Friday, November 30, 2007


My digitally gifted SIL Stephanie has tagged me with her first meme. If you've never been over to her blogs, you should check them out:

So here goes with my random facts:

  1. I listen on a daily basis to both National Public Radio AND Rush there's a paradox for you!
  2. My favorite recording artist is Steven Curtis Chapman and I've told my kids that at least one of them MUST marry one of his kids. Can you imagine the music at THAT ceremony?
  3. I still keep in contact with my first grade teacher Miss Ine Phillips and one of my best buddies from elementary school, Darlene. Friends are one of my favorite blessings!
  4. I was chosen as "Most Disrespectful Pledge" while pledging the Troubadour Social Club at Mississippi University for Women. Can you imagine that?!?
  5. My dream career when I was in high school was to be a fashion journalist in NYC and work for SEVENTEEN magazine. Now I won't even let my daughters READ that magazine!
  6. I played MOTHER GOOSE in my kindegarten's school play and had powder in my hair to make it look gray.
  7. One of my all-time favorite songs is LOVE IS LIKE OXYGEN by Sweet.

Now its my turn to tag 7 people. If I tag you, please don't hate me. ;) If I DON'T tag you, please don't hate me. ;)

I tag:

  1. Candace
  2. Drewe Llyn
  3. Deidra
  4. Heather
  5. Rhonda
  6. Shauna
  7. Jess

Now here are the rules for this meme:

1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

2) Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Now - Readers - your challenge, go to one of the above blogs and leave a comment where you never have before!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


My dear friend Kelly has such a way with words. She often has me cracking up with her wacky stories. She can take something as everyday as mannequins at the mall and make them into an adventure into hilarity. She also has a huge heart and can use her words to not only amuse, but to teach, encourage, and in some cases, remind me of very important things. Recently, she started a blog and a recent entry fits into that latter category:

"The year was 1992. We had three small children and were living in a 800 sq. ft. 2 bedroom cottage in southern California. We were part of a small group through our church and we were hosting a Christmas Eve get together in our home after which we all planned to go to the midnight Christmas Eve service together. That morning I took my 5 month old son to the doctor. He had developed pneumonia but not a severe case where he needed to be hospitalized. We were told to keep him home. We had planned to drive down to my grandparent’s in San Diego on Christmas day. Pay day was the day after Christmas that year and I spent the remainder of our money on food for our little party since I hadn’t planned on us being home on Christmas day. However, I wasn’t worried because I thought there would be leftovers. Not a crumb was left!

We will never forget our Christmas dinner. I had helped with a breakfast at church not long before and we made these egg casseroles. I didn’t have the recipe but thought that I would be able to recreate the dish. It didn’t exactly turn out. Number one, I didn’t have all of the ingredients. Number two, the bread I used was a very healthy and dense whole wheat variety. Number three, I burned it. We literally had nothing else to eat.

We will also never forget something else from that day. The day before had been very cold but Christmas day was beautiful and sunny with temps in the 70's. Our son had really turned the corner and was doing much better. We decided to walk with the kids to a nearby park. Our girls were 2 and 3 and we had bought them a wagon and a tricycle that my husband had stayed up all night assembling. We had a wonderful time as our girls joyous squeals rang through the air. They had no expectations of what Christmas day was supposed to be like or what kind of things you were supposed to eat or where you were supposed to go. They were happy with the day exactly as it was.

Near the park was a little overpass and under the overpass were several homeless people. There was a lady in a green skirt and they had a tiny Christmas tree next to their cardboard box shelter. I did not notice them until we had been at the park for awhile. I was taken back by the sight. They seemed happy and were laughing. And I felt shame. I felt shame for the attitude I had had and for not being grateful for all the good things in my life.

There is much about Christmas and the whole Christmas season that I love. I love the decorations and the lights. I love re-connecting with family and friends. I love the music and the church services and taking the time to focus on the birth of our savior. I love all the holiday food. However, I hate the commercialism and the stress that this time of year places on families that have a hard enough time just making it the rest of the year. I hate the burden I see in some people's faces as I go about my business around town. I hate that this time of year produces the highest suicide rates.

I don't know what to do about it.

I saw a woman crying in her car yesterday. It's odd when you are just driving around town, minding your own business, and you see someone laid bare like that at a stop light. I don't know why she was crying. She could have just lost someone. She could have just been told she has cancer. She could have a sick child. I don't know. It occurred to me that she could be stressed by Christmas. Whatever the reason, I was profoundly moved."

I pray that I'll remember Kelly's words this season and not get so wrapped up in the busyness that I forget the most important things...such as loving those around me who need someone to care about them thru words, actions, prayers, gifts...showing them the love of Jesus thru tangible ways that show they are not forgotten.

Thank you, Kelly.

Kelly's blog:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I just wanted to give a quick update on what's going on with our upcoming African trip. Things are really going great as we keep preparing for our Swaziland God-adventure. We're selling scads of jewelry. B's passport made it here in about 2 weeks from the time we applied. Grandpere and Nana Rose paid for A' passport which we applied for last week and we're awaiting its arrival. We've mailed in all our paperwork and the first 2 deposits needed by Children's HopeChest. Our luggage is purchased. Skirts are bought (still need 1 or 2 more for A). Comfy shoes are in the closets. Just a few things left to do (like get some shots...YAY!...not) but basically its just a matter now of waiting and praying and waiting some more til those last few days when we go crazy with all the packing and doing a million last minute things that we didn't think about doing til the last minute! ;)

Thanks again to all of you who have shown us love and support...whether its thru prayers, financial gifts, making jewelry, donating beads, buying jewelry, encouraging emails, or just patiently listening to me as I go on and on and on about Swaziland. All those things are truly appreciated. I am amazingly blessed.

Monday, November 26, 2007


G42 children's village Nsoko Swaziland from Gary Black on Vimeo.

Gary and Lisa Black have a dream for the orphans of Nsoko, Swaziland. Would you like to be a part of making it a reality?

