Tuesday, January 31, 2017

REVIEW: Kwik Stix Thin Stix by The Pencil Grip, Inc.

When I got the email asking me to review Kwik Stix Thin Stix I was beyond excited and thankful! I teach pre-k at our homeschool co-op. My preschoolers always ask to use the Kwik Stix. It is all the creativity and fun of paint, but without the mess. I don't have to worry about these rambunctious 2-4 year olds spilling water or getting paint everywhere. Parents can rest easy too because Kwik Stix are AP certified, meaning they are non toxic and perfectly safe for young children.



Clean up

Clean up is a breeze with the Kwik Stix brand. On our school tables we don't have to scrub. The paint wipes away quickly with one wipe on the whole table. Another amazing thing is that the paint dries in 90 seconds so we don't have to worry about the paint drying by the time our day is done. We can stack the paintings after the kids are done, which saves us space. One of our moms was a little upset when her daughter got some paint on her shirt but she let us know the next week that the paint came out in the wash. 

Uses

We use the Kwik Stix on everything. Literally. Drawing paper, because you don't have to worry about the paper tearing by getting soggy. Heavy paper, cardboard, canvas, and wood! This past Christmas we were painting wooden ornaments. After seeing the trouble one kid was having with the acrylic paint, I handed her a Kwik Stix and she finished her ornament faster and more effortlessly than the rest of the class. She didn't have to wait for one color to dry to use another color, her colors didn't mix and become yucky, and the way these babies glide onto wood has given me idea for some home projects for myself.



Thin Stix

The Thin Stix are a little easier to grasp and the smaller point is perfect for writing or drawing. I always tell my preschoolers to not roll it up too far and make sure you put the lid on. Treat it like a glue stick. If you don't put the lid on it will dry out. If this happens there is no need to worry. Just cut the top off that is dry and you're good to go. You don't use water with these. They are ready to go. I find they are a lot less messy than paint and markers. 

I used these with all ages. From 2 years old to 54. Everyone loves these. My step dad even used them in his home furnishing business on wood. I can't wait to see what The Pencil Grip, Inc. comes out with next.



Where can you purchase Kwik Stix and Thin Stix?

You can find this great product online at Amazon.com. They are available in 6, 12, and 24 packs of assorted, neon, and metallic colors.


Be sure to check out some of their other amazing products. I really, genuinely, love this company and recommend it to all of my friends. They put out great products. If you have a child with fine motor problems you really ought to check out their pencil grips. My son uses them and they help him maintain control over his pencil better.


DISCLAIMER:  I was sent this product free to review. I was not compensated in any other way and was not asked to give a positive opinion. Out of loyalty to my readers my opinion will always be honest and my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FCC regulations.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

The loss of a Pastor larger than life

I fell away from God in my teenage years. When I became pregnant with my son I decided that I wanted to raise him in church. I knew of a small church that my some of my family went to and the Pastor was a wonderful man who had been around my family for a long time. So over 12 years ago I started going to Dante Missionary Baptist Church. I fell in love with the church and the people who made up that church. It's one of those churches where everyone is related somehow or another. It felt like home. I was so excited to have Phillip do Elijah's dedication. 

 
My Pastor didn't ever meet a stranger. He loved you as you were. He didn't care if you wore a fancy suit and tie or busted jeans and a t shirt, as long as you were praising the Lord. He was so accepting and loving. He made you feel at home. That is how Dante feels to me. It feels like home and a big part of that was Phillip. He cared so much for his church and everyone in it. 

He was a working Pastor. He worked full time running a company and doing manual labor and worked full time for the Lord. I honestly don't know when that man slept. When he wasn't working he was at the hospital with someone's loved one. I can't count how many times he has been there for my family praying with us before surgeries or when our loved ones were dying, no matter what time of the night, Phillip was always there. I remember when my Mom had her heart attack and we didn't know if she was going to make it through surgery, Phillip walked in and he prayed with us and comforted us. He has preached many of my loved ones funerals. 



Phillip made me feel safe. I live below Phillip and Jackie. I had been in a domestic violence situation before and when I got out of that I no longer felt safe where I lived. When I moved in here I felt so safe. Not only was my Pastor my neighbor, but he was an avid hunter. So knowing he was near and if he had to he could serve, protect, and bring the perpetrators to the Lord at the same time. 

