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joy of letting goAren’t you loving these interviews with Vicki Caruana, author of The Joy of Letting Go, and Lisa Samson,  who I interviewed last week and who is the creator of the Colors of Hope inspirational coloring book?

They’ve offered a treat for you!17155194_10154303091171723_2711020159173082596_n

If you comment on my blog between now and Easter, your name will go into a drawing for one of their books!

Just be sure to leave a way for us to contact you with your comment. Good luck!

 

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The Joy of Letting Go 2 (College Transitions)

Welcome to Day 2 of the series of interviews with Vicki Caruana, mom, college educator, and author of the new book, The Joy of Letting. (Click here for Day 1.)

Today we explore how a parent’s approach to letting go can help–or hinder–their child’s college success.

Sending a child off to college is no small feat. Our oldest son, Seth, started at community college and then transferred to CSU in Fort Collins, living in the dorms, then back home for the summer, then moving into an apartment. On the SAME DAY his younger brother and I loaded the van with IMAG0049his stuff to drive him to his first apartment, my husband helped our middle son, Stephen, load up the car to head to Fort Lewis College in Durango.

That week there was a lot of teasing mom as my young men caught me crying and wrapped a strong arm around my shoulder while I said repeatedly, “It’s okay for me to be sad, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to go. You are doing exactly the right thing!”

I did receive validation when my dry-eyed husband admitted that he cried a lot of the six-hour drive home after dropping Stephen off!

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My three young men

Somehow we survived. Last spring Seth graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine, and this spring Stephen graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Adventure Education.

I gotta admit, though, that I find the constant transitions of college exhausting. You drop them off (or watch them drive away) and then cry until you can dry your tears. Just when you get used to not cooking for the masses and the house staying clean–just when the  quiet grows less invasive, winter break is around the corner. You are wild with excitement. Cook up a storm. Welcome your children home. Only to have them leave and the house be too quiet again in January.

This cycle continues for years. *sigh*

Jerry and I have had exactly two weeks of no one but us living here in our most recent transition, but even now our youngest is considering moving back home in a few months to save money while he goes to college. Honestly? I love my son and will adore having him here if that is what he chooses, but my heart is tired of the revolving doors of the empty nest process. The transitions are easier than they were the first time, but it still feels like someone is playing tennis with my heart. I think I’m actually (finally) looking forward to the doors opening only when they want to come for a visit.

So, Vicki, as an assistant professor you observe students whose parents’ approach to the letting go process deeply affects the student’s college success. Could you share some positive approaches that help our children succeed in this difficult transition?

Teaching at the college level, I see first-hand how parents approach letting go of their newly minted adult children. I realize that not every 18 or 19 year old is at the same level of maturity when they arrive on campus, so possibly a parent’s approach to letting them go may match that level of maturity. But I’ve also seen students struggle to pry their parents’ hands off of their new found independence. I’ve also seen students crying in the hallway over being incredibly homesick. Like the story I told about Nikki in my book, it’s important that we remember that our presence should not be required in order for (1) our kids’ well-being, and (2) our own well-being. I admit that I desperately miss our now grown sons. I also admit that I really wish they’d move to NY so we could all be together again. I know my mom wished the same thing for her and her children. But I didn’t know how much my mom wished for that until after she died. She not only allowed us to pursue our lives where and when we needed; she did not press her needs ahead of our own – as much as I’m sure she wanted to. I feel that same pressure now. As much as I want our boys close, I won’t let them think I can’t have a happy life unless they are by my side. I focus on supporting them without dictating to them how and where they should live their lives. Not an easy thing to do, but the opposite would be life-sucking instead of life-giving.

What are some things we might do out of good intent that actually holds them back?

