Foxglove in the Summertime

“The beautiful parts of life don’t cancel out the hard parts of life.”

– Emily P. Freeman (on the HopeOligie Podcast from June 2015.)

On the heel of the most magical weekend , I received some sad news. In fact, I received in while in transit .

The grief is layered.

And , like so many things in life, it isn’t my story to tell.

Deeply rooted in my personality to get really quiet while processing. This is not in order to be caught or mysterious. But because at my core, I’m still processing.

But I’m still sad .

We contain multitudes.

And sometimes that means being deeply grieved over a loss of something that you didn’t know was yours to begin with.

And sometimes really beautiful moments can come spring forth from the darkness.

But sometimes the moments take longer than you like. And the unfurling is long, slow and painful.

And as much as we would like endless days of sunshine, we can breathe the beautiful of deeply right to the marrow of our bones even as we hold back the tears that so desperately need to fall.

Because as Emily P Freeman said , “The beautiful parts of life don’t cancel out the hard parts.”

Foxglove is a good reminder of these hard truths. Foxglove, beautiful and poisonous. Helpful and harmful.

We contain joy and grief, wonder and misery, hope and fear, pleasure and pain.

And it is still well with our souls.

Psalm 23

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd,(A) I lack nothing.(B)


2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,(C)


3 he refreshes my soul.(D)


He guides me(E) along the right paths(F)
for his name’s sake.(G)


4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a](H)


I will fear no evil,(I)
for you are with me;(J)
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table(K) before me
in the presence of my enemies.


You anoint my head with oil;(L)
my cup(M) overflows.


6 Surely your goodness and love(N) will follow me
all the days of my life,


and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Chasing the Light

I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.

-Trent Parke, The Seventh Wave

Winter Sunsets and Dependable Kindness

I have a very kind husband.

The kind of husband who has forever changed my view of men.

You see, I grew up with men who equated machoism and control for manliness. Men who were selfish, unreliable. Men who valued status and power and wealth. Men who thought using women was acceptable. Men who were unreliable. Men who never had the courage or guys to dig in, do the hard work, stick around.

Enter Zach.

He’s proven that he will do whatever it takes to make our marriage work, and I’m so grateful. He is raising our boys to be godly men, and I couldn’t be more encouraged. He genuinely adores our daughter, and I’m so grateful.

He’s gentle, but he’s a far cry from being a pushover.

My husband is strong, tough, manly.

But he is also tender, thoughtful, kind, and perceptive.

Day in, day out.

Dependably.

I have a photo session coming up that I’m a little nervous about. It’s a larger group than what I normally shoot. There are some unfamiliar elements in regards to time, place, etc.

Before I could say any of this , he had a plan. He took me location scouting, after putting in a 14 hour work day.

He got out of the truck and tromped around in the snow because I needed a subject to practice my lighting on.

That’s the everyday kind of love that really matters to me, to the marrow of my bones.

He’s on my side. He cares about the things I care about. He is kind.

If I try to thank him, he’ll shrug it off. Say it’s no big deal.

But dependable kindness is the biggest of all deals.

Valentines Day will soon be upon us. This is a good time to remind our children that Hollywood romance has nothing on the Daily Dependable kind of love.

Of Winter and Rest

Wayne Muller says: ‘Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight.”

Winter is an invitation to rest.

I have been known to resist the colder temperatures and shorter day light hours. I’ve struggled in the past over long stretches of cold weather.

But I’m older. Hopefully a little wiser. And I know now that winter is an invitation to slow down.

Labors don’t cease because the days are cold and short. But instead of balking , fidgeting against the cold and the dark, I can tie the opportunity to slow down. To end my work day a little earlier. To linger around the table a bit longer.

To light the candles. To embrace the quiet. To appreciate the opportunity given to me.

What does rest look like for you? Reading a good book, curled up next to the fire? A guilt-free nap? Resting is more than merely ceasing our labors. Resting is to recognize the fact that the world is not dependent on us. We don’t have to carry its Weight on our shoulders. We can rest because we can trust. The two concepts are indivisible.

We trust that God is good.

We trust that we have enough time.

We trust that all is working together for Good.

We know that our value is not dependent on how much work we can cram into our days.

And so , we can embrace the invitation to rest.

The Sun as a Reminder

“Praised be you, O God with all your creatures; and especially our brother the sun, who is the day, and the light; fair is he, and shining with a very great splendour: O God, he signifies you to us!”

God isn’t in the sun, and he isn’t the sun, but the sun can remind us of Him.

And on mornings like this, it does.

Psalm 19:1, ESV The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The sun reminds me of an Intelligent Creator.

It reminds me that He is vast , and I am small.

It reminds me that today is a new day, and that I get to live again.

What is the Sun reminding you of today?

Glitz and Glitter and Glamour

We are in the transition from Christmas to the new year.

Everyone is a little off.

Children are off school.

The house is a little off after the festivities .

It’s not quite the new year, but it almost is.

The temptation to swing from the pendulum of excess – excess of food, drink, possessions – to the opposite side of minimal is present.

