Friday, September 30, 2011

It's here! (& other Saturday Stumbles)

If you haven't entered my Reflecting Him Giveaway, it's not too late! You have until Sunday night to enter :)

Hey Friends!

Today I'm joining Staci and her Saturday Stumbles again!

First, It's here!! I'm thrilled to share the Fall edition of Praise and Coffee Magazine with you!

***Be sure to check out pages 19-22 and let me know if you recognize a sparkly friend :).

Praise and Coffee Magazine Autumn 2011

Job well done, Sue Cramer and team, on another Truth-filled, encouraging, beautiful resource! :)

Here are some of my other Favorite Finds...

* Soulful Prayer - Circle of Friends' devotion writer (& my friend) Donna Fagerstrom

* How to Pray Daily for Your Kids (with a free Daily Calendar) - Inspired to Action

A Letter To My Teenage Daughters - The Diaper Diaries

* Saying Yes to God - Amelia @ Stories For Us

* Favorite Pumpkin Bread (made in a coffee can!) - Come Have A Peace

* Frugal Fall Activities - Domestic Cents

What have you stumbled upon this week? Share in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!!

Have a wonderful, joy-filled weekend!

P.S. For more great Saturday Stumbles or to join the fun,

head over and visit Staci! :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TILT: Reflecting Him (& GIVEAWAY!)

Thank you everyone for your comments on my recent " Only God/My Exciting Update" post. Your sweet words encouraged me more than you know. THANK YOU for your support and prayers!

Hey Friends!

I'm so excited to share some AMAZING giveaways with you today!

First some quick background ....

In 1999, a friend invited me to participate in my very first Bible Study ~ Beth Moore's Breaking Free. (What a first study, huh?!) I quickly fell head over heels in love with God's Word and my life has never been the same. (Thanks, Beth!)

Fast forward 7 years, and my dear friend Julie and I started a Monday Night Bible Study. One of things I loved was exploring new curriculums, pouring through Bible studies, and praying about which speaker/author's teaching style would be a good fit with our group.

Years later, nothing has changed. :) I love researching women's studies, and digging into a good, Biblically based, application oriented study of God's Word!

Most recently I came across a new study called Reflecting Him by Carla McDougal. Initially I was drawn to the study by the title (I've done a number of teachings based from the same foundational verse ~ 2 Cor 3:18).

I quickly ordered the study and loved it!

I even said to Julie, "If I was going to write a study, I think it'd be just like this one". :)

Imagine my great delight when I recently received a request to GIVEAWAY a copy of the Reflecting Him Bible study. Not only that, I also can enter bloggy friends into a contest to win an entire leader's pack valued at $125. (Of course my answer was YES! )

Here's more about Reflecting Him:Living for Jesus and Loving It ~


God longs for you to spend your day with Him. Reflecting Him helps you pulls back the veil so you can see how a true relationship with the Lord changes your life. As Jesus becomes a part of everything you do, you will soon be reflecting Him to those around you.

In ten weeks, through Reflecting Him, you will:

* Realize life is not about me, but all about Him.
* See daily applications for lessons learned from scripture.
* Understand how God is directing your life—often without you knowing it.
* Learn the importance of prayer in your everyday activities.
* Discover the joyful intimacy of a life filled with Jesus.
* Realize how your personal relationship with Jesus changes when you make Him part of everything you do.

The study comes in small enough bites to digest, but deep enough content to stimulate change and growth. Carla McDougal’s refreshing authenticity and humorous style lifts you up and encourages you to dig deeper into the Word.

And speaking of Carla, here's more about this gifted speaker/writer....

CARLA MCDOUGAL is founder of Reflective Life Ministries headquartered in the Houston, Texas area. Her true passion for her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, shines brightly, whether she is speaking or writing. She shares experiences from her own life to encourage women to live every day for Him. God is sending Carla around the world to speak to women from all walks of life—those living in the best of circumstances to those who have hit rock bottom. For more information on a growing number of products from Reflective Life Ministries, and to see about booking Carla for an event or interview, go to

I would love, love, love to share this Bible Study with you!!
To Win my Reflecting Him Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

What would you like to win Reflecting Him?