Funny you should ask this right now – as I sit here at my computer searching for jobs for our youngest son as I know he is looking to make a change. To be honest, I’m looking here in NY hoping that if I find just the right job for him, he will move here! But I will also tell you that this is an exercise for me that he will not hear about (unless you tell him!). If I do all the research for my kids on a problem they have to solve, then whatever solution appears they will not be invested in. They will then wait on me to do the research in the future and rely on the solution I present. They become passive participants in their own lives. There is a difference between teaching our kids HOW to do something and doing it for them. Whether it’s that science fair project or preparing their resume or applying for college or even challenging a grade with a professor in college (which you really shouldn’t do), you hold them back from being their own advocates. So, I will NOT send my son the three really cool jobs I just found for him right here in my neck of the woods. I will NOT! 😉

You mention that the Journal of Adolescence reported higher levels of depression and less satisfaction in life in college students. It indicated this is a result of our emerging adults having limited opportunities to practice and develop important skills for becoming self-reliant adults. What are some practical things we can do to help our progeny become self-reliant?

College turns out not to be what many of our kids expected it to be. It’s much harder, more isolating, and more challenging than they thought it would be. Many of us have spent a lot of time orchestrating our children’s different spheres of existence. If we ran too much interference in their schooling – most notably their completion of work and projects or challenging grades they earned – then they don’t have those skills when they go to college. If we determined where and with whom they socialized – then they will have trouble finding friends on their own. And if we ensured that they were engaged in activities in which they were guaranteed success, then the challenges at the college level will be both overwhelming and devastating to their identities. Although “But I’ve always gotten A’s” is a common reaction, it won’t change the direct correlation between how hard they work and the grades they earn in college. We need to give our kids opportunities to navigate these waters on their own – in their swimming pool at home before they head out into open waters.

For a lot of us sending our children to college there is a disconnect between our children’s need for some financial support and their need for independence. How do we as parents help our children make the transition to financial dependence without setting them up for failure?

The college financial conundrum! First, let me say that the fact we have this problem is actually a good thing. What I mean by that is that for those of us who do have money to financially support our children for college means we are ourselves doing well. That being said, I am not an advocate for “everyone should go to college.” Not just because it may be cost prohibitive, but because it may not be the right “fit” for every child. A college degree does not equate a job, or a good paying job at that. We have many students who are not academically ready for college, yet are accepted because our society (beginning with No Child Left Behind in the 90s) pedaled the every child should go to college agenda. That aside, life is more expensive for our kids than it was for us. It is harder and harder for a young adult to move out on his own and afford what that entails. Personally, we’re still paying our youngest cell phone bill. The goal, as we’ve spelled it out for him, is that he needs to be financially independent before he decides to marry. He needs to be able to care for himself and pay his own bills before he becomes responsible for someone else. The transition to financial independence begins with us, parents. Passing the baton onto our children so they can run the last leg of their race is important – after all, they’re the ones who will cross that finish line.

Hi Friends, hope you’re enjoying this series as much as I am. Join us on Wednesday for some deep questions around our role in our child’s identity and future.

Here’s a treat for you! Vicki Caruana and Lisa Samson, who I interviewed last week, both offered to do a giveaway. So . . . if you comment on my blog between now and Easter, your name will go into a drawing for one of their books!

Until Then,

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The Joy of Letting Go is available now from:

The Joy of Letting Go 1

 

joy of letting goIsn’t timing interesting? This book came in the mail during wedding week at my house! I’d already read an advanced copy, but I took a break from the bustle of preparation to allow myself a little self care and re-read portions of The Joy of Letting Go*.  I gotta tell you, I love how the author, Vicki Caruana, weaves wisdom with grace. There’s much to be learned in this 52 days of devotional reading, but there is also a healing balm from another mom who understands the angst—and the joy—of the empty nest process.

And it is a process.

I think before it happened to me I thought empty nest was an event. One day our home would be just hubby and me. But I’ve been in and out of the intense goodbyes since 2009 when my oldest graduated highsarah mouths off lol school. Since then we’ve released each of our four children to their own lives, one—or sometimes several—at a time. It didn’t matter if the house was completely empty or if one or more children still called it home, it hurt–and was joyful–every time.

