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Thursday, September 14, 2017

A 100 Dresses for India


These last six months as I’ve been working on the coloring book My 100 Daughters, I’ve looked through many photographs of the girls of India.   

Eden is at the bottom there because she's donating her dresses to the girls of India.

The girls I’m drawing are growing up in the leprosy colonies.  The girls do not have leprosy, but their parents or parent does. They have experienced hunger, loneliness and poverty like I will never understand.  They are considered “untouchables”.  Children who grow up in the leprosy colonies are not allowed to attend school, but it’s not like their parents could afford to send them anyway.  Most children take to begging and do anything they can to survive.  Even their shadows are considered cursed. Rising Star Outreach is changing all of this.



As I’ve researched the photographs, traditions, landscape and customs of India, I noticed the older girls wear the traditional India saris, but the younger girls do not.  I asked Amy at Rising Star why this is.  She said as a girl matures into a young woman, she is required to wear the customary shawls to cover her bosom. 



It is a form of modesty. Until then, the little girls can wear the same type of dresses my daughter does.

Many little girls literally wear rags.  They deserve better.  I’m hoping you’ll help the girls of India by donating gently used dresses for girls age 12 and younger. 

Drop them off at my house or mail them to Rising Star Outreach 3305 N University Ave #250, Provo, UT 84604.
I hope to collect/donate 100 dresses for Rising Star Outreach India by October 11, 2017 – The International Day of the Girl.

My 100 Daughters will be released October 11, 2017 and will be available on Amazon.  


I have partnered with Rising Star Outreach and 50% of the proceeds will go to India.  Please consider sponsoring a girl today.  It costs just $1.00 a day.  Call (801) 960-9620 and say you’d like to contribute to the 100 Daughters fund.  





Thursday, September 7, 2017

The 100 Pennies

Last week while on a walk, I had a wonderful talk on my cell phone with Amy, the director of Rising Star.  She is so passionate and driven and the perfect person to help run an international organization helping the poor and sick of India.

India.

The love I feel for this far-away land startles me sometimes. 

I’ve asked myself lately, what is it?  Why do I love these girls of India so much?

It’s because of my daughter Eden.


I didn’t understand how precious, how vulnerable, how beautiful a little daughter could be until I had my very own.  If I love my daughter, I feel compelled to love these girls of India as if they are my own daughters.

These are the feelings I was sharing with Amy while Amy shares with my things she’s seen while traveling throughout India.  The suffering these girls go through, the hunger, the poverty, the lack of resources, all this feeds my motivation to keep going, that if this project of drawing 100 daughters helps them in any way I will be so thankful.


After my conversation with Amy, I looked at the orange sky as the sun set.  The air was warm and muggy and I took several deep breathes. I’ve recently been told by an international adoption agency there is an 11,000 people waiting list to adopt from India.  Because Derek and I have more then two kids, we wouldn’t be considered good candidates to adopt.  Through Facebook, I was referred by a friend to reach out to a wonderful woman who is adopting an eight year old girl from India.  We talked on the phone for about an hour and after hearing about my family, she concluded it would take a miracle for India to let us adopt a little girl.  Although I’m still thinking positive, the reality of adopting is looking slim.  This makes My 100 Daughters that much more meaningful to me.  What can I do today?  Currently, our family sponsors three girls from Rising Star.  Their little pictures are up on our refrigerator and we pray and fast for them.

I considered the 27 more girls I need to draw, the continued research I need to forge on with, the stories I needed to collect and how I hope I’m doing the girls justice in my artwork.  The entire experience has been life changing. That’s when I stopped.

On the ground, scattered before me was a pile of coins.  Not one penny, not two, but literally an entire purse full of coins. 


Normally, I might take notice of this, but I would quickly move on.  I don’t need spare coins on the ground.  The asphalt road was probably over 100 degrees.  We’ve been advised to only walk pets at night because the roads and sidewalks are too hot for their feet.  I would have just continued walking, except just a week earlier I’d seen Kelly.  Yes, the same Kelly who wrote on this blog several years ago.  I know you’all remember Kelly. 

