Monday, December 21, 2009

It's the Hap-Happiest Season of ALL!

And it's here!!! Yesterday I ventured out to Red Rock with my friend Julie who stopped by for 2 days. By "stop by", I mean she was in root from Michigan to Idaho and found her way to Vegas :) It's a "Tradition" that was started last year and we are desperately doing our best to find a way to keep it a tradition! Red Rock was always!! And this time a wonderful surprise...SNOW!!!!! I was so excited I even had my picture taken holding a snow ball! There was about 1 inch tucked away in a corner of the mountain and I found it :)

We also headed down to the strip to see the beautiful Christmas decorations that the casinos do an amazing job putting up! This year the Bellagio had 3 polar bears made out of carnations, fountains, the biggest Christmas tree ever, flying reindeer, ...the list goes on and on! It was awesome! And of course we took a walk out to see the dancing fountains that go to Christmas music this time of year! They also did the unveiling of the new "City Center" on the strip! It was WAY cool...there are ice sculptures and a water-tornado-deal thing...and the design of the building is phenomenal! A must see for your next trip down!

Exciting things are going on in the "working world" as Rapport Empowered Education is turning Non-profit as of Jan 1. I am beginning to see exactly what that means and what an amazing resource its going to be for schools/organizations across the US and Canada! In the mean time... I am learning a ton and getting ready to take on a completely new role within the company! Things continue to stay constant as I return from Michigan I will be heading straight off to L.A. to be doing some school assembly programs (and stopping at the beach for some surfing, of course) and then off to Reno to the California Activities Director Association conference. Exciting and fun!

I am also preparing to host an alternative spring break mission trip for 12 amazing students from Spring Arbor University. They will be spending 10 days in Vegas doing several different ministry projects to include working with: African refugees, the homeless and prostitute population, inner city schools, and of course seeing the sights and sounds of Vegas :) I'm excited to be able to give the students insight into A) a world that is desperately in need. B) life in Vegas. C) that you are capable of getting involved and making a difference right out of college.

Reading the article of the food project Melissa did in Charlotte... the Christmas project my mom coordinated in Detroit...the church my Dad is investing in Dundee... I am filled with gratitude this holiday season... and those are just some of the outward expressions of living faith. There are so many other things... things that are done quietly! I'm blessed to have such amazing examples that have created a firm foundation for me to build my own self on. Christmas is such an amazing time of year... not because of the presents, the cheer, or the Christmas Cookies (although wonderful!)... it is a time to remember the most amazing gift we were all given so many years ago... the gift of life...and life eternal! And although still there are many who have not yet received it, some who will make the decision they just don't want it at all, STILL - God gave His gift anyway! Who are we to put our hands in our pockets and say "I have no money to give," or to rush past life saying "I'm too busy to stop", or to walk with our heads down saying "whoa is me" ... when there is a God who not only humbled Himself to come to Earth, but then gave up His only son for a girl like me to live!

Merry Christmas and may you have a year filled with opportunities to give of yourself!
With love and gratitude,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On the 15th day before Christmas...

It doesn't matter if it's the day before Christmas or 15 days before Christmas... I always seem to be doing the same thing... doing my best to figure out what present will best fit which family member and which day will allow me to get the most shopping done! I did great on the shopping this year while I was in Michigan at Thanksgiving, however I still have quite a bit left to do! This year I had the brilliant idea to do Christmas cards and yet it remained only that... an idea! Perhaps next year I will have things put together enough to send out some cards! My master plan is to buy cards when the holidays after over this year and begin to write them out come August! that outta get them done by Christmas :)

This year Christmas is going to be a bit different, as it seems every year has it's own little tweaks to accommodate an ever changing family in an every changing world! This year I have somehow landed 2 weeks of vacation to spend at home! I will be flying in to Detroit on Dec 23rd and then driving to Charlotte, NC with the Jacksons on the 27/28 to spent some time there! Then I have a plane ticket back to Detroit on the 1st and will return back to Vegas on the 5th! Whew! Let the Christmas Cheer begin!!! I'm so excited to spending some real time with Melissa, LD, and Clare this Christmas. Normally with all of the hustle and bustle we miss each other in Michigan.

And, of course I will be celebrating the holidays in Vegas as well! On Saturday I will be delivering Christmas presents with Angel Tree at HOPE to needy families in the community. We are also throwing a party for families who can come in to pick up their gifts at the church! Then, next week on the 19th is our Rapport Ugly Christmas Sweater Party!! I'm really looking forward to that and need to head to the store ASAP to pick out a good/nasty sweater to wear! (Vegas temps today were only 40!!!)

Amy, who I work with, is also moving back from Calgary Canada to Las Vegas next week! That is one of the best Christmas presents I could have gotten this year!!! I'm so excited for her to be back in the office and to work together once again!! And at the same time, one of my great friends here in Vegas will be moving soon with her family to Washington DC. It's always exciting when I get to watch people move in the direction of their dreams and at the same time I'm a little selfish and miss them dearly!!

Life is great and I'm blessed by every minute that passes!
Wishing you a snowy good day :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving in Michigan

Happy Winter!!!

I know it's official here, not by the weather, but because I switched my coffee preference over to Peppermint Lattes instead of Pumpkin Spice ;) And, the radio stations are blasting Christmas music every other song! I was laughing to myself today as I was driving home from work. The lyrics played through my car, "Oh the weather outside is frightful..." Well, frightful if you consider 70 degrees and sunny a bad thing?? Strange... although it is my second year of experiencing desert winters...I'm sure it's just one of those thing I'll never get used to. I'm a girl that loves a "Winter Wonderland" for a little while at least!

