Tag Archives: belonging

What’s your fulcrum?

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.

solo seesawA 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.teeter-totter

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.

loaf of bread in mailbox
Special delivery: a fresh loaf of homemade bread from a friend

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.

sliced homemade breadWhen 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.

Moving day - bunch of fun
Moving day: Have a BUNCH of fun in your new home!

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.

walking the dogRecently 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.

Lean in.

Reach out.

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

Bible Quilt: refuge and strength
#biblequiltjournal God is our Refuge and Strength
Whatever you may be facing today, may the Lord be your fulcrum, resting in Him for your strength.

For you locals ready to gear up for some more Bible Quilting, we resume our Weekly Wednesday sessions next Wednesday evening. Come join us!

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


 

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…

Squished In: Family Vacations for the Long Haul

Who remembers those long summer road trips when you were a kid, squished in beside your siblings and marking out your territory with imaginary lines? What memories are sharpest for you? What senses were most heightened?

flower marketWe rattled around in the backseat without seatbelts (gasp!) & looked forward to an ice cold Orange Crush from a pop machine at a gas station somewhere along the way. We often had to stop to clarify directions to supplement our well-worn, wrinkled state map that never seemed to fold back into its original shape. If we missed a turn, we could drive for miles completely unaware of our error because we didn’t have a computerized voice perkily “re-calculating” for us.

Recently, we logged hundreds of miles on a family vacation.  At the end of a busy day of touristing, we squished in tight into our hotel room each evening. Our boys had their nightly discussion re: who was sharing the foldout couch and who was bunking on the floor.

family selfie

Somewhere in the midst of traveling, we are reminded about our nucleus as a family. We make frequent eye contact as we’re plotting our course for the day. We track one another through noisy crowds. We squish in closely together in various modes of public transportation. During all these bumps and nudges, we’re reminded of our belongingness in this rugged little family of ours.

brothersWe amuse ourselves waiting in lines by messing with each other, cracking jokes that don’t make any sense to those around us.

We smooth out each other’s rough edges and finish each other’s sentences.

Although we’re out exploring new territory and mingling among strangers, we’re drawn back to one another to circle up for the next transition.

We move on together as a pack.

My husband and I are not big fans of selfies…and certainly don’t have “the knack” for taking them, especially if we’re trying to capture some scenic background, too. Something happens, though, when we huddle in together, squishing in to fit all of our faces into that little square. We claim each other. fam picWe recognize ourselves in each other’s expressions and features.

We identify as a unit, a lifelong team. famWe validate our sense of belonging to one another. We catch a glimpse of who we are together in this snap of time. This is Family.

In this moment, this is Us. familyWe reconnect in ways on trips that we don’t in our everyday routine. We aren’t distracted by our daily chores and pressing schedules. We focus in on one another.

coffee in the parkAs parents trailing along behind our children, we see with fresh eyes the ways they have grown since our last vacation. We observe how they assert themselves in new situations.

Independence lurks at this one’s fingertips and we feel a click of confirmation that he is ready to launch. I’m reminded that we have to hold him loosely, allowing him to stretch forward toward his new adventures.

treeSummer vacations are full of potential and opportunity. It’s a time to explore and be curious, lingering over new discoveries.

We can be carefree and silly with one another as we share new experiences. frisbee fun

We play frisbee in different parks and walk miles on unfamiliar streets, soaking in the sights and sounds.

We cultivate as many family memories as we can into these precious summer moments, unifying together for the long haul of our family story. . . SQUISHING IN for all we’re worth!



“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1



I wonder

We’re all familiar with the preschool song about twinkling stars in the dark sky…how I wonder what you are…” 

As we’re careening to the end of school, the long stretch of summer prompts us all to wonder a bit more than usual.

WONDER – to think or speculate curiously

My youngest peppers me with questions when we’re out together, asking how things work or pointing out advertising anomalies that don’t make common sense on the surface.

I often stumble through my responses and together we generate a lot of hypotheses, sometimes mutually agreeing to consult Syri in hopes that her lofty British accent will produce a more educated guess.

I love my son’s quirky observations and perpetual curiosity.

WoNdER – to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel

Summer road trips offer families a chance to veer off the beaten path and see some unusual things.

A few years ago on our way to South Dakota, we cruised through Carhenge and also stopped to see the world’s largest ball of twine.

We didn’t necessarily have to understand WHY someone would create such oddities, but we did enjoy wandering about in awe of seeing typical objects accumulated and displayed in some extreme ways.

wonDeR – to doubt

As Moms, we frequently second-guess our day-to-day interactions with our children. We wonder if we’re doing enough. We wonder if we’re doing too much

biking pathWhenever I’m unsettled about a particular interaction with one of my kiddos, I like to process  through it on a walk. I’ll even choose a different path to stimulate my thinking.

