Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn Harmony 2016

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!" 
-Percy Bysshe Shelley

I feel this sense of harmony every autumn - but especially this one.

In summertime, the warm, glorious sun beckons to us and there's this magnetic pull, carrying us outdoors into a carnival of wonder. The smells are intoxicating, the sights vibrantly technicolor. The days blend together as we whirl through weeks of family bliss, garden delights, and strawberry lemonade.

But when autumn comes knocking, the notes align to a more harmonious melody, the sun fades just enough for a slight chill to enter the breeze, and for me, the compass changes.

If summer points to the south and winter directly north (on my figurative seasonal compass), then spring dawns right between the two in an easterly direction. As for autumn? 

Autumn falls in the western sunset.

In summer, the magnet pulls us outdoors, and in the winter, we retreat within. But in the autumn, we are caught in this beautiful balancing act between outside and inside. We put on our boots and soft sweaters to revel in the coolness of changing leaves, corn husks, and pumpkins all colorful. But then we are drawn back to the hearth of home -- where a crackling fire, apple pie and warm cider await us. It's a gathering time -- of families and harvest, of memories and new beginnings. 

Oh autumn, you frame our days with harmony so sweet.

And this autumn has been the best one yet. Here we sit in this cozy Middle House, watching our Farmhouse take shape. We fill our days with the passion of learning -- the spiritual and secular all wrapped up into one delightful package.
Ancient Egypt, Arthropods, Austrian painters, and classic literature have graced our home this September.

This Homeschool path found me quite unexpectedly. But I embraced it passionately and wholeheartedly. And in return, it has rewarded me with the most abundant satisfaction - my deepest longings richly fulfilled.

My heart continues to heal from the trauma of this summer, slowly but surely. With grace from the Lord and His multitude of tender mercies, I attribute much of its mending to my children - who have freely gifted me the chance to be their teacher.
September's nearly over, yes, but the promise of October awaits. The promise of every month always awaits. Because of our Savior, there is no end, just eternal new beginnings. The earth spins on its axis and turns its revolving path around the sun. Or maybe it's we who turn, standing tall and grateful, with compass in hand.

The needle pointed south just a few weeks ago, but we have turned, be it ever so slightly, towards the west. Time never stands still, and we never stop turning -- our lives a continual cycle of birth and death, waxing and waning, decay and renewal, withering and blooming.

Quiet your mind for a few moments today. Think of your life. Think of your story. Choose to embrace it with arms wide open. Choose to live your one life well. For to follow the circle that is your life is the grandest adventure of all.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Heart Healing {Chapter 4}

This is the final chapter of my heart story - at least for now...

A week passed and life started up again full throttle. All summer we had been preparing for something new - homeschool to start in the fall. The Lord had placed this desire, this mandate so to speak, upon my heart earlier this spring and countless hours had been spent researching and planning and preparing for the start of this new adventure. 

With such a busy summer I knew I would need to rest after having the baby so I would be refreshed and revitalized when school commenced. But life rarely goes according to plan - it's a lesson I keep learning again and again. And the week I had penciled in my planner - the week Patrick had off work - I planned to rest. I had visions of snuggling my new baby boy, getting to know him, napping - just slow, gentle time easing our family into this new season.

But the "heartbreak" happened and the restful week turned into a testing week. We were exhausted, but still we plunged on - charged with the energy of what seemed a second chance at life.

So, with my heart on the mend, the children were ready and anxious to begin school, and before I knew it, we were thrown back into life. The zest of excitement in teaching my children, the magic sparkle of embarking on a learning adventure with them every day was rich and soul-satisfying. I felt I had stepped into a fairy tale. Motherhood took on new layers of depth and meaning I never before knew existed. My heart swelled with a joy so complete that I almost forgot about my heart complications.

And yet, in the midst of all this goodness, there was a nagging inside me. It was a small feeling of unease but I couldn't decipher what it was trying to tell me. Not until last weekend, when I came down with a cold, did the small feeling turn into a small voice...I needed to process the trauma I had been through. I stumbled upon Ann Voskamp's most recent blog post and the hot tears that coursed down my cheeks as I read about her daughter's recent heart surgery made me realize I hadn't journaled about my experience fully. You see, there's a danger in moving too quickly from the wake of a storm back to regular life. We need time. Time to process the lessons as we heal. Otherwise, the lessons are lost. The Master Sculptor is ever trying to shape us into beautiful works of art. But if we don't take the time to learn from our trials, our sculpting process is slowed or halted altogether. Yes, there was more to be discovered from my Peripartum Cardiomyopathy and it could only be found in the stillness.

