Friday, October 17, 2014

Giving Thanks Friday: Oh baby edition

This week I am thankful for: 

 (Precious in His sight...)

Two beautiful preemie newborns.  My niece delivered twins (about 6 weeks earlier than hoped for), Mason and Brooklyn, earlier this week.  Mason weighed in at 3 lbs 15 ounces and Brooklyn at 2 pounds 12 ounces.  They have made great strides in just days and only have feeding tubes at this point.  They could use some extra prayers though as could their first-time mama and daddy.  


(Marcia and one of the little's blessed by having her generous heart and fantastic skills available)

Those who care for babies in need.  Marcia (you can read her story here) made it to Rwanda over a week ago and has been holding, loving and caring for babies with serious medical needs ever since then.  Thankful for all she is doing so far away and in less than desirable conditions to say the least.  Thankful for those who do the same around the world. 


   
(This little one was found along side the road with placenta still intact...please pray for her and the mama who felt she had to leave this one behind)

Those who care for babies in crisis.  There are so many loving foster parents out there caring for babies and children temporarily while their families are in crisis or are unable to care for them period.  It might be for days, months, years and some who even end up adopting as they live out the caring for orphans in real time.  My cousin Glenda and her husband have fostered several, adopted two and three of their young adult daughters, now out on their own, are also now fostering.  They are my heroes! Thankful for the countless others who do the same.


(Beds are often shared in this Rwandan hospital)


Those who support moms in need, physically, emotionally or financially.  Whether it is dropping off a much needed box of diapers, providing a listening ear or an offer of a few hours of childcare, you are providing a lifeline to these moms in need and helping them love their babes a bit easier.    


(Dog available for adoption in Natchitoches, LA Paws where Breanne is living) 

Those, like my daughter Bethany and my (almost) niece-in-law, Breanne, who have a soft heart for the fur babies of this world.  These lovelies take in the unwanted, provide financial care, adopt and or find homes for some of the sweetest of God's animal creations.  


Indeed the world is a much brighter place with the love in action ALL these servant hearts are displaying!   


  


What are you thankful for?


May your weekend be filled with wonder, laced with peace and bursting with love...

(Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good: his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1) 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Giving Thanks Friday



This week I am thankful for: 


A much needed haircut and a daughter with the mad skills to do it for me!    


New friends and old.  It's fun getting to know new people but I treasure those long-time, tried and true friendships.


Warm muffins fresh from the oven on a cool October morning.  Paired with a steaming mug of tea, it is the loveliest of ways to start the day.  


A thrift store shopping find and a husband who shares my vision (and talent) to make it into something useful for our home.   


The ethereal fog that has greeted our mornings and the brilliant moon that has provided the perfect nightlight in the evenings.  


God's unconditional love and those who so easily distribute the same.      



What are you thankful for?


May your weekend be filled with wonder, laced with peace and bursting with love...

(Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good: his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1) 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Church for one



Due to last minute preparation of food for a baby shower, that couldn't be done ahead of time, we missed church this past Sunday.  I didn't read a devotional or dwell on a memory verse.  From the minute my feet hit the floor I was off and running.  A few hours later the car was loaded and on my way I flipped on one of the two Christian radio stations programmed among the others in my car.  One song was ending but I wasn't paying close attention anyhow, my thoughts stuck on the details of the shower yet to complete at my daughter's, my beautiful niece expecting twins and the excitement and miracle of it all.

I paused to take in the beauty of the countryside as I drove.  It was a beyond gorgeous Fall afternoon, sun shining against a lovely blue sky, yellows and oranges competing with remaining greens in the trees.  The music ends and the next song begins:  "I made you promises a thousand times.  I tried to hear from Heaven but I talked the whole time."  My heart is captured as I drive and though I am far from any congregation or church dwelling,  church begins.  The song continues to the beat of my softened heart and we hit the chorus:  

"So what do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are you fire?  Are you fury?
Are you sacred?  Are you beautiful?
So what do I know?  What do I know of Holy?"


