Sunday, January 29, 2012

A to Z Memory Verse Challenge - "C" Verse & Giveaway!

Hey Friends!

Welcome back to the A to Z Memory Verse Challenge 2012! I'm so glad you are here!

In case you missed it, look at how this creative mom and how her family practiced the "B verse" this week.....

What fun!! Please keep your pictures, comments and ideas coming! :)

In case you are new to the A to Z Challenge, you can catch up here
! Basically, I'll be sharing a new verse every other week (A to Z style) through December 2012. I also have lots of fun prizes to share with Memory Verse Challenge participants!

Here are the verses we've learned so far....

A - As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b

B - Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

and now C -

C - Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Memorizing Ideas ~

* Don't forget the food coloring idea (see pic above!)

* For families, you may want to print off a letter C here on colored cardstock. Write the verse on the "C", and hang it on your refrigerator.

* Memorize it by song. This mom said her 2 1/2 year old memorized Psalm 51:10 while singing it together. There are many different versions of Psalm 51:10 to music. Here's one...

**Feel free to share your favorite tips, ideas, even pictures. I'd love to share your suggestions and/or link to you in the weeks to come!

Giveaways ~

Thanks to the extreme generosity of Verseability, one of my Verse Challenge Sponsors, I am thrilled to share TONS of great GIVEAWAYS with you! For this week....

* Memory Verse Challenge Participants ~ I have 10 free custom A to Z Memory Versebooks ($8.00 value, plus free s/h) to share. Woo hoo!

The Kidz A to Z versebooks have ALL of the verses we'll be memorizing this year....however, I hope you'll keep coming back here and checking in! I've learned accountability is KEY to victory!

Also, although the versebooks were designed with kids in mind, I have one by my kitchen sink and I love it! My husband John took one to work and has it on his desk. The kids have one in their bathroom. I love the Kidz Versepack!

To Win my A to Z Kidz Memory Versepack Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why have you've decided to participate in this A to Z Memory Verse Challenge?

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, Monday, January 30th and ends Thursday, February 2nd at 9 PM. Winners will be posted on my blog during the week of February 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".

For everyone ~ please check in and let us know you are still with us on the challenge! I love hearing who you are and where you are from!

If you are a blogger, link in! What fun to blog hop and see how you are implementing the verses. Friends, please stop by and say hello to these fun A to Z Participants too!!!!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Happy Memorizing!

P.S. Verseability has also made a custom A-Z Versepack that contains all 26 of the verses for the year. The Versepacks are business card sized and perfect for carrying in your purse or pocket and are available for a special price of $ 5.00, plus shipping. You can order them by e-mailing:
. Be sure to mention *She Sparkles* to get the special rate.

Disclosure: I was not provided with any financial compensation for this giveaway, and as always, all opinions are mine.

Starbucks Winners & Randomness

Hey Friends :)

Happy Weekend to you! I've missed you!!!!! I've definitely needed some time to "focus", but I sure miss hearing how y'all are doing! Please fill me in on what is new with you!

Here's a couple of quick updates, and then I'll share the 15 winners of a Starbucks e-card (from the "B' Memory Verse Challenge)

* Do you like the picture of me and my husband John? We enjoyed the blessing of a great date night on Friday (thanks Mom & Dad for keeping the whole gang overnight, and Gwen for the yummy gift certificate). I think John is tired of my picture taking. I always warn him "that's going on the blog!". Never a dull moment with John ~ that is for sure! Love.

* Thanks for praying for my writing project! My deadline is this Tuesday, January 31st. I have some finishing "polishing work" to do - and then Tuesday I'll hand over my 8 session Bible study to the video crew. What a weird feeling this will be!

* The video/publishing team has given me the "ok" to fill you in on what I've been up to. (They know how much I love and value your prayer support!). Coming soon (hopefully this week), I'll be letting "the cat out of the bag". Promise. Only 46 days until it begins....

* The "C" Verse will be posted tomorrow from the A to Z Memory Verse Challenge (with another generous giveaway)! I love seeing your pictures and updates. In fact, look at what this creative mom sent this morning....

Cindy, What do you do on a SUPER snowy morning in Michigan...write your A-Z memory verse in the snow with food coloring and then decorate the backyard!

Love it!! What is new with you my dear bloggy friend?? Fill us in please!

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

P.S. The winners of the Starbucks e-cards are....

Memory Verse Participants...

