God in the Darkness

It will come as no surprise to frequent readers to learn that I have lately struggled with depression. I'm certain I'm genetically predisposed to such bouts, and that predisposition has been fed copious amounts of environmental stress to trigger a dark season. For the longest time (and it has seemed the longest time), I kept operating under the assumption that there was something I needed to do or say or pray to turn on the light. Slowly, I have begun to recognize that it is better to know that this season isn't one to be pushed away under my own power and that God is with me in the dark. I really am feeling better, but it's still more than a little murky most days, a delicate balance of light and dark. Sharing (in person) with people who walk this way, too, often helps me to understand better myself. We wait together for the sun to rise.

I recently spoke with a woman in her early 30s who was surprised to find herself in an extended period of darkness. She and her husband had suffered a job loss, a pregnancy loss, and a move resulting in loss of support — all in the last two years. She goes through the motions of a practicing Catholic, but she feels as if God has abandoned her.

“When the calendar changed,” she said, “I thought now it will get better. Now God will show up in a new year. Now He’ll make good things happen and we’ll know He’s real and He loves us and maybe we’ll understand His plan. Now, I’ll feel God. Then, something else happened and I felt nothing but alone.”

It is a rite of passage perhaps to learn that life isn’t happily ever after and that extended periods of darkness are just as likely as extended periods of light. Perhaps the dark is precipitated by a series of unfortunate events as in the case of my friend. Or, perhaps, it’s the dark night of the soul that settles when one feels the loneliness that comes with at once knowing God exists and feeling distanced from Him.

Mother Teresa, who will soon be canonized, experienced prolonged bouts of profound feelings of abandonment. She confided, “Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love — the word — it brings nothing. I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.” Yet, she is remembered as a woman of cheerful service. How does one reconcile the darkness within in order to bear light to the world?

With that first dark night (and maybe with several that follow), it is entirely possible to stumble around futilely wondering why the Lord of light has abandoned you there. In the black, in the pain, in the unrelenting questioning, the key to survival is to recognize that the times that are hard beyond imagination are not devoid of God.

God is there in the darkness. He’s just as present as He is in the light. You don’t have to know why it happened or how it ends or whether it’s all going to work out in a way you consider favorable. You don’t have to hear answers to your questions. As Ravi Zaccharias so succinctly put it recently, “Having the answers is not essential to living. What is essential is the sense of God's presence during dark seasons of questioning.”


When something is essential, it is absolutely necessary. We cannot survive unless we know God is present in the black. Something slowly dies within us unless we can rest in the presence of God even in darkness. What is needed on our behalf is not the wit or the strength to find the switch and turn on the lights so that we can see Him. On the contrary, we can have peace in the darkness only when we learn be still with Him in the dark.

Are you burned out, boxed in, and beat up?


I have something for you!

If you are feeling weary, frayed around the edges, or even falling apart at the seams, let's make something beautiful together. If you go to bed exhausted and wake up tired and it all seems like to much to do, let's journey together to a place of rest and peace. If you are willing to dig deep, do some soul-work, and seize the abundant joy that is Easter, let's begin the restoration. First, let me share some thoughts from last year, when Restore was first introduced.

This year, the time together has been expanded to include all of Lent and Easter week. When we begin, it will be mid-winter February. We'll stay together throughout march and emerge victorious in early April. We've added new written content and new podcasts (in addition to all the wildly popular original podcasts). There will be some beautiful new printables joining the ones we offered last year. The price will remain the same as last year and those of you who subscribed then and have told me you really can't wait to do it again can come back at a reduced price. (Check your email on Saturday for a discount code!)

Still not sure this is for you? Perhaps it would help to hear from women who traveled the path last year.

