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Praise and Coffee Beyond The Storms... When the Storms Roll In One mother’s nightmare

Fasten Your Seatbelt

Spring 2011

Visible Faith A woman stuck in the Ukraine with her newly adopted son for almost a year.

“I’m sorry, it’s malignant.”

Praise and Coffee Night a hospital??

Introducing… Praise and Coffee Cooks!

Praise and Coffee


The ministry of Praise and Coffee includes:

Praise and Coffee Nights Praise and Coffee online Magazine Praise and Coffee Cooks Praise and Coffee Runs


Spring 2011 Praise and Coffee the Magazine A quarterly online publication. Founder and Editor

Sue Cramer Co-Editor

Denise Dykstra Submission Guidelines: 1. Anyone is welcome to submit articles or testimonies. 2. Submissions by women who have attended or hosted a Praise and Coffee event will be considered first 3. Testimonies can be personal or connected to your experience at a Praise and Coffee event. 4. Articles that will be considered are to be encouraging and inspiring. 5. Humorous articles and funny stories are encouraged! 6. Length of submission should be 4001,000 words. This can be negotiated for feature articles. 7. Submissions will be read and considered among the Editor and co-Editor. 8. We do not pay for articles, they are on a volunteer basis. 9. Submissions should be in “Times New Roman” #12 font. 10. Submissions need to be emailed as an attachment and include: Name Email Website (if applies) Short (100 words or less) bio 11. Email submissions to our Co-Editor:

Praise and Coffee Talk 18| Excitement is Brewing 22| A Divine Appointment 36| That God Group 46| Thank God for Pushy Girlfriends 50| Introducing “Praise and Coffee Cooks!” 52| The Dark Side of Coffee 58| Bringing Praise and Coffee Nights to the Hospital Features 10| When the Storms Roll In 26| Visible Faith 38| Fasten Your Seatbelt Beautiful You 25| Praise and Coffee Runs 32| You Are Beautiful ~ Scars and All In Every Issue 6 | From the Editors 8 | Start a Praise and Coffee Night 62| For Caffeinated Moms Like You 70| Lessons From Lauren For advertising info, contact Sue at: 4

Volume 1~Issue 3


Sue Cramer Magazine Editor and Founder of Praise and Coffee

t’s here! Spring, glorious spring! Living in Michigan we anticipate the arrival of warmer temps and spring flowers bursting through the cold hard earth like a child on Christmas morning waits for the light of day. I’m reminded of the song “Every Season” by Nicole Nordeman, And everything that‟s new has bravely surfaced Teaching us to breathe What was frozen through is newly purposed Turning all things green So it is with You And how You make me new With every season‟s change And so it will be As You are re-creating me Summer, autumn, winter... spring

I love that God walks us through the cold hard seasons of life only to bring us into the joy and newness of change. Changes can be hard, bringing with them many storms, but as the storms quiet, the rainbows come. And the women who know their God rise up and show the glory of their Creator in a new and more powerful way than she ever dreamed! That’s you. And it’s time to shine. Much love,

How much do you love that picture on the cover?! The storms pass, the rainbows come and we grab our boots and stomp in the mud puddles! 6

Denise Dykstra Magazine Co-Editor

love spring. Just ask my family. I start a countdown as soon as January rolls around and my boys know full well how silly their momma gets when she can run around with bare feet and hang clothes on the line again. Spring, it’s a time of newness. Of color and new life all over again. I think that being in part of the country that is dark and blah looking for so many months makes me appreciate the spring so much. It’s probably why I can never pick a favorite color either. Having gone through the dark days is what makes you appreciate the sunny days. A lot of our articles this issue deal with that. The women you are about to meet here went through some dark times. And because of that they were able to see the joy of the other side more fully. I don’t know if you are just out of a storm, in the middle of one or about to enter a stormy season, but I do know you were meant to read this. Because God just doesn’t make a mistake. The tough times are just that – tough. And it is because of that you can enjoy the harvest and warmth of sunshine on the other side.


Start a Praise and Coffee Night in your community!! It’s as easy as 1-2-3! 1. Choose a location. Preferably a coffee shop or restaurant. Somewhere in your community that’s comfortable for women from all different churches/backgrounds. But, don’t rule out your home if you are a smaller group! Kitchen tables can be a great place for girlfriend time! 2. Pick a date & time. Don‟t know what to talk about or have a guest speaker? No problem!

Meet as often as you like. Most groups meet once a month or once every other month.

Check out Praise and Coffee Conversations on our web page.

3. Invite your girlfriends!!!

There are several short (under 10 minute) videos for you to choose from and show at your event. They even offer conversation starters at the end so your ladies can continue with the same topic.

And then once you do, let us know! We want to pray for you and help promote your event.

Topics include:

Check out the easy to fill out form on our website:

“From Mess to Masterpiece”

Schedule a Praise and Coffee Night

“Forgiveness” “Importance of Godly Girlfriends” and more!

Size doesn’t matter! You could have a Tall (2-6 gals), Grande (6-15) or a Venti (15 + ) group!!


For where 2 or 3 gather together because they are mine, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20

Buffalo, Minnesota

Plainwell, MI (the original!)

Ephrata, PA

Reno, NV Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Henderson, NV Saginaw, Michigan

Summerville, SC

Prescott, AZ

We want pictures of your events!! Email them to us or post them into the albums on the Praise and Coffee Nights page on Facebook!





When the

torms Roll In

A mother’s nightmare that taught her to trust in God.

Written by Amy Bender with Sue Cramer



assumed he must be growing. Then he started complaining that his hip was hurting, but thinking that it was probably just a sore muscle from the bike fall we didn‟t take much notice.

say that we‟ve walked through a few storms would be an understatement. It has felt as if our family was caught up in a hurricane over the past several years. But I share this to offer hope to those feeling overwhelmed. God is faithful and if He can walk us through these storms, we know He will be with you in yours.

He continued complaining about it so we checked his leg and saw a huge lump in his inner groin area. We took him in to the doctor who said that he had an infection in his lymph node from bug bites, but that is was not related to the fall. The doctor put him on amoxicillin and said to come back for a re-check to make sure the swelling was down. He said not to worry if it didn‟t disappear overnight because these infections take time to heal.

A little back ground We mis-carried our first pregnancy which broke our hearts but then in 1998 we had our first child, Faith. When she was 15 months old we spent over a month in two separate hospitals because she had a 3 pound tumor in her liver. Thankfully it was not cancer, but it was still a very dangerous situation and we almost lost her. This experience taught me that sometimes there are situations in life that ONLY God can fix and that before a hard time ever touches our lives it has already gone through HIS hands.

He continued complaining about it so we checked his leg and saw a huge lump in his inner groin area.

Fast forward to July 2008 We now have three children, 9 yr.old daughter Faith, 7 yr old Charlie, and 5 yr old Lane. All full of life! We spent our summer days busy with our dairy farm and evenings playing bike tag.

We ended up at the doctor‟s office every two days for a week. They sent us for an ultrasound, and Charlie spent four days in the hospital on very strong drugs because the “infection” was not responding to meds at all. He was discharged and went back to the doctor every two days for another week and then for another ultrasound.

One night Charlie and Lane decided to make a bike jump out of an old barrel that they cut up. It wasn‟t pretty or sturdy but we thought it would be funny to watch the boys play. They set it up and agreed that Charlie would jump first. Yes, as you might imagine he fell flat on his face. He seemed fine and everyone laughed but we put the bike jump away.

They kept assuring us that this was not serious and we did not need to worry. They sent us to a surgeon who told us that we wasted our money and his time. He told us that these infections take time to heal. He said that we should wait another two weeks to come back. But within one week Charlie was in so much pain he could barely walk. His leg hurt so badly that he could only sleep an hour at a time.

