Altered Story Handmade Goods available at BookFinders!

| December 12, 2012

I’m excited to announce that Altered Story Handmade Goods has teamed up with another local business! BookFinders in Stevens Point, WI now offers repurposed hardcover books that have been altered into one-of-a-kind notebooks! Valuing the work of local artists and authors, BookFinders offers a wonderful selection of locally created goods, along with book accessories, candles, gifts, calendars and (of course) BOOKS! And, just like every other Altered Story purchase, 10% of profits from each sale benefits anti-trafficking organizations! So, sales help local business AND they change the world!

Altered Story notebook display at Bookfinders

Each of the notebooks are made of  incredibly unique hard cover books of all different kinds! Writers, both beginning and professional, will enjoy the lined papers found in some. Artists will appreciate the plain sketch papers found in others. Boys and girl of all ages will truly appreciate at least one of the vintage-book-turned-modern-canvas… for thoughts, dreams and ideas! Each book has divider pages, inside:  actual pages from the up-cycled book or unique retro papers, antique magazine pages or old fashioned wallpapers. No two books are alike!

Can you find the Altered Story notebooks?

What a perfect gift! Especially for creative souls who could benefit by having a journal just as lovely as the ideas put down on paper. Each book is bound with a professional grade tool that creates perfectly round and even holes through each and every paper. The wire bindings allow for wide-open page displays, making for wonderfully easy writing! What about using them for: a unique registry of that new baby’s hospital guests? that artistic/literary couple’s wedding guestbook? a child’s first journal? or even a scrapbook you’d like to remain open on your coffee table?

There they are! Right in front!

Whether it’s words or pictures that simply must be recorded, there is sure to be one Altered Story notebook that would be perfect for you or that special someone you have in mind. Make sure to get to BookFinders to check out the wonderful new selection of handmade treasures! And, remember, you can always check out Etsy for other unique Altered Story treasures!

 

 

 

“CHANGE the World”

| December 11, 2012

Changing the world by collecting change? Yup!
It all started with a group of wonderful women who had been praying for orphan children in Myanmar (old Burma). Our pastor and some people from our congregation had visited an orphanage there and discovered that, due to great poverty, the children survive on only three rice balls a day. There is a cesspool much too near the orphanage. So land is needed along with updates to the facilities. When these ladies were asking God how they could help, God gave them the idea to collect change. It was that simple. But, after that handful of praying ladies had raised hundreds of dollars among themselves, they asked if the pastor could share the vision with the entire congregation. He agreed that it made good sense. (Yes, I was tempted to type in “cents”, there. Are you glad I didn’t?) So, the challenge for our entire church to collect change and help the orphanage in Myanmar was presented.

Changing the world by collecting change

Our family mission is “Live in Christ. Change the World.” So, we wrote down our purpose (Change the World) on our collection can and got started. That was one month ago. Our kids had a blast emptying every nook and cranny of our house and cling-clanging the change into the tin. Whenever I found change, one of the kids would happily run the change to the tin to help “Change the World”. It’s been such a great experience for all of us.
We exchanged the coins at the bank, today! Now have twenty three dollar bills plus some coins. In just one month! I encouraged our boys to pray about what God would have them add (from their allowances) and my husband and I will do the same. I think a whole church of families taking this challenge will truly be able to make a difference.
Going forward, we will continue to put change in our “CHANGE the World” tin and donate the funds toward another cause close to our hearts. We will donate our change to fight the terrible reality of human trafficking.
Most of us have change lying around, don’t we? In our purses. At our nightstands. In our cars. Anywhere we empty our pockets. Think for a moment: What cause do you care most about? Why not start a “Change the World” tin, glass or bucket of your own?
What an easy and awesome idea! And, all because of some praying ladies.
I have to say it. Prayer does CHANGE things! (hehehehe)

Old Journal Entries

| October 19, 2012

Ha! I just found this journal entry written almost a year ago, when my little one had just started preschool. I think I’m getting the message!
09/13/11
“Being a writer?
I sit here in the cafe and I wonder, “Could my life really be like this? And I answer, “It is!” I have an amazing cup of coffee. I’m eating a blueberry muffin puffed way too high for good health. I’m surrounded by a spontaneous arrangement of music, sounds of chatter and laugher all around. What could be better? I’m so thankful for this year that will allow me a couple of free hours per day to pursue this possibility of a passion. I’m afraid I won’t be any good at it. I’m afraid the dream is going to be better than the actuality. I’m afraid I won’t keep trying through the hard, empty, silent moments. But, I believe that God’s destiny is greater than any of my dreams. And, I trust that if I will obey Him by moving in this direction then He will be faithful to direct my paths. I can end up in just the right spots along the way that He desires for me to be. And, I will grow and develop and mature and continue in this adventure of giving Him all of me. So, I say “Thank you, Lord for this opportunity. I’m yours. Speak through me. Develop my style. Give me content. Fill me up so I can pour it all out through these words. Make me a writer, please, Lord?”
I need to read stuff like that for motivation to really go for it!
Do you keep a journal? I encourage you to look back at what dreams have been brewing inside you for too long! It might be time to move forward.

