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Archive for the ‘Inspiring stories’ Category

Today  I am thankful for the heroes that serve our country.  Those who put their lives on the line, both near and far to protect our nation and it’s ideals.  The soldiers who have fought in the wars we all know about, and those whose battles are less famous, and those who stand at the ready for a time they are needed.   The sacrifice is huge, not only for that soldier but for their families and friends.  Thank you for your courage, dedication and sacrifice.  The wounds we see and the ones we don’t, I pray the Lord heals all for you.

And because we don’t have a day to recognize these heroes, I want to say thank you for first responders.  We don’t realize how important they are until we need them.  We don’t think about the sacrifices they face until we have called them in the middle of the night, desperate for their help.  Just like our soldiers defending our country, they too miss birthdays, holidays, anniversaries because of someone else’s emergency.  Their families too sacrifice for this calling on their lives.

Today I am thankful that these heroes are brave in the face of danger, selfless in their service, and dedicated to their calling to serve all of us!  You have my admiration, respect and heartfelt gratitude! I am honored that I can call some of you family and friends.

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There is a great Veggie Tales story about Madame Blueberry.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Who can resist a 5 lb can of tuna from Stuff Mart 😉  Yesterday in talking with my 14 yo son, I mentioned this classic video.  There is a song about having a thankful heart.  “A thankful heart, is a happy heart, be glad for what you have, that’s an easy way to start.”

This month as we celebrate Thanksgiving I’m going to focus on what I am thankful for.  Thirty days of thanks!  Except mine will go through Dec 1 because Nov 1 snuck up on me! 😉

Today I am thankful for a God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Who loved me first, in spite of my sinful nature; who counted my days before forming me in my mother’s womb;  who knows the number of hairs on my head, even though I seem to lose a hundred a day onto the bathroom floor!  Whose love never fails, never gives up, never runs out; whose thoughts of me outnumber the grains of sand on the beaches; who is preparing a place for me in heaven.  Even though this life brings troubles and trials, He holds my tears in the palm of His hand, and He never leaves my side.  Storms of life will blow, people will come and go, but He remains.  Always listening, always present, everywhere.  Thank you Jesus for loving me enough to die on a cross alone, deceived, and beaten yet still asking your Heavenly Father to forgive me.

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About 17 years ago, my hubby and I filled our first shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child.  We didn’t have children yet then.  I remember shopping for little fun things, soap, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste; putting it all together in a box, wrapping the lid, praying for the child that would receive it, adding $5 for shipping and taking it to church. If I recall correctly our church collected 1000 shoeboxes that year.

We’ve done it sporadically since.  When we lived up north we didn’t hear about it the way we do down south.  Not sure why that is, but I am sure there are collection sites all around the country.  I would often think of doing it when it was too late, collection dates had already passed. 😦 So my blog today is a friendly reminder to get a shoebox or two, or small plastic tote with a lid and head out to the store!  They are collecting in a couple weeks, and you want to have your box ready to go.

My oldest daughter and I shopped for ours yesterday.  Well, I have been collecting things for a few months now as I find items on sale or clearance.  Target’s dollar spot always has fun items-slinky jrs, yo yo’s, fun little pads of paper, etc.  Michael’s has great sales on end of season items, small crafts, markers, and they have a fun dollar aisle too.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to put a box together.  We decided that one day we would love to spend our Christmas handing the boxes out to children somewhere in the world 🙂  I can only imagine how excited the children are to receive their boxes and the joy they are filled with.  I’d probably be a big puddle of tears!  🙂

We found fun sunglasses at the dollar tree, along with cute little character toothbrushes, packs of combs that we could split up, decks of cards, hair things for girls, character washcloths, lollipops, gum, pop rocks, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, scented markers.  When we were checking out the lady behind us asked if we were buying for our shoebox.  She obviously recognized that all of those small items would be perfect for a shoebox.  We found colored bubbles, fun pencils,  small glittery pads of paper from Michael’s.  Added with what we already had, we packed two boxes last night and will take a big box of extra items for the Sunday school classes at church to use to fill up the boxes they are working on there.

You can find out more information here on their website.  Don’t forget to print your label for boy or girl, and make sure the items are age appropriate.  There is a list of do not pack items you may want to check out just to make sure you don’t accidentally put in an item that is on the banned list 😉  You can include a letter or photo from your family if you choose.  If you include your address, you may receive a letter back.  I am going to do that this year.  I think my kids would enjoy knowing who received their box, and be encouraged to keep giving.  I hope that they find giving a bigger blessing than receiving 🙂

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As I am desperately working on organizing the endless number of books that we have, I have time to ponder some thoughts.

The bookshelf is currently full!  I realized my children will each read or have read to them approximately 75 books this upcoming school year!  That’s a big number of books!  Yet they will also check out books from the library and read those too.  I think we will keep a log this year of all of the books we read.  I don’t typically do this, we know we read plenty so I just keep track of the school list and call it good.  I’m interested in knowing just how much we do read!  🙂

I also came across some old favorite resources.  I have had these packed away and waiting to be used again at the right time.  I had aspirations of using them with my younger two girls.  Funny how life happens and you find yourself pulled along by the current and fighting to find your way.  I think for a couple of years I lost sight of deliberately teaching a few things.  Life was teaching us lessons, lessons that needed to be learned, practical application if you will.  So my younger two girls will now learn in reverse 🙂  They have practical experience to draw upon, while my older two had the book learning first and the practical application second 🙂

First, 21 rules of this house, by Gregg Harris.  I loved this when my children were little.  I ordered the book complete with coloring pages.  We would sit down every morning, talk over the rule, they would color the page and I would ask them to recite the previous rules.  They would now say that was corny, but it was great when they were 2-8 years old!

Second, Searching for Treasure, by Marty Elwell. 20 weeks of daily Bible lessons for the entire family.  I loved the coloring pages at the beginning of each lesson with a verse.  This is perfect for them to color while you discuss the lesson and what it means.  You can use the verses for penmanship, memorization, or dictation too. Teaching our children the wisdom and character traits of proverbs, exactly what this world needs!

Then there is the Miller series of books.  These are a little less mainstream.  They are based around a Mennonite family’s lives.  The stories all have a meaning and are biblically based.  My children really enjoyed these stories, and they made me think throughout the day about how I was responding to my children.

And so many classic literary books.  I love a book with a lesson.  A book that makes you think about the character throughout the day.  A book that teaches you good character, wisdom, and life skills.  I find the older a book is the more value it has morally.  Today books are written to entertain, in the past books were written with more of a moral message.  Ralph Moody, Elizabeth Speare, Elizabeth Yates, Elizabeth Enright, Mildred Taylor, Eloise McGraw, Gary Paulsen, Irene Hunt, Lois Lenski, Jack London, Robert McCloskey,  just to name a few of our favorite authors 🙂

I really struggle with letting go of any of these books.  The stories are moving, timeless, filled with real life struggles, triumphs and tragedies.  Giving them to someone who will love and appreciate them as much as we do is the only thing that makes it easier.  My husband would say I’m crazy, but I don’t want a good story wasted on someone who won’t appreciate it.  I’m sure my fellow book lovers will understand!

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I’ve decided since there are so many wonderful organizations out there, doing amazing things for the world, I would try to highlight a few.  I love hearing about a group that is quietly making a difference, one person at a time.  I’d love to be able to afford to give to every organization I hear about.  Have you watched that show Secret Millionaire?  My girls love it.  It is one of those make you cry shows though.  Basically a millionaire volunteers with a couple organizations highlighting the work they do and then gives them each a check.  I know, reality tv isn’t really reality, but the fact that these small organizations are being featured means more possible funding and volunteers for them.

Having worked for a small non profit in the past I know how important every dollar is to them.  I know how tight their budgets can be and how amazingly frugal their leadership is.  The director of the organization I worked for encouraged us all to only use half of a paper towel to dry our hands, to cut our paper goods budget in half 🙂  She was serious too and practiced what she preached!

Today I want to share this group of skateboarders with you.  Now, understand I have never skateboarded in my life.  I do not have those skills!  It requires balance I am told, that is lacking in my tool kit.  This group is building skateparks in Ethiopia and then sharing the message of Christ with the kids that come.  How awesome is that!  I love that these kids are learning a new sport, having fun and learning the life saving message of Jesus.

In this video they share a bit of what they are doing there.  I love the faces of the children!  I love their smiles, and sweet expressions.  I love the heart of these men, sharing their two passions-skateboarding and Christ!  Pray about if God is calling you to give to this organization or another.  God loves a cheerful giver, and I don’t know how you could give more cheerfully than by finding a ministry you believe in and donating time or money. Check out their website at christian skaters.

