Harvesting Moments

It’s here: that awkward time of year when you run into the store for a gallon of milk and you’re suddenly faced with the jumbled mix of sparkly Christmas decor clashing with the remains of ghoulish Halloween costumes. I cringe as I hurry past, adding eggs to my mental list…and, if I’m feeling generous toward my meat-eaters at home, maybe even some bacon.
Leaf fallenInstead of being drawn into the quickening pulse of the holiday push, I’d rather harvest some quiet moments now. On my morning walks I savor the blush of color in the trees and admire the neighbors’  scarecrow nestled in with piles of pumpkins.
PumpkinsPumpkins just make me smile and slow down my pace. Pumpkins are eye-catching, a pop of color against all the muted greens and autumn browns. I’ve heard that some people actually use pumpkins for baking purposes (like from scratch!?!), but most of us just adopt them and plop them onto our porches.
What other veggie/fruit gets that kind of recognition? Pumpkins are the rockstars of the harvest season.
Pumpkins are just downright pleasant. They exude a glow of plump contentment. And we can all use a little power boost of their orangey cheer.

stack of pumpkins

mumsI’m trying to remind myself during this pre-holiday season to harvest some moments of Quiet. I’m giving myself permission to enjoy the slow transition of the trees releasing their colorful leaves and dropping acorns in my path. I breathe in air scented with hints of applewood and lingering crepe myrtle blossoms. I halt my walk briefly to admire cheerful mums moving in next door. I pursue the Quiet tucked in amidst this fall glory.

— I invite you to Chase Quiet with us. 

Chasing Quiet pumpkin

Pause when you see those happy pumpkins stacked atop each other on porches.

Slow down when you see a lone pumpkin sentry at a mailbox.

Take a deep breath and allow some stillness to fall into you. I’m pretty sure all that  hustle stuff can wait a little longer…

Fall-ish trees

31 days of Quiet     #chasingquiet     #pumpkinpause

 

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.

“Tell me a story”

Once upon a time I was creative, artistic, and spontaneous, and yet when bedtime happened and my children said, “Mommy, tell me a story”, I froze.  My mind went haywire for no known reason other than I was tired and might have “small” doses of perfectionism I’m working through! img_2032

These “surprise” requests became more frequent so I devised my plan. What happened next is something I could not foresee or imagine; it has been pure joy.

I started off by saying that this story will not have an ending, it will continue in layers, that I will share a small chapter each time and that we all would have a part in the story. And then I was off! (Pretty much winging it!!)

I introduced characters a few at a time. And made up stories of many fun-filled activities that they do in their backyard. The boys were captivated; questions started flying, along with their imaginations.

img_3708“What color is Swift the dog?”

“How many fat cats live up in the tree?”

“Where does Sammy Squirrel hide his nuts, and who does he share them with?” and on and on the questions sparked. img_3709

I began thinking up story plots during the day as I watched life experiences play out in my boys lives. A simple story gave room for so much more!

sweet, secure times at sleep, focused parent time poured out, imaginations explored, ending the day on such a beautiful note, sealing wonderful memories of our story times together.

My older sons began writing out their own story plots off of our ongoing “book”. My younger ones started drawing pictures of our characters that we had created with words. One son dabbled in comic-strip approach and then shared it with the family.

Self-esteem boosts ALL because of the bedtime story. (And teeth got brushed faster because they wanted to make sure there was time for “our story”) img_2323

Stories are a part of our legacy. We tell and re-tell stories of family events, special reasons why each individual is dear to the family and moments that brought us to belly laughs. And then we create stories together; silly ones, happy ones, ones where giggles abound and seal that sweet bedtime into something sacred.  

img_1796If you have not begun your story, don’t trip over perfect and planned,  like I once  did. Jump in with both feet! If you don’t know how to begin, start with “Once upon a time…” Sweet dreams for all.

A Nature Scavenger Hunt!

 

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Every Fall,  my boys and I watch eagerly for the first leaves to begin turning. As the magnificent watercolor display of foliage transforms our street, we get ready for our nature scavenger hunt! Since I have all sons, there is a deep internal need to have a walking stick in hand. This is my 5th year, so I now have a spot in the garage where our family walking sticks park! Some are painted, others carved into, and mine might have a few sparkles added…I’m the ONLY  girl remember.  We prepare brown lunch bags for our treasure hunt. Each has the list and we have our own marker to check off the boxes as we go. For my littlest one, I draw the picture instead of the word so that he has ownership of checking his boxes too. img_2253

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We have the best time stomping around our neighborhood! We help one another, we become competitive in the hunt and we just enjoy the process of the adventure. When we feel that we have had enough of it, we head home to size up our treasures. This part has evolved for us through the years.img_2258 Each boy gets a tray and pours the contents of his bag on to it. We take pictures of their trays and then decide which one or two items could be brought into the home for part of a table display. 

It makes for a memorable family tradition. If you need a starter list for your scavenger hunt, I’ve got a great one to whet your appetite for the hunt! img_2257

 

 

 

 

Copy this list on bags for each participant and make sure they have their own marker to check off their finds.

NATURE SCAVENGER HUNT

something fuzzy              img_2590

2 kinds of seeds

2 pieces of litter

something straight

something smooth

something round

something rough

2 types of leaves

something that makes noise

a chewed leaf

a beautiful rock     img_2252

a pinecone

something green

a stick

an acorn

a treasure


 

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?

 

 

Something Good

muddy toes

Do you trip over, or treasure interruptions? The way you perceive something will determine a lot about the outcome. An interruption is usually inconvenient, sometimes messy, and never on the checklist of to- dos. I wonder if I miss some beautiful, fulfilling, messy gifts because I didn’t like the wrapping. To find out if this was indeed true, I conducted a little experiment for myself. It went like this:  
I started my day with the usual list of tasks; wrote them all down and even starred the priorities. After I felt satisfied, I released half of them to another day… which means I had more than enough time to finish the few left. This felt foreign, but I purposed to leave room for God to really move. And He did.
Richer conversations, opportunities to help people, moments to reflect on God’s amazing creations, and a most surprising one: rest. My checklist is not as tidy these days, but my heart is thriving as I walk it out with the Lord. Give it a try! You will not regret it one bit.

 

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The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.  Psalm 85:12
            muddy warriors                                           I chose to treasure the interruption of this messy crew that arrived at the back door right at a meal time. Our food got cold; but the squeals of delight as I hosed them down still ring sweet in my ears. Worth it.

 

 

daily life transformed by God into extraordinary tapestries

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