an open book

 

black twist pen on notebook

On a stunning late June afternoon, our daughter Courtney became a wife.

Spoiler alert: It was the most amazing day sandwiched between two equally wondrous days of celebration.

Our family won’t easily forget the joy of witnessing love by raising glasses, cheering, dancing and feasting as our family enlarged for the better.

However, the months leading up to the big event were filled with countless sleepless nights.

Not because of attempting to lasso a budget although the rope often felt out of reach.

No matter how I tried, I could not envision what or how this day of days would look or feel.

Since I couldn’t visualize those 6 hours, I threw myself into list making during my waking hours and sadly my sleeping hours also kept a tally.

My sleep was compromised simply because my mind was restless for a glimpse of the future.

One night in late January, sleep seemed pointless due to my overactive brain, I left my pillow behind and entered the darkest gap between night and morning and tucked myself under the dining room table before my journal.

I wrote in bold letters:

ALL THE THINGS THAT CONCERN ME

I wrote it all down.

There was nothing too insignificant or monumental that wasn’t scribbled on two pages.

I laid every care, fear and worry upon the lines of that open book, like a prayer or a hyperventilating plea sent in the direction of heaven.

Then I went to sleep.

I would like to report to never having another night of tossing and turning.

I did but the space between waking and falling back into dreamland was narrower.

For the majority of my life, I have trusted God.

Trust has been reflexive like a doctor’s hammer tap below one’s knee but often a whispered hope.

This summer was one in a collection of remembering the God I trust.

Sometimes my trust in God has put the emphasis on my actions instead of tilting the weight off my shoulders and witnessing the character of the God, who can be trusted.

*****

When I was young, my mother taught me to thread her needle.

After I mastered this skill, she showed me how to tie a knot on thread draped through the needle’s eye.

I remember watching her fingers, thumb and thread and it seemed the most mysterious display, especially when my clumsy hands tried to duplicate the feat.

Two thread lengths tethered only by the eye of a needle, each side placed between my thumb and second finger, as they slid back and forth until a knot formed.

At first it seemed improbable, impossible.

A folded piece of fiber remained uncontrolled.

But after practice and failed attempts, knot making became automatic.

I wouldn’t give a single thought when presented with a needle and thread today.
But if I dare to  pause long enough to observe the reflexive movements of my hand, I still marvel when a knot appears due to the gentle gliding of two parts of one hand.

I believe in the God who knows how to thread the pieces of my life through their appointed spaces.

I believe in the God who expertly knots every dangling fear, insecurity and worry.

I shudder by how easily I grow accustomed to his handiwork, some seen and often more shielded from my view, all accomplished by the rubbing of his fingers to and fro over my life.

*****

During the final moments leading to the wedding, I was given time to spend with Courtney in the balcony area of the venue. I looked at her and decades of prayers flooded my soul and were placed alongside my love for her. We spoke, we laughed and desperately tried not to ruin our make-up. It felt like an eternity had passed once I walked down the stairs to see the procession lined up, excitedly chatting as they waited for me. I took my place next to my tall son in the front of the line. I was certain the sacred space with Courtney had put our schedule in jeopardy but I lifted my eyes to the wall clock and it was exactly 4pm.

When does a wedding start on time?

That day.

I am not writing to share how God crossed out or put a check mark beside every one of my journal full of concerns, yet He did.

I am writing to admit none of my sleepless nights accomplished anything but darker under eye circles.

I am writing this because although it sounds cliché, God is never late or too early.
In fact, His timing is impeccable.

I am writing this not because God gave us the most brilliantly happy day, yet He did.

I am writing this because He pulled out all the stops for a brilliantly happy day in the midst of a multitude of sad days past, present and undoubtedly in the future.

He gave us merriment hemmed in beside the hard places which have taken up residency in our lives and seem to have no intention of hanging a vacancy sign.

I want to whisper and shout about my days to God, knowing no utterance is too trivial for His hearing.

I want to be an open book.

As I surrender my lists to Him as an act of trust, the privilege is mine to see the God who can be trusted to gently slide His hands across each strand of my life and affix it to Himself.

It seem improbable, impossible.

