Thursday, March 24, 2011

STDs: Sad Truths Your Girls Need to Know

It's my day on ModSquad!

Make sure you click on the link below to get to my purity book giveaway!

I’ll never forget sitting the counseling room with her. As a crisis pregnancy counselor, I volunteered weekly to sit and administer free pregnancy tests and confidential counsel to young people in need. Sadly, I would sit with girls ranging from as young as 12 up into their twenties.

On this particular day, I had a female before me who didn’t seem too concerned about if her test was positive or negative. While the clock timer ran, her mind was elsewhere. “I know I got herpes from my last partner. This is going to change everything.”

She thought she was safe with a condom but being a skin to skin contact disease with a falsely trusted piece of latex that couldn’t cover everything, she ended up infected nonetheless. And, it was too late to go back.

When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, our girls are largely under-educated. Prevention efforts and fears tend to focus largely on unplanned pregnancy without adequate mention of the impact these diseases have.

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease awareness month and with my MODsquad niche being on purity, I wanted to provide you with information to share with your girls to help them think.

Consider these few facts: STDs are the most common diseases in America next to the common cold and flu. Source: http://humanlifeservices.org/teens.htm

One in four teens are already infected with at least one STD. Source: http://std-gov.org/

To finish reading my post & take part in the NOBODY TOLD ME GIVEAWAY, please visit ModSquad. *Note* If through conversation you find out that your daughter (or son) has made past mistakes, please go to your regular family doctor for STD testing. He or she will be able to do the most thorough testing and have the best follow up.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Check Out the Meaningful Places Exhibit (at the Old Courthouse Museum)!

Sioux Falls is filled with meaningful places that deserve a moment in the spotlight. After inviting the community to share valued locations (& a picture or video), the Meaningful Places Exhibit has been selected, created, and is open for viewing.

I have two entries featured so I wanted to highlight this opportunity for my local readers to embrace this chance to check out ALL the meaningful places people felt passionate enough to write about.

While I don't want to give away the details of my "places," here are some hints-

Place #1 is a place that I have been a member of since birth



And place #2 highlights the sight where my "status" forever changed.




I can't wait to see what else is included in this exhibit. Please join me in supporting the museum, which always has much to enjoy, and uplift local citizens that bring new perspective to the places you drive past each day.

Dates of the exhibit are May 21 - September 21, 2011.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring is in the Air: A Little Girls Bathroom Remodel

After posting pictures of the new princess room, many people have asked about the new bathroom that I mentioned.

As was the case with the bedroom, we let the girls take ownership in this so when they found this shower curtain and bathroom set in Younkers (and refused to put it down), I knew it was "the one."

This toothbrush holder is strictly adorable


And the matching soap dispenser was a must.


The hand towel


And matching bug rug finish it off.

The walls are the same Easter Basket purple from the princess room and they are decorated with these adorable white shelves I got on clearance at Target. Matching white shadow boxes are featured on the opposite wall.

Since they get to help decide what goes on the shelves, we have a little bit of decorating yet to do. :)

Lest you think we got away from princesses, guess again....

A matching Tinkerbell night light lights the way for them in the darkness.

This set was already 40% off and since it was the Goodwill sale at Younkers we had coupons to get an additional 15% off each of the items amounting to mega savings all the while benefitting the community - my favorite way to shop! Seriously, I think it would satisfy Design on a Dime.

It turned out absolutely adorable. In fact, I think I love it just as much as the girls. They definitely have good taste. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

BIG Blessings in His Time

Those of you who know me well know that I am a planner. By nature I am very type A. This highly organized approach to life has helped to keep my house & personal life in line.

But, sometimes God likes to rock the boat. :) He likes to step in with a gentle reminder that He is big and I'm little; that His plans ultimately prevail.

Now is one of those times. Recently, Pam Stenzel and I received very exciting news.

Book contract number two is a done deal!

