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Gender Rolls

Circa 20 weeks.

Rolling into the doctor’s office to find out if it’s a boy or a girl! Any last minute guesses??

[Editor’s Note: This post is dedicated to Corey Nalty, Jermaine’s cousin who passed away last weekend. He was one of the sweetest, most brilliant guys I ever knew. And who, like Jermaine always said, most definitely should have been writing for the New Yorker.]

I just finished reading Do the Work, which is this fantastic book by Steven Pressfield and in it he talks about meeting with his mentor, Norm Stahl, who made the comment:
“Steve, God made a single sheet of yellow foolscap exactly the right length to hold the outline of an entire novel.”

Pressfield delves further:
“He means don’t overthink. Don’t overprepare. Don’t let research become Resistance . . . Outline it fast. Now. On instinct.”

He goes on to talk about how all you need is a beginning, a middle and an end (and then he does this crazy thing where he breaks down genius pieces of work like Facebook and Moby Dick in 3 acts). Of course, the fleshing out comes later, but the idea is to get your plan out there and then get to the action while momentum is high.

Andrea got me this Thoreau necklace from the Greater Good last Christmas.

Some other good and gut-wrenching insights – why stupidity and stubbornness are among your greatest allies:

“The three dumbest guys I can think of: Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill. Why? Because any smart person who understood how impossibly arduous were the tasks they had set themselves would have pulled the plug before he even began.”

And: “I like the idea of stubbornness because it’s less lofty than “tenacity” or “perseverance.” We don’t have to be heroes to be stubborn. We can just be pains in the butt.”

My dream box - a daily reminder of what I'm setting out to do.

One last precious nugget from the book, one of my favorite quotes in the world:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is in us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

This is book is so money. You really need to read it. And that is all.

Murderers and Missionaries

The other day on Facebook, my friend Meghan posted a note where she spoke openly about how it breaks her heart when Christians lack compassion for those who are different from them. Here’s an excerpt:


“How can we, who claim to have received a gift that we clearly do not deserve, look down on anyone for their choices? It is our job to pray that the choices that people are making, good or not, lead them on a path to God.”

I was so moved, that I posted another clip from the note as my status on Facebook. It sparked an interesting conversation and I felt compelled to share it with you in the hopes that you would further the discussion. Before we get into the meat, a word about our conversers:

Andrea – My life-long best friend, a homeschool mom of 3 and foster parent. Her saint-likeness is pretty ridiculous.

Meghan – One of my very best friends (and my former roommate), mother of 2 with a personality that just doesn’t quit. Seriously one of the most charming people I’ve ever met. She genuinely cares about people in ways that continue to blow me away.

Jermaine – My husband, a multi-media illustrator in the Army and musical genius. He is one of the funniest, most gentle and loving guys I know. 

Damn, I wasn’t really planning on singing their praises. You don’t realize how amazing your friends are until you put it in writing. I feel humbled and inadequate. Guess that means it’s time to get started!

Here’s the quote:

“God made murderers, missionaries, rapists, worship leaders, pedophiles, mothers, arsonists, televangelists, illegal immigrants, mcdonalds workers, billionaires, and you. And He desires all of us to come to Him.”


Andrea – I’m having a real hard time with this idea right now.

Meghan – Ugh, I know. I wrote this primarily to myself. Pedophiles, rapists and televangelists are among those that I personally have wished would not be forgiven. But it’s just not the Father’s heart. He’s much better at being God than I am.

Andrea – In a general way, I can deal with this. But when the actions of others affect my life in such a profound way, I have a terrible time believing that “sin is sin” and that a curse word is the same as what is happening here. Anyway. He is a way better God than us, true :)

Meghan – Also, you have more compassion than pretty much anyone I know, friend. You are dealing directly with evil poured on the most innocent [by being a foster parent]. Of course this is hard.

Jermaine– Not trying to intrude on this loving and beautiful discourse, but thought I would add . . . I think it could be argued that a curse word is not always a sin. Also, I think the notion that rape is “worse” than theft is probably accurate, but I think the point is that it’s just not ultimately relevant if the point is reconciliation for everyone.