Food Fill-Up

| July 21, 2012

One cozy evening on the couch, my sons and I were watching an emotional episode of “The Secret Millionaire.” A secretly successful businessman volunteered with a food pantry. The line of those in need was too long for everyone to receive what they came for. The show ended with a HUGE, unexpected donation, enabling the organization to be more effective and continue feeding the hungry. The rich man also promised to continue giving of his time in this meaningful way. My boys and I discussed how we would love to volunteer if an opportunity like that ever became available. Within DAYS, we heard of a similar, first-time event to feed those in need in our own neighborhood.

First -Ever Food Fill Up at Evergreen Church in Stevens Point, WI

Evergreen Community Initiatives had been selected by Feeding America to distribute more than 10,000 pounds of food to Portage County residents, thanks to another man’s generous donation and Evergreen’s willingness to make it happen. As the registrations poured in, the amount was increased to 15,000 pounds. On Thursday, July 19, in Stevens Point, WI, over 17,000 pounds of food was given away to those in need!

Even as a pastor’s wife in a church family that I truly love – Highland Church – I jumped at this opportunity to join Evergreen Church to make an impact in our community for Christ!  I believe God loves to see His people, family members of different churches, acting as the united Body of Christ in the common purpose of shining the real gospel. Shouldn’t neighbors come together for great things?!

When my sons and I arrived at 9:30 am, there were already around 50-60 volunteers from Evergreen Church, Feeding America, college students from across the state along with local volunteers like ourselves. People were bagging items, directing traffic and organizing everyone for the job to be done. It was all performed with such efficiency that I overheard various Feeding America organizers share that this was one of the most organized events they’ve ever participated in. And, this was a first-time endeavor!

My sons worked together to bag up groceries for the Food Fill-Up

The event opened early, just before 10 am, and went until 7 pm. Guests could drive right up to the building to register -with absolutely no limitations based on income. Volunteers would then put an entire bag of dry goods into the recipients’ trunks, followed by a bag of meat, fresh bread, and fruit. People didn’t even have to get out of their cars! What was so touching was seeing people benefit from the optional “drive thru-prayer” before exiting the parking lot. My kids and I witnessed both recipients and prayer partners crying while they brought their needs to the Lord. What an amazing teaching moment for our children to learn how God’s people can help to meet both the spiritual AND physical needs of others! When we left at 1 pm, the leaders believed that over 1,200 people had already been fed and only 1/2 of the registered families had yet claimed their food. Food would be distributed for the rest of the day.

Here waits one of the prayer partners. Behind the truck is the long line of cars backed up for 2 blocks on the street, waiting to pull in the parking lot for food.

When the kids and I were driving home, I told them that the organizers were thinking about doing this, more, in the future. I asked if they’d want to help out again and both of them yelled out, “YEAH!”  We weren’t able to give a huge financial donation like the secret millionaire, but we felt like a million bucks after we gave of our time and energy to meet the needs of others. What a great experience for everyone!

I Love Mommy

| June 16, 2012

I Love Mommy

We’ve all had a mother. But, not everyone has had a MOMMY. If you have, then you are blessed!
I just found out that a very special person is (surprisingly!) expecting a baby! She is feeling a gamut of emotions. I know she will be a wonderful mommy! I also have other special friends who pray to be so blessed. Their hearts are all ready for the children they haven’t even conceived. They also feel emotional!  Then, there are those of us in the midst of mommy-hood! Do these emotions ever cease?!  Nope. Our hearts are no longer our own; they belong to our kids. That’s what it’s like, when it comes to motherhood.
And, it’s not just the emotions that are affected by these wee ones. I just learned that the DNA from each little baby stays, forever, inside the mama. (This, from my science-loving husband). Each baby will always be a part of that mother. Not to mention those outward changes we wish weren’t so apparent! Physically, mommies are different.
Spiritually, our world expands. We no longer pray mainly for ourselves or our man. We can’t help focusing our energies on praying for our baby. We understand the Father’s heart in a new way.
I have a Mommy, who’s loved me unconditionally my whole life. I’m so thankful for the ways she nourished me and taken care of me. To this day, she thinks I’m the greatest girl in the entire world. And, she tells me all the time. I’m blessed!
As I raise my two favorite boys in the whole world, I notice the ways I am like my mama. I even find myself acting like her. And, when I catch my image in the mirror, sometimes, I am shocked at the similarities between the two of us. We have SAME inside each of us. Mommies are a part of their babies.
I get so thankful when I think of what it means for me to be able to be a mommy. I’m so imperfect, but I truly want to be a great mommy! It’s an adventure doing my best. What could be more amazing?
I love mommies. Don’t you?

