I think that the best kind of change, is the change that comes from the inside and begins it’s way out until it emerges on the outside; a change that is born underneath then continues and spreads until it has reached the surface. That’s a true change. A powerful change.

And I have found that while we are emerging, changing into something glorious; it is actually us becoming who we really are.

A water lily is born underneath the water, inside the soil at the bottom of the river or lake. And the water lily has always been a water lily for that whole time that it was sprouting out of the wet soil, reaching up through the dark water towards the sunlight, stretching and grasping for the surface; where it then buds and blooms on the outside in the sunshine. It doesn’t bud and bloom on the surface and then try to reach down below into the soil.
― C. JoyBell C., author

Author Blog C JoyBell C


A hug or an encouraging word is the best remedy for a tough day.

So often we get impatient or irritated when our kids are acting out; sometimes we are just tired..

Somtimes your kids need discipline and sometimes they just need a hug.

Amazing how kindness will also increase patience,

and make it easier to understand others

It all starts with a hug :)

Lynn Mari, © 2013


When my family was homeless, I would tell the kids stories to keep their spirits up.

Since night time was hardest, and they got scared, I told them the last light of the day is the “Perfect Light“.

I told them that the Fairies sleep in the cracks of trees during the day and right before the sun goes down, they wake up, spread their wings & fly all over the world. That beautiful glowing light you see is really hundreds of fairies flying away.. the fairies look over children when they sleep at night and give them good dreams.

My kids remember those stories and to this day, look  for faeries in the trees when the sun is going down.

I took this picture of the wildflower in “the perfect light”.

Lynn Mari, © 2012





With just a few dollars in my purse, and a mountain of bills in my horizon, shopping as a single mom on Black Friday seemed to be a bleak task..but then I was surprised by the gift my Baby really wanted.


Store XYZ  had a “huge” sale on toys, and with my Baby’s birthday coming up plus Christmas, I had to check out the Black Friday deals.. but I was NOT shopping in the traditional way: with rabid frenzy, foaming at the mouth as incremental percentages dropped at the bin a crowd is fighting over, purses battling & claw like hands greedily snatching a bargain that last all of 30 seconds then vanishes, while a metallic voice announces another sale at the other end of the store that has the crowd making a mad dash in the other direction, tipping the store on one end, and tearing everything up in their wake like wild fire..


I was shopping as a single mom, on a very limited income, who just wanted to give my kids something nice for the holidays, to let them know how much I love them–how special they are to me. Almost all of my income goes towards the bills or putting gas in the car; it seemed my family had sacrificed so much throughout the year, and I hoped to give just a little back.


When I went into Store XYZ, the supply of toys was very small. Most were cheap knock offs made in foreign countries, and the dust on the shelves said they had been sitting there for awhile. My heart wrenched to realize that even with the sale, I could not afford these toys! In fact, I would be scraping coins from the bottom of my purse, and loose change from the buckets of vending machines just to get the kids a little gift. Yet I was determined to leave the store with something...


The storm in my thoughts was broken by a surprising ray of sunshine–my Baby. Left to wander the store, the Baby decided to play with an entire box of rubber spiders, snakes, lizards & other creepy crawlies. Next, he found an giant soup kettle–which Baby became enamored with, he loves pots n’ pans. Baby dumped all the rubber critters in the soup kettle then put the lid back on. He smiled with pride. I giggled imaging who would open the kettle & find the realistic bugs & lizards inside..they would probably run out of the store screaming :o


Then Baby found his favorite–spoons. Metal spoons made the best sound when used to bang on objects–he especially loves the ear shattering clang of metal spoons hitting pots n pans. The wooden spoons were also interesting, and you can chew on those! Baby was soo happy with those spoons, his eyes lit up and his chubby hands grabbed tightly onto the handles as he looked for opportunities to bang those spoons against anything his spindly arms could reach. The price wasn’t bad either: $2.50 for 4 metal spoons, and 4 wooden spoons. I had to buy those, and why wait for his birthday, NOW was the perfect time to celebrate!


I did find two inexpensive toys and after spending near $10 I was completely broke, and now digging for change to fill my gas tank. So that was my Non Black Friday Shopping..and the bills are piling up as I type.


What I learned is that if you are spending all your time worrying about how to please your children, or shopping yourself into debt, you may be able to provide a nice material present but you are robbing your child of the energy, and creativity you have to offer.  The time and attention you give to your children is a gift in itself–children are nourished by our love.


