The Inspire Shop

savoring the year: the miracles in front of us {11/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

Has there ever been a time when you almost missed something extraordinary, caught up in your own anxiety or pain? How did you push yourself back into the present, out of your own head?

For Christmas, on a year with hardly a budget to spend, I splurged and bought Ricardo a new game he had been wanting. He had been busy between working full time and finishing up his BS and a superfluous amount of group projects and helping with the youth group and easing in to parenthood, I thought it would give him something to enjoy between semesters. It had been on an end cap at Target and in the giving mood, it made its way in to the cart and home with me.

I cannot recall exactly how it transpired anymore but my mom had also purchased the game, on a different platform and told me ahead of time. Knowing this, I wrapped the game up and tucked it under the tree with the intentions of letting him chose which would be the one he liked best and returning the other.

As the package was unwrapped and the title excitedly exposed, I let him know of the choice and he made it, deciding on the other platform, agreeing we would return the one I had purchased. My mom brought the game over later, as we exchanged a few gifts and hugs and cinnamon rolls, enjoying Penny's first Christmas.

And finally, Ricardo's family from out of state came by with presents and laughter and more exchanging of cinnamon rolls. Conversations went on and in talking with his brother both of the games were opened. I sat there in disbelief and frustration, as we agreed we would return one.

You said you wanted the other one. I reminded Ricardo. We were going to return that one.
His brother just looked at me, game in hand, unable to be returned.

I tried not to let it bother me. His brother had no idea what was going on, nor did my in laws but clearly the tension could be cut with a knife as the packaging plastic was unraveled from around the case.

My chest tightened and frustration set in as I regretted my whimsical decision to purchase the game. I could have let my mom exchange the one she had for the one he wanted if he decided on the other platform. He could have waited one more day to play it. Thoughts ran over in my head.

I hardly remember the rest of the visit, as I settled in to frustration over the situation, not wanting to give in to it but not knowing how to let go of the annoyance and money lost.

After my in laws left, we sat on the floor in Penny's room as she crawled around in the burgundy dress I had sewn for her that matched the bow headband I had crocheted for her to wear on her first Christmas. This was not how I had hoped or thought it would be celebrated.

Confrontation between us is not common and this one surfaced so quickly it caught me off guard, like a few years before when he accidentally threw our clothes away during our Weird California inspired road trip, mistaking them for garbage at our first campsite.

There on the floor, he apologized and reminded me of the my choice to be frustrated or to forgive and enjoy the rest of the day, in his usual calm and collected manor. Reminding me I had a choice to shut down and be angry or carpe diem and savor what was left. And so I tried my best to let it dissolve as we drove over to the Christmas celebration with his extended family, still a little mad but not letting it determine the remainder of the day.

I almost missed out on the joy of Penny's first Christmas because of a silly game and its monetary value. I almost missed out on the celebration of Jesus' birth and rare quality time with family because of one decision and miscommunication.

Perspective and people and listening have a way of getting us out of our own heads and of course God continuing to work in us. It also helps to have a husband who can see the bigger picture (most of the time) who can remind of better things. 

Here's to getting out of our own heads and past anxiety and pain.

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: warm + healing {10/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

The darker the season, the smaller the act required to bring healing. What are the small acts of connection and tenderness that you've experienced in this season?

Winter seemed to be longer this year. The end of the last and beginning of this year was covered in sickness and working on healing.

For a few intermittent weeks I was down and out; hardly eating or able to move and laying in bed while Ricardo took care of the children and house work; his new managers full of understanding and compassion, as he took a week off after changing positions at work. My mom graciously came over and took time off work, after caring for my grandma for a month, to wrangle the children and do my laundry and scrub the floors and make my kitchen sparkle, along with my step dad. My mother in law came and hung out with Penny and Jude and Ryland, and my aunt took another day.

 It was a reminder of the blessing of living in proximity to family and the continual process of letting go and allowing others help, while I rested and healed. 

They say it takes a village to raise a child and healing is like that, too.