Me, Jermaine and Sadie

Andrea – That’s where I have an issue. That reconciliation is for everyone. But in another mind, you have to have a willing heart to come to God. People of an evil nature, probably do not and will not. Even if God wants them to change, that’s the whole point of Christ.

Jermaine– Paul considered himself the chief of all sinners. I’m certainly no better than him, so the way I look at it, if it is offered to me, it should be offered to everyone. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

Jermaine – Okay, last thing. I just remembered this discussion we had in our small group in Maryland. The idea that some people seem like “bad” people, and some people seem like “good” people came up. But a point someone made was that we always seem to see bad people as other people. People who do things we don’t do. Killers and rapists do things we don’t understand, so we push them away, and set ourselves apart. People who say disparaging things, or are wasteful, or selfish, we say are “just weak”. That’s because we identify with them. But I think labeling certain sins/people “really extra bad” is really our way of making ourselves feel more okay with our own sin.

Andrea – Yeah, you haven’t seen something of the things I’ve seen. I’m going with that they are evil. I’m not okay with my own sin, but what some people do is nothing short of evil. But that wasn’t the point of any of this. I admitted my own struggle with feeling that they deserve forgiveness or any kind. I’m just being honest.

Andrea – Also, you [Jermaine] have an amazing ability to want people to see two sides. I get that. I see two sides and I see your point. However, evil on innocent helpless souls? I, at this point, don’t want to see another point of view. I’m struggling with this a lot. I’ve looked at lots of view points. I’ve discussed it in small groups. At this point in time, this is where I’m at. I’m not being typical ‘stubborn Andrea’.

Jermaine – Heh, believe me, I struggle with it, too. I think it’s cool that you are honest about it. I was just sharing some of the discussions we’ve had that I found insightful, in hopes that it would add something to the discussion. You can disregard them, as I definitely wasn’t trying to put you on the defensive. Take your time to work it out; everyone probably has to do it at some point. The point I was trying to make was not that their sin is “not that bad”, but that my sin is also “nothing short of evil”, and I’m trying to see it that way. ♥

Andrea – The point I was trying to make was not that their sin is “not that bad”, but that my sin is also “nothing short of evil”, and I’m trying to see it that way. ♥—that’s my point. I can’t believe that anything you’ve done is ‘evil’ compared to what people have done to innocent kids. I have a very hard time with believing that “sin is sin” and it’s all hated equally.

Brandy – I agree with Jermaine in what he said about the equality of sins, but if I’m brutally honest, I can’t say I think my sins are much better than the people we deem evil. Especially if, like Jesus said, thoughts are just as bad as actions. I’ve had some pretty horrific thoughts. I hate them passionately and I pray for repentance and forgiveness when they pop up, but they still rear their ugly head occasionally. So as much as I struggle with the concepts we’re dealing with here – and I do, tremendously – I know deep in my heart that I’m no better than “those other people”.

Plus, there was a time in my life that I acted on some of my evil thoughts, a time when I cared only about myself and my desires. I think in this case, having been incredibly messed up has turned out to be a huge blessing. God gave me the gift of empathy. It’s probably harder to empathize if you’ve, for the most part, done the honest, responsible thing.

I think for us as individuals it boils down to loving your enemy. Jesus knew what was in our hearts – he loved people that murdered and tortured his friends and family (which included precious babies), and he loved the people who murdered and tortured him. But at the same time, he made a point to mention that if any of us causes one of those little ones to stumble, that person was doomed. So I know that he sees your point, Andrea, too. I think he calls us to love people who do despicable things because it’s good for our souls – compassion is life-giving.

Brandy – Also, I think it’s arguable that people don’t do evil things in a vacuum. I don’t think some people are just evil, it’s cyclical. Evil was done to them. My pastor mentioned before that most of the sins we commit are our ways of coping with our pain. In this way, we aren’t the only ones to blame – nor are the people who did evil to us. And don’t think it’s ever as easy as just stopping. You must get to the root, you know? And I think prayer and counseling are among some of the best ways to begin that process. But I don’t think it’s ever possible to get to the root without compassion.

