Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 5 - The heart of the matter

On Thursday we once again split our team in half with half going to the brothels and the other half going to the jewelry unit. This would have been my day to go to the brothel but because of how everything played out I opted not to go so that I could return to the jewelry unit to discuss a long term project with them. Ms. Tammy and I were honored to be able to present our idea of a bracelet that they would make there in Kolkata ship here to the states so that we could in turn sell it here and then return all the profits back to them.

It was an amazing meeting with Ms. Tammy, myself, Kaitlin, and Ms. Monique. This is where I felt I was in my element, creating, presenting, getting people excited, this is what I love to do and I believe why God called me on this trip. We were able to look at all their beautiful semi precious stones and as a team picked out 9 different colors for the 9 different bracelets we would love them to make. We hope to have the "Navaratna Project" bracelets here in the states by spring. If you would like updates on this line, if you have a blog, store, or group of ladies you think would love to support this amazing cause please leave a comment and I would be happy to keep you posted.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Guest Blogger- An Afternoon in the Brothels

I am so excited to have my first guest blogger and am overjoyed that it is someone who I respect and love so much. Deb is one of the 9 of us who went on this trip and personally was one of my rocks. Deb has one of the most beautiful and loving hearts. She is also funny and sassy. I am blessed to know her and have her in my life.

As I stated in the previous post our group split up on day 4. I really wanted to share the experience that the other group had with you all as well so I asked one of those ladies if they would like to share their experience and Deb stepped write up offering her account from that day in the brothels from her personal journal. I hope you all enjoy this beautiful account from Deb's point of view.

"Today we traveled to the Red Light District where the brothels are located. Our guide for the day, Chandra, was a bold Christian who prayed for our Muslim taxi driver and gave him a brochure for the A/G Church. Pastor Noel was amazed and said it was dangerous to do that. Chandra knew many ladies in the District and introduced herself to everyone she had not met (and of course encouraged them to attend church!). She took us to the home of a “Madam” who is paid a fee for rent and for each customer every girl sees per day. The madam’s mother was 80 years old…very frail. She was a follower of Jesus and asked us to pray for her knee, which was swollen. Praying for that sweet, dear lady was an experience I will never forget. She didn’t speak English but looked into our eyes with great love and understanding of the prayers we prayed for her. She pointed to a poster of Jesus she had taped to the wall.
We met the son of the madam. He had just married a Hindi girl the week before, and is a Christian. He has attended Bible College and has a vision to start a Christian church in the Red Light District. We prayed for him and his wife and also his sisters-in-law. We sang a few worship songs and he played his guitar. We encouraged them and enjoyed their company. When entering the homes, we removed our shoes and sat on the floor or bed. This home had two rooms and a sofa so we sat on the sofa. This was considered luxurious. There is no air conditioning in any of these homes and the heat and humidity is stifling. Lots of sweating going on…
We crossed the “Holy River” on a primitive wooden boat for a small fee. There was very little water…more of a filthy stream. The smell of human waste was so strong that I had to fight not to cover my nose and mouth. There were actually children playing in the sludge and men “bathing” in it.
When we crossed over, we saw temples and shrines to the various Hindu gods. People were burning incense, bowing down and placing flowers in front of the idols. There is a huge temple named the Kali god temple. Animal sacrifices are still made here daily. The blood pours out on the ground and live goats (not for long!) wander around. Kali is the god of death and destruction—this is what Kolkata has been described as: the City of Death and Destruction.
We were introduced to a few more young prostitutes. They have beautiful smiles and they are quick to laugh. I think in my self-exalted American attitude, I believed that I would step in and see their suffering and make some grand gesture to lift them out of their “situation”. I imagined they would beg me to save them from this lifestyle. I expected weeping and sorrow. ​​James 1:9 NCV
 "Believers who are poor should be proud, because God has made them spiritually rich.
James 1:10 NCV
 "Those who are rich should be proud, because God has shown them that they are spiritually poor. The rich will die like a wild flower in the grass.
" God showed me in this moment that He loves each one of us equally and that people are really not very different, regardless of where you live. Ephesians 2:18 MSG
"He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through Him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father." We all suffer, but we all find joy in our lives. We all long for something more….we long not to be lonely or sad or afraid. In the end, God is the only “thing” that truly satisfies our deepest needs and longings. This was yet another lesson in humility: God was showing me that I am no different from my Indian sisters or anyone else in the world. This trip was not about me…
We sat crossed legged on the bed –the only furniture in the room. This, of course, is the bed where these young women earn their income. They insisted on giving us cookies and tea. They have so little but are anxious to share the little they have. They all ask how old we are, do we have children, etc. They want to know about us and want to practice their English with us. In the early afternoon they need to sleep because they are awake all night. Each girl entertains 10-25 men per night. 5-10 minutes per customer. Again, their lifestyle and way of earning a living seems so sad yet we feel their hope; their dreams for a brighter tomorrow. So we hug them, kiss them, pray for them and say goodbye. We pray that God's love touches them through our prayers, and the people God places in their lives. We pray that we will see them again one day and that they will experience the Truth of God's love and salvation through Jesus Christ."

