Monday, December 28, 2009

Cause for Celebration

I hope you all had a truly wonderful Christmas full of great times with people you love and most especially times where you connected in a very real way with God.

As I have been bringing Christmas to a close and preparing to close out 2009 I wanted to update you on what we accomplished in our efforts to help Nancy and Monica build a house and start a new business.

We raised a total of $155. Which means that with the matching donation we were given, we have met our goal and Nancy and Monica will have the $305 they need.

"Thank you" doesn't begin to express how much I have appreciated the opportunity to participate in this effort with you. Every single donation has a story behind it and I have been moved to tears more than once as I saw people give.

Thank you! Thank you! What a great gift to give these two lovely ladies on the other side of the globe.

[image by McLoy2008]

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Main Thing

God loves me. He loves me so much that He created a way to save me. That is the point. That is why I worship. That is why others who know of His love worship. That is why the earth and all of creation cries out in worship.

All of my efforts to worship cannot measure up to His amazing-ness. They simply can't.

They can make me miss the point though.

I can get so caught up in worship that I am focused on the worship and what I'm doing to worship that I take my eyes off the One I'm worshiping.

Lord, help me today to see only You and let the worship result. Let the joyful noise be. It's not about whether the worship is good enough. It's all about that You are more than enough.

[image by]

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Big Announcement on our House!

I just had a really exciting conversation with someone that made my day! It involves a very cool development in our efforts to raise funds for Nancy and Monica to build their house and start a new business.

Someone has stepped up and said that they will match all the funds we are able to raise up to $300. So, if we raise the full $305 they will donate an additional $300 to Springs of Hope to go to the orphans that have recently joined Molly and Joe!

This is so exciting! I hope you'll get in on this and be a part of impacting the lives of Nancy, Monica and several orphans.

If you'd like to get in on this chance to build a house and start a business on the other side of the world, please email me and let me know.

Good reminders

This morning as I was getting dressed for the day God gave me a few reminders that have already come in handy.

Maybe they would be helpful to you to.

My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Jesus was blunt: "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it."
Mark 10:27

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Gratituesday - Building a new house

Today my Gratituesday is dedicated to overwhelming gratitude for the generous hearts of the people I'm surrounded by.

Last week I rolled out the challenge to help build a house and start a business for two ladies in Nakuru, Kenya and I have been amazed and humbled by the responses I have received.

I have had some folks approach me quietly and behind the scenes and simply hand me an envelope. I have had people who have personally been hit the hardest by these economic times say that they will help. And the list goes on. In fact, I'm hoping tomorrow to let you know of a huge surprise in our efforts to build this house.

I am confident that we will reach our goal of raising $305 to help Nancy and Monica start a new life. And I'm tickled with gratitude for the privilege of being a part of it.

If you'd like to get in on this chance to build a house and start a business on the other side of the world, please email me and let me know.

[image is of Nancy and her son Caleb with Molly Bail]

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Let's build a house and start a business together this Christmas!

Last year at this time I was getting to know someone a world away who ended up making quite an impact on me.

Her name is Nancy. She told her story as part of our Christmas production, Wonder.

She is an amazing lady. Nancy, her mother Monica and her son Caleb live a world away in Nakuru, Kenya. You can read more of her story here.

Recently I got an email from our mutual friend, Molly Bail, asking me if I could enlist some friends to help Nancy and Monica. Nancy and Monica are working to save enough money to build a mud house on a piece of land that they have. Nancy is working 30 days as a house girl and will make the equivalent of about $26. They have $66 set aside already and have asked Molly to hold this money for them so that they will not spend it on food. In order to buy the tin sheets and wood they will need to build their house they will need another $105.

I know that the economy is incredibly difficult for many of us and this time of year is extra tight. But I would like to ask if you can give even $10 toward helping Nancy and Monica.

I found out later from Molly that an additional $200 would fund the starting of a business for Nancy and Monica.

So, my hope is that together we can raise the $305 needed to accomplish both the building of their home and the funds to launch their business.

It's amazing to me, in my corner of the world, to think that $305 can accomplish so much because it seems to be so little.

