Shabby Love

I’ve always loved big old Victorian houses with creaky floors and crooked doors. When we were first married and talking about buying a home, I suggested my grandparents home, which was a three story home with grand pocket doors and ornate woodwork. He said NO.

I am drawn to vintage items with lots of wear and tear. In fact, the rustier, more dented and distressed, (except on my piano) the better. Then one day, while perusing Pinterest, I discovered that style had a name. “Shabby Chic”, popularized by designer, Rachel Ashwell. Instantly in love, I spent the next several years updating our decor to incorporate antiques and items with chippy layered painted, repurposing old doors and thrift store finds, and sanding woodwork to give it a natural distressed feel. Turns out others like it too as the phenomenon has entered all of the coolest home stores across America. Most of those items are manufacturers, though, and most of mine are true vintage.

For a look at previous shabby, chalk painted project, see Restoration through Craigslist

The picture below is the set of closet doors in our Master Bedroom that I finished this fall (ideas from Pinterest).  You’ll notice the distressed shiplap wall behind the door – inspired by Joanna Gaines, it gives our bedroom a nice old cottage feel to it – comfortable and lived in, just like me. Our bedroom update was done just this past summer, and I truly love how peaceful it feels now. The doors were a Craigslist find a few years ago, and I knew what I’d do with them evenually – they needed stained and painted with several layers of paint, then polished with dark furniture polish to give them an “aged” appearance.  I love the way they turned out.   (Incidentally, the dresser beside the doors is also a Craigslist fine – a set of two that I “reburbished” and aged this past summer – I also love the way they turned out..

Below are some of the antique and distressed items I’ve collected, many of them on Craigslist, some in resale and antique shops, and some from my own family. Everyone has an old “explosives” box, right? And a finger-joint music box? The scrolled corner shelf and mirror were from my grandfathers house. The tea cups were moms, and their display stand came from my favorite resale shop in Greensburg, PA. The loveseat (adorned with my dog below) was a Craigslist find that was originally an olive green and maroon brocade. Rather than reupholstering (which seemed daunting), I dyed it brown, which turned the shades of olive and maroon into various shades of brown. I love the way it turned out.

In my laundry room hangs an antique ironing board. When it was given to me, it was covered in tattered fabric which I removed. Upon removing the fabric, I discovered the wonderful burn mark deep into the wood! It was glorious, and I made up a story in my head that accompanied the burn! I knew instantly I’d have to make something special with it to hang in my laundry room! Because I’m good at spilling food on my clothes, I settled in the on the saying I painted:

The shelf below I made for my sons room when he was a baby. One of his baby blankets used to hang from it. I’ve repurposed it in our bedroom and set the wooden advice board on it, along with the fleur de lis set I found at an antique shop in West Virginia and the jade glass vases I found at Goodwill.

For me, this shabby chic style was “love at first sight”, I believe mostly because I connected with it. This style hollers,


which describes me to a T. It shouts, “fix me up!” and “make me new”, and that’s just what God did with me. Oh, I’m far from perfect, like the items in my house, but my dents and scratches, bruises and scars give me character (at least I like to think so). But like the items in my house that each have a story to tell, I can share my mistakes and bumps and bruises with others to encourage them or help them along their way.

Shabby but happy, be blessed today, my friends!


How the battle is won…

“The battle is won twice – the first time in your mind”

I can’t take credit for the above quote, but it is so freaking profound and it applies to absolutely everything in my life.    Literally, every time I start a workout, I have to battle my mind, multiple times, for different reasons throughout the entire process.  The first group of battles occurs before the first step of the workout…


  1. The first battle is TIME..    I know this workout is going to take 50-60 minutes… that’s an HOUR of a day…(not counting stretch time, which I cheat sometimes, and shower time after the workout) and in the life of someone ridiculously busy, that’s a long time, so I have to battle myself.  It’s easy to an outside observer to say, “easy… all you have to do is look at it like a 60 minute investment in your health”… ok, I get that.. but (just being honest), in real life, that isn’t necessarily the argument that wins the battle.
  2. A split second behind TIME is, COLD.    Since my bike trainer and bike are in my garage, and, in western PA, it’s winter (and a very cold one at that), there’s something unappealing about being cold..  but the truth is, when I wear a hoodie and leggings, I’m chilly for the first .5 mile and then I actually get hot biking, so it’s an invalid argument that my mind tries to make up.

