Tag Archives: seasons

Emotional Stewardship

 

Bible Quilt®️ journaling at the Turquoise TableThis 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.

Turquoise Table under squirrel siege

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. 

cloudsWe 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…

climatis openingPay 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.

reflecting pondConsolidate 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.

sun peeking through treeAcknowledge 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.

cloud artLook 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…

window view of sunrise

– – – “HIS mercies are new every morning.” – – –Lamentations 3:21

 

#biblequiltjournal
#biblequiltjournal page on Lamentations

What’s your fulcrum?

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.

solo seesawA 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.teeter-totter

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.

loaf of bread in mailbox
Special delivery: a fresh loaf of homemade bread from a friend

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.

sliced homemade breadWhen 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.

Moving day - bunch of fun
Moving day: Have a BUNCH of fun in your new home!

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.

walking the dogRecently 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.

Lean in.

Reach out.

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

Bible Quilt: refuge and strength
#biblequiltjournal God is our Refuge and Strength
Whatever you may be facing today, may the Lord be your fulcrum, resting in Him for your strength.

For you locals ready to gear up for some more Bible Quilting, we resume our Weekly Wednesday sessions next Wednesday evening. Come join us!

Our Colorful Home

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 ORANGE pumpkins 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.

Wishing you a very COLORFUL Season!

 

 

 

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


 

Mama nature

hatchling turtle in boy's handWe’ve had a lot of motherhood going on around us recently.

Our turtles have had 3 hatchlings emerge in a 10-day period that we have adopted out to some VERY happy boys.

An exciting adventure is in store for them as they observe turtle behavior and learn how to take care of these little creatures.

Hatchling turtle on rock
Hatchling turtle on “gotcha” day

Our flighty friend, MamaDuck, has returned to lay her eggs at our house again in some tall feather grass. She picked a much better hiding spot than her previous location of a flowerpot out on the open patio in the midst of all the hustle & bustle of swim season.

I even had to do a little detective work to finally discover where she had nested this time…duck's nest of eggsLook at how precisely she’s got the eggs tucked in!

I was admiring the symmetry of  egg placement and carefully constructed nest when I heard the loud flap of wings as two male ducks arrived. I looked up just in time to see Katie revved up to greet them…ducks taking flight

Somehow I managed to capture this sequence of their reactions: MamaDuck taking flight, her peaceful swim disrupted; the male Mallards barely dipping into the water to shoot back up into the air for safety; and our dog, charging merrily at wildlife entering her fenced-in yard. (She had already had a full morning chasing the scent of a rabbit that had been meandering all over the garden, the back and front yard. ) Her eager retriever instinct was in full gear!

During this past weekend of Mother’s Day activities, my husband joked that perhaps I was providing “too nurturing” of a home environment that prompted this explosion of nature going on in our backyard.

Tree Sculpture

My hospitality dwindled when a mama squirrel built her nest IN our attic over the winter. The constant gnawing sounds that awakened us multiple nights in a 3-week period resulted in an unplanned home improvement project directed by a handy neighbor. The squirrel nuisance triggered a stream of workers traipsing through the house, cutting through a closet to get into the space to figure out where the squirrels got in and how to block their access.  I’m grateful to be past the phase of activating the “alert” status which brought our neighbor to the door with a head-lamp and a pellet gun. Although he was disappointed he never “got” them, he tapped in to some creative  squirrel-proofing that ended with some, um, rather unique Tree Art in our backyard!finding a hatchling turtle

Interesting times around here as mothers of all types are nesting, nurturing and launching their babies in different ways!

With graduation season in full swing, a lot of us mommas are in the same boat. Instincts of all kinds are kicking in and our emotions are tightly woven together like that MamaDuck’s nest. I’m not quite ready to unfold all of that yet though…

mother's day table & remote control car

I’m still soaking in the moments of Mother’s Day weekend, family gathered around the table and my guys making special efforts to cook & clean. Beyond those intentional actions, though, were some of my favorite moments…a son showing up beside me to help plant spring flowers, or offering to make a grocery run and bringing back a smoothie for me, or vacuuming out my messy car.

Spontaneous hugs. A kind gesture. A sneaky smile. These little pauses when I get to capture a one-on-one moment are the snippets I hold onto dearly, tucking them into my heart as I watch these boys mature in their own ways.

Mama Nature has some pretty cool stuff going on this spring.

I’m grateful for the close-up view that helps put things into perspective.

A Mother’s Heart page in Bible Quilt journal

Ordinary days  punctuated by extraordinary moments are special gifts to a mother’s heart.  I’m treasuring each one and hope you are, too!

 

 

 

 

 

Contrasts

Last week began with a two-day stay at the hospital with my son for an unexpected procedure following a dramatic  ER visit. This week started out with lovely spring weather and the chance to play in the dirt, planting pretty flowers. 

From one week to the next it was quite a contrast and, boy, am I grateful to have it moving in a positive direction! blossom

One end of my garden zone is full of shriveled plants, brittle vines, and cracked, dusty pots that have been neglected during the winter. The other end of my garden is beginning to show splashes of color amidst freshly turned soil and vibrant green starter veggies.

It’s a contrast between what has faded away and what is blossoming with hopeful growth.

adolescent turtle emerging
adolescent turtle emerging

Last fall we were eager to get the school routine in full swing again, fresh school supplies nestled into tidy backpacks. As the school year is now dwindling into mere weeks, the energy level for it is more sludgy than springy.

Final exams and long-term project deadlines loom overhead and students are slinking out the door as late as possible, ripped backpacks slung quickly over their shoulders.

The end of something is strikingly different from its fresh beginning.

Nature is full of contrasts and what pulls us in to wander about in different environments, stretching us beyond our familiar.climatis

Life is punctuated with peaks and valleys; our energy levels ebb and flow throughout the various seasons of family life.

These contrasts give us dimension and help strengthen our resolve to push onward. Contrasting experiences help us see deeper perspectives, softening our rough edges. We have the opportunity to adjust our outlook throughout the intensity of  the highs and lows, transforming ourselves in the gritty middle. 

lambs earContrast draws us in closer in our relationships. It adds texture and intrigue.

Contrasting opinions broaden our discussions, widening our cultural lens.

Contrast keeps boring at a distance.

Photographers seek it; architects nurture it.

When we pause to appreciate the contrasts of the human experience, our inward reflections deepen and our connections with others can become more fully saturated as we see richer hues in those around us.

Perhaps we can glimpse a sparkle of hope where we had only previously seen darkness.

The raggedness of grief may slowly slip into sweet reminiscence.

Maybe we  see the blossoming of a child as they overcome a personal struggle.

flowering in a crackAs graduation looms around the corner for many families, we’ll be struck by the contrast of our young, confident adults tackling their last days of school while we’re remembering their little faces on the first day of school.

They will be on the tippy toes of a new adventure while we’re clinging to their childhood for just a sliver longer. We’ll walk through the contrasting emotions of pride and loss; hope and disbelief . . . letting go and hugging just a little bit tighter. Parents will ponder, “how did this happen so fast?” while their kiddos wonder “will the last day evvver get here?”

Contrast highlights what’s important.

It sharpens our focus on details that matter.

It awakens our souls to pay attention.

Let’s embrace the contrasts that enrich our lives and weave us together ~~ God’s beautiful tapestry unfolding around us.



“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8