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A few days ago I shared with you about a sweet little six year old named Megan.  Megan was fully healed yesterday afternoon when she left this world for the loving arms of her God and Savior.  What a bittersweet situation as we rejoice that she is without pain, fear, or tears; yet we grieve for our loss here on earth.

I ask that you would please continue to pray for her family.  They will certainly need the strength and comfort of our Lord and their friends in this time.  My heart hurts for the pain that they are experiencing.  I know when we get to heaven all of this will make sense.  Here on earth we just have to trust in Jesus.  His love for us, so evident on the cross, will carry us through and build our faith.

I keep thinking of the Casting Crowns song, Praise You in this Storm.  And Jeremy Camp’s There Will Be a Day.  

Praise You in this Storm

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus:]
And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus]

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

There Will Be a Day

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end, His word declares this truth,
That we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

(Chorus)
There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you’re walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone

(Chorus)

Troubled soul don’t lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting

I can’t wait until that day where the very one I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced
To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery this is why this is why I sing

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Helping hands

Sometimes we are overwhelmed by all the needs in the world.  So overwhelmed that we feel we can’t make a difference.  Sometimes we just have to start making a difference one person at a time.

Today I want to introduce you to a little girl who is in a battle for her life-Megan.

I first learned about Megan about 4 years ago.  Her mom and I frequent the same homeschool forum and became facebook friends.  Megan is as cute as can be!  Her winning smile and big personality won me over immediately!  I loved photos her mom shared of her in her costumes or with her brothers.

The following is from the FB page WeHelpMegan:

Megan Joyce is a little girl from Winslow, Maine who is very sick. On May 20, 2005 Megan was born with Down Syndrome, 4 months later she underwent life saving open heart surgery for Septal Pulminary Stenosis, in 2010 she was diagnosed with Pre B Cell Lymphoma Cancer, on March 13, 2012 the doctors found cancer in her spine and started her on an excrutiating 9 month intensive chemo and steroid treatment, and in 2013 WE ARE GOING TO BRING HER HOME! In the meantime we have come together in a central location to collaborate and address every need that this family may have, so that they need not focus on anything but taking care of their very sick daughter and each other. This is not some random cause that someone posted on your facebook wall. This is a real 6 year old girl, with a family, and now ….. hundreds of friends. 

WeHelpMegan is a community that now stretches across the entire world. HUNDREDS of us have formed, to carry ONE family, while they live through a nightmare that no one should have to endure. If they have to do this alone, it will be too much. If we can spread the burden across a thousand people, then our role will be easy, and the Joyce family can focus on their daughter and each other, instead of how they are going to afford to make their house payment or put gas in the car. 

If you are reading this then you are special, because you will have the unique opportunity to collaborate with people all over the world to help one little girl in Maine. 

I am writing this 70 hours since we announced to the group that they had found cancer in Megan’s spine. Since then WeHelpMegan has grown to span 5 continents, dozens of countries, and most of the states in America. We speak over 30 languages. We are stay at home moms, engineers, doctors, journalists, lawyers, physicists, authors, entrepreneurs, inventors, and friends. We are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and everything in between. We are no longer just a small community of people who care …. we are a Movement …… it is online community of people who are banding together and collaborating to address every need that this one family has, so they don’t have to focus on anything but caring for their very sick daughter and for each other

This is not just a push to solicit donations …… at the end, if we hand the Joyce family a bunch of money and walk away, then we have failed ………. we are building an organization that will address every issue this family has so that they don’t even have to drive to the store if it means taking time away from their very sick daughter ……. please join us and be a DIRECT part of helping one family through the worst months of their lives.

If you can, please consider making a purchase or donation to help Megan’s family.  Times are tough for everyone in this economy, and individually few can give enough to make a true difference, but together, each giving a little, big things can happen.

You can support Megan’s family by making a donation directly or by purchasing an item from this site:  the blissful blesser 🙂  Love that name!

Megan is not just a picture on TV or the internet, she is a very real little girl, fighting a very real disease, with very real big brothers, and a very real mom and dad.  This is a very real way to make a difference in the life of a family.  Having been “friends” with Eliz over these last few years since before Megan’s diagnosis, I have  witnessed some of the hardships this family has endured.  I can’t begin to imagine fighting the fight they are without a lot of help and support.  If you can contribute, fabulous; if you can’t, please pray for Megan and her family.  I know that they understand the power of prayer.  Thanks so much!

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