Our oldest son was the first to move out of state, back in 2011, to play competitive hockey on a youth league. Eventually he returned home, only to leave again for 13178674_10208670205207590_4987123835346093213_ncollege. Recently he moved in for a few months during the transition between college and his March wedding.

There was great joy in helping him move into the beautiful apartment he and his bride now share, but even after all the times I’ve said goodbye to this particular child, I found myself weepy as we packed up the boxes. Inside was a jumbled mess of cheering him on, feeling pride for this huge step of maturity he was taking, being glad to get back to just hubby and me at home—and yet grieving once again.

When the wedding day actually arrived, peace and joy defined my emotions. 19My heart delights in my new daughter, and I celebrated! But even that was not without many tears, tears that are hard to define. Tears full of joy and pride. Tears of transition.

 

Empty nest is not an event.

It’s a process.

If you’re a mom with kids between the ages of 17 and 27, I bet you know what I’m talking about.

I hope the next few blog posts will encourage you, validate you, and sprinkle wisdom into your letting go process. I’m excited to share my friend Vicki with all of you. Vicki, a mom and college educator, has a lot to offer us.

Thank you, Vicki, for taking the time to write a powerful book that helps moms like me as we attempt to give our children wings cheerfully, while still wiping the tears. I’m looking forward to digging in a little deeper.  Let’s jump right in!

In your book you say that letting go is a cumulative process. Can you expand on this?

I realized, especially now as I look back, that we’ve been letting go of our boys since the day they were born. The moment my husband, Chip, cut the umbilical cord we had begun the process of letting go. We should be grateful that it is a cumulative process and not a one-time event. Little by little is so much better than all at once. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle. All the skills needed for a child to independently and with confident balance to ride a bike are fostered well before that solo ride.

There’s a quote at the beginning of one of the daily readings that says, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened” (Often attributed to Dr. Seuss). I find myself experiencing great joy and tears at the same time. Can you talk a little about natural emotion and how to keep processing the joy of letting go without denying the grief?

Experiencing great joy and tears at the same time is a uniquely human emotional response. Think “tears of joy” – those particular tears are a mix of happiness of your child’s accomplishment and sadness that they didn’t need you to accomplish it. It is not a paradox; it is a healthy, life-giving response. It is also part of living in the moment and not lamenting over the past or being anxious about the future. We can hold both joy and sadness in our hands with equal weight.

I loved this sentence in Day 3 of your book: “When deciding how and when to let go or at least loosen your grip, make sure your decision is based on what they can and can’t handle and not on what you can and can’t handle.” Why is this important?

From my experience as a mom and as an educator who works with families of college age students, I see this happen all the time. I remember when our first son was learning to drive. Although I was more available to be the one to practice driving with him, I just couldn’t. I get anxious enough when Chip is driving, let alone when a 16 year old is driving! I remember thinking that I needed to be sure that my own anxiety didn’t stain our son’s confidence to drive like the blueberry stain I couldn’t get off of a favorite blouse and can no longer wear. Some stains can be coaxed out of the fabric, but others are permanent.

You challenge readers with the following: “Where are you on the countdown to the big launch? Look for ways to green-light progress and not stop the clock.” Could you give my readers a few green-light suggestions?

Everyone’s “launch day” is a little different. Remember how we talked about this as a process and not an event, but there are some moments along the way that you can claim as green-light moments on this journey. Consider the different ages and stages of your kids right now as you read this. Whether they are four or fourteen or even twenty-four, there are times when you can say “yes” and let them do something by themselves when you’re natural instinct might be to say “no.” At four, they can walk to the curb and put the mail in the mailbox – by themselves (as you watch from the front door). At fourteen, they might be able to travel with someone other than their own family (maybe on a school or church sponsored trip). And at twenty-four, they can and should be making their own doctors’ appointments and filing their own tax returns (without your help or prodding – although I’m still struggling with NOT reminding our youngest about his tax return even at the writing of this post!). Look for the green-light moments. You may see them right now as either yellow (for caution) or red (for stop) moments; but unless they are against the rules, we can choose to change them from yellow or red to green. If we’re going to be life-giving in our letting go, we have to remember that “green means go.”

