Summer is all about curious explorations and fun family outings.Recently we had a joint family adventure to a local blueberry farm and dove into our first experience of picking fresh blueberries.
We each grabbed a bucket and headed down the rows of lush blueberry plants.Within a few minutes we had established a rhythm:
Reach in to a full branch, grab a few berries, do a sample taste test, and drop the remainder into the bucket.
It wasn’t long before we were confident in our picking game. The boys quickly determined that the ripest berries would release easily, leaving the rest on the vine for later.The sun warmed our backs and a light breeze kept us going when our task began to feel a bit like “work.”
Occasionally we’d switch rows and swap stories, eyeing each other’s buckets to see how much progress we were making.Conversations bounced about as our buckets slowly filled.
Sweet tidbits of summer’s glory…
With boys ranging in age from 6 to 15, we could see the difference in their maturity levels in their conversation as well as their picking styles.
Some were methodical and steady. Others experimented with centrifugal force as they hurled their buckets in large circles, challenging each other to go faster and faster.
One needed to do his taste-testing at the sno-cone truck to “preview” flavors for the rest of us. (It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!)
The Lord must see this same maturation process in our spiritual lives. Our prayers and spiritual walks strengthen as our faith ripens over time, saturating into us as we press through life’s challenges.
We are all maturing at our own unique pace – – –
… some of us are “green” yet full of potential
… others are at the “sweet spot” of maturity & ready to share
…others are past their “peak,” yet maintain a strong, distinctive flavor
“Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…” Hebrews 6:1
As we rallied the troops and weighed in our buckets, it didn’t matter how much each of us picked. Our efforts were gathered together in one beautiful heap.
One family outing reaped many bonuses:
the simple joy of having freshly plucked berries to add to our granola, yogurt, and salads
~~~ the red, white, and BLUEberry fun during 4th of July celebrations ~~~
How much sweeter all these experiences were because we had gathered the blueberries ourselves and shared in our collective abundance, enjoying the fruits of our labor. Sweet rewards for hot, summer days – – – infusing fond memories and new traditions – – – for the love of blueberries!
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.
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.
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…
We love how Bible Quilting connects people, drawing them closer together through the Word of God.
Sometimes it feels like sacred ground.
—///— We’re weaving Bible Quilting into the patchwork of our lives. —///—
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.
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.
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!
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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.
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!We’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.
How sweet is that!
Our hearts are full on this journey, walking out in faith one tentative step at a time.
We invite you in to join us…wherever you are on your spiritual journey.
Our mother-in-law, Kitty, was a go-getter. When she saw something that needed done, she marched out boldly and did it… sometimes with an unexpected ending. In remembrance of her birthday today, we’ll share one of her acts of boldness with you:
Kitty once saw a dog running loose in a busy neighborhood in Houston, so she picked it up and took it home with her. She gave him some food and water, soothing him with comforting words. Then she called the number on the dog’s collar. The grateful owner gave Kitty their address. Kitty loaded up the now very content dog back into her car. As she approached the address, houses on the street began to look familiar. She arrived at the destination and suddenly realized it was the EXACT address where she had originally picked up this “stray.” Yep, she had “rescued” this dog from its own yard! She handled this somewhat awkward moment gracefully and told this story to us several times over the years, embellishing it and laughing at herself as much as we did!
After the laughter subsided, what struck me was the boldness that Kitty displayed. She boldly stopped what she was doing to take care of a need that she saw in her community. She called a complete stranger to return a dog to its owner. And, once she realized she had snatched this “lost” dog from its very own home, she still boldly marched up to that house and ADMITTED what she had done.
As we celebrate our two-year blogiversary (is this really a thing, we wonder?), we have been praying some BOLD PRAYERS over this little business/ministry that the Lord has unfolded for us. We’re learning a lot about accounting, graphic design, logos, links, trademarks, inventory and event planning. Our backgrounds in psychology and education didn’t necessarily prepare us for this new territory, yet the Lord has provided the foundation of skills we need, the strength to lean on Him, and the openness to seek from others what is needed to fill in the gaps.
We’ve been stretched out of our comfort zones in many ways, over and over again, since starting our blog 2 years ago. Last weekend I had the opportunity to be the speaker at a women’s retreat – to share not once, but three times. I leaned heavily on prayers of strength from my support team to get me through my public-speaking jitters. (Those retreat ladies were beyond gracious to me!)
One of the illustrations I shared with the group was about how I incorporate the Bible QuiltTMinto my Bible study and devotions. I wanted to give them a visual about how I’ve rediscovered my strength and closeness with the Lord using this devotional technique, so I stood in the center of a hula hoop.
