Deanna Ray – Local Music Review

As a mama to three Tinies age four and under, it isn’t too often that I take time for a Girls Night… so when I do have time to take in the Kansas City culture I love to support local businesses, artists and musicians. A while back, a friend and I took a chance on something new and visited the Historic Liberty Square to peruse quaint shops, sip good coffee and check out some local musicians. We caught a bit from a couple of artists, but the real standout for me was Deanna Ray

As my friend and I entered Hammerhand Coffee, we noted Deanna’s melodic tones immediately. Her vocals are smooth and unhurried, and her style is surprisingly refined for such a young artist.  She reminds one of the jazz greats from long ago – a surprisingly fresh and unique voice in a sea of same. Her covers were true to her own style, and her original songs drew us in to each story and kept us interested. 

If you have the chance to hear this up-and-comer from Kansas City, take it! 

Find her at her websiteFacebook or YouTube – you won’t be sorry!

Calm down, internet. It’s just finger paint.

2017-08-09_0002Yes, I know what it looks like. What can I say? The boy is creative. He comes by it naturally. Never in his life has he seen any of the Star Wars movies, but his cousin has a Darth Maul action figure, so when an opportunity to emulate the tough-looking villain arose… Well, clearly he jumped on it.

Every mama out there can relate to the split second of inner turmoil I experienced at the sight of such a mess. As soon as my logic assured me that this was not blood and my stomach had climbed halfway back down my throat, a silent battle ensued as my inner Mama Who Spends Entirely Too Much Time Cleaning All the Things waged an epic war with my inner Mama Who Encourages Creativity and Thinking Outside the Box. Fortunately for our little Darth Maul, Creative Mama won this round and grabbed her camera to document the somewhat macabre sight. 2017-08-09_0004

I have to give him credit for his zeal. Zai had fully committed himself to this endeavor. This was no ho-hum morning craft routine to him. He carefully mixed the red with the tiny bit of yellow and blue to create just the right color. He could have made a couple of handprints or drawn a picture of a hot air balloon, but that wasn’t enough for him. He wasn’t satisfied with the finger painting status quo. He wanted whole arms, face, head, neck, legs and feet…all in. I have no doubt he would have bathed in the stuff if that were an option.

He saw someone he wanted to resemble, so he dived in and made it happen.


Can we each say the same?

When our days are long and our nights are short and

our children are arguing and our finances are tight and

we are tired and our time and resources are spent

do we put on Love anyway?

Do we dive in to the attributes that Holy Spirit longs to drape over, around and through us at every opportunity? Are we desperate for every inch of us to resemble Jesus – in thought, word and action? Do we thoughtfully and prayerfully share what He leads us to share, being careful not to color His intentions with our own?

Or do we find ourselves pulling the worn comfort of convenience over our heads?


When we look in the mirror and find ourselves face to face with whom we most resemble, is it the One we profess to follow? Or is it someone else entirely?

Sometimes, I think we all get caught up in thinking that love is only ever these big, selfless acts. Grand, sweeping gestures that no one could ever repay. We fail to realize that thinking that way may make it easier for us to excuse ourselves from the running, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth: love turns the small things into big things… and love starts with putting on Truth, every single day.

These are some hard questions, Loves, but they are necessary.

Are we diving into the Word with the One we want to resemble? Are we wrapping ourselves in Truth, every day? Or are we merely shuffling through our routines, checking off our boxes and expecting Him to rub off on us by association?

Choosing to spend time in the Word and in prayer is not easy. Some days, we flat out do not want to do it. The kids are crazy, we have a million and one things to do, our laundry is piling up, the dog ate our favorite shoes, we are just not in the right frame of mind… our excuses could go on for hours. We all know that we need that Truth and time with Him, but the truth is that we are easily distracted by the things of this world.



Father, thank You for Your power and majesty. Thank you for listening when we pray. I confess that I am not always “all in” when it comes to loving others. Renew my heart and instill in me a desire to see and love others as You do. You know my heart and human nature. You know the traps that so easily sidetrack me. Holy Spirit, show me when I am falling away and convict me to press in when I start to become distracted. I love you.

As we finish out this week, I am recommitting to rise early and spend time in the Word and in prayer. Will you join me? What are some of the ways that you feel Holy Spirit nudging you to love those in your circles?

We have this Hope.

Loss touches all of us in one season or another.


