Tuesday, November 29

30 Days of thankfulness...Day 29

As this project draws to a close, my last two are two things that are thankfulness concepts God has been working in me for quite some time.  It's really been quite amazing the journey he is taking us on with these issues and I'm so excited to see where He will lead us in the future!

Day 29: I am so thankful that God has given our family a vision to reach out to those less fortunate.

Now...I realize that might sound cliche as many people make efforts to reach out to others during the holiday season.  What I'm thankful for is that God has given me a passion for this work.  It's difficult and draining to serve meals on Friday nights (you can read more about that here), it's uncomfortable to drive around downtown and trying to figure out who is homeless to talk to them, and it's not popular to give your Christmas money to someone else.  However, these are things that my husband and I have felt are very important for our family.

That means, that this year we will take what we would have spent on gifts and use that to bless others through organizations like Compassion International, Gospel for Asia, Samaritan's Purse, and OK Foster Wishes.  We will still get one gift for each child and we make gifts for one another.  We buy presents for our 2 nieces and do a children's gift exchange with parts of our families, but we aren't buying for adults this year.  I want to say right here that this doesn't mean that is what is right for your family or that you don't care about others if you don't do/feel led in this way.  This is just what works for us and what we feel called to do with our family...and it has been such a blessing to change what Christmas looks like for us!  [There is more to this story than I care to share on here, but if you are interested in the journey that got us here I'd be more than happy to talk to you about it!]

Tuesday, November 22

30 Days of Thankfulness...day 19-21

**Note: I couldn't bring myself to finish this post yesterday, but this has really been my "thankfulness" for the last few days.  Sorry for the tardiness of the post, but it doesn't negate the amazingness :)**

Today I am, as my friend Heidi said, "just thankful"!

Last Friday my husband and I drove downtown to participate in outreach to our city's homeless community.  We have gone several times (try to make it at least twice a month) and have begun to foster relationships with some of these people.  We go down and feed them, worship with them, pray with them, and hand out needed items (clothes, toiletries, underwear, socks, etc).  Every single time we drive home feeling like we don't deserve all that we have.

It is so easy to dismiss these people and assume they all made bad choices, are habitual drug users, are lazy, or a myriad of other stereotypes that just don't pan out when you actually hear there stories.  Yes, there are those that use drugs and those that have mental problems.  Some of them might be lazy and have made bad choices.  But they are people first and foremost.  They have hearts and feelings and emotions and needs and desires just like the rest of us.

Serving these men, women, and children (do you know how heartbreaking it is to serve babies and small children?) has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done!  To see the genuine gratitude in their faces over something as simple as potato soup and crackers.  Or to see the smile when you actually shake their hand...you can't help but be touched by these souls.

I've begun to see how close we all are (yes, even you) to being in the same position as these people.  How the simplest of circumstances can alter someone's life forever.  And it's an incredibly sobering experience.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know these people and I'm thankful that God is changing my heart because of it!

Thursday, November 17

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 17

Today I am so thankful for nap time :)

I woke up this morning feeling just awful.  Thanks to God's strength I made it to naptime and a surprise call from my father-in-law allowed me to extend nap time for myself beyond the time my son woke up!  It was definitely needed and I am so thankful that I was able to take a nap today...as petty as that might sound.

Wednesday, November 16

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 16

Today I am thankful for rest.  Today was a very crazy day, but I got to enjoy it with my husband and this evening we got to take a chance to just rest.  No running around loading the dish washer (though it needed it), not doing laundry (though I have 3 loads waiting to be put away), and not madly working on homework (though I will need to make up for it tomorrow).  We needed this!  To be able to relax and spend time not worrying about anything else but having fun as a family and a couple :)

Tuesday, November 15

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 15

Today I am thankful for all the encouraging words that have been poured into my life giving me the peace to realize that, during this crazy busy season of life, I can let myself take it easy a little.  

