Water Party!

Before we moved to Michigan I called my sister (in-law) Leslie and said, “Ok, we have to decide if we’re doing Wine to Water right now. I have 15 tubs of stuff stored in my basement that if we decide to do it will heretofore reside in your basement. And when I say “we” need to decide it really is “you” need to decide because your work load will approximately double and you’ll have to do all of the physical tasks.”

It was really hard being so far away during the planning stages of the event. Arguably my favorite part of the whole thing is getting to spend so much time with Leslie and other party planners so perhaps it’s no surprise that I went over my anytime minutes on my phone plan the months of October and November. 😉

DSC_0073

Leslie very smartly gathered a group of dedicated women to brainstorm new and creative ways to mix it up without losing the integrity of the event (Leslie and I are very passionate about keeping it low key, gritty, east coast vibe. We never want it to look like every other silent auction for non profits that can be found throughout the world for all of the days.) I got to FaceTime in on that gathering and was humbled to hear so many great women excited about raising more money than last year (which was our highest amount raised in the 5 years the party had been happening.)

Leslie and I had known after last year that we had to cut back some on the art (oftentimes it was the same people bidding on art over and over and those people, we figured, had probably run out of space on their walls.), scrap the craft station and develop a variety of things at different price points so that more people could get involved in the actual fundraising piece of the event.

So this year we featured a few pieces of art, some rather amazing baskets, a wine pull and various raffles. The crew from Davenport went above and beyond in gathering the supplies/gift cards/items for the baskets so that each basket was worth well over $100-some even closer to $300.

As with last year, Becky Straw the Co-Founder of The Adventure Project, flew out to thank the great people of the QC for being such great supporters of the organization. I saw her all night answering questions and speaking with donors, just another sign that TAP cares about their individual donors. I love them.

DSC_0042 DSC_0050 DSC_0057 DSC_0058 DSC_0063 DSC_0066 DSC_0336

 

We also had more community businesses partner with us than ever before. It was so cool to see so many great companies rally around the common goal of providing jobs and clean water to the people of Uganda.

Leslie and I decided (admittedly on a whim) to fly Andy Landers out to be our musical guest. It was such a great decision in the end because his music is always great and fits so well with the event.

DSC_0300

My family once again put in hours of hard labor to set up the event. Thursday night my parents brought a trailer to load up all of the tables and chairs with my brother-in-law and dad doing most of it. My mom, having had total knee replacement surgery just 2 weeks before, decided she was feeling up to holding doors and pushing dollies. Because she’s a hard ass. And also kind of crazy. 🙂

DSC_0071

My other sister (in-law) Emily simply worked her ass off. In so many ways she took my place this year and I’m so grateful for it. If you ask her she’ll downplay her contribution but she sincerely worked so hard I want to acknowledge the fact that she hasn’t gotten nearly the credit she deserves. (Pictured here, far right, serving wine). I really love her.

DSC_0393

 

Close to 400 people came this year which made our huge event space feel cozy and intimate. I loved seeing so many people I’ve missed these last months while in Michigan as well as people who were new to hearing about The Adventure Project.

DSC_0379 DSC_0420 DSC_0451 DSC_0475 DSC_0493 DSC_0491

I also loved seeing the committee of women who helped organize the event take full ownership-encouraging bidding, selling raffle tickets, passing out desserts. It was awesome. And to see those who helped set up (including our one lone non-Klipsch, though Jason is Klipsch in our hearts obviously, who helped with the heavy manual labor) let loose and admire their hard work.

DSC_0275 DSC_0489

I also got to see a few junior high/high school friends who came for the first time. It had been too long since seeing them but it was so great to catch up. I’ve always been prone to nostalgia so seeing them just really made my heart happy.

DSC_0335

Of course as it always does, the night went too quickly and soon it was time for the real celebration. Love the last bit of the night when I can really celebrate with those that made it all possible. And dance. I freaking love dancing.

