Flourish, Goals

October Goals

Friends!

How is it already October? September is a month of abundance for me and every year I look forward to it with equal parts dread and anticipation. It’s a season of abundance in the gardens, long and good days of hard work, back to school rhythms, and just the adventures of life. It’s also one of the “last” months of Summer here in the Midwest, so I always try to soak up every single second of the gorgeous weather and store it up in my heart for the months to come.

This year, in midst of transition and turmoil in our world, there was something so comforting & renewing in the change of the season and a fresh start of Fall. The beauty of changing leaves have reminded daily that there is beauty in each season, we need eyes to see and time to savor. And that my friends, is exactly what my Fall Goals are all about, creating space in my life to enjoy the abundance and fruit of this season.

So today, I’m sharing my recap on how my good goals are growing and then below my October 2020 Goals. I do my goal planning using Cultivate What Matters Powersheets. I’ve used Powersheets for over seven years and they have been a powerful way for me to prioritize what matters in my life. Cultivate is launching their new collection this month, and I’m so excited to share that a portion of all proceeds benefit Zachariah’s Acres and our mission to connect kids with special needs to the miracles of nature, so they know their Creator.

If you are in need of the hope of a fresh start this Fall, head over to the Cultivate Shop and snag some goodies…the new collections launches October 14th, 2020!

Fall 2020 Goals – Update October 2nd, 2020

  1. Refresh my weekly rhythms (home & work) and complete “Weekly Routines Guide”
Re-Reading “The Best Yes” and working through Lysa’s best decision guide has given me some much needed clarity this month.
Friday mornings are for goal check-ins and making time for priorities. I’m excited for the “slower” season of Late Fall/Winter and time to dream and scheme up new plans!

2. Prioritize mental & physical health with 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week (hike, bike, yoga, swim) .

September is PRIME hiking weather in Wisconsin, I savored every second outside this month!
This reluctant Farm Girl got a LOT of daily movement cleaning up the garden and harvesting our abundance of produce this Fall! Also…worlds cutest pumpkin alert 😉

3. Prepare my home, gardens, & heart for Fall.

Savoring quiet moments with thoughtful reflections in this month’s Eden & Vine.
My porch with touches of Fall…I think I need to add some quirky pumpkins this weekend!

4. Restore a sense of wonder & adventure with local adventures and social distance deck dates.

Saying yes to kayak adventures with friends was such a JOY this month!
Deck dates come in all forms…sometimes it’s soaking up the quiet and painting leaves by the river!

October 2020 Goals

Monthly Action Items

  1. Make elderberry syrup.
  2. Create a “Koselig Cupboard”.
  3. Personal Prayer Retreat (October 23rd, 2020)
  4. Clean up my home gardens, yard, and porch

Weekly Action Items

  1. Fall hike and savor God’s Creation.
  2. Family meal.
  3. Yoga or swim at the YMCA.
  4. 1/2 day to “refresh” my home.

Daily Habits

Surrender

Savor

Simplify

Flourish

Nourish – Grow – Bloom

It has been such a joy sharing my heart here on my site and in real life. I’m continually encouraged to see how God uses my words to draw others closer to Him. One thing I’m continually asked about is the tag-line “Nourish. Grow. Bloom”.

You don’t have to know me long to see that I process life through lessons and seasons in my garden. The garden and God’s creation is a rich resource for inspiration, creativity, and beautiful lessons on what it looks like to live a flourishing life. One lesson I continually come back to is the cycle of planting seeds in my garden. It’s a rich metaphor for growing anything in our hearts or lives. And it’s my heart for each person reading that they would be nourished deeply, encouraged to grow, and bloom in their season.

Nourish:

When we plant a tiny seed or new seedling (basically just a tiny plant!) we need to take time and care with it. Tiny seedlings need good soil, water, sunlight, and a nourishing environment to grow. When I’m transitioning plants outside from their cozy greenhouse in March, I don’t stick the put them overnight right away. They would be shocked by the 45 degree weather and their growth would be stunted.

