Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

 

Did you know that the tallest sand dunes in all of North America are in Colorado?  Seems odd, huh?  I would think it would either be along the coast somewhere or maybe in the Arizona deserts, but actually you’ll find them in southern Colorado.  As you may know, one of the items on my Bucket List is to visit every National Park in the U.S.  On Friday we visited Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona (more on that soon).  Yesterday we visited Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Here’s the view from the visitor center!  Isn’t it gorgeous.  When we were there a monsoon storm was coming in from the east so the dark clouds cast shadows on the mountains and the dunes creating an ever-changing canvas of colors.

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado

Summer’s not the best time to visit the park because the temperatures on the dunes can reach the mid-100’s (F).  We were smart enough to stay away from walking on the sand, but since we were in the area, it was still nice to get a preview of the place in case we want to come back and visit again sometime.  If you have a chance to visit the NPS website, you’ll see that there is really quite a bit to do around there besides just running around on the dunes.  Looks like there’s a seasonal river, lake, waterfall, wildlife, beautiful fall and spring color, camping, hiking, etc.  I definitely think it’s worth another trip.

You can explore any part of the 30 square mile dunefield you wish; there are no designated trails in the sand. And there’s even a sand dunes-accessible wheelchair available for free loan at the Visitor Center for those who aren’t quite as mobile.

Here are a few of the photos we took during our short visit.  We saw Pronghorn and Mule Deer as well as the expected chipmunks and squirrels.  Let me know if you’ve been there and what was the most fun for you during your visit.

 

Simple Summer Ideas – Eats, Drinks, Decor

Hey there friends,  I have been staring at the last post for much too long and I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, so here’s a little sumthin’ for your summer inspiration.

I know, it’s way past time to bring out the summer decorations.  It will be Independence Day next week, after all!  Can I confess that I still have my Easter decorations on my branch in the living room?  Yowzah!  Hopefully, I can switch them out for summer decor this weekend.

Things have been quite buzy around here with a bunch of changes happening, as well as more on the horizon.  Sadly, my time to concentrate on the transitions are limiting my time to post.  No worries though, there will be more news and posting to come.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of my Summer Centerpiece.  I happen to use mine in the guest bath.  Yes, a centerpiece in the bathroom!  As you know I try to trick myself into believing that I live near the water, especially in these hot summer months when our temperatures are consistently in triple digits (this week it was up around 113 degrees F)!

I keep this simple centerpiece in the bathroom where I get ready every morning.  It fills my mind with memories of sandy beaches, coastal breezes and the sound of waves lapping on the shore.  Which reminds me…I may have a chance to visit my little hometown on Lake Erie in September and I can’t wait to walk on the beach and hear the sounds of the waves as I drift off to sleep!  I never realized what a blessing it was to live just steps from the shore until recently.

For this fun candle arrangement, just find a rustic container, fill it with sand, shells, a candle (or 3) and things that remind you of summer.  Try one yourself and post a link here so we can all see it?

More ideas for your summer inspiration:

Patriotic Slipcover Transformation

4th of July Beverage Ideas

4th of July – Summer Recipes

4th of July – Patriotic Decor

Let me know your plans for the summer and have an awesome holiday!

I Couldn’t Have Done it Without YOU!

Thank you everyone for all your support in helping me raise the funds for my upcoming trip to the Arab World!

With your financial gifts, as well as your donations of items for our yard sale, the Lord brought in enough to cover all of my trip expenses, and then some!  I was able to pass along the extra monies to the Global Training Institute to assist others in the group who hadn’t reached their fundraising goal yet.

We had a great yard sale, even though it was over 100 degrees last weekend. Thanks to all of you who donated items for us to sell…you know who you are.  Special thanks to Terry and Diane for getting up before the crack of dawn to help set up and sell and to Chuck for helping to put stuff away in 100+ degrees.  This is what the garage looked like before we moved everything out to the driveway for the sale last Saturday.

Garage full of yard sale

2012 yard sale big stuff

We had a steady stream of folks on Saturday despite the heat so I didn’t have time to take any photos after things got started.  And although there were less visitors on Sunday, we still had some good sales.

Yard sale street view

On Sunday we set up our cashier’s table in a shady spot right by the front door of the house.  The quiet pace made it almost relaxing. The income from both days were a huge addition to the fundraising goal.  Thank you!