DSC_0500 DSC_0501 DSC_0497 copy

Becky Straw had identified 20 villages in Uganda that were in desperate need of clean water and our goal was to fund 5 of those (about $6,000 more than we had ever made. What can I say-we are forever optimistic).

WE FUNDED 6!!!  We far surpassed our goal and on December 11 we got an email from Becky saying our totals had reached $24,000 with more coming in since then! (that’s $10,000 more than last year for those keeping track!)

(Pretty sure that’s what we in the biz call “burying the lead” but whatevs. I like pictures and words.)

If you’re friends with me on Facebook you already knew all of this because I’ve been posting about it ad nauseam for weeks, but I wanted to make sure I had it on record on my blog for days when I was feeling dumpy and needed a pick me up.

Perhaps my favorite story of this year’s event is one that happened just a few weeks ago actually. A donation of $700 was made towards the party and when asked why she was donating the woman said she had heard one of our committee people ask a local business for a donation for a basket. Our committee person was talking about The Adventure Project and how what they do matters and is important. The person who donated was just eating at that establishment, an innocent bystander. She didn’t say anything at the time but instead researched it a bit and then made her donation. She’s completely anonymous but so generous. Isn’t that amazing?

Hope you guys have a Merry Christmas. If you’re looking to unload some disposable income before year’s end make sure you check out The Adventure Project. I truly believe in the work they are doing. Here’s an awesome video to put you in the mood. 🙂

*I am not getting paid by The Adventure Project, I just happen to really believe creating jobs=creating sustainability=less dependency=world peace. 🙂

 

Wine to Water 2013

On November 16th somewhere around 300 people gathered in an otherwise empty space to reveal clean water once again to the people of Uganda.

735768_684687264883294_879086587_o

1397181_10152002510209593_1260051520_o

 

1412570_10152002511634593_598481515_o

 

It was such an amazing night. It went by too quickly, as is typically the case. We had fabulous music first by Lojo Russo and then by my talented husband and friends who ended the night with Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and my personal favorite, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”.

1398474_684687291549958_939051046_o

 

The art was through and through my favorite of all time. And though I didn’t eat nearly as much dessert or consume nearly enough wine, whiskey or beer it was all so delicious and perfect.

1401931_10152002509149593_1303337643_o

1404704_10152002509509593_1533556509_o

 

The crafts put together by some of my favorite people a few days prior looked better than ever too. (Sidenote: There are still 6 bean soups, 3 lentil soups and 6 soy candles left. Let me know if you’d like them, shipping is on me! 🙂 )

1402901_10152002528369593_2145404975_o

 

The centerpieces. Oh the centerpieces! I met Marjie when she first walked into my yoga class a few years ago. Since that time she has designed flowers for my sister’s wedding, donated centerpieces for the last two Wine to Water events and painted two beautiful pieces for the event as well. She is one of those people you would absolutely despise for being so incomprehensibly beautiful, sweet, smart and creative if she weren’t so disarming because of all of those things as well. Lucille Marie Designs in the Quad Cities, she’s perfection.

1398198_10152002513784593_609087440_o

906480_684687238216630_2118588891_o

 

Becky Straw, Co-founder of The Adventure Project made it to the event as well. She had one of the most intense few weeks of her life prior to the event and yet she showed up. I have such a thing about showing up. I loved having her there and I loved introducing her to so many of the people I love. They had heard me go on and on about her since meeting her a year ago, it was easy for them to see all of the reasons I love her and TAP.

1403011_10152002511974593_816536618_o

 

But let’s just be honest here for a moment. One of my favorite parts of the whole thing is working with this little lady really closely for months at a time. I know I say it all of the time but I somehow managed to get best friends for my in-laws. My siblings have married the very best, as have Zach’s siblings. Does that happen in other families? I feel like it’s not possible everyone is as blessed as I am. But Leslie? Yeah, we would’ve found each other in this lifetime even if we didn’t marry a couple of really good looking brothers.

