flowers

A few weeks ago, I bought flowers for myself for no reason. I like having flowers around. I like looking at them, I like trimming the stems and arranging the blooms, pulling out my vases excites me, having a spot of beauty where I can rest my eyes during the day brings energy and strength.

So I’ve started buying myself flowers. Weekly. It’s now part of the grocery shopping experience.

Flowers felt like an extravagance in the past, but more than that, it came with expectations. That someone else was going to by me flowers. My husband, friends, people who are coming over for dinner.

I see myself as a person who knows what she wants and goes to get it, but somehow when it came to these small things that bring beauty, joy and ease to my life, I treated myself as a consumer and not a creator.

I could consume beauty by joyfully receiving flowers, watching a movie or reading a book, but I couldn’t take ownership for my love for beauty by creating what I longed for. There is a bigger story here about writing, but for now I am sticking with the small lesson. I was created by God, who is the source of creativity that cannot and will not end, and I was given creative strength because my creativity points back to the goodness and beauty of his creative strength. I do not have time these days to hole away for days writing, I cannot paint a masterpiece for an art gallery, there is no time to perfect any creative skill or talent.

But I can do small things every day that remind myself that I am a creator, I have ownership for my life, someone else is not responsible for my desires. For now it means I stop to paint with my boys, I print pretty printables with truth about identity and daily work, I sweep my floor, I make my bed daily, I chop parsley and scatter it on top of soup. These are simple actions that transfer my creative mind into my daily work, it keeps beauty filling my life, and it helps me to keep going.

And for the days when there is no time for anything else, it helps that my vases are full of flowers.

For you there’s a story as well. What do you want to create? What is an idea that has swum around in your mind for a while? Maybe it’s more than an idea? Maybe it needs a life of its own? What small thing can you do this week that would say to yourself and the people around you that your creative self matters?

I’m linking up with The Grove at Velvet Ashes.

Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas
 

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This post is day 16. New to the series? Start here. Thanks to all of you who have shared these posts and commented, I so appreciate it. Do say hello if you’ve been reading or are new. It would be lovely to meet you. If you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.
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 beauty blog
It was a bunch of lavender cut from her garden, wrapped in purple tissue, not a crinkle or crease in the paper. She handed it to me with a smile on her face, A bit of beauty to brighten your week, she said. The packers would come in five days, the physical makings of our life in Stockholm dismantled and put into boxes. Chaos would reign, we knew this, we have moved before.

But there it was all week, the sprigs of lavender in a short glass bottle, muted fragrance swirling around, purple beauty to behold. It was our humble centerpiece for the last Saturday morning pancake breakfast. It was there when the movers filled our living room with packing materials. When everything was in a box in the kitchen, the sun caught the glass and sparkled through the lone bottle standing at the sink.

lavender table

Small? Yes. Some might even say a speck of nothing in a sea of grief, upheaval and chaos. But every time my eyes saw that glass bottle with the lavender poking out, my soul’s rhythm changed, I knew that I was loved and seen by people who love me.

This is the work of beauty. It helps our souls to breathe. We can rest in its presence. When we embrace beauty around us and in us, it frees us to be ourselves, and I have found time and time again that simple markers of beauty unleash this soul freedom in me. On normal days it is my turquoise bowl from Afghanistan, the white window panes, my giant mug. But in the chaos of moving week, these things are not always around to provide comfort.

But the purple lavender spoke peace to my heart and my senses, a resolute monument to the truth that in the middle of the ugliness that moving can be, I can still choose beauty. When there is chaos around, I can choose rest. Freedom is available to me, I do not have to be in control. Beauty is here, I can let go. 

Now it’s your turn: How can you create small moments of beauty in the middle of your busy life today (transition or not)? Is there someone who needs beauty from you today? What can you do for them?

I’m linking up with The Grove, part of the Velvet Ashes community today. 

transition

 Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

This post is day 8. New to the series? Start here. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.

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So you’ve felt angry, the grief overwhelms you at times, there is an unexplicable sadness in your heart when you think about your losses, and then what? How long does it last? How can you get over it? I want to tell you, Expect negative emotions. Accept negative emotions.

I didn’t say to accept negative behavior – for anyone who is wondering – there is no justification for angry words or actions or passive aggressive conversations or hurtful ways of behaving. Those things will always be wrong, requiring humility and repentance to turn from them, and forgiveness to make things right with the people we have wounded.

But negative emotions are different from negative actions. Emotions are feelings caused by our circumstances, and while we cannot allow our life to be determined by them, we have to acknowledge our anger. We have to honor our grief. We can allow our emotions to lead us to places in our hearts that we must face for the work of wholeness to take place in our lives. 

Talk to someone about how you are feeling, preferably not someone who is in the transition with you because they have their own set of negative emotions. It has been crucial for me to find women who are not connected with our transition, friends in Sweden, friends in Germany and friends in other places, to whom I can vent. Irrationally. Negatively. Anything I want to let out, I let it out to them, they are a safe place for these negative feelings. I am angry because I don’t want to move. I am so sad. Life with kids is disappointing and discouraging. Find safe people who can handle the full weight of your emotions but who do not try to fix you or explain your emotions away.

Accepting my negative feelings and acknowledging them to someone else is the door to letting those feelings out of my life.

For those of you who are parents, I want to tell you to expect negative – very negative – emotions and behaviors from your kids during a move. When we moved from Switzerland to Sweden, Big Boy was only two years old. We moved everything out of our apartment, and the boys and I stayed separately at a new place for a week while Husband went to Sweden to start unpacking. Big Boy woke up five to seven times in the night almost every night, and this is after he had been sleeping through the night for well over a year. He woke up more than our newborn did. I was blind with fatigue and frustrated out of my mind. I wish I could tell you I was gracious and patient. I was not. I did not realize how afraid and unsettled he must have been, he had lost his only home and watched his physical life get packed into boxes, and he was apart from his Papa for the longest stretch ever in his life.

This move we’ve dealt with tantrums, defiance, all kinds of controlling weirdness with food and sleep and many other things. Yes, there are certain behaviors we cannot tolerate. But our kids need their fears acknowledged. My sons need to know that they can be sad about leaving their home. They do not need to move on. Right now, it is time to grieve.

house

They need to hear me give words to their emotions when they do not have the vocabulary for it yet, Are you sad because we are not in the yellow house anymore? You are angry because you don’t have your toys here. You don’t want to say goodbye to your friends. You are sad about leaving Sweden.

And they need to hear me honestly express my own emotions about this move. I was getting ready for our going away party by hanging up lanterns when Big Boy came up to me. He was distressed because he had accidentally broken one of his shoes. But I could tell it was something else, he was falling apart completely. We had set out a table of our things that we didn’t want anymore for people to take, and he had asked me several times that afternoon why people were taking our things.

I pulled him into my arms and said, Are you sad because there are things here that we are giving away? Do you feel afraid that we won’t have anything left for us? Are you sad because we are saying goodbye to our friends and to Sweden?

He nodded yes to each question and sobbed in my arms. I held him, and I cried, and I told him the only thing I could, Mommy is so sad, too, buddy. I’m so sad to leave the yellow house and to say goodbye to Sweden.  

Now it’s your turn: Is it difficult for your accept your emotions? What can you do to help yourself feel your feelings?

I’m linking up with The Grove, part of the Velvet Ashes community today. 

transition

 Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas