This 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.
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.
We 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…
Pay 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.
Consolidate 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.
Acknowledge 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.
Look 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…
– – – “HIS mercies are new every morning.” – – –Lamentations 3:21
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.
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 ORANGEpumpkins 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.
My Table was a housewarming gift from my sis-in-law when my family moved a year ago. My Table was painted by all the boys in my life. My Table was intended for the front yard…but My Table filled with life in my backyard. This is a 1 year glance with My Table:
Prep and Painting took several days in short bursts, but was done by both our families so that we would each have a Table. Turquoise was our color; modeled after the great Kristin Schell, who has a beautiful following with her #theturquoisetable phenomena. We both love all that she is doing with community across our country.
My heart knew that this Table needed to be in our backyard. We had moved based on the hunger my family had to have a backyard to play in, dream in, run and be still in. The previous 2 years we had hardly set foot in our yard because it was a large hill with mud slides. This new yard, this new table…it beckoned us to come outside.
One day I snuck outside and set up snacks on the Table while boys were playing. It wasn’t even 5 minutes before the table was covered in hungry boys and conversations.
I looked outside one morning and found my 9-year-old sitting at the Table whittling a stick. This was carried over from time spent with PawPaw.
We hosted our first pumpkin carving in the new house and set it all around the Table.
Even snowflakes enticed us out as the boys had fun “drawing” in them on the Table.
When Spring burst forth, we gathered all the chickadees and had egg hunts around the Table.
And with warm weather, came opportunities to invite friends and family over and do life outside. Coloring sessions, card games, checkers and eating took place regularly on the table. Kids lingered until dusk and generations linked in games at the Table.
On several occasions throughout the Summer there have been strategy meetings at the Table. Neighbor friends hashing out plans for attack in the latest battle in boys imaginations.
Our family raises turtles, and when we received a baby one from cousins, it happened to be at the Table.
My mom had a miraculous recovery from a horrendous incident this year, and this picture of her with my youngest son at the Table is more beautiful to my eyes than I can express.
3 generations of men in our family sit at the Tables during a Fathers Day brunch. (We pulled both families tables together for one long sitting for all)
Many Bible Quilt sessions have seen the Tables with friends, family, neighbors and guests. The table gave way for opening up our hearts to others and sharing our sacred space.
As all the seasons come full circle, quiet retreats call my boys to the Table one-by-one.
The last of Summer bubbles were danced through the yard while the Table held the treasured content.
This Table of mine is quite special. We celebrate a year with it, and our lives are richer for it. What a heartfelt gift given to me; what a priceless piece to store up memories on. I can hardly wait to take it for a spin this second year! I can see the Autumn leaves falling on it now!
Enjoy your spaces. Soak up your family. Invite your friends. Share it with guests. Rest and refresh at your Tables.
Are you familiar with the phrase, the liturgy of the ordinary?
How much do we pay attention to the daily practices that absorb our time and skew our perspective simply through their mundane repetition?
As I picked up my groceries the other day, I had a startling reminder that we can experience more joy and connectedness in our daily hustle, sowing seeds a little along the way, rather than resigning ourselves to the drudgery of repetitive chores or errands.
I pulled up into slot #7 & called the pick-up number to notify them of my arrival. Someone answered and yelled into the phone, “WALMART GROCERY PICKUP!” I was so startled I almost dropped the phone, noticing that I already had ringing in my ear from the loud screech.
Almost immediately, the voice on the other end of the line began to apologize, laughing nervously. I asked, “Is this Tanya?“ It was my turn to surprise her because I recognized her voice. “Uh, yeah” she replied somewhat sheepishly. I told her my name and she began laughing, saying “Oh, it’s you! I’m SO sorry! I’ll be right out!”
Typically I don’t call the number. I usually activate the app as I’m leaving my house to warn them of my impending arrival. In fact, I had never talked to Tanya on the phone before.
How did I know it was her?
Instinctively, I knew it was herbecause the two of us have been part of each other’s Liturgy of the Ordinary.
As part of her job, she rolls out my grocery order, informs me of substitutions, and cheerfully loads my groceries in the back of my well-lived-in cargo area. As part of my Momjob, I’m frequently in the waiting zone, rolling down my window and squiggling my autograph on her order phone.
Tanya and I have chatted over the course of the last few months as our mundane duties have bumped us together more often than I’d like to admit. (A household of teenaged appetites is my excuse for such frequent visits, not poor menu planning…surely not!)
We have become familiar with one another, often sharing a knowing smile of “here we go again!” as we move through our well-choreographed grocery dance.
What began as an ordinary Monday grocery pick-up this week turned into laughter and connection, giving us both a boost of positive energy to resume our rote routines. She hugged me spontaneously and said something along the lines of “Thanks for always being so great! You’re awesome!”
As I drove home with my grocery bags jostling each other, I was lighter in spirit and grateful for a little unexpected sparkle in my day.
The mundane task of putting all the food away and preparing the next meal still loomed, but my perspective shift was noticeably clearer.
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us.” Psalms 90:17
By the way, if you don’t know about grocery store pick-ups, do it! I wish it had been available when my kiddos were younger and in carseats… a game-changer, for sure!
Now, go discover the Sparkle in your Ordinary day, my friend!