Sheran Memories

Crafting a Remarkable Life

Purpose & Pause Series 2

December 21, 2018
by Jennifer

Purpose & Pause Post 2: Where are you?

Last week, we reviewed the first step in crafting a remarkable New Year –Seeking God first

Did you spend some time reviewing the truths that He has declared about you and seeking His guidance and direction?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. 

Psalm 139: 13-15

For I know the plans I have  for
you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm 
you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29:11

As we look ahead to making our plans to craft a remarkable 2019, it is wise to pause and get a reading on where we are right now.

Author Anne Voskamp points out in her book The Greatest Gift, the first question God asks in the Old Testament  is “Where are you?”

It is a good question to ask at this time of year. It is also a fitting time to take a personal assessment so we can begin 2019 with clarity.

Get my free Year in Review Guide

Step two in crafting our remarkable year is to make a self-assessment.

  • Where are you in your life?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • What is holding you back? (hint it is probably not what you think!)
  • Are you better today than you were last year?
  • What did you do this year that brought happiness?
  • What did you do this year that made you restless or unhappy?
  • Why did you chose these things?
  • What did you do this year to bring happiness to others?
  • Did you harm anyone physically, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually?
  • What inspired me you this year?
  • What are you proud of that you accomplished this year?
  • What is something you planned to accomplish but didn’t? Why?
  • What are you most thankful for that happened this year?
  • What areas of your life do you need to improve?
  • What areas need more attention?
  • What, in your thinking, actions, lack of action, or relationships, is keeping you from living your best life?
  • To aid you in this process, I have created a free, downloadable Year in Review PDF.

    Devotional Review Ellie Claire

    December 14, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Choosing a devotional

    A few weeks ago I told you about the Ellie Claire Art Journals. These were based on the tradition of illuminating the text and teach these techniques along with giving you space to journal.

    Today, I was given the opportunity to share my opinion on her 365-day devotional series, which include three different devotionals. Ellie Claire products are known for artful imagery and these devotionals are no exception. Each devotional has an artistic and beautiful design. The cover is a thin semi-hard material that is sturdy but allows for some give. The interior pages seem to be around 20lb weight. I would probably use an ink pen with the journal rather than a marker to be sure it does not bleed through. They can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for around $15 – $17, which is a great price for such quality.

    Devotional Review Ellie Claire

    The first devotion I will introduce is The Earth Is the Lord’s and Everything in It. The cover features two teal peacocks perched majestically in a blossoming tree. The underlying theme of this devotional focuses on nature as the creative expression of God. The devotions and quotes within the journal connect back to God as a creator and aspects of nature and lessons we can learn from them. Each page includes a title, one verse, a short narrative, a brief prayer and a lined section for journaling.


    Barnes & Noble:

    Another devotional in the collection is “Peace Begins with Me” The cover is a marbled mixture of mint green with a touch of blue and the title is embossed in gold. The journal is designed to help readers find peace by pursuing God. The scripture choices are those that describe God and His plan for His people. The devotions focus on illustrations that help us draw closer to God through knowledge and understanding. If you experiencing anxiety or unrest than this may be a great choice to grow in confidence as a child of God.


    Barnes & Noble:

    The last journal is Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus and the cover is a bright pattern of pink and peach flowers such as carnations and hydrangeas (my favorite). The theme of this devotion is discovering God’s grace in our daily life with meditations that help us focus on how God is working in our lives.


    Barnes & Noble:

    All of these would be a great companion for your quiet time. What is your favorite devotional? Do you use a devotional in your quiet time?

    The First Step

    December 10, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Purpose & Pause Series: The First Step in Crafting a Remarkable New Year

    Sacred Questions Review

    Welcome to post number one in my Purpose & Pause series, a guide to planning an intentional and remarkable New Year!

    I have always tried to live a purposeful life, I did Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of  Highly Successful People when I was a year out of college and developed a personal mission statement that still rings true today. Several years ago, I designed my own planner/diary called the Purpose & Pause Planner, which is centered around intentionally planning your year, month and days. I will be sharing more about that planner in the days to come.

    Even though I try to live with foresight and intention, the tide of life has often carried me away. There have been several times when the circumstances of life have loomed over me like a giant wave sweeping me up in the current, precariously carrying me along so I could do nothing but take a deep breath and focus on staying upright until I could get my feet on the sand again. Over the past ten years, it seemed that just when I started heading back to the safety of the shore, another wave would carry me away again.

    Last year one such wave, took me to a little island where I began a time of self-reflection and inner mind work. During this time, I dug into the practice of mindfulness, researched principles of brain science, and learned you can change your thinking and literally retrain your brain from old thought patterns that have dug deep neuropathways in your mind. This period of discovery also led me to discover the time-honored Christian practices of contemplation and renewing your mind through scripture (Romans 12:2).

