Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a house tour (the before photos)

There's not a whole lot to say. I'll let the photos do all the talking. This place is a mess. Every single room needs to be gutted and redone. Although we won't be doing that entirely. But we do have some big giant plans for this place. I will tell you that as of now we have painted all the rooms and put in new carpet. We're also in the process of putting all new (to me) appliances in the kitchen. And on top of semi-renovating, we're moving everything into the house too. I'm exhausted. Ben is more than exhausted. Even the kids are down-right worn out. And there is still so much left to do.

I'm hoping to keep the blog updated as we make progress. I'm not the best at remembering to snap photos as we're going (my mom took all of these), but I will make every effort to do so!

IMG_5458 This is looking at the front door if you're standing in the middle of the living room. There's a coat closet directly across from the front door, obviously not pictured. IMG_5457 From the last picture, if you turn to the right, this is the wall you would see. And actually, this is after it had been painted. Before, it was a nasty off-white, yellow-y stained color. So gross. To the left of this photo and directly behind it are just big giant walls. IMG_5447IMG_5448
Obviously the kitchen. When we looked at the house, that window was busted out and had been boarded up. Before we bought the house it was a rental and apparently the tenant had broken the window and not told the landlord. The day we saw it was the day she found out it was like that. Lovely right? We had it repaired a couple days before we got the house since it was a short sale and she had exactly $0 to pay for anything. I never knew how expensive windows are to replace. Oh, and that awesome make-shift "curtain." Awesome, right?
From the kitchen, this is heading down the hallway to the bedrooms. On the left is the guest bathroom. On the right are the tow smaller bedrooms. Directly ahead is the master. Can we just talk about these floors for a minute? They are disgusting. And cheap. And horribly installed (laminate). And they are throughout the entire house. What are people thinking? Not to mention, they laid them left to right instead of long ways. Does that make sense? So they had to make a million cuts to put them in instead of just laying them straight down the hall. Just not very smart to me.

We will be replacing it with something. We put carpet in the living room and the 3 bedrooms. The rest of the house will be either a better laminate (that sort of hurts to say because I just hate it so much, but we can't afford hard wood), bamboo or maybe tile.
IMG_5451 The boys' bedroom. You can't see it in the photos, but the fan installation by the previous occupants is amazing. And I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible. Instead of wiring through the ceiling, they hung the fans and ran a chord down the wall to plug them in. Every bedroom is like that. I'm pretty sure that's totally against code. Definitely on the list to remedy. That and replace the ceiling fans. IMG_5452
My beautiful laundry area. It sits off of the hallways. When we first looked at the house we noticed the doors had been taken off. Later on we discovered them in the garage. And they are in pretty good condition. Why would you take the doors off? Who wants to looks at a washer and dryer every time they walk down the hallway? IMG_5454 The master bathroom. We have basically blocked this room off. I joked about putting up crime scene tape. Seriously. It's a scary place. That gray toilet? The shower pan is Ga.Ross. I mean, yuck. Isn't that the weirdest shower you've ever seen? There are 2 doors that slide and meet in the corner. Um, what? And the hair floating around from whoever lived here before. I think I might puke just typing this. Anyway. I have big plans for that bathroom. But it's definitely going to have to be gutted. And it's going to have to be it's own project. Eventually.

Okay, I don't have any photos of the master bedroom. It's basically a small square room. Big enough for our queen bed, side tables and maybe a small piece of furniture. I'm planning to put a dresser in the closet because it's basically huge. But as for the bedroom, nothing special. Except for the deadbolt on the door. And the giant patched up hole next to the deadbolt. It's um, weird? Scary? I don't know what. But that door is getting replaced like, yesterday. Lowe's has doors on sale for $22 this week so you can guess what's on our list for this weekend.
IMG_5456 This is looking from the master back toward the rest of the house. On the right is the kitchen, on the left is the living room. Dream: bust out a portion of the wall separating the two rooms so I can see what's going on when I'm in the kitchen cooking. Mostly so I can keep an eye on my tiny tykes.

