One of my Girls

So let’s take a few minutes it talk about Jenny Vorderman and YOU. First. let’s talk about you. You amaze me with the belief that you have in those that you have not met, touched nor been close to.  The words “thank you” is certainly not enough. It is more of a mutual love,. A mutual respect that I feel for those of you you spent your time in helping Jenny win this contest. Maybe I sound a little too emotional about it, but when you see your friends’  eyes light up in a heartbeat just because of something it just makes your heart smile. My heart smile.

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I met Jenny a long time ago when she still had braces and a full belly with a cute boy named Jackson inside. There’s a standing joke in my family. We say “if you want to make money you gotta spend money, call Steve Vorderman.”.  I guess if you look at where I was when I called him and where we are today, you know it really does work

I met Jenny through Steve. I was looking for help and I’m not sure what she was doing. But I do know I left her outside on my steps waiting to meet and talk about a job that I had forgotten about. Or that’s what she says. I remember it as she blew me off.  We’ll settle this anther day. LOL

Flash forward to 4-5 years ago, I was going to start learning to use my camera & I wanted to go to workshop. I needed a partner in crime. So  I called Jenny for second time.  She eagerly and a bit nervously jumped in the car with me  a week long stay in a home filled with wildlife photographer a few hours away.  The kind that where the vest has 200 pockets to hold every lens, film, knife, or whatever else they stuff in those pockets. But that weekend was filled was so much fun, so much sharing of each other’s life, and a lot of good stories.

A month later we travel to St Louis to go to another workshop. That is when we met Michelle Huesgen  and Jamie Davis. And I knew that these girls would be my friends for long time to come.
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When I planned to  head to Kenya I knew Jenny would be one of the people to join me. She brings the simple, huge smile and welcoming heart to the group.  She’s wide eyed and genuinely interested in others.  While she holds tight to things close to her…..she always has an extra laugh to share.

Long story short, it’s amazing what women can do when they ban together to support one another. Thank you for believing in me and thank you for believing in my friends. I am blessed to have Jenny and you all in my life.

Congrats Jenny on winning a trip to Haiti with the famed Kenneth Cole.

Nicole Helsom

I was lucky enough to meet Jenni at a fundraiser to raise money to buy bicycles for the children in Africa. I felt an instant connection with her and we have been friends ever since. She would drop everything to help a friend in need and braved a rainstorm to photograph my family before my husband’s surgery to remove his brain tumor. She can warm a room with her smile and has so much LOVE to share. I am blessed to have met Jenni and look forward to many more conversations poolside or at the zoo watching Gabby and Miles “flirt”. I am so thankful for the support the Matilda Jane community has shown for her. Her love for the children in Africa and Matilda Jane’s community outreach is one of the things that drives me to buy and support this wonderful company. I hope to someday have the chance to do mission work and make my own trip to Africa, but for now I have to live vicariously through Jenni’s stories told through her amazing and emotional photography. I’m glad I was able to help even in a small way to allow her to reach high and let the world see how big her heart it. Go make a difference Jenni!

Brea

I officially met her in the Fort at conference but she had me at hello in Amsterdam taking selfies in the wee hours of the morning with random sleeping people. Jenni is the kind of woman you meet and within 15 minutes you feel like you’ve known a lifetime. She radiates joy and you can tell she feels at home with her camera which automatically makes everyone feels comfortable. How she captures a person’s soul through that camera is beyond me but she does and I’m glad I am getting to see the world through her eyes now. Kenya changed me, not just the people that we went there to meet and love but the people that I went there with. Some of them I already knew and loved, but the ones I didn’t know that I now also love fiercely. Jenni is one of them and I always be thankful for that. I can’t wait to watch her journey in Haiti…she totally deserves it!

Brenen

I love to see Jenni’s heart through her lens. She has captured amazing things, and I am able to learn so much about the place I love to see. It was a true pleasure watching the numbers climb. A well deserved win!

Thank you for taking me along on this journey with you. It has changed my world forever and I am grateful everyday for it. My heart is so full and after reading Nicole, Brea, and Brenen’s comments it might just burst. So humbled and so grateful!

