“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)

A MacBook Air with an Orange Cover

| November 30, 2012

Here’s the picture I would post if only I had a MacBook Air

I’m dreaming of a MacBook Air. I dream that I bring my little laptop with me wherever I go. In my dreams, I pull it out of it’s cute case and type out all my thoughts and ideas that will make a fine novel, someday. It has an orange cover, because orange is happy and it inspires me. It is the first computer that I’ve ever owned that wasn’t a hand-me-down. It is personalized to fit my needs. It has apps (a long-standing item on my wish list!). I strongly believe in apps. I don’t get to use them, much, yet. But, someday I will. Someday I will use my twitter account and tweet to my 48 followers who have never once received a tweet from me or a hashtag or anything, yet they are still following me. (How sweet are they?!) Someday I will have apps that help me do my crafts more creatively and write my sentences more acceptably and shop at the grocery store more healthily and go places more efficiently and learn about so many things that I’m just sure I could only know about if I had apps. And, my friend Mindy would rejoice with me because she knows about this longstanding desire. When I go to bed at night and I think of those most important thoughts that have filtered down to the end of my day and I wish I could reach over to my orange covered MacBook Air and type them in, I can’t help but believe that someday my wish will come true. I’ve been praying for God to spoil me with a MacBook Air. I’ve had 2 amazing friends offer me their used non-Mac laptops, which I truly appreciate. I’m embarrassed to admit I feel very snooty about not using them because I really, super-bad am praying that my Father will bless me with what I can truly use-a MacBook Air. You see, my entire photo library and all my previous notes and documents and newsletters and flyers and everything I use for ministry and Altered Story and my blog and anything techy is Mac-related. My smart husband doesn’t think I should attempt to make a short-term change to one of those computers and then try to make it all transfer back perfectly on that special, golden day when I do get my very own MacBook Air. And, I agree with him because in my dreams I am united with my hubby in all his apple-loving bliss. We can email each other documents that don’t need to be exported. That’s how marriage should be. And, there’s the apps to consider. So, I continue to dream. Because using his MacBook Pro late at night, like this, when I’m tired from my computer-less day of writing with pen and paper and jotting down ideas that I just might definitely make something amazing out of, if only I had a MacBook Air available to me during the sane hours of my day, makes me wonder if I’m looking a bit silly to the world in this blog post.

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!
“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.

I Am A Writer

| October 18, 2012


Photo taken by Cristi Schroeder at Warrens Cranberry Festival – a place of inspiration!

Dreams can be scary. That’s one reason they can take so long to come alive.
About eight years ago, I read and journaled through “The Dream Giver.”  Working through that book, three passions of mine came into focus as one dream. My lifelong love of reading, my desire to write and my desire to help adolescents combined into a focused dream to author fiction books geared at young girls. I imagined writing books filled with good morals and lessons and big purposes- all mixed inside the storyline. But, in the face of everyday responsibilities, my pursuit got sidelined. (Also, I honestly don’t think that the timing was right.)
It’s true, though, that those ambitions to be a writer have remained. I have often said, “Well, I always wanted to be a writer.” That’s way easier than saying, “I am a writer” which would lead to the question… “Oh? What have you written?” Which would then lead to a lot of self doubt and other’s judgments about my “minor works”.
Here’s that short list of writing accomplishments:
  • a children’s book in 11th grade that received high praises (from my HS teacher)
  • a bunch of A+ essays in college relating to psychological topics (graded and discarded)
  • a retreat curriculum for youth group teens based on the movie, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (a “whopping” 15 girls, participating)
  • most of the content for a quarterly church newsletter that ran for a few years (I joke that their were 5 faithful readers)
  • (not enough) posts on this blog
My biggest credit, I realize now, is that fact that I’ve been journaling since I was a child. It’s always helped me to get my thoughts and feelings onto paper. But, could all that really help me as a writer? Well, the authors at a recent writer’s workshop taught that anything that gets us writing in sentence form, pouring ideas onto the page-including journaling- will benefit our writing. As I soaked up every word at the workshop, my dream of writing seemed completely possible. And, I sense the conviction, confirmation and excitement that NOW is the time to pursue it!
No, I don’t plan to “take a year off to write my novel” or travel to France for inspiration. I’m just going to start with large amounts of the little things. Like finally blogging 3+ times a week. Writing at least 10 minutes a day with pen and paper in hand. Submitting some articles to local papers and eventually magazines. I hope to incorporate some of my Altered Story projects by writing tutorials for craft projects and seeking publication. Then, as my thoughts get fleshed out and my writing skills develop, maybe I will write that first book for young readers. Maybe, someday, I will write a bunch of books.
So, I’ve just decided to do it! I will finally, actually call myself a writer. I will face my fears and go for this dream!
Calling myself a published author? Well, hopefully that’s yet to come.
I’m curious… do you have dreams of being a writer? What would you write? Maybe we can join together in the pursuit of this dream… however scary it may be!

