Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Break Family Fun "Stay-cation" Ideas

Hey Friends! Happy Spring Break to you!

Spring Break for our family starts this Friday, April 2 - April 11th. Last winter we did the family Disney trip, so this year we'll be staying home in good ole Grand Rapids, Michigan.

No worries! I've come up with a Spring Break "Stay-cation" plan. I believe with some advance planning and creativity, we can make Spring Break as much fun as a week at Disneyworld (but for a lot less $$)!! Woo Hoo!!

(A quick disclaimer....I've tried to think of things that you could participate in regardless of the city you live in. For my Grand Rapids friends, many of the ideas have links that will lead you to more specific times and information. For all of the ideas, I tried to think of inexpensive ideas ~ if it costs more than $5 per person, I did not include it on the list).

Here are some Spring Break ideas from A to Z....

A - Apple Orchard ~ Head to the Apple Orchard in the morning, and then spend the afternoon making some yummy homemade apple goodies OR turn your backyard/garage into your own Art Camp (ideas here)

B- Bowling; Bike rides

C - Camp-out in the Family Room. Grab your sleeping bags, flashlights, and smores, and get ready for fun! (more camping ideas here)

D - Dance Party ~ Find some fun 70's or 80's music, crank it up, and let the fun begin!

E - Earth Day (celebrate Earth Day early this year, ideas here) OR Eat out (the food court at the mall is always a fun experience for kids)

F- Family Fun Night ~ Invite over another family for food, fun, and fellowship!

G - Game Night ~ Have everyone pick a favorite board game to play.
(More Game Night ideas here)

H - Hawaiian party ~ Host your own indoor luau! Grab a beach towel, bathing suit, beach ball, and any leis you might have around your house ~ and let the fun begin! You can even play Hawaii Bingo (More Hawaii ideas here)

I - Indoor picnic (don't forget your plastic ants ~ smile)

J - Jump rope (complete with your favorite jump rope songs here)

K - Krispy Kreme doughnuts ~ wait until the Krispy Kreme light is on, and then go in for your free doughnut!

L - Letterboxing ~ If you haven't tried Letterboxing before, you must! (Get started here or our family's letterboxing fun here)

M - Movie Night ~ Fun FamilyMovie Night ideas here or here

N - Nature Walk ~ Enjoy the beautiful weather with a Nature Walk! Give each of the kids a brown lunch bag with items listed on it to collect and/or discover. (Also, if you live in the Grand Rapids area, click here to join the Connect with Nature Challenge! It sounds great!)

O - Opposite Day ~ Do everything backwards! Eat breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast!

P - Pizza Party ~ Let the kids make their own pizza ~ more ideas here!

Q - Quiet time ~ head to your local library for some quiet reading and/or story time activities. (The link for Kent District Library events ~ here)

R - Road trip ~ Let the kids help plan a Road Trip! Depending on your financial situation and the ages of your children, you can plan a Road Trip near or far. Do you have a relative or friend you could visit? A park you've always wanted to experience? Maybe it's time for a Road Trip! Remember, part of the fun is in the planning ~ so let everyone look at the maps, write out the itnerary, pack the snacks, bring activities for the car, and more! What fun! :)

S - Sundae Night (our family's Sundae Night ideas here
) OR Spring Scavenger Hunt (ideas here)

T - Treasure Hunt (My favorite treasure hunt clues are found here. I use them all the time! My kids love Treasure hunts ~ so do their friends) or host a Tea Party (ideas here)

U - Underwater activities ~ Find a local indoor swimming pool and swim, swim, swim! Another idea...we sometimes go to to bid on a hotel for the night. In Grand Rapids, you can stay at a nice 3 star hotel for $40. The kids love it ~ they swim for hours and hours!!

V - Volunteer. I usually invite a friend's 3 kids over for the day to provide free child care while she works. Or you could rake some leaves. Walk a neighbor's dog. Pick up trash. The ideas are endless...

W - Walk! Walk to the nearest park. Or walk around the block backwards. Get some fresh air :)

X - eXercise. Set up a family exercise experience! (Get started here)

Y - YMCA. Go to the YMCA or another local gym. Many will let you try their facility for free for the day.

Z - Head to the Zoo! :) (John Ball Park link here)

Woo Hoo!! I'm excited for my Spring Break "Stay-cation" already!!

What a perfect opportunity to enjoy our children and participate in many of the outings and activities we can’t fit into our school-day schedule. Let's make our ordinary spring break days "extraordinary"!! :)

So, what do you have planned for the week?? Any fun ideas you'd like to share?? I can't wait to hear more about your Spring Break "stay-vacation!".

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!

May your Spring Break be filled to the brim with much joy, laughter, and fun, family moments!!

P.S. A special thanks to Kaboose, Family Fun, Chocolate Cake Moments, Parents Magazine and more for letting me share some of your fun family ideas!

