the inspire shop

UPDATE: on the crickets

tiffany garza

 

This writing challenge has been fun and I learned more than I thought I would and enjoyed the process. With one month closing, it was exciting to see progress and rhythms carved out and being one twelfth of the way through. 

And just when momentum and excitement built, life happened. That is life as of late. 

Situations and circumstances beyond our control have changed, cliché I know but there's no other words to put to it and I am not at liberty to share the specifics quite yet, hence the lack of activity over here. 

I have missed writing and the upcoming prompts were intriguing but life around here had been 100 mph and anything but lack of activity. 

So I guess this is me bowing out for now, as we navigate what our everyday looks like. It may allow for more room to write in the future but for now, I am okay with enough time to sit down to fold laundry before calling it a night. 

Because some seasons call for fun challenges like writing and then give way to much harder, better things that fill the day with life and relying on Jesus even more. And when it comes between family and otherwise, family always wins. If you could keep our family and the entire situation in prayer, we would be grateful.

The days seem a bit longer and events keep unraveling and reminding me to breath, as more circumstances come up like split toes and trips to urgent care and hit and run car accidents and colds stealing the little bit of energy I have and hand washing dishes for over a week while we await the new dishwasher replacement, all the while our family has graciously helped us navigate the new waters. 

We are confident God is working and for that, we are keeping joy afloat and love abounding and prayers constant, for God is faithful. 

Here's to crickets around here and new adventures. 

 

For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart. Philippians 1:6-7

____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments

 

savoring the year: for a bride {30/365}

savoring the yeartiffany garza

If you're married, how has the love between you and your husband grown and changed since the day of your wedding? What would you say to a bride on her wedding day?

I once heard about a study that showed how the brain changes once couples have been together for a certain amount of time. I cannot recall how long, though I am sure you can find it with Google, but it showed how different parts of the brain interact with longevity. The chemicals that were once produced in the butterflies in the stomach phase are no longer there. Not to say butterflies are no longer apart of the relationship but more like you are able to be a more sober version of yourself, not seeing the through rose colored glasses. It is the beginning of the opportunity to choose to love and to stay. 

By the time Ricardo and I said I do, we had been together for four and a half years and had shared our address for three of them. Those butterflies had long since flown off, our friendship was even more rooted in love. He has always been my best friend and for that I am ever thankful.  

The love that was there on our wedding has changed and evolved, for the better, something I hardly give a nod to or thought otherwise before marriage.

Ricardo is more of my best buddy than ever before, as we share even more inside jokes and children and experiences that have squished us together in ways only time and circumstance can.

Bride to be,

I am not sure what else to say about marriage. And honestly, marriage is my favorite and for the most part, it has been easy for us, not perfect but easier than I have heard of others; not to boast but in true transparent fashion it has been a gift from God. Ricardo is my go to guy and I think that is key in marriage and laughing.

As for my advice to new brides, it may be a little more sweet than you experience but if you push your feet in and open your heart and set God at the center, love will be cultivated.

I received this top ten list for marriage when I was engaged and it pretty much covers the basic topics. I slip it in to wedding cards and give it to newlyweds because it is such great advice. Lloyd had been married for a long time, so it is surely tried and true and I can attest. 

Perhaps you are coming in to marriage with your address, bed and bank account already shared, as were ours. Our adjustment period was short and uneventful, I guess you could say. We lived with my sister and her boyfriend and got along great, besides Ricardo eating their chips. 

But maybe, just maybe you are waiting until after you are married to merge your belongings and for that I commend you.

Either way, marriage may be more eventful than anticipated in all the wrong ways, in which case I would instruct you back to the top ten list and to your knees in prayer, both by yourself and together. 

This later is not my story and I cannot direct you through experience but I know love is meant to hold fast and unwavering to the hope we profess. And I want to encourage you it will get better and easier, I hope. But honestly it could get harder before that happens. Love anyway. Choose to love.

The more you are around someone the more the opportunity to love or not. To grow and learn. To experience life together.  

So breathe and laugh and smile, even when things are tough. Love always wins and prayer changes everything. 

____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: god hears us {29/365}

savoring the yeartiffany garza
savor stock.jpg

God listens and hears us when we pray. Have you ever felt that you got more than you bargained for when he gave you exactly what you asked for? What do you avoid asking?

As Ricardo and I started growing in our faith, I started praying he would take the lead more in our marriage. I was hoping he would start suggesting nightly studies we could do together or a small devotional or keep up with the one we had started without me asking about it. We read the bible together but it was not always regularly.

He was busy. He was working full time and still going to school. He was gone at least half the week with night classes. I understood it but it still did not sit right. While he was studying away at business, I was praying God would give him a break through. While he was getting together with other classmates for group projects, I was praying he would go deeper in his own personal time with God.

As I transitioned from working to staying home with Penny, I had more time to listen to sermons at home or while doing errands. God was speaking and I was praying Ricardo would be able to lead our family well.

One night as I asked yet again if we could do our devotions before bed, some frustration from initiating it yet again slipped in to my tone, which Ricardo picked up on quickly and asked for the reason. I expressed the leadership status I was hoping for as I sat next to him on our bed. He was thankful for the hint but put off by the way it came across and I apologized for the way I let it all unfold. It was one of those slight pivots in our relationship that changed our trajectory.

Coming for a line of strong willed women, God reminded me that I had to step back in order to allow him to lead, not stepping on his toes or giving him subtle hints, and loving him as he learned to take more initiative, even when it was not how I would have liked it to transpire. I had to learn submission and learn it well. Something I continue to learn and trust God with as we go over decisions and I support him with whatever he thinks is best and God's leading in the end, which is something I had a harder time doing in the past.  