We are thrilled that after only a few months with book one on the market Regal Press has a desire and confidence in us to continue ministering to teens and young adults through book.

Interestingly, the manuscript is due May 1 and I am due with a baby on May 5. Obviously, I'm praying that this baby loves incubating and opts to wait to join us until we've hit "send."

But, I have no control.

I'm sure you've been in situations like this - where you have a desired wish but no control over how it plays out. How do you respond in those times?

Well I am choosing to cherish today. When my mind starts fast forwarding to the future and wondering how everything will go, I'm reeling it back to the current moment. After all, I have two INCREDIBLE blessings coming in the next seven weeks!

I'm taking comfort in God's provision.

Proverbs 16:33 reads, "We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall." (NLT)

The Alpha and Omega has a plan for our future and our job is simply to abide in Him. We are to live in the today and celebrate all that is before us right NOW.

Today I'm going to use "gifted time" when the kids are playing Polly Pockets (whoever invented those things is a genius. My kids LOVE them!) to read & organize for book two. I'm going to support & uplift my wonderful husband in some house projects. I'm going to help my beautiful kids make a cake for their great grandma. And, we are going to celebrate her birthday because it is TODAY.

I'm trusting that He will help me organize my time. And, I'm EXCITED about it!

Are you?

For all of you parents, teens, and mentors that loved book one on living a life of sexual purity in today's culture, THANK YOU!

We promise to deliver another manuscript you will love and be encouraged by.

In the meantime, enjoy "today" with me and trust that He has all worked out according for your good.

I just had to share the exciting news and pass on a bit of encouragement. Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Once Upon A Dream (Princess Room)

Last week I got you all primed and ready for the princess room reveal. Well, today's the day!

As I mentioned, the girls know Whose they are and being the daughter of the King

they are in to all things princess.

We found these super cute comforters at Target and both girls wanted them for their bunk beds.


Since Target does an amazing job of marketing, we also left with these princess "wearable blankets." Basically they are the kid version of the adult snuggie in princess form.


I was lucky enough to be discussing the princess room with another mom at preschool and she told me that Walmart had well-working wall stickers. The girls picked this princess castle mural



as well as a pack with several of the princesses with princess things and sayings. I have to say, it was an amazing way to decorate the walls. We got tons of wall space decorated for a mere $30.

Because this was their "special" privilege that comes with being a big sister, they got to choose the wall colors as well. They selected Fairytale Pink and Easter Basket Purple from the kids room collection at Lowe's. All of the walls are pink with the exception of the wall above the ledge that frames a window.

Hannah was disappointed that we didn't use more of the purple and we had some left so they ended up with an adorable new kids bathroom (which they selected everything for) as well. Perhaps I'll show you that another time. :)

We finished the room off with this adorable sisters princess wall art from their aunt


and a princess night light, thanks to our friend who told us they had a huge variety of them at Lewis on sale for only $2.99. Daddy surprised the girls with these so he was in an instant hero.


Have I ever mentioned that I'm married to an amazing man? He gave up his manly Vikings room to fulfill their princess dream.

I owe a huge thanks to my mom for the time she invested in helping us get the job done. Not only do I appreciate her willingness and talent, but the time spent together was a treat.

So there you have it! An adorable princess room for our wonderful little princesses.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Celebrating the Princess Within

Baby #3 is due to arrive 8 weeks (or sooner) from today. Time is FLYING!

But, we didn’t want so much focus to be placed on the baby that the girls felt there was nothing special in this transition for them.

So, we let them pick colors and a theme for their new room.

For their last birthday they wanted a princess party. A local hairstyling school does girls parties (hair & and manicure) for a mere $10 per girl. So we decided to celebrate the princess within.

After all, all of us ladies are children of the King, making us HIS princess.

The girls invited some of their friends and off to the styling school we went.

It was Hannah's first time with a curling iron.




Grace was all about the curls.



They got their nails done.


Left hand in hand.