I shared that when I’m in this familiar sphere of comfort with the Lord, I get grounded in the Word and feel more secure. After I’ve refueled in my “circle” of Quiet Time, then I feel more confident to pick up my “hula hoop” of faith and share with others.
I wiggled my way through a little demonstration of hula hooping, which brought smiles and laughter to the group. Then I let the hula hoop fall to the ground and stepped out of it.
The hula hoop, although still colorful and sparkly, did not have the same impact when it just laid on the floor. It wasn’t being used to its full potential of joy. I encouraged the ladies to think about our Quiet Time with the Lord in the same way.
If we get ourselves all filled up on God’s promises and strength but do not share our faith with others, we are not engaging the full potential of joy we have in Him. I challenged them to consider ways they could step out of their comfort zones — to pick up their hula hoops — and invite others to share their joy in Christ.
A couple days after the retreat, I received a text from one of the women. She said, “I’m working on my ‘hula hoop space’ to hear God and how to work more on my Bible Quilt.” I dearly appreciated her response and thought I might share this idea with our readers, too.
In the past 10 days of actually owning a hula hoop again and inviting others to play with it, I’ve noticed that it brings a smile to each face: the one trying to hula hoop AND everyone watching. Hula hooping involves some vulnerability — throwing your hands up and surrendering to what happens, reminding ourselves it’s okay to feel a little awkward sometimes. When we let our guard down, we connect a little more…we let others see us being a little silly and perhaps more approachable in a playful posture. To stretch this analogy a little fuller, maybe we need a reminder that we are children of God. He delights in us.
“For the Lord delights in His people…” Psalm 149:4
As we offer up “hula hoop prayers” to be bold and step out of our comfort zones to share our faith or to make a closer connection with someone, we’re more able to join together in community, capitalizing on our full potential the Lord has designed for each of us uniquely.
How can YOU be bold today?
Who might YOU invite to share in the joy of your hula hoop?
Some projects are worth the wait. Our ideas have to germinate and our baby steps of action often take longer than expected, but the end result allows all the effort and perseverance to slide into a happy place.
So it was with our turquoise table.
I first read about #theturquoisetable concept a couple years ago: to have a friendly painted picnic table in the front yard to draw neighbors closer together. I loved the simplicity of Kristin’s idea and how the beauty of this gesture blossomed into a hospitality movement across the country.
My brain hatched a plan: “I can do this,too.”
Later that spring when we had some landscaping done, I incorporated an area large enough to accommodate a picnic table. I settled for spray-painting a garden bench for my splash of “welcome” turquoise. We had other things going on at the time and a picnic table project was not one of them.
Fast forward two summers. My sister-in-law called to tell me they were moving —into our neighborhood, about a half-mile away.
My brain cranked up the plan another notch: we could paint TWO tables at the same time, involving all our boys, and we could gift one to them as a housewarming present. An action plan was finally taking shape!
In late June, we sprang into action by getting the tables and buying the paint. They moved and then we went on vacation. Our tables kept each other company in our garage for a month.
Busy summer schedules eventually slowed a bit and we drug the tables out for an initial priming session:
These boys tackled the painting project with gusto!
While the primer dried, the boys went off to have a nerf dart war in the front yard, complete with trashcans & moving blankets for impromptu barricades.
At least one boy was still scampering around in only his underwear.
hmmm…Do you think this is what Kristin meant by #frontyardpeople?
We ran out of time that day, so the primed tables returned to the garage. The majority of our boys were “spotted” at back-to-school events with splotches of white paint in their hair.
Another week went by before we could wrangle all the boys in for another painting session. This time the excitement cranked up a notch because the fun color, Nifty Turquoise, was revealed.
(Moms were encouraging the use of hats and gloves this time…some boys heeded the warning; some didn’t.)
The magic of the Turquoise Table took effect immediately before the tables were even fully painted.
A neighbor lady walking by gushed about the fun color…and quizzed us about the number of boys involved. “Yep, they’re ALL ours!”😉
As we were painting, the air pressure changed and storm clouds rolled in. We hustled the almost-but-not-quite painted tables back into the garage just in time to beat the large raindrops threatening our progress.
Another 10 days or so elapsed before we got a second coat of paint on the tables…and it took another week to spray them down with polyurethane, but at last they were finished!
We celebrated with oreo ice cream sundaes prepared by my youngest son way back in June when we first started the project.
Yep, they were worth the wait, too!
