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Summer 2015 bonJOY!

July 3, 2015

A few months ago I wrote about the delightful bonJOY box I ordered, the first of its kind.  BonJOY boxes are available quarterly and I decided I definitely wanted to see what the second one held.

BonJOY boxes, in case you don’t remember and you’re also too lazy to click on the link in the paragraph above (hey, I’m not judging!) are little boxes filled with good stuff for good purposes.  In their own words, the bonJOY girls describe their enterprise this way:

We are a quarterly subscription box that features fashion + beauty + living goods from brands who support employment and restoration for women who are survivors of, or at-risk for, trafficking and exploitation.

You gotta admit, that’s pretty darned great.

If you want to know what was in the first box, you really do have to click on the link in the first paragraph.  Right now I’m going to talk about the second box, which was equally as wonderful as the first.

Exciting goodness!

Exciting goodness!

I love how much fun there is before I even dig into the contents.  Pretty colors, a bright reusable envelope filled with information and discount codes…even the paperclip is cute.  It just feels fun and special.

Wanna see what’s really inside?

A box of happy goodness from professional do-gooders.

A box of happy goodness from professional do-gooders.

Here’s the breakdown:

Dahlia earrings from New Creation.  These folks took over a porn shop and have turned it into a Restoration Shoppe that will feature brands and businesses like the ones bonJOY features.  How cool is that?  These cute little peachy earrings retail for $5, and I will almost surely never get to wear them because they are the Sparkette’s favorite color, plus they are little flowers, which is totally her thing.

Hope Mineral Blush x3 from Ferro Cosmetics.  This is a full-sized jar of 100% pure mineral pigment that can be used as blush, eye color, lip color (add it to gloss) or even nail color (add it to clear polish).  Excellent quality.  Ferro Cosmetics supports organizations that support women and children, and they’ve given away thousands of their cosmetics to women’s shelters and taught the women how to use makeup properly to help boost self-esteem and build a sense of self-confidence and independence.  The jar in my box retails for $25, and the Sparkette is not getting that one.

Hello card from Flora Stationary. This is a pretty handmade card that will help support the women in Eastern Europe who made it by providing scholarships/education money.  Flora Stationary empowers women by helping them get an education that will lift them out of poverty.  The card retails for $2.

Bracelet from UNCVRD.  This delicate beauty was designed especially for bonJOY customers.  It is made with beads of apatite and pyrite, and the chain and findings are 14k gold.  It is absolutely breathtaking.  UNCVRD gives 40% of their profits to a local organization in California to fight human trafficking in their own backyard.  The bracelet would retail for $38.

I ordered early and got a fun bonus in my box.  It was a full-sized 15-hour 100% pure mineral eye shadow called Freedom from Ferro Cosmetics.  It would have retailed for $17.

If you add up the retail amounts, you can see that I was in no danger of getting a poor value for my $45 worth of fun tickets I traded in for this happy little box that blessed other people just because I bought it.  No regrets.

If you’d like the autumn box for yourself or someone you love (and you know you do!) you can order here:  boyJOY!   You will get your own box of happy, and you’ll be supporting do-gooders who live by the (not) crazy notion that the money we spend should help make the world a better place, not lead to more oppression and sadness.

There are many ways to be part of the change you want to see in the world.

My favorite three-letter word.

My favorite three-letter word!

 

The Princess Perspective Experience

June 15, 2015

I’ve got some exciting news that pertains to the female portion of the Sparky Nation.  Guys, you are welcome to read because you may have someone with whom you’d like to share this information.  I promise I’m not going to talk about cooking, childbirth, feminine hygiene products, or cats.

‘Round about the beginning of the new year, I agreed to join the lead team of a parachurch women’s ministry called The Princess Perspective.  The Princess Perspective hosts a women’s retreat every autumn, and I was invited in 2014 and decided to go.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the retreat.  After all, it sounds rather frilly and frou-frou, doesn’t it?  And I’m…well, not.

What I discovered is that the emphasis wasn’t about frilly and frou-frou, but about the perspective of a kingdom-minded royal daughter.  It was about how that perspective changes how we think, which in turn changes how we behave.  And that I can jive with.  It’s powerful stuff, and one of my favorite topics.

So now The Princess Perspective Leadership team has a member who is decidedly not frilly or frou-frou.  Although I do like C-A-T-S, but I’ve promised not to talk about that.  For now.

The 2015 retreat will be held Oct.8-10 in Samson, Alabama, which is just over the Florida-Alabama line.  Registration opened today and will be limited to 50 slots, which we expect to fill up quickly.  Local women will be able to drive there; those flying in to Fort Walton Beach airport (VPS) can “purchase” a free ticket for a shuttle ride from the airport to the retreat venue.

