Tag Archives: seasons

Spring forward…

We’re on Spring Break this week and hope you’re enjoying a little SUNSHINE yourselves!

 

Enjoy a few links to some favorite posts to brighten this season of New Beginnings – – –

Side by Side – sneak in some side conversations with your kiddos in the midst of busy family activities

azaleas

Motivated to get outdoors and crank up your fitness level for the upcoming swimsuit season? Whether you’re on a walk or a run, tuning in to nature around you is an easy way to nurture your spirit.

Add in a friend for a bonus!

4 pair running shoes

Are you gearing up for Easter get-togethers? The mess of egg-dyeing is more fun in group solidarity! laughter

Need a quick family dinner? Try these Chicken Packets…could be a new family favorite!

on-the-go chicken packets

Embrace the new hope of spring, friends…

“The Joy of the Lord is your Strength” Nehemiah 8:10

 

 

Servant Warriors

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?

orchid

 

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.

 

Serve page in Bible Quilt® journal
SERVE page in Bible Quilt®
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.

holding hands

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.

 

scoutsAs 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.
hands reaching
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 all stronger when we are serving in some way.

Soldier bear

 


A special tribute goes out to all of our military families who demonstrate daily what it means to be Servant Warriors…thank you!


 

one little word, one day at a time

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?

choose prayerMy 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.

2017 page in Bible Quilt®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 pal from 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.

Rhythm page in Bible Quilt®
Rhythm page in my Bible Quilt® journal

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.Dictionary excerpt - rhythm

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.daily rhythms

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 the WORD 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.

2018 - blank journal

 

What #onelittleword has impacted you?

 

Which intentional word might you choose this year?

 

Layers Of Words

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.  

Write down your layers; just food for thought. 

 

Lessons in the Mess of Life

In this brief lull of the Holiday Hustle, I’m catching my breath after a delightful Christmas before we gear up for another round of family gatherings coming up this weekend.

My heart is full, my house has been well used,  and my sweet tooth has been revved up on high. (Is it better just to get all the delectable goodies eaten up so they aren’t taunting me???)Christmas cookies

Our family pace has slowed a bit yet our rhythms are a little wonky due to clumsy shifting from  sluggish relaxation to the next flurry of holiday activity.
I savor our togetherness however it occurs. 
family walk in the snow
Holidays are often an eclectic mix of excited anticipation and a pinch of disappointment when things don’t go as expected, aren’t they? 
Christmas trees sometimes fall over and treasured ornaments go flying…fallen Christmas tree
Beloved coffee cakes may overflow and drip all over the oven, creating a burnt stench wafting through the house instead of filling it with the usual sweet aroma….coffee cake overflow
In these moments, frustration rises quickly and it’s so easy to feel defeated in our attempts to cultivate holiday traditions.
Moving past the initial grumbling, we tackle the messes and clean up the spills. (We are still the adults after all, right?)
coffee cake delivery
Christmas coffee cakes ready for delivery…
Sometimes we have to go back to the very beginning and try again to get the end result we’re hoping to achieve. We often learn something deeper about ourselves in this unwinding process.
Messes and mishaps remind us to keep things in perspective. Others are struggling with deeper trials and faced with tougher challenges.
None of us can do it on our own. We are small in the grand scheme of things.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,

the First and the Last,

the Beginning and the End.”

Revelation 22:12


I’m grateful we have a God that provides GRACE in all of our vulnerable mess. He is with us in our humble beginnings. He is with us in the messy middle. He is with us in the aftermath.
It’s comforting to feel His presence always available to us.  We just have to push through our distractions to realize He is the First and is the Last in all of it. 
Alpha and Omega page in Bible Quilt®
Alpha and Omega page in my Bible Quilt®
As this year draws to a close and we’re scurrying around to tie up loose ends, hopefully we’re carrying with us a little more wisdom from what we have learned about ourselves this past year. 
May we lean into the New Year with deeper insight, brighter hope, and more realistic expectations. 

– – – Here’s to a strong finish and a fresh start, friends! snow on pine tree

 

 

Gingerbread all the Way!

baking gingerbread
Some years we’ve made Gingerbread aprons…this guy has now outgrown two!

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.

Jenks Gingerbread house
Jenks Trojan mascot, overlooking the fusion of campus life

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.

Di & Audra with 1st gingerbread house
The Lone Star House – 2001 Gingerbread

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.

the Flour KingMany 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.

gingerbread team

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. gingerbread in production

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.cousins

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.

candy-eating decorating
Eating candy is ALWAYS part of the process

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.hospital gingerbread

Batman gingerbreadAs 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.

Sugar Cube Castle
Sugar Cube Castle 2016

generational gingerbreadseniorsGrandparents 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.

Superhero City
Superhero City – 2015 Gingerbread

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.

Here’s to family and GINGERBREAD all the way!

Yay!