Tag Archives: patience

Managing the Messy Middle

Our family almost always has a project going on.  Please tell me we’re not the only ones?

Currently, we’re in the midst of a storage room expansion. We’ve all adjusted to the perpetual whining of saws, staccato of hammering, and swooshing of sanders. Even our dog has adapted to the workers and extra activity, preferring to hide out in their space filled with the familiar drone of power tools rather than the unpredictable rumble of thunder last week.

Starting a construction project is exciting. Expectations and hopes are high.

Finishing a project is thrilling.  Moving into a new space is fun!

sheetrock dusty footprintLet’s be real, though. The bulk of any project is the Middle.

It’s where all the gritty work and dedication to the task happen. It’s the messiest part and often goes on longer than planned. Sometimes we face challenges in the Middle that we weren’t expecting. Footprints suddenly appear on countertops and construction nails are discovered in a car tire …or two! 

For any construction project, we prepare for the noise and surge of activity. Big movements mean change is coming. We brace ourselves and dive in to the adventure.

Somehow we forget about the quieter aspects of construction upheaval. (Is there such a thing as Home Improvement Amnesia??) We forget about that sneaky sheetrock dust and its magical pervasiveness — even if doors have been closed and precautions have been taken. It seeps in EVERYWHERE, mysteriously settling in place overnight, greeting us each morning like a dusting of frost.sheetrock dust

I keep reminding myself that we’re almost there. Sanding signifies the painting phase is coming soon, which means the final stages are around the corner. We just need  to persevere a little longer.

When we’re at the starting line of a race or a project, we’re hyped up with anticipation and energy to begin. It’s a very tangible place. Our senses are all perked up in awareness of the task ahead.

Somewhere in the middle, though, things tend to get a little blurry and uncertain. We don’t have the finish line in sight yet, and we have to  face the realities of this murky Middle part.

Our initial energy has waned yet we have to persevere through the barriers of change.construction zone

Perseverance is an important life skill often learned through struggle and the shedding of a few tears.

Ironically, my Community Bible Study group is reading through the book of Acts and we’ve just gotten to the passage about Paul striving to finish his Course well.

“If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24

Paul’s story is filled with tenacious boldness despite all the opposition he faces, yet also demonstrates his gifts of encouragement and grace throughout his trials.

These are all wonderful attributes to adopt in the Middle of a long-term project or a particular life struggle. We are all under construction in some way or another, muddling through the messy Middle.

Persevere page in Bible Quilt®️ journal

Some of our struggles might be obvious and expected, but others will be quietly devastating in their unexpected ripple effects.

May we each be able to lean on one another with grace and encouragement during  our earnest efforts  to maintain our course. Much growth can occur in that Messy Middle, depending on how we adapt and respond.

Whatever rebuilding process you may be in, here’s to finishing well,  friends!

Shine on

Sometimes our days unfold in unexpected ways and we wander aimlessly around, trying to get our bearings.

Today my youngest stayed home with the crud. Again. Those pesky symptoms have lingered long  and we’re both tired of this nagging crud that we’re both battling. We’re both off-kilter and perhaps a little cranky.

Like a determined cold front moving in, this ominous cloud of sickness hovered over us and threatened to dampen our spirits. When my “mommy mind” finally acquiesed to the imposing reality, we succumbed to a slower pace for the day.

The grocery list sat on the counter.

Emails built up on my laptop.

Texts chimed on my phone.

We tuned out and continued with our mindless meanderings. One of us embraced the day with his robe gallantly flowing behind him and sporting his bedhead with pride. One of us got restless, seeking to uncover a little productivity amidst all the nurturing efforts. It was so hard to surrender to the imposed slowdown.

My son won the “Lounging Around” award with ease. He did it with gusto (well, after the meds kicked in) and fully hunkered down into a day of recovery rest. It was a reprieve from his usual expectations. He seemed to enjoy plopping down on the couch with minimal purpose, absorbing some quiet activities despite the constant companion of a kleenex box.

front moving inBy the end of the afternoon, his eyes showed more sparkle and his body posture transformed gradually from a drowsy sloth to a muted version of his typical spunky self. He was steadily regaining his energy level.

As he rebooted, I cratered. The lack of sleep from the night before (peppered by his coughs, snorts and some unmentionable things) finally downshifted me into neutral. Since he had improved, I was able to give myself permission to go offline. (This built-in Mom radar is a tricky one to power down.)