Brandy – So, if our job is to partner with God in creating heaven on earth, and I believe it is, we must love our enemies. Regardless of how painful that is. There’s no other way. And I would argue that everyone on this post is actively doing that in their own beautiful way, regardless of what “side” they’re on. *slips off pregnant soapbox*

Meghan (added as an aside when I asked them all if they minded if I put this on my blog (and concerned that the conversation may be a stumbling block for people)) – There is a very concrete line between God loving a pedophile because he made that person to BE a pedophile and God loving a pedophile because He created him in His image and see’s the pedophile’s true nature. Try to encourage people to steer away from what sin is or isn’t acceptable and into the true heart of the Father which is that sin is bad. Through Jesus we all have a shot at being pure. Without Him we are all lost.

Thanks for reading! Post a comment below and share what you think about all this! I’d love to hear some other sides.


I’m not really “back”, but I thought I’d check in for an update.

These past few weeks have been rough, but the scuffs are getting smoothed out and this week hasn’t been too bad. We found an apartment! Unfortunately, we can’t move in until the 23rd. So we’re living out of a hotel for now. It’s nice, but cramped, of course. And it’s making me all the more eager to get back into a space that we can call our own.

Sleeping beauty in the hotel.

And that’s what this post is all about. :)

I was never able to wrangle the decor or design of our last apartment. I’d really like to do that here. Personalizing our space is a creative outlet that I totally enjoy. And when it’s done, I’m hoping for a funky but functional apartment that will help us work, play, relax and feel at home in Fayetteville.

Our beautiful future kitchen. :)

Buut, I’m no designer. And we have almost no budget for this – at least not right now. But I don’t want to wait to start – so I’m really interested in seeing what we have now that we can work with.

SO. I’m calling all designers, creative types and those who shine making something groovy out of lame-o stuff. Here are our main dilemmas:

  • This is the layout for our new apartment. It’s a 2 bedroom because the complex we wanted didn’t have any 3 bedrooms available right now. We’re putting ourselves on the waiting list, but I definitely don’t want to wait to start making our apartment our home. Trouble is, we’d like to fit my office, a nursery, a homeschool nook, and a mini man-cave somewhere into the space. And besides painting, we can’t really make any permanent adjusts to the apartment. So, we have to be super duper creative.
  • I’d like to make the 2nd bedroom triple functional – Sadie’s room, the baby’s room and a guest room when necessary. We love having people over but we’ve never had a welcoming place for them to stay. The other idea I was entertaining is giving Sadie a full size bed so that we could offer our guests our master suite when they come to visit – that way we’d still have a bed to sleep in when they come.
  • I’ve considered putting my office in our walk in closet, the coat closet, in the corner of our bedroom or the corner of the living room. But I can’t decide which place would make the most sense. I need lots of storage and I want a funky design. Plus, I’m a messy one, so I think I’d like to put it somewhere I could just close off.
  • Jermaine needs a place he can call his own, but he’s not really sure what he’d want to put in there (that is, ahem, appropriate). Since he’s so tech savvy and he likes modern, I was thinking it would be fun to create something geek chic. It could go in the dining room, the living room or even the laundry room (well, maybe).
  • It’s looking like we’re going to continue homeschooling into 4th grade, so Sadie needs a little nook with lots of storage and room for her desk. Ideally, I’d like it to be roomy enough to house my teacher workbooks, too (although I could put them in my office). It could either go into the living room, her room, her closet, the coat closet, or the dining room.
  • We still have a couple of months to work out the nursery situation. And even when the baby comes, he or she will be sleeping in our room for the first couple of months. But eventually (if we’re not in the 3 bedroom by the end of the year) I’d like to figure out how to fit both kids comfortably into the 2nd bedroom. It has a walk-in closet and it’s own bathroom, so I think if we do it right, everyone will be happy.
  • Jermaine dislikes some of the furniture that we already have, but we don’t have the money to buy all new stuff. I’d like to paint and upcycle what can be salvaged into pieces he’d really dig. But, that’s a task – I tend toward vintage and he likes modern. Not to mention the fact that painting and upcycling require actual work and I’m definitely one of those people that has the best of intentions but who “never really gets around to it”.