Donations that will change the future of these children can be made with just a few clicks at:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

GRACE CHANGES US...and that hurts!

The Church is founded on Peter who denied Christ three times and couldn't walk on the water by himself. All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful. Priests resist it as well as others. To have the Church be what you want it to be would require the continuous miraculous meddling of God in human affairs, whereas it is our dignity that we are allowed more or less to get on with those graces that come through faith and the sacraments and which work thorugh our human nature...Human nature is so faulty that it can resist any amount of grace and most of the time it does. The Church does well to hold her own; you are asking that she show a profit. When she shows a profit you have a saint, not necessarily a canonized one.

---Flannery O'Connor

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I'm very tired this Thanksgiving night and my mom wants to get up early to go shopping for our African trip, but I just couldn't let such a significant day go by without writing something here at Graceland. My life is too full to overflowing with blessings not to take at least a few minutes to publicly thank God for all He is and all He's done in my life.

We have spent all day surrounded by family eating delicious food. The kids have had fun playing with their cousins. I've enjoyed being with my sweet husband who is feeling more rested and in fact, has been downright hyper! Well, hyper for him. I would say jumping on the trampoline with a crowd of kids to define hyper, wouldn't you? I've also gotten to have great chats with my sister-in-law Stephanie and my cousin Beth.

So I'm thankful for today, but I'm also thankful for so many, many other things. If I tried to write them all, the list would last longer than my energy, but here are a few of the things I'm most appreciative of this Thanksgiving Day 2007:

God and His amazing grace, mercy, and love!
My loving, faithful husband
Our 7 children and the joy they bring to my life
My parents, brother, in-laws, and all the rest of my family
Our church and all the folks who make it such a loving place
The Florence-Richland Homeschool Group
My Troubadour Sisters
The Bracelet Babe gals
My Five in a Row "Family"
Our upcoming trip to Swaziland & Children's HopeChest
The giving people who've provided financially for our trip
My new friends
My old friends
The Richland Public Library Staff
Our cell group at Restoration
God-inspired books that have changed my life this year
Dark chocolate M&M's

I'm about to fall asleep so before my musing gets to meandering, I'm ending it. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with a fresh awareness of the good things in your life. For every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father...the Father who is crazy about you and desires to be in a relationship with you like no other.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I know that many of you are weary today. You struggle with an exhaustion that reaches down to your very core. I pray that you'll be made aware in a very real way today of God's presence...His love, His strength, His power, His provision, His mercy, His grace. I pray that you'll receive His rest and restoration. I pray that knowing He is in the everything will help you not just make it through this day, but even have joy in this day.

To my beloved husband and my sweet friends Paige and Mair, I especially lift you three up to our precious Lord today.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Monday, November 19, 2007


My Five in a Row pal and fellow blogging homeschool mom, Shauna, is the winner of the Saint's Coffee blog giveaway. She'll be receiving a pound of St Martin de Porres Blend. Shauna is an active writer/reader as well as someone who tries to live out the love of Jesus in practical ways and this is obvious when you read through her blog postings.

SHAUNARUMBLING is Shauna's main blog. On it she features book reviews, family happenings, blogosphere giveaways, social commentary, and whatever else inspires her to blog.

The Family Quilt is a blog dedicated to helping families with children find ways to help the poor and care for those in need.

Treasure Seekers was, in Shauna's words, created "to share ideas with other homeschoolers; to encourage and empower parents to teach their children and be actively involved in their education, whether they’re homeschooled or public- or private-schooled; and to discuss current events, educational philosophies, and other education-related information."

Congratulations, Shauna, and thanks to all of you who took the time to enter, promoted the giveway at your blog, and/or popped over to the Saint's Coffee website and ordered some of the good stuff. Your efforts to shop with purpose and support companies such as Saint's Coffee will make a huge difference in the lives of so many children.

And if you've not had a chance to buy any of this excellent java yet, just head on over to .

They'll be glad to fill your mug!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


"Once you have accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines should be deliberately held before you mind every day. That is why daily praying, and Scripture reading and church going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. If you examined one hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?"

C S Lewis, Mere Christianity

Saturday, November 17, 2007


...its not too late to give! Shoeboxes filled with toys, grooming aids, school supplies, and other gift items can still be turned in at local collection spots thru this Monday. For more information on this amazing ministry, go to . You can watch some very inspiring videos, see how to pack a shoebox, and find out where your nearest drop-off point is located.

Friday, November 16, 2007


That's right...we're adding another person to our African trip. Our 14 year old daughter A will now be going along as well.

Back when the decision was first made for me to go, we decided that I should take one of our daughter's. A was the obvious choice as the oldest but it just didn't feel right. She said she wanted to go, but it wasn't for the right reasons. She wanted to go because she wanted to get to ride in a plane and have an adventure. Her 12 year old sister B wanted to go because she has a heart for orphans and loves playing with little children.

After prayer, thought, and talking with them, we made the decision to send B to Africa with me and let A go to Nevada with her daddy to visit her grandma. Getting to fly on a plane for the first time and getting a trip with her dad while all the other siblings stayed home helped satisfy her longing for planes and adventures. She was cool with her sister going with me, was very supportive of our fundraising efforts, and was fine with being the one who'd have to really help out with the little ones while we were gone to Swaziland.

Fast forward a few weeks and hubby brings up the possibility that maybe one day ALL of us will go to Swaziland to live and minister in, not just for a week or two but forever! At which point all our children start getting very, very excited and wanting to sell it all (well, almost all, not the gameboy or stuffed animals, of course) and move to Africa immediately. That is, all but our oldest daughter. She makes it very clear that its fine if WE move to Africa, but SHE doesn't want any part of it. She likes her church, has her friends, and is perfectly content with her American life. And since her daddy has said that if we go it probably wouldn't happen til he retires in 6 years, she's okay with it since she'll be gone to college by then and wouldn't have to go.

