The Inspire Shop

trees make shade. 

tiffany garza

I had been asked over summer to do a little Christmas project for the girls at Mercy Multiplied, which I happily agreed too, assuming it would be done long before December approached. But that did not happen, so this past week I finished up our Inspire Gatherings for the year and went on my way wrapping up some Christmas cheer, with some bumps along the way. 

As I had prayed about what to do, this message of trees and growth and shade came to mind, as trees are such a part of American Christmas celebrations, so I thought I would share it here with you, too. 

In the bible, trees are often used to symbolize a person being rooted in God and righteousness. Someone who is truly growing in relation and faith with him. Someone who trusts in him.

As trees grow, some lose their bark like the sycamore, redbud, silver maple, shagbark hickory, and birch. This usually is not an indication that anything is wrong, rather a visual sign it is outgrowing its skin to allow its trunk to enlarge. However, in some cases, it can be harmful if insects or cold weather attack in the process.

While we are growing in to our relationship with God and learning his heart and hearing his voice, we are shedding our old self and growing spiritually. Our eyes are being opened to sin in our lives, healing and forgiveness that needs to take place and we start producing fruit of the Spirit. The enemy will try to squeeze through the cracks during this process of growth telling us lies and bringing up the past, just as insects and the cold try attack the tree, so we must focus intensely on the Truth of God’s word.

The interesting thing about trees is that as they are growing and maturing, they are constantly giving to others. They make shade for the beasts of the field and provide food for animals and places for birds to make their homes (Daniel 4:11-12). They become a gathering place for others.

This is the sort of life that God wants to instill in each of us. He wants us to be thriving and growing in him. Constantly learning more about who he is and revealing those characteristics in ourselves in order to be able to set us free from lies of the enemy and be a source of freedom for others. He wants us to be fruitful trees that are planted in the house of the Lord, drinking of his life giving water.

Praying that your roots would continue to grow in Christ and that you would seek him and find him and bask in his grace this Christmas season.Praying that you would make shade for others as you follow him. Praying that if have never experienced Christmas in the light of Jesus that this year you would have new eyes to see the beauty of the God of the universe being born on earth to die for your sins. All because of love. Because he loves you. Here's to roots and growth and Christmas.

He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17:8

If you would like to dive deeper in this short study, you can download a study guide for free here

Originally posted in The Inspire Monthly newsletter, December 2017. 

God gives good gifts.

tiffany garza

God gives good gifts.

My mom graciously gifted the kiddos a jump house for Christmas. It has been one of the best gifts they have received, hands down, next to the swing set Penny got for her second birthday from my aunt. The kiddos have played endlessly this year throughout the superfluous winter rain and the blazing summer heat. It has been the perfect inside energy outlet for them, bouncing away the morning and in to afternoons, while I finish dishes or drink my coffee or play mama monster alongside them, chasing them around it.

God has reminded me about his good gifts over the course of the year. As we took a step out in faith and moved to a new town, in to a house we had not seen until the keys were just about in our hands, God said he only gives good gifts. As my mom questioned whether it would smell like cigarettes or what the condition of the carpets would be and I wondered about the exact layout, God kindly assured me he only gives good gifts. When we walked through the doors of the home for the first time, I nearly cried as it was practically the exact layout I nonchalantly prayed months earlier for, at the mere idea of moving - not thinking it would be anytime soon. It was the layout of the last home my family had lived in before my parents went their separate ways. It was open and spacious with plenty of room for the kiddos to run and play and eventually hold the jump house. Another good gift.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

As we enter in the season of thanksgiving and gift giving and start thinking about what we should tuck under our Christmas trees and what we would benefit from receiving, there is a sweet reminder of hope that has been poured in to our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), one the best gifts we have received. The truth and comfort and freedom that we find in the Holy Spirit through the power of God, after Jesus rose from the grave and went to be with seated at the right hand of God, is nothing short of spectacular.

A friendship that is covered in grace and presses us deeper in to the very heart of God. 

Praying that whatever trials or circumstances you are facing that you would know that God only gives good gifts; knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:3-5). 

Originally posted in The Inspire Monthly newsletter, November 2017.


tiffany garza

I posted on Instagram a few weeks back about a little something that has been in the works for the shop. Something that I have been dreaming about putting together all year but as the dreaming has become time and effort and coming to fruition it has been harder to step out and actually pull the trigger

After listening to the Feather's Podcast by Abiding Ministries (which I highly recommend!) God keeps bringing to up the need to JUMP and need for risk and growing faith. An opportunity to really trust him. 

I am so excited to give you a peek at what this little jump looks like. It feels like a day at the lake, hanging out on the dock and running towards the edge. And as you are just a few steps from the edge, your stomach is filled with butterflies and mouth full of laughter as your hair blows behind you and you take the leap in the water, holding your breath. Yes, it's pretty much like that.  

We are introducing Christmas Infographs in to the shop in less than a month! 

They are perfect to send solo or tuck in to your Christmas cards. There will be options to download and print yourself or have us print them for you, along with a spot on the front for your pretty Christmas picture.

And my favorite part, there will be kits to go along with them, complete with everything you need to make them yourself and start a new tradition. Making our own Christmas cards has been a date night at home tradition for us over the past several years and we want to pass that along to you. My favorite part is being able to look back at our family's highlights over the years and tucking one in to each of the kiddo's baby books. 

