12 Best Things I Ever Did {...from my bedroom to my business...}

Don't worry.  I'm not about to get all weird and overshare.

However, sharing is caring.  And I care.  So I decided to gather the top 12 best things I've done recently (they may or may not be the "best things I ever did") that have impacted my life significantly:

1.  Put this rebounder right beside my desk.  On days that are heavy desk days, I position it to where I have to step over it to even get to the bathroom.  This encourages me to jump up and down for several minutes at a time.  Health benefits are enormous.

2.  Began diffusing essential oils by my bed, every night.

3.  Began using Progessence Plus every morning.  Two drops, at the base of the front of my neck...about where your thyroid is.

Sorry for the really small picture.  I don't sell essential oils, and never will.  That isn't because I don't love them.  Rather, I have not found them to be the cure-all that many who make money from them portray them to be...and I realize that is just my experience, not theirs.  Big exception:  Progessence Plus, and lemongrass.  Progessence Plus for a general, overall, noticeable improvement in perimenopausal symptoms, and lemongrass because every time I wear it, women ask me what is that lovely, lovely  scent I am wearing

And they look like they might eat me alive.  It isn't a comfortable feeling, but it is oddly satisfying.

contact me for a wonderful essential oils rep.  She won't try to talk you into a thing you do not want...

4.  I started a new series:  "Wear Your Praise Wednesday"  That little weekly post drives a lot of new traffic to this blog.

5.  Put up serious boundaries with people who didn't want to take my boundaries seriously.  If you are a creative, you know this.  You have to guard your wellsprings.  For me, those wellsprings are prayer and meditation - and time to simply create in my studio without interruption.

6.  I started wearing bifocal readers

7.  I am in the process of becoming more "hard to get" so I can live the kind of life that makes good art inevitable.  I am being far more careful in my collaborations, and lengthening my turn-round time on commissions.

8.  Embraced my true giftings and calling.  (Part of this involved admitting to being an introvert, while at the same time not allowing that title to limit me.)

9.  Owned my inner bohemian.  While I don't see myself getting any tattoos, my style has markedly shifted.  I now wear jeans to church as a rule.  And I break silly rules, because silly rules should, without doubt, be broken.

10.  I found my voice again.  This happened right about this very month, in the year of our Lord 2009.  I had been in a friendship-relationship that I had been allowing to intimidate me.  I let it all go...both the intimidation...and the friendship.  The Lord said "Do not chase it down."

This was hard for me, because I am a "lifer".  I make friends for life, and I am loyal to a fault.  I will do anything, short of compromising the Gospel, to restore a relationship.

Not that time.  I had to obey God, rather than men, and rather than my own predispositions.  And it was a wonderful, bountiful dealing for my soul.  I found my voice again.  The growth has been explosive every year since.

11.  Accepted the fact that I am called to "glory and virtue".  (2 Pet. 1)  I am called to do big things, to make an impact, to be dang good at what I do and work hard and accomplish everything I can.  That word "virtue" in 2 Peter chapter 1, in the the Greek, has its roots in the word "manliness".

In other words, I have accepted the fact that I am to be strong and brave.  I can do hard things.  I'm called to give God "my best yes".  Called to virtue.  Called to glory...which means that others look at me and see the handiwork of very God.

Slackers can't do that.  Passive women can't do that.

12.  Bought a (used) Mac.  With a ginormous 22" screen.

Oh.  Happy.  Day.  Best thing I ever did for my business.

Flashback Friday {...a post from the archives on the danger of "perfect"...}

                                                 Today I'm throwing back three years to a
blog post about the danger of "perfect".
This post was entitled, "Permanent Beta Launch"
and it's a mix of small business and theology

and it was written in the language of sarcasm, in which I am, unfortunately, fluent.


(mixed media art-in-progress..."Suspended in Grace"...with four being the number of Creativity...and the amount of children I have had to release to God and His unfathomable riches of Grace!) 

