Updates on the kiddos... and a winner!

Some of you have asked me how the kiddos are doing.  

As a mom, I'd like to believe that my children are the BEST!  And THEY ARE!
I have a few rough days here and there... and believe me... they are ROUGH!
But for the most part, Joshua and Elsie are pretty happy, healthy, and energetic kids.

The Winter months are extremely tough on Joshua, since he's my outdoor-lover boy.  
Like father like son.
Joel loves to be outside... and he instilled that spirit in Joshua at an early age.
Remember this shot?  Joshua was about 2 months old then...

So needless to say, when it's snowing outside and the temps drop to single digits, Joshua's stuck at home...
But a couple of weeks ago, Joel decided to hook our snow sled to one of his tractors (again) and take us for a ride...

It was fun!

As for Elsie (who didn't seem to enjoy the snow...)
She turned 6 months on the 13th... she's so sweet and so feisty at the same time.  
Such a mommy's girl, too.  

Here's a few shots of my baby girl...

And finally, THANK YOU so much for everyone who took the time to enter the DaySpring giveaway.
It was SO touching to hear your stories and learn that there are so many out there who are struggling and needing an extra word of encouragement.  My heart truly goes out to you guys, especially those who are walking closely with those hurting, grieving, and in need of encouragement.
I wish I had something special for each and everyone.  Know that my prayers go out to you!

And the randomly chosen winner was...
#8 comment:
"Sharmon said...

I would send a card t my dear friend Kari, she just lost her Grandmother. She is having a tuff time, they were very close."

Congratulations, Sharmon!
Since I don't have a way to contact you, 
please contact me at helenscorner1(at)gmail(dot)com 
to claim your$20 giftcard!
You'll have 48 hours contact me, ok?

Feeling the Love...

Earlier this week, a new found friend posted a Featured Blog Post on ME!
Her name is Joii (isn't that a beautiful name???) 
and you NEED to check out her blog. She approached me a few months ago and asked if I would consider sharing some thoughts on her blog.  I was HONORED to do so, and said YES right away.  

Joii is so inspiring... she's a beautiful woman throughout and I would LOVE for you to meet her, too!

If you want to check out the post, click here.  

Also, don't forget to check out my current GIVEAWAY here.
It'll end early next week.  

Autism... raise awareness through Sevenly!

Yes, it is NO SECRET...
I'm totally coming alongside Sevenly to raise awareness and help raise funds for another cause...


Have YOU or a LOVED ONE been affected by it?
If so... what's your story?

Encouraging Through Words... Pass it on (a Giveaway!)

If you remember my very first post of the year, I wrote about two of my "resolutions" for 2012.  

One of them was to "Be more thankful"
I gotta tell you, letting others know about your resolution really keeps you accountable.  
But I am SO glad I did.

One of the most special ways I've decided to put this ATTITUDE of THANKSGIVING and encouragement into practice was through writing and sending cards.  I am a big fan of snail mail (for those of you born after 1999, you're probably wondering... "what's that"???  I love writing letters, and sending cards and postcards.  There's something special and personal about it (remember this post?).  

It can bring a smile to someone's face, or a tear of joy in the midst of hopelessness.  It can tear hard bonds and break hearts of stone.  It can make the distance a bit smaller, despite miles in between.  And it can express thanksgiving and encouragement when spoken words aren't fully there.  

A good example is Ruth Ann.  She's a sweet and faithful servant of God at our church.  She's been taking care of the babies in the nursery for many years.  Despite her humble and quiet demeanor, Ruth Ann possesses the biggest heart I've grown to know.  Both of my children are under her care at different times during the week.  If it's not on a weekly basis on Sunday mornings, she has now begun to watch both of them once a month on Wednesday evenings while I go to the prayer meeting or help out with the youth group.  And what a prayer warrior she is, too!  I know she was praying for me as I carried Elsie in my womb, and now that she's over 6 months old, Ruth Ann cares for my daughter as if she was her own.  
How could I find the words to truly express my gratitude for her service and care for my children?
I couldn't... 
So I sent her one of these...

If I were to develop and nurture an ATTITUDE of thanksgiving and encouragement, and commit to let people around me know how I feel about them, I believe I would be more patient, less angry, less anxious and stressed.  Because if I truly believe that being more other-centered is a calling for every Christ follower, then my life would reflect the character of Christ...

So, who do YOU need to encourage and thank today?
Have you taken the time to THANK or ENCOURAGE someone lately?

