Simply Sather

date your spouse | Do an inside or outside picnic

We had already had a date like this one so it was a good, simple repeat.

in Texas there is only one option

Because it’s summer in Texas, the winning option for us was clear: INSIDE PICNIC!!!

I so appreciated that Mister kept it simple – it was his turn to plan – and though I can like a little more flair to our dates, it was great. It helps that we take turns to plan because it takes the responsibility completely off of me and gives him an opportunity to grow in his party/event/date planning skills. He knows that one of my love languages is “acts of service”, so one time a month doing the bulk of the planning is not overwhelming for him and forces me to relinquish control and simply enjoy.

indoor picnic dinner for two – living room floor

We decided on the menu a few days before we were scheduled for date 3 and picked up the wine and sides while shopping at Target. Mister picked up the chicken from Popeye’s the day of, we spread out a blanket on the floor and we played the album we had sitting on the player.

garden state soundtrack, one of my faves

It was so nice not to have to wash dishes or do much clean up after our date.

In the midst of our simple date, we did have a tense discussion – yes, we sometimes have to work through conflict. I share this because though we love one another and want to have a godly marriage, we sometimes find ourselves at odds with one another while learning about the other. We are very similar in a lot of ways and have a lot in common, but when we don’t see eye-to-eye or one person triggers the other, we have to work through it; even on a date.

So we continued to talk while playing a bunch of rounds of Scrabble (he’s still winning) and just spent time in one another’s company.

ain’t he cute?

The conflict got fully resolved a couple of days later (after getting some advice and lots of prayer) but we were still able to find rest and gratitude in the rest of the date and the rest of that day.

Even with tension and conflict, the date was still a win. Spending time with one another, phones down, ears open and heart willing to see the other person; to hear their thought process, understand their perspective, learn about their heart – it is such a blessing and I’m so grateful that we can do the simplest things and still build our love connection.

one day, I will beat him at Scrabble

I encourage you to plan a simple picnic for you and your spouse and an activity that allows you to still interact with and learn about the other in the comfort of your own home. If you’re at a season where kids are involved, consider hiring childcare to watch and engage them in another part of the house, schedule it for their bedtime or meet one another during your lunch breaks to have your own version of this kind of picnic. However you can do it, make it happen, you won’t regret it!

Simply Sather

A Call to Action: “She Rises”

I’m still reflecting upon last night’s event, thankful that the church we attend puts on events for women to come together to praise God, draw nearer to Jesus and to be called into action to become better for God’s glory; to make Him famous.

I’d been to the event – drawing in well over 1,200 women the two years before. Once as a member and once as a staff member and both times I felt overwhelmed and lost in the crowd. This is certainly my introversion shining through but also my deep rooted desire to process and connect with others who are hearing the message, a community, a sisterhood where we can “spur one another on to good deeds”.

who are you getting open and vulnerable with? these four are a precious few of the ones God has blessed me to “do life + build” with

There were only 8 of us – 4 of us collaborated to host and 4 guests.

We provided name tags, journals as a gift to use and to take, yummy dinner and dessert and set the dress code as “comfy chic”. Each woman had responsibilities from hosting, to preparing gifts to cover the entire time – before, during and even today, the day afterwards – in prayer.

there was also bread pudding
healthy options to offset the bread and desserts
yum, yum, yum

Our hearts were to bring other black women who attend our large church together in a more intimate setting, to let them know they were seen and that this was about pouring into and encouraging them. Not just for them, but for the other black sisters in faith that they may know who could use this additional support.

It was amazing.

Not just the intimacy but the ability to pause the programming when we felt a point or moment hit us. Not just because black folk talk at the screens and we were able to do that as the Spirit moved us (well, not all the way through because I’m still me and want to be able to hear). Not just because we had filling, yummy food that we were able to sit and eat at the table together.

But because God blessed our prayerful intentionality.

The heart of this night was not to start a black women’s small group or to create separation in any way, but to speak to a part of our identity that is not often addressed from the platform, from society, from the media as black Christian women.

And though those were the two things we had in common: being black and acknowledging our need for Jesus, we spoke more about matters of the heart and soul; things that the speaker – Holly Wagner (@hollywagnerla) – addressed and called out in every woman.

