Soul Care

I took care of my soul today.

It doesn't always get a lot of attention, leftovers mainly. There are just too many "important" things to tend to day after day. But today I gave it an inch, and it took a mile.

It started with coffee with my favorite girl-woman. 

Em and I were way overdue for some one on one time, so we met at the local coffee shop. But even as I was trying to get out the door, my tasks were calling, nagging, insisting that they really couldn't wait and wouldn't I be happier crossing some things of my to-do list? It's a good thing I'd already committed. Sadly, I know what I'd have done otherwise.

The day was gorgeous and so was Emy. She's seven months pregnant and sporting the traditional glow. Besides that, she is everything and more I ever dreamed a daughter could be. She's also one of the people I most admire. Listening to her talk and share her heart breathed life into mine, life I didn't know I was missing. Like the scent of fall when it first arrives, I'd forgotten how much I love to spend time with my daughter.

A couple hours later, I hugged Em goodbye, started back to my car, stopped, and turned around the other way toward the gorgeous day and the Old Town shops I so enjoy browsing. 

It was a tough turn. My "responsible" self about had a fit, but my soul had tasted refreshment and wasn't ready to push back from the table yet.

Half a dozen shops later, my soul and I were ready to take a leisurely stroll back to the car.

But we didn't rush home. There were two stops to peruse some landscaping pavers I've been thinking about. My soul is pretty excited about the meandering path through the "garden" I've been dreaming about. 

Pavers perused, we headed home and back to work, or so I thought. My soul was planning the second course.

Dirty kitchen, laundry waiting, and to-do list notwithstanding, Soul and I were still hungry. We read some articles, wrote some notes, and more or less just dillied and dallied around the house enjoying the unseasonably cool July breeze through the open windows and taking in home. 

Taking in home. I so easily forget that home is meant to be more than managed and that managing home is a means not an end. The end is enjoyment. I even have it posted right over my pantry as a reminder.

Jeff came home, and after a quick, easy dinner, we spent the evening back in Old Town at the outdoor movie with Sam. Despicable Me 2 was the show, and we laughed and ate ice cream and candy and other stuff I regretted an hour later.

Ice cream makes me a little crazy.

The stuff I regretted.

As we drove home from the movie, my soul sated and content, I resolved to make days like this one less rare, to make caring for my soul a priority, and to remember to give thanks to "the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." ~1 Timothy 6:17

Can you relate? Does your soul often get the leftovers too? How do you take care of your soul? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Linking up with Holley & Jennifer!

Beauty In the Weeds

Driving down our country roads, I'm struck by the way wild, beautiful things grow out of weeds. 

Popping up on the medians and in the gutters. "Surprise! Bet you weren't expecting to find beauty here!"

Yellow mullein, Queen Anne's lace, blue chicory.

They're like a great big "Hah! Take that!" to the messy and try-as-you-might unmanageable landscape of life.

Weeds thumbing their noses at inhospitable growing conditions . . gravel, car exhaust, mowers.

It feels like our family has been "in the weeds" lately. Lots of unexpected, ugly growing up where there seemed to be such nice green grass the day before. It's tempting to panic and pull out the Roundup. 

But I'm learning to wait. And in the waiting, I'm finding some surprises.

I may ponder, plan, and prepare how to control every detail of our life. But seeds and wind and the myriad of human choice can't be dictated. Won't be.

But there is One. 

He is in ultimate control and he ultimately loves me. 

This is my rest. This is my security. This is my strength.

And I harvest the beauty in the weeds.

God's sovereignty is one of the most absolutely reassuring and wonderful teachings of the Bible. Here are 66 Bible verses about it!

I'm linking up with Holley & Jennifer at . . . 

Five Minute Friday: Hands

Five Minute Friday

It's where bloggers write for 5 minutes flat . . no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Click on the button above to read more thoughts on hands.

"Look, Mom! Look how she's holding onto my hand!" Sam exclaims as his 2 month old niece wraps her tiny fingers around one of his.

The way we fawn over little Amelia, you'd think we'd never been around a baby. But there's something brand new despite all the experience we've had. Well maybe not Sam, he's the youngest of our six. But I've birthed and raised six babies. Nevertheless, Amelia's firsts continue to fascinate me as well.

Like the day I saw a glimpse of recognition in her eyes. And when her smiles came in response to ours and not just due to gas. She coos, laughs, and squeals like all my babies did, yet somehow I notice in a way I never did before. 

I guess this is the delight I've always heard of but never understood until now. Grandparenting is devoid of the sleep deprivation, the worry of first time parenting, the sheer exhaustion of third (fourth, fifth and sixth) time parenting, and basically all the overwhelming responsibility. 

I lay my finger in her other hand, and feel her tiny, firm grasp.

It is absolute joy. 

Thanks to Amelia's momma, Hilary, who is as generous with her beautiful photos as she is with her precious little girly. XO (You can see more of Hilary's photography here!)

Tattoo Worthy?

I'm sitting in front of a thousand magazines.

And I can't help but wonder if there are just a few people actually living beautiful, intentional lives while the rest of us are reading about them.

Confession: I'm amongst the lemmings. My magazines are filed by month in an attempt to recycle and really use all the inspiring ideas within. But I can rarely resist the temptation to buy another when a new season comes around.

They are inspiring, but there's a part of me that becomes stymied by their perfection. I look around at my life, house, diet, and waistline in the face of all their ideas and solutions and think, "Where do I even begin?"