In His mercy and kindness, He ties knots of faithfulness all over the threads of my life.

Each one is a full stop in the story of me, allowing me to pause, stare back in wonder of the God who can be trusted.

 

Photo by Mohammad Danish on Pexels.com

Twelve Years

It has been a few months since I last logged onto my blog.

After I verified my identity, (thanks WordPress for rubbing my absence in), I was greeted by an anniversary missed.

20180922_1441081308996778.png

Twelve years.

Twelve years of sharing words, stories and small glimpses of God at work if only attention is paid.

Twelve years of a trembling pointer finger over pressing the publish button and hoping for readers and simultaneously hoping no one read the deepest words from my heart.

Twelve years of cultivating, nurturing and waiting on a dream.

Although those “in the know” deem blogs as having run their course, I am glad blogs still exist and am witnessing many writers returning to the movement of which I am one in this number.

The space of not blogging feels much like not having a conversation with a friend for an extended period of time. Once seated face to face, where do you begin, when there is so much to say?

I suppose it’s wisest to push past regret or shame and simply begin again. Start talking or writing knowing all the gaps won’t be entirely closed with one return conversation but there’s movement; a narrowing of the previous chasm.

My last post in June detailed discovering dug up nasturtium plants. At the time, I believed the event to be isolated. However, it was a nearly daily occurrence this past summer, a major irritant during a hot and smoky summer. Carl and I placed fencing along the driveway to discourage the digging and it didn’t hinder the activity of squirrels and/or raccoons.

When I speak or set an intention, I believe the work is done. I said it, it will happen.
I planted the seed, was a caretaker in the growth, let their be flowers without end.
I don’t expect disruptions especially when I can see the sprouts then leaves and finally the vivid color of buds.

Some of the nasturtium plants died after the repeated upheaval.

Some flowered on very small spindly plants.

However others grew with abandon, stretching tendrils on either side of the initial seeds, leaping over fencing to spill onto the driveway with a profusion of blossoms.

20180919_164808794263436.jpg

Dreams aren’t solely about speaking words into existence.

Dreams often require patient waiting, rearrangement and being a vigilant watchman.

A fence doesn’t guarantee a dream will grow and won’t be disrupted.

There will be naysayers.

There will be obstacles.

There will be less than ideal conditions.

We live in a time of instant access and it seems a mystery when our dreams don’t arrive on our doorsteps as quickly or as nicely packaged as Amazon guarantees.

Somehow, twelve years have passed and I failed to notice I was already living a piece of my dream. A dream which had been set in motion day by day and post by post even with large gaps from time to time.

Somehow, I had been busy looking at the holes and not the blooms which stretched forth from every press of the publish button.

Earth.

Seeds.

Life.

Leaves.

Flowers.

Death.

New seeds.

It’s the cycle of life and dreams.

Do you have a dream you believe resembles a hole but if you looked closer, is actually full of rich life-giving soil?

 

unseen

Our daughter Courtney was married on Saturday.

When I can wrap my mind around all I felt about that day, I will share that in writing as well.

But for now, I wanted to share a few thoughts.

20180427_162929937430563.jpg

I took this photo in late April.

In all our preparations for the wedding, we were also trying to spruce up our much lived in home, inside and out.

I planted nasturtium seeds along our fence up to the place where the sunflower seeds would be thrown.

I lamented how nothing was happening other than a few new weeds needing to be plucked from the earth.

I had mostly given up hope but gave one last effort of watering and forgot about this plot of land, because of all the list making and such.

One day, I pulled into the driveway and upon exiting my car, my eyes landed on green.

Sprouts had pushed through my disbelief and emerged, like lily pads floating above a pond.

The month of May in Portland brought very little rain. These conditions seemed ideal and my nasturtiums grew and then didn’t. But I left them alone as they don’t demand a lot of fuss or rich soil.

By June, the plants seemed stronger and I felt confident they would be blooming to happily greet our visiting family.

The week before the wedding, they were in full bloom.

My parents arrived on Tuesday to begin the parade of wedding guests. On Wednesday morning, I opened a couple of wedding business related emails that contained miscommunications and anxiety began to crawl inside my stomach.