    I have been applying this learning to my life and look forward to sharing them with you. One thing I have learned is that no matter the conditions of the present, I can rest in the knowledge that I was created to live a remarkable life (Jeremiah 1:5) and crafting that life is in my hands. The first step?

    Seek God.

    Before we set our goals or make New Year’s resolutions, we need to seek first the Kingdom of God. You see God has plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and he wants us to live in his will instead of going our own way. Scripture tells us “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established,” Proverbs 19:21 (RSV). If I seek Him first, I will have laid a solid foundation for the remarkable life to which I was designed. But take note, remarkable does not mean perfect.

    adjective: remarkable
    worthy of attention; striking.
    “a remarkable coincidence”
    synonyms: extraordinary, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvelous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, phenomenal, outstanding, momentous

    So, as we are in the midst of Advent and waiting on the coming of our Savior, it is a natural time to prayerfully reflect on your plans and intentions for life and submit them to God. Ask him to guide you and renew your mind so that as you consider your direction for 2019 so that He who commands the seas will carry you.
    Sacred Questions Kelly fabian

    But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Cor 2:9

    A tool I am looking forward to using this coming year to help me seek God first daily is Sacred Questions, a transformative journey through the Bible, by Kelly FabianTyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book to review. This book is a 365-day guide to a deeper spiritual practice. Setting aside about 20 minutes each day, the book leads you through a practice of prayer, a scripture passage, a reflection, a series of questions that draw you deeper into the scripture to make personal application. Your session ends with a guided prayer of response.

    The practice of asking the sacred questions found in the reflections is meant to help you examine your attitudes, thoughts, actions, and beliefs. It is through this reflection that self-discovery is formed. We are all so busy but taking this time to grow and truly seek God through not just reading his word but reflecting on it with these scared questions will allow us to see the remarkable and extraordinary opportunities awaiting our lives.

    The book is 484 pages and is divided into 14 sections, including a section for Christmas and Easter. There is also a topical guide in the back. The book has a hardcover with a reflective design in cream and gold. The pages are thin, reminding me of the inside of a missal. The font is also quite small, especially the daily scripture passage, so if you are over 40 you may need your readers for this one! Jammed pack with scripture, reflections, and prompts, there is no space for journaling within the book. I would recommend a companion journal to record your answers to the questions and other reflections. This is actually a benefit because you can return to the guide year over year or to a specific topic to guide your prayer and thinking when wrestling with a particular issue in your life. This spiritual guide would be appropriate for men or women of any age, as the reflections are focused on God’s Word and do not include personal commentary from the author.

    The First Step

    If you are with me to plan a remarkable 2019, your assignment this week is Purpose & Pause Step One:

    Take some time to put yourself in God’s presence this week and meditate on the truth that God designed us each individually with a plan and a purpose, for us to prosper and have a future of hope (Jeremiah 29:11) and ask God to reveal his plans and desires for you in the coming year.

    Join my newsletter to make sure you get each update in the Purpose & Pause Series! Let’s plan a remarkable year together!

    Zumba Class

    November 26, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Having the Courage to Go After A Goal: I Became A Zumba Instructor

    It was my 45th birthday and I was having a pity party. I had not reached my goal of losing 45 pounds by my 45th birthday. In fact, with the stress of the past year, I had gained 15 pounds, reaching my heaviest weight EVER. I was not heading on a girl’s weekend to celebrate my birthday like so many of my Facebook friends had done this year. I was feeling alone, old, and ashamed. But in a moment of courage, I decided there was one goal I could achieve, becoming a Zuma instructor. I quickly signed up for the November 18 class in my area.

    So last week, overweight and out of shape, I went to a day-long Zumba instructor training class and became certified to teach. The training included a master class and lots of dancing as we learned each of the key steps to put together choreography and practice cueing. And I could hang! It was a lot of fun and I am so glad I did it.

    You see, I started dancing at age 4 with creative movement. I then took ballet, tap, and Jazz from age 5 through Training as Zumba Instructorhigh school and was in a performing company. I also took classes in college, and as an adult, took dance fitness classes. As life progressed and I had children and grew in my career, I stopped dancing. Until I landed a corporate job which offered a full-service gym with dance classes. The dancing bug came alive again. When I dance I truly feel free. Unfortunately, I was laid off in Sept. 2017 due to corporate restructuring and I no longer had access to those classes. I truly have missed it. I also did some volunteering at my children’s school teaching dance and I realized I could combine my passion, my need for physical activity and earn some extra income by becoming an instructor.

