Wednesday, November 30


Thank you Photo Booth for showing me what no one else could muster courage to tell me. I look like a walrus carrying quads when I'm sitting. So awesome ;)

Sunday, November 27


So I'm putting together our advent for the year...although I think this year's may stick forever. Usually I just give the kids a small treat, we read a Christmas story, do a little activity...things like that.  This year I wanted to make Christmas bags from fabric and put a book in each one. I've been collecting Christmas books for the last couple years, some funny, some endearing, hopefully most will become childhood favorites. My idea was to have a different bag with a different book each day. However, I ran into a couple problems. 1. I don't have enough books yet. 2. I don't have enough money to buy all those books yet. 3. I wanted to incorporate our St. Nicholas lesson into our advent.

I mentioned how we discussed St. Nicholas and his heart for Jesus, and the true spirit of giving. And doing so in secret, to teach us how to be humble and meek in our giving, and always let the glory go to God, rather than ourselves. So we started drawing cards from our card basket and choosing a couple family's each week to whom to play St. Nick. I was starting to feel overwhelmed with keeping up with that, the advent, getting different activities in, etc. So I brainstormed how to combine it all. I'm still working out the kinks, but here's what I've got so far.

I decided to only make a few book bags, say eight, for this year. The rest of the advent countdown will just be in envelopes or a jar with cute Christmas tags all numbered. Then I sat down with the kids and we made a list of things that we would like to do during the season and I reminded them of our secret Santa project this year. I included some that are surprises for the kids, or things that I had already wanted to do together. But here's what our list is so far. We may change it up a little, we're still thinking. But this is what we've come up with, in no particular order.

* Have a candy cane...and share a couple too! (Pass out candy canes randomly)
* Go get a treat & treat the person behind us
* Handprint tree
* Give someone flowers
* Read and act out the Christmas Story (the real one)
* Make a gift for our teachers
* Buy a gift card for someone at the store, gas station, etc
* Game night
* Follow the map of Christmas lights in our town
* Take holiday treats to a nursing home
* Sledding
* Dress-up fancy for dinner
* Make ornaments
* Donate to charity
* Breakfast for dinner
* Give a Christmas book to a child (stranger)
* Hot Chocolate and Smores
* Leave treats for mailman and trash man
* Christmas movie night and picnic dinner by the tree
* Christmas parade
* Make gingerbread houses
* Mail letter to Santa
* Make and deliver dinner to a family in the neighborhood
* Bake cookies and deliver

I was so warmed by the thoughtful ideas that my kids kept coming up with...give all our stuff to someone else, go shopping for old people, etc. It was so lovely to watch their wheels turning, trying to figure out how we could bless someone else.

I will post pictures of the bags and all that when I get it all done. What are you doing for advent?

Saturday, November 26


Something I love about needlecraft:

When I'm making something for someone else, I'm often spending time, sometimes just an hour or two, sometimes many hours over many days, working on whatever project I am making for them. For example, right now I'm making my mother in law a ruffled scarf or a blanket I just recently made for a friend. I am putting a lot of time into these project, which has given me hours, literally, tons of hours to sit and think about the people these are for. Which is leading me to lots of prayer time for these people. How fabulous is that?! Thank you Jesus for giving me the time and chance to pray for the people in my life. Show me what to pray for.

Thursday, November 24

Gifts 1002-1033

I can't believe I reached One Thousand gifts in my list. It seemed like such a far number and on some days it seemed that I couldn't manage to see a single gift. Yet on other days I couldn't take a single breath without sending thanks and praise above. I considered stopping my list; obviously listing my gifts doesn't make me truly thankful itself, but it is a great way to remind myself of all the THOUSANDS of things Jesus gives me every moment, over and over. At first, I didn't ever want to repeat any gift, but as my list went on, I learned that at different times, the same gift could mean something completely different or that Jesus gave it to me for a completely different reason. I love having my list to reflect on, to look back and remember seeing, acknowledging and appreciating that particular gift. So my list will continue. And I will continue it on my blog. So if you are extremely tired of reading them, feel free to skip right on by. But I hope that you also look around with your heart and eyes more open to receiving God's gifts.

Even in times of trials, when I find myself looking at my life in shambles (or what feels like shambles) and asking God, "Why? Why this? Why me?" It is those times that I have learned that my gifts are directly related to my response. Instead of asking why did I not get this, or why do I have to go through that, I could (and should) instead be asking "Why only this trial? Why not more suffering? Why so many good things? Why so many wonderful times?"

For each good and wonderful thing is not deserved or earned by me. I have not warranted anything lovely or precious. Every soft cloud, every cool breeze, every smile from my children, every ladybug we admire, every cough, sneeze and sniffle....these are all reminders of what I DO deserve, but am spared. So every time I get a flat tire, every time I wonder how we're going to make it though the month because it's a financially difficult season, every time my husband works long into the night, every time I am lonely and sad... in these moments I pray that God continues to reveal Himself to me. That I would praise Him that He's spared me from so much more pain.