He was a large man. He had these huge hands. I made the mistake of standing next to him in a prayer circle once. He crushed my hand. By the end of the prayer I was in tears and it wasn't because I was overcome with the spirit. He gave the BEST hugs. I am going to miss those big hugs. The ones where he just pulls you in and beats on you for a minute. Especially when it seemed like he always knew when you really needed a hug.



I am so thankful this past Wednesday I was able to get one of those hugs. He thanked me for bringing him food that past weekend. I wish I had hugged him longer. When I came down out of the choir he grabbed my hand and held it for a minute. I never thought that this could be the last time I saw him. He sat in front of us during the service. I told him he looked good and he just smiled at me. He sat attentively and listened to my friend Shawn preach. I am so thankful that the church was full for that Wednesday service and that the Youth were there. 

He was so proud of our men who had been called to preach. He sat there and listened to Shawn's message with so much pride. Our Pastor was our number one supporter in anything we did. When we went to Haiti he was behind us 100% and he donated so much of his own money for that trip and for a lot of other things we did as a church. He supported our dance team and stood beside us when other people were unsure about it. He was also a huge supported of the Youth. He loved our Youth so much. He was so proud of the way they were stepping out and worshipping. He loved and encouraged everyone. 



Tonight was his funeral. We had his service at our church. Traffic was backed up. The line for the receiving of friends was out the door and the wait was an hour and a half. His family stood up there for four and a half hours. Every one who came loved Phillip. He had touched their lives in some way or another. He helped so many people. So many people loved him. We all loved him. 

I streamed his funeral on fb for his family and friends who couldn't make it. We had 160 people watching the service live. On any given Sunday we have around 13 people who watch our fb live. As of this post 15,000 people have watched his service. It is a testament to what kind of person our Pastor was.




Where do we go from here? I am feeling lost. My heart feels like it is broken in a million pieces. I am grieving for his family. I can't imagine what they are feeling. His grand children were his greatest treasures and he loved them so much and they loved their Papaw. All I can do is offer my prayers and love. I still needed him to be my Pastor. To explain things in a way that only Phillip was good at. Some of his sermons I could swear were just for me. He had a way of speaking directly to your heart. He let the Spirit lead him. We are a church without a Pastor, and it will be a while before we find one and vote on one. No one will be able to replace Phillip. He was family. 

Going forward without him is going to be so hard. He had a great vision for his church. I pray that we are able to honor him and continue on with what he set forth. There are a lot of uncertainties. Please pray for us during this time! The only thing that gives me comfort is know that I am saved and I will see him again in heaven and in the meantime he is up there with all of our loved ones who has passed. God is good all the time.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Chasing the High

A good friend of mine and my son's Youth Pastor once said "There ain't no high like the most high", and that is so true. When I got back from Haiti, I was soaring. I have been chasing that high ever since. I've found it a few times at church, some in the car during my worship time with God, but I can't reach that high I felt back in Haiti during that worship service on base in that little stone chapel where I felt myself leave my body and meet Jesus in the clouds.

I have been struggling ever since. I have been searching for ways to go back to Haiti as a missionary. Which is completely plausible, unless you are a single mother. I have reached out to organizations who instead offer missions trips. I want to stay longer than a week. I desire to work with children. Having a lasting impact and bring my son so he will be impacted.

I've felt the call to serve in Haiti for a very long time. I know that God is not finished with me. He wants me to serve. He will show me the way. There are obviously some things I need to finish before I go back. You can't rush God's process. It's his time not my time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Day Five in Haiti

Today I was the first to wake up in the girls dorm. Two 5mg Melatonin is the way to go for sleep. After breakfast we headed out to Defouneau, a village past Balalie. It would be our longest truck ride yet. We had some sketchy moments. There is one part of the road that dips down on one side and we almost turned over yesterday. With the rains we also had to go through lots of standing water. We passed Balalie and we were excited because we thought we had made it and all of a sudden there's huge puddle ahead of us (we already almost got stuck in the mud once). 

So Jay got out and asked us what we wanted to do. Did we want to back up and go to another village back the way we came or unpack and go by foot. My vote was for backing up and heading to another village because I did not want to walk. I have huge blisters on my legs and other places so it is painful to walk. We all prayed about it and our group decided to get out and walk. During our prayer I asked God that if we were to go forward that he would make the pain go away. I did not have pain during my walk (now is another story) a little girl who met us at the truck grabbed my hand and helped me the whole way. 

