Our family almost always has a project going on. Please tell me we’re not the only ones?
Currently, we’re in the midst of a storage room expansion. We’ve all adjusted to the perpetual whining of saws, staccato of hammering, and swooshing of sanders. Even our dog has adapted to the workers and extra activity, preferring to hide out in their space filled with the familiar drone of power tools rather than the unpredictable rumble of thunder last week.
Starting a construction project is exciting. Expectations and hopes are high.
Finishing a project is thrilling. Moving into a new space is fun!
Let’s be real, though. The bulk of any project is the Middle.
It’s where all the gritty work and dedication to the task happen. It’s the messiest part and often goes on longer than planned. Sometimes we face challenges in the Middle that we weren’t expecting. Footprints suddenly appear on countertops and construction nails are discovered in a car tire …or two!
For any construction project, we prepare for the noise and surge of activity. Big movements mean change is coming. We brace ourselves and dive in to the adventure.
Somehow we forget about the quieter aspects of construction upheaval. (Is there such a thing as Home Improvement Amnesia??) We forget about that sneaky sheetrock dust and its magical pervasiveness — even if doors have been closed and precautions have been taken. It seeps in EVERYWHERE, mysteriously settling in place overnight, greeting us each morning like a dusting of frost.
I keep reminding myself that we’re almost there. Sanding signifies the painting phase is coming soon, which means the final stages are around the corner. We just need to persevere a little longer.
When we’re at the starting line of a race or a project, we’re hyped up with anticipation and energy to begin. It’s a very tangible place. Our senses are all perked up in awareness of the task ahead.
Somewhere in the middle, though, things tend to get a little blurry and uncertain. We don’t have the finish line in sight yet, and we have to face the realities of this murky Middle part.
Our initial energy has waned yet we have to persevere through the barriers of change.
Perseveranceis an important life skill often learned through struggle and the shedding of a few tears.
Ironically, my Community Bible Study group is reading through the book of Acts and we’ve just gotten to the passage about Paul striving to finish his Course well.
“If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” Acts 20:24
Paul’s story is filled with tenacious boldness despite all the opposition he faces, yet also demonstrates his gifts of encouragement and gracethroughout his trials.
These are all wonderful attributes to adopt in the Middle of a long-term project or a particular life struggle. We are all under construction in some way or another, muddling through the messy Middle.
Some of our struggles might be obvious and expected, but others will be quietly devastating in their unexpected ripple effects.
May we each be able to lean on one another with grace and encouragement during our earnest efforts to maintain our course. Much growth can occur in that Messy Middle, depending on how we adapt and respond.
Whatever rebuilding process you may be in, here’s to finishing well, friends!
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!
Sometimes our days unfold in unexpected ways and we wander aimlessly around, trying to get our bearings.
Today my youngest stayed home with the crud. Again. Those pesky symptoms have lingered long and we’re both tired of this nagging crud that we’re both battling. We’re both off-kilter and perhaps a little cranky.
Like a determined cold front moving in, this ominous cloud of sickness hovered over us and threatened to dampen our spirits. When my “mommy mind” finally acquiesed to the imposing reality, we succumbed to a slower pace for the day.
The grocery list sat on the counter.
Emails built up on my laptop.
Texts chimed on my phone.
We tuned out and continued with our mindless meanderings. One of us embraced the day with his robe gallantly flowing behind him and sporting his bedhead with pride. One of us got restless, seeking to uncover a little productivity amidst all the nurturing efforts. It was so hard to surrender to the imposed slowdown.
My son won the “Lounging Around” award with ease. He did it with gusto (well, after the meds kicked in) and fully hunkered down into a day of recovery rest. It was a reprieve from his usual expectations. He seemed to enjoy plopping down on the couch with minimal purpose, absorbing some quiet activities despite the constant companion of a kleenex box.
By the end of the afternoon, his eyes showed more sparkle and his body posture transformed gradually from a drowsy sloth to a muted version of his typical spunky self. He was steadily regaining his energy level.
As he rebooted, I cratered. The lack of sleep from the night before (peppered by his coughs, snorts and some unmentionable things) finally downshifted me into neutral. Since he had improved, I was able to give myself permission to go offline. (This built-in Mom radar is a tricky one to power down.)
Taking notes from my son’s approach, I gave in to reading a novel I received at Christmas. Somewhere along the way I dozed off and later was awakened by my other boys returning home from school. Since I’m not a natural nap-taker, this caught them both by surprise…and was an acute reminder that they often don’t see me actually Rest.
We rallied through a simple dinner and I pushed through the evening’s activities – – which also unfolded in unexpected ways. (Adulting is hard and apparently nonstop…especially if your husband is away doing army work and you can’t tag team out.)
Therein lies the crux of parenting. We ebb and flow with our kids’ needs, sometimes with cheerful encouragement and other times with begrudging grunts as we’re pulled away from our own agendas.
These overcast days that are mired with grumpy challenges can provide grist for the mill.
Getting nudged off of our usual path can help provide a broader perspective.
Sometimes it takes a “shutdown” of a typical day to remind us about all the ways that we can shine a little brighter the next time a front of disappointment or illness rolls in.
It’s okay to give in to the perks of a sick day — to take a respite from daily chores, to allow some nonessential responsibilities to slide, to nestle in beside your tousled child and indulge in some personal reading.
Wallow a bit together.
Take a nap.
Savor the restorative power of grilled cheese …
When the clouds break and the sickness fades away, that sunshine will seem all the brighter and your own light will shine a little stronger because you’ve weathered the darkness together.
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.
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!)