Archives for April 2014

our missions work ~ consistency breeds credibility

Our Missions Work ~ Consistency Breeds Credibility

I never want to forget that moment of Jimmy playing baseball with Nano, the orphan we support, using simply a stick and a handful of rocks. And every time I see the picture, or watch the video, I find tears rolling uncontrollably down my face.

I loved how anytime Nano would go to play, he’d bring me whatever was in his hands at the time to hold for him. Even if I wasn’t nearby, he’d search to find me, simply so I could keep his things safe. I could see how he trusted me. It may seem silly, but holding his stuff felt a whole lot like he was allowing me to hold his heart.


When I first met him, he wouldn’t even look into my eyes. This time, he wouldn’t look away.
Last time, I wasn’t sure he was able to smile. This time, his laughter could be heard houses away.


And each time we stood to leave his side, he’d quickly ask with a sadness in his eyes, “Do you have to go back to your home now?” And each time I reassured him that we were just going to the bathroom, or to help a child, or back to our hotel…promising always, we’d be back. And each time I’d return, I’d find and hug him, reminding him we always keep our promises.

When the final day came and we had to answer his sad questioning eyes that yes, this time we actually did have to go back home, I reminded him that just as we had been before, we’d continue to come back.

Jimmy took him aside, a final father and son moment, and shared with him all our hopes and dreams for his future. How we love him, how Pastor Joel loves him, and how rules and expectations aren’t bad but just another way to show that we care and we want the best for his life. Jimmy encouraged him to be faithful in going to church and in learning more about the love that Christ has for him, and then with his arm around Nano, together they prayed.


It’s true when I say this trip wasn’t about poverty for me. It wasn’t about fixing them or their lives and then coming home feeling accomplished of doing a “good deed” in the comfort of my own community.

Instead, as God would have it…as unprepared for it as I was, it became all about vulnerability and building deeper relationships and trust.

Each time we go, incredibly, it becomes more and more authentic. Which is exactly why I keep going back. This is why I want more. I need more. And I pray over and over and over that somehow God will continue to use us in serving and doing missions work.

Here in the Dominican and wherever else He may call us to go.

This is my heart.

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my latest vitacost haul ~ health & beauty

You guys are seriously missing out if you haven’t graced the pages of my online happy place, Vitacost. Honestly, this website has changed my life (and budget) in so many ways. It’s especially made it easier to shop healthier, find an unbelievable amount of natural and organic products (food, health & beauty!), and at so much less than I’d spend if I was shopping at my local Sprouts or Health Food Store.  {I don’t work or get compensated in any way by Vitacost, by the way. This is my honest to goodness true obsession!}

So, here’s my latest haul from Vitacost (make sure to check out the others on my YouTube channel to get plenty of other ideas!), to hopefully inspire you to shop healthier on a budget!

Always first shop Vitacost through Ebates or Extrabux for extra cash back! I check both to see which is offering more cash back each time you order. I promise it’s worth it!
* Vitacost: (Get $10 when you sign up!)
* Ebates: (for $5 credit)
* Extrabux: (for $5 credit)

I always love to hear too, what you guys are using and loving when it comes to healthier products, so if you have something to recommend, leave a comment!


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our missions work ~ and so we all continue to cling to hope

Our Missions Work ~ and so we all continue to cling to hope…

I had hoped I would be inspired to write every day once I got away from the noise of my life. I had big dreams to finish a writing project, and even bigger dreams to start a new one.

But, it seemed the noise never really went away. It simply changed.

What was once the noise of busyness quickly became the noise of something I can’t quite understand enough yet to explain, honestly.

All I know is that there are a million thoughts, a million questions, and so many sets of wide questioning eyes staring into mine, and all I can do is blink back the tears, pray and trust.

And so we all continue to cling to hope.


It’s my 3rd trip here this year, and each time it gets easier while it also gets harder. Easier because I feel the love and an even deeper connection than ever before. The trust is building, and the comfort comes easy. And yet, harder because my eyes become more and more open to the truth of their lives and their world, and just how difficult it truly is to make change.


We want it.
They think they want it.
And then habits and culture show up stronger than the hope, and the cycle begins.

And then there is the issue of my heart and the reality of not being able to do all that it desires to do.
Our world is too big, and my reach seems too short.
How can I be there as often I hope to, when the resources I have don’t match the desires that consume me?

They’d ask every day when was I going home and begged for an answer as to when I’d be back. And instead I’d look into their eyes and think of all the things I’d need to say in that short moment we had, because the truth is, I never know for sure when that will be.

And so we all continue to cling to hope.