Thanksgiving home was a great trip! The word "Family" doesn't even describe what I did at home. I arrived late on Wednesday night, just in time to get to bed. The day after is always a little nutty after flying in, so for the second year in a row I missed the Thanksgiving day Parade because I was still asleep. My friend Julie from SAU had Thanksgiving at the Vann's this year, which was a great treat! The table seated about 18 this Thanksgiving. And I ended the day with a visit with Breayne from MRBC at Ramshorn. Gotta love that place... the only thing opened on Thanksgiving night! My Mom and I hit up the Black Friday Shopping Spree around the town at 5am. I got a great start on most of my Christmas shopping with my brilliant plan of leaving it all there for my return at Christmas.

Friday afternoon Meliss, LD, and Clare arrive at my parents house. Clare has grown about a foot since I've seen her last and we had so much fun playing together! We had the Vann Family Photo shoot which was NUTS! We did it for Mom and she owes us BIG TIME! I also got to enjoy a "date night" with Meliss! A time for her and I just to catch up without the craziness of everyone around! Saturday was my nephew Jayden's 1st Birthday ... so as you can imagine the family was back together AGAIN! Sunday, mom and I headed out to watch Pops "in action" at the pulpit in Dundee! :) We enjoy dinner together and I headed back to Vegas. A fast trip, but I accomplished what I set out to do... enjoy the family I'm blessed to have!

I realized there is a striking pattern to what happens when I arrive home... unpack, wash, repack, repeat. This weekend I am headed to Alamo, NV (3 days) to facilitate a Corporate Leadership training class. The awesome thing about it is two of my college profs are going to be there as well! We are going to have a blast!

Updates for you:
Newest Pass-time: Karyn Kingsburry books
Newest Fad: I just bought new Brown Tall boots. LOVE THEM!
Newest Addiction: Peppermint Lattes
Newest Goal: 5 day a week Spin Classes at LVAC with Alena

Its my intention to start my "new things" now so that when the NEW year comes...I'm already settled in and ready to rock it :)

Enjoy your "Frightful weather" out there :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's coming...

Can you believe the holiday season is already here?! It's nuts! And I must admit that I'm ready for them. Not ready in the "gifts purchased" kind of way, but ready for the holiday cheer! Yesterday I enjoyed a relaxing evening at home and realized just how ready I was. I curled up on the couch with my plaid pajamas, a cup of hot chocolate, and watched "The Holiday." If that doesn't put you in the Holiday spirits I'm not sure what will! Christmas music has started playing in most of the stores and "holiday specials" are starting to fill the weekend paper and my Email inbox! The flights home are purchased for both Thanksgiving and Christmas!! It's not all complete, but it's a great start :)

This Wednesday I will be catching my flight to Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with my Family. Julie, a friend from college, is spending Thanksgiving with the Vann's this year as her family lives in Idaho. The Jackson's will be headed to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family on Friday afternoon. Mom is all sorts of jazzed for the whole family to be back together again. She has a photographer coming for a Vann Family photo shoot on Friday as well. We will also be celebrating my nephew Jayden's 1st birthday too! Lots of festivities in a relatively short 4 day weekend!

In the mean time, I enjoying a 3 day work week! Celebrating Thanksgiving with a company potluck on Tuesday along with celebrating my friend Melissa's Birthday. I'm going to be a party queen in no time with all of the celebrating :)

I will be sure to post photos after the weekend visit home with the fam! I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving and reflect on just how blessed you are! God is so good... and there is much to be thankful for!

Let the celebrating begin...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Great things I'm learning about life...

You know, there are some really great things about life that no one really seems to pass on. I don't if know it's that there are only a few people that have taken time to notice it, or maybe haven't discovered those things for themselves yet? Or, perhaps it's that they suppose everyone knows... I'm not really sure. But what I do know, is that there are some important lessons that never get passed on... how to save money, expect the unexpected, learn to prioritize, and be flexible!

  • I just bought a $70 dress for $1.89 and I was not at a thrift store!! And that, my friend, gives great proof to the theory that Shopping IS indeed a sport! Some win and some lose!! Today... I WON!!! I can only imagine that if men understood this... they would encourage their wife to play. You see regardless of if she is on a team or not, she's going to shop. Yet if you allow her to believe it's a sport ... you can save a lot more money!
  • Always make friends with your matter how OLD they may be! You never know when they will have your back and report you as "dead" to the front office because you were a bit under the whether and they hadn't seen you in a few days! It's the people you least expect that always come through for you when you need someone most! Expect the unexpected!
  • I was talking to a girlfriend of mine and she was saying that her husband gets so frustrated when she refers to his hunting equipment as accessories. The name we give objects of course defines what that object is. So I have a new idea of calling my "accessories" (jewelry, purse, hair clips, etc)... equipment. Because it is indeed that equipment that allows you to function to your full potential for the day. Equipment is something you MUST have...accessories are merely optional additions. Learn to prioritize!
  • There is nothing you can find in a tool box that you don't already have in another (more easily accessible) location. For example, I bought some new pictures to hang on the wall and didn't have a hammer. That's why God created high heels. A nice sturdy point that you can use no matter where you are! Be flexible!