Here is picture of gorgeous Deb (and this picture was taken in NYC, not Kolkata, lol)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Four Precious Jewels

On day 4 the group split in half with 5 of us going to work with Ms. Monique's jewelry ministry which I will call "jewels" since they make jewelry and the other 4 went with a member of the ministry to the brothels. I was in the group of 5 who went to meet with the ladies of jewels. We traveled to an area called "China town" where the jewelry studio is located within a large building which used to be a tannery. The building has many great ministries in it which includes a slum school during the day as well as the jewelry studio and a couple of other things. Below are some of the pictures of the drive through China town. When we got to the building which was HUGE and went inside, we traveled up some cement stairs and traveled down a hallway until we reached a beautiful glass door. We stepped inside onto wood floors into a very bright, beautiful, brand new modern studio space. We walked in to see Kaitlin, Ms. Monique's intern sitting on the ground with 4 Indian women. They all immediately stood up and created us with smiles and warm embraces. We all introduced ourselves and joined them on the floor where having praise and worship time. We sat in this beautiful room and listened to these women sing worship songs in the native tongue. It was an extremely moving moment because although we could not understand the words they were singing it was almost as though my souls new what they were saying. You could feel the Holy Spirit in that room and it was so strong it brought most of us to tears. I remember thinking to myself in that moment how honored I felt to be there, that God had chosen me to travel half way across the world and how similar we were to these women. We all love the same God, He created each of us in His image and I couldn't help but think how pleasing that worship session had to be to Him.

After our time of worship and devotions we were able to work with them and help teach them English. We went back and forth asking each other questions. The four women were so sweet and loving to us and were so happy we were there. We were the first American women to come work with them so they had lots of questions for us. It was a great time of fellowship just sharing our lives and stories. After that we ate lunch and then they started working on their jewelry. They were extremely focused and a lot different then the chatty ladies we had just spent time with. They were all silent and very involved in their work, it was so nice to see how serious and determined they were. It was an amazing day just getting to know these awesome women.

Monday, November 28, 2011

"The Accident" Day 3 Part 2

After our wonderful experience at the feeding program we all got in cabs to go to eat at a cafe in the "hippy" part of town. Ms. Monique told us there are a lot of Europeans who come and stay in that area and that they have some cool cafes and shops. So we all loaded into cabs and went on our way. My cab arrived there first, then the second cab arrived not to long after. We sat there for a bit waiting for the third cab which contained Noel, Tammy, Heather and Ms. Monique. We were all deciding on what to order when the burst into the cafe exclaiming "You will not believe what happened! We were in a cab accident and had to get out and run!" So basically what happened was they were in a slow collision where no one was threatened of being hurt but right after the collision happened their cab driver got out and started pounding very aggressively on the other cab's trunk and yelling. It was at that moment that one of them yelled "GET OUT!" Tammy was the first to exit the cab and when she did standing right in front of was a man. Tammy said she thought it was going to go one of two ways at the point. Thankfully the man was very kind and said to Tammy "you will be fine" and he passed her along with the other women to a man standing on the sidewalk who stood in front of the with his arm out in a protecting manner. Once they were away from the accident scene they began to see the mob form and decided it was time for them to get out of there. Although it was a scary thing to be involved in thankfully no one was hurt and we actually all laughed really hard about it. We still do :)

Preface to Day 3 - Part 2

From about the first second we arrived in India Deb kept talking about how she read in one of her books how bad the driving is which turned out to be completely true. She also told us that if a driving accident occurs anyone at the scene is at fault. She told us that a mob would form and they will pull people out of the car even if they are passengers and beat them up. This sounds crazy right? So Deb asked Noel who replied without hesitation "oh ya, that's totally true." So sweet Deb kept telling us if we get in a car accident we need to get out and run. It started to become almost a joke and we all laughed about it....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 3 - Part 1

Tuesday started with us going to the AG church. We took an amazing tour of the church, school, and hospital. We learned a lot about the church's history and the difference they have made and are continuing to make in Kolkata.

One of the things that we learned about on our tour was the feeding programs they have that take place in 8 different spots in Kolkata every day. We saw where the food is prepared and it was simply amazing to see how large the pots and burners were. One of the places that they serve food at is right across the street from the church. We were so blessed to be able to go and see how it worked. They have an amazing program where they give one member of a family a card with their name on it and how many people are in their family. Every day they come they get a day checked off. The same people work at the food stations so they develop relationships with these people, they get to know them by name. If they don't see someone for a day or two they start asking others about them to make sure everything is ok, they truly care about these people. It is also amazing to me that they give them the amount of food they need to feed their whole family. This is the only food these people will have all day. They receive rice as well as a cereal and curry so it is a well balanced and nutritional meal.

We went outside just as they were getting ready to serve lunch and they asked if we would like to help serve the food. NO words will ever be able to describe the experience I had there that afternoon. I can honestly say it was one of the most moving moments of my life. I will forever feel so honored that I was able to serve food to these beautiful people, I will forever remember their faces. I truly felt in that moment that God was using us to His literal hands, by feeding His beloved children. There were the 3 most beautiful older women who came through the line as I was serving and I laughed because they were yelling at all the young kids who were acting a little rambunctious. There was a young boy who was probably around 13 who had a huge scar from the corner of the left side of his mouth that reached all the way up to his left ear. There was also the prettiest little girl who was probably around 10, she had the biggest smile and told me "thank you" in English. She had on red earrings and I told her I liked her earring and her smile got even bigger. The thought of that day still stirs such strong emotions, I am crying as I write this. I am just so so thankful for such an amazing experience.

"Feed the hungry,and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon."
(Isaiah 58:10 NLT)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I know....

