All posts by Dianna

The Pumpkin Snatchers

The Halloween hijinks are over. Costumes are crumpled up on closet floors or stuffed back into dress-up bins. Pumpkins have been transformed into jack-o-lanterns and left abandoned on porches as kids have turned their attention to sorting and eating ALL the candy.felt turkey pumpkin

What if you took this interlude between Halloween and Thanksgiving as an opportunity to be a little sneaky with your kids to bless a neighbor in a fun way?

Simply choose a neighbor that would receive a surprise well. Sneak over to your neighbor’s porch with your child and steal adopt a pumpkin. Decorate it and return it to its own front porch. This is a quick, fun little way to create community among neighbors.

As with many things in parenting, I stumbled upon this sneaky activity as my son and I were sorting through craft supplies and discovered some long feathers that he had received from his grandma. We thought they looked like turkey feathers and we searched around for something that would make a turkey body…hmmm, something like a plump pumpkin? Since we had carved all of our large pumpkins, we were soon on our way over to steal borrow a neighbor’s pumpkin that looked just right…it even had a long “turkey neck” vine protruding from its top. My son poked those long feathers into the pumpkin rind and I bent pipe cleaners into something resembling turkey feet. We glued on some googly eyes and a little red wattle…before too long we had a Turkey Pumpkin emerge.

turkey pumpkin

Turkey pumpkin on neighbor's porchThen came the fun part! In the cover of dusk, we crept behind vehicles and skulked along the side of our house and fence to sneak alongside the neighbor’s house and down their front sidewalk. We gingerly placed our Turkey Pumpkin on their porch and scurried away. Now we weren’t sure what to do. An animated whispered discussion ensued there in the dark space between our two houses: do we ring the doorbell? do we knock on the door? do we just wait to see if they notice what’s happened to their pumpkin? How loonnnng would that take?

We couldn’t stand the anticipation….we decided to RING and RUN. We peeked over the car and watched their reactions unfold. Holding hands, we crouched down and snuck back into our house, tucking those memories into our hearts. I savored the delight in my son’s eyes from our little spontaneous excursion out of our comfort zone to spring an unexpected blessing onto our neighbors.turkey pumpkin #2

A family tradition was started that year, involving a younger brother the next year, and continuing until those neighbors moved away. It was a small gesture yet a community connection that lingered…perhaps returning the “favor” of all those school, soccer, and scout fundraisers that our neighbors had graciously supported throughout the years.

sneaking pumpkin to neighbor's house
sneaking to neighbor's house

 

Baylor Bears pumpkinYou can use whatever craft supplies you have on hand or do a quick outdoor scavenger hunt to use some bits of nature. Keep it simple and allow your child’s creativity to guide you. You could even paint pumpkins in your neighbor’s favorite sports team colors. #SicemBears

Your child will delight in the surprise element of this unusual “gifting.” Enjoy the camaraderie that develops!

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” Proverb 20:11

Pause, please, not Fast-Forward

red rocking chairs

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

In the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, sometimes we need to break away by ourselves. We need some quiet space to reflect on God’s word and re-center our busy minds, allowing our spirits to refresh. We drink in the solitude and feel our burdens ease. You may have a favorite park bench or a quiet corner at home where you can tuck in with a cup of coffee and have some quiet time. You may have to steal away a bit more stealthily if you have little ones trailing after you, capitalizing on their attention diverted to something else for a few minutes.

I like to slow down and have a few moments on my porch after a long walk, soaking in the stillness around me before the bustle on the other side of the door greets me. I may just sit and absorb the muted sounds of the neighborhood for a while. I mside porch looking outay listen to an uplifting podcast or a cheerful vox message from a close friend. A few minutes on “pause” does me a world of good. Sometimes I’m able to stretch this into devotion time and can then feel the quiet settle deeply within me, nudging my soul.


“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14


Other times I feel like I’m playing tag with His Presence! It feels more like “catch me if you can!” all day long rather than being able to have that Quiet Time sanctuary.

