finding healing in the blue chair

I’m excited to start this series on inspirational people. As I mentioned in my first post of the new year: “The more I think about sharing stories from these great people, the more excited I get. Their stories look like many of ours: happy, raw, generous, painful, faithful, questioning.” What I find particularly interesting and inspiring about certain people is how they make a difference in the world, one way or another, without trying, without calling attention to themselves, without fanfare. People just ‘doin’ their thing’ and as a result, blessing others in the process.

Without further adieu, as they say, let’s get started!

As many, if not all of us know, sometimes life deals us a blow we didn’t expect. And let’s face it, sometimes those moments are rough. As we walk along on this earth, we all come across hard things. Difficult things. Sad things. It’s part of living. A mix of good and bad moments. What do you do with those rough, life-changing moments? Those experiences that may be harder than you ever imagined. Do we cry? Yes. Do we punch a pillow? Maybe. Do we work out harder than ever? (Not me, but if this is you – bravo!) Do we pray? Do we take our tears, our worries, our insecurities about what’s ahead, and our fears to the One who promises peace and healing? This is where Emily comes in.

Emily is an artist, to say the least. She is a creative soul who quietly and beautifully uses her talents as well as her life story to encourage others and worship God at the same time. Pretty cool, right? Emily is a designer who I found, thankfully, online. Funny how businesses can get started completely online now-a-days. Emily runs a business called “Blue Chair Blessing”. She creates, completely from scratch, a variety of shirts and artwork in sizes ranging from teeny little cards to large prints. The fact that she completely designs her work by hand is something I really respect. No clip art, no copying others’ work, just her own hand-sketches. She engages with her customers by quickly answering inquiries and sharing nuggets of faith and hope when people comment on her designs. Many times, when she posts a design or a scripture verse on facebook, someone will say “I need this right now-thank you!”

What draws me to her work is its simplicity and authenticity. After reading her story, I’m not surprised why I love her stuff. She was dealt a big life-changer that was certain to be painful, uncertain and scary. Walking through something like that is something I walked through myself many years ago. I remember having no idea what was coming next and I was fearful for my kids’ future, like she also shares on her page. She brought her insecurities and hurts about what was coming up in her life to Jesus and guess what? In return, God gave her a piece of scripture. Psalm 147:3. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” A promise for hope, love and healing. So much of her story resonates with mine because they are very similar.

Yes, we walk through some junk. A lot of junk. There’s garbage everywhere. There’s also beauty. A ton of beauty. Thank you, Emily, for sharing that beauty. Thank you for encouraging others and pointing everyone back to God as you do!

P.S. Here’s a quick snap of one of my very favorite shirts. Not only does it fit well, but the design on the front is spot-on. I had no idea how much people need to know this until I started wearing this shirt around. Every time I wear it, someone comments on it. I’m not wearing it to glean compliments, but to share a bit of encouragement. I also bought Blue Chair Blessing’s “LOVED 1 John 4:9” shirt. Actually, I bought four of them. One for me, one for my daughter, and one for each of my besties. ❤

Giving credit where it is due: Thanks to Emily at www.bluechairblessings.com for letting me share her story as well as for sharing her artistic gifting!

 

a blank year

I’m sitting right here. We tried a new location for our Christmas tree this year and as hard as it is sometimes to change tradition, this was a great change. It made for a very cozy, comfortably-lit corner. After I plopped down on the floor, opened my laptop, poured a glass of wine, (OK, my hubby poured it – details, details 😉 ), I looked around for a second and realized how nice it was to just sit here for a moment. Yes, there’s crumpled paper under the chair, but I don’t care. The big holiday push is past; we’ve eaten enough for a small city; (regular eating starts this week!), and I hung a completely blank calendar on the side of our fridge.

2018. It’s a blank canvas, a chapter completely unknown to anyone but God. After completing an online yoga class, I thought about what profound bits of wisdom I could share. I came up with nothing. Thinking about what I’ve been appreciating lately, one word did pop into my head. People. Everyone has a story-something great, something awful, something amazing, something hard. There are a plethora of incredible folks out there who inspire me daily. Usually, they inspire without intentionally doing so. Usually these are people who do things quietly and without fanfare. Not because they hope for fame and accolades, but because it’s just “the right thing to do”.

