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More than meets the Eye

Have you ever stayed at a fancy hotel with a lot of different luxurious accommodations? You know the kind where the hotel itself is the vacation and you’d rather just stay in and soak up the fantastic amenities. It may have a pool, Jacuzzi, hot tub, and spa. It probably has one of the fanciest restaurants in town and a boujee boutique in the lobby. Your magnificent room may have what seems to be a small wine cellar under an amazing coffee bar. Folks are at your beck and call from the moment you step foot on the property.

You couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

You couldn’t imagine being anywhere else until your fancy key card won’t let you in your fancy door. You try and get someone to help and your “beck and call” is the last place you will find them. You finally get in your room and the gasp that escapes your lips is not one of pleasure. Your room is dirty, the wine is no where to be found, and your fancy coffee bar boasts the finest Folgers you ever found at your local Meijers. The pool is closed along with the Jacuzzi, hot tub, and spa because there is major construction happening this one week during your stay. The restaurant is closed due to a case of food poisoning and the boujee boutique can’t hold a candle to your hometown Target.

Wait. Isn’t this fancy hotel supposed to be the things of dreams? Yeah, until it is your nightmare!

The hotel in this scenario could be exchanged with a number of other nouns. You have something you could write in, I am sure. You choose a place for business or pleasure because people view it as fancy or, the go to term today, boujee. The exterior may be beautiful, but the longer you are around the more you see the reality behind the beautiful surface. Let’s face it…reality isn’t always beautiful. What people choose to show the world can be deceiving. Remember the popular accommodations in The Shining?

The lesson to be learned? Fancy isn’t always best. Yeah, there are some things I won’t buy generic. Cheese. I need my cheese to be real cheese, please. I attended a community college and I know I received a quality education. I love Terra & Sky clothes from Wal-mart. I don’t want to stay in a “sketchy” motel, but I also don’t need a fancy name to get a good night’s sleep. I can find quality without fancy exteriors and broken promises.

By the way, I have never stayed at a boujee hotel. However, I have given my business to places where what was beautiful to the eye became a nightmare in reality. Search out people and businesses (local when possible) with good character, morals and transparency. Let the beauty behind the scenes outshine the dapper exterior.

Let them have their toys…

No, I am not blogging about kids today. Well, not little kids anyway.

It was our first Christmas together. We didn’t have any kids. Max wanted a Nintendo. Wait, he wanted a SUPER Nintendo. I look at this picture today and laugh at it being SUPER! It was apparently a big deal in 1994. It came with a game and I bought him a basketball game. He loved all the Chicago teams (Bulls, Bears, Cubs, I think…) and he loved basketball.

I remember watching his face as he opened it on Christmas morning. I was sure it was my first glimpse of what it would look like to have a child on Christmas morning. It was the best! You would have thought I had given him a million dollars. He had so much fun.

I remember rolling my eyes and fussing a bit somewhere around February when he literally could not hear me talking to him as he made a touchdown as a team member of the Chicago Bears (that is the football team, right?).

I really had married a big kid.

What I wouldn’t trade today to be calling his name repeatedly as he played (insert current popular sports video game). How I miss the smile on his face or the sudden jump up from the seated position when he had won whatever he was playing. How I miss him.

Ladies…let them have their toys. Let them enjoy that time with their hobby. I think it makes them better husbands or boyfriends. Max loved playing Super Nintendo and he loved having fun. He was an amazing dad for those short nine months and I know he would have been the coolest dad on the block over the years.

Let them have their toys because some day you may wake up and miss getting to roll your eyes because you married a big kid.

Enjoy this Christmas with your people (big kids and little kids a like).

“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about Rock-n-Roll.”  Shigeru Miyamoto

Rise Up

Photo by Samantha Garrote on Pexels.com

One of the most difficult things in life is watching someone you love lose their passion. One day you see the fire and passion in their eyes and the next it is gone. I know it doesn’t usually happen that quickly, but it often seems that way.

There are a million reasons why someone might find themselves on the other side of their dreams and passions. I believe for many people it comes after a prolonged period of stress and anxiety. Others face health issues, a change in circumstances or a crisis with their finances that contribute to the loss of interest. Sadly, some folks find themselves as targets of revenge and hate and are often drained to the point they cannot keep the fires of their passion burning. They find themselves in a place where they just don’t have the energy to keep fighting. They wake up one day and they just can’t rise.

How wonderful it would be if we could share with those we love how we see the hurt and pain and it would be enough to bring back the excitement for the things they love. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t work that way. Our passions usually come from an extended period of time engrossed in the things we love. When someone loses their fire, it often takes time to rekindle it if it ever comes back at all.

