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"Buttonieers" and button corsages

31 August 2012

The days of faux-flowers has come and gone! Sustainable alternatives such as broaches and buttons are all the rage. Not only are they significantly cheaper and DIY for you craft lovers but utilizing materials to create bouquets, buttonieers and corsages allows you further personalize your wedding or event. 

Recently, I had a friend who made a button bouquet to write a tutorial. She also made a button corsage and buttonieer for their button themed wedding shower. Utilizing the same techniques she just added either a safety pin backing for the buttonieer or a hairband for the corsage. 

A little bit wiser?

Recently I've been noticing a disconnect between my personal opinions and those of the younger generation around me. Have you experienced this?

For example, yesterday Mr. Collier and I attended the first college football game of the season. Two S-E-C teams battled it out in front of our eyes. Sure I was wearing the same adorable cotton black dress, brown belt and cowboy boots as the younger XX's (girls) there but I didn't get to think about the game until about 5:30 p.m. when we were walking to the stadium whereas the other XX's had been partying/tailgating since 11 a.m. 

I'm at the point in my life where I'd swap a $1 beer for a nice $12 martini with a sidecar. Where standing outside for 4 hours partying gives me a headache and a waste of time. I worry about dehydration and keeping my skin moisturized. I take a few Advil as a prophylactic before concerts or other loud environments. That's right I'm maturing. And I'm ok with it. How do you deal?    

Bridal Button Bouquet Tutorial

16 August 2012

Button Bouquet by C. Mulder

How To: Button Bouquet

Our friend Katie got married, yay! For her bridal shower, which was buttoned themed, I made the bride and groom a button boutonniere and a button corsage.  For the wedding I was asked to make a button bouquet, which I was secretly nervous about, but it turned out great!  Here is how it happened.

What I used:
-  22 gauge floral stem wire (I used 8 packs of 36)
-  1000s of buttons in all sizes (2 and 4 hole buttons work the best)
-  White ribbon
-  Floral tape
-  Felt, fabric and paper flowers
-  Wire snips

Step One: Making Button Strands

Take a single stand of wire and bend it in half.  Once you pick out the buttons you would like for the stand, thread the wire through at least two of the button holes. Make sure you are going from the smallest to largest button size. If you like what you see, then start twisting the wire together.  Hooray - you’ve made your first one!

Step Two: Making Flower Strands

Take any felt, fabric or paper flowers and apply the same technique as step one.  Make sure you use a large button at the base of these flowers for stability. Repeat steps one and two until you have enough buttons and flowers for your bouquet.

Step Three: Assembly Part One

Take a few smaller bunches of your buttons and flowers and arrange them until you like how it looks. Holding the bunch very tight, start wrapping the middle with floral tape. You want to make sure you only wrap the middle of your bunch or else you will see the tape when the entire bouquet is done - I made this mistake, but luckily it didn’t look too bad.

Repeat step three until you have all of your smaller bunches complete. If are making a smaller bouquet to begin with, then you can skip step three entirely. I found it easier to wrap smaller sections instead of one big one, but you can do it either way.

Step Four: Assembly Part Two

Take your smaller bunches and arrange them together until it looks good.  Take your floral tape and begin to wrap the entire bouquet together.  It may be helpful to have a second pair of hands for this part. 

Step Five: Even it Out

Cut the wires on bottom of the bouquet so everything is even. I had some help with this part because there was a lot to cut through!  The wires can get sharp so be careful.

Step Six: Fluff it Out

Since you are using wire, it’s easy to fix any mistakes that you see. Start pulling out strands that may have gotten lost or bending some down to make the bouquet look perfect.

Step Seven: Final Touches

Begin to wrap ribbon over the stems of the bouquet. I did not glue the ribbon, but it would probably be a smart idea to do so. For an added touch, I found a pearl bouquet wrap and slipped that over the ribbon. Most wedding aisles in craft stores have things for DIY bouquets, so that’s a good place to look for little add-ons.

