WFMW: Teacher Appreciation

Every school year is different…some are awesome, others are challenging. I’m beyond thankful that this year has been wonderful. All 3 of my kids started new schools and it’s been an amazing year.

I blame it entirely on the teachers. My kids love their teachers and the teachers love my kids. My older kids speak so highly of their teachers in our home. If you’re a teacher, please read this.

Next week is Teacher Appreciation. Here are some fun, affordable printable ideas to make a teacher in your life smile:

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Saying thank you works for me!

This is What God Does with the Broken Pieces of our Story

He turns it into something for His glory.

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My life is a beautiful mess, mixed with muddy and majestic moments. This is my story, filled with failure and fortune and a lot of faith. It is the ultimate story of realization and restoration and the miraculous God-work of creating something beautiful from broken pieces.

This is a book for imperfect people who aren’t called to greatness, but rather, to smallness. This book is testimony to how He steps into our ordinary, often self-absorbed world and transforms small, day-to-day choices into something God-sized.

This book is about how God shattered my clean, comfortable Christian life on an unexpected journey when He used the abundant joy of the poor to rescue me from the poverty in my soul.

This book will encourage readers to make their lives about Jesus and say yes right where they are.

I’m writing a new book!

Coming 2014

Ultimate Ebook Bundle @ Amazing Price

For 6 days only, more than 75 widely-known bloggers and authors in the homemaking sphere have joined together to offer 97 of their most popular eBooks and eCourses, valued at just over $600, for the incredibly low price of $29.97!

More than anything, our goal for this sale was for it to be, well… ultimate! We firmly believe that you will not find a more comprehensive collection of homemaking resources anywhere on the web, and particularly not in this price range. For this low price, you gain access to every single one of these resources, so that you can customize your own collection to contain exactly the ones you want and know you’ll use.

This library of homemaking helps include topics such as mothering, organization and cleaning, recipes and kitchen helps, home education, spiritual growth for both moms and kids, home décor and DIY, pregnancy and baby care, frugal living, health and fitness, and even work-from-home and financial tools.

To sweeten the pot, we’ve also teamed up with 10 companies to bring you over $140 in bonus offers, giving you an affordable opportunity to get products you’ll use and love for only the cost of shipping, or in some cases, entirely for free!What’s Included in the Sale?When you purchase The Ultimate Homemaking eBook collection,  you will get instant access to any of the 97 eBooks and eCourses listed below.

PLUS over $140 of FREE Bonuses

Each The Ultimate Homemaking eBook collection comes with more than $140 of FREE Bonuses from 10 companies that we know you’ll love. More on these bonuses below.

Please note: This collection is only available from 9 a.m. EST on April 29th to 11:59 p.m. EST on May 4th. There will be no late sales offered.

Home & Property {Cleaning, Organizing, Decor}

31 Days to Clean by Sarah Mae @ SarahMae.com ($4.99)
Getting it Together: Your Guide to Setting Up a Home Management System that Works by Kayse @ kayse pratt ($3.99)
Pulling Yourself Together: Implementing a Cleaning Routine that Sticks by Becky @ Clean Mama ($10.00)
Simple Living by Lorilee @ Loving Simple Living ($2.99)
NOT a DIY Diva by Melissa @ The Inspired Room ($3.99)
One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh @ Simple Mom ($5.00)
28 Days to Hope for your Home by Dana @ A Slob Comes Clean ($5.00)
Organizing Life as Mom by Jessica @ Life as Mom ($9.00)
Clean Enough: Simple Solutions for the Overwhelmed by Jenni @ Live Called ($4.99)
10 Steps to Organized Paper by Lisa @ Lisa Woodruff.net($5.00)
Handmade Walls by Jamin and Ashley @ the handmade home ($9.95)
Easy Peasy Chores: An Easy-to-Use Chore System That Brings JOY Back Into Family Chores by Alina Joy @ The Good Old Days Farm ($17.99)

