Category Archives: Friends

Pray For Joanna

Some families touch you for a season, others impact you for a lifetime. For me, the Dennstaedts are the later kind.

IMG_0610.JPG(Photo credit: Jensen Photography)

Throughout middle and high school, the Dennstaedts were like second family to me. Kevin and I were class mates, Brian was the big brother I never had, and Jenna and my sister were two peas-in-a-pod. Through the challenges surrounding my high school years, Miss Shirley and Mr John welcomed me into their hearts as their home became a frequent refuge. Truth be told, I’m not sure I could have made it through that season without their friendship, their love, their example and prayers. Time and distance has taken us all down different paths and to different states, yet their family remains dear to my heart.

Now its time to pour love, support and prayer back to them!

Kevin’s wife, Joanna, is a remarkable mother of 4, lacrosse coach, and all-around lovely woman. Hers is a life marked by faith and kindness. Just over a month ago, her world changed as a simple mole turned out to be malignant melanoma which metastasized to her lymph system. Today she’s under the knife for an aggressive groin lymph surgery – a procedure carrying significant consequences depending on what the surgeons find.

Would you please join me in praying for and supporting this family? I can attest firsthand that they have spent their lives loving Jesus and serving others well.

Pray for wisdom and skill for her surgeons.
Pray for peace to envelope Kevin and their four children as they wait for the surgery’s results.
Pray for strength and healing for Joanna as the recovery process is extensive.
And PLEASE pray that there would be No Evidence of Disease in Joanna. For complete healing.

I know from personal experience the tremendous support that can come via the blogosphere, from friends and strangers alike. Let’s surround this family with love as they walk cancer’s uncertain road.

You can follow their family’s journey at

IMG_0609-0.JPG(Photo credit: Jensen Photography)



Filed under Faith, Friends, Prayer Requests

So God Made A Sister

As God looked upon the world He’d made, upon the family unit He established, He saw a heart cry for a specific life companion.

So God made a sister.

He saw children’s desire to explore and dreams of adventures far and near.  He knew princesses would twirl, delighting in each other’s beauty as they wore dresses five times their size.  He knew outfits held more fun when worn in tandem with a close friend.  He created them to nurture and be nurtured, to inspire and to be adored.  Before they could even walk, kindness lavished was needed.

So God made a sister.


He created daughters filled with joy, brimming over and longing to be shared with others.  Laughter needing sharing, victories (even the smallest ones) needing celebrating, and griefs needing carrying by strong, sympathetic hearts.  Secrets bubbled for entrusting as songs echoed in hearts craving harmony.  Joys to share and burdens to bear.


So God made a sister.


He knew this fallen world could be cruel, whispering lies stripping value and beauty from rightful beholders.  He knew a woman’s worst critic would often be herself and how desperately she’d need her vision readjusted by another seeing more clearly.  As valleys low loomed and high mountains called for climbing, He desired entrusted history and friendship to never leave her side.

So God made a sister.

From sidewalks to school halls, down aisles and through delivery wards, He desired she not be alone.  From Nana’s shoe closet to dress-up trunks, from prom dresses to wedding gowns, He desired her beauty be shared and celebrated.  From little league to Varsity, from summer camps near to excursions abroad, He longed that His daughters experience adventures, make memories, transform from girls to women together.

So God made a sister.

In 1986, the world changed as a beautiful curly-headed ginger entered the scene.  Her bright green eyes and dimpled smile sparked inspiration as her contagious joy filled every darkened space.  Strangers became new-found friends and the insecure found encouragement.  She shone light as though she’d soaked up the sun.  Dance partner, adventure companion, sleepover snuggle bug, and persistent friend.

Through life’s darkest valleys, she would inspire strength and resilience among her family, often giving them cause to keep going when it seemed easier to give in to cynicism.  Infectious joy, she would grow to hold wisdom beyond her years and compassion beyond reason.  Love for the broken, kindness for the downtrodden, and enduring hope through it all.

God knew a family would need reminding over and again of His goodness, His faithfulness, His love through dark seasons to come.  As darkness sought to tear apart, He desired they be knit close together.  Someone to pray, someone to encourage, someone to inspire and trust. Confidant and best friend.

And when He looked upon this beauty, He smiled knowing His creation was indeed very good.

For God made my sister.



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Filed under Family, Friends, God, Patience, Photography

Eyes To See

She walks with strength unknown.  Her eyes bright, she smiles at her precious children.  While some stay-at-home moms wear their fatigue for all to see, she displays joy and delight in her children, her role, her current season of life. This friend of mine inspires me with every posted picture, every interaction, every generous gesture. Truthful and kind, her example challlenges me to grow as a homemaker and mom. I admire her so.