It’s a bunch of wants and needs and feelings that are all so incredibly real and true.
And it’s a whole lot of completely opposite wants, needs and feelings that also are incredibly real and true.

And this has been my truth this trip.
A whole lot of happiness.
An awful lot of disappointment.
And an even stronger desire to rest it all in the Lords capable hands, because mine are simply too weak.

And once again, over and over again, we all continue to cling to hope.

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yay or nay? what’s up with the products i’ve used up.

It’s time, once again, to go through my trash and share just what I thought of the products I was finally able to use up! Who knew going through my trash could be so much fun?

The things we do to help you all save (and spend) your money wisely. ha!


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our missions work ~ it’s not about poverty, it’s about relationships

Our Missions Work ~ it’s not about poverty, it’s about relationships

I had hopes of posting more last week while we were working in the D.R., unfortunately the internet had other plans, which included dropping out nearly every 20 seconds.  So instead I got a lot of practice with patience.

I have many thoughts.
Many stories.
Many lessons learned.

Only I may need another day or two to process through it all.
All I know is this time was different, more than any other time I’ve been there.
This time it wasn’t as much about the poverty as it was about the relationships.
Which almost makes it harder…and easier all at the same time.

My heart is hopeful yet also heavy, and I am full of missing aching-ness that I haven’t experienced quite like this. I pray and I see faces attached to names attached to stories and my eyes immediately fill with tears.

But more on all that later this week.

For now, here are just a few snapshots from the week that I’ve already memorized and find running through my thoughts and prayers ever since.

And thank you for your prayers.
I felt them.
And I still need them, they still need them, just as much now as we did last week.

I can’t wait until I can get back…





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going back to the dominican republic!

It’s hard to believe that a full year has passed since Taylor & I took our first trip to the Dominican Republic with Childrens Heritage Foundation. So much has happened in our lives, and even more so in the lives of the people living in Olivares. And now, Jimmy & I are just about to head back over for our first missions trip together (and our 4th trip combined this year)!

Real quick(ish), let me just share how YOUR prayers and support have made a difference this last year….


When we look back on the last 12 months of work in the village of Olivares, Dominican Republic, we stand in awe of what God has done through our initial step of faith. The following are some of our accomplishments during this very short period…

Food Security: We are cultivating over 17 acres of farmland that the program purchased with donations from several San Diego families. This Food Security project is focused on long-term solutions to expand food production and thereby reduce hunger among children and families in the village. Agricultural products including bananas, vegetables, corn, beans, poultry and fish.

Fish Farm: We are also assisting our local partners with a small fish production facility. This small project is serving as a pilot for a larger fish farm that we hope to develop in the village in the very near future.

Child Sponsorship: We are pleased to report that 8 of the 64 children who are up for sponsorship were sponsored in the last 8 months. As a result of the sponsorship program, these children are now going to school and receive daily nutritious meals.

{the two orphans we sponsor that now live with the pastor we work with}

Clean Water: Expanding access to clean water has been an integral part of our work. With the assistance of various San Diego residents and organizations, we began the construction of an expanded community clean running water system. We dug a new well, installed a modern pump, rehabbed four existing water storage tanks and laid the physical infrastructure to deliver clean running water to entire community. The clean water project is already benefiting many families, providing water that is free of bacteria, parasites and cysts. The clean water they receive every single day reminds them that God truly loves them!

Occupational training: We launched a cabinetmaking training program for unemployed youth from the community. This short-term vocational training course provides intensive, hands-on training in the making of household furniture. The training program helps youth to systematically develop their hand skills, along with an understanding of tools, materials, and processes, a sense of care, and a commitment to excellence in their craft. Five unemployed and uneducated young men from the village are currently enrolled in the program.

Baseball Academy: We have created a baseball academy that is teaching the fundamentals of baseball and prepare talented young athletes for a career in Major League Baseball. The academy also motivates athletes to do well in school and instill the practices of good ethics, respect, courage, perseverance, resilience and life-long learning.
In addition, we rebuilt the local baseball field that had been in disrepair for decades.

Mission Trips: CHF facilitated 4
 mission trips that included over 32 San Diego residents to Olivares, Dominican Republic. These trips brought much needed supplies to this poverty stricken community.

I also asked Robert to share with me his greatest prayer requests & needs so I could pass it along. And it’s because you’re among our most caring friends that I’m asking you to please join us in prayer for our list of future projects and activities:

· Expansion of the Clean Water system – Extend the physical infrastructure for an additional one kilometer ($1,500)

· Modern Playground – Build a modern playground for the children of Olivares ($5,200)

· Occupational Training Center – Construction of a permanent building to house the occupational training program ($3,500)

· Community Clinic – Construction of a small building to serve as a community clinic: ($7,200)

· Child sponsorship – Secure child sponsorship for the additional 56 children who are in need of sponsorship. Let us know if you’re interested! ($35/month per child)


Many of you have emailed me over the months just how you can get involved in supporting us…and quite honestly the greatest gift you can give to us is your prayers. We would love if you would consider committing to praying for us daily or weekly as we continue to be involved in this ministry? We need the Lord to go ahead of us in this venture; preparing our hearts and the hearts of the people we will be reaching out to.

