Friday, November 25, 2016

When Silence Is Loud Enough Your Inner Voice Whispers

"Words, words, words! So many words! 
They are wearisome things; and yet people cannot refrain from speaking."
~ Ecclesiastes 1: 8a

Silence. My ears rang loudly as I sat in my room this morning. Ears get so used to continuous sounds that in the absence of noise, they strain. Why are my surroundings so quiet? Well, the kids are with my parents and for the first time in awhile I've more significant time to myself. So I spent much of today taking a break from my own physical voice and from the voices of others. The megaphone of facebook media and news is too brazen for me at the moment. Today, silence was loud enough.

So I listened to coffee brew and my stomach rumble. I heard my cat softly walk through our home today. Do you know how quiet it has to be to hear those little pads connect with the carpet? Wow! Sounds that often take a backseat to the day have been ushered up front and placed center stage. Especially nice was simply hearing my own mental voice. I listened as my inner voice read Ecclesiastes, as it pondered Sarah Kay's "Useless Bay" poem and contemplate how there is no map in life - only a compass, as shared by Jason Silvia in his video, "The answer is love. The answer is yes." This day has been about me and taking time to ring out the sponged up emotions I've absorbed from others over the past few months. And at the end of these hours my little inner voice whispered, "you are doing just fine." *deep sigh*

You see, true reflective perspective reminded me of this truth: I'm not the cause of all the problems going on around me nor am I the solution. Trivial? Obvious? Well, maybe. But for this problem-solver's mind, a mind who has spent too much time lately hearing everyone else's voice shout over her own, that simple truth brings me deep, joyful peace today.

I'm thankful to God for time of silence, the time of metaphor musing and for the Compass. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Journaling Between Generations

Yesterday, my daughter and I went shopping together and, as always, I had such a great time with her! We shopped for Christmas gifts at a local book store, had several mini-heart palpatations over prices of different STEM games, and loaded down our rolling baskets with way too many cute items from a store called "5 Below." Do you have that store where you live? *Beware*

At the beginning of our mother daughter time, among a bunch of other eye-catcher items on clearance in the entryway, we found this journal. The timing of this little treasure was perfect because we had just talked about starting a journal of some kind together. (Thanks YaYa for that idea!) I love this idea of journaling between generations because it allows each of us to express ourselves in a deeper way and creates an heirloom piece of sorts. By comparing generational perspectives in a journal, I hope we can continue building safe places for us to express all the things we are going through in our lives at the moment. Plus, this journal has prompts!

I wrote my first entry this morning and will pass it on to my girl today for her to jot down her thoughts. Maybe this creative idea would be ideal for someone in your life too? After all, anyone could do this...father-son, sister-sister, best friends, or wife-husband. :)

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Jen and Brandon Hatmaker's posts have been on my mind, in my prayers, and a part of my coffee cozy times. Maybe all of the hullabaloo blew right over you but I’ve wrestled! And my two days of deep reflection have combined into the following post...a post which is probably not the answer of "yes, I agree with them" or "no, they got it wrong" that you may be expecting.

God spent time reminded me that my life equals to a "snap of the finger" in the span of time. He has whispered to my heart, "Do you really desire to spend it in controversy?" 

Uh, no, Lord!

So instead, He says...

A) Read my Word
B) From it build your convictions on how YOU should live for Me
C) Then live it

Those three things in themselves are a huge undertaking! In this American culture of fb complaining and twitter finger-pointing, it is so easy to get things tilted. But today God brought me again to Jesus' words to Peter in John 21:21-22 where he basically said to get my eyes off others and "...You follow me!" So I will be A, B, and C'n it and will encourage others to A, B, and C it themselves. 

James 4:11-13 (TLB), “Don’t criticize and speak evil about each other, dear brothers. If you do, you will be fighting against God’s law of loving one another, declaring it is wrong. But your job is not to decide whether this law is right or wrong, but to obey it. Only He who made the law can rightly judge among us. He alone decides to save us or destroy. So what right do you have to judge or criticize others?”

What a fool's errand it is to try to apply scripture, like you would a Band-Aid, onto the life of someone else. Each of us has the choice to read the bible (or not) and apply it (or not). At the end of days, I don't believe you will be there advocating or condemning me nor I, you. Each of us will stand to give account of our life and decisions only.

