Tag Archives: nature walk

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


 

Spring forward…

We’re on Spring Break this week and hope you’re enjoying a little SUNSHINE yourselves!

 

Enjoy a few links to some favorite posts to brighten this season of New Beginnings – – –

Side by Side – sneak in some side conversations with your kiddos in the midst of busy family activities

azaleas

Motivated to get outdoors and crank up your fitness level for the upcoming swimsuit season? Whether you’re on a walk or a run, tuning in to nature around you is an easy way to nurture your spirit.

Add in a friend for a bonus!

4 pair running shoes

Are you gearing up for Easter get-togethers? The mess of egg-dyeing is more fun in group solidarity! laughter

Need a quick family dinner? Try these Chicken Packets…could be a new family favorite!

on-the-go chicken packets

Embrace the new hope of spring, friends…

“The Joy of the Lord is your Strength” Nehemiah 8:10

 

 

Lessons in the Mess of Life

In this brief lull of the Holiday Hustle, I’m catching my breath after a delightful Christmas before we gear up for another round of family gatherings coming up this weekend.

My heart is full, my house has been well used,  and my sweet tooth has been revved up on high. (Is it better just to get all the delectable goodies eaten up so they aren’t taunting me???)Christmas cookies

Our family pace has slowed a bit yet our rhythms are a little wonky due to clumsy shifting from  sluggish relaxation to the next flurry of holiday activity.
I savor our togetherness however it occurs. 
family walk in the snow
Holidays are often an eclectic mix of excited anticipation and a pinch of disappointment when things don’t go as expected, aren’t they? 
Christmas trees sometimes fall over and treasured ornaments go flying…fallen Christmas tree
Beloved coffee cakes may overflow and drip all over the oven, creating a burnt stench wafting through the house instead of filling it with the usual sweet aroma….coffee cake overflow
In these moments, frustration rises quickly and it’s so easy to feel defeated in our attempts to cultivate holiday traditions.
Moving past the initial grumbling, we tackle the messes and clean up the spills. (We are still the adults after all, right?)
coffee cake delivery
Christmas coffee cakes ready for delivery…
Sometimes we have to go back to the very beginning and try again to get the end result we’re hoping to achieve. We often learn something deeper about ourselves in this unwinding process.
Messes and mishaps remind us to keep things in perspective. Others are struggling with deeper trials and faced with tougher challenges.
None of us can do it on our own. We are small in the grand scheme of things.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,

the First and the Last,

the Beginning and the End.”

Revelation 22:12


I’m grateful we have a God that provides GRACE in all of our vulnerable mess. He is with us in our humble beginnings. He is with us in the messy middle. He is with us in the aftermath.
It’s comforting to feel His presence always available to us.  We just have to push through our distractions to realize He is the First and is the Last in all of it. 
Alpha and Omega page in Bible Quilt®
Alpha and Omega page in my Bible Quilt®
As this year draws to a close and we’re scurrying around to tie up loose ends, hopefully we’re carrying with us a little more wisdom from what we have learned about ourselves this past year. 
May we lean into the New Year with deeper insight, brighter hope, and more realistic expectations. 

– – – Here’s to a strong finish and a fresh start, friends! snow on pine tree

 

 

Now AND later

geranium, vincaEvery spring my green thumb gets  revved up to plant ALL the pretty flowers, but by the end of the summer I find myself wondering why I planted ALL these flowers that I have to keep watering?  

Sometimes in my experimental gardening, I stumble upon some tricks to keep the “chore” level down and the “joy” level up. 

coreopsis and petuniaThe past few years I’ve tried to resist the colorful array of annuals prominently placed at the front of every garden center and I’ve foraged a little deeper back into the section of sturdy perennials.

I’ve adopted a few that have done really well in containers and I rejoice each spring when there’s something GREEN already hard at work so that I have less to  spruce up. I’ll often add a cheerful geranium or a go-getter petunia for a bonus splash of instant color, but I feel like my perennial friends have my back both now AND later.coreopsis

In much the same way we are planted in each other’s lives. Sometimes we are casual acquaintances, exchanging cheerful greetings as we pass at common places in the midst of school activities or day-to-day errands. These interactions are brief and pleasant interludes but may not have lasting impact.
With other people, our connections go deeper and we find ourselves establishing tender roots to stabilize our friendship now yet also hold firm for us later on when we may need support. It takes time to develop and nurture these roots, but the rewards later are priceless.

Perennial friends will blossom through multiple seasons together and withstand the turbulent or bleak periods of life.

plant medleyThroughout our lives we will have a variety of friendships, some temporary & bright in certain seasons and others that continue to thrive year after year. The beauty is in the MIX as these connections complement each other and fulfill different aspects of our lives.

