Mama nature

hatchling turtle in boy's handWe’ve had a lot of motherhood going on around us recently.

Our turtles have had 3 hatchlings emerge in a 10-day period that we have adopted out to some VERY happy boys.

An exciting adventure is in store for them as they observe turtle behavior and learn how to take care of these little creatures.

Hatchling turtle on rock
Hatchling turtle on “gotcha” day

Our flighty friend, MamaDuck, has returned to lay her eggs at our house again in some tall feather grass. She picked a much better hiding spot than her previous location of a flowerpot out on the open patio in the midst of all the hustle & bustle of swim season.

I even had to do a little detective work to finally discover where she had nested this time…duck's nest of eggsLook at how precisely she’s got the eggs tucked in!

I was admiring the symmetry of  egg placement and carefully constructed nest when I heard the loud flap of wings as two male ducks arrived. I looked up just in time to see Katie revved up to greet them…ducks taking flight

Somehow I managed to capture this sequence of their reactions: MamaDuck taking flight, her peaceful swim disrupted; the male Mallards barely dipping into the water to shoot back up into the air for safety; and our dog, charging merrily at wildlife entering her fenced-in yard. (She had already had a full morning chasing the scent of a rabbit that had been meandering all over the garden, the back and front yard. ) Her eager retriever instinct was in full gear!

During this past weekend of Mother’s Day activities, my husband joked that perhaps I was providing “too nurturing” of a home environment that prompted this explosion of nature going on in our backyard.

Tree Sculpture

My hospitality dwindled when a mama squirrel built her nest IN our attic over the winter. The constant gnawing sounds that awakened us multiple nights in a 3-week period resulted in an unplanned home improvement project directed by a handy neighbor. The squirrel nuisance triggered a stream of workers traipsing through the house, cutting through a closet to get into the space to figure out where the squirrels got in and how to block their access.  I’m grateful to be past the phase of activating the “alert” status which brought our neighbor to the door with a head-lamp and a pellet gun. Although he was disappointed he never “got” them, he tapped in to some creative  squirrel-proofing that ended with some, um, rather unique Tree Art in our backyard!finding a hatchling turtle

Interesting times around here as mothers of all types are nesting, nurturing and launching their babies in different ways!

With graduation season in full swing, a lot of us mommas are in the same boat. Instincts of all kinds are kicking in and our emotions are tightly woven together like that MamaDuck’s nest. I’m not quite ready to unfold all of that yet though…

mother's day table & remote control car

I’m still soaking in the moments of Mother’s Day weekend, family gathered around the table and my guys making special efforts to cook & clean. Beyond those intentional actions, though, were some of my favorite moments…a son showing up beside me to help plant spring flowers, or offering to make a grocery run and bringing back a smoothie for me, or vacuuming out my messy car.

Spontaneous hugs. A kind gesture. A sneaky smile. These little pauses when I get to capture a one-on-one moment are the snippets I hold onto dearly, tucking them into my heart as I watch these boys mature in their own ways.

Mama Nature has some pretty cool stuff going on this spring.

I’m grateful for the close-up view that helps put things into perspective.

A Mother’s Heart page in Bible Quilt journal

Ordinary days  punctuated by extraordinary moments are special gifts to a mother’s heart.  I’m treasuring each one and hope you are, too!

 

 

 

 

 

How Does A Garden Grow?

“Digging in the dirt, the intrigue of a flower, the taste of homegrown veggies, tending to the crop and the fulfillment of the harvest…Gardening dwells in one’s soul.”

For a decade I attempted “patio” container gardening in a yard with A LOT of shade and no flat land. It was probably comical to watch me daily tote my pots of tomatoes and such to the ever-moving sunny patches in the yard! Those containers never thrived, and I always eventually grew tired as well.

I’ve been known to pick up seed catalogs and gardening books in late winter and “dream” up a garden plan…I’m pretty sure gardening has always been within me. And sometimes I think it would be fun to take gardening classes to better understand planting… but then I ultimately decide “trial and error” is more fun in the end. Exploring and learning along the journey of discovery is nice; I like the hint of unknown innocence that feels like uncharted waters.

