Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Can God Turn Your Leaves Yellow?

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for a while and today, with everything going on in the world, I thought it was a great time to do it.

Last fall, Derek and I went up to Sedona for our 21 year wedding anniversary. Because we have young children, especially a one-year old, it’s not that easy to get away, but Chandler and his darling wife Sadie offered to stay at our home and take care of our tribe!!

Fall in Phoenix is like any other time in Phoenix, hot and dry, but it was end of October and things had started to cool off. Trees in the desert don’t shed leaves, so I was super excited to see fall colors. Up north, in Sedona and Flagstaff the weather was perfect and I couldn’t wait to wear a sweater and pretend like I was living in a typical fall climate with colorful leaves, hot tea and a warm fire.

We left Mesa and on the way up to Flagstaff, drove through Sedona. We had lunch and decided to hike a trail called Devil's Bridge

Sedona is a glowing red rock desert and the beauty and crisp air put me in a trance. As a mother of seven, when I get away and I know my kids are in excellent care, I really do let everything go and live in this place of gratitude. And to be completely in love with this darling, incredible husband of mine, we were both giddy!

The hike up to Devil's Bridge was a challenge, but I liked how it pushed me, how it opened my lungs and mind. The landscape was primarily scrubby juniper trees which look more like overgrown bushes with alligator skin, (many trees in the desert don’t grow very tall because of lack of water, they produce shade and thorns to protect themselves) oak and desert pine.

Just before sunset, we reached the bridge. 

The top of the hike was a steep mountain landscape with yes, a freaky bridge (I could see why it was called Devil's bridge), large enough for several people to stand on, stretched dauntingly over a bed of giant green pine and juniper trees way below. If I looked too long, it almost made me motion sick. Wow, that would be a deadly drop. People were walking out on the red rock bridge for their photo and I wasn’t too sure I wanted to do that, but I watched as various people went out and did their thing. 

In the moment, with all the beauty and grandeur, with the setting sun turning the rock a glistening red, Derek and I took our turn out on the bridge and had someone take our picture. Now, I’m not sure what happened at this moment, because once we walked out to the bridge, Derek put his arms around me and I was involved in the kiss of a lifetime with my love, like a fairy tale “wake Sleeping Beauty from her trance” type of kiss. I mean, that’s how it felt to be intertwined with my love at that moment.

We walked off the bridge, watched a few more people take their photos, carefully edged our way around the steep, curved mountain ledge and hurried down the mountain before nightfall. 
A picture I took just before we started walking down the mountain. Notice, no yellow anywhere, like it was never there at all.

We were off the mountain just in time to walk under a sky full of stars, the flowing air wrapped around us, desert nighttime sounds, a closeness with Derek that made me feel like we were the only people in the world, and about 20 minutes later, we walked a flat trail back to where we had parked our car. The world had graced us with some of the most beautiful views of heaven and earth that day.

I scrolled through our photos, marveled at how beautiful everything was when I noticed something that at first was just a little nudge of a thought. I looked at the photos up to Devil's Bridge, shrub like trees, green pines, dirt, red rock, all lovely in their own way, but then there was the photo of Derek and I on the bridge kissing. It literally looked like we were standing over a valley of yellow trees, even  sunflowers. At that moment, everything in that landscape below us was touched with gold. I had the thought, “Wow, that’s crazy. I wonder how that happened.”

That night,we drove 30 minutes through Oak Creek Canyon, up to Flagstaff, checked into our hotel, and the next morning, were ready for a hike in the forest. It was windy and cold (perfect) and when we passed through the hotel lobby, we overheard one of the employees tell another couple the leaves were past there peak. Looking outside, around town this appeared to be true. No big deal, right, but to me, oh, I just craved the beauty of fall, so we would go find the colors somewhere.

The drive up Mt. Humphrey was pretty barren. Don’t get me wrong, I was still having a wonderful time, the mountain was still beautiful even if shadows of aspen with their bare branches were the main landscape.  Tall, green pine trees were everywhere. Finally, we saw one Aspen with a few yellow leaves, the wind blowing them frantically to the ground. Ironically, a line of cars parked on the side of the road with some families taking pictures in front of this one tree. I could understand why they were so excited.

