November 1, 2013, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Environment, Mind, Minimalism, Motivation, Poetry, Spirit, Writing | Tags: , , ,


Happy first of November! I’m praying this month brings moments of cozy clothing,  family togetherness and comfort food. Hot chocolate, pensive misty days and perhaps a first flurry. Most of all I’m praying wisdom, protection, love and pursuit of truth and the healing love of Jesus for all those who are seeking. God’s love never fails. ♥

I feel cozy already.

Thank God it’s Friday and we’re into November.

Simple poetry.
October 2, 2013, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Mind, Minimalism, Motivation, Poetry, Writing

Feels like a day for poetry
And uncertainty
Government unsure and stuck
Middle class still working
Compromising, muddling through
Making meetings and dealing with life
Simplicity is…
Not wanting it all
Knowing all things slide through your fingers
Blessed is he who holds on
Loosely, but doesn’t let go
I see so much frustration
A medley of problems across the nation
On the daily, folks juggling life
Sets of issues
Joys and problems
Simplicity is…
Knowing you don’t know
What your neighbor may be facing
Being lead by grace
Instead of money chasing
Simplicity is…
A dinner on the table.
Clean sheets.
A friend to confide in.
Giving more than you take
Speaking less
Listening more
No need to impress
Or pull down another
Holding your love in peace
The glow of contentment
is the simplest ease.

Just for today…

Just for today, I will choose to let go of the negative people, events and circumstances in my life that I cannot control or change.

Just for today, I will thank God for my blessings and continue to ask him to light my way according to His will.

Just for today, I will breathe in and be grateful for the life that I have been given.

Just for today, I will greet all with a smile and do my best with the talents I’ve been given.

Just for today, I will nourish myself with exercise and wholesome food, thanking God for the vessel He has given me.

Just for today, I will listen without judgement and answer with kindness to those who would seek counsel.

Just for today, I will accept who I am, where I am and that the God of the universe loves me unconditionally.

(All images courtesy of Google images.)

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations

of life that no man can sincerely try

to help another without helping himself.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson –


Refresh & Renew: Simple tips for Burn Out.

In behavioral health speak, we call the tips used to deal with tough life circumstances or fleeting emotional spikes in mood “coping skills.”

What are some coping skills you use to deal with difficult moments? What do you do to refresh the hum-drum, routine buzz of life?

Do you find yourself getting jaded, bored or burnt out in your daily activities?

These feelings can lead to complacency, which can lead to apathy and poor health.

Some typical coping skills written into behavioral support plans of clients are:

1. Find a place for quiet time. Take a few minutes away from social activity.

2. Count to ten or recite an encouraging affirmation out-loud, “This, too, shall pass.”

3. Take a deep breath.

4. Take a break and go for a walk.

Without ways to continually refresh our minds and cleanse our perspectives, we’re in danger of walking around everyday carrying yesterday’s garbage. A few of my new coworkers tease me because I entered into my new job with one of the most envied schedules – Fridays and Saturdays off. I remind them I have another part-time job I work Tuesdays and Fridays, so I don’t really consider them my “days off.”

“I remember when I used to do that,” said my previously retired coworker who now works part-time. “Now I’m just jaded.”

He said this with a laugh and I know he’s only halfway serious, but still, becoming jaded is so easy. Yes, I may be young, but no matter your age, if you don’t have a good process of coping with stress, then apathy and burn-out seem an all too daunting potentiality. I have felt jaded more than once.

“You’ve got to keep it moving,” I tell him with a laugh. “In with the good and out with the bad… every day!”

I say this in all seriousness, but I know I often so quickly forget to let go at the end of the day.

I think of a river compared to a pond. A river is constantly flowing and self-cleansing. A pond sits stagnant and quickly gathers a layer of muck.

So I take to metaphors and visualizations (coping skills!) to deal with the onslaught of stress from the outside world.

The latest one is my duck metaphor. You’re a duck and the stresses of life are the water around you, let them roll off your intelligently-designed water-resistant feathers.

“A bullet can’t roll off your feathers,” my husband tells me.

“Why thank you for blowing holes in that theory!” I think. (Pun intended.)

I know he says it in love, however dark his humor is.

Because you know what? Life will bring troubles. And we’re not immune to them all. Fancy shmancy therapy talk doesn’t fix everything. That is why we call them “coping skills” and not “fixing skills.” That’s where radical acceptance and commitment come in. When we lean into our pain and embrace the reality that we will have troubles, that in itself takes away the power of the pain over us.

The Bible teaches us not to conform to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We don’t have to choose lethargy, apathy and complacency when such refreshing alternatives are offered to us because of the love of God.

