Imperfect People

Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

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Imperfect People - Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

A different kind of Advent Calendar

I am pretty excited about this new advent calendar that I scored for $2 thrifting a few weeks ago.

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This is our first experience doing an advent calendar with the girls, and I don’t recall doing one as a kid so I was clueless as to what to put in each day. Internet searches mostly suggested candy which we don’t need and toys which we need even less.

My inner rebel can’t stand doing anything “normal” anyway. So this Christmas we decided to do an advent calendar full of fun activities and lots of ways to GIVE.

Here are a few examples:

1) Write a letter to a soilder (more like draw a picture for our 5 and 3 yr old)

2) Watch a christmas movie

3) Sing a Christmas song at dinner tonight

4) Make a craft for our nursing home friends

5) Deliver our crafts to our nursing home friends

6) Go see Christmas lights

7) Visit the downtown Christmas Celebration

8) Make Christmas Cookies

9) Share some Christmas cookies with a neighbor

10) Read the Christmas story from Luke

11) Act out the Christmas story

12) Put birthday candles in our dinner and sing happy birthday Jesus

13) Read a Christmas book

14) Have a blind taste test with christmas goodies to see which one you like best

15) Write an unexpected thank you note to someone i.e. teacher, janitor or waitress

16)Pick one or your favorite past activities and do it again

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I simply printed out our ideas on card stock and cut with cute scissors (To my perfectionist friends: regular paper and scissors also work just fine, I just had these on hand).

Real life “imperfect” application

  • So far, I am trying to incorporate things we are doing that day ANYWAY. For example on the evening I knew we were headed to the downtown christmas celebration I added that note in that day, or changed it around to fit the correct day.
  • Our crafts are nothing terribly impressive. And we started saving some of their crafts from pre-school to give away at nursing homes as well.
  • I let some events count for more than one day (making cookies one day then sharing the next as an example)
  • Notice how I don’t have 25. The few open days gives me grace to change some around or add to it with upcoming Christmas events. For example on the 23rd our church is helping to feed the hungry which would be a great thing to add. I’m sure we will also have friends over for dinner, a playdate, or Christmas party that will be perfect to add in that day

The main idea was to help us incorporate some intentional time to give back and enjoy the season. The kids look forward to seeing what is next each day!

Do you have an advent calendar? What are some of your creative Christmas traditions?

Your fair trade gift giving guide

Giving Gifts and Changing lives: Thats the beauty of fair trade shopping. Fair trade products are produced by beautiful people half a world away overcoming poverty, slavery, and oppression. Purchasing Fair Trade products provide jobs, and offers dignity to hard working and talented artisans. The fair trade industry is changing lives one purchase at a time.

I did a post on fair trade last year at some of my favorite shops at the time. Since then, I have heard of many more fantastic companies selling great products AND changing lives. If you are not sure what to get this year. Please consider items like……

This snazzy little purse for only $39.50 from Joyn

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Stationary Sets from trade as one $15 for the set from Trade as one

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These earrings for $15 and this ring for only $7! Also atTrade as one

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A sampler pack of fair trade coffee for the coffee lover for only $12 from land of 1,000 hills

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Or this bamboo bowl in my favorite rich red color. On special today for $11.90! from Ten Thousand Villages

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There is plenty more shopping at the links below. Happy Fair trade shopping!

Purse and Clutch

Trade as one

Land of a thousand Hills

Ten thousand villages

Headstones Don’t read job titles

Today I have the pleasure of introducing a guest blogger, my new “perfectly imperfect friend.” She writes over at, A perfect Girls’ quest for perfection. I hope you enjoy her post!

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English: Headstone on the path View over the headstones in the Howff towards Meadow side direction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unless you are the President or the Pope your headstone won’t show your career. I’ve never seen one that says “Great Administrative Assistant” or “Best Manager”. Your legacy is defined by the memories you make and the lives you touch, not your salary or your status. Here are my top five rules to achieving satisfying work/life balance:

Set boundaries. Let’s be honest, you can’t really be all things to all people. I had to set boundaries with work, family and friends. Unless there’s a hot project I have a cutoff time for work. I have boundaries for personal obligations as well. Instead of working twelve-hour days while trying to take care of home, exercise, volunteer, and spend time with family and friends, I had to create a schedule…and stick to it!

Prioritize. Know that there are days when work and life won’t balance. It’s ok. At the end of the day knowing what it takes to make you happy and making that a priority will make you a much happier person. I found mine in #3.

Disconnect. Being able to check out, if only for a brief time, is most relaxing. Everyday at 4pm I walk outside the office for about 15 minutes. I usually go alone and leave the BlackBerry on the desk. I’m sure the world can survive without me for 15 minutes. When I return I feel so relaxed and rejuvenated. The day goes faster and I have that boost of energy to carry out my personal responsibilities.