It takes a village to heal. It takes people coming over to help do what we cannot, like fixing superfluous amounts of snacks for the children and make meals and fully watch to ensure no one floods the sink with bubbles and to encourage us to really get some rest and dig our feet in to the healing process because otherwise, we may throw in the towel and move on, only prolonging the healing all together. 

As I laid in bed one evening, as Ricardo finished reading bedtime stories and grabbed the mail, he placed a colorful envelope next to me. Familiar hand writing printed across the front and a beautiful message scrolled inside. My friend, Julie, is the craftiest person I know. She can make something beautiful out of practically nothing and is just as sweet as she is crafty and has a way of sending it packaged perfectly in an envelope, with just the right amount of encouragement. With the pretty card and pink and yellow banner of the word SHINE tucked inside next me, it was a much needed reminder to keep going and not get caught up in the down and out and all the help that was being freely given but to focus on the healing and to be grateful for what is to come.  

And thankful for the ability to let go and humble myself to accept help, even when I would have loved to do it myself. 

Here's to help and healing.

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's presence {9/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment
God is endlessly creative in how he shares his presence with each of us. And the specific way he chooses to connect with you matters. What is the tie that binds you to God?

Being open to hearing God binds me to him in many ways. He uses anything and everything to relay messages and reminders.

There is the ocean. I have a love for water and waves and warm sand in my toes. The sheer amazement at what lies beneath and that has been thought up and created at each glance of its vastness.

And there is my children. Having that similar context of God as the father and how he gently parents us, has changed the analogy and deepened the meaning of the name. The way he cares for me is far greater than that of me for my children. That never ceases to amaze and keep me centered in his unfailing love.

Over the past few years, it has been writing. This flow of words and inspiration and trust in him has forever changed my relationship with God, nearly asmuch as having children.

Writing has forced me to trust him more than I have and has made my analytical self a little less so, as I pick and choose the way I want it to sound, though interpretation of the words are taken at the experiences and background of the reader, something beyond my control.

Lack of tone or set pace of writing makes it a little harder to convey words. They may seem cold or hard to those who do not understand or sweet as honey to another. They are put in black and white and taken as they are. And it is funny how one simple thing like a word changes the meaning of so much.

Perhaps that is why I wrote in pencil for so many years. Ink stays but lead can be erased and edited and changed without messing up the page with evidence.

Writing in black and white keeps me focused and relying on God to do his thing. Writing keeps me in prayer and my thoughts grounded. It keeps me depending on God to inspire and be transparent.

Writing has been an adventure in obedience and stepping out of my usual comfort zone. It has been a constant reminder that I am not God and cannot understand how he works or the reasons behind how he works and that when I listen, he moves.

It has been texts and emails and conversations of how God used a message at just the right time. How it was something a friend needed to hear. And those are usually the hardest ones to share and that I would rather not. But He says to push the button and keep going and then is kind enough to see little fruits of the words and obedience of stepping forward.

It has been a series of coming alive and a fresh breath, along with feet scraping the ground with white knuckles as I learn to let go and trust him. It has been learning how to take time away from everything else to listen and relish in words and thoughts and scripture; just a few of my favorite things.  

Here's to ties and God. 

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: this tiny moment {8/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

Although we can't make everything okay, we can show up and show love in the middle of whatever's going on. How have the people in your life been there for you when you needed them? Is there anyone who's going through a difficult time that you need to reach out to?

My Aunt Karen is one of the sweetest, most genuine women. The kind who would truly give you the shirt off her back. She wears her heart on her sleeve and finds humor in just about anything. She is stern when she needs to be but knows how to have fun. Our shared Pacific Islander decent makes her that much more interesting, as some Pigeon slips in her speech from her years spent on the island, giving her a bit of an accent and conversations a sense of heritage and richness.

When my world crumbled and my parents parted ways as the divorce papers were signed, her doors were always open.

My younger sister, Carrie, and I found refuge in her home after school, hanging out with our cousins watching countless episodes of Maury. We spent more nights than I can calculate sleeping over while our address was to be established.

