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Eating A Slice Of Humble Pie

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julie johnson

Have you ever had to eat a slice or even a whole humble pie? Well I have, many times in my life. A couple of years ago my husband, being the awesome youth pastor that he is, felt called to talk about grace and forgiveness. I thought it was such a great topic especially since it’s such a huge and deep concept. I mean really, can we fully grasp God’s grace for us? I honestly think that NO ONE can fully know how DEEP and how WIDE His grace is.

We give grace daily – to our children, to our co-workers, to the people who cut you off on the road. Grace has a wide range and covers a multitude of sins or misgivings. But, I’m talking about a grace MUCH deeper than these. I’m talking about life-changing, spirit altering, joy overflowing GRACE that comes with forgiveness.

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Making A Difference With AMIkids

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rose connolly


​Have you ever asked God to change your life, but not really known how or why? Well, I have some advice for you… don’t ask it if you don’t mean it!!

4 months ago I spent about an hour touring a court-ordered residential facility for teens. It was only an hour, but I knew that my life was changed forever. This wasn’t the rough and rigid juvenile hall we’ve all seen on TV. Confidence, respect, and smiles filled the sweet faces of my resident tour guides. There are no bars here. No cells. No barbed wire. Instead, the AMIkids halls are filled with counselors, educators, mentors… family.

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MARIA

It’s a stark comparison to the family life most of the residents are used to–like Angel, a Cuban refugee, whose stepfather was abusive and dealing drugs out of his home. By the age of 12, Angel was battling his own addictions and quickly turned to gangs for the family he so wanted. Between the ages of 15-16 he was arrested 6 times.

Shannon’s childhood was also formed by parental addiction. She ended up living with her grandmother and multiple cousins. They struggled to make ends meet. Her circumstances caused anger, resentment, and bad choices that eventually landed her in a courtroom.

Unfortunately, the cycle of negative behavior and chronic re-offence is a reality for the majority of kids in today’s juvenile justice system. For many, it will continue for the rest of their lives unless someone steps in with an alternative to their situation.

The AMIkids family is doing just that and I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it. To date, over 125,000 kids have been given a chance to separate their troubled past from their bright future.

Angel earned the AMIkids Admiral Scholarship, completed his B.A. while working full time as an admissions counselor, and graduated as valedictorian. He’s currently a licensed minister working with youth and pursuing his Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.

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Angel accepting his BA in Psychology in 2016

Shannon went on to earn her doctorate and is now a college adjunct professor of education and a high school teacher working with kids who have emotional and behavioral disorders.
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Shannon’s graduation in 2014.

Every child deserves this opportunity and I often think of Ephesians 2:10 when looking in the beautiful faces of our kids. They are: 

 “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand.”


I got in my car after the tour that day and called everyone I knew who I *thought* would listen to me. Hehe! And I could go on and on about our kids now, but they really say it best:


how you can make an immediate impact for our kids:


LIKE our Facebook page and SHARE the video to increase our visibility.
SCHEDULE a tour with me at one of our Tampa programs to meet our kids and get a first-hand glimpse of what we do.
PRAY about getting involved and how your gifts could be used to impact our kids.
CONNECT us with others in your network that may be a good fit for corporate partnerships.

If you would like to learn more please visit our website here or email me at rconnolly@amikids.org. I would love to hear from you! ​

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AMIkids annual whitewater rafting trip.


​“Potential is a priceless treasure in all of us, like gold hidden within…but we have to dig it out.”- Joyce Meyer

Styling For Fall In Gwynnie Bee

Fashion, Uncategorized

 

liana cruz

​Hey beauties, happy fall! It’s officially here so that means bring out those cute booties, long sleeves, and jackets. Us plus size girls have options now and not just a frumpy pullover jacket or a baggy pair of sweatpants, we can look good and show off our beautiful figure. So naturally, I turn to Gwynnie Bee to meet all my fall fashion cravings with all their beautiful brand named pieces I adore! 

The easy part about Gwynnie Bee? They send you beautiful brand name garments to try on in sizes 10-32, wear, and then, the suspense…deciding to #RentNReturn or #BorrowNBuy. Sometimes a piece you thought you’d never try on in the store is the winner, other times it’s an inseparable staple. The best part of it all is if you can’t part with what you receive, you can add it to your collection at an unbelievably discounted price (like “woah, is this for real” kind of pricing!).  Sometimes, you can wear a piece to a special girls night out or give it a whirl for your next holiday party and then send it back to get your next box on the way.

The beauty of it all–they have an absolutely FREE 30 day trial with no risk. If you decide to stick around (which you will want to), they have varied garment quantity packages, free shipping both ways and then of course, the cute clothes.

