Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Cookie Table

If you go to a wedding in Western Pennsylvania and there is not a cookie table you will likely be disappointed... because you would have been expecting one.

What is a cookie table?

It's a table that is loaded with cookies that never seem to disappear. The cookie table is an amazing thing! It's the place you walk past a gazillion times while at a wedding reception and likely grab another cookie every time. It's what we do here. Mountains of cookies. It's heaven!

Usually some relatives or friends all pitch in and make tons of cookies for the bride and groom. Dozens and dozens and more dozens of cookies. I am always thankful for those people that spend time baking so I can enjoy the delicious cookies!!

Have you heard of the cookie table?
Is there a wedding tradition that is only found in your area?

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Directly Help a Victim of Sex Trafficking

I went to a conference over the weekend and one of the speakers was Leigh Ramsey. Leigh founded SHE Rescue Home. This ministry is based in Cambodia and rescues victims of sex trafficking and works with the girls to get them reintegrated into their society.

While at the conference I purchased a purse that was made by survivors. It was a small way to support them.

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But what really got me was the bag that they put it in when I made my purchase.

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That is the handprint of a survivor. To give you a clue as to size... it's about the size of my Liza's hand. A child's hand. A young child's hand. It broke my heart.

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When I got home I took the time to get on the website and look around... find out more about what SHE Rescue is about. I read and read...  About how it all got started. About girls that can be sponsored. About their products.

And then I found a link to "project needs", clicked and that's when an idea grew!

I read about how a survivor is now back home but her community does not have toilets. The cost of getting her a toilet is $440 and donations can be made in $20 increments. Soooo... that means if 22 people give $20 we can get this girl a toilet! We can do that right!? I mean... for all that this child has been through I think she deserves a toilet! A chance to feel safe instead of afraid.



That's the toilet. Nothing fancy... but it's a toilet!

I want to get a girl a toilet! And I want you to help me!
Over the past two years I have given money to organizations that fight human trafficking. I still give. Human trafficking... slavery!... is a real and current issue and it happens everywhere. But sometimes I like to know exactly what my money is getting and this is my chance to do that! And I have learned over the years that when a few people do a little bit it can accomplish something really big!

Here is how we can work together to get a victim of sex trafficking a toilet...

CLICK HERE.
You should see SHE R06 - $440 for a Toilet.
Donate!

Easy peasy. $20. Or more if you want!
Here is what the site says about SHE R06...

 SHE R06 lives at home with her family. In her village there is no toilet, so she is often forced to find a quiet, hidden spot in the community, which can be scary for her given that she has a past of sexual exploitation. The provision of a toilet will provide her and her family with dignity, hygiene, and a sense of safety.

Who is SHE R06?



Let's get her a toilet!!

Only have $5 to give? No problem! Just ask three more friends to pitch in $5 each! Talk to your co-workers and friends. 22 people to give $20. I'm number 1 and Mike is number 2. Twenty more people! If you donate leave a comment or send me a message letting me know. You can simply say "I'm in!"

When you go to pay, it will take you to Paypal to sign in. If you do not have Paypal you can click the link that says "don't have a paypal account?" and choose a different option.

Sex trafficking is such a huge problem that it can be overwhelming and cause people not to act. This is a way for us to break it down, begin conversations and help at least one child who was a victim and is now a survivor!



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thank You God For Saving Me!!

Earlier this week I heard someone make a comment that they hoped another person got what they had coming.

I'm sure that many of us, myself included, have had that very thought at some point in our lives.

But this time, when I heard it, that saying anchored down and has remained in my heart... turning and turning and turning. Reminding me that I don't get what I deserve. I deserve death. A life apart from God. I am a sinner. I have done so much wrong in this life. I don't DESERVE what God has done for me.

But he did it anyway.
He gave his Son.
For me.
A sinner.

Grace.
He paid my debt.
He took what I deserve so I didn't have to.

I am so thankful that I don't have to get what I deserve.
I am so thankful that my God loves me unconditionally and made a way for me to have a relationship with him.
I am so thankful that he has saved me!


Friday, August 29, 2014

2 Years!!!

Two years ago today we bought our house! I love it more today than I did on the day we bought it... and believe me... I loved my house A LOT on that day!

