Posted by: kathryngraves | August 23, 2017

Are You Aware

Goose bumps ran up my arms. The room vibrated with a drum cadence just before the crowd yelled the chorus, “I ran out of that grave!” And then the band and camp kids in the audience rocked out in a joyful expression of truth. We, as believers, have been rescued from the grave just like Lazarus was when Jesus raised him from the dead.

But right before youth camp, I felt a distance creep between myself and the Holy Spirit. I didn’t like it, and I wanted things to change, but nothing happened. So I prayed that while I was at camp, and attending a conference for writers the week after camp, God would do something.

In my prayer, I asked God to make me more aware of the presence of his Holy Spirit.

If you feel the same way I did, let me encourage you to pray that prayer. And then take concrete steps to put yourself into spaces where God is allowed to move. Where are these?

  • Your kitchen when nobody else is at home. Get out your Bible and read it. Then pray. This is the place I meet God every day. And He has shown me some pretty incredible things from scripture over the years.
  • Church. If it’s been a while since you’ve gone, go back. Seek out a church where the Bible is preached and the music touches you. I’m editing this post on a Sunday afternoon following powerful worship times at our church this morning.
  • A Bible study. A group study helps us stay focused.
  • A retreat or one-day event where the speakers and musicians are well-known, such as Women of Faith.
  • A conference or event offered by your local church outside the normal schedule.

people-2585962_640

Sometimes we need to be shaken up a little bit. Youth camp can do that for you if you’re over 30! But so can simply getting away from your normal routine for a few hours or a few days.

This prayer is one God will always answer with a “yes.” Let me describe how He answered it for me, because He didn’t stop with that song at camp.

  • Other songs at camp spoke to my soul, such as Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here.
  • The preaching at camp. One sermon in particular seemed pointed right at me.
  • Worship times sprinkles throughout the schedule at the conference.
  • Music by Jenny Owens at the conference.
  • A breakfast sponsored by Carol Kent and her Speak-Up Ministry.

The breakfast culminated the answer to my prayer. It was held in a spectacular hotel ballroom. After we ate, we stood in a circle around a grand piano. While Frances Drost led us in singing worship songs, the presence of the Holy Spirit hovered over us. And I doubled over with my face to the floor.

All the music settings could not have been more different. And yet, they each served a purpose in my search. This points out something–we need to be open to whatever God decides to do. I could have said the band was too loud, or the piano too classical. I could have said the worship time was just extra at the conference and opted out. I could have refused to go to camp as a sponsor. I could have been intimidated as a newbie at the conference.

But I was too hungry for a fresh wind from the Lord to let those sorts of thoughts get in the way. I experienced an amazing answer to my simple little prayer. And I think God is waiting to hear your prayer. He wants to show you something amazing, too.

blur-1867402_640

Photos: Pixabay

SaveSave

SaveSave

Posted by: kathryngraves | August 19, 2017

Changes Coming

Some exciting changes are coming to my website.

I am in the process of overhauling my site to better reflect my personality and focus. It will go “live” soon. However, these changes will not affect how you find me. In fact, it will be easier to find me because I am adding domain names. Of course, I’m keeping KathrynGraves.com. But the following will be added.

  • KathrynGravesChasingBeautiful.com
  • KathrynGravesWriter.com
  • KathrynGravesSpeaker.com
  • KathrynGravesWriterandSpeaker.com
  • TheKathrynGraves.com

My new site will allow me to offer future products in my “store.” It will give me new tools to help connect with you. I hope you will love it as much as I do.

As soon as you see it, be sure to become an email subscriber if you’re not already, so you don’t miss any other exciting news or products.

This current site will remain as KathrynGraves.wordpress.com. So you can always come back here to find older blog posts. But KathrynGraves.com is moving to the new site.

If I’ve confused you, please email me at Kathryn@KathrynGraves.com, and I’ll try to help you out.

Thank you for being such loyal followers. I love you all.

 

Posted by: kathryngraves | August 16, 2017

Confident Style

Does your crazy life make you tired? I talk to women all the time who tell me they forgot what “normal life” looks like. Their schedules overwhelm them. They struggle to keep it all together on a daily basis. I notice that their wardrobe choices often reflect their harried feelings. Many women dress the part, even though I’m sure they don’t realize it.

What does tired, frazzled, and rushed look like in terms of fashion?

