Contrasts

Last week began with a two-day stay at the hospital with my son for an unexpected procedure following a dramatic  ER visit. This week started out with lovely spring weather and the chance to play in the dirt, planting pretty flowers. 

From one week to the next it was quite a contrast and, boy, am I grateful to have it moving in a positive direction! blossom

One end of my garden zone is full of shriveled plants, brittle vines, and cracked, dusty pots that have been neglected during the winter. The other end of my garden is beginning to show splashes of color amidst freshly turned soil and vibrant green starter veggies.

It’s a contrast between what has faded away and what is blossoming with hopeful growth.

adolescent turtle emerging
adolescent turtle emerging

Last fall we were eager to get the school routine in full swing again, fresh school supplies nestled into tidy backpacks. As the school year is now dwindling into mere weeks, the energy level for it is more sludgy than springy.

Final exams and long-term project deadlines loom overhead and students are slinking out the door as late as possible, ripped backpacks slung quickly over their shoulders.

The end of something is strikingly different from its fresh beginning.

Nature is full of contrasts and what pulls us in to wander about in different environments, stretching us beyond our familiar.climatis

Life is punctuated with peaks and valleys; our energy levels ebb and flow throughout the various seasons of family life.

These contrasts give us dimension and help strengthen our resolve to push onward. Contrasting experiences help us see deeper perspectives, softening our rough edges. We have the opportunity to adjust our outlook throughout the intensity of  the highs and lows, transforming ourselves in the gritty middle. 

lambs earContrast draws us in closer in our relationships. It adds texture and intrigue.

Contrasting opinions broaden our discussions, widening our cultural lens.

Contrast keeps boring at a distance.

Photographers seek it; architects nurture it.

When we pause to appreciate the contrasts of the human experience, our inward reflections deepen and our connections with others can become more fully saturated as we see richer hues in those around us.

Perhaps we can glimpse a sparkle of hope where we had only previously seen darkness.

The raggedness of grief may slowly slip into sweet reminiscence.

Maybe we  see the blossoming of a child as they overcome a personal struggle.

flowering in a crackAs graduation looms around the corner for many families, we’ll be struck by the contrast of our young, confident adults tackling their last days of school while we’re remembering their little faces on the first day of school.

They will be on the tippy toes of a new adventure while we’re clinging to their childhood for just a sliver longer. We’ll walk through the contrasting emotions of pride and loss; hope and disbelief . . . letting go and hugging just a little bit tighter. Parents will ponder, “how did this happen so fast?” while their kiddos wonder “will the last day evvver get here?”

Contrast highlights what’s important.

It sharpens our focus on details that matter.

It awakens our souls to pay attention.

Let’s embrace the contrasts that enrich our lives and weave us together ~~ God’s beautiful tapestry unfolding around us.



“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8



 

Let’s Paint Some Fish

So back in my student teaching days, the artist in me craved a creative outlet. I was intrigued with papier-mache and decided to give it a try. I wanted to be able to create something that I could paint with vivid colors and lots of patterns.

And that is how these papier-mache fish came to be!

I have to admit that in honesty, it became a little addictive. I found myself getting other tasks done quickly so I could continue in the layering and painting process of these fish. My imagination had plenty of space to roam with color combinations and patterns.

I started by blowing up balloons and hanging them in doorways, (thanks mom and dad for ducking every time you entered the kitchen!) I cut poster board and fashioned fins and gills to the balloon. Next was the layering process of papier-mache with newsprint, and a flour and water paste. Many layers with plenty of time to dry in-between…several days to get the form set.

Once the layers were complete and the drying time had passed, the fun part of creating the personality of the fish came! By cutting a large circle at the top of the balloon, a mouth was formed; trimming to make smooth edges. From there, I took them outside to spray them white so that my bold colors would shine, and to protect the newsprint with sealant.

My Happy Place is definitely painting bright colors onto things!

It is easy to look at the beautiful designs of tropical fish to get your patterns from; and the skies the limit on the color combos! Once I was  completely satisfied and had my fill of paint, I took each fish outside and again sprayed it; this time with a high gloss clear polyurethane to make it really sparkle and seal it properly.

These papier-mache fish are very lightweight and durable. My original set I have had for 20 years and they are doing great!! When I started teaching art, I found joy in taking clear fishing line and hanging these fish ALL over the ceiling of the classroom like one huge mobile project. To see so many across the ceiling made you feel like you were under the ocean. It was unexpected and fun!

For outdoor summer parties, my fish have been known to “swim” through the trees! Hanging them at different levels on branches is eye-catching and whimsical.

Adults and kids can easily do this project One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, 100 fish… that’s up to you!It is a very inexpensive craft project that reaps large rewards in the finished product. It is    ” good ol’ messy fun” at its simplest.  Ahhh, I can see Summer on the horizon!

Our Bible Quilt® Journey…one small step at a time

Small steps of obedience can lead to paths that unfold broadly before you, encompassing more than seems possible when you’re in the midst of day-to-day details, diligently pushing through the immediate tasks at hand.
Seasonal Bible Quilt page
Seasonally themed Bible Quilt page with Seniors

 

Our Bible Quilt® journey has been a series of small steps of faith that has yielded a wide variety of experiences that neither of us expected.

Bible Quilt Birthday party
Bible Quilt Birthday party

We just keep adapting to new opportunities as the Lord places them before us…one small step at a time.

Retreats. Road trips. Bible Study groups. Girls’ birthday parties. Youth groups. Senior centers…

10th Birthday Bible Quilting Party
10th Birthday Bible Quilting Party

 

We love how Bible Quilting connects people, drawing them closer together through the Word of God.

Sometimes it feels like sacred ground. 

Bible Quilting for all ages
Bible Quilting for all ages 

—///— We’re weaving Bible Quilting into the patchwork of our lives. —///—

CBS memory verse Bible Quilt page
Bible Quilt page for Community Bible Study memory verses
Bible Quilt foam board
Bible Quilt on large foam board for CBS Memory Verses

My Bible Study group is using a 1-page version to summarize all of our verses for the year. It’s been fun to watch it grow throughout the year.

As we’ve shared the Bible Quilt® with a variety of women’s groups, these circles are beginning to overlap. The Lord’s design emerges beautifully in these moments.

We are humbled to see how God is tugging at hearts through His scripture and thrilled to see women getting revitalized in His word.

Pajama night - Bible Quilt® Kids Club
Pajama night – Bible Quilt® Kids Club

Our Kids Club version arose to meet the desire of young kiddos that wanted to be doing what their moms were enjoying so much in their devotional time.

We love to hear stories about busy moms graciously inviting their children to Bible Quilt alongside them…and sometimes even sharing their washi tape! 😉

When our craft tables are filled with girls navigating through the awkward days of middle school or the pressures of high school, we’re grateful to be offering them a creative tool to ground them in their walk with the Lord. Laughter and scripture are a great combo!

Youth Group Bible Quilting
Bible Quilting session with Youth Group

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A year ago we formed our business and dove head-first into the trademark process. We waded into the world of accounting and became fierce prayer warriors for all sorts of new logistics and number-crunching. We cherished the moments of creativity and collaboration that offset the business-y side of things.

"Bible Quilting is my happy place!"I’ve become familiar with nervous bravery…you know that tingly feeling that can be excitement or near-the-line panic? I keep reframing it as energy to push forward and cling to my verse:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.” Isaiah 41:10

During the ongoing commotion of life, we often craved solitude and slipped away to Bible Quilt.

Our Newton friends can be assured, we were furiously “Chasing Quiet” as we faced the challenges of a newbie business!

God’s timing is so gracious. During the week of the 1st-year anniversary of our business, we received the first batch of our printed Bible Quilt® journal. Take a closer peek in our shop!Bible Quilt® JournalWe’re carrying it around like a newborn, showing it off to our treasured supporters and dear mentors in faith. 

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During that same anniversary week, we were blessed to receive a real quilt from some lovely women who beautifully handcrafted our Bible Quilt® logo into it.quilted Bible Quilt®️ logo

Bible Quilt® logo quilt
Our Quilting Rockstars!

 

How sweet is that! 

Our hearts are full on this journey, walking out in faith one tentative step at a time.

Bible Quilt workshop - Kansas
Servant Warrior…a well-traveled missionary, leaping into the new territory of Bible Quilting

 

We invite you in to join uswherever you are on your spiritual journey.  

Local or online.

Whatever your age or season of life. 

Visit our Ordinary Threads Facebook page or join the community of Bible Quilters in our FB group to see what others across the country are sharing!

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Stitch us together, Lord, in Your Word

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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…”

Family Fusion

Traditions sometimes sneak up on you. A thrown-together event one year can evoke strong reactions that develop into expectations for a repeat the following year.
That’s how our annual Hot Dog Roast Eggstravaganza emerged…Easter eggs

Someone asked me last week “when are we getting together to dye Easter eggs?” 

Oops! I hadn’t cracked out of our spring break recovery mode yet.

I quickly sent out some FB invites for  our “2nd annual” Hot Dog Roast Eggstravaganza and later realized it was actually our 3rd. April Fools!

(How can it already be our 3rd one?)

Each year it’s been a different mix of family and friends. Everyone wanders around loosely from one activity to another. dyeing Easter eggs
Egg-dyeing was interspersed with kids taking turns climbing up the rope as adults cheered them on.

We paused our egg decorating when the fire reached its prime for roasting hot dogs. The crowd meandered toward the food…

Dinner was interrupted when large raindrops beckoned the abrupt beginning of the Easter egg hunt as kids scrambled for buckets and I corralled the dog so she wouldn’t steal our hot dogs.

Cousins did a version of “hot and cold” egg hunting at the Turquoise Table

The ebb and flow of a family gathering takes on a life of its own.

Cool Whip egg-dyeing

March Madness lured some to stay inside and chat over the games.

Egg dyeing experiments continued outside. Have you tried it with Cool Whip? Messy Fun!

Pockets of conversation occurred in passing as people came and went.

Local family fused with family visiting from out of town.

Family lines blurred as a grandma from one side of the family connected with a granddaughter from another side, 

roasting smoresMemories of loved ones were discussed as we lingered in front of the fire, acknowledging those that weren’t with us this year but would have added their own personal spark to the occasion.

s'mores

 

 

As I watched this eclectic mix of family gather around to do their own special version of s’mores, I observed the  sweet fusion of family blending into their own unique flavor, too.

Simple hospitality…charred hot dogs, sticky marshmallows, plastic eggs strewn about the yard, and the love of Christ ebbing through our various interactions.

That’s how simple moments become shared traditions, intended or not!


“We love because HE first loved us.” I John 4:9


egg hunt dash

Snacks and Post-Its!

“What’s for Snack?”

Isn’t Snack a funny word? Just writing it and saying it out loud sounds silly. But lets definitely get this straight: a Snack is a serious business! My children “snack” more than they “meal”…(see, that just sounds ridiculous). Snacks tide you over till the next meal, they energize kids to get back outside and play, they stop whining on a car ride, they distract small children when you need a quiet moment, so on and so on…THEY ARE VERY POWERFUL.

Throughout our week, family members trail back home at different increments in the afternoons as school buses drop off and boys get picked up. My two older ones love to arrive first to the kitchen and begin “the snack”. After several years of this constant question, I wised up this school year and devised a snack strategy! And for your viewing pleasure, I have visuals!! 

So here is my kitchen cabinet of Post-It notes. Somewhere between the third and fourth child, I resolved myself to the need of Post-Its if I was ever going to remember anything again. I use them ALL the time for everything. In the case of Snacks, this method works beautifully because I reuse them as needed. (And as you can also see, we don’t eat very healthy snacks always! I may need to revise that now that I’m looking at it!)

I usually pick the snack before they get home and lay it out on the counter with a note of what it is and how many they get if its something like cookies, brownies, etc… and if you don’t know about 3-2-1 Cake, let me enlighten you:  a simple, one-serving cake that a child can make in the microwave. You need 1 Cake Mix of choice and 1 Angel food Cake Mix combined together as the Dry Mix.       Independence abounds as a child scoops, stirs, zaps and eats! They can add chocolate chips, whip cream, syrup, whatever add-ins  of happiness to their cake too.

There is always a big bowl of Trail Mix available in the house also. It’s easy and great for a quick grab and go snack. I buy all the ingredients in bulk to save cost; then make my own variations of yum!

 

And the food pantry has an ever-changing assortment of granola bars, applesauce and such that get thrown in lunches, and are grabbed up right before adventures. 

Well,  we could all snack forever, but after a while one gets thirsty… so I want to remind you that if you didn’t read my post on Drink Stations , then its time for you to get on board! Seriously, this technique has saved me many runny noses, coughs and such.

Super easy: set up a station in your kitchen with coasters, tray, compartment boxes, etc. and put your family’s names on designated spaces. The rule: 1 cup per day. Wash them at night and let them pick a new cup the next day! Everyone knows where their drink is; no one drinks after another!! Germs are thwarted. Dishwasher is not exploding. This is a game changer for me.

Alrighty! Here’s to tasty snacking! And don’t forget the Post-Its! They sure come in handy.

 

 

daily life transformed by God into extraordinary tapestries

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