Faith, Flourish

Grace-Full Self-Care

I’m a classic ENFJ, extrovert, Enneagram 2W3, and personality test geek;-) I think that personality profiles can be amazing tools to help us grow. Sometimes I read the profile, mems, or articles and feel truly seen and understood. Other times I have no idea what they are even talking about. Regardless of what the latest hot personality profile may say, I know that God created me to be encouraging, giving, compassionate, and people focused.

When I’m with people I give 110%. It’s been one of the most beautiful and challenging parts of my personality. I’ve deepened relationships, made life-long friends, and have had such adventures. But, the flip side is that I often find myself retreating because I’m trying to give to others out of an empty well. In short, I need quiet and time to reflect to be the best version of me.

I’ve wrestled with the concept of self-care. The word made me cringe, it seems selfish and to innerfocused. As Christ-followers, isn’t our calling to deny ourselves? Yes, X 1,000. My prayer is to live a poured out life to Christ, showing my love for Him through loving His children.

But when we look at scripture, Jesus modeled a life that was was so rooted in deep connection with the Father that he was able to pour out continually from a full well.

He got up early and stayed up all night to pray (Luke 6:12-13), he invited his disciples into a place of rest & restoration (Mark 6:30-32. ), and frequently snuck away to a place of quiet (Luke 5:16. ).

How do we look at the concept of self-care and incorporating nourishing rhythms through lenses of truth and grace? That is exactly what I hope to uncover over the next few weeks as we dive deeper into the topic of Grace-Filled Self-Care.

Over the next few weeks, I am digging deep into the five areas of self-care.

Spiritual – deepening our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Emotional – cultivating healthy thought patterns that allow us to love others and God well.

Physical – taking care of our physical body so we can live fully.

Intellectual – growing in knowledge, wisdom, and discipline so we can love God with all our heart, soul, and MIND.

Relational – investing in relationships and learning to live healthfully in a community.

Grace-filled self-care is one way to become people who spill out God’s hope, joy, grace, and peace into the world around us.

Grace·filled self·care //  rhythms we engage in on a regular basis to restore and deepen our relationship with our Heavenly Father so that we can use our gifts fully for the Kingdom.

My AHA! Moment about how to practice self-care rooted in grace came when I was reading John 4. In this passage, Jesus is going about his everyday life, and tired from travel he sat down at the local well where he encounters a Samaritan woman. I can just imagine him dusty, tired, completely poured out, and yet fully present in that moment.   When he encountered the Samaritan woman, Jesus was able to provide her exactly what she needed, because he was rooted in the Father.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4

Jesus is the only one that can fill up our empty and dried-up wells. No amount of bubble baths, hot tea, or yoga flows can provide deep, soul-filling restoration and nourishment like He can.

Do you remember what happened right after the Samaritan women tasted the deep, nourishing water Jesus was offering? His grace compelled her to take action and go and tell others. When she encountered someone fully present and replenished, it inspired Kingdom action.

If we are called to go and spread the good news, we need to first become people that are filled with the hope, joy, grace and peace of the GOOD NEWS!

So let’s get rid of the guilt that says we don’t have time for self-care. Let’s kick off the stigma that self-care is for the selfish and embrace grace-filled self-care that fuels us towards Kingdom living.

Until next time friend – rest well in His grace.

Faith

Open Hands and A Surrendered Heart

When I chose abundant for my word of 2020, I imagined grand adventures, bold steps of faith, and audacious goals. But instead, this year has been more about letting go than receiving abundance.

I’ve released and revised plans and expectations.

I’ve surrended dreams and desires…again and again.

I’ve mourned the hate and disunity that is tearing our world apart.

I’ve cried out in frustration asking for answers and affirmation of what I heard Him whisper in the earliest days of 2020.

But God, in his infinite wisdom and grace has shown me that true abundance begins with less. In seasons of pruning and stripping away, God is clearing the ground for new growth.

The literal translation of the word abundance to mean…”a very large quantity of something.” However, a deeper dive reveals another layer of the meaning, one that resonates more deeply in my heart. “plentifulness of the good things of life”.

Just typing that out brings a smile to my face. When I think ponder what a life of plentifulness of the good things of life I see…

a close knit, small community

actually knowing my neighbors

family that loves unconditionally

margin and space to dream and breathe

unhurried time with those I love

enjoyment of God’s creation…in every Season

slow and simple living

Back in March when COVID was just hitting the US, we were recommended to gather in groups of not more than 10 people. I was struck by a quote by Jennie Allen “It’s hard to be seen in a room of 100, but not in a room of 10”. Several months later that quote has stuck with me. Abundance isn’t always more, bigger, better. True abundance begins with a spacious place to be truly seen and known.