Marriage Mondays: Marriage Conference Tickets GIVEAWAY

Today I am thrilled to join my dear bloggy friend Julie from Come Have A Peace for Marriage Mondays! In fact, I've also guest posted over at her place today, so please stop by and say hello to one of my dearest bloggy friends! :) (You can hop over to Julie's here)

It's Marriage Monday ~ Woo Hoo!! :) As I've mentioned before, please know I am not a marriage expert. I'm just a girl who loves Jesus and wants to follow Him and His Word in all areas of my life. I've been so blessed with a wonderful Godly husband and desire to love and serve him all the days of my life! :)

John and I have been on quite an adventure in our marriage. This August we will celebrate 10 years together ~ yippee! :) But please know, over the past decade, we have experienced quite a "ride:...filled with twists and turns and highs and lows. In fact, a few years ago, we found ourselves at a spot that I didn't think we would/could make it through. Unfortunately, the dreaded "D" word (yes, divorce) entered my vocabulary.

(You can read more of that part of our journey over at Julie's place today).

Thankfully, God has breathed new life into our marriage. With God's divine intervention and a ton of support from our family, friends, and church, our marriage is in a very healthy place today (Thank You, God!).

Imagine my surprise when God started to open doors for me to share our marriage journey with others. First it was 1:1 encouragement to other women. Soon I was sharing a message of hope in hard times at MOPS gatherings. And now, most recently, I've been asked to speak at A Woman Inspired - One Marriage on-line conference this May (details here).

(On a side note ~ I had the joy of participating in my first on-line conference a few weeks ago, and it was amazing!! It's just like listening to your favorite speakers on-line, but you get to interact with them as well. PLUS, the on-line fellowship is so much fun! If you haven't tried an on-line conference yet, please give it a try! SO MUCH FUN!)

And guess what?? I have 5 tickets to GIVEAWAY so that 5 bloggy friends can participate in the on-line Marriage Conference for free!! Woo Hoo!!

I'm also desperately trying to think of a title for my talk ~ so I thought I would combine the two, because I really need your help!! I am the WORST at thinking of creative titles. Can you please assist me??

I am sensing that my talk will include...

* The visual of Marriage being like a roller coaster
* Our journey from brokenness to healing
* Jesus :)

Are there other questions you have about marriage that you would like to have answered?? Do you have any other ideas for me to share?? I'd love your insights!! ::)

So back to the GIVEAWAY...

To Win my Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering one of these questions:

What would be a creative title for my marriage talk?

What question do you think I should answer during my talk?

What verse has helped you the most on your marriage journey?

RULES: Starts today, Monday, March 29th and ends Thursday, April 1st at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog on Friday, April 2nd.

If your email address is not connected to your ID, please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at with the subject "Giveaway".

I can't wait to hear from you!! Have a GREAT week!!

Thanks for stopping by * She Sparkles*! God's richest blessings to you! :)

P.S. If you didn't get a chance to read last week's Marriage post on Prayer, may I encourage you to check it out here. Prayer works, of this I am sure!! :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Icebreaker Time! :)

Hey Bloggy Friends! Happy Weekend to you!!

I've been thinking about you all...and how much you bless me! I love reading your comments and notes when you stop by....and your feedback and encouragement means more than you know!

I'd love to get to know you better too!!
So here's a fun "icebreaker" for us to get to know each other better! :)
Please answer the following question....(are you ready?!)

What is on your Refrigerator??

I once heard that you can tell a lot about a person's personality by looking at the outside of their refrigerator (probably the inside too, but that's for another day.....).

So, I'm curious...if I stopped by your house, what would I find on the outside of your refrigerator?? Do you think it reflects you and your personality??

If you were to look at my refrigerator, you'd find....

* Family pics
* Scripture Verses
* A Prayer Guide ~ 31 Days of Praying for My Kids
* A Running training schedule (that I followed for 2 days)
* A Tic-Tac-Toe decoration left over from Valentine's Day
* Artwork from my kids
* The word, "Shalom"

I took a picture just for you! I was tempted to straighten it up, but wanted to be "authentic" with you :)

My refrigerator is kind of random and full right now ~ kind of like my life :) I'd say it represents me well :)

What about for you?? What's on the outside of your refrigerator today??
Please play along! I'd love to hear from you! :)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!! May your days be filled with much love, laughter, joy, and God's richest blessings!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thankful Thursday ~ Top 5

Hello dear Bloggy friends! Is it Thursday already?? Wow! It's been such a full week! I'm exhausted today (anybody else??)...but filled with such gratitude and joy!

I couldn't decide on one thing to share for Thankful, instead...

Here's my Thankful Thursday Top 5 list! :)

1. I'm healthy! My family is healthy!! Woo Hoo!! This makes me want to jump for Joy!! :)

2. I'm thankful to have the opportunity to share at the upcoming A Women Inspired "One Marriage" on-line conference this coming May 10th -12th!

