Creating space in springtime

I remember when my backyard was just the grass in the back of my house. I was busy figuring out how to create space inside my home, and I didn’t even have a vision for the backyard space yet.

Then I added a deck, and my backyard came to life. I bought a hanging pot or two, filled my deck with people, and so many sweet moments unfolded. I felt deeply grateful for my deck.

I was content for years with life on my deck. A few years ago, my nephew Henry and his dog Oso came to live with me for a season. Oso liked to play with Dutch and my sister’s family dog Bella, and soon my backyard looked like a muddy horse track. I realized it was time to do something to my backyard to repair it from all the fun the dogs had during the rainy wet season they shared in my backyard!

I consulted with Liz from Sumac Landscaping. She has become a dear friend and a trusted resource. Liz has vision and a way of listening and creating. We ventured into creating some space in my backyard. I had no idea how much my soul would connect with this space.

My deck is still a lovely gathering space. But now, my backyard has genuinely become my haven. Liz has created color that pops in Spring, Summer, and Fall. She has shown me how lovely designed spaces can be.

I know many people who have gifts in creating their own spaces. I marvel at that gift and am so grateful for how they make this world a more colorful place. I have learned to acknowledge where my talents lie (and where they do not lie) and surround myself with good people. If you need a hand in creating a lovely space to enjoy, I hope you will find someone like Liz. Not only is my backyard beautiful to look at and share with others, but it is also a peaceful space to unwind and decompress and an inspired space to create and dream in areas where my gifts can be used to make a difference in this world.

I am ever so grateful for the many people who have assisted me in the years it takes to make a house a home. There are many. But when I drive in and out of my driveway and marvel at the color and beauty, I say an extra prayer of thanksgiving for Liz!

Whose cheering you on….

I received a video today of my nephew’s track meet.

I am not sure what I love more…

Seeing Jean-Marc out ahead and taking first place

OR

Hearing his older brother Noah cheer him on!

There is something so inspiring about hearing Noah’s cheering. Noah is uninhibited in his cheering on of his brother. He is undoubtedly all about encouraging Jean-Marc to do his best and be his best!

I wonder who cheers you on, or maybe even more importantly, who do you cheer on? Is there someone who would say, yes, that person is the voice I know that will cheer me on to do my best and be my best!

I hope you are that voice for someone. Be like Noah and be someone uninhibited in your cheering on of others. It may not be with the same volume, and it will have your own touch, but you will bring encouragement, joy, and inspiration to others!

Blessed be His name!

A year of mask wearing

There is a lot of controversy around masks. This post is not about that. I read this today on a friend’s Facebook page, and I found myself nodding. This resonated in my spirit. This isn’t about the mask; this is about the prayer of our hearts as we press on…

Prayer as I put on my mask:
Creator,
as I prepare to go into the world,
help me to see the sacrament
in the wearing of this cloth—
let it be “an outward sign
of an inward grace”—
a tangible and visible way of living
love for my neighbors,
as I love myself.
Christ,
since my lips will be covered,
uncover my heart,
that people would see my smile
in the crinkles around my eyes.
Since my voice may be muffled,
help me to speak clearly,
not only with my words,
but with my actions.
Holy Spirit,
As the elastic touches my ears,
remind me to listen carefully—
and full of care—
to all those I meet.
May this simple piece of cloth be
shield and banner,
and each breath that it holds,
be filled with your love.
In your Name and
in that love,
I pray.
Amen
— Rev. Dr. Richard Bott, Moderator of the United Church of Canada via Thomas Hoeksema Sr.

 

 

To allergy sufferers everywhere…

I have never been someone who has allergies. I know people who do, and my sister and brothers have sneezed their way through spring seasons for much of my life. I was always aware when the sneezing started; allergy season had begun.

Today I sneezed what felt like a total of at least 297 times. Every time I found myself reaching for Kleenex, sneezing 3 to 4 times, and cursing my springtime cold.

Sneezing myths and facts - BBC News

Tonight I have this haunting thought that maybe I have late-onset allergies. (Is there such a thing?) But as I wrap up my day still sneezing, my heart goes out to allergy sufferers everywhere. I am on day 1 of wondering if I have allergies, and many of you have had this for much of your life. The only thing that might make allergies worse in 2021 is figuring out how to not sneeze into your mask. YUCK!

For allergy sufferers who keep smiling, keep working, keep exercising and keep engaging people around them, bless every one of you!

