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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My 100 Daughters Coloring Book is Finished

Here she is.  Isn't it gorgeous!


For the last six months, I’ve drawn 100 girls of India. 


Staring into the eyes of the girls in the beautiful photographs I’ve seen from Rising Star Outreach India, researching the cultures, customs and traditions of India, trying to understand the lives, joys and needs of these girls – it’s been a life-changing experience.  

I’m so thankful for people like Becky Douglas and Amy Humphrey, and others from Rising Star Outreach, who are working effortlessly to make a difference in the leprosy colonies.  I know their efforts are making a world of difference.

So, what is it I hope to accomplish by publishing a coloring book of girls from India? 


1)  I know my daughter Eden loves to color.  She gets lost in the art of coloring.  I remember as a little girl I would color for hours. I want the girls of India to have images of them so they can dream in their artwork.  I want them to know they are seen, loved and prayed for. I want them to feel strong and powerful in their culture.
     
      2) Not only do Eden and I want to raise enough money to sponsor 100 daughters of India, but we want to raise awareness of who these girls are, how they live and help others understand what they need. The coloring book has a three-page introduction of interesting facts about Rising Star, India and the culture of these girls.  I also share how Eden and I got involved in helping them and the poem we wrote called My 100 Daughters.


I hope you’ll purchase a coloring book for the little girls in your life. I hope you’ll purchase a coloring book for the adults in your life.  Coloring is such a wonderful form or therapy, no matter what your age. I was on a hike this weekend in Colorado and I met a woman on the trail.  We started talking about our lives and I told her I just published a coloring book.  She told me, “Adult coloring books are the #1 selling books on Amazon.”  I really feel in my heart with Rising Star’s help and through the sales of this coloring book, we can help sponsor 100 girls and more. 

Costs to sponsor: It costs a dollar a day to sponsor a child through Rising Star.  These funds pay for a child’s schooling, food, dental, medical, clothing and shelter.  It’s amazing how far these donations can stretch.  You can donate in many ways including purchasing the coloring book or sponsoring a child.  Either way, please know you are making a difference.

I received a letter a few months ago from one of the little girls we sponsor.  She said her favorite food is rice, her favorite color is red and her favorite game is skip. Oh, my heart just burst at her innocence.  I’m so thankful to know she’s being taken care of.

I’ve decided to continue drawing the girls of India in another My 100 Daughters coloring book.  This next series will be Mermaid, Princesses and Fairies.  

I will also be drawing My 100 Daughters travel throughout India.  Thank you for supporting this project.  There are over a billion people in India and Rising Star is willing and capable of helping so many children.  Click here and the link will send you to Amazon to order your coloring book, 
To watch this My 100 Daughters of India video on youtube, click here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Former Food Addict Deals with Life Today

The last couple of days have been devastating.  My heart is breaking for those in Las Vegas who have lost their life and for those who are suffering. The images are like from a nightmare. Where do we go from here?

On Friday, it was suspected a little girl from Mesa was kidnapped.  Derek and I were horrified – the little girl was just a year older than our own daughter. Eden slept in our bed and I was up off and on worried sick.  What had happened to the girl?  Where was she?  What unspeakables was she experiencing?  She was found the next morning wondering the street by her school. We were all relived, but still, the night had been full of worry, prayers and tears. Many questions are left unanswered.

Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico, my prayers have been heartfelt for those who have been affected. There is so much going on in the world and at the moment, I’m not sure how to cope.

My baby hit the terrible two’s and I have a broken back-door screen, a red-stained area rug and countless sleepless nights as evidence.  He has been potty-trained for a few months, but for some reason has decided to unpotty-train himself. In the meantime, you may not see any long drawn out blog posts on my darling boy and don’t be surprised by the links on disciplining a two-year old that appear on my Facebook feed. I turned 45 last week and with a bit of help from Canyon and my other kids, I feel my age!

Basketball galore around here lately.  Chandler and Payson are in a church league and Mayer's jr. high team won the city championships.

The on/off switch on my computer is broken and I can’t turn my computer on. This is the final stray.  This is what finally broke me and now I’m dealing with the guilt of feeling shallow and selfish. With all that is going on in the world, I’m feeling sorry for myself because my computer is broken.  I just want to eat something with sugar, chocolate and butter.

Food – this has been my coping mechanism my entire life and now it’s not.  It can’t be.  I won’t allow it.  I’m fighting an emotional battle over here and if food was a weapon, I would need a license to register  the chocolate chip cookie dough I’m dying to eat.  In my home, chocolate chip cookie dough should be banned for life.  I’m pacing, looking for anything to be a distraction so I don’t go lethal on a bag of chocolate chips. I have sugar-free chocolate chips, but at this moment of crisis, they just won’t do.

