Outside Carrot Top Studio: Time with Family & Life Lessons

Last week I ventured out of Carrot Top Studio to head East for time with family. Here's my mom (who I get my gift of color placement and love of fabrics from) and my daughter (who has a great artistic eye for photography) and that's my dear son making the photo bomb. His action is an example of the good fun we were able to have throughout the holiday. Life lesson: laughter is a gift.

Many of you have bought our peace and healing themed stoles that give back to the Alzheimer's Association in honor of my mother in law. We loaded the iPad with pictures from her past and enjoyed traveling down memory lane with her. She doesn't speak much anymore but it was interesting to see which images she'd react to by tapping on the screen with her hands. Life lesson: visual images can speak loudly.

Last Monday we spent time with my husband's Aunt Mary. She was the one that introduced my husband to the joy of trips into New York City for shopping, fine food, and a bit of Italian opera. In recent years we all loved eating strawberry ice cream with her as this particular food brought her little bits of joy. Aunt Mary was surprisingly called home as she slept that night. Life lesson: savor each moment and embrace those little bits of joy.

I write this on the 6th Day of Christmas. As Christians we can mark this day not just by thinking of the six geese a laying in the popular Christmas song but as the six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1). My take away from a very full last week, logging 30 hours of driving, spending time with friends in our former hometown, cherishing time with family in three additional cities, and celebrating the life of a loved one leads me to the last life lesson: "He upholds all things by the word of his power." Hebrews 1:3. I am so grateful for God's love and the witness I have had to it this past week! 

P.S....it is great to be back in the studio....doing some cleaning out and goal setting this week! We'll be back with new inventory and plenty of ideas for 2015! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram (carrottopstudio) for the latest news!

A Thanksgiving Tradition

Like many of you, later this week my family will gather around a table with friends and enjoy a meal together. We will give thanks for our many blessings-- small and large. Before we eat we will keep our tradition of sharing some of these things we are thankful for. We will honor the tradition in a way that dear friends taught us when we shared one Thanksgiving with them when we hardly even knew each other. At Carrot Top Studio we believe in combining symbols to enhance meaning. We believe the visual helps this message stay with us. Knowing that, if you read on you'll probably understand why we like this tradition.

First, the table is set for dinner and the meal is set out. Hot food items are covered with aluminum foil or lids to keep them warm (even thought that isn't visually appealing :)). An apple and a cutting knife is placed at the place setting of the person that will lead the time of thankfulness.

Secondly, the apple is recognized as a sign of God's creation. It is a reminder of how he provides for us. As the explanation is occurring the apple is being cut into exactly as many pieces as needed for one per person at the table.Everyone is reminded of the first thanksgiving in the United States where tradition tells us that people came together out of thankfulness to celebrate...like we are doing today. The apple slices are passed and everyone takes one. One apple for each person is a bit of thankfulness of everyone having their due and also a prayer of intercession for those that might not have enough this day.

Each person takes an apple slice as the plate is passed and  they speak of something they are thankful for. 

Lastly, after everyone has had a time to share, a closing blessing is said or sung. We lean toward the doxology but if there are a lot of little ones in attendance the "Johnny Appleseed" blessing works well. The leader then holds up their apple slice and declares, "let us eat this small token of the bounty we have been provided and be thankful." And the sharing of the meal commences.

Blessings for your Thanksgiving Day to our American clients. To our other clients worldwide we wish you moments of thanksgiving with those you love and/or blessings for harvest celebrations.

Worship Can Be Foreign

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I've always enjoyed worshiping in communities and churches that were not my home base. As you may know, my family (and studio)  moved from Pittsburgh to the Detroit area this summer. This has allowed a "season" of such visiting. There is much goodwill in Michigan and every single church we have worshiped in we have felt welcomed. Despite that through this process I've once again realized that sometimes you are a foreigner to the special rhythm, ritual, and even language of worship. We have experienced several things that have stood out in mind:

  • a parishioner patting my hand when I did something out of order in worship. It was the type of touch that reminded me that I was welcomed.
  • explanations as to how Communion elements would be served and why it was done that way.
  • description of the worship music printed in the bulletin prior to the order of worship....enlightening the reader to the history, meaning of the music and words and why they were relevant to this day.
  • lastly, yesterday prior to worship we experienced a verbal explanation of the music that would be included in worship. The anthem was later referred to in the sermon as to why it enhanced the meaning of the message. (BTW this is the song that was used and it was not only pleasing musically but the visual that it conjured up made it more powerful...."Stained Glass" by Joseph Martin and Heather Sorenson may be read about and heard here.).

Why do we write about this today? It makes me wonder how and when the visual messages of things like ministry stoles are included. Sometimes the message is very clear. But there are other instances when if you don't know the meaning of the symbol or for example why the sanctuary is decked in blue during Advent it's not going to help make an association to deepen our worshiping of the Lord.  I encourage you to incorporate the how and why of the visual cues of worship via the written or the spoken word. May the visual connection not be foreign!