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Invitation to a story

Six years ago today…

It was mid-morning, and I had just run my daughters to Bible study.

The boys were underfoot, as usual wanting something to eat. I remember feeling full with to-dos for the day, managing details of an upcoming vacation, in general just bustling around.

The phone rang.

I asked my eight-year old to answer. As I overheard his struggle to ‘please take a message’, we exchanged tasks. I took the call, he took his brother to find a snack.

Hello?

It was our house landline, not my cell. I wondered just who and what lay ahead, and if I should have released the whole thing to voicemail. I typically did.

Daniele?  It’s Jed.

I paused. Jed from church?

sacred rhythms

In 2014 we were the pastor’s family, for over eleven years at the time. Church-related calls to our home was nothing out of the ordinary. As I listened to this young adult share his story… I felt my mind attempting sequential sense.

His dad. Something happened. CPR. Paramedics. Please pray.

And my information-gathering and calming effort: Your Mom? Which hospital? Yes, I’ll pray. Yes, I’ll tell Pastor. But it was the beginning of things turned terribly upside down. Calm felt far, far out of reach.

In a short space of time, I entered a woman’s story of pain and loss.

Maybe the better way to say it is I was invited into her family’s story.

In the hospital room, in her home, planning the funeral, attending basic needs… then and for years to come, the invitation came again and again to listen, to weep with, to hold silence, to love, to make space for distress.

Over those pastoral years, similar invitations followed numerous other difficult and trying experiences for the women in my community…

….so many hopes deferred. Multiple hopes lost.

solitude

This week as I opened doors for reflecting on our stories, I thought of this day six years ago, the woman and women I journeyed with in that life season, the ones I walk with now.

And I wondered how we invite others into our stories. Or not.

Sometimes it feels simpler to shut our heart doors, allowing no one in and nothing out. Yep, it’s often easier and even quite manageable — at first. 

Eventually this protective measure wears thin, as in really thin, and doesn’t serve us well.

We are created for holy connection, sacred interdependence.

I am much more aware of the need to practice the presence of people: to invite close friends into the sometimes messy chapters of my story… and welcome invitations for light-hearted fun too.

So in this spirit I encourage you today.

Crack the door open a little wider, a little broader. Okay, maybe a lot wider!  Respond YES to a connection invitation and/or intentionally invite another into your journey.

I know it’s a risk. And…I hope it goes well.

Grace to you.

 

 

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  • Mary LIz Youtz

    Thanks for sharing this story Daniele.  It has been with grace that you have walked with this woman and her family!   You do that naturally.  Thank you for being you! ReplyCancel

ten things I’m loving right now

A simple list of ten things bringing me JOY!

::

ten things

a reminder above my desk :: and an obviously dirty window to clean (ha!). Sometimes I literally pause and take a deep breath when I see this little sign.

early morning bird songs :: I seem to be a morning person about 3/4 of the year. I’ve noticed this pattern more recently and winter accounts for the one-quarter time of happily sleeping in. Right now I’m completely loving the sound of birds even before sunrise; a calming start to the day.

my self-care practice with the news :: I grew up without television and the practice stuck into adulthood. Normally, I rarely engage the news… I’m sensitive to much of it. Plus, my life holds enough family members and friends who inform me of ‘big’ stuff.

But we’re not living in normal times are we?

Weeks ago I decided to read a few news outlets once a day. I scan different websites and catch up mostly on the pandemic-related information. I also choose to watch our Governor’s news briefs, about once or twice a week.

Some international news feels a bit harder to come by, but connections in the Dominican Republic and Haiti keep me informed (especially of stories which probably wouldn’t be highlighted anyway).

Exercising choice in an emotionally-sustainable way!

ten things

ten things I'm loving

extra time in the kitchen :: I cannot tell you how many egg rolls my youngest and I made in the last month — it’s his new favorite thing. So fun. I’ve also taken time to use my grain mill, trying different flours for pizza crust and bread.  We even made candles for Easter! Appreciating time to do things outside the norm.

encouraging snail mail :: this week I received a handwritten card from a sister-friend I haven’t seen in some time. She came across notes from a teaching I offered at church years ago. The card shared how the experience impacted her, and thoughts of our relationship now and then. Such a gift.