There are so many lessons to learn and as I learn them... I'm committed to passing along that knowledge for others to gain from and enjoy! :)

All in a days work,

Vaness ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Forced Sabbath

So, have you ever experienced those times in your life when you are going at the speed of light and there is absolutely nothing you were willing to give up...because it just ALL has to be done? That's the point that I was at until about noon yesterday, when God decided to put me on a forced sabbath : a day(s) of absolute rest. Sometimes I get going and I know that I need to slow down but it just all needs to get done. And that is when God forcefully sets me down (this time with the H1N1 flu) and says "THERE. I did it for you!". After spending time in California, participating in several activities at church, working, hosting family in town, and getting ready to head back to Cali tomorrow...God just said "enough is enough."

Last night I dropped my mom, Cissy, and Kristen off at the airport after a 5 day stay in Las Vegas. They flew in on Friday morning and we sent Kristen off to participate in the Teen Leadership Breakthrough class at Rapport. Its always fun to have family members take the class. That evening Mom, Cissy, and I went to have dinner at the Yard House and play an exciting game of Bingo at the Southpoint Casino. SO MUCH FUN! Saturday was filled with visiting Red Rock and looking at some model homes available out that way. I fell in love with one of them and was ready to move in that afternoon!! Cissy had a chance to visit my church and then we went down to the strip to watch the dueling pianos, dancing Bellagio fountains, and fun on the town. Sunday we went out to spend the day in Alamo for Kristen's graduation! She did great and I was very proud of her!!! Of course she needed a chance to see "Vegas" too, so Monday night we went back down to LV BLVD and watched the gondolas in the Venetian and ate some ice cream at Serendipity!

Yesterday when I woke up I wasn't feeling the best, but thought it was just a little chest cold. I was mistaking in the afternoon when i had a fever and ended up in Urgent Care :( We had a quiet evening at home before an airport run last night. It was a good visit and, as always, I was a bit spoiled ;)

Unfortunately I have become one of the H1N1 statistics which means no California trip this weekend and a few days working from home. The Dr says it takes anywhere from 2-10 days to rid the fever away... my plan is 2 days... that is plenty of resting for me! I can only do so much Sudoku, watch so many movies, and eat so much bland food. :)

I'm looking forward to a Thanksgiving trip in a few weeks... i can't believe it's already that time of year! Christmas is just around the corner!! Excited to spend some time with my big sis and to see Clare and Jayden playing together!! :) How fun!!

Well, better get back to my "resting"... sheesh!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Celebrating EVERY DAY!

Look at me! I'm already getting better at my new goal of blogging on a regular basis :)

So, today I had a great realization! And that is...there is really so much to celebrate daily! At the end of the day when I talk to my Mom (yes, a daily occurrence) or in the morning when I talk to Melissa (also occurring multiple times a day) I account to them all of the exciting things that took place, or things that I'm looking forward to in the day. And tonight I was thinking about it, there is really SO many awesome things that God does DAILY in my life that I get to take the time to celebrate more often!!

Today I had a meeting at Hinman Elem School (where we hosted Power Packs 4 Success in the fall) and realized that we get to have an even greater relationship. I'm working with the school right now to put on what we are calling "A Day of Dreams!" I'm not really sure what all of that really looks like yet, but I do know that it is going to have a significant impact on the students, families, and the school as a whole!! Not to mention we are bringing a second school on board this year (Harmon Elem School) next fall. It's the joke on our board that last year we worked with Hinman, next year Harmon, that means we get to find "Helman" for the next year! Then, as we were sitting there talking to the principal she said to me, "Vanessa, we just would really appreciate you coming in and teaching our students more about your personal philosophies and values because it has made such an impact on our students!" WOW - God continues to open doors for me to share His promises even in the public schools!

I was SO excited tonight because I got to have a night out with some girlfriends (Alicia and Mary Lou). After we finished great food and conversation we all went our separate ways. As I was getting ready to leave Town Square I ran into, Jenn, a girl on the PP4S board and, John, a friend from church! Although it may seem like nothing much, I've continued to pray that God would just make this place my home while I am here. That I would feel the comforts of home even though I'm so far away from my family! One of the greatest comforts of home for me is running into familiar faces around town! I was SUPER excited about seeing both of them! Really an answer to prayer!

And let's not forget to celebrate my favorite barista at Starbucks!!! Although silly, they totally make my day when I get a chance to go! This morning I walked in and they told me they want me to taste a new drink they have! They were so excited for me to taste it! She told me if I didn't like it they would make me a new one! Every time I go in there they give me a bigger size than I order, or give me a free drink, or a coupon of some sort! I love it! And it's things like that, that don't get celebrated nearly enough, yet do make an impact on my day!

God is everywhere and in everything! The things we often forget to do is notice Him! Today a college professor of mine sent an Email telling me his family has gone through some hardships and his sister-in-law has completely walked away from her relationship with God. As I read that, God laid something on my heart. I wrote back to him saying, "God continues to pursue her daily. Pray that she will notice Him." God is pursuing each of us daily... waiting for the moment we notice His activity! So... I decided today was a day of CELEBRATION!!! And I pray that every day, moving forward, I will continue to notice the ways He deserves to be celebrated!

That's all :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Fall!!

Hello friends!

Just for the record I am WELL aware of the fact that I am a poor poor blogger! And, it is with my full intention that I will become better :) The good news is that I am all moved and settled into my new apt and have the Internet back! woo hoo!

