Thursday, May 19, 2016


It seems my voice has been drowned out by my own thoughts.  The busier I become, a slave to my own ideals and expectations, the more I seem to push writing to the wayside.  What purpose do my words play in the big, old blogosphere?  I don't know.  I don't know that even matters.  However, I do know I will not find my true, authentic voice unless I write.  I will only be silenced by the onslaught of picture perfect Instagram posts, followed by links to blogs that inspire and make me aspire. . .but stifle my onslaught of words.

Sometimes it seems my words are all I have to offer as a gift to a hurting friend, a confused child, an angry person, or my best friend.  Writing for me is an undisciplined practice, a dream that was born in my heart as a child who filled journal after journal with stories I now share with my own kids.  Where did that dream go? Did it die because it wasn't practical?  It wasn't an easy feat so I locked the memory in the deep recesses of my mind?  I don't know.  I don't know that I'm the same writer today, anyways.  Fiction seems a far away avenue that I wouldn't even know how to begin.  I'm an avid reader, but a writer?  Not so much these days.

Is it a book contract that makes ones words matter more than someone else's?  Or is the writer offering a glimpse into their world that should be accepted as an invitation to understand them from their perspective? Again, I don't know.  I do know I've been silent for too long now in this space.  I also know that my thoughts don't stop just because I haven't written any of them down.  So today I write some words.  Maybe tomorrow I'll write some more.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Breaking Dawn

With each new dawn, comes an invitation to be a better version of yourself than you were the day before.  Each day is filled with beauty, wonder, mess, madness, and enough grace to cover a multitude of sin.  That old adage, everything looks better in the morning, may not, it turns out, be true.  It may not look better, but it is your chance to do better.

Of this I am certain: we will live and we will die.  All the breathing that is done between those breaths will likely build up and tear down. . .on a day to day basis.  This is life.  Offenses that offend, slips of the tongue, attitude adjustments, tone of voice needing to be taken down a notch all in the course of the first hour of our feet hitting the floor!  All of these infractions causing a slow death of self over the course of a long, sometimes very long day.

But God. It is only when we lean in to the pain, we heed our Father's voice, we ignore the critiques or criticisms of others, we trust that where we are right now is exactly where we need to be. . .only then, can we view the dawning of a new day as an opportunity to do better. To be better.  We can rest knowing He directs our paths.  He holds us in the palm of His hand.  He is cheering us on to complete another day, no matter how good we handle it or how badly we blow it.  He already knows tomorrow is a new day filled with unlimited opportunity. . .to do better.  To be better.

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.--Hebrews 4:16

Whatever you're going through right now, before you even open your eyes from slumber, pray that God would help you be the best version of yourself for today.  Pray that you would feel his mercy and grace cover you, as soft as your favorite blanket.  Only then, get up out of that bed to face today with a confidence that you've got this.  You and Him are a team and together you can do anything!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top Two Tuesday

Today's top two thoughts:

  • Faith is caught not taught. Children are always watching. Living lives we want our kids to exemplify in a way that is aligned with our values and faith is of utmost importance to me.  It makes me think of a song we used to sing in church: 

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they'll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love.
Let them know us by our love.

  • Racism is real.  As if that alone isn't heartbreaking enough, it shatters me to my core that there are elementary aged children who already carry out this message of hate.  Shatters me.  Just as faith is caught, so are the ugly, dark messages of hate passed down from one generation to the next.  So devastatingly sad. . .But God.  He already knows how this pains my heart and the hearts of my children and He is enough.  He says we are enough.  He sees no color, only love. Let them, the rest of them, know us by our love. . . because it is real.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Silent Invitation

It sits on an antique checker table owned by my great aunt beside my comfy faux leather recliner.  Some days it is on the bottom of a stack forgotten by other books I'm reading.  Too many times it goes unopened as my cell phone houses my daily devotions and one year bible reading plan. Yet, when all is tidy, books put in their proper place, it clearly sits there with a silent invitation.  Come here, open me.  Let me speak love, wisdom, and truth into your day.  Let me inspire, motivate, give you hope and a future.  

