Monday, October 16, 2017

The Joys of Gratitude

How would your life look if you spent a few minutes each day pondering what you are thankful for?  Little things, big things, medium things, doesn't matter...  Instead of concentrating on the things that cause you angst and stress, take time to truly consider the amazing things that are worthy of your gratitude.  When you woke up this morning, you could thank God right then for another day to enjoy, to be with those you love, to share God's goodness with others.  Gratitude produces a response in us...joy, excitement, happiness.  The response that is created when we consider the things that stress us out is not one that we want to encounter repeatedly, but who doesn't want to be filled with joy when considering all the things they are grateful for?
I want to challenge each of you to take some time over the next five weeks leading up to Thanksgiving to contemplate the joys of gratitude.  Get a piece of paper or a little notebook and take time each day or once a week to record the things in your life that you are truly thankful for.  Remember to consider all angles because you might be surprised by what produces gratitude in you.  With gratitude comes joy!

Here are a few items from my list to get you thinking:

I Am Grateful For
1. My Father
2. My husband
3. My four living children
4. My two children in Heaven
5. My parents
6. My brother
7. My home
8. The ability to read
9. My five senses
10. My Bible
11. Our car
12. My husband's job
13. Being a homeschool mom
14. The colors of Fall
15. Miracles
16. Food to eat

There are sooooo many more things that I'm grateful for, but this was just a little list to get you thinking.  I hope your list helps you to have the joy of gratitude in your daily life instead of the stress of so many other things.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Treasures of Family Time

Today, we went on our annual family pumpkin hunt.  This tradition started when our firstborn was less than a year old, I believe.  A tradition that has continued now for 9 years.  My husband and I enjoy the time with our kids searching for the right pumpkin for each family member, including our 2 miscarried children.  This year we also got a pumpkin for my husband and me and for my parents.  Eight pumpkins are now lined up by our front door...representing ten lives.  Some lives lasting over 60 years, others lasting less than 9 weeks in the womb.  Lives that matter, lives that we have been woven together with.  To say that our family pumpkin hunt is just that would be an understatement.  It really is a time to bond, to enjoy the beauty of God's creation, to remember those precious to us, to create memories that will (hopefully) last a lifetime.  Family time is not something to be lost in the shuffle of too much activity, too little interest in the lives of your family members, too much interest in the latest happenings on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  Family time is a precious commodity.  You cannot buy, sell, or trade for it.  You can't replace it when it's lost.  It is a priceless, valuable, incomparable, amazing gift given us by the Father that gifted us the precious little people that look like us or joined us through the delight of adoption.  How can anything ever compare to time spent with family, with the littles that look up to us, want to be like us, and love us wholeheartedly?  In a time when Facebook, your phone, your emails, and so many other things are stealing away time that CANNOT be replenished or replaced, take a moment to stop...truly stop and be still and think.  Think about what you truly value, what God wants you to value, what your family needs you to value.  It isn't the latest like you got from friend #212 or the latest photo posted by your sister's best friend's uncle's girlfriend.  Do you really even know her?  Is she the one that gives you a hug everyday and tells you you're beautiful?  Is she the one that brings you a leaf just fallen from a favorite tree in the yard?  Or the one that draws you an amazing picture of the most unique creation you've ever seen?  No.  Nope.  Don't think so.  That would be your 4-year-old son that tells you you're beautiful.  Your 8-year-old or 5-year-old daughter brings you a leaf so you can admire the beauty of the colors like she did when she discovered it in the yard.  And your 6-year-old son has an amazing knack for creating scenes you could have never conceived of in your own imagination.  Yet, that phone buzzes in your pocket and you just have to see what it's all about...
Friends, today I enjoyed the treasure of time with my family.  My gifts from God...my honey and our 4 adorable children went on an adventure.  We went on a hunt.  Could anything ever be as special as that?  Could the latest comment, like, post, or photo compare to the treasure I experienced today?  I got to see three of my babies enjoy a corn maze - an experience they'd never had before.  I got to watch all my babies enjoy climbing on hay bales, see them look at goat and roosters, and observe them tasting a kind of apple they'd never had before.  I got to look in my honey's eyes and know that we were both enjoying this time with our precious gifts.  Time that truly goes by much too quickly.  Friends, this time is THE time.  TODAY is THE time.  Not tomorrow.  Not next week.  Certainly not next year.  The time to enjoy the treasures of family time is NOW!  Don't let another day go by that doesn't involve a hug for each of your amazing littles, a kiss for your man, and some good quality treasure...family time.  You could never regret skipping the dishes, the Facebook check, or the endless emails to take time to truly connect with and enjoy those most important in your life...your family!







