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I bought a new duffle bag to pack for this summer's trip. Stacked on my spare bed are the piles of clothes and bags of toiletries I plan to take for seven days at the campground in Michigan.

Among the items I consider necessary for seven days away from home:

*Two swimsuits

*Two beach towels

*Two pairs of flip-flops, one for the beach and one for the shower

*Two pairs of sunglasses, or maybe I need to take all three

*Sunscreen

*Tennies because I hope to tackle the high-ropes obstacle course this year

*A good book to read on the almost-14-hour bus ride. This year I am taking Room by Emma Donoghue.

*GinGins ginger candy because I tend to get car sick when I read on the bus

*Pepto Bismol in case the GinGins aren't enough

*Snack bars and string cheese, because if I don't get car sick on the way, I will definitely get hungry.

I will be making this year's journey to camp with 11 teen moms from our YoungLives group, their children, and five other mentors. We will spend seven days together swimming, ziplining, dancing, singing, and praying.

I will be packing other necessities to help make camp a fantastic week.

*A sense of adventure to try new things like the ropes course and paddle boarding

*A sense of humor to laugh at myself when I fall off the paddle board. Hopefully I won't fall from the ropes course.

*An open mind to get to know new people, accept new assignments, and develop a new attitude

*An open heart filled with forgiveness, abundant patience, and positive energy

*The belief we are making this journey together to share an awesome experience and build caring relationships

*The knowledge this week will be wonderful, no matter what happens!

I'm also leaving space in my new duffle bag to bring back fun memories, renewed confidence, stronger friendships, deeper faith, and hopefully all three pairs of sunglasses.

Where are your adventures taking you this summer? What will you pack to prepare for your travels?

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13397058_871715679623257_2007666293_oThis week I asked my friend Heather to share the story of how she chose her daughter's name, Alice. These are Heather's words.

 

When Alice grows up, I'm going to tell her the story about why I picked her name. I hope she likes it.

In fifth grade I had to do a report about Teddy Roosevelt, but when I Googled him, I was more interested in his daughter Alice. While her father was in office, Alice worked to help people with tuberculosis, even though her family told her it was dangerous. Alice was rebellious and did things like climb on the White House roof. She was fearless and had a pet snake. But though she was a rebel, she was kind too, and she cared about other people.

I chose to name my daughter Alice because I want her to be strong, independent, and outgoing like Alice Roosevelt. I want her to be self-confident and fearless, but also caring and kind.

I hope my daughter Alice will stand up for what she believes in. I want her to know that every human life has worth, and I hope she will help others because it's the right thing to do.

My daughter inspires me because I have social anxiety, and when something bad happens, it shuts me down. The other day Alice fell off the kitchen step onto the carpet. She cried for a minute, but then she went back to what she was doing. She didn't let it ruin her whole day.

13389266_871715692956589_1637685165_oAnd she's happy to meet new people. Since she turned a year old, she's not afraid of meeting new people anymore.

I want to tell my daughter that it doesn't matter where your family's from, you can still do your own thing.

My prayer for Alice Marie is that she will be fearless, confident, happy to be herself, and appreciative of all that makes her unique.

"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver or gold" (Proverbs 22:1).

How did you choose the names of your children? Do you  have an interesting story about what makes them special?

 

 

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DeDe works patiently. She has carefully cut out the fabric, rearranged the pieces, and pinned them together in new and unexpected ways. The hum of the sewing machine in rhythmic and soothing. DeDe works slowly to create the quilt that will cover her bed and wrap her in warmth.

Every quilt represents the embrace of a relationship. In a quilt, as in life, we collect scattered pieces and random moments. We stitch together the frayed edges and join with other battered hearts. At last we hold a completed covering of colorful shapes and textures. One day we look back on our lives, and we can see the whole pattern of the time we shared with others.

To construct a quilt, we need a few tools:

IMG_0063Fabric gives warmth, comfort, and color.