1. Natasha from MI

2. Rene from TX

3. Shannon D from CA

4. April from VA.

5. Denise from TN

6. tleyen from NC

7. Dawn from CO

8. Michelle from Canada

9. Sherry from MyJourneyBack in TX

10. AubreyLaine

11. Mary Sue Owens from TX

12. Deb Huntley from MI

13. Natalie from KS

14. Courtney from MI

15. Meredith M. from MI

Blogger Winners

1. The Rumley Family

2. Little Writer Momma

3. Cotton Pickin Cute

4. Choose Freedom

5. In the Throne Room

A huge THANKS to all who have entered! Winners, please be sure I have your e-mail address, and watch for a Starbucks gift card later this week (probably Wednesday). Woo Hoo!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Renewal for the Weary, Exhuasted Soul

Hey friends!

How are you doing??? Truthfully, I'm exhausted - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. My time with April was amazing (thanks for praying!) ~ but boy is my brain tired. 3 full days of writing, praying and studying have left me in a fog. Have you ever been there before too??

Today starts a week that is full with teaching at a Red Hot retreat this Saturday, my writing deadline next Tuesday, not to mention life with 4 kids and my sweet husband.

In an effort this week to focus, I'm going to unplug from blogging for the week. :(

I'll miss you....but look forward to re-connecting on Monday, January 30th with the next A to Z Memory Verse and another FUN giveaway. Thanks for understanding.....

I'll leave you with a post from this spring when I didn't unplug and learned the hard way. I needed to re-read this today.

Have a refreshing, joy-filled week!

A few weeks ago, I crashed. Big time.

My poor family ~ for days and days I shuffled along in my pj's and slippers...exhausted, weary, empty. The couch and my blanky became my close friends. It wasn't typcial me. It wasn't pretty.

Thankfully, God has been renewing my weary soul. He's breathed fresh life into me. Today, I'm feeling "built up" rather than "burnt out". I sense "Cindy" is back! (Whew!)

I'm taking very good notes during this season of "rebuilding". I want to learn (really learn!) these lessons. I don't go through "Crash~ville" again!

I want to live at a "sustainable pace" and experience all that God has for me ~ His life, fullness, abundance and joy!

Someday maybe I'll share in more detail about the initial re-filling. It would include things like....


Putting on lipstick (even when I don't feel like it). Feeding myself good, whole food.

Letting the "shoulds" go.

Turning off the computer. Canceling some appointments. Saying "no" to good things.

Letting my email inbox stay full for awhile. Snuggling with my kids.

Forgetting about the piles. Praying with others.

Breathing....inhaling and exhaling. Feeling my feelings (even the disappointments). Walking my dog.

time with good friends. Soaking in His love.

Yesterday, after recess duty, prayer walking, and coffee with a friend ~ I went into one of favorite party stores
. felt GOOD.

I purchased sombreros, maracas, and fiesta supplies.

It was time for us to get our party back on!

My kids invited some neighborhood friends over for a fun little Cinco de Mayo

And the happy, non-weary, fully alive party hosts....

My sweet friend, as we head into another full week ~ may I encourage you to build into your day the things that YOU love!

Take time to enjoy the sunshine.

Smell (or plant) some flowers.

Let your inbox stay full.

Take a day off from social media. (It'll be ok, really! :))

Soak in His love.

Jesus came to give us LIFE to the full....His amazing, superabundant, better than we ever dreamed of life.

Let's live it out LOUD!

I've so enjoyed hearing your ideas on how you maintain a balanced life (thank you!).

I'd love for you to share your thoughts on how you experience and enjoy FULL life. What do you do (or not do) to stay filled up?? I'd love to hear from you!!

I'm off to share life with a friend....and then off to soak in the SON! :)

Sweet blessings to you ~

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! :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

*She Sparkles* Top 10

Hey Friends!

Happy Weekend to you! I hope your weekend is filled with much laughter and joy-filled moments!

I'll be hanging out with my friend
April ~ writing, "tweaking" and praying. Can't wait!!!

I recently came across something interesting ~ my Top 10 blog posts!

Although there are many ways to track blog traffics, statistics, page views, etc... ~ I never do any of that stuff. Not that it's bad (it can be very helpful, insightful, etc..) ~ I just know my personality, and I don't want to get caught up in numbers.

My hope on *She Sparkles* is just to encourage, point to Jesus, be real, share Truth, celebrate and get to know y'all. :)

Yesterday I was trying to add a "search this blog" to my sidebar. Guess what? It worked! I hope this helps you find old blog posts by topic. See it in my sidebar to the right? :)

While I doing this, I came across another new feature from blogger ~ your Top 10 blog posts. You can rank them in different ways ~ so I decided to compile a list of my Top 10 blog posts since *She Sparkles* started in March of 2009.

I was surprised by my # 1 viewed post. Want to take a guess??

It wasn't my testimony (good guess!), or my About me page (another good guess!).

