Friday, August 26, 2016

Free Music for You!

Photo: The Clearing, Philip Stephen Allen

“These are great popsicles! What flavor did you get?”

“I’m not sure. It’s orange, but doesn’t taste like orange. The flavor is familiar but I can’t put my finger on it.”


“Yeah, that’s it!”

Thus began my relationship with Philip Stephen Allen, during a popsicle break at the Tribe Writers Conference in Nashville last August.

My favorite questions to ask all weekend were, “Where are you from?” and “What do you write?”

I asked Philip where he was from and what he wrote, and from there we twisted into a discussion of music. (I later thanked my son for teaching me about movie and video game soundtracks because I was able to carry on an intelligent conversation! I was even able to suggest music Philip hadn’t heard of. Winning!)

Philip told me a story of his step-daughter, Chloe; it’s one I will never forget. Because he is a musician and has a sound studio in his home, he was able to adjust the voice of this special needs young lady and made her sound amazingly beautiful! (Read her story and listen to her song here: Fixing Chloe)

When I got back to my hotel room that night, I checked out Philip’s music and loved it. When I complimented him the next day, he was kind enough to send a link so I could download it!

Philip’s instrumental, ambient compositions are calming, peaceful and are great to listen to on the way home from work when I’m stuck in traffic, it’s nice background music at dinner time, it’s perfect for listening to through earbuds at bedtime, really, it’s great to listen to any time!

Philip and I have stayed in touch since the Tribe Writers Conference. Because my husband and I love his music so much I asked him if he would be willing to share it with you, my fabulous friends, and he has agreed. 

You guys, I am SO excited about this!

You can check out the recently remastered album here: The Clearing

To download your free copy, send me an email and let me know you want it and I will send a unique code with the link to redeem it.

In his email to me Philip said, “I hope your whole list grabs a copy.”

Yes! Me too! Do not miss this!

And if you love it as much as I do, or even if you just find it mildly enjoyable, please contact Philip to thank him and connect with him. I know he'd love to hear from you.

Connect with Philip:
Twitter: PSACreates
SoundCloud: Philip Stephen Allen (to hear his works in progress)

PS: I'm hope to get to blogging again very soon! Stay tuned for more in the future.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why This Isn’t Goodbye

Photo: Viktor Hanacek

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Storyline Conference in the Chicagoland area. I went last year and it was life changing; it was again this year.

We heard from so many amazing people who are living incredible stories. Please check out I’ll Push You (inspiring 5-minute video) and Jeremy Cowart (oh man, watch his TED Talk at the bottom the page!) and Bob Goff (and more) - you’ll be inspired too!

One of the breakout sessions I attended was with Joshua Becker. You’ve heard me mention him before. I had the privilege of having lunch with him in Nashville in August, I’ve talked about his blog becoming minimalist, and he has just launched The Hope Effect. (Don’t forget I need your help with that! I’m trying to raise $1200 for orphans.)

While Joshua didn’t really say anything I haven’t already heard him say, or have read on his blog, his story struck me in a deeper way this time. 

Living minimalist isn’t just cleaning the clutter out of our houses, but also out of our lives. I’m cleaning apps off my phone, unnecessary events from my calendar, relationships that don’t build me up or encourage me.

(I’m also cleaning out closets and drawers!)

The conference, paired with discussion with my traveling buddy, Nancy Bouwens from An Intentional Life, makes me believe God is leading me in a new direction.

While driving to church last week I thought about how the trees let go of their leaves in the fall, but it’s only for a season. The leaves will come back better and more beautiful in the spring. But if the trees don’t let go of the leaves, there’s no room for something new - there’s no growth.

For a season I need to let go of some “leaves”. They’re pretty leaves and I love my leaves, but just for a season I need to let them go. In the spring they can bud and be beautiful again. The only thing is, I don’t know what they will look like.

What I’m saying is, I’m going to take some time away from blogging.

One year ago after the Storyline Conference, I set out to write once per week, every week for this blog. I’ve accomplished that goal. I’ve told a story in 2015 that I wanted to tell, and I’m proud of myself for doing it!

Now, after Storyline 2016, I don’t know where God is taking me. I don’t know what story He wants me to tell this year. But I do know that my calendar is too full. My self-imposed schedule is too much for me to maintain. I’m making myself nuts with things I wonder if are really the most important things in my life to focus on right now.

So, for a season, I’m taking time off. I’m going to read the stack of books that I haven’t had time for. I’m going to coffee and lunch with people who love me the most and mean the most to me. I’m going to spend extra time with my princess granddaughter.

I’m going to be less of a slave to social media and spend more time connecting in real life and making memories for myself and my family and friends.

I’m going to take time to really listen to what God has for me and which direction He’s taking me.

I’m just going to slow down and rest.