  • Leggings, yoga pants, or old jeans
  • T-shirt left over from high school or college
  • Sport bra (or saggy old favorite)
  • Hair pulled back in a sloppy pony tail, no matter the occasion
  • Flip-flops or sneakers
  • No jewelry

When I see a gal dressed this way out shopping or in a restaurant, or anywhere other than in the gym, out running, or at the park with her kids, I know what her life feels like.

Is this the image you want to project, even if it is your reality? I know, we need to keep it real and not put on airs. But I have discovered that if I feel good about the way I look, it helps my attitude. My spirits rise. I’m more optimistic. The feel-good sensation leeks over into other areas of my life.

jimmy-bay-207388

This concept might sound shallow to you, but maybe that’s because you’ve never experienced its power.

What does a woman look like when she’s got it all together?

  • Great shoes
  • Pants or skirt appropriate for the occasion
  • A top that is not a t-shirt
  • Supportive foundation wear
  • Hair that looks freshly washed and styled
  • A bit of make-up, even if only mascara and a touch of blush
  • Some jewelry–minimum of earrings

Notice I listed great shoes first. Shoes can make or break an outfit. I was a slow learner of this principle. But now I’m convinced of its truth. I don’t own a lot of pairs of shoes because my feet are difficult to fit, but the ones I do have are fashion statements–complete with orthotic support.

Make-up is not a necessity if you have great skin and normally don’t wear it. But most of us are not so fortunate. Looking too pale sends the “tired” message loud and clear.

I’m not necessarily advocating washing your hair every day. On days we don’t, we can still opt for style, either with hair product or cute barrettes or clips.

The women who we think are beautiful are usually the ones who:

  1. Simply know how to wear their hair and make-up.
  2. Know how to accessorize their outfits.
  3. And they put a little effort into choosing their clothes.

But they are not necessarily drop-dead gorgeous, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

This can be you.

Is there one thing on the “put-together” list you can add to your morning routine?

I’d love you hear your experiences with dressing for confidence.

Photo: unsplash.com

 

SaveSave

Posted by: kathryngraves | August 9, 2017

Vacation Mode

My mind has left me. No, not like that! It has gone into vacation mode. Unlike most of my friends, our vacation had to wait until the end of summer. My schedule up until August made me crazy. But at last, the time arrived for me to step back, relax, and enjoy a real vacation.

Earlier in the summer I tried substituting vacation planning for the actual vacation. In the evening I’d sit in a comfy chair with my laptop. I’d peruse possible cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and national parks. They looked nice–and expensive. With a sigh, I’d close my computer and pick up a book to read. At least my imagination could carry me far away.

Last week our kids met us at the lake for a week of watery fun. Some highlights:

  • Simply being together–We don’t all live in the same state, so family lake week is a treat
  • Reading on the deck in the afternoon.

IMG_0511

 

  • Long boat rides, water skiing, and tubing.

IMG_1268

  • Swimming at the boat dock.
  • Poppy and Carson fishing every morning.

IMG_0421

  • Gorgeous sunsets.
  • S’mores around a campfire.

We take other trips on holidays during the year, but family lake week is the best.

What is your favorite vacation place? Who are the people with whom you love to vacation?

The memories we make relaxing and having fun with family and friends are treasures that last for a lifetime. If you don’t regularly take vacations, let me encourage you to begin planning one. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

All Photos: Kathryn Graves

SaveSave

Posted by: kathryngraves | August 2, 2017

My Favorite Summer Things

I love summer. Let me share a few of the reasons why:

  • Flowers–Some of my favorites are roses, lilies, daisies, and hydrangeas.
  • Heat–It’s funny, because I don’t handle it well. But I love when it is hot enough to make boat rides and chilly lake water feel refreshing.

IMG_0477

Family Fun at the Lake (by Kathryn Graves)

  • The umbrella table on my deck. I love to sit under its shade, sip on iced tea, and read a mystery novel.
  • The colors of deep green trees and grass contrasted against a deep blue sky that is dotted with white clouds. I even considered how to design a drapery fabric in these colors so I could see them all year-round.
  • Sounds–The insects chirping on a late summer evening and birds chirping early in the morning. Even the sound of lawn mowers makes me happy!
  • Fresh garden produce–You just can’t get a good tomato any other time of year. And I love fresh green beans, squashes, sweet corn, okra, cucumbers and peppers.

tomatoes-917555_640

  • Wearing flip-flops.
  • Daylight lasting into the late evening.