Exhibit A. Jermaine borderline hates this bookcase. It was mine from before we got married. I've always wanted to redo it, and I'm hesitant to get rid of it just yet because it adds a lot of storage. Any ideas to make it more clean and modern?

Exhibit B. Do you see the trunk in the middle of the chaos? I bought it planning on decoupaging it, and Jermaine was cool with that. But I think he's given up on me actually getting around to it and the other day he admitted that he didn't like it. There's still hope, right?

Exhibit C. This was my furniture from when I was a little girl. It's Sadie's now and it's redo is loooong overdue. Some of the drawers don't glide like they're supposed to. I'd like to fix that (anyone know how?), paint them black (Sadie likes black and it'll go well with her girlie accessories) and put some fun new knobs on. I think we could get away with using them for both her clothes and the baby's (and the top of the dresser that you can't see can be used as a changing table).

I guess that’s about it (it’s enough, right??). Free, creative and multipurpose ideas welcome – please comment below!

The morning after

Where do I even start?

Our beautiful photographer.

I’m feeling really uninspired. Feeling like a bad writer. It’s been absolutely crazy. And the chaos has apparently clogged my pipes.

But, in true emergency Breakthrough form, I’m going to press on. And write like my life depends on it. Because it kind of does.

Let’s go back to Easter. Easter was beautiful. We spent the morning at church. On holidays we close down the different kids’ classes and all ages worship together. This makes everything packed and chaotic and wonderful.

After church, my friend Priscilla, a photographer and designer, took family pictures of us. The sun blazed as we trekked all over the church property searching for shady spots to get good light. By the end, we were sweaty, itchy (from laying in the grass), and bursting with laughter. It felt like the perfect way to commemorate our last day in Maryland.

After pictures, we grabbed some lunch and went home to finish (or start) packing. I wanted to nap, but kept on. Sadie was such a great help. And with the three of us rocking the apartment, we got it together in 2 1/2 hours. Loading was trickier, our Kia balked a bit. But in the end, we stuffed her full, fitting in all our most prized possessions – which included our dog, some Easter candy, my favorite books, Jermaine’s laptop and the three of us. We headed to the in-laws for some love, prayer and last minute advice.

63 acres to play on.

We had just one stop after that. When it was all said and done, we said goodbye to Maryland around 10pm. It felt unreal. Since the movers weren’t scheduled to come until after we left, and we don’t have a place to live in just yet in North Carolina, it didn’t really feel like we we’re moving.

I found Sadie in tears the other night.  It was after she’d gone to bed a couple days before we left. I’d peeked in to check on her, and she was balled up on her bed with her back against the wall and her arms clasped around her knees. I guess it’d just hit her. I held her and called Jermaine in the room for a family hug. We told her it was okay to cry. I’ve definitely been crying a lot lately.

All these pictures here were taken by Jermaine on his phone. He's quite the photographer himself.

As we set out Easter eve, I thought about my brave daughter and my brave husband. This journey has been difficult on both of them. They continue to keep me inspired. Hitting the interstate, we felt almost blissful. Very thankful that it felt like vacation.

On the way, Sadie played peculiarly (using her hands as puppets, as she does) in the back – cramped up with our puppy and several suitcases. Jermaine and I talked about Seth Godin, the future of enterprise and my budding business. Spirits almost soared. Great conversation with Jermaine is among my favorite things in the world.

At 12:30am, it happened. We were mid-brainstorm – dreaming up fantastic ideas for eBooks – we heard something rattle under the car, all the warning lights came on and that was it. The car just died. All the electric stuff worked, but it wouldn’t turn over at all.

Really? This can’t be happening.