And a tender (yet sweet) throwback to a huge chunk of my adult life leading, shepherding, loving and being led and loved by my previous church community. Goodness, I’ve missed them. I’ve missed seeing my sister-friend on a weekly basis. Feeling grateful for her note.

outdoor time as a family :: except for the rainy days, we ride bikes and take walks regularly in our neighborhood or to explore a new park or trail. Helpful for body and soul.

ten things I'm loving

all the blooms on all the trees :: need I say more?  This magnolia tree is my favorite backyard bloom each year.

opportunity for online learning :: I’m often engaged in some course or workshop – a total Enneagram 5 here! Right now I’m working through The Allender Center’s Story Sage series and gaining so much personally and most of all professionally as I support others. So, so good.

books and stories :: finished Educated (beautiful and brutal) and also regularly listening with my kids to their favorite pastime and childhood audio series. Currently reading Spiritual Conversations with Children and trying to choose a new FICTION book. 😉

your feedback around writing and journaling :: thank you for the responses to my last post!  I received some helpful insight and encouragement for next steps.  Appreciate your thoughts.

: :

 

And you — what are you enjoying these days?

 

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    a time to write :: plus a question for you!

    Several weeks ago, I read a few of my high school journals & diaries to my kids.

    After a tiring (but fun) musical rehearsal day, an open Saturday evening found us all a tad bored. We needed something different and new.

    The NEW thing I decided, would be looking through Mom’s high school yearbooks. The kids would totally get a kick out of the adventure!

    We never got to the yearbooks. The journals came first.

    And the rest is history folks.

    We literally laughed until we cried.

    As I read snippets of thought, stories upon stories poured out. The times my sisters made me so, so, SO mad. That hard test in Biology I completely bombed. My all-girl Catholic school experiences. The violin competitions I won. What I thought at the time of myself, church friends, school friends, and family.

    I felt like an archeologist digging and uncovering my past life.

    “Mom, sometimes you sounded just like you do now!!” one child commented as they wiped tears from their eyes. The others nodded in agreement.

    Funny. 😉

    a time to write

    Since those days I’ve catalogued dozens of journals.

    Some I lost transitioning homes — not sure who took them (or why anyone wants them), but those words never found their way back to me.

    I’ve always found writing a healing tool, a way to work out kinks of heart and mind.  Sometimes I write buckets; other times my soul well runs dry.

    It’s no secret writing holds a therapeutic effect. Research clearly supports getting thoughts OUT of our bodies.

    Alongside this….

    I encourage journaling for the sake of keeping a record. For your future self to recall the days, the thoughts, the memories.  The growth, the transitions, the turns your life took.

    Yes, I understand sometimes looking back is painful, perhaps not even helpful.  But often in the present moment – shifting our thoughts from inside to outside is a really supportive tool.

    Taking Time to Write

    If you’re thinking leather journals, odd stacks of notebooks and a drawer full of pens as necessary for personal, reflective writing…

    …you might just be imagining my desk! I highly encourage paper and pen, but honestly?

    Use what works, such as a note-taking app on your phone or a document on your computer. The goal is capture thoughts and take time to write:

    • happenings of the day (or week/month)
    • a gratitude list
    • remember a special time or experience
    • complete a journal prompt
    • rewrite someone else’s words (quotes, Scripture, etc)
    • describe a current challenge
    • celebrate a WIN
    • write prayers or letters to God
    • journal creative ideas or a bucket list
    • note responses to current events
    • combine writing with ART – coloring, painting, collage, photography

    and SO MUCH more!

    Journaling doesn’t have to be complicated, and I work to simplify the process for those struggling to get started.

    a time to write

    Would you be interested in support for the writing process?

    I sometimes get emails asking about this.

    My next launch centers on helping women write their personal stories, BUT…

    …I’m wondering about other community projects.

    Maybe a set of days where we journal together around a topic or prompt, videos about my process and suggestions for yours — or something else?  I can run with ideas, but only if readers find it helpful. Maybe it’s time to write as a community.