Love Michael Hyatt's post today on living with Permanent Beta.  This is when you find an acceptable level of imperfection, and you roll with it anyhow. (That's my succinct paraphrase, and I think it's great.)

My Spiritual Gift is "Roll With It".  You won't find it in Scripture, not in those exact words, nor will you find it on any Spiritual Gift Test.  But I promise, my gift is Roll With It.

Not so long ago, however, my gift was more akin to "Wait Until It's Perfect".  The crazy thing is, nothing ever was.  Perfect.

Thank God He imparted the gift of Roll With It to me.  If He hadn't, very little would be getting done, except what I could do to please and bless myself. I wouldn't be actively mentoring other women, creating art and selling it, and we wouldn't even attempt some of the things on our schedule - because it's all risky business.

But we Roll With It.  What God says, we do, even when it is BigBig, even when we don't seem to have the resources, even when we can't do it perfectly the first time.

The big revelation (truly) for me was - and I didn't begin to really get it until I began naming my years, beginning with "Create" -  that you always tweak as you go.  I once knew a man, Godblesshim, who for years was hung up on pride.  He worried that The Preacher was prideful, worried about the pride of teenage boys, and prayed endlessly for humility - especially that others who were doing Big Things would Stay Humble.  He was the pride police, and of course, you aren't supposed to walk in pride.

So you sit and do little-to-nothing in the area of your true calling and passion, wearing pride turned inside-out like a reversible coat.  We all know that pride is what keeps you sitting there until you are no longer proud.  And the worst pride of all is to be certain of your own humility.  Might be best to shed that deceptively-protective layer and stand up and do something imperfectly.  By the way - be proud that you did.

Then you simply face up....man-up...woman-up....to the Tweaking Process.  Someone is going to correct/critique/tell you how you must improve.

Hug them, when they do.  I did...just last week - and they weren't just correcting my spelling or my grammar.

And I received correction a few weeks before that.  If no one is critiquing you, you aren't out in front.  (And if you are the one always critiquing...well...I've got sad news.  You aren't out in front either.  But I'll take your criticism on advisement.)

Does that mean I must embrace all correction?  Nah.  Only when it is for the Greater Good.  Only when it does not compromise the Finished Work of Christ in my life.  When it gets petty or personal, I toss it like year-old mascara.

Friend, it's all in the Tweak.  Life is one big 80 year Tweak.  Get over yourself, and move on.  If you make a mistake, own it and fix it.  I promise the juju of the universe is not moved when we screw things up.  You were born wrong, and you'll be wrong again before dinner.

All my life I thought I had God's stamp of approval because my life wasn't going badly. Now I was faced with the fear that it might actually be the opposite. What if my life was going so beautifully because I wasn't chasing after God?

- Jennie Allen, Anything

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...dresses as shirts...}

(image from allyandashley.com)

Is it just me, or has anyone noticed that hemlines have been alarmingly short in recent days?  That girl up there, she is beautiful, but whoever told her she was wearing a dress was punking her.  

I think that these teeny-tiny short dresses are on their way out, and the "midi dress" or "midi skirt" is making a roaring comeback.  

And that makes me sad.

It makes me sad because never...ever, in my memory...has there been a better selection of beautiful tunic-style tops as we have seen in the era of the Teeny Tiny Dress.

Still.  Younger gals, here is a piece of advice from someone who, though she is almost 50, still has some fashion chops:  if you have to wonder if it is a dress or a top...it is a top.  If it could kind of, sort of be either one...it is a top.

That dress up there?  Most.  Gorgeous.  Shirt.  Ever.

So, because I'd do anything for you, I dug around in my closet for the tops I have that were merchandised to me as dresses...

...and if this isn't proof that this dress is a shirt,  I can't help you.  And I can't ever take myself seriously when I shoot these blog posts.  

It's going to get worse, people, so if you are going to bail on me, do it now.

