Category Archives: Words

How to add a little Sparkle to your Ordinary

Are you familiar with the phrase, the liturgy of the ordinary?

walking the dog
Walking the dog

How much do we pay attention to the daily practices that absorb our time and skew our perspective simply through their mundane repetition?

watering the plants
Watering the plants

As I picked up my groceries the other day, I had a startling reminder that we can experience more joy and connectedness in our daily hustle, sowing seeds a little along the way, rather than resigning ourselves to the drudgery of repetitive chores or errands.

I pulled up into slot #7 & called the pick-up number to notify them of my arrival. Someone answered and yelled into the phone, “WALMART GROCERY PICKUP!” I was so startled I almost dropped the phone, noticing that I already had ringing in my ear from the loud screech.

Almost immediately, the voice on the other end of the line began to apologize, laughing nervously. I asked, Is this Tanya? It was my turn to surprise her because I recognized her voice. “Uh, yeah” she replied somewhat sheepishly. I told her my name and she began laughing, saying “Oh, it’s you! I’m SO sorry! I’ll be right out!”

Typically I don’t call the number. I usually activate the app as I’m leaving my house to warn them of my impending arrival. In fact, I had never talked to Tanya on the phone before.  

How did I know it was her?

Instinctively, I knew it was her because the two of us have been part of each other’s Liturgy of the Ordinary.

As part of her job, she rolls out my grocery order, informs me of substitutions, and cheerfully loads my groceries in the back of my well-lived-in cargo area. As part of my  Momjob, I’m frequently in the waiting zone, rolling down my window and squiggling my autograph on her order phone.

Tanya and I have chatted over the course of the last few months as our mundane duties have bumped us  together more often than I’d like to admit. (A household of teenaged appetites is my excuse for such frequent visits, not poor menu planning…surely not!)

We have become familiar with one another, often sharing a knowing smile of “here we go again!” as we move through our well-choreographed grocery dance.

What began as an ordinary Monday grocery pick-up this week turned into laughter and connection, giving us both a boost of positive energy to resume our rote routines. She hugged me spontaneously and said something along the lines of “Thanks for always being so great! You’re awesome!”

full cartAs I drove home with my grocery bags jostling each other, I was lighter in spirit and grateful for a little unexpected sparkle in my day.

The mundane task of putting all the food away and preparing the next meal still loomed, but my perspective shift was noticeably clearer.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us.” Psalms 90:17

 

By the way, if you don’t know about grocery store pick-ups, do it! I wish it had been available when my kiddos were younger and in carseats… a game-changer, for sure!

Now, go discover the Sparkle in your Ordinary day, my friend!

 

Dandelion Wish and a Bucket List

The List:

  1. Unstructured days:  swimming and laughter

  2. Summer nights: lightning bugs and conversation

  3. Pitchers of lemonade and pages of books

  4. Understanding the connection my children need with social media tools…all of us diving into unchartered waters.     

With Summer on the brink, and the craze of school year activities colliding, it is an interesting time for the mind to sort through it all. Young hearts wanting to run free into unstructured days, and grown-ups feeling compelled to occupy and fill voids with activity. I am purposeful in the things I do and the time I spend, but I am a dreamer too, and I want my children to have it all. Blow on the Dandelion and make lots of wishes.

 

After just watching my first nephew graduate from high school, and listening to the speech given to his class by a peer, it enlightened me on the generation my children are growing up in. So very different then my own; unchartered waters for all of us. They described the importance of electronics and all things digital as their known way of communication. The strong need for connection with friends and family that happens through social media networks. They tried to help my generation understand that this is all that they know,  kids have nothing else to base socializing on as I do. It was insightful to hear the strong need for that connection of love, acceptance, self-esteem building, someone seeing them…it made me pause on my views of electronics. It made me lay down some of my guards and judgements on social media. I still feel that kids are losing true verbal skills and face-to-face conversation, but I am trying to understand the world they have been born into.

 

And so here we go with Summer! How to enter into it:  With wild abandon? Caught off guard without a plan? Structure to the point of exhaustion?

I think my generation has an obligation, a very important one in making sure that we share the roots that we were planted and watered in. It is not so much about ripping them out of technology, but more about coming alongside them and learning how to navigate the new growing communication system; blending the old with the new.