It has been one of those prayers that seems two fold and I know God is one who calls and sets people apart but he also listens and answers prayers. 

Through all the prayers and growth in faith and leading well, God called him to be a pastor. To lead not only our family but God's people, which was hard for me to accept at first, as one of my I would never... came to fruition. This is the part where I like to joke and say I prayed too hard for him to lead our family because now he is leading others, too. A friend said she was having similar issues with her husband and I jokingly told her not to pray too hard because you never know who God will allow him to lead eventually.

But through it all, it has been amazing seeing how God has blessed Ricardo with the skill sets and ability to gather people together and the way people listen and ask for his guidance and the wisdom God has given him. And how his relationship with God has developed as he has studied and learned from other pastors and teachers and continues to do so. He has been a great leader as our family has grown and continues to surprise me. 

I am forever grateful for answered prayers, even when it seems more than what I asked for.

Here's to God listening and answered prayers. 

____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: prayer {28/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Has there been a season in your life when prayer was the only thing that kept you sane? In what ways was God's presence comforting to you?

Mamahood has had a way with prayer for me that nothing has been able to compare to. Perhaps it lessens with time but as far as I see, it just increases as new adventures and development arise. 

Navigating the waters as a new mom had me on my knees, with hands raised and Bible opened. And then deepened with the birth of a Jude and even more so with the entrance of Ryland. 

Prayer and transitions always seem go hand in hand. Not to say that prayer life is based on the hardships because that would not be accurate but the prayers asking for wisdom and strength and peace come more readily in those  times, as well as the welling of gratitude for the provision.

I find myself praying for other mama friends and their marriages and for wisdom and fun because they, too, are navigating similar unknown waters. At the beginning of the year friends and I formed a Mamas in Prayer group where we meet once a month to take time to pray for whatever is filling our hearts and hands at the moment, while the kiddos run and play and we enjoy coffee. 

While motherhood is a big part of my prayers these days, it is not all encompassing.

Hearing God has forever changed my prayers and deepened them and God's comfort has been made nearly touchable. Reading God's word and the words forming their own meaning and application for life in ways only the Holy Spirit knows is soothing to my soul and a reminder how he hears us and loves us all the same.

He is constantly using people to bring his Word to me; little billboards and flashing lights of how he is a God who is in everything and working in it all and using his people to do his works. A sweet friend called this morning, asking how everything was going and offering prayers as I told her of the latest happenings.  

A little while later, as I spoke with a woman who walked through my door due to circumstances beyond my control, the theme of prayer wrapped the conversation as she humbly claimed prayer as her source of strength and the only reason she could do what she does and how everything and everyone who is involved is covered in her prayers. And I almost wanted to laugh as she spoke, since the theme of today's writing on prayer encompassed the day. It was this beautiful picture of what it looks like to rely on God for all things and to keep going even when things are not easy and do not make sense. That is the majesty of God, always working for our good and showing his goodness in any way he can.


 Here's to prayers and God's comforting presence. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: brother prayers {27/365 }

Tiffany Nicole

If you have a sibling, take a few minutes to thank God for that relationship, for that life, and for the memories you share. 

I am the fourth born to my mom out of seven. The middle child. My brother, Rich, was the first, followed by Debbie almost two years later and then Mandi graced the world two years after her. There is a four year gap between Mandi and I and then nineteen months later, Carrie arrived. Nearly four years later Nick was born and finishing our family, Naloni was born four years later. Seventeen years span from the oldest to the youngest. And yes, we were raised Mormon in case you were wondering. It was a common question growing up, though I hardly understood the ties at the time.  

Growing up, friends asked if I was adopted due to the lack of resemblance among my siblings. My dad's complexion is dark, mirroring his Hawaiian and Filipino heritage, while my mom is all things white and boasts blonde hair and blue eyes and fair skin. Her features are the ones that I reflect, with skin that likes to redden, instead of tan, unlike my siblings who glow in the sun.

We do share a common nose, the one of my dad and my mom's smile. And there are pieces here and there that if you look closely, you can see, though most think we are merely friends rather than siblings.

But we do share the same parents, despite the questions of onlookers who had to clarify with my mom if our dads were the same. Once, mom did respond sarcastically to a lady in the store after answering the question numerous times, naming different dads for each of us. She was the bakers and she was the butchers. He was the milk mans. And we are not sure about her. The lady walked away speechless with eye brows raised.

I have never been able to imagine what it would be like to live without siblings; I am ever grateful for mine. We always had someone to watch and listen to and play with and learn from. Not always the best things to learn but we learned them all the same.

Rich taught us at an early age about entrepreneurship with his rental property. He marketed his spacey, luxurious room for a nominal fee to my older sisters for occasional use. He worked hard and had fun, sometimes a little too much and showed us what not to mimic, like his high school prank of putting memorial benches on top of the building.

Debbie taught us gymnastics and how to walk on our hands around the house and just how cool Rocky Balboa was. She showed us the best places to hide at the top of the closet, though mom warned me not to imitate that either. She taught us beauty tips like face masks and things to make your hair shine and boys.

Mandi showed us the value of practice, even if it meant practicing her flute in the garage. She never gave up and tried her best. She taught us to keep going even when it was hard. And about instant messaging and computer stuff. She always seemed to know.

Carrie showed us how to voluntarily pass out at school and horribly forge our parents' signature and try to convince the teacher it was legit. Carrie showed us how to trust people, especially Disney princesses, as she made her way around Disneyland with princess Jasmine.  

Nick was the baby but not quite. He was always a sport, even letting us dress him up in our doll clothes before he could talk. He was concerned about staying out of trouble and let us know that if we were bad then we would have to put an Always pad over our mouth, even demonstrating it for us. We were thankful for the suggestion but never instilled this practice in to action.