She had food on the stove or in the cupboard or in the fridge and it was almost a sin not to accept something, as she repeatedly told us to eat something. Fresh rice could be found on the counter to go along with practically every food group.

Then there was Kristina's. Her parents were about to embark on the same journey as mine, though neither of us knew as I spent a few nights sleeping awkwardly on her floor and eating her mom's chicken adobo.

There was also Josh's mom, Debbie. She was short in height but immense in hospitality and personality. She was not afraid to be herself and took us as the mess we were. After my aunt moved to South Carolina, she opened her doors to us. Always understanding and sharing stories of when she was younger. Stories with the use of the word harlot and giving us a semi description of the new to us word, which we added to our vocabulary. Josh stirred Kool Aid in the kitchen, as music videos played on the television in the living room. We hung out after school when it rained and during school breaks and at the park nearby.

And of course there was Senia's home. Always open to whomever wandered in, with room on the couch and food to sooth the soul. We shared lays potato chips topped with lemon juice and tapatio. We ate her dad's homemade refried beans and chile rellenos and rice.

The awareness of needing people was never in my mind at the time but people were always there, meeting needs I never knew existed and filling voids that needed filling, never trying to fix the problem or find a solution but simply being there. They were a landing spot and a place to go and a little anchor in the uncharted waters we were wading through. Sometimes when we need the help the most, we have no idea what we need and have no words to articulate the growing demands of our circumstances as we dance and twirl through them.

And then God places people, people who meet the needs before we have time to see them. People who have eyes to see it and hearts to carry out the love needed to gently guide us  towards shore, after our world bottoms out and there is nothing to fall back on or no normal for reference or rhythm to make. They can see it and they help as best as they know how. 

Here's to people and meeting needs. 

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: catching on {7/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

Catching on: have you ever been so caught up in a good cause that you lost sight of the people around you? Take a little time today to lay aside your agenda and listen for what God is asking you.

Since college, tasks can take a priority over people and being an introvert plays in to that. I thrive off solitude and creating, which can be beneficial or destructive in any given circumstance. I am a recovering Type A task oriented person and constantly ask God to open my eyes to those around me, to really see. Especially to see my children. Those closest in proximity and heart.

Taking care of small children can be draining and exhausting and transitions, even the smallest things like upgrading from crib to toddler bed can feel like moving mountains.

Towards the end of summer and beginning of fall Jude, just over eighteen months, decided it was time to make that switch. It was time to get a big boy bed, like his sister's. After climbing out of his crib and refusing to sleep, though he was tired, so unlike himself, it was time to give in. 

My friend, knowing of our predicament, tagged me in a post on a Facebook children's site that was selling an identical bed to my daughter's. Perfect timing. 

We purchased the bed and the sweet lady even threw in a brand new Cinderella dress up dress, which my daughter had just been praying and asking God for a few days before.

The weeks that followed were hard. My son refused to stay in his bed and was tired and crying and I was starting to mirror him, while caring for an infant and active four year old. I was praying Galatians 6:9 regularly: let us not grow weary of doing good, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest and looking for the good because life was good, just harder.  

Early October found me sitting in a prayer room, while a new friend prayed for me and the Holy Spirit reminded me to see my children. To see truly see them. To see their eyes and their needs and their wants. To see their hears. To see past the outbursts and tasks at hand and look at them how He does.

He reminded me that as I delight in my children, he also delights in me. He sees me. He sees them. And it was this beautiful reminder of opening my eyes to my children, not their requests for more snacks or putting them back to bed for the hundredth time but to see them for who they are now and not what they are doing, whether positive or negative. Simply, to love them as they are.

And with that, he gave me new eyes to see each one. Each perfectly formed person, bubbling with personality and laughter and love and a little crazy.

