Thursday, October 27, 2016

In Which I Sift Through Autumn's Snapshots

autumn on Cape Cod is color unleashed
back roads quiet, houses darkened 
beaches gray & stormy
skies blue & leaves russet
all kinds of surprise glimpses await here

if you crawl into the swampy woods with a clipper in your hands
& bring me armloads of berries on the vine
I'll love you forever

a sabbath afternoon wind blew us sideways on outermost shores
where the ocean wore this startling shade of deepest aqua

the intricate door knob & weathered screen door
beckoned me closer at an old captain's house

 adventurous parasailers prepare to venture up up & away
from these high ocean cliffs

 vines of bittersweet & heaping handfuls of winterberry
fill two watering cans perched outside the kitchen door

 the uppermost floors of this National Seashore building
majestically hold court over windswept dunes

after the stormiest of nights,
 you'll find me walking an abandoned shoreline
 searching for buoys that have lost their moorings

 ocean beaches are eroding away at a startling pace
as each wild storm passes through

these bittersweet vines are my favorite ...
if only we could gather enough to make a welcoming wreath for each door
{hint hint}

The Kindness Project morphed on a bayside beach several months ago
 & remnants still remain despite an onslaught of pelting rain & strong winds

I might have been the first one to scoop up a small cartload of pumpkins
at this well-stocked local farmstand

unforgettable sunsets remain with the viewer long after evening's gone

& on truly special evenings, 
we might head to someplace cozy
 where I won't have to think about what to cook for supper

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Let's chat about your favorite autumn joys, my fine friends ...

: :

sharing autumn's splendor with

Monday, October 24, 2016

5 Easy Stress Busters For When You're Waiting

I think it's fair to say that most of us are not good wait-ers.  

We're oh-so-prone to impatience, tapping jittery fingers on jam-packed shopping carts as we cool our heels in understaffed checkout lines.  We drum on padded steering wheels at red lights that seem unwilling to make that switch to green.  Or restlessly bide our time in some kind of outer office holding tank listening for our name to be called as we perch in uncomfortable seats.

Our blood pressure slowly ratchets up as aggravation creases our faces.  We mumble and grumble to ourselves ... or to whoever happens to be unfortunate enough to be nearby.

When we're right in the middle of any kind of major crossroads, the waiting room can be an uneasy place to dwell as we spend our days with an eye out for phone calls, paperwork, emails ... all those responses, appointments, and decisions that are completely out of our control.

We do like to be in control, don't we.

and it's not a big stretch for 


to morph into 


and then make the easy leap to 


which only leads to the domino effect of




freaking out

If you're biding your time in life's waiting room these days, here's your opportunity to claim a few light-hearted responses as your very own.  Grabbing hold of one or two of these just might keep you from heading down that slippery slope that leads straight to freaking out.

Been there, done that.  You, too?

5 stress-busting responses ...

1.  Breathing Stress leads to shallow breathing which only leads to more stress.  It's a vicious cycle. Click here for the breathing exercise I've long practiced with my clients.  This simple little exercise lends itself to relaxation.  It works.

2.  Smiling ~ Not necessarily big toothy grins like our friend Alfred E. Neuman's here, but just a gentle upturn of the lips that keeps me from taking myself and my circumstances far too seriously.  Doing this reminds me that all will be well.  Muse on the beauty of this with me.

3.  Singing ~ Nothing formal or planned, mind you.  Just a simple launching into songs of thanksgiving or trust at the drop of a hat.  A few lines of an old childhood hymn lifts me straight up to the One who calms the storm.  I can't help but think He smiles as He hears a slightly off-key melody intertwined with my grateful heart.

4.  Walking ~ Once I hit the pavement, I truly enjoy finding that comfortable stride, feeling those muscles stretch, pushing myself to go just a bit further than last time.  It's getting out the door that's the challenge.  But it sure beats the alternatives, which often include mindless grazing in the kitchen and too much time wandering around online.

5.  Journaling ~  To stay sane, we have no choice but to unpack all that swirls and twirls in our heads.  Our family and friends get weary of our endless moaning and groaning, yet the need to process is strong and sure.  I know no better way to offload all that pulls at me than sitting still with God, sharing my heart just as it is, and releasing my very real emotions and concerns to the One who already knows what's going on in the craziness.  Here's a peak at some of my musings.

: : :

What's your waiting room scenario these days?

Got some sane and healthy tips to share?