1404848_10152002515439593_2003661295_o

 

I feel in a lot of ways this was our most successful year. There were considerably more people this year than any other year before. We ran out of all of the alcohol and had just a few bits of dessert left at the end of the night. There were people who had not ever been there before, even people who hadn’t heard about the water crisis as well.

I also think when it’s all said and done we’ll be really close to my personal goal of $15,000 heading straight to The Adventure Project, which is not only the most we’ve ever made but also a lot of money for this community of mine.

I don’t know what else I can say about the event that hasn’t been said in years past. Man, it’s such a great night, it really is. I love finding where my passion and God’s divine providence meet. I guess that’s why every year I feel like going barefoot-for me it’s all holy ground.

*If you missed it this year and would still like to donate there’s still time! Help us reach our goal by going here. Please and thank you! https://adventureproject.wufoo.com/forms/donate-wine-to-water-2013/

Online Art Auction!

For three of the last four Wine to Water events we have offered the art that is auctioned off at the event to the online community. We started this knowing that our online community is just as generous as our Quad City community and we wanted to give them the chance to buy art for a really good cause. Over the last three years, the online auction has brought in thousands of dollars, providing clean water to thousands of people.

So here’s your chance once again to be part of something bigger than “just” art. We all know really great art has the power to move people into feeling something they wouldn’t ordinarily feel or to look at something or someone in a whole new light. We believe offering this art to you—our online community—is a way of encouraging that. We believe every time you look at this painting or quilt or piece of pottery you will remember that a group of people acting together can make a real impact on changing our global community.

Here’s how it works: The online auction begins right now and will end Saturday, November 16th at 12pm CST. Send your highest bid to tesileagh@gmail.com. We will have someone bid on your behalf at Saturday night’s Wine to Water event. Remember, all bids (and subsequent donations) are 100% tax deductible. You will donate the cost of your purchase directly to The Adventure Project. Once we receive confirmation of your donation, we will ship your piece of art directly to you! (Thanks to generosity of our event hosts, the shipping costs are on us! ☺)

So bid away! And if you really love something, make sure you bid high!

Keep in mind this is just a portion of the art that will be available on Saturday night. If you’re in the Quad City area make sure you have plans to attend the actual event this Saturday night.

7–10pm

3rd floor of the Redstone Building

2nd and Main, Davenport.

At 8:30pm there will be a short presentation on The Adventure Project.

Also, you’ll see within the description below that certain pieces of art are only available to local residents. Those pieces are just too big or heavy to ship. If, however, you feel like you still really want it and you are not local, we would be willing to ship it to you as long as you will help with the shipping costs. (Keep in mind we’re just a few people passionate about fixing the water crisis—our budget is limited!)

Every year we are humbled by the outpouring of support this event brings. Thank you all for your continued thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. We’re looking forward to another amazing night. Happy bidding!

1) This is a 4 piece canvas, each piece is 11×14.

IMG_1423

2) “Wine to Water” oil on 24×12 canvas.

IMG_7711

3) “Tree of Life” 18×24 acrylic on canvas.

IMG_7729

4) “The Gathering” 12×36 acrylic on canvas.

IMG_7730

5) “Africa: My home. My Heart. My Motherland.” 16×20 acrylic on canvas (This was done by an 8-year-old Ethiopian adoptee, y’all! She’s amazing!)

IMG_7731

6) “Symbol of Change” 18×24 mixed media acrylic painting.

IMG_7733

7) Acrylic 18×24

IMG_7734

8) “African Summer” quilt.

IMG_7735

9) “Waterfall” quilt.

IMG_7736

10) “Breath” *this is a local piece only* . Piece is 43″ in diameter and features 16 different light colors.

IMG_7738 IMG_7737

11) “Spiral Paradise” *Local piece only* Pottery bowl.

IMG_7740

12) “Fish bowl” *local only piece* a 2 piece jar.

IMG_7741

13) “Baren to life” quilt.