Abundance is gathering with your people and saying the things that scare you. Abundance is stepping into the unknown with faith that God will direct your steps. Abundance is having the courage to say no and create space to do that hard work of healing. Abundance is creating space for good things to grow. Abundance means living out your day, week, year and life with open hands and a surrendered heart.

Your spacious place and list of “good things” might look completely different from mine, but I encourage you to take a few minutes today and reflect on where God is leading you today.

What would abundance look like in your current season? How is God working in your heart and live to create space for what matters?

Create, Faith, Singleness

Thriving in Seasons of Change

Fall has unofficially arrived in Wisconsin.  The leaves are changing from various shades of green to brilliant orange and deep reds.  Summer’s warm days spent in the garden and evening cruises on my kayak are hard to let go of.  Yet, Fall holds a different kind of beauty and joy – everything pumpkin spice, football, sweater weather, a slower rhythm, and countless excuses to curl up with a good book and mug of tea.

This season shift has me reflecting on what it looks like to discover joy & find beauty in the current season that I’m in. Can I be really honest for a second friends?   80% of the time I’m joyfully content right where I am.  I love the freedom and flexibility of being single, grateful for darling & quirky old home, and am stretched in a job that is less 9-5 lifestyle and more courageous calling.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to plant and a time to uproot….and HE has made everything beautiful in it’s time

Ecclesiastes 3:22

But then there are the other days.  You know, those days when Social Media shouts the highlight reel leaving me feeling not enough or another online dating experience leaves me frustrated more than hopeful.  It’s on those days that I look around and struggle to find the beauty in my current season.  

And then I read this verse from Ecclesiastes and it’s a gut check.  God’s way and timing is perfect.  And more than that he wants you to not just survive but thrive where you are.

In my journey to discovering joy there have been a few tough lessons that I’ve learned. I share them with you, not as a formula to make life perfect, but as a reminder that discovering joy in your season IS possible.

QUIT THE COMPARISON TRAP

Comparing your current season to someone else’s will only lead to frustration and discontentment.  YOU beloved were born with a unique set of gifts, talents and skills and where you are today is not an accident. You were made to shine God’s light into the world around you. 

When my heart is feeling particularly tender, I tend to stay off of Facebook and limit my Instagram scrolling time.

If that desire to compare still creeps up, I…

STOP.

PRAY.

GIVE THANKS. 

The simple act of listing 3-5 things I’m grateful for right now is enough to bring me back to a perspective of abundance and allowing me to praise God through it all.

Like the familiar hymn reminds us…

This is my story

This is my song

Praising my Savior, all the day long.

For you, quitting the comparison trap might mean staying off Pinterest and reading a book or turning of HGTV and going for a run. The important thing is to discover the trigger of your discontentment and replace it with something that is life-giving.

FIND YOUR PEOPLE

Who do you call when you life get tough?  Who do celebrate good news with? Friends, we were not meant to do life alone.  God formed and created us with each other in mind.

I think we sometimes have this vision of what perfect community looks like.  You know, a perfectly suited, like-minded group of friends who hang out 24/7, are well-dressed, agree on everything and laugh A LOT.

In real life community is messy and imperfect, but oh so worth it.  Community means loving each other in the mess of daily life. Community means committing to each other even when it’s inconvenient.

Just last week I was having a particularly rough day.  Out of the blue I got a Marco Polo message just to talk and say hi.  She asked how she could pray for me and I could just feel the weight of the day lifting off my weary shoulders.

I want to encourage you to go out and find some people (or even one person) that share your season of life.

Don’t loose heart friend, keep stepping out in faith and investing in relationships. They are what make life worth living.

BE HONEST

Be honest with yourself, your people and your God. 

This is NOT easy for this recovering people pleaser and perfectionist.   I’ve learned that embracing your season with joy starts by being honest about those other feelings.  When we take the time to figure out what is at the heart of our struggle, we can then begin replacing it with truth!

When the emotions are running high, I know I need time to process and just let it all out. I set a timer for 10 minutes, get out my journal and just write.  When the timer goes off, I look back over what I wrote and see if what I’m feeling or thinking lines up with scripture.  If not, I find a bible verse that contradicts the lie or negative thought pattern I’ve been having and write it on an index card and stick it someplace where I can see & read daily. 

Sometimes you might need a trusted friend, mentor or counselor to process things with.  Remember friend, we are not meant to do life alone.

This season as a 30-something single woman is full, abundant and so different than I could ever imagine.  I’ve learned that just because everyone else seems to be on the same path, that doesn’t make yours any less valid.  I want to encourage you that wherever you are today, there is beauty waiting to be discovered.