I will be one of the speakers for the retreat.  It’s a fun team and I look forward to us all working together to provide a setting where women can be taught, encouraged, and can hear from God in deeply personal and intimate ways.

Consider this your official invitation to the 2015 Princess Perspective Experience.  I can promise you that it’s worth the investment of your time, energy, and money.

Ok, the nuts and bolts…

The early bird price is $99.  The price goes up to $119 on August 1st, but I’ll be surprised if there are any slots left by then.   The price covers two nights of lodging and all meals during the retreat.  You’ll need to bring your own bedding, but if you’re flying in and you need help with that part, just let us know.  There will be a resource table with some great stuff to purchase to take home to keep yourself encouraged and focused, but that’s optional.

There are three ways to register:

-Through The Princess Perspective website.

-Through The Princess Perspective Facebook group.   (“Like” us while you’re there!)

-Directly through Eventbrite   (Search for The Princess Perspective Experience)

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, so feel free to ask.  I really hope to see some of you there!

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Whatcha lookin’ at?

June 14, 2015

It’s been a quiet week here at Hey Sparky!  I’ve been out of town with limited time for posting, since it’s generally a bad idea to blog while driving. I’m terrible at multitasking anyway. 

My van developed an annoyance on the trip.  It’s a small thing and very fixable, thank goodness.  But somehow the windshield wiper blade on the driver’s side developed a very tiny nick in the rubber.  That means every time the wiper swiped, it left a delightful smeary arc across the windshield.  And guess where that arc was.

Yup.  Right at the driver’s eye level.

And by driver, I mean me.

I like a clean windshield.  Even when it’s not raining, there is a good chance I’ll be using my wipers a couple of times a day just for cleaning my view space.  Fat lotta good that does me when my view is obstructed by a smeary stream of windshield wiper fluid and bug guts.

Vision is a marvelous thing.  We can see all kinds of things without directly looking at them.  That means that I can drive down the highway just fine even though I have a 1/4″ wide arc of smear in front of my eyes.  But it annoys the ever-lovin’ fool out of me to do so, because even when I’m not looking at that smear, I can see it.

I’m back to that basic life truth:  what you focus on, you empower.

I can focus on the big picture and enjoy the view, or I can focus on the annoyance up close and be perpetually bothered and totally miss the gloriousness of the big picture.

I’ll let you think about that a little.

Meanwhile, I need to pester Mr. Sparky for new wiper blades.

 

 

The race for the crown

June 7, 2015

I watched history being made today.  For the first time in 37 years, a horse has won the Triple Crown.

I was a freshman in high school the last time it happened, back in 1978 by a horse named Affirmed.  Today American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes, confirming that his wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness weren’t flukes, and that you should never judge a horse poorly just because his name was misspelled by his owners.

I don’t know much about horse racing.  Except for the Triple Crown races, I don’t follow it.  But I observed something while watching the Preakness this year as the horse ran it through sheets of rain on a field of saturated slop.

Here…you can watch it too.  Notice the horses as they first come from the gate.  Then notice them again as the race finishes, at 2:11.

Did you catch it?  When they all sprang out of the gate they were gorgeous, with coats of beautiful colors.

But at the end of the race, only one horse still looked like that.  American Pharoah, who had never been out of the first place position, was still a rich brown color.  The rest of the field was a nice shade of murky muck, no matter what color their coats actually were.  The further back in the field the horse was, the more heavily it was coated in thrown mud.

I’ve thought about that race many times in the few weeks since it took place, that screen shot at 2:11 burned into my mind.

When you’re first, you set precedent.  But when you follow in someone else’s footsteps, you can’t help but end up wearing some of the dirt they stirred up in their passing.  The field gets worn and messy as more and more folks pass on it.

Scripture talks about generational sin.  For many that looks like a cluster of sin habits that pass through the generations as we end up carrying pet sins that are usually failed attempts at coping with the pain of our ancestor’s pet sins.  Those who seemed to escape the family pet sin often marry into another family with the same or similar pet sin.  It’s like we become magnets for it.

You’ve probably heard phrases like “abused people become abusers” and “hurt people hurt people”.  Nobody grows up intending to become an abuser.  But when you’ve been abused and you carry the pain caused by the abuse, it often ends up being expressed toward someone else in an abusive manner.  It’s the same thing with addictions and extreme relational brokenness.  People who are in pain often make terrible choices that cause others pain, and then those others end up making terrible choices that cause others pain, and so on.

The first person in the line of the mess may not have looked so bad.  But just wait until time and darkness compound all their issues into their generational line.

