Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Adventures in Africa

June 14, 2012

It’s hard to believe, but in 42 short days, I’ll be boarding a plane for an exciting adventure in Africa. Along with a few others from my church, I’ve been given the incredible opportunity to travel with my mentors, Dr. Mark and Pam Kuhl, to Kenya from July 26-August 5.

We will partner with Kenya Relief (, an organization founded in 2003 with the mission of living out “pure and undefiled religion” which is “caring for widows and orphans in their distress.”  They are about creating a legacy of hope in the country of Kenya, meeting the needs of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit). I would encourage you to go to their website and look around in order to get a feel for the heart and scope of their ministry. Mark and Pam have been working with Kenya Relief for several years and they truly trust the organization’s heart to serve the people of Kenya.

While in Kenya, we will proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in both word and deed, engaging in a variety of activities that will impact the lives of those we encounter, infuse with energy the efforts of the full-time missionaries, and aid in the spiritual growth of each team member. For example, we will provide basic healthcare services (such as dental care), lead a Vacation Bible School, teach the Scriptures in a local jail, care for orphans, and work to improve the facilities of the Kenya Relief organization.

I truly believe God gives each of us ways to be involved in efforts like this. Some of us are given the opportunity to go, while others have the opportunity to provide prayer support and financial backing. I’d like to invite you to become part of our team as a prayer partner or financial partner. We will need your prayers for the journey ahead and we need financial partners to help our team by sharing in the cost for this trip, which is $3,000 per team member. Through partnering together we will be able to mutually share in the joy of seeing lives changed and the blessings of being used by God for His glory. If you’d like to partner with us in one or both ways, here’s how you can help:

  • Prayer Partner: Simply reply to this post and let me know that you’ll be praying. We’ll be glad to send a list of specific prayer requests so that you can join us in asking God to be at the center of this endeavor. We also plan to provide updates while we’re there, so I’ll be sure you have website information to keep up with the trip.
  • Financial Partner: If you’d like to give online, visit (as a warning: the site isn’t fancy, but it’s legitimate and will serve its purpose). If you’re not comfortable giving online, you can send a check made payable to Redeemer Church (4064 Winter Garden-Vineland Road; Winter Garden, FL 34787). Please include a little note with the check indicating it’s for the Kenya Relief trip.

I am certain that this trip will be transformational for those we serve and those of us serving together as partners on the team. I’ll be sure to follow up with you after the trip and let you know about the experience. Feel free to contact me, should you have any questions or wish to know more about this mission trip.

Thank you for your support and I hope you have a wonderful summer!


2012 Goals

January 5, 2012

It may be obvious that keeping up with this blog does not rank high on my list of priorities. To be perfectly honest, I think I’m kind of over it. But…I do like it for the purpose of keeping up with my goals for the year (just like I did with my recipe goal last year). That’s what I plan to do with it for now: write out my goals for the year and keep track of my progress.

So…here we go:

    • Try at least 52 new recipes.
    • Eat at least one salad per week. (Here’s hoping I can increase that over time, but for someone who dislikes salads, you’ve got to start somewhere.)

    • Read at least one book per month.
    • Read through the Bible chronologically. (Loving the YouVersion app!)
    • Send one hand written note per week.
    • Create a budget and figure out a way to stick to it.


June 2, 2011

Kasey and Matt have a magnet on their fridge that I feel like always stares me down. It says, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I understand the implication of the question…and, also the answers. Every time I see the magnet, different answers pop into my mind. I’ve never wanted to write them down or put them out there because of the implication…because that means it’s something I need to attempt. But, last night I decided I wanted to blog about some of my answers to that question. Whether or not I’ll ever attempt any of them remains to be seen. But, I’ll work on putting my answers out there and see what transpires.

Answers courtesy of Google images. 🙂

Early Memories of Nonprofit Involvement

April 14, 2011

On Tuesday, I went to the first half of a workshop at Rollins College’s Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Center. I’m taking the course to receive a certificate in Volunteer Management. Much of my professional career has been spent in nonprofit organizations, most of which have solid infrastructures in place and I spent two years studying leadership to earn my Master’s degree. However, if you work in nonprofit and want to continue your eduction, I’d recommend looking into the programs Rollins offers. They are reasonably priced, quite comprehensive and a great value (in my opinion).

Anyway…onto the point of this post. At Tuesday’s session, we were asked to reintroduce ourselves after lunch and then share our earliest memory of involvement with nonprofit organizations. Many of the answers were Brownies, Girl Scouts, etc. While I was certainly involved in that, I recalled something earlier than that.