The Top Blog Post from *She Sparkles* is......

Coping Strategives for the Frazzled Woman from this past summer!

Isn't that crazy? The post when I thought I was going to lose my mind and was totally wrestling with maintaining my "joy" in the midst of having a house full of kids at home ~ ended up being #1. I hope it was an encouragement. Or maybe it was just a relief to other women to know they were not alone.

(And if you'd like a copy of my 10 coping strategies, leave me your e-mail address. My graphic designer friend typed it up all nice for me to share!)

Here's the rest of the Top 10.... (All the links are live if you want to check any of them out).

2. About Cindy

3. Summer Fun from A to Z

4. A to Z Memory Verse Challenge Kick-off

5. A to Z Memory Verse Challenge details

6. My Testimony

7. Tea Time - I love when I'm at the kids' school for recess and the kids say, "Hey Mrs. Bultema. We have Tea Time at our house now too!" :)

8. Thanksgiving Family Fun from A to Z

9. Where's the Line to See Jesus?

10. My Favorite Back to School Shopping Tip

So there's my Top 10. Any surprises?

Any thoughts on what it means?

So what are you up to this weekend? Any fun plans? How can I pray for you? I would love to hear from you!

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

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Top 5 in 2012

Hey Friends!

I'll be honest ~ I am intentionally choosing "gratitude" today.

It's been a long week filled with sickness, challenges, car breakdowns/repairs, long to-do lists, cancelled appointments (due to sick kids), and more!

But today, I will choose gratitude. I will choose joy. I will thank God only 3 out of 6 of us have had strep throat (and my mom, sorry Mom, for spreading it when they slept over!).

I will thank God that my daughter made it to the carpet rather than throwing up at the hockey game. I will choose peace in the midst of our chaos.

I have a choice....and I choose to thank Him! :)

I've been sitting on the couch with my sick Sarah, naming my blessings one by one. So many. no doubt about it ~ even in the midst of our challenges ~ I am blessed.

Here is my Top 5 Thankful Thursday list for today....

1. My Family ~ John, Jake, Benj, Manda & Sarah

Love them. What would I do without my gang?! :) Boy do they fill my life with JOY! :)

2. Amazing Ministry Opportunity ~

I've been hinting about it for awhile - and I think next week I'll completely spill the beans. I'll give you some clues. It has to do with a Bible study that I've written. Filming it on site in the ancient ruins. A long flight. And a God sized task that makes me cry tears of joy, humilty and unbelief everytime I think of it. Only God! (And 57 days until I go - yikes!)

3. April is coming ~

Year ago, I met my dear friend April. Although she lives in VA (and I'm in Michigan) - we immediately connected and God has grown our friendship in such beautiful ways over the years.

April is an editor extraordinaire, and she is coming to MI TONIGHT for 4 days to help me "polish" all of my writings before I submit them (my deadline is Jaunary 31st - yikes!).

I'm so thankful to April (and her family) for her willingness to come and help on this project, and to John and my family for letting me go to a hotel to pray, write, and work hard with April!

You can read Aprils "side of the story" here! :)

4. The *She Sparkles* A to Z Memory Verse Challenge ~

Ok, no joke, on December 27th I was praying about 2012 and God laid it on my heart to memorize verses again. Since 2012 is going to be nutty , I mean "full", I sensed "A to Z style" would be a good way to go. And then I sensed I was to invite all of you. :)

Within 24 hours I had an amazing sponsor, and a button....

....and on January 1, 2012 ~ men, women, and children all over the nation (world, actually!) joined in on the Memory Verse Challenge. Woo Hoo!

It fires me up me every time I receive sweet notes like this....

Hi Cindy, I wanted to let you know that our whole family is memorizing the was so cute because I was on a "date" with A at Hobby Lobby and she ran over to a cross that had the A verse on it and was so excited, "Mom, there's our verse!!!!" It was so fun to see her find it in another context...just putting more of it in her heart. Her sister, who is 4, is so proud of herself, although she says, "...we will save the Lord." But we'll accept it:)

Or this ~ I'm Tianne, a Missionary midwife student in the Philippines. From Michigan. I also posted about the challenge on my blog. My aunt Carol goes to a Bible study at your Church in GR and advised me to follow your blog and to do the memory verse challenge. I am really enjoying it :)

It's not too late to join us - we're only on "B"! More details here

5. God's Grace

Not a day goes by that I'm not reminded of who I was before Christ. I am so grateful to God for redeeming my life from the pit and giving me a firm place to stand and the new song He has given me! (If you've not heard my story, a recap is here.)

Only God could take a lonely, broken, single mom and not only rescue, deliver, and save me - but give me a clean heart and a brand new reputation. Only God!

