Thanksgiving Top 5 (2010 edition)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last year’s Thanksgiving blog was a Top 10 list, but on looking back at it, I wondered if 10 top things might be a little overwhelming for readers. So this year, at the risk of leaving out even more people, I’ve shortened the list, so it will be known as—

Top 5 Projects I was Thankful to Work On This Year

(Once again, I apologize in advance if your project is not listed—it’s been a full year with fantastic variety, and I couldn’t list all of you!)

Number 5
Christian Hunting Stories

The team at HeuleGordon Inc. turned a collection of handwritten hunting stories into this handsome volume.

When Carl Heule at HeuleGordon Inc. asked if I would be available to proofread a book they were laying out and printing, of course I said yes. The manuscript arrived, and I began reading it, and I could tell right away this would be a unique project. The “author” of the book, Jonas Mast, was really a “compiler” —of hunting stories from Christian, salt-of-the-earth type people who clearly love hunting and creation and God’s great outdoors.

The writing style (and punctuation) varied from story to story, so it was a challenge to bring some consistency to the chapters without losing each storyteller’s voice. But while editing I enjoyed learning about things like turkey calling, mulley bucks, and bugling elks. In fact, reading the book, I felt as if I were sitting around the campfire with the hunting party, rehashing the day’s adventures. Here’s a sample:

“I slowly raised my gun and squeezed off a shot. He didn’t bat an eye, so I popped one in front of him. Then he slowly turned around and left. Had that actually been a grizzly wanting to get me, I knew good and well I could have been minced meat and hamburger before I could have gotten my gun out. Right then I added another line to my resolution: Always pack a gun, and make sure you can get to it NOW!”

Good stuff. And you can see from the photo that the team at HeuleGordon did a nice job creating a beautiful book out of what started as a collection of handwritten pages.

If you’re interested in ordering a copy for the hunter in your life, click the image of the book to download a PDF of the order form. Quantity discounts are available!

Number 4
John Klompmaker Carving Blog

Clicking this image will take you to John Klompmaker’s blog, where you can learn everything you want to know about woodcarving.

John Klompmaker and I are both part of a group of tennis players who meet at the high school courts every Saturday morning throughout the summer. It was just a few weeks ago that a thundershower prevented us from playing, and somehow I ended up at John’s house, where he showed me his woodcarvings and expressed regret that he didn’t have time to set up a website to showcase his work. I suggested he set up a WordPress blog instead, because the interface is easy and a blog would give him more flexibility and social networkability than a typical website would.

John was intrigued, so I helped him set up a WordPress account, chose a photo blog template, and uploaded a few posts and pages to get him started. He took it from there, and within a week he had more than a dozen entries and nearly 100 photos in place! Within three weeks he was receiving comments from people outside of his personal network! (This is a major milestone for new bloggers.)

What made this project so fun was the synergy created by John’s passion for woodworking and my passion for blogging. Blogging is the perfect medium for John’s message, and it’s been exciting to see him make the most of it.

If you have any interest in artistic woodworking, subscribe to John’s blog. If you don’t, forward it to someone who does! And if you’re looking for one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts, check out his online gift shop of Klompmaker originals.

Number 3
Memorial Folders

Click image to view a printable PDF.

You might recall that last year’s Thanksgiving list included the memorial folder I helped create when the father of my best friend passed away. Since then, I’ve begun working with the funeral home that served her family during that time, Matthysse Kuiper DeGraaf. Together we create memorial folders that are a genuine encouragement to grieving families, as I explained in a recent post titled, “Memorial Folders: a final tribute to your loved one’s life story.”

I enjoy working with Matthysse because it’s clear they really care for the people they serve. And I enjoy working on memorial folders because it’s an opportunity to transform a few words and pictures into a crystallized life story that becomes a meaningful keepsake for family and friends.

Number 2
Pakistan Projects

Click on the image to open a PDF of the full brochure.

Franklin Woodland is an entrepreneur with a heart for people. Right now he’s bringing his business acumen to a series of projects that will benefit the people of Pakistan. I’ve enjoyed helping Franklin share the story of these projects because they gave me a chance to do research I wouldn’t normally do, and learn things I wouldn’t normally think to ask about, such as:

  • why water, which covers so much of our planet, is so scarce in some areas;
  • why Pakistani dairy farmers struggle to earn a living, even though that country is the fourth largest producer of milk;
  • how Behali furniture can offer restoration on more than one level.

