Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Fun!

Merry Christmas to all of you!!! Hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends in honor of our King! :)

We had a really great Christmas! Complete with an awesome story to go along with our Toy Closet again this year. So here it is! The story of our second annual Toy Closet Adventure. Ooooo boy, get ready!

As we did last year, we started shopping early, hitting up sales and using our shopping secrets. Although we moved and don't have an actual closet this year, we still managed to stash all our goodies until we were ready to give them away. And if you don't know what I am talking about go here to learn about last year's Toy Closet Adventure that began it all! (Side note- it is my favorite post that I have ever written!)

First, we had to figure out what to do with the toys when the time came... We do donate to toy drives but we also enjoy taking out toys and actually giving them to children. There is something that's missing when you just drop off a toy rather then deliver it to someone. Plus, the look on their faces is just awesome.

So when we were thinking about a place to go we remembered our cousin Kaitlyn when she stayed in the hospital. We happened to visit her on Halloween and they were having a party when we showed up and took all the kids trick-or-treating around to different parts of the hospital. It was a lot of fun and the kids really enjoyed it! We thought that they may do a similar thing for Christmas and wondered if we could assist in providing toys for the kiddos. We thought it would be a great way to give back to the people that helped take care of our family and bring some cheer to families spending their holidays in the hospital. So after a couple calls, we got in touch with Meg, the nurse in charge of organizing the Halloween event. We told her our idea and what we had and asked if there was any opportunity for us to come and give these toys to the kids. She was so excited and said that the best time to do this would be when Santa comes, but that they hadn't been able to find a Santa yet... Taylor so wished she knew a Santa when she hung up the phone... but then remembered.... not only do we know a Santa, we know the best Santa in San Antonio and he goes to our church! After talking to Mrs. Claus and figuring out a date that would work for everyone, we had a Santa booked for them! (Check out his awesomeness here!)

Every little detail was falling into place... any problem that came up quickly worked itself out before we had time to worry about it... it was amazing and obviously carefully coordinated by someone other than ourselves. Funny how God's got your back when you are doing what He made you to do. ;)

When the day finally came (we had to wait all the way til the 23rd!) we all showed up and shared in the excitement of watching the kids (and lots of nurses!) light up with joy as they saw Santa coming down the hall and to their rooms. We delivered gifts and candy canes and lots of giggles to patients in their rooms and then headed to the play room for story time with Mrs. Claus and more kids visiting with Santa. We even went down to the ER to share some smiles! It was so wonderful hearing the kids excitedly thank Santa for the gifts and it really did warm our hearts. Toy Closet - you did it again! What a great way to spend time together sharing God's love! It was a beautiful day and we were all so blessed to be a part of it!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to Kara Starr for winning our "Start Something That Matters" giveaway! She is following her passions and hopes to make a difference! Be looking for your book in the mail soon!

Also, we are so busy this week! Printing last minute LOVE:water shirts to be sent out tomorrow, as well as working on the kid's shirts. Also this week we are delivering our toys from our toy closet! We haven't shared that with you yet but be looking for that post in the next few days. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Official TaylorFrankie Christmas List - Part 2!

1. Hand Drawn Dots Ash - What wish list would be complete without TOMS shoes? These would be a great addition to my collection. Aren't they fun?! TOMS Shoes
2. Classic 301 - New to the TOMS family, these stylish sunglasses look good and do good, too! Each purchase helps give life saving sight to a person in need. So cool!! TOMS Eyewear
3. Jute Pencil Case - This nifty little zipper case is great for any little doo-dads. It's awesome and it provides work for vulnerable women in Cambodia. Love it!! Trade As One
4. The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer - Mints, gum, coffee, and a shirt that all give back to a variety of causes! Plus they look cool and taste yummy! Yes, please!! Project 7
5. Paracord Bracelet for Honduras - A blogger friend's daughter has decided to make these to support Touch a Life Center in Honduras after being moved by their work while on a missions trip. They are super neat and you can order them in a variety of colors! Awesome!! Wherever He Leads Us
6. Kiva Cards - These unique gift cards let the recipient choose a project to loan the money to. From helping Caleb run a green grocery store in Kenya to providing a group of women funds to purchase threads and fabric for their dressmaking shop. Give away!! Kiva
7. Toys - I love toys! And apparently so do kids. :) Children's Hunger Fund wraps and distributes thousands to children in the US and around the world to bring smiles at Christmastime! Anyone can help support this project and others through their gift catalogue. Fun, fun!! Children's Hunger Fund
8. "Kisses from Katie" - This is a story of Christ's grace as Katie serves him with her life in Uganda. Her blog is heart breaking, inspiring, and a beautiful portrait of Christ's love. So moving. Amazima Ministries
9. Feed 10 Bag with Pouch - Fun and flexible, this bag works for all kinds of fun things! With its purchase, 10 meals are provided to school children through United Nations World Food Programme's School Feeding program. Feed me! FEED
10. Faith Shirts - Super excited about this one! Brogan came up with this design (inspired by our LOVE shirts) to benefit Children's Hunger Fund! Each shirt features Faith with an apple symbolizing the good it does for kids and families in need! So proud of him! Faith, Hope, and Love Shirts

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week 4 - Love All

God’s love has no boundaries. Ours does.