The bible beckons all of us.  No matter the day, the circumstances, the weather. . .a bible is that silent invitation that serves to entice us into a relational world with our Father.  I've found God has a tendency to speak loudest in the silence. . .to be doing the most work in the gaps.  He has this way of directing what I need to hear with what I read when I flip open to see how He will speak to me just because. It's a bible roulette, so to speak.  Tell me I'm not the only one who plays this way!

We are all waiting for that next invitation to be included, to celebrate, to interact with friends or family, to be engaged with a community for a common purpose.  But God.  His invitation is a silent one.  It comes in the form of His book, the bible.  It is just waiting to speak to you whether it is in the middle of your mess and chaos, or in the center of jubilant times where all is well. He is there.

I'm a word girl.  I might not be the word girl who knows bible verses verbatim, but I am the girl who knows where to go to find the words I need.  Today I'm vocalizing the silent invitation.  I'm inviting you to crack your bible open and see what He speaks into your heart and soul.  It might just change you forever for good, but it starts with an invitation.  Consider yourself invited!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Quick Lit

I'm always looking for good books to read, and Anne's recommendations usually do not disappoint.  I thought you might be looking too so I wanted to share what I'm thumbing through this week.
 I am making my way very slowly through The Fringe Hours, The Life Giving Home, and Hands Free Life. They are the types of books that require deep thought and reflection.  They can't be rushed through because there is simply too much to ponder and journal.  Reading through them has become one of my favorite parts of my day.  I usually read when all is quiet and I have time to take notes, highlight, or journal. These are the books I devour a chapter at a time and then sit. Their words resonate within and land on soft spots of my heart.

This week I have my Mom's group at church so I will read Priority Four of Walking With Purpose.  We move one priority per month through this book.  I enjoy the pacing.  I love the discussion among mamas who have gone before me and those still in the trenches. This Catholic mama lays a foundation of priorities that gently help you to prioritize your own life without being preachy or acting like it is an exact science, which we all can agree it isn't!

Although I finished Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, it is still very much on my mind and I find myself going back and flipping through to see what jumps out at me.  This is a read that I believe will be life changing if you are in the throes of raising children.  I can not recommend it enough.

As you can see, all of these are non-fiction.  While I love learning, I also enjoy reading for the sheer enjoyment it brings; however, nothing has really stood out to me lately. With that in mind, I decided to jump in to The Mother Daughter Book Club I purchased these a year ago Easter, but neither my daughter nor me has dug in.  I'm hopeful they will be engaging and it will be a series I want to read through since I do happen to have ALL the books.  That means no waiting at the library for books to come in.  It's those little things that make me happy. . .so very, very happy!

We are almost through with our read aloud of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  I'm not loving it, but I am curious to see where it ends up. Reading is one of those solo activities that brings me joy.  I love being drawn in and engulfed in a good story.  I'm about to go browse some of your selections for a good fiction book.  I'm hungry for a good read.  I feel like it has been awhile!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mom Hearts Matter

This weekend history repeated itself and found me at a Mom Heart Conference. . .solo.  It's ironic that I was alone as this is the last year of this type of conference, so I finished exactly the same way I started.

Not much has changed in the past five years as far as stepping out of my comfort zone when it came to being alone.  I wasn't a fan of the idea, but I was obedient and went even when my babysitting fell apart and my husband had to work.  I knew I was supposed to be there even though it may have been easier not to go. But everything has changed in terms of how I mother, and my ideals and standards for my kids.  This night away filled me up, inspired me, and reminded me that I am not alone in my ideals.  I may have not known anyone but I was supported by over 300 women who have similar values and ideals when it comes to creating a Life Giving Home.   In my absence of company, I was reminded of so many truths that I needed to hear again:

  • You can't accomplish anything of value without investing greatly.
  • Decide before your darkest time to be faithful through your darkest time.  
  • My home is my glory. It is a refuge in time of storm.  It is a light post of love and beauty.
  • Pass on the message you want to live.
  • Teach our kids the habit of: working, taking initiative, and stepping out in faith.
  • Order our life with what I want them to embrace.
  • Trust God to do more than I can do.
  • Kids will make mistakes that don't define their lives any more than it defines mine.
  • Give my kids the freedom to be whom they are meant to be.
  • My investment in eternity will always matter.