And like He always does, the Lord provided a way for me to do just that. To my delighted suprise, my sweet grandparents called me up and offered to take my three older children for a visit to their house. They came on Tuesday, and with the flexibility of school at home, my children left with their backpacks bulging and ear-to-ear grins on their faces. I was alone with my baby and it was time to go within.

I opened my rose-gold planner-journal to a clean, smooth sheet and titled it: "Heart Pondering." For the next several hours, my pen flew across the page as the words flowed through my mind.

I started with questions: "My heart was breaking and it hurt to breathe. Why was it breaking? Why was it beating so slowly? Why was it enlarged? Why was there excess fluid around my heart and lungs?"

And as I pondered there, the answers came. Perhaps I had been packing away too much "unnecessary fluid" in the forms of criticism and judgments toward myself and others, and the ever-alluring path of perfectionism. Perhaps on a mental and emotional level, this lack of love had slowed my heart down.

On a physical level, perhaps I had asked my heart to do too much. With all good intentions, I had planned to rest during this pregnancy, but instead I increased my pace with moving to the Middle House, planning homeschool, and living out family vacations. I had over-sacrificed myself throughout the pregnancy and despite the fact that I had promised myself I would slow down and take it easy, I sped up.

And when the heart problems came, they forced me to slow down and come to a complete halt as I lay there in the emergency room feeling so close to death. All I wanted was my family. All I cared about was my family. And all I wanted was to be healed so I could go home and hold them once more. Nothing else mattered. Life felt altogether so overwhelmingly beautiful and so achingly fragile. 

And while the lessons from that fateful night were so poignant and my perspective had shifted permanently, I realized that my actions had not. Soon after the trauma I was right back to where I had started - over-sacrificing and not taking enough time for myself to rest and recharge.

I determined the lessons would not be lost on me. 

This grace? This love? It's the antidote to every heartbreak on earth. It was the love of my Savior through words of scripture. Love of my husband and love for my children that I held onto for dear life. Love of family and friends through their charitable service and those heavenly angels that are just across the veil. I was mended back together in that broken place by Love.

And now it's time to love my heart back to wholeness. I will love my Savior stronger than I ever have before. He will be my anchor and my rock. I will love myself better through the continual gift of stillness and self-compasision. I will love my family with kind words and kisses, gratitude and grace, shared memories and lots of listening. I will love my friends and my enemies with just a little bit more service, just a few more prayers in their behalf. I will love my life by leaving the "path of perfectionism" to pursue the "art of excellence."

Because in the end? Love is all that matters. Love binds up our hearts, binds us to Christ, and binds us together. Yes, it is true. Overwhelming love is the prescription to all our heart afflictions and it's this love that will keep our hearts beating strong.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Heart Healing {Chapter 3}

"You must surrender to a breaking that must happen if you want any of your brokenness to heal.

"I hadn't known this or felt this -- but I have now and I cannot forget.

"And this is a harder thing -- You have to trust that the breaking of your heart will heal you into a kind of stronger."

The morning dawned bright and beautiful after that eventful night in the Emergency Room, but the pain was still there. I hoped for answers as we took our newborn son to the doctor for his 5-day old check-up.

Our little boy looked wonderful, but my doctor was concerned about me. After reviewing the cat scan from the night before, he gave me the diagnosis: Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. It's a rare form of heart failure induced by pregnancy. My symptoms of pitting edema, chest pain, stabbing back pain, and shortness of breath all checked out with the results from the scan. My heart was slightly enlarged and there was fluid around my lungs and heart. In effect, my heart was backed up with all the exertion of trying to eliminate the excess fluid. But it couldn't keep up and had subsequently slowed down. He ordered more blood tests, prescribed medication, and sent me to a bigger hospital for an echocardiogram.

But through it all my Savior was there - to lift me up and strengthen me to meet the demands. We marveled at the tender mercies He was showering upon us day after day. Tender mercies like how my case was mild - it did not result in cardiac arrest or more severe complications. Tender mercies like how Patrick was able to take a whole week off work to take care of me and the children and drive me around to all my doctor's appointments. Tender mercies like prayers and calls and texts from sweet family and friends. Tender mercies like sweet sisters from my Relief Society bringing us meals each night. After each taxing day in the hospital we would return to a warm, home-cooked meal made with love and pure, Christlike charity. Indeed, the Lord never forgets us in these dire moments of need. We need only to notice.

By the end of the week, my body was healing. I lost fifteen pounds of fluid which eased the excruciating pain in my back and chest. My heart gradually picked up its pace and returned to a normal rate. I could finally sleep because I could finally settle into my bed and get comfortable.

It seemed my heart was on the mend and I knelt, weeping, before my Maker in praise and thanksgiving. Gratitude that He had sent me early warning signs to signal something was amiss. Gratitude that I had listened. Gratitude that there was no clot and no cardiac arrest. Gratitude that my doctor had answers and treatments for my condition. Gratitude for sparing my life and most of all, gratitude for my family and the promise of eternity.

Our hearts break many times as we journey through life. I know mine has. And I don't know what you are facing in your life story right now. I don't know how your heart is breaking - may it be physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. But I can promise you this. There is a purpose. And it will be sorted out in the end. And when your heart finally heals, it will be even stronger than before, because it will be stitched back together with the threads of grace by the Master Healer. 

My heart healing story? I thought it was over. I thought I was healed. But in the week to follow, I would learn even more about what it takes to mend a broken heart and how God leads us forward, ever forward, to the place He wants us to be...

To be continued...
{Chapter 4 coming soon}

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Heart Healing {Chapter 2}

I couldn't ignore it any longer - that pain in my chest. Each breath felt like a knife stabbing right in the center of my back. Perhaps most disconcerting of all was the slow thrum of my heart - as if giant hands were holding it tight and each beat was trying desperately to break free. It felt like it would drop out of my chest at any moment. Just feeling that slow, pounding drop of my heart beat after beat sent a wave of nausea over me. I don't do well when I think about blood.

The pain had been my companion since just after the birth, but it had gradually worsened over the two short days since coming home. I felt for my pulse. Could it really be ticking this slow? Lightheaded as I stood up, I carried my baby into my husband and told him my symptoms. I asked him to check my pulse. He's a physical therapist - I knew he'd know what to do.

The concern in his eyes betrayed his voice as he told me my heart rate was only 37 beats per minute.

Just the thought that my heart was not working properly sent me into a wave of panic. I remembered how the hospital monitors beeped a warning every time my vitals were checked. My heart rate was low then, but now it was even lower and physically palpable. I couldn't get my mind to think of anything else except the pain. And the ever-present nagging that something wasn't quite right.

So I tried to rest as the hours ticked by. But the pain persisted. By 11:00 that night, Patrick started worrying that my symptoms were pointing towards a possible blood clot in my lung. He consulted with his uncle, a PA, and then made a decision. "We're taking you to the Emergency Room," he said with urgent soberness.

But how could we leave when our little ones were asleep in their beds? What would we do with our baby? I thought about calling my sweet friend, but knew she has four little children of her own and I didn't want to wake her. We tried calling several kind neighbors, but to no avail. Everyone was either asleep or out of town. I contemplated calling my parents, but I knew they would have a long drive ahead of them. We were getting frantic. I mustered the courage and called my dear friend. I prayed she would answer.

Hearing her sweet voice made me choke up with relief and gratitude and all the worry spilled out as I asked her if she could come sit with our children while we were gone. There have been few times in my life when I have ever been so grateful for true friendship.

Patrick had called ahead to the hospital so they were waiting for us. I was poked and hooked up to all kinds of machines and for a few minutes I was calm knowing everything would be all right. I would soon be taken care of. But then the waiting began...waiting for blood results which came back too astronomical to be accurate...waiting for the cat scan...waiting for the second set of blood results...and the cat scan results...It was amidst all this waiting in that cold, sterile room that I think my panic attack began. Tears poured uncontrollably down my cheeks. You could have cut through the silence with a knife. The clock wouldn't move and I couldn't stop hyperventilating. And why was I so cold? They brought me a blanket but the shivering continued. Why could I not get warm? If it was a blood clot, it could be fatal. I wondered if I was going to die.

The white board on the wall, displaying the care team and treatment measures had not been erased from the previous patient. I couldn't stop staring at the words on the bottom of the board: "Going Home." I assumed this section was meant to be filled with a time of discharge, but I couldn't help wondering which "home" I would be returning to that night.

Thoughts like that only made my blood pressure skyrocket. If my health condition didn't kill me, my anxiety surely could.  I tried to think of my sweet family to get my mind off the stress, but each memory was haunting. Flashes of my children played before my eyes like scenes on a movie screen. I saw them playing and dancing, their laughter echoing through the corridors of my mind. Would I ever get to see them again? My heart sunk - in the rush of getting to the ER, I hadn't kissed their sleeping faces. What if I never had the chance to say goodbye? I called my husband over and squeezed his hand. "If something happens, will you please tell the children that I love them? I didn't get to say goodbye." We were both crying at this point.

