What’s in Your Bucket?-Giveaway

My kid’s elementary school has a theme this year.

They have deemed themselves a “Bucket-Filling School.”  
Basically, everyone has an invisible bucket.  Our buckets are filled with words and actions.
It makes people happy to have their bucket filled with good things, like compliments, happy thoughts and kindness.
But if you are unkind in your actions or words, you are a bucket-dipper.  Bucket dippers aren’t exactly celebrated.
Don’t you just love this?  The kids will be rewarded all year for filling buckets.
And every once in awhile from the playroom at home, I hear, “You just filled my bucket, thanks!” or “That hurt my feelings, you bucket-dipper!” 
I love this biblical concept. And, I love the way it’s impacted our home.
It’s a darling children’s book.
But let’s be honest, it’s not just for kids.  
Yes, there have been times I have been a bucket-dipper in the way I’ve spoken to my hubby or criticized my kids.  Or gossiped about a neighbor.
And, I’ve met some pretty nasty bucket dippers in my day.
Even in the blog world.  
Not you, though.  You are a bucket filler.  Yes, I’m talking to you.  My bucket is about to burst with all the sweet things you’ve said lately.
Be a bucket filler.  
Resist the urge to knit-pick your kids.  And talk about your friend’s friend.  Don’t belittle your family or refuse to tip the overworked waitress at dinner.  And use your blog to impact the world in a positive way.
Everyone has a bucket. What are you filling it with?
Leave a comment and tell me who has recently filled your bucket. The author is generously giving away 12 autographed copies to 12 of my readers!  I’ll choose some random winners tonight (Wednesday) by 10 pm (CST) I know you want a copy for you your kids! Value $10 each.
So, bucket-filling works for me, my family and my kid’s school!  Check out other tips at Works for Me Wednesday!
And please visit, The Bucket Fillers they hold amazing seminars and presentations!
If you are a teacher, a PTA member or just an involved parent, I think you mighte be interested in learning more.  Here is an excerpt from their website:
The Bucket Fillers travel across the U.S. to present at schools, churches, and parent, community and business groups. In two years, we have read and discussed our books in more than 700 presentations to encourage and empower more than 70,000 children to be daily bucketfillers. We have also inspired thousands of teachers to create bucketfilling classrooms and schools. Read more

Getting to Know The Persecuted Church Part 3

Once again, the blog community has surprised me. Blessed me. Left me feeling overwhelmed, but not alone.

Never alone.

I didn’t know I would meet a family of refugees (Part I) from The Persecuted Church at the local swimming pool. I never planned to eat dinner with them and listen to their amazing story of survival (Part 2). Part 4 is here.

Thank you. Thank you for your comments, your emails, your suggestions, your invitations to have this family come speak at your church and mostly, your prayers for them. They are not in vain.

A few days ago, Igor and Katerina called and invited us to their home. They wanted to serve us Russian food and fellowship more.

You cannot imagine my excitement as I put away the spaghetti noodles.

I told my kids what we were going to do and explained that they had to like the food, or at least pretend to like it. I knew this couple would give us their best and I wanted our response to be great.

Only one word describes the look on their faces as they greeted us at the door of their modest, rented home: pride.

“Look what God has given us. He has blessed us with this and this…” Igor said as he pointed out the sofa, dining table in their simple, beautiful home.

We arranged ourselves around the table and joined hands to pray. The food on the table was colorful and it smelled wonderful. Igor explained that the main dish, called Plov, was a meal only served for celebrations. Tradition states that only the men of Uzbekistan are allowed to prepare the delicious meal of rice and meat. (I knew Katerina had been cooking all day, but so had Igor. They were giving us their best and I felt very unworthy).
It was delicious and my kids ate every bite! There was also a cucumber-tomato salad that was incredible and it was accompanied by an eggplant appetizer. Just between us, I could have seriously devoured the whole eggplant dish, because yummy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Katerina was kind enough to translate and share these recipes:

1 eggplant
2-3 tomato
1-2 pieces of garlic
>2-3 tbl. spoon of mayonnaise
some green onion
loaf of french bread

Slice eggplant like a wheel. Sprinkle salt and fry in oil in frying pan. Lay eggplant out on paper towel.
In small bowl put mayonnaise, add pressed garlic, add some black pepper. Mix everything.
Put sauce on eggplant, then put tomatoes on top of eggplants. Sprinkle salt and green onion. And place on piece of bread.


3 tomatoes
1 cucumber
green onion
green cilantro
span class="Apple-style-span" style="color: rgb(102, 51, 0);">olive oil
black pepper,salt
lotus flower (asian section of grocery store) I think this is the secret that makes it taste so good!

Cut tomatoes and cucumber in salad bowl. Then small chop green onion and cilantr o. Add olive oil, black pepper, salt and lotus flower. Mix all ingredients.

