Thursday, November 28, 2013

Something to think about while you're making your Christmas list.......

So I had big intentions of blogging every day of November, sharing 30 days of gifts. My hope was to share a few Christmas crafts but mostly I wanted to share information regarding organizations which work towards ending oppression, poverty, hunger and the like. My hope was to encourage you (and me) to spend our Christmas money in a way which would help others.  

But God had other plans, quieting me a bit and using that time to teach me. I'm learning to COMPLETELY lean on Him. I'm learning to give Him my every dream and trusting His plan for my future. It's been a beautiful month. 

Maybe I can still accomplish my goal of 30 gifts in November. We'll see. Meanwhile I will share a few - in no particular order and a few which I've shared previously. :)

1Love 146 - Organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation

2. Eden Minstry ~ Jewelry

"the journey of hope continues for women who have escaped trafficking and prostitution in Asia."  I wrote a little more about Eden at the beginning of the month HERE

DG101-gn, Green3. Deepgreen Project ~ beautiful hand knit scarves and hats
"Deepgreen Threads is a knitting business that provides work for women in our community who have suffered injustice. Our desire is to see these women empowered to grow professionally, personally and spiritually."  I shared a little more about DeepGreen HERE.

4. Clothed in Love ~ an etsy shop selling handmade jewelry. Shop owner, Delonna Gibbs, uses 50% of her proceeds to sponsor orphans in Africa and Central/South America. 

Instead of buying another useless gift for that person who "has everything", how about giving a gift in that person's honor? Give a gift to families living in poverty by buy a chicken, a goat, seeds, beehives, that encourage sustainability. I wrote a little more about World Help in "Does Dad really need another tie".

World Help also has beautiful merchandise that has been made all over the world such as an African Nativity, purses, jewelry, woolen hats and toy drums. 

6. Sseko Designs - (Uganda) leather bags, scarves and REALLY COOL sandals!

"Sseko Designs uses fashion to provide employment and scholarship opportunities to women pursuing their dreams and overcoming poverty. To date, we've enabled 33 to continue on to University. We provide employment (along with access to a comprehensive social impact program) to our team of 45 women in Uganda. And we do it all through a financially self-sustaining model."

7. Hope of Life International "At Hope of Life International, our vision is to minister to the spiritual, physical, and educational needs of the impoverished people of Guatemala. In Luke 10:2, Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." We strive daily to harvest His field. Our goal is to be His workers, His hands and feet, in the heart of Guatemala."
World Help has partnered with Hope of Life in Operation Baby Rescue.

Visit their Hope for Life Shop and find a beautiful Guatemalan "souvenir"! 

8,. Reece's Rainbow an organization that advocate and find parents for orphans with Downs Syndrome and other special needs from around the world. Spend a little time on this site and you are sure to find a child that tugs at your heart strings. Although adoption may not be "for you", you can help a willing couple with the finances necessary to adopt. 

9. Salvation Army ~ Ring the bell at a Red Kettle (my kids and I did this last night!) or donate. The money raised helps with their many services.....feeding the hungry, adult rehabilitation, prison ministries, elderly services, housing/homeless services and more.

10.  International Justice Mission - a human right's organization whose vision is: 
"To rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible. 

11. Made By Survivors ~ employs and educates survivors of slavery. 100% of profits supports rescue and aftercare. 

12. AmazonSmile -- An easy way to donate money while shopping. Amazon donates .5% of all your purchases made at Amazon to the charity of your choice. 

As I've mentioned before, I LOVE buying gifts at Christmas. It's the one time during the year which I turn into a "consumer". This year I hope to make more conscious choices so that my love of giving will not only provide a gifts for family and friends but also benefit those in need. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lessons in Compassion

I enlisted the help of my daycare families to bring items to fill our "Christmas for an Orphan" boxes. The needs were simple. Band-Aids, pencils, markers, crayons, toothbrush and toothpaste, stuffed animals, matchbox cars, etc. 

Yesterday the kids and I organized...........ok, I organized the boxes then the kids rifled through the boxes to see what goodies we were sending (while they did this I talked to the children about the items and how they would be used by the orphans that we were sending them to) and then I reorganized the boxes so that everything would fit! The kiddos were very excited about the gifts that we were sending but were even more excited about the children in whom we were sending the gifts to! 

