Posted in community

Community Mondays: S.T.A.C.K Zion

Back in November of 2017, I was working as a startup editor to help a friend with launching her magazine. I dipped into writing from time to time because I do enjoy writing articles and doing interviews. I was thinking about who I could share with you this week and I thought of S.T.A.C.K. Zion. Since doing this interview below (which was first published in the November 2017 issue of Heart to Heart magazine), Michael has been in a play and has done some pretty great events.

Always a man after God’s heart, always honest and caring, he’s one of my and my daughter’s favorite rappers. (I’ll introduce you to our other favorite – Zabbai – next week to round off the Christian Rap segment before moving onto highlights of some other folks who are doing community work in other creative areas.) Michael’s lyrics are raw and tell stories that some of us can really relate to on a pretty deep level.

Before you read the interview from 2017, check out this video:



If you have been following hip hop in Connecticut, you have certainly come across S.T.A.C.K. Zion. And if you have, he has probably shocked you! Michael Stackhouse towers over you, yet speaks with a soft voice and possesses a humble nature. BUT WHEN HE RAPS… forget it. That voice comes through powerfully and with the confidence of a seasoned rapper. True to his mission of Seeking To Arm Christ’s Kingdom, S.T.A.C.K. Zion is doing great things in the Kingdom. In August, S.T.A.C.K released to his Zioneers and future Zioneers the long-awaited Project Z. And we love it! Let’s hear from him in this interview we had the chance to do with him recently.

Heart to Heart: You put a lot of work into this album, which is clear from the quality. From the beats to the lyrics to the collaborations with other artists, the album equips folks and motivates them to go deeper with God, whether that means accepting Him for the first time or becoming more involved in what He is trying to do in their lives. What song was your favorite song to record? And why?

S.T.A.C.K. Zion: What’s good, Shellz? Thanks for having me. My favorite song to record has to be “Disrespectful” because it was the first time that I had other Christian rap artists who are my Brothers in Christ on a track with me. We had a blast! Everything was just so very cohesive. If folks haven’t seen it, the video is up on YouTube if you search for “Disrespectful, StackZion”.

Heart to Heart: Great song Michael! I really enjoyed that one when you all shared it at an event I attended earlier this year. The energy was definitely high and you all vibed off one another so well! What would you say was the most difficult part of the writing and recording process for you?

S.T.A.C.K. Zion: The most difficult part of the writing and recording was not so much the actions themselves, but the constant wonder of whether the project would finally be complete and–most importantly–if it would be effective. Those were really my only concerns. But this project has definitely taught me the value of Quality, Patience, and Fortitude.

Heart to Heart: Great lessons to learn for sure! It sounds like an intense process. You waited for the Lord and let Him lead in this project, which resulted in a powerful album that addresses some topics the church sometimes likes to avoid. Specifically, you address the battle with sin when the battle is with “the enemy you like”. Many men and women struggle with lust in this age where pornography is so readily available. What advice would you offer to folks who are trying to walk the Kingdom life while struggling with lustful thoughts?

S.T.A.C.K. Zion: My advice would be to Fight for your life. Generally, in the sense of doing everything you can to overcome whatever you are contending against. We war not against flesh and blood, but with principality and powers of an unseen world that is spiritual (Eph 6:12). The spiritual realm has been around long before we came and our enemies are ancient. I would say the first step would be to confess what you are fighting with others who can pray and hold you accountable as well as to read Scriptures in spiritual warfare. Most importantly, just to stay close to the Lord Jesus. We’ll never be perfect, but we serve a perfect God who gives grace. Deliverance has to be a two-way street. To put it simply: it’s like having a relationship with someone who you love, but your ex is still working hard to get you back. Stick close to the Lord!

Heart to Heart: That analogy is fire! In “The Process”, you talk about how God designs folks to be who they are. You share the things the devil says to us to keep us down and how Jesus triumphs those statements and eradicates them. You talk about the process you had to experience. In the process of being a man who loves God, speaks out for Him boldly, and is doing his thing in the music industry, what words would you impart to those who feel called to the arts, specifically the music industry?

