Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Reveiw: A Dream So Big by Steve Peifer

by Steve Peifer (with Gregg Lewis)
Rating:4 Stars

The Peifers were living the American dream and financial stability when their lives were impacted by the birth and death of their third baby, who lived only eight days.

 Seeking a change, the family accepted a year-long position as dorm parents for missionary kids at a boarding school in Kenya, Africa.

That decision led the Peifers to a third-world setting where daily life was impacted by drought, hunger and poverty. Steve, the successful corporate executive, shares many of the hard truths he learns about himself as he faced a world of poverty and pain, however, in the mist of the beauty of the land of Africa.

Steve Peifer treats the issues of childhood hunger and its relationship to failed education as a business problem. He comes up with a solution that is simple, and doable. One that has a chance to really change the lives of an entire area of Kenya. He is literally creating the seeds of a middle class where none existed. Out of this program will come thousands of young adults who are healthier, better educated, and aware that they can demand something better for/from their country and have the skills to do something about it.

 The business model is brilliant. He pays local farmers for their produce. He hires local truckers and laborers to haul the food. He gives the schools 1/3rd of the year's food at a time. And then he tells the parents that he food should last to a certain point in time. Thus the school officials know not to steal the food, as they will have to answer to the parents. And it is such a basic point. Hungry kids do not learn.

  Today, the Peifers have established a team of people who have built twenty solar-powered computer centers and provide daily lunches to more than 20,000 Kenyan school children in thirty-five public schools.

A Dream So Big is not just one family's is a reminder that God can do something through each one of us when we are willing to let Him work.

On a more personal note, both my Grandparents and my Sister have been to Kenya, Africa as Missionaries. And they too, have talked about much of the same as what is written here in this book!

You can purchase the book on Amazon and read more reviews here

I was privileged to review a complimentary copy of this book for Booksneez Blogger Review Program. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Badlands National Park - South Dakota

The Badlands were by far our family's favorite part of our trip out west this summer!
Wow - what a breathtaking, beautiful sight!
We loved the fact that when the trail ends you can keep on exploring.... Someday, we'd like to go back and spend a week just exploring the badlands - mile, after mile, after mile.....
Pictures really don't do justice, but hopefully, they will help give you an idea of the natural beauty! If you get a chance - go, see it for yourself!


thankfully, we never saw any.....

It looked like God made these huge sand castles.....

my hubby and me...... (it was windy!)

there were prairie dogs every where - and they were not afraid of people either!

It goes on for miles and miles.......

the colors were beautiful!

off to explore.....


Stephen and the oldest two kids pose for a photo while exploring....


on top of a high ridge!

My family - I love this picture!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cancer: You Need To Know

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that is cancerous in April 2012 – here are some thoughts on what I wish you would know when it comes to cancer.

  • Don’t drop by without calling – I maybe having a rough day, a messy house, still in my pj’s, or simply not wanting company.
  • When and if you do stop by. Please don't expect me to cook dinner and entertain you all day - sometimes I feel worn out after 'serving' my company. (Yes, I do realize we don't invite people over - it's just too stressful for me) Don't take it personally.
  • Don’t pity me – I have Cancer, yes – but I’m not looking for sympathy. Say a prayer instead – not just for me, but for my hubby and kids as well, this is hard on all of us.
  • Don’t tell me, that I don't look sick. I already know that and I have this huge sense of guilt. I don’t look unhealthy. I have long hair. I am not frail. I look like the person next door. I look fine - I don’t look like I have cancer. But, it’s a very scary disease that affects us all in different ways.

  • Don’t ask personal questions. General rule of thumb is- if you wouldn’t ask a non-cancer patient then it is NOT okay to ask someone with cancer. I don’t enjoy being interrogated by the following:
                   What kind of cancer do you have?
                   Where is it located?
             What Doctor do you see? How often?
            How much time you got?
            Tell me all the details, so I know how to pray for you - (Can I just say…. God   already knows all the details!)

  • Don’t assume that because I’m out grocery shopping or at an event that I am fine – my smile can cover up a lot of pain! It’s not easy living with cancer – acknowledge the fact. Be polite and sensitive about it.

  • Don’t say anything about cancer in front of my kids at any time. PERIOD! (This isn’t easy for them either – they don’t need to be reminded that their mom is sick.)
  • Don’t gossip about me to your friends or family – I hear stories that have been around the bush a few times – most of them are not true!
  • Don't say, "I know how you feel." -Let me just say - You do not have cancer. You do not know how I feel!
  • Don't dismiss my fears and concerns. ("Don't talk like that! You're going to be fine. Now pick yourself up and go have lunch!") My fears are real. I wonder daily if I will get the chance to see my kids graduate or play with my grandkids one day.
  • Please keep your opinions to yourself. I appreciate your wanting to help – I don't want other doctors, remedies, or info to try - we are well informed and yes, we do massive amounts of research on it regularly.