That’s why it’s important that we practice love intentionally. Our love starts to look more like God’s when we stretch its boundaries—to the lonely, the imprisoned, the homeless, the hungry, and the thirsty.

We hope this Advent season has prepared you to Love All: your family, the hard-to-love, and the overlooked in your community. We also hope you will join us in demonstrating God’s boundless love by loving people who desperately need safe drinking water, and with it living water, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thank you for sharing a bit of your Advent season with us. We hope it has been one filled with all the hope, joy and love that God placed in a manger more than 2,000 years ago.
Wishing you a joyful, peaceful Christmas,
Your Living Water Family

This is our favorite part of Advent Conspiracy and Christmas! We love to love! It's fun and fulfilling. It's what we were made to do. You and me, us, all of us. We were made to love - God and our neighbors. So what better time to remember and celebrate that purpose than for our Savior's birthday?!

And if you believe that the love shouldn't stop when the presents are unwrapped, join us on a journey of love. Next year we have come up with a theme that will take us through the steps of "Living Simply to Love Others". One theme, 12 months, and a whole lot of LOVE!

Remember that this isn't just a Christmas thing... Advent Conspiracy doesn't have to end with the season. There are so many ways to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all, year round!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Official TaylorFrankie Christmas List 2011 - Part 1!

Each year we search the internet for some of the coolest gifts that give back. I know we are a little late with the TaylorFrankie lists but there is still time and who wouldn't want these gifts all year round? Some of these products make the list every year but some of them are new and a few are being revealed here on our list for the first time ever! So check out my list and be on the look out for Taylor's coming soon!

1. TOMS - These TOMS are awesome! TOMS gives a pair of shoes for every pair that you buy and start at $45.00 for the classics- that is not a bad deal. TOMS

2. Hello Somebody - This one is new to our blog. We have been keeping it a secret from you for a bit. We heard about them from our friends at Bless Your Heart. For just $25 you get this sweet watch offered in a variety of colors plus kids receive food and education. Hello Somebody

3. Starburst Basket - Hand crafted by women in Uganda, this bowl is stunning! Even more beautiful is that this bowl gives work to a family in Uganda that can now support themselves. "Gifts that bridge worlds and rebuild lives". Women's Peace Collection

4. Bibles - CHF's menu has always made its way on to my list. This year why not give bibles in the name of someone you love? Children's Hunger Fund

5. Hope Shirt - This shirt was designed and is being sold by Taylor's 6 year old sister. She has always had a heart for Haiti and knows the importance of food and shelter for everyone.

6. Project 7 Gum - Did you know for less than $18 you can buy 12 packs of this gum and at the same time 10 fruit trees magically appear on our planet? Project 7

7. TOMS Eye Wear - The newest TOMS product! For each pair of glasses you buy you give sight to someone else. TOMS

8. Feed Bags - There are so many Feed Bags to chose from. Most feed people around the world but with the purchase of this bag, another identical bag is sent to Africa with medical supplies inside! Feed

9. World Vision Bike - You do not receive an actual bike but instead you help a girl continue to go to school safely by giving her transportation. World Vision

10. Holga Camera - $36 goes to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, New York Chapter. And this is just one of many gifts on this site that gives to tons of different causes when you buy products from them. Gifts that Give

For more gift ideas check out last year's TaylorFrankie list.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Start Something That Matters" Book Review and Give Away!

We are so thankful to Blake and Spiegel & Grau for sharing this book with us! We both really enjoyed reading it and recommend it for anyone! Even though we are not bookworms we couldn’t put this one down!

Before we tell you about the story we want to tell you how awesome the book itself is. It's already inspiring tons of bloggers across the country who received it for free so we can tell you about it! And 50% of the proceeds from the sales are put into a Start Something That Matters fund to help inspired readers carry out their amazing ideas! How cool right? Now for the stories...

If you’re not familiar with Blake Mycoskie and TOMS (which how could you not be if you follow are blog? ;) then allow us to introduce you… Blake first experienced the need for shoes when he was traveling Argentina. He jotted down his thoughts along with a picture of the popular local shoe that he had been wearing while there. With this exciting new idea and his new Argentinian shoe-making friend, he left for the US with 100 pair of TOMS to see what he could do. This was the beginning of what we now know as the great, the amazing TOMS shoes! The start of something that matters as an idea, a movement, and a new way to do business.

Each chapter reveals a little more of the TOMS story and how the company grew to be the image that they are today. Blake also shares some nifty tricks from life before TOMS and lots of stories of other companies that have started with big ideas.

Another thing that we love about this book is that Blake backs up his strategies of starting something that matters with real life stories of challenges that every business faces when they start out. Like people saying that Wal-Mart would never make it and like Method seeing what’s wrong and doing what’s right. This book will motivate and inspire you to take your ideas, face your fears, and truly start something that matters.

(Check out more book deets and other reviews on the Amazon page!)


Wanna read it? Wanna turn your passions into a movement for others?
Wanna share it? Know someone who has the passion to Start Something That Matters?
Answer these questions from page 36 and you could be the new recipient or giver of Start Something That Matters! :)

If you did not have to worry about money, what would you do with your time?
What kind of work would you want to do?
What cause would you serve?

Answer in a word or two, three sentences, or a paragraph! Just leave us a comment by Sunday and we will choose a winner in time for Christmas! Can't wait to hear what kinds of passions you all have!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 3 - Give More

This week's theme [Give More] is coming at just the right time. Realizing that we are almost a week away from Christmas and we had not bought any gifts we went out shopping... walking around the store looking for something that would show our love to ones receiving them. Not the way I like to shop by the way... I like to know what I am getting for someone before we leave the house and not rush into buying something that could be meaningless and thoughtless. In fact my favorite type of shopping is shopping for things that I can use to make gifts with.
I remember one Christmas when Taylor and I were dating but living in different states we made a plan that for that year we would get each other 10 gifts, but the catch was that we had to make most of them and then the rest couldn't be more then a few dollars. I remember making a door hanger and buying socks and I remember receiving a box of rice crispy treats. The gifts didn't really matter, it was the love that we gave with them and truly the thought that was counted. Taylor knew I loved rice crispy treats and I knew she loved frogs so most of the gifts I got her had frogs on them. Plus seeing each other for the holiday was also nice.
 I guess what I am trying to say is that the real special gifts are the ones that connect us and those are not always the kind that fit under the tree. Spending time on something can be so much more valuable then spending money. So this year give more and by taking time to find the things that make the holiday really special.

Here is a little song to finish this thought out... take it away guys!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week 2 - Spend Less

Just watched this video and was so excited to see Pastor Chris Seay at Ecclesia! Man, we miss our Houston church. Check out the video and read below as we continue to conspire together and spend less.

Spend Less from Living Water International on Vimeo.

Shopping is filled with a sense of promise. We’re promised comfort, status, better looks, happiness and joy, but do those promises really deliver? And what do they have to do with the promises of Scripture? If you’ve ever felt like we might have lost the point when we turned the birth of Christ into a season of frantic shopping, you will appreciate the second pillar of the Advent Conspiracy: Spend Less.

Spend Less isn’t about being a Scrooge. It’s about being free to celebrate Jesus. We hope you will reflect on the birth of Christ with us, and celebrate the fact that because some believers Spend Less, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are being blessed with safe drinking water, offered in Jesus’ name.

Like they said, you don't have to be a Scrooge to spend less. Try just giving one less gift. Try spending a bit less than last year. Try and make that list a little shorter. As we all conspire together it adds up.

We are forgoing extended family gift exchanges this year for starters. At about $20 per trade x the two of us x three families... that saves about $120! From gifts that aren't really needed to gifts that can mean hope and life for some one in real need. We will spend time with our grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and spend the money where it really counts. How are you conspiring to spend less this week?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

CHF Toy Wrap 2011

This morning I got to be with the rest of the 300 people wrapping bears in San Antonio, Texas! Check out the video! We had a lot of fun and if you look really close you can see my sister's head when they pan through the SA warehouse.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

LOVE:water + $10 Gift Card

Update: Gift Card to Living Water International have ended for the year.

Now when you order one of these in the month of December.... also get one of these!!!

A $10 gift card to Living Water International!

Now you or the gift recipient can decide exactly where your money goes! When you receive the gift card you can go here and pick a project. "Ugandan school kids" or "Unreached people in Peru" are just two causes you can support in addition to a list of 25 countries you can choose from! Each project tracks how much it has raised so you can instantly see what you are a part of!
So visit our shop, choose a shirt, and get a free $10 gift card! [Give More]