All of My Flaws

“When all of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
A wonderful part of the mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
They lie there hand in hand
Ones we’ve inherited, ones that we learned
They pass from man to man

…..
You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started
Dig them up, so nothing’s left unturned

All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We’ll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we’d be doomed”

I feel like I have always compared myself to others. Which can be good. Or which can be bad.
In my early 20’s it was bad. I was never smart enough or pretty enough. I always said akward things, and always the perfect size 12, and was just never good enough. Whatever that “good enough” was.   I am certain that was only through my eyes for my friends and family NEVER made me feel this way. But for some reason the voice in your head speaks a lot louder than the voice of those who love you. I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t have Pinterest in those days. For as much as I love Pinterest, I hate it. So much talent on that site. The bar is set way too high for a mom of two and a full time job.

It was in my thirties that I met Sam. And she may hate me for saying this, and though she walked in the room like a ball of sunshine, she was as awkward as I was. She was still in her late teens, and I was in my early thirties. I was now just beginning to realize the importance accepting your flaws instead of bearing them. While Sam still young, wore her flaws on her sleeves and embraced them. Or so it seemed.

It’s crazy the things an old lady, like me, can learn from a young girl. It’s crazy to see the friendship that can blossom, the love that’s grown, and the respect that we embrace for one another. And many of those things I learned from Sam. I remember her saying, “Denise when you say things like that, it hurts my feelings.” Had she not shared that with me, I would have never learned.
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As I entered my forties I was welcomed cancer. I do believe I was diagnosed 4 days before my birthday. I think. And I was also welcomed by a new out take on life. I know who my friends are. I embrace my flaws. I know what’s important, and I know it’s important to remain true to yourself. I know not to waste time on things that make you unhappy, and I know that time and energy is spent better on good causes and making people smile. I know the importance of saying nice things when you think them (even if you look silly). And the importance of looking at things from another angle when you disagree.  The only thing that remains is my lack of a filter in the way I speak. It still has big gaps.  Ya, I’m not so keen on filtering.

The last time I went to Africa, I met a girl named Veronica. Veronica is about 13 and needn’t say a word. Her eyes spoke of the hardships she’s had and the  curiosity her mind begged for.  Her eyes speak of the love she desires, and the honesty she holds. I’m not saying this because she is wise beyond her years. I say this because she hides her flaws in the way I do.  I see it. I feel it.  The need to be accepted at age 13 is beyond what i could handle at 13 and at 40. Why do some people make us bend into someone we are not? And that is why I love my small circle of friends. They adore me, filter ot not.

I think it’s important to teach the young that it is the flaws that define you. It is my flaws that define me. After all, anytime there is a typo in a post you certainly know Denise wrote it. And while I have been criticized for my grammar, the things I say, I am okay with it. After all I am just who I am. I only have so much time and so much energy. If  I spend it all day on trying to be perfect, I wouldn’t have time to spend with my family, to help my sweet kids, or trying to change the face of beauty. Heck, I would loose site of who I am.

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I’m not really sure where this post is going. Lately, I just randomly record things as I’m driving. It’s kind of nice, not typing, and just speaking into my phone. Only problem is you get a bunch of random thoughts for a girl who’s mind wanders aimlessly.

My message to you is to stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Stop looking behind you, stopping looking in front of you, and start looking around you. You are surrounded by people who love you. People who you do not have to compare yourself to. You are you. You are your flaws. And that’s the most beautiful person you could be. Flawed.

-Denise

Monika

That song you quoted… when I first heard it, I thought he said floors instead of flaws! I remember saying to the girls, this song makes no sense at all! He has a hole in his soul because of his floors??? Yup, bit of a dork. I’m glad you’re back to blogging… love reading your thoughts.

Rhonda

Beautifully written, my dear. xo

Brenen

I am so thankful to be “hearing” your voice again. We’ve missed your blogs so much!

I am so glad you are blogging again. Xo

Gran

Love your shared words, shared life. Beautiful. Thank you.

Hello My Name is Denise

Ok, so I said I would introduce myself. Well, of course my name is Denise and I have been blogging for about 7  years. Here’s a link to my first blog.  And here’s a link to my second blog I started about 4 years ago, it is now run by our company, Matilda Jane Clothing.
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Is feels funny to talk about myself. But in short, I will give you a brief summary of who I am. I am a mom to two boys , Joe (13) and Gabe (8).  I married my college sweetheart, David.  We both moved from Michigan to Indiana so David could teach. I spent most of my 20’s and part of my 30’s traveling the Midwest doing art fairs every weekend. It was definitely my passion, my love, and my life. I stopped doing art fairs so I could design a line of clothing for a man in town. Things didn’t work out, I was told a I’d never be a blip on the radar.  With that said, I went on to build my clothing company, Matilda Jane Clothing.

