Don’t be discouraged today. Yes, you’re aware of your weaknesses and failures, but for each of them there’s forgiving, transforming grace.
— New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp

I have noticed a couple of things since sugar has come back into my life.  It has robbed me of my glow.  I looked at an image from this weekend of a little nature walk we went on and all I could see was a very flat version of myself.  My glow was gone, even my lips lacked color and my eyes were indeed very dull.  It's really hard planning and eating colorful foods that feed my temple in an honoring way.  Last year I lost 26 pounds.  That's a big deal.  I was feeling so good, so much energy.  It had all positive affects.  It was hard though, it took a lot of work and dedication and of course preparation.  I got lazy.  I lost my drive.  Sugar was and is a big part of that downfall. It's like my weakness, my kryptonite if you will.   I have not drowned yet.  I'm still staying somewhat afloat but I have gained 7 of those 26 pounds back.  If I relax too much and stop swimming I will for sure sink to the bottom and feel as if the swim to the top will be too long and hard and I may decide it's not worth it.  I don't want to make that choice so I meet you here today.  It's like a pep talk to myself but also anyone else who may need it. 

I opened my devotion book today and when I read the first few words, I was like "God, you are so cool!"  Here you are meeting me here in my defeat! I always say I can't do it alone.  He is my biggest strength in everything I do.  He is my strength and my friends and family are the encouragement He gives me. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9

This morning I was thinking about a few different plans of attack.  I thought I could begin by jotting down the good things I do for my body, mind and soul in a day.  Because I normally focus on what I fail in.  Actually I will obsess about how I didn't succeed, then I sort of beat myself up about it.  I'm not very gracious with myself.  Rather than focus on the things I may have failed in.  I will write down the good things and give the glory to God for helping me to accomplish the good things.  It can be as simple as brushing my teeth:)   

What did you do today that was good?  Don't think about  the soda you drank.  Think about the water you drank.  Don't think about how you failed to floss today, instead get excited that you brushed your teeth.  Below is my attempt of the 10 good things I did that were fulfilling today and healthy, mind, body or spirit. 

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Hello Spring

hello, sun in my face. hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields...watch, now, how i start the day in happiness and kindness.
— mary oliver

Last weekend I planted some cat grass for our cats.  It sits right by the window that NYLA and Garfunkel like to sit in.  7 days ago when I planted the grass it was just a planter box filled with dirt and buried seeds.  It quickly began to break its way through the soil and became this fresh kitty grass.  I had a nice conversation this week with a creative friend of mine.  We have had quite a few projects together in the past.  We both have found that with accountability and encouragement from one another we are far more likely to succeed in our creative ideas.  We have decided that....yes.....that we will do our best to pick up our big girl cameras every single week and post a picture on Sunday.  Now this week (cough, cough) I managed to take pictures of this grass growing.  Which was not my exact vision of my first post for our new project.  However I did pick up my camera and I did take a few pictures.  I'm really very excited to see what Christina has posted, you can click on her blog HERE - 22 LIMES to find out.  I have not clicked on it myself as of yet.  It's like Christmas though, I'm super excited to see what she did this week.   Our conversation was on Thursday I believe, so keep in mind neither of us had a full week to shoot.  I find it rather perfect though being spring has recently sprung that I should share a picture of new growth.  I have to remind myself often that it's not about perfection, it's about grace.  

just keep swimming

just keep swimming

It's funny though because we both talked about how our focus with our 50mm's is not exactly as crisp as we would like to see it.  I question if it's actually my vision.  It was an affordable lens that was highly recommended.  I shoot a Canon and she shoots Nikon so keep in mind although we are both using a prime lens they are different and we are both having the same struggles.  Either I need glasses or I need to just keep practicing and this project will be good practice. 

Lastly, we need a name for this project.  I have no clue as of today what the name might be.  She seems to have a witty mind for that sort of thing.   Any ideas out there?  The project only has these requirements.  We use our DSLR's and we post each Sunday.  We don't even have a theme, it's basically whatever might strike us each week. 