Faith

A Season of Abundance

Have you ever stumbled upon a garden mid-August? Tomatoes reaching towards the sun and vining over trellises, sunflowers waving in the afternoon breeze, cucumbers that weave their way and attach to any object, and bush beans overflowing with the delicious tastes of Summer.   

A Summer garden is the most beautiful picture of overflowing abundance. But, If you aren’t careful, that abundance can quickly turn to overwhelm.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

Colossians 3:23

And as a reluctant farmgirl, my life often mimics the seasons in the garden. On January 1st I have bright eyes, a bold vision for the year to come, and have made time to reset my goals and priorities. Then we hit August, and my life feels full to the brim and the idea of adding one more thing is just to much to handle.

I’m guessing that these hot August days in the middle of Summer can feel overwhelming, repetitive, mundane, and long for you too.

But with patience and time I’ve learned to embrace the chaos and beauty of the abundant season. To put aside my unrealistic expectations and be grateful for this day…weeds and all.

When I view my days through the lense of the gospel, my view shifts. Watering the gardens, work appointments, responding to e-mails, watering the garden…again, doing the dishes, writing, or making dinner. No longer are they just tasks to be completed, but they are opportunities to embrace this life, love God, and love others.

My garden, and in turn my life, may not be as clean and tidy as my January dreams, but the fruit is bountiful and even more beautiful than I could imagine. Life does not need to be Pinterest perfect to be a life worth living.

Friend, your ordinary day can become an extraordinary gift. Stop, breathe, and delight in the beauty of this day.

Faith, Flourish

Still and Savor

Summer in the Midwest is when the world comes alive.  Everyone comes out of hibernation and the calendar is full to the brim with backyard BBQs, road trips, outdoor concerts, and trips to the lake. We fill our schedules to the brim in order to squeeze out every single last drop of Summer.  It’s a season of yes and abundance!

This year Summer has looked incredibly different. With fairs, events, weddings, concerts, and even gatherings being canceled or restricted my schedule has more open spaces and margin than usual.

A few years ago this go-go-go girl would have cringed at the amount of “whitespace” on her calendar. It can be so easy to equate busyness with worth, and a full social schedule with a full life. But the truth is, you can have a full schedule and still have an empty life.

Two years ago when a tumble left me with a shattered leg & prescription for 8 weeks of R&R, I was forced to put down my glorification of busy and embrace an unexpected season of healing & rest. All in the midst of a Wisconsin Summer.

The first few weeks were a flurry of appointments, visits from loved ones, and catching up on my Netflix queue.   Then a few weeks in I began to get restless and discouraged.  I was tired of sitting, asking for rides and couldn’t imagine reading another book (shock of all shocks as I’m an known bookworm!).  I wanted to get out and go to the farmer’s market, kayak on the river, or even just go to the drive in movie theater!  I still had 4 weeks ahead of me and yet I was ready for life to return to “normal” as soon as possible.

And so that day I decided to begin a new habit.  Twice a day I would head out to my back porch, kick back in my lounge chair, and just look at the clouds.  No podcast playing, book to read, or friend to chat with.  Just me, a deck chair, and the Lord. 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Savoring the stillness was hard.  I think of something else I could be doing or distracting thoughts would come to mind.  But slowly, the rush and hurried pace melted away and I began to lose track of time just noticing, dreaming and praying.

My deck dates became soul-anchoring moments in my day.  It was that season I learned that slowing down allows me to see the goodness I usually overlook as I’m hurrying from place to place. 

In this current season of unknown and uncertainty, I find myself out on the deck more often. Finding pockets of time in my day to pause and recenter my thoughts. My sacred space has become a reset for my day and a recentering of my heart.

Something happens when we choose to quiet the noise and let go of distractions. That is why God calls us to rest.

When we choose rest, priorities are shifted, & concerns melt away. Stillness gives us fresh eyes to see the beauty around us.

Friends, in a world that champions busy let’s choose stillness instead.

Nourishment for your Soul: Pause and Ponder

What brings your soul rest?

Is there a place that is sacred to your soul?

Take a few minutes today, visit that space, turn of your phone, still your heart, and savor the gift of rest.

Faith

Embracing This Season

In the Summertime my neighborhood comes alive with blooms.  Sunflowers lined the fences, abundant hydrangea bushes, climbing roses, manicured and professionally landscaped perennial beds, and down the street was the most beautiful veggie bed I ever saw.  Beautiful gardens that are lovingly tended to by my neighbors. 