That’s all!  Pretty simple, right?  The entire bouquet took me about 10 hours total to complete, which was spread out over a few days. I ordered 95% of the materials I used online and the rest came from craft stores. The thing I really like about button bouquets is how unique you can make them. I didn’t add any beads or glitz to the one I made, but you can get super fancy or go crazy wild with them! Hope this helped any curious minds and happy buttoning!  

Small foot note - a piece of advice if you are going to order materials online, make sure you order well in advance so you don’t freak out at the last minute. I had this experience when ordering materials to make the actual flowers and they did not come in time. Luckily, I found some fantastic flowers on Etsy that saved the day! While it was not my intention to buy pre-made flowers, I must give a giant thank you Kotton Candy Creations!

Special thanks to Cheryl Mulder for her guest post on tobemrscollier! 

Stock up on School Supplies. 'Tis the season!

Labor day weekend is my favorite time of year for many reasons. It signals the return of Fall, by far my favorite wardrobe. It brings back flavors of pumpkin and deep cinnamon. But it also means back to school merchandise sales! Free pens, paper and folders among other college preparation items. 

I learned about this most secret time of year during my undergraduate education which did not begin until after Labor day so I was able to reap all of the sales since most of my colleagues were back in school by Labor Day. Not me! Sure it might take some scouring but Walmart and Target superstores are where you need to be searching. Sunday papers over the next few weeks should have some great deals since companies are aware stores have over-purchased in preparation for college and the beginning of schools. Print coupons (as many as you can) from the Target website. Enlist friends to print pen and any related school supply coupons as well as the essential toothpaste, deodorant and basic cleaning supplies. All of these should begin to appear on the clearance racks and can be purchased for practically free. Even if you personally don't need all of these supplies I'm sure local churches and youth organizations would be more than happy to accept a donation or two. Even some Starbucks partner with schools which seek out donations for kids. As I've said before, doing good for others has been shown to relieve stress and promote happiness within the giver. 

Our Mission Trip Concluding Thoughts

15 August 2012

As I sit here reflecting on my first mission trip several thoughts come to mind. 
  1. When God says,"Go," you go. Before this mission opportunity presented itself I had been considering going on a mission trip. I would mention it to Mr. Collier frequently. I can't exactly explain it. It was equivalent to an "inner tugging" on my heart and an intense yearning to have this experience. For me it was challenging to break out of my element, not being sure how I could become involved and being immersed in a foreign country and culture. Looking back, I'm so glad that I did though!  
  2. Everyone has a gift. Our church is currently undergoing a redefining phase where we are examining what it means to be a church. Our conclusion has been that the people are the church and they work best when they are utilizing their gifts and talents. As it turns out, everyone has a gift. You may be an accountant, a stay-a-home mom, a truck driver, teacher or even nurse all of which have skills to bring to a mission trip but I found that none of that really matters. There are needs across the world that only a person with your skill-set can address. So what is holding you back?
  3. There is always something to be done. The need for missions is greater than ever both stateside and abroad. Poor and underprivileged are universal terms. I saw that first hand. I was part of the group that walked the dirt roads in the village of Juan Tomas, D.R. Every American youth should walk that walk. The conditions were poor by our standards. There was trash and smells that we wouldn't dare tolerate and yet people have joy. They laugh and enjoy life. It is like the image of the first flower in a field of snow. One of hope. Hope lives in the places that are unseen. And it is fortunate that we can be a part of that hope in other people's lives.
  4. You don't have to leave to serve. So in essence, there is something to be done and we have the power, by God, to move. To Act. Take that risk seriously. God has great plans for you but you don't have to go far to make a difference. For example, at the Fountain of Life Bible School where we stayed and participated in our mission trip you can sponsor a child in their private education for less than $250 a year. Find out more about that ministry or discover another of your own.  

Our Mission Trip Day 7

courtesy of A. Roebuck
Today was our last full day in the Dominican Republic and for a treat, Richard planned for us to go to the beach after a long week of work. We awoke, had our breakfast and were back on the air conditioned bus by 8 a.m. It was actually quite funny to watch all of us get cold in the air conditioning that we have lived thus far without. We watched ICE AGE 2 in Spanish on the way to the day resort which took around two hours. The resort was all inclusive. All in all we really just enjoyed being in the salt water sea and playing volleyball together. We had formed quite the family in our D.R. group! We think about each other, pray and play together, look out for each other and tuck one another's mosquito nets in at night. I am going to really miss this group when we get back to the States. Anna, Luke and Karly all went on a diving trip together returning only minutes before we were scheduled to return to camp. We got back on the bus and began to assess the sunburn damage. Many of us, including myself, got pretty burnt by the hot sun despite using sunscreen. We arrived back to camp and had our final thoughts by Larry D. and a testimony read by Dr. Dunn. Games were played into the night as we spent our remaining hours together.

Creative Reception Decor

Weddings have been spiraling into a unique and personalized direction. More and more so with each wedding. For us, Mr. Collier and I love to attend weddings where we can look at the entire event and say,"Yes! That was a true representation of ________(fill in the name here). Whether you decide to totally DIY or you just want to have a few sparse elements here are some creative suggestions to get your gears churning.
Make your mark literally
Purchase a stamp with your monogram, signature, MadLibs about you and your groom, or whatever mark you'd like to make to put on the cocktail napkins. Perfect for the hour or so the bride and groom are taking photos post ceremony, these napkins are classy as well as conversation starters. Perhaps have sets that are puzzle pieces so that guests must interact to create an image. Maybe channel your inner child with a half drawn image and the guests are encouraged to complete the drawing. Any way you can engage your guests the better! 

Monochromatic Glassware
Glass pieces are easy to find but they don't always match. So what! Fix it with some paint. Dipping or spraying glass with a unifying color or pouring paint into the containers creates a clean and sophisticated look. Further, if a country chic design is what you might like to achieve you can created faux milk glass with everyday Goodwill/garage sale glass. I've even seen beer bottles sprayed as decor.  

Homemade Beer or Soda

If brewing is your thing, consider the possibility of brewing a huge batch, bottling and serving it at your wedding! Nothing says, "I love you," like a cold one. And this is also a great place where grooms with a brewing passion can get involved in the wedding planning process. If soda is your thing, Jones Soda or a home brewing kit allows you to generate soda with unique labels or flavors for your wedding. This would be especially cool for a kids table. 

Tin Can Herbs

Taking upcycling to the next level, indoor gardens in tin cans make great favors as well as centerpieces. Think cans stacked together to form low level centerpieces for tables. Imagine the floral smell of rosemary or savory basil mixed with lemon as a way to demonstrate your appreciation for your guests.

Jello Shots: A Summer Wedding Must-have!

14 August 2012

Courtesy of "Tyler Core Shoots People"
Mr. Collier and I returned from a fantastic picnic themed wedding reception. It was at this party that I discovered the secret to a fantastic summer wedding. Jello shots! An immediate family member took plastic 2 oz. portion cups (can be found at Party City, Costco or even a wholesaler online for around $3.99 for 100 cups with lids) and pored over 1000 cups for the reception. Really the shots could not have been tastier after a long day of posing for pictures, socializing and dancing the night away. They were passed around the night of the rehearsal on the bus and arrived in coolers for the reception. The whole night cups were passed and piled high. In addition to the traditional jello shot he also made pudding shots. Pudding shots you say? That's right. Frothy and sweet with a "Cool Whip" texture; those were equally demolished. Think of all the fun pictures that can be taken!

Our Mission Trip Day 6

The Medical Team

This morning was the last morning of the clinics and so there was an overwhelming response from the community. Again, patients were lining the streets when the medical teams arrived to set up around 8:30 a.m. demonstrating a clear need in this community. As soon as the church doors opened (our waiting area), all the seats were filled and people were standing in the aisles as well as outside of the building in the hot sun. The VBS team provided support in the triage stations, administration and even the pharmacy as they needed "all hands on deck." We were able to see more children and adults as Dr. Julio was able to come as well as Morgan H. and Sharon D. also seeing patients in Dr. Dunn's room. More than 48 patients were seen in the morning by each clinic. Today was unique, however, because it was our last. Therefore we could only take as many patients as we were able and some were unable to seek medical help. I worked in the triage area taking patients for the afternoon and saw the faces of the adults and children, especially seeking the eye clinic, that we couldn't fit in. At noon, 40 more patients were scheduled for the afternoon making the day entirely booked solid. Again, none of our work could have been accomplished without the interpreters.

The Construction Team

While the clinic was in full swing, the construction team was finishing the stage in the church. They mixed wheel barrels full of concrete ingredients right there on the stage in one massive pile among all the people waiting for the clinic. Let me tell you though, it looks beautiful! They also completed another two sidewalks in front of the water treatment facility and on the other side of the school wall. Screen doors were also completed by Calvin and Mike for Arhennis' and Richard's homes.

The VBS Team

After lunch, the VBS and medical teams felt that the afternoon clinic was pretty much under control so we decided to hold a final VBS today. Our bible story of the day was Christ's crucifixion and the story of our salvation. We began our day with the parachute! Oh how they loved whipping the fabric up and down. Some of the children hid underneath, giggling the whole time. We added wiffle balls and a beach ball to the mix, which they also enjoyed. We sat together on the grass in the shade of the big center tree and Lea Ann told us the story with the help of Camilla, our interpreter. The kids listened intently and filled in parts of the story or answered her questions. After the story we then did our crafts. Over the course of the week we realized how much the children in Juan Tomas love to color. We had coloring sheets pertaining to each story and tons of crayons. We set them up in the cafeteria picnic tables and off they go. They could honestly color for hours. We provided a snack of goldfish which was really enjoyed by all. After two coloring sheets we decided to do a bracelet craft. We brought beads and the plastic string. Bowls of beads were set out and fingers were digging in them before we knew it! After an hour or so of crafting, we cleaned up and played games. Katie C. led them in Jump the Creek, which they were pretty good at, and freeze tag that turned into a game of running around and squealing on the basketball court. We finished the games with Pato, Pato, Gonzo (Duck, Duck, Goose). VBS success!

The End of the Day

After dinner we had our own worship service in the cafeteria. Luke and Andrew led us in song while Larry D. gave us another inspiring thought about hope. We ended our final working night in the D.R. playing games and having intermittent showers in the ladies' dorm.

A more effective morning!

13 August 2012

Cinderella by Millicent Sowerby by sofi01 "Flickr" cc
Taking my own advice, I awoke around 6:15 a.m. this morning. I came downstairs, as usual, and set the coffee maker up to brew. While it was brewing I swept the kitchen floor; Clorox wiped the cabinet doors and counters; and even did a *poor man's wash of the kitchen floor on my hands and knees. Further, I prepared both breakfast for myself and lunch for Team PC (Mr. Collier and me) before the coffee was ready! I honestly felt so productive by the time I was ready to catch the morning news with coffee and breakfast in hand. Honey on toast with a little butter is delicious by the way.

Tonight, my plan is to prepare some meals tonight so that we eliminate the need for purchasing lunch on a whim. I am also going to set up the coffee maker to initiate a self brew for tomorrow morning! Horray for being productive!

* A poor man's wash consists of spraying the floor with Windex and wiping with a paper towel. 

Our Mission Trip Day 5

courtesy of A. Roebuck

We had such an overwhelming response at the clinic today! People began to line up around 7:30 a.m. even though we were not poised to begin seeing patients until 9 a.m. At least one hundred people waited in the courtyard and street leading up to the church to be seen by Dr. Dunn for adults, Miss Bobby for glasses, Kylynn for the children, and Andrea for gynecological treatment.

The day began early as the entire church filled up with patients. We averaged around 30 patients per doctor in the morning and 40 in the afternoon. It was constantly busy and there were people everywhere. There was a clear need for antibiotics, parasite medication and vitamins. The list for Thursday filled up very quickly without surprise. "Sheriff" Larry served the entire day as the gatekeeper to prevent people from sneaking back to the doctors out of turn. Bless the construction team who continued to work on the stage at the church filled with people waiting to see the doctor. Others put wooden doors on all of the bathrooms in the dorms for added privacy to replace the shower curtains that previously hung. They look great!!!