Please feel no obligation, but if you desire to make a tax deductible donation in any amount know that we would be so grateful! (An accounting of all funds will be available, should you desire to see it, upon our return.)

Tax Deductible Financial contributions can be made using the following methods:
~ Online: Make a secure online tax deductible donation by visiting the Children’s Heritage Foundation website.
(Donations can be made in multiples of $10, 25, 50, or 100)
Make sure to enter “Saldana Family” in the comment box. You will be emailed a confirmation of payment within 24 hours.

~ By Phone:  Make a contribution by phone using your credit card by calling (858) 481-1389 Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p. m.

~ By Mail: Checks should be made payable to Children’s Heritage Foundation. Please write our names/Domincan Republic in the memo line of the check. You can mail checks to:

We sincerely thank you again for all your love, encouragement, prayers and support over this last year!!!
We are incredibly grateful to be partners with all of you in this ministry.

Summer & Jimmy

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what i loved & where i’ve been: me time, drugstore beauty & should we spoil our kids?

It was a slow week for me online…
I think April may just be a bust for me when it comes to consistent blogging & keeping up, but I am so looking forward to May when things settle down for just a bit, and I can settle back into a routine! The older I get, the more I realize I love routine. Is that weird? And I weird?
Don’t answer that.

Next week I’ll be back in the Dominican Republic, so I’ll post when I have internet, hopefully updating you with posts & videos on all that we’re doing over there. I am beyond excited to get back to my home away from home, and hug all those beautiful souls, reminding them that not a day has passed that I haven’t thought of and prayed for them. Would love it if you’d all keep us in your prayers!

~ What I Loved ~

Cotton Candy Ice Cream (Skinny Confidential): My sister sent this link to me the other night, and it looks so delicious! Definitely need to try this out ASAP. If you beat me to it, let me know your thoughts!

How much “me” time is too much? (The Better Mom): This is a never ending battle going on inside me…how DO I find the balance between rest and sacrifice? How do you?

Train your thoughts (Peak 313): I loved this post from my sweet friend, Clare. Our family has been making an extra effort to work on our thoughts & things we talk about, and this post touched on exactly where we’ve been.

~ Where I’ve Been ~

Le Musings YouTube:
2014 Spring Beauty Essentials
Vitacost Haul/Unboxing ~ My latest order
March Beauty Favorites
The Best Beauty Products at the Drugstore
Quick & Affordable Travel Tips & Products You Can’t Go Without

SheKnows Mommalogues:
Do you think there’s anything wrong with spoiling your kids?
Over the top proposals: Yes or No?
Should vaccinating kids be mandatory?
What’s one thing single people don’t understand about being married?
What’s your pet name for your spouse?


What have you guys loved & where have you been?
Please share!



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12in1: unstuck ~ monthly challenges update

I have absolutely 100% dropped the ball on keeping up with my monthly challenges blog posts. The good news is that we are still keeping them alive and well though, in our family & home.

So, here’s the latest on what we’re calling 12 in 1:Unstuck

Our family is definitely still loving and working through our monthly challenges for 2014, although the newness and excitement from the beginning of the year has absolutely started to wear off a bit.  But we aren’t quitters…or at least Jimmy & I aren’t, so we’re plugging away determined to show our kids that this is worth seeing through to the end.

March was Books over TV month, where we set limits on how much TV we watched, replacing that habit instead with time reading…either alone or together as a family.


Surprisingly, giving up our TV time came quite easily.  The kids never had it on during the week (and rarely even asked for it!), and had at most maybe an hour a day on the weekends, while Jimmy and I stuck to an hour or less just a few nights a week.

But the books part of the plan?
Um ya, not so much.

All of Taylors free time was spent with the Rainbow Loom, crafting up hundreds (it appears) of bracelets I’m pretty sure he’ll never wear but simply wanted the challenge of making, and I found that I love love love Instagram & YouTube more than I ever had before the T.V. was turned off.  Although, I will admit that Jimmy and Chloe, however, did awesome with this part of the challenge. Chloe read to me during nearly every one of my baths and showers, and by the end of the month was even bringing books with her every time she headed to the potty. And I lost count of how many books Jimmy consumed for the month, though mostly because he was working hard to finish a seminary class before our trip to London.