So how do people combat these battles to get started?  For me, it’s simply brute force…. just do it.  Don’t think too long about it, just do it…


  1. The next battle is perhaps FATIGUE? It usually occurs about 20 minutes in… on about the 4th song of my playlist if I’m listening to it (sometimes when I ride the bike, I listen to podcasts instead – to kill two birds with one stone).  It’s about this point that I start to think, “ok, has it been long enough…really?”  The weapon I use here is to trick myself into just listening to one more song… and then about the time I get to Anitconformity, my mood changes – probably because of the pace of the song.   After the song, then I’m in “I can do this” mode, and I’m usually good for the remainder of the workout, until..
  2. The last in-process battle occurs in the very last .25 of the workout…  especially when watching the computer on the stationary bike or treadmill.  I can’t explain it, but for some reason, the last quarter mile seems to be so much longer than all of the rest, it literally feels like watching a pot of water boil.  Probably only my doggedness gets me through this battle.

When I’m finished, and I can chalk some miles up to my journey, I’m always glad I did it.


On a larger scale than the daily workout, if I am honest, there is a longer-term battle I fight with myself that asks, “is what you’re doing even making a difference?”  It’s difficult to see daily progress, not only in physical workouts, but in other areas of life as well.  Sometimes it’s necessary to stop what you’re doing, look around and see how far you’ve come.


They say (whoever “they” are) that it takes 4 weeks of working out for you to notice a difference in yourself – 8 weeks for close friends to notice and 12 weeks for the rest of world to notice…   so keep at it… Rome wasn’t build in a day.


When you’re thinking about quitting, just remember this…

images (3)



Crying Out…

Deep, deep within the innermost depths of my soul lies a darkness so black it suffocates.

Of anything I’ve ever written, this is my absolute favorite. To be honest, I think it’s because, without realizing it when I wrote it, it so perfectly describes who I am at my very core… someone who desperately wants to help other people find themselves, but is so desperately broken myself.

In the darkness of this world, we all so desperately need Jesus. Without Him, I’d still be the person in the poem. But for God, I’d still be in the forest.

Click the link below to go to the original post:

I Cried Out



Copyright 2019 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

All that we see or seem…

Edgar Allan has long been my absolute favorite American writer – I think I fell in love with his work in late elementary school, perhaps early junior high.  A tragic life, his works are drenched with his darkness, which intrigues me to understand his psyche.  Somehow, at times, I feel a deep connection to that darkness.

My favorite Poe work has always been Annabel Lee, a poem about true love that was separated prematurely through death. However, of late, I find myself connecting most with this work, which I’ve included below, that you might enjoy as well..

His soul cried out…

A Dream Within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

The journey -the US tour and century ride

Hey, guys! Just a refresher about my fitness goals for the year…. to exercise enough miles this year to virtually tour across the US… NYC to LA.. accompanied by my playlist, I cover 4 miles on a treadmill in just under an hour. At that rate, it’s going to take a long time to travel across the US.

At the suggestion of a friend, I ordered two bike trainers from Amazon (one for me and one for my daughter). This adds biking at home to my repertoire since recent life events prevent me from spending quality/quantity time at the gym.