Educational Children’s Resources

Princess Training by Richele @ Under the Golden Apple Tree ($3.99)
The Armor of God by Richele @ Under the Golden Apple Tree ($2.50)
My Bedtime Learning Book by Richele @ Under the Golden Apple Tree ($1.00)
Think Outside the Classroom by Kelly @ Generation Cedar ($6.97)
Raising Rock Stars — Kindergarten Bundle by Carissa @ 1plus1plus1equals1 ($10.00)
The ABC’s For Godly Boys Curriculum by Lindsey @ Road to 31 ($8.00)
The ABC’s For Godly Girls Curriculum by Lindsey @ Road to 31 ($8.00)
K4 Curriculum by Erica @ Confessions of a Homeschooler ($15.00)
Write Through the Bible (print) by Trisha @ Intoxicated on Life ($5.00)
Write Through the Bible (cursive) by Trisha @ Intoxicated on Life ($5.00)
Balcony Girls (books 1 & 2) by Sandy @ Reluctant Entertainer ($19.90)
The Dig for Kids: Luke (Volumes 1 and 2) by Patrick, husband of Ruth @ The Better Mom ($5.98)
Music: An Essential Ingredient for Life by Ryan @ Resound School of Music ($6.99)

Budgeting {Finance & Time}

From Debtor to Better by Barry @ From Debtor to Better ($10.00)
Tell Your Time by Amy @ Blogging with Amy ($2.99)
The Homemakers Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule by Amy @ Raising Arrows ($4.99)
Your Grocery Budget Toolbox by Anne @ Authentic Simplicity ($7.99)
Finding Financial Freedom by Kelly @ Generation Cedar ($5.97)
Become a Frugalista in 30 Days by Susan @ The Confident Mom ($3.99)

In the Kitchen {Recipes and Cooking}

Crock On by Stacy @ Stacy Makes Cents ($5.00)
Real Food, Real Easy by various bloggers @ The Humbled Homemaker ($9.95)
Wholesome Mixes by Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage ($4.00)
20-Minute Meals by Leigh Ann @ Intentional by Grace ($4.99)
Restocking the Pantry by Kresha @ Nourishing Joy ($9.99)
Money Saving Mom’s Guide to Freezer Cooking by Crystal @ Money Saving Mom ($3.99)
Simply Summer by Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama ($7.95)
Do the Funky Kitchen by Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers ($4.95)
Real Food Kids: In the Kitchen plus 1 month access to select Real Food Kids eCourse videos by Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS and Jami @ Eat Nourishing ($20.00)
Seasonal Menu Plans on a Budget: A Month of Meals from My Humble Kitchen to Yours by Diana @ My Humble Kitchen ($4.99)
Just Making Ice Cream by Marillyn @ Just Making Noise ($12.00)
The Curative Kitchen by Susan @ Handy Pantry ($20.00)

Pregnancy & Baby Care

First Bites by Hilary @ Accidentally Green ($9.99)
Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert by Erin @ The Humbled Homemaker ($9.95)
Stress-Free Baby Shower by Sara @ Your Thriving Family ($4.00)
Unbound Birth by Jenny @ The Southern Institute ($4.99)
My Pregnancy Journey by Mindy @ Simply Designs ($9.99)
My Buttered Life Baby Edition by Renee @ Made On Hard Lotion ($5.00)
The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year by Rachel @ The Minimalist Mom ($5.00)
Redeeming Childbirth: Growth & Study Guide by Angie @ Redeeming Childbirth ($3.99)

Holidays & Special Events

Festive Traditions by Jill @ Modern Alternative Kitchen ($7.95)
Holiday Mixes: Gifts in a Jar by Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage ($4.00)
Flourishing Spring by Michele @ Frugal Granola ($5.95)
Family Camping Handbook by Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship ($6.95)
Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda @ Oh, Amanda! ($7.99)
Plan a Fabulous Party by Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect ($4.99)
iPhone Photography: The Visual Guide by Alli @ Alli Worthington($9.97)