There is a fine line between caring for the tasks of children and putting out fires and enjoying the entirety of mamahood. It is that line that can make it easy to miss out on truly seeing them or hearing their hearts, especially during transitions, which seem to be the only constant. And it just may be, that people the closest are the hardest to truly see, until we stand back and take a breath to focus and ask God to give us a fresh look.

Here's to new sight for the people around 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: clean, cool water {6/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

So many people around the world lack a source of clean water altogether and are vulnerable to water - borne illnesses. How could you help with this global need?

Water has always been my favorite beverage of choice. Water bottles have always found a space in my backpack and purse and empty water bottles scattered the floor of my car during the busyness  of college and work. The taste of different brands of water is evident, not all water tastes the same and when it is constantly consumed, it is easy to tell the difference. My taste buds favor Crystal Geyser, its red and blue label occasionally peaking out of my bag these days.

California has been in a drought for several years now and water has been a hot topic.

Signs along the freeway boasting: Conserve Water and buses around town covered with information on which days we can water our lawns. How to cut back on water use and not washing cars at home are new city marketing campaigns. Water. It is the source of life.

In January, we received an alert from the city stating our water could be contaminated with bacteria and a boiling alert was advised but not mandatory. Other articles came out to say that local water levels have been below par and have been experimented with for a few years.

After Christmas I came down with a virus and was sicker than I have ever been and would have done natural child labor for a third time, if given the option. After a few trips to Urgent Care and the ER, nothing was clearly determined other than it was a virus. A virus that mostly went away after a week and then came back, though thankfully not in full force, to which my doctor concluded was a stomach infection and sent me home with some strong antibiotics that eventually defeated whatever it was.
I have no idea whether it was something in the water. But it opened me up to the logistics of not having clean water and what those repercussions could entail.

I never have had to boil water for safe drinking but we did, for just bit until we made to the store where there was only a few gallons left of water on the shelf to purchase. We pulled our big pots and pans out of the cupboard, filling each one with water and waiting for them to reach a boil and setting the timer for three minutes because according to the alert, three minutes will kill possible bacteria and then realizing just how long it takes for water to cool to room temperature.

And naturally thoughts starting steeping. Was it safe to brush our teeth with this water? Or rinse off our vegetables? Or wash our dishes?

I am not in to living life based on fear but with towns like Flint, Michigan and their water issues  here in America, where plumbing and faucets are the norm, it could happen anywhere.

Around my birthday, I came across Life Water, an organization that helps provide clean water for those without access to it, which I ever so slightly know the feeling of now and thought it would be fun to support due to my constant love of water.

They have awesome ways to donate, like inviting family and friends to help give others water in lieu of giving presents, so I made a little campaign and a few gave water to others. If you have a minute, check out this video and see how you can be involved in providing the gift of water.

Here's to clean and healthy water. 

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 respect for my body {5/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

How to do you feel about your body? Do you feel connected to it? Do you feel respect for it? How do you nurture it? How do you challenge it?

The curves and ups and downs of the cursive letter F has always bothered me. With two in my name, they were constantly nemeses to write in my younger years. The awkwardness of two directly next to each other made writing them torture. I never liked the dips or the way the top seemed lopsided and the bottom too heavy. No uniform could be found between the lines, unbalanced and messy. And its connotation with negative performance did not help it much.

As I scrawled words across the page recently and found myself making the familiar loops, forming an F with grace, I was surprised to find myself admiring its structure and shape. They fit in perfectly next to the other letters, their loops adding to the cohesiveness and beauty of the word's entirety.

Perhaps it is due to over two decades of experience with lines and doodles and scratches hitting the page or simply a change in perspective. Fresh eyes have a way of changing the surface unlike any other.

Fresh eyes come in many sizes and varieties and circumstances we cannot always control, surprising us along the way.

Respect for my body has been the same process. The wrong curves in the seemingly wrong places were in the forefront of my mind during adolescence and nothing could figure itself out. Awkward and unbalanced and messy and insecure described it so well.

My body has been sweeter to me than me to it. I have always been rough and hard on it. Demanding more from it than nurturing it, not intending to but rather expecting that is what it does. 

