September 15, 2015

God Knows My Heart

Recently, quite by accident, I discovered something I wrote over three years ago has been spread widely around the Internet. The words have been used/repurposed in several ways with various photos and or artistic elements. One use of the saying on a Christian website has been shared over 200,000 times--which is totally amazing to me.
More amazing, however, is the return of the words to me.
I've really needed them this past week or so when it seems no matter how hard I try I keep falling short. Remembering that God knows I'm doing my very best is a both a comfort and a source of badly needed strength.

May 5, 2015

Trust is Earned

My grandma Minnie loved birds. 
She was particularly fond of the sparrows that flocked to her backyard. 
On many occasions, I watched from a distance as she walked among them.
She scattered birdseed, speaking to the sparrows in a gentle voice.
They seemed to regard her with the same caring she showed to them.
They knew her well. Knew they could trust she would be kind.

May 1, 2015

Morning Light

Love painting in the morning light at my desk.


Lots of Mari dolls going out this week!

February 16, 2015

Poppie the Zebra!

Creative play for kids! Five page downloadable Poppie the Zebra Happy Kits on Etsy. A great DIY resource for teachers and parents who want a simple craft for younger kids. Use Etsy coupon code Happy1 to receive $3.00 off through Saturday, February 21!

Photo: Creative play for kids! Five page downloadable Poppie the Zebra Happy Kits on Etsy. A great DIY resource for teachers and parents who want a simple craft for younger kids. Use Etsy coupon code Happy1 to receive $3.00 off through Saturday, February 21!

Utah Safe Kids Fair

The wonderful Linda Garner along with authors Christy Monson, Haley Freeman, and Valerie Ackley -- I'm honored to have illustrated three of these books! Please go and support these lovely ladies in their mission of helping children across the world to find hope and joy!

February 9, 2015

Awesomeness: No Apologies

Three weeks ago Saturday I broke my leg. 

The first thing I could think to write on my Facebook wall was: "So I broke my leg . . . it was awesome!"

Because, you see, awesome was how I felt.

However, I quickly found out that awesome wasn't the way other people thought I should feel.

One thought breaking my leg was somehow a cry for help. A few thought my demeanor wasn't normal; they expected I should be a shambles with tears coursing down my face. Several more thought happiness had no place in any situation were an appendage was damaged. 

Despite naysayers, my feeling of awesomeness prevailed. 

And here's why . . .

I love dogs. I love dog sledding, and my dogs (two Siberian Huskies and one German Shepherd) crave running in the snow. Even when there's little or no snow, I still want to be out with my dogs. So I exercise them with a Swiss Bike Board, a scooter of sorts with hand brakes, that they pull. My daughter and I have taken our dogs and boards down steep mountainsides and on rocky trails. The feeling of working with the dogs and being out in nature is exhilarating. 

The day I broke my leg I didn't have time for a trip to the mountains. I decided to take the dogs for a quick run around a few city blocks on the pavement -- something I've done numerous times before. 

The day was sunny and beautiful. The dogs were energetic and happy; I was happy. The accident happened so fast I didn't have time to react: a neighbor's dog ran out into the street and began to chase my dog, Oakleigh. Oak turned sharply to the left to respond to the barking of the other dog. When she veered, the bike board went with her. I, however, kept going straight -- for a millisecond -- until I hit the pavement. I heard my leg snap. I looked down and saw my foot bent at an odd angle back up against my leg. I didn't like that! So I reached down and tugged my leg back into alignment and used my cell phone to call for help. 

And I felt awesome. Translated: thankful to be alive and grateful my injuries weren't any worse. 

Oak had been giving it her all, traveling, we estimated, at least 20 mph. I wasn't wearing a helmet; I'd been in too much of a hurry to get outside and neglected to put on my protective gear. I hit the pavement hard, landing on my elbow. 

But my elbow wasn't broken. 

I sat there and smiled. 

I was alive. 

Over the years I'd heard of people who'd had simple accidents -- a fall off a chair or simply tipping over on their bicycle -- and died immediately. I remembered all my friends, my age and younger, who had passed away suddenly, unexpectedly in the past couple of decades, with no chance to say goodbye to their families. With no chance for a second chance.

All I had was a broken leg.

So, yes, it was awesome.

I didn't want or seek or yearn for a broken leg. But given other options of more serious injury, I'm okay with it. It is challenging, frustrating, and cumbersome. Recovery will take awhile; it will be a couple of months before I'm back on the bike board. 

