Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trash Pile to Treasure Chest ~ Giveaway!

Today is the last day of school for our kids until April 10th. Hello, Spring Break! If you're sticking around home this Spring Break, be sure to check out my A to Z ~ Spring Break "Stay-cation" ideas!

Hey Friends :)

Happy " Things I Love Thursday"! Today I'm linking up with my real-life neighbor, the hilarious Jill from the Diaper Diaries, to share something I love....Bible Study.

Yes, I love Bible study! Trust me, this hasn't always been the case. I had never even opened a Bible until 1996. I tried to work through a couple of Bible study booklets on my own (right after becoming a Christian), but it felt a lot like school (and I didn't like school). :(

But 1999, I was invited to my first Beth Moore Bible study. Woo Hoo! My eyes were opened to the power and brilliance of the Word, and my life has never been the same!!

I'm always on the look-out for new Bible studies (for myself personally, as well as for our Monday night study). Not to mention, I dream about someday helping create life-changing Bible study resources for women. There is such life-transforming *power* in God's Word!! :)

Last year I was introduced to Leah Adams. I was immediately drawn to her powerful story, and her victory after many years with an eating disorder.

And then I learned she had published a Bible Study! I've had the chance to journey on-line through her teachings from her Study ~ From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest: Leaving a Godly Legacy. I love it! :)

Here's more about Leah's awesome study...

Legacy----it’s what you leave for the generations that follow. When all is said and done, the legacy you leave for those who come after you will be a result of the choices you make each day……choices regarding your faith, character, and holiness.

Have you chosen Jesus as the Ruler and King of your life?

Do you believe that God will never leave you or forsake you? Are you trustworthy and dependable? Do you grasp the truth that because society approves of an action does not mean that it is necessarily acceptable for you as a Christian?

In her six week Bible study entitled “From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest: Creating a Godly Legacy” author and speaker Leah Adams invites you to journey down the path of creating a godly legacy.

As you search God’s Word for biblical truth concerning the topics of character and holiness you will answer these and other questions. Your heart will be challenged to examine your faith in light of those who have gone before you. Join Leah for this thought-provoking study that will encourage you in the creation of a treasure-chest legacy that you can leave for the generations yet to come.

And guess what??? Leah has graciously offered to share her Bible Study "From the Trash Pile to Treasure Chest" with a blessed *She Sparkles* friend! (Thank you, dear Leah!)

To Win my Giveaway: Please answer the question,

Why would you like to win the Bible Study "From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest"?

Extra Entries: •Post this giveaway on FB •Follow *She Sparkles* via Google Friends Connect •Subscribe to *She Sparkles* •Add my *She Sparkles* button to your blog •Follow *She Sparkles* on twitter •Tweet about this giveaway including a link to this post Please be sure to leave me a comment to let me know your extra entries.

RULES: Starts today, Thursday, March 31st and ends Sunday, April 3rd at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog soon after April 4th. 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".

***For information about ordering Leah's book, click here.

***To stop by Leah's blog and say hello, click here.

So that's what I'm loving this Thursday!! How about you??? I'd love to hear from you!! :) Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you??

May you have a wonderful, thrilling, Thankful Thursday filled with all the things you love!!

P.S. The winner of my "FULL book giveaway" from Kendal is Janelle. Thank you to all who entered!

P.S.S. For more Things I Love Thursday ideas, hop on over and visit Jill at The Diaper Diaries. :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do you believe in Miracles?

Hey Friends :)

Two years ago today, I received a phone call from my close friend Jen Torresson
~ which quickly began a journey I will never, ever forget.

Here are my emotional, tear-filled thoughts from March 30, 2009

Dear Friends,

Many of you have heard of the urgent prayer request for Tom Torresson. He had a massive heart attack earlier today, and they are not sure he is going to make it (Tom is 39 years old). I am just coming home from the Heart Center ~ please, I beg you, please pray for Tom and his family!!

At this time, he is in a medically induced coma and is on a ventilator. The doctors are planning to start “warming” his body at 8:00 PM tonight. THIS WILL BE A CRUCIAL TIME TO BE PRAYING!!!

Tom’s Mom Liz is a nurse, and says this is when it will be very “risky”. The doctors do not know how Tom’s body will respond.
I was there when the cardiologist told Jen it could “go either way” ~ and that she should prepare for the worst. Friends, Tom is 39 years old! Please pray!

How is Tom's wife, Jen?? She is in shock right now. She is tired and drained and weary.

How are the kids? At this time, they just think Daddy is at the hospital because he wasn’t feeling well. Sydney (the 2nd grader), asked her mom to have Daddy call so she could say Goodnight. Oh, please, please pray!!!

How can I best pray?? For a MIRACLE!!! Plus so many other things…for Jen, for the kids, for his family, for peace, for the doctors and care staff, for God to bring HOPE in this difficult situation, and for God to continue to reveal Himself to Jen and her family.

Oh Lord, we need Your presence and Your power!!! Lord, we need YOU!!!

When the Physician's Assistant was sharing updates with Jen, he said, “Well at least Tom has his age and his health on his side”.
Friends, Tom has GOD on his side!!

Let’s go before the Throne and ask God to do a miracle in our midst!!!! PLEASE KEEP PRAYING!!!

I will update you as soon as I hear anything. Please pass this along to any and all friends and prayer warriors!!!!

In Him, Cindy

And the update 2 years later....

Would you believe that
6 days after his massive heart attack, Tom was sitting up in bed eating breakfast?? The cardiologist told Tom he had been given a 2nd chance at life....they were almost a little surprised he had survived!

And 2 months later, I had the privilege of watching as Tom and Jen were baptized
at their church.

Although the Torresson family moved across the nation last year (and I miss them terribly!) ~ I can't let March 30th go by without thanking God for unleashing His resurrection power in Tom's life.

We all witnessed a miracle at the Heart Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan ~ and today I will take the day to pray for anyone and everyone I know who could use some fresh resurrection power in their lives!!

How can we pray for you, dear bloggy friend???

P.S. Beginning April 1, I'm linking up with others and will begin a new "A to Z" series for the whole month of April. I have a fun, life changing idea ~ please stop back and check it out! :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Royal Heiress Interview (& Must See Video)

Hey Friends ~

Today I'm thrilled to be a part of the "Princess Diaries" series at the Royal Heiress by the beautiful Marletha Booker.

I had a blast being interviewed by Marletha ~ we discuss everything from "weight stuff" to the Bible to Diet Coke. Do you know what my hardest interview question was??

"What are 3 things we don't know about you?"

I feel like I pretty much share this was a stumper! :)

Click here to see my answer ~ and the "Princess Diaries" interview. Also, would you please say HI to Marletha while you are at her beautiful website?! :)

But before you head to the Royal Heiress would you answer that question.....
What are 3 things we don't know about you???

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!! Have a power-filled day!

P.S. Last night at Bible study, I shared this amazing video from Lifehouse Church ~ the Everything Skit. Have you seen it before? It made its way on-line a few years ago (and I think now it's had 16 million+ views on Youtube!), but I was surprised how many women had not seen it before. If you've not seen it, please take a few minutes to watch it (with a Kleenex handy, and without young children around). Powerful stuff!!

Oh Lord, how we THANK YOU for your power, grace, redemption, deliverance, and LOVE!! :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mailbag Monday: Was There One Thing.....?

If you're sticking around home this Spring Break, be sure to check out my A to Z ~ Spring Break "Stay-cation" ideas! What fun!

Hey friends! :)

I received a sweet note from a new Red Hot Retreat/Bible Study friend. She asked great questions! Here's her note (with her permission, of course) and my response. I would love to hear anything YOU might add ~ you have great suggestions to my Mailbag requests! Here is her e-mail...

Dear Cindy,

I really enjoyed the Red Hot retreat and tonight's brush up at Bible study. It gave me a wake up call and quite a challenge.