IMG_7743

14) “From a well emerges life” a 12×12 acrylic multi media piece.

Mrs.Art

15) “My Cup Runneth Over” 16×12 canvas.

DSC_0076

16) untitled abstract 8×10 canvas.

DSC_0072

 

17) Photo etching 11×14 framed.

IMG_2671

 

18) mixed media 5×7 frame.

IMG_2669

Last night while driving in the car I could tell Trysten was looking at me.

“What’s up, Tman?”

“I can tell it’s Wine to Water time, mom.”

“Oh yeah, how is that?”

“Your face looks like your concentrating all the time. You kind of look a little sad, even when you smile you look a little sad.”

I took a moment before I responded. Yes, I suppose it’s true. Obviously I have a lot going on in my head so that makes sense why I look like I’m concentrating all the time but sad? I don’t feel sad.

“You know I think what looks like sad is really just this heavy feeling. Ever since I was little when I’d hear about injustice I would get really anxious. I remember the first time I heard about slavery I felt like I was going to throw up. I couldn’t imagine what that was like and I felt heavy with the injustice. As I grew up I started to think something was wrong with me because any time I heard of a little unfairness happening it always affected me way more than my friends. This isn’t to say it didn’t anger them or make them feel sad it’s just to say I couldn’t shake it. In my teenage years I would try to push it down because when you’re a teenager you’re nothing if not completely irrational. So I put on this mask of not caring. Not caring about me and not caring about the world around me when in reality I felt a deep pulling sensation in my gut whenever I felt one thing but acted a different way. Now I’ve gotten to a point where I realize God made me this way for a reason. If I’m feeling particularly devastated about something I believe it’s because there’s something I can do to help the problem. I can’t fix it, I’m just one person, but I can help. And so I do. I do everything I possibly can to just do something. Sure enough, the darkness of the injustice starts to dissipate when I act. So I guess during Wine to Water some of the darkness is always at the surface. I think about the men and women I want to help with this event and I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to help more and more of them. It’s the only way I know to chase out the darkness.”

I really believe that’s what it comes down to. If we as humans started acting on what leaves our souls restless-the results are almost unimaginable. Maybe for you it’s orphan care or education or the broken prison system. Whatever it is I think if we started acting instead of hiding the world would know us by our love.

Perhaps that’s what I want my kids to know about me the most. I am an extremely flawed person. I’ve made some really terrible mistakes and will undoubtedly make more (though different ones) in the future. But I hope they know me by my love. I hope they know that even if I messed up along the way, I tried my hardest to act kindly to love fiercely and to chase out the darkness with a little bit of light.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again-it’s why I got “expecto patronum” tattooed on my body. It’s why you’ll be inundated with posts about Wine to Water this week ( look for a special art auction on Wednesday!). Because every one of us has a light, let’s do something today that brings it out. Love you guys.

images

October

I’m not quite sure how it is October already. Here in the great midwest the temps are still in the 80s and the ground is so brittle it breaks beneath my footsteps. It’s unlike any October I can remember and so it just surprised me the other day when a participant in one of my classes wished me a happy October.

October means a lot of things around here, but mostly (for me at least) it means planning Wine to Water. It’s the 5th year this event is happening which boggles the mind. I think because it’s taken up such a big place in my heart the last 5 years I’ve become quite reflective this year in particular.

Truth be told I considered not doing it this year. It takes a lot of energy to get it up and going and even though I have all of the contacts who more or less agree to whatever I ask, I hate asking people for things. I mean hot, hot hatred hate. Even though I believe so strongly, more strongly than ever in what we’re doing-it’s just not in my comfort zone.

But lately I’ve been really thinking about things like poverty, orphan care, jobs and the like. I’ve actually read some really great stuff on those subjects too.

Kristen Howerton talked about it in her blog, “How the Christian orphan care movement may be enabling child abandonment.”

