Giveaway plus free printables for sharing joy

photo (7)Friends, this week we are fortunate to have an embellishment kit from the very talented Freckled Fawn to give away! This is a monthly subscription kit, and each kit contains a crazy-cool pouch filled with goodies to decorate letters, scrapbooks, journals and planners. Click here to enter.

I’m always looking for fun things to send in the mail to kids and others who might need a bit of encouragement, so I thought I’d use some of these Freckled Fawn embellishments to create pocket letters.

To make pocket letters: Take a plastic sheet that is designed to hold trading cards. Cut pretty paper to fit the pockets. Fill pockets with fun items (like stickers, washi tape, decorative paperclips and seashells) and tuck a little letter inside.

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photo (14)There are thousands of YouTube videos about making pocket letters. They can look pretty intimidating, especially if you don’t have a room full of craft supplies, so I’m sharing two faith-inspired designs I made. All you need to do is print, cut and start filling the pockets!

If you haven’t already, please slip your email address in the box on the lower left of this page. Then, click here for the beach-themed pocket letter: BEACHFAITHPocketLetter. Click here for the pocket letter with the doughnut and globe: FAITHPocketLetter.

My hope is that these pocket letters will bring joy and share God’s love. Enjoy!

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how writing letters can be a ministry, click here.

 

A prayer journal that helps you become an answer to prayer

IMG_2151I’m a list maker by nature. The problem is that those lists are on napkins, on scraps of paper, on Post-its… and, well, sometimes that meant I lost my notes on prayer requests.

So, clearly I needed one central place to track joys and concerns. But what I also needed was something that would prompt me to think of what I might do besides pray for people.

In what way could I offer friendship? In what way could I be an answer to prayer? 

I took a small Moleskin notebook and started making a standard form.

What was the prayer request?

Did it require a card? A meal? A gift? An old-fashioned telephone call?

I try to take care of written correspondence on Sunday afternoons — birthday cards, pictures to Mama, thank you notes — so I’m adding reviewing this new prayer journal to my routine.

My hope is that I’ll get better at reaching out to people and up to God.

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Day 33: What a sunset and nature teach us about hope

Remember how Pat Costigan has an entire exhibit of paintings dedicated to hope? Well, take a look at this one and then enjoy her artist’s statement:

024Sunset One 1080p x 300dpi

I spent much time exploring sources of hope and asking others what are the sources of hope for them.

Many of the respondents to the question “What gives you Hope” gave this answer:

  “Nature gives me hope.”

Day33Today’s journal page comes to us from Maureen Phillips. She says: My life and hope for the future is focused on my faith in Christ.   In recent years, it has become clearer to me that my hope only grows through the joys and disappointments that come my way.  I am certain that the love Jesus has for me is perfect, so when my life isn’t I rest in knowing that His plans for me are good. My husband and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage in April and we have have two beautiful children.  Our daughter is 18 and our son is 14.  Our favorite pastime is camping.  We love to get away with friends and family and just enjoy nature. To download, just click here.

Day 31: Welcoming the hope of spring

Day 31

Today — on this first day of spring — may you welcome a rebirth of hope.

And if winter seems to be lingering in your life or in your soul, I pray you’ll have strength, courage and the peace of knowing that seasons do change.

We have a few more journal pages to finish out our 40-day project.

This one, from Nancy Hoffmann, seems perfect for the changing of seasons. To download, click here.

Day 25: Hope and joy sometimes come from the mourning

Tanya photoYou know that very first journal page? The one where I told you about my friend Tanya Herrold and asked you to pray for her dad, who was waiting on a liver transplant? Well, read on my friends! Tanya has provided us with an update AND with a new journal page…

I have told this story at least 1000 times to anyone who would listen yet this is the first time I am putting it on “paper.” Papa contracted Hepatitis C but was never diagnosed until he donated blood for the first time. Within a couple of months of the diagnosis, he was in end stage liver failure. SCARY!!! Well, none of us were sure what that meant so when they asked him if he wanted to be put on the transplant list, he said “no.” He got really sick one time and decided he wanted to live and wanted an opportunity to receive a new liver so he asked to be placed on the list.

I am going to spare you the details of how the list works. It can be tedious and I realize not everyone is as interested as I am in the details. To give you perspective, this was all in 2008. At times we thought a call may never come. One very snowy day in 2012 he called and said “They’re transplanting me!” (I love the way he said it!) So we rushed around, called everyone and spent the day at the hospital about 15 hours after the initial call, we were told the liver was not good for transplant. This was tough on everyone. We ran the gamut of emotions that day. We were really shocked when about two months later there was another offer made to him. We tried to contain our excitement this time. That was until the anesthesiologists came in and said “We are 15 minutes away, we are just waiting on the last biopsy result.” We were full of hope! Thirty minutes later a Resident came in and explained the liver was not good for transplant. Our hopes were squashed! Papa said “There will never be a liver.” I encouraged him and prayed that there would be. We lived our lives waiting for phone calls – whether it was to say there was a liver or for my mom to call to say he was not well and she needed help getting him to the hospital – every time the phone rang our hearts stopped.

Well on February 15 at 5 p.m. we received another call, there was a liver. We kept our emotions intact. That is not an easy thing to do for 12 hours. The anesthesiologists came in and said “we are waiting on the final biopsy results, we should know in 15 minutes.” My heart sank. I willed the phone to ring, I paced, I cried a bit and then I gave it to God. I did the same thing three days earlier, I told God I could no longer handle the worry, stress or frustration and I asked Him to handle it. I sat in a chair in a hospital room full of family all feeling the same way – knowing this may be our last few minutes of hope – and I relaxed knowing God’s timing is perfect. The doctors came in and explained it was a go! More than 12 hours after receiving the initial call, he was going into the O.R. I was so full of joy it was coming out of my eyes. I was able to pray with everyone and I asked the doctors if they wanted to join us – they did!

Hope Journal Page.2I prayed for the family of the donor. See, organ donation is a personal choice and I respect your decision regardless. However, this family will always be heroes in my eyes. They made the decision to donate the organs of their 20 year old family member. They provided hope and joy for nearly 50 people all in the midst of their mourning. I cannot imagine what that took. You see, I am an organ donor, my family knows and they do not have to make that decision when I pass but I don’t know this persons story and I pray for their family regularly.

My daughter hugged one of the surgeons and told them “Please take care of my papa.” She was able to thank that same surgeon 13.5 hours later when he came to tell us the surgery was a success. She then told the surgeon “No one should ever have to wait this long.”

Papa is doing well since his transplant. The liver was working and making bile before he left the O.R. He has had some setbacks which is to be expected but overall he is making progress and we are thankful for each and every step forward. He is still in the hospital and we do not know when he will be ready to come home but they are making sure he is on the right path. We could not be more thankful to our heroes, for without them we would not have the hope of many more years with Papa.

I won’t bore you with statistics and how organ donations work but please know the need is real. If you are interested in learning more, looking at how many people await organs or if you want to sign up to be an organ donor – please consider visiting one of the websites below. I believe it is about education and conversation. I do not believe this decision should have to be made at the DMV, ICU or the Emergency Room.

  • Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network – donorrecovery.org
  • Donate Life NYS – donatelifeny.org
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – organdonor.gov

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 – The verse that got me through.

To download today’s free journal page, just click here.

P.S. Dear readers, Tanya’s dad came home from the hospital yesterday! So thankful!

Day 14: Hope in a snapshot and a free journal page

Because both of my little guys woke up two hours early (thank you barking Pomeranian) I’m only sharing a journal page — but it is a good one, with a good story! And I think I can tell you about it while holding a wiggly toddler.

Leanne Martin picToday’s journal page is from Leanne Martin. Her passion is coaching figure skaters. She was an engineer for many years, too many years, until she realized her calling… teaching. She also teaches as an adjunct professor for Syracuse University on the side. She is married with an active 11-year-old son. She also loves working at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta in Vermont every summer where she learns to love, cry, laugh and celebrate hope.

Here’s her artist’s statement about the journal page:

The picture of the baby deer (that I took in my yard just before mowing the lawn) represents new, beautiful, fragile life.

It’s love that ties us all together.

The picture in the lower right corner represents hope. This is a picture of my dragon boat team that raced in Ride the Dragon for Charity in Vermont this past August. We were raising money for our charity Camp Ta-Kum-Ta.  My husband and I volunteer every summer for a week (we have for the last 14 years) at a kid’s camp called Camp Ta-Kum-Ta in Vermont. This is a camp for kids that have or have had cancer. A few of our rowers in the Dragon boat race were former campers that are now camp counselors. Now that is hope!

To download the page, click here.

Here’s a glimpse:

Day 14 Leanne

 

Thank you, all of you, for joining us for the 40 Days of Hope project. Each day during Lent, we’ll share something about hope here — something that we pray inspires you or encourages you. We’re also planning to share free journal pages for you to download. We don’t quite have 40 yet, so if you’d like more information on submitting one, please click here.

Day 7: Finding hope in a Mason jar

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Have you seen the Pinterest projects where people take a jar and fill it with memories or blessings throughout the year?

IMG_1519Well, Barb Adams wants to do that on a larger scale — on a community scale — so she’s started a Facebook page that’s dedicated to collecting those notes of hope.

“The mission of the JAR PROJECT page is to encourage all of us to focus on the positive occurrences in our lives that we might otherwise let slip through our consciousness,” she writes. “The JAR PROJECT is dedicated to helping us bathe in the light rather than becoming bogged down in the darkness.”

Won’t you visit today and add your own note? Or perhaps pull a jar out of the recycling bin and start this tradition at home?

Elisa Pompili headshotToday’s journal page was designed by Elisa Pompili, who grew up in Spencerport, NY spending most of her time with her big Italian family and a few close friends. Elisa works as a school counselor and loves big and small adventures, chocolate, and traveling. She wrote and finished her debut novel, “Making Room,” long before she ever knew she would live in North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband Greg and their cat Sheldon. You can read more about her at her blog.

To download today’s journal page and write your own thoughts, please click here

 

Here’s a glimpse…

Simply Faithful - journal page - Elisa Pompili

Thank you, all of you, for joining us for the 40 Days of Hope project. Each day during Lent, we’ll share something about hope here — something that we pray inspires you or encourages you. We’re also planning to share free journal pages for you to download. We don’t quite have 40 yet, so if you’d like more information on submitting one, please click here.

Day 6: The day my son shares his story of hope

“You love to sketch,” I told him as he plopped down on the couch. “You should do a journal page for me.”

What would I put on it?

“Well, what does hope mean to you?”

It means you never give up, no matter how bad things get.

“That’s perfect. You should write that on there. It’ll give people a place to start journaling. But you should draw something, too — something that makes you think of hope.”

He comes back to the living room what seems like only 15 minutes later.

Here you go, Mom. This character’s name is Yoshina or sometimes he’s called Ageha. He fights to help people who can’t help themselves because someone saved him when he was little.

That’s when I fight to hold back tears. That’s when I ask if I can share a little bit of his story.

You can tell whatever you want, Mom. Maybe it could help somebody else.

And so I begin.

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Jessie’s 2-inch thick adoption file

For the first five years of Jessie’s life, he lived with his biological parents and his half-sister. He has great memories of playing at parks and baking cookies, and he has memories of hiding in the bathroom until the police came to separate his fighting parents. He remembers his mom liking something that was milky white but that he was never allowed to touch and a rainy night when she could barely keep the car on the road.

Then, there was the time they left him and his slightly older sister in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart for several hours while they went to get drugs – and the times that the kids spent the night at the crack house. Times when his parents were home but unavailable, not quite functioning. Times when lunch was a tub of margarine. Times when homework went unchecked.

adoption2

This is how his life started and that’s why at 14 he struggles to print legibly, why he always asks when dinner will be ready, why he looks a little lost, a little pained when I talk of trust, of lasting family ties.

Already he’s had more than one lifetime of loss. Already he knows too much of complicated relationships, of shaky love.

Already he speaks of hope as one who knows how badly it’s needed in this world – and already he understands its strength.

Don’t give up even when things are bad.

Jessie1Today’s journal page was designed by my oldest son, Jessie. He loves video games, drawing and reading — especially manga, which are Japanese comics. He plays a mean game of Monopoly and shares my love of office supplies. He’s handsome, has just the faintest touch of a mustache and jeans that always seem too short. He’s one of the most generous people I know, and I’d like him even if he wasn’t related to me. To download today’s journal page and write your own thoughts, please click here.

Here’s a glimpse…

Jessie

Day 4: What hope looks like to an artist

Back in the fall, Pat Costigan exhibited 28 oil, acrylic and pastel paintings that all focused on hope. Today, instead of words, may we be inspired by her brush…

Posted on the gallery wall:

The first step in the journey of hope is love

… and there’s this, this beautiful painting titled Be Not Afraid

Be Not Afraid 13x19x300dpi

 

Pat Costigan and her husband, Bob, have four daughters, Clare, Beth, Anne and Irene. Before children, she earned a BA in Art and an MA in Special Education, taught and always made art. Through the years she has been involved with local and international social justice issues. Pat recently completed a series of paintings on “Hope” and is working on a new series titled “Grace.” Pat co-authored, designed and created the artwork and illustrations for the newly published book, “Mothering: An Art Of The Heart” (www.motheringanartoftheheart.com). When she is not busy in her studio, she is often found walking their rescue dog, Bella, around the neighborhood in Fairport, NY.

101_2887Today’s journal page is from Linda Gordon, a generous friend who let me write about her ugly clay foot and still shared her wise thoughts on creating a peaceful dwelling. (She is the perfect example of why it is slightly dangerous to be friends with a writer.) This scripture has been especially meaningful to her as she thinks about hope.

 

To download today’s journal page and add your own thoughts, click here.

Here’s a glimpse:

LindaGordon