    I would appreciate hearing YOUR thoughts! Feel free to email or message me.

    Until then, maybe take out those high school yearbooks and journals for a flip-through. 😉

     

     

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    a peek into my month + how goes 2020?

    Happy (very belated) New Year, friends!

    Seeing it’s my first post of the new decade, I thought a life update might be good.  Like before, just a peek into my days as I experience them.

    But first, how does this year feel so far for you?

    Around me and on social media I hear varying reports. Some feel the season explodes with fresh energy, new ideas and overall 2020 will be a BIG year.

    Others felt January moved s-l-o-w-l-y.

    I land somewhere in the middle.  You?

    danish hygge

    Whether your days felt energetic or less than, I encourage considering practices from the Danish concept of Hygge (pronounced hyoo-guh).  It is where I’ve invested most of January.

    The winter season offers a slower pace if we allow.

    So include space for activities pictured above as part of your self-care — do it without feeling guilty! Nourish your soul in the ways most needed.

    In January I intentionally set aside certain to-do lists and soaked up deep winter’s quiet and slow mood.

    Family life still included the fullness we chose…yet, I attempted a less rushed approach as much as possible.

    A Peek into My Month

    I purchased a NEW planner to track intentions and goals this year: the Makse Life Planner. I love it so, so much for organizing my thoughts! More on this later.

    One personal goal is to read ten fiction books in 2020.

    While this may sound wimpy, I rarely read fiction (maybe 1-2 a year).

    So I feel GREAT about reading one fiction book already in 2020: Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. I give it 3-4 stars… liked it well enough.

    Non-fiction books I’m reading:

    I offer spiritual care to those working within difficult situations or with others’ trauma: prison ministry, post-abortive care ministry, church leadership and others. This book sheds light as I support them — very helpful!

    a peek into my month

    Speaking of offering spiritual care…

    In January I reached capacity for one-on-one clients. My hope for a certain number in a year’s time happened in four months.  #thankyouGod

    Another 2020 goal for me includes investing in relationships…saying YES often to opportunities for connection with family and friends.

    So last month I attended two retreats: one to teach and share, one with homeschooling Moms I’ve met in the last two years.

    Both incredibly life-giving.

    Family life includes the normal bustle of homeschooling — it’s also theatre show season for the kids. Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals!

    : :

    How was your 2020 start? 

     

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      the value in telling our stories

      Remember my September story?

      How I felt God surprised me with opportunities to companion others’ journeys — more than I anticipated?

      Friends, this beautiful surprise continued into the past month!

      This wave of goodness caused me to step back and reexamine ALL. THE. THINGS (okay, not really, but almost).  Thinking through next steps in offering services was my focus.

      Sometimes a crisis makes us stop and reconsider next steps.

      And sometimes, it’s the other way around!

      value in telling our stories

      The last several weeks I explored various Christian ministries and organizations supporting the stories of women :: particularly women encountering harm within their homes and churches.

      Part of my calling and writing centers on bringing awareness and hope to these topics. 

      As I learned from people much further on the journey…

      …as I made connections and outlined partnership possibilities,

      my heart felt incredibly encouraged. 

      The evils of domestic, relational and spiritual abuse seem more rampant within our culture. The impact is harmful and often ignored; perhaps because we believe it couldn’t actually happen in our community circles or we are simply unaware.  

      The need for change feels large. Yet still, I see God’s handiwork.

      He is redeeming the hurt. 

      Transforming stories of harm. 

      Restoring hope lost.

      Equipping open-hearted spiritual leaders and raising up voices.

      While my work sometimes feels stretching, tender or difficult, it also moves me towards God’s promise: 

      When we allow it, he turns our story ashes into something beautiful.

      Yes and amen. 

      value in telling our stories

      Value in Telling Our Stories

      I’ll share of these organizations later and then offer more detail on my other website.

      For today, I remind us of this:

      God invites us to share our stories.

      Throughout Scripture we find a God retelling and recounting his story and that of his people; both beautifully woven into one. 

      The many God-ordained celebrations of the Old Testament speak of One who welcomes his people to ‘remember, remember!’ the story of their journey**and then to tell others.

      The key word here?  Invitation. 

      As we consider sharing our stories (or asking others to share), let us check:

      Are you responding to a holy invitation or a human expectation?

       

      ** I recognize certain stories may be best remembered in private, individualized environments such as counseling or therapy.

      value in telling our stories

      Storytelling Ingredients

      From experience and a general understanding, it seems we need a few things for successful storytelling:

      A desire to share 

      No one can decide for you how and when, which parts or in which order your storytelling should unfold. We should never pressure anyone to reveal more than they desire. 

      I’ve led or taught all kinds of small and large groups through the years…and can relate to sticky situations when ‘over-sharing’ happens. Definitely, it takes compassion and skill to work through those!

      I also reflect and notice where my past actions could be interpreted as putting pressure; and sometimes I didn’t even notice.

      Let’s tread carefully here, friends.

      Vulnerability

      Sharing our stories includes a level of exposure.

      Deciding to entrust parts of our journey to a person or group means we release certain outcomes.  We cannot control how our story is received!

      You can make every effort to be conservative and cautious, honoring and humble. 

      Check your heart motivations a dozen times. Receive counsel on how to share, when and if you should.

      All this — and someone (or many!) may still be offended, angry, think you are over-sharing or focused on self, and a host of other responses.

      Does it matter?

      Yes and no.  More on this in another post!

      value in telling our stories

      A safe community

      Scripture holds multiple psalms, laments, and prayers of individuals pouring out stories of loss, pain, celebration and praise to God alone.

      I believe this a valuable pattern! Writing or journaling for an audience of one also benefits us.

      When an invitation arises to share in other relationship circles…

      …we need a safe community.

      One willing to lovingly bear witness to our story, whether we know them well or not.  Choose your company and community with care. 

      In return, offer safety and this same care to stories you choose to hold.

      :: ::

      I’ve appreciated hearing your stories over the last several months — thank you for sharing!

       

       

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        a peek into my month :: September 2019

        Yes, it’s mid-October.

        And yes, I am only now offering the September update!

        In my last post, I shared how September felt WILD in the best and beautiful kind of way. How the month caught me by surprise.

        More details later in this post, but first a few family updates. Things I actually planned in September…

        a peek into month

        homeschooling

        a peek into month

        Our 16th year (or maybe 17th…I lost count) of homeschooling started last month.

        This year I have a high school junior, 8th grader and 4th grader — ages 10, 13, and 16.

        Two play fall sports, so the calendar reflected many, many practices and games well into October. The high schooler also works a part-time job.

        It’s the busy we choose, so I am okay with it.

        Depending on how football playoffs go, we rest for about two months until musical theatre rehearsals begin for all three!

        a peek into month

        I completed my first graduate course!

        Often I’m asked my study path or goals…and there is no agenda right now. I simply love to learn and everything aligned to take this particular course.

        The topic of trauma and trauma healing is certainly a heavier one.

        I’ve gained so many insights to chew on and consider!

        These inform how I approach spiritual and emotional care for myself, my family and in working with others.  Good stuff.

        a peek into month

        a peek into month

        a peek into month

        a peek into month

        In between the busy, I took time for extra cooking last month.

        You know, beyond just feeding everyone.

        We whipped up homemade pretzels, canned applesauce and apple pie filling, enjoyed plenty desserts from said apples, and I canned grape juice for the first time.

        Thanks to a friend for the Concord grapes and use of her steam juicer. (Unsure if this is the exact one pictured here).

        I often process mentally and emotionally through a creative project: cooking, paper crafts or journaling, decluttering.

        And with what happened business-wise in September, it’s no wonder I took on extra cooking!

        a peek into month

        Back in May I shared my vision and hope for working from home — to use in fresh ways skills cultivated over 20 years in church ministry.

        In July I quietly launched this website.

        While I informed a few communities, it definitely felt a slow, soft launch. Nothing flashy or fancy.

        I’m a one-person business with a goal of not burning myself out.

        In September?

