If you discover you’re getting distracted by all the choices available, simplify the process by limiting the quantity of materials you have in your devotional space. This eliminates decision fatigue and helps you focus on the Word. (It’s easier to choose from 3 marker colors than 25.)
Some days you’ve got to stick with simple just to get done, and that’s ok!
Pray.Father God, thank you for being our refuge no matter what we’re going through. It’s reassuring to know we have a respite in every storm. Help us to dwell in You today.
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.
“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
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…)
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.
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.
Theoretically 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!
Bonus 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! ~ ~ ~
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…