Taking notes from my son’s approach, I gave in to reading a novel I received at Christmas. Somewhere along the way I dozed off and later was awakened by my other boys returning home from school. Since I’m not a natural nap-taker, this caught them both by surprise…and was an acute reminder that they often don’t see me actually Rest.
We rallied through a simple dinner and I pushed through the evening’s activities – – which also unfolded in unexpected ways. (Adulting is hard and apparently nonstop…especially if your husband is away doing army work and you can’t tag team out.)"feel better soon" toast

Therein lies the crux of parenting. We ebb and flow with our kids’ needs, sometimes with cheerful encouragement and other times with begrudging grunts as we’re pulled away from our own agendas.

grilled cheese

These overcast days that are mired with grumpy challenges can provide grist for the mill.

Getting nudged off of our usual path can help provide a broader perspective.

Sometimes it takes a “shutdown” of a typical day to remind us about all the ways that we can shine a little brighter the next time a front of disappointment or illness rolls in.

It’s okay to give in  to the perks of a sick day — to take a respite from daily chores, to allow some nonessential responsibilities to slide, to nestle in beside your tousled child and indulge in some personal reading.
Wallow a bit together. 
Take a nap.
Savor the restorative power of grilled cheese …

When the clouds break and the sickness fades away, that sunshine will seem all the brighter and your own light will shine a little stronger because you’ve weathered the darkness together.

Shine on, friends…Shine pg in Bible Quilt®


 “Let your light shine.” Matthew 5:16





How often do we get annoyed waiting for a download? As technology has advanced, we’ve gotten spoiled and increasingly more impatient with the few seconds this transformation occurs, forgetting that this process used to take minutes. (Not to mention our personal history with “dial-up” connections…we need not remind ourselves how old this makes us sound!)

. . . ___. . . Buffering . . . ___ . . .

Yep, we even have a fancy term for waiting on technology: buffering – -waiting with purpose and a heightened expectation of data coming our way. We’re paused as we  wait for data or images to load, so we can proceed with our next electronic interaction. The momentary lapse in electronic connection makes us feel restless.buffering symbol

Software programs have even designed creative ways to give us digital holding cues…a flashing line promising that progress is about to happen or a bright green line racing around a circle offering the illusion of “almost there.”

Last week when I was feeling the pressure of navigating a tight schedule while trying to accommodate the various speeds on which my children operate, it occurred to me how often I act as a buffering agent to those around me.
Like the mysterious data preloading that occurs, our buffering efforts go largely unseen but are constantly at work.
As moms, we’re often filling in the gaps between one family member to the next. We are frequently redirecting children, softening sharp edges of voice tones and harsh facial expressions. We’re constantly monitoring the goings-on in our families, serving as a hub in which each family member dives in for a brief connection then returns to their homework or computer screen.
We help modulate the buzz of activity in our households, buffering between family and houseguests or redirecting young sibling traffic to a neutral zone when teens are hanging out in another.

Even our pets use us as buffers. During yesterday’s thunderstorm, my golden retriever would not leave my side as she panted and anxiously tucked her tail, looking at me imploringly to “STOP MOVING ALREADY!” so she could settle.Katie hiding from storms

As women, we probably have more buffering systems in play than men, so it’s not unusual for me to hear stories about how a friend is  intervening between her husband and their realtor; or navigating details between her husband and service workers (and hoping to get the details about the roof leak, the hot water gadget, or the pool pump control panel interpreted correctly).

. . . ___ . . . We buffer between extremes. 

We lessen the impact of potential harsh consequences we see coming, but they may not. 

. . . ___ . . . We referee between siblings. 

We reframe feedback from challenging teachers and revved-up coaches  in ways our children can absorb it more constructively.

All this buffering can take a toll on us, leaving us feeling battered and weary. Sometimes on a day when we’ve spent so much energy putting out other people’s fires and not gotten our own agenda accomplished, we’re left feeling unproductive with an empty tank.
This past Sunday when I was feeling off-kilter after a busy week of solo parenting, I managed to stop for a few moments and go offline.offline mom break

Even though I’ve been trying to practice the art of Sabbath rest, the struggle to downshift is tricky. During waking hours my brain does not seem to have an “off” switch, so this striving to rest is a discipline I have to work at intentionally.

As I’ve recognized the draining pull of this nearly constant buffering, I’m beginning to appreciate the nuances more and realize the hidden impact my unseen efforts have on those around me. Slowly, I’m giving myself permission to power down” so I can truly recharge and be more effective as a nurturing buffer rather than an automatic boomerang.
Like it or not, mommas, this buffering stuff is part of the gig. I’m grateful God wired us to multi-task and self-regulate so we can stay on track when needed. I’m also thankful for the grace He extends to us and through us, so we can upload a positive influence on our families.leaves fallen

Fall is our friendly buffer between the lingering mugginess of Summer and the harsh chill of Winter.