"Everything is going to be okay. You will be fine," but his voice was shaky.

He placed his hands on my head and gave me a blessing. I felt the peace enter the room, but my heart just wouldn't accept it. Every single thought would lead me to remember my children and each memory broke my heart in pieces wondering if I would be granted the opportunity to continue to raise them. All I wanted was to go home and play with them once more - to wrap my arms around them and hold them tighter than I ever had before.

Finally, when I felt I couldn't take it anymore, my mind caught hold of one glimmer of hope - my mother's example. I remembered back to when she had her thoracotomy - those long agonizing nights in the hospital when she nearly died. But instead of giving in to the despair, she reached over with the little strength she had, picked up her cell phone, and called her sister. She could barely talk, but she managed to ask her if she could read to her from the Book of Mormon. It was the middle of the night, but my aunt stayed up for hours, reading chapter after chapter of the scriptures. I remembered when my mom later told me this, how I felt her faith, and the power of the word of God.

With tears blurring my vision and threatening to overtake me, I looked to Patrick: "Would you read to me from the Book of Mormon?"

He read from 3 Nephi - when our Savior, Jesus Christ ministers to the Nephites, heals their afflictions, and blesses the children.

As I listened, I could feel the tension leave and my body relax. The beautiful words drifted through my mind and I clung to each one like a lifeline tossed out to a drowning sailor. I silently prayed that my life would be spared and that I might have the opportunity to continue to raise my three precious children and my new baby boy. I pleaded that the Lord would allow me to stay. I just wasn't ready to go Home yet.

As I prayed, I felt angels nearby and I pleaded that they would surround my sweet children as I could not be with them at this time. The calm washed over me like a gentle summer wave. I finally felt a semblance of peace. It was going to be okay.

Finally the doctor came in with the news - there was no blood clot and everything looked good. He didn't know why my heart rate was so slow or why it was hurting so badly, so he ordered a Holter monitor for me to pick up the next day - one that would track my heart.

With tears of gratitude swelling in my eyes, we walked out of the hospital that night with assuaged fears, but nagging doubts. I was ever so grateful my life had been spared, but still I couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. The ache was still there, the heartbeat still slow and thrumming so painfully. My body was trying to tell me something, but what I didn't know. 

But even with all the unanswered questions my perspective had shifted and light flowed into the broken cracks of my heart. I was going home and no matter what the morrow held, my Heavenly Father's mercy had rescued me on the darkest night of my life. I would never be the same.

"It's okay to let the tears come, to weep over all this pain, all this love, all this beauty, all this brokenness and the hard roads that we somehow find ourselves walking, forcing one step in front of the other...Turn to the window and wait for the sun to rise, to keep always rising. Never stop being surprised that it does, never get over the miracle that you get to see it."

To be continued...

{Chapter 3 coming soon}

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Heart Healing {Chapter 1}

My heart was hurting. Deep inside my chest, I felt a heavyweight pounding with each slow, strained heartbeat -- as completely confusing as it was altogether disturbing. Pressing my fingers into my wrist, I felt for my pulse.

Something was wrong.

But it hadn't started out that way.

Just three days prior I was counting minutes between contractions instead of number of heartbeats. My mother recorded the minutes on a sticky note as I talked to her on the phone, pacing my bedroom.

I wondered if I should go in to the hospital. She thought yes, but I wasn't convinced. This pain felt different than the last pregnancies, just a dull, uncomfortable ache in my abdomen that wouldn't go away.

But the odd contractions continued and I could barely walk. After a few more hours, Patrick came home from work and picked me up. It was time to go.

I told the nurses it might just be a waste of a visit, coming in when I wasn't in excruciating pain. But a check revealed that I was indeed progressing in labor so the doctor was called.

After the initial procedures and epidural, the doctor and nurses left the room, explaining that maybe in an hour I would be ready. But just fifty minutes later, I felt a plunging drop of my heart and a wave of nausea came over me. We called for the nurse and she said it was time.

The labor was more laborious this time around. Each push left me utterly drained and exhausted. But thankfully, less than twenty minutes later, and with a last-minute turning from posterior to anterior, our little baby boy made his grand entrance into this world.

He was glorious, so fresh from heaven and angelic. I held him close and I'll never forget how he curled right up, so content. This skin-to-skin contact had been recommended by the doctor, but our little one was so content, he just snuggled into me and wouldn't breathe consistently. It wasn't until after I asked the nurses to take him to check his APGAR score that he finally started to cry and turn a healthy rosy pink.
But oh the rapture I felt during our hospital stay. Everything was perfect. The instantaneous love for this precious boy came just as suddenly and powerfully as it had for his brothers and sister before him. I studied every feature of his perfect face and marveled over the exquisite details of his tiny body. I breathed in his newborn scent and wondered at the sweet nobility of his spirit.

The next day the children came and met their new baby brother. They were absolutely smitten. My oldest son, who usually isn't too interested in baby events like this lit up like a candle when he held him. His dimples were glowing at the peaks of his genuine smile.

My second son exuded a peaceful calm as he tenderly placed his head on his baby brother and gave him the gentlest of snuggles.

Then my daughter was given a turn and tears brimmed up in my eyes at the sound of her sweet, angelic voice singing her new best friend the most beautiful lullabies I've ever heard.

How could my mama heart be any fuller? Nothing could compare to the love I witnessed that day.

And nothing could prepare me enough for the trials I would face in the coming few days. But one thing's for certain. As the battle ensued, I would cling to this memory with all of my heart...

To be continued...

{Chapter 2 coming soon}

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Snatches for Your Story - Vol. 3

As promised, and just a tad bit late, here are 7 snatches to aid you in living out your wonderfully amazing summer story...
1 - Carve out a time on your calendar to put your life on pause. It's so good for us to rest. And be still. Escape the noise of the world for just a week, or just a day, or even just a moment - to be still & hear God's whispers. (Psalms 37:7) This is what we were able to do the past few weeks - go on vacation and simply rest. It was the most wonderful vacation ever.

We need times of rest so we can refuel and recharge for our times of productivity. It's all about balance. So promise me you'll take some to go within and reacquaint yourself with that still inner voice. Your whole story will become clearer when you do.πŸ•Š

2 - I hope you have been able to sketch out the beginnings of your summer story. But if not, it's never too late. Today I want you to carve out a space of time on your calendar to go to the stillness and evaluate how your summer story is unfolding. Your summer is just too precious to let it slip by without direction.

For a simple, two step framework, visit this post. A time of rest and stillness may be the best gift you give yourself this month, trust me! We all need a period of peace to reflect on where we are and where we going.

And most importantly, I hope you will reach out to me and share your summer story updates. Each of you are so important and if I can be a listening ear, or someone to bounce ideas off of, or an encourager on your journey in any way, I would be most honored.

I have loved reading about your stories and I look forward to hearing from more or you. Because I want to travel this journey together. Let's not journey alone, my friends.πŸ’—

3 - Are you convinced yet?πŸ•Š Maybe these words will help:

"We are constantly in cycles of expansion and contraction. It is natural and healthy. It is vital that we are balanced in this way, growing, creating and expressing, then internalising, hibernating, rejuvenating ready to come out again for more expansion. Like nature moves in cycles, so we too are moving in cycles.

"Problems arise when we think we should be in constant expansion and attempt to live that way - doing more, getting more, being more, attaining, achieving, creating, mastering, speaking, moving, making... there must be counter cycles to this. WHY? Because the magic does not just happen in the expansive times in your life...

"The magic is BREWED UP in the contraction phases...when you are resting, when you are retreating, when you are on vacation, when you are quiet, when you are with your family, when you are in nature, when you are reflecting, when you are learning, when you are meditating... all these hibernating, internalising, retreating moments are the times when you recalibrate...

"There is something special that happens in the pauses, the gaps in between, that allows the spaces to then be filled with what you do, create and expand into. "It's like the gaps in a song, the dramatic pause before the next note sounds...

"Make like nature...ride these cycles with grace, in and out, up and down, outward and inward, creating and retreating, expressing and reflecting."  Wise words indeed from Bernadette Logue

4 - A quote to guide you:
"While I have learned that dreams need doing as much as they need being, I have learned that the being always comes first. 
"Today is a day for being. Be with those you love, be kind to yourself. Be quiet and call forth the dream you buried long ago. The ember is still glowing in your soul. See it in your mind, hold it tenderly in your heart." 
-Sarah Ban Breathnach

 5 - Just a gentle thought for a gentle morning (or evening). It does one good to step off the busy escalator of life for a few days and take a slight detour onto the road less traveled...the slow and simple path.

