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Simple & Sweet

How’s your holiday wind-up going? OR, are you more of a holiday wind-down person?

poinsettiaSome days it feels as if we’re productive little elves tackling our lists and everything is falling into place.

Other days we’re sluggish and want to binge-watch all the familiar holiday shows with predictable endings.

It’s dizzying to be cast us into these extremes, yet it’s probably familiar territory to most of us.

Family Christmas card albumYesterday as I was shifting from a morning full of appointments to an afternoon at home facing a lengthy to-do list, I caught myself pausing to browse our family album of Christmas photo cards.

I smiled as I remembered the angst of assembling  outfits for professional photos at my son’s preschool. I  reflected on the fun trips that wedged their way into the Christmas card highlight for the many years we didn’t do portraits.

Snapshots in time…18 years of family life flipped through in a few quick minutes.

Christmas card Blessing Ring
2018 Christmas card Blessing Ring

None of our own Christmas cards have been addressed yet this year, but we’re enjoying the trickle of cards arriving from family and friends. As we read each one, we hole-punch it and add it to our Holiday Blessing Ring.

Several years ago I stumbled upon a trick to manage the influx of holiday cards, and it’s become a tradition of sorts. We keep a small collection of cards from previous years in a cheery red box. As the current year’s batch of cards goes in, a previous year goes out. (I think we’re saying farewell to our 2011 bunch this year.) It’s an intentional way to honor the sentiment yet manage the clutter. 

Simple activities strung together year after year build some family cohesiveness during the busy season.

Our advent countdown certainly has varied throughout the years as the boys have gotten older. We keep using the same scraps of folded paper that we did a decade ago, notes scrawled quickly then yet  holding treasured memories now.

The unique clanky notes of a musical snow globe call us together…another “tradition” that just sort of happened, but has become a sweet way to remember the grandmother who gave it to us years ago.Advent box This year another grandma is living with us and is part of our cobbled-together advent time.

When we engage in silly games we played with the boys when they were little, we’re drawn closer to one another through those collective memories etched into our hearts.Christmas bingo

The other night’s advent box prompt was “find Christmas bingo and play it.” We joked about the age of the macaroni we continue to use as bingo markers, a throwback to elementary art projects.

Some evenings we double up for previous nights we’ve missed. We share memories of past Christmas shenanigans: the Christmas Eve when our oven shorted out and shot sparks across the kitchen, torching our special dinner inside as it went out in a blaze of glory ...last year’s Christmas tree falling over and crushing ornaments in its wake …the year 9 out of 10 family members got the stomach flu. Each memory is strengthened as it’s shared again with a slightly enhanced perspective.childhood Christmas books

Simply reading a childhood Christmas book together slows us down and lures us into family snuggle time.

Some of the books are traditional, a couple are written by childhood friends, and others reflect the quirky sense of humor of our extended family.a child's letter to Santa

Occasionally we’ll find a sweet surprise tucked into one of the books.

Recently we discovered our son’s 2007 letter to Santa. This simple wide-lined page of his careful 1st-grade handwriting sparked a host of memories and launched a discussion about other wish-filled magical letters.

As Decembers pile up on one another, we’re often left with a beautifully  compressed memory of home and family. When the hustle feels like it’s too much, I turn to these small reminders of treasured ordinary moments that are Simple and Sweet.

handmade snowflake
handmade snowflake on family Christmas tree

 


“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” James 1:17



Audra and Di at Open House
P.S. Our last Bible Quilt session of the year is tonight. Come join us!

 

Love Is A Language

To that gentle, weary woman I stood behind in the grocery line this morning:

I saw you. I heard you in your “resolved calm” as your 3 babies in the cart made their presence known. I watched one make faces with me while you unloaded your cart to the conveyor belt, (I made faces back). I watched you gently put the second one’s leg back into the cart from the side as he tried to attempt a bailout. I listened to the cries of the one in the baby carrier; screaming for release. I observed your presence of peace.
“How PEACE in the midst of such a crazy season???” (I remember that season so clearly; not always peaceful.))
muddy warriors
I watched the looks of irritation, and I heard the huffs of disapproval from some…I could sense the judgments that you were surrounded by.  And yet, you were CALM. Your demeanor was Peace and Calm; that is a beautiful reflection of Christ. That is what I saw. Some may have thought you and your cartload a nuisance, but I saw an example of LOVE. Thank you for sharing that treasure.
The 5 Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell is a well-known book that I have loved from the first reading of it. I read through and could identify various people with this or that attribute. I found the main  Love Language in myself, my husband, Mom, Dad, etc…
My heart was really stirred to pick the book up a month before school began and read it again; this time with 4 different colored pens for each of my 4 sons.
The knowledge of the Language types intertwined with the heart-connect for loved ones is a phenomenal thing to unfold! I just can’t recommend it enough!!
Understanding that all 5 types of Love are important to all of us is one thing…but then matching someones personality and character to 1 or 2 Languages…and then seeking out what that looks like in tangible Love for them is exciting!!!
I have 2 sons that relate the most to Physical Touch. Through the book, I learned that they really love gifts like cozy pjs or soft blankets; a flannel shirt is epic to them.
Another son gravitates toward Gifts. I never truly understood this language; since we all love getting gifts… but now I see that the package, presentation, etc. of the “gift” is treasured and noticed more by this personality type. Something that is made special or personalized; a favorite meal…all go a loooong ways for this one.
And so, after reading The 5 Love Languages for Children again, I made a little list that has become my go-to sheet when trying to relate to one of my children the best way I can. I highly recommend doing this for your family! I wrote down each child’s name, and then put their main Love Languages beside them, while writing out ideas to do with or for each son. I refer to it a lot; especially on hectic days when my brain needs a little reminder and I’m grasping for Peace. I found myself reflecting, praying and loving each child much more intentionally since this book. Go get a copy, read it, ask the Lord to show you your loved ones through His eyes, and be blessed while blessing them.  