S.T.A.C.K. Zion: The words I impart to those who desire to express creativity in song for the Kingdom are:

  1. ALWAYS keep the Lord Christ first in your vision. Make sure He has the content, substance, and motives of your heart.
  2. Stay true to yourself. People will not get the full authentication of who you are unless you register with your own signature.
  3. Tell the truth. You will not be able to influence anyone if they can’t relate to where you’ve been.

Heart to Heart: You are involved in the community and building up other men. What do you feel is most rewarding about seeing other men grasp hold of the gospel and begin to grow?

S.T.A.C.K. Zion: Yes. I’m simply a doorkeeper for a men’s fellowship called Godhood Vs Manhood (GVM), Where All Men to come together without denomination to come share what it truly is to be a man in the Kingdom of God. Facing struggles at the work place, in the street, or even in ministry. We cover every topic, no holds barred. We help, encourage, and build each other up, and from it, it always is a reward just to know another man walked away wanting to return wanting more of what OTHER men were offering from similar experiences, causing us to form bonds that the Lord ultimately benefits from. Also for the younger men who attend who walk away empowered, knowing who they are more confidently.

Heart to Heart: Having accountability and a group of strong men to raise you up and pray for you is important to Kingdom Living. I notice you run with a group of folks you are tight with who have similar interests. How did you all meet and what would you say to other young men out there looking to establish a strong group of men to grow with?

S.T.A.C.K. Zion: To first make sure the Lord assists you in your Divine connections. We tend to click with the wrong people based on who we are, when it should be the total opposite. At time the Lord will put you around people who are the total opposite of who you think brings the best out of you. How I met my brothers and sisters in arms was through a youth meeting that was put together by the youth of different ministries and churches and from there we began unlocking gifts in one another, imparting gifts, prophesying, and praying. From there many, many strong bonds were formed and before you knew it, God begin to reveal purpose through those He would use. It was never forced it was more like a gradual transition. Not saying it will be the same for everyone, but the Lord will surely direct your steps.

Heat to Heart: This is a great perspective! I imagine many readers will stop and reflect upon that one. While we all know opposites attract, we seldom think to ask God to connect us with folks who challenge and grow us because they think, look, or act differently. You are so right that we tend to gravitate to what we know. That said… I know that I LOVE listening to Project Z and am so happy to finally have the final album on my phone and in my car! I appreciate all the work you put into it. I would not be able to end this interview in true Shell style without asking you this last question: Where can we come out and support you in November and December?

S.T.A.C.K. Zion: Lol. Well the dates are to be announced soon with a few surprises for Nov and Dec. Considering that these dates might change, please follow my artist page on FaceBook (StackZion) or my personal profile: (Michael L Stackhouse). I’m also on IG as StackZion.

Heart to Heart: With that last answer, I’ve determined I will be keeping a light calendar this month and next so I’m ready for those surprises! Lol Thanks for taking this time with us Michael. You are demonstrating to all of us what it means to walk in your calling while also enduring the process you must go through to get to the place of doing it full time. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future!!

S.T.A.C.K. Zion: You too, Shellz. And thank you.


Posted in community, Party / Get Together Ideas, Relationships

How to Organize A Memorable Game Night: Guests, Games, & Grub

Warning: This post contains a one-stop-location for how to host an memorable game night. As such, it is long and will not be read thoroughly in a five-minute sitting. HOWEVER, it is your lucky day and you only need to skim each section – Guests, Games, Grub – to get the information you need to ensure your next game night is a blast!

Want the “Shell Notes” Version of this Post?

  • Guests: Think outside of your normal crowd
    • Mix your “circles” together and provide opportunity for the different people you interact with to get to know each other.
    • Selection 6-10 people for a memorable night. More than 16 becomes overwhelming, even if you play a team game.
  • Games: Be creative and fun
    • Know your motive: Do you want to have fun, learn about your friends, or just spend time with others? Select your game accordingly.
    • Have players create new rules for old games to make things more fun.
  • Grub: Offer easy-to-eat, no fuss food
    • Know your budget and stick to it.
    • Finger foods are the best always – but if you want to provide more:
    • In the summer, BBQs are great and you can ask guests to bring food too.
    • In the winter, comfort food like Baked Ziti and Mac & Cheese can win.
    • Do potluck style meals for larger crowds.
    • Always offer at least beverages and something to snack on.

Game Night!

we have game night

I admit it: I am a game board junkie and someone who likes to see others have a great time. When you combine those traits, Game Nights are the perfect answer to ensuring I can enjoy an evening with friends without feeling overwhelmed by having a group to interact with. I used to host Game Nights almost every Friday at my house because it was so fun for my daughter and friends. One day soon I will get into that habit again, but first cheer season, plays, and all the other stuff that comes with having tweens. Here are my tips for a great a Game Night with your friends and family members.


Every awesome and memorable game night comprises 6 – 10 people with various personalities. I like to ensure I have a nice array of friends so I can laugh so hard I cry. Have you ever mixed your intellectual, Einsteinesque friends with your party-loving, dry humor, night-on-the-town buddies? Oh, talk about fun! Mixing up personalities is especially great if you are going to play the games suggested in Most Fun, Outrageous, and Informative Games as they require mixed personality types to achieve best results. It is best to have a mix of ages, backgrounds, and personality types, as well as to ensure you mix people from various social circles. Get your coworkers, PTA crowd, and church friends together with your night-out and book club friends. Needless to say, some will respect you more and others may respect you less, but it is all in the name of fun. (Besides, those who respect you less are just upset that you have better gaming skills. It is them, not you.)


Most Fun, Outrageous, and Informative Games

Want to have the BEST game night ever? Want to learn totally random facts about your guests? Have you always wondered what words or people your friends associate with certain characteristics or adjectives? Then choose from one of these games, which are sure to have you out of your seat, moving around, and perhaps even testing the boundaries of your bladder at times. I have truly laughed until I cried playing these games and love the results no matter what the personality mix of my guests.


Dicecapades, where were you during my high school years? This game is much like Quelf with its totally insane challenges, except they are not as spontaneous and outrageous. In Dicecapades, others know that you are about to get up from the table and run in and out of six rooms in the house, or that you are about to stack five dice in your hand while singing “America the Beautiful.” They are encouraging you as you do push ups, sit ups, and jumping jacks. The kids get a kick out of watching the adults do silly stunts while learning a value lesson in being a free spirit and letting go of inhibition. Think you are strong? You will have a chance to show it when you arm wrestle some a specific number of times in Action Land. Think you are smart? You will have a chance to show it in Triviaville by answering random questions. Think you know your gas companies? Prove it when you get to Thinking Town and have to roll the dice and name that many gas companies.


I have never laughed so hard as when I played Quelf for the first time. I cried when one friend was trying to make her face pouty so she could mumble the words of her favorite Christmas carol. Was it funny because of the effort to stop smiling? Or was it that as she did this, I had to sit with my arms and legs straight since it wasn’t my turn? Or was it that another player had his hand sitting in a bowl of water while he waited for his turn? I will never know, but I do know that I look forward to playing this game each time I play it. I’ve played it with church youth groups, out of control young adults, and middle-aged professionals – not once have we not all laughed and had a great time.

This game is so fun and so silly that I cannot imagine the creators are adults. If they are adults, I do not know how they could create these challenges without the use of some form of substance or lack of sleep. At one point in the game, I had to present as a lipless, toothless, rapping prison guard who had been tarred and feathered by the inmates. Oh, and did I mention that for each of these challenges, we weren’t allowed to tell one another what we were doing beforehand…just had to get up from our seats and do what it said. No warning. No idea what was about to come at us. Just rise and perform. And if anyone was curious why we did what we just did…penalty fee for being nosy – or bonus for being inquisitive! Amazing, fun, and creative game that is great for anyone from children through adults.

Warning: Before engaging in Quelf, ensure no cameras or cell phones are in arm’s reach of any player. This game can produce plenty of blackmail material you do not want to show up on Instagram or SnapChat.


Balderdash is one of my favorite games. With the right crowd, I can laugh all night. I have been shocked, disappointed, and outright flabbergasted by some of the responses I have heard while playing this game. Suddenly the shy, quiet kids are making the louder people laugh like a comedian was in the house.

In this game, one player reads a word from a card. Then all players write their best definition for the word, trying to think of what others will believe is the correct definition. All along, the player who read the card is writing down the right definition and will then read all of them aloud. Players will vote on which definition they think is correct, and the owner of each definition gets to move forward one space for each vote.