But I've learned much.

My priorities have come sharply into focus. For instance, pre-accident I had this habit of dusting -- everything. Way too often. Now with three weeks dust on things and life still going on I'm wondering, "Why the heck did I spend so much time dusting?"

And there were so many things I simply, plainly took for granted. Being able to run. Being able to do anything, anytime I wanted when I wanted. Being able to wiggle all ten of my toes, five of which are presently a bit stiff and swollen. 

Can I just tell you how much love and giddy appreciation I now I have for my toes? 

Try and go without five of yours for awhile and see if you don't feel the same.

I'm also getting a chance to see what I'm really made of. I have the choice -- yes, the wonderful choice -- of staying down and feeling bad for myself OR taking stock of all I can still do. I have the choice to make friends with my weaknesses -- the physical and the emotional -- and figure out how to turn them into strengths. And the choice to celebrate each and every strength I have, physical and emotional, and express gratitude. 

I'm also grateful for the awesomeness of those I know who have given me support and encouragement. I've seen how others can cheer me on and uplift me by themselves showing gratitude for life, having faith in God and his purposes, and believing in my capabilities -- instead of telling me I should just sit down and quit. 

So awesome? Yes! And I don't apologize for feeling that way.

January 13, 2015

January 13 - A To-Live-By List to Live With

Different from want-to-do and want-to-have lists, a To-Live-By list keeps track of things that cost no money but can endow true happiness. It is a list of Christlike attributes we desire to attain and live by in pursuit of becoming our best.

Do you want to become more faithful, humble, or compassionate? More honest, charitable, or loving? Having spent too much time mired in controversy, do you seek to become a peacemaker?

The inside front cover of your journal is a great place to record the Christlike attributes you desire to attain.

My To-Live-By list includes "forgiving," "patient," and "peacemaker."

What's on your list?

January 12 - Guilt-Free Journaling

Lengthy personal epistles aren't requisite to keeping a personal journal.

You can record idea and tips, quotes, summaries of stories that have touched your heart -- or even one word!

Singularly the words hurt, afraid, alone, sorrow, and stress bear deep meaning, as do the words love, courage, smile, hope, and faith.

Or try joy journaling: one-sentences slices of life that, like treasured photos, capture moments of splendor and bliss.

January 11 - Infinite Possiblities

My friend and I had known each other for decades.

But when my friend began making decisions that
were in direct opposition to what I knew to be right and true, 
I had to distance myself.

Making decisions about our own lives can be challenging.
Often we must weigh what spirit and heart tell us against
fear of being judged by others who don't have all the facts.

Making decisions about how to react to 
the decisions of those we know can 
set us up for harsh criticism.

So it was in the case of my friend.

Though my friend's decisions were morally, ethically,
and legally incorrect when I distanced myself I was condemned.

I didn't feel it was my place to broadcast my friend's errors and shortcomings. 

Those who had the authority to help were already aware of the situation. 

I didn't want to feed the gossip mill.

Because of my refusal to tell all to everyone who was curious,
my removing myself from my friend's life and the
situations my friend's decisions had created
was judged as an act of coldness.  

But I kept my integrity.

And my relationship with God. 

Both which were of far more value than
the opinion of those who judged me. 

In addition to the judgments of others, this life brings comparison of 
physical appearances, material possessions, and skills. 

We can feel ostracized and alone. 

We can fall into the habit of masking pain with pursuits and possessions,
hiding what we fear is our inferiority. 

But God knows our hearts.

When we act in accordance with what we know for ourselves is right and true,
rather than in accordance with fear of being judged or compared,
He will help us refine the talents, abilities, and 
strengths that are unique to us as individuals

January 5, 2015

January 5 - Seeking and Discerning Answers to Prayer

In the poem "Lord, We Know That Thou Art Near,"
 English poetess Jane Fox Crewdson (1808-1863) wrote about unanswered prayers:

Many, many times I've commiserated over what I thought were unanswered prayers.

I wondered why God didn't realize how much I needed help.

Over time I discovered, however, that there was something more important
than Him supplying me with what I wanted when I wanted it:
the potential He provided me.

My struggles with faith and circumstance helped me to learn and grow.

Just because we don't readily obtain answers doesn't mean God has abandoned us. 

He is able to clearly ascertain what we require in order to help us 
cultivate resolve and strength of character and integrity, 
a belief in our own abilities that will help us be the best we can be.

He allows us the privilege of problem solving.

As Jane wrote:

"Weaving blessings out of trials . . . answering prayer by wise denials."

January 2, 2015

January 2 - Seek to Know God

The scriptures affirm that if we seek God, He will be found.

Daily time spent searching is essential.

Prayer is our side of a communication equation
that enables us to stay in contact with Him 
and receive guidance and direction. 

This month is characterized by new beginnings.

Begin life anew by seeking to learn about God.

January 1, 2015

January 1 - Truth and Being Whole

Her words stung. So did the looks she gave me.

Standing next to me in front of the full-length mirror on the wall, she stared from my reflection to my body. I'd wandered into her room to get a glimpse of an outfit I'd put on. Did it make me look good enough to go out in public? It often took me many tries with many changes of clothing to feel I was worthy enough to be a part of the outside world. Even then I frequently fled back into the house to hide in the basement, cry, and lament my unworthiness. Teenage angst over my appearance was hard enough. Daily doses of outright cruelty were another, more sinister, component of my life that made coping almost insurmountable. 

Eyeing me up and down from head to toe and back again, with a shrug of her shoulders she issued her judgment: my legs were okay. After countless edicts over many years -- her blade-sharp opinions on my appearance and intellect -- I actually felt a trickle of gratitude. At least she thought there was one small thing right about me. 

Here usual pronouncements were scathing: I was too ugly, too stupid, too worthless to matter to her -- to anyone. Commonly, she asserted, I should never even have been born. She made plain I would never be beautiful like others in the family. Never. That she thought my legs were okay -- not too offensively fat or ugly -- was a relief.

Now, in my adult life, I've tried and tried to remember something -- anything -- else that female member of my family said that was positive about my body. I don't remember anything besides what she said that day. That one single day. That one single comment made when we were alone. 

My legs were okay. 

The rest, the public persona she carefully maintained, doesn't count to me. Doesn't count to my heart, to my soul, to basic common sense, and to my belief of that which is right and good and true. How can you profess out loud to others that you love a child, and openly praise them in public, but then minutes later -- when you're all alone with that child and no one else is around to hear your words --
cynically berate them for their worthlessness and yet still expect to be believed? 
What is truth?

To me it is this: those we love, those who should love us, and those we barely know or don't know at all can use their words and actions to cut us to the core. They don't have to have complete disdain or hatred for us to do irreparable damage to our emotions -- but only if we allow them to. You see bullies -- whether it be someone who calls names, tells lies, makes cruel judgments or pronouncements about our worth -- are just cowards with an attitude. They are so afraid of their own deficits or perceived failures, so totally unable to deal with the idea that others might judge and condemn them, that they are compelled to shift attention away from themselves. Shift blame and guilt and shame onto someone else and attempt to make them out to be so horrid they themselves don't have to suffer any scorn for how worthless they feel they really are. 

Over decades, I came to resent the woman who tormented me with her own demons during my growing up years. I wanted to hate her, I really did. But I couldn't. Because there's another precious truth I learned: just like circumstances -- illness, death, poverty, or fear and heartache of any kind -- mean people can either make us or break us. Our hearts can turn cold. We can choose to abandon hope. Choose for ourselves become bullies. Or . . . we can learn what we're really made of. Learn what kind of people we truly want to be.

Every January 1 as I look toward goals I want to pursue for the year, I think of being whole. Having known what it is to allow myself to be fragmented into shards by the words and actions of others, being whole is always my most important aspiration. I refocus and remember whose I really am. Who truly knows my heart. Who has my best interests in mind in His plans for me. Who loves me whether my legs or any part of my body is, by mere mortal standards, okay or not. 


We can know Him if we try. We can know of His love for us. Though our mortal minds and emotions may be fragmented, only He can make us whole. 

Whether we are seeking for the first time to feel confirmation of our divine identity or if our knowledge of our eternal nature has somehow been weakened or lost, we can determine today to take whatever time necessary to know the truth. To know truth of His existence -- and to know the truth of our real worth. No matter our circumstances, we can receive, or have strengthened, a sure testimony that we are God's own beloved and cherished spiritual offspring. 

If, like I have, you consider yourself to somehow be less than others or an outsider, earnestly seek to discover God's plan, purpose, and love for you.

Not discerning for a certainly your divine identity and role is, in itself, a choice. 

This year -- today -- choose to become acquainted with your true potential. God wants to you to be whole; to know and feel your worth. To know and feel peace and the power of His love. 

I won't lie to you.

It takes work to know God. 

But you can. And you can be whole. He will help you.

I promise.