Tuesday, November 9, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

i've never been much of a christmas card person, but this year that is all about to change. now that i have a new home i think a beautiful christmas card from shutterfly would be perfect. i can wish all my friends and family a merry christmas and announce my new address all at the same time (since i have yet to send out any kind of moving announcements). better late than never, right? no i don't have a husband to pose with or a baby or heck even a dog, but i have a house and this year that's what i'm going to do. i'm thinking of maybe sitting on my front step or whatever creative cute idea that my sister comes up with. (don't worry, she already volunteered to take the photo).

i love the simplicity of this design and i have some thoughts for the smaller photos since *cough* i don't have children to incorporate into the design. hopefully this is the last year i'll have to pose alone for a christmas card... *crossing fingers*

there are so many designs to choose from, like this one or this one!

not to mention that shutterfly has more than just beautiful photo cards. you can make photo books, calendars and so much more. the holiday's just got a little easier!

can't wait to show you what i picked and how it turns out! now hurry up and go pick out your holiday cards. christmas will be here before you know it!

***HEY! Did you know bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly? Click the link to learn more!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

breathe it in

you know those moments when you wish you could just freeze time and stop the world from moving so fast? yeah i've been having a lot of them lately. conversations that i want to just bottle up and stick on a shelf and pull down when i'm having a bad day. you know, twist the cap off and drink in the goodness of its yummy smells, letting the sweet fragrance of it take you to another place and time. i suppose love is supposed to do that to you. make you feel all warm and fuzzy and wanting nothing else than to be next to the one who makes your heart feel full and complete. the person who's willing to sit patiently while you try to form words to adequately express yourself. the one who finds joy in your raw, unprocessed emotions. the one who will do anything to get a smile out of you. the one who stops to just stare at you and tell you how beautiful you are. the one who you can sit and say nothing with and walk away feeling like you had a deep heart-to-heart conversation with just by being together.

yeah i'm soaking all of that up these days.

i'm appreciating the awesomeness that is God and the way he brings people together in such unique ways for such extraordinary purposes. the ways he's able to dig down into the core of the human heart and heal things that have been broken and out of sorts for way too long. the way he can speak softly to your soul and lovingly show you the best direction to move but without force or manipulation. allowing you to be FREE to choose who to love and who to be.

so many amazing revelations over the last week... i'm just basking in it today.

love love love is in the air... it's all around us. just breathe it in today. find it in the people around you. find it in the changing leaves, in a song that speaks to you. just find it and let it fill your soul today.

i know i will.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the magic of spray paint

it's no secret that the blog world has been relishing in the magic of spray paint recently. i keep up with a lot of diy/home improvement blogs and trust me when i say that it gets talked about A LOT. i don't wanna beat a dead horse (who came up with that awful cliche anyway?) but i did jump on the bandwagon this week. i've been wanting a cute little chalkboard/mail holder on the wall leading into my kitchen but haven't found anything that i really liked. the last time i was at ikea i spotted this one but i hated the wood edges so i decided not to get it. so when i headed back to ikea on monday i looked at it with new eyes. all it needed was a coat of spray paint around the edges and i could have exactly the look i was going for!

image from ikea.com

the piece itself only cost $14.99 from ikea. God bless that store, seriously. i also happened to already have the spray paint on hand which didn't cost me a thing thanks to a $5 ace rewards customer coupon i just happened to have. the spray paint was just under $5 and you have to spend the full $5 to use the coupon so i may or may not have grabbed a bag of peanut m&m's to set me over. ;)

i used krylon spray paint in the burgandy color. all i did was use some painters tape around the edges of the chalkboard. then i stuck a piece of cardboard in the middle and used more painters tape so none of the chalkboard was exposed. (note: i spray painted this BEFORE i put it together which made it much easier to get the coverage i wanted). the great thing about this spray paint is that it dries so FAST! bonus for me was that it was also a 70-degree day in october so that helped the process as well. a couple coats later and it was done. i even managed to put it together and hang it on the wall the same night. that spray paint is seriously awesome stuff!

i love how it looks! the color turned out beautiful and it fits in with the rest of the decor of my home now. i'm thinking about spray painting the hooks and metal inserts black cause the silver doesn't really go with the rest of my hardware. i love that it has 2 slots for mail which is perfect for sorting my roommate and i's mail. and i admit- i'm a sucker for chalkboards. maybe it's the fact that i always wanted to be a teacher or something. i put this verse up there yesterday because it was on my heart that day but it'll be so fun to change it around or see what silly stuff friends write on it when they come over!

my sister also did a little spray paint overhaul on a cute little owl she found antiquing last weekend. go check it out here!

linking this post to: blue cricket designs

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

gardens and little girls

can i just say that i love being an aunt? i think i always knew how much i would love that role but i never realized how easily i would slip into it. granted, it's easy to love it when you have the 3 most adorable nieces known to mankind... but i digress.

on saturday my sisters and i decided to head to longwood gardens for the day. thankfully kesh has a members pass so it was free, too! kesh's 2 daughters, kyra and kylie, love going to longwood gardens and know all their favorite things to see and do there so they were happy to point everything out to me. at one point we had a stroller dilemna because both girls were tired but there was only 1 umbrella stroller. i told kyra she could take a ride on my back which thrilled her to no end. as we were bouncing along she said in a sweet way only kyra can, "i love you susie!" melts my heart! how does an almost-4-year-old know what to say exactly when you need to hear it? not too long into the ride kylie got a little jealous so i had to give her a turn (see photo) and then tears ensued from kyra. such is life with a 2 and 3 year old!

we really did have a great time enjoying the beautiful (but hot) weather and doing lots and lots of walking! it was the perfect way to spend a saturday! i feel so blessed to have 2 amazing sisters to spend time with and "fill my cup." and i'm equally as blessed to have 3 little rays of sunshine in my life to keep me on my toes and remind me just how precious life really is- especially when viewed through the eyes of child.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

craft room sneak peak

before i was a homeowner i would dream about the things i'd want in my future house and for a long time at the top of the list was a craft room. something about a space all my own where my creativity can flourish and messes don't have to be cleaned up at the end of the day sounded heavenly. when i bought my house i didn't think i was going to get my craft room. at the time i had 2 people lined up to live with me which ate up all 3 bedrooms. the only space left would be an unfinished basement and that just didn't seem inspiring at.all.

due to some circumstances one of the potential roommates had to back out which left me with 1 spare bedroom. i waited a couple months after i moved in to see if someone else would show interest and to see how i felt carrying the bills with only 1 person helping. i guess some things were meant to be because it worked out and i found myself painting that room last month, spending way too much at ikea and transforming that last little bedroom into my very own crafting haven.

i'll post more pictures and details next week, but for now here's a sneak peek in photos. can't wait to show you more soon!

i guess some dreams do come true! happy tuesday!

ps- thanks to my awesome sis who took these photos

Thursday, September 30, 2010

new season

i decided it's time for a blog change... i've called my blog "musings of a wanderer" since i switched to the blogger platform in 2007. at that time in my life i was wandering... heck that year alone i traveled to 5 countries and only spent 3 months that year at "home" in pa. i was on a journey of discovering who i was and what i wanted to do with my life. i didn't feel like home was any one specific place so therefore i was a wanderer... making my home and taking up residence wherever i was at the time.

fast foward to 2010. a lot has changed. i bought my first home in may and moved out of my parent's house, i got involved in a new church plant in the city i moved into and i'm settling more into my role at work. yeah, i still spent a month in africa, but i now know where home is for a while and i'm content with that. in fact it brings me so much to joy to say that!

so i'm gonna make a few changes on the old blog here, which will hopefully lead to me posting more. i think i felt like i couldn't post about everyday life because so many people who read this blog do so soley to hear about my overseas adventures. and because, how can i post about my home when i call it "musings of a wanderer?" so now it's simply "the life of susan." i've owned that domain (www.thelifeofsusan.com) for a couple years now and never really did much with it. so now it's linked up to the blog. i changed my twitter name to reflect that as well (@thelifeofsusan). afterall, that's what i want this blog to be about- my life. the ups, the downs, the good, the bad and the beautiful!

so join me as i share about my adventures in being a homeowner... my obessions with all things crafty... my occasional worldwide adventures... my journey to being the best aunt ever to my 3 amazing nieces and oh so much more!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

28 years young

i know i'm way overdue for a "i'm back from zambia and this is how i feel post" but honestly i'm not there yet. it's hard to describe what living in a village for a month and then coming back to america does to you. so forgive me for not being "there" yet, but it will come eventually.

i felt the need to post today because it's my birthday and one of the things i do enjoy about having a blog is getting to look back at previous birthdays and see what i wrote. so this year is no exception!

today marks 28 years since i made my grand entrance into this planet. wow typing it out makes it feel so real. in some ways i feel like that's so old, but at the same time still so young. once again i find myself looking over my life and reflecting on all that i've been through. this is usually the time where i think about where i wanted to be by this age, but nope- not this year. i'm not going to spend my day wishing i was somewhere else in life but i'm going to be thankful for where i am now and all that i've been blessed with!

  • my family- i am so blessed to have such a wonderful family who actually enjoy spending time together and make it fun every time!
  • my nieces- ok so they are part of my family but they deserve their own bullet because they are so stinkin' adorable and so much of who i am now is because of being an aunt to them. they bring me constant joy and i can't wait to get more (and maybe a nephew or 2 as well). ;)
  • my job- i hate even calling what i do a "job" because it's almost become like a lifestyle to me. working with hbb has challenged me and taught me to be a better leader. i mean come on, i get to travel and see people's lives transformed- it doesn't get any better than that!
  • my house- i am so so so very thankful for my little house that is slowly turning into a home. this was one of the best things that happened this year and i still have to pinch myself sometimes to believe it's real.
  • my community- i am so blessed to live in a community where there are people i can call on at a moment's notice. i love that we're all trying to live life together and learning what it means to serve each other in love. it's such a beautiful picture of what the church should be and it literally brings me to my knees at the beauty of it.
i could go on and on about all the amazing people in my life who make me what i am today, but i want to keep this short. you all know who you are and i'm so thankful for each of you!

today i choose joy and peace and contentment in the journey that God has me on... knowing that each day gets better than the last and each day i'm becoming a stronger, more compassionate, more loving woman.

thank you lord for 28 years of breath in my lungs and life in my bones! can't wait to see what the future holds!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

halfway point

well it's been 2 weeks since i arrived in zambia and i feel like so much has happened! i'm back in the capital city of lusaka because one of our team members left this morning to head home. tomorrow 4 more arrive (including my parents) and then on friday we will head up to the village again. i left my brother and andy in the village for a few days and i think they're enjoying some freedom. hopefully they figure out how to boil water so they can eat! haha! just kidding... they know how to boil water. :)

our time so far has been VERY relational which is great. after coming here for 4 years there are some deep relationships that require time while i am here and i am happy to give it! my dear friend agness just recently had her 3rd child (a baby boy named blessing) so i've enjoyed some cuddle time with him. you may remember me talking about her oldest daughter named gracie in year's past and how she was scared of me because i was white. well this year something changed and all she wants to do is be on my lap! i'm happy that she's no longer scared of me. i guess it's cause she's 4 now... you know how things change when you turn 4. ;)

that's her and i in the picture!

we were so excited to deliver over 50 books to the kaombe basic school. they were purchased with funds from the "soap for hope" project from last christmas. kids in coatesville made soap and the profits were to be used for the school. they were in desperate need of books so it was a blessing to be able to help them out! the teachers and students were so happy when we delivered them!

we've also gotten the chance to visit a couple surrounding villages who are trying to start different endeavors, such a goat project and a craft club. there's been lots of traditional food and dancing which always makes for exciting times.

one of the most amazing things so far has been seeing the completed water project in the village. there are water taps all over the place and you can tell what a relief it has been to the community. people no longer have to walk 1-3km to get water. for some it's now a super short distance. lots of people have started gardens in their yards where they're growing vegetables for their families to eat. now that they have access to plenty of water they can easily tend their gardens and now provide food for their families or even sell it to neighbors!

i was going to put more pictures up but the internet is really slow today so you'll just have to wait!

thank you for all the prayers! please keep them coming! on friday we travel back to the village for the last leg of our journey. pray for the remaining projects we have and the time spent with our friends- that it would be fruitful and that God would allow us to encourage them and speak into their lives.

miss you all so much!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

we made it

muli shani mukwai!!! (that means hi, how are you in bemba)

our team arrived safely in zambia, africa yesterday afternoon. we had a really long flight from new york to johannesburg, south africa. if it sounds far, it is. 15 hours to be exact. on one airplane. overall the flight wasn't bad, it was just boring. all 4 of us managed to doze in and out and at least get a bit of sleep. we watched movies, listened to music, read books and talked about how excited we were that we were headed back to africa!

once we got to south africa we didn't have much time before our next flight- the one that would take us to zambia! after 15 hours on a plane, 2 hours was nothing. ironically we all slept that whole flight... even better than the first one. i think that was probably out of pure exhaustion.

we made it quickly through immigration and rejoiced as all of our bags found their way to us! our dear friend nyambe was waiting for us when we walked out of the airport. it's always a joyous reunion with him! we ran a few errands and headed to the backpackers lodge where we stay when we're in the capital city. we rested for a bit and then another zambian friend, peter, met up with us and we all went and had pizza. :)

we all crashed around 8pm last night and slept for 12 hours!!! crazy, right? i think our bodies were trying to tell us something! this morning we had breakfast at one of my favorite places in lusaka- Kilimanjaro cafe. they have the best smoothies and coffee drinks. plus the whole place is decorated with african crafts. we hung out there for a few hours and met up with more friends of ours from a local non-profit called joy human development centre. these guys do amazing work for the homeless youth here in lusaka. they have soccer programs for them and teach them about aids & malaria awareness. in 2008 they took a team of young girls to the homeless world cup and they won! this year they'll be back in brazil to defend their title. sadly, one of the founders, james, passed away earlier this year so his brothers john & morgan are left to carry on. it was so heartbreaking to not have james with us but we know where he is and that he would want us all to continue the work he left behind. he's so inspiring and i hope to share with you more ways we can support and encourage their organization!