I'm struggling to meet that challenge.

I'm going to be honest (and I'm also tired) so this might sound all crazy but here's the deal:

The retreat/Bible study really resonated with me. I'm 26, been married for 3 1/2 yrs. and have 2 kids (2 1/2, 1yr), so my life has done a lot of changing.

I look back at my college years and hate the girl I was (and that was not that long ago...).

I'm ready, willing, wanting, whatever you want to call it, to fully submit my life to Christ, like really do it. You know, be Red Hot. I want to be able to really say without hesitation that I love God with all my heart, with all my mind and with all my strength. I want to fulfill my purpose as a witness. I want people to see in me something that only God does.

I'm just having trouble knowing what's next and how to get there.

I've been thinking about a mentor, but I don't know really what that would look like, let alone who.

How did you go from one opposite to the other? Was there one thing that was the hinge on which everything else took place

If you're banging your head, saying this is the side of ministry I'd rather not deal with, I understand. But, I thought hey, if something comes to mind, I would love to hear it.

Thanks, A New Friend

And for my response...

Hello dear one ~

I've thought about your note all week long! I love your passion and desire to fully submit to whatever God has for you!! I know God will honor you for your commitment, and trust He will reveal Himself to you in new and significant ways.

Thanks for trusting me ~ and if there's any way I can come alongside of you, I am here! :)

As for the mentor, for every season of my life, I've prayed and asked God to bring someone into my life to mentor me. He is so faithful, and for every season God has brought a special person to me. When I worked full-time, it was a woman boss/mentor. When I was home at home with my little ones, He brought women into my life to help me grow in being a Godly wife/mom, etc..

Now that I am pursuing the study of the Scriptures, once again God has provided an amazing mentor who is a faithful prayer warrior/former Bible teacher.

My encouragement would be to pray and watch God work. And if you see someone who you want to be like (because you see in Christ in them!) ~ don't be afraid to pray into the relationship, invite them to coffee, and ask them more about their journey.

Does that make sense?? Does it help at all??

Also, how did I go from one extreme to the other?? Good question.... :)

It definitely was a journey and process.

When I met Jesus (as you know from the retreat) ~ I was a single mom, had a drug & alcohol problem, potty mouth, low self esteem, negative thoughts, etc.. I was a real mess when I look back!

Thankfully God sees us not as we are, but who we could be!

I guess I would describe my transformation like an onion. Slowly, through a lot of love, grace, and tears, God would pull back layer upon layer upon layer.

First, the drugs had to go. Then the alcohol. Then He changed the way I talked. Then He changed my mind. Right now He is working on my heart...softening it and making it tender to the things He cares most passionately about.

Thankfully it's through grace
. I used to beat myself up big time because I had so far to go (and had made such a mess of things) ~ but now I realize that's not how God talks to His dearly loved girls .

When I hear...."You should have...You ought to...You're not good enough...", etc.. ~ I know that's not the voice of my Daddy. And I know this from spending so much time in His Word.

As for the "next step", my encouragement (as "hokey" as this sounds) would be to remember those P's.

(Side Note: I taught 5 P's at the Red Hot retreat ~ Presence, Purpose, Power, Promises, and Passion)

* Spend time in His Presence.

* Listen for His voice and what He has to say to you.

* Remember your purpose, even in the midst of mothering. You'd be surprised at how many times God has opened "spiritual doors" at play dates, McDonalds playland, mommy gatherings, etc..

* Receive by faith the filling of His Holy Spirit power, and watch Him open doors and work through you.

* Keep your thoughts fixed on Scripture, and as you spend time with Him, keep your relationship fresh and vibrant so that your passion stays alive.

I'm not sure if this is helpful at all, but I am asking God to make "stick" those things He wants you to hear. I look forward to getting to know you in the weeks to come.

If you ever want to talk/pray after group, please let me know. I'd love to do so!!