God has done such a miracle in my marriage ~ and I'm humbled and grateful for the chance to share a message of hope at this conference. (I'm also grateful to have 5 tickets to giveaway ~ watch for more details soon!). Until then, you can go here for more information on this exciting Marriage Conference!

3. I'm so grateful for our Magnificent Monday Bible Study!

This past Monday night wrapped up our winter session. I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to journey with these amazing ladies!

We ended the night with an exercise similar to the “cardboard testimonies
” (maybe you did this at your church before??). We had the women write a lie they came to the study believing, and then a Truth on the other side of their card. At closing, we all stood in a circle and read our cards aloud. To see 70+ beautiful daughters of the King share such painful hurtful lies (like ugly, stupid, rejected, weak, fat, failure, etc.) was almost too much for my heart to bear!

BUT PRAISE HIM for TRUTH and ITS ability to set us FREE!! Many, many tears were shared. God was at work in our midst, of this I am sure!!! What a powerful night!

(We'll be starting a new Spring session Monday, April 12th - Monday, May 10th. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, we would love to have you join us! Please feel free to contact me for more information!)

4. I'm thankful for the transformation God has done in my life!

Tuesday evening I had the chance to share my story with some dear ladies from 4th Reformed Church at their annual Spring "Tea & Tables". What a blessing!

I am so grateful to the Lord for redeeming my life from the pit and giving me a firm place to stand and for the new song He has given me! (If you've not heard my story, a recap is here.)

Thanks, Leslie, for being such a wonderful hostess! :)

5. Rest & Renewal

I love having the opportunity to share God's Truth, goodness, and faithfulness with others ~ but today I am thankful my schedule is free for the next few weeks.

My commitment to my famiy is that I will only be gone one night per week (Monday nights). Unfortunately, this week I was gone 2 nights, and this is what I found in my little Sarah's bed the next morning....

She had gone to bed with my picture next to her pillow!! Talk about breaking my heart!

I'm thankful that for the next few weeks I can rest, hang out with my family, put away my snowmen and pull out our Easter decorations, and just "hang out" (and do some intense studying/praying while everyone is at school). I'm also thankful to serve a God who cares about our "whole being" ~ physically, emotionally, and spiritually...and leads us beside quiet waters to restore our soul!!!

What about for you, friend?? What are you Thankful for Today?? I'd love to hear from you!!!

I'm also thanking God for YOU and asking Him to bless you and fill your life with His inexpressible, glorious joy!!

Blessings to you!!

P.S. A huge note of thanks to Laurie
for hosting Thankful Thursday!

P.S.S. The winner of the Start Here book is Jennifer from Zaankalis Adventures. Congratulations! :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Marriage Mondays: PRAY! :)

If you haven't entered my Start Here Book Giveaway, it's not too late! Click here for more information! :)

Today I am thrilled to join my dear bloggy friend
Julie from Come Have A Peace for Marriage Mondays!

First, I should let you know ~ I am not a marriage expert. I am not a trained therapist or counselor. I've not written any profound marriage books. I am just a simple girl, passionately in love with Jesus and my man, trying to figure out how to enjoy marriage and celebrate life together. Thankfully, by God's grace, we will celebrate 10 years together this August! (Can I get a "woo hoo"?!)

I wish I could tell you it's been 9 1/2 years of pure bliss ~ but I'd be lying. I now look at my marriage sort of like a roller coaster ~ an adventure filled with its ups (and downs), twists and turns, excitement and fun, and unfortunately, sometimes, hang on tight, "why did I say yes to this thing?!" times as well.

Thankfully, John and I are enjoying a "Wow, this is fun" season ~ but that's not always been the case (more on that subject next week...)

For today, I want to share the number one thing I've learned to strengthen our marriage over the past almost-decade of marriage ~ the power of prayer!

Years ago, I read Stormie Omartian's book the The Power of a Praying Wife. (If you haven't read it before, please go here ~ you can read/download the first chapter!) Stormie does an awesome job of reminding us of the power and importance of lifting our husbands in prayer.

After a very difficult season of our marriage in (that we weren't sure we were going to make it through) ~ I made a promise that I would pray for John and our marriage every single day.

Unfortunately, at first, I struggled with how to make my promise a reality. You know how it goes ~ life gets busy, right? Kids take up our time, energy, affection. Family members get sick. Life keeps going. We get sidetracked with so many other things to do.

But what I've learned is this....I must make time to pray for John and our marriage. Even if it's while I'm brushing my teeth, washing the dishes, or sick on the couch ~ I've made the predetermined decision, regardless of my circumstances, I will pray for my husband and our marriage every single day.

Like Nike says, "Just do it" :)

If you feel like it or not....

If he was loving this morning or not...

If he's praying for you or not....


One thing that has really helped me make my promise a reality is my Prayer Guide (click here for my Prayer Guide recap).

Using my prayer guide, I can look at John as I pray, record my prayers, and have a list of specific things to pray for him. (See the yellow post-it notes in the pic? My little Sarah used to sit on my lap while I prayed for "Daddy" and write out her prayers too. Aren't her little notes sweet??)