Soon began the storm that our family would never forget. Charlie started taking naps in the middle of the day. I thought it was a bit odd but 12


They sent us home to see our doctor after the weekend.

He went through the surgery fine and when he woke up I leaned over the bed and said, “Charlie it is over, you are going to get better now.” I thought we were through our storm. Little did I know that the rain had only begun to fall.

During that time the price of milk dropped in half draining our already stretched finances. Then our fridge and stove both quit working at the same time. So we packed up our exhausted family and went to Sears to get new appliances. By this point Charlie could not even walk so we carried him through the mall.

went back to the surgeon. This time he gave us two choices, we could do surgery, but that will cause more pain than he is already in, or admit him and put him back on an IV with extremely strong drugs again. We chose to admit him, but within two hours we were told that he would have surgery the next morning to remove the lymph node.

Meanwhile, did I mention that we are dairy farmers? Cows don‟t wait for you to deal with this stuff, they keep producing milk. We had amazing friends and family that helped but you can imagine the stress of everything we had gone through while trying to keep a dairy farm afloat.

After we were home, Charlie started spiking bad fevers so we took him to the ER and they drew 98cc of fluid off the wound. He had also developed more lumps.

As we were walking through the mall our cell phone rang. It was the doctor...


Charlie’s tiny little body was full of cancer.


It was almost too much to think that in the midst of all that was happening with Charlie, my husband is now in need of support and help himself.

watched the color leave my husband‟s face and I knew it was terrible news. He hung up the phone and whispered to me, Charlie had cancer. Our world crashed. I don‟t know how we finished our shopping and got the kids in the truck but my husband and I embraced in that parking lot and sobbed in each other‟s arms. We locked eyes and said, “this, cannot tear us apart we have to stay tight.”

It left me torn between home, hospital, chores (don‟t forget the cows need milking!), and three kids in the house scared to death and torn to pieces by all this mess. I will spare you the awful details about Charlie‟s treatments and how many times he puked in an hour.

On the way to the hospital the next day Charlie said something that we had no idea would be so prophetic, he said, “last night I slept so good for the 1st time in a long time and I had a dream that I had to be in the hospital 55 days.”

And then, when we needed support the most, like Job‟s friends we had people telling us that it was our sin that brought all this on us. Others warned and chastised us that the medications and chemo that Charlie was receiving to kill the cancer was bad for his heart.

Charlie was admitted to the hospital. Every day from 4am to 4pm the doctors came in like a revolving door, poking, scanning, test after test, EKG‟s, cat scans and more scans, until the chemo started on Sept 2. It was then that we learned a new phrase, “stage 3 anaplastic large cell lymphoma.”

Rumors started flying that he would not make it to Christmas. People even said that it was the milk we were letting him drink! They wondered why we didn‟t scream and complain “malpractice!” about all the doctor‟s that said it was not cancer.

Charlie‟s tiny little body was full of cancer. The only reason it was not considered stage 4 was that it had not gone into the bone or brain.

On and on the voices continued, but you know what? God is good! No, GOD is GREAT! Never once did we suspect cancer in the beginning. NEVER were we upset with the doctor, never did we resent God for what was happening.

And the storm continued to rage… One week and four days later my husband went to the ER with a painfully swollen ankle. Somehow he had developed an infection and needed surgery. They kept him in the hospital for 4 days.

So for the hurting person, just remember, don’t take the advice and input of some people personally.



No, I will re-phrase that… it was the hardest year.

ou most likely would not know what to say either. And for the people trying to comfort the hurting, a simple “I love you” and a hug is more comforting than any other words can ever speak.

But God transformed our family into a much tighter, loving family that no longer takes good health for granted. We love the doctors and nurses to pieces and pray for them. We didn‟t used to do that, but now we also pray for the lost more because we know what it‟s like to have hope when there is no hope.

A friend sent me an email card it said, “God placed the mountains and valleys” with a picture of a beautiful mountain scene. And the verse: Jeremiah 32:27 “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” NO, nothing is too hard for God.. nothing.

Charlie always said from the beginning if I die from this cancer it is ok because I will be dancing with Jesus. What horrible, comforting and scary words from a 7 year old, but pure innocence and peace given by God himself to a boy with the fight of a life time on his hands. Remember the dream about 55 days? Well, from the first visit to the KCMS Pediatric Hematology/Oncology to the last chemo treatment was 55 days!

We also had our very close friends selflessly give up so much time to make sure we were doing a bible study and always reminding us they were there for us and praying for us and giving updates at church for us and keeping the visitors at bay. We are forever grateful to God for this family. It was the worst year.


Thank God for verses like: 1 Cor. 10:13 not to give you more than you can bear but will give you an escape, a way to bear it. Is. 41:10 Fear not.

While standing there our family held each other and prayed to our amazing God and thanked Him for the hardest mountain climb ever and the most wonderful blessings at the top of that mountain.

I will not lie. I feared what was to happen. I could see us carrying a casket, but God said, “don‟t fear.”

Charlie is Cancer free! And the storm was over. God had taught us so much and drew our family together in a way that only He could. That prayer, in the presence of God and the cool rain washing over us, WOW, priceless moment. If you can take one thing from our story it is this:

I told my husband, “I don‟t want to do this, I can‟t do this!” but he said, “we don‟t have a choice.” And God proved that I, (we) could bear it- all of it. With Him. And I‟ve come to love this verse also: James 1:2-4 count it all joy when you go through trials.

God is the only way to have true peace. We are, by FAR, not the perfect family. We have LOTS of growing yet to do,

God showed us true joy. On October 23, 2009 the Make a Wish foundation sent our whole family to Florida for the week to be treated as royalty. It was better than words could ever describe! We stayed at „Give Kids The World‟ and were given tickets to Disney, Sea World, Gator Land, Animal Kingdom, and many more. It was our first family vacation and we had so much to celebrate.

but the Bible is very clear. It says not “if” the hard times come, but “when” they come. Your only hope, my only hope is in Christ who did not say, “I can‟t do this,” but said “YOUR Will Father, not Mine,” and allowed Himself to die a horrible death on the cross for my sins and lack of trust. Then He was raised the third day to give us all HOPE and strength in the storms of life.

One of the many amazing memories was the night at Disney while standing under a flagless flag pole in the pouring rain Amy and Randy Bender have been married 14yrs. Amy enjoys watching the firedecorating cakes, making picture movies, gardening and canning. works. They were so Charlie is doing great making up for lost time growing! The 3 kids big and spectacular enjoy memorizing verses for Word Of Life Club at church and even in the rain!

playing outside as much as they can.


Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again. Sarah Ban Breathnach


Excitement is


Melissa Mashburn has partnered with Sue Cramer and serves as the CoCo-Founder of the ministry of Praise and Coffee Nights

Visit her website: Melissa Mashburn in Mel’s World 18


We opened up the floor at the end of the night and got some great questions from the women there and openly tackled some tough issues about friendships, forgiveness and how to take care of your relationship with God first.

ometimes I just have to step back in awe of what God has been doing in the Praise & Coffee Nights Ministry. What started out, as a small gathering of a few women in Plainwell, Michigan has now grown into something truly spectacular. Little did we know when we saw signs of what God was doing that He was going to do even more than we could see right at that moment.

What happened that night was more than we could have ever imagined…God showed up, blew our socks off and lives were changed. Not because we did anything fancy or special, but because we stepped out in obedience to what He is doing here in our midst. Just like, He is doing with YOU and your Praise and Coffee Nights.

Just this March we had our first South Florida Praise and Coffee Night of 2011. It is crazy to think that it was six months since we had our last event. Life got busy, the holidays came and went then the reality hit of how much time had passed.

Women are meeting all over the world. Let that soak in a minute… ALL over the world, women are gathering in Jesus name at a Praise and Coffee Night event.