Spiritual Growth

Pursuit of the Proverbs 31 by Amy @ Amy Bayliss ($3.99)
The Best of Visionary Womanhood by Natalie @ Visionary Womanhood ($5.00)
God’s Word in my Heart: A Scripture Memory Learning Guide with Verses {all 4 versions} by Jenn @ The Purposeful Mom ($3.99)
Kept: a 13-Week Inductive Study on 1 Peter by Lara and Katie @ Quench Bible ($4.99)
Love Like Him: an 8 week Inductive Bible study on 1 Corinthians 13 by Lara and Katie @ Quench Bible ($4.99)

Marriage & Romance

Rekindling Romance by Jason & Jami @ A Biblical Marriage ($4.99)
Good Wife’s Guide by Darlene @ Time-Warp Wife ($2.99)
31 Days to Build a Better Spouse by Ashley @ Ashley Pichea ($4.99)
31 Days to Great Sex by Sheila @ To Love, Honor and Vacuum ($4.99)
Entangled: Recognize Your Emotional Affair by Amy @ Amy J. Bennett ($4.99)

Motherhood

The Heart of Simplicity by various authors @ The Heart of Simplicity ($9.99)
True Christian Motherhood by June @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home ($7.00)
Hula Hoop Girl by September @ One September Day ($4.99)
When Motherhood Feels Too Hard by Kelly @ Generation Cedar ($4.97)
Mindset for Moms by Jamie @ Steady Days ($4.99)
From Cube to Farm by Heather @ From Cube to Farm ($2.99)
4 Moms of 35+ Kids Answer Your Parenting Questions by various authors @ 4 Moms, 35+ Kids Parenting E-book ($7.99)
That Works for Me! by Kristen @ We are THAT Family ($8.00)

Health & Fitness

100-pound Loser by Jessica @ Muthering Heights ($4.99)
Honoring the Rhythm of Rest by Danielle @ Domestic Serenity ($2.99)
42 Days to Fit by Brandy, Emma and Stacy @ The Marathon Mom ($4.99)
Healthy Homemaking by Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home ($12.95)
Personal ePlanner by Jennifer @ ListPlanIt ($5.00)

Beauty

Frumps to Pumps by Sarah Mae @ SaraMae.com ($4.99)
The Cottage Mama’s DIY Guide by Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage ($4.00)
Simple Scrubs to Make and Give by Stacy @ A Delightful Home ($3.99)
The No Brainer Wardrobe by Hayley @ The No Brainer Wardrobe ($7.99)
Embracing Beauty by Trina @ Trina Holden ($9.00)
Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose by Kristen @ The Frugal Girl ($3.99)

Working from Home & Blogging

Your Blogging Business: Tax, Talk and Tips by Nikki @ Christian Mommy Blogger ($4.99)
The Bootstrap VA by Lisa @ The Home Life {and Me} ($12.99)
How to Grow Your Blog and Manage Your Home by Jacinda @ Growing Home ($4.99)
How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too by Mandi @ Life Your Way ($12.00)
Simple Blogging: Less Computer Time, Better Blogging by Rachel @ Small Notebook ($8.00)

Ecourses

Learning in Love: The Preschool Years by Renee @ Tougas Cafe ($7.99)
Homeschooling from the Heart by Renee @ Tougas Cafe ($7.99)
Grocery University by Carrie @ Colorado Bargains ($24.95)
Vibrant Living Strategies for Moms by Lisa @ Well-Grounded Life ($59)
You Can Do This! The First Five Steps to a Real Food Kitchen by Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers ($5.00)

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PLUS, You will receive FREE Bonuses from these companies…

A FREE Two-Month Membership to Fit2B Studio, where their wholesome workouts for the whole family are tummy safe and particularly target Diastasis Recti (split abs). ($19.98 value. No shipping restrictions.)

A $15 store credit to TruKid. With products like their aware-winning sun care, they are dedicated to providing all natural skin and hair care for kids, babies, and now pets. ($15.00 value. Standard shipping applies. International shipping available.)

Your choice of incredible natural products like sea salt and clay for FREE. Choose from the Redmond Trading Earthpaste Bundle ($24.90 value) or the Facial Mud Bundle ($26.90 value). (Standard shipping applies. Continental US only.)