I'm so glad I invested in the workshop. I initially found it hard to justify spending money on myself, and questioning whether I was really experiencing burnout. From the very first essay, I was in tears realising this was exactly what I was experiencing and I wasn't alone. Every aspect of the workshop ministered to my soul and I'm so glad I now have all the resources available to revisit when I recognise the triggers of burnout resurfacing. I can't thank you all enough for your faithfulness in putting all this together - and I have a friend in mind that I will be recommending the workshop to. --Annette

Restore changed my life. I did not realize that there were other women out there with the same struggles of keeping God in the forefront. During this retreat, I found myself more calm and focused on what really mattered. I am so looking forward to getting back to that place as the accountability with the group really keeps me on track --Ashlee

Restore was such a gift for me. Coming off of the holidays and major changes in my life, I didn't realize how weary and spiritually parched I had become. Restore did exactly what it's name says, it helped to restore my joy, re-set my priorities, and renew my relationship with the Lord. Knowing a new devotion, video, and focus was in my inbox actually gave me courage to face the day and the community of women that formed was precious and sweet. Elizabeth and Joy are one of us--moms that have been in the trenches for quite a few years, who have weathered storms of motherhood, and who fight for their own joy daily. They put together a workshop that truly reached my heart and blessed. Can't wait for the next one! --Betty

Because I already felt like I was drowning, adding Restore to my packed schedule felt impractical and pointless. In fact, during the entire workshop, I was unable to implement any of Elizabeth's wise advice beyond the first few days. Nevertheless, just reading her gentle words daily was like a healing balm to my soul, and over the next several months following the workshop, I began to find balance in caring for my family and myself. Elizabeth has blessed me with a new understanding of my own dignity and worth and countless practical strategies to live out my vocation as a wife and mother with peace and joy. --Jenny

Although I'm not a wife or mother (yet), I have benefitted so much from Restore. After becoming broken in every aspect of my life (right down to broken bones), I needed help to put even the most basic parts of my life back into perspective. This retreat gave me the daily guidance and traction that I needed to begin to care for myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The lessons from Restore continue to inspire me and remind me that I glorify God when I make time for things that bring me life and joy. --Kate

Click here to take the first step.

Life Coach











  • I noted with the relief the email from Stephen's team informing me that we had overpaid fees and had a credit. Then, I ignored the note from Nick's team reminding me of the October payment. I figured the credit would cover it. Nick's team manager gently pointed out they were on two different teams. Oh, yeah. Right. Got it.
  • I parked the van in the driveway, gathered up my purse and the groceries and headed for the house.  Stephen asked if maybe I'd want to turn off the car and bring the keys in with me. 
  • I set aside an hour in the morning to cut out a dress to sew for Katie. Four hours later, I still hadn't finished. Ten pieces, total, and I just couldn't get it done. There I sat. Scissors, pins, fabric. Moving in slow motion. 

My friend Megan checked in late last week to see how we all were doing. I told her I needed a life coach.

A life coach. Someone to assess the situation, design a training program, nag me until I get it done. I need a life coach. 

Or do I? What if I were to be my own life coach? What if I stepped outside of myself and devised a plan? Surely, I can do this. I know--in my head--how to pull out of a deep rut. I've written an entire chapter in a book and countless posts on how to battle back from burnout. I know this stuff. 

This time? This feeling of being wrung out from grief and beside myself with worry over really big things? Why not apply the formula?

Prayer. Definitely. My prayer life is way off-kilter. To ease back in and to refine it for this season, I begin with what I know: Divine Office, only Morning and Night Prayer at first, with time spent with an open Bible both times. Then, I can add the other components to my personal prayer. This time, I've also stepped way outside my comfort zone and asked people to pray for some very specific intentions.

Sleep. We are all seriously sleep deprived around here, the kind of sleep deprivation that will require far more than just one good night to get back on track. We need to encourage sleep for one another. A corollary: when an entire family is sleep deprived, a concerted effort must be made to extend grace to one another, to be especially patient, especially kind. Arguments are easily enkindled and easily flare into a roaring fire. We have to make one another aware of favorable burn conditions and be very careful with each other. 

Planner. When the days and the details begin slipping away at an alarming rate, it's time to take my planner in hand and fill it with carefully penciled notes. Everything--every.last.little.thing--must be written. That means every deadline, every date made, every fleeting thought that flits between my ears must be committed to paper. And then the planner sits open on the counter in the kitchen. Don't know what to do next? Check the list. Do the next thing. Just keep moving. Oh, and ...

Laundry. Get the laundry caught up and keep it that way. The rest of my house follows as the laundry goes. If laundry is out of control, most of the housekeeping is scattershot at best. I don't know why this theory proves true, but it always does. Wash clothes. Dry. Fold. Put away. Repeat at least three times a day for the foreseeable future. 