She had told me a story about pennies you find on the ground might have a deeper meaning.

A few weeks ago, I saw Kelly at a wedding reception and loved my time catching up with her.  She is now the owner of the Old Brick House in Mesa and recently, she sold her home in our neighborhood.  Her and her husband had found an incredible farm home out in Queen Creek, but the deal fell through and they were left with uncertainly.  Where would her family live?  This is where the story got interesting.  Kelly lost her mother several years ago and since then, when she finds a penny on the ground she thinks of her mother.  Even more, she will often find a penny and a dime together.  The penny reminds her of her mother and the dime reminds her of her grandmother.  The stories where she finds these coins side by side are incredible. Well, Kelly and Kevin were shopping for homes and nothing felt right, until there was one special home.  Immediately, Kelly’s daughter found a penny.  The home was beautiful, one an acre of land with over 70 citrus trees.  Right away, Kelly felt good about it.  She asked her daughter to look on the ground, to see if she could find a dime and sure enough, both coins were there.  Although not the only factor, the idea her mom and grandma could be leading her brought Kelly much comfort. 


Because of this story, I reacted much differently when I saw the pile of coins on the side of the street.  I had to know, could there be 100?  I started counting dimes, nickels and pennies.  It would be close.  Forty, fifty, sixty, I wasn’t sure if there would be 100.  I’m not superstitious, but this was not a coincidence.  I needed there to be at least 100 in change.  When I finished counting, I had 104.  I couldn’t believe it.  I carried the coins home and immediately showed Eden what I’d found.  I texted Kelly to tell her what had happened.  She texted back and said she’s just finished reading a book called The Penny by Joyce Meyer and it’s about pennies being left as a way for God to let us know He’s there.  

Boy, did those coins leave me feeling like a higher source knew what was going on.  If you have a 100 pennies to spare, would you please consider giving to Rising Star. If we all gave 100 pennies, it would make such a difference for these children.

I saw this amazing photo on Becky Douglas's website today. Becky Douglas founded Rising Star Outreach. Now, I'm drawing these girls for my project MY 100 DAUGHTERS, t's very emotional to look long and hard at photos like these. I would love to meet these girls. They are little heroes. They will change India and I love them so much. If you'd like to sponsor a girl from India, you can contact Rising Star Outreach and tell them you'd like to support the 100 DAUGHTERS project.
"Life in the colonies can be grim for children. Hunger is a way of life.Here five children carefully share a coconut that was inadvertently run over by a cart." Becky Douglas

The coloring book MY 100 DAUGHTERS will be available October 11, 2017 on Amazon. Rising Star Outreach and I will be releasing it on the international day of the girl. The book will not only be illustrations, but true stories from the girls of India, inspiration quotes and information about Rising Star. Please buy a coloring book so we can sponsor 100 girls (and more) from India. Follow me on Instagram or on Facebook for updates The girls of India need to be seen and their stories need to be told.  I hope you will love them as much as I do.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

My 100 Daughters Coloring Book Update

I’ve been drawing My 100 Daughters for six months.  Rising Star provided amazing photos of the girls of India.  

Since then I’ve illustrated, researched and found ways to draw them as I see them –beautiful, priceless, protected and perfect.  


These girls are from leprosy colonies.  

They have been hungry, even starving, they have begged, they have gone without, they have experienced things I will never understand.  

I have never met them, but I feel like I know them. 
Inspired by the shack and girl in this photo, this is what I drew.

I have loved them from afar for years. 

So far, I have now drawn 78 girls.  I’ve looked into their eyes, seen their unkept hair, studied their clothing, searched the India landscape, learned about their customs, and more.  I’ve never been to India, but a project like this draws my heart there.

