When words just aren’t enough…

                  In our Pinterest driven world, a picture is really worth a thousand words! There is just something about “seeing” a quote or verse, rather than just reading it, that really captures our attention and causes the words to stick like glue! So I’ve put together some of my recent favorite picture quotes. Hope these inspire you to continue Making Life Magnificent 🙂

Don't Be Ashamed To Feel

           This one stands out to me because there are times when I truly do feel that I have to appear strong and in charge all the time because I don’t want to be judged for being weak. Whoever said that being weak is a negative!? Maybe it’s our “Super Hero” mentality, but this one is a good reminder that apart of being human means you’re going to have not-so-strong days. It’s still ok, embrace those moments, learn from them, then keep it moving!

Forgive

          

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I have definitely been hurt before! This helps me have a healthier perspective on forgiving those who’ve hurt me AND on forgiving myself.

follow your heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance Passion & Wisdom! Enough said.

Press Toward The Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 3: 12-14 about Pressing Toward The Mark. Read it here

 

 

 

 

 

 

relationships are work relationship patience

Amen!! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shine from within

 

 

 

 

This reminds me of a the Maya Angelou poem, Phenomenal Woman…see it below

Storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know how they say “misery loves company?” Well this turns that right on top of its head!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work hard in silence  Although it’s small, this one packs a big punch. It reminds me of a quote I heard years ago: “Excellence is the best revenge.” 🙂

 

 

 

 

Related Articles:
God’s Word Made Visual

My Inner Peace: Kung Fu Panda Style

   I’m not a big t.v. watcher. I can name my faithful favorites on one hand: Scandal, Mary Mary, Chopped and Wheel of Fortune!  Occasionally I’ll feast on HGTV  or Cooking Channel. Other than that, if the t.v. is on in my house, it’s showing cartoons. And I must admit, I’ve learned more life lessons from watching cartoons that anything else I watch.

       Po from Kung Fu Panda continues to be one of my favorites. The most unlikely (and un-liked) person–panda rather–in the entire village is chosen to be The Master Warrior. Reminds me of Bible stories like David being chosen as King of Israel, Gideon being chosen to defeat a massive army with only 300 men, Rahab the prostitute being spared from death in the victory over Jericho, little insignificant and unknown Mary to birth the Savior into the world. Talk about turning the world on its head! Just when we think we are so unfit to achieve something great, life has a way of showing us that we are the perfect person for the job!

      After Po completes a grueling training to prove he can become The Master Warrior, a sequel is released in which Po is confronted by his unknown past. (If you haven’t seen the movie, sorry that I’m giving away all the details.) So Master Shifu (pronounced She-fu) wants to teach Po how to have inner peace. The meditative chant: Inner Peace, Inner Peace…Inner Inner Peace is repeated throughout the movie, with no luck in helping Po achieve any real peace within himself. It wasn’t until the climax and height of tension that Po realizes the secret to achieving real peace, and this is where I’m hit hard every time:

The Peacock, Po’s enemy says: “How did you do it? I scarred you for life. How did you achieve inner peace?”
Po responds: “Scars heal….what matters is what you choose to be.”

        Peace, happiness, contentment, any of the things we desire in life, come only through our choosing–not by our circumstances. On most days, I think I have many reasons to be bitter: I lost my husband at the age of 24, I live 3 1/2 hours away from all my family, my most frequent places to visit are work, church and the grocery store. Unless I just specifically plan for something else, my “free time” is spent cleaning my house. So many scars…but like The Master Warrior points out to his perpetrator, I am not a victim unless I choose to be.

      Please don’t think I am minimizing hardship. Despite how tragic my story may seem, there are many who face challenges even greater and much more present: rape, homelessness, sickness, joblessness and more plague the lives of too many around us. Too many that are closer than we realize. I know from experience that when you are in the middle of a hard time, you can’t always see that even in these circumstances, you  still have a choice. Life will always be ready to inflict scars. Just don’t forget that scars really do heal: so what do you choose to be?

