Monday, November 30, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 30

      I made it! When I imagined what I would be feeling by the end of this challenge, I didn't picture it being quite such a difficult month. Even now, my maternal grandmother is still in the hospital, and my niece has been re-admitted for the second time. The sad part is, that all those difficult things made me realize something: personally, I don't struggle as much with praising God in the difficult things that are major. Rather, I had the hardest days being grateful when the ordinary problems of life, the little frustrations and minor inconveniences, seemed to pile up. Today was one of those days, but I can still be thankful.

Today I am thankful:

1.For a doctor's appointment tomorrow. I started experiencing some pretty intense pain in my shoulder, and I am thankful that a medical professional is going to be able to check it out soon.

2. For successful ideas. I am so glad when something works out the way I pictured it.

3. For clean sheets. Going to bed is always lovely, but the pleasure is doubled when the linens are fresh.

4. For books that make me cry-in a good way. The kids and I just finished the "Chronicles of Narnia" series. The end makes me cry. every. time. And I love it!

5. For thoughts of heaven. I want to meet the Lord on His time, but I am so looking forward to going "home" when that day comes.

6. For a husband who grills. And does it well! Steak is always good, no matter that it was only 20 degrees out.

7. For kids who love asparagus. I hated it as a child, so I am glad they love it!

8. For muffins. I actually really love a muffin-but not for breakfast! I like them as a snack, especially if they have chocolate chips in them.

9. For modern medicines. I can't imagine living in a time when you couldn't take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to cure most of what ails you.

10. That each day is a new start. I may not have done all I wanted today, but tomorrow is another opportunity to glorify the Lord.

11. For cloth napkins. I don't use them because I'm "fancy", or snobby, or particularly "green". I just like the way they feel! I much prefer them over paper.

12. For my vacuum cleaner. Especially when I decide to dump an *entire* bag of chocolate chips all over my carpeted kitchen.

13. For different Bible translations and versions. I am currently reading Matthew in the "Message". I know many people feel that borders on blasphemy, but it is really giving me good insights.

14. That the rent is paid. We get to stay here for December, yay! ;)

15. That my mother made me learn how to type. It comes in pretty handy.

16. That Joel made most of dinner. It was great to have a night "off" that didn't involve eating out.

17. That I found something I was looking for. And the price was right! Bonus.

18. Challenging things. And I don't just mean this thankful one. I sometimes feel that I am stuck, or stunted, and I am glad the Lord allows things to come into my life to stretch and grow me, even if it makes me uncomfortable at the time, that later show me that He really has given me the ability to do more than I could have guessed.

19. That I live in a place of such prosperity that I get to *choose* to limit my things. That choice is not made for me by the state of my finances, or lack of accessibility.

20. That God's will is not hidden from me. He is just waiting for me to ask.

21. For bobby pins. Many a bun brought to you courtesy of them.

22. For the bulk bins at Winco. They are full of fun things! I found gummies to match my Christmas decor.

23. For all the seasons. I love all of them.

24. That it is the season for making candy. I *love* to make candy!

25. That Christmas makes me cry. Jesus is the reason for the season-and the tears.

26. That I get to set up our Christmas tree. Even if it is only a "fake" one.

27. For poetry. And the thoughts and beauty it can inspire.

28. For God's awesomeness. I really can't find the words to say much more about that.

29. That I have listed 465 things to be thankful for this month! (Including the next one.)

30. That even though this challenge is over, there is an endless supply of things to be thankful for, all possible because of Christ.

  I'm D-O-N-E with this challenge, and I feel pretty darn proud of myself! Did you make it?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 29

   Lest you should think that I had forgotten about the fourth member of my little family, I did not. Jocelyn got a list on her birthday, and I did one for Joel a couple of days ago, so I will have my Carson "thankful things" today. It isn't fair for him to get the whole 29 things, though, since I didn't even do that many for Joel, so I will mix it up a little.

Today I am thankful:

1. That Carson has the gift of hospitality. I certainly don't! But he loves to entertain and frequently invites people over.

2. That he is so loyal. If you are his friend, you are friends for life.

3. That he is so meticulous. I love his little detail-oriented personality.

4. That he has such a good memory. He keeps me on track all the time! He remembers names, appointments, my cell phone...I call him my "little brain".

5. That he loves to make me coffee. He makes me a cup pretty much every Sunday morning, and Thursdays during co-op quarters. It is so adorable-he calls it "new and improved Carson coffee" every time.

6. That he loves to help. The way to his heart is to ask him to help you with something. It makes him feel special (and comes in awfully handy!).

7. That he *likes* to do chores. Clean the bathroom, especially and vacuum.

8. That he is my cuddle bug. His love language is touch, and it took me a while to realize it (I don't even register on the chart for that one, its so far down on my personal list), but now I like that he curls up on the sofa next to me. He loves to have his hair petted, too!

9. That he is so persnickety about his appearance. Sometimes this makes me a teeny bit un-thankful (like when his favorite jeans are in the wash) but usually I appreciate that he gives thought to how he looks.

10. For his imagination. It may sometimes seem that his sister has cornered the market on creativity, but he has his fair share. I love the names he comes up with for his stuffed animals, and he is constantly coming up with nicknames for everyone (Including me-what he calls me changes on a daily basis!).

11. That he is so smart. Teaching him is usually a pleasure because he catches on so quickly and he doesn't mind seat work.

12. His ability to make friends. He has so many friends-at the complex, at church, at co-op. He has friends I don't even know about, I'm sure.

13. That he loves being outside. Sun, rain or snow, he is willing to be outside. I am glad I don't have to force him to go!

14. That he loves cooking. He recently learned to scramble eggs and wants to make them. all.the.time. He is dying to help me make Christmas candy!

15. That he loves reading the Bible. He is working really hard to read the "real" versions completely by himself.

16. His energy. He is constantly on the move-unless he is dead asleep.

17. That he loves our family. He really likes for the four of us to be together.

18. That he looks up to his dad. He couldn't have a better role model.

19. For his love for little people. He adores babies, and he is actually pretty good with them!

20. That he appreciates little things. He loves to hang out at the house and watch a movie, or get coffee. He is my little coffee buddy, obviously!

21. That he has his own personality. He likes to please people, but he still has his own opinions.

22. That he is thoughtful. He really considers other people's feelings.

23. That he loves giving gifts. He always wants to buy things for others that he thinks they would like.

24. That he is so loving and isn't afraid to show it. He will make a great husband and father some day!

Switching tracks...

25. For the great sermon today. I love it when I feel like it applies directly to my life.

26. For people who are praying for me. It is vital to my spiritual walk and means the world to me.

27. For good Sunday School curriculum. I love the Gospel Project we are using, I am learning so much.

28. For the Southern Baptist denomination. I am so proud to be SBC. I know we won't be the only ones in heaven, and lots of other churches teach the truth. But I love our missional focus, and adherence to the unadulterated Word of God.

29. For the people who work so hard to make our church work. And I am glad that sometimes I get to be one of them!

   How was your Sunday? Lots to be thankful for?

G.I.G.-Day 28

  These last few days are where the rubber meets the road. It is easy to think of thankful things in the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, everyone is talking about it and promoting the idea of gratitude. However, now we are in "Christmas" full swing (not that I mind) but it is really testing my mettle to continue with this challenge. However, as I told my husband just today, I did *not* want it to be easy! The whole meaning of challenge is a test, something that requires above average output. My lists may become increasingly more random, but that's okay, it doesn't mean I am any less thankful.

Today I am thankful for:

1. Table top games. I was introduced to this term recently, we always called them "board games" or just "games" growing up, but whatever the term, I really like them!

2. Pizza. We had it two nights in a row and I am *still* thankful for it. It is truly one of my favorite foods.

3. Vocabulary. I am thankful that there are a variety of words to use to express myself, and I love learning new ones!

4. Spell check. It doesn't render all writings mistake-free, but it certainly does help.

5. Toothbrushes. On my behalf, and that of others.

6. Kelly taking our Christmas card photos. She did a really great job, especially considering she doesn't have too much practice with rambunctious, non-cooperative families. ;)

7. Button-front shirts. Instantly ups the class of any outfit.

8. That my jaw quit hurting. I was struggling with clenching my teeth (due to stress) and I think it has finally resolved.

