Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Slow Down and Savor

Slow Down & Savor

Staring at the bulletin board above my desk, a sense of disloyalty washes over me. The autumn pictures that give me such joy will soon be replaced by Christmas ones. I wonder what it would be like to extract every bit of sweetness out of each season, not allowing man-made holidays to push me along. Winter doesn't begin until December 21st by the calendar year. What if the snowman collection crowding the top of the pie safe didn't make an appearance until the changing of the seasons? Of course I do favor autumn over all the others, but why must we rush along as if we were about to see our favorite celebrity. The One who made the seasons is the greatest of all and He didn't rush, but methodically made a plan to inhabit the flesh of a baby, grow up, make fishers of men, die on a cross, raise from the dead and lift up the hearts of believers everywhere in anticipation of His return.

'Tis the season when all the details of my days are blurred together and my holidays begin to look more abstract than intentional and meaningful; full of moments meant to be noticed and celebrated, each day meant to be anticipated and celebrated. Last week I worked hard to savor and create memories with my husband, daughters and their friends. It was no small feat since we celebrated two birthdays and Thanksgiving in a short seven-day week. Packed in the middle of cooking, baking, cleaning and wrapping, a special event for our church staff gobbled up most of one day.

At times I felt overwhelmed and unsure of how I would manage, but I do know something about savoring: a beautiful magazine, a well written book, looking into the sparkling eyes of a loved one as they tell their story, the exquisite prayer journal by a dear friend, or a delicious piece of dark chocolate. These are things I slow down and savor. I am tempted to absorb these treasures all at once, but usually I am able to take my time and truly enjoy each picture, each bite, each story, each phrase, and each prayer. Why does this time of year, with all the twinkleling lights and sweet treats, seem so devoid of the leisure needed to relish in its meaning and significance? I could blame it on consumerism or on others planning too many events designed to commemorate Christmas; I suppose all those things have an influence on me. But I am the one who chooses whether or not I will be deprived of savoring the special moments between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have helped complicate Christmas with all the trappings and expectations I put on myself.

Don't misunderstand, I enjoy some of the trappings of Christmas: the happiest music, gift giving, decorating and extra baking. The point is I do not want to get so caught up in the trappings that I forget to think about why I cherish each person for whom I wrap a present. I don't want to miss out on meaningful fellowship. I don't want to disregard how the garnet-colored
pomegranates hang heavy like ornaments on the pomegranate tree. I want to watch the hummingbirds sip nectar from the Aloe Vera blossoms. I want to sip coffee with my daughters and hear about their daily doings. I want to enjoy the process of decorating the Christmas tree and not feel as if I must do this, but that I delight in doing it. I want to watch Christmas movies with my husband without worrying about all the items needing crossed off my list.

As I read back over this post, I realized I have a theme going: I am not wanting to miss the meaningful moments in life. Being intentional about paying attention is hard work sometimes. I am looking for ways to make room for more joy, less drudgery. I choose to spend less time and energy worrying about getting everything done and more time enjoying the process of preparing to celebrate the incarnation and what it means for all the people I love. I would love to hear how you strip away some of the "shoulds" of the Christmas season and find ways to delight in the moments made with the people you love.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Reviving a Hummingbird

There he sat on the patio, calling my name, wanting me to see the tiny life cupped gently in his hands. “What do you think I should do with her?” he asked of me. I peered into the hands of my husband, the man who chooses life, and saw a female Anna's hummingbird breathing in the softest gasps of air, eyes closed. I reached to stroke her; I had never touched a hummingbird before.

It looked as if she may have knocked herself silly against the patio door, but she would die if left on the cold cement. “I don't know what to do with her,” I spoke without putting much thought into saving this amazing little creature. “Wrap her in a towel and lay her on the patio table. I have to finish vacuuming.”

He stayed planted in the Adirondack chair, hands cupped warm around this fragile bird and with one finger gently straightening her ruffled wings, he breathed life into her through prayer. He was touched by her helpless plight enough so that he stopped the cycle of chores to keep her warm and wait. While I on the other hand was entrenched in a to-do list and could not see the life of this hummer as a high priority.

Several minutes later I checked on the two of them. The hummer was gone. My husband's eyes shined bright throughout the telling of how this little bird stood wobbly in his palm and then took flight. Before going far, she turned back and hovered in front of him in gratitude. I missed it! I missed this miraculous moment because I was too busy vacuuming! The whole precious event only took about ten minutes and I let the opportunity slip by because I had something to do that would need doing again in few days.