I know I have to keep going, keep telling my story and I want to... It's just that I keep going back there, seeing the faces, hearing the sounds. And it's hard to describe the love and protection you feel, for these people, for what you were able to be a part of. I want to respect all of that and to do it justice. These precious people, many of which I will never know their names, their faces are imbedded in my memory. I stay up at night thinking of them and my heart aches for them as I live in my comfortable world, a world so far from theirs. I pray continually and feverishly for them, that one day, on the other side of this life, I will see their faces again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Math Makes My Head Hurt

Another funny story I wanted to share from our trip was our experience at western union. You see I am right brained, I like to daydream, create, dance, read, and write. I do not like to do boring stuff like math and money conversion doesn't even make sense to me it literally makes my brain hurt. So, day 3 we went to western union and got a conversion rate of 1 american dollar to 48.5 rupees. Ummm 48.5? What am I supposed to do with the .5? I instantly started to panic. My head was spinning and my brain started to shut down. I eventually decided that I was going to just pretend that it is $1 to 50 rupees, and that would make it a little easier. So I handed the man my $60 and he hands be back all these rupees with 100 and 500 on them, I started to sweat. My sweet friend Heather who used to be an art teacher so our brains work the same way pulled me aside and said "does this make sense to you?" "No, I don't even know if I got the right amount back" I said. So Heather and I stood there in Western Union with our rupees and tried with our right brains to figure out a left brain problem. I think most people would have thought we were crazy and at one point Heather even said "We ARE smart, this is just not our thing." We eventually figured it out after repeating it over and over to each other. Heather had the genius idea of separating our rupees into $10 american equivalent stacks so we could quickly know about how much things were costing us. There were several other times were the two of us had to convene to figure these types of issues but luckily we had each other, the two little right brained artsy fartsies.

Here are Heather and I, should looks beautiful as always and I look like a hot mess.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Large White American Women

Although our trip was extremely humbling and life changing there was never a shortage of laughter. I mean have I not mentioned 1,000 times how awesome the 8 women I went with are? So I am going to share some of the funny stories too.

On Day 3 of our trip which I wrote about in my last post I mentioned that we went and had lunch at a cute little tea place and then shopped in a really nice outdoor market. We were all looking for some Indian clothes, specifically tops. Well, we noticed quickly that for the most part they weren't sized in S,M,L they were all numbers and weird numbers like 42,44...what do those numbers even mean? You couldn't try anything on so you pretty much just guessed and hoped for the best. We were at one shop looking around saying things like "oh I like that, that's cute" when out of nowhere the owner of the store walked up to me and said "we have your size, BIG size" with a big old smile on his face. He looked so proud that his store had material large enough to fit over all my white American flesh. I wanted to cry and politely followed him the the BIG size section. But don't worry, this was not the first or last time one of us would be called large. The day before someone told a girl on our team they didn't recognize her because she had gained so much weight and on our last day when we were at another clothing store the store employee told another lady on our team that they had big sizes for her. Let me mention that both these ladies are very thin, I would be happy to look like either one of them. So it pretty much became a joke about how huge we were, we definitely did not leave India with a good self image of ourselves, that's for sure.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hope in the middle of death and destruction - Day 3

One thing that we learned about Kolkata was that the name Kolkata comes from the Hindu goddess Kali and the original name for Koklata was Kalikshetra, meaning the place of Kali. Kali is the goddess of death and destruction. So we never really wondered why this place was so heavy, emotionally, physically, and spiritually because it was named after death and destruction for goodness sakes. With that being said it was very easy to see death and destruction when you looked around and it was simply overwhelming to bare most of the time but on day 3 we saw hope right in the middle of this city of death and destruction and that hope came in the form of some of the most beautiful children you could ever imagine.

Monday, October 17th
Monday started out with us going to Western union to exchange our money, and that story I will share another time, lol. Next we went to a very nice outdoor market where it was not crowded whatsoever. We had tea and ate at small cafe in the market and did some shopping. It was extremely nice and relaxing. Next we took an hour long bus ride which took us out of the city into the country (which up until that point I didn't realize they had) to the most beautiful childrens home. When we arrived there the silence was almost deafening in comparison to the city. The air was clean and I think we all took a huge breath of the clean air. There was green grass and so much SPACE! We walked down the gravel driveway around a random cow and up to this beautiful home. When we entered the gate we were greated by the home's mom and dad who are a married couple who live there permanently. They were the sweetest people, they were so excited for us to be there, they told us that the kids had prepared a performance and we would be the first people they have ever done it for! They also told us that they kids all got brand new outfit in anticipation for our visit. The dad gave us a tour of their home, the boys and girls rooms, their room, and the roof top area which is where I took some of the pictures below. In addition to the house mom and dad there are two other women who live at the home permanently. Out of respect to the children I am not going to share the specifics of their situations but basically these children are taken out of a life which is filled with drugs, abuse, and little to no food and they are brought to this home out in the country to live until they are adults. Their parents can call as well as come visit once a month and the parents have given them to this home willfully. They recieve an eduction, food, love and a safe and loving home. So after a quick tour we went to meet the children. When we walked into the room they were all standing their in the sparkling new clothes with the biggest smiles you have ever seen. They were so proud and held their heads high. They all said "HELLO" with their thick accents when we walked in the room. We took lots of pictures of them and then they started their performance. It was just precious, they recited bible versus and sang songs. Then, each of them stood up and told us their name, age, and some of their favorite things. The children ranged from 4-12. The 9 of us all stood up as well and told them our names, age, and favorite things. After their performace we went out to the courtyard where they had prepared a pinic snack. We served all the kids first and then ate with them. They all wanted their pictures taken and were are bunch of hams. After we were done eating we presented them each with a backpack that had a handmade blanket courtesy of Pam and her amazing team of women back here at home, a tooth brush and tooth paste and a little McDonalds toy. You would have thought it was Christmas, they were all so excited. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of all the blankets that sit folded in my kids closets that they use when the one they are currently using has to get washed and don't think anything of it. To these kids their very own blanket and tooth brush was a true gift, it was something of their very own. Each one was different and we asked if we should put their names on them and the hosue dad said "no I am sure they will remember which one belongs to who" with a smile. This home was such a place of love and happiness. I did not feel sorry for these kids, they were so incredibly loved and taken care of. The house mom and dad loved them unconditionally as if they were their own biologically children. After we hugged and kissed them good bye and all of us women shed a lot of tears we got back on the bus to return home.