Carl came into the kitchen from the backyard and asked if I had been digging in the nasturtiums. I looked at him puzzled and said no.

As I stepped onto the patio, I could see small mounds of dirt, holes and nasturtiums strewn all about and a deep hole along one section of the sunflowers.

An animal must have been searching for something unseen.

Quickly I scooped up droopy plants and soil and tried to replace them and showered each plant with water, hoping to revive.

It may seem silly but I felt unraveled by this discovery. The emails had brought stress and coupled with this annoyance, I felt overwhelmed.

Time, however, does not stop or rewind. We marched on, tried not to grumble about misunderstandings because a wedding was coming!

A wedding that no matter how hard and often I prayed, I could not lasso a glimpse of what it would be like. I couldn’t envision the collection of people who would be witnesses. I couldn’t imagine how we would feel as we watched two lives joined and families who live on opposite coasts united. The not being able to see caused me sleepless nights. It renewed my awareness of my need for control.

What I know now is that early sight can obscure the full expanse of seeing a vision in totality.

I was not supposed to peek into the future. I was to continue to walk towards the unseen and believe.

Trust.

Hope.

Breathe.

I wasn’t given foreknowledge or foresight because I wouldn’t have believed what I saw.

I wouldn’t have appreciated the beauty had I not held fists full of dirt that marred my mood and view.

I wouldn’t have prayed as much.

I wouldn’t have realized how important it is to ask for help.

I wouldn’t have learned how sharing the load brings joy to the co-laborers and ease to my shoulders. We all need to lean on someone.

20180626_1704451436029672.jpg

I wouldn’t have opened my hands in surrender.

20180626_170550471254900.jpg

I wouldn’t have appreciated beauty if it weren’t for the disruptions and destruction that crossed my path.

If you are straining for a better look at a future vision, don’t fret, we all tend to want to crane our necks.

This life is a mystery and it is littered with sights unseen.

20180626_170522_0011858864414.jpg

Open your hands.

Lift your chin to the sky.

Open your lips and let your held breath escape towards the heavens.

Allow the buried seeds of your life to stretch from darkness to light, from a whispered hope to the glory of vibrant blooms marking your path.

20180626_1703281539707572.jpg

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3: 11

Perhaps the pot at the end of the rainbow is filled with books

20171230_085405.jpg

I will never forget handing a recently read and loved book to a friend only to have the book returned a few weeks later along with a proclamation of how much she hated the book.

Religious, political and even book preferences can unite and divide. Over time, I have realized it is absolutely more fun to discuss books with those who share the same affections but it can be equally instructive to learn the reasons a certain book is experienced differently among readers.

This year, I read a book by a much beloved author, I am in that camp as well but this author’s newest book won’t land on my favorite books of the year as it may be on other readers’ lists. My own personal lens and experiences crept in and try as I did, I couldn’t separate myself. If I was to have a conversation about this book with someone on the opposite side, our differences in opinions could prove awkward initially but I am willing to wager would create connection. We would each learn about the other person and might agree the book is neither good nor bad, simply found each of us at the right or wrong time. Books have an amazing way of exposing us. This is probably the reason I can be hesitant to share my reading lists.

With that introduction, I have listed the fiction and non-fiction books that top my list this year. For parts of 2016 and most of 2017, as much as I checked and rechecked out so many of the “important books” from the library, many dealing with racial reconciliation, etc., I have found myself completely tender and raw in those areas. I know there will be a time to revisit these books and many are downloaded and waiting in my Audible library.  As I assembled this list, I discovered a pattern, I tended to read to escape into a story very different than the present and when the escapism seemed to be out of balance, I leaned back to books of faith. I learned I really like fantasy and magical realism. I love being swept away by a well-written and thought-out book. I love stories of messy families because don’t we all have messes?! I love memoir and this year deepened my love for a couple of authors. I also saw a pattern of loving books about books.

Each title will have a link to provide the book description. I will simply write why I call it a favorite.

Fiction:

 

 

Beast of Extraordinary Circumstance-This is the story of Weylyn Grey, who was raised by wolves and the people he touches. Parts of this book are set in the Wildwood Forest in Oregon. This book swept me away and I finished it while we were at the coast during a storm. I loved every bit of it.