Extra Entries:

•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.

**Also, remember I have one Bible study to give away, as well as one reader will be entered to win Carla's Instant Leader Kit (featuring the Video Teaching Series, a Bible Study Book, Leader Guide, & Music CD) Woo Hoo!

RULES: Starts today, Thursday, September 29th and ends Sunday, October 2 at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog during the week of October 3rd.

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 wonderful, joy-filled, promised land living day!!

P.S. For more Things I Love Thursday ideas, hop on over to my real-life neighbor Jill at The Diaper Diaries. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How Do You Find A Mentor?

In case you missed my fun yet terrifying "Only God!" update, you can check it out here! :)

Hi Friends!

A dear friend from Canada sent me a note with the following questions...

Cindy, what is it that your spiritual mentor does for you? How often do you meet with her, what has she taught you? I have felt the Lord wanting me to invest time with a spiritual mentor and I have someone in mind, however, I don't know how to go about asking her or even what we do in our time together. Can you offer an advice??


Since I receive this question often, I'll share parts of my response with you.... :)

For years and years I prayed very specifically that God would bring a Godly mentor into my life. In 2007, the Lord graciously introduced me to Mary Swierenga. Although we go to different churches, our paths crossed (thank You, Lord!)

Mary is an amazing, seasoned Bible teacher, prayer warrior, and woman of the Lord. I cherish our times together. Here we are studying in her office last winter...

Mary and I pray together, we go for walks or I come and sit on her porch (so a lot of my learning is not very structured). We also read the same devotion (Sparkling Gems by Rick Renner ~ my FAVORITE!) and we talk about what we read for the day. This fall I'm also attending a weekly class she teaches on prayer. I love it!

Mary always reminds me to point others to the Scripture ("Give 'em the meat, Cindy" ~ she says, "not some 'little dab will do ya!'") I am so thankful for her presence and mentoring in my life!

To someone seeking a advice would be pray!

If you sense God is calling you to ask someone ~ go for it! And then communicate clearly what you are hoping for (prayer support, wisdom, encouragement, Bible growth, etc..) God is so faithful and I'm confident He'll bring a mentor your way in His perfect time.....



How about for you, bloggy friends? Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor? What have you learned about mentoring? We'd love to learn from you!

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Only God! (& My Exciting Update) PART 2

Hey Friends!

I'm so excited to share a "little bit" of what God is up to in my life! (In case you missed yesterday's post, you may want to start

Over the past few years, I started to pray specifically about writing out
my testimony.

Whenever I speak somewhere, without fail, others will ask if I have a book. Often someone will say,
"I just wish my neighbor/mom/sister could hear your story. Please write your book".

However, one problem, I'm not a writer, and the thought of writing a book about my life seemed impossible.

Instead I kept praying. My friends and I sensed I should start writing my
Red Hot Bible study.

And then last March God opened the door for me to meet with an amazing, well respected, international ministry. Since that time, I've been praying, writing scripts, meeting with the team, and watching God perform an absolute miracle before my very eyes.

Whereas I'm not at liberty to share all the details of our upcoming project, I do have permission to share the first part. Are you ready??

Coming up in a few weeks, I'm heading to.....

I grew up in Kokomo, so I'm heading there with the Day of Discovery film crew so they can make a documentary of my life.

Can you believe it?!

When it's complete, the documentary will be shown on TV stations around the country.

Only God!

I'll also have a DVD of my journey from rejection to redemption to share with other hurting, broken individuals. I can't wait to boast of God's goodness and grace!

You must know I am terrified of this project, and the thought of speaking into a video camera while others are watching makes my stomach hurt. Going wardrobe shopping with the production assistant (although she is amazing!) nearly made me break out in hives.

