Category Archives: Family Ties

Emotional Stewardship

 

Bible Quilt®️ journaling at the Turquoise TableThis picnic table is one of my favorite places to do my devotions and create in my Bible Quilt journal.

I like to settle in with my colorful supplies, enjoying  nature and an occasional wave with neighbors, while I have my Quiet Time.

Turquoise Table under squirrel siege

My current reality, however,  is reflected in this 2nd picture: NOT much is going on in this little spot these days!

Summer heat has marched back in with a vengeance, the ants have developed some impressive infrastructure all around the base of #theturquoisetable, and my schedule has been squeezed from a lot of different directions lately.

As I walked past this spot yesterday, I was reminded that we need to hold our routines loosely. Although this  is still my favored space in the yard, I’m just not able to  visit it as frequently as I’d like during this season of family life. I have to release my expectations of all the time I could be spending here to be more fully present in other areas right now. I’m somewhat grudgingly relinquishing it to the charmed squirrels who picnic here in my absence. 

cloudsWe all know about self-care during stressful times, but the gritty truth is that it’s one of the first things to slip through the cracks.

– – – Stewarding our emotional resources is vital in seasons of stress.

I’ve been experimenting with some ways to squish my rhythms of self-care in the chinks between tangible agenda items. Maybe one of these will resonate with you…

climatis openingPay attention to what really FILLS you up. Cling to that even if it’s in smaller doses than you usually would have.

I shorten my walks, but still try to get out there. To optimize the experience, I’ll go on a  new path …or take a familiar path in reverse.

I shave a few minutes off of my morning devotions in order to have time to throw ingredients in the crockpot for dinner.

reflecting pondConsolidate when you can.

I’ll return a friend’s phone call while I’m taking my dog for a walk rather than listening to a podcast like I normally would.

I add forgotten items to my grocery order while I’m in the school pick-up line. I treat myself to a social media break when I’m waiting on my order or in the pharmacy line. I tiptoe into these waters rather than wade.

Share your own household chores or give yourself a “pass.”

I’ll ask one of my boys to water plants I typically water. I skip making the bed…or let my hubby beat me to it.

We’re putting out the paper plates and using up what’s already in the freezer rather than come up with something new.

I’m embracing more days of ponytails & hats instead of battling humidity and frizz with my hair dryer.

sun peeking through treeAcknowledge you’re in a marathon season, so don’t go for a full-out sprint at this point. Conserve your emotional energy.

Endurance and perseverance are critical when you’re in a long-term circumstance. Interval training makes you stronger. You may have short bursts in which you have to sprint, but allow for some recovery time. Have a friend be a “pacer” for you. Keep your eyes on that long-distance goal.

It’s important for us to have enough self-awareness to recognize when unexpected people step in as our encouragers that they are meant to be in step with us for this season. The Lord will provide who we need at that particular mile for a given stretch of our race.

Celebrate each mile marker – – – even if you’re tired and have more miles to go.

When we’re supporting loved ones during challenging times, it can seem a little jarring to step into life events still going on around us.

It’s okay to take a breather from the heavy emotions and soak in some lighter ones.

Celebrate the joys of other family members. Eat the birthday cheesecake. Take the silly pictures.

cloud artLook for ways to tweak your perspective.

Recently I’ve found myself marveling at the wonders of the sky.

Feeling small by comparison helps the issues circling me not feel so big.

Release the weight of Today to be open for Tomorrow…

window view of sunrise

– – – “HIS mercies are new every morning.” – – –Lamentations 3:21

 

#biblequiltjournal
#biblequiltjournal page on Lamentations

Our Colorful Home

A Rainbow of colors is always what my heart has adored. When I was a little girl I spent many hours coloring and creating with the whole box of crayons. I’m looking at the color spectrum today through the lens of the home…here is what I saw.  (I hope you try this exercise in your own home; you can’t help but smile!

 

Let’s start with RED! It’s my very favorite, and always has been! I carry or wear something RED every day if I can.  My little RED pirate is a bit older now, but this is intuitive of his lively spirit! This other small sleeper reminds me that his RED winter blanket is out year round because he loves it so.

A garden is a dear piece of my heart reminding me of my grandparents and then my mom always digging in the soil. These RED tomatoes grown by my own kids also reminds me of tasty summer dinners! And when finishing an ocean adventure one summer, these treasures with the RED heart leaf were handed to me by a son to “keep safe” while he ran back into the calling waves.