Love is a Language, the greatest is Love!

#31daysof_____: Day Eight

Day Eight

Take a moment for quiet as you read your devotional. 

Bible Quilting family devotions
Bible Quilt family devotions

How does today’s verse inspire you?

Any changes in your life that might activate this particular message for you today?

Chasing Quiet Day 8: Live Quietly 

Bible Quilt your selected verse:  Doodle or just write the words simply. Enjoy your own process.

#31daysofquiet Day 7 BQ
#31daysofquiet #day7 #biblequiltjournal

Pray.  Lord guide us this day as you show us ways to quiet ourselves throughout the day. Let our hands be productive for your kingdom work.


 #31daysof_____ template set

Glow Paint

Painting is fun. Painting is even MORE fun when it glows in the dark!! And so a new family favorite came to be…

 

The boys and I headed to the store to buy 3 yards of Solar System fabric. We have a bunk bed that we thought could be “pizazzed” up a bit. Our plan was to staple the fabric to the bottom of the top bunk, (sure beats staring up at slat boards!) But as we all watched the fabric being stretched and cut, the lady asked us what we were making. She loved our idea and then said, “You know, glow paint would be perfect to go with your project…” WHAT?!! Why Yes it would!!! We LOVED this idea and grabbed a bottle on the way out of the store.

So now our awesome Solar System has glowing rings around the planets, sparkle through the Milky Way and a spark flying with the shooting stars! The boys and I just love to lay under it all curled up and talking about the galaxy and how awesome it all is and how BIG our God is to have created such an amazing thing. Who knew 3 yards of fabric and some glow paint could be such a beautiful catalyst to rich time together in the unwind of our days. We are now looking around for more projects that could use some GLOW!

GLOW:  A steady radiance of Light

I love the strong definition of the word GLOW. I love it even more when I apply it to time with Jesus. This is what we long for; a steady, constant of God’s anchoring presence each day. His GLOW to shine and direct us, cause us to pause and really see, pull others in to linger with us in these many beautiful moments that we would miss if His GLOW was not applied. Just let the Lord GLOW  in our lives. 

Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

 

 

We will be Bible Quilting tonight if you are local! Come and bring a friend as we enjoy the Word together.

What’s your fulcrum?

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a teeter-totter, but I have fond childhood memories spending time with a special friend, seesawing and giggling as we soared up and down on that creaky teeter-totter.

The seesaw is an example of one of the  6 simple machines that we learned about way back in elementary science class. The  integral piece of a teeter totter is the fulcrum, the point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots.

solo seesawA teeter-totter is one of those playground structures that requires a friend. It’s rather pointless to sit on a teeter-totter by yourself. It doesn’t get you anywhere. As soon as you’re joined by a friend, however, it becomes an interactive piece of equipment with “fun” potential.

Friends share each other’s ups and owns, balancing each other out. When one friend is down, the other often has a clearer perspective of the situation. You can help a friend shift back into neutral by leaning in or adjusting your own position.

Reciprocity is a beautiful part of friendship. This give-and-take between friends strengthens the relationship as friends buffer each other in the ups and downs of life.

We can soften the landing if we see a friend heading for a hard fall.teeter-totter

We can slow down the pace when the momentum gets too frenetic.

We can offset the load by grounding ourselves for a moment, standing firm to steady our friend.

To manage our end of the teeter totter, we need to maintain contact, being aware of our friend’s level of readiness for impact.

Most importantly we need to have a shared fulcrum that allows us to have some leverage when we need it. The fulcrum plays an essential role. We depend on it for support and stability. It bears our combined weight even as we gain momentum together.

