This week kind of killed me.  One minute I’m virtually talking trash to myself, and the next minute I’m singing my praises. My non crafty side asks what on earth I think I’m doing and my creative determined side pats me on the back when I have a finished product. I sound like a broken record, but I can’t say it enough. There are so many variables! Each project has a new twist that I’ve got to figure out. For example, I didn’t know that heat pressing over a seam would make one of those ugly seam marks we get when we iron. I had to research how to avoid that, which led me to purchasing heat press pillows. Then I had my blade inserted wrong, which led to having to take a couple of hours off of work so I could connect with Silhouette customer service, plus tons of wasted vinyl, and vinyl is money.

I know I sound grumpy as I work through this learning process. And at times I am super grumpy. I’m frustrated that I don’t know how to put vinyl on t-shirts, what settings to put on the Cameo machine for the various materials, and that I can’t see the cut marks to weed them off of their carrier. But then I come up with a design that I’m sure will please my friend (customer) and you’d think the Blazers won game 3 in the Western Conference Finals.

Or, I get perspective.

On Saturday I got to help at a fundraiser for an organization called Ethiopian Orphans Relief. I never thought I’d be helping with an organization about Ethiopian orphans. I have worked really hard to stay focused on the things that tug at my heart. I tend to be scattered with a lot of interests and I have to be dogged not to be distracted from the things that are already on my list of causes. It’s a challenge to know where to stop helping all the causes that need attention. I have a dream of starting an organization to help single moms who don’t have families to help them. They are in a sense orphans and I know God did not intend that anyone do life alone. The dream has so much potential, if only…

In the elevator from the parking garage I was making small talk with a couple dressed like they were country music fans. I was in downtown Portland and country music fans usually play in the suburbs or rural areas, yet, I’m definitely not in the know about where to go country dancing these days. The woman asked where I was going and when I heard myself say, “A fundraiser for Ethiopian orphans” I followed it with, “Really, I am. I mean, I’m helping at it.”

There are so many people in need close to home that I have this kind of promise to myself that I won’t get distracted by the needs across the world, when my neighbors are in need. That when my friend who is suffering from cancer and another good acquaintance recently died, that my energies will be put toward those things if I’m asked. With my sparse resources I have chosen Compassion First and Young Life as the two organizations I donate to consistently. And the way I work toward my dream of helping single moms, is to help single moms. When a single mom friend I know needs something, I do my best to be a resource for her. So, when I told the couple that I was going to a fundraiser for Ethiopian orphans, it sounded like I was trying to imitate a socialite in a movie, and I grappled to remedy it.

I wanted to explain to the couple that I was helping because the  co-founder of the organization introduced me to the Silhouette Cameo 3 that I now use for my business. She was integral in showing me what the machine was all about and I wanted to do something for her in return. But the elevator door indicated the conversation was over and we went on our separate ways. Which by the way, I was almost hit by a guy driving a big black SUV as I crossed the street (legally). Because I was voice texting the EOR founder as I crossed the street, my phone still has the words I was saying to the potential manslaughter criminal.

But he didn’t hit me (nor did he apologize, but a nice bystander witnessed my near death and comforted me by calling the driver a bad name) and on to the fundraiser I proceeded.

First, I have to say, it’s been a very long time since I’ve been in a nice hotel. The event was at the downtown Hilton. This sounds so ridiculous, but I didn’t realize that I’d missed being in a hotel. For awhile nice hotels caused me distress. I think I had a kind of PTSD about them after my divorce. I won’t go into that, but hotels had lost their innocence and I was happy to live a simple life where I could count on what I could see.

But I’m over my PTSD, and in fact had forgotten I’d ever had it. The evidence is how much satisfaction I had by just walking into the lobby and enjoying the luxury of design and service. The high ceilings, soft lights, and furniture design that reflects the current trends of mixing metals and wood. Oh, I loved it!