(In the picture on the left is a download called 31 Days of Praying for Your Husband. You can print it off here)

Please know, I do not use my Prayer Guide everyday (I sure wish I did). There are some days that my prayer time is while I walk the dog, or sit at the bus stop waiting for the kids ~ but thankfully, I can see the FRUIT from committing to praying for our marriage and John every single day. Prayer has breathed new, fresh life into a marriage that was fading fast. Prayer works...of this I am sure!

What about for you?? What have you found has been helpful to strengthen your marriage?? I'd love to hear from you! Also, be sure to join Julie at Marriage Mondays for more great marriage tips!!

Many blessings to you this week!! Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!

P.S. I was recently asked to share at an upcoming on-line Marriage Conference. I'll be sharing more about it in the next few days, but if you want a sneak peek, check it out here!! Woo Hoo! :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Caffeinated Randomness: The Good News & The Bad News

Hello dear friends!! Happy Spring to you!!

Today I'm joining Andrea from
Under Grace & Over Coffee for a little Caffeinated Randomness. After my week, randomness sounds perfect! :)

I'll start with some good news and some sad news.....

First, the good news! As you may remember, this week I was asked to speak at the
"A Woman Inspired ~ Get Revived!" on-line conference.

Since this was my first on-line conference and I am scared of technology, I felt way in over my head. Plus, I was filling in for a cancellation, so I just had 6 days to prepare! Yikes!

And then, of all things, on Tuesday I came down with a horrible head cold. I was miserable! I sent e-mails out to my prayer warriors and pleaded with them to pray!! 30 minutes before I was to start my presentation, I literally threw myself on my bathroom floor and begged the Lord for His intervention. And guess what...He showed up BIG TIME!!

Once I got through my introduction, the Lord took over!! Woo Hoo!! I was able to share with clarity and boldness. There were no technical difficulties. And I didn't even sneeze or cough one time!! Isn't God awesome??! When we are weak, He shows up STRONG!!
And that's good news!!

And now for the sad news...

You probably remember I've been planning my St. Patrick's Day Family Fun party for weeks. Obviously I was too sick on Wednesday, and had to cancel. Bummer!! The kids had no green pancakes. No shamrock sandwiches. (I did send a shamrock napkin with their lunch). No party. I didn't wear green ~ I was in my pajama's all day! I didn't even have the energy to put on my shamrock socks. It was a sad day. :(

Thankfully, my dear friend Amy sent me this fun note and pictures...

"Cindy, here's a couple of pics to brighten your day and remind you how you just being you brings joy, fun, and love into families everywhere!

My daugher Dylann was so excited about this "green" day ~ it's all b/c of you and your faithfulness to share your journey..!

I was putting together a clover shaped sandwich and Dylann was sitting on the floor in the kitchen and said "You are the best mom ever!" paused and went on to say... "well, except Mrs. Bultema, she does all this cool stuff and shares the ideas!"

Thanks Hodgkinson Family! Your adorable pics and cute note brightened my day!! :)

Aren't those pictures fun??! Thanks so much for sharing!! :)

And lastly, one more random note...I'm excited for tomorrow. In the morning, I'm headed to Ada Bible Church (my home church) for Hearts Alive Extreme! ~ a day long Women's Ministry Event! It'll be fun to hang out with good friends, and just sit and enjoy Worship Leader & Speaker Gwen Smith. I heard she's fabulous! :)

And in the evening, the family and I will head to Family Fun Night at my little kids' school. What a GREAT day!! Thankfully, my cold is getting better (kinda. I'll bring sanitizer, promise!). It should be a Super Saturday!!

What about for you?? What do you have planned this weekend?? Do you have any special "1st Day of Spring" Traditions?? What will make your Saturday special?? I'd love to hear from you!!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!! May the Lord bless you with His presence and His peace in ever-increasing measure!!

P.S. Thanks again to Andrea at Under Grace & Over Coffee for hosting the Caffeinated Randomness. I had the chance to hear Andrea share her heart this week at the "A Women Inspired Conference" ~ and she is the most gracious, tenderhearted woman ever! Be sure to stop by her blog ~ I'm sure you will enjoy it! :)

Start Here ~ Book Review & GIVEAWAY

Have you read any new good books lately?? :)

One of the many blessings of *She Sparkles* is the opportunity to read and review new books! And my favorite part is sharing the blessing with you, my dear bloggy friend, with book giveways!!

I was thrilled when I was recently asked to participate in a Blog Tour featuring Alex and Brett Harris! I first heard about these young authors from my best friend Julie. Julie was raving about a book she was reading called Do Hard Things. One day I picked up this book while I was at the bookstore ~ and spent the next 4 hours devouring it! It is fantastic! Check it out ~ and then be amazed (like me) that these brothers wrote this book when they were eighteen!!

Imagine my delight when I was asked to review their latest book
Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are. Here's a brief summary:

"You want to do hard things.
But you don't know where to start.