It was a Charlie Brown moment for me. Good grief, I missed it! How could I have been so foolish as to trade in this tiny pocket of time filled to overflowing with the miraculous for the managing of the never ending daily dust and dirt. Ugh! I was impressed with my husband's perseverance and disappointed in myself for not being there to share the joy of the little bird opening her eyes, arising on thin legs, and then on beating wings with a pause and a glance of thankfulness.

There are these blessed moments, God-given gifts to stop us in the middle of our daily drivenness to fill our hearts with awe at the Creator's immense thoughtfulness of the tiny details in our lives. And so often we miss out, too busy with necessary but meaningless tasks. It is my husband's story because he was the only one there to see it; I only have the second-hand version since I chose to be a Martha not a Mary in those few beautiful moments. Periodically a female Anna's will leave the feeder and hover before my husband; he is convinced she is still thanking him for saving her life. And I believe the joyful reward my husband gained by waiting in these moments with her were nearly as wonderful for him.

I encourage you not to stand around, Charlie Brown-like, mourning the moments you've missed. Listen. May the lost moments inspire you to pay attention to the still, small voice of the Creator saying, “Look over here, I have set something aside to share with you.” It would bless my heart to hear your stories of being stopped in the middle of your headstrong direction and taking time to treasure the beautiful, inspiring details that filled your heart with awe.

P. S. I am still learning a lot about blogging. If you are following this blog you already know I do not have a regular posting schedule yet. So you don't miss a posting, sign up to receive posts in your email. Thanks for all your support and encouragement.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

This morning my husband made me this extra special latte. He had already made our usual cups, but I often feel the need for one more. The tired of the week had me in its clutches and warm cinnamon coffee, with a bit of chocolate stirred in, thawed the stiffness left behind by the sitting and listening and bearing of burdens. My dear husband can support this fact: I am mostly delighted by simple pleasures. I am overwhelmed and worn out by too many choices and complicated schedules. So much so that at times I have to start cleaning closets.

Do you know what I mean? When life feels complicated and my control over it is limited I look around and see what I can manage. Over time and hurried days the stuff in cupboards and closets starts to co-mingle and soon it drains too much time out of my life as I search for one, specific, misplaced item. I decided when I want to be creative or get dressed there needs to be a more logical flow to the way I store things.

Monday my husband came home from work to find each bedroom closet open and stuff spilling out on the floor and taking over the beds. It is great therapy for me to clean closets, cupboards and drawers: pulling things out, trashing or bagging unwanted items, and putting what's left back in purposeful order. Somehow the whole process lifts a weight off my shoulders and allows me to regulate my breathing. It calms me.

My recent trip to visit my mom opened a storehouse of ordinary days full of ordinary pleasures via pocket calendars left behind by my Grandma. She knew how to edit life down to the best and most important events; the few lines scrawled daily captured more than most people could in a chapter. Of course having lived next door to her for most of my childhood, I can see the details between the lines as her words pulled up pictures from my memory bank.

Nearly everyday she would report the weather; it was a good day if the sun was shining even if it was too cold for her. Captured in the daily scribblings, I find her doing ordinary chores like: laundry, hanging clothes on the line, baking, gardening, and regular visits with friends and neighbors. Days filled with completed tasks seemed to give her a sense of satisfaction and regular visits with friends and neighbors brought her joy. It was an era when people made time to swap howdies and check in on one another. Here are a few excerpts.

May 1, 1992 49° AM 69° hi
“A pretty day with wind, clothes dried fast. We got the patio cleaned & the geraniums moved down from upstairs. Joan came to stay all nite. Her, Terri & I walked.”

September 11, 1992 50° AM 72° hi
“A nice day. AM was cloudy. Picked beans & tomatoes also cucumbers from the garden. Went to town in afternoon. Baked pies for Stevens sale.”

October 15, 1992 64° AM 67° hi
“Cloudy & rainy day. We put in some storm windows. Bible Study here with 8 of us. Had ice cream & hickory nut cake to serve for Ralph's B.D. Joan & Alton called at 10:45 PM.”

