SLIDER

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Incognito


I love writing down conversations with and between my kids that I find funny. Actually I
always facebook status them. So I probably at some point should go back and write them down.
 Because pretty soon, facebook will probably be charging me to log in or review my timeline history
or something crazy. To be honest, I'm getting a little weirded out at the access and rights some of
these social networks are gaining lately. Go figure and I have a public blog. Haha.

Anyways, LOVED this one Jeff had with Leila the other day right after he finally bought new 
glasses after 8 years and we were driving home.

Jeff: Nobody will recognize me with my new glasses. I will be going incognito.
Leila: NOOOOOO! I don't want to go to cognito. I want to go home!!!

It was so whiney and so cute.. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Weeping Of A Woman


I hear the weeping of a woman, a woman of many years
Her weathered skin is more than just old age, Her tears aren't of fond memories of days gone by
Each tear holds the name of a young girl she once knew,
I see each tear falling in slow motion to her tattered gown
It tells the story of a sister, a friend, a mother who lived their lives in fear
She remembers them so vividly, the hollow eyes gazing back at her
The girl afraid for her life and the lives of her children
The sister that died too young in the face of disease
The friend cowering in the corner, trembling after being raped
The mother who was burdened with no way to put food on the table
The babies left home alone  at night because there was no one there to care for them
While their mother looked for work on the streets, in the eyes of danger and regret

You see, this woman lived a full life, filled with happiness, she had what she needed
so it was easy to forget and close her eyes to the pain around her
Yet somehow she remembers vividly the pain of those, the lack, the hopelessness
The old woman looks to her lap, where a giant leather bound book lays
the pages falling out after being turned over and over throughout the years
One final tears drops to these words, and this tear, 
This tear, it holds the name of Jesus
"For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty, you gave me nothing to drink
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you didn't clothe me
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."
Oh, these tears she weeps, these heavy breaths she breathes, she does with regret
She remembers each moment, looking into the very face of Jesus as he asked her
"Do you love me?" Assuredly, she answered, "Yes." And that was it.
She read. She spoke. She sang. But she never "did."

Now this woman looks ups from her lap and gazes into the eyes of Jesus, the empty eyes.
The empty eyes of her friend, her sister, her mother, her daughter... and the empty eyes
of the woman in the heart of her city or a woman on the crowded death laden streets
the other side of the world. That woman she never helped. That woman that bore the
eyes of Jesus, whom she said she loved.
And in her ears rang these words as the tears begin the brim her eyes again.
"Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."
This woman could be you. This woman could be me. But I do not want her story to be mine.
Her tears to be mine at the end of my life.
The tears I cry, I want to be with the heart of God, not just for the weak and the broken,
the addicted and imprisoned, but with them.

I was asking God, how do I put myself in these womens shoes. The truth is I can't. Because I have never been there. But I can put myself in the place of the woman who ignored the cries of others...
I am down to my final three days of my suburbia to the streets project.
Together, many of you have helped me raise money to help two of these precious women
off the streets and out of prostitution. I have 3 days left to help one more.
I have raised $950. I have $50 pledged. I need $200 more to help one more girl.
Will you give up your coffee today and help me, help them?
If so, click donate below...

These are the women YOU are helping...with your donations...





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Monday, February 25, 2013

10 {HELPFUL} Things I Have Learned Since I Start Blogging




Is it just me, or does it seem like GFC is merely an ego boost?
Personally I rarely actually use GFC to browse new posts. Yet it seems like we all rate
ourselves by the number of GFC followers we have. Don't do that. Don't let GFC numbers
determine how you rate your own blog. There are SO many other ways people read.

 If you are a new blogger and aren't aware of this. You want exposure?
You want to connect and make friends. You need to have twitter and instagram. Most group
conversations and communication in general seems to happen on twitter. And instagram is a
constant way to not let people forget about you.

Now naturally this is my own personal opinion, but giveaways involving more than 
six or seven people are obnoxious. I'm talking about being involved in one  (and entering them too, I guess.) I've been involved in giveaways where there were 50+ prizes and I think I got one fb like...maybe. And giveaways where there are 4-5 people and have gotten like 50 followers. 