Every year, my Grammy gave us little Coke cans that we used to collect coins to give to the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon missions offerings at church (what’s up, Southern Baptists!!). My Mom would have to give the more approximate age, but I had to have been 4 or 5. I remember that Kati and I always loved doing that. Although we wouldn’t have been able to articulate it this way when we were younger, it must have given us a sense that we were able to give to something greater than ourselves.

After sharing that in our class, my mind started reeling; remembering other volunteer-like opportunities when I was young (young=elementary school)…

  • Going to the nursing home with my grandparents to lead a little church service on Sundays.
  • Collecting food for others less fortunate.
  • Teaching a classmate to speak English after she was adopted from a Spanish speaking country.
  • Giving change to the Salvation Army at Christmas time…AND ringing the bell at those collection points with my Grandaddy.

In the class, the point of this exercise was to cause you to think how early you’d allow children to have some kind of interaction with your nonprofit. But, for those of us with influence in lives of little ones, it also caused me to think: What are you doing to introduce the idea of giving to the little ones who are looking at your example? They’ll think back on it one day. And, will they have a worthy example to follow?

So…I’d love to hear…

  • What’s your earliest memory of involvement in a nonprofit organization?
  • And/or what opportunities are you giving your kids (or the kids who you interact with) to learn the importance of giving back?


This Day Five Years Ago

March 8, 2011

You know…I remember A LOT about the day Paul was born.
I mean A LOT.

…Mom calling at 6-something-AM to say, “Come on! Today’s the day!”
…Throwing stuff in a bag and racing up to Orlando from West Palm.
…Lunch at a “fancy” McDonald’s near the hospital.
…Going to Ross to get more comfortable pants because I was so tired of wearing jeans.
…Dinner at Boston Market.
…Watching my sister become my hero. (Bringing a kid into the world is hard work!)
…Holding my sweet nephew for the first time.

Every year on his birthday, though, I always remember a lot about this day…the day after his birthday.

Sweet Little Paulie

…Bringing the world’s largest balloon to my sister’s room in the hospital.
…Holding that sweet boy as much as I could.
…Taking more pictures than any less than 24-hour old baby should have to endure.
…Loving the way his little legs stayed bent at the knees while he slept.
…Having to say goodbye…At some point that afternoon, I left to drive back to West Palm to be at work later that night (Wednesdays = church those days). I cried and cried and cried as I drove. I called my Mom, unable to speak. Which of course had her panicking, saying, “Are you ok? ARE YOU OK?!” I was SO sad to leave that day, even though I would be coming back a little more than a week later to stay for a whole week. I begged God to let me move home. I cried thinking about our Grammy and Grandaddy, knowing they would have loved our family’s sweet new boy. I was such a proud aunt, but I was so heartbroken to be three hours away. I sat in my boss’s office before church and just cried as I showed him pictures of my sweet little nephew. I just wanted to be home. He was gracious enough to offer to let me go ahead and go, but I knew I had a responsibility. So I stayed. And kept begging God to give me the opportunity to move back to Orlando so that I could be closer to my family. Almost three years from that day, I was given that opportunity and five years later, I’m so grateful for that.

Love This.

March 2, 2011

Saw this on another blog tonight. Love it.


The Last 55 Hours

February 23, 2011

Good grief. It’s been a crazy couple of days…55ish hours to be exact.

Starting on Monday around Noon…

While at a movie with Kimberly, I received a text from a coworker letting me know Kasey seemed upset and was crying. I tried texting Kasey, but didn’t hear back. A few minutes later I got a call from Kasey’s phone. I ran out of the theater and heard her boss on the other end. Kasey’s phone gets horrible service at the Village, so all I could hear her boss say was, “Kasey……..collapse…….hospital.” And, I did hear her say they couldn’t get ahold of Matt. I let her know I would be right there. I left the movie and headed straight to the Village, calling Matt along the way. Matt let me know that Kasey’s Dad had been rushed to the hospital that morning. After learning about her Dad, I understood why Kasey was so upset at work.

Matt and I got to the Village within minutes of each other. Matt was able to drive Kasey home and I went back to my apartment to get ready for work later that afternoon.

While I was at work, my stomach started to bother me. Based on the heartburn/stomach issues I’ve been having lately it wasn’t that out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, this was a different kind of pain. To make a long (disgusting) story short, I managed to leave work early and make it home. After three hours of sickness, I became dehydrated and passed out briefly a few times. I barely managed to call 911 and was later transported by ambulance to the hospital.