What are some things we might unwittingly do that stops the clock in our children’s progress of independence?

There are a couple of ways we might unwittingly stop the clock in our children’s progress toward independence. First we make them the focus of our happiness and well-being above all else. Although I believe that being Christopher and Charles’ mom is the most important and most satisfying job I’ve ever had, if the goal is to work yourself out of a job when raising children, then this can be a problem. No one likes being out of work – ask my husband, Chip. Admittedly, for many women being a mom is our identity and when that identity is threatened we move to protect it. Those moves can stop our children’s progress toward independence. Also, we might find ourselves letting go too soon. In some circumstances it is too early to let go. We may find ourselves pushing our kids forward into adulthood because either we’re proud of their early accomplishments and believe in the sooner is better attitude, or we get caught up in the excitement of what comes next and push them into situations for which they’re just not ready. You may have been a great swimmer and loved the water by the time you were ten, but that doesn’t mean your child is or will be. If we push them into the pool believing they’ll naturally learn to swim before they’re ready, then they might instead become afraid of the water and decide to remain on the shore for the foreseeable future.

Thank you, Vicki!

Friends, we’re just getting started with this topic. The interview with Vicky about the joy of letting our children go grew as I asked more and more probing questions. Next week, we’ll have several posts picking Vicki’s brain about releasing well. On Monday we talk specifically about releasing our children to the college journey.

Until Monday,

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*The Joy of Letting Go is on sale today at CBD

Pondering With a Coloring Book 2

So yesterday I posted about how unhappy I was with my color choices as I started a new page in Lisa Joy Samson’s Colors of Hope (on sale today on CBD). I mentioned that as I colored the  Lord revealed to me  thoughts about being creative and brave and willing to try new things in life.

Following is what I pondered as I continued coloring that particular page:

I’m still not done with this coloring page or its accompanying verse (When you call out to me and come to me and pray to me, I’ll hear you), but I gotta say, I’m loving how this is coming together–even the yellow and blue I didn’t like at first.

Today three things went through my head as I colored and chatted with Jesus. The first was simply joy. I think the happy colors brought that out! I worshiped, with little praise songs freely bouncing around in my head. I wanted to celebrate His creativity, love, power, and beauty. This mixed with the ponderings I posted yesterday led me to think about what it looks like to be a follower who surrenders fully, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, without forgetting that life has other gardens, too. Beautiful Eden gardens where we enjoy bounty and beauty and walk in intimacy with our creator.

I want to understand how to live as one who walks in surrender when called to hardship or a season of sacrifice–or even to live without getting angry at God when life sends me a curve ball.

AND I want to be a joyful woman who is adventurous and lifts her face to the breeze. Free. Focused on the glory of the life God desires for us. Believing in His goodness.

The second line of thought was about perspective. As I worked around the edges of my coloring page, I saw previous work differently. I was able to see little flaws I hadn’t noticed and fix them. They didn’t bother me. At this stage of the process I was far enough along to simply handle them. No stress. And as more spaces were colored I started getting a sense of the joy of the whole picture and how it fit together, not just the unfinished parts that made no sense at first. I don’t think I have to explain either of the metaphors popping out there!

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The third pondering was simple joy in God’s provision for play and refreshment as I color. In this season of my son’s upcoming wedding, my other son’s graduation, and my efforts to meet a May 1st book deadline, I’m incredibly grateful to the Lord for leading me to play through this devotional coloring book. What delight to see the happy colors, to be creative without need for perfection or plan, to just hang out with him.