Things have continued to be very exciting and moving at the speed of light! And, like I tell everyone, I wouldn't have it any other way! I love the fast pace of life and the crazy amounts of opportunity that are available every day!

I am back after nearly 3 weeks of continuous traveling for work (but I don't want you to be fooled... i love every minute of it!) Especially when my work brings me back home to Michigan! I've spent quite some time back home (I believe more time at home than i did when i was in college!) as Rapport has made it's way to Spring Arbor University. I had the opportunity to speak at Chapel for nearly 1600 students and it was a BLAST!! Just after returning back to Vegas, SAU decided they would like to hold a leadership program for students on campus and flew me back up for nearly a week to spend time on campus, talking with students and speaking! Like i said, hardly work at all!!! Yet, flying from coast to coast is starting to wear me out!!

In the past few weeks, Rapport Empowered Education made the announcement we will be functioning as a non-profit org starting Jan 1. That means I've been doing lots of research about the non-profit world. Change has been the constant in my life recently! ha! Breann, my side kick at work, took a job working for Cal State and left the end of September. It has been a huge adjustment without her, both in my personal life and in my professional life. Currently, I'm the only person working in our LV office which is at times a blessing and at times a growing experience. Things have been a little crazy ...and... I'm reminded that "All things work for the good of those who love him... " and it continues to reign true over and over again.

My charity "Power Packs 4 Success" has started back up in action last week. Our board met and voted we would take on another school next fall...which translates to 1400 students receiving back packs and school supplies! God has blessed us with a great board and many opportunities to reach that goal!

I'm currently working with an organization called One Village to raise money for my good friend "Dinka" (one of the lost boys from Sudan) as he is building a medical clinic in his home village of Maar. One Village is an organization that works with Fair Trade to empower women artisans in the villages of Africa, India, and the Amazon by selling their goods in the States. I was able to host a party in Charlotte while visiting the Jackson's in Sept and another last weekend in Vegas. It's been really neat to watch how excited people get to join in on God's activity around the world.

Last week I decided I was in need of a TRUE vacation and flew to visit a family that lives outside of L.A. I met them while working with the Children's Heart Foundation Camp last summer. They absolutely spoiled me taking me to Disneyland for the day, shopping at Victoria Gardens, and relaxing out by the pool! A little time with Mickey seemed to do the trick. :)

I am enjoying the Vegas "Fall" weather as it has been about 80 degrees everyday. When i was back in Mich I nearly FROZE! I hear that makes me a "local" around here :) Yet I do miss the beautiful color change!! The warm weather will make for a great Halloween though! I'm still deciding on a costume and beginning to run out of time!! Thursday I'm working a haunted hotel for children in the hospital and Saturday is trunk-or-treat for the church... if you have any suggestions, feel free to send them on over!! I was thinking of being a bumble bee ... but I'm told that's lame :( I'll keep you posted!!

Hope all is well in your world!!! Wishing you pumpkin and spice and everything nice this fall!!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

And The World Keeps Spinning!

My eye finally seem to be seeing straight since the world started spinning so fast! There has been a lot of changes, a lot of surprises, and a lot of "HELP" prayers to God in the past month! Yet it seems as though God always has the perfect solutions and perfect timing to get things back on track.

The summer in Las Vegas is here to stay with temps in the 110's - 120's the last few weeks. The other night I was driving home from the Strip showing some visitors around after midnight and the thermometer his 104! No wonder Las Vegians stay out so late at night... you can't go out before the sun goes down! And I feel funny when I say it's a beautiful day when the temp is just below 100. I think I'm finally setting into that "local" feeling.

I completed a WONDERFUL week of camp with 40 amazing Camp Mend-a-Heart kids. The week was filled with some of the hardest playing I've every done in my life! Water fights, high ropes, dancing, tshirt contests, arts/crafts, and some of the best cooking in Alamo! I've been able to meet some amazing people and build some great friendships through this experience. And, i'm looking forward to what next years camp holds!

After just getting settled into my 2 bedroom apt with my roommate in June, things have taken a sudden shift. Lindsey has decided to move back to Kentucky to live with her family. This means I GET TO MOVE AGAIN! Woo hooo! (little sarcasm). This will make it move number 5 since I graduated from college only 14 months ago. And looking at the situation now that things are falling into place, I believe God has a great plan for my days on independent living :) I will be moving into a 1 bedroom apt in my same complex at the end of this month. Just at the right time for Mom to be visiting and help with the packing :)

Work is going very well and continues to be a fun part of why I moved out west! I continue to learn more about things I love to do and the things I love for others to do! ha! In just a few weeks we are distributing the 700 backpacks that we have put together for a local elementary school. And, i'm proud to say that we are official a Non-Profit organization of Las Vegas: Power Packs 4 Success! Aug 26th I will be doing an assembly for all of the students and passing out the bags for a great school year! My friend Chris who is doing the project with me, looks at me everyday and says, "Vanessa, can you believe we actually did this?" He and I are both shocked that it came together so easily!

I took a surprising trip to the hospital by myself a few weeks ago as the Urgent Care Dr told me he thought I needed my appendix removed. Many tests, an allergic reaction to medication, and a few too many drugs left me quite a site to see in the ER. My mother now says we have basic protocol for future trips to the ER since I was knocked out and unable to tell anyone what was going on. Apparently you are never supposed to drive yourself the ER. Who knew?! The news, my appendix stayed in and I was sent home with medication for a virus in my lymph nodes... does that even exist!?