Can you guess the correct definition of “Flumadiddle” or “Wuhlah”? We sure had a blast trying on New Year’s Eve 2011!

would you rather

Would You Rather wear high heels every day for a month or wear only socks every day for a year? Would you rather be stuck on an island with your mother in law or someone from a religion you dislike? In this game, players choose between two scenarios by writing down their selection and handing it to the current player. The current player must then guess which answer belongs to others.

The game can get pretty interesting if you have the right crowd, as players will begin to realize that sometimes it is fun to throw out what you don’t think others will guess for you. When you start to throw out bogus answers, it becomes funnier because you learn who is surprised and who truly knows you.


Apples to Apples and Sour Apples to Apples are wonderful games to get a crowd talking. This is a great game to play before Quelf or Dicecapades because it helps players to loosen up and get to know one another. Some are boring and play the game as it is intended…throwing out the right cards at the right times. Others love to mess up the judge’s thought process by throwing out cards that the judge will think belong to others! Why is this important? The point of Apples to Apples is for the judge to pick a card with an adjective and then judge which player responded with the best answer. For example, the judge throws out “Lovely” and the players respond with the card in their hand they believe the judge would find to define that word. It gets fun when players start throwing out random cards, such as “Stinky Socks” in response to “Lovely”. In Sour Apples to Apples, the person throwing out this card would have to spin the apple for having the worst response! Be careful, as spinning the apple can have some negative consequences.

Runners Up

Not ready to get up and moving, but still want some good laughs? These games provide a nice mix of learning about others, showing off your talents, and having fun. They are great games that produce a fun game night for everyone without being to active. They are also great games to play with children if you use teams.


My favorite game of all times: Uno. House rules make this game fun for the entire crowd. Have all your guests write down their favorite house rules and mix them in a hat. Pick out three rules to apply to each game. Let the fun begin!

Some Fun Uno House Rules

  • If you play a wild, a person wearing the color you choose may select to trade hands with you.
  • Anytime a 7 is played, all players switch hands with the person to their right.
  • Anytime a 0 is played, all players switch hands with the person on their left.
  • If you play a skip card, the person who is skipped may decide to trade hands with any player.
  • If you forget to call Uno, you must trade hands with the person with the most cards.
  • If you win, you get to wear a crown or tiara for the next hand.

Some of the Variations of Uno

  • Giant Uno – These cards are so big you can’t help but have fun with others through the laughter of trying to hold them in your hands!
  • Uno Wild Jackpot – A little twist on slots and cards… a full deck of cards AND a slot machine make this one fun for the whole family.
  • Uno Deluxe – Regular Uno with a wipe off scorecard on the box.
  • Uno Attack – This battery-operated version of Uno surprises players by randomly spitting out (or neglecting to spit out) cards when a button is pushed. Will you get no cards, a few cards, or a whole lot of cards? Be careful to not get the press twice card!
  • Uno Spin – This version comes with a spinner that determines which actions you will take. Watch out, you may have to switch hands with other players.
  • Uno Flip – How good is your aim? In this version, you get to catapult your “flip” guy across to someone else’s mat. If your aim is good, you get to give away some of your cards. If it isn’t, you will be the proud new owner of one of theirs.
  • Uno Tippo – Do you have a steady hand? How good are you at remembering how many cards have been played? In this version, you have two stacks to choose between, but choose wisely. If you make the scales tip the game is over.
  • Uno Reflex – This version comes with a machine you must press after each turn. Are you fast enough to react? After you press the button, the machine may show a color. If it does, the last person to place down a card of that color pays a penalty.
  • Uno Roboto – Oh what fun it is to make your guests do crazy stunts! How much more fun is it to do it while your voice is disguised as a robot? This is your chance to finally become R2D2 and sound cool. Fun for the entire family, this game allows you to create house rules and record them in a robotic voice. The robot randomly issues instructions, including determining whose turn it is, telling players to trade hands, or enacting house rules.
  • Uno Flash – Let’s talk about Uno not being a quick game! This game once took more than 2 hours because the electronic flasher determines whose turn it is next…and sometimes it is yours again! Never think you are ready to go out because you could be the one faced with acting upon the previous players Draw Four despite being six seats away.