I love writing and I will be doing lots of that as well. Maybe some of it will end up on this blog or in your email on occasion. Maybe I’ll be back with an entirely different blog in the new season. I don’t know.

So, this isn't goodbye, just a see you in the figurative spring.

Thank you for being faithful friends in this little community. You can still always reach me via Twitter and Facebook - I would LOVE to hear from you. ANYTIME!

Now go live your life and tell a great story!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Take Time: Be Thankful

Photo: petradr

It’s November already! When did this happen? 

Because of Thanksgiving, November is always a month to think about how we can be thankful.

As we now enter the holiday season, take time to think about where you can be thankful. Maybe it’s been a great year with lots of positive things happening and thankfulness comes easy for you.

Maybe it’s been a hard year with heartbreak and being thankful takes more effort.

Either way, take time to write down the things you are thankful for and rejoice that whether in easy or hard times, God is always good and He is always faithful, and you have more blessings than you realize.

Here are a few things I’m thankful for this year:

  • My new granddaughter, arriving on-scene July 12!
  • My daughter who is an amazing mom so far.
  • My son-in-law who takes good care of his wife and baby.
  • My son who is doing great while away at school. (And grateful he’s close enough to come home every couple of weeks!)
  • My husband who works hard to provide for all of us.
  • My friends who are always there for me, in hard, frustrating times and the joyful, exciting ones.
  • Pastors who support me and encourage me to chase my dreams.
  • You, my faithful, encouraging readers who have become friends in this little community.
  • All of my needs are met. 
  • I’m thankful for the ability to see, walk, breathe, hear, drive, eat and a thousand other little things we take for granted every day. Because we’re healthy!
  • And I’m thankful for coffee, cheesecake and Quincy M.E.!

My list could go on and on, but I’ll spare you too much boredom. I’d love to hear what’s good in your life this year! What are you thankful for?

Share below what you are thankful for this thanksgiving season. Or share via Twitter and Facebook.

Don't forget to help my team with The Hope Effect! Less stuff for you, more love for orphans! Read more about it here and here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Christmas for The Hope Effect

The little girl is my great grandma! Circa 1890

I hold my Danish and Lithuanian immigrant ancestors in hero status because I'm privileged to know a little of their stories of coming to America in 1860 and 1903, and what they left behind in the old country.

I know my great, great grandma Rasmussen (pictured above) was uncomfortable speaking English because she wasn't familiar with the language and didn't want to be laughed at.

I know that great, great grandpa Rasmussen didn't believe his children when they told him about skunks, until one day out in the field he tried to catch a kitty. "They convinced him," cousin Tina wrote!

I know the names of all of my great, great grandparents without having to think about it. I know the names of great, great aunts, uncles and distant cousins. I know family history and stories of how my grandparents met.

It's a blessing to know where, and who, I came from - to know all that makes up who I am today.

The sad part is there are 153 million children today who will never know these kinds of names or stories because they are orphans.

This past August I travelled to Franklin, TN for a writers conference. While there I was privileged to have lunch with Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist.

He told us about a new project he's been working on that will change the way we care for orphans, and will officially launch this Sunday, November 1.

Joshua has a dream to see orphans living in a family environment as opposed to an institutionalized orphanage. They will experience a home with 7 to 9 other kids with two adults in each home as parental figures to mimic a family. This will help the kids experience community and a loving environment.

The Hope Effect

Having read Joshua's blog for awhile now, I've been motivated to eliminate a lot of stuff from my home - I’ve given lots away. I've thought carefully about spending money and whether or not I really need an item that has caught my eye. I don't want to trade stuff for stuff - I want to trade stuff for savings, or time, or relationships. [Read more about that here.]

As Christmas is drawing close - only 56 days away - I'm already feeling the stress of having more stuff and clutter coming into my home. I'm also feeling the stress of buying more stuff and clutter to give to other people.

As a way to eliminate some of that stress, I'm supporting The Hope Effect, and I'm asking you to help me.

How You Can Help

I've set up a fundraising page - Be Real's Christmas for The Hope Effect - with a goal of raising $1200! Yikes! That's a stretch for my little community of you faithful readers and friends, but I believe we can do it. Whatever you can do to help would be awesome, whether it's $5 or $500 or something in-between. You decide. My campaign runs through December 31 of this year. 

I know you may already have other organizations you support this time of year and I don't want to take their place. No prob, bob! But then could you help raise awareness for The Hope Effect by sending a tweet or posting on Facebook with the link: You never know who among your friends can help!

Christmas is all about family - and what could be better than helping orphans experience family? I'd rather have that than more stuff. And somebody you will never meet thanks you for a piece of your Christmas!

Again, you can donate by clicking here: Be Real's Christmas for The Hope Effect

Here are a few more places you can learn about The Hope Effect:

Please share this post with your social media network and let's help the orphans experience family!