If you can help in any way at all, please email me and let me know.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gratituesday - Thanksgiving post

As I have gone through the month of November I have found myself being even more mindful of all that I have to be grateful for. Today it seemed that all sorts of random, yet important things came to mind as I thought through my gratitude. Here's a completely random and completely incomplete list.

I am so grateful for:

God Who gives me new mercies every day
Opportunities for learning and growth
my amazing husband who still makes my heart melt with just a look
Time to spend with J before she leaves for college
3 yr olds' statements like "Batman's helper is 'tiffer Robin (Christopher Robin)"
my 2 yr old saying "God bless you" five times after each cough
"tuggling" with my boys first thing in the morning
Dave Ramsey's FPU
Gorgeous FL November weather
a nephew celebrating his first birthday
good friends and great laughs
Hot tea and honey, robitussin, advil cold and sinus
my health (in spite of the above list)
my family's health
monkey bread traditions
my upcoming visit with mom
smoked turkey and sweet potato casserole
a couple of good friends who taught me the value of gratitude this year
amazing in-laws
that I feel no compulsion to shop tomorrow
Bible stories at bedtime

There were so many more things that flashed through my thoughts of gratitude today.

How about you? For what are you giving thanks today?

[image by Lawrence OP]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting the word out

At my church this weekend we are rolling out our invitation tools for our Christmas production this year, Me & My Drum.

Take a look at the video we've created for sharing and let me know what you think:

I'm really excited about our program this year! We are again finding a fun and creative way to tell the story of God's love for us demonstrated by sending us His Son.

We have an awesome cast!
The service and script were created by an amazing team that was so much fun to work with!
Some awesome guys have already been putting in lots of hours creating very cool props we need.
And there will be a high cool factor to the program.

Let's just say that if you like the percussion styles of Blue Man Group, you will like Me & My Drum.

By the way, you can already go to the Cypress Meadows web site and reserve your tickets.

We have learned over the years that the very best way for people to hear about our program is through personal invitation.

My hope is that if you like what you see here you'll forward the video and link for ordering tickets to people you know and let them know about the program as well.

If you are able to join us for the production, I hope you'll track me down afterward and let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gratituesday - The Journey

As we have begun November I am so thrilled to see a resurgence of gratitude all over social media! This week as I have been pondering the things for which I am grateful one thought continues to rise to the surface. I am so grateful for the journey.

Like most of us, I spent years waiting to "arrive", certain that the next event or relationship would give me the contentment I was looking for. I turned back at one point to find I had missed out on so much. That was when I began to see the value in my journey.

There are somethings that I've noticed... first, I am and will likely continue to be a goal driven person so I will often battle the need to "arrive."

Second, there are many places in my journey that the path took turns I would never have chosen for myself. But I would also not trade them for anything. Those turns are places where God was able to teach me things I probably wouldn't have learned otherwise.

Finally, I am finding that the richness in life lies in appreciating each step while I am there. And while many people ahead of me in their journey told me this "secret of life" before, this is one of those that you learn on your own in your own time.

My prayer is that I can take each next step in confidence in my Guide trusting that the turns I'm afraid of He will walk with me through and that I will continue to see the beauty and grace along each step of the path. And that is my prayer for you as well.

[image by kazatzka]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Amazing statements

You’ve always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,

A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.

You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
made me welcome among those who know and love you.
Psalm 61:3-5 MSG

How incredible to be able to make these statements to the God of the Universe! How grace-filled! How humbling. And how true.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


In my world where everything is maximized, evaluated and perfection is too often attempted, I am extremely grateful for hobbies.

My hobbies are my freedom to create for the sake of creating, to try something without the pressure of needing to perfect it.

I'm all over the place with my hobbies. I love photography, home decor, bicycling, scrapbooking, cake decorating and even golf.

Actually, I took up golf awhile ago simply because of how dreadfully bad at it I am. It was thrilling just to whack away at the ball and laugh.

What a gift it is to be able to do something just for the sake of doing it.

So,what have you done lately just to do it? I'm thinking I need to dig my clubs back out and head to the driving range.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I am one of the very few people I know who can say that I do for a living what I love to do.

I get to spend the working percentage of my week using my gifts and strengths to create services and communication pieces that try to communicate to others the incredible love that God has for them.