today we're running a few more errands and then early tomorrow morning we will head up north to kaombe village. it's about an 8-9 hour van ride so pray for us! haha! but we're all excited to get up there and join up with our zambian family. i can't wait to see all the kids and give them lots of hugs!

my heart is full today and i am so happy to be here. it felt like a long road to get here this year but we made it and i know that God has wonderful things in store. thanks for all your love & support!

hopefully i can update you next week if i go to town for supplies and such.

serving Him together,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

it's that time of year again

well in just a week i will find myself once again on a long plane ride destined for africa. it's hard to believe this will be my 4th year traveling to the country of zambia! i remember my first time and how i had no idea what it would be like and what i should pack and what the people would be like. now i feel like a pro. packing doesn't stress me out. i get to reunite with people i love. i know what to expect and what i'll see. it's just a different perspective now i suppose.

this year feels different for me though. while i'm excited to go and spend a month sleeping in a tent, pooping in a hole, cooking over a fire and being with friends, there is a struggle to really embrace it fully this year. honestly i feel like this is the first year it feels like a sacrifice for me to go. i hope that doesn't sound awful, cause i don't mean for it to. it's just that this year my focus has been on so many things other than africa so now i have to reorient my brain and shift my focus. so much of my focus lately has revolved around getting my house together, helping with a church plant, forming all kinds of new relationships and investing in the lives of people in my community here. the thought of leaving this incredible community of people that i'm surrounded by for a month makes me sad. i know it's only a month but when you get used to living life daily with others you really come to rely on them for support and love and encouragement. thus, the sacrifice.

i know i have to lay down my desires and pick up my cross and follow Him. it's the call that He's put on my life and the responsibility that He has given me for now so i have to be responsible with it. i was praying in my car this morning and i just realized how selfish i am. i've already been looking with anticipation towards the fall and being able to focus myself back here in coatesville again and it's the wrong attitude. i need to be fully present in this moment. when i'm in zambia i need to be fully present there, not distracted by what i want to do when i get home. i want to have my full attention on zambia while i'm there. it's so hard being a human with weaknesses. yeah i know that sounds ridiculous but it's the truth sometimes.

a friend of mine posted this quote on facebook this morning and it really spoke to me.

...Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men & women who kept on working....

i have no idea who wrote that or where it came from but it's so true. i've gone through a lot of exhaustion and feeling discouraged but i press on!

oh and i know this probably goes against every blog etiquette rule but my brother and i are still in need of some funds for this trip so if you feel so inclined to give that would be a blessing. if not, that's cool, too. i appreciate that you read this and keep up with me (even though i don't write as much as i should)! hopefully i'll be able to update this a few times while i'm away and share with you about what's going on over there. clicking the donate button will connect you to paypal where you can make a tax-deductible donation to hope beyond borders (the non-profit i work for), which will go towards our trip.

thanks so much!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

life's little blessings

i've been on a bit of an unintentional blogging hiatus but in my defense i have been very busy. you see literally the day after my last post i had one of the most memorable conversations of my life where i was told by a boy, that i very much admired, how amazing i was and how he wanted to pursue a relationship with me. yeah, i know. pretty good news. it was shocking to me as i've never had a guy be so up front with me about his feelings before, but it was so unbelievably refreshing! so the last 6 1/2 weeks have involved lots of long phone conversations and late night chats by the car as we probably set the record for the longest goodbye ever. oh new love... it makes us do funny things.

so here's a little photo for you of my boyfriend gerald and i (yup i love that i can say boyfriend now... haha). he's smart and funny and sweet and loving and gentle and the list goes on and on. i'm sure i'll expand on all that another time. there's more exciting news to share!

i bought a house! almost 2 weeks ago i settled on an adorable townhome in the city that i've grown to love. i knew last summer that God was calling me to move to this community but i had no idea the amazing plans that He had set for me. under normal circumstances i would never be able to be in this place, but He worked out all the details in a way that all credit can only be given to Him!

my life has been consumed with painting, lifting heavy furniture, lots of shopping and way too much check writing. the feeling i have at the end of each day when i get to just rest and soak it all in is so wonderful. this is MY home! God has entrusted me with this place and i am so happy. i'm surrounded with such great people (including my pastors and several of my church family) which made this feel like home so much quicker!

i will update with before & after pictures soon. i'm still in the middle of getting everything how i want it, which i'm sure will be a forever process, but i like how it's all coming together. so hopefully i'll have more to show you soon!

