Jan 1, 2015

Word of the Year: Adventure

Do you set New Year's Resolutions each year?

I usually do. I wake up on January 1st and think of all the things I wish were different about my life. Then I proceed to make a list of what I am going to do in the next year to change those.

Not a bad approach, right?

There is just one problem with it. It NEVER works!

So this year I am doing something different. I am choosing one word, just one to focus on for the entire year. For 2015 I choose...


Now that may seem like a strange word for me to pick but let me explain. When I think of the word adventure, usually the first thing that comes to mind is something fun and exciting, setting off into the unknown. But when I consider it deeper I realize that it encompasses so much more. Things like:

A broader world view

For the first time in a long time I am excited and looking forward to all that is ahead in the coming year.

As with any adventure I know there will be ups and downs, ebbs and flows. Take the adventure of child raising for example. For some reason kids just don't stay the same. Funny, isn't it?! You think you get something about them figured out and then they up and get emotional or start dealing with hormones or learn some new attitude trick. I am grateful that God has entrusted me with the raising of two young ladies, and I pray that I can demonstrate for them how to first of all love Jesus with their whole hearts, to be real, and to extend the love and grace they have received to others around them.

When I mentioned the word adventure including dreams I am telling on myself here. A year ago I was struggling quite a bit with discouragement bordering on depression. During those dark months I could pretend that everything was okay when it really wasn't, and sometimes I could even fool myself into thinking that I didn't have a problem. I prayed. I read my Bible. I journalled. I took long walks on the beach when I was alone. God never left my side. Sometimes when you have a traumatic event take place in your life, the fall-out and emotional reconciliation take a l-o-n-g time to come to the surface. This is just me and a part of my journey. Everyone processes things differently.

During that time I realized I no longer had big dreams. You know, growing up I had all sorts of plans and hopes for the future like any girl. I got married and my dreams got bigger! Traveled to Europe and I made it to the doorstep of that dream castle I was building in my head. God blessed me with a baby girl and I peeked inside the big door; life was exciting and full of promise! I got to take a few steps into my castle: purchased a new home, traveled, found out I was pregnant with my second miracle baby. And then the walls came tumbling down. My marriage ended and I spent the next few years having a baby, raising two girls, and just keeping life on the tracks. No time for dreams...a lot of the old ones were tied to memories I wanted to forget.

It was just me and God.

Looking back I can see a part of His beautiful handiwork in what transpired next, but I would be lax in my explanation if I did not say that at times I questioned and even denied that the path before me was the one to travel. As I've mentioned here, I started working from home in March of this year, and what a ride it has been! The biggest take away? Personal growth. While addressing some of my health issues has helped with my hormonal balance and I no longer have those dark days, learning and really trusting that I am in God's will has taken me on a journey that has truly changed my life.

And so begins the process of building new dreams. How different they look than the ones I had many years ago! But that is what makes them so exciting and a part of the adventure I am on this year.

God can do anything with my life. I am holding on and about to see what that is going to be!

Dec 18, 2014


I just have to share because I am so thankful and happy for Kimberly! This past summer we had many conversations about whether or not she should continue taking violin lessons this year with her wonderful violin teacher, Mrs. Holland. Kim enjoyed the performances and the lessons, but as with anything one is attempting to learn, the practices in between were challenging and, I must admit, a source of trying times for the two of us. So when we learned about the Central Coast Children's Choir, a local group of young people in our area, Kim jumped at the opportunity to join them and take a break from violin. 

She has not looked back! Watching her grow in her musical talent and seeing the excitement in her daily when we talk about choir has been a joy to me as her mother. When conversations start with, "Mom, I am so sad there are three whole weeks until we get to sing together again!"... that tells me we are in the right place. Music feeds her soul, and the confidence she is exhibiting is thrilling to watch. My little songbird.

*Whisper* And she practices all the time without needing reminders!! 

Big win.

The Winter concert was just last weekend, and I must say that I was impressed. Almost 80 young people sang, a combination of 5 different choir levels, for 2 hours. Wow. I'm thankful for the blessing of having my daughter be a part of such dedicated and talented young people. 

Have a listen!

Jul 2, 2014

Life in Reverse

Hard to believe that almost three weeks of our summer vacation have sped by already! On Sunday night of this week I declared a "Stay At Home No Matter What Monday" (barring unforeseen circumstances, of course), and we did it!

It was lovely to hop in the car on Tuesday morning and realize the tires were in the same spot we left them on Sunday night.

