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!