Well, here is the thing. I like to be supportive, but I don't have a lot of extra money lying around to pay for ad space. So really it's all about what you want. Are you wanting more readers and exposure? Or just to be a good bloggy friend? I've done both. But as far as wanting more readers, again I go for people that don't have an insane amount of sponsorship "spaces" available on their blog. If I'm one of six in a group giveaway or feature I'm a lot more likely to get exposure as opposed to
 if I am one of thirty.

Not everyone. But we just have to deal with it. Either because they realized they are not really into what you do on your blog. Or because they simply they just wanted the free stuff. Personally I always get deleted whenever I write about God. It's inevitable. As soon as I post something, as I hit publish I tell myself "Here it comes." Sigh. Any person that followed me because they like me or they find me inspiring always stick around no matter what. But people the follow due to a giveaway or blog hop aren't always going to stay.

I've been in tears over blogging. I've threatened to quit completely. I've taken six week long breaks because I get too overwhelmed with trying to please people. Having sponsorship on your blog is great for extra money if you need it, and I know some people live off it. I just can't do it. I'm way too emotional. I really am. And I want to be able to quit blogging for a whole month if I feel like it. And I do...a lot. But if I have sponsors, I feel obligated to be supportive. Haha that sound's horrible. I love to be supportive, because I want to be, not because I have to be. I recently took my sponsor spaces down and am trying to work that all out as to what I can and can't handle. 
Hopefully I will figure it out soon.

Again, this is a matter of opinion. But there is no way on this planet you will ever find me trying to do DIY posts or Recipe posts  just because...My blog is mainly inspirational writing, throw in a little humor and a tad bit of fashion and photography intermixed. I've tried the "being who I am not thing" to get more people to like me. It's so pathetic. I'm so pathetic. I'm done with that. Do it because YOU love to do it. Not because other people will love you if you do. Not to say you can't venture out for fun, but my personal experience is I'm a lot happier doing what I love and loving what I do.

The business of blogging is very time consuming. But blogging in itself its fun if you are passionate about it. For whatever reason you are. There are days where I can spend hours on the computer editing photos and writing and love every moment of it because it's my creative outlet. And that is just one post. But again, that moment you feel like you HAVE to do something because someone else is expecting it...or you WERE PLANNING on linking up, or you comitted to co-host something before you had that minor nervous breakdown, then it becomes a burden.
You are in control of what your blog is. If you don't want pressure. Let it go. And just do what
you started out doing...blogging. I've really trying to watch myself, what I commit to lately.
Mainly because I am so emotional and I know it. If I commit to something, be it a guest
post or a giveaway or co-host spot, etc...what if that week I have a bad week? Haha
Yes, I plan that way. At least now I try to. I am a cross between wanting to support 
everyone and their mother and wanting nothing to do with anything. That's a weird place to be in,
but at least I know myself well enough to know I am like that and work around it.

If you have a blog facebook page that people can "like," You get WAY more views on your fb posts if you write up your description "as a status" and then post the actual link inthe comment section. I'm not sure how Facebook works exactly, but I know they want you to pay to promote your advertising. I'm guessing if it "looks" just like a status then it's not advertising and more people see it.

Unless blogging really IS your source of livelihood, i.e. it puts food on the table, textbooks in your backpack, tires on the car...then don't let it consume your life and thoughts. Sure when something crosses my mind or I am at an event that might be blog worthy, I make a mental note of it, capture a few pictures. But don't let go of that moment because you are too busy thinking about getting the perfect photo for your blog or how you are going to write about it. You will miss experiencing a lot of your life's precious moments while you are blogging about them. Life first. Family first. God first. 
Your blog is your journal about those things, not to take the place of those things. 
Sounds silly. But I've been there.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Another Piece Of My Story


