what i am loving and learning

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Hello.

The end of August marked the 10th year of A Work of Heart. I stand amazed for a number of reasons but most of all by readers. The content available at the click of a pinkie finger is immeasurable. I never take for granted that even one person would take the time to read a long post, write a comment, share on Facebook or hit the like button.
Initially only my family and a few friends knew the existence of this site, but now there are almost 500 followers of this little ol’ blog. It’s a drop in the bucket for many bloggers but my cup runs over with gratitude as a blogger who doesn’t follow any of the “rules” anymore and only posts occasionally. Thank you from all corners of my heart.

Now to what I am loving and learning:

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I am not different from most, I like the after-effects of cleaning. In the category of frivolous, I love Caldrea countertop spray. I may lose my Oregonian credentials as I should be using a homemade vinegar and water solution but no. I love the fragrance and how it faintly lingers hours after I have cleaned, reminding me that I have indeed cleaned…something.

 

I had heard a bit about Netflix’s original series Stranger Things but it wasn’t until I asked my Facebook peeps to help us find some television/movie ideas while Carl recovered from a recent surgery that it became apparent it was time to check the series out. We felt like we had been transported into the 1980’s in the best possible way. It was such a treat to watch a series that defies age. No spoilers here, just watch it.

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I am not sure why it took me so long but I finally  started a bullet journal. If I am honest, I thought it would bother me if I didn’t do it “right”. What I have learned is that mistakes are a part of the process and this journal is for me alone. I love having everything in one place. I tended towards having many notebooks and lists and never made a lot of traction regarding goal keeping and organization. Be forewarned how easy it is to drool over the creative world of those who keep a bullet journal, perhaps this was a bit intimidating as well. I am loving making my journal feel like Helen and no one is grading my journal 🙂

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Behold the sunflower glory. Our year has been marked by waiting. Waiting is difficult and it is stretching. I fought hard to get seeds into the ground this year. The rest of our yard is a bit challenged and sad-looking. Last summer’s extreme heat devastated most of my perennials and gave us a weak blueberry harvest. Sniff. These sunflowers are beauty and hope in the waiting. This year I planted 10-12 different varieties and then I misplaced the seeds and couldn’t find them for weeks, another delay and more waiting. When I look at each stem swaying in the breeze, being enjoyed by bees or even the very tallest ones the squirrels didn’t allow viewing before they carted the blossoms off, they are my sunrise and sunset. They represent all that is contained in a day and in our lives, a lot of waiting but also such a lot of glorious beauty to behold.
This week, I read this verse:

I can be content in any and every  situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.   Philippians 4: 13 (The Voice)

I have read this verse countless times but in this translation, all I could do was say out loud, “Not even.”
I haven’t been very content in most situations lately.
I can be, only through God.
If contentment were easy, God wouldn’t need to help us secure it.
I can wait.
I can be content.
I can lean heavily onto my Maker to make it be so.

My word for the year has been peace. Oh that has been such a great word for many reasons. We all need peace and want it. Sometimes, I have to hunt for peace when I scroll through social media feeds. Another aspect of peace which I didn’t anticipate is my need to finally surrender to taking better care of myself. It encompasses all the things we all know we should be doing but for me it also is simply being kinder and gentler to myself. I don’t have to move at an urgent pace everyday. I don’t have to conquer everything. I can say no or yes. I can rest. If I wasn’t convinced, I need to look no further than how Caleb has gotten in the habit of giving me a neck and shoulder massage. It is the most dear thing ever but he notices. Tight muscles are noisy messengers.

I read Shauna Niequist’s new book after grappling with many of the themes of her book for years. I finished it in a couple of days and wrote all over the margins. It became a journal of “aha’s” and “yes, me too”. This summer, I also started the crazy habit of reading one book at a time. Gasp. After decade of having lot of bookmarked books, I decided to read one book at a time. It makes me feel less cluttered. I think I am loving it.

When this image hit my Instagram feed several days ago, I could not stop looking at the Obamas. It is such a stunning photo of a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. I had so many thoughts and feelings. It gave me pause for all the ways I feel about my body, all the ways I feel it has been less or more than I want it to be. I added it to the running list of “loves”  in my bullet journal (of course). But then I read Deidra Rigg’s post and it was such a slam dunk and a hallelujah, I will let her eloquent words stand. She is a lot braver than I am. I want to be braver. Fist bump Deidra and Michelle.

*****

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Not the best photo (not my car), but remember, obviously you can never have too many car fresheners 😉 

What are you loving and learning during these golden days of September?

 

 

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turning fifty

Birthdays are an interesting phenomenon aren’t they?

There is the prerequisite build-up until the day arrives

complete with marching band excitement and yet

once the confetti is swept up and freed from your hair,

you realize you don’t feel much differently than the day before

or even last month.