Perfection and 1-2-3 step plans have a way of paralyzing or at least severely deincintivizing progress.

I want to be someone who lives well not someone who reads about it.

My way of living well is defined and designed by my unique circumstances, limits, dreams, etc. 
It's my adventure and no magazine, book, television show or any other "how to" manual can substitute or even begin to compare with it, much less give me a no-fail plan to live it!

So here's my summer motto . . . 

Less pining. More living.

We'll see how it goes. If it seems like it's working, I'll stick with it. 
Maybe even turn it into a tattoo or something. 

Just kidding.

I'm linking up with Holley & Jennifer at . . . 

When Watching Cartoons is Worship

My coffee was hot, and the house was still quiet. The sunroom and my books were beckoning for a few minutes of silence in the middle of what has been a slew of really busy days.

Then I heard the shuffling, and Sam came around the corner on his sprained ankle.

He was off his crutches and showing me how he could put weight on his ankle. I congratulated him, hiding my disappointment as hopes for solitude slipped away as quickly as my coffee cooled.

When Sam wakes up, he starts talking. He's the baby of the family and at 11 years old is still used to an audience. It will be interesting to see if the teen years quiet him at all. Part of me hopes they don't.

The evening before he had made a stack of cartoon DVDs and issued strong yet unfruitful petitions trying to talk someone into watching one with him. He lives in a house of busy adults and teens, and cartoons aren't high on anyone else's priority list.

Now as I mentally strategized how to occupy Sam, assuage my mom guilt, and still steal a few minutes of solitude the thought came to me. Watch cartoons.

But I need my quiet time. There's so much going on in our lives right now. Our faith is being stretched to new heights. The Bible verses I copy, the notes I make, and the prayers I pray are my lifeline. They are the food that feed my soul and spirit.


Yes, cartoons. My spirit knew not only Sam needed me, but I needed Sam . . on his turf.

You should've seen his shock when I asked if he wanted to watch cartoons with me. His face said it all, "Who are you and what did you do with my mother?"

But his mouth issued an incredulous and enthusiastic, "Yeah!"

He snuggled close (rarer and rarer as he nears adolescence), as we laughed out loud at the antics of Tom & Jerry.

As I sipped my cold coffee, nothing could have felt or been more right. Peace, joy, even strength . . they were all right there. Sam's need and mine fit perfectly together like two puzzle pieces and brought a surprising wholeness to those moments.

I expected God to meet me in my solitude and study. But He had other plans. 

Too often I assume how, when, and where God will show up. I limit Him to my idea of "holy." But I kinda love it when He blows my expectations and narrow idea of who He is once again.

And He makes my couch holy ground and cartoons with Sam worship.

Has God surprised you by showing up in an unconventional meeting place? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Like . . Love's Worst Enemy

"I want to be liked." 

There. I'd said it. 

It was the morning Winsome would begin. My leadership team, all dear friends, and I were sitting together for devotions, and I was baring my heart. I do that a lot, sometimes maybe too much. But I'm finding the best way to "defang" my monsters is to call them out.

"I want you to like me. I want the women who attend this weekend to like me too. I want them to like Winsome. But I'm seeing how like gets in the way of love."

Early that morning my insecurities and I had wrestled. Think ugly, hair-pulling, unfair, hit-below-the-belt kind of wrestling. 

But I won. With some help. From God.

He spoke these words to my heart, "Like gets in the way of love." 

Then He proceeded to explain, and now I was sharing with my friends.

My ego's insatiable desire to be liked and affirmed . . . 

Keeps me from loving others. 
If I'm worried about whether or not you like me, I'm not thinking at all about how I can best love you.

Muddies my agenda and replaces God's glory with mine. 
What may start off with pure motives (like hosting a retreat to help women discover joy) get's way off track when I start being consumed with the approval of those I'm serving instead of Him who has called me to serve.

Makes my work ten times harder than it really is. 
God has asked me to do some pretty difficult things, but He promises to always equip and supply me with everything I need. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that doesn't include man's approval. When I start focusing on being liked, I've just added a whole new list of requirements and tasks to what He has told me to do. And due to the whims and constant changes of human nature, I'm definitely not guaranteed success.

Blinds me to the love of God and the love of His body. 
This is probably the most important. When I am concerned first with being liked, I forget how much I am loved and always accepted by my Father. I also become dull to the many ways the Body of Christ is loving me. I embrace and believe the worst and anything that threatens me being unequivocally liked, and I find it hard to believe the truth about love.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to hear, rehearse, and believe criticism or perceived disapproval, yet how difficult it can be to accept and believe that you are loved? That's like getting in the way of love.

Oswald Chambers said, "The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best."

Trying to be "good" enough for God is the most futile endeavor a person could ever embark upon. I will never be good enough. Yet when I abandon my own efforts to be good, I am left with the reality of my sin that requires a remedy, and I am rescued by the grace of the Gospel.

In a similar way, like is such a tempting substitute for love. But just like attempts to be good enough, like always falls short. 

Love, on the other hand, is birthed by grace and transcends human effort. It emanates from the giver and the more it looks like God's love, the more power it has to heal and transform lives.

Like is not only love's worst enemy, but it's a sloppy counterfeit.

With like out of the way, I walked into the weekend ready and equipped to love. It was way easier!

Like still likes to get in the way again and trip me up in my efforts to love. But it's getting easier to sweep her aside. Like is fickle, temperamental, and weak.

I'm linking up with Holley, Emily, Jennifer & friends at . . .