Saturday, September 27, 2014

Extending Birthday Wish!

Why not!?

I decided to expand YOUR opportunity to bless Tiny Hands International until the end of this weekend!  On my last post, I shared my wish to bless Tiny Hands with all the profits from every order placed on my Etsy shop ON MY BIRTHDAY!  And guess what!  People came through and placed orders!  But why not?!!  Let's keep it going!  

You have until Sunday, September 28th at 11:59pm (PST) to place your orders!

Ready, GO!

Click HERE to browse the shop and place your orders!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Birthday Wish: Help Fight Human Trafficking with me!

Human trafficking is real.  
There isn't much that makes my heart break more than the sad and horrific reality that young girls are being sold into modern slavery, beaten, raped, sold as property and forgotten among societies that deem human life worthless.  
I get angry!  A righteous anger that puts me to my knees.  
It's been quite a few years since I first learned about this issue of human trafficking, and since then, every time I come across another article, another blog post, another documentary, another presentation, or even another new opportunity for people like you and me to pour out our resources to raising awareness and fight this issue... my heart races a little faster, my ears perk up, and my spirit awakens to align with the heart of God.  

Almost 3 years ago, I wrote about 2 different agencies that were investing their efforts and resources to fight human trafficking and come alongside the victims of this horrific sin.  I still wear my Sevenly shirts proudly and consciously!  

A few months after I blogged about this issue, I became aware of Tiny Hands International, an INCREDIBLE Christian non-profit agency that loves God and fights human trafficking all over the world.  They are particularly called to orphans, street children, and the victims of the sex-trafficking industry in very poor regions of the world. 

One of their area directors happened to be a fellow "once-youth pastor" from a sister church here, and who happens to use my favorite local coffee shop as his office.  Jon Andrews's passion for this ministry is unlike any I've seen in a long time.  He breathes and bleeds Jesus and EVERY TIME I hear him share about Tiny Hands International and the evil that's at work in the darkest places in the world, I KNOW God smiles at Jon and his ministry.  (On a side note... his precious daughter and my son Joshua are in the same Kindergarten class!)  

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take a few minutes to watch this video!


So... 
This is where I need YOUR help!
September 26th is my 37th birthday!  
I have a WILD goal! 

I want to donate EVERY. SINGLE. PENNY I make from ALL the orders I receive on my Helen's Corner Etsy shop between today and the end of my birthday, September 26th at 11:59pm (PST).  


That's right!
All the profits from ALL the orders I receive on my birthday, will be directly given to Tiny Hands International.  The cool thing about it is that the donation will TRIPLE when I send it by the end of September!  Ahhhh!  I'm SO excited!

My goal is to sell 37 items on my Etsy shop (1 for every year of my life), a reminder that every year on this earth is a blessing from my Creator!  Stock up on birthday gifts, baby shower gifts, or Christmas gifts!  See something you like but need a different size, shirt, or color?  No worries, I'll work with you!

Will you help me fight human trafficking on my 37th birthday?

Click HERE to shop directly on my Etsy shop site.  If you want multiples of the same items, please contact me for custom order information.

Can't wait to report how much we will be able to raise and donate to Tiny Hands International!  Thank you!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Walks & Tea: What my Father taught me about Self-Care

There are many things I could say about my dad today.  12 years without him is a lifetime of moments he didn’t get to witness or experience.  However, today I will choose not to dwell on the reality that he isn’t around anymore.  Sure, it’s not easy, but I rest in the truth that he is in God’s presence… and has been for the last 12 years!  Wow!



My dad carried a heavy and busy schedule.  He was a husband, father, pastor, teacher, mentor, visionary, director… you name it, he was or had carried such title.  He was able to read multiple books at a time, prep and write sermons in multiple languages, travel, take classes, entertain guests, manage finances, and even take an entire family grocery shopping on a weekend.  There are many things I can’t recollect about how our household ran.  And I still have NO CLUE how he could do it all.  But there is ONE THING I specifically remember… 

My dad went for walks… a lot.  Almost daily.  I have vivid memories of dad opening the living room screen glass door and saying it was time for his walk.  I didn’t think anything of it then.  “Dad just likes to walk”, was my thinking.  AND, more often than not, he walked out with a mug at hand.  Tea.  He would take his tea cup/mug with him.  Never understood why.  At one point, I probably thought that he just needed a break from all the reading and studying.  He needed to stretch his legs.  And he liked drinking tea in the afternoon.

That was then… and here is my thinking NOW.  My dad liked tea… Jasmine tea to be exact.  And since I can’t remember whether or not he was a coffee drinker (like I am), I’m assuming tea was his comfort drink.  If you know me, you know that I'm a coffee fan.  I like coffee.  I like the warmth of it.  I like the taste and the smell of it.  I like holding a mug while reading a good book.  It's a comfort drink for me.  AND… going for a walk was his version of Self-Care.  Yup.  I now have a name for what he did.

Self-Care.

The same term I heard so many times throughout my college & graduate school career!  The term I use to describe those intentional efforts to care for our souls, to keep our sanity, to be kind to ourselves.  The term I still use when I want to refocus.  To rest.  To take a deep breath.  And most recently… the term I use to make sense of Spiritual Whitespace.  My newly found friend Bonnie Gray describes this concept of Spiritual Whitespace as a “creative way of spending time with God to slow down and feed your soul, to rejuvenate and enjoy soul rest.”  Taking care of ourselves by spending time with God. 

How often am I taking intentional time to breathe?  How often am I allowing my soul to rest?  How intentional am I when it comes to STOPPING the auto-pilot mode of my life? 

So, today… despite 12 long years without my dad on this earth… I celebrate the lesson I learned from the silence of his routine.  His daily walks holding a tea cup will forever represent my need to intentionally find moments in my day to STOP and rest my soul.  Whether he was doing it for physical health or to escape the reality of his busyness and relationship conflicts… he knew how to ‘get out’. 

Oh oh oh… another quick note.  My dad didn’t always go on his walks alone.  Oh no.  He enjoyed taking my brothers along.  And I even remember going with him once or twice (Nope… I wasn’t a fan of walking around the block back then… Oh, how I wish I could go on such walks with him now…).  Self-Care does not need to be something I do in solitude.  It can be done WITH my family or in community.  Self-care is important and needed.

How are you doing with that?  How am I doing with that?  What do you do to take care of your soul?  How do you spend time with God to care for your soul?  Do you have whitespace in your life right now?  Want to learn more about Spiritual Whitespace?  Let me know in the comments below…  would love to chat more about it. 

In the meantime… Dad… thank you for another life lesson…  

Miss you today! 

June 2001

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Before I lay myself to sleep...

Tonight it's just me...

No fancy outlines.  No pretty pictures.  No deep and insightful quotes.
Just me.
Tomorrow morning marks the beginning of my firstborn son's academic career.  He's starting Kindergarten and it's painfully hitting me that he will no longer be spending the biggest bulk of his time under my care.

Oh Jesus... watch over my big boy.  May his steps be ever so protected by YOU.  

I know there will be a day when I'll look back to this very day and reminisce it with fond memories.  And I've talked to many parents lately who kindly reminded me (well... "warned" me) NOT to blink, or I'll seriously miss the entirety of my days... and years.  

Wow.

Can I just freeze this night?  Can I just stop the clock?  When I remember "back in the day" when I spent my days in school, and home was where I rested.  Home was where I could relax, and eat extra snacks, and play.  And sleep.  Home was where I didn't have to pretend.  It's where I knew I could throw my backpack to the side and just... be.  

Yes, Joshua went to preschool last year.  5 days a week.  However, in my own little limited mind, he was still under my care during "most of the day".  Right?  He was at school for a few hours in the morning, then he was HOME.  But now... wow.  He'll be "gone" for...  EIGHT hours!  

Jesus, watch over my big boy.  And when he faces opportunities to grow, may he jump on it! May he develop a love for learning.  May his curious and inquisitive mind be used with purpose.  May he grow his love for books and reading.  May he remember to "pray to Jesus" when he feels alone.  Preserve his innocence.  Provide good friends for him.  Will he have a good buddy?  

Let me NOT blink.  

I know he'll be all right.  

And so will I.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Work Within

Dear God - 
I get it.  
You're doing some work in my heart and soul lately.
I didn't know I was under construction in the areas where you started digging this past week.
I get it.
Through the busy weeks, warm days, full moments, 
You show up... and show me that I still have a lot of "growing up" to do.
There are no words to fully express the incredible feeling of freedom, dependence, and joy I want to have.  
I WANT IT.  
I want to feel free.
I want to depend on you.
I want to feel joy.  
To HAVE joy.
I cannot lie... I feel tired.  Anger.  Dissatisfaction. 
I want to rest.
I want to sit.
I want to breathe.  
Deep.
Create space.
I want to sip coffee with a good friend.
I want to touch sunshine.
I want to feel drops of rain...
The wind on my tired skin.
I WANT YOU, God!
To hear a word of encouragement.
To sense your presence.
To see color.
Am I the only one who desires and needs a "day off"?  
Am I the odd woman who cannot get her hormones under control?
No blaming!  No excuses!  No complaining!
But how can I find healing without revisiting past pain and hurt?
This past week I realized that I'm living with the aftermath of problems I once hid behind pretty wallpaper.
I moved on without dealing with my faults from the past.
Lord... I'm glad that you want... you desire... to heal me.
Thank you for the provision of forgiveness you offer me TODAY.
Thank you that in YOU, I don't need to live a solemn life.
Thank you that you promised to turn my mourning into dancing.
I may miss friends and certain relationships... but you're the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Forever.
Do your work, Lord.
I get it.  
I need it.
Amen