A lot of times when I write and try to tell my story,
I talk about how I was raised in the church,
so I don't really feel like I have a story. I was a pretty good girl. Never got in alot of trouble.
So instead, I go to a recent experience of God helping me out of a very long season of depression.
That must be my story.
But the truth is we all have a story. I'm a big believer that every part of our story is important.
Every tragedy, every epic moment of joy creates us into who we are today.
And today I am going to tell you that first moment I became this girl I am today.
a part of my story I have never talked about in blog world.
When I was 19, I had been out of school for over a year, but I had no desire to 
go to school beyond that. So I just worked.
About a year into it I went to a youth conference, you may have heard of it...
called Acquire The Fire. Being raised in a preachers home, I had actually been to several
of these youth conferences throughout my teen years and had always enjoyed them but went home
pretty much the same person I went there as.
Every year they would show videos of their Global Expeditions.
A part of their organization that took teenagers across the globe on missions trips to like
eighteen countries every summer to share the love of Jesus with people of other nations.
That year, because all I was doing was working, I felt like I was doing nothing with my life.
So I decided this would be the year I would go. Yes, I was going to travel the world
all by myself with a bunch of teenagers I did not know.
And I did. I went to Albania. The experience of traveling through Italy and to Greece in 
itself was amazing. I met new friends. I encountered a new culture.

I learned of these people who had recently come out of communism at that time.
Who were so grateful, and loved the Lord so much, and didn't take for granted
their new found freedom in serving God. A lot of what we take for granted here.
In fact, lately  it seems like we are using our freedom to kick God out of our country.
They were the exact opposite. They desperately wanted the freedom to serve God.
They were unashamed in sharing the gospel. I mean, even the teenagers were. 
They were our interpreters and had no fears or hesitation in approaching people with the story of Gods love.
I can't say how much that made an impact on me. How much it moved me.
I remember coming home after a month in Albania that year and taking a trip"up north"
to visit my relatives with my mom. You see, My mom grew up on an Indian Reservation.
So, yes, I am Native American.


One thing I got really used to over the years is hearing the continual tragedy that haunted people we knew, or people that she knew. If it wasn't suicide, it was jail time. If it wasn't jail time, it was someone's kids getting taken away. If it wasn't someones kids getting taking away, it was rape. If it wasn't rape, it was death associated with alcoholism.
This is fairly common conversation. So sad and tragic and I always wondered why.
I never understood it, but as I grew up I learned that it wasn't just the reservation she grew up on,
Native Americans as a whole seemed to enslaved by much of these types of things.
Anyways...one day we were up north in my moms hometown and we were driving...
and we came across someone that she knew and he was walking on the side of the road.
She picked him up and he wreaked of alcohol and looked sad and sickly and weak as he
stumbled into our car.
I was just a young nineteen year old girl, and although I had heard stories of alcohol related accidents
and disease fairly often, alcohol was really never apart of my life.
It shocked me. It made me sad to see him look this way. So given over to a life that had no hope.
I remember after she dropped him off, there was a song playing on the radio.
It was by an old Christian rock band called Petra. The Lyrics said "We are strangers. We are aliens.
We are not of this world." And I remember busting out in tears.


I remember thinking how different our lives were. Thinking how do people live this way?
This isn't normal. At least to me it wasn't. This isn't happy.
And that week, I was praying  "Lord, give me a heart of compassion. I want to see people the way you see them. I want to hurt for them. I want to love them the way you do."
That moment was the beginning of who I am today, why I blog the way I do.
When I see people that are bound with depression or addictions, when I see their families hurting as a result, when I see people shoving God out of their life, sometimes purposely, sometimes not even realizing it, my heart aches for them. Because I know it will only end up in confusion
or heartache for them.
My heart aches for God as he must want so badly to help them.
I truly believe that moment was a defining moment for my life. Why I think and talk
and act the way I do today. That moment had an eternal impact on my life and will forever
move me to love people, tell them the truth that can only set them free.
Sometimes, people don't want to know the truth. I know there have been times where I didn't,
but truth & hope in God is the very literally the only thing that can help humanity.


