Monday, September 26, 2011

What If Everyone

The vision of What If Everyone is to inspire people to serve humanity.
(I LOVE this powerful statement!)
The mission is to create opportunities for people to serve their community
in practical ways. 
The strategy is two fold:
1. To partner with organizations, non-profits and churches that want to impact their community & organize citywide serve days.
2. To be a resource for individuals who desire to serve their community.

We have participated in WIE for the past two years. 
These experiences have changed our perspectives, molded our hearts,
and have given us the desire to make a difference in our city.
The next What If Everyone serve day is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8th. to sign up for a project today!
~ Brad & Stephanie

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Today, I was inspired by an amazing woman.  I was curled up in the sofa sipping hot tea with my mother-in-law, when I asked her what I thought was a relatively straightforward question. 

“Amiji (Mother in Urdu), how old were you when your mother died?” I asked.
She stared into her mug thinking for a moment, and then said in her broken English, “After my first period, then she died.”  

Things started to make sense then.  Like a few days prior when I was filling out a job application for her and I asked her how old she was.  She shrugged her shoulders slightly while mumbling something about looking at her passport to find out.   Balques was born and raised as a Muslim in Lahore, Pakistan.  She had not been allowed to go to school because her family did not believe it was important for girls to receive an education.   So she begged her uncle to teach her to read and write. 

And here we were, sitting in my den enjoying our hot tea together as I began to have a glimpse of a little girl, born around the same time Pakistan became an independent country from British India. She was eager to learn, one of 5 kids growing up.  One day her mother went to the hospital for surgery, and she never came home.  A few weeks later her grandmother showed up from the village to teach Balques how to cook and clean and take care of the household.   Her father, a mechanic by trade, was a good man who loved his family, but he had to work hard to provide for them.  He never remarried.  When Balques was 18 (she only knew this, she told me, because that is what was written on her marriage license), she entered into an arranged marriage. 

The other day she said she wants to learn to read English better so she can read her grandson a bed time story.  Everything in her life is done for others – she is the epitome of sacrificial living.   The more time we spend together, the more I am burdened with a sadness of the heartache she has endured, losing her mother at a young age, the marriage that was not the romantic fairy tale of which so many girls dream.  Leaving everything she knew to move to a foreign country to be with her kids.  I wanted to delve in to her memories, to taste and smell the town she grew up in, to see her parents as she remembered them, to get a glimpse of the life of a young Pakistani girl who would come to influence my life in ways I never could have imagined.  I wanted to hold that small, lonely girl who had lost her mother, to hug her and give her a word of hope and encouragement. 

But now I just sit there, across from the women she became, strong, resilient, determined; sipping tea, asking a question here or there.  “What did you do while you lived with your husband’s family?”  “I took care of the house.  And I played.  I loved to jump rope,” she laughed, with a mischievous grin, probably imagining herself at 18, married, playing games and wondering when her husband would return from Kuwait.  “But once I was pregnant, my auntie told me I had to stop jumping rope.” 
That one comment made me realize that behind the broken English and the head covering was an amazing woman whose life reminds me to appreciate my own childhood, my loving parents, my education, my husband, kids, beautiful home, fulfilling ministry, freedom, and every little detail of life that I tend to take for granted.    

~Ashley Fazal
Ashley is the driving force behind What If Everyone.  The concept being: What If Everyone did something to help their community?  The next WIE is coming up on Saturday, OCTOBER 8th!  Go online to sign up for a project now.  (You won't be sorry, it's an incredible experience!!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Savor: Delight in, Enjoy

To savor means to delight in, to enjoy.  I’ve been thinking about this word a lot lately.  When I first heard the word I immediately thought of the last scrumptious thing that hit my tongue, which is usually sushi or chocolate.  But can’t we savor more than food?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a fantastic meal and a great glass of wine.  And I savor them both.  But, shouldn’t we savor more aspects of our complex lives?  For example, recently my heart was overcome with joy seeing a service dog in training.  There was something about that innocent pup learning to harness his future purpose that warmed my heart to its core.  I stopped and savored the moment watching the trainer and trainee walk together as one.  This morning I carved out 90 minutes to enjoy the crisp fall air.  Hot cup of tea in hand, a soft blanket and a new book I’ve been trying to start reading for the past 3 weeks; I got cozy.  For those of us who are married I also think it’s important to savor the good bye kiss we give our significant other when we part.  If you don’t do this, you should!  You never know when that kiss might be the last kiss you share.  Even in sadness, there are special moments to savor such as the expression of forgiveness and the end of pain.  Often I savor the memory I have of massaging my grandfather’s feet as he lay in his hospital bed the day before he died.  I was never closer to my grandfather than at that time.  Sarah Young wrote, “Fantasizing about future happiness will never bring fulfillment, because fantasy is unreality.”  What do you need to savor today?

~ Shayne Buchanan

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fast Forward…Rewind…Play!

Ever get the feeling life is whizzing by so fast you can hardly keep your head straight?  I mean I remember my 13th birthday and how I made plans to conquer the world by 25.  I remember being 25 thinking – “Wow 30 is just around the corner!” I remember my 35th birthday which was probably the year I decided to stop looking at age as a number and just enjoy the days I’ve been given and the people put in my path.