  • If you really want to help, here’s some idea’s:
Offer to watch the kids for a few hours.
Bring a casserole or some cookies.
Clean my house for a day – it often just gets the bare minimum when it comes to cleaning.
Give a donation – it’s expensive going to doctors and taking massive amounts of health supplements.
Tickets for a family day outing or for a date night are great – quality time with my family is appreciated.
Drop a note in the mail – that simple act goes a long way.
Be a friend – someone I can talk to and be with. Listening is the best gift you can give someone with cancer. Listen to me talk, listen to the hurt, listen to the silence, just be there and listen.
Send a relaxing music cd. My disease is caused by stress – I love music… and bubble baths.
Support my home business – It helps our family and the more customers we have, the less overtime my hubby has to work away from our family, plus you’ll love the products.
  • Know that it’s okay to laugh with me. I don't always want to think or talk about my disease. Laughing and talking about other things are welcome distractions.

  • Please realize that sometimes just being around people stresses me out. Don’t think I’m a snob because I don’t come to all the events and functions that I’m invited to – I stay home a lot – it’s better for me – please don’t ask me to explain.

  • Don’t assume I have friends and family to help – most of my family live in another state and has a life and family of their own. Oh, I have Facebook friends and acquaintances, but I don’t have anyone who will stop by, help snap beans, drink lemonade and have a good girl to girl talk.
  • Please know I have cancer fatigue. I am tired of thinking about it. People are tired of hearing about it. I am tired of dealing with it. We all just wish it would go away. Our family is exhausted from months of emotional stress. We are desperate to regain some normalcy, but cancer is that elephant in the room that won’t be ignored.
  • Don’t tell me to pray more. Yes, we can all use a little more Faith – but it’s my life we’re talking about- it doesn't go away.

  • Please Remember: It’s not my cancer, it’s the cancer. "Cancer does not define me – it’s just part of who I am.”
I am still a person – I still want to live a ‘normal’ life. I still cook, clean, garden, preserve food, do laundry, run a business, and have appointments to keep.

I am still a mom – to three beautiful, but very adventurous kids – one of whom is a special needs child and requires a great deal of patience every day.
             I am still a wife – to a fabulous and loving husband – A man who I am proud to be his partner.

I am still me – I love music, I love to sing, write, crochet, bake, work in my flowerbeds, work on crafts and interior d├ęcor,  take walks,  enjoy relaxing bubble baths, and sharing Shaklee with others.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Satisfying Chicken Soft Tacos (THM - S)

Ok, so the other night I was browsing online for something to make for supper, when I found

The only problem was:
#1- It was a crock pot meal and (I know this sounds terrible, but I don't know how to use my crock pot very well) or maybe, I'm just not a big fan - you have to plan ahead to use a crock and I don't plan ahead when it comes to meals.
 #2 - It takes like 4 hrs. to cook and it was already past supper time.
#3 - It called for items like peppers and onions (my family don't eat peppers and onions)
Anyway, after going out to the shop and  telling complaining to hubby about how I found this good recipe, but I couldn't make it, etc. and after, putting it off as long as I possibly could, I decide to come back inside and get super duty over!

 But, I couldn't get that wonderful yummy sounding recipe out of my mind, so decided to try to make it anyway - only with items that my family would actually eat! And, guess what?!?! It turned out perfect! It was Amazing!!! Everyone asked for seconds! It is def. a keeper and something I'll be making regularly - in fact I have made it twice now in one week!
Here's my spin on it - if you'd like to try:

Throw your chicken breast (I cut mine into strips) into a skillet, add water, salt and pepper and let cook. When chicken is cooked through (meat is white) sliced/shred, it on a cutting board and put it back into the skillet. Then add chili seasoning, garlic powder, onion salt, and squirt lime juice and lemon juice over the top of the chicken - (you can use either fresh or bottled). It really gives it a great flavor. Toss it altogether, put the lid on, and let it cook till tender or until it smells too yummy to resist any longer!

A few notes here: I was pretty liberal with my seasonings and both the lime and lemon juice. Also, you can keep adding water if you must - don't let the meat get dry.

When you can't stand it any longer and you just gotta have a bite - serve on low carb tortillas and top with cheese, sour cream, turkey bacon, and lettuce/spinach!

They were very moist and juicy and oh, so yummy - a big hit around here!

And for the hubby (who doesn't like sour cream) - we topped his with homemade salsa - I didn't try this one, but he said it was absolutely wonderful!

Please don't mind the paper plates..... sometimes, I opt for the quick and easy clean up!

*This post is linked to Stacy Makes Cents 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Out West Trip

After 12 States (Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan), 5,100 miles, 3,200 pictures, 10 days, and lots of memories, it's great to be home from our trip out West!

I thought I'd share some of the highlights with you all!

After being on the road for only 5 hrs., the three year old decided that she had to go 'potty' about every 10-15 min. but every time we stopped, she wouldn't 'go'. After about an hour, I was starting to think the trip might be a very 'BAD' idea at that point! Thankfully, she finally settled down and fell asleep and we didn't have anymore problems 'of that kind' the rest of the trip!

I've never been a fan of Illinois and after driving over snakes on the road multiple times - it helped to confirm the way I feel about that state - I'm still not a fan of Illinois or the snakes!