I am forever grateful!

Whew!! So there's my Thankful Thursday Top 5 list!

After naming my gratitude list, I'm feeling better already! Isn't gratitude a beautiful thing?! :)

I am also thankful for my friends (near and far) for all of their help this week. I wouldn't have made it without the texts, phone calls, prayer support, FB messages, 3 hour lunch dates (Julie!), and notes of encouragement ! Thank you so very much!! I'm so glad God doesn't intend for us to journey alone!

What about for you?? On this Thankful Thursday, what are you thankful for today?? I'd love to hear from you!!

Many blessings to you!

P.S. I'm linking up with others for
Thankful Thursday and Laurie at Women Taking A Stand is our host! Come join us! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Groundhogs Day Family Fun

Have you joined the A to Z Memory Verse Challenge? It's not too late. All the details here - plus a Starbucks GIVEAWAY through Thursday, January 19th. Woo Hoo!

Hey Friends! :)

As you know ~ I love to celebrate!! :)

I love "marking moments", making ordinary days "extraordinary", and finding simple ways to brighten up our everyday lives.

I truly believe, "Life should not just lived, it should be celebrated!".

Thus, the reason I am thrilled February is almost here!!

Valentine's Day is one of my all-time favorite holidays, plus there's the Super Bowl (not that I like football - remember I'm a hockey mom - but I do like Super Bowl snacks!) and I have two special family member's birthdays to celebrate.

And let's not forget ~ Thursday, February 2nd.... Groundhogs Day!

Now please know, I really don't care if the Groundhog sees his shadow. I can never remember "which" means "what" anyway (shadow/no shadow, 6 weeks of winter ~ you know what I mean)! Who cares. :)

We started having Groundhog's Day parties a few years ago just for the FUN of it ~ and you know what, we have a ball! What a simple, easy way to have a little fun after school and spend time with friends. We love it! :)

How can you resist a cute little cupcake like this?? (Recipe

At the party, we also like to look on the internet to see if the Groundhog saw his shadow.

Again, we know Who decides how many weeks of winter are left, but the kids get a kick out of watching the news report.

And what party would be complete without crafts? You can get some great ideas
here or here or here.

What about for you?? Anything special you'll be celebrating over the next few weeks?? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by She Sparkles! Have a super, JOY-filled week!!

Many blessings to you~

P.S For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head over and visit Kristen at We Are That Family. :)

P.S.S. The winner of the Cornerstone Women's Leadership Conference is.......Amelia Rhodes. Thank you to all who entered!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A to Z Memory Verse Challenge - "B" Verse (& Starbucks giveaway!)

It's not too late to get started with the A to Z Challenge! In case you missed the details, you can catch up here !

Hey Friends!

Welcome back to the A to Z Memory Challenge! I hope you've been blessed by hiding God's Word in your heart!

I've loved hearing the stories of how this has been working for you and your family. 4 year olds saying their verse at breakfast. Kids reciting their verse on their way to school. One group of 50 women memorizing together! Keep up the great work everyone!

Are you ready for the next A to Z Memory Verse?!

Our verse # 2 -(the "B" verse) - Acts 16:31

B - Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved...

Memorizing Ideas ~

* Write the verse on a mirror with a dry erase marker. (This seemed to work well for lots of participants!)

* Instead of putting the verse on a note card, type it into your phone. (Recommendation from an A to Z friend - thanks Silly Mama!)

* For families, you may want to print off a letter B (here) on colored cardstock. Write the verse on the "B", and hang it on your refrigerator.

**Feel free to share your favorite tips, ideas, even pictures. I'd love to share your suggestions and/or link to you in the weeks to come!

Questions to Ponder/Discussion Ideas~

* What does this verse mean to me? to our family?? Spend time reflecting, journaling, praying, and discussing how Acts 16:31 can help shape you and your family in 2012.

* Read the story of how the Phillipian Jailer (& his family) placed their trust in God and immediately expressed that faith by being baptized (Acts 16:25-34). Share your experience of when you placed your faith in Jesus, and when you were baptized (if applicable).

Giveaways ~

Thanks to the generosity of many donors, I am excited to have giveaways to share with you each time a new verse is shared! For this week....

* Memory Verse Challenge Participants ~ I have 10 Starbucks e-cards to giveaway to 10 different participants! Woo hoo!

To Win my Giveaway: Please let us know you are participating in the challenge by "checking in" - i.e. leave your name, location, and who is participating from your family.

For example, I'd say....

Cindy Bultema, Michigan, we have 6 family members memorizing

(I thought it be fun to see where everyone is from. We have MANY states represented, plus Canada and the U.K.. My kids want to see if we can have all 50 states represented by the end of 2012. Will you help us get there??)

