O Holy Night!

| December 23, 2012

“The Manger Scene” drawn by my little kindergartener

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 

“O Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas song. Whenever I hear it, my heart grows within me. I think it’s that amazing final crescendo of “OH NIIIIIGHT DIVIIIIINE” that grips me, every time. And, when it’s sung with perfect pitch and power, it’s truly breathtaking. Today, my church‘s talented music team led us in praising God to this beautiful work of art. The lead singer was flawless in hitting those notes and her passion for Christ behind the lyrics was clearly evident.

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! 

But, this morning at church, something new grabbed my attention as we sung this carol. I don’t remember ever hearing the version we proclaimed: “Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease”. The words surprised me, because although this has been my favorite Christmas song for many years, the purposes of God in my life for abolitionist work is fairly recent. So, with my eyes opened wider to the injustices of our modern world, my song rang out in praise to God… and also in prayer for those around our world who are captives. May God set them free! And, not just free from physical chains. But, may this prayer be for any who are bound with sin’s soul chains that trap them from the true freedom that can only be found in Christ! What a beautiful freedom He offers!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

I felt a little bit like this morning’s worship was a prelude to heaven. Wow. We get to praise this God, forever. The only God that came to us to draw us close to Himself.
No matter what your Christmas is turning out to be, I encourage you to look to Jesus.  The King that “In all our trials (was) born to be our friend. He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger.”  ”His power and glory ever more proclaim!” We truly have something wonderful to proclaim! The Savior of the world, Jesus Christ came just for us! Thank you, Lord!
John 3:16

“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)

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!

Good Gifts

| June 15, 2012

Don’t you just love getting snail mail? Especially when it’s a BIG package?
I just got a box full of crafting goodies! My husband’s Aunt Cindy has been a wonderful encouragement to me since I started trying to make a business out of arts and crafts. She made the first purchase ever from my Etsy shop. She’s creative, herself, and has a good eye for cute stuff! The box she sent was filled with things like vintage books, plastic scottie dogs, colorful buttons, semi-scary circus creatures and even a teeny plastic baby in a box with a creepy phrase on top. Just the sort of off-beat stuff I like! There were lots of little doo-dads that will be perfect for some mixed media creations! I’m so thankful!
I’m so blessed to have many generous loved ones! As they hear about my passion to help fight human trafficking by using the old to create new, they have helped the cause by giving generously to me. My mother in law is my greatest “buyer”, finding things at thrift stores and rummage sales that have years of history waiting to be showcased. My friends have given me Golden Books, Elementary School Primers, little figurines and rick rack – my favorites! Anything before 1985 is right up my alley! The older, the better.
Recently, my friend Roxanne blessed me with things she had saved a long time. Many things are from her grandma. Granny things are the best! Here they are, layed out in my craft studio, photographed as I was filled with winsome glee.

Thanks to these gifts from a friend, I have a bunch of new things to create with! I’m thinkin’: mixed media inside the huge golden frame & an interesting shadow box assortment of medical supplies.

What are some of the best gifts you’ve received? Why did they mean so much to you? Are there every-day objects that you’ve used to make art? I’d love to get inspiration from your stories!

 

 

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.

Blogging

| June 8, 2009

 

Pastor Laura blogs for Highland Church

Pastor Laura blogs for Highland Church at http://pastorlauras.blogspot.com/

I’m completely new to blogging. I actually prefer the smell of old books to the lighted screen and humming of the computer. So, I haven’t done much reading online. I’m pretty “green” when it comes to knowing what I should and shouldn’t be doing. Because I have an interest in writing, I figured that blogging would be a great way to practice. Now that I’m “off and running”, I’ve decided I should probably start reading some of the other blogs that are out there. What fun!

My friend, Kate, was one of my inspirations for beginning this website adventure. She has a great blog about being a creative mom. I’ve discovered many inspiring things at Coming Up Rosemary. But, I’m discovering new blogs, too. Just today, I discovered that one of my other friends just recently started writing about her role as an abolitionist, which interests me greatly. She also shares about her experiences with adoption and parenting a special needs child. Check out The Sol Train. As I was navigating her site, I came across Sara Groves’ blog. Yay! She’s my favorite music artist, who also shares a passion for social justice issues. Of course I enjoyed reading through her thoughts and watching some videos.

I have some other favorites for creative inspiration listed, here, too. Check them out. And, please let me know if there are other sites I should make sure to visit. I’m excited to discover more!

“When the Saints” by Sara Groves

| May 9, 2009

Nathan helped me put this together to inspire guests of “The Worth of One”. We can each be “one of them”!

When the Saints