        I can only say God had other ideas than a slow start!

        spiritual direction

        I received email after email from those seeking spiritual support and care.

        After briefly meeting together and discerning next steps, many became regular clients.

        I responded yes to offering spiritual direction at a medical and health conference. We called it a ‘listening room’ and created safe space for processing. Those interested included young adults, support group leaders and several couples.

        I responded yes to two future speaking engagements.

        ALLthis happened in the space of about three weeks — completely taking me by surprise!  Applying general business sense, I anticipated much more time.

        But God friends. But God.

        ::

        So that was September — at least a peek!  A wonderfully wild month…

         

         

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          God is in the waiting :: my story of not knowing what’s next

           

           

          September was absolutely WILD in the best & beautiful kind of way, catching me by surprise and throwing every plan to blog more out the window! A monthly update is next.

          For today, we move to October & November’s theme: STORY. The email community receives the inside scoop — join us to learn more.

           

          ::

          For five months after the kids and I left our home, I slept on a basement floor.

          It was a carpeted room in a basement apartment, but the floor nonetheless.

          My dear friend and her family anticipated our stay would last a few weeks. That’s what I had shared — maybe this space of time before returning home?

          But we never could return.

          Many, many times I lay on that basement floor wondering just what would happen next. Every part of me felt raw and tender, exhausted from the year’s experiences. My head believed God’s presence defined my darkness. He promised to never leave me — ever. 

          By my heart felt utterly and completely overwhelmed.

          We’re going to make it… I prayed and believed over and over again. I just knew it.

          Come hell or high water.

          Goodness, I probably shouldn’t have prayed that one. The chaos came and rose in severe amounts.

          My healing journey took generous godly counseling/therapy, spiritual direction, prayer, faithful friends who listened and cried, a super sharp no-gimmicks no mud-slinging attorney, the kindness and accountability of several faith communities, and a God who never once let me walk alone.

          And while I’m learning chaos does resurface, I did make it.

          I made it to the other side of waiting.

          pastoral care

          I have been waiting for 1043 days…at least it feels like it.

          1043 days ago I walked into what some call liminal space. (don’t bother looking that up in the dictionary. So not helpful).

          I like this definition:

          “Liminal comes from the Latin word limen, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, waiting, not knowing.

          Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.”

          That sounds all philosophical and even theological beauty until you actually have to LIVE it.

          Don’t get me wrong — I believe God is in our liminal space. The place where we wait (and wait and wait) for him to show us what’s next.  Where the questions grow louder, the doubts stronger, and everything feels upside down.

          Been there?  Still there?

          We’re not alone: dozens of heroes of faith experienced the same.

          God meets us in the waiting. Makes us more like him in all sorts of good ways. I truly believe it.

          But friends, between time is HARD.

          waiting on God

          Our journey over the next several weeks includes sharing around ‘liminal space’ and what emerges when we stay and experience this tough place with God versus against him.

          I’ll invite you to recall and ponder your own STORY(ies) — of fear, doubt, celebration, hope.

          Of times when the in-between threatened to sink you but didn’t. Of how you found God in your story. These experiences are often messy, unabridged versions of our deepest needs on display.

          That is okay too. It’s more than okay.

          God is in the waiting friends — He really is. And if today finds you ‘living the liminal’, know I have prayed for us, asking for all grace and compassion. You are seen.

          It’s true.

          I’m not the same woman lying on that basement floor. She – in all her brokenness – is forever part of my story however.

          I embrace this without shame, acknowledging how God shaped and molded her anew.

          He can do this for anyone…

           

           

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          • Missy Smith

            Thank you for sharing your message & faith driven heart! 
            I’ve been in the space as well in different ways of our life. One form is the grieving process with losing multiple loved ones since 2014. Another is the family probate that was set in place in 2016. There’s more ways that we are waiting too. 
            But again, thank you. Your message holds so much reassuring truth about where God is during these periods in life. ♡ ReplyCancel

          four sacred rhythms you need in your life

          I’m trying something NEW the rest of 2019.

          Each month our conversations and my writing will center around a theme. 

