Tag Archives: connection

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!

 

______ is patient, _____ is kind.

We have a chance to love those around us each day, but today especially the expectation is high. (Do you feel it?)

Sometimes we  just need to reflect on words of  Truth…

Love is patient

pine needle quiet

Love is kindThanksgiving flowers

 

It does not envy or boast

boys goofing around

Love is not proud, rude, or self-seekingFlorida blooming

It is not easily angeredstorm cloud

It keeps no record of wrongsgreen grass

Love does not delight in evil

lily pads

Love rejoices with the truthmountain stream

 

Love always protects

Love always trusts

mom tackle

Love always hopesholding hands

 

Love always perseveresgrowth despite hardship

Love never failsrainbow in storm

I Corinthians 13:4-8  “the Love chapter”

Love is patient...I remember an activity we did in a junior high Sunday School class long ago. We had to read these verses to ourselves but replace “Love” with our own name:

Dianna is patient…

Dianna is kind…”

THAT puts a whole new spin on this passage and reminds me of how much I’ve fallen short of loving others authentically. so.many.times. I’m grateful for God’s grace and mercy to keep trying to love as He would like us to.

However your Valentine’s day unfolds, may you experience His love, the ultimate valentine. ❤️

 

 

Love is in the Air

 

love  Thank You, Lord, for the Sounds of Love.

There are so many we appreciate and are thankful for. Our ears are receiving them daily. When you pause and make   a list of your personal love notes, the sounds become even richer.

Here are a few of mine…

Prayers out of my children’s mouths. 

Praise songs on the radio.

Gentle guidance in my husbands voice.

Birds singing.

My boys’ giggles over pure silliness.

Picking up the phone to hear a loved one’s voice on the other end.

The family dinner bell.

A chat with a friend over coffee.

“Please, thank you” and an endless surplus of “I love you” from my children.

 

painted-birdsAll of these are God’s Love Notes to  us throughout our day.  Look for Sounds of  Love; they are a melody written for you and me. These sounds are all a reflection of Christ’s love. Each day we contribute to the sound. Is it a sweet or aggravated noise?

 

I can Love Loud: by being a cheerleader or advocate for someone. My words can build-up a self-esteem.  I can use my mouth to pour out encouragement. I can share Christ’s Love by demonstrating actions that result in life-changing Love.

I can Love Silent: from a distance, with unfailing stamina my voice can quietly lift up prayer for someone going through a painful trial. I can be watchful as I use Love Notes of Hope to form a prayer. I can rejoice quietly when I watch the Lord conquer the plan meant for harm.

I can Love Deep and Wide: by emotionally investing, pursuing and pouring out for a loved one. With a no-going-back mindset  I can plant Love Notes that I water and fertilize by using words of hope, peace, love.

I can Love Sideways: by partnering with someone that needs an arms-length approach. A peripheral friend to scatter a Love Note when needed for someone to get their bearings on a situation.

And sometimes Love Just Happens: in an unexpected moment, I can see a need and” rise to the call”.  Acting in a moments notice without much thought or preparation I can add encouragement  with a Love Note because I have been tuned into listening to the Lord’s  Love Notes over me.

Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You. Psalm 63:3

you-are-so-loved

Walls

History is filled with walls being built to define and protect country borders. History is also punctuated by walls crumbling or actively being torn down to bring people back together.

This post is not about politics. This is about the human condition.

wallIn our vulnerability as humans, we erect walls between one another, too. Just like the stones and mortar stacked layer upon layer to build a sturdy wall, we also build one divisive layer at a time until an almost tangible barrier lies between us. Friendships halt; relationships wither.

brick wall, adding layersAt first this barrier may have seemed self-protective in nature. We erect a buffer between us and someone else to gain a little personal space.

We retreat to ourselves to ponder a change in our relationship – perhaps we even give in to a good pout while we’re at it.

If we don’t sift through our thoughts and feelings in a way that’s objective and balanced, however, we soon find ourselves casting everything about this relationship into a negative jumble. We lose perspective and discover we’re in a deeper mess than we intended.

Slowly and somewhat sheepishly, we realize we’re more than a little skittish about how to seek our way out from this dark wall we’ve hidden behind.


We…..are….STUCK.

brick wall with holeBeing in a standstill in a relationship is no fun. Hurt feelings get piled up on both sides of the wall. Heavy hearts weigh down our ability to cope with one another in a reasonable way.

It’s so hard to make the first effort to knock a chink in that wall…yet so worth it.


“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32


I think forgiveness may be an underrated superhero skill. It has such a powerful impact once we have the humility to employ it. Forgiveness can squash those barriers between us so quickly that we wonder how we had built these walls so clumsily to start with.

Saying “sorry” is not just for kindergarteners to practice their social skills on the playground. It’s for ALL of us.

Extending forgiveness to a friend or loved one is not easy, but often is the first step in healing a relationship. It allows the light to break through that murky veil that has clouded our communication. With gentle strength, forgiveness collapses the selfish defenses between us. Our footsteps become lighter and we see the hope of moving forward together again.brick wall crumbled


Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8


Love well during this season, friends. May we each have grace with one another, especially during those tender moments when we may need to exchange forgiveness rather than a Hallmark valentine. ❤️

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.™

Simply Gratitude

Sometimes family traditions can be simple and not take much time, yet still foster a strong connection between family members.

starting gratitude pumpkinThe Gratitude Pumpkin is super easy. All you do is select one of your pumpkins that wasn’t sacrificed into a jack-o-lantern and grab a sharpie marker.

Then simply take turns writing a word or phrase of gratitude.

I love the unfolding of different colors and handwriting scrawls as the words of gratitude wind themselves around and around the pumpkin. As the pumpkin fills with gratitude messages, we realize that our gratitude is wide, ranging from Legos to forgiveness. We see a mutual appreciation for family, friends, and a safe country.

gratitude pumpkin signingLast year we did this activity on our front porch, adding a gratitude in the morning while we waited for the bus …or in the evening as we enjoyed impromptu frisbee or football out in our front yard.

It’s very casual, not structured at all.

gratitude pumpkin signing

We didn’t realize until later that our little pumpkin was blessing whoever came to our door. In a season of frequent deliveries from Amazon or having family over for holiday events, it became a special welcome moment as people paused to read about our thankfulness.

gratitude pumpkin (cont)
Gratitude pumpkin

 

Simply Gratitude.

Now that’s a tradition that we can get behind.

Join us?