     Let’s learn from that adorable cartoon panda, whose parents were killed and he ended up being raised by a duck in a noodle shop, that we can truly have Inner, Inner Peace. Challenge yourself to choose magnificence in the midst of your beautiful struggles. 🙂

 

The Day I Learned To Laugh

This post is actually an excerpt from my upcoming book–which I’m working hard on having released by the end of this year. The book is a memoir of life lessons I’ve learned over the years. This lesson (which is a TRUE story) taught me how to laugh at all the beautiful struggles I endure on my quest to Make Life Magnificent. Enjoy 🙂

           …I’d convinced my mom to buy me “the hooker boots!” They were so stylish: black leather, knee-high, four and a half inch heel, “sexy boots” is what I called them! I had no business wearing these or the khaki shirt with two long splits up the side. After all, I was only in high school! But high school wasn’t the time to be rational or logical or use the good sense God gave us. It was the time to be social and popular and impressive, and I just had to impress him. This outfit is just what I needed to pull it off.

 
           The big day finally arrived. My outfit and hair were just right, and after what seemed like an eternity, the lunch bell finally rang. He was standing where I knew he’d be, by the vending machines in our high school cafeteria, with his other football buddies. He was so adorable. All I needed was for him to catch a good glimpse of me going down the stairs in my sexy boots and skirt, and I knew he would officially be mine! Now, when I really look back on all this, I wish the shoes would have come with an instruction manual; “WARNING: Please do not attempt to operate while under the influence of high school puppy love!” If the manufacture did have that label attached, I obviously missed it!

 
             In my own little love world, I was waving and smiling to Mr. Adorable as I headed down the stairs. In my own little love world, he was winking at me, while waving and smiling back. Yet in the real world, the heel of one of those “hooker boots” got stuck on the edge of the top step and the next thing I knew, I was going head first down the stairs. To my dismay, I landed flat on my back right beside the vending machines. This wasn’t a head-first type fall; this was literally a head over heels fall. My backpack flipped over my head and my entire body seemed to do a somersault down the stairs. Instead of my secret crush admiring me, he and his friends were standing directly over me–as I lay sprawled on my back–yelling, “Oh my God, are you ok?” This is definitely NOT what I had in mind.

                  “Tanya, are you alright?”
                   “Man she hit that floor kind of hard!”
                  “Pull her skirt down, you can see her…”
                   “Maybe we should try to pick her up.”
                  “Naw man, she might be dead or something!”
                 “Tanya, Tanya…!”

          I lay completely motionless. I figured if I played dead, somehow all of this would either just magically rewind and I could start the day over, or I’d just disappear into thin air. Where’s that convenient little fairy godmother when you need her?

 

        A teacher who saw the commotion, called the ambulance and they rushed me to a hospital thinking I’d had some kind of head injury. My mom had a real field day with this one, since she never liked those boots anyway! Luckily, my hospital stay was very brief. The doctor’s diagnosis was “post-traumatic embarrassment!” After all, the hard part wasn’t the fall, it was having to face the high school masses. The hard part was having to face him again.

*                                              *                                        *                                      *

             The greatest lesson I’d ever learn was right upon my heels–literally and figuratively. Mr. Adorable approached me during lunch a couple of days later with a look of concern splattered across his face. My first thought was that I would literally die or pass out right in front of him. I couldn’t believe that this was the way I had to face him. Then the unthinkable happened. When he asked me was I ok, I busted out laughing: the tear jerking, belly holding kind of laughing, and he started laughing too! I don’t know if I was laughing out of fear that he would laugh first or if being so close to the “crime scene” brought on a flashback of my fall or maybe it was a combination of so many things happening at once. Whatever the case, I laughed hysterically at myself and my huge mistake. And like magic, everything was ok.

          As Mr. Adorable and I re-enacted the whole thing through our jerks of laughter, it seemed as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulder. Although he and I never dated, we did become very good friends and shared many more laughs together. On top of this, I learned one of the best lessons of my life: Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself! Cut yourself some slack and don’t take everything so seriously. One day your embarrassments will only be faint memories. I’ve carried this lesson with me from that high school day to my shaky graduation speech, my first day of college away from home, as I almost tripped down the aisle on the day of my wedding, at my dramatic display of giving birth to my son, and even now as a single mother and young widow who is working hard every day to make life better. I have had plenty more “post-traumatic embarrassments” with plenty more heartaches and disappointments in the mix. When I get to the end of those days, I remember this lesson and I smile. 🙂

      The next time you feel the urge to crawl inside yourself and cry over life’s mishaps, think about the cow cheese commercial that asks, “Have you laughed today?”         *                                             *                                       *

Wacky Wednesdays: Good Meal Gone Bad!