Cindy :)

What do you think, Bloggy friend? How would you encourage a friend struggling to meet the challenge of living "Red Hot" for Him? Also, may I ask for you to pray for this young mom ~ and any woman wrestling with living out their calling? May God infuse us with strength, courage, patience, Truth and a whole bunch of joy!

And please....I'd love for you to share what you've found works for you!!!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Have an amazing, joy-filled week!!!

P.S. If you have a Mailbag question, feel free to send it my way! :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Let's Celebrate ~ Calling All Princesses! :)

If you haven't had a chance to enter my "FULL book giveaway", it's not too late! If you know ANYONE impacted by an eating disorder, I would highly recommend it! :)

Hey Friends!

If you spend any time around *She Sparkles*, you know I love to celebrate! I find great *joy* in helping making even our "ordinary days"....extraordinary! As my pastor often shares...

***Life should not just lived, it should be celebrated!***

My thoughts exactly! :)

Trust me, after way too many weeks of sick kids, lice, our crazy family schedule, and my health challenges ~ it was time for us to get our party on! :)

As always, I turned to my favorite friends at
Party City. Don't you love that place? I just walk in and my creative juices start flowing and I can't help but throw a party! :)

We had a couple of "end of the season" hockey parties for my boys ~ so it was time to celebrate the beautiful girls of our house! Yes, a princess party was in order!

I recently learned that Party City has party kits available (on-line only) which has everything you need for a fun party! They even provide the birthday candles ~ perfect for a busy mom like me!

So last week, the girls all invited their friends and we had an ordinary Thursday "We are God's Princesses" Party!! Manda helped me get ready before the party.

We filled our princess pinata....

Decorated our table to get ready for the princesses (with purple silverware, the color of royalty, of course!.....)

Took a quick family princess portrait (sorry, this princess was still wearing her gym attire!)....

And let the princess fun begin!

The pinata, of course, was a huge hit! Even the boys of the house wanted a turn! Although the
princess pinata has easy pull strings ~ it was more fun to swing at it with the festive bat wearing the colorful blindfold! What a ton of fun! :)

We did it ~ yippee!!!!

The best part of the party?? Reminding each girl that they are God's princesses ~ and that each and every day they are lavishly loved by their Heavenly Father!! Woo Hoo! :)

What will you celebrate??! :) I'd love to hear from you!!!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! :) Have an amazing, *joy-filled* day!!!

Disclosure: I was provided with the Disney Princess Party Supplies Ultimate Party Kit by Party City. I was not compensated in any other way for the review and, as always, all opinions expressed in this post are fully my own.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Social Online Media & other Caffeinated Randomness

If you haven't had a chance to enter my "FULL book giveaway", it's not too late! If you know ANYONE impacted by an eating disorder, I would highly recommend it! :)

Hey friends! I'm joining my friend Michelle today for some Caffeinated Randomness. It's been one of those random weeks ~ trust me!!

First, the bad news...lice had re-entered our home (thankfully, it's not me!).

One "precious child of mine" was itching last night ~ and sure enough, it's back. Crazy how my perspective has changed since 5 out of 6 family members had it at one time. Just one kid with lice doesn't seem nearly as bad! Still yuck though!

On to the good husband John and I are heading out on a date tonight. Woo Hoo!

Although we try to make "date nights" a regular part of our married life, most of our winter weekends have been spent at the hockey rink. But not tonight!

Any suggestions on where we should go/what we should do??? Rollerskating perhaps?

I'm also in the middle of a new speaking project. Yippee (I love new challenges!)

I've been asked to teach a workshop at Carol Kent's Speak Up with Confidence seminar (if you are interested in developing your communication skills I would HIGLY recommend Speak Up!).

My workshop is called "Building Your Ministry through Social Online Media".

If you are wondering how Social Media impacts our world today, take a few minutes to watch this quick video. I think you'll be amazed at the statistics (I know I sure was!)

Bloggy friends, I would love your help! Are there questions about Social Media you would like answered? Have you wondered how best to build your ministry through Social Online Media?? Any tips you which you would have known sooner? I would love to hear from you (and I'd be happy to send you a DVD of my teaching for your help)!

As I've been working on this workshop message for the past few weeks, I've been reflecting on how God has used social media to bless and encourage me. Never would I have guessed the amazing friendships, connections, and ministry opportunities that would have developed through FB, Twitter, and the blogging world. Thank you for being a part of this journey. I thank God for you!!

Better run and get ready for my big date with my handsome hunk of a man! :)

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Have a wonderful, joy-filled weekend!!

Sweet blessings to you~

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fat Talk, Freedom, & "Full" Giveaway

Hey Friends :)

If you've spent anytime around *She Sparkles*, you know I am passionate about living Fat Talk Free.

Please know....I am so NOT perfect in this area nor have I somehow "arrived".

Truth be told, my friends still call me out on this occassionally. If I let even one "Do these pants make my butt look big?" comment slip...they are on me like fleas (as they should be)!

After years of struggling with an eating disorder, stinkin' thinkin', nearly losing my life, and most recently having to take my young daughter to the doctor due to her "not wanting to be fat" ....I have made a personal promise to be part of the SOLUTION to the epidemic of Fat Talk.

I also get fired up when I meet other women who have committed to living a life of freedom, wholeness, and Truth in the whole body image/food area.

A few months ago, I came across a spacious place, an inspiring, authentic blog written by Kendal. I love it! I soon learned Kendal has been set free from anorexia, and shares her amazing journey in her book Full.

Kendal shares "Full" is "about losing myself to anorexia and filling up again with Jesus and health. My deepest desire is that this book will help someone understand the eating disordered mind."

Here's an excerpt from "Full" by Kendal Privette

(ED refers to "Eating Disorder", and the numbers are her weight)

ED Speaks
It's too much.
Ed speaks.
I didn't know listening was a pact.

Page 2
ed sidles up,
hissing in my ear.
sweet talking,
two pounds,
he whispers...

Page 4
Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Your works are wonderful I know that full well
total crap
I am ugly
I have a lumpy waist
stringy hair
uneven complexion
beady eyes
I am a mistake

And on and on the book goes, as we watch this 127 pound mother of two, spiral down to 98 pounds....and then....., well, I'll let you read the book :)

Or listen to Kendal reading from her book "Full". Powerful stuff! :)

When I first received "Full", I could absolutely not put it down! Every girlfriend that came to visit sat with me as we read from Kendal's personal journey. If you know anyone who has been impacted by anorexia/eating disorders, I would highly recommend this book. It paints a picture of the trapped mind, as well as fills the reader with hope (as we watch Kendal come back to health and victory!) Woo Hoo!!

At my request, Kendal has graciously offered to share her book "Full" with a blessed *She Sparkles* friend! (Thank you, dear Kendal!)

To Win my Giveaway: Please answer the question,

Why would you like to win the book "Full"?

Extra Entries:
•Post this giveaway on FB
•Follow *She Sparkles* via Google Friends Connect
•Subscribe to *She Sparkles*
•Add my *She Sparkles* button to your blog
•Follow *She Sparkles* on twitter
•Tweet about this giveaway including a link to this post

Please be sure to leave me a comment to let me know your extra entries.

RULES: Starts today, Thursday, March 24th and ends Sunday, March 27th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog soon after March 28th.

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".

For information about ordering Kendal's book, click here.

To stop by Kendal's blog and say hello, click here.

How has your life been impacted by stinkin' thinkin'/eating disorders/body image stuff?? What have you found to be key in walking in *victory* in this area?? I'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Have a wonderful, freedom-filled day!!

If you've not seen this powerful video on "Fat Talk", please take just a few minutes and watch it. (Job well done, Tri Delta!)

P.S.. For more Things I Love Thursday ideas, hop on over and visit Jill at The Diaper Diaries. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ A Good Friend & Golden Shoes

If you're sticking around home this Spring Break (like my family!), be sure to check out my A to Z ~ Spring Break "Stay-cation" ideas! I believe we can still have a *blast* during Spring Break ~ even if our travel plans only involve driving around town!