And just like those seeds, our hearts need time, space, and good things to grow. Self-care can be a tricky subject in our culture, we either feel guilty taking time for ourselves or spend to much time thinking about ourselves, that we miss the amazing world and mission right in front of us. I’m on a continual path of learning the right rhythm of soul-care/self-care, but one thing I’ve learned is that it is essential.

When we make time to care for ourselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually we fill up our buckets (or watering can…sorry, not sorry!). Self-care isn’t a “fix all” or “magic pill”. Instead, when we practice self-care, we create space to do the hard work.

Each time you go for a run, spend time in prayer, meet with a counselor, or do whatever fills you up, you are adding a drop (or sometimes a cup full) of nourishment to your heart. When hard days come, you are able to pour out that nourishment on the people around you.

Grow

Can you picture those tiny seedlings again? Good. Picture them nice and cozy in their little greenhouse, all warm, and snug in their little seed packs. After them we put them in our greenhouse they grow and grow and grow, sometimes it seems magically overnight. Eventually, their roots get all bound up and we need to transplant them into a bigger pot and then eventually outside so they can continue to grow. The seedlings need fresh air, sunshine (not artificial UV light), and a good breeze to help them grow strong and healthy roots.

If we stay cozy and in the “perfectly controlled” environment 24/7, just like those little plants, we will become stunted. To be honest, my heart is bent towards comfort and security. Yet, I’ve seen time and time again that good things grow out of discomfort. Good things grow when I step into the unknown with faith and grace. Brave leaps of obedience, challenging conversations, small acts of faith, and moments of vulnerability are what allow us to grow and step into the place God has for us.

Bloom

Friends, here is the most beautiful and hopeful part of it all. If we do the hard work of caring for our hearts & bodies. If we make space to grow and step into the unknown. It’s only a matter of time until beauty blooms around us.

But there is something I don’t want you to forget. We all bloom at different times and in different seasons. Daffodils and dahlias don’t bloom at the same time, but that doesn’t make one more beautiful than the other. In a culture that celebrates outward success and beauty, we can get caught up in comparing other’s highlight reel with our inward journey. Friend, give yourself space and grace to bloom in your own time.

The most beautiful things take time to bloom. One of my favorite flowers are dahlias. We transplant the tubers in our greenhouse in February, care for them diligently, and plant them outside at the end of May. Then it’s usually another solid month before the blooms show up. But, oh are they worth it. Stunning petals, vibrant colors, and gorgeous texture. My dream is to become the old and gray “Dahlia Lady”, sharing my love for these beautiful blooms with the world around me…I love them that much. Yet, they only last for a season. Once the first frost hits the garden, those dahlia’s are the first to show signs of damage. We dig them up, divide the tubers, and store them throughout the winter. And they sit patiently waiting for their time to bloom again.

And that is my heart for you friend, wherever you find yourself today, there is hope that your time to bloom will come, and your life will bring beauty to the world around you.

Flourish

A Lesson in Pruning…

I spend a good amount of time and thought into planning my garden. I try and use the recommended spacing and carefully plot out what is going to grow and how many plants will fit into the space.  But then when planting time arrives, I start to doubt the space. The seedlings look so tiny, surely I can squeeze in just “one more” tomato plant or squeeze in another dahlia tuber. And then as things start to grow it becomes obvious that I’ve, once again, over planted my garden.

I confess, just like my garden, I just want to do it all and fit “one more thing in”.   It’s a motto I’ve lived by for the majority of my life, but one that hasn’t served me well.  Just like in gardening, when we have too much, nothing has room to grow and flourish.  Good things need time and space to flourish.

If we want good things to grow in our lives (and garden) a hardy pruning is necessary. It begins with evaluating what you have, pulling things, and cutting back what is already there; snipping the “sucker” plants from the tomatoes or cutting back the dead leaves on the cosmos.  It’s the pruning that creates health for a plant, removes disease, and gives plants the energy to thrive. Once you prune off those extra leaves, the plant has renewed energy to focus on blooming and thriving.

