Friday, December 31, 2010

The End of a Year and the end of a goal!

This year has been so great! We celebrated so many things- birthdays, anniversaries, banquets, benefits, we hung out with old friends and made some really good new ones, we said goodbye to some families, and hello to a few babies! We were so blessed in so many ways. Take a look at a few of the highlights!


Since then our friend Falyn who we were visiting has moved back to Texas!!!



Taylor made it to an Extreme Makeover Home Edition reveal!!!



Teddi was "re-adopted"! We love our little sister!



We got to visit friends Tia and Joey in CT with a day trip to NYC!!



We ran the CHF 5K!!!



We attended to the 3rd annual Children's Hunger Fund Banquet!



We ate PB&J sandwiches almost every day as we let our original Food Pak Adventure change they way we ate all year!


And so much more! Thank you everyone for following along with us through this year, you have been a great blessing to us, hope to see you next year, too!

And because it was such a great year we have something big to end it with... At the beginning of the year we said that we wanted to raise enough money to build well. Now it is time for our final update and it starts back with Aunt Amy... She really had a heart for what we were doing, so much that she held a meeting this summer with the family. With everyone there she presented her plan to replace the gifts that they would normally receive from Papa with money. Cash for everyone! And Papa and his handyman self would build a well to represent what we wanted to share with the world. So this year for Christmas we all received money and as fast as we got it we put it all in! We dumped our pockets, including the money we had been saving up in Houston, in San Antonio, in Adrian, in Battle Creek, and in Tipton. Everyone pitched in and our water jars overflowed into the well! Everyone shared their stories, their memories, their accomplishments, their love for one another. We shared over Skype and over the phone. We are so thankful for the families that God has given us! Thankful that they believed that we could do this and thankful that they wanted to be a part of it in a big way! Thank you so much to everyone one who helped!

Here are some pictures from the night (via Skype)! All the family in Michigan was at Papa and Gma's house on the 29th for their big Christmas celebration! The little ones opened a few gifts along with their dollars and everyone ate lots of good food I hear! ;) The family here in Texas received cash as well and we had our own little photo of the well from Papa!
In go the money jars!

Inside the well!

Aunt Amy, Landon, and the well!

The Winder and Rodriguez well monies!

So you wanna know the grand total?!?!?!

At the end of the night all monies were counted from all families and all projects from the year. Cousins calculated on their phones and through the phone with my Mom, connected via Skype, we heard this number all the way from Michigan...

$6,947.50

And Papa pitched in out of pocket to bump it up to an even $7, 000!!! Way to go guys! What a beautiful Christmas gift to our King! What a beautiful way to end the year!

More Water Warriors

We have a big announcement to make but before we do we still have a lot of people to thank!
Along with Tina making bracelets, Amy making crafts, and Thayne sharing with his co-workers, we have many more great stories to share! So many in fact that we hope we mention them all... really we just keep hearing about more and more. It really is incredible!

Uncle Tad and his family gave up drinks for awhile and saved money by only drinking water. Yep, no coffee, Dr. Pepper, or energy drinks! They also put together a yard sale! Thanks guys you are so awesome!

Aunt Jodi donated early in the year when she heard what we were doing. But she and Uncle Fritz and their family set an amount that they would donate monthly and found ways to meet that goal. Not only that but Bo's girlfriend, Emily, used an assignment for school to spread the word. She put together a power point presentation about the need for clean water and she raised $70 that day! Amazing!

We would also like to say thank you to North Rome Baptist Church where Uncle Fritz pastors for the collection they took to donate to the well! What great hearts you all have.

Thank you to all who bought water bracelets and for all who gave donations above and beyond the "asking price" straight from the heart! It means so much to us and it means life for His children!

So many people came together to meet this need. So many hearts wanted this dream to come true. So many people prayed and so many people worked really hard to raise this money. We have the final count and we know God was behind all of this and that he made our final amount possible. But before we let you in on the total we have one more story to share, don't worry we will be posting it today!