Naloni was the baby and was just that. He was loved on bit extra by everyone and coddled a little more. We laughed at the way he said "mac - woni" for macaroni and carried him everywhere. He was constantly being held and mistaken for Debbie's son.

A short snit bit cannot do justice the thankfulness and love for all the years we shared the same address and presents under the tree and birthday parties and late night swims under the stars and movie nights and the lessons along the way. For memories that have been and for those to come, I am ever grateful. 

Here's to siblings. 


____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: a surprising transformation {26/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Have you seen moving and surprising transformations in the lives of the people you love? What was that like? 
Ricardo and I became roommates after he graduated high school. Believing in God was something we both held in common but following Jesus was another we had yet to touch. One Christmas, while gathered at my Mom's house, my Aunt Pam was among the celebration. It had been years since we had been in the same room, a time I could not remember if I had to.
She was always so fun to be around growing up. Laughter was a constant and toys guaranteed but her presence never was. She would cancel last minute when we were hoping to see her. Disappointed once again, my mom told her over the phone that she was going to stop telling us when she was coming to visit, so we would not get our hopes us, as I listened from outside the door.

What I lacked in knowledge then, I understood later. My aunt lived a different life style and always came to visit with her friend, a friend that was a girl and shared a bed with her. Her friends were always sweet, playing with us and braiding our hair and I never thought anything of it. As I got older, it became common knowledge that my aunt was a lesbian and she liked to party, have her drugs and smoke them, too.

When we met again that Christmas, I had a hard time believing the stories that she told about Jesus and how he had saved her and how she was no longer a lesbian after all these years and her concern about us living together before we were married. I stood next to Ricardo, listening to these words and wondering what she was smoking now, in disbelief, while she sat on the edge of the fireplace ledge looking up at us. Ricardo had never met her and I had to catch him up on her background and such as we left.

It was a while before we saw her again but she still claimed her same salvation through Jesus and denied any claims of being a lesbian. During this time God starting revealing himself to us and we found him, too as we started attending the college group at my aunt's church.

And as we saw her more frequently, her claims become more apparent in her personality and her transformation was solid. She spoke encouraging words to us as learned the ropes of what it meant to follow Jesus, always supporting us in any way possible like being our last minute babysitter and getting certified for respite care once we became foster parents.

God has used her to teach me lessons, like how to get used to people stopping by unannounced, even though I always thought I welcomed it, and how to let go of my children a bit more as they enjoyed time with her in her blue Ford truck. She has taken pleasure in being an aunt a second time around and we have been blessed to have her. She has traded alcohol for Dr. Pepper and zeal for the world in to boldness for Jesus. These days she is serving in prison ministry and helping out friends whose husbands have passed and taking care of her Chihuahua.


What I love about God is his relentless pursuit for us since the fall in the garden of Eden. No matter how far lost we think someone is, there is always an encounter with Jesus that can change everything. Even the family member we have deemed unable to be saved. Nothing is impossible with the Lord. 

Here's to surprises and transformation. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: a new way of living in my body {25/365}

Tiffany Nicole

How have your feelings about your body changed over the years? Do you ever think of it as a friend? Do you have compassion toward it? What would that look like for you?

I have to say I was a little bummed when I read over this prompt; once again talking about my body. I touched on these questions on this post and some on this one and even a bit here.  I think it may be making me a little self conscious with all the attention it has been getting lately.

It seems like I will have to inevitably move on to describing my body in detail, like its pear shape that my sweet fashion teacher surprisingly pointed out to the class, as I stood next to the cutting table lining up my pattern to cut during our lecture on body shapes and outfits that flatter them.

Naturally, I will then move on to scars, like the one on my right pinky where the sharper than normal butter knife slipped and cut to the bone. And the shiny rectangle one on my left leg, on the bottom of my knee where several layers of skin were scratched off by the corner of the TV in my shared room, after my sister in her anger threw it on the ground in front of the door and my unsuspecting self knew nothing about it when I entered.

All that to say, yes I like my body and I am ever grateful for it. It is a sweet friend, who has put up with a lot and thankfully still works as it should, even when I indulge in too much chocolate.

I do not think I can squeeze out anymore about it at this point and will bow out of this, a little shorter than usual, as is my height. And hoping you are loving the skin you are in, too because it is quite fabulous, friend.


Here's to more stuff about bodies.  
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: on shame {24/365}

Tiffany Nicole

How does shame haunt you? What would it look like to let God's love be your shield against the voice of shame? How might your life change? How might you change?

I sat in the front row teetering my pencil between my fingers as I listened to my fifth grade teacher lecture. She stood in front of the white board, nearly directly in front of me, moving her hands as she spoke and her shoulder length dark hair following. I listened and the pencil danced to its own rhythm between my index and middle fingers until somewhere between the to and fro, it projected forward. Straight at my teacher.

Shocked by what just happened I sunk in to my desk. My teacher, shocked as well, asked for whom ever threw the pencil to come pick it up. I did not throw it, I thought. There was no intentionality. No fore thought. No aim could have made it maneuver the way it did. It just happened. Some mandatory part of physics with the object in motion and the moving. It happened so fast.

I could not move. For the life of me I could not look at her or get my body to move out of my seat. I was glued. My face red and hot. My heart pounding in my chest. All eleven years of brain activity shutting down.

And she waited.

She waited for the perpetrator to gather the weapon, announcing she would sit at her desk until it was picked up.

After what seemed like an eternity, my feet moved, though my body still felt paralyzed and I could not think clearly, I managed to pick it up and return to my desk.