Eventually we did what you do. We called our insurance company – thank God I have roadside assistance, right? Well, maybe. We sat there in the hot, black Virginia night. And we waited for our agent to call us back.

(Did I mention we were on our way to visit my friend, Andrea? I should have mentioned that. Jermaine was supposed to report to his new duty station on Wednesday (yep, that’d be tomorrow). Our plan was to do some visiting and enjoy our last couple of leave days together before he had to report.)

Showing me how it's done. ;)

Bad news. It was late. It was Easter (sort of). We were 70 miles away from where we were trying to get to. And we were way way out in the country.

They couldn’t find us a tow.

Just like that, we were stranded. We called around. We called the sheriff’s office, for goodness sake! No luck. Sigh. It’s going to be a long night.

We sat there for a while. It almost looked like we were going to have to drag Andrea out of bed at 3am to come get us and leave our car with all our valuables. Double sigh.

But then! Blue flashing lights pulled up behind us. I’ve never been so happy to see a cop in my life. It was the sheriff. The sheriff of the same county, in fact, that we had just called. Amazingly, he hadn’t even received the call. He just happened to be patrolling the area.

He tinkered under our hood for a while. No cigar. He suggested that maybe he’d have better luck getting us a tow. Bingo.

It took 40 minutes for the tow truck to arrive. And another 15 to get our car loaded. Our sheriff stayed with us until we drove safely off. We’ve decided to name our next car after him. He was truly an answered prayer.

The whole ordeal took nearly 4 hours. It was 5am before we crawled into bed. I rarely stay up that late when I’m not pregnant. I thought I was going to throw up. But I was so thankful we didn’t have to stay there.

My little rockstar. Such a poser.

Did I mention Sadie was awesome? Cramped, hot and tired. She didn’t complain once. And she even consoled me when I got frustrated about not being able to find a tow. Beautiful child. I’m so incredibly blessed.

These last two days have been spent on the phone. The car, as it turns out, is unfixable. The exorbitant cost of the tow exhausted the rest of our moving buffer money. We have another car – in Charlotte, NC (my parents are actually giving us theirs!). But we weren’t sure how to get there. We needed to see if Jermaine could get an extension on his report date. We’d booked a nonrefundable hotel stay that started on Wednesday. And, to add insult to injury, we found out that someone needed to be with our movers while they moved our stuff (in Maryland). If only we could be in 3 places at once. That would solve everything.

I sort of lost it Monday night. I was tired of being strong. A month ago we didn’t even know we were moving. When we got the confirmation, we had a turn around of about a week and a half to get it all together. And we had. But this just seemed like too much! I felt lost. I didn’t know which direction to point.

As corny as it sounds, Jermaine and I had a heart to heart last night. And we made a list of all the people we had to call. He’s been so great. I’m usually the one who does all the no-fun grown-up red-tape call stuff. But being pregnant has taken a lot out of me. I struggle with a serious lack of energy and patience. He’s so taken over. And taken care of me. Once again, I’m crazy blessed.

Jermaine had to pose me to get a decent shot. But this one's okay, I think.

We woke up this morning feeling determined and renewed. We began the process of chipping away at all the agencies and organizations that needed to be informed and pleaded with. We sent paperwork and blood and whatever else they requested. It felt a little like beating our heads against a wall. At 4pm, I was getting nervous. We still didn’t have confirmation of an extension for his leave. And nothing else was really coming together.

And then it happened. All at once. We got confirmation that he needn’t report until Monday. After a lot of yelling on my part, and help from my exceptionally persuasive mother-in-law, the nonrefundable hotel reservation people made an exception on our behalf. Some friends of Jermaine’s parents offered, out of the blue, to Western Union us some money. And my father-in-law offered to take off to go and be with our movers.

