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changes

I imagine long-term readers noticed my silence of late.

Over the last year or so I’ve blogged less and less. Though in reality, more and more words begged voice.

There is a story I want to tell…several actually.

I’ve wrestled over which words to share here (or not). I also wondered about my blogging future.

Eleven years ago, my first post went out into cyberspace. For years I wrote about homeschooling, mom and home life, some on marriage.  I shared recipes, organizational tips, natural remedies and just whatever else came to mind!

I am a writer. I love writing.

My wrestling about this blog’s future never related to quitting.

But while all Domestic Serenity posts are true to my life experiences, I’ve come to accept they were SAFE topics for me to write about.

Quite intentionally, I focused on reflecting the quieter, calmer (perhaps happier) moments of my days as a wife, pastor’s wife, mother, homemaker and homeschooler.

Quiet and calm does describe me well.

At my core, I don’t like rocking the boat much. I’m often content with a supporting role rather than the lead.

BUT…

I’m also passionate. Fiery. An activist. Advocate. 

In light of this, there is simply SO much more I want to give voice to.  I truly enjoyed writing the way I have (no regrets), but also sense a major shift.

One reason a potential shift felt difficult is due to life changes.

I struggled with just how to reflect my current life into my blogging.

I’m still mothering and homeschooling children, tending a home, practicing holistic self-care and planning/organizing my little heart out — all topics of this blog.  But while married legally, I am no longer living with the man I married and am no longer a pastor’s wife.

Quite honestly, life as I knew it unraveled over several years time.

During these long periods of blog silence, I needed every ounce of energymental, physical, emotional and spiritual — to face the horrible and heartbreaking facts of my situation which wrecked havoc on life (and continues to in specific ways).

I needed energy to courageously and graciously live out my unfolding story. Not that I did this well every day, but I tried.

So public writing on all platforms took a back seat.

I’m grateful for kind blog & magazine editors who supported my need to retreat. I’m slowly making my way back. It’s exciting the different opportunities ahead!

[A note: the horrifying and heartbreaking story I refer to is not the subject of today’s post; one day probably, but not today. Right now, it’s important to me to generally share life changes and yet maintain privacy.]

So all that to say, dear friends, changes are coming for Domestic Serenity.

To lay it out simply, this blog will phase out in a few months time (every post archived). Another platform is already in the works, with hopes for completion later this spring.

I plan to write several posts here before the transition. My sincere hope is you come along for the NEW journey!

There will be no surprises.

You’ll know just what the new website is about, when it will launch, and how I hope to create content and community for us moving forward.  I’ll keep you updated!  God willing, no more long, extended periods of writing silence.

It’s all a bit daunting honestly.

I’ve spent years getting Google to like me ?, the goal of every website!  There are thousands of Domestic subscribers and social media followers. I truly love the platform created here. In many ways, I’ll have to start all over.

It’s been hard processing letting go. So I took time to embrace the need.

Because friends…it’s time for change.

***

May you enter 2019 with a deep assurance of God’s care for you and yours!  

Happy New Year.

 

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  • Audria StoryDecember 31, 2018 - 9:43 am

    I have missed your posts. I am so sorry to learn of such a life changing struggle for you. I do not know what to say but if I was near by I’d just come hold your hand for a while. Looking forward to the new year with you!ReplyCancel

  • Daniele @ Domestic SerenityDecember 31, 2018 - 9:57 am

    Audria… I am grateful you took time to offer a note. Though you feel at a loss for words, I appreciate your beautiful thoughts, thank you! Blessings into 2019. Let’s see what God has for us!

    ~ DanieleReplyCancel

  • ConniJanuary 4, 2019 - 8:11 pm

    So sorry to hear your journey has hit hard places.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer WilliamsJanuary 10, 2019 - 10:48 am

    I am so sorry for the difficulties and challenges you are facing right now. We all have our heartbreaks, they just come in different forms. You are not alone. I pray that God will lift you up and sustain you. I understand your need for change and something positive. I look forward to your new space. Take care and God bless.ReplyCancel

  • Daniele @ Domestic SerenityJanuary 11, 2019 - 7:48 am

    Thank you Conni and Jennifer…appreciate your words and encouragement.ReplyCancel

on prayers for Willow Creek, The Catholic Church and every one of our hearts

A few weeks ago, just after more allegations towards Willow Creek’s former pastor broke news, I was in the Chicago area on spiritual retreat.