This is how turning fifty has felt.

The months leading up to this big birthday have included

celebrating friends turning 50

and they have celebrated me.

I feel incredibly

rich from the experience.

Honestly I feel like I still reside in my 40’s.

Perhaps not 40, as I had an 11 month old tyke

at the time

and sleep was elusive.

Within that expanse, I felt ancient and

my dependence was more on coffee than

eternal things.

But that is another story.

So this exchange of decade zip codes

hasn’t shifted the core of me only added

two new digits.

I want to share what I am hoping to bring

into this landscape.

There will be no mention of hills

especially going over them.

Celebration

Perhaps it is the introvert in me or that

I am a bit reserved and don’t often like

center of attention moments.

I tend to push away personal celebrations.

I have done quite a bit

of celebrating and it’s been good.

Really good.

Celebration has reached down deep into my

soul and mended some broken places I

wasn’t even aware existed.

Often I downplay the “big deals”

in my life.

I have been wrong.

Isn’t it humble to brush aside offers to celebrate?

When I have proclaimed celebrating unnecessary,

I waved a flag with stitching

revealing I wasn’t important enough to laud.

Now to some of you, this might sound

preposterous because you are always

ready to form a conga line.

For others, you recognize the depths

I describe.

You might even recall the silent ache when those big days or

occasions pass and you stumble upon

the fact that crickets are not festive

or a worthy companion.

Life in all its big and small ways

provides reason enough to raise a ruckus.

We are meant to be celebrated.

We point back to the Creator when

we raise a glass of cheer.

Let there be celebrating.

Enough

Most days begin with me at our table before

a large window with a strategically placed

bird feeder in one of the trees.

The other morning, between sips of tea and writing,

a squirrel was attacking the bird feeder.

I would pound on the glass

and the gravitational pull would hasten his return.

The feeder had been half full of suet but by the time he left to make

way for the birds, there was only a small chunk in the corner of

the cage.

Okay this ticked me off.

Do you remember this photo?

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This image was floating through my mind when birds landed

for their morning meal.

I was grousing about the shameless greed of that squirrel taking what

belonged to the birds.

Yet as I survey the birds,

I didn’t see a single one with their wings on their hips

in dismay.

They were getting their fill of food.

By the way they were sailing between feeder

and limbs, they seemed quite delighted.

There was enough.

Social media can be like a picture window

to lives we weren’t originally supposed to see.

Years ago, I wouldn’t know who got a book deal

or whose blog post was being widely circulated.

I wouldn’t have known how many exotic vacations

someone took or even what you did while I was

on the couch streaming a movie.

It wouldn’t be so easy to succumb to feeling

I don’t have enough or that I am enough.

The truth is people aren’t greedy squirrels

and none of us are going to stop posting

the beautiful moments of our days but

I want to live like a bird who considers

crumbs a feast.

We have a family saying from way back…

Be content with what God sent.

I am grabbing hold to the truth of being and

having enough until it is firmly planted solidly

in my soul.

Sometimes the best way to move forward is

to look backward.

There are two areas that continue to make my

heart beat, one faster and the other slower.

Welcome

This word has played ping-pong in my spirit

for years.

I desire to be a person of welcome.

Many times those introverted tendencies take

over but at my core, I know I was created to

be welcoming.

For my birthday,

I asked “the powers that be” namely my family for

a bench.

It is designed to accompany something special which I will share

with you soon.

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So this is me moments after Carl put the bench together.

If I am honest, I almost didn’t post this picture.

It’s not my most flattering picture,

I am not standing behind someone to show

only a partial view of me.

Our backyard grass resembles straw.

Heavens  it has been a hot summer and

I do believe any make up I was wearing has

melted.

I am learning that welcome has nothing

in common with perfection

and looking put together.

Welcome is being open to  showing your good and your

not so great sides.

Welcome is a bench made for people who are

dry in spirit,

sad, happy,

chubby, skinny,

desperate

and  weary.

I hope to sit on that bench

and I pray my neighbors will as well.

You are my neighbor.

Rest

More than any topic I wrote about on this blog,

the most read posts are the ones about rest.

I have talked about it for years because I was desperate

for rest of any kind.

A friend recently wrote me and said when she thinks of me,

she thinks of rest.

Now before you consider this clever wording as code for

meaning she finds me boring and promptly needs a nap,

it referred to conversations we’ve had about the supreme

importance of rest.

I plan to be greedy about resting and

consider yourselves warned,

I will continue to remind you as well.

Dearest 50,

You have come wrapped in packages filled

with celebration,

contentment,

welcome and rest.

Thank you for the marching orders.

May the only arthritis I bear be in my knees

and not in my heart or soul.

Deal?

Gratefully yours,

 

Helen