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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.


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.