Thursday, September 28, 2017

A New Beginning

Have you ever found yourself in one of those seasons that begs you to stay at home and not venture out to try again at relationships and life?  Have you wanted to just throw the towel in, call it a day, and find the perfect cave for the hermit life you're longing for?  I am guessing that if you're honest with yourself you've had those seasons and moments in life not just once but two, three, five times...  Many of us want everyone to think our life is picture perfect.  "All the pieces fit in my puzzle...what's wrong with yours?"  Yet, in the real world, behind closed doors your "picture perfect" is far from being perfect.  In fact, if anyone asked to take a picture, you would find a nice, sweet, hopefully calm way to tell them that your world wasn't the right one for their picture.
I have been the one recently to not want to be vulnerable with those around me.  I have been through many acquaintances and even some friendships that have burned to the ground for one reason or another.  Sometimes I was to blame for some of the breakup, other times I was at a complete loss as to why this or that relationship had to come to an end.  In either case, the hurt was real.  What do we do with the hurt?  Do we put it in a box on the closet shelf to save for later...just the right time to take it out and look at it and have a good cry with our bowl of cookies and cream ice cream with chocolate syrup and a warm brownie?  Or do we kind of just wear it as a new blouse...see my new shirt full of holes and pointing fingers and band-aids?  The thing that I do is withdraw and regroup.  And live in fear.  Fear?  Yes, fear.  Fear that there never will be the right relationship...that dreamed of, sought after, always just right relationship.  The truth is that I don't want to put myself out there.  I have with the wrong people and they've run far, far away.  Is that really the person that I was meant to be friends with.  Unlikely...but in that moment the pain and shock are real. 
Isn't it nice to know that God knows what we need, when we need it, and will never run away from us?  On the contrary, He pursues us wholeheartedly.  He wants a relationship with us.  We need to remember that always!  When the going of life and, particularly, relationships gets tough, we need to hang on to the assurance that God wants a relationship with us.  That should be number one on my awareness radar!  He wants to know me and me to know Him.  When my relationship with Him is on the right course, then the longings for dreamed of friendship can become prayers to a Father who loves me and knows me best.  He knows the longings of my heart and the fears of being vulnerable and abandoned.  He knows me inside and outside better than I do.  And He's got the big picture to consider too.  I can only see just a teeny bit of what He sees!  And my teeny bit becomes my focus instead of Him being my focus.  Keep your focus aimed at the right person, friends!
I have been going through that throw in the towel, forget this phase until recently.  I don't know if the Holy Spirit lit a fire in me or what happened, but I decided to put myself "out there" again.  It feels like the umpteenth time, but if it was prompted by my Father, then I know it's going to be good.  And it has been.  I have started doing three new things in the last month.
I've started attending a once-a-month group for homeschool moms, a weekly group with lesson for moms, and my husband and I are attending a weekly marriage class.  Going outside my comfort zone is NOT fun, but connecting with other people in even little ways is a blessing to my sometimes parched-feeling landscape.  A little trickle of water can lead to a great source of refreshment.  A new beginning has come to this blog and will continue on here.  It was prompted by a conversation I had this past Tuesday morning with the other three moms at my table.  They were very encouraging to me regarding finding the balance of motherhood and pursuing my God-given talents.  One lady really encouraged me to consistently write and so much more.  It was truly a God-ordained moment in my life for me to really hear what was being said to me.  God does use those around us to speak to us in meaningful ways.  And He did that for me this past Tuesday!  If I had continued on in my pursuit of the perfect cave and decor for my hermitage, I'd have missed out on a God-moment meant just for me.  They have come from two of my three new groups.  Moments, gifts, delights for me from my Heavenly Father.  He has seen the parched landscape of my heart and life and has started the trickle.  He has a great plan for me, and He has the same for you!
Call on Him...get your cup of tea or coffee, curl up in your favorite chair, grab your copy of the greatest Book ever written, and take at least five minutes to dive in.  Get the trickle...savor it.  Next time make it ten minutes and bring your notebook and pen along...be still and listen...and take notes.  He is waiting for you to take that deep, cleansing breath and...call on Him...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Moments