6 - "Lord, slow me down for a few moments today to make sweet memories with those I love most." -Suzie Eller

It seemed that every day of our vacation was restful and perfect, but one night was truly idyllic. It's not often that I get to sit in the quiet of a summer evening and watch my children play with their dad all sorts of made-up games - like a football toss, rocks dropping through the cracks competition, card games, and horseback riding. We ended the evening with a late night movie at this tiny, quaint drive-in. Something empty in me was filled that night and all I feel is sublime contentment.

7 - Give yourself the gift of permission today: 

"Rest is hard for me. I don't really know why. It's just hard to be still and let God love me. Being productive gets more kudos and offers less guilt. I know that's not a very Godly perspective but isn't it the honest truth? How often do people walk by you sitting on a porch or laying on the couch and say, "Good for you girl!! Look at you resting and relaxing. I'm so impressed with how great you are at just being still; letting God be God.πŸ™‹πŸΌWell, I've appointed myself to be that girl for you today. Go sit down and take a break. Take a deep breath. Read a book. Close your eyes and do nothing, if that's what you need most. Even just 10 minutes would be impressive. Don't feel guilty or like you don't have time. You do. You're worth it. God is inviting us to come; holding out His hand and offering a permission slip for a guilt-free rest. πŸ’•Let's do it. Can you hear me applauding your new found amazing ability (i.e. attempt) to rest??!! πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ"

These are wise words from @reneeswope and I wholeheartedly echo her words. Let me be that girl for you today too! How will you choose to rest in the stillness?

Friday, July 1, 2016

My Story Updates

Have you had the chance to sit in the stillness and reflect on how your summer story is progressing? We just returned from a week-and-a-half long vacation. The mountain cabin gave me an idyllic space in which to just rest and ponder on my own story. I must admit, June was a flurry of activity with not much time to relax, so this vacation was just the prescription I needed to refocus my priorities and realize just what is important for me and my family. But, you don't need a mountain cabin or a week-long vacation to take time out to rest and recharge. Even just an hour to yourself at a park or in the quiet of your bedroom can work wonders for rebalancing.

In my last post, I suggested a few questions to guide you in evaluating the progress of your summer story. If you missed it, you can read it here.

And then I promised you an update to my own summer story. Not surprisingly, my summer story is not unfolding exactly as I had imagined. But stories are never like that, are they? There are always twists and turns that add excitement and drama. Most of this past month has been exactly what I thought it would be - our farmhouse was finally started (albeit much later than I hoped); we enjoyed vacations with family; I have begun my guided journaling practice; been feverishly working on the launching of my summer collections (which should happen next week, I promise!); and the acceptance and enjoyment of just where we are here in the middle house. But what didn't happen was the intentional pauses of peace to rest and soak in the words of beautiful books. This one was unfortunately pushed to the back burner nearly every single day, and when I tried to sit down to read, my mind was still racing a hundred miles an hour preventing my focus. I could feel that living this way was draining, but I couldn't seem to balance the activity with the rest. So, for the past week, all I have done is relax, ponder, read, plan, and make meaningful family memories. {If you struggle with striking the right balance, stay tuned for tomorrow's snatches.}

In all this, I see the Lord's hand shaping this summer into the very best story for me. It's been less about what I have done, and more about who I am. The Lord is teaching me how to find the very best rhythm for my peak performance, and how to appreciate (instead of downplay or criticize) my natural strengths. An unexpected tender mercy, to be sure.

From here on out, I trust the Lord with the unfolding. Much is unknown, but with bright faith, I trust that the Lord will work out the details. He is always so good - in both the storms and the sunshine. My focus for July will be on adventure (preparing for our little baby, launching my collections and new blog design, one last getaway for my husband and I before the baby, preparation for the new adventure of homeschooling we will be starting this Fall, instilling good and healthy habits for my life, and farmhouse designing. It will be busy to be sure, but I'm not going to let the busyness get the best of me this time around. I am committing to a balance of doing and being. As for August, our baby will come and so my focus will be on stillness, rest, and enjoying each moment with my precious children.

What will your focus be for the next two months? I'd love to hear how your story is evolving. Feel free to email me or comment below, my friends, because your story matters!

Also, to celebrate this 4th of July weekend (from now through Monday, July 4th), I am offering an exclusive sale in my etsy shop! With code: JULY40 you can receive a 40% discount on anything in my shop (including all prints, thank you card bundles, AND custom orders!!) This will be my biggest sale of the year, so if you've been eyeing something special for your home or for a gift, now would be the perfect time to hop on over! Click here to see my inventory!

Signing off until tomorrow...