The good news is that Jesus can clean up any mess.  He never looks at the last straggler in the race and declares him or her too much of a filthy loser to be worth His time and sacrifice.  Thanks to Him, we can run a sweaty, difficult, muddy, bloody, messy race and still cross the finish line spotlessly clean.

In fact, He specializes in that very thing.

 

Take #2

June 6, 2015

Yesterday we were chased out of a stadium by storms, and commencement ceremonies were postponed to tonight.

Last night’s lightning didn’t show tonight.  And that was good news, except…

It sent downpours of violent rain in its place.

This is an action shot of streams of water running off my LEAKING umbrella.

This is an action shot of streams of water running off my LEAKING umbrella.

In the end we ended up pretty soaked, what with leaking umbrellas and rivers from overlapping umbrella edges and whatnot.  The graduates on the field were completely drenched.

But you know what?  A wet graduate is still a graduate!

She could only stay pouty for so long before she cracked herself up.

She could only stay pouty for so long before she cracked herself up.

We are very proud of you, Olivia Grace.  Congratulations on your high school graduation.  May you face the future with courage and curiosity, and may you walk in full confidence that you are deeply loved…and you always will be.

Shiny heart!

Shiny heart!

Choose your view

June 5, 2015

Today didn’t go as planned.  And by today, I mean Thursday, even though it’s after midnight and technically Friday.  It isn’t really “tomorrow” until I’ve either been to sleep or the sun comes up.

That is my story and I’m sticking to it.

It was graduation night for the Sparkette.  Most of our county high schools have to use outdoor football stadiums for these things because it’s the only place there’s space for 500 graduates and all their fans.  This is fine…unless there are storms.

It was much darker and more ominous than is evident in this photo.

It was much darker and more ominous than is evident in this photo.

And boy, were there storms.  An entire stadium full of spectators waited…and then were sent to overhangs and the cafeteria when the lightning got close…and were finally evacuated when the ceremonies were postponed until tomorrow evening.  The graduating class never even made it onto the field.

So our graduate isn’t quite graduated…yet.  And we’re bummed that some of the folks who came to see her graduate tonight won’t be able to return tomorrow night.

But…

-I was supposed to work tomorrow, but there was a backup plan in place and I’m grateful for an understanding and supportive team at work.

-The van spent the bulk of the day in the shop because we recently heard it making weird noises.  And while it’s something that needs to be dealt with, it’s not an emergency and I’m still free to take a planned road trip in it.  Which is good because the mechanic has to order the parts he needs to fix it and can’t get to it right away.

-The delayed-turned-to-postponed ceremony meant an impromptu gathering at our house for some of the Sparkette’s beautiful and delicious cuppycakes.

Dark chocolate cupcakes with blackberry buttercream frosting or vanilla gravy frosting.  Both remarkably delicious.

Dark chocolate cupcakes with blackberry buttercream frosting or vanilla gravy frosting. Both remarkably delicious. 

-Some of our guests had rushed to get to the ceremony and hadn’t had time for dinner.  But God provided so well for us earlier this week that we still had most of a big pot of chili that Mr. Sparky made, and that stuff tends to get better if sits a little anyway.  A few minutes on the stove while Mr. Sparky chopped up some fixin’s, and a modest meal was available.

Sometimes at the end of a disappointing day you have to stop and consider the non-disappointing parts.  And often, if you really look at it, the non-disappointing parts outweigh the disappointing parts if you set your heart and mind on gratitude and joy.

Then again, if you don’t set your heart and mind on gratitude and joy, it doesn’t much matter how many non-disappointing things happened.  It doesn’t even matter if there were actually no disappointments at all.  If your heart and mind aren’t set on gratitude and joy, you will find no shortage of reasons to be grumpy and depressed and pessimistic, because your lens has dirty fingerprints on it.

I don’t think I need to tell you who those yucky prints those are.

 

Coming and going

June 3, 2015

This is graduation week for the Sparkette, and tonight we went to the airport to pick up her cousins who are visiting in order to help us celebrate the Sparkette’s accomplishment.

Our little regional airport isn’t exactly a hub of activity at 9:00pm, but whenever there is an incoming flight, there will also be people waiting for the occupants of that plane, no matter what time it is.  Tonight was no exception.

Airports are great places for people-watching.  I love watching the faces of the people waiting.  I love watching the faces of those arriving.  I love the squeals and hugs and smiles of reunions.  I don’t have to know any of the people doing the squealing and hugging; it’s delightful just because it is.

I remember the days before 9/11, before airport security checks, when you could wait for arrivals and departures at the actual gates.  The straining and squinting to see a loved one walking up the ramp from the plane…the tearful long hugs and reluctant goodbyes between those who would rather not be parted…the gate areas were a hot mess of emotion.

And they were beautiful.

 

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