If you don’t know what Summer Splash is or weren’t able to participate in Summer Splash last night, please listen to her message here.

Without giving away too much, I wanted to share how her message personally impacted me in the 5 areas she calls women to rise in.

1. Royalty

2. Wisdom

3. Freedom

4. Gratitude

5. Hope

I so appreciated that I (nor did the women we spent time with) left feeling like there were one or two that I needed to rise in – not all five. Ms. Wagner did a wonderful job of explaining where the one she needed to rise in most was and what that looked like with candor and grace.

For me, I felt nudged and reminded that I am one of His children and therefore I belong. But the two that spoke most to me are (2) Wisdom and (3) Freedom.

we are ready to rise!

At the end of our quiet time reflecting and journaling, we spent time sharing and then calling one another to rise in the areas that they may have been struggling to before the message began. These lovely ladies called me into wisdom by allowing me to facilitate and speak hard things wrapped in love to their hearts and encouraged me to walk in the freedom to express my voice in writing to impact and influence women to keep moving toward Jesus in their pain.

I couldn’t even cry. There was no need to.

I was experiencing godly peace. That kind of moment when you know you’re right where you’re supposed to be doing exactly as you are to be doing calling on your past experiences and lessons learned that are benefitting others for the glory of God. You ever had that?

That was so amazing to me.

I was affirmed in my call to rise as a woman of God with other women. Not perfect or trying to present ourselves as anything other than where we are but sitting a bit taller knowing the hurts and lies and past doesn’t have to have the grip on us that it has; keeping us from overcoming so that we can then share.

Ladies.

We need to overcome “so that other women can know what you know.”

I write and post on my blog and Instagram account to encourage, to influence, to inspire and to assure; you can overcome with Jesus. And when you do, you can help someone else. No more stuffing, no more hiding, carrying or assuming shame, no more. Get in someone’s living room, listen to this message or any other that challenges how you view your role and contribution to building God’s Kingdom and talk. Share your heart. Cry without apologizing. Express how you feel. Ask for help. Boldly speak into others. And pray!

It’s time to heed the call and rise ladies.

It’s time.

Simply Sather

rest: why you get more done when you work less

I am caught up in doing things differently. Not just to be different but to live differently. We live in a cozy apartment when so many others our age own big, beautiful homes. We serve together at church rather than serving where one particular person’s strengths or interests lie. And the biggest thing I’m stepping into is more rest.

Not just the weekly Sabbath that we most often refer to – an Old Testament law that we are no longer under – but a daily, ongoing rest in my soul.

This means changing the way I do things and get things done.

Changing the things I say yes to and make room for.

And especially giving myself permission to find rest in the things that glorify God and actually leave me refreshed afterwards.

I am by no means an expert at rest, but in my novice I’m questioning my life and the lives of those around me.

Questions like:

Why is back to school so stressful?

Why do high schools have parent teacher conferences the way they do?

Why do we squeeze every possible activity into May at the end of the school year?

Why do we plan big events to encourage people to have an encounter with Jesus but create no space for them to sit quietly or connect in small groups where they can be held accountable and get open about what’s happening in their spirit?

Why are we afraid to discipline our children? Or tell them no?

Why do we parade our busy like it’s a prize rather than the prison it actually is?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions and stumbled upon a library book about rest and got myself totally convicted.

Here’s a quick synopsis and the outline of the book.

In a nutshell, the author shares about the problem of rest and the science of rest. Why we’ve changed the way we rest (and how we’ve inhabited so many other issues as a result of our busy) and what it really can look like to be restored when we do it well.

STIMULATING CREATIVITY

In order to stimulate creativity – which all of us have in us, no matter what we do for work or in our careers, because we were made by our Creator and are made in His image – we have to make it a priority, a discipline even.

four hours

The block of time that we can be most productive and creative in. Anything more and we’re no longer operating at our highest level for developing new work or our best work even.

morning routine

There are many who would say that they are not “morning people” but for those who are or are willing to try, setting aside a routine early in the morning – with limited distractions – creates a more ideal environment for success in creative problem solving, development and getting unstuck.

walk

Some of the most creative politicians, professors, musicians, artists, authors and Nobel Peace Prize Winners took long walks after working hard for four hours and/or prioritizing their morning routine. It often brought them to even more creativity and re-energized them to return to work later in the day or with more clarity for the next day. Communing with nature while walking their dog or taking a long a notebook to journal was incredibly helpful to their rest and refreshing.

nap

Can I get an “Amen!”?

