Living free because Jesus Christ chose me. Wife to Anthony, mom to Samuel. Love reading, blogging, crafting & cooking! Sac State MA alumni, passionate about life.


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Five Minute Friday: Listen

Listen. It seems an easy thing to do until you actually try. That's when its power is really seen. For to listen requires a number of different things to occur. I must quiet my own mind to hear what the other person is saying. Engage in what the person is expressing by leaning forward or attempting to block out other distractions. It requires feedback, nonverbal and verbal.

All of these things make it difficult to focus on the other person, however when someone has listened intently to me, I feel like I was valued. In the fast-paced society we live in, it is hard to narrow my attention to one person's thoughts and speech. But oh how important it is to practice this seemingly simple act. 

In moving to North Carolina, we are surrounded by people who don't sound like Californians. They have accents. They talk at different rates than I'm accustomed to. And I know very few people. So, listening has become vital. I want to know the person's story, why they are the way they are, what makes them do things this way, how come they believe in that. Listening enables me to actually know someone. And then maybe they'll ask me about me. And if they don't, I'm still a grateful recipient to their story because it's unique and different than mine. Their life experience is meaningful. Listening allows me to get to know that.

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday


Spoonflower - Durham, NC

Today, we visited the Spoonflower's headquarters in Durham, North Carolina (very conveniently located since we moved to the Raleigh-Durham area recently). Spoonflower prints custom fabric, wallpaper, decals, and gift-wrap. You can order prints in swatches, fat quaters, and as little or as many yards as you want. They have 10 different that they print your unique design on. Or if you don't want to create your own design, you can buy fabric that was designed by others.  

Katie, a new friend of ours, works at Spoonflower and gave us a grand tour. We started with the Greenhouse, where the public can take classes and employees use it as a studio space.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to take pictures inside the plant. Some of the fabric they print is unique and we didn't want to take a chance on infringing on their customer's copyrights. The fabric we saw being printed was vibrant and different than other material I've seen! There is a huge room of about 35 printing machines and each machine is given a name, such as Kirk, since they all have their own personality. One machine is better at printing cotton and one is better at twill, etc. 

Once the spool is finished, it goes to a heating room where it is sealed in machines that run around 300 degrees. From there, the fabric is checked for accuracy, cut and shipped to you! If fabric isn't completely accurate, they re-print the customer's order and send remnant fabric to a flooring company who recycles it to make floors. 

I really enjoyed seeing how Spoonflower creates unique fabric. The fabric is from the U.S.A. and is organic. If you want to visit Spoonflower, you can contact them here or take their virtual tour here.


We're here!

We left Sacramento on May 27th and drove across Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and finally arrived in North Carolina on Monday, June 3rd. We had a day of delays because of the tornadoes that were going through the Midwestern states. The last three days of our drive we drove close or over 600 miles! In total we drove close to 3,000 miles. 

Our friends are letting us stay in their townhouse in the Raleigh-Durham area while they are away for the summer. After getting in late on Monday night, we slept in and I made a run to Trader Joe's.

I've never spent as much as I did on that shopping trip, but I sure did get a lot of food.

Anthony and I sat down on Tuesday afternoon and wrote out our budget for the month. We visited a local credit union to fund our envelope system and headed to meet our South African friends for coffee. We came home Tuesday night and I made us carnitas tacos. We ended the day with a trip to Super Target where we bought necessities including a little coffeemaker for our house.

Wednesday I got to Facetime my sister and niece, Olivia. We sent her a postcard and here are the pictures my sister sent me of her reading/eating her card:

We made our way to our post office box in Raleigh and collected our mail. We stopped at Videri Chocolate Factory to drink coffee and see the workers in action. We spent some time writing and looking for jobs.

We moved to North Carolina (read the story) to help start a new church, which will be called Emmaus. We attended our first weekly BBQ/prayer night at a nearby park and had a great time meeting new friends. We also talked about a game that's required during a BBQ, Corn Hole. It's basically like a bean bag toss, but more complicated. 

Thursday we headed to the DMV to get our NC licenses. Anthony passed his test the first time, I did not have as great of success. We visited with our friends we met back in February from Abundant Life Church. We were introduced to North Carolina BBQ and a new food called Corn Puddin' that's a cross between creamed corn and cornbread, almost like Tomalitos from Chevy's. We drove home in a downpour of rain, the wipers were on full-speed and we could barely see out the windshield. Just running from the parking lot of our house to the inside, we both got soaked. As in, we had to change clothes and dry off our hair, we were that wet. Crazy. Apparently, there's a Tropical Storm headed our way, presumably to welcome us to North Carolina!

We woke up today and enjoyed coffee and oatmeal. Thinking it would be a humid day, I dressed in a tank top and capris, only to be surprised when we opened the front door and saw it was still raining. Using the wisdom we gained from yesterday, we grabbed our umbrellas and got to the car much drier. We headed back to the DMV where I passed my test and got my NC license too! We enjoyed another lunch with our friends at a local pizzeria. We're relaxing at home and about to go to Raleigh for a local coffee company's one year anniversary party. 