My favorite time of day is right before dinner here in Juan Tomas. It is the time when the medical team returns, VBS has ended, and dinner is being prepared. All of us gather on what we now call "the front porch" to tell stories and enjoy fellowship with one another. Not only is this in the shade but it is placed in such a way that a breeze is constantly passing through. A huge tree with tiny berries, similar to the size of a blueberry but harder, sends surprises from above in case you are napping. There is nothing really special about this place but we have made it special. In fact, as I'm writing this Jon, Calvin, Andy, Ron and Charlie are sitting on the porch.

Dinner was running late so we only had about 15 minutes to eat before the Wednesday night church service. Jon preached a great message about sin and renewing hope. All I have to say is thank the Lord for the translators! Without them we would not be able to participate, understand or communicate with many of the Dominicans. They really made our trip happen. After church we walked home in the light of flashlights and found an interesting surprise, well two really. First, the tarantula was waiting for us on our way to the cafeteria where we typically socialize in the evenings. It was absolutely disgusting and beyond creepy. The men have been describing tarantulas in their dorm but as soon as they saw this guy, they said theirs were much smaller! The second surprise was cake and ice cream waiting for us after church in appreciation for our efforts all week! We have not had much dessert or sweets beyond Gatorade (and VBS candy) so it was over the top awesome to have treats again! We stayed up until at least 11 talking and playing with the kids.

Our Mission Trip Day 4

Courtesy of A. Roebuck
Today, the medical team worked off-site in a local village providing medicine and treatment to the area. They left immediately after breakfast and returned just as the rest of us were finishing lunch. The need of the community, based upon their description, was much greater in that rural community which had increased frequency of infection. Practically everyone coming through the clinic is treated for parasites and anemia due to poor water treatment and nutrition. I was surprised to discover that they have never had a clinic like we have provided. It is such a need that starting from the first clinic day on Monday, we already have a list of the children, adult and eye patients for when the clinic returns to Juan Tomas tomorrow. 

In the morning, the construction team began to work on the new stage at the church. This year, the Fountain of Life school will have its largest graduating class to date and the hope has been to have all the graduates up on the stage together in October for the ceremony. The stage that we are replacing was wooden and full of termites. The construction team tore down the old stage and began to prepare the space for a permanent one made of concrete. Hours upon hours the team has worked setting block, cutting block, shoveling caliche (gravel made out of coral) to fill the inside, and mixing concrete. They all have the backaches and the blisters on their hands to prove it. Some of the VBS ladies started painting the doors and the walls of the high school where we have previously held clinic since they were away for the day. The school looks so different with a fresh coat of paint. The construction team worked until dinner time and returned to finish after dinner until about 10:30 p.m. EST so that the walls would be set and ready for the slab of concrete to poured tomorrow. It is neat to think of all the marks we have made on the Fountain of Life school and the community in Juan Tomas.

Since we have no obligations in the clinic, we were amped to have our second day of VBS. We had planned an elaborate craft project and had the story ready. Well, as soon as a few kids arrived, BOOM! CLAP!!! Buckets of water fell from the sky. It has rained a little bit everyday (similar to what you might expect in Florida) but today was different. We ran as fast as we could with crayons, coloring sheets, candy and our parachute into the cafeteria with the 5 or 6 kids. Several kids arrived later but they just played in the rain. We still were able to tell the story of Lazaro (Lazarus) and the miracle Jesus performed. And what else could you do on a rainy day but color and build a fort. We sang the childrens' favorite songs underneath one of the picnic tables in the cafeteria covered with the parachute. Later we found several children under a table after dinner ready to sing again.