Hoping I wake up tomorrow and find out it is just a spring cold, but if it isn’t, I will remember that people go through every day! I may get myself some Allegra: For your worst allergy symptoms, nothing works faster or stronger than Allegra 24-Hour Adult Non-Drowsy Antihistamine Tablets. Allegra Tablets start working in one hour to give you round-the-clock relief from sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and itchy nose or throat. One pill is all you need for 24-hour relief

You, allergy sufferers, have my admiration and heart!

 

Spread some extra kindness

Why being kind could help you live longer - BBC NewsToday I noticed kindness all around me. There was not any single big act, but it was small things that caught my eye. A child picked a dandelion and gave it to an older lady on a walk. There was a gentleman who held the door for 6 people at the grocery store. There was a car that stopped and waited for a very slow walker at a pedestrian crossing. For some reason, today, I noticed kindness, and my heart was encouraged.

I wonder where we miss opportunities every day to extend kindness? I was inspired today to open my eyes to where I could make a difference for someone else. I was surprised at how many different spaces I identified in my daily routine. I believe we are surrounded by opportunity every day!

Will you join me in opening your eyes a little wider and acting a little more quickly in offering some sweet goodness with a stranger>

Blessed be His name,

If you need some ideas, give this list a quick read-through!

  1. Pay it Backward: buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
  2. Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
  3. Send a positive text message to five different people right now.
  4. Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, etc.
  5. Tell someone they dropped a dollar (even though they didn’t). Then give them a dollar.
  6. Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter.
  7. Say hi to the person next to you on the elevator.
  8. Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats!
  9. Let someone go in front of you in line who only has a few items.
  10. Leave a gas gift card at a gas pump.
  11. Throw a party to celebrate someone just for being who they are, which is awesome.
  12. Have a LinkedIn account? Write a recommendation for a coworker or connection.
  13. Leave quarters at the laundromat.
  14. Encounter someone in customer service who is especially kind? Take an extra five minutes to tell their manager.
  15. Leave unused coupons next to corresponding products in the grocery store.
  16. Leave a note on someone’s car telling them how awesome they parked.
  17. Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
  18. Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant other, or a family member.
  19. Place positive body image notes in jean pockets at a department store.
  20. Smile at five strangers.
  21. Set the alarm on your phone to go off at three different times during the day. In those moments, do something kind for someone else.
  22. Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
  23. Practice self-kindness and spend 30 minutes doing something you love today.
  24. Give away stuff for free on Craig’s List.
  25. Write a gratitude list in the morning and again in the evening.
  26. Know parents who could use a night out? Offer to babysit for free.
  27. Hold up positive signs for traffic or in a park for people exercising outside!
  28. Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
  29. Buy a plant. Put it in a terracotta pot. Write positive words that describe a friend on the pot. Give it to that friend!
  30. Write a positive comment on your favorite blog, website, or a friend’s social media account.
  31. Have a clean-up party at a beach or park.
  32. While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  33. Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford.
  34. When you’re throwing something away on the street, pick up any litter around you and put that in the trash too.
  35. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  36. Put 50 paper hearts in a box. On each cutout, write something special about your partner or a friend. Give them the box and tell them to pull out a heart anytime they need a pick-me-up.
  37. Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk, and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also, say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
  38. Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
  39. Purchase extra dog or cat food and bring it to an animal shelter.
  40. Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
  41. Take flowers or treats to the nurses’ station at your nearest hospital.
  42. Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
  43. Send a ‘Thank you card or note to the officers at your local police or fire station.
  44. Take muffins or cookies to your local librarians.
  45. Run an errand for a busy family member.
  46. Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
  47. Tape coins around a playground for kids to find.
  48. Put your phone away while in the company of others.
  49. Email or write to a former teacher who made a difference in your life.
  50. When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too!

 

Do I need healing?

I come from a culture that is much more about your strengths than your struggles. Although there is a lot of good that can come from that, I also recognize how this mindset has limited our willingness/ability to speak about where we may need some support or healing.

So when I came across this quote today, it caused me to pause and wonder.  How do we surrender to the process if we are not honest about what we are needing?

I have experienced a lot of change in my family in the last 25 years. I am grateful that we can be more willing to name what is not working and share a willingness to explore what change would look like. It is not always simple, and it is not always easy, but I do find that it keeps us moving towards being healthier individuals.

I wonder where your thoughts wander as you consider the quote above. Can you name where you or your community needs healing? Can you begin to consider what it means to surrender to the process? I believe that healing begins when we name the area we struggle. This is not always done in a professional setting. Sometimes it is simply sitting with someone who can listen well and reflect on what you’re saying. Sometimes surrendering to the healing process requires pursuing professional help. I am a firm believer in “trusting your gut”. I believe what you need will become clear to you as you act courageously and remain open to your own healing journey.