And then decorated picture frames at our home (which they finished off with a group picture).



Since this party, the girls love for princesses has only intensified. I'm fine with this because they know that they are His and this makes the princess concept "fun."

Consequently, their new room revolves around this theme. Once we have things up on the walls, I'll be back to show you pictures from their "special treat" in this pregnancy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Because Dance is About More than Pretty Turns & Pointed Toes

Our oldest started dance the month that she turned three.


And she loves it.

Every week she says Tuesday's are her favorite days because she gets to go to ballet and tap.

But, the reason she loves it lies in more than pretty turns and pointed toes. She LOVES Ms. Amanda, her dance teacher.

Ms. Amanda does an amazing job of
*giving each student a feeling of success
*maintaining a controlled environment (even with 16 or so 4 & 5 year olds)
*investing time in the students so they are proud of their performance
*building their self-confidence
*listening to them
*creating a fun, safe-space for students to thrive

I could go on and on. And, I know others would too. When another little girl in Grace's class was afraid to get up in front of others, Ms. Amanda invested TONS of extra time (outside of the 45 minute session) to talk to her and build her up, empowering the young girl to perform in front of others at the recital. She didn't have to do it. It wouldn't be required in the paid for experience. But, she did. And, in the process the little girl unearthed new self-assurance she didn't realize she had. Today that girl is a beautiful dancer.

Ms. Amanda is irreplaceable in our lives. She has created an experience that supercedes anything we, as parents, could have ever hoped for. Through her work, she has gifted Grace with incredible skills that extend beyond the dance studio and make Grace stronger and confident in life. Not to mention developed an adorable dancer. :)

I am so thankful for her presence in Grace's life and can't wait for Hannah to be a part of it next year.

So, this National Letter of Appreciation Day, I let Ms. Amanda know that her time, effort, and personality is valued. Who did you write to?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Unfading Beauty: The Modesty Conference No Girl Should Miss!


She first found me on twitter, saying that we were in choir together. After looking closely at her picture, I recognized Erin and began laughing thinking of the many funny memories still burned in my brain from our LHS concert choir days.

However, we really only knew each other on the surface in high school. I honestly didn’t know Erin’s heart or passions and she didn’t know mine. As God would have it, social networking has reconnected us and in each other we have discovered deeply shared mutual passions for God, promotion of teen integrity, and the gift of being a wife and mom.

When Erin told me that was part of a girls modesty conference, I immediately wanted to know more. After all, it fits my line of work with Pam. And, once I found out exactly what it entailed, I had to invite her to share because this is an event that I think EVERY teen girl should be a part of.

Just listen to this. Take it away, Erin!

I’m so honored to be posting here at Melissa’s beautiful blog today! And especially on a topic we both feel so passionately about!

I am blessed to be part of an event in Lincoln, Nebraska called Unfading Beauty, a fashion show in its fifth year celebrating the beauty in every woman and giving young ladies practical application on how to dress in the latest styles while still remaining modest.

Several years ago, a fellow youth sponsor at our church had a beautiful vision she wanted to help convey to the girls of our group in a fresh way:

We can enhance our outer beauty with a little makeup and a cute outfit, but our beauty is not defined by our outward appearance. It is defined by the inner workings of our heart. We can often make the mistake of thinking that if we show off the assets God has given us, we will be more attractive, more desirable or more beautiful. There is a difference between dressing nicely and dressing to call attention to and flaunt our body. We believe our intent, with our wardrobe, hair and make-up, should be to show the grace and beauty of womanhood that God designed in us.

And that vision took off in the form of this fashion show.

It has been such an amazing blessing to see both the models and the attendees transformed by a godly view of beauty instead of what the world tells us is beautiful!

And what girl doesn’t love some fun, MODEST fashion ideas?! I am inspired every time!

This year’s show will feature clothing from Be Yourself Boutique, Down East Basics, Francesca’s Collections, Kohls, Lane Bryant, Maurices, Nation’s Outfitters, Old Navy, Plato’s Closet, Shabby Apple, and TJ Maxx. What a great selection!