I know this is so difficult for us to conceptualize the way in the pace of our world today – at least here in America and especially in larger cities. And I can’t even consider how this would look to work into my every day life, but I am definitely jumping on the band wagon of giving myself permission to rest and allow myself take a nap in the middle of the day, during the work week – if that is what my body calls for.

We have book clubs, wine clubs, I’m petitioning for a “nap club”. Join me!

stop

This section was fascinating because it wasn’t about stopping everything but stopping at a certain time in the creative process. Instead of stopping when the paragraph, book or piece is done, the author suggests stopping mid-sentence, mid-chapter or mid-stanza and leaving room for your brain to rest and recover before picking up again the next day.

sleep

Get it y’all.

Turn the screens off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Charge your phone away from your bed, your computer should not make its way into your space for recharging. Let your brain prepare for the work of rest.

I’ve added an eye mask and ear plugs to my sleep regimen along with essential oils that I rub on my feet before winding down or diffuse bedside.

SUSTAINING CREATIVITY

It’s not enough to make room for the creativity to come, it’s important to our rest to be healthy in order to sustain the creativity for long periods of time. It was powerful to read about the people in the book that went on to write dozens of books, paint and have successful second or third careers steeped in creativity.

I’ve been suppressing my creativity for a long time so I was encouraged to read about it not really being too late for me to begin and giving me a road map for how.

recovery

This resonated with me.

The idea that we take vacations one or two times per year for a week or two at a time but don’t really get away fully is a part of why there is need for recovery. You’ve had that right, where you take a vacation but it takes two or three days to settle into the new experience. And sometimes while on vacation, we still make ourselves available to our offices, teams and work in a way that does not really allow us to completely unplug and recover.

In this part of the book I got convicted that making a regular habit of rest – even when doing regular, everyday living – is necessary to being well rested.

exercises

Meh.

When I work out the pain in my back, I’ll resume yoga. And maybe even spend some time on a treadmill, working up a little bit of a sweat.

I’m not an expert in this area, I’m not even experienced in regularly working out, but I’m committed to making time for it as a part of living a more restful life.

deep play

This was probably my favorite chapter when I realized what this was for me.

It’s not something you do for work or are required to do, but rather something that stretches you, pushes you to learn but is also fun. For me, this is developing my platform on Instagram. It involves taking a class to learn the art and science behind the app. I am learning about how to influence and encourage others through visuals, conversation and words. It’s also an opportunity for me to see and share the beauty I see and experience all around me.

It leaves me feeling invigorated and thinking about what I can do or try next.

As a part of the platform, it forces me to try new things and to explore the world of photography by dabbling; essentially deep play.

sabbaticals

Most commonly referred to in connection with professors, this was the first time I’d read about CEOs and politicians, even restaurant owners walking away from their highly demanding roles for six months to a year. Different things – stress, overwhelm, need for new perspective – drove them to take the time, but the reward was more stamina, re-connection with their families, more creativity and focus than before they took the time away.

Even taking a week off two to three times a year was effective in helping leaders with a lot of impact and responsibility to be able to continue in their roles for a long time while serving well.

Let me just say, that I think moms and dads and single people and everyone breathing should make time for those a couple of times a year. I wrote about the one my hubby and I took recently over here.

THE RESTFUL LIFE

What even is that?

Before you scoff at it, take a moment and dream it. Try to look beyond what’s holding you back or the things you think may make seem it impossible and try to envision improvement in any two or three above areas.

I won’t be overhauling every single one of these categories next month or even in the next six months but I can focus in on a few; morning routine, walk and deep play. Out of implementing these three things areas of rest, I am hoping to write more pointedly and find something concrete that I can offer to the women recovering from death and divorce, fighting to find hope again.

That’s what it means to me.

A restful life is me having enough margin to be still, able to show up and be there for my people and to create beautiful, encouraging content that makes a difference.