Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Post: Extreme Makeover: Minnesota Style

Todays post comes from my good friend Kylie McCoy. Perfect for the Thanksgiving season.

Most people have seen  Extreme Makeover: House Edition on ABC. If you haven't seen it, chances are you are you have heard about it at some point. It's known for it's week long renovation of a family's home as it usually completed demolished, redesigned, rebuilt and lives are completely transformed. It's an incredible and moving show to watch as you see fathers and mothers of child crumble to the ground in tears after seeing their own brand new house for the first time. It's moving to see disabled children and war veterans be given the opportunity to live a normal life with the necessary equipment provided for them. Equipment they would never have been able to purchase on their own. However, rarely do people - as in you and me- actually get to see something as magnificent as the simple outpouring of love and generosity to a family in need right in their own backyard. Rarely do we get the opportunity to participate, whether through monetary giving or giving up some time to help raise the walls or nail shingles on a house.

This fall, that all changed for our little community in Maple Plain, Minnesota.

Meet Rick and Karen Sampson. An incredible couple who give hours upon hours of their time at Maple Plain Community Church as they work in the kitchen, often starting 5am to prepare meals for various events. From Awana dinners to the Mens' breakfasts, the Sampsons are probably behind the scenes. They are also actively involved in the community helping at the local food shelf, driving those around who either do not have a car or cannot drive any longer, or  .  Despite serious health concerns, the Sampsons are an incredible couple that is always seeking to give. Despite prostate cancer, heart problems, surgeries, respiratory issues and other concerns, the couple continues to give and serve the community.

Meet the house. For 21 years, the Sampsons have lived in their home. The original house was a 24x22 cabin built in the 1920. Since then a two story addition was put on in the early 2000's. For 12 of those 21 years, the roof has been leaking, allowing a partition of the house to begin to rot. The leaking roof allowed in water, which in turn created the perfect atmosphere for black mold. Last but not least, the original part of the house never had a foundation to sit on and hold it firmly in place. All in all, these conditions were not favorable for the Sampsons and their health conditions.

Meet Operation KARE. Once Maple Plain Community Church members learned about the house conditions along with the mounting health concerns, action had to be taken. A group of seven people began planning and organizing what would be Operation KARE. Meeting once a week over coffee, the meeting of minds has driven the project and enabled the Maple Plain community to give back to a family who has given so much despite health concerns. One of the driving forces behind the project, Justin McCoy shared some of his thoughts in a recent interview..."Everything so far has fallen into place," said McCoy. "We have faith that will continue." They plan to have everything completed for the Sampsons to move back into their home by December 1.

Meet Your Part. While the deadline is closing in, there are still opportunities to help out, especially financially. If you are interested and would love to help out this serving couple so intricately connected to the Maple Plain community: 

Send financial contributions to
Operation KARE
6250 Highway 12
Maple Plain, Minn., 55359

If you live in the area and want to volunteer opportunities,
e-mail Justin McCoy at

Check out another article about Operation KARE:  
Lending a Helping Hand
By Gail Lipe

Monday, November 14, 2011

A crazy Few Weeks


To say that the last few weeks have been a little crazy is to say it lightly. You may have kept up one or another, and I wanted to say thank you to so many of you who have prayed for us. It has been a trying few weeks.

We were putting lotion on the babies when Jeanne-Ann noticed a lump on Nyah's chest. We called the doctor and got in the next morning. He sent us to Portland to Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

They did surgery on her to remove the benign tumor. It had some technical term that basically meant she was OK. We were told there would be some swelling, but the swelling grew and grew and got to be the size of her previous tumor. We brought her back in and she had another surgery to remove that.
She is soooo cute, I just want to eat her up!
Instead of sewing her up they decided to let it heal from the inside out. Warning: the next part is nasty, so feel free to skip to the next paragraph. They put gauze inside of her wound and sent us home for a few days. Turns out that when we returned she was not ready and they told us we would need to change out the gauze in 2 days. That meant we would have to take off the bandage, pull out the gauze from inside her, take a Qtip and jam more gauze inside her gaping wound! Neither Jeanne-Ann nor I could handle even the thought of that. I inadvertently saw her wide open wound and almost lost my dinner. Just writing about it now is making me sick. Thankfully our neighbor is a paramedic and he came over and did it for us. (thanx Ben!)

In the middle of these procedures I went and saw my doctor about my shoulder. You may recall That I tore my rotator cuff and went through 4+ months of physical therapy and got a cortisone shot before I left for Ethiopia this summer. I only progressed to about 65% or so. I knew Jeanne-Ann's insurance was running out at the end of September and if I was going to have surgery it would be wonderful to be double covered.

So my doctor looked at me and said we needed to do surgery. This was a Thursday. I told him about the insurance, which was a week and a day away. I also told him that I was leading a youth pastor retreat that next Thursday. He laughed and said, "You don't have to be at that retreat do you?" haha. Yes! I was leading it. So we set up surgery for the Wednesday before.

My dear friend Michelle took me to the surgery center and picked me up too, as Jeanne-Ann had 4 children to take care of. She was there when they pulled out the clippers. I said, "I don't really have any hair on my shoulder. What do you need that for?" They shaved half my chest (not a massive difference...haha) and then they lifted up my arm and shaved my armpit. As soon as they lifted my arm I began to giggle. I couldn't stop laughing. Then when they shaved I laughed even harder. The whole time Michelle is laughing along with me. She may have some video evidence of that, I am not 100% sure.

What I do have video evidence of is right after surgery in the recovery room. Meesh thought it would be fun to video that experience. I don't remember any of this, except for having watched it several times.

Next thing I know, I am sort of awake and being walked to the car.

There is so much that happened after that I honestly don't want to bore you with a super long post, so I will just hit a few highlights (or lowlights).
* On the way home I semi-recall asking Michelle to hold my hand because it was so cold and her hand was so warm. (she is a good friend...haha)
* I had a nerve block on my arm so I could have cut my finger off and wouldn't have felt it. In the middle of the night I threw up from the drugs and my arm fell out of the sling and scared me. I screamed because I didn't know whose arm it was.
* On the way to the retreat I had to puke. Brian pulled over and I said, "I don't remember having pineapple."
* I fell asleep leading worship (standing up)
* I fell asleep at dinner and Byron took a picture of me with my phone and set it as my background

* My friend Brian bailed me out at the retreat by playing guitar (I thought I would be able to) and sooooo much more!
I couldn't pull my socks or shoes on myself.
* I puked many times on the last day when my nausea pills ran out (sorry, no pics for that...haha)
* On the way home I could not lift my head up with out feeling like I was going to puke
* I got home and slept for a few hours and my friend Steve came and picked me up to take me to Fox Island where I would preach 2 times the next morning. (more on that in another post, perhaps)
Me sitting in Josh's future office

* I spoke at an event the following weekend
* We prepared for saying good-bye to some of our dearest friends in the world, Josh, Bex and Mercy, as they made their move to Fox Island. (this was very difficult)
The moving truck
Kynzi & Karston left a message inside their house.
Our last "we live here" meal together.

There is so much more, but this may be one of my longest posts and I just need to post it. Thanx for bearing with me. I am a blogger, and I love to blog. This being said, I will continue to strive to post more.

Again, thank you for praying for us during this time. How can I pray for you?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Pinterest made me a Hero

Have you checked out Pinterest? Basically it is a "Wow, I saw this online and thought it was cool." And you can follow your friends and see what they thought was cool. You can follow certain categories too. I have taken a few pictures of things I have seen around and posted them, but many people post things they find online. You can also "repin" things others have pinned. You can do this online AND you can do it with an app on your phone. It is sort of like your Facebook news feed. Or instagram.

This brings me to today.A few weeks ago I saw a couple of things on pinterest I really wanted to do. They were food items. Over the years I have discovered something about myself. I am an entrepreneurial type of person who is great at dreaming dreams and thinking of ideas. I am NOT great at following through on many of those dreams. I need someone who can come alongside me and help me see that dream through. I have some people like that at work and in my personal life and that is so important for me to have, otherwise I would hardly accomplish a thing. haha. I even have a "life coach" (more on that in another post) who helps me with this from time to time.


Today I finally followed through on this "dream" I had. There were 2 things I wanted to do. 1) Make apple mouths and 2) make home made butterfingers. Yes, you heard that right! Yum! So I purchased my ingredients (several on post Halloween 50% off prices) and got right to it. Now for the blow by blow.

Apple Mouths

For this little project I needed apples, peanut butter and mini marshmallows.
This is what I got. It turned out I needed toothpicks to hold them together because I sliced the apples to large. Then Kynzi had the brilliant idea of adding in raisins for eyes. Genius!
Karston really enjoyed them!
Now to the second project.

Home Made Butterfingers

For this project there are only 3 ingredients! Candy corn, peanut butter and chocolate. That's it! The first thing I did was put a bag of candy corn into a bowl and microwaved it for 2 minutes. I think the original thing I read said 1 minute, but that wasn't even close.

Then I added 15 seconds more until it was runny and I could mix it really well. Once that was ready I mixed in 16 ounces of creamy peanut butter. When it was a nice consistency I put it all out on a pan with parchment paper.
I think it is probably best to put it in a shaped pan (8x8 or something like that) but I used a flat one and mashed it down with a fork to get it to a nice thickness (1/2 an inch or so). I let it cool till it was hard and then used a pizza slicer to make small pieces for consumption!
After that was all cooled off I melted chocolate in the microwave. I think it was in for a total of 1 minute, but you need to just check every 20-30 seconds. I happened to have gotten Dove (best chocolate) promises at the post Halloween deal.

Once it was melted I took the pieces and dipped them in. I putted the finished product in the freezer so the chocolate would harden and came back a while later and we enjoyed what tastes unbelievably like the real Butterfinger!
I seriously can't tell you how amazingly yummy these things were! You should totally try it! Those candy corn bags are still in most grocery stores and Wal-Marts! Hurry in now!

How about you? Are you good with these kinds of things? Are you creative? Have you made anything recently? Are you on Pinterest? Let me know in the comments. I would love to hear more!

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