Dreamer’s Manifesto

“The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don’t know my story…” — Maya Angelou

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When you know in the deepest recesses of your heart that God has created you, called you, and commissioned you for more {the stuff dreams are made of} you will encounter many people on this thrilling adventure who will try to convince you otherwise.

People will try to thwart your dreams. Lean into your dreams.
People will try to convince you to stop. Press on.
People will say good bye. Let them go.
People will say mean things about you. Know His truth about you.
People will try to justify their actions. Speak truth.
People will hurt you. Forgive them to set you free.
People will slander your name. Know who you belong to. 
People will make you question your choices. Stand firm.
People will not understand your motives. Remember your vision.
People will be jealous. Work harder.
People will knock you down. Get up.
People will try to sell you short. Stand tall.
People will doubt you. Never doubt Who you believe in and the purpose for which He made you.

They will try to convince you of many things that are contrary to what you know. They will attempt to destroy your destiny, the very reason blood pulses through your veins. God’s vision for your life is what helps you continue walking when you want to collapse. Vision is what gives you reason to get up one more time. It sustains you, energizes you, and realigns you.

Never, not for one minute, give them any space in your mind. Don’t allow their cruel words to take root in your soul. For something is already growing there. Your dream, your vision, your very life. And these people are like weeds who will eventually choke the life out of your dream…if you let them.

No matter what or who comes your way, never forget who made you, who you are, and where you are headed. It will not be easy, but it will be the only thing that will give you rest for your soul. To know that you fought and won, bloodied and bruised, but valiant. Don’t ever let anyone take that from you. Your very destiny depends on it.

There will be few on your journey who will help you with weed control. They will be your team mates, your tribe. You may already know who some of these individuals are. If not, don’t pick them. Wait for God to show you who they are. He will. I promise. When the time is right, you will see your team forming.

Some people will love you. Love them more.
Some people will respect you. Respect them too.
Some people will offer to help you. Let them.
Some people will be very generous. Pay it forward.
Some people will show you the way. Mentor others around you.  

While you wait, love others. Serve others. Give of yourself. Be grateful for what and who you have in your life. Be mindful of the seeds you sow. Plant, water, and tend your land. You will harvest in due season.

You will begin to believe what they are saying about you. Memorize His truth about you.
You will want to isolate from others. Build a team.
You will doubt what you heard Him say. Trust His word.
You will question your choices. Remember you are chosen.
You will feel like an idiot. Look at all giants who came before you.
You will want to give up. Keep your eyes on the prize.

And the prize my friend, bigger than any dream you could ever dream, is obedience. Full throttle, wide-eyed, bigger than life obedience to the One who made you for this very moment. What God told you in the dark, bring forth into the light.

He will never leave you.
He believes in you. 
He created you for greatness in His Kingdom.
He knows you and loves you.
He is cheering you on.
He is your prize and you are His beloved.

I believe in you. I know you can do it. What or who are you waiting for? Today is the best day to start living your dream. Today. Right now. Get up and do one thing right now that will allow that light inside you to shine bright.

You won’t regret what you did, you will regret what you didn’t do.

Shine on, beloved. Shine.

 

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” — Maya Angelou

Not For the Faint of Heart

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He holds on tightly to his yellow #2 like it’s his life line. His eyes focused intensely on his math problems. Silence. When he finishes his 3 pages, he looks up, towards me, but never connecting his soul windows with mine.

“Mom…are you mad at me?”

“No, baby. Why would I be mad at you?”

“Because you yelled….at Callie.” His little heart aching and his mind not understanding.

“I didn’t yell, Sean. I raised my voice the 5th time I asked Callie to get her work done. She was goofing off and not being serious about her school work.”

“But it felt like you yelled at me.” This time his and my sea blue eyes meet and a wave of emotion knocks me down.

I let the tears roll. So does he. Callie is watching all of this transpire. I feel like a failure. Sean is heart broken. And Callie is finally doing her work. For goodness sakes…

My kids are so different. And they need to be parented differently.

Sean is tenderhearted and looking at him the wrong way elicits a meltdown. I can totally relate.

Callie is my firecracker. She is fierce and determined. A natural born leader. And she will argue with me or you or anyone willing to get into the ring until she gets you to say yes to something. Anything.

And honestly, it wears me out sometimes.

One of my biggest fears as a mom is crushing my children’s spirits. I want to shepherd their hearts and love them according to their bent or temperamental God-given design.

And sometimes, when I do this, one of them will get caught up in the aftermath of a parenting tornado as I try to think quickly on my feet and utter the prayer of my friend Peter, “HELP!”

Can you relate?!