In my mind's eye I still see a clothes line near the large cedar tree and the lilac bush. Old fashioned metal lawn chairs rested beneath the elm tree near the garage where I often found my grandparents snapping beans. Walking upon working elders required one to join in and lighten the work load. I see the sunlight streaming through the kitchen window next to the refrigerator covered from top to bottom with family photos.

Grandma's daily calendar full of ordinary tasks are jewels strung together with my closet cleaning days; memories of lessons learned from the women in my life over the years fills my heart to the brim with gratitude for the wonderful folks I call family. Though my chores differ in many ways, spending a few minutes plopped down in the middle of her day's work calms me and... requires less energy than cleaning closets.

I would love to hear how you bring calm back into your life. What memories of ordinary days do you enjoy thumbing through?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Where has the time gone? I've returned home, unpacked, and hosted a chili supper in our back yard for about 20 people. The unpacking did take a couple of days; but I came home with an extra bag. Once I put everything away I forgot what it was I bought requiring the extra bag. Isn't that how we sometimes deal with our hurts, pushing them back into a dark corner of our mind so we can forget about them. It is tougher unpacking unresolved things than extra stuff picked up while out of town. Of course some of us have been hiding away from our pain for so long we have several bags full to unpack. One at a time will do. I promised to share reasons for unpacking and here it goes.

Note: If you are one of those rare and blessed people who had a fairly pain-free childhood and an adult life free from deep hurts then read the following so you may develop a greater understanding for those who did not.

  • Without an awareness of how your past has affected you it will most likely sneak up on you in similar situations or control your responses without your awareness. There are occasions when something will trigger my need to stay out of the way, to become small. My husband will point it out by saying, “You are acting small. I don't want you to be small in my life.” I know what it was about my growing up that makes me feel this way, and I am then able to remind myself this particular behavior is no longer necessary.
  • Unresolved or unprocessed wounds from the past are like an infection; they poison the way we think about ourselves, others, and God. Unprocessed pain can leave us holding onto heavy lies drowning any hope of rising above the torturous cycle we circle through day in and day out, making the same poor mistakes over and over.
  • Unpacking the past gives us freedom to be who we were meant to be and shines the light of understanding that offers us freedom from taking responsibility for the behavior of those who caused pain in our lives.
  • Addressing the issues that hurt and confused us within significant relationships helps us to begin to let go of behaviors and beliefs that are hurtful to us and to others in our lives. It is a little scary at first because we do not know what else there is to hold onto. I can assure you it is better than you can imagine.
  • When we ignore our pain we often resort to numbing our feelings. We numb ourselves with food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, intense relationships, video games, internet activities, exercising, hobbies or adrenaline-producing thrills. Some of the things we use to numb are good things misused, others are unhealthy or illegal. And the big surprise when numbing is the method: suppressing pain also means suppressing joy, hope, etc.
  • Unpacking the past frees us to forgive others and ourselves. I am in no way a follower of Buddha but some of his words were quite reasonable. For example: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

This is weighty, and if you were going on a plane you might find yourself paying extra for excess baggage. As mentioned previously, unpacking may require professional counseling. I think it is important to remember we can be free from allowing our wounds to identify us. Each of you is a unique and special person with a special purpose; the wounds of the past have affected you, but you do not have to let them define you. I am writing about things that happened to you, not because of you.

If you are a follower of Christ then you have the power of His Spirit within to set you free. This does not mean we are exempt from the work; the work of tearing down the lies and replacing them with the truth of His Word. God made us to heal; healing requires acknowledging the pain we carry.

I'm wondering what pictures pop up in your mind as I write about unpacking hurts. Is there any situation that has you chained to the past? Or a person who has power over your emotions because of an unhealed wound? Those of you who have gained freedom from deep hurt, what worked for you?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I have nearly finished packing; I leave early tomorrow morning to go spend some time with my mom and step-dad. I love packing! It is the list-making and mulling over the choice items of my home life I feel I must take to set up a temporary home somewhere else. I get excited about this; I cannot say the same about unpacking. Unpacking is messy; it means I have to make decisions about where to put the new things I acquired while out of town. Unpacking means piles and places for piles: dirty clothes, clean clothes, garage, bathroom, etc. Packing means getting everything I think I can't live without into one suitcase and one cute tote to carry on the plane. Everything is contained.