This little number is from Modcloth.com  I call it my hippie dress, only it could never be a dress because I can't praise the Lord in it.

This dress/shirt is a design by Jeanne Oliver,   and is no longer available.

Don't cry.

(Jeanne...this is me...begging you to design more dresses.  Because I need more shirts.)

Last but not least, I chose a dress that I actually do wear as a dress.  Just to keep you confused.

But no, really.  I wear it as a dress.  I only want you to open your closet and expand your horizons.  

Just don't wear a ball gown as a top.

Um.  Nevermind.

Why We Need Older Women To Be Visible In The Church

(Photo credit here)

A healthy church is one in which young women can look around and see versions of themselves ten, twenty, thirty years from now.  But for any woman over age forty, this kind of positive mirroring gets difficult, because the percentage of women who grow old,  gracefully part of the church - the percentage of women who remain - dwindles.

Oh, how we need women who remain.

Remain consistent.
Remain in a role of spiritual leadership.
Remain there physically.  (Oh how simplistic this sounds, but it is actually profound!)
Remain positive.
Remain passionate.
Remain theologically sound and circumspect and literate.
Remain interested in the health both of their home church, and the health of whatever network or denomination in which their church participates.

Why is it that women who seemed to have spiritual depth and passion in their twenties and thirties, why is it they check out of church life, as the years go by?  They scale back,  step off the platform, they start doing their own thing. 

They might want more of the things they think church life robbed them of, in their youth:  flexibility, a sense of personal identity, time to make more money,  the ability to succeed on what they feel are their own terms.   

I think many older women in the church see themselves as trapped in children's ministry or women's ministry or food ministry or being the wife of the pastor - trapped into hearing one more sermon,  listening to one more anecdote by one more pastor who feels no urgency to recognize their hard work...and they reach their limit. 

I'm sure you can sympathize.  I can sympathize.  But should we agree?  

We cannot.  Should not.  Dare not.  Because this Ever Increasing Kingdom is no Fortune 500 company.  It does not function according to network marketing principles.  I will go so far as to say - and this will be controversial - it isn't even about our gender, as women, and whether we are recognized for our significant contribution to the culture of our faith.  "...there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female...".  To create or nurse or foment gender issues in this Kingdom, is to beat a straw woman.

I say that as one who is very much about "girl power" and empowering women.

This Kingdom, of which local church is to be an embassy, is a heavenly one.  Its requirements are exacting ("follow Me") and its rewards are scandalous ("righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost").

Why is it important, even urgently important, to have women over age 40, or 50, or 60 remain vested and active and visible in the church? 

The first reason, obviously, is that it’s simply excellent to have a diverse faith community — plenty of people who don’t look, think, act, or talk all the same.   For another reason, studies show that older women actually do better quality, more thoughtful work than their younger girlfriends. (Although, I'm sure, part of that is because an older woman isn't as fragmented as, say, a young mom with several little ones.)

An older woman doesn't work harder.  She works wiser.

There are exceptions to that last generalization - one valid exception is the older woman who has had to retire from active ministry;  the older woman who is unable to do better, more thoughtful work because she has worked all her life, and now can't work at all.

Then there are exceptions that are not valid.  There are women who, as they age, develop an attitude of entitlement, and carry it right into their church life.  Others simply slack off and phase out because they started a second career as a Fuller Brush Saleswoman, or some such thing.  

In mid-life and later, precisely when a woman should be stepping up to the plate in her spiritual life and in her church, she suddenly loses her atmosphere of eternity, and starts living for herself.  

If an older woman does not, as a rule, make it her aim to remain in the work of the ministry to which she has been called, she should step back, and ask herself why.  Why would she feel the need to scale back the passion?  Why feel entitled to slack on excellence?  Or, worst of all, why disappear from the scene?  

As a resident older woman in the body of Christ, some of the work of modeling consistency falls to me, I guess, though the idea that I have anything meaningful to impart feels fraudulent: I’m exhausted and scrambling like everyone else. 