A few days ago, I had a wonderful conversation with Amy, the director of Rising Star Outreach India.  Rising Star provides a school and much more for the children from leprosy colonies.  Through them, my family now sponsors three girls.

I loved meeting Becky Douglas and Amy Humphrey.

As I’m approaching the end of the project, I feel like something’s missing.  After prayer and fasting, I realized it was their stories.  But how?  How do I collect stories from girls a world away?  Amy said she would help and we discussed the type of questions we could ask:

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
What do you do that makes you happy?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What are your talents?  What do you think you’re really good at?
What’s the most precious thing to you?
What’s the most valuable thing to you?
A memory of your happiest moment.

Amy mentioned to me how families in the leprosy colonies sleep in small shacks and some of the parent’s sleep sitting up because there’s no place to lie down. I want to capture these details in the book My 100 Daughters.  Also, facts about Rising Star Outreach and quotes from the founder Becky Douglas.

I was inspired by this photograph of this cutie and decided to draw many little girls (and animals) holding their own coloring page.

50% of the proceeds of My 100 Daughters will go Rising Star to sponsor girls. It would be amazing if I could travel to India next summer.  When Amy and I first spoke in March 2017 I told her I hoped to raise enough money to sponsor 100 girls.  She said I would sponsor way more then 100 girls.  She planted that seed in my heart and I believe that with all my soul, but I can't do it without you.  I need your support.  When I launch My 100 Daughters in October, I hope you'll share the link with your friends, purchase the coloring book for yourself, your daughters, your friends and more. 

My daughter Eden loves to color.  She was the one who suggested My 100 Daughters should be a coloring book.
Here's Eden in her little shirt from India.  She's become very interested in India.

 It’s been touching to see her look at the illustrations, each time taking the page to her desk, pulling out her paint supplies, sharpening her colored pencils, asking questions about the girls and coloring them with such care.  In the past, I’ve looked for coloring books for her at the book store and on-line.  Many of the coloring books are Disney princesses and commercial products like Shopkins or Sophia the First.  I’ve wanted to have her color art that teaches something, not just promote more stereotypes and commercialism.  My 100 Daughters has introduced her to something she may spend the rest of her life learning about.  She’s bonded with the girls of India and understands they need our help. Children are so interested in what other children in the world go through.  

Here's my little niece Emma coloring the girls.

My students have taken a deep interest in the girls of India. 

They want to know what's going on and how they can help.



The coloring book My 100 Daughters will be released October 11, 2017 – The International Day of the Girl (Amy’s brilliant idea).  It will be available on Amazon.  Please follow me on facebook (lauralofgreen or My Dear Trash) or instagram (lalalofgreen) for updates.  I’m also working on a short video about the project.     

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

No Prayer Is Too Small

A few weeks ago, after a lovely trip to Flagstaff, our family stopped at Slide Rock in Sedona for a day full of water play and adventure.  It was absolutely breathtaking.  The cold mountain water feels like a blessing to me as it washes over my body.  By the end of the day, I’m cold and shivering because, eventually, hours of frolicking in freezing mountain water takes its toll on your body, but it’s a small price to pay for so much fun. 


The sky was blue, the mountains were red and the green pines stood out in contrast against the landscape. To think God put water right in the middle of all this majesty, well it just goes to show how great God is. 

Derek wasn’t interested in swimming, so he took over on baby duty while Chandler and I made our way to the small cliff for some jumping.  
This is now Canyon's reaction every time I take a photo.
CHEESE!



Up the creek a few hundred feet from the slide is a real curved, dipping, slippery slide made by Mother Nature herself. 