**10 random participants will receive an e-card to Starbucks. Yippee!

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 #atozverses

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

RULES: Starts today, Monday, January 16th and ends Thursday, January 19th at 9 PM. Winners will be posted on my blog during the week of January 23rd.

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".

* Bloggers ~ I also have 5 Starbucks e-cards to give to bloggers who shares this A to Z challenge on his/her blog and links up below. (Bloggers, please see notes in P.S. below.)

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*. Please don't forget to "check in" in the comment section so we know you are with us! Grab your index cards and let's do this together! Yippee!

Happy Memorizing ~

P.S. Bloggers ~ Thanks so much for sharing the *She Sparkles* Challenge on your blog. Please include the *She Sparkles* Scripture Memory Verse Challenge button on your post. (The button with embedding code is listed on my sidebar). Be sure to leave your blog address so I can stop by and say hello! Thanks so much! :)

She Sparkles Scripture Memory Challenge 2012

P.P.S. To help get us off to a great start, Verseability has made a custom A-Z Versepack that contains all 26 of the verses for the year. The Versepacks are business card sized and perfect for carrying in your purse or pocket and are available for a special price of $ 5.00, plus shipping. You can order them by e-mailing: Be sure to mention *She Sparkles* to get the special rate.

(I encourage you to check out the Verseability website to see the personalized Versebooks and Versepacks available, too. Great gifts for any occasion! Note: the A-Z Versepacks are not listed on the website).

Disclosure: I was not provided with any financial compensation for this giveaway, and as always, all opinions are mine.

Friday, January 13, 2012

100+ Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference

Don't forget the "B" verse for the A to Z Memory Verse Challenge will be shared on Monday! I'm also excited about the next giveaway. I'll give you a clue...I have e-cards from my favorite coffee shop to share with you! Woo Hoo!

Hey Friends!

Happy Weekend to you!

As I mentioned earlier, I've been meditating all week on the "A verse" from the Memory Verse Challenge.

A - As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. -Joshua 24:15b

Not wanting to be just a hearer of the Word, but also a doer (James 1:22), I've been asking God how we might best serve Him this year as a family.

Recently I stumbled on a powerful list of ways to serve by blogger extraordinaire Kristen at
We Are That Family.
(In case you're not familiar with Kristen and her family's amazing story - be sure to check it out. It fires me up everytime!)

Thank you, Kristen, for giving permission for me to share your list of 100+ ways for your family to make a difference with my *She Sparkles* friends. Enjoy!

