From Tracie

Sunday, September 21, 2014

When More Is Not Enough

I read a lot of books - fiction, non-fiction, science-fiction, YA, biographies, self-help, fantasy, art books, mysteries, coffee-table books, children's books, classics. I read them all. And sometimes, I get to read a book written by a friend. Those are my very favorite kinds. So when my friend Amy Sullivan asked me if I would be interested in an advance copy of her new book When More Is Not Enough, I said yes right away, and downloaded it excitedly.
When More Is Not Enough Book Cover
When More Is Not Enough falls in the category of non-fiction. But more accurately, I think it could be described as a pieces of Amy's heart formed into words on the pages of a book. There just aren't numbers for that in the Dewey Decimal System, so we will go with non-fiction.

So. What is this book about? It is about raising kids who are givers. Teaching your children (and yourself) to invest in your communities and changing your focus from consuming to serving.

I don't know if you have ever read Amy's blog. Yes, she is a blogger. That is how we met. But if you have, you will recognize her voice in this book. Not in an "I've read all these stories on her blog already, and didn't really get any new information from this book that I couldn't have gotten for free on her blog" kind of way. But in an "Amy is a real person, who doesn't hold back even when the story doesn't show her in the very best light, and is still learning how to do this life thing just like you and me" kind of way. Never preachy. Often funny. Always honest. Very real.

book quote - see the needs of others

Can we talk about practical, non-fiction books for a second? Sometimes these books are not very...practical. You pick them up, hoping for some answers, a new perspective, maybe a few action plans, and ideas that can actually be implemented in your life in simple and straight-forward ways. But you usually get a lot of inspirational talk mixed with nothing that actually applies to your life in a practical way. When More Is Not Enough is an exception to this. Amy shares stories from her family's experiments with serving and giving, and quite a bit of inspiration, but she also brings it all down to a very practical level of ideas that will fit into your life.

She doesn't pre-presume you already have answers, or are prepared to live a life of service this very minute. Changing the focus of your family from the consumer-oriented success the world offers to the service-oriented heart God offers is not a quick change. It won't happen in one day. There will be mistakes, projects that are less than ideal, and a learning process that takes time. But if you keep trying, keep praying, find causes that cry out to your heart, identify your talents, and focus on projects you can do as a family, you will find your heart and your family changed in forever ways. She also included lists of practical resources and start-this-very-second activities to help you get started.

book quote - shake off comfortable and start to act

I loved When More Is Not Enough. I read it straight through in one sitting, but it is a book I will turn back to again and again for ideas and inspiration. And to re-read the story of the time Amy gave birth on the side of the road, because that kind of unexpected fun (fun? FUN!) never gets old.

I know you will love it, too.


One more thing about Amy and When More Is Not Enough. All the proceeds (yes, ALL) are being donated to Transformation Village, a housing development for women, children, and families in crisis in Western North Carolina. I want to encourage you to follow that link, and check out the work Transformation Village is doing. It is a really awesome idea, and one that I would love to see duplicated in towns and cities across the nation.

***************

Amy L SullivanWhen More Is Not Enough will be released on Amazon September 22nd.

About Amy L. Sullivan: For the past two years, Amy looked harder, loved stronger, and discovered more by fixing her gaze on something other than the person staring back at her in the mirror. Amy writes for oodles of print and online publications and loves speaking with groups of any size. Connect with her online at AmyLSullivan.com. (<---you'll love her!)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

RSVP For The Rugby And Reme Twitter Party 9/25!

Rugby And Reme Party
My friend Kelly is hosting a fun twitter party next week, and she asked me to help spread the word. Rugby and Reme is a super cute new website with two Bernese Mountain dogs that will wag their way right into your kid's hearts. They have apps, fun coloring pages, learning programs, and free online games and story books. There are even two films that are just out of pre-production.

My Katarina is a little old for this site (small sob), but I know a lot of you have younger kids who would absolutely love these two pups. So check out all the details for Kelly's fun twitter party, and go visit Rugby and Reme. You won't want to miss it!