My garden has been about 17 years in the making.  And this Spring I began one! My Boy Scout Sons drew sketches, walked out lengths in the yard with me and checked for sunny spots. My husband built the frame, and I collected 2 truck loads of dirt and worked alongside boys as we transferred and prepped the space. All the boys had specific things they wished to have in the garden. It may be too ambitious…who knows?? but I got everyone’s wish list items! And in the ground they went. My heart is happy. There is a contentedness that comes from a garden; and anticipated calm. I feel closer to God and my own true self when working in a garden. My boys seem to have a connection as well, and I like observing that. I look forward to them picking veggies, cutting flowers and plucking fruit from our garden. I dream of things like bacon and tomato sandwiches and fresh herbs to marinate and grill with…yum.

We made name tags for all the things in the garden. A friend gave me a creative trellis that makes me smile whenever I see it. The boys are giving “garden tours” to the neighborhood kids.  My youngest felt it was immensely important to plant a “rainbow” of flowers. So throughout the veggies and herbs, we did, (its tricky finding blue flowers!)

My memories go back to watching my grandfather in his garden. He had a huge plot and was meticulous in details and journaling his experiences; I was fascinated. My grandmother always had fresh vegetables at the dinner table; I make some of the same dishes and think of her.

I watched my mom garden also; getting advice from my grandfather. I would “linger” around mom’s garden and pick flowers from it. My happy place was a summer evening swinging in the yard and looking/dreaming by it. I planted some of my mom’s favorite flowers in my garden. 

My grandmother told me stories of her mom, my great-grandmother, in hard times many years ago. Gardens were communal for food, and flowers were too extravagant to have. My great-grandmother would cut paper flowers for funerals and weddings in her small town. Her heart was still in the beauty of the garden and she used the resources she had.

Gardens can grow by being passed down through generations. Little eyes watch and help, dreams are stirred, imaginations take flight in all ages, and seeds are planted.  Tastes, sights and the sounds in the garden are culminated within one’s heart. Plant something this season; more importantly, share the experience with those around you. You will just be amazed at all that can grow in a garden. 

“A sacred little spot of earth-  quiet, hopeful, yearning for a beautiful display of its full potential.”

Contrasts

Last week began with a two-day stay at the hospital with my son for an unexpected procedure following a dramatic  ER visit. This week started out with lovely spring weather and the chance to play in the dirt, planting pretty flowers. 

From one week to the next it was quite a contrast and, boy, am I grateful to have it moving in a positive direction! blossom

One end of my garden zone is full of shriveled plants, brittle vines, and cracked, dusty pots that have been neglected during the winter. The other end of my garden is beginning to show splashes of color amidst freshly turned soil and vibrant green starter veggies.

It’s a contrast between what has faded away and what is blossoming with hopeful growth.

adolescent turtle emerging
adolescent turtle emerging

Last fall we were eager to get the school routine in full swing again, fresh school supplies nestled into tidy backpacks. As the school year is now dwindling into mere weeks, the energy level for it is more sludgy than springy.

Final exams and long-term project deadlines loom overhead and students are slinking out the door as late as possible, ripped backpacks slung quickly over their shoulders.

The end of something is strikingly different from its fresh beginning.

Nature is full of contrasts and what pulls us in to wander about in different environments, stretching us beyond our familiar.climatis

Life is punctuated with peaks and valleys; our energy levels ebb and flow throughout the various seasons of family life.

These contrasts give us dimension and help strengthen our resolve to push onward. Contrasting experiences help us see deeper perspectives, softening our rough edges. We have the opportunity to adjust our outlook throughout the intensity of  the highs and lows, transforming ourselves in the gritty middle. 

lambs earContrast draws us in closer in our relationships. It adds texture and intrigue.

Contrasting opinions broaden our discussions, widening our cultural lens.

Contrast keeps boring at a distance.

Photographers seek it; architects nurture it.

When we pause to appreciate the contrasts of the human experience, our inward reflections deepen and our connections with others can become more fully saturated as we see richer hues in those around us.

Perhaps we can glimpse a sparkle of hope where we had only previously seen darkness.

The raggedness of grief may slowly slip into sweet reminiscence.

Maybe we  see the blossoming of a child as they overcome a personal struggle.

flowering in a crackAs graduation looms around the corner for many families, we’ll be struck by the contrast of our young, confident adults tackling their last days of school while we’re remembering their little faces on the first day of school.

They will be on the tippy toes of a new adventure while we’re clinging to their childhood for just a sliver longer. We’ll walk through the contrasting emotions of pride and loss; hope and disbelief . . . letting go and hugging just a little bit tighter. Parents will ponder, “how did this happen so fast?” while their kiddos wonder “will the last day evvver get here?”

