We have all pitched in to help here and there, but we probably all know someone who is the ultimate helper in a given situation. Who comes to mind?
A coach? A teacher? A parent or sibling? A mentor? A friend who conquers all the PTA duties and classroom parties with remarkable ease?
Someone who is truly servant-minded sees a need and tackles the tasks to get the need met.
It’s a beautiful process to watch unfold.
She rises to the occasion, then fades into the background as the activity surrounding the event subsides.
Sometimes we’re faced with situations in which we are called to become more servant-oriented than what we feel comes naturally.
We have to draw upon our inner strength.
Mothers of young children often step into this role when illness strikes, putting their own agendas aside while they provide a gentle buffer around their child. They power through all the care-taking tasks and offer nursing care graciously until their little one is well again.
Spouses who have partners that are struggling with Alzheimers, cancer, or another chronic illness discover themselves transitioning into a phase of being a Servant Warrior.
They serve out of love, opening their hearts more deeply than ever before.
When I see the tenacity of spiritual mentors shepherding others year after year, I am grateful for the kingdom work being done so tirelessly.
When I see news reports of teachers shielding students from bullies and even armed threats, I am humbled. You put others first and leave a lasting impact on those you protected.
As my boys navigate through all the rigors of Boy Scout campouts and numerous merit badges, I appreciate the solid groundwork laid by faithful men in leadership who have served many young boys throughout the years…leaders showing future leaders how to serve others well.
“Serve wholeheartedly…” Ephesians 6:7
Wherever we are, the opportunity for serving others is there. We can pitch in to help…a little or a lot, depending on our particular season of life.
Even if the tasks seem small or mundane, the end result benefits our greater community.
We stand a little taller when we are shoulder to shoulder helping someone else. Our children are emboldened with empathy when they are involved in outreach to others.
We are allstronger when we are serving in some way.
A special tribute goes out to all of our military families who demonstrate daily what it means to be Servant Warriors…thank you!
Have you picked your “word” for the year yet? Or are you wondering what all the buzz is about to adopt a word for the year?
My social media feed is full of people sharing #onelittleword for 2018. For some reason this makes me a little squirmy. It’s like committing to walk 10 miles in brand new shoes that haven’t been worn and truly lived in yet. I need a little more time to make sure it fits.
I like to gel with my word for a while, often carrying it around with me during the busy months of November & December, test driving it a while. Then when January roars in and I’m still recovering from the holiday surge, I’m able to embrace my word more fully because it feels more like a friend than a forced acquaintance.
All that to say – I’ve got my word for 2018, but I’m savoring it a bit before I’m ready to share it.
I’m also still reminiscing a bit with my word palfrom 2017, gleaning some truths I learned about myself as I focused on it throughout this past year. I’m not quite ready to relinquish it’s friendly presence in my daily thoughts.
“How do you choose your word?” – – – “What do you do with it?”
I’ve only done a “word of the year” the past few years, playing around with this concept in different ways. I think each of us has to figure out what meaning a “word of the year” has for us… or else it feels a little hollow and something else we have to keep up with.
Words are powerful. We can use them in ways that hurt or help. We can inflict them upon others or nurture with them in encouraging tones. Choosing ONE from all the words is a little daunting, isn’t it?
This idea initially intrigued me as a means to be more intentional in a particular area of my life or to use it as an overall attitude focus. I found myself utilizing my #onelittleword throughout the year as a lense to tweak my perspective when I felt stressed or was going through unfamiliar transitions.
Last year my word was RHYTHM. I claimed it to seek out ways to develop a flexible flow to all the ongoing events in my life, but not something that would impose a structured routine that would go awry at the first kink thrown at me. I gave myself permission to consider the rhythms of different seasons in our family life, allowing some things to slide away when other things needed to be more of a focal point.
I started by taking a nerdy stroll through an actual dictionary and cutting out the definition to place on my journal page.
Then I sought out some synonyms to incorporate in the page title, focusing on the strength of this word’s multiple meanings. I began to think about the “strong, regular repeated PATTERNs” in my own life and this gave me direction for a variety of ways to savor the rhythms I’ve established in my home. Rather than see some of our daily chores as monotonous, through this rhythm perspective, I could see them as a way of maintaining a consistent tempo in our daily lives.
We all know that antsy feeling of things being out of balance in our lives, right? Most likely it’s when we’re out of our natural rhythms…maybe a drastic life event has shifted us or we’re at odds in a relationship. The more I sought out ways to nurture a healthy Rhythm in my own personal life, the more capable I was of identifying ways to restore a more steady cadence for the rest of my family.
When stress or time pressures quickened the family pace too fast, each of us felt a heightened pulse of being off-kilter. During these times I tried to hunker down in theWORD and regain my own equilibrium, often by awakening in the wee morning hours before the thrum of the household beat even started. As I Bible Quilted® verses on this theme of Rhythm, I was reminded that even Jesus got up early in the morning and went to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35). I clung to the promise of learning “unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28-30 Message version) to navigate turbulent times.