After cliff jumping, I scampered my way up to the top of the slide and after waiting for several others in front of me, I pushed off.  Once was not enough.  I went again and again.  Because of my amazing husband, I had no mother duties and I took full advantage of this.  Again and again I went.  Most people sat and scooted into the slide, but I found if I lay on my back the water lifted and took hold of me, swiftly pushing me down into the turns and curves of the slide.  With the water in control, I was a bit out of control – getting dunked unexpectedly and hitting a rock a bit too hard, but it was worth it until several people in front of me stopped in the middle of the slide to take a picture.  I tried to sit up as quickly as I could, but I was coming down fast.  With my hands, I tried to stop myself and that’s when my pinky finger hit against the rock and pulled.  The pain was immediate.  Had I broken it?  I finished up the slide and pulled myself out of the water as the pain in my finger built.  I can be a bit accident prone, so I’m familiar with the process of a sprained finger, toe; a swollen ankle.  After some examination, my finger didn’t appear to be broken, but my day of fun most likely was. 

Unless!!??

Could I ask God to help me, with my hurt pinky finger, that I wouldn’t suffer too much pain on this beautiful day?  I didn’t have any pain reliever, no Tylenol or Motrin, so I needed God’s relief.  I wanted to play.  I wanted to frolic.  I wanted to make memories. 

So, I said a pray, instinctively gave my own finger a kiss (like I would if it was one of my kids) and went back to playing.  The pain in my finger was a bit of a distraction, but after 10 minutes, I noticed the cold water was helping subside the pain.  Almost as cold as ice, the water was working to reduce swelling.  By the time I found my big boys jumping off the high cliffs, the pain was practically gone.






God heard my little selfish prayer.  I was granted a pain-free day and even that night on the drive back home to Phoenix, I marveled that hours early I’d wondered if I’d broken my finger.  This is not the first time God has done this and I’m sure it’s not the last.

Flagstaff Picture Canyon

Kachina Trail Snowbowl

The Weatherford Hotel

We love Flagstaff.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why I Don’t Own A Scale

I don’t own a scale.  I know this is the only reason I remained committed to Medifast for the 90-days I set out.  There were days I wanted to quit and that it seemed too hard, but not having a scale kept me present.  In the past, if I weighed myself and I’d not lost or even gained a few pounds, I’d sabotage myself, feel like the whole process was worthless and eat like tomorrow would never come.  If I’d lost a few pounds, I’d feel like I could eat more and I wanted to celebrate with a little treat.  Either way, in the past owning a scale has prevented me from staying committed to my weight loss goals. 

It’s been an amazing summer.  

In the past, having all the kids home for summer could be very stressful for me, but since I’ve had my year-long experience with intermittent fasting and prayer our family has experienced a lot of healing.  There’s more love, more patience, more gratitude. I think once I changed, once I learned to love myself, once I learned to be more patience with myself and to notice the blessings in my life, once I gained a bit of perspective and realized what was really going on around here, once I faced my food addiction and negative body image issues, once I stopped procrastinating my personal goals, once I took ownership for my strengths and faults – it was like the mood of our home changed.  I’ve heard the mother of the home sets the tone and I can see how true that was in our home.  Once I believed I am a child of God it’s like everything changed.  Sure, our family still have struggles and I still have setbacks, but nothing like before. 

It’s been 5 months since I stopped intermittent fasting.  
October 2016

In March 2017, after 14 months of daily 16-hour fasts, I stopped and within days of “free eating”, I was struggling with body image issues again.  I wanted to eat for my emotional needs.  I was shocked at how fast my old habits came back and slapped me in the face. At first, I didn’t know what to do, but God and my family helped me. I realized if I didn’t have any eating guidelines, I was too out of control.  No longer could I live without food boundaries.  I celebrated the fact I’d finally matured around food.  I didn’t want food to rule me every again, so I set boundaries.  I faithfully tried Keto for six weeks, but didn’t have any success (I realize now it was because I was eating too much).  At the end of April, I prayed about it and decided to get on Medifast.  Oh man, the first two weeks were killer.  That sugar addiction is such a pull, but I knew how unhappy I’d be if I didn’t follow through.  It took six weeks!  SIX WEEKS! I can’t believe I held on that long but around the six week mark on Medifast, I felt a noticeable relief from that nasty sugar addiction.  It was no longer a habit to make chocolate cookies every day after my kids got home from school.  I still wanted sugary cereal, but Medifast has a wonderful high-protein cereal that took the edge off.  I was able to get off dairy and found new interests in my home to keep me occupied.  I was drawing girls for My Hundred Daughters project and the task of researching the girls of India was a great distraction from chocolate, cookies and sweets.