I was humiliated. The class knew it was me. She knew it was me. I felt awful. Full of shame and regret and vowed never to tweedle my pencil or any other object again in class after this freak accident, playing it over in my head.

Shame has its way of replaying worst parts, whether as bad as we felt or otherwise, over and over. Shame makes us the culprit and the one who messed up, making everything our fault; even circumstances out of our control or unplanned.

Since listening to God and following his leading, shame is a little easier to spot and usually sounds silly once it is said aloud. Things that are playing around in our heads tend to sound not so daunting when they are spoken and can been seen as they truly are - lies and life taking. Shame cannot hide in the face of God's love and or stand in the face of his truth, which is why knowing truth is so important, as well as believing it.

Living a life believing truth is freeing and allows for growth and new perspective. And it is a constant reminder. Not something that comes naturally, for me anyway. It is a continual process of seeing the bigger picture and not letting silly things like pencils flying bring me down and allowing God to 
speak and move and beginning to grasp his love through it all.  


Here's to less shame and God's love prevailing. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: here i come {23/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Our bodies are amazing gifts from a loving God. What would it take for you to live well in your body this season?
It is a wonder at just how much our bodies are a gift from God because it has been ours from the day we were born. It is a constant, though it may change with each year, as the numbers on the scale fluctuate and lines form across the skin, it is still ours and still holding us together. It is full of functions and protocols and systems that I cannot name but God knows. He knows what needs to do what and he created them to be so.

I cannot pretend to know the body or biology because I do not. Biology was one of my least favorite subjects in school, though now I find interesting in new light with God as the creator of it all. But it is still systems and more functions than I can comprehend and have long forgotten since my freshman high school class, where we dissected a worm and then frog and culminated with a rat that we cut the toe nails off, one accidentally landing in the hair of the girl in front of us. So many parts, teeny and seemingly useless but each part playing an important role.

I once heard of a man being so engrossed in thanksgiving to God that he named each system in his body, thanking God for each part. Each part that made up his body, that allowed it to move and flow and inhale and exhale and be alive. It sounds so grandiose to be able to do such a thing, to know each inner part and thank God for each one and it is but for me, I am perfectly content with naming the things I can see and remember; he knows that is not my area of expertise but thankfulness is developed none the less.

And I think that is what loving my body this season looks like.

Loving my body this season is taking it in for all its worth, thanking God for mobility and for each limbs working properly. It is taking the time to thank God for my feet that walk effortlessly around the house picking up toys for the eighty second time today and for my hands that scrub dish after dish, colored in each shade of the rainbow and for my eyes that have witnessed each season of growth and maturity in my children. Thanksgiving for ears that hear them call my name in the middle of the night when I am sound asleep and thanksgiving for arms to hug and comfort.

It is about remembering to love the skin I have been created in.

Here's to bodies and living well.
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: summer at the lake {22/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Embrace the joys of summer by dancing, swimming, sailing, wriggling your toes in the sand, or even just feeling the sun on your face.

I love summer. California summer to be exact because it is not the same everywhere. It has its own smell that draws out memories and curates new ones, like long summer nights and the smell of water running from a sun heated hose on to plants and toes. 

Oceans and lakes and rivers and pools have always been some of my favorite things.The beach is my favorite with its salty air and almost always guaranteeing a breeze. In high school Santa Cruz and its famous boardwalk became an essential part of summer.  

It started with a trip with Kristina and Matt and their dad and my then boyfriend Dave and Ricardo and his little brother, Chris, all picked in their Astro van. Kristina's dad entertained us on the way there with sing alongs and funny stories and allowing us to decide which route to take, through the city or ocean view. We played mini golf, where I somehow managed to get a hole in one and lose my ball in the same game.  We swam in the ocean and laid in the sun and posed for silly pictures of fake shark attacks and riding on kiddie toys.We stopped on our way home and ate at Onos, a local sea food restaurant. After much resistance, I hesitantly tried raw fish for the first time and was not a fan like I was sure I would not be.

The following summer Ricardo and I and Chris and Manny and Senia and Maria, embarked on our own adventure piling in to his parent's suburban and started the two and a half hour drive, my sister and her boyfriend following along in his truck.

We played more mini golf and took up the arcade, watching the boys work up a sweat over Dance Dance Revolution. We ate strawberry funnel cakes, over flowing with powdered sugar and vanilla ice cream and walked up and down the boardwalk, taking in the overcast weather.

We stopped at Onos on the way home, trying to remember how to get there before GPS was on available on our smart phones. As we attempted to navigate, we wound our way down highway one during its reconstruction, with my sister leading the way. They entered a do not enter zone; their truck disappearing as we looked at each other in the suburban hoping there was not a cliff of the other side of the signs. We stopped to turn around as the sun set and hoped their car would return unharmed.

The truck headlights returned, after what seemed like forever and we gave up on our search for dinner, just as we passed it on the high way. We turned around and enjoyed some food, no fish for me this time around, accompanied by horrible service. We paid the bill leaving no tip and started walking to our cars, when the waiter approached us in his apron, stating because there was so many of us, we had to leave a mandatory tip, though it was not disclosed anywhere on the receipt or menu. We stood in disbelief, refusing to pay, when I gave in and paid what he said was owed to stop all the awkwardness of it all and vowing not to come back.

We laughed and drove home, almost getting crushed on our way in to San Francisco through the tunnel bridge.


And each year we have returned, Ricardo and I, a little older and a little more lured by its magic and fun and its symbol of summer and our youth. It is where we eventually said I do and ran in to its waves, wedding rings fresh on our fingers and my lips turning blue from its cold afternoon wind. It is a little spot in our story filled with sand and sun and enchantment. 

