Welcome to my redesigned website and Really Late Bloomer blog, with gratitude to the amazing (and patient) Sara Beth Cobb of Nimblee Design. She challenged me to find the thread to tie together my diverse offerings.
It clicked when I couldn’t stop looking at my husband Bill’s photograph of a rushing Montana creek. I was drawn to its abstract beauty but it also took me back to one of our life-giving places. It reminds me of the biblical promise:
“Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Do I have a part to play in fulfilling that promise?
Through my writing, relating, and InSpero, I long to encourage and sustain those on the front lines and behind the scenes. I want to give a cup of cold water to those weary in well doing. To connect people to Christ through story, Scripture, and creative community. To encourage people who’ve put their dreams on the back burner that blooming late is better than not blooming at all.
Who are the refreshers?
If you’re reading my blog, then there’s a good chance you’re a refresher.
They’re the ones pouring out their lives, fighting for the weak, listening to the lonely, serving where no one sees, leading even when few follow, loving in the hard places. They’re the sustainers, the builders, and rebuilders of people and places. The ones who see the world as it is and ache for it to be as it should be. They’re faithful in small things done over a long time that make a difference that they may never see. They’re weary and wonder if it’s worth it.
I passionately believe what they do is worth it and that they are worth being refreshed so they survive their vision.
There's a family who moved to an Indian reservation 13 years ago to bring life and hope to a place of inconceivable brokenness. What will sustain them in this dry and weary land? I work with two front-lines organizations, one fighting for orphans and families in Uganda, and one working to reconnect disconnected communities in Birmingham through business, education, and beauty. I’m asking these visionaries and founders the hard questions about sustaining their souls as well as saving the world.
What do they need?
Jesus gives a simple three-word invitation to the weary life-giver: Come to me.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38
It starts with admitting you are tired and thirsty. That somewhere along the road to burnout you forgot “the unforced rhythms of grace” and can’t conceive of "living freely and lightly." God wants you to be kind to yourself, to receive his grace as well as give it. That kindness may start with finding space to come to Him.
Space and Place and Grace
Parker Palmer calls that kind of space sanctuary. “Sanctuary is wherever I find safe space to regain my bearings, reclaim my soul, heal my wounds, and return to the world as a wounded healer. It’s not merely about finding shelter from the storm: it’s about spiritual survival.”
My prayer is that my writing (blogs, Bible studies, fiction), speaking/teaching, and soul care will help people regain their bearings and return to their world strengthened. In the coming months, I’ll share more about a “safe space” Bill and I have found close to Birmingham which we hope will refresh the refreshers. We call it Whisper Woods Lake (even if it technically may be a pond). That name comes from I Kings 19, when the prophet Elijah crawled under a broom tree exhausted, weary, and a bit whiny, as he escaped from the evil Queen Jezebel. He felt alone and discouraged, and wanted to give up. He needed to hear from God. First things first. Eat, drink, sleep. Repeat. Then he was ready to hear God’s voice. It wasn’t in the gale-force wind, the earthquake, or fire. It was in the gentle whisper (what in Hebrew can be described as a thin silence). We hope we will be able to give rung-out refreshers a simple place of quiet beauty, rest, and soul care. To remember why they do what they do and to remember what it’s all for, who it's for, and what’s ahead.
Each person finds that "sanctuary" for their souls in different ways. I'd love your thoughts on what most restores your weary soul as we dream of a building a small respite "Broomtree" cottage on this property.
(One way to feed your soul with beauty is to go to A Beauty Refresher at the bottom of my home page for photos and artwork from some of my favorite artists.)
Nancy W. Carroll is a writer, speaker/teacher, and "soul-tender" from Birmingham, AL who blogs at Really Late Bloomer. She also serves as president of InSpero,Inc., a 501c3 believing in the power of creative community to bring hope and healing to our city and churches.