Tag Archives: connection

Hints of hospitality

Throughout the year we have houseguests and like to welcome them in small ways so that they feel special.

hydrangea blossoms– Cutting some flowers from the garden and plunking them into an empty garden pot on an outdoor table

– Jotting a welcome note onto the dry erase board propped on the kitchen counter.

– Stacking some magazines on the guest’s bed

-Setting out a try of cold drinks

– Baking some cookies..and perhaps adding some bonus chocolate chips 🙂bonus chocolate chips

– Leaving a stack of freshly laundered towels and new body wash in the guest bathroom

– Providing an empty basket for their family to use as a catch-all for their traveling items

– Writing out our network name and WiFi password so it’s easily accessible

welcome sign in garden


hospitality = the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers

hello door and rainbow wreath

Hospitality is easily nurtured by including everyone in your family. Encourage your children to greet guests at the door and invite kids into their activities.

Set out some fidget toys or old-fashioned games to help get them started.

A family pet can be a great distraction to push through any awkward getting-to-know-you jitters.doggy welcomeSometimes hospitality is welcoming your own people back home after summer camp…welcome home goodie bag

Or perhaps your spouse knows you’ve had a long day and provides you with a fruity drink in a fun souvenir glass…then joins you for a few quiet moments.

boat drink

All of these little touches communicate “you are known” and “you are welcome here.” We are ambassadors of our families and can minister Christ’s love to others through simple gestures. So, put out that welcome mat and open your hearts for whoever may cross your threshold today!

welcome mat



“…seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13


If you are new to our site, Welcome! If you’re a continuing reader, notice we’ve made some changes to freshen up virtually for you. We’re still tweaking some of the format, so it may be a little messy — just like our houses when we’re in the midst of a good visit.

A Place to Dream

old playset

 

As I looked at a tired part of a swing set at a friend’s house that had been relegated to the back corner of the yard, a moment of inspiration hit me… Their daughter, who is in middle school, walked with me, and I heard the combination of grown-up banter mingled with sweet innocence of youth still on the outskirts of our conversation. Every age should have a place to dream their dreams; and at every age that place looks different. She no longer went out to swing from monkey bars anymore, but that set was not quite finished; repurposing is always fun!  We began to devise a plan and take this summertime to dream.

pails and twine   pinwheels  pails

 

She listed her favorite things: colors, twinkle lights, soft spots to linger, seashells, bunting, art supplies…

( the list itself was fun to dream!)

We kept the budget friendly, and made several things, which was more fun then buying them anyway!!

Let me show you what we created with a bit of dreams:

 

place to dream

oh so fun!

ribbon bunting

We made ribbon bunting with scrap pieces she had collected.                                                                             By tying them to some twine it made a whimsical addition to                                                                           string across the front entry.  

 

umbrella

She had a faded umbrella that was headed to the trash, but we saved it and placed it inside for a dreamy ceiling.

 

We suspended one piece of art in a window opening with twine to create an outdoor room.  enjoy moments

 

The time we spent putting this together was sweet in itself, but the opportunities for quiet moments, chats with her mom, a special place as friendships unite… such a treasure. A place to dream comes in every shape and size; the imagination is limitless! Take time this summer to set up a dream spot for a child, a loved one and absolutely for yourself! (Its more fun and less expensive than all those stress relievers out there.)

 

rainbow

Family Motto

Getting away from home and reconnecting with everyone that lives under its roof can reveal some unexpected family insights and add some humorous depth to family lore.family dog

Some families may be very intentional about having a family motto or even a family mission statement. Perhaps a family meeting is called and potential options are discussed with great energy and passion. An artistic member of the family may even document it in some way so that it can be boldly proclaimed to visiting guests. We are not that family. Sure, we discuss a lot of things at the dinner table and share goals for different seasons of our busy family life, but we haven’t gotten our act together enough to identify “a family motto” let alone agree on one and put it into any kind of action plan.

