Sunday, December 12, 2010

iGet2Give 2010

It's not about's about HIM...and them. The Spirit of Christmas lives within each of us everywhere we go and in everything that we do. It is waiting to be shared at just the right moment and with just the right people that God places in our path.

Today has been a "Spirit of Christmas" kind of day. It all started 7 days ago...on Monday. 5 of us friends went to one of the best events in NW Arkansas. (We went last year and knew this to be true after attending many others throughout the year.) The event is fittingly called "iGet2Give." The premise of the event is to gather with other women and receive really nice gifts. The only caveat is that you cannot keep the gifts...the gifts MUST be given away to someone who really needs them. It's designed to provide us an opportunity to either pool our gifts or individually give them away. This year, the 5 of use pooled our gifts because it just seemed to be the right thing to do. We had fun Monday night talking, planning and wondering who our "lucky" family would be. Little did we know that God was already at work and we were in for a great surprise! Here's the story:

On Monday afternoon, Jazmin went to the Pharmacy to get some NyQuil. She ran into a lady that she had not seen in over 2 years. It was the mother of a young boy that played on the same soccer team as her son, Will. They had been friends during the season of soccer when their boys played together, but soon lost touch after the season was over. Seeing each other after 2 years was a surprise and yet a blessing. After a quick conversation, Jaz learned that this lady had lost her job and was raising her 3 boys on her own. Jazmin didn't think much about it at the time as she was in a hurry and went on about her business...she had to pick us girls up for the iGet2Give event...

After the event was over and we all were at our own homes, Jazmin was wrestling with an uneasiness and just couldn't shake it. At 2:30AM that night, we all got a text from her stating that the friend she ran into at the Pharmacy earlier that day just wouldn't leave her mind. She couldn't remember her last name and didn't have her phone number. What was she to do? How was she to get in touch with her? These thoughts went over and over in her head all night long. The next morning when she was getting her kids ready for school, she asked them if they remembered this family. Her daughter did and ran to get her school yearbook because she thought that one of the boys had been in her class that year. And, sure enough, he was and there was his name...right next to Melissa's. Bingo! After a few phone calls, Jazmin was in touch with her long lost friend.

During their conversation, Jazmin learned why she had this family so heavily on her heart. Times were tough and money was very tight in their household. Christmas was just not going to happen for them this year. There was no money for the basics, much less gifts!

After a few phone calls and texts between the 5 of us, a plan was in place and resources were being tapped. Within 24 hours, we had planned this family's Christmas blessing. We are all vendors and we were able to add to our gifts that we received on Monday night and make quite a robust gift.

Through the contact that we had with the Mom this week we learned that she went to church for the first time 3 weeks ago. She has visited a few churches in the meantime looking for the perfect church home. She was motivated to get to church for her boys when she learned about a program at one of the local churches that focused on Fatherless Boys. Her 3 boys fit in very nicely and the program was targeted for a family such as hers. A void in their lives will hopefully be filled through the Love of Jesus!


Today as we gathered at my house to wrap and put together all of our gifts, our conversation kept going back to the fact that the Spirit of Christmas doesn't come in the comes in the GIVING of gifts. Doing for others who (for whatever reason) cannot do for themselves. Isn't that the essence of exactly what Christ did for us?

Here are a few pictures of this GIVING:

Jazmin, Paola, Michele, Courtney, & me
Our gifts that we "won" to gift someone else

Courtney wrapping an outfit for the 7 year old
Michele stuffing the Oscar Mayer Wagon with all sorts of goodies treats!

Jaz, Paola, & Courtney filling a Rubbermaid tub with household items

The NIV Study Bible that I purchased before knowing that she had just started going to church.
We all signed the blank page of the bible with words of encouragement and love

Our 4 gifts turned into the richest of blessings!

Santa's Sleigh

The Girls with Andrea
me, Courtney, Michele, Andrea, Paola & Jazmin

After spending a good portion of the afternoon with Andrea and her boys, we learned that she had seen a whole lot of "life" that I hope none of us every have to. But as you see, her face has a beautiful smile and she is not bitter. She is humbled and thankful. THAT is only a gift that God can give.

We have all exchanged phone numbers. We plan to keep encouraging her and holding her accountable to the things that she has asked of us.

