How to find vision

She has always known me best, this best friend of mine. For years she has picked out my music, recommended some of my favorite authors and sent me gifts I cherish. The retro journal. The cigar box purse. The necklace with the chieftain, the turquoise cross and the words create and inspire – all a nod to my home and my heart.

So, when I opened her latest box and saw the book of Puritan prayers, I knew.

I knew if Ang had mailed it to me, I needed to read it.

And so I began.

What to do when you’re busy

Sometimes it isn’t the bad weeks that make my heart race – it’s the busy ones.

The late-night work events. The meeting with the higher-ups. The talk at church. The paperwork piling up at home and pushing against a deadline.

All good things. All things I wanted to do.

Still, I woke up last week feeling nervous and rushed. My drive to work came to almost a complete halt about the time I reached Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and its neighboring road construction. I drummed my fingers and tapped my foot, urging the cars ahead of me to move. I wanted to be really early for work so I could move a few things off my to-do list before my meetings even started for the day. Maybe then I could relax my shoulders a little. Maybe then I could settle in to a comfortable pace.

8 ways to worry less

IMG_0465 (1)It happens to all of us, this in between. We aren’t quite settled where we are, but we aren’t sure what the next step is. So, we’re in between.

You know that tired, old phrase about how when God closes a door He opens a window? Well, that’s fine unless you’re in the hallway, the in between.

It’s not so bad if it’s over quickly – if the hallway from the living room to the kitchen is short. But when it starts to feel like you might as well pitch a tent in the in between? Well, that’s when I start to wring my hands and question. That’s when I start to whine and complain.

How to choose family

Family is only as distant as we allow ourselves to be.Brian opened the door for me and I slid into the back seat of a taxi cab for our 10-minute ride deeper into downtown San Diego.

Are you here for business or for vacation, the driver asked as we passed palm trees and then drove by street lamps that curved into modern art.

Both, we answered. I would spend my day attending a conference, while my husband walked to a maritime museum and searched for the best seafood.

Tired of striving and pushing? How to find rest…

5SMMW16

I quickly learned that only the early get seats at Social Media Marketing World, and the rest line the walls until the fire marshal gets nervous. So, I sat in my seat on the left side of the aisle seven minutes before Park Howell was set to take the stage and show us how to tell better stories.

I was typing out a story of own on my phone when a woman put her bags down and sat in the chair in front of me. Before I could finish and hit send, she had turned to face me and introduce herself.

She started with her name and followed up with where she worked and what she did there. Then came the talk of all the awards they had won recently.

About three minutes in, she asked my name and what I do for a living. I dug for a business card.

Giveaway plus free printables for sharing joy

photo (7)Friends, this week we are fortunate to have an embellishment kit from the very talented Freckled Fawn to give away! This is a monthly subscription kit, and each kit contains a crazy-cool pouch filled with goodies to decorate letters, scrapbooks, journals and planners. Click here to enter.

I’m always looking for fun things to send in the mail to kids and others who might need a bit of encouragement, so I thought I’d use some of these Freckled Fawn embellishments to create pocket letters.

To make pocket letters: Take a plastic sheet that is designed to hold trading cards. Cut pretty paper to fit the pockets. Fill pockets with fun items (like stickers, washi tape, decorative paperclips and seashells) and tuck a little letter inside.

photo (11)

photo (14)There are thousands of YouTube videos about making pocket letters. They can look pretty intimidating, especially if you don’t have a room full of craft supplies, so I’m sharing two faith-inspired designs I made. All you need to do is print, cut and start filling the pockets!

If you haven’t already, please slip your email address in the box on the lower left of this page. Then, click here for the beach-themed pocket letter: BEACHFAITHPocketLetter. Click here for the pocket letter with the doughnut and globe: FAITHPocketLetter.

My hope is that these pocket letters will bring joy and share God’s love. Enjoy!

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how writing letters can be a ministry, click here.

 

Welcome to the 2016 book club

I think when you hear the same message from more than three people, you should take it seriously. And I’ve heard that several of you want more book suggestions and more opportunities for book discussions.

Finally, I think I’ve figured out how to do that for you.