The team and I got busy on planning our event for March knowing that we needed to make this happen. The longer it is between the event the harder it is to get the word out and get women to come. Everything we do is word of mouth or via social media so we picked a date, then started shouting it from the rooftops to get women to bring their friends.

We want to hear from you…

We were blessed to have my dear friend and ministry partner, Sue Cramer, come down to South Florida for a few days to join us for our Praise and Coffee Night. Sue & I spoke that night about the importance of godly girlfriends.

We want to hear your stories, Your celebrations, Your milestones, His victories, Your obedience.

Tall, Grande, Venti, no matter what the size is of your event women are coming and that, sweet sisters, makes our hearts giddy with excitement.



very single bit of it is something we want to celebrate with you and give Him the praise. We had one such amazing story at the South Florida Praise & Coffee Night and further in this magazine you are going to read an incredible story from a dear friend of mine, Jody Benedetto. Just as Jody has a story to share, we know many of you do too. Please take some time to send us your stories so we can share them here. Yes, excitement is brewing within the ministry…As we continue to expand the ministry we have heard from some of you that you would like to have some videos to share at your events. We realize that not everyone likes to speak in front of groups or even teach, but you have a desire to plant the seed of this ministry in your community so we wanted to let you know that the ministry is growing, yet again, with our all NEW

Praise and Coffee Conversations videos! These short videos can be shown at your Praise and Coffee Night. They are a fantastic way to get the conversation started and then you step in and facilitate a group discussion with the women at your event. Here is a list of the videos we have on our You Tube Page (Praise & Coffee): What are Praise and Coffee Nights? Godly Girlfriends Forgiveness Taking Your Everyday, Ordinary Life (Romans 12:1-2) Mess to Masterpiece Bloopers (our personal favorite) A Candid Close Up with Sue & Melissa. After shooting videos for almost four hours we had plenty of “bloopers” to choose from We will be doing more videos for you in the future, but we wanted to get these done and up for you to start using now. We would love to hear from you about the videos and your ideas about future videos. God is absolutely doing something amazing in our midst…I am just so thankful to be on this journey with each and every one of you! Seeking JOY on the Journey, Melissa Mashburn Co-Founder, Praise & Coffee Nights Founder, Mel‟s World Ministry 20





divine appointment


Wow!!! Is what comes to mind when I think about the experience I had the other night at the South Florida Praise and Coffee Night. What I thought was going to be just another Bible study turned out to be so much more. Recently my boyfriend and I broke up. Instead of masking my pain with temporary fixes, the world offers I have been choosing what Jesus offers. I have been delighting myself in His ways and seeking Him everywhere. Although my heart has been aching, He was so faithful to keep me strong. Little did I know that He would completely heal my heart that night. It had been about forty days since my break up and I am always quick to tell people “obedience is the key,” but I must admit that I do not always follow that. For the first time these last forty days, I have truly been following Him in obedience. I have laid down everything in my life that would not be pleasing to the Lord. In my time of seeking Him He has given me such a hunger and thirst for His righteousness. When I first arrived to the South Florida Praise and Coffee Night, I noticed that there were already many women sitting at the tables and talking. Everything was decorated so nice and girly; beautiful flower centerpieces, yummy cupcakes and of course, coffee. Some of the women I knew and some I did not know, so I decided to sit at the front table.

I felt such closeness to these women that I had just met. As the beautiful worship music started, I could see Lauren’s family start to surround her. They were all crying and praying for her. I began to forget about my own broken heart and started to pray for them. I could almost feel their pain, but as I continued to worship and pray, I felt my heart start to heal. The worship leader was singing and talking about God’s promises and how much He loves His daughters. I began to cry tears of joy. Every promise I had ever heard or read became so alive to me. I am so thankful for that night and so thankful that His promises are true. The whole South Florida Praise and Coffee Night that night was about the importance of godly girlfriends, that night Lauren asked me if I would be her godly girlfriend. That is an honor to me. I want to live a purpose-filled life for Jesus. I pray that I will be that godly girlfriend for her and I pray that whoever is reading this right now would know that they can trust the Lord for everything. Seek obedience and to be set apart for His glory. They are far better than anything you could ever imagine. ~ Jody Benedetto, 3/10/11 South Florida Praise & Coffee Night

There was no one sitting at this front table yet, but I was excited to see whom God would bring to join me. I even trusted Him on whom to sit with. The women He brought were all so wonderful and different. I met a girl named Lauren who is suffering with cancer. She is a young girl who just recently had a tumor removed from her brain and will soon have to go through chemotherapy.



What are Praise and Coffee Nights ?


You could call Praise and Coffee the “accidental ministry” because it started out as a blog with no intention of being anything more. Sue Cramer decided to gather a few girlfriends in Michigan for coffee one evening and she (teasingly) called it a “Praise and Coffee Night”. The next day she blogged about it and suddenly women all over the country wanted to start Praise and Coffee Nights in their community. The vision of this ministry is to connect women with the God who passionately loves them and link them up with other women on similar journeys. Many amazing women with the same heart and desire are now part of this growing team. Praise and Coffee Nights are meeting in several different states and even other countries. The ministry of Praise and Coffee includes: Praise and Coffee Nights Praise and Coffee online Magazine Praise and Coffee Cooks Praise and Coffee Runs and other resources on our website and videos to connect, encourage and inspire women!


Praise and Coffee RUNS!

We’ve partnered with Run With Endurance to encourage women to connect with each other and start a RWE chapter in their community!

Check out Run With Endurance at: or click here for a direct link: Run With Endurance

Casie Dussia is a small business owner and a personal trainer that ministers to women’s soul, mind and body and is the founder of RWE~Run with Endurance. She lives in Southwest Michigan and enjoys life with her husband John and son. Casie is a team partner to the Praise and Coffee Night ministry in Plainwell, MI. Email: 25

Visible Faith The nearly year-long battle of a mother living alone in the Ukraine fighting to bring her adopted son home.

“Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him.� Deuteronomy 13:4 (NLT)


“How did you do it?”

It took Jake a little longer to develop feelings for me. His stoic indifference to my arrival soon gave way to hopeful glances, and then to genuine smiles. Within a couple of months, he was running to me with arms open wide for the hugs his face told me he so desperately needed. My mother’s heart jumped every time I realized my little boy was learning to receive and to give physical affection.

I’m often asked this question about our adoption. Excellent question. No short answer. “It” refers to my 11-month-plus battle living alone in the post-Soviet country of Ukraine while I was working through a tangle of complications in the international adoption of our son Jake. After my husband Jahn and our 8-year-old daughter Jacey returned to Michigan, I stayed behind to finalize what God had stirred in our hearts so many years before.


he appropriate paperwork for the adoption had been filed and was in order, so I was stunned when I received notice that our adoption was going to be appealed. Jahn and I were totally unaware that months before we’d filed our first papers with our adoption agency, a political movement had begun in Ukraine, whose leaders were committed to keeping orphans in their birth country. The prosecutor in Izmail aligned himself with this political movement, and he found a technicality in our adoption decree, which allowed him to appeal our adoption – virtually halting any forward progress in my leaving Ukraine with my son.

My husband and I had felt drawn to adopt internationally early in our marriage. We had family members who lived in other countries, so we never felt geography or culture limited a family’s love. Our church sponsored outreach programs in Ukraine, and I’d traveled there with a short-term mission team years earlier. In Ukraine I’d witnessed a stark contrast in the lives of people who knew a real faith and those who didn’t. A typical Ukrainian never engaged others in eye contact, and their expression revealed a deep despair. In contrast, believers carried themselves with hope; they looked others in the eye, and they actually smiled. Ukrainian believers walked out a faith others could physically see.


y husband, daughter and I arrived in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 12, 2009, to complete the adoption process we’d initiated in the U.S. After making visits to Ukraine’s State Department of Adoption (SDA), different orphanages, and enduring days of waiting, we finally met our son Jake on June 19. With confidence that our pre-adoption paperwork had been completed, my husband and daughter returned home mid-July, while I stayed in Izmail, Ukraine, planning to finalize our adoption in early August. Jake was three years old when we met him. He was a curious, bright boy whose smile reflected a surprising resemblance to my own. It wasn’t long before I started to grow in my maternal love for him. I forced myself to learn as much Russian as possible so I could communicate with him in his own language. I found myself daydreaming of Jake romping at our lake house in northern Michigan.