*Note - the picture in the background was painted by her Grandmother. They are a Native American family and are proud of their heritage. The artwork in her house was all painted by her grandmother and Andrea was very proud to show us her work. She died a year ago and was the reason (we think) that Andrea had to quit her job.
Of this I am certain. We are all called to be the hands and feet of Christ. We are to listen, trust, and OBEY the nudgings of the Holy Spirit that is in each of us. That is the Spirit of Christmas...every day.
Look for Christ in Christmas this year.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's Been A While! We've GOT To Catch Up!

I cannot believe that it's been since MARCH that I have posted! Oh my(!) where has time gone? So much has transpired between March and July...I will hit the high spots in this post, but know that there is so much more to tell! God has been faithful and has blessed me and my family and friends with so much fun and excitement this summer. Words nor pictures can tell the whole story.
Weddings are as common in the Sullivan family as eating and breathing. In my last post, I had just returned from Las Vegas from a business trip. During that trip, my cousin Savannah got married out there and I was able to attend. Small blessings. It just seems fitting to pick this post up in May at another Sullivan wedding. This wedding was magical and so beautiful! My cousin, Kendra, married Michael Paul Wallace on Orange Beach, AL on May 22. The WHOLE Sullivan family attended...thus, the "magical" element of the wedding. The one thing Kendra wanted was to be surrounded by ALL of her family and friends. God granted her wish. Below are a few snapshots from my camera.

Kendra & Michael Paul

Bubba & Kendra...look at the relaxed smiles. A beautiful bride and a beautiful day!

I love this picture because Leah's face just says it all...excitement! Bettye Hill (lady in coral dress) not only decorated, but directed the wedding. She is an amazing lady!

The boys...MP was a little nervous, I think.

I love this's one of my favorites. I was very fortunate to have my friend, Heather, at the beach with me. She currently lives in Germany, but was in the states for summer vacation. Her photography skills are incredible. She took this picture.

The ceremony setting...doesn't get any more perfect than God's scenery at the beach.

We have all laughed and enjoyed this picture so much! Emma is rocking the sunglasses and hat. We call her "Miss Hollywood" because her whole persona changed when Sarah put the sunglasses and hat on her. Callie is trying to make conversation and Emma is so stoic while she listens. Wonder if this picture indicates their personalities to come??? Such adorable and cute little girls!

As customary at every Sullivan function, there is a tailgate and BBQ grill somewhere nearby. I cannot tell you how long or how many men sat on this tailgate while Dad cooked ribs, hamburgers, steaks and whatever else anyone wanted...oh yeah, the "Uncle Leonard sausage"!

This is the first night on the beach. We ALL enjoyed just sitting and walking on the beach together. Even Chris was happy to be there :)

I love this picture of Stephanie and Callie.

Callie was a flower girl in the wedding. She will not wear anything on her head for more than 2 seconds...she thought it was funny that Elliott was wearing her flower halo...priceless.

Callie thought that the little birds that run up and down the beach were so funny. She wanted to ME to run and chase them while she "rode" along...

My sister says that the conversation transpiring between these two is going something like this:
Kale: Can you believe these people are our family??
Callie: No joke! They are crazy!
Kale: Reckon we ought to take this to the FloraBama?
Callie: Yes! At least we'll be around "normal" people...

The next family event happened in June when sweet Emma Claire was christened at Meadville UMC. The weekend together was so much fun and the babies enjoyed Barbie's pool...
Callie gets all crazy around water. She is literally trying to stand on her head here...

Callie loves to go under the water!

Miss Hollywood is taking in all the attention and commotion. She is such a laid back diva in the water.

Christening service for Emma Claire Stebbins...she is paying close attention!

The Sullivan/Joseph/Stebbins/Smith families
also including "Miss Mae" and her husband, Jamie

Callie is taking care of Emma
"Come on Emma, pull it together! We've got to pose and smile for all these cameras!"
July 4th weekend was a wonderful and sad weekend. It was lots of fun hanging out at the lake and grilling with friends. It was bittersweet in that it was the last time we'd get to hang out with John & Melissa Niegbruegge. The moving van arrived on July 5th and took them to Boca Raton, FL. Gosh, I miss them terribly!!!

Tonya & Shawn Beckwith, Steph, John & Melissa Niebrugge
The weekend after July 4th, Mom's Sunday School class hosted a Grandparents Shower for some very dear family/friends...Bob & Susie Kimbrough. Their oldest daughter, and one of my good lifelong friends, Holli is expecting the first grandchild...a boy. I am so glad that I was home this weekend and was able to enjoy the celebration!

Bob & Susie Kimbrough

Barbie - the "ice" cream queen...she takes her job seriously

Judy McGehee, Mom, Janet Spring
(3 of the hosts)

The best part about coming home to Meadville is the early morning "hang out." All of us usually drink our coffee on the back porch and we now watch the girls play. Callie did not come down this weekend, so I got to enjoy Emma with 100% attention. She is getting so big and such fun!

Emma LOVES the Little Tykes swing. It's been the best $15 investment!

This rainbow was such a welcomed sight! The storm that I drove through headed home to Arkansas was very tornadic with torrential downpours. It was raining so bad that I was forced to exit in Conway and wait out the storm. I saw this double rainbow...God's promises are faithful!
This past weekend, the Football Family celebrated summer birthdays. It was such a fun time together as we haven't seen much of each other over the summer. The added bonus was that one of my very best friends, Crystal, came for a visit. We had such fun hanging out and shopping. We also were able to hang out at the lake with Lori & Derek, 2 good friends here in Rogers.

Steph, Lori, & Crystal floating around in "Lori's Cove" on Beaver Lake.

Crystal & Steph at dinner at the River Grille in Bentonville

The Football Family! What laughs and good times were had by this crew!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Sometimes God just can't help Himself but to make us laugh. I believe that he does this to let us know that he does have a sense of humor and can do anything He wants.

Last week found me in Las Vegas...on a work trip. A few days before I left, my Mom told me that Savannah and Jarrett would be getting married on March 17- St. Patty's Day. The irony is that I would be out there on a work trip when everyone else would be back home...and I couldn't have planned the timing any better. However, due to the meeting schedule of my trip, I was not going to be able to make the 5:00 ceremony...but God had other plans. My meeting ended at 4:15 and dinner was "on our own." Yes! I was going to be able to make the wedding! I ran upstairs at the Bellagio and literally threw on a dress and finished dressing in the taxi. Of course the Chapel of Flowers was on the opposite end of the strip as my hotel, but what is last minute opportunity without a little drama! I felt like I was in a tv show or something...ha! BUT, at 5:05, the taxi wheeled in the parking lot and I slid into the pew right before Savannah was to walk down the aisle! Whew! Thank you Jesus for making things just work out inspite of ourselves!

The only pictures I was able to take were on my Blackberry...of course I forgot my camera in the hotel because I was in a rush. But nonetheless, I was able to document the occasion! Don't they look beautiful?

The weather in Vegas was perfect! It was in the mid-70s all week and the sun shined gloriously all day long! It was such a welcomed thing after NO sunshine in Arkansas for many, many weeks. The highlight of my trip was the helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon. Thank you Maverick Aviation (Henderson, NV) for an awesome experience! If you are ever in the Vegas area, I strongly encourage you invest in this adventure. It's the ONLY way to see the Canyon (oh, and Hoover Dam/Lake Meade, also...)

On Friday when we landed in Rogers, we learned that we were in for a big surprise over the weekend....yep, a snow storm. And snow we got....INCHES of it! Some reports said 12 inches, others said 7 inches. Either way, the first day of spring was spent indoors in front of the fireplace. Actually for me, it was spent in bed with fever. I had was I've lovingly coined "the first cousin to the flu." Miserable. Absolutely miserable. Here is the front of my house...I snapped this picture when I DROVE to my mailbox from my garage. Yes...I was sick and didn't have the energy to walk to the mailbox...don't would have too.

See...God likes to make us laugh. He'll do anything from allowing for a cousin to make it to a another cousin's wedding to snow on the first day of Spring. It is so good to know that God is always making life interesting...

Friday, March 5, 2010


Honduras. The poorest country in Central America and 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere - Haiti is the 1st. Talanga, Honduras is a city of about 25,000 people and is the hub of 4 major highways in Central America. One of those highways is the Transamerica Highway that runs from Bogota, Columbia to Alaska, USA. Thousands of pounds of cocaine are dropped in this city each week. Drugs, Aids, and drug inflicted disease are rampant. In spite of this fact, the average family income for 1 month is $40. The people in this country are poor. The people in this city are poor. They may not have much, but God is there. He went ahead of this mission team and prepared the way. The harvest was ripe.

On February 6, 77 North Americans met in Houston and headed South to the country of Honduras. All walks of life. All ages. One belief: God is...

This mission team had never been to a city in Honduras before. There were many things to learn and experience that were different from the remote village life. The main difference: The rise of the middle class...and I use that term loosely. While most of the people in this town were literally dirt poor, there was a % of people who did have some means of a better lifestyle. We did see flat screens, cell phones, and Internet capabilities in some homes as we walked the streets. Several of us on the team were able to walk into the town center to an Internet Cafe and send a message or two on Facebook! Very much an unexpected treat...Cost was less than $1 for 1 hour (10 lempire).

Below are a few pictures. I am working on a slideshow, but truth is that I am still processing. There has been so much to absorb that words are still hard to come by. But for the sake of journaling, here is a snapshot of a few aspects of the week. I have focused more on the Meadville crew that went as those stories are the ones I know best. However, each person has a different perspective and remembers different things.

It is unique to be able to serve alongside my parents and others that I have known my whole life. On this trip in particular, I picked up a few medical "skills" and was able to contribute in a way that I had not ever before. Needless to say, I had a blast stepping into my parents world for a few days. I definitely can say that they have taught me all that I least in the clinic on a foreign mission field.

The first picture is a typical house in the city. Notice the dirt floors. What you can't see on the right is stucco (white wall material that you see) counter with an iron flat area that is used for cooking...I guess the best visual is that of a griddle that is set into the counter. There was no running water in this house, but next to the griddle-type cooking area was a sink that water was manually hauled in and filled.

Funny story about this next picture. Dad had been seeing this man ride through town on his donkey. Everytime he would try to catch him to get a picture. FINALLY on Wednesday, the man stopped outside the clinic and Dad went over to him. He got a picture and Dad gave him some money (don't remember how much, but it wasn't much...) to thank him for letting him take the picture. The man descended the donkey to let Dad ride. Dad didn't take him up on the offer, but we all got a good laugh out of it. The young lady int he red/white shirt is one of our translators who saw Dad talking to the man. She went over to make sure he didn't get into trouble...ha!

Bro David. He was in charge of the tent services during the day. He is hard at work in this picture. I have to say...he ROCKED the house! I've never really had an indepth conversation with David before this trip. We sat together on the bus going somewhere and we really had good conversation. This guy is truly a man of a very cool way.

Shoe Ministry. This team gave out 1800 pairs of shoes. Ms Anita went to Dirt Cheap and loaded up her husband's truck FULL of shoes and shipped them down to Honduras. If ever there was a woman who could make shopping a ministry, it's Ms Anita. Below is Ann Barrett helping a man try on a pair of new shoes. This was Ann Barrett's first mission trip ever. She worked in the Shoe Ministry and she would tell you that it changed her life.

Rice & Beans. Ms Sandra Clay headed this ministry up this year (not pictured). Her team gave out over 6000 lbs of rice and beans. Pictured below are (L-R) Randy Randall, Dr Walter Rose, and Jim Woods - all of Indianola, MS.

Church Dedication. This trip was the first time EVER that the whole team was able to attend the Church Dedication on any trip. This Construction Team was amazing. They built the walls and put on the roof in 3 days. They worked so fast that they were able to go to the Hospital on the 4th day and do some repairs there. God was amazing through those men!
Here's the "rest of the story" about this church. The small congregation that belonged to this church have prayed for FIVE years that they would be able to purchase land to build a church. F-I-V-E years! God used our team to answer their prayer. In my opinion, this team went to Talanga for them specifically. He wanted to show that congregation that they are precious in His sight and that He cares for them. Their ministry is powerful and God has blessed them in some pretty cool ways. This church building will be a launching pad for their ministry. I'll never know what all they accomplish and how many lives they touch, but I do know that God used the construction team in February 2010 to help affirm their ministry.

Bro David leading the Dedication. Love the pulpit!