We still don’t have a place to live when we eventually do make it to our duty station. But I have a hunch that it will all work out. I’ll be very glad when this move is over, but in spite of all of it, Jermaine, Sadie and I are enjoying our precious time together. Visiting my best friend has been nice because we’ve known each other so long, we don’t have to feel bad for being such terrible house guests. ;)

I’ve been meaning to get this post out for a very long time. It’s point is to let you know that I’ll be going through a lot in the next few weeks and I won’t be able to write as often. But, I’ll be back as soon as I can. And I’m using this in-between time to dream up crazy schemes for this blog that I think you’re going to love. I had hoped to get the Love Wins review out before we left, but it didn’t happen. Heh, I had hoped to get this “wait a minute” post out before we left, too, but now I’m glad I didn’t.

Feel free to pray for us. I’m praying for you. And thanking God, too.

I have felt like a mess for most of my adult life. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told (in jobs, classes, internships, etc, etc, etc), “It sounds like you’re going through a lot right now. Why don’t you come back and try again when things calm down?”

And you know what? They never effing have. 

It’s so bizarre. My life is utter chaos right now. My husband is in the Army and there’s a medium to solid chance he’s going to end up getting deployed. We’re moving to a new place where we know almost no one. We have a baby on the way. Sadie and I are just finishing up our first year of homeschooling. And I’m starting a new business. Morale has been up and down and down and up.

But still. We know deep in our bones – we are crazy blessed. We’re alive and we have good friends and great family. And we have passion and excitement and fun and laughter and love.

The kind of love that rocks the world.

Maybe it’ll always be this crazy. Maybe I’ll always feel two steps behind myself. But truly, I’m starting to dig it. These past few weeks I’ve been told – in letters, in comments, on Twitter, on Facebook, and in person – that people – friends, family, and strangers alike – have been reading my story and have been deeply affected. And it’s kind of amazing to me because when I was going through it all, it was hell. I felt like a mess. I felt like I could do nothing right. I felt like a screw up – and that maybe that was my lot in life.

But then, God gave me writing. And this horrible, fantastic urge to share all my crap openly. Putting it all out there felt a little bit like shooting myself in the foot. I’m not going to die, but it can’t be wise, right? But the urge wouldn’t go away. So, eventually, I just closed my eyes and pointed down.

I haven’t made a dime yet with this new business/writing/speaking/whatever venture. But I’m pretty sure I will. And I don’t even care so much if I do. Because I’m starting to see that this is what I was made for. I’m finally starting to trust these passions of mine. And in doing so, I’m finding my purpose. 

It’s pretty freaking awesome. Another beautiful mess.

PS. And one of the best parts of this whole thing is meeting people – online and in coffee shops – who are just as crazy as I am! And just as passionate. There’s something really alive about it all. Whether you can see it, smell it, taste it, touch it, hear it, talk about it or not – it’s as real as it gets.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, I’m sure you know that I haven’t been able to stop talking about Tara Gentile since the beginning of the year when she graciously allowed me to ask her a few of my burning questions.

Tara Gentile -

There’s good reason for that. She’s pretty incredible. I just finished her Art of Action class and for the first time in my life, I really believe that I have the skills and experience to earn money doing what I do best – raw writing and passionate sharing. The thing is, my gifts have been around the whole time (though, of course, the more I work the better I’m getting!), the main trouble was the believing in myself part. And my disbelief became inertia. So effectually, I just sat around fruitlessly wishing I could live out my dreams. Which was awesome, obviously.

If my dreams had gone away, it would have been easier. I could have moved on. Made due with good enough. Ate some ice cream and called it a night. But they didn’t. In fact, they got bigger. More pressing. They just sat on me, willing me to take action.

So, I did.

Honestly, my actions were, at first, pretty random and a little arbitrary. They were something, though. And they led me to Tara Gentile. I’d bookmarked her blog, Scoutie Girl, sometime last spring or summer. I don’t remember what, something about her style and her message caught my eye.  But then, I forgot about it – life is so hectic. I didn’t click on it again until my daughter decided she wanted to join Girl Scouts and I mistakenly clicked on it thinking it was GS registration link! Here, yet again, her blog captured my attention.