Being physically close to Willow, I caught headlines reporting the news.

With a myriad of emotions, our group paused to pray for the church, the family, the leadership team within an unfolding scandal….and for the women who came forward.

We prayed too for the multitude of Christ-followers impacted.

For the questions. Doubts.

Fears. Anger.

I heard of experiences the women speaking up faced.  To say pain touched them on multiple levels seems an understatement.

What a difficult mess for so many people.

Shortly after returning home, news broke surrounding 1000 victims of abuse by Catholic priests in the state where I live.

I felt completely heartsick reading of intentional coverups by bishops; for a lack of transparency serving to further victimize children and families.

I prayed and cried for justice.

For healing.

For Christ’s mercy upon this shaking within Protestant/Evangelical and Catholic worlds.

For what seems to me an upside-down theological interpretation of GRACE, keeping spiritual leaders from acting upon legal and moral duties.

And I prayed over my own heart.

For the hearts of everyone claiming their identity in Christ.

I believe it easy to shake our heads, feel fleeting emotions and then move on. Personally, parts of the above stories hit much too close to home. I’ve struggled with wanting to hold these situations in prayer…

…and a desire to forget I ever heard.

But in reality, I cannot fully separate from the hurt of my brothers and sisters. And in reality, I cannot allow the failure of man to drive me away from closeness with Christ.

It’s time for spiritual battle.

Satan’s goal lies in sowing destruction within every rank of God’s church. From the seasoned leader to the new believer. No one is exempt.

Our battle focuses not on a person or institution, but on this present darkness.

I believe spiritual warfare demands of us prayer and action, carried out by abundant humility. We must stand for righteousness and justice, with view of our own brokenness.

TODAY friends, I ask you pray and take action.

Pray protection for your pastors, priests, congregations and parishes. Not with fear, but with hope.

Contribute towards a home and church culture who deeply loves by practicing accountability — an opportunity to safely share yes, this is good and no, this is not.

Pray for the many victims of abuse, both known and unknown.

Ask God how you might respond to their needs.

Pray for Christ to guard your own heart, for we can be deceived by it.

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.  

: :

May our hearts be moved by what breaks our heavenly Father’s heart.

 

 

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    the end of a season :: summer snapshots

    Narrowing down our summer to a few photos is certainly NOT an easy task!

    What an enjoyable, relaxing and memorable set of days. The kids soaked up a good mix of work and play, learning and growing in new skills, and just enough boredom to spur a creative project or impromptu park picnic.

    For Mom, our schedule offered me regular pockets of alone time. My introvert self felt fed with plenty of reflection and journaling this summer. Needed as I processed next steps for myself and our family.

    I also read several fiction books my readers recommended and spent lots of quality time deepening friendships.

    In between relaxing and memory-making, I was uber productive! Many decluttering and organizational projects got crossed of my list (and dare I say I had a fairly large list). I’m never quite done with tidying up, but I’ve also learned to label things good enough and move on.

    This season moves along to the next one.

    The trail of paperwork following sports, theatre, homeschool co-op classes and the like marks new days up ahead. Our routines reflect prepping for earlier wake times and fresh activities on the calendar. It’s time.

    Ah, but summer…you were SO good to us!

     

     

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      YOUR Summer 2018 fiction recommendations!

      As mentioned in a previous post, I appreciated hearing from readers about their favorite fiction reads.

      I decided to gather ALL titles into one post! Several suggestions caught my attention and I hope to read many this summer. Maybe you’ll find some fresh reads?