May I ask for your prayer support?? PLEASE?! :)

I'll be in Kokomo October 10th & 11th. Would you please pray for a fresh measure of God's power, peace and Presence? Prayers for my health (my family too!) would also be so appreciated (you may remember I often get sick - or get lice - right before big events!)

May the story of what God is doing through the horrible, painful mistakes of my life encourage you and remind you that NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE with God.

Only God could take a shy, insecure girl from Kokomo Indiana ~ and not only rescue and redeem me from years of self destructive choices, but give me a brand new reputation, and then flood my life with His grace, love and joy. Only God!

And only God could provide me with such an amazing group of bloggy friends ~ near and far!

When I was meeting with the film crew and told them about you all, the head of video production said, "Absolutely! Tell them all about this project! We can take lots of pictures in Kokomo so they can join you!" (Thanks, Fred!)

I can't wait to share photo highlights with you, my sweet friends!

Isn't God fun?! :)

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*, and for your prayers, friendship and support.

God's richest blessings to you~

P.S. In case you now have the "Kokomo" song in your head (by the Beach Boys) ~ you can sing along here.....

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

Monday, September 26, 2011

Only God! (& My Exciting Update)

Hope you had a GREAT 1st weekend of Fall! For fun fall family ideas, check out my Fall Family Fun from A to Z Guide. Enjoy!

Hi Friends!

I'm so excited to share a fun, exciting update with you! :)

First some quick background info.....

In 1996, God saved my life. Literally.

(In case you've not heard my story, you can read it

Soon after my drug overdose, I committed my life to Jesus Christ.

Best. Decision. Ever.

As I began to walk in grace, Truth and freedom, doors began to open for me to share my journey.

Although I'm just a "shy girl from Indiana" who never enjoyed talking in front of people, I made God a promise.

After giving me a second chance at life, I would do anything God asked of me. If it was telling my story ~ I would do it. Anytime. Anywhere. For Him.

In the past 15 years, I've shared my story in all kinds of fun places around the country.



Mars Hill Bible Church at standing room only capacity.

1:1 Coffee shop meetings

Homeless Shelters

Church Basements

Living Room filled with single moms


Fancy Christmas Teas

You get the drift. :)

I'll confess, every time I'm about to share my stomach is in knots and I feel like I'm going to be sick. Every single time. And yet, if God can use my story for His purpose and glory, I'll be there.

Imagine my surprise when last March, an international ministry asked me to have lunch with them. (Me?!)

As I sat around the table, I met an amazing, Christ-centered team made up of video producers, publishers, and marketing members. This team had heard of how God is using my story and my Red Hot Bible study to impact women in West Michigan.

At the end of our lunch gathering, the head of publishing leaned over to me and asked if I'd be interested in doing a project with them. (Me?!)

I've spent the past 6 months praying, dreaming, meeting, writing, praying more (and begging my friends to join me in prayer!), and asking God what in the world He is up to!

Earlier this month, I gathered with this team again. Plans are starting to come together, and it is ONLY GOD Who could/would orchestrate all of this.

I asked the team if I could let you, my dear *She Sparkles* friends, in on some of the fun. Whereas I'm not at liberty to tell you everything (just yet!) ~ I can fill you in on one exciting part that's happening very soon!


To be continued tomorrow....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Facing Our Fears

Only 2 more days to Fall! Be sure to check out my Fall Family Fun from A to Z Guide. Woo Hoo!

Hey Friends!

What are you most afraid of?

I've been reflecting on this question a lot these days, especially as I head into a season where I'll be facing my biggest fear in a new (and somewhat terrifying!) way!

More to come on a new, very exciting "only God project" later this week...

But today I'd like to introduce you to a She Speaks friend, Jessica Kirkland. Jessica's testimony of pressing through her fear during her pregnancy with triplets, and how God is now redeeming her story is so inspiring and faith-building.

(She's recently launched Christian Apps 4 Kids. The Sounds of Night is a beautifully illustrated children's book that teaches that God is our protector from the things we fear. Awesome!)

Here's Jessica....