Some of us like life to be this way, all pushed down snug in one small, zipped-tight container. It makes me think of what happens to the wounds of childhood; or the betrayal in a relationship; being demoted – unresolved pain zipped tight. Maybe you are beginning to see why I do not like unpacking; a lot of yuck can ooze out while peeking into the contained life. Better to unpack than build up and blow up. Unpacking is necessary and healthy when done at the right time and with the right person.

I've given a good number of hours of a good number of days of my life to unpacking the past. I am not suggesting a person needs to sift through every miniscule detail of every hurt, but if you have been wounded in the tussle of relationships, then you may find you have some unpacking to do. Looking back may give you a crick in the neck, but it will be worth it. Warning: Some unpacking is best done in with a professional counselor.

I must wrap up my packing and get to bed, 4:30 AM will come quickly. When I return home and begin unloading the stuff of my trip, let's talk more about why it is important to unpack. Just as completing a trip requires unpacking and putting things into their proper places, God is able to make us whole when we allow Him to unpack the past and put it in proper perspective.

See you next week . . .

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It was a magnificent pine with large branches spreading out and shading nearly our whole back yard. The lofty pine stood high above our home and could be identified from several blocks away. I never saw a bird's nest among the massive boughs but quite a variety of birds took temporary shelter among the needled branches. Even hawks came to perch in the expanse of our tree to look down upon a potential feast of sparrows, finches, pigeons and morning doves.

A year ago this month that glorious pine tree was toppled and given by drips and drabs as firewood to friends; an invasion of the California Fivespined Ips beetle (sounds creepy) had drained the life from our noble tree. Everyone visiting for the first time since its destruction are so surprised by its absence. Our yard went into shock; the loss of an expansive covering of shade left all the plants in the backyard gasping for dear life. We feel a bit unprotected as well when the sun beats down hot as we work about the yard. I miss looking up into its massive, cool, dark branches and imaging myself up in the mountains.

What dramatic changes come about when a large tree is removed! Our yard continues to adapt. Some plants had to be moved while others slowly made the adjustment, perking up and blooming as if nothing had changed. But there has been a great change and the increased intensity of light and heat bears witness to the change.

Those who know me well are quite aware of my passion for trees due to the numerous pictures of trees they must sift through in order to view my vacation photos. As I grieve that old, but impressive, pine tree I am reminded of what it is like when we move out from under the shadow of the Lord Almighty. In Psalm 91:1 it says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” When I move out from under the shelter provided by the Creator of the universe, I am vulnerable to the pressures of this world, I become unprotected and weary. It is in His shelter I find rest from the hot breath of the world seeking to consume me. It is in His shelter I find the comfort and safety; here I am strengthened to go on.

I grew up in a hundred wooded acre (unlike Pooh's one hundred acre wood). There were 100 trees on the acre sheltering the little house my uncles built for our family. Trees were my friends. My grandparents lived next door and between our properties there was a wooded lot where the sheep grazed. I mourned any tree that had to be removed and begged my grandparents to please not cut down any trees. Well into my adult years when I'd return for a visit I could tell which trees were missing; I had memorized each and everyone.

There was a large cedar with a door-like gap through the branches on one side just tall enough for me to stoop and pass through. As a child I would often hide there, not to be found, but to escape reality and live in my imaginary world. I remember well its cool, shadowy interior protecting me from the sun and offering the life-giving kind of comfort of green things. Trees are like that; they seem so strong and reliable. But I have since learned trees are vulnerable too. The shelter of the Most High is the only shelter I can count on, and for that I am grateful.

Yes I can go on and on about trees, but among the trees I feel closer to God. Two stanzas of Joyce Kilmer's poem, Trees, sums this up quite nicely.

I think I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree. . . .
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This has been a year for cutting up days and attempting to hammer them into some sort of framework for the priorities wrestled and pinned down for now. I am learning to accept that having a framework is enough because things are going to change. In the effort to get time to cooperate I have had to piece together a plan, rip it apart and piece it together again. I know with certainty it will have to be altered again, but I have learned a few things during these frustrating attempts to find a practical rhythm for the people I love and the work I do.

1. Our use of time is meant to be shaped by the priorities we set. It was encouraging when I heard a well known female Bible teacher say we are doing something wrong when we don't have time to be in the Word. She also said getting enough sleep and eating well are essential. I just rode that train all the way into the station.

