Friday, July 31, 2009

What's in a Name?

First of all I want to thank all of you out there who have visited this blog. I'm super excited about how many people have taken time to read our posts. I would like to encourage you to respond if you'd like to. We'd love to hear from you!

Keep coming back and keep sharing with your family and friends! Together we will improve the way the world thinks!

Our first post talked about the story behind the stores but I'd like to explain the thinking behind the name of our inspirational/motivational line of apparel and merchandise. We call it I-cubed. Our goal with I-cubed designs is to Impress, Impact, and Improve.

We want our 100% original designs to impress upon people to do the right thing. Most are based on common sense and things we may have learned a long time ago but forgotten. Maybe we chose to and maybe we didn't.

We want our I-cubed designs to impact people in a positive way with the ultimate goal of improving the way the world thinks! I-cubed designs will serve as a reminder to both the person who is using or wearing the item or perhaps serve as an inspiration to someone who sees the messages and cause them to act in the right way and/or do the right thing.

Who knows, anything can happen! How do you improve yourself? Use our I-cubed designs to remind you to do the right thing or give them as a gift to a friend that could use some encouragement.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Changing Directions

Repent: a drastic change in direction
This is a "Pastor Troy" design because he uses this phrase in his messages. One week he commented that he would like to name a dog Repent. He said he could picture the dog running out in the yard or field and calling the dog's name, "REPENT!" and watching it do a 180 and come running back.

Isn't that what God wants us to do? As we go off running in the world, chasing what the world has to offer, He wants to be able to call our name and see us come running back. I see this repeating in my life. Many years ago we experienced serious financial difficulties and we needed to turn away from the world and the material things that had been pulling us away from God and return to Him. It was great to make those changes and strengthen our faith in that time of trial. But as things improved, it became easier and easier to get pulled back to that.

Once again we are experiencing trials and having to choose which way to go. It's easy to get frustrated and want to run away, or chase after something the world seems to offer. But God is calling my name and I'm turning back to Him.

When in your life have you had to drastically change your direction to follow God?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thank God its....

Ever wonder where the saying "Thank God It's Friday" came from?

Do you think the other days get jealous? What about Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday? Is Friday reserved just for God and and we have to find something or someone else to thank for the other days?

I hope not!

I suggest we Just Thank God. It doesn't matter whether or not it's Friday or not. It doesn't matter whether or not it's sunny or rainy; dry or wet; cold or warm; funny and easy-going or sad and difficult. Just Thank God.

This design depicts an open planner to a Friday (perhaps even a Friday the 13th!). The pages are filled with obligations but on the right is a post-it note with the crucial reminder that we should put on every page in our planners, datebooks, I-phones (my wife really wants one) and PDAs.

It says, "Don't worry what day it is..." The bottom line of this design says it all in bold letters. Just Thank God. I've been currently struggling with a long-term chronic illness and have remembered this design often! It's helped me get through the tougher times. The bible says in both Romans and James (and likely other areas) that we are to give thanks to God for all things... not just the good but also all the rest... it's part of a process/plan that he has in place for us.

It's easy to be thankful when things are going the way you want them but refer to James 1:2-8 during other times...

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

We are commanded to Just Thank God! I hope you do today. To view this and our other designs check out our websites and today. We hope you'll find jus the right item to remind you to improve the way you think and/or gift item for that person in your life who could also benefit.

Be thankful today even though it's Saturday!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bee Leaf

Bee Leaf
Admittedly I had the kids in mind when working on this one. I don't remember whether Brian or I came up with the overall concept but as soon as the words were said, I had this picture in my head.

It's just a simple graphic with a simple message. Meant to draw people in and raise some questions. It's currently only on the FoG site, but we'll probably put it on I-cubed as well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Parental Rights (and wrongs)

I grew up the youngest of five children. Each of my four older siblings had two kids before I had my first child. (I finished up with two.) I babysat my nieces and nephews many times when I was in high school and college. I was comfortable being responsible for kids of all ages even down to infants. The one thing I always noticed (or thought I noticed) was that my nieces and nephews all listened better to me than they did their parents.

Based on all my experience parenting was going to be a piece of cake. I mean, if my nieces and nephews listened to me when I was just their uncle then it was a "given" that my kids would always listen to me when I was their Dad. Right?

When my oldest son was born I was the happiest guy in the world and there is no better feeling in the world when you hold your kid and they fall asleep on your lap. No one tells you how difficult it can be when your kid isn't perfect or the challenges start to come... and they definitely do.

My oldest was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 6 and has had problems adapting to school. He has difficulty with authority and loses his temper often. There was a time when I was afraid to answer the phone because I was certain it would be someone (school, teacher, neighbor, etc.) telling me how rotten my child was and therefore implying what a terrible parent I was. It happened so often that I started thinking perhaps they were right.

What I finally decided was that he was my child and no matter what he is awesome. He has faults and he is brilliant in his own way and he is a gift from God. Although I may not like what he does and how he behaves and I question often whether or not he can control his behaviour - I think the answer varies depending - he is my child and I will always love him. NO MATTER WHAT!

