Tag Archives: communication

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?

 

Simply Gather

– – – Gather up – – –

If your last few weeks have seemed like a whirlwind and the sound of Christmas music makes you feel a little edgy, you’re in good company. I’ve been trying to gather up my thoughts about the upcoming holidays and can’t quite get there. I really want to enjoy the Fall, to bask in the beautiful colors outside my window.maple tree through window

trees in fall

I want to marvel at the leaves piling up under the trees and remember how my boys relished rolling around in leaf piles until they had leaf dust ground into every inch of their clothing and they had begun to sneeze/wheeze with the overpowering earthiness of Fall.

playing in leaves

– – – Gather in – – –

red leafWe’ve had a few brisk days and I’ve enjoyed gathering in, cozying up with my flannel-clad boys and enjoying the aroma of simmering cider in the trusty crockpot.

Slowly, we’re rummaging around in the depths of our closets to pull out our favorite layers and then second-guessing the weather to see if we’re on track for those surprising temperature flip-flops this season brings.

We gather in closer as we shift to more indoor activities, putting away the toys of summer and lean expectantly toward more family time lounging with favorite books and taking turns adoring the family dog who just can’t seem to get enough affection from her people.

katie - greeting

– – – Gather round – – –

fall tablescapeOur family goes through phases (depending on the sports of the season) of consistently making it to the dinner table together.

I love the nights when we can settle in and banter  conversation about without the pressure of the eat-and-run.

Gathering around our table & exchanging  tidbits about our days (often sprinkled with witty humor and gentle teasing)  binds us together a little tighter.

Even if we scatter afterward to accomplish our various things, the hum of togetherness lingers a little longer because we’ve had that connection at the table.

leaves turning yellow

– – – Gather deep – – –

I’m not a “social butterfly,” flitting about the crowd and seeking to make contact with a wide variety of people. (My heart races a bit just thinking about it. gulp!)

I tend to drift toward people with intention, preferring to sink a little deeper into conversation, wading into the grit of life as I talk with a friend or two at a time.

Gather page in Bible Quilt™
Gather page in Bible Quilt™

Since we’ve been hosting Bible Quilt™ sessions, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to gather deep with friends, new and old, sharing our walks of faith and pursuit of scripture for life.



With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I encourage you to SIMPLY GATHER with the people you love and cherish.

GATHER SIMPLY, minimizing the “fuss” and slowing down to enjoy this season before we’re jolted to the next.



leavesWe’re halfway through our #30daysofgratitude series in our Ordinary Threads Facebook Group.

Join us as our members share snippets of gratitude each day!

Hope all of your Thanksgiving GATHERings are blessed! 

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


 

Warning: This Post Will Make You Itch!

When you are young, everyday begins as an adventure. There is excitement raveled up with unknowns and interlaced with dependency on grown-ups. There are ecstatic highs and devastating lows almost every day in a young ones heart. 

After the past two weeks, I think the same can be said for an adult too!

Our family is soaking up as much summer as we can, but have thrown in a Move, an Emergency Surgery and a most unexpected Lice Epidemic in a few short days that quickly turned to long and challenging “opportunities”.

On our Blog, we love to share all the fun, warm fuzzy layers that we do, but it dawned on me after the past week that it is important to share how we do the unexpected, uncomfortable layers also.

The Move and the Surgery were manageable for our family; the realization that 5 out of 6 in our household had lice however, tried to take us down. We had never dealt with itchy heads before so the moment of crisis was a fork in the road for us. We could model hysteria to our children, or we could choose a calmer path. (Believe me when I say that I had inward panic happening, but with prayer and support was able to walk the prettier trail). 

We chose to laugh instead of cry at the situation presented to us.

We educated ourselves on what was happening and then took a stand as a family to eradicate it.

We looked at it as an opportunity to grow stronger in family teamwork as we poured hours into vacuuming, cleaning, laundry and so much laundry.

After we quarantined the majority of the house, we banded together and called several evenings a “huge family campout” as we piled all the boys in our room with borrowed bedding. 

We all know there are two sides to every story,  but as adults, we are constantly given chances to figure out the better option. Lots of little eyes watch how we deduct and choose. We couldn’t do it on our own attempts every time;  God’s mercy shows up for us when we ask Him. Thankfully He got us through the last week!! 

There were honestly Highs and Lows running the gamut, but the perspective on our situation stayed focused. We hopefully taught our kids how to weather some set-backs without being swept under. And the silver lining was new Hairbrushes for All!!!

All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.  Isaiah 54:13

Welcome to May. Have an Apple!

 

Hey There! Alarm beeping, feet on the floor, start the coffee maker and wake up the kids. Pack the lunches, get the snacks bagged, make breakfast and check on the kids again. Let the dogs out, drink the coffee and head out the door to schools.  Sort the mental  lists that are inside the mind, prioritize the day and breathe. (Also insert, step over the laundry, kick the toys out of your path and shove the dirty dishes a little closer to the dishwasher. Smile, laugh and drink more coffee…the alternative is to cry and go sit in a dark room which is not an option).

Is any one else feeling like the month of May is on steroids? It happened last year too. Just as my heart starts to dream about the sweetness and rest of summer, my mind gets snapped back to an over scheduled routine that is trying to take me down! My coffee intake has sky-rocketed and my sleep has diminished. Sticky notes, lists, calendars and spreadsheets sprout up overnight everywhere!! Keeping up with all of the end-of-the-year school activities is not for the weak. This time around the track I decided to run the race with a focused game plan though…

May is a beautiful whirl wind of bursting flowers, colors, hopes and summer at our fingertips. May is also wrapped in amped-up routines and overly exhausted people.  It is where the end is in sight but has not been reached yet. And the last leg is the most treacherous. How do we handle it? Some days beautifully, some days tragically. But Praise God for Grace and Mercy and Fruit! I decided to fill my plate with more fruit this season and see what might happen. It is a healthy choice for many many reasons. Grab an apple and walk with me a moment…think of the Fruits of the Spirit. 

I released all of my control and asked Jesus to take it. That’s so easy to say but so hard to do. That sounds big, and it is. Not because of any pat on the back to me for praying it, but because of how incredibly hard it is to not take it back each new day. It is humbling and hard. There are topics like Trust and Pride that come up in your heart. It would probably be easier to continue to build my pack of stress and trudge on. But this time around I wanted to stop the frenzy.

This is what I prayed: “Thank You, Jesus, for THIS DAY. then I repeated it, and said those words slowly, soaking in each one. Then I prayed it all over again, and this is what happened…

I realized that there are many days behind me, and I am to move forward and not look back. And with God’s mercy, there are many days ahead of me, and I rejoice!! There is no mistaking that some days will be GREAT and some will be HORRIBLE, but I know that God will be GOOD and LOVING in all of them. He will walk beside me and give me strength for each one. I wrote out the Fruits of the Spirit and put it in plan sight so that I would continue to feast on them. As I did, my nourishment became fulfilling; whenever I cracked from stressors, my mind was renewed quicker and I was able to digest better.

And so I prayed that prayer again to thank Him for THIS DAY.  I woke up, took a breath, felt my heart beating and realized I have a full plate!! At a meal, we only have one dinner plate that we fill and eat from. When that one meal is over, we wait for the next meal to then repeat the process, we don’t carry the plate with us. I don’t want to miss the feast of each new day that the Lord sets before me. I know that the day will be messy, but filling up on the Fruits of the Spirit sustains me through the routines. I hope you will fill your plate too!

…”taste and see what the Lord has done.”

planting seeds

Tis the season of Girl Scout cookies and the first blossoms of spring.

Is it just me or does every home improvement store have an over-abundance of shiny lawn mowers on display and flocks of Girl Scouts grinning their gap-toothed smiles, asking if you’d like to buy some cookies?

Although I only had a brief venture into the world of Girl Scouts, I learned a couple important things I tucked into my bag of tricks:

Girl Scout thin mint cookies1) The first lesson, of course, was that Thin Mints cookies could pretty much sell themselves and that diehard fans put them in their freezers to “save them for later” (translation: hide them from the kids).

2) The other key thing I learned as a Brownie was the song “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” At the time I thought this meant I would have a treasure trove of sparkly friends to last me all my days. It took a few more years for me to understand that meeting new friends was fun, but maintaining friendships for the long haul was just as vital and full of its own sweet reward. What a great life lesson for a young pig-tailed girl to carry along with her even though her Girl Scout days were few!

Now as an adult, I have the opportunity to gather up boxes of Thin Mints from bright-eyed eager girls as easy as a brief stop while running errands. The friendship piece, though…that’s even trickier now than it was when I was the new student almost every year in grade school. Then I had the structure of school activities and the dubious recognition of always being the last person in every line since my last name started with a Z.

As busy mommas it’s hard to cultivate friendships anew and hold on to the wisps of friendships past. At the same time we’re trying to build our own network of relationships, we’re also nurturing our children’s friendships, helping negotiate playdates and shepherding our kiddos to make good choices in their interactions with others. Their world is so much different than our school days in which “social media” was passing notes without getting caught by the teacher.childhood notes

Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone and plant a seed of friendship, then patiently wait while the hectic pace of daily life churns on around us. It may take weeks or even months to get a glimpse of that friendship blossoming a little more. We may have to keep being the one to introduce ourselves at parent meetings, join a new Bible study, or volunteer for something that puts us closer to the action. In these awkward situations, I remind myself  “baby steps, Dianna” and take encouragement from the fact that my boys have been steadily surging forward in their new relationships, too.

We discovered that little gestures can go a long way. A few months ago, we put a bike rack by our garage and invited boys that lived farther from the bus stop to park their bikes there. My son is now having more contact with neighborhood kids because we made ourselves just a little more accessible — a little more transparent to those around us.

Adults (or at least us introverted ones) seem to have a harder time showing this transparency. It takes courage for us to show our vulnerability, having outgrown that marvelous age where we could simply ask, “Will you be my friend?

Bible Quilt friendship page
Bible Quilt friendship page

Friendship is a lovely gift from God. Many verses reflect this truth of connectedness.

Are you missing a friend connection? Would you like to have some more friends in your inner circle? Hang tough. There’s more to your friendship song and to mine:

“Silver is precious, Gold is too. I am precious, and so are you. You help me, and I’ll help you and together we will see it through…” 

Since I’ve experienced the heartfelt joys of long-term friendships and have been fortunate to have seen best friends from high school and college in the last month, I know it’s worth it to invest in these friends of silver and of gold…and whatever lies between. I cling to the  threads of my dear close friends through texts, phone calls, emails and Voxer to hold me over until our next face-to-face gatherings.

blossoming pear treeIn the meantime, I’m tentatively testing the soil of potential friendships in my new surroundings. We just have to keep planting seeds in our interactions and step out of our comfort zones…who knows, we might bump into someone who is seeking the same sweet connection. And, if we get to share Thin Mints in the process?? That’s a win-win in my book!