Our Mission Trip Day 3

12 August 2012

Courtesy of A. Roebuck

By 9 a.m. when the medical team left the camp to head to the church campus there was already a large group of people waiting to see Dr. Dunn and Dr. Julio, a local doctor. The church space was utilized as the triage and reception area where Sharon D. and Sarah Clifton checked vitals and began paperwork while two classrooms functioned as examination rooms. Other classrooms were designated as waiting rooms, eyeglass fitting rooms and the pharmacy. The medical team was so overwhelmed with patients that not everyone that showed up were able to see a doctor today. Fortunately, the clinic is running Monday through Thursday making it possible to get in as many patients as possible. Praise God for providing us a means to attend to the needs of this community! Several VBS team members were recruited to help direct nearly 200-300 people around the church and high school campuses under the management of LeEllen and her awesome organizing skills. Miss Bobby and the eye team were also on site checking vision and sending them to Anna/Jana for eyeglasses. Everyone who came through the eye clinic were fitted and left with a new pair of glasses! Praise the Lord! Kylynn and Andrea served as nurses in the pediatric examination room treating all cases from general tummy aches to parasite infections. Morgan and Dr. Dunn treated adults next door to the pediatic treatment room. Not only physical health was assessed. During the course of the day around 20 people were saved, asking Jesus into their hearts. Markus and Laura ran the pharmacy and almost half of the medications that we brought with us were taken by the end of the day. Without a doubt, today would not have been possible without the translators to help communicate with the people in Juan Tomas. Tomorrow, the clinic is going to a local village offsite to treat more people in the community. Wednesday morning and afternoon have already been booked for the clinic returns to the church site.

Courtesy of A. Roebuck

As soon as we arrived on Saturday, the construction team began assessing the maintenance needs of the camp. Painting, concrete work and building projects were developed and were started today. The first project was to extend the sidewalk outside of the camp. Scott, Jon, Andy, Larry, Mike, Doug, Austin, Charlie, Rob, Nate, Luke and Steve worked together to make this possible. The VBS team joined in with some new D.R. friends to update the painting on the school buildings. The construction team also tore out the old wooden stage at the church and started laying blocks for the new concrete one.

Courtesy of A. Roebuck

We finished our day worn out but proud after all of the people we talked to, the projects we completed and all of the people we prayed with. Each night we will be gathering in the church to have a small moment of worship to end our day. A spiritual renewal so to speak. Luke and Andy led us in song. Even some of our new D.R. friends celebrated with us. We spent the rest of the evening playing a game of "couch." In case you are curious, the men won.

We are thinking and praying for all of you back home and want you to know how much we love you!

I have a significant amount of time I just don't use it appropriately.

11 August 2012

72/365-And Your Point Is? by Helga Weber "Flickr" cc
We've learned it in high school, applied it in college and somehow forgotten it by adulthood. Oh, the skills of time management! I don't know about you but I have started to feel like time was escaping me throughout the day. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not talking about working every second of the day but in a 24 hour day there are 8 hours of work and 8 or less hours of sleep but where are the additional 8 or so hours going? Have you ever wondered this? 

Well, I have. So I decided to implement the old test. Write down my schedule for the day to see where the time flies.

6:30 a.m. Wake up, make coffee, and have breakfast while watching my morning news show of choice.
7:30 a.m. Initiate the will to shower and get ready. Mr. Collier is awake at this point.
8:00 a.m. Make lunch and get coffee to-go.
8:15-8:30 a.m. Leave for work.
9:00 a.m. Arrive in lab
10:30 a.m. Snack
11:30 a.m. Lunch
3:00 p.m. Coffee
5:45-6:00 p.m. Leave work for home or other scheduled activity.
6:30-7:30 p.m. Prepare/eat dinner
7:00-10:00 p.m. Watch T.V. and fall asleep on the couch.

Clearly there is room for improvement. For example, making coffee or lunch in the morning can be accomplished during the three hours I designated for T.V. viewing in the evening. Our coffee machine can even be preset but why haven't I taken advantage of this? Complacency. That's why. Also, I often hear myself complaining that I don't have the time to work out or do a daily devotional. Well, that is a blatant lie. I have a significant amount of time I just don't use it appropriately. Now, I must admit that some of my scheduled evening activities are fitness related but not always. Additionally, I complain that our house is a disaster because I can't find the time to clean. Well, there is another activity that can be accomplished instead of the "occupy the couch movement". 

So here is where the change comes in. From a science perspective, habits/behaviors arise from a part of the brain that is linked to emotions and feelings so often times this area is hard to crack. A habit of sorts is equivalent to a complacent decision, it is automated which is why habits are challenging to make and break. Think of a New Year's resolution. You make the resolution and a week or so later, you are indulging in chocolate or skipping the gym. It is because habits are hard to break. But it is not impossible. According to an article discussing habit making and breaking featured on, one of the best ways to break a behavior is to change while on vacation. The reason behind this is that being immersed in an environment without your typical cues forces cognitive thought. Your mind no longer becomes complacent. You are actively in control. When I was on my mission trip, they don't flush toilet paper down the toilet but rather place it in a nearby trashcan. I've been back for almost two weeks and I still find myself confused on where the toilet paper should go. New behaviors. 