52 Weeks of Blogging? I could get into that! A mini course on pursuing your passions? Oh, I need that. In fact, that was my real introduction to the wonderful world of Tara Gentile. A mini e-course that came to my inbox full of ideas and doable action steps for breaking ground in following your dreams. I had a lot going on at the time. I couldn’t focus on the course completely, but it sparked something inside of me. It served as a burning reminder that I had dreams and passions that just weren’t going away. What’s more, I didn’t want them to.

After my trip to India this past January, things calmed down a bit. Around the same time, I heard about another e-course Tara was offering – this one was a lot bigger – and more expensive to boot. But I was bordering desperation with these passions of mine. I felt I needed to do something – anything – to work toward pursuing them. And I felt I could use the investment to my advantage. I knew if I spent the money, I’d be much more likely to put in the time. You’ve heard me rave about how critical the Art of Action has been to my journey of believing in myself and my business. And I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive responses – friends, family, neighbors and strangers – inspired by my journey, expressing an interest in exploring their own creative endeavors.

So, this is that. But, this is not that. I would encourage anyone interested in pursuing their passions and looking for a glorious way to network and meet loads of amazing new people (who are also obsessed with following their dreams and really doing it) to take the plunge and register for Tara’s Art of Action class. It’s seriously groovy.

But – if you’re not there yet, if you just want a taste of Tara’s action-packed goodness – there’s another sweet and juicy option. She’s made her mini e-course into an eBook! And it’s only $8. :)

Making Motion – 7 Steps for Doing More with Your Creative Life is, well, it’s action packed! If you’ve been reading my blog, getting all goosebumpy and inspired, then I really think you’ll love it.

Erm, sorry to go all selly in this post. But I’ve read the book and I took the class. I got so much out of both of them; I wanted to share the goods with you.

So go forth and get some action! Oh wait . . . er, um, I’m not sure that’s what I meant to say. O.o

I got the idea from an article in Boho Magazine. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article and I don’t remember exactly what it said. I just know that this idea was in there and that I loved it. The purpose was to create a board to clearly and creatively outline your dreams. But I wanted to do a little something more. So I came up with my dream box.

I already owned a couple of old cigar boxes that I had bought on clearance a few months before. They were perfect for the job.

I thought about my dreams. Writing. Creating beauty. Performing. Working with the power of Story. Ending human trafficking. Pastoring and preaching. Counseling. Teaching about God and the call to love generously. Playing with ideas. Being open to change. These are just a few of the things I dream about.

My box isn’t finished yet. I’m sure I’ll post it on here when it is. But there is beauty in the process. And so I wanted to share with you what I have so far.

This is the inside bottom, where the dreams will go. I will most likely add more to it, but Im happy with the beginning.

This is the inside top. Some meaningful words, beautiful Washington state and a picture of me and my daughter when she was 3, donning hippie Halloween costumes and fake smiles.

This is the outside of the box. I LOVE the way it turned out. Its beautiful, creative chaos. And purposefully, the top right-hand corner has been left untouched.

What would you put in your dream box?

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – EB White (Tara Gentile posted this in the Art of Action forum a couple of days ago. I think it’s my new life quote!)

At the beginning of the school year, Sadie (my kid) and I, began reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book CS Lewis wrote in the series The Chronicles of Narnia. This evening we read the last chapter of the last book of the Chronicles, The Last Battle. I read every single beautiful word of those 7 precious books out loud, as she sat in our big fluffy white bean bag and soaked in the story. 

At the beginning of the school year, she was below her 3rd grade reading level and she disliked books very much. This was actually one of the reasons we decided to homeschool. The other day I asked her to begin Hoot, a book with a 5th grade reading level, and she did so with ease! Besides our nightly reading sessions, she’s read 7 or 8 chapter books on her own – and now she loves to read!

I know it’s annoying to brag about your kid, but if you’ve read anything about our homeschooling journey, you know how much we’ve struggled (and how I’ve felt like a less than adequate teacher). I am so proud of my little reader. And I am proud of our journey through Narnia together. I am so happy that we kept it up – that I read on those nights I would have rather been on Facebook (or gone to sleep). Throughout the journey, the most wonderful thing happened. I started out forcing myself to read. I never wanted to and I was always glad when the chapters where short. But, the further we got in, the more engulfed each of us became with the story. By The Horse and His Boy (the 5th book, if you read them in the order Lewis wrote them, as we did), we’d end up reading 2 or 3 chapters a night – and I found myself excitedly anticipating the end of the day so that we could get back to Narnia. Come to think of it, it’s a lot like Sadie’s journey into reading this year.

There is power in Story. I have long been fascinated with that. Folks like CS Lewis and Stephanie Meyer taught me how to get lost in a good book. In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Don Miller and Bob Goff encouraged me to write a good story with my life. In this reading journey with Sadie, I learned a beautiful new way of connecting with my daughter.

Last night, in the The Divine Conspiracy, I read about the kind of teacher I want to be. I want to be like Jesus. He didn’t teach with the idea of stuffing more and more knowledge for knowledge’s sake into the heads of his students. That kind of learning is a modern concept. He taught so that they would hear the message and it would make a marked difference in their lives. He had a guerrilla performance, hands on, earthy technique. It was disruptive, but not in the way that anyone was expecting. He told stories, called parables – and they were made of the stuff of everyday life. He used interruptions and people in the crowd to illustrate his points. He taught to change lives, and he did.

Now, I know I am only a teacher of one. Perhaps, if you broaden the meaning of teacher and include this blog, then of a couple more. But my dream is to live and preach and tell stories in such a way that people are changed. Maybe that’s arrogant. I pray it’s not. I pray it’s everyone’s desire – to use their unique gifts and talents not just to offer information, but real live inspiration – the stuff that change is made of.

I’ve been working on getting rid of my clutter for the past 2 months. 2 weeks ago, I thought that maybe, by making it into a blog project, I’d be more motivated and have more energy to get it done. It did motivate me. But, I’m still pregnant, and our lives are still crazy, so I can’t say I’ve been majorly uplifted on the energy front. But I am happy to report that, for the most part, it’s done! It’s not the sparkling masterpiece I’d envisioned. But whatever. We’re moving in 10 days. And I’m learning that I don’t mind having a house with a “lived in” feel.
In that spirit, I’ve created this post and uploaded all my Before and Afterish pictures. I feel the need to apologize for the photography. The lighting is a bit crappy. This is Jermaine’s first day home after graduation and I’ve decided it’s more important for me to spend time with him than to redo the pictures. <3

Living Room Before (Christmas in April?).

Living Room After (enough). All my books and projects are still all around the the couch (my "office"). The Christmas tree is gone though! Replaced by the comfiest chair in the world (even though it doesnt really fit). Also, theres a Jermaine in the living room! A definite improvement. :)

Dining Room/Homeschool Nook Before.

Dining Room/Homeschool Nook After (enough). Her desk was supposed to go in that corner. But since were moving so soon, it makes no sense to put it up now.

Behind the Couch Before.

Behind the Couch After (enough). Its still kind of messy. But I want and love everything back there. Ill get to the figuring out where to store it to make it look pretty in the next house.

Hall Before.

Hall After (enough). Okay, yes, theres still a bookcase in the hall. But some things just cant be helped.

Sadies Room Before.

Sadies Room After (enough). Weve havent gone through it at all, but my friend Priscilla came over and made it look like a room again so that I wasnt so overwhelmed when it comes time to sort and purge. Bless her.

Books Before.

Books After (enough). Maybe it looks the same at first glance. But the real difference is that before my book collection filled this bookcase and then were strewn all over the house. I got rid of a crap load of them. And now the entire collection is here. :)

Crafty Mess in my Room Before.

All My Craft Stuff After (enough). Just like behind the couch, I've got no place to put the stuff yet, but I'll get there and at least I know I love all this stuff.

The Bedroom Closet: aka, the only spot in the house that didn't need before and after shots. Not sure why. And it hasn't been the case in all the places we've lived. But for some reason, in this apartment, our closet stays organized.


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