Samantha Tennant: Mirror, Mirror

I have a new Fitbit.  I call it my “Fitbutt”. 

Why, you ask? Because that’s my motivational name for it.

Fit butt.  It’s what I want.

Every time I  back up to the mirror and look over my shoulder, I keep waiting for the appearance of my 18 year old backside.

I miss it. I want it back.

I’m 48 years old, I’ve worked hard, I deserve this one, little thing.

Or so I tell myself.

But, who am I fooling?  I walk 10,000 steps, day after day, checking the thumb-sized tracker in my pocket, pushing for that perfection.  

10,000 steps to perfection…. Sounds like a self-help book.

And while my little fitness friend has helped motivate me, I need to remember that I am being watched by someone  far more important… my teenage girls.

To see a mom who is motivated to exercise, who marches around the kitchen laughing and counting steps at the end of the day is one thing.  Seeing and hearing her complain about a perfectly heathy body is something else entirely.

One is good, one is not.

I do not want to make them unhappy maniacs. I do not want them to back up to the mirror with self-loathing. I do not want them to waste the joys of this life obsessing over what was, or trying to be someone they are not.

What has my step counter done for me? It has made me painfully aware that I am being watched, studied and imitated. Do I need my 18 yr old body to be my legacy to the young women I am raising?


I want to pass on health, joy, acceptance, faith, compassion, love and laughter.

I want to reflect all of that, every day,

for they are my mirror.

You can learn more about Samantha and follow her on Facebook 


Manon: Beauty All Around

First I want to start out by saying thank you to Molly for creating such a wonderful blog.

My name is Manon and I’m a jewelry artist who lives in Arizona. I have so many things in my life to be grateful for. Today I’ll be short and sweet and say that I’m so thankful to look out each day and see the most amazing skies. I know Texans like to call their skies big but honestly I think AZ skies might be huge.

Nature is hugely inspiring to me and this area provides a visual feast. Beauty lies outside our doors if we just pay attention and the best part is that it’s free!!

See you soon!!

You can learn more about Manon on her blog, Sisters of the Sun.


Teresa Roberts: A Poet? Me???

About 17 months ago I started searching out long-lost friends, after one of my best friends growing up sought me out!  I realized that I really missed all those special people that knew me and were part of my roots when I was growing up - since I’d lived almost 300 miles away from “home” during my whole marriage.  And with most of the people I reconnected with, it was just like we’d seen each other the week before, or just a day or two ago - we picked up right where we left off and re-formed those wonderful friendships from days gone by!

But there was one person I sought out that I hadn’t had that kind of close relationship with - he was simply an interesting person I had known in high school.  Now, I say “interesting” because growing up in rural Missouri in the 60’s and 70’s, most of the guys were either going to work on the farm, going to a trade school to become a diesel mechanic, or just find whatever job they could.  And most of the girls were going to be teachers, nurses or stay-at-home moms.  There were very few of us that were going to college.   However, this guy was different - he wanted to be a DJ!  And during high school, he’d already realized that dream by being a DJ on KPCR (imagine the fun we had with THAT name!) on Sundays.  KPCR was a tiny little local radio station that played country music - except for the days when my friend was there!  He idolized Olivia Newton John and took advantage of his position as DJ to play her songs as often as he could.

Anyway, I decided to see if I could find him on Facebook and connect with him to see what he’d done with his life.  And I did find him - just under a different name!  You see, he’s a writer now - and yes, he DJ’d for several years after getting his Communications degree in college!  His first book was published under a pen name, one that he’d created for himself at about age 14.  He and his daughter had written the book when she was young and years later, in honor of her memory, he’d had it illustrated and published!  And he was working on a book of poems about his late daughter when we connected.

Now mind you, I was never a big fan of poetry growing up.  Most of the poems I’d read were just so esoteric in nature, that I couldn’t stand to read poetry.  But his poems were different - they were written from the heart and alternatively made me laugh and cry!  And I was hooked!

Being an accountant by trade, I knew how to write business plans, policies and procedures and so on.  But I decided that poetry might just be a way for me to express my feelings as I was going through the many changes in my life last spring.  So I started writing . . . and writing . . . and writing!  Many of my poems can’t be shared with anyone as they were agonizing diatribes about my circumstances and disappointments in life.  But soon those poems started changing to uplifting, positive poems of hope for the future!  To date, I have written 86 poems!