Matilda Jane got quite big.  Quite fast. It was too much for my husband and I to handle. We decided to get a partner back in 2011. They have allowed us to do so many great things and have always been quite supportive of it. That is where the story of the Mighty Acorns begins (kinda). The day we closed on the deal with Matilda Jane was the same day I asked David if we could afford to build the orphanage in Kitale, Kenya.  He said YES!

I traveled with 25 of my friends back in November of 2011 to see the orphanage and meet the children first hand. We all fall in love and knew our hearts would forever be with the children of Kitale. .

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I came home to find my heart has changed and so had my passion.. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 6 months later.  And I was beginning to feel confused at Matilda Jane. Was  I meant to be challenged more in therms of giving? I went through chemo, did a lot of thinking, and decided to leave Matilda Jane.  As new people were brought in and Matilda Jane begin to grow I found myself not so much  myself. I knew Matilda Jane had to grow to become successful but I was still stuck in the small town world. I decided to leave because I wasn’t me anymore and because I knew the added stress could make me sick again. My energy was better spent helping others.

I left about 6 months ago and it’s been a pretty difficult 6 months. It’s almost as if Matilda Jane was my boyfriend and when I left Matilda Jane, he got a new girlfriend. When I hear things about Matilda Jane and how they’ve changed it hurts my heart but I know it is totally for the better. I know he is awesome and will be happy. I almost feel as if my ex boyfriend is dating a girl that I would see walking in the hall and she was so cool, pretty and popular.  I miss that ex boyfriend, but yet I don’t want to date him again. I know he is better off.  And I so miss all my friends that we had. Gosh, I miss seeing my friends and creating fun stuff. Gosh, it’s kinda like he’s cheating on me. LOL

But the days will go on and I will learn to become my own person again. There’s so many days when I miss all the girls that created Matilda Jane with me. They will forever be my girls my 435 girls. I miss Matilda Jane.  But I know it cannot define me.

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I know this blog is titled MIGHTY ACORNS,  and there will be talk of the foundation and also be fun talk of everyday life, growing up and becoming a selfless person. Through the years I have learned to give where you can when you can.

We will still have a great blogs from all of our kids over in Kitale . We will still have great blogs from Kylee, Kara, Jenni, Denise W, and others.  But I will try to blog 2 to 3 times a week just about life in general and the fun moments, the trying moments and just life. And that’s about it about me.

-Denise D

Meghan

Denise, it is so nice to “hear your voice” again. I miss you, and I can’t wait to hear about your new path. <3 Meghan

Nicole Helsom

It takes such strength to leave something that has been such a defining part of who you are. You have a huge heart and your love for the work you are doing was so obvious when you were talking about it at the Warm and Cozy fundraiser. You started to light up with such excitement talking about the trip to Africa. You are making a great choice! Spread your love! I hope to be able to do the same someday!

Sam

great to hear from you.

I feel kinda the same way about MJC. I think I’ve outgrown that boyfriend Still miss it, drawn weirdly to it, but don’t think it’s healthy for us. At least the old way I was.

This is what I’m aiming for.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=V4bB7BUxBbY

Thanks Denise!

Holly V

I’ve sure missed your blogs…so excited you are back 🙂

Hollybygolly

We sure are proud of you. We are blessed to have shared a small slice of that history with you. Cheers to the best person Chuck and I know.

Kari Bennett

So thankful to have been a part of your journey & seeing your heart in action while in Africa was an amazing sight. “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do. ~Walt Disney” That is what I think of when I think of you and your journey with MJC and Mighty Acorn. You, my friend, do it well.

Nights Like Last

kayla

It is nights like last night that make me feel so incredibly  lucky to have girls like I do.

Watching Kayla and her glory was pretty amazing. And I don’t mean glory as in the star of the show. I mean glory in the way when you are the epitome of yourself. I mean glory in the way that is authentic. I mean glory when  you feel comfortable in your skin. Glory when  you or at one of your happiest moments.

I’m certain Kayla didn’t even realize the beauty she portrayed last night.

I’m certain she was stressed. Stressed as in she had huge expectations and maybe some of them were not meant. Not stressed as in she had a hundred million things to do ( I mean she had a hundred million things to do too). But because she wants every little detail to be perfect.  That kinda stress. I can ramble forever!!