The swirling thoughts pause for the Creator of the beauty surrounding me.  Church is in full swing right there in my Toyota - just me and God.  The song continues.  And then the lines: "Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be.  The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees."  The message has been preached and received.  The eyes are blurred and the mascara smeared.  God met me where I was and communion happened.  And that folks IS church.      




"What do I know of Holy" by Addison Road:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6J5TzSE_18





Friday, October 3, 2014

Giving Thanks Friday (and a winner!)

(a lovely fall celebration/sale held locally each year)


This week I am thankful for: 

Our garage/shop roofing supplies that are being delivered today!  I know, boring right, but we really needed it to get done while the weather is still mild and the rain is spotty at best.  It also means we can finish up the painting on that building too.    

Being able to share one another's burdens.  I have had many friends do this for me and I am grateful to return to the favor.  We were not created to go it alone.    

A baby shower this weekend for two precious babies (TWINS - one boy and one girl!) set to arrive in December. Can hardly wait to squeeze these wee ones.    

My husband's job.  His company is selling several of their holdings but has purposed to pour more time and money into this one.  So very thankful!   

Laughter.  It's been one of those weeks where (due to hormones I do believe...) I felt as if I were back in junior high all over again:  Awkward, moody, emotional, body issues...You get the picture.  Thankful for family and friends to share with and laugh with during this season of life.

The transforming power of a $2.99 can of spray paint.  Now an old piece has new life.      

Grace.  Grace received.  Grace given.  Grace undeserved.  



What are you thankful for?


May your weekend be filled with wonder, laced with peace and bursting with love...

(Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good: his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1) 



WE HAVE A WINNER!  

Thank you to all who stopped by to read the guest post by Amy L. Sullivan (here) and check out her new book. Amy is dedicated to raising up a generation of children with generous hearts who will no doubt make a big impact on this world.  "When more is not enough:  How to Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want And Give Them What They Need" is available on Amazon right now for the discounted price of $5.99!  (Kindle version only $3.99).  You can find it here.

Thank you also to those who commented and shared your skills and talents with us!  I love that you are making a difference in your corner of the world and beyond.  The winner is comment #7  (random number chosen by my hubby).   Congratulations Ceil!  Please e-mail me your mailing address and I will get the book out to you right away.         

Thursday, September 25, 2014

On Being Generous With Our Skills and Talents: A Guest Post by Amy L. Sullivan (and a GIVEAWAY!)



There are those who dream and those who do.  Amy L. Sullivan is an amazing woman who combined the two and through it a book was born.  Amy hits it out of the park with her families' real and often humorous journey from having a life filled with stuff to having a life filled with purpose.  In a warm and conversational style, Amy provides practical tools to get your family moving toward a lifestyle of generosity and service.  It is rich with story, interactive tools and useful resources.  The book is uplifting and inspiring without an ounce of guilt pushed our way.  Amy will inform your mind, touch your spirit, inspire your soul and ready your heart to go forth and love in greater ways than you may have imagined.

I am pleased and honored to welcome Amy as she shares on one way to be generous here today:  


On Being Generous With Our Skills and Talents: A Guest Post by Amy L. Sullivan

In What I Wish For You, Amy D. McCraken tells the story of her young son’s struggle to come up with a career. After much worry and deliberation, he decides he will work as a dunk tank clown in the summer and the innocent guy in police line-ups in the winter.

Brilliant.

His mom, Amy, rests in the knowledge that her young boy already embraces the person he is going to be, smart, creative, and wildly funny.

This story reminds me to stop striving and start embracing.

I work, struggle, hone my skills, and tweak my talents all in attempt to become who I was made to be. Meanwhile, the girl in the mirror stares hard and wonders when I will stop spinning and just embrace the terrible car singer, loud belly laugher, endless word miner I already am.

