4/7/15

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
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You can learn more about Teresa on Facebook

4/5/15

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

4/3/15

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.

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

4/2/15

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!
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You can learn more about Teresa on Facebook

3/31/15

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.
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You can learn more about Samantha and follow her on Facebook 

3/26/15

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.



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

3/24/15

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. 

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

3/20/15

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

3/19/15

Teresa Roberts: The Possibilities Are Grand!

I recently went through a major life event - a divorce - after raising three beautiful children, going through his job losses, a horrific automobile accident he was involved in and nearly 30 years of marriage.  And even though the change was instigated by me, it wasn't without many, many tears, second (and third, and fourth . . . ) thoughts, angst and LOTS of praying!

But once the decision was finally made, a huge weight lifted off of me and I knew in my heart it was the right decision for me.  And on that Monday, the day the divorce was final, I came home from the courthouse, sat in my living room and just breathed . . .  sitting in stunned silence, basking in my newborn freedom.  And me, being a planner, suddenly panicked about what was I going to do next.  I had been so focused on getting through this painful event, that I hadn't thought beyond this very moment!

And as I sat there thinking what should I do next, which way should I go, how will I manage everything, will this all work out ??????????. . . on and on, spinning myself into a tizzy . . . it suddenly dawned on me that I DIDN'T have to make any decisions right then.  That the rest of my life was a blank canvas, just waiting to be filled with the artwork of my future life.  And then I began to glow inside as I thought of all the possibilities . . . and my, oh my, were they grand!

And so, with a new-found love of writing poetry and stories, I wrote this poem to remind myself of all the positive things I had to look forward to.  I hope that any of you that are dealing with a sudden change in your life will read this and realize that YOU control how you react to that change . . . how you frame your thoughts around whether it's a positive event or not . . . how you decide to move forward in spite of the change . . . how you let go and let God walk with you down this new road you are traveling on.  And I hope and pray that you can see even just one grand possibility to lead you through the situation you face . . . and I hope in some small way this poem inspires you to move forward, keeping your mind open to the myriad of possibilities in this beautiful world God has provided us.

Have a joyous day!

TA Roberts
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The Possibilities Are Grand!

My future is spread out before me I
can go anywhere, be who I want to be ,
and the possibilities are grand it
doesn’t even have to be planned!

I might take it one day at a time
and experiment with paints and rhyme.
Or I might write a story or two the
good thing is it doesn’t matter what I do!

I need to work hard and save my money
so I can travel and see my honey!
And I want to take some classes
to learn how to illustrate for the masses.

I’d love to see my name on a book
and ask my friends to take a look.
Or see my artwork on a gallery wall
or hanging in a fancy dining hall.

I want to learn how to create a website,
to sell my art and what my honey can write.
And maybe selling the coding I’ve learned
is a way some travel money can be earned!

I want to go to a beach and tan
and swim in the ocean and play in the sand.
And find a cause I can really support
like Habitat for Humanity or veterans at a fort.

The key to it all is the freedom I’ll have
to pick and choose and not need a salve
anymore to heal my heart
and this week has been a great start!

My new life started one day ago
and there’s one thing I know it
already feels good,
just like I hoped it would!

And as I move forward and take care of me,
I hope that my friends and family can see
that this hard decision was the right one
and I’m so happy now the marriage is done!

Now I need to work on my mind embrace
the positive, leave the negative behind!
I need to learn patience and how to wait
while I hope that friendly visits become a date!

But for now, I’ll just continue along,
smiling and singing a favorite song,
or painting an owl or maybe some flowers
while God in his grace, happiness he showers!

Teresa
Roberts
5/22/2014
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You can learn more about Teresa on Facebook

3/17/15

Christie Murrow: Counting My Blessings


Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all the ways we’ve been blessed, but the premise of this blog is to live in such a way that gratitude becomes an inherent, and ongoing, part of our lives. As I was thinking about this the other day and wondering what to write about, I realized I had a doctor’s appointment.

I happen to love my new primary; she’s encouraging, and trustworthy. This time I got a great report. Two years ago, that wasn’t the case. I was in the midst of a season of some heart issues, and it was scary, exhausting, and overwhelming. I was a compliant patient but it took several months, and lots of tests, to get my body to settle down.  Then this past fall, I went in to see my new doctor, and she expressed her concern with my weight, blood pressure, and lab values. I realized it was time for a change, and no one else could do that for me.

So, I joined Weight Watchers online, joined a friend committed to walk at least two times a week, and ordered a Jawbone to track my activity and sleep. I truly didn’t have much hope for losing weight because everything seemed ineffective. However, 10 weeks later, I am down ten pounds (even with the holidays), my labs are the best they’ve ever been, and I’m feeling better and moving a whole lot more.  I still have a long ways to go, but what a difference from a couple of years ago!

So, I’m counting my blessings, and naming them one by one.

I’m delighted, and excited, to be a regular contributor here, and trust that it will keep me looking for blessings that are all around me, and help me live in a lot more gratitude.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the midst of difficult situations; oh, I how get that. But today?

Start with five things you’re grateful for, and see how that changes your outlook. 

If you like the picture above, it is a free a printable from Landelu:  http://www.landeeseelandeedo.com/2013/11/sunday-encouragement-grateful-11-24-13.html

So, take a few minutes and let your list help you segue from gratitude to joy, and embrace, even if only for a few minutes, some grateful living.

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

What are you grateful for today? Leave a comment and let us know!