9. Snow. I don't love the cold, but snow is so beautiful and festive, so I will think of its positive attributes.

10. Bible websites. They make learning about the Word so much easier, and I think it is just wonderful that there are so many free ones.

11. Mugs. Because it makes it so much easier to enjoy coffee. And hot chocolate.

12. Gloves. Especially the kind that have the touch-compatible fingers. This time of year I keep a pair in every coat!

13. Cheesecake. I love cheesecake. It is the perfect dessert to me!

14. Computers. They often frustrate me, but I couldn't imagine life without them.

15. Chapstick. My lips need it badly this time of year.

16. Lotion. Ditto the above, for my skin.

17. Alphabetization. Follow me on this one: it makes organizing so many things simpler, and it is just darn neat!

18. Friends who are doing this challenge with me. It is keeping me accountable, and is so encouraging!

19. Commenters on my blog and Facebook page. I am not "fishing" here, but it really is wonderful when someone takes a minute to leave a little message for me. It really brightens my day.

20. That I already bought the stamps for my Christmas cards. I love marking little things like that off my to-do list.

21. Curling irons. Otherwise, my hair would be hopelessly straight.

22. Colors. I know this is very abstract, but I am thankful for a creative God who loves variety and color.

23. My lime green sofa pillows. They make me happy. And they are so plump!

24. Christmas parties. I have a few on the calendar in the next weeks and I am looking forward to each of them.

25. My Christmas CDs. I am looking forward to getting them out. I have a carefully selected collection and I love every one.

26. Trays. I use them for lots of things: carrying food, organizing things, on my end tables instead of coasters. I really like them.

27. Candles. They smell good, and the flames are really enchanting.

28. That there are some things I will never have to do again. Like have my wisdom teeth removed. I am glad you only have to do that once, and I already have!

    Are you done being thankful this month? Or are you pleasantly surprised to still find things to list?

Friday, November 27, 2015

G.I.G-Day 27

     I cannot lie: one of the things I was most excited about when we decided to move here was knowing that we would *finally* have some family nearby to babysit! We had sweet friends who would take our kids when we lived in Colorado, but we tried to save those favors for special occasions. Now, we have much more frequent "dates", for things like random Tuesdays! It is really nice.

   Really, I get excited any time that I can just hang out with Joel. He is truly my favorite person, and that is saying a lot since we have been together 14 years. Anyway, I figured if I could devote an entire day to things I am thankful for about Josie, then Joel definitely deserved his own day.

Today I am thankful that Joel:

1. Makes me laugh. He always has, and I love that often he goes out of his way to elicit a smile or laugh from me.

2. Is such a good dad. He has always taken the lead role in parenting. I am so thankful for that, because surprisingly, I am a pushover when it comes to discipline.

3. That he continues to seek to grow spiritually. It is really inspiring.

4. Is so handsome. I know, shallow, but I am thankful God let me have a good-looking one. ;)

5. Works so hard. No matter what he does, he is not afraid of hard work.

6. Is not a complainer. He really isn't, and he has taught me a lot about contentment.

7. Is not afraid to lead. He doesn't demand to be in charge, but when he is placed in those positions he is confident and worthy of respect.

8. Has a heart for service. He doesn't mind getting his hands dirty, and he doesn't demand recognition for it, either.

9. Is willing to work on bettering our marriage. He has matured so much in our relationship-often he humbles me with his response to contention or disagreement. He sets a godly example.

10. Is easy to please. Simple things, like breakfast in bed and clean socks, make him happy. If I cook his favorite meal it makes him ecstatic!

11. Is so handy. He can fix so many things, and has good practical solutions for most problems around the house.

12. Prays with us. It is so important to me, and I am glad it is important to him, too.

13. Is humble. He doesn't seek accolades or acclaim, he is just satisfied with a job well done.

14. Appreciates the beauty of nature. I have, in recent years, discovered a deep love for the glory of creation (because it so perfectly reflects our Creator) and I am glad Joel shares that with me.

15. Doesn't baby me. I am glad that he wants the best for me, and in that regard he works with me, instead of doing everything for me. It has helped me to grow as a person.

16. Encourages me to try new things. I am a 'fraidy cat when it comes to the unknown, but I am learning that it can be exciting.

17. Isn't an anxious person. I need that to counter-balance my own neuroticisms.

18. Likes hanging out with me. Quality time is my love language, so I am glad for this!

19. Is a good sport. About crazy photo shoots, blog obsessions, crafting messes, party planning...should I go on?

20. Puts our family first. He is willing to sacrifice to be with us, and I appreciate that.

21. Helps around the house. He doesn't do dishes, but he is willing to do a lot of other chores.

22. Is kind. He may seem gruff, but he is really has a tender heart where it counts.

23. Is patient. I know, I have tested it often. :)

24. Is responsible. With bills, with possessions, with our family. He can be trusted, and I am so thankful for that.

25. Holds me accountable. He doesn't let me rampage without reminding me that often I had a hand in the craziness. I need that.

26. Really loves me. He doesn't give perfection, but he doesn't demand it, either. He would give his life for me, and I know that he works to show me in many ways each day.

27. Loves Jesus. He does, and while he may not always shout it from the rooftops, he lives it in his life.

     I love that listing many things each day has given me the opportunity to express gratitude for more than just surface things. What is something, or someone, that you are thankful about many things, not just one?


Thursday, November 26, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 26

   So, today is the pinnacle of all "thankfulness", The most begrudging ingrate can usually produce one or two things to be thankful for on this day. However, I do not feel the least compunction about listing all the "usual" things today, as I have been stunningly creative all month, right?  I won't be done after today, anyway, as November still has four days left, so I reserved the right to not have to rack my brain for random things today, as I will most likely have to do it tomorrow.

   But seriously, these are the things that I am thankful for every day, I just don't always say it. I probably should, because the act of speaking things you are grateful for only further heightens your gratitude. But today, on the holiday that more than any other is dedicated to recalling blessings and recognizing the graciousness of the Lord in our lives.

So today I am thankful for:

1. Jesus. He is the only thing that makes thankfulness a possibility.

2. His free gift of salvation.  The only reason for living.

3. My mom. Especially glad she made dinner today, but always thankful for her love and wisdom.

4. My dad. He instilled a good work ethic in me by modeling it himself. He has always loved us and wanted the Lord's best in our lives.

5. My sister, Robyn. Maybe someday I will be awesome like you, but for right now let us just remember that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

6. My brother, Clark. Your endless perseverance always inspires me.

7. My sister, Katy. You aren't afraid to be your own person and that rubs off on me in a good way. And you crack me up.

8. My sister, Lisa Dawn. You exude a cheerful confidence, and are a wonderful homemaker.

9. My sister, Kelly. I am so glad that I've gotten to know you better since moving here. I really like you, and you have been my go-to for so many things.

10. My brother, Luke. You are really a fantastic guy. And that isn't something I say about many teenage boys. You are godly, and kind. And you babysit...

11. My brother, Mark. You are such a good friend to my kids, and never treat Carson like a baby. He loves you so much!

12. Grace. I practice self-loathing far more often than I should. Humility is necessary for a believer, but I don't think the Lord intends for us to constantly dislike how He made us. I am thankful for grace that allows me to continue to grow and mature out of bad habits without belittling us.

13. Second chances. And third, and get what I am saying. Since we haven't invented time travel yet, I am thankful that the Lord allows us to keep trying.

14. Hope. This has been my word for this year, not intentionally, but rather just in how life has played out. It is truly the anchor for my soul, and it is not a "wish for", it is a "know it, just waiting on it". Jesus is hope and that has been proven over and over for me.

15. Our home. It is tiny by some standards, huge by others, but for this Goldilocks it is just right for right now. I don't tend to live my life by a plan, so I am content with that being enough.

16. Our car. It isn't "fancy" but it is paid for, and it gets great gas mileage. And we can afford the tires for it. That is enough to merit gratitude in my book.

17. First world problems. The internet is down, my fancy smart phone is not working, the dishwasher doesn't like my new dish tabs. Cry me a river-and I am talking to myself! I do have "real" problems, but I am thankful when I sit back and realize that I can take these minor inconveniences as an opportunity to remind myself that there are many worse things.