I typically can glean some perspective that I didn’t have in the moment. I may realize I need to readjust my expectations or expand the timeframe involved.

The symmetry of nature soothes me as I explore my personal reactions and the unique personality of the child involved. When I see a flower blooming that has just reached its peak, it’s a gentle reminder that my children are blossoming at their own rates as well. Each one is in a different developmental season and I have to nurture in patient, subtle ways, mindful of timing and spacing.yellow lily

WONder – a feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, tinged with admiration

"I know the Plans" Bible Quilt journal templateSometimes a milestone highlights a child’s growth that’s been occurring all along, but is poignantly brought to our present attention in a formal rite of passage.

Our breath catches as we see our child cross the stage at graduation. As he is swept up in a week-long chain of celebratory events and inundated by sweet cards  of validation from friends, family, and former teachers, something shifts between parent and child.

The child’s effort and determination emerges as the primary focus and our parenting role fades away, providing a backdrop for him to truly shine. 

wonder – a miraculous deed or event; remarkable phenomenon

Boys in a redwood tree

Each experience we’ve woven into our child’s life culminates in a unique blend of teenaged flair.

From the rainy kindergarten zoo field trips to numerous play sessions at the park, and all those family vacations, each contributes to a lifetime sense of curiosity.

It’s fun to see teens begin to seek out adventures on their own, perhaps participating in an overseas exchange program or a church mission trip.

Each new experience stirs up WONDER about other cultures and broadens their outlook a little wider.
“Trust in the Lord” Bible Quilt page

As we teeter on the edge of summer, we have the opportunity to ponder a little longer, to question a little deeper… and to marvel at this season of our family’s life a little more intentionally.



To my graduating son, I look at YOU in Wonder.

I will always treasure our shared history fondly, tuck you into my heart tightly, and hold your future loosely.

May your days be full of wonder.

 

 

 

Dandelion Wish and a Bucket List

The List:

  1. Unstructured days:  swimming and laughter

  2. Summer nights: lightning bugs and conversation

  3. Pitchers of lemonade and pages of books

  4. Understanding the connection my children need with social media tools…all of us diving into unchartered waters.     

With Summer on the brink, and the craze of school year activities colliding, it is an interesting time for the mind to sort through it all. Young hearts wanting to run free into unstructured days, and grown-ups feeling compelled to occupy and fill voids with activity. I am purposeful in the things I do and the time I spend, but I am a dreamer too, and I want my children to have it all. Blow on the Dandelion and make lots of wishes.

 

After just watching my first nephew graduate from high school, and listening to the speech given to his class by a peer, it enlightened me on the generation my children are growing up in. So very different then my own; unchartered waters for all of us. They described the importance of electronics and all things digital as their known way of communication. The strong need for connection with friends and family that happens through social media networks. They tried to help my generation understand that this is all that they know,  kids have nothing else to base socializing on as I do. It was insightful to hear the strong need for that connection of love, acceptance, self-esteem building, someone seeing them…it made me pause on my views of electronics. It made me lay down some of my guards and judgements on social media. I still feel that kids are losing true verbal skills and face-to-face conversation, but I am trying to understand the world they have been born into.

 

And so here we go with Summer! How to enter into it:  With wild abandon? Caught off guard without a plan? Structure to the point of exhaustion?

I think my generation has an obligation, a very important one in making sure that we share the roots that we were planted and watered in. It is not so much about ripping them out of technology, but more about coming alongside them and learning how to navigate the new growing communication system; blending the old with the new.

I think about things like how much time I have and how many summers are left with the kids. I dream of places I want to show them in this world, and conversations I want us to share. I want the deep and the fluff of  Summer to collide. I want to be purposeful in giving my children the sweet gift of communication in the form of live, very present conversation. They need to hear the sounds of laughter and not just an LOL typed out. They need to learn the tones of voices, inflections in words, quirky phrases passed down from grandparents that make us smile…and I think it’s vastly important that they hear what silence and quiet sound like; time uninterrupted by text, no words audibly, opportunity for the mind to explore and expand in imagination and sweet refreshment in the Lord. 

The flip side of this is that I don’t want to always give a scowling face when my children ask for electronics. I want to come to a happy agreement together, and this requires me to step into unknown territory that they are much more familiar with. We need to not view one another’s path as  negative, but learn to navigate them in a positive way together. 

So this Summer will be a blend of carefree expanding for all of us. We will mingle good old fashion story-telling with root beer floats and flip-flops, and then we will share a new language of emojis and hashtags that can be a link to stay connected even when we aren’t face to face.  It’s going to be a great Summer for all of us!

 

Be Joyful always, Pray continually, Give Thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:16-18