Tag Archives: family

Seen and heard

The other day in the midst of running typical errands, I was nearly in a head-on collision. A woman careened through the intersection making a left turn and almost hit me as I was going straight on a green light. We both slammed on our brakes and came to a screeching halt. Before I could catch my breath, she backed up and I could see the crumpled front-end of her car. Oh no!

She waved dramatically at me then pulled on around and out of the intersection, leaving me stunned in the middle of a busy intersection.

I pulled out of the way and into a parking lot to assess the damage. There was none. I was both relieved and shocked. It was such a close call, maybe an inch or two… “Did that really just happen?”

As my heartbeat thudded in my ears and I looked about for the other woman, I stood in disbelief as I realized she was long gone. Hadn’t she seen me? Shouldn’t we check on each other? Nobody else had stopped either. I didn’t have anyone to corroborate what had just happened, to validate what I had seen and heard.

– – – To be seen and heard – – –
We navigate our lives in and around people all day long, often on autopilot. How much do we REALLY see and hear about those around us?
How much are WE seen and heard?

Sometimes we have to be still ourselves to be able to tune in to others more fully. We think we’re paying attention, but we’re really not.

As I’ve tried attending a yoga class more regularly, I’m realizing how busy my brain is despite my body being in a relaxed posture. I’m learning to redirect my attention through the simple act of counting my breaths, in and out…in and out. (and starting over when I notice I’m adding something else to my grocery list!)

Be Still

Slowing down allows us to take in what’s going on around us in this busy daily life of ours.

Noticing details is a way to show others we care, that we acknowledge them for what is unique about them. To act on one of these observed details takes it a step further.

It can be the little things on an ordinary day that make a big difference.

  • a  word of encouragement
  • a smile from a stranger as you pass by on a brisk winter day
  • providing an unexpected snack for your kids
  • picking up your husband’s dry-cleaning to remove it from his to-do list and ease his transition home a little soonermailbox
  • sending a card to a grandma far away to remind her that she’s always being held close to her family’s heart
  • flowers celebrating a special occasion – or just becausebirthday flowers

When someone does something out of their “ordinary” for us, we feel noticed.  We feel loved.

gifts from sons

 

I smiled the other night as I prepared a bubble bath, playfully tossing in the rubber duckies my son gave me at Christmas and unwrapping a bath bomb labeled “monkey farts” = gifts of love with a boy twist!

Some of my most treasured gifts have an underlying message of “I see you…I hear you.”
All of my guys have witnessed my journey with the Bible Quilt®️ journal, supporting me in various ways as they see the ebb and flow of a fledgling business. They pitch in to do a quick pick-up before a home session then swiftly disappear when they sense an incoming flux of women and girls.
My youngest surprised me at Christmas with his version of a Bible Quilted dinosaur. It was his unique way of showing me “I see you; I hear you, Mom.”
Be still my heart. ❤️
Bible Quilt®️ dinosaur
Brachio Quiltus
Tis the season for gestures of love for our assorted valentines, but we don’t have to feel pressured to do  something grand or typical.
Just be you.
Show your loved ones what YOU see and hear about them on any regular day.

valentines



“Let all that you do be done in love.”

I Corinthians 16:14



 

Shine on

Sometimes our days unfold in unexpected ways and we wander aimlessly around, trying to get our bearings.

Today my youngest stayed home with the crud. Again. Those pesky symptoms have lingered long  and we’re both tired of this nagging crud that we’re both battling. We’re both off-kilter and perhaps a little cranky.

Like a determined cold front moving in, this ominous cloud of sickness hovered over us and threatened to dampen our spirits. When my “mommy mind” finally acquiesed to the imposing reality, we succumbed to a slower pace for the day.

The grocery list sat on the counter.

Emails built up on my laptop.

Texts chimed on my phone.

We tuned out and continued with our mindless meanderings. One of us embraced the day with his robe gallantly flowing behind him and sporting his bedhead with pride. One of us got restless, seeking to uncover a little productivity amidst all the nurturing efforts. It was so hard to surrender to the imposed slowdown.

