The Grove – Ordinary {+Connection Groups Registration!}

My phone rang.

We were scurrying to get us all out the door for our trek across the city.

“I’m sorry to tell you the doctor is sick today, so we need to reschedule your son’s check up for next week.”

Oh.  Ok…  Our day had been centered around that appointment.  Suddenly time opened up.  Blue sky and spring’s warmth beckoned us outside.  So we piled into the family bike and made our way to a park.

Bike to park

Being one of the first warm Saturdays of the season, the Beijing park was, of course, bustling with crowds of people.  We weaved our way along the edge of the swarm gathered round a band strumming their ancient instruments.  Willows trees stood like gangly adolescents sprouting fuzz.

Across the moat a kaleidoscope of color caught our eye.    We followed the magnetic draw up and over the arched bridge.  Then we stood and watched the ribbon banners spin shapes in the air, whirling and twirling to the lively beat booming from a dollied speaker.  The space was alive with energy, these people whisking their art in the air.



The always generous and doting aunties of China extended their ribbons to my children.   In the spool of images that will form their childhood memories, I hope this is one they remember.  The wonder of this.


We continued on, finding rocks that become pirate ships.  Then we found a secluded spot, we spread the blanket, and I stretched and laid down.  And the kids took that as their cue to do the same … on top of me.


The peace in my heart was contagious to them.  We snuggled and sighed, all three of them astonishingly quiet.  A bird stayed perched, guarding over us.  The sky was veiled in the lace of bamboo leaves and spindly evergreen needles dotted with pine cones.

We passed sandwiches and crunched apples, nothing special.

I was positioned just so, facing the bamboo, eyes to the sky, I didn’t know until we got up to leave that six people had been sitting nearby intently observing our intimate family time.  I chuckled at this.

The outing ended with a screaming tantrum from the kid that didn’t want to go back home.  It was, after all, an ordinary day.  This time though I didn’t clench my jaw.  I breathed steady and calm.

What made the day special was the state of my heart.  I had slowed myself.  I tuned into the beauty.  I gave thanks, refusing to complain, only to praise.

Later that day, I went through the routine of evening dishes, plates clanking, water trickling. Instead of letting my mind go to the frets of the future, the list of to-do, the unfixed issues of our life, it went instead to this:

I have God’s more-than-enough, joy in one ordinary day.”

(Psalm 4:7 MSG)


Now it’s your turn.  Show us what you have on the prompt “Ordinary.”

(Psst!! Don’t miss the Connection Groups announcement below!)

Here’s how to share:

  • You can share with us in the comments, if you don’t have a blog of your own. We have the amazing ability to post images in our comments! So post images of your art and/or share your words there.
  • If you write a comment, please avoid copying and pasting from Word as this will publish a lot of junk computer code.  It’s best to type it directly into the comment box.
  • If you have a blog, write or make art based on the prompt and join the link-up!
  • Be sure to add the Velvet Ashes link ( to your blog post.
  • Please select the permalink from your post (so not your blog’s url, but your post url:
  • Click on the blue “Add your link” button below to add your blog post to this page.
  • It will walk you through selecting which image you want to show up in the linky.
  • Then your picture and link will show up below!
  • Then be sure to go visit each other’s sites and share some comment love! It’s the rule. We applaud brave hearts!

If you’re reading in email, be sure to click “Read in Browser” to go to the site to view the link ups and conversation in the comments.


And finally, ladies, we are a beyond excited to announce that Velvet Ashes Connection Groups are NOW open for registration for the Spring Session!

Connection Group Logo 1200x800

If you are interested in connecting with a small group of ladies serving overseas via weekly Skype conference call meetings for a six week session, then head here (or click on “Connection Groups” in the header menu) to learn more and sign up today!  Space is limited, and groups will close when full.

To thrive in the life you’ve been called to, you need to connect with other women who understand.  Now you can.


  1. Jennifer March 27, 2014


    Just who I am
    Just who God made me to be
    Just ready to be used

    A quiet word
    Just being with
    Speaking to the heart

    Behind the scenes
    Preparing the way
    For God to move

    Making the most
    Every opportunity
    Fully taken

    Open and Ready
    Prepared to be used
    Transformed by God




    1. morielle March 27, 2014

      I love this, Jennifer, your words show how things we may want to think of as ordinary are really extraordinary. Especially love “A quiet word” and “Behind the scenes”. YES YES!

    2. Danielle Wheeler March 28, 2014

      The glory of ordinary — that it can always be extraordinary.  Love how you showed this here!

  2. Laura March 27, 2014

    Danielle, thanks for sharing the beauty, joy and peace you found during an ordinary day.

    1. Danielle Wheeler March 28, 2014

      Thank YOU, Laura.  Writing the moments out is what mark them in me, makes them matter.  Heading over to read your post now!

  3. Shelly March 28, 2014

    Danielle, I appreciated the emphasis on being present to what was going on, the blessing of that day in the neighborhood park. (Love that park, by the way!) And also the reminder that our fretting, rooted in fear about the future or the outcome of something past and done, steals joy in the moment. And most moments really are ordinary. I have too many examples of missing blessings like your day with the kiddos at the park.  But I am grateful that I also have moments of being present and simply receiving the blessings He surrounds us with–every day.

    To be honest, I haven’t thought about the word this week, but I just read Amy’s blog that asks what my soap bubbles are this week (memorable ordinariness): conversations after class with students (not about language, but life), running into past students on campus and catching up, finishing necessary tasks (maybe not soap-bubble-ish, but satisfying nonetheless to have completed them).

    1. Danielle Wheeler March 28, 2014

      “Being present and simply receiving the blessings He surrounds us with-every day.”  Yes, that’s it exactly, Shelly.  And I’m right there with you soaking in the satisfaction of finishing necessary tasks.  I say we claim that as soap-bubble-ish!  🙂

      1. Amy Young March 28, 2014

        Me too! Soap bubbles are all around 🙂

  4. Sarah March 31, 2014


    Great perspective! And great word – I love ordinary days and I’ve always loved the Message version of Romans 12:1:

    Romans 12:1 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

    1. Danielle Wheeler March 31, 2014

      Yes, this verse!!  “Embrace” is my One Word for the year, so the words “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him” are echoing in my heart.  This embracing happens in the everyday ordinary, doesn’t it?  Thank you for sharing!

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