: :

visiting with


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Sheer Joy of Puttering

I wasn't halfway up the driveway when I realized it was misting out.  Heavily.  The gray skies hung low and looming, a damp chill had descended, and it struck me that a morning walk was truly a miserable idea.  So, ever looking for excuses, I turned right around and headed back inside.

Truth is, I really didn't want to walk vigorously this morning.  I wasn't all that into stretching my muscles or getting the blood flowing briskly through my veins.  The cry of my heart was to simply be still.  To stay indoors.

And feather my nest.

It wasn't long til the sneakers were off and the fluffy slipper socks on.  A mug of tea was brewing, all steaming and flavored with herbs and honey.  I sipped as I picked up the phone and checked in with my mom.

And then I began to putter.

For there were sheets and quilts that needed to be pulled up and smoothed out, pillows fluffed and arranged just so.  Clothes that needed to be hung up the right way.  And clean wash that needed to be tucked away into half empty dresser drawers.

Dishes awaited their trip to the dishwasher and counters needed to be rediscovered under random piles carelessly strewn.  Bathrooms awaited a wipe down and floors desperately needed to be reacquainted with the vacuum.

Books and receipts and mail, the week's accumulated odds and ends, begged to be tended to.  There was dinner to consider, emails to answer, posts to read.  And one to write.

Feathering is this counselor's therapy.

Puttering around as I care for our nest speaks peace to somewhere deep inside.  Doing so in solitude and silence restores my energy - physically, mentally, emotionally.

I do love a rainy day at home.  And it is in this movement through the most routine of tasks, in the sacred handling of the simple daily chores, that He restores my soul.

I feel His pleasure.

: : :

visiting with
 Holley  .  Jerralea  .  Crystal  .  Anita

: : :

Thursday, October 13, 2016

2 Quite Captivating Novels For You To Scoop Up

You know Beth Moore as a popular and beloved Bible teacher.  Her studies are solid and hefty, her Christian living books are best sellers.  Who would have ever guessed that she'd turn out a truly memorable piece of fiction?  

But she has and it's called The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

'A wily house manager and the cast of saints and sinners who live in Saint Silvanus bond together to expose the dark forces that took the life of a father and threaten to drive a final wedge between the mother and daughter left in the wake of his death.'

The birth and death of Saint Silvanus, a former church now reimagined as a cool apartment building {a marvelous inside-the-cover pen and ink sketch brings the shared great room to life}, is subtly interwoven into the story line of a troubled family trying to come to grips with who they could become.  

Read the first chapter here.  Beth's writing is so nuanced and compelling that it's hard to put this book down.  Goosebumps let me know I was hooked after the one paragraph prologue.  Here's a superb selection for your book club.  

And wow ... be sure to sign up for the FREE book webcast coming in January.

I'll see ya' there.

: : :

Lisa Wingate's a new-to-me author ... and I'm telling you that The Story Keeper is another must-read.

'Jen Gibbs is at the top of her game with her new position at Vida House Publishing -- until a mysterious manuscript from an old slush pile appears on her desk.  Turning the pages, Jen finds herself drawn into the life of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl trapped by dangerous men in the turn of the century Appalachia ...when the trail turns toward the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place Jen thought she'd left behind forever, the price of a blockbuster next book deal may be higher than she's willing to pay.'

Read the first chapter right here.  I promise you'll be drawn in hook, line, and sinker to this pageturner, a super compelling 2-stories-in-1 novel that I found most difficult to put down.  Jot this one down, too, for your book club.

For sure, the next few months will find me grabbing hold of Lisa's creations from the library, one by one.

: : :

What page-turner's keeping you burning the midnight oil?

What's your book club reading these days?

: : :

sharing fine reads with 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

5 Guidelines For When You Care About Someone Who's Feeling Punky

Are you feeling punky, out of sorts, depleted ... or care for someone who is?

Last week, we talked about 'punkiness' and what we can choose to do when we find ourselves in that unsettling niche.  Our back and forth conversation on self-care and grace was enlightening and if you didn't get to read it, I hope you'll click here to do so.

Obviously, 'feeling punky' is not a medical term, but rather what I see to be a complex exhausting depletion as body, mind, and soul begin a slow fade in response to being overloaded, overscheduled, over stimulated, or overwhelmed.

This can arise from physical maladies, grief, transitions, burnout, compassion fatigue, hormonal imbalances, an endless ability to say 'no,' boundary-less living, family disasters, job loss, financial upheavals, or untended emotional woundedness.

In other words, life ratched out of control.

