Friday, June 8, 2018

Suicide is Senseless

After reading of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide this morning, and Kate Spade’s suicide three days ago, I started a post on Facebook that read:

I hate suicide. It's senseless and stupid. Depression stinks. Tomorrow is ALWAYS a new day. People can and will help you, but you have to reach out. If you can't/won't talk to a friend or family member, seek out a counselor, or a pet, or a plant - just talk to them. Write letters to uncork yourself. Or call this hotline. You are loved. You have a purpose. How to get help: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Suicide is NOT the answer. For anyone.

I stopped my post with that, but continued to think about the whys of suicide, and realized I need to say more.

Life is not easy for any of us. We all have our own battles we face - some may be social (like bullying or loneliness, or the fame of celebrity), some may be financial (like extreme poverty, debt, or extreme wealth), some may be mental (like depression, intellect, or Type A personality), some may be physical (like disabilities, autoimmune disorders, disease, or gorgeous looks and extraordinary physique). Our battles are as unique as each individual in the midst of them. We deal with different pressures, different responsibilities in our lives, and we all handle them differently.

And that's okay.

But suicide is not the answer to any of the problems. None. Not one. For any battle.

There is hope. For you and for me.

I'd like to share a list of some of the battles I've encountered in my own life's journey. I won't share details to protect loved ones, but each one of the battles listed below have touched me and/or my children personally, many overlapping at the same time:

Alcoholism
Verbal, Emotional, Mental Abuse
Obesity
Bullying
Poverty
Divorce (as a Christian, to some Christians, this is the unpardonable sin. And remarriage compounds that.)
Mental illness
Transgender issues
Remarriage
Foreclosure
Adultery
Narcissism
Domestic Abuse
Child Abuse
Depression
Codependency
Bipolar Disorder
PTSD
Psychosis
Personality Disorders
Drug Addiction
Abandonment
Bullying
Sexual Assault
Physical Assault
Verbal Assault
Reverse Racism (technically, they say there's no such thing. But there is.)
Discrimination
Jail
Homelessness
Cancer, cancer, cancer
Parkinson's Disease
Alzheimer's
Anemia
Physical ailments
Judgment of others
Legalism
Gossip
Alienation
And others I'm forgetting at the moment

Days, weeks, years of our lives have been taunted by darkness. A couple of times, the darkness was so deep, I wasn't sure we'd ever see light again.

Yet, I had Hope.

My Hope comes from God. A personal relationship with Jesus. Direction from the Holy Spirit.

My God is One in Three. Three in One. God, the Father, who loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to die for us. Why would God want Jesus to die for us? So that we might spend eternity - FOREVER - in Heaven with Him. So that we could live FOREVER in God's presence. Our only other alternative is to live forever apart from God, apart from all others, in Hell. And that's definitely not a way to live.

I've referred to some of the things we've gone through in our lives as 'hell on earth' because they were so painful I could hardly bear them. I've been through hell on earth - I imagine many of you have been there, too. Why would we want to spend an eternity somewhere so painful? Especially when we don't have to. We have an option.

My Hope is Jesus. His life, death, and resurrection offers us all the opportunity - the option - to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. In the Bible, Heaven is described as a place where there is no more pain, no more tears, no more death, no mourning, no crying (Revelation 21:4).

My Hope is Jesus. Because I know Him - personally. I asked Him to be my Lord and my Savior. I live life on earth by His standards (although I've failed many times in this, I've asked Him to forgive me, and He has.) The greatest thing is - every single day is a new day with Jesus. If we screw up, or have a really bad day, or make mistakes, or hurt someone or be hurt by someone - tomorrow, we get the chance to do better. Tomorrow, we get the chance to make changes. Tomorrow, we get the chance to start over.

With suicide, there is no tomorrow.

Jesus is there for you - today and tomorrow and forever. I know - without one shadow of a doubt - that I will live eternally with Him.

Why? Because He loves me.

He loves you, too. More than you can ever hope, dream, or imagine anyone here on earth could love you.

Jesus is my Hope. Jesus gets me through all the pain, all the loneliness, all the sorrow, all the mistakes, all the failures, all the stupidity and idiocy that this life tries to throw at me.