Being a mom is by far the hardest and most amazing calling I’ve ever accepted. I know I won’t get it all right, but I pray I am humble enough to apologize and ask for forgiveness when I’m wrong. I also pray I am firm enough with my children, yet shepherd their hearts so they can grow and develop their own God-given ways.

And if not, Sean will keep me straight…or at least we can cry together! HA!

Choices and Opportunities

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Another year is upon us. I am looking forward to 2014. After the thrills and spills of 2013, who knows what 2014 has in store??

As a Life Coach, this is a very exciting time. Turning the page to a new year means different things for all of us. I love to partner with ladies as they make choices and design steps and action plans for their lives.

Coaching is a powerful opportunity that gives clients the room to ponder, question, extrapolate, brain storm, and reach for their desires. It is not merely a discussion or a how to manual. Coaching is a dialogue between two individuals. The coach is not the expert. The client is the expert on her life. 

The coach never tells a client what to do. Coaches don’t give advice even when asked. Coaches listen intently without an agenda and ask open-ended questions. 

One of the questions I often ask people who are interested in coaching, but don’t hire a coach is: what keeps you from hiring a coach? I get these two responses 90% of the time:

1. It costs too much.
2. I don’t have time.

After pondering these responses over the years, I decided to add a new package to my existing coaching packages. Starting in 2014, I am going to offer a cost-effective, yet powerful monthly coaching package:

**4 (30) minute coaching calls
**$199.00 per month

This is a fantastic way to jump-start your action plan or bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be in your life. And remember coaching is not for everyone. Coaching is not counseling, therapy, consulting, mentoring, or a form of discipleship. And mentioned earlier, the coach is not the expert and the client is healthy, creative, and resourceful.

I believe in the power of coaching. It has changed my life and I have witnessed many others experience the benefits of coaching. Please email me if you have any questions!

Praying 2014 is full of love, joy, and peace. Happy New Year to you and yours!

PS…my coaching website is undergoing a renovation. The new coaching package will be listed on the new site. AND! Soul Graffiti will be representing in the internet world with a landing page of its own very soon! Stay tuned!!!

 

{Merry Christmas 2013}

The greatest gifts can’t be purchased. They are meant to be opened every single day of our lives. Time with each other doing the things we enjoy the most. Talking about and doing things that will never make the front page of the New York Times or highlight the pixels of your screen as you read the latest Huffington Post update.

I am blessed beyond measure. The best gifts this Christmas have already been opened. I am grateful for the greatest and most powerful relationship in my life. Jesus is the reason I am. May His coming this Christmas season create wonder and fill you with joy.  From our home to yours, Merry Christmas. 

These pictures were taken recently during a photo shoot at Pullen Park. My husband was working and a dear friend volunteered to capture some photos for my website. We snuck in a few of the kids as well. They were more than willing to oblige!

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Judging a Book by Its Cover

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What a year it’s been. My blog has been quiet lately. I have had a lot to say, but I haven’t had the words to say them.

I am still in amazement of all that God is doing. I don’t understand it. I don’t even want to understand it…anymore. I want to enjoy it. Every minute of it. I have spent most of my life trying to figure things out. I get paid to help others figure things out.

But, when it comes to the creative process, there are things you just can’t figure out.

“Lizzie, the harder you try to figure out the magic, it disappears. The magic is where the Spirit is at work. Don’t suck the life out of it by trying to make it black and white. Some things you don’t need to understand…just enjoy them. Live them. Pause and breathe it all in.” A wise sister friend humbly shared this with me recently. Wow…

I am a self-confessed type A control freak. It is very hard for me to sit still. It is painful. I acquired it straight from the gene pool. My mind never shuts off. It is always working on ideas, chewing on new concepts, processing data, and chasing squirrels. Unfortunately, I have also passed this onto my oldest. Lord, help us.

Along with this disposition, I am also firm in my beliefs. However, I never try to force my beliefs onto others. I am open to sharing them when I am asked, but I will not try in any way to convert anyone to my Jesus loving, gluten-free eating, home school championing, bold colorful painting, working out often ways. I am okay with me being me and with you being you.

I aim to be curious instead of critical. I hope to be encouraging and not evasive. I dare to live a life where I am fully human living on the edge of an encounter with the Divine at any minute. I don’t believe in luck. I believe in being prepared to be amazed at any given moment. Astonished by Glory. Surprised by Joy. Satiated by Love. Marveled by Wonder.

And living on the edge between the present and my very real future, always allows for some intense scrutiny. Anytime you step out and step up, you will encounter those who want to step on you and your dreams.