I spent days crying. When my tears were spent, I threw myself into the task in front of me, praying I wouldn’t waste any time on tears again.

We did not win the appeal. Neither did the prosecutor. The appeal court judge requested a new adoption ruling instead. My daydream of Jake playing at our lake home began to fade.

On September 1, 2009, when the prosecutor didn’t sub“The prosecutor will keep fighting mit his appeal paperwork on you. You need a new adoption rultime, I was granted legal, physiing from a different judge to stop cal custody of my son. This achim from appealing the small faults tion made the prosecutor furious, he has found in your original adopand he immediately placed a tion decree. You must start over,” phone call that prevented me our attorney explained. from obtaining the necessary paperWalking out a visible work for Jake to leave the country. My daydream of Jake faith became a struggle. His decision came like a deathblow to heart broke for my playing at our lake home My Jake’s future. I’d fallen in love with son, who was depending my son, and I could not abandon him on me for his freedom began to fade. and rejoin my family and life in the and his future. The future United States. After consulting with seemed bleak, yet I knew my husband Jahn, we made the wrenching decision God had called me to this place and this moment. My that I would remain with Jake in Ukraine. husband returned home once again without us, but In a stunning action, the adoption agency that had represented us dissolved their Ukraine adoption program and abandoned me. As the days unfolded, the prosecutor used every delay tactic he could. The days stretched out, seemingly into infinity. Finally our appeal was scheduled – for December 22, 2009. Jahn and Jacey flew back to Ukraine to be present for the appeal court hearing. It would be difficult for me to describe the anticipation I carried in my heart that day.

this time, our daughter refused to leave. She insisted she would stay and fight for Jake with me. I researched Ukrainian law, hired a three-person legal team, learned how to home school and created a home away from home for the three of us in Odessa, Ukraine. At our pre-trial hearing, the new judge found in our favor and scheduled our adoption hearing for the end of March. The prosecutor became so angry, he walked directly to the police station next door and filed a warrant for Jake’s return. Our attorney advised us to return to our apartment, stay inside, and keep hidden until our new court date.

The ruling devastated me.



ell-meaning Ukrainian friends and people familiar with the legal system repeatedly told me we would never beat a determined prosecutor within the corrupt legal system. I was told stories of ruthless police and of life-threatening prison conditions. Friends and family at home began to lose heart. I struggled to hold on to the faith that had brought me so far from home. However on March 30, 2010, our new adoption ruling was granted. But the prosecutor wasn’t finished. Once again, he placed a call to the registrar’s office to stop us from obtaining Jake’s new birth certificate. However, this time, after listening to my pleas and giving my son’s story thought overnight, a clerk new to the office issued the birth certificate, disregarding the prosecutor’s threats. At last, I was able to finalize our adoption. Our long journey home wasn’t over yet. My passport was questionable. I was being arrested. But in spite of the risk, Sasha fought for my immediate release and signed papers, taking personal responsibility for me. The commander responded to Sasha’s courageous defense, and I was released.

We arrived at the airport in Kiev, Ukraine, to discover a volcano in Iceland had grounded all planes flying in and out of the country and most of Europe. We needed to get Jake across the border before the prosecutor found another way to stop us. A missionary friend arranged for us to be driven into the neighboring country of Moldova by a strong-willed brother in Christ named Sasha.

Hours later, we arrived safely in Chisinau, Moldova, a country known to be even more politically corrupt than Ukraine. I prayed we wouldn’t experience more delays. Within days we boarded a plane from Chisinau, Moldova to Istanbul, Turkey. After a few more days in Istanbul, we finally boarded the plane for our flight home. After almost a year, Jacey and I arrived home with Jake to a waiting crowd of family, friends and news cameras on April 25, 2010.

My passport was questionable. I was being arrested.

Jake has adjusted well to his new home and surroundings. He loves having a room of his own, decorated with cars. He has grown to know and love his dad, and most of the time he even loves his sister. The attachment process that began in his home country helped ease his transition from the stark orphan home to a loving family.

At the border, a wave of fear ripped through me as Sasha spoke with a guard. My Ukrainian protector turned to me and asked me to leave my children in the car. Then he escorted me into the guardhouse. Inside, the commander’s words fell like a gavel.

Jake is quick to tell anyone his favorite place is our lake property up north, among the turtles and frogs he enjoys chasing so much. He is “all boy” and full of seemingly endless energy. My son is a walking example of God’s goodness. 29


is my prayer our story will bring glory to God for His faithfulness and His heart for orphans. I pray our journey of faith is an encouragement, especially to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in Christ who so impressed me with their visible faith during my first mission trip years ago to my journey of faith in bringing my son home to his forever family. My prayers continue for the millions of orphans worldwide who struggle to survive exploitation, desperate circumstances, and who long to find the love and nurture they deserve. Our adoption journey wasn’t easy.


was transformed into determination.


became a series of moment-by-moment decisions.


in God grew from a spiritual truth to a

daily reality.

And as part of God’s greater story, one little boy became part of a family.

Kim Seeds de Blecourt is currently writing their adoption story in b band, Jahn, and their two children, Jacey and Jake. To


book form. She is a writer, speaker and voiceover artist. She resides in Holland, Michigan with her huso inquire about Kim, contact: or phone: (209) 430-4688.


You are beautiful ,

Scars and all

Written by: Sue Cramer 32

L auren had the day off so we went to the

With every mommy bone in my being aching, I answered, "honey, you were born with a cleft lip and the doctor fixed it but it left a little mark but it will fade."

grocery store and then to Pizza Hut to redeem her book-it coupon that was burning a hole in her pocket. She was sorely disappointed when she realized that all she received for her coupon was a pizza. I think she was expecting balloons and pony rides, or at least a prize box from which she could pick a super ball or plastic necklace. Nope, just a pizza. But that's not the heartbreaking part, at least it wasn't for me.

"No one else in my school looks like me, NO one." she cried out. I held her tight and kissed every inch of her I could reach.

As we sat there and talked she complained about her swollen lip. She had a slight accident while sledding the day before and her top lip was red and swollen making the scar from her cleft lip surgery even more pronounced than usual.

She calmed as I told her how beautiful she is and how special God made her. That she was also the only one in her class that came all the way home from China. This seemed to appease her for the moment.

She was very self-conscious about it, constantly checking in the mirror to see if the swelling had gone down.

As she climbed back in to the booth across from me I asked her to give me a great big smile so I could take a picture of her. My heart broke.

I assured her that it would go away and look just fine by the time she went back to school.

I know that not one of you looks at this picture and sees a "flawed" little girl, but you see her heart and passion and know that she is a precious gift of God.

This didn't satisfy her. I mentioned that it was right on her scar so it looked worse than it was. The minute I said that I saw the life drain from her beautiful brown almond-shaped eyes.

I pray that you would remember this the next time you start to compare yourself with someone else. Think about how you wanted to convince Lauren that she is beautifully and wonderfully created by God...and look yourself in the mirror and say that same thing to your reflection.

Her head dropped and she slinked out of her booth to crawl into my lap and weep.

The Father feels just as heartbroken when we compare ourselves and rate our own worth. You are His daughter, He loves you and He sees just how beautiful you are, scars and all.

"Mommy, why does my lip look like this?" she asked with tears streaming down her face.