As a full time working single parent, one consistent goal I have is to provide healthy home cooked meals to my son each day. It is so tempting to eat food from a drive-thru after a long day of work, and I’ll admit that I have given in to this temptation at times. Yet, as I’ve said before, Making Life Magnificent isn’t about perfection, but progress. We are all striving to do better and to be better, so this is one area I am striving in.

But as you know, it takes more than good intentions to achieve a goal like this. Cooking home cooked meals everyday when you also work outside the home everyday can be plain ole’ HARD! You have to think of something to cook, then do the prep work, then actually cook it! I work as a school teacher, so I’m on my feet all day. There are times when the thought of being on my feet more for cooking just isn’t a happy thought for me. So I….well, rush a little and try to cut corners. One day in particular, I had such a good idea for a quick and yummy meal: Broiled Lemon Pepper Chicken with Yellow Rice and Green Beans. Sounds easy and healthy doesn’t it! I came up with this one all on my own. (usually I steal ideas from all the great ones on my Pinterest Food Board!)

Anyway, as I was rushing cooking, I ran out of steam and decided to change it to Broiled BBQ Chicken instead of Lemon Pepper. I slathered the BBQ sauce on the baked chicken and put it under the broiler that was set on high. My plan was to get the outside of the chicken just a little crispy, so while it was “broiling,” I went into the living room with my son to watch a little Wild Kratts. (such a great cartoon!) That’s when I smelled it! No, it wasn’t the sweet aroma of BBQ sauce tickling my nose! I had no idea that sauce would burn rather than broil. Instead of my chicken coming out like this: (which is what I envisioned)

It came out looking more like this:

My burnt chicken

      I can hear you now….OMG, What did she do to that chicken?!? Go ahead and get your laugh on…I was certainly laughing at myself when I stood back and looked at my finished product. I laughed even more when I saw the look on my son’s face! But before you roll over laughing, just think back to your own Good Meal Gone Bad. We all have one if we’re honest with ourselves. Since I am still learning to balance work and motherhood (and it seems a hundred other things), I have more than one Good Meal Gone Bad, but it’s ok. I’m a work in progress 🙂

I’m glad you’ve gotten a good laugh out of this. I know there are other parents out there who are striving to put decent meals on the table each day, and going to a fast-food place all the time just isn’t ideal. Not only is it more costly, but it’s not as healthy. I could look at this chicken meal and feel the urge to just throw in the towel, especially since I have The Triple Threat very near my house (McDonald’s, Zaxby’s and Arby’s). Instead here are some things I now do to make this area of my life less of a struggle:

  1. I make a written meal plan every month
    I don’t use any fancy templates, just a notebook where I write some of our favorite meals (that I know I can cook!) and I match these recipes with the food inventory in my house to make sure I have what I need.
  2. I bulk cook on weekends, then freeze those meals for later
    This one change has made a huge difference in my life! Freezer meals are healthy & convenient! And there are TONS of ideas out there with step-by-step instructions. See here. freezer meals Just don’t forget to take them out ahead of time so they can thaw properly.
  3. I use my Crock-Pot!!
    If you don’t have one of these glorious inventions, please invest in one. It is a life-saver! Great meal ideas here. crock pot
  4. I plan which days will be restaurant days
    Ok, sometimes you do really need to take a break. If your budget allows it, choose at least one day a week to pick up something to eat or go to a restaurant. For my son and I, Fridays are pizza nights; I pick up a pizza instead of cooking to give me a night off. There are lots of restaurants that have kids eat free night. Check them out in your area using this site: www.mykidseatfree.com

      With planning and focus, this area of your life can truly be magnificent! My meals may be wacky at times, but not all the time. My Homemade Blueberry Pancakes were a hit this morning! Homemade Blueberry Pancakes So don’t quit. Keep cooking. Keep smiling.

“The Closet Is All Mine” & Other Things I’d Gladly Give Up As a Single Mother

   On my constant quest to improve and Make Life Magnificent, I often seek out advice on single parenting. I became a single mother when my husband passed away in 2009. My son Caleb was 5 months old at the time and I was terrified at the task of raising him alone. Since then, I’ve read countless books and articles, researched every scripture on parenting, talked to other parents…on and on because–in the simplest way that I can admit–I just want to be a good mother. Yet, motherhood is no easy task. Trying to achieve it alone can seem one hair away from being impossible. But don’t take my words as discouragement or pessimism. I have come to realize that there is true beauty in the struggle of it all.