Kits will include a personalized Infograph, some yummy Gobena Coffee (as an adoptive mama, I love the heart and everything about the coffee. Check them out if you haven't had the pleasure)  5x7 paper, envelopes, washi tape, custom return address labels, and more. You get to choose whether you put on a Christmas movie or listen to classic Christmas carols as you craft away. 

This should give you some time to review the year and get started, right? Follow along on Instagram to see how the kits come together.

And if you need another fun reason to join in the fun, proceeds from each Infograph and the kit goes towards funding Inspire Gatherings for the coming year. 

Is there anything God is asking you to take a risk on? Maybe putting your heart out there for foster care / adoption or a new friendship or a big move? Perhaps quitting your job and taking a year off like a sweet friend recently did (you can read about her journey here) or starting a new ministry or inviting a family over for dinner. Praying that whatever God is calling you towards this month, how ever small or grandiose, that you would walk in faith and trust him as he goes before you. 

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Originally posted in The Inspire Monthly newsletter, October 2017. 


tiffany garza

My daughter and I have been reading through the Never Girls series; she was gifted the first collection at for her birthday. We found the rest on our local library’s ebook borrowing system and have been reading them at bedtime and throughout the summer days. As I browsed for the next book, I came across Jennie Allen’s newest book, Nothing to Prove available in audio. I clicked borrow and have been listening to it over the course of the week, namely as I have been sanding and painting a few fun tables I found at thrift stores. Listening to her read as white paint brushed over the wood, filling its pours and the grooves. Covering over the scratches and little dents of its past life.

I think that is one of my favorite parts of old wood furniture. Its past life. Somehow dents and scratches came. Some can be sanded down enough to never be seen again; others stay, adding to its charm and my favorite term, its rustic character.

Jennie Allen read aloud, her words piercing as I painted. Truths of scripture pouring out and reminding me what it means to be enough. That is the premise of the book: We are not enough but Jesus is enough.

It is about leaning in to our weakness to find his strength (2 Corinthians 12:11) and our identities being tucked in to who Christ is, hidden in him (Colossians 3:3).

One point struck me, as more white paint gathered on my brush:
I am realizing it's not my curse that I believe I am not enough; it's my sin that I keep trying to be.

Pride can easily be entangled in being enough. When we are enough we simply have no need for God but in our weakness and firmly rooted in our identity in Christ, we can walk in confidence that God will always be enough, so we do not have to.

When we allow ourselves to repent for our feelings of inadequacy, changing the focus from pointing at ourselves to pointing directly at God and allowing God to bring about his sufficient grace and fully embrace that he is enough, we do not have to be.

We may not feel good enough as a wife or friend or mother or daughter or co – worker but God is enough and feelings are never facts. So much so that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. When we rely on him, we are enough for his purposes. 

There is not a measuring stick or comparison to be enough for God. There is just one you and an ocean full of grace and love.

What would it look like to fully embrace God, allowing him to be enough? May we walk in grace this month and know that God is enough, so we do not have to be. May God guide you in your weakness that he may be greater, showing his glory through you. 

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-11

Originally posted in The Inspire Monthly newsletter, September 2017. 

On the table. 

tiffany garza

I was invited to the Friends of Mercy Luncheon this past week, which is a time to learn more about the organization, learn about how we can help and meet the girls and take in the beauty of the home that draws them nearer to Jesus. My team joined me at the lunch as they had yet to fully see the home and all the details. We enjoyed croissant sandwiches and salad and heard a few testimonies of those who were in the home and had graduated. It was a simply sweet time, full of excitement from the girls to the overcrowded guests in attendance.

As I sat down to eat, the reminder of setting The Table came to mind.

The first time we brought session one of our Inspire Gatherings to Mercy Multiplied, we carefully put our supplies down and got everything situated in its space. We took each handout and canvas and water cup and laid them in each place setting. As we set the table for them, the Lord sweetly whispered, you’re setting the table for them, as I set the table for you. 

Jesus tells us in his Father’s house there are many rooms and he is going to prepare a place for us. Luke 14 points us to the parable of the feast. We are all invited to the feast; into salvation and relationship with Jesus. Yet not all who are invited will come.

Throughout our days, we are also putting out place settings and inviting others to the feast. We are given opportunities for others to come to know Christ. Some directly each day – our children, our spouse, our significant other, our extended family or co-workers, while others are indirectly or even unnoticed. The cashier at the grocery store or the librarian. The uber driver or waiter. Our everyday actions reference this invitation and either shows its glory or otherwise.

We all have opportunities to invite others to our table. To The Table. How we send out the invite and how we set the table matters. How we love is intricately woven in to the threads of the napkins and coils of the place mats. How our actions follow in step with our Lord can be reflected in how full our glass is, whether brimming to overflowing or running dry. We get to choose with each passing day what our table setting looks like and whether we are truly living in the sweet spot. 

Praying this month you will see ways to invite others in to the little things around you, ultimately showing love and pointing towards Jesus. Praying you will send out invites to the feast, opening up your table, despite its small size or mismatched dishware or lack of décor. It’s the invitation that is the key and heart behind it all.

Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God. Luke 14:1

Originally posted in The Inspire Monthly newsletter, August 2017. 

on encouragement.

tiffany garza

In college, I wrote a small thank you to a professor telling her thanks for all of the work she had put in one of the classes I had taken from her. It was so much work and so much to learn and so much for her to teach and to grade. When I transferred schools I had to retake the class. Same book. Same amount to learn but hardly any teaching occurred that came close to my previous professor's. I felt sorry for the other students in the class who were trying to figure it all out and had no idea what to do. This was where my note was born and sent it out to my teacher in full thankfulness for her efforts.

Later, a friend mentioned that my professor was really encouraged by it and placed it on her desktop as a reminder while she was going through the daily grind. I had no idea the impact that it would make for her and did not think she would remember me.

Encouragement is a powerful weapon and should be used and given accordingly.

Scripture is filled with encouragement and hope and healing and daily reminders of who we are in Christ, should we take time to read it and soak it in and let it sit on our tongues. Allowing our hearts to feel the truth and not just sit in our head.

It is for the days you look in the mirror and see how thirsty you have become. How dryness has dulled your skin, leaving craters and color lacking. How your once overflowing cup has become dry as the desert and there is still laundry to fold and lunches to be made and dishes in the sink waiting to be scrubbed.

It's God's love that truly quenches our drought through his Word and of those around us, should we allow it to penetrate deeper than the page, which in turn allows us to pass it along, heart to heart, in action and truth to others.

Praying your heart would be fully open to encouragement on both the giving and receiving end this month as you take time to read truth in scripture. Praying that you would take a moment to send a few words to someone who needs a little refill in her cup, whether it be through letters on a screen, words over the phone or snail mail. May your cup be filled this month as the Lord directs your steps.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Originally posted in The Inspire Monthly newsletter, July 2017. Subscribe here to read it first. 

flowers and identity.

tiffany garza

Our house has been filled with a teething toddler and infant. Needless to say, sleep has been off and on and off again. The other night, our almost two year old refused to go to bed, so with the warm spring weather outside, I opted for a walk around the neighborhood in the wagon – soothing for him and sanity on my part.

The neighborhood has surely grown on me, since our move here in October. Mini roses line the walking paths in yellow, white and pink hues, matching beautifully with the variety of flowers our neighbors have planted. We walked and waved to fellow walkers and gleaned a few roses from the path as we went, decorating the Radio Flyer in flowers.

In the morning, my oldest son immediately took notice of the small arrangement I had made with the flowers (he has an amazing eye for detail), and looking up at me after asking where they came from said, “You’re a Flower Mom, right?” squinting his eyes to make a point. “You love flowers.”

I laughed and agreed and admired his sense of detail and curiousness and desire to know me.

It is in these small gestures that we are known. Who we are and what we like and what we are about. Sometimes others point them out in ways that are unfitting and not accurate and give us definitions that do not define us, while at others they pin point us.

Yes, it is sweet my son calls me Flower Mom but others are not as sweet. Our identities can be easily weaved in to conversations or by accomplishments but God keeps reminding to keep my identity firmly planted in him, no matter how sweet or harsh the words of others may be. Our identities are established because of the God, who sent Jesus to die for us. To ransom us from who we once were and to bring us in to his fullness.

May you go out this month with a smile and your identity written on your heart. May this month be a month of pressing in to who God says you are; slowing down enough to stop and smell the spring roses and hear his heart for you.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7

Originally posted in The Inspire Monthly newsletter, May 2017.

new beginnings & coming soon

tiffany garza

Driving around the neighborhood, sparks of color have been found among the trees as pink and white and purple blossoms enter in. All the while, the calendar states it is merely the middle of February. Perhaps it is the abundance of clouds and rain this winter but it seems a little early for their arrival. Despite my usual love for their elegance and grace as spring is ushered in, this year it seems to early and out of place. But they are declaring in their sweet and soft voices of the newness to come, as does the sun, boasting its extra minutes of light.

So much beauty and birth still to come.

This season has been about birth and newness on more levels than I could possible keep record. The summer brought a season of hard and love and the fall ushered in one of surprise and shifting, as moving boxes filled our garage, while newborn diapers and more social workers graced our homes.

Transition has been a key word in my vocabulary, more than I thought was possible but with each use, as it has rolled off the tongue, God has showed something of himself and brought us to place of truly open hands to his leading.

Now, new birth and life is coming. Blossoms lining the road ahead as we go.

Today is the termination of parental rights for our littlest son, as we are in the process of adopting Ryland's biological brother. We are thankful to tuck four littles in to bed and kiss four little heads good night and surprised by God's grace to allow us one more of his.

We moved from our homiest of neighborhoods, following God's leading throughout it all (perhaps I will share details later) and starting to build an extension of our church there.

And then there is this silly thing that I really questioned God's timing about. With four small children and starting a new church in a new community, is it really time to start something else new? Clearly the answer is yes, because time is his and he gives and makes time for things that his heart is for, should I have the obedience to trust and listen.  

As I mentioned months ago about starting a small creative business to support women coming out of hard places and trafficking and addiction, it is now on the cusp of its birth. As products are being listed and the website is almost tuned and women are coming together to be the hands and feet and encourage and inspire others,  it leaves me in awe and wonder at what God will do, all the while worshipping and cultivating thankfulness.

Everything is under construction at the new website. I had debated keeping the blog or including it in the new site, so when I did not renew the domain over the summer and the new owner wanted several thousands of dollars for it, I got my answer.

So this is me tying up the last bit of ingracealways and heading over to more new things. If you would like to continue along, this is where you can find me. 

Here's to blossoms and new beginnings.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43: 19

meet julie steck, an interview + no more secrets

tiffany garza4 Comments

I met Julie and her friend, Jennifer in the hotel Starbucks when I attended the Allume Conference last fall. I ordered a drink and was planning on taking in the downtown view from the outside patio, soaking in just being there  across the country - childless, without any expectations and a God adventure on my sleeve (I have found it is easier to be open to these sorts of things when traveling alone, be to it to the grocery store or library or across the country, wherever it leads)  but as I waited for my name to be called, I started talking to Julie and Jennifer.