The Strawberry Shortcake I brought paled in comparison to the ‘Nest of Birds’ cookies Katerina brought to the table, served with Russian hot tea. And my kids, yeah, it was embarrassing how many cookies they ate. In her broken English, she explained how to make these incredible cookies, but she lost me after the 14th step which involved thinly rolling the dough. Ya’ll know cooking is not my gift. an>

After dinner, we sat around and talked. We learned more of their story and about their current ministry to the former Soviet Union and how they use the avenue of sports to reach people for Christ. If you can read Russian, you will enjoy their website, if not, you will think that it is pretty, like me.

I’m still very deep.

Before we left, my hubby asked if they had any immediate needs. I know this was hard for them to answer. They feel so blessed by what God has done for them. “We have everything we need,” they replied.

My hubby pressed further.
“Well. We could use another pair of shoes. We have only sports shoes,” Igor said as he pointed to his tennis shoes.

And Katerina, hesitated and said something to her husband in Russian, “Katerina, would love to have curtains some day, but it is not a priority,” he said has he pointed to the uncovered window.

I looked around at their modest dwelling. I couldn’t help but notice a 5 gallon bucket serving as their trash can and that they shared one English Bible between them. Their 4 and 2 year olds were happy with their small collection of toys and they considered one pair of shoes, enough.

And they felt rich, like kings.

And thinking of the hours I had spent decorating my own home and my closet full of shoes, I felt like a pauper.

So, yes they have needs, but I don’t think they are huge priorities for them. They have raised 17% of their budget for next year. And while I would be freaking out with worry, Igor shook his head and said, “We don’t worry about that. We just do exactly what God wants us to do. Look at the miracles He has provided all ready.”

I asked Igor to prepare a list of needs that we as a blogging community could meet and I hope to share them with you soon.

In the meantime, I opened a Paypal account for them. If you would like to donate $1 or $100, please let God lead you. If you or your church would like to support this beautiful family every month, please email me directly and I will give you more information.

100% of the donations will go directly to this family!

I found out that today is Katerina’s birthday. I can’t wait to take her shopping for new curtains!
*Update* Thank you for the donations today: $117.00!  The amount you donated will appear to be ‘unclaimed’ until the account is verified which I’m told takes about a week.

The Entertainer’s Secret

I will never forget the day I met my hubby.  I was 18 years old and it was my first day of college. He was two years older- cute, tanned, popular and a social butterfly.

Those things were appealing, but there was one very unique thing about him:  his voice.
I was immediately attracted to his raspy, rugged, scratchy melody.
We spent the next 4 years as best friends and then went our separate ways into the real world. But in the end, it was that delicious voice recorded on my answering machine that got me.  He said something simple like, “Hey, why don’t you come see me.”  And that is pretty much all it took to get me to fly several hundred miles and marry him three months later.
I didn’t exactly play hard-to-get.
My hubby works in the medical field and everyday someone asks him about his voice: a)Are you sick? b)Do you have a cold? c)Have you ever been checked for nodes? d) Can I scope your vocal chords?  
Well. Here are the answers a)no b)no c)yes d)sure, because my gag reflex is awesome
The other day my hubby returned to his Ear, Nose and Throat doctor because not only was he blessed with a raspy voice, he was also gifted with sleep apnea.
He is one lucky duck.  
It’s been two years since he’s been sleep-tested (sleep-testing is where they hook you up to machines and record how many times a night you stop breathing. Exciting stuff.  The first time my hubby did this, the Respiratory Therapist who dropped off the sleep apnea machine explained that my hubby had 60 arousal’s in a 1 hour period. And you would think I would know that there is more than one definition of that word (in context it was referring to how many times he stopped breathing.  I am still blushing about what I asked.)
I digress.
The ENT said, “Yes, let’s order another sleep test, but let’s spend some time talking about your voice.”
And so they did.  For a very long time.
When my hubby came home, he told me all the many and various theories and explanations and blah blah blah the doctor came up with.
Then my hubby dropped this bomb, “I’d really like my voice to be normal.”
And he pulled this from his pocket:  Entertainer's Secret Throat Relief
The Entertainer’s Secret, throat relief spray. But it’s our secret and that of many entertainer’s, apparently.
My 8 year old was eavesdropping on this conversation and burst into the room, “No, Daddy, I love your voice.  You can’t do that! I think we need to have a family meeting about this!”
And I did what all good wives would do, I agreed with my daughter.
Because y’all, I love that voice.

Just a Pleasant Reminder from Your Friendly Blogger…

Don’t forget that the Sizzling Summer Vacation Spectacle is THIS Friday!  There will be more than $600 in door prizes! Yes, you read that right!  

You are only eligible if you link up your vacation story, so get busy!  I will be throwing up Mr. Linky Thursday night at exactly 10 pm (CST) because I just realized that this weekend is Labor Day weekend. I will start announcing door prizes all day long on Friday!
You can link to an older post or write a new one…just as long as it’s about a vacation/or a fun summer day!