On Peonies, Cartwheels, and Fueling Creativity

KristenStrong_rainandpeonybuds

I literally did a cartwheel in my backyard today, y’all.

Actually, I did two.

You see, the past three years I’ve had peony plants grow bigger and bigger but refuse to crown themselves with flowers. But this year – this year! – we have buds! Which means we’ll have flowers! Be still my cartwheeling little heart.

A lady working in the garden area of Lowe’s told me that peonies need ants to bloom, although when I googled “ants and peonies” I discovered this is a hotly debated topic. Still, we transplanted them to a new spot where we hoped the ants would find them and they’d flourish more. Unlike years past, the hardworking little insects are crawling all over the plants. So judging by my own experience, it seems the Lowe’s lady is right.

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Whatever the reason that caused them to bud, I can’t tell you the joy it gives me to just stare at those long-awaited, beautiful baby flowers.

As I mentioned to y’all a little while ago, I’m writing a book. (And once again, can I just tell you how much I appreciate your kind words about it? Notes and messages and comments keep rolling in, and they are prayers guiding words to paper. Thank you, thank you!) Agatha Christie said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” I’ve found this to be absolutely true. And I’ve also found that the best way to infuse spark and life into your creative mojo is to go outside and breath the fresh air, stare at the peonies. Summer holds sun-kissed opportunities for both, and both for me bring rest and relaxation.

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This summer, I’ll also be exploring the idea of rest a bit more, in large part due to the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

“Rest is not something we engineer, but something we invite . . . Spiritual whitespace moves us away from making spiritual rest an activity to please God, instead of enjoying HIs comfort and pleasure. Spiritual rest is a journey of awakening our hearts to fully receive.”  ~ Bonnie Gray, Finding Spiritual Whitespace

For a girl like me, the norm is to rest with something to do. An action to perform. A list to check off. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I do find rest in activities such as baking pies with my son or watching the progress of my peonies, and I believe God honors the recreation in our rest. But the kind of rest Bonnie explores in her book is the kind that isn’t something sought for, but invited in. Sometimes rest isn’t achieved by escaping somewhere but summoning Someone into the place you are right now. With breathtaking beauty, Bonnie’s words usher us toward Christ as they show us how to leave whitespace in our hearts to rest with Him and in Him. This book – just like Bonnie herself – is totally my cup of tea.

DSC_0380(Bonnie and me in 2011 ~ photo taken by Emily P. Freeman)

A memoir-driven book, Bonnie’s story is made that much more compelling because of her history. Several traumatic occurrences in her childhood rendered the grown-up Bonnie with PTSD, and she began working through that debilitating disease while writing Finding Spiritual Whitespace (talk about ironic). So without a doubt, Bonnie has learned the book’s message the hard, painful way.

I’m discovering so much about this soul rest and just how important it is for fueling my creativity. So for the next several weeks, I’ll be taking some time away from the blog. I’ll still be writing and working, especially on the book. The manuscript isn’t due ’til fall, but I need to have the majority of it finished by summer’s end. My family will also be taking our annual trip to Oooooklahoma where the familiar prairies and squeezy hugs from nieces and nephews refresh my soul. I’ll be playing with my sisters, talking with my parents, and hanging out at the lake house with my husband’s family, too. If you want to still wave to me here and there, you can always find me on Instagram, the one social media-y place I’ll still regularly visit.

I’ll also do a lot of reading this summer, a mix of fiction and nonfiction. (Speaking of which, I’d welcome your suggestions for great summer reads!)

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Lastly, while we’re on the topic of rest, I do pray Chasing Blue Skies is a restful spot for you, one where you feel comfortable enough to hop on a swing, look up at the sky, and let the fresh air fill your lungs. Maybe even the kind of spot that gives you the kind of rest that refuels your creativity, too.

I can’t wait to get back here because honest to goodness, you are fresh air to me.

Much love and happy summering, sweet friends. xo

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  1. says

    Have a great summer! I read Lily Koppel’s Red Leather Diary a few summers ago, and I really enjoyed it. I bet the Astronaut Wives Club will be a great read.

    • says

      I’m not too far into it, Pattie, but I do really like it. Hopefully that opinion won’t change!

      I’ve heard of “Red Leather Diary” but haven’t read it. Adding it to my list now.

      Have a wonderful summer, beautiful friend. xo

  2. says

    So much goodness here! I was just thinking this morning about how I rest with an activity – a book, a TV show, a friend, over dinner. And while of that feeds my soul, knowing I’m in the presence of God while I’m being still fills my soul in a different way. I’ve been needing more of that these days. This book sounds fabulous and I love hearing about how it’s impacting you.

    Oh. And my best ideas? They come to me in the shower. :)

    Happy rest and summer to you, lovely one!

  3. says

    Remarkable how God reaches down to us and touches us with a topic from so many different directions at once. The Lord has been teaching me about this much needed resting in Him which prompted my blog post today….and then I hopped over to your blog post and saw this on the need for soul rest!!! Bonnie’s book is on my to-read list this summer. Praying for your book progression!!!

  4. says

    Peonies…a most favorite flower that I only first met in Portland, OR when I was in my 30s. I did not even know what these wonderful flowers were that were sprouting up all along a ledge in my new home. I took a bouquet to work and asked, “What are these?” My co-workers laughed but told me anyhow!! Since that day, I found out that my grandmother gave my mother peonies on her high school graduation day and they became a flower that I gave to her when I could find them. I live in TX now and they do not grow down in the southern end, but our grocer had them TODAY! They remind me of Mama and gave me a smile. Too bad these don’t smell like the ones in your yard.
    On the subject of resting, I have read more of late regarding aspects of Bonnie’s book. Looks like I better find a copy as it looks like a book I want to read.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • says

      Ha! Well, if it makes you feel better, I didn’t know what they were ’til I was in my 30’s, too.

      I do think you’ll love Bonnie’s book, Linda. It’s been a good one for me to read slowly and savor.

      Have a great summer! xo

  5. Beth Williams says

    I find that this summer has been “hard” for me. So much is in the air right now, and I must get to the spiritual white space quickly. Perhaps all this is happening so that God can bring me and my sweetie back to Him and dependence on Him more than ever before.

    I pray your book writing goes well. Enjoy your blog very much!!

    Blessings

  6. says

    Such a sweet post! I LOVE peonies. They are my favorite flower. I would probably be doing cartwheels in the yard as well. Congrats on the book deal–can’t wait to read it! Blessings!