Monday, May 19, 2014

Whitespace to Rest

A mere 2 days ago, I received an incredible gift.

Reading is one of my favorite things to do... and this book is ABSOLUTELY...

BEAUTIFUL!

Not just because it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, 
but because it invites me to REST.
Yes...
... to rest.
To "awaken my soul to rest."

Faith Barista's Bonnie Gray has written her very first book, and I am so excited to be reading and walking on this journey with her.  You can check our her story and more details about this book HERE.  

Ironically this is a crazy week for me... meal prepping, church dinners, hosting, doctor's appointments, birthday planning, business, etc... but how can I get through it all without taking time to exhale?  How can I "inhale" Jesus' presence when I'm not taking the time and choosing to find those whitespaces in my daily life?

I talked about finding "free flowing" spaces before.  I am reminded, once again, that without those "free flowing" spaces in my life, I am unable to see, experience, taste, and touch God's grace and presence in my life.  My desire is for the whispers of Truth to loudly speak into my soul.  For the forgotten corners of my heart to be fully available and open to the fullness of His grace, forgiveness, and His art.  Miracles.  Life.

Cannot wait!

Cannot wait to dig in... to journal... to create whitespace for God to speak.  
Cannot wait to rest... and in return, find direction and renewal.

Get your copy...

Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Gift of Perspective

Meet Kelli.

Galen, Kelli, Benaiah & Bo
A woman of FAITH.  A woman of PRAYER.

About 2 weeks ago I had one of those mornings at my MOTTTS (Mothers of Tots To Teens) group that will sure become one the most special times I'll ever have with this amazing group of women.

Kelli was our scheduled speaker for the day.  We usually spend our mornings studying a chapter of our selected book for the year.  But once in a while we have the privilege of having a "speaker"... someone who comes and shares about a specific topic, a particular challenge, or teaches us to "do something."  You know what I mean, right?  We think of "speakers" as someone who is an "expert" on something... anything!  But Kelli was different.  

She is one of us.

A teacher.  A mommy.  A wife.  A friend.  A daughter.

She is one of us.

2014 has been a CRAZY year for Kelli - to say the least!

Her second born son was born a month earlier than expected.
Her first born got croup.  
They totaled their SUV after hitting a telephone poll that snapped in half!

Through it all, Kelli began and finished reading the book "Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson, and as she prayed and considered what she was reading, she asked God to make her a woman of FAITH and PRAYER.
As she so candidly blogged about this, the Lord did not wait to begin that process in her life.

Her husband went in for a yearly health screening and found out his white blood cell count was WAY high.
He was quickly diagnosed with chronic Leukemia.

A woman of FAITH and PRAYER... THAT is Kelli!

The morning that Kelli shared her story with all of us, 30+ women, was actually an answer to one of her prayers.  She shared that when she was in college, she had a "vision" that one day she would be speaking to a group of people, sharing her story and being an encouragement to those present.  WOW!  Can I just say... WOW!  Chills throughout my entire body!  Tears suddenly engulfed my eyeballs... the same ones that could not, for a second, blink... for fear that that exact moment was a just a dream.  Another one of God's visions for us women.  Women in community.  To think that as I sat among those women that morning, and as Kelli shared her story, the One and TRUE God was orchestrating the realization of the vision that Kelli had YEARS ago!

A miracle.

A confirmation.

Crazy thought... that God would use our circumstances to accomplish His purposes for our lives!

Kelli's story and her current journey bring perspective to my daily life.  She is walking with her husband Galen as he battles this terrible cancer.  Cancer.  A word that should not be in anyone's vocabulary at the age of 28.  Cancer.  A word that should not describe something you're fighting while fathering 2 young children.  Kelli's faith in the God who created Galen isn't perfect, but it's exactly what she asked God to give her.  Faith.  And prayer from the saints, from you and me, is what carries this dear family today.

