Saturday, April 16, 2016

Special Opportunity: Get Your Own Personalized Name Graphic!


Hello everyone! Lately you've been hearing me talk about E and N, the two precious kids my husband and I have committed to hosting from an orphanage in Ukraine this summer. Hosting is where kids that normally live in an orphanage come to America over the holidays and experience life and love in a family environment! We're really looking forward to sharing our lives and the love of Christ with E (a 9 year old girl) and her brother N (a 6 year old boy) this summer! You can read more about them and our hosting journey here!



We're trying to raise $5000 by May 15th (less than a month away!) to help cover their travel/visa fees. We're asking people to prayerfully consider helping us along in this journey by choosing a number on the card below and committing to donating that much towards helping E and N. If we find someone to commit to every number on this card we can reach our goal to shower these two precious kids with love this summer!



Donate by clicking below or in the side bar:




As a thank you for a donation of any size, we're offering a free personalized name graphic in one of 7 designs! 




It's Super Simple:

1) Donate ANY AMOUNT to Hope for E and N on our gofundme page.

2) Email me at belovedcreations01@gmail.com and tell me which design you like (the Sparrow, the Lansing, the Michael, etc) and what name you'd like me to put on it. I can do name only, name and meaning, first and middle name, or even a last name. 

3) I will make you design and email it to you! Then you can post it to Instagram, make it your Facebook profile pic, upload it to a website that will let you print it on a t-shirt or coffee mug, anything you want! 

Check out this one I did for my friend Jeni in the "Sparrow" design! Of course, yours will be without the "Support Hope for E and N" banner.



For a donation that totals more than $25, I'll do two free name graphics and for a total donation $50 or more, I'll do four free name graphics! 





We really appreciate your donations! I know they will change lives! Please share this opportunity with your friends!

If you want to know more about hosting, watch the video below:





God bless you!





Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hodgepodge Wednesday: 4/13/16

Hello everyone! It's time for another super fun Hodgepodge Wednesday! Be sure to check out other responses to these questions as fromthissideofthepond.com!

1. What's the last thing you did that could be described as 'taxing'?

Lately I've been working hard to raise funds to host two precious children from an orphanage in Ukraine in our home this summer! We're so excited by the opportunity to shower these kids with the love of Christ but the fundraising has me a bit frazzled!

2. If you could plant a garden of anything, what would be in it?

These. I don't even know what they are but they remind me of Dr. Seuss.



3. April 10-16 is National Library Week...will you celebrate with a visit to your nearest library? When did you last make a trip to the library? What are you reading right now? What's one title on your want-to-read list?

Sadly, we haven't gotten new library cards since we've moved! I recently bought some books from thriftbooks.com and one of those was The Connected Child by Dr. Karen Purvis (who sadly passed away yesterday). I know her work was revolutionary in child development and especially in adoption so I'm very excited to read it!


4. Share a saying or an old wives tale you heard while growing up, you believed to be true or that you paid attention to 'just in case'?

I remember taking "Step on a crack, break your mother's back" very seriously as a child.

5. Are you a fan of onions? Garlic? Ginger? What's a dish you love that contains one, two or all three items listed?

I'm a big fan of all of those! Pretty much everything I cook is covered in garlic! The three together sound like Asian food to me. Yum!

6.  Where does nurturing end and indulging begin? What are some skills or qualities you think a person needs to posses in order to be viewed as mature?

That's a tricky line to walk. I don't remember the exact quote but I remember something from the adoption literature that I've read that said something like "True independence comes out of true dependence". In order to become mature and thrive, you have to be secure in the fact that someone has your back. 

7. What leading figure in any field would you like to hear speak, and why?

It's funny that this is one of the questions because I talked about her already! Last weekend Michael, my mom, and I all attended an Empowered to Connect simulcast that Dr. Karyn Purvis was supposed to speak at. They informed us, though that she had been too ill to travel and yesterday I learned that she passed away. Sadly, now I'll never get to hear her speak in person but I know that her revolutionary legacy of equipping caregivers to meet the needs of children from hard places will live on!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

We're finally getting to host from Ukraine! I've been wanting to open our home to these orphans from Ukraine for years now and we finally get to! We've committed to host a 9-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy! They normally live in an orphanage so hosting is an important enriching experience that allows them to experience life in a family setting as well as the love of Christ! They'll be here in June! I can't wait!

If you'd like to know more about hosting, check out Guglielmo's Hope


Our fundraising goal is $5000 by May 15th! I would be so honored if you'd prayerfully consider helping us meet E and N's needs by donating towards their travel expenses! Donations of any size are appreciated! You can click the link below or the one in the sidebar!


Hope for E and N




God bless you and thanks for reading!

Wordless Wednesday: Favorite Childhood Memories

Happy (not so) Wordless Wednesday everyone! This week I chose "favorite childhood memories" as my theme. Since I don't have digital copies of most of these pictures, I tried to somewhat creatively stage a "pictures of pictures" session. I hope you enjoy and that these bring to mind some of your favorite childhood memories!