Iowa was flat and full of corn fields - I've seen it a few times in my life, so not much exciting there. We drove through most of it at night though, as we were trying to make up some time!

We crossed the river at the Winnebago Indian reservation to get into Nebraska using a toll bridge - the area we crossed was pretty, but it was early morning and foggy out, so we didn't get very good pictures.

South Dakota turned out to be one of our favorite states! As soon as we crossed into SD, we started seeing signs for Wall Drug - I told Stephen, we should've counted them - I bet there were hundred's!
 We went to Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD. The falls were cool. The kids enjoyed playing on the rocks and feeling the spray from the falls.

Next was the corn palace in Michelle, SD  - not quite as great as we expected.....


After crossing the Missouri River at Dacoma, SD the scenery changed  - it was so lush and green with rolling hills and wide open spaces - just beautiful! I think I could live there!

The Badlands were by far our family's favorite part of the trip! Stay tuned for another post on them! Wow - what a beautiful sight! I think we could spend a week there just exploring it!

We Spent an evening in Rapid City, SD - it was the kids first time to stay in a hotel, so they thought that was fun! We ordered pizza and let them swim in the pool!

The next morning, we took the kids to Story Book Island in Rapid City - it is a park with all kinds of different scenes from Disney stories/movies - all the kids loved it. Oh, and admission is FREE!

We stopped at the Chapel in the Hills - such a beautiful church with detailed wood carvings!

Mt. Rushmore - another place we all thought was neat - we hiked up all the steps to get as close as we could! It was one of those places that you can hardly believe you are there after reading and hearing about it all through school - we watched the documentary and enjoyed the exhibit hall.

Custer State Park, (it was full of one lane tunnels and sharp turns)

The Black Hills and drove down Needles Highway!

Wyoming was our other favorite state! Hubby and I both said that we'd love to live in NE Wyoming - (just not so sure we could handle the cold temps in zone 3 though!) - sorry about the picture, I was driving and taking pics at the same time - some didn't turn out so great!

 We walked part way around Devils Tower and up the stone bed.... we would have loved to walk the whole way around the base, but it was getting dark and cold, and we didn't think that was a good idea, at night, all alone! It was neater than I thought it would be though and I'd definitely go back again!

After an overnight stay in Gillette, WY - we saw our first snow capped mountains - The Big Horn Mountains - they were breathtakingly beautiful!
Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to go to Montana! It seemed so unreal that here I was, actually in this great big sky country state!

We spent a few days with my sister in Bonner, MT, went shopping in Missoula, visited friends up in the mountains, and visited my husbands great uncle in Clinton.
We enjoyed endured a day long (15 hr.) trip around the state of Idaho. We drove down the Salmon River Scenic Byway, Bitterroot National Forrest, Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, Salmon-Challis National Forrest, down to Stanley (two of my Sister's have worked at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch there). Saw the Sawtooth Mountains, Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, and Boise National Forrest.

We came up the west side, Payette National Forrest, the Hells Canyon Wilderness, Seven Devils Mountains, Nez Peirce Indian Reservation, Clearwater National Forrest, and came across the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway (the never ending road - when it's dark out, and you're extremely tired, and there is no sign of life, lights, etc. for over 99 miles with a winding road, and sharp turns that drops off right beside you with no guard rails into a river - it can be a little nerving!) and came across Lolo Pass.

We spent two days at Yellowstone, which is another wonder in itself! I didn't realize how cold and windy it would be at Yellowstone... we were there on the first day of summer and it was snowing! The wind was fierce and cold! There was also still snow on the ground in some places. But Yellowstone was beautiful to see.....
 Our favorites were the Mammoth hot springs,

 geysers, and  paint pots,

 Yellowstone Canyon, and Artist Point, wildlife (Elk, Mountain Goats, Black Bear, Buffalo, Bald Eagles, etc),

and Yellowstone Lake (with the Tetons in the background).

Old Faithful was rather a disappointment to us as it was too commercialized, it had thousands of people all around and we simply didn't enjoy it.

We took the kids to the Grizzly and Wolf  Discovery Center in West Yellowstone also.


North Dakota was rolling, with lots of water - not flat and dry like I had  pictured it to be in my mind!

MN and WIS were much the same as they've always been the many times I've been there.

We took the SS Badger (car ferry) from Manitowac, WI across Lake Michigan to Ludington, MI (4hrs.) We all enjoyed it!

We watched them load and unload semi trucks hauling huge wind turbine parts  - it's amazing how tiny the semi's looked inside the ferry - our ferry had 4 of them semi's on it along with lots of other vehicles!


We ate doughnuts for breakfast in Ludington State Park and then walked almost 2 miles to the Big Sable Point Light House, Stephen and Faith walked up in the tower. The kids loved playing on the beach!

and took the kids to Silver Lake Sand Dunes - the kids the sand!

We ate lunch at Sam's Grill and Pizzeria in Whitehall, MI - the best bread sticks (we had ours topped with cheese) I have ever eaten! His Pizza was great too! - We're talking of going back to Michigan just for more of his food!

I loved our trip - but, when we crossed the IN line - it was a great feeling to be headed home!

  Home is one of the greatest feelings in the world!


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