Archive for Traditions

Do Small Things

What would the world be like if we encouraged each other to do small things?

We’ve all heard “Do Great Things”….

But what if doing truly great things means doing exceptionally small things?

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In a Christian world that encourages the “radical,” I believe we’ve underestimated the “ordinary.” And in doing so, the ordinary has become the exception to the rule.

Moms everywhere,

{yes you, who just plopped down for a five minute break to catch your breath between diapers and dishes, whining and sippy cup searching}

what if you are the one truly changing the world?

Although you’ll never get a Grammy for singing the best lullaby,

Or have your name written up in Bon Appetit for your teddy bear pancakes,

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Or make the pages of National Geographic for your amazing discoveries,

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what if the daily “small” that you share with your loved ones is the most important of after all. 

If you’ve been on the receiving end of these small, tender mercies, you’ll know that these small things change us and form us into “civilized” and loving people. They teach us how to love. They communicate, “You belong and are worth the effort.”

These tiny acts, almost too small to mention, shape the person and

as that wholehearted person raises their wholehearted child,

generational influence begins.

Some examples of small kindnesses that I’ve received that are indelibly etched on my mind:

  • Entering my Noni’s Italian kitchen, greeted by the warm smells of garlic and chicken, and her rushing to offer me ginger ale and cookies or grapes.
  • My grandmother, taking me out for blueberry muffins and hot chocolate with whipped cream. Her cards, with her gorgeous handwriting sprawled on the front. Her little bowls of cookies and goldfish that she’d take down when we’d stop over.
  • As a child, my own mother’s influence was the greatest. She spent time with us. She lugged us all over creation, she entertained our friends and was a mother to anyone who entered our house. She was hospitable and then some. She served tea, she served meals. No one ever went hungry in our house. She made a difference to us kids and to all of our friends.
  • Peter’s mom always has time for people. Even when we were dating, she’d sit and talk. She’d offer tea and drinks. She made me feel included instead of “under inspection” as a daughter-in-law. She makes and serves Sunday dinner every week and has for as long as I’ve ever known her. To some this may sound like drudgery or menial work, but I can tell you as someone who has experienced her Italian cooking that it means the world and communicates love because she loves us and loves to cook for us.

So, when you feel like everything you do is small and unseen,

when you’re tempted to think,

it’s just a cup of tea,

it’s just clean sheets,

it’s just a friendly chat,

it’s just a meal, or clean laundry, or a little note, or teddy bear pancakes,

remember that your small deeds communicate. They shape another person. And especially in motherhood, we’re showing love to the littlest among us, the least of these. It’s teaching by example. It’s pouring your life into anyone God put into your path.

It’s like doing it for Him. And that totally matters.

Embrace the small things. In a world that is so fractured and independent and dysfunctional,  we could use more of the small and self-less and loving.

More Housekeeping {AHEM} and a challenge.

So yesterday I told you how I do not do it all. here  And I still got email!

So, I just want to explain. On the days when we do “crafts” for Christmas, that is pretty much all we do. Oh, we make our beds and do the basic subjects, but that is it. No laundry, no dusting, no cooking.  Something HAS to give. So, I’ll order pizza for supper or do sandwiches. Something easy. You simply cannot do everything!

[side note: DO THESE FUN THINGS WITH YOUR KIDS! This is the first year ever that Rebekah is not here to make Christmas Tags with us and I feel like crying! The laundry can be caught up, but your kids grow at lightning speeds! Do the fun things and make memories with your kids. You won’t ever regret it!]

And, this is NOT  false humility.  False humility is putting yourself down, in order to look “humble.” (weird!)  Humility is “not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Okay? This is real life.

Yesterday, my friend Nicole sent me some pics of the start of her son’s Thankfulness Tree:

Nicole and her sweet family!

Anthony showing off his hand.

So sweet. Anthony is thankful for his hand!

This one made me fill with tears! So sweet!

