All the Way Off

For a few weeks in the summer, I like to turn all the way off in terms of teaching or speaking or writing books. I take a break from creative work. It’s a necessary way to recharge and store up energy for the fall semester. I do all kinds of other work, but creatively speaking, it’s a way of resting.

I used to feel panicky or lazy or confused about this essential rest. Was it OK to have an off-season? Was it right to completely hibernate from certain kinds of creative work? It’s vital. It’s a resetting of sorts. Most creative people I know work like this. Otherwise, they feel drained all the time. They struggle with burnout. They aren’t working at optimal creativity.

So turn all the way off. Think of the faucet that continues to leak. You want to turn it all the way off so no energy leaks out. This might last a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. Some people even turn off for the whole year to prepare for the next year. In this time, you might read more, pray more, walk more, bake more, or do anything but work on your creative project. Then, one day, you’ll turn back on.

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Any Day Now

The cherry and beefsteak tomatoes present a blush of red. Any day now, I’ll feast on tomato and dill sandwiches and make dinners of baked tomato, garlic, and basil pasta. Any day now, I’ll place trays of oven-dried tomatoes in bags for the freezer. Any day now, I’ll add tomatoes to every single meal. 

I love both the hope and patience of gardening.

 

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All Our Days

Psalm 90:14-17 offers one of the most beautiful prayers; Psalm 90 is something you can pray for your family today. This is perhaps the oldest Psalm (written by Moses). I emphasize the power of certain phrases I just love!

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

I pray for glad days for my family, for us to see the glorious power of the Lord, for God’s favor, and for our work. What a wonderful prayer!

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Unexpected Joy

I love asking people about their “unexpected joys” after a time of being away from them. You can ask, “How is your summer going? Any unexpected joys?”

I believe the word “unexpected” makes us think differently and engages our mind in delightful ways. What happened that I wasn’t expecting that brought me joy I wasn’t expecting? 

It’s also a great devotional practice in gratitude, especially as you will find that things you didn’t think would bring you joy maybe did indeed! Here’s my list so far this summer:

I didn’t expect to love growing cherry tomatoes as much as I do. I didn’t expect to enjoy playing a game called Farkle that I recently learned. I didn’t expect to love cooking zucchini noodles so much. I didn’t expect to find joy in counting the number of rabbits I see on a walk. I didn’t expect enjoying so much family time and becoming great friends with my husband and children like this. 

I also thought I would absolutely detest planning a technical writing course, but I loved it. That’s maybe the most unexpected joy!

I pray your day–and the rest of your summer–is filled with unexpected joy!

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In the Way of Love

I teach professional development to college students. I help them set goals and think deeply about a personal mission. Lately, though, when I think about achievement, future plans, goal setting, and hopes and dreams, I find myself thinking about this singular hope and goal: to walk “in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:1-2). What does that mean?

It’s really about this right here as Paul writes: Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

I most love the part of this verse that reminds us why we can walk in love and give ourselves up for one another. It’s because we are “dearly loved children.” A dearly loved child doesn’t worry about anything; she has everything she needs. She gives to others freely. She doesn’t live in jealousy or comparison or fear or shame. She is dearly loved. She doesn’t have to always take from others; she gives and relates to others with freedom, joy, security, and generosity. She knows she is loved. Her life becomes about this deep love.

I consider more and more that life’s grand purpose is to know how dearly loved we are by God and to then life a life of love. That’s it! That’s the whole thing. Think of the simplicity of 1 John 4:19: We love because he first loved us.

Paul prays this for us in Ephesians 1: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight . . . 

May we grow to know how dearly loved we are. And then may we live a life of profound and unexplainable love. The Holy Spirit will teach us how and enhance this fruit of love given to us (Galatians 5).

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A Great Recipe with Lots of Dill

I absolutely love finding recipes that make use of whatever I’m currently harvesting in my garden. As you know, I have an abundance of dill. I also have many green chives. So imagine my delight when I found this delicious Simple Lemon Dill Quinoa Chickpea Salad from Kitchen Treaty. 

The website: https://www.kitchentreaty.com/simple-lemon-dill-quinoa-chickpea-salad/

I replaced the scallions with my fresh chives. I let the salad sit for about an hour, and when I served it, my husband could not stop gobbling it up! I had two servings as well. So good! We served it alongside our fish and asparagus, and we loved it.

Gather your dill! Gather your chives! (about a half cup of each, chopped) Toss them into a bowl with a cup of cooked quinoa and a can of rinsed chickpeas. Whisk together 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour this over your bowl of quinoa, chickpeas, dill, and chives (or scallions). Let it sit–the longer the better!

So easy! So yummy!

Enjoy some dill this summer!

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Daily Little Harvest for One

I confess to you now: I sometimes eat every raspberry, every ground cherry, and every green bean without even offering them to anyone else. It’s my daily little harvest for one.

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For Some, This Blesses

I find myself complaining about the awful humidity here in central Pennsylvania. I feel like I’m walking through a bog, a swampland, a sweaty shower room, or a jungle. You get the idea. The air feels heavy and moist. It’s oppressive. It even feels hard to breath.

Ugh! You cannot take a long walk in this! I call out to the neighborhood, “This is Pennsylvania, not the deep South! What is happening!?”

But then I remember something. It’s funny I remember this at the precise moment of my complaining.

I remember these exact conditions I detest create the perfect environment for my gardenia cuttings to root and thrive. In fact, I’m growing them in my bathroom so they can enjoy the humid, moist air after everyone showers. Oh, the blessing of humidity to create this kind of beauty!

For some, the humidity blesses. I like to remember how the very thing I’m complaining about might actually mean something wonderful to someone else. I learn to think differently and ask under what conditions or circumstances my complaint would change to a blessing.

Finally, I recall how, in the depths of winter, the dry, cold air cracks my skin and lips. I long for humidity.

Consider humidity: it’s a practice in perspective taking.

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Every Morning, a Fresh Start

I love a fresh, new morning.

We can start fresh with a blank canvas to turn this day into a masterpiece. God’s mercies are new every morning. They are right here waiting for you.

Think about it.  You can choose to hydrate, exercise, pray, and eat nutritious foods. You can choose to start or continue a project. You can start fresh with kind words, new mental habits, and novel ideas. You can start again. 

Forget what is behind (Philippians 3:13). Do not dwell on the past (Isaiah 43:18). Press on into the new. 

Anything can happen. It’s a new day.

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