After about 20 minutes, we arrived at the base of the Snowbowl ski area and parked at Aspen Loop Trail (I think that’s what it’s called) and started on our hike. Only a few minutes later, a hiker passed us by and said something like “Don’t expect to see any fall leaves.” Derek and I did find a little tree with its yellow leaves all around on the ground, so we took a few pictures in front of it and decided to head back to our car.

About 10 minutes down Mt. Humphrey, we passed a trail we’d hiked before. There’s no real parking lot, but a space where about 10 cars can pull in and park. No one was there, but I felt like this was a good place to hike. It was dry and a bit dusty (that’s Arizona for you), but as we started I suddenly felt a love, a joy, an energy that was like the world was ours. Hand in hand with Derek, I recognized this as a love from God, that He is so mighty, so all-knowing, yet this intimate relationship each one of us has the privilege of experiencing, to know that He loves us unconditionally, it’s beyond any feeling I can describe. He knows our needs, our desires, our thoughts and He’s created this beautiful earth that wraps its arms around us and says, “Look at my beauty, feel my breath, inhale my smells, touch my landscape, I’m testifying that God lives.”

The mountain trail was smooth, when the direction turned to a sharp incline. We turned the corner, and BOOM – giant, swaying Aspen trees, dancing, showing off their rich, full, colorful fall leaves. 

The wind blew, leaves fell like raindrops and I just marveled at this display of nature’s beauty. 
Only ten minutes off the road, yet we couldn’t see this Aspen grove until we started on the journey. We stayed in that area for a while, meditated, I did some yoga, and we danced, prayed, laughed, talked about our future and talked about our past. I couldn’t believe the gift we’d been given.

As we drove down the mountain, I looked through the pictures we’d taken and that’s when it hit me. Yellow leaves, fall trees - God had provided this for me, for us. I looked at the picture from earlier of Devil's Bridge and I asked the question, “Did God turn those leaves and trees yellow?” The setting sun, the reflection coming from the red rock, the timing, the climb to be on top of the Sedona valley to see such colors, it was all so perfectly aligned, how could it not be a gift from God. I had the thought, “God delights in His gifts to us.” Was my Father in Heaven delighting in this gift, that instead of thinking this was a coincidence I noticed His mighty hand, His intention to share beauty, that He wanted me to know He knows my heart, my thoughts, my desires, not matter how small or insignificant?  I will never forget how God turned the leaves yellow so I could feel His love and know of His grandeur. Has God turned your leaves yellow? I know He has and He will continue to do so. Do you want to believe in a world where God can turn your leaves yellow? I do.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

She Tried, She Failed and She Tried Again

I’ve been very, very blessed this year. My focus has been on mothering my seven amazing children including a new daughter-in-law, keeping my house more organized, preparing nutritious meals and exercising every day. I recognize most people my age (I’m 47) have children who are older, in school and busy with activities, but I still have a one and four-year old at and homeschooled 4th grader at home. 

In a thrift store dress I paid $9.99, worth $180.

Ruby's dress was $2.99, worth $35.

I’m thankful to know this is my path, because when the days become long and the kids start to bicker, the dinner burns and the dishes are piled in the sink, I have a deep understanding that I am meant to be their mother. I have been given the gifts, love and purpose to raise them in love, intelligence, creativity, spirituality, confidence and health. How many times do I fail a day? Too many to count. Do I lose my temper? Yes. Do I eat cookies for dinner more often then I should? Yes. Do I forget one of my kid’s appointments or lose my car keys? Yes, but I’m good at getting back up.

Falling, failing and getting back up.
That was a big lesson for me this year.

This has been the year to embark on many different endeavors. I illustrated and published my second coloring book, The Girls Guide toFriendship.

 on Amazon Prime.

I listened to daily motivational podcasts from Abraham Hicks on the law of attraction and at times, literally felt like I was floating because of the things I was feeling and learning. I know these lessons have changed me in big, marvelous ways.

I'm blessed to be a sales rep for Monat Premium Hair and Pura Vida bracelets.

I’ve considered going back to school for a masters degree, but my love as an entrepreneur encouraged me to consider investing in a course on running my own business and marketing.

I made a big leap and invested in Alison Prince’s course BecauseI Can. I immediately started learning about everything from getting my wholesale license to running a website to marketing to influencers to purchasing inventory. It was a lot to take in and like most things I feel passionate about, I gave it my all.

I decided to call my business My 100 Daughters and donate a certain percentage of proceeds to help sponsor 100 girls from India through Rising Star Outreach.

What would I sell?

What would I market?

After many prayers and taking personally inventory of what I felt I should dive into, after looking at current trends, google searches and purchase/resell ratios, I decided to sell dresses and overalls. I absolutely love dresses and overalls and when I sold name-brand, used clothing on eBay, they were always my best sellers.

I also met an amazing young woman named Alicia who absolutely, positively felt like my business idea was brilliant, that surely through my sales we would help all these darling girls in India and change the world.  Alicia encouraged me like a loving sister, like a best friend, like a smart business savvy entrepreneur woman like she is. And we laughed a lot!!

Ruby  with Alicia's baby Hollyn.

So, I started.

You know what happens when you decided to sell dresses and overalls? You spend hours and days shopping/browsing wholesalers and purchase huge shipments of inventory. It starts coming to your home in big, heavy boxes and it piles up in your den and closet. You see the purchases on your credit card bill and think “You know, you better get this right. You’ve got a lot riding on this. You don’t want to let your family down.”

Derek’s cousin Joe, the computer genius that he is spent weeks helping me build my shopify account and away we went. Sales, sales, sales galore, right!!!
At least, that was what was supposed to happen.
But, it didn’t.

I only marketed my store twice on facebook, maybe once on instagram. I just didn’t feel passionate about it, no matter how hard I tried. I mean, there were the carefully selected inventory in my house. There was the beautiful website, accepting credit card. What happened? Why?
I’ve taken several months to think about what happened? Don’t I love dresses and overalls? Yes, absolutely. I sold used clothing on eBay for six years and loved it.
Click here to read one of my old post on eBay sales.

 I understand inventory, shipping, customer service, I mean, I was born for this!  But, I didn’t like it with new inventory. Isn’t that weird. I mean, who knew, right??? But at least for me, there was no creativity in it, at least not enough, and where was the adventure? Because of my love for thrifting, my concern for the environment, the working condition of people in third-world countries and here my shipments from China, the Philippines, -  with stuff that was great and all, but . . . I don’t even buy things like this for me. I just run out to the thrift store and find something fabulous second-hand, that thank heavens has not ended up in a landfill. I don’t know how else to explain it, but for a creative person who wants to CREATE, not just push product, I just wasn’t digging it. I know people do it and love it, and I'm not judging anyone here, this is just my own experience. 

Even thought it all sat there in huge boxes in my closet, I let it all go. I stopped listening to the course. I stopped listening to crazy youtube fast-talking entrepreneurs who record their videos on some remote tropical island over that super annoying uncopyrighted music playing in the background (you know who I’m talking about, right??)! It all stopped!

I just focused on my health, my kids, good food, a semi-clean house and it was still crazy land over here, but nothing I can’t handle. 

Christmas 2019

I didn’t carry any guilt or regret over paying off those credit card bills and eventually, I put the boxes of inventory high up on a shelf so I didn’t even see them anymore. I started gifting dresses and overalls for birthdays and bridal showers. I focused on gratitude, clarity, abundance, joy and listening to my own inner voice that knows I will follow my ideas, even if I fail because when I listen to Abraham Hicks or Rachel Hollis or Dean Graziosi, Tom Bilyeu, President Nelson, my own mother for heavens sake, my husband, my friend Amy or any Christian song in the entire world, they tell you “You are worthy. You were born for a purpose. Your dreams are worth it. You can do it. Work hard. Believe. Journal. Vision. Love,” and on and on and on. I really believe this stuff. 

I have faith. I understand ideas and momentum, clarity and gratitude, and I know failure is just a stepping stone moving me in the right direction. I know when I follow my impulses and trust in myself that mistakes show me I’m willing to take risks, that persistence is the key to success, that if I get up and try again, I’ll be better because I’ve learned, trusted and grown.