Join Us for Rugby and Reme’s FIRST Twitter Party! #HiRugbyReme

To celebrate the recent  launch of RugbyAndReme.com, our favorite Bernese Mountain dogs are having a party—and you’re invited. Share the excitement over their website that features the animated versions of the cutest Berners we know and all their canine friends. Join us to chat about new friendships, favorite pets, and how animation brings poignant emotions to “life.”.

The Details

Date: Thursday, September 25
Time: 9 p.m. (EST); 8 p.m. (CST); 7 p.m. (PST)
Hashtag: #HiRugbyReme
Panelists:
@SavinSaidSimply —Hostess
@SeaWorldMommy — Hostess
@RugbyAndReme — Sponsor

Prize Packs

Five lucky winners will get Rugby and Reme merchandise prize packs, and the grand prize winner will get a prize pack, plus a $100 Visa gift card! (See prize descriptions below.)

  • Book Prize Pack — “The Ancient Adventure Begins” aka The Adventures of Rugby and Reme Book 1; 1 set Meet The Characters Playing Cards; 1 10” fabric Frisbee.
  • Movie Book Prize Pack — Rugby and Reme Movie Book DVD Books 1 & 2; 1 set Meet The Characters Playing Cards; 1 10” fabric Frisbee; Children’s Logo Baseball Cap.
  • Fun Prize Pack —“The Ancient Adventure Begins” aka The Adventures of Rugby and Reme Book 1; 1 set Meet The Characters Playing Cards; 1 10” fabric Frisbee; Children’s Logo Baseball Cap.
  • New Friends Prize Pack — Small Rugby Plush Toy; Small Reme Plush Toy; Children’s Logo Baseball Cap; 1 set Meet The Characters Playing Cards; 1 10” fabric Frisbee.
  • Facebook Prize Pack —Small Rugby Plush Toy; Small Reme Plush Toy; “The Ancient Adventure Begins” aka The Adventures of Rugby and Reme Book 1; 1 set Meet The Characters Playing Cards; 1 10” fabric Frisbee.
  • Grand Prize Pack — $100 Visa Gift Card; Small Rugby Plush Toy; Small Reme Plush Toy; “The Ancient Adventure Begins” aka The Adventures of Rugby and Reme Book 1; Rugby and Reme Movie Book DVD Books 1 & 2; 1 set Meet The Characters Playing Cards; 1 10” fabric Frisbee; Children’s Logo Baseball Cap.

How to Enter 

1. Share about this party on two social media platforms of your choice like Facebook and Twitter.
Sample Tweet: “Mark your calendar to say HI to new friends at a Twitter Party w/ @RugbyandReme on 9/25 at 6 pm PST/9pm EST. #HIRugbyReme
Sample Facebook Update: “Join the conversation on friendship, pets, and animated film at the #HIRugbyReme Twitter Party on 9/25 at 6 pm PST/9pm EST.
2. Follow @SavinSaidSimply, @SeaWorldMommy, and @RugbyAndReme

3. Tweet during the party (Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 7 pm PST; 8 pm CST; 7 pm EST). Every tweet is an entry to win! Don’t forget to use the hashtag in every post so it’s counted, and remember to add the Q# so we know which question you’re answering.

4. Fill out this form so we have your info. http://bit.ly/RRTParty

5. To RSVP, leave a comment below that includes the Twitter handle you’re using at the party (and entered on the form). Include the links to your two posts (on whatever social media channels you’ve chosen).

Rules

The Rugby And Reme Twitter Party Contest on 9/25/2014 (contest) is open to US residents age 18 years or older. To be eligible for a prize, entrants must follow each item in the above section “How to Enter.” Tweets eligible for prizes must be posted during the 1-hour Twitter Party time-frame. Winners will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all participants’ Tweets, once eligibility is verified (RSVP recorded, two posts provided, form filled, hosts and sponsor followed, hashtag and Q info used). Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

This contest is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by any Third Party Service including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other third-party service. Entrants who choose to make posts on Facebook to share about the contest, acknowledge that the Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook and that any questions, comments or complaints regarding the Contest should be directed to the Contest Sponsors and not to Facebook.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Frozen On Ice Is Magical ... And Icy

We have been huge Frozen fans since the day we saw the movie and met Anna and Elsa. When Disney On Ice announced Frozen On Ice would be opening in Orlando in 2014, we had to go see it.