Diets of Cheez it's and Jack in the box tacos in high school and Crystal Light packets and more Cheez it's in college, along with Doritos and ice cream. It was for me to use, not something to treasure. 

A passionate nutrition teacher at the end of college and birthing two babies has changed my perspective and given me new eyes for my body, along with lots of prayers.

As the scale raced high in number than I had ever seen with each monthly pregnancy appointment, insecurity started settling in. And the thoughts of what would become after. The stretch marks. The post baby weight. The possibility of the skin shrinking back to its original state.

All the while my body was growing a new life, I hardly gave it the credit it deserved. The things it knew to do that I could not even imagine or completely understand. It performed perfectly. Twice. Graciously without stretch marks or extra skin after.

After much prayer and listening to God, genuine appreciation and gratitude has set in deeply. 

Thankful for ears to hear and eyes that see. For the freckles and each functioning limb, able to run and hug my children and chase them around the back yard. For the blonde hair I covered for years and the fingers that type the words out as they come to fruition.

And these days, I am a lot nicer to by body. Intentionally feeding it more wholesome food and salads when I can remember. But some days, I forget and God gently reminds me of the gift that my body is. How he does not make mistakes and how we are all knit together perfectly and made in his image. And how his love is not based on looks or performance but simply because he made us and we are his.

Here's to our body and being nicer to it. 

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 + talking {4/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

Have you ever run a marathon, or fulfilled some other physical goal that pushed you beyond what you had thought you could do? What did you learn from that process?

I have hardly set physical goals for myself that I can recall. I move when I need to and run when I can. Usually a mile or two in after morning devotions and before breakfast on good days.

The majority of my physical exercise comes in the form of chasing children around the house and parks and stores. With a backpack full of water and snacks for three and wearing an 18lb child, the work out comes naturally.

In elementary school, I once did a six minute mile. Not by choice or determination, rather by chance. I starting running our weekly mile with a different friend that day because my usual running partner was home sick. She was the fastest girl in class and a soccer player, not something I had taken in to consideration at the starting point. 

Running was not something I excelled in or cared much for at the time but as we started running I found myself keeping up. My lungs breathing heavy and my feet moving fast. The rest of the class followed behind, my breath lost back with them somewhere. We arrived back the starting point with our time given out. I had never been that fast and my body told me so, as I walked a little light headed and dizzy to the drinking fountain, recovering slowly.

Exercise became a means to deal with stress in junior high and high school. I never minded the running in class and would do laps around my neighborhood, processing life as my feet moved one in front of the other.

Pushups and sit ups worked their way in to a nightly routine, too. Though I hardly recall how.

Running and exercise and life can be determined by speed and accomplishments. How many marathons we have taken part in or races finished or the place earned. It can be by where we graduated from or who we married or how many children we have.

Life can be tied up in keeping up with everyone else's pace. A pace not marked out for us, nor one that will resemble the likeness of how we were created and will leave us feeling heavy and lacking oxygen.

Life is best enjoyed with others surrounding and encouraging the running and goals and God adventures. Life is best enjoyed at our own paces and meeting when our paths cross, not increasing speed to collide.

But when it happens that the feet hit the pavement harder and quicker than they should, here's to walking. To slowing down and enjoying the view and others along 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: someday {3/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

"Someday can be a seductive word. It carries intent and promise, that certain things will eventually be part of our lives. But it also lets us off the hook. Is there anything in your life that's living in the distant could of "someday"? What's keeping you from moving and working toward it now?

When you are living out your somedays it is hard to ponder what else could be. While sweeping the floor one evening a few weeks ago, this realization came to me yet again. Everything I have ever wanted is before me, in my hand.  

In junior high English, we had to write a letter to our future self. The self that was graduating and moving beyond public education. It was a letter stating the hopes and dreams of our junior high self. What we thought life would look like at the time we dawned our green and white graduation caps and tassels and what it currently looked like as we scrolled the letters across the page, sitting in our brown desks.