It's been a good two years.
We haven't been able to pay down our mortgage as quickly as we want to due to some unexpected financial situations. But we are still ahead and haven't given up on a super early pay off. We also haven't been able to update our kitchen so yes... we still have those metal cupboards that don't get used. But I think the smoke smell is fading. Perhaps in another year we will be able to use them!!!

There is still plenty of things "not right" with our house... but I don't really care. I love my neighborhood. I love the people. I love the ministries we are connecting with that also love my neighborhood. I love the school and the kids. I love when I walk past the playground and hear "Hi Liza's mom!" or "Mrs. Wick!" or "Hey Laura!" or "What up Laura?" I love when someone walks in my open door, sits down in my living room and tells me about their day.

I am right where I am meant to be.

In honor of my two year house anniversary I want to reshare something I wrote February 21, 2012. It was just after we had decided to look for a house to buy. It gave me goosebumps to reread it!

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Yesterday I wrote about how we are finally ready to start looking for a home and I asked for any tips or advice on home buying that you might have. What surprised me was that several of you were all "Location! Location! Location!" I guess it just surprised me because it's not really an issue for me.

Now! Before you go thinking I'm all crazy let me explain myself. :)

Actually, let me start by saying that I KNOW that I am going to go about looking for a house differently than most and I understand why location SHOULD be important. It's ok if that is important to you and I in no way think that anyone else should just forget about it like I am willing to unless you come up with your own set of convictions.

So...

I'm honestly not worried about location at all.

I've felt strongly for a while now that there is a neighborhood that we are called to. Some people do their missions outside of the United States. Some do their missions work within the United States. I believe that God will have our missions work within the neighborhood that we move to. There are families that need us.

And so I will go to whatever location God shows me.

I don't care if it isn't the best school in town. God won't just give Mike and I the grace we need but He will also give my kids the grace to not only survive but to thrive in their environment as well. It's a family mission. And as far as school goes... I'm the parent. I am the one who is responsible for my children. If the school is lacking then I just need to pick up the slack and make sure my kids are getting what they need.

I don't get the sense that God will stick us in the ghetto but I do know that it isn't going to be the prettiest, most successful neighborhood either. And I'm ok with that.

You can try to convince me that location truly is important but I'm not going to be convinced. Last night I read all the comments that came in and I emailed back and forth with a good, understanding friend who had offered up some thoughts. But here's the thing...

(If I pull out parts of your comment and share my thoughts on it it's not because I think you are wrong... it just helped me settle my convictions even more and I want to share it with others to help them understand.)

Someone said "You can always paint walls... you can't paint surroundings."

I know where she was coming from so it completely makes sense that she should share that tip. But my surroundings will simply be something along the lines of a neighborhood. Nothing spectacular. Probably some crazies. (But who hasn't called ME crazy at some point!?!?) I may not be able to paint the surroundings but the surroundings that I end up with will be able to be covered in prayer and changed by the grace and love of God!

I'm not worried about whether or not the house will sell when I am ready to move either. If I go where God sends me he isn't going to trap me there when He says it's time to move on. Plus... we plan to buy a cheap house and pay it off quickly. Once it's paid for we will begin saving for our next house. We should have nothing owed and plenty saved when it comes time to move again. I know. I know. Plans don't always work out. Either way, God's going to bless us for our obedience. I'm not worried about it.

This is an issue I am completely settled on. I have so many ideas in my head and they only fit within a neighborhood. I want to be the home where kids hang out all the time. Where they feel safe. Where they find love. (Not saying they won't be safe or finding love in their own homes.) I want to welcome in the kids who's parents are working and can't be home when school lets out. I want to use those education degrees I slaved for and help kids with their homework. I hope that I have a covered porch and that the bus stops right in front of my house so that I can invite the other parents to come up for coffee and hot chocolate while waiting for the bus to come on those cold mornings. And then just maybe we will all start talking and sharing our lives and maybe before you know it we'll be having Bible studies in the morning after the kids get on the bus.

Who knows!!! I know they are just ideas. Dreams. Thoughts. But God knows! God knows what will happen when we move where he wants us. It's an adventure that I am so excited about! I know it might not always be easy... but God didn't promise easy.


I imagine God scanning the whole earth... and saying, "I don't need the person who has a perfect background and perfect qualifications and everything all arranged and organized. I don't need [only] the woman who has her spices alphabetized and never gets them out of order. I just need a woman who will say yes. That's the woman I can use to change the world."  ~Lysa TerKeurst

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