When we got there the children were ready for us in the church. The Pastor had already got 100 kids and had them in their Sunday best, clean, and divided boys on one side and girls on the other. They were singing when I finally arrived behind my team. Someone said to me something about what I had said about wanting to turn back and it hurt. This was just another lesson I needed to learn. That even though it hurts and the road is tough if we persist and move forward he will bless us.

I got to play soccer with the kids, something I had on my list of things to do. All the kids were well behaved. The pastor was amazing and the ladies helping were great. This was the most organized village. Everything went smoothly. I got to take their little pictures for their craft. So I got to see lots of smiles and sassy poses. I like seeing them eat. It makes me feel good to hand a heaping plate of food to a little kid who appreciates it. Back in the states we hand food to kids who won't eat what you give them (including my son). They just don't know how good they have it. We take so many things for granted. I hope that this experience stays with me and I never forget the lessons I've learned. God has spoke to me so much. I've been looking for answers, searching for my it and I think I have found it.

Our last ride back was a little sad. I will miss seeing the little kids waving at us and all the little villages. Going through the city. 

When we got back to base dinner was ready and I was hungry.

Beef, Rice with red sauce, Pikle, and French fries.

After we ate we had some down time before church.

I love the way they do church on the YWAM base. It is very intimate and the Lord is close. Kenny gave the message and it was translated into kreyol for the Haitian staff members. Kenny spoke about worship and ways to worship him. I felt very comfortable expressing myself. It was like I was close in that moment to God and I felt his love wrap around me and that he heard my petitions.


After the message they played another song and we were to go to another person and say an encouraging word and the people who spoke to me said things that I had prayed for during worship. I wish church last longer I just needed everything that was given to me in that room, God's Grace has been so abundant during this trip. 

After worship we headed over to the cafeteria, where there's also a ping pong table and fooseball table. Noah and I decided to play spoons, we had some people join in including YWAM Staffers. After Spoons we had an arm wrestling match. It's a great atmosphere here. 









Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Day Four in Haiti

Well today started off on a depressing note. We went down to breakfast which was delicious of course and our guide Jay stood up on a chair to make an announcement. He said that the adults in Gervais, the town we were supposed to go to today, broke into the church and stole the food we were going to serve to the children. When asked why they did this, their answer was that they had already had a vbs and they didn't need another one. A Haitian church had come by and did a vbs there. YWAM is going to use this event as a discipleship tool. They are going to explain to the that God will not bless you if you do things like this, etc.

So our hearts are broken. We are sad that we won't be able to feed the children. Isaac broke my heart when he was telling me how disappointed he was that we wouldn't be able to feed them. That child has such a big heart and he and the other boys have done so well on this trip. I've enjoyed seeing them serve and experience Gods hand on Haiti. I can't wait to hear their testimonies when we get back and how their lives are changed.

So because the food was stolen we will not be going to Gervais today. We are going to a closer village and they are excited we are coming. The sad thing is that we will not be feeding them.

UPDATE

We went to Tinonette today. It was a beautiful village. We were able to go to the Market and buy Mangos to take so the kids would have something to eat. I got to go with Jay to buy the mangos. It was a great experience to be able to go into the street market and see the process of haggling. We were able to buy about 150 mangos for 8$ . The Mangos were delicious. I was able to eat one. There were two guys who were fighting over who would get to carry the mangos over to the truck in a wheelbarrow. That was the only time I got a little scared. 

When we got to the village we were able to use the school for VBS. I enjoyed seeing the school. It was very nice. I can't wait to show you all pictures. Vbs was great. After vbs we split into four groups and went into the village with our translator and prayed at each house. We asked them what rrneeds they had and prayed for them. Everywhere we went we had an entourage of children. I went with my cousins Tracia, Noah, and Scott. All the kids were trying to hold Tracia's hands. They would even fight about who got to hold our hands. 

We saw a lot of sickness today. A lot of sick kids. We had one boy who was holding his eye because his dad beat him. There was one little boy with a hermangioma on his ear really bad. The other kids shunned him and wouldn't go around him. We've seen so much in so short of time. There is evidence of Voodoo all around. They have flags sticking out of their house that corresponds to the kind of spirits they deal with and their specialties. Some of the people we spoke to today aren't saved and need prayer for God to guide them. Other prayer requests were for prosperity for their businesses, a lost visa for chile and her husband is going to work in chile. 