It is important for us to be sensitive to those around us in a way that allows us to see and understand their passions. If we find ourselves contributing to someone losing their fire, may we seek ways to help heal the damage. Did we throw water on their fire? We would be wise to remember the importance of how our actions affect others. We cannot continue to give to some what we try to take away from others. Our heart is either pure or it is not. If we realize we have caused someone to stumble, we will heal ourselves by helping them heal.

We should try and live this life in a way that lifts others up as we walk along side them. God created us to have fellowship with Him and with one another. I believe we will all come face to face with our Creator and He knows our hearts. He will not need to ask, but He will know if we contributed to someone giving up or if we were a part of their healing. Did we push them down or did we help them to rise up? If God allows us the opportunity to see where we have hurt someone, it is our responsibility to remedy that hurt to the best of our ability.

The tragedy is not in making mistakes. The tragedy is knowing better and not doing better.

I Can Do Better

I can do better. I can do better at work, at home, with my family and friends, in my spiritual life, and with my health. It doesn’t matter how much I think I know, I always have a lot more to learn. I sometimes feel like I get it wrong much more often than I get it right. I have to get up every single day and find ways to move forward instead of standing stagnant.

The number one way I can do better is to ask God to show me the areas in my life where He would like to work. As He reveals my weaknesses, He offers His strength. He desires to see me growing and learning and wants to guide me along the way. It’s not always easy to ask for your weaknesses to be magnified and seeing them in His light can be very humbling. He shows us when we ask and helps us when we seek His guidance.

Another way I can do better is by listening and learning from those God has placed in my life. I have co-workers, family, friends, pastors and community acquaintances in my sphere of influence who have a wealth of knowledge to offer. Every single one of these folks has volumes of lessons to teach me if I will just slow down, observe and listen.

God also gives us so many opportunities to learn about Him through His creation. I can learn more from an afternoon in the woods than I can from many books. He created all things and within His creation He hid parts of Himself. I can see him in the blue sky, in the moon and stars, and in the clear blue ocean. I can see him in the baby rabbits, the strong oak trees and wild flowers growing in the fields. He teaches me through His creation every day that I will take the opportunity to learn.

I hear all the noise around me and feel the pain of where we are as a society. I don’t always understand where we are, how we got here or where we go from here. I hear the people saying we must do better, but this isn’t really true. I cannot make a choice for my neighbor or my friend. I can only choose for myself.

I can do better.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

I enjoy giving compliments, positive feedback, and encouragement to folks when they cross my mind. Everyone has positive traits and we can find some if we take the time and look for them. It’s actually kind of interesting to see the reactions from different people when they get the positive attention. Some people are a little uncomfortable, some are shocked because they haven’t heard many positive shout outs, and some actually enjoy the feedback.

A while back, I gave a public compliment to someone who seemed to need a boost. I received a message from someone else chastising me because this person was not very kind to them on a regular basis. They were even exhibiting behaviors that seem to go out of the way to cause problems for this person. I did not get upset with this person or their message because I get it. I understand exactly where they are coming from in regards to this situation. It didn’t change the way I felt about the person I complimented or the person chastising me. Why? I understand because I have those people in my life, too.

We are all human. We are created uniquely by a God who has given us individual fingerprints! We all enjoy different things, have different hobbies, have different religious beliefs, have different personalities, and are born into different families. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same! There has never been a time in history when everyone loved everyone else perfectly. If you don’t believe me, follow Jesus’ story through the gospels. He was Jesus, perfect man and perfect Savior, and there were people who did not like him (shocking, I know).

People show the parts of themselves that they want us to see. It is totally normal for you to see nothing but good in a person and that person be unkind, rude, or <insert other undesirable behavior> to other people. We are all capable of being unkind to folks and we have all been guilty of these types of behaviors. We are just less likely to do so with folks we like or want to impress. So, yes, someone can be a shining gem in one person’s eye and be the dread of someone else’s day.

What do we do about that? We keep lifting folks up and encouraging where God leads us to encourage. Sometimes it is for the shining gem and sometimes it is for the dread. Either way, remember that just because they are gold to you doesn’t mean that someone else is not being hurt by them. We can be sensitive to both of those and still spread encouragement, accolades and love. I believe this is a very important concept to understand and can help so many misunderstandings in our lives. We are all unique and loved by The One True God. We all deserve respect, but we will never be everyone’s cup of tea and that is okay.