As our group talked that night we were all so moved by the hope that the childrens home brought. How in the middle of this city, with all the poverty, dirt, trash, immorality, false idols, curruption and lust there is such an imense sense of hope and that the hope comes from these chidren. We all strongly felt that these children will be the ones to change their city and we felt honored to have been able to meet and spend time with them. Matthew 19:14 come to mind when I think of them "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."
Oh how God must look down on these precious children and smile at his creation. They have the heart of Jesus and you could it in their eyes.

Driving through the city on our way to the children's home

A picture of the courtyard at the children's home taken from on the roof top patio

The view from the roof

The kids when we first met them, all so cute!

All of the kids with their goody bags

Pictures from the first 2 days

This was when we walked out of the Kolkata airport, I don't know if you can tell but all those white specks by the lights are bugs

Here is Eva singing at church on Sunday

Here is an example of the trash, it almost looks like leaves but remember they don't have fall, that is all trash.

This is the place we had lunch at on Sunday, see the drastic difference from the picture above?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 2 - God's Grace

Sunday, October 16th

This was our first full day in Kolkata and this is when I feel like it is going to get hard for me to try and describe things and do it justice. I hope I can do a decent job so that each of you can get a look into what we saw and experienced. So here goes nothing...

Sunday was a day that God completely showed up and granted me so much grace that I am still humbled by it. God knew exactly how much I could handle and it is amazing how He placed me and guided me that day.

The day began with myself and my roomates Amanda and Eva getting picked up by Ms. Monique and her family to go to church. We got picked up because Eva was singing and we needed to get there early so she could practice, the other 6 women walked to church later and met us right before service. We attended one of the english services. English is 1 of 8 different language services they have, I find it simply amazing that every Sunday the word of God is being taught in 8 different languages on one campus. After church we took a taxi to a local restaurant. This was the first time we rode in a taxi and we quickly realized a couple of things. There are no traffic laws. This means that you drive on which ever side of the road you want, you do not have to stop at red lights if you don't want to, you go whatever speed you want aaannnnd you beep your horn constantly.

Thankfully we got there safe and sound. We had to walk about half a block to the restaurant and this was the first time I had actually experienced being out in public on the street. This was a side street so it was not that crowded by Kolkata standards but by our standards it was packed. I noticed that we stuck out like a sore thumb and thought that I better get used to it because there was nothing we could do to help it. We walked past people sleeping on the street, people working, people socializing, and lots of trash... trash everywhere. So off that street we stepped into a beautiful restaurant, totally westernized and modern, the contrast was unsettling. We had a great lunch and then left to walk to a nice restaurant that sold chocolates. On the way we saw several small monkeys on ropes that looked like they would attack you if given the chance so we all stayed far away. When we went to get back into cabs to go back to our the place we were staying which is called BMS there was a small boy who came up to us to ask for money or food. We knew this would happen a lot and we prepared for it but I don't think it matters how much you prepare yourself, it is always hard and it always breaks your heart. I was the first to slide into our cab and slid all the way to the opposite side. It was myself, Amanda, and Eva at the other door. Eva's window was open and as we sat in the cab waiting for what seemed like hours but was probably only seconds that little boy stood at Eva's window with his hand resting on the window saying "please Auntie" and then motioning that he was hungry. The moment was overwhelming and it would be the first of many. I felt so helpless, I knew we could give him money but so often kids are used by their parents to beg for money and then the parents use the money to buy drugs and alcohol, not food. So we knew we couldn't give him money.

We returned back to the BMS and got to rest for a bit before we returned back to church for their evening young adult service. It was an amazing service, I think we were all touched.

At the end of the day as I was processing the days events it was evident to me how much grace God had granted me that day. First He allowed me to be picked up that morning versus walking, the women who walked to church that morning had a much different experience that than I did. Second, by God's grace I got into that taxi first so I was not the one how had to sit face to face with that little boy who hung onto our cabs' window. And lastly God completely shielded my eyes from something almost every other women saw and I think God knew it would have been too much for me. As we were standing waiting for our cabs, when the little boy was begging a couple feet away there was a very small baby, probably only 3 months or so the other ladies said just laying on the street. Many of them cried later when recalling that image, it was the low for the day for many of our group and I somehow completely did not see it. One of the hardest things for me to still come to terms with are the children and babies that we saw on the streets.