100 Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference

1. Babysit for a single mom
2. Teach compassion with a Family Giving Box
3. Write a Family Mission Statement
4. Bake cookies for your local fire dept.
5. Pick up trash at local park as a family field trip
6. Create snack packs for Ronald McDonald residents
7. Welcome a new family to the neighborhood with a dessert and introduction
8. Pray for the poor of the world
9. Color a Smile-print coloring page to be given to lift someone in need up
10. Make a baby care kit for a baby in need
11. Take time each week to unplug as a family
12. Donate your time or treasure to the Make a Wish Foundation
13. Appreciate your church staff in some small, tangible way
14. Do yard work for an elderly neighbor
15. Make a Life Book for a child in Foster Care
16. Read You Were Made to Make A Difference as a family
17. Volunteer to cuddle babies at the hospital (older kids/teens are often allowed also)
18. Read Christmas Jars as family
19. Save loose change in a jar and give to a needy family at Christmas
20. Take a family volunteering vacation
21. Stop and say thank you to grocery clerks, waitresses. Ask them how they are doing.
22. Become a monthly sponsor to help pregnant girls in Kenya
23. Make a birthday cake for an underpriviledged child
24. Serve at home: make each other’s beds, clean up someone else’s mess
25. Write thank you notes to people who serve you: postman, yard guy, doctor, etc
26. Sponsor a child monthly (cannot recommend enough)
27. Make relief kits for disaster relief victims
28. Sew a sleeping bag for someone in need (easy pattern)
29. Volunteer at a non-profit
30. Make up some Hygiene Bags to pass out to local homeless people
31. Take your family on a tour of Red Cross
32. Put a monthly date on the calendar for a Family Service Night
33. Take a meal to a new family
34. Create a card for Habitat for Humanity new home owner
35. Encourage your older children to be a Mother’s Helper to a mom with young kids
36. Fill a backpack to help give a homeless person a lift up
37. Make birthday cards and deliver them to a local nursing home monthly
38. Donate books to Africa
39. Take your kids to a local Food Pantry with canned goods to donate
40. Deliver food for Meals on Wheels
41. Pray as a family on a regular basis for the people in your life.
42. Donate your hair to Locks of Love.
43. Give blood. (Take your kids with you and explain the importance).
44. Donate nice toys to cancer ward at a Children’s Hospital
45. Buy a mosquito net and help prevent malaria
46. Randomly celebrate each other with a special treat, meal, time
47. Donate school supplies to a classroom in need
48. Compliment and thank the teachers in your life
49. Buy a soccer ball for a child in poverty
50. Give a used bike to a homeless person
51. Donate coloring books/crayons to hospital emergency rooms
52. Host a 40 hour famine in your home (fast something!)
53. Give clothes to a family in need (call your church/school to find one)
54. Read to a special needs child
55. Only drink water for 2 weeks, give proceeds for clean water
56. Buy a goat for a family in extreme poverty
57. Give a donation in someone’s name to an organization you believe in
58. Send your used shoes to Reuse-a-Shoe
59. Become Certified Respite Caregivers to give Foster Family’s a babysitting
60. Decorate a Christmas tree at an elderly person’s house
61. Hold a collection drive: makeup, lotions, etc for women at a shelter
62. Find a Food Bank near you to volunteer
63. Deliver popcicles to children at a homeless shelter
64. Offer your pet for therapy to the elderly
65. Decorate nursing home rooms of residents with homemade art
66. Have regular “family nights” with games, ice cream, time together
67. Visit the NICU with treats for the doctors and anxious parents
68. Write to unsponsored children
69. Read to patients at a local hospital
70. Plan a family missions trip
71. Bake cookies, host a bake sale and donate money to the poor or a cause
72. Volunteer at a local animal shelter
73. Plant a garden and share the produce
74. Hold a drive for lightly-used stuffed animals for police stations SAFE program
75. Write letters to servicemen
76. Give a micro loan and change a family in a third world country
77. Smile. At everyone.
78. Make care packages for children in the hospital
79. Instead of a birthday gifts, ask for donations for a charity or food for a food pantry
80. Shop fair trade
81. Offer to decorate hospital hallways during the holidays
82. Ask your city about volunteering to remove graffiti
83. Host a Lemon-AID stand and donate proceeds Blood Water
84. Make no-sew fleece blankets for Hospice
85. Collect pencils for African children
86. Send a care package to our military
87. Read the Bible together as a family every day
88. Collect shoes for Shoes for Kids (started by an 11 year old girl)
89. Let kids choose a charity to donate to for one of their Christmas gifts
90. Become a foster family
91. Pay for someone’s drink in Starbuck’s drive-thru. Make sure your kids enjoy the act of kindness.
92. Help your kids starts a neighborhood or school Bible Study with their peers
93. Volunteer to plant flowers for your school/church flowerbeds
94. Make a Care Bag for a child in need
95. Adopt a child
96. Welcome home a hero at the airport
97. Complain less
98. Start a Kindness Club with your family
99. Let your light shine!
100. Look for opportunities to be the difference in someone’s life
101. Host a virtual food drive
102. Start a KidzRap on your street!
103. Purchase gifts through families fundraising for adoption.
104. Make a quilt for NICU familes
105. Pay the toll for the car behind you
106. Invite friends to Vacation Bible School
107. Help keep families together
108. Take someone flowers from your garden
109. Participate in Operation Christmas Child

**For live links, view the original list here.

What a powerful list, Kristen! Thank you so much for sharing! :)

Kristen has also given permission to print off this list. I'm posting it on our refrigerator so we can start highlighting the ideas as we complete them. Anyone else??!

(If you want to visit/connect with Kristen, please hop on over to her blog and say thank you and hello!)

I'd love to hear from you, dear friends! What are other ideas of how we can make a difference? How has your family served recently? Share with us please! I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by *She Sparkles*! Have a blessed weekend! :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cornerstone Women's Leadership Conference (& Giveaway)

Hey Friends!

I'll be honest....Women's Conferences used to scare me. Big time.

Because I've wrestled with insecurity most of my life, the thought of being surrounded by beautiful, "put together", wise, secure women made me terrified (and wanting to stay home!).

Of course I'm learning no one has it all together (whew!), and I've met AMAZING women as I've stepped out in faith and attended some fantastic women's conferences over the past few years!

Thankfully, last year I went to the Cornerstone Women's Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In fact, none of my friends could go that weekend so I went all by myself!

I loved it! The keynote speaker (Carol Kent) was fabulous, the workshops were engaging, the women were extremely warm and down to earth, and the experience was life-changing.