Life is a series of moments…  They vary from day to day, week to week, year to year.  There are the moments that take your breath away, the moments that fill your eyes with tears, the moments that draw you closer to your Father, the moments that make you want to stay in bed forever, the moments that bring a smile to your face…  Each of these little bits of time weave together into an amazing tapestry that makes up who we are.  A smell can bring us back to that day we first had fresh baked cookies at Grandma’s house, a song can bring us back to the time he asked for a date, a sound can remind us of little feet running through the house.  These moments, these glimpses of life that happen in a flash are part of an ever growing mosaic that is your life.  They fit together into the perfect puzzle of you.  Some moments you want to wish away, you want them to always remain boxed up never to be looked at or touched again.  You struggle to understand why those moments had to be part of your story, yet you grew from them.  The heartache of loss, the hurt of betrayal, the question of loyalty, the reality of dishonesty can appear to overshadow the fun moments and joys of time spent building with your children, praying with your spouse, adventuring with your family, enjoying an outing with a friend, reminiscing with your mom, praising God with your church family, and so many other precious scraps of time that when sewn together cover us in a soft, warm quilt of comfort.  Thinking about how quickly your baby grew into a toddler and ran into a young adult may cause you to pause and shed a few tears, but always remember each moment is precious and worth investing your whole self in.  The moments of sharing memories with your spouse and dreaming of the future are moments to be cherished.  If your moments right now are filled with struggle, joy, worry, excitement, or a bit of sadness, then you need to lean on the One who gives you all your moments.  He knows your heart and He loves you and He is in your moments every time.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Eleven: Exercise, Day 20

Here's another quick update.  I've exercised 20 days in a row now!  I have ridden over 72 miles in less than 5.5 hours.  My husband is still joining me every night for our ride time.  It's not my favorite thing in the world, but I am now in the habit of doing this exercise and look forward to adding walking or some other activity to my exercise plan.  Now to strike some foods from my eating habits and replace them with healthier alternatives.  God is at work in me, even through the exercise!  Keep checking back, friends!  :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Eleven: Exercise, Day 11

Just a quick note to say that I have now exercised 11 days in a row!  Yay!  So excited!  I rode nearly 3 3/4 miles in 16.5 minutes today.  I am looking forward to seeing where God is taking me through all of this!  He is so good!  Blessings, friends!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Eleven: Exercise, Day 7

I have now exercised 7 days in a row.  To some what I'm about to say may seem unimpressive, but for me, this is a big step in the right direction.  I have ridden my recumbent bike a total of 13.76 miles in a little over 65 minutes.  I know it's a sad place to be when it takes over an hour to go 13.5 miles, but I am thankful for the routine of regular exercise and the discipline of it too.  What a joy it is to know that I am taking steps in the direction of better health and physical fitness!  I'm working toward taking better care of the physical body God blessed me with/entrusted to me.


I have started reading Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas to go along with my exercise/physical fitness month.  I am very intrigued by what he is discussing in this book and find it to be an easy read.  I now strongly desire to find an activity that I can do to increase my physical fitness!  I knew before that I wanted to improve my eating habits and those of my family, but now I want more physical activity too!  I want to share a quote from Every Body Matters that I read today with you.  Please feel free to comment below and tell me what you think.

From page 37: "And that's the promise of faithful fitness. Those of us who have the courage to address this personal issue in our own lives will experience considerable results. Improving your physical fitness will increase your overall zest for life. You'll have more energy for your marriage, for parenting, for your business."
I want to increase my zest for life and have more energy!  Why does it always seem as if physical fitness is like a bad four-letter word?  Why is it okay to ignore gluttony and lack of exercise, but when we see someone that wants to better their body through physical exercise we sneer?  I'm confused!  Should it be this way?  Why not take the challenge and step out in physical fitness?  If you aren't a basketball player, then don't play basketball!  If you aren't a sprinter, then don't sprint!  Find the physical fitness activity that appeals to you, that excites you, that motivates you and pursue it!  Find a friend and go for it!  God will meet you, even in that time and place, and He will bless you and give you new tasks that you might not have been able to do before you took the time to start walking around the block every night.  Think about it!


One more thing to share with you before I go: my husband has joined the bike riding in the basement!  It's been a joy to be able to have him join me in my Eleven.  I'll keep you posted as the next 3 weeks unfold.  Thank you for taking time to read along here!  You all bless me!  :)