And just like there are seasons where I need to prune my tomatoes, my schedule and activities need pruning too. I’m continuing to learn that if I try to do it all and fit it all in I’ll end up as nutrient deprived as my sad little tomato plants.

Last Winter I was tired, weary, and worn out. I had been trying to do it all for far to long and my soul couldn’t keep up. So I got out my planner and pruned.  I made a list of all the activities I committed to (monthly, weekly, daily, etc.) and then got ruthless. 

And then COVID hit and the world turned upside. I had a natural opportunity to reset my schedule, evaluate my priorities, and take a breather. Everyone was staying home, and this people pleaser found a bit of relief in not having to turn down obligations or choose between amazing opportunities.

As the months of Safer@Home has continued, we are learning a new way of life. A life that looks like different, but continues to be increasingly busy. Zoom calls, virtual showers, social-distance fundraisers, online conferences, in person opportunities to serve, and small gatherings are all starting to overwhelm my schedule, and if I’m honest my soul too.

A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”

It’s uncomfortable to make space in our schedules, to say no to good opportunities, and to keep margin on our schedule. Our world glorifies busy, even in this current climate.

And friend, I bet with back to school season you are feeling the need to do some pruning in your heart, schedule, and soul too. Below are a few tips that have helped me get all the things out of my head, reset my priorities and focus on what matters most.

Get it out of your head!

One of the most powerful exercises is to set a timer for 10 minutes and just write. Write your to-dos, obligations, commitments, lingering decisions you have to make,… We have so many thoughts swirling around in our heads, and when we don’t make time to process them out they take up much needed space and capacity.

List your non-negotiables.

Don’t you feel better already? Next up, make a list of the non-negotiables in your life. Do you have a 9-5 job? Write that down. Do you have kiddos at home or virtual school to navigate?

Think through your life on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and make a list of the things that are non-negotiables.

This is NOT the place to write down all the other things. Believe it or not, you do NOT have to attend 3 bible studies, volunteer weekly, or be apart of 2 book clubs to have a amazing and fulfilled life (preaching to the choir here!)

Make a list of what fires you up and sparks joy in your days.

This is the best part! Make a list of what sparks joy in your heart. Do you love to bake? Are you a gifted singer? Does visiting with neighbors put a spark in your day? Maybe you love running or gardening or hiking. Write those things down and let’s make a pact to ensure we carve out TIME for the things that fire us up. A flourishing life doesn’t happen on accident. A flourishing life is built one small action at a time. Friend, we have to FIGHT for what fires us up and make room for what truly matters in our lifes.

Own your season and story.

Take a few minutes and get really honest with yourself. How are you doing emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Each of our seasons and stories have different weights on our schedule. A new mom is going to have different challenges (and joys) in her days compared to an empty-nester. Someone who is more extroverted may enjoy being apart of several clubs or volunteer obligations, while our introverted friends need extra space in their days and weeks. Your season is beautiful just as it is. Those dreams and desires you feel called to? God will provide time and space in His perfect timing.

Say no and let go.

Okay friend, so now we put it all together. Compare the list of current obligations with your list of non-negotiables and What Fires You Up. Take a hard look at what opportunities you have in this Season. If they are not something you have the capacity to do well, say no and let it go. Remember, when you say no to something you are actually opening the door for another person to say yes.

When we choose to prune and make room in our schedule and days, it opens up our eyes and hearts to not just notice but savor the life God has given us. And that my friends is worth everything.

Want to dive deeper?

The Next Right Thing Podcast by Emily P. Freeman

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

Essentialism by Gregg McKoewn

Powersheets Goal Planner

Flourish

September – Goals

Happy September!

I can’t believe September is already here. Fall is my absolute favorite season with crisp weather, football, bonfires, crunchy leaves, and cozy scarves!

The fresh hope of a new month and season is here and I’m feeling the push to start fresh, begin anew, and hope that the best is yet to come. There is something about this start to the school year that has me longing for a clean slate.