2. It is absolutely right and good that I have time for basics and do them reasonably well: cooking, grocery shopping, menu planning, cleaning the house, getting together as a family, devotions, exercise, etc. I do accept the fact that an emergency will change this for a period of time, but we are not usually stuck in a lifetime emergency; though many live and drive like everything is urgent.

3. Setting boundaries around determined priorities means I will often have to say “no” to some really good things. In her book, The Soul Tells A Story, Vinita Hampton Wright pens, “. . . there are times when, for the sake of loving others well, your creativity will have to wait.” There are also times when I must use my creativity to serve a specific need and I may not meet my own deadline for the other creative work I have been given to do. Christine Valters Paintner, author of the Artist's Rule, writes “Every time we say 'yes' to something in our lives, we are also saying (often unconsciously) 'no' to something else. In other words, each time we commit energy to projects or people, we take energy away from something else. When we bring conscious awareness to this truth, we can commit with more intention.”

4. How I am hard-wired determines how much I can cram into my life. For instance I am a highly sensitive introvert. (To find out if you are a highly sensitive person check out http://www.hsperson.com/). I am a counselor and writer; my work requires a lot of creative energy, so I get tired even when the work day is short. I tend to need more alone time than many people, and I need quiet time to think and putter around our home. It has not always been easy to accept these things about myself in a world driven by high octane doers, but this is who I am.

Determining priorities and building a schedule based on understanding of how God made me helps me make better decisions about the things I need to make room for in my life or the things I need to let go. Just last week I faced this challenge when I had to choose between writing for the new blog or doing a creative act of service for a young father battling cancer. I chose the creative act of service, knowing it was the right thing to do. There were moments when I felt bad about not getting the blog written, but remembering the words of writers Vinita Hampton Wright and Christine Valters Paintner helped me fight off unjustified guilt. It was the “yes” thing to do and it gave me joy to participate in a creative project meant to encourage and comfort a man and his family.

There are people who manage to keep a pretty tight schedule, but mine tends to get bent out of shape a bit and then I have to take some time to reign it in. Each of us has our own limits for various reasons. I hope you will learn about and accept how you are wired and then build in pauses as needed. We were made for pauses. A pause can be a day of rest or it can be a break between projects. I do not believe putting in more hours makes one more valuable, just less connected to the heart. So if you are feeling a bit harried, get on your knees, make a blueprint and hammer your priorities into a viable schedule. And pause.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It had been twenty years or more since we had seen one another; we've known each other since ages 13 and 16. She sent a text message saying she was in the area and asked if I had time to get together. My thoughts frantically ran over the years wondering where would we begin to catch up as I made the twenty minute drive. Walking the busy street, phones to our ears, attempting to locate one another, we wave. We embrace there standing on the sidewalk outside of her hotel. After gushing over how long it had been and delighting in how well each of us wore our ages, we walked around the corner to dine at a Mexican restaurant. We quickly ducked down into the gaping hole of the past, spending a couple of hours steeped in the details and drama of each others' lives. The server brought the bill and slowly we drifted back into the present moment. Ah! It was as if something had been missing and was now found. Nothing compares to the heart's recognition of a truly good, old friendship; it is a friendship where both hold one another in high regard no matter how many years have stuffed themselves between visits.

Do you recall singing an old Scout song, by Sue Lynch, that begins like this: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold”? I find myself singing this song as I am reminded how significant old friendships can ease the passage into new ones. Four years ago in October I left a mid-western town I called home for fourteen years. Not only had I lived there many years, but I had lived in the same area previously from 1979 to 1985. I have lots of friends there, some I have known since college. I have worked hard to stay in touch with as many of them as possible, but still I feel the connections grow weak while memories and longings stay strong.

New friendships form when we open up and share burdens and stories, as well as make time to create and play together. These friendships enrich the experience of living in a new place. But nothing has surprised me more than how often I am getting to see old friends, friends I have not seen in years. It feels as if I came to southern California, not only to marry my dear husband, but to create a collage of new memories with old friends in a new chapter of life. The joy of renewing acquaintances and catching up has been rich beyond anything I could have imagined. New friends are being made, but the pockets of time given to fellowship are lined with gold.

