January always feels like a “do-over” month to me.
New Years Resolutions run rampant and exercise plans loom everywhere! It can be a pressure-filled month to get things squared away. All the while, Christmas is being packed away and school times are resuming. Just when our family had found a great rhythm of sleeping-in and perfecting how to chill… that alarm clock had to get involved again.
I tend to crave simplicity in January, too, as I clean up from the holidays. The impulse to organize and sort things begins stirring within me…(I’m trying to hold off till Spring!)
Ordinary Threads is about the many ways we layer a home, so I wanted to share a few of our January layers… These help lift the fog that hovers over January, while keeping the gems that linger from last month.
All the “togetherness” that happens during the holiday season spills into January for us. We grew accustomed to being with each other A LOT, and so we soak up the hush of winter with books and blankets intertwined on couches in coziness. I love love love this layer…this is how I get books read with my train of thought still intact. All of us in one space; in quiet. hunkered down, (With 4 boys this is a big deal!)
For some reason, the whole family cooks together more this month too. I don’t have a reason for this, but I love it. Again, I think we just stay near to whatever activity is happening in the house. I’ll take the company and clean-up!!
We linger longer and laugh out loud more often. We snuggle and wrestle and give bear hugs at a whim; all that holiday love living on; Makes a Mom Heart so Happy. We aren’t feeling the tug of being outside yet that Spring will lure us to soon enough. Relishing the quiet and coziness all the while we can. The January layers are calm and reflective. They can seem foggy, but they are still rich in content if you let them be. Enjoy January!
He fashions our hearts individually; He considers all our works. Psalm 33:15
I love Layers. They enter in to everything in life. They are a stacking, a grouping, a pile of accumulated something… and yes, they can be messy more often than tidy; they can be bulky and not slimming or mainstreaming…they can take time to collect and then to sort.
Layers show up in cold seasons when our wardrobes mingle together till we get just the right cozy-factor we want. Layers pile up in warm-hunkerdown casseroles and soups as we crave the mixed aromas that bring fulfillment.
Layers are a gift in a friendship that has weathered through rough storms and is there to rejoice on the mountaintops with you. And Layers of memories can bring something sacred to the heart that nothing else understands. Layers are beautiful.
God designed Layers to be peeled back too. If the layers become muddied, we can lift them and discard them till we reach the pure purpose again.
There is a woman who I have known that now is with the Lord, but I grew up in her presence. She was a remarkable woman and a treasured friend to my mother. She was intelligent and gifted academically, but more than that, she was a light. She extended her friendship to my mother in layers of Bible Studies that led to a beautiful ripple effect all the way to my life. When she knew her time was coming to a close, my mom found her one day at the book store with a full cart of books. When asked what she was doing, she plainly explained that she was finding all the books that had greatly affected her and influenced how she had walked through her life, so that she could give them to her adult children. The books, the words, the layers that she collected in her life that she wanted her children to know. Since she was not going to be able to share the layers piece by piece, she felt urgency to pile them together and have them ready.
This was impacting to my mother, and in turn, to my heart as well. I would so love to have that list of books she was collecting.. I admire her greatly, and I am thankful for her. As I read and collect my own layers of words that become part of my story, I have started to make a list of my own. One day, I can hand it to my children. Whether they read all my layers or not is neither here nor there…the importance is in the journey shared. Layers can show a timeline through the seasons of a life. Everyone piles on their own unique layers, but we are all influenced by the accumulation of others.
I just had a birthday, and although many of you know me, I won’t disclose my age today. I have this mindset that each birth day should truly be celebrated and embraced with the best attitude possible because there will be purpose played out in our lives when we are looking for it. This decade that I’m currently walking through has some twists and turns to it for sure!
Just when you feel really great, the body does something to make you feel older. When you jump in with both feet on a new project, the mind has you reflect on so many memories. So in this week of Christmas, I’m remembering to just soak up everything and try not to take even the little things for granted.
“Let’s Unwrap Some Memories”, I heard this phrase on the radio the other day and it really resonated with me. I’m not going to go deep into this, but thought it worthy of documenting…I hope it has you pause to reflect as well.
I take time to unwrap the memories of loved ones that aren’t with us anymore; I pause to share laughter and tears with my loved ones that still are in arms reach so we can continue to cement those precious memories into our lives.
I grab my camera often to capture moments unwrapping as my children have school parties, sports victories, quiet respite snuggles in with family…
I look for opportunities to create meaningful wrapping throughout each day in big and little activities…from sprinkle-flying gingerbread traditions and singing carols at the top of our lungs in the car, to reading books side-by-side in calm and quiet.
Unwrap Laughter and Joy and Connection while enjoying the gifts past and present with those that you hold dear. Merry Christmas! I hope you have much to unwrap in gratitude this year!!
Last weekend our two families had our 17th annual Gingerbread House baking session. Flour floated about in the air and candy sprinkles bounced to the floor as every cookie sheet I own was in action.
This year’s theme was “Jenks Trojans” since this is the one and only year that our combined crew of boys is attending the same school district.
Our boys range from Kindergarten to Senior year, covering the campuses of Elementary, Intermediate, Middle School, and High School. Several of us parents are Jenks Alumni, so it was fun to focus on our alma mater, too…and look through old yearbooks.
The photo of the completed project typically yields satisfied smiles and a well-tended gingerbread village, all neat and tidy. Yet it represents so much more.
We started this tradition when my oldest was 1 and Audra was newly married. An additional 1/2-dozen kids have joined the process since that first Christmas Eve when our only helpers were our reluctant husbands and one very enthusiastic mother-in-law.
We had no Pinterest to consult or Facebook to scroll for ideas. We had a generic gingerbread recipe from an old cookbook of Audra’s and my risky idea that melting granulated sugar until it became searing hot liquid could be the “glue” to fuse gingerbread walls together.
Each year we talk fondly of that first little house with its gaping roof hole and wonky proportions. We wince as we remember burning our fingers repeatedly with that molten sugar. We persevered that first night into the wee morning hours though because we were hopeful of starting a tradition between our two families.
Many versions of the Gingerbread House have been constructed since then, some more elaborate than others. Significant family events have been rolled into these Gingerbread gatherings just as consistently as we have rolled out the dough year after year.
We’ve made our Gingerbread creations in 3 states and 9 different houses. For several years running we added another child to the mix.
We’ve taken turns soothing hurt feelings and nurturing burned fingers. We’ve broken dishes, chipped rolling pins, and even taken a door off its hinges to move a super-sized gingerbread creation to another room. The one constant in all the candy chaos was the fusion of our families through this joint endeavor.
Throughout these annual Gingerbread adventures, cousins have connected in various ways, solidifying their family foundation just as our go-to cement icing strengthens the gingerbread structures firmly into place.
Each year we gather together with only a loose theme in mind and then begin the process of making large batches of gingerbread dough to see what the crew creates.
As ideas unfold, we reminisce about past gingerbread house successes and failures. Everyone seems to have a different “favorite” house based on a fun technique or unusual theme.
Our collective memories merge into heartfelt agreement that the sticky messes, the unforeseen challenges, the countless hours, and architectural frustrations are worth the sweet legacy kneaded into this culinary tradition.
As the boys have gotten older, they’ve become more involved in creating and constructing.
The adults have gradually learned to downshift into more supportive roles, allowing the smaller hands to manipulate the dough into their own unique concoctions.
Grandparents weave in and out of the frenzied activity, lending a helping hand or showing us how to pace ourselves.
Although we do like to “ooh” and “aah” over the completed gingerbread display, the true joy of finishing is seeing the individualized inputs synthesized into a cohesive creation.
As the dads set up tripods and arrange wiggly boys for a full team photo, the sugarload effect looms large as we grasp for one last “decent” shot with all eyes open. (Sometimes the photo sessions seems to take as long as the construction phase!) When the crew inevitably collapses into silliness and giggles, we shoo them out the door to run off their pent-up energy.
Each year we take a few moments to cherish the closure of another triumphant gingerbread round, wearily rejoicing and ignoring the crunchiness of my floor.
When I was a little girl, my mom and I would spend a week putting up Christmas in our home. It is a highlight in my childhood. We removed everything from table tops and hearth and brought in boxes of nativities, lights and garlands. We played carols and sipped on hot cocoa and apple cider the whole week. We reminisced about ornaments and even decked out the ceiling fan!! It was magical in every sense of the word for me. In the evenings, I would curl up with a blanket in the far corner of the room and bask in the glow of the lights from the tree; I dreamed grand dreams there. It still is one of my dearest places tucked within my heart.
Lean in, Linger, Listen to God’s voice. Let your Loved Ones Touch and Feel Christmas…it Touches Their Lives Forever.
We have these 5 Senses… and the Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity to play up every single one of those beautiful gifts! It is vital to all of us; young and old, to engage with one another. There are traditions, memories, and new starts all tangled together. There are candle smells, crackling fire sounds, warmth of familiar blankets, and tastes of yummy baking all swirled together in our memory banks. There are joys and sorrows interspersed too… they’re captured in the promise of Redemptive Peace during this month!
So let the children decorate the tree. Give them a step stool so they can stretch on tippy toes to hang their ornament high. Pile books near so that you have the fun of catching them sprawled out by the tree reading in the glow of the twinkle lights. Set up an Advent Box and let the finishing touch of each evening end with something nourishing for the soul and a sweet treat for the taste buds!
Leave space on a table for a puzzle or crafts to be dreamed up. Decorate a Gingerbread House or Cookies and make a HUGE mess!! (And don’t stress about it in the process; let your loved ones AND you enjoy and play.)
As I grew up surrounded by cousins, we annually created a play to perform on Christmas Eve together. We dreamed up the story, wrote out the lines, created scenery even! When the big night arrived, we passed out programs and felt the excitement mount… All our senses were engaged. It was equally as fun preparing those plays to opening the presents. We lingered longer with one another and had so much fun.
As I write and reflect. I feel very blessed to have had so many Touch and Feel Christmases in my life so far. It’s become such a part of me, that I pass that on to my kids from my heart. Whether you share the same experiences or not, it is never ever too late to engage those around you in the same feelings. You can go whole hog, or simply linger in more intentional time with someone; both result from the same desire.