Over the course of the last five years, I have led book studies in my home thanks to Sally Clarkson's mentorship.  I have become a co-leader of the Mom"s group at our church.  I never for a second saw that coming.  I'm able to use what I've learned at conferences and through Sally's books to educate, inspire, and lead in my own way.  Five years ago I entered that conference alone and I walked out to go on to create a community of support for moms simply because Sally gave us an invitation to go and spread her message.  I simply invited women into my home.  It was that easy.  One never knows what words will land on fertile soil. I am grateful for the years of messages Sally has spoken.  I am thankful I found her on an internet that is so vast!  Five years ago a shift occurred in my parenting, my view of my role as mom, and my children's lives have changed for the better because of this shift.

Our family doesn't look like hers: it's not supposed to.  It's our version of our own story we are co-authoring. It's a story that has eraser marks and revisions.  It is a total work in progress, but I am sure it will be the best book ever written...because my kids are the best story I have ever written.  It's as messy as it is beautiful. It's ours.

By wisdom a house is built,
         And by understanding it is established;

4And by knowledge the rooms are filled
         With all precious and pleasant riches.--
Proverbs 24:3

In honor of Sally's influence over my life, I'm revisiting all I've learned through my years of conference attendance:

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Last Year I can't find a post about the conference, but Sally's son Nathan released a movie that was kind of a big deal in our house.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


As today begins our Lenten season, I've spent some time reflecting on what I need to subtract from the soundtrack of our lives to keep our focus solely on our Father.  I've started off this year with some fabulous reads--books about savoring slow, being hands-free and more intentional, breaking up with busy, and creating a life giving home.  With all these books swirling through my brain, I can't help but know I'm in a season that I need to put down my phone.

So for me, giving up a mindless scroll through social media is going to be hard.  Waking up and reaching for my bible before my phone to check email, even harder.  I've gotten out of practice.  I need to use this Lenten season to renew my mind and refocus my attention on who matters most.  It is only through Him that everything else flows.  My attention needs a season of solely focusing on him and his place first and foremost at the center of our lives.

We are in a season that my modeling of mindful device usage will speak louder than my words.  We are in a season that if we want them (tweens and teen) to keep talking to us, we have to be ready to listen.  My eyes need to meet theirs as they tell me their stories. My enthusiasm has to be real not forced because I'm distracted.  Life on the other side of the email notifications and text message is not an emergency.  It just isn't.  Once upon a long time ago, all of this information wasn't readily available at our finger tips.  All of this noise wasn't sucking the time away, literally stealing it right from underneath us.

Lent is a season of restoration to prepare for the miracle of the resurrection.  I want my own miracle of sorts. I want a different kind of resurrection to fully embrace the real life being lived right before my eyes.  It will take restraint.  It will take a different kind of sacrifice--not being in the know, being out of touch with the instant updates from family and friends. . .but it will restore my mental white space.  It will give me the margins I so desperately need this year.

Lent is so much more than what we're going to give up.  It's about what can we add into the tapestry of our life that is going to grow us closer to God.  I'm on this continuous path of discovery to deepen that relationship and I feel certain that withdrawing from social media in this season is the right way to go about deepening that bond.  What about you?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Sometimes it is in the serving that we are served our largest portion.  Sometimes it's not so much about the serving, but the thought, care, consideration, and prayer that leads up to the act of service that matters most. It is in our caring for and serving others that we use our unique gifts and strengths.  It is a servant heart that knows in order to really live, we must be willing to give.  As long as there is breath to breathe, there is life to live which means there is more to give--of ourselves, our resources, our time, our treasures.  In order to really live, we must be willing to give.