But I can't just ride off into the sunset and sell my Fuller Brushes.  Or, more accurately for me, I can't ride off into the sunset to paint my pictures, and step out of ministering to churches because other platforms are more lucrative.

That would be leaving the next generation of women to fend for themselves.  

Part of the reason I have had to adopt a role-model mantle is the fact that older women by the scores are phasing themselves out of active church life.  Part of the reason I pick up the mantle is that "organized church"  has been critiqued past all reason over the last decade, and as a direct result, everyone – male, female, young, old — is dealing with the temptation to fade away.  

But part of it is also this: I see a Great Awakening on the horizon.  The "organized" (meaning:  living, breathing, normal) church is about to have her finest hour, and her ministers will be rewarded.  I don't want to miss out on it.  So here I am, challenging every older woman I know to remain.

God's heart is for a young woman to be welcomed into the church of the Living God, and upon looking around, see many, many, many faithful, successful women from which to collate a vision of herself.  

Herself as a mother.

Herself as a single woman.
Herself as a married woman.
Herself as a business woman.
Herself as a grandmother.
Herself as a great-grandmother.
Herself as a bread-baker, recipe maker.
Herself as an artist.

Herself.  As broken.

Herself.  As wounded warrior.

Herself.  As beautiful.

Herself.  As consistent.

Herself.  As a passionate Godly woman who loves the Bride and is so old-school about church, that she's a brand new phenomenon.

Female role models don't have to be Wonder Woman, or to have lived exemplary lives, even.  There just need to be lots of them.  And they need to love and serve the Bride of Christ.

We need lots of women who are good at remaining.  Women who are physically, emotionally, spiritually "all there".

Calling all my older ladies:  put your skin back in the game.  This Kingdom of God is worth your everything.

I Love My VitaMix {...a digital cookbook GIVEAWAY...}

If you've been following my blog, you know how much I love my Vitamix.

{My website isn't monetized.  I don't have anything against monetization, I just haven't done it.  Blogging is hard work, and who knows?  I may monetize one day.  But I get nothing...nada...zip...if you click on any link and make a purchase.  My links are purely a courtesy.}

I share a few recipes here and here

So you can imagine my interest when Jesse Morgan contacted me, offering to give TEN of my readers a free digital download of her Blender Recipe  Cookbook.  Here is a link to the reviews this book is receiving.

Obviously, I am not going to collaborate on anything that I don't think is special - so please let me assure you, this recipe book - written for use with any high speed blender - is fabulous.

Orange Sorbet

Tomato Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

I am delighted to offer this FREE digital download to TEN readers!  To enter the giveaway, please just leave a comment below.  To be entered again, just share a link to this blog post to any social media  - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest - and come back and let me know where you shared it.

 {...and I understand that leaving a comment can be a hassle.  I wish I could make the process easier; but to eliminate spamming, I unfortunately have to keep certain filters in place.  Persevere, gentle reader, so you can have your free download of this recipe book!}

This recipe book is a compilation of LOTS of recipes across LOTS of categories.  You are absolutely certain to find new, healthy favorites.

A big thank you to Jesse Morgan for her generosity to my readers!

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...denim on denim, 3 ways...}

I don't know about you, but when I was young(er), wearing denim on denim was a definite faux pas...it was not done...just wrong.

Once again, throw the rule book out, hallelujah and amen.  Denim on denim is "a thing" now.

As in, perfectly fine.  Awesome.  Not a problem.

Here, I'm wearing a sleeveless chambray shirt from Target.  This little number is perfection.  I tend to be a bit "blessed" upstairs, and typically button-up shirts give me fits.  Not this one.  It has this cute little vented feature in the back (without being revealing at all) that also gives me a little room in the middle.

Putcha hands UP, girls.  You can't beat that.