When we lean on the Lord as the fulcrum in our relationships, we depend on Him for support to bear our emotional weight and to dissipate our shared burdens.

loaf of bread in mailbox
Special delivery: a fresh loaf of homemade bread from a friend

We all have a turn at the downs of life and may find ourselves on the receiving end of a friend’s kind gesture. During these tender times, we’re challenged to be open and receptive even though it feels a little vulnerable.

sliced homemade breadWhen we hear struggles that our friends are facing, sometimes it’s unclear how we can help. Although we can always offer to pray, sometimes we want to put our support into more tangible action.

It can be tricky knowing when to offer a word of encouragement or figuring out an action step to support a friend. We have some social norms that guide us in some situations, but otherwise this helping gig can seem pretty murky.

Moving day - bunch of fun
Moving day: Have a BUNCH of fun in your new home!

This year I’ve been working on releasing expectations and praying that I follow the Lord’s leading in each day as it unfolds. I’ve tried to be more intentional when I feel a #Godnudge to do an act of support for a friend. Sometimes these nudges seem small or random, but the obedience to follow through on them allows the Lord to do His work.

To connect with long-distance friends, sometimes I’ll call them while I’m taking a walk to catch up. It’s a double stress reliever…often for both of us.

walking the dogRecently when I was chatting with  an out-of-state friend, she offered prayer support for a family situation. Then she commented that she wished she could help me out in some way. I had a #Godnudge to ask her if she had some simple recipes she could send me to take the brainwork out of menu planning. Having something new to try helped me regain some momentum in the kitchen.

Last Tuesday, I stepped out of my comfort zone to reach out to someone I didn’t know concerning a sweet girl and a group of her friends. Within 24 hours, this same girl was acting on a #Godnudge to do something for me.

These little interactions reminded me that when we connect through Him and utilize Him as the pivot point in our relationship, He can bless us in many different ways.

Lean in.

Reach out.

Listen for that #Godnudge.

Be brave as you act on it…and gracious receiving.



“God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1

Bible Quilt: refuge and strength
#biblequiltjournal God is our Refuge and Strength
Whatever you may be facing today, may the Lord be your fulcrum, resting in Him for your strength.

For you locals ready to gear up for some more Bible Quilting, we resume our Weekly Wednesday sessions next Wednesday evening. Come join us!

Our Colorful Home

A Rainbow of colors is always what my heart has adored. When I was a little girl I spent many hours coloring and creating with the whole box of crayons. I’m looking at the color spectrum today through the lens of the home…here is what I saw.  (I hope you try this exercise in your own home; you can’t help but smile!

 

Let’s start with RED! It’s my very favorite, and always has been! I carry or wear something RED every day if I can.  My little RED pirate is a bit older now, but this is intuitive of his lively spirit! This other small sleeper reminds me that his RED winter blanket is out year round because he loves it so.

A garden is a dear piece of my heart reminding me of my grandparents and then my mom always digging in the soil. These RED tomatoes grown by my own kids also reminds me of tasty summer dinners! And when finishing an ocean adventure one summer, these treasures with the RED heart leaf were handed to me by a son to “keep safe” while he ran back into the calling waves.

ORANGE is another favorite of mine! The warmth that comes from this color, along with the liveliness it evokes, makes my heart happy. These ORANGE pumpkins are a snapshot I take every Fall after the boys have picked their carving pumpkins and thrown them all together in a wagon; I always love to see the collection! All the shades of ORANGE from bright to burnt are so beautiful mixed together. One of our family’s favorite Fall activities is nature walks and collecting colorful leaves to press. (It’s such a feast for the eyes.)

 

Oh! The orneriness that comes out of the color YELLOW!! It makes one feel bold and giggly! I walked in one evening after dinner was over and found this cutie playing on the counter in his footy jammies! We just exchanged smiles and kept going.  

There was a season when all our babies were small and self-preservation kicked in for us; this inflatable YELLOW bounce house was one of the best purchases ever!! It stayed up in our living room for 4 months!

 

 

And after a Cinqo de Mayo many moons ago, we instituted the GREEN cactus chip and dip as the only acceptable thing to accompany salsa in the month of May! We crack ourselves up every time we set this up! There’s no need to ever deflate it.

 

There is no doubt in any of our minds who the firecracker is in our family. This little squirt is a bundle of energy always; and these GREEN pjs were paired with Santa hats, elf ears, gingerbread handbands…you name it, he danced with it on top of his head!

BLUE is an important color in all my boys lives. Many afternoons have been spent on a playground since children became a part of my heart. Their eyes always look up into the BLUE sky at some point of play and share what they see in the clouds…I love the imagination that comes from  BLUE!

 

 

PURPLE  is not a color that appears regularly in our home; no particular reason. It does show up in accents though. There are a few snippets that highlight other colors from time-to-time.

 

 

 

And as we come full circle from the rainbow, it’s very clear to my eye that any combo of these colors is what makes our seasons come to life! Take a look at the colors in your home and enjoy the memories that they help you make with one another. It’s a really fun exercise.

Wishing you a very COLORFUL Season!