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That God group...

This is a testimony from Sheryl Anne Lehman she is a Praise and Coffee Night leader in Buffalo, Minnesota. Email Sheryl:


“Hello, I would like to make a reservation for Monday night.” The cashier is busy counting receipts. “We don‟t take reser….” The manager that is standing a few feet away interrupts. “It‟s ok, we‟ll take hers.” “Oh…” she looks up and smiles. “Oh I know. . . you‟re that God group?”

I told her that the only requirement was to know that Jesus loves her, no matter what, and that we all have been through things. We all need Him and each other. She thought she would like to join us and began to tell me things of her life. Then she suddenly needed to get back to the kitchen before she got in trouble. I haven‟t seen her since that time, but she will be welcomed if/ when she comes.

“Ok, sure, it‟s called Praise and Coffee and I would like the back room for about ten people.” As I leave, the words keep playing over in my mind…we were „that God group‟. I decided that was a nice way to put it. A group of women meeting together for coffee, a treat perhaps, and sharing the love of Jesus can be called the God group by a teenage waitress.

Another time, my computer lap top was hooked up to the city wifi so I played a video of Graham Cooke & Jonathan David Helser. The title of this is Inheritance and it tells us how much Jesus Loves us. I tried to not have it too loud as to disturb customers, and yet to have it just loud enough to spark interest. I saw others sitting at tables out in the center of the dining room that smiled at me, they knew who I was.

We have been meeting in the backroom of the restaurant for six months. Our group includes women from different churches and different cities, but all with one primary goal, namely; to gather as a sisterhood of God lovin‟ gals. Coffee is optional.

I saw the waiter from the other side of the restaurant peering into the room, and it gave me a peace. He often jokes with us and tries to make us laugh. This time he looked inquisitive. He made a point to walk over to listen. Although this is a time for us women to share, we are ready to claim the love that Jesus has for us with anyone.

As one of our evenings came to a close, I gathered my things after giving the last person a hug, and was approached by the waitress. She asked what this was all about and I set down my bag. I invited her to come to the next one, assuring her that it was an informal time of sharing. She didn‟t need to go to a church or be a certain type.

We are known by some as „that God group‟ and that‟s just fine by me.



A blast of hot desert w

legs stuck to the green vinyl se black Arizona highway in our ing.

My mom and dad were

ing cat’s cradle with a long pie

how long before we hit the nex

stared out the window at the e hairbrush. 38

n Your Seatbelt By: Susy Flory

wind poured through the open window and ruffled up my bangs. My t-shirt and shorts felt thick and heavy and my

eat as I leaned away from the sun beating through the half-rolled down window. We were chugging down a sticky olive-green Ford station wagon on a cross-country road trip to visit relatives in Texas. There was no air condition-

e in front, my sister and I in the back seat. We passed the time playing highway bingo, thumb wrestling, and play-

ece of string. My parents enjoyed looking at “the scenery.” My sister and I were more excited about calculating

xt Stuckey’s Truck Stop and the possibility of getting a bag of candy or a soda. When we got tired of playing, I

endless string of barbed wire fence along the side of the road, tumbleweeds stacked up along the wire like lint in a


There’s my great-grandmother Susanna, who I was named for. She was a beautiful and tough Arkansas Ozarks mother of ten who died in her late Then it happened. The wind shifted, got an-

sixties of cancer. No one is quite sure what kind.

gry, and scoured the ground, creating a twisting col-

And my husband’s grandfather Duffy, who

umn of dust off to the side of the highway. I was fas-

died of lung cancer. Robert took him to his radiation

cinated, watching my first dust devil dance and

treatments as he wasted away. He ended up so weak

twirl. When it died down I looked ahead and saw

that my husband had to carry him into the hospital

something that horrified me.

for his treatments towards the end.

A giant tumbleweed, pushed off the fence by

There are other close relatives and friends.

the gust of wind, had blown into the road ahead. The

Marilyn. Josephine. David. Stan. Lou Ann.

tumbleweed was as tall as our station wagon and it

And then there’s my dad. He was an amazing

began to roll directly towards us, pushed along by the wind. My dad kept steering straight ahead and

father and I adored him. He provided my sister and

pretty soon the massive tumbleweed filled the wind-

me with an idyllic upbringing. He loved horses and I

shield. It was a dark, dirty brown and covered with

grew up on a string of fat and friendly ponies. My

prickles and to my seven year-old eyes it looked like

favorite memories are of trail rides with him in the

we were going to be crushed. It was just like the sce-

gorgeous green foothills surrounding our house. He

ne out of Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy faces

was active, fit, and happy. He loved life and he

down the rolling boulder.

loved us.

The tumbleweed incident happened almost 40 years ago. But just last year those same feelings came back

“I’m sorry. It’s malignant.”

when I received the phone call every woman dreads: “I’m sorry. It’s malignant.” I was in shock. For a moment I was back in that green station wagon. The tumor in my right breast was just the size of a pea, but the fear that swept over me was just like facing down that giant tumbleweed again. And I knew where the fear came from: the ghosts of cancers past. 40


But when he was 45 he contracted renal

There’s some kind of dark power in the

(kidney) cancer. And when he was 47, despite sur-

word. I feel it, and often I talk about “what I’m ex-

gery, radiation, and chemo, the cancer advanced into

periencing” or “this health issue” or “health prob-

his liver and he died.

lem” without using the word itself. I’m not sure why, but I do know that the dark cloud of fear and

So when I had my first indication that there might be something quite dangerous lurking in my

memories that goes with cancer is a very real part of

breast, the ghosts started to stir. Fearful memories of

the battle.

others’ illness and death dusted themselves off and

And those memories are wrapped up in the

came back to life. Long forgotten images and con-

people I’ve known and lost to cancer, despite the

versations and smells and sounds came to mind, un-

best efforts of doctors and surgeons.

bidden and unwelcome.

Was everyone in my family going to die in their forties?

Dealing with breast cancer is

enough, in and of itself. There’s so much to learn

Very early on around the time of my diagno-

about the disease and the treatment, so many emo-

sis, I began to vividly relive my dad’s illness and

tions and experiences to process, so many fears to

death. I felt afresh the agony of losing him and just

battle. I knew this, in a way. I knew there would be

the unfairness of the whole damn thing.

much work to do and that I had a long and uncertain

And I agonized over his age. He had been 45

journey ahead of me. I just didn’t know that I’d be

when he got cancer. I was 44. I couldn’t get past

undertaking the journey with the ghosts of everyone

those numbers. They haunted me. Was everyone in

I’ve ever known

my family going to die in their forties? Would my

who’s died of cancer.

children have to experience what I went through in

I’m not quite sure

losing a parent so young? It was a dark time. I was at

what it is about can-

a women’s retreat down in the Santa Cruz mountains

cer that is so much

during this period, and I had the time to think and

more frightening

grieve and cry and argue with God. This was so un-

than, say, heart dis-

fair. How could he do this to me and my family?

ease or Alzheimer’s

Why did I have to go through this? I explained to

or even the H1N1 flu.

God that I didn’t have time for cancer. I made my

I’ve noticed that

case: I’m writing books and speaking and doing

some people are

ministry. I’m raising kids and being a wife and liv-

even afraid to say the

ing my life. I’ve been working out and eating

word cancer, dancing

healthy. I’m even mentoring a budding speaker and

around the word or

teaching a women’s Bible study!

calling it “the Big C.” 41


didn’t tell anyone at the retreat what I was going through and I felt very alone and afraid. I really didn’t know where to turn. Then the retreat speaker, a gorgeous and wise woman, shared a Bible verse that rocked me. I don’t remember much of what she said but I do remember this. It’s from the book of Philippians in the New Testament: “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel” (Philippians 4:6-7, CEV). Another translation reads like this: “Be anxious for nothing… and the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I clung to that verse like a blind woman stumbling down a dark hallway. I memorized it and repeated it and soaked it in. I practiced it. I did what it said. I prayed, and thanked God for all the ways he has blessed me, and I told him my worries and my deepest, darkest thoughts. And slowly…slowly…it worked. It doesn’t make much sense, but I found peace.