First Annual Highland Church Arts & Crafts Show

| June 7, 2012

I really enjoyed an amazing first art show! It was the first annual art show for Highland  Church AND the first art show selling my handmade goods AND the first art show that I co-organized!  Together with many others, we raised almost $3,200 for Project Rescue! Project Rescue is a ministry to women and children caught in sexual slavery, and one of the organizations that I already support through Altered Story sales. Part of the fun and my responsibility was pulling together my first art show display! Here’s some pictures of my Altered Story booth. What do you think?

Wall Art, Magnets and Other Goodies at the Altered Story Booth

Mixed Media Art, Photo Mattes and Altered Story Bottle Cap Pins

Origami Heart Bookmarks, Birdhouse Block Decoration & Jewelry Galore!

Mixed Media, Decorative Photo Mattes, Game Board Wall Hooks & More Check out Etsy to find more goodies like these!

As the art show co-coordinator, it was a busy and fun experience to also pull together seasoned and emerging artists for a cause so close to my heart. Gathering artists for the show who do such beautiful and unique work was such a great aspect of the experience! Here’s just a sampling of the 18 artists who shared their treasures.

Photos By Rox - Roxanne Kauth was our show co-organizer! We made a great team!

PS Collections by Naomi Seiben Like her on facebook for updates on her photography and artwork!

 

Vintage Charm Creations by Nancy Hoover - One of my favorite Handmade Goods Artists! I bought up her spy owls for my wee ones and some great little decorations.

The Pink Petal Designs by Trudi Wilbur - SUCH cute garden art! I snatched up a Ting Bottle Bug!

Children's Art Showcase - 100% to Project Rescue! Kids CAN change the world! Both of my children sold their art in the show... thanks to Grandpa!

As artists continue to sell custom creations, we continue to fundraise for Project Rescue. It’s so amazing to use our talents to truly make a difference in the lives of those who need our help the most! I can’t wait for next year! I hope you’ll be able to join us!

 

Highland Church Arts & Crafts Show

| May 12, 2012

I’ve been SO busy getting ready for my first-ever Arts & Crafts Show! Not only am I one of 18 artists, but I’m coordinating the entire event with some very special people.
My new & forever friend (Roxanne) and I have been leading the “Arts & Crafts For Hope” small group every 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, since February. At each meeting, we teach on and discuss the issue of human trafficking. We also provide helpful information to emerging artists to bring success beyond our hobbies. We’ve offered tips on using Facebook, Etsy, blogging, Twitter and other modern day ways that artists can sell their wares beyond a “brick and mortar” store. We’ve also given lots of helpful ideas that we can all use as we participate in this art show! This group has helped Roxanne and I plan the entire show. We’ve done so much: inviting talented artists, planning and promoting the show, setting up, and coming up with many creative ideas for fundraising.
It is our goal to raise $5,000 to donate to  Project Rescue, an amazing ministry to women and children found in sexual slavery. We’ve gotten children involved by asking them to donate their artwork -100% of each sale will help children victimized by human trafficking. Our artists are donating items for a silent auction and they have all agreed to give 10% of their sales to Project Rescue. We are excited to see emerging artists selling alongside seasoned artists… all to fight modern day slavery. Wow! I invite you to join us for this spectacular event. It truly is Art with Purpose.

International Travel – Lessons Learned

| August 12, 2009

DSCN4473

1. Sign your passport BEFORE you show it to the airport check-in clerk. “This would have cost you 5 hours in customs…”
2. Don’t attempt to check in online if this is your first time traveling internationally. You may regret it.
3. Please don’t act like you are from a small town in Wisconsin. There is such a thing as overuse of good manners. Thank you.
4. Use all your 5 senses when going on a missions trip. (Unless the man behind you on the 9 hour flight has greazy hair and supernatural body odor.)
5. Never fly Air Moldova. Unless you like mob “lines,” rude employees, cancelled flights and hearing what translates as, “No, I’m sorry.  We cannot help you.” However, the classic style of the flight attendants might have been worth it all.
6. Be prepared to pay double digits for internet access. Or, learn about and obtain SIM cards before the trip so that you don’t need to pay for internet access.
7. Be flexible. You may need to fly through a few extra countries to get to your destination. Your credit card may not work. Your second credit card may not work. You may need to sleep at the airport or a 5 star hotel… who’s to say?
8. It’s great to try everything; there are numerous new foods to discover. But, try to avoid the sliced, raw pig fat if at all possible.
9. Bring anti-parasite medication. ‘Nuf said. (see #8)
10.  Be grateful for the journey. Every single thing you experience will become a part of who you are. You will never be the same.*

Arriving in Moldova

| July 27, 2009

On July 16th, Amy and I arrived safely in Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova.  Stepping outside the doors of the airport was a true welcome, as we viewed such an amazing panoramic of green pastures and blue skies. As we drove into the city, it began pouring and we made our way through humungous structures that looked like city gates from “Lord of the Rings”. As we got closer, we realized that they were communist-style apartments.

"The city gates"
“The city gates”

Troy Darrin (our missionary host) shared with us how each one is a condominium, of sorts, to the inhabitants. It depends on the owners how they will fix up their portion. Most are the size of 2 small rooms, with a balcony attached. One of the rooms may be used as their livingroom/bedroom, with a couch that turns into a bed. The other half of their apartment may be an entryway, a small kitchen and a bathroom. We visited an amazing young couple, with a baby, who rents one of these. The woman told us that it depends on the complex whether they will have heat starting in October or November and whether you might be in one of the warmest or coldest apartments, both summer and winter, based on what floor you live on. (Does the heat come from the top or the bottom?) Some have gas, but hers only had electricity. It costs so much, they only kept one light bulb in their 3 bulbed lighting fixture. The hallway didn’t have any lighting fixtures. The amenities depend on when they were built by the communists and how many levels they have (architectural design). She said that during these summer months it is up to her to boil her water for food and for hygienic purposes. Her small home was kept neat and tidy, and she told us she was blessed to live there. These huge complexes fill the landscape of the city.

Chisinau Apartments

Chisinau Apartments

We made our way past many of these buildings, through flooded streets and downed trees. We found “shelter” in an upscale pizzeria-style restaurant and enjoyed some delicious food. Then, we drove back to the Darrins where I was treated to some meaningful gifts, a birthday cake, and ice cream from a tube. Super yummy! We went to the living room and began the gift giving… for Moldova! Amy, I and LOTS of you donated 3 suitcases of items to the Darrins, other missionaries and ministries and the wonderful people of Moldova. It was such fun! We gave away many of the items during our visits throughout the week. They brought so many smiles! And the Darrins were left with MANY presents to give away in villages and to children, families and others as they continue their ministry in Moldova. Thank you to all who blessed us with the joy of blessing others! It was so fun to be a part of it all.*

We come bearing gifts!

We come bearing gifts!

The Sky Is The Limit

| July 19, 2009

Picture taken en route to Moldova

Picture taken en route to Moldova

Over one year ago, Amy and I were riding in a car,  coming home from a women’s conference. We were sharing how God had spoken SO much to each of us during the weekend. We were so excited because God was showing us both, in an almost tangible way, that He has a special purpose for each of us. I was sharing how God confirmed in multiple ways that I was to learn more about sex trafficking, a completely new concept to me. I was telling Amy how so many things happened that it had to be more than coincidence. You see, I found out that the same country that my youth pastor is now a missionary in (Moldova) is the same country that has the highest rate (per capita) of trafficking victims. I said, “Maybe I’m supposed to go there, someday.” Amy yelled out, “I’m coming with you!” From that moment on, God confirmed over and over again that that is exactly what we were to do.
Three days ago, Amy and I were flying on an airplane from the USA. We were amazed that God was actually bringing us to Moldova. Since we arrived, we’ve experienced more than we could ever have imagined. Throughout these few days we’ve connected with Romanian, Russian and English speaking Christians because we all share an unseen and unheard connection with an invisible God. That connection is supernatural and always amazes me. This morning I shared Jeremiah 29:11 with a village church. I shared that God has a special plan and a purpose for each one of us. I’m following God and enjoying every minute. It’s our heartfelt prayer that each one of you will find your unique purpose, too. God is truly accomplishing HIS purposes. Wow. I’m so thankful we get to be a part of them.