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Batting adds softness and depth.

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Tee shirts hold special memories of shared experiences.

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A ruler measures the edges and keeps the seams straight.

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Scissors cut away what doesn't fit.

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A pincushion protects our fingertips from sharp points.

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Thread holds all the parts together.

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And a seam ripper helps us correct our mistakes.

We could invest in expensive fabrics and tools, but we don't have to. We can use what we have available and appreciate that we will always receive what we need.

DeDe works patiently, because a quilt can't be finished in a day. A life can't be built in a year. We work together slowly to join all the pieces and enjoy the intricate tapestries we create.

I'm enjoying the time we spend making this quilt! Keep watching this website to see what happened when these pieces started falling into place.

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What is falling into place for you today? What tools are you using to bring the pieces of your life together?

 

 

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easter-328210_960_720[1]My daughter loves Peeps, those pink and yellow marshmallow chicks that appear in stores every year around Easter.

Each year I buy her a package from the rainbow-colored rows that line the store shelves. This year I caught the gaze of a Peep's innocent and trusting eyes, and I considered I have something to learn from the unassuming simplicity of Peeps.

Be Sweet.

A Peep's only purpose is to make people happy.

When we are kind, gentle, and considerate we share our natural sweetness.

We were made to bring joy to others.

Be Soft.

A Peep has no hard, crunchy coating to protect its squishy center.

When we are tender, caring, and compassionate we communicate our natural softness.

We were made to let our hearts melt.

Be Colorful.

Each Peep proudly displays its yellow, pink, blue, or purple plumage.

When we are vibrant, bold, and confident we bring light and life to a world in need.

We were made to make the world a brighter place.

Peeps never wonder if they are good enough. They never worry if they are doing what they were made to do.

Peeps realize they are special treats that are available for only a limited time. They know that by being sweet, soft, and colorful, they are doing exactly what they were created to do. Peeps know they are loved and appreciated for all the qualities that make them Peeps.

This Easter I encourage you to embrace your Peep qualities. Know you were made to be appreciated and loved.

How do you express your sweetness to the world? How do you display the colors that make the world a brighter place?

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Sometimes moms need reminders to slow down, relax, and enjoy the time we have with our youngsters. Years pass quickly, and now is the time to make memories and build relationships with the most important people in our lives.

Play on the floor.

Children will remember the time we spend engaged with them at their eye level. When we sit down and make them the focus of our attention for a little while, they know they are important in our eyes.

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Special memories are made of simple times. A sandwich served on a paper plate under a shady tree can be enough to create a lasting and treasured memory of time spent together.

Read together every night.

Whether we read the same book repeatedly, or explore a variety of titles borrowed free from the library, what matters to children are the feelings of being held and loved.

Walk and talk.

Every day is an opportunity to notice our environment and discuss what we see. Children learn by exploring the world around them; and adults have fun seeing flowers, birds, trees, and bugs from a child's perspective.

Let kids help.

The smallest children can help bake cookies or fold laundry. Letting children help with making beds or putting away toys builds their sense of initiative and capability.

Say "please," "thank you," and "I love you" often.

Children need to hear positive language too. When we use words that nurture and encourage, we teach children to behave and communicate positively.

Listen to what they say.

Adults are often surprised by the level of insight and understanding children can express. When we pay careful attention, we can be amazed at what our children share.

Pray together. 

A few words of prayer every day have a powerful impact on our well-being. It is important to express our thanks for all we have and share our concerns for whatever we need.

Be grateful.

We have so many reasons to be thankful! We are blessed with love, strength, and laughter. We need to remember to appreciate all we have and to express our gratefulness.

Remember moms are important.

Every child's favorite people are his or her parents. We are important influences on the lives of our children. Children will value the relationships we nurture with them.

How do you enjoy spending time with your children? What do your want your kids to remember about your special times together?

Remember you are blessed!

 

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