Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Christmas Gift Giving Guide From Buzz By Annies

The Christmas gift buying frenzy is in full swing as proven by Black Friday newscasts showing ridiculously long lines of people waiting to get that buy of the season. In a most unfortunate incident an employee at a Long Island Wal-Mart was killed in the crush of early morning shoppers and to those who were involved in that, shame on you. Seriously.

As I have mentioned, I'm not big on the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping melee, but to those of you who are, I have not problem with that. I'm just not into getting up at 5am to fight over half-priced socks at Freddie's. I am, however, a huge fan of online shopping. It literally is shopping at the push of a button, or a few clicks of the mouse. So, for those of you who would like to avoid the crowds, it's time to give Christmas shopping from the comfort of your own home a try. Here are a few suggestions for buying the perfect gift for that loved one or dear friend.

1. The Sarcastic Ball

Some of our friends and family need a little abuse now and then. If you are not around to dish it out, the Sarcastic Ball will do a lovely job of taunting them with sayings like, "ask me if I care" and "yeah right". With over 20 sarcastic saying this is the gift that keeps on giving.

2. Chicks Dig You Bowl

Get that special man in your life pumped up with a daily dose of affirmation by giving him the 'Chicks Dig You!' bowl. Catchy phrases like, 'You're the Man!', 'You're Handsome!', 'You're Strong!' and 'You're Charming!' will help to raise self-esteem and build confidence. He'll be a new man before you know it. Available in several colors.

3. The Coughing Ashtray

Perhaps you know someone who has struggled with smoking and would like to quit. Here is your chance to show them just how much you care and that help is on the way. Give that smoker the gift of the Coughing Ashtray that looks like real lungs. Each time the smoker places a cigarette onto the ashtray it activates a real-life simulated disturbing coughing and screaming fit. Now that is saying 'I care about your lungs'.

4. Lookin' Good for Jesus Virtuous Vanilla Lip Balm

Here is a way to help that special someone be worthy and be noticed with the Virtuous Vanilla lip balm. This lip balm comes in SPF 182 for those moments when the heat is really turned up. They will be tight with Christ by looking their Sunday best with the Virtuous Vanilla Lip Balm.

5. The Boyfriend Arm Pillow

Now your favorite gal pal will never feel lonely again with the ultra snugly Boyfriend Arm Pillow. She can curl up on the couch with this comforting arm that will wrap around her as if to say, 'I'm sorry work was rotten today,' or 'No, you pick what we watch tonight,'. This is a gift that truly says, 'you're not alone'.

6. The Benefit From My Opinion Cards
Do you ever feel as though people just don't understand where you're coming from? Well now is your chance to tell people just what your opinion is with these fabulous opinion card books. Each book contains 47 tear-out cards that allow you to give those around you some much needed advice whether they need it or not. Never again will they wonder what your opinion is.

These are just a few of the insanely precious gifts that I plan on giving this Christmas season to those lucky ones in my circle of friends and family. What are some of your favorite gifts that those around you be receiving this Christmas?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hail Hail The Gang's All Here

This past Thanksgiving was one of my most favorite. Ever. It was full of laughter, kids, more kids, even more kids, my family, good food and kids. I was with those who I share my life with and whom I love dearly. So, I thought I would give you a glimpse into my very big family (my older brother Matt has 12 kids and he and his wife are my heros, let me tell you!). So here's to family (Helen, raise your glass!).

The cousins from top to bottom... Killian, Taylor, Kenzi, Olivia, Ethan, Claire, Gabe, Merri Grace, Evie, Wade, Abram, Ally, Eli, Ezra, Madeline, Brenton...whew!

Kenzi, mom, me, dad...

My beegest bro Scott(holding Oliva) and my 'just big' bro Matt(with all the kids)...

Kenz, Jon and me...

Kenz and Killian...

John Matthew, John Taylor and John Dennis...


...and Gabe giving a wink!

Ye Old Christmas Quiz

So it's the day after Thanksgiving and I'm already feeling a little bit Scrooge. (Could be the fact that I spent all morning at the DMV, one guy tells me to do one thing and after going back and waiting half my life again the gal tells me that was not the correct answer. So all that waiting for naught and Jon is now on his way to the DMV. Oregon is one of the lamest states ever.)

I promised my friend Sherri (who writes an awesome blog) that I would answer her Christmas quiz and post it on my blog today. I am going to apologize up front should there be an unusual level of sarcasm or scroogeness in my answers.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Mostly envelopes. I'm big on gift cards since we have all teenagers and they prefer to pick out their own stuff.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
I want to get an artificial tree because I can't stand how the pine needles start falling off immediately. I didn't even have a tree last year. Yeah, can you say l-a-m-e.

3. When do you put up the tree?
IF I buy one as soon as I purchase it.

4. When do you take the tree down?
The day after Christmas. See note on pine needles in question #2.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Depends on what is in it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
A Raggedy Ann doll. I still have it.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
My step-kids, so I pretty much leave it up to Jon.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Kenzi. This year she has requested no gifts, just money. Teenagers...

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
I actually have two but haven't seen them in about three years. They're in a box somewhere...

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I haven't done either in almost five years. I will add that to my New Year's resolutions.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Bad perfume.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
It's a Wonderful Life.

13. When do you start shopping?
Any day there aren't huge crowds. I never go the day after Thanksgiving because people are so ridiculous.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I don't think I've done anything so low as that but I've witnessed my daughter receiving a gift that has kept on giving.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Oyster stuffing and sweet potatoes. (Just kidding. I knew that would freak Jon out.)

16. Lights on the tree?
All white. When I have a tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Traditional stuff like, 'O Holy Night', 'Joy To The World', etc. But I'm not ready to start hearing that yet.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Both. But, this year we will probably stay home because we don't have the kids(except Kenzi) until the day after Christmas.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's?
Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Sneezy... and Rudolph.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
When I was a heathen it was a bow, but now that I'm a better Christian it's an angel.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Depends on when we have the kids (yeah, blended families...) and where we are, yada, yada. But most of us like to open gifts on Christmas eve because we are so impatient that way.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Pushy people and hearing kids saying 'I want...I want...I want....'. People have totally forgotten WHY we have CHRISTmas in the first place.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
I prefer silver and blue with white lights on the tree. When I have a tree.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Is this #15 re-worded? I'd prefer prime rib with oyster stuffing and sweet potatoes. (Ok, just the prime rib.)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
World peace. (But since I'm a realist and know that won't happen - and it's a cheesy answer anyway, I'll take a new washer and dryer.)

26. Who is most likely to respond to this?
Everyone who has already responded...

27. Who is least likely to respond to this?
Nobama and NSYNC.

28. What was your most memorable magical memory from your adulthood?
I'm still waiting for it. But I'm sure it will involve a sleigh ride, moonlight glistening on the snow, snowflakes on my eyelashes and Bing Crosby singing in the background.

29. Have you ever been involved in a Christmas gift prank?
No, but my grandma's birthday was April 1st and I always wanted to make a cardboard cake for her.

30. Favorite Christmas Cartoon?
Peanuts, of course.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I will be away from 'ye old computer' for a few days and wanted to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for and will most definitely be pondering the following things (and more) in the next few days:

I'm thankful for,

A most gracious and forgiving God who loves me no matter what.
A husband who is the love of my life and my best friend.
Children who bring me great happiness and whom I love more than words could express.
Family and friends that are an incredibly important part of my life.
Good health and good cheer.
The sunrise this morning.

Of course my list could go on and on. I hope you also take time to reflect on the blessings in your life and let those around you know just how important and loved they are.

Blessing to you my friends!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where In The World Are You From

I have this really cool thing on my blog that shows me where people are from who visit my blog. Country, state, even down to the city and internet provider. I have had people from all over the world stop by - from places like Hungary and other European countries, Canada, Africa, India, China, Turkey as well as throughout the United States.

So now that you're stopping by my blog, I'd love to know who you are and where you're from. Feel free to leave your blog site (I allow shameless promotion of your blog on my blog!) so myself and others can check it out.

Sherri, you wanna go first...?!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Writing On The Ground

I had an interesting conversation with my mom today when she joined me on the drive to take my son to visit his cousin for the week (2 hours each way, so plenty o' time to chat). I guess I've always had this idea that when I get to heaven there will be time each day where it will be like one big 'Q & A' session. I'll ask God about all the 'mysteries' of life and he'll finally tell me the answers. It'll be the ultimate 'Ah-Ha' moment.

In my mind, one of the biggest mysteries in the bible is in John 8. You know, the story where the sneaky-dirty Pharisees bring the adulterous woman to Jesus and tell him that 'the Law according to Moses' states she should be stoned to death. It was a trap so that they could have a basis to accuse Jesus. Like I said, sneaky and dirty. But Jesus was on to them and instead, bent down and began writing on the ground. He also threw a great verse at them; 'let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.' And then he wrote on the ground some more.

So what did he write on the ground? The bible never tells us, so this is where I have to use my imagination and take a wild guess. I'm pretty sure that Jesus didn't just all-of-a-sudden have the urge to doodle ichthus', or start a rousing game of tic-tac-toe or that dot game where you try to make boxes. No, I think, based on how quickly the Pharisees 'disappeared' that Jesus may have been writing their names and sins on the ground.

Will I ever know the answer? Like I said, I've often thought that we'll have to opportunity to ask when we get to heaven. My mom on the other hand had an interesting comment about that. She thinks we'll just know. Her belief is that because we will have new bodies, minds and the ultimate knowledge of Christ that we may very well just know the answers to what mystifies us. I have never thought about it like that but she definitely has me thinking now.

So what's your take on this? What do you think Jesus wrote on the ground?

Will there be the ultimate 'Q & A' session or will we just know?

PS - On a different subject... As some of you know, my mother-in-law (Loretta - which is interesting because that is my mom's name also) suffered a severe stroke in early July. She is in a nursing home and totally dependant on others for all of her needs. It has been so difficult emotionally for the family because Loretta has always been such a giving and loving person and there is always the question 'why her?'. We have to trust that the Lord is in control and has this precious person firmly in His loving arms. My husband has started a web site about his mom with updates, a 'blog' and a place for visitors to sign the guestbook. He would love to hear from you and share any encouragement with Loretta that you would pass on. You can visit Loretta's website here and we always appreciate prayers and words of encouragement from you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cake and Goulash

So my day started off at 5:20am when Jon got out of bed to literally throw the 'stupidog' out the door. We have hardwood floors and(apparently he needed to go outside since about, oh, 4:30 or so)for an hour he was running across the floor - '' up the stairs to our room, down the stairs, across the floor, ''. You get the idea. Once the coffee is started there's no going back to sleep, so... I'm up!

I wanted to make Helen's Hungarian Goulash and have the folks over for dinner as well as test out a new cake recipe and since I was up...

The cake I was going to attempt was from my latest issue of Bon Appetite. It has like 42 layers of chocolate cake, ganache, white chocolate something-or-another and marshmallowy stuff on top. (Disclaimer: I have a passion for COOKING, not baking). I whipped up the devils food cake from scratch and in the over it went. About 15 minutes into baking I smell the smoke. Dang. The cake is over flowing and next thing I know it's like 'smoke-a-palooza' in the house. Seriously. Every fan is going and all the windows are open. Did I tell you I have a passion for COOKING and not baking? I had stuck a cookie sheet under the cake pans and this is what I pulled out of the oven. Yeah...looks like something from the 'stupidog'.

I like to take any opportunity I can to mess with and freak out my 16 year old daughter - because that is the kind of gal I am - so I took some of the cake from the cookie sheet and planted it on the floor of my daughter's room (See Exhibit A). Ignore the mess, she's 'reorganizing' her room. But take a look at the 'pile' near the stool. When she got home, first thing she did was yell to Jon that Boz had pooped in her room so Jon takes a napkin, picks up the pile, and takes a bite. It is most unfortunate that I don't have a picture of her face, but it was priceless. And that is how we mess with our kids.

Needless to say, the cake turned out fine and was kind of like a death by chocolate type of thing. It was supposed to have this marshmallow, peppermint frosting, but since I don't really like either, I made some whipped cream and topped it with that. Yum! (See Exhibit B).

