Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Monday, January 14, 2019

Daily Rhythms

Emily took these photos last Friday when we woke up to a rare bit of frost on the leaves! Seeing the furry white edges is a novelty here and really is pretty.

I don't know about you, but one thing that helps make my days successful is to write out a list each evening before bed. First it helps because I get a lot of swirling thoughts out of my head and down on paper which means I can be more at rest at night. Secondly, it provides direction to my day. I may or may not finish everything on my list but the fact that items are written down helps me to remember what I need to be doing and also to use free minutes wisely. If we have five minutes before we need to leave, I look at my list or just pause and think - what can I get done in just a few minutes that will help me later.

This isn't anything fancy - I use a spiral bound journal and a sweet friend gives me one for my birthday each year so those are my list journals! We've recently begun writing out school work divided up by day rather than just relying on memory and it is helping one or two of my students as well!

In the month of January, I'm enjoying adding some organizing to my daily routines and tasks. I've been trying to do a decluttering task each day and also the Peter Walsh organizing challenge of the day. Additionally, I try to incorporate the Fly Lady missions into our daily chores - which means either my children or I or both will be working on these areas throughout the week.

What daily routines are really helping you right now? Are there any you hope to make a change in?

Friday, January 11, 2019


This photo is from our first days' drive home from Colorado. The I-70 Interstate across eastern Colorado was only visible a short distance in front of us. If you look carefully, you can faintly see a few headlights on the other side of the interstate at the far left of the photo.

Farm houses and fields were invisible. We could only see a very small way in front of us. I shared a similar photo on Instagram that morning with the words of Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

This was a hard morning because we left Colorado and my Mom, I woke up not feeling good with the worst sore throat I've had in years and of course there were emotions and exhaustion filling in all the cracks.

Now that we've been home a week, I think this fog somewhat portrays how I'm moving forward. I don't feel in a fog necessarily, but I do feel much more scattered than I am accustomed to. Getting settled in to our home feels comforting and peaceful but outside commitments feel distant and my mind is not doing much focusing on those things.

Grieving looks different for everyone and I want to say that I'm not practiced at grieving, but then I realize that we have been saying goodbye for ten years and I think maybe I am practiced at grieving but don't realize it?

There were a lot of things I could not share publicly during the long illness with my Dad, he would read those things and wonder at the intent/thought/truth behind it because he did not admit {at least out loud} that he was dying. It seems that now, I'm realizing how much of the past ten years I may not have dealt with yet, my Mom and sister and I shared and processed quite honestly through the years but I'm not sure it is done for me - this honest processing.

Over the weekend, I looked up grieving as a Christian and came upon two great articles:
- Grief Finding Hope in the Darkness by Paul David Tripp
- How to Grieve Like a Christian by Tim Challies

This writing is just a part of the process and hopefully the healing as well for me. There are cautions too - I don't know how to answer when people ask me how I am doing? Yet I also don't want to get caught in a place of self-pity. God is good and that has not changed, time will expand my vision again and bring healing. And that seems to naturally bring us back to the words at the beginning: Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

When we drive in fog, we just keep moving ahead - that is our job. Not to pull over and stop and wallow but to ease forward gently. We turn our headlights on, reduce speed and stay alert. There is value in this visual lesson even for grief - His Word is the lamp, slowing down is healthy and being sure of what we hope for is the watchful eye.

Later in the weekend, I read 1 Peter 5:10, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

Yes, Lord - that is what I want: restoration to make me strong, firm and steadfast.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Mini Quiet Retreat

On New Year's Eve day - David's mom and her husband were willing to take our kids out for a few hours. There was plenty of work to do, and I balanced my time alone with productivity and quiet rest.

I tried to do work that needed my brain to be clear because I can clean the bathroom even when my brain is fuzzy! But there are some things that need a little more concentration and so I was grateful for the time to accomplish a few of those things.

Then I sat down with my Bible and my lunch and just enjoyed the calm and quiet. I love natural light and don't like to turn big overhead lights on. I'd rather sit in this grayer light than in a more harsh light.

And in addition to craving quiet and needing to find some of that which brings me to a restorative place, I am also craving beauty and time at home. This enamelware candle holder was a fun and unexpected after-Christmas-clearance find at Target. I already love it and know I'll enjoy using it in the years to come.

Doing little beauty things like this is soul-filling for me. Beauty is a balm. And I notice that quiet + beauty is a good recipe for me to incorporate into my life when I can. Slipping out the front door to quietly snip a few greens took mere moments, laying them in the tin and putting the candles in was equally short. But the enjoyment of the process and then enjoying the result yield greater benefits than the small investment of time might suggest.