Inspired today by Man Ray

Of course, there will always be those who look at technique, who ask “how”, while others of a more curious nature will ask “why” Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.
— Man Ray

It's been such a while since we have spent time in our mother daughter project but this weekend we had some time and inspiration.  The inspiration came from artist Man Ray.  While he was a painter he is most known for his portrait photography.  I love Pinterest for inspiration because honestly even when I might think I'm coming up with my own ideas, they have already been played out by another.  It's just the way things seem to be.  So why not take an old photograph by someone I really like and use the mother and daughter as models.  Mother takes picture of daughter and daughter takes picture of mother.  The image of daughter by mother is taken with Canon 70D, the picture of mother by daughter is taken with iPhone 6Plus.

Our inspiration is from a photograph called Woman with Long Hair, the date is 1929.  I'm not sure if I'm allowed to share but if not I'm sure someone will let me know. I found my image and copied it from Pinterest.  See below inspiration piece. 

Woman with Long Hair - By  Man Ray 1929

Woman with Long Hair - By  Man Ray 1929

Below is the image of my daughter.  I asked her to open her eyes because I think she has the most beautiful eyes and it's what I wanted to see in my image.   Taken with Canon 70D ISO 200 F 4.5 the light from her bedroom window which  faces the West.  I edited photo with app TinType. She thinks it looks creepy, I think it looks dreamy!  


Below is the image of me, taken by my daughter with my iPhone.  Edited with the app TinType and we went with eyes closed for me,  she did my hair in braids and then we took them out just before the shot so my hair would be wavy.  I love how she didn't want the dark red lipstick and didn't want the crinkled hair.  She wanted to stay as close to her natural look as possible.  I love that about her.  It's not always that way.  Sometimes she is up for a more modified look but today she wasn't and I always try to respect how she is feeling in the moment. 


Below is us together after the photo shoot.  We just laid on the floor and  with the help of the good old selfie stick, we took this blurry image. :)  These were taken today March 18, 2018.  She is 16 on this day and I'm 47.  


I'm grateful she is game for my "projects"  If you are reading this, thank you!  




It's already February!! What's new with you?

Welp looks like I let all of January (blink)  go by without a single blog post! I just want to share some thoughts and ideas and accomplishments with anyone who wants to read about it. 

When January arrived I was excited about my word for the year.  STRETCH.  I picked it for obvious reasons, I'm trying to be more consistent with a yoga practice and I figure this would literally STRETCH me.  It's more than that though but not quite sure if I'm ready to talk about it just yet. Did you choose a word for 2018?


In order for me to help this word along and have more yoga in my life I joined another yoga challenge in January, it was different than the December pose a day challenge, this was Yoga with Adriene, on YOUTUBE and she had a 30 day TRUE challenge that I decided to participate in. I actually finished all 30 days and was so proud of myself for sticking to it.  It was far easier to stick to it though because a nice community of friends joined me in my challenge and we were able to encourage one another to keep on swimming so to speak.  I believe visiting the mat each day on top of attending our local in live person weekly holy yoga class got me yearning for more. 

Now it's already February and I have joined yet another challenge presented to me by Adriene once again, this month she calls it LOVE YO' SELF.  and although it's not an entirely brand new series of videos, they are new to me!  She has a calendar for me to follow that gives suggestions of her videos to visit daily.  I'm 5 days into February and 5 days strong with my practice.  

That's just the yoga life, which apparently has taken a life of it's own because I'm not even blogging much any more and a few other things have been sort of set aside for the time being. 

Let's reflect on 2017 for a moment.  I want you to think of what good things happened in 2017, I know some of us have had really terrible things come up in 2017.  I know some of us have endured great loss in 2017 but I want to think about what good things occurred.  What made you stronger?  What made you thankful?  What did you accomplish? I'm trying hard to think differently because if I'm being honest I would tell you what I didn't do, what I failed at, what I lost.  I might spend too much time beating myself up about not accomplishing certain goals but instead I'm going to list some good things that happened in 2017.

I got new reading glasses

My 3rd Essay "Mother Daughter" piece was published in Winter Issue No. 10 of Bella Grace

Grandma gave me grandpa's gold coin

Rich and I went on a weekend get-a-way and I finally got to sleep over in a airstream trailer

I simplified my closet and have kept it up

I started using a lunette, less waste and very liberating

I met Maritza who taught me lots of new things about healthy lifestyle

Rich and I spent our anniversary weekend in Laguna Beach

Austin moved back home

Dylan graduated high school

I read Harry Potter books 1-5

Abbie and I got Disneyland passes

We painted our orange room gray

we got a new kitten

I got my clean bill of health with all my well woman checks

I learned to do a headstand with the help of the wall

We got our block wall built

I have kept off 25 pounds

Those are just a few of the good things that went down in 2017.  Below is a quick video of 2017 from my collect calendar which helps me to remember the good things in each year.  It's a 3 minute video.   It's private on my vimeo account the password is always...all caps LOVE










Raising a girl into a strong woman

hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny
— C.S. Lewis
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How do I explain to our one and only daughter that the teenaged trials in life are part of what will shape her as a grown up.  I can share the story with her how when I was in high school the summer before my sophomore year I went away to a tall flag camp. 

Since I was part of the tall flags team we had an opportunity to go away to a camp to learn new skills and compete with other schools. I went to camp with a friend of mine who I grew up with.  We had some serious history the two of us.  We were suppose to room together.  That was the plan.  However if you can believe it, there was actually a cool, cute way hipper girl who was at the same camp, a grade ahead of us who my friend decided would be way more awesome to room with.  It broke my heart.  I didn’t understand.  Why wouldn’t she want to room with her buddy she had for all these years?  I was lucky though because a few of the girls on our team took me under their wing and invited me to room with them.  The entire weekend my long time friend was kind of rude to me, she wouldn’t talk to me, she didn’t really interact with me.  She even did a few intentional mean things to me.  It was torture.  I was so heart broken.  I called home one night while we were in the cafeteria, we didn’t have cell phones or social media.  My goodness had we, it could have been far worse.   I called my mom on the pay phone in tears.  I begged her to drive up and come get me.  I couldn’t stay here a minute longer.  

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My mom didn’t come.  She told me I could do it.  She told me I was strong and that I would get through this.  She had faith in me.  She wasn’t the kind of mom to swoop in and rescue me from a tough spot.  She was a mom who taught me how to rise in times of adversity.  She taught me how to be strong.  Because things were not always easy and I had endured a few more events far worse than this high school story, it shaped me into the empathetic human being I am today, it showed me that grace is far more important than being rigid and “right.” It gave me insight to others who may have struggled with the bullies in their lives too.  I have forgiveness in my heart.  This gal who wouldn’t room with me turned out to be a really great human being herself.  She was sorry for the stuff she put me through in high school.  I wholeheartedly accepted her apologies and we are the best of friends even to this day.  

I want to teach my daughter the same lessons my wise mom taught me.  My mom never called my friends mom to give her a piece of her mind (although she kind of wanted to)  She instead just loved me, loved my friend and stayed out of our business. She had faith in me that I would figure it all out.  I did.  I always figured it out. We always patched things up and learned lessons from our mistakes.

I take these lessons with me today as we believe in our daughter,  show her support, love her deeply, encourage her strengths,  listen to her concerns, give her advice when she asks for it.  She can rise above.  We pray for her loads, we pray with her in times of tears,  we hold her, we hug her and we tell her how much she is loved. I don’t know if what we are doing is “right” we are just doing our best.  We also have two boys who are now men, high school was much different for the boys, we handled them differently because I have also realized each child has their own unique circumstances that should be dealt with accordingly.  Each child has their own story. 

I truly see such strength in this young woman.  I tell her she is strong in body, mind and spirit.  I need to show her through example that I too am strong, body, mind and spirt.  I can show her how my faith helps me through the rough times. I’m her best example of how to be a Godly women in today’s times.  Today’s times sure are different though with social media and texting and things I never had to experience.   So I use social media to send her, snaps and I text her quotes like this one; 

“hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”  C.S. Lewis.  

