Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Does your group need to raise money?

Fundraising is hard. Most of the time it's not much fun.

When I was in school, my mom made me wear my color guard uniform and go door to door in the neighborhood selling wrapping paper or cartons of citrus fruit. In the snow.

Going door to door is kinda scary these days, limiting those school fundraisers to nearby friends and family. And most programs only offer customers over-priced products grossing the organization only 15-20% of the profit.

Most of you know I've been an Avon representative for about nine months now. It's a way, in addition to my writing, to help put food on the table and take care of my family's needs.

What's in it for you?

I'm making you aware of an opportunity to help whatever group(s) you and your kids are involved in raise money.

Avon has a great fundraising arm. An ONLINE fundraising arm. Yup. You read me right. I can create an online event for your group offering all of Avon's deal-priced products to your group's supporters. Church groups, scouts, band/music programs, non-profits... groups with that tax exempt status can raise money through Avon.

What we do is register your group, assigns a special promo code unique to your group. Your group leaders and members do a publicity blitz. Customers go online to my website and order Avon products using that unique code. All of the order and profit activity is tracked and reports are emailed to organizers.

Customers order and pay online. Products are shipped to their door. No little kids banging on doors, collecting pocketfulls of money or juggling armloads of product (unless you really want to do it that way.)

Non-profit organizations earn up to 30% of their sales. Try to beat that with butter braids (15% -20% earnings) or entertainment books. And you get the creative, enthusiastic support of me!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hey, I read a non-fiction book... and loved it

It says a lot about a non-fiction book if by the middle of the first chapter it's still in my hands. Even more so if I only put it down ONCE between peeling back the front cover and turning over the back with a satisfied sigh.
Only a mere handful of fiction books have earned can't-put-it-down-even-in-the-bathroom status from my finicky reader self.

Darcie's know the author disclosure: Kim Woodhouse is a good friend of mine. I've met her family and been to The House. I've even gone swimming with Kayla (she's a beast in the water let me tell you). So when I say reading Welcome Home is like sitting and listening to Kim tell her
family's story in her own voice, I know what I'm talking about.

Life is hard right now. Harder than ever for most of us who don't even have family members alive who lived through the Great Depression. People are wondering where God is. Americans, myself included, bought into the lie that if you love God and obey Him, life will be prosperous and full of vim and vigor.

Currently, people are either turning toward Him in the tough times or walking away. Welcome Home couldn't have been released at a better time. Kim doesn't come across as this unflappable churchy girl who bounces around on her tip toes saying, "God is good. All the time. All the time, God is good," to everyone she meets.

She's brutally honest about those bleak moments when God seemed invisible or absent. Her pain and hope are shared with clarity; even the studliest reader will be hunting for a tissue box. And think about the true nature of God and our purpose here on earth.

Most of all you will laugh. My poor asthmatic mom started hyperventilating while reading about an incident where the TSA suspected Kim of being the next uni-bomber. There is a lot of pain in Kim's story, but the pain juxtaposed on the joy is what makes the joy extreme.

You gotta go get yourself a copy of this book. Christmas is coming, nab a few for presents.

And best yet, pick up a few extra copies to hand out to people who are really hurting right now because life just sucks for them.

Happy reading!

Kimberley Woodhouse is a wife, mother, author, and musician with a quick wit and positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. A popular speaker, she’s shared at more than 600 venues across the country. Kimberley and her family's story have garnered national media attention for many years, but most recently her family was chosen for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Montel Williams Show, and Discovery Health channel’s Mystery ER. Welcome Home: Our Family’s Journey to Extreme Joy, releases from Tyndale House Publishers September first. In addition to her non-fiction, she also writes romantic suspense and children’s books. Kimberley lives, writes, and homeschools in Colorado with her husband and two children in their truly “extreme” home.

Here's the blurb on the book

Overwhelming trials . . . met with overcoming joy.
Kayla Woodhouse is not your typical twelve-year-old. Due to a rare medical disorder, she feels no pain, doesn’t sweat, and needs protective cooling gear just to go outside. With her restrictive lifestyle; countless hospitalizations, including brain surgery; and the resulting mountain of hospital bills, what’s a family to do?

How the Woodhouse family has faced seemingly impossible challenges is a story that has captured the hearts of America. Millions of people have experienced glimpses of their lives on Discovery’s Mystery ER, The Montel Williams Show, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (recently voted one of the show’s all-time best episodes!).