​I so love Gwynnie Bee for giving us options in so many shapes and forms, but the nail biting kicker is…should you #BorrowNBuy or #RentNReturn? Take a peek at my most recent styled box pieces and then see below how I decide what to.

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Sending Her Girl To Kindergarten.

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jennifer wagner


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​Well I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m officially less than two weeks away from being the mommy of a Kindergartener. Wow. That totally blows my mind. My tiny little bundle of surprise that made her debut into our lives a little over five years ago is actually going to big-kid school. 

I could go on and on about how this totally pulls at my heartstrings. But I’ll spare you the ooshy-gooshies. (well… I mean  there may be a few ooshy-gooshies here or there…)

But let’s focus on what I’m doing to prepare my mommy heart, AND my sweet little almost-kindergartener for this big change.

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​I’m letting her be little.

Before she heads off to big kid school where she has to be mature, patient, considerate, and all the other big things she’ll be learning how to do, I’m letting her be little. I’m letting her play, for hours on end, with whatever she chooses to play with. I’m letting her make forts with blankets, and string out all the towels, and make a big play-doh mess, and even… dare I say it… jump on the bed. Ok that was only once or twice, because let’s not get crazy. But I’m letting her be a little kid for a little bit. Just a little bit longer
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I’m giving her nuggets.

And I don’t mean chicken nuggets. Although she has those now and then, of course. I’m giving her little tidbits about what’s to come in Kindergarten. She’ll have different classrooms she visits, for music, or art. She’ll have a new playground to play on during recess. She’ll have “new exercises” she’ll learn in her PE class. I even drove by her school the other day (again) so she could see it. She said she just wants to know what is inside there! And I told her that soon enough, she’d know! I’m telling her about how she’ll have to work to get to know new friends, and how she’ll need to choose kindness at all times. And how her teacher will work so hard every day to teach her new things, and that it’s our job to make her it easier so that she can do just that. 
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​I’m buying school supplies. 

Wow. Those things are expensive! There are so many things they need! The former-teacher in me, though, honestly wants to buy them everything on that list and four times more. Because I know how important each and every item is! It was an exciting day this-past Saturday when we went to get all her school supplies. Although I discovered which item is her absolute favorite!!! 

Her lunch box! I actually ordered this one online from Sew Wonderfully Made Co on Etsy (21.00), and man oh man does this girl love it. She’s been carrying it around ever since. She’s filling it up with foods and snacks, and just won’t put it down. I have to admit that I think it is absolutely adorable as well. It’s just the right size to fit everything inside, but not so big that she can’t carry it. I am totally in love with the embroidered initials, and actually when I explained to my daughter what the letters were, she finally understood what  “initials” actually meant. You should have seen the look of wonder on her face. It’s amazing how exciting these little things are to a five-year-old. 

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I’m noticing every detail. 

In just a couple of weeks, she’ll be gone all day. Monday through Friday. Well, most of the day at least. I will miss her so very much. I’ll wonder what she’s doing, and how her day is going. I’ll think about the times we sat on the porch and had breakfast together. I’ll think of how we went to the park together almost every day. I’ll think of how she wanted me to play with her, to no end, for the last five years. And I’ll be eager to see her smiling face at the end of every school day. 

As of right now, even though I’ve tried to cherish every moment thus far, I am certainly noticing every single detail. Her smile, her words, her sweetness, her spiciness, her small hands, her beautiful eyelashes, her growing feet, her “Rapunzel hair”… And I’m noticing how she is becoming more mature, more focused on things for longer, more able to articulate what she’s thinking or feeling. I’m just… noticing. Not that I don’t normally, but I guess I’m just soaking it in just a little extra at the moment.

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I’m remembering it’s a good thing. 

For the last five years, countless friends, family members, and total strangers have reminded me that “it goes by so fast.” And of course, they are right! It does. I mean, not every day went by fast. Some days were a struggle just to make it through the day while keeping my sanity. But, it has indeed flown by just like everyone warned. 

BUT… Instead of letting myself be TOO sad about the fact that my precious first-born child who I am totally and completely sappily cherishing is going to elementary school, I’m remembering that it is a good thing. In fact, it’s the whole point of raising children… for them to grow up, go out into the world, become the best version of themselves, and change the world for the better. At least that’s the philosophy we live by in our household. 

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So yes. I will shed tears. I may be a little mopey on that first day (or three). I may have to pull on my closest friends for some emotional-mommy support. But I will savor these days, and remind my heart that the world needs something that can only be given by my sweet girl. And as I drop her off for school, I will pray for her diligently. Because I know that the best is truly yet to come for her. 

tell us below!

How are some ways your momma heart makes it through back to school? Help this sister out with all the tips!