In the past, I’ve turned to food.

Chocolate cookies

Frozen yogurt

Chips and salsa
These would do the trick about now.


Even with all my hard work to eat healthy and remain sugar-free, I’m still a food addict and I wonder if I always will be. Without the escape of food, I can’t seem to find much relief from the stress I’m under.  I know a lot of people use alcohol and drugs to cope with their own pain, whether it be emotional, physical or environmental.  It’s hard to feel and to remain present in a world that has so much evil and uncertainty.

Reef is home from school.  He suffered a heat stroke this weekend and was in the hospital Sunday night with an IV.  

Once he was hydrated, they sent us home, but he’s still very weak and sleeping a lot.  I’ve spent some precious time cuddled up with him.  This kid is a rock.  He’s very affectionate and always has a positive attitude.  I am experiencing a bit of cabin fever, another component that reminds me how much of an escape food can be.

Remember when my wood floors flooded a couple of months ago.  The contractor starts next week and the floors will be ripped out.  The damaged cabinets are going too. I spent most of yesterday cleaning out my kitchen cupboards and relocating food, dishes and such because we’ll be without use of a kitchen for a while.  My house is turned upside down. 

I have several friends and family members going through major life issues. I cry when they cry, I worry and feel deeply for their welfare.


I’m praying.  Reef and I read from the scriptures about Jesus and His unconditional love for the world.  I’m keeping busy the best I can, but those old habits of turning to food for comfort are knocking at the door today.  I just need to know everything is going to be all right, but I’m not sure if anyone can offer such words.  I will carry on the best I know how.  I will remain strong and not let food take over my life.  I will allow myself to feel whatever I need to feel.  I will not block it with eating excess amounts of food.  I will learn to be more empathetic to others. I will turn to God and pray for those who are dealing with issues of life and death. I am a food addict, but hopefully, not forever.

This is how I found Reef and Eden sleeping on Monday morning.  

Worried about the little girl being kidnapped and Reef just out of the hospital, these two are not letting each other go.  There were not yet aware off the tragedy in Las Vegas, but their display of sibling love was most touching.

Friday, September 29, 2017

And Exceedingly Great Was There Joy - Story Submissions

And Exceedingly Great Was There Joy –
True Stories of Extraordinary International Humanitarian Service
Compiled by Ann Webb and Laura Lofgreen



There is a trend among people including teenagers, young adults and adults, leaving for spring break or planning a summer trip to go do something good for others.  Perhaps it’s to build a school, dig a new well, construct a home, provide medical help and more.  Instead of relaxing, they are working, connecting and experiencing something bigger then a vacation full of memories – through their sacrifice, they are making a true difference in the world.

If you or someone you know has had such an extraordinary international humanitarian experience, please submit such stories to be published in this inspiring book.

How to Submit

Write your story the same way you would write a journal or diary entry. Write about how you felt and how your experience progressed. Share what ever you feel.
Start with prayer or meditation. Allow your mind to open up to your experience.
You might want to outline from beginning to end to give yourself a point of reference if necessary. Think of specifics. Sights, smells and sounds.
Write down the key people who shaped the story? What were your pivotal experiences with them?
What is it you want to share? What have you learned? What would you change? Did you see God’s hand in your situation?

If you would like any help writing your story, please contact Laura Lofgreen to assist you. The interview will take about an hour and can be done over the phone or in person. Thank you for your love for others and desire to make the world a better place.  Your experience may inspire another person to serve.

Q: How long should my story be?
A: Some stories might be a couple of paragraphs while others are 7 or 8 pages.  Write what you are comfortable with.  There is no preference. As we receive stories, we will post snippets of examples of what we are looking for on Ann Webb and Laura Lofgreen’s Facebook page.

Laura and Ann
Q: When will the book be available?
A: Publication is set for Spring/Summer 2018 and will be available on Amazon and Kindle.  Distribution will be posted. 25% of proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Global Life Vision.

Q: Will every story be submitted be published:
A: Most likely your story will be published in the collection; however, stories will go through a content editing process with Vintage Bird Press.  Stories should be family friendly. If accepted, editorial changes will be made as necessary.

Q:  Can I mail in my story?
A: Submissions are only accepted via email.

Q: Can I title my story?
A: Yes, however; title is subject to be changed. If you do not submit a title, one will be creatively given.

At the top of your story, please include name, email address, phone number and dates & location of your international travel.

Questions? Contact me on facebook or message me via email.

Submit stories to:
Submissions accepted September 2017 through December 31, 2017

By submitting to And Exceedingly Great Was There Joy, you grant Ann Webb, Laura Lofgreen and Vintage Bird Press the rights to publish your story.


  

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.