A Sweet Friendship
Katie Doucette: “Friend”

 

When a flowerbed of loyal perennials is brightened with fresh annuals, the whole garden becomes a lovely array of color. We appreciate the varied textures and expansion of hues in this broader collection of flowers.

As generations of women come together in friendship, roots are stronger and the variety of blooms is richer. We savor the depth and substance cultivated in these multi-tiered relationships.

women's handsThis past year, I participated in a multi-generational Bible study with a lovely group of women. With a widespread collection of ages and family backgrounds, perspectives were broadened and wisdom flowed each Wednesday morning. Every week we experienced beauty in the “now” of the current discussion and sharing of life stories. During our farewells in the closing session last week, it was sweet to reflect upon new friendships taking root and look forward to how they will develop later.

strawberry plants

As the school year draws to a close, many families are in the transition of closure activities and celebrating graduations. 

Hopefully each of us has nurtured some perennial friendships along the way which will  bear fruit for many more seasons to come.

 



“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9



 

 

 

 

Harvesting Moments

It’s here: that awkward time of year when you run into the store for a gallon of milk and you’re suddenly faced with the jumbled mix of sparkly Christmas decor clashing with the remains of ghoulish Halloween costumes. I cringe as I hurry past, adding eggs to my mental list…and, if I’m feeling generous toward my meat-eaters at home, maybe even some bacon.
Leaf fallenInstead of being drawn into the quickening pulse of the holiday push, I’d rather harvest some quiet moments now. On my morning walks I savor the blush of color in the trees and admire the neighbors’  scarecrow nestled in with piles of pumpkins.
PumpkinsPumpkins just make me smile and slow down my pace. Pumpkins are eye-catching, a pop of color against all the muted greens and autumn browns. I’ve heard that some people actually use pumpkins for baking purposes (like from scratch!?!), but most of us just adopt them and plop them onto our porches.
What other veggie/fruit gets that kind of recognition? Pumpkins are the rockstars of the harvest season.
Pumpkins are just downright pleasant. They exude a glow of plump contentment. And we can all use a little power boost of their orangey cheer.

stack of pumpkins

mumsI’m trying to remind myself during this pre-holiday season to harvest some moments of Quiet. I’m giving myself permission to enjoy the slow transition of the trees releasing their colorful leaves and dropping acorns in my path. I breathe in air scented with hints of applewood and lingering crepe myrtle blossoms. I halt my walk briefly to admire cheerful mums moving in next door. I pursue the Quiet tucked in amidst this fall glory.

— I invite you to Chase Quiet with us. 

Chasing Quiet pumpkin

Pause when you see those happy pumpkins stacked atop each other on porches.

Slow down when you see a lone pumpkin sentry at a mailbox.

Take a deep breath and allow some stillness to fall into you. I’m pretty sure all that  hustle stuff can wait a little longer…

Fall-ish trees

31 days of Quiet     #chasingquiet     #pumpkinpause

 

Little hitchhikers

After a very fun-filled weekend road trip, I managed to get my weary self out the door for a walk. Within a few moments of dragging myself down the street, a little baby caterpillar landed on me. I considered taking him home to show my kiddos, but opted to set him free in the fresh spring grass so he could continue on his way. After all, didn’t our mothers tell us not to pick up hitchhikers?

I reflected on how this bright green caterpillar had clung so tightly to me until I released him. In much the same way, don’t we allow others’ words and comments stick to us? Maybe a taunt from an elementary school classmate still clings to us after all these years? (All of us “Four Eyes” unite!) Perhaps a harsh remark from a spouse or family member lingers even after apologies have been said? These verbal hitchhikers don’t have to come home with us. We can release them.

What if instead we carry compliments or words of encouragement as welcome travelers? Words have lasting power.
All you have to do is observe a woman be told she is strong, brave, kind, a warrior, a truth teller, capable, a shepherd, a gatherer, an encourager, poetic, worthy, loyal, precious, or genuine. Watch the emotion wash over her as her eyes sparkle or tear up. Let the moment sink in so she can absorb this new identity into her repertoire of names she’s collected during her lifetime. Transformation can occur in a few syllables spoken earnestly.

So, my friend, choose your traveling companion wisely. Be wary of little hitchhikers that may weigh you down or cause you harm. Release those names that you have been carrying for too long.

Share your words with othEncourageers with good intention and thoughtful purpose. We never know what word is going to cling to a neighbor, friend, or our own child. One remark can make a huge difference. It can tear down or build up. Choose to edify.

~~Speak with grace~~

Now I’ll be watching for beautiful butterflies that are flying freely because they weren’t hindered in their caterpillar youth.