You are changing the world around you.
But you are tired and burned out.

You feel called to do the extraordinary for God.
But you feel stuck in the ordinary.

Are you ready to take the next step and blast past mediocrity for the glory of God? Start here.

Do Hard Things inspired thousands of young people around the world to make the most of the teen years. Now Alex and Brett Harris are back and ready to tackle the questions... How do I get started? What do I do when I get discouraged?.... Filled with stories and insights from Alex, Brett, and other real-life rebelutionaires, START HERE is a powerful and practical guide to doing hard things, right where you are"

I loved this book! Although the target audience is much younger than my age group, I would recommend this book to everyone! I want to sit and read it with my son Jake who is 15. I want to read it with my husband and dream about how our family can change the world. And I want you to check it out ~ especially the list of 100 Hard Things you can do (to impact the Kingdom)! Once you read this little book, you too will be inspired to do hard things, right where you are.

Obviously I'm thrilled to be able to send a copy of this book to a *She Sparkles* reader. :)

To Win my Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

What's the latest book you read that inspired/encouraged you??

RULES: Starts today, Friday, March 19th and ends Tuesday, March 23rd at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog on Wednesday, March 24th.

If your email address is not connected to your ID, please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at with the subject "Giveaway".

I can't wait to hear from you!! Have a GREAT weekend!!

Thanks for stopping by * She Sparkles*! God's richest blessings to you! :)

P.S. To learn more about the authors, Alex and Brett Harris, click here.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Random Dozen: St. Patrick's Day Edition!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you!! :) If you are looking for fun, family~friendly St. Patrick's Day ideas, it's not too late ~ click here. :)

This week I'm so excited and thrilled to participate in the "A Woman Inspired/Get Revived" On-line Conference! I've enjoyed listening to some AMAZING speakers, and can hardly wait until Thursday ~ when I get to share my message, "Who did Christ make YOU to be? Come unveil the TRUE you!" I'd love to have you join us (you can listen on-line from the comfort of your own home ~ it's awesome!) Click here for more details!

And of course today we are celebrating Saint Patrick's Day! I thought it would be a perfect day for some "randomness". Enjoy the Random Dozen: Saint Patrick's Day edition! When you are finished reading, be sure to play along ~ especially question # 12!

1. On a scale of 1-10, how superstitious are you, honestly?

Superstitious ~ not all all. 0.

2. Julius Caesar is quoted as saying, "I came, I saw, I conquered." Which circumstance or experience of yours does this saying best describe?

Wow, this question is kind of deep! I think it might describe the first time I attended Carol Kent's Speak Up with Confidence seminar. I was so nervous to go and discover if God was calling me to a speaking ministry.

At the conference, you have to bring prepared little speeches, and then present them, as well as get critiqued and evaluated by your peers. I found out right before I was to share that Carol Kent herself would be the head leader of my small group. I was a nervous wreck!

I went into the bathroom to put on lipstick and I was shaking so bad it took two hands to do my lip liner! I prayed like crazy and asked God to help me not make a fool of myself!!

When I stood at the podium, God took over. I spoke with more passion and enthusiasm than ever. As I walked down the stage, Carol Kent stood to her feet and said, "Who are you?? What do you do??" I replied, "ummm, I'm a mom". She said, "I think we need to stop right now and lay hands on you. I sense God has a very special plan for you." The women in my group circled me and prayed for me while tears just streamed down my cheeks.

Yes, at that conference...I came, I saw, and boy did I conquer my fears ~ with God's help, of course!! :)

3. If I peeked in on your day like a mischievous little leprechaun, at what time would I most likely find you blogging?

After the kids are in bed ~ 9:00 PM or so

4. Re springing forward for Daylight Saving Time, is there anything you've ever been really early or really late for?

No ~ although we did all oversleep this past Monday.

5. What are you most looking forward to concerning Spring?

Bike rides and walks with friends :) I'd say 'flowers' if someone would come help me plant some! :)

6. Shamrocks are the national flower of Ireland and are picked on St. Patrick's Day and worn on the lapel or shoulder. Do you wear green on St. Patty's Day?

Easy answer....YES :)

7. One of Caesar's assassins, Casca, said, "But, for my own part, it was Greek to me," which of course means he didn't understand something. Probably his own lines in the play. Anyway, what is something that is "Greek to you," something incomprehensible or indecipherable?

Yes, gardening. I don't even know the difference between annuals and perennials :)

8. Is March behaving more like a lion or a lamb where you live?

Lamb. :) I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So far we've been blessed with great spring~like weather. (Although now they're saying snow this weekend!)

9. "An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later." -Winston Churchill. If you had one extra hour per day every day, what would you do with it?

Hang out with my family :)

10. Legend says that every Leprechaun has a pot of gold hidden deep in the Irish countryside. Aside from real gold or money, what material item would be in your dream pot of gold?