          After all, I need organization for my bajillion ideas and a sustainable pace for offering said ideas to this community.

          I also want to offer you helpful and useful content!

          So, I introduce monthly themes for our journey together.

          sacred rhythms

          September :: sacred rhythms for your soul (or just ‘rhythms’)

          Overall, I support women in living courageously — encouraging they show up fully in life.

          By this I mean allowing ourselves to be both visible and vulnerable in spaces and relationships we choose.

          Too often the opposite lives true. We create dozens of ways to otherwise NOT show up how necessary or desired. These unhelpful patterns certainly find way in my life. The courageous women I work with see it in theirs.

          Stick around friend…

          We’ll explore much more as time moves along.

          In September I want to focus us on living from a centered SOUL.  It’s one key aspect of living courageously.

          sacred rhythms

          What do I mean by a centered SOUL?

          We each hold HUGE capacity to connect, attach, turn our attention towards.

          My faith defines this belief. But simply watch the tiniest ones among us!

          Babies naturally desire to bond in physical, emotional ways.

          In fact, they need to in order to thrive. Healthy living includes caring for this lifelong need.

          I invite you to pay attention to where your SOUL, the truest part of you, centers and attaches — to what defines your core focus. You and I will make decisions, take action and give definition to our lives based on whatever holds our attention and allegiance.

          If we want to show up and live courageously? We must intentionally decide our soul’s focus.

          QUESTION: How do your soul needs shape everyday life?

          sacred rhythms

          four sacred rhythms: a rhythm of REST

          Today I welcome you to consider four rhythms I believe meet the soul’s needs. First — a rhythm of rest.

          In my larger faith community it sometimes feels REST is a negative four-letter word among Christians.

          A dicey topic to approach, but I am convinced we are created for pause.

          Work holds important place in life of course. After all, the original biblical command names six out of seven days set aside for it.

          However, this work pattern needs supported by a pattern of REST. Time for laying aside compulsions to do more and allowing ourselves freedom from busyness.

          I get passionate about keeping regular rest patterns matching our life season. I plan to share more this month.

          QUESTION: what does your pattern(s) of rest look like?

          solitude

          four sacred rhythms: a rhythm of SOLITUDE

          Friends, community is great and necessary (see below) — remember courageous living includes allowing ourselves to be visible?

          Well, practicing community and visibility needs supported by a rhythm of solitude.

          I’ll go as far to say we better understand who we truly are by practicing solitude. Who are you really when God is the only one watching? 

          Depending on your faith upbringing, that question may sound belittling. Not my intention though.

          Just asking you to notice: when away from the expectations, attention or approval of others, your productivity or a need to be constantly occupied…who are you in the presence of God alone?

          A practice of solitude allows space for God’s deepest work. We are then truly empowered to live our best self in Christ!

          QUESTION: How do you resist or avoid being alone?

          sacred rhythms

          a rhythm of REFLECTION

          Lately I’ve been flying through our days.

          It’s not our norm, thankfully. But September, with its transition from laid-back summer days to school routines, is simply cray-cray (my kids’ word suggestion for ‘crazy’)!

          If I constantly live at this speed, there is little time to NOTICE.

          To see within me and around me what needs seen — the primary purpose of reflection. We simply cannot live at high speed, barreling from task to task.

          Remember: perspective and direction for our next steps often comes through noticing our past steps.

          A rhythm of reflection allows space for both.

          QUESTION: When do you look back to evaluate, celebrate or notice what’s already happened?

          : :

          a rhythm for SPIRITUAL FRIENDSHIPS

          Okay, true confessions.

          The first three rhythms of rest, solitude and especially reflection come SUPER easily for me. I’m not perfect, but I am consistent.

          I probably carried a journal of reflective thoughts from the time I could write! Outside of ones taken in the middle of a difficult separation, I still own all journals from age 11 to now.

          Pausing for solitude?  Check, piece of cake.

          Making space for rest?  Yep, a consistent practice.

          Noticing my need for spiritual community and friends?  Hey…wanna see my favorite pens and journals?

          community

          Practicing the presence of people requires effort for me.

          It doesn’t come so naturally.