i also had the privilege of witnessing my beautiful niece emeline kay enter the world on may 10th. she has already added so much joy to our family and i love watching my sister in her new role of "mommy." she's doing an amazing job and with such grace. i'm blown away with how calm she has handled this crazy transition in her life. makes me think i'll actually be able to do it someday, too. haha!

so as you can tell life has been busy, busy, busy but so very good! thanks for sticking with me on this crazy ride. :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

making connections

*house update: waiting to hear back from the mortgage company. i'll let you know when there's exciting news!

i was talking to today with my sister-in-law about social networking and how it has changed the way we interact with one another. i know this isn't a new concept and plenty of people out there in the blog world are talking about it. it's just that i find the subject so interesting and fascinating. the world we live in is constantly changing, which means so are we. the way we approach relationships are completely different than even the way it was done just 25 years ago. there are pros and cons to this new technologically advanced society that we live in and i just wanted to talk for a few minutes about it.

i consider myself to be a technology junkie... i love the newest gadget and computers make me happy. it's a whole lot easier to deal with a machine than a person. even still i find myself amazed at the speed at which information can travel. last fall when i presented a need i encountered in africa i used the internet to share that need. in less than a month $1500 was raised and 38 students at a deaf school had mattresses to sleep on. read more about that story here. i literally shared a story and using social networking sites, the news spread. and the need was met. someone i know recently shared on facebook how she needed a larger vehicle to accomodate some family she has coming into town. money is tight and renting isn't really an option. so she posts it to facebook and within an hour 3 different people offered their vehicle for her family to use. she was surprisingly shocked by the response. but imagine if there was nowhere for her to post her need? calling the people you know to ask if you can borrow their car can be intimidating and put pressure on people to say yes. putting it out there on facebook allows those who really want to help, to do just that. incredible.

on saturday my sister-in-law is visiting her family in oklahoma for a week. she's traveling alone with my 2 nieces and put out a request on facebook for a portable dvd player to borrow. sure enough, a friend (more of an aquaintance really) responds that she has one they can borrow. we picked it up today. again... incredible.

imagine how much good is being done and can be done through utilizing these resources. it is simply amazing to see how far we've come and what is possible when we are more "connected" together.

the flipside is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. so that means for every good thing happening in social networking, there is bad. we all know the stories. we hear them every day. i won't focus on those today. the simple downside to me is that we lose that personal touch with one another. i find it easy to keep up with friend's daily happenings through twitter or facebook and then realize that a month has gone by without face to face interaction with them. it's relationship, but without the committment. i say that to challenge myself to be better about having real encounters, with real people... not just through social networking means. the temptation is so strong and it's so much faster... so much less hassle... so much less effort.

but aren't all good things in life worth the effort? i would dare to say yes!

just a thought for today.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

coffeepot of faith

i've been a little m.i.a. in the blogging world for a couple weeks... so much has been going on!

last week i was out of town for 5 days attending a conference in northern new jersey. it was great, but i didn't have internet at the house where we were staying. thank God for my iphone and google reader. i was still able to read all of your blogs, but commenting was another story. not impossible, but painstakingly complicated.

after returning it's been a whirlwind of trying to catch up but still feeling farther and farther behind on things. and to top it all off, i am in the process of buying a house! some of you might remember my post back in january where i shared my house woes... the process of making an offer and then being beat out but someone else. i've done a lot of thinking and praying since then and the recent developments have been very exciting!

there is a community of homes within the city of coatesville that were built about 6 years ago. they are these adorable little townhomes nestled on the east end of the city that are home to a diverse group of people from all different backgrounds and races... it's a beautiful mixture and it really has that "community" feel. neighbors actually talk to one another and pop over just to say hi. kids can run around freely and everyone keeps an eye on them. my pastor and his wife actually live there as well. it's just a great place to be. honestly, it feels like home when i'm there.

so long story short there's a house for sale there and through some crazy circumstances i have the opportunity to purchase it for about $50K under the normal asking price. seriously, this has GOD written all over it! i would not have been able to afford a home like this under normal circumstances and God knew that. since it's newer construction i literally have nothing to do but paint. granted there are some things i would like to get my hands on, but that can always wait. i already have 2 people who are interested in living with me which would help me out with finances tremendously... it's just incredible the way things are working together.

in about a week i should be hearing from the mortgage company and then things will really get going. i'm not at liberty to discuss all the details on here, but it's possible i could own a house in less than a month! i'm so excited to get my hands on that place and put my own touches on it.

i was at target the other day browsing the clearance isles and i came across this awesome coffee pot which was 50% off. i decided to purchase it in faith that this house purchase goes through. i can't wait to brew my first pot in my new place.

now all i need are cups. :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

bundled up

i thought i'd enter the i heart faces contest this week just for fun. the theme is "bundled up" and i took this picture of my adorable niece kylie during one of the february blizzards. her snowsuit kept her hands trapped so she sat down and just started eating the snow. she is too cute!