Hey Friends!

I'm knee deep in the study of "white garments" (which I am LOVING by the way!) ~ so I thought I'd experiment again with "Wordless Wednesday" .....except I'm not very good at it!

The goal is that you share a favorite photograph and go wordless. But how can I not say "something"?! I'm trying, really I am... and does 3 pictures still count?? :)

My pictures today are in honor of my dear friend April from Virginia. :) We met this past summer (photo above) at a Speaker's Conference here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We immediately became fast friends.

Last fall, April drove to Tennessee to support me while I spoke in Knoxville. What a dear friend!

And yesterday, as I was preparing my Golden teaching for Bible study, April sent this picture to let me know she would be praying all day....

Now is that a special, fun friend or what? Gold shoes and all! :)

(April, thank you for being who you are! I'm so glad God allowed our paths to cross ~ in spite of the many miles between us! You are a gift, my friend, a true gift!)

Thanks for stopping by my (kinda, but not really) Wordless Wednesday!! Have a Wonder-filled day! :)

P.S. For more Wordless Wednesday, visit 5 Minutes for Mom. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No More Lice, Hopscotch, & other Random Updates

Hey Friends!!

How are you??! I have missed you! Our family was hit hard with the flu this month. Last week I spent 4 days completely in bed. Ugh!

(Although waking up to notes from my family (like the one shown above) sure made being sick a little easier.)

We've also had the joy of 5 of our 6 family members being infected with lice. What a nightmare!

But, the good news...the lice is finally, completely gone!! Yippee!! My family is healthy. I am healthy. Woo Hoo!! I feel like the Lord has restored me ~ physically, emotionally, and spiritually!! My *joy* is back!! THANK YOU, my friends, for praying me through! :)

Here's a super quick update of what we've been up to....

***We had a super fun St. Patrick's Day Celebration on Thursday. Here's a self-portrait to capture my Irish roots :)

And a super fun picture of my husband John. He went to the store real quick, and this is what he came home wearing. I think my celebrating is rubbing off on him. What do you think??

Last night we had a great time at Bible Study. I am so blessed to journey with the most amazing, beautiful, authentic women on Monday nights! :)

My teaching was based on Rev 3:18 ~ Gold Refined in the Fire. I encouraged the women to all wear their best GOLDen outfits. Here are Kristy & Erica ~ two dearly loved gals in their GOLD . What fun! :)

I loved, loved, loved teaching on the *riches* that are ours in Christ! How I long to see us all tap into the spiritual resources that are available as dearly loved daughters of the Lord Most High! :) No more cold oatmeal for us, right Monday night friends?! :)

Next week I'll be teaching on the robe of righteousness.....can't wait! :)

And lastly....during our Spring-like weather here in Michigan last week, my daughters and I made a super long hopscotch outside of our house. I tried to capture a picture of it for you....

Our hopscotch went all the way from 1 to 77! At the end, I wrote, "Woo Hoo! You made it! Please sign your name". Our hope was to share our spring-time joy, and have other neighbors join in on the fun! :)

Imagine my delight when I received this e-mail last week....

Hi, Cindy! I arrived here by way of your fabulous blog.... I just wanted to introduce myself since I read your blog and am so blessed by it! I am your neighbor, and my girls and I walk by your house VERY often. 2 of my girls, along with myself, did your hopscotch tonight and signed our names (so fun!) Anyway, I've seen your husband and have spoken briefly with him in a general neighborly way, but have never met you. If I see you outside, I'll walk up and introduce myself. Until then, know that you are such an inspiration and a blessing to me! Thanks for living your life outloud and not being afraid to proclaim Jesus!

~Your Neighbor

Isn't that so fun?! I just love sharing my *joy* with others. It's Jesus, friends, it's Jesus! :)

What have you been up to lately?? I would love to hear from you!!! :)

Thanks again, my dear bloggy friends, for praying me through a really loooong past couple of weeks!! May God fill *YOU* with a fresh measure of His joy, power, and peace as you seek Him
this week!!