“No” is an acceptable answer. Oftentimes we will accept any and all requests knowing there aren’t enough hours in the day to fulfill all of them. Declining a request doesn’t make you a bad person. Sometimes you have to look out for you and make no apologies for it.

Do what makes you happy. Figure out what makes you happy and fulfilled and do it as often as possible. I enjoy catching up with my friends. The great part about that is my friends are athletic like me so not only do we get to hang out, but we also try some new workout craze. I look forward to it and it keeps me going until our next outing.

We all have to establish the rules that work best for our lifestyle. Though my rules don’t always work in perfect harmony, they are always the driving force in my daily decisions. I challenge you to set five goals to live by for your work/life balance.



To connect with Jasmine you can check her out on her blog. thanks Jasmine!

Personal testimoney of love and loss through infertility and adoption Bessie’s story:

I am honored to share with you, my dear friend, Bessie’s story. She has been such a picture of Jesus to me and everyone around her as she has walked through the painful and beautiful road of love and loss through infertility, pregnancy, and adoption. Here is God’s story, in Bessie Cameron:

I’ve always had a heart for children, a desire to one day be a Mom was in my heart since I was much younger. When I married, my husband and I battled infertility. During this time when we kept trying to use medical technology to start a family, we also felt led to become foster parents. Our lives were touched by several beautiful children we had in our home, in October 2009 we were able to adopt our first child, Leila Bess. Just prior to her adoption, we also FINALLY achieved a pregnancy thru in vitro fertilization (IVF)! It was more than we ever dreamed! We were blessed with a precious new baby AND I was pregnant! But at 20 weeks devastation occurred. My body went into labor far too early and we lost our precious son, Jameson. Over the next two years we took a break from medical treatments and prayed about God’s plan for our family. We still had many embryos frozen, and we were not sure whether IVF or maybe another option like surrogacy or adoption was our calling. We even had a dear friend offer to carry the baby!

Towards the end of this time we gave a few more attempts at IVF- many that had to be canceled due to my adenomyosis, and we had two failed transfers.

We decided to take another break and really pray about the will of God in our lives and for our family. During this time I read the inspiring story- Kisses from Katie. We discussed it and prayed nightly. That’s when Gods will was clear to my husband and I…adoption. It was a way we could help out an unborn baby, a woman with an unplanned pregnancy, and expand our family. We did a home study and spread the word amongst friends and family.

Within a few months we found a young woman who needed us. She was all alone in her pregnancy with no support. We began walking with her and helping give her our support and leading her to resources. I knew all along that there was always a chance she could change her mind, but I felt we were walking with her and that we were right where God wanted us to be. I knew He would be faithful.

Lily was born in late May; I cut the cord after helping the mother, with my sweet friend who agreed to be her Doula, through an all night labor. We took Lily home and were thrilled to have a new addition into our family. We loved on sweet Lily for 12 days and then the unimaginable happened: the birth mother texted me to tell me she had changed her mind.

She wanted to parent Lily. I lost it, and I panicked! I was filled with fear. I thought and said things I shouldn’t. There was some question as to whether the change of heart had come too late for us to have to legally return her. Some people advised us to fight for her, saying it would be in her best interest in the long run. After several days of meeting with counselors, the birthmother, and consulting with Godly friends, I realized what we needed to do.

During one of those early morning feedings I examined the word of God, the ultimate resource for all of life’s problems, for how to handle disagreements and whether going to court was the right answer. I knew all along the right answer, and in retrospect I know that the reason I knew it was because the Holy Spirit resides in me. That night I read of kindness, forgiveness, and I knew what the next painful steps would be. At the same park where we first met, 2 months prior, we gave our precious Lily back to her mother. Not only was this a devastating loss emotionally, but financially as well. We lost the baby we thought was ours, but we also lost the money invested in lawyers, counselors, travel and other expenses. Much of that was not refunded. Not only that, I was worried we would not be able to now afford another adoption.

A week past and I returned home to Florida. I got a text from a dear friend asking if I had read her emails and texts and what I thought about this new situation. I went back and read them and couldn’t believe my eyes! When I had asked her to pray for us in the midst of our crisis- she had responded that God may already be moving. There was another baby!

She was to be born exactly 1 month after Lily’s due date. My husband and I prayed about it, and decided we would again open our hearts and our home. This birthmother needed us even more, and was so grateful for us to adopt her baby girl. Baby Libby Grace was born on July 4, 2012.

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She has been in our arms ever since! The birth mother signed over her rights in the hospital. I have hesitated to tell our story, because until recently we were still waiting to see if the possible birthfather had registered to claim paternity. He did not! After this there will be several other formal steps of adoption to go through before it is final. We look forward to that day, when we know for sure she is ours to keep!

We’ve built our family through adoption and have been blessed beyond belief! We are so grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve found in friends and family along the journey! It is so worth it!!

Thank you Bessie for sharing your beautiful life story with us. I am excited there is a fun (and stylish) way we can help support Bessie’s family through their journey of adoption! These adoption tee’s sell for $15. ALL PROCEEDS go to help support domestic adoption!

100% cotton tee designed by Catalyst Promotions. The front reads: “Love makes a family” and the back reads, “I didn’t give you life, but life gave me the gift of you” Support Adoption. You know you want one!

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Sizes

 

Hereditary Hemochromatosis, what you need to know

There is a very common yet rarely diagnosed genetic condition called Hemochromatosis. It can be serious yet it is very treatable. Here is what you need to know:

(Disclaimer: I am no doctor, only sharing my experience. I hope this helps to save a life!)

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I always thought my healthy habits would protect me from any crazy diagnosis. I thought growing my own food, ordering fancy vitamins, and drinking lots of water meant I was bullet proof. I guess I also thought I was in control.

Hemochromatosis, it’s a genetic blood disorder where your blood holds onto more iron than it should. And I have it. There is nothing you can do to prevent it and nothing you can do to cause it. It is inherited.

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Suspecting I had a food allergy, my doctor decided to do some blood work. Thankfully he also did a complete iron panel (not regularly checked). My iron levels came back WAY above the normal range. There are very few reasons anyone’s iron would be elevated, and the most common is hemochromatosis.

When my doctor asked me if I had ever been tested for it, I just said, “Hemo chroma wha????”

He ordered another blood test where we discovered I do indeed cary one gene copy of this genetic condition.

I (naturally) read EVERYTHING i could possibly find online, bought a book about it, and annoyed my doctor until I finally got some answers.

I figured having too much iron was a good thing. But I was wrong. When it comes to iron it is all about balance. When there is not enough you become anemic and your blood doesn’t have enough iron to perform properly. When you have too much your vital organs (mainly your liver and heart) are essentially poisoned and it can eventually be fatal.

The good news is it is super treatable! Just by donating blood!

But for me it wasn’t that easy. My Ferritin (bound iron) was on the low side of normal and my iron saturation was high. So giving blood would just aggravate the issue. The good news is my fasting blood work was MUCH better than my non fasting which is a clearer picture of my levels. I also only have one gene copy making the possibility of me getting “iron overload” less likely. For now the doctor just wants to monitor my diet and have regular lab work to watch my iron levels. Typically this condition is not discovered until patients are much older, if at all. I am fortunate to be aware of this in my young 30’s so we can be proactive.


How does this apply to you?

The main thing I have found is how common this is yet how RARELY it is diagnosed. In fact 1 in 4 people of Caucasian decent has at least one gene copy. Yet it is often labeled heart problems, arthritis, depression even diabetes.

The symptoms are very vague (another reason it is so commonly misdiagnosed) but include: feeling tired, achy joints, constipation, bronzing or “melasma” of the skin, and feeling depressed. Lots more info here.

Unless you are anemic be cautious of taking any multi-vitamins with iron. Women’s multi vitamins, especially pre-natal are LOADED with iron. Most women do need more iron than men but eating a healthy diet is typically an adequate supply.

Next time you have a check up ask for a COMPLETE iron panel. Not just your hemoglobin but your iron saturation, total iron count, ferritin etc.

Statistics show that people who donate blood on a regular basis (men in particular because they don’t have a monthly cycle) are 25% less likely to die of a heart attack. I am willing to bet this is the reason why!!

If you do not discover you have hemochromatosis and it goes untreated there is a high risk of liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, and others.

If you find out you have it early enough and it is properly treated, those who have hemochromatosis will live a long and healthy life.

Despite my original FREAK over the situation it is really a very good outlook.

My goal in this post is to educate as many people as I can so they can help prevent serious results from such a treatable condition! Tell your friends and get your iron checked, it could save your life!

Giving more and spending less

With spring cleaning in the air it is a good time to thinking about Christmas???

Well not exactly.

Here’s the thing:  In our country we have a LOT of stuff.  Stuff we take for granted.  Stuff that, to us, is just…well… stuff.  Yet it could be used to make a difference to someone half a world away.

Starting in Januaury of this year I started a little, experiment if you will.  It seems we have a lot of brand new stuff coming into our home that we do not neccisarily need.  I’m talking about birthday party favors, duplicate gifts, and gifts in excess from grandma.  I started a pile in my closet (on the top shelf) of “shoebox” items:

Operations Christmas child is a project from Samaritans purse that collects shoe boxes filled with Christmas goodies for children in 3rd world countries.