There are so many more little moments like riding in the car with my mom or going out to eat as a family that I just don't have pictures of. I noticed, though, that most of the memories I look back on fondly are just the little moments with family. We didn't have a lot of money so we didn't do a lot of big things, but the time we did spend together was priceless. 

A couple days ago I introduced you to a 9-year-old little girl named E and a 6-year-old little boy named N and they've lived the last three years of their lives at an orphanage in Ukraine. Special memories like being read to every night, having a pet of your own, or celebrating your birthday with a family are things that kids growing up in institutions miss out on. We will only have E and N in our home for 10 short weeks but we're hoping to give them a summer full of special memories that's overflowing with love!

Would you be willing to help us get E and N here so that we can make a difference in their lives through the love of Christ? A donation of any amount would be very much appreciated! Click the link below or in the sidebar to donate! If you want to know more about E and N or about hosting, check out my featured post!



What are some of your favorite childhood memories? Tell me about them in the comments!


God bless you and thanks for reading!


Monday, April 11, 2016

Hope for E and N: Ukrainian Summer Hosting

Hello everyone! Many of you know that Michael and I have experienced many parts of the world together from Mexico to South Africa and Lesotho. This summer, though, we're going to experience a little bit of Ukraine, but not by traveling there. We've volunteered to provide a loving family environment for a brother and sister that normally live in an orphanage in Ukraine. They'll be here in our home from mid June to late August. We are so exited about this opportunity to bless these kids with the love of Christ and give them an enriching experience that they won't forget!






Hosting might be a new concept for you so allow me to give you a quick explanation through this video. It's a few years old but it communicates the message still:

What is Hosting?






I hope that showed you what a big difference can be made in the lives of these children in a short period of time. On the missions programs we've been involved in before, we've shared God's love through teaching, preaching, and forming friendships but with this opportunity, we'll be blessed to share God's love by sharing our lives with these children 24/7 for 10 whole weeks! I know God has big plans through this!

So let me introduce you to E and N! E is the older sister in this duo. She's 9 years old and very bright! She's eagerly learning English in school because it's her favorite subject. I can't wait to see the great language gains she's going to make this summer! N is the little brother and he's 6! I had to smile when I read that he likes playing with big dogs because I know he'll have a blast with Pax and Kota this summer!

These children are absolutely precious and have had to walk a hard road. We're excited to help them experience the love of Christ and the love a family, maybe even for the first time. 





You might be wondering how this fits into our broader adoption plan. This hosting arrangement is temporary and we are still moving forward with our plan to adopt from foster care here in the United States. Even though they live at an orphanage, E and N are not available for adoption at this time.

Even though this is just for a summer, we're hoping to give E and N the assurance that Jesus loves them profoundly, they are truly precious and valuable and that even though we might be an ocean away, they have a family that loves them, cares about them, and is invested in their future. 

How to Help 

As many of you know, international travel comes with plenty of expenses and so do children! We humbly ask you to partner with us on this journey to pour love into the lives of these two precious children! We're hoping to raise $5000 by May 15th. That's the most amount of money we've ever had to raise and the shortest amount of time! However, we are confident that God is going to come through for these sweet babies because he loves them more than anyone else ever could!

We've set up a Go Fund Me page called Hope for E and N where you can contribute any amount you wish! We're so grateful for your partnership on this journey!

Thank you so much and God bless you!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Arts and Crafts Friday: Lion and Lamb Kids Craft Day





Hello everyone! It's Friday and I'm excited to bring to you another arts and crafts article! This one is a little different than my last one where I shared one of my latest paintings with you. In this article, I'm going to sharing with you some of the crafts we did at the monthly kids craft day I organize and help lead at our church. I hope you enjoy reading about if you do something similar, teach a kids Bible Class, or are just looking for some rainy day activities for your own kids!

At these kids craft days I usually pick a fun theme, pick out some crafts to go with it, and pick a related story that conveys a message about God. I usually choose a theme related to the month (Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December, etc). There was a lot to choose from this March (St. Patrick's Day, first day of spring, Easter) but I went with a more generalized March theme of lions and lambs ("March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb").


It was easy to make a Bible connection with the theme lions and lambs because Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and also the Lamb of God. We started off the afternoon playing with bubbles outside but when the kids came in we all sat don with a cup of lemonade and talked about how Jesus was the lion and the lamb. I brought a children's book from home about the ABCs of Jesus and read them the page for the letter L, which talked about Jesus being the Lion and the lamb. I brought some other story books to read to them (one about a lion and one about a lamb), but since we had several very young kids this time, I decide to move on to crafts at that point and pull the stories out later if we needed them.

Of course, the first place I go when I'm looking for inspiration for crafts is Pinterest (you can follow Beloved Heart and Home on Pinterest by clicking here). My goal is to brainstorm and gather as many ideas as possible because I've found that it's better to have too many activities than not enough.

The crafts that made the final cut (with slight modifications) were:


Popcorn Lamb (slightly modified)

Hand print lion and hand print lamb (I found the ideas separately but had the kids do them on the same sheet of paper to show that Jesus was both the lion and the lamb).

We also colored lion masks (purchased in a package of zoo animal masks from Hobby Lobby), colored a wooden Jesus Loves Me heart, and colored a pretty Bible verse coloring sheet (I pulled out one of the storybooks while we colored). 

