God-Sized Dreams: Looking Back at a Year

God-Sized Dreams

I’ve gotta admit something to you, my sweet and faithful readers.

I have procrastinated this post up and down and all around. I have known for weeks…weeks…that it needed to be written. I’ve had days in those weeks when I could have easily taken an hour, gotten comfy on the couch under my awesome sherpa blanket, and pounded out the words you are about to read.

At least, I hope you are about to read them. (I still have to actually WRITE them. Ahem.)

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It isn’t that I don’t want to…it’s because when I look back at this year, I almost don’t know where to start.

Except at the very beginning, so here goes. Please stick with me? Thanks a bunch. :)

It really began in 2012, on a cold (and early!) November morning when I was sitting at the table, eyes a bit glazed over, hand clutching my first cup of coffee, making my bloggy rounds. (The list was a lot shorter then.)

I found myself at (in)courage, really the site where it all began for me. I love that sweet space so much and drop by several times a week for the wisdom, laughter, and love these precious sisters share with their readers. That particular morning, I found myself clicking around more than usual, and I landed on a post written by my sweet and now-dear friend, Holley Gerth.

An invitation, really.

She was putting together a God-Sized Dream Team…and would I like to be part of it?

Of course I would!

She was accepting 99 women, and oh…Oh. How. My. Hopes. Flew. Way. Up. Beyond. The. Clouds.

I quickly filled out the application, sharing that my dream was to publish my book.

And when I sent in that application, that’s what I thought. That the heart of my dream was to write a book. Publish it. Maybe be famous, too.

A few weeks later, I received the e-mail that sent me on a little happy dance across my living room. (I really do happy dance. Often. You should try it sometime.)ย ๐Ÿ˜‰ย I’m thrilled to let you know that you’ve been chosen as part of the God-Sized Dream Team!

And what followed in those six months, which turned into a year and now more than a year…

There were gifts like intentional time to find my strengths and pray through how God can use them. (For a non-organized person like myself, this was a good thing. My focus often needs to be narrowed down.) I also learned the importance of carving out that time to pursue book-writing, and I faithfully visited Starbucks (SUCH a chore ;)) weekly to pound out as many words as possible on the rough draft.

In just a few months, I had completed my rough draft and handed it to my first friend.

Dream definitely on its way to being realized. :)

Yes?

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Or, maybe…the dreams were just starting to grow.

Over the course of a year, a little piece at a time, He began to show me that it wasn’t just one dream. While there’s definitely a book in there (and oh, how I can’t wait to share it with all of you!!!) there’s so much more.

SO much more.

Dreams like being the best possible wife and mommy…a dream that I have to daily place in His hands and pray through.

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Dreams like someday working on a medical ship as a family. (Yeah, this one’s BIG.)

Dreams like traveling to Uganda to help clean the jiggers from the feet of little children and give them shoes. Shoes that will save their lives…and tell them about the Jesus who saved them, too.

Even dreams that I didn’t know were in my heart…You see, I’d been so used to writing…just writing. Not really connecting, just sharing words and rarely going beyond my little online space.

And then, somehow, God took a group of 99 women and built a family. These women? They’re my sisters. I’ve had the privilege to hug many of them in real life…but all of our hearts are connected.

GSDT Allumephoto credit: Melissa Aldrich

And then, He took a few of us, and we formed a smaller Mastermind group…and from that, the dream of a brave sister became a new site for dreamers, one that launched yesterday.

And my dream of being a contributing writer came true. The one I’d been so afraid to speak aloud.

I feel humbled, blessed, and honored to even be part of it.

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ย So when I look back at this year of dreaming God-Sized Dreams???

I see blessings…almost too many to even count.

A finished rough draft. Even a meeting with an agent. (I still haven’t written about that, have I?!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hugs and heart spills with friends…those in real life and those online. The gift of community is precious.

Prayer times and Google Hangouts.

Voxer and the laughter, love, and sometimes-embarrassment it has brought to my days.

Allowing my heart to bleed even more for what God is doing all over the world.

Learning to take His hand each day and trust Him with my dreams.

And the reminder that sometimes dreams come in the everyday, extraordinary…like this. And there’s nothing small about these kind of dreams, either.

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So how do I wrap up a year?