Laurie's Little Sprouts, the name of my daycare, sponsors a Guatemalan girl, Karina,through World Help (the same organization that does Christmas for an Orphan). The Little Sprouts and I talk about Karina everyday! We have a picture of her hanging in the dining room. One day I overheard the girls having conversations with Karina. I mean, Karina the picture. Kind of adorable. We are learning Spanish so that we can talk like Karina and we are even learning a little geography as we discuss where Guatemala is (as much as one can learn at the tender age of three). 

When I first began brainstorming of how to involve the children with sponsoring a child I did not foresee the amount of learning that would take place. The kids have made a personal connection to Karina and because they have this connection they desire to know more about her. This understanding/knowledge is also being backed by compassion. Compassion for others was my goal. My prayer is that these "lessons" that my Little Sprouts and I are learning will multiply, that our lives would be filled with hearts of compassion and a need to help others. 

Zechariah 7:9-10 
“Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.’
Gifts of Hope from World Help on Vimeo.

Check out World Help's "Gifts of Hope" to see how you can show mercy and compassion to those who could really use a gift of hope this Christmas. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Faith {the gift of God's faithfulness}

Busy crafting week ~ chalkboard gift tags, soap and candles

Today my heart is overflowing with gratitude. Last week I wrote a post about my dreams, my worries, my faith (or lack thereof). In writing that post, a post that I had no intention of writing, God spoke to me. He clearly pointed out my lack of faith and reminded me of how faithful HE is! My attitude changed and I'm seeing His hand orchestrate something very beautiful.

I got over my pity party, gave my dreams...and worries to Him and got busy. :) I looked around the house for income generating ideas. I re-posted a few of items on a local Facebook "for sale" site, items which I had posted several times over the past 5 months. All were sold within an hour! And yesterday I was blown away. I had a book that was in excellent condition so I decided to try selling it on Amazon. After listing my item I noticed that there was over 200 other people listing the same book! I almost deleted my listing. 24 hours after listing my book sold!

With things I had on hand I began crafting, making gifts for Christmas and gifts to sell. I spoke to a local craft store owner who agreed to sell my "wares". A pile of wood scraps were painted and simply embellished to become chalkboard gift tags or ornaments.

I've always dreamed of starting a soap business but fear of failure kept me making soap only for gifts, friends, and family. Thinking up a creative name often created a bump in the road (silly thing to get hung up on but I allowed that simple problem to deter me). So we (my daughter is helping me with this venture....another sweet perk!) decided on Everyday Soaps. Simple and it works.

It's been fun creating soaps and labels and dreaming up other things to make. I've missed this creative side of me. Thank you, God, for leading me here!

In less than a week I've seen God's handiwork everywhere! It's amazing what He can do with faith the "size of a mustard seed". 

 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony .By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:1-3

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Feeding the Hungry {the gift of food}

Last week's menu was focused on vegetables as my children and I did a 7 day cleanse. We started on Monday. Monday and Tuesday were filled with a lot of "what can I make??" By Wednesday I was savoring the the vegetables. Sauteed, raw, combinations that I've never tried. I loved getting creative with my food. 

In photo collage:
Top left ~ smashing up an avocado for a concoction that I used as dressing (pictured in the middle).
1 avocado, juice of half a lime, a sprinkling of ACV, a few grinds of pepper, and a bit of Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed Oil. Next time I may leave out the lime...the dressing was a little "mouth puckering".  Photo in top right shows me mixing my homemade dressing with the veggies that I added to a salad (organic spring mix).

Top Middle ~ making Tabouli in one bowl and in the other bowl is the chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado to add to a lettuce salad. I decided I liked topping my salad with tabouli (pictured in bottom right). YUM!

1 cup of bulgar covered with one cup of boiling water. Cover. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves (I didn't have fresh so I used 1/4 cup of dried mint leaves - I added this to the bulgar and hot water so that the leaves could "re-hydrate")
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
1 bunch flat leaf parsley (also didn't have so I used regular dried parsley)
1 cucumber - peeled and diced
4 roma tomatoes - diced

Stir. Eat. EASY!