I've been shocked at how humid it is, but our friends are saying this is unusual due to the tropical storm. All I can say is, I'm glad to know my skin will be nice and moisturized. :-) We're still looking for jobs and getting settled. I'm incredibly grateful for the friends we met back in February who have given us the warmest welcome. And looking forward to getting to know the rest of the people who are in the process of moving from Portland too. 


Five Minute Friday: Brave

Back in October, I briefly mentioned Anthony and I had gone to Portland, Oregon. While we were there we happened to visit a church called the Solid Rock. The evening we attended that service, John Mark Comer, the Lead Pastor of Solid Rock, introduced Dominic Done, who was coming on staff as an embedded church planter to ultimately plant a new church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

They played a video where John Mark asked Dominic why he was planting in the Raleigh area and Dominic began to explain. At the end of the video, John Mark asked everyone to pray and consider selling everything they had and move to Raleigh to help start this new church.

Anthony and I both felt they were speaking to us. Actually, it was more than just them, it was the Holy Spirit. Something was stirred inside both of us, at that moment to consider the idea of a cross-country move. 

We began to research the Solid Rock, Dominic, the Raleigh area, and anything else we could find.

A few weeks after we came home in October, were were asked to visit Raleigh with the Lead Elder of our church, Capital City Church, Rick Martinez and his wife Kathy. "Coincidentally" they were asked to help with another church in the outskirts of Raleigh in February.

On that trip, we met so many great people from the area and made new friends. The city of Raleigh wasn't what we had pictured or somewhere we would choose to move. But moving there wasn't our idea to begin with so our preference doesn't matter that much.

As we flew away from Raleigh, I looked out the airplane window and began crying because I wasn't sure if we'd ever be back. The seed that began in October continued to grow.

These have been the most eventful months in witnessing firsthand the intervention and orchestration of God in our lives. This blog post would be SO MUCH longer if I were to add everything that has happened.

Two days ago, we did something pretty crazy. We turned in our resginations to our employers and landlord. On May 27, we will begin our move to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

I've never been more scared, yet felt so brave at the same time. 

This is why there have been so few posts lately on my blog. I look forward to sharing more of our story in the future!

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and whole bunch of other awesome people for Five Minute Friday. (I went a little over the time today)


Five Minute Friday: After

After...things are easier to explain after they have happened. It's a lot harder to discuss challenging or difficult seasons in the midst of the event. 

Afterwards there is clarity that comes. Hindsight and understanding of why or how that thing shaped who I am. Before and during, now these are words that convey where the struggle takes place.

Faith isn't needed after the trial happens. It's needed during. It's needed in the midst of the situation.

After a little while the sting of a challenge is less "stingy". I find I need hope in the middle, but that's the most awkward time for me to share my life. I want to tell you when I've already seen the outcome. When I'm not questioning my decision or how I'll respond. When I already passed the test. Afterwards I'll tell you I'm a success. 

But I need to share the before and during. 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace. - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV

Linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday.


31 Things I learned in March

I was inspired by Emily to write the things I learned in March. They aren't in any particular order:

  1. Helping with a school's accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges is a lot of work. 
  2. Being present when someone is hurting brings comfort and healing, to both people. 
  3. God's sovereignty means he can't and won't change.
  4. A cup of coffee with a friend can lead to a 2-hour conversation that feels like minutes.
  5. Sharing important news with the people closest to me is much harder than telling a stranger.
  6. What we think about worship impacts how we worship.
  7. "Worship is faith expressed. We better start with the Bible" - Rick Muchow 
  8. It is possible to plan outfits for a 3-day trip and not check in luggage. A huge improvement for me since a 9-day trip, the month earlier, resulted in 48 pounds of luggage and I didn't even wear 1/2 the stuff!
  9. A warm greeting at an unfmailiar place, makes me feel included and accepted immediately.
  10. Portland is weird and probably always will be.
  11. Strangers will open up and tell you their life story if you ask and listen.
  12. Faith is a lot easier to conceptualize than to act out.
  13. A bracket is a list of all the basketball teams competing in March Madness. I'm hoping Duke makes it because my other 3 Final Four teams already lost.
  14. Being married is easy when you're married to the right person and are committed to staying together.
  15. Buttercream frosting, once chilled, will not soften when 1% milk and powered sugar are added. It will look like curds and water will drip off your cake. Not good. 
  16. When you make buttercream frosting according to the recipe, it turns out perfectly! Shocking.
  17. God's Word, the Bible, truly is living and applicable today.
  18. Self-forgetfulness is the way to get my thoughts and attention off me and what others think. It's accomplished when my mind is renewed to think like Jesus. (Tim Keller's books are very thought-provoking)
  19. A 'blind' is the look-out place for hunting. Thank you to my Father-in-law, Scott, for that bit of information. 
  20. Intense movies like "Olympus Has Fallen" stress me out.
  21. Listening is a skill that is touted, but is much harder to practice.
  22. When we pray, God listens and prayers are answered. Last week we heard of 4 different prayers answered miraculously.
  23. It's easy for me to give opinions, but it is challenging to focus and hear what someone is communicating.
  24. I'm not in control of my life.
  25. It is possible to go into Ikea and only buy food.
  26. Daffodils only bloom for a few weeks each year.
  27. Puffy clouds make people want to bounce in them (Brittany).
  28. Steak tartare is nothing more than raw ground beef and a raw egg. When you don't know what a term is, it's best to look it up before ordering.
  29. Flannel purchased at speciality fabric stores is much higher quality than the type Joann carries.
  30. Creating anything: crafting, writing, cooking, etc. is nearly impossible when I have a lot on my mind.
  31. The most comforting thing someone can say when I'm going through a hard time is, "I'm sorry that happened" and their eyes empathize with me.