I don’t.

This journey isn’t over. In fact, I’ll be sharing tomorrow what’s next…or, at least, what I think is next.

This year…oh, He’s shown me just how much MORE He can do…beyond what I could have ever hoped or dreamed. He’s SO Good.

And I am so, so thankful. Praise Him for all of it.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

And today, friends?

We’re linking up at the new God-Sized Dreams website! I hope you’ll stop by, read the stories of other dreamers, and even share yours, too! And thanks to each of you for sharing your lives and being a part of mine. You bless me more than you will ever know.

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When Dreams Come True

I’ve written this post in my head about 636 times. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s so funny how things that are so big, so life-changing, so amazing to my heart…are sometimes equally difficult to write about.

And this one? Well, I want to do it justice…because it’s all about dreams. God-sized Dreams.

And I’ll be sharing more tomorrow about how God took the ones in my heart and grew them beyond anything I could have ever imagined. ‘Cause He’s awesome like that. :)

But today, I want to share this brand new space with you.

It’s the dream of a sister and friend, Christine…she bravely stepped forward and obeyed when God said, Yes. Do this. I’ve got it. All.

And we have certainly seen that He does have it all…down to every last, even often small, detail. As we’ve prayed over this space…and shed a few tears before praying some more…we’ve seen Him move and guide.

And now there’s a beautiful place for dreamers to connect.

Today her dream becomes a sweet, beautiful, reality, and she’s invited me, along with several of my sisters, to be part of the journey. And that means that my own God-sized Dream of being a contributing writer comes true today, too. Squeeeee!

Dreams all over the place are comin’ true, I tell ya! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I hope you’ll take the time today to stop by and leave her some sweet encouragement and comment love…she has such an amazing heart for God-sized Dreamers, and I know her words…and her heart behind them…will bless you.

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Just a Chat (with Coffee)

It’s one of those mornings…oh, don’t misunderstand me. I love a good Friday morning. (Especially when it comes with coffee, and it always does.) It’s just the kind of morning where throwing out confessions feels freeing.

Don’t judge...sometimes it’s just good for the soul. :)ย 

Confessions like, I haven’t vacuumed the kitchen floor in two, give-or-take, days. (Black kitchen, golden retrievers, you do the math.)

Ahem.

Or, that for about the thirteenth time this week, I jacked up the heat three degrees and am sitting on the heating vent in the kitchen, snuggled under the most amazing, sherpa-lined blanket ever, thanks to a fantastic Christmas party/gift exchange. I’m a sucker for an awesome blanket…I kind of never want to crawl out from under it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (And, while we’re talking about blankets and heating vents, I am fully expecting a heating blanket for Christmas…that’s kind of a serious confession. And maybe a little hint.)

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Or, I could somewhat-embarrassingly confess that I don’t want to wash my hair today because the faux hawk my stylist gave me a couple days ago is awesome. (Though I rock it nowhere near as well as the beautiful Crystal.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ And yes, I am posting a selfie. I promise I am not one of those people…I just am today. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Or, that I completely feel like a Christmas shopping failure. Even though I’m finished. I have managed, TWICE now, to buy the wrong size in a certain gift for my hubby. The first time, I guessed the size wrong, and the second time, I bought the right size. (Or so it was marked.) Got it home…and, WRONG. Can I just tell you that I really don’t want to go back to the mall? Ugh. (No picture…we need some actual surprises in our house on Christmas morning.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

And though it might not fall into the confession category exactly, I’m gonna take a little bloggy break until after Christmas. I want the next days of this beautiful season to be spent with my little family, my church family, and my friends…focusing on the real Reason we celebrate.ย I have to admit that it brought tears to my eyes today as I watched my daughter acting out the Christmas story with her little people. Such sweet, precious moments, and I don’t want to miss any of them.ย Oh, she melts my heart, even on the super silly days.

Golly, I love her. :)

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But be sure to stop back by around the 30th because I have something cool…or maybe more than cool…to share with all of you.

I kind of can’t wait…I’m so thankful to God for all He’s doing, and I can’t wait to tell you all about how one of my big dreams is coming true. Now I know you’ll come back…haha! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Until then…

Merry Christmas, sweet friends!