I had quite a surprise about a month ago when my two worlds collided: Rapport and Hope! My church is hosting the REAP Conference in Cairo, Egypt and invited me to be one of their speakers. I was very excited and have been attending meetings for the conference. THEN, i received another surprise! My wonderful friend Jacob "Dinka" Atem, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and a great college friend, told me the great news that they have received enough money to travel back to Sudan and bread ground on his dream: a medical center for the Maar Village. He invited me to go and there was NO WAY I could say no to a dream I watched grow over the past 4 years. So after much prayer, I can confidently say that God has a great plan for my trip to Sudan with Dinka in December! I'm not sure what it all looks like yet... but I do know that I get to join in on God's activity in the world!

You can imagine with lots of changes and decisions and projects the world was going round and round faster than I could keep up with it at times. But in the end, God has been there the whole time! I've been attending a Women's Bible study every week about the book of Nehemiah. The entire book ran side by side with my life for the past 8 weeks. Times of confusion, times of disappointment, times of rebuilding, and times of celebration! God has placed in my life people who are support, encouragement, and friends!

I am blessed... and i'm okay with the idea of slowin' things down!
Let's be honest... i wouldn't know what to do with myself if they did!! :)

Sending lots of love from Vegas!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


That title is really what it should read on the front page of the News Paper. But instead I was shocked today to read, "Residence of Las Vegas pleasantly surprised by a cooler start to summer." Although I do find myself adjusting to the climate of the desert ... it doesn't matter how you slice it 104 isn't a cooler start to summer. I admit, last year was warmer...and 104 still isn't a cooler start to summer. The desert wind has begun to blow, the sun is shining, and summer is here to stay!

This beginning of this month marked my one year anniversary at Rapport Leadership International. A lot has changed over the past year... I have moved in with a roommate, settled into a church, have a Las Vegas land line phone number, and find myself saying "home" (referring to Las Vegas) a lot more often. Yet, one thing that still seems to remain a mystery to me is finding my way around the city. I still manage to get lost... and I believe that "Mic" (my GPS) may be coming back out to stay a bit longer. It's pathetic and so very true!

Last week I was visited by another SAU face, Jay Mansur, VP of Advancement for the University. Jay joins a group of 14 other SAU Rapport Grads! It's always fun to take the trip out to the Retreat for Graduation... and a special treat when it's for a friend! Mike England from the University also came out to surprise/support Jay in his class.

As for my summer plans... they keep me on my toes (just how I like it!)
  • Next week I will be traveling out to Alamo, NV to host Camp Mend-a-Heart for the Children's Heart Foundation (June 26- July 1).
  • July 2-6 I will be taking a much desired trip to Michigan to spend some time with the fam and ring in my favorite holiday of the year...the 4th of July :) Bring on the fireworks!
  • July 12th I am putting on my first ever Charity Golf Tournament. The whole thing has been a HUGE learning experience as my knowledge of golf ends at a putt-putt course! The tournament is to support the Power Packs 4 Success Project I am hosting in the fall. We are looking to have 144 golfers, a great banquet, someone will win a 2007 Silverado, and in the end we will have raised enough money to support the project!
  • Throughout the month of July I am speaking at churches that are helping with the Power Pack Project. Each church is doing a school supply drive to fill the backpacks for elementary students in need. All that to say on Aug 1 I will be getting "Slimed" when they meet their goal...yikes!
  • August 26th is the big distribution day in which 700 inner city Las Vegas elementary students will receive a backpack filled with supplies on the first day of school. I will be doing an assembly to welcome the students back and give them their Power Packs!

God is at work and continuing to surprise me every day! My needs are met...but God also goes above and beyond and meets my desires to be used as well. Hopefully I'll be able to update more often... yet it's difficult to make these trips to Panera on a regular basis to use my Internet. :) And, it's just another excuse for a mango smoothie!

Sending some summer heat your way!!!


Friday, April 10, 2009

A good Good Friday :)


I can't believe it is already Easter time... what that means is that it is inching closer to the fact that I have already been here one year! Crazy! There are a lot of cool things in the mix! Yet first... and update on what's been going on!

*Currently I do not have Internet access in my apartment as the Oh-so-kind neighbor that I was previously "borrowing" my Internet from has moved. This has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I spend my time doing more active things, a curse because a girl that lives alone with no TV and no Internet ... just not cool! Although I must admit I don't spend much time at home.

*Robin and Homer Smith (from SAU) both came out and took LB1 2 weeks ago... yet not at the same time.. which is kind of funny! Both had great class experiences and enjoyed Vegas too! Robin and I took a trip to Red Rock for the morning and she bought me an annual pass to the park ... awesome!!

* Melissa, LD, and Clare took their first ever trip to Las Vegas... and actually Clare's first trip on a plane! She was a CHAMP the whole time among time changes, hours on a plane, and time off her mother's "Schedule." It was so fun as they got to do life with me for a whole week. Meliss and I went to Bible Study,LD enjoyed time in a real LV Poker Tournament, we hiked at Red Rock, went to the Belagio, the Piano Bar, Freemont street to see Kelly Pickler, and of course Melissa's favorite... YOGERTLAND! :) We did a lot yet it was a really relaxing visit. It was great to just have Meliss and LD here! I miss them a lot... and meliss says that means I'm supposed to move to NC. ha!