I think one of the most exciting parts of this year’s show is the addition of a mini-conference the next morning! We are so thrilled to have Hayley DiMarco speaking briefly Friday night, and as our keynote speaker for the Saturday morning conference. The conference will be geared toward teen girls and their moms, with breakout topics including:

*Fashion 411
*Dish on Dating
*Purpose of Pure
*Modesty Starts with Mom
*Resolving Conflict with Your Teen

The conference is a way to take the ideas presented Friday night during the show to another level with practical tips and applications, as well as letting girls and their moms ask questions in a safe environment. We will also be giving away a copy of Melissa and Pam’s book, Nobody Told Me, during the conference!

I could go on and on about how much I love this event and how much God has done through it, but I’ll just let you check out all the details over on the Unfading Beauty website!

And we would just love to see you there this year!

Fashion show and conference tickets are available online now, and you can even donate a ticket through the website to go to a girl who can’t afford to go!

And we’re also giving away a full fashion show and conference ticket ($20 value) here on Melissa’s blog!

Just leave a comment here if you want to be entered!

And for an extra entry, spread the word about Unfading Beauty on Twitter or Facebook and leave another comment here!

Thanks again Melissa for letting me share about Unfading Beauty today!

To keep updated on everything about Unfading Beauty, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!


You can see why I am in love with the idea, right?!
If I wasn’t just a few weeks out from my due date I’d totally
be checking this conference out. It is a great way
to help girls feel trendy while embracing God-given boundaries.
We can affirm beauty while protecting character.
We can cherish who God created us to be
while protecting what He meant for our spouse.
THAT is special.

Please spread the word about this conference to all you know in youth ministry, those who serve as mentors, and mothers of teenage girls. The giveaway will remain open until Monday, March 14 at noon CST, when the lucky winner will be selected via random.org!

!!!BE SURE to leave your email in your comment so I can follow up with you if your name is drawn!!!

Lastly, thank you, Erin, for dedicating your valuable time to this special event that holds eternal value. You are of noble character, worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31) and your joy in helping others achieve that makes it an honor to call you friend!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Say "Thank You" Challenge


Did you know that today kicks off National Write a Letter of Appreciation week? True story (March 1-7).

While I sometimes find these day and monthly observances to be silly/pointless, this one is different. Think about it. When was the last time you got a snail mail letter from someone simply saying they appreciate you? And, doesn't it excite you when you open the mail box and see something beyond bills or anticipated cards for celebrations?

I love it!

Really, the art of a handwritten letters seems to have gotten lost in our highly technological age. It's quicker to post "thank you" on a Facebook wall or in a text than to sit down, plan something (a little deeper) out, get a stamp, and drop it in the mail. But, that effort speaks volumes.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 begins, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up...."

God wants us to do this!

Yet, for some reason, we often hold feelings of true appreciation for others to ourselves - in a lock box for no one to hear or know. But, life affords no guarantees for tomorrow and there are many in our lives who have or are making our days brighter.

Shouldn't they know it?!

So, this week I am inviting you to join me in a say "Thank You" challenge. Whoever it is that is enahancing your life - a friend, a teacher (past or present), a doctor, a babysitter your kids love, a co-worker, etc. - write them a thank you and send it off.

Next week on the 8th I'll be back with a short post about who I sent my letter to. I'd love to hear who you blessed as well. (I'm totally not tech savvy so if you all think it would be fun to do some linkly love with this I need help with free linky tools compatible with blogspot. Otherwise we'll stick to comments).

Doesn't the idea of knowing that you will make someone smile put a grin on your face and make it totally worth the few minutes of your time?!

This is one observance that I am thankful for. Join me!


*update* I believe I found a linky widget tool for a link up on the 8th! It'll be my first try at it so check back and hopefully all will be in working order! :)
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