There is no fancy formula.  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.--1 Corinthians 15:58

It is in the giving of ourselves that we are transformed into Jesus' hands and feet.  It might be our service that soothes and softens hearts. One simple act may open a blind eye to see their value and worth.  We just might become a part of a monumental shift in someone's thinking, in their way of doing life. We might have contributed to adding another disciple to this broken, bleak, weary world.  And to think: it all started with a simple servant heart.

My brothers and sisters, give to live!

Monday, February 1, 2016

New Month. . .New Beginnings

I love the look of a freshly turned page in my calendar.  There's usually so much more white space, such opportunity for my days, and for our time together.  A fresh new month means the ability to set some new goals, fine tune older ones, and a feeling of refreshment for the days that await, making them what you will.

I've always liked February.  It's a shorter month.  It houses Valentine's Day, which my mom always made super special.  In ten days, Lent begins.  I love the thought process I endure in choosing to add or subtract during this season of preparation.  This year I'm feeling a calling to do a little more in terms of service.  With the homeless shelter at our church during the next two weeks, it sets me up with plenty of opportunity to serve and so I think that will be my theme this Lenten season.

What is currently saving my life, dramatic I know. . .but still, Modern Mrs. Darcy made me think about it:

  • A thought provoking book and an occasional glass of wine.  I'm still looking for a Pinot Noir I love, being the newbie I am, but half the fun has been in the sampling of new brands. Sometimes at the end of a long day, thirty minutes with these two makes me feel like a brand new woman.

  •  Teaching my writing classes.  I am so blessed to teach what I love to good kids who appreciate our time together.  Teaching is part of who I am.  I would be lost without this little gig.

  •  Visits with this little angel throughout my week keep me afloat.  I can not tell you what it means to have her only a couple of blocks away.  I just adore her.  Who knew having a niece would bring such amazing joy?

  •  I can not believe I'm saying this, but running is turning out to be a good thing in my life.  It gets me outside noticing God's creation.  It fills my lungs with gratitude for breath.  It pushes me to beat the times of my kids' miles.  I've come to care about my relationship with running.  Maybe it's simply that now that I am in my forties, I appreciate that my body still works and I am more aware of my need to keep it this way.

  • My friends make me appreciate the true bonds of friendship.  They are the ones who carve time out of life to create space for gathering and celebrating.  They are the ones who I laugh and commiserate with.  They are turning 40 with me so we smile and show forty what we are made of!

Although our California weather is pretty beautiful, just a little chillier than normal, the winter season can drag on and dry me out.  I'm feeling neither yet so I am grateful.  February has so much potential. . .starting now!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Your Invitation Matters

I watched my tween expand her wings some this week.  I've encouraged her to go to the youth group at church for awhile now, but I don't push it.  If I've learned anything in these 40 years it's relationship over religion.  More than anything I want my kids to develop their own personal relationship with God.  That won't happen better or faster if I constantly force religious type activities.  Youth group falls under that list.

But as God would have it, a few weeks ago I dropped off our Mom Group book to a mom who has recently moved to the area and had baby #7.  We enjoyed a visit while I was there and found out our girls do somewhat know each other at their public school.  This particular mom talked about youth group and her daughter's involvement, she encouraged me to tell my daughter to try it. So of course I brought that up when I tucked her in that night.  She looked skeptically at me.  Now at least she knew someone, I suggested--she didn't agree or disagree.  As is my nature on this topic, I didn't push.

After some minor friend hurt at school this week, she told me she thought maybe she should try out that youth group thing.  I smiled and said I'd look into it so I made arrangements that she could attend.  As luck would have it, the one girl she knew happened to go home sick the day before the meeting.  She asked me if I might text her mom to see how she was feeling. . .and if she was going to youth group.  I didn't have a chance between pickups and volleyball.  So as the hour approached she nervously wavered whether or not she would go.  Ultimately she did.

