Category Archives: defining

Heart Doula

So it’s like being a doula my BFF remarked, as we sat savoring a rare evening of time together catching up over glasses of wine.

Exactly! I replied. That is how I often think of it myself.

The topic had turned to that of the Lay Counseling Certificate program that I am pursuing and my reasons for doing so.

Between us we have birthed fourteen children, so we know a bit about labor, delivery, and post-partum as it relates to birthing babies. Her daughter runs a doula agency that is top-notch in its mission to support families through their birth experience, so she is familiar with the role of doulas and their scope of care.

I loved that my best friend was able to put those words to my mission.

Just as a birth doula sits with a woman who is laboring through contractions, offering support and comfort measures, while she waits to birth a child, so I sit with women who labor with pain in their stories as they wait birth out a new chapter of or transition in their life. I listen, offering support and comfort in the process.

Just as a birth doula knows when to call on one with further training and skills for the next stage of labor, so I know when to recommend further help from one more trained than I ~ a licensed therapist or counselor, a medical doctor or psychiatrist. Sometimes more is needed than listening skills and comfort measures to help someone through the story~birth process, especially during a time of transition.

Just as a post~partum doula walks alongside a new mother, helping her adjust to the many changes that a new person brings to life, so I walk alongside those who have a new chapter in their story to process and work through.

Yes, I would consider myself a heart doula.

I remember one night, in particular, when this image was made clear to me as I drove off in the dark to the home of a friend. Sleeping on her couch, being present in her pain, reassuring her that I was there, these things all reminded me of the early stages of labor. I wasn’t the solution to a problem but a part of the team who offered care and support during the story birth, transition, and healing process.

That is why I am pursuing this further training to develop my skills. I am gifted to be able to sit with women in places of great heart pain, hear hard things, and not flinch or panic. I can be present. I can handle the emotional blood and bodily fluids leaking out and offer assurance and reassurance throughout the process of birthing out whatever they are carrying inside.

I can sit with and support as those higher up the scale of care offer their insight and wisdom and prescription for healing. I can be with in the process, walking alongside, offering my presence and reminder that She is not alone.


It’s better to eat simply in quiet,
To silence the mischievous tongue,
To let a rebuke settle deeply,
To patiently parent the young.

When you can sit in the silence,
There’s time and there’s space to receive.
Wisdom moves towards the quiet.
Abundant words cause it to leave.

In silence there’s not room to quarrel.
There are no lies to repeat.
There are no hearts to be broken
When silence and discernment meet.

~quieting thoughts from Proverbs 17~

Words of Truth

These are what have been getting me by, lately. Words of truth.

Spoken to me by God in his word, by friends in text or facebook messages, written by my husband on the bathroom mirror, or clipped to the honeysuckle by birds, words of truth offer hope.

We are loved by a God who does the impossible. Hoping in him.

These words came through on my phone as I was exiting the house Monday morning. I needed to hear them. To read them. Everything was feeling pretty big and impossible, and I certainly wasn’t feeling God’s love. Hope? Not really.

My friend, who knows and cares for my heart, spoke truth, offering me hope.

That is what refuse of the heart needs ~ a hefty dose of words of truth mixed right into it. That is why I started the blog. For me, yes, but also for you, Friends.

It’s not just to chronicle my days, though it’s been fun to look back through old posts and see where I’ve been and things I’ve done and how the kids have grown.

It’s not just to collect and share recipes or tips or projects, though you might find some in here if you dig deeply.

I started the blog to have a place to compost all that is in my heart and to offer you a chance to consider what might be in yours. We all have our fair share of refuse that could use some truth mixed in with it.

Because then it is ready for sprinkling on seeds of hope! Once hope gets a chance to take root and grow, it’s a beautiful thing.

Pick Your Episode

There is this activity at our house called Episode Pick in which each child, in predetermined order, selects one cartoon episode from Netflix for everyone to watch. It’s like Saturday morning cartoons without the commercials or the Saturday morning constraint. It lasts long enough for an adult to balance the checkbook or work on some laundry or organize a closet or write a blogpost in peace.

Generally, it’s a Saturday morning activity, allowing the adults in the house a few extra minutes of sleep or a cup of coffee on the porch.