18. Health. Over and over this year I have seen those I love struggle with health issues both big and small. I really am thankful that for time being we have good health. If we lose it tomorrow that does not mean we are any less blessed, but for now I am grateful for having it.

19. Our church. We have come through the fire this year and been refined. I have never seen a group of people fight attacks like we have and triumph. It is inspiring and definitely has merited "memory stone" status. And I know God is not through with us yet.

20. Clean water. This is something I truly do *not* take for granted. I don't have any moving stories to share, but the Lord has impressed on me that this is something to be thankful for, as it is a privilege denied to many.

21. Freedom. It may sound trite, but it isn't. Freedom to homeschool, freedom to worship the Lord, freedom to wear pants. I am thankful for all my freedoms, large and small, and pray that I will not abuse them, but guard them carefully.

22. Prayer. I get to talk to *GOD*. About anything, about everything. That is something so huge I can't really express it in words. My heart is overflowing thinking about it.

23. The Word. And He talks to me. In the most beautiful way. I am so thankful for the Bible and how the Lord has spoken to my heart and changed my life through His written Word.

24. My husband. He really deserves sainthood. I love him more than he knows.

25. My kids. I would have never guessed I would like them so much.

26. My future. It is secure in Christ. And that is all I need to know to know that it is going to be good.

Today was the day for "big ones". What are the things you are the most thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 25

    Sometimes being thankful can be about the "nots" just as much as the "haves". What I mean is that sometimes the absence of something, or the lack, is just as much a reason for gratitude as the fullness or possession of something. It got me thinking about all the things that I am grateful that I don't have or, are not happening.

So today I am thankful:

1. That Joel is not working. He was working as a tow driver last year, and he pulled Thanksgiving, so he wasn't able to leave town to come out to my parents. I am really glad that is not the case this year.

2. That he is not deployed. He missed Thanksgiving for that, too.

3. That I am not hundreds of miles away from my parents. They are just minutes away!

4. That I am not in charge of the turkey. Enough said.

5. That it is not the week of the windstorm. Almost everyone I know has their power back on.

6. That we are not eating at a restaurant. Lots of people think this is a good idea. It is mostly people who have never done it. I have, and I do not recommend it if it can be avoided. Thanksgiving is about home for me!

7. That I am not alone. The essence of Thanksgiving is sharing it with others. I am so thankful for family, and in years past, friends, who have shared this day with our family.

8. That I do not have to work on Black Friday. It was fun when I did it, but I am glad that I get to *shop* this year!

9. That I do not have to take my kids Black Friday shopping with me. My brother is going to keep them. Yay!

10. That I do not have to "shop" with my family by phone. We get to do it in person!

11. That I do not have to worry about food. There is always plenty, both tomorrow and everyday.

12. That I do not  have a birthday to celebrate tomorrow. Jocelyn loves when her birthday falls on Thanksgiving, and I don't mind it, but I am glad that is all over for this year.

13. That I do not have to host. I love a party-but the planning and decorating part. After that, I am fine with leaving. I am glad my mom is hosting!

14. That I am not confused about Who I am thanking. I always feel badly for people who aren't believers-who in the world do they give thanks to? Themselves? I am so thankful I know Who deserves my thanks!

15. That I am not just responsible for the olives and the cranberry sauce. Aka: opening cans. I finally cook well enough to be given "real" jobs,

16. That I do not have any food allergies. I always feel sorry for those who struggle with that. Sad for the goodness they have to miss out on!

17. That I am not praying for my niece to get out of the hospital. Thankful she is at home this year-praying she stays there!

18. That I am not on break from school. Every day is a party, I have graduated! All done with that!

19. That I am not fasting desserts this year. I did that last year, and it was for a good reason, but I can thankful for dessert this year!

20. That we are not fighting bad weather. Plenty of experience there.

21. That our little family is not fighting any serious health issues. I am praying for my those in my extended family who are, but I am thankful that neither Joel, I or either of the kids is struggling with anything major.

22. That we are not in a time of famine. There is plenty to be thankful for.

23. That we are not traveling. It is not one of my favorite things to do this time of year.

24. That I do not have to eat dark meat. My mom doesn't make me. ;)

25. That I do not have to stop be thankful once Thanksgiving is over. As a matter of fact, I am supposed to be thankful all the time!

What are some "nots" you are thankful for?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

To Jocelyn, On Your Tenth Birthday

I am assuming by now that you are used to your brother photo-bombing...;)

Dear Jocelyn,
              Double-digits! Finally! You've been waiting for this day since your birthday last year. Ten *is* pretty special, but I think that about all of your birthdays. I was nervous about your party-you've never had that many girls before. I shouldn't have worried, you are always the consummate hostess, making everyone feel welcomed.

    I always admire that about you-you can talk to anyone. You aren't afraid people will like you, and you shouldn't be. Adults are always telling me that you are so friendly and polite. You might talk a little too much (you came by that honestly!) but I think people would rather have more than less.

   You have done so much growing up this year, and in the very best of ways. You've tried new things, like taking dance, that are helping you to mature and become a very godly young woman. You aren't afraid to be yourself, and that is good because you are pretty wonderful.

   Your birthday party had to be big, because you are friends with everyone! You probably would have invited ten more girls if I had let you. You can talk to anyone, and you see the best in everyone. Your bubbly, encouraging nature makes it hard to not like you!

     And I think the biggest reason why everyone likes you is because you are constantly seeking opportunities to be more like Jesus. You really care about what the Bible has to say to you,and you want to apply it. Your faith is enormous-you know the Lord is faithful, so why is there any reason to doubt? Once you accepted Jesus you did what you always do: jumped in with both feet. And you have never looked back. You inspire me with your walk, and that is pretty impressive, since I have been at it a while myself. ;)

    I know we are on a down-hill slope to the teenage years, and that makes many parents nervous. I don't know what that will look like, but if you stay on the path you are on, I think I might be in for some delightful surprises. You aren't perfect, you've never claimed to be, but you do want to be more like Jesus, and I think that will pull us through.

   For now, though, I plan on enjoying these sweet fleeting days, when you are still very much a little girl. You take joy in childish things, and I hope you hold onto that for as long as possible. You still love dolls, and playgrounds, and playing in the snow. I am going to try to keep those things fun for as long as I can. Your enthusiasm for the small things in life is something I pray you never outgrow.

     I will be praying for lots of things-but most of all, that you stay close to Jesus. No matter what life brings, He is what it is all about. You are His, and He has good, good things in store for you. And I am glad I get to be a part of that. I love you, my happy, charming little girl. I hope you had a wonderful birthday-you deserve it.

                                                                                 Love Always,

G.I.G.-Day 24

     Today is Jocelyn's birthday. I always write my kids a letter on their birthdays, and post it here on the blog. I thought about combining the two today, but that felt a little bit like cheating. So I will post the letter later, but I do want today to be all about Josie, and I know it won't be a problem to find twenty-four things that I am thankful for about her.

Today I am thankful that Josie is:

1. So loving. She really does love other people.

2. So kind. She likes to do little things to make others happy.

3. So helpful. She loves to clear strangers' trays at restaurants, much to their surprise. It is adorable.

4. So creative. I have never seen anyone who can literally take scraps and trash and turn them into cute and imaginative creations like she can.

5. So resilient. There isn't much that gets her down.

6. So happy. That is one of the first things almost everyone says about her!

7. So sweet. She has been leaving me the most thoughtful little notes lately-its adorable.

8. So brave. She is not afraid of anything-or anyone. Nothing daunts her.

9. So in love with Jesus. That has been my prayer for her since birth, and it has been answered over and over.

10. So mission-minded. She really does want the *whole* world to know about Jesus, and she is starting in her own backyard-literally.

11. So smart. She doesn't always show it, because she isn't concerned with "impressing" people, but she is pretty darn intelligent.

12. So adventurous. She loves to try new things.

13. Not easily pressured. I never realized what a blessing that is in a child until I had the opportunity to really observe them. She doesn't go with the crowd for the sake of pleasing others-and this has been a good thing more often than not.