In addition, Franklin’s projects gave me the opportunity to work with Phil Black, whose design reflects more than talent, but also a real desire to connect and communicate. Early in our first project, Phil told me his philosophy of design is that everything—images, colors, words, fonts—should work together to ensure the message is delivered. Design should enhance the message, he affirmed, not distract from it or become a competing message. The image shown above is a cover Phil designed for the “Fresh, Filtered Water” project we worked on for Franklin. It’s typical of Phil’s beautiful work, and he was delightful to partner with.

Number 1
Faith In Action

I was asked to serve as captain of the Camera Crew for Living Springs’ Faith In Action project. It was my most exciting project of the year!

The Number 1 project on my list this year is a volunteer effort for my church family, Living Springs Community Church. I have already blogged about our Faith In Action adventure, so I won’t repeat the details here. Suffice it to say that Faith In Action Sunday was the most vibrant, joy-filled, Spirit-energized experience I’ve had in a long time. Watch the video on this blog to get a sense of what I’m talking about. And watch the slideshow below to see the variety of projects we were involved in that day: w=540

(This Faith In Action video is set to “The Last Jesus” as performed by Kirk Franklin on his album, The Fight of My Life.)

Being captain of the Camera Crew gave me an opportunity to work with a team of volunteer photographers who not only embedded themselves in the work teams, but also returned to home base promptly to efficiently offload their camera cards to my laptop. The slideshow feature in iPhoto made it easy to put together a continuously updated slideshow that the teams could enjoy as they returned to the church building for lunch. And my handy-dandy Flip Video camera made it easy to capture people’s enthusiasm about their experiences. And of course iMovie made it easy to turn all those enthusiastic clips into a good-looking movie, which we showed during the following Sunday’s church service.

On that 1 Sunday there were 450 people working on 16 projects in 12 locations, and my Camera Crew and I got more than 1,000 photos of them! If you don’t want to take the time to watch either the slideshow or the video, visit the Living Springs Facebook page and click through all the Faith In Action photo albums posted there. (While you’re there, click the “Like” button!)

Thank you

So there you have it, another year of projects to be thankful for. And not just projects (which I enjoy because I’m a task-oriented person), but people—good people doing good work in the name of a good God. It’s an honor and a joy for me to have a part in sharing stories like these, and I do not take that for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends and colleagues! May the abundance you pour into others’ lives throughout the year come back to fill your tables and your hearts this Thanksgiving season.a

19 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Top 5 (2010 edition)”

  1. Nice idea, Mel, even if it didn’t include my blog. Thanks for the kind words. When you have time let me ask you about the ping back thing. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND ALL YOUR READERS.

    • Thanks John, the Thanksgiving blog is a fun one to write—it gives me a chance to thank people in public, and I really appreciate the opportunity to review my past year and see God’s provision and direction.

      As for ping backs, they are what happens when you include a link in your post to one of your other posts. Interlinking like that is a good way to help your readers find related posts they may be interested in, and somehow it helps Google recognize your blog as a source of real information (as opposed to a bunch of meaningless keywords without any helpful content).

  2. Melanie,
    What a beautiful masterpiece you put together here! You are so very talented.

    It was great to see that blog on woodcarving… John was my junior high Bible teacher & that was awesome to see his artwork! What an honor it was to learn in his classroom (Bible that is, not woodcarving :)

    And your Faith in Action video was just that; Faith in Action truly lived out. What a difference you guys are making in your community & what an inspiration for all of us to go out & help our neighbors. Just beautiful!
    (I recognized a few faces from my Vantage Point 3 “Living Fire” class as we meet corporately a few times a year).

    We all have so much to be thankful for. This makes me think, “why aren’t I counting my blessings like this?!” Thank you for sharing this & connecting so many others in your Thanksgiving! YOU are a blessing Melanie!

    • Michelle, it’s so good to hear from you! Thanks for your kind words. That’s the best kind of response I could hope for from this blog—that others will be blessed and feel overwhelmed with gratitude too! What a great feeling!

  3. Melanie,

    You have been blessed with many talents have ministered to so many people with them! It has been such a privilege to work with you. I look forward to sharing your gifts with others so that they too can treasure their loved one in a meaningful keepsake that will last a lifetime.

    Mike Matthysse

  4. Melanie, I always love the way you present what you’ve accomplished. Your posts are packed with information and inspiration! Thanks so much! You inspire me to do better!! ~Jean

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