Your choice of a FREE heirloom sourdough starter or FREE yogurt starter from Cultures for Health, the leading supplier of starter cultures and supplies for making cultured and fermented foods ($12.95 value. US & CAN addresses only. Standard shipping applies.)

Your choice of: a FREE 3-Month Subscription (for new accounts) or 30% off a One Year Subscription. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them. ($15.00 value. No shipping restrictions.)

A FREE Culinary Herbs Assorted Seed Pack Check just in time for spring planting from www.wheatgrasskits.com, a living whole foods company. ($11.95 value. Standard shipping applies to all US states and territories- no international shipping for seeds.)

A $10 store credit to Union28, plus 20% off any regular price items. Their marriage apparel lets you celebrate your spouse in style. ($10.00 value. Standard shipping rates apply. International shipping available, but free shipping only available within USA.)

A $10 store credit plus 1 FREE lip balm from Bee All Natural. Their whole body products nourish and heal, and are made using only the highest quality, food grade, organic ingredients. ($13.49 value. Standard shipping applies. International shipping available.)

A FREE 2 oz. bottle of your choice of liquid herbal formula from TriLight Health. They specialize in fast acting, great tasting natural herbal remedies. ($12.95 value or more. Standard shipping applies, within the USA only.)

Your choice of 3 FREE ePlanners OR a 3-Month FREE Membership to ListPlanIt, whose mobile lists will help to organize your life. ($15.00 value. No shipping restrictions.)

The fine print:

Bonus Offers

  • Each bonus offer can be redeemed once only per eBook Bundle purchase.
  • For each bonus offer, transaction numbers or proof of purchase may be required at the time of redemption.
  • All bonus offers are free gifts from the bonus sponsors, are their sole responsibility to provide, and are subject to availability.
  • All bonus offers expire at midnight on May 25th, 2013 (3 weeks from the last day of this sale).

General

  • It is your responsibility to download and back-up your purchase within the 1-month download time-frame. With proof of purchase, we can renew download links up until August 1st, 2013. After this date we will no longer have access to the books and will not be able to provide any new links to download.
  • Due to the nature of this sale, there will be no refunds available. However, we would invite you to read our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about the file types, the download process, how the bonus offers work, etc.
Please note: This collection is only available from 9 a.m. EST on April 29th to 11:59 p.m. EST on May 4th. There will be no late sales offered, so make sure that you get your bundle right away!

Particularly for those wanting to read these ebooks on their mobile devices (iPhones or iPads, Android, Kindle, etc.) you will want to learn more about the file types, how to download them correctly, and how to transfer them to your device.

This post includes affiliate links, and I make a portion of the sale of each ebook bundle. Thanks for your support of this site!

Floyin Hosurs Couldn’t Drag Me Away

She hands me her stapled construction paper book, “I wrote this for you while you were in Africa.”

I pull her into my lap and breathe in soap and cheerios. I tickle and she throws back her head so I can reach the tender spot under her neck. I’m not always good at pausing and capturing these little moments. But sometimes I am.

Scrawled across the top in big red crayon letters it reads, “My Floyin Hosur.” It’s a book about a flying horse, she explains and then reads it to me, carefully turning pages and pointing out pieces of the story.

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I can see baskets of unfolded clothes in the laundry room from this spot in the kitchen and piles of papers on the counter. Dinner is still a big question mark and my to do list is on it’s second page. But there’s not another place in the world I’d rather be.

Because sometimes you have to leave and return to realize what you missed and where you belong.

My son jokes, “I sure could use one of those hosurs right now.” I threaten a scowl and he smiles, patting his sister’s head until she is proud of her work again. My oldest rummages through the snack basket, catching my eye, then asking the little author to read to her next.

We munch on tacos for dinner and read a chapter from Wild Grace. My kids each do hilarious impersonations of Sweet Georgia Brown and I giggle until I have a sharp pain in my side. They play Knockout with their Dad in our driveway, while I sit in the grass and watch my youngest try out her garage sale roller skates. We end the night with a walk around the block, spontaneously holding hands and touching.