A Discovery of WitchesMost sane people wouldn’t pick a 600 page book to read during that part of the year when their book goals are in jeopardy. This book had been on my radar several times, checked out from the library and I kept hearing praise for it from readers whose taste I respect. This book is the first in a trilogy.  I loved that I didn’t know any details before reading this book, so I am not going to venture into plot except to mention, a very sought after book is one of the main ingredients. In my opinion, there was never a lull in this book and difficult to lay aside. It was also one of the cleanest books which to me means an excellent writer.

Little Fires Everywhere- Celeste Ng has a gift for writing books that allow me to sink into the story but also think about the choices I make as well. I really appreciate how seamlessly she illustrates family dynamics and relationships. She has written two books and she is batting a thousand with me.

 

 

 

 

The Lost Book of the Grail- I am a sucker for a book about books, an antiquarian, the liturgy of the hours, an unforeseen love story and is set in libraries and churches with a dash of intrigue. Oh and King Arthur!  This book was such a sweet spot for me. It makes me smile just remembering.

Commonwealth- My sense is that reviews were scattered about Ann Patchett’s latest novel. I really loved this look at a pivotal family event and the trajectory of the children’s and parents’ lives dealing with the aftermath.

 

Station Eleven– I read this book at the very beginning of the year, while Portland was submerged in snow. I don’t remember a lot about last Christmas. I tried to ignore a pinched nerve in my neck that rendered me quite useless during all of my planned time off. I was a shadow to my family rotating between sleep and taking pain medicine every four hours. Dare I say, the wintry road conditions were a gift? Station Eleven was the book I read when my pain started to subside. It was also the book that created a long reading slump post-reading. It’s a National Book Award Finalist so I had high expectations and was not disappointed. It’s about King Lear, a traveling symphony and a super flu just for starters. I particularly enjoy books when characters collide in unanticipated ways. This book is perfection to me.

Non-fiction:

March-Book One- March is a graphic novel series depicting John Lewis’ experiences during the civil rights movement. We bought the 3 book set for Caleb last Christmas. I read the first, he read the first 2 and Carl read all three. I mention this because it is a very well done book series but it isn’t easy. Caleb said after the second book that he needed to take a break. Carl powered through and agreed with Caleb. We can do and read hard things, it’s important and necessary. I think this series is a perfect resource to
share history in an approachable way.

Hourglass-Time, Memory, Marriage- I was so taken by Dani Shapiro’s memoir about marriage. Her words gave me so much to think about how often I remember isolated parts of my life and my marriage. What do I make up or remember falsely? How do I reconcile dreams that linger unfulfilled and life’s directional changes? It’s a short book  full of soul-bearing material mixed with parts evoking laughter of recognition.

Liturgy of the Ordinary- Take a look at the daily activities of our lives and see them as a liturgy. This small book gave me an appreciation for the smallness of life and the importance of daily rhythms.

The Book Market of Paris- This is a memoir which read like fiction. I had to keep checking the book jacket to make sure it was indeed non-fiction. This book made me cry because it is such a tenderly written love story between a woman and the grandfather who gave her a love of exotic birds. It is an astonishing story and told with brutal honesty. We have become quite bird watchers at our home and this further heightened my appreciation for birds.

Home by Another Way- Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World is one of my all-time favorite books. I have read several of her other books as well. Home by Another Way is a collection of sermons she preached over the course of a church calendar year. My mom and I both read this book together from different places. I believe she read it straight through and then started again. I read according to the calendar, I am also on my second reading so I just finished the Advent readings. All I can say is each piece is exquisite and makes one reflect on familiar passages with new eyes.