During three different encounters this year (that I’m aware of!), I have been the topic of discussion regarding my choices and my calling. I have been called names. I have been accused of things. I have been misunderstood.

It has been a very difficult year in some ways. However, it has also been one of the best years of my life. I have learned more by living on the edge than I ever would have learned by backing down or choosing to live small.

I was deeply encouraged yesterday by this quote from Ann Voskamp: “When you disagree with someone — don’t dismiss them. Dialogue with them.”

If I could summarize my thoughts during the past 12 months, I would hope to increase awareness of dialoguing with others instead of judging a book by its cover. Dialogue to me is real conversation with real people. Here are a few things I’ve learned and hope you will aim for in all your relationships:

1. Seek first to understand.
2. Ask open questions that leave room for real and honest answers.
3. Listen without an agenda always expecting the best.
4. Aim to discover or learn more about the differences.
5. Accept the differences and the tension they present instead of trying to change them.
6. If it’s not yours don’t share it.
7. Speak with love when you share your story and your opinions.
8. 
Even if you disagree, choose love instead of hate. Love wins every single time. 

It’s not about political correctness, it’s about people awareness. Underneath our many varied skin colors and clothing choices, we all have a precious soul. So precious that no other person ever has or ever will be made like you.

In the playground of life, can’t we all just try to get along? There will always be differences, but they don’t have to destroy us and our relationships. Expect the best…I pray you are surprised by the possible outcomes.

Gluten Free Dressing for Thanksgiving — Yes! It’s possible!!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and great gluten free food, I wanted to share my tried and true gluten free recipe for dressing or stuffing. I LOVE stuffing SO much that I made a video for you to go along with the recipe. Here is the video on YouTube:

And here is the recipe. Enjoy!

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Gluten Free Dressing for Thanksgiving

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium onion diced
1 medium carrot diced
2 stalks celery diced
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
4 cups gluten free cornbread diced into cubes
4 cups gluten free loaf bread diced into cubes
2 cups of gluten free chicken stock (may need more depending how much your bread soaks it up)
1 cup fresh cranberries that have been cooked with 1 cup of water and ¼ cup of sugar until softened     (this takes approximately 20 minutes)
2 tablespoons butter cut into 8 pieces (omit to make dairy free)

Cook onions, carrots, and celery in coconut oil until softened. Season with salt, pepper, and sage. Mix cooked, seasoned vegetables with the 8 cups total cornbread and GF bread. Add 2 cups of chicken stock. Add more if mixture seems too dry. Add cooked sweetened cranberries. Taste to see if you need to add more salt, pepper, or sage. Pour mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish that has been oiled. Place 8 pieces of butter on top of dressing mixture. Omit this step to make the dish dairy free as well as gluten free. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or longer if you desire a crunchier dressing on top. Hope you enjoy!

When you wonder if your words matter…

As a wife, mama, daughter, friend, life coach, artist, speaker, writer, I use a lot of words. I’ve always been told I have a lot to say. I wonder if that’s the positive twist on you talk too much.

As I’ve gotten older and maybe a little wiser, I talk a little less and listen better, with intentions. Not with an agenda, but with ears to hear what hearts are saying and needing. But you never arrive in the game of life. And I am continuing to learn.

I have a great teacher right now…a little boy in my life who has a powerful voice. He’s been in speech therapy since he was 3.5 years old. Two years ago this month, we started with our amazing speech therapist, Ms. Renee. Little did I know that she would become such an integral part of all of our lives. We love her like she is family. What we pay her will never be enough.

She has helped Sean in so many ways. I have learned a lot from her as well. Most importantly, I have learned that our words matter. All of them. All of the time.

Sean is a clutterer, meaning he talks so fast that all of his words clutter together. Not only did he get my phenotype when it comes to looks, but he also got my linguistic speeding tendencies.

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I remind Sean almost daily during our home school routine, “Slow down, buddy. Your words are important and I want to hear all of them.”

He smiles, shakes his head, and replies with, “I know mommy, I know!”

Not only does my sweet little speed talker have a powerful voice, he also has a powerful memory. He has absorbed so much this year in Kindergarten just being present and listening to what I am teaching to both him and Callie. One word: SPONGE!!

He lies in bed at night saying: “If you have 17 and you take away 9, you have 8. So, that means 9 plus 8 is 17.”

Eating his snack at the table while I’m wiping down counters in the kitchen he says: “If you have 10 batman people and you take away 7 batman people you only have 3 batman people left.”

Yes, he loves math. And for that I am grateful, but even more so, I am so humbled by his ability to use his words to speak love in a way that touches my soul.