My son won the “Lounging Around” award with ease. He did it with gusto (well, after the meds kicked in) and fully hunkered down into a day of recovery rest. It was a reprieve from his usual expectations. He seemed to enjoy plopping down on the couch with minimal purpose, absorbing some quiet activities despite the constant companion of a kleenex box.

front moving inBy the end of the afternoon, his eyes showed more sparkle and his body posture transformed gradually from a drowsy sloth to a muted version of his typical spunky self. He was steadily regaining his energy level.

As he rebooted, I cratered. The lack of sleep from the night before (peppered by his coughs, snorts and some unmentionable things) finally downshifted me into neutral. Since he had improved, I was able to give myself permission to go offline. (This built-in Mom radar is a tricky one to power down.)

Taking notes from my son’s approach, I gave in to reading a novel I received at Christmas. Somewhere along the way I dozed off and later was awakened by my other boys returning home from school. Since I’m not a natural nap-taker, this caught them both by surprise…and was an acute reminder that they often don’t see me actually Rest.
We rallied through a simple dinner and I pushed through the evening’s activities – – which also unfolded in unexpected ways. (Adulting is hard and apparently nonstop…especially if your husband is away doing army work and you can’t tag team out.)"feel better soon" toast

Therein lies the crux of parenting. We ebb and flow with our kids’ needs, sometimes with cheerful encouragement and other times with begrudging grunts as we’re pulled away from our own agendas.

grilled cheese


These overcast days that are mired with grumpy challenges can provide grist for the mill.

Getting nudged off of our usual path can help provide a broader perspective.

Sometimes it takes a “shutdown” of a typical day to remind us about all the ways that we can shine a little brighter the next time a front of disappointment or illness rolls in.

It’s okay to give in  to the perks of a sick day — to take a respite from daily chores, to allow some nonessential responsibilities to slide, to nestle in beside your tousled child and indulge in some personal reading.
Wallow a bit together. 
Take a nap.
Savor the restorative power of grilled cheese …

When the clouds break and the sickness fades away, that sunshine will seem all the brighter and your own light will shine a little stronger because you’ve weathered the darkness together.

Shine on, friends…Shine pg in Bible Quilt®

 

 “Let your light shine.” Matthew 5:16

 

 

 

Waiting For The Fog To Lift

 

January always feels like a “do-over”  month to me.

New Years Resolutions run rampant and exercise plans loom everywhere! It can be a pressure-filled month to get things squared away. All the while, Christmas is being packed away and school times are resuming.  Just when our family had found a great rhythm of sleeping-in and perfecting how to chill… that alarm clock had to get involved again.
I tend to crave simplicity in January, too, as I clean up from the holidays. The impulse to organize and sort things begins stirring within me…(I’m trying to hold off till Spring!)
Ordinary Threads is about the many ways we layer a home, so I wanted to share a few of our January layers…  These help lift the fog that hovers over January,  while keeping the gems that linger from last month.
All the “togetherness” that happens during the holiday season spills into January for us. We grew accustomed to being with each other A LOT, and so we soak up the hush of winter with books and blankets intertwined on couches in coziness. I love love love this layer…this is how I get books read with my train of thought still intact. All of us in one space;  in quiet. hunkered down, (With 4 boys this is a big deal!)
For some reason, the whole family cooks together more this month too. I don’t have a reason for this, but I love it. Again, I think we just stay near to whatever activity is happening in the house. I’ll take the company and clean-up!!
We linger longer and laugh out loud more often. We snuggle and wrestle and give bear hugs at a whim; all that holiday love living on; Makes a Mom Heart so Happy. We aren’t feeling the tug of being outside yet that Spring will lure us to soon enough. Relishing the quiet and coziness all the while we can. The January layers are calm and reflective. They can seem foggy, but they are still rich in content if you let them be. Enjoy January!

 

He fashions our hearts individually; He considers all our works. Psalm 33:15

 

 

 

Lessons in the Mess of Life

In this brief lull of the Holiday Hustle, I’m catching my breath after a delightful Christmas before we gear up for another round of family gatherings coming up this weekend.