ORANGE is another favorite of mine! The warmth that comes from this color, along with the liveliness it evokes, makes my heart happy. These ORANGE pumpkins are a snapshot I take every Fall after the boys have picked their carving pumpkins and thrown them all together in a wagon; I always love to see the collection! All the shades of ORANGE from bright to burnt are so beautiful mixed together. One of our family’s favorite Fall activities is nature walks and collecting colorful leaves to press. (It’s such a feast for the eyes.)

 

Oh! The orneriness that comes out of the color YELLOW!! It makes one feel bold and giggly! I walked in one evening after dinner was over and found this cutie playing on the counter in his footy jammies! We just exchanged smiles and kept going.  

There was a season when all our babies were small and self-preservation kicked in for us; this inflatable YELLOW bounce house was one of the best purchases ever!! It stayed up in our living room for 4 months!

 

 

And after a Cinqo de Mayo many moons ago, we instituted the GREEN cactus chip and dip as the only acceptable thing to accompany salsa in the month of May! We crack ourselves up every time we set this up! There’s no need to ever deflate it.

 

There is no doubt in any of our minds who the firecracker is in our family. This little squirt is a bundle of energy always; and these GREEN pjs were paired with Santa hats, elf ears, gingerbread handbands…you name it, he danced with it on top of his head!

BLUE is an important color in all my boys lives. Many afternoons have been spent on a playground since children became a part of my heart. Their eyes always look up into the BLUE sky at some point of play and share what they see in the clouds…I love the imagination that comes from  BLUE!

 

 

PURPLE  is not a color that appears regularly in our home; no particular reason. It does show up in accents though. There are a few snippets that highlight other colors from time-to-time.

 

 

 

And as we come full circle from the rainbow, it’s very clear to my eye that any combo of these colors is what makes our seasons come to life! Take a look at the colors in your home and enjoy the memories that they help you make with one another. It’s a really fun exercise.

Wishing you a very COLORFUL Season!

 

 

 

How to Make the Most of Lasts & Firsts

“Big Transitions” has been the name of the game around here the past few weeks…

  • world travelerlaunching our oldest son to college
  • welcoming our Chinese exchange student back, tossing him into our busy family life, then sending him off to college too
  • preparing our other two sons for their return to middle school and high school

Throw in ongoing AC problems for a sweltering month, persistent internet malfunctions and a significant health diagnosis for a parent, and it has been a downright whirlwind.

end-of-summer flowersAs we’ve celebrated the Lasts of the Summer and stepped into the First inklings of Fall, I’ve been trying to hunker down and just breathe.

I’ve journaled and I’ve taken some fervently brisk walks around the neighborhood in an effort to soothe the restless yammerings inside my head.

Here’s a few things I’ve sifted out:

~ ~ Acknowledge all the shifting feelings. Edit later.

I told a friend recently I felt like a human pinball machine, ricocheting off one thing after another, alarms and dings constantly beeping around me.

Although I felt like I was managing pretty well with the expected parts of multiple transitions, I realized I was “emotionally leaky” when unexpected challenges arose again and again.

I might have been the tearfully quiet woman on the phone, trying not to sob out loud when the air conditioning company informed me that they would NOT be able to work us into their schedule the night before an event at my house!

Acknowledge the wide mix of feelings and their varying intensity as you’re caught up in a time of upheaval, yet give yourself grace to sift through them later.

~ ~ Savor one moment at a time

root beer floatsIt’s hard to have your feet in two worlds at one time.

Absorbing the current moment with both feet solidly planted in the Now helps you focus and soak in the atmosphere around you and connect with the person beside you.

Rootbeer floats on a hot afternoon with your favorite middle schooler is a double treat!

Then you take a deep breath and step forward into the next moment.

late august blooms

~ ~ Keep it Simple

Pray over the small details in a health crisis and identify snatches of gratitude along the way (e.g. timeliness of reports, an extra kindness of the receptionist, or the gesture of a physician providing his own cell phone number to you.)

odometer readingTackle the little things that you can accomplish during a whirlwind season of change. Match up the single socks floating around the laundry room. Clean out the refrigerator. Get your car washed. Lie back in that hammock a few minutes and allow the perspective shift to settle into your bones. Chase the Quiet in the midst of the chaos.

The long-term Big Picture can feel overwhelming. Keep focused on the tangibles of today rather than wallowing in the haze of tomorrow’s worries.

When my permit-only son drove me around on errands, I felt more grounded because my attention was on him and his experience…like watching the odometer roll 123,456 miles as he drove over the bridge to his cross country practice!

Times of crisis don’t have to steal our joy. We can lean into each other to appreciate these little moments shared in this particular season.

~ ~ Release

As parents we can’t hold too tightly to our children. We have to release them when they’re ready to spread their wings. As we celebrate each milestone, our momma’s hearts soar. Yet when we see them take flight, it’s a tender time for all of us. Embrace it all!

Bear Hug sandwich!
Bear Hug sandwich! #BU22

As we prepared for our firstborn to head off to college, I kept focusing on the simple phrase #launchwell to ground me during the flurry of sorting, packing, and loading.

As we neared the Countdown, I had a heightened awareness of Lasts with our son in our daily family life. Our last time at church together as a family. Our last meal together. Each day poignantly echoed the reality impending upon us. His spot at the dinner table would be empty. The light tread of his feet down the stairs would be absent.

#biblequiltjournal #standfirm

I had to recognize that many of our Lasts transformed quickly into his Firsts. Our Release became his time to Shine.

Big Transitions are messy and emotional yet they transform us in remarkable ways we cannot glimpse yet. We press on, standing firm in our faith. We move forward, knowing we are not alone.


“…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”        Isaiah 40:31


 

Strawberry Sensation: Whip up an Instant Family Favorite!

You know you have a winner recipe when you  jot down the date and your family’s reaction when you first try it, then add notes over the years as you tweak it here and there.

Ten years ago I tore a recipe out of a magazine and made it for my husband’s birthday. “Yummy!” was the general consensus…so I made it the following year and added another note to my recipe, “Still yummy!” (thus, a family favorite was born…)

strawberry sensation

Strawberry Sensation

4 cups fresh strawberries, divided (I use all 4 cups in step #2 and add another generous amount of fresh strawberries when I’m ready to serve)

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (you could decrease amount slightly to reduce sweetness or use fat free version)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 8 oz. container cool whip (or homemade – see below)

8 Oreos (double or triple the amount so you can add a middle layer)

1 Tbsp butter, melted (depending on how many Oreos you crumble, you may want a little more butter to hold topping mix together)

I love recipes that have a short list of ingredients, and I especially appreciate recipes that can be made in advance. This one is a WIN-WIN! You can keep  one  in your freezer & pull out for an instant crowd pleaser at any time.easy recipe

Step #1 – Prep pan: Line inside of 8 x4-inch loaf pan with foil, leaving a generous overlap to allow for a full coverage later.

Step #2 – Strawberry Mixture: Slice and mash 2-4 cups of strawberries in a large bowl. Stir in condensed milk & lemon juice. Fold in 2 cups of cool whip.

Step #3 – Pour about 1/2 of this yummy goodness into the foil-lined loaf pan.

Step #4- Crush Oreos in a ziploc bag. This is a perfect job for any young helper you may have lying in wait that you can “pay” with a couple Oreos! Add the melted butter into the ziploc and blend in the bag.

Step #5 – Sprinkle about 1/2 of the Oreo topping over the strawberry mixture.

Step #6 – Pour the remaining strawberry mixture into the pan.

Step #7 – Spoon the remaining Oreo topping onto the strawberry mixture, gentle pressing the cookie crumbles into a layer.

Step #8 – Prep for freezing: Fold the foil ends over until the pan is completely covered.

Step #9 – Freeze 6 hours or until firm. I’ve left one in the freezer a couple months & it was fine. I think I made 2 for Memorial Day weekend one year and only served one. It was a happy surprise to rediscover it again just in time for a 4th of July swim party! 

Step #10 – To Serve: Invert onto a serving plate, remove pan and foil. Spread the remaining cool whip onto the top and sides. Slice fresh strawberries, then layer them on the top and along sides of the dessert. Allow to sit at room temperature about 30 minutes until it has softened enough to slice.

blowing out candlesTheoretically this recipe makes 12 servings, but not for my crew! If it’s not all gobbled up during your first serving, then store the remainder in the freezer for a lucky few to have a second round later.

This is easy enough for any summer day, but yummy enough to grant as special birthday wish!

strawberries and creamBonus touch:  Instead of store bought cool whip, make your own! Beat heavy whipping cream in mixer until peaks form, adding a splash of vanilla and a little sugar to taste.

~ ~ ~ Hope you enjoy this sensational dessert to finish your summer strong! ~ ~ ~

***If blueberries are more your jam, check out For the Love of…Blueberries 

Broken Seashells

For an Oklahoma Girl that loves her home and every beautiful big sunset across the skies, my heart has always yearned for the ocean views. I don’t need to pack up and move, but it does my soul good to gaze at an ocean from time-to-time. My family got that opportunity this summer. 