I’m taking some time this month to look at my rhythms and routines, using my “Weekly Routine” guide from my friend Diana Kerr and Powersheets Goal planner to help me prioritize what matters most in my life.

I don’t know about you, but with all the changes, rescheduling, and uncertainties there are so many days I forget what day (or even year) it is. It’s already an abundant time of year with events at work, soaking up every last drop of Summer weather in the Midwest, garden harvest, and so much more. I feel like my days have gone from a solid 35 mph pace to 90 mph overnight. The life and times of a #reluctantfarmgirl

For me, that is a bit hint I need to pull out my trusty rhythms and give them a refresh. In the sake of accountability and honesty, I’m sharing my refreshed Fall 2020 Goals and September 2020 tending list.

Fall 2020 Goals

  1. Refresh my weekly rhythms (home & work) and complete “Weekly Routines Guide”

2. Prioritize mental & physical health with 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week (hike, bike, yoga, swim) .

3. Prepare my home, gardens, & heart for Fall.

4. Restore a sense of wonder & adventure with local adventures and social distance deck dates.

September 2020:

Monthly Action Items:

  1. Preserve the Harvest: pesto, apple sauce, tomato sauce…

2. Read: One: Unity in a divided World by Diedra Riggs

3. Schedule a Fall Retreat

4. Prayerfully consider how to serve at my local church.

Weekly Action Items:

  1. Regular blog posts & hope*writer day
  2. Family Meal
  3. Local Adventure
  4. Bike Ride

Daily Action Items

Move

Pray

Savor

Flourish

Hope for the Harvest

Towards the end of summer the garden starts to look a little wonky.  The hot and humid days are the perfect breeding ground for disease and pests.  The ground is dry and perpetually needs watering.  My tomatoes turn from not quite ripe to overdone in a blink of an eye.  It’s the time of the year when I start looking at my garden, and have to actively fight the urge to ripe it all out and start again. 

The reality is with our first frost date of early October in Wisconsin, I could really only replant radishes and lettuce.  Don’t get me wrong, I could make one killer salad but I would also miss out on vine ripened tomatoes, roasted eggplant, crunchy sugar snap peas, beautiful bouquets, and so much more.

So, I try and over look the worn parts of the garden and continue the hard & good work. Once again learning from my garden to be diligent in the small things while I wait for the abundance to come.

Just like my garden, my heart and life are feeling a little bit dry and weary in this season.  When COVID-19 first appeared I was in Florida on vacation with my family.  I remember seeing the news and thinking it was blown out of proportion and if anything would blow over in a few weeks.  Here we are more than 6 months later and in a new reality of face masks, social distancing, canceled events, quarantine, virtual school & activities, Zoom calls, and regular COVID testing. 

In the midst of this COVID Pandemic we have been facing heartbreaking social injustice, a turbulent election, and countless unknowns in schools, schedules, and life.  Just one of these things can be challenging, but combined they can often feel overwhelming and make our hearts weary.

Friend, I don’t know what you are going through, what challenges you face or what your views are with all that goes on in the world today.  I’m not here to tell you what to do, but instead to listen, learn, and share a little encouragement and hope.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

Galatians 6:9

This verse in Galatians sits on a tiny stand on my desk.  A reminder in this season (and all year really) to put one foot in front of the other and walk in the calling I have received.  Some days are a whole lot easier than others.  I’ve learned to give myself grace during this time and know that my productivity might look different.  To know that sometimes true purpose & productivity can’t be measured by tasks accomplished or items checked off a to-do list.  

The world around us is changing at an ever increasing speed, but what does not change in this season is my calling.  To LOVE GOD & SERVE OTHERS in every season, in every action, and in every way.  Sometimes it looks like putting aside the to-do list to listen to a teammate and other times it means taking a big leap of faith to start a new project or follow through with a dream.  The size of the calling and good works isn’t what matters here, but our hearts.

So my friends, wherever you find yourself, I want to encourage you to not give up in your good work, whatever it may be. Whether that is navigating virtual school with your kiddos, tacking a new project at work, writing, hosting a bible study, tacking the laundry pile, or resisting ripping out your actual garden. 