Monday, October 31, 2011

1 1/2 hours on a bus + 18 hours on a plane + 3 meals on a plane +another 1 hour bus ride + a 10 1/2 hour time difference = India Day 1

Friday, October 14th

The 9 of us met at church, said good bye to our families and jumped on a bus headed for Chicago. It was not easy for me to say good bye and I am not going to lie to you and tell you that I did not hysterically cry for a couple hours the night before declaring to Dan "I am going to die, I am going to die!" because that would be a lie. You see I completely hate to fly, I have medication for it and the thought of having to be on a plane for around 18 hours total made me want to throw up. I was not scared about going to a foreign country where I would stick out like a sore thumb, I was terrified of the flight. Our senior pastor's wife Tammy later told me she knew as long as she could get me on the plane she knew I would be fine, and she was right. But I got on the plane telling God every step of the way that He called me to do this so He better not let me die on that plane. So I got on the plane and before we even took off we were able to spread out due to it not being a full flight so already the favor of God was upon us. I don't know how but somehow the first 16 hour flight didn't seem to take that long. We then landed in Dehli which is an extremely nice airport. They even have a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf which I have not had since we lived in Las Vegas so I was super excited. We then boarded our plane for Kolkata on which none of us were seated together. Luckily I sat by a cute young girl and her mom. I passed out on that flight and slept almost the whole way. When we arrived in Kolkata we got off the plane right onto the tar mat which was no big deal to me. We got into the baggage claim area and all got our luggage right away, praise God. We went through customs without a hitch and met Ms. Monique and her husband Stew who we would be working with all week, she greater us with a warm hug and complimented us on how great we all looked. We all laughed but at the end of our time realized that that was probably the best we did look all week. We walk outside to get on their bus and we were smacked in the face literally with thousands and thousands of bugs. They were everywhere, in out hair, down our shirt, in our mouthed if we opened them, EVERYWHER! Ms. Monique said she had never seen that before, we must have been lucky. When then took the bus for about an hour to the place where we would be staying for the next week. We went to our rooms which were extremely nice. There were 3 of us to a room, the rooms were very clean, had a fan and air conditioning, and our own bathroom with hot water and nice "western" toilet.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

When are you going to blog about it?

So I have been back for a week now and I can not tell you how many times I have heard "I want to hear about your trip! Or when are you going to blog about it?" and I so want to share it, every moment with everyone. What I didn't expect when I got back was how long it would to me to recover and process everything. I have been so jet lagged I have felt like I was in a comma for the last week. So this is my promise, I will start blogging about my trip tomorrow. There will be a lot of posts because this trip was not something you can just write a blanket blog post about. Some of it might be hard to hear about as it was hard to see and experience but some of it will also be funny, because how can you not have hilarious moments when you travel with 9 awesome women? But I promise to share it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Sixth Sense

Do you all remember this movie? If you didn't see it, the sixth sense is a movie about a little boy who sees things most people don't. In this famous scene he whispers "I see dead people." It was a pretty scary movie but most of us do not see these things so it's completely fictional. However, I am lucky enough to live with two people who do, and when they do they wake me up and scare the crap out of me.
Let start at the beginning. Dan is one of the worst sleeper in the world, he constantly sleep talks and sleep walks. Even better than both of these qualities is when he wakes me up in the middle of the night suddenly to tell me "Someone just walked past our bedroom door!" Now this is enough to scare the living daylights out of anyone right?!? At first I was so scared, "WHERE? WHERE?" I would say. Then I got smart and realized that he was talking in his sleep and infact there was no one in our house. I still get awakened from time to time with a frantic husband who claims he just saw someone in our house, and it's awesome (insert scarasm here). But now, I seem to have won the jackpot because not only do I have a crazy husband but he must have passed some of his crazy genes to on our daughter. Tuesday night Stella was sleeping in bed with me when I woke up to her laughing. She was sitting up in bed looking towards our bedroom door. I asked "what are you laughing at?" "Lucy" she said. Well I know for a fact Lucy was downstairs with Dan where they were sleeping on the couch. Then all of a sudden she quickly layed down, put the cover over her head and said "there's someone standing right there!" NOT AGAIN, I thought. I knew it wasn't Dan because I could hear him snoring and Carter still sleeps in a crib so I knew it couldn't have been him either. This time I did get scared so I bravely jumped out of bed and turned on all the lights. There was no one there and when I turned around Stella was out cold sleeping. So if anyone ever wonders why I have a problem sleeping, this might be the answer, because I live with not only 1 but 2 people who see people who aren't there. Don't be jealous, I know I'm lucky.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

True Girlfriends

I came across this picture and it just made me smile. It made me think of my girlfriends and how much I love them, how much better they make my life. And I am taking about real friends here, the ones who you can be honest with, who you can tell the truth to no matter how ugly it is. Friends who you know won't judge you if you want to run away from home but who will remind you why you want to stay. I have had many "friends" over the years, great girls who you could have fun times with but these are not the friends I am talking about. I am talking about friends who make your life better just because you know them. When I had Carter I suffered from pretty intense post pardum, not the kind where I thought about harming myself or others but the kind that gives you such horrible anxiety you can hardly breathe. I remember still when it would start to get dark out I felt like I was going to throw up because I knew I would be up all night with my colicy boy. I cried all the time. This was a point in my life where I realized what a true friend is. I remember trying to reach out to a couple of so called "friends" I didnt want to come right out and say how I was feeling but I remember making contact with them HOPING they would want to talk to me, that they would tell me they felt that way once too or just listen and I got nothing from them. But one of my true friends, my very best friend knew, she knew what was going on and she knew what I needed. She would call me several times a day and just listen to me cry, she would listen without judging and say "I know, I know you can't see how it's going to get better but all I can do is promise you it will." The first week I was home after having him there was a day when Dan couldn't be home and without asking me she took off work and told me she was coming to spend the day with me and she didn't want me saying anything about it. That is what real true friends do, they know when you need them and they do whatever they have to do. I am so thankful to have true friends in my life, they make life so much better.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Simple Weekend look