The last many years He’s often pulled me out of my more serious approach to time with just the two of us. I’m learning to rest in His wisdom in leading our relationship. There are seasons for all kinds of relating with the Lord, and I love the deeper study times as well as the intensive prayer and journaling times, but He knows I can be too serious, too responsible, so He pulls me out for long walks or gives me a coloring book and asks me just to be in His presence.

To chat or not.

To play.

Isn’t our God good?!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this three blog series about the joys of coloring and the things Lisa and I learned while interacting with Colors of Hope. Next week I’ll be talking about navigating empty nest as I interview Vicki Caruana, who wrote, “The Joy of Letting Go.” This book releases April 1, no foolin’! Receiving an advanced copy of her book in the mail the week my oldest son married his beautiful bride was quite timely. (I hope to also blog about the wedding soon. It was a glorious day full of joy and peace! There is joy in letting go. 😉 )

Until Tomorrow,

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PS If you’re interested in hearing more about my journey out of the “quiet time” box of my past and into more freedom to be playful with the LORD, you can read about it at the end of my book, Soul Scents: Bloom, available now on Amazon.

Pondering with a Coloring Book 1

Yesterday I posted an interview with Lisa Joy Samson,  who created the beautiful Colors of Hope coloring book. It reminded me of some coloring epiphanies I had, so I thought I’d share them with you.

The first one was written a few weeks ago as I turned to the coloring book for gentle meditation and peaceful time with the LORD in a season where life seemed busy. Happy, but busy and in need of some quiet stress relief. I shared my thoughts on Facebook, but I thought maybe you’d like to see them too.

Hope it blesses you today.

Pondering 1 ~
So you know how sometimes you have a sense that the Lord is nudging your spirit? I think He’s offering me a coloring epiphany. lol It started yesterday. I was meditating on Romans 15:13 as I colored. My son Seth happened to be here briefly. I pointed to what I was working on and asked him what color I should use next. “Mom,” he said, “the great thing about coloring is there is no right or wrong choice.” (And yes, there was a twinkle in his eye that said, “really did you just ask that?”)

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So today I start a new picture. Honestly, I’m a little judgmental about every choice I make. Too much yellow. Why did I decide to add in blue? I wish I had a prettier shade of purple.

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But I keep going. I pray the accompanying Scripture, thanking God that He always hears my prayers.

Coloring one spot leads to another and soon there is yellow and blue in places I never planned. But the presence of the colors there helps me feel better about my earlier choices because the white spaces are being filled in a way that things are starting to look connected and whole.

The stirring comes again, and I try to listen, eventually putting down my colored pencils and grabbing my journal. I’m still processing, but what I think the Lord is nudging my heart about is freedom. Freedom to try a new color and trust that sometimes (I’m not talking morality here, just life) there is no right or wrong choice. He wants His kids to explore. To play. To create. But we’re afraid. We don’t want to make the wrong choice. So we stay stagnant and resist a more adventurous, colorful life. We’re afraid of too much yellow, you know?

I’ve always been a strong proponent of seeking God’s will. For many years my life verse was Psalm 32:8, which basically says God will lead us on the best path for our life, advising us and watching over us. So I asked Him this morning how living more free to explore fits with this thinking.

I’m still in process, but this is what I think I got. Sometimes we are so afraid of making a wrong choice that we can’t step out of the box the world has put us in. He is inviting us to adventure. To color. To playful exploration. But we’re bound up in our concerns about doing it right. Best. Not making a mistake.

Meanwhile there’s Jesus calling to us, “Wanna explore with me? There are beautiful pathways over here. This one has more flowers. That one has a great mountain view. Over there we can see the ocean! Which one sounds fun? Which one makes your heart leap with anticipation? Whatever you choose will be the best path, because we’ll be on it together!”

But we can’t even hear Him because we’re afraid to pick up that bright yellow. We keep walking, head down, not realizing we’re playing it safe, not best. We’re walking an old path, not a best path.