 Now for the backyard tour. AKA, my favorite part! IMG_5464
So the "back" door is actually on the side of the house, off of the kitchen. This is if you step outside and look down the side of the house. IMG_5462
If you turn around, this is what you see. I'm thinking chicken coup in that corner behind the palm tree (which is on our list to be removed. I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of palm trees, or scorpions). IMG_5460 Turn to the left and this is the back patio. I love that there's an overhang. As ganky as it is, it works. Yay! Oh, and that giant palm, in the middle of the yard (what? weirdest idea ever), is also going. And do you see that giant pile of fire wood to the right of the shed? Score. We have a wood burning fire place! And yes, that is a shopping cart.IMG_5463 Turn to the left a little more and this is what you see. The first window is the kitchen. The second one is the living room. Dream: replace the living room window with french doors that open onto the patio and extend the living space to the outside. And as in every other photos, trash and more trash everywhere. They left so.much.junk. So much.

That's basically it. The garage is one car. It's on the side of the house along the living room. There isn't access from the house. Just a door in the backyard. I feel like it was an add-on but then again, this house is kinda old so it may have just been built weird. To the side of the garage is the side yard. It's big enough for RV parking. We may pave it and add a gate so my parents can park their pop-up trailer there.

this camera tells my story. I'm still here!

2013-08-06 07.53.02-1

Some of you are probably wondering where in the heck I've been. I didn't go anywhere! Seriously. A few months back I decided to finally take a chance and do something I'd been considering for a long time. I changed the name and URL of my blog.

But, in the process I got disconnected from you, my followers! I assumed that because Blogger showed you all had made the trek with me over to this jessi bridges, that you were, in fact, still following. But that was not the case! Last week I realized this. Uh, hello? Slow much? And quickly learned how to correct it.

So, welcome back! I've missed you all so much!

In case you have missed the past few months around here, I'd like to share a few posts from the summer and a series that I'm currently writing.

my #31days series: 
how to live within your means

a few posts to check out:
i want to own my city
my salvation story
we bought a house

Oh! And I went to Influence Conference:
my recap
recap in photos

Also, if you don't already, you can follow me via blog lovin' or by email too!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

influence recap, in photos

I told you I had photos! See my first Influence Conference recap here. 

2013-09-26 06.56.3320130926_1732282013-09-26 22.00.112013-09-27 15.20.342013-09-27 09.05.442013-09-27 10.52.47-1photo (1)IMG_16022013-09-28 13.05.042013-09-28 10.44.40photo2013-09-28 20.33.582013-09-29 07.23.092013-09-29 08.13.56

leaving Las Vegas 
waiting for the bus at the airport (Kerrie, Jessi, me, Jess, Teressa)
name tag, which makes it official
downtown Indy
the one selfie I took
me and Erin
dinner with some wonderful ladies (Whitney, Nadine, Brittany, Ashlee, Kerrie)
me and Ashley
lunch on Saturday
me and Jess
me and Ruthie
heading home
flying over Denver

Sunday, October 6, 2013

recipe: veggie stuffed baked potato with alfredo

I feel like I'm cheating today. I'm still posting my #31days series how to live within your means. But today, instead of posting something thoughtful and wordy, I wanted to post a recipe. It's a simple, and fairly cheap one. It's also vegetarian! Definitely something that you can make on a budget.



for the potato:
2 russet potatoes, washed
1/2 bunch of asparagus
1 head broccoli
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
salt and pepper

for the alfredo sauce:
1/2 cup butter
8 oz cream cheese, (1 block) cut into 1 inch cubes
1cup half and half
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. After you've washed your potatoes, poke holes all over with a fork. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place directly on rack in oven. Bake 1 hour.

In the mean time, roughly chop all vegetables to desired size. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook in a steam basket over 1 inch of simmering water in a sauce pan until they are tender. Set aside.

For the sauce, melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once it has melted, add cream cheese. Allow cream cheese to melt. Stir butter and cream cheese until they are mixed together. Add half and half. Whisk. Once they are mixed well, take off heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Stir until it has melted. Sprinkle pepper over top. Place lid on and allow to sit for a few minutes. It will thicken.

Once potatoes are cooked, cut from end to end and push open. Scoop in vegetables. Cover with alfredo sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Like I said, this is a vegetarian recipe, but you can certainly add chicken! I would pan sear chicken breasts, slice them and serve with the vegetables, under the sauce. 


Friday, October 4, 2013

how to live within your means: college without a single loan

I'm not sure if you know this about me, but I have a college degree.

Say whaaa?? "You stay home with your kids and haven't worked in years! I never knew! Why don't you use it?"

I know that's what you're thinking, so I just said it for you. There, it's out there. I went to college. I spent 5 years working toward a bachelor degree. It's in Psychology. Okay, that probably answers the "why don't you use it?" question. Because we all know that a BA is useless without at least a Master's Degree. Amiright?

But no, that actually isn't the reason I don't use it. I honestly never planned to use it. But I made a promise to my father before I got married that I would finish school. And I like to follow through on commitments, even if it's hard to do.

And now that I'm totally off topic, let's refocus. The purpose of this post is to share ways to go to school without getting a loan.

I did not take out a single college loan.

I don't say that to brag. In fact, I usually don't ever bring it up. But I do say it now just to show that I have some experience in this area.

My first year of college was paid for by my parents. They did take out a loan, but we won't talk too much about that, only to say: parents, don't ever ever ever do that for your kids! I know, I probably sound harsh and mean but it's true! No one should be borrowing money for education whether it be your's or your childrens'.

At the very end of my second semester, I got married. Like, 2 weeks before the end of my semester. When Ben sought my father's permission to ask for my hand in marriage, my dad made it very clear that not only would he now be financially responsible for me finishing school, but that I was expected to finish school. Ben agreed. And from that point on, we were completely on our own when it came to tuition.

How did we pay for my education? The simple answer: I only went to school when we had the money. If we didn't have the means for me to go, I didn't. If we did, then I went. And over the course of 5 years, I finished my degree.

Here are my tips to getting an education without loans. All of them are from personal experience.

take AP classes in high school or clep out of classes when possible
I took 3 AP classes (and I barely passed 2 of the tests). The tests costed $79 each. That is a giant savings when considering how much tuition would have been for each one of those classes. Also, although I have never cleped out of a class myself, it is definitely an option. Again, these tests are $80. Huge savings!

when you can, go to community college
I attended my first year at a university. It was nice, I guess. But it wasn't necessary. If there is a community college near you, go there! Get all of your pre-req's out of the way and save a ton of money doing it. I think my first semester at community college for 15 credits was under $500. I know that will vary depending on state, county and city, but compared to a university, it will be so much cheaper.

go where you will get in-state tuition
If you can, don't go to school in a state where you don't have residency. It's so ridiculously expensive to do this. If for some reason you have to go to school somewhere that you don't qualify for in-state tuition (you got married and moved, your family moved, etc), then consider living in that state and working full-time and saving for school to earn your residency. Then start school. Will this take longer? Yes. Will it save you a ton of money? Yes.

fill out your FAFSA every year
While there have been years that we didn't get any aid, there have definitely been years that we did. And while I'm not a huge fan of federal aid, there are times when we do need it. But, watch out on this one. Don't accept loans offered to you, whether they are subsidized or subsidized. Both are loans. Both are you borrowing money from someone. And both require you to pay back every penny that you borrow plus interest. Grants, however, are aid that are not required to be paid, nor do they incur interest.

apply for scholarships all the time
This one was difficult for me. I don't qualify for most scholarships. Without sounding too hard on myself, there isn't much that is "special" about me. I don't play a sport, my grades are average, and I don't have any special talents. Let's be honest, there's not a whole lot out there in the way of scholarships for the average Joe. But that doesn't mean there aren't scholarships available to us. You just have to search, talk to people, meet with someone in the financial aid/scholarship department at your school, think about what really does separate you from others and search for scholarships based on that. And if you qualify for any scholarships, apply.

I received a scholarship just one semester. It was a scholarship for military enlisted wives, given by officer wives. It was a simple application process. I filled out the application, compiled a resume and wrote an essay. And guess what, I got it! And what an incredible blessing it was for that one semester. All I can say is, you never ever know. So just give it a try.

work during the semester and pay with the cash you earn
I did this during a summer semester. I hadn't worked in a couple years, but I needed to get 3 classes out of the way and summer was the perfect time. I got a job on campus as a student worker and paid for my classes using the money I earned. Obviously if you're already working, this one won't apply, but it's "pay for school as you go" in it's simplest form.