Faithful Stand Bys

Scrabble, Nab It, and Scrabble Flash variations, provide for a faithful and true game night in which you get to impress your friends with your high school vocabulary, street language, and ability to convince everyone that AESTS is a word (remember it was on the latest episode of CSI when they were about to catch the criminal thanks to the wonderful discovery of AESTS in the person’s hair?).

Game of Things, Boggle, Scattergories, TriBond, Clue, Mad Gab, Cranium, and Scene It can also make for a fun night depending upon the crowd and their level of engagement with the games. Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture is great for a mixed ages crowd and can provide hours of fun and help everyone realize that you have a crowd of know-it-alls who know less about pop culture than they let on.

game night grub


For me, the menu is one of the best parts of game night because I love to cook and entertain. I usually serve a main dish and a few appetizers / finger foods so we are all well fed throughout the night. This keeps the games fun and entertaining, the kids fed (if you are having a game night with adults and children), and the games going until everyone is exhausted from all the great times instead of hungry or grouchy.

For main dishes, I used to make a Baked Ziti, Chili (recipes 1, 2, 3), Baked Macaroni & Cheese, Meatballs (served with grinder rolls), homemade pizzas, or various sandwiches, depending upon the eating needs of the guests. I would then complement the main dish with veggie and fruit platters, a cheese tray, and some desserts. With today’s varying dietary needs, I usually just do finger foods now and ask everyone to bring a dish they enjoy so we can all try something new from the various styles of eating.

Taco bars are wonderful for mixed games nights with adults and children (also known as family game nights to some), varying dietary concerns, and a lower budget. Guests can use lettuce leaves or bowls if they don’t eat carbs, use just the toppings if they don’t eat meat, and make their own little salad if they don’t like tacos (but really, who doesn’t like tacos?). Cook all your meat (or meat substitute) ahead of time – ensuring it is cooked thoroughly. Prep the lettuce (both chopped and leaves for taco shells), cabbage, tomato, cilantro, onions, peppers, sour cream, Fritos, and other fun toppings during the day and store in the fridge. When guests arrive, warm the meat on the stove, and set out the various toppings. Open the bar for service and allow everyone to create his or her own tacos while preparing for a night of fun, laughter, and sometimes tears. The kids love the taco bar and adults enjoy seeing happy kids. This post shares some great taco recipes as well as some essential oils that are a wonderful complement to taco night.

If you are working on a budget, as each person to bring their favorite dish so you can have a potluck and sample foods others enjoy. Whatever your budget, the key to a good food arrangement is to have both a sustainable meal and snack foods for throughout the night. If you choose not to serve dinner, notify your guests ahead of time so they may choose to eat a full meal prior to coming. No one likes to think the invite includes a meal only to find out dinner will be Doritos and soda.

Success! Remember the Formula


The main ingredient to a successful game night is relaxation. Do not worry about whether you invited the right people, chose the right games, or served the right food. Instead focus on winning…er, having fun. Enjoy the company you have and laugh until you cry as you play fun and silly games with old and new friends.

Have some secrets of your own for hosting a fun and exciting game night? Share your tips on guests, games, and grub below to help us all make our games nights more successful and memorable.






Posted in community, Music, Sharing Creative Works

Community Monday: Young Nation Live LLC


I really enjoy food. Especially a great looking dish that tastes good too. Tonight, I was looking through my Premium collections of pics from PicJumbo and came food photos that looked amazing and delicious. As I came across a certain one, I realized how creatives can process images much differently than those who aren’t creative, and Christian creatives can pretty much see a masterpiece within a paint smudge! I came across this picture of bread and suddenly I realized, “I haven’t written a community blog on Mondays in a few weeks, maybe longer. I should write one. But what will I write about?” I noticed you guys weren’t really into me asking questions nor were you into sharing about the blogs you are reading, so what else is there to do that involves Community?

I kept looking through pictures and then… I got it!


Today I am going to start a series sharing various creatives I know and enjoy so you can learn about them and perhaps find new blogs, musicians, authors, and other types of creatives you haven’t heard about already. So with that all noted… let’s jump in!