God met her there.  She found a new community of peers with a similar belief system where she felt she belonged.  The drama that had dragged her down earlier in the week was forgotten as she excitedly recounted what they had learned and talked about.  She was bursting with energy and enthusiasm and I couldn't help but smile and feel my heart grow with appreciation for something that I've prayed about for a long time now.  At twelve, my daughter is on the cusp of discovering who Jesus is to her.  It is here that the foundation we've laid can deepen because of her own beliefs about who her God is.  That is both exciting and terrifying to me!

She is growing up.  The day after the meeting she accepted the girl's apology who had hurt her feelings. She forgave her.  She marked her calendar for the next youth group date.  And all I did was watch from the sidelines.  She was figuring the hard stuff out on her own.

I realized it doesn't matter if you're 5, 12, 20, or 40. . .an invitation from someone you know to do some new thing or go to a new place is softened when it starts with an invite. My tween tried something new because just the thought of a familiar face comforted and intrigued her.  She will go back because the group encouraged and asked her to.  Invitations are always nice to receive and one never knows what treasures will result from accepting the invite.  Who might you offer an invitation to today?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Day Dreamer

Sometimes I'm in awe of  dreamers my age.  I'm in even more awe as I watch and listen to the dreams of my children around the dinner table or after they've been tucked in at night.  Their dreams are so big and crazy and a little bit impractical perhaps, but they voice them aloud as if they might actually take flight.  They believe in their spoken words.  They believe that the dream has the potential to be reached if they work hard and it is God's plan for their life.  Their dreams have no boundaries.  They are limitless.  Their dreams are simply magic.

Yet, here I sit seeking some kind of direction for this next phase of life.  If I allow myself to really dream big, there is this whisper called wisdom that sneaks into my reverie and pulls me out of the clouds.  There are all of these reasons why my dream might not "work."  The red tape, the season of life we're in, the lack of connections, resources, etcetera, etcetera. I just want that voice to be silenced.  I want those moments of full fletched dreaming big no matter how far fetched and out of this world dreams may be.  Because with God anything is possible.  

Isn't this the lesson we've inundated our children with?  Aren't there bible verses that support this truth?  
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."Matthew 19:26
For with God nothing shall be impossible.--Luke 1:37
And of course, Bubba's life verse: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.--Philipians 4:13

If I believe these to be true, why not allow myself to dream outside the box?  The magic of a moment will be better than not having experienced it at all.  Maybe a dream is like a seed.  It has to be planted and watered to bear a bloom or fruit.  Perhaps nothing can develop of a dream if it is simply buried in the recesses of the mind, or saved for another time in our life that might better suit it.  Perhaps the dream alone is the best part of the process.  It is in this stage that we can imagine, explore, build, design and let our imaginations run wild with possibility.  The dream might just be enough. . .even if nothing ever comes from it.  

Dreams.  I'm in the middle of living the best one I have physically ever birthed.  However, the dreams that reside in the recesses of my mind are bursting with possibility and potential.  It's time I invite them out to play, even if it's only for a day trip.  It's time.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Build it. . .

"Build it and they will come," found its way into my thoughts on my run this morning. It could have been the high school baseball field that I was running by that triggered that line from Costner's famous, "Field of Dreams," from years ago, but really it was such an odd line to ruminate on during the remainder of my miles. I'm not sure what exactly I'm in the process of building, but I feel it: kingdom kids, this blog, a more intentional future? Books recently causing me to take pause and let their words marinate in the depths of my soul include: Hands Free Life, Breaking BusyThe Fringe Hours, accompanied by a journal of sorts to discover a more fulfilled and more creative life, and The Abundant Moms Guide to Savoring Slow.