You know, if I found a Treasure chest filled with a venti Starbucks latte, a gift card to Qdoba, a new Beth Moore book, and a journal, I'd be a blessed woman! :)

11. "The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you." Robert Louis Stevenson. Look around you right now and tell us about something essential or beautiful very near you that you take for granted every day.

Our home. :)

12. Just for a bit o' fun, click here and then report your Irish name.

Gemma O Connell. How fun! :)

OK friends ~ your turn to play along!! Pick at least one question and play along! I'd love to hear from you!!!

Have a GREAT rest of your week!! Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

P.S. As always, a huge thanks to Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee for hosting the Random Dozen each week. Click over and check out some of the other great blogs playing along! And feel free to link up and join the fun! :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Come Join Me!!

If you are looking for fun, family~friendly St. Patrick's Day ideas, click here. :)

Sunday Night UPDATE : The 5 Ticket winners are:
Jenny C.
Jen T.
Amy H.
Matt & Renee

Thank you to all who entered the Giveaway!

(Ticket winners, please watch your e-mail inbox ~ you should be receiving more information from A Woman Inspired soon!)

Hey Bloggy Friends!

I am THRILLED to share with you some GREAT stuff taking place this week!!

I was recently asked to be a speaker at this week's "Be A Woman Inspired - Get Revived!" on-line conference. I'm so excited and humbled to be a part of the line-up for this I have 5 tickets to giveaway today!! Woo Hoo!! :)

First, here's more about the conference....

A Woman Inspired ~ Get Rived! Conference
March 15-19 2010

"This conference is all about giving you a spiritual dose of adrenaline! Maybe you are concerned about your calling or perhaps you are afraid to begin walking toward what God has for you. Maybe your faith has taken a nose dive and you need to be pointed back in the direction of our Lord Jesus. Or, it could be that you just need someone to tell you that it is okay that you failed but you need to get back up! It happens to all of us. This conference is for any woman in need of revival in her spirit!"

Sounds awesome, huh?! :)

I am super excited and completely humbled to a speaker at the conference, especially when I saw the great line up of women speaking.
(You can check out the speakers here). What fun! :)

Plus, I get to share right after Kelly Minter, the author of No Other Gods ~ one of my all-time favorite Bible studies. I'm thrilled ~ but yet my stomach hurts like crazy (ever had that before??!!)

AND...they gave me 5 tickets to give away for FREE ~but, I have to choose winners TODAY (since the conference starts this Monday!)

Please leave a comment on this post and I will choose 5 winners by 9:00 PM tonight ~ Sunday, March 14th.

Here's what you can experience as a ticket holder:

•Live sessions, entirely online, with some of the Christian community’s most popular speakers and authors.

•Free access to download and save the MP3’s from all the sessions, as well as all the handouts, chat logs, and/or presentations.

•Participation in real-time question and answer sessions with all of your favorite speakers.

•Lots of downloadable swag as well as entries to win some great prizes!

A direct link to the conference schedule is here.

I'll be sharing on Thursday, March 18th from 3:00 - 4:00 PM EST. Woo Hoo! :)

So quick, leave a comment on this post ~ and I'll pick 5 winners for free tickets! I'd love to have you join my first on-line conference experience!

You can also purchase tickets for the conference here.

Have a GREAT week!! God's richest blessings to you!!

P.S The winners for my recent Book Giveaway are...

"Matt and Renee" you were selected for the Dancing with My Father book by Sally Clarkson.

And Diane Walker you win the Mother-Daughter Duet by Cheri Fuller & Ali Plum. Thank you to all who entered! :)

Look for another Book Giveaway later this week! :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Family Fun!

Hi Friends! :) I recently received the following note in my mailbag...

Dear Cindy,
Any suggestions for St. Patrick’s Day? I would like to do some fun things, but don’t really have any ideas. You are my “party go to expert”....

I'm so glad you asked, dear one! I am busy in St. Patrick's Day planning mode ~ and would love to share my family~friendly ideas with you!

I've already pulled out our St. Patrick's Day books. We've been reading The Story of Saint Patricks Day by Patricia Pingry for years!

I love sharing with my kids St. Patrick's love for God, and how he used the shamrock to share the Trinity with others (more info on teaching St. Pat here)

And how will we celebrate on St. Patrick's Day??

Typically, we start the day with green pancakes. Here's a fun picture from a few years ago....

Don't they look adorable?? (Sorry I still had my hearts of loving kindness hanging from the chandelier. I'll have to share that idea in another post...)

For lunch, I usually cut their sandwich into a shamrock with a shamrock~shaped cookie cutter, throw in a green napkin, cut green apples or grapes, green veggies, etc...

For dinner, here is the menu we usually have...

* Shamrock Shaped Pizza

* Green Fluff Salad (my kids favorite ~ with marshmallows & pistachio pudding mix)

* Lettuce Salad & Dressing

* Fresh Green Vegetables (cucumbers, celery, broccoli, snow peas, etc..)