It’s a peaceful night of love and laughter, sometimes a rarity in my rambunctious, hormonal offspring and crazy-busy world. Sometimes I’m not good at acknowledging it. Sometimes I am.

I have the opportunity to write, travel and speak throughout the country. I have the priviledge of encouraging mothers here and supporting mothers in Kenya, and sometimes it may seem glamorous or extraordinary. But mostly it’s hard, uncomfortable work for me.

I don’t know how to lead a non-profit, raise a million dollars or write a 3 year plan, but I know how to nourish a baby with my body, kiss a scraped knee, fit my child in the curve of my arm, read a dirty look or touch the heart of my wounded child.

Motherhood is my job.I am paid in love notes and a quiet thank you over a puke bowl. The hours are long and the work is risky, but it is a high calling. Some days it’s harder than all my  previous jobs lumped together…

But there’s nothing like coming home.

Not even floyin hosurs could drag me away.

WFMW: Stitch Fix

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Most days, I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I work from home and my day is sandwiched between school pickups. I don’t own workout or glamour clothes. Exciting, no?

I used to enjoy shopping, but I’ve gotten so busy that I just don’t have time any more. I buy my clothes, kids clothes, gifts, and everything else I can, online these days.

Which works about half the time for me. I’m petite at 5’2 and jeans, pants, skirts are usually a problem (so I have a lot of shirts and very few pants). When I heard about Stitch Fix, I thought it might be my solution for an occasional dressy outfit.

It’s a fun site where you enter your style (the guide helps you answer a ton of questions) and what you like and a stylist sends 5 one of a kind items (free shipping) to your door every month to try and see if they will work for you.  You don’t have to leave home and you can easily return items.

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I signed up and got my first StitchFix last month. The items in my first box were a bit pricey, so after I returned them, I changed my preferences to the least expensive choices. I did love the way each item fit me perfectly. My second box came the first week of April and I am now the proud owner of a very cute top and dress for the next time I have a speaking engagement or hot date.

There’s a $20 styling fee and it’s applied to whatever you might buy in your box. And there’s always free shipping. After you sign up, you can earn $10 if someone joins. (My link is an affiliate).  You can check it out and Sign up here if it sounds like something you want to try.

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Shopping for clothes (that fit me), delivered right to my door? Works for me!



For When You Need the Son

The world changed while I was in Kenya last week.

I spent about 20 hours a day focusing closely on the work of Mercy House. I counted miracles and I asked for more. I returned to breaking news of a more broken world, my children talking about bombers and explosions. My heart splintered by a global reality and sadness in our own country.

They are different kinds of pain, but both hide the sun.

And cast shadows.

I am catching up on muddied laundry from Africa, searching the abyss for lost socks and scratching notes on random slips of paper, trying in vain to catch up. I wipe blue marker mustache from my little girl’s mouth, listen to my daughter play her new flute piece and watch my son hit the bulls eye with his bow. Dinner is in the crockpot. Stacked suitcases by the door. Unspoken sorrow mingles with the joy of home.

I am the same mom. I will never be the same.

And I’m tired.

Not just because jet lag nips at my heels and I pry my eyes wide open through carline, I’m tired of seeing so much pain in this world.

I’m exhausted from reality. And I long to unsee images of frightened runners and a burning school in a sleepy small town. I want to stop seeing the bewildered faces of teen boys high on glue and the violent, drunk father we dodged on our home visit to the slum.

My husband asked me last night if I was depressed. I shrugged my answer, a sure sign that I don’t know what to do with all this seeing. 

I had panic attacks nearly every night I was in Kenya, mostly induced by blinding fear. I huddled in bed and cried and I prayed for the Light of morning. It always came.

Some moments so glorious and divine, I longed to take off my shoes.

I look towards the Son, the blinding, bright Father who is Light.

I’ve been a mother and on this journey long enough to know there are shadows that do not lift, pain that doesn’t fade, sorrows you can’t escape. It’s not so much about unseeing or overcoming, it’s about letting His Light lead you through the dark places.

We are not alone. His Light will lead us home.

She Opens Her Hand

I’m home.

Thankful. Exhausted. Broken. Healed.