Back to the coloring book. It’s like those little spots that connect and lead to another spot are the paths I was thinking about above. And God created the whole coloring book after all. So when I get brave and choose something I’m not sure about, He just chuckles and thinks about how coloring right there with that color will connect with lines and shapes that will eventually color in white spaces I hadn’t even noticed and make the picture beautiful. I’m exploring. Having fun. Adventure. He’s enjoying watching His child play, and He loves her creativity. He comes and plays with me, sometimes suggesting a specific color, but often asking me which one I want to pick up.

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And all the while it’s the best pathway because we’re exploring together. Free to take chances. Free to create.

Free to play.

More Coloring Ponderings Tomorrow,

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Fun with Lisa Samson

Lisa!IMG_4783

What joy and delight to have you here on Free to Flourish, my friend! I gotta tell you that I am loving your new inspirational coloring book, Colors of Hope!  Your artwork and the Scriptures you chose wash over me in joy and peace. I mentioned on a earlier blog that the Lord used your coloring book to help me be more playful as I connected with Him in a busy season.

Sometimes I just need a little less intense way to have some time of quiet with the LORD. Don’t get me wrong. I love deep study, deep prayer, journaling—all of that. I’m wired for deep spiritual processing. But at the same time I sense the LORD calling to me to rest. To meditate on His hope. Not to take myself and life so seriously. He is in the beauty. The art. The creativity. He is joy. He shares His joy, His hope, His peace as I simply turn my gaze toward Him. Colors of Hope has helped me do just that. And it is interesting that deep still comes out of this more playful approach. Thank you, Lisa, for letting Him pour His Spirit and creativity through you in this venue. I know I’m not the only one drawn to Him through this coloring book!

Let’s start at the beginning of your journey with this project. Your work as a novelist gained acclaim as some of the most thoughtful and well-written work published in the Christian Booksellers market. I’m glad you’re still writing, and I’m glad you are also embracing this form of art and sharing it with us. Where did your desire to create an inspirational coloring book come from?

17155194_10154303091171723_2711020159173082596_nThank you so much, Paula. I so appreciate every good thing you’ve had to say! Wow! And I’m so happy that Colors of Hope has been a meaningful experience for you. Mission accomplished!  Colors of Hope came from a heart’s cry to God. I had gone through a divorce, was unsettled inside myself and in the world around me. It was a very dark time, and I just didn’t know what to do. I had been coloring for a few months and I realized I had a knack for creating mandala-style art. So I just prayed to God. I said, “You said that you would bless the work of our hands, to establish that, so I’m going to claim that promise now. If I show up every day and draw, I’m going to claim that blessing.”  And so I did. I drew faithfully, and my daughter helped me edit the drawings on the computer, and we sent them off to Revell with a description for two follow up books.  Vicki Crumpton, my editor and champion, took the work through all the stages and we ended up with three books. Colors of Hope, Colors of Faith, and Colors of Love.

All of your art is original and beautifully hand-drawn. Can you tell us a little about the process of creating this art?

It’s important to me that this does not look computer-generated. I wanted real lines that originated on paper.  I use a lightboard at times as well. So I initially do the sketch on graph paper so I don’t have to do a lot of time-consuming measuring with the ruler, and then I transfer that to a light board, place a nice clean sheet of cardstock on top and ink in the design. That’s about it!

 I gotta be honest. Sometimes coloring feels like it takes too much time! I’ve learned to set a timer because I would prefer to finish a picture in a day, but I need to get to my other responsibilities. Here’s what I discovered. The first day I spent extended time coloring I wrote 4,309 words on my contracted novella! That’s a productive writing day! They say there is actually a connection between coloring and productivity in adults. Can you speak to this idea?

That’s not surprising.  Coloring de-stresses us. There is something about utilizing our small motor skills that enables us to focus on something else other than our worries.  In Colors of Hope, there is a coordinating Bible verse on which the colorist can meditate as well. So couple those two things together and you can come to your writing, or whatever you work you are doing, with a much better, less-stressed state of being. So, naturally, your output will be easier to achieve and, in your case, of greater volume.  Our brains are marvelous things!

