If you are reading this blog post from anywhere outside of Texas, chances are you have no idea what I mean when I reference a “Homecoming Mum”. I, too, had no idea of this Texas sized tradition until moving to the Lone Star State over twenty years ago.

It wasn’t until just four years ago, however, when my first child entered High School and I was invited to a “Mum-making Party” that I truly got a crash course in this mysterious (and intimidating!) tradition. What was a Jersey girl to do? I could not even find words to describe the mums I had seen on display and in photographs much less conceive of CREATING one! I had no frame of reference…so I chickened out and ordered one through the school!

At the urging of a friend, however, I decided to attend the party anyway. As I sat wide-eyed, moms around me unpacked spools and spools of ribbons, handfuls of trinkets and endless lengths of feathers. I was a stranger in a strange land. The other moms took pity on me and tried to explain but I had zero frame of reference from which to process what was happening in front of me. Glue guns were flying, and cowbells were ringing but it was all mum-sense to me!

I was about ready to pack it in and give up when a dear and wise friend took pity on me, wrapped her arm around my should and encouraged, “You can do this, Angie! It’s just like 3D scrap booking.” Then she gently started picking up odds and ends from others leftovers and showed me how it was done. She carefully demonstrated how each ribbon, trinket and sticker represented the recipient and celebrated a milestone. I watched as she weaved together a beautiful keepsake with meaning and love behind it.

Now THAT I could understand! I’ve been scrap booking since my first baby was born. I love the process of commemorating the stuff of life and creating a physical piece that my kids will look back on for years to come. Suddenly, this crazy mum thing made a lot more sense to me! I was creating a one-of- a-kind piece to commemorate a milestone and celebrate a year in the life of my kid. Yes! I get it! Hand me another glue stick, people….lets do this!

Four years later, I still roll my eyes and whine all the way to Michael’s every September when mum season rolls around, but since my friend’s little pep, I have grown to secretly enjoy creating unique pieces for my kids and their friends to enjoy each Homecoming season.

What made the difference? My friend put the process into a language that I could understand, in the context of something I valued, and then demonstrated to me how it was done.

That got me thinking about the language and methods I use for sharing my faith with those God has placed in my path. While I long to follow Jesus daily and share the good news with everyone in my life, if I do not take the time to get to know people, listening to their stories and learning their heart language, then it’s likely that my methods will be as productive as a Jersey girl with a glue gun in a mum shop.

If, however, I seek to listen before I speak, to understand before I seek to be understood, and to demonstrate before I expect to see transformation, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will step in to create something beautiful and unique.

How about you? Who are you building relationship with? How is the Holy Spirit using those conversations and creating language that communicates His grace? I’d love to hear your stories!

Angie Nitz