A Living Message

I don’t know why, but it always seems like the toughest battles come right before and/or shortly after I have to minister. I am not new to ministry, but it never ceases to amaze me how hectic things get when it comes to preparing for a sermon.

I know a lot of preachers, my father was a preacher, my mother is a preacher, my husband, my brother and sisters are too. We all have different processes on how a sermon comes together for us. Yes, there is a lot of studying, word definitions, scripture referencing, fasting, and praying, but many people don’t consider another major factor, the trials that come with or because of the message.

I have found it to be very rare that one carries the message and seed of faith without being tested. In fact, I dare say some of the most passionate, persuasive, and powerful messages come through those who have gone through a great deal. I find it both bewildering and humbling how God works in and through the tests and trials to make it effective for ministry.

This post is not just about my experiences in preaching, but also an encouragement session. Listen, preachers are not the only ones who go through. I know some of you who are reading this may never stand behind a pulpit. You have a calling on your life though, and you know how I know? Because, God chose you! One well loved passage of scripture, found in Romans eight, tells us that we are called according to God’s purpose. It’s not the calling that we have a hard time with, it’s the other stuff; the adversity, trials, ridicule, chaos, testing, and troubles that come with the calling. Those things that often make it hard to remember that “all things work together for good.”

It can be challenging to look beyond the current circumstances to see how it will be a blessing. Every struggle has a story with lessons that can help someone else. That is what I tell myself every time I find myself in the thick of the hard stuff. It would be nice if preparation for greatness came easy.

It’s important not to negate the fact that the unpleasantries are often the catalyst that push us closer to our destiny!

You may find you are in a hard place, but remember over two thousand years ago, who stood in a similar position, Jesus. He was falsely accused, beaten, mocked, spit on and worse. Through his love and example, he showed us that there is another side to the adversity. He conquered the most unconquerable adversary known to mankind, and gave a message to those he called that would change the world forever.

You are one of the called. Your life is a living message to everyone you meet. Each encounter has the ability to impact a change that lasts. While you may be going through the worst troubles of your life, know that you are qualified. Your trouble will expose the truth about you, that you were made for His purpose, that He has a way of working unimaginable good out of all things. Be steady in the fight, and get ready to share your message, your living message of tremendous triumph!

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Lentils with Pineapple Mustard Curry Sauce

Green lentils carrots peas with pineapple mustard curry sauce

You probably noticed right off the bat I did not mention anything about meatballs in the title of this post. Don’t worry, I’ll share exactly where I found the meatballs so you can get them to use with this dish. While we’re talking about meatballs, can I just say that they are absolutely amazing? I never make meatballs without a sauce to go on top of them. This is the first time that I prepared meatballs with no sauce, so that tells you just how good they are!

Now let’s move to the lentils I know when I was a child I didn’t really care for lentils. I can recall, in the back of my mind, lentils being kind of bland, maybe a little dry, not too palatable, definitely not kid-friendly. I’ve been on a eating healthier trend within the last year, so I tried my hand at making lentils in place of starches like potatoes or white rice. Surprisingly they weren’t bad, it all depends on the seasoning. Here it is, flavorful, delicious lentils for the whole family.

Ingredients

1 cup green lentils

1/2 tsp curry

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 can crushed pineapple in pineapple juice

1/3 cup yellow mustard

1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 12 oz bag of frozen carrots and peas blend

2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Directions

In a pot, add suggested amount of water for the lentils, bring water to a boil, and add lentils.

In a sauce pan on medium heat, add half a can of crushed pineapple and half the juice, add mustard, brown sugar, and seasonings. Stir all the ingredients together as it cooks, until the sauce bubbles, add cream and then turn off the heat.

Once the lentils have cooked for 20 minutes, add half a bag of the pea and carrot blend to cook until unthawed. Once finished, turn off heat, carefully take lentil mixture to the sink and drain off all excess water (use pot holders, and pour very slowly).

Now add the pineapple mustard curry sauce over the looks and stir in thoroughly, and serve while hot. Add fresh chopped cilantro on top of the lentils for a beautifully bright bite.