So about a month or so ago we were driving somewhere and I started talking to her about the whole situation. I told her that her daddy and I wanted to be obedient to God and do whatever He wanted us to do with our lives...whether that meant to stay put here or go to Africa. And that's what we wanted for our kids. We wanted them to love God so much that they would want His will for them more than anything else in the world. I asked her if she would please just pray about it and ask God to help her be WILLING to go. I told her that didn't mean He'd necessarily call us to go, but I wanted her to at least be willing to obey His call whatever it is for her life and for our family. She grudgingly agreed to pray about it but I could tell she was thinking "I'll pray about it but He sure better not tell me to go live in Africa!"

As y'all know, a week ago someone gave us $4000 which put us not only to our goal that we had to raise for our trip, but put us OVER our goal and gave us a surplus of between $1000 and $1500. Of course, this gave my faith a HUGE boost and reminded me that if God calls our whole family to overseas ministry, He has the provision to provide!

On Wednesday night, I was looking at the blog of a missionary family who lives in Swaziland. The Blacks have 6 kids, 4 of which are teenagers. In the family blogs they shared letters that the kids had written about their spiritual journey to Africa and the ministry that they wanted to do there. And they have a video posted of the kids now that they have been there for a few months talking about their life and how they see God working.

This had a huge impact on Anna. She said that until then, Swaziland seemed just like a dreamland that I always talked about. But seeing the Black kids and how "normal" they are, made her realize that its a real place that real teenagers like her can really go to and make a difference.

She said to me after seeing the video, "I wish I could go to Swaziland with you and B." I was amazed! I really thought she didn't want to go. I asked her about it and she said that she'd changed her mind. She had heard her daddy talking about how going over there was going to change B's life and how she viewed the world. That combined with seeing real kids just like her ministering in Africa clenched the deal for her. She was ready to go. Her heart had been changed. Now it wasn't just a fun plane ride, now it was a chance to have God change her life as she ministered to others in a world totally different than her own.

I immediately went to hubby and told him what A had said. His initial reaction was basically "no way". He's an engineer and very practical (which I need and value) so he saw all the hoops that would have to be jumped thru INCLUDING who would take care of the younger kids since we'd been counting on A to really hold down the fort while I was gone. My mom had said she'd come for a few days, but she's never kept that many all on her own since she's started having some health issues. But we ended the conversation saying we'd pray about it but God would have to make it very clear that it was His will and He'd have to prepare the way by getting my mom's okay and the okay from the man in charge of the trip.

Yesterday afternoon, while doing my walk, I prayed about it. I asked God that if it was His will that He'd speak to my husband about it. I asked God that if it wasn't His will that He'd slam the door shut soundly and we'd know it. But if He wanted her to go, that it would be abundantly obvious.

About 15 minutes later, Jim got home and the first thing he said was, "let's seriously talk about Anna going to Africa". He brought up a few practical concerns and it looked like we'd be able to deal with all of them. He would be able to take off a bunch of time from work, and with my mom coming, and friends pitching in to help some, it could work.

We spent more time praying about it with our cell group last night.

I asked for prayers from you gals, my FIAR small group, a couple of local friends, and then I called my mom.

She said "yes". She'd be willing to let A go and not be here to help her.

I called Children's HopeChest. They said "yes"!

Y'all...let me tell you, I was trembling this morning as we waited word back from Children's HopeChest. I was really feeling very strongly that God was directing this decision and wanted her to go. I had no guarantee, but the spirit was just so strong with was almost overwhelming. And when we got the word that she could go, you can only imagine the hyper, happy, rejoicing that was going on in our household.

Oh, and I should add, her two younger brothers, the 10 and 8 year old, are being so sweet about the whole thing and are already talking about how they are going to really be big helpers while we're gone and make things easier for Daddy and Grandmommy.

I stand amazed at how incredible God is. NOTHING is too big for Him. NOTHING is too impractical for Him. NOTHING is too hard for Him.

He is the God of overabundance. He is the God of provision. He is the God of direction and wisdom. He is the God of who loves us so very much that He allows us to participate in His kingdom's work.

I am giddy today with thanksgiving in my heart.

What an awesome God I serve.

WOO-HOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'M GOING TO AFRICA WITH MY 2 BIG GIRLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


If you're interested, here's the link to the letters that the Black kids wrote about their family going to Africa:

Here's the link to their video:


I've just got to share some happy news with y'all. One of my new girlfriends is Claudia Mair Burney, also known as The Ragamuffin Diva. This woman is funny, sassy, loving, real, talented, and passionate about God! Her blog blesses untold numbers in unbelievable ways. And so do her books.

Word's just come that one of Mair's book will be the featured selection alternate for he premier African American book club, Black Expressions in February 2008. This is HUGE recognition for Mair and her book...and after reading it, I can say that its well-deserved recognition.

MURDER, MAYHEM, AND A MIGHTY FINE MAN can only be found used at present time but will shortly be re-released with a different cover and publisher. Get those dimes and pennies saved up so when it hits the store shelves (or Amazon's warehouse) you can grab up this sassy, witty, and terrific book by my beloved Ragamuffin girlfriend.

CONGRATULATIONS, MAIR! I am so happy for you. Ain't God good?

Thursday, November 15, 2007


If only I had such a willingness to trust...a trust that would allow me to submit fully and die to self.
Once again my 4 year old son T has come up with something quite unique. This child has very unusual food tastes. He's the child who will eat a peanut butter and mayonaise sandwich.

Our family has recently discovered a new favorite crunch....Spicy Thai Kettle Chips. These things are so yum-o that my kids and hubby have nearly come to blows over them. They are THAT good! In fact, hubby snatched a whole bag and spirited it off to work with him today so the kids wouldn't eat them all before he even got ONE as they did last week.

ANYWAY...little T saw a bag of them this morning, picked it up, and said, "I like these spicy chips. I have a crush on them."

Oooh...he's just so darn CUTE!