Chandler's 20th birthday

So there you have it, that’s how I failed this year and moved on instead of feeling sorry or beating myself up. I've had so many blessings, with Canyon doing so well and Chandler happy and married, Payson graduating in the spring 2020, Mayer excelling as an athlete, Derek's so blessed with work, Ruby is healthy and active, Eden is loving home school, Reef is on the honor roll and I'm running again. 

I don't have to look far to see and feel all my blessings. And, wouldn’t you know it, in September as I prepared for Ruby’s first birthday I had an idea, a dream, a vision (literally, it was amazing!!) and I wanted to give Ruby a homemade dream catcher. I shared this dream with my incredible darling friend Kristin who made Ruby the most beautiful dream catcher ever.

To read more about Kristen, her friendship and talent, click here

Ruby on Christmas Sunday

 I started making dream catchers on my own, I'm going to make 100 of them for each of my 100 daughters and now, very soon, I will launch dream catchers and dream catcher kits because I’m not sure if there is any better feeling then making one of those beautiful, inspiring, magical dream catchers with bamboo hoops, cotton doilies and second-hand, vintage, upcycled fabrics that, thank heavens, have not ended up in a landfill!!!

It’s a niche (perfect!), I know it, but man, am I excited to talk about dreams, support dreams, put dreams into people’s homes, motivate, soften, encourage and just beautify the world in anyway I can. I'm most excited about the kits because there is such an amazing feeling to make one. Eden talks about how good it "feels" to make a dream catcher. Hopefully the website will launch by the end of January. I love Alison's course and have the knowledge I need to move forward. She has an amazing podcast called Because I Can. Give it a listen.

My dream is to sponsor 100 daughters of India. What’s yours!!!!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ruby's 1st Birthday and 100 Dream Catchers

September is a special month to my family. My dad was born the 23, I was born the 24 and Ruby was born the 25. 
The night of Ruby's birthday party. Me and my dad!

I wanted to have a gorgeous 1st birthday party for my darling girl, the last 1st birthday I would ever throw for my little babies, so what did I do? About a week before Ruby’s party, I texted my incredibly creative bestie Kristen, “What should I theme Ruby’s birthday party? I want it to be over the top!” Honestly, I assumed I would get some images of mermaids and the beach, which was fine with me, as long as I had input/confidence/support from Kristen, I could do it. I considered the beautifully decorated birthday parties I’d seen on social media.

A gorgeous picture of Kristen with her husband Scott. They are the best neighbors.

I wanted that for Ruby so much, but knowing my skills don’t usually involve organization, decorating or getting things done on time, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull it off. Then, I got this text, with these over-the-top images she'd found online.

Kristen’s idea? 
“Why don’t you a gypsy/India-themed party, bohemian and hippie.”

The minute I saw these pictures, I was like “Forget the birthday party! I want to decorate my entire house like this.” I was completely in love, like rip down the walls, throw everything away and completely redecorate your house in love. I could almost taste it!

I immediately texted Kristen back with a huge heart emoji and told her my desire to make Ruby a gorgeous dream catcher. I’d purchased a couple at TJ Maxx, but I wanted to make one of my own, especially with the vintage fabrics I’d been using and collecting for Ruby’s photo shoots. 
Here is a collection of those photos with the gorgeous fabric.

Years earlier, Kristen had made a couple of homemade dream catchers that made my heart skip a beat and I’d wanted to make one ever since, but how? I’d recently finished some art work for my coloring book where I’d drawn dream catchers and felt really inspired by the whole thing. I wanted to create the dream catcher of all dream catchers.\

But, with a baby and limited time, I could feel my vision slipping away. Let’s face it, when you have young kids, you can plan out your day all you want, but essentially, your best self goes to the caring, feeding, cleaning, loving of your kids. I was doing my best while out thrifting to gather gorgeous fabrics and anything that would fit the theme of my girl’s party, but time was running out. 

Getting ready for the  big day.
The day before my birthday (the 23rd), I had so much energy. I was getting more and more excited for Ruby’s big day. I ran out on my own, running errands, finishing up edits/formatting on my coloring book, just feeling so alive and grateful, ate frozen yogurt (something I don’t do very often because it’s my drug) and before I came home, I did a little thrifting. Let me tell you, I was on a mission. 