I L.O.V.E fashion. I love putting ideas together. I have seen a lot of blogs where they have a "What I wore" section where they take pictures of themselves if cute outfits. Well being a mommy of 2 I don't exactly have the clothes allowence I dream of. So, instead I came up with this idea of putting outfits together that I dream of having. Hope you like it, and if you all do maybe I will post ideas and outfits more often. :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I just received the book CAGE: The Horror and the Hope from our Senior Pastor and his Amazing wife just two days ago. It took me almost 24 hours just to open it. I knew that what I was about to see and read would again change me forever, even more than I have already been changed. This book is a mixture of photography, poetry, statistics, and personal accounts of what takes place in Kamathipura which is located in Mumbai. Kamathipura, the largest red light district in Asia is referred to as "the Cage." No one enters "the Cage" because of their own will; they are often tricked or forcefully "sold." The average age of entry is 12 but can often times be as young as 7. These minors are held captive in literal cages for 3-5 years until they are "broken." This statement alone makes me want to cry out in anger, you see what they mean by "until they are broken" literally means that they will remain in cages "rooms" where they have to service 10-25 men a day until they break and completely disconnect, they stop fighting, they lose hope, they lose their will and their spirit and they accept that this is now their life. It is then that the madam will allow them to go solicit openly on the streets. The rawness of this book is sickening. I think most of us do not like to think of this other world, the one where these horrible injustices take place. A place where fathers, husbands, brothers, and uncles sell their daughters for a monetary sum to live a life of torture and hell. But this is happening, today, this is happening. I can't help but look at my daughter, so precious and innocent and think of these girls a world away and how polar opposite their lives are. I can't help but be overwhelmed by how blessed we are to have been born into this privileged life. Born into a country where girls and women are treated as gifts. Where fathers treat their daughters like princesses and raise them saying things like "no boy will ever be good enough for you." To say that this breaks my heart is not enough. To say it ignites a fire in my soul is an complete understatement. I will make a difference and I will fight for these girls. I don't know how exactly but with God on my side I know I can make a difference.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Making Room

In preparation for our trip we are all reading the book “Sun Stand Still” by Steven Furtick. In the book he brings up a point that spoke so clearly to me and what I have been going through. I have been at my job for a little over 2 ½ years. It is a great place and works pretty great for me and my family. In addition to that part time job I started my own direct sales jewelry business with a great company which took off immediately and I saw such great success. I credited God from the beginning for having His hand on that business and blessing it. I never had to look for parties or sales, they just came and I was thankful.

Well within the last month and a half that business has come to a screeching hault and I also found out my part time job will be closing its doors on Sept. 30th. I was pretty devastated. How was I going to find something else that worked out so great? I began searching, grasping at straws for what I might be able to do. One night I was on the computer searching feverishly into the night as everyone else in the house slept when God clearly told me to “stop, settle down, I will take care of you, I always have. Don’t grasp at a straw, that’s not what I want for you.” So I stopped searching and am at peace.

Up until a week ago I was still struggling with how my personal jewelry business had dropped so suddenly and what to do about it. That is when I came across the chapter The Surcharge of Sacrifice in Sun Stand Still. On page 85 Furtick says “God has a personalized calling for your life, so the sacrifices he calls you to make will be specific and unique. All sorts of variables play into this. The things that God will call you to lay down or walk away from will depend a lot on where you’ve come from and where he’s taking you. And only he knows that.” On the next page he says “The thing is, sometimes God has to let your dreams die so that his vision for you can come alive.” And then on page 88 he says “when God removes something from our lives, it’s not because he’s trying to take away something good. It’s because he’s trying to make room for something better.” I feel like this is exactly what God has done in regards to both my part time job and my jewelry business. I truly believe that He is stripping these things away to make room for something great. Again, I feel completely at peace. My eyes have also been opened to the divine timing of losing my job. The two days after my last day of work is my church’s yearly Women’s conference, which means my mind will be free of all the normal thoughts of “who is going to watch the kids this week, what is Dan’s schedule, how is this or that going to work?” I will be able to receive whatever God wants to tell me with an open mind. I will also have the next two weeks, the two weeks leading up to the trip wide open. I will have time to intensely focus, pray, read, fast and have uninterrupted time with my family. I am now looking at this change with excitement of what my next step will be.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trust and Blessings

I think that this period in my life is the first time that I have actually trusted God completely. Trusting in God has taken on a whole new meaning to me as well. It used to be that there would be a problem, I would pray and ask God to help and then wait. This period in my life is different. I have had so many curve balls thrown my way that there have been points where I didn't know if I could do it. In this journey we have made great financial sacrifices, gotten rid of cars, taken on extra jobs and lost jobs, I have had intense personal and relationship struggles and complete meltdowns. Have you heard when people say "when you've done all you can do just stand"? Well I have been to that point, several times within the last 6 months. I have thrown my hands up and said "Ok God, this is it, you have to do something, there is nothing more I can do but stand in faith and believe you will show up."