Meg Ryan wig.


First chemo treatment and head shaved soon after.

Post chemo with kids Ethan & Teddy



that’s it. That’s how I’ve been able to stay strong on this journey. It’s my little se-

cret, and now it’s yours, too. God’s mercy and grace and peace, delivered to me through those brief words of Scripture, broke through the horror and fear that enveloped me and allowed me to know this: I am not my father. My cancer is not my father’s cancer. After surgery, chemo, and radiation, I’m cancer-free. And the gigantic Arizona tumbleweed? Our station wagon hit it, head-on. I screamed on impact and the strangest thing happened. It disappeared, crushed into a million tiny pieces of dried brown grass that scattered across the road under our car, then blew away. Chances are, you’re going to face some tumbleweeds, too. But when you belong to Jesus there is hope, and there is peace. Just fasten your seatbelt and let that station wagon roll on. Susy Flory loves to uncover big stories with happy endings that inspire and challenge readers to embrace a life of passion boldness, and adventure. She has two new books coming out this year. She’s also the author of So Long Status Quo: What I Learned From Women Who Changed the World. Her website is:


“It's spring fever.. . You don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” Mark Twain

Do you have a testimony that you would like to share with us? Submission Guidelines: 1. Anyone is welcome to submit articles or testimonies. 2. Submissions by women who have attended or hosted a Praise and Coffee event will be considered first 3. Testimonies can be personal or connected to your experience at a Praise and Coffee event. 4. Articles that will be considered are to be encouraging and inspiring. 5. Humorous articles and funny stories are encouraged! 6. Length of submission should be 400-1,000 words. This can be negotiated for feature articles. 7. Submissions will be read and considered among the Editor and co-Editor. 8. We do not pay for articles, they are on a volunteer basis. 9. Submissions should be in “Times New Roman” #12 font. 10. Submissions need to be emailed as an attachment and include: Name Email Website (if applies) Short (100 words or less) bio 11. Email submissions to our Co-Editor:

It is a quarterly online magazine, here are the dates for submissions: Summer 2011 issue deadline: June 1, 2011 Autumn 2011 issue deadline: September 1, 2011 Winter 2012 issue deadline: December 1, 2011


Thank God for pushy girlfriends! Pam Timmer is the wife of her best friend Troy and the mom of Caleb and Abbie. She is currently working on a book about sports that is specifically for women. She likes sunsets at Lake Michigan, walks in the woods, hearing the laughter of her children, sharing a bowl of ice cream with her hubby, and drinking in the fact that God lavishes His love on us. Email Pam Timmer: 46

The day had been hectic and I could not wait to go out for the night. My sister-in-law and I were planning to go to the Praise and Coffee Night at the Plainwell Coffee Mill.

I arrived at the Coffee Mill and was welcomed in by women that I knew. I found a place at a table and met some new women who I hit it off with right away. I was so glad to be there.

But, my plans began to unravel. First there was a call from my sis-in-law saying that she could no longer make it. Then, came the phone call from my hubby. His meeting was running late and he would not be home in time to watch the kids so I could go.

As soon as Lorilee began to speak my heart bent towards her. I could relate to her story about how writing the book Through the Storm was literally a storm in her own life. She talked about God’s constant presence and how He was the one in charge and He protected and provided for her through the whole thing. I loved it.

I was so bummed. I dejectedly made supper for my kids and tried to think of some way to salvage my evening.

At the end of the evening Sue Cramer said that if anyone wanted to pray with her to find her afterwards. I got up and headed to the restroom but found myself in front of Sue instead. Something, or rather SOMEONE, had definitely directed me there. The story of my evening was shared and I asked her to pray for my writing dreams and goals. In the middle of the cadence of women’s conversations going on all around us Sue lifted me up to our Savior.

The phone rang and it was my friend Becky. She immediately asked in her upbeat tone, “So, what are your plans for this lovely summer Thursday evening?” My sorrowful tale spilled out to her listening ears. Her response was immediate, “YOU ARE GOING! DO YOU HEAR ME?! YOU ARE GOING! You are supposed to go to this tonight. God has a plan in this. Let’s figure this thing out!”

Her response was immediate,


So, we did. A short time later, my kids were at my in-laws for the evening and I was heading to the Coffee Mill. I could not wait to hear Lorilee Craker, an author who was that evening’s speaker.

I felt so encouraged. After she prayed she steered me over to Lorilee and to Alison Hodgson, a friend of Lorilee’s and also an author.



Labor Day weekend I was not feeling well. A few days later we found out the surprising news that I am pregnant! This was a big shock to us. Our son is 10 and our daughter is almost 7 ½. We thought that we were finished adding to our family. But, our kids have been praying for over a year now. Caleb has been praying for a brother and Abbie has been praying for a sister. They were not at all surprised that God had answered their prayers with a new little sibling on the way!

spent the rest of the evening talking with the two of them. We laughed together and shared delightful conversation. They both invited me to come to the Breathe Christian Writer’s Conference. The next day I was paging through the Praise and Coffee newsletter that I had picked up. I was floored when I read the article written by Jaime Rogers. Jaime wrote about her husband’s love of Notre Dame football and her resentment of it. She wrote about how God pricked her conscience and she decided to make a change to better her marriage. She began to embrace the love of ND football instead of resent it. She began going to games with her hubby Shaun and she made it a special time for them. I was so excited because the book I am writing fits beautifully with her story.

I must confess that I really thought that my writing was now going to be put on the backburner again. I did not know what God had planned now. This baby is a miracle in our family. So, this new little one is definitely part of His plan but what about my call to write? And, what about the book I’m working on?

I e-mailed Jaime and we set up a time to meet for me to interview her for my new book. We had a fabulous time and it was just confirmation that I definitely was supposed to go to Praise and Coffee that evening.

On the way to the Breathe Conference I poured out my heart to God. I asked Him to show me very clearly exactly what His will was for my writing. I was confused and questioning Him and His plan. By the time I arrived at the conference my heart felt at peace. As soon as I stepped into the building God’s divine direction was present. And, I was stunned to leave the conference that day with a request for a book proposal on my new book I am working on.

And, I signed up for the Breathe Conference and excitedly made plans to go.



was amazed. God’s answers to my prayers could not have been clearer! God did want me to write this book and He had orchestrated my life to make all these connections so far! Incredible!

Sue asked me to share my story with you so you could be encouraged. We do not understand the workings of our Lord. We cannot always see what He is doing. We can trust Him though that He has our lives planned out for us. He is working out His plan for us. He will see us through.

I am currently working on the book and the book proposal. I am now in my second trimester so I am starting to feel a bit better. And, I am now thoroughly convinced that God’s plans for me include this precious new baby and also the writing of this book that is near and dear to my heart. Lorilee, Alison, Sue, and Jaime all continue to encourage me on this journey I am on.

What are you dreaming about? Could it be that God is calling you to a new adventure? Does God have a plan or a path for you that you are just beginning? Join me and step out in faith. Follow His leading and see where He takes you. I cannot wait! Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Visit the link below to find our more about the 2011 Breathe Conference coming to Grand Haven, MI on October 14-15th.




elcome to our new addition to the Praise and Coffee lifestyle…Praise and Coffee Cooks! Praise and Coffee Cooks was sortakinda in a way brought about last fall. Sue and I both had gotten a Pioneer Woman cookbook and decided we would be brave and really try to make some of her recipes. Then we figured, hey, why not make them together? The first time we made the lasagna. We planned to make it a blog post so we set up the flip camera, we fed Lauren and Abraham Little Debbie snacks, we took pictures galore, we kept Band -Aids on hand, we tweeted, we face booked, we boogied to the radio. My husband began to assume such visits would become commonplace. We would be eating my throw together noodles and canned sauce for dinner when I’d mention going to Sue’s the next day. His eyes would light up. “You gonna cook anything?”