The denim blazer is Liz Claiborne, and I found it in my trash can (well, laying on the top of it) about 8 years ago, after searching high and low for a denim blazer (tailored) and not finding one.  How, you ask?

Someone had given it to my daughter, and she wasn't feeling it.  So she decided to discard it, and got distracted before she could stuff it all the way in the trash can...she had laid it on the top of the can, and then she drove away.

You shoulda seen my face, when I walked out that morning, coffee in hand, and saw the sort of denim blazer I had had my heart set on and could not find - just that week.  I hadn't said a word about wanting one to anyone...and....there it was!!  I literally blinked and choked on my coffee.  I was freaked (in an almost creepy but thankful way) until my daughter came home from work later that day and the mystery was solved.

God loves on me in the weirdest ways.  I think He just loves punking me.

The fabric is the perfect weight, and it has tons of spandex.  It holds its shape like nobody's business - and it is the kind of piece that everyone loves it and asks where I got it.  I cough and I tell them.

Weird, I know...please come back.

The shorts are from (believe it or not) WalMart - for $8.

Can I put something just right out there for you?  You will never find expensive things on my body.  While I can't get all Flower Patch Farmgirl on you - she pretty much only wears thrift store clothing (she is one of my all-time favorite bloggers - I am so not hatin'.)...

...nor will you find me Stitch Fixin' (love Stitch Fix - but it got too expensive for this girl) or shopping Anthropologie without a hefty gift card.  (Not above shopping there...please, please know that all Anthro gift cards will be joyfully accepted...)

I'm somewhere in the middle of Anthro and Goodwill.  I'm a Target kind of girl, I guess.  Old Navy.  Modcloth.  My reasons for that fall somewhere between theology and necessity - and I don't examine myself too closely about it.  If you love Anthro - no condemnation here.  If you buy only thrift store scores - fly your freak flag, sister.

Tip:  It's always a good idea to buy something like chino shorts at a Wal-Mart.  I mean, how upscale can you get with 98% cotton, 2% spandex shorts with pockets?  The style is the style is the style, no matter where you spend your cash.  Get 'em at WalMart - then splurge on shoes.

Always, shoes.

This denim shirt is also Target - and the jeans are Target, but a discontinued style (the "Fit 3", in case you can score a pair on Ebay).  I bought them in "tall", and cut the hem off, because sometimes I love to wear ragged-hem jeans...that has been one of my signature "looks" for about 15 years, actually.

The shoes look like leather western boots, but are mules, and were a gift from a friend, nearly 10 years ago.  I get compliments on them all. the. time.

Here's our final look at denim-on-denim....transitioning from summer to fall.  The jacket is (wait for it...) Target.  The shirt is the same one as in the last picture.  The shorts are WalMart's cargo shorts in army green.

{anything army green you can get your hands on, for the upcoming fall season - do it...}

The necklace is my design, and the open-lattice leather boots were a Sole Society score (on sale) about three years ago.  They are perfect with summer skirts and even shorts, which is a look I love...that whole "boots with summer dresses" bohemian vibe.  I can't go all-out "shorts-with-western-boots" like a younger twenty-something, but I can rock this look safely enough.

In conclusion - there are a few rules to pulling off the denim-with-denim look:

1.  Vary the tone/wash of the denim
2.  No more than two denim items in an outfit.  For example:  a shirt and jacket...but not pants.  Jeans and chambray shirt, but make sure your jacket is tweed or wool or even twill.

In Which I Interview Myself About Everything You Never Wanted to Know {...a repost from the archives, slightly updated...}

I'm pulling a post from the archives this week - this was written back in about 2010, before I'd ever been interviewed by anyone.  Interestingly (to no one but me), I've actually been interviewed several times this year...and the process is always fun.  Welcome to my first "interview"...