The more I think about sharing stories from these great people, the more excited I get. Their stories look like many of ours: happy, raw, generous, painful, faithful, questioning. The adjectives can go on and on. But instead of me doing all the talking, I’ll let their stories do that. The first story is in the works and will be up soon. Until then, happy “blank year” to you and yours…God bless!

do you hear what i hear?

I think a ‘good day’ is a day when I’ve learned something new. There’s a nice feeling of   accomplishment that comes with a bit more knowledge. Plus, ya’ never know when some random fact or skill may come in handy. Need to know all the words to the musical “Little Shop of Horrors” or how to clear a drain using baking soda and cream of tartar? I’m your gal.

But this post isn’t about random things I know. It’s about Christmas! Specifically, Christmas music. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how important music is to life in general. It’s good for the soul and for the brain. It is a part of our history, our development and our emotions. Ever hear a song and instantly become flooded with “swooshes” of memories? When I was pregnant, I used to play music to my ever-growing belly. And I can clearly remember the peaceful beauty of the “La La Dee Doo” song from my kids’ international lullaby cd they listened to as a babies.

Christmas songs are no different. What’s your favorite? Do you like the new ones or the traditional ones? Instrumental or vocal? As for me, my favorite is “Do You Hear What I Hear?” I’ve always liked the build-up from its simplistic beginning into the majesty at the end. I like the thought of a ‘little shepherd boy’ whispering an important message to the ‘mighty king’ about another King.

Did you know that many Christmas tunes are worship songs? Of course as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus, this makes sense. But did you also know that many Christmas songs are prayers as well? Such is the case for my favorite.

“Do You Hear What I Hear” was written in 1962 by songwriting couple Noel and Gloria Regney. Typically, Noel would write the music and his wife would write the lyrics. But in this case, they reversed their roles. Noel was walking the streets of New York, worrying about the current missile crisis between Russia and the United States. Noel had experienced World War II firsthand and he felt the current despair in the air.

It was the Christmas season and he had been asked to write a Christmas song. But how could he write a song to epitomize the joy of Christmas when all he was feeling was doom and gloom? On his way home, he spotted two mothers with their babies in strollers. The babies were smiling at each other. Noel thought they looked like two little lambs and he was inspired. As soon as he got home, he jotted down his lyrics and Gloria put the poetry to music. She has been quoted as saying, “Noel wrote a beautiful song and I wrote the music. We couldn’t sing it through; it broke us up. We cried. Our little song broke us up.”

Sometimes we sing the lyrics to a song without knowing what we’re really saying. Or maybe we only know the chorus, sing it loud and proud, but mumble the verses. Maybe we’re missing the point if we don’t listen closely. In an interview from 1985, when asked about “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Noel said, “I am amazed that people can think they know the song-and not know it is a prayer for peace. But we are so bombarded by sound and our attention spans are so short that we now listen only to catchy beginnings.”  Indeed.

“Listen to what I say. Pray for peace, people everywhere.”

Amen.

Giving credit where it is due:

www.franciscanmedia.org/do-you-hear-what-i-hear-the-story-behind-the-song/

https://historybecauseitshere.weebly.com/do-you-hear-what-i-hear.html

cd: ‘Lullabye: a collection”

Who loves ya’ baby?

Your child. Your sweetie. Your little one. A parent’s love for their children is almost indescribable. We love with nurturing kindness. We encourage with heartfelt enthusiasm. We comfort with a gentle touch. Our kisses heal boo-boos. Our songs bring on sleep. Although we are gentle at times, we also protect with the ferocity and strength of a lion and provide with everything we have.

Isn’t it amazing how much you can know about your children? When they are babies we know their smell (clean and otherwise)! As toddlers, we truly understand their jibber-jabber, or at least we make a grand attempt at deciphering. “Did he say poo-poo or boo-tiful?” We recognize backwards E’s and wobbly writing as our youngster’s handwriting develops. We can spot our own child’s call in a crowded park. We take pride in their smeary finger painting and hang their artwork on the fridge. Their smooches melt our hearts. We understand the looks on their faces. Their love fills us with joy. We can’t imagine anyone loving our sweetie more than we do.

Wrap your mind around this: there is someone. Our Heavenly Father, the Ultimate Father, loves your child more than you do.

When I first tried to fathom and understand this, I was worrying about a visit my children were having away from home. A dear friend reminded me that God protects our sweeties more than we ever possibly could. “Do you think you can worry more than God can handle?” she asked me. Now I don’t know about you, but I can worry with the best of them. I worry about finances. I worry about food, (too much and too little). I worry about weight and hair. I worry about educating my children. I worry about their safety and their spirituality. Any of these sound familiar? But worry is fear. Worried fear is not from God. It isn’t. He wants us to trust Him, especially in situations where we are separated from our children. God loves them and promises their protection. In faith, trust Him. Pray to Him when it gets hard. He knows. He understands our hearts when we drop off our children somewhere. He dropped off His child too.

God loves your children and guess what? You are His child too. Just like you know and love your kids, He knows and loves you! “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30) He understands your wants and needs. He recognizes your work, just like the wobbly lettering. He hears your calls just like in the crowded park. He takes pride in your accomplishments and your love also fills Him with joy.

Isn’t it cool to think about what a fabulous parent God is? God comforts us with warm sunshine on our face. He heals with grace and the promise of a fresh day. His songs bring peaceful slumber. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3) He protects us and provides for us. Who loves ya’ baby? Rejoice! God does! ❤

ice cream for dinner

It’s been awhile.
I know I’m not the only one who has done it.
Years ago it was popcorn. Cheap, filling and tasty.

My original plan was to blog today about a great veggie recipe I recently discovered and made twice so far. It’s delicious, easy, filling, economical and nutritious. Yay! A win all the way around! Then I had a conversation and things changed.

A dear friend with a heart of gold and passion for connecting with people asked me this afternoon what many people ask each other: “How are you?”. Of course I quickly replied, “Good! I’m good.” Which I actually was, on the surface. In the grand scheme of things, everything is good. Health is good. Work is good. Home is good. Family is good. Yep, good, good, good, good.

I’m not sure what this person saw but I know they have a knack for digging deeper. Not because they’re trying to mess with you, but because when they ask “How are you?” They truly want to know. We started talking about kids and came to the part about my husband and I stepping into the zone of “empty nesters”. My children are in college and although we keep in touch a lot, it’s ‘different’.

I knew it was coming. The days when Legos are packed up; piles of artwork on the counter put away; requests for tuck-ins stowed away in my mind’s drawer of precious memories. I knew someday the carpooling, packed calendar days, and laundry all over the floor would be ‘things of the past’, as they say.

Those days are now.

We spend less at the grocery store. I hardly have any laundry. My house is clean, tidy and quiet. (For those of you wanting to throw things at me right now, I’m sorry! I understand!) And it’s quiet. Too, too quiet.

I miss it all. A lot. Honestly I feel a bit lost and distracted. And then I feel sad. And because another friend knew they were my favorites and gave me some, I had original Good Humor Toasted Almond ice cream for dinner. They were saved in my freezer for someday when I needed it. Today was that day.

Comfort eating is not good for you. I know this and fight it when I feel sad. But some days…

So today it was ice cream for dinner. Tomorrow brings a fresh start to another day and I will eat better tomorrow. “Weeping may last through the night but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5. No worries. God’s grace provides the ‘do-over’ and I’ll try again.

I promise to make that healthy blog post next time!

Did I Say That?

Ever say something you wish you could jump out and grab back? I admit I hear myself say things and then ask myself “Who said that?” Raise your hand if you’ve said: “You’re wearing that?” “Because I said so.” “If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?” “I’m the parent, that’s why!”

But what about the icky, heavy, negative things that came out of your mouth you wish you hadn’t said? How about those phrases you promised yourself you would never say. No matter how hard we try, there is the instance when we’ve said the wrong thing.

I struggle with keeping my mouth shut sometimes and am, by no means, the epitome of self-control. Sometimes I look at myself and ask, “Where did that crazy woman come from? Who let the lunatic into my home?” But I am also learning a valuable lesson: God gives us a beautiful gift of grace. No matter how ugly our words may have been, every morning the sun rises and with it, His promise of a fresh start. A new day. Another chance. Our Heavenly Father piles on the love every single day and tells us to try again. When your heart calls to Him for help, He is there with a big hug and all the help you need for a “do-over”. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:12-14)


We can’t beat ourselves up for mistakes. After all, we are human and God knows we goof up. Our words have the potential to be the worst weapons available, but we can make amends with honest apologies and second chances. (Are you singing Veggie Tales right now? No? OK, maybe it’s just my crazy self.) Try again. Apologize for something you wish you hadn’t said and then soak in God’s grace. Improve the next time. Ever hear that phrase “When you’ve reached the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on”? Better yet, tie two knots around an old tire and swing! Swinging is fun and will make you feel young and free again.


God knows where you are. He speaks His love to us all the time, but sometimes we don’t listen. Instead of loudly announcing a suggestion, He softly whispers His ideas. Try this: sit quietly and listen. Deep down we can hear Him. God will show you what to do and say when you ask yourself, “Did I say that?”

The Accidental Tomato


My dad is a gardener. His mother was a gardener. Her father was a gardener. We always had a garden when I was a kid. We tried growing corn and other veggies. My mom loves geraniums. Her mom loved red begonias. As the phrase goes, gardening “is in my blood”. I’m not actually using blood to garden, like in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, but I think you know what I mean.


I love my little gardens. I like getting my fingers dirty and smelling the earth on my hands. There’s something grounding, (no pun intended), about digging a hole, putting in a plant and tending it into something either beautiful, nourishing, or both. As soon as my kids were big enough to ‘help’, I introduced them to a bit of gardening too. We had raspberries that grew out of control. My daughter picks pea pods off the plant and appreciates their freshness just like I do. We planted peanuts once. (They tasted horrible, but it was still fun!) I have an adorable pic of my son when he was little assisting me in the garden by popping off tulip flowers leaving behind strong, plain, green stems. But it’s tomatoes that are the enigma for me. Not a fan. I’ve tried. Yes, numerous times. I do not like them Sam- I – am. I grow the tomato. I do not eat the tomato. I love how the plant smells when I prune it. I still do not eat them. I grow them for my husband who likes them as a snack. It’s incredibly rewarding to see him enjoy something I grew solely for him.

It’s nice to be appreciated, isn’t it? Not like you do things for people only for the purpose of getting thanks in return. But when you think about it, isn’t it nice to know something you spent time, energy and perhaps poured a bit of love into is appreciated by the receiver? Sometimes we get busy and forget to notice. Sometimes the idea of mailing a thank you note may seem old-fashioned.

This summer we were on vacation during traditional planting time. I have two great garden boxes my husband made for me and I was sad when we came back from vacay to find I was growing a healthy collection of weeds. A week later, I put on my grubbies, hooked up my ipod with a great playlist and vowed to get started cleaning out the garden beds. At least I could put in a few plants this year.

When I started pulling the weeds out, I was surprised to find a tomato plant. And not just one, but eight tomato plants growing, on their own, amongst the icky weeds. They weren’t planted by me. I figured they must have sprouted by remnant tomatoes from last season. I couldn’t help but smile and notice how cool it was for God to give us a few freebies. See the cool cycle? God gave me the tomato plants to enjoy and I can return the favor by tending them so they produce tomatoes that my hubby enjoys. What a shame if they hadn’t been noticed and just tossed with the weeds.

How about a challenge? Find someone to thank today. Someone who isn’t expecting it. Maybe leave a note for your mail carrier. Thank the kid bagging your groceries. Tell your kid’s coach how much you appreciate them. Say thank you to the cook who serves your food in the lunchroom at work. Take a minute to be aware of who might appreciate a bit of gratitude.

I remember when my kids were little and we would drive to school. There was a great clearing where you could see the sun coming up. I would make a point of telling them, “Look! Look at what God made for you! Isn’t it wonderful?” As cliché’ as it sounds, stop and smell the roses. Or the jasmine, or hollyhocks. What a shame to miss what God created for you to enjoy. Take a moment and say thank you.

Hmm, maybe I’ll have to give eating a tomato another try…