And when we were done we had really yummy lasagna for dinner. Another time we made chicken potpie. I think we barely remembered to check the chicken since were on a deadline with the magazine or something. We were running from the kitchen to the computer and back again. I left her house that day with the food and a lot of work done.

In a way, our starving husbands and children forced us to begin Praise and Coffee Cooks.


It comes down to this…we all are going to make dinner. We might as well make it together.

When you spend time cooking together you are doing the most basic of acts together. It can’t help but make a friendship dearer. It gives you time to talk about what your families like to eat, or do, or activities you are involved in, or a favorite song, or a memory of the dish you are making.

That’s it. That’s all Praise and Coffee Cooks is. Sue and I had so much fun making dinner together. It’s all kinds of fun to call or text each other after dinner and see what the other family thought of dinner and compare notes.

Who doesn’t have a favorite memory linked to food? So get out there with a friend or two and make up some food.

Take some pictures of your good time in the kitchen & send them to us!!

It’s fun to work in the same kitchen together; the job isn’t a job anymore. And the clean up is way more fun when you are talking the whole time.

Got a recipe that was a huge hit? Send it to us at with the subject line “Praise and Coffee Cooks” and we’ll start looking for new friends to highlight in the magazine.

What we would like to see is two or more friends getting together for coffee (tea is allowed :))and making dinner together. What we would like to see is two or more Make a recipe that you know well or find a new one. Someone shop before hand so you have all the ingredients there and ready to go. Make up a dinner together and then each of you have a dish to take home to your family that night.

friends getting together for coffee (tea is allowed :)) and making dinner together!

It makes for a relaxing night for your family too. No “What’s for dinner?” and infamous after dinner mess for you.

Sue Cramer and Denise Dykstra 51

The of


e dark side f coffee! When I heard the latest chapter of ‘The Many Adventures of Sue and Denise,’ I had to nod my head in agreement. Praise and Coffee Cooks may take connecting far deeper than grabbing coffee. Now before you throw coffee beans at my head, I do have a theory.

By: Joanna Moore

Mom was going to serve some laced cupcakes. They raided the spice rack and dumped in garlic, cloves, paprika, and any other thing that shouldn’t belong in a cupcake. I guess when they went to bake them; it smelled so bad they had to open all the windows in the house. To hear my mom tell this tale is priceless. She starts to laugh until she has tears streaming down her face. She said those things stunk to high heaven and the only thing that would cover the nasty smell was to make a strong chocolate coffee frosting.

My mom’s family can cook. There was a silent competition between mom and her three sisters, not to mention grandma could hold her own. Family gettogethers were sort of viewed as the Holy Grail of the dinner plate. There was much lifting of forks in thanksgiving.

I will point out that coffee can be used for evil and us tea drinkers already know this about the dark side of coffee. What else could cover up the cupcake’s true nature other than coffee’s strong aroma? Coincidence? I think not.

There is just something so comforting and uniting about food - even if it’s bad. One of my favorite stories about my mom is how she met my dad. They worked at the same place and mom was one of the secretaries. Her boss, who was a huge prankster, kept pestering her to bake him something.

So mom waltzed into work the next day and presented the charlatan cupcakes to her boss. All the other ladies were in on it and gathered around to watch the show. The poor guy took a huge bite and froze. Mom was laughing hysterically at this point as she remembered his face turning red and sweat pouring off his head. He started coughing and sputtering and quickly left the room to spit it out and down a bunch of water all while the ladies crowed with laughter.

Mom decided to get him and get him good. She went home and concocted a brilliant, yet slightly evil plan. And because brilliance and pure evilness needs company, she got grandma and her sisters in on it too.


The dark sid Enters through the side door - my Dad. He sees a bunch of woman cackling like crazy and his eyes landed on the cupcakes. He marched into the group and asked mom if she made it. Dude never picked up on the gleam in her eye as she extended the plate to him and said yes. Now my dad HATES coffee. He can't stand the smell of it, let alone the taste of it. He caught one whiff of the coffee icing and wolfed down the cupcake as fast as he could to avoid the taste. It probably saved his life. When he later found out what my Mom did, he thought any broad that pulled a stunt like that was worth getting to know. Just 2 months ago, my parents were at some church gathering and ended up meeting the step-son of my mom’s boss. He said he heard that tale for years and felt truly happy to meet the crazy lady who pulled a fast one on his step-dad. I grew up hearing all kinds of stories that happened all in the kitchen. Certain meals bring out stories. I recently got my hands on the recipe my grandma used for homemade noodles. While we were eating it, I was remembering my grandma and was telling my boys different stories about our crazy family. I was doing a bible lesson with my youngest son and it was about Jesus hanging around the table, enjoying food all while teaching. I’ve seen this so many times with my own family. Enjoying a meal can take the conversation so much farther and deeper.


de of coffee! We’ve all had that moment where we take a bite of someone’s dish and think I have GOT to know how to make this wonderfulness or come up with some plan to force this person to make it for me on demand. Or maybe that’s just me. We all have that one recipe that inspires others and cooking it together could take connecting to a whole new level. As well as world domination especially with international recipes. Grab a friend, pick up your whisk, and try not to poison your boss with laced cupcakes. But I guarantee you’ll never forget the tale of "remember when we…"

Joanna Moore is a married, thirty-something freelance writer, and stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to 3 growing boys. In her free time, Joanna likes to blog, play way too many Facebook games, and spend time with her friends and family. Visit her blog at: Email:


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Bringing Praise and Coffee Nights to the Hospital? That’s just what Trina Martin and her team did when a friend needed some uplifting.


They are a young couple in June they will celebrate their 3rd anniversary, Because of this we decided to take Praise & Coffee to her. Some wonderful ladies from the worship team of River Church of Juniata County volunteered to lead us in worship, they brought their sound equipment, a guitar, drums, and a couple of their husbands to haul it all into the hospital for them. We set up in the back of the cafeteria at Penn State Hershey Hospital and set out to bring the holy fire of God into the place!

We usually host our Praise & Coffee nights in a small coffee shop called Javateas in Ephrata. Sometime we have held it in my home.

We started with almost an hour of worship which was incredible and anyone who was in the cafeteria was able to come and listen.

This time we mixed things up a bit, one of our girls has been going through a difficult time in her life, her husband was diagnosed with Leukemia in December 2010. After a round of chemo he needed a bone marrow transplant. On March 3, 2011 He received the transplant (donated by his 15yr old sister) everything went well, but this wonderful young woman is staying by his side through it all. 59

Bringing Praise and Co


fter the amazing worship, we had a devotion on tears, and some of the ways we use tears.

Some of the key verses w

Psalm 56:8 you keep trac all my tears in your bottle

Ecclesiastes 3:4 a time to grieve and a time to dan

Revelation 21:4 (The Mes eyes. Death is gone for g -all the first order of thin “Look Iâ€&#x;m making everyth 60

ffee Nights to the Hospital!


e continued our worship with a time of prayer, several ladies shared prayer requests and praises, as they were shared we spent time lifting praises and requests to our Heavenly Father. Our evening closed with several announcements and then a time of fellowship. We were so encouraged and blessed to spend the evening together.


ck of all my sorrows. You have collected e.