A friend in her grandmother years still meets with her best friends from school days at the beach every year. Some of you may keep in touch with your best friend from childhood. Technology has made it easier to keep in touch even without flying somewhere. I would love to hear your stories of getting reacquainted with an old friend. How do you and your friends stay connected in the busy days of raising kids, going back to college, working, or helping with grandchildren?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Though we find ourselves still steeped in the heat of summer, school days roll up in bright yellow buses and plaid backpacks with thoughts of autumn pinned to them. A longing seeps quietly into my being compelling me to add spiral notebooks, folders, and crayons to a shopping list. The very smell of crayons confirms the incredible power the sense of smell has for transporting us to another time. I am reminded of days spent coloring with my brother, home together recovering from the chicken pox or housebound by a snowstorm, and of course the first day of school. I loved going to school. My early years in school included Dick and Jane readers, phonics, workbooks, and cursive writing. The sing-song voices of girls echo in my mind repeating silly jump rope rhymes.

I can still remember the names of most of my teachers, some with more fondness than others. Teachers are often undervalued for the hard work they do in helping children prepare for the pressures of the grownup world. I admire the teachers I know and I am particularly proud to call some of them family. These are people with hearts for children growing up in a world more complex than I could have imagined. My world seemed quite small before 24 hour news broadcasts and high speed internet.

Caring teachers, in a world where we spend more time looking at screens than into the faces of the people around us, can be a positive influence as well as helping students feel less alone. There was one teacher too close to my own age for me to have been her student, never the less she impacted my life; she was my cousin. Two years ago in the spring, just before she turned 51, Barbie died. This vibrant, healthy woman with a heart big enough to pray for everyone who crossed her path was suddenly gone. It was unbelievable. A few days after hearing the news I stood looking into a casket at a body resembling Barbie void her joyous, loving personality. It seemed so unreal.

The following day I stood by family as we were led down the long isle of a sanctuary filled to capacity and overflowing, many had been students of hers: teenagers, young adults, and older. Over 1000 people attended the funeral of a high school teacher because she listened to them, cared about the details of their lives and gave up sleep to pray for them. Her children, her husband and a co-worker all testified to the great love and enthusiasm this one woman shared with those around her. Barbie was a gifted teacher, but her greatest gift was the love she had for the people she taught. I believe when all is said and done it does not matter if we were the best or most talented; it matters most what we do with the moments given to us and the people we share them with. Barbie lived in the moments and people knew they were loved.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It was “Hammock Day” according to someone, so my husband set the hammock up under the tangerine tree for me. I celebrated by lying under the shady branches with a book to read and a breeze to keep me from wilting. A few feet above my head a hummingbird sat on a branch guarding his feeder and squeaking loudly. The sparrows, who often find shelter in the branches of the tangerine tree, lined up on the neighbors shrub rising above the wall separating our properties. I wondered if they were perplexed by my presence and hoping to outlast me, but they moved on before I could gather my writing utensils.

The breeze was balmy and the shadows of the leaves danced across my skin. I looked up through the branches into the sky and I was transported to my childhood. As a young girl, I would spend hours lying in the grass looking up through oak and walnut trees, sending my hopes and prayers out beyond the blue sky. I often read in or under a tree where I felt safe.

It occurred to me I had not been in the hammock for at least a year. I am not opposed to making time to relax, but just as I let go of the breath I'd been holding in, guilt began to nip at my joy. I tried to shoo it away like swatting at a persistent fly landing on my leg, but it hung around the fringes of my mind waiting on its next opportunity to rob me of rest.

The hour spent in the hammock left me relaxed and renewed. It was pleasant. Often unscheduled leisure produces guilt. You too? Why do we women struggle so to make a place in the week's schedule for renewal? Why do we think we need to pour ourselves out without taking time to refill our emptiness? My common sense says everyone benefits when I retreat and return full; others get a better version of me. But the false guilt in me says it is best to choose the way of the martyr. Oh but I believe true martyrdom must be nobler than my grandiose idea of running on fumes.

What are you doing for rest and renewal?

Here I sit thinking of you and wondering how we might encourage one another. My motive for blogging is wrapped up in a love for writing and a desire to scatter about metaphors bursting with joy, hope, light, truth, beauty and encouragement. Most of us are aware these sweet elixirs are extracted from the rugged, thorny paths we trudge. I hope to find, in the writing, a sifter for separating the dust clinging to the moments of our well worn days from the gold glitter to be treasured. May you find in my attempts to weave together the common denominators of our stories that you are not alone. May you be inspired to look for God's love and His wonderful beauty where you least expect it.