So, we all got a good laugh last week when our youngest blurted out what sounded like a family motto. We were trouble-shooting some logistics on vacation, attempting to squeeze out the last nano-second of margin between one activity and another. Somebody pointed out how the timing would have to be just right, each person take care of their stuff, and everything else fall smoothly into place (as in no flight delays during a heavy storms). A brief stress-filled silence filled the rental van and maybe a grunt emitted from somewhere near the driver’s seat. I tentatively murmured some hopeful comment, clinging to my fervent prayers all week that this particular transition would pass without a hitch. All of a sudden our youngest announced emphatically,

“We are good at stuff!”

Everyone erupted in laughter and our joint tension released as we all chanted his slogan, “WE. ARE. GOOD. AT. STUFF.” This statement certainly is general enough to cover any situation, it’s positive, and it focuses on the “WE” our family embraces. Hmmm…a family motto in the making?

Our connecting flight was on time despite many delays and cancellations all around us. Our departure gate was only 2 down from our arrival (= time for a restroom break and a brief snack). Everything went smoothly once we hit the ground running. My mom even met us at the airport with chocolate chip cookies for the next little road trip. So, a potentially tense situation ended well. Our family did pitch in with all the “stuff” involved and our son made it to his next activity on time. It was in that moment of stress that we connected as a family, stepped up on that foundation of prayer and joined in silly laughter together…that is the stuff we are good at.

woods

All of this was a good reminder that family getaways are important to the soul of a family.

As a bonus, now we have a tension-breaker line to use the next time we need a little encouragement. As far as an “official” family motto? Let’s just say no t-shirts or bumper stickers have appeared just yet.

delphiniums



“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10



only girl

Recently we had some friends over for an impromptu pizza dinner after soccer games were finished for the day. Our combo of kids resulted in an 8 boys:1 girl ratio. The solo girl told her mother on the way home, “the mom is the only girl in their house.” Oh, so very true! During her visit I enjoyed digging out some “girl stuff” from my play therapy toy stash. I invited her to play with my collection of Lego Friends I’ve received from my boys during their Legos-for-every-occasion phase that lasted persistently for years. I listened to her little girl chatter, noting the lack of crash-bang-argh sound effects that typically accompany boy play at our house. I watched as she fidgeted with her long, tousled hair as she told me stories with vibrant animation. She was enamored with our baby turtle, Pipsqueak. She had so many words and was so willing to share.Salsa

Just as our young visitor had the realization that I was the only girl in my house, I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve become accustomed to how my sons dole out their words at a slowly measured rate as if they need to conserve their syllables to last the remainder of the day. I’ve noticed how they interact playfully with me and show affection in boyish ways that don’t require stringing all those nouns and verbs together. Much of their communication is through touch and sound.

I’ve got one boy who is my Leaner. As he’s grown taller than me, he’s developed a lean-in stance when he drapes over me for a hug. He stands very still but is so fully present that it seeps into my heart like a soft rain soaks deeply into the ground. Often he will hum softly as his breathing slows and I feel the man-child weight of him pressing onto my shoulders. He releases with a big sigh and we’re both a little more centered somehow.

morning hugAnother son has developed his technique of the hold-and-squeeze. He comes in for a “typical” hug then holds me tight, waiting for an off-beat amount of precious seconds to do a double-squeeze that sometimes takes my breath away. Occasionally I’ll get a few mini-squeezes in before he loosens his hold on me. I can sense the melody of his mood in how he prolongs the hug or stays only for a brief skirmish. Sometimes we’ll finalize with a rhythmic tap-tap of our fingers, drumming onto each other’s backs without saying a word–yet also saying so much. This seems like a foreshadowing of the letting-go process we face when he leaves for college in a heartbeat.

contented boy

My last one I can still tuck under my chin when he dives all-in, often leading with his head and wrapping around me with all of his limbs. I often wonder how many limbs he has because they are EVERYwhere! A lot of swaying and giggles accompany this hugfest, especially if he gets a firm headrub or backscratch out of the deal. He lingers longer if a variety of wiggly movement is sustained in this light-hearted encounter, reminding me that his primary Love Language is Physical Touch. Squirmy love is his forte; I have adapted my reflexes accordingly.

mandevilla bloomSo, yes, I am the only girl in this house, but I’ve learned to communicate “boyspeak” as I’ve grown along with them. They can out-talk me about sports, outrun me in 5k races, and definitely out-eat me at any given meal…yet they can’t outgrow the mommy-son bonds weaved ever so tightly during all these leaning, squeezing, squirmy moments.