All of these books have a recurring theme: prioritizing life. What better time to do it than the start of a new year and decade of my life?  I'm not exactly sure how all these books came to be bedside, but I'm noticing the timing could not be better.  For too long, I've been trying to help my kids figure out their talents, and my husband follow his dream. . .it's my turn to put pen to paper, to dream, to be inspired, to learn something new, to be who God has created me to be.  I'm forty.  It's the perfect time to start digging deep and digging in.  Join me.  Let's do this dream work together.  I have this feeling. . ."If we build it they will come."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dream a Big Dream 2016

These days, my dreams have been revealing themselves to me, sometimes subtle. Sometimes full force, there is no denying they are there.  It seems as if the more I stepped out in faith, in quitting my job, taking in Ernie's brother, and co-leading MOMS at church, the more my eyes have been opened to unlimited possibilities that exist in my future.

When I was a young girl I enjoyed playing house, school, and Barbies.  It doesn't surprise me that eventually I wound up a teacher and then a work at home mom.  However, there were in between years where I dreamed of being a marine biologist. Unfortunately, in high school I realized the math and science that were involved and quickly changed my course.

Next on my dream list was to become a journalist.  I remember vividly, Communications Day, which was offered to Seniors at the college I would be attending that fall.  I breezed through my workshops, I took notes from speakers and by nightfall, I began to waver.  My self esteem battled with thoughts of: how many people really make it in this field?  You enjoy writing, but are you good enough?  And just like that, I changed course again and settled on teaching.  Because I knew what I wanted I was done in three and a half years, had a teaching job lined up at the age of twenty-one, and I never looked back.  I enjoyed what I did: four years at elementary, adult school, six at the high school, and six at middle school.  I was good at what I did.  Once upon a long time ago, my friend and I even told the Superintendent and Assistant Super that one day we would be doing what they were doing. And I probably would too, if I hadn't had kids.  For me, kids changed everything. . .for the best.

And so began my dream changing. . .I dreamed of working part time, and God answered my prayer.  Even though I didn't love the middle school level, I was still able to do what I was so good at, as well as be more present with my kids.  Four years into it, after a series of events, I dreamed of life at home with my kids.  It seemed like a pretty big dream to dream with a husband settling into a new career, but I dreamed and prayed about it anyways.  And again, God answered my prayer.  I would now only work one day a week for the next two years. It was the best of both worlds for awhile, but when they needed me to go back full time I decided to walk away. Seventeen years and I was ready for change. Dare I say, even excited about it!

The next year home would be me pouring into our youngest with homeschool, along with starting up my own writing business.  I would teach around the kitchen table for two hours a week with a hand full of students.  It has been very good for me to do what I enjoy, with kids who I enjoy, but I've recently been asking myself what do I want from this experience?  Is this experience preparing me for something else around the bend? Could I revisit my childhood dream of becoming a journalist.  Would my words written down on paper eventually become something more if I poured into that dream as much as I had poured into my education and the raising of our children?

I have no idea.
None.  I've been seeing and hearing from multiple sources all over social media that my story matters.  I am the author of it.  So today I will write.  Today I will dream about the impact of my words, even if it's only in the lives of my own family. May they always know they are the best stories I have ever written. They are enough.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Facing Forty

Back in the beginning of November, a new decade of my life was just beginning, yet I felt as if my blogging days might soon come to an end.  As much as I enjoyed having a completed book of memories come the end of December, the process was becoming tedious.

Then a couple of days before my Papa's death, two struggled, whispered words ignited a stirring in me. 
"Still here," is what my Papa said.  I believe these were the final words I ever heard from my last living grandparent after I asked how he was doing.  He had said these words often the last year of his life.  But on this day, November 4, 2015 my brain kicked into high gear and I was excited as thoughts seemed to swirl and connect.  His familiar answer had taken on a meaning all its own.

He may have passed two days later, from this life into the next one, but I was still here.  This was a personal invitation:
  • to love
  • to live
  • to inspire
  • to serve
His last words unexpectedly created in me a longing:  to pursue a place where I was free to be me.  His words reminded me of the legacy I will one day leave behind and gave me inspiration for a blog that is different from my family's adventures.  This is your invitation to join me on a journey of exploration, self-discovery, and anything else we might uncover along the way.  

Peace. . .