Do you ever just take a little beauty walk around your own home? Sometimes the light will come in just right or you will just walk through a room and pause for a moment to truly appreciate the blessing of home and the life it may bring. I hope your home makes you feel that way.

Another small act of beauty which appealed to multiple senses was to put a little pot on the stove to simmer - I looked to see what we had and was pleased to see some cranberries I bought around Thanksgiving with the hope of Christmas and making little canning jars of berries and evergreens and candles, an orange brought home from our time in Colorado, a few sprigs of evergreen left from the above candleholder, cinnamon sticks found languishing in the back of the spice cabinet and even a new bottle of whole cloves that I'd found on markdown somewhere.

It almost takes longer to tell about it than to actually do some of these little things, but again - they are worth it for the joy and life they bring.

Your time of quiet may not include beauty making or may hold other elements which are as necessary to your own heart and soul. Have you studied yourself to see what it is that brings this kind of refreshment to you?

I have noticed this past week that I've been reaching for clothing items that say "comfort" to me. Sometimes I'm willing to wear something cute that may not be the most comfortable and at other times I want the most comfortable thing I can find so that my clothing is not affecting my mood. I'm not even sure how to explain that - but I think it has to do in part with a state of mind. It just struck me this week especially one morning when I changed four or more times until I landed on something that felt comforting.

Curling up with a good book was also a delight. This was such a fun book! And I love the concept of her subtitle: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave. Yes please!

A quiet retreat doesn't have to be anything specific, there is no magic formula. This was probably 3-4 hours and again I balanced marking a few things off my list with taking some time to sit and just be. At the end of the day, David asked how my day was and it was so encouraging to be able to say what a good day I'd had.

What is that kind of day for you? Of course we need and want different things at different seasons, but this was just what I needed!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Slow: Christmas at Home

On New Year's Eve, we were able to celebrate Christmas at home with David's mom and her husband. I enjoyed getting to do some Christmasy things in our own home! Dinner was a super simple soup in the Crock Pot, fruit and a pan of cornbread. For dessert I served store bought cookies! And it was much more restful this way! This was what worked this year.

Here are a few cozy photos of our evening!

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Slowing: Schedule

I came across this post from Well Watered Women on Instagram and have just enjoyed it so much this past week:

"One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow
our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today.
If we really have too much to do, there are some items 
on the agenda which God did not put there.
Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. 
There is always time to do the will of God. 
If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy."
~ Elisabeth Elliot ~

Last week, I said no to two commitments - one short term and one longer term. I also canceled something off our calendar for this week. Sometimes we need to say yes, but sometimes we also need to say no.

Saying no brought relief to my heart and that is something I've struggled with over the years. I like to say yes so that I don't disappoint anyone. But in both of these cases, I honestly think that saying no did not disappoint anyone - I think that those around me understand and there may even be a twinge of understanding and desire to say no to something too.

If slow and quiet are what I know my heart needs, I will have to say no to things to allow space for that. As a wise friend pointed out, there are some things only I can do - only I can be David's wife and be a mom to my children, only I can invest in my relationship with God. But in other areas - there can be things that someone else could do or God will provide for in an another way.

It is also important, I believe, to consider our own personalities, giftings and what lights us up inside. What are the things in life that I want to make sure to have time for? Writing, beauty making, homey things, rest and slow and memory making. If I fill my schedule with things that drain, when am I refilled? We probably all have at least something that drains us in life just because not everything in life is fun or beautiful, but not letting those draining things rule my time and contrasting them with the soul-filling kind of things will be key to not feeling like we are running on empty.

On my podcast with Crystal, I mentioned making a list of your commitments and seeing if there was even one small change you could make that would be a blessing. How could you make that one change a habit or commitment and then build on that to incorporate some margin into your life?

What would it take for you to feel some relief in your schedule? Is there any way you could make a step towards that extra margin and white space this week?

Monday, January 07, 2019

Reflect, Refocus, Reset, Soul Declutter

A new year brings opportunity to do some inner work - looking back at the year completed and looking forward to the blank canvas of the year ahead. What will God do in and through me this year? How will I grow in my understanding and knowledge of Him?

Yesterday afternoon, I pulled on some cozy socks and a nubby sweater and climbed into my warm flannel sheets. Here are some of my favorite resources for taking a little quiet time at the beginning of the new year for reflection and refocus.

Reflect & Refocus Worksheets

Sally Clarkson: Decluttering my Soul

Reset Retreat printable cards from Magnolia Journal

The Best Year reflection sheet for kids and adults

A Blessing for the New Year with Emily Freeman

Do you have any favorite resources or links to add? What are your favorite ways of getting started intentionally in the new year?