* Green finger jello (shamrock shaped, of course)

* Cupcakes for the kids (Fun Recipe here or here)

* Key Lime Pie (this is a new addition. We've invited friends over, and the mom offered to bring this for dessert. My husband John is thrilled!)

(More yummy food recipes here!)

Other St. Patrick's Day party ideas...

Of course, we will have tattoos :) Here's a pic from a former celebration.... (My jewelry is from Claires. Super fun, but inexpensive!)

* We also have a Treasure Hunt. I place a shamrock under one of our guests' dinner plates. After dinner, I have everyone look under their plates. The shamrock under the plate has the first clue. At the end of the treasure hunt, I have little black pots filled with candy gold for all the kids. (I originally saw this idea here). The kids LOVE it! :)

* It wouldn't be a party without BINGO. You can make your own St. Patrick's Day BINGO cards here.

* I'll print off lots of color sheets, word searches, mazes, etc.. You can get started here or here.

You might think, "Cindy, why do all this work for one simple day?".

Well, years ago, I coordinated a program for homeless teen moms. We happened to be out driving to appointments on St. Patrick's Day. I drove by McDonald's and saw a sign for Shamrock Shakes. We stopped in and I bought all the teens a Shamrock Shake. You would have thought I gave them a million dollars. The teens were thrilled to enjoy a special shake, and asked me if I would do that every year for them. Simple. Inexpensive. Took very little time. And yet, my guess is that these teens will always remember that day. I know I will. (And yes, the next year I bought green shakes again for all the homeless teens!)

When my Jake was little and I was a single mom, every year on St. Patrick's Day, I'd take him to McDonald's for a shamrock shake.

Now that Jake is older, our family has grown (a lot!), ~ I don't ever want to miss the chance to make an "ordinary" day more "extraordinary". This year, thankfully, I am able to spend a little more time planning this celebration. But if our world was crazy...we would at least stop by McDonald's for a Shamrock Shake. :)

May I encourage you to "mark this moment" in some little, special way. Your kids will remember. You will remember. :)

And if you don't have a McDonald's nearby, a delicious Shamrock Shake recipe is here. Thank you to Recipe Zaar for sharing! :)

Happy early St. Patrick's Day!! Do you have any tradition or family fun ideas to mark this day?? I'd love to hear from you!!!

Many blessings to you!!

P.S. For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head over to Rocks in My Dryer.
P.S.S. My celebration ideas are obviously very kid-friendly. If you're looking for more "grown up" recipe ideas, All Recipes has some great looking recipes here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Developing Stronger Relationships ~ Book Review & GIVEAWAY :)

Have you read any new good books lately?? :)

One of the many blessings of *She Sparkles* is the opportunity for me to read and review new books! My favorite part is sharing the blessing with you, my dear bloggy friend, with a book giveway!!

I was thrilled when I was recently asked to participate in a Blog Tour featuring Mother Daughter Duet by Cheri Fuller and Dancing with My Father by Sally Clarkson. Both of these wonderful authors are women I respect and admire, and I couldn't wait to see what God had been teaching them lately! :)

Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy is incredible!! I wasn't surprised ~ Sally Clarkson is one of my favorite authors (her book The Mission of Motherhood was absolutely life~changing for me!). Once again, Sally has written a book filled with Truth, wisdom, real life illustrations, a beautiful mother's heart, and tons of applicable "take-aways".

Here's a brief summary of her latest book..."When Sally noticed a lack of joy in her own life, she realized how easy it can be, especially for women with overloaded to-do lists, to feel weighed down by drudgery and disappointment. But rather than slogging through her days, Sally wanted to know the delight of God's presence. She began prayerfully exploring how to cultivate deep-rooted joy even in the midst of difficult seasons...."

Can anyone else (besides me) relate?! I want some deep-rooted *JOY* too! :)

So how was the book?? I'll be honest...the first night I had a hard time putting the book down! (Finally John made me turn off the light!)

Just listen to some of the chapter titles...

* A Heart that Dances to Celebrate God's Presence
* Dancing Through the Twists and Turns of Life
* Reveling in God's Melody of Joy
* Listening for the Music of God's Dance

I want that too?! :) Dancing with My Father is a definite thumbs up! :)

Mother Daughter Duet: Getting to the Relationship You Want with Your Adult Daughter by Cheri Fuller & Ali Plum

Here's a brief summary.."In Mother-Daughter Duet they (Cheri and her daughter Ali) share their story—each from her own perspective—in which they have experienced distance and tension, growth and challenge, and, ultimately, acceptance and harmony. Filled with personal anecdotes and based on several basic principles, Mother-Daughter Duet helps moms repair the breach so that daughters want to draw close."

Another true confession... I don't think I would have purchased this book at the bookstore. I love my mom dearly, and I feel really good about where our relationship is today. I wouldn't have necessarily known this book would be so applicable for me. (And boy would I have missed out!)

