On starting fresh…

Happy New Year and God bless 2014!


Some words in my mind on this first day of the year…


start again


be made new!

2013 was a year of great change… image New Year’s Eve sky.

I enter into the new year with hope and humility, determination and gratitude, peace and the blessed assurance that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. 2013 had moves, new jobs, losses, births, challenges with difficult people, exhaustion and disappointments. In all these old things, I stand in wonder at how God has carried us through. And I wait with expectation for the goodness to spring from the hardships. In the present, I choose to trust deeper. image This brings me to my resolutions…

1. Continue to release old pain and doubt at the foot of the cross.

2. Root into my new community through service and fellowship at a local church.

3. Continue a 40 day Daniel Fast, which I started today. Only fruits, vegetables, whole grains and water.  And lots of prayer! (It is only day one and I really wanted to eat some cheese…)

4. Make more art 🙂

5. Study, work hard and seek greater professional competency.

6. Love my family and friends and make more time to laugh!

As always, though…








Love-me-tender Veggie Barley Soup (My concoction for the evening)

1 yellow onion

two stalks celery with leaves

2 white potatoes

3 small beets

green cabbage slices

handful of baby carrots

1 package sliced white mushrooms

Two fist fulls of chopped kale


Vegetable Bouillon

Bring a large pot of water to boil with the vegetable bouillon, carrots, beets, potatoes, celery and onion. When root veggies are getting soft, add the cabbage, kale, mushrooms and any extra seasonings.  Cook barley separately (1 cup dry barley to 2-3 cups water. Bring to boil with a pinch of salt, reduce heat to simmer and allow water to evaporate as barley cooks for 30 minutes or so.) When the barley is tender, add into the beautiful pink veggie soup and enjoy!


May love guide us, hope fill us, and health dwell within us in 2014!

Taking courage.

Today thousands of people  are reflecting with still heavy hearts on this date, though a dozen years have passed since 9/11/2001. The loss and sacrifices of so many civilians, responders and emergency personnel is etched in hearts and minds. But we move forward, as we always do. And in these days when still more decisions are being made about our country’s involvement in conflict and international affairs, there are no easy answers.

There are no simple cliches of consolation that can erase the day.

Simplicity seems lost in these days of foreign interests and terror.

How do we see so much hurting, remember the pain and shock, and still feel hope?

Today I’m praying for continued healing and praying for our leaders in these complicated times.

Every day we have to remember how fragile our world is.

But I choose to remember how great God is and how vast His knowledge.

And these words are all I have today.

Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

I lift up my eyes to the mountains —

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121: 1-2


Simple changes.

Good morning!

As we creep into Fall, I’m very reflective of how I spent the summer. I’m not going to write about how time flies or the theory of relativity or anything, but seriously, moving to a new state and starting two new jobs at the beginning of the steamy season surely does have a way of making the days seem more rapid and complex. Hence, less blog entries. But, oh, how I missed WordPress. And though I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about writing, and talking to plenty of new peeps about this spectacular site and the blogging world.

Who do you know that has a blog?

How do they generate traffic?

What makes a blog entry worthy of being Freshly Pressed?

These are all things I’ve been pondering on my little hiatus.

And I simply decided I’m just going to continue blogging for the love of it.

Simple as that.

I love doing it.

And if what I share resonates with someone else, if it helps someone else or even cracks a smile… then that’s GRAVY, baby.

Now that the newness of my recent life changes are settling and the crisper air outside is reminding of the slow change upon us, I plan to steal more cozy moments with a cup of tea and my familiar WordPress.

Today, though… it’s THIS: A delicious protein and fruit smoothie…

No exact measurements, well, unless you want to count my half-hazard methods.

A fist-full of crushed ice.

A few strawberries

A pour of blueberries

A couple scoops of Greek yogurt

A spoonful or two of Hemp Protein Powder

Matcha Green Tea Powder (tear open a tea bag and pour it in.)

A squirt of flaxseed oil

About 1/4 to 1/2 cup orange juice to help it all swim and blend together in a peaceful coexistence.