Text graphic from Ministries of Truth for Women

Simple spray for the heatwave.

This recipe came across my social media radar this week and it’s so simple and effective I had to share it in a blog.

Heatwave Peppermint Spray

Heat Wave Peppermint Spray (AC in a Bottle)

10g peppermint essential oil

10g menthol essential oil

Equal volume of solubilizer (Polysorbate 20) (I used a natural safe substitute instead of Polysorbate 20.)

200mL aloe vera juice

Weigh the essential oils out into an empty spray bottle, and top off with an equal amount of solubilizer.  Swirl to combine. Add a small amount of aloe vera juice and shake gently to combine. Add the rest of the aloe vera, shake gently to combine.

To use, spritz on bare skin.

If you don’t want to use the solubilizer you can leave it out and just shake thoroughly before each use. That means the mixture will not emulsify at all and you’ll likely have troubles getting it to spritz evenly.


My Cooling Mist with some tweaked ingredients

5 drops Eucalyptus essential oil

5 drops Spearmint essential oil

200ml distilled aloe vera water

10 drops vegetable glycerin (which is all natural and also very moisturizing for your skin.)

Shake well and spray!

You get a refreshing spritz that cools you down for a moment. The essential oils also leave a lasting tingle on your skin and you smell minty fresh.

My coworkers enjoyed this spray in our hot workplace yesterday and some of the clients enjoyed it as well.

Just a simple tip to beat the heat!

Photo: Distilled aloe Vera water and a few drops of vegetable glycerine to emulsify spearmint and eucalyptus essential oils = refreshing body mist! Works great and energizing, too :)

Products of environment.

It is a great deal

better to live a holy life

than to talk about it.

Lighthouses do not ring bells

and fire cannons to call attention

to their shining –

they just shine.

– Dwight L. Moody –

Pigeon Point lighthouse

Photo by Ian Chamberlain via

Our first teachers in life are the adults around us. We learn by example. We watch how they behave, how they treat us and how they treat each other.

Still, as adults, we’re strongly influenced by the people around us.

We are a product of our environments.

Unless you are a robot or totally emotionally impenetrable, the fact is, we are influenced by the people around us. Just try to sit at a table with a group of people, place a basket full of hot rolls and butter in the center of the group and see what happens.

When we strive for positive change, taking an inventory of our environment, our relationships and our daily interactions with others is key.

This week, in an effort to gain greater self-discipline, I began a kickboxing class at a local martial arts school. I’ve been to two classes so far and am feeling muscles that have been long inactive.

To say I was intimidated to begin this class is an understatement. I walked in to find this powerhouse of a woman (maybe about 5’2″ and 125 pounds soaking wet) throwing fast jabs and hook punches at our teacher’s gloves. She sidestepped around him swiftly, releasing a powerful cry with each punch. This was not soothing restorative yoga practice. This was tough, gritty, dig-deep exertion.

Some beliefs from the school’s “Student Creed” that mirror the principles of behavioral science:

1. I will develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my mental growth or my physical health.

2. I will develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others.

3. I will use what I learn in class constructively and defensively to help myself and others, and never to be abusive or offensive.

4. We are a Black Belt School: We are motivated. We are dedicated. We are on a quest to be our best. Asa!

This student creed, along with a list of other Black Belt principles; Modesty, Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit, are repeated out loud after and during every class, reinforcing the mission of the school.

“How do we lead?” the teacher asks.

“By example!” the students cry back in unison.

1 Corinthians 33-34

“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character. 

Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning;

for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.”


Dealing with Unsupportive People.

“You have to support your children to have a healthy relationship.” – Connie Sellecca

I stumbled upon this article today in my Facebook newsfeed from and felt it was worth a reshare on my FB page and on my blog here.

I have struggled with this challenge in my own life and know a lot of people my age who have also struggled with feeling less than supported in their ideas, especially if they were creative outlets or ambitions that veered from the norm. Given a lot of young peeps these days do have some entitlement issues and the need for more emotional validation, but every human needs to feel loved and supported. The lack of support and even discouragement can do a lot of damage.

One of my biggest “grasshopper leaps” (you’ll see the reason for the language after you read article below) was deciding to move to Costa Rica in 2009 and live there for an entire year. I was extremely supported by so many people, in fact, I was helped in fund raising, packing and researching my trip by countless friends, family members and people in my hometown. I was and am so grateful for this life experience.  But still, even though I had such support, my human negativity bias continued to see those who did not understand what I was doing or who were less supportive of my dreams. Perhaps I really am being strange and wacky, I thought. Perhaps my instinct and inner voice telling me to pursue this dream was not correct. (I see today that this was wrong and living in Costa Rica was the best thing I have ever done.)