The Wellness Revelation- The book, the podcast, guided workouts, and the Revelation Wellness community has begun to help change my relationship with food and fitness. I have always struggled to find balance in my physical and spiritual life.  Either I was exercising hard and felt like I was neglecting time with God or the reverse. In my eyes, it was hard to do both with equal intensity. In my 20’s through the majority of my 40’s until physical ailments plagued me, I loved exercise. I had to have unlimited passes for Jazzercise (dates me, I know), At 29, after having a second baby, I felt I needed a challenge (don’t laugh, okay laugh, it’s justified) so why not train to walk a marathon, which I planned to walk at 30 and 40 and 50. I did walk one at 30 and then in small ways my body started to fail me, a gallbladder needed removing and liver issues came out of the blue. But I kept pushing, at 49, I remember texting a friend over Memorial Day, if perhaps she wanted to walk a half marathon on the 4th of July. We were perhaps walking about 3 miles at the time. But we conquered it and a few weeks later, a bike ride led to the summer of sciatic pain. Then there was disc disease in my neck and chronic shoulder tendonitis and severe arthritis in my knees. Sigh. I started a desk job nearly three years ago and what feels like suddenly my body is a stranger to me. How I feel in my body versus what a mirror reveals doesn’t seem connected.  Reading The Wellness Revelation has been such a timely book for me at this stage in my life. One way it has revealed my cycle of obsessing over and neglecting my body. Alisa Keaton’s words have helped me to be grateful for the body I reside in today as I honor it by treating it well*. Truly it feels like the first time fitness and faith have embraced one another and I can finally exhale. So there’s my true confession. I am fighting the urge to press delete but if there is one thing I have learned over the years, there is one person who will read the words above and completely get it and know they are not alone. So the words and feelings are true and will stay.

Meeting God in Scripture- For me, this will be an ongoing book to use weekly. Jan Johnson provides 40 guided meditations for deeper scripture reading. I like the opportunity to slow down and reflect on short passages and the questions aid to see the references from a different perspective. A wonderful way to enhance reading of the Bible. One of the reflections helped me determine my word for 2018*, a little time of quiet is always a good thing.

Tell me a book or two or a dozen that you read this year and enjoyed or what are reading now? This is not a rhetorical questions 🙂

I hope to finish The Bookman’s Tale before the clock strikes midnight, it seems like the perfect book and title to end the year!

Happy New Year!

I have learned not to promise how often I will post because I tend to fail. But I definitely am grateful for your readership whenever I press publish!

Helen hearts…

IMG_20170821_085234_647

The morning of the solar eclipse.

Autumn has arrived.

I can’t quite let go of summer, despite the scorching temperatures and smoke-filled skies. Here is a small accounting of the parts I loved about this past summer, the lessons I learned both big and small or ridiculous and what I hope clings to me through each and every season. Simply put, Helen hearts…