Then one day my walk around the neighborhood turned from gratitude to envy and comparison. Suddenly my humble patio garden & flower beds seemed insignificant and simple. Instead of appreciating the hard work of others, comparison grabbed hold of my heart. I came back home restless and unsettled instead of inspired and encouraged.

A few weeks after my comparison walk around the neighborhood gardens a dear friend made the comment “Your back yard is such an oasis”.  My reflex was to point out all the things wrong and everything I wanted to improve. But her tone caused me to stop, take notice, and see my patio garden with fresh eyes.

I began to notice the beauty of my humble patio garden. Instead of noticing the absence of a perfect landscaping, I saw fresh basil to add to my pizza, zinnias to clip and share with a friend, and tiny lemons growing in the sunshine.

Just like envying my neighbors garden causes me to miss the beautiful patio garden oasis I have, when I spend to much time on social media viewing other people’s highlight reel, I can forget the beauty in my life.

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16

Psalm 16 is a reminder to delight in the boundary lines that we currently have. Boundaries often get a bad reputation. Healthy boundaries help us focus on the important things in our life, and let go of the rest.

Boundary literally translate “something that indicates bounds or limits” (Dictionary.com)

Boundaries in our relationship help us nourish and grow closer to our friends and families. Boundaries in our time and schedule cultivate space for what matters. Boundaries in our physical property keep us safe and secure. Boundaries in the garden keep out unwanted predators and pests. Boundaries declare ownership and bring clarity to land or property lines. Boundaries can help us make sense and delight in what we have been given.

What does it look like to delight in the land we have been given? For you it might mean embracing the small 300 sq ft apartment and painting that wall or start a window sill herb garden, even if it’s temporary. Or to pause and reflect on where you are, savoring the goodness and beauty of your current season (student, newlywed, working mamma, single gal, empty nester,…) instead of looking ahead to the future.

There is a deep longing in my heart for marriage and mamma-hood, but that is not the season I’m in.  When I compare what I think my life should look like or what I hope it will be I miss out on the unexpected joys of today. Joys like last minute road trips, quiet mornings on the deck with my bible and coffee, girls nights, and solo-adventures.  There are so many unexpected joys in this season of singleness, and I’m choosing to delight in the beauty of it.

Nourishment for your Soul: Pause and Ponder

Pour yourself a tall glass of cold brew or ice tea, sit back, and savor the land you have been given. A single window sill with a pot of herbs, backyard with a glimpse of the lake, or a 50 acre flower farm, take the time to see the beauty and joy in your space.

How can you cultivate joy and beauty in your season?

Faith

Rooted in Grace

One of my favorite places to get away is our family’s cabin in the Northern Penninsula of Michigan.  It’s a Swedish inspired cottage, built by my family, a place of true soul rest, and…it’s in the middle of nowhere. 

When our family first started looking for a weekend home, I imagined somewhere within walking distance or a short drive to a quaint little lake town to walk down and grab a coffee or explore a book store. However, we found that those places tend to also be over crowded with small lots, busy streets and not a lot of peace and quiet. 

Then, several years later we started exploring Northern Michigan. After winding our way down 5 miles of dirt/gravel road we pulled in and saw the river. It was one of those sunny, summer days where the sky is bright blue dotted with fluffy white clouds and I just fell in love with the beauty of the property.  Nestled right alongside the river was a magnificent tree with roots that reached down to the river and leaves that stretched to the sky.  I knew that it would provide shade, beauty, and a comfy spot to curl up with a good book for years to come. 

The tree beside the river was flourishing and able to provide rest and beauty for our family because it was planted near the water, it’s source of life. 

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

Psalm 1 is one of my favorite verses because of the beautiful picture it creates and the reminder of where to seek nourishment. What a beautiful picture of how we are called to live our lives. Planted by streams of living water, rooted in His grace.

When my days are long and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed or weary, I will often look to coffee, compliments, food, or even people to provide the nourishment that only God can.  A woman who flourishes in every season, is rooted in grace. As my pastor says, Grace is God’s supernatural power to work within us to accomplish what we couldn’t do ourselves. It’s his grace, every minute of every day, that provides strength, energy, wisdom, discernment to not just make it until midnight but to thrive in your current season.  

Just like the tree planted by the river, our connection point and source of strength begins with relationship with our Creator. Time in the Word, prayer, worship, silence & solitude, or just being in His Creation. We are created to be connected with the source of life and it is His grace to help us grow and bloom.

Nourishment for your Soul: Pause and Ponder

Where do you need nourishment today (physically, emotionally, spiritually..)?

Take 10 mintues, turn off your phone (or switch it to airplane mode), go outside, and read Psalm 1: 1-3.