The tools of my trade are Planning Center, CCLI, my mac, YouVersion, YouTube, lots of things Adobe, a flip chart, Blogger, Excel (gotta track your budget in an arts department... at least that's what my Exec. Pastor keeps trying to tell me) and Entourage (can't think without it.)

I am constantly faced with new challenges (for the past month I've been trying to learn web maintenance using Joomla - not sure yet where that falls on my gratitude list. :) ) And, as a person who loves starting new things my job keeps me far from bored.

On top of all of that, I get to work with incredibly talented people with huge hearts for God and for the people around them. People who regularly sacrifice their time and resources to do what they also love to do - share Gods love.

And while, in today's economy, I should be grateful for my job regardless, I'm not just grateful to have any job, I'm grateful to have the one I have.

How 'bout you? What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Have you ever felt like this guy?

Maybe your attempt to find "happily ever after" didn't end on a nationally televised sporting event. Maybe it happened in a middle school classroom or at a college party or maybe, like me, you got past the proposal, past the wedding even and you found your heart broken in the privacy of your own home looking into the eyes of the person who would later become your ex-spouse.

The truth is, most all of us can tell our story of a time when we were hoping in, believing in and trying for a love that lasts forever and coming up way short of forever.

That doesn't stop us from longing for a forever kind of love. I believe God designed us to long for this kind of love. But I also know that it can't happen outside of His help and guidance.

We're all broken. We all bring our stuff into each of our relationships. So how, on earth, do we figure out how to be a part of a love that lasts forever?!

Cypress Meadows is going to take a look at this question over the next four weeks as we host a series called "Staying in Love". Because falling in love is easy... but staying in love is a different story.

If you want to join the discussion and figure out what we can do to find a way to stay in love, come and be a part of our series.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009



I am not a person who gets all amped about change. But, I do get amped about new things, fresh starts. Because of that, I love the changing of seasons. Of course, living in FL, it's all that much more to get excited about because that really only happens here twice a year. We go from blistering hot to mild and lovely. That's pretty much it. But it's enough for me to take notice.

Last week we had our first "cold front" of the season. Our temps dropped to 80s during the day and high 60s at night for about 24 hours. That was just what the doctor ordered for me. I loved it. I swear the sky was blue-er the grass was greener and I was thrilled to see the first hint of a new season.

So, what about you? What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


This week I am extremely grateful for...


Not in the way you might think, though.

In the past couple of days I have had a very rare opportunity to have times in which I had nothing to do. Not that there aren't alway a million things I can be doing, but for those moments there was nothing screaming and I could give myself guilt-free permission to do nothing and just be.

So, today I am officially, very grateful for nothing. And hoping I get more of it in this very busy season.

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Date Night and a chance to laugh at relationships!

In a couple of weeks, Cypress is hosting an awesome opportunity for you to have a date night (*FREE* childcare is provided) as well as a chance to laugh at the craziness of relationships as comedy team, Barnes & Miner join us.

Barnes & Miner's credits include Comedy Centeral, the National Lampoon network, ESPN, HBO, NBC, Fox just to name a few. A hilarious married comedy team, they take on everything from eHarmony and in-laws to staying on a budget and not blowing your 401k. Barnes & Miner have one child and will leave you holding your sides as they open up about competitive parenting. You can check out their full bio here.

If you are within a 60 minute drive of Clearwater you can't afford to miss this great evening! Where else could you have a night out with your special someone for $20?!

Find all of the details and purchase tickets at Cypress Meadows' web site.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Well, it didn't take long for my "regular" Tuesday Gratitude posts to become irregular. :) But I do have much to be thankful for this week. I think, at the top of my list this week is relationship.

God has put some truly incredible people in my life. And it is so often that it is through them that I am supplied the things that He knows I need, companionship, affirmation, encouragement, fun and laughter, reality checks, challenge and a different view point.

There are tons of things that make up my corner of the world, but the most precious piece of it all is the amazing people I get to share life with. I am a better version of me because of them and for that I am truly grateful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Today, and really any day during the last 4 months of the year, a very practical thing that I am thankful for is MS Entourage. (It's the Mac version of Outlook.) It truly becomes my brain from September to December as I try to juggle more than my human brain can hold on to. So, this Tuesday, I'm very grateful for Entourage.