For the month of April, we chose to go along with my friend Laura’s idea, and give up uttering anything negative. And let me just say….Dang. That’s not as easy as I thought it would be. As it turns out, we’re all just a bunch of Isrealites wandering around the desert in this house. I’m kind of thinking we should have done the jar idea like Laura’s doing. But the good thing about all this is, at least we’re now more aware, and spending 30 days being hyper focused on it HAS to bring about some change, right?!?

Ya, more on this at the end of the month.

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let’s talk about blogging

Goodness. Taking that week off from writing in London has really messed with my flow of blogging! I was doing so well with keeping to my schedule, and then just ONE WEEK was all it took to throw me off completely. I’m figuring out that sometimes, writing can be a bit like working out. It’s so easy to get out of the habit if you aren’t doing it consistently.

Anyway…I feel like I have a lot of little updates to share, so I’ll try to catch you all up this week on where I’ve been and what’s happening in my life and heart.

Today, let’s talk about BLOGGING

If any of you have been following for more than a year, you probably know that every few months I cycle through this whole, “What is this all for? Should I still be doing this? Is this even making a difference in the world? Maybe I’m not that good of a writer because I’m not as successful~witty~pretty (insert comparative adjective here) as so and so?” type of funk.

I have to admit, after my unintentional week-ish off, I found myself heading down that road rather quickly. And I think that’s perhaps why things have been more quiet around here. It’s so hard to write when the inspiration doesn’t seem to be there.

Thankfully, I have been blessed with incredibly encouraging and inspiring friends. In sharing my heart, they openly shared theirs, and instantly I was reminded of all the reasons behind why I feel such a desire to share my life through my writing and videos.

I may not be able to write 5 days a week, or even always 3 days a week, but it is my heart to write, and when I feel inspired to do so, I absolutely will. And what I’m learning about myself is that I can’t always force what isn’t in my heart to share, and it’s just not me to make up a blog post simply because the experts say to post so many times a week, or because so and so blogger who is raking in the readers and contracts does it that way.

I don’t want to live in order to blog…if that makes any sense.  Sometimes, I just want to live, and get so caught up in my life and family and friends that I forget to blog. And I don’t want to feel guilty or care that I might be missing out on the growth other blogs are achieving by being consistent, or any kind of that of yucky comparison game I often get myself caught up in. Its taken a few years, but I’m finding that ever so slowly, I’m loosening my grip on all of those strongholds and instead finding a way and a path that is right for me.

In a way, I’m taking it back old school style. I want to get back to why I started this all, which is to share my heart in hopes of connecting to others. And there just can’t be a one size fits all formula for that.

Okay! So, that’s where I am this time around in all of my deep blogging life thoughts.

You still with me? 😉


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anxiety sucks and this is my story.

As many of you know, a lot of my life I have struggled with anxiety. I’ve shared often here on my blog, but so many of you have asked me to make a video more in detail about what I’ve been through and how I’ve been able to manage it.

I literally have filmed this three different times over the last couple months, and each time I just never felt it was good enough to share so publicly.  But this third time I realized that I would always find faults in sharing something so personal, and that I needed to just let go and put it up regardless of how I felt. So, if you have other questions for me that I might not have addressed this time, let me know and I’ll happily collect them all and do another video with all the Q&A’s soon.

I pray with all my heart that by sharing my anxiety story it provides some sort of insight and comfort for all of you who are struggling down this road as well. I want to encourage you to always remember that you are never alone in this, and if you trust and lean on the Lord, He will continually bring beauty from your pain. He promises. And it’s not in His nature to break His promise.

The verses that I mentioned encouraged me during those tough days, and continue to inspire me now:

You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
Isaiah 26

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14

I lift up my eyes to the hills-
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip-
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you-
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm-
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in
Psalm 34:18

The Lord Your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take
great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice
over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many
kinds, becuase you know that the testing of your faith develops
perserverance. Perserverance must finish it’s work so that you may be
mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has
stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has
promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of
a sound mind.
2 Tim. 1:7

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me.

He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me;
God sends his love and his faithfulness.
Psalm 57: 1-3

He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you will his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
not the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall by your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling–
even the Lord, who is my refuge–
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because SHE loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue HER;
I will protect HER, for SHE acknowledges my name.
SHE will call upon me, and I will answer HER;
I will be with HER in trouble,
I will deliver HER and honor HER.
With long life I will satisfy HER
and show Her my salvation.”
Psalm 91

May the God of HOPE fill you will all JOY and PEACE as you TRUST in
Him so you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares
for those who trust in Him.
Nahum 1:7

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