The trainers came with a quick release axle to mount my bikes axle to the trainer. The problem was that we don’t have quick release axles, so I thought I had to convert my bolt axle to a quick release. Turns out I don’t. I was able to simply take my back wheel and mount it right into the trainer and ride! (Not that I learned this after taking our rear wheels to the bike shop….;-)

So in the same time I can cover 4 miles on the treadmill, I can cover 16 miles on the bike. This will not only help me rack up some miles, but get the “seat” time my friend told me would be necessary toward my second goal… the “century” ride.. (or half century ride as is my current goal).

The Century Ride is a 100 mile bike ride we’re doing as a fundraiser for an upcoming missions trip to NYC this June. The ride is on June 8, my daughters birthday (she’s pretty excited about it. 😂). While I think 100 miles in one day may be a bit out of my league, my goal will be to join the team at the 50 mile mark and ride to the end. Others may join at the 25 mile mark if they want, and all the missions trip kids will join at the 10 mile mark if they haven’t joined before.

We got our bike trainers set up on Saturday and I rode the first 15 miles! I will say it’s pretty chilly in my garage right now as our temps in Western PA are below freezing. We’re expecting an arctic blast this week to take us below zero. (Yay!). However, with the right gear (which is more than a t shirt) and a few tenths of a mile and ya warm up!

I’m expecting to finally get off of me “Allentown” page this week. There are 81.76 miles on the page itself which will bring my total to about 182.71 by the time I finish the page.

And… as one who remembers when MTV first came out, I was super excited to find this workout T shirt at Walmart a few weeks ago!

I have 34 miles to go to get to Harrisburg. Hopefully I’ll get there by Tuesday or Wednesday.. I’m somewhere around 150 miles of my 2700 mile goal… on page 5 of 42 pages of google map printout.

Here’s to another week at it.

Just a couple of side notes I’ve observed… the whole workout thing generates more laundry… helps you sleep well (unless your dog wakes you) and leaves you feeling better overall.

Be blessed, my friends!


My Phillip

Find your Phillip… be a Phillip… show someone the way

Acts 8: 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,so he did not open his mouth.33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.Who can speak of his descendants?For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37 ]38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:26-39 | NIV

Several years ago, our pastor gave a sermon in the above passage. The points of his message were that we are called not only to be disciples of Jesus but to make disciples of Jesus and help to explain what we know to people who don’t know… not that we are anything special by what we know, or that we know everything, but to be open to being used by God to shine His Light on a dark world.

Later that afternoon, I got a text that simply said, “you are my Phillip”

What a humbling accolade. I was awestruck that anyone could feel that way about me, and I was honored and humbled at the same time. The awesome responsibility that comes with someone looking up to you weighs heavily, as I have many, many faults and fissures. I have made plenty of mistakes in my life. I have found, though, in both parenting and mentoring, it’s best to be honest and transparent about my shortcomings which creates trust, and an element of learning together that builds relationships. It is in the muck of relationships that hearts are won or lost. I am thankful to have continued that connected relationship for we have taught each other many things over the past few years.

It is important, too, to have our own Phillip to help guide and mentor us, even as we guide and mentor others. I have a Phillip (actually several if I’m honest) and reach out to them for advice from time to time.

Who is your Phillip? If you don’t know, keep your heart and mind open for them and ask God to show you. Find a Phillip who can help you navigate life’s toughest terrains, and be willing to be a Phillips to someone who needs you.

Be blessed,


Copyright 2019 Journey For Life all rights reserved

Getting what we want

My dog and I have been at odds for the past few weeks. He’s on a kick where he will wake me up multiple times throughout the night to go outside. It’s truly worse than having a newborn baby in the house. (Ok, maybe it’s not, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a newborn in the house).

At any rate, last Saturday, we had fallen asleep with the TV on as we often do, when, at 1 am, the dog woke me up. As I returned to bed, I heard the familiar voice of Andy Stanley giving a message on getting what you want. In my year of WAIT, my ears perked up. I stayed awake long enough to hear the message and thought I’d remember to look it up to listen again. The next morning came and went and I forgot all about it.