Tomorrow Had Come by Jessica Kirkland

“For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” - 2 Timothy 1:7

In every season of life, the Enemy would whisper the lie that I would “never make it” to the next. I believed it. Time and time again, I thought his words held power. As a young child, I never thought I would live to see my school years. Once I entered school, I never thought I would live to see the next day, next grade, or milestone in life. I listened to a very real enemy, even though I didn’t want to. Even though I came from a strong, Christian family, I felt powerless to stop the lies. Fear gripped me, stole from me, and taunted every careful step I took.

I gave my heart to Christ at six years old, yet fear still held me tight. Though I had renewed hope, the whispers and lies continued to flow and drown out truth through every season. When, I heard the words that burned a hole straight through, I was nose-to-nose with what appeared to be the sum of all my fears.

“Mrs. Kirkland, you have congestive heart failure. If your babies are born now, they will probably not live or be severely impaired.”

I was twenty-six weeks pregnant with triplets. In the beginning, I had been pregnant with quads, but had lost one child at 14 weeks. I never imagined we might all go meet Jesus on the same day. I mourned the thought of my husband walking through life alone. I grieved for the children that would either die, be disabled on this earth, or grow up motherless. And I burned with anger, not just because of the oxygen mask strapped to my face as I struggled for breath and life, but for twenty-five years of allowing Satan to tell me that I would never make it to tomorrow.

Tomorrow had come.

As nurses whirled around me, I prayed Acts 17:25 out loud, “…You give life and breath to everything, and satisfy every need.” I pleaded with the God I personally knew through a relationship with His Son, Jesus. I knew He had a plan for my life that was good according to Jeremiah 29:11. In my humanity, I struggled with the thought that death might be His plan for us on that day.

Today, we are parents to three healthy five-year-olds. You would never know they were born nine weeks premature. The joy that Satan has stolen from me in 30 years, through a spirit of fear, is great. I imagine if you strung each lying sentence end-to-end, they might wrap the globe. Yet, I have promised to tell others of God’s miracles in my life and do my part in setting captives free. Tomorrow had come, but so had Jesus, and it is He who has defeated the grave. ~ Jessica

“For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

Jessica Kirkland lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, Robb, and five-year-old triplets. She is an author and speaker whose greatest passion in life is to see young families grow deeper in their walk with God. Jessica's newest adventure includes launching Christian Apps 4 Kids, which seeks to draw kids closer to Christ one app at a time. A recent release is a book app that addresses fear and scary nighttime sounds called The Sounds of Night, designed for kids ages 2-8. It is currently available on iPad, iPhone and all Android devices. When Jessica isn't writing, you can find her cheering her boys on at the soccer field, or watching her little girl at the dance studio.

To find out more about her current writing projects, connect with her at: or on her personal blog:

To purchase The Sounds of Night at iTunes:

To purchase The Sounds of Night in the Android Market:

What a great resource, Jessica! Thanks for sharing your gifts with us!

And I'd love to hear from you, dear friends! What are you most afraid of? How is God bringing you through these fears? Any tips you've learned along the way? Share with us please!

Have a wonderful, courageous Wednesday! I thank God for you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: "Award Winning" Chicken Chili!

Hey friends! Happy Tasty Tuesday to you!! :)

I was recently at a wedding, and an old friend was sharing how she loves reading *She Sparkles*. (Thanks L.F.!)

My friend was telling me how much she appreciated my authenticity with my "weight stuff" (my least favorite topic to talk about - ugh!).

She also said how much she liked my recipes. "Cindy cooks like I do ~ quick, easy & with a crockpot)" was her thought when reading my recipes.

Yep, that's how we roll these days...especially when we're in the midst of football, hockey, and cheerleading practices (and that was just my Monday!)

For the next few weeks (especially as we're in a very full fall season) ~ I'd love to share more "quick, easy, & with a crockpot" recipes. Do you have any favorites you'd like to share? Please send them to me at If it passes the "Bultema taste-testers" (smile!) ~ I'd love to feature you and your recipe on an upcoming Tasty Tuesday.