That summer forever changed me to want to see people through God's eyes.
After seeing how excited the Albanian people were to have the opportunity to serve God and tell others about Jesus, how could I just sit by having all the freedom in the world to do so, and let my world, the people I came in contact with, how could I let everyone just hurt and be lost in confusion without hope when I know the truth? 
Up until I started my blog,  I never realized the impact even just having compassion on other people's stories and sharing my own story could have on people.
And I am forever grateful that I can share my ups and downs, trials and errors, and still be able to glorify God and direct people to Jesus in all that I do and say!

This is a big part of why I started this Suburbia to the Streets project. It's close to home.
It's both near, yet far...feeling the hopelessness of these women, and young girls.
Bound by addiction. It's not a story far away. It's a story I have heard many times over as
I grew up. People needing love. And if we don't see them with the eyes of compassion,
we can very easily overlook the heartache of other people, because to us, it's just a story.
But to others, it's a reality.
I only have 7 more days left. I've raised enough to help 2 women off the streets, which was my original goal...But with my remaining last few days, I want to help one more.
Will you help me, help one more? Please? If you can give even $5, please click below.



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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How I Wear Floral









What do you guys think of this whole floral gig? I'm not totally convinced of it yet.
I bought the top the other day at platos closet. The were having a "stuff your bag" sale on
all their clearance items...So they give you like and 8x10 sized bag (or something close to 
it) and you can stuff as much in there as possible for $10. I stuffed 10 shirts in there..
Hahahahaha! Can you believe it? SO I got the top, thinking, hmmmm it's not totally me.
Might be  little bit too "little house on the prairie" for me, but I'm adventurous and don't mind 
trying new things now and then...
I'm really glad  Leila is always around to help make my photoshoots so much more playful and 
graceful. Otherwise I have like 3 poses and there is nothing fun about that. I'm starting to get
really bummed at how big she is getting.. Haha! I'm serious. One more year and she will be in 
school and she is my first child that has been with me 24/7 since she was born. My other 2 kids 
I worked and they were in daycare when they were younger.
So, Leila is really super attached to me. And I am to her as well. In case you can't tell.
Sigh...Tears...
Also, I really love her even more because she had her boots on the wrong feet the whole photoshoot!

Linked up at COPY CAT CLOSET & WHAT I WORE WEDNESDAY

Have you guys heard the news??? I made my goal for my Suburbia to the Streets project. 
We have officially helped 2 Ethiopian women into a life OFF the streets and into rehabiliation.
But since I still have 9 more days of the month left... WE together (yes, WE) are going to 
raise enough money to help ONE MORE! Happy Tears!!!
Donate Below!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy Tears Today...

You guys, this morning I am a happy girl.
You know that feeling when you are crying, and you are broken hearted or devastated
at the pain another individual caused in your life. I know that feeling all too well
~yeah, not that.
This is an emotion almost exactly the opposite. These are tears because of the joy
that people have brought int o my life, because of the good of humanity,
the good of friends and the good of people I barely know and of people I have never
even met...
If you have a few minutes, I need you to hear this...
Exciting news!!  I just recorded it this morning..



The majority of my support and cheerleading has been through people I have never met,
or only have met online, have only met once or twice in real life, some who I have never
met at all, and people I haven't seen in 15-20 years. I've had complete strangers walk up to me and hand me cash when they heard about what I was doing
That is both awesome and crazy...the good of people that connect with you...


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Monday, February 18, 2013

My Favorite Accessory That I Own (It's more than JUST an accessory.)


I can hardly believe I am doing a post on accessories. I'm not the expert on fashion
or accessories by any means. But of course, I'm a girl. I love fashion.
What I can tell you is that I own probably close to 15 scarves, but none of them, but one, have 
sentimental value to me.
Scarves are in right now, right? But there is something special about this one.
It was made by a very special woman in Ethiopia. A woman who needed a better life.
But had no way to find it. Until people like you came along. People like me.