      In no particular order, here are YOUR fiction book recommendations:

      (CLICK on book cover to view an Amazon description)

      I chose these fiction books to start:

      The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah — several summers ago I came upon this author by accident and LOVED the books I read. The Great Alone currently has 42 holds at my library, but I am third in line! ☺️

      All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr — I’ve heard so much about this title so it rises to the top for starters.

      Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate — along with a reader’s recommendation, I saw this book on three other ‘Favorite Reads’ lists. Time to try it out.

      : :

      Thank you for sharing these suggestions!

      I plan to update on my Facebook page thoughts after reading — catch me over there.

       

       

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        ten things I’m loving right now

        Just sharing some current faves:

        Your fiction book recommendations!  Thank you for sharing via Facebook, comments and email several book titles for me to consider. I still have non-fiction titles on my list,  but my summer will include more fiction! I plan to share your suggestions in a future post — stay tuned.

        The Greatest Showman soundtrack. Can’t. Stop. The kids and I have listened over and over (and over) again. It’s rare I enjoy every song from a movie…until now. Love, love.

        Gifted plants and flowers. Do you ever whisper a wish? Nothing you really need but something your heart definitely wants? As I looked over the spring budget, it didn’t include room for sprucing up the outdoors. We have lots of empty beds around our rental which could benefit from some TLC.

        So when a friend offered her extra perennials I said YES!  Then Mother’s Day eve I found a box of flowers on my porch…delivered anonymously. Well, thanks God!

        my cute helper!

        Formal Dinner memories. My high school girl really wanted to host a fancy dinner for her friends. I completely fell in love with the idea and we picked a date. It soon became obvious everyone’s schedules were full, until my girl had a NEW idea.

        ‘Mom, now stay calm while you consider this. But could we change the dinner to…um…this Sunday night?  She asked on the Monday before. ‘It works for everyone! I will help with everything!’

        I said NO. Then YES. Then at times wished I had stuck with NO.

        A huge writing deadline loomed ahead.

        My aunt passed away suddenly the Friday before her dinner. I cooked up lemon garlic chicken and twice-baked potatoes while searching for cheap tickets to the funeral. We realized we didn’t have enough dishes and had to borrow.

        But I am so very glad I said YES. Some memories are worth the bit of crazy.

        Bonus points — my girl did help with everything! The dinner budgeting, planning and executing counted towards her Family & Consumer Science credit. Homeschool Mom win! ?

        This quote. I agree so much. (photo credit: happyplaceplanning)

        Frugal deals and freebies. The most money-saving thing a person can do is not spend of course. I do love finding great deals and saving money when I have to or want to make a purchase. It’s a passion of mine which I find life-giving; feels like I’m beating the system or something.

        Green smoothies and salads. My body has been craving more plant-based foods recently, so I’m trying to roll with it.

        A simple facial spray. Speaking of craving, my skin felt so dry and in need of extra moisture this winter, kind of unusual for me. A friend recommended this hydrating spray to use throughout the day. I found it so helpful!

         

        This text from my college JUNIOR. She finished sophomore year!! How can this be? Four semesters of Dean’s List definitely makes me proud, but it’s more.

        Our family suffered a deeply difficult year. While college life keeps her somewhat removed, the impact on everyone felt significant. SO proud she moved forward anyway.

        **By the way, stinking proud’ comes from my southern upbringing. Texans just speak this way.**

        My selfie. No makeup, no filter? No way! I would have said before. But that was then…this is now.

        I have professional headshots happening this summer. Seems the windblown hair & beach background pic floating my blog & social media pages for SIX years now (and magazines, other blogs…oy!) just won’t cut it moving forward as a writer. I guess it’s time to come out from behind the camera.

        So that’s what I did here. Kinda like this pic.

        ::

        And you…any favorites these days?

         

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          What is salt floating? My sensory deprivation experience

          In past years I’ve enjoyed the occasional massage, especially deep tissue or hot stone. These were usually gifted for some celebration and I cannot recall any bad experiences.