As we transition into muted days with a crispness in the air, may we slip away for some nature walks to rebuild our inner buffering system. We’ve got this, friends!

What is YOUR recharge going to be this season?

“We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” – Charles Swindoll


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





______ is patient, _____ is kind.

We have a chance to love those around us each day, but today especially the expectation is high. (Do you feel it?)

Sometimes we  just need to reflect on words of  Truth…

Love is patient

pine needle quiet

Love is kindThanksgiving flowers


It does not envy or boast

boys goofing around

Love is not proud, rude, or self-seekingFlorida blooming

It is not easily angeredstorm cloud

It keeps no record of wrongsgreen grass

Love does not delight in evil

lily pads

Love rejoices with the truthmountain stream


Love always protects

Love always trusts

mom tackle

Love always hopesholding hands


Love always perseveresgrowth despite hardship

Love never failsrainbow in storm

I Corinthians 13:4-8  “the Love chapter”

Love is patient...I remember an activity we did in a junior high Sunday School class long ago. We had to read these verses to ourselves but replace “Love” with our own name:

Dianna is patient…

Dianna is kind…”

THAT puts a whole new spin on this passage and reminds me of how much I’ve fallen short of loving others authentically. so.many.times. I’m grateful for God’s grace and mercy to keep trying to love as He would like us to.

However your Valentine’s day unfolds, may you experience His love, the ultimate valentine. ❤️




Recently I was on a flight that tried to land in heavy Dallas fog twice, the second attempt within 100 yards of the ground, then abruptly aborting due to minimal visibility.  An exuberant redheaded flight attendant provided what limited information she had available and a calm pilot reassured us the aircraft was sound,  but the weather conditions were untenable for landing.  A collective sigh of disappointment arose as the announcement came we were being diverted to another airport.

cheerful flight attendantThe full plane of early-morning passengers transformed from a sleepy bunch of travelers into nervous camaraderie as conversations erupted throughout the plane, speculations about deboarding and re-routing sprinkled throughout spirited dialogue. Perhaps the happiest person was a woman two rows back that cheerfully announced this unplanned stop was her home destination and she was getting off as soon as the doorway was clear.😊 Amidst the grumbles of frustration about the delay and forced change of flight times causing a ripple effect of inconvenience, there were also spontaneous plans to grab some Texas BBQ if everyone had to deplane.

cloudy skiesIt’s in these tricky situations that one can see the range of human emotions and observe a wide range of attitude on display. Mothers patiently tended to children, providing distraction and encouragement. Level-headed flight attendants offered additional support to some elderly passengers.

luggageProblem-solvers sprang into action, procuring snacks for sustenance and making calls to rebook flights. 

Some people bailed immediately, asserting they would not get back on the same aircraft. Others made complaints aloud and responded grumpily after each delay update, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

A 15-minute delay bloomed into a 2 1/2 hour wait. People plugged into their devices, shifting from brief anxiety to resigned waiting.

Although there was a wide variety of individual responses, it seemed like we had developed some group solidarity in our waiting. More eye contact was made and conversations were deeper within the boarding area than usual because we had a shared experience of landing someplace unexpected. None of us planned to be in this particular spot, but we were pulled together by this disruption in our schedules.

An airport therapy dog was a welcome distraction and introduced a new common focal point for some positive interactions.airport therapy dog

Then relief pushed through the boarding area as our flight was called to board. For real this time. Reboarding was surprisingly upbeat as if we were reuniting with friends rather than the strangers we all had been just a few hours ago. Our numbers had diminished yet our remaining subgroup seemed undaunted in the collective hope that our flight would make it this time.

It didn’t.

After 45 minutes, we disembarked from the same plane again and started another round of problem-solving…and more people-watching in the process.

flight towerLife often unfolds this way, nudging us off our familiar paths and throwing us into a tailspin, doesn’t it?

We all encounter delays at one time or another. We each get diverted from our original plans. All of us receive unwanted news that changes our course. It may be relocating for a job, dealing with a medical crisis, or experiencing  the loss of a loved one.

How we face these challenges is a reflection of our personality and character. And, oh, how one person’s demeanor can impact the rest! We saw both positive and negative extremes of this during our 8-hour flight delay. 

The perspective we choose to cling to can make a huge difference when we are re-routed unexpectedly in life. Waiting for clarity requires tenacity.  Seeking guidance from those in our trusted watch tower requires humility. Sitting amidst uncertainty requires patience and perseverance.

(And don’t even get me started on lost luggage! )

However your life may be diverted, how will you choose to wait?


Proverbs 16:9