This is a woman who was grew up in a country where 1 out of 10 women involve themselves 
in prostitution not necessarily as a choice, but as a necessity. To care for their children, to provide 
basic necessities for themselves. That breaks my heart.
My scarf was named after a beautiful woman named Saba. She grew up working in a bar,
and she didn't think she could  escape or change her life. Saba was using drugs and admits
to hurting herself with the way she was living...Until one day, she was given a new opportunity.
An opportunity that would change her life...her destiny...


You see, this scarf is not just a scarf to me. This scarf holds a special place in my heart.
But more importantly it holds a special place in the  heart of an Ethiopian woman whose life has been changed by Mocha Club. One woman that needed a new opportunity in life.
It's just a part of what the Mocha Club does to help restore women stuck in the sex trade industry.
 Mocha Club teaches them a trade in which they can earn money and feel pride in their work 
and take care of their families, without putting themselvesin any danger, hurting themselves 
and leaving their children alone. 

This scarf that I wear (and I wear it a lot), I purchased from fashionABLE.
Making fashionABLE scarves is just one of the trades taught to these women. When you connect
the dots between Ethiopia and the West where they are sold, you continue creating new
opportunities for them.


I'm just as girly as any other girl. I love my shopping (in the rare occasion that I have a few
extra dollars, thank you income tax returns). I love my nail polish. My jewelry. My occasional chick flick. Obviously, none of us thrive on girly things. But sometimes we feel like it's a necessity.
But some things mean more to me. Some accessories mean more to me. Now that I said
that, I realize how weird that sounds, but it's true. This scarf means more to me than 
anything I own. Because it means the life of another girly girl. Another girl who wants
to feel pretty and be happy and take care of herself without feeling scared or sad or alone.

Saba means more. All those women mean more. 
This is definitely my favorite accessory. My super awesome, rockin eggplant scarf.
And because of the woman of made it and women like her, I have been working hard during the month of February to not only purchase this scarf (which I did last October at Influence Conference)
 but working hard trying to raise money to help get two women just like her out of the life of prostitution...give her a new opportunity to learn a new trade she can be proud of, give her childcare for her children if she needs it so she can work, send her through an addiction recovery program, 
give her counseling, Bible study, and health care & treatment.


Saba...making scarves...

 
It takes $400 to help one woman go through this program. My goal was to help TWO women.
So I needed $800 to do this. I said NEEDED! So far, with all your generosity and sharing my project to your friends...I am only $97 away from my goal (with another $50 promised this week). 
And I am thrilled beyond words!!! SO that means I am $47 away from my goal!
I am not there yet, and I only have until the end of February. But if I make it over $800 before then,
I won't quit early. No, we are going to go as far as we can...maybe even help three women.
I would be so stoked.

I already promised that if I reach my goal, I would face my fear and join an organization in my city that works with girls and women stuck in the sex trade industry in my city. But I have decided to add another bonus on...
(and my husband doesn't know about this yet). Have you seen the crazy Harlem Shake videos on
youtube that have gone viral? If not, you need to go on youtube and look!

Yeah... me and my family will make one. For our celebration dance! 
This should be interesting...
Just click the donate button below to help me reach my goal and help more women
like Saba...

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Fridays Letters (Desperate Housewives, Valentines & Oklahoma)





Dear Friday. I am so glad you are here. Mainly because you are not Thursday or Wednesday
and I no longer feel spending my time in the bathroom all day long.

Dear Valentines Day. We usually don't get a whole lot out of you. Especially NOT on the actual Valentines Day. It's usually a few days off. This year proved no different. Basically, You suck.

Dear Honey. I'm sorry I didn't come out of my ...er...our bedroom for 2 days. Blech.

Dear Desperate Housewives. Thank you for providing me with hours of senseless entertainment
for days on end.

Dear Netflix. You provide a whole different kind of addict.

Dear Anberlin. I forgot how much I love you. I do. I recommitt myself to you.

Dear old school pictures of me looking like a native american country music rock star. Thank you for providing me with quality photos when I've had no time and energy to take anything new lately.

Dear Florida. You are less than a month away. Woo Hoo!