Wear the Earrings

I recently received a pair of earrings as a gift. I kept them in the little bag they came in for several days. I finally took them out, admired them and promptly put them up on my jewelry box. They were so pretty and I didn’t want anything to happen to them. Each morning and evening as I went to take my medicine, I would see the earrings on the jewelry box. I finally looked at them one evening and felt ashamed. What was the purpose of keeping the earrings “pretty” if I was never going to wear them?

I think many of us are guilty of this at some point in our lives. We don’t want to lose a thing, get it dirty or break it so we just don’t use it. It’s not always jewelry. It might be the china in our china cabinet, the new dress in our closet or the new quilt still in the bag. Why would we want to have something and not use it for the purpose for which it was designed?

God gave each of us unique gifts to share with the world. We often find the gifts He gave us put away somewhere “safe”. If we aren’t using the gift, we can’t be judged or criticized. We tuck it away safely and pretend we don’t have any gifts. Why would we want to have a God given gift and not use it for His glory?

Whatever it is that you have tucked away for safe keeping, pull it out and share it with the world. Use the china, wear the dress or put the quilt on the bed. Life is short and we should enjoy the good things. Open the gifts God has given you, too. Don’t put them away. Sing the song, write the book, share your story or teach with passion.

Wake up tomorrow and live your best life.

Go ahead…wear the earrings!

“A ship is always safe at shore, but that is not what it’s built for.” Albert Einstein

Smudges

I am not a professional photographer and I can prove it. One look at my pictures will show that I am not an expert in lighting, angles or space. While I always learning new things, I have no desire to become an expert in this area. I just want to snap pictures of things that make my heart happy.

You will mostly see pictures of my friends, family, animals and the great outdoors. In my opinion, raindrops, sunny days, blue skies, and sunsets make the best digital memories. Give me my daughter, Bree, on her horse, Louie, with a sunset cascading in the background and you have given me peace and tranquility (well, unless Louie spooks and then that would be a whole other post 🙃). I believe most photographers take pictures to tell a story through what is being photographed. Professional photographs typically need no words. I take pictures to help give me words.

I take a lot of videos and pictures at the barn where we board Louie. In my opinion, it is probably the most beautiful place within hundreds of miles. It is hard to take a bad picture anywhere on that farm. I was recently taking pictures outside and they were just not turning out the way I wanted. The sun was shining, the skies were beautiful and my subjects were perfect 😉. What was the problem? After several disappointing shots, I turned my camera around to look at the lens and what I saw explained my frustration. There was a prominent smudge across the lens. Every shot I took was marred by the smudge on my lens.

Well, if that wasn’t a picture to help give me words, I am not sure what would be.

How often is our view marred by a smudge? We can be in the most beautiful of places with people we love and suddenly we see something that disappoints us. Is what we see the real, unmarred picture or is something skewing how we view the situation? Do we just keep going in our frustration without trying to pinpoint the problem or do we turn the situation around and look for the thing that is distorting our view?

The first thing I had to do when my pictures were less than desirable was to find the problem. Once I identified the smudge on my lens, I wiped the lens with a clean cloth until the smudge was gone. We live in an imperfect world where the smudges of life are abundant, but that doesn’t mean we cannot search for a clear view. Fear, doubt, pride, resentment, unforgiveness, guilt and so many more things bring the worst smudges to how we see things around us. Once we discover the smudge, we must find a way to clear our view.

I am not insensitive to the fact that the smudges in our lives are much more difficult to get rid of than a smudge on my camera lens. I have so many faults that I am continually working on that I am certain God sighs at my silly attempts to clean them up. He lets me go for a while and then He reminds me that He is the only One who can clean up my smudges. He alone can remove the fear, doubt, pride, guilt or whatever it is that is blocking my view. He is the One who can wipe my lens clean.

I am so grateful He is longsuffering and allows me time to see my smudges. When I finally figure out that I cannot clean them up, He comes in and He pours out His grace, love, and mercy on my life. As long as my journey continues here on earth, smudges will continue to appear. As long as I continue to trust in Him, He will clean them up.

Look around at His beautiful creation today and see Him in His full glory with no smudges. He is the master photographer who needs no words.

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17

No Titles in Heaven


We all have some kind of title attached to our name. Our titles tell bits and pieces of who we are from if we are married to what job position we hold. We can go from Miss to Mrs. to Ms., but it doesn’t really change who we are at the core. We can go from custodian to Lead Maintenance Supervisor, but we will most likely look like the same person. Titles are temporary identifiers, if you will.