Sometimes I do need help. I've sought counseling in the past, and am currently seeing a counselor. Sometimes we need help to process all the pain and sorrows in our lives. Sometimes just having an outsider listen to us talk for awhile helps us work through the emotions, the anxiety, the stress, the past/present/future of our lives.

It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to need help. It's okay to be helped.

It's NOT okay to commit suicide. Suicide is not the answer.

You have options. Many, many options.

Talk to someone. Reach out. You are worthy. I promise.









Friday, May 25, 2018

Meet the Artist: Vickie Emms

Today, I'm happy to introduce a new artist friend, Vickie Emms.

Vickie, what type of art do you create?

I offer my own photography for sale on POD websites on products they offer. 

I am  a member of Redbubble and Zazzle where I have 4 stores, one of which
is totally my photography, called DiamondW_Photography.

I also create designs from elements I purchase on the internet from commercial use sites and add them to products on either of two of my stores on Zazzle, one of which is DiamondWillowDesigns and the other is a niche store of totally Plaids/Tartans, which originate from Scotland and offers products with those plaids on them on dozens of products in ThePlaidShop. 


This is a magnet offered on Zazzle from a photo of a Scarlet Macaw taken in Mexico.


A favorite design from Zazzle would be tartan pillows from The Plaid Shop.


How did you get started creating this particular type of art?

Photography has always been my love and just making photos for sale wasn't satisfying enough.  I started designing wedding invitations, shower invitations, wrapping paper and greeting cards, plus hundreds of other items that were fun to do.  After buying Photoshop CS5, the products just became a natural to me.  I love seeing end results, and specially sales!   

Tell us the story behind ONE of your favorite creations.

One of the highlights of my photography travel was visiting Alaska in 2009.  This is the most popular photo from that trip. 


On the Way to Haines Alaska


Explore Vickie's shops at: 

RedBubble
Zazzle: Diamond Willow
Zazzle: The Plaid Shop


About the Artist:

Vickie was born in Scotland in June, 1945. She is married,  and is a mother of three grown daughters and has 7 beautiful grandchildren. As well, Vickie and her husband Fred have 8 foster grandchildren, who are no different to them as their own. 

She lives in Manitoba, Canada, one of the prairie provinces. Most of her scenery is from those areas, although she lives close to the eastern lakes area of the province called the Canadian Shield and visits and camps in her favorite parks often. She LOVES the Canadian Rocky Mountains and travels almost every summer to Alberta to camp and photograph those beautiful icons.

She and her husband have been married 50 wonderful years, and travel quite a bit, usually within Canada and the United States.  So you will see a mixed bag of shots from both countries.  They have caught the travel bug the last couple of winters and have visited the Bahamas, Cancun, Mexico and the Dominican Republic and a couple of trips to Las Vegas.

She loves photography, camping, traveling, crafts, flower gardening and music.  She has been taking photographs most of her life, upgrading to the newest cameras as they came on the market.  Now with digital, she is having the time of her life.  She's had photos published in Canadian Wildlife, a magazine by the Canadian Wildlife Federation.   She has had photos published in Our Canada and More Our Canada and in the August/September issue of 2018 another is being published of a Cedar Waxwing eating Mountain Ash berries. 





Friday, April 27, 2018

Journal Entry

My journal entry yesterday took on a life of its own, so I decided to share parts of it here.

Since last fall, I've been bouncing from one project to another, trying to settle in
somewhere useful and productive. With family challenges we had in the fall, then dealing with my own grief and depression issues from that in the following months, I found myself drifting, yet unable to know how to stop it.

For the past week, I've been reading Matt Tommey's book, Created to Thrive. His first chapters have intrigued me so much, I've been exploring webinars he offers, and reading his website to learn more about him.

[See my post Ponderings: Mindset to understand why I felt the need to do that.]

Matt's words and his ministry resonate deeply with me. I'm eager to continue his book and will give a full review when I'm done. 

But yesterday, I started a new page in my journal that reads:

The blank page to the left represents time.

Time spent, but not wasted.