I send her prayers like this one 

“Heavenly Father, help me to raise my eyes above my circumstances and focus on You.  Today I’m facing a battle, but thank You for overcoming this world through Jesus Christ.    John 16:33 

I remind her that she has God on her side, Romans 8:31

I remind her how we can only control ourselves and not the people around us and even with reminders her behavior isn’t exactly perfect but she for sure is 100% human, I’ve seen that side too.  And so we solider on.  We always solider on and learn from from this life and most especially in the rough spots. 


and most importantly.....WE NEVER GIVE UP because great things happen through our failures and persistance. She has already shown me this.   

Loving Who You Are, Where You Are

I’m so happy to be a part of Grace Notes Blog Hop!  Today I’m going to talk about loving who you are, where you are and I think this topic goes nicely with the awesome give-a-way that you will have an opportunity to win if you leave a comment below telling me how you embrace who you are, exactly where you are. I will choose a winner out of a hat and one lucky person will win a copy of   Field Guide to Everyday Magic.  It’s a beautiful book published by the makers of Bella Grace. It's perfectly sized so that you can carry it with you everywhere you go, fits nicely in your bag and can be pulled out any time you want to feel inspired. I can hardly wait!  I’m so excited for someone to win this beautiful book. I will also include a little something special to go along with the package.  

Please comment by September 7th for a chance to win a free copy of Field Guide to Everyday Magic.  Contest is open to U.S. residents.  International participants are eligible to receive a free digital edition of Bella Grace.  

I choose this topic because I know it’s relatable.  I know it’s something I have struggled with and I know not a single one of us has a life like the other.  Nobody knows what it’s like to be me, to live in my skin in my exact circumstances, just as I will never know how it is for you to live your life exactly where you are, in your skin and with your exact circumstances.  I’m not to discount any of your worries, anxieties or to think my worries are worse or your worries are worse.  My loss is bigger or your loss is bigger.  It’s all relative.  I do think we can agree though that sometimes we might struggle loving who we are, where we are. I want to share three practices that help me. If we don’t have tools we can’t fix what is broken.  


What I have found to work for me are these three things;  Gratitude, giving and and my faith.  My faith keeps me grounded and gives me hope every day.  These three things help me to love exactly who I am, where I stand, even if it sitting in my mom soccer sweatshirt on the kitchen floor. For example, when I go on a walk and my direct surroundings are dirty sidewalks, lacking nature I can focus on the trash or I can find the treasures.  Finding the treasures beats focusing on the trash any day. I can pick up a tiny pinecone and a broken piece of glass and find the beauty in them.  I can appreciate how ruffly the pinecone is made by our Creator, I can also appreciate the sharp round man made glass and see the beauty in each of them.  I can dwell on the traffic noise or I can focus on the suburban birds who balance on the high wires singing their morning praises.  It’s all a choice. I can choose to give out a smile or I can choose to look the other way.  I have experienced both and a returned smile not only makes me smile bigger it reaches into my heart and gives me a feeling of connection and instant joy.  


This isn’t easy.  It doesn’t come natural.  I believe with practice it starts to feel more natural but it takes practice.  It really does.  I have felt bitterness, I have focused on negative things.  I know this makes me feel heavy.  I know this makes my heart sad.  Knowing and doing, that’s the hard part.  I try and practice lots but this isn’t to say life’s surprises don’t throw me into a tailspin at times but these three practices pull me back, gratitude, giving and my faith.  


I can’t stop thinking about the mom who lost her baby,  the woman who battles each day fighting cancer.  The teenaged girl who hates her body or the friend who recently lost her mother.   How do they find their peace, their joy and how do they love who they are where they are?  It’s a choice for them too as difficult a hand they were dealt.  Life will continue to throw us these crazy curve balls, it will never stop.  I believe it’s to teach us empathy, to make us stronger so we can then help others.  There is always a purpose and since we only get one chance, shouldn’t it be our choice to find the beauty in the mess? I promise, there is always beauty around us and there is always an opportunity to give.  


Mrs. Ostgaard taught me something new today

It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man’s mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just be something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.
— Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows

Today I had the honor and privilege to attend a beautiful memorial for a teacher who taught not just one of our boys but both of them.