Parenting is the toughest job in the world. Parenting is also the best job in the world. Bottom line is that we must all take responsibility for our kids whatever they are like and Make it Apparent We're a Parent!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Sunday Sunrise

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.In 2008, we were fortunate enough to participate in an incentive trip won for a great sales year. We traveled to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic! It was a fabulous experience and we not only enjoyed the location - delightful rooms, wonderful pools, tremendous restaurants, and the best beach I've ever seen - but also the company of other sales reps. It was great to reconnect with friends from previous trips and catch up on their lives.

Our trip began on a Thursday and ended on a Tuesday, so it included a weekend stay. Unfortunately, the bulk of the "business" portion of the trip occurred on Saturday and Sunday! After checking the schedule, we realized that business meetings were scheduled for Sunday morning. In addition, we didn't find any mention of religious services.

So what do you do when you're from Iowa and spending a Sunday in a foreign country, in a beautiful resort with access to a fabulous beach? We opted to rise before the sun and catch the sunrise on the beach and have our own private worship service - just us and our God and His magnificent sunrise! He delighted us and we delighted in Him! It seemed that He was clearly telling us to rejoice in this glorious day he had made... just for us.

One of the photos we took that morning is incorporated in our design we call "Rejoice" - This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Half Full - Thinking Positively

Half Full Think Positive My best friend (and first friend), Jeff, died of natural causes back in 1987 shortly before he turned 21... or maybe it was shortly after. It doesn't matter. We were born 9 days apart and lived right next door to each other for several years until he moved across town. We were still best of friends - which included fighting every day and making up the next - until my family moved away when I was nine years old. We played Star Trek as kids and I was ALWAYS Kirk and he was ALWAYS Spock... we never died. But unfortunately, he did.

I'll never forget the day I heard. It felt like someone sucker-punched me in the gut when I wasn't looking. It took many years to feel like I could get that breath back. I truly felt like a part of me died that day as well. I helped carry my best friend's body to his grave. It was my first experience with death.

I kept all my feelings inside and didn't tell anyone. Not even my closest friends or my wife. I struggled with my job and hated my work. I had the "pleasure" of dealing with panic attacks and other physical side effects of cooped-up stress but when I went to the doctors they couldn't find anything wrong.

Six years after my friend died I checked myself into the hospital. The 6th floor... the mental ward. I didn't know what to do. I was having trouble controlling my thoughts. I wasn't suicidal... rather, I was afraid to die. However, the interesting twist was that I was also afraid to live. I was diagnosed with depression and was given anti-depressants. I took them for almost 15 years up until about 6 months ago... but that is a story for another time.

Several years back I started to understand that blaming others for my depression and position I was in was just wrong. My wife and I started our own company, had a couple wonderful boys, and I started realizing that truly it isn't what happens to you that matters in life but how you deal with it. You always have a choice.

God had blessed me with the ability to creat graphics that were kind of "quick and witty" and so I declared it was time to improve the way the world thinks. I was going to do that by offering our designs on items and keep positive messages in front of people to remind them how to think.

This was the basis for the Half Full -Think Positive design. You have a choice. Choose wisely! Check out this and all the rest of our designs at the sites included at the top of this blog.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Diana's Pillowcase

My aunt Diana was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October of 2008. Shortly after that, I heard that she was having trouble sleeping at night and I could imagine the kinds of fears that might fill her mind upon waking in the middle of the night. The more I thought of it, the stronger the idea of creating a pillowcase that might bring her comfort became. I wanted to create something special for her, something that might bring her comfort at night, something akin to a child's blankie but in adult form.

I researched some verses that I thought would encourage comfort and rest:
  • Isaiah 43:5 - Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
  • Psalm 4:8 - I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
  • Matthew 11:28 - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
  • Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Most importantly, the main verse reminding that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him". Romans 8:28.

Why is it that some good people have to suffer when others don't? Why is it that some bad people don't ever seem to suffer? My parents always said that life isn't fair. I hated hearing that. I thought life should be fair. But it isn't.

I don't know whether the pillowcase brought comfort to my aunt. I certainly hope so. And I hope that others might find it inspiring and comforting and use it to help and encourage the people who they love who might be struggling as well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Story Behind the Stores

Do you ever have pictures or images pop into your head when you hear a story or listen to someone talking? My husband and I do - often!

We've been inspired to help improve the way the world thinks. It seems so much that you hear and read is bad news - descriptions of awful things and awful people. It's very easy to think that the entire world is falling apart and there's nothing good left in it. We are motivated to point out those good things and remind people to "think positive" and "stop and smell the roses". We really do only have one life and I, for one, want to live it joyously and noticing all the wonderful things around me!

So, over the years my husband and I developed these images, graphics, that are geared towards keeping our mind on the good things. But we didn't know how to get them "out there" where others could utilize them. We were not interested in running a retail business, nor did we have the funds to invest in a bunch of inventory that we would have to store and try to sell somehow. We felt like we had good ideas, but no outlet.

A few months ago we discovered a resource that has allowed us to build an online gift shop featuring our designs. There was no cost to develop the site and there are many products available from the manufacturer. These products can be purchased one at a time or a few at a time so there's no bulk ordering required. And the manufacturer handles all the orders, processing the payment, creating the goods, and shipping directly to the recipient! It seems we found our perfect solution - an online store where we can promote our designs, help improve how the world thinks, and make some money. All this at no cost to us. We are thrilled!

So, we have established two online gift shops - one for evangelical designs at and one for motivational designs at I hope that you will take a look and see if any of our designs encourage you to think more positively and enjoy each day!
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