And that's just one reason why I love that little fellow even more than I love Spicy Thai chips! ;)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I know that officially fall began several weeks ago, but here in the deep south, sometimes it takes a while for Old Man Weather to get around to acting autumnish. Now that the leaves are really changing and the temperatures are no longer sweltering, it really does feel, look, and even SMELL like fall.

A few weeks ago, I asked my kids why they like fall and here is what they had to say:

4 year old T: [I like going to the fair] and riding on the rides that go around the fair.

6 year old L: I like to jump into the leaves. And f its really cold, I can wear my new coat. And its my birthday on fall. And I get t go to the fair and Camp Dixon.

8 year old P: I like jumping in leaf piles, Fall Festival, gong to the fair, and my birthday's in it.

10 year old D: Camp Dixon...cause there's this cool ship they have there and you can play on it. They have these woods you can play in. There's a 3-mile race. And marshmallow fights. And jumping in leaves.

12 year old B: I love the briskness in the air, the cool days spent playing flag football and capture he flag, the excitement that the fair is approaching, the thought of Thanksgiving coming near, and the true beauty of it all.

14 year old A: Because the weather starts getting colder, I get to start wearing long sleeves. There's the fair, and of course, the 3rd most important birthday.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Elysa will be away from her keyboard for the majority of Monday due to the presence of her former green beret husband who is also a government employee. We will be spending the day doing stuff together. :)

Don't forget to observe Veteran's Day today by letting the military folks in your life know that
their sacrifice and service has been appreciated. My soldier will be getting lots of extra loving today.

Please report back to Musings from Graceland at a later time today for an important announcement concerning a give-away of Saint's Coffee plus a related interview.


As someone who has "gifts" as one of their major love languages, I LOVE Christmas. Its a time that we celebrate that amazing gift of love given to us in the form of the tiny Baby Jesus. And its a time when we in turn, can show our love to others thru gifts.

One of the things I'm trying to do this year, is give presents that are truly meaningful. I want to give something that not only blesses the recipient, but goes beyond that. I want to give presents that bless four ways:

1. They bless the recipient.

2. They bless the people you bought them from and/or the people who benefit from the money you spend.

3. They bless you because you fee good about not only making your loved ones feel loved, but you feel good knowing your gifts have an important purpose.

4. You bless God because we're told that whatever we do for the "least of these", we do for Him.

During this time leading up to Christmas, I want to spotlight some sources for gifts that will use the money made to truly make this world a better place.

The first is SAINTS COFFEE. The folks over at Saint's Coffee are more than just serious about making a really good cup of java, they are serious about helping some very needy children.

Brett Irwin, of Saint's Coffee, has been gracious enough to do a virtual bloggy interview for the Musings from Graceland readers. Hope it inspires you to dream big...and buy a lot of coffee.

Welcome Brett Irwin, of SAINT'S COFFEE. I'd like my readers to get to know you and why a purchase of SAINT'S COFFEE is something that goes beyond just plunking down some money for a cup of joe.

I’ll caveat all my answers with, I have a degree in engineering and spent almost 14 years in the military; my life experiences and natural propensities lead me to short concise answers. That’s why we have
Tom Davis; he’s the well-spoken, prolific-writer, high-energy, pretty-face of Saint’s.

First of all, would you please give us a short bio of WHO Brett Irwin is?

Fourth of five children, grew up in a Christian home outside of Philadelphia, attended Penn State and finished my education at CSULB. Husband of Nicole (my bride of 14 plus years), father of Landon (10) and Carson (8), ski addict, ex Army CH-47 pilot, frustrated telecommunications professional turned causal marketer…

Do you have any heroes of the faith or books that have spurred you in your life journey?

My favorite bible character is by far, Joseph. No matter what “life” threw at him, he trusted in God’s faithfulness and goodness and didn’t allow his present circumstances to lead him to doubt and sin. I love everything by C.S. Lewis. While deployed in Iraq, I read, Safely Home by Randy Alcorn and Waking the Dead by John Bevere more than once. I could listen to Ravi Zacharias speak indefinitely. My local pastor, Kelly Williams, amazes me every Sunday with his insight and straight-from-the-bible preaching. Last, but not least, my friend Tom Davis has a passion for the orphan that is so contagious that you can’t spend a moment with him without being caught up in it – thanks for living out your passion Tom. My favorite quote, by Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose”.

How and why did you come up with the concept of SAINT'S COFFEE?

This past June, Tom and I were sitting with a few others overlooking the Crocodile River in South Africa, just outside of Krueger National Park (incredible place). We were brainstorming fundraising ideas in order to meet the desperate need of the widows and orphans we’d met over our one-month stay in Swaziland. Web-based coffee popped into my head - it’s the second highest traded commodity in the world behind oil. There are no storefronts to worry about, almost everyone I know (every normal person anyway) drinks coffee, it’s fast, cheap and easy to start. Also, I have a buddy, Todd, who roasts the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.
The name Saint’s Coffee was Tom’s idea (although Emily, his wife, might beg to differ…). We loved the idea of a Saint, a protector of the less fortunate. I love the concept that just by providing something that people use everyday, we can change kids lives. Just imagine if every company operated this way… we could end world hunger and extreme poverty in no time…

Would you tell us about your it compares to other brands?

Probably the biggest difference between Saint’s and most other coffees out there is the process we use to roast our beans. While most companies use a drum method wherein the beans and any chaff that burns off during the roasting process stay together, we use a fluid bed roasting process similar to the air popcorn poppers used in the ‘80’s. With our process any chaff that burns off during roasting is immediately blown away therefore we end up with a much cleaner tasting coffee. Also, because our process takes less time then the average drum roaster, we end up with a coffee with less acidity. All of our coffees are 100% Fair Trade and Organic – there’s not much point of giving to kids on the back side of the transaction if you’re sticking it to the farmers on the front side. Lastly, all of our coffee is fresh roasted after an order is place – we don’t pre-roast our coffee.

And how exactly is the money used to benefit orphans?