In light of this, pardon me as I leave this conversation right here to instead focus on the A, B, and C above. 

May you be blessed. May your hope be in Jesus. May your life follow his Word. And as you stand to give account someday, may you be found to be in Him.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Secret Joy of Secret Giving Longterm

During the holiday season, we brainstorm together how to help...the homeless in downtown, the forgotten senior in the nursing home around the corner, or the fatherless in group homes who don't even realize even exist in our own neighborhoods.

Something about the timing & grandness of our "help" seems so...well counterfeit. We know planning a huge coat drive/food drive/toy drive meets "our" instant gratification and helps a few folks...but what about when they need help in January, or April, or some random weekend in June? Maybe a secret commitment to a cause for 6 months/year could really change someone's life...maybe it could even change YOUR life!

Are we not more like the people Jesus spoke about who give a tiny part of our "surplus"??? Mark 12: 42-44

Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT) Teaching about Giving to the Needy
Jesus said, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

I'm not saying I'm not guilty. I'm very guilty...which is why God probably put it on my heart to write today and challenge myself and others. :) But you may be asking yourself...when is she going to get to the "secret joy" part?

Deuteronomy 15:10 "Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do."

Galatians 5:22 "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness..."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"The Creative Meltdown"

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ― Thomas Merton

My daughter and I went to "The Creative Meltdown" last night. This unique event was a solo art exhibition of Lindsey Strehlow, author of the Creative Souls Blog. Her heart-stirring paintings, scultptures, and dance-designed art are meant to provide a glimpse into what it is like to live with both creativity and mental illness. I hope you'll check out this artist online or at any upcoming exhibits because these few photos will never do her work justice. 

One wonderful aspect of last night was to be reminded that art is created to make us feel something and is not just a meal for our eyes. In fact the sculpture below brought me feelings of whimsy giddy! However, I journeyed around the entire room and had many unspoken conversations with certain pieces. I met a few times with two paintings positioned on opposite walls. (paintings above) Viewing them was so rewarding the first time that I wandered over again to each one and enjoyed their company even further. The textures, shimmer, brush stroke motions, moving. After our time together I found myself feeling more smoothed out and unruffled.


Last night the art, and people, that pulled me close into conversations had movement, deepth, and understanding. I especially loved the moments spent with my elegant friend, Maryanne, who shared about the art that spoke to her. Suddenly I realized that I was moved by those specific pieces because they give me feelings opposite to how I feel as I work to climb out of the boxes society and culture tosses me into each day. I'm a creative. I will always long to follow His Spirit, for trust and truth, and for grace-filled relationships. So during the quiet reflection of my Coffee & Cozy time this morning, two reminders were whispered: 

  • to keep myself fluid and soft 
  • to remain bold and vulnerable, especially when so many are watching (Lindsey taught me that)

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"Mom, I need money!" - Teen/Tween Chore Chart

When it comes to being a single mom, in my book, household chores are everyone's responsibility. I've expressed to my teen and tween that we have to work as a TEAM to keep the house flowing smoothly! However, I do still want my kids to learn the value of working hard and earning money. 

Last week I created a chore chart for them to have a way to earn some spending and saving cash. I prayed, looked at my budget, and decided to set aside $50 a month that I'm willing to pay for certain chores. My kids can each earn (in $5 increments) between $20-$25 in a month. I designed it so that some chores could be fairly easy while others are more challenging then split chores into sections of monthly and weekly.  

This list is easily adjustable with the seasons or within any given month. I implemented the chart this month and so far one kid has earned $10 and another $15. That equals 5 different additional chores completed by my kids (the cat litter boxes, all the vacuuming, and all the outdoor sweeping and cobwebs) and these are on top of the others they natural do. That helps me out, for real. Woo-hoo!!!  After they complete a chore, I simply write their name in the corresponding box that shows they've completed it and pass them five bucks! Easy-breezy. Below is the chart I created.

I do state that they can only do one per week but I have let them complete multiple "monthly" ones, like all the sweeping, so it could be all done at one time.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fall Season: To-do Ideas

With the coming of September, both I and my kids have been chatting about fall activities. In light of these talks, I put together some tween/teen focused ideas for my family for the Fall season. It's been fun to search for fresh, local events happening throughout September, October, and November. Here is a quick list of our fun plans:


·  S’mores and Scary Movie Night

·  Zombie Apocalypse Paintball (Zom-pocalypse)

·  Conquer a Corn Maze together at night

·  Tent Camping/Glamping

·  Take Evening Walks as a Family

·  Decorate the Front Yard for the Holidays

·  Anime/ComicCon Annual Convention

·  Visit a Haunted House

·  Deliver Goodies to Local Fire department

·  Have a Family Pumpk'n Chunk'n Competition 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Resting In Peace: Planning for Your Family

Acts 2:25-27 (NLT) "...‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.

Can we talk about a topic that is generally uncomfortable yet really a justifiable one to tackle? Well, since both adoptions are now final, it's clearly time for me to get life insurance, create my legal wills and plan funeral arrangements. I know, not the happiest of thoughts, right? BUT as an adult, and especially as a parent, it's simply the responsible thing to do! Did you ever realize there are actually scriptures in the bible where some people did their "funeral planning" ahead of time too? Check this out:
  • Genesis 23, Genesis 47:29-30, Genesis 50:5, Genesis 50:25
  • 1 Kings 13:30-32

As I look at my children and how much loss they've already experienced in their short lives, the LAST thing I want is for them to experience my passing anytime soon. However, the fact is we simply never know what the future holds. Because of this, my ISTJ personality is constantly bugging me to be diligent to put anything I can in place to protect and support my kids if the unexpected happens.

No matter what age my children actually are when I pass away, they will be going through enough hard emotions and I don't want them to have the added stress of planning or financial worry. Besides, the fact is that setting up guardianship is super important to me and my kids since they've been adopted. My hope is that after reading this other people will go ahead and do their planning too. I'm guessing that married folks often have their spouses to lean on but sometimes singles don't have the same kind of support because maybe parents and siblings don't like to be involved, don't like think about this, or just aren't around. This kind of planning can be overwhelming and weigh heavy so since I just waded through this process I wanted to share the load and hopeful take some of the "where do I begin" feelings away. One of the great things about doing this planning is that once it is's done and you can move on your happy way with nary another reason to revisit unless some huge life event happens.

Things to do: 

Create a Last Will and Living Will:
A last will and testament is a legal document that lets you, the testator (the person making the will), designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away. These individuals and charities are commonly referred to as beneficiaries in your last will. A last will also allows you to name a guardian to care for minor children. The main purpose of a will is to ensure that the testator's wishes, and not the default laws of the state, will be followed upon the testator's death.
Read more at:
A last will and testament is a legal document that lets you, the testator (the person making the will), designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away. These individuals and charities are commonly referred to as beneficiaries in your last will. A last will also allows you to name a guardian to care for minor children. The main purpose of a will is to ensure that the testator's wishes, and not the default laws of the state, will be followed upon the testator's death.
Read more at:
A last will and testament is a legal document that lets you, the testator (the person making the will), designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away. These individuals and charities are commonly referred to as beneficiaries in your last will. A last will also allows you to name a guardian to care for minor children. The main purpose of a will is to ensure that the testator's wishes, and not the default laws of the state, will be followed upon the testator's death.
Read more at:
Mostly, in a last will, you direct your estate (gifts, property, electronic photos/accounts, etc.) and name guardianship of minors (and even pets). A Living will is an advance directive to physicians and family wherein you state your wishes for end-of-life medical care. Many hospitals and some funeral homes have living will forms you can pick up. To make drafting my Will easier on myself, I'm using a respected online service where I fill in my responses for a lawyer's review and then I can print and have the documents notarized. It has made the process fairly easy-breezy. Once these documents are completed, they need to go in the safest place you have (fire safe box or safety deposit box are the best). And a couple of trusted people need to know where to find it or have a copy!    