          I find this no better or worse than anyone else’s struggle; it’s simply a rhythm I keep before me to cultivate.

          Placing ourselves in community is important.

          Whether you find it simple or difficult, being on the giving and receiving end of support, love, trust, challenge, play, laughter, prayer, soulful conversation and encouragement is a needful rhythm for your life.

          QUESTION: Who do you talk to about your spiritual life? How often?

          : :

          These words are September’s cornerstone theme — the post from which other thoughts and writings flow.

          If you’re part of the email community, a few practical tools and resources to accompany this post are in your inbox!  We’ll continue exploring together.

          Want to join the community? Click HERE to get started.

           

           

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          a peek into my month :: August 2019

          Months ago when I shared of my writing transition, several long-time readers mentioned missing Domestic Serenity themed posts.

          Homeschooling, everyday life updates, what I’m reading, helpful household tips and more were on the list. I admitted I would miss these as well.

          After launching a new site in July, I got to thinking…

          …it IS important to occasionally share about everyday life! At least it’s important to me.

          So you will find family updates in posts titled ‘a peek into my month’. I imagine these posts every 5-6 weeks as a quick summary of our days, maybe hitting on areas I wrote before.

          It’s true, writing extensively on topics above is now history. Time to move forward.

          Next week we dive as a community into NEW topics I’ve been itching to write about. If you’re an email subscriber or social media follower, you’ll notice new rhythms emerge in those spaces as well as this site.

          But for today – and monthly afterwards – just a peek at what we’ve been up to as a family!

          a peek into my month

          a peek into our month

          a peek into my month

           

          A Peek into My Month

          August began with a weeklong vacation in Virginia and a quick stop in Washington, D.C.

          We took in as much relaxing as possible, with an eight-hour day at the waterpark the highlight. Plenty of touristy things filled our time too. The kids tolerated my full-on homeschool mode sharing details of each monument and memorial.

          Our interest in history is high, so don’t feel sorry for them!

          a peek into my month

          a peek into my month

          a peek into our month

          Virginia’s Civil War Museum is incredibly well done!

          During our week I took a Zumba class offered by the resort, which served to highlight my lack of top-notch coordination skills (I was convinced it existed). My teen son participated with me; fairly sure he was trying hard not to laugh.

          Ah well, can’t be gifted in everything right? ?

          To add to that slight humiliation, family trivia night showcased our need to brush up on topics such as US History, Star Wars, US Presidents and national sports figures.

          We scored perfectly in one area however — CANDY!

          a peek into my month

          Back home again…

          Resting unplugged for a week refreshed my soul. I felt energized for August projects:

          • revamping our home systems such as training kids on new chores. Every August I bump them up to bigger tasks or switch them around and reassign.
          • bulk shopping for paper products, cleaning supplies, shelf foods and grab-and-go snacks
          • outlining the homeschool class I’m teaching at our co-op
          • practicing several InstaPot recipes (yum)
          • decluttering!

          My teens worked their part-time jobs as much as possible this month before school routines limits availability. I’m so proud of their dedication to saving and giving!

          My work in August included offering spiritual direction to new clients – grateful.

          A new invitation came this month: to provide spiritual care for patients diagnosed with a genetic disease. A medical community recognizing how holistic care for suffering persons supports wellbeing… such a gift. (*I know this isn’t new territory, it simply blesses me).

          This month’s reading included heavy topics as I wrap up a graduate course: Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma by Peter Levine and finishing The Body Keeps the Score, Brain Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk.

          I did manage to read a Shopaholic series book while on vacation — total light-hearted, non-educational fiction!

          a peek into my month

          Fall sports began for kiddos involved….ah, September is FULL.

          We attended our local fair and indulged in too much funnel cake and homemade root beer. My youngest was singled out in a juggling show. Though we watch this artist year after year, he loves it!

          Pretty sure the fair is where I caught last week’s stomach bug, needing four days to recover. Whew.

          I know August still offers more days, but it seemed time to share.

          If anything wild and exciting happens before September arrives, you can hear about it in my next ‘a peek into my month‘!