I Am A Reader

| October 17, 2012

Since my youngest years of elementary education, I loved to read.  I checked out books from our school library over and over again. I felt that the world within the pages was a world I could make my home. A comfortable place where I felt safe. I could laugh. I could relate. I read about people that seemed a lot like me… or who I wished I could be.
I happily discovered the misadventures of Romona Quimby and was hooked! This little girl found herself in lighthearted, funny situations. I soon discovered that the author, Beverly Cleary, had many more books I could enjoy. I loved escaping to Klickitat Street and feeling a sense of community and friendship and family.
As I grew older, I discovered Judy Blume. She wrote about silly grade school episodes that actually dealt with real feelings and frustrations (“Superfudge”, “Otherwise known as Sheila the Great”) I read every one! As I got closer to the teen years, I read “Iggie’s House” and “Are you there God, It’s me, Margaret?” I learned things from Judy Blume that I could never actually speak with others about, in real life. As I read, I felt a part of something. Something secretive, even. Nobody else knew what I was reading. It was mine. And it was beautiful.
As the years went on, “Sweet Valley High” intrigued me more than I’d care to admit, now. Learning about dating and boys and popular kids… well, at least I could read about all that!
When high school hit, I guess I stopped reading fiction and focused on text books that would help me pass tests. College continued with more of the same… and the addition of Bible reading and devotionals as I was feeding my new faith. Christian nonfiction filled my young adult years. Home Decorating Magazines were the bulk of my reading content as a newly married woman. Parent Magazines and books about the stages of human growth were food for thought as I became a new mom. That continued for many years. Country Living, Mary Engelbreits Home Companion… these magazines provided all the light reading I could fit into my busy days. It wasn’t till 2008, when I first heard about human trafficking, that my reading preferences changed from topics relating to the inside of my home to those going on around the world. Gary Haugen and Nicholas Kristof became my new author “idols”.
In recent days, memories have brought me back to those early days of reading. Hoping to recapture what I experienced back then, I’m starting to read some young adult fiction. Dreams are brewing inside me. I’ve always been a reader. But, I’m beginning to believe it’s for a greater purpose than enjoyment or education. It’s about more than me finding myself within the pages of another writer’s work.
I am a reader. But, I am discovering that I am so much more. I’ll let YOU read about that… tomorrow!
What about you? Who are your favorite authors? And, what do you enjoy reading?

Red Wagon Fairy Garden

| September 10, 2012

Red Wagon Fairy Garden

I have a new fancy for fairy gardens.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s more about the accessorizing than the actual gardening or the fact that tiny little things are just SO cute, but I can’t get enough! When I noticed my neighbor, through my window, putting this scruffy red wagon out on the curb, I dropped everything and ran out, barefoot, to snatch it up. I didn’t know what I would do with it exactly, but I knew I would use it in my garden. Soon after that, I decided to create a mobile fairy garden! What fun!