I never ended up receiving my letter after graduation, perhaps all the moving and lack of address made it difficult to find its way to my doorstep. But my somedays were pretty generic and easy to recall.

Someday after high school I would go to college, majoring in teaching and minoring in writing. Someday I would get married and someday we would have children. Someday we would probably buy a house. And in doing those things, life would be filled and the happily ever after must be the result.

I went to college, though majoring in Apparel Marketing and Design as my creative side got the best of me and married one semester before graduation. Three children now share our last name and snuggles and laughs and a cozy rental home. It is not exactly what my twelve year old self had painted but the frame work is pretty close, and close enough in terms of horse shoes and hand grenades, as my dad reminded me while growing up.

Nothing is how I had pictured it would unfold in the day to day or perhaps I never was that detailed with the somedays. Nothing is perfect or without its challenges. Melt downs and tantrums and spilled milk and messes of any sort make up our everyday, along with endless lap sitting with books in hand and  swinging and piggy back rides and diaper changes.

But the frame work is solid. It is there and it is there that gratefulness has cultivated itself against the hard sheet rock of the daily duties and struggles to find the joy and fully embracing life.

And sometimes it can be a little eerie and I find myself asking what else? Is there something more?

And it is there that God throws in the surprises and reveals new mysteries and challenges and the unfolding of his plans. It is there that thankful hearts overflow for the framework, though in different shades and tones than could ever be imagined, and a constant reminder of his grace and love is renewed. And all of it is nothing short of a miracle.

Here's to somedays. 


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: people can change {2/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

Is there anything that inexplicably makes you cry? What small step could you take toward meeting a personal goal today?
Crying and the whole waterworks of sorts are not regulars for me. These days crying does not bother me but queuing the tears tends to take a lot. Perhaps it is my steady nature or reluctance or the fact I have never been a very emotional but they do not come easy, with some exceptions.

That said, foster care and adoption have tugged at my heart strings over the past several years. Leaving me weeping over my computer and my Bible and in the middle of church services. Being a mom and thinking about all the children who are without one tugs like nothing else can. And I am grateful for the parents who step up to tuck them in to bed and wipe their noses and give them hugs and work through all the baggage and fears that life has imposed on them. But my heart still breaks for their parents, for the loss of their children and for choices. A constant prayer for redemption and love to abound.

Lately, there is been another stirring and wetting of the eyes.

As my children and I tucked ourselves in to the couch, the children's Bible in the middle and my arms brimming and filled with their little bodies, the story of the Good Samaritan crossed the page. One more, one more, they pleaded. So we read.

The priest saw the need and over looked it.

The Levite looked but kept going about his business.

And the Samaritan, the one considered less than and not enough, he saw and took action. He came and helped and met the needs of a stranger he had only just met.

The tears started brimming with each passing page. I had read this story countless times. Treat others how you want to be treated. People are important. Stop for people. See the need and help where you can.

The usual lessons from them fresh in my mind.

But on this morning God reminded me his people, of women who are caught up in trafficking and prostitution and the in-between. These sweet children of his, whom he has been tugging at my heart to help. These are the people I am seeing. Though my eyes have not met theirs or seen the depths of their wounds, my heart has been breaking for them, too. Some of these women were in foster care, and have ended up on the streets. High statistics like 60% of women who were in the system end up in trafficking and the like.

It is with opened eyes and opened hearts that we are called to help. To be the Good Samaritan.

God has been leading us, ever so out of right field, to start a creative business that supports women coming out of trafficking and sharing the love of Jesus with them. We are still praying and working on what this will look like and we would love your prayers, too.

Here's to things that make you cry and meeting goals. 


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: wedding present {1/365}

Tiffany NicoleComment

Whether you're headed to your own wedding or to a neighborhood BBQ, coffee with a friend. or dinner with your family, the most important thing to bring is a present heart. (Savor by Shauna Niequist)

When Penny turned two, we requested no presents from her party goers, unless they would like to donate to a local children's home. The invitation noting that their presence was the best present; a statement a friend had included on an invite a few years before that really spoke to me.