Plan Funeral Arrangements:
As I was working through my "Last Will" form, there is a section for funeral arrangement details. You can skip this section on the paperwork if you are not ready to place information there but I decided to go ahead and make arrangements so that my funeral wishes are in my actual paperwork. Although you can do a ton of planning, here's a quick top 5 things to consider and decide upon:
  1. Casket burial (usually a funeral) or cremation (memorial service). I found this article to be helpful. Also, you might want to decide if you want a viewing. It's a good thing to talk through with family.
  2. Who would you like to officiate your service?
  3. Any special songs, poems, scriptures to be read.
  4. Location for the service to be held: funeral home, graveside service, celebration of life gathering?
  5. If there is a specific cemetery for your final resting place or some other directive for your ashes if cremated.
I was surprised at how strong my feelings were about specifics on funeral planning. I want the person officiating my service to actually know me personally, a friend who understands me and my convictions and who also knows my children. I reached out to a dear friend of my family and asked him if he would officiate and I'm blessed that he agreed. I have the simple requests of the reading of a Psalm that is special to me...Ps. 116, and for a Trinity dove release which is where 3 doves are released to symbolize the Trinity and a moment later a single dove representing me is released to join them, circle above and fly away. Currently I plan to put aside the cost of the trinity release. I used to own white doves and they were lovely so the symbolism fits me perfectly. 

You can begin by contacting a funeral home director to get started but because I desire to have a more natural burial, and since "green burials and cemeteries" haven't quite made it to my neck of the woods yet and aren't as well known, it was easier for me to call a cemetery and ask them directly if they had the option of something called a hybrid burial ground. A hybrid burial ground is fancy wording for a conventional cemetery that has a section which allows for burial without an outer burial container or allows for burial in any type of container. Personally, I like the thought of a tree as a marker for my final resting place and I actually found a cemetery close to my home that offers the hybrid option with trees already in place as well as the option for me to use something like a BioUrn. If you do prefer cremation, here is a link to some forms to consider preparing ahead of time: Forms

No doubt, the thought of going there to "pick a spot" brings up so much emotion inside me. But I have an appointment to visit there. Honestly, I do see and trust how God is guiding me, especially once I saw that the address of the cemetery was on Cardinal Lane. (this story will show you why that is meaningful) Now I'm going to work with my contact there, whose family also happens to run a funeral home as well, and I will make those arrangements to knock out that cost early. In Texas (as in most states) there is also a website where you can verify a funeral home (or directors') license if you'd like that added peace of mind. If you have any questions, or need someone to talk to about this kind of planning, please feel free to reach out to me or comment.

Ultimately, once paperwork is signed and arrangements are made, I will not forget that the words, "my body rests in hope" will be the final conclusion. I want my kids to have peace, not just because the preparations were all made, but in the fact that when my body rests, my soul is set because my hope rests solely in Jesus' return for me. And that beloved, is truly resting in peace. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ephesians 5:16 - Making The Most of Every Opportunity

Five years ago I created a personalized license plate with the thought that at least one time in my life it would be cool to have one. Ha. However at the time of its creation, little did I know all the ways God would use my little "OHYAY" plate to encourage others! Some times I glance in my rear view mirror to see people pointing at my license plate and smiling. At red lights, crosswalk pedestrians have walked by and given me a thumbs up or laughed. I've also seen passengers taking photos of it as I cruise the highway and once I even found a note left on my windshield saying that every time they see my car they smile.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After all, God used my previous car 7 years ago to reach people in my community when He placed my little "car ministry" in the path of those who desperately needed prayer. (click the green link to read that story) This week I've had the chance to decide whether simply to keep the plates the state will send me for my new car or to use this opportunity again. 

To help decide, I began to play around with some ideas, get input and pray, pray, pray. Some amazing options were available in customizing a plate! Some examples I could choose were: MYJESUS, GIVE LUV, UZME LRD, JC ISLRD, PRAY 2HM, and BELOVED. As I talked to a few creatives and those who know me well, the consensus was that BE LOVED was the best choice. However, my heart was still unsettled. Then yesterday I spoke to my daughter about one other plate idea I had been considering and she said, "That one!!!!, Yeah that's the one." 

As I prayed over all these top choices on my ride to work today, God began to press on my heart that the message should focus not only on strengthening but should be universal. (not just for the beloved) Considering all that is going on in the country and the extreme burdens many individuals are facing the choice became clear. He lead me to the perfect license plate and it should arrive in 3-4 weeks. 

My prayer is for everyone who sees it...that it is fitting to inspire them as well as remind the beloved of a cherished that God has personally brought up this year over and over again. 

"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time
we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."

Galatians 6:9