Some days I’m more mindful of choosing to be IN his Presence in each thing I do, prolonging that sense of peace in my spirit. More often, though, the distractions of life interfere. These don’t even necessarily have to be problems, just daily hassles we all face. Are you weary doing the “good” things in life? We can feel worn out just by meeting the kids’ needkatie in cars day after day, keeping the household afloat, and managing our workload. In the rush of a typical day, sometimes we hope for a moment to catch a deep breath as we’re zipping around in the car between activities. We just need a pause to be able to move on to the next activity a little more intact.

If we are FEELING the fast-forward pace, our children are experiencing the rush also and probably even more intensely. What life marathon are we really training them for? How can we incorporate a little positive self-talk, a moment of silence, AND model some “balance” for our kiddos?

We’ve all heard about “attitude adjustments” and “reframing,” but what about a “soul break?” What if we had a chance for some restoration and a shift in our focus to tap back into God’s presence so we can continue on with our day a little more graciously? What if we took a few moments to reflect on our blessings rather than our obligations? I’d cherish a break like that and know my family would reap the benefits, particularly at the end of a long day. If we can’t bring back the afternoon nap for adults, then maybe we can achieve a few minutes to pause for a “soul break?” I’d like some dark chocolate with mine, please. ?

reflecting pond

Stand In

Sometimes in friendship we are called to Stand In.

When we see a friend struggling, we pause what we’re doing and step into her situation with her. However messy it is, we Stand In beside her. We join her in her moment of distress, coming alongside and being present. Sometimes we Stand In quietly, providing gentle comfort in a time of loss. Other circumstances may call for us to step in with purpose, to take the reins for a while and let her get her bearings. She may need a hug; or she may need space. She may need alone time; or she may need a humorous distraction. When initially faced with a friend’s crisis, we may feel highly uncertain about how to help. This is when we dig deeply into our friendship history, courageously following our instincts and praying for Gprayod’s direction to offer what we can that can help her through this particular difficulty. We cannot take on her struggle or fix it for her, but we can Stand In to help hold her loose threads, supporting her as she gathers herself. Our mere presence states, “I am here with you. You are not alone.”

When we Stand In with a friend, this encourages her to slow down and process what challenge she is facing. She may be grieving a loss that’s expected after a loved one’s illness or she may be facing an unexpected loss that has shaken her foundation. She may be overwhelmed by her own health diagnosis she has just been given. She may be grieving the loss of frayed threads, such as the severing of a marital knot that she thought she would always have, but that came unraveled and can’t be tied back together. She may be grieving the connection that she had with a parent who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease; that bond now seems shaky and unpredictable. She may be struggling with a teenager’s rebellious and troublesome choices. Pain and grief have many faces and storylines. We can relate to some situations better than others because we have a common thread in our own personal stories. When friends are in distress, we don’t unload our stories onto them. We can empathize with the feelings they’ve shared. We Stand In; we do not take over.

flowers in the cracksA friend’s struggle is a reminder that we are all vulnerable to disappointment, grief, and despair. It can feel very close and intense, particularly if it mirrors some of our own struggles. Yet it is also an opportunity to love on that friend, to nurture her in ways that help her through her pain. God can use these tender moments to weave friendships even tighter and create beauty where so much anger and doubt has been. He can show us beauty in the cracks of life. It’s not easy to Stand In — to have a magnified view of someone else’s hurt. It’s uncomfortable and messy. It may feel like we “aren’t doing much to help,” but sometimes providing that steadfast presence of authentic support can make it possible for your friend to grasp those loose threads and regain her strength.


 “Two are better than one…if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


double acorns on red leaf

How you Stand In will look different from how I do it or how someone else might. Be real. Be yourself. Being authentic will ring true to your friend when you make your gesture of support. Many of us have difficulty accepting help during stressful times, but the genuine specific gestures are somehow easier to accept.