Not to mention I saw many women I knew as soon as I walked in, so I had friends for the weekend. Thank You, God! :)

Although the conference is called the "Women's Leadership Conference" - it is for ANY woman in any capacity of servant leadership....Bible study leader, children's teacher, church volunteer, church staff member, worship volunteer, etc... ANY woman would be impacted by this powerful conference! :)

Imagine my delight when I was invited to attend and teach 2 workshops at the same event this year. Woo Hoo!

(I'll be sharing "Expanding Your Ministry through Social Online Media" & "The Captivity of Activity - Pursuing Balance in a Leader's Life". Details here)

I'm humbled and honored to have this opportunity...and to serve alongside amazing, gifted women/friends like Jennie Dimkoff
, Lisa Troyer, Donna Fagerstrom, Heather Hammond , and more!

As well as this years key note speaker, Elisa Morgan

Here are the conference details....

Cornerstone University Presents the 7th Annual Women's Leadership Conference

February 17-18, 2012

Location: Grand Rapids Theological Seminary

Cost: $65/person; $35 for students (ID required)

Registration is filling up quickly so reserve your spot today! Register online at

Registration inquiries can be addressed to Emily Rolls.

I recently received a note that I could bring a friend for $35 (the student price - a $30 savings). I quickly e-mailed the committe back to see if I could extend this invitation to YOU, my dear *She Sparkles* friends. The committe graciously said yes.

If you live in the West Michigan area (or would like to drive/fly in) and would like to attend, I'd love to extend this discounted ticket price to one *She Sparkles* reader, and have you join me for the Women's Leadership Conference.

To Win my Cornerstone WLC's Discounted Ticket Giveaway: Leave a comment letting me know you'd like to win (and would be able to make the conference that weekend):

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 leave me a comment to let me know your extra entries.

RULES: Starts today, Thursday, January 12th and ends Monday, January 16th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog during the week of January 17th.

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, fearless, power-filled, day!!

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

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this review (I just love the Cornerstone Women's Leadership Conference) and, as always, all opinions expressed in this post are fully my own.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Fruit Diet

Hi Friends!

In honor of the New Year and so much talk about resolutions/weight loss/diets , I've decided to share part of my journey of living free from the scale. Enjoy this repost on my dreaded "weight topic".

As you know, my weight has been an area of struggle for most of my life.

You name it, I've tried it to lose weight over the course of my life ~ Cabbage Soup diet, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, eating disorders, and yes, even cocaine

This past year, I decided ENOUGH. I would pursue FREEDOM with my whole heart. I would not allow myself to talk so unkindly to myself anymore ~ in fact, my life would be a "Fat Talk Free Zone"

And I've been enjoying this new freedom...until all of the issues with my breathing.

Between the extra steroids, being unable to exercise without an inhaler, and two bouts of bronchitis, my trips to the gym have been minimal.

Needless to say, the scale has gone up, and I'm not happy about it. At all.

How can you not go to the grocery store without all of the magazines screaming at you...saying "Look like me." "You, too, should be wearing a bikini" "Try this" "Buy this diet aid" get the drift. commitment to myself is to continue to live Fat Talk Free. I will not buy into the "not good enough" mentality. I WILL pursue freedom, health, wholeness, self care, wellness, and TRUTH.

I will speak kindly to myself, with words of grace and hope.

I will not become self focused, crazy in the head, and allow my worth to be defined by a number on a scale or the size of my jeans.

I will not!

However, I do recognize I need a plan. I will be "careful" with my choices and select foods that are healthy and good. I am choosing to go without Diet Coke so that I will drink more water. I will increase my exercise (esp. now that I can breathe!!!). And, lastly...


In fact, I'm calling this my "Fruit Diet Healthy Living Plan"....God's fruit, based out of Galatians 5:22-23.

Rather than focusing on food, being hyper-sensitive about calories, and spending my days thinking about what I should/could eat ~ I will meditate on FRUIT, and ask God to help me be more...

*Gentle, and yes,
*Self Controlled.

When I'm tempted to run to food, I will STOP and ask God what is really going on (what do I really need?? Usually the answer is NOT chips and salsa!).

And then I'll ask Him how I can love someone else. Be kind to one of my kids. Share *joy* with a friend, family member or neighbor. And ask Him to fill me with more of His Spirit. I need an abundance of Jesus in my life! Anyone else??

This new "Fruit Diet Healthy Living Plan" has given me freedom, hope, and a Truth-filled head. Yippee! :)

Important Disclaimer: Please hear my heart...I'm not saying weight loss plans, going on a diet, etc.. is bad. For me personally, given my track record, I just recognize choosing a weight loss plan is NOT getting to the ROOT of my ISSUE.