It was not, however, lovely to realize that Lindsay's bike was in a different spot and therefore her bike seat now resembles a taco minus the lettuce and cheese.

You know, I was never going to be "that mom" who runs over her kids bikes and toys in the driveway. I mean, it can't be that difficult to check the rear view mirror or even peek behind the car before pulling out, right?

True confession time.

I have now graduated to that esteemed category. One bike seat and one scooter wheel in one week. Must be a record.

Remember library catalogs? (Yes, I am showing my age by that question!) I find it interesting to feel categorized. It is as if you could now pull out the drawer titled, "ME-MU" and find my name nestled under the heading of

"Moms Who Run Over Bikes In Driveway"
Jill Whaley 630.14 

Well, I guess we all have to be remembered for something!

Hope you all are enjoying the little moments this summer!

Apr 24, 2014


Yes, it appears I have been missing in action around here! Not on purpose, I assure you.

You know, sometimes I talk about the unexpected twists and turns that come our way in life. It just so happens that we had a full hairpin turn last month! Several of you have asked off and on what I do for work or if I am looking for a job. God has graciously provided for me to be able to stay home and raise my girls over the past six years. For that I am truly grateful and undeserving.

Last September I started volunteering at a local non-profit thrift store and had the opportunity to work with some wonderful Christian women. It was just what I needed at that time, but a couple of months ago I felt that God was leading me in a new direction, one that would lead to employment. As I began searching the help wanted ads for a job nothing waved a flag to say "pick me!". Either the times were wrong and I wouldn't be able to get my kids from school, or the hours were too long, or the commute was too far. I even went for one job interview but left afterward knowing the job wasn't what God had planned for me. It's a wonderful feeling to know peace even when the pieces aren't fitting together just how I think they should fit! I decided to wait. Not for something to fall in my lap, but to be still for a bit and see what the Lord had in store.

Come the end of March, I was reading a post on a blog I have been following for a couple of years and the author started talking about a product and company called Plexus. After researching everything I could find about the company and products, and spending some time praying about the opportunity, I felt that this was the place God wanted me to be right now.

Can you say Unexpected and Not What I Would Have Ever Dreamed I'd Be Doing?!

What a blessing Plexus has been in our lives so far! Not only have I had the opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with old friends, and create stronger relationships with acquaintances, I am experiencing amazing positive changes in my health as well.  The best part about it is that I have the privilege of helping people find answers and relief from health issues. On top of all that, Plexus is providing for our family financially as well.

Have I always trusted God 100% to provide what we needed when we needed it? Not always. I am humbled by His graciousness in understanding my frame when I have been anxious or wanting to rush ahead and see the future plans He has in store, and I am grateful for the times when I have been able to return the worries about employment to His hands and consciously make a choice to leave them there. He has certainly never failed me! As I sit here I can feel a bit teary about how generously He has provided for me and my girls. And I love the way that provision is usually a bit different that I would have reasoned it out to be. Just one more way He shows His love!

So that's what has been taking up my time and brain space lately. If you want to read more about my new adventure, you can click here or on the tab above that says My Plexus Story. Happy reading!

Feb 6, 2014

Skinny Dip

So I have been reading the Sarah Plain and Tall series to my girls this week, and one of the aunties in the story goes skinny dipping in the ocean. That, of course, required a detailed explanation including what, why, and how. And it must have made an impression because the topic came up again tonight at bedtime from Lindsay, to which I replied:

"Would you ever go skinny dipping?" 

"No. Never. There would be boys!"

"Well, you would go somewhere where there were no people, somewhere private", I prompted. "It's against the law to do that in public places anyway. You could get arrested."

"But people would see you!" she still insisted. "And a policeman would come."

"Okay, how about with your husband someday..."

"Well, that would be alright. I mean, he could see you. And if a policeman came you could just tell him that it's your husband so it's okay."


Jan 9, 2014


Remember way back here when I was dreading the beginning of school for Lindsay and wondering what life was going to be like? Well, guess what. I survived it. Thinking back to that time reminded me of this mental list I had going on to do in "all my spare time once school starts". It read something like a housekeeper's nightmare, including entries like reorganize entire house and prepare dinner in the mornings to save afternoon time for playing with children.

Ummm... totally unrealistic.

Most of that list never materialized for obvious reasons. I can think of one time when dinner was made and in the fridge prior to 2 pm. And the house never did reorganize itself, fancy that! Somewhere over the course of winter break I realized that our "stuff" in our home truly owns a piece of us.