Here's to all things summer. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: laying down my anxiety {21/365}

Tiffany Nicole

God has given us this season to enjoy. What fear or anxiety is keeping you from full life? What would it look like to lay it down?
It is incredible how subtlety insecurity can creep in without fully seeing it. It seems like when I feel I am trusting God, I turn around and see another hole where it is lacking and no matter how small the hole, there is still water seeping in and raising and I am left to pick up the buckets and pour more of myself out. 

Ever since God started giving me glimpses and guidance towards starting a business and somehow binding it up with Pocket Blessings and bringing it out in to the community, anxiety started bubbling up too. The thought of it sounded great but the execution and day to day kept me hesitant and doubting a bit, as it is when I try to figure out everything. The down side of being analytical. 

For me, starting a business means time away from my kiddos, which is hard but I also enjoy the entire creative process. Two fold, right. And then there is the selling and buying of products, something I have never liked to do. Giving is always my favorite and I would much rather give everything away than get a dollar. I do not have sales personality, not even in my left pinky toe.

The more I thought about it, as with anything, the more I questioned if this was really what God was calling us to. The more I wondered if this could really be right. The more I allowed doubt to win and trust to trail off in the distance.

It made me think back to Moses. He had bigger quests to accomplish but there is the sending and the call that always bring me back to obedience.

Did he try to figure it out before they left? Did Moses talk it over with his wife before he went to Egypt and make a plan about the way he would get to the palace? Or did he just throw caution to the wind, trusting the very words God had spoken and run towards the doors with Aaron? Did he go over the situation numerous times, seeing it played out in his head? These are the details I would love to hear the account of.  

In the figuring it out, anxiety takes its best form as questions and solutions bring on more questions needing more answers. Perhaps that is my way of thinking.

When I started peeling back the layers and realizing the thoughts and insecurities that surrounded the endeavor, it turned me even more to listening to God and praying and reminding me to take each step as it comes. Trusting God above my own worries and knowing whatever this looks like, it is a stepping out in faith and making a way where there has not yet been foot prints.

It is an opportunity to be obedient and pray and fast and clearly seek God and allow my children to be a part of the ride, as they pray for those who will hear the Gospel for perhaps the first time and for those who will be inspired by the products.

It has been an opportunity to have friends pray for me and choose to lean on God, not my own understanding and insecurity, as getting things out in the open tends to do that. It is another opportunity for God to work in ways only he can and for me to watch it unfold before my eyes. 

Here's to less anxiety and more trust. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: honesty's invitation {20/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Honesty gives others the freedom to be honest, as well, opening up the possibility of deeper connection and friendship.

Telling the truth was always instilled in me growing up and I did not like to lie. Until eight grade when it seemed like all I could tell was false things. It was easy and I did not care and the words seemed to roll off the tongue naturally that I hardly had time to think about what I was saying but it sounded good and feasible and I could keep straight faces and believable tones.

It was a season of being places I should not been and hanging out with people I should not have, which inevitably, why the lies were instilled and put in to place and had to be told. We were going to the library, though just the first stop. We were going to bed, only to sneak out our window. It was these sorts of half truths that my younger sister and I took on and found code words for and our own identity wrapped up in it because we were naive and it was fun and exciting and because of course we knew what was best for us.

After everything unraveled and the fun was over and the police escorted us home one night and other dominoes fell in to their proper place and we answered questions, while they were being recorded on police tapes, the lies were done. Sure, some of my questions on tape were not the full truth but that was the end.

I was over it, though the scars from the lies were ever infused in my parents; I could not be trusted and rightly so.

But I knew the truth and was determined from there on out to live it. To only say those things which were planned on occurring and had occurred. And that is how I base my life and relationships. Brimming with honesty, sometimes perhaps a little too honest at times.

Honesty has a way of pushing itself to the surface, whether now or later, and feels that much better when it is said, which is why I like it that much better.

Honesty has a way of keeping things open and vulnerable and in a spot allowing others see you for who you are. It gives them the opportunity to rally for or against you and possibly a reason to dislike you or dig their heels in with yours.

Honesty is relief and live giving and freeing on so many levels, one of them being the fact the story does not change, details may be forgotten and a little skewed the further as time passes but the bones are there, bare and in full view for other eyes to see. It gives power and cultivates unity and weaves threads of understanding between those who hear and receive it.

Here's to honesty and living like it matters.
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.


savoring the year: one step {19/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Do you have passion or energy or frustration that you don't know what to do with, or gifts that you suspect lie buried, untapped? What is just one step that you can take?

Right now, all of my energy and passion and gifts are being tapped in to and used to their core. Something I am enjoying and learning to balance and develop discipline, a process in it of itself that God has been graciously teaching me. Perhaps this is the honing in on my passions, in a sort of way. Learning how to make them work for me and simply enjoying them and not getting too critical of what they look like or how I would like them to be.

This writing project has been keeping words on the tips of my fingers and thoughts in my head bouncing around and made me feel more like a writer in the sense of the word. Knowing I have to write makes it a little harder but the commitment makes it that much more rich.

Some of the prompts I have not known where to start and have taken me longer to process. I have had to pray and dig deep and really remember things I had thought I long forgotten; a friend even commenting on how good my memory was. This made me laugh because my memory seems to be the thing I am constantly lacking in and forgetful is working its way up in my vocabulary. Like the text I never sent or the email that was never written or the forms that were left at home. Unless I write things down, they seem to disappear. But I digress.

Right now, the gifts are being tapped and prodded and flowing in to projects like this one and the small business we are working on and of course all the other little ones that I like to do with my children and for friends.