Don’t try to do it all today; remember apples don’t grow from seed to fruit overnight my friend.  Instead, choose just one small step of obedience that you can accomplish this week and then share that with a friend (or in the comments below!).  We are not made to live our lives or carry out our callings alone.  Strength comes when we open up our lives and hearts to community around us.  Friend, the bravest thing you can do today is to step forward into where you are called to be.

Nourish and Grow:

  1. What have you been called to do in this season?
  2. Where is your heart and soul weary?
  3. What would your small step of obedience look like today?
  4. Who can share your heart with and be encouraged?

Flourish

Adventure Fuels Creativity

I love a good adventure, don’t you? The anticipation of planning for, discovering, and exploring a new place sparks life into my days and joy in my heart. I believe that adventures, near and far, are not just a luxury but an essential rhythm in a flourishing life. 

Yet, so often wait for picture perfect circumstances to incorporate adventure into lives.  I used to look around me at all the people going on beach vacations, swimming in majestic waterfalls, and traveling to foreign countries and get a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). 

Oh how I would love to be exploring the ffjords of Norway right now or sipping a espress on on the streets of Florence. But, life is just to short to not live fully and embrace a spirit of adventure wherever we are.  In this season I might not be able to jet off to Italy or Sweden at a moments notice, but I can still find the joy of adventure close to home. 

Adventures, near and far, are an essential ingredient to a flourishing life.  They expand our mind, open our eyes, spark our creativity, and bring LIFE back to living.  A life that is flourishing is rooted in living on purpose and joy. A life that flourishes is a poured out life, walking in our callings with clarity and passion.  However, if we continue to pour out we will become weary, dry, and empty. In order to live out a flourishing life, we must find ways to fill up our well so that it overflows in to the lives of others.  For me, adventure is always the spark that fills up my tank and renews my creativity.

Several Summers ago I was in a one of those poured-out, creativity lacking, dry spells.  I had suffered a major injury earlier in the year that left my physical body tired but my soul weary too.  After the physical healing took place, my soul needed some nourishment too.  A good friend was reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and her short description intrigued me.  I ordered it on-line and impatiently anticipated it’s arrival.  One of the foundational parts of the workbook is to take yourself on weekly “Artist Dates”.  What is an artist day you may ask?

An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing creative consciousness, your inner artist…You do not take anyone on this artist date but you.

– Julia Cameron

That Summer, after spending 10 weeks on the couch and with limited mobility, the idea of 2 hours out and about was balm to my spirit.  I began implementing weekly artist dates, usually a Friday late afternoon, I carved out 2 hours by myself, and explored my hometown.  I visited the local antique mall and found the most beautiful enamel pitcher. I drove back country roads and encountered a sunflower field and took a shameless selfie. I made the trek to an Indian spice store to purchase ingredients to create a new dish.  I jumped in the lake and floated on my back looking at the shapes and forms of clouds every chance I could get.

My artist dates were a weekly reminder that I was gifted with this one and precious life and it was up to me to make it one worth living. Three years later, I’ve continued my rhythm of consistent artist dates with one exception.  I don’t always do it alone.  (Yes, my extrovertedness is showing.) Adventures with my people are some of the best kind. Adventures with dear friends or family spark a deeper kind of creativity.  A creativity that is less about doing what feels good and more like living a wild & free life that overflows to everyone you meet.

My favorite local adventure ideas (solo or with friends):

-Stop by your local coffee shop and ask the barista for a recommendation.

-Frequent your farmer’s market and select ingredients for a meal or a indulgent charcuterie board.

-Explore a local junk sale or antique market. Discover the history and beauty of another’s treasure.

-Search for “Little Free Libraries” in your town and walk or bike to the one closest to you.

-Jump in the lake/river/ocean, just float and look at the sky.

-Sit on a patio with live music and sip a delicious cocktail or glass of wine.

-Got to a movie by yourself…with extra popcorn!

-Attend an art exhibit or museum.