Bottom left ~ Breakfast! I sauteed leftover sweet potatoes and beets to accompany my two fried eggs. YUM!

I love when I'm forced to get creative in the kitchen. And the chickens loved our mainly vegetable/fruit diet last week as it meant they got LOTS of scraps (pictured in bottom middle)!

Thankful for food which gives our body nourishment. Let me never take for granted that we always have enough food to eat. Many do not..........

Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans face hunger?

Hunger-Free MN, a statewide campaign to end hunger, states that 
"60,000 Minnesotans are missing 100 million meals annually".

I think I've mentioned before that I haven't the faintest idea of what it means to go hungry. Yet there are people most likely in my small community that know what hunger, true hunger, feels like. 

So what can we I do about those in my city and surrounding communities who are facing hunger? 

Second Harvest provides this list of ideas:

In my neighboring "big city" of Rochester, MN there are many ways to help. 

The Salvation Army provides many meals to the community. One year my husband, my son and I skipped our traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family so that we could serve a Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army. This year we'll be ringing the bells for the Red Kettle.

Channel One food bank ~ donate food and/or donate your time. Channel One even has special events in which the whole family, regardless of age, can help sort, pack and label food. 

What can you do to fight hunger in your part of the world?

Friday, November 8, 2013


I'm linking up tonight with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday. The prompt word is truth......

And before I reveal my "truth" I should share a couple of other truths with you. First, I had intended to write something completely different. In fact I wasn't even going to join the FMF party. But God took over so here I am. Also, I started writing and couldn't stop after my five minutes where up (plus my boy wanted me to make him a couple of eggs so I got interrupted half way through). So my five minutes was more like 10. Or 15. Give or take. 

The truth?

I've been stressed. I've forgotten to completely lean on God. I've forgotten how He has proven to be faithful to me over and over again. The right words come out of my mouth but somewhere along the way my mind become too overwhelmed. Stress and worry replaced faith.

Three weeks ago my boy had knee surgery and all I could think of was how I would pay that bill. And he needs to go to the dentist but that has to wait. And he needs braces....but that too will have to wait. And he needs to go back to have another knee surgery next year.....

The next week was a meeting at our local public school for the end of eighth grade field trip to Washington D.C., a trip that I've dreamed of taking with my boy since my daughter went 9 years ago. 9 years ago I was teaching preschool and working weekends as a waitress. I picked up extra shifts during the week so that I could send her and I vowed that when my son went I would go too. At the meeting I kept thinking, "Oh, I don't know if I can afford for both of us to go but we are SO GOING!"

The next day I received an email of an opportunity to go to Guatemala. Guatemala has been on my heart for a year. I sponsor a child in Guatemala and it would be so cool if I could meet her! The mission trip to Guatemala is scheduled a few weeks after the D.C. trip. I can't do both. I might not even be able to either. I cried that day as I read over the email several times. I cried as I read the list of things I would do while there, the people that I could help, the children that I could love on. I pleaded, "God, please?" And yet those tears were tears of defeat as I quickly thought that maybe God was teaching me patience, telling me that I needed to be at home. Patience to accept that my wants may simply be selfish desire and not His will.

And yet........did I even show faith that even though these goals seem unobtainable that if He really wants me to go He will make it possible? Because He can. How quickly I have forgotten the miracles that I have seen Him perform. How quickly I have forgotten that as a single mother searching for a home to buy for me and my children that HE gave me my hearts desires. I prayed and He GAVE! It was only just over a year ago that I prayed to Him to heal my daughter and He DID! I can hear Him disappointingly whispering, "Oh, Laurie, Laurie, Laurie, ye of little faith."

"You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." Matthew 17:20

Truth is I need to lay all my dreams and desires at His feet and say, "Thy will be done." I need to have faith that if Guatemala is where God wants me, He will make a way. Will you pray for me? Please pray for me to draw close to Him so that I can hear His voice, so that I can use discernment and wisdom to follow His will. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Handmade Gifts ~ Candles

Yesterday I started melting old candle wax with the intention of making candles. As the wax was melting I realized that I had misplaced the hemp rope which I use for my bigger candles. All I had was thin wick, wick that I've learned doesn't do well in the containers that I fill. The wax was melted so I decided to try my hand at hand- dipped tapers. 

