Tag Archives: quiet

Alignment: Love eclipses all the other stuff

Did you catch #solareclipse fever this week? It was quite the mesmerizing event around here.  While capable of making us feel incredibly small in the scope of this wide world, it also pulled us together to focus on a common goal.

NASA eclipse infoThis grandeur was possible through a “just so” alignment of the sun, moon, and our precious Earth.  The eclipse was the “sweet spot” of these 3 celestial entities, causing quite a stir amongst us humans scrambling for our NASA sunglasses. For a few weighty moments, we were all unified in one purpose.
moon reflection We all gazed upward  into a vastness that we struggle to comprehend. We stilled ourselves in the midst of our daily routines, sharing in the anticipation of this cosmic event. It didn’t matter that we were wearing silly glasses and straining our necks awkwardly. We were aligned in one shared goal. 

How great would it be to continue such true alignment with each other beyond these precious few moments?


I was heartened to see diverse crowds of people file into stadiums, stand shoulder to shoulder, then break into spontaneous applause as they were impacted by the awe of the moment.

Other people crossed state lines and joined strangers in open fields to partake in this unique experience, enduring long lines of traffic on the journey home, yet hopefully still full of the wonder they had just absorbed with a wider community than they are typically a part of…stretching out of their comfort zones.

Alignment page in Bible Quilt
Alignment – #BibleQuilt journal

In a nation that has been besieged by divisiveness and hurtful separation, it was encouraging to watch alliances form among strangers. In a country bombarded with negative headlines, it was refreshing to view positive interactions and meaningful conversations about a shared experience.

 – – May our moments of alignment not be as fleeting as a rare solar eclipse. May we hold tightly to that sense of greater community and wholeness, leaning toward one another rather than away.

When we align together for a common purpose, we are more likely to be receptive to others – – to be open to their ideas and opinions. It weaves us closer. Joining together in community pulls us into alignment with one another in ways big and small. It doesn’t happen automatically.  We have to put ourselves in position to connect…to stretch a bit out of our comfy zones of familiarity.

AlignmentMaybe if we intentionally reach out in a small step toward someone out of our usual sphere each day, we won’t have to wait ’til 2024 to come together in unity again?

~ what a stellar idea! 😉

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



 

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning for the Soul: 4 Simple Tips

It’s that time of year when the fresh, green growth outside our windows beckons us to come out and play.  As I’m running yet another errand, I catch myself rubbernecking as I pass busy garden centers bursting with colorful potential.

Spring gets us all stirred up in ways that other seasons don’t.
delphiniums
Spring jostles us awake in some quiet inner places that we didn’t even realize were dormant.

PhloxWith the renewed energy that the change of seasons brings, we often find ourselves fervently clearing our closets, deep-cleaning our kitchens or tackling those mysterious piles in our garages in an attempt to dive into warm-weather activities with a clean slate.

spring flowers

In this fervor of spring cleaning and new growth, I find myself wondering how some intentional spring cleaning for my soul would help clear my perspective, too.


a time to keep and a time to throw away” Ecclesiastes 3:6


Just as we discard worn-out clothes or reluctantly admit that those jeans really don’t fit well anymore, we can also benefit from casting aside our disappointments, any unmet expectations from last season, and the lingering irritation of minor grudges that don’t fit well on us today.
dogwood

Spring Cleaning for the Soul: 4 Simple Tips

1. Be open-handed. I realize that I have to be available for opportunities the Lord places before me each day, but I’m unable to do this if I’m carrying too many weighty burdens in my tightly clenched fists. I need to hold my daily intentions and plans loosely so that I have an open hand free to help someone God places in my path today.

2. Face forward. When my mind is rehashing what happened yesterday or my spirit feels bruised from an interaction that didn’t go so well, this keeps me from embracing the joy of what God has in store for me today. I need to lean in and face forward to see the beauty He’s about to reveal to me today.

spring rose3. Pack lightly. My husband and I joke that the hardest part of a trip is getting out the door because we’re so focused on packing all the things “just in case.”

If we allow ourselves to load up on worry and fret about what might happen with so-and-so or let our minds race about all the “what if” scenarios that could go wrong, we get bogged down. On days that I truly cast my cares into the Lord’s hands, my perspective is clearer and my spirit lighter. It’s easier to “stop and smell the roses” if our pack is light.

jonquil4. Pray for a stranger. We walk past people each day that may need a kind word or gesture. We may not know their names, but God does. A simple, brief prayer to bless someone’s day is manageable despite the “busy” in our day…and may blossom in unexpected ways for you, too.

We donate our used clothing and household goods to strangers when we’re spring cleaning our houses. Why not donate a prayer as well?

With a few minor adjustments to our daily maintenance routine, we can be proactive in cleaning up our perspectives and dusting off our attitudes.

Underneath that grimy layer of stress & worry we  may discover a bright shine in our spirits that will add a vibrant reflection to all those around us.  (That will certainly put a spring in our step!)

neighborhood pond

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

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

 

Margins

the bookAre you a bookworm like me?  Our family is full of avid readers and books populate every region of our house. Books have even inspired some Halloween costumes. We devour books of every flavor and struggle to put them down for mealtimes or to turn out the lights at night. When we settle into the couch together with our favorite books, we focus on the words. We dive into plot lines, soaking up the 12-point font as quickly as we can.