I am so grateful I had the chance to read this story. My goodness, Cheri and her daughter are extremely transparent and authentic. I appreciate their vulnerability and willingness to share. They share wonderful tips on listening, respecting, setting boundaries, and more. I especially enjoyed the chapter on "Taking Care of Yourself: Nourishing My Emotional Well~Being". Great stuff!!

And not only did I take-away tips for strengthening my relationship with my mom, I learned a lot about being the MOM I desire to be for my two little girls. Another definite thumbs up! :)

The dear folks at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group were so gracious to not only give a set of books for me to read and review, but a set of books to GIVEAWAY!! Woo Hoo!

I'll be giving the books away separately, so there will be two winners! :)

To Win my Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Which of the two books would you like to win and Why?

Dancing with My Father by Sally Clarkson or

Mother Daughter Duet by Cheri Fuller & Ali Plum

RULES: Starts today, Friday, March 5th and ends Tuesday, March 9nd at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog on Wednesday, March 10th.

If your email address is not connected to your ID, please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at with the subject "Giveaway".

I can't wait to hear from you!! Have a GREAT weekend!!

Thanks for stopping by * She Sparkles*! God's richest blessings to you! :)

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What a fun SURPRISE! :)

It's time to CELEBRATE! Today marks the 1 year Anniversary of this blog ~ *She Sparkles*! Woo Hoo!!

I've had such a BLAST with my blog over the past year! I love sharing with others how awesome God is ~ while meeting new friends around the world!! I just love it!! I've had my creative wheels spinning, trying to think how to "mark this moment" and celebrate with you ~ my devoted bloggy friends. But guess what??... you beat me to it! Today I received a special gift from you!!

Yep...imagine my surprise and delight to learn that *She Sparkles* received one of ten "Joyful Among Us Blog" awards in the Blessed Aroma
Top 100 Christian Women Blogs from 2009 hosted by Internet Cafe.

Most Joyful Among Us Blog ~

This gal always sees her coffee cup “half full” and the joy just pours out of her site. Her joyful attitude is what keeps you coming back for more!

Wow~ I am very humbled and blessed by this award. I started this blog as a way to share with others the amazing work God has done in my life ~ and hopefully encourage and inspire others on their daily journey!! I definitely didn't set out to win any awards! But to know that *She Sparkles* is helping to spread more *JOY* in the world blesses me more than you know!

I humbly accept this award with much gratitude to the Lord for His miraculous work in my life (if you've not heard of the pit God rescued me from ~ I just typed out my testimony here). To God alone be the Glory!!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Have an amazing, fun~filled, life giving weekend!! :)

With much gratitude~

P.S. Don't worry ~ I'm still thinking through how to mark my 1 year Anniversary!! Do you have any fun ideas?? I'd love to hear from you! :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Gift of Friendship :)

Hello dear Bloggy Friends! I hope you are having a GREAT week! :)

The stomach flu has struck again at the Bultema house! My Benj had it 5 days last week, Amanda over the weekend, and then, last night, my little Sarah was sick in the night. (Not to mention John and I have felt lousy for days). AHHH! Sarah was too sick for Kindergarten this morning ~ so once again "my plans" are cancelled, and I stay home with sick kids. The joys of motherhood, huh?!.... :)

Imagine my surprise when my doorbell rang at 1:15 PM this afternoon. Who could it be?? Sarah and I were snuggled up cozy on the couch, still in our jammies, watching Dora. I peeked through my front door, and this is what I saw....

My dear friend Jill with special gifts just for me! :)

Jill and I usually have coffee together on Tuesday afternoons while our girls dance together in ballet class. Unfortunately our coffee date was one of the plans I had to cancel (since my little ballerina was sick)!

What a sweetheart Jill is! :) Since I couldn't meet for our usual latte, she surprised me and brought a "no foam, extra hot, venti skinny vanilla latte" to me (and with Diet Coke for later ~ what a jewel)!

Thank you, Jill, for brightening my day! Isn't friendship a beautiful thing?! :)

A friend loves at all times...... Proverbs 17:17

The Lord has blessed me with such amazing friends! They inspire me, pray for me, speak Truth to me, love on me, and accept me ~ just the way that I am.

(Not to mention, support me in so many ways ~ including through lattes!)

I am so very blessed to have such caring, thoughtful friends in my life!!

What about for you?? Who are the special women God has brought into your life?? And is there a way you could bless a special friend today??? Please share with us! I'd love to hear from you! :)

Enjoy the rest of your week!! I'm off to disinfect more things....

Many blessings to you~

P.S. The winner of the Jesus Lives Giveaway is Chellie from Art from my Table! Enjoy! :)

P.S.S. I'll be headed to West Cannon Baptist Church's MOPS group on Thursday morning to share a fun message! If the Lord brings me to mind, would you please pray?? (Among other things...that the Lord would prepare the hearts of the Mom's I'll be meeting, and that I would be healthy and well!) Thank you so very much! I'll keep you posted ~ I can't wait to see what the Lord has planned! :)
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