I have had well-meaning people tell me what they think I need. I have not found them to be the most helpful or even accurate. I believe God speaks to us in our guts, and if you listen to yours, you will find enough clarity to take the next step. God will use other people, and listening is important, but hearing God will resonate in your own heart, soul, and gut!

Be courageous and be honest. You and your community will be better for it!

Blessed be His name,

 

Should I text or should I call?

I find that often I reach out to text someone. I am starting to think twice when I instinctively move in that direction. I am beginning to ask myself if a phone call would make more sense in this situation. Sometimes, it is still a text. More often than I realize, a call brings about many more good results for myself and hopefully for the person I am speaking with.

I find that texting is quick, convenient, and an acceptable means of communication. But what I have come to realize is choosing to text is different than texting out of default. And perhaps even more important is choosing to call is choosing connection. In today’s busy and crazy world, I want to stand for a relationship every chance I get!

Blessed be His name!

Turn Signl: Our mission is to ensure that everyone gets home unharmed.

Do you ever have those moments when you meet a new friend and the roots feel deep very early on? In 2010 I met O’Neil, Sarah, and Sunshine Hampton. We spent a week together, and I consider them some of the dearest people.

No photo description available.No photo description available.No photo description available.

One thing I have come to appreciate so much about them is their love for other people. They truly want their best and do what they can to bring about that goodness. They are kind, honest, generous, committed, and Godly!

Today, when I read about what their son Jazz is doing, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you. Today, I have been thinking about how Jazz took a deep concern, changed his life, and committed his time, energy, and resources to bring about a solution. We need to focus on people like Jazz more often. We can all be outraged at a problem, but hope comes when we zero in and look at how we can contribute to actual change.

What is Jazz doing, you may be asking yourself! Let me share it with you!

This app is launching in Minnesota to begin, but we can all hope and pray that Turn Signl will make its way to all of our cities. It is intended to bridge the gap that seems to grow as time goes by and has deadly consequences.

Thank you, Jazz, for your vision, passion, and hard work. Your commitment to make this world a safer place for all and get everyone home safely has my support, respect, and gratitude!

Powerful or powerless…

Are you an overthinker?

May be an image of outdoors and text that says 'The heaviest burdens that we carry are the thoughts in our head. ©BRIGHTSIDE XRENDER REDDIT'Do your thoughts set your mood for the day?

Have you ever really acknowledged the power of your mind?

I have had this picture in my collection for quite some time. I’m not too fond of it, and I keep coming back to it. The visual is captivating to me, and likely because it resonates with me during different seasons of my story.

I often find it fascinating that children often think they should do something differently, understand something, or challenge an individual or a family system. Yet, children are young and powerless against many of these things. As adults, we are empowered to bring change, use our voice to address or confront systems, and sometimes the hardest thing is to address change within ourselves. As adults, we have the means, maturity, and choice, and we often act powerless.

What if you know the feeling depicted above. I invite you to take time to name what is true and make a decision to lighten the load. Become aware of the messages that comprise the weighty areas in your thoughts. Listen to the thoughts, bring them out onto paper, and look for themes. Be curious and patient with your process. As you become familiar with the heaviness, invite a trusted soul into your thoughts. Find someone to process with and celebrate with as you let go of some of the weightiness.

Life is heavy sometimes, and sometimes we make life heavy. Be wise and discerning, knowing when you are making your load heavier than it needs to be!

Lord give us courage,

Blessed be His name

 

 

How long O Lord?

What is the cry of your heart these days?

Maybe the cry of your heart sounds something like this.

“how long, O Lord?”

How long will it be before black lives matter?

How long must we speak for the unborn?

How long will illness ravage my body?Cry Of My Heart «

How long will poverty prevail?

“Why O God?”

Why did my friend commit suicide?

Why does depression haunt me?

Why is my loved one mentally ill?

Why don’t my friends include me?

Maybe your questions are different, or maybe your cry uses different words. By putting words to the cries of our hearts, we invite others to share what their heart aches for and longs for as well.

In my experience, God does not always answer the cry of my heart. I do believe He cares about what the words and emotions are buried in these cries. Often I find that living through the unknown of my deepest questions develops empathy for others who struggle with similar questions. My most meaningful connections have come not when I have answers but when I can say I understand because that is also a cry of my heart.

I hope in our broken world, we can stand together in the somber spaces where we honestly engage the cries of our hearts!

Blessed be His name!