We were thankful for the superfluous amount of love and presents she received for her first party the year before but it was the people who made it and we wanted to focus on this as her second year cultivated.

It was the friends, new and old coming to celebrate our first year of parenthood and her birthday. It was the memory of the wind threatening to blow the entire party away, complete with the cupcakes and pop up shade. It was family driving nearly two hours just to be there, one of them being my grandma who rarely can make the drive these days. It was her laughter and excitement as Penny opened her gifts and played with the boxes. It was her full presence and laughter and joy bursting forth that made the day extra special.

It was my in laws flying in from out of state just to celebrate. It was their help with all the transporting of decorations and food from our small apartment to the park in hopes that the cupcakes would not fall and that the sandwiches would stay together and that the food would arrive in the same condition we had packaged them.

It was the time Senia spent making and decorating the pink heart cookie favors. In true Senia fashion, she had stayed up past midnight to finish them, as she had been working. Her art abilities have beautifully overflowed in to her baking and she arrived at the party with the prettiest heart cookies, full of detail, which we packaged right there, my mother in law helping to fill the bags.

Being present is showing up. It is support and listening and the physical body just being. It is clearing our mind to truly hear hearts and taking them for what they are. It is showing up with no other agenda than to be there.

With so many variables pulling in different directions, being fully present is truly a gift, far beyond anything we can give. When our last breath inhales, it is not the things that people will miss but the person who passed. Some trinkets and such may last as reminders but it is the memories of time and presence spent together that span the divide and fill our hearts until we meet again.

Here's to being fully present.


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: 365 days of reflections + thoughts {launch}

Tiffany Nicole2 Comments

My husband introduced me to Shauna Niequist several years ago. He had come across Cold Tangerines as a recommendation from several friends and wanted to see what all the raving was about it. We checked it out from the library because that is how our usual reading material goes and started reading it together. And surprising myself, I loved it.

Her writing style instantly became one of my  favorites. Her use of life and learning and description and word choice were perfect and for that, the reading was quite simply delightful. Like the walking in the clouds kind of delightful - that sparks memories and inspires. 

After reading it, we moved on to other books and studies and never looked for any other pieces by her.

Until April.

On our two and a half hour, childless drive to Redding in celebration of my birthday, we searched for a book to listen to and stumbled over her other books. We chose Bittersweet and listened, as miles ticked by and blue skies met the mountains, leaving the valley behind.

And I remembered just how much I loved the way she birthed stories out of her words and breathed life and redemption in to the hard seasons for all to hear.

I searched our local library for other works and came across her devotional, Savor, which takes parts of her books and turns them in to snippets to ponder and think on, along with a question or two. One devotional for each day of the year.

So, loving her rhythm of life that is stitched in to each page, I thought it would be fun and a bit crazy, to blog through Savor. Sharing a post (hopefully) daily, with grace days laced in between I'm sure, that corresponds to each day of the devotional, answering her prompts and questions.

I told the idea to Ricardo, to which he immediately checked Amazon for the devotional because the library only lends a book for so long and it just happened to be half off. It arrived in the mail as an early mother's day present and my biggest writing challenge. I have struggled with writing consistently and have a tendency to get clammy hands and for my mind to go blank when given a prompt, so it is a stretch.

I sat with the book the following morning next to my bible, questioning if I should try this. It is a big commitment to write every day and to share it openly. Possibly a little more than I can chew. But it sat there. Already purchased. A commitment in itself. After more prayer and over analyzing the whole thing, God urged me forward. He would provide the words, just as he provides for the birds of the air.

I cannot clearly see what this will look like, as the questions are scattered with life and God and all the things in between and I have not read them all because that would be cheating (right?!), so here's an adventure in writing through Savor. It will probably be messy and random and hopefully laced with smiles and laughter and honesty, from my heart to yours.

So, starting June 1st, the adventure will commence. 

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.

Here's to savoring the year.