Meals. For two solid weeks, I didn't want to eat, cook, or shop. The grocery store just glared harshly at me and the mere thought of walking those aisles made me shudder with sensory overload. Still, my children expectantly pulled a stool up to the counter every morning and expected to be fed. Recovery begins when meal planning begins. If I plan and then I shop, I will be compelled to cook. I admit to needing to stop at the coffee shop on the way to the grocery store in order to clear this hurdle. I bribed myself with a dirty chai to buy food. But... that was the last of the coffee runs. It's time to take good care of ourselves. Everything into our mouths must be for the noursihment of our bodies.

Move. I have promised the children we will get back to the gym. I keep my promises. 

Then there is the matter of education. We must keep learning, must move forward, even as we process the enormous lessons we are learning about ourselves in this season of grief and growth.

We had a very carefully crafted plan for September and October. There was a death in the family and an abbreviated week of school the very first week. Six weeks later, there was a bigger rupture in the fabric of our daily lives. This time, a shift in direction is indicated, an opportunity to focus sharply on just a few things and give ourselves the time and space for pulling stitches through crisp cotton or slicing apples and tossing them with nutmeg and cinnamon.  We need to pay close attention to soul-nourishing even as we sharpen our minds. 

The abbreviated "school" plan:

Math. I hate it. They hate it. Math must be done daily. End of discussion.

Writing. Stephen will begin the National Novel Writer's Month on November 1. He is spending this week exploring the site and preparing to begin. Mary Beth is going to work on a project with me in November; we are going to try to create an online workshop based on Real Learning. Nicholas, Katie, Karoline, and Sarah will each progress along their individual IEW paths.

Reading. Everyone has at least two novels for the month of November. Instead of being swept into the mini-dramas of Facebook timelines, we are going to be drawn into compelling, timeless stories.

Sarah (to be read aloud to her): Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little

Karoline: Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie

Katie: Caddie Woodlawn and Beany Malone

Nicholas and Stephen: We are listening together to the first in the Mysterious Benedict Society series. Nick and Stephen have the last three to read independently.

Mary Beth: Under a Changing Moon, My Heart Lies South, Flight into Spring

Mama: I have some non-fiction going, but it's going ever-so-slowly. I actually lent David and Goliath to Kristin before really getting started. Beth suggested The Breath of Peace. It's on its way. Perhaps fiction is what I need right now. I might just borrow that fourth volume from the boys' set while I wait for my book to arrive. Or I'll choose one of the three set aside for Mary Beth.

Faith. Afternoons with popcorn and Catholicism. I've invested in the study guide and we are taking our sweet time.

Creativity. Each child has some creative endeavor at hand: a quilt for Grandma for Christmas, a first embroidery project, a long list of Rainbow Loom custom orders, photo album projects, homemade healing salve, and mama's new knitting. These things are key components and handwork is especially necessary to the success of the program.

In the absence of something creative with which to occupy our hands and our right brains, we have a tendency to hold some sort of electronic device and slip into mind-numbing clicking. When we are tired, when we feel disconnected from community and are not inclined to purposefully engage, we can so easily slide into cyberspace and not even notice that we are being sucked down a hole. There, in the hole, feelings of inadequacy and boredom and despondency are nourished far more than they are expunged. It's a cycle of acedia. Genuine connectedness online usually happens within the first fifteen minutes. After that, it's likely a disheartening time-suck.

A creative project to hold forces us away from the internet lull-drug. It gives us something to do with our hands--something that yields to continuous, observable progress. It also offers us an opportunity to sit a bit with our own thoughts. With hands purposefully engaged and minds working creatively, it's a good thing to wrestle a bit with our thoughts, to think them, and sort them, and perhaps successfully resolve them. Silence is healing. November is to be set aside for some purposeful silence. Yes, a bit of yarn, some beeswax, inspiring fabric, and time to touch and to ponder--all good things. 




Same yarn, all three pictures. It's called Opaline and it really does seem to change color with the light. I think the first picture is the truest color. The first ring Mike ever gave me was a tiny opal. I was 16. His dad teased that he needed a magnifying loupe to see the stone. I loved that ring.