My creative outlets are becoming work but I think it is in the best of ways and something I am looking forward to continuing to play with. I have been learning to enjoy the learning process in creativity, like the time it has taken to learn the ropes of new programs for graphic design and figuring out new platforms for websites. It is all part of the process and not on the exact time line I had first imagined but there none the less, being formed and reigned in and let loose.

And only God knows how long they will last and if there are others that will come but for now, I am savoring the ones that are in my hands.

Here's to gifts and using them. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: running {18/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Sometimes we can guide each other along toward courage and heath. Who's done that for you? Who could you be a guide for in this season?

In college, I had a nutrition professor who was passionate about food, I cannot recall her name but her love for all things health and her slender build and long dark hair are engrained in my memory. Growing up, I always refused whole wheat, whole wheat anything. If it was brown and I would not touch it but after a few weeks in her class, she opened my eyes to health on another level with sprinkled vocabulary words like flax seed and saturated fat and whole wheat bread and flour made its way in to my cart and home with me. She brought in samples of recipes with muffins filled with carrots and apples and seeds that were surprisingly delicious and gave us all copies. I walked out of class eating my muffin and talking on the phone with Ricardo in amazement at the taste and ingredients.

A few years later, I regularly babysat two of the sweetest, calmest children I have ever known. For snack, I was ever cutting up apples and pears and peeling oranges and spreading sunflower butter on celery sticks topped with raisins and mixing bowls of nuts and dried berries. At this point, I was hardly eating fruits, besides Cuties and apples but as I cut and chopped, the aroma was so sweet and the pears were so juicy, I started purchasing them, too, enjoying each bite.  Sunflower butter was a new concept, as peanut butter was always a staple growing up but it was delicious none the less, especially homemade with cinnamon and maple syrup mixed in. And nuts made a perfect snack, with a few chocolate chips.

Their mama was the first person I knew to do science experiments with Halloween candy; I had never heard of such a thing and it took me by surprise the day I came over to candy sitting on the counter with a list of ways to examine and dissolve them. Candies I had grown up eating and never thought twice about - except the time a classmate told me they were made in a science lab but I had no idea what he meant by that or that it was not natural for candy to be made that way. It sounded kind of fancy to me and tasted delicious.

But this time I thought more about it. Looking on the packages and realizing what I was consuming made it that much less appealing when I did not know what half the ingredients were.

A little while later, after Penny was born, she started getting rashes, which seemed to be triggered by certain foods, mainly those with preservatives and artificial colors. This made me evaluate what we were eating even more and drove me a little crazy and forced me to narrow our choices to healthier options with better ingredients and lots of fruits of vegetables, which I had thankfully already been exposed to and implementing in our diets.

When people are passionate about something, there tends to be a natural guidance towards it. I love how they showed me through their knowledge and expertise on the matter in the way they lived and treated their bodies. A sort of leading by example.

After all, are we really what we eat?

Here's to guiding and health. 

____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: patron saint of changing your life {17/365}

Tiffany Nicole
Who has shown you how to handle change courageously, thoughtfully, proactively? How have you followed their example? Is there any area of your life in which you need to consider making a change?

Change is based on a series of events be decisions, some beyond our it control and others because of them.

I walked home from school with her on and off since junior high. We laughed and dreamed and discussed taking home recycled papers that belonged to a crush. Was that weird?!

Our freshman year was the last to have our feet hit the pavement together with home as the destination. Her dad passed and her mom was involved in not so legal things and her access to older boys and drugs lured her from the once A student to a different path entirely. The first time she told me about trying them, I hardly knew what to say except they were bad but the way she described them made seemed so harmless to her and I naively hoped she was right and I listened, though still sticking to the DAREs program slogan to just say no.

She eventually dove deeper and deeper, though she was still the same cheerful girl we knew and loved with a different address and in and out of motels.

Eventually she got pregnant and stayed in the same routine of meth and such. We visited her after the birth of her son, healthy and strong, not knowing the issues that mounted and were still bleeding through.

And then CPS got involved, removing her son from her care. It was an act of grace and the pivot in her story. The place where she knew what mattered and what didn't and what she wanted and what she was determined to get.

She cleansed herself of the drugs and illegal pursuits, eventually regaining custody of her son. She laid a new foundation of family first and did what she needed to do to find life again and breathe.

And for that, I truly admire her. For her willingness to better herself for the life of someone else and to listen to the call for help when the strings are cut and the bottom falls out, even from her own doing. To love someone so much that even though she let herself go due to choices and situations, she pulled herself back together to do whatever in her power to be the best her, even if it meant cutting out things and people she once thought made her happy.

And the same is true when we meet God. He loved us so much to send his Son and because of his love, our life is forever changed.

She serves as a reminder that change is always possible, especially with God. He is constantly working, even when we do not have eyes to fully see it but the miracle is clearly there to prove it.

And I have followed her example, too. Along with Jesus, my children have been my catalysts, as well. They have push me harder than anyone could to want to be better and have a heart to serve them selflessly and model what it looks like to love God and serve him first as the reason for it all. And about learning grace and patience. And to my knees in prayer. I think about what they see in my actions in the day to day and how that may affect their future and views and it keeps me grounded in prayer and trust in the Lord.

They have been the ones who have guided me unknowingly closer to Jesus, closer to a fuller life.

And she is my reminder that change is possible, no matter how bleak the outlook . It's never too late. Praying if you are going through something similar that God would give you the strength and support to endure and come out on the other side.

Here's to cha - cha - changes.
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.


savoring the year: the older-sister, tinkerbell voice {16/365}

Tiffany Nicole

If you find a friend who's wiser than you are and a few steps ahead of you on the path, it's a great gift to learn from her. Send a text or make a call today, thanking that friend. And take a minute to thank God for the mentors and guides he has placed in your life. 

Ricardo and I did a brief stint in Washington state. We endured and enjoyed the rain and green trees and fourth of July fireworks under an umbrella. We had Googled local churches before we left and had a few names written down to check out but we never did.

Our first Sunday there, we headed to New Life, a church we had seen a little ways off on the way to my brother in law's karate class. We drove in to the parking lot that Sunday, greeted by volunteers directing us where to park, in my father in law's silver Mustang, toting a bite my shiny metal a** vinyl decal on the back window.

The ushers were sweet and informative and told us of an upcoming mixer of sorts for marriage small groups the next week. It was welcoming and sweet and homey, despite the large attendance numbers and multiple services and we went back the next week and on to the small group mixer. We ate yummy desserts and spoke with different couples who were leading; their dates and times and curriculum displayed next to them, along with a signup sheet with spots for up to five couples.

We met Duane and Robyn, who met on Sundays and were starting in the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado. The time was perfect and study appealing, so we wrote our names down next to Josh and Jenny, Justin and Brenda and another couple that could not commit. As we talked, he told us he was the children's pastor and had four children of his own. They were sweet and funny and full of life and entertainment, to say the least.

Our group dwindled down to Justin and Brenda, and Duane and Robyn and us, as far as regularity went after a while. Justin and Brenda had two young children who would play with Duane and Robyn's four, as we took turns meeting between each of their homes.

We were able to hear and see glimmers of parenting, a season we were on cusp of entering, though we had no idea at the time. We spoke of God and food and Justin and Duane made us laugh more than anyone I know during our short time, constantly keeping things real and genuine and humorous.

They demonstrated what it meant to love and serve God and how pass that legacy on to their children, along with an affinity for all things theater and Disney (speaking of, if you have any questions regarding Disneyland and your family, check out his wisdom and fun at theDisneylandDad.com)

Brenda allowed me to hang out with her two during the week when Ricardo was working, while she looked for job opportunities. We went on a few shopping adventures and took me to the east side of the state, where hardly any green or hills are found and even drove down from Washington to California when we moved back home, her two and half year old and nine month old in tow. Being a mom now, I realize the amount of love and crazy that it takes to embark on that type of adventure. And for that I am thankful.

She let me come over and let me in, as she drank coffee that she made in her Keurig, and talked about life and becoming a mom and having a traveling husband and her family dynamics and settling in to her new home and leading a bible study. She spoke of what God had done and was doing, as she navigated being newly unemployed after being laid off from her job.


It was in this brief snapshot of time, God allowed me to learn a few tips and stepping stones in to mamahood and what marriage looks like in that context, and blessed us with sweet friendship in a new place. 

And though I do not ever think one can know all things that are gleaned in time spent together, I am forever thankful for each piece. 

Here's to guidance and glimmers. 

____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: on losing the plot {15/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Do you ever lose the plot in your life? What helps you to recover? Ask God what he wants you to see today.

Losing the plot in life is easy to do with three small children to care for along with things like celebrations and meetings and a husband who is finishing up ordination classes and leading ministry and for a girl who loves to be home and just breathe, the plot can get skewed. Eyes can stray from the cross and grace and mercy to tired and self and analytical.

Losing the plot sometimes looks like sleepless nights and lack of sleep and giving in to grumpy. And then God reminding me how being tempted is not giving in to sin. How taking a minute to breathe and pray through the exhaustion, no matter how frustrated or angry, is not sin. Acting out the anger is sin. To lose my temper is giving sin its win but to grab another book, while frustrated at another long night of bedtime with a white flag ready to be raised, and holding him in my lap as I read and breathe, is not. It is resisting and enduring. It is dispersing mercy and capturing grace and smiles of my nearly inexhaustible children.

And sometimes it looks like insecurities and thoughts that are not true and combating them daily. Not giving in to their pressure and lies. And sometimes realizing that they wiggled their way in to sounding a bit like truth and taking a hard look at the black and white.

But there is this constant in losing the plot that always points back to Jesus. Sometimes the further lost, the easier it is to see the port in the storm and see how far it has drifted.

Recovery and focus have come in the form of rest, which has taken me three children to scratch the surface of. It has come through tears and tired eyes and understanding how much schedule and routine is vital for children to thrive, which directly effects my day to day and my ability to thrive.
It has come in the form of no for places I would love to go and people I would like to see and celebrate along side. It has come in the quiet of the morning, buried in my bible before the children have had a chance to peak at the day. It has come in the reminder to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow is not certain and today could be the last.

It has come with the intentions of hanging a banner of FUN hanging over my day, to remember to relax and have enjoy and nothing is as serious as it may appear, as long as everyone has breath and health. 

Here's to plots and recovering and God guiding the way. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: the newborn fog {14/365}

Tiffany Nicole

There's nothing like a gathering of close friends to refresh and strengthen us. Who are the people who restore you most? Take a minute to thank God for them.

Becoming a mama is an adventure in of itself with the endless transition and figuring out how to make dinner with a fussy baby and how get to and from Target in time for feedings, lest car feedings occur and which is the best product for baby eczema and it is hard to imagine going through it totally alone. Having wiser women who have been there is a plus but there is something about having the comradery of the new mom transition that makes it that much sweeter and less crazy.

When we found out we were pregnant with Penny, our circle hardly included any one with children but within a few months, newer friends joined the adventure and we were due within two months of each other. 

We bonded over conversations of pregnancy and how many weeks along we were and all the developmental stages that came with them and different things we had read about labor. We talked about our OBGYNs and how the birthing process works and which hospital would be the one. 

I gave birth to Penny in June and Luuk arrived seven weeks later and Gavin entered the world at the end of August, merely four weeks after. 

And just like that, we started navigating our new roles as Mamas, leaving our jobs and figuring out what life now looked like. We exchanged stories of sleepless nights and products that were amazing or just funny, like the pee pee teepees, and what was not working and everything in between. I admired their baby's ability to take three hour naps and they took note of Penny's early verbal skills. 

We had play dates, when our schedules and naptimes aligned. And the babies grew and we learned and laughed and wondered if we would ever get sleep again. And in the blink of an eye, they out grew nursing and bottles and diapers, giving us opinions and word in return. 

We learned a lot about ourselves and what it means to care for another, who cannot care for themselves and that the only thing that is predictable is change.  Once we got something down, they started crawling or getting another tooth or learned to walk and what worked before was no longer helpful. Tips and tricks of things we read in parenting books or online from the experts have been passed around and tried out for what they are worth. And all along the way, we were there for sounding boards and prayers and life.

And as our babies have grown, so has our circle of mama friends. New ones have joined and others have since left, leaving memories and taking parts of our hearts. Play dates are pure chaos and coffee these days, as they play alongside siblings, who graced us with their presence in a similar fashion a second time, as well. 

And for them I am ever thankful, along with all the other sweet mamas who have become part of the network of play dates and park friends and library goers. Mamahood would not be as fun without you and yours. 

Thank you. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: scraps of wisdom {13/365}

Tiffany Nicole
There is much wisdom to be found in discussion with good-hearted friends. Who are the people in your life that guide you along the way?
So far, this has been one of the tougher to answer questions. Perhaps it is trying to narrow it down to a few people or a person and saying this is the guide. Or maybe just really digging deep in to thinking about who guides me, who I allow to direct my path and influence me, something I do not think about often enough. For the saying about who you hang out with is who you are, is surely applicable here. Though, I am truly surrounded by some amazing people, who I am thankful to be influenced by, whether consciously or not.

Our last season of life group or small group or home church or whatever you would like to refer to our weekly meeting as, was an eclectic group that only God could have orchestrated, as each one has been.

But this one has been different. It has been smaller with deeper conversations and discussions about life and God and theology and sermons knit together with a lot of time spent collectively in prayer.

This past season has been one of learning and listening and excitement as God has shown up and allowed each person to pour out their hearts about what God has been doing and what God has been speaking to them about. Each coming in to the conversation with different backgrounds and stage in life and a rich transparency in their character.

We went through studies and questions but each discussion seemed to form a life of its own and winded its way down a path we could not known to go if we tried. Organically birthed through the Spirit.

This season, they have guided me and prayed for me and listened as we knelt in prayer with hands grasped and eyes closed and petitioned to God. They have come along on our journey each week as we scratched the service of learning about healing and what that looks like and as we sought direction in the possibility of starting abusiness. They have been an amazing community and I am ever grateful for each Tuesday night that they have shown up at our door.


And of course there are so many others, too, that I simply cannot name. Little anchors built in to friendships and family ties that steer to straighter paths. Thank you for listening and praying and guiding me towards Jesus. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

savoring the year: feeding babies + telling stories {12/365}

Tiffany Nicole

Some words are only spoken face-to-face. That's one reason time with friends from far away is so precious. 

I still call the girls I hung out with in junior high friends. We shared teachers and sodas and french fries and walks home and crushes and all the in between.

There is Maria, lover of Lucas (the flavored salt candy) and all spicy / salty Mexican candy that I really do not consider to be candy. She fights for what she wants and lives hard and keeps going no matter what. She battled leukemia in the beginning of high school. When the diagnosis came, she was close to death's door but by God's grace she fought hard and her body healed; though the entire time we hardly understood the severity. At fifteen death was foreign and far off and we assumed she would be back and she was, rocking an awesome wig and her ever contagious smile.

Then there is Sara. She once was a rebel without a cause but truly likes to stay in line; once shedding tears over getting a B on a math test. She was the first to leave and gave birth to the sweetest boy before graduation. She has known the darkness and loss and drugs but she knows what it is like to be on the opposite side, to get clean and back on her feet and fight for her baby. She is a rock star of a mom and determined to finish what she has started and does it grace.

Kristina is our token Asian friend and we share the same family heritage of adobo and rice. Her beautiful, long, straight black hair and denim skirts were her staples, until Senia cut it off. I had passed them to Senia, not wanting to be the one responsible for cutting off her rules and religion. She and Senia turned me on to thrift stores on our trip to Goodwill to purchase her first pair of pants, brown and straight leg that fit like they were made for her. She is one of the best writers I know and truly has the sweetest heart and best intentions. She once took care of a boyfriend who smashed his face while skateboarding. Enough said. 

Then there's Senia. She and I didn't hit it off too well in the beginning and I thought she hated me. Naturally, I had to ask Sara if she did and once we got it all sorted out we went on to sharing more cake and ice cream and drinks and late nights than I can remember. She is killer with a paint brush and baking and knows how to handle a pair of scissors and hair. She was my stylist throughout high school and I have always admired her ability to cut and dye her own hair.

And then after high school, we met Julie, the sister of my sister's then boyfriend. She is funny and a talented artist and so awesome that we almost forget she did not roam C hall with us or pile in to Senia's navy blue, Chevy Malibu to go to lunch. Julie is always calm and collected and one of the best listeners I know. She knows every Weezer song and is amazing with a tattoo gun, even on herself. She is 100% in whatever she does and loyal; she always shows up and is where she says she will be, even if it means changing her own tire in the dark on the side of the road to get there.


We have lived across state lines and in various cities but the commonality and thread is always there, no matter how long it has been since our last gathering. There is nothing like getting together with laughter and conversations, especially over cake.

Here's to being face-to-face and friendship. 
____________________________________________________

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.