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Behind the Scenes: The Day We Shared Life

She sends me a facebook message to let me know she’ll be in town, and I count down the days because I can hardly wait to hug her neck. Yes, we just saw each other at Allume in October, but you see…she’s my community.

My sister.

My friend.

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And from the first minutes of the ride back from Schaumburg, it’s like old times. Or, in particular, old timE…because this is only the second time we’ve been in real life. There have been countless Google hangout prayer times and a few other chats, connecting over blogs and Twitter and dreaming…and all of these things have made us old friends.

She does life with me that day…we stop at church and I get to introduce her to a few of my favorite people. We deliver bread to the daycare I visit every Friday. Maelie and I take her to our favorite little restaurant for lunch, and then it’s back to my house, where I put on my yoga pants…the ones I promised her I’d be wearing when I picked her up, and then I showed up in skinny jeans. (Sorry.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

And we make hot chai, kick our feet up on the furniture, and heart-spill.

It’s wonderful.

At one point, we even pull out the Nutella and two spoons…making up for what was supposed to happen at Allume and didn’t. I find that, after trying it for the third time, I actually like it…and I double, then triple, dip. Good friends can do that, you know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And though we promise not to check the clock, we watch the hours, then minutes, tick slowly toward the five, and we know it’s almost over…the seven hours of in-real-life sisterhood we were privileged to share.

We snap a few selfies and even share one on Facebook with our dream team…and I really should have turned off the flash, but I didn’t, and it’s ok. We’re just really bright and sparkly…which is kind of how our hearts felt that day, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Too soon, it’s time to pack up and take her home.

The traffic is a little pokey, and for once, I don’t mind. Let it crawl, let it crawl, I pray.

There are moments we want to hold on to…and this past Friday was one of them.

My sweet sister, Mandy, came to my house, sat on my couch, and shared life with me. It’s kind of been a dream for a long time…and it was every bit as sweet as I thought it would be.

And it would have been, even without the Nutella. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s to sisterhood and the blessing of community…a gift I can’t even put into words.

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Today is the day when I join some sweet friends at Crystal’s space for Behind the Scenes. We’re sharing the silly and sweet and sometimes-tear-jerking moments that happen behind the camera lens…I hope you’ll take some time and pop over to read some great stories.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them.ย The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

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Behind the Scenes: That Time I Made a Scarf

So a few months ago, I wrote a post about a vest.

Maybe this picture will remind some of you you? Yes? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I love a good, funky piece of clothing.

And, sometimes? Well, sometimes I’m willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get it…like stalking eBay for years and then getting into bidding wars. You know, hypothetically. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But this vest isn’t what I’m writing about…even though, oh my heart. I love it. :)

You see, y’all (love that word…my heart is totally Southern) were so amazingly sweet when I posted this. I got comment after comment…online and in person…I’ll make one like that for you! Or, I’ll teach you how to make that!

The one thing I didn’t mention in that lovely little post is that I actually can crochet. And, true to Mel form, I taught myself. About a year ago.

Oh, there’s no way I could make that vest…most of what I come up with are in the scarf or cute-hat-with-a-flower categories. And most also are given away. I rarely make anything and actually keep it for myself.

But about a week ago, I watched this cheesy, Hallmark-ish movie. It was a remake of The Gift of the Magi, and in it, the main character had this scarf.

Oh, goodness, this scarf.

It was waaaaay more interesting than the actual movie…and this slightly hippie, Boho-lovin’ girl couldn’t stop staring at it.ย 

And as I continued to focus on that funky scarf and completely ignored the plot line, I thought, I can make that. It was just a bunch of granny squares sewn together…something I didn’t know how to do, but hey. What’s YouTube for, after all? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sunday afternoon I finally had a little time to sit down. True, again, to Mel form, I just pulled out my hook and yarn and got to work, sure that it would be a piece of cake to whip up a few of those squares.

Ha. Ha. And Ha.

Nope, I threw away my first mass of tangled yarn and pulled up YouTube later that night. Ten minutes later I had it figured out…and once I got going, I couldn’t stop. (And I may-or-may-not-have stayed up until an ungodly hour of the morning making those cute little squares…which maybe weren’t looking so cute at…ahem…one in the morning.)