How 'bout you? What are you grateful for?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Look and do

In the Gospels there is a great account of Jesus calling the first disciples. He says to them, "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

This, of course, is the context on which we are basing our new series, Go Fish.

As I was reflecting on this, several things occurred to me. One stands out though. The simplicity of my responsibility in this. For me, it boils down to "Look and Do."

Jesus' challenge: Come follow me. At least that's the part that is our responsibility. And when I think about what it means to follow it seems that looking and doing are the bottom lines.

First, you can't follow without watching the one you are following closely - closely enough that you can then do the same things they have done.

So, am I focusing on Christ? Am I looking at Him closely enough and often enough that I can do what He does or would do? I believe that when I do, He will make me a fisher of men not because I've worked so hard to become one, but as a very natural by-product of becoming like HIm, of following Him.

Are you ready to join me in this grand adventure of following and fishing?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Recently a friend of my challenged me to keep a gratitude list. This is not a new concept to a lot of people, but it was to me. And for me it has been a huge gear shift.

According to the Clifton Strengths Finder, my top strength is "Restorative."

"If you are particularly talented in Restorative, you are adept at dealing with problems. You are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it."

Cool strength... but what does it have to do with gratitude?

I'm getting there.

At times, my restorative lens allows me to see the problems around me much more easily than the things that are "right with the world." When this goes into overdrive (which is often) I can get really overwhelmed. My gratitude list changes that. It shifts my focus onto the amazing things God has made right in my world.

So at the end of the day I take out my journal and my red pen and I write as many things as I want to that I am grateful for that day. I write in red because I feel like somehow, this balances out the universe for all the critiquing, corrective things I've written in red earlier in the day. It ends the day with red being the color of things good not bad.

I want to challenge all of us to make gratitude a part of our lives on a regular basis. So, each Tuesday I'm going to host "Gratituesdays" on my blogs. And I will post some thing(s) that I am grateful for.

BUT, this will only work to help you if you participate too. So, post a comment and let me know what you are grateful for that day as well.

For me, today, I am grateful for a sense of order and not anxiety in September (a month that is usually the start of all sorts of insanity). I am grateful for an amazing husband and children. I am grateful for friends God has put in my life who challenge me in my walk with Him. OH.... and I'm extremely grateful for my new webcam and skype. :)

How about you? What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I Held a Giant Today

This morning by complete accident I was in the office when Molly Bail came by to say her goodbyes before heading back to Kenya. Tears filled my eyes as I hugged her goodbye.

Molly is one of my real-life heros. She is doing incredible things to make the world a better place, one person at a time, whether she's doing it in downtown Clearwater or on the other side of the globe in Kenya.

Today as I was telling her goodbye I thought about her courage. She faces daily the kinds of things I find horrific to even think about much less live through. I thought about how just the challenge of getting all of her luggage (including a special wheelchair for a child in Kenya) from here to Kenya would probably be enough to overwhelm me. But, not Molly.

She does it for the right reasons too. She faces unimaginable challenges every day because she loves God and loves people.

So, while the lady I was hugging is petite and lovely (and very fashionable!) she is a giant. A giant of courage, of faith, of tenacity (and if you know her, you know I'm right) and of love. I felt humbled and challenged at the same time.

What can be said of me? Am I bravely taking one step at a time in the direction God is pointing me? I hope so! I hope fear, obstacles, challenges won't stop me from from the purpose God has for me. And I hope that for you too.

One step we can take this week is to help Paul and Jen Steinbrueck who are leaving in just a few days to join Molly and Joseph in Kenya for 10 days. They are taking extra luggage on their trip to be able to bring needed items to the children there. There will be extra expense for them to take this luggage. We are going to collect funds this week to help cover that expense.

If you can donate, please email me or call me at the church office 727-725-4570 and I can let you know how we will be getting these funds to Paul and Jen.

Any donation will help. Please contact me and let me know what you can contribute. While this may seem like a small, easy step, it takes a lot of these small, easy steps to make an orphanage on the other side of the world a reality. This is one way that you and I get to be a part of it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thought for today

No, Mom, I'm quite sure I don't have "walking pneumonia."

