“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.
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.
Recently I uncovered a copy of the Sycamore,* a neighborhood newsletter (vol. 1, issue 1) dated June 10, 2011. This was the first of only two limited editions of this beloved paper because the young amateur publishers – ages 10, 8, & 5 – quickly moved on to other things that summer.
As I reviewed this childhood treasure, I was reminded of the importance of sharing our kids’ passions, whatever they may be. Each of my boys had a designated role in publishing this 2-page newsletter and took their responsibilities very seriously. Among their memory stash was a thank-you email, a handwritten note and, surprisingly, still tucked between a reporter’s interview notes was a fresh $1 bill “to help with expenses.” Our young boys were eager to try something new and this tired/busy momma was likely pretty motivated to keep them busy during those long summer days! The bonus was our neighbors embracing the boys’ ambitious efforts, and the unity feeling stronger around our little cul-de-sac.
Within that original newsletter was my son’s story about how our family became accidental “turtle farmers.” (We never could quite agree on what term we should use for ourselves, but this one stuck.)
Our turtles are awakening now from their winter slumber and sleepily searching out food scraps like voracious teenagers. With their shells encrusted with dirt and bits of crunchy leaves, their eyes blink slowly in the bright spring sun.
Every March when they come out of hibernation, I’m impressed that they’ve survived the winter in self-made shallow dugouts and equally amazed that our family is still “hosting” them 7 years later.
So… here’s our story about becoming accidental turtle farmers according to our 8-year-old son:
Our Turtles: A Quick History
Our family found Zippy, Zee, and Rocky on an empty gravel road surrounded by forest in Missouri. The turtles got their names from what they did while they were trying to get away.
Zippy was so named because he was zippy in getting off the road. Zee was named Zee because we found him on Highway Z. Running headfirst into a rock was how Rocky got his name.
On the way home, we went to Texas to visit our aunt. Now the turtles had been to Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri; where we found them. When we came back to Kansas, the turtles were living in a large tub, instead of a tackle box and two boxes. Also on the way back, our turtles were in the Bixby, Oklahoma Turtle races (they didn’t win).
We have had the turtles for about a year. After we had built a nice pen for the turtles, Zippy got away (and we never found him). We got another turtle with almost identical markings at the Harvey County State Fair Turtle Races. We named him Zippy Jr.
The turtles are still living in their area and not one of them have gotten out since, even after hibernation and a year in the same nice big pen (a turtles paradise!!!).
Ironically, we now live only a few miles from where our turtles competed in their first Turtle Race. Our turtles have had babies that have grown into sturdy “adolescent” turtles. A few years ago on St. Patrick’s Day we were fortunate to discover them during their hatching process, witnessing these delicate miniature turtles crack through their shells and emerge into the world. A lucky day, indeed!
When we moved to another state, the turtle contingent came with us. They got a new habitat and change of scenery out of the deal.
My hubby and I never had big dreams of growing up to be turtle farmers some day, but here we are. Our boys have observed the life cycle of one of God’s “lowly” creatures and have learned some responsibility along the way. We have enjoyed watching the process unfold.
As pets go, turtles are extremely quiet and low maintenance. We even get a caretaking break during the winter. 😊
Last year a wandering turtle actually crawled through our fence and joined our little turtle family, so I guess we’re officially kid-tested and turtle-approved!
These little turtles have interwoven themselves into the fabric of our family. They have been featured in our children’s artwork and have served as a great ice-breaker at backyard parties because of their novelty. Smiles appear as our visitors connect with their own memories of encountering turtles in unlikely places.
Turtle farming and boys…all in all a pretty good combination.
And to think this began simply by me stopping the car on a gravel road and letting one of the boys rescue a box turtle from getting run over. We had no idea how that one small gesture would blossom into a long-term family adventure.
UPDATE JUNE 2017: Check out this time-lapse video of Mama Turtle burying her eggs!
Following a child’s passion can lead to a wonderfully unexpected family storyline.
We celebrate many anniversary events in our lives. Often what is unspoken are our anniversaries of loss. We all have them, yet we typically don’t collectively mark the occasion. Sometimes the emotional attachments are so poignant and intense it seems too difficult. Yet if we share just a bit, even a funny story…perhaps our grief feels a little lighter and our loved one is tucked into our heart memory just a little more snugly.
Today we take a moment to remember our mother-in-law, Kitty. It’s been six years — a speck of time in the grand scheme of things yet so long in a family’s history.
Rather than dwell on all that she’s missed, we remember her spirit at family events. She was ALL IN. She loved the chaos of little boys running all over, digging in sandpiles and leaving their handprints all over her windows. She relished those grubby little bodies crawling into her lap and reading with her. She instilled a love of reading into all of her grandboys. I have fond memories of our firstborn backing up with an armload of books, landing topsy-turvy upon her and being caught with love. She’d exclaim, “Whew!” and they were off, diving into reading adventures together.
She loved well. We strive to pass on her legacy well.
We pray and hope that each of you are able to reflect and share special moments of your loved ones with those around you. Relive a funny story together. Look through old vacation albums or family reunion pictures. Remembrance is an honor and weaves a deeper texture to your family tapestry.
“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion” — remember that moment in Steel Magnolias? It’s such a great example of the tenacity of the human spirit.
When we come together, we are stronger.
(…and surely that increases the odds someone has Kleenex!)
“a time to weep and a time to laugh…” Ecclesiastes 3:4