While I'm in school (and finishing end of the semester projects), working part time, and caring for our house full of boys (including one big boy who is also in school)...I can give myself a little breathing room in ways I wouldn't normally.  Buying disposable items more often will save me when all the dishes still aren't done, using paper towels more often than dish rags will save an extra load of laundry, and planning simple meals will save me from meal planning every two weeks.  I normally wouldn't allow myself some of these comforts (especially the disposable stuff) and I'm sure there will still be times when I feel guilty about it, but I'm going to remember that it's only a season and it is benefiting our family in other ways and allowing us more time to spend as a family :)

Saturday, November 12

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 12

Today I returned from an overnight women's retreat with the amazing women of our church!  Today I am so thankful for the women who went and even more so for our awesome God who (through the doubt and fears) brought us all together and then dug even deeper to allow us all the strength to open up to one another.  God used each and every one of those women and their comments, prayers, stories, and singing to build me up!  Something I really needed :)

So today I'm thankful for these amazing women and our even more amazing Heavenly Father who orchestrates it all to His glory!

Friday, November 11

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 11

Before I start I just want to say that this project has been awesome at making me more aware of the things I am thankful for everyday!  I'm not perfect (thankful for that!) and haven't posted everyday, but letting myself have some slack has been necessary for this hectic time in our life.

That being said...I couldn't let today go by without expressing my thankfulness for my father-in-law!

My father-in-law, Jim, has been like a dad to me since James and I started dating.  Always there to help me keep James in line (hehehe), be a good listener, and love on our kids whenever possible.  He also served our country in Vietnam.  Knowing that he served in THAT war makes me all the more thankful.  He served at a time when it was extremely unpopular, he served without thanks or recognition, and he served his country...in two tours!  He served so my husband wouldn't have to, so my kids could have the freedoms they have today, and he did it all without a big welcome party when he came home...in fact with a welcome that we should all be ashamed of!  He is selfless and will always be a hero to me.
Today I am thankful for all of our veterans who have served our country, for those aren't "veterans" but who gave their time to our armed forces, and for the freedoms I enjoy because they fought.  Thank you!

[Special thanks also to our friends Ginger, David, Josh, and my granpas for their services to our country!]

Tuesday, November 8

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 8

Today it is raining.  Last night we had another earthquake and a tornado warning along with the crazy rain storm moving through.  I've had only a handful of nights over the last week and a half that I have gotten 3 or more hours of consecutive sleep.  I'm tired, cranky, and stressed.  Finding something to be thankful for today was seeming impossible!  Mounting to-do lists, upcoming deadlines, and a general feeling of uneasiness have left me depleted and on auto-pilot.

And then Carter hit me.  This was NOT a good thing, he went directly to time out, but then something amazing happened...Carter started to cry and my little 1 year old Henry started to cheer him up.  Henry crawled over to Carter, then back to the office, shut the door, opened it, and crawled back out to Carter.  He did this over and over, playing peek a boo with his brother and both of them laughing hysterically!  It brightened my heart on this gloomy day to see my boys playing together and to see the compassion starting to blossom in Henry.  I can't think of something that would have been more touching or endearing to my heart this morning than hearing my boys playing together and laughing!

Today I am thankful, oh so thankful, for my children being so close in age and fostering such a beautiful friendship!

Monday, November 7

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 4-7

I'm a little behind on my Thankfulness Project :)  It's for a good reason, I promise!

Day 4:
I'm thankful for technology!  Sounds weird, but without the advancements in technology I wouldn't have been able to see my brand new baby niece minutes after she was born (especially since we live 4 hour away)!  The gift of life is so precious and amazing and it was such a blessing to see her sweet little face and know everyone was doing well.

Day 5:
Thankful for safe travels for our family!  We left late Friday night to drive up and see my sister and her new baby.  We left late Saturday night to come home.  So glad that the trip was safe for our family and we arrived home a little sleep deprived and weary, but in one piece!

