Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Gift of Friendship

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This is Mel.

We met on the God Sized Dream team in January.

Somehow we also ended up in this little “Mastermind” group that was a spinoff of the larger GSD group. There are less than 12 of us in that group so we got to know each other pretty well over the last 9 months.

Then she joined my Hello Mornings Bible study group for a session and she is now co-leading with my other friend Kami this session!

God finds way to bring people together.

This past weekend at Allume we were also roomies and discovered that we are sisters at heart.

I love this woman.

She makes me laugh, she borrows my boots ;), she mails me my computer cord when I have left it in the hotel room.

She is a gift.

Except for the online community – we probably would have never crossed paths. It is all God.

She and her husband were missionaries in Indonesia for 5 years before they had their daughter. She has a passion for others, especially those in other countries. At Allume, Uganda grabbed a hold of her heart.

I will be honest – it stinks not having her closer.

Spending time with Mel and the other girls at Allume gave me a taste of what real community can look like. As much as I wanted to be at home with my family – I didn’t want to loose that connection, that girl time.

I don’t have that here at home and it can be lonely.

But just like my friendship with Karlena, I know that miles do not separate and with social media and Voxer (the greatest invention since sliced bread), it doesn’t feel like she is too far away!

While God impressed on my heart a spirit of giving this weekend He also gave me the greatest gift that I could have asked for.

Mel, you are such a gift to me. I am so grateful that we get to do life together.  I wish it could be over coffee and hot chocolate more often, but since that isn’t possible right now I just praise God for the technology that makes the distance a little more bearable.

I adore you friend. YOU are a gift!

Give

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Allume 2013 is over.

Yesterday I felt a little lost, not having worship time with breakfast, lunch and dinner! What an amazing experience the past 5 days has been.  I went in to this hoping for community and what I found was so much more.

I was worried, just a little, that these God Sized Dream women I had grown to love over the past nine months might not be what I “expected”. What I found was that they were more gracious, more funny, more giving than I had hoped and I was filled with blessings time and time again.

Having the opportunity to do life with them for even a few days has filled my soul to overflowing!

People have asked what it was like, what did I learn? And I have needed to really process everything the past few days. There was so much and I will probably write several posts about what the speakers had to share specifically – I hope you stick around with me for those!!

But the one word that has been turning in my head from this weekend is GIVE.

I believe that God calls us to give. Give to others of our time, our love, our resources. I can hold on to these things so tightly and can be unwilling to share all the blessings God has poured out on me – but He doesn’t call us to be selfish – He calls us to be selfless and generous.

I believe that this is an area that He will be challenging me in the coming days.

We met with and heard from several organizations that work with the needy. It is my plan to feature one of these groups each month.  I believe strongly that it takes very little of my money, time etc., to make a HUGE impact on the lives of the hurting. I feel called to share these with you because it is possible that you, like me, have not heard of several of them.

And If you know of a group or organization that I might feature please email me and we can talk details!!

One of the best parts of the weekend was participating in an impact opportunity. We each chose a group to work with and did different projects. I worked with Sole Hope and I will be posting about them soon. They are amazing and are impacting the lives of so many little children and it is so easy to get involved!! I am hoping to take this to our churches youth group as well!

Giving can be hard.

It means that we have to let go of some of the comforts we have so that we can help change the world. But by giving we CAN make a change.

We have a voice here in the online community. God calls us to use our voices and be a light. The dark places here seem vast and overwhelming – but together, one step at a time, we can share hope to the lost.

Will you join me?

Seek out what God’s calling is in your life – what area He may be calling you to give. Maybe it is the gift of encouragement, maybe you have seen financial success and have excess to share, maybe you have someone in your life you need to forgive and you are ready to give that gift to yourself.

Seek Him.

Be generous.

Give of yourself and I promise that the what you receive in return will life changing!!

And to the women of the GSD team, you gave to me more than I can say. I laughed more than I have in years, I was loved and blessed by each of you and I am humbled by your grace. Thank you to each of you for being so generous with me.

And to the Allume team – WOW. Seriously WOW. As a “newbie” I walked away changed. I know less about how to self promote and more about how to live for God than I thought I would gain from coming. And I am so very glad. This weekend was a game changer for me and I am working to figure it all out I am thanking God for each of you that followed God’s vision for this weekend.

To God be the glory!!