They invited me to enjoy the morning with them on the patio and I agreed. They were sweet and real and hospitable, even in an unfamiliar Starbucks. We spoke of God and life and our children and the fact we had no idea what we were doing at this conference, all as first time attendees but knew that this is where God was calling us to at this moment in time.

Julie is one of those easy to talk to people and real and deep and speaks with love and grace. Her heart is in each word she says and her authenticity is evident. She cares for her family and people and what God is doing in each person.

She shared about her book she was working on and we exchanged contact info, as we indulged in the last of our drinks and parted ways.

We have stayed in touch and she was gracious enough to share part of her journey in the Hearing God series at the beginning of the year. And now I am super excited to announce that the message that God has put on her heart to share, which is never easy to share, is being released today in her first book, No More Secrets: Set Free from Fear, Shame and Control by Discovering True Grace.

I was blessed with the privilege to get an advanced copy of the book a few weeks ago and read it through in one night. I love Julie's honesty and transparency to be herself and share issues that she has overcome through Christ. We do not all have the same struggles or the same fears but her message reaches past the actual struggle to the freedom from whatever is holding us back. Freedom that is found and rooted and Christ. Julie was sweet enough to let me pick her brain about her new book, so without further ado, here she is.


How did God lead you in to compiling your experiences in to a book?

Writing is how I process. So during this year of intense struggle, I filled my journal with thoughts, prayers and examples of all God taught me through His Word. I started blogging again and shared some of my journey there. One day I was sitting at the computer and I heard the Lord say, Ok, I want you to compile it all. I thought about it for weeks, and I couldn’t shake the sense that I was to turn this journey into a book.

I didn’t know if compiling it was for my continued processing and healing or if it would one day be a published book. So I just kept taking the next step. When I finished compiling everything I had written during that year, and read over it all several times, I put it away for a few months, continuing to pray for God’s guidance.

One day the next step was clear: find an editor. I found a writers’ group nearby, and so decided to check it out. My first time there, I hoped to just observe, but quickly found out I was the only one with material to read. Before I started reading, I told the leader, “I feel like God is asking me to make this a book.  So I want you to tell me if you think it has that potential.” When I finished reading the first chapter, she confirmed, yes, this could definitely be a book.

On the way home, I was unable to contain the tears from spilling down my cheek, totally overwhelmed at what God had put in front of me. The publishing process itself made me want to quit so I tried complaining to God about how I can’t do this. After I finished whining, I remember Him saying, But do you trust me? I decided then, my job was to write and what happened after that was up to Him.

Now here we are. He provided a wonderful editor that challenged me and pushed me to be more specific about my struggles. He carved out time for me to focus on finishing this project and I look forward to seeing what He does with these words.

"We think our church friends only want to hear the good stuff. We think we need to be strong for them and not let them see us hurting. Now we don’t have to wallow in self-pity, but we can be real. We must be real. We all need a place to share our brokenness, our temptations, and ask for prayer and help to overcome.: (No More Secrets) How has letting go of your fears and shame changed your friendships and yourself as a friend?

It’s funny you ask about friends. Circumstances in my life have changed so much over the last year that it’s actually been a lonely time for me. That plus all the time behind the computer it takes to write a book, I feel like my personal friendships have suffered.

I will say that the year I wrote this book, I identified fear of man as a big stronghold in my life. I care about what people think of me and I hate it when my actions negatively affect someone else.  

Sometimes even our obedience can do that. The Proverb says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We sharpen each other while we walk out what we sense God asking us to do. God had to break this fear of man in me so I will look to His approval over the approval of my friends.  This has hurt a few friendships lately and been very difficult.

"I just have to trust Him. Words that are so much easier to write than actually live out each day. To just keep walking when the road ends takes faith." (No More Secrets) What does trusting God look like practically in your life now and how has that changed since you were younger?

I would say earlier in my walk with God I had a set of expectations of how, when, and where I wanted God to answer my prayers. I expected Him to do certain things and when He didn’t, I grew frustrated.

I’ve learned to turn my expectations into expectancy. He hears my prayers and wants to answer me. He just may not do it like I want, when I want. Expectancy knows He will answer, and is eagerly on the lookout for how that will play out.

How have you grown since writing the book?

Oh goodness, I’ve grown leaps and bounds in this whole process. Dealing with fear is an on going process for me, rather than a once-and-for-all done deal. It seems to come in waves, but I’m getting quicker at recognizing fear’s footprints and dealing with it before it paralyzes me.

What is your biggest take away for readers? 

As long as we walk this earth, we’re going to be tempted. Often this temptation comes in the form of what we thought we could never do. Temptation itself is not sin, but temptation is not something to take lightly or think we are strong enough to handle. It wants to destroy us!

I love my husband’s illustration I share in the book about living life in a round room. A round room has no corners. Everything must be brought to the center and dealt with. It’s much easier to handle difficult issues when we know exactly what we’re dealing with.

This topic isn’t talked about much in the Christian community, especially when it comes to thinking too much about the opposite sex. That’s almost taboo. My prayer is that we can find the courage to talk about these issues and get them in the light. I see affairs affecting more and more families and it all starts in the mind. We have to figure out how to handle our thoughts and the temptations Satan sets for us, otherwise they turn into sin and eventually death.