join the military
I know, you're like "Woah! She just said that!" This one is obviously a big giant commitment, but it's not unrealistic for some people. There are training programs within some branches and there are a bunch of career fields within the military that will pay you while you go to school and are on active duty. You can also consider the option of the ROTC program. This means you go to school during the year and the military pays. During the summer you go for training. Then, depending on the program you are going through, you have to give so many years on the backside to basically pay them back for paying your tuition. And then there is the GI Bill. If you serve active duty for your contract, you earn GI benefits. You'll go to school while the VA pays your tuition and also pays you a book allowance and housing allowance. This is how my husband, who served 8 years in the Marine Corps is currently making his way through school.

pray for direction and provision
While all the other tips I've shared can be considered "practical advice," I don't think there is one single tip more important than this one. Consider that maybe the Lord doesn't have "college education" on the list of His provisions for you. That probably sounds crazy, but it could be true. Really, pray about that.

If He is clearly calling you to get a college education, then seriously pray about it. Pray about the school He would have you attend. Pray about the degree program He wants you in. Pray that He would provide for you every single step of the way. Pray about what ministries or student groups you should be involved in on campus. And be sensitive to His guiding. If you are at school at His calling, He has a purpose for you while you are there and once you finish your degree. He also has a way for you to pay for school without going into debt. Because, God would never call you into debt. That would be contrary to scripture.

I feel like I need some deep, meaningful conclusion here. But I don't have one. In the end, I really just hope that this post is helpful and causes serious consideration about when it's "okay" to be in debt, and shows that debt is not as necessary as we are made to believe. Because it's not. Can I also just say, when something is of the Lord, when it's truly a calling from Him, he will provide. It is not difficult for Him to do so. No debt required. Trust Him.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

what does it mean to live within your means anyway?

The question what does it mean to live within your means? may be a no-brainer, but to be completely honest, as I look around at American culture and the way that many, many are living, I would argue that people don't understand what it means to live within their means. Either that or they simply refuse not to.

means  (mi╦Énz) - noun
resources or income

Simply put, to live within your means is to live within the income that you bring in and the that resources you have. 

I feel like, and of course correct me if I'm wrong, that my generation in particular just doesn't understand this concept. Maybe it's because their parents gave them so much. I'm not saying we were all spoiled. I know we weren't. Of course some were, but I know I wasn't. But I was given a lot.

I'm going to speak from the perspective of middle class families because that's where I'm coming from, what I experienced, what I've seen. And that's a lot of America.

Our parents made sure we were not in want. I always had new clothes on my back for school. We had a variety of food in our cabinets and refrigerator at all times. We had a pool. We were sent to summer camp every single summer. When the time came for me to get my license, I was allowed to drive my parents' third car, although I was never given a car of my own. For Christmas we were always given nice gifts, although never anything too extravagant. But I'd say, all in all, we were taken care of. We had a lot.

And I know when I say that, a lot of you are shaking your heads in agreement.

And none of that is bad. It's not horrible that my parents gave to us. It's not horrible even for the parents who did give their child a car. But I think, over time, without ever intending for it to, it began to instill in my generation's minds an entitlement mentality. Our parents gave us as much as they could because their parents weren't able to give as much to them. It's not uncommon to hear a parent say that they hope to be able to provide for their children a better life than they had as kids. And that sounds good. The intentions are good. But I'm not so sure the outcome is a good one.

And here's why: Sally grows up in a home where she has a TV in her room with all the channels. She gets a cell phone at the age of 10. Every month she gets to go shopping for new clothes. For her 16th birthday she gets her own car. It's not brand new, but it's hers and she didn't have to work for it. When she graduates from high school she gets to go to college at the school of her choice, even though it will cost $40,000/year and she doesn't have to pay a dime. Her parents gave her all these things because as kids they couldn't have them.

The result? Sally only understands a world where she has a nice TV, a current phone, a car all to herself, and a good education. But what she most likely doesn't understand is that it took lots and lots and lots and lots of work on the part of her parents in order for her to have those things.

But, there's no such thing as free lunch.

Now that Sally is an adult, in her 20's and married, she expects to have all the things her parents gave to her, all the things her parents had when she was growing up and she expects to live the lifestyle they lived. All she expects is to maintain the lifestyle that she has always lived. Keep in mind, her parents were not in their 20's when Sally was in her teens and observing all of these things. They had to work hard for several years, if not decades to get to a place where they could provide what they did for their beloved daughter.