Five Minute Friday – TOGETHER – Allume Style

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again  – LIVE FROM ALLUME!!! -this week to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is  TOGETHER – ready, set go –

I wasn’t sure exactly what this weekend would mean for me. This gathering of friends together at Allume.

I had hopes for meeting my roommates for the first time and developing those real life relationships…but I had no idea it would be like this.

I am home. I am with my people. These are women that know me and help me to feel more together.

Sisters. Girlfriends. Gifts.

Each of you know who you are. You have gifted me with laughter in ways I couldn’t imagine I could experience in the course of 24 hours.

If I walk away from this weekend with nothing else, I will feel blessed abundantly.

Thank you dear friends for loving me.

Thank you for accepting me.

I am finally at a place where I feel like I belong, and it is together with all of you.

This God of ours that brought us together in this unique way is showing me that He can fill the voids that my heart has felt for so long.

Thank you Jesus.

I am filled with overflowing.

And The Journey Begins….

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A view of the Chicago skyline from my first flight!!

The journey began last night really as I left my family and drove to Sioux Falls to stay with my parents so they could take me to the airport this morning. A journey that started many many months ago when I purchased a ticket to a conference I had heard about.

Allume – or All-U-Me if you ask Dominic 😉

It was a risk really. Trusting that God had something planned for me on this weekend. I felt a heart tug to go. Thinking that it would help me grow my blog and learn more about how to turn this blogging thing into something more.

But as the months counted down leading up to this weekend my heart changed. I started to get to know on a deeper level these women involved in the God Sized Dream Team. Many of them will be there this weekend. We will finally get to hug necks and laugh in person.

I have discovered that these women are “my people”. They pray with me and encourage me. They share deeply and honestly and love me for who I am, mistakes and all. They have given me community and friendship when I felt that lacking so much in my life.

While I am excited to hear the speakers and attend the sessions, even more, I am looking forward to building deeper relationship with these women I have grown to love as sisters.

Yes God has been preparing my heart to really let friends in again, even if it means I might have to give them up.  After losing a best friend almost 3 years ago I have been hesitant to really fill that void.  I didn’t want it to be a replacement, didn’t want to feel like I was letting Karlena go. And to be honest I don’t want to experience that hurt of loss again.

But I now there is no forgetting, or replacing. Karlena still holds a big part of my heart. She is one of the reasons I even had the courage to come in the first place.  I saw it in her first and I know it is now my time to step forward in faith and be brave. To seek God’s plan for my life, even if it is scary!

And I have seen that the value of community and friendship is so great, that it is worth the risk of loss. So my heart has become open to all of it – the good and the bad.

In the next 4 days I anticipate lots of laughter, loads of treats, chocolate and cupcakes and probably even some tears. As so many of us gather to celebrate the God that brought us to Greenville, SC and thank Him for the women He has put in our path.

Yes there is lots to learn, but I have a feeling that it is going to be a lot more heart learning than blog learning for me this year. And I can hardly contain my excitement!

And to all of my friends that can’t be there with us this time. Know you aren’t far from our minds and you will be with us in spirit…and maybe a little in Voxer too. 😉

Making Muffins in the Morning

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Tonight I am driving to Sioux Falls to stay overnight so that I can catch my morning flight to Greenville, South Carolina! I can hardly believe that Allume is here. It was months ago that I bought my ticket and booked the flight….and now it is here.

I am terrified and excited all wrapped in one.

I have a list of things that I really wanted to get done before I left. My floors are in desperate need of mopping. DESPERATE. But it just isn’t going to get done…(my apologies to Dominic’s family who are coming for a visit while I am gone!!)

I worked late at the office last night to get a few things done there as well so I can leave and not stress about what I am coming back to.

This morning I wanted some quiet time and maybe one last round of my ab exercises. My feeble attempting at fitting well into my skinny jeans. 😉 But my Elijah had different plans when he was up and out of bed at 5:10 am.

I could have easily been frustrated. I offered him a few easy choices for breakfast – but he wasn’t interested. So then I suggested muffins. He was excited and of course wanted to help.

If you have baked with children you know that nothing is quick and easy with littles under foot.  But I felt the Spirit prodding me to take the time. To set aside my agenda, my toned abs (ha!!) and my quiet time for quality time with my 3rd born.

So we got out the mix, I let him pour it in the bowl and add the milk, and he did the stirring. He loves to participate like that and I should let him help more often!

And so this morning we made muffins, chocolate chip ones. And they were yummy.  I didn’t get in my devotional reading, I didn’t get in my workout but I made a memory with my son.

