Friday, November 9, 2018

Hooray for Holidays: Veterans Day for Children

I'm excited to welcome my dear friend, author Peggy Cunningham, to my blog today. She's had five books published this year, and I loved them so much, I had to share them. One of the books, Hooray for Holidays Book 4, has a story about Veterans Day, which happens to be this Sunday, November 11.

Peggy Cunningham and her husband Chuck have served as missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. They work with the Quechua people and have a children's ministry. She is the author of the Really Rare Rabbits series of picture books for children (you'll find all three on her Amazon author page), and two devotionals for adults, Shape Your Soul and Dancing Like Bees.

Peggy, I love the idea that you're teaching kids about holidays in your new series, Hooray for Holidays. How did the story idea come about?

I’d written number of animal stories for a book I was working on when I found an adorable flag sweater for our Shih Tzu, Kelsey. After taking countless photos of her in that sweater, I thought about writing a Fourth of July story for my blog featuring Kelsey. 

Then an idea sparked my brain. Why not incorporate a holiday into each animal story I’d written? So I not only wrote animal stories with a Bible principle, but I also incorporated a holiday theme with a bit of its history to each story. And, I guess you could say Kelsey’s sweater inspired my idea.

I notice you have a mixture of holidays - not just the holidays we celebrate in the U.S. - but you also include some of the holidays you celebrate in Bolivia, too. Tell our readers a bit about those holidays.

In Hooray for Holidays Book 3, I included Bolivia’s Independence Day, which is August 6th. I thought a Bolivian holiday would expand the minds of children beyond their borders and encourage them to learn more of other countries and their cultures. 

The story explains a bit of Bolivian history, what a school holiday program is like in Bolivia, and a fun look at the Bolivian National bird, the condor. 

In my Really Rare Rabbits series Book 3, I write of another Bolivian holiday, Urkupiña. It’s about a legend of a small girl who meets a mysterious lady on a mountain who gives her five stones. Upon returning home, she pulls them out of her pocket to find they are no longer little rocks but gems instead. At that point of the story, my rare rabbits, who are visiting this legendary mountain on this holiday, tell the story of another Rock, Jesus, to their grandfather who meets them on this mountain.

I love the adventures of those really rare rabbits. Such imaginative, fun, and memorable stories. Out of the four Hooray for Holidays books, do you have a favorite story? If so, why is it your favorite?

Yes, I do for sure. It would have to be the first story in Hooray for Holidays Book 4: Veterans Day Special Needs Cat, Thanksgiving Blue Mouse, and Christmas Andes Llama that just released. 

Not only do I love celebrating Veterans Day because I’m married to a veteran, but I also have a special needs cat that I love. His name is Quasimodo and yes, his name personifies him. We adopted him from our vet when he was a baby. He’d fallen off a roof and couldn’t walk but our vet wouldn’t give up on him. The vet worked with Quasi for a few months, and he eventually could walk but still with difficulty and dragging his leg. 

After bringing him home with us, I saw how determined he was to do everything our deaf cat, Gypsy could do (she’s our other special needs cat). Then I knew I had to write his story. 

I hope kids will learn from Quasimodo to never give up and always be determined to reach their goals like Quasimodo. His story honors veterans who sometimes face difficulties because of their time in the military.

I love that you've honored veterans in such a special way to help younger generations understand and appreciate the sacrifice that all veterans and their families make.

Any upcoming releases you want to tell us about?

After five new releases last year, I’m taking a break and just working on one book this year––at least so far. Smile! It’s a book about my white curtains. They have traveled with me from Pennsylvania to Bolivia and have many stories to tell. 

My friends joke that if the Rapture happens I’ll fly away with my white curtains under my arm. But I may have to leave some behind because they are frayed from so many ups and downs on the many windows they have adorned.

I look forward to reading about those white curtains! Thank you for joining us today, Peggy. May the Lord continue to use you and Chuck and your ministry.  

 



 


Connect with Peggy Cunningham on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Read her latest updates on her blog at www.PeggyCunningham.com
Be sure to read her latest posts about Veterans Day:



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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Guest Blogger Anna Beck on a Mission

Today, I want to introduce you to Anna Beck, a young lady I met through an introduction by her mom. Anna is on mission, so I asked her to share her story with our readers here.

Anna, welcome! Tell us what you're doing and how we can help.

Hey guys! My name is Anna Beck, and I am a campus missionary for H2O Church on Western Michigan University's campus. I grew up in a Christian home where my parents have been in many different ministry roles from volunteering to being missionaries in Belize to my dad currently pastoring a church.

Because of this, when I entered my freshman year of college at the University of Michigan, I knew that I wanted to find a church on campus to get involved in. The church that I found was just off-campus, and because it was focused on the campus, the majority of attendees were college students. 