In this busy season, I’m reminded by my dear loved ones (whom I also call to accountability) to remember to care for myself mind, body and spirit as I work to help others in my job. It is all too easy in the care-giving field to teach, instruct, help, listen and care and at the end of the day to forget yourself.

This is truth: you can not help anyone before you help yourself. You cannot give anyone a glass of water from an empty well.

Taking the time to replenish yourself is not selfish… it’s necessary… and it’s a beautiful gift to those around you, provided you’re sharing it and helping others along the way!

Joy is contagious.

We can’t help everyone, of course, but we can help some, and, at the very least, you can help yourself.


Amidst all the busyness, hubby and I are undergoing some external renovations as well – a new bedroom look and an orderly office and arts space for me. Here’s the sign I got yesterday for my office door. It’s not just a warning for outsiders (hubby and the cat,) but a reminder for myself.

Am I taking responsibility for my words today? For my choices? My actions? The way I handle things?

What about my mood? Do I take responsibility for that?

It’s a daily practice, this taking responsibility for your choices. Like it or not our behaviors not only affect us, they have a lasting impact on those around us.

I used to believe that I was responsible for so much more than I actually am. Guilt and shame were like a second skin.

These days, it’s much easier for me to say, “I don’t choose guilt or shame. I choose to focus on what I can change. I choose to be free in Christ and ask Him to lead me.”

He is the one we proclaim,

admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom,

so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 

Colossians 1:28 NIV

I realize that when you give something to God, He takes it, He bears it and He does not throw it back in your face later… “Love holds no record of wrongs.” You can totally trust God with abandon. This isn’t how life in the world works, of course. If you mess up, you better own up and be held accountable for your mistake. Hopefully, you’re surrounded by merciful people who can be understanding of said mistake and that help you through it. But whatever the error, God is always willing and able to listen and take it and help you grow through it. There is life beyond mistakes through Christ.


This is artwork I painted on my kitchen back splash. Remember Jesus loves you… Simple as that. Life gets complicated and has a way of trying to make us forget.

Have a blessed weekend!

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

The simplicity of love.

Sometimes I imagine God to be like an old Asian man sitting on top of a mountain, smiling and laughing with a twinkle in his eye. (Bear with me on this blog post – it may get strange – but, if you’re still reading my posts, methinks you enjoy a bit of strange.)

You make this tough, arduous climb upwards in search of “purification” or “spiritual progress” and when you get to the top, where you’re sure you’ll be closer to God and you’ll have reached some revelatory high of spirituality you find God to be smiling and laughing. You tell Him how sorry you are for all your mistakes and flaws. He just looks at you playfully and laughs, perhaps giving you a gentle pat on the shoulder. You ask for forgiveness and feel in your heart the urge to spill more details of how you’ve failed and stumbled, but the twinkle in His eye and the look of unconditional love stops you in your tracks. You realize that He already seees everything you are and everything you’ve done.

You see in that moment that nothing is hidden from God and nothing has been hidden from Him. And any attempt to explain to Him or talk to Him about your failings is met with childish laughter – not a mocking, silly laugh, but a jovial and pleasant giggle lifting straight from the belly. You feel that He is pleased you’ve come to sit with Him and all He wants you to do is be in his presence and to share in the joy of his love.

When I think about the love of God, I think about this giggling old man on the mountain (perhaps influenced by too many martial arts movies and culture) but I see how funny we humans are. We strive in the flesh to be worthy of union with God and the idea of being spiritual, instead of just accepting God’s love and sacrifice through His son Jesus…

Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

This is such a contrary message than the one the world gives us, which is to strive, try, work and earn our livelihood, our respect, our worth, our career, our education and our credentials. The prerequisite for connection with God through Jesus is purely acceptance and receiving His gentle and humble love.

Still, this is often easier said than done – easier written than felt. Because we’re still facing challenges and struggles in life. We still have responsibilities to ourselves and others, goals, families, emergencies and situations that demand our attention and cause feelings of perpetual struggle. But Jesus did not say “take my yoke and then you’re good to go” – He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” This is comforting because life with God is a process and a journey with endless lessons in learning.