I think God wants that from us as wives and mothers. I know that quiet time is important and taking care of my body is important. But I believe that we can honor God when we serve our family well.

So today I encourage you to find a little way to love on your family. Even if it means sacrificing your to-do list. I promise you will be rewarded for it!!

Five Minute Friday – Laundry

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is LAUNDRY– ready, set go –

It piles up every day, the laundry that my family produces.

With 6 of us in the family, I need to be doing laundry constantly or it would become overwhelming in a heartbeat.

Each morning before I leave for work I start a load on delay. The best invention for a working mom is a washing machine that can be set to run at delay so that it is complete when I come home for lunch. No more stinky laundry – I love it!

At times keeping up with it can be frustrating. The sheer volume of socks that comes out of my dryer taunts me. I despise folding socks. I will fold everything first before those socks and even then the socks might find themselves spinning along with the next load once again.

But if I stop for a moment I can see the blessing in my laundry.

For some, they have to take their laundry out of the home to pay at a Laundromat. I have access to my washer and dryer any time. For some women in the world, a dirty river is the only place available to get their clothes clean. I have an amazing laundry room compared to those standards.

I know there are women out there that would give anything to have to fold pairs or little socks and underwear, but for some reason can’t have children. Hearing mothers complain about something they only wish was a problem for them can be hurtful. I can see that with each sock that needs to be matched it represents a little member of my family.

I know it can be difficult to see something like laundry as a blessing, but it is. The piles represent life. Our life. With each new day there are messes and stains, but there is life happening around us and so I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my family in this way.

And some day I will hopefully defeat my fear of the overwhelming sock basket. For now I will continue to let my husband, who graciously offers to sort them, tackle that part of the job! 🙂

A Mom’s Night Out

In less than 2 weeks I will be heading out to Greenville, SC to attend Allume. I am a mess of excited and terrified right now but am just praying God’s blessing on this trip.

On Friday night we get to attend a PJ party hosted by the new upcoming movie Mom’s Night Out! We will get to see a sneak peak at the movie and then they are having an open mic time for people to share their blog posts about why we need a mom’s night out!  This is what I wrote and if I have the courage, I will share that Friday! 🙂

The growing stain on the kitchen ceiling was the first indication that something was terribly wrong.

Then my 16 year old son came downstairs carrying a soaked towel with these orangey chunks all over it.

Apparently there was a “bit of a mess upstairs”.

“Bit of a mess” didn’t even begin to describe what we walked into.

Puddles of water all over the floor, and Goldfish crackers, well the remains of what was once Goldfish crackers. What we found instead were piles of wet, mushy orange blobs. Blobs that stained the carpet I might add.

The play table was covered with a layer of water and every cup-like toy that was in the room was full.

After some prodding we realize that while I was downstairs taking care of our 2 1/2 year old who had the stomach flu, another whole story, our 4 year old son found an empty milk jug in the recycling bin and proceeded to fill it in the next door bathroom and carry it over to the toy room to “play”.

And play he did! He left no space untouched. Several toys just needed to be thrown away. But what about that stain? What had caused that stain in our kitchen ceiling?

Sure there was water all over the floor and it was soaked in places, but not so badly that I thought it would seep through to the floor below.

No something else had happened – but what?

And then I saw it….

In our house we have several vents covers that aren’t attached to anything and are easily moved. When I saw the cover moved over slightly I asked him…

“Did you pour water down the vent?”

Eyes wide, and guilt washed all over his face, he just stared at me.

Busted!

But things were starting to make sense. He had poured water down into the air vent and it had run it’s course until it found a seam and then had leaked out into the space above our kitchen.

Like his own little toy water slide. I am sure in his mind it seemed like a wonderful idea!

And so the clean up process began, the spills were wiped, the goldfish clumps scooped up and eventually the stain in ceiling would be painted over.

And I’d love to tell you that this was an isolated incidence, but the reality is this is what happened on Sunday afternoon….If I had more time I would tell you the story about the Desitin jug and toothbrush painting, the time we had to buy a plumber’s toilet snake to retrieve not one but 5 toothbrushes out, or the underwear in the sump hole story – yes that’s a doozie!!

I am sure you all have your own stories because being a mom is HARD work!!

And THAT is why I need a mom’s night out!

I’d love to hear your stories – please share one in the comments below!! Let’s get a laugh together today!!