But since that is all Sally ever knew, that is what Sally expects. And so, enter the credit cards, the student loans, and the personal loans. In order to drive the nice car, she has to lease it. It order to have the nice bedroom set, she has to finance it. In order to wear the beautiful diamond wedding ring, she has to finance it. In order to get her Master's degree she has to use student loans. In order to take the Hawaiian vacation, she has to finance it. And before she knows it, Sally is up to her ears in debt.

What Sally is refusing to do is live within her means. She refuses to accept that it will take time, hard work and saving in order to reach the point where she can live the same lifestyle that her parents were living and that they provided to her. 

Did her parents ruin her? No. But is there a hard lesson for her to learn here? Yes.

And I can say that because I had to learn that lesson. And to be totally honest, God is still guiding me through that lesson on a daily basis: money doesn't grow on trees. Hard work and dedication are the only things that will afford you more means with which to live (unless, of course, you hit the jackpot or suddenly learn of a rich relative who left you an obscene inheritance. neither of those is likely).

In the midst of that hard lesson the Lord is guiding us through, while we are waiting for the days to come, when our income is more than it is today (and I say that lightly because I know very well that we are not guaranteed that. never ever ever ever. so please don't depend on that!), we are learning to live within our means, within our current income and our current resources.

That means no credit cards, no personal loans, no car payments, and may I even go so far as to say no school loans? If you have to borrow money, then you are living outside of your means. It's that simple.

Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
And as I'm writing this an idea popped into my head for a post on how to go to college without a single loan. So check back for that.

So, as we continue on into this 31 days of how to live within your means, please know that this is going to be a mix of lessons I've learned, tips I want to share, spiritual truths that have been pressed onto my heart, q&a's on the topic at hand, budgeting how-to's and just bare-it-all-about-what-we're-going-through posts. I may stumble through this challenge and some posts may just be a hodge podge of thoughts, but I'm looking forward to what comes out of this exercise. 

On that note, if you ever have questions about how we do things or anything at all related to this topic, please feel free to ask. I'm keeping a list and will be answering all questions in a post later this month.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

how to live within your means: free haircuts


As I mentioned yesterday, living within your means doesn't necessarily mean being frugal and cheap. Not everyone is in a place where they need to pinch pennies. But it does mean being resourceful and being a good steward of the money and the things that the Lord has blessed you and your family with.

For us, it does mean being frugal, and for that reason a lot of what I write about over the next 31 days will be how we are thrifty and industrious, in hopes that the things we do can help someone in a similar situation. But, I promise, frugality won't be the only topic during this series. Ahh, I'm so excited about all the topics I get to share with you all this month.

Today, how we save money on haircuts.

When Ben was in the Marine Corps, he was required to get a fresh haircut every single weekend. In the town in which we lived, you could get a haircut from a decent barber for $10+ tip. I know that's pretty cheap. Since moving we've had a hard time finding a haircut for under $15, but closer to $20. That's ridiculous to me. Several years ago, in an effort to save $50 a month on haircuts, we spent less than that on a pair of hair clippers. And I spent a few hours watching youtube videos on how to cut a military fade. And like that, I was ready to cut Ben's hair.

Okay, not ready.

Thankfully my husband is a patient man. Each week, I attempted to cut his hair. The fade, the fade haunted me. People, it's hard! Sometimes he'd go to work and the guys would laugh at him. Sometimes he blamed it on the barber with the eye patch (seriously, that guy existed). But they always knew it was me. Over the course of time, I got better. And eventually I knew what I was doing.

I cut his hair for 4 years (minus deployments. although then he would take his clippers and the guys would cut each others' hair). If we calculate haircut costs at $50/month, that means we saved a total of $2400 on haircuts alone during that time.

To this day, I still cut his hair. Well, he mostly cuts it himself because we said goodbye to the fade a long time ago. He now just buzzes it the same length all over. I trim up the back and around his ears.

We also cut Isaac's hair at home too. He loves getting his hair cut when daddy does. He wants to be just like his daddy. I've never taken him to a barber for a haircut. I don't even want to know what that would cost and I would never pay someone to cut my boys' hair. Buzz cuts are perfect for little boys and so we'll stick to that.