Dear Oklahoma. SO are you. Yippee!

Dear supporters of my Suburbia to the Streets project. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You...
I am at $455 raised (with another $50 promised next week) That means I only have $295 
left to reach my goal! 14 days left. If you promised me your support, please...dont forget??
OK? Pretty please? Love you all!

Dear Readers and Friends. Your support, friendship and thoughtful words means more than
you know to me. Some days when I feel crummy or low, they keep me going.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentines Link Up: How Well Does Your Spouse Know You?


Ever wonder if your spouse really knows you?!    Like even the simplest questions? 
Well now is the time to find out!


How long have you been married?
Julie: It was 16 years this past November
Jeff: 16 years

Where was your first date?
Julie: Our first date was TGIFridays. Romantic right?
Jeff: TGI Fridays in a snow storm
(I told him I forgot about the snow storm. He said he doesn't expect a woman to remember
details like that.)

 Where was your first kiss?
Julie:  Jeffs living room. He probably claimed I said "I know I just had Taco Bell, but"... psssshhh
Jeff:  At her parents house, in my jeep after Taco Bell
(I knew it!)

 
Who first said, "I love you"?
Julie: Me. Pretty sure we were at Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall about 2-3 weeks into dating and I said "I think I love you" or "I think I'm in love with you." Something like that.
Jeff: Julie

What were your wedding colors? 
Julie: Burgandy girls dresses. Pretty sure the guys just had black on black.
Jeff: Red

What is her most commonly used phrase? 
Julie:  "Stop being gross." "Why are you like a jr high boy?"
Jeff: Gimme some suga.
(really Jeff? really? It didnt say what do you WISH she would say?)



Who is her celebrity crush? 
Julie: Hmmmm...Brad Pitt, Jim Caveziel,  Ryan Gosling...and Zooey Deschanel haha.
Jeff: Brad Pitt

If she was ordering drinks for both of you what would you each get? 
Julie: Sprite for him. Pepsi for me.
Jeff: Pepsi for her, Sprite/Sierra Mist for me

What is the best meal she has ever cooked you? 
Julie: I don't really cook, but he likes what we call "kielbasa"...which is really just potatoes and
 polska kielbasa cut and fried on top the stove with onions in it.
Jeff: Kabasa



What is the worst meal she has ever cooked you? 
Julie: The one where I start crying and threw the mashed potatoes away because they sucked.
Jeff: Noodles with sauce/ no meat
(Hahaha. Yeah, that's gross. Not my fault if we don't have any money.)

What is the most-played song on her iPod? 
Julie: Hmmmm...a song from Anberlins acoustic album
Jeff: The 16 Candles Soundtrack
(I don't even own the 16 candles soundtrack, but whatevs...)


What would she say is your most annoying habit? 
Julie: The way he dances so ugly to gross me out. The things he says that are slightly perverted
and childish...the hat he never takes off his head?
Jeff: She would lie and say I act like a preteen boy.
(You can even ask my IRL friends. He does it in front of them.)


What is the last thing she does before she goes to bed? 
Julie: I watch Friends
Jeff: Watches Friends

If you could throw out one item of her clothing what would it be? 
Julie: Maybe my hot pink tights?
Jeff: Her clothes are all very nice.

What would you say is your favorite thing about her? 
Julie: I have no idea. He never tells me...haha. Maybe he likes that I care about people...
and my hair?
Jeff: She's very caring.



What's her go-to drink at Starbucks? 
Julie: Java Chip or Caramel Frappucino
Jeff: Caramel Frapp or Mocha Frapp
What's her blog name?
Julie: From Awkward To Art
 Jeff: From Awkward To Art


HOST:
COHOSTS:
Here are the instructions:
  1. Fill out the Valentines Day Questions. You can find them here.
  2. Hand over the same set of questions to your spouse and see if they can answer the questions about you. 
  3. Write your post and compare both of your answers
  4. Link up your blog post below! 
 LINK UP HERE for VALENTINE'S Bloglovin Hop!
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