This yarn, this project, is a gift.

Cease Driving

{{I apologize in advance for the length of the post. You did ask;-)}}


“I can’t do this.”

    It was the first thought in my brain that morning. The first thought before I mentally scanned my day. The first thought before morning prayer. The very first thought.

    I cannot do this.

    I didn’t know precisely what “this” was. I hadn’t even fully wakened enough to know what day it was. I just knew that whatever “this” was on this day, it was beyond me. I’d walked a long road to get to that morning. I remember the last weekend before our eldest, Michael, had his first soccer game. I knew—as much as one can know without really knowing—that life as I knew it was about to change. It began slowly enough, to be sure: a couple of practices in the neighborhood and a game every week. Michael was nearly four years older than his next brother, so we maintained that pace for a few years, even finding ample time to add Little League baseball to the mix.

    We moved when he was nearly 8. I was pregnant with Mary Beth, my fourth. We moved into one of the first houses in a new town. There was no local soccer. There was no local baseball. I found myself in the car, driving away from our new town in order to provide opportunities for Michael to play. Christian started playing, then Patrick. I was loading babies and toddlers into the car and driving all over the place, including back to the town from which we’d moved. I almost always allotted 45 minutes to an hour of drive time each way. I live in one of the most heavily congested suburban areas in the country. We drove; it’s what we did.

      It didn’t take long to learn that our children are athletically gifted. We sought the best opportunities and they sought us as well. And we always made our decision about a team or a club in light of what they could offer our child, always figuring that we’d work out the logistics.

     When Mary Beth started dancing, we used the same paradigm. At first, the dance commute wasn’t too bad. But as the area grew, that particular drive took on nightmarish traffic snarls. It wasn’t far to go, but it could easily take an hour to get home. In the car with a crying baby or cranky toddler.

    Five years ago, Nicholas and Stephen joined teams in McLean. Without traffic, on a perfect day, my GPS tells me that the field is 40 minutes away. But we usually traveled during rush hour and we tried to avoid the tolls as much as possible. It’s longer. Always longer. They sometimes practiced back to back at the same fields, but not always. And we could usually work out a way to get them there four to six days a week. Almost always. But never without much stress on my end.

    Mike’s father helped in the beginning, until he began to fail and couldn’t make the drive. Michael helped when he was home, but he mostly away at school. Patrick helped the first part of last year when he was on his way to DC (well over an hour each way) to practice. And Christian helped All. The. Time. Christian, who hates to drive as much as I do, helped and helped, and helped. It’s no small irony that Christian was sitting at Nick’s practice when JMU called and told him he’d been offered admission for this fall. With that phone call, he was liberated from driving in northern Virginia.

    We made some wonderful friends in McLean. Last year, Nick’s practices were from 4:30-6:00. Stephen’s were from 8:30-10:00. That’s a whole lot of hanging out in another town time. Frequently, I’d drop the boys at my friend Robin’s house early in the afternoon and then come back home so I could be with the girls at their afternoon activities. This meant I had to wrap up our schooling by 1:00 or so three or four days a week. Robin is a homeschooler and the theoretical plan was for the boys to work at her house, but it rarely worked out that way. They’d go, hang out, play, talk to Robin and her husband Kenneth for hours on end. Robin would feed them dinner and get them to training and they’d wait at her house until Mike picked them up on his way home from work (if he was in town). It’s a system that worked on paper. The paper doesn’t show how much they loved Robin’s family and how much her family loved them. It doesn’t show the other deep bonds formed with families in McLean over the course of five years. It doesn’t show how we loved welcoming babies into Becca’s family and how much we appreciated Brian’s kindnesses. The paper just shows a convoluted “system.”

    Leaving. I was always, always leaving town. In the seventeen years we’ve lived here, I’ve always been leaving. For many years, there was no church here for us. We had to leave. The homeschool co-op was the next town over. Soccer. Baseball. Dance. The library. The only thing that was local was basketball. I always loved basketball season, in no small part because practices were very close and Saturday mornings found me on the bleachers with a friend and neighbor. Other than basketball, though, I was gone. My friends were not local; they were in McLean. Or Herndon. Or Fairfax. And I never really felt “at home” in my town. Seventeen years and I didn’t feel settled.

