Picking Blueberries – Embracing the Bittersweet

I just finished reading a book called “Bittersweet” by Shauna Niequist and I couldn’t help but notice all of the similarities I had with the author. She and her husband were in ministry and changed jobs, they lived in Grand Rapids for a period of time and then moved to Chicago, she had missed many of her friends and relationships that were like family to her and she had a hard time selling her house after the move.  Overall, in this book, she was extremely REAL about the journey.  The good and the bad…. and the ugly tears.

I admit I had ugly tears during those first few months we moved to Michigan and also at different points later along the way.  They were in the shower, in the car on the way to the grocery store, and in my pillow so that no one would hear.  I had a hard time adjusting to leaving my family, close friend relationships that were my version of extended family living close to me, my jobs that I enjoyed and that gave me a sense of purpose, my church community and the house with open floor plan for entertaining that I had waited for.

I also deeply yearned again for my mom who died in 2004.  I was given an up close vantage point of my mother in law and her interactions with her two daughters that made me crave and miss my mom even more.  That is not saying she has not been loving, accepting, or treated me like family. She has always been more than I could have dreamed of in a mother-in-law.  It was just more on my end, missing the connectedness to the one who gave me life.  I was regretting that she wasn’t also around hearing her grandkids laugh, wiping their tears from playtime injuries (that were a result of sibling wrestling that went too far),  and all the other moments in between.

We’ve struggled financially, we’ve moved again hoping that it would be temporary until the new job starts….it’s been longer than we had planned.  I’ve missed the old relationships that have helped fill so many of the mother/sister voids I had during those crucial years of my life.  We’ve also lost in some way a sense of home and being connected with roots.  Maybe because we knew that we would only be living in this city for a season.

We’ve experienced the bitter and the sweet.  The bitter lessons of financial hardship coupled with the abundance of joy for making up for lost years living away from family.  I will never forget this past Easter, at a backyard baseball game with extended family, where my husband’s aunt, (who is also a grandma) wiped out running toward home plate.  She wasn’t injured but the memory is priceless.  I didn’t know she even played baseball.

In this season we’ve grown, we stretched, we’ve searched our souls and questioned “why God?” many times.

The other day, I was downloading onto my computer pictures from my phone and I watched as the computer displayed this last year and a half in bit of a slide show version as it downloaded.  I can’t dismiss all of the good memories because of some of the bitter experiences.  We have played and explored with different eyes and minds with a “take it all in while we’re here approach.”

We’ve also reestablished and created new friendships that have inspired me and made me feel normal again.  Like the part of myself that had been missing was finally coming back to life again.

I’ve had so many great adventures this past year and a half while I’ve lived here.  Wandering for hours around Art prize -where my soul felt most alive and inspired (maybe because my mom was an artist and I felt I needed to take it all in for her), taking a fencing class, participating in roller derby practice, riding the summer luge track, participating in a flash mob, taking a family trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes, running a half marathon, trying stand up paddleboarding, and weekly trips to the beach are just a few off the top of my head.  And there was also …….picking blueberries

They are my youngest son’s favorite food and I promised to take my boys and my neighbor’s sons for our first blueberry picking experience.  We each attached our buckets and then began “sampling” the trees for the best blueberries.

Some were super sour and some were sweet.  As we filled our buckets, the sweet and the sour blueberries were intertwined together.  There was no way to separate the sweet from the sour.

Just like the different seasons in our lives.  We have to take the bitter along with the sweet.  We can’t appreciate a sunny day unless we’ve been through the storm.  The bittersweet makes us who we are.  The bitter highlights areas that we would not have chosen to grow in, but that we benefit from once we are on the other side.  And let’s face it when someone shares their hardships in life, we breathe a sigh of relief.  Not that we want someone to experience something horrible, but that we can identify with each other more and share more deeply when we can admit to the bitter that we want to forget.


It was in this season that I felt the desire to create this blog and website to help inspire getting out of your comfort zone no matter what season you are living in.  I hope this is an encouragement to you if you are also experiencing a season with the pain and lessons of the bitter, mixed with beauty and joyful moments of the sweet.

And if you do want to pick blueberries this summer check out Sandy Bottom Berries or click here to find a blueberry farm near you.

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11 thoughts on “Picking Blueberries – Embracing the Bittersweet”

  1. I love you!!!! You are such an inspiration and I am so happy and thankful that you have found your way back “home” in more ways than just one!!!!

  2. This post is beautiful! The first time we picked Michigan blueberries, I remember noting that there were some supersweet ones and there were some bitter ones together. You have really drawn out some meaning from it. I guess that you really can’t know how sweet life can be without having some of the bitterness. I found your blog through MBC and look forward to reading more!

    Mel S

  3. Thanks for sharing Heather! I’ve lived away from “home” three different times in my life -going on four and I’m really grateful for the experience it has given me. I”ve discovered things to do in areas that I might not have ever visited before and I have also made some amazing friends who are like family. It does stretch you because of being away from everything that is familiar to you. If you ever visit Michigan, I hope you and your daughter get a chance to pick some blueberries.

  4. Very sweet but sad post. It’s funny because I have been talking to my husband about moving for the exact opposite reason. I have the same friends that I have had since I was five. I live within 5 miles of where I grew up. I told him it would be interesting to live somewhere else just for a little while even if to have a new experience. I realize now I would still always want to come home but sometimes I crave that change of scenery. I liked the picking blueberries post.!! My daughter would love that she eats them by the fits full. Anyway, your blog title caught my eye on the wednesday blog hop and I will be adding you to my follow circle. Can’t wait for new posts.

    If you care to check out my site it’s

  5. Thanks so much for sharing Vanessa. It’s nice to know other people who have been though it too. Love being able to be apart of inspiration Friday. I used to tell Heather I wanted to be her kid just so I could eat all of her yummy creations. You both truly have the gift of hospitality,creativity and the intangible gift of creating an atmosphere of community.

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