Rhythm series: fruitful over productive


A few months ago, I began the rhythm series looking at rest and the place it holds in our lives. The opposite of rest should be work or activity or productivity. The problem with this framework is that it has the potential to leave out our purpose or intention. Productive is all about doing and works. It’s a mechanical and technical word that has implications of busyness and visible, external results. Instead of focusing on productivity between pauses of rest, I’ve been convicted to think about being fruitful.

Fruitfulness is the first mandate humankind received from God in Genesis – it’s part of our nature and makeup. Fruitful has more to do with being than doing. It’s a word full of connotations relating to life, fullness, and internal growth affecting the external. This is especially difficult when we can look productive if we’re busy on our phones all day or if we’re moving from activity to activity from morning until night, but fruitful asks: are these actions producing fruit in my life?

“[She] is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever [she] does prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)

What does it look like to bear your fruit in your season? This is so challenging because our tendency to look around to see what others are doing and how others are living usually eclipses our own purposes and desires. We look at the friend who creates pinterest like crafts for her kids and think we should do the same. We look at the friend who works full-time and is thriving in her career and wonder if the work we’re doing is as valuable. We see the produce in our friends’ lives and begin to compare something that’s not meant to be compared.

When we’re able to embrace the type of tree we are and remain connected to the source, the streams, the God who sustains us in every season, we are fruitful in our season. It’s a fruitfulness that is unique and entirely our own. We weren’t created to replicate someone else’s fruit — our apple tree isn’t meant to bear oranges.

“Sit. Feast on your life.” (Derek Walcott)

Fruitful lives produce a feast we can sit down and enjoy. Productive lives for the sake of getting things done produce burn out where we hit a wall and crash. There are a few questions we can ask ourselves that prompt us to think about our own fruitfulness in the season we’re in.

What does fruitful mean for my season? 

This comes down to values and determining which aspects of our life are most valuable and necessary right now.

What are my actual priorities right now? This should be a short list — we can’t do all the things all the time.

Answering this question in complete honesty can be difficult because our priorities may not seem grand or glamorous, but if we’re honest about the most essential things needing our energy and time it will allow us to do what’s important rather than what’s immediate.

When to quit and when to say no?

It takes wisdom and courage to know when to quit something and how to say no with grace.

Where do I spend the resources I currently have? 

If we are clear on our season and priorities, figuring out how to allocate our finite amounts of time, energy, and money becomes a lot less complicated. It still requires some tough decision making, but it eases and clarifies the process.

If it feels like you’re running on the wheel of life without going anywhere, take some time to reflect on these questions. Honor yourself and the season you’re in; give yourself permission to be fruitful rather than productive. Choose enduring over short-lived. Choose wholeheartedness over instant gratification. If we can ask ourselves every night, “what did I begin today that might endure?” (John O’Donohue), it may just be the reminder and encouragement we need to keep choosing fruitful.

“Sometimes I need

only to stand

wherever I am

to be blessed.”

(Mary Oliver)

That’s all for this Tuesday, friends. Cheers!



Winter: a time to throw away and a time to gather



A good beginning is half the work.

(Old Irish Proverb)

Happy New Year, friends! How do you approach your new year? Do you set goals? Make resolutions? Come up with a word for the year?

Winter, especially the first month of the year, is all about bringing things into fresh focus. The snowy landscape even reflects this in the way you can see a tree’s actual form and shape without the covering of leaves. Everything in nature becomes more obvious against the backdrop of white snow and bright skies. The clarity is refreshing.

It is winter proper; the cold weather, such as it is, has come to stay. I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.

(Annie Dillard)

Mentally, most of us use this time of year to prioritize and plan. The cold days and long nights seem to provide more opportunity to take stock of how we spend our time and allows us to alter and adjust for the year ahead. For some this means doing a health cleanse or detox. For others it looks like committing to a budget. And for others, it’s simply taking the inspiration to change a habit and making a commitment to do certain things differently.

All change begins with removing the old, the stuff that doesn’t work, the dusty unused things, the bad habits and practices and replacing them with the new, the new gifts, the useful and helpful things, and fresh habits and practices for a new season.