              Today as I was reading, I found an article by Parents Magazine titled: Benefits to Being a Single Parent. Of course, I was instantly intrigued when I saw this because I couldn’t wait to read what these so-called benefits were. Among the author’s viewpoints on single parenting, there is one “benefit” sited that just jumped out at me: “The Closet Is All Mine.”

                  Ok…just give me a minute here…did I read that right? One “benefit” to raising a child alone is that you don’t have to share your closet with another adult! I do believe in being optimistic and seeing the silver lining in all things, but there are times when we just have to be real. Everyone is different, I get that too, and for me having the closet all to myself doesn’t even come close to being considered a good reason for single parenting. Did I already say that raising children is HARD!?

                  If someone came to me today and said that I could have my husband and the father of my child back in exchange for my closet, I would offer them the entire house with the closet!! Take it and all the other shallow and meaningless things that I’d gladly give up as a single mother. None of them would compare to having my son grow up with both his parents there to love, support and nurture him.

My son Caleb and his dad Eric

2 year old Caleb dressed up for Halloween

Fun With Son                As a Christian, I believe that God has a plan in all things. Even when we can’t understand what He may be trying to teach us or accomplish in our lives, faith requires us to trust God’s sovereignty. I am at a place now where I completely trust God’s plan in allowing me to be a young widow and single mother. So please don’t think I’m complaining about my lot in life. Please don’t think that I resent having to raise my son at all. And PLEASE don’t think I’m downing single parents. We are strong and resilient and able to do much more than we think. Single parenting is an art and science all wrapped into one. My hat goes off to all of you out there!

                It’s just really interesting to me how our perspective can completely color our view of something. Two people, two mothers looking at the same situation, yet we have such a different conclusion about all of it. She seems content about being a single mother because she gets to have her closet all to herself, among other things. I look at my son everyday and come to the conclusion that I’d give everything I own, closet and all, if his dad could be here to see how awesome and adorable this little boy is growing up to be.

   

             I was so taken aback by that listed “benefit” that I actually couldn’t read anymore. I truly can’t think of any benefits to single parenting, but I can think of some Positive Points in Single Parenting:

  • You are forced to do things you would never do (I had to learn to tie a tie because I want to teach my son)
  • You develop the skills of an expert multi-tasker (On any given day, it seems like I have to do about 50 things at once!)
  • You come to see that budgets are actually very sexy (Along with coupons and kids eat free restaurant nights)
  • You learn that perfection is so overrated (Some days you feel like you’re wearing a cape, some days you feel like such a failure, but you still get up the next day to do it all over again the best way you know how)

             When I look over my Positive Points, I think there are some married parents that would also say “Amen” to some of these, which makes me realize that, yes–single parents do have unique challenges–but overall parenting for everyone can be an uphill journey. I’m holding God’s hand as I travel up that hill. And I’m saving lots of space in my closet to share with the man God will provide to travel that journey with Caleb and me. 🙂

Interesting Related Writings:
Confessions of Young Widow: The Little Things I Miss About Being Married

               

Have Tattoos Really Become More Permanent Than Marriage?

This coming April will make 5 years that I’ve been single. (see My Story) 2 years after my husband passed away, I sincerely tried dating, and I learned enough through only 2 bad experiences to write an entire book on the subject. One thing I realized is that I DON’T want to have to think like a man in order to date one. No offense Steve Harvey, but that’s just too many rules to keep up with.

dating

         Dating today can be scary in my opinion. Dating as a Christian and a single parent can feel like you’re walking down Nightmare on Elm Street! Apparently I’m not the only one whose gone through this little horror experience. The numbers are crazy: there are 112 million single (unmarried) people over 18 in the U.S. and for every 88 single men, there are 100 single women. (unmarried.org) I could actually give more numbers that are really interesting, but I’m going to stop there and let that last one sink in. For every 100 single women, there are only 88 single men…soooo basically some single woman out there is going to have to face the reality that she may not get married ever or ever again.

Yet in the midst of the craziness of statistics and numbers and facts, I have hope.
relax in my heart

        Maybe it’s because my marriage was such a great one up until my husband passed away. Or maybe it’s because it was way too short of a marriage in the first place (we were only married 1 year and 6 months). Or maybe it has to do with the fact that I’ve had time to realize all the things I’d do differently as a wife if I have the chance to do it all over again.  Whatever the reason, I believe in and hope for another chance to be married. And on that note, I’m no longer ashamed to say that if you know a quality single Christian guy who likes kids…send him my way. Thank you 🙂

       I realize my story may be unique…I don’t know anyone else personally that became a widow at the age of 24. When most females were trying to figure out what to do with their lives, I was figuring out funeral arrangements for my spouse. That may sound really hard, but it was my reality. This reality has made a HUGE impact on how I now see relationships and marriage.  And yet, I’m still optimistic about my future. Things do change whenever I wander into the world wide web!

All around me there are blogs, books and podcasts about how Single Is the NEW Sexy! According to one blogger, if you’re young and aspiring to marriage, you’re a coward. She goes on to say that “…marriage is nothing but a security blanket for people who are too afraid to face the world alone.”

    Then she lists all the things you should do with your life other than think about marriage and one to-do was:

Get a tattoo…it’s more permanent than marriage anyway.

        Really? For someone whose marriage ended too painful, too soon, I want to scream reading this! Is there some shred of truth to this? Please tell me that’s not true of my generation? It may seem lame, weak, or whatever–but I deeply admire the image of family life. I believe in the hope of having a husband and more children. Am I old-fashioned for this?

       Now, I do agree that people should get out in the world and live! Travel, try a new food, volunteer, babysit, learn something new, build your passion, further your education, develop your hobbies or try a new hobby, etc. But am I the only one left who feels that you and your spouse can do all this together as well one day?

      Marriage doesn’t have to mean the end of life, but the chapter to a new beautiful beginning–if it’s with the right person.

      So I’ll keep improving and striving to Make Life Magnificent. But in my heart I hope to one day share this magnificent journey with someone special (other than my sweet little boy who loves animals, climbing and getting dirty!)Caleb at age 2

I’m ready for love again, but as I always say–I’d rather be with nobody than to be forever connected to the wrong somebody, so I’m willing to wait.

Maybe for fun, I’ll go get a tattoo! It’ll have to be one of those sticker tattoos though, because I don’t like needles!

Related Articles:
10 Behaviors That Keep You Single
UPDATE: New Related Article:  12 Things Women Need To Do Before They Marry

Wacky Wednesdays: Kids Really Do Say (and Do) The Funniest Things!

Everyone needs to laugh! Laughter is like medicine. Since we know that life can be a beautiful struggle, we should do ourselves a favor and laugh out loud!  I can tell you for sure that as a parent and teacher, some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen or heard were from KIDS! The thing that makes them so funny is their sincerity in what they say and do. For the most part, they are being as honest and as real as they know how to be.  Remember the show by Bill Cosby from the 90’s Kids Say the Darnest Things? I still remember some of those episodes…cracking up laughing at those cute little kids.

To lighten the load on this “hump day,” I thought I’d revive the spirit of KID COMEDY! I’ve collected (from my own crazy life and from others) funny things kids say and do!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When my son Caleb was 2 years old, decided he wanted to look like paw paw. So he pulled up his shirt to let his belly out and put on my dad’s shoes, but then he couldn’t stop watching the tv!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Caleb decided to show up for dinner one evening dressed as his favorite character from Super Why!

markers

We get upset when kids draw on walls or on their clothes. What would you do if your child made a work of art out of his siblings?!


ambercrombie kid

poop picture When asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 4 year-old Caleb said, “A daddy in the daytime and a ninja turtle at night.”

7 year old Kayla was outside with her mom when a ladybug landed nearby. With a puzzled look on her face, she turned and asked her mom, “What is the daddy ladybug called?”

As we were riding home from church one day, Caleb (whose now 5) says to me from the backseat, “Mommy I always wanted to pet a squirrel. That’s my real dream.”

A grandmother was in the store with her small grandson and he saw something that he really wanted. He began to plead with his grandmother to get it for him and she kept responding, “Well I don’t have the money right now.” Finally, the little boy–with a puzzled look on his face–said to his grandmother, “If you don’t have any money, why you in the store for?”

  I could go on and on all day with this! I’m sure you have funny stories and pictures to share as well. Keep laughing and keep Making Life Magnificent!

Related Articles:
15 Cringeworthy Things Little Kids Say in Public
Kids Say the Darndest Things (22 Pics)
Wacky Wednesday: My Weird Food Habit