The waves were stirred up in the ocean and my two older sons LOVED it! They ran out into them and collided with wild abandon. They jumped into them, over them, and got knocked down by them for hours. They laughed for such a long time.

The foam that rushed to shore teased my two younger sons over and over again. They ran through it as it reached and pulled back toward the ocean. Sand castles were made, and boys buried each other up to their necks in sand for the better part of a day.

BUT THE SEASHELLS! The seashells were the BEST part. But not in the way I had dreamed them to be. My mind was fixed on big, beautiful shells; whole and perfect in every way. Because the tide was so rough on our stay, the shells that are normally on the beach had been taken back into sandbars under the water. We were left with scattered fragments and broken pieces on the shore. My youngest was completely captivated by each tiny, broken sliver. He brought each one to me as of holding a treasure of great worth. I kept thinking of what might be out further if only we could see them…I tucked away my disappointment at not being able to get them.

Meanwhile the other boys kept shouting, “You should feel how many shells we are walking across out here, Mom!” “There are tons of them!!” And I knew there was no way to pick them up because of the persistent waves. These shells that I imagined were big, perfect…at arms reach, but impossible to see or get because of circumstances.

Meanwhile, my youngest son’s bucket overflowed and JOY was found in each broken discovery on shore. He never once saw them as incomplete. He was in awe at each color, pattern, barnacle attached…each one SO WORTHY.

What a picture of God’s LOVE I saw played out before me on that ocean shore. We came together as a family and collected many pieces of shells together. We turned each fragment over in our hands and discovered hidden beauty in each part; they became priceless to our hearts. AND THEN…we began to dream beautiful dreams of how to put them together once we returned home; taking the many pieces and giving them beautiful purpose that can only be made together.

I just love the ocean. I learned the hidden beauty in the broken shells. It will impact me forever.  Near that water, if you are still, God speaks to your soul.

If you are in our neck of the woods this Thursday evening, please stop in for a Simply Summer Session at 7pm. It’s at Di’s home and it is an open house Bible Quilt night. I’ll be working on a page with Seashells…

What Do You Do When A Unicorn Arrives In The Pool?

As a certified “Boymom”, I have expertise in many things: preparing large quantities of food, all the top jokes on belching and farting, the technique of spitting and all the ways Nerf darts can get wedged in things.

I have lost touch with “cute and dainty” and colors like pink and purple faded out of my color palette long ago. Boymom’s know about Nerf Guns, Lego’s, Cars and games like Battleship, Risk, Monopoly, (with LOTS of Uno in-between). So when I had an opportunity to host a pool party for my cousin’s two girls, I of course said, “YES!” The theme was Unicorns, the colors were pink and turquoise…sounds simple, but then I remembered I live in a world of camo colors!!

So we put a Unicorn Float in the pool and I hunted, (to no avail), for pink decor in my home; why I don’t know, just ever hopeful. I imagine that girls would probably “float” on a Unicorn Float.  Boys “ride” a Unicorn Float. And by “ride”, I definitely mean “grab it by its rainbow wings and yell”. So hence, this is how our first Unicorn Float lost its “float”, all before the girl’s themed party.

My sons, ever resourceful, spent two hours and half a roll of duct tape trying to find the leak. The bigger problem arose when they realized it was not just a one leak issue.

Let it be noted that when you leap with wild abandon onto a Unicorn Float all afternoon and scream at the top of your lungs,”giddy-up go, go, go!”, this is the end result.

By the time I saw all the tape around the Unicorns wing and neck, I said “enough”. This meant I had to get another Unicorn. And this is how the original float became just a Unicorn Head. The boys salvaged the head that had its own air supply. My first thought was, “well, alrighty we have the makings of a Halloween costume”, but my boys first thought was not even on the same level. I did not discover their grand plan until the night before the girl’s party…

Once we had another Unicorn Float in our possession that we deemed “Unicorn Island” because of its massive dominance over the pool, it was well-known to the boys that it was off-limits! They were told to not even walk near it. It must stay intact for the party.

The day of the party arrived and as I walked outside to survey our Unicorn,  I gasped as I looked up in the tree fort and saw the Unicorn Head tied on a rope hanging off the decking! The boys thought this was hilarious; I imagined the horror that girls would have on sight. And so another difference in boys and girls!!

The Unicorn Party was a huge success in the end, and I must say the memories made in the process are priceless to me. I love the vast differences in boys and girls; and I now have a fun connection with Unicorns! (Ours is going to be spoiled, I can see it now…)

Happy Summering!