Terry at yard sale

Shredder even decided to come out and hang with us for a while.  She couldn’t quite decide if it was too hot to lay in the sun.  In this shot she’s right next to my chair, half in and half out of the sun.

Shredder at yard sale

Also if anyone’s interested we still have a lovely 18 place-setting set of 1961 vintage Kayson’s Golden Rhapsody china for sale.  It has lots of extras and serving pieces as well.  You’ll see vintage china like this being used for the latest wedding or baby showers or even a wedding reception!  For more photos and info visit my ad on Craig’s List

1961 Kayson Golden Rhapsody china

When I sell them, I’ll be putting the funds in savings to start an account for future short term missions trips, with the hope that the Lord will allow me to go again sometime.

Thank you again to all of you for your support financially, through yard sale donations and your continued prayer and encouragement for the trip.

By the way, GTIW is still raising funds to pay for the travel and training expenses of the women from the Arab World that will be attending the sessions.  You can still donate here.

What would you risk for your faith?

Woman in black -Jericho, Israel

What if you were in search of the truth and God’s plan for your life, but unable to read the Bible? Did you know that many Arab women are illiterate?  Many more live in fear of their husbands or families, who are encouraged by the Qur’an to beat or kill their family members if they embrace or even study any other religious faith.

Cut off from any biblical understanding of their God-given role in their home and community, Arab women often submit to an unhealthy identity, born out of Islamic culture and its sometimes dysfunctional directives for family relationships. This situation frequently leads to feelings of isolation, loneliness and poor self-esteem.  The Global Training Institute for Women (GTIW) has a passion to reach out to these women who desire to know more about God and teach them about their priceless value and precious identity in Christ.

GTIW is designed as a region-specific program, where currently about 20 Christian women leaders have been selected from the Arab world (Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Sudan, and Jordan) to attend the training.  Some of these women have had to flee their home cities or countries because their lives were in danger as a result of their faith journey.  These same women are taking the risk to travel to this training.

They will meet with a small group of trainers face-to-face two times a year for three years in a neutral location. The classes are small to facilitate the building of deep relationships in a safe environment; the trainers are experienced and equipped; the training itself is focused and systematic. The Institute covers three core areas: Biblical understanding, character development, and ministry skills. The women are also encouraged to pass along what they learn to others when they return home in their church or faith community.

GTIW will be conducting their first Middle East training sessions in early May and I’m thrilled to have been asked to serve on the team! This time they would like me to document the sessions in pictures. The photos will be used to raise awareness and funds for future ministry.  The plan is to continue training these same 20 women (plus more) and funds will be needed to provide transportation and training costs for all of them.  With my event planning background, I’m also hoping to do what I can to help the Team Mobilization Director, Stephanie with the many logistical and administrative tasks that will be involved in bringing the training team of 7 from the U.S. and 20 women from the Arab countries to the training location.  I’m so thrilled at the chance to use the gifts God has given me to help others.

I would love for you to consider a donation to help me minister alongside the GTIW team from May 3rd to 14th.  My remaining financial goal is only $1100. Would you be willing to contribute $5, 50 or even $500? Every dollar really does count! None of it goes into my pocket. The donations are tax deductible and you’ll promptly receive a donation receipt since GTIW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit!

If you’d like to donate, please go to the GTIW Support Page here:

Please be sure to select my name (Nancy Hann) from the team member drop-down menu. Or if you’d rather mail a check, it should be made out to Global Training Institute for Women (or GTIW is fine), but PLEASE include my name in the address on your envelope or on a separate piece of paper so we know whose account it should be credited to:

Nancy Hann
GTIW
8283 N. Hayden Road, Suite # 258
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

If you’d like to know more about the ministry, please go to www.GreaterReach.com (aka GTIW)

Thank you so much for considering a donation. I can’t get there without you!  If you’re not able to contribute financially, your prayers would be a huge contribution as well!  Please pray for the personal and scholarship funding, for safety for all the ladies coming from so many different places, clear communication of biblical truths across cultural and language barriers, and God’s hand in every aspect of the trip.

Since things at home have been a bit up in the air and crazy this last month with my surgery, I’m in a tight timeframe for fund raising, which motivates me to reflect even more on my word for 2012 – “TRUST”.  I am trusting God for the funds needed and all the details to come together to go on this short term missions trip in early May.