  • Apples with limes
    Most people are well acquainted with the benefits of using lemon juice over apples.
    Next time you cut up an apple, grab the green citrus fruit instead and commence eating. I can’t tell you how delicious this concoction is to me. What a great way to keep that pesky doctor away?!
  • CSA Boxes
    I noticed last summer, we rarely visited farmer’s markets for two reasons; we lost one of our favorite weekday markets and soccer tournaments on weekends. We decided to sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box throughout the summer months. It is an easy way to support area farmers and have the pleasure of the freshest produce. The farm we chose allowed box customization but sometimes when the deadline passed, we were “forced” to experiment with different produce than our usual fare. It was a great opportunity to be a bit more adventurous. Find a CSA near you here, many offer year round options as well with different products.
  • Music
    This is the portion of this post which dates me. So here goes, back in the day when music was mostly enjoyed on the radio or CD players, I played music seemingly all the time. Whether it was in the car, cooking dinner or cleaning the house, the tunes were blaring. Now I must be increasingly intentional to listen to music. The world is plenty noisy. I crave silence. However, music brings joy to everyday moments. Two hearts go to Spotify’s family plan. One monthly fee to be shared among up to six loved ones. Everyone gets their own playlists and can dance to the rhythm of the beat.
  • Favorite new magazineMagnolia Journal
    I used to have a hefty magazine habit. I have reformed my ways and only subscribe to 2 at the moment. Magnolia Journal is one of those two. Issues are quarterly-ish and reading it makes me feel restful and happy.
  • Books
    Oh how I have been in such a book slump for most of 2017. It all began when I read Station Eleven during the big Portland snow. Every book, I picked up thereafter felt a bit “meh”.  I took some time away from reading and this summer, I decided that I was only going to read the books I wanted to read, not those heralded by the masses. I would ignore Goodreads Challenge screams declaring I am however many books behind of my goal. I decided to keep reading. The best books I have read in the aftermath of Station Eleven (so dramatic, I know) are: The Lost Book of the Grail, Liturgy of the Ordinary and Hourglass. I have been slowing reading with my Mom, Home by Another Way , an exquisite book of sermons by Barbara Brown Taylor spanning the Christian year. I just started the first of the Sidney Chambers books which the PBS series Grantchester is based. It seems to be the perfect cozy mystery series to welcome autumn.
  • Stability
    This past May marked 24 years of living in the same house. The first two years of marriage found Carl and me in Minnesota, while I finished graduate school. The next 5, we moved to Portland and lived in 2 different rentals.
    It’s rare to stay in one place. We have chosen to remain in one neighborhood for the vast majority of our marriage and our children’s lives. I don’t see any moving vans in our future. In St. Benedict’s Rule of Life, stability is one of the vows taken by monks and nuns. Stability is devoting oneself to stay in one place, to belong to and love one’s community. In the same way we believe certain things can only be learned from experience. There is an unmatched sacredness only earned from remaining. We have a common history with those who share walls but a unique story is written along our sidewalks and yards. There have been conversations and requests for prayer which I believe only occurred because the years unfolded in front of our porches. When we are a part of a neighborhood, we belong to one another. I often forget as I don’t want to be nosy like Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched.  There have been two occasions over the last couple of months when Carl has been invited into a difficult situation or sought to be of help in an emergency. One with a long-time neighbor and the other a new family to our block. I continue to be reminded how being involved and caring is not butting in.
    I have a list of “to do’s” inside and outside our house and sometimes, I ponder the proverbial greener pastures, but I love the neighborhood we feel called to call home.
    *****
    After 24 years, all our flowerbeds needed attention. The plants looked tired and many had sustained damage from the harsh (for us) winter and some didn’t return during the spring or summer. We decided to re-imagine our landscaping, of course, during a summer without rain and high temperatures.  It has been an exercise in patience, mainly mine. I like to draw the plan and execute. I want it done already.  It’s not finished but I am slowly accepting this reality. We tended the plants we have and allowed the soil to rest and our eyes to readjust to empty spaces. We have enriched the soil, removed unnecessary root systems, smoothed the lumps and replenished depleted soil with healthy earth. Because if I am realistic, the rebuilding, remaking and reclaiming shouldn’t take a weekend but much longer. How often have I plucked out old root systems in my own life and immediately sought a replacement without allowing  time to clear the landscape of my mind, my heart or my soul before creating new designs?
    *****
    Every year, sunflowers instruct me. This summer was no exception. From a practical standpoint, Caleb and I planted the sunflowers along the fence by type and height. In years past, when it was time to thin the young plants, I couldn’t tell some of the types apart and ended up completely losing certain varieties. For whatever reason, the sunflowers bloomed one type at a time.  It wasn’t until the end of August that each kind was in bloom. Not sure what my strategy will be next spring. Every season is different for unknown reasons but always an opportunity to pay attention and learn.
    This was a summer of giving bunches to friends, co-workers and discovering our fence line neighbor was cutting bunches for himself to enjoy. One Friday, I gave bunches away and I was the most blessed. Most of those bouquets bore leaves covered in ash from all the wildfires. A visual reminder of beauty mingled with destruction.IMG_20170908_161454_800All during the growing season, whenever I needed or perhaps whenever I truly looked, I found ladybugs.