I now don’t care how much I weigh.  
August 2017
For someone who has always felt fat, this is a huge deal.  Losing weight to weigh a certain number has never worked for me.  It’s failed me time and time again.  Losing weight to look a certain way or wear a certain size has never worked for me. I’ve tried since I was 10 years old to diet so I fit in better with society, so I could have more friends, so I wouldn’t feel so bad about myself but that approach has never worked for me. It has only left me unfulfilled and insecure.  My year of fasting helped me learn to rely more on God, to think of the poor and hungry and to get out of my victim mentality.  90 days on Medifast taught me about self-control, portion size and to overcome my sugar addiction. I’m so thankful a loving God has directed me to my personal path to health and positive body image. 

I used to think a day or two of eating healthy should result in a drastic change in my weight, but 17 months later, I realize this is a life-long commitment.  Change takes more then even a couple of weeks of healthy eating. I never understood this level of commitment before, but I’ve found a wonderful substitution for sugar called Stevia.  Without it, I would not have lasted.  When I want something sweet, there is a Stevia treat waiting for me.

There are many dieting lies out there.  Lots of companies are trying to take advantage of your money.  They and many other financial and media outlets want you to look a certain way because they’ve deemed beauty one way or the other.  This makes them very rich and powerful. I had to let everything go.  I couldn’t worry about clothing size and weight.  I couldn’t compare myself anymore to other women. For me finding emotional/physical/spiritual health and eating the right foods had to start with God.  I could only love myself if I understood more clearly about how God sees the world, even how He sees me.  How does God see beauty?  How does God see women?  He made me for a purpose and it’s not to wallow in self-pity, regret and false expectations.   I remember as a girl and teenager praying God would just help me be thin.  I’m thankful I’ve had to work through Him to find my way.  A magic pill wouldn’t have done it.  It has helped me overcome so many other challenges.  For me, being overweight was like a spider web with many different paths, pulls and patterns of destruction. The struggle is real, but so are the rewards.  I still have a long journey ahead of me, but little by little, I’m learning to love myself enough to give myself the gift of long-term health, self-love and food boundaries.  It should come as no surprise that going without sugar, dairy and white flour results in weight loss.  When my clothes feel loser, I'm shocked and then have to laugh at myself. Of course after hard work and commitment there is success. It's small and takes time, but little by little the body does change.

Those of you who are struggling with your weight and body image, I know how you feel. I know God will help you.  Do not think how I used to and feel like you are too far gone.  We live in a society were 60-70% of us are overweight.  The food industry sucks.  They are lying to us everyday.  They are putting sugar, genetically modified foods and chemicals in the things we eat.  They want us and our children eating all the time.  Shame on them.  We deserve better.  Food was never meant to be what it has become. It’s really sick.  We have to rise up, be stronger and become more informed.  Everyday is a new commitment.  It’s alright to be happy where you’re at.  For me it was about both accepting where I was at, accepting that my weight does not change my self worth – to then – deciding to love myself enough to set boundaries.  There are two sides to this equation.  Loving who you are now and making goals to take better care of myself. I'm not an expert in weight loss, but I am passionate about helping others learn to love themselves, appreciate our bodies and overcome negative body image.


If you’re interested more in my experience with intermittent fasting and prayer, how I overcame food addiction, negative body image and finally lost weight, you can read my memoir Starving Girl available on Amazon and Kindle.
Book Trailer for Starving Girl.

Enjoy my Podcast on Youtube.