Five Minute Friday – Ordinary

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is ORDINARY– ready, set go –

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Sometimes I forget to stop and see it.

The beauty in the ordinary all around me.

My kids recognize it without even thinking about it. My head seems so clouded with stress and fear, anxiety and worry about all I need to do in the little time I have in a day. I don’t stop to see the beauty around me.

We were having family pictures taken and as we were posing a dragon fly landed on Dominic’s knee.  The kids got all excited and everything stopped so that they could look at it.

What’s even better is that our photographer Heather took pictures of it!

She saw the beauty in the ordinary too.

As I look at this picture I can see it.

I can remember how excited the kids were, especially the younger 2. How Isaac wanted to capture his own picture, how they all stopped to see the beauty in the ordinary.

It is all around us. As I type I can see glimpses of the trees swaying in the breeze and the colors starting to change in the sky as the sun starts to rise.

If we are open to seeing it, what once seemed ordinary, is amazing and beautiful.

Are you looking for it??

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Funding a New Classroom for Mercy House Kenya!

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Mercy House Kenya is this amazing organization started by Kristen, blogger at We are THAT family.  I have been reading Kristen’s blog posts for several years and know that she has a heart for marriages and families but also for helping the lost.

God placed a big dream on her heart, a dream to open a safe place in Kenya for women to come who were alone and pregnant. In Kenya 21,000 women annually are hospitalized because of an unsafe, illegal abortion.  Kristen envisioned a place where pregnant women could come to be provided for and educated during their pregnancy.

You really must head over to her blog and read about some of the beautiful women and their babies that have been saved as a result of this amazing organization.

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Photo Credit: Bess Brownlee

(in)courage has partnered with Mercy House Kenya to raise funds for some big projects. In Phase One money was raised to buy a new (used) van for the women at MH.  Now we are on to Phase Two – New Classroom Spaces!

The goal is big – but our God is bigger!! I believe that when two, or three or four or more are gathered – amazing things can happen.  That is why I am here today. To ask for your help.

$8,500 is needed to fund this project. Myself and many other bloggers will be spreading the word about Mercy House and ways you can support them.

Would you consider a donation of at least $25 today? I don’t want to limit you, so if you feel led and are able to give more, please do. But when I think about what I waste on $25 in just a weeks time…well I think I have a little to spare for something as important as this!

Please checkout more information here and you will also find the button to donate if you are able. And please be in prayer for this organization and the women they are helping.

Thank you so much!

**Disclaimer – I am not being paid in any way to write about or for MH. I love what they do and believe in their mission and was excited to support them in spreading the word!!**

Undivided Mom – E-Book Review!

I am excited to share a new book with you today from my friend Kayse. Kayse is a wife and a mother and God has been working in her heart recently and she has written a 14 day devotional Undivided Mom to help mothers “find Christ in the midst of the chaos of motherhood”!

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As a wife, mother and a woman that works full time outside of the home I struggle with balance. It can be difficult to carve out time for me, time for studying God’s Word, time for my kids and my husband.

I know that I don’t handle the balance well – but I am seeking ways to do this better. One of the things I do in the mornings is spend some quiet time reading the Bible and other devotionals. It helps me begin my day right and usually encourages a better attitude for the day.

I was given an advanced copy of this new e-book devotional and started including it in my morning routine.  What I like about this book is that it is a quick and easy read – but challenging and encouraging.

Kayse is in the “thick” of motherhood and knows how challenging it can be. But she uses stories from the Bible and her own life experiences to help encourage other mamas to spend their time wisely  and have the right focus on and for our kids.

In her own words she challenges us to see where our heart is at….

“Are we anxious and worried about everything that we “need to do”, so distracted by serving that we forget to consider those we serve? Or are we concerned with the “one thing” that trumps all others?

Jesus has called us to be wives and mothers, yes. But first and foremost, He has called us to Himself! He desires our hearts more than our service. If we’ve got our hearts in the right place, everything else is secondary.”

And this gem of wisdom….

“Let’s be sure to communicate to our children that they are the ones we value before all else. That they are deserving of our time and attention. That they are loved, not only by us, but by the God who is never distracted and always available.” 

I can’t give away all the goodness though! You need to read it for yourself! And as a part of her launch party she is offering 20% off both of her e-books with code UMLAUNCH20! Coupon code will expire on October 13th.

And to add to the fun please check out Kayse’s launch post that has a Huge giveaway included!!

Do you struggle with finding balance?

Undived Mom

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