14. Easy to get along with. People like to spend time with her.

14. Friendly. I had a hard time with this as a kid and I really admire it in her.

15. In love with the Word. Reading it, memorizing it, talking about it. I like to think she gets that from me. ;)

16. Persevering. She doesn't give up easily. 

17. Concerned with doing right. She really wants to obey the Lord, and probably more than anything else, that is how I get her to correct her behavior, by reminding her what God wants her to do.

18. Full of energy. She is always bouncing around, and never seems to tire of helping others.

19. A dedicated church-goer. She loves the Body and never gets tired of going to church. I have never had her complain about it.

20. Polite. Another things she often receives compliments on-it makes my heart happy.

21. A good big sister. She loves Carson, and is really a good example for him.

22. Teachable. She is strong-willed, but as she matures in Christ she becomes more and more willing to learn.

23. Easy to please. Little things make her happy, which makes it fun to give her any little thing. She isn't hard to buy things for.

24. Good at sharing. Really important since her brother is terrible at it.;)

  I could probably list even more things that I am thankful for, but I will talk about that in my letter. Who makes you thankful today?

G.I.G.-Day 23

 It is late, so I will cut straight to the chase.

Today I am thankful:

1. For "free" fun. We volunteered to help with the Zero Waste effort at Gonzaga and it was a lot of fun.

2. For ice cream in waffle cones. Especially if it is free as a "thank you" for volunteering!

3. For french fries. Especially when they are steak cut.

4. For kids who appreciate simple pleasures. I would like to think they learned that from me and their dad.

5. For being together as a family. I am truly thankful for this every day, I just happened to mention it today.

6. For my brother-in-law Daniel. We lovingly call him "the Lorax" because he is jut the "greenest" guy I know. I appreciate many things about him, not the least of which is his passion for sustainability and incredible knowledge on a wide variety of subjects. I am thankful Katy (and God!) brought him into our family.

7. For samples. The kind they give out from Costco. They are just fun!

8. For kind strangers. You don't realize how many opportunities you have during the day to really be nice to someone, until you are on the receiving end in a service position. I am glad that some people are really out-of-their way kind.

9. For car washes. Especially after you car endured a ridiculous wind storm and has been filthy for a week.

10. For time to catch my breath. It seems life has been incredibly hectic for like...the past year! Yesterday and today have been a pleasant opportunity to not feel like I was going non-stop.

11. For chances to share my opinion. I am not always right, but it is always nice to feel heard.

12. That my grandmother seems to be doing better. The doctors feel like they have handle on what happened over the weekend and she seems to be on an upswing.

13. For my Keurig. My afternoon cup of coffee is one of my favorite rituals. I don't think I can actually operate a "real" coffee pot, so I am thankful for my little one-cup wonder.

14. For mocha mix. It makes my coffee just perfect!

15. For a trash dumpster. I have T.D.A. That stands for "Trash Day Anxiety". It is hereditary, I got it from my mother. Having a dumpster that I am *not* responsible for taking to the curb is the cure for TDA. It is one of those ridiculous little things, but honestly: I am grateful for it.

16. For fresh contact lenses. If you don't wear contacts, you won't understand, but putting in new lenses-it is so wonderful.

17. For hand-me-downs. For both me and the kids. It is a great way to help the earth, and my pocketbook! And my kids actually think hand-me-downs are better than new clothes. They are more special to them!

18. For a generous family. Curriculum, clothes, and a million other little things (especially cups of coffee!). All my extended family is willing to give with no strings attached, and it makes my world a better place.

19. For this time of year. And I don't just mean Christmas. There is something I really love about November. It holds so much promise.

20. For thoughts of heaven. I have been reading C.S. Lewis' "The Last Battle" with the kids, and the images of heaven that he paints just fill my heart with joy.

21. For gift wrap. Wrapping wins over bags any day in my book-and presentation is everything!

22. For laughter. God was so gracious to give us humor and the ability to appreciate the funny side of life. It makes things bearable.

23. For public bathrooms. I am pretty sure that we take this for granted far too often. If you have ever had need of one and been unable to find one, you get why this made the list!

    The randomness clearly never ceases! Are you thankful for bathrooms today, or something more serious?

Monday, November 23, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 22

    Sometimes the loveliest days are the ones that you are not expecting to be particularly lovely, just rather ordinary. That was today. Nothing special, but that was part of its charm.

Today I am thankful:

1. That even though the power was still out at the church, we had service anyway. It was a particularly good service, too.

2. That we have someone in our church who plays acoustic guitar. So that we could instruments to go with our singing, even without power.

3. That people were good sports about the whole thing. Sometimes it is hard, especially as adults, to put up with little minor inconveniences, but no one complained.

4. For hot showers. I do not lack appreciation for being clean, but not only that, but for how nice the whole task itself is.

5. For a little time to myself. I do not often have time alone at home, but today I did. I don't like to spend too much time by myself, but as it is a rare occurrence, I appreciated it.

6. For old movies. I adore the styles of the fifties, and entertained myself today by watching several classics I had never seen before.

7. For God coincidences. I had just written #6 when I got a text from Joel that he was with my sister, Kelly. Her car had been broken into while she was at work, and he "happened"  to be nearby. He was able to be there in 5 minutes to help her get things figured out. That, in my mind, is God working things out in His perfect way.

8. That she is safe. I am sad that someone thought breaking her window was an okay thing to do, but glad that she wasn't physically harmed in any way. Because windows can be replaced but sisters can't.

9. That I had a chance to  put Matthew 25:35 into action. I often miss those opportunities to "feed the hungry, and clothe the naked" because I overthink it. That didn't happen today.

10. For having dinner with my sister, Katy. We haven't had much time to see each other lately, so it was nice to hang out.

11. For our space heater. We don't use our baseboard heaters (for a myriad of reasons) and we don't need to with that little thing. It makes our living room toasty.

12. That ribbon was on clearance. In colors to match my Christmas decorations and coordinating gift wrap.

13. That I was able to make some progress on some projects on my list. I actually have a whole notebook dedicated to activities, to-do's, and events in the next few weeks. It was nice to check some things off!

14. That my basil is thriving. I am a notorious plant killer, and I have had this plant since September. I'm pretty sure that is a record!

15. For Master Blasts from Sonic. If you have never had the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dream...well, I'm sad for you. It's epic.

16. For pebble ice. Also from Sonic. (That one is for you, Kate. ;) )

17. For deep conversations with thoughtful people. I love fluff, and superficial things at times. But other times I want to be challenged, and questioned. It helps me to grow and mature.

18. For listening ears. I am truly thankful for people who ask questions that they really want to hear the answers to, and are really concerned about you.

19. That I don't have an early morning. Because obviously, it is a late night-for me, anyway!

20. For lamps. I really detest overhead lighting, and I love how homey lamps make a place feel.

21. For Christmas carols. Yes, even in November. I won't apologize.

22. For keyboards. I don't think most of the time we even notice them, but we would be sorely tried to use all this technology without them. ;)

Despite the excitement between numbers 6 and 7, it was really a good day overall. How was your's?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 21

  I don't really know what is going on, but I do not doubt that the Lord placed it on my heart to do this gratitude challenge in a month where He knew there was going to be a whole lot going on. So far, my paternal grandmother has passed away, my niece has been hospitalized for a host of life-threatening issues, my town was hit by a windstorm that squashed decades-long records for power outages, and my maternal grandmother found out she has more cancer, after recent enduring chemo and radiation for brain cancer. And that's just the "big" stuff. Today, that same grandmother had to be rushed to the hospital with a very high fever, and we still aren't sure what is going on. It's hitting me pretty hard, and I am really learning to give thanks in all circumstances, trial by fire edition, if you know what I'm saying?

   And surprisingly (or maybe not so much so, if you are saved), in the midst of all that there *are* things for which to be thankful! I haven't really listed too many "big" things-and there is a reason for that: it is easy to give thanks for those usually. If you ask children, they can list those. But I think that true gratitude encompasses EVERYTHING, both things large and small. And I think that by choosing to focus on the not-so-obvious, which I kind of have to in the process of listing over 400 things this month, it hits on exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be a more conscious observer of all the great things in my life, to realize that in each and every situation there are things that not only should I say, "thanks" for, there are things which I *must* surrender praise to only the Lord for, as He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. No matter the size.