And unless a new strain of "vacuuming, party planning, potty training, strategic plan writing, from scratch cooking, custom fit for a working mother of two under three strain of pneumonia" has developed I don't think it has me either.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Saying goodbye to a lady with quite a legacy

My grandmother passed away this afternoon. Through the course of "life stuff" such as divorces, geography, etc. there were a lot of ways in which I didn't really know her. But there are some incredibly important ways that I did.

To most people she was Fern.
Legally she was Rebecca Fern Blankenship Thorn.
To me she was Mamaw.
She adored my grandfather and has missed him terribly since his passing two years ago.
She and my grandfather had been together for 6 decades!
She gave birth to 9 children and survived the passing of three of them.
She had more grandchildren than I can remember (and it took her some time to remember when asked.)
She would cook 5 meals (and I mean meals) a day for her family.
She had a beautiful smile.
She was a pretty fiesty lady.
By actions she made it known that God and her family were vitally important to her.

And there were at least a couple of lessons I've learned better from her than from anyone else.

She taught me what true generosity is. In spite of facing the struggles of life in a rural coal mining town, and in spite of the size of our family, she would send gifts on more holidays than many people do. She remembered birthdays, Christmas, Easter and even Valentines day by sending gifts and money orders. She's the only one I know who still used money orders on a regular basis. I was always so humbled that she would find a way to send me and my husband and my children all of these gifts.

She and Papaw also were a vehicle God used recently to teach me unconditional and unwavering love. In spite of our distance and irregular contact, they both always greeted me with the most sincere "Hey Honey! I love you! How are you doing?" whether by phone or in person. And each conversation would pick up as if I'd been there all along. The last time I saw them it didn't matter how long it had been since I'd seen them last they both greeted me, held me and looked me in the eye affirming my place in our family and in their hearts as if we'd been together every day of the last several years. That last meeting gave me a small glimpse of how the prodigal son must have felt being held by his father upon his return.

Mamaw leaves an unbelievable legacy of family and friends who know of her love for God and her family. Who have all learned lessons from her as I have.

I hope that I too leave a legacy that will make her proud.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My favorite story

I've read the story of the woman with the bleeding disorder hundreds of times now probably. It is clearly my favorite story of Jesus performing a miracle. This morning as I read it, I liked what the Message says , "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Recently, after hearing a couple of teachings, I'm struck by the significance of a couple of things in this story. First, I'm struck by the significance of her touching Him in this crowd. Second, I'm struck by the significance of Him speaking to her in this crowd.

Women in that day and culture were so disregarded. But not by Christ. And women with bleeding disorders were considered lower than the lowest because that meant they were "unclean". She was probably not even supposed to be out in public much less "jostling" through a crowd. She stood a great chance of being publicly shamed. But not by Christ.

Wow! The results she gained from taking that risk!

She got to speak with Jesus!
He spoke a blessing over her in front of the entire crowd!
and she was healed.

He spoke a blessing over her in front of the entire crowd!

How very cool is that!

"Live well, and live blessed!" and *then* He says "Be healed of your plague." Of course, they both knew she already was, but the way it is stated here almost suggests that the healing is almost just a bonus. That the real benefit was His blessing to her to live well and live blessed.

There's been a lot of focus recently on the role of women in leadership in the church. This conversation always gets my attention because I have felt, since high school, that God put a call on my life to be involved in arts in the local church, and for now that calling is to lead arts in my local church. And while for many, that alone is a large risk of faith, I have been very blessed with a church who sees women the way Christ did and involves them in every level of leadership.

So, for me and those of you like me in similar roles, I wonder, reading this, what risks of faith have I taken recently? And where I haven't what blessings am I missing out on?

How about you?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

See you!

A few months back Connor was busy "playing blocks" and I heard him call over to me "Mommy - see you!". I turned and saw this:

Of course it made me laugh and, obviously, grab my camera. But, more importantly, it's got me thinking.

For the past several months I've noticed an ability that I have, one I'm rather good at, in fact, that I wish weren't the case at all.

I can spend hours with a person and not really "see" them. How is that possible?! How can I be in the same room with my husband, even engaged in conversation and miss the smile in his eyes over the huge accomplishment he's just made? Or how can I sit and play with my sons and not see the wonder of the new discoveries they are making almost every moment?! Or how can I share lunch with a friend and miss the fear they have bottled up inside over an upcoming medical diagnosis? When I stop and realize that I'm doing this it just makes me angry!