           

           

          2 comments
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          • Alice

            Your kids are beautiful!  Looks like you’re a fun bunch for sure.  Thanks for inspiring me and helping me get organized.  I don’t follow many blogs, but yours is top-notch.ReplyCancel

          • Jennifer

            I love this. ?ReplyCancel

          when your soul can’t find the words…

          soul care

          Over the past year I’ve had opportunity to companion several women through incredibly tough journeys.

          Some through my spiritual direction work and others just as a friend who relates.

          We have laughed (because hey, that’s a simple stress reliever), cried, prayed together and most of all did a LOT of waiting.

          Ugh, waiting.

          The experience feels like an unexpected guest at times, am I right? It’s the surprise no one intended would actually happen but yet, here we are.

          I waited with these women on practical matters: court processes, judge’s decisions, insurance responses, testing results. We waded through waters of intangibles too…waves of difficult emotions in their unexpected season.

          And sometimes we simply sat in silence.

          Recently one friend* offered aloud, ‘I just don’t know how to pray anymore! I have no more words.’  My heart felt taken by her thought.

          I could relate to a silenced soul.

          soul care

          When your soul can’t find the words

          Sometimes we need silence.

          To be in and with our emotional responses, questions, thoughts without interruption of speaking or writing. Just being. 

          Other times, we need something else.

          I recall my loss for words during a season of intense overwhelm. Several years had been spent exploring and facing realities difficult to accept as true. I felt exhausted : emotionally raw : spiritually spent.

          At that point in time, I too didn’t know how to pray. My thoughts could hardly quite wrap around my daily experience…

          …I lost my own words.

          So I began a practice used many times before: when my soul loses its voice, I borrow from another.

          Pulling out my favorite notebook, I started writing

          and writing

          and writing some more.

          I copied words which expressed my needs and desires at the time.  Multiple Psalms found place in my notebook and I moved on to writing other Scriptures of comfort, hope and peace.

          soul care

          Silence is Okay

          I firmly believe in the beauty and power of silence.

          Maybe my introverted nature readily embraces the gift, but I feel our communities – families, churches, schools and more – are simply too loud, too often.

          It’s as though we are afraid of quiet!

          Friend, if silence is your soul need, if you cannot construct thoughts or words around your experience and just want TO BE…

          …then take it, create it, protect your silent and quiet time — perhaps alone?

          Be okay with sharing you prefer not to talk right now or let phone calls go to voicemail. Allow yourself freedom to rename boundaries or add more in.

          I suggest you insulate, not isolate. 

          Let someone know you are okay, how to check up on you or where/when to reach you. Then for a time protect your space from outside influences which may feel overwhelming (insulate).

          soul care

          But if your soul needs words…

          and cannot form them,

          I offer you borrow from someone, somewhere which aligns with what you might say if you could: read, speak or write these words.

          In my season, I found Scripture most reliable to express my heart.

          I also borrowed from books, uplifting quotes, encouraging emails of friends and more. I copied or pasted into my notebook anything which spoke my soul’s needs.

          Try it? Let me know if you find this helpful.

          And if you hold another practice which supports your journey, consider sharing!  I would love to hear.

          :

          * note: these are thoughts of a personal friend offering affirmation to use her words; my spiritual direction work is completely confidential.

          :

          I leave you with a blessing from author Jan Richardson

          Blessing in the Chaos

          To all that is chaotic
          in you,
          let there come silence.

          Let there be
          a calming
          of the clamoring,
          a stilling
          of the voices that
          have laid their claim
          on you,
          that have made their
          home in you,

          that go with you
          even to the
          holy places
          but will not
          let you rest,
          will not let you
          hear your life
          with wholeness
          or feel the grace
          that fashioned you.

          Let what distracts you
          cease.
          Let what divides you
          cease.
          Let there come an end
          to what diminishes
          and demeans,
          and let depart
          all that keeps you
          in its cage.

          Let there be
          an opening
          into the quiet
          that lies beneath
          the chaos,
          where you find
          the peace
          you did not think
          possible
          and see what shimmers
          within the storm.

          —Jan Richardson

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          Daniele Evans