I’m also planning a yard sale soon to raise funds for the trip.  If you have anything you were planning to get rid of and would like to donate it for the sale, please let me know and I’ll make arrangement to get the item(s) from you.

Thank you for your involvement!  Whatever it may be.

Traveling with Purpose – Using your gifts to help others

Have you ever been touched by the vision and goals of a particular non-profit and struggled with the fact that you didn’t have the money to write them a big check?  I have.  I’ve also wondered what I could do with my life and limited resources to help so many of the worthy causes that I encounter.

Early in our marriage, when our growing family was trying to stretch every penny I realized that in many cases my time and talents were just as important as my dollars.  It was then that  I committed to give a portion of my time, gifts and talents to serve and assist at church and various non-profits that were close to my heart.  It was and still is the LEAST I can do!

Sarajevo womanWith that in mind, a few years ago I was given the opportunity to go on a short-term missions trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina through our church.  Short-term missions was something that I had always wanted to do.  I love to travel and love to help people, but circumstances had prevented it in the past.  Now God was opening the door for me to be able to “Travel with Purpose“.  My first trip was with my husband and another couple and because of my photography hobby I was asked to participate on the trip using that skill set.  I had the privilege of:

  • documenting all the details of the outreach and ministry on the trip in pictures to share with others when we returned
  • taking photos of the children that were sponsored by our church so that their sponsors in the U.S. could see how they were coming along
  • taking photos of a missionary family, along with their home, neighborhood, church etc. so we could report on their progress to those supporting them at home – Soon after our visit they had to return to the U.S. unexpectedly for medical reasons and the photo book that I was able to create was a tangible reminder of their time serving in Bosnia.

What a thrill it was to be able to contribute out of my gifting!  If you’d like to see a few of my favorites, you can check them out at Flickr here.

2011 The Old City of JerusalemAnd it didn’t stop there!  Last year I was working part time with a non-profit called Greater Reach Ministries (now Global Training Institute for Women – GTIW).  They were in the planning stages of a training program that reaches around the planet to unleash influential women to impact their world.  They were embarking on a vision trip to Israel & Jordan to meet with women and discover how GTIW might come alongside them to assist with encouraging, training, empowering, and releasing women to be all that they were created to be.  Again, I was invited to join the team!  I was so excited to be able to help with documenting the women and the culture in those countries so that we could bring back images to help convey the message of the ministry and the needs in the Arab world!  And here’s a link to some of my favorites from this trip.

Now I have a new opportunity!  This same ministry, GTIW will be conducting their first training session in May of this year in the Middle East and I’ve been asked to come along.  This time I will document the sessions in pictures, as well as assisting the Team Mobilization Director with the many logistical and administrative tasks that will be involved in bringing the training team from the U.S. and about 20 women from 5 different Arab countries to the training location overseas.  The photos will be used to raise awareness and funds for future training sessions and my administrative support should help this first session to run smoothly while lightening the load for the Director.  I’m so thrilled at the chance to use what God has given me to help others.

How about you?

Have you found ways to use your gifts and talents to help where the need is greatest?  Or perhaps you’ve been blessed with the financial resources to help others.  We were not all meant to do the traveling.  Some of us have the opportunity to help others fulfill their vision by responding financially.  Is that your contribution to furthering these noble causes?  If so, I would love for you to consider a gift to help me travel to the Middle East.  My financial goal is only $2700 and $1000 has already been raised.  This brings me almost halfway to my goal.  Would you be willing to contribute $5, 50 or even $500?  Every dollar really does count!    None of it goes into my pocket.  And the donations are tax deductible since GTIW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit!

If you’d like to help pay for the expenses of the trip, please go to the GTIW Support Page here and select my name (Nancy Hann) from the team member drop-down menu.  Or if you’d rather mail a check, it should be made out to Global Training Institute for Women (or GTIW is fine), but PLEASE include my name in the address on your envelope or on a separate piece of paper so we know whose account it should be credited to:

Nancy Hann

GTIW

8283 N. Hayden Road, Suite # 258

Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Thank you so much for considering a contribution.  Every little bit helps.  Feel free to come back and see the progress on the blue thermometer in the sidebar!

Have you had a chance to “Travel with Purpose”?  Where did you go and what did you do?  I’d LOVE to hear about it!

New Blog Name and Giveaway!

Hey friends,

I’m excited to announce that I have a new URL for my blog and it’s so easy to remember.