A time of learning.
A time of resting in His promises.
A time of growing.
A time of healing.
A time of serving.
A time of leaning into Jesus with my whole being.
A time of seeking.
A time of observing.
A time of questioning.
A time of thinking.
A time of lack.
A time of testing. Testing myself. Testing others. Being tested.
A time of creating.
A time of flailing.
A time of want.
A time of need.
A time of restoration.

Not until I typed the words above that I had handwritten in my journal did the connection to Ecclesiastes dawn on me.

Now is the time to take that next step. To settle in to what I feel God has called me to do, and to do it with all my heart and with all my might until He calls me elsewhere.


Recent Posts:

Ponderings: Mindset
Entrepreneur Encounters: Jennifer Guter
Entrepreneur Encounters: Donna Cervelli
Mother's Day Special Offer
Entrepreneur Encounters: Donna Sneed
Meet the Artist: Dayna Bickham
Entrepreneur Encounters: Marnye Young
Meet the Artist: Sarah Annerton
Entrepreneur Encounters: Zach Bolton
Meet the Artist: Patricia AZ Phillips


From the TMP blog:

Marketing Memos: Matt Patterson
5 Reasons to Hire a Book Publisher
Latest Release: A Sincere Heart by Phee Paradise
Looking for a Narrator for Your Audiobook or Video?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Come join Tracy's journey through the screenwriting and art worlds at






Come visit Tracy's TMPix Art Shop on Zazzle!
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.




Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ponderings: Our Mindsets

The last several months, I've had discussions with business owners, life and career coaches, ministry leaders, friends, and online acquaintances. The specific ones I'm
pondering today all have one thing in common - they want to help people "change their mindsets" about various issues like mindsets about food to help you become healthier, mindsets about poverty to help you become wealthier, mindsets about business to help you become more successful or more powerful.

After the third time I heard the phrase "change your mindset" the bell finally dinged in my head. Normally, when the Lord speaks to me, I get a specific word for phrase three times in a row, fairly close together (like within a week or two). But this mindset phrase happened over a period of six to eight months, so I didn't notice it right away.

When I did, the phrase began to trouble me, and I wondered why.

There's nothing wrong with being healthier, wealthier, or more successful. Those are all good things. It's the changing of the mindsets that's so troubling, because of the methods used to do so. Their goals aren't really to change our mindsets to make us healthier, wealthier, or more successful, but to change our mindsets in the way we do those things - changing our mindsets to buy into the programs they are selling. Some of the programs exhibit cult-like qualities.

The Bible has a lot to say about our minds. (The word 'mind' is  used 167 times in the NASB.) Because of this, when I see someone wanting to change my mindset, I must ask questions.

The first question I ask is if this new mindset they're wanting me to acquire is of God or of man? Then I ask more. Could the mindset be considered false teaching? Does this new mindset cause temptation to sin? Does the new mindset contradict itself? Does it contradict Scripture or make promises that contradict Scripture? Is the purpose of the new mindset rooted in pride?

We live in perilous times. We must examine everything thoroughly (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and we must be discerning about what is good and right. Some things may look great on the surface, but when you dig deep, you'll find otherwise. We can't be complacent.

Christianity is under attack, and the enemy likes to divide and conquer Christians. If we allow man to change our mindsets to worldly ways, instead of allowing God to change our mindsets to His ways, we give the enemy a foothold into our lives and into our minds.

Be alert. Study those who are trying to change your mindset. Pray. Ask for the Holy Spirit's discernment. Let God be the one changing your mindset to where He wants it - not where the world wants it.



Recent Posts:

Entrepreneur Encounters: Jennifer Guter
Entrepreneur Encounters: Donna Cervelli
Mother's Day Special Offer
Entrepreneur Encounters: Donna Sneed
Meet the Artist: Dayna Bickham
Entrepreneur Encounters: Marnye Young
Meet the Artist: Sarah Annerton
Entrepreneur Encounters: Zach Bolton
Meet the Artist: Patricia AZ Phillips
Entrepreneur Encounters: Dottie Coffman
Patron of the Arts
Meet the Artist: Mark Spivey 
Just Because You Can ...
Meet the Artist: Corinne Danzl
Meet the Artist: Krystine Kercher
Our Trip to La Jolla
Dreaming of Vacation?
My Inner Artist

From the TMP blog:

Marketing Memos: Matt Patterson
5 Reasons to Hire a Book Publisher
Latest Release: A Sincere Heart by Phee Paradise
Looking for a Narrator for Your Audiobook or Video?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Come join Tracy's journey through the screenwriting and art worlds at






Come visit Tracy's TMPix Art Shop on Zazzle!
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.