The goal is to recognize the cue and reward of the habit so that one can actively think about the trigger and respond accordingly. For example, if I see that my lab manager places candy in the jar in our break room, I'm going to go for it. Once I've had one piece, I can't help but indulge in several. Therefore, seeing the candy in the break room is the trigger and the reward is the candy. By hiding the candy jar from my sight, I eliminate the need for the reward and dissolve the habit over time. 

How does this tangent then relate to the time management problem that I've described in my life? Well, if I apply these principles to my daily schedule I may become more effective as an individual. I just have to remember to stick with it. Habits are not formed in a day and therefore cannot be broken in a day.  

Our Mission Trip Day 2

School Mural courtesy of A. Roebuck
We woke up this morning to the sound of a normal crowing rooster and one that crows like,"Ca-caw" with the rising sun. We have had no problems waking up in the morning between the animals, the cold showers (always refreshing) and the strong (yet delicious) coffee each morning! We had banana bread and watermelon for breakfast before attending church. We have a daily devotional in the morning and testimony read by Dr. Dunn as part of our own worship as a team. The themes we are focusing on are hope and "look for God." At church, there were more of us than parishoners at the church but we were glad to join them in worship. It is funny because worship structure is the same so we felt right at home (with a translator). Similar to back home we stayed and visited with everyone after the service was over.

Learning from each other courtesy of A. Roebuck

We walked back from church, changed right quick and then started sorting through our supply trunks. The medical team (Morgan, Kylynn, Andrea, Sarah Clifton, Dr. Dunn and Sharon D.) assembled and some began to practice taking blood pressure readings. The eye team (Jana, Anna, Miss Bobby) sorted glasses into bags based upon strength. The pharmacy team and friends led by Laura and Markus began sorting pills. The vacation bible school team (VBS) began to prepare the crafts for the week. Even the construction men were helping prepare for VBS, with a little motivation. Today was a very long and humid day. Sticky does not even begin to describe it! 
End of the day courtesy of A. Roebuck
We had the most wonderful lunch of fried plantains, ground beef, cooked vegetables and macaroni and cheese. In the D.R., they eat their big meal in the afternoon before siesta. It was hard not to go back for second portions. No matter what, trust God! What truth! This afternoon, the water pump for all of the sinks and toilets stopped working! Forntuately, most of us had showered and after working all afternoon, a smaller pump replaced the broken one. We spent the majority of the day working and playing card games until the second church service of the day. The message focused on witnessing to non-believers which was appropriate considering the work that we would do in the upcoming week.

Redefining and Revitalizing My life

10 August 2012

Jumping for Fashion Joy by msszroberts "Flicr" cc
Certain events in life changes everything. Vague, yet promising. I began to reflect on my life as a whole and realized that there are some improvements to be made. There are always things that I can be doing better. I could be a better friend, a more patient wife, more focused at work, find more time, etc. Over the next several posts I will be describing a transformation that is occurring in my life for the better. I hope that you find it inspiring and brings vitality to your life well.

Our Mission Trip Day 1

I had the fortunate experience of actually writing our blog for our church's mission trip to the Dominican Republic. As a scientist, not a medical professional, it wasn't clear to me where I could best serve the Lord through my talents. Turns out communicating with the U.S. and documenting the trip was enough. For the next few days I'll be sharing some of the blog posts with you so that you may catch a glimpse of what God is capable of when a willing group of people come together. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed living it.

Day 1
This is the Air I Breathe...
Airport in Santo Domingo courtesy of A. Roebuck
I am writing you retrospectively since I have been unable to update the blog since we left the U.S. We made it! After a very long day of traveling, we finally landed in the Dominican Republic. We were picked up at the airport by Doug, Arrhenius (the high school principal) and his 5 year old daughter Rose Mariel. Stepping out of the airport we were met with temperatures and humidity akin to Nashville about two weeks ago. No surprise there. But we were blessed by the transportation that was provided for us to the camp, a huge tour bus with air conditioning! In fact, it was our last blast of air conditioning to date.