          Massage done well is incredibly soothing to tired and tight muscles, something I struggle with in my shoulders especially. Anything focused on relaxing the body seems a good idea for me!

          But when Christmas offered me a generous salt floating present, I found myself hesitating. My biggest fear? Being enclosed in a pod with NO light or sound.

          After the entire experience however, I’ll definitely try salt floating again!

          What is Floating?

          Floating involves being in a large pod with magnesium water (epsom salt water). The goal is short term sensory deprivation (no light, sound, touch, smell) in water designed to make you fully buoyant. The water matches your body temperature.

          Floating offers less external stimuli, which in turn promotes deep relaxation in your body — the brain isn’t processing all that stimuli. A typical session lasts one hour to 90 minutes.

          The concept isn’t new. You can read more about the history of floating here.

          Benefits of Salt Floating

          Regular floating is said to have many benefits, including:

          • improved sleep patterns
          • pain relief
          • stress reduction
          • anxiety relief
          • improved skin and hair
          • my addition — just a PAUSE in your busy day!

          The benefit I found most interesting is a serious boost in magnesium. The water is extremely saturated with epsom salt (so it’s basically impossible NOT to float).

          Magnesium is necessary for hundreds of body reactions — and we usually get too little of it. Read more info on magnesium needs and benefits here.

          My Sensory Deprivation Experience

          As mentioned, I was a bit freaked at the thought of a dark room, a dark pod, with no sound around me. Could I just float there listening to my heartbeat for a whole hour!?

          I arrived 15 minutes before my appointment, signed a waiver and entered the salt float room. Basic instructions came next — shower before entering the pod, put in earplugs, remove makeup and then OPTIONS were offered!

          You could keep the pod open or closed to whatever level comfortable. If too open however, the water felt cooler.

          There was an option for music at different volumes, and also soft light of various colors within the pod. The room went dark upon the session’s start, but the pod could have light.

          Hallelujah.

          light and volume buttons!

          I chose to fully close the pod (warmer water!), and keep the soft blue light you see above on. At first music was helpful, then distracting. About 15 minutes in I turned it off.

          Floating came easily…the salt water literally kept me up with no effort on my part. It didn’t feel gritty or slimy, two things I expected.

          My mind wandered for some time and then I fell asleep. One hour felt like a few minutes!

          The session ended with a message to leave the pod. Two minutes later, the filtration system went to work.

          While I imagine just one session won’t change your life — I DID sleep really well that night! My body felt relaxed overall for the few days afterwards (particularly those shoulder muscles).

          Salt floating feels like something I would do again and consider including as part of regular self-care.

          Let me know if you’ve tried it!

           

           

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          • Marci@TheHomeschoolScientistMay 8, 2018 - 11:13 pm

            There is a spa near us that offers the salt float and I have been so curious about it. I may have to try it out. I was concerned about being bored or claustrophobic!ReplyCancel

          • DanieleMay 9, 2018 - 4:51 pm

            Try it out Marci! ☺️ReplyCancel

          • JamieMay 9, 2018 - 8:00 pm

            Thanks for sharing. I’ve wondered about this and have had the same thoughts you did beforehand so now MAYBE I’ll give it a try sometime!ReplyCancel

          • DanieleMay 10, 2018 - 3:30 pm

            I can understand the hesitation Jamie!!ReplyCancel

          what I’m currently reading & why I need to read more FICTION!

           

          I am currently reading a LOT of great books!

          No, not the entire stack above — just 2-3 three titles in there. ☺️

          In just one month I’ll wrap up a two-year spiritual direction course and several months afterwards, a spiritual transformation course.  These offered me dozens of great reads on soul care, patterns of restful living, the Enneagram, relationship with God, self and others…and MUCH more.

          I’ll continue soaking in the messages of each book and article read, and the retreat sessions attended. All this interaction impacted me in significant ways. The transformation experienced so far in my life feels amazing.

          I enjoy God in ways unknown to me before. I welcome his delight in me (this comes in baby steps).