There are plenty of ways to give your child an enjoyable holiday even on a tight budget…to discover what makes your child really happy, and to discover the enchantment of their childhood, you don’t need to drive to a store or mall; you need only to get on the child’s level, drop adult assumptions, and play in the context of their world. For me it was rubber creepy crawlies inside a soup kettle. My Baby was absolutely fascinated by that..he enjoyed taking a few moments to play more than he would if I was gone a whole day shopping, and he was strapped inside a cart, told to be quiet, stop wriggling, behave or else.. If you get to take a day off work for Black Friday (which is a blessing in itself–who can afford to take a day off work!?!), it only makes sense to spend that time with your family & to limit the shopping. What makes the holidays meaningful, and what colors our memories is contained within the circle of our friends and family. 

— Lynn Mari, 2012

The first steps to murder are often set in motion by ordinary circumstances  in our daily lives. What is more normal than a man and a woman, total strangers, discovering one another in a restaurant, bar, shopping mall or any other venue where people gather? Most of us have been through similiar circumstances, and have never given the slightest thought to a potentially lethal outcome.” – “Honeymoon with a Killer” by Don Lasseter with Ronald E. Bowers, forward. Pinacle Books: New York, New York. 2009.

This paragraph is so powerful, it reminds me of how easily an ordinary person can be ensnared by an abuser, their life forever changed. That when someone wins your trust, and your heart, it is easy to miss the “red flags”… but have hope, for if you survive, there is always a second chance for a better life.


About “Honeymoon with a Killer”:

Bruce Cleland, by all accounts, was an intelligent, friendly man with everything to live for. He was devoted to his family, and got along with everyone. He was frugal with money, to save for his future–and dreamed of finding a loving wife to spend the rest of his life with. Instead, Bruce was targeted by the narcissistic sociopath Rebecca Salcedo who systematically stole his money, his heart, and then his life by masterminding a brutal murder.

Rebecca never loved Bruce, but after meeting him did a credit check, and once found out he was financially well off, she exploited him for expensive gifts while having sexual relations with multiple partners, and partying at his expense. Rebecca married and killed Bruce for financial gain. Only months after the marriage, her emotionally abusive & erratic behavior caused Bruce to ask for a divorce. When Rebecca realized she would not profit from a divorce, she  faked a carjack, in which her two cousins killed Bruce, so that she may inherit money through his death.

Rebecca and her minions deserve a long, miserable life in prison..where they can see the sunshine and in it’s bright glimmer remember Bruce, and the life they have brutally stolen. They deserve to take a few steps, only to be chained and held behind bars–to remember the taste of freedom, and the bitter reality they will never experience the free world again. They deserve long nights tossing and turning on hard mattresses, dreaming of Bruce, and haunted by what they did.

Thank you to the police, prosecutors, witnesses, jury and everyone who worked so hard to put these 3 evil killers behind bars, and ensure justice to Bruce.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Cleland family, and to the friends of Bruce. — Lynn, 2012.


Don Lasseter Online: http://donlasseter.com/

In Memory Bruce Cleland: http://www.sphs72.com/class_profile.cfm?member_id=563472

Wife Allegedly Hired Killer, Faked Carjack.” by Matea Gold. February 18, 1998. Los Angelos Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/feb/18/local/me-20303

A bit of humor for those tired of the negative campaign commercials…

VOTE McCain for President – Lucas McCain the Law is on Your Side!

America has returned to the Wild West. The Rifleman, offers REAL Solutions for today’s problems.. Giddy on up to the voting booth to elect Lucas McCain!

* Horses for Hoopties! Trade in your gas guzzling car to purchase a horse…will reduce dangerous greenhouse emissions increasing friendly methane emissions! Mhmm country fresh!


* Is Pro-Life.. unless you are standing at the wrong end of his rifle

* Can solve any problem with the right amount of dramatic music & a steely eyed glare

The Rifleman Online: http://www.therifleman.net/

The Rifleman, “Welcome to the McCain Ranch”,  “Mark’s Memories: http://www.riflemanconnors.com/marks_memories/marks_memories-toc.htm

Watch the Rifleman on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/#!the-rifleman


I miss those Sunday services of my youth. I miss the sense of reverence…it seems that now days church has become a cool hang out place.

Remembering.. Sunlight streamed through my window, rubbing at my sleepy eyes. The linoleum floor is cold under my feet , it would crack under the thunder of bare feet as my brother and I raced down the stairs—trampling over each other to get the last bit of marshmallows in the cereal. My cat, Hooper, would rub against our legs, meowing loudly for the last bit of milk in our bowls. Too bad Hopper didn’t have a taste for green beans! Just before the really good cartoon came on, Mom called us upstairs, time to get ready for church…time to get my unruly hair pulled into stick straight braids, time to iron creases into my brother’s slacks that were as straight as the road to holiness, time to wrestle and tease each other—until the very minute when my brother and I stepped through those massive doors, and silence and goodness was demanded of us while in service.