And so New Years resolutions proliferate our brains like so many Black Friday circulars .

Eat less, move more. More water, less wine. No more sugar. This year I’m going to get organized.

But what if we held off for a day . Or three.

The week between Christmas and the New Year is not the time to make new resolutions. It’s not the time to trot out all your insecurities and plan goals around them.

It’s time to rest . It’s time to reflect. It’s time to spend treasured time with those around you.

The garage, the 20 extra pounds, the endless paperwork..those things will still be there the second and third week of January. And if someday we magically straighten those issues out? New ones will take their place.

We can put off the things that annoy us for a week .

We’ve worked hard to get to this point.

Remember the hustle and bustle of early December?

This week is your reward. Claim it. Enjoy it. Savor it.

Don’t beat it into submission.

Enjoy the Glitz and glitter and glamour. We all know these things don’t last.

That doesn’t mean we have to ignore or push through. Temporary can be fun. Glitter has its place.

Not Quite Done Christmasing

I have learned a handful of lessons this Christmas Season.

The top three that come to mind are:

1) we will continue making good, meaningful memories.

2) When I don’t over decorate, then I’m more peaceful, and not itching to undecorate immediately the day after Christmas.

3 ) We don’t have to stop celebrating Christmas on December 25th. We can continue for as long as we like. In fact, many people celebrate until January 6th- Epiphany. I decided that is what I’m doing this year. ( Even though classes resume the 2nd.)

The first lesson is meaningful to me because I have been feeling excessively nostalgic. My oldest has his license, my second has his permit.

My second youngest is a freshman, my oldest will be a senior in the fall.

There are ongoing conversations about what it means to be a man, and why it’s easier to never try drugs in the first place rather than trying to overcome an addiction.

There are part time jobs and honest conversations about character traits, and plans about what the future might hold.

And while all this is good and wonderful and full of hope… I miss the little days. I miss being their whole world . I miss snuggles on the couch, and whispered secrets.

I miss them and they’re still all right here. This seems excessively ridiculous, and that is precisely why I’m sharing it.

And all this is to say, that in the very midst of being sad and nostalgic, we had a great time together. Looking at lights, playing games, just talking and drinking coffee.

I realized that this might have been the best Christmas yet.

And I also said this last year.

And the year before that.

So, then by my own admission- each and every Christmas is the best ever.

Meaning that just maybe, we are still living the “good old days”, right now.

Maybe even though I feel sad that my kids are growing up, I can acknowledge that we’re still making great memories right now.

This is a necessary and valuable thing to remember.

My second lesson is pretty self evident. By choosing to decorate three main places , I am not “tired of” Christmas decor by December 26th.

My third lesson ties into the first two.

We’ve had some great times of celebrating this Christmas season. We also have had a lot of hosting , volunteering, and projects.

I don’t feel like I’m finished celebrating Christmas, so.. I’m going to keep going.

The tree is staying up. I’ll still be lighting the red candles, and playing calm, contemplative a Christmas carols.

And I have a big Christmas party to host this weekend with family from out of town.

I’m not finished with that trappings of Christmas, because at the end of the day, there is a deeper reason to all of this.

This isn’t where I trot out the tired “He is the Reason for the Season.”

He is. And most of us acknowledge that.

But He is also the motivation for the season.

And this year in particular, He had given me so much.

He has worked miracles in my home, my children, my marriage, my finances, my church …

He worked year-round miracles . Miracles of hope and healing, “far as the curse is found.”

“Repeat the sounding joy”, indeed!

I’m not finished Christmas-ing because I’m not done contemplating all He has done for me.

And I can’t help but want to help others find the peace that He has brought me as well.

On a more practical note, Will I be pulling my hair out when I’m back in the thick of homeschooling and running children places and still have to take down my tree on January 6th? Only time will tell. 😉

Your turn! What have you learned this Christmas season? Funny or serious , sentimental or sacred or none of the above. Feel free to comment below, or if you’re more comfortable with journaling about it, then I would like to encourage you to take a few moments to do so.

Raindrops on Roses and Garlands on Fences…

“Raindrops on Rose” is not a Christmas song. It is a “Sound of Music” song, it is an Optimistic Anthem, it is a Show Tunes Choir Song, but it is not a Christmas song.

And yet, people associate it with Christmas. I’ve seen it among many other Christmas songs on compilation lists, snug between Silver Bells and Santa Claus in Coming to Town.

Is it the “brown paper packages tied up with string” line?

Because , first of all, I don’t Package discriminate. You can send me a brown paper package tied up with string anytime of the year.

And also – it’s 2021. You know who delivers packages tied up with string?

Amazon.

Technically the string is where the opening is so it isn’t exactly tied up, but none the less.

Amazon delivers all the time. Not just Christmas.

So really, the modern twist works in this instance.

You know what else isn’t * actually * a Christmas song?

“Walking in a Winter Wonderland”.

The lyrics mention snowmen and marriage and walking and framing by the fire. Nothing about Christmas.

To me, this shows the magical power of association.