The New Year is a chance to begin anew. It provides fertile ground for change in some area of our lives. Resolutions may fall by the wayside, but to have a topic/theme to focus on for the year seems do-able. As I learned from my word pal, Rhythm, the more we’re able to establish a firm foundation, the more capable we are of navigating the ebb and flow of life a little more graciously. We have a tether to ground us. As we build upon our #onelittlewords year after year, our tethers become stronger. I’m beginning to see the connections of my words strengthen together over time, centering me to face the unknowns of the coming year.
How did it go with your trick-or-treaters? There’s something magical about those eager faces showing up at your door once a year and gazing expectantly at you for a little treat, isn’t it?
No matter what our age, receiving a “treat” makes us feel special and nudges out of our usual routine.
In a recent whirlwind of activities pushing me about in multiple directions, I’ve been trying to catch my breath to capture the “special” in these busy moments.
As adults, we typically refer to family milestones or significant events as “blessings” from the Lord because that sounds mature and “grown up.,” right?
I wonder if we’d recapture some of that childlike joy if we viewed these as “treats” instead?
I’ve been reflecting on some of the “treats” I’ve received recently in unexpected ways, unwrapping them slowly to savor them a little longer.
I have a new friend who just turned 9 and I was honored to help celebrate her birthday. In a room filled with pink balloons and fun Bible QuiltingTMsupplies scattered about, it was a treat to observe young girls engaging with each other in genuine excitement about crafting with scripture. Girlish squeals & endless chatter are not a norm for this Boymom! A peek into this little girl’s world was a delight.
What a joy it’s been to see the Lord unfold our Bible QuiltingTM business/ministry in unexpected ways. Having a front-seat view of mothers and daughters uniting over scripture has been a double-scoop treat for us! I’m grateful to be partnering in this journey with my sister-in-law. The Lord keeps revealing ways he’s knit our paths together for His purpose…a gift that keeps on giving, layer by colorful layer.
My youngest has upped his game on giving me tight hugs at unexpected times. I absorb these squeezes fondly because they keep me connected to him in a special way when pre-adolescent words flop around between us awkwardly sometimes. His playful spirit is a treat amidst all the adulting stuff I have to do.
I was treated to a glimpse of how other teens view my 15-year-old son as a leader and friend by them showing up to put in some hard labor for his Eagle Scout project. As I shoveled and raked beside his friends, I was able to see how they valued his quiet ways and gentle spirit.
I’m grateful for my tenacious husband who plotted over the plan and provided a constant reinforcement for all my son’s endeavors. After 2 Saturdays of our family putting in 12-hour work days, it was a well-deserved treat to see my son’s confident stance and satisfied smile as he overlooked this massive undertaking nearing completion.
And, oh my heart, as I saw my oldest through a photographer’s eyes as she snapped away during his Senior Picture photo shoot last week! All parents of seniors know that our kids are maturing in many ways right before our eyes as they plan their college launch next fall, but it untethers a mother’s heart a bit to see this milestone inch tangibly closer with each shutter click of that professional camera. Click. Click. Click.
What an unexpected treat to view my son from a bystander’s perch as he engaged in witty conversation with a stranger about his future endeavors, allowing snippets of his dreams to fall out loosely between each camera pose. These brief flashes of my soon-to-be-adult-son were quickly scooped up to be cherished with other childhood memories of our firstborn who has carved such a steady path forward.
“Every good and perfect gift is from Above.” James 1:17
As the leaves blush with color and begin to swirl around on our streets, I’m reminded of God’s artistry in nature…how He treats us to something fresh each season. I’m grateful for these interludes of graceful transitions so we’re not thrust immediately into the throes of winter. I love the layering we get to do in the Fall, hopefully nestling warmth and peace into our spirits as well.
🍁🍁🍁Welcome to November, friends! 🍁🍁🍁
Join us as we celebrate #30daysofgratitude in our Ordinary Threads Facebook group. We’ve got friends from across the country that will be sharing a Gratitude each day. Hop on with an encouraging comment (some have admitted they are a little nervous about this venture) or feel free to post about something YOU are grateful for in this season. A treat shared is always sweeter! 😍
(as proven by the stash of Twix & Almond Joys my son setsaside for me from his trick-or-treat stash!)
With the shift of seasons comes the inevitable wrestling with our fall wardrobes: what fits? what doesn’t? We cull out items that have lost their elastic or faded. We try to figure out if our favorite sweater is a “classic” or just plain old and out-of-date. Anybody else feel like they need to “phone a friend” just to get a more objective view of their clothing mess?
Cleaning out closets is not for the faint of heart. It requires firm decision-making and perseverance. Although we always feel better once we’ve conquered it, the process can be painful.
Each new season reminds us that we’ve changed. Sometimes our physical alteration is readily apparent while other times it’s subtle.
– – – From season to season, we shift. We settle. – – –
Many times we make it too hard. Our closets are filled with too many choices. We’re overwhelmed by all the micro-decisions we have to make about what goes together or we struggle to predict what’s the “right” dress code for a certain event.
What if we put just as much effort on our inner beauty, dressing from the INSIDE OUT?