We guarantee that we will feed an orphan for a month from the proceeds from the sale of every pound of coffee. We can do this by taking advantage of the buying power of organizations like
Children’s HopeChest and 5for50. They can buy the food in bulk and have the staff on the ground to get it to the people that need it.

How much coffee have y'all sold so far and where are some interesting places we might find folks brewing your beans?

We’ve been in business just over 2 months and have sold 598 pounds thus far. Probably the most interesting place our beans are being brewed is Swaziland. Although we only sell here in the continental U.S to both individuals and churches, I recently sent some Saint’s Coffee home with a friend who lives in Swaziland with his family. They minister to some of the very kids fed through Saint’s Coffee.

What has been the biggest challenge involved with SAINT'S COFFEE?

Time. Getting the four primary people involved with Saint’s in a room at the same time is a major undertaking.

What has been the biggest reward?

Knowing that there are very real children halfway around the world whose lives are being impacted by what we’re doing.

Any plans for the future that you'd like to tell us about?

For Saint’s, it would be to continue to grow the business at a manageable pace. Our current effort is towards recruiting churches – they order regularly and they get the concept. For me personally, the idea was always that Saint’s would be just one of several like businesses.

Besides buying SAINT'S COFFEE for personal consumption, what are some other ways that folks can support this ministry business?

Convince your church that they need to be selling Saint's Coffee at their cafĂ©. Tell your neighbors, your family, strangers you meet on the street about Saint’s.

In closing, is there anything else you'd like Graceland's readers to know about you, SAINT'S COFFEE, or WHATEVER!?

I’d like to encourage your readers that if they ever have an opportunity to go visit a place God’s put on their hearts, by all means go. You can read about it, see it on TV, have others tell you about it, but there’s nothing like experiencing it firsthand. You’ll be ruined for normal life :) .

Thank you, Brett, and because I'm so excited about your company, I want as many people to know about it...and I want as many orphans as possible to be helped. I'm sponsoring a drawing for a free pound of Saint's Coffee.

All you have to do to be entered, is visit and peruse their product offerings. Then come back here and tell me in a comment which coffee you'd like to win a pound of. I'll close the drawing on Monday, November 19 at noon central time and hold the drawing sometime later on that day. I'll then contact the winner about getting them some coffee-with-purpose shipped fresh right to you.

Increase your chances of winning 2 ways:

  1. Post about this drawing at your blog and include the link to this entry then leave me a separate comment letting me know that along with a direct link to that blog entry.

  2. Post the SAINT'S COFFEE logo with a link to their site on your blog sidebar and again, leave me a separate comment notifying me of the sidebar imbed.
Make sure I can contact you thru either your blog or an email address. Also, this drawing is open only to U.S. residents due to shipping issues.

Your interest in SAINT'S COFFEE is greatly appreciated and whether or not you win the drawing, your support of this company and its mission is promoting something genuinely good in this world.

Thank you!


Brett Irwin and family heading to Africa.

Brett with a Swazi child Children's HopeChest is ministering to in practical ways.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Have I got the blog for you.

God has given me many gifts in this life. Incredible friends is at the top of that "good gift" list.

Several years ago, God lead us to a small, new Calvary Chapel here in our area. And on our first Sunday there, I met a woman who over time, would become one of my sweetest, most helpful, and definitely, hilariously funny friends EVAH!

Kelly has a way of describing even the most basic trying on clothes at Wal-World, using an airplane restroom, or giving birth...and turning it into a laugh fest. Though I DID have to tell her during one of my later pregnancies to NOT tell me anymore of her labor horror stories. She can not only make you laugh, but can scare the popcorn out of a person!

Kelly, who is the mother of three terrific teenagers, wife to a hardworking number-crunching guy, homeschool online guru gal for DRIVE THROUGH HISTORY, and faithful friend among many things, has just spent a large part of this weekend pulling out her hair while starting her first blog.

Please pay Kelly a visit and welcome her to the blogosphere. You won't be sorry for the click and if you're really, really nice, Kelly might even come help you clean your bathrooms before the in laws visit.

LOVE YOU, KELLY!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Yesterday I went by Jennifer's house to pick up the first installment check from our church for our trip to Swaziland.

As I was sitting there, Jennifer said, "didn't you tell me that you were expecting someone to send in a check?"

I said, "yes, my mom."

She said, "well I don't think this is from your mom but I think its enough to cover everything you need."

At which point my mind started racing as she handed me a check for $4,000! That's read those numbers correctly....FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS...and we ain't talking Monopoly play money either!

I was in blown away...and yes, I teared up! I know I shouldn't have been surprised, after all, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and $4000 bucks is small change to him, but in my world, its a HUGE sum of money. I'm talking a few house payments HUGE!

And the really wild thing is that the donor is someone that I'm not even sure I know. I think I know who the person is but can't be positive as I'm terrible with names. They found out about our trip thru an email that was forwarded to a few groups soliciting bead donations for our Grace Works designs.

As I sat there clutching that check, all I could think was that once again God was showing me , as my husband often says, that where He guides, He provides. And that He is the God of miracles and abundance and provision. In THREE weeks, we have received not only the minimum amount needed for the trip, but OVER the amount. We are going to be able to use the extra to bless the socks off of those orphans and their caregivers...if they have socks to bless off.

I am so thankful. I am thankful for a God who loves me enough to use me even when I am so far from perfect. I'm thankful for His Holy Spirit who leads people to give with a generous and loving heart. I'm thankful to the many, many people who have made this trip possible. And I'm very thankful to this donor who has not only made the next couple of months a lot easier on me (I was already wondering how I'd do all of the Christmas "stuff" AND make a bajillion pieces of jewelry to raise funds) but has also boosted my faith.

Our family wants to be obedient and willing to go wherever God leads us. But let's be honest, it takes a lot of money to do missions and to take a family THIS size anywhere is a small fortune. God used this over abundance of provision to show me that if He can provide $5500 in 3 weeks for 2 of us to go, He can provide whatever might be needed in the future for ALL of us to go...whether its short-term of "for always".

If my very generous benefactor is reading this, please know how very, very grateful I am. Whatever you do for the least of these you are doing for Him and your provision WILL be doing for the least of these.

Some folks are still wanting to give financially and others are still interested in buying jewelry...that's terrific! Anything that is raised over the costs of the trip itself will be used to benefit and bless the orphans and the ministry of Children's HopeChest.

God is so mindblowing with His goodness. When times of darkness come, I need to remember what He's shown me in the light.

With a giddy heart,

Friday, November 09, 2007


My life is full to overflowing with people who are so good to me. And to this people-pleasing, people-person, having them show me love in so many visible ways just makes my heart soar. In fact, I was feeling so giddy on Wednesday, I kept freaking my teenage daughter out with my silly songs and goofy dances....though I did catch her smiling a couple of times.

As Betsie and I prepare for our trip to Swaziland, we've been overwhelmed with encouraging words and practical acts of support. Whether its been helping me get my paperwork organized (my darling hubby), answering a bajillion email questions (Dany!), keeping up with the money (The Israels), donating beads and other supplies (Cari, Paula, Lisa, Rhonda, Debi), selling our jewelry (Mom and Kristi), promoting our trip to the church (Bro. Freddie), making financial donations and sending supportive emails (you know who you are), auctioning at EBay (Stephanie), or a sundry of other ways, its all been so appreciated. Your actions are not just loving to me, but they are gifts of love to God and to those precious ones in Africa who we will be ministering to.

I want to say a special BIG thanks to Rhonda. I've said it before, but I just don't feel like I can say it enough. Rhonda has spent hours upon hours creating jewelry for our GRACE WORKS DESIGNS that we're selling to raise the needed funds for the trip.

She has patiently taught me and others how to make the jewelry and with a smile, willingly helps me with the wire creations...even when I don't leave her much wire to work with. I should also say a BIG thanks to her husband Wyatt...not only has he willingly let his wife spend money on the supplies, but he's allowing her to spend copious amounts of time on this endeavor.

So from the bottom of my happy, hyper heart, I send my love and thanks. I couldn't do this without you all...and I think that's just the way God wants it!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dedicated to Dany and Susan...

...because sometimes it really DOES take two.

Swoon girls...swoon on!



If you've been following my journey back to Africa, you have heard me mention Lisa Samson's book, QUAKER SUMMER. Reading this book was one of the ways God used to get me ready for a life change. And because of this book I contacted Lisa and found out about HER planned trip to Swaziland. One thing led to another and here I am with just a little over two months to go before my daughter and I leave to go love on some sweet children.

Everyone I know who has read this book has given it high marks and many of them have had their lives radically transformed as a I'm still more than a little amazed at how many readers have never even heard of this book.

Publisher's Weekly has just come out with their list of top books for 2007. Only 3 Christian fiction books were selected for this highly prestigious recognition. I'm so pleased to learn that QUAKER SUMMER is one of those 3.

Congratulations to Lisa! Keep up the good writing and I can't WAIT to see what God's got planned for you!!!

And if you've NOT read QUAKER SUMMER yet...DO IT! Its definitely a book whose value far outweighs the paper its printed on.

If you HAVE read QUAKER SUMMER, I'd love to hear your reaction and how it impacted your life.

Related links:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hey Dany....

I TOLD you I loved Donny more than YOU did! I've got him on my blog!!!!

And obviously he must ADORE me to appear live and in concert here at Graceland.

Love you...really!



One of the things I love about the internet and the blogging world is that it has allowed me to connect with people that I never have ever would have had a chance of meeting any other way. In fact, its through that means that God has orchestrated my upcoming trip to Swaziland.
God has also used the internet to let me "meet" a really incredible young woman that I want you to get to know. Casey Wells is on staff in Swaziland with ADVENTURES IN MISSIONS doing a variety of things including helping run a guest house for visiting short-term missons, getting a business off the ground that will benefit Swazi craftspeople, and spending time loving on of her very favorite things to do.

Casey's blog is a record of her physical journey to Swaziland and her life there, but its also a record of her spiritual journey and what God is teaching her as she strives to be an authentic follwer of Jesus Christ...not just loving in word, but in deed as well.

A few months back, Casey wrote about the desperation of the Swazi situation but she also wrote about hope. She has graciously permitted me to share this with you here at Graceland:

I have been struggling with this whole concept of giving away hope... I am surrounded by a nation that is completely hopeless. A nation that is slowly disappearing. It is one of the most beautiful places, full of mountains and nature, yet the people are dying. They have no hope for today let alone for the future.

It is easy to give hope to one person. To bring joy into someone's life for one day, one moment. But how do you change an entire nation? How do you turn things around so that they can have a hope and a future; When the future doesn't even look like it will exist? When people don't expect to live until they are thirty. They are living only for today. How do you do that? How do you change a nation?

There can really be only one answer ~ a relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing else has worked, and nothing else will. It's not about my 'religion' or my culture, because those things havn't worked, people have tried. It is only people truly coming into a relationship with the Lord, where they know His word and can hear His voice. We need to stop telling people and start showing people. It's not about converts, it's about true disciples - brothers and sisters. It's about helping meet their needs of today, giving them the tools and knowledge to be able to provide for themselves so that they can live the kind of full and happy life that God wants for them for eternity, not just today.

It's time to start changing our own cultures. It's time to pick up the good from what we've learned from our cultures, and leave behind the rest. It is time to have a 'Kingdom Culture'. To have a culture that is worthy of the name that we carry. . . for
we are to be the living example.
Please pray for Casey as she seeks to do whatever it takes to obey the call of God on her life and love others around her as Jesus would have her love them.
Related links:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who Will be Jesus to her?

Who'll show the love that's commanded in His word?

Will she see in us the mighty God we serve?

Who will Be Jesus to her?

Wounded people everywhere, and when they look at us, do they see Jesus there?

Who Will be Jesus to Them?

Who'll show the love that restores Them again?