Mom danced through a cloud of Aqua Net hair spray, teasing her hair into bubble shaped curls. Her favorite disco records were stacked on her dresser next to her make up and low slung flats. She had a pair of flats in every color to match her outfits—even a pair of purple ones (my favorite color). Sunday was the one day of the week I was actually clean—not allowed to go tromping through the woods, where I rolled down red sandstone cliffs and dug for clam shells at the river’s edge. Socks were pulled up to the knee and held in place with rubber bands. My face was scrubbed clean (though I still wore a provocative grin). And I was reminded about what I did wrong in church last Sunday—and warned not to do it again. We didn’t have Sunday school or children’s church, and were expected to sit next to the adults, in silence, allowed only to speak when the priest instructed us to pray or sing.

What I remember most about church was the sense of holiness. You approached Sunday like no other day of the week—because when you walked through the doors of church, God would be on the other side. Not that God lived solely in the church, but its sturdy brick walls and protective Cross perched high on its eaves, offered a buffer from the world—a sanctuary you could be alone with God. My small eyes blinked into the golden candlelight, and with every shadow I imagined God was there—kneeling next to me on the pew or singing a favorite hymn, His sturdy arm was slung around my small shoulders, showing me where to find a verse. I searched for God’s face in the stained glass windows, and made funny faces at my own reflection… laughing that if I am made in God’s image then He must also have big, bug eyes, a crooked smile and a pig nose stuck in the middle of my forehead by one finger. Then Mom would squeeze my arm, reminding me to behave.

I looked forward to Mom’s lectures after church, where she would remind me of how good I have it, telling me stories of her own childhood pranks and the strict punishment of no-nonsense nuns and stern relatives. Mom didn’t know it but I loved those stories and craved tantalizing details of Mom as a rebellious child—I imagined we would share secrets and pinky swear not to tell. We would fold notes into origami squares and hide them in the rubber bands fastening our socks—our girlish dreams would be contained in those squares, we would pray over them and look for any sign God was answering… in those stories, Mom was like me. Then again I could have her be like “mom” too…which was usually when she was embarrassing me or getting on my nerves…a pinch this time, Lynn are you paying attention!?! Guess not, better sing louder to show I am really being good this time, put a little extra emphasis in my Amen!

I remember playing with my cousins after service, how our laughter mingled among church bells After church my family along with my aunts and cousins stopped at Ginny Mae Donuts. We kids let loose after being pent up for an hour, then were sugared up on sprinkle donuts, so that everything said about our rebellion was proven absolutely true as we laughed loudly and ran wild.

In such a short time, things have changed so much. It seems my memories are a relic from the past. My family moved from the small town I grew up in, to a big, noisy city. My life changed so much. There were skyscrapers that rimmed the clouds, where the tallest thing I had know was a church steeple.


There were accents of all languages, strange foods I had never seen before…and different values to live by. The mosques and Buddhist temples were as foreign to me as these new, modern churches.

I miss those Sunday services of my youth. I miss the sense of reverence…it seems that now days church has become a cool hang out place. Tradition is mocked, instead God is expected to fit our needs with modern music, coffee and donuts, and pastors who wear jeans and read the Bible in slang. Church bands play in bars, church groups meet in bars and drink alcohol “in moderation”. Churchgoers brag how cool it is that they fit in so well with unbelievers that you can’t tell the two apart. You don’t learn traditional hymns or memorize prayers. You don’t learn church history, or the sacrifices of those who lived and died for their faith. You dress up to go clubbing or to go to work but not for church. You hang out near the church doors, smoking and telling dirty jokes. You are reminded to turn off cell phones so you text during service. Carrying a Bible to church is optional. You have a list of things to do, and places to be after service, and rush out the door. The walls of protection that I knew are crumbling—people attend church then fall through gaping holes.

And I remember what it used to be like, the eager anticipation of waiting a whole week for Sunday because we truly believed God would be waiting for us. The Creator of the Universe, the One who Died for Our Sins, was stopping all time-putting aside all the important things He has to do—to spend time with us. The immensity of that was holiness, it was the reason why we took extra time to dress up for church, why we children worked extra hard to behave. It was the reason why our parents relented with donuts after service, and why spending time together as a family became so important. We didn’t learn holiness in the world, we learned in church—a place set aside for everyday people to worship and develop their faith in a place of safety and support. I remember, clearly, how small I felt as a child—and how immense God seemed to be. Standing in creation, a telescope from a distant galaxy would not see me—would not know who I am. But God knows, he fills in the gaps with His presence; and when God is among us, there is holiness. It is the absolute sense that your life has been changed to core levels, and the motivation for us to gravitate towards Him.

It is my sincere prayer that holiness and reverence in church will not be a thing of the past. Just as I remember the massive church doors opening, and eagerly awaited God behind it, I sincerely pray that this modern generation will open their lives, and open their church, to God.

Lynn Mari, © 2012.


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