 Everyone's presents just may be topped with candles this Christmas. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Does dad really need another tie?

I don't know about you but the majority of the people on my Christmas list truly have everything they need. Will I still buy them Christmas gifts? Yes because it is my love language. I love finding the perfect gift in hopes that it will demonstrate my love for the one who receives my gift. But what if I shaved off about $2 per person in order to give someone, one who has little, a gift?

I buy Christmas gifts for roughly 20 people. $2 per person, 20 people....that would be $40. 

$40 doesn't seem much but as I look through my Gifts of Hope catalog I see that if I pitched in an extra five bucks I could provide clean water for three people. In her book Awake, Noel writes, "Americans spend an average of $700 each at Christmas, which with a population of a little over 300 million , works out to over $210 billion.....if just half the population set aside $200 of their Christmas spending and put it toward the water crisis, the problem could be solved!" UNICEF states that every day 2000 children die from diseases directly related with to unsafe water. 2000 children....this is a very sad and shocking statistic. Just think, if we banded together we could easily solve this crisis! But this isn't a post about water and maybe $200 cut from your Christmas budget makes you uncomfortable so let's get back to just $40 shall we?

$40 could also provide..........

8 books

School supplies for a year for one child

4 rabbits (2 "mates") which can be sold, traded and used for food. I'm sure you know how quickly rabbits rabbit, in it's lifespan of 9-12 years, can have as many as 1000 babies! That's a lot of rabbits. Also the rabbits will create poo which is wonderful for gardens!

$35 could provide a coat or bedding (pillow, sheet, blanket)

$30 provides a fruit bearing tree

$25 provides one pair of shoes for a child
"Bare feet are the cause of up to 2 billion parasitic disease diagnoses every year" (Gifts of Hope)
$25 provides one mosquito net, a mosquito net which can mean life for a child. A child's who immune in already so compromised that a bite from a malaria-carrying-mosquito would result in death.

$22 provide a pair of chickens
       I was just thinking the other day as my husband was building a new coop for our chickens of how cool it would be to travel to impoverished areas of the world. He building the coop and I teaching the care of chicken, gathering eggs, leaving eggs for new chicks and butchering. Chickens are pretty easy.

$15 provides seeds for one family. Seeds to plant a garden, seeds to feed a family, seeds to give hope.

So what are you comfortable with skimming off your Christmas budget? Remember, even a little bit helps. And Dad really doesn't want another tie.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Made By Survivors

Jade and Amethyst Bracelet
Jade and amethyst bracelet

"Made by Survivors is an international nonprofit and social enterprise which employs and educates survivors of slavery and people at extreme risk, including many women and children living in extreme poverty."
Pink Fairy Handbag
Kids Purse
**100% of profits going to support rescue and aftercare. Women's empowerment and Fair Trade with fashion and style.

Cambodian Market Bag
Cambodia Market Bag

Made By Survivors creates many beautiful products that would make lovely Christmas gifts! Check out their website.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Eden Ministry

File:Soi Cowboy - Bangkok.jpg
A "Red Light" District in Thailand
In Red Light districts across Asia girls are being exploited, often involuntarily but sometimes voluntarily as these girls come from small villages in hopes to escape poverty. Most of these girls are tricked into prostitution, manipulated and abused. Often these girls feel stuck, stuck in a life they didn't choose, either because they have a pimp threatening their lives or their self-worth has become so low that they can't even imagine having, or deserving, a better life.

Eden Ministry is offering a solution. Eden teams reach out to the prostitutes, offering medical clinics where they can educate on the dangers of STD's and HIV, as well as providing crisis pregnancy care. Shelter, along with counseling, is offered to girls who are ready to walk away from prostitution. 
"Eden serves to restore freedom for the captives of Asia's red light districts through holistic programs- transforming body, mind and spirit. Using our international jewelry business as a platform, we provide career and skill training- empowering women for a new life and future. We continually innovate prevention and outreach programs- transforming entire communities. Eden is a voice to the oppressed, a light to the darkness."
Impressive to me is the extra measures that Eden Ministry is taking. Not only are they ministering to those who are already victims of the sex industry, but they are also reaching out to educate girls, teaching them to watch out for those who may try to lure them in. 