*I'm currently involved in an amazing Bible study every Thursday night! I absolutely love it! It's women from all ages and stages; about 12 of us. We are doing the Beth Moore study "Living Free." God has really been using this study and this group of women to keep me encouraged... yet I will admit I am extremely challenged by all of them as well!

*My office currently purchased a ping pong table and I'm not really a fan. All about having fun... not all about getting hit with ping pong balls! I'm the lucky girl that has a window into my cube directly behind the table... prayers or helmet needed :)

*This weekend I am spending Easter in Overton with Lindsey. She is in charge of running Outreach booths at the Clark County Fair and I will be hangin' with the cowboys haha!

There is a lot coming up and it's really exciting! I feel like tomorrow is June 1st. God continues to open doors for new opportunities.

* I'm currently in projection training once a week at work. This is training to strengthen my voice as well as teach me new breathing, speaking, and vocal techniques in speaking. It's a great learning experience and I'm pretty sure those living in my apt building LOVE when I practice! The reason for this training is that I am currently training a Level 2 Leadership class for high school students. This is a 6 hour class on effective communication and agreement gaining skills... in teen lingo - being liked and getting what you want :) I will be delivering this class in Calgary Canada April 16-22, Salt Lake City May 2-4, and back in Calgary Canada May 12-15.

* I AM MOVING!!!!!! Woo hoo!!! May 16th is the big day! Lindsey and I will be moving in together to a 2 bedroom/bathroom apt! This is a HUGE upgrade for me and I'm so excited!! I'm excited to have more space, less financial responsibility, and a friend to talk to when I get home everyday!!! I have realized how much I miss just having a physical person at home to talk to each day. We are both excited to be moving and have plans for a party underway :)

Man, that was a long update!!! Yet there always seems to be much going on! Life is fun... teaching me and growing me! Sometimes missing the comfort of home... oftentimes loving the adventure!

Have a wonderful Easter!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Caution: God At Work!!!


The past week or so has been absolutely amazing! It's crazy to think what has happened in the past year! My mind just can't comprehend where its been and where it going. God continues to leave His love notes everywhere for me to find as well as some challenges to keep me calling on Him.

Last week I had the opportunity to fly back to Michigan with Bridgit (my boss) for a truly awesome week. My worlds all seemed to come together and collide in some strange way... yet it was really unique too! Bridgit and I traveled to Spring Arbor University to meet with student/faculty Rapport grads as well as some future grads ;) to talk about how Rapport gets to support SAU moving forward. It was truly amazing to sit in a room and see how God was using me 2-4 years ago to prepare me for where I'm at in this moment. Relationships formed as far back as 5 years ago are just now beginning to reach a point of fruition and impacting people I haven't met and may never meet. It just continues to stretch my comprehension of God and how absolutely HUGE He is!!! And it also reinforces in me this desire to constantly nurture and pour into the people in my life because it may be my investments that God is using for a purpose much greater!!

The "Collision of the Worlds" did not stop there... :) Bridgit and I also traveled to my old high school, Franklin, where I delivered School Assemblies to students. Holy Smokes!!! High school students are just SO cool! I love that they make you work for their attention, but that once you capture it... they totally just "get it." It was awesome to sit in an auditorium with 800 teenagers as they proclaimed the dreams they had for their life, yet have been afraid to share. By far one of the coolest moments was when a student was selected to come on stage and in front of all of his peers made a phone call I believe he won't forget for a very long time. Chris made a call to his Dad to share with him all of the things he has never shared with him before... how much he loved him, what he appreciated about him, and as the phone call was coming to an end Chris asked to speak to his Mom as well. The phone call continued as this teenager shared with each of his family members what an impact they have had on his life. With an auditorium of students listening to every word... you could have heard a pin drop... students witnessed the recently crowned Home Coming King pour his heart out to the people that mean the most in his life.

When asking the teachers, "what is the number one challenge you see students facing right now" their response went straight to my heart: the economy. Teachers shared that 1 or 2 students every day walk in burdened that they have no where to live, they are losing their home, or a parent was just laid off. "Hopelessness" was the word that many gave me. What an opportunity I (and each of us have) to share hope with others... this ability to pick someone up and bring them to a place that is just high enough for them to catch a glimpse of their promise land to know that it still exists. I'm heartbroken for the current situation... yet highly motivated to be that opportunity for elevation to others.

That evening I went back to Jackson to attend church with Mike England and Kim Hayworth (from SAU). And God CONTINUED to show Himself as I simply experienced Him. After a few days of consciously looking for how God was at work it was so freeing to come before Him and give Him the praise He deserved.

Sunday I had the opportunity to share with the youth group at Merriman Road...and by this point I'm thinking... Okay God, really?! The opportunities just continued to present themselves. It was amazing to watch the school assembly I had just given be TRANSFORMED as I gave the same presentation, yet inserted the name of God into the equation and the power of that message grew! I found myself learning from the words I was speaking because it was obvious I had become the mouthpiece for the message God wanted to share.

One more story...I promise! Today, back in Las Vegas, I met with the principal at Hinman Elementary School (inner city Vegas) where I have put together a project to supply 700 students with back packs filled with school supplies for next fall. This school is tubular (for the purpose of using a word other than amazing). I'm looking for ways to get our community to join together to meet a need and this one simply popped up in perfect timing. Today I had the chance to play with the students, go in and out of classrooms, meet faculty, and be a kid!! :) The staff were simply amazing as they shared with me their passion for these students and their development. The school has a "clothes closet" on campus to provide for children who are homeless or in need. It's a rough place to be in... yet the school counselor looked at me and said "I have the BEST job in the whole world!" I can't wait to see where this project leads!!