Throughout my childhood and young adult life this unsupportive mentality has come from one specific person and I have always brushed this aside and strived to find understanding of her and with her. I have tried to be the bigger person – to open my mind and to know that misery loves company. If someone was striving to make me miserable, then it was because they were miserable. I told myself they could feel what they felt and say what they wanted, but it wouldn’t get to me or affect me. For the most part, it hasn’t, but not dealing with the root feeling of being unsupported had been leaving a secret residue of  shame and guilt inside of me for most of my young adult life.

The difficult part about this was that this unsupportive person was a family member and Christian. So I learned a lot about “what it meant” to be a Christian from her and what it meant to be a happy and healthy woman. Needless to say, I wasn’t learning in the best way. I equated service with suffering and womanhood with weakness. But in my grasshopper gut I knew there was more to the story and there was more to the world. I knew serving God and loving God could be tough, yes, and produce hardships, yes, and even cause stress, yes. The Christian life is not all rainbows and sunshine (but this is what my protagonist in this blog would have you believe all the time.) What I learned as I grew older is that the projections, questions and insults of unsupportive people were less about me and more about them. They were about their own pain, their own limitations and their own baggage. The deflecting attitude of the unsupportive person may come from a genuine sense of care, worry or protection, but when it strives to hurt, deflate your dreams and discourage your God-given passion, then it’s time to step back and ask more questions. Seek more understanding.

I still love this person dearly. I respect her. I admire her. I can see with compassion some of the struggles she has faced and still faces. These things are points in her journey that may not allow her to have supported my leaps and bounds, but she was still always there – ready to give me a hug. Ready to speak a sassy word or just to ask, “Stephie, what in the world are you thinking?” But we have, I believe, built a better relationship today. But it took a great deal of understanding, perseverance and talking. And it took a lot of releasing hurt and pain at the cross of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily,
as long as it is called “Today,”
so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

4 Lessons in Dealing with Unsupportive People

by Hope Zvara

September 25, 2012

Nothing in this world is the same. Nothing in this world is constant. Everything in this world is an opportunity to change, leap forward and grow.

Once, I was driving with my mom and kids in the car with my moon roof open. Out of nowhere, a grasshopper leaped into my car and sat on my thigh as I was driving. My mom, kids, and I squealed in excitement for different reasons. My kids thought a grasshopper in our car was silly. My mom and I instantly thought about leaps forward in my life. The grasshopper hung around for a while, then I cracked open my window and it sat on the edge for a few minutes. My mom commented, “Hope you teach us in yoga to meet our edge, honor it and see what you can learn from that view.” With the thought of sending it home, I gave it a small tap. Out it flew and back in it came. We all laughed, and my mom and I said at that moment, “Remember to trust. Big leaps forward in my life are necessary and present for me right now.”

I believe that life is constantly giving you signs and constantly telling you things helpful to your life; if you choose to listen. My little grasshopper friend was a confirmation to me that everything I am currently practicing and living is all part of my leap forward. Like a grasshopper, sometimes when you are leaping forward or are about to, unexpected things come into play to try to throw you off. How many times in your own life have you been confused for something you are not? How many times have you been confronted with someone who won’t let go of your past persona and see you for as you are? How many times have you said one thing and because someone is unhappy with their own life, they turn it around to try to stop you from leaping forward.

Maybe you are a little like me: you go to the beat of your own drum, not like the norm, see purpose and a learning opportunity in everything, and want to continue to change. You want to grow. You notice that when the growth is very prominent, on the cusp of leaping from well-cut grass to tall grassy hillside, then into a sunny place; that there are people and things in your life that come out of nowhere, to try to steal that away from you. You are the kind of person who tries to be honest. Sometimes, people confuse that honesty with judgment (and usually because those people don’t want to hear the truth). They try to stop your leap in mid-air because they don’t want anyone else around them leaping if they aren’t going to. Like a grasshopper, what works for others will not necessarily work for you. Even more so, what works for you will probably not work for anyone else.

So how do you be like that grasshopper and not get squashed in the process?

1. Like the grasshopper, it is important to understand that at times you may need to stay still. take it in, not say a word and just let other(s) do the talking. At other times or at a moment’s notice, you may need to take a huge leap into the air and land somewhat blindly and just trust that it’s right.

2. Trust your inner voice. Like a grasshopper’s inner ability to sense sound with their legs, sense the sound of your inner voice and trust that your navigation is on par.

3. A grasshopper has an inner sense of knowing when to make its leap. Your progress is made in the form of mostly leaps, rather than steps. Likewise, your progress will most likely not be slow and steady, but a playful combination of leaps, hops, bounces and strides. Like a grasshopper, those can sometimes be misunderstood. Know that your hop will only make sense to you, and it is not necessary for you to try to get others to understand.

