This summer into fall transition has me reflecting on how our lives ebb and flow during different seasons. Fall is a season of gratitude, thanksgiving and harvest. A time when we rejoice and celebrate the work that has been done. Winter is a time of planning, preparation and stillness. Spring brings growth, cultivation and making a firm foundation for the coming months.
And then there is summer-summer with its overgrown gardens, long days and abundant fruit. Summer is a season of fullness and MUCH.
I used to dread the busy summer seasons and dream of the days when I could just quit it all and snuggle up with a blanket and good cup of coffee.
This Summer I decided to let go of expectations and truly embrace the season. And what I found is that, even in the busiest of season we are called and created not just to survive but THRIVE!
The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
So, as the cooler weather and refreshed rhythms of fall roll in, I’m taking a few minutes to pause on what it looks like to flourish during full seasons.
- Embrace an attitude of abundance and gratitude, instead of lack and complaint.
This is a big one. Last Summer I noticed that every single time someone would ask, “How are you?” I would answer “Stressed, busy, overwhelmed”. What I started to notice is that even if the day was 80% good, when I focused on the 20% of struggle it took over my heart and conversation. Suddenly I was discontent and dreading each day.
There is a verse in 1 Thessalonians that says “pray with out stopping & give thanks for everything” This Summer I took that verse to heart. When I focused on the abundant gifts in my daily life (even thanking God for refining my heart in tough situations), deeper joy was cultivated.
In 2016 I’ve been keeping track of daily grace & gratitude on a calendar. It’s been a simple practice that has transformed my perspective. Every day I’m on the hunt for the gifts He has bestowed upon me.
A flourishing life begins and ends with gratitude friends. Get after it.
Your goals. Your schedule. Your Stuff. Your life.
In May I declared the Summer of LESS. I wanted less stuff in my house, less obligations on my schedule and less expectations in my life. In reality, it was STILL a full season. But the major difference was that I intentionally filled my life, home and schedule with what truly mattered. I cleared my slate to start fresh and slowly added things that brought joy & purpose to my life.
Simplicity is a lost art in our culture of more & busy. But, in simplicity there is freedom. When we say NO today, it makes room for a wise yes tomorrow.
This Summer I simplified in a few ways…
I said NO a lot. I didn’t watch TV in the evenings. I paused on-line dating. I prayerfully considered ministry opportunities instead of saying YES right away. Believe me friends; this was a BIG one for this YES girl.
I embraced the overwhelm and used it for the greater good. Thanks to the wise advice of my friend Diana. On the days I felt overwhelmed I took out the to-do list and looked at it with a fresh eye, then promptly cut 10 items. I tackled that messy dresser drawer and simplified my wardrobe.
I let go of stuff. I made a giant list of every area in my cozy cottage that needed sprucing up and made a limit that it could only take 15 minutes or less. I tackled a small project. My list of 52 areas was tackled one 15 minute increments. Now, it’s September and I have a refreshed heart and simplified home.
I simplified my goals. This Summer I had three major goals. I wrote them on my planner, placed them on my fridge and read them every morning before I tackled the day. There was amazing freedom in simplifying my goals and having less in this season. When opportunities arose, I measured them up to those simplified goals and if they didn’t align, I said no. It was difficult, but there was great freedom and joy in doing a few things well.
- Focus on a few things and do them well.
This has been an ongoing lesson in my life, but over the summer it became a daily motto. Because of a full schedule in my work and personal life, I knew that I needed to be diligent with the time I was given. My goal for the summer wasn’t to accomplish 500 things perfectly, but to do a few things and do them well.
Often we wait for perfect timing to take that trip, start that project or make progress on that goal. When I took a long, hard look at the past few Summers I felt like I had put my life on hold. I didn’t want to risk doing that again, life is to short to wait for perfect timing. I took an adventure to NYC, learned to make artisan bread, continued the Tuesday Taco Truck tradition, took long walks in the wood, launched a new project at ZA, and had that farm-to-table fundraiser I dreamed of.
I didn’t want to wait for perfect to thrive and the key was focusing on the land that God has given me. It can be easy to keep saying yes and suddenly that simplified schedule goes right out the window. We all have different capacities and are in various seasons. Right now, as a single woman I have been blessed with margin and time I won’t always have. My prayer has always been that God uses these years for His glory, and I’m seeing the fruit of that prayer through small steps of obedience. Tiny yeses that align with my gifts and talents shine His light into this world.
And friend, God has given you a dream and specific set of talents and it’s up to YOU to share them with this amazing world. Plant a small seed today, care for it and trust that soon it will flourish into the life you were created for.
4. Prioritize Self-Care.
Self-care is NOT selfish. Say it with my friends….SELF-CARE is NOT SELFISH! Got it, okay good! Believe it or not, we were not created to work 24/7. Yes, God has called us and given us talents to use in this world, but he also created us to rest. When we rest, stop, and reflect we are filled back up.
This year I unabashedly embraced self-care in every way shape and form. Sunday evening baths complete with tea and a good book. Hitting up the local trails and going for a long hike. Making time to journal and pray, especially after long days. Stillness & quiet. Yoga before bed.
And my life was better for it. Making time for what sets my heart on fire fueled not only my work but my heart. I learned quickly that I couldn’t just magically create extra time in my day for self-care, I needed to prioritize it. So, I added it to my weekly schedule. I developed small, simple rythmns that prioritized self care. Even on the busiest of days I tried to do something small that sparked joy in my heart.
I know some of you might be reading this and saying “Good for you Emily, but you don’t understand I don’t even have 5 minutes to myself”. Well friend, if you are reading this I beg to differ (tough love here friends…because I SO want what is best for you!!).
So, stop reading and go make a list of 10 things that spark joy & take 15 minutes or less. Okay, did you go do that? Good…
Now, I want you to pull out your phone or planner or iCal and schedule one thing for tomorrow. You can do it friend. You need to do it friend. Your boss, your family, your friends will be better for it. When we allow our spirits to be filled up, we are able to love others well. And isn’t love what a flourishing life is all about?