Working at the fundraiser was fabulous. The people I worked with care about their cause like I care about mine and it is equally legitimate. The organizers gave the guests good reason to spend their evening with them. The auction items were hard to say no to, and easy to say yes to. Guests were incredibly generous, as I observed when a dozen NOLA donuts went for $2800 and a three tiered chocolate cake went for $2700. The guests held back and only paid $700 for the bundt cake.

I love to watch people spend money at fundraisers. We can affect change in many ways, and sharing our money and for some, their wealth, is one of them. I was impressed and proud of my friend who makes such an impact for the orphans in Ethiopia, and grateful to discover this need and to bring it closer to home. And as always, perspective…


I’m sharing a few items I’ve made over the last couple of weeks. Sometimes I have to hold back posting them because it would spoil the surprise for someone.

No mistaking who this towel wrap is for.

Bridal shower cups

Bridal shower cups. I guess flamingos are a thing right now!

This is a yard sign flag. It got shipped to New Hampshire where my friend’s rock star sister graduated from NHSU.

School logo and colors

You wouldn’t normally put these flags in the toaster, but you can put them anywhere and everywhere!










Wedding prep has begun.


“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” became a mantra I unconsciously assumed several years back. I found myself thinking it, and then saying it. When I saw a poster in a cute store in Ashland I purchased it. It doesn’t go with any of my decor, but it complements my mental state perfectly, so I’ve found a place to hang it where ever I live. It’s the secular translation to Matthew 6:26-27,

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

This scripture has loads of meaning to me that I won’t elaborate (too much) on right now. The biggest for me is that while I’m not hoping to add an hour to my life, I’d like to add an hour to my day. Daylight savings in the spring is my favorite holiday. An extra hour is reason to celebrate! This passage addresses our worry or fear of meeting our basic needs, but what about the “want tos” in our life, the things that we’ll regret if we don’t do or experience?

For those reasons, intentionality is important to me. That’s not to say I’m not lazy. But I like to schedule lazy, so I can fully embrace it. It could be that I know myself and without intention, I’d be a real mess. I hate getting up and I hate going to bed. While I schedule my alarm clock to get up early, I arise in sloth motion, doing my best self talking about all the reasons I love being up, ultimately. Once I’m up, it’s time to get busy, because the minutes are ticking away and the countdown to bedtime sneaks up on me. I’m like, “Dang! It’s 11pm again??

I don’t now if my intentionality is my nature or out of necessity. I have as many “want tos” as I do “have tos” in my life, so it’s probably both. Where some people interpret “live a little” as a way to reduce stress and live a carefree life, I interpret “live a little” as, yes, make the most of this life and don’t waste it. Spending money I don’t have or not preserving money for my future sounds like a jail sentence to me. Carpe diem means seizing this day in a way that will result in good things for tomorrow. God provides for me, but he doesn’t save me from myself. He has given us a free will with good instructions!

I have also discovered that my good intentions can result in disappointment because, like Proverbs says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Hard work is an investment, and the more I’ve invested, the harder the disappointment when things go sideways. That is where crossing a bridge when we get to it comes in. It balances my perspective of an intentional strategy with an understanding that nothing is certain.

So, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” has also applied to Bridgette’s wedding that is less than two weeks away! With work and Christmas and a second income endeavor I have started, wedding prep was all in the preliminary stages, but now, we are crossing that bridge. All the ideas, conversations and commitments are being nailed down and we are full speed ahead.

Dumpster diving, and proud of it! I brought Bridgette’s sweet friend with me. It was a first for both of us, and we scored big!

As the new year approaches, there are other bridges I will cross, yet before I arrive at those, Bridgette’s big day comes first.

May intention bring us to great experiences as we each cross the bridges of 2019. May we be patient in the journey, fully embracing each one as we arrive. And may we remember that one thing is certain: no matter when or what bridge we cross, God is crossing it with us.

Happy New Year 2019!


Pro tip for a January wedding and a finite budget: Ask nurseries for their Christmas leftovers. Carpe Diem!

On July 4th I shared my road trip / vacation and the book I was listening to on my way to Central Oregon. That four day vacation by the way was nothing short of heavenly. I don’t vacation often, primarily in an effort to preserve money for other things, like taxes in April. I don’t want to harp on a shortage of income. It’s true I need more of it, and I’m persistent in looking for opportunities to increase it, which is also something I don’t want to expand on publicly. Although, I did share a dog walking story in an April post. It was that story and more like it that caused me to stop that side job. While I wish I had more income, or maybe I should just say money, I don’t necessarily stress over it.

Maybe because I’m intentional with it. One day I might spend a fair amount on a meal with a friend, but rarely do I pick up food to go. I can be starving at work because I didn’t take time to make a lunch. Rather than run to the store, I’ll eat lemon heads and pound down more coffee or water. Better yet I’ll hope someone appears with a baked treat from New Seasons. Admittedly this isn’t a preferred strategy of a healthy person. By the time I get home I’m famished and chips and salsa are calling my name, if not some ice cream, and that’s before dinner. I’m spending some extra money on the wedding I didn’t plan on, but that is with joy and hope that Bridgette’s wedding will be magical. I might spend a little bit more on a Mother of the Bride dress, but rarely do I buy new clothes for everyday wear. So there you have it: intentional. And here’s to hoping intentional continues to replace stress when it comes to money.

Speaking of magical, that is what I call Timothy Keller’s book: Belief in an Age of Skepticism – The Reason for God. The messages in this book penetrate first to the mind, and then steep deeper into the heart, which feels like magic. It’s not that this never happens as I listen to my local pastor (whose messages I love). But Timothy Keller shares perspectives on the issues of skeptics that admittedly, I accept easily. I’ve been blessed with faith in God. While I get frustrated with Him, I hardly ever question His existence. His presence in my life has been so tangible, I can’t deny Him. 1 Peter 3:15 says “… Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” Don’t you just love that last part!? I think some people overlook the tail end of that passage.

My story is filled with God’s faithfulness and expressing my love for God is usually as easy as breathing. I felt expressions of God all around me in Central Oregon; in the mountains, the rivers and lakes, and when the sun rose and when it set.

But this is my interpretation of God, and Timothy Keller bases his interpretation on intellect and his passion for the truth. As a result, he has studied many religions and philosophies. I love and appreciate this passion and grateful that he has shared it with us. The ease of faith that I possess has rarely ever challenged God. During my dry spells when I didn’t walk with the Lord (which is when I made pivotal junctions) I continued to believe He loved me. I was simply ignorant and didn’t walk the path he’d laid out for me. There might have been more to it than ignorance, but that was definitely a component.

I was mesmerized throughout the book as Timothy reveals truths and addresses those who do challenge God. He does it with a tone of acceptance and love toward the unbeliever, as well as the believer who thinks they’ve got it altogether. Unlike me, he has been a skeptic, and his empathy toward the one who questions God is apparent.

I recall two instances in the book that touched me deeply.

One is in Luke when the rich man dies. From afar he sees the poor beggar named Lazarus who used to sit outside the gate, hoping for a morsel of food. In Hades, the rich man is tormented while Lazarus lives peacefully next to Abraham. The rich man begs Abraham to send someone to “the other side” to warn his brothers, so they too will not die and go to Hades. But Abraham says the following:

‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ The rich man urges, “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

But Abraham replies, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16: 29-3

I’m reminded of the many times I read God’s word, but don’t heed His instruction. I think back to when I took what I call my detour, leaving the path I was walking to do things my way for awhile. That’s when I made decisions based solely on my own, without praying or consulting with Him. Things didn’t go so well, and in fact, they went horribly. That’s not to say that those decisions couldn’t be redeemed, but it would have been a lot easier to go the speed limit. I’ve renewed my walk with God, but in this world, I am paying the price.

We also do this to each other. Somehow we don’t hear when someone is hurting, or needing help. We nod our head in agreement, but we continue on our way without adjusting our step in their direction. When my mom was dying I told friends she was in the hospital and the difficult time I was having. I’d shared that she’d had a toe amputated and I was in a position to decide if we would amputate her leg. If we didn’t, she risked death. A dear woman from my bible study held close to me during that time as I made the difficult decision not to amputate. I knew my mom didn’t have the stamina to care for herself after such a severe loss. When my mom passed, friends asked why I hadn’t told them she was “that” sick. I’m sure I’ve done the same, half listening to someone, not getting it. Just like I often don’t “get it” when I’m reading God’s word.

As parents we laugh about this (or not). We ask our child to take out the garbage and they don’t respond. We ask again and they still don’t respond. Then we raise our voice and they wonder why we’re upset. “I’m not upset! I just want you to hear me!” I’ll bet God wanted to say the same to the rich man, but God doesn’t yell.

I thought about the rich man and his desperate attempt to adjust the course of his brothers, and his own life, and I was overwhelmed when I thought about the good fortune I have that I’m still living with the opportunity to do God’s will, and be more than a rich man, I can be Joni.

Keller points out that the rich man was simply, “the rich man.” He had no name, but the poor man had a name: Lazarus.

“Dear God, let my name mean something. That I will be more than the girl with the nice yard, or the devoted mom, or the good food or the conscientious employee. May these things that are important to me not define me, but may I keep perspective and may my name, Joni, reflect a woman who is faithful to God.”

The second moment of revelation in Timothy’s book was about forgiveness. For anyone who has been hurt or betrayed, that word can send pricklers up a back or tears down a face. Forgiveness is complicated, especially if one continues to be hurt or betrayed in some way. It’s a personal conversation with God that is ongoing, and if you are at least having that conversation, you’re ahead of the person who resists forgiveness. For me, it’s a constant conversation. However, I’ve had a shift.

The subject of forgiveness came in the context of why Jesus had to die on the cross. Apparently some people like the concept of God without Jesus having to go through the unimaginable experience of being crucified. It’s like, “Lets just have a nice God and call it good.” As Timothy explains it, I now understand forgiveness in a completely different light. Without repeating the complete context, ultimately forgiveness is paying the debt for someone else. As I read this, this sounds obvious in the Christian sense. But what I thought was obvious, wasn’t the whole story. Keller illustrated a neighbor who broke a shared fence. One neighbor pays for it, entirely. He completely forgives the debt. THAT defines forgiveness. I swear I’ve never considered forgiveness in the extreme like that, and it has made a difference for me.

Forgiving a broken fence is a lot easier than forgiving betrayal or broken hearts. But Jesus knew both. In the garden of Gethsamane, Jesus’ anguish is palpable. He says, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” In paying the debt there will be excruciating pain, but in honoring our heavenly Father, we get to sit with Lazarus in heaven.

As I think about disappointments or a relationship that didn’t go the way I’d hoped, I am enthusiastic in wanting to pay the debt. If I am to truly share the Spirit of God, I can only do it if I am not holding on to a hurt that I’ve experienced. I am taking that hurt from that person and paying for it. They don’t owe me anything for it. There’s no negotiating. Not as my will, but His will be done. I’m paying for the fence.

I wonder, will I feel this way tomorrow, or the next day, or in a couple of months when a new hurt presents itself? I’m on the right track. It’s been a week!

So, that is my book report on The Reason for God. I purchased the hard copy and hope to find more of these magical moments when I read it versus listening to it. I hope you will magically know the Spirit of God in the most beautiful unexplainable way possible. And this might be the book to do that.

By the way, my grilling skills are improving and I might be able to give a tutorial on using a charcoal grill in the near future.

Love those peppers!