This morning, as Steve left for work, I hopped in the shower to get ready for my day. It is a season of great transition around here, and I am feeling it in my exhausted bones.

I ventured from my lair to the sound of cheering that a sibling had finally woken up. Yay! Kirkle! You’re finally awake! (Awww… look at how much they love each other. I am such a good mom to have trained them to rejoice when they see one another! Let me get started on that post about sibling love…) You get to lead us in EPISODE PICK! (What! Wait! There’s no episode pick right now.)

Insert sweetest child voice you have ever heard here courtesy of Coco…

Actually, yes there is. Dad said that when Kirkle woke up, he could lead us in an episode pick. He must REALLY love you and want you to rest this morning.


Turning and Churning and Processing

It’s not enough to have a collection of heart scraps. Thoughts and feelings need space to be turned and churned and processed. This is called aerating.

In garden composting, some bins are designed to be aerated by turning them with a crank handle or pivoting them around on a base. Others are simply a container for collecting refuse which is then aerated by hand using a pitchfork or shovel. The air breaks the compost down to do its work.

In heart composting, there are various ways to aerate thoughts and feelings.

Safe friends help to turn over what is churning in your heart, preparing it to be dumped out to do its work. Safe Friends have processed with me over coffee, email, phonecalls, even texting! The key is to find someone who you can trust with your heart, because they have proven themselves trustworthy. There is always a level of risk involved in opening your heart to relationship with others.

Counseling helps to process what is going on internally. I talk with a counselor about specific issues that arise when I need someone with extra clarity, perspective, and experience to help me handle them. These days, there are lots of triggers going off as I relate to my husband and children, so that objective, outside perspective helps me see what is going on in my heart.

Quiet time with God also helps to aerate the heart. Worshipingreading Scripture, journaling prayers, and being still are all ways to turn, churn, and process what is at work in your heart.

How is your heart composting going these days? Consider what it looks like to aerate your thoughts and feelings and plan a little space to try it!



Brown and Green, what does it all mean?

We have built a heart bin for collecting thoughts and feelings, discussed the need to breathe, added moisture in the form of tears, and condensed large chunks of story into manageable pieces. It’s time to talk about balance of material in working through your stuff.

In the natural world, decomposition happens on its own, eventually. Composting moves things along more quickly by understanding nitrogen and carbon and their roles in breaking down green and brown matter.

Brown matter includes things like brown bags, dried landscape waste, fall leaves, straw, wood chips, sawdust, and dryer lint. These materials are generally stocky, coarse, and dry. They don’t readily come to mind when you think composting. Their carbon energy keeps things in the pile from becoming smelly and slimy.

Green matter could be coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, fresh landscape waste, small animal bedding, bits of fruits or vegetables, and tea bags. These materials are generally soft and wet. This is what is saved in a bin on the kitchen counter, bringing nitrogen to the pile to keep microbes well fed.

About twice as much brown as green is mixed into the compost pile for good work. Material brought to be processed does not all look the same. Some waste appears obvious and significant like eggshells or coffee grounds. Other ingredients are just as necessary, though they may appear old or dried out or not as glamorous.

Likewise, as you bring the green matter of your heart to your journal, it’s helpful to try to see what brown matter you might add to it. Here is a personal, and timely, example.

I become increasingly agitated when the longings of my heart go unmet. These include, but are not limited to, things like peace in my homeorderconnectiontime, and space.

Tuesday night instead of peace, there was much chaos and strife, and this is not a guessing game about which child or husband was the source, because it was ME. I was demanding what isn’t in my life right now and failing to recognize all that is.

I told a child I would do something for them, then brought it up later in an unkind way. When I was called on it, I reacted in anger rather than humility. So wrong was my desire to be right. I am the parent. I’m ALWAYS right. Right? (wrong)

As I tried to practice what I preach and retreated to my room (with the unnecessary angry door slam) to write it out, I began to reflect on what had just happened (green stuff) but ALSO what was deeper inside setting me off (brown stuff…like emotional poop).

Overwhelmed heart. Overwhelmed struggle. Wondering how this will all play out. Caught up in the struggle. Trying to grasp. Fighting my way through. Trying to trust. 

That is what I dumped into my heart bin for later.

Then I found my child to set right where I was wrong.