We have seen so much kindness here in Haiti and they are so thankful for what we do. We have also seen greed as we experienced today with the village we were supposed to go to. I am in the mind that, Gervais is the village that really needs us. Unfortunately I don't think we would be able to go there after what they did. 

When we got back. We grabbed a coke (my new addiction) I don't even like Coke but there isn't Mountain Dew in Haiti and I have a caffeine addiction and Haitian Coke tastes 100% better than American coke. It is 100% pure cane sugar. We sat down and talked about the day while waiting for Dinner. I could live forever on Haitian food. Delicious!

My family for the week
Fried Chicken, Salad, Pea salad, and a double portion of rice with white bean sauce and red tomato sauce and lots of Franks Red Hot sauce. 

After dinner we had some time to ourselves before we watched YWAM Hait's dance team 'Hope for the Generations'. We got to watch them warm up and then they wanted to see us dance so we did Now Behold The Lamb. We were a dozen members shy but God was still present. I hope that it blessed them a little. Then we got to watch the REAL dancers. They were so anointed! Not only are they dancing for Jesus but they are doing it in another language. In Rejoice we rely on ASL for our dances. Their dance team uses real dance moves and their facial expressions were out of this world. I especially loved their use of huge wooden blocks that they were tethered to. I know God is using them for his glory. You can learn more about them here: http://www.ywamhaiti.org/ministries/dancecamp/ 

Keep praying for us. Tomorrow is our last village and it is far away. We have come to expect the unexpected and to be flexible. Working as a team is key. If we fall apart then our witness falls apart and we are not able to minister as well if we are mad on the inside about petty stuff. (Talking about myself). It's all been a learning experience and by the time we perfect it it's time to go home, but we will be more prepared for next time. 

Ask God to give us Boldness, The gift of Utterance as I am not an eloquent speaker or prayer, calmness, the ability to work together as one unit in accordance to the will of God, not our own. (Again talking about me). That the children will pay attention and retain the message that we are giving them. That God will heal these people and help them to prosper and feed their families, seek medical attention, resist voodoo. God sent us here for a reason and I don't want to leave and not do what we came here for. Thank you all again for being so faithful. We love you all and can't wait to share this experience with you. Justin is going to be preparing an awesome video and has taken some amazing pics!







Monday, June 20, 2016

Day Three in Haiti

I didn't sleep as well last night. It was definitely more hot last night. Megan got to wake me up again and I was confused (again), she was like "time to wake up Candice" and I said Whaaaat? Lol. We had breakfast and left for Balalie at 7 this morning. I was a little apprehensive of the ride there, and for good reason. The truck we took has a metal bar that you hold onto and you stand the entire time, which today was 1 1/2 hours. Which really wouldn't be too bad but these roads were really bumpy and I mean bumpy. Think of a bumpy dirt road and times that by ten. I had to sit on the water coolers to hold them down "wink wink". 

The ride to Balalie was absolutely beautiful. The pictures I have do not do it justice. There were endless rice fields with hard working men and boys in them. I loved going through the little villages and seeing the kids shout Blun, which means White person in Kreyol. They would also shout "Terry" who is the Director of YWAM Haiti. I loved every little smiling face who waved back at me with smiles so big and it didn't matter that some of them were naked as the day they were born. 

I got excited when I saw the village in the distance. I recognized it from the pictures on the YWAM Haiti website. These beautiful homes that YWAM built. And as soon as we came into the village we were greeted by kids yelling for us. We got everything unloaded into the church that they built themselves with the help of people who donated materials. I was part of the gathering team today. I got to go out into the village and invite the children to vbs. I got to see the houses and the adults. I really enjoyed that. Once we had all the children in the church we did our vbs program which I will describe once we get the kinks worked out tomorrow. 

My favorite moment today is when the villagers lead worship. You could feel the joy in their hearts and the Holy Spirit filled the room. I didn't have an idea what they were saying but I knew it was full of love and praise. These people who we pity and think have nothing, have so much more than us. They take care of what they have. They are so well dressed. Some of the kids came to the VBS in their Sunday best. We got to hold and love on babies. There was one in particular I wanted to take home with me, but Jay (Our Guide) said I would be in trouble because she was the village leaders granddaughter.