20170718_112829

  • Rest
    In the middle of July, Carl and I had a length of time when Caleb was off beach camping with his youth group. We decided to stay at home instead of traveling. We couldn’t seem to shake our exhaustion and didn’t want to pay for a mattress when we owned a perfectly good one designed for sleeping in and napping. We recognized the long year it had been especially as related to Carl’s health. No matter how tightly we held onto each other or to God’s hand, the unknowing and the daily grind of life which doesn’t cease during trial found us with a deeply worn groove of fatigue. We were only a few days in and a few plants purchased, when we received an unexpected phone call. It was news not anywhere near our thoughts or on our radar concerning a loved one. It was such a shock. Over the last perhaps 11 years, the phone has rung innumerable times with hard news or information. I am sure it has for you as well. It is life.  This time was different. I don’t mean who it concerned. What I mean is that my response was different. I won’t say there was not fear because it was there. But there was rest as well. We had rested, we weren’t completely rested and probably none of us ever will be, but we were able to hear the news from a place of rest not depletion. The rest crowded out the fear and brought peace. I assembled my people who pray for me not so that I could line up as many people who could somehow moved the hand of God in the direction I wanted. I asked for prayer because believers believe in prayer. I also believe in God’s word, while reading in the book of Genesis about the death of Sarah,
    this portion of the verse has deepened my gratitude for each day.
    “…these were all the years of her life.”
    Genesis 23:1
    We are all given a certain amount of days. They encompass all the years of our life, no matter how long or few. No matter if they are taken by disease, the hand of another,  old age, unjustly, understandably or too soon. We don’t determine the number.  God breathes life into us and when we have lived all the years he has ordained, he will extinguish. Leave no weighty words unspoken to those you love. We are not promised tomorrow.
    Embracing rest has changed the way I approach each day and the way I work. I try not to strive getting to week’s end so I can rest from my work. I work from a place of rest. I have heard this sentiment often but now I understand. Not surprising, my neck pain has diminished greatly, a welcome side-effect.IMG_20170725_204909_024
  • Saying no to rushing and yes to personal retreats
    Many of my days are spent rushing and wishing I was at my destination quicker and sooner. I have been increasingly impatient and cranky and my neck always aches (see rest above). I don’t have any magic words here but I have made it my aim to stop rushing and to linger. When someone unexpected drops by and my eternal list  gets pushed aside, I am trying to stop internally drumming my fingers. I breathing deeper and fully inhabiting my body by engaging. It sounds ridiculous and a bit shameful to realize how often I more concerned about conquering life instead of dwelling with those in my presence.
    I began jotting notes for this post during the middle of August. I started writing it last Sunday and today it is October. It used to be so important to produce new writing frequently. I was the only one who was in such a rush. The words needing to be remembered remain even when delayed and more often, un-hurried words are better, more formed expressions.
    Also in the spirit of abolishing rush, I embarked on my first and definitely not the last personal retreat. I set aside roughly 5 hours during my day off to curate my dreams, scribble in my journal, tend to my hard and tender places and explore whatever needed un-hurried time to ponder. It was such a rich and satisfying time to step away from an ordinary day. It was after a walk, the thought to make sunflower bunches to give away emerged. Retreating is the goal not mapping productivity. I sketched a rough framework for the day of retreat and stayed open to abandoning structure if necessary. Let the undefined time guide you away from bullet points. You might be surprised how setting aside only a few hours can help re-acquaint you with your soul.
  • The friendship among children

    IMG_20170622_163340_722
    Our kids are now 14, 24 and 28. I have savored their childhoods and hurried them at same time. (Notice a theme?) Sometimes, I wanted to know how they would turn out, you know? I always knew (well, most of the time) I was called to be the mother to each child at the age they were that day, that age, not 6 months or 6 years in the future. I knew God would always equip me for their ages. Although, I can’t believe their collective ages I am confident I arrived here by traversing each stage of mothering.  One of the sweetest gifts of this past summer has been to witness the friendship of our children. We always prayed they would love each other deeply and be closely connected. The photo above was sent to me at work one day in June, when the sisters were taking their brother for a day at the Oregon coast. I had often worried the age gap would be insurmountable, it has taken time and patience but they are a very loud, laughing, silly and fiercely loyal threesome. I couldn’t be more thrilled and grateful.
    It’s been a summer filled with lessons and I trust the autumn will unearth others. The end of August marked the 11th year of A Work of Heart. Thank you for reading and waiting and rejoicing when a new post miraculously appears in your inbox or however you find these words. I couldn’t love writing more or be more thankful for your support.
    Thank you Summer.
    Welcome Autumn.
    Just look at my babies 🙂
    IMG_20170825_110726_213