I could go on and on. I know the summer months are coming to an end, schools will start in a few weeks, and fall will bring its own delights. But for now, I’m relishing the remnants of  summertime.

What are your favorite things about summer? What is your favorite season?

Photo of Tomatoes: Pixabay

SaveSave

Posted by: kathryngraves | July 26, 2017

Passion

It’s been said that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I always used to wonder if that was really true. Lately, I’ve found that this statement is both true and not true.

I have a friend who is a pond and water feature architect. The size and scale of his projects is astounding. Back-breaking labor is required to carve his designs into the ground, lay the stonework, and plant the greenery and flowers that bring his works of art to life. But he seems to love it.

Writing is not labor-intensive in the physical sense, although sitting long hours in a chair in front of my keyboard is hard on my body. The most difficult part of writing for me is brain drain. When I “come up for air” after a day of pouring my thoughts out, I’m exhausted. But it is my God-given passion and I wouldn’t trade this occupation for any other.

My friend Janet is a pastel artist. She says working at her easel is both exhilarating and exhausting because of the emotional energy she expends while painting. She says she can’t imagine doing anything else because she feels God has called her to be an artist.

Another friend is a nurse. She believes God placed the desire in her heart to help those who are sick. She loves her job. She would even describe it as her passion.

What is your passion? Do you work at it for a living? If not, are you able to block out time for it in your schedule at least once a week? I call this “mental health” time.

IMG_1639

Just before framing.

Photo: Janet Aiken

 

 

Posted by: kathryngraves | July 19, 2017

Serenity

On a shelf above my computer, I placed one of my favorite things. It is a shadow box containing seashells and a picture of a stucco beach cottage. In front of the cottage are tables sporting blue and white striped umbrellas to match an awning over a set of french doors. Colorful flowers in pots crowd the sandy patio.

Whenever I look at this shadowbox, I’m transported by memories to the beach beside the cottage where I spent several vacations with my family and some friends. A sense of peacefulness envelops me, if only for a few moments.

Mountains have the same effect on me as the beach. Each time we drive to Denver to see our son and his family, something inside me unwinds as the altitude increases. Yes, I’m excited to see my kids. But I’ve always felt drawn to mountains. I gain a sense of well-being and peace when I’m surrounded by their beauty.

My kitchen has the same effect on me. Call me crazy, especially since I don’t like to cook. When I thought about why, I realized the room is filled with light from nearby french doors and a bay window. The walls are a cheery yellow. But that’s not all. This is the room in which I meet God.

Every morning, over my cup of green tea, I read my Bible and write in my prayer journal. The memories I have of knock-your-socks-off revelation from Scripture are some of my prized possessions.

This morning my reading took me to a favorite passage. It is one that changed my life many years ago. The truth I read there, combined with prompting from the Holy Spirit, bowed my head with force. I needed to confess some sins. The release and freedom I experienced that day can only be described as serenity.

So for me, serenity is a color, it is some places, and it is also audible. The sound of waves crashing on the shore, or birds chirping in the morning, or a certain song on the radio all bring it on.

But the deepest serenity comes with the Word of God. He speaks truth and peace to my soul.

What color or sound or place speaks serenity to you? Do you spend time reading the Bible and allowing God to fill you with serenity?

hands-923293_640

 

Photo: Pixabay

 

 

 

Posted by: kathryngraves | July 12, 2017

One Simple Change

Can roses throw punches? I think sometimes they can. I planted a couple of Knockout variety rose bushes in a flower bed this spring. My husband and I dug up a 30 year-old yucca plant that was overgrown and ugly. It took up one whole end of the bed and just looked straggly all the time. We put the roses in its place.

The effect wowed us. One simple change transformed the entire flower bed, and even our yard.

One simple change can transform your life, too.

  • Maybe if you rose one hour earlier in the morning, you could add in the exercise routine you keep thinking you need to start.
  • Maybe if you cut one harmful thing out of your diet, like sugar, you could lose ten pounds within a few weeks.
  • Maybe if you found a simple black shrug sweater, you could wear it with some of the sleeveless tops in your closet that you haven’t worn in a long time and expand your wardrobe.
  • Maybe if you read one chapter in the Bible every day, your relationship with and understanding of God would grow.
  • Maybe if you paint one room in your house a fresh color, it will give your emotions a lift when you enter it.