Oh, They do not need a judge, They need a friend.

Who will Be Jesus to Them?

Who will be Jesus to them?

-Bruce Carroll


Wanted to thank you all who participated in the country music contest vote and supported John Sager. I'm disappointed to report that John came in second. That said, from all I've heard, God's hand is on John's life and so I can celebrate still because of Romans 8:28...ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.

Praying right now for John to be encouraged and at peace, resting in the fact that as a child of the Father, everything will be used for his good and God's glory.
Devoted Dad Needs Votes

No, not in today's political election, but in a contest to help him win a recording deal. A gal I know thru a homeschool board is asking for folks to get out there and support his efforts. Would you please consider doing so? Here's his info from Cate:

"John Sager, a homeschool veteran of 10 years and man of strong faith, is in a singing contest in Bowling Green, Ohio. John, like so many of us, has found his gift late in life. Now he would like the opportunity to share his amazing talent with others. He has gone through so many rough spots in his life and could use a little break! Please Vote for John at by noon EST Tuesday."

WARNING: It IS Country so for those of you who don't relish this genre of music, you've been warned! LOL! ;)

Thanks! :)

Oh! And Cate just sent me his personal website if you'd like even MORE info:

If that one doesn't work for you (its been freezing up on me), then go to his brief info at the WCKY website:

Monday, November 05, 2007

Wandering and Wondering
My pal Heather is sold out to Jesus...literally sold out. A few months ago, God started talking to her family about leaving their comfy, secure, familiar life and moving away...moving away from where she's lived for what seems like forever...moving away from family...moving away from an established business...moving away from their culture...moving from the urban north to the rural south. They sold and gave away and said goodbye and left. They left to follow Jesus and His plan for them to reach out to troubled children and teens. They left because they love Jesus and they wanted to do whatever it took to obey Him and live a life filled with radical faith and love.
Over the last few months, Heather has been sharing her path...a path filled with ups and downs, victories and defeats, laughter and despair. She shared in her blog this weekend about the confusion she has often felt during her journey to follow the Master. She has been kind enough to let me share this here at Graceland:
I have absolutely no news to report in regards to our foster license.
As that piece of non-news settles, allow me to expound upon that which has been really pestering me lately….
My husband has always said I have a terrible sense of direction to which I protest vehemently. But the truth of that is becoming increasingly apparent as I try to navigate both the winding country roads of these mountains and the winding cognitive trails in my brain.
What they have in common is a sense of how completely lost I am most of the time. .
If you, like me, have lived in the same place for a very long time then you know what it means to never need directions. I knew where everything was and I knew how to get there and I could tell others how to get there with complete accuracy. But put me in a new environment and I wander aimlessly unable to discern which direction is the best route to take.
So now that I am not only in a new state but trying to follow a new type of directions (i.e. “turn left at the big oak tree”, directions that cause even my trusty GPS device to short-circuit), I spend a lot of time wandering and wondering.
There are many signs pointing to different roads I can take, signs telling me when I am arriving somewhere and when I am leaving that somewhere. So, in my usual metaphorical fashion, I started thinking about my spiritual journey.
In many ways it has followed the same path as my physical journey. For a long time I stayed in one place, so familiar with it I no longer felt the need for any directions and never felt the desire to travel elsewhere, probably out of fear of being lost. Since leaving that cocoon of familiarity, I have wandered sometimes aimlessly and sometimes like I knew where I was going when I really didn’t but was too embarrassed to ask for directions.
I am now at the point in my journey where I realize that I may get lost at times but I am no longer afraid of it. You see, I have spent so much time trying to read the maps others have given me, to follow the directions they have written down, all to no avail. Even when I followed their instructions to the letter I still never arrived at the destination I was seeking. I have realized that man has taken the map that God gave us and added detours, shortcuts and construction zones.
Have you ever been lost and stopped to ask for directions from a group of people only to have them bickering over which is the best way for you take? That’s what I feel like after all these years of trying to find my way spiritually.
I was raised in a tiny, rather legalistic denomination. They had it all figured out. They seemed to know better than anyone else which way was the right way and you knew whether or not you were going the right way if you followed their detailed directions to a T. So I figured if I didn’t wear any make-up or didn’t go to school dances or movie theaters or bowling alleys or wear shorts or consort with any Catholics then I would arrive safely at my destination. The interesting thing was that as I was traveling down the road they had pointed me to, I watched the direction-givers wander off into the ditch of adultery and the dead end of abuse and I wondered why they didn’t follow their own directions?
So I set out on my own, determined to find my own way without any directions whatsoever. I would be a spiritual explorer and it would be an adventure. Right? Wrong. I ended up so lost in a jungle of sin that I thought I would never find my way out. I realized that I needed those directions. But where could I get some I could rely on?
I went back to the familiar surroundings of church life thinking that if I could find some travelers who looked like they knew where they were going I could follow them. I told them all the places I had been and they smiled. Silly little traveler, those other churches were giving you the wrong directions but we know the right way…follow us. So I did. I traded legalism for elitism and put on the smug countenance of one who knows the way.
I trailed behind them for a while desperately trying to catch up with those at the head of the pack but I never made it and I eventually stopped trying. I am obviously not of their caliber. I am not an Olympic Christian.
So now I wander again and I look at signs and I watch for the boundary markers, the big lines drawn in the sand, that we have all set up so we can see that this is us and this is not you, the signs that inform me when I have entered one school of doctrinal thought and left another.
You would think that if you asked a group of people who lived in the same area how to get somewhere, they would all give the same directions but for some reason, they all seem to have their own opinion, their own idea of what is the best way to go.
I thought the same of Christians, too. It seems to me that if I ask a group of Christians what it means to be a Christian they would all give me the same answer. But instead invisible walls fly up all around them as they prepare to defend their territory, the imaginary land of only-we-know-the-truth.
“I have tried to remove the plural form churches from my vocabulary, training myself to think of the church as Christ did, and as the early Christians did. The metaphors for her are always singular- a body, a bride….we’ve got to unite ourselves as one body. Because Jesus is coming back and He’s coming back for a bride, not a harem.” (Irresistible Revolution)
At the risk of sounding ecumenical (boy is that word going to set some people off), I have to agree. I truly do not believe that Christ will care one way or the other if you are Baptist or Methodist, Calvinist or Arminian, covenant or dispensational, pre-, post-, amillenial, hymns or contemporary, instruments or no instruments, King James Only, let your kids trick-or-treat, read Harry Potter, if females wear dresses or cover their heads, if you are at stay-at-home-mom or work outside the home, homeschool, watch TV, or cook from scratch every night. What will He really care about? Check Matthew 25: 31-46.
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'
Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
There it is folks. The directions I have been searching for were right in front of me the whole time. When the time comes for me to stand in front of Christ on judgment day, He is not going to question me about why I let my kids dress-up like Spider-man on Halloween and He isn’t going to ask why I wore pants to church and He isn’t going to ask why I attended a church that used drums and guitars during music. He will not ask what denomination I am a member of or what translation of the Bible I read. He is going to ask me about my love for others.
Any time I feel lost, any time I see others walking in a direction that is different from the way this scripture describes but that they insist is the right way to go, I will consult the map God gave us. I’ve got a wedding to get to and I don’t want to be late.
To read more about Heather's journey on the road not taken, visit .