These cold months provide a time to throw away material clutter and to gather fresh organization. It’s a time to throw away negative mindsets and habits and to gather positive attitudes and practices. It’s a time to throw away striving and comparison and to gather contentment and confidence. This snowy, cold season strips everything down to the most essential, the core, the heart and gives us fresh eyes to see what matters most. It blows in winds of inspiration that lead to transformation.

For me personally, this looks like going through my day and making small adjustments where I feel led to change. Life with a newborn can be a challenging season with sleep deprivation and learning a new rhythm, but there have been a handful of things I’ve felt convicted to change in the midst of this transition.

In spending habits: to purchase with the environment and the local economy in mind

(think beeswax wrap over plastic wrap and local stores over Amazon)

In health: to move two times a week (think walks in the woods and yoga with Adriene) and eating a vegetable with every meal

In parenting: to value presence over productivity — this one is especially difficult for my type A personality, but it’s something I’m keeping top of mind with the time I spend with my kids

In relationships: to encourage and reach out more often — as someone who doesn’t mind going days without connecting with friends this looks like being more intentional with being the one to send a text or message rather than the one who always receives

Within each of these areas there are things that need to be thrown away in order to gather the new intentions and make them a reality. If you haven’t yet taken time to reflect about this new year, take some time this week and ask yourself what habits, thought patterns, or things need to be thrown away in order for you to gather some healthy, fresh ones. Don’t feel pressure to start big, rather think of something achievable and maintainable and go with that.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.

(Mary Oliver)

It’s easy to lament the lack of sleep during this season and the challenge to wake up each morning with a song rather than a complaint is intense, but so worth the effort. Psalm 59:16 says, “but I will sing of your strength and will joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning.” This has been top of mind as each day begins with the opening of the curtains. I’ve created a bright and restful playlist on Spotify called Winter Wonder 2018 if you need something to listen to this season.

Click here to find listen.

I pray this is a time where you are able to throw away those things that have become hindrances in your life so you are able to gather the things you feel rising in your heart to do. Letting go of the old to grasp onto the new can be difficult, but God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning so don’t feel disheartened when you stumble a little. As Scarlett O’Hara famously said, “after all, tomorrow is another day!”

Chamomile and crickets: a summer playlist & some quick pickle recipes

Summer is slowly unfolding and each day looks different depending on the weather. The only consistent activities include checking in on the garden and listening to soothing and fun music all day long in the background. If you want the summer playlist we’ve had on, click here for the playlist.

I’ve also begun harvesting chamomile flowers to dry for tea. Frederick and Edith love plucking the flowers with me and they’ve been happily drying out on cheese cloth for the past week. Besides drying chamomile for tea, quick pickling has become a weekly activity this summer.

Quick pickling is becoming one of the most rewarding summer activities. You need a few ingredients to quick pickle and there’s no need to boil jars or spend a lot of time preparing. It’s also easy to prepare a single jar with a handful of ingredients. Here are some of the main things to have in your pantry if you want to quick pickle:

  • Clean glass jars
  • White vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Sugar
  • Black peppercorns
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh dill (if usuing cucumbers)

The two quick pickle recipes below are simple and super delicious. Even if you’ve never pickled, they’re easy to make and you can enjoy the food the day after you make it.

There is a surplus of dill growing in our yard and they sell boxes of small cucumbers for a couple dollars at our local farmer’s market. This recipe for Refrigerator Dill Pickles is a winner and our family easily eats a jar a day of these crunchy, slightly tangy spears.

Our jalepeño plant is overproducing and, after a little research and some trial and error, discovered this Quick Pickle Jalepeño Recipe that makes amazing tasting pepper slices. We’re putting them on top of all the things – eggs, nachos, potatoes, burgers, sausages.

With August around the corner, I’ve been taking every opportunity to spend time outside. Last week after ditching the to-do list for the day, I threw all the beach supplies in the car and headed to the nearest state park. When it rains, pickle veggies. When it’s sunny, go outside. Summer is best spent making the most of the fresh produce and the warm sun. Wishing you a happy August soaking up all the fresh food, blue skies, and summer storms.