Meet Young Nation Live LLC: Tim Allen and Gabriel Martinez

I first met Tim Allen a little more than three years ago at the New London Talent Show auditions. He came out and performed a message filled with so much encouragement and life that I was curious of his backstory. I learned that he’d previously been with the show and was a local DJ, entrepreneur, and rap artist who went by the name of Tallent. As time went on, I would see him and his wife around and we got to know one another, especially after he launched the M.O.R.E. Family Breakfasts that I attended with my youngest daughter. I’ve interview Tim in the past for other publications and really enjoyed getting to know him. He is an insightful leader, committed evangelist, and true lover of Christ who believes in being like Jesus and loving on others. In the time I’ve known him, I’ve seen that he is the type of Christian I enjoy being around because the level of authenticity is 100 and there’s a deep desire to learn more and help others achieve their best.

I met Gabriel when he began attending the M.O.R.E. Family Breakfasts. He shared a spoken word that really gripped me and left me wanting him to share more. He shared his story and I quickly realized this young man would be rising to become a great leader. I don’t know Gabe as well as I know Tim but I can tell you that from day one of meeting him, I’ve felt like his family. Each time he or his wife sees me, they welcome me like I’m a cousin they love. He and his beautiful wife made quite the impression on my youngest daughter during the filming of Young Nation Live’s first video. She was so excited to have been invited to see the process live and loved how they allowed her to help cook and talked with her while hanging out after the shoot was complete.

Let’s look at some of the things Young Nation Live, LLC is doing for and in the community.

They share Bible Studies and insight on Instagram and FaceBook.

Let’s start here since this is why the picture of bread made me think of them. In John 6:35, Jesus declared Himself the “Bread of Life” (NIV). So whenever I see bread, I think of Jesus and communion. From communion, I venture on to think about friendships and people who are impacting the world for the better. I have a great mix of friends but many of them are Christian entrepreneurs and artists, so I usually start to think about them and what they are doing to help people truly learn about Jesus. There’s so much garbage out there today – mixes of watered-down Christianity and hell, fire, and brimstone – but neither helps the average human. Instead, what helps the average human is hearing the Bible taught and interpreted, seeing it lived out, and being able to reconcile the two. Both Tim and Gabe have figured out how to do that.

Here’s an example of their Instagram videos.

View this post on Instagram

“Friday Nation Live “ #reflections 🤔📖🙏

A post shared by Young Nation Live LLC (@youngnationlivellc) on

The Bible Studies are filled with knowledge shared and some fun times. The few times I have been able to catch it live, I’ve laughed and cried and praised all within the time we were on! I enjoy the way they teach as well as how they are honest about what they know and don’t know. Their interaction is fluid and fun.

They also share the Bible Studies to the following groups on FaceBook:

Young Nation Under God This Public group is for Tim (Tallent) and Gabe (Gabriel) to share the love of God with all who desire to join. Here you will see their weekly Bible Studies, events around the area (both ones that they will be featured within and ones that they support), and the latest news about their music and those whom they are helping. Since it is a Public group, you should be able to view the contents when you are logged into FaceBook and click on the link.

M.O.R.E. Family This Public group is for all supporters of the breakfast who want to go deeper with community. There are various posts from super conservative through more liberal in nature (speaking strictly on a Christian scale, not political). Some folks share church services, music videos, prayer requests, thoughts, update on the breakfasts, etc. Since it is public, if you sign into FaceBook you should be able to view it prior to requesting to join.

They write, engineer, and produce music.

You can listen to their album here or watch their videos at their YouTube channel. Their music has life-giving lyrics and enticing beats that get you hooked pretty quickly. Their style together and how they feed off one another is a joy to watch in the video (and when they are live). Subscribe to their YouTube channel so you can be alerted when they post new videos. Then head on over to their website to stream the album.

In addition to doing their own music, they are helping others. Tim has worked with several students during summer programs and in his free time to show them how to produce and record songs. As the two team together, I expect we will see some wonderful music start to pop up from their artists.

The video below links to their YouTube channel as does the link at the end of this post (included with other social media options).


They serve together on a breakfast ministry for the community.

Tim founded a breakfast ministry (M.O.R.E. Family Ministry) that just celebrated two years running. Gabriel came alongside him before Young Nation Live LLC was formed and started helping behind the scenes and with the order of activities. It’s been encouraging to see how the two came together and how Gabe just filled in right where it complemented Tim’s already inspiring leadership skills.