I'm having an egocentric day, perhaps.  I'm in the mood to tell you....things.  About me.  Some of which I seriously wonder if I've ever told anyone but Tim or my closest home-girls, and maybe not even them.  So if you are as interested in my story as I am in your stories (and I truly am - 99% of the time, when you are physically with me at lunch or dinner or whatever, the conversation will be about you, and I'd be asking you all sorts of stuff)

...then just keep on reading, because you are about to be amused.

Or deeply concerned.

Where to start?

1.  I was a bed-wetter until the age of 13.  It was pure, unmitigated awfulness.  I had all the traits of a  disturbed child.  I heard "voices" in my head, had thoughts of suicide (only thoughts!) anger issues, the whole bit.  And bedwetting.

What changed?  I lie not...it was the active grace of God in my life, and the charismatic renewal in the 70's.   My parents left a somber, dead denominational church (and I do realize denominations are not all dead...and even "not at all" dead) for a charismatic church, where I began to be bathed in the presence of God every Sunday. 

I did have several supernatural spiritual experiences as a child - for example, I remember receiving ministry one evening, being overwhelmed by a sense of pure love and power, and that was the end of the voices in my head.....forever.  Literally, the night before, I had heard them, and that night I slept in quiet peace, and not one time, ever again, have I been tormented like that.  No voices.

Unless I'm just messin' with ya.  I joke about hearing voices now.

2.  I taught the Bible for the first time when I was 17 - to about three hundred people in my church, and even gave an altar call.  The altar was full.

3.  I was married at only twenty years old, and gave birth to identical twin girls nine months (and twenty minutes) later.  Honeymoon twins.

4.  I was ugly in middle school.  I'm talking u-g-l-y.  I had no self confidence whatsoever.  I was homely and I knew it.  Then, something happened, and I entered a beauty pageant at age 17 (the Junior Miss Pageant) and almost won.  I came in third - each of us girls in the top three were within tenths of a point of one another, in the closest competition to date at the time.  So I really did almost win.

And - of all things - I scored the best...out of every single contestant....in (are you ready for this?)  not grade point average.  Not my interview, though it went well.  Not in physical fitness - my dance was a fiasco.  I took top score in...

poise and appearance.  Apparently God really does make all things beautiful in His time.

Don't hate on me.  In that season of my life, I needed that.  Honestly, I've never been all that proud of that little fact about myself, and I'm not stunningly attractive today - but I'm not above wanting to be.

5.  I was president of the Knoxville chapter of Teenage Women's Aglow in the 80's.  (Anyone remember "Women's Aglow"?  It was the age of Christian women in power suits, silk scarves, and big earrings.)

6.  At one point in my walk with God, I wore a headcovering.  Only for a couple of months - until my then-pastor took me to task, a little known fact for which I thank him to this day.  No disrespect to those women who do wear head coverings, but today the very thought makes me cringe.  I am forever grateful to God for an Enlightening Grace that pulled me out of the clutches of legalism.  It was and still is a process.

7.  My husband bites his nails, and that irks me.  Oh wait...that isn't about me, is it?  I think it sort of is, because that one thing is the Great Secret Irk of my life.  He's doing it right now.

8.  I love him in every other way.  He's adorable and selfless and definitely cute in a baseball hat.

9.  I'm loyal as a hound dog.  Friends are friends forever in my world - you have to treat me and my husband with a lot of disrespect before I'd even think about kicking you to the curb.  Even then, I wouldn't.

10.  I'm a lot of things - I swear sometimes, am known for too much sarcasm (its a gift) and I feel more deeply and pray more than most people will ever realize.  But for some reason, I've never been a jealous woman.  Your success is mine.  I want you to be as blessed as possible - no strings attached.

11.  I'm a freakish combination of a Sophia Loren wanna-be, and Mother Teresa.  I think deeply, love God radically, read real-books like some women sit in front of Facebook (all day, every day) but refuse to live without high heels, red lipstick, and the occasional glass of wine.

That's all for now.  Whatever.  I'm so glad we had this little talk.  I'm going to hit "publish" before my better judgement takes over...