Sweet blessings ~

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

**Happy St. Patrick's Day! Let the CELEBRATING begin! Check out my fun, family-friendly ideas here if you've not planned your party yet. Enjoy! **

Hey friends!

Today I am thrilled to participate in a fun book giveaway/blog hop hosted by Inspired Kathy at I am a Reader not a Writer. Over 250 blogs are giving away a book, and all the blogs are linked together so you can hop from one to the next. What fun! I hope you'll join us!

The book I am excited to share with you is Regret Free Parenting ~Raise Good Kids and Know You're Doing it Right. What a huge blessing! I would highly recommend it!

Here's a brief synopsis from the back of the book....

Are my kids ready for the world?

Did I teach them the right things? (I've wondered that!)

What if I made a bad decision that affects them forever? (Yep, thought that too!)

What could I have done differently?

Moms have a list of worries a mile long about their parenting. They fear they'll spend 20 years raising children ~ only to discover they missed investing in and teaching the things that mattered. How can any parent be sure she won't have regrets?

Now an acclaimed motherhood expert teaches the principles every mother needs to confidently raise her children. Author Catherine Hickem shows you how to:

* Build companionship and trust

* Develop emotional intelligence

* Live peacefully in the teens years

* Maintain your position as the parent...

...With a perspective rich in faith and tested by life, join Hickem and learn how you can achieve regret-free parenting!

This book came at such perfecting timing for me.

As you may remember, we've been having some real challenges (to say the least!) with one of our precious kids. I found MANY helpful nuggets of Truth, wisdom, and insight in "Regret Free Parenting". The author writes with understanding, grace, expertise, and experience, and I finished the book feeling empowered with new tools, rather than condemned or inadequate (whew!). Overall, it is a book I would highly recommend to any mom and/or dad's library of resources!

(To learn more about "Regret Free Parenting" or author Catherine Hickem, click here.)

And now.....(drum roll please....)

I am excited to be able to share FIVE copies of this insightful book with *She Sparkles* readers! Yippee!!

To Win my "Regret Free Parenting" Giveaway:

Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why would you like to win the Regret Free Parenting book??

RULES: Starts today, Thursday, March 17th, 2011 and ends Sunday, March 20th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted the week of March 21st on *She Sparkles*.

Extra Entries:

•Post this Giveaway on FB
•Follow *She Sparkles*
•Subscribe to *She Sparkles*
•Add my *She Sparkles* button to your blog
•Tweet about this giveaway including a link to this post

Please be sure to leave me a comment to let me know your extra entries.

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".

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Have a regret-free week!:)

P.S. A huge note of thanks to Kathy and Cindy for coordinating the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop. Be sure to "hop over" and check out some of the amazing book giveaways! :)
P.S.S. The winner of my Dayspring giveaway is Jenny C. Happy Shopping, Jenny! Thank you to all who entered! :)

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the Regret Free Parenting book to review, and 5 to giveaway. I was not compensated in any other way for the review and all opinions expressed in this post are fully my own.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Break Family Fun "Stay-cation" Ideas from A to Z!

Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press

Hey friends! :)

Happy "almost Spring Break" to you! :)

Last year, our local newspaper shared a fun article on my family and some of our Spring Break "Stay-cation" ideas. You can check out the newspaper article here.

(And yes, that's the front of my house being colored in chalk while I watch. What fun! :) )

In case your spring break plans include a lot of "down-time at home" ~ 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)

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

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

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.

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

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

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!

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

T - Treasure Hunt 
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

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

Woo Hoo!! I'm excited for my Spring Break "Stay-cation" already....and our Spring Break doesn't start until April 1st!!

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 Spring Break?? Any fun ideas you'd like to share?? I can't wait to hear more about your "stay-vacation" ideas!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*!
May your day be filled to the brim with much joy, laughter, and fun, family moments!!

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

P.S.S. Today I'm linking up with Works for Me Wednesday and Women Living Well . If you have a moment, hop on over and check out some of the great blog links! Please tell them Cindy says, "Hi!" :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Love Wins

Hey Friends :)

As I write's late, I can't sleep, I've probably taken too much Nyquil, and have been stuck inside in my jammies with a "flu bug" for one too many days.

There's my disclaimer. :)

My e-mail, voice mail, and FB messages have been filled the past few days with messages wondering what my thoughts are about Rob Bell's latest book, "Love Wins".

Have you heard of this new book?? :)

Perhaps you are wondering..."Why would they ask you, Cindy?"

Good question. I wonder too. :)

Although, if you know my story, you know that Rob, his family, and Mars Hill have played very significant roles in my journey.

Rob's dear grandma Eileen was my mentor for many years. I would visit Eileen at her apartment and share tea with her on Tuesday's. Eileen would give me books to read, pray over me, and allow me to ask any question that was on my mind. And boy did I have some "real doosies" back then ~ I'd only been a Christian for less than 2 years! :)

Eileen was also the first one I called when I heard my fiance David had been in an accident.

Eileen shared later "she just knew", and quickly called her grandson "Robby" (my pastor, Rob Bell Jr.) ~ and Rob and his dear wife Kristen arrived at my parents home immediately after I received the devestating, life-shattering news that David had been killed. It was an excruciating night I will never, ever, ever forget.

Rob delievered such Truth and hope to David's loved ones (including me and Jake) at David's funeral, just three sorrow-filled days later. Rob also shared the Gospel at David's funeral, where my dad (a former atheist/agnostic) accepted Christ as his Savior and Lord. (Woo Hoo!)

And it was Rob who encouraged me to step out in faith and share my testimony with others. Who knew how God would use my story for His Kingdom purposes?! :)

I was also blessed with the amazing opportunity to serve on the lead staff at Mars Hill Bible Church for almost 6 years. I sat in many a meeting with Rob and others as we "wrestled" with Truth, prayed like crazy, and sought God wholeheartedly. My "Mars Hill years" are filled with rich memories, God sized tasks & challenges, wonderful life-long friendships, and awesome "answered prayer" stories.

Not too mention, Mars Hill is where I met my handsome husband John and later celebrated our marriage, officiated by Rob, with the wedding of a lifetime! Yippee! :)

When I left my full-time staff role at Mars Hill (after the birth of our baby #4), John and I would often have people ask really "digging" questions to figure out "what really happened".

For example, one time I remember our family being invited over to anothers for hamburgers. As soon as the dinner began, as I am mid-bite, the dad begins, "So why did you really leave Mars Hill? What does Rob really think about so and so....? Give us the inside scoop."

It was so disappointing. There was no inside scoop. No dirt. I had a young family. I resigned. I thank God for the years I served there, and continue to bless Mars Hill and the work they are doing.

No dirt, sorry.

Fast forward a few years, and Rob writes a new book. All of a sudden, it feels like old days. "Cindy, what do you really think? Does Rob really believe so and so.... What's the inside scoop?"

Sorry, friends. No dirt. No inside scoop. I haven't even read the book.

In the mean time, as I read all of these articles/tweets/blogs/bashing, I can't help but think of the words of the Apostle John...

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.

Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has even seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. ~1 John 4:7, 11-12

Regardless of my thoughts when I read the book ~ my prayer is that I would respond like Jesus. May I stand for love and Truth, pray about what to say/how to say it/where to say it/when to keep quiet, and may others see Jesus through me!

There's a lost and hurting world out there (as we all well know). My hope is that the world would be drawn to Jesus through this whole "Love Wins debate", rather than repulsed at Christianity based on how Christ followers respond when they agree/disagree with a brother/sister in Christ.
May they see the love of Christ through us....

....and may it begin with me.

Keeping my eyes focused Up, my mind fixed on Truth, and my mouth zipped until I read the book ~

P.S. I'm linking up today with Jen and friends at Soli Deo Gloria. Be sure to check out this amazing sisterhood of women! :)

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