Category Archives: Words

ONE letter matters

When I was in 6th grade, I competed in the district spelling bee and lost because I added one  letter to a word. My 6th-grade son recently competed in his school’s spelling bee and missed a word by forgetting one letter.spelling bee word list

One letter matters.

In the world of spelling, one letter means the difference of staying “in” the competition or being “out.”

For enthusiastic writers who are vulnerably casting out their manuscripts only to be met with a flood of rejection letters, ONE letter of acceptance matters. One letter shifts the novice writer from being an amateur to being “in” as a published author. This inclusion is savored.

encouragement cardsFor the widow that spends many hours and even days alone, receiving a single handwritten note makes a meaningful difference. One letter can change her perspective from feeling lonely to loved. She feels remembered.

When a spouse is deployed overseas and is feeling the weight of isolation and homesickness, one letter from a loved one back home draws him a little closer to family. A familiar scrawl or silly doodle on the envelope tugs those hearts together a little tighter. He feels connected.

In a world of digital pictures and casual greetings available through Facebook and texts, even one handwritten letter delivered by snail mail on your birthday can transform all those virtual well wishes into a tangible token of love. There’s something special about holding a letter in your own hand that was in your friend’s hand just a few days ago. One letter can ground you, reminding you of a precious friendship. You feel known.

So last week when I was fighting a head cold and clutching my kleenex box, I hunkered down and wrote some letters:

  • to my son traveling on an exchange trip to China, hiding one in his suitcase under a box of Thin Mints and giving another letter to a friend to deliver to him midway through their trip (the potential embarrassment, I think, is worth a little sneakiness!)
  • to a Chinese couple whom I may never meet, but I’m entrusting the care of my 16-year-old son to them for 3 weeks while they generously host him in their home (sigh)
  • to a nephew, apologizing for belated birthday wishes
  • to an aunt undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, offering hope and encouragement while also recognizing her strengthBaylor pillows
  • a “thank you” to a loved one who sewed some pillows for me that I’ve been “planning” for years. Confession: I cheated on this one. I took a picture of the pillows tucked into their new nook and a sent her a text of gratitude. (Go Bears!)
  • to a college friend, wishing her the joys of another birthday

Throughout the week as I wrote to each person, I focused on the recipient. I considered their particular situation, reflecting on the connection between us and conjuring up some words to send their way. Before long, I was no longer aware of my stuffy head and my pesky cough. My mood improved as I redirected my attention to a loved one or reminisced about a dear friend.

Aligning letters on paper to transform them into a message to someone else is a magical thing, something we often taken for granted.vocab

Words are used a lot of different ways in our home. We are seekers of knowlLatin conjugationsedge and explorers of the written word. Our bookshelves are weighed down with words.

The boys are always working on a vocabulary list or conjugating verbs in a language I don’t understand.

Words surround us.

Letters weave in and out of our home daily, an endless merry-go-round of giving and receiving. Some of them we glance over; some of them stop us in our tracks. One letter can shift the atmosphere around us, crackling with anticipation or casting a somber chill.

Which letter do you cling to most?
Bible - I Cor 13
The letter that I’m drawn back to again and again is the Word of God. Each time I read it, I gain a new perspective and gain a deeper understanding of something bigger than me. It stirs my soul.
I’m grateful for this ultimate gift. The holy Word is God’s letter to us.
It’s full of wisdom and adventure, heartbreak and triumph, joy and strength, loss and redemption, strife and struggle…but most of all,  its message is love. It offers us hope.

——->>>>>  THIS one letter makes all the difference to me

Phlox

“Every word of God is flawless.” Proverbs 30:5a

 

 

 

Sharing my Bible Quilt™

Sometimes we stumble into a way of doing something that is meaningful to us and think it’s just “our way” of doing something. God may have bigger plans for our little “simple” shortcuts. He may want us to share them with others and let Him grow it bigger. This happened to me last year with my Bible Quilt™ journaling.
Trust full pageNot long after I began this quiet time project, I had a friend struggling in a relationship. I grabbed my Bible Quilt™ and immediately turned to my section on Trust. I sent her a picture of a couple verses that seemed applicable to her situation. Although we were long-distance, within a few minutes she had something in my own handwriting. Since I had spent time already reflecting on these verses, steeping in them myself, I felt like I had been able to share with her more deeply than typing the verse into a text or email. Somehow this process personalized the support, highlighting God’s Word as the Spirit had led me in my devotions.

Sharing God’s Truth through the handwriting of a friend is personal and powerful.


As I continued to share with friends, I realized how this simple tool had become a way to minister to others, offering them something personal and grounded in the Word during a time of need.

Sometimes we don’t know what to say to a friend who is hurting. Offering a gentle reminder of God’s truth in your own handwriting is a simple gesture of love.

Bible Quilt - MekaBible Quilt - MekaDuring the holidays, I shared my Bible Quilt™with a few friends and family. We all agreed that we had a mishmash of verses floating around in a variety of places, so having them all together in a Bible Quilt™ journal seemed to renew our efforts to gather them in a meaningful way.

My simple technique seemed to strike a chord with others. The more I shared, the more collaborative the experiences became. I learned that left-handers might choose to put their tabs on the left side of their journals and may orient their book pocket a different way.

I heard some insightful ways some ladies were going to use their Bible Quilts™ during their quiet time. I’ve enjoyed helping compile kits that can be given as gifts. I had the fun of introducing an older generation to the joys of washi tape.😃

washi tape

Duct taping Bible Quilt coversWe had a family session during Christmas break. What started out as craft time together quickly became more of a weaving of connections. Mothers and daughters worked side by side, sharing laughter as they fumbled a bit with duct taping their Bible Quilt™ covers.

Mother-daughter Bible QuiltingA young daughter’s face brightened when she realized she would have her own designated page in her mom’s Bible Quilt.™

Favorite verses were swapped as a variety of handwriting styles emerged from different generations.

We experimented with phone apps and online Bible searches yet also cracked open a Bible concordance to show the kiddos how to find a verse that we mostly knew, but wanted to have worded correctly in our journals. Sharing verses

Siblings put their heads together to harvest verses for a page on Kindness

In a crafty environment with washi tape and markers scattered all around us, we connected in God’s Word and learned a little bit more about each other.

The beauty of this project is that it’s just a beginning. We now have a common ground for sharing. We’ve agreed to text verses to one another to help fill pages according to each individual’s themes they have picked as categories to focus on during this season. A certain teenager may have issued a challenge for us each to have our journals full by next Christmas and be ready to share them. That puts a little fire into our motivation to keep this going!

Persevere pageThe more I share this simple journaling technique, the more I’m humbled by God using us in unique ways for His purpose.

Psalm 107:1He allows us to connect with each other in Him through the use of ordinary supplies in a creative way…gathering together and weaving His Word into our lives in our own style, sharing personal stories along the way. God is indeed in the midst of our ordinary moments, unifying us for eternity.



If you need some motivation to get started, Bible Quilt™ journal kits are now available at Ordinary Threads.

Amy kit in display crate
Amy kit in display crate

Join us in the Facebook group “Ordinary Threads” to share in the conversation as we exchange ideas about our individual progress in our Bible Quilts.™

Bible Quilt™

Every day is a giftI have dabbled with different daily quiet time “routines” throughout the years.  As with most things, my success ebbs and flows in different seasons of my life.

Last January I felt like I needed something that would capture my “New Year” motivation yet also survive my typical summer slump and then build steadily through the Fall so that I could enter the busy holidays with a lighter spirit. Lofty resolution? Perhaps. A girl can dream. That’s what “fresh starts” are all about, right?Quietness

One of the ways I’ve navigated my personal Quiet Time this year is by journaling in my Bible Quilt.™ It is a simple concept, yet one that has blessed my time in God’s Word, prolonging my Quietness a little longer. I’d like to share this idea with you because we can all use a bit more quiet in our noisy-busy lives.

As I read devotionals, listen to podcasts, or take notes in church, certain Bible verses resonate with me.  I tend to jot them down on random slips of paper in my car, the back of receipts,  church bulletins, or scribble them on post-its and put them on my mirror. I’ve got favorite verses on plaques and rocks throughout my house.

Refuge rockAfter a while these tidbits of Godly wisdom felt scattered.

In the midst of decluttering after the holidays, I had an urge to collect all of these verses into a single place and categorize them in a way that was meaningful to me. I did a little scavenger hunt to gather them. As I glanced through my collection, I began to see themes emerging.

(lightbulb moment 💡💡)
Bible Quilt journalI searched our craft supplies and found a gently-used blank journal that one of my sons had abandoned. I used some decorative duct tape to cover up the blemishes on the front.  I divided my journal into sections, adding colorful tabs to use as topic dividers.

Some of my categories included:Tab dividers in Bible Quilt

Fruits of the Spirit

Grace, Truth, Light

Quiet & Still

Blessings, Praise

I also created sections for my regular prayer requests:Bible Quilt divider tabs

Health

Parenting

Each of my children

Family members

Marriage (plus individual tabs for my husband and me)

Next I began entering  verses in the sections that were meaningful to me. I  simply wrote down the verses, drew an outline box around them and doodled a fringe box around each one with hash marks.

Family page in Bible QuiltSometimes I experimented with lettering styles or doodling. On a few pages I’ve included a picture. I discovered that washi tape covers up mistakes/scribbles while adding a pop of color. You can personalize your journal as much as you want with whatever supplies you have on hand.

Bible verse quiltAs I added more verse boxes with a variety of colorful pens and shaded the background with colored pencils, the combination began to resemble a patchwork quilt– different shapes and colors weaving together into a beautiful pattern resembling a quilt.

Bible Quilt - prayer

I liked this image of a quilt – made by hand, stitching verses together in a meaningful way which transformed my collection of paper scraps into something purposeful.

Love page in Bible Quilt

Sometimes I stand my journal upright on my counter as a reminder of what verses God is stitching into my heart that week or as an added layer for the current season (ex: Love for month of Feb)



A Bible Quilt™ can be used to cover ourselves in focused prayer– layering words of truth in our hearts –and quieting our spirits as we start our frenzied days.



My Bible Quilt™ become an ongoing project that keeps me motivated to pursue my devotions. (psst…it’s October AND I’m still going = it works!) I’ve discovered I’m reading my devotional or Bible more actively as I consider what verses to highlight in my Bible Quilt.™ I hope this Bible Quilt™ blesses you as much as it has me. It’s never too late to get started…think of it as getting a headstart before the rush of the holidays! 🌲

**Want more ideas for incorporating more Quiet into your daily rhythms? Come visit our Pinterest board: Chasing Quiet (di_mills) or join our Facebook Group: Ordinary Threads

Update:  Bible Quilt™ kits are now available in our etsy shop, aFrayedKnotStudio. Come browse for yourself or as a gift for someone the Lord places on your heart.

Margins

the bookAre you a bookworm like me?  Our family is full of avid readers and books populate every region of our house. Books have even inspired some Halloween costumes. We devour books of every flavor and struggle to put them down for mealtimes or to turn out the lights at night. When we settle into the couch together with our favorite books, we focus on the words. We dive into plot lines, soaking up the 12-point font as quickly as we can.

What if we paid attention to the margins as much as the parade of words lining themselves into sentences and adorning themselves with perky punctuation? What if we tuned into the space surrounding those sentences that are building themselves into paragraph blocks?

Our eyes fly from the bottom of one page over the valley of the spine and onto the top of the following page without a second glance. We turn page after page to catch the next stream of letters without appreciation for the blank space that provides a landing spot for our greedy fingers.

Yet…what if that margin was not there? Letters would fuse into unintelligible gobbledygook. We wouldn’t know where one word stops and another launches. Clever ideas and witty phrases would merge into an alphabet hodgepodge, lost in a sea of black type. That overlooked w h i t e s p a c e provides a backdrop for those colorful characters that tell our beloved stories. Without margins and whitespace, it’s just a blur of ink on some crisp paper bound together and tucked into a colorful jacket.

Children's books

Margin is important. We need it to make sense of our stories… to give us a border between things.



Margin is

the whitespace that frames

the text of our lives.



Without margin we would merge into each other and all over the place. Margin helps provide boundaries in the messiness of life. Margin gives us a defined perimeter — a pause before we turn toward our next activity. We often don’t stop to consider how much —or how little— margin we actually have. Our borders get blurry sometimes.

Margin is the “amount by which a thing is won or falls short” or the “amount of something included so as to be sure of success or safety.” It’s a cushion to lean into. How often do we hurtle from one thing to another with little margin for error? Margin can make the difference between success or failure. It can tip the balance toward a more favorable outcome.

Margin matters. 

Our personal margin varies throughout different phases of our lives. In some busy seasons, our lives might feel like a well-worn novel full of adventure and action. The pace is fast and furious. We’re caught up in drama and focused on the end result. Our margins feel cramped and narrow.