Recently, I wrote a book about loving others better.  http://www.amazon.com/When-More-Not-Enough-Giving/dp/1941103243


In the book, I explore the idea of being generous with prayer, time, strangers, talents, and forgiveness.

One of my favorite chapters is the chapter about being generous with our skills and talents.  It is my favorite because it is difficult for me to acknowledge my talents. What? Who me? I have talents? You don’t say?

I have a hunch, acknowledging your talents may be a struggle for you too, but I will tell you, you have major talent. It’s a fact. Yes, you do.

Here’s an excerpt:

Look in the mirror. You possess ease in handling conflict. You excel in the kitchen. Some stare at a pile of junk mail and see a mess; you stare at the pile and an organization system forms in your head. Maybe you paint walls, or maybe you paint canvas. Others may look at a baseball team of ten-year –olds and see a headache; you look at them and see raw talent. The areas you enjoy are often the areas in which you excel.

It’s easy for us to see unique skills and talents ooze from our friends, but to acknowledge we posses talent is much more difficult, and when it comes to sharing our talents with others, we often shake our heads and quickly dismiss the gifts God gave us.

Let’s work to battle that.

Let’s start today.

Let’s acknowledge our talents because there is someone out there waiting to be blessed by the very skill we possess (and yes, I am talking about you and your mad enchilada making skills!).

Your turn: Tell me about one of your skills or talents. Go ahead, it’s not bragging.

~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~  

Because I am so excited about this book, I am going to give away a copy to one of you!  To enter just comment below and share with us about one of your skills or talents.  Giveaway will end September 30th.  

I must also mention that this gal puts here money where her heart is and because of that Amy is contributing ALL of her portion of profits from the sales of this book to Transformation Village which provides housing and job training programs for single women, women veterans, mothers with children and intact families in crisis in Amy's home state of North Carolina.   




For the past two years, Amy L. Sullivan looked harder, loved stronger, and discovered more by fixing her gaze on something other than the person staring back at her in the mirror.  Amy writes for oodles of print and online publications and loves speaking with groups of any size.  Connect with her online at AmyLSullivan.com     




   
 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Giving Thanks Friday Special: Thankful for those who give

Most Friday's (although I slacked off a bit throughout the summer) you will find me here with my "Giving Thanks Friday" post.  Today I am not here with my usual list but am giving thanks indeed for a lovely local who is putting her skills and heart to good use by bringing hope and help to the wee babes of Rwanda.  I am so pleased for you to meet Marcia here today: 



Marcia finds needed peace away from work here with her horse at the ocean
  
As a neonatal nurse in the Pacific NW I have come to realize that we have the potential to save the most fragile and premature of lives.  The technology afforded us can keep infants of 24 weeks gestation alive until they are able to support themselves.  Yet in other countries such as Africa infants that are Jaundice are dying on a regular basis because of lack of education and equipment.  After working as a pediatric nurse for 9 years I found myself working in a level II neonatal intensive care unit for the last 7 years.  Truly God has blessed me with this job!

 
In life, all I ever really wanted to do was to try and make a difference.  I was blessed as a single person to adopt 5 children, three with serious medical issues.  Eventually I became a nurse and then I was married and added a step son to the family.    As we all know, when you are working hard to make a positive impact on those around you by serving the Lord the devil always tries to foil those plans.  In 2008 I was diagnosed with cancer.  Over the years I have had 12 biopsies, 15 surgeries, and continue to fight the rare cancer I’m inflicted with and will until the day the Lord calls me home.


After being diagnosed with cancer it became all too clear that each day is a gift and that the only thing we are promised is the moment in which we are living.  It was then that I decided I wanted to go big or go home!  So I have tried to make a difference in the lives of each little one I touch here but I found my heart longing to help those little ones that are underserved in Rwanda.  



Rwandan little ones

So the planning began.  I contacted numerous medical companies and international Aid corporations and have been blessed with donations of medical equipment to the tune of $20,000 which I will be able to hand carry with me to Rwanda when I leave on October 10th, 2014.  One of the tools I will be taking over to the NICU there is a much needed bilimeter.  This meter is a noninvasive meter that will tell the nurses how jaundice a baby is and then allow them to start the necessary live-saving, yet simple, treatment of phototherapy.  I am also going to teach NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program) to the nurses, helping them improve their life saving skills of compromised newborns, as well as working on improving their assessment skills.  



Kibogora Hospital


With the recent and spreading outbreak of Ebola in Africa I found myself seconding guessing if I was making the right decision in going.  After receiving an encouraging word from a dear friend my decision was final!  This was God’s plan for my life!  I have been blessed with 6 more years of life than I ever thought I would have and truly when the Lord wants to take you home He will.  Until then I hope to carry on trying to make a difference in the lives of others. 



The NICU in Kibogora is supposed to be a 7 bed unit but often has 21 infants they are caring for at a time.

I would be ever so appreciative of your prayers not only for traveling mercies but for Gods light to shine through me as I have the privilege of meeting and caring for the smallest most fragile children at Kibogora hospital in Rwanda.



This little guys Jaundice was not recognized until he was 4 days of age.  He is now in heaven singing with the angels.

May you and your family have a blessed day,

~Marcia




Please join in me in praying for Marcia as she reaches out to the little ones of Rwanda and brings light to those around her.  She is not traveling as part of a team but on her own (with God's help).  It is a long journey to reach Rwanda with many, many hours in the air as well as stops in areas where Ebola is of concern.  Pray for her protection, safety, health and peace as she truly serves as God's hands and feet to those in need.  


Sweet triplet boys!  Multiples are very common in Rwanda.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Remembering and celebrating: September Sixth

Happy Anniversary to our beautiful daughter Bethany Rachelle and handsome son-in-law Tyson.  
Wishing you, this day and always, abundant love, treasured blessings and a lifetime of joy.  

Since I was not yet blogging during the time of their wedding, I wanted to share some memories today.  Please indulge me...



 DOWN THE AISLE
Note the worn wooden floors of the one room country church just feet from our own house.


Flanked by her bridesmaids carrying her train, she walked out out our front door and to the church where her Dad was waiting.


GIVING OUR BABY AWAY
Mom was overwhelmed with details but Dad was caught up in the moment, tears and all.



TO HAVE AND TO HOLD
Bethany and Tyson had a big hand in planning the God-centered ceremony - 
one of the most touching I have been witness to.
(Of course I could be biased...)



I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU HUSBAND AND WIFE
I love the look on her face!



YOU MAY KISS YOUR BRIDE
Note the shadow to the right - so sweet.



 I AM REALLY MARRIED
Such a beautiful September day for a wedding.
The dahlia's were from a local farm across the river.



SOME GORGEOUS RINGS
and blessed hands



THE WEDDING PARTY
Note the groomsman in the back left (a neighbor to us) and the maid of honor in the back right (my niece) - they are now married to each other!



THE ENTIRE WEDDING PARTY AND ALL GUESTS
This was a picture specifically requested by the bride who wanted to document every friend and loved on who shared their day.  It is such a special photo.  



POSING IN BUTTERCUP
My Granddad (who had passed away before the wedding) Blaine's car, Buttercup.
My aunt and uncle who own it now loaned it to us for the day. 



JUST MARRIED
The sign says it all



BETHANY AND STELLA
This was, and still is, our daughter's baby and a big part of her life so it was only fitting we retrieve her from home to be a part of the pictures.



CUTTING THE CAKE
The guest list had to be kept to a small number due to the size of the church.  Extra guests joined us for the reception.  



ON THEIR WAY
Happy smiles and bubbles being blown just beyond the doorway.



HAPPILY EVER AFTER
From the wedding program: 

"I love you not only for what you are 
but for what I am when I am with you."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning



Thank you for sharing these precious memories with me today!