Here’s what it will look like:

  • On the first day of every month I’ll host a three-book giveaway. Each month one person will win, and the package will include a children’s book, a novel and a non-fiction book. Look for these giveaways on the Simply Faithful Facebook page.
  • On April 15, June 15 and Aug. 15 I’ll host a book giveaway where six people will win a copy of the same book. Those people will be asked to discuss the book on the Simply Faithful Facebook page so the rest of us can determine if we might like to read it, too. Then, I’ll capture that discussion and share it here so it is easy to find for everyone.
  • In the fall, I will select a book for us all to read. I’ll interview the author and you’ll all have a chance to chat live with him/her on social media. This year, if the author is comfortable with it, we may offer live streaming on Facebook so you can see the author, too, while you are asking questions. (Yes, just like the Jetsons!)
  • I’m working on creating a monthly newsletter that will include suggestions for living a life of faith, free printables and book suggestions, along with Q&As with talented authors. If you are interested in receiving those newsletters, just slip your email address in the box on the bottom left.

Let’s try it. Sound good?

P.S. Feel free to share your book recommendations with me – especially for the fall. Thanks!

And the stationery giveaways start… now!

photo (1)Friends, remember how last week I told you I’d be giving away great stationery? Well, it’s starting now!

You have a chance to win the April “Sincerely Box,” which comes with four hand-lettered (crazy cool) greeting cards and four postage stamps to make keeping in touch easy. I’ll pick a winner Wednesday morning, so act fast.

photo (3)

For those of you on Facebook, click here to enter. For those of you not on Facebook, just comment below and tell me why you’d like to win.

Also, we’ll have another stationery-themed giveaway next weekend, along with some free downloads. I hope you win!

photo (4)

photo (7)

A few changes coming to Simply Faithful

IMG_2540

Friends,

We’ve shared this online space for about four years – and shared space in newspapers for close to seven – so it’s time to make some small adjustments.

I’ve decided to stop writing each week for the GateHouse newspapers. They were wonderful to work with and I loved the thought of being nationally syndicated, but I want to use my time differently. There are things I want to do to promote my book, improve this blog and grow our community on social media… and that all takes time and energy, too. So, I made the decision to cut back for my family. For my own spiritual growth. For a chance to rejuvenate.

I’ll still be writing here – just without the pressure of a weekly deadline – and you can still find my news articles about faith and compassion in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. They’ll appear there every other Monday.

I’m also helping a dear friend write a book that we pray helps many, many families who are healing from sexual abuse. I’m excited because she not only shares her family’s story but offers practical advice and spiritual encouragement. Much of the first draft is done, but we’ll soon finalize our book proposal and start looking for a literary agent. We would so appreciate your prayers for this project.

I’d love to hear how I can better serve you dear readers, so please let me know what you most enjoy and what you most need.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Marketta

 

How to live creatively

IMG_8775My soul sometimes gets restless. It grows tired of the day-to-day. Of meetings and schedules and rushing.

It wants to try something new. Or travel. Or redecorate. Or sit and day dream. Because my soul – the very center of me – craves space for creativity and beauty.

I forget that the God who painted stripes on the zebras and chose a brilliant red for the cardinal, shaped our souls, too, and I imagine his fingerprints are still there from when he created us.

In the Christian scriptures he asks us to focus on what is lovely and true and pure and just. I suspect he means it more as a daily practice than as an afterthought, something that works its way into my routine well before my soul is heavy with negativity and the clutter of busyness.

So, I’ve been wrestling with what it means to live more creatively in the everyday. At first I focused on the lovely, noticing the smile in front of me and seeing the art in the clouds – even if for just a moment. I added pictures and podcasts that inspired and strengthened me. I spent time with friends who encouraged and uplifted me. All of it fed my soul.

But living creatively requires more than mere beauty and gratitude: It requires risk.

In order to share more of myself, I must risk being known and rejected. In order to work for what is just and serve others in way that isn’t tried and tested, I must risk failure.

“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new,” writes Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation and author of “Creativity, Inc.”

He goes on to explain how the fear of failure can crush the best of creative businesses, but, “The antidote to fear is trust.”

I highlighted it in yellow.

Suddenly Catmull’s words about business make living more creatively seem a lot like living more faithfully. And a lot like trusting the Creator, who is lovely and true and pure and just.