My friend told me about this website that is for writers to share their works.  So I joined it, just to see how my work would be received by other writers.  And I’ve been very pleased with the results so far, though I am far from being a number one author!  I have gotten some lovely comments on my poetry and have 4 people following my poetry - and this has brought an entirely new dimension to my life!  To be able to write words of love, gratitude and hope - that touches other people’s hearts - is just a phenomenal feeling!  To be able to express my innermost thoughts in a way that evokes a response in someone else is so rewarding and just stuns me!  I’ve even coupled 3 poems with pieces of art that I have created.

So you can imagine my disbelief - and extreme gratitude - with the results of this month’s voting on the writing website!  I had posted three poems and one is in second place, one is in ninth place and one is in sixteenth place.  And I am in sixth place for “Author of the Month” on the site!  Woo Hoo!

Now you might think I’m writing this blog post to toot my own horn - but I’m not!  Because if you look at the name in the number one spot on the “Author of the Month” picture below, you’ll see my friend’s name!  He’s got the number one opinion piece, the number one story, AND the number one poem for the month!  I’m so very proud of his accomplishments and am waiting with bated breath for his next book of poetry to get finished!  It will be 400 pages long and called “Enlightened Journeys” and will have something for everyone!

And I want to express my sincere gratitude to him for introducing me to a creative outlet that is like no other and allows me to express my every feeling in such a beneficial manner!

So if you’re looking for an outlet for pent-up feelings, a new and exciting way to be creative, or just love to learn new things, give poetry a try!  After all, if this left-brained accountant can do it, so can you!!

Happy writing!

TA Roberts
You can learn more about Teresa on Facebook


Christie Murrow: Easter and Grateful Living

John 11:25-26Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. NIV

This day is the core of Grateful Living. 

That Jesus would choose to humble Himself in the form of a man, knowing the best and worst of our humanity, and then willingly offer up Himself as the one and only Sacrifice for us is staggering. He Who knew no sin became sin on my behalf, and demonstrated love of the highest degree through His death on the cross. 

And had the story ended there, I would forever be in His debt. 

But today? Today is what allows me to actively live a life of grateful living, because this same Jesus, fully God and fully man, defeated death so that I could have eternal life. As Leonard Ravenhill stated:
“Calvary expresses the love of God. The resurrection explains the power of God”.
This is the crux of our faith; not that He died, but that He arose. Timothy Keller puts it this way:
If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that He said; if He didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what He said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like His teaching but whether or not He rose from the dead”.
Photo credit: www.turnbacktogod.com

And so today we rejoice! He has risen from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father, living to make intercession on our behalf. Death is defeated, and we are free to walk in the power of His resurrected life. And that’s some powerful incentive to live gratefully.

Photo credit: www.thedeliverancedoctor.com
You can learn more about Christie Murrow on her blog, Charis Designs Jewelry


Shelley Smith: Worry

I am thankful for hope.

I come from a long line of professional, first-rate, Jesus-loving worriers.  Yes, that’s right.  I can worry like the best of them.  

Sometimes (or possibly more often) I go to the worst possible scenario.  A rash is flesh-eating bacteria; sore muscles are breast cancer; a fever, meningitis; and a headache, the options are endless!  When Sean has a bad day at work, I make sure he hasn’t gotten fired before I pour him a cold drink.  If one of my people don’t answer their phones, who knows what could’ve happened?

I just want to hear the words, “Everything is going to be okay.”

But it isn’t always.

But it really is.

There are so many things in my life that really aren’t ok with me.

I am not ok that my pastor has a terminal illness.

I am not ok that my dad died of a heart attack way too young and that my mom is having such a hard time living without him.

 I am not ok when we have financial trouble or hard times in our marriage.

I am not ok with cancer in so many close to us.

Parenting is tough, and sometimes I am not ok with circumstances with our kids.

I am not ok when life just doesn’t seem fair.

Sometimes the things of this world can overwhelm me and I start to worry about what horrific thing is going to happen next.  

But it is ok.  

This world is not my home.  I love when Pastor Greg says everything that happens has passed through God’s heart.  He loves us immeasurably more than I could ever imagine.

When sickness or death happens, God is there.

When financial and relationship troubles happen, God is there.

When pain and fear and worry happen; yep, he’s there too.

So, I rest on these eternal, trustworthy, proven words:

“I am with you always, even to the very end of the age,” which is translated to, “Everything is going to be okay.”

My hope is not in this world, but in Jesus Christ.

You can learn more about Shelley on her blog, Laughter, Lyrics and Life


Teresa Roberts: Loving the Strange Things

I saw this post on Facebook the other night and it really cracked me up!  After all, who doesn’t have a whole box/drawer/cubbyhole/(insert your own hiding place here) that has all those wonderful little treasures tucked away - you know, the ones you simply can’t part with!

A few weeks ago, I got to spend some time with my mother.  Now, my Mom and I haven’t always gotten along - after all, we’re very much alike (a/k/a stubborn) - but with the recent changes in my life, I learned a valuable lesson.  I needed to learn to accept my Mom, warts and all - and I’m so very glad I learned that lesson, for she has been my rock through all the ups and downs of the last year!

Anyway, back to the story!  On this particular day, I had asked Mom if she had any crystals because I had an idea for a mixed media painting that was going to be called “Diamond Falls” and I wanted crystals to embed in the waterfall I was going to paint.  We went into her “sewing room”, which is a hoarder's idea of heaven!  Now don’t get me wrong - everything is very clean and somewhat organized in my Mom’s sewing room, but . . . there’s just so MUCH of it!

There’s piles of fabric everywhere in every color of the rainbow and then some.  There’s spool after spool of beautiful colored threads, ribbon and lace, all just waiting to be made into a beautiful doll dress or a little girl’s dress for a friend or a great-niece.  And then there’s the buttons, charms, beads, and various and sundry other miniscule little items that have been bought in the clearance bin, lovingly saved off of a favorite piece of clothing, or are a prized treasure found at the local yard sale. Everywhere I looked in the room, something caught my eye - a beautiful deep cobalt blue piece of fabric that my fingers caressed with envy; a breathtaking piece of heavy lace that had been handmade by someone decades earlier; a dazzling array of buttons, old and new, some elegant and some quite plain but sturdy.

And I had to laugh at all the treasures we found as we were digging through her stashes and piles, looking for the crystals I’d asked about.  Little pieces of fabric brought back memories of all the clothes she’d made for me when I was growing up.  Used jeans buttons reminded me of my first pair of blue jeans - yes, made by my mother, flat felled seams and all!  A short piece of lace reminded me of the beautiful dresses she had made for my daughter - her first grandchild, and a girl no less!  Mom had been in seventh heaven making beautiful little girl dresses covered in lace . . . and later more practical tank tops with gathered on skirts, always in bright, cheerful colors!

And those bits and pieces of scraps, random buttons, snippets of lace . . . they were strange things to hold on to . . . but I’m glad she had, for the memories were too precious and had been tucked away in the back of my mind for so long.  And those strange things filled my heart with love and gratitude for all the care my Mom had taken in creating things of beauty from simple materials - for me, my daughter, and my three nieces - over the years!

I wish now that I had kept a few of those pieces of clothing instead of selling them at a yard sale or giving them away.  What a treasure that would have been for my daughter to use with her child someday!

So take the words in the picture to heart - never be ashamed of loving the strange things - the things that on the surface appear to have no value, that look old and useless, worn by age.   For those things usually are the objects that are filled with love and should be treasured forever!
You can learn more about Teresa on Facebook


Samantha Tennant: Winter Sun

It’s cold.

It’s dark.

It’s winter.

And then….

there’s this:

Wonderful, sweet, juicy, fruit in the dead of winter when we need it most.  Coincidence? I think not.
Citrus is a gift.  Truly.  It’s a mood lifting, body protecting, thirst quenching, aromatherapy session,  all wrapped up into one little, perfectly packaged, orb of joy.

My grandmother used to tell stories of receiving an orange in her Christmas stocking. It was a big deal.  So special, that she never forgot.

When I was in school, my best friend Carrie used to tease me.  An orange (or two) accompanied me at every lunch, field trip, choir competition…She would ask, “did you bring anything BESIDES an orange?”  I would just shrug, smile, peel it, and pass it around. I loved them.

Years later when I was pregnant with my first child, morning sickness was my 24 hour nemesis for 7 months. Enter the beloved clementine. It was the only thing I could keep down and I bought them by the boxful.  My mother joked that we should name my daughter after the little those little, orange, life savers.  Even the skins were medicinal. When a  wave of nausea would come, I would pinch a piece of saved clementine skin between my fingers and the smell would calm my stomach.

Nowadays, I keep a bowl of them on the counter. Piles of sweet, orange snacks that  are beautiful in their own right. My kids toss them in their lunches, and we share them after meals. The perfect dessert !

A grapefruit for breakfast, a dash of juice with olive oil on a winter salad, a tangerine snack, or just a slow simmer of saved rinds and a stick of cinnamon on the stove.  I am so grateful for this bright, winter gift.
You can learn more about Samantha and follow her on Facebook 


Christie Murrow: Freedom to Worship

I am profoundly grateful today for the freedom to worship as I choose in this country of ours. It is something I take for granted far too often. Not too long ago, I was horrified to see pictures like this:

of these men being lead to their death because they refused to renounce their belief in God when threatened with death by ISIS. When faced with a decision to deny Him and live, they chose to remain true to the One in Whom they had placed their trust.

And so today, because we DO have the freedom and liberty to publicly worship without fear of reprisal, I want to honor these men who paid the ultimate price for their belief. There are so many places around the world where fellow Christians pay a heavy price for their faith. I am grateful, so very grateful, that here in America, we can worship freely.

You can learn more about Christie Murrow on her blog, Charis Designs Jewelry


Shawnee Penkacik: Grateful

Mornings in my house are extra busy. A typical morning in my house involves getting five children off to school, breakfast for the rest of the children, then stopping feeding pumps, dressing children, and then finally getting my cup of morning coffee. 

Everyone in my house knows that I need to have my morning coffee, including our amazing respite care provider. Coffee is the fuel besides my time with the Lord that keeps me going on the long days of being a busy mom. 
I love the sound of my Keurig brewing a fresh cup of hot coffee that I know will help me start the day. 

One of the things I’m thankful for right now is the beautiful mugs that my coffee is kept in.  Each mug tells a story of either a place my family has been like my Memphis Starbucks mug:

A verse that means so much to me like my Jeremiah 29:11 one, my mug from my church:

And even one with all my family on it.  This mug is one of my favorites as it has wonderful memories on it:

These mugs are reminders to me of how blessed I am.  I am blessed that I have people to take care of, I am blessed to have a church to call home, I am blessed because well just because God says so. 

It is also a reminder that God gives good gifts to His children as it says in James:
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.James 1:17, NLT
So as you sip your morning coffee, tea, or whatever you are drinking, remember to count your blessings and that God is faithful. 

I hope your day is abundantly blessed. 


You can read more about Shawnee on her blog, Blessed on the Bright Side


Shelley Smith: Firsts

I am thankful for this girl, our first!

Allison is our first.  This year she’s a sophomore in high school.

I remember many firsts with her:  first time with a babysitter, first visit to the church nursery, first day of kindergarten, first sleepover, first field trip, first summer camp, first day of high school, and the list goes on.

Firsts are painful.  Letting go is hard.  I worry.  I want to protect her and control her situations and her surroundings.  I don’t want her to see anything or hear anything or experience anything negative.

I could…for a while.

I could keep her with me all the time and not let her go anywhere or do anything (she’d probably hate me).   But greater than my desire to control her, I want her to go.

I want her to be unafraid and bold.

I want her to do great things.

I want her to become who God has designed her to be.

I want her to develop relationships with other people who love her and encourage her in her faith.

I want her to make decisions for herself.

I want her relationship with Christ to be her own.

I want her to live.

Allison is one of the most outgoing, confident, independent girls I know.  She is a leader.  She is unafraid to share her faith and knows why she believes what she believes.  She invites everyone she knows to church.

She is our first.

I am beyond thankful that God put her in our lives.

She is not afraid; but I sometimes am.

I am thankful she is our first.  She’s teaching us how to be parents.  She’s teaching us to love, trust, forgive...

...and PRAY!
You can learn more about Shelley on her blog, Laughter, Lyrics and Life