Left untended to, this soul-level exhaustion can lead to anxiety, depression, and a host of other ailments that require medical attention.

Today's post focuses on the caregiver of the one who is not feeling like herself.  

I'm taking the liberty of using feminine words in referring to the one who is ailing to avoid the awkward she / he / they.  And using the term caregiver / he to describe the one who ... well ... cares.  Feel free to flip the words around to suit your own particular family or friend scenario.


It's a downright challenge to care for someone who's been feeling poorly for awhile.  

A caregiver might believe that he's somehow gotta fix whatever ails her, or pull some kind of magic wand out of his sleeve to wave her symptoms into oblivion.  Perhaps he's more than frustrated that she hasn't pulled herself up by her bootstraps.

Her pessimistic attitude, lack of energy, and litanies of her aches and pains have left him depleted in ways that surprise and yes, alarm him.

And honestly?  He might secretly muse that if she was right with God, then whatever's troubling her should have been over and done with by now.

It doesn't work that way.  Sorry.

Dear caregiving friend, here's 2 huge questions to ask yourself right smack dab in the midst of it all:

How can I be safe for her?

How can I love her well?

5 caregiving guidelines to educate and encourage you:

1.  Ask her what she needs.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it's a significant question that might begin to empower her, giving her the freedom to give voice to what's swirling around deep inside ... especially if she discerns that her caregiver truly wants to hear what she's offering up.

He might be quite taken back or even a bit defensive as he listens to her concerns ... and he might completely disagree with the to-do list that emerges.  Or perhaps he finds her request to pray together awkward and uncomfortable.  Or he finds himself just a bit antsy when he hears that she simply longs for him to sit quietly with her for awhile.

The wise caregiver won't use these moments as an opportunity to squirm or debate, instead choosing to tend to her requests with grace that could only come from above.

2.  Don't tell her not to feel that way.
It can be quite difficult for her to actually articulate what is true for her in ways that the caregiver can fully grasp.  She longs for him to validate those feelings even if they make no sense to him.  The worst response is for him to refuse to offer her that grace of validation ... or to lecture her for feeling the way she does.

Obnoxiously demanding that she 'stop being anxious' or 'stop being depressed' are a fool's errand and will do nothing more than alienate the caregiver from the one he's trying to care for.  If she wasn't feeling poorly before, his stubborn refusal to be fully present and engaged with her will create immense frustration in her, generating feelings of being disrespected and stirring up anger.

Because she might not have the energy to debate him, her anger just might end up lodged somewhere deep within.  Very simply put, over time, anger turned inward can lead to depression.  Ongoing poor, disrespectful communication skills can result in a toxic emotional mess that could have been avoided.

It doesn't mean that the caregiver tells her that she's absolutely 100% right.  Instead, he offers the ultimate gift of complete focus on her as she speaks, he nods his head because he's listening well, he asks respectful questions to clarify, he tells her he's hearing her heart.

3.  Don't try to fix her.
A human being isn't a machine to program, adjust, manipulate, tinker with.  Our bodies, brains, and spirits are delicately intertwined and incredibly complex.  A doctor is the only one who can fully diagnose physical or brain issues and their impact on daily functioning.

Take the pressure off yourself, my caregiving friend.  And gently come alongside her to make and keep those needed medical appointments.

4.  Work together to create a healing team.
No one heals in a vacuum.  We all need community and maybe never more than when punkiness arrives and for one reason or another, refuses to leave.  Everyone's healing team looks different, but yours could include medical professionals, emotionally healthy family and friends, a counselor / coach / support group, prayer partners, meal providers, church and community resources, even online help from reputable sites.

The best thing about an interactive healing team?  It ends up being a lifeline not just for the one who ails, but for the caregiver, too, who is often suffering in his own way.

5.  Take care of yourself.
This whole caregiving thing is not for the faint of heart, is it.  Get out of the house, do the things you love to do, continue to live your life as best you can.  Nurture your relationship with Christ, carve out time for those friends who make you laugh, stay strong.

Andrew Budak-Schmeisser's A Caregiver's Bill of Rights offers an interesting perspective for the spouses of those who are dying.  You might find it helpfully empowering for your own particular situation, as well.

What would you add to this list?  Come gather 'round the table and let your voice be heard in the comments section.  

And if you found these guidelines helpful or know someone who might benefit from this discussion, feel free to share via Facebook, Twitter, text, or email.


I'm at
Anita's  .  Crystal's  .  Beth's  . Holley's