Chicken meatballs with green lentils

This side dish can be served with the Pineapple Teriyaki meatballs, (package shown in the picture below), or you can serve them with your favorite baked chicken. I found the meatballs at my local grocery store in the specialty sausage section. When you make them, cook them on the stovetop until they get a light char, you’ll thank me for it later.

Aidells teriyaki pineapple chicken meatballs

Green lentils with pineapple mustard curry sauce

When you make your lentils, post a picture using hashtag #cookingwithchara and tell how you enjoyed the dish! Looking forward to seeing your spin on this flavorful dish. Share the shine with your friends too, share this recipe on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Green Lentils with Pineapple Mustard Curry Sauce recipe pin

Thank you for reading and sharing! I hope you enjoy.

With shine,

Chara Jané

Much More Than a Name

A few weeks ago, my family and I spent our Saturday going to a church service held for a group of churches that we fellowship with regularly. The portion that I arrived for was split in two a session for the women and a session for the men. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the women were sharing personal stories that were on a very particular subject, the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is a very familiar passage of scripture found in the fifth chapter of the book of Galatians.

It was conducted by a very dear friend of my family, and she asked a very simple question for each person to share, which attribute of the fruit of the spirit do you feel has most impacted your life? The fruit are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

Fruit of the spirit scripture

As she went around the room she kept calling for different women to give their answer. I sat quietly pondering on what answer I would give. As I heard the amazing stories from each woman about their experiences and how the attribute they selected helped them, I felt so inspired. There were so many tales of overcoming, growing, and being courageous in God. My inward reflection about the fruit lead me to the shortest attribute of them all, joy.

Joy has not only been impactful in my life, I it has defined who I am. The Greek word for joy in the passage is Chara. Yep, that’s where my name came from. Chara means cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness, to be exceedingly joyful.

Meaning of name Chara

When people first look at my name, they’re inclined to pronounce it a number of different ways. I’ve been called “Cor-a” “Ky-ra” “CHAR-a” and “Shara.” As a child, I disliked that no one ever said my name right. I wished for a simple name like Beth or Sue, anything but Chara (spelled like “ch” but pronounced like “k”). I felt that way about my name up until high school, until I began to embrace it. The way I feel about my name has greatly evolved as I have gotten older; I love my name. By me not only embracing my name, but showing my name (the attributes of what it means) has taught me countless life lessons.

I’ve learned that while I do have a naturally cheerful and bubbly personality, the joy that is in me is most powerful when I do not feel cheerful at all. It’s like a silent swelling wave that comes rolling in and crashing down on the feelings of sadness and defeat. Joy gives me a broadened perspective that while everything in my life may be going wrong, it does not mean everything about my life is wrong. Joy has helped me to believe that things will and do get better.

Joy naturally makes me an optimist, I can not help but see the fullness, when circumstances highlight the emptiness. Most importantly, I have learned that joy is not the absence of sadness, hurt, or frustration, but joy is what counteracts the very things that try to defeat it. I shared in an Instagram post this quote,

“I have shine, not because I never faced a storm, but because in every storm I faced I never lost faith in the sun.”

If I could interchange a word in place of shine, it would be joy.

I can now smile and graciously correct people who mispronounce my name. It really doesn’t get under my skin anymore. I have fully embraced my name, what it means, and what it allows me to give. The meaning of my name is not just for me, but it is also for me to share and give to others. Chara is much more than a name to me, it is who I am.


I’m thankful for what joy is and what it means to me. What brings you joy? What are some things you do to keep your joy on full? Share your thoughts and comments below! I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for liking, sharing, and following!

Leftovers: Easter Edition

In case you haven’t heard, I love food! Okay, now that, that’s out of the way we can talk. Easter just passed, I’m sure all of us that celebrated had a wonderful spread of meats, veggies, and dessert that made our bellies glad. It’s usually one of those occasions where the leftovers are fought over, because the food was so good everyone wants to enjoy it again.

In my family, we usually have large portions of leftovers. Since we hosted, a lot of the leftovers stayed with us. I love food, (see I said it again) and I hate to be wasteful. There was so much food leftover from certain dishes that I knew would be harder to get my husband and kids to eat. So, naturally, as the re-purpose queen that I am, I came up with a way to get my family to eat this food! I was going to take the leftovers and create new meals with what I had.