Hope you enjoy the last day of 2010! It truly has been a blessed year! :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

We just wanted to say Merry Christmas! Here is the video we made for the Advent Conspiracy contest. This shows how we have spent our Christmas this year. :)



Merry Christmas to you and yours from Taylor and Frankie!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Water Warriors

We are only nine days away from the end of our goal! And we are truly blessed by the ways that others have contributed. What is amazing to us is that when we set this goal we did not plan or expect any funding from other people. We didn't know how we were going to raise the money but we trusted God and knew that if he put it on our hearts to build a well, He would make it happen.
We did not recruit the aid of family members, other that taking items off their hands to sell at our yard sales. We did not post a link asking others to donate on our blog. We did not rely on anyone except for God. He is our motivator and He enlisted the hearts of the many people that have aided us in our journey.
As far as I know we did not ask Tina, Teddi, and Brogan to make bracelets (but we did ask if we could help after they started)! And we did not ask for an aunt and her family in Michigan along with 6 other families to give up all drinks except for water for two weeks to save money for the same well... Our next Water Warrior is Amy Asaro! She has been so wonderful! She organized an awesome water party to get her friends involved in spreading awareness about the water crisis and saving money for clean water. And she hand crafted gift bags to sell at a local craft fair to raise even more love for water. She is such an inspiration! Even her teenage son, Thayne took the word to his work to encourage his employees to take part in the water project! And they aren't done yet! But you will have to wait to find out how she inspired a whole family to change their Christmas this year!

So today we want to say thanks to Amy and Thayne Asaro! The Asaro family has raised over $600 so far and they rock our socks off! You guys are so great and such an inspiration to us! Thanks for all your hearts and all your hard work. We miss you guys and can't wait to hug your necks next time we see you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Menu Monday

Today (err... yesterday) is the day! The last Menu Monday! For one year we have been eating for $10 dollars a week between the two of us. For one year we have been matching our own food budget with donations to food and water organizations for others. For one year we have learned some of what it means to sacrifice what we could have for what people should have.

The hardest part was getting used to not being able to drive through and pick up something to eat. We would do that almost every Friday on our way to San Antonio, it was easy, it was fast. But now we had to plan ahead and pack food to eat on the road.

One of the best things that we took from this experience is the time we spent together working on this project. Planning our menu, shopping together, working as a team to score some deals. Also, how blessed we truly were with people who wanted to bless us with food and how God always always took care of our needs.

So it was a good year, and we felt it was well worth it and it will definitely change how we eat in the future.

This week's Menu Monday is a short one. Taylor is going to San Antonio to spend some time with her family as her brothers come to visit. So I just need a few things to eat till Thursday- pizza sounds good! So I just need some tomato sauce, cheese, and a few tomatoes (to make my new Margarita creation!)

Thanks for following along on our adventure! We will begin with a new one next year! We have been preparing and are excited to be able to join in something that so many are doing already. Just another way to share how God has blessed us in our lives. :)

*Update

Well we won't need to buy sauce, cheese, and tomatoes.  Frankie decided that because he is working late Tuesday and Wednesday that he didn't need food because the office covers dinner.  And Thursday we have a  coupon for a free Whataburger!  So it will be eggs and for lunch and peanut butter and crackers.  Guess we get to save our $20 these two weeks for another day.  :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Well...

As most of you know one of the goals that we set for this year was to build a well. :)

We have been very blessed in our fund raising efforts. We have had two very profitable garage sales, have accepted donations as birthday and anniversary gifts, and have even worked over time to put a little extra in the jar. So far our total is around $2,800.00! UNBELIEVABLE! God is so great at providing!

We aren't at our $5,000.00 goal yet... but we are not worried. Only two weeks to the day til the end of the year and we are not worried about the other $2,200.00 because we have some great partners helping us with this great mission. :) We would like to feature the people and show them our thanks in the next few posts.