Some crafts that I that I thought about but didn't end up doing were the spoon puppet lion, lion painted with a fork, button lamb, and thumbprint sheep. 




I also like to do a food craft but I had trouble coming up with one for a lion or a lamb. I considered this lion graham cracker sandwich but decided against it. I came up with the idea for this little marshmallow lamb while we were out buying supplies the night before. 

To make it, you take an extra large marshmallow, stick four pretzels in the sides for legs (I couldn't get mine to stand but one of the kids did), paint one circular side with chocolate frosting to make the face, stick on candy eyeballs (found in the cake decorating section of Walmart), stick on unwrapped chocolate eggs  for ears, and enjoy! We did this craft day a couple weeks before Easter so candy eggs were readily available but I'm sure there's some less seasonal candy that you could substitute if you're doing this craft at another time of year. 


Overall, I think this craft day was a success! We're our attendance numbers are growing every time and we always have a lot of fun! So far all the kids have been kids associated with our church but eventually, I'm hoping we'll be able to reach out to new families as well. The day felt a little chaotic at times but that just means that I need to carve out more prep time for next month! I had a TON of great helpers this time, though! I've had a good helpers every time but this time I had a teen helper for every kid pretty much! We're doing a discipleship initiative at church so I invited a lot of the teen girls out to help me and several of them came! I started doing craft days like this when I was a teenager so I'm glad to be able to have the teen girls out helping me.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our craft day and seeing the kids' cool creations! Our theme for April is flowers so be on the look out for a post about that! Thanks for reading and God bless!

Do you know of any great craft idea resources? Share them in the comments!



Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Year with Pax: Cute Puppy Pictures









About a year ago, I shared with you our new addition, our husky/lab mix puppy Pax. I shared with you the story of how I prayed for him for months and then finally received him! For the past year I've been posting lots of updates and pictures of this cutie. I've even shared with you the lessons I've learned from him. Today I want to celebrate Pax being in our family by sharing with you some cute puppy pics from the past year and sharing what Pax means to me!

Pax is such a sweetheart! I think Pax (peace) really fits his personality, even if some of his puppy antics have caused a lot of stress. He has a really easygoing and relaxed disposition most of the time (kind of the opposite of Kota when he was a puppy), as long as he's with his pack. Pax loves spending time outside! He would spend all of his time outside if I's let him, but he sometimes jumps the fence so I have to keep a close eye on him. He's just over a year old now so still very much a puppy. He has a ton of puppy energy that he likes to put to good use zooming around the yard as poor ten-year-old Kota tries to catch him. He and Kota like to play together but after the initial fun of a new playmate wore off (within a day or two), it did take Kota awhile to warm up to him. Pax tends to be very focused on Kota much of the time. He always wants Kota's attention and would much rather play with Kota than a human. Usually, though, when we're inside, Kota will pick a spot and lay down and Pax will be my little shadow. Another way Pax  uses up his energy is by pulling my husband around the neighborhood on skates. He really has a blast doing that! He's a very bright puppy and learned to sit on the day we brought him home. He also does down, shake, up, and round and round. He can stay but that ones really hard for him. He has refused to learn speak so far and most of the time prefers to communicate in whines and rumbles as opposed to barks. 

Pax is a husky and lab mix. If I had to guess, I'd say he's about 75 pounds now, though he's always looked super skinny. He's taller than Kota by maybe a half inch but not as stocky (Kota is a husky/German Shepherd mix). 

God has used Pax to teach me so much in the past year about his love, just like he did when I got Kota. I love that God is so creative in the way he teaches! I'm really so very grateful that God brought me Pax!



I can't get over that face!


"The new guy"

Our first picture of him

Paxy smile


Those eyes

All grown up Pax with bubbles!

His ears were so huge!


Pax loves being outside

Check out those chompers!


He loves rides and he loves Kota

So handsome


Playful Pax

I love his smile!

Goofy face! One of my fav Paxy pictures


Hanging out with Daddy

Paxy and the pumpkin

Treat?


Husky curl


Somebody had an adventure...

Paxy loves his big brother Kota

Pax also loves big brother Blue, his bio brother from a different litter (not our dog)




Happy Pax

Reindeer Pax

Puppy eyes

Happy birthday!



He was so tiny!

Another one of my fav pics! Pax and my nephew blowing bubbles!

Look how big he got from 8 weeks to 8 months!

Pax's first day as a part of our pack!





If you're curious about his name, you can read all about it on my baby name website belovedbabynames.com!



Okay, so I don't normally write poetry, but I guess I felt inspired because I wrote this short little poem about Pax. I was fun to write, though, so I hope you like it! (And how cute is that picture of him from back when only one of his ears stood up!)





I hope you enjoyed reading about my Paxy boy and I hope seeing his pictures brightened your day! We celebrated 10 years with Kota in February and I've been meaning to do a post like this for him but I just haven't found the right words to capture my thoughts and feelings about my best friend of ten years. I hope when I do figure it out, you'll come back to hear about Kota!

Tell me about your pets! What do you love most about them!

God bless and thanks for reading!