This week, many of my tribe have found themselves struggling to stay aright in the rush of it’s tide.

Dear ones watched the waters rising steadily over days and months and years. They knew what was coming and readied themselves by loving fully and with complete abandon. Other dear ones found their feet swept from beneath them, ripped away by the unexpected current in one fast and furious moment. Each one so brave, toeing uncertain ground as they feel out their new place and rhythm amid the swirling blues and blacks and greens.


Others, like me, wrest the returning tide. We have come to expect it, and the foamy waves are tempered by grace and years now. But still the waters churn.

Their loss, and my own, weighs heavy tonight.

I don’t know why two sweet friends will wake up tomorrow without the husbands they loved so long and well.

Or why a different friend will face tomorrow without her mom.

I don’t know why Rebecca must ache for her Elijah.

Or why we were only given a few short minutes with our own daughter.

I don’t know why the one who made me a Mama isn’t here. Or why she and I must worship the Son from different sides of eternity.


But I do know the One Who sees and holds us in our sorrow.

He, too, knows the ache of loss. The swell of grief that can throttle a throat and silence a voice. The finality of death and the constant sting of separation.

Imagine Him standing there near the foot of the cross, close enough to reach out and touch His Jesus. Eyes locked on the Savior’s face, how His own chest would have labored as His breathing sped and slowed to match the uneven gasps of His Son.

Imagine Him as He watched His perfect, precious One be falsely accused. Beaten, and ridiculed. Abandoned. He heard and felt every lash of the whip. He winced with every shard of glass that tore divine flesh. He watched Him as the very people He was dying for callously strung Him up between criminals, paying no heed to holy hands and feet.

Can you see it? The pride in His eyes as He witnessed the interaction between Jesus and the criminals beside Him. Can you hear His sharp intake of breath and see His hand involuntarily reach out as the words claw their way out of the Son, “Why have You forsaken me?”

And the deep, wrenching sobs that threatened to well up within the Father as the Light of the world slipped into darkness.


A couple of months following our daughter’s death, I found myself echoing that cry. I was utterly alone, hours from home and driving away from the funeral home with our daughter’s ashes in a cold little pewter heart on the car seat beside me.

There was no doubt in my mind that our Tiny was dancing, laughing and worshiping the very same Light who died on the cross, and I was overjoyed that she got to skip this mess of life and pain and instead experience all that He has for us for eternity, but ya’ll? My mama-heart was is sad. Just like His Father-heart was sad.

He created that capacity to grieve within us. But through His own loss, He also made a way for us to have Hope. When faced with loss that would threaten to drag us under and toss us about, we have this hope as an anchor for our souls.

Whatever we are facing today, we can rest in the fact that He knows us intimately. He designed us. He knows exactly what we are feeling, because He Himself has felt it. He knows what we are facing, because He Himself has faced it.

And no matter what happens, He will not let us go.


Hi there. I’m Mama.

…but to most I go by Merry.

First and foremost, I’m a sinner saved and forever follower of Jesus.  He has wrecked me for any other, and I will never be the same.  He knows my heart, my future and my past… and loves me anyway.  I will worship Him all the days of my life and for eternity after.


I am a wife to Jamie and Mama to our four Tinies – one with Jesus already and three-under-four here with us.  I am also a writer and photographer.  I love to document both the extraordinary and the everyday…through the written word and images alike.


This season is filled with all kinds of crazy.  Our Tinies are a constant source of joy, delight, laughter and tears, and while I know Who holds our future and present… I sometimes find myself grasping for the eternal while drowning in the ordinary.  Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it’s hard to remember your calling when you are covered in baby vom.

Or when you are vacuuming the same rug for the eleventieth time.

Or when you pat yourself on the back for unloading the dishwasher in five minutes flat…only to realize the load had not been run yet.

Or when you legit just lost your cool because seriously WHERE ARE ALL THE SIPPY CUPS?


This is our life.  There is love and joy here.  There are mistakes and sadness, too.  But should oceans rise and mountains fall, He never fails.*

Consider this fair warning: this journey won’t be for the faint-hearted.  It will require transparency.  It will require  authenticity.  We are going to be those things together.  We will definitely laugh, but we all might ugly cry, too.  I can pretty much guarantee it.

Still with me?

Welcome to the Mayhem.



*Borrowed from “Take heart” by Hillsong United.