If you’re not learning, you’re not growing! It doesn’t matter if you’re 65 or 12. It’s not over until it’s over.

And it’s never too late to learn the simplicity of love…

the gentle willingness to submit and accept that every day there is so much to learn.

I see that love displayed through the innocent curiosity and endless forgiveness of a child, the playful obedience of a young puppy to his master, the patient kindness of a parent to their child and the uplifting support of a loving husband to his bride.

Happy learning today 🙂



(Quote from Ministries of Truth for Women Facebook page Bethlehem, PA)

Somewhere along the Way…

Somewhere along the way

if you lose your sense of wonder

and the thrill of new beginnings

or an exciting dream to ponder…

Somewhere along the way

If you allow bitterness inside

or misery to ruminate,

and jealousy to hide…

Somewhere along the way

if your burdens grow so heavy

that your mind and soul drag

with infinite stresses as a bevy…

that threaten to break you

shape you and make you

define you, confine you

rewind you, design you

mistake you for worthless

assume you’re no good

If you find that your past

looms closer than it should

And you tell yourself you’ve done all that you could

And the pressure surmounting hits like a wave

And the darkness consumes like an unending cave

Breathe in and step back

Let Christ be the God a midst all your lack

He’ll fill in the spaces

He’ll bind up the wounds

soothing the places

hurt and unhealed

touching with love

a pain deep concealed.

With time and release…

Search Him and seek…

A heavenly peace

Shed for the weak.

Isaiah 40:29-31

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.




Inside out.

Drowning in paperwork.



Ever feel like life is just one heap of paperwork, tasks or errands demanding our attention?

I smile on the paperwork and the pesky little details. We’ve successfully moved to a new state and the calls, mail, paperwork and life-maintenance that comes with it is nuisance at best. It’s nothing that could surmount the joy of being closer to home or finally in a larger-than-one-bedroom apartment.

That’s Elijah wearing his post-surgical cone. He says “poo-poo” to paperwork, too, literally trotting all over it and turning it into a nap-time nest. I had to push him aside for this picture.

Weeding through the paperwork as I looked for the vet bill, I found this little note (first picture above) from Bible study tucked into the back of my Bible.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all our tasks.

And I wonder, is balance attainable? I feel it is just elusive. Kind of like humility. Once you think you have it down, you find your feet are teeter-tottering on the balance-beam of life.

Sometimes I think surrender is better than balance. I won’t ask for balance. I’ll ask to make greater space in my life for God to work and then I know for sure my feet will stay on the ground.

From “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver:

Mary had a heart of gratitude.

Mary came with abandon.

Mary heard what Jesus was saying and she responded.

Mary held nothing back.

Mary loved with her whole heart. She didn’t hold anything back. Instead, in sweet abandon, she poured everything she had into showing her love for Jesus.

“She has done a beautiful thing for me,” Jesus said in the face of his disciples’ disapproval. “Leave her alone. She belongs to me.”


To let go and heal.

You will find when ready

that your hand opens freely

and loosens the grip

On preconceived reality

Dispelling pain, bitter-root and tears

That flow

from misunderstanding and pain

of always falling short

or being abandoned

or hurt

or beaten with fists, hands, words, looks like splintering daggers.

You will find

that healing

means releasing

what impedes your healing

and turning to the light –

But in your time,

if it be so.

No one can unfold a flower

No man can pry an unripened

Fruit from the skin

Seamlessly or


So, naturally, it will be let go

when it is time to go.

You will find that

the right words come

The right people will come

No longer listening to

repetitious lies

Jamming love down throats

In a pious disguise

You will find that when you are ready to…

Your pain flees quickly

to make room for brighter faces

in healthier spaces.

April is national poetry month and I realize I haven’t written much poetry this month. This poem is about healing and the process that we all must go through at different levels when things happen to us in life. I hope you enjoy it.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24

Trust and obey.

“Love God,

and he will dwell with you.

Obey God, 

and he will reveal to you

the truth of His deepest teaching.”

– Frederick Robertson –


“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15: 55-57 

Valerie Rumfelt

An on mission writer with winning ways to follow Jesus

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