– Visit Indian or Asian market/bakery and purchase ingredients for a favorite meal. Share it with your people…or make it just for you!

Flourish

30 Brave and Beautiful Things in my 30’s

Since I was a little girl my heart longed to have a family of my own. To have a life partner with 2.5 adorable children, a home of my own complete a white picket fence, and a full time career. But there I was, about to turn 30 working part time, renting super tiny one bedroom studio, and had little to little dating prospects or hope.

I knew there was good in the season, but I wasn’t quite sure there was joy.

So on the eve of my 30th birthday I sat down, on the deck of my tiny house (that was literally in the backyard of my dear friends..but that is another God story), with a mason jar of cold brew, and got to work envisioning what a brave & beautiful decade would look like.

I scribbled down deep, seemingly impossible dreams like owning my own home, going on a mission trip again, and participating in Making Things Happen again. There were also LOTS of fun adventures like visiting an outdoor theater, homemade gelato, and starting my own garden. It was a marker to choose a life of beauty and bravery. In writing that list a shift began in my heart to cultivate a life I love, even when it looked different than I envisioned.

Here I am today, five years later, and look over my list of 30 Brave and Beautiful Things and see a full and vibrant life. There are still a few items that I can’t wait to check off…Country Living Fair and mission trip adventure are at the top post COVID life 😉 But, as I spent time reflecting on the items I’ve been able to check off my list, I noticed so many other gifts in this season that were unplanned and unexpected.

In my 30’s I also…

-built lasting friendships both near and far. My “forever friends” are such kindred spirits and unexpected gifts.

-embraced my calling at ZA as a servant-leader and reluctant farm girl.

-did (and continue to do) the heart and hard work required in counseling through seasons of transition, anxiety, and everyday life.

-found a local church home that is not perfect, but even better is rooted in the gospel and full of people who love each other and love Jesus.

-invested in my neighborhood and got to know them as friends, beyond just a quick “Hello!”.

-gained a sister and became an auntie to the sweetest little love bug ever.

-adventured all around Wisconsin, the US (NYC, Chicago, New Hampshire, Sanibel Island, Boston, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina,…), and most importantly the UP and our Koselig Cottage.

Memories and joy that I would have overlooked if I just focused on what was missing. My heart still longs for the “white picket fence” ideal (or whatever version that might end up being), but the truth is that this life is good, beautiful, and full of a deeper joy. I’ve learned that gratitude doesn’t but a “happy mask” on our life circumstances, but it does allow you to shift your eyes to the gifts of today. On the eve of 35, I can’t wait to see what the rest of my 30’s will bring. I have a feeling the best is yet to be.

30 Brave & Beautiful Things in my 30’s

  1. Love on littles through an overseas mission trip.

2. Plant a fig tree!

3. Learn the art of hand lettering.

Letting go of perfectly stylized ideal and instead embrace my naturally swoopy style.

4. Get a tattoo 😀

Shortly after my 30th I got a small cross tattoo as a reminder to live with open hands and a surrendered heart.

5.  Be completely debt free!

6.  Host “An Evening to Bloom”

Such a sweet evening of flower crowns, friendship, and delicious food.

7.  Weekend adventure to Nashville with girlfriends!

Nashville weekend road trip with my friend Kristin!

8.  Attend a farm to table dinner.

PS23 Farm to Table Dinner was such a dream.

9.  Write an e-book.

10. Go Blueberry Picking

Imagine my delight discovering wild blueberries at our cottage in Northern Michigan!

11. Finally visit the Country Living Fair!!

12. Plant a garden of my own.

My daddy and I prepping my own raised beds at my house.

13. Take an art class and let go of perfection! (pottery, calligraphy, painting..)

Set Apart Art in Watertown and Online Tutorials for the win!

14.  Speak at women’s conference

Influence Conference “Every Day Woman Panel”

15. Complete the Bravado (run/walk, bike, kayak)

16. Have a little free library.

17. Master sourdough bread.

Making bread is my favorite kind of “baking therapy”.