I opened up the gift (a book of letters) from our girls at Mercy House before I even unpacked, I read every one of them to my family.

I want to share one with you:

My Beloved and Lovely family,

I want to take this opportunity to greet all of you! I want to say that you are the wonderful family I have in my life. I do pray you can come back so we can be a big family again.

I want to appreciate you for the good work you’ve been doing for us. Thank you for understanding, for your love and support. I really do appreciate your good heart. I know God showed you the way so that you can help us and also change our lives from being the people we used to be, to being Christians. I really don’t know where I would be now if it weren’t for Mercy House.

I appreciate those who donate for us. Thank you for using your energy to fight for our lives and the lives of our babies. I know without God everything is impossible, but if you trust in the Lord you will succeed and the way will be opened.

Every morning I pray for you and every night while I am going to sleep because you  have welcomed me into this house as your own daughter. I thank you and God for changing my life. God bless you and keep you strong all the days of your lives!

From, Quinter (our first rescued girl, March 2011)

(below with Precious, 21 months old)

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Over the past 2 years, I’ve watched this wounded girl transform into a mother and believer. It’s been an amazing transformation. To God be the glory, great things He has done.

Mother’s Day Card:
Get this beautiful card free with every order of our fast-selling Mother’s Day jewelry at the Mercy Shop thru May 1, 2013. (We listed a few more Mother/Daughter Necklace Sets and Bracelets).

You can also order one of these gorgeous Limited Edition cards for $5 here.

The Domino Effect

When we said yes to Mercy House, so many said it with us.

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Babies with Housemom, Winfred

My husband calls it The Domino Effect.

It was like God strategically placed people in our lives, church and all over the world who would be willing to go with us on this journey of starting something from nothing.

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Skills teacher Debra seeing The Mercy Shop for the first time online

Most of what I thought would happen, didn’t. Most of the people I thought would help, haven’t. But God has provided the right people at exactly the right time. And we haven’t been alone for a minute and I’ve learned His plans are so much better than mine.

Two and a half years ago, I got an email from another mom that would cause dominoes to fall. It’s actually the reason I’m in Kenya this week.

Suzanne Box emailed me one day and said, “I live about an hour from you. I’m a photographer and I’d like to help you.”

I’m an introvert and have a busy life, so I almost didn’t drive across town to meet an online stranger at a Chick Fil A.

I’m so glad I don’t always listen to me.

Suzanne began to quietly and really anonymously fill in the gaps, volunteering her time and skill on a regular basis. Not only does she take all of our product pictures and help with design, she coordinates our Home Parties and advocates for Mercy House. Most importantly, she’s become my friend.

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She called me one day in the fall and said she’d arranged a meeting with her church and pastor (on her own), so she could tell him about Mercy House. She told him our story and he asked my husband and I to meet together.

As we sat in Pastor Jerry’s office and shared our heart for the impoverished pregnant girls in Kenya, another domino fell. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more affirming meeting and instantly liked this Pastor with a big heart and fatherly love. I cried openly when they told us they had chosen Mercy House for their 2013 Advent Conspiracy recipient, which will provide a significant offering to further our work in 2014.

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I came to Kenya this week to meet our new girls, help Maureen make a final decision on a permanent home and mostly, to meet Pastor Jerry and worship leader, John Cordes at the maternity home to shoot two days of footage for four videos during the week of Christmas 2013.

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The girls led us in a beautiful time of worship and devotion this morning and afterwards, Pastor Jerry walked up to me and said, “I’m proud of you, Kristen.”

I said, “I know I shouldn’t be proud, but look what God has done!”

With eyes full of tears, he hugged me just like a father.

It’s astounding to think of what came from an email and a willing heart.

As we wrapped up this amazing week today, we worshipped God and shared testimonies, His Presence tangible. The girls presented a very special notebook to my family, full of thank you letters from each girl. I cried when they presented it and I can’t wait to read them with my family.

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I want to urge you to say yes right where you are, step into someone’s else’s yes like Suzanne and make it your own. I’m so thankfulGod has provided so many amazing people to journey with…

You just never know where the road will take you.