My heart is full, my house has been well used,  and my sweet tooth has been revved up on high. (Is it better just to get all the delectable goodies eaten up so they aren’t taunting me???)Christmas cookies

Our family pace has slowed a bit yet our rhythms are a little wonky due to clumsy shifting from  sluggish relaxation to the next flurry of holiday activity.
I savor our togetherness however it occurs. 
family walk in the snow
Holidays are often an eclectic mix of excited anticipation and a pinch of disappointment when things don’t go as expected, aren’t they? 
Christmas trees sometimes fall over and treasured ornaments go flying…fallen Christmas tree
Beloved coffee cakes may overflow and drip all over the oven, creating a burnt stench wafting through the house instead of filling it with the usual sweet aroma….coffee cake overflow
In these moments, frustration rises quickly and it’s so easy to feel defeated in our attempts to cultivate holiday traditions.
Moving past the initial grumbling, we tackle the messes and clean up the spills. (We are still the adults after all, right?)
coffee cake delivery
Christmas coffee cakes ready for delivery…
Sometimes we have to go back to the very beginning and try again to get the end result we’re hoping to achieve. We often learn something deeper about ourselves in this unwinding process.
Messes and mishaps remind us to keep things in perspective. Others are struggling with deeper trials and faced with tougher challenges.
None of us can do it on our own. We are small in the grand scheme of things.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,

the First and the Last,

the Beginning and the End.”

Revelation 22:12


I’m grateful we have a God that provides GRACE in all of our vulnerable mess. He is with us in our humble beginnings. He is with us in the messy middle. He is with us in the aftermath.
It’s comforting to feel His presence always available to us.  We just have to push through our distractions to realize He is the First and is the Last in all of it. 
Alpha and Omega page in Bible Quilt®
Alpha and Omega page in my Bible Quilt®
As this year draws to a close and we’re scurrying around to tie up loose ends, hopefully we’re carrying with us a little more wisdom from what we have learned about ourselves this past year. 
May we lean into the New Year with deeper insight, brighter hope, and more realistic expectations. 

– – – Here’s to a strong finish and a fresh start, friends! snow on pine tree

 

 

Gingerbread all the Way!

baking gingerbread
Some years we’ve made Gingerbread aprons…this guy has now outgrown two!

Last weekend our two families had our 17th annual Gingerbread House baking session. Flour floated about in the air and candy sprinkles bounced to the floor as every cookie sheet I own was in action.

This year’s theme was “Jenks Trojans” since this is the one and only year that our combined crew of boys is attending the same school district.

Our boys range from Kindergarten to Senior year, covering the campuses of Elementary, Intermediate, Middle School, and High School. Several of us parents are Jenks Alumni, so it was fun to focus on our alma mater, too…and look through old yearbooks.

Jenks Gingerbread house
Jenks Trojan mascot, overlooking the fusion of campus life

The photo of the completed project typically yields satisfied smiles and a well-tended gingerbread village, all neat and tidy. Yet it represents so much more.

Di & Audra with 1st gingerbread house
The Lone Star House – 2001 Gingerbread

We started this tradition when my oldest was 1 and Audra was newly married. An additional 1/2-dozen  kids have joined the process since that first Christmas Eve when our only helpers were our reluctant husbands and one very enthusiastic mother-in-law.

We had no Pinterest to consult or Facebook to scroll for ideas. We had a generic gingerbread recipe from an old cookbook of Audra’s and my risky idea that melting granulated sugar until it became searing hot liquid could be the “glue” to fuse gingerbread walls together.

Each year we talk fondly of that first little house with its gaping roof hole and wonky proportions. We wince as we remember burning our fingers repeatedly with that molten sugar. We persevered that first night into the wee morning hours though because we were hopeful of starting a tradition between our two families.

the Flour KingMany versions of the Gingerbread House have been constructed since then, some more elaborate than others. Significant family events have been rolled into these Gingerbread gatherings  just as consistently as we have rolled out the dough year after year.

gingerbread team

We’ve made our Gingerbread creations in 3 states and 9 different houses. For several years running we added another child to the mix.

We’ve taken turns soothing hurt feelings and nurturing burned fingers. We’ve broken dishes, chipped rolling pins, and even taken a door off its hinges to move a super-sized gingerbread creation to another room. The one constant in all the candy chaos was the fusion of our families through this joint endeavor. gingerbread in production

Throughout these annual Gingerbread adventures, cousins have connected in various ways, solidifying  their family foundation just as our go-to cement icing strengthens the gingerbread structures firmly into place.cousins

Each year we gather together with only a loose theme in mind and then begin the process of making large batches of gingerbread dough to see what the crew creates.

candy-eating decorating
Eating candy is ALWAYS part of the process

As ideas unfold, we reminisce about past gingerbread house successes and failures. Everyone seems to have a different “favorite” house based on a fun technique or unusual theme.

Our collective memories merge into heartfelt agreement that the sticky messes, the unforeseen challenges, the countless hours, and architectural frustrations are worth the sweet legacy kneaded into this culinary tradition.hospital gingerbread

Batman gingerbreadAs the boys have gotten older, they’ve become more involved in  creating and constructing.

The adults have gradually learned to downshift into more supportive roles, allowing the smaller hands to manipulate the dough into their own unique concoctions.

Sugar Cube Castle
Sugar Cube Castle 2016

generational gingerbreadseniorsGrandparents weave in and out of the frenzied activity, lending a helping hand or showing us how to pace ourselves.

Although we do like to “ooh” and “aah” over the completed gingerbread display, the true  joy of finishing is seeing the individualized inputs synthesized into a cohesive creation.

As the dads set up tripods and arrange wiggly boys for a full team photo, the sugarload effect looms large as we grasp for one last “decent” shot with all eyes open. (Sometimes the photo sessions seems to take as long as the construction phase!) When the crew inevitably collapses into silliness and giggles,  we shoo them out the door to run off their pent-up energy.

Superhero City
Superhero City – 2015 Gingerbread

Each year we take a few moments to cherish the closure of another triumphant gingerbread round, wearily rejoicing and ignoring the crunchiness of my floor.

Here’s to family and GINGERBREAD all the way!

Yay!

 

 

PEACE, not pieces

give thanks: pie for dinnerOur family has done Thanksgiving in many different ways over the years. We’ve hosted the dinners yet also driven the miles to do the rounds between all the families. We’ve squished in family projects in lieu of big family gatherings. Some years we’ve taken off for a family getaway instead of sticking with tradition.

small hands making pie crustOne of the ways we’ve reclaimed our own family connections going into the holiday season  is to share a few hours together baking pies. Several  years ago I said yes to one of my boys who asked if we could cut into one of the pies  to have a taste.  pies for dinner

So, we began having “pie for dinner” on Thanksgiving Eve, letting go of the expectation of showing up to our family gig the next day with fully intact pies. We feel a little giddy with the power of “eating dessert first” and having pie as the only thing on the dinner menu.

As we were winding down our Pie for Dinner night this year, a candle was enthusiastically blown out which splattered wax all over our white tablecloth. Although a little chagrined, we tried not to let it overshadow the scrumptious fun we had just had together. We walked away from it, piecrust crumbs and all.

waxy tableclothThe next day after returning from a festive and full family dinner, I gathered up the tablecloth and stuck it in the freezer to deal with later. (I read about this handy trick somewhere, so I gave it a whirl.) Yesterday morning I attempted to get the wax to flake off.  No luck! I threw it in the washer with mild hopes that some laundering magic might make the wax disappear. Nope! It morphed into a smooth patch of muted blue splotches…and is on the verge of being downgraded to a craft tablecloth. Oh well!

As I’ve gone round and round with this silly thing, I’ve realized I can get worked up about it or come to peace with it and move on…because we know the next season’s messes will be upon us before we know it, right?

Christmas tree pine needles

Along with the jingly bells of the season, we hear the buzzing of pressure all around us.

Sometimes our calendars fill up rather than our hearts.

We can easily get pulled into holiday stress, feeling the fractures sneaking in. Or we can remain steadfast in seeking out the joys and peace of the season, one choice at a time.Bible Quilt™ - heart at peace

When we’re tugged to get our shopping done early or to be among the first wave of holiday cards arriving in busy mailboxes, we need to intentionally slow down to pull together rather than apart.

We know we need to choose relationship over finding just the “right” gift…one heart decision at a time.


“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart…” Luke 2:19


It’s okay to take a break to ponder…and perhaps reflect on the bigger picture.

People all around us are hurting. Families are facing loss. Friends are financially squeezed. We can all use a dose of PEACE rather than fall to pieces when we get overwhelmed with holiday stress or encounter another flavor of brokenness.

give thanks at #theturquoisetable
Giving Thanks at the Turquoise Table

We can strive to give thanks for the overflow of one season blurring into the next, preparing our hearts one day at a time.



PEACE, not pieces.