Contrast highlights what’s important.

It sharpens our focus on details that matter.

It awakens our souls to pay attention.

Let’s embrace the contrasts that enrich our lives and weave us together ~~ God’s beautiful tapestry unfolding around us.



“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8



 

Let’s Paint Some Fish

So back in my student teaching days, the artist in me craved a creative outlet. I was intrigued with papier-mache and decided to give it a try. I wanted to be able to create something that I could paint with vivid colors and lots of patterns.

And that is how these papier-mache fish came to be!

I have to admit that in honesty, it became a little addictive. I found myself getting other tasks done quickly so I could continue in the layering and painting process of these fish. My imagination had plenty of space to roam with color combinations and patterns.

I started by blowing up balloons and hanging them in doorways, (thanks mom and dad for ducking every time you entered the kitchen!) I cut poster board and fashioned fins and gills to the balloon. Next was the layering process of papier-mache with newsprint, and a flour and water paste. Many layers with plenty of time to dry in-between…several days to get the form set.

Once the layers were complete and the drying time had passed, the fun part of creating the personality of the fish came! By cutting a large circle at the top of the balloon, a mouth was formed; trimming to make smooth edges. From there, I took them outside to spray them white so that my bold colors would shine, and to protect the newsprint with sealant.

My Happy Place is definitely painting bright colors onto things!

It is easy to look at the beautiful designs of tropical fish to get your patterns from; and the skies the limit on the color combos! Once I was  completely satisfied and had my fill of paint, I took each fish outside and again sprayed it; this time with a high gloss clear polyurethane to make it really sparkle and seal it properly.

These papier-mache fish are very lightweight and durable. My original set I have had for 20 years and they are doing great!! When I started teaching art, I found joy in taking clear fishing line and hanging these fish ALL over the ceiling of the classroom like one huge mobile project. To see so many across the ceiling made you feel like you were under the ocean. It was unexpected and fun!

For outdoor summer parties, my fish have been known to “swim” through the trees! Hanging them at different levels on branches is eye-catching and whimsical.

Adults and kids can easily do this project One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, 100 fish… that’s up to you!It is a very inexpensive craft project that reaps large rewards in the finished product. It is    ” good ol’ messy fun” at its simplest.  Ahhh, I can see Summer on the horizon!

Our Bible Quilt® Journey…one small step at a time

Small steps of obedience can lead to paths that unfold broadly before you, encompassing more than seems possible when you’re in the midst of day-to-day details, diligently pushing through the immediate tasks at hand.
Seasonal Bible Quilt page
Seasonally themed Bible Quilt page with Seniors

 

Our Bible Quilt® journey has been a series of small steps of faith that has yielded a wide variety of experiences that neither of us expected.

Bible Quilt Birthday party
Bible Quilt Birthday party

We just keep adapting to new opportunities as the Lord places them before us…one small step at a time.

Retreats. Road trips. Bible Study groups. Girls’ birthday parties. Youth groups. Senior centers…

10th Birthday Bible Quilting Party
10th Birthday Bible Quilting Party

 

We love how Bible Quilting connects people, drawing them closer together through the Word of God.

Sometimes it feels like sacred ground. 

Bible Quilting for all ages
Bible Quilting for all ages 

—///— We’re weaving Bible Quilting into the patchwork of our lives. —///—

CBS memory verse Bible Quilt page
Bible Quilt page for Community Bible Study memory verses
Bible Quilt foam board
Bible Quilt on large foam board for CBS Memory Verses

My Bible Study group is using a 1-page version to summarize all of our verses for the year. It’s been fun to watch it grow throughout the year.

As we’ve shared the Bible Quilt® with a variety of women’s groups, these circles are beginning to overlap. The Lord’s design emerges beautifully in these moments.

We are humbled to see how God is tugging at hearts through His scripture and thrilled to see women getting revitalized in His word.

Pajama night - Bible Quilt® Kids Club
Pajama night – Bible Quilt® Kids Club

Our Kids Club version arose to meet the desire of young kiddos that wanted to be doing what their moms were enjoying so much in their devotional time.

We love to hear stories about busy moms graciously inviting their children to Bible Quilt alongside them…and sometimes even sharing their washi tape! 😉

When our craft tables are filled with girls navigating through the awkward days of middle school or the pressures of high school, we’re grateful to be offering them a creative tool to ground them in their walk with the Lord. Laughter and scripture are a great combo!

Youth Group Bible Quilting
Bible Quilting session with Youth Group

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A year ago we formed our business and dove head-first into the trademark process. We waded into the world of accounting and became fierce prayer warriors for all sorts of new logistics and number-crunching. We cherished the moments of creativity and collaboration that offset the business-y side of things.

"Bible Quilting is my happy place!"I’ve become familiar with nervous bravery…you know that tingly feeling that can be excitement or near-the-line panic? I keep reframing it as energy to push forward and cling to my verse:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” Isaiah 41:10

During the ongoing commotion of life, we often craved solitude and slipped away to Bible Quilt.

Our Newton friends can be assured, we were furiously “Chasing Quiet” as we faced the challenges of a newbie business!

God’s timing is so gracious. During the week of the 1st-year anniversary of our business, we received the first batch of our printed Bible Quilt® journal. Take a closer peek in our shop!Bible Quilt® JournalWe’re carrying it around like a newborn, showing it off to our treasured supporters and dear mentors in faith. 

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During that same anniversary week, we were blessed to receive a real quilt from some lovely women who beautifully handcrafted our Bible Quilt® logo into it.quilted Bible Quilt®️ logo

Bible Quilt® logo quilt
Our Quilting Rockstars!

 

How sweet is that! 

Our hearts are full on this journey, walking out in faith one tentative step at a time.

Bible Quilt workshop - Kansas
Servant Warrior…a well-traveled missionary, leaping into the new territory of Bible Quilting

 

We invite you in to join uswherever you are on your spiritual journey.  

Local or online.

Whatever your age or season of life. 

Visit our Ordinary Threads Facebook page or join the community of Bible Quilters in our FB group to see what others across the country are sharing!

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Stitch us together, Lord, in Your Word

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Teaching Children To Bible Quilt

“I have no greater JOY than to know my children walk in the Truth.”  

When I first began my Bible Quilt two years ago, my 4 sons would linger beside me as I worked on my pages. It only took a few days before they asked if they could also have one of their own…


And so we adapted theirs to the things that pull boys heartstrings; words like STRENGTH,  COURAGE,  ARMOR,  VICTORY.  We used camouflage duct tape and scavenged the Bible for themes on friendship and battles and such. We got really good at drawing arrows and shields. We also began to carve out time together for “hunting” verses for our pages.

I have the joy of watching many children begin Bible Quilts while doing workshops.  Dianna and I will never tire from these beautiful moments. It is so fun to share our Quilts and show them the treasure of harvesting verses over their lives. We see Quilting Buddies emerge, playdates set to Quilt together, generations of a family collecting scripture together, and Legacy’s being created to pass down in families. To see a child’s favorite scriptures collected and written by their hand is priceless and eternal.

Once a child begins a Bible Quilt, their enthusiasm is contagious. Our family has quilting sessions at Mimi and PawPaw’s house on Sunday afternoons, and we’ve even traveled to the coast to share it with family friends this past summer.  We love to do pages on themes and holidays, but we also have rich time together when looking up verses on things like what a good friend looks like and how to take a stand against bullying, or fear; test-taking anxiety and where to place our hopes and dreams. Such abundant life skills that we all can reflect on.

 

In workshops, we make a big beautiful mess with paper, pens, washi tape, stickers and scripture! This is our true Happy Place!!  We share ideas for topics and page starters, and practice the many ways to find scripture and write it into our lives and onto our hearts. The power of God’s Word is awe-inspiring. 

The tools and training that each of us acquires while quilting, is priceless. Our hearts begin to yearn more and more for the Word of God.  As life circumstances crop up, it is satisfying to look to verses on a topic and let your heart reside in Peace. 

Teaching strategies and disciplines are great, but the conversation that flows out of Bible Quilting as children talk about their pages and share them with others is a layer that is unschooled. An overflowing of Joy comes off those pages of Living Words, and when you hear it on the lips of your children it will stir your soul. 

The opportunity that Dianna and I have been given to share Bible Quilting with all ages is beyond every good thing we could ever imagine; our hearts are full. If you’d like to begin your own Bible Quilt or start one with a child, please let us know, we would have no greater joy than sharing how to Quilt the Power of God’s Word with you. 

  

Bible Quilt logoDeuteronomy 6:5-9                                                        “Train up a child in the way they should go…”

daily life transformed by God into extraordinary tapestries

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