For today, in honor of the many new friends stopping by *She Sparkles*, I'll share my "award winning" Chicken Chili recipe. Enjoy this re-post from last fall. Yum!

As many of you know, I love chicken chili!

I've shared my favorite Chicken Chili recipe before, but over the past few weeks, I've been on the look-out to see if I could find a new favorite.

What Chicken Chili recipe would qualify as Award winning??

I've tried white chicken chili, chicken chili with corn, chicken chili with salsa verde. I even tried Beth Moore's family's chicken chili recipe. My poor family has been eating so much chicken chili ~ I even started giving it out to friends and neighbors! :)

Why have I been going to all of this trouble you may wonder??

Well, this past Saturday was my church's 1st Annual Chili Cook-off!! And my girls and I decided to enter! (Our very first Chili Cook-off, we had no idea what to expect.....)

Here are some photo highlights...

My little Chicken Chili station. Notice my recipe was called, "Cindy's Amazing Chicken Chili" :)

Here I am (taken by my daughter Amanda) before the fun began.... I must confess to being a little nervous. I'm certainly not known for my cooking!

Let the Chicken Chili tasting begin!! There were about 20 different chilis to try, and 3 different categories you could vote for (traditional, vegetarian, and creative). Notice in the photo below, my chili is almost halfway gone!

And when it was time for the votes to be tallied and the winners to be announced....imagine my surprise when they shared....

"The winner of the 1st Annual Chili Cookoff ~ Traditional is Cindy Bultema".

Woo Hoo!

Here I am (with my two girls & our prize ~ a new embroidered apron ~ what fun!) and the amazing other winners!

Here, once again, is my favorite Chicken Chili known as

"Cindy's Award Winning Chicken Chili" ~ smile :)

2 large chicken breasts cooked & diced (I boil the chicken ~ W. Mi friends try "Miller chix")
1 jar salsa
1 small can chicken broth
1 small jar Great Northern beans
1 2C bag shredded cheddar cheese

Crock pot - low- 3-4 hours

I usually have sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo, and chips to top the chili. :)

How easy is that?? Enjoy!!!

What's for dinner at your house tonight?? I'd love to hear your Tasty Tuesday ideas!! And don't forget to send me your favorite crockpot recipes!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Have a Terrific Tuesday!!

P.S. This post is dedicated to my amazing friend, ministry partner, and kindred spirit Julie Richardson.
The Chicken Chili recipe originally comes from Julie. Julie is traveling in Turkey this week, and I miss her like crazy already. Love to you across the seas, my friend! :)

P.S.S I am participating in Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday, Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday's, and Tuesday's at the Table recipe exchanges. For more delicious recipes, please check out these links. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Arr You Ready for "Talk Like A Pirate" Day?

If you haven't signed up for my Carol Kent giveaway, it's not too late! Be sure to check out Carol's latest DVD project ~ it's awesome! :)

Today is International "Talk Like A Pirate" Day!

We've never celebrated "Talk Like A Pirate" day before, but maybe this year we'll give it a try! We're always on the lookout for new "Monday-Fun Day" ideas!

When we were talking about this yesterday, my little Sarah's first question was, "How do you talk like a pirate?" Good question! We spent yesterday practicing. :)

Here's some helpful hints we discovered...
5 Basic Pirate Words

Ahoy! - "Hello!"

Avast! - Stop and give attention. It can be used in a sense of surprise, "Whoa! Get a load of that!" which today makes it more of a "Check it out" or "No way!" or "Get off!"

Aye! - "Why yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did."

Aye aye! - "I'll get right on that sir, as soon as my break is over."

Arrr! - "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "My team is going to win it all," and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!

Be sure to check out your pirate name, and if you really want to get festive, go here and you can turn all your email/FB updates/and tweets into pirate language. Oh my!

But who knows, I might throw in a "Talk Like A Pirate" treasure hunt later today!
What do you have planned for your Monday Fun-Day today??
Hearty thanks fer stoppin' by *She Sparkles*!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fantastic Friday Giveaway: Carol Kent's DVD/Study Guide Set

Hey Friends!

Happy Weekend to you! :)

If you've spent any time hanging out here at *She Sparkles*, you know I have a ton of respect and admiration for my friend, award winning writer & dynamic communicator, Carol Kent.

Carol's latest book, "Between A Rock and A Grace Place" has been a tremendous source of strength, encouragement, and inspiration to many women (and men) around the world!

If you haven't read it yet, trust will LOVE it!

Last winter, I had the joy of sitting in with Carol and 20 other amazing, beautiful women, along with the Zondervan team, as Carol taped 6 powerful teachings to correspond with her best-selling book.

And guess what?? The DVD's are ready!! Introducing the "Between A Rock And A Grace Place Kit" Woo Hoo!

Here's more...

"Bestselling author Carol Kent teaches this six-session video based study of facing the challenges of life and discovering the last thing you ever expected-the sweet spot of grace.

Join Carol as she teaches the liberating truth that when we are caught between a rock and a hard place, we are given a choice: Will we place ourselves in a posture of humility and complete dependence on God, or will we just “try harder” and stumble over what could be a transforming encounter with grace?

With hope, joy and a sense of humor, Carol Kent will help you and your group see God’s “grace places” in the middle of your worst moments.

Each pack contains one soft cover participant’s guide and one six-session DVD study. Retail: $31.99

Not only are Carol's teachings awesome, the publisher sent a production team to Florida to videotape her son Jason behind the razor wire. Cameo appearances from Jason are featured in each of the six sessions of the small group study. You will find him honest, transparent, humble, and encouraging.

Trust me, you are going to love this series!!! :)

You could go here to order a kit, OR you could enter to win one here....because I was graciously given 3 sets to giveaway to you!! Yippee!

To Win my Between A Rock and A Grace Place Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why would you like to win Carol Kent's Between A Rock and A Grace Place DVD Set & Study Guide??

Extra Entries:

•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.

RULES: Starts today, Friday, September 16th and ends Monday, September 19th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog during the week of September 20th.

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'll close with these powerful words shared by Carol (from 1 Peter 4).

"Be encouraged with these words: Friends when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (MSG)

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

P.S. Here's a little promo of the DVD's. See if you can find me too! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Family Fun ~ A to Z Style!

Hey Friends!

Can I just tell you ~ I love FALL! :)

I love the smells, the beautiful colors, the traditions. And one of the main kids have taught me how to enjoy the season! They love jumping in leaves, picking apples, decorating our porch, football games, and more!

I am pleased to share some of our favorite family activities, plus other simple, inexpensive ways for you to make the most of your fall ~ A to Z style!!

(A quick disclaimer....I've tried to think of things that you could participate in regardless of the city you live in. I've included many links to other amazing sites for even more ideas. Be sure to check them out! *** For my Grand Rapids friends, many of the ideas have links that will lead you to more specific local 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). Enjoy!

*Fall Family Fun ideas from A to Z*....A - Apples!! Apple orchards, apple picking, apple baking (Grand Rapids orchards & times here); OR Artprize

B- Bingo (Autumn bingo w/ autumn color M&M's ~ always a kid favorite); OR Baking (great fall recipes here) OR bike rides enjoying the beautiful fall colors

C - Corn Mazes OR Color Tours OR Caramel popcorn (delicious, easy recipe here) OR Fall Crafts

D - Doughnuts and cider OR Decorate your front porch together (Fun kid decorating ideas here)

E - Events (tons of Fall events in our community ~ GR's Family Fun calendars here & here) OR Eat out (the food court at the mall is always a fun experience for kids)
F- Football Games OR 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 - Hay Rides

I - Ice Cream Sundae Night (info here)

J - Jump in leaves OR 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, fall doughnut!

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

M - Mazes! Indoor fall mazes here or corn mazes OR Movie Night (Fun Family Movie Night ideas 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!)
O - Enjoy the great outdoors with Outdoor Games (lots of game ideas here) OR Opposite Day (Do everything backwards! Eat breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast!)

P - Pumpkins! Baking & Carving & Decorating
OR Pizza Party ~ Let the kids make their own pizza!

Q - Quiet time ~ Enjoy Fall Reading at home (Great resource list here) OR head to your local library for some quiet reading and/or story time activities. (The link for Kent District Library events ~
R - Rake leaves (be sure to jump in them afterwards!)

S -Scarecrow Making; Scavenger Hunt (ideas here)

T - Treasure Hunt

U - Underwater activities ~ Find a local 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 (and I love room service ~ no cooking for mom)!!

V - Volunteer. Rake a neighbor's lawn. Walk a neighbor's dog. Pick up trash. The ideas are endless...

W - Walk! Walk to the nearest park and enjoy the beautiful colors. Or walk around the block backwards.

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! (Grand Rapids' John Ball Park link

Woo Hoo!! I'm so excited for Fall!

What a perfect opportunity to enjoy our children and participate in many of the seasonal outings and activities . Let's make our ordinary fall days "extraordinary"!! :)

What family fun activities do you have planned this fall?? I'd love to hear from you!
May your Fall be filled with much joy, laughter, and fun, family moments!!

P.S. For more Things I Love Thursday ideas, hop on over to visit Jill @ The Diaper Diaries!

P.S.S. A special thanks to Big Binder, GR, Family Fun, Parents Magazine, Kaboose, & Chocolate Cake Moments for letting me pass along some of your fun family ideas!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Worship Wednesday: The Truth About Me

Hey Friends!

I hope you are having a Wonderful Wednesday!!

I have to confess...I've been smiling so much the last two days, my mouth hurts! There are some amazing opportunities going on in my world, and I cannot wait to share what God is doing.

More to come very soon...promise! It's a HUGE God thing! Woo Hoo!

For today, I AM GOING TO SPEND MY DAY IN WORSHIP! Besides my "Theme song", and "Be Magnified", I'm adding a new song to my arsenal of praise! It's another Mandisa favorite..."The Truth About Me".

If you've not heard it before, please take a listen...

I LOVE IT!! It's as if the words were selected for me and the journey I will be going through this season. (Thank you, Mandisa!)

Friends, I'm not sure what circumstances you are faced with today...but may we know, live, and walk in the TRUTH of who God says that we are!!

Praying for you, my dear bloggy friend, and asking Him to bless you in a special, powerful, and unique way!!!

Enjoy your Worship-filled Wednesday!

P.S. The winners of my Verse-ability giveaway are Barbie, Meredith, Kathy, April, and Blessed Mama. (Winners, will you please send me your mailing address?) Thank you, Darlene, for blessing us with your generosity!!

P.S.S. Be sure to stop back tomorrow....I have another great giveaway! Woo Hoo! :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marriage Monday: Keep the Spark Alive!

Hi Friends!! Welcome to Marriage Monday!

My friend Julie from Come Have A Peace shares Marriage encouragement every Monday, and I'm pleased to join in the fun today!

Today I'm wondering...

How do you keep the spark alive in a marriage??

I was reflecting on this question a lot over the weekend as we celebrated the wedding of John's brother Jim to Gwen (my new sister-in-law ~ woo hoo!)

The wedding ceremony was beautiful ! Not to mention, the wedding party consisted of a handsome best man and a gang of adorable kids ~ also known as mine! :)

The outdoor reception was absolutely breathtaking! It was held at Gwen's family's cottage located on Lake Michigan,
overlooking the sandy beach - complete with fireworks over the lake at the end of the night -breathtaking!

Jim and Gwen are clearly head over heels in love, and I pray God would bless them with a lifetime of joy!

On our drive home from the reception, I was thinking....what would be the Top 5 things I would share with a newly married couple about "Keeping the Spark Alive" in a marriage.

Not that I'm a marriage expert, but after 11 years of marriage with my husband (and still head over heels with my man too!) ~ here are my thoughts...