We, at some point in history, fell into a trap of believing that some titles are more important than other titles. This faulty thought process also hints that some people are more important than other people. I agree wholeheartedly that Doctors and Nurses are very important and deserve the utmost respect. I also believe every other person deserves the same. Don’t get me wrong, I have fallen into the trap of putting certain people on a higher pedestal because of a title on occassion. I am human and get it wrong sometimes. Actually, I get it wrong quite often, but that is another blog post!

God doesn’t get it wrong. Ever. There will be no earthly titles in heaven. You were the CEO of a big corporation? Heaven doesn’t need one. You were the best physician in all the world? They were all healed on the way up. You were a janitor at an elementary school? Come on in, but leave the mop at the pearly gates! Computer repair genius? Nope. The connection here is better than you could ever understand. Queen? No queens here…only the One True King.

I would think that the current world pandemic would change much of this type of thinking. Disease doesn’t care who you are, where you live or how much money you make. It is an equal opportunity life disruption. It doesn’t separate us by titles. Let’s grasp and retain that thinking so when we walk along the streets of gold it won’t be so shocking.

No matter your title, neighborhood, salary or education…God loves you. He doesn’t love you less because you wash dishes for a living and He doesn’t love you more because you are a marine biologist. He won’t have a name plate with a title hanging outside your mansion. He won’t ask you to line up based on your importance. He won’t write you a check based on your earthly worth.

If you absolutely need a title when you see Jesus face to face, then listen carefully when He says, “Welcome, Child.”


“Titles are just constructs to help us label one another to quickly assess what someone is worth without thinking too much.” Rick Remender

What Changed?

Audubon Park
Henderson, KY
May 9, 2020

I woke up one morning recently and decided to let go of the confusion and frustration I had been feeling since the beginning of this pandemic. I grabbed my camera and headed out with no destination in mind. I traveled quite a few miles and visited several locations. It was a sunny day and the sky was the most beautiful blue with wispy puffs of pure white clouds. Everything was more beautiful than I had ever seen it before. Well, it seemed that everything was more beautiful. Was everything really more beautiful or had my perspective changed?

I had driven by the path that is nestled close to the Audubon Museum not that long ago. It was the same path and no one had changed anything at the entrance of the path. It was the exact same path, but the lens from which I was viewing the path was very different. I had been in the house for most hours of most days for weeks. We have had a lot of rain and many days were gray and gloomy. My mood was often the same.

As we travel through life, we go through so many emotions and our perspective changes as we grow and learn. We repeatedly get agitated with our spouse until our best friend loses their spouse to cancer. We get angry in the drive-thru line at McDonald’s until we reach the window to pay and the cashier tells us that the car in front of us just paid for our meal. We get upset with our toddler for spilling the milk until our sister miscarries her pregnancy. Our spouse is still going to do things to agitate us, the line is still going to test our patience, and our toddler will still spill milk. However, how we view these situations and how we react to them may change.

How is your perspective today? What do you need to view through a different lens? Many times a good night’s sleep can change our perspective. Exhaustion can skew our mind’s eye until things look very dark and suspicious. Sometimes a tragedy or major life event will cause us to pause and reevaluate how we see a particular situation. We think we are sinking until someone else drowning. The best way to adjust our perspective is to ask God to show us where and what we need to change. He loves us and wants us to ask Him for direction. If you ask Him with a sincere heart, He will show you.

I pray that you will begin to see beauty where you couldn’t see it before. May the sky be the perfect shade of blue, the grass be as green as emeralds, and the path be clear as you step out on a new journey with a new perspective.

“Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” Unknown

You Can’t Have the Roses Without the Thorns

Have you ever picked a rose from a rosebush? You spot the beautiful, fragrant flower and reach in with anticipation of the prize that awaits you. You often get a surprise along with your prize! Rosebushes can have some nasty little thorns. You may get the flower as well as a few battle scars.

Life is a lot like a rosebush. You go along and things seem to be like that beautiful, fragrant flower. You inhale deeply and a rush of life tingles all of your senses. Things are great and everything seems to be “coming up roses” until life’s pesky little thorns leave you with scars.

Here is the the rub – I don’t want to live a thorn free life if it means I can never smell the roses. God has given us so much beauty in the world around us. He offers us beauty in life through joy, grace, love, and relationship with Him every single day. We don’t always accept the offer or see the beauty because we are too consumed with other things. He has placed it on our path whether or not we choose to pick it.

God created each delicate petal of the rose, but He also created the thorns. He created the bees, but He also created the sting. He created us for a relationship with Him, but He also created us to have free will. You can’t have the roses without the thorns, but the truth is the thorns are worth it most of the time.

Carpe Diem and pick the rose!

“Truths and roses have thorns about them.” – Henry David Thoreau

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