And so, for now, haircuts around here are free. If you're wondering what I do about haircuts, I'm not sure I want to publicly admit that. I haven't had a haircut since last October. But I did buy a groupon recently for one. So hopefully I'll get to it soon. That's what I always do for my own hair: groupon, living social or amazon local. I'm not super picky about my hair and I rarely get it colored.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

my influence conference recap

I have a confession to make. Are you ready?

I'm a horrible blogger.

I mean, I spent 3 days with other bloggers and I took practically no pictures. I feel like I broke some blogger code or something. Am I going to be kicked out of the club now?

No, but seriously. I have this problem where I get so involved in the moment that I completely forget to pull my phone out and snap some photos. Aside from the fact that I always feel awkward asking someone else to take my pictures. Yes, even a fellow blogger.

But seriously, the pictures are scarce, but my heart is full.

I headed to Indy with no anxiety about the conference. I know a lot of women were worried about meeting new people and about meeting online friends. About not fitting in or being included in a group. About whether or not their clothes or hair would be good enough.

I get that. I'm a woman too. We struggle with those things.

But I just knew going in that I was there to get from God whatever He had for me. He had obviously purposed for me to be there, why should I worry about what would happen?

And I'm so glad I didn't worry. I simply was.

So, I didn't realize how many blog friends I have that I'd be meeting in real life. It was pretty awesome that just about every time I turned around I found someone I had already been friends with online and had been dying to meet in person. And the time I was able to spend in conversation and prayer with you ladies was wonderful.

But it was really great to make new friends. I almost feel like I should bust out in song from Girl Scouts "make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold." Ok I'm done. I made it my goal each night to have dinner with a group of ladies I did not know. Each time there were at least 1 or 2 gals I had known previously, but for the most part I got to spend an entire meal chatting with and learning about new people. Hearing the hearts of women I had never met but who had the same purpose and passion as me: Jesus. Like I've said before a thousand times, I love the church. I love that we all live in different places and live different lives, and yet we can come together over a meal and chat as if we've always known one another. There's nothing weird or awkward about

If I had to nail down my favorite part of the conference, it most definitely was fellowship. For all the aforementioned reasons.

But I also want to share some really great things that happened during one particular workshop. If you haven't heard of Lara Casey, stop reading and go look her up. She's amazing. Amazing. Her workshop was exactly the kick in the butt I was needing. She started out by telling us to stop following our dreams. I know, you're like what? That's not very encouraging! But it gets better. She said, stop following your dreams because guess what, scripture doesn't say to follow your dreams. Scripture says, "Follow Me."

And just like that, all the pressure was lifted from my shoulders. For a while now my go-to verse has been Psalm 127:1. It says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." In other words, if whatever you are doing wasn't initiated by the Lord, you're doing it for yourself alone. Her words just confirmed it even more to me. And that encouraged me to simply follow the Lord. Follow His call. Rely on Him alone for everything I need to accomplish that which He told me to accomplish. 

And then, we were told to exchange names and email addresses with someone nearby who can be our accountability person as we work toward our goals. I turned to the gal next to me and we said "hi" and exchanged information. Nothing major. Oh and complimented each others' shoes.

At the end of the workshop we started chatting. I don't even remember how the conversation began. After exchanging business cards she noticed I had "defender of the unborn" written on mine and asked me about it. Turns out she is also involved in pro-life ministry in her home town. Coincidence?  No. God brought us both to that place, put us both in that room, sat us next to each other and engaged us in conversation for a purpose. The next day we had the opportunity to pray together as we read the devotion and prayer for that day from 40 Days for Life

I was blown away that God would send that confirmation to me. I mean, He had already used another blogger to answer my prayer as to whether or not I should take the position at Nevadans for Life. As I sat in Lara Casey's workshop about strategy, thinking about the big goals I've set forth for the pro-life organization I am blessed to lead, He places a fellow blogger next to me, who has the same passion for the unborn as I do. Wow. Just wow.

Bottom line, what did I learn from and about Influence?

Speak up and meet new people
Don't worry about what kind of food you're eating, go to dinner for the fellowship
Ride the bus. it's only $1.75!
Take business cards and actually hand them out
Tell someone your story
Pray for God to reveal Himself to you
The Westin has bikes available for free to ride around downtown. Say whaaaa?
If you have to skip a workshop in order to take a shower, that is a-okay

But seriously, I do have photos to share, just not right now. Ben is playing video games online and if I try to upload photos right now he will be very much not happy with me. Later. I promise.