 So onto my list for today...
I am thankful that:

1. We had such generous donations towards Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. It is so fun to see what people were inspired to give.

2. They are all signed, sealed and delivered. At least on our end! It was quite the process to sort, label and get 37 shoeboxes to the donation site, but we did it! My organized aunt was planning on helping me, but since she needed to be with my grandmother, Kelly came to my rescue.

3. There are 37 children that we are showing the love of Christ to, in ways both tangible and intangible. If you doubt that these boxes are physical expressions of the Gospel, you need to go check out OCC's website.

4. We can be a small part of a big effort. There are hundreds of thousands of boxes delivered every year. We are a drop in the bucket-but all those drops together are creating mighty ocean waves. Being part of that is humbling.

5. The Gospel is for everyone. Rich or poor, near or far, old or young. God is so good...

6. Tomorrow is uncertain, but there is no need to worry. It is almost impossible at times not to worry. My grandmother is ill, my husband is not getting a paycheck, my future seems unclear. But I do NOT have to worry. I can choose to have faith and know the Lord is in control. It seems a pity that I only get to list this once, as I could certainly use the reminder every day.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

7. I do not have to lose hope. There is always hope-He is called Jesus.

8. I am being renewed day by day. Just like the manna the Israelites received, I get enough every day for each day. Never too little, never too much, but I don't have to worry about provision.

9.This is all just momentary. In the light of eternity, all our troubles are "light and momentary". Even when they seem heavy and eternal, they aren't.

10. We can fix our eyes on the unseen. It doesn't make sense, in human terms. But taken by faith, it makes more sense than anything in the world.

11. What is seen is temporary. Oh! I am sooo thankful that this isn't all there is. So, very, very, thankful.
12. What is unseen is eternal. That the most glorious things of all are most definitely ahead of me. That the very best, most perfect time in my life isn't in this life.

13. Scripture makes me cry. Almost without fail. And I am thankful for that because I am not a big "cry-er". If I am moved, it is pretty significant. And I am glad that the Word is one of those things.

14. I can be sad. Jesus was, and since He was perfect, I know that it isn't sinful. I can tell Jesus about my sorrow and He can give me peace. It might seem weird to be thankful for what most consider a negative emotion, but I see it as part of the humanity that allows us to not only understand each other, but recognize how badly we need salvation.

15. I have people with which to share my sorrows. Grief is bearable when borne together.

16. It won't last forever. See #9.

17. Most of my family are believers. Oh, how sweet it is to claim these promises and share these burdens together.

18. Every cloud has silver lining. But only for those who are in Christ Jesus. Without Him, there aren't even any clouds, only darkness. But for a believer, "all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord...". (Romans 8:28)

19. Hymns. My mind is constantly flooded with Scripture, and that frequently brings old, familiar, comforting hymns to mind. It is so lovely... "'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus...just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His promise...just to know, "Thus saith the Lord." Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I've proved Him o'er and o'er, Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh for grace, to trust Him more..." How can that not make you feel better?

20. I can sing. I didn't say well, or in public, but for a voice, and a little tune, even if it is only for myself and the Lord.

21. There are always miracles. I've seen them. And whether or not any of these situations that I'm experiencing today, or in the future, merits one I cannot say. But I am grateful for them just the same.

I know you are humming a hymn now. What are you singing? Is it a song of thanks?

Friday, November 20, 2015

G.I.G-Day 20

   Today was Jocelyn's party! I have heaved a gigantic sigh of relief, for sure. I really get worked up over this stuff, I know "first world problems", worrying that my kid's completely unnecessary, totally extraneous birthday shindig won't go off without a hitch. However, that's where I am right now, so I am just owning it.

Today I am thankful:

1. That the party is over! It is always lovely to look back on the memories, but you have to live through it first.

2. That I have (as Lisa Dawn put it) "an army of party minions.". Seriously, I do not know how people do these things by themselves. My family was *awesome* today. My aunt loaned her house and loads of her cute stuff (besides doing a billion other things), Lisa Dawn and Kelly pitched in and made decor and set up stuff, Katy came and "judged" the event, even my mom (who had just come home from my grandmother's funeral and had traveled all day and all yesterday!) came and did all the dishes. They are all lifesavers.

3. That my parents and brothers arrived back home safely. It is tricky time of year for a road trip!

4. For dinner with my parents. All my married life, until last year, we lived no less than 18 hours or more away. I am grateful that I can go to dinner with my parents, go home to my own bed and do it all again the next day if I want!

5. For my talented cousin, Cayla. She did all the chalkboard art for Josie's party, and it was gorgeous. She is a really cool teenager, and I appreciate her.

6. For my other dear cousin, Autumn. She is such a sweet and precious friend to Josie. She never treats Josie as inferior, even though Autumn is over two years older. I love their friendship.

7. For my uncle Cory, who even though he had a house full of little (loud!) girls running around, did not complain and he has to get up at 1am to go to work! He very kindly opened his home and never said a thing.

8. That the party went well. We had a few "adjustments" but in the end, I think all the girls had fun. If you weighed fun in sprinkles and frosting (it was a Cupcake Wars themed party) they had a blast!

9. For last minute ideas that worked. I did not do nearly as much party prep as I usually do, and even flying by the seat of my pants, it all worked out. Probably due much more in part to today's #2 than any of my genius.

10. For sprinkles. If you know me, generally I hate sprinkles. However, they were a necessary ingredient for pulling off this party, and they are pretty cute. They do get everywhere and taste gross, but they look cute doing it. And you must have them for a cupcake party.

11. For Jocelyn's guests. She invited all her friends from co-op. I know enough about this age to know that having 10 little girls who all get along, and are kind and thoughtful and godly is a *very* rare thing. She is truly blessed to have that group to call friends.

12. For having fun. My sisters and I all decided to decorate our own cupcakes, while the girls were working on their challenge. I love that we can laugh and have fun together.

13. For garlands. They make all parties, and lots of other things, better.

14. For Carson's good attitude. He was the only boy at the party, and he was so sweet about it. He was very excited to be a "judge".

15. That Joel is off for the season. It will be harder for our budget, but I am looking forward to having lots of time with him. Especially because...

16. We are going on a mission trip! I am over the moon to finally get to go on a short-term mission trip to a foreign country. We are joining my dad, my sister Lisa Dawn and my brother Luke on a trip to Honduras in January. It is the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

17. That the Lord is going to provide the money. We don't have it, but I believe we will. I don't know how, I don't know when. But I really feel like He called us, and I believe that He will provide. He always has, and according to what I read in the Word, He always will.

18. That He fulfills desires. I still kind of feel like the whole thing might be a dream. It has been something I have longed for since I was a child. However, every time I have prayed about going in the past the answer has clearly been, "no". This time, it was out of the blue (isn't it always?) and I am so grateful that the Lord does give us the desires of our heart-in His perfect time.

19. That I get to be a part of His plan to preach the Gospel to the whole world. That privilege blows my mind. He would trust *me* to share His plan of salvation? Whoa. That is a really big deal.

20. For a truly good day. Being thankful has been tough-my attitude these last few days has been horrible. I have been fighting to focus on the good. But today was a wonderful day, and I am going to be thankful for that.

Is there anything that you are thankful for that hasn't happened yet? Do you think it is possible to be thankful for future events? I do-because all the promises of God are true, even those in the future. Those are so secure, I can be thankful for them before they even occur! How about you?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 19

  I'm singing the same song I was last week: I am up to my eyeballs in party prep. This time it is for Josie's birthday, and as that is what has been consuming most of my time today, it is duly reflected in my list!

Today I am thankful for:

1. The party store. I didn't buy much there this time, but if you are looking for specialty items (especially of specific colors) you can't beat this place. It makes me happy-and thankful!

2. Walmart. I usually say how much I "hate" this place, but deep in my heart I am thankful for their selection, and the fact that I can get a wide variety of items there.

3. Balloons. I always say you need two things for a party: balloons and favors. As Pooh would say, "No one can be uncheered by a balloon"!

4. Perfect cupcakes. I baked 6 dozen cupcakes today. I didn't burn any of them, and all their tops rose beautifully! Win!

5. My Aunt's hospitality. I had planned on having the party at our church, since there is no way I could fit a dozen little girls in my teeny apartment. Buuuuut, it just so happens the power is still out there. :( So my Aunt Rachel to the rescue! She graciously offered to open her lovely home to the thronging horde, umm I mean party guests.

6. Amazon. They saved the day in the favor department!

7. Marshmallows. I really love marshmallows, and finding giant *cupcake* shaped ones? It was meant to be.

8. Ribbon. Seriously, party decor would not be as beautiful without it.

9. Frosting and cake mixes being on sale. Providential, this week, truly.

10. Flexibility. I am glad that we were able to move the party to a different location, so it didn't have to be cancelled.

11. Extra time. With all the cancelled activities this week, I had more time than I was anticipating. Which was wonderful, because I was woefully under-prepared.

12. Streamers. Another party classic.

13. Cellophane bags. I love these for a variety of reasons, but using them for packing favors is probably one of my favorites.

14. That my new phone came today. Self-explanatory.

15. That Joel was able to get my phones switched.

16. That all my stuff was able to be migrated to my new phone. This is especially important because I had tried to reset my phone to fix an issue and it *did* not respond well. I was really worried I would be starting from scratch with apps and contact info. No fun!

17. Printables. People who are willing to share their hard work on the Internet for me to use? For free? Bless them!

18. Paper punches. Any party decorator has at least a couple of these. I have a whole bunch and I use them all.the.time.

19. Evite. If having guests at the party was dependent on me sending invitations through the mail, let's just say we would be having rather "small" gatherings. I love that I can quickly send invitations for free (clearly an important feature to me!) and keep track of everything online means we aren't having parties with no guests.

 Note I did *not* put that I was thankful for parties...let's see what happens tomorrow. Pray for me!;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 18

  No thoughtful introspective intro today, just going to plunge right in!

Today I am thankful for:
1. Happy endings. I love a happy ending. In a book, on tv, in real life. And I am thankful that I have had many of my own.

2. Workout videos. I started out with Leslie Sansone, and it has all been uphill since then. But let's be honest: I would never actually go to a gym so I am thankful that I can get some exercise and never have to leave my house.

3. That I am in better shape now than I was in my twenties. I have never been athletic, and I kind of bought into a lie that you were either born that way or not. I will never be a professional, but I have definitely improved.

4. That the Lord allows us to change, and changes us. Not just physically. I am glad that we don't have to stay the same.

5. Dedicated turn lights. I love those little green arrows. I will drive around my elbow to not have to turn against traffic unprotected!

6. That our church was spared. A tree fell very close to our building and took down several power lines, but it thankfully missed the church.

7. Shoeboxes. I don't mean just because shoes come in them, but rather, Operation Christmas Child. We worked on putting together the donations through our Awana club tonight, and it just makes me so excited to think of all the kids that are being blessed by our own little clubbers! Also: it is amazing how many little things you can fit inside a box that size.

8.The joy of giving. Not just this time of year, and not just shoeboxes. I am thankful that the Lord made the act of generosity something that can bring us pleasure, and I know that is because it is near to His heart.

9. That we all have been given something we can give. Whether it is time, talent, or money-perhaps all three, none of us are completely without something to bless others with.

10. Forgiveness. Especially when it is unmerited.

11. Ponytails. They have saved many a "bad hair" day.

12. Netflix. Many, many entertaining hours wasted, umm, I mean enjoyed. ;) We ditched cable years ago and haven't looked back, thanks to the wonder of television on demand.

13. Frozen fruit. My morning smoothies wouldn't be nearly so wonderful without it.

14. Converse tennis shoes. I have trouble with my feet and these are a very important part of my wardrobe, not from a fashion standpoint, but from a comfort one.

15. Socks. I know some people hate having their feet covered, but I love it.

16. Kids who can read. Sometimes this backfires, but mostly it just seems so amazing that they can do it-and I taught them!

17. Trash bags. I can't imagine trying to deal with a can without a bag. I am thankful that someone invented those!

18. Listening to my kids laugh-with each other. So precious...

These random lists are harder than the focused ones! Here is hoping that I have some targeted inspiration tomorrow. :)

G.I.G.-Day 17

    Today we had a massive windstorm where I live. I have lived in lots of windy places, and I don't really think that Spokane is one. However, they do seem to store it all up and use it at once, so to speak. Last summer we had some really devastating windstorms, and I had hoped that we escaped that season this year, but I guess they can come summer or winter! Anyway, it definitely factored into my thankful things for today.

Today I am thankful for:

1.Being the middle floor apartment, and not the top one. I am pretty sure it is much louder hearing the wind tear at your roof. And also we won't have to worry about leaks or anything. :)

2. Having a safe, warm home. Regardless of what floor it is on.

3. Still having power. I know a number of friends and family are without electricity. We may lose it during the night, but we have kept it on for a significant number of hours longer than many.

4. The reminder that we serve a *very* powerful God. He is the Ruler of the wind-it bows to His command. Someone that has ultimate control over something as mighty as the wind? I want to serve Him!

5. Being able to open our home to family. One of my sisters is staying with us because she doesn't have power. I am glad to be able to offer her a place to stay!

6. Not being responsible for all the shingles that have come off the roof. A perk of renting. ;)

7. Not being responsible for all the fallen branches. Ditto the above.

8. That no trees have fallen on any of our belongings. I have a number of friends for whom that is not the case, sadly.

9. That my kids aren't affected by the school cancellations. I love homeschooling. We take our days off when we want to-not when some school boards says. I'm such a rebel! ;)

10. Staying in. I really am a homebody at heart. It took me years and a lot of frustrations to realize that, but I love being in my own little home.

11. My puzzle app. If you are staying at home, it is nice to have something mindless to do while watching tv and not going out. I find putting together puzzles very soothing, even if it is just on a touchscreen.

12. Having a little time to waste. That doesn't happen very often lately, and it was kind of nice.

13. Naps. Another good thing to do if you have a little extra time.

14. The sweetness of sleeping children. Finding Carson all curled up on our bed in the middle of the day today melted my heart a little. He's not all grown up yet.

15. That Joel had the day off. He couldn't work in the weather, so he got to hang out with us!

16. That he used that time to help me get stuff done. So I could proceed to the time-wasting activities above.

17. That one of those useful things was calling in the warranty on my phone so I could get a new one this week. Yay for having an extended warranty that paid off!

  Wow! That was easier than I thought. Who knew the weather could make one so thankful?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 16

   I am tired. It is a long story, and I am not at liberty to share the details. I am trying to get my mind right to not be all negative and complaining but it is hard. I will do my darnedest to knock out today's thankful things anyway.

Today I am thankful for:

1. My sofa. This time last year we still had a futon.

2. Skipping school. We took a day off today. It was nice.

3. No cavities. Both the kids had check-ups today at the dentist and neither had any cavities! Yay!

4. Deodorant. This modern marvel makes life oh so much better.

5. Scarves. I love these accessories.

6. Soup. Tomato, broccoli cheddar, potato, zuppa toscano, I like most of them. And nothing is more comforting on a cold day.

7. Glasses. I don't love wearing them, but I love stumbling around wildly even less. I have worn them most of my life, and I appreciate that while they are not a cure for my poor vision, they can correct it.

8. Ibuprofen. I try not to take it excessively, but there are some days that it is what keeps me going.

9. Nice customer service reps. I didn't get what I needed to do done, but the girl I talked with today was very nice. I can appreciate that.

10. Our bed. My 6'4" husband and I shared a full size bed for the first five years of our marriage. When we finally got a king I was so happy. I haven't stopped being happy about it since.

11. The ability to mend. I mean sewing. There is something soothing and satisfying about closing up a small rip or putting a button back on.

12. Space heaters. Our apartment is small, and since I really dislike using our baseboard heaters, I am very thankful that I only need one to pretty much warm up the whole place.

13. Drying racks. I am very particular about my laundry, and since I don't exactly have a place to put an outdoor clothesline I am glad that I have a place to put things to air dry.

14. Cancelled plans. My schedule is overwhelming this week, but due to some unplanned events, it is a little less full now. I am definitely thankful for that.