Friday, March 12, 2010

compassion sponsorship

in 2001 i went with a bunch of my friends to creation fest. it's basically a christian music festival with lots of bands and speakers. it was the first time i had ever been and i had a lot of fun. the creation festival has partnered with compassion international and every year they try to get as many kids sponsored as possible. my friend and i both felt like we were supposed to sponsor a child so we walked over to the compassion tent and started browsing through photographs of hundreds of little kids. i didn't feel led to choose a specific country, but i did know i wanted to sponsor a little girl. then a photograph caught my eye. it was a 4 year old little girl from haiti named eveline. she had the same birthday as my sister katie- april 5th- and i thought that was special. so i chose her.

a couple years later i was back at the creation festival and when the speakers on stage would talk about compassion and sponsoring a kid i kind of zoned out. i knew the routine. i was already doing it. and then the speaker said, "some of you are tuning me out because you already sponsor a child with compassion. maybe God is calling you to sponsor a 2nd one." immediately i perked up and i felt that tugging in my heart. i could afford another $32 a month (at the time that was the cost, it's up to $38 now). i was working full time, making good money, had very few expenses. it wouldn't even be a sacrifice for me to sponsor another child. so once again i found myself walking to the compassion tent staring at all those photos of precious little children just waiting to be sponsored. this time i was more purposeful about who i chose. i wanted another child from haiti and i wanted a little boy. i figured if i ever got the chance to visit my compassion kids it made sense that they be from the same county. so that's how i found little denol.

i'll be honest... there are months that go by where i don't write... where i forget to pray for them. i get so used to seeing their picture in my room that i walk past it without taking time to really look at it. i move on with my life and the automatic withdrawl happens every month without a second thought. these days my life is in a different place and now it actually is a sacrifice for that $76 every month, but God provides and i still have all i need.

on january 12th when that earthquake hit haiti i thought about them. and i prayed for them and their families. i wondered if they were alive. were they suffering? did they have food to eat? what if they ended up in a mass grave like so many others? i knew it would take compassion time to find out the answers to all these questions.

last week i got the call. there was a blinking red light on the answering machine. a voice on the machine told me that both my children were alive. their homes suffered damage but they were ok. i felt such relief. i am so thankful for the work of organizations like compassion that are providing hope to children and families around the world who need it most. i've been keeping up with mckmama's posts while she was in kenya with compassion international and it's been amazing to hear her stories.

i pray that someday i will have the chance to go visit eveline and denol... to hug them and tell them how special they are.

to let them know that the sacrifice was worth it.

that they are worth it. because everyone needs to know that.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion
Sponsor a Child

Monday, March 8, 2010

baby shower recap

on saturday i got the chance to throw my little sister a baby shower and i realized in the car yesterday that i only get to do that for her once. for that reason i'm glad i paid attention to details, because when it comes to party planning it is ALL about the details! i've learned in all the birthday parties, bridal showers and baby showers that i've thrown (and believe me, it's been a lot) that people really do appreciate the details! those are the things they remember that set your party apart from other ones they've attended.

for katie's shower our details happened to include the most adorable owls. it started with the invitations which i found on etsy here. i loved that they featured a cute little owl family which represents katie & declan's soon-to-be family of 3. we decided to hold the shower at a restaurant because let's face it, who wants to have to clean their house, make all the food and then clean your house again? yeah, not me. i'd much rather pay (or in this case have my mom pay) to have the event at a restaurant. *thanks mom!* we held it at this great place called brickside grille and they were amazing! we had my sis-in-love's baby shower there a few years ago so i knew how accommodating they would be. our 2 servers did an incredible job taking care of all 40 of us that were there!

one of the things i knew i wanted to do was a 'wishing tree.' i've seen images of these floating around the internet and had it filed in the back of my mind to use someday. it really fit in with the owl theme of the shower so it was perfect! the wishing tree was literally a branch i cut off of one of my mom's dogwood trees (sorry mom!) that i spray painted brown. i put it in a vase filled with glass marbles to keep it from shifting. then i created these cute little tags in photoshop and printed them on cardstock. i punched a hole, looped some ribbon through and they were ready! the guests wrote a sweet little "wish" for katie and the baby and hung it on the tree. it looked so pretty with all these precious little notes hanging from it. it was so elegant and added so much to the shower. at the end of the shower i took all the tags off and this afternoon i made katie a little scrapbook that has them all in it. now she can look back and read all the sweet notes from her friends and family whenever she wants! maybe someday my little niece will read them, too! here's to hoping the "wishes" come true! here's a couple shots of the tree that lyryn took.