I had the privilege to get the Hope and Encouragement card set from the Holley Gerth's line, from DaySpring.  It had the most beautiful cards, with the most beautiful messages and Scripture verses.  
Holley Gerth's Hope & Encouragement Card Set from DaySpring - 10 cards
 These cards are perfect reminders of God's hope, grace, provision, and comfort.  

If you want to join me and start sending cards to those in your life who need an extra touch of love, visit the (in)spire DaySpring site to get your own set of cards.  They carry several different ones, from greeting cards to thank you cards.  

And THANKS to DaySpring
I have a $20 giftcard
to give away to one of my blog followers.
(Please note that shipping charges will apply.  Minimum purchase of $20 necessary in order for $20 code to work) 

Here's how to enter:
- Leave a comment about to who you will be sending a card, and how that person has impacted you. (1 entry)
- Blog, Facebook, Twitter about this giveaway (1 entry each)

Giveaway will run until Monday, January 23rd, 2012 at 11:59pm.
I will pick a winner through random.org

Disclaimer:  The cards were sent to me for review by DaySpring.  All opinions stated are my own.  

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day... Where were you?

Yesterday, 01/11/12, was Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

I was SHOCKED (and somewhat not surprised) that I didn't hear a thing about it on the news, on the radio, or read it on the paper...  NOTHING.  
It was as if the world had silenced itself.
But I became aware of this very day by following two AMAZING organizations that are investing every minute, resource and personnel to bring the issue of Human Trafficking to the forefront of our minds.

Sevenly's Purpose is to 
" learn the issues that break God's heart, engage with the people who are called to the issue, and create awareness and a funding movement that supports them in their efforts."

For one entire week, Sevenly promotes a specific cause, such as hunger, poverty, lack of clean water, medical, slavery, and others, by selling t-shirts.  Amazing designed t-shirts, by the way.  $7 of each t-shirt sold (thus, the name Sevenly), goes directly to the organizations with which they're partnering during that specific week.

I've been rocking my Girls Not For Sale t-shirt since then...
 I was totally moved by the work that
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) are doing.  According to the GEMS Facebook page, GEMS is the nation's largest nonprofit organization specifically designed to empower commercially sexually exploited girls and young women, ages 12-24.  They're based in New York state.  In 2010 alone, they were able to provide counseling, job training, access to health care, and crisis housing to more than 328 young women, and outreach to over 1,000 youth.  Please check out their Facebook page for more information, links, pictures, etc.  

Well, but Sevenly did not stop there.  
Sevenly is working together with the Somaly Mam Foundation, a nonprofit charity committed to ending modern day slavery in North America and around the world.  All t-shirt/hoodie purchases will provide water, nutritious meals, medical and psychological aid to sex-trafficking survivors staying in a shelter in Vietnam.  

Watch this video... it broke my heart.  

I don't consider myself a hardcore humanitarian.  
But I KNOW that when I see the injustice that's placed on young girls, my heart breaks and I get a glimpse of what righteous anger looks like.  I get angry.  Yes, I do.  I CANNOT image the pain, the nightmares, and the scars that these girls experience as a result of the dirty abuse.  
I call it SIN.  
And God sees it as SIN.  

As a parent of a young baby girl, I ache even more.  If such acts were placed upon my very own child, I could not find human strength or grace to deal with such injustice.  In God's eyes, how can He?  I know God's heart breaks... He weeps.  And my prayer is that I would begin to see and experience what's like to see the world and the people in it, as God sees and experiences.  

So, next time you see me, I might be rocking one of my new wardrobe pieces...  
which one will you be wearing??

Disclaimer:  I am not, in any way, being sponsored or asked to share the messages of any of these organizations.  I am sharing my own thoughts and opinions about them.  All images/video were taken from their website.

10 Ways for a Busy Parent to Slow Down and Breathe

It is no secret that when you become a parent, 
your focus, energy, and time revolve around that little person.
It is also no secret that in order for a parent to survive parenthood (and life in general), 
they need to BREATHE.
In yesterday's post, I talked about our need to rest and take time to breathe.  
But how are we supposed to do that, when kids are crying, jumping around, wanting you to read a book, or play with them?  
How are we supposed to "take time" for ourselves when the 2 year-old needs to eat, the baby needs to be nursed, the phone is ringing, and the oven is beeping? 
And that's not including the mountains of laundry, dishes, and toys everywhere that need to be put away, washed, or folded.  *sigh*!!

So, here are my 2 cents on this whole thing called "breathing"...  

1.  Have your kids entertain each other... and breathe.
2.  While one is napping (because the 2 year-old refuses to nap these days...), offer the opportunity for "quiet time" to the one who isn't napping.  It's not "sleeping" time, but it's sure nice to slow down.  Then breathe.
3.  While your spouse (or other care giver) is in charge of baths, take an extra minute or two on  your own... and breathe.
4.  Car rides are perfect for a little breathing time...  kids are distracted (not always, but often), and those possible quiet moments can be quite refreshing before hitting the store or unloading groceries at home.
5.  When I'm tempted to answer that phone call or text a friend back, I use that "ring" as a reminder to slow down, let the answer machine do her job, and give myself the extra seconds to breathe.
6.  Dessert time is always breathing time!  
7.  IF I'm blessed to get the kids napping at the same time, or playing quietly by themselves, I make myself a warm cup of coffee, sit on my couch (or at the dinner table), and quietly breathe.
8.  At night before I go to bed, I take some time to breathe and watch the beauty of silence in the house.
9.  I cut TV time to breathe (this is an IMPORTANT one).
10.  And one of my favorites... when I'm nursing the baby... I take time to breathe.

No, it's not perfect, but it's a start.  
Remind yourself that breathing is vital for a living (and sane) parent.  
I don't always do all 10 of these.  But I DO try to take the time to interfere the mundane routine.  It's easy to find ourselves on auto-mode.  
Let's NOT!  


We had a ton of snow on the ground (and falling...) yesterday.  
I think it was our first REAL snow storm of the season.  I'm definitely not complaining.  It's been rather a mild Winter for us here in Indiana.
Joshua wasn't sure how he was liking all the falling snow.  
So Joel took him outside.
When Daddy tells him that he's going outside, Joshua automatically thinks that he'll be playing or working on Joel's tractors.  And this was not an exception.
Not sure who had more fun... Joshua or Daddy.  

But that was yesterday. 
Today Joshua appeared really tired all morning, but REFUSED to take a nap.  Hmm, a 2 year-old refusing a nap?  Who would've known.  He's been passing on naps for the last 2 weeks, but TODAY...
I asked him if he wanted to "rest his head on the pillow" in his playroom.  "Yeah!" and he ran to the futon!  After about 5 minutes, I couldn't hear a sound... not a word...  I let another 10-15 minutes go by, then decided to check on him.  
This is what I saw... 
 ...my tired Joshua recovering from all the parties, snow playing, and late nights.

How about you?  How are you doing at taking the rest you deserve and need?  Have you recovered from all the holiday festivities, late night parties, family and church gatherings?  Have you given yourself time to recover.  And I'm not talking about cleaning the living room from decorations, re-organizing the kitchen, or doing the mountains of laundry that needs tending.  I'm talking about sitting down, taking a deep breath, letting the Word and the voice of God speak and give you REST.  

"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

"The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:28-31

I admit... I'm guilty of not letting the LORD renew my strength and give me rest.  I'm guilty of auto-functioning and going through daily life without taking deep breaths.  But it is only by HIS grace and mercy that I'm even able to do that, isn't it?  

I hope I can [at least] be more aware of my need to take those deep breaths.  And I pray that I can REMEMBER to get on my knees to refuel and ask HIM to renew my strengths daily.  
So...What about you?  Are you needing to slow down?

Welcome 2012!

I'm looking forward to what 2012 will bring.  There's always an exciting anticipation when the NEW YEAR rolls around, isn't there?  It's a cool feeling!  Today I'm going to free-flow my thoughts... I hope you're okay with that.  On this first day of 2012, I can't even begin to express how blessed I feel.  I have a loving and wonderful husband, who loves the Lord and his family.  I have 2 beautiful children who are healthy and full of joy (not always, but often).  My immediate family is across the country and the world, but we manage to stay in touch and care deeply for one another.  And God has placed us in a warm and wonderful church family.  

Today also marked the day in which we officially dedicated Elsie to the Lord in front of our family, friends, and church family.  It was a special day for Joel and I, to be able to present Elsie to God and commit to raising her in a Christ-centered and God-fearing home, as well as care for her spiritual formation.  It was great to initiate the year with such a significant event in her life, as well as ours, as parents.

And last but not least, I would like to officially write down my TWO "resolutions" for this coming year:
1.  Be more thankful
2.  Grow in knowledge of God

To put them into practice, I've decided to do 2 things.  I've decided to bring back the lost habit of writing random thank you notes.  I'll share more about this at a later post.  And I've also decided to 'attempt' to read the entire Bible this year.  More about this later as well.  I'll keep you posted on how things are going.  Until then...