My first Sunday felt so surreal and exactly what I wanted as I was surrounded by hundreds of students who wanted to be at church, wanted to be in community with one another. I quickly got plugged into a small group that met in my dorm, and I found women who were passionate about their faith and about doing life together. 

Throughout my freshman year, because of campus missionaries and upperclassmen who devoted their time to doing ministry in the dorms, I understood God's grace on a deeper level than I had before.

I had grand plans to get a degree in microbiology, but my career desires quickly changed when I realized I did not enjoy science like I originally thought, and I had this deeper sense that the Lord was calling me into full-time ministry with college students. 

I changed my major to psychology and started pouring my time into the Bible and into discipleship personally and with incoming freshman students. The church I was attending decided to send another church plant out. As leaders were determining where the Lord was calling them, I felt like God put Western Michigan University on my heart. Much to my delight, church leaders decided Western was the next location! 

Over the next year, the church prepared to send a team to Western, and I worked on graduating/applying to Reliant (more about them later) to become a missionary!

In the summer of 2018, we, the church plant team, all moved from Ann Arbor to Kalamazoo. Our team is about 30 people, including all the children. Eight of us work for the church (two are pastors), and some are married or married with families. In addition, two families and a couple of other people moved with us and found new jobs, so they could help support H2O! 


We had our first services in September, and we have been blown away by the ways we have seen God work in these short few months. One of our hopes for H2O - WMU is to see students become fully devoted followers of Christ whether they have heard about Jesus their entire life or they are just hearing about Him. Some of the ways we hope to see this goal be realized is through having Sunday services, by having small Bible studies throughout the week, being intentional in building relationships/discipleship, and by going to the campus and reaching out/befriending students we have never met before.

In order to do this, all our staff including me are support-based missionaries. I am currently raising my support, so I can be doing this work on-campus full-time. Reliant Mission is our sending agency, and they are a registered 501c3 non-profit who not only employs us, but also, they handle all the legal logistics such as taxes and insurance. 

I would love to ask you all to be in prayer that I raise my support and for the church plant. Also, if you would like to help support me, I would greatly appreciate it! 

For more information about our church, visit h2okzoo.com

For more information about Reliant, visit reliant.org.

If you want to give online to my account, visit reliant.org/anna.beck

If you have any thoughts/questions/just want to say hi - feel free to email me at anna.beck@h2okzoo.com. Thank you so very much!!



Thanks for sharing your mission, Anna. May God bless your efforts as you serve Him.



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Monday, November 5, 2018

Week One November Pattern Stories

I continue to have great fun with patterns and then sharing them here with you. In last week's post, I promised some Christmas patterns so we'll start with some of those this week.

My favorite color combination is green and pink - a wide variety of shades to create so many different looks. My blog banner at the top of this page is one of my favorite combinations, so I started toying with patterns and came up with two that I love and put them on pillows, table runners, wrapping paper, and even neck ties!


One of Tim's favorite Christmas decorations over the years (okay, it's actually his very favorite of all time!) was a blow-up Santa on a motorcycle with a snowman in the sidecar.

Unfortunately, leaves got under the blower motor one year and burned it up. All we have left is this photo:



This year, I brought it back to life through art. Because the photo is old and small, I couldn't use it as is, so I gave it a fun paint effect. Then I turned that image into several patterns to use on wrapping paper and gift bags.




I liked the Santa patterns and colors so much, I'll be adding them to more products this week. 

A few months ago, I took a picture of some roses that had passed their prime but their colors were magnificent and I wanted to capture that. 


From that photo, I created this pattern and used it in designs for t-shirts, socks, and even a box of chocolates for an anniversary!



This pattern making can be addictive, but I'm trying to put them to good use. I'll be adding new products each week, so bookmark my TMPixArt store and drop by often!

While you're Christmas shopping, please explore my collections! You may find just the perfect gift for someone.

A Few of My Collections:



  



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Sunday, October 28, 2018

More Pattern Design Stories

I've created some new patterns this week and thought I'd share some more behind the scenes details about them.

Before I do, in my last pattern design post, I shared about the black and white snowflakes. I've added some color to that design for a festive winter touch!

   


I also made them both in a darker blue, too (wrapping paper, gift bag). I've toyed with the idea of making them in pink snowflakes but PINK SNOWFLAKES? Think that's too much?

I realized this week that I have to keep writing these blog posts so I don't forget the origin of the patterns. A few days go by and I tend to forget which pattern came from where, especially after I've put it on different kinds of merchandise.

Several days ago, I cut a bell pepper for dinner, and inside, was another baby pepper! I'd never heard of pregnant peppers before, and quickly snapped this photo:


And then created this pattern from it:


I like putting my food art on kitchen merchandise, so this one went on a glass cutting board. It's so pretty!





