Help buy books for Wisdom Tree Home!


I’m running a book drive for Wisdom Tree Home in Chiang Mai, Thailand and would like to invite you to share in the blessing of donating!

You may have seen or heard something lately of my excitement about award-winning children’s publisher Usborne Books & More. One of the biggest things I’m passionate about and now have the opportunity to do as an Independent Consultant for the company is promoting literacy (worldwide!) by getting FREE books into the hands of children everywhere who are eager to listen, read, and learn.

I’ve teamed up with an old and dear friend of mine, Barbara Lapp (pictured above with her Kindergarten students), to run a book drive for this early learning center in Chiang Mai. As she says, “knowledge of the English language is an important skill to have in Southeast Asia, and [the school is] in need of good quality children’s literature to help advance students’ language and comprehension skills.” If you’re familiar with Usborne, you know that their books are the epitome of high-quality educational reading material!

Since Usborne generously matches 50% of donations through their “Literacy for a Lifetime” program, every dollar you donate will give us not just $1.00, but $1.50 to use for the purchase of some much-needed books to send to Thailand next month. The Wisdom Tree staff is so grateful for your donation of any amount. Can’t you just picture the smiles on these little faces when they see the beautiful brand-new books that have been handpicked just for them?

Make your donation by TONIGHT to be a part of this special gift!

Thoughts on Multi-Level Marketing


Pampered Chef, Young Living, Thirty-One, Plexus, Mary Kay, Tastefully Simple, Jamberry Nails…Ask anyone you meet what they think about these direct sales companies (also referred to as MLM (multi-level marketing) or referral marketing or network marketing or even “pyramid scheme” companies), and you’re likely to get either a strongly negative or decidedly positive response. Some people have no qualms about companies who embody this marketing strategy; others avoid them at all costs.

So far, though I’ve been tempted a time or two, I haven’t ever sold products for any of these companies myself.* However, I have lots of friends who have, and I am not opposed to buying from, attending, or even hosting their sales events, commonly referred to as “parties”, and here’s why.

Direct-sales “home businesses” are a great way for stay-at-home moms to earn an income and for other busy individuals to supplement their income with a side job. Money, much as I hate it, is pretty necessary to live in today’s world, and I’m all for enabling people (especially women) to be able to make a living AND raise their children in a healthy home setting or otherwise live out their core values.

Unfortunately, you’ve probably experienced or heard about a friend’s bad experience with MLM sales reps that are “too pushy.” I can’t say I’m exempt from this myself, and I do know how disappointing it can be when someone with whom we used to enjoy spending time becomes suffocatingly obsessed with “how you really should try X, Y, or Z” (the miracle product or cure they’re selling), or when the Facebook friend or blogger that used to post such interesting content now seems to only post about how great their company is.

However, I’ve often heard comments such as “I don’t want to be friends with so-and-so when they’re so interested in making money off of me.” Let me ask you this: do you like that all the other business establishments you support make money off of you? The big box retailers and fast food joints and convenience stores that invest their incomes in things that you would readily agree are morally wrong?

We all give money to these places at some point or another, even those of us who try to avoid it as much as we can. Tell me, then, what could possibly be so bad about making a purchase to support a friend or acquaintance who is trying to put food on her family’s table, or pay for college, or get out of debt? (Even IF you have to pay a little extra for it?!)

Unfortunately there have been people and there have been companies in general who have given some of these businesses a bad rap. But trust me, the people who choose to participate in this type of marketing are NOT all greedy, money-driven, pushy, and rude. (For that matter, even the companies themselves aren’t all created equal.) You don’t have to look very far to find sales reps who truly DO have your best interests at heart.

And that leads to another advantage I see in buying from these companies: the unprecedented personal customer service. When you have questions about use, need to reorder or replace a product, or just want to figure out how to get the most bang for your buck, the consultants are often immediately available and are more than happy to provide the satisfying, individualized customer service experience you most likely will never have in a large store or business establishment.

Another thing I often hear people ask is that “if the product is so great, why can’t they sell it in stores? Why do they have to get in your face to try to get you to buy it?” There’s certainly not a blanket answer to that question, and even if there were, I’m sure I wouldn’t have it. But personally, I can respect that there is more than one way to market products. You know what? Some of the big companies use much more maddening advertising tactics than these home party operations. You may not necessarily be as aware of how much the stores you frequent are tracking what you buy and when in order to figure out how to get you to buy more from them…but marketing is marketing and every single business does it.

When I receive an invitation to a product-themed event, I don’t automatically turn it down. It’s usually not too hard to gauge whether the hostess wants me to attend regardless of whether I plan to purchase anything, and if she does, then I will honor our friendship by attending. And if during the course of the presentation I discover something that could be quite useful or improve my life in some way, or serve as a thoughtful gift for someone I love, I will make that purchase without guilt. And if not, I will enjoy the socializing, thank the hostess for a good time, and leave–also without guilt. I choose to believe that this is all that my friends expect and want from me, and I hope you will do the same.

So for the time being, I’m happy to support the people in my life who are working hard to pursue their own unique versions of the good life. If that means purchasing an accessory or kitchen gadget from them instead of from Target, that seems like a win-win to me.

I don’t mean to open a can of worms here and I hope that you’ll feel my heart on this issue despite any injustice of description, but I would still love to hear your thoughts. What’s your take on MLM companies?



S i s t e r h o o d . . . possibly one of the most inherently good things I ever talk about here, at The Realization of Good. 🙂 It’s also probably one of the first, oldest things I’ve realized as good–beginning way back at the ripe old age of, let’s see, 3 years old–when the first of my sisters was born.

These ladies–Carli, Mindy, and Krista, from left to right–are the three most important females in my life. We have the same blood coursing through our veins. We were raised by the same parents and all lived under the same roof for nine years of our lives. We share DNA, which includes horrid eyebrows and sunburn-prone skin, but also green eyes and natural highlights. Additionally, we share an appreciation for the outdoors and the arts, a super quirky sense of humor, OCD tendencies, an obnoxiously loud laugh, an over-the-top enthusiasm for Settlers of Catan (and board games in general), and a love for little kids.

We have one brother. The five of us have been through a lot of life and drama and fun and fear and tears and joy and laughter together. We are tight. We stick up for each other. Every single one of us would fight to the death for one of the others. Let me tell you, life as one of five siblings is rich and full. Also loud. But we love it.

These kids have had to put up with a lot of bossing and unwarranted advice from their oldest sister…I’m a classic Type-A firstborn, and my sisters know that better than anyone. (When I read this to them, all three of them simultaneous yelled “yup” here.) But they also know my fiercely protective side, and I can be quite the mama bear when it comes to someone messing with these girls.

Through it all, we’ve bonded like only sisters can do. Each day, we cherish a little more the sisterhood we share. We get each other because first, in so many ways, yes, we are similar. Yet in our differences, there is much we are learning (and have yet to learn) from each other.

Krista is the kind and caring one. She inspires me on a daily basis with her unconditional love for every person she comes into contact with. Carli is the disciplined one. She gets up before dawn and gets stuff accomplished while the rest of us are asleep. Diligent is her middle name. Her heart is gold, and she makes people laugh. And Mindy? Well, for one thing, she stole all the athletic genes, at least among us girls. She’s the baby, but she’s the furthest thing from entitled, and she’s sometimes more responsible than the rest of us combined.

So much love. Just so much love in my heart for these women.

Photo credit to Beauté Photography | taken on my wedding day, May 2013

We’ve been separated too much of the time for too many different reasons over the last six years, but it’s only strengthened our bond and made us appreciate each other more. I don’t take the relationships I have with my siblings for granted. They are gifts straight from Heaven. We are growing older and becoming involved in more and different things, but we still come back and build off of the foundation of what we’ve always had in common: family.

Krista spent the summer in Belize, and Carli got to take a trip to El Salvador with her Spanish class from school a couple weeks ago. Last week, they both returned, and what a happy reunion we had (as evidenced by the top picture). There’s nothing quite like letting it all hang loose with the ones who know you best, and at the end of the day, going to bed knowing they love you no less. This is an incredible gift, and I acknowledge it. Today I’m filled with gratitude for the blessing of sisterhood.

Abiart Creative | a Giveaway!