Entrepreneur Encounters: Jennifer Guter

Today, I'd like to introduce you to an entrepreneur I became acquainted with only this week, Jennifer Guter.

Welcome, Jennifer!

What type of business do you own?

I have had a solopreneur graphic design business, Reflections Design and Print, for 23 years. Recently I started a niche business, Standout Handouts, which is specifically for presenters to help them improve their handout materials and get a better response.


I also create powerpoints (slide decks), branding and logo design, infographics, one-sheets, websites, and all types of business printing and graphic design. As a print broker, I also often handle the printing as well as the design.

My goal with every single client is to communicate their message better, faster and more effectively by adding visual elements that support their message and create a strong connection with their audience.

How did you get started in this business?

I have always been artistic and had a strong entrepreneurial streak.  I started Reflections Design and Print when I was a young mom with kids as a way to work from home doing something I loved.  Now my kids are grown and gone and I work full time - I still look forward to each day and every project - I love helping people build their business.

What is your biggest challenge as a small business owner? 

My biggest challenge is marketing myself - I would much rather spend my time marketing and creating designs for my clients!

Share a story with us about a specific moment in your business that changed you, or made a difference somehow in what you do. 

My inspiration for starting Standout Handouts was when attending a (introductory) free presentation for business coaching.  The lady who did the presentation did an excellent job, and her logo, branding, etc was also great.  But when it came to her handouts - they were loose, disorganized and sloppy.  I realized how often that is the case - that presenters rarely make proper use of their handouts to get a better response and build their brand.

Aha! I identified a deeply underserved market -  that was the day Standout Handouts was born.

Presenters put a lot of time (and money) into building their audience- aka "getting butts in the seats."  They leave money on the table by not using their handouts to advantage.  I help by partnering with them to turn their handouts into powerful, organized, useful tools that will lend them credibility, professionalism, and help them close sales and get the results they deserve from their investment.

Jennifer offers a free handout for download: The Ultimate Handout Creation Guide.

Connect with Jennifer on the Web:

Reflections Design and Print
Standout Handouts
Portfolio


About the Entrepreneur:

Jennifer is a hater - of bad design and wasted opportunities. Her 23 year career as a graphic designer reflects a long-term dedication to the eradication of both. She can often be spotted helping her clients save their audience from boredom, apathy and confusion.

Jennifer helps presenters use the fact that 65% of humans are visual learners to their advantage by creating Standout Handouts and branding that communicate their message quickly, clearly, and delivers them a better response.

Jennifer lives in Southern Utah with her husband and two dachshunds, Mokie and Princess. Her studio overlooks both a vineyard and a volcano. She is a fan of great design, bbq potato chips, Asian cuisine and tropical vacations.



Recent Posts:

Entrepreneur Encounters: Donna CervelliMother's Day Special Offer
Entrepreneur Encounters: Donna Sneed
Meet the Artist: Dayna Bickham
Entrepreneur Encounters: Marnye Young
Meet the Artist: Sarah Annerton
Entrepreneur Encounters: Zach Bolton
Meet the Artist: Patricia AZ Phillips
Entrepreneur Encounters: Dottie Coffman
Patron of the Arts
Meet the Artist: Mark Spivey 
Just Because You Can ...
Meet the Artist: Corinne Danzl
Meet the Artist: Krystine Kercher
Our Trip to La Jolla
Dreaming of Vacation?
My Inner Artist

From the TMP blog:

5 Reasons to Hire a Book Publisher
Latest Release: A Sincere Heart by Phee Paradise
Looking for a Narrator for Your Audiobook or Video?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Come join Tracy's journey through the screenwriting and art worlds at






Come visit Tracy's TMPix Art Shop on Zazzle!
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.