15. All the people who have bought "Team Amazing Gracey" shirts. That is just a really cool thing to do, especially if she isn't someone you are related to. ;)

16. Spoons. I will end this random list with the randomest thing of all. Spoons are my favorite kind of silverware. I just really love them!

Any random things you are thankful for today? Or is your list a little more cohesive than mine?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 15

     I pretty much always give myself the day after an event "off". Today, that was definitely the case. I figure if I had  a "real" job, I could take a day off every now and then, so I justify it that way. Also, just being honest, sometimes my anxiety just demands it! However, offering God gratitude should never be something we need a break from, so let the thankfulness continue!

Today I am thankful for:

1. A day to take "off". The Lord Himself started the practice of the Sabbath, and I am thankful that I can continue it.

2. Worship music. It can sound a lot of different ways, and certainly they aren't all my style. I don't love every song (some of them don't even make sense to me!), but I am thankful we can use song to bring praise to the Lord.

3. That the cat is out of the bag. The event yesterday was a "meet and greet for a prospective pastor for our church! As a member of our Pastor Search Committee, I am so glad that the church finally got to meet him (and his lovely wife).

4. And success at long last! He was unanimously voted in and they accepted! My multiple exclamations points do not really express how excited I am about that!

5. And the end is in sight! Being part of the PSC was taxing-responsibilities, emotions, work. I am thankful that we worked ourselves out of a job!

6. That I was able to be a part of that team. When you spend several hours every week with the same group of people, you get to know them fairly well. I have developed a lot of respect and love for those six other committee members.

7. That our journey isn't over. It is just beginning! Driscoll has an amazing God-sized mission ahead of them, and I get to be a part of that! I can't wait to see what He has in store, and I think our new pastor will be an integral part of casting that vision.

8. Corporate prayer. The more mature I get, the more I realize that you just can't pray too much. I am so in love with praying as a Body, though. It gets me really excited when there are 2 or 3, so ten or twenty times that many? That's dynamite!

9. Initial excitement. Many think this is overrated, but I say, take advantage of it while you can! Use it to get a good start and make as much headway as you can. I know we are in the throes of the "new love" stage and I think that is something to be thankful for.

10. Hugs. I am NOT a hugger. I am the opposite, some might say a porcupine. However, those squishy people sandwiches have their place. If I give you one, consider yourself having gained VIP status.

11. People who like my kids. This, this is a blessing. I live with my creatures day in and day out. Parents who only say nice things about their kids are liars and they frustrate me. However, I do love both my little attitudes-on-legs and when other people are willing to spend time with them, and have nice things to say about them? That makes me deliriously thankful.

12. Hot coffee. On a cold, rainy day. With some of my favorite people. Consumed in a leisurely fashion. Enough said.

13. Sharing memories. Of my grandmother. Of my babies. Of my dating years. Of my siblings. Of God's grace and mercy. I am thankful that God gave us a memory so we can remember so many sweet things and that we can bless others by sharing them.

14. Notebooks. I love blogging, but there is something wonderful about actual pen-to-paper writing. I have dozens of half-filled notebooks, and they make me happy.

15. Lists. If this challenge isn't enough evidence, I don't know what it is. I love a list, and I am thankful that God allowed them to be part of of the human experience.

    Any *big* things to be thankful for? Is "lists" on your list? :)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 14

     Today was a very long day. I was in charge of a church-wide event, and it took most of yesterday and *all* of today to pull off (not to mention all the planning and prep I've done over the last few weeks!). Once a significant stress is relieved it makes me soooo tired, which means I am pushing my very sleepy brain to perform. I apologize in advance for any typos!

Today I am thankful for:

1. Sweet, sincere compliments. It is really lovely when hard work is recognized with thoughtful, kind words.

2. Re-purposing. I was able to use a number of decorative items that had other original intents. It was money-saving and creatively motivating!

3. White pumpkins. Specifically, one very large (and beautiful!) one that was a gift from my sweet husband. It was my inspiration for the decor scheme today and it was perfect.

4. The help of my family. The song goes, "I get by with a little help from my friends..." but I couldn't do it without my family. My mom, my sister, Kelly, my dear aunt, even my kids pitched in!

5. Help with the dishes. As I've mentioned before, I *hate* dishes. My aunt and uncle came to my rescue, and after everyone else had left they made sure that I didn't have to do a gigantic pile of serving plates, pots and silverware all by my lonesome. I wish I could list this one twice, that's how thankful I am!

6. Spray paint. My sweet family covered pumpkins, feathers, and even pine cones with gorgeous, gold spray paint to match my theme. It was beautiful!

7. White dishes. If you have ever been to an event I have coordinated, you know I would be lost without my white dishes. They are the most versatile things ever and I love them.

8. White hot chocolate. Specifically this recipe. It garnered me a boatload of compliments, and was a huge hit!

9. Being able to share my talents. I always feel like it isn't humble to talk about your own abilities, but I do really love to party plan and while it definitely come with a heavy load for my anxiety, I am thankful that it is something I can use to bless others.

10. Inspiration. I find it in a lot of things, and in a lot of places, but it never diminishes how thankful I am for it.

11. Creativity. It took me a long time to realize that creativity is not innate necessarily, though it is for some people. For others, like me, it is a  muscle that can be strengthened, and a skill that can be sharpened. I won't claim to be the most creative, not even close, but I am thankful that I am allowed to do it in my own way.

12. Hard work. I know this seems like a strange thing to be thankful for, but to work hard, and well, is immensely satisfying.

13. Rest. You can't be thankful for hard work without equally appreciating the opposite: a chance to sit down, take a breath and reflect on the fruits of your labor.

14. That the day is done. I am thankful for the high points, the successes, but I am also thankful that the stress is over, and I have lots of pleasant memories!

   Are you thankful your day is done? What made you want to praise the Lord for today?

Friday, November 13, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 13

     It is sad to me that so often we must experience loss to recognize how truly blessed we are. It is impossible not to hear about Paris, and all of France, and not be whisked back to the attacks of 9/11 and feel their pain. It is also impossible to not want to pull all your loved ones close and be grateful that you can do so, knowing that there are many across the ocean who as a result of today's attacks will be denied that privilege.

Today I am thankful:

1. That God is in control. He is not unaware of what is happening in Europe anymore than He is not cognizant of what is happening in my life. He knows, and He has not abdicated His throne, even in the midst of turmoil.

2. For helpers. I love that Mr. Rogers quote where he said his mother told him in scary times to "look for the helpers". I know that there are people who are helping in France-even inviting complete strangers into their homes to keep them out of harms' way, and I am thankful that those people exist.

3. For heroes. I know that many stories of heroism will arise from this tragedy. I still wish it hadn't happened, but it is always inspiring to hear about those who take this as an opportunity to display the best attributes of human nature: selflessness, bravery, courage, and self-sacrifice.

4. That He hears our prayers. We can hashtag 'til the cows come home, but the actual uttering of our prayers is what's important. He does hear, and He does care.

5. For unity. One of the best things to come out of these horrible types of events is the unity that they bring. We can all come together over something like this-with compassion and mercy.

6. That I know how it all ends. I don't have to be afraid, because I know Who wins in the end. Today's events won't change that. The good guys will come out on top because He has already written the conclusion.

7. That He turns tragedy into triumph. "You intended this for evil, but God intended it for good...". I know there are believers in France, and the Lord will use this to further His kingdom, and bring glory to Himself.

8. For witnessing opportunities. Tragedy makes people look for God, and we have the chance to share about the hope that is found in Christ.

9. For reminders of things that are bigger than my little problems. I get so tired of my lame, first world, over-privileged and under-worked complaints. I would *never* ask for things like this to happen, but when they do it helps me to remember what really matters.

10. For hugging my family. Because others can't anymore, and no one is promised tomorrow.

11. For empathy. I remember watching the 9/11 attacks. I know those feelings, and I can understand what people thousands of miles away are feeling. Helpless, angry, afraid. And the strength of human emotions that feel like they are going to sweep you completely away. There is something bittersweet about that connection.

12. For faith. These things are so much bigger than I can understand or explain. I am glad that through faith I don't need to-I can just believe that God is in control and that is enough.