    In the spring of 2012, Mary Beth was the first to come to her senses. The pressure of commuting and the ill-fitting dance school became more than she could bear. She cried out in the insanity and even though it was very, very late in the dance season, we moved her. To a studio that is five minutes from my house without breaking any traffic laws. Last fall, we let the little girls join her.

    Since Karoline and Sarah were much younger than any of our other children when first they began an activity, I was determined to be there during there classes. We finagled all the driving to and from McLean. The boys were leaving our house around 1:30 some days and I was driving home from Stephen’s training as late as 10:45 some nights. Running. Racing. Striving to fit it all in. When I was at the dance studio, though, I sat. I talked to my neighbors. I had time to make friends. It began to dawn on me that most people connect this way.

    Cease striving.

    Wait! What? Did God just say, “Cease driving?”

    Maybe he did. Stephen was first to change clubs. He lost in the State Cup semi finals to a team in our county. Yep. While we were driving all over tarnation, our county was building good soccer right in our backyard. Stephen’s team was falling apart (this is a phenomenon not uncommon in teams just before the high school years). Most of his friends were leaving to play in a county even further from our home. He was offered a coveted spot on a team that is ranked #1 in the country as I write. His friendships in McLean are deep and lasting, I believe. I know we’ll have to work at maintaining them, but this kid is intensely loyal. Those friends are friends for life.


    I had no intention of moving Nick. Nick was the starting goalie on the State Cup Champion team. He had wonderful friends on that team and so did we. But then there was that morning. The “I can’t do this” morning. And somehow, it all started to fall away. Even though we were well past tryout season, Nick was invited to try out for the team in his age group in Stephen’s new club. I dropped the girls at dance and drove him to the tryout. It took me 7 minutes. I sat with a book while he played. Mary Beth called. Karoline was crying in the background. She never cries. It was clear she was sick (or something). I was there 7 minutes later. If I’d been in McLean, I would have been frantically calling. Could someone at home go get her? Could someone come to McLean to get Nick so I could go get her (it would take me nearly an hour to get to her)? Could Nick stay at someone’s house? In the moments it took me to get from Nicholas to Karoline, I understood what was fueling my anxiety. It was just the steady fear that comes with having no margin. No room for something to come up.

    The reality is that I’ve struggled with fullblown anxiety since last fall. I always have to work to keep anxiety at bay, but since last fall, I’ve been losing the war. Let’s see, last fall: There was the home renovation, Patrick’s final high school semester, planning for Michael’s wedding, a very intense semester for Christian that required hours and hours of my full time and attention, and there was this crazy commuting. I kept striving.

    It is mid-August as I write. This week, I’ve driven pastoral roads to arrive at Nick’s practice. Today, I’m sitting in the parking lot while Nicholas trains. I hope and pray that when practice is over, he walks off the field chatting with his teammates. It’s never good to leave the field alone when you’re twelve. I hope I haven’t wrecked his life because I woke up one morning and recognized that I was in over my head.


    The last of my three big boys to leave will leave home for new horizons this afternoon. All the girls are dancing locally. All the boys at home are playing soccer locally. There will be no pressing college deadlines, at least for this semester. I made a last minute decision not to enroll Mary Beth for dual credit classes. I just need a break from our community college and its incessant demands. Christian’s last year there squeezed every ounce of energy from me. On the morning that I decided not to enroll her, I took Mary Beth with me grocery shopping instead. On the way, we discussed the list her youth minister asked her make. We chatted about this post and that and how I’d write that list if I were her age. All in all, time well spent. At the grocery store, we ran into an old friend. She is the lovely woman in whose home Michael bloomed during high school. She was his art teacher, his best friend’s mother, his Confirmation sponsor. Big hugs. Smiles. And the announcement that she’s going to host art again in that warm, beautiful house. Would Mary Beth and Stephen and Nick like to come? I could answer enthusiastically in the affirmative. There was time in the margin.

    On the way home from the grocery store, the phone rang. It was my friend Leah. Leah and I were pregnant together for the first time back in 1988. We go way back to lazy days of walking babies a couple miles to the park every afternoon because we didn’t have a car. She told me she’d been offered a new job. She’s to be the manager of the brand new library in my town. I admit that I cried.