18. Own my own home.

My Grace-Full Home- December 2016!

19. Complete whole30 challenge.

A kick start on a journey towards health & real food.

20. Gather farm fresh eggs!

Literally my job…;-)

21. Try Stitch Fix for a special occasion outfit!

Adding Haley to the family was cause for celebration…and leggings because WI in May is still cold 😉

22. Visit a fresh lavender farm.

Picking lavender last August on my birthday at Fragrant Isle Lavender in Door County.

23. Host a girls weekend at Koselig Cottage.

So so so many sweet memories here!

24. Outdoor theater or concerts on the square.

P&P Picnic Outside at SummerStage in Delafield…

25. Purchase a really comfy, squishy reading chair.

You’ll find me here most mornings (flash back photo from 2019…with sweet Belle!)

26. Learn to flip a pancake (seriously people, it’s BAD!)

27. Enjoy a Spa Day.

From home spa, bath soaks, unexpected spa gift certificates, and 30 minute massages…this has become a major part of my self care routine!

28. Host a weekend retreat.

A lovely fall retreat for friends at Koselig Cottage

29. Make lemon-basil gelato with my lemons.

30. Attend Making Things Happen Conference for the 2nd time and be encouraged to live on purpose and make what matters happen.

MTH2018 at the Carolina Inn. I just love this place…and these people

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.

Flourish

Flourish Friday – July 31st

Happy Friday!

This week has blown by in a whirl-wind of Summer adventures and hard work. Now is the time of year when the abundance of the garden & preparation for Fall threaten to overwhelm me. When the days are short but the weeks feel long, I can focus on the negative or what could improve instead of looking for the delight in each day. Needless to say, I’ve needed lots of iced tea and pep-talks this week to point me back to the truth that we can do what is placed before us little by little (and with a heaping of His grace). So in that spirit, here are the good things of this week.

Currently Adventuring:

Our Carlson crew adventured to the lavender farm this past weekend was so much fun. It was one of those hot Summer days, so my only regret is that we didn’t stay longer. New Life Lavender is such a peaceful and welcoming place, and I just love the family that owns it. We enjoyed a hay wagon tour, lavender lattes, lavender cherry pie, and a stroll through the blooming lavender & wildflower fields. I came back inspired and in need of a jump in the lake 😉 Adventures always inspire me and New Life is one of my favorite spots to have adventures.

Currently Enjoying:

Sipping homemade iced tea using the loose leaf tea that I got from New Life Lavender Farm. My two favorites are the Lemon Lavender Mint and Strawberry Lavender Red Rooibos tea. Growing up my mom would always have a big jar of tea brewing on the back porch. I’ve continued this Summer tradition by making a few batches of strong sun tea in mason jars to enjoy through the week.

Simple Summer Iced Tea Recipe:

1 quart canning jar

4 tea bags (mint, black, green tea with lemon, etc.)

water

Optional: fresh mint, lavender, herbs or fruit to add a twist.

Combine all ingredients in canning jar and place in a sunny spot for 2-3 hours. Remove tea bags and store in the fridge for 3-4 days….if you can keep it around that long!

Currently Reading:

A friend from book club recommended “American Dirt” to me a few weeks ago. The hold list was well over 200 so I was overjoyed to snag a copy from my lucky day stack at the local library. A powerful story of a mother and sons escape from Mexico and their journey as migrants. This book worm has been staying up way too late simultaneously enthralled, captivated, and heartbroken over this story. Good writing doesn’t just entertain us. Good writing teaches us to see the world through a new lens.

Currently Growing:

My garden is abundant with zinnias, snapdragons, bells of Ireland, and big dahlia blooms. This year I wanted to focus on cut flowers and herbs in my home garden. It’s been less work and more joy, exactly what gardening should be. Well…a little dirt never hurt. I gathered up some of the blooms this week and have been delivering to friends and neighbors. A sweet way to brighten someone’s day and a good excuse to check in with my people.