1. Make time for each other every day.

John and I try to have 15 minutes of "face time" (I call it "honey time") where we just chat...about our days, our feelings, etc.. The kids know mom and dad need their "honey time". If we are too busy to connect 1:1, we are too busy and something must go from our schedule!

2. Look for ways to love/serve him. Put his needs first.

Even in the midst of a crazy full house with 4 kids and a loud dog, I ask God to give me eyes to see how I can serve John. I try and make his favorite meals. Have his favorite little goodies in the house. Pray for him. Ask about his day at work (and really listen). Take the kids on bike rides so he can relax. Carve out time so he can "putz" out in the yard. Pay attention to his "love language" and keep his bucket filled. Put his needs above my own.

3. Greet him each day with a hug and a kiss.

This has not been easy ~ especially when we had 3 kids in diapers! But I strive each day to be out of my gym clothes, lipstick on, and ready to greet John with a hug and a kiss when he gets home from work. :) It helps set the tone of our night. (I have to race my dog to see who reaches John first, but I'm pretty fast these days!)

4. Date each other, and remember to take "mini moons".

I'll be honest, it takes a lot of work and scheduling to get away with John, but it is worth it! Having time together, just the two of us, helps keep the sparks alive in our marriage!

5. Laugh together!

I love laughing with my John. One example...he likes to make funny faces when I try to take our picture together. What a jokester ~ but he makes me crack up every time! Laughter is good medicine! (And I always warn him, "this one's going on the blog!)

What about for you?? How do you keep your marriage sparks alive?? I'd love to hear from you!!

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

P.S. Andy Stanley shared a great teaching at Willowcreek called "Staying in Love" if you'd like to explore this further. You can watch it here.

P.S.S. Thanks for 11 years, honey. :) Looking forward to many more years together.....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Verse-ability (& Giveaway!)

Hey Friends!

Happy Thursday to you! Today I'm thrilled to join Jill (my friend and neighbor from The Diaper Diaries) in Things I Love Thursday!

There are many things that I love...God's Word being right at the top of the list!

I'm always looking for new and creative ways to fill my heart and head with God's Truth.

Last winter, as I was in the midst of a very "Character building" season, my dear friend Darlene blessed me with verse card after verse card of God's promises written for ME! It was such a powerful blessing!

Darlene, the founder of Verse-ability and the creator of my personalized verse cards, would like to share the gift with others.

In fact, Darlene is offering to giveaway 5 personalized gifts to 5 blessed *She Sparkles* readers. Woo Hoo!!!

You can choose from a personalized Verse Pack (business-card sized Scriptures, packaged in a custom woodgrained pocket box).

Or a Promise Verse Book (32 paraphrased Christian Scripture verses personalized with your first name. The books are coil-bound and have easel backs).

I am so *THRILLED* to be able to share FIVE of these awesome, power-packed resources!! Yippee!!

To Win my Verse-ability Giveaway:

Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why would you like to win this Verse-ability Giveaway??

Also, would you prefer the VersePack or Verse Book?

(And if you would like to win this for someone other than yourself, please be sure to share the name you would like personalized. You can even hop over to Verse-ability and pick your favorite color and format. If you could pick one ~ which would it be??)

RULES: Starts today, Thursday, September 8th, 2011 and ends Monday, September 12th at 9 PM. Winner will be contacted via e-mail.

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".

For more Things I Love Thursday ideas, hop on over to visit Jill @ The Diaper Diaries!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Have a life-giving, Truth-filled week!

P.S. A HUGE THANKS to Darlene for your very generous GIVEAWAY gift! I love, love, love being able to share TRUTH with others. Thanks, Darlene, for making this possible! :) May God bless you for your generosity and graciousness! :)

P.S.S. The winner of my "The Story of Your Life" GIVEAWAY is Amelia! Thank you to all who entered! And thank you Matthew West and Angela Thomas for writing such an amazing book! :)

Disclosure: I received a free set of "Verse-ability" verse cards, but no other payment or compensation was received for this post. As always the opinons expressed are all mine. :)
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