A special thanks to Julie for sharing her story. You can find more about Julie on her blogFacebook page and of course in her book available on Amazon. 

back in to the rhythm

Tiffany NicoleComment

I have heard people say gifts and talents change over the course of time and for some, perhaps that is true. But I have come to find that it is more like a funneling system. Putting in all the things you have tried or want to try and experimenting and seeking God through it all. Everything goes down but not everything fits. Not everything fits in to our lives, in our schedules or makes sense in this season. But at the core, the core of our being, are things we were designed to do that make us feel fully alive. We may suppress them or deny them or confuse them with something else that pays better is more conveniently located but they are still there. Just waiting. Waiting to spring to life. Waiting for birth.

I like to think that the roots start somewhere in childhood, intermingled in the day dreams of what you wanted to be when you grew up and in the ways you spent your time and the hobbies you pursued and the classes you looked most forward to or the things that came most naturally. The things that kept you up at night trying figure out or explore or work on. One more brush stroke. One more pitch. One more song. One more equation. One more mile. One more speech. One more. One more.

The words discovering and yourself , when put next to each other, have always seemed so silly, with an awkward connotation; as if you are a thing you have to explore and in the background the song Normal, from Nightmare on Puberty Street plays, questioning "Am I Normal?" It is here that you lose the best of yourself, taking yourself for granted because those things are easy and everyone can do them.

But the reality is,  not everyone can do that and those are the things that make you, uniquely you. And some discovering is in order. An uncovering and prodding and digging of sorts. It is coming to a place of truly understanding yourself. Coming to understand what makes your heart jump and what makes your eyes take a double look and what makes you feel most alive. What makes you pray harder and takes you out of yourself. What makes you feel closest to God and makes you depend on him more. Doing what you love and loving what you do. There is a reason. And for some, you may earn a paycheck from it and for some you will never see a penny and it may cost you everything but gives birth to life, truly living and that is worth it.

For me, writing is one of those things. It reminds me of all the words out there to play with that are at my fingertips. It is inspiration bouncing around thoughts and grabbing my phone to write them down before they fall off the edge. Writing is engrained somewhere in my DNA, next to ice cream lover and doodler and maker of sorts.

There are seasons of blank papers and others brimming to overflowing and it has not always been so clear how it makes me tick but that has been part of the process and prodding and fun of discovery. The light bulb turning on and God's guidance and confirmation. 

It is the breaks that so often give way to the birthing process. Breaks are good and essential but always a tell tale sign when you get back to it. It could be the realization the project / work / job / hobby / insert something else here, was not life giving or needs to go in another direction or something you truly missed. An absence in your soul.

And for me, with each key hit, it is as if rainbows and sunbeams are bursting from the key board and life is coming back in to existence, back in to the rhythm. Not always. But those days are the best. 

Here's to funneling and prodding and discovering. 

whole: five minute friday

Tiffany NicoleComment
I have yet to participate in a Five Minute Friday post. A post where a word is given out and you take five minutes to write whatever comes to mind right them. Just five minutes and no editing. Timed writing always seems to make my head swirl and lack focus, an area that needs improvement, so I finally decided to give it a try (though I thought I had before). Not to mention, Ricardo challenged me to post something this week and I always love a challenge and I have missed setting time to write lately. So here is what whole and five minutes look like to me.

My birthday weekend was spent with a suprise-ish trip to Redding, complete with an Art Sozo class and trip to Bethel Church, staying at a cutest little Air BnB, with an amazing view of the city. I had never heard of a Sozo, ultimately thinking were doing a similar art concept to Paint Night. They have a picture to draw and show you step by step.

But that is nothing of the sort and we were in for a fun surprise. As it turns out, a Sozo is about healing and wholeness and God bringing out it all and when you add art to the mix, it is a canvas for him to show you in a visual form. Always healing.

Our first exercise to use the paint involved colors and shapes and God showing what four feelings were revealed in each. Anger. Peace. Sadness. Joy.

For me, sadness was not being whole Sadness was all things blue and in the shape of a macaroni noodle. Little semi circles, incomplete and lacking wholeness.

Being whole is a process of healing and God and self reflection. It is being empowered and driven towards God and people and loving yourself right where you are at. Something God has taken me through and continues to draw out. 

You can join the fun with #fmfparty here.

r is for repentance.

Tiffany NicoleComment

John the Baptist came before. He prepared the way for Jesus. He was not the one but pointed the way to the One who was coming to take away sin. John preached of repentance and baptism. He came eating bugs and honey and clothed in animal hide. He was not adorned in fancy robes and tassels telling of his position, rather wearing what God had provided and adorned.

John taught repentance to all who came out to the desert to see him. When the Pharisees and the Sadducees - the religious leaders of the time, those leading the synagogues and teaching God's people - came to see him, he tells them to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3: 8).

Repentance is an important factor in being in relation with God and bearing his fruit - doing his will. Lacking repentance builds blockages that only asking for forgiveness can tear down. Repentance comes when we are willing to lay down pride and accept responsibility and turn to God.

Communication with God is like a stream, rushing through its path, free flowing and following the grooves of the earth, while our sin and unrepentance is that of a dam, blocking the water's flow. With each new dam, our communication is coming to a standstill, while our hearts are hardened from God and our prayers hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

In order to bear fruit, we must search our hearts and be open to repenting and hearing God.

We must be full of humility to confess our failures and short comings and whatever leads us in to sin. Without humility, our relationship with God can turn in to an elephant in the living room sort of thing, where issues are not addressed and we distance ourselves from his love and grace and mercy, cutting ourselves off from communing with him, our life blood. Our ears close off to the still small voice of the Spirit and our hearts reject his promptings.