my sis-in-love made the amazing cake. you can see a photo of that on katie's post. she did an incredible job! i am always impressed with her talent when it comes to desserts... mmmm! i found the favors on etsy here. they were the cutest owl cookies i have ever seen... ok they were the only owl cookies i have ever seen, but they were still awesome. we had one at each seat for the guests and everyone was so happy to get them. you couldn't help but smile at how cute they were!

there were of course fresh bouquets of flowers... i am a firm believer that fresh flowers are a must at parties! i went to a couple places on friday morning and found a great mix of pink, green and white flowers. i have a large collection of glass containers that i collected over the years which we used for vases. i love using different size containers. i think it adds a lot of visual interest and keeps things from looking too uniform. for a final touch to the flowers we made paper owls and stuck them in the vases. it was a great touch and the guests loved them as well!

sorry, i know this post is getting long! it really was such a beautiful day and i loved being able to shower my sister and future niece with lots of love! i couldn't have pulled it off without some amazing help so thank you to lyryn, kesh, jennie and my mom for all your hard work to make the day special. and a big shout out to jesus for giving us such a sunshiney, beautiful spring day!

i love you katie and i am so excited for this next chapter in your life. you are going to be such an amazing mom!!!

hope everyone has a fantastic week!

Friday, February 26, 2010

playful pillows

those of us in the northeast have gotten slammed with snow this winter and this week was no exception! despite watching way too much on bravo i still managed to get some crafting done. and when i say done that means i actually completed the project i set out to do. might not sound like a big deal but for some reason i have trouble finishing projects. did i just admit that? yikes. it's true though. i'm great on the initial start but then i tend to get bored or tired and put it away. but not this!

last weekend i took a trip to ikea with some of my siblings and my nieces. my sister-in-law kesh is in the process of turning her dining room into a playroom for her 2 little girls. so we went to ikea to pick up some storage. along the way she grabbed some pillows. as we were browsing the pillow covers, nothing caught our eye. i daringly offered to make the covers if she bought the fabric. so on wednesday we headed to joann's (with coupon in hand) and she got all the fabric for about $23. we were covering 5 pillows so $23 split 5 ways... well i'm no mathematician but i know that's cheap.

yesterday i started and sewed the covers for the 2 small pillows and the 1 medium sized one. i did a cute flower applique that mimics the rug she picked up at ikea. they turned out super cute! i did the flap style pillows which make it ideal for her with 2 little ones. if they get dirty she can just pop them off and spot-clean or throw it in the wash. and if she ever decides to change up the look of the playroom we can make new ones.

today i tackled the 2 big pillows. they're 26"x26" but they'll be perfect for cozying up with a good book. i decided to do a little stripe action on the big pillows... you know for visual interest. haha! i'm pretty happy with the way they turned out, too. and again, it's the flap style so they're really easy to get on/off.

i can't wait to see the playroom when it gets painted and all the finishing touches get put in. i'm so glad i got to add a little flare to the room and contribute something. sewing is a new outlet for me, but i'm really enjoying the freedom to create and especially seeing others get joy from the things i make for them!

i can't believe i managed to get this project done so quick. i tend to procrastinate so knowing this is complete makes me so happy!

oh and ps- i won an awesome giveaway today! i am so excited! i'll post about it soon! all i have to say is that the recipient of the goodies hasn't been born yet, but i know she'll love them when she makes her appearance into this world. :)

ps- sorry for the bad photos... they were taken with my iphone.

Friday, February 19, 2010

show us your life

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

i've never participated in this before but i thought today would be a good day to start! seeing as how i'm in full-time ministry i thought i'd share a little bit about it for anyone who might not already know.

almost 2 years ago exactly i was deep into the grieving process over the unexpected murder of 2 friends of mine at a missionary training school in colorado. you can read more about that here. i was in a time of transition and had no idea what i should be doing. it was at that time that i started to talk with a friend of mine who was in the process of starting a local non-profit that would focus on urban & international development. he and his wife were in a place of transition as well and were looking for someone to come on board and help them start something new.

i knew right away that it was where i was supposed to be and soon after that hope beyond borders was born. our heart is to see communities transformed through the empowerment of leaders and individuals within those communities. we believe that there is so much untapped potential in communities around the world and if given the proper tools then change is possible. we've seen this so clearly in a small village in northern zambia, africa.

over 2 years ago we helped establish a self-help arts & education center (called the mango tree) in the village of kaombe... a place once known for it's hopelessness. it was a forgotten and looked down upon village that no one wanted to go to. but since the birth of the mango tree center things have changed. there is now a library full of books where everyone can come and read and study. there are 7 sewing machines training vulnerable women and widows a trade that they will hopefully be able to use to one day support their families. there are leaders who used to be street kids, now empowering the younger generation and showing them that anything is possible. there is a mini-van operating as a taxi service providing much needed transportation for the community. and as of last thanksgiving there is now a water piping system transporting water to over a dozen locations in the village. what was once a tedious task of walking 1 or 2km to fetch water is now a short walk. what's even more amazing is that the outsiders view of kaombe is changing. no longer is it known as a place that people want to avoid, but instead it's become a refuge... a place full of hope and possibility!!!