But the lack of sleep? Totally worth it. :)

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Today is the day when I join some sweet friends at Crystal’s space for Behind the Scenes. We’re sharing the silly and sweet and sometimes-tear-jerking moments that happen behind the camera lens…I hope you’ll take some time and pop over to read some great stories.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them.ย The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

crystalstine.me

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Five-Minute Friday: Reflect

Today Iโ€™m linking up withย Lisa-Joย for Five-Minute Friday. So, grab a timer, set it for five minutes, and join me!

The rules:ย Write for five minutes. No editing, revising, overthinking, or backtracking. Just write. Then leave some comment love for the person who linked up before you…and anyone else because that’s the fun and the heart of the community!

Today’s prompt: Reflect

I talk about her a lot lately, this girl.

SweetMae

Maybe it’s because we spend our days…and most of our moments…side by side.

I truly feel like I blinked…maybe an extended blink, but a blink nonetheless…and she is nine days shy of three and a half.

A mini me in so many ways, even if she looks more like her daddy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But I am oh-so aware of the little mirror I have following me around…reflecting everything I do.

Oh, sometimes it’s awesome…when we dance through the living room together or surf on the couch. (Sssshhhh…don’t tell!) When we share chapstick and powder and wear bracelets together. Once in awhile we’ll sit down at the piano together and play. (Or, pound? ;))ย  And sometimes we even dress alike because we can.

Most of the time, I love that she wants to reflect what she sees in her mommy.

And, yet, there are those days, too…the ones when she pops out a word she’s heard me say, one that slipped and never should have reached her ears. Or when the impatience spills over and becomes a raised voice…and she returns it, sometimes even more loudly.

I don’t love that…because I know that the mommy she’s mirroring isn’t reflecting Her Father.

This mommy thing is hard…I dance through the sunshine and daisy parts of it, but sometimes there are tears, too…and not just from her. Fear that I’m messing it all up.

I have to give myself grace…and pray ever day that He’ll help me to reflect Him so she can, too.

Five Minute Friday

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The Liebster Award

4382d-liebster2My sweet friend and heart-sister, Kristin, nominated me for the Liebster Award. (This is my first bloggy award…how fun!) :) The Liebster is a fun way to introduce smaller blogs to more people…and I’ll be passing on the Liebster love at the end of this post. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I met Kristin for the first time (in)RL at Allume, but it felt like I had known her for years. We first connected through the God Sized Dream Team and then God planned it all out (He did!) for us to be roomies at the conference. We are also part of the same Mastermind group, are both contributing writers for a new blog coming soon, and have been in the same HelloMornings group for the last two sessions.

Her friendship is such a gift to me…and not just because she lets me borrow her boots and her jewelry. (Take note of the necklace in my headshot on the blog…yep. Totally hers. She has fantastic taste, and going shopping with her is on my bucket list.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ But, really? She’s just wonderful. :) Make sure you check out her blog because she just has the biggest, most generous heart ever, and that leaps off the virtual pages of her space. You’ll be blessed!

Mel&KristinAnd thanks, girl, for letting me “borrow” this picture from your blog. Yours is better than mine. :)

So I get to have a little fun, share some love, and then pass the award on to a few of my friends. (See the end of this post for that!)

First up, 11 random things about me.

1. I’ve lived in four different states and one other country besides the U.S. That’s not too impressive until you understand that for the first 23 years of my life, I lived in Iowa. Just Iowa.

2. I’ve been to 20 countries…we love to travel. It’s a beautiful, beautiful world. :)

3. I drove a pink motorbike when we lived in Indonesia. I hate pink now…I purchased it during that very, very short period in my life when I thought pink was cool. But I do miss that bike…it was fun.

4. I taught myself how to play the piano and the guitar, but singing is my first musical love. I can also somewhat hold my own on the djembe and can even pluck out a few songs…a few…on the ukulele.

5. My name is Mel. Yes, it’s short for something else, but there’s a reason I go by Mel. Even people I’ve known my whole life seem to think that my full name is Melissa or Melanie or even McKenzie. (No clue how they arrived at that one, and none of them are.) I’m seriously considering legally changing it, but hubby isn’t on board with that one just yet. But it’s Mel. Always Mel. ๐Ÿ˜‰

6. I love running…most of the time.ย  In fact, I’d like to run a half marathon next year. But no more than that. Two hours of running seems like it’s about my limit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

7. I’m a klutz. Really. I trip a lot, and it’s kind of hilarious.

8. When I was pregnant, I wanted a little girl so badly that I wouldn’t believe my doctor when she told me we were having a girl. Four times. Even the day Mae was born, I kind of expected her to come out a boy.

