2012 {year of grace}

After praying intentionally about a word to guide my year, God gave me the word “grace.”  I knew it wouldn’t be easy because I am not the most grace-giving person. Not by a long shot. (the year before was “believe” and the previous three years the same word surfaced over and over: “simplify.”)

I had been thinking to myself what a bad year 2012 was. Maybe it was just difficult to process? Because looking back, it was a pretty exciting and overwhelming year.  I was sick for a good portion of this year, but thankfully feel like I’m on the road to recovery.

I learned a lot about (perceived) friendships, letting go of negative things, spirit-driven friendships, listening to God, obeying God, trusting God, and God’s amazing grace.  I think I worked really hard on my creativity and am humbled at the opportunitities I’ve had to share the fruits of my labor. Which makes me so full of joy and peace and love…it’s almost inconceivable.  And that makes me think that God’s biggest lesson in grace was the hard and difficult work I did (not just physical work, but mental work) is rewarded by the hard-to-fathom peace, joy, and love that comes in the form of others appreciating what I do.

Walking through 2012 with “grace” as my guide, I realized grace isn’t just something I give, it’s something I receive daily. Not just from God but from people I share this life with.  Seems pretty simple, but sometimes I don’t see the simple things (thus three years of the word simplfy! LOL)

I hope I’ll learn to give grace as well as those in my life have given it to me.




  • invited to do my first solo art exhibition (not jut one show, but two in two different cities!)
  • Spent 6 straight weeks, 12+ hours a day,  creating 30 new paintings for the show.



    • “Grace Undone” my first solo exhibition of my career opened at the Hammond Art Center
    • I turned 40



  • Started private art lessons with Justin Vining
  • Planted a teeny, tiny garden, that turned out to be phenomenal!



  • helped facilitate our youth group’s Disciple Now weekend. This was one of the highlights of the year, seeing so many kids so in love with Jesus.
  • Taught my first Visual Prayer workshop at a conference (Mo*con, Indianapolis, IN)


  • dad nearly died on the same day mom did two years previous, but miraculously recovered.
  • The reason for the March-May fast became more clear.
  • Started painting and drawing lessons at the South Bend Art Museum


    • ended Visual Prayer monthly workshops after 2 years
    • One year later. Lessons learned after Phil being fired and being forced to a house and city we hadn’t chosen.
    • Friends Angie and Stan Poole visited from Texas, hadn’t seen my dear Angie since 2006!
    • Started to see a major improvement in my painting/drawing skills after several months of lessons



  • Forced to leave our church after our pastor and youth pastor moved on to jobs with the state and a pastor from the past reared his ugly head again.
  • kicked off my professional photography career, it had only been a hobby until this year
  • First ever street art show  (Miller Beach, IN)


    • went completely gluten free
    • Taught my first out-of-state Visual Prayer workshop (Creative Soul, Grayslake, IL)
    • completed SBC church planting “basic training”
    • Second street art show of the year (South Bend, IN)
    • Second solo art exhibition of my career (Cedar Lake, IN)


  • Third street art show of the year (Chesterton, IN)


  • Zane turned 13
  • Phil was hired at Con-way and started 13 weeks of management training, found out that it’s likely we’ll have to relocate.


  • “Limitless” tattoo!! (which will be my word for the decade. My 40’s will be Limitless!!)
Limitless tattoo
  • dad was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the throat with a huge tumor wrapped around his carotid and jugular. We didn’t think he’d make it to the end of 2012.


  • dad survived his simultaneous radiation and chemo treatments!! Doctors are now talking long-term remission!!
  • We are definitely relocating, yet we still don’t know where we’re going!


How Things Come Together When God Tries To Get My Attention

There are two major story-lines here. (I think)

I could go all the way back to my childhood, which I will, but to tell a tiny portion, instead of a complete memoir.  Most of it happens in present day.  Or at least in the last few years leading up to the here and now.

This story probably started years ago on this very blog. At least the part where I was honest and open (and crazy!)  So now, after unexpected detours, traffic jams, minor accidents, flat tires, snow storms, hurricanes, engine failures, and running out of gas…here we are.

So.  Here goes nothing.  God called me to write. (But this isn’t really about writing.) (Well, maybe a little.) (But mostly about holding things in.) I of course argued that I couldn’t and He told me I could.  The reason I was reminded of His calling on my life is because this morning I read chapters 1-10 of Jeremiah.  A few verses resonated with me (I’ll share those in a bit) which made me feel like if I should share this odd journey of mine.

That is the first story-line.

The second is with Relief Journal and The Midnight Diner also known as ccPublishing. The brief history is I submitted to a contest for Relief, was told the story was too genre–submit it to The Diner instead. I did. Told the story was too literary submit it to Relief. sigh. Shortly after, I was asked on as an editor for The Diner then the next year, asked on as Editor-in-Chief and the next year, asked to accept nomination of President of the Board of Directors of ccPublishing. I took over operations in January. Got the “office” delivered to my house around March. Had our first conference appearance with me leading the charge in April, the very same weekend my mom was admitted. I was with her almost every day until she died in June. While I was with her in her hospital room, I tried to keep up with the demands. Learning to run a company coupled with learning to be editor-in-chief of a publication all while your mom is dying and you’re trying to homeschool and be a mom and a wife–

Not fun.

Not at all.

No college education, no formal training in writing or publishing, not even a single published piece of work, yet here I stand, at the helm of one publication and overseer of both.  The titles make me cringe because I don’t think I’m qualified for these jobs (I know I’m not!!) Though I was entrusted with their care.