Did you learn anything new in March? How have you been?


Five Minute Friday: Home

The word home evokes many images and sayings. 

Two that I immediately thought of were: Home is where the heart is and Home Tweet Home. The second saying hung above Tweety-Bird's house and is a throwback to my cartoon days.

Home also brings to mind houses. As I thought about houses, they aren't always needed for some place to feel like home. This week I was travelling for work and in doing so, I was keenly aware of what home means to me.

Home means comfort and security. It represents love and a feeling of care. 

To me home doesn't mean the nicest house on the nicest street in the best area. It's a place that's familiar. 

Lately, the thought of home is simply complex. It's people and the person that most represents home to me is Anthony.

What is home for you?

Linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday, where one word is written about for 5 minutes. 


Hungry for Change

We just finished watching the movie Hungry for Change. I loved it! 

(photo credit)

I didn't think that a movie could help me think about my word for the year, grace. But it did. For a few months now, I haven't been dieting. Instead, I've been eating what I want. 

Mind you, I'm still cautious. I try and drink water whenever I can and limit useless calories. A shift has occurred though! I don't feel as deprived. 

I would highly recommend this movie because they talk about how much the food industry markets their product. And the product is food. So it's not surprising that a lot of what is put in our food is addictive and makes us want more. And more. 

You might be wondering what made me think about grace. The movie talked about loving yourself and self-image. Since January, I have begun to stop berating myself. When I think terrible things about my body or why I'm not measuring up, I remember that God made me. 

There's a little children's book called You Are Special, and it has taught me a lot. What I believe really does influence the way I act. God made me and he doesn't make mistakes. He also only made one Malisa and he wants me to be genuine, not a fake. 

How have you been lately? Have you watched any good documentaries? 


January 2013 Recap

January has ended. Thinking about what happened this month, I am still loving my public library. I've discovered that the 3-week window to return a book helps me read it. Maybe I should borrow some of the books I have in our own library and I might actually read them too? 

(photo credit: the Hubster

This month I read:

100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights: You can read my review here.

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller: Awesome story about the parable of the prodigal sons.

Talking with My Mouth Full by Mindy Kaling: I was expecting this book to be a little funnier, but I did LOL a few times. And yes, I just said LOL in context. 

Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston: EEK. A novel of the Donner Party. I pretty much will never go to the snow again because of this book and Into Thin Air.

Although I like all of my posts, my favorite one was A Tale of Bread Pudding.

My favorite new find was Farro.

And by far, I'm most proud of my video 2012 in Photos.

Joining Beth and Erika for The List and Shelia for the 2013 Reading Challenge.


Just Write

You might have noticed there have been a decrease in the number of posts I write each week. A while back I began to ask myself if what I was posting was quantity or quality. I found that much of what I said was a space-filler or blogging for the sake of having something here each day. 

Over time what I've observed is I actually enjoy writing. The writing process can be hard. But I've found that if I'm reading good books and insightful/encouraging blogs, I have lots on my mind I can write about. The trick is actually doing it. 

The past few days I've been a little under the weather. The Hubster was at work and I was home by myself for 3 days. One day alone is nice. It's refreshing and gave me time to think. But the second and third days were hard on me. My thoughts are not the best company. 

I've been attempting to take every thought captive, as the Bible says to do. It's hard though! I occupied my time by reading a novel on the Donner Party, Snow Mountain Passage. Oh my word. When I thought I was bored, I was slapped into reality. There was no boredom, no loneliness like that of the Donner party. 

Their life of being trapped at Donner Lake sounded like cruel punishment. Yet, they survived. 

I'm beginning to grasp that life is so much about perspective. When I focus on the events, things, or circumstances, I get discouraged. I can choose to think, I haven't yet perished. I can still go on. 

That's what I think Paul meant when he said: 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do know: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus - Philippians 3:12-14, NIV

I don't really know how to be a follower of Jesus. But I do know that I can try and keep trying. When doubts enter my mind, I will think about:

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things - Philippians 4:8, NIV

Wherever your are today, I pray that God's love would surround and encourage you. That His grace would wrap you and you would know that you are special.

Joining Heather for Just Write.