So today we want to shine the spot light on The Winders! That's right! Taylor's family has taken part in the fun. Her mom, little brother, and sister have started making bracelets under the name clearly love. These beautiful bracelets were created by the three of them in many different colors and styles. Each one hosted a clear bead to represent clean water and what the bracelets stood for. After just a few weeks of announcing these gifts on Facebook and at church the Winder family has raised nearly $350.00!!! Wow! We are so grateful for their hard work and participating in building the well.


Speaking of clean water... We did do our giveaway (the video ate up most of our time) but we haven't shared who the winner was. So congrats to Sonia from his hands his feet! She won the $10 Living Water gift card. With this gift card you can chose where to spend your ten dollars... you pick what to fund. A few of the options are school children in Uganda, hospitals in Kenya, unreached tribes in the Amazon, and house churches in India. Have fun shopping! For more information on that go here.


Also to learn more information about clean water through charity:water watch ABC 20/20 tonight to see a well being drilled!

Thanks again for your help Winder Family, we can't do it without you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

[Advent Conspiracy Film Contest] Please Vote!

We finished our video, give more presence, and you can watch and vote for it here!

We will post it on our blog later but right now we really want you to see it on the [AC] website so you have the opportunity to click the thumbs up vote if you like it! A video from each category will be selected based on votes and judging to win a trip to see a well being dug in a developing country. :)


Monday, December 13, 2010

Toy Land Update and 2 Cute Little Elves!

Toy Land moved from our living room/dining room/bed room, to our truck, then to an apartment complex down the road as we delivered all the wrapped gifts to some neighbor families who have recently relocated to Houston from afar. We were overjoyed to be able to take these gifts and meet the families who were receiving them! They invited us in for soda, juice, and cookies, and we got to sit and visit with some of the children, moms, and dads. We shared the story of the candy cane with some, the reason for gift giving and Christmas with others, and the rest we simply shared the love of Jesus as neighbors, as new friends. For most of these families it was their first ever Christmas. We are so glad we got to make their transition to America a little bit kinder and their Christmas happy. :)

We weren't able to take pictures or videos with the families for their protection, but here is a snippet from the kids who also had fun meeting some kids from other cultures and handing out candy canes. :)

video

Such stinkin cuties! So proud of these little elves who walked with us for hours visiting family upon family with such little complaints. I hope that this time was a blessing for them as well, as Mom continues to teach them what it looks like to love as Jesus loves.

Thanks to Dad for helping us get all packed up at the last minute and to Mom and the little elves for helping us deliver! And thanks to Ecclesia church and our new friend Nicci who introduced to all these wonderful families! It was a beautiful experience!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Toy Land!

Welcome to Toy Land!


We have been very busy...


sorting toys for girls and boys...


And today we finally got the list, woohoo!


Names and ages for the children we will be delivering to.


We went one by one till everyone had a great toy!


Now they sit waiting to be wrapped with joy.


God bless these toys and help them show love to some wonderful kids this year.


Taylor just can't keep her excitement in...


Frankie-in-the-box popped up just in time for the picture!


It was a bit overwhelming, pulling out all of the toys we have bought this year... We couldn't believe we had so many stashed away! And there are still a few that we have to pick up for older kids.

This has been such a blessing and joy to us. We feel like God has called us to give and show love to his children this Christmas. And so we bought toys, and we waited for the right opportunity. Can you believe that the people that we found to serve are just a few blocks away! Out of the whole City of Houston we were called to help our neighbors. :)

What are you doing this year for your neighbors? Let us know and you will be entered into our giveaway for a Living Water gift card.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Menu Monday


Two more cycles and we are done for the year. It is so hard to believe that!

This is what we picked up for the next few weeks.
Turkey-loaf, Spaghetti, and Pizza are a few things on the menu.
We picked up some breakfast things, and a few snacks. :)
Taylor will be in San Antonio next week so this should be more then enough to last me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More Christmas Giving and Cards that Give, too!

If you remember back to our "Christmas in July" post, we have a lot of toys! A lot of toys that we collected at very good prices, saving them for Christmas time- for Angel Trees, collection boxes, and other opportunities. We've been seeking and praying for a home for these toys, but also hoping for an opportunity to maybe be a part of the delivery.

Shoebox time came around and we used our little goodies to fill em up! Those shoeboxes will be carried off to Nicaragua and Haiti soon! Then the angel tree went up at church and since we were a little late we nabbed the last five angels off the tree- teenagers who we split between us, my parents, and Frankie's mom and sister. So between us we bought bikes, cameras, cologne, Snuggies, shoes, and hair straighteners that got dropped off at church this morning to go to local foster kids. Then the angel tree went up at the mall. We looked for angels that matched the toys we had but were overwhelmed by the number and really really wanted to be a part of something a little more.

My mom reminded us that God would provide a way to get these toys to children who needed them. She also gave us a tip- ask the church! As soon as she said that I remembered the Iraqi Refugees who we helped provide school supplies for in August with our Houston church, Ecclesia. So I emailed the same contact who promptly let me know that he had no idea what if any projects were going on through the church for Christmas. But he forwarded my email to another gal who's response was simply delightful (and very quick)!

I definitely know lots of refugee families who have kids & we could absolutely arrange some time to do a Christmas toy delivery & I'm so glad you'd like to be involved in the delivery--that is even better. It is so wonderful to be able to introduce Christmas to them.

She was so receptive of our idea and is providing just the opportunity for us to get the toys to children in need and to be a part of it! Ecclesia is great at doing this. Our pastor has said before that if you have an idea don't bring it to the church and expect them to do it, but bring it to the church and they will help you however they can. This is exactly that! I am so proud of the church for helping us do this and so thankful that God has provided this perfect opportunity for us! We will be taking the toys next weekend! We can't wait!

As an added bonus, we were just introduced to another great opportunity to serve these people. We all can! Just hop on over here and check out some beautiful Christmas cards that some of the refugees made! They are for sale for only $10 for 10 (with envelopes) and so close to reaching their selling goal! What a great way to share the message of Christmas while sharing the message of Christ! ;) We are going to by ours right now!!!


DSC018582-212x290.jpg



While you're there, click the link that says Read About the Artists. Read their life stories, how they came to live in the US, and what the money helps them do. They are interesting. They talented. They are hurting. They are people. And they live in the midst of us, in fact 8 minutes from our own apartment complex!!! All around, people have great need. That's why we are choosing to let them know that Jesus loves them and so do we during this life changing season when Christ was born to show us that God loves us.

Happy second Sunday of Advent! :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Official TaylorFrankie Christmas List 2010!

We have [finally] compiled a collection of items that give with dual purposes- they are delightful for the receiver and do good for those who sell them! This includes one-for-one programs like TOMS shoes, fair trade items which promote sustainable business and break cycles of poverty and dependency in the developing world, as well as adoption fundraising support, and more! This allows loved ones who want to purchase gifts for each other to give something meaningful to someone while still making a difference. [Give more.]

We cannot neglect however, the gifts that go directly to helping those in need. These are very much a blessing to us knowing that those in great need are receiving help from loving organizations. This includes items such as the Food Pak(R) and other items from Children's Hunger Fund's uniquely crafted "menu" or a goat or other animals that provide nourishment and extra income from World Vision's gift catalogue. And of course we LOVE water! This year Living Water International has great giftcards that lets the recipient choose the clean water project! [Spend less.]




So enjoy our picks for this year whether you are purchasing these [awesome] tangible items or simply purchasing hope. :)
Christmas can change the world, either way.


1. TOMS Shoes, for each pair of shoes purchased another is given to a child in need, $69.00 toms.com. 2. Dop Bag Toiletries Pouch, made from recycled tires, promotes social and economic welfare of artisans in India, $19.00 TradeAsOne. 3. Darfur's Tears T by Rob Gould, for each t-shirt you buy an orphan is given a school uniform, $33.00 CommonThreadz. 4. Tablecloth, made by women in the slums of Mumbia using organic cotton, vegetable dyes, hand-block printing and embroidery, $49.00 TradeAsOne. 5. Candle in Water Buffalo Horn, from shed horns that are typically wasted resources providing vital and fair income, $12.00 TradeAsOne. 6. Apple Ipod Nano, portion of the profits goes to (RED), 8 GB $149.00/16 GB $179.00. 7. Nabali Tree Olive Oil (500ml), provides stable income for Palestinian rural communities caught in conflict, $18.50 TradeAsOne. 8. Recycled Billboard Cooler Bag, made from non-recyclable plastics bought from the trash picking communities in Jakarta, Indonesia, $45.00 TradeAsOne. 9. The Secret Agent (RED) Edition, 50% of the profits go to (RED), Penguin Classics.




10. One Orphan at a Time T, part of the proceeds benefit a family's adoption plus it's great advocacy, $22.99 AdoptionBug.com 11. TOMS Shoes, for each pair of shoes purchased another is given to a child in need, $54.00 TOMS.com. 12. Ugandan Magazine Necklace, handmade, upcycled necklaces by the Karamojong women working to maintain sustainable income for their families and 50%+ profits go back to a kids feeding program nearby, $20 147 Million Orphans. 13. Akun Bracelets, (Cambodian for "thank you") each unique bracelet is handwoven by human trafficking survivors undergoing rehabilitation, $15 Somaly Mam Foundation, Empowerment Store. 14. Batik Rings Bag, fabric is hand batiked in Ghana and made into a bag in Guatemala providing fair and dignified employment to impoverished women, $33 TradeAsOne. 15. (Starbucks) Red Giftcard, each purchase made with this card helps fight AIDS in Africa, $15/$25/$50/$100 Starbucks. 16. Handcrafted Piggy Bank, a free gift for making a micro loan for those in need to start small business world wide, $20 MicroPlace.com (scroll right through pictures, other great ideas available here!) 17. Divine Dark Chocolate, fair trade and organic from the first farmer-owned chocolate company in the world, made with 70% Ghanian cocoa, $3.99 TradeAsOne. 18. Iron Star Ornament, promoting social and economic welfare of artisans in India, $7 TradeAsOne. 19. "Free" Tote, produced by human trafficking survivors in Cambodia, all profits go toward new production centers for survivors in 2011, $25 MadeBySurvivors.com. 20. Ada, an Acorn Angel, created by a sweet 11 year old girl helping to raise funds for her friend's family's adoption, $2.50 AcornAngels. 21. "Advent: A Family Guide to Savoring Christ in Christmas" by Marci Miller, prepare yourself for a whole-hearted celebration of the coming of Christ and proceeds help fund the author's adoption, $11.04 SheCanLaugh.blogspot.com.



As an early Christmas present to one of our readers, we want to give you something from our list! We are giving away a $10 Living Water gift card! You can spend it yourself, choosing which part of the world you would like to make an impact on, or use it as a Christmas present for a loved one! To be eligible to win, leave us a comment telling us how you are going to [Spend less.] [Give more.] or do Christmas differently to make it more meaningful! We'll draw a name next Saturday, the 11th so get to conspiring! ;)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Brainstorming...

Happy Thursday and December 2nd! Today we are brainstorming about a new project. :)
You have heard us talk about Advent Conspiracy before, and how we really want to change Christmas this year. Well, here is our chance! Turns out that Advent Conspiracy is holding a video contest and the goal is to promote how Christmas can change through the AC principals. (Perfect right!?)

[Worship Fully]

[Spend Less]

[Give More]

[Love All]

We don't have much time, it is due on the 15th! And then we will only have 5 days for voting! We will have a lot of catching up to do since others already have theirs posted and are well into voting. So we will need every one's help to pick us! Why do we need votes? Well, because the winners get to go on a trip with Living Water to help document the drilling of a live water well in a developing country! How cool is that! So here's hoping we can pull it off! First step- find a video camera...

For more information on the contest and how you can enter or to see videos that have already been posted go here.

We'll be back tomorrow with the official TaylorFrankie Christmas List!!!