Repurposed Wagon sitting pretty in front of the picket fence

So, I looked all over Pinterest for neato ideas, and then came up with some of my very own. I researched which little plants I should try to find at my local garden shop, and I journeyed into unchartered territory. (You’ve heard of having a green thumb? Well, I used to have a brown thumb. But, I forgot to water it and it fell off). I still couldn’t help feeling some hope for success when I saw such beautiful tiny white daisy flowers on Irish moss and little succulents that looked like puffy little forest bushes. I just couldn’t screw up such sweet little miracles, could I?

There’s enough room here for the extended fairy family, too!

I once spied on an apron-wearing fairy plucking out weeds. Her head was down, so she didn’t see me!

I also ransacked my craft room and went through all my little goodies to decide what might work well for my new creative endeavor. I decided to put my antique tin collection to use. I found red and white toadstools that would match the wagon, along with some cute strawberry bells that I purchased on Etsy. I used some black and white polka-dotted tape (repurposed from my SMASH book) to make wee little water-proof flags for the “backyard”. They match the domino welcome mat. At the front door, there’s a sign reading “snail mail” posted on a matchstick poking out of a little snail shell.  I also used some felt flowers that I had pieced together with some lovely buttons. They grow right next to the veggie garden… simply colorful yarn “edibles” growing strong next to toothpick stakes.

I do like the little mirror lake that the fairies come to swim in. It’s glistens with brilliant dew after a chilly night’s sleep. Pretty at sunset, too!

The lake stones are smooth on the fairies’ feet.

A vintage stir stick makes a great wind whistler!

In the side “field”, I put a wind chime, of sorts. What could catch a Mid-Western breeze better than a little vintage harmonica hidden in the sedum?! Clever, I thought!

Can’t you just imagine the fairies playing games by the backyard flags and strawberry bells?

Not-so-clever was adding little birthday candle holders as pathway lights to the lake. I didn’t account for the hot summer days we would have. (Goodbye, melty lights.) Another live-and-learn idea was the little fluffy smoke coming out of the chimney- the final outcome of which I wasn’t thrilled with. Imagine wet cotton after a rain storm. I also wished it wasn’t such a brown landscape.  I’ll definitely invest in some nice green moss to cover the entire area, next year. Maybe it’s just me, but the dirty landscape kind of reminds me of a dusty southern farm, where chickens run fast-away from the barking hound dogs. I’m almost sure most of the fairies who used this garden wore calico dresses and cowboy boots.

I must sheepishly admit that yessss, by the end of the summer, some of my green fairy yards looked more like dry miniature driftwood collections. I haven’t quite mastered gardening, you could say. Even fairy gardening. I’m hoping my plants will resurrect after a quiet winter hiding in the basement. If not, now I know just where to go to find some living dwarf plants to begin, again! I still can’t help but have some fairy gardening hope, even with my lack of bloomin’ skills!

It’s a small start (hehehehe), but it’s only my first year. Next spring, I plan to cut little arched doors into my little tin boxes. Houses complete with tin roofs, and maybe a window or two. I will surely allow space for a little wooden swing under a dwarf boxwood “tree.”  I have a few other dreams for my next fairy garden that I can’t wait to put wings to. (Stop me!)

Do you have any tips or ideas for this newbie fairy gardener? What’s in your fairy garden?


First Day of Kindergarten

| September 4, 2012

Since before college, I had my life planned out.
I would graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology, get married to a handsome pastor, have two babies and stay at home raising them -just until the youngest went to kindergarten. THEN, I’d either go back to school for my master’s degree or begin a meaningful career. I love helping people… so counseling has always been a dream. But, I’d love to be a writer, and I thought maybe I could pursue that. Or, I would pursue a different kind of education and build on my art skills. No matter! I had lots of time to figure things out!