That being said – my life right now with a husband, a 4-year old and a 9-month old – could not be more frenetic.  Sometimes I have to force myself to sit and grab a few minutes of “me” time.  This is when I realize that now is the best part of my life and I get a renewed sense of gratitude to God for blessing me with the family I always wanted.It took a lot for me to get here.  Lots of hurdles, tragedies and drama from my past have molded and shaped me into the person I am today. I can now look back and say that I am thankful for each valley I had to struggle through to get to the top of the mountain. I am thankful for all the nurturing relationships in my life and most of all thankful to God for never forsaking me even when I was rebellious.

I love my life.  I love my family and friends. Most of all – I am so grateful for every day that I can share with them. No matter where your life is at right now, know that every situation happens as a learning tool. Once you’ve learned your lesson – then you will move along to the next chapter. Your life is like a book – enjoy the adventure!

~ Debi Adam is owner of SignPost, Inc.

If you need help developing your business with social media networking she is the lady to talk to!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Woman at the Well

She woke up in the late morning with stiff legs. Her body was too young for such aches. She examined the bruises and concluded that they felt worse than they looked.  She had become accustomed to avoiding others as diminutive village life was convenient for memorizing the comings and goings of the good, the holy, and the predictable.  However, children were far less predictable and quick to throw stones when opportunity – her presence – transpired.

A rumbling snore and then a sigh escaped the man laying next to her.  It was neither the worst nor the best arrangement she had ever compromised to live in. Nothing could rouse him after a long night of nursing wine. With the exception of bedding her, he was difficult to rouse in all manners of life which made him easy to live with.  She safely existed in the knowledge that his emotions towards her were superficial as the years had gently aged her.  Leather workers were all about what they could experience with their hands.

Daylight seeped through the shabby muslin curtains in the cool earth hut.  Gossiping voices, children playing, and footsteps moving quickly on packed dirt echoed from the narrow street.  A mere wall stood between her and them as provincial life hustled and bustled beyond. She justified keeping the wooden shutters closed in anticipation of the days rising heat swelling the air.

An unmarried woman who paid the rent with her body was not above female household duties.  Domesticity was a meal ticket. She pulled the brown stiff curtain that separated the bedroom from the kitchen in the modest one room house. Busying herself with preparing food, sweeping, and tidying could be accomplished in the morning; however, washing clothes and the remaining dishes would have to wait until the scorching midday sun pushed her neighbors back into their shady dwellings.

“How did I get here?” She seldom asked herself this. Such simple questions never hold simple answers.  Pain is an impossible emotion to feel when numbness consumes the body. Beyond questions, beyond anger, and far beyond the years that lead to this moment, she was a childless woman with five ex-husbands, a string of lovers, no religion, and little hope of salvation.

Finally, the world outside went quiet.  Wrapping the long scarf around her head, she picked up the clay water jug.  The street was abandoned when she shut the door behind. Her skin felt like it was baking underneath her clothes as beads of sweat dappled her hairline. Forlorn solitude was the only solace that her journey would be uneventful. Women did not like to share water with the unclean.

The hot blistering sun battered the earth making the air wave like water. The mirage made the well appear to be swaying in the distance as if to beckon her forward. With a parched throat and dry mouth, thirst consumed her every thought. A promise of a cool drink made the distance between her and the well seemed much further than it was.

Her eyes began to focus more clearly with each step drawing her closer to the well.  Her heart sank. She expected to be alone. There was a man.

John 4: 1-42

~ Elena Michel is the owner Second Eden Studio. They offer sustainable consultancy and design.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I have been racking my brain for a while to think of what in the whole world inspires me.  What is it, more than anything, that gets me going.  I thought through most every spectrum of my life to think of a common thread that ties the all together.  Finally I got it: potential.

By trade, I’m a wife, mother, crafter, runner, community organizer.  Throughout each of the things I’m involved with, something has to keep me going.  Because I don’t have a boss hanging over my head or a time clock to punch in to, the responsibility of staying inspired daily lies on my shoulders.  

My husband makes fun of me often, as a good husband should.  Just yesterday, he rolled his eyes and got borderline mad when I told him that yes, I did, in fact, want to keep the Trader Joe’s bags.  He let me keep 1, oh gracious soul that he is.  As I was driving around town Saturday, I passed, as we all do, a pile of supposed junk on the side of the road.  I stopped and found something I’d been looking for for a while: a low coffee table (though I was not necessarily looking for one covered in old wall paper and dirt).  At The Free Store, one of the most inspiring places I’ve been, I happened upon an old bulletin board and happily toted it home with me.  Nothing special about it, just thought it might be useful.

Are you following me here?  All these things are trash.  Seriously.  They are.  Things that people discard in some way or another.  What I love about these things, however, is that they hold such great potential.  The Trader Joe’s bag (notice it is singular) will become wrapping paper.  The old coffee table- a train table for my little guy.  The bulletin board- a colorful and exciting to-do list so I can keep myself organized and, well, inspired to keep going.

And as people, aren’t we all that way?  We often feel discarded.  We go through relationships and feel beaten down.  We throw things away and wait on the city to come pick them up.  It’s not until we change our perspective that suddenly even the most mundane situations/items/seasons of life can become beautiful again.  Marriage is challenging but is made beautiful by the potential of what could be.  Parenting is hard, but is made beautiful by the potential of who our children will become.  Running can indeed be boring until we realize how far we’ve come.  Thankfully, we have not been forgotten.  We have a God that senses that same potential in each of us.  My hope is to transfer that hope into something tangible, something hopeful, something to be a reminder of the good people are capable of.

~Liz Eagle