It’s that time of year: full schedules, full to-do lists; trying to keep up, show up, live up to expectations; rushing a little more, relaxing a little less.
You know the feeling.
Often, they’re subtle changes—choices we don’t even realize we’re making until we find ourselves here: a little more anxious, a little less rested, a little more curt, a little less kind.
Maybe this is the week we give ourselves and those around us an extra measure of grace.
Maybe now is the time to step back, slow down, eliminate the nonessentials and simplify our schedules and hearts and minds.
Because teaching and leading and working from a place of stress doesn’t serve anyone.
If you’re here today, I hope you find something in this post that inspires and encourages you. Take some time this week to recharge and reflect so you can bring your best self to your work, your ministry, and your students in the weeks to come.
Six Things to Read, Watch, or Listen to This Week
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No. 1 - For all the hard work you do outwardly (Morgan Harper Nichols)
Morgan Harper Nichols is a gifted poet and artist who creates her body of inspiring work for people who share their stories. You may have seen some of her work on Instagram or Pinterest. I love the simplicity of her words—a gift of hope and peace in the midst of life’s uncertainties.
I hope you enjoy these words of affirmation and encouragement this week.
For more of Morgan’s work, see her book, Storyteller: 100 Poem Letters.
No. 2 - Our Father (Scott Perkins)
Take a few minutes to watch and listen to this beautiful performance of Scott Perkin's moving choral work, “Our Father,” sung by Christ Church Schola Cantorum, directed by Stephen Kennedy. Truly, a gift for the soul.
No. 3 - Why You Should Stop Waiting for Life to Be Perfect (Shauna Niequist)
A thoughtful, challenging essay by one of my favorite authors (her books Bread and Wine and Present Over Perfect are two of my all-time favorites). This essay pulls me back to center and offers clarity and the gift of a new perspective. It reminds me to slow down and pay attention. I hope it offers the same gifts to you.
No. 4 - Elegy for a Walnut Tree (W.S. Merwin)
Read this one slowly. It’s a beautiful portrait of a walnut tree and the wonder of time, spread across lifetimes, thoughtfully composed by W.S. Merwin. The last line gets me every time.
Looking for more inspirational poems like this one? Take a look at W.S. Merwin’s collection, The Moon Before Morning.
No. 5 - Being Kind Over Being Right (Bob Goff)
You’ve heard me talk about Bob Goff before: he’s the author of Love Does and Everybody, Always. I’m always so inspired by him—the way he lives his life and the message he shares. Whether you’ve read his books or not, I hope you’re inspired by this conversation and encouraged by his boldness, his enthusiasm for life, and his deep commitment to loving others.
No. 6 - Grow Great Zinnias (Floret Flower Farm)
For those of us still waiting for spring to arrive, here’s a little inspiration for your summer garden planning: a comprehensive guide to growing and harvesting zinnias by Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm, including a list of several varieties to consider (with pictures!). I’m thinking about these for our garden this year.
Also, if you’re just getting started, Erin’s book, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms is basically a gardening book for beginners and a beautiful coffee table book all in one.
Now, it’s your turn: What things have you watched, read, or listened to lately that have inspired you in some way? What have you learned from others recently? I’d love to hear!