9. My hubby and I met, started dating, and were engaged within five months…and we got married ten months later.ย 

10. I use a copious amount of emoticons when I write.ย Please don’t go back and count. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

11. I was the world’s pickiest eater growing up. There are now only a handful of things I won’t eat…maturity and most living overseas are probably what changed things.

And Kristin had eleven questions for me. :)

1. What is your favorite time of day? I’m such a night owl…I could stay up until two or three in the morning watching cheesy movies, but life and responsibility force me to go to bed at a more reasonable-ish hour. Usually around 11 pm.

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? As tempting as it is to say Bali (I love me some tropics!) I’d choose here. In this house with the people I love. We truly are blessed by the community and friends we have.

3. What is your biggest pet peeve? Hmmm…I have two. Mean people and people who waste my time.

4. Salty or sweet? Can I say both? (I LOVE salted caramel!) But I probably lean toward sweet most of the time.

5. If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?ย  Probably that my daughter will grow up to love God and serve Him with her life…and as part of that wish (or prayer), that God will give her mommy and daddy the strength to let her do just that, no matter where He takes her.

6. What is your middle name? Rose. Though, funny story. In elementary school, I changed it a few times…and at one point I had FOUR middle names. I’m funny like that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

7. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?ย As a family, we’re starting a few…like a neighborhood cookie party and reading the Christmas story together. And though it’s completely dorky, I love the movie Prancer. I probably watch it at least five times every Christmas.ย 

8. What book are you currently reading? Actually, I’m reading several. My hubby and I are reading Love and Respect in the Family by Emerson Eggerichs together. I’m also going through a study on Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift, and it is so fantastic and changing the way I look at Advent and Christmas. And I’m part of a book study on God is Able by Priscilla Shirer…I’m one chapter in, but I know it’s gonna be good! And my Mom’s Bible Study is going through The Resolution for Women. (Also by Priscilla Shirer and also a good one!)

9. What is the last package you received in the mail? Dayspring sent me a pretty sweet T-shirt and some other goodies a couple of weeks ago. That was a happy surprise, one that I wasn’t expecting!

10. How many loads of laundry do you do in a week? Anywhere from 6-10, depending on how many times I work out and how impatient I am to get the sweaty smell out of my bedroom! ๐Ÿ˜‰

11. What is the best Christmas present you have ever received? Hmmm…that’s a tough one. I’ve been blessed with some pretty good gift-givers in my life. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think it’s a tossup…between the scooter I got when I was nine years old (I wanted one soooooo badly) and the year my hubby bought me the Rogers and Hammerstein collection on DVD. (I think he regretted it when I started hosting my own little impromptu concerts, though!)

Now, my eleven questions for the friends I am nominating!

1. If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

2. Do you eat breakfast? If so, what?

3. Coffee or tea? Or neither?

4. Christmas tree…white lights or multi-colored?

5. What time of day do you do your best writing?

6. You have a rare day off from any responsibilities. What do you do with it?

7. Do you have any hidden talents? Please share!

8. What’s your most embarrassing moment?

9. What’s a movie that you’ve seen so many times, you can practically quote it?

10. Do you sing in the shower?

11. What’s your favorite book…you know, that one you can read over and over?

And now, my Liebster nominees! :) (Please stop by and leave them some comment love!)

Cathy from Moments on the Journey. She’s my buddy from the GSDT, a sweet, (in)RL friend, and I just love her and the encouragement she is to me! Plus, she has some of the most fun ideas ever…just check out her blog!ย 

Amy from Living in Harmony. Amy is one of the first online friends I really connected with, and she is always a sweet encouragement to me. She claims that she’s a better speaker than a writer, but I really enjoy her writing and her insights, and I can’t wait for the day I can hear her as a speaker, too. :)

Julie from Whimsical Words. Julie is one of my GSD sisters, and she was such a happy blessing to me at Allume. I knew she’d be there and I definitely looked forward to hugging her, but I didn’t know I’d connect with her and love her so much! Silly me…she’s wonderful. AND she makes beautiful, hand-stamped cards. So you should check out her Etsy store while you’re at it!