Some of the  women/girls who find shelter in Eden Ministry make jewelry. The profits from the jewelry sales provide an income for the girls as well as covering costs of food and shelter. They have many beautiful bracelets, earrings and necklaces to choose from. Here's just a sample: 
Turquoise Mosaic BraceletTree of Life EarringsMoonstone Necklace

This week a women's event is being hosted at Autumn Ridge Church. A short program will introduce and discuss the impact that the ministries of Deepgreen and Eden Ministry are having on women in China. Products will also be available to purchase. If you live in the Rochester, MN area, I encourage you to attend this event. Although it is free, space is limited so you must register here

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Deepgreen Project ~ beautiful hand knit scarves and hats made by women in Asia who have suffered various injustices.
"Deepgreen Threads is a knitting business that provides work for women in our community who have suffered injustice. Our desire is to see these women empowered to grow professionally, personally and spiritually." 
DG101-gn, Green
The couple behind Deepgreen have visited my church, in fact, last year the money collected during the student ministry's (middle school through high school) worship time was used to support Deepgreen. In between Saturday night church service and the time in which the students meet there is a "grab & go" cafe. Each Saturday night I'd hand my son $5-$10 to grab dinner. Every Saturday night on our way home I'd ask The Boy what he had for dinner. Almost every Saturday night he'd tell me he wasn't hungry so he didn't get anything. He's a teen...he's ALWAYS hungry. After a little prying I found out that every Saturday night he'd put either the change from his meal or, if he skipped eating, all of the money in the offering for Deepgreen. Thank you, God, for instilling in my son a heart of sacrifice and a heart to serve others.

This week a women's event is being hosted at Autumn Ridge Church. A short program will introduce and discuss the impact that the ministries of Deepgreen and Eden Ministry are having on women in China. Products will also be available to purchase. If you live in the Rochester, MN area, I encourage you to attend this event. Although it is free, space is limited so you must register here

Friday, November 1, 2013

30 days of gifts

Hmm.....just the other day I was thinking it was time for a break. No blog. No computer. And then I was sitting here browsing a store that uses it's profits to benefit others. I've ventured into many of these sites lately as I start thinking about Christmas gifts and my hope to help others with the money that I spend. So as I'm perusing, without even thinking, I click open a new tab, type in 30 Days of Gifts......WAIT! What am I doing?

Yep, I'm declaring November as 30 days of gifts. Thirty days in which I'll share ideas for gifts that are local, homemade, that not only bless the receiver but also, in purchasing, blesses a "mom & pop store", a stay-at-home mother who is trying to keep her family afloat, a woman rescued from oppression who is making "pretties" in order to support herself, a company that gives all it's profits to supply the needs of orphans......I could go on, there are so many opportunities to help others and I intend to share them here. Some days I may simply share the gifts that I've received for in everyday there is a gift. Or some days I may be "logged off" and receiving the gift of grace for skipping a day. :)

Day 1 ~ Intro :)
Day 3 ~ Eden Ministry
Day 5 ~ no post, spent precious moments with my kids! :)
Day 7 ~ 
Day 8 ~ Truth - the gift of faith
Day 9 ~ 

Day 30 & 31

I may have missed writing down my praise for day 30 and day 31 but I did not miss the two days of sharing moments with my children (which includes my boy, my girl and my Little Sprouts).

A quiet daycare day on Wednesday led to a fun-filled field trip. Quarry Hill Nature Center (one of my top ten favorite places to take kids), Sekapp's Apple Orchard and McDonald's play land made for a fun morning with the kids.

Yesterday my sweet daughter motivated me to clean up the front porch so that we could do a little decorating for our treat or treat visitors. Traffic usually comes through the back porch, however for Halloween the front porch is much more convenient. Unfortunately the front porch had become a storage room of sorts. You know that room that some people have, the one in which items (or boxes of items) get stashed when company is coming? Yep, that's my front porch. I wish I had taken a before picture. Or maybe I'm glad I didn't. Just take my word for it - it was horrible and downright embarrassing. But not anymore! 

Thankful for ...........
my children
my daycare children
field trips
God's creations found in nature - 
pumpkins, apples, and critters just to name a few
and clean porches