13. For peace that passes understanding. I don't have to know how it works, but I know Whose peace it it that I have. It doesn't make sense and it doesn't have to. But I am oh-so-thankful for it just the same.

   Today is your chance to give thanks in all circumstances...what are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 12

     Jocelyn wished out loud today that she had a time machine-so she could go *forward* in time. I thought that was amusing, because usually time traveling focuses on going back in time, but I can see that there could be definite advantages to jumping ahead a few days (or maybe even weeks!). Sometimes, I think that would be the easy way out. Just skip ahead past to whenever what is stressing me out is over, and it will all just be memories and the beauty of 20/20 hindsight. That isn't the way it works, and I try to remind myself that isn't how I would really want it to be anyway. But a girl can wish sometimes, right?

   Since I can't fast-forward and avoid my responsibilities, I guess I will just look for things to be thankful for in the midst of the work!

Today I am thankful for:

1. Fast food. You can vilify me if you want, but sometimes the Big M is what makes this rock-and-roll lifestyle possible. I won't apologize-please, keep your judgement to yourself. A red box of crispy, golden French fries... don't be jealous!

2. Coupons. Especially ones you didn't know you could use that save you big bucks at your favorite store (That would be Target in case you live in a cave). I gotta bank roll my fast food habits somehow!

3. Cartwheel.(Target's mobile savings app) Combined with my coupon, I saved even more money! See above. ;)

4. Hanging out with my mom while accomplishing things. Everything load is better when shared with a friend, especially when that friend is your mom.

5. Dinner with my family. Especially when I don't have to cook or do the dishes.

6. Toilet paper. And I am doubly thankful when it is on sale. Don't pretend that your life wouldn't be vastly different without this stuff.

7. A well-stocked floral room at church. The event that I am coordinating on Saturday will be greatly enhanced by the resources there.

8. Short meetings. I have been on the Pastor Search Committee since the spring. We have had some rather ...long meetings. Tonight we cut off just a little past an hour. Definitely grateful for that!

9. Being able to help. I really am thankful that sometimes I am in the right place at the right time and I can be of assistance in some small way.

10. Being helped. It is hard sometimes to admit that I can't do it all by myself, but I really do appreciate those who come alongside and lend their helping hands.

11. Kids who are good shoppers. They really are champs. I drag them from store to store, and they are so great. Even more so if I bribe them with a little popcorn.

12. Knowing I can rely on the Lord's strength for all things. It is a daily battle to not be stressed and worried about all the things that are on my calendar and in my heart. But the Lord has promised that He will never leave me or forsake me, and that I can do all things with His strength. I can't think of a better way to end than that.

    What is stressing you out? Is there anything thankful in that? Or do you just want a fast-forward time machine, too? ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 11

     It is a good thing that I have never been one to be inflexible about my plans, first, because it would do me no good, and second, because usually whatever causes them to be changed is out of my control anyway, and third, it often means the Lord is at work, and rolling with the punches put me closer to His will than my original plans ever could.

   Nevertheless, it is tricky sometimes when I have thoughts about the future, but know full well that the likelihood of things turning out how I pictured is slim to none. But, to live is Christ and to die is gain, so either way, I'm still winning, right? Today, it is all about the small victories.

Today I am thankful for:

1. Making people laugh. Most of it is at the cost of my own vanity, but if you can't laugh at yourself, you don't deserve to laugh at all.

2. Text messaging. I thought this was the *dumbest* thing when it first came out. Uhhh, why can't you just make a phone call and save your fingers? But once we got full QWERTY keyboards on our phones...well, the rest, as they say, is history. I love being able to respond on my own time! And talk to all my sisters (wherever they are) at once! And leave messages for my husband that he will actually respond to! Need I go on?

3. Change. I'm talking quarters and dimes, people. A kid brought a much handled baggie with about 47 cents in it to donate to our Operation Christmas Child project tonight and it almost made me cry. Your pennies *do* make a difference, little people. Never think otherwise.

4. Dental floss picks. Don't mock me! Those things are genius-I detest flossing, but those make it bearable. Because you know, I'm in my thirties and I tremble with panic that I could get heart disease from bad gums. Whatever, these are so much easier than the stupid string!

5. Cake mixes. I wanted to whip up some cookies to take my honey at work, and starting with a boxed mix (while many consider it cheating) is so.much.easier. I love a boxed cake, I will state that shamelessly. You want to make it from scratch, honey? Go on with your bad self. But I am going to Betty Crocker it up over here, thanks.

6. Frou-frou coffee. That's what an old Sunday School teacher called anything with espresso and milk. If you ever want to tell me you love me, bring me a mocha or a latte full of syrup and we will be friends forever. Or at least until it's gone.

7. Reading aloud. I made a commitment this school year that reading out loud to my kids would be top priority. It is a great way to start our day, and I love it.

8. Permanent markers. They just make me feel powerful. Is that wrong?

9. Catching the Fed-Ex man. If you have never heard the saga of mail delivery to our apartment, consider yourself fortunate. It is long and very sad, fraught with much gnashing of teeth and missing packages. The Lord smiled upon me-today I made it home just in time to catch the guy, he said himself, "Good thing I was dawdling, I already left the note on your door," as I accosted him at the door of his truck. Crisis averted! Which reminds me...

10. Amazon Prime. While package delivery is spotty at best, the promise of two-day delivery is irresistible. Procrastinators everywhere, rejoice!

11. Veteran's Day. I'm so glad I live in a place where, with all the things we all disagree over, we unite to honor those true heroes: our military service members. I am privileged to have been both the daughter of a vet, and then a wife. I know both those men would have gladly given their lives in exchange for our freedoms, and it humbles me. I am so thankful that we take today to stop for just a minute and utter our often thought but seldom said words of gratitude.

 Small things are the majority of life. What bits of daily-ness are you giving thanks for today?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

G.I.G.-Day 10

   When it rains, it pours. My maternal grandmother, the one that lives nearby, has been enduring chemotherapy and radiation for brain cancer the last few months. She completed her treatments and we were hoping she was on the way to recovery. However, it was determined that she now has cancer in her lungs. My niece is still in the hospital and my heart is just breaking for my family. I am so glad that we have each other. I definitely think that my faithfulness to be grateful is being tested!

     I kind of just want to crawl under my covers right now, and wake up like a bear when it is spring. However, this is an opportunity to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18) so I will do my best!

Today I am thankful for:

1. Our choice to move to Washington. Being close to family during this difficult time has been so sweet.

2. Memories that have been made. My kids have gotten to see their great-grandmother more in the past year than they had in their lives up to us moving here. We have had the privilege of taking lots of photos, little trips, and creating lots of sweet remembrances.

3. Knowing I am not alone. Texts, comments, prayers. I am always awed by how people, believers, rise up when you have a need. It is very sweet.

4. Photos. My kids are young, and my memory is fragile. I am thankful that I can look back and see these little glimpses into the past and be reminded of all the love.

5. Daily life. Growing up, my mom always told us that the remedy for sadness was work. It sounds a little heartless, but in reality it is the truth. The pull of everyday living keeps me tethered to the here and now, when I just want to sit and weep. It is a good reminder that life that goes on-not that there is not time for grief, but just that it can't rule me.

6. My blog. I am no literary genius. But it is such catharsis to put this "down on paper" as it were. It helps me to process.

7. Sleep. "He giveth His beloved sleep." The sweetest release on earth from a heavy heart, and I am thankful that for those few hours, I can leave it all behind. I know that sleep seems often denied to those with heavy hearts, so I am thankful that I haven't been.

8. Television. I am not going to lie: also a very convenient way to escape reality for a little while.

9. All the verses my mom made me memorize as a child. I didn't attend Awana, so the majority of the Scripture I learned as a kid was all thanks to my mom. And it daily comes back to me, to comfort me and remind me that this is not the end.

10. Prayer. "Take it to the Lord in prayer..." Oh, is there anything better to do with a burden that to leave it at the throne of Grace? No, there absolutely is not. He knows, but better yet, He *cares*. I am so, so thankful that I serve the Lord of lords, and He is willing to listen to me...

   Gratitude does have a way of helping you find a little perspective, doesn't it? What makes you thankful even when skies are gray?


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