Bible Quilt your selected verse:Recognize that some days you may feel more creative than others. It’s okay to just focus on the words and jot down the reference. You can always add more embellishments on a higher energy day.
Pray. Father God, abide in us and through us today. Let our actions be reflective of Your grace intertwining in our lives today.
It’s been a while since I’ve been on a teeter-totter, but I have fond childhood memories spending time with a special friend, seesawing and giggling as we soared up and down on that creaky teeter-totter.
The seesaw is an example of one of the 6 simple machines that we learned about way back in elementary science class. The integral piece of a teeter totter is the fulcrum, the point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots.
A teeter-totter is one of those playground structures that requires a friend. It’s rather pointless to sit on a teeter-totter by yourself. It doesn’t get you anywhere. As soon as you’re joined by a friend, however, it becomes an interactive piece of equipment with “fun” potential.
Friends share each other’s ups and owns, balancing each other out. When one friend is down, the other often has a clearer perspective of the situation. You can help a friend shift back into neutral by leaning in or adjusting your own position.
Reciprocity is a beautiful part of friendship. This give-and-take between friends strengthens the relationship as friends buffer each other in the ups and downs of life.
We can soften the landing if we see a friend heading for a hard fall.
We can slow down the pace when the momentum gets too frenetic.
We can offset the load by grounding ourselves for a moment, standing firm to steady our friend.
To manage our end of the teeter totter, we need to maintain contact, being aware of our friend’s level of readiness for impact.
Most importantly we need to have a shared fulcrum that allows us to have some leverage when we need it. The fulcrum plays an essential role. We depend on it for support and stability. It bears our combined weight even as we gain momentum together.
When we lean on the Lord as the fulcrum in our relationships, we depend on Him for support to bear our emotional weight and to dissipate our shared burdens.
We all have a turn at the downs of life and may find ourselves on the receiving end of a friend’s kind gesture. During these tender times, we’re challenged to be open and receptive even though it feels a little vulnerable.
When we hear struggles that our friends are facing, sometimes it’s unclear how we can help. Although we can always offer to pray, sometimes we want to put our support into more tangible action.
It can be tricky knowing when to offer a word of encouragement or figuring out an action step to support a friend. We have some social norms that guide us in some situations, but otherwise this helping gig can seem pretty murky.
This year I’ve been working on releasing expectations and praying that I follow the Lord’s leading in each day as it unfolds. I’ve tried to be more intentional when I feel a #Godnudge to do an act of support for a friend. Sometimes these nudges seem small or random, but the obedience to follow through on them allows the Lord to do His work.
To connect with long-distance friends, sometimes I’ll call them while I’m taking a walk to catch up. It’s a double stress reliever…often for both of us.
Recently when I was chatting with an out-of-state friend, she offered prayer support for a family situation. Then she commented that she wished she could help me out in some way. I had a #Godnudge to ask her if she had some simple recipes she could send me to take the brainwork out of menu planning. Having something new to try helped me regain some momentum in the kitchen.
Last Tuesday, I stepped out of my comfort zone to reach out to someone I didn’t know concerning a sweet girl and a group of her friends. Within 24 hours, this same girl was acting on a #Godnudge to do something for me.
These little interactions reminded me that when we connect through Him and utilize Him as the pivot point in our relationship, He can bless us in many different ways.
Listen for that #Godnudge.
Be brave as you act on it…and gracious receiving.
“God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Whatever you may be facing today, may the Lord be your fulcrum, resting in Him for your strength.
“Big Transitions” has been the name of the game around here the past few weeks…
launching 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.
As 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 expectedparts 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
It’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.
~ ~ 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.)
Tackle 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!
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.
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
Last week began with a two-day stay at the hospital with my son for an unexpected procedure following a dramatic ER visit. This week started out with lovely spring weather and the chance to play in the dirt, planting pretty flowers.
From one week to the next it was quite a contrast and, boy, am I grateful to have it moving in a positive direction!
One end of my garden zone is full of shriveled plants, brittle vines, and cracked, dusty pots that have been neglected during the winter. The other end of my garden is beginning to show splashes of color amidst freshly turned soil and vibrant green starter veggies.
It’s a contrast between what has faded away and what is blossoming with hopeful growth.
Last fall we were eager to get the school routine in full swing again, fresh school supplies nestled into tidy backpacks. As the school year is now dwindling into mere weeks, the energy level for it is more sludgy than springy.
Final exams and long-term project deadlines loom overhead and students are slinking out the door as late as possible, ripped backpacks slung quickly over their shoulders.
The end of something is strikingly different from its fresh beginning.
Nature is full of contrasts and what pulls us in to wander about in different environments, stretching us beyond our familiar.
Life is punctuated with peaks and valleys; our energy levels ebb and flow throughout the various seasons of family life.
These contrasts give us dimension and help strengthen our resolve to push onward. Contrasting experiences help us see deeper perspectives, softening our rough edges. We have the opportunity to adjust our outlook throughout the intensity of the highs and lows, transforming ourselves in the gritty middle.
Contrasting opinions broaden our discussions, widening our cultural lens.
Contrast keeps boring at a distance.
Photographers seek it; architects nurture it.
When we pause to appreciate the contrasts of the human experience, our inward reflections deepen and our connections with others can become more fully saturated as we see richer hues in those around us.
Perhaps we can glimpse a sparkle of hope where we had only previously seen darkness.
The raggedness of grief may slowly slip into sweet reminiscence.
Maybe we see the blossoming of a child as they overcome a personal struggle.
As graduation looms around the corner for many families, we’ll be struck by the contrast of our young, confident adults tackling their last days of school while we’re remembering their little faces on the first day of school.
They will be on the tippy toes of a new adventure while we’re clinging to their childhood for just a sliver longer. We’ll walk through the contrasting emotions of pride and loss; hope and disbelief . . . letting go and hugging just a little bit tighter. Parents will ponder, “how did this happen so fast?” while their kiddos wonder “will the last day evvver get here?”
Contrast highlights what’s important.
It sharpens our focus on details that matter.
It awakens our souls to pay attention.
Let’s embrace the contrasts that enrich our lives and weave us together ~~ God’s beautiful tapestry unfolding around us.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8