Day 6:
Thankful for healthy babies!  We take for granted the thousands of women (maybe more) who lose babies every day or have babies with major medical problems.  I firmly believe that God is in control of all situations, but I'm still thankful when he blesses our family with happy and healthy children.  We haven't been immune from problems with our children's births or from long-term medical problems, but I'm so thankful that they were pretty healthy at birth and that we live in a place where there are doctors with adequate training and equipment to help the ones that are sick.

Day 7...finally!

I am so thankful for my past.  

That might sound strange.  No...I didn't have a great childhood or a perfect high school experience.  However, all the pain and difficulties I endured during my formative years were knit together by God to make me the person I am today!  I had some amazing friends in high school and college that were such a blessing to me and helped me in ways they may never know (thank you...Shannon, Christin, Kristina, Tiffany, Catherine, Diana, Ben, Luke, Lacey, and James).  I owe a huge debt to these people (and I'm sure a few others who's names I can't remember right now) and I pray that God will bless their lives the way He has blessed mine through their friendships!

Thursday, November 3

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 3

I really needed the reminder to be thankful today, even when it isn't easy!

The last 5 nights have been rough in our house.  4 out of the 5 have included my boys waking up throughout the night for various reasons (no water, wrong blankie, too cold, diarrhea, etc.) and last night was no different in that capacity.  What *WAS* different is that we couldn't get our youngest to stay asleep.  If we rubbed his back he would drift back to sleep only to immediately start crying if we stopped.  Somewhere in the hour long tag game between my husband and I, I got the idea that my "hungry Henry hippo" might be just that...hungry.  It was 1 am...we were tired...I was willing to try almost anything to figure out what was wrong.  So I gave him a piece of Chex cereal (one of his favorite snacks).  And he ate it...and then wanted more.

So here we were, both my husband and I (our oldest son woke up when we got Henry out of his crib as they share a room), sitting on the couch feeding banana to our kids.  Carter ate a half a banana and a few pieces of cereal and headed back to bed.  Henry finished 1 1/2 bananas and a bit of cereal and we put him back down also.  Miracle of all miracles--they slept the rest of the night!

As funny as this story is, there were definitely points when I was not just a little irritated that I was up at 1 am feeding my kid banana.  Points when I craved my bed (which I haven't seen much over the last few nights) and peace and quiet.  But upon waking this morning (not in the best of moods I might add) God reminded me why it's all worth it.
Carter found this hat of mine upon waking this morning and has been wearing it off and on all day :)
So today, on day 3 of my project...I am thankful for God's grace and provision.  

I am absolutely not sufficient on my own to raise my children.  I am an imperfect human being at best, but by God's grace and provision I am equipped to do a much better job of raising up these little men.  

Wednesday, November 2

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 2

Today I am so thankful that God has given me such an amazing job!  I work one day a week at a local college doing what I LOVE...cooking :)

My job has been so rewarding.  Getting to know the students, hearing some amazing and touching stories about how God has worked amazing miracles in peoples lives, and being able to utilize what I feel is my one true gifting.  It seemed like such a quick and fluke type of thing for me to even get this job and then for child care and transportation and everything to fall into place so perfectly!  I know that God has me right where he wants me right now and is using this opportunity to grow me.  For all of that I am so thankful!

Tuesday, November 1

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 1

I can't believe it's already November!  Where has the year gone!  This time last year we were just getting used to our new family of 4 and now my sons are 1 and 2, amazing how fast they grow :).  Someone on the radio today said that this was the official start of the holiday season and so I thought I would join my good friend Leah and everyone else participating with Thanks {squared} and do 30 Days of Thankfulness!

So to kick it off, here is day 1...

I am so thankful for my beautiful family!  My wonderful husband who works so hard for us and my two beautiful boys!

My cute little pirate!

After a long night of trick-or-treating sometimes you just have to sit back and relax with your boots on :)

My happy little cow...had a great attitude all night!

 Do you want to join us in giving thanks during the month of November?  Put up one thing each day that you are thankful for.  I'm going to try and post pictures as well, but if I miss a day I'm not going to stress!  This is about being thankful...not perfect ;)