On the way home from our mommy/son date this week, he said: “You know what makes me happy mommy? My family because we love each other so much…”

Yes, son. My sweet boy. My {now} child who will one day be a husband and daddy and amazing man of God. There’s power in our words. The power of life and death. I pray you will always use your God-given voice to give life and share love with all those around you.

Friends, your words matter. Every single one of them. People are always listening because we can all use more encouragement and less negativity. More courage and less comparing. More hope and less I told you so.

Who in your life could use some encouragement? Pick up the phone. Send them a text. Meet them for coffee. I can think of no better gift to give someone than the gift of your time and your words.

A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman: Book Review

I could use a million words to tell you how many ways and list all the reasons why I LOVE Emily Freeman’s new book A Million Little Ways.

However, since I think you should read Emily’s amazing book and not waste your time reading my lengthy review, I will refrain and use a few powerfully persuasive paragraphs.

Let me start by saying, you have to read A Million Little Ways. If you don’t have the money to buy it, I will buy and give you a copy. That’s how serious I am. I have nothing to gain from Emily selling copies of her book. Yes, I did get a free copy for writing this honest review, but I have already also purchased about a dozen copies to give away as gifts.

Yes, friends, it’s that good.

This is why…because every single page is all about you!

Yes, you. You becoming more aware of who you are in Christ and how He created you to be who you are. That my friends is art. And the best kind of art is a life well lived.

Emily will walk you through 12 chapters as you sink deeper into the knowledge of who you are in Christ. You are a masterpiece! Did you know that?

Okay, I promised this would be short. But it’s already getting long. Here are my final thoughts on A Million Little Ways:

Emily uses her God-given writing ability in A Million Little Ways to share her art with us. Like Emily, I believe there are a million little ways to let Christ in you shine, create, and change the world. And you don’t have to wield a brush and a palette to do it.

Your life is your canvas. Every single second is a stroke of life and energy on the canvas of your life.

What does your canvas look like? Remember there are a million little ways to get started. The first step just might be clicking right here to go to Amazon and order your copy of A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman! When you read it, let me know what you think. Can’t wait to hear from you!

A Confident Heart Devotional by Renee Swope: Book Review

With authenticity and wisdom, Renee Swope has written a devotional that will deepen your relationship with Jesus. In A Confident Heart Devotional, she uses a powerful technique that helps you use “God says…” statements to replace your “when I say…” statements.

I cannot think of a more powerful way to eradicate lies from your daily life than to replace them with the truth of God’s word. I have been using this devotional in the mornings as I spend time meditating on God’s word. It is more than your typical 5 minute morning devotion. I find myself chewing on the “God says…” statements all day!

A Confident Heart Devotional has 60 devotionals that will help you to meditate on truth daily as you become more aware of the “when I say…” statements. One example Renee uses is “When I say my life is too hard…” God says “I am with you in the middle of these trials. I will neither leave you nor forsake you.” What a powerful shift in perspective!

As a life coach, I partner with clients each week who are learning to discern truth from lies. I will recommend Renee’s new devotional to my clients. I was especially excited about Appendix B at the end of A Confident Heart Devotional. Renee compiled all of the “when I say….” statements with the “God says…” statements. Just this appendix is well worth buying the book.

I hope you will consider purchasing a copy of Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart Devotional. It would also make a fantastic Christmas gift. You can purchase a copy here from Amazon. If you read it, let me know what you think!

 

**I received a free copy of A Confident Heart Devotional by Renee Swope from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. My review are my personal thoughts and insights and reflect my honest opinion. 

When Art Stands Still: Day 22 of 31 Days of 2013

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Yesterday, Branch Academy took a field trip to Graham, NC and enjoyed The Art of the Brick hosted by the Alamance County Arts Council. It was amazing. Simply amazing. I felt like an 8-year-old for an hour while we savored LEGO art by Nathan Sawaya. You can find him on Facebook. He is known as the Brick Artist.

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I had so many take aways from our field trip. In some ways, I truly wonder if it was a field trip for me. I am learning that ART is everywhere. The lens of my God-given cameras, my eyes, are constantly being fed beautiful and moving creations. All I have to do is keep my eyes open.

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I have to stop and ask myself the question, why are they just now opening after so many years of dormancy?

I don’t know. And the best part, I don’t have to figure it all out.

I can just enjoy it.

Take it in.

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Savor the beauty.

So for now, I am standing still. Taking it all in. Savoring all the nuances of the world around me. My eyes are wide open. I can’t even begin to catch up.

I try to capture all that God is revealing to me, but it’s like trying to catch the rain. More keeps coming. I can’t possibly catch it all.

Live and give.

Open and release.

Let go and surrender.

There will always be beauty to savor. If your eyes are open…

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