It’s The Clouds That Make It Magnificent

I marveled at the beautiful sunrises during our week in Bali.  Rising early and walking down to the water became my morning ritual and gave me time to sit and bask in God’s creation and glory.  Sun rays peered through the clouds, deepening the colors and changing the masterpiece moment by moment.  Then it hit me – it’s the clouds that make it magnificent.  If the clouds were not there, the appearance of the sun would be similar day after day and may not draw special attention.  It may then be taken for granted and never really appreciated for what it is.

Similarly, isn’t it so that the trials (clouds) in our lives keep us seeking?  Wanting something more…longing for clear skies.  Much as we don’t like disruptions, unexpected changes, illness, opposition, fear and pain, we are assured this is a condition of our life here on earth.

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   -John 16:33

Life will never be cloudless here on earth.  We live in a sinful and painful world.  But there is incredible joy to be had in the journey.  Our hope is in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Please don’t fail to recognize those cloudy skies as an opportunity to draw close to Him.  The Son will always be there for you…clear skies or otherwise.

In the beauty and calm of the island, God allowed us to really relax and enjoy some much needed rest.   I am beyond thankful for an amazing time away.

Prior to our September vacation, I must admit I had a wonderful summer.  Naomi and I did a road trip from Jonae’s to Ohio and visited with several friends.

We returned to celebrate Juliet’s birthday – which marks a historical time for Brian & I – we’ve been living on this adventure for a full two years now!   Juliet is an absolute joy  and her presence overwhelms my heart with such love.  Just something about being a grandma, I guess.  What an honor.

Quick stop in Arizona and California allowed me to hug more friends & family before returning to the Philippines.  I am so grateful for the doors God continues to open (and close) during this season of my life.

May you live encouraged today.   Be aware of the clouds in your life and don’t miss the opportunity to draw closer to Him.  He loves you unconditionally now and forevermore.

Thanks for sharing in my life.   May God bless you abundantly as we head into the last quarter of 2017!

A Lot Can Change In Six Months

I’m sure you’re not too surprised…but with me and my family, that’s an understatement.  When I wrote my last blog over six months ago, we were enjoying the sights and sounds of Hollywood.  It’s the middle of the night here in Metro Manila and we’re watching old movies on HBO.  Brian accepted a job that is based here in the Philippines and we’ve started our next adventure!  We’re in a nice (but small) two bedroom, furnished condo near the Mall of Asia.  People here are very friendly and we’re growing accustomed to working overnight (US east coast hours.)

September and October included fun Hollywood themes and lazy days.  Mitch and I made a quick trip to Mom & Dad’s in Tucson before he moved back to Ohio.  I had the opportunity to watch Kathy Bates get her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Jonae, Justice & Juliet returned to California for DeeDee’s wedding and we took a day to enjoy Universal Studios together.  Kennen started college in Riverside.  The middle of October we had a family trip to Laughlin to celebrate my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday.  A great time was had by all!

In November, heaven welcomed my sweet mother-in-law Mary, when she lost her fight to cancer.  Brian was able to spend a few weeks with the family in Ohio.  She loved Jesus and shared His love and compassion with everyone lucky enough to spend time with her.  I was able to travel to Honduras for our annual Revive conference.  I go with the intention of blessing others, but God expresses His ultimate love for me every time I’m in the presence of these ladies.  Words can’t express how much I needed this trip and it didn’t disappoint.  Thanksgiving was one of my favorite yet – we did pot luck at my friend Katie’s.  She invited her friends and people from her apartment building and we dined with a bunch of “kids” looking to get into the motion picture industry.   Very non-traditional Hollywood Thanksgiving; loved it.

By December we knew we were getting ready for the big move (Brian’s first trip to the Philippines was scheduled for January 2), and our weekends were full.  I met Pam and Michelle the beginning of the month in Irvine and introduced them to Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  They are now hooked and I suspect it will become a tradition for us moving forward!  We all traveled to Cleveland the second weekend in December to celebrate Whitney & Elliott’s wedding.  It was an amazing, whirlwind couple of days and it was wonderful to have the family together.  (The honeymooners have since relocated to Virginia Beach and are enjoying the winter away from Cleveland!)  Brian and I attended a Christmas show at the Pantages Theater and saw an A cappella group at the Dolby Theater.  We also took a Christmas light boat tour in Newport Beach and attended Christmas Eve services at Saddleback Church.  Christmas Day was at my sister’s and New Year’s Eve was quiet at home.

While Brian was away in January, I spent the month sorting, packing, shipping and selling the apartment full of possessions we gathered during our time in California.  I had several visitors during the month and got to go see the Dr Phil show, Griffith Observatory and Santa Monica Pier.   I used my season pass at Universal Studios a few more times and watched Amy Adams get her star on the Walk of Fame.  A few days before I left, I received a call from the Pantages Theater asking if I was still interested in a part-time usher job.  Good to know I had options!

The first week of February, Jonae, Juliet, Naomi and I drove from California to Jonae’s home in Southaven, Mississippi.  God protected us the entire trip!  The only car trouble was before I had anyone else with me (needed a new battery) and the only rain on the very last day (no ice or snow at all!)  We spent two nights with my parents in Tucson and two nights traveling across Texas.  We enjoyed a fun Saturday morning at Magnolia Market in Waco, TX (HGTV’s Fixer Upper town.)   I was blessed to spend almost two weeks in Southaven before traveling to Myrtle Beach to meet up with Erica and the girls for our annual beach trip.  Spent a few days in Ohio (saw Erica’s beautiful new house!) before Brian arrived and we flew to Manila together.  (Naomi my pup is adjusting well to her new home with Jonae and her family!)

Now you’re all caught up.  First two weeks here in the Philippines have been good to me.  I’m falling into a routine and found new workout videos I like.  We attended a church service here today and I was overwhelmed with God’s grace and goodness.  It’s so beautiful that you can find people like us that love Jesus across the world.  I will be in the US for the month of April.  Thanks for reading – Lord willing, next update will be shorter & sooner!  Happy Spring!!!  God Bless You!




Juliet’s First Birthday, Disneyland, and Family

The middle of summer was all about family time.  Adam came out from Ohio for a week and was able to see Jonae and Juliet before he headed back.   On August 2nd we had a little mini party to celebrate Juliet’s first birthday.  She is such a sweet, sweet baby!  Jonae and I took her to Disneyland the day after to celebrate.  Even though it was crowded and a little warm, we had a truly magical time!

Jonae left on Thursday to spend some time with her cousin and my parents arrived that evening.  We had so much fun babysitting – although, it’s easy to forget how much work is involved!  Between Juliet and the dog, there was always something to do!  There is definitely a reason God planned it that way…childbearing is definitely for the young (and not just young at heart!)

On Saturday, we ventured up the hill to my sister’s house and enjoyed a fun lunch with her family and Michelle.  We had a great visit and Juliet napped on the way there and the way back.  I really miss living close to them.

Jonae returned on Sunday and we enjoyed some pool time and a nice dinner.  My folks headed back to Tucson on Monday, and the girls stayed a couple of more days (compliments of the power outage that Delta experienced.)  Overall we had a wonderful time and our apartment worked out great for visitors!

The remaining days of August have been pretty calm.  The weather has been beautiful (80’s on average) and it still hasn’t rained since we’ve lived in Hollywood!  The terrible “blue cut” fire ravaged for days up near my sister’s – fortunately none of their family or friends were directly impacted, but almost a hundred people lost their homes.

We had a special treat last week when a sponsor provided Hollywood Bowl tickets to the people in Brian’s office.  We saw a tribute to Ray Charles and the orchestra was very good.  We had a really nice time and we got to check off yet another thing off our “what we want to do while living in Hollywood” list.

Jonae and her family are returning to California the end of September and we’ve scheduled a trip to Universal Studios.  Adam started a part-time job and is back in school.  Whitney is looking forward to her bachelorette weekend over Labor Day.  Mitch is contemplating a move back east.  It’s been a great summer and I’m anticipating all the blessings God will provide in the fall.  Check back soon for updates.  Much love to you and yours!

On the Move

The last six weeks have been nothing short of amazing!  As we prepared to move, I spent as much waking time as possible with my sister and my friend Michelle.  We ate out, made it to the movies a few times and took lots of long walks (before it got too warm!)  My parents were out for a visit and I was able to see my brother & sister-in-law.   Brian enjoyed time in our swimming pool and was sad to leave it.  We even put the dog in once and found out that Naomi can dog paddle!

The last two weeks of May were extremely busy for my sister as she wrapped up her school year and attended the boys programs.   In addition to graduating two years early, my nephew Kennen was valedictorian of his class.  His speech at the ceremony lifted the spirits of everyone and he is enjoying the summer before heading off to college in September.  My nephew Zander completed sixth grade on the superintendent’s honor roll as well.  So proud of both of them!

After graduation festivities wrapped up, Michelle and I went to Laughlin where we met some friends from Ohio (including Erica!!)  We had such a great visit!  My parents delivered Pam for a night – just long enough for her to hit two progressives on nickel poker.  Woohoo!  We also had the opportunity to recreate some photos from the first time us four girls went to Laughlin twenty years ago – what a blast!

God has truly blessed every bit of our relocation from Victorville to Hollywood.  We secured a nice two bedroom apartment that exceeded our wish list:  reserved covered parking, air-conditioning, pet-friendly and rooftop pool!  We are located in a (busy) residential area between Hollywood & Sunset Boulevards just east of the 101 freeway.   From the roof you can see the Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory, Capitol Records, downtown Los Angeles and beautiful sunsets.  Our new home is within walking distance of the metro, bus lines, yummy restaurants, our bank, food store and many other amenities.  I’m expecting lots of visitors – please send me your dates so I can add you to the calendar!

Our granddaughter Juliet is nearing 11 months old….on the move physically (walking!) and her daddy has accepted a promotion that is moving them just outside of Memphis.  Stay tuned for more details as the entire Cleland/Powers clan changes addresses this year (with the exception of Adam at school!)  Until next time – enjoy the warm summer breezes, colorful sunrises and sunsets, balmy evenings and lots of time with loved ones.  May God Bless You abundantly.

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Birthdays, Baby & Beach

Juliet made her first visit to California the end of January to celebrate her mommy’s 30th birthday!  She loved meeting the family and we met great-grandma & great-grandpa in Las Vegas.  Unbeknownst to me, I ordered Jonae’s birthday cake from Carlo’s Bakery (the Cake Boss) – and it was absolutely delicious!  Jonae and Justice had a night out while my parents and I babysat.  We had a great weekend and I actually left Vegas with almost as much money as I started with!  After a family birthday party for Jonae, Juliet had the opportunity to meet some additional friends and family before returning to Atlanta.

My birthday was up next and we started celebrating a few days early on Super Bowl Sunday.  (I have been known to enjoy my birthday all month long)  This year did not disappoint.  Although I worked on my actual birthday, I did a little shopping in the afternoon and met family and friends for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  A good time was had by all!  Birthdays are always fun and this one was extra special because I was with my sister.

Mid-month, Brian and I attended our nephew’s Honor Band Concert (so exciting to take part in everyday life and special functions, too!)   On Valentine’s Day, I headed to the airport and joined Erica, her mom and friends for our annual trip to Myrtle Beach.  Although a bit chilly (especially compared to California), we did get to walk on the beach for 3 of the 4 days I was there.  I was blessed to enjoy a beautiful ocean view while I working during the day.  Excellent food, fun drinks, lots of laughter, a little shopping (Hallmark – woohoo!) all made for a super fun trip.

I couldn’t travel to the east coast without a stop in Atlanta to see the kids and baby Juliet.  We enjoyed a traditional weekend:  Mexican food, walk in the park, babysitting, church, Costco, Zesto’s ice cream, and HGTV.  I got to feed Juliet her first bite of pears (she previously enjoyed sweet potatoes & carrots) and play lots of peek-a-boo.  She is almost 7 months old and is pure joy.  Juliet has such a sweet temperament and this grandma can’t wait until she gets to snuggle her again!

Thanks for sharing in my life!  The next couple of months look to be pretty busy, but I’ll be back again soon to fill you in.  Happy (soon-to-be) March!!  God Bless You!





It Turns Out a Little Distance Isn’t All Bad

Talking about the snow – of course!  The view of the snow covered mountains from the end of our street is just beautiful.  We don’t mind at all that the evenings are in the 30’s and the days approach 60 degrees – and it’s January!  Now we did have a very chilly December (the top of the swimming pool froze), but thus far, 2016 is a weather winner.  Let’s hope I don’t jinx it.

To start off the year, we have embraced a “healthier” lifestyle.  (Yes, trying to take off not only those pesky holiday pounds, but all the friends they gathered during the year.)  Goal of 10k steps a day and I’m back to drinking 2 ViSalus shakes during the week.  The scale is starting to move (the right direction) and I’m looking forward to my clothes actually fitting again.

My sister and I have been walking several times and my nephew has selected a Drum Corp to participate in for the season.  Pam and I were able to meet up with my elementary school friend Robin and we saw the movie “Sisters” – quite appropriate and quite hilarious!  I’ve also been able to go to Dana Point with my friend Michelle to visit her family…so nice to drive down the streets where I lived from 6-12th grade.  Most days I wake up and still can’t believe I’m living in California!

My sweet granddaughter Juliet turned 5 months on the 2nd and is coming to visit us (with her mommy & daddy) next weekend!  I’ve stocked up on diapers and am anxious to see them.  We will make a quick trip to Vegas to celebrate Jonae’s 30th birthday – where has all that time gone?  Excited to welcome in a new decade for my firstborn…so proud of her and the beautiful woman she has become.

One of the Northpoint sermons this year talks about how all “resolutions” in one way or another relate to the attributes of the fruit of the spirit….love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  I just love that – makes it so simple.  The pastor then encourages us to focus on just one for the entire year.  I decided to focus on self-control….my diet, my finances, all aspects of my life.  Fortunately I won’t have to go it alone – Jesus has promised to walk with me and lead me down the best path.  He’s always there for you, too.

Enjoy the rest of January – make every day memorable.  Check back soon for baby visit and birthday celebration update!

Nonstop Family Fun

Hello!  I wanted to give you a quick update with some pictures from the last few weeks.   I’m headed to Atlanta in the morning to see the kids and baby Juliet (she’s 4 months old already!)  Time is passing so quickly – I’m being mindful to enjoy every moment.

Thanksgiving was a very fun gathering and the food was delicious (my sister is an excellent cook!)  The weekend that followed included a little black Friday shopping and a Turkey Shoot soccer tournament for Zander.  The weather was cool but it was so nice being outside.  Mom & Dad made it safely back to Tucson and Adam returned to Ohio to finish up his first semester.

Brian has an incredible knack for finding really good deals – whether it is through facebook groups, craigslist or yard sales.  He found us a 9 foot artificial Christmas tree for just $40 – exactly what we needed for our California living room.  It was a treat to have Zander help us decorate…he really enjoys all my musical Hallmark ornaments.  Brian also started his world-famous Christmas light display – although on a much smaller scale this year (didn’t make sense to ship all that stuff across country.)   He definitely misses the larger production, but was pleasantly surprised that it only took him 6 hours to decorate.

My brother and his family were able to visit this past Saturday.  Pam and I grabbed lunch with Tiffany and Michelle before shopping at the church Global Fair.  We also found ourselves spending several hours in Kohl’s on Sunday (after church, of course!) before we enjoyed a yummy Italian food lunch.   So nice to have extra girl-time…and now I’m ready for some baby snuggles!!!

Have a blessed week!  Remember…Jesus is the reason for the season.  Love to you and yours!

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