          My personal relationships continue to deepen as I practice staying open to community. I’ll always lean towards introversion, being an Enneagram 5 and INFJ on Myers-Briggs. Still, I found I really enjoy people (groups, outings, etc) more than I thought!

          I feel more confident, less afraid of making mistakes, and more aware of how I contribute to a healthy or not-so-healthy environment around me. My passion for empowering/giving voice for the underprivileged or marginalized, especially women and children, has grown stronger within.

          Soooo much goodness from these programs! Really, so much goodness from wholeheartedly pursuing God.

          Some titles in these pictures I suggest reading within a course or alongside supportive coaching. Unless you have experience in the lingo and context of spiritual direction or transformation, the information shared could fall flat.

          I certainly would have received it this way a few years ago.

          I also did not enjoy every book — some I questioned the theological background and others were simply too dry for my taste.

          That said, several books rise to the top as great for reflective reading:

          David Benner books

          The Gift of Being Yourself

          Surrender to Love

          Ruth Haley Barton books

          Sacred Rhythms (highly recommend)

          Invitation to Solitude and Silence

          Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership (for those involved in Christian ministry)

          All this deep spiritual reading benefitted my life in BIG ways…

          …but I’m ready to put away some learning this summer and chill with light-hearted fiction.

          This feels a huge statement for me to make. I typically read parenting, theological, educational, and nutritional types of books. I LOVE to learn. But my brain needs a pause.

          So if there are book titles or authors you recommend — please email them or comment below. This girl rarely roams the fiction part of a library or bookstore; I clearly need help.

          Maybe this summer I’ll update on great fiction titles read! ?

           

           

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          • Christa UptonApril 23, 2018 - 3:59 pm

            Those books sound good!!! I LOVE that you have a passion for giving voice to the marginalized. I do, too. (I am ENFJ. 🙂 Similar to you only extroverted. 😀 )

            Fiction–anything by Jan Karon! Such sweet books with a lovely grace-filled Christian orientation.ReplyCancel

          • DanieleApril 24, 2018 - 9:26 am

            Thanks Christa, appreciate the recommendation!ReplyCancel

          • Debra EApril 25, 2018 - 1:30 pm

            I recommend Elizabeth Goudge. I particulary enjoyed “The Scent of Water”, “The Little White Horse, and “The Dean’s Watch”ReplyCancel

          • DanieleApril 26, 2018 - 8:16 am

            Thanks Debra! – I’ve heard the Scent of Water is a great read.ReplyCancel

          • ElizabethMay 16, 2018 - 6:51 pm

            Hi, Daniele!
            A few fiction favorites I’ve read recently are The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh), Last Christmas in Paris (Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb), Before We Were Yours (Lisa Wingate), and A Fall of Marigolds (Susan Meissner). Although it’s not fiction, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot) was also fascinating. I’d be interested to know what others recommend, too! Love, ElizabethReplyCancel

            • Daniele @ Domestic SerenityMay 19, 2018 - 8:49 pm

              Thank you Elizabeth! I’m going to compile all the recommendations I’ve gotten and put them in a post. ☺️ Appreciate you sharing some titles.ReplyCancel

          encouragement for tough times

          Right now, almost all my closest and dearest friends are dealing with tough times, difficult news.

          The last several weeks brought phone calls, emails, messages and texts which quite literally took my breath away. I heard of a troubling medical diagnosis, a stepdad’s sudden death and for another friend, a daughter’s death. There are upcoming surgeries and a surgery gone wrong.

          I can hardly find words to describe the emotions — theirs or mine.

          So I listen. I cry. I write, call, text back an I’m so sorry this is happening and I do what is possible practically, if anything.

          These women are true rocks of friendship, the best kind. Gratefulness doesn’t begin to describe my thoughts towards each of them, especially for their active presence in my life this past year. My heart aches for their pain.

          The JOY of GOD has passed through the poverty of the manger and the torment of the cross; and SO — it is unconquerable, irrefutable.  

          Dietrich Bonhoeffer

          : :

          God’s joy in our life can feel dimmed or snuffed out by life circumstances. However strong our faith, experiences on this side of eternity can just plain knock us over. At times nothing or no one could prepare us.

          The pain, questions, doubts feel large and God feels small.

          If you too friend face tough times… may the quote above offer HOPE.

          As you grieve (because it’s necessary) and as you wrestle with questions (also quite necessary), may your soul know nothing can conquer the love and joy of God towards you, for you, in you.  It’s indestructible. 

           

           

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            spiritual refreshment in the gardens

            Recently a friend and I spent the afternoon at Longwood Gardens, followed by Japanese food indulgence (no guilt!).

            We both needed a break from winter and I needed distraction from an ongoing court case. Rooms of flowers, plants and extraordinary arrangements of both seemed a good idea — and we were right!

            I relaxed incredibly within 15 minutes. This took me by surprise somewhat. For days afterwards I thought of how the gardens impacted me…how refreshed I felt spiritually.

            Growing up, I couldn’t stand being outside. Blame it on Texas heat or my introverted tendencies back then to curl up and read a book…indoors.

            While I spent a fair amount of time playing outdoors with my sisters, it certainly wasn’t my favorite activity. But as an adult I’ve learned how much I really do enjoy long walks in the woods, strolling through a garden, sitting by a body of water or just hanging out in my backyard.

            Now it’s common for me to pray, journal or read in any of these locations. I almost always feel energized both emotionally and spiritually!

            The Longwood experience reminded me I need to include this God-nature-rest-reflection time during the winter season as well as the summer.

            Instead of delaying activity which deeply refreshes my spirit, I plan to include indoor gardens as part of my winter self-care.

            My soul will thank me.

             

             

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              1.15.18

              Like most of the country, it’s been COLD around here.

              Then warm again with coats unnecessary; then frigid temps once more. An odd turn of weather considering the month of year. Personally I could welcome spring any day, but the REST winter provides I so enjoy.

              Snippets of time find me organizing. Not exactly restful, yet helpful.

              It’s a story for another time, this current need to bring order. Sorting and decluttering through the created chaos left by another feels altogether different than my normal post-holiday purge.

              But purge and organize I do.

              I’ve decided cast iron pans a necessity in my kitchen. How did I ever cook without them?

              Even when I accidentally left a pan ‘out to dry’ and it rusted by morning, all was well after a quick restoration process. Trusty, these pans.

              I still find extended kitchen time such a gift. A way to knead, bake, saute and cook my way through thoughts — and even time to pray.

              No separation of the sacred and the secular – truth?

              Our work offered as prayer suggests cooking and cleaning a pathway to God, one avenue of connection. The everyday tasks we must do take on fresh perspective.

              If you struggle with when to have ‘quiet time’ and when to care for household chores and the kids and the… well, perhaps inhale and exhale this thought:  offer your work as prayer. Pray as you go.

              The new year offers me new planners! Call it extensive or excessive, but three planners are in regular rotation.

              I’m going on my fifth year with an Erin Condren Life Planner (top navy blue), using a neutral hourly layout. For $10 off your first purchase of anything on the site, feel free to use this affiliate link.

              For a little more on the other planners, Emily Ley (middle) and the Sacred Ordinary Days liturgical planner (bottom)see my Instagram post until more details come to the blog.

              Yes there is Nancy.

              We more naturally gravitate towards a need to hold one or the other. Particularly in America, it seems we rush grieving and contemplating our losses (or allowing others to do the same).

              But there is hope. We can be freed to hold both.

              : :

              Hoping your 2018 start has been pleasant, even if cold!

               

               

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              • Christa UptonJanuary 20, 2018 - 2:56 pm

                I love that idea–pray as you go. I am going to do this. I also love cast iron pans. 🙂ReplyCancel

              • danieatdomesticJanuary 29, 2018 - 8:27 am

                Thanks for commenting Christa!ReplyCancel

              • JordynMarch 15, 2018 - 1:10 pm

                I love what you are doing, Daniele!!ReplyCancel

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              Daniele Evans