I truly believe it is at this point where God performs a miracle. God has shown up and in such a mighty way that I will never be the same. I have been blessed in so many ways, ways that I would have never imagined by people I would have never imagined and that's how God works. He doesn't do what you think He will do, He does something so far from what you thought that it makes you smile from ear to ear at how wonderful and loving He is.

"The fundamental fact of existaence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see" - Hebrews 11:1

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back to the beginning

I have been reading the book “Sun Stand Still” and while I was reading today it was talking about how often times we want to hear God yell when he wants us to do something or go somewhere but often times He doesn’t, He will whisper…that’s how it begins.

So I want to go back to the beginning and tell you how my journey that I am currently on began. It began in October of 2010 at the women’s conference for our church. It was an amazing time with amazing speakers, so motivating and uplifting. The speaker was talking about believing, believing that God will do what He promises. It was all very good and moving but none of it hit home how messages normally do. On the second day our senior pastor’s wife, who by the way is one of my favorite people on the face of this earth Ms. Tammy got up to speak about what God had put on her heart. She shared through tearful eyes this amazing story how God had put human trafficking on her heart and how He had put Noel (who I also love insanely much) in place at the perfect time in our church because she in fact has one of the largest hearts for missions, human trafficking and had lived in India. Tammy shared what the trip was going to be, a year from then, she and Noel wanted to take a group of women to go and love on and minister to these young girls and women. She said how it was not a trip for the weak and that you would be interviewed and they would be hand selecting who would go. I sobbed. I also knew there was no way I could go, no way that I would be strong enough. They took a break and there was a sign up sheet where women who were interested in going could write their name down, there was a line a mile long with women just ready to go, I think they would have left that day if they could. I however did not stand in that line, I had no intentions to. I went to the ladies room. When I came back I didn’t even look at that sheet, I told Noel “this is so awesome but there is no way I could ever do that, I am not strong enough.” Noel was sweet and didn’t say much. Now I look back at that day at that announcement and know the reason I went up to her and said that. It was because God had already planted the seed for me to go, He had whispered so quietly because that day I wasn’t ready to hear it, He would continue to work on me for the next 3 months before He would speak loud enough for me to hear, and tell me that I was going to go.

To be continued…..

Sunday, June 19, 2011

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I love my baby daddy

When Dan and I started dating our senior year of high school I could never have imagined that one day he would be the dad of my two kids. I also could have never have imagined what a great dad he would be. I am so thankful to have a husband who will get down on the ground and wrestle with his kids, who will wipe butts and runny noses. Who will dance around the family room and play outside in the snow. Who will watch High School Musical and not complain...although he will make fun of it the whole time. And most of all I am thankful to have a husband who puts God and his family first, who tells me and the kids everyday that he loves us. Happy Father's Day to the best baby daddy in the world!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My New Obsession...Messy Side Braids

I totally have the personality type where I easily become obsessed with things. And it can be anything, food, clothing, shoes, books, gadgets, you name it. So my newest obsession is messy side braids. I love everything about them. They look so stylish, they keep you cool in the summer by getting your hair back AND anyone can do it. Now personally I wish I had thicker hair or the money to get extentions but since that's not the case I just make due with my baby fine hair. I put lots of product in it and that helps to make it look fuller and form into the braid a little better. So now when you see me sporting my braid you will know why, cause I am totally in love...for now.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My New Journey

Being a wife and mom is one of the greatest gifts in life and although I love my family and am happy being a wife and mom about 6 months ago I found myself in a weird place in life. If you are a wife and/or mom maybe you have found yourself here before. I found myself wondering what my passion was, what my purpose in life is. I was really wrestling with it, although I know my current role is important, sometimes it is not a fulfilling role. Coincidentally (or not really a conscience as it turns out) our pastor spoke a message about "Living the Dream" and how everyone has a dream. During the message I turned to my husband and said "I don't have a dream." Now this was where God stepped in and said " don't have a dream, well I will give you one." So began this journey that I am now in the thick of.

God has given me a dream and it is something much larger than myself, it's something that I would have never imagined in a million years that I would be doing. This October I will be traveling to India with 8 other AMAZING women to work with teenage girls and women who have been sold into sex slavery or human trafficking. This trip is so much larger than me and I pray every day that God gives me strength, that He strengthens my heart and my eyes for what I will see. We will be working with these girls to help them create a way to "buy" themselves out of prostitution. This will be a lifelong mission because as soon as we can get one out, they will bring a new girl in.

What amazes me the most in this whole process is how God has spoken so clearly to me, how He has told me and reassured me that I am meant to go on this trip. I always thought that when I would go on a missions trip, IF I would ever go on a missions trip it would have to do with orphans, or little kids. I would have never thought that I would be going to love on such broken women and girls. But God is funny, He doesn't care what you thought, He will stretch you and take you places you never thought.

He has used my 4 year old daughter to speak to me so many times it is starting to get freaky. The first instance was when we were sitting in our living room watching t.v. I had just learned of the trip and hadn't talked about it at all in front of her. Out of nowhere she said "mommy for my birthday I want to wear a red dress" "Ok" I said. "I want to wear a red dress from India." A little out of nowhere I thought, and maybe a sign. Well God heard my doubt so about a week or two later I was putting away a necklace when she said "Momma was that necklace made in India?" "Why would you ask that hunny?" I said. "Because the people in India, they come up to me and they ask me if I want to buy their jewelry." Now if this was not God shouting directly into my face, I don't know what was. I was brought to tears at how God would use my sweet baby to speak to me. There have been other random things like one day we were in the Gap and she wrapped a scarf around her head and said "Mommy look this is my saree." Or another day randomly saying "mommy you know I can speak Indian." And again keep in mind I had barely talked about this trip in front of her at this point.