I was asked to write a guest post on thankfulness (it will be up on Friday) and I realized that I am not doing so hot in the thankfulness department. Oh, I think I am a thankful person, but when held up to the standard of God’s word and its command “in everything give thanks” and “giving thanks always for all things”– it hits me that I am still only thankful for the good and pleasant. I struggle with being thankful for the the bad and unwanted.  In everything and always–those are  100% of the time words. So, I have some work to do in this area. I am pinning up Romans 8:28 today, to remind myself that “We know that all things [even the horrible, unwanted, unasked for, unjust things] work together for good, for those who love God…”

God has a purpose in it all, and I need to receive it with gratitude.

How about you? Are you at 100%-er in this area? If so, share your thoughts in the comments! :)

Are you making a Thankfulness Tree? What other great ideas do you have for teaching your kids thankfulness? Feel free to share in the comments section.

Traditions Are Memories You Choose To Create

Spring Table Setting

Easter is just around the corner. Do you have any special family traditions?

If not, I would encourage you to start some!

When you choose a family tradition, you are making a memory through consistency and ritual.  It takes a little planning (and of course work on the part of the mother) but it is worth the effort.

There is something about saying, ‘We always do this,’ which helps keep the years together. Time is such an elusive thing that if we keep meaning to do something, but never do it, year would follow year with no special thoughtfulness being expressed in making gifts, surprises, charming table settings, and familiar food. Tradition is a good gift intended to guard the best gifts.

-Edith Schaeffer

In our home for Easter, I love finding pretty spring dresses and white shoes for my little girls, and scouring the Talbot’s Outlet for my teenage girls. (I loved, past tense, dressing my son in plaid shorts and a light blue vest but my husband informs me that he is too old for that now. Okay, he is 13.)

Early Easter morning, I make a huge breakfast with the same menu every year: biscuits and sausage gravy, strawberry crepes, fresh fruit, O.J, and coffee. I decorate the table with hyacinth and tulips. I use my antique china. I put a piece of Peter Rabbit chocolate on each plate along with a piece of jewelry for the girls and a doodad for Matthew. I am up at the crack of dawn and I think of my sisters in Christ who were THERE  at the tomb so early that first Easter morning!

We are big on traditions in our family. I don’t know if it is our deep New England roots or an aversion to change that makes us this way, but we love having a rhythm to life.

So why traditions? They give a child a sense of belonging, security and history.

  • Traditions connect your child to your individual family. My own children love knowing that  “WE do it this way and you are part of US.”  
  • Traditions connect your child to previous generations.  “This was great grandmothers china and she used it on Thanksgiving.” or “Grandmother always made homemade cranberry relish, so we will too.”
  • And if you have the luxury of having a godly heritage, your traditions can remind your children of God’s faithfulness to them and to past generations. “Grandpa always supported missionaries, and we will too.” “Opening our home to other Christians is what early Christians did and we are called to do the same.” “God took care of us through this situation and He will care for you, too.”

As we age, traditions brings back memories of time spent with loved ones now gone.

Each family should have some old traditions and some that are unique to just their immediate household. They can be elaborate or simple. But they must be intentional.

Some simple examples:

  • “Each year we plant pansies on the first day spring. Let’s go get some!”
  • “We stop for ice cream on the way home from church if the temperature hits 90 degrees.”
  • “The birthday child always goes out for breakfast with daddy while the other kids decorate the house with surprises.”

Grandparents have their traditions with their grandchildren, and husbands and wives have their own little traditions.

Think ahead to when you have an empty house someday and ask yourself “What are things I want my children to remember?” or “What do I want my grandchildren to value some day?” Then write them down, and slowly start implementing them into your life, being vocal about the fact that you are purposefully going this each year as a family.

You can impact generations for Christ by intentionally choosing your special family times and traditions. It takes forethought, planning and work, but the memories you’ll make and the impact you’ll have are WELL worth it.

You may enjoy this free pdf:  Treasuring God In Our Traditions available free here.