Some of my other pattern work this week:





I'm really having fun with the pattern work. Next week, I hope to share some fall patterns.


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Monday, October 22, 2018

Journal: 42 Day Loss

When I started my Juice Plus journey, I decided to hold off on posting anything until I stuck with it a little while to see if I liked it and if it actually made a difference. And in this post, I do one thing that will make my precious grandmother roll over in her grave - I reveal my weight. Blech. But I'm on a journey and you're holding me accountable! (How's that for pressure?)

On August 28, I posted that I was starting my Juice Plus journey. I signed up that day to become a distributor, with the hopes of eventually building my own team of distributors. (Want to join my team? Send me a note!) My primary concern about building my own team was the sales pressure to do so - and I've seen NONE of that with Juice Plus. Everything is in place to grow teams if we so desire, but there's absolutely no pressure to do so. 

I placed my first order a few days later. Before the capsules arrived, I received my welcome packet which included order forms, a few brochures, product information, and a colorful box to hold a week's supply of capsules.



Then my order arrived and I began taking the four blends (Veggies, Fruits, Berries, Omegas) on Sept 9th.



On that day, I set up a spreadsheet where I'm keeping all my measurements and I'm keeping a journal to document any progress or bumps in the road.

At first, I decided I'd start sharing my journey when I hit a particular weight loss goal, even though weight loss wasn't my primary goal. But along the way, something surprised me, so I decided to post my progress after only six weeks.

In the past six weeks, I've lost 6.8 lbs.

The first two weeks, I yo-yo'd, but after that, the weight just came off a little bit at a time. It's not the weight that impressed me as much as it was the inches lost.

In the past six weeks, I've lost a total of 17.75 INCHES.

Here are my journal entries since Sept 9.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Today, I officially begin my journey with Juice Plus+ — my journey toward better health.
I’m not going to publish this journal for a time – for my own self-esteem, honestly. I’ve tried and failed with other programs, systems, diets, ideas in the past, and I just don’t want to put this out there until I’m sure I’m on the right track this time.

Today, overall:

I feel lousy. I had a sleepless night of pain in my hands and arms. My neck is stiff this morning. I’ve seen the chiropractor twice in the past week, to deal with hip and neck pain. The hip pain and issues there seem to be gone, but my neck remains stiff.

Today is Sunday, and I take Sundays off work, so I’ll do stretches, drink water, spend some time in the Bible, and read.

I’m currently taking:

One A Day Prenatal 1: I have around 30 left in the bottle, so I will continue taking those as I start the Juice Plus and then decide in 30 days whether I need to or should continue those or some other kind. The Prenatal 1 has helped me immensely after 7 years of chronic anemia.

Vitamin D: My last blood work revealed a huge Vitamin D deficiency, so I now take supplements. We’ll see what my next blood work shows and decide whether I need to continue.

Biotin: My hair thinned a bit with the anemia, and my nails were awful, so I began taking Biotin and it seems to help.

Beta Carotene: Vision problems have been plaguing me for a while, so I’m trying beta carotene to see if it helps. (I used Lutein for one bottle, and it seemed to help too, but I haven’t restocked yet.)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Well, I was surprised a great deal when I stepped on the scale today. I’d had a rather stressful week, and had done NOTHING different all week long, other than take my daily dose of Juice Plus.

The scale showed 223.6 – a loss of 5.6 lbs since last Sunday.

I haven’t been to the grocery store in about 10 days, due to budget, so we’ve been eating whatever we have, which has included hamburgers, soups, stews, chicken, and a pork roast. Not exactly what I’d call a full diet of health, but the soups and stews are all homemade with meats and veggies, no fillers or preservatives, so it’s not as bad as it could be, but also not as good as it could be.

But 5.6 lbs. I’m impressed.

I’m only going to do bodily measurements once a month – mostly to keep me from staying fixated on that.

But there are some other notable changes this week.

Sleep has been elusive for me for many years. I’ll have periods where I sleep fine, but for the most part, I’m a restless sleeper.

This week, I got really sleepy. I tried fighting it at first, but I found that I seemed to be trying to come down with a cold, so I gave into the sleepiness and decided to let my body rest. Thursday, I took a nap, then slept solid during the night. Friday, the same thing. Saturday, I gave myself the day off, and decided to just hang out on the porch, reading, and watching the seasons change. I fell asleep in Tim’s hammock and slept the morning away. I got up around noon, went back to sleep at 2 and slept until 6. Then I slept solid last night, from midnight until 7 a.m. when I got a phone call. I moved out to the hammock and slept solid until 11 a.m. As I write this, it’s 4 p.m., I’m sleepy, but feel better overall than I’ve felt in a long time. My body seems to be healing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

I’d planned to just write weekly updates, but I want to go on record today, 10 days into my Juice Plus+ journey, because of some notable changes.