    Zumba ClassSo, I finally achieved that goal. Now, when I hold a class, I won’t be taking away from my family because I will become healthier and earning extra income. I will be a good role model and have an outlet for stress. And I will be connecting with other people and helping them craft their own remarkable life. All good things!

    I am looking forward to holding my first class.

    November 13, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Craft a Remarkable Quiet Time with Ellie Claire Art Journals

    I am so excited about these three beautiful journals from Ellie Claire and Worthy publishing. They are from the Museum of the Bible and I had the privilege of working with The Green Collection handling PR for several traveling exhibitions of artifacts before the Museum of the Bible was built. I saw, up close and personal, the original ancient texts that inspired these journals.

    Journaling, scripture study, contemplation, and creative expression can help you craft your remarkable life as you grow closer to the spirit and put yourself in a place of listening and receptivity.

    These journals carry on the tradition using of lettering and imagery to illuminate the text by teaching us how to do it. All of the journals are exquisite with such features as heavy card stock, embossed covers, and vibrant colors.

    The Illuminate Your Story Journal is less of a journal and more of an illuminated lettering sketchbook. It shares the history of illuminated lettering and then includes step by step instructions for each letter of the alphabet. In between each lettering instruction and practice pages are two-pages of journal space and an inspirational quote. A handy keepsake pocket is on the back cover. It includes a bookmark and a pen holder. This would be a great gift for the person who likes to doodle!

    The second journal is the Illustrated Word, An Illuminated Bible Coloring Journal has a beautifully embossed cover and combines journaling with coloring for an immersive experience. Throughout the book are coloring pages of images found in various texts including the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, an image of the original art, and plenty of journaling space. Part art history, part art class, part devotional this journal is a sensory creative delight. This journal would delight preteen and teen girls and women of all ages.

    The third journal, Faith & Lettering Journaling, is also a beautifully embossed work of art. It teaches the art of creating fun lettered sayings with instructions and space to practice. It also teaches how to create several types of fonts. The journal includes different blank page formats to use however you want to capture inspiration including graph pages, lined note pages, dotted pages, and notes pages with a wide margin for art and lettering. If you have ever wanted to learn how to make those cute chalkboard sayings, this journal is perfect for you!

    Check out my video review of these on the Sheran Memories YouTube page! I cannot wait to dig into these. The only problem will be choosing which one to explore first!

    Building Resilience

    November 7, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Teach Our Children to Overcome Adversity & Build Resilience

    The other day, I saw a Washington Post article talking about the 2016 election about a research study that showed young people got Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of that election. Not only does this belittle those who have experienced really difficult trauma in their lives, but it also is not helpful to our young people. We encourage a mindset that  “if I don’t get a trophy or get my way, then I can blame my reactions and behavior on a disorder,” rather than showing young people how to manage adversity.

    Certainly, the political arena is very stressful and from the sidelines, it’s hard to watch the hateful advertisements and read the negative discourse on social media and not feel some stress. However, we enable our young people when we say they need counseling or have PTSD because they didn’t like the outcome of an election.

    When I was a teenager, I experienced my first major disappointment. I had been a cheerleader from the time I was five years old and when it came time for my eighth-grade high school cheerleading tryouts I felt fairly confident that I would do a good job and make the team. I was shocked, disappointed, and extremely upset to find out that I did not make the team and, even worse, girls who had never even done cheerleading before made the team. I didn’t let that stop me from doing what I love or put me into a state of depression. I picked myself up and did Pop Warner cheerleading for football and then I tried out for the high school basketball squad and I made it. I learned from that disappointment and from trying again. That experience helped me face multiple disappointments and upsetting situations in my life because I built resilience.

    It is said the strongest indicator of success is resilience. We need to demonstrate to our young people, how to deal with disappointments and build resilience. It is okay to feel disappointment, but we have to be able to keep it in perspective. We do that by managing our thoughts.

    When we see our children getting upset because the outcome is not what they want, help them manage their thoughts to get to a mindset where they can become calm and centered by managing their thinking. Once they learn and practice this tool, they will be better equipped to handle the many adversities life brings.

    So, how do you do this? Thoughts lead to feelings, feelings result in actions. So have your child begin by writing down the thoughts that are making her feel sad, anxious, or angry. Now, have her examine each thought asking “is that even true?” “What would have to be true for that to happen?” “What does that mean?” “How likely is that happen?” “What do you need to believe to feel hope and optimism?” Finally, take those thoughts and write a positive take on each one. Practice those thoughts.

    So, no matter what happens in the election tonight, if the outcome is not what you or your child had hoped for, don’t let it come to despair. Use these mindset tools and build resilience.

    October 31, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Down Right Remarkable

    October is my favorite month of the year for several reasons. It is my birthday month, it is the month of pumpkin spice, chili, and cooler temperatures and is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

    Down Syndrome Awareness is important to me because I have an 8-year-old son who has Down syndrome. On July 2, 2010, shortly after an emergency c-section, and before I got to hold my new baby, we got the news that the doctor thought he might have Down syndrome, also called Trisomy 21, which means that for reasons unknown, he has an extra copy (in part or whole) of the 21st chromosome.

    Joey was born over Fourth of July weekend, which meant that the genetics clinic at Emory was closed and it would be at least 7 days before we would know for sure.

    What we learned in those early days was the medical community is not prepared to equip & inform parents about Down syndrome!

    Our nurse assured us as we visited our son in the NICU for the first time that a lot of people would want to adopt him.

    Our doctors told us of all the possible complications that could come our way – such as heart defects, hearing problems, speech issues, thyroid issues, low muscle tone, celiac disease, a higher risk for leukemia, life-long dependence, low IQ, a likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s when older, and a shorter life expectancy – and that there was no way of telling if our son would experience any of that list and to what extent.

    Our geneticist told us Joey may put one to two words together. The message they sent was one of fear, not optimism.

    Then we actually met real people in the Down syndrome community. Through organizations like the National Down Syndrome Congress and the Down syndrome Association of Atlanta, we met with other parents, talked with experts and learned that people with Down syndrome really are more like their peers then they are different.

    We learned that people with Down syndrome, however, are just as individual as you and I. While there is no spectrum and how Down syndrome represents itself in people is very individualized from the degree of low tone, to IQ to personality traits, etc. We were encouraged to treat Joey just like we would our other children. We were given examples of people living with Down syndrome who play sports, go to college, work, and even get married!

    We were lucky, Joey did not have any of the major medical complications the doctors told us he could have and we set about getting him whatever support he needed. That included physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and tutoring.

    Some things we have learned in the last 8 years are:

    • Be patient. He will catch on to most things, in his time. It took him longer to crawl and walk than his peers, but with therapy and practice, he eventually got it and now is all physical guy and loves to play soccer, baseball, and basketball. He is quite good at it too! Now we are focused on learning to read and going to the potty when he needs to go. He knows how to, but his low tone may make it difficult for him to know when he has to and his stubbornness may keep from stopping what he is doing to go.
    • Be hyper intentional. We have to be very hands-on in learning and life skills. It is very important that I take the responsibility of being his primary teacher, and work with his teachers to ensure success. That means lots of reading and math at home, tutoring and going to places that give support like GiGi’s Playhouse Atlanta. It means everything is a learning opportunity!
    • Expect the unexpected! Joey is a very curious little boy with plenty of mischief in him! For example, he loves milk, waffles,, and tortillas. He knows he cannot just help himself to these items when he feels like it, because he will get the entire package in one sitting. He also knows, how to get the package of tortillas or gallon on milk and sneak downstairs. The other day he proudly showed me his hiding spot for the milk jug.
    • People will surprise you. We have come a long way!  30 years ago many people with DS were put in institutions and there were low expectations for them. I feared people would make fun of him and exclude him. I am so proud of the kids in our neighborhood who include Joey in play after school, and realize he can’t run as fast, but include him nonetheless, and for the young man this summer who showed Joey how to play Sharks and Minnows with the rest of the kids and stuck next to him the whole time. Joey is liked and accepted by his peers and I believe inclusion has a big role in that!
    • All kids have special needs. Sometimes Joey is the easiest of our three. We have a ten-year-old and 17-year-old and they also need extra attention and support in areas that we could not have predicted when they were born. There is no such thing as normal!
    • Overwhelming love!  That kid is the definition of love. I am so proud of him. He makes me smile and laugh every day! And while people with Down syndrome are not happy all the time, they do have every emotion that you and I have, Joey has a sense of wonder and excitement that permeates everything he does.

    So, while we do face challenges, such as making sure he learns the academic and life skills for a life of independence, advocating for inclusion, finding ways to provide lifelong financial supports, affording the therapies that will help him become independent, and being ever vigilant for his safety, we also experience great joy and love.

    So why is Down syndrome awareness important? 

    Today, nearly 70% of parents in the US, and higher in other countries, who get a pre-diagnosis end up aborting likely due to misinformed doctors like mine.

    We still need inclusive and equal education opportunities and more inclusive communities.

    There are few options and little support available after they leave the education environment, and many people end up alone on the couch at home. There needs to be a funnel for employment, independent living, transportation, and community activities.

    So, what can you do? First of all, remove the R-word from your vocabulary under all circumstances.  And use people first language – say a boy with Down syndrome, not a Downs boy.

    If you own a business or are involved with hiring, consider how you could employ someone and make sure your employees are trained for disability awareness.

    If you know someone who gets a diagnosis or has a baby with Down syndrome, you can refer them to their local Down Syndrome Association to get the real facts and lots of support.

    Finally, get to know someone who has Down syndrome. Assume ability and extend friendship and you will have a friend for life.

    Goliath story

    June 21, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Goliath Must Fall

    My friends, I have been doing a lot of internal work lately.

    I have been really working on my mindset, my thinking, the internal beliefs that result in my actions, good or bad. I will write more about that later but in the course of my brain makeover, I realize I have a number of giants that are taunting me.

    When my neighbor invited me to a bible study at her home studying the ancient story of David and Goliath – Goliath Must Fall by Louis Giglio – I knew it was meant to be.

    We just began the study this week and it has been a long time since I have taken time out for me to get David Challenges Goliathcloser to God, in general, or with a group of women. I’m excited for what God has in store as he helps me truly embrace that he has conquered my giants.

    We all have giants in our lives that keep us from living the life God has intended for us. These giants may be beliefs, fears, insecurities, or circumstances that lead us to use behaviors to escape or fight the giants in our own strength. We may numb ourselves with an overabundance of food, alcohol, sex, exercise, shopping, collecting, volunteering, Netflix watching instead of challenging the thinking head on and telling it a different story. Jesus has conquered the devils that taunt us. His grace is sufficient. If God is for us, who can be against us?

    “For I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity, not disaster. Plans to bring a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

    Pelican Point Review

    April 30, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Irene Hannon Takes Us Back Hope Harbor for the Story of Pelican Point

    I have been doing a lot of reading lately and I was excited to get the next novel in the Hope Harbor series by Irene Hannon.

    Hannon brings us to this quaint little seaside town, which has this propensity to heal hurt hearts. Each novel introduces new characters who come to Hope Harbor after experiencing some loss or hurt and reacquaints us with old friends such as the two town ministers, Charlie the wise artist and Taco truck man.

    In Pelican Point, Hannon introduces us to two main storylines. One has Army doctor Ben Garrison returning home to take care of his grandfather’s affairs and me is surprised with an unexpected inheritance and an unexpected romantic interest in Marci Weber, a local reporter recovering from the wounds of her own past relationships. The second storyline is of a young newly married couple facing a crisis after Greg loses his leg from an IUD blast. Hannon develops strong characters and has us rooting for them to find the peace and love they are seeking.

    I also appreciate that Hannon develops strong romantic scenes without getting too graphic. The characters have a deep longing and a deep respect. I wouldn’t be afraid for my teenager to read these romances because they are the type of relationship I would wish for her.

    I can’t wait to read the next novel in the Hope Harbor series.


    Journey to Health with PCOS

    April 11, 2018
    by Jennifer

    Road to Optimal Health with PCOS

    I have written before about my struggle with PCOS and I have to say, I’m not much further along on my journey than I was then. It is very much a head game and although I made progress in the early part of 2017, a series of events in the latter part of the year turned my focus and I gained any I lost and then some.

    Still, I journey on, knowing I must get it under control for my health and well-being.

    PCOS Journey

    So, I am going to regularly blog about my efforts to follow a PCOS diet and health regimen, which includes a low carb/low sugar diet, plenty of rest, stress reduction and aerobic exercise. I will share my struggles, challenges, and strategies to overcome, succeed or fail.

    Currently, I am doing Weight Watchers and I get a lot of support from the weekly meetings. We have the best meeting in my town. We share a lot of tips and recipes and even have a monthly clothing swap and do Zumba every once in a while. Having a group to cheer you on and lift you up is very important. Being accountable to someone is also important, so I want this blog to serve as an accountability factor for me.

    The new WW program is focused on low-fat protein, fruits, and vegetables, which is good for me. I need to follow a food plan that is high protein and fat, low carb and low sugar. I plan to use the points for my fat and then basically follow Keto in my food choices. Keto has shown to be successful for people with PCOS. So I am doing a PCOS/Keto version of Weight Watchers.

    There are a number of foods that those with PCOS are recommended to avoid. I will start cutting most of these from my diet, especially those that don’t fit with Keto.

    If you would like to follow my journey or join along with me, follow me on Facebook. I will post more frequently on my Sheran Memories page on Facebook and do a weekly blog here. I’d love to encourage you in your journey and swap strategies and tips for success.

    Here is to never giving up and becoming our best selves for optimal living.