4. Finally, a grasshopper can leap up to twenty times its height. Our grassy friend can only leap up or forward never back. So sure, glance back and see how far you have come, but for you my friend, the only way is up and forward by leaps and bounds. Not everyone will understand it, but other grasshoppers will. When you need it most, you will know to leap to a sunny mound and meet your fellow grasshoppers there, so that you can glance back again and see what you were able to overcome.


The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,

as some understand slowness.

Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,

but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 


(Courtesy of Google images.)

the feet of a child trotting clumsily along the floor… falling, many times.

learning how to ride a bike.

recovering from brain injury.

learning a new language.

starting a new job.

beginning new relationships.

recovering from addictions.

changing careers.

learning to apologize, to listen and forgive.

learning to love.

learning to let go.

learning how to heal.

I thank God for His unfailing patience and love for humans today.

No matter how screwed up we are or get. He loves us and wants good for our lives.

Change is never easy.

Pollution and sustainability practice.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

When the word sustainability is used it’s probably common to think of the environment and ecology. With my husband working in wildlife conservation this word comes up a lot in our daily lives. The growing knowledge of the availability of sustainable resources and potential action people, organizations and corporations could take makes it all the more painful when we witness instances of great greed or waste that if continuously repeated, could lead to resource depletion, thus being an unsustainable and foolish practice.

That being said, for as passionate as we are about these things in speech and conversation, there are so many ways we could be practicing better resource sustainability in our personal lives.

Our recent move has made this easier, as we can walk downtown to go out or stroll to the local stores for errands. We recently asked each other, “What could you do to live more sustainably?”

We thought of these:

1. Take shorter showers.
2. Use an entire container of something before starting a new one.
3. Recycle even when it’s not convenient. (It simply boggles my mind that in 2013 some people are still throwing cans, glass and plastic into the garbage.)
4. Start an herb garden for the kitchen fixings.
5. Plan meals and shop accordingly to cut down on food waste. Freeze leftovers.
6. Submit thoughtful letters and suggestions to local community organizations, clubs and businesses that are not practicing sustainable resource management. (Example: We were at an awesome choral and band concert last weekend, but they used an abundance of helium balloon decor, which means many of them went floating off into the atmosphere. Ballons are one of the most frequently found trash items washed up on beaches. Is trashing our ocean worth our gluttonous eye candy?)

Besides ecological sustainability, the term sustainability means something deeper to me. It means I’m conducting my life in a way that I can manage for years to come. It means that today I am making the daily decisions and using small actions that will create a brighter, healthier future for me and my family.

For me this means:

1. Daily prayer and Bible study.
2. Healthy, clean eating and cooking from whole foods.
3. Not using drugs.
4. Drinking alcohol sparingly.
5. Not smoking cigarettes (I used to smoke and am occasionally tempted in this area. Ooops! 😦 )
6. Daily physical activity.
7. Daily and weekly checking in with family and friends (through phone and snail mail, preferably.)
8. Sustaining my emotional health and relationship health by daily speaking words of encouragement and edification to myself (positive self talk) and others.

Practicing these things daily leads to a more sustainable lifestyle. Ignoring what we ought to be tending to only creates deficit and deterioration.

When you look at this all at once and try to practice it perfectly it could be overwhelming. Remember our practice is not perfect. Practice makes perfect.

Little steps and small behavioral changes are the key to sustainable living and a sustainable life.

Do you think about the practice of sustainability in your life;ecologically, physically, spiritually or otherwise?

One. Day. At. A. Time.


                  James 1: 22~27

Light and Dark.


I’ve been tinkering about in my new space and am creating a special area to commit greater time to my art and writing for the blog and other avenues, as well. I painted this on the wall in my new office at home. This verse has really been ministering to me this week. It is so amazing to look back at all the dark times of my life – all those moments of confusion, hurt, pain and ignorance and to see that God is using them for greater things. He is using them in ways I cannot comprehend or imagine myself. God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

It is often difficult to understand why we go through trials or pain. Why do people betray us? Why do relationships fail? Why do people hurt us? Why do we make wrong choices?

I know it’s very difficult to see through pain. Impossible, even. It’s tough to envision what is beyond personal hurt. Only love can clear the way. Only truth can part the clouds and teach our hearts to feel again.

And God is always there in that truth. God is always willing and able to reach us in our confusion, lies, betrayal and fear. There is no such thing as too far gone. But we have to move. We have to reach.

A miracle is often just a shift in perception.

Valerie Rumfelt

An on mission writer with winning ways to follow Jesus

After Narcissistic Abuse

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