I thought I would share a couple of the things I did to help you eat the leftovers you may have. I know as good as Easter dinner was, it could be tiring eating the same meal repeatedly. Okay, so here’s my short list of redos.

Ham

The ham was the main meat dish for our meal. We usually don’t eat pork outside of bacon and possibly a pork loin every blue moon, so I knew getting my kids to eat ham would be challenging. My solution: add a new side and serve it as a meal.

I decided make red beans and ham. I prepared a 16 oz. bag of red beans as instructed. For seasoning I used 1 tsp Cajun seasoning, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. In addition, I added 1/2 of the suggested ratio of chicken bullion to the cups of water for the beans.

When the red beans were cooked well I added ham in the beans, and served hot. It was a hit!

Easter Ham Leftovers with red beans

Mac and Cheese

One of my family’s favorite dishes, the leftovers usually don’t last long. Instead of simply re-warming it as a side dish, you can recreate a mail dish as a casserole. I call this one Taco Mac and Cheese.

Add one pound of cooked ground turkey and 1/3 cup chopped bell peppers and onion. Stir into macaroni and cheese adding these seasonings: 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. You can also add a little more cheese. Stir all ingredients and seasonings together and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Cabbage

One of my favorite ways to re-purpose leftovers is to make a soup. When it comes to cabbage, it’s one of the easiest ingredients to add to a soup, you can’t mess it up. The cool thing about using cabbage from leftovers is it may have been cooked with a meat, so that will also incorporate into the soup. My mom makes her cabbage with smoked turkey legs, imagine the flavor it will add to the soup!

If your cabbage has meat add ingredients that will compliment the meat. For my turkey leg cabbage soup, start with 8-10 cups of chicken broth. To that base add cabbage and turkey legs, corn, black beans, and a can of diced tomatoes. The seasonings would be: 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon parsley, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and a dash or two of red crushed pepper.

Hopefully these ideas gave you some inspiration for your Easter leftovers! Let me know when you try one of these dishes how it turned out! I’ll be making my cabbage soup today. Happy #foodfriday!

Starting a Nighttime Routine for Toddlers

I knew better. This isn’t my first go at this parenting thing. I knew I shouldn’t have let it go this far. What did I let get out of control? My two youngest’s bedtimes. AJ is 3 years old and I can count how many times he’s been put down in his crib before 10 PM. Amana is 16 months and still isn’t sleeping through the night or staying in her crib.

There’s a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is because of my husband’s old work schedule. He was commuting for work and would leave before the kids awoke, and got home around the time they (should) go to bed. With a dynamic like that, it was natural for me to let both AJ and Amana stay up as late as they wanted to. At first it wasn’t too out of hand, AJ would go to sleep by 10:30, Amana around the same time. Since I am at home with them all day, it seemed okay to let them set their own sleep schedule. Little did I know a change was coming, for the worst.

Around 14 months Amana stopped wanting to be placed in her crib at all. She would literally start to peek out as soon as she felt herself being carried to the crib. As soon as you would lay her in the crib, she would scream and cry uncontrollably! Once she was in privy to the fact that she would be placed on her crib at some point after she fell asleep, she started staying up later, and later, 11, 11:30, even a few minutes past 12. I thought for sure with the later hours, she wouldn’t wake during the night, nope! She was still waking up at 1:30 or 2 in the morning to nurse and co-sleep with me.

The morning routine wasn’t helpful, because AJ is not only a night owl, but an early riser and usually wakes at dawn. With that last ingredient you have the perfect batch for a sleep-deprived mommy on edge! It started spilling over like a boiling pot, my work was slowing down, my thoughts weren’t clear, it was even hard to get out of bed just to feed the kids breakfast. Not to mention, functioning without caffeine was nearly impossible.

I had reached my limit, and it was time to make a change.

Coming up with a plan

In a time that seems far away, I was a very organized person; then motherhood happened. I know creating a nighttime routine for not one, but two toddlers is going to be some work. I have to plan realistically.

In the first week, my goal is to begin the nighttime routine between 8-8:30. I want to have AJ in his crib by 9:30 and Amana asleep by 10:00. I know I have to work the time back, but for the first week that is a realistic goal for both of them.

Bedtime Story with toddlers

My challenge will be creating a calm environment for them every night so I am going to make an agreement with my older children and my husband to turn off all loud-noises or distracting electronics for 30 to 45 minutes while nighttime routine is in motion.

Their routine will consist of bath time, lotion massage, bedtime story and nighttime nursing (for Amana). My helpful aids will be support from my husband and older children, speaking in a calm soothing tone, being consistent, and a little lavender oil.

The Importance of a Nighttime Routine

Even though it’s been over ten years since I last had toddlers, I vividly remember establishing a nighttime routine with the twins. I did the cry-it-out method and though a little painful, for me, it was short and sweet. It allowed me to have space and time to unwind from my day as well as prepare for the next day.

Creating a nighttime routine with my toddlers.

Now that I’ve experienced not having a nighttime routine, I know more than ever the importance of it. Mom’s have a tendency to always put the needs of their family first, I’m a proud member of that club, but I have learned that we have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of our family. I cannot speak for all of us, but for me, as a mother, having a nighttime routine is apart of my self-care. It gives structure to an occupation that has so many responsibilities, that it’s easy for everything to overlap. While at times juggling those responsibilities look easy, it’s a demanding task that requires much work, and equally, that work requires recovery. In order for me to recover the way I need to, I have to have structure. That structure provides a flexible boundary for me to get some much needed rest. After all, I deserve it.


Will you join me on this part of my journey? I will be posting about our nighttime routine journey everyday on Instagram stories. You can follow @chara.jane to keep up, give tips, and help me be accountable. I’d love to hear from you, how did you get through setting up your nighttime routine(s)? Did any of your children have difficulties?

I Filed Child Support After 12 Years

I wanted to start off by saying I’m proud of myself. I did something that I should have done from the very start, and should have done without hesitation, I finally filed for child support. It took almost 12 years for me to realize that it was the right thing to do, and the best thing for my children.

For years I felt ashamed to file for child support. Not because I felt like I was begging, or that I was being greedy, but simply because I felt like I didn’t want to force someone to do something they did not want to do. You’re probably reading this thinking that I’m crazy or too nice, or that I don’t make sense, let me explain.

There was this notion that I had in my own mind that I did not want to become apart of my story. This idea that if I was going to become a mother of children to a person that I was not married to or involved with, I would not use my position as a mother to induce what I wanted on that person. I had heard stories of women who wanted to have children with men so that they could “bait” them into a relationship or so that they could get all their money through child support. Just the implication of doing something like that or being that way as a woman disgusted me.

Chara sleep with newborn twins

Then, at 19, I found myself in the position of being a single mother. Although, there was a relationship, it quickly dissolved. I had no hard feelings about it or towards him, it just was not a good situation. I did not have a dreary outlook on being a single parent, I just knew, one way or another things would be okay.

I was blessed to have a very supportive Dad and Mom who allowed me to live with them rent-free. However, I had to figure out what it meant to be a parent. Over the years that looked like a lot of different things. I had numerous hardships, road blocks, and growing pains. One thing it never looked like to me, was going to file child support. If that meant I made sacrifices or more conservative choices, I did it because that’s what I needed to do for my children to be okay.

The paradigm shift did not come easily. My husband would tell me that I needed to file for support. I would stubbornly say no, I don’t want to force someone to take care of their children. Finally, one day when discussing it, he said, it’s not fair to the boys. Those words pierced my heart. I realized that while I and my husband were sacrificing and working hard to provide and take care of the boys, that same responsibility was not being shared.

Suddenly, it was clear that just like I had to grow into being a parent it was time I shared that experience. It was time that I ensured that my children would be provided for by both of their biological parents. That the financial responsibility and accountability to my children did not solely rest on one parental side. I went online, printed the papers, filled them out and submitted them.

Whether or not I’m forcing someone to do something they want to do is irrelevant. I am making sure I do what is right and best for my children. That they have a life that they deserve, and that’s something I can live with. In hindsight, I see how my one negative view had a great effect on my life. It’s so silly to think that I made things much more difficult, unnecessarily, over an idea of what someone might think of me.

Having a child is one the most precious gifts in life. We all love the joy and privilege of being a parent, we should all love the responsibility of being a parent too. I am both proud and happy to finally share the joy of responsibility.

Chara’s twin boys.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites Receipe

This is my take on buffalo cauliflower bites. Whenever I try a new recipe, I love to add my own spin to it. I am sharing how to make the buffalo bites, but I will also share how they could be served. Let’s get it started!

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup flour

2/3 cup buffalo wing sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp melted butter

Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees. Take the head of cauliflower and cut it into bite-sized pieces. In a medium mixing bowl add water, flour, salt and black pepper stir until smooth in consistency. Add chopped cauliflower into the mixture and gently stir the cauliflower in the mixture until each piece is coated.

Take a cookie sheet and spray it with non-stick spray. Use tongs to transfer the cauliflower from the mixing bowl to the cookie sheet making sure no pieces are touching. Place the cauliflower into the oven for 15 minutes.

In another mixing bowl, add buffalo sauce melted butter, and minced garlic cloves stir until blended evenly. After 15 minutes, remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Take the cauliflower and place it into the buffalo sauce mixture and gently coat all the bites. Place them back on the cookie sheet, and place back into the oven. Bake for 35 minutes, check midpoint to see if the bites need to be turned.

How to serve

I have made this dish a couple of ways. One way is to serve the bites with a delicious, refreshing salad. Another way is with baked potatoes! This week I made loaded baked potatoes with buffalo cauliflower bites! The added toppings were thin-sliced celery, blue cheese dressing and blue cheese crumbles! It was so filling and yum!

What are some ways you would serve the buffalo cauliflower bites? Post a picture using hashtag #cauliflowerpower! I hope you enjoy this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you, below in the comments. Remember to like and share too!

Vegetarian Spaghetti with Vegetti

Vegetti vegetables white squash and zucchini

V is for Valentine’s Day!!! V is also for this simple vegetarian recipe! This Valentine’s Day, I chose a theme, “share the love.” It’s always nice to love on and appreciate the people in your life. The story of how this recipe came about is because someone shared love with me!

I know making vegetable noodles is nothing new, but I was slightly skeptical. I mean, I genuinely love pastas, so why ruin a good thing, right? One day I casually mentioned that my husband and I were considering going vegetarian this year to one of my church mommas. She mentioned the Vegetti (vegetable noodle maker). I was excited to hear not only how easy it was to use, but that the replacement of veggies for noodles was very tasty!

Over the next few days, I pondered over our conversation. I even told my husband I was thinking about going to get my own Vegetti in the near future. He smiled, and told me that I should try it. Before I could go to get one, I was gifted one by my church-momma. She gave it to me with a small bundle of goods to go with it; white squash, zucchini, pasta sauce, diced fire roasted tomatoes and pasta sauce mix.

Vegetti and ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 white squashes
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1- 15 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 packet of pasta sauce mix
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Directions

Place 4 to 6 cups of water in a large pot, on medium-high heat. Take the Vegetti by the metal handles and choose the thin end (to get thin “pasta”) or the thick end (to get thick “pasta”). Place the end of the squash into the Vegetti and turn clockwise over a medium mixing bowl. Once the squash cannot be turned anymore, remove, and start with a new piece of squash. Repeat this process until all of the squash is cut into noodles. The noodles can be cut in half or in fourths so they aren’t too long.

When the water in your pot has reached a boil, add the vegetable noodles to the water to boil for 5-8 minutes, allowing vegetables to get to your desired consistency. After the noodles are cooked, use a strainer to immediately drain off the water. Place the noodles back into the mixing bowl, add olive oil, salt and pepper to the noodles, and stir gently.

In a small sauce pan, add the can of fire roasted tomatoes, pasta sauce seasoning and the directed amount of water (suggested on the seasoning packet). Bring mixture to a quick boil, stir, and turn off heat. Add the tomato and sauce seasoning mixture on top of the noodles, stir until the noodles are evenly coated with mixture. Serve while hot.

Vegetable spaghetti with Vegetti noodles

Try this recipe and let me know what you think! Post a picture using hashtag #charajanerecipe.

The vegetti is very affordable. Here is my affiliate link where you can purchase your Vegetti click here. I receive a small portion of the sale at no cost to you which helps to fund more delicious recipes and how-to’s!

Chara Jané recipe Photo

Thank you so much for liking, sharing and following! Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! ❤️

The Girl with the Silver Backpack

In the mid 1990’s there was a girl in the fourth grade. She went to school everyday with her peers and friends from her neighborhood. She loved riding the school bus, because it was a long ride, and she could spend that time hanging out with her friends. She and her friends didn’t have enough seniority, to pick the prime seats of the bus; the back.

There were a few sixth graders who got on the bus a few stops earlier that would get the prized back seats, and reserve them for their friends. The girl didn’t mind being in the middle of the bus, it wasn’t too bad of a spot. Her and her neighborhood pals would cluster together to tell jokes, dance to the radio, and of course, play the occasional prank. The middle of the bus afforded them the luxury of staying clear from the sixth-graders’ territory, while still being far back enough from the bus driver to not get into too much trouble.

The only drawback from sitting in the middle of the bus, was the runway-like aisle that she had to walk up and down everyday. As soon as you got on the bus, or stood up to get off the bus, you were basically the center of attention. All the riding students would observe and assess what you were wearing, how you looked, and the biggest thing; analyze your school gear.

The girl had a regular large sized backpack, but the rising trend was the trendy mini backpack. When the fad first started, the girl paid it no mind, she liked her backpack, it carried her folder and books comfortably. As the days passed, she noticed that she was the only girl on the bus, and nearly the entire school without a mini backpack. One day, after school, she came home to her mother and asked,

“Mom, can you please buy me one of those new mini backpacks?”

Her mother replied, “I’ll look for one for you sweetheart.”

The girl was beaming the next day, and shared with her closest friend that her mom would be getting her a new backpack. When the girl came home from school one day, her mother had a bag in the kitchen and handed it to her. When the girl reached into the bag, she pulled out a beautiful shiny silver mini backpack. The girl started dancing and jumping around, she was so happy about her new backpack. Later that evening, she transferred all of her belongings into the backpack. She laid it out carefully, on top of her folder, and fell asleep knowing she was well prepared for her school bus catwalk.

The morning couldn’t come fast enough, the girl got on the bus with her friends, and sat down in their usual space. Out the blue, the girl heard a shrill voice from the back of the bus, “Eww, that backpack is so ugly!” One of the the sixth grade girls yelled. The girl, looked back and didn’t respond, but she felt herself inwardly melting as she turned forward in her seat. How humiliating! She quickly began to think about why the sixth grade girl would say that about her backpack. The girl quickly glanced at everyone else’s backpack, she saw a denim, green, maroon, brown and black backpack; not one silver.

She arrived at school and went about the day as usual, except, she tucked her backpack far underneath her desk, instead of on the back of her chair. When she got on the bus to ride home, she tried to be one of the first to get on, as to avoid another walk of shame. As she got to her bus stop she quickly placed her shiny silver backpack on her shoulders and did her best speed walk off the bus. She wanted to run home, but she didn’t want to leave her friends behind. As she started walking with her group of friends, the bus started back up. All of a sudden she heard a loud clicking sound, the sixth grade girl let down her window as the girl walked by and yelled, in her highest pitch, “Silver is not the color!”

The girl didn’t respond, but all of her friends saw the hurt in her eyes. They all tried to comfort her by offering kind words and compliments about her new backpack, but the girl didn’t believe them. She was crushed, the backpack wasn’t what she hoped it would be. She thought it would put her on a cool level, that she wouldn’t be the odd girl out.

When she finally made it to her house, her eyes were full of tears. Her mother greeted her and asked what was wrong. The girl didn’t want to talk about it, and part of her was upset with her mother for picking such a strange color. The girl walked upstairs to her room to cry. She tried to think of ways to fix her new problem while she sat alone in her room.

She walked downstairs to the kitchen where her mother was. “Mom, may I use a marker to color my backpack?”

Her mother looked at her puzzlingly, “No, that won’t look good.”

The girl went on the rest of the day with dread about the sixth grader on the bus.

To her dismay, the next couple of days went on unchanged, she’d get on the bus with her silver backpack, the six grader girl would sneer and tease, the girl would come home crying without saying why.

“Silver’s not the color!” Played on repeat in her head.

It was almost the end of the week, and the girl got off the bus at the end of the day only to hear those dreaded words– SILVER IS NOT THE COLOR. This time, for added charm, the six grader added on, “your backpack sucks!” Something about those three words. The girl decided she could take no more. She scrambled off of the school bus, leaving her friends behind she ran home as fast as she could. By the time her mother greeted her at the door, she was out of breath, cheeks flushed, and eyes pouring tears. As soon as her mother asked what was wrong, she began sobbing and pressed her face into her mother as she hugged her tightly.

Her mother calmly walked her into the kitchen and gently said, “Don’t cry. It’s going to be alright. Tell me what’s wrong.”

The girl left all reservations behind, she loudly blurted out, “The sixth grader on the bus keeps saying my backpack is ugly, that silver is not the color and that my backpack sucks.”

She continued, “Everyone else has nice colors like black, green, maroon, and denim- colored backpacks, but mine is silver.”

Her mother lovingly looked her in the face and said, “I love you. I would never give you anything that was of no value. Nothing about you is ugly or sucky. That sixth grader is mad because she’s jealous that her backpack isn’t as nice as yours. Silver is the color, because it’s your color. Don’t let her make you feel bad that yours is different, that just means you’re special.”

The girl wiped her tears, did her homework, and looked forward to the next day of school. She finally realized, silver was the color.

The girl walked on the bus confidently, with her best aisle strut and went to her seat. The sixth grader squawked, “silver’s not the color!” The girl turned, smiled, and said “You’re just mad because your backpack is so plain.”

The sixth grader dropped her jaw, but said nothing else on the way to school. On the way home the girl was getting off the bus, she heard the click of the window, the sixth grader said “your backpack is so ugly!”

The girl looked back at her, smiled again, and said, “No it’s not.”


After 20 years, it’s amazing how one experience turned into a life-long lesson that will remain relevant; always love and accept yourself. And just in case you’re wondering the girl with the silver backpack was me.

I wasn’t always the most popular, the best dressed, or even the most well liked, but I learned how to love me. That mini silver backpack gave me wings, magic, power. I undoubtedly know it doesn’t matter how different I am as long as I am me, that is the most special thing I can be. This is where I sparked my shine.

What is a life long lesson of yours? What experiences helped to develop your personal shine? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy New Year Countdown: One Word

We’re right at the door of 2018. I’m certain celebrations and festivities are in order for this evening. I am hoping that we all have been doing some reflecting and planning for the upcoming year. Reflecting helps us to see where we have been and to assess what changes need to be made to get us where we want to go. Planning is our blueprint, or roadmap that gets us moving in the right direction. I’m excited to share one way to help set the plans in motion; one word!

In my most recent live video on Facebook, we talked about choosing one word for 2018 that will define or drive the year. I know picking one word is difficult, but I think one way to think of it would be a word that describes your movement for the year. If it’s thought of as a movement and not just an idle word, it will help you bring the word to life.

I read a wonderful article by Michelle Garrett for Mom 2.0, on selecting your one word for the year. She added a point that stuck with me, she shared that your one word should be incorporated in your daily routine. So, when you’re thinking about what yours will be, just remember it is a marathon, not a sprint. The word will help shape the way you approach your day-to-day and help you focus on whatever your goal is for 2018.

I have also seen different people use three connecting words that go along with the one word that describe, explain, or plan out how they will execute their one word for that year. For example, if the one word for the year is FAITH, three connecting words can be study, share, and speak. So everyday you can plan to study things that connect or build your faith, share experiences that showed faith or talk to others about their faith, and speak things that align with your faith; everyday. This reaffirms your word and makes it a living and moving action.

Believe it or not, this is my first year doing the one word. Last year, I started something mid-year that was similar to the one word, but on a smaller scale. I will still continue to do it, so I will share that method during the month of January, so you can join in too.

It’s important to push yourself to grow in every aspect of life. Remember you are remarkable, a living, breathing, amazing work of art. You cannot be duplicated or depreciated, the fact that you are you is the most rare and precious of things. The more you learn and live and grow, the more valuable and precious you become! Go into the year knowing that while you may face new challenges in unknown territories, you are more than well equipped and will come out better for all of it.

May this year be your best yet, full of love and sunshine!

With a warm heart,

Chara Jané

Please take a moment to share what your one word is! I’ll be revealing my one word later today. Go ahead, follow and like on Facebook so you don’t miss it.