This past Saturday, same thing. Exactly at 1 am, the dog once again woke me up, and we returned to bed to hear the second part of the series that had started last Saturday. Coincidence? Or Godincidence?

The series is entitled:

How to get what you really want

Turns out there’s an app for it also, so you can watch any series he’s had. I’ve long been a fan of Andy Stanley, not only as a spiritual leader, but just a leader role model in and of himself. I’ve read several of his books on leadership and attended the Catalyst Convention several years ago. One of the things I appreciate most about Andy is that, although he is an Incredible leader and spiritual mentor, he comes across humbly, as someone who also struggles with temptations. He is real. Genuine. I appreciate that, as someone who struggles sometimes to live my life faithful to what I’ve been called.

Similar to stopping when I heard Renner a few weeks ago, I stopped to pay attention. I believe God allows these kinds of thing to happen to get our attention.

English Standard Version
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15)

He started his message with the Apostle Paul saying “why do I do the things I don’t want to do and not do the things I want to do?” Andy’s message was essentially this: Don’t trade what you ultimately want for what you want immediately. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be deceived into thinking what you want in the immediate is what you want forever. Following Jesus will make your life better because He will point you to Ultimate instead of immediate, valuable instead of natural. We will never get what we really want until we understand what we really value, and when we understand our value in Christ Jesus.

I’ve got the app now and am hoping my dog sleeps through the night on Saturday, but know I can still catch the message!

Great message.

be blessed


Now is not forever

Years ago, I worked as a mentor in a program called Life Hurts, God Heals.

It was a 12 step program designed to help kids between 11-25 who are struggling with addiction, be it cutting, substance abuse, toxic relationships.

One of the healing axioms we used was


This phrase serves as a great reminder that what we’re going through today, even though if feels like it’s devastating us, will not last forever.

To those in recovery (from anything), these are important words. A friend in recovery used to give me the coins she earned for each step along the way. The first was was for 24 hours sober. Just 24 hours, but such a huge step to someone in recovery!

For most of the teens in the program, their whole lives revolves around the drama from which they were trying to escape. Most of them hadn’t yet experienced enough of life to learn this principal, that this, too, a shall pass.

In her book, Masquerade , Charissa describes feeling that way with the death of a particular friendship that meant the world to her. She didn’t know this phrase at the time, nor fully understand the principal, but as enough time passed, she learned.

Over the past few weeks in our youth group, we’ve been discussing FORGIVENESS. In the process of forgiving one another, time is an essential ingredient to heal our hearts when we’ve been wronged or have wronged others.

If you feel like you’ve been kicked in the teeth by life or circumstances lately, just remember that now is not forever. Sleep on it. Keep putting one foot in front of another, over and over until enough time has passed for you to realize you WILL survive the crisis.

Be blessed today, my friends


Copyright 2019 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.

If you’ve read Masquerade already, I thank you! If you haven’t, pick up a copy today! If you have and you enjoyed it, please consider writing a review! Thank you!

Church is…

I didn’t write this and I don’t know who did. A friend posted it on their Facebook page.. Very good read—

“Church is hard.

Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.

Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.

Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.

Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.

Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.

Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.

Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.

Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.

Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.

Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.

Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.

Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.

Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.

Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.

Church is hard for the sinners.

Church is hard for me.

It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.

However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.

But, here is the beauty of church—

Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.

Church is a body.

Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.

Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.

Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.

Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.

Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.

Church is a lesson in faith and trust.

Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.

Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.

Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.

So even on the hard days at church—

The days when I am at odds with a friend, When I’ve fought with my husband because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.

I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.”

The ground is level at the foot of the cross. All of us have a story. I know that not all churches are healthy, but blessed is the person who finds a church where they can feel welcomed despite their failures, and grow in healthy ways with people who encourage you every step of the way.

None of us have it all figured out. We all need Jesus.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came in Christ Jesus”

Be blessed,