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Children like these who dig through the landfill located right beside their village.  This sweet boy digs through the trash to find something to sell or even to help build their home.  But when you are surround by poverty, there is not much of value thrown away.

For some reason I am living in a 1st world country with an over abundance of stuff and this boy is digging through the trash.  I have so much stuff that I often throw away that would be a joy to someone else.  What is wrong with this picture?

I am trying to re examine my “trash” to see if it could be used to bless someone else.  So far I have collected several toy balls, pens, pencils, flip flops, some costume jewelry, a recorder, a kaleidoscope, playing cards and a few brand new shirts (not pictured).

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I hope to have several boxes by Christmas time and divide toys, clothes, and school supplies evenly.  The picture is not what I will send but just to show the collection so far.   I am pretty excited about all of the stuff that we no longer need that can help make a child smile!!  For all the legalist, don’t worry i will still buy several things to make sure every box is even and more than anything stuff the children need.  But in the mean time can I get a woot woot for less waste, and more giving!!!

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Heartprints

Whatever our hands touch—
We leave fingerprints!
On walls, on furniture,
On doorknobs, dishes, books,
As we touch we leave our identity.

 Oh Lord please where ever I go today,
Help me leave heartprints!
Heartprints of compassion
Of understanding and love.
Heartprints of kindness
and genuine concern.

 May my heart touch a lonely neighbor with a smile,
a worried mother, with peace
a homelss person with warmth,
and my dear friends with love 

I shall go out today
To leave heartprints,
And if someone should say
“I felt your touch,”
May that one sense be…YOUR LOVE Lord
Touching through ME.

 Author Unknown

Your ministry is where your feet are

God has called us all to the same job, “make disciples” 

Whether our mission is in a hut in africa or a brick home in the suburbs.  We are ALL missionaries.  I am not trying to make excuses for us to NOT go to forign lands as the need is MUCH greater there but merely making a point for many of us who never considered ourselves to such a high calling. 

  

I think many of us say “one day I will make a difference” but what will we do “in the mean time?” 

I feel so inadequate because I am NOT serving in a foreign land, then God reminds me my ministry is where my feet are. 

Right here, today where you are, is your mission field.

I meet people everyday having marital problems, young people looking for love in all the wrong places, and people searching for meaning in weath and status. 

I can make a difference if I am willing to consider myself a missionary…right where I am.

 Where are your feet ministering today?

This is a little…uncomfortable

I used to hear preachers talk about “getting uncomfortable” and to be honest I didn’t like it.  Why wouldn’t God want me to be comfortable?  I like being comfortable.  I like predictability, I like stability, and I like warm fuzzy socks.

I am in this weird place I don’t know how to describe.  I read books like, Kisses from Katie where a 19 year old girl left EVERYTHING she knew to be comfortable and lives in Uganda.  She is now 22 and mother to 13 once orphaned little girls.  I hear stories of friends who just last week returned from Honduras where they saw countless houses made of magazines, and scrap wood with no electricity and plumbing.

I see pictures like this:

I read radical too and that probably didn’t help.

It cost $20 a quarter to send a Ugandan child to school (including their meals).  Yet that cost is 4 times the cost of their electricity or plumbing which many of them can’t afford anyway.  Lack of education just continues the cycle of poverty.

We can spend more than $20 going out to eat for ONE meal!

It just makes me, well, uncomfortable ya know?

I love nice things as much as the next girl.  I don’t think smart phones are sinful, and I love our home.

But I just can’t help but see things differently.  It is uncomfortable.  It would be much easier to ignore.  I don’t see poverty around me everyday.  I don’t personally know any starving children.

And I think that’s the problem.

I have heard it said it is not that we don’t care about the poor, it is that we don’t know them.  Just this glimpse from books and stories from missionaries makes me WANT to know them more.

But it’s messy helping the poor.  They need soo much, some need more than you can give, some are looking for handouts, and some are dirty.  It isn’t always safe, some have disease and some are unkind.

But God doesn’t just ask us to help if we have nothing else to do, He commands it…of all of us.

As Katie Davis said, “I am not afraid of disease or death, I am much more afraid of being comfortable.”

I guess I am seeing through all of this that comfortable isn’t such a great thing after all.  A restless hunger to do more to the least of these isn’t comfortable.  From the small amount I have experienced helping, it is pretty messy and time consuming too. But it is so much better than staying comfortable.

Part of me wants to sleep on the floor and skip meals out of guilt, but I know that solves nothing. 

Lord, break my heart until it moves my hands and feet.  Open my eyes to see your love for ALL people.  May I worry less about being comfortable and more about being used by the King of the universe to do great things. 

I can’t change the world, but I can start with one.  Making a difference for ONE person…can change that person’s world.