It was the pantry that broke the proverbial camel's back. While I grocery shop on an almost-weekly basis and fill up the empty spaces in the cupboards and fridge, there are some things that hang out in the deep recesses of the pantry and the dark corners of the freezer that beg to be eaten or thrown out. So, with recipe book in hand, I tried an experiment titled How Many Days Can We Eat Out Of The Pantry Without Grocery Shopping.  Here's a little sneak peak into our findings:

Lessons Learned From the Bottom of the Freezer

"We've been having some really yummy meals lately, Mom," Kimberly commented at dinnertime one evening last week. 

I took that as an extreme complement.  You see, I hadn't been regular grocery shopping for two weeks, and "staples" shopping for much longer than that. My list was front and back on several scraps of paper stuck on the magnet board, scribbled in a combination of pencil, marker, and glitter gel pen notations. Challenging myself to come up with healthy, tasty meals from the bottom of the freezer encouraged me to bump up out the rut of routine recipes we eat regularly, put on my creative chef hat, and work some culinary magic in the kitchen.  That magic looked like cajun chicken tacos, spinach ravioli with garlic tomato sauce, and scrambled egg and potato wraps.

An unrealized side benefit to this experiment was the sense of freedom from the overabundance of surplus food we never took time to prepare and eat. And a whole lot of extra room in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.

We could have gone longer (17 days was our final number), and by that time we were really missing eggs.

And cheese and butter.

And shaving cream.

Oh, wait.

That's not a food. But I didn't want to step foot in a store for fear I would cave in and pick up some splurge item like mayonnaise and all would have been for not.

Now if we had been out of toilet paper...

So all of this experimenting made me realize how many, many extras we have in our lives. Does one person really need a total of 42 shirts, sweaters, and sweatshirts? (Yes, I counted and I'm not saying who). And how can two children truly enjoy and play with 29 stuffed animals?

So, one Saturday when I was by myself I attacked my room and the playroom with reckless abandon. If you had happened by on that particular day, or the next, or the next, or today, you might have thought I was moving. You would have been wrong. But I did have an impressive number of boxes to sell, bags to donate, and a jam packed trash can to set out at the road on Friday morning.

Even after a few days of clearing out I find I still have too many "things". It's been quite a journey so far discovering just how emotionally attached I can be to stuff and how freeing it is to release some of it. I am finding room in my life for more time with my family rather than more time for washing, drying, and hanging 42 shirts.  And I'm not through yet...

Jan 8, 2014

Overheard In The School Yard

With hands in our pockets to keep out the chill, I waited with Lindsay in line to ride the trikes around the playground this morning before the bell rang. Two vigorous young boys raced the bikes around the painted line on the blacktop and skidded to a halt in front of the next waiting child, then ran to the back of the line for another turn. As the line moved forward, Lindsay hopped on a bike and took off while those two young boys inched forward.

As I smiled and waved when Lindsay turned the corner, the first boy with blond spiky hair and a scrunched up nose turned to his friend and said, "The fast bike is going to be coming in first. Here, I'll switch places with you. You go first."

The second brown-headed boy looked incredulous. "But that means you'll have to use the slow trike! Why would you do that?"

Blondie shrugged his shoulder, gave a little grin, and said, "I don't mind the slow bike. Besides, I know you like the fast one better so you use it! It doesn't matter to me if I go faster or slower."

In the me, me, me world at elementary school, this conversation was balm to my soul. The little blond boy had a grasp of the importance of the relationship over the desire to get the better bike.  That's the kind of example I desire for my children, a win over selfishness (with which they struggle daily) while maintaining a healthy dose of self-confidence.

On closer inspection I realize that I struggle with selfishness daily too. I can be selfish with my time and my attention, while freely sharing correction and criticism.  It's easier to tell and boss than to lead by example, and when I am distracted by thoughts and ideas, the easy road is the one I take, much to my regret.

Recently I have been reading through the book of John, soaking in the being and person of Jesus Christ. Time after time Jesus turned from his intended destination or goal and stopped to talk to someone in need, heal a suffering soul, or offer comfort. Along with his love, he offered his time and attention to those he cared about most, humankind. In a way, he chose the "slow bike", valuing the relationships over his original plans. I want to be like Christ, reflecting a stillness that has time to recognize the needs and the people around me. How easy it is to get caught up in the fast pace of life and the enjoyment of activities and things!

Leave the fast bike for someone else, I want to go slow.