Yet these strengths she does not see. She looks at my writing and her own desires of blogging and concludes it not worth her while. “I can’t write like you. What would I have to say?”

Oh my beautiful treasured friend…

I know another, one who walks with poise and grace. The quintescential hostess, she makes every individual who enters her home feel like an honored guest. Her work ethic inspires me daily, her relentless pursuit of wellness for her household saturates everything she touches. With ease she transforms dated, ugly things into renewed pieces filled with artful charm. She takes simple ingredients and creates mouth-watering meals. I don’t know how she does it all. But she makes it look easy!

Yet theses strengths she does not see. Her might is commonplace in her beautiful eyes. She ponders her worth and concludes herself lacking.

Oh my wonderful, precious friend…
What if we had others’ eyes to see ourselves?
What if we spoke observed strength to each other and actually believed these words from trusted friends?
What if we took stock in our own strengths and rightfully concluded ourselves strong?
What if we tore the damning lens of comparison from our gaze and saw through the only lens that matters? The one worn by our Creator?
What if we believed His stated worth in our lives?!

We are ALL beautifully and wonderfully made. (Ps 139) We ALL are created in the image of the One who spoke galaxies into being, who mastered mountains high and values valleys low. (Gen. 1:27) Upon every single one of us have gifts and talents been bestowed. (Rom. 12:6) We each have a significance in and because of Jesus. (1 Cor. 12:27)

Friend, you are significant.
You are capable.
You are woven with seams of strength and bear a priceless story of worth.

May we resolve to view ourselves truthfully, gratefully celebrating our strengths and the strengths of each other.

What lens are you wearing today?

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Filed under Comparison, Friends, God

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

photo 2Yesterday I said goodbye-for-now to a treasured friend as she and her family embarked on a new journey of faith.  I had walked through their barren house the night before, simply a mix of floors, ceiling and walls.  The bare necessities packed into 30 bags.  Everything else, sold.   I have watched Kelly and Smooth Via say “YES!” to God’s call to follow Him wherever He leads…all the way to Africa for three years.  Yesterday, the Vias loaded their daughters on a plane and moved to Uganda to bring home to their adopted daughter, Chloe.  Yesterday, I witnessed rubber meet road.

image(5)Their journey has inspired and challenged me for months, but seeing them physically leave familiar, family and friends behind to obey God’s call to adopt this precious girl…it hit home like never before.  Will it be easy?  No.  Will it be overwhelming?  Probably.  Will it be worth it?  ABSOLUTELY!  I have seen the Lord’s faithfulness to my friends over and over and over again.  With every step into the unknown, He has met them with strength and provision.  He has never left them in a lurch.  So if my friends can give up everything to follow God’s call all the way to AFRICA, what holds me back from trusting Him in the far smaller details of my life?  Lord, draw me nearer to You.


Our God is faithful, steadfast and abounding in love.  He is worthy of all praise, all trust, all faith.  He alone is God.  Thank you, Smooth and Kelly, for living out the Gospel in following His call to bring home to Chloe.  Though you will be far in body, you will always be near in thought and prayer.   We love you!

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Follow the Vias at & on Twitter by @smoothvia  @kellyvia.

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Filed under Faith, Friends, God

Wear Love For Chloe

The Via family is giving everything to fight for their adopted Ugandan daughter, Chloe.  They are living out love for this former orphan in a profound way.  Please watch this brief video about their remarkable story.   We have a unique opportunity to be a small part of bringing home to Chloe.

We are partnering with Corinne McGowan of Stella & Dot for a unique way to support this family and be reminded to pray for them.  This beautiful Love bracelet sparkles with delicate gold beads, brass chains and brilliant red cording.  Symbolic of the Via’s love for Chloe, wear this bracelet as a prompt to pray for them during their time in Uganda and as a way to share their story.

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 5.47.06 PMProceeds from EVERY LOVE BRACELET and ALL other purchases made from the link below will go towards the Via’s moving expenses to Africa.  Every bracelet, necklace, accessory from this trunk show will benefit their family.  Estimated costs to make the move are $35,000.   So shop away!  Share their story with your friends, family and coworkers.  Together, we can make a big impact for this family!

Join us in wearing Love for Chloe!!

*IMPORTANT!!!  At the top of the website, click “Find your hostess” and type in “Patience Leino”.  You will then see “SHOPPING PATIENCE LEINO’S TRUNK SHOW” at the top.  This is essential for proceeds to go to the Vias.  This trunk show is open through Saturday, April 20th.*

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Filed under Faith, Friends, Generosity

Wear Hope For Tricia

One of Tricia’s favorite passages in Scripture is the teaching of the sparrow.  Just as the Lord’s eyes are always mindful of every sparrow, how much more is His gaze ever fixed on us! (from Luke 12)

This gorgeous Hope bracelet is rose gold with a delicate sparrow’s wing in the middle.  Wear this Hope bracelet as a reminder to pray for Tricia and a great way to share their story.  EVERY HOPE BRACELET purchased from the link below through Dec. 10 will have ALL proceeds go towards Tricia’s medical care.  In addition, ALL purchases from Patience/Corinne’s trunk show will go towards the Lawrensons.  So shop away!  The trunk show closes at midnight, December 10th.

*IMPORTANT!!!  At the top of the website, click “Find your hostess” and type in “Patience Leino”.  You will then see “SHOPPING PATIENCE LEINO’S TRUNK SHOW” at the top.  This is essential for proceeds to go to Tricia.*


Filed under Faith, Friends, Generosity, God


The skies are cloudy.  Rain comes and goes.  Many of us are probably home-bound today with a little extra time to browse the web.  In light of this dreary Thursday, I’d like to share some awesome resources for your perusing pleasure.  Not only have each of these resources impacted my life personally but they are all provided by solid-to-the-core, incredible people.  So click away, blogging friends.  All of these resources will bless your life and by using them, you will be supporting some amazing families.  Seriously.

Nathan Lawrenson Photography – Nate began delving into the world of photography during his extensive stay at Duke Hopsital while his wife recovered from a double-lung transplant, was then treated for cancer and while his daughter (born at 24 weeks gestation) spent the first several months of her life in the NICU.  To say he knows how to capture precious moments on film is a stark understatement.  He took all the pictures seen on our blog banner.  His work is artistic, capturing both the beauty and spirit of the families he photographs.  To learn more about Nate and his inspiring family, visit Confessions of a CF Husband.

So Much Bigger Than The Bunny – Tasha is a mom of 3 (soon-to-be 4) who is absolutely committed to the spiritual growth of her kids.  She is one of the most humble people I know, with capabilities far beyond anything she would ever say herself.  She wrote an innovative 7-week devotional for kids and families about the true meaning of Easter.  Fun, practical and applicable to all ages.  Proceeds from the book go towards funding their Uganda adoption.  I’m telling you – these people are amazing!

Resurrection Songs – Josh is our worship pastor and hands-down, one of the most talented song writers/musicians/vocalists I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.  For real.  He is producing a kids rock album to make Scripture memory easy and fun for kids.  The album compliments So Much Bigger Than The Bunny (written by his wife, Tasha), putting each week’s memory verse verbatim into songs that stick with you.  Jordan has been working with Josh on this project, playing drums and keys for each track.  It has been an absolute blast for him!  This isn’t your typical kids album.  Adults will want to rock out to these tunes as well!  Non-cheesy kids music.  Love it!  Proceeds also go towards their adoption from Uganda.

Tellefsen Custom Portraits – Cathy is like the big sister I never had.  She came into my life at just the perfect season and has since been a source of encouragement, much laughter, and solid advice.  Cathy studied art at Wake Forest University and is an accomplished painter.  Their family traveled the road of child loss nearly 13 years ago when their second daughter, Sarah, fell ill with cancer at 4 months old and passed 5 months later.  During their time at Duke, a photographer from Time magazine captured an intimate picture of Cathy holding her daughter in the cancer unit – a picture she did not receive until after Sarah’s passing.  The image made such a profound impact on my friend that she dedicated herself to capturing such moments of children on canvas for their families.  Her portraits are exquisite, excellently painted with genuine love poured into every brush stroke.  The perfect gift!

From Glimpses To Glory – Beverly was recently described as a combination of Beth Moore and Paula Dean.  So true!  This southern woman oozes love and joy from every pore while having a vibrant, humble walk with God and passionate love for His Word.  From Glimpses To Glory is Beverly’s first book, taking the reader from getting a glimpse of who God made them to be through the journey of seeing the vision fulfilled.  Jam-packed with Biblical truth, eloquence and wisdom, this is an excellent resource for women of all ages who want to grow in their walk with Christ towards being all they were created to be.

Radically Obedient: The Joshua Study – This 9-week study of the Book of Joshua rocked my world last year!  Ailene’s approach to studying the Bible is both refreshing and equipping, sharing valuable insights but leaving much room for God voice to speak to the individual simply through the Word itself.  Radically Obedient equips the reader in how to meditate on Scripture while teaching life-changing lessons from the life of Joshua.  No matter what season of life you are in, this study has something for you!

Happy reading/listening/image-capturing/web-perusing/growing/smiling-despite-this-dreary-weather, everyone!


Filed under Friends, Resources