“Behold, children are a gift from the Lord… His reward.” Psalm 127:3


“Mother’s day” has passed yet each of us mommas can harvest these little snatches of our child’s affection however they may come. It may be braiding your daughter’s hair for the umpteenth time or gritting your teeth through those first driving lessons. A wink, a nudge, a crayon drawing, a morning grunt or an after-school story…cherish these tokens of your child’s unique interaction with you. We’ve got 50 weeks until the next round of “direct” appreciation the card-makers will remind everyone about. In the meantime, soak up the ordinary love today, my friends.

Starter threads

How does God transform the ordinary threadsthose events and experiences of our day-to-day moments…into extraordinary tapestries of our unique life stories? How can we honor His workmanship as He does this artful transformation in us? 

Beginningsspools of thread

Each of us are given “starter” threads that are unique to us. These are individualized and personal, representing a broad spectrum of colors, unique textures, and varied lengths. We develop our threads over time, through life experiences and choices we make. We’re impacted by those around us, whether they nurture and encourage us, strengthening us and weaving us tight…or whether they don’t.

yarnAs parents we have the opportunity to nurture these “starter” threads in our children, to provide them with what they need to grow. Do we settle for the basics? Or do we strive for a complicated weaving of academics and extracurricular activities to stretch them? How do we balance what each individual child needs in the midst of a large family? How do we buffer our children from negative life experiences that are inevitable? When do we protect and when do we challenge? When do we WEAVE in and strengthen their fragile strands? When do we step back and allow them to make their own connections, threading our past into their future?

embroidery flossThrough Jesus’ offering, we have the capacity to become a beautiful tapestry representing His love and strength. Focusing on Him each day to help us develop our threads in the most beautiful way possible is our challenge. We are His design, but we have to yield to His process. This can feel out-of-control and messy at times. I struggle to maintain an openness to His work in me. Yielding is hard to do.


“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” Psalm 51:10


pillow tapestryA tapestry can be decorative or functional, providing warmth and comfort. It can represent one’s cultural influences or historical significance. A tapestry includes many different textures which add depth and reflect unique characteristics. Some parts may be rough while others are soft. Some portions may be scratchy where the threads were rubbed the wrong way. This may represent a time when we weren’t following God’s plan for us — going against the grain/weave He intended for us.

Tapestries have a vast array of colors. The more color is woven into one’s tapestry, the more life experiences it represents. Colors that are deeply saturated reflect intense experiences whereas lighter colors may reflect more carefree times in our lives.

throw blanket

At first glance a tapestry may be a beautiful blend of textures and colors. Look closer, though, and you discover the knots of imperfections within the weave. These are the hard times that we needed to work through or soak in until gradually we were able to knot the threads and resume our course. We continue rather than start over. We knot and move on, continuing our tapestry. A loose strand or two may be left dangling for another season when we’re more “capable” of making a knot. These scraggly knots and bumps are an important part of our tapestry. They are part of our history. These knotty imperfections make us easier to relate to, reflecting our humanness and tie us together with universal common threads. Without these, we are diminished and plain. With them, we have depth and vibrancy.

Some days we feel about to unravel. Other days we may be tied up in knots over something. Whatever our current season, let us take a moment to embrace the work God is doing in each of us, knitting us closer to Him in His grand design…one frayed strand at a time.



“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14



 

New Beginnings

Spring is my fave.
It’s like a good friend returning for a much anticipated visit. 

welcome springSpring brings many gifts: budding trees, gentle rain, blossoming flowers.

budding weeping willow

early tulipsSpring is a time of new growth. It’s a chance for a fresh start.hosta shootsSpring is like a seasonal “do-over.” Let’s try this again…bulb flowersAs things once dormant awaken, we can begin anew as well.turtle emerging

We can release old grudges.

We can commit to a new gameplan.

We can refocus our attitudes.

We can choose a new route of personal growth.

We can have new beginnings in our relationships.

It’s not easy breaking through the muck, but the awakening in our souls is worth it.

tulip tree blossoming

spring trees


“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

violasSpring reminds us we have so many opportunities for renewal. Where do you want a fresh start today?