We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of  (Romans 3:23) but He is faithful and just to forgive if we turn and confess every unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Jesus died for our sins, paying our debt before we breathed our first breath. When we trust in Jesus, we are washed as white as snow, though repentance is still needed.

Praying that whatever your state of communing with God is, that you would take a moment to ask if there is anything that needs to be confessed and forgiven. Praying that your heart would be open to the leading and discipline and grace that is poured out and that you would be strengthened and renewed and refreshed.

Praying that God's kindness would lead you to repentance (Romans 2:4) and that his favor would be your desire. Praying that your prayers would not be hindered but rather powerful and effective as you surrender yourself to God. Praying that you would be obedient in his leading and that you would bear fruit, whatever exciting adventures God has in store for you.

Here's to repentance and bearing fruit.   

healing prayer, how to + printable

Tiffany NicoleComment
healing prayer stock.jpg

I came across healing prayer at a women's retreat several years ago. It was the first time I really encountered God. Me and God. Not something that was revealed through bible study or through another person but through prayer. A vision.

Prayer is the communication language with God, though the Spirit will intercede for us where words fail. Prayer is powerful and integral in relationship.

It heals and restores and cultivates faith. It is an intimate practice of all who take part, in private or community, with the Creator.

There are so many ways to commune with God. Prayers are memorized and recited. Scriptures are prayed. Our petitions and joy and grief come to life off our tongues. And each has its own time and place to orchestrate and play its melody.

This healing prayer is my "go to" prayer when something is bothering me or there is an issue that is reoccurring. It never ceases to amaze me the way God reveals himself through it and the beauty and restoration that emerges out of it. I tried to Google the prayer to find its origins but I was at a loss for who wrote it, so this is what I took away from the retreat and how God has revealed it to me.

I have heard of people being healed physical and emotionally from it. From molestation to marriage issues to not feeling worthy or accepted to undiagnosed bleeding. If there is a feeling or a deep rooted issue that you would healed, this is it. I have lead others through this without a feeling in mind or asking for healing for myself and God showed me something that was lingering and healed it, too. That is the kind of God we serve, who knows us better than we know our own infinite selves, who knew us before we were born.

Here are the steps to walk you through the prayer.

Make sure you have enough time to go through this and are free from distractions / interruptions, asking the Spirit to lead.

If you are facilitating, you can have the person or group raise a hand as they go through each question to signal they are finished or say done. A question can be talked through if you are going through it with someone to get clarity if something comes up before moving on to the next step, as long as they are okay with sharing. This is a very intimate time of prayer.

I like to start by praying verses to clear and focus my mind on God, decluttering thoughts, such as: 

Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ - 1 Corinthians 10:5

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Each question is being asked to God. You have to quiet yourself to hear the response. I promise he will answer (Jeremiah 33:3).

1. Is there anyone I need to forgive? Is there sin I need to repent of? If a name comes to mind to forgive, write it down and pray how to reconcile, do so in you heart now. If you need to repent, do so now. This is crucial in the process to be reconciled to God and others. 

2. What is the emotion am I feeling? If you do not know what exactly is ailing you, ask God to reveal the words or issue at hand.

3. When was the first time I felt this? A memory of the first time you felt whatever emotion / situation will be revealed to you. (i.e. the time you were angry, lied to, etc.)

4. What is the lie? A lie is buried beneath the feelings that you have believed, whether known or unknown. 

5. What is the truth? The truth will be revealed. This is where the healing takes place, whatever God has in store for you. It may be a truth through scripture or other means.

Praying you have eyes to see and ears to hear. Praying you can see through the eyes in to the Spirit and not focus on what the world sees, for the world has missed Him. Praying that both eyes would be focused on the Spirit to see the things of God, for one cannot focus each eye on different things at once, lest your eyes grow cross and seeing becomes unbearable.

Praying you would receive healing from the Lord as you seek him and that you would hear his heart for you, as you enter in to forgiveness and repentance. Praying you would be healed and show others the way.

Here's to healing and renewing. 

You can print the FREE 5x7 print here.

healing prayer 5x7.jpg


tiffany garza

Pocket Blessings is a once a month craft night whose goal is to impact in the community for Christ, one handmade blessing at a time, while connecting crafters and willing learners. We would love to have you join us. 

We meet. We snack. We craft. We hear a little of God's word to sweeten the night. And then we give the crafts away to groups in our community, with a little verse + covered in prayers.

On the first of each month, from September to May, a craft will be posted with some instruction and scripture to guide your night but don't be confined to our ideas. Be creative.  

Interested in starting a Pocket Blessings craft night in your community? Here is some info to get you started. 

Want to share your projects? Use the #pocketblessings hashtag on Instagram. 

Current Craft:

Past Crafts:

pocket blessings: hearts of hope ornaments

tiffany garza

Happy November! We are getting our sewing needles and thread out this month for craft night. We are cutting and hand sewing these simple but so pretty heart ornaments. A similar tutorial can be found here for the general idea of construction.

Fabric: scraps are perfect
Needle + Thread / sewing machine
Cotton balls / stuffing
Embellishments: buttons, ribbon, bows, beads, etc.

Hearts are my favorite shape and can be found doodled on nearly any paper that comes in contact with my pen. Hearts are a symbol of love and a word used to say how much you like something. They can represent the center of an object or the soul and often tied to feelings depicting what we are all about.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and this month our prayer is to speak hope in to the hearts of those who are hurting. Hearts of hope.