She did not realize the magnificent she radiated that night

It is amazing to think just two short years ago, Kayla and I were at the event with Chelsa.  We looked at each other and said “I think we could have an event a little bit better than this.” Okay,  but we really said was “let’s have an event that will rock this place. Let’s have an event that’s comfortable warm and just people being people.”

And that is what we did. We had our second Annual Warm and Cozy Event to benefit the Sexual Assault Center.

And with that said, stay tuned for an introduction to myself. I am realizing many of you are clueless who I am. What I have to do with Mighty Acorns and how my story aligns. It is pretty simple, I firmly believe we should help where we can, when we can. And one day Charlotte emailed me asking about an orphange….. and the story will start there.

-Denise D

Gran

It is WONDERFUL hearing from you again.

Mama Hope

Home is where your heart is.
It’s not the destination … It’s the journey.
There are about a million quotes that are perfect for you.

Feed the Soul

You know when I was in High School or Middle School,  I didn’t understand kids that had a physical disability. TO me it was awkward, scary, and just felt weird. I fully admit I stared, I laughed, but I didn’t understand. Nobody had ever explained it to me, nor had I ever met someone to help me understand.
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When I had Joe he was most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t anything about him that wasn’t perfect. About 6 months later when my neighbor told me she thought I should bring him to the doctor I wasn’t worried. She was a physical therapist and volunteered at a center for the disabled. I still wasn’t scared. Because in my mind I knew he was perfect.

When the doctor said he had cerebral palsy I didn’t think any different. He’s still perfect. Sure I was scared, I didn’t understand, and I didn’t know what the future held.

Flash forward 13 years, Joe  is still perfect. Yes he does talk a little funny, his arm continues to get smaller or appear smaller as the rest of his body grows. He walks with a limp but he still perfect.

In the 13 years of his life he may have seen one person ad or on a TV show that looked just like him. We’ve seen a few hemiplegics in the store and he always lit up especially when he was young, and would say “mom, he looks just like me.”  We went to a camp one summer and all the kids where all the kids were hemiplegics, like Joe.  I never heard him talk louder, more confident, full of life as when he did when he was with the  kids. that weekend. There was no judging. There was no staring. There was no funny remarks or under the breath statements. Everyone was equal.

I think back to the years from when Joe was 4 till the time he was 13 and had he seen more kids like him in  print or advertising, would it have changed who he was. I don’t know. But what I do know is I think it’s time we find out. I think it’s time for all of us, including me & you, to see people just like us. To stand a little taller. Be a little more confident and love ourselves for exactly who we are.

I  think it is important to talk about it. Don’t freak out that you aren’t using “the right words.”   I get it.. ..  As I type this,  I’m constantly hoping I am not offending anyone. Constantly questioning myself.  As long as it is coming from the heart, it is good.

-Denise

P.S. I know I haven’t blogged in a bit. But I am excited to start again and chat about Africa and Change the Face of Beauty. SO much great stuff to feed the soul.

Mama Hope

So … that was perfectly said!! And your Joe is the cutest thing ever. I didn’t notice that he talks funny …??? And he shook hands! And so confident. And so cute. So you have done it pretty perfectly, huh? But this campaign is ah-mazing … and so needed … just perfect!

Holly v

I am so happy that you are blogging again Denise! I really was missing it! Beautiful thoughts as usual 😉

Marla H.

Thanks for sharing your heart! I think it’s wonderful. 🙂 Our kids’ generation is going to be more sensitive and aware of how unique and amazing that God made each and every person!

Jen K

Love. I am endlessly inspired by your heart, Denise. Joe IS perfect….one of the kindest souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. The campaign turned out beautifully – can’t wait to hear more!

Nesha

I was so sad to see you take a step back from Matilda Jane but to know that these are the projects you are working on fills my love cup again! Thank you for sharing a part of your journey so that others may open up and see that every child is beautiful and perfect!

Abby

Thank you for your touching words. I looked a bit different as a teen and always felt very self conscious. It has made me stronger in the long run, but I totally agree that we can support out young people by helping them see that everyone is beautiful! I love this campaign. Joe IS perfect!

Thank you thank you thank you. Beautiful words. Beautiful heart!

Karen Spillson

Joe is so lucky to have such wonderful parents! Some of my favorite old neighborhood memories was watching David playing ball with Joe in the front yard!
I raised two children with special needs. Sometimes it was challenging, trying to make sure they were given every opportunity to succeed in school. Hoping they weren’t being made fun of at school.
If you are blessed with healthy children please be thankful!
You do such wonderful things for so many people Denise!