Thanks again, Kristin…so fun! :)

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Behind the Scenes: On Giving and an Opportunity

Sometimes I feel a heavy responsibility, being the mama of a girl.

Or, maybe, just being a mama in general.

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True, we have a blast together. Seriously? Being her mommy is so much more awesome than I ever could have dreamed. She’s just the best.

And, for now, she’s three.

A copycat, sort-of three…whatever Mommy does, Maelie does.

This is good and bad…I break into a song from Beauty and the Beast? She’s right behind me singing backup…or, more likely, taking up the lead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have an ugly moment and raise my voice? Chances are, her reaction will be similar.

I sit down to write? She’ll pull out her “laptop” or another device and do the same thing.

I’m helping out with bread at church on Fridays? She’s right next to me helping, putting bags of it into the big, orange tubs and delivering them to the head-start with me.

She’s watching…and doing…all the time.

That’s why it’s so on my heart to set a good example for her…in words, in actions, in how I am every day. Oh, I don’t do it perfectly AT ALL…but each day, there’s an opportunity to teach, to love, to be Jesus to someone. And pray that God will grow her heart to love and show compassion to others…and to have a giving spirit. I dream those things for her.

And, friends?

There’s an opportunity to give right now. One that, I hope, will somehow, someday, make an impression on my little girl’s heart. I don’t know how, but I do know it will make a differenceย right now in the lives of some beautiful women and their babies on the other side of the world.

In Kenya.

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I’m so excited to be part of this: Raising the money for a new home in Kenya for young moms and their babies. For Christmas, we’re building them a HOUSE!!!

Yes, a house. And I completely love it.

This…THIS…is a way to be Jesus to women with one of the most basic needs: a place to live while they raise their sweet blessings.

The Mercy House Kenya fundraiser has been happening for several months already, and what’s exciting is that four of the projects have been fully funded already! So far, we’ve raised money for a new vehicle, a classroom addition, a computer lab, and a new generator. The final phase is raising $53,000 for a second home to help more moms and babies.

Would you like to join and give even a little?

I was thinking the other day of how many times I make a quick drive-through stop for coffee. What if I gave that up for the month (or even the week?) and donated the money to Mercy House Kenya? Every little bit helps, and that’s my challenge for each of you today.

Can you give a little to be part of something HUGE…something that will change so many lives forever?

9656753519_8175759417_zphoto used with permission of Mercy House Kenya

To donate, you can go here or click the link on the sidebar of my blog. (That link will also automatically update if you’d like to track the fundraising progress, too.)

To learn more about Mercy House Kenya and all God is doing, go here.

AND…for those of you who need to finish your Christmas shopping, Mercy House also has a store. :) Proceeds from all sales go to benefit MH…I love that. And I love the beautiful items for sale, too. In fact, I splurged and ordered this T-shirt. (Sshhhh, don’t tell my hubby…though he’ll find out soon enough because it’s going in my stocking! ;))

And, as always, thanks for stopping by, friends! What a gift you can be this Christmas! Will you take up the challenge?

9656775943_97b123b4f1_zphoto used with permission of Mercy House Kenya

*UPDATE* The second house has been completely funded! (It was, in fact, almost completely funded in about 24 hours, give or take a few.) Y’all are Awe.Some. And, because there are so many generous hearts out there, we raised (or rather, GOD raised) an additional $10,000 to furnish the house and money is still pouring in for books and educational materials for these women! (The link still works if you’d like to click over to keep tabs on what is happening or to see how you can help.)

WOW. Watching my Father bless over and over in the last days is such a tangible reminder that He really does MORE than all we ask or imagine.

Praise Him for the Christmas these beautiful mamas and their babies are going to have this year!

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Today is the day when I join some sweet friends at Crystal’s space for Behind the Scenes. We’re sharing the silly and sweet and sometimes-tear-jerking moments that happen behind the camera lens…I hope you’ll take some time and pop over to read some great stories.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them.ย The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

crystalstine.me

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