 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Hope that only comes from believing in Jesus. That can be held on to during the most crucial points in our lives and in the most blissful. Hope that turns the mourning in to dancing and puts a new song in our mouth. It is the hope that does not make everything okay but that never gives up. That restores and renews. The hope that changes everything.

When we hope in Jesus, our lives change in ways only God can imagine, as idols fall and the cross is continually picked up, with new eyes to see the landscapes of a gifted life worth living despite circumstances.  Hope that reveals patience during trials and develops a conversational life of prayer.

Praying that your heart would be full of hope as you trust in Jesus and that it would be interrupted with hope if it has yet to be and that you would in turn bless someone else. Praying that you would find peace in the midst of life and comfort in the quiet to rest and refreshment in the beauty of things hoped for.

We are using these tags (1.5" x 1.5") to attach to the ornaments as we give them away. Click to print. 
For more info on Pocket Blessings, click here. If you are hosting a Pocket Blessings in your community, feel free to email with any questions or any way we can be of service.

shoes + sole hope

Tiffany NicoleComment

Growing up, my toes were slipped in to pink jellies in hot California summers and covered in black clogs for church (they were comfy) and orange sneakers to run across the play ground. High school had me sporting another pink shoe, this time a pair of Converse and these days comfy, grandma flats (as my sister lovingly calls them) are my favorite. I have always had shoes and more than one pair at that. And that seemed normal. Nothing to question or think twice about.

Until I heard of jiggers and learned the detriment they caused little feet worlds over, as Sole Hope spanned my computer screen a few years ago. It's simplistic message and need, coupled with  the heart and story behind it broke my heart.

I rang in my birthday that year with their Party with a Purpose. Friends and family came over, jeans and milk cartons in hand, ready to trace and cut shoe patterns for children who knew the pain of jiggers first hand, burrowing deep in to their feet.

It was humbling seeing everyone so focused and willing to help. And the next day, the scissor cutters could hardly move their fingers but they said it was all okay in the name of Jesus. Sweet sarcasm, sweet friends. That being said, fifteen minute station rotations is recommended to get the full experience, just in case your party goers are amazing, hard worker ,enthusiasts like mine.

Meeting Drew, one of the co-founders, at the Allume Conference brought Sole Hope to another level this year. Witnessing first hand his passion and heart driving the movement as he spoke about what it is all about and how we can partner with them was humbling still.

He stood on a chair in a crowded room. Raffle participants waiting in a lounge filled with sweet delicacies to see if they were the winner of an overflowing gift basket or the IPad, all generously donated. His words were real. His heart on his sleeve. To help the children. To be Christ overseas through giving and support. The raffle prizes seemed hollow and empty in the context of his heart and message.

This month the 10 for 10 program was launched: a way to ensure each that pair of shoes cut will be fully funded to completion - from sewing and all construction, which takes place in Africa, to finding ten toes to protect from jiggers. With just $10 a month, you can ensure a pair of feet have something to slip into, to run in, keeping them safe from burrowing jiggers.

There are lots of other ways to use your resources to assist them: donating common medical supplies, purchasing items from their Amazon Wish list, be a voice of hope by letting others know about what is going on, shopping their store and of course praying for them.  

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

I am not affiliated with Sole Hope or anything of the sorts. Just someone who believes God is using them to do his beautiful work. Praying you would seek a way to be of service to them, whatever it looks like for you. Praying you would do something.

Here's to being of service and spurring one another on.

cross country trust building.

tiffany garza3 Comments

The Allume conference has came and past. A whirlwind of take offs and landings, business cards and name badges, roommates and chocolates, speakers and an out pouring of encouragement.

When God calls you to the other side of the country, leaving your three children and traveling alone for the first time, it is quite an adventure and a constant reminder of his provision; Jehovah - Jireh. An entire exercise in trust, something God has been working on in me this year.

Trusting God to lead and for me to follow.

Trusting that whatever God had for me during this time, it would be just what he had planned.

Trusting that everything would be secure on the home front.

Trusting that I would make my flights and find the connections, despite my lack of direction and the playing of musical gates with the airlines as they decided which one was now best.

Trusting I would make it on the correct shuttle to the hotel and not on the one that stood waiting long before I was there.

Trusting my rotating roommates would be genuine and not on the creeper side.

And God came through. My husband rocked the home; complete with Chick-fil-a and night feedings. I made each flight, even though one was overbooked and my seat was TBD and I was the final person to board. The shuttle came on time, despite a delayed flight. My roommates were the sweetest women, more than I could have imagined. And peace lavishly covered each day and hour.

The speakers were authentic and held beautiful incites and truths but it was the conversations with women from across the US (and Canada) that sewed the conference together so eloquently, along with those on the planes and streets. The way God brought each one together at just the right moment. One Spirit lead conversation after another with threads only God could sew. Another reason to stand in awe and wonder at him. Life's trials and journey's exchanged; meeting one another as words formed pictures of days past, now redeemed and hemmed in hope and sent with encouragement. Seeing glimpses of the Masterpiece coming together this side of eternity.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways submit to him,    
    and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

This verse has been embedded in this year and a constant encouragement throughout the days for I could never understand it all.

Praying whatever you are holding in your hands that you would give it to the Lord. That you would trust he is working out everything for your good and know there is nothing you can do to slow it down or speed it up or work out. He is in control of even the smallest of things because he truly cares for you - his child. Praying your eyes would be opened to the areas where trust is lacking and that you would jump in with both feet covered in faith and radiating in his peace.

Here's to more trust and adventures. 

pocket blessings I popsicle quote signs

tiffany garza2 Comments

Happy October! Another month and Another craft. We are excited to make these fun, little signs. A few popsicle sticks, glue and stamps and you have a cute way to encourage someone.

Signs are a perfect way to label something. They tell you exactly what the contents are and what is expected to be inside. For some, comments and descriptions of others easily roll off the tongue. Peace maker. Encourager. Holy roller. Some you expect and still others you could never fathom. Words attached to you by someone without your approval. And sometimes it sticks. Other times it bounces.

You know, the woman with the gap between her teeth, who always seems to get lip stick on it.
And the other one, who is just a little too friendly and loves wearing pink shoes.
No, it's the one who always talks about her dog, has really frizzy hair and kind of chunky.

And the opinions of the Proverbs 31 Woman is always an interested topic.

She is the epitome of what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus.
She is not a real person.
How does she do it all? She does too much.

Commentaries and bible studies go on about it. About her. Her character and wisdom and family and work life all simplified in to twenty two verses, overflowing with goodness and purpose and drive and fear of the Lord. And how we can be like her. How you can be like her in your everyday life, doing your everyday tasks because face it, she is pretty fabulous and those labels would look great on you, too.

But you are you and in true Dr. Seuss fashion, there is no one YOUER than YOU. And you are pretty awesome, my friend, no matter how awesome someone else is.

So our hope with this craft is to dissolve the labels that others have given us, whether good or bad and will hold up ones that God has given each of us. Ones that encourage and ring truth to our souls. That allows each inhale to be our breath alone and for that to be sufficient.

Praying that you would focus on who God says you are and not what others have labeled you. Praying you would see the beauty in yourself and the way you were so carefully made.

Here is a simple picture tutorial. Let me know if you have any questions. I have been in to a neutral pallet lately and loving the simplicity but the sky is the limit to the design. I am quite sure glitter will make it to craft night, along with some paint to liven them up.

More info on Pocket Blessings here

Happy crafting!

pocket blessings: 2015 launch + september craft

tiffany garza
As we launch the 2015/ 2016 year for Pocket Blessings, I am super excited to introduce you to the newest crafting members coming alongside us with their inspiration and talents. They are super sweet and super crafty and it is a blessing to have on the team.

We have been busy meeting and planning and praying about what God has in store for this year and we are excited to be apart of his plan. And of course, to get our crafting on and meet new friends along the way. 

This month we are decorating glass baby food jars with fall paraphernalia. They are cute and small and just the perfect size to add a tea light to. We layered: fabric cut to fit, pretty metallic fake leaves, twine, ribbon, buttons and lots of hot glue to jazz up the jars.

They are also a great reminder of the simple truth: to be the light + to shine.

Shine because our light has come. Because Jesus came in to the world to show us the way in to his. And now we are called to reflect him. To stand for what he stood for. To live and love as he did.

Reflecting Jesus is different for everyone but looks the same in essence. Everyone has a different skill set and different influence but are called to do the same thing: be like him. 

Whether it is caring for patients at a hospital or teaching children in school or taking care of your own littles, love looks the same. To come along side and listen and serve and teach the truth.

Praying you would reflect Jesus as you go about your days and that you would be a constant source of encouragement and love to others, pointing them to Jesus. Praying you would truly shine. 

For more info about Pocket Blessings and how you can start your own, click here.

pride + sewing.

Tiffany Nicole3 Comments

The first thing I ever sewed was a hand print of mine in third grade. Each student carefully traced her hand in pencil on muslin fabric pulled tightly through an embroidery hoop, stuffed it full of cotton filler, and then sewed it closed. It was a Christmas present for our parents. It marked the beginning of my sewing adventures.

For a few years after that I thought it was a cheating to sew with a machine, so my cousin and I sewed clothes and blankets and pillows together by hand. Eventually, I caved and the new found speed made projects a breeze. And more years went by and I majored in apparel marketing and design with pride leading the way.

I had been sewing for so long in my own self taught way, that I did not care too much for learning new things and trying other techniques and improving upon my skill set. I blocked my own growth, all while paying for the classes.

In our faith journey, it can be similar. We know the routine and the answers and the rituals. But we lack the techniques and proper use of the application to apply teachings to our daily life.

We forego mastering button holes and lapped zippers and French seams in order to stay on the sidelines within our faith comfort zones. We do projects that do not stretch us.

We sit in church and miss the opportunities to grow our faith. Miss the opportunities to know God on an intimate level. We miss the glimpses of joy that comes from knowing God and following his leading in to the unknown. We miss the intricacy and details that make up the garment and that gives it its lure and luster. We miss the transformation to reflect Christ.

The bible is pretty self explanatory about pride. A few examples:

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. Proverbs 29:23

Pride prohibits growth and learning. It causes one to be so full of self that eventually something has to give. Marriage. Job. Finances. Being so focused on ourselves and how good we are, shuts our eyes to see others and destroys relationships and lives. It is the humble who admit they are wrong and can build from there, along with God's help.

Praying your eyes would be opened to the pride in your life, from the grandiose to the minute. Praying you would not think of yourself as higher than you are but would put others ahead and be willing to be last.

Praying that you would have wisdom to see the pride before the fall and would be caught up in mercy and humility instead. Praying you would grow in meekness in ways you have never known through uncharted territories and under explored truths.

Here's to less falls and more humility.