Meeting The Frozen Princesses

We've never seen any of the Disney on Ice shows in person.

But Frozen? Frozen On Ice? It just made sense.

The show started with the original Disney characters - Mickey and Minnie - who were joined by more Disney favorites like Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Ariel with their princes, Buzz and Woody from Toy Story, Nemo and his dad, Dori, and more. They introduced the story of Frozen, how it is all about love, and then talked about how love is portrayed in each of their stories.

Disney On Ice

After the classic Disney characters left, it was time for Frozen.

Frozen On Ice starts out with the characters as children, just like the movie. Everyone aww-ed when baby Sven made his appearance. After Elsa and Anna built a snowman, giving us our first glimpse of Olaf, Anna was struck in the head with Elsa's ice power, and taken to the trolls.

Frozen Kids and Troll

Being a live performance, and not an animated movie, there were small changes to the story, but they were careful to include all the important parts. A clever exchange of the child-Anna and grown-up-Anna happened during "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?" and any doubts I had that this was going to be awesome were immediately erased like Anna's memories of Elsa's ice power.

When we saw Anna next, it was coronation day, and she was ready to celebrate the opening of the gates. And maybe, just maybe, meet someone special. This is when we were introduced to Hans, and got to sing along with "Love Is An Open Door." Don't judge. I guarantee we were not the only people singing along to all the songs.

Frozen Coronation Day

We got our first look at grown-up Elsa when she appeared for her coronation. Standing on the tower,Elsa removed her gloves just long enough to complete the ceremony, and quickly replaced them while Anna looked on from below.

Frozen Coronation Dance

The coronation and following party were beautiful. The guests had amazing costumes and skating moves. Eventually Elsa made her way off the platform, to stand with Anna. After a dance with the Duke of Weselton (just as funny on ice as it was in the movie), Anna reunites with her new love, Hans.

You know how this turns out, right? Hans and Anna ask Queen Elsa's permission to be married, to which Elsa replies, "You can't marry a man you just met!" An argument ensues, and Elsa's magic is revealed as she accidentally freezes the fountain in front of all the coronation guests and townspeople.

Elsa Uses Her Ice Powers

They really captured the magic when Elsa transformed the fountain to ice. You could hear the excited voices of children as they noticed snow falling on stage and throughout the arena. It was probably my imagination triggered by being so into the story, but I felt a little bit colder, too.

There was some reorganization of the story as we skipped Wandering Oaken's Trading Post to have Anna meet Kristoff and Sven in the woods. But they didn't skip the wolves, or one of my favorite parts of the movie when Kristoff comments on Anna's engagement story by telling her he doesn't trust her judgement, and asking, "You got engaged to someone you just met that day? Didn't your parents ever warn you about strangers?"

Anna Meets Kristoff - they are chased by wolves

Now for the moment you have been waiting for, "Let It Go"...

As Elsa entered and started to sing, you could feel her loneliness, and her building strength. When she removed the heavy cape to unveil her iconic blue dress, a cheer went through the crowd. It was a powerful moment.

Let It Go Frozen On Ice

As we were waiting for the show to begin, Katarina asked how they were going to build an ice castle. It was something I wondered, too. While an entire castle wasn't built (obviously) what they did with the lights, smoke, pyrotechnics, and snow flurries, was pretty amazing. It was much better than I imagined it would be.

Then Anna, Kristoff, and Sven returned, and we finally got to see life-sized Olaf! They even recreated the head-tossing scene from the movie.

Olaf Frozen On Ice

And Olaf finally got to share his secret wish for summer with someone.

Olaf And Summer Frozen On Ice

After the break for summer, Anna and her companions arrive at Elsa's ice castle, where she is less than excited to see them.