This trip has already changed me, already rocked me to my core. When God tells you to do something and you step out in faith He changes you. I am a completely different person than I was 6 months ago, I went from not knowing my purpose and not having a specific passion to being so excited I can't sleep at night. I wake up with a joy and is unexplainable. I went from just existing to a women on fire with a mission.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Bounce House

My dad and I took the kids to a place called "Monkey Joes" yesterday. It is one of those inflateable places. Stella LOVES these kinds of places, she just runs around and gets all sweaty. I took her around while my dad watched Carter and the first place she wanted to go in was just your basic bounce house where you just go in and bounce. So in she went, I watched her through the net as she entered and that's when I noticed that she was the only girl in there with 5 boys. These boys were CRAZY, they were literally bouncing off the sides of this thing. Stella just sat there, she didn't even stand up. And then I noticed her face, it is one of those faces that are worth a million dollars. She was looking at these boys like they were clinically insane. Without even standing up and being in there for less thean 30 seconds she crawled right back out. "I do not want to be in there" she told me. I can't blame her, I wouldn't have wanted to be in there either. And that is when I realized why I knew exactly what she was thinking. It's because that face is the same face I give Dan on an almost daily basis. It's the "what is wrong with you face" that all us women know all to well.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Last Day of Preschool

First day of school this year
Last day of school this year

Today marks a big day in our house. Today was Stella's last day of preschool. Next year she will enter into 4K, at the elementary school. It will be 5 days a week but only a couple hours a day. I honestly don't know where the time has gone. I still remember when she had just learned to crawl and when she started talking. She has the same personality as the day she was born, super sweet, smart, strong, and ALWAYS funny. I look forward to watching her grow but like every mom knows moments like these are so bitter sweet. Maybe this is why that Dugger family had 19 kids......

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Drama King

Carter is full of drama, he has been since the day he was born. I think the reason my blog has been lacking for the last year is because I have just simply been so busy with him. He was crazy colicky for the first 7 months of his life, literally just cried from the minute he woke up till the minute he went to bed. He slept in his bouncy seat until he was 5 months old for goodness sakes. He didn't sleep through the night until he was almost 9 months and he has cried EVERY SINGLE DAY since the day he was born. But I love him, with all of my heart, he makes me crazy but I am completely in love. He is the most handsome boy on the face of this planet and he is really stinkin smart. He knows...he knows exactly what he is doing. He knows that he drives me crazy with his wining and his crying and I know that he lays in his crib at night and laughs to himself about it. Fortunately for me he was second born into this family and that first born child of mine is a FORCE to be reckoned with. She does not take one bit of his sass and she will ignore him like a champ. He will stand right in front of her face and cry and scream because he wants what she has and she will look right through him, right past him like he is not even there. It keeps it lively in my house with the two of them, only God knows what then next couple of years are going to bring with my two strong willed children.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Guy and Eva Jewelry Giveaway!

Hello Ladies!

I am so happy to be doing my first ever Guy and Eva Jewelry giveaway! I will be giving away the Bree Bangles (located on page 42 of the catalog) to whoever wins. Here is how you enter.

1) Go to my Guy and Eva website at
2) Like my blog and leave a comment with your name, email address (this is how I will contact you if you win) and your favorite piece in the new catalog.

You can gain one addition entry if you "like" my "guy and eva shop" facebook page

I will be choosing a winner next Monday, March 14th

If you are interested in hosting a Guy and Eva party or becoming an advisor even if we live in different states I would love to talk to you and help you out. You can email me at

Good luck everyone!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years Resolution

I am making a new years resolution this year and like so many others it is to get in shape and lose weight. I have fought with my weight my whole life, I was not born with good genetics, I actually have a lot of strikes against me. I am one of those people who look at food and gain weight. It also doesn't help that I love food. I have tried dieting many times but it always fails. When I got pregnant with Stella I gain almost 50lbs. it was ridiculous. I did lose all the weight but about 7lbs. When I was pregnant with Carter I only gained 30 which was better but still not great. For the last 3 1/2 years I have had a constant hate relationship with my body. It is not even recognizable to me. Looking back at pictures of when I was in high school and college I can not believe that I thought I was fat, sure I wasn't tiny but I would give anything to look like that or even close to that again. I don't know if my body can do it but I have decided that enough is enough. I am sick of being disgusted with myself and it's time to do something about it. I am only 29 years old, I am not going to live the rest of my life loathing my body.

I joined the YMCA on Monday and went and worked out yesterday and today.

So I think I am going to add this part of my life journey into my blog, maybe some of you feel the same way I do or can relate in some way. Maybe we can support and encourge each other, and maybe at the begining of 2012 I will have great accoplishments to report.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Public Access Channel

Random fact about Dan and I, we love the local public access channel. Our favorite is when they play the show choirs summer park performances but really anything will do. I want to say that we watch it because it is actually quality entertainment but that would be a lie. We watch it because it is bizarre and fascinating all at the same time. We watch it wide eyed with our mouths open and all we can say to each other is "is this real?" We also ad lib from time to time. When I gave birth to Stella I clearly remember laying in the hospital and watching it and us dying laughing. Maybe that's where Stella's sense of humor began...
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