    It was as if God Himself said, “You need margin and you need community. I knew this about you before you did and I’ve already moved mountains to provide it so that you barely have to leave home.” I’ve spent the last couple of days planning for the academic year. I do so knowing that there will be at least three extra hours in every day. It is rather amazing what this knowledge has done for my creativity in planning. There is still anxiety. I worry about Nick, who left so much in McLean and who is shy and slow to make friends. But Nicholas noticed this summer that our home had a revolving door in front. In and out and in and out went girls of every age from the dance studio. And he noted that he’s never had friends in and out of our house. We were willing to drive to McLean up to six days a week, but rarely did someone drive to us. We all want our house to be the place where friends gather and we are all hopeful that the season for that begins now.

    It’s been nearly 13 years since I had “only” six children at home. It was the year Nicholas was born. I still remember looking at those six gathered around the Christmas tree the day we brought him home. I remember thinking six children was the perfect number. Of course, perfect for us turned out to be nine and God would gift us with soft pink bundles at the end of the line. Nine children at home pushed me to my limit. There is no denying it. The morning I knew I could not do it, I was broken open, flat out spent, poured empty of everything I had. That was the morning I genuinely ceased striving. I surrendered. God had a better plan, a better idea than all my carefully color-coded calendar contortions. And I am resting in Him for the first time in a very long time.


::noticing God's glory

The garden is utterly waterlogged. I was seriously tempted to cover it all with big plastic tarps today. Just way too much rain. Tomorrow, it's going to be all about cutting away a whole lot of yellow leaves-- basil, tomatoes, roses-- lots of waterlogged, fungus-ridden leaves. So sad.


::listening to 

Girls giggling in a room that is nearly perfectly clean and tidy. Sigh...that  was a project. I slowly took every single picture book we owned off the shelves and then reshelved them all neatly and with some sense of order. Such lovely shelves, now. 

::clothing myself in 

An ESPN 20th anniversary T-shirt (that's 14 years old but hasn't been worn until today) and boxer shorts. It's 3:30 on Sunday afternoon. My two little girls have been fever-free for about three hours now. Here's hoping we're on a roll. It's been a long week.  Karoline has had a fever for days and days. Still does...


::talking with my children about these books

Still Shakespeare. Karoline really, truly loves Shakespeare! It's so much fun to watch how engaged she is. The girls (under the influence of Fancy Nancy: Poet Extraordinaire) want to add Poetry Wednesday to our Shakespeare Fridays. I'll dust off these plans, breathe some fresh air into them, and slowly finish out the alphabet of poetry lessons.

And I've begun to slowly page through Inner Excavation. Looks like good inspiration for summer renewal.


::thinking and thinking

about battling back from burnout. I have to admit that I'm burned out. I tried to deny it, tried to defy it. Now, I'm "battling back." Actually, I plan to retitle that chapter in its new edition. "Battling back" sounds like so much work. Instead, I'm embracing renewal. I've got lots of new ideas about burnout. When I wrote that chapter a dozen or so years ago, no one was emailing with team updates every ten minutes. There was no constant barrage of social media. My phone didn't go with me when I left the house. I was thinking about survival in the near term and not necessarily sustainability over the long haul. It just seems like there is so much more noise, so much input.

Ah, but I was also unable to pray the Liturgy of the Hours while sitting in the waiting room outside an college IEP meeting.  couldn't text a friend when I got stuck on the renewal journey. So, it's not all bad. Can the internet be a tool in renewal? I'm pondering that.


::pondering prayerfully

“As an antidote to time-wasting and sometimes even alienating indulgence in superficial media programs,” the document proposed that the students should be “guided to the love and practice of reading, study, silence, and meditation. They should be encouraged, and be provided with the necessary conditions for community dialogue and prayer. This will serve to remedy the isolation and self-absorption caused by the unidirectional communication of the mass media . . .”  [emphasis mine]

as quoted in this great article sent to me by Elizabeth Williams.

::carefully cultivating rhythm


Aimee is my renewal coach. (This might surprise her; I recruited her;-). I texted her on Friday, my first full day without something gridded in the calendar. I truly was at a loss. What to do? I'm not overstating this befuddlement on my part. I'd been so looking forward to this time, but in the wake of an utter adrenaline crash, I couldn't make the simplest of decisions.

She insisted I not look at a clock. Such good advice! I spent the weekend listening to my body's cues and moving within my own rhythm. This wasn't entirely perfectly executed. Two sick little girls definitely dictated many of my movements and I peeked at the clock to time dosing meds. But mostly, I rubbed a lot of peppermint oil and On Guard on the soles of sweet, feverish feet. I sipped tea. I only ate things that would nourish me. I made cleansing, refreshing, clean smoothies. I pulled weeds. I took a nap with Serenity blowing across my pillow (diffuser is here). A nap! A real afternoon nap and I didn't even worry that it would disrupt my sleep at night (it didn't). I soaked in a tub full of Epsom salt and lavender and eucalyptus. I rubbed Balance on my neck and shoulders and feet and palms before working out--every day two or three times a day. Then, I took long showers and then doused myself with Citrus Biss. The rhythm wasn't imposed from without, but grew organically from within.



::creating by hand

Finishing some projects, sewing some buttons, and working up the courage to start cutting pieces for Mary Beth's quilt. 

::learning lessons in

listening to inner cues and making time for self care.

::encouraging learning 

Christian and I got an education in IEP college-style. We visited James Madision University last week and we were introduced to the resources available there. I'm so impressed! He's on his own to tap into those resources--I'm not a part of this picture much at all--but there are resources there and we met some really good people.

::begging prayers

In the last three weeks, three people very close to me have confronted a cancer diagnosis. In the last three weeks, the children of three families close to me have struggled with the realities of new divorces. There are reminders constantly near at hand that we live in a fallen world. We send up our sighs, mourning and weeping. Please, please pray for all!

::keeping house


I promised Aimee I would only "putter" for the near term. There is so much digging in to do here! I did text for clarification when I began the great bookshelf project. There's another bookshelf project awaiting me downstairs, too. The reality is that the way my brain works, bookshelf organizing accomplishes about 80% homeschool planning. So, even though I promised Aimee I wouldn't plan--and I really, really didn't put a single plan to paper--it's all in my head, friends;-).

::crafting in the kitchen 

The boys have been in New England for the Region 1 Soccer Championship. The girls and I have hit the Farmers' Market hard for our meals. There's even a really lovely slow walk to be had there early on Saturday mornings. Katie and I could live solely on vegetables and legumes. She told me--and I agree-- that "beans and greens" is the best lunch ever for summer. Mary Beth is hanging in there and holding me to the promise of caprese salad. Ah, fresh mozarella! Will that be where I cave and eat dairy?






Watermelon, cucumber, lemon, and mint: morning happy in a glass.


greens from our garden with garden rosemary, garlic, and slow cooked beans

::loving the moments

when I awaken feeling rested.

::giving thanks 

for someone who understands burnout and renewal and is gently encouraging recovery.

::planning for the week ahead

I'm planning to blog this week:-). Sometimes, when I'm really running on empty, I don't have the heart to even open the computer. I know that it's time for a shutdown, time to nurture the introvert that I am by shutting off the noise--all the noise. For a few days last week, I didn't touch the computer, didn't check in with social media on my phone, even refused to watch a chick flick with my big girl because I didn't want to make an emotional investment. We watched that movie last night. This afternoon finds me here with you. I'm on my way...

Memories Captured on an iPhone last weekend:

Mike is in Rhode Island with Stephen and Nick. They are playing a tournament in Kingston and staying in Middletown. I was born in Kingston, Rhode Island and I lived in Middletown until I was 8. I wish I were there. There's surely sea water in my veins and I think I might even be able to navigate the way to my favorite seafood restaurant. (On second thought, maybe not. It was a dive that served steamers. My dad always called the place "Dirty John's." As I look back, it occurs to me that that wasn't its real name.) My sweet husband sent me a picture of my old house. And he also sent me pictures of our boys here on hauntingly familiar rocks.

Oh, I miss my men!
But stay, guys. Stay until you've won it all.
We'll pray for you!
Breaking update: the fever has hit Nick in Rhode Island. Game time: 9:30. He's hoping to be like Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals and not like Ronaldo in the World Cup...