Create, Flourish

Flourish Fridays

Several years ago I was on a plane heading to Boston I devoured Emily Ley’s book “Grace Not Perfection” . It was one part journal, one part stories, and featured beautiful lettering and images of what a grace-filled life looked like. It was the perfect book for me in that season.

In the first part of the book she spoke about boundaries, time, and creating an ideal week. Followed by a prompt asking what your ideal week would look like. Without a second thought, I began writing “Fridays are days to catch up on the week. No outside meetings. A day to work from home, wrap up projects, prepare for the week ahead, and flourish.”

It seemed like such a simple idea, but I knew that a big shift would have to happen to free up my Fridays.

And so, my Flourish Friday rhythm was born.  Being able to work from home and have a flexible schedule meant that I could implement this as soon as I got back from my trip.  The more challenging part was getting over my routines and 9-5 “box” and image in my head.  I remember the first time I said “no” to a meeting on Friday. I received an important e-mail with a few dates to schedule a meeting. The only date given that worked was a Friday.  I started typing a reply “Friday sounds great….”  And then I stopped. 

Hadn’t I just promised myself that Fridays would be a time to catch up on the week, not begin something new?  I deleted my first response and typed a simple “This week doesn’t work, how about early next week?”  It was incredibly freeing to prioritize my needs and to follow through with a little dream. 

For this recovering people-pleaser, it was a huge victory.  Now, over four years later, I still hold my Fridays as sacred. I’ve had to fight for this margin, working smarter the other days of the week, saying no, and letting go of pleasing people. It’s always worth it. 

Fridays have become one of my favorite days of the week.  A day that usually includes wrapping up my inbox & projects for work, swimming at my local YMCA, buying fresh flowers for my home (or picking a bouquet from my garden), meet up with family or friends for dinner, and cleaning up my office & tidying my home so I can truly rest and have adventures over the weekend. 

There are seasons (like the day before a big fundraising event, special work project, or conference that I have been waiting to attend) when I do have meetings or am onsite at ZA on a Friday.  Life is all about being flexible right?  But Fridays..Fridays are for flourishing.

And so friends, I want to share a bit of my Flourish Friday joy with you all. I’ll pop over here most Fridays with a few things to share that are pointing me towards a flourishing life. The list might include a link to an article that caused me to pause & think, an inspiring photo, current watercolor doodles, favorite worship songs or podcast episodes, a project or recipe I’m working on, books I’m reading, adventures I’m planning, or soul-care ideas for the weekend.

Think of it as your Friday reminder to cultivate a life you love & embrace the season you are in.

Flourish Friday – July 24th, 2020

1. Currently Loving

Summer in Wisconsin. Big straw hats, a cold beverage, jumping in the lake as much as possible, and sunshine days. Need I say more?

2. Currently Listening

Annie F. Downs “EnneaSummer” Podcast. I love learning not only more about how I was wired, but about the differences between each number and how we work together to make this world more beautiful!

This song by Elevation Worship has been on repeat this week…well really the past three months. Call it my Corona-anthym!

3. Currently Creating

All the skillet baked goods from Half Baked Harvest. This week we made her skillet peanut butter cookie and it was beyond amazing! Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream…trust me, your tastebuds will be in heaven.

4. Currently Anticipating

My Carlson Crew trip to the New Life Lavender & Cherry Farm. It’s one of my favorite places; the kindest family who have a eye for beauty and have shifted their life to prioritize family and their faith. Here is a photo from earlier this Summer when I visited for the plant sale. I’ll be sure to share some photos of it in all it’s glorious BLOOM!

5. Currently Reading

A Holy Pursuit: How the Gospel Frees us to Follow and Lay Down our Dreams

A refreshing book about what happens when we lay down our dreams and embrace God’s call on our lives, even when it’s unexpected. This book is FULL of deep truth and theology. I’m pretty sure half the book has been underlined with “AMEN” in the margin.

Gracie’s Garden

Adorable illustrations, garden puns, and a reminder that good things take time. This is such a fun book to snag for the littles in your life. Just make sure you read it to them out in the garden.