I’ve been contemplating this post for a while.  Well, honestly, several posts – but I haven’t been sure of the direction I wanted to take.  Often this blog acts as a journal for me, allowing me to share and process my thoughts.  Sometimes it serves to address a particular topic or event.  Often it’s completely random.

In my life, and probably in yours too, things happen and our focus shifts a bit.  Sometimes it’s a quick detour, and sometimes it’s quite the journey before we realize that we strayed far from what out target was.  I’m kind of in that place – in another cycle of living my life where it really doesn’t look a whole lot like what I imagined a few years ago.  Crazy how that works sometimes…but work it does.

Over the course of my life I’ve gone through counseling several different times, in order to help me “deal with stuff”.  The stuff is the variable here.  And the type of counseling I’ve done has varied too.  But pretty much you go to a stranger, you begin to build trust, and that stranger becomes a trusted confidant.  And then you start to dig through the layers of “stuff” that is holding you back in your current season of life – hopefully with the goal of dealing with it and getting back to a level of normal you set.  Been there, done that.  I’ve worked through issues of abuse.  I’ve worked through financial ick.  I’ve worked through grief.  I’ve worked through issues of weight and body image.  I’ve worked through infertility.  I’ve worked through failed relationships.  I’ve grown, and I’ve healed.  I’ve changed.  And for the most part, it’s all been for the greater good.  Sure there has been some pain – some regrets – some things I can’t take back no matter how badly I’d like to.  But it’s all been my life.

In the past few months I’ve done a lot of personal reflection, and made some changes and choices that have effected more change.  It’s been quite the process.  I honestly believe that change and growth is a good thing.  We need to challenge ourselves, take calculated risks, and take action.  And sometimes that is a complete upheaval – a major change…and sometimes it’s a just a small shift that has the potential for gigantic ripple effects.  A shift in my life and my priorities has precipitated ripples in so many other aspects of my life I wasn’t expecting.

I took a stand in my heart and mind that shifted my focus to my faith in God, and my place in this world as a Christian woman.  Openly doing so, has opened the door to so much more, and has guided other choices and has given me a sense of peace that had been lacking for many years.  It released burdens, and opened my heart to alternatives.  It gave me direction and purpose that was focused on others and not on myself.  It has brought up some questions too, of course.  All changes come with challenges, and I’ve tried to embrace them all.

Most of you know of my Courageous Project with the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.  I love this with my whole heart.  I love that through the medium of soapmaking I can make a tangible difference for women like myself who have MRKH.  I love that I can donate money to an organization that was instrumental in my personal growth, and that I can continue to touch lives.  Over the last few months, sales have dropped off considerably, and I take responsibility for that.  I haven’t spent much time or energy promoting it.  But in the greater picture – I haven’t done much at all in my soap business as a whole- I skipped a couple of craft shows this summer to allow me time to focus on family and other obligations.  That will be changing soon, as the fall craft show season is starting up in a couple of weeks!

One of my “other obligations” this summer was attending the Seattle MRKH conference.  What an incredible weekend, with some lovely women.  I will be posting about that weekend here on the blog soon – much of the content is already written actually.  So stay tuned for that.

This summer I also worked with some of those same lovely women and together we created a Christian support group on Facebook called MRKH Journey through Faith.  I felt the need to form a community of women who shared both Christ and MRKH…and where we could encourage each other to grow in our Faith and to work toward healing the wound that MRKH often is in our lives.  We have continued to grow and add members, and it’s been a wonderful way to connect on a deeper level with each other.

I’ve had some other big things in my life this summer, big changes, new opportunities, and tons of personal growth.  I hope to share more with you over the next few months some of these directions my life is headed.

Have a blessed day!!!



Planning ahead

I’m a planner, organizer, map-maker, scheduler, problem solver, detail oriented kind of person.  Give me a situation, and I’ll figure a way through it.   I’m not afraid to ask for help and input, but it’s all part of the strategy to get to the finish line.  And boy, howdy, do I have some things on my plate right now I’m working through!

Coming up in just a couple of weeks, I’m heading to Seattle for an MRKH Conference.  I’ll be gone for a few days, so I’m working on the plans to get everything done at home in my absence, coordinating with other MRKH sisters who will be attending, securing my air mattress plans with Helen, and working out activity schedules for the touristy day I’ll spend with friends.  Planning out a day with friends involves everything from outlining itineraries, ferry schedules, and parking options, to places to eat, things to see, time to rest and sleep!  While I have been to several MRKH meet ups, lunches and dinners and fun times with MRKH sisters, I haven’t been to an organized conference before…so this is somewhat new territory for me.  But I’m super excited, because some of my closest MRKH sisters will be attending too – ones I haven’t actually met in person yet, so I’m excited to be hugging their necks for the first time very soon!

Also, happening right now in my life…my in-laws are moving to Idaho from out of state.  More specifically, they are moving IN with us temporarily. Over the past couple of months they have been making trips up here with their “stuff”.  Some has been unloaded and put in storage in our barn and other storage sheds and trailers – and some has just been parked on our property.  My driveway is starting to get complicated with all the trailers and other vehicles things parked along the edges! Let’s just hope that no one has to leave in a big fat hurry…or they might just back into something!  This week marks their final big load of belongings coming up to be stored before their current house closes and they make the final trek up to Idaho.  They are in the process of buying a place up here in Idaho that has been in the same family since the 1800’s.  The seller has run into a little snag with deed transfer a couple of generations back, so they are working to resolve that little hiccup, but we hope to have it all sorted out by the end of the week – or at least a plan and timeline to get it resolved.  Once the sale is complete, then my in-laws will be completely updating and remodeling the house before moving in.  In the mean time…my little house is going to be bursting at the seams!  I’ve been busily trying to de-clutter and make a bit of room in the spare room so they don’t feel quite so claustrophobic in there!  I’ve taken a few loads of things to the thrift store already,  but I’m guessing there will be another load or two before the end of the month.  It’s a good reason to purge the stuff I’ve just been storing for the past 20 years!

It’s summer time here of course – but that means at my job the students are mostly gone.  It’s a time when I can get caught up on projects, tie up loose ends, and prepare for the students to return in August.  We do lots of planning ahead in my job anyway, often we are thinking about our needs 2 semesters from now!  I plan out and strategize on a yearly calendar…and I’ve already got my 2018 calendar drafted out!  I’ve been doing lots of document updates, list corrections, and follow up tasks scheduled as the semester gets closer and closer each day.  We will be ready to literally hit the ground running when the students get back in less than a month! Eeeek!

When I return from Seattle, I’ll be spending some much needed time in the soap room, organizing and preparing for some fall craft shows.  I need to make a few more batches of soap, but first I need to trim and store the ones that have been drying for a couple of months now so I have shelf space!  I also have to get busy and plan to spend some time canning tomatoes!  I buy lovely organic tomatoes at the farmers market every year and do a years worth of canning in August and September every year.  I love the look of a full pantry!!!  And while the long hot days of canning seem exhausting – having them the rest of the year is well worth the time spent!  And I bet my mother-in-law will be anxious to help in the process this year too!  Blanche, peel, pack and repeat!  I usually do whole tomatoes, Italian stewed tomatoes, plain tomato sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce, and pizza sauce…I know, it sounds like a ton of work – and it is….but the reward is priceless.

Our women’s ministry group at church is always busy planning something.  We are getting ready to launch our latest service project of creating baby boxes for local women’s shelters and food banks.  We meet once a month for a Ladies Night In to visit, plan, do some bible study, and just spend time in fellowship.  I’m co-hostessing our August get together, and we’re planning a tea party!  It should be great fun, and the perfect way to wrap up our mid-summer before school starts back up.

So what are you planning these days? What are your favorite resources when you are planning an event or project?

Now Serving

It’s no secret that I LOVE to cook, especially for other people.  I enjoy fixing my husband a home cooked meal nearly every night.  I enjoy cooking for potlucks, parties, events, and just because.  But this isn’t really the service I’m thinking about today.

It’s approaching Memorial Day Weekend here in the US, and while it’s officially the kick off to summer with BBQ, camping, gardening, lawn mowing, and that sort of thing – it’s also the recognition of our service men and women and the jobs they do and have done for generations to protect out freedom.  But this isn’t really the service I’m thinking about today.

Today I’m thinking about serving others, and by doing so, also serving God.  I’m here to fulfill a purpose.  To do something bigger than myself.  To make a difference.  To impact someones life.  To enrich my own life.

The happiest people are those who do the most for others. – Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and an adviser to presidents of the United States.  He was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and he became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. His work in the late 1800s and early 1900s paved the way for the civil rights movement of the 1950s.  While some would characterize him as a political machine, it is clear to me that his life work was about supporting and serving the former slaves and setting the groundwork for establishing equal rights among all people in the US.  He instigated great change, and served others.  He was also a Christian man.  This quote is from his autobiography Up From Slavery, “If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian.”  What a powerful testament, to both his own belief, but also to his life work serving the black community.

This is the kind of service I’m thinking about today.  How can I serve others while serving God?  What is my service roll in this great world?  What is my potential impact and how does it fit into God’s plan?  Sure, these are big questions, but shouldn’t we all be asking them?  Do we not all want to make a difference in this world?  We can’t all be as influential as Booker T. Washington and end up on the pages of history texts, or can we?

It starts small, a tiny mustard seed of faith, that grows into a mighty bush.  A flickering thought, a small change we can make today may just incite a movement.  One tiny pebble makes a ripple across still water that is exponentially greater than it’s own size.

As I think about serving others, it seems like such a grand concept, especially compared to someone like Booker T. Washington.  But it doesn’t have to be.

It can start as a simple act of courtesy.  Hold the door open for the person behind you.  Pick up the hat that’s blown off in the wind and return it to the young man scrambling across the parking lot.

Acknowledge the workers in your life – the janitor who cleans the bathrooms at work, the mail delivery person, the trash collector, the greeter at the store, the cashier at bank, the city bus driver, the cops and firemen, all those people who make your life pleasant – and safe – just by doing their job.

Adopt a random act of kindness project.  Pay for a strangers coffee or bus fare.  Leave a generous tip to a hardworking waiter/waitress.  Deliver anonymous flowers to the widow down the street.

Volunteer in your community.  Is there an organization you can join  – a historical society, community improvement group, neighborhood watch group, intramural sports, railroading club, master gardeners, etc.  Get to know your community, and volunteer for positions of action and/or leadership.

In my life…I try to be courteous and friendly, I do random acts of kindness and pay it forward kinds of things regularly.  I am active in my church, helping out with potlucks and organizing things.  I work with our teen girls ministry as a mentor, and am very active in our women’s ministry as well.   In the MRKH community I spend time conversing with and mentoring younger MRKH sisters, and building bonds with sisters around the world.  I’ve also partnered with the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation with the Courageous Project to raise money to support and empower women with MRKH.  All these areas of service fuel my spirit, and I often feel that the payout for me is much greater than the work I put into it.

I grow.

I pray.

I heal.

I forgive.

I praise.

I love.

I rejoice.

I serve.

It bears repeating I think, that today I’m thinking about serving others, and by doing so, also serving God.  I’m here to fulfill a purpose.  To do something bigger than myself.  To make a difference.  To impact someones life.  To enrich my own life.

What are you serving today?