I think about things like how much time I have and how many summers are left with the kids. I dream of places I want to show them in this world, and conversations I want us to share. I want the deep and the fluff of  Summer to collide. I want to be purposeful in giving my children the sweet gift of communication in the form of live, very present conversation. They need to hear the sounds of laughter and not just an LOL typed out. They need to learn the tones of voices, inflections in words, quirky phrases passed down from grandparents that make us smile…and I think it’s vastly important that they hear what silence and quiet sound like; time uninterrupted by text, no words audibly, opportunity for the mind to explore and expand in imagination and sweet refreshment in the Lord. 

The flip side of this is that I don’t want to always give a scowling face when my children ask for electronics. I want to come to a happy agreement together, and this requires me to step into unknown territory that they are much more familiar with. We need to not view one another’s path as  negative, but learn to navigate them in a positive way together. 

So this Summer will be a blend of carefree expanding for all of us. We will mingle good old fashion story-telling with root beer floats and flip-flops, and then we will share a new language of emojis and hashtags that can be a link to stay connected even when we aren’t face to face.  It’s going to be a great Summer for all of us!

 

Be Joyful always, Pray continually, Give Thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:16-18 

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…”

one little word, one day at a time

Have you picked your “word” for the year yet? Or are you wondering what all the buzz is about to adopt a word for the year?

choose prayerMy social media feed is full of  people sharing #onelittleword for 2018. For some reason this makes me a little squirmy. It’s like committing to walk 10 miles in brand new shoes that haven’t been worn and truly lived in yet. I need a little more time to make sure it fits.

I like to gel with my word for a while, often carrying it around with me during the busy months of November & December, test driving it a while. Then when January roars in and I’m still recovering from the holiday surge, I’m able to embrace my word more fully because it feels more like a friend than a forced acquaintance.

2017 page in Bible Quilt®All that to say – I’ve got my word for 2018, but I’m savoring it a bit before I’m ready to share it.

I’m also still reminiscing a bit with my word pal from 2017, gleaning some truths I learned about myself as I focused on it throughout this past year. I’m not quite ready to relinquish it’s friendly presence in my daily thoughts.

“How do you choose your word?” – – –  “What do you do with it?” 

I’ve only done a “word of the year” the past few years, playing around with this concept in different ways. I think each of us has to figure out what meaning a “word of the year” has for us… or else it feels a little hollow and something else we have to keep up with.

Words are powerful. We can use them in ways that hurt or help.  We can inflict them upon others or nurture with them in encouraging tones. Choosing ONE from all the words is a little daunting, isn’t it?

This idea initially intrigued me as a means to be more intentional in a particular area of my life or to use it as an overall attitude focus. I found myself utilizing my #onelittleword throughout the year as a lense to tweak my perspective when I felt stressed or was going through unfamiliar transitions.

Rhythm page in Bible Quilt®
Rhythm page in my Bible Quilt® journal

Last year my word was RHYTHM. I claimed it to seek out ways to develop a flexible flow to all the ongoing events in my life, but not something that would  impose a structured routine that would go awry at the first kink thrown at me. I gave myself permission to consider the rhythms of different seasons in our family life, allowing some things to slide away when other things needed to be more of a focal point.Dictionary excerpt - rhythm

I started by taking a nerdy stroll through an actual dictionary and cutting out the definition to place on my journal page.

Then I sought out some synonyms to incorporate in the page title, focusing on the strength of this word’s multiple meanings. I began to think about the “strong, regular repeated PATTERNs” in my own life and this gave me direction for a variety of ways to savor the rhythms I’ve established in my home. Rather than see some of our daily chores as monotonous, through this rhythm perspective, I could see them as a way of maintaining a consistent tempo in our daily lives.

We all know that antsy  feeling of things being out of balance in our lives, right? Most likely it’s when we’re out of our natural rhythms…maybe a drastic life event has shifted us or we’re at odds in a relationship. The more I sought out ways to nurture a healthy Rhythm in my own personal life, the more capable I was of identifying ways to restore a more steady cadence for the rest of my family.daily rhythms

When stress or time pressures quickened the family pace too fast, each of us felt a heightened pulse of being off-kilter. During these times I tried to hunker down in the WORD and regain my own equilibrium, often by awakening in the wee morning hours before the thrum of the household beat even started. As I Bible Quilted® verses on this theme of Rhythm, I was reminded that even Jesus got up early in the morning and went to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35).  I clung to the promise of learning “unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28-30 Message version) to navigate turbulent times.

The New Year is a chance to begin anew. It provides fertile ground for change in some area of our lives. Resolutions may fall by the wayside, but to have a topic/theme to focus on for the year seems  do-able. As I learned from my word pal, Rhythm, the more we’re able to establish a firm foundation, the more capable we are of navigating the ebb and flow of life a little more graciously. We have a tether to ground us. As we build upon our #onelittlewords year after year, our tethers become stronger. I’m beginning to see the connections of my words strengthen together over time, centering me to face the unknowns of the coming year.

2018 - blank journal

 

What #onelittleword has impacted you?

 

Which intentional word might you choose this year?

 

Layers Of Words

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.  

Write down your layers; just food for thought. 

 

Buffering

How often do we get annoyed waiting for a download? As technology has advanced, we’ve gotten spoiled and increasingly more impatient with the few seconds this transformation occurs, forgetting that this process used to take minutes. (Not to mention our personal history with “dial-up” connections…we need not remind ourselves how old this makes us sound!)

. . . ___. . . Buffering . . . ___ . . .

Yep, we even have a fancy term for waiting on technology: buffering – -waiting with purpose and a heightened expectation of data coming our way. We’re paused as we  wait for data or images to load, so we can proceed with our next electronic interaction. The momentary lapse in electronic connection makes us feel restless.buffering symbol

Software programs have even designed creative ways to give us digital holding cues…a flashing line promising that progress is about to happen or a bright green line racing around a circle offering the illusion of “almost there.”

Last week when I was feeling the pressure of navigating a tight schedule while trying to accommodate the various speeds on which my children operate, it occurred to me how often I act as a buffering agent to those around me.
Like the mysterious data preloading that occurs, our buffering efforts go largely unseen but are constantly at work.
As moms, we’re often filling in the gaps between one family member to the next. We are frequently redirecting children, softening sharp edges of voice tones and harsh facial expressions. We’re constantly monitoring the goings-on in our families, serving as a hub in which each family member dives in for a brief connection then returns to their homework or computer screen.
We help modulate the buzz of activity in our households, buffering between family and houseguests or redirecting young sibling traffic to a neutral zone when teens are hanging out in another.

Even our pets use us as buffers. During yesterday’s thunderstorm, my golden retriever would not leave my side as she panted and anxiously tucked her tail, looking at me imploringly to “STOP MOVING ALREADY!” so she could settle.Katie hiding from storms

As women, we probably have more buffering systems in play than men, so it’s not unusual for me to hear stories about how a friend is  intervening between her husband and their realtor; or navigating details between her husband and service workers (and hoping to get the details about the roof leak, the hot water gadget, or the pool pump control panel interpreted correctly).

. . . ___ . . . We buffer between extremes. 

We lessen the impact of potential harsh consequences we see coming, but they may not. 

. . . ___ . . . We referee between siblings. 

We reframe feedback from challenging teachers and revved-up coaches  in ways our children can absorb it more constructively.

All this buffering can take a toll on us, leaving us feeling battered and weary. Sometimes on a day when we’ve spent so much energy putting out other people’s fires and not gotten our own agenda accomplished, we’re left feeling unproductive with an empty tank.
This past Sunday when I was feeling off-kilter after a busy week of solo parenting, I managed to stop for a few moments and go offline.offline mom break

Even though I’ve been trying to practice the art of Sabbath rest, the struggle to downshift is tricky. During waking hours my brain does not seem to have an “off” switch, so this striving to rest is a discipline I have to work at intentionally.

As I’ve recognized the draining pull of this nearly constant buffering, I’m beginning to appreciate the nuances more and realize the hidden impact my unseen efforts have on those around me. Slowly, I’m giving myself permission to power down” so I can truly recharge and be more effective as a nurturing buffer rather than an automatic boomerang.
Like it or not, mommas, this buffering stuff is part of the gig. I’m grateful God wired us to multi-task and self-regulate so we can stay on track when needed. I’m also thankful for the grace He extends to us and through us, so we can upload a positive influence on our families.leaves fallen

Fall is our friendly buffer between the lingering mugginess of Summer and the harsh chill of Winter.

As we transition into muted days with a crispness in the air, may we slip away for some nature walks to rebuild our inner buffering system. We’ve got this, friends!

What is YOUR recharge going to be this season?

“We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” – Charles Swindoll