I mentioned my journey with your coloring book took me places somewhat unexpected, places I would consider pretty deep for such a gentle process. I shared some of them on Facebook and plan to share those pondering here on Free to Flourish throughout this week. Why do you think the coloring book is touching these places within us?20170311_082302

I’m not surprised you had this experience, Paula. The Psalmist says God leads us beside still waters and restores our soul. I feel like artistic expression, and such a gentle one as coloring, is the perfect opportunity for the Spirit to speak words of love and depth to our hearts.  We are in a state of less stress and worry, and more open to hear God’s whispers.

Colors of Hope is absolutely beautiful! How do you see the concept of beauty in relationship to God and who He is and how He relates to us?

God speaks to me in several love languages. One of the more prominent ones is beauty. When I see beauty sometimes I just well up inside knowing it is a gift.  I am a sky-watcher and allow myself to bask in the wonder and majesty of the beauty found there almost every day. Living in Colorado has made this an even more wondrous experience! I believe God wants to give us beautiful sights, sounds, smells, feels, and experiences. Beauty is one way we can experience God, and in turn, through us, He can experience Himself in the beauty of our reception of Him.

I think you and I are learning some similar things–like how releasing grows into receiving. 20170310_135326How hope blooms in unexpected places. Can you share a little around these concepts?

Releasing is sometimes letting things be exactly what they are and not being attached to our own expectations. Releasing is less striving and more receiving. So when we accept who we are, God’s Beloved Child, made in God’s image and likeness, there are so many things we can let go of and release to become whatever it is supposed to be in its highest form. In that way, we see things bloom in a way that is unexpected and far better than we could have hoped. Hope without trust is like wandering in the dark. Hope with full trust is that childlike state of wonder and expectation, being God’s Child who knows their Heavenly Parent will not give them stones and spiders. Consider the lilies, consider the sparrows. As Jesus said, “If God so clothes the lilies and feeds the sparrows, how much more will He take care of you?”

How has your relationship with God changed in the last ten years?

I’ve experienced God in so many ways the past ten years, but to sum it up, through the twists and turns and dark passages, I realized the Light of God never left, I just felt unworthy to look up and receive it.  Now I know better. I know that “walking in the Light as He is in the Light” is where I want to be. God is Love. God is good, kind, compassionate and merciful, and I can trust Him to always be those things. Before, well, I was pretty much walking on eggshells all the time wondering if I was “doing it right.”

Has this change affected your work?

Yes.  But I’m not completely sure how yet.  I’ve been working on a novel that was conceived in the dark times, but I know that was for a purpose. So integrating that work now to show the Light and Love of God is what the piece is going through and it’s exciting to see the transmutation of it.  As for my art and particularly the coloring, my purpose is to bring joy to people. Coloring is so helpful in the relief of some of  the symptoms of mental illness such as depression and anxiety.  I do a live coloring show on Facebook that also gives tips not just for coloring but for overcoming some of the symptoms by diet and retraining ourselves to think a little differently, more gently, and with love and compassion for not only others, but ourselves as well. My prayer is that people don’t have to suffer a moment longer than is necessary. Healing is possible.

I love the Facebook live coloring times you offer on your page. The way you talk about the concepts of the Scriptures you share in such a meaningful, light, conversational way is such a blessing. I’ve also learned some great coloring techniques that a non-artist like me wouldn’t think of. How can my readers access these?

By coming to my profile.  You can click on the videos section and they’re all right there for you to access!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Just the message that God loves you, right where you are, no matter what. He always has and He always will.

Paula here again. You can find Colors of Hope at Lisa’s website as well as in Barnes and Noble and most Christian bookstores. I noticed that today it is on sale on-line at  Christian Books. It can also be found on-line at: Amazon  and Barnes and Noble.

Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did!