Yep...that's a hospital bracelet.

My parents made it to the hospital right after I did. Kasey and Matt followed right behind them. I think I actually laughed when Kasey and Matt came in the room. I think I said, “You guys didn’t need to come!” I remember thinking that they were in the midst of their own crisis and they didn’t need to bother with being at the hospital with me right now.

During my 6-ish hours in the hospital, I received two bags of fluids and a few medicines. Finally around 5am, things were under control enough for me to go home. Mom, Dad and I came back to my house and went back to sleep. Dad left for work a little while later, but Mom and I slept until about 11. I woke up for about an hour and then went back to sleep. I slept away most of Tuesday.

My parents took such good care of me. I am so grateful that they were able to come and help me. I would have been so scared by myself. And the “taking care of” part wasn’t so glamorous…just ask my Mom. Thanks Dad and Mom! (And thanks to SO many others who offered help. Such a blessing.)

Today, I’ve been feeling better as the day’s gone on. I woke up around 8am with a headache. I took some medicine, ate something and went back to sleep until after 11am. I’m planning on going to work on Thursday and hoping to see a doctor for follow-up on Friday.

Back to Kasey and her Dad…

Kasey was able to fly home on Tuesday morning to be with her family. Another long story short…here’s the latest straight from Kasey’s Facebook…

Dad has been diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Polycythemia which triggered the stroke (mid brain). He still has pneomonia and possibly encephalitis. They have put in a breathing tube and now a feeding tube. A kidney specialist is coming in this afternoon. Still waiting for the test results to show if its bacterial or viral. Now it is just a long, game of waiting. Also continuing to trust that Daddy is in the hands of an All-Powerful, Almighty God who heals and works miracles everyday. We still covet your prayers. JR has arrived and has been a huge encouragement to us all. Trying to stay strong and know God is in control. Please keep praying. Thank you for all your prayers, kind words and texts….they really do mean so much.

There is so much that’s unknown right now, but we are trusting God for a miracle and trusting Him to heal her dad, Dave. If you’re reading this, please continue to keep Dave (and Kasey’s family) in your prayers. We know God can heal him, and that’s what we’re asking.

Random Randomness

February 1, 2011

Well…it’s just fun to do a real random post every once in a while. Here we go…

1. Downtown Celebration is so nice. Today, I took a walk from my apartment to downtown Celebration. It’s about a five minute walk and I need to do it more often. I met a friend for lunch and then walked to Starbucks, got a hot chocolate and then sat out around the lake for a little bit. There were all kinds of people out and about. Some reading, some walking, some chatting and some just watching the ducks enjoy the sunny day.

2. I love that in each of my circles of friends there are long-time jokes that cause all of us to laugh even years later. For example, if I said, “Pink Pantster” to any of the Chanda girls, they would laugh and know exactly the event I was referring to from over ten years ago. The same would be true if I said, “Five Dollar Foot Longs” to Josh, Kami, Chad, Kasey or Matt. I love that.

3. Kati made me a pot holder from Lilly Pulitzer fabric scraps. She tried her hand at some new sewing methods in the process. It’s super cute and I love it.

4. Even though I see it every day at work, I will never get “used to” sick kids. You would think that seeing kids day in and day out who are fighting for their lives would become “normal.” After more than a year of working at Give Kids The World, I can say that has not been the case for me. While most days I feel happy, rewarding feelings knowing these families are making such incredible memories in a positive and hope-filled environment, I also have days where I find myself over and over saying, “Really, God?” I had one of those days a few days ago. There’s so much about childhood sickness that just doesn’t seem fair.

5. Speaking of Give Kids The World, if you don’t know much about it or if you just want to get a better glimpse into the place I work, check out this video. It originally aired on the Today Show, but I think it gives such a good overview of the Village. 🙂

6. We’ve added a new onesie design to our Etsy shop! It was inspired by our friend, and very loyal TFG fan, Babita. The “Playful Elephant” onesie is super cute and available in tons of different fabric options. We’re also still doing our Anniversary Sale in the shop (through Saturday) and there’s still time to enter our giveaway on Facebook.

Top Ten

December 29, 2010

Often, my sister asks Paul what his favorite part of his day was. I was thinking about that on Christmas Eve as I was driving home from dinner and presents at my parents’ house. I decided I couldn’t choose just one favorite thing from Christmas Eve 2010. It seemed that a “Top Ten” list of sorts was in order. So…here goes…

My Top Ten Favorites of Christmas Eve 2010

10. Doing laundry at Mom & Dad’s. My new place has a washer and dryer, but it’s downstairs in the landlord’s house and I kind of have to coordinate laundry times with them. Bringing my laundry to Christmas Eve just seemed so much simpler. 🙂

9. Getting home in 45 minutes. Even though I’ve lived in Orlando for two years now, I still love the fact that I can get to my parents’ house in 45 minutes rather than 3 hours. It’s so wonderful.

8. Starting the day with brunch at the Ainsley’s. Kasey & Matt normally do a big breakfast on Christmas morning, but since Kasey was working, they opted for Christmas Eve this year. They invited several people over and it was lots of fun.

7. Getting new Magic shirts and Dad being clueless. Kati and I got Dad tickets to an upcoming Magic game. But we got enough that everyone could go with him (except Cadence). I told Mom she should get everyone new Magic shirts for Christmas and we’d have Dad open the tickets last. I thought for sure he’d catch on at some point. But admittedly, when we were done with presents (and Dad had the tickets) he said, “I just thought we were all getting new shirts. I mean…we haven’t had new Magic shirts for a while and the team is doing really good, so it makes sense!” Love it.


6. Singing Feliz Navidad with Paulie. The kid continues to amaze me. Feliz Navidad came on and he started singing. So…I thought it was only appropriate that we take a break from presents to sing it at the top of our lungs while dancing. Cadence tried to get in on the dancing action too. Love love love.

5. Eating good food. Give me chicken and dumplings on Christmas Eve and I’m a happy camper. We also got to enjoy some of our friend Lisa’s WONDERFUL pound cake.

4. Watching Paul start to figure out names other than his own. Since last year he’s been very good at picking out his name on the presents and this year was no exception. He’d find a present with “Paul” and say “this belongs to me!” He also saw an envelope that said “Roger Paul” and said, “that belongs to me!” I laughed and explained that his Pops’ last name was the same as Paul’s first name. He seems very perplexed by this.

3. Hanging out with Cadence during church. Being that she’s only 14 months old, she wasn’t too fond of much of the church service. She wasn’t bad, but she just didn’t want to be sitting down. We hung out in the back of the sanctuary for part of the time, dancing along to the music and looking at the lights. We also roamed the lobby and ran into her Aunt Sarah. Because Northland uses battery operated candles, Cadence opted to hold two candles at the end of the service. She was hilarious.

Sweet girl.

2. Giving and receiving fun gifts. Kati got me a new mug and pictures of the kids appear when I pour a hot drink into it. LOVE it. Mom and Dad gave me a KitchenAid mixer. I was so surprised and excited! I can’t wait to put it to work! Cadence got a very cool pink kitchen that my Dad and Kati made for her. So fun! Via Santa, I gave Paul a pair of Buzz “glubs” (Paul speak for gloves). He was thrilled. He’d been asking for a pair since getting his Buzz costume at Halloween, so he was very excited. One of my most favorite gifts was an ornament Paul made, and while I love the ornament, I mostly loved that he “wrapped” it himself. He wrote my name and his name on the bag he put the ornament in. I just loved that.

Love it.

Buzz Glubs!

1. Being with my family. The more life I’ve lived, the more I realize the most important things in life are relationships–with God and others. I consider it a blessing that I get to spend Christmas with my family and we enjoy it. It’s not dreaded. It’s fun! 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in Pictures

December 14, 2010

I like doing these posts. It’s fun to look at old pictures and think on the great memories. I did summer and fall versions, and now I’ll focus on Christmas. Without further ado…a handful of my favorite Christmas photos.

2005: Starbucks Hot Chocolate in Central Park. With Kasey...and snow.

2005: Rockefeller Center with Jen and Kasey.

2005: The Year I Decided We Should Have Matching PJs. (I'll let you guess if that ever happened again.)

2006: OMgggggg. One of my most favorite of all time. Christmas nap with little tiny Paulie.

2007: Friends/Former Small Group. Just always loved this one.

2008: So excited for some icing!

2008: The first time we made Paul-friendly sugar cookies. Yay! Paul was in charge of the sprinkles.

2008: Warming our feet by the fire.

2008: Christmas Eve Eve. There's not much that's more precious than this.

2008: Yes, she does. (He got one in every size.)

2009: Sweet Cadence's First Christmas.

2009: So excited that Santa brought Buzz!

2009: Christmas Morning with the Ainsleys.