Fox in Socks

During slower seasons or treasured vacation getaways, we may have more “picture book” moments. We have time to enjoy the artistic balance between witty rhymes and colorful illustrations in our stories. In  the lull of leisure, our margin expands and the beat of our storyline becomes more vibrant.

Later in  life, we may develop a large-print perspective:  we discover more space around  words and appreciate the friendliness of a wider margin that gives us more time to reflect on our story…or to listen more closely to someone else’s.

reflection

Whatever our season, can we pause to embrace margin — to acknowledge its protective features?

Margin provides us with a soft buffer against the significant events and plot twists of life. It gives us some recovery time to process our stories.

boy reading on bench

 

Every little bookworm could benefit from that, don’t you think?

 

 

Saying Yes

As parents, we set limits and boundaries for our children every day and throughout the day. Saying “no” can be tough on both sides. Redirecting and reframing takes more effort, especially on sticky summer days.purple flowersToday I said “yes” to boys asking for a donut stop in between morning activities. I observed how each of them made their unique choice of  glazed gooeyness. Amidst their boy chatter I heard about a high school teacher who likes maple bacon donuts. I learned that two of my sons pass this particular shop every day on their way to school, casting a yearning peek out the schoolbus window yet never mentioning it. As crumbs fell during a flurry of eating, they also dropped little tidbits of experiences they’ve had at their new schools this past year. They showed me a new videogame as they teased each other about milk mustaches and amateur frisbee skills. I soaked up these bonus glimpses into boyworld as they gobbled up their donuts.donuts

Later in the day I got to say “yes” to a request for a movie night. I wasn’t thrilled about the specific movie, so I dabbled in new territory…the kids going to their movie while my hubby and I went to another. [Win-win, people. If you still have preschoolers, hang on. Your time will come!] Since our movie finished early, we slipped into their show to catch its flavor. I watched the boys’ faces as they reacted to the movie, their expressions more animated than the movie itself. Slumped down in their seats and leaning in toward each other unaware, they were mesmerized by the colorful characters on the big screen while we were captivated by their shared brotherhood.

twinkle lightsMy last “yes” of the day was to rootbeer floats when we got home from the movie. I propelled my tired momself out on the dark patio and sat with them under the twinkly lights, listening to their happy slurping. A contented sigh escaped from my blue-eyed boy as he cradled his sticky cup, savoring the last drop of this hot summer day.

All these little moments crept into my heart, softening the grumpy interactions about delayed chores earlier in the day and pushing the agenda of tomorrow a little further out of mind, all because I took the chance to say “yes.”
sun peeking through tree

What can YOUR “yes” be tomorrow?


“However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.” –Ecclesiastes 11:8

 


Little hitchhikers

After a very fun-filled weekend road trip, I managed to get my weary self out the door for a walk. Within a few moments of dragging myself down the street, a little baby caterpillar landed on me. I considered taking him home to show my kiddos, but opted to set him free in the fresh spring grass so he could continue on his way. After all, didn’t our mothers tell us not to pick up hitchhikers?

I reflected on how this bright green caterpillar had clung so tightly to me until I released him. In much the same way, don’t we allow others’ words and comments stick to us? Maybe a taunt from an elementary school classmate still clings to us after all these years? (All of us “Four Eyes” unite!) Perhaps a harsh remark from a spouse or family member lingers even after apologies have been said? These verbal hitchhikers don’t have to come home with us. We can release them.

What if instead we carry compliments or words of encouragement as welcome travelers? Words have lasting power.
All you have to do is observe a woman be told she is strong, brave, kind, a warrior, a truth teller, capable, a shepherd, a gatherer, an encourager, poetic, worthy, loyal, precious, or genuine. Watch the emotion wash over her as her eyes sparkle or tear up. Let the moment sink in so she can absorb this new identity into her repertoire of names she’s collected during her lifetime. Transformation can occur in a few syllables spoken earnestly.

So, my friend, choose your traveling companion wisely. Be wary of little hitchhikers that may weigh you down or cause you harm. Release those names that you have been carrying for too long.

Share your words with othEncourageers with good intention and thoughtful purpose. We never know what word is going to cling to a neighbor, friend, or our own child. One remark can make a huge difference. It can tear down or build up. Choose to edify.

~~Speak with grace~~

Now I’ll be watching for beautiful butterflies that are flying freely because they weren’t hindered in their caterpillar youth.