Life’s Check List
Marry handsome pastor – check!
Birth two beautiful kids – check!
Stay home to raise the wee ones – check!
Send off baby to first day of Kindergarten – check! (as of this morning)
Direction for what to do now – uhhhhhh?….

I don’t really have anything figured out.
My little boy is having the adventure of his life at his first full day of kindergarten. Gone from Mom. All new friends. Lots to take in and learn. I encouraged him to be brave. To have anticipation for the good in it all. To go in with a positive attitude and then just see what God can do! He has no idea what this day or this school year will bring. But, he’s pressing on and into all of it.
I’m all for God-adventures. I want the full life! I believe adventures can only be true adventures if they are a little scary, a little exciting and (at least) a little fun! I’m sure that’s what my kindergartener is experiencing on his first-day adventure.
Me? I’m at home with a lot of mixed emotions. I have a bunch of questions. I miss my boys but I’m excited for what’s to come. I have an adventure of my own to begin. Schooling & a full time career aren’t even on my radar. I’m a bit scared about life’s details, but I know I can trust God for every one.
To start, I think I’ll just take a little time to enjoy a quiet house. To rest. To seek after God’s heart and His real direction for me. To do some of the things I’ve had on the back-burner for a while. I think I’ll just give myself a teeny bit more time. I’m thankful for today and all the possibilities.
What about you? What does the start of this new school year mean for you?

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.

The 3 R’s

| June 8, 2009


Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure

READING   As a child of the 80′s, I found great pleasure in laughing through the adventures of Ramona Quimby. I held my breath as I tried to figure out the clues that Encyclopedia Brown discovered. I joined the boxcar children in their cozy little train home that they shared without their parents. As I got older, I read straight through Judy Blume’s box set. Yes, I even remember hiding my copy of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” from my mom, thinking she might take it away from me if she knew what I was reading. Pretty racy stuff. Those books represented a sort of invisible friend whom I shared a special part of my life with. I think they probably shaped who I became, in many ways.

WRITING   I know this sounds super nerdy, but I loved writing papers in college. Partially because I love to write. Partially because my major, Behavioral Sciences, was genuinely interesting to me. I spent way too long perfecting my essays until I was truly proud of my work. I enjoyed being a nerd. 

ARITHMETIC (or, how they add up)   As I was reading “The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkenson a few years ago, I consciously connected those two pieces of me. I began to wonder if perhaps I might use my desire to write for the benefit of pre-teen readers. Might my interest in human psychology unite with my faith to help shape young girls through fiction books? Could being a published author be a part of my future? I hope so.

Our lives are real life “Choose Your Own Adventures”.  We can use what we’ve learned as we make our decisions. What interests and talents have you discovered from the pages of your life that might help you make the most out of the rest of your story?

Take the Lead

| May 30, 2009

Nina Winkelman at the Moldovan display that she and her coworkers created. 

Nina Winkelman created a display at Platinum Salon in Stevens Point to collect gifts for Moldovan children.

When Amy and I were planning our special night, “The Worth of One,” we had people like Nina in mind. Our greatest vision was to inspire others toward the purposes and plans that God created them specifically for.

What we didn’t know was that Nina has a real compassion for the kids of the world. Her coworkers watch in amazement as Nina has patience and love for even the tiniest, most difficult, wiggling salon customers. When she heard about the needs of the children in Moldova, she decided to do what she could to help. She and her coworkers set up a special display and are receiving donations that will benefit orphans and the children of victims of sex trafficking. Because of people like her, our suitcases will be packed full of things that will bring smiles to some of the poorest children in Europe.

Others have shared with me what they’ve been challenged to do: Volunteer at First Choice Pregnancy Center. Work to share about purity with young women. Go for the big vision, “Changing the World.”

Because we are following our dreams to Moldova, God is inspiring others to follow their dreams. Nina is leading her coworkers in the worthwhile endeavor to love kids, both near and far. Whatever your purposes are, I challenge you to take Nina’s example. As you make that next step, others might just follow your lead.