It’s been 11 years since Austin had Mrs. Ostgaard for his 5th grade teacher and it’s been 7 years since Dylan had her for his 5th and final year of elementary school.  She didn’t have cancer with Austin and by the time it was Dylan’s turn, she had been diagnosed and like the warrior she was, she had beat it and was in remission.  Do you know how glad I was that my second born son would have the privilege to have her as his teacher too?  I’m a little bit shy in general so I never really had the courage to express my gratitude in person to Mrs. Ostgaard and when my mother-n-law stopped by one morning a couple of weeks ago to tell me that Mrs. Ostgaard was on hospice, we prayed together for Mrs. O and yes, the tears rolled down my cheeks.  “Why Mrs. Ostgaard, why?” We talked about writing her a letter so she would be able to know the impact she had on our lives, on our kids lives but little did we know at the time, she was already gone.  She went to be with the Lord on Mothers Day.  Even though I didn’t have the opportunity to write her a letter when she was still here on earth, I can do it now.  

Dear Mrs. Ostgaard, 

I first want to tell you that when my boys were in elementary school I was the kind of mom who prayed to God that He would give my kids the exact teacher they needed.   I was never the kind of mom to go to the principal and try and get the teacher I thought would be good for my kids.  I trusted that who they received would be exactly who they needed.  Little did I know that when Austin my first born got you for his 5th grade teacher that you would impact his life from that year on.  You see that particular year you had a couple of kids with the name Austin.  You naturally decided to give my Austin a nick name and you called him “Ace”  I’m pretty sure you knew exactly what you were doing too because my son had low self esteem.  He was very bright and could talk to just about any adult but he didn’t exactly mesh well with the majority of kids his same age,  he wasn’t the most coordinated and he was a little chunky and kids kind of made fun of him but when you gave him that name, it changed so many things.  He held his head a little higher and it made him feel special.  You gave him value and not just you but the other kids began to pick up on it and even the roughest kid at school went on to call him Ace in middle school and was always very kind to the little outsider. 

I remember Ace’s year was my first experience with your tradition of apple pie.  Yes, I couldn’t believe you were going to teach all of 5th grade how to bake a homemade from scratch apple pie!

When you told me you would be reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” to your class.  I was so excited to know you would be reading that book to the kids because it was my grandpa’s most favorite book and he had passed before Ace was born.  I remember asking you, “How do you read that book to your kids without crying at the end?”  and you simply said, “I do cry, every single time, I cry!”  That’s when I really knew you were the real deal.  

I still have the paper mache bowl that you taught Ace to make and submit to the fair. I’m super sentimental. It holds my colored pens.  

 Four years later my second born son got you for his 5th grade teacher and I was so happy, I wanted Dylan to be able to get to know you how Ace got to know you too and I just had this feeling that you were especially made to be a teacher for boys.  Maybe I’m wrong but it was just this vibe you put off that boys were special, that while some teachers complained that boys could be a little rowdy or unruly, you seemed to “get them”  I had heard you had cancer and I could see this time around you used a cane and had a little bit of a limp but again I was so shy, I was nervous to ask but really just so you know what I wanted to do was hug you tight and tell you how glad I was that you made it, that you were still here to teach my second born son.  Again, I didn’t do that.  Kind of like the quote I opened this up with, it is pretty true how memories can come fresh again when we have heard or seen something that brings them back to life.  That’s what your memorial did for me today.  It just flooded my mind and heart with all those awesome memories.  But it also taught me a lesson, it taught me today that even if I’m a little shy I choose not to let that stand in my way any longer.  Next time I see someone that I want to hug or tell them how grateful I am for them, I’m just going to do it.  I promise I will because I’m pretty sure that’s what you would do.   I also want to thank you for walking in the light of Jesus, that your love for Jesus was passed on to my children and even though they went to a public school, they had a lovely Christian example right before their very eyes each day while they were in your class.  That’s invaluable.  Thank you Mrs. Osgaard, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  You made such a big difference in our lives. We always, always think of you when we crank out the best apple pie ever.  Our recipe is tattered and has butter stains, it’s well used and just like when I see roses I think of grandpa, when we make that apple pie or even have a slice from someplace else, we will think of you and say a little prayer of gratitude.  

Love Tracie, Ace and Dylan's Mom