Elsa Frozen On Ice

This was the moment where the special effects and magic really showed up. As Elsa tries to get Anna to leave, she loses control, and hits Anna in the heart with her ice power. Once again the flurries and lights were spectacular, and made it all feel very real.

Elsa Freezes Anna's Heart

Elsa sent Marshmallow to scare them away from her castle. It was then that Kristoff and noticed Anna's hair turning white, and took her to see his friends, "the love experts," who were actually the trolls she visited when she was a young child.

Marshmallow And The Trolls On Ice

Grand Pabbie Troll explains that it will take an act of true love to thaw her heart. They immediately set off for Arendelle so Hans can give her a true love's kiss. But it isn't to be. Hans never loved her, and instead of kissing her, he leaves her for dead and sets off to kill Elsa so he can take over rule of Arendelle.

Hans is thwarted in his plans. Anna sees him heading towards Elsa, and instead of running to Kristoff so he can save her with true love's kiss, she runs to save her sister.

Anna Saves Elsa Frozen On Ice

This act of true love saves not only Elsa, but Anna as well. Better than any true love's kiss. And Hans is sent off to be imprisoned in his country (after Anna lands a well-placed punch). Elsa thaws Arendelle, giving Olaf his own personal flurry so he won't melt. Anna replaces Kristoff's sled. And they all live happily ever after.

Disney's Frozen On Ice

At the end of the show, the classic Disney characters returned for a final ice dance with the Frozen characters. It was awesome.

I took more than 100 pictures, and that isn't even counting the pictures Thomas took. They weren't at all spectacular with the spot lighting and distance. And they didn't capture the spins, flips (yes, flips!), and other ice skating magic that was happening. So, trust me when I tell you, you need to see this in person. It is totally worth it. My pictures here don't do it justice, and you will be amazed at how magical and special it will be.

Have you seen any Disney On Ice productions? This one was was amazing, so now I'm totally hooked, and wondering which one we should see next.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

As The End Nears, This Is Peace

Do not let your hearts be troubled John 14:27

My grandma, Shirley Judge, was moved to a hospice facility last night. As she was being transported in the ambulance, she told my cousin Rachel, "I want to go to heaven as fast as I can." This is no surprise, as heaven, eternal life with Jesus, has long been the desire of her heart.

Grandma and Rachel in the ambulance
Grandma and Rachel

She is ready to go to her real home.
Ready to see Jesus, and all the loved ones who are there waiting.

My mom and grandma
My mom and Grandma

As the family gathered around her last night, pictures started to fill facebook. I was drawn again and again to Grandma's beautiful smile, and to the peace and hope I saw reflected there.

My cousin Lauren
Grandma and Lauren
My cousin Hanna
Grandma and Hanna

There are no perfect poses; this isn't the kind of photographic moment that is planned for ahead of time. But there is love to be captured. So much love.

Grandma's Daughters
Grandma's Daughters: Maureen, Sharon, and Dianne

Love visible in hands quietly held.
Sisters sitting together.
Multiple generations sharing strength.

Four Generations
Four Generations: Lori, Dianne, Danielle, and Grandma
My Cousin Janelle and her family
Tyler, Janelle, Eli, Jaylin, and Grandma

My mom called me last night from Grandma's room. The family was singing together, as they did in April when my beloved Uncle Bill went home to heaven. My Aunt Sharon referred to it as "singing her into the gates." I loved that.

My Aunt Sharon
Sharon and Grandma

At one point they asked if I had a song, and I offered up How Great Thou Art. It is a song Grandma and I had sung together and discussed many times, as it is a favorite for both of us. As I heard the voices rising out of the speaker on my phone, Thomas and I joined in the singing, and I felt peace pour over me again. And for just a few seconds, everyone got quiet, and I could hear Grandma's sweet voice singing.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

In that moment, my heart filled with joy.

Grandma singing with me on the phone
This is Grandma singing. My mom is holding the hymnal and pink phone.
I'm on the other end of that phone.

