We used most of our wedding money to fix our car.

Then, a couple of months later, we were rear-ended in a hit and run.  Thankfully we were again okay, and the car was still driveable. It looked horrible, but we drove it for 3 more years with a smashed back end that needed a screwdriver to pop the trunk.

Then just weeks after the hit and run our transmission went out.  I remember taking our car to the shop, and having to walk back to campus -- it was a good 2-3 mile walk on a brisk sunny day.  And I remember the tears and wondering how in the world we were going to pay for this.  Love is good, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Later that week, in the mail, we got a large check from some good friends.  They were by no means wealthy -- they were a few years older than us, raising two kids, serving in ministry. But they reached deep into their hearts, and generously shared their money with us to meet a very real need in our lives. It was then and there that Mike and I knew we would pay-forward this act of kindness to others when we were able to later in life.
You never know what just a gesture could do for someone else.  Think about it!

One small deed of encouragement (love in action) has the power to alter the course of one's life. That is the truth we experienced.

And writing this just now, reminds me that we got to hear Bob Goff at church a few weeks ago, and I need to get his book, Love Does from the library! If I ever get to be as wealthy as him, I hope I use my money to change lives like he does, but I will also not let my lack of wealth keep me from doing good now with what I have been given.  I'm glad God gives us others, to encourage us, while we pursue the dreams He places in our hearts!

If you've never heard Bob Goff, check out this short you-tube video (this guy put his personal cell phone number in the back of his book for readers and tries to answer every call he receives!):

Monday, May 6, 2013

Winter in May?

I had to capture this past weekend (May 3-4) because it has been 69 years since it has snowed in Missouri in May!! This is what we woke up to last Friday...

So I did my best to cheer myself up with some extra chocolately hot cocoa in my newest favorite mug...

I mean, after all, this was me on my deck just 2 days previously, trying not to be quite so pastey-white...

 Then Saturday morning, we had signed up to run the May Day 1 Mile Fun Run in we kept our commitment.  We had a good time, despite the temperature!

And I'm definitely glad our temps are back up into the 70s this week!! Because I love Spring!! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friends who Inspire Faith

Yes, I know it's Friday and I'm just now linking up with Holley's God-Sized Dream Team Link up from Tuesday! This week's assignment: Write a letter of encouragement to another dreamer in your life. Share your letter by including it in a post and linking up below.

Last month, I actually sent out a few of these letters of encouragement in snail-mail. I didn't want to repeat myself, so I've been pondering this for many days.  The last few nights I've been awake in the middle of the night and found myself praying for several friends in my life.  Through those prayers I was inspired to write this letter to three of them.

You see, these friends, have all taken huge leaps of faith this past year, trusting in God. Let me give you a 'snapshot' of each.

Lisa: I've met her through Holley's God-Sized Dream team, and she writes a beautiful blog called Life After The Shore -- and it talks about her journey leaving the only life she ever knew, and beginning again.  As a teen, her parents joined a cult, but she & her husband heard God's voice saying, 'walk away, I have bigger plans for you!' and so they did! You can read here story here.

Janelle: I met her just over a year ago. She was over the children's ministry at our church campus in Nixa.  I love her genuineness, her ability to organize, encourage and inspire.  But here's the thing. She and her husband have felt this calling to go and plant a new church. Not just anywhere, but in Las Vegas. So with a toddler, and without jobs, they stepped out in faith, moved back to Nevada to live with family for a few months, as they pursue this dream in their hearts to share God's love with the broken souls in Las Vegas.

Angela: When I met Angela, she was leading a study on Jill Savages's book, Professionalizing Motherhood.  Our kids were drinking bottles, now they are in middle school.  She has been a dear friend though the years. We still text regularly.  She has a heart for other cultures. And right now that heart means pursuing her doctorate degree in order to pursue the dreams God has placed in her heart.  This meant her and her husband left good paying, stable careers, to move half-way across the country, believing that God would provide, as they stepped out in faith.

Dear Lisa, Janelle, and Angela -

Do you know how many times your faith inspires me?  Often it convicts me.  I want security. I want to have some control over my future (as if that's possible, but still I try!). I want to have 'comforts' (often financial), before I pursue dreams.  I may hear God whispering, or even waving his arms loud trying to get my attention, and so often, I make excuses. I don't have that faith that you have.  And yet, I find myself praying to God, asking Him to help me find a faith like yours.

I know each one of your journeys has not been easy. It has not always been full of things going the way you hoped they would. It has meant sacrifice in many ways. Oh, there has been times when God has answered prayers 'yes'! and times when He said "no" or "wait" -- and there you stand with this dream in your heart, wondering, longing to see it be reality, teetering on that edge of faith, clinging at the same time, to the dream, to the Dream-Giver.

How beautiful this world is because of people like you who truly live out their faith. Not without fear, but with confidence in the One who placed these dreams in your heart. Your faith, in knowing He will provide, is beautiful and inspiring. I know that many lives are and will be touched with His love because of the brave choices you have made.

Please know that I pray for each of you -- for strength when the way gets hard, for God to show up in a big way and meet your needs, for your dreams to become reality, for your families, for your hearts to be encouraged by Him.

I'm glad God let our paths cross. My life has been forever touched by you.

With love and admiration,