This giveway is now closed. Stay tuned for more opportunities to win good stuff in the future!

I mentioned last week that plans were in the works for The Realization of Good’s very first giveaway, and I hope you’ve been waiting with eager expectation! 😉 I’m a huge fan of giveaways, since I used to be one of those people who “never won anything”…but kept on entering away, and it eventually paid off. I now know that persistence is key, and that filling out those entries is actually worth it! The few giveaways I’ve won have felt like having an extra birthday…getting a package containing something awesome that I didn’t have to pay for in my mailbox is pretty great. (Maybe my love language is gifts.) Anyway, in this case, that’s working to your advantage, because now that I have a platform, I am looking forward to running my own giveaways regularly. It’s my turn to give back!

So I’ve been mulling over what to start with…I wanted it to be something extra special for this first run. I also wanted it to be something that would appeal to at least most of my readers, and I know each of you have varying interests. The cool thing about this prize pack is that it is a gift that “keeps on giving” — the winner will be able to use it to bless others!

Without further ado…from now until Sunday you have a chance to win twenty-five beautiful greeting cards designed by my friend Abi over at Abiart Creative.


I feel so privileged to have grown to know, in the last decade or so, a handful of talented, artistic, budding entrepreneurs my own age, and it’s a huge honor for me to introduce Abi to you today. She’s one of those rockstars who is making her mark on the world in a big way at a young age, as the owner of her own graphic design company and designer of the fabulous Abiart Card line. Abi happened to be in Haiti visiting a friend when the 2010 earthquake occurred, and she came home with a passion for homeless and orphaned Haitians, which helped to birth the vision for Abiart Cards. (A portion of her sales support a school for girls in Passe Boi d’ormes, Haiti.)


Letter writing is one of those golden things that people just don’t do much anymore — we stay in touch through social media and write an email if we need to. But when was the last time you mailed someone a card? Everyone loves getting fun mail, and it really doesn’t take more than a few minutes to pick out a pretty card and jot a few lines. Let’s bring back snail mail! This giveaway is designed to make it easy and fun for you to brighten someone’s day with a beautiful card filled with love from a sister, cousin, or friend.

I asked Abi to handpick 25 of her favorite designs for the giveaway. They’re made in two different shapes, tall and square, come with coordinating envelopes, and range in occasion from birthday to sympathy to friendship and more. She also included one of her silver markers for addressing the envelopes, and I’m throwing in a sheet of Vintage Rose forever stamps, because they’re pretty and will correspond so well with the gorgeous mail you’ll be sending out when you win these cards. 🙂


Check out Abi’s website and Facebook page to see more of her lovely work. You can find her cards in a store near you or request a catalog by sending an email to

To get your name in the drawing for the 25 cards & envelopes + marker + stamps, you must click here to visit the Rafflecopter giveaway page and follow the instructions on the screen. You get one entry each for: liking The Realization of Good on Facebook, liking Abiart Creative on Facebook, following me on Instagram (a great way to stay up-to-date with what’s happening around here), tweeting about the giveaway, and leaving a comment here on this post telling me about one of two things: either a giveaway that you won (or reeeally wish you’d won), or an item you’d definitely enter a giveaway for right now, because it’s the epitome of awesome. (I’d love to hear your suggestions for future drawings!) 🙂 You can do just one or all five of these things to get entered, and if you want, you can come back and do the tweeting once every day for extra entries.


The giveaway will run for one week and close at midnight on Sunday. I’ll announce the winner here on the blog on Monday, so stay tuned!

The Realization of Good


r e a l i z a t i o n : the state of understanding or becoming aware of something : the act of achieving something that was planned or hoped for

g o o d : of high quality : correct or proper

You’re invited to follow along as I figure out and attain the things, the ideas, and the experiences that make up my unique version of the good life.

I want to learn from you, too. I’ve always been of the belief that loving people = understanding that EVERYONE has something to offer me that I need. This blog is about things that I’ve discovered, tried, and fallen in love with — things that I believe in and see as “good” — but just because I write about them doesn’t mean they are the “best.” Some of the things I write about won’t be what’s best for you. Let’s both recognize that from the start, and give each other grace when we disagree.