And through it all, Kelli prays to God and calls Him GOOD...

"I need to learn.  My situation doesn't need to change. I do.  I need to learn to trust, to be joyful, to accept the peace I am given and be thankful.

So I will choose to trust, in spite of every thing I don't know.

I will choose peace, in spite of living out one of my greatest fears.

I will choose to be thankful, because God is good. 

He is so, so good.

Amen."

So, here is where I want you to get IN-VOLVED.  Pray!  Pray for Kelli & Galen.
Go to her blog (Rasler's Ramblings) and get glimpses of Kelli's faith walk.
For healing.  For strength.  For grace.  For faith.
And in the stillness of your moments with God, ask Him to reveal to you... What is it that YOU want from Him?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meet Radik... an URGENT need!

Today's post comes with an URGENT need for response!


As I share another story this month, my hope and prayer is that you and I would be able to be the raise the awareness and in this case, the URGENT NEED for this boy.

Meet Radik.


Radik is a 15 years old boy from the Ukraine.  He is in need of a family to commit to adopting him and begin the process within the next week before he turns 16.  He will age out in 2 weeks!!!  If the paperwork is not started for adoption by then, he won't be able to be adopted.  And he has a deep desire to have a family.  

My friend Gina who shared this story with me has a friend that lives in the Ukraine and knows him personally.  She has asked me to get the word out and pray for a miracle for Radik.  Here's what she says about him.  "Radik is an orphan in Eastern Europe. He is a special boy who is almost always smiling and enjoys interacting with people. Over the last few years Radik has watched as several of his friends and classmates have been adopted. He often talks about his desire to have a family too, but his time is running out. Because of his age, Radik is in need of a family to commit to adopting him and begin the process within the next week before he turns 16. Please pray for this miracle for Radik."

It is URGENT that the news get out about this boy!!!  

If you know anyone that is considering adoption, please help us spread the word.

If you or someone you know want more information, please contact my friend Gina at kgnorr(at)gmail(dot)com and put "Radik" in the subject line.  

Thank you, guys!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beating Mesothelioma... Meet Heather.

I'm sharing with you the story of an amazing woman today!  I started this month with a strong conviction that God wanted to use me, my blog, and every ounce of social media influence I had to SHARE the stories of PEOPLE around me.  I strongly believe that we are enriched, blessed, and challenged BEST by the ones He surrounds us with in this world.  People.  His BEST creation.

May is National Cancer Research Month.

I was completely unaware of this, until I came across Heather.

Meet Heather... 
Lily & Heather Von St. James

At age 36, and 3 1/2 months after the birth of her first and only child, Lily, Heather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma and given 15 months to live.  Miraculously, she beat the odds and is still here 8 years later!

Here are some facts:

Mesothelioma is considered one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers.
Every year, around 3000 people are diagnosed with this deadly cancer.
Most people are given just one year to live upon diagnosis.  
There is no known cure for Mesothelioma and the future continues to look grim as attention to the disease as well as research funding continues to decline.  The only know cause of Mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, which is still NOT banned in the US.  Sadily, it doesn't look like asbestos will be banned anytime soon, as there is too much money being made by using this deadly mineral.


After reading up on her story, and watching the video on her website, I was convinced that THIS was a story I could give a voice to.  Heather is fighting this horrible disease and has asked me (and you!) to fight with her.  By spreading awareness of this disease, maybe, just maybe... a cure can be found.

Will you do me a favor?  Well, maybe not a favor.  Please have the HONOR to go to Heather's website and get to know her.  You can also find her on Facebook HERE.

Cameron, Lily, & Heather Von St.James

"With HOPE, the odds don't matter!"  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What's in a STORY?

Welcome to May!

Well, we're 4 days well into the month of May ALREADY and I'm a little late in introducing what this month will be all about on this blog!
STORIES...



Stories about you and me.  About the ordinary and the extraordinary.  About petitions and miracles.

If you were asked to share your story, would you be able to freely articulate WHAT your life has been about in the last few days, weeks, months or years?  What about the people involved in your story?  The characters, the circumstances, the "plot", the lessons learned, the desired ending?  Would you be able to concisely articulate and express the "a-ha" moments, the miracles, the good and the bad?  


I've lined up some AMAZING stories and I can't wait to share them with you this month!


So... stick with me and keep checking back!  

And if you don't want to miss a thing, don't forget to "follow me" through email.  Just add your email on that little box on the right-hand side column and you'll get updates on any new posts I share this month!  I won't send you any junk mail!  Just updates!  Easy, right?

See you soon!