We're already helping!

You know from this past weekend's blog post that something big is going to happen with the Spread Hope project. (click this link to read more) 

I said I would update you on April 10th, but I can't help wanting to update you already-- we are going to be able to help one family already with groceries this month! And hopefully-- many more to come!

For those of you just tuning in, Spread Hope is a way to recognize and reach out to someone you know going through a hard time with a tangible "Hang in there," or "You matter," or "I'm thinking of you," or "Be brave" gift through one of our Stella & Dot friendship bracelets-- Courage, Love, or Light

With the proceeds from your Friendship Bracelet order, for ever $100 received I will be sending an anonymous gift card for groceries or money for bills to a family in need in our community (or even in yours!). I don't have the resources to help everyone around me, but together with you, we can make a big difference to Spread Hope. If you know of a family in need, please email me at meganlove17@gmail.com.

Think of how someone will feel knowing that you cared enough to reach out to them. To let them know you're thinking of them, and to not lose heart. You can even send your Friendship Bracelet anonymously. Think of your mom, your co-worker, your aunt, your sister, your friend, your friend's friend, your neighbor, the regular at Starbucks you always see, your kids' friends' mom, teachers, etc. Everyone could use a little hope in their lives!

10 things we spend $19 without even thinking about it:

1) Our weekly lattes at Starbucks
2) Lunch with a friend
3) 1/2 a tank of gas
4) Shopping at Target
5) A shirt at Old Navy
6) Organic groceries for dinner
7) Going to the movies
8) Make-up
9) Eyebrow waxing
10) Manicures

I know we can afford to give up one of these things this week to give someone a reminder through a Courage, Love or Light friendship bracelet, that will be a daily reminder to them that someone cares enough about them to reach out. And when you do that, you'll be helping another family in your community with groceries or bills for the month since I'll be donating the proceeds from the friendship bracelets to them as well. I'm giving up Starbucks this week to buy my friendship bracelet. 

To pick up your friendship bracelet, shop this link and search "friendship bracelet": http://www.stelladot.com/ts/0jbo5


Spread Hope.

I don't know if you've experienced this lately, but there is a lot of struggle going on in the world right now. In our schools. In our neighborhoods. In our communities. In our churches. In our families. And that barely scratches the surface.

It seems like weekly I've been hearing reports from people close to me of difficult life situations they are facing. Times of despair; times of heartbreak. Times of overwhelming unknowns; times of pain and times of discouragement. Job loss, illness, foreclosures, etc... My heart becomes full wanting to not only pray for these circumstances, but to do something as well. However, I'm often at a loss as to what I can do just by myself.

The other day, a thought popped into my head that has the potential to be a beautiful partnership between you, me, families in need and people in your life just needing a little bit of hope. An "I'm thinking of you," an "I'm praying for you," A "remember who you are" type of reminder.

At Stella & Dot, we have something called a Friendship Bracelet. The idea behind these bracelets are that you give them away to someone letting you know you're thinking of them. There are three bracelets:

The Love bracelet, with a message inside saying "The richness of life is in love..."

The Courage bracelet, with a message inside saying "From caring comes strength..."

The Light bracelet, with a message inside saying "Sparkle from the light within..."

The reason behind this idea is because you probably know someone in your life who could use an encouragement during a struggle or difficult circumstance they may be facing. These friendship bracelets are a way of saying, "I'm thinking about you" which is a really special way to spread hope.

What I would like to do is for every $100 in profits from friendship bracelets purchased from this link  between now and April 10th, I will anonymously donate 100% of those profits to families in need in our community through grocery gift cards, a $100 bill, etc. And I hope that we can reach multiple families! If you know of a family who could use $100 because of a difficult situation they are facing right now, please send me an email at meganlove17@gmail.com with their name and address, and I will add them to the list.