Pharmacy. Mr Jimmy is on the left. Johnny Mc is on the right. It was Johnny Mc that shared the fact that he never thought he'd be in Central America mixing "kool-aid" with Jim Jones. This team had so much fun in the Pharmacy. Mr Jimmy is now the official Pharmacist in training and is the best bottle filler and pill counter any foreign mission team has ever known :)

Medical Clinic. This is a snapshot of 1 station. Doc Gabbert is on right and my Mom, Sue, is in the center. Susan Gabbert is working the door in the background.
This clinic saw approx 3000 patients in 3.5 days.

This is Nelson. He was the official "gatekeeper" into the clinic. He was evidence that you just never know who you will meet in the places that you go. Nelson was born in Peru and was raised there until his late teens. He then moved to the swampland better known as South Louisiana. He lived down around New Orleans for a little over 30 years. His wife is Honduran and last year they moved to Honduras where he began working with BMDMI as a translator. He had a cool accent: Peruvian, Cajun, and Honduran. He was an interesting character and I am so glad to have met him!

On the first full day of clinic, Doc G made a friend. This young girl has Down Syndrome. She was a precious and sweet young lady. However, she was no fool...she immediately figured out that Doc had goodies (candy) and she is asking for some in this picture...

An At-large clinic picture. You can see the 4 tables/stations in this room. There was a doctor and nurse practitioner at each table. Doc G and Mom on the right. Dr Prosser and Linda Fay in the back. Dr. Alfredo (Honduran Dr) on the left - can't really see the table, but it's there - and Dr Carey and Glenda on the left front.

Play-time! This is SuperBowl Sunday. Doc Carey and Dad are jamming to "Let's Get Crunk" in preparation of the Saints playing later that just had to be there fully appreciate this. They were singing and dancing and rapping. The Honduran patients thought they had lost their mind...

Susan and THE newborn. This little newborn was only 23 days old. Susan was the first to get to hold her. She was absolutely precious!

Mom with a little boy. Best we could figure, this little guy was about Emma Claire's age. He was full of personality! When the cameras came out, he put on a show! We got to see this cutie twice...once with his Mom and then the next day with his Dad. Both days he was happy and full of enjoyment for the entire medical team!

A typical mode of transportation. We saw this man specifically and a bunch of others traveling through town on carts pulled by oxen. There were also quite a few that were pulled by Brahmans...strange. Especially knowing that the Sullivan family and many others pay good money to have a Brahman herd and would never have them pull a cart of any kind...

This is a picture that I took for my work folks. Being in the CSD (carbonated soft-drink) business, this picture was funny. Only in Honduras would you see CSD's protected by a machine gun toting police officer.

The picture below may resemble a Honduran woman, but to me it's the very face of Jesus. Here is why: On this day, I was working outside taking blood pressures. It was so very hot and I was not having the best day. To make a long story short, one minute I was taking blood pressures in an orderly line of patients waiting to get into the clinic. The next minute, I am in a mob crowd. Two women from the local church walk by and help Nelson regain control of the crowd. Right after things settle down, this lady walks out of the clinic and comes directly towards me. She taps my shoulder and as I turn to her, she embraces me tightly. She kisses both cheeks and speaks to me softly. I couldn't understand her, but I didn't have to. I saw Jesus right in her face. There were tears in her eyes and knew that she was God's messenger to me at that moment. Needless to say, the rest of my afternoon was quite different from before.

Hospital. There are a lot of pictures at the hospital. And I will be glad to post them on the part 2 entry. But I just love this picture. It was impromtu and no one is really posed. This was taken at the top of the viewing tower. We could see out across the valley for what seemed like miles. It was beautiful and peaceful. Honduras is a beautiful country with all the farmland, mountains, and natural habitat. This watchtower gave us the birds eye view.

The Meadville Crew headed for the airport. This is our parting shot from the Mission House. We were all tired and sad to see the week come to an end.

Funny. We thought David was straight-laced and very "preacherly" on this trip..until I ran across this picture that someone took. There are quite a series of shots on this event, but I have to say...that David is full of surprises! He enjoyed riding a Honduran Horse!

As I close this post, I'll end with what I said at the start. It is amazing to serve alongside my parents. To step out of my business world and into their medical world is a blessing beyond description. As I look back over the years, they have served humanity with their lives both domestically for a living and internationally for servanthood. God has blessed our family. I cannot wait to see what the future holds. Maybe one day we will get to experience this as a whole family...grands included.