TouristOfLife.me

Fun huh?  Add this to your bookmarks or blog reader so you can come back anytime!  If you have the old URL bookmarked it should redirect to the new one too.

Plus, in celebration of my new URL and Blog name, I’m giving away a”Tourist of Life” treasure box!  Just a few things that you’ll need to be a Tourist of Life.

  • 2 boxes of sparklers – what’s a celebration without sparklers?

  • 1 mini suitcase filled with chocolates – So easy to fit in your carry-on and who doesn’t crave chocolate on a long trip?

  • 1 spiral bound lined journal (8  1/2 “x 5 1/4”)- Isn’t this one a beauty inside and out! Spiral bound books are so easy to write in and great for documenting the details of your next trip.

  • And 3 cardstock luggage tags with travel themed graphics (there’s one on the top of the journal too).  Add your contact information to the back, then get them laminated at your local print shop.

Maybe you’d like these for yourself or maybe you’d like to use them to fill a special someone’s Easter or Mother’s Day basket. I’ll be drawing the winner next Tuesday night, March 27th, from everyone who comments below.  So…be sure to answer these two questions for a chance to win.

1.  What is your most favorite place to visit and why?

2. Which of these countries (my most recent trips) would you like to learn about first? I just can’t decide where to start.

  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Bosnia

Just for fun, this is me having lunch at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness in Scotland. It was taken by my daughter, Amy.  Until I get around to posting it, you can find out more about our Scotland trip at her blog ThoseCrazySchuberts.com.

You can also find lots of tips and ideas for creative small businesses at Amy’s other site – LemonandRaspberry.com.

I promise I’ll start posting about my trips, so be sure to come back and see them.  They were all so interesting…  And don’t forget to come back on Tuesday or Wednesday to see who wins the treasure box!

Where have you traveled to lately?  You don’t need to leave the country to enjoy a fun adventure.

The View from the Sofa

A few weeks ago I had surgery and I’ve been home recuperating since then.  On doctor’s orders I’ve done a lot of sitting around, so I thought I’d give you a peek into my view from the sofa.

Shredder

Shredder

Here’s my buddy, Shredder.  Our 21 year old cat.  She’s been hanging out on the sofa with me every day.  Here she is on her favorite blanket.

Basically she sleeps away the day in the middle of the sofa and I sit to her right (under that blue blanket when it’s chilly).

 

Sometimes when my lap is empty she climbs up and sleeps there too.  She stretches out with her head on my chest and tail down by my knees as I watch my favorite home improvement/decorating show on the TV.  I have to admit that I watched a lot of HGTV, especially the first few days when I was on pain killers and couldn’t focus enough to do much of anything else.

Below is the view to the right, into the kitchen.  Our island is filled with beautiful flowers and sweet cards from friends (and my hubby).  Have I mentioned that I LOVE FLOWERS of all kinds?  Looking at these just make me happy.  And many of our friends and family brought meals and sweet gifts while I was out of commission as well.  All of them were a constant reminder of what loving family and friends we have.

Flowers and Cards

Do you live in a loving community?  I hope so!  We were created to love and be loved and the freedom to express and receive love nourishes us to our very core.   I have felt so much love over the last few weeks and that’s not because I’m such a special person.  It’s because the community that I’m part of just gets it.  They know how to love well.  They understand how important it is to come alongside, affirm, encourage and support others and I am SO BLESSED to be part of this exceptional community.

And here’s my sweet husband serving me like he has been since my surgery.  He’s taken on all of my chores around the house, cooking, cleaning the catbox, laundry and all.  He even freshened up my flowers for me every few days.  What a keeper he is!

Terry serving

More flowers

And some more lovely flowers from some of my co-workers to the left of where I’m sitting.

And now a fun bonus!  When I was going stir crazy this week and feeling well enough to stand up and walk around a bit, I finally put up this calendar on the side of my refrigerator.  I kind of like it! (Be sure to click to enlarge the photo.)

It’s called a “Peel It – Design It” Birds in Flight calendar.  Each piece around the calendar is a decal that is position-able wherever you want to put it.  The monthly calendars are cardboard.  There were other decals that were orange and yellows that so far I’ve decided to leave out of the design but we’ll see if I add them later.  What do you think?

What do you do to support and encourage friends and family when they’re going through tough times?  Were you raised in a loving community?  Do you feel comfortable showing love to others?  What’s your favorite way to do that?