I could go on and on about the ways in which my life was blessed and how God is at work ... and it just makes me so very excited to move forward WITH God. I do realize the challenge that goes with that. I get to continue to familiarize myself with the voice of God so that I may be obedient ... and I get to continue to add armor as I march forward. Yet what a great place to be in!

With much gratitude!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The blonde has gone...

And the brunette is here to stay! Yes, it's true! After living life as a blonde I decided change is always a good thing and took the plunge! Yet, I told Breann at work today... it's my heart that's blonde... not my hair! And I prove that WAY too often :)

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to New Port Beach, CA and LOVED it! 80 degree weather and the ocean...sigh! I went with some others from work to a seminar called "THE STAND" put on by Justin Fitica (a Christian), author of Hard as Nails. I've heard his stuff before and was a bit nervous about going just because the approach is quite different than I'm used to. However, it was a great experience! The main message was about taking a stand for those in your life that don't take a stand for themselves. After the seminar we ate dinner down on the boardwalk, spent some time on the beach, and retired to our rooms! Breann and I decided we were going to make it a true vacation and woke up to room service breakfast in our PJs on the balcony looking at the water. AMAZING!! I've never done anything like that before in my life... and the $$$ of it means its probably going to be a while before I do it again! :)

This week I am preparing for my trip to Michigan (March 11-16). I'm excited to mix a little bit of work with a little bit of play :) I'll be doing Student Assemblies in Livonia, Garden City, and Detroit, as well as heading up to Spring Arbor University to meet with some of the Rapport Grads and go to church. And while I'm home I get to celebrate my birthday with the fam and catch up with some friend! Love it!

Just around the corner, when I get back to Vegas I am heading to L.A.with Lindsey to celebrate my Birthday in Hollywood! Woo hoo! We are staying in Hollywood... taking the Walk of Fame, visiting the Hollywood sign, going to the beach, and of course searching for a trace of someone famous. However, we were also personally invited by the winner of the TV show "Bromance" to go hang out as well. That's looking a bit shady... but we will certainly see :)

And it would be a complete shame if I did not verbalize my disappointment with the TV show The Bachelor. Although I must say the "fellowship" (as we called it) that took place around the show was quite enjoyable :)

Well, this brunette needs to catch some shut eye!
Happy March!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A little bit of everything

A night at the Fountains ... my favorite!
A picture with the Birthday Girl (Gabby turned 1) and Lindsey... my soon to be roomie!
Gabby digging into her Birthday Cake! YUM :)

Cooking up a Valentine's Day Surprise in my new apron :)

Happy Valentine's day!! Of course I am sending love and WARM wishes to you all the way from Las Vegas! Today the sun was shining and the temperature hit 70 and it was great!! My laptop is still set for Michigan and I'm always reminded of the cold when I log in... I'm blessed :)
Today I had quite the surprise as I was purchasing my plane ticket to head to Detroit for work in March I realized that I have a 1.5 hour lay over in Charlotte, NC so Meliss and Clare are going to meet me for a coffee date... just flyin' in for some coffee with my big sis :)
This weekend is a relaxing weekend just hanging out at home... I honestly don't remember when I had one of those! And I'm taking full advantage of it! Pampering myself with a haircut tomorrow and a clean sweep at home.
Work has completely taken a HUGE shift for me this week... although I have always enjoyed my job... this week has been different. I feel as though I have found my niche and enjoy all of the elements of what I do. I was told (before leaving home) that if I find a job that I absolutely love then I will never have to go to work again. Although I don't know that Rapport is a forever thing... I do know it's a God thing. And I absolutely love where He has lead me. Through the backpack drive to the Children's Heart foundation camp to hosting the Nation-wide Rapport Teen Speaking Contest I feel as though I'm reaching out in my community and making an impact... and that is where I strive to be! Simply knowing that who I am makes a difference in this world. I love that God picked me to be a part of this!
I'm growing...I'm being challenged daily! I'm being stretched outside of my comfort zone... and I believe that's where the most growth take place. There are days that I miss playing an active role in the lives of my friends and family, yet there is no way I can complain!
If you are up for a vacation to somewhere warm, sunny, and has palm trees...give me a call! :) ...still it's strange that I live here!
Miss you!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Buzz Buzz Buzz

Hello all!

I've been a very busy little bee the past month! It seems like the week just flies by so quickly (and really I wouldn't have it any other way!) I've had the opportunity to do some great "Vegas things" as well. I went to a hockey game with Rapport, a Rebels UNLV Basketball game (tickets that my friend Lindsey won for telling a gross story on the radio), as well as attending the 2009 Miss America Pageant hosted at the Planet Hollywood Casino (tickets given to me by a client from work). It's all been a ton of fun and I feel like I've actually done things that only Vegas locals would do :)

Besides simply going out on the town (ha!) life in general keeps me busy. Work is going well ... I recently found out I will be the host of the 2009 Children's Heart Foundation Camp that is hosted at our Rapport Executive Retreat Center. The camp is 3 days long for students (and their families) who have recently had heart transplants as well as those living with heart disease. I'm really excited about it and feel so honored that I was asked to put the project together. Along with that I am getting ready to launch our "Power Packs for Success" project that will allow our staff as well as Rapport Graduates to donate a "power pack" (back pack) filled with school supplies for an inner city elementary school here in Vegas. And last, but certainly not least I will be heading to Michigan March 11-15 to do some schools assemblies (including Franklin High School). I still have a few spots available for my trip if you know of any schools interested. I'm very excited that I finally am able to do what I'm most passionate about... that is meeting new people, sharing my passion, and allowing others to see life through a new set of eyes. My own portion of the website will be up next week (fingers crossed). You can see it at just click on School Assemblies. (If it's not there when you visit the site it means that it's just not up yet).