As fall approaches, we’re eager to move family life to these cheerful tables out front and embrace the community around us.
If YOU haven’t started one yet, go for it!
It’s a fun family project . . . and almost as easy as 1, 2, 3!! 😜
However long it takes and the messes it makes, take joy in the process.
Memories are etched in the layers of these everyday colorful moments.
(aaand…if you’ve had a kid photographer involved, then you’ve got plenty of evidence to show for it!)
In between the hustle and bustle with this crew, I’m looking forward to some quiet moments out there with my Bible Quilt™journal, too.
Did you catch #solareclipse fever this week? It was quite the mesmerizing event around here. While capable of making us feel incredibly small in the scope of this wide world, it also pulled us together to focus on a common goal.
This grandeur was possible through a “just so” alignment of the sun, moon, and our precious Earth. The eclipse was the “sweet spot” of these 3 celestial entities, causing quite a stir amongst us humans scrambling for our NASA sunglasses. For a few weighty moments, we were all unified in one purpose.
We all gazed upward into a vastness that we struggle to comprehend. We stilled ourselves in the midst of our daily routines, sharing in the anticipation of this cosmic event. It didn’t matter that we were wearing silly glasses and straining our necks awkwardly. We were aligned in one shared goal.
How great would it be to continue such true alignment with each other beyond these precious few moments?
I was heartened to see diverse crowds of people file into stadiums, stand shoulder to shoulder, then break into spontaneous applause as they were impacted by the aweof the moment.
Other people crossed state lines and joined strangers in open fields to partake in this unique experience, enduring long lines of traffic on the journey home, yet hopefully still full of the wonder they had just absorbed with a wider community than they are typically a part of…stretching out of their comfort zones.
In a nation that has been besieged by divisiveness and hurtful separation, it was encouraging to watch alliances form among strangers. In a country bombarded with negative headlines, it was refreshing to view positive interactions and meaningful conversations about a shared experience.
– – May our moments of alignment not be as fleeting as a rare solar eclipse. May we hold tightly to that sense of greater community and wholeness,leaning toward one another rather than away.
When we align together for a common purpose, we are more likely to be receptive to others – – to be open to their ideas and opinions. It weaves us closer. Joining together in community pulls us into alignment with one another in ways big and small. It doesn’t happen automatically. We have to put ourselves in position to connect…to stretch a bit out of our comfy zones of familiarity.
Maybe if we intentionally reach out in a small step toward someone out of our usual sphere each day, we won’t have to wait ’til 2024 to come together in unity again?
What’s a Random Act of Kindness? Many times it’s a small or large action done for a person to bring them joy. The beautiful by-product of doing a Random Act of Kindness is that it usually blesses the giver too.
Last week my family took out on a 1 week adventure to a Family Camp. It was the 5th year for us to go; we look forward to the play and relax time we have as a family each year in this place. We pick many excursions throughout the week that puts our focus on fun together. But this year we stretched beyond our comfort zone and chose to spend a day serving in a camp nearby that has many sponsors helping to make it happen.We knew very little about Kids Across America when we drove there at lunch time. Our kids had agreed to trade a day of play for a day of work without hesitation, but we all felt the weight of the unknown as we got there.
I can say without a doubt that the afternoon turned into one of ourfavoriteparts of that week! There were things in that experience that were familiar, but there was much that seemed foreign to us. It was good for all of us to break out of our molds and work hard and learn new things and meet new people. It turned out to be a wonderful day of planned Kindness.
The week before Camp, we had stopped at a Sonic for cold drinks during some errands. While ordering, I got 2 extra Cherry Limeades for women we would see on our outing. When we got to the office, they had left for the day, but my boys were concerned on what to do with the extra drinks...in a random act of Kindness we began looking for the first 2 people we could find to share the drinks with.The 2 we found were so happy to receive an unexpected drink! There was joy and surprise and laughter and conversation all over a cherry limeade!! We got back in the car and marveled at how that situation had turned out; it was so random, but really blessed our day.
A woman I met just the other day spoke some wise words to me in the brief time I had with her…she paused in our conversation and told me to ponder the word Growth.And so I am; and it is such rich word with many layers. There is room for growth in each day; Random Acts of Kindness will follow. I encourage others to tuck that word into your hearts this season.
On our Bucket List of Fun for the Summer, we have decided to add many more Random Acts of Kindness to our weeks. Both big and small endeavors reap large rewards for all involved. I hope many others will invest in these Acts; they refresh ones Spirit in huge dividends of growth!!