As a recap, the Spread Hope project is a way that we, together, can reach out and encourage others we know in a tangible way who are struggling right now. You, by purchasing a bracelet and sending it along with a note to someone you know who might need encouragement, and me by sending gift cards to families who might need that blessing in their lives right now.

I hope that we can go far with this campaign and have a huge impact! Please share this blog post with friends and family, and join me in spreading hope.

I will follow-up with you on April 10th to share the results! Join me in spreading hope to others in our community who need it. Remember to shop from this link: http://www.stelladot.com/ts/0jbo5


Monday Musings: Emma from Sweden

So as you might have seen earlier this month, T and I decided to take this crazy leap of faith and host an exchange student for next school year. 

I feel like we're just trying this parenting thing out one step at a time... ;) First Zeke, now Emma. 

We both worked with this company, EF Tours, two years ago when we went to Costa Rica with middle schoolers from Timothy's school. EF is a GREAT company to not only do academic trips with, but to work with for study abroad opportunities as well. I don't exactly know why or how they started contacting us about hosting and exchange student, but several months ago I started to get emails of interest from our local exchange coordinator (that I conveniently ignored). 

My DREAM, really, has been to teach abroad at an International School. I really want to live abroad, but that's another story. So when that dream had to be put on hold with a new home, a dog, Timothy's tenured job in McMinnville, etc., my interest was piqued when another cultural exchange opportunity was presented to us, only reversed: WE would be hosting the exchange student, not living abroad ourselves. 

At first I ignored the emails because really, why would we host an exchange student. We're only 28, we don't have kids and we work with middle schoolers, not high schoolers. But then our coordinator started sending personalized notes to me asking if I had an questions about what it was like to host, and she told me that she had hosted herself over 13 times so she was quite experienced. So I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and asked like fifteen questions in my first response to her. She wrote me back almost immediately and had really solid answers. So, I asked her more questions, and she gave me more answers. Our back and forth Q & A session lasted nearly two weeks, and then I told her I needed a few weeks to talk with Timothy and think and research and just consider what our lives would be like with a teenager in them. I mean, my brother Taylor is 16 and we've traveled extensively with him, but "parenting" a teenager is another story. 

So, the next thing I know, our coordinator starts sending over applications, just so we could see what some of the students were like. Just to humor her and ourselves, we started reading the applications out of curiosity's sake. We were SO impressed! The thorough details that EF goes through in their interview process, coupled with the maturity of the students applying, really took our thoughts from "maybe" to "let's do it." The applications were very detailed and contained pages and pages of information on goals, hobbies, grades, family life, etc. from the various students. Only 25% of students who apply to EF get the opportunity to interview with them, and then they have to go through six steps along the way before they are approved. 

Before we knew it, we had selected our "girl" and had the coordinator over to our house to interview us and tour our home. We grilled her for three hours, asking every single question we could think of from, "Is she allowed to date?" to "What if she gets sick," or "Under what circumstances could we send her back home if something goes wrong?" Fast forward two more weeks and everything finally came together to become approved host parents to Emma from Sweden. 

Emma won't be living with us until August, but she will be going to our high school and living out her year in the US as a senior. She'll get to go to prom, take senior-level classes, and even walk at graduation. 

I would be lying if I said that we weren't totally nervous about this whole thing-- especially being only 28 and without kids, hosting a 16 year old. However, there are two ways this could go and we won't know until we try it: Either incredibly well or really bad. We are the type of people that like to try new things and immerse ourselves in cultural experiences when we can. What led us to make this decision was, "Why not?" The opportunity presented itself to us; we didn't go looking for it. As the doors opened, we moved in them. 

So, you'll be learning more about our lives as exchange host parents coming later this summer, but in the meantime, keep us in your prayers as we prepare our home and our lives for having a third person (plus Zeke!) from another culture living with us for a year. I'll be able to affirmatively tell you after this experience is over whether or not hosting an exchange student was the right choice for us, but like I said, we won't know until we give it a try. :) 

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