What if we paid attention to the margins as much as the parade of words lining themselves into sentences and adorning themselves with perky punctuation? What if we tuned into the space surrounding those sentences that are building themselves into paragraph blocks?

Our eyes fly from the bottom of one page over the valley of the spine and onto the top of the following page without a second glance. We turn page after page to catch the next stream of letters without appreciation for the blank space that provides a landing spot for our greedy fingers.

Yet…what if that margin was not there? Letters would fuse into unintelligible gobbledygook. We wouldn’t know where one word stops and another launches. Clever ideas and witty phrases would merge into an alphabet hodgepodge, lost in a sea of black type. That overlooked w h i t e s p a c e provides a backdrop for those colorful characters that tell our beloved stories. Without margins and whitespace, it’s just a blur of ink on some crisp paper bound together and tucked into a colorful jacket.

Children's books

Margin is important. We need it to make sense of our stories… to give us a border between things.



Margin is

the whitespace that frames

the text of our lives.



Without margin we would merge into each other and all over the place. Margin helps provide boundaries in the messiness of life. Margin gives us a defined perimeter — a pause before we turn toward our next activity. We often don’t stop to consider how much —or how little— margin we actually have. Our borders get blurry sometimes.

Margin is the “amount by which a thing is won or falls short” or the “amount of something included so as to be sure of success or safety.” It’s a cushion to lean into. How often do we hurtle from one thing to another with little margin for error? Margin can make the difference between success or failure. It can tip the balance toward a more favorable outcome.

Margin matters. 

Our personal margin varies throughout different phases of our lives. In some busy seasons, our lives might feel like a well-worn novel full of adventure and action. The pace is fast and furious. We’re caught up in drama and focused on the end result. Our margins feel cramped and narrow.

Fox in Socks

During slower seasons or treasured vacation getaways, we may have more “picture book” moments. We have time to enjoy the artistic balance between witty rhymes and colorful illustrations in our stories. In  the lull of leisure, our margin expands and the beat of our storyline becomes more vibrant.

Later in  life, we may develop a large-print perspective:  we discover more space around  words and appreciate the friendliness of a wider margin that gives us more time to reflect on our story…or to listen more closely to someone else’s.

reflection

Whatever our season, can we pause to embrace margin — to acknowledge its protective features?

Margin provides us with a soft buffer against the significant events and plot twists of life. It gives us some recovery time to process our stories.

boy reading on bench

 

Every little bookworm could benefit from that, don’t you think?

 

 

a handful

Mom, you’re talking too fast. You’re moving like you’re in a hurry.”

Guilty as charged.

I was in my son’s bedroom, navigating through piles of balled-up socks, damp clothes and boy gadgets he had dumped onto his floor after a scout campout. I knew that we had limited time before we would be leaving for a youth group activity. My mind was a whirlwind of details in order to have him “ready” for his first full school week. My goal was for my new sixth grader to come home from youth group and transition smoothly into his bedtime “routine” (not that we’re back to that yet, but I’m hopeful). An inner voice from past experience prodded me to push him through all this prep work, knowing that he would be exhausted and we would both be cranky if we faced all of this in the bedtime prelude.

growing boyI was acutely aware of the various tasks my son needed to accomplish in the time available. I was also keenly attuned to his need for a chunk of downtime. I had even asked him what his preference would be: rest before or after the tasks at hand? He said after. We both heard it. We moved forward with this “plan.” I followed his little body as he dragged himself lethargically up the stairs. Quietly I reminded myself to only give him one-step directions. We crossed the threshold of his room and targeted the campfire-smoked clothes pile first.

Within minutes I could tell that his sleep-deprived, camped-out body disagreed with his verbal agreement to this plan. His sluggish synapses had apparently voted “no,” too. Staying on task was not happening. Patience was squirmy to hold onto for both of us.boy in afghan

That would have been a REALLY good moment to recognize the realities at hand and revert to the “take a break first” option. I didn’t. I pressed on, trying to engage him in chatting about his first float trip — a flimsy attempt to boost the we’re-in-this-together morale. It’s possible that I quickened my pace and was doing more for him that he would typically do for himself. Our momentum ground to a halt when I heard,

Mom, you’re talking too fast! You’re moving like you’re in a hurry.”

 

Yep. I was. I looked down at my hands heaped high with boy stuff and glanced over at his slumped posture. Busted. I dropped the pile on his bed and we talked it through. We reconnected and evened out our pace. He did get a recharge break and had a delightful time later that evening, exuding energy and laughter.

boy swinging

This brief interaction was a poignant reminder of how easily we impact our children in those hurried moments of life. I’m grateful my son  was able to speak up and that I was finally able to hear him. I’m thankful for God’s grace which allows us to keep practicing at this parenting stuff.

My devotional the very next morning reinforced this lesson:


“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

handful of quietBoy, did that hit home! I’ll be pondering this one a while. Quieting our multi-tasking momma brains is so hard and our busy hands tend to come with the territory of motherhood, right?

May each of us discover a little quietness in ourselves so we can reflect a bit more calmness to those around us. Amen?