There was something in the images Kristen had sent me, how she had absolutely nailed the vibe I was feeling, my love for Ruby literally out of this world, this beautiful child with ocean eyes and red curls given to me from the God above, I just had to manifest my love, my gratitude, my adoration somehow or I would spontaneously combust. While thrifting that night, I found lace, yarn, fabric, absolutely beautiful, feminine, whimsical textures at the thrift stores from vintage dresses, quilts, curtains, anything I could find and I laid in bed that night feeling, cutting, tying, threading, drooling over this dream catcher I wanted to make, I mean I didn’t’ sleep a wink. It was like this energy just kept me on the edge of my seat like I was watching a movie when suddenly, it wasn’t just one dream catcher, but 100 dream catchers, all for 100 daughters of India. That’s right, I was making 100 dream catchers for all these beautiful brown-skinned, black hair, glowing, precious girls and there was Ruby, right in the center of it all!

Now, if you’re wondering “Um, what does Ruby’s 1st birthday party and your goal to help 100 daughter of India have in common?”

Everything in the world!

My little Ruby, prayed for, dreamt about, her little presence around me, how sparrows, doves, ducks, robins, butterflies, especially humming birds were so drawn to her, they were all around me as she was forming in my belly. I had to travel to the ends of the universe in sickness, fatigue and somehow defied age for her, God manifested her gender and then granted me her presence, after I dreamt of, researched, illustrated, wrote, painted, created a book, cried for, begged, almost touched my own little girl from India. You don’t have to look very far to see somehow, a loving God, in His utter brilliance, gave me a little girl that fulfilled these desires.

My little black-haired, olive-skinned Ruby at birth.

Ruby has a connection to India I can’t quite explain and she and Eden hold me to my commitment, to help those beautiful girls who seem to be forgotten, almost invisible to the rest of the world. During the year I illustrated 100 girls of India, I stared at them with tears in my eyes and wondered who they were, why was life so difficult for them. 

Eating the remnants of a broken coconut off the road.

I learned about their culture, language, religion, clothing, hair styles and felt their dreams, their connection to the heavens and earth, how the animals are drawn to them (just like Ruby), how they are loved by the sun, moon and stars, how the world does revolve around them. 

They are literally painted with gold. 
I painted the illustration of these girls with gold-metalic paint.

Sharing my art with Becky Douglas.

Just look at how the world holds them in contrast with who they really are. 

These are the girls that will change the world, these are the girls that are in alignment to fulfill their destiny, but only if they have a chance to rise out of the dust and ash, to be seen, to learn and grow, to be nourished and cherished, to have a voice and sing in their tender glorious chorus.

But, they can’t do it alone.

These are the feelings/visions/dreams I experienced as I laid in bed and the sun rose on my 47th birthday.

I know, crazy!

Of course the next morning with Ruby in my arms, I was at Kristen’s doorstep, crying, emotional, all wrapped up in this vision and she let me in, heard my dreams, listened to my idea, and not only did she validate me, but she created something that absolutely showcased what I had went through.

This is what she made for Ruby’s birthday party.

A dream catcher on speed, a dream catcher that has never before been seen or envisioned, with its glorious vintage fabrics, textures, lace and charms.  I thought about changing my profile page on facebook from being married to Derek Lofgreen, to:
"Laura Lofgreen- In a relationship with a dream catcher.”

Kristen made one for the front door.

So, this is the goal.
100 dream catchers for 100 dreams of the girls of India.

Taking some risks here, being a bit untraditional.

Teaching Eden and Zola how to make them too.

My first attempt. I'm not finished, more work then a thought it would be.

100 dream catchers and with Kristen’s support/talent/vision/commitment as my partner, maybe, we will catch the dreams of these 100 daughters of India and their perfect dreams will fill our hearts and somehow, someway, we can help/sponsor/love/touch these beautiful girls of India.

Our goal is to finish by mid-January. I am working with Rising Star Outreach on the project. I hope to have a gala/event/launch to showcase this beautiful art. At some point, we will have some for sale, but not until we complete our goal.

What is the meaning of a dream catcher? It's fascinating. Read here.