My body is changing. I can’t really say how or why at this point, but I noticed my skin looks and feels different. I’m not as puffy as I’ve always been all my life, but it’s not just that – it’s the way my arm feels when I rub it. The skins is more elastic, and the tissues underneath the skin seem to be more firm.

Yesterday, I confessed to Tim that I was scared to get on the scale this coming week, because I am so excited about the weight I lost last week that I don’t want to ruin that with a gain this week. But the way I’m feeling right now, I think I’m even going to measure again at the 2 week point instead of waiting a full month. I’m curious, now.
I’m also feeling better overall. All those little aches and pains seem less each day. I’ve had a crick in my neck for several days, so I’m not counting that – I think that was from sleeping wrong. But all the other aches and pains – just the fatigue I’ve felt all over my body for years – seems less right now.

September 23, 2018

I dreaded getting back on the scale this morning. I knew I had gained all the weight back. But I had only gained back 2 lbs. 

Weight: 226.0

Due to our lack of money this week, I added bread back into our diet, and popcorn. I also didn’t drink as much water during the week as I had the previous week. But I bought groceries yesterday with a load of veggies, so maybe I can get back on track.

Stress is playing a huge factor right now – financial stress. Although I always have financial stress, this week is especially awful because in seven days, I have twice as much outgo as I do income. I know stress has always played a role in my weight, but I’m not one who stress eats, so I’m thinking it’s more due to the chemical changes inside me when I’m stressed. 

No, I’m not a doc and don’t play one on TV. Just in my head.

September 27, 2018

I hadn’t planned to weigh mid-week, but I got my haircut yesterday and Tim bet I’d lost 2 lbs. So I weighed, and sure enough, exactly 2 lbs. 

Weight: 224.0

Then he brings me bacon for breakfast.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Weight stayed the exact same over 3 days – not sure that’s ever happened before. 😊

Weight 224.0

The tape measure surprised me this time. I’m tracking it in a spreadsheet now, but I lost inches in my hips, biceps, thighs, and chest – for a total loss of 10.25 inches since Sept 9. 

That’s impressive to me.

Other things I’m noticing:

My cheekbones are becoming defined again. I look in the mirror and that’s the first thing I see now. The area below my ears – sort of around my jawbone, but not as low as my neck (is that the jowls, perhaps?) – has thinned out a bit, too. Maybe my double chin is receding.

My skin continues to firm up. I’m truly wondering if Juice Plus is dissolving fat. Is that even possible?

October 21, 2018

This has been a crazy month so I haven’t updated my journal like I’d hoped. But I’m proud to report today that even though I’ve been a slacker, Juice Plus has not been.

On Sept 30, I’d lost 10.25 inches since I first measured on Sept 9. Today, Oct 21, I measured again, and I’ve lost another 7.5 inches. 

My weight has sort of “stabilized” at 221.8 – I’ve been at that weight a couple of weeks, but the inches are still coming off. 

Due to stress and budget and time, I haven’t been eating like I was, so I count the loss and the stability both as huge wins. 

I'm no longer taking any supplements other than the Juice Plus capsules. I stopped all of those about three weeks ago.

My hips – the widest part of me – have lost the most. I’ve lost 2.5 inches in my hips since I started. My thighs, where I tend to hold weight, are seeing loss too. My left thigh has lost a total of 3.25 inches (measured in two different spots, upper and middle), my right thigh has lost 2.25 inches (upper and middle). Each knee has lost an inch. My biceps have lost 2.5 inches together. And this week, even my neck lost half an inch.

It’s fascinating to watch the fat continue to dissolve. 

I am now much more conscious about what and how I eat and drink. I work to get enough water in me (and don't always succeed), and KNOWING that I'm getting all my fruits and veggies through Juice Plus makes me think about everything else I'm putting in my body. Why invest in the Juice Plus if I'm just going to eat garbage? 



My habits are changing, my choices are changing, my mindset is changing. Not because it's being forced, but because I see and feel the difference Juice Plus is making in my body and I want that to continue. 

I'm excited to see where this leads.

AND - on the franchise side of things, I've already gotten my first check. 

Juice Plus just had their annual conference in Tampa. Over 8000 people attended. Next year, they'll be in Sacramento, CA. I don't know that I'll ever attend any of those events - I'm just taking this journey a day at a time. But the possibility is there. 

My next goal is to purchase a couple of the Tower Gardens. I've wanted to grow my own food for a long time, and this seems like a great way to do it! It may be awhile, but that's my goal.



Care to join me on the journey?