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Be Your Own Best Present

2020 year-end reflection and message for those of us used to putting everyone else first and feeding into situations that don’t nourish us. Just as we try to be available supportive and our best selves for others, we should be equally, if not more so, for ourselves.


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Listening to Still, Small Voices

Still, Small Voices was the title and content of my pastor’s sermon on December 14, 2014, delivered a week after I posted my fury over lack of indictments for the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in Let Ferguson – and the United States – burn!

I have long believed that either my pastors are paying attention to what I write and respond via their sermons or God is answering me directly through them. I truly believe the latter. 😉 Honestly, when I began listening to this sermon that Sunday morning, I was still burning in anger and frustration. I literally put my hand up and said, “I’m not even trying to hear you! There’s nothing still and small about me right now! My rage is too loud!”

But even as my hand was raised to push the message away, I apologized immediately for my rejection of it. So after sprouting my anger, I opened my ears and prepared to receive the message that was for me.

I didn’t take notes then, but I listened.

God is good. He maintains His hold on those who belong to Him.

I accepted His gentle rebuke just as I accepted my anger, outrage and frustration. I know everything in my life works to my good and my life works to glorify God.

Trust that there is a purpose for whatever passion threatens to consume you. Submit your passions to God and He will mold you into the instrument He needs for such a time as this.

Know you are blessed as you walk in your purpose and your passion.

To God be the glory,


SERMON: STILL, SMALL VOICES by Pastor Carter Conlon

Quote: In a place of graciousness

Therefore the Lord will wait so that He may be gracious to you, therefore, He will be exhalted that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice. and blessed are all those who wait for Him.

When you finally discover that you have no strength inside of yourself, that your own palns, mannerisms are not going to work for you in this hour. I will wait for you until you’ve exhausted all your efforts – even righteous efforts – and I will be gracious to you there. In a place of graciousness – a place where the strong and the weak negotiate; and the poor and needed are shown kindness. When you finally run out of gas, I’ll come to you and I’ll speak to you. I’ll speak to you in soft, quiet confident way that will settle your heart and give you the strength to go forward. There is such incredible power in a small, still voice.

~ Pastor Carter Conlon.

Amen. And thank you, Pastor Carter, for being an instrument and a messenger.

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Blessings from Sin City: Day 1 & 2

I’m in Las Vegas for a week. A four-day weekend for a wedding turned into more in an effort to get more bang for that airline ticket price.

Getting here/there

Day 1 was a travel day. I went to work and ended up staying an hour longer than planned and two hours longer than I should have. I had two quick stops before getting home, then I had to finish packing and of course I had hoped to clean up my apartment so I could have a welcoming space to return to. Packing, unpacking and repacking took longer than expected. My dash around my apartment picking up and taking out trash didn’t result in cleanliness as much as relief that I discovered the bad smell developing in the kitchen.

The bus to the subway felt excruciatingly long for getting across five avenues. Four wrong trains came before I hopped on the fifth with a plan to connect to the correct one downtown. By the time the correct train got me to the airport, my plane was taking off, so I decided to take some pictures for the Photo Challenge, Week 20 (Landscape – Minimalist). Then I took the AirTran to the terminal. I was magnificently calm throughout my commute, even when I realized there was no way I was going to make my flight.

Initially there was sadness when I reflected that my missed plane was an inconvenience only to myself – no one waiting for my arrival. Then I realized that simply freed me of a sense of obligation and the anxiety that came with it. From that moment on, I decided to take my time. I would get to where I was going when I got there.

I was able to fly standby on the 9:30pm New York to Las Vegas flight, which got me to Vegas around 1:40am and in my hotel room around 2:30am. 5:30am New York time. I was exhausted – I hadn’t been able to sleep on the plane so I had been up and moving for nearly twenty-four hours.

You may be asking, “Where was the blessing in Day 1?”

During a stressful day (and period – did I mention my employment is up in the air?) and throughout a potentially stressful activity (commuting on public transit with luggage in NYC) I not only decided, but I was able to slow down to the present moment and look for opportunities to enjoy the setback. I ate the food I had picked up on my way home. Returned a phone call. I went to voice mail, but at least I returned the call. Then I walked around trying to take pictures of the scenery that would qualify as minimalist landscape. When I removed the anxiety, it wasn’t a bad delay.

It turned out that the best part of the trip was the wait.

Howard Beach subway stop, aka, JFK Airport

JFK Airport, Terminal 4, Gate 26

JFK Airport, Terminal 4, Gate 26

Entering Las Vegas
Entering Las Vegas

Maximizing my free day

Day 2 began with only four hours of sleep… UGH! Body clocks!… and the reminder that I could take my time. That worked well until I ran out of time! My first day of vacation was surprisingly busy prepping for a photo shoot. {New promo photos coming soon!} I was forty minutes late for my sunset shoot in Red Rock Canyon and became extremely anxious as I was losing sunlight, money and time… and perhaps the respect of a photographer I hadn’t yet met!  Oh, no! But again, no worries – the Fabulous Ms. Deidre Wilson ( was extremely gracious and accommodating. From what I previewed, she caught some great images.

The best part of the day was meeting someone who heard what I wanted and made it her business to deliver even more. I love that she made me laugh with the intent of capturing my laughter and joy on camera. We’ll see if it translates well….

May you be calm even when life is coming at you fast and may you learn to communicate with laughter and joy even through uncertainty.


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I’ve classically over-extended myself over the last few months. Over the last few weeks frustration and exhaustion have warred for my focus. My conclusion: although everything I’m doing is something I want to do, I would prefer to do everything I do well and also I prefer to be 100% present and committed when I do it. That has not been the case lately – not for some time as a matter of fact. So I came to the difficult decision to cut back on my calendar of activities. I will execute that decision this week.

Today’s lesson: There are many worthy causes and many opportunities to spread yourself thin, however others are better served when they are offered (and able to receive) as much of your full attention and energy as you would give them if they were the only person on your agenda.