Sunday, November 04, 2007


M.E. at is the winner of the "Heart for Africa's Children" bracelet that I was giving away as

part of the FALL Y'ALL Bloggy Giveaway. Thank you to all who entered and left such sweet words of encouragement. They made me smile and gave a lift to my spirit.

Some of you have expressed interest in buying some of the jewelry. If you're one of those folks, just shoot me an email and I'll get back to you on how you can do just that.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Swaziland Trip

Some of you have been asking about our upcoming trip to Swaziland and what all we'll be doing. One of the main things we'll be involved in is helping out at a Care Point and loving on the children who come there for food and other provision. This video, from Children's HopeChest, will give you more information about this ministry:


"Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light. Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul. Now that cellar is out of reach of my conscious will. I can, to some extent control my acts: I have no direct control over my temperament (emotions). And if what we are matters even more than what we do-then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about. And that applies to my good actions too.I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps of the Christian life we realize that everything which needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.and in reality, it is God who does everything. We, at most, allow it to be done to us."

C S Lewis, Mere Christianity

Friday, November 02, 2007

What do EBAY, FREECYCLE, and WHIPPED CREAM all have in common?

They are all methods thru which God has blessed me mightily this week. :)

As most of you know, my daughter B and I will be going to Swaziland, Africa this January to love on HIV/AIDS orphans and those who care for them. We are so terribly excited and have been busy raising the thousands of dollars needed for the trip.

God's blessing and provision has been pouring out abundantly where this is concerned.

On Wednesday night, as a last minute thing, we borrowed a wooden cut-out-wooden-thingie to use at our church's Fall Festival. My husband, daughter B, our pastor, pal Larry, and others stood behind the board with their faces exposed and for a minimum of a $1 donation, folks could throw pie pans of whipped cream at them. Despite the fact that it was not promoted in advance, folks cleaned out their pockets and we raise $76 in donations! Plus, a lot of "sweet" fun was had.

Thank you to all those who allowed themselves to be "creamed". Thank you to all of those who made donations. And thank you to the folks at Clear Branch Baptist Church for loaning us the wooden cut-out and giving us the idea.

Earlier this week, I put out an email thru a local online freecyle group seeking beads. Rhonda and I were starting to deplete our supplies and beads can be frightfully pricey to buy. Daughter B and I went shopping on Wednesday and specifically prayed that God would help us find some good deals. 30 minutes later we walked into Hudson's and found tons of beads half price. We bought a bagful and rejoiced over our find.

I also received emails from freecycle ladies and another homeschool mom who had heard about our need thru my book-dealer pal Dawn. They were all wanting to donate beads and other materials to help us out.

Yesterday, Rhonda picked up from Freecycle Paula a HUGE amount of beads. Rhonda said she felt like she'd won the golden ticket! We estimated that it was probably a thousand dollars worth of beading materials. We looked thru our Hudson's purchase, picked out our favorites, and we'll now be able to take some back to the store. More provision from God!

One of my favorite librarians, Cara, went by last night and picked up beads from the homeschool mom because she lives in her area. And another Freecycle lady will soon be getting us even MORE beads!

We have an abundance now of beautiful beads all just waiting to be designed into beautiful Grace Works creations. We are so excited!!!!

But wait! There is more!!!! Yesterday evening I received a surprise from my sister-in-law Stephanie (some of you know her as the brains and creativity behind THAT GIRL DESIGNZ). She is auctioning off a gorgeous cross necklace at Ebay. The starting bid is $10 and all proceeds will go toward our ministry to the Swaziland orphans and widows.

If you'd like to make a bid on this very lovely necklace, please go here:


Thursday, November 01, 2007


As some of you know, my sister-in-law is a relatively new but STILL very talented digital designer. She designed my blog's topper as well as the digital banner for GRACE WORKS, the jewelry that my friend Rhonda is helping us make and sell to raise money for our African ministry trip. You can see that design at the bottom of this post.

Stephanie is hosting a giveaway at her blog, THAT GIRL DESIGNZ, as part of the FALL, Y'ALL BLOGGY GIVEAWAY. If you've got one of those standard blog templates or perhaps a personalized one but you're just ready for a new one, head on over her way. She'll custom design you one that fits your personality and blog's purpose if you're the winner.

And even if you're not the winner of the drawing, she offers blog header designs free of charge at other times, they're just not personalized.

Good luck and tell her that her crazy, conservative sister-in-law sent you her way. ;)

P.S. She not only makes really great digital designs, but her kids are pretty darn brilliant and cute, too. ;)

P.S.P.S. There Stephanie...does that make up for the fact that I've voted for Bush in the last 2 elections? :)