From the aiport it was around an hour and half to the camp through the city of Santo Domingo. Tropical colored buildings lined the busy streets. There are no traffic lights, sort of whoever gets there first type of system. There were so many people walking and selling things on the street corners. Anything from meat to the most beautiful fruit and even shoes! My personal favorite were the local vendors that chased customers into the grocery store waving their green lettuce and other vegetables in their faces. About half way through our journey it began to rain. Not just a little, it was buckets full nearly flooding the streets in some places!

Fortunately, the rain ceased just as we were getting our luggage out of the bus. We were weary and sweaty not to mention very hungry because most of us had just been snacking since breakfast. The 14 women are staying together in a dorm above the kitchen/cafteria in room with 16 bunked twin beds reminescent of camp. The men are in a similar building but on the first floor on the other side of the camp near the basketball courts and goat farm. I can tell you that the women had a great time setting up their beds, some sheets even matched with their mosquito nets! By the time we arrived it was sieta. Some took a nap while others played catch and basketball with some children that showed up to the camp. We shared our first meal together in the Dominican (hot dogs) and then were invited to join the teenage worship service at the church about 75 yards from the camp.

The church is a metal building with a concrete floor and beige walls. It is beautiful! Many of us felt dirty and uncomfortable by this point but the most wonderful thing happened. At the conclusion of the Spanish service, with a translator provided for the message, we were blessed with a familiar song, "Breathe" on the piano. Immediately a blend of lyrics in Spanish and in English were sung. It was the most beautiful sound. Many of us, including myself, were brought to tears. It was what I would imagine heaven to sound like. How great is our God!

We are thinking and praying for all of you back home and want you to know how much we love you!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

08 August 2012

Courtesy of Paula Dean, who looks fabulous these days, I found a recipe for some awesome sweet potato biscuits. Fluffy Sweet-Potato Biscuits on the Food Network.
Mr. Collier and I stopped by the Nashville Farmer's Market on Saturday. For under $20 we left with several bags of fresh fruits and vegetables including 4 small sweet potatoes. After cutting and boiling I realized that I did not have any milk! I did have non-fat Greek yogurt (unflavored). Turns out that you can mix 2-3 tablespoonfuls of Greek yogurt and some water to recreate a skim milk type mixture. In fact, it made them come out pretty well! They are sort of dense but will go well with butter and jam! Alternatively they would also be great with hot dogs/weenies and cheese.


Whew! Catching back up!

"Vacation Day" of Our Dominican Trip
Mr. Collier and I recently returned from a week long mission trip in the Dominican Republic (I'll post more on this later). As you might imagine, it has been incredibly tough getting back into the swing of things. Stay tuned though because I have some great posts coming up!

Then you will be prosperous and successful!

01 August 2012

With Teeth by arte_molto_brutta_2 "Flickr" cc
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. – Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
I love this verse! What Joshua is basically telling us is that we need to be deep in the Word. Of course the Book of Law is only a portion of the Bible but how could we really go wrong as Christians if we are intimately studying the Bible? God has provided us with wisdom and instructions for how to live. Not only are we instructed to read but we are told to meditate to get deeper in thought and understanding. In this fast paced world that we live in we hardly find the time to slow down and just place ourselves in the silent presence of the Lord. I know that I am guilty of it! I’d love to just sit in a lotus position with a lit candle in the silence of my living room sans distractions for just 20 minutes. How personal to sit and listen for the Lord’s voice! So what is stopping you?
One aspect of Christian living that I have begun to practice is the memorization of scripture verses. It is really challenging for me to focus and study the Bible when I’m not participating in a scheduled Bible study. Do you ever find that you feel more comfortable talking about a subject once you master its content? Well, isn’t that the same case for the Bible? Sure it is hard but what isn’t? As Joshua tells us there is only one outcome. We will be prosperous and successful!  Shouldn’t we take that chance?