If your last few weeks have seemed like a whirlwind and the sound of Christmas music makes you feel a little edgy, you’re in good company. I’ve been trying to gather up my thoughts about the upcoming holidays and can’t quite get there. I really want to enjoy the Fall, to bask in the beautiful colors outside my window.
I want to marvel at the leaves piling up under the trees and remember how my boys relished rolling around in leaf piles until they had leaf dust ground into every inch of their clothing and they had begun to sneeze/wheeze with the overpowering earthiness of Fall.
– – – Gather in – – –
We’ve had a few brisk days and I’ve enjoyed gathering in, cozying up with my flannel-clad boys and enjoying the aroma of simmering cider in the trusty crockpot.
Slowly, we’re rummaging around in the depths of our closets to pull out our favorite layers and then second-guessing the weather to see if we’re on track for those surprising temperature flip-flops this season brings.
We gather in closer as we shift to more indoor activities, putting away the toys of summer and lean expectantly toward more family time lounging with favorite books and taking turns adoring the family dog who just can’t seem to get enough affection from her people.
– – – Gather round – – –
Our family goes through phases (depending on the sports of the season) of consistently making it to the dinner table together.
I love the nights when we can settle in and banter conversation about without the pressure of the eat-and-run.
Gathering around our table & exchanging tidbits about our days (often sprinkled with witty humor and gentle teasing) binds us together a little tighter.
Even if we scatter afterward to accomplish our various things, the hum of togetherness lingers a little longer because we’ve had that connection at the table.
– – – Gather deep – – –
I’m not a “social butterfly,” flitting about the crowd and seeking to make contact with a wide variety of people. (My heart races a bit just thinking about it. gulp!)
I tend to drift toward people with intention, preferring to sink a little deeper into conversation, wading into the grit of life as I talk with a friend or two at a time.
Since we’ve been hosting Bible Quilt™ sessions, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to gather deep with friends, new and old, sharing our walks of faith and pursuit of scripture for life.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I encourage you to SIMPLY GATHER with the people you love and cherish.
GATHER SIMPLY, minimizing the “fuss” and slowing down to enjoy this season before we’re jolted to the next.
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?
I used to be afraid to pray bold prayers. I thought that if I prayed bold prayers I would have persecution come my way. And then one day I read that it doesn’t matter how intense ,or not, your prayer time is, persecution will still come your way. And so that is how I came to be a prayer warrior.
Now the Armor of God is an invaluable gift to us, and I used to also think that I had to ask God for it each day or else I didn’t have that spiritual protection. It wasn’t until I was considerably older that I came to understand that the armor was a gift that is never taken back. The importance of praying for it daily is truly for us to remember in thanks that we wear it all the time, and can use it in times of need.
One of the things that our family does on the drive to school each day is to take turns and thank the Lord for His armor that He custom made for us. I started that prayer time to teach my children about the armor of God…but every day is a reminder to me as well, and it fortifies us in our day. We are all prayer warriors.
When we pray, it diffuses the enemies schemes. We then get the privilege of watching God move through our lives. I’m not fearfulanymore of prayer.
When War Room came out in the theaters, many people set up places in their homes to pray bold prayers. Whether they taped cards on their closet walls or wrote them in journals…bold prayers came out of that movie. The book, Fervent, by Priscilla Shirer also was written alongside War Room. She walks us through a simple way of writing out a bold prayer. At first, I wasn’t going to try the technique…but I’m so grateful that I went ahead and tried it. These are the prayers I cling to in peace and persecution. The prayers I have taken the time to write out, are the ones the Lord uses the most with me.
.Again, I never wrote out a prayer before I read this book. But by taking a few moments to construct a specific prayer over a topic, and then surrounding that prayer with thanksgiving, praise, repentance and scripture…whoa. Game changer for me.
So okay, it feels slightly vulnerable, but I’m going to share a few of my bold prayers because my heart feels a heaviness to do that. There is power in prayer; it does all our hearts good. My bold prayerright now, is that your heart is encouraged to either begin or carry on in a prayer time. I’ll never regret praying bold prayers.
A Prayer For Passion
Lord, Your loving-kindness never ceases. Your compassion never fails. Thank You, Jesus! Lord, please take my heart and renew it; make me a holy vessel for You. Lord, refresh my spirit, search my heart, show me how to be a prayer warrior for my loved ones. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (psalm 51:10) Amen.
A Prayer For Focus
Lord, You are far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else, (not only in this world but also in the world to come. Ephesians 1:21). I lose sight of where the attacks that come at me originate. I lose my cool, temper and self-control. Please keep me continually aware. Open my spiritual eyes; strengthen me with Your Armor, God, so that you can cut the enemy off from his plots and destruction. This battle is not mine, but Yours, God. Station me where I see Your salvation. I will not fear because You are with me.
A Prayer For Fears
Thank You, God, that You have not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind, (2 Timothy 1:7). Forgive me, Lord, when I start listening to the voice of fear and stray from Your destiny for me. Help me, please, to step boldly in my faith with You by my side. Make me fearless because You are fearless! Remind me of Your promises. Thank You for Your instruction and teaching in the way I should go.; Your counsel and Your eye always upon me, (Psalm 32:8).
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?
Aren’t summers with children in the home a “hurry up and get to relaxing!’ And then, “hurry up and get ready for the school year!”We try to cram as much fun and spontaneity into every steamy day of our break. We have sipped lemonade, lounged by a pool, admired our cute pedis and laughed with our kids…we have unplugged for the glorious summer.
But this week we have been recharged and it’s “Go Time!”All moms are prepping for the new school year. “Hustle and bustle” is again reinstated into the vocabulary; it cannot be denied. However, with a few tricks up our sleeve, it can still be fun!
Let’s talk Momstations!!
Sometimes we make it home before school pickup, and sometimes not. Usually we are traveling to the next destination of sports practice, music lesson, karate, Scouts, etc. Last year I grew weary of the frazzled feelings every afternoon evoked, so I applied a few thoughts to action and they worked!!
So here you go; sure hope they lighten your load as they have mine:
I have a thermos for everyone in my car that gets filled with ice at breakfast time. They are labeled with names and set in cup holders in our car. By afternoon pickup we have cold water for all; and no sticky drinks are sloshing in my car.
Along that line, There is a snack bag placed in an insulated bag each morning too. Inside are individual “mystery snacks” for all riders. (My kids just like the term “mystery”, and each day I put some sort of trail mix combo that varies each day so it feels different). This trick has saved me many Quik Trip runs!!
I love to encourage readers, so I stash magazines, comics, crosswords with pen attached, Mad Libs, joke books, maps, you name it…in all nooks and crannies of the car to be found. (Kids love to discover maps of their town to navigate).
There are always 2 decks of cards in the glove box, because many a time I have been waiting for one child and sitting with the other. Card games are a great filler of time, and more importantly, a fantastic way to engage in conversation and hear more of your child’s heart. (They are also used in a restaurant for the kids if the adults are trying to talk for a few minutes).
I keep a Bible Quilting Bag in the front seat with me all year-long. It is decked out with flair pens, washi tape, devotional material and my journal to quilt in...let me know if you’d like me to set one up for you too!! It’s my favorite “go-to” thing in the car! (the kids have one too; nothing blesses my heart more than taking a few moments to write a scripture alongside my child).
As we cross paths all over town throughout the school year, we can still engage in meaningful times and quiet respites if a little planning goes in to it. Hope this spurs you on to begin thinking of ways to set up your Momstations and enjoy the ride!
When you are young, everyday begins as an adventure. There is excitement raveled up with unknowns and interlaced with dependency on grown-ups. There are ecstatic highs and devastating lows almost every day in a young ones heart.
After the past two weeks, I think the same can be said for an adult too!
Our family is soaking up as much summer as we can, but have thrown in a Move, an Emergency Surgery and a most unexpected Lice Epidemic in a few short days that quickly turned to long and challenging “opportunities”.
On our Blog, we love to share all the fun, warm fuzzy layers that we do, but it dawned on me after the past week that it is important to share how we do the unexpected, uncomfortable layers also.
The Move and the Surgery were manageable for our family; the realization that 5 out of 6 in our household had lice however, tried to take us down. We had never dealt with itchy heads before so the moment of crisis was a fork in the road for us. We could model hysteria to our children, orwe could choose a calmer path. (Believe me when I say that I had inward panic happening, but with prayer and support was able to walk the prettier trail).
We chose to laugh instead of cry at the situation presented to us.
We educated ourselves on what was happening and then took a stand as a family to eradicate it.
We looked at it as an opportunity to grow stronger in family teamwork as we poured hours into vacuuming, cleaning, laundry and so much laundry.
After we quarantined the majority of the house, we banded together and called several evenings a “huge family campout” as we piled all the boys in our room with borrowed bedding.
We all know there are two sides to every story, but as adults, we are constantly given chances to figure out the better option. Lots of little eyes watch how we deduct and choose. We couldn’t do it on our own attempts every time; God’s mercy shows up for us when we ask Him. Thankfully He got us through the last week!!
There were honestly Highs and Lows running the gamut, but the perspective on our situation stayed focused. We hopefully taught our kids how to weather some set-backs without being swept under. And the silver lining was new Hairbrushes for All!!!
All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace. Isaiah 54:13