I have neglected not only the business of ccPublishing, but the people. Not totally by choice.  But a little by choice.  Mainly because I was overwhelmed with everything piling up.  Partially because I thought maybe after praying for a month about accepting the position of president, maybe I’d made the wrong choice and God was showing me the way out.  A teeny bit because the things I had to do flat-out were not fun.

And I was tired of being stressed out.

I did turn to God when it came to my mom, her illness, and her death. Like several times in the past, He saw fit to make me a pillar of stone, not to be toppled by grief.  He blessed me, allowing me to sing mom into eternity.  I was grateful. I was peaceful. I was His.

For the (Christian!) publishing company though, I, for whatever reason, didn’t turn to Him (aside from praying in the beginning as to whether or not that was in His will for me.)

I turned to blogging. Weird, huh?  I also started painting. I had already been doing Visual Prayer, messing with painting here and there but this unexplainable deluge of urgency poured over me, forcing my hands to create.  Plus photography.  My grief was coming out in all of these creative outlets.

I’d paint, take a photo, create, and blog it. It was very satisfying. (Still is, to be honest) Not because I want or need to be told people like me, I could care less who likes me. But in the creation itself. In the gift of creating given solely by the Creator.  That He would allow me time to do these things and He would use them to fill the awful emptiness of my soul. He didn’t punish me for not asking Him to fill me. He let me grieve.

I also started taking on more and more sponsors and opportunities for this blog.  Some companies (see the Buick post) treat you like royalty–and y’know what? Being wined and dined and given free stuff for a little review is FUN!

It was probably about this time I made some bad choices.  (I didn’t know they were bad.)  (I truly didn’t)  (They seemed all right.)

to be continued.

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10 Things My Relevant Roomie Should Know About Me

Don’t forget my Conference Survival Guide!

Confession: I don’t like having a roommate unless I know them beforehand.

Confession:  I have a Relevant Roomie. I don’t really know her. What I know is one of my good friends Re-tweeted her request for a Relevant Roomie and I thought they knew each other. Turns out, it was random. My friend just re-tweeted without knowing Brooke.  However, by the time I’d found out they didn’t know each other, Brooke and I had bonded over country music.

Go ahead. Laugh. 🙂  We did.

We’ve been having fun on Twitter describing our current mood with country music lyrics. Like, today, this is how I feel:

And I was listenin’ to the Opry
When all of my friends
were diggin’ Rock ‘n Roll and Rhythm & Blues
I was Country, when Country wasn’t cool

And if you’re so inclined, here’s the whole song:

Then God decided to throw a curve ball. I wasn’t having the best of days and the lyrics I posted were from a song played at my mom’s funeral in June.

@brookelmcg When I get where I’m going & I see my Maker’s face-I’ll stand forever in the light of His amazing grace.http://bit.ly/aX0AD6

The link is to the post Amazing Grace.  It’s the hardest post I’ve ever had to write. And guess who God put in my life at that moment in time?  Yep. My Relevant Roomie.  She tweeted back:

@michpendergrass “And I’ll leave my heart wide open. I will love & have no fear…” I understand sister. http://bit.ly/c7E5rZ

God constantly speaks to me in numbers and dates. Here’s one example, my post 12:26. I know God was up there giggling like a schoolgirl when I found out my Relevant Roomie and share the same birthday.


What are the odds?

God’s odds are so much different.

Brooke and I have decided that God’s up to something. We don’t know what. We can’t wait to find out. He’s got our full attention. And we know He’s bigger than we can imagine and we’re willing to bet that He’s got something in store for you, too. So we wanted everyone to post their own lists!

10 Things My Relevant Rommie Should Know About Me.

1. I snore. Especially when I need to see the chiropractor. I stop snoring after I see her. Chiropractor? Pedicure? Chiropractor? Pedicure?

2. I might be pure Yankee and bleed blue, but my heart belongs to the south. God misplaced me near Chicago but made it up to me by giving me a country boy with a southern drawl (and southern charm!)

3. I’m exactly 50% left brain and 50% right brain. That means I know it all. 😉

4. I write and read horror, Stephen King is my favorite author and no one will convince me that I can’t combine my love of Jesus with my ability to write horror.

5. I can’t remember how old I am unless I do the math. 2010 minus 1972…I’m 38. And I’m a grandma.  Don’t judge.

6. One of our kids is married with our beautiful grandson, one of the kids is a senior in college, and the other is in sixth grade and homeshooled by yours truly.

7. I love Jesus but I drink a little.  (If you’ve never heard that, try Google.)

8. I’m also exactly 50% introvert and 50% extrovert. I can turn it on and be extrovert, but when the conference is done and over, I hide in my house for days on end and I don’t leave.

9. I love my life. I love my husband. I love my kids and grandkids. I don’t know anyone quite as content and happy as we are.

10. I was thin, then my thyroid went kaput. Now I’m fat and happy. I’m grateful that I’m no longer sleeping 19 of 24 hours a day and will choose this fat body over losing my ability to function any day.

Bonus: 11. I wanted to be Barbara Mandrell when I was little and there was nothing more exciting for me than waiting for the next Mandrell Sisters show to come on.  (Ok, maybe waiting for the next Quincy, M.E. show.)

* * *

Your turn! Link up!

Edit to add this great news!! Lindsey from The Pleated Poppy is giving away a gorgeous covered notebook to one of you just for linking up!

the pleated poppy blog

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Thanks to Feld Entertainment, my sponsor for Relevant10!