this project has a special place in my heart because i've traveled there 3 times... it's also a project that i help to oversee. i coordinate teams to travel there every year and co-lead in what is certainly a life-changing experience. going there means having your eyes opened but you realize when leaving that your heart has opened as well.

as you can tell i could talk a lot about my love for zambia! but hope beyond borders (hbb as we call it) isn't just about zambia. we're also committed to our local community and have partnered with local churches and organizations to pioneer what we call "coatesville community night." every wednesday night we open our doors and feed whoever will come (averaging around 80-100). we then provide various classes for kids through adults. classes have ranged from finance, to parenting, to art, etc. it's been an awesome time of bringing people together and i've loved getting to know the people who come through our doors.

there's a lot that i do behind the scenes, too like all the financial record-keeping, website administration, email updates, mailings, etc. i wear many hats around this office, but i really enjoy it. i know God has so much in store for us and if we keep Him at the center of all we do that He'll continue to provide and expand the areas that we are able to reach.

if you want to learn more about what we do you can visit our website at www.hopebeyondborders.org.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the winter blues

i know i'm not the only one who suffers the winter blues. it always hits me bad this time of year. the time when the final snowstorms are trying to squeeze their way in. when the thought of spring is just taunting you and it feels like it will never arrive. it also always seems to be the time that you get sick, etc etc.

well in the last week we've been hit with several major snowstorms, dumping well over 3 feet of snow. that left me stuck in my house for days. needless to say, i was really looking forward to getting back to my office yesterday and then i woke up with the worst sinus headache ever. no amount of medicine helped. it was awful. and then today i wake up and i can hardly move! somehow during my sleep i messed up my back. so frustrating!

so here's hoping that i feel good tomorrow. i have so much work to get done.

i'll leave you with a couple photos of my nieces that i took when they were snowed in with us a week ago. love these girls.

miss kylie joy (19 months)

kyra jean (3 1/2)

hope the winter blues aren't hitting you! here's to wishing for spring!

Friday, February 12, 2010

swap excitement

i was going to write a post today about the ridiculous amounts of snow we've been having, but then the mailman showed up. you see, i have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my simply love swap package from my amazing swap partner jocelyn. i was actually just lamenting to my sister katie today that i was hoping it would get here before valentines day. it literally showed up 5 minutes after katie left my house today. i was on the phone with her (yes i know she had just left my house, but we still somehow ended up on the phone within 5 minutes) when i heard the mailman walk up to the door and hung up quickly telling her that i would call her back.

so after almost giving the mailman a heart attack and basically ripping the package out of his hands i ran inside to open it. as soon as i got the package opened i think i starting screaming like a little school girl because gosh darnit, it was just so pretty! see for yourself!

so being the good girl that i am i opened the card first (handmade of course) and out fell a starbucks gift card! hello chai latte! then i opened up that cute polka-dotted bag to find a post-it note holder (with post-its inside) which i am pretty sure jocelyn made as well. perfect timing, too because i just ran out of post-its at my desk. hooray!

then i opened that cute little box and inside was a bottle of nail polish, 2 burt's bees chapsticks and the most adorable flower headband (handmade again). seriously, is jocelyn amazing or what? so of course i jumped up and put it on and then snapped a picture for you to enjoy. please pardon the messy hair.

then i saw it. the holy grail of valentines day gifts. CHOCOLATE! this adorable container (of course once again decorated by jocelyn) was filled with all kinds of yummy chocolate... m&m's, hershey kisses and hershey's miniatures. literally... all my favorite candy! hallelujah! here's a shot of the inside.

and i may or may not have already eaten one of those squares of m&m's... hahaha

here's a shot of all my loot!

so all that to say- THANK YOU to the best swap partner ever- JOCELYN at Inside Brucrew Life. you made my day... errr week... maybe even year. thank you for the time and effort you put into making my package so special! it means so much!

and another big THANK YOU to my amazing sister- KATIE at Loves of Life for hosting this swap and helping me to meet such amazing women!

i used to really hate valentines day... being single year after year can be tough. this swap gave me something to look forward to! plus i have amazing family who make it special for me. katie and declan are taking me to dinner and a movie tonight, tomorrow my brother jim, his wife kesh and my 2 adorable nieces are taking me to lunch and on sunday night my pastor's wife is hosting a dinner for all the single ladies in our church.

i feel so loved! that is the point, right?