The community breakfasts have occurred once a month for the past two years and bring together folks from all denominations and backgrounds, including non-believers who want to learn more about God in a safe environment. Each breakfast includes a homemade breakfast made onsite, live music and/or spoken word poetry, a short testimony from someone who walks with the Lord currently, and a short message from Tim or another trusted and vetted minister of the Gospel. The messages have come from pastors and community members who follow Christ but don’t officially serve in a “position” of minister but are ministers due to their position with Christ as co-heirs of the throne! Tim and his team have done a phenomenal job providing this FREE breakfast and all who have attended are sure to be thankful to them all.

bread of life

Young Nation Live LLC is helping the community come together through music and food – both for the soul and for the belly. Start communicating and engaging with them today through their social media channels!






Posted in community, Creativity, DIY, Gifts, Sharing Creative Works

Community Monday: “Year of Memories” Quilt (Creative Gift Idea)

Best Birthday Gift EVER!

Do you see that smile? What you don’t see are all the tears I am crying behind the camera. What looks like a quilt given to a little girl is actually a community project that my daughter, my Nana, and I created together when my daughter and I lived in Florida.

Each month, my daughter and I would pack our bags and three hours South to visit my Nana and enjoy time with her. In 2015, we decided to start making a quilt together to share a memory of our time and learn my Nana’s favorite hobby. It was so much fun venturing out to fabric shops and big box stores to find fabric and elements to include on each month’s creation. One of us would create the design. Another would execute it by placing each of the items on the square. And my Nana would sew them to the square and put them away for safe keeping.

Well, life happens and in October 2015 we had to move home to CT without warning. We left within a week of learning we had to leave there wasn’t a lot of time to wrap up three months of squares to go ahead and finish the quilt. The squares sat and my daughter and I have been sad that we didn’t keep our commitment that we said to one another about making some squares to surprise Nana and then send them to her. (I bought all the materials and we let them sit aside due to life changing so drastically from what we had in Florida.)

So you can imagine our shock when she opened her birthday present this past week and found the following quilt!


Let’s zoom in closer and take a look at each of the nine months and how we represented them.


January is not winter in Florida when you come from New England, but we thought since it was winter back home it would be fun to do Olaf and represent Winter in New England and our thankfulness for NOT BEING THERE to enjoy it! We were loving our flip flip flops and sandals, and that we could still go swimming all year long down in Florida. Though the temperatures did drop a few times, we loved that we didn’t have to shovel A SINGLE TIME!



February is my daughter’s birthday so we designed a cake with colorful layers to represent her personality.



In March, we designed this one around the expression “April showers bring May flowers”. We also wanted to highlight that it is Autism Awareness Day, and we have two children on the spectrum within our family. My mind is a bit fuzzy, but I believe the two boys represented two little cousins with birthdays in April. While we created this in April, we already knew what we wanted to do for the next three months so we kind of cheated so we could include Mother’s Day and Father’s day. March itself doesn’t technically have a square.



In April, we created this flowers that would spring forth in May from the April showers. We wanted to have fun and show different types of flowers.



In May, we shared the various ways you could say “Mother” around the world.



In June, we represented the various ways we can celebrate Father’s Day.



For all of June, we had flown home to CT because I was hired to write a movie script and had to meet with the Producer and Author of the book the movie was going to be based upon. So we flew from Florida to CT, and had to skip our monthly visit with Nana. We didn’t come back until July 5th and that month went by so quickly that we didn’t get to fully design everything.


We spent most of our time in August swimming at the pool and visiting the beach, so this was only appropriate!



In September, we just enjoyed time with one another and had selected the following to assemble while we ran off to the beach. We’d decided we could put it together the next month and then…well, we had to move back to CT and never got to design it fully. Our idea was that God had brought us down there and given us the time together so we would show a cross to represent faith and the three girls to represent each of us. But we never talked about the background. I do love the simplicity though.


This was my daughter’s face as she Facetimed my Nana to tell her thank you for the best birthday gift ever!


Do you have a favorite gift ever or something you created the brings that memories of times together with loved ones? Tell us about it in the comments.