I'm staying active in my church as well. We recently just changed locations (outgrowing the old building). We are not meeting at Silverado High School in Las Vegas where attendance has sky rocketed to 2,000! God is unbelievable! I normally attend the Saturday night Services and hang out with friends after. Sunday nights I continue to mentor my 6-7th grade girls and attend "Refuge." Currently I'm looking at starting a small group in the fall for single ladies ages 22-30 to meet once a week. I figure if God has given me eyes to see the need then He has also given me the heart to meet it. I'm continuing to pray over exactly what that looks like!

No week would be complete without some time with the girls :) Every Monday night my apartment transforms into THE BACHELOR stadium! And I LOVE IT! A few of the girls from church come over and we make dinner, watch The Bachelor, and rant/rave over the drama we are so thankful our lives lack :)

As I draw closer to the time when my lease will be up in my apartment I am continuing to pray that God will send me to exactly the right place in this town. Lindsey and I will be moving in together... the question now is simply "where?" And all in the perfect timing we will know :) I am excited about having a roommate again... just to have someone to talk about the day with is a nice life addition (not to mention the perks of splitting rent!!!!)

Like I said life continues to move forward and with it I continue to move! My learning curve never ceases to amaze me... last month was learning how to pay student loans and this month....TAXES!! God bless us all :)

Sending love from the West Coast!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Changing the World

This past weekend I was re-framed by 9 close friends that came to visit. Visiting me was really not the bullet point on the agenda (instead just an added bonus as I see it) they came to attend the young adult Leadership Breakthrough One (18-22) class at Rapport. Every single one of those students left Las Vegas saying... "Thank you, this experience has changed my life" yet what they don't realize is that they played an important part in changing mine!

As I spoke with each of them debriefing their experience and looking at life through new sets of eyes, the lessons of my own Leadership Breakthrough One experience as well as lessons I had never learned before re-framed the way I see my life! I was reminded today in an Email that I received saying: "You said that it only takes 3% to make a change...I want to be a part of that! I want to LIVE my dash. THAT'S ALL!" Powerful words, spoken by a powerful leader! What would happen if each of us decided we were dedicating our lives to living as a part of the 3% that WILL change the world!?I told each of the graduating students that they were selected to go to this class because I saw the "difference-makers" they are in their world! And that if each of them commits to living as an agent of positive change in their world... the rest of the world begins to take care of itself!

All of a sudden not only do I see this change as a responsibility, I also see it as a HUGE opportunity. For maybe the first time I see that I have access to a tool that truly allows people to see their potential unleashed in the world! One student stood up and shared ... "I finally see what you've seen in me all along!" What would happen if young people began to really understand their own strength, ability, and the difference they bring to this world! And perhaps the most amazing thing about it all was that these students had stood and publicly given all the glory to God! Not only are we talking about difference makers in the world... we are talking about ambassadors for Christ comprehending Jer. 29:11 - (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future!) And staking claim on it for their own lives!

I continue to approach this role that God has directed me to fill for this chapter of my life with gratitude and with a heart eager to learn from others! I'm ready to step it up and to truly BE the change!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!!!

Happy New Year!!! I wish that I could tell you that my new year's eve was filled with fun, fireworks on the strip, and friends... but in all honesty...I fell asleep at about 9:30. Partly because I'm lame...partly because of Michigan jet lag, but MOSTLY because I have an awful cold that has completely wiped me out! I've spent the first day of the new year in my PJs, watching movies, reading, and drinking hot cider... not a bad day :)

I was able to go home to Michigan for a week and spend some much needed time with my family! It was great to have EVERYONE back together again! I can't believe how many changes have taken place in the last 6 months let alone the last year! I graduated from college, moved to Las Vegas, a niece and a nephew were added to my life, I have my own place and a career...and that is just the change that can be seen on the outside! The past year has been filled with SO much growth its hard to believe I was a part of it all.

Next week my Mom is coming out to visit and I have 8 SAU students and my cousin Kevin coming out to Las Vegas to attend Leadership Breakthrough One (18-22). It will be SO awesome to have them all here, but also to watch them go back home and live!! When my boss and I go out there in Feb/March it will be interesting to see the impact it has made on the SAU Campus!

I will be heading home in Feb/March to do a couple of High School Assemblies. I'll keep you posted on the dates.

As always, I continue to learn more and more the longer I'm away. I told my family that I need to either start dating someone or get a roommate because the more time I spend by myself the more selfish I can feel myself getting! Ha!

Here are some of the new discoveries I have made:
  • The importance of leaving your heat on when you are away for a week in the winter
  • It takes approximately 3.5 hours to heat a small apt after leaving the heat off for a week in the winter
  • And last... but certainly not least... how important it is to have a girl tool kit handy at all times (Thanks Crouson's for the gift!!)

Yet it's that time of year to say out with the old and in with the new... I know several new life lessons are waiting just around the corner of 2009! Wishing you all a wonderful year ahead and thanking you for yet another year well spent!

Sending Love...