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!!
Last week while dropping my son off at camp, I was directed to park in my “place” amidst the caravan of cars parading in to deposit youngsters for the week. Unfortunately, my “place” was in 6+ inches of meddlesome mud. My son & I rallied to embrace this unexpected mire. We changed our shoes and soldiered onward. The mud slowed our pace as we took methodical steps to release the suction clinging to the bottom of our soles.
“Ssschhhhmucckkkk!” “Ssschhhhmucckk!” hissed each shoe, flinging droplets of mud up the back of our legs. As we plowed our way through the sloshy mud, we grinned at each other and aligned ourselves shoulder to shoulder as we arrived at the check-in corral. My son’s eyes sparkled as if to say, “I’ve got this.”
Ok, so there was a little grumbling involved on my part as I had to McGyver my way back to the car & magically transform my mud-encrusted feet back into drivable footwear, but I sensed we had made a memory…and something more.
In the minutes before exiting the dry refuge of the car, we rallied to problem-solve and put our heads together on how to get ourselves and his belongings to his cabin relatively dry (aka: not dropping anything into the mud along the way). These little moments are ways we teach boys how to remain calm, to access resources, and to think quickly about their next choice. It’s an opportunity to establish a confidence foothold…a tiny nudge to show this excited 11-year-old boy a glimpse into being a resourceful adult in a sticky situation.
Each time we are able to model confidence and grace in a stressful moment, we reflect those abilities back to our children so they can see themselves as confident and capable.
As Father’s day approaches, I’ve been thinking about experiences that have been fathering footholds for my boys.
We want our boys to mature into capable adults, faithful husbands, and loving fathers. This transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but in the minutia of daily life with an added layer of thoughtfulness woven in. If we don’t nudge, cajole, and shape these boys in social courtesy and “gentlemanly” prowess, how do they develop these skills so they’re finely honed and naturally expressed when these young men are adulting out there on their own?
I appreciate the “expectations” certain extracurricular groups set to reinforce these niceties. Learning to tolerate the discomfort of formal concert attire for orchestra performances or wearing business clothes all day for a key club convention is a good life lesson. Learning how to present themselves, make eye contact, and endure public speaking contributes to that young boy “trying on” the weight of adult responsibility in a supportive environment.
As parents we also have snippets of training time throughout our daily activities:
– mentioning a few pointers re: driving etiquette as our teens chauffeur us around on errands
– encouraging them to hold open doors or to return grocery carts for the elderly or frazzled mothers with toddlers
– sitting patiently in the passenger seat, awaiting one of the guys to open your door (and being gracious when it’s clear that you can do it yourself yet patiently allowing your young man to demonstrate this gesture of kindness)
Family vacations that broaden children’s perspectives and enhance an appreciation for things outside their “normal” have long-lasting impact.
I’m thankful for the encouragement and support that my boys have gotten along the way to offer them some fatherly footholds. Each of these positive contacts contributes to these young boys developing a foundation of manly self-confidence.
teachers that have gone beyond the classroom to challenge and mentor them in positive ways
a father that lets them lead, but is available with the backup map when needed
the grandfather that passed along his National Honor Society legacy pin to his grandson being inducted 60 years later
aunts that have repeatedly purchased popcorn and household gadgets through a variety of fundraisers
uncles that have teased and talked sports with the boys, making a big deal of the ones gradually outgrowing them
the kind elementary school principal that greeted each student by name at the door each day
a youth group pastor that meets them for donuts and reinforces their brotherly bonds
work crews that enthusiastically help on Eagle Scout projects
a Grandpa that drives long distances to join in Father’s Day activities and tease them about girls…and the whole nine yards
grandmas that have cheered for them on the sidelines of their chosen sports or clapped enthusiastically after a musical performance
Each time someone SHOWS UP and demonstrates interest in what a young boy is striving toward, that boy gains confidence about the young man he is becoming. It fuels his drive and motivates him along his path. It strengthens his armor, readying him in unseen ways for his future role of husband, worker, or father.
So, we wade through the mud with our children. We engage them in face-to-face conversation. We cultivate a love of our own alma mater, yet also release them to choose their own school that fits them best. We celebrate their wins and comfort them in their losses.
Each day in small, ordinary ways, we offer our boys little fatheringfootholds and entrust them to their ultimate Father figure, praying for guidance and growth.
As we celebrate the Dads around us this weekend, let us also be mindful of the young boys observing the fatherly traits all around them. Each interaction matters.
In honor of Father’s day, here’s to my grandfather who was a “gentle man and a gentleman.”
If you were to ask me what Ordinary Threads is all about, my heart longs to share with as many women as I can; as many women as my voice can reach in my small pond, but with the Lord’s ripple effect, to help them understand what an amazing gift God has given women when it comes to family and children. In this generation especially, with media pressing in and pressing hard on the minds and in the hearts of our youth.It is still within the home that the Lord is crying out to women to hang on, hold tight and layer your family with prayer and love and tradition.Don’t blindly let them be taken away in what the enemy would so easily love to inflict: a hook-up with the world and a non-connect in the home.
Ordinary Threadsand this blog is about sharing with women how to live each day with purposeful intention in every single thing that we do. From cooking and cleaning, to tucking in our children at night, loving our spouse well and all the while focusing on our Lord. When we write weekly, our hearts are pressed in to share with women how to take things like menu planning and errands and chores, and to layer them into the growth of our family instead of pushing the family aside as we plow on.Ordinary Threads is a step of Faith for us, and each time we take that daily step out of our comfort zone, the Lord shows up!He continues to flood our hearts with so many beautiful things to share with women, that its sometimes hard to even keep. But it is exciting and it is a process, and our Lord never rushes His design.
Right now we are taking this journey ofBible Quilting. We have been honored to share it with many of you already, and the fruit that is growing from seeds planted is tremendous! We give God all the glory for what He is doing with this plan.It has not been easy, and we have felt spiritual attack and residue that comes with it.At Ordinary Threads, our hearts want to impress on women to cling tight to the Lord when these storms arise.We are seeing more fruit then we could have imagined on our own rising out of hardships that we have weathered together.
As I am currently packing my house up and about to move my family into another house, my heart is reflective of the layers that are here. I feel tears start to come at different parts of the day as I walk through these rooms. It’s a flood of mixed emotions as I jostle the thoughts of excitement in setting up a new space and making it our own, and continuing the layers of our home.
The ordinary threads that we all are, when woven together under the Creator’s workmanship, produce a beautiful quilt that brings layers of warmth, security and assurance to where our children belong. God gives each woman the threads to weave this masterpiece with Him. It is called a Home, and there are many wonderful layers within it.
Our writing has always been intentional in showing families how to use the layers of life in a Christ-like way. Cooking, Laundry, Sports, Church, Homework…all the glorious and the yuck of a day interwoven.
When we began this blog, it was from a stirring in my heart to share the layers of life with other women. My sis-in-law came beside me, and we continue to walk it out weekly with the Lord.
Daily life can get swept up in weeks, months and years. I’ve heard many times the phrase, “looking forward to when they can do that!” in reference to children. When mine were all itty bitty, I remember wanting to work on my art but deciding it would have to wait till my kids were grown… and that’s when the Lord impressed upon my heart to, “paint in the mess”. If I waited, I would miss out on the growing process of my own Faith while watching the literal growth of my babies. He wanted me to have both. It’s hard to layer both in my life;its messier, but I’m reminded that this world is messy. If God was waiting for perfect, we would miss out on sunsets, and wildflowers mingled with the weeds.
In the mundane of each day that is necessary: cook, clean, school, appointments… at Ordinary Threads, we work with purpose to infuse layers between the ordinary. It’s with love, music, stories, milestone markers, generations, outreach, traditions…that we weave it all together. We are looking forward to sharing so much more life together with you.
So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10:35-36
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.
As we pushed through the last week of school and immediately catapulted into the first two scheduled summer activities, I found myself feeling a bit like a deflated party balloon. My outward self was still trying to celebrate my boys’ last day of school yet my inner self was no longer floating high with anticipation just wearily hovering low and fading into smallness.
Summer and all its sunny expectations of FUN was here, but I wasn’t feeling it. I kept waiting for the bright mantle of “summer” to fall upon me, but found myself struggling to muster up excitement for the usual burst of summer activities. “What’s the deal with me?” I wondered.
– – – I forgot to exhale. – – –
The fullness of the school year had pressed in hard from all sides, nudging us along from one end-of-the-year culminating event to the next and sweeping us through finals week. Although I hadn’t taken a single exam or given any oral presentations, I had buffered and nourished these souls that were putting their all into their last school days. The truth was that we were all tired as we approached the finish line of another academic year.
Even if we aren’t the main player on the field, the sidelines are a busy place of support and encouragement as we prepare our players to get out there to do their best. As parents we’ve put in hours of training, too, but may not recognize the toll it’s taken on us. We may not be aware of the moments we’ve been holding our breath as the next play unfolds before our eyes yet just beyond our grasp.
On the last day of school, I awoke each of my sons and celebrated the moment of transition into their next grade level. As I looked into each sleepy face, something slipped inside me. A gear subtly shifted inside this mother’s heart and I paused to absorb its impact.
While each of my boys is excited to move on to the next phase of school, this promotion also means a natural step closer to their independence. Celebrating their growth this year also means recognizing their progress toward stepping out on their own one day in the future, slipping away from our home and my dinner table. These were some heavy thoughts to bear in those first hazy moments of “the last day,” so I tucked them back in and moved toward a celebratory breakfast, focusing on their joy.
Later that day as I added another envelope to the growing stack of graduation announcements, engagement party/wedding reception invitations, and college brochures, I realized we’re all in the metamorphosis of May. These transformations elicit all the feelings and soak up all the energy. As we dive in to celebrate each milestone, we want to savor each moment.
We also need to remember in each one to breathe . . . to embrace this shift of change in our loved ones and loosen our hold just a bit. (It’s good practice for the next “biggie” after all.)
– – – We need to remember to exhale. – – –
It’s in this exhale, where we can discover the joy of letting go…
to blow out the candles
to blow a kiss to a sweetheart
to blow that dandelion fluff as far as it will fly
to blow a pinwheel just for the delight on a toddler’s face
to release tension that has been building within us
to watch our children soar
As we celebrate these changes and allow ourselves a moment to exhale, we’ll realize the sunshine is a little brighter and our hearts a little fuller.
We may even discover that we’re ready for the longer days of summer after all.
How does God transform the ordinary threads…those 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?
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.
As 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?
Through 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
A 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.
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
When presented with a new opportunity, we stand on the threshold of something new. We can cross over or stay where we are. Crossing over creates a sense of anticipation; remaining in place feels familiar and comfortable. A threshold seems like a place of limbo. We stand between two options, looking ahead to whatever is on the other side while retaining a sense of where we’ve just been.
A threshold gives us a chance to pause, to take a breath and consider our next action. We may linger here a bit, needing to observe the traffic flow and consider who is passing through. Are these footsteps here some that we can follow? Is this the time to pursue this particular path? How will this change of course affect our perspective? How could it impact our family?
Some thresholds are fairly easy to cross. There aren’t big differences in the landscape. The footing is similar from one side to another, inviting a gentle transition. We can ease our way through at a natural pace. Some thresholds are expected transitions and we are part of a group that is facing the same changes (passing from one grade to another or starting a new semester of classes). We feel comfort in the shared process.
Other opportunities may generate a keen sense of excitement – a new adventure, a risk. These thresholds are more intimidating. You naturally hesitate, feeling the need for more preparation to cross over. Sometimes rushing through may cause you to stumble. You may need a tug from someone ahead of you to steady you, or perhaps a gentle nudge from someone behind you to encourage you forward.
As a parent it’s extremely helpful to have a mentor a step or two ahead of you, encouraging you to step across the threshold into the next season of parenting. This can provide a sounding board for setting realistic curfews, handling emotional outbursts, or figuring out how to manage playdates when you may not feel a connection with the other parent even though your child is begging to spend time with a new friend.
So, we take a step or two into this new phase, consulting our mentor and getting our feet wet…
These last few days of December seem like a threshold to new beginnings and opportunities, offering us a chance to make some adjustments in different areas of our lives. As the New Year beckons us with a fresh start and many open doors, may you be able to discern which thresholds to step boldly across and may you have a steadfast companion to accompany you on your journey!
“Commit your way to the lord; trust in Him.” Psalm 37:5