If I'm ever going to live free (Galatians 5:1), it's time to eradicate the ROOT ISSUE, and allow God to plant NEW SEEDS ~ Seeds of Truth, that will grow HEALTHY FRUIT.

I need a healthy heart & mind, as well as life-giving, God-honoring habits.

And this is just personal for me ~ I am not judging whatever anyone else senses God is calling them to do.

Lastly, please know....whatever size you are, whatever body shape God has given you, whatever hair color you have, the size of your bank account, the job you have (or don't have), whether you are a wife, mom, student, grandma, or single woman, whether you have big muscles or small muscles....none of that stuff defines you.

None of it.

In fact....

....just the way that you are. Will you say that out loud, "I am beautiful."

It's true! You are Beautiful!!

How about for you?? How do you live separate from the culture's definition of beauty?? How do you pursue a "Fat Talk Free" life?? Share with us please! I would love to hear from you!!!

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

P.S For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head over and visit Kristen at We Are That Family. :)

P.P.S. I was having trouble embedding this video, but it's too good to pass up. If you need a reminder of what GOD SAYS ABOUT YOU - take a minute to check this video out here. It will bless you - guaranteed! :) (Thanks for sharing, April!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One Word

Hey Friends :)

By now you've probably heard about choosing one word for the year??

(If not, you can read a great Guideposts article or visit the Grit and Glory blog for more details).

Last year I prayerfully selected my one word - "Faith".

Truth be told, I wanted a word like "victorious" or "freedom" - but FAITH kept standing out to me. Little did I know that 2011 would stretch and grow my faith in such HUGE ways, and that I would spend half of the year studying what it means to have Red Hot Faith.

I was curious what my 2012 word might be. I spent Christmas vacation studying the scriptures and praying. Once again, I was leaning towards VICTORIOUS, HEALTHY, FREE - but I knew those weren't my 2012 words (maybe because in Christ I am victorious and healthy and free - I just need to walk in that victory each day. Another post....)

Anyway, I finally have my 2012...

FOCUS is my One Word for 2012.

I sense the biggest obstacle for me in 2012 is my easily distracted self. I need Focus. Big time.

Part of my problem is I just love everything.

I love being with people. I want to help out at school 24/7. I want to have coffee with every single person I know. I love Jesus and want to know Him more and make Him known around the world. I love planning parties and want to celebrate every day (yes, I'm even thinking about my Olympics party this summer - Lord help me). I love reading and could read all day long. I love the church and wish I had more time to serve. I enjoy praying and could easily spend a day in prayer. I love blogging and encouraging other blog friends. I love being a hockey mom and want to ride the team bus this weekend (but Jake won't let me. Boo!)

I love my family to pieces, and enjoy every precious minute I spend with them. I also love sending cards to people and staying in touch with my friends. I love memorizing scripture and get fired up about the A to Z Memory Verse Challenge. I love sharing Jesus with others and want to say yes to every single opportunity that comes my way. I love going to the gymI enjoy the benefits of caring for my body. :)

See my problem?? Lord help me!

For 2012 I want to live with laser beam focus.

The Lord has opened some amazing doors (and I am humbled beyond belief), and I want to FOCUS on the calling He has before me. I want to focus 100% into the projects that are before me during my "working hours" and be 100% focused on my family when they are home.

I want to say Yes to God's best for me this season and No to the rest so I can serve with excellence. I want to be like Jesus and set out resolutely for the calling God has for me.

I need focus. I need a miracle.

Hebrews 12:2 AMP is my verse for 2012.....

THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

OK friends, any tips on staying focused?? I would LOVE to hear your tips and ideas!!! Please?!

Have you chosen one word for 2012? Share with us!

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

P.S. A huge thanks to Melanie for my pretty graphic.

P.P.S. I'm linking up today with Jen and friends at Soli Deo Gloria. (She's also in the midst of planning a retreat in Austin, TX this October 2012. Woo Hoo!) Be sure to check out this amazing sisterhood of women! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Praying for Your Husband

Today I am thrilled to once again join my dear friend Julie from Come Have A Peace for Marriage Mondays! As I recuperate after a loooong weekend (3 out of 6 of us are on antibiotics -ugh!), I'm going to spend my normal "blogging time" resting and praying.

Enjoy a Marriage Monday repeat....!

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 celebrated 11 years together this August! (Can I get a "woo hoo"?!)

I wish I could tell you it's been 11 years of pure bliss ~ but I'd be lying. Big time.

I now look at marriage 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 really fun" season!

And do you know what's the number one thing I've learned to strengthen our marriage over the past decade of being together? The power of prayer!

Years ago, I read Stormie Omartian's book the The Power of a Praying Wife. 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 a few years ago (one that I wasn't sure we were going to make 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*!

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