The answer is, of course, that my mind is so busy racing on all of the "busy-ness" of life: errands to be run, calls to be made, services to be planned, sets to be designed, artists to be booked, blogs to be written, bills to be paid, etc. that my focus is on my to-do list, my agenda rather than on the amazing person I'm sharing the moment with.

My friend, Randy Elrod, talks about the difference between minutes and moments. That difference is huge. I think that truly "seeing you" is a big part of making sure that minutes are moments.

I don't want my life to be measured by minutes. I want it to be so full of moments that there wouldn't be enough space in the blogosphere to capture them all.

Life is short and it is so full of things vying for my time that I don't want to miss a single moment of the important stuff. So, the next time we're together, if I'm not really there with you in the moment please, call me on it. Tell me I'm not seeing you.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dead heading

A long time ago before I was a mom to two little boys under 3 I loved gardening. I still do - these days it just looks more like an appreciation rather than a love especially if you've seen my gardens.

There's a principle in gardening that I get. It's one of those like anything that just clicks for you... it just makes sense. It is the idea of dead heading.

What is meant by the phrase dead heading is that you prune, or even just pinch, off spent blossoms in order for the plant to thrive. It is a redirection of energy. The plant no longer has to use any energy supporting the faded bloom, rather it can spend all its energy on growing and producing more buds.

I've seen this principle at work like crazy in my gardens and it makes a world of difference.

At work in my own life is a similar principle but I have to say I'm just now learning it and paying close attention to it. It's marketed these days as strengths training. Gallup has done research and books have been written (so it has to be true!) that stress that we should be spending the best part of our energy working in the areas we are already strong in and find ways to delegate tasks that are not in areas of our strengths to people for whom those are their strengths.

This is SO counter-cultural in America. We usually look to find our weaknesses and work hard to improve on them.

So, in my day-to-day I wonder, where am I spending energy trying to support a spent flower? Where do I need to dead head and watch some crazy, beautiful growth take place?

Have you implemented this idea in your life? What have you learned?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Learning to fall

My son is learning to walk these days. That in and of itself can create tons of moments of wonder and tons of lessons.

I've found myself telling him time and time again though, that learning to walk is as much a lesson in learning to fall. I think I'm teaching myself that as much as I'm trying to teach him. The truth is, it's a lesson I'm still learning at the age of... well, a lot older than my son.

I read a great quote today on Carlos' blog and it is one I will be reminding myself of time and again through this learning process:

“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot . . . and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why . . . I succeed.”
Michael Jordan

I have a friend who also illustrates this for me in his writing career. He told me once that he has saved every single "no thank you" letter he's received from publishing companies.

I think it is important to recognize and affirm all of the times we try. Absolutely celebrate our successes! Celebrate big! But don't neglect affirming each other for trying and learning.

The reality is that we won't get it right every time we try and we stand to grow so much through the trying process. So we have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. What are you trying these days? In what area of life are you now "learning to fall"?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happy January!

I've always loved the lines from You've Got Mail:

Joe Fox: Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils...

You see, I could be completely swept off my feet by a bouquet of sharpened pencils or a fresh new-smelling calendar. Not because I'm an office supply junkie (although a case could be made) but because I love new beginnings. If you want to find me brimming with energy and optimism look for me at a new beginning.

January with a new calendar in front of me or August when school starts. I love the chance to take a very deep breath, and pause to look at the upcoming future and create a plan.

And while by this time each year I'm knee deep in the process, this year has had a few unexpected interruptions but at this moment... I finally have some quiet. Real quiet and mental quiet.

I have a freshly sharpened pencil, a clean calendar and some space to breathe, pray and think. So, right now, I'm getting busy about that business. I'm asking questions: What does God want to show me in this new year? Who do I need to get up beside this year to encourage, support, walk together with and/or learn from? How can I be a better me, wife, mom, daughter, leader, friend this year? What do I need to do? What do I need to stop doing? And as I ask, listen and find answers a plan will take shape. And I will get to take my freshly sharpened pencil to my crisp clean calendar and get busy.

Happy January!

What does January inspire in you?