There were more songs. Songs of faith. And hope. And joy. Thomas leaned over to me and whispered, "I wish my dad could hear this." I knew exactly what he meant. I wish I could have invited everyone I know into that sacred place last night to hear our voices raised together in praise. It is something I will hold in my heart forever. The only way I can describe it is, it was a beautiful choir of love, and I am so thankful to have been a part of it.

Even as we know it will not be long before we say our final good-byes to a woman who has given us so much, we have peace that could only come from God. Peace that she will be in heaven eternally, without pain or sorrow, and peace that one day we will join her there, because of the sacrifice of Jesus and the forgiveness of a loving God.

great-grandchild
A picture for Great-Grandma

This family is her legacy. Begun many years ago with my grandpa in Canada, it has moved and grown and changed; we've had many additions, and we have lost some people far too soon. But still our family stands strong.

Each of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren know and love the Lord. She has prayed for, taught, advised, loved, planned for, and given of herself to each one of us. And more than that, she has shown us exactly how to live this life by her example. We would not be the people we are today without her influence. She has allowed God to use each day of her life as a blessing.

my cousin Rachel
Grandma and Rachel
My Uncle David
Grandma and her son, David

More family is coming in to spend time with her today. I'm sure there will be more singing and telling of stories. More laughter and more tears. I don't know that any of us get to pick how we leave this world, but I know if I had a choice, this is exactly the way I would like to go - surrounded by family, love, and the praises of God. It is a beautiful fulfillment of a life lived for God.

Four Generations
Four Generations: Maureen, Katarina, Grandma, and Tracie (our last day in AZ)

Grandma really has lived her life well, all 90 years of it. She is ready to move into the next chapter of life. Her body is tired, but her spirit is strong. She is looking forward to heaven, and excited to see Jesus.

There is no fear and no regrets. Only hope and the expectation for amazing things to come. And peace. So much peace.

I love you, Grandma. I have been so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for being exactly who you are, and for all the love you have given me.


Shirley Judge left this life to go to her true home in Heaven on the morning of September 9, 2014. She passed quickly and quietly into the arms of Jesus. Her eternal life is just beginning, and I know it is going to be amazing.

For more of my grandma's story, you can see the words I wrote on her 88th birthday, and the last words we shared with each other.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Last Words

We are home from Arizona. It was a hard trip, not at all like the trips we usually make. I did get to do the most important thing though, and that is spend time with grandma each day. There were big ups and downs, even in the short time we were there.

It seemed like every piece of good news was tempered by another setback. Even on the days when she was doing well, I felt the pressure of knowing this would probably be our last visit together, because it will be a long time before we are able to make another trip out there.


On that one bad day, when she held me close to her like she never wanted to let go, I knew exactly how she felt about me, and I know she understood my feelings as well. I told her there was still one more day left, and I would be back to see her. "One more visit, Grandma. I love you. I'll be back tomorrow." She nodded, and closed her eyes.

The next day, the night before we left, she was awake and much more like her usual self. As she gave me clothing advice, she told me I was beautiful. She told me she was proud of me. She told me she loved me. I held her hand, feeling the strength in her grasp, and told her how much I loved her. I told her how thankful I was to have her in my life. I thanked her for all the prayers and love she has given me. I leaned close, to hear her whispered words of love.

With Grandma In The Hospital

There was a lot of talk about last words, of saying everything that you want to say. Do you realize how impossible it is to sum up a whole life in a few sentences? Do perfect words even exist? But I realized something. We didn't need to share special last words, not the kind of last words so often spoken.

I don't have a score to settle with her. I don't need to offer or ask for forgiveness. I don't need last minute advice, because she has always poured out her advice on me - the most important of which is to follow God. I am not afraid for her soul, that was settled long ago, and I know Jesus is waiting to welcome her home when the time comes. I never had to wonder where I stood with my grandma. There has only ever been love between us.

I'm thankful for that today. I'm so thankful that we spoke the most important words every time we talked, in every card we exchanged, in every thought we had of each other. Because our last words are just an extension of the words we always shared.

In this, there is peace.

I love you, Grandma. I always will.


Linked with Pour Your Heart Out.