I really think that Christians need to be more vocal about the way we are approaching orphan care, so that we are not doing harm. We need to stop setting up ministries that encourage desperate parents to relinquish their children, and funnel our resources into programs that support families.

And Jen Hatmaker wrote The Truth About Adoption: Two Years Later and explains how orphan care becomes a huge narrative after 2 years.

We need not shy away from these hard conversation, because they can only make adoption stronger, first families better, second families healthier. The more we know, the more we are responsible for, and it is a privilege that God has invited us into the story of orphan care. We are a committed, resilient bunch, I’ll tell you. We love one another and love each others children, and I am grateful to the core that this is my tribe.

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary had a guest post, Would Jesus be cool with keeping poor kids in orphanages?

All over the world we are confusing poverty for families not loving their children In Haiti, in Cambodia, in Kenya, in Brazil, in Honduras. I’ve spoken to folks working on the ground in all of these countries and the common experience is that not enough is being done to help poor families keep their children.

Perhaps to the outsider orphan care and Wine to Water have little to do with each other. But or me, they are inexplicably entwined.

The more I research orphan care the more I am sure poverty cannot be a reason children are relinquished to orphanages. It says so many horrible things about our world that parents are having to surrender their children because we would rather spend money on adopting their children than supporting their intact families. I say this knowing I’ve been a part of this in large and small ways, I am not blameless by any means. But now that I know better, I’m doing better.

In January I got to go to Haiti to witness The Adventure Project in action. You can read my posts here, here and here. I really believe their model of job creation works and is one of the best models at fixing so much of what ails us as a global community.

So we’re doing it. We’re gearing up for Wine to Water 2013 because it needs to begin with me (as Glennon Melton so eloquently wrote).

We’re doing our best to create jobs, eliminate poverty, keep families intact, provide clean water, give kids shoes, send kids to school and empower people around the world. We’re doing it all by creating well mechanic jobs in Uganda.

November 16th in Davenport, Iowa. We would love to see you and, as always, there is plenty of space to stay for free here at camp. If you’re not able to make it but would like to donate-email me at tesileagh@gmail.com. You know a phenomenal artist who would want to become involved by donating a piece of their art? Contact me.

I love this life. I really, really do. The least I can do with this incredible life of mine is work my butt off to provide a glimpse of it to others. Join me?

If I had a million dollars…

My kids often say things like, “If I had a million dollars I would…” and the things they say range from really sweet to totally ridiculous. But Tomas? Tomas always says, “If I had a million dollars I would give clean water to the whole world.”

I don’t have a million dollars and I’m guessing most of you don’t either, but that has never stopped me from believing that we as people can rise up and provide clean water to the whole world.

The further I’ve gone on my research into the clean water crisis the closer I’ve come to the realization that the solution is in the people. The people who are affected by dirty water are the ones who will have the most invested in keeping that water clean. I can ask you to donate $20 every day for the rest of my life and I still know you will never care as much as the person watching her child get sick from the water.

Which is why I believe The Adventure Project has the solution figured out. 1/3 of the wells built in the world are broken, what if instead of building more wells we create jobs that will fix them as they break down. Thus creating less need for wells (read: direct resources from outside the country) but continuing the source of income for that entrepreneur. You don’t believe this is a great solution? Watch what Diana from Uganda has to say about it.

The first $2500 raised will be matched by One Days Wages. I love knowing every dollar I donate is immediately doubled. Doubled dollars means doubled impact.

Go here and donate whatever you can. And go now, if you’re like me you’ll forget as soon as you go grab another cup of coffee.

I think sometimes we believe we could do so much more if we had more money, more time, more resources, a foot that’s not broken, etc and what we fail to notice is that we can already do so much with the (sometimes little) money we have and with the time we are given.

Whenever Tomas says he’d give the world clean water with a million dollars I tell him, “Don’t worry about waiting until you’re a millionaire, just set your sights on giving 1 person clean water and then work your way up.”

So that’s what I’m going to do. Join me.