How we Stand In may also look very different from friend to friend. You may be led to send a card or care package to one, but feel compelled to visit another one face to face. Some friends may benefit from long phone calls, thoughtful emails, or encouraging texts. Sometimes you show up and do laundry, bring a meal, or provide rides for her kids to their activities. Other times you lend support by providing a buffer, perhaps being the contact person for a meal train or coordinating outreach from different sources (church, neighbors, work) so that your friend doesn’t have to manage these. Sometimes you sit beside her as she cries and sobs, providing silent solace. You remind her that she is loved; that she is a child of God. You offer tissues…and chocolate (or whatever her go-to comfort is). Essentially, Stand In when she needs you the most — when she’s not even sure herself what she needs. Embrace the relationship. Relinquish your to-do list and act on those intentions of caring for your friend. Those “good intentions” may just be a whisper from the Holy Spirit sharing insight into what she needs.

 

The Second Mile

Reflections from a Reluctant Runner

What challenge are you facing today and who’s joining you?

I am not a runner out of strong desire or natural talent. It’s work. I like to eat, so it’s an effective calorie burner. I’ve succeeded with jogging fairly well in the past…mainly because I had a posse of friends also in the novice stages of running. We leaned on each other hard, taking turns whining and combatting each others’ excuses (“too hot,” “too cold,” “too windy,” “too early,” “too tired”…you get the gist).

running shoes-getting started

Let’s face it. Getting out of the door in the morning, preparing to go for a run, can be a monumental struggle. Drama before breakfast can undo even the most committed. Once the kiddos have left for school, the lure of a quiet house is strong. The distractions of the to-do lists are daunting, the need “to get started” pulls hard. Unexpected delays crash in…phone calls, sick kids, the beloved family dog takes off running after a squirrel…sometimes these are, ahem, welcome distractions because the gumption just doesn’t feel like it’s there.

running shoesThen, if you’ve conquered the getting-out-of-the-house juggernaut, you face the first mile. Sometimes the morning air is crisp and welcomes you, but often the weather doesn’t cooperate or you’re still functioning too much on autopilot to take notice. That first mile is tough. You’re working out the kinks, trying to manage some gulping breaths, feeling ALL the aches of the day before. Thoughts such as “WHY am I doing this to myself?” or “I am NOT a runner. I can’t do this” rage freely. Where’s the traffic cop for negative self-talk when you need her most?

Its the second mile, though, that I begin to settle in. My body is looser, my breathing is leveling out, and I exhale heavily, letting the stress out. The second mile is when I tune in to the nature around me, tapping into my surroundings and noticing the activity around me. This is when my thoughts begin to take shape, to follow a thread…often it’s replaying something from the day before; more frequently it’s focusing on what’s on the horizon, the perpetual “nexts” that are always hovering. Some days I’m more capable of directing my thoughts in a productive way, but generally I let them float. God surprises me in the simple solutions He provides when I allow my mind to wander, to connect with the still, small voice often muffled by the jumble of noise in my head. He answers unspoken prayers and reveals insights in these moments of the second mile. I wouldn’t have received them or responded to them if I hadn’t persevered through that first mile.

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… ” Hebrews 12:1-2

red leaf and running shoeIronically, we always have to plod our way through that first mile to get to the second. We have to put in the effort to get the result. When we do, there awaits a stillness in our spirit, an attunement of mind and body working together. We are His workmanship. God knows we face this struggle and perhaps the Second Mile is His gift to us for striving and persevering. For hurdling through the first mile of homework with our children to reach that “ah-ha” moment in their second round. For calming the tantruming toddler to be able to enjoy the sweetness of an impromptu snuggle later. So let’s bask in the “glow” of the Second Mile for a bit…because I don’t really want to rush to Mile Three just yet.

 


 

 

Words in our Home

The words we speak in our homes are so powerful. Words can be spoken in a way that edify and result in strengthening the connections we have with one another. Or our words can tear down and fray those tender threads that link us to our loved ones.

Words within a family carry underlying messages:

“I know you.” “You are meaningful to me.”
“I want to continue our story together.”
“We have something shared that’s unique to us.”

Not only the content, but the tone conveys so much….are we communicating warmth? criticism? rejection? belonging? This is a daily struggle. I have to be intentional DAILY in my choice of words, my timing, and especially my tone of voice. The words we have posted throughout our homes are as much for us as parents as they are for our children. They are reminders to maintain the peace, to speak truth, to be kind.

there's no place like home
“there’s no place like home”

When we think about the “tapes” in our heads from our own childhood, what do we hear? Think back to those tender junior high lunch encounters, those rowdy high school band trips, those tension-filled college interviews. How many of those events had a word or phrase etched into the memory? How many of these were more negative than positive because it felt seared into us at the time?

The lines repeated to us the most and grooved into us are most likely from our closest family members and carved in deeply during intense interactions filled with highly charged emotions. What are we as parents instilling in our children’s heads? What tracks are we laying down? When our child is in a tough spot, does our voice pop in with an encouraging tone “you’ve got this!” or a negative tug “what did you do NOW?” Home is where we practice our words and reactions with one another. It’s where the training ground is for communication.

My husband and I have been working toward fostering a ‘no criticism’ buffer around our dinner table, redirecting and reminding our sons to rephrase negative statements they make to one another. Recently, we capitalized on a sermon we heard about not using a filter of negativity with one another. The pastor’s message was about how much we “filter” over our interactions, not being true and genuine, often putting a negative spin on others to cast ourselves in a better light. Since we heard this message as a family, I made a #nofilter reminder sign and place it in the center of our table. When this reminder was first invoked, my #nofilteroldest son was particularly quiet throughout the meal. My middle son noticed this and complimented his brother on respecting the #nofilter rather than make critical comments to correct his younger siblings’ stories. We acknowledged both of their efforts and moved on, not dwelling on it. It’s a little reminder with a powerful impact: this time and place is a protected space to be yourself

The family dinner table is a small zone to cover, but so far seems manageable. It creates a safe zone when we all come together for a meal, especially if we’ve been scattered in different directions throughout a busy day. This safety zone invites us to linger a little longer over a meal because feelings aren’t being hurt by inadvertent comments or direct put-downs. It’s slowly becoming a family norm so we as parents don’t have to police the verbal barbs quite so much.

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

One night shortly after starting this new routine, I served baked apples as a fall treat. I suggested to my youngest, who was my dinner helper, to come up with a quick family game. He chose “Apples to Apples” to coincide with our dinner. We did a 10-minute round of the game, which ended in a greater sense of family closeness and much laughter at my husband’s expense. (Now we have a new family catch phrase “Glitter hands!” that we can use as a tension breaker, but that’s another story!) I think I had more energy to prolong the dinner into a family activity because we hadn’t been refereeing negativity. It’s a simple shift in a specific family routine that hopefully will gradually extend into other interactions.

Where might your #nofilter zone be? At your dinner table? In the car? At bedtime? During school drop-off? The 30-minutes right after a child’s sporting event?

 

 

 

 

Welcome

Walk with us

welcomeWe are embarking on a journey and invite you to come along. Just as you are, in the midst of your ordinary day. Walk with us as we explore the beauty in everyday moments. We may linger at some points along the way, wander around a bit, or sometimes seem to have a frenzied pace to meet a determined goal.

We have been walking life together for 17 years. God has bound us together through our marriages to two brothers and the shared experience of us both being mothers of boys. Our lives have intertwined through the course of family gatherings, holidays, vacations, and raising children. We have a lot of common threads in how we live our daily walk and share similar views of parenting. In many ways we are very different, but we have learned how our personalities complement each other in our combined families.

We are curious about how God transforms the Ordinary Threads of daily life into extraordinary tapestries of family, community, and unique individuals. We are particularly focused on how these Ordinary Threads are woven into our homes and how we as women layer these threads in the midst of all the bustling activity from day to day.

There’s a bit of mystique involved in transitioning a house into a home. God created in each of us a strong desire to provide a warm, nurturing environment for our families…to make our houses into homes that are safe havens in which to nurture our little people and to support our hard-working husbands. It’s not a simple task; it certainly doesn’t occur overnight. It’s a process we’ve shared throughout the years and want to broaden our sharing community with you.Dianna & Audra

Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.