What is one simple change you want to make?

What is one simple change you have made that transformed your life?

rose-2456080_640

Photo: Pixabay

Posted by: kathryngraves | June 28, 2017

21 Day Fix Review

In case you missed it, the 21-Day Fix diet and fitness plan is sweeping Facebook. I’ve seen the before and after photos of real people I know and the results look terrific. So I thought I’d give you my take on it.

Positives of 21-Day Fix

  • There is a plan to follow. This helps most folks begin a lifestyle change.
  • The plan is simple. Colored containers in appropriate sizes are filled with designated foods that will be eaten in a day. Each person’s number of containers is determined by a mathematical calculation of caloric intake need.
  • The containers teach portion control.
  • Exercise is built into the plan.
  • By using the 21 Day designation, motivation is built in. I can do anything for only 21 days.
  • Recipes are flexible. You can eat what you like and prepare it the way you prefer. Your only limitation is your containers.
  • The containers are for real, whole foods like vegetables, fruits, “good for you” fats, protein, etc.

Negatives of 21-Day Fix

  • Containers must be purchased from the creators of the diet plan in order to get the exact size requirement.
  • What if more than one person in the house is on the diet, with differing numbers of required/limited containers? How does that affect dinner preparation?
  • 21 days isn’t long enough to change years of bad habits. It seems people go on and off of the diet in cycles. If the on/off gradually results in more “on” than “off” days, this turns into a positive, but only then.

Because the creators of this plan encourage whole, unprocessed food, it falls in the clean eating camp. I would go a step further and encourage organic whenever possible for fruits and vegetables and grass-fed, free-range for meat and dairy.

There is, of course, a companion cookbook, but while this is helpful, it is not required. No points or calories or weights need to be measured.

Just from a limited bit of research, I’m inclined to think the 21-Day Fix is a great way to begin your journey to fit and healthy.

vegetables-2179805_640

 

Photo: Pixabay

Posted by: kathryngraves | June 21, 2017

Tiny Beauties

This morning I went out to water my flowers. As I bent over a bed with the water hose aimed at some coleus, a baby bunny dashed out from under the neighboring perennial geranium. My little flower bed seems to be a perfect tiny ecosystem for plant and animal life. When I dig in the dirt to plant annuals, I find long, fat worms. Their activity aerates and enriches the soil for the plants. It seems rabbits will eat those plants!

I happened to be tuned in to the small stuff because of my morning Bible reading in Ezekiel 41.  It was part of my scheduled daily reading, and not a chapter I would normally turn to or even think to read. It gave the dimensions for the temple God showed Ezekiel in a vision. It is a future building, not built even yet, but the attention to detail is astounding. Exact measurements and design elements are included so that a rendering could be drawn to scale and used as a blueprint.

Combined with a couple chapters I’ve recently read in other books of the Bible, the reminder to me was strong that God cares about the smallest details. He planned for that baby bunny to have the perfect home. Even if I do prefer he not eat my coleus.

While outside, I took notice of some other tiny items. A water droplet sat on a leaf, shimmering and trembling in the breeze before being blown to bits by a sudden gust of wind. The leaf, now fluttering and bending and waving. A piece of dirt stuck to the stalk of coleus. Deep red and lime green veining in the coleus leaves.

I came inside and noticed a seashell I keep in the kitchen. It is a small, broken spiral, but I love the shades of brown alongside the bleached white of the edges. It reminds me of a favorite trip to the ocean.

I inherited a tiny pitcher-shaped vase from my mother. A Yellow rose and purple violets are painted on the front. As a child, I brought nosegays of weeds to her and she always made a big production of putting them in that little vase to keep in the kitchen window sill.

How comforting to know that God cares about all the small things in our lives, whether tangible or intangible. The Psalmist tells us He keeps our tears in a bottle. Whether it’s a literal bottle or not, the point is that He notices and remembers when we’re sad. He noticed that baby bunny running for cover and heard its tiny, pounding heartbeat.

Are you experiencing an emotion you think God doesn’t notice? Begin a list of the things you are afraid God might not notice about your life. As you read your list, thank Him for caring about each item.

What are some tiny beauties around you? Begin a list and thank God for them.

I’ll remember to thank Him for rabbits.

rabbit-402323_640

 

Photo: Pixabay

 

 

Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: