I love Layers. They enter in to everything in life. They are a stacking, a grouping, a pile of accumulated something… and yes, they can be messy more often than tidy; they can be bulky and not slimming or mainstreaming…they can take time to collect and then to sort.
Layers show up in cold seasons when our wardrobes mingle together till we get just the right cozy-factor we want. Layers pile up in warm-hunkerdown casseroles and soups as we crave the mixed aromas that bring fulfillment.
Layers are a gift in a friendship that has weathered through rough storms and is there to rejoice on the mountaintops with you. And Layers of memories can bring something sacred to the heart that nothing else understands. Layers are beautiful.
God designed Layers to be peeled back too. If the layers become muddied, we can lift them and discard them till we reach the pure purpose again.
There is a woman who I have known that now is with the Lord, but I grew up in her presence. She was a remarkable woman and a treasured friend to my mother. She was intelligent and gifted academically, but more than that, she was a light. She extended her friendship to my mother in layers of Bible Studies that led to a beautiful ripple effect all the way to my life. When she knew her time was coming to a close, my mom found her one day at the book store with a full cart of books. When asked what she was doing, she plainly explained that she was finding all the books that had greatly affected her and influenced how she had walked through her life, so that she could give them to her adult children. The books, the words, the layers that she collected in her life that she wanted her children to know. Since she was not going to be able to share the layers piece by piece, she felt urgency to pile them together and have them ready.
This was impacting to my mother, and in turn, to my heart as well. I would so love to have that list of books she was collecting.. I admire her greatly, and I am thankful for her. As I read and collect my own layers of words that become part of my story, I have started to make a list of my own. One day, I can hand it to my children. Whether they read all my layers or not is neither here nor there…the importance is in the journey shared. Layers can show a timeline through the seasons of a life. Everyone piles on their own unique layers, but we are all influenced by the accumulation of others.
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.
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.
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.
Many 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As 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.
Grandparents 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.
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.
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).
“Back in the day, when the Bison and Bear roamed freely on the natural landscape of Yellowstone, there was another animal that leapt through the reeds down by the lake… the Wild Weiner Dogs of Yellowstone frolicked with their long coats dancing in the wind…or so the story goes in the active imaginations of brothers having an adventure together.”
Our family set out on an adventure this summer. The Boys are 11, 10, 8 and 5, so we decided it was about time to give them a true taste of a road trip across country. We packed bags, pillows, books and games and then fueled it with coffee, chocolate and sunflower seeds to head out!
Our first 2 stops were with Friends that have become as Family to our lives. The Boys hunted license plates as we drove in to Colorado and then Oregon. Our 3rd stop was to see Family that we had told 6 years ago that we would visit…surprise, we made it!!Better late then never! And then on to Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore, (which are not even close to one another but our Boys had hearts set on both).
The car rides were long and the sleep was minimal. The views were spectacular and the conversations sweet. The bond of shared memories made was hands-down worth any effort involved.
We created art on a Oregon deck with Family after collecting huge pinecones on a nature walk.
We visited our Friends Church and walked a day in their footprint.
We played card games by the light of the Colorado sunset and our Friends fire pit.
We rallied a Family Kickball game in the fields that will be our Friends new school this year.
We picked Blackberries and Wild Flowers in unexplored fields and then enjoyed them at a dinner table with Friends.
We ate PBJ”s by a bubbling creek that we found under a beautiful bridge.
We taught our Boys how to be photographers and enjoy the view through a lens.
We showed our kids how to read a map and count the anticipated hours in the car for the next destination.
We celebrated special days with special people.
We shared more, hugged more, held hands and enjoyed one another’s company MORE in the closeness of a Road Trip.
As a girl, I rode many summers across country in my Grandparents Cadillac headed to Family Reunions. The memories are a treasure to my heart. And now another Layer has been added with the laughter of Brothers by a lake in Wyoming at the end of a day of Family hiking. The innocence of pure life and silliness enjoyed together. Enjoy A Road Trip with Loved Ones if you have the chance!
Give THANKS To The Lord And Proclaim His Greatness. Let The Whole World Know What He Has Done! Psalm 105:1
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.