Thank you for the blessing Praise & Coffee is to so many women! What a God inspired idea! In His grip, Trina Martin

o cry and a time to laugh. A time to nce.

ssage) Heâ€&#x;ll wipe every tear from their good-tears gone-crying gone, pain gone ngs gone. The enthroned continued hing new.â€? 61

I’m jus this...but i th

You’re w

For Caffeinated Moms Like You! Denise Dykstra, co-editor of Praise and Coffee the Magazine. Denise is heavily caffeinated and joyfully married to her truck driving, farming husband. They reside in Michigan raising their four boys (ages 11 to 4) on a hobby farm that keeps them hopping busy. She updates friends on her sons’ latest escapades and caught snakes on her blog “Life With Four Boys...Coffee Please!” 62

st plain not sure what to title if you need a little giggle today, his is the article to read.


We live on a little hobby farm out here in the currently frigid Midwest where my husband and I grow boys (four of them), vegetables and fruit, and chickens. My days are one exciting situation or conversation after another with all my boys home, thus the reason I blog. I often joke that without my boys, I would be boring. Then this happened and changed my thoughts on all that. It was an unexpected Monday home all alone, all the boys in school, Jake away plowing snow and me home to tackle laundry and dishes. I was totally set up to have a boring day. It was anything but.

All morning my two dogs, Sadie and Josie, had been on high alert, jumping from window to window and barking at the slightest sound. It didn’t help that with the boys gone that we could hear every time the recovering rooster on our enclosed porch crowed. I let the dogs out when they began to wrestle and knock into dining room chairs and went back to washing dishes. I had painted my nails a pretty glittery ruby red color the night before and I had to admit it DID make washing dishes much more fun! 63

Suddenly, I caught sight of Sadie, our one year old German Shepherd, trotting up the driveway with some THING in her mouth. I didn‟t have to wonder long because she came to the kitchen door, opossum in her mouth – and, if you can believe it – a smile upon her face.

Funny how any awful icky farm thing makes me think I should write a blog post. I went back to washing dishes, enjoying the shocked emails (ie “Why do I so often jump backwards from my computer when opening pics from you??? Blech!” and “Quick, get rid of it before the boys want you to cook it up for dinner!” (to which I replied, “we just ran out of gopher gravy”) Apparently we all have seen a few too many Beverly Hillbillies episodes with Granny cooking.) I was getting back from my friends and glanced out the window to see….

She and Josie, our older Australian Shepherd, had some fun playing with the nasty dead thing, left it near the clothes line in some deep snow and went off to get the dead taste out of their mouths by chewing on discarded deer bones on a snow pile. I cautiously approached the opossum and couldn‟t resist snapping a picture with my phone. I quickly sent it off to my husband, Jake, and a few friends cuz it was sorta gross and funny all at once.

The opossum was up. It was shaking the icky dog slobber off of it. And I just stood there in amazement. I could NOT believe I had JUST been out there taking photos of it.

I despise opossums. They kill chickens. My goose just died a terrible death by some vermin this winter. I have seen these nasty things hiss and bite and snarl and I. Do. Not. Like. Them. But in case the boys were to miss the opossum due to Jake getting home to take care of it before they arrived home from school, I ran back to the house and grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures. “This is gonna make a great blog”, I thought to myself.

Clearly, the opossum had pulled a fast one on my two dogs (and me!) but this thing could NOT stay in our yard! I have chickens to protect!!! I rapped on the window to get the dogs attention off the nasty deer bone and instead on the nasty opossum. It didn‟t work. 64

They waddled up to the window, looked at me like I had lost my mind, and then sauntered off.

I hurried for the gun cabinet because I AM a country girl. I know which gun is Andrew‟s and was pretty sure what bullet went in it. I have paid attention to the boys as they target practice.

Sadie even stopped to sniff the SITTING UP OPOSSUM and still thought it dead (how awful that thing must smell!) and returned to her snow mountain.

I pulled the gun out, dug out a bullet, and stopped.

The opossum was clearly going to be on the move soon and I had to stop it…..

In my hands was a 12 gauge and a bullet and I wasn‟t 100 percent sure I knew that THIS bullet went in THIS gun.

So I did what every girl like me does, I sent off another message to my friends “IT LIVES!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”

Just then the rooster crowed.

But it was just me here to protect my home.

From our porch.

And flock of hens.

I looked up at the rooster, to the gun in my sparkly painted fingers and just had to laugh.

Because the rooster, as I have stated, is currently living on the porch (but that is another story for another time).

This day was anything but boring. I put the gun away, locked the cabinet, checked the window and seen that the dogs had suddenly decided I had not noticed the opossum enough…

I have pulled this princess thing off with my boys a bit too well. Jake shoots varmints that must be eliminated. Andrew, our oldest, has two wild pig kills under his belt and is a great shot and hunting enthusiast, the boys know how to work BB guns…

…if only they really knew… and moved it to the front of the house. The driveway in fact.

But I only know how to work the NERF gun.

The opossum must have thought it struck gold because it was getting up on the cleared path much more bravely than in the deep snow.

That was clearly not going to work here. 65

But I DO have a four wheel drive. I paused only momentarily before jumping in the suburban, told myself not to think about it and revved the engine. And ran the nasty chicken killing growly opossum over. But I wasn‟t positive if I for sure got IT or the snow bank. So I backed over it again. Ka-thunk. And then I drove it over again. Ka-thunk. And backed over it when I parked the suburban. I was sure it was dead. And reported to my giggling friends in other towns…and regions of the country. As one friend put it so eloquently “And so the saga ends”. It was about this time that my husband called and was immediately alerted to “something” going on. “It‟s nothing, really, I just had to run over an opossum.” “What? You? In the road?”

“No, it‟s in the driveway.” “The driveway?” “Yup, it‟s dead now...but, just to make sure, could you run over it one more time?” He was silent a moment and then burst out laughing. “This is so a blog post!” he chuckled. Yes, my family looks at my traumatic experiences as great blog posts too….What does this say about our life? And my knight in shining armor ran it over, grabbed with his snow plowing back blade and hauled it out to the field. Where I am fully expecting the dogs to dig up when it is rotting come spring. When I updated my Facebook status that evening I wrote “The dogs delivered an opossum to me today. I am choosing to think of it in a positive light, like, a sure sign of spring.” Because, honestly, what more could I say?

I was never so happy to have the boys come A little gift from my boys when home and we went to Cabelas! have a nice boring evening. 66


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The lessons I learn from

Lauren Written by: Sue Cramer


auren takes speech class. For one of the exercises, the teacher shows her pictures and Lauren tells her what they are. She had a couple cute ones the other day. The teacher showed her two women and instead of saying lady or mom, etc. She said "friends!" I love it! That's the way it should be huh?! Then she showed her a picture of a garden. With rows of plants sprouting out of the ground. Lauren looked at it and said, "mashed potato flowers!" I laughed so hard. What a forward thinker! She looked at those plants and thought- those will lead to mashed potatoes (one of her favorite foods). These are from our trip to China to bring Lauren home. She had spent the first 2 years of her life in an orphanage. We were crazy about her from the first time we saw her. She’s six years old today and still making us smile.



Here's a couple of promises that He's made to you...

Matthew 11:28-30

do you look at life?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Another person may have looked at that garden and saw WORK...pulling weeds, watering, dirt, mess, bug invasions or rabbits!

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

But she saw the reward. I want to think like that!


Those plants didn't look a thing like a potato, but that didn't matter to her, she knew what they were capable of.

Hebrews 13:5 "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." NIV

Reminds me of a man in the Bible that looked at his circumstances differently too.

Matthew 6:33-34

Romans 4:18-21 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-since he was about a hundred years old-and that Sarah's womb was also dead.

NIV Let's look at life for the joy it can bring us and see mashed potato flowers in our gardens!

20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. NIV


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Praise and Coffee Magazine Spring 2011  

A magazine to connect, encourage and inpsire women.

Praise and Coffee Magazine Spring 2011  

A magazine to connect, encourage and inpsire women.