The Concrete Jungle

I have ridiculously generous parents. By “parents” I am, of course, referring both to my biological parents and my in-laws-I very rarely differentiate.

My sister-in-law, Kait, has lived in Brooklyn for close to a year now and since I love her so much, I’ve been wanting to check in on her. She also started interning for one of my favorite non-profits, The Adventure Project, and had been working tirelessly on their annual Gala.

Much to my surprise, my in-laws were paying attention and (after singing Happy Birthday 2 months early) announced they were sending me to New York to visit Kait and to go to TAP’s gala. Did I cry? Yes. Are they amazing? Yes.

Related note: My husband is also amazing. Even though camp season is gearing up and he’s getting busier and busier he encouraged this stay-at-home mama to jet off to the Big Apple while he held down the fort with our 5 children, 4 pets AND THE 2 GREAT DANES WE ARE DOG SITTING FOR MY PARENTS. Sainthood-he deserves nothing less.

My time in NYC was spent doing very non-touristy stuff-which I loved. (Though I did say hi to this beautiful lady as I was taxi-ing to Kait’s restaurant).

IMG_6178

Saturday we went to a new bar near her place that was really cool. I watched as she got hit on by multiple men wearing the same size jeans I do.

IMG_6186

 

And we celebrated my being in NYC (and out past 10!) with a glass of my favorite whiskey.

IMG_6190

Sunday was really crappy weather but we managed to walk around Brooklyn and visit flea markets, second hand shops, etc. We also caught a comedy show that night (Kait is seriously way cooler than virtually everyone I know. She hosts a comedy show out there and also co-runs this hip-hop blog with a friend of hers.) and I tried a few different Brooklyn lagers.

IMG_6195

 

Monday was the day of The Adventure Project Gala. I have this weird compulsion that I want to be helpful if there’s an opportunity for it. So Kait and I got to the TAP offices at about 9am. From then until 6:30pm when the event started we were helping set up and whatever else. I met some really great people during those hours-those who work for TAP and those who work for partnering organizations as well as other volunteers like myself. Then the gala started and I proceeded to enjoy the free cocktails and time socializing.

293756_640324842647633_1064544619_n

I also caught up with a few women who I traveled with to Haiti, which was so fun.

252313_640308135982637_1778638396_n

After the gala we helped pack everything up and take it back to the TAP offices. Then Kait and her friends decided they were hungry and one really wanted Korean food. All this resulted in me being up until 4am. Yikes. But Kait’s friends are as amazing as she is, so it was so enjoyable to be around them and share that part of her life with her.

581934_10100466461649111_1091877181_n

 

After not enough sleep, Tuesday was our day to finish stuff up at TAP and then explore the city. First we walked around the Highline, which was absolutely amazing.

IMG_6209

 

IMG_6225

 

IMG_6228

 

Walked through a Chelsea flea market where I found a coat that I’ve been dreaming about and lusting after since. I mean, seriously. SOMEONE MAKE THIS FOR ME!

IMG_6213

 

After a few days in the concrete jungle I had a serious hankering for earth. I get that I’m a bit of a hippie but I had no idea just how much until I hadn’t been able to touch the actual earth. You know, put my hands in some dirt, feet in grass, etc. So off we went to Central Park. We played frisbee with one of Kait’s friends and I did a bit of yoga. But mostly, just enjoyed the sights.

IMG_6222

 

IMG_6224

 

IMG_6226

 

We ended the night at a restaurant where we talked about things ranging from comedy to racism. One of my favorite things about Kait is she chooses friends who challenge her and encourage her to continue growing as a human. Love that.

Travel back home was complicated (seriously, I would love just 1 time of normal flights) but the end result was that I was home with my family.

The next day at home was spent teaching my classes and going to the kids’s school where they were all awarded various things. All day I was struck by the realization that I am so infinitely blessed to be able to experience NYC with one of my favorite people in the entire world and then to come home and experience life with my other favorite people-all in the span of a week.

What a lucky lady I am.