The real highlight of the evening was having my parents over for homemade goulash. 'Helen the Hungarian' was kind enough to share her recipe (here's a shout out to my Hungarian sistah!) and my dad gave me the ultimate compliment when he said 'my Grandma Szabo's tasted just like this.' Well, Helen, here are some extremely happy Hungarians with a big ol' plate of incredibly tasty goulash(and a fabulous wine to go with)!

And more happy family...(Mini-me, my mom and dad).

Good food, family...

Good times.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Part Deux Of The Challenge To Love

What an interesting day in my little corner of the world and as I was thinking about it on my way home from work I couldn't help but practice my new habit of being thankful - and today, I have a lot to be thankful for.

I was reading through all of the comments from my earlier post and couldn't help but laugh (I know, it's a SERIOUS situation) because of the irony of it all. What the enemy intended for evil, God literally threw it right back in his face(I love it when he does that). And I have some wonderful friends out there who are extremely generous with their encouragement and love - and that my friends is hope.

As I turned the final corner before reaching my house do you know what I saw? A rainbow. Seriously, a RAINBOW. It was like God just said 'Hey, I'm big, and loving, and here, and protective and I will take care of you. Always. I've got your back.' And you know what? There was an army of 'got your backers' out there today. I am so thankful for Sherri, Bo, Helen, Mare, KATDISH and Beth and all of the emails, and prayers and encouraging words. I felt an incredible amount of love being poured out and yes Bo, I did have a pretty awesome day! The really cool thing in all of this is that I have a circle of friends that extends clear to Africa and it just proves to me how little I am compared to the incredibly big God I serve.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Challenge To Love

Today I was challenged in a way I have never been before and quite frankly, it stinks. I was told flat out by an individual, "I hate you". And to be honest, that is the first time that's happened and I hope it's the last. I could 'feel' the extreme degree to which it was meant as I read those three words and in my mind, I pictured the person as they were saying those incredibly hurtful words.

To me, a heart full of hate is the death of a heart. A heart full of hate can have no room for love, joy, peace or hope; four things that contribute to a truly abundant life. I am extremely saddened by this and for this person because the hate is like a cancer that has affected everyone in this persons life. Hate is the epitome of evil and when I think of what it does to one's heart and how it seeps out and destroys people, their lives and and those around them it's a sad realization that this world is full of this horrible thing - and it hit very close to home today.

I know from experience that it is easier to hate, be bitter and store up unforgiveness than it is to forgive and to love. And to be honest, in my extreme humanness, there was a part of me today that wanted to curse this person out of hurt. But I don't want to be like that again. I've dealt with some very harsh realities where unforgiveness and bitterness are concerned and learning to deal with it and give it to God is one of the best things I've ever done. For me, for my husband, for my children and all of those around me. I'm not 100% totally out of the woods so-to-speak, and I daily lay those things before God, but I recognize when I'm under attack and today was one of those times. I have come a long way and I'm not going back.

I know that the Bible says in Proverbs 10:12 - Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. To me, living in love sounds so much better than living in hatred and I want all of the love I can get. I want to be greedy when it comes to love and I think God is OK with that because He's willing to give as much as we'll take. I pray that this person who is hurting will allow themselves to start being filled with love and learn to let go of the hate. I don't know if we'll ever make peace, I can only hope and pray. I do know that God is huge and bigger than this and no matter what he loves us both and I find an amazing amount of peace in that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In The Spirit of Thanks

There are things in my life that I sometimes take for granted. I don't mean to, but I get into the groove of everyday life and it just happens. I don't want to live a 'granted' life, I want to live a thankful life. So, I have decided to start a new habit of taking a moment each day to really reflect on what I'm thankful for. I hope that it will lessen the grantedness and help me to see just how lucky I am and what blessings I have.

Here are a few things that I am thankful for.