The villagers were so appreciative and thankful for what we were doing. We paid for the food the kids and us ate today, the village leaders family prepared it, and they pooled together money to buy us fish to go with it just for the team. That was so special. Let me tell you something. I was a tiny bit scared to eat food prepared by someone else, which is true for me back in the states, but this food was the most delicious thing I've had yet. I hope we have it tomorrow too. It was spicy rice and beans with onions and the fish. I did not eat the fish, but only because I don't eat fish anyways. 

We were all so exhausted and when it was time to go we were ready. We loaded up our trusty truck and got ready for a grueling ride back. The kids ran after the truck and waved at us till we couldn't see them anymore. The way back seemed to be a lot more bumpy than going in. But the truck made it through with no problems and I've pledged to take up money to pave the roads ;)

The first thing the women did when we got back was take showers. We were so dirty and dusty. The cold water (there's no hot water) felt like nirvana after being in the heat. I still don't know how the missionaries live without A/C here. We are so spoiled back home. Then we sat around and chit chatted for a while and got to see the St. Marc kids play soccer at the YWAM field on base. They had so many different games going on at once with the rattiest soccer balls you had ever seen, a couple we just small balls, not even soccer balls. They were playing without a care in the world. 


Dinner tonight was something I had been looking forward to. We have goat for the first time and it was DELICIOUS! Tastes like beef and deer mixed together. We also had rice with red sauce and pikle which looks like cole slaw but it's spicy. I love the food here. It is spicy and delicious.


I am so thankful they have hot sauce! We were sitting around chatting and all of a sudden a thunderstorm came with a vengeance. It felt so good. For the first time since we have been in Haiti the temperature was perfect and cool. We moved into plaz pose and relaxed for a bit while we regrouped for vbs. I had one of my new addictions, Haitian Coca-Cola. It is SO good. I don't know how I am going to leave I love it here so much. 

My melatonin is kicking in and I am exhausted so I'm ending it here. Continue your prayers for us in Haiti!



Sunday, June 19, 2016

Day Two in Haiti

I slept really well last night thanks to some melatonin Megan brought. I woke up earlier than I had anticipated due to some roosters outside. It was nice to have some quiet time and do my devotional before the day started. 


Breakfast was delicious. I made a happy plate. (Of course). I am telling you, this pineapple has healing properties. It is that good. The coffee was sent from Angels. Put some much needed pep in my step. While we were eating Terry Snow the Director of YWAM Haiti joined us and gave some much needed words of wisdom. He asked us if we would like a tour of St. Marc, and of course we said YES! Some of us have read his book Taking the high places. I highly recommend it. Anyways we were able to see some of the places pivotal moments in the book took place. 

I can not describe in words to make you comprehend what we have seen. I read blog after blog in preparation for this trip and nothing you read or pictures you see prepare you for actually being here. It is a whole new world for me. We visited a prison today. The cells are open to the outside and cram packed with inmates, some minor offenses and the only reason the haven't been released is they can't pay the 15$ jail tax.

We visited a Super market today. Before we got off the bus we were bombarded with women and children holding out their hands for money or food. Women with babies were standing next to the bus holding their hands out. One of the YWAM staffers said its the same women with different babies everytime. They just go get a baby and come and beg. Of course we all gave in to the children. The supermarket was one of the nicer ones in Haiti. I was able to get a few souvenirs and some much needed powerade. It is very easy to get dehydrated fast here. You sweat out more liquid than you put in so we are constantly drinking water. 

After the tour we came back and ate lunch. Then we organized our VBS materials and presented our VBS idea to Jay and Kate. They taught us some key kreyol phrases that I have forgotten, sorry Kate! After we got all our VBS stuff organized we had some down time before we helped with children's church. We had intentions of taking a short nap but most of the women sat around and talked which was very nice. 

Children's ministry was amazing. I am so glad we got to experience it before we did our vbs. the children all just want to be loved, held, and paid attention to.



 The YWAM Staff does children's ministries every Wednesday. They usually have anywhere from 100-200. Tonight the numbers were down because of a party on the beach. These kids memorize a whole bible verse in minutes. YWAM did an awesome job with them. After the church we got to take pictures with the kids. 

After children's church we ate another delicious meal. I love the rice here. 


Then we went to Kate and Jay's house for movie night. I am so excited for tomorrow. I have a feeling it's going to be hard but very rewarding if we just remove ourselves and focus on the reason we are here. It is so easy to get frustrated in this heat. I appreciate all the prayers that are coming in for us. We need them. Tomorrow is our very first VBS!!!!