Raising and homeschooling three chatty daughters means our home is rarely (read: never) quiet. Opinions and ideas are thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Even with their constant noise all around, my heart began to experience something new and unfamiliar: deep loneliness…Read the full article HERE
(Article originally appeared on Kindredmom.com HERE)
I grew up watching my grandma fuss over her summer annuals. Her daily routine required a walk outside before the Missouri heat settled in to check on the flowerbeds dispersed throughout her country yard. She’d step across the dewy lawn to purge wilting petunia heads while cooing over that day’s latest blooms. The thicket of tiger lilies were my personal favorite; growing wild yet sophisticated to my 8 year old mind.
My grandma and I still chat about those summer strolls through her yard fondly. What stands out to me after nearly three decades aren’t the lessons in horticulture I gained from traipsing through the yard by her side, but the joy she expressed over something so temporary and fragile. She looked at the blooms and saw last month’s seedling and last week’s spouting bud. I looked at them and saw a plant I dared not trample in a rambuncious game of hide-n-seek: fragile. I saw lunch for wild, twitchy nose rabbits (grandma called them pests) I found so adorable: temporary.
Experience has a way of training our eyes to see in new ways. My definition of temporary and fragile hasn’t changed, but how I value experiences allowing me to express an eternal joy over the temporary and fragile reality of life certainly has.
A freshly fallen, perfectly formed snowflake before it melts
Nerves over our teenager learning to drive
Jellyfish navigating around boats and docks in the harbor
Grandpa’s dementia-free stories
Mountaintop view out of the airplane window
Snuggles from an aging cat
Hands up high on the rollercoaster
Laughing with the person I married 18 years ago
This past year we moved our family across the country to the Pacific Northwest where giant evergreens replaced Midwest fields of wheat and cattle. In the middle of a season of change I found joy in an all familiar place, a garden. The NW coastal areas are home to breathtaking public gardens where forests of rhododendrons flourish and cherry blossoms crown aisles of rich clover. Once again, I’m looking around reacquainting myself with joy found in the temporary and fragile. Since joy and gratitude go hand-in-hand, I’m thankful for opportunities to trade grief over what ‘was’ into joy over what ‘is’ and rejoice in the hope for all things eternal.
Psalm 103: 13-17
The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
But the love of the LORD remains forever
with those who fear him.
“The days are long, but the years are short,” I heard a wise parent say, but there’s something about the endless calling of parenthood that both blesses beyond measure and exhausts beyond means. Parents are emotionally and physically invested in this occupation of preparing people to be the next generation of life-givers. In order to give our best, we need to be our best, and that requires something that isn’t given enough credit in our overly-caffeinated, deadline-driven, production-measuring society: rest.
Click HERE for more on establishing a family rest plan.
Snow didn’t fall across Vancouver, it dumped like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Friends had warned us not to expect snow in the lower mainland, so when reality exceeded our expectations we bundled up like all good Midwest natives know how to do, and trekked into the heavy powder. Gripping my matte black umbrella high overhead to shield my exposed camera, I walked the paths of Stanley Park snapping photographs of Vancouver’s winter wonderland.
I turned down the sidewalk leading to seawall just beyond our ground floor townhouse tucked under the 40 story tower. The morning sun yawned under the blanket of fog. I knew my fingers would get cold resting on the camera dials (gloves would’ve been wise) but the ever-changing characters of fog and light are impatient subjects to capture. Each step toward the water drew my eyes further across the rippling waves until visions of sailboats and yachts formed out of the fog; sleeping figures off the shore.
One of my favorite places in all of Kansas City is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. As a preschooler in the ’80s I walked those gray marble halls to my first art class in the museum’s lower level and still, to this day, wonder whether that waxy security guard just might be real. A trip to the museum isn’t complete until I stand face to canvas before my favorite painting, Claude Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines (1873-74). It depicts a city view of wintry Paris…(continue reading HERE)
The crock pot is set to low and your house will smell like roasting potatoes and butternut squash soup in a matter of hours (none of which your kids will eat likely eat, but you don’t even care because Fall and Pinterest trump chicken nuggets tonight). Last year’s pumpkin spice candle glows on the kitchen counter, and you’re cozied up on the couch in your favorite oversized sweatshirt, a steaming mug of tea warming your chilled fingertips and your favorite new book open on your blanket covered lap. Autumn is upon us, friends. Unplan accordingly.
The above description is dreamy, isn’t it? It’s Friday and our forecast here in the PNW is calling for colored leaves and cool air. I hope your (and my) weekending goals are at least punctuated with rest and recharge. To get us all started off here’s a little inspiration from my autumn loving heart to yours…
Crock Pot Goals start right here, friends. Don’t even tell me you don’t like butternut squash because I won’t believe you. It only tells me you lack squash cooking creativity.
This is the book you’ll want with your tea this fall. Have you preordered this book yet? Yes? I can’t wait to hear what you think of Shannan’s courageous story of faith and surrender. No? Go order it quick because it officially releases on Tuesday the 20th, so there’s still time to grab up the freebies offered HERE. You’ll want to have a copy to underline every other sentence and lend out to friends so you can chat about the heart changes God is doing in you because of Shannan’s journey.
Finally, I leave you with my favorite autumn tea. Since we don’t have a Trader Joe’s up here I urge you to enjoy it on my behalf. I can almost smell the spicy brew from here…
Happy Weekending to you all! May your crock pots be bubbly and book pages turning this fall. Let me know if there’s a tea up here in Canada you think I need to try out! I’m always up for new suggestions 🙂
The city library five blocks from our house has a huge neon sign out front lighting up the corner of a bustling intersection in downtown Vancouver. It reads, “The Words Don’t Fit the Picture”. Tonight I’m sitting at a Starbucks counter enjoying my first PSL of the season (decaf) with that very sign in view over my shoulder outside. These days new experiences are coming faster than my words. I daydream of writing projects and goals, but real life is loud here, so professional pursuits simmer at a low heat on the back burner. Homeschooling three kids is a full-time gig (did I mention one of them is taking geometry?? One word: proofs. Feel my pain). Setting up a new life in an unfamiliar city takes extra focus and energy. One day last week we went (tried) to go to the grocery store. Twice. Only to return with zero food (long story short, don’t drive in an urban core and expect parking spots at rush hour and always bring your wallet with you when you grocery shop). Takeout sushi. Again.
I’d love to sit down and write a book about how I’ve seen God at work this past year. How He’s faithful to grow new life through our brokenness, and I how know that to be true more today than ever before. I’d love to compose chapters about how God is more complex, loving, and grace giving than we can ever wrap our minds around, and how Jesus invites us, His broken and bruised children, to shine out of dark places. Finally, I’d love to tell you a word story about home. How our hearts long for a home that isn’t here, and every disappointment is a grace moment to point us away from the temporary and into eternity.
But I have 18 minutes left until I need to pick up my 13 year old from a new youth group gathering. She walked into a crowded room of unknown peers with courageous nerves tonight. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of her than I was tonight watching her introduce herself to strangers as I turned to walk away leaving God to shine right through her broken places too.
I’ll keep writing when I’m graced with time, but for now let me leave you with a few of my favorite views from the beautiful British Columbia…