Now Kayla’s mom, Kimberley, takes readers behind the cameras to reveal their family’s journey as never before told. From medical sleuthing to cross-country moves, from freak fires to battles with insurance companies, Welcome Home proves that truth really is stranger than fiction. This candid life story reveals both success and failure and demonstrates how, even during tough circumstances, to shift your life from heartbreak to extreme joy.

Peek inside the Woodhouse family’s life (and their famous house) with a 16-page photo insert.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Is a dog just a dog?

Many of you may know via Twitter or Facebook, that my dog is very ill. He's suffering from a horrible affliction called fly strike. Never heard of it before and never want to see it again. There's a lot of it happening right now in long haired dogs b/c flies are laying eggs.

Adult flies are attracted to things that stink, including dogs. Caleb had a short bout of the squirts. Despite me washing his bottom when I noticed the need, a fly had already laid eggs in the mess. Fly eggs hatch within 8-12 hours. Fly larvae are maggots. Maggots are born hungry and look for stuff to feed on. They start with the ick, then bore into the skin. All within 8-12 hours.

If a dog has long hair, the problem may not be noticed right away. The first thing we noticed was the stench. Didn't know what it was. Next day the dog was lethargic and barely moving.

As the hours ticked by, the stench worsened and he started oozing from who knows where (Sheltie, long hair).

Caleb had to go to the ER Sunday night. He was shaved from neck to tip of tail. The maggots started traveling up his back bone under the skin.

Yesterday he wasn't doing as well as the ER vet hoped. As I type he's in the hospital until he's stable. Hopefully we can bring him home today.

Vet care is expensive. We are in a rough spot. Food banks, past-due bills, day to day decisions on what's important and what we can live without. Most of America is feeling similar pain in the bank.

I've received some comments from people; "He's just a dog! You can't afford this. Just let him die."

I'm combining comments above. No one person said all that in one sentence.

The moment we knew Caleb had to go to the ER, John and I were physically sick. The ER fee alone is $100. We debated waiting until morning. We consulted with vet techs. But Caleb kept getting worse. Both of us felt it would have been awful to let Caleb simply die b/c we didn't have the money to pay for his care. Neither one of us could live with that.

We took him in. Good thing. He probably would have died before morning.

But he wasn't doing too well yesterday. I was preparing myself for the "he's suffering too much, probably won't make it" talk. Tearfully praying my way through the day for the strength to let go if I he wasn't going to make it.

Caleb is a strong little dog. The vet has seen worse. Caleb's being screened for underlying diseases (less cost now than later if more complications arise). The vet and vet tech did not recommend putting him down. He has too much life and a great quality of life. His recovery will be hard and ugly, but they believe he may pull through if his blood tests come back good.

The maggots have done a lot of damage. Caleb may require surgery (worst case scenario) to debride all the dead tissue on his back. About a whopping 9 square inches! Dollar signs are floating in front of my face.

"Just let him die."

How far does one go?

My gut feeling is this: Caleb is a part of my family. God gave us stewardship over animals back when Adam and Eve were in Eden. God knows when one sparrow falls from the sky. He cares about his creation.

Caleb is our responsibility. His doggy life is not worthless. No life is. Yes, human life is above animal, but no humans are gonna die from this.

Both John and I are feeling like we need to take care of the life entrusted to us over 9 years ago. We are trying hard to trust God will provide to cover Caleb's care and treatment.

Okay, so we go back to the food back this weekend. I need to find more and new Avon customers and get through the revision of my novel and pray it sells. We don't spend money on anything that's not a dire need. We pray the IRS will continue to have patience regarding back taxes. We pray God will cause Caleb's skin to heal so surgery is NOT needed.

The vet clinic sees where we are. Kim Woodhouse in her new book, Welcome Home, talks about James 1 2-4 - finding joy in trials. I'm trying to find "joy" in this distress. Potential joy in how the vet and all involved will react when Caleb makes an unexpected turn for the best and God provides the finances to pay. But in the mean time my attitude and John's attitude are key. We can't grump. I'm getting the nudge that I need to believe all this will happen (Caleb gets taken care of) before it does. So not me.

I need to see first, then praise later.

What if...

But that's not faith.

Yes, Caleb is a dog. He's not just a dog, he's my dog. A blessing God placed in my life almost 10 years ago.

UPDATE: Just got word from the vet. Good news. Caleb is doing well. Up and about, devouring food. Vitals are good. He's ready to come home. We'll have to take him in every 5-7 days to have dead skin tissue cut away (think burn victim). Doc wants to avoid surgery. Pray skin heals up very well.