1. That I love my husband more each day and we we have a great time together no matter where we are or what we're doing.

2. Being able to wrap my arms around my kids and feel their arms wrapped around me.

3. The awesome relationship I have with my parents.

4. Sitting around with my whole family and laughing about growing up in the small town of Bend.

5. That my kids are secure in knowing how much I love them.

6. Being in perfect health.

7. Lifelong friends that no matter how long it's been since you've seen them, it's just like it was yesterday.

8. 70 degree sunshiny days in November.

9. A coffee pot that always works when I push the button first thing in the morning.

10. Hearing my children laugh.

That's just a few on my list and I could go on and on now that I've gotten started. So what totally awesome things would you have on your list? I'd love to know.

Here's to new habits!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Arizona Here I Come

So I'm off to Arizona to visit my friend(that I've known since 5th grade) and her awesome family. It's 80 degrees there. Niiice! Steph told me tonight that she's treating me to a spa day on Saturday at some fantastically uber-gucci resort (uber is not normally in my vocabulary, but I've wanted to use it like cool people do and it seemed appropriate here) and then it's girlz shopping trip. Yesssss!

In my absence, please feel free to wander on over to a blog written by my very clever, witty and yes, sarcastic(I knew I liked her) friend Sherri. She likes to have fun, so a word of caution to the fun-haters...beware!

Carry on...check.

See ya in a few!

Gifts For Christmas

The Christmas season is fast approaching and promotion of Santa, sleigh bells and Deck the Halls is upon us like the 'Blizzard of 1942'. I don't actually know if there was a blizzard in 1942 but if there was, I'm sure the town was in chaos. Imagine a time in Bend without snowplows running all through the night and chemical ice melt on the roads to ruin your car. Unthinkable.

No doubt you've been pondering what to buy those loved ones (and maybe not-so-loved ones) for Christmas. The budget is probably tighter than years past and even so, not just any old gift will do. If you want to know what NOT to get that special someone, please visit the blog of my good friend Bo. For those of you who want to give that beautifully wrapped present with a magnificent bow atop, here are some ideas for you and best of all, they're free. FREE.

The Gift of Patience.
Holidays can be a crazy time with people rushing frantically around like a great mob of lemmings that push, claw, scurry and crawl their way over each other just to jump off of a cliff into the sea. It's senseless. When it's the half-price sock sale in Freddie's the day after Thanksgiving, instead of tossing people aside to get to the box of socks try extending a little patience and throw out a smile to those around you. There are enough socks for everyone. When the kids are whiny and tired and you still have a million things to do to prepare for the in-laws visit, take a deep breath and extend a little patience. Maybe they just want some of your time. Cherish it. When the turkey comes out undercooked and the potatoes boil over, the gravy turns out lumpy and the oyster stuffing stinks up the whole house, when your spouse asks if they can do anything to help, remember, they just want to help. Pour yourself a lovely glass of Merlot, take a deep breath and extend some patience to those around you. It's really not about the meal but time spent together. (Just have a backup plan. And good wine.)

The Gift of Forgiveness
It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, hurrying to-and-fro and worrying about what to get the kids. But what if you took the time this Christmas to extend the gift of grace to someone who needs your forgiveness. Not only are you giving the incredible gift of freeing someone from the bitterness with which you hold on to them, but you are receiving the gift of freeing yourself from the hold bitterness has on you. What if you picked up the phone and called that mom or dad that you haven't spoken to in years because as a child they did something that hurt you and you've been carrying that around in your heart ever since. What if hearing you say, 'I forgive you and love you' is what frees them from the guilt of not being the parent they thought you deserved. Maybe it's a son or daughter that has taken the wrong path and burned you in the process. What if your words of 'I forgive you and love you,' are going to be the turning point in their lives that puts them on the right path. Maybe it's a spouse, ex-spouse, friend or family member who has prayed so desperately for you to reach out in grace and forgiveness. What if your forgiveness changes their lives. What if it changes your life. The gift of forgiveness is priceless for the giver and receiver. What if.

The Gift of Compassion
There are a lot of hurting people in the world that could use some compassion and you are the one that can give that to them. Maybe it's the exhausted and frazzled mother behind you in the checkout line with three little children that just needs a friendly smile and some simple conversation. What if you picked up an extra meal in the drive through and gave it to that homeless man or woman holding the sign on the corner. It's easy to say they should go get a job, but you don't know their story and that one kind gesture of compassion eases their struggle just-that-much. What if you volunteered to serve a Christmas meal to the hungry and touch just one life by caring enough to do that. Maybe it's taking a name off of the Tree of Joy and buying a gift for a child that otherwise won't receive any. You may not see the excitement in their face on Christmas morning but your compassion will reaffirm to the family that there is goodness and generosity in people they don't know. Amazing.

The Gift of Love
Love is an incredibly precious treasure that we could use more of and I think the Beatles were on to something when they sang 'all you need is love'. Loving others gives them hope, faith in something good and perhaps perseverance to get through whatever trial they may be facing. What if you throw caution to the wind this Christmas season and spread the gift of love to people with reckless abandon. Maybe you don't tell your spouse or kids everyday you love them because 'they just know. But what if everyday you were to put your arms around them, look them in they eye and say those three words of magnificence 'I love you'. Hearts would be melted! Maybe you know of someone who has fallen on hard times and doesn't have enough money to pay the electric bill or food to feed their family. What if out of love you made sure their house was going to be warm for one more month and their children were going to have food in their bellies. That would give them hope. Maybe you have a co-worker who is going through a hard time and giving them ten minutes out of your day to just listen and be there for them is the little bit of love they need to make it to the next day. That would be truly selfless. Maybe you know someone who is hard to love but it's because they have endured things in their lives and they feel unlovable. Maybe you reaching out to them in love will be what helps to restore their broken heart. That would be incredible indeed!

What else could others use more of that we can freely give? Challenge yourself this holiday season to give more 'free' gifts and see what happens in your own heart. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring Veterans

If you know of someone who is a veteran and has so selflessly served in one of our armed forces to give us the freedoms we so richly enjoy, please be sure to acknowledge them today.

And to all of the brave men and women who are serving at home and abroad that sacrifice so much for the freedom of others, thank you for all you do. You have and continue to make a difference in this world.

Treasures We Hide

I'm sure you've heard the old saying 'What do you want to do when you grow up?'. I know that is something I talk a lot about with my teenage daughter who will all-too-soon be graduating from high school and leaving the nest to make her way in this world. When I was little I had dreams. And they were big. I was going to be an actress, and a doctor, and a stunt woman (seriously) and even a missionary. I used to imagine all of the things I was going to do and the college I was going to go attend to receive my PHD of Missionary Doctor Actress Stunt Woman. I mean they could use one of those in Africa, right? Well, my life didn't exactly turn out that way and UCLA was not to be.

For the past several months I have been reflecting on where I am, and where I want to go, where I need to go and what exactly does God have for me. I have felt stuck in a rut. I realized that all of the dreams and gifts God has given me have been shoved to the side so that I can just get through the day as safely as possible. I've thought about what has kept me from attaining these dreams and using my gifts and what I need to do with reckless abandon to realize my dreams and put my gifts to use. So, at the lovely young age of 37, I asked myself "Self, what do you want to be when you grow up and how are you going to make it happen?".

I had never really thought about anything in my life as 'hidden treasures' until last week, when I came across two different posts that presented very different views on our 'hidden treasures'. The first post I read was by a blogger-friend who is a very spunky (and I think somewhat sarcastic - so I REALLY like her!) mother of three grown boys named Sherri. She challenged me to really look inside myself and see what I may be hiding from others, or at least think I'm hiding, that I can't hide from God. It's probably the fear, and pride and insecurity, or maybe the rebellion that creeps in when I want to do things my own way and not God's way. It's that little devil on my shoulder named 'Control Freak' that lies to me and tells me to take the reigns when things start getting sketchy instead of trusting that God is in complete control and I need to have the faith to believe that. It's something that I've been working to 'clean house' on the past few months, but thanks Sherri for putting that twist on it (that was kind of sneaky!).

The other day I was reading a portion of a book written by a lady who helped rescue a 'street kid' on a visit to Africa. Her name is Janine Maxwell and the book is It's Not Okay With Me. Janine's account of her trip to Zambia and the rescue of Kantwa is extremely compelling and I encourage you to visit her website and read the third chapter of her book. She describes how on her first visit with Kantwa on the streets she gave him her socks and when they went back the next night he told her he had hidden them so no one could see them but him. They were his treasure! Amazing, that a pair of socks were so important and meant so much to one little boy and what kind of treasures has God given us that we keep hidden? Can you write creatively? Are you good with loving people? Do you have a gift for cooking and could take meals to families in need? What are you gifted with but don't use because of one reason or another.

This has been a huge challenge to me and God is really stretching me and asking me to do some things that require me to 'get out of my boat', or my comfort zone so to speak. I am going back to ministry school winter term. I don't know where God will use me or how, but I feel that is part of taking care of my hidden treasures. I have become involved in Amani Life Project and feel like maybe God is going to take me other places with that, but for now I'm trying to use my gifts there.

So what do you hide? What do you have buried deep down that keeps you from living a ridiculously abundant life?

What gifts do you keep hidden that God intended for use? Is there something that really drives you that you absolutely love? Should you be sharing that with others?

I challenge you to look inside and see what treasures you have hidden. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

ps - Check out Sherri's recent post on Rap Music and her extremely insightful thoughts on the music and rappers. Talk about stretching!

Monday, November 10, 2008

50,000 Shoes In 50 Days

The 50,000 Pairs in 50 Days Challenge
This is a really cool charity campaign taking place and a great way to help those less fortunate. Just $5 buys two pairs of shoes and you could possibly be selected to hand deliver those shoes to a person in need! How great is that! To learn more about this awesome thing you can visit Soles4Souls or 50,000 Shoes

I dare you to make a difference!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Get STUFFED for Amani Life Project and Social Justice

So I have this really cool and extremely funny friend named Bo. We were having coffee a few weeks ago and through the course of the conversation realized that she and my husband are related. RELATED I tell you! The world is just so small that way.

Bo has a huge heart for the 143,000,000 orphans in the world and had this awesomely huge vision to help send orphaned girls to college. Why girls? "Because less than 1% of orphans ever have the chance at higher education and only a fraction of those who do get that opportunity are girls. That is what we’re working to change. Imagine a world where a girl could grow up with no mom and dad and very little hope, and then discover that far more fortunate women far away had decided to care, and save, and give and that she…suddenly…has a chance." Well, through much prayer, planning and support, Bo was able to turn that vision into a reality and started the Amani Life Project.

So what is STUFFED? "We will have Amani Life tables outside many stores in Bend, Redmond and Portland during the weekends of November and will be offering the chance to win a STUFFED box filled with everything necessary for a Thanksgiving dinner for 6. Turkey, potatoes, pumpkin pie, coffee and even candles and napkins are included! Tickets will only be $2, so everyone can afford to take a shot at winning a big fat dinner for their Thanksgiving table. But, bigger than that, they’ll get the chance to become a part of Amani’s mission to send orphaned girls to college." How cool is that? Imagine being a part of giving a young lady the gift of hope who otherwise would have none. Awesomeness indeed.

Currently, Amani tables will be set up in Redmond at the WalMart Super Center November 21st-23rd, from 9am - 2pm. More locations will be added in Portland and Bend and we'll be posting those soon. For more information, I encourage you to visit Bo's blog here. If you would like to volunteer with Amani Life Project or just drop them a line, that would be absolutely fabulous and you can contact Bo through Amani's website here.

This is an exciting thing and we hope to see you out and about in Central Oregon getting 'STUFFED'!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

So, I had one obligatory post, but I lied. I have two. And I don't know whether to laugh or cry - or maybe I laughed so hard I cried when I saw this. I guess now I will wait for our mortgage and gas checks to arrive in the mail.

The Obligatory Election Post

So here's the obligatory election post.

I voted.
I voted my conscience.
I voted my party line.
I voted for the Supreme Court nominees that will most likely be nominated in the next four years.
I voted for the candidate who actually supplied a valid birth certificate.
I voted for the candidate who understands our men and women who serve so selflessly in the armed forces and understand what they have gone through and deal with on a daily basis.
I voted for the candidate who actually has experience in the Senate.
Get out and vote.