We’ve probably all heard reference to the Proverbs 31 woman, an ideal multi-tasker and graciously competent in so many ways.“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
In the aftermath of my closet cleanout, I did a little more digging in the Word to pull out some inspiration for this Fall season:
“clothe yourself with humility.” I Peter 1:5
To me, this is simply keeping it real.
…being genuine in our daily interactions, ponytail and all.
“clothe yourself with strength” Isaiah 52:1
Whatever workouts we’re doing to keep ourselves in healthy physical shape spills over into our emotional and spiritual health, too. Just as we strengthen our core by doing certain ab exercises, we strengthen our inner core through prayer and scripture reading, getting stronger with more and more reps.
“clothe yourself with compassion” Colossians 3:12
I love this one because it is for ALL seasons and looks good on everyone!
Compassion pairs nicely with everything and is suitable for all occasions. It can become as comfy as your favorite pair of jeans.
“clothe yourself with splendor” Psalm 45:3
Ok, so I played around a bit in my wedding dress this summer when one of my bridesmaids was in town.
In honor of our 25th anniversary, I thought it was time to pull my wedding gown out of the box and see if it still fit.
The memories rolled out amidst all the satin and beading….whoosh!
Slipping into this 25-year-old dress made me feel specialeven though I was still in my closet with ordinary, low-key makeup and messy out-of-the-pool hair.
I wonder if this is how God views us – IN SPLENDOR– while we tend to focus on our faults? Imagine if we could feel that splendor bubbling up from within us each day as we leave the house?
This last one is my favorite:
“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus.” Romans 13:14
No accessories needed. Just Jesus…from the INSIDE OUT.
Be bold as you walk into your day, friends, showing the sweet confidence you have in Christ.
How often do we get annoyed waiting for a download? As technology has advanced, we’ve gotten spoiled and increasingly more impatient with the few seconds this transformation occurs, forgetting that this process used to take minutes. (Not to mention our personal history with “dial-up” connections…we need not remind ourselves how old this makes us sound!)
. . . ___. . . Buffering . . . ___ . . .
Yep, we even have a fancy term for waiting on technology: buffering – -waiting with purpose and a heightened expectation of data coming our way. We’re paused as we wait for data or images to load, so we can proceed with our next electronic interaction. The momentary lapse in electronic connection makes us feel restless.
Software programs have even designed creative ways to give us digital “holding“ cues…a flashing line promising that progress is about to happen or a bright green line racing around a circle offering the illusion of “almost there.”
Last week when I was feeling the pressure of navigating a tight schedule while trying to accommodate the various speeds on which my children operate, it occurred to me how often I act as a buffering agent to those around me.
Like the mysterious data preloading that occurs, our buffering efforts go largely unseen but are constantly at work.
As moms, we’re often filling in the gaps between one family member to the next. We are frequently redirecting children, softening sharp edges of voice tones and harsh facial expressions. We’re constantly monitoring the goings-on in our families, serving as a hub in which each family member dives in for a brief connection then returns to their homework or computer screen.
We help modulate the buzz of activity in our households, buffering between family and houseguests or redirecting young sibling traffic to a neutral zone when teens are hanging out in another.
Even our pets use us as buffers. During yesterday’s thunderstorm, my golden retriever would not leave my side as she panted and anxiously tucked her tail, looking at me imploringly to “STOP MOVING ALREADY!” so she could settle.
As women, we probably have more buffering systems in play than men, so it’s not unusual for me to hear stories about how a friend is intervening between her husband and their realtor; or navigating details between her husband and service workers (and hoping to get the details about the roof leak, the hot water gadget, or the pool pump control panel interpreted correctly).
. . . ___ . . . We buffer between extremes.
We lessen the impact of potential harsh consequences we see coming, but they may not.
. . . ___ . . . We referee between siblings.
We reframe feedback from challenging teachers and revved-up coaches in ways our children can absorb it more constructively.
All this buffering can take a toll on us, leaving us feeling battered and weary. Sometimes on a day when we’ve spent so much energy putting out other people’s fires and not gotten our own agenda accomplished, we’re left feeling unproductive with an empty tank.
This past Sunday when I was feeling off-kilter after a busy week of solo parenting, I managed to stop for a few moments and go offline.
Even though I’ve been trying to practice the art of Sabbath rest, the struggle to downshift is tricky. During waking hours my brain does not seem to have an “off” switch, so this striving to rest is a discipline I have to work at intentionally.
As I’ve recognized the draining pull of this nearly constant buffering, I’m beginning to appreciate the nuances more and realize the hidden impact my unseen efforts have on those around me. Slowly, I’m giving myself permission to “power down” so I can truly recharge and be more effective as a nurturing buffer rather than an automatic boomerang.
Like it or not, mommas, this buffering stuff is part of the gig. I’m grateful God wired us to multi-task and self-regulate so we can stay on track when needed. I’m also thankful for the grace He extends to us and through us, so we can upload a positive influence on our families.
Fall is our friendly buffer between the lingering mugginess of Summer and the harsh chill of Winter.
As we transition into muted days with a crispness in the air, may we slip away for some nature walks to rebuild our inner buffering system. We’ve got this, friends!
What is YOUR recharge going to be this season?
“We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” – Charles Swindoll