Blessings,

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How Do You Juggle?

How do you juggle multiple responsibilities and still nurture your heart?

Or do you?

I find it’s a constant choice to seek joy, peace, and balance when the pace of life increases. As I type, I’m less than a week out from my son’s wedding. (Exciting!) A few weeks out from a book deadline. (Exciting!) And coming off a wonderful three-day speaking engagement in February. (Exciting!) Of course there are other joys and responsibilities in between the big events. Finding joy in hardship is a challenge for me, but I’m discovering joy can also be lost in good times if I’m not careful, just because of the pace!

So . . . how to hang onto the joy? To celebrate all this good even as time feels shorter (which of course it never is, really.) How to stay peaceful in the hurry?

A little self-care helps. This morning I took a time out to re-read a few passages from a book releasing on April 1 by a friend of mine Vicki Caruana, of the popular Apples and Chalkdust blog. 20170321_093105Why take the time? The topic is timely. I don’t think it is coincidence that the week my son marries I receive The Joy of Letting Go in the mail. I devoured an advanced copy of this book before it published, and I knew the wisdom and grace Vicki offers would be as good for my heart as my eggs and avocados were this morning.  It was.

The pretty book cover inspired me to an extra bit of self-nuture, so I grabbed this beautiful cup given to me by the lovely bride-to-be (my new daughter!!) and that inspired me to pull out my grandmother’s china and a new cloth napkin I purchased for the bridal shower. (Isn’t it lucky my reading glasses match too?) I don’t usually eat out of china, but this extra touch of beauty only cost me about thirty seconds and it meant something to me!

What touch of beauty would cost little time but mean something to you today?

The other thing I’ve done during this busy season is engage with Colors of Hope, the first coloring book in the new inspirational coloring series by Lisa Joy Samson. If you love good fiction, you’ve likely read one of Lisa’s novels. You’ve also heard her name here because Lisa drew the cover art for my Soul Scents book series.

It seems counter-intuitive to color when you have a lot to get done, but I’ve found that it calms me and makes me more creative and productive later, especially when tackling the novella deadline. Besides it’s fun and playful, and with the Bible verses and beauty of the art, the coloring book helps me spend some restful moment thinking about the One who gives hope. 20170311_082302.jpgHow about you? Is there something you enjoy that is simple and creative that will bring your stress down and free you to more productivity? (A hint: I do set a timer when I color, so this creative endeavor doesn’t suck me into giving up more time than is wise. I take several days to color one page.)

17156189_10211441460007228_7758007868974633871_nI’m still walking, and it still provides great joy and peace. I’ll be honest and admit that it is hard to make myself take the time, and too often I don’t make the choice to get outside, but every time I do I feel better and have more peace and stamina when I return to my work. Added bonus right now? If I pay attention, I see spring coming!

I also often use this time to catch up with a friend. Another great stress reducer!

How about you? Where can you find a few minutes to get some sunshine and a little activity? Time with a friend?

If you know me well, you’re going to be shocked at my last stress-reducing activity. My husband actually laughed out loud this morning when I said I needed to climb out of bed because the sunrise is so pretty.

Honestly, I’m a huge fan of sunsets, but sunrises happen too early for me. That said, for some reason I’ve seen every one of them this week. Instead of letting it stress me out that I’m not sleeping as much as I prefer, I slip into the living room and position myself for the best view. Curling beneath a soft blanket, I take a few minutes just to enjoy.20170318_065141I don’t know whether you’re a sunrise or sunset person–or both! But I hope tonight or tomorrow morning you’ll pause a moment and let the beauty seep in!

Here’s to capturing joy and peace in the midst of the bustle.

Now I’m off to clean the bathrooms for wedding company!

(By the way, after the wedding I’ve invited Lisa to share with us about the benefits of coloring and Vickie to help us process the joy of releasing our progeny to their adult lives. I hope you’ll join us the next few weeks. It’s going to be beautiful!)

Blessings,

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