1002. Breakfast with my little lovey's
Sick with colds on Thanksgiving break
Learning to be wiser with our monetary blessings
Learning about St. Nicholas
Secret Blessings
Jesus speaking softly
Daughter thankful for her brothers
Son thankful for his head 
(Pretty good one actually, where would we be without our heads?)
Closer-than-family friends
smiles from my kids
hugs from my hubby before he goes to work on Thanksgiving
watching the sunrise with a gingerbread latte (home-style lol)
invitations from friends to be a part of their family
overwhelming love
Jelly Bean, kicking and rolling around like crazy
Daughter and Son already vowing to protect her and take care of her
Large families causing me to want for so little and have so much
Yarn- lots and lots of yarn!!
watching the light change on the leaves as the sun rises
A rainy day turned sunny
a sunny day turned rainy
Mercy, oh mercy. Lord, help me to Love Mercy
the option to live for righteousness (2 Peter)
That I don't have to live in/for depravity
husband, loving and kind, earnest and honest, still so in need of Jesus
praying to tears
Renewed friendships
my head ;)

Wednesday, November 23

St. Nicholas

I know it's not even Thanksgiving. I know. I know Christmas is still a good month away. Around my house, however, we just can't deny it. We have to get a head start on all things Christmas and I like to just roll up Thanksgiving and Christmas into one big mega holiday. ;) After all, what greater gift to be thankful for than the birth of God's Son, my Savior? And even though I know it's not accurate that Jesus was born this time of year and all those details, to me it really doesn't matter. We try to be thankful and celebrate His birth with our lives every day, but I love that I can assign a day (Christmas) to make it very real and relatable to my children. We do a cake, candles, put the balloon wreath out, the whole deal. We LOVE Jesus' birthday around here, and Thanksgiving is kinda like a kick off for us. ;)

With that being said, we've already started with some Christmas themed movies, stories, etc. One was the veggie tales movie St. Nick and it was fabulous. My kids loved it, as did I, and it was a great way to start up the conversation and who Santa was and why he's a part of Christmas, which is clearly more about Jesus than Santa. However, there's no denying Santa and I have a soft spot for Christmas "magic." So Santa is staying around here, but I really felt like it was important and that my kids are definitely old enough to really understand jolly old St. Nick's true story.

I told them all about him, how he was raised in a Greek town on the Mediterranean by his parents who loved and served God fervently. How they were wealthy and his parents got sick and died while he was still a young boy. Nicholas was raised by his Uncle, a bishop, who taught him to read and to be a priest. I told my kids how he gave people gifts, small coins and food, often in secret. Then I explained a couple of legends about the three daughters that their father could not pay dowry for. I obviously explained this in very dumbed down, vague terms so they could understand. I told them how Nicholas heard of the girls and decided to give the family three bags of gold coins so that the girls could stay with their family. I told them how he did it in secret, and perhaps one of the bags fell into a girl's sock. When they asked me why he did it in secret, I explained that Jesus tells us to give and help one another, but not to tell everyone about what we are doing. I told them that it is fun to do things in secret and watch people give their thanks to Jesus for these lovely gestures and gifts instead of us.

It was a really neat opportunity to talk with my kids about something very important and afterwards, we watched the veggie tales movie. The movie was surprisingly accurate and did a wonderful job making it relatable for young kids who cannot understand what a dowry is, etc.

I told the kids that Jesus loves us all so much that for His birthday, He asked St. Nicholas, Santa Clause (I didn't get into the Dutch magic/folklore) to help Him give gifts to all the children instead of Himself receiving gifts. My kids (obviously) loved this idea, and asked if we could do the same. If we could do nice things in secret or give people things in secret. I thought what a wonderful way to teach my children to be loving, kind and giving without boasting about it or bringing ourselves any glory which is rightly God's.

So that is part of our Christmas mission, our tradition now. I am letting them pick one or two people or families a week that we will try to secretly love on. They think it's so exciting. I do too. And I love that we can celebrate Christmas with all the fun and magic of Santa, but without losing the glory and meaning of Jesus' birth and life.

Sunday, November 20

Tangled in Silence

Quiet. The house is quiet, only the sounds of an occasional car driving by the front, the breathing of the dogs as they sleep at my feet, my hook moving in and out, turning and creating stiches, working together to create something lovely.

The only deliberate noises are the melodies of the worship music coming through the speakers on my computer as I crochet. All day I've been looking forward to these moments. These quiet minutes that I sit alone, praying, breathing, crafting. Except I didn't expect what the next sounds I would hear would be.

Pandora plays a new vocalist, well new to me. Britt Nicole. I've never heard her, so I turn it up just a bit and listen for a few seconds to decide if I will vote thumbs up or down.

"...stole your smile and left you cryin'. It's not your fault, but shame is all you got now."

I stop short and click to see the full lyrics. My ears are tuned in more intently now and I feel a nudge.

This is for me.

I argue, no, it's not really completely for me. Because it IS my fault. At least, partly. So this song isn't for me. This moment wasn't orchestrated.

I listen further.

"Your heart is tangled up in silence..."

Truly. Tangled in silence for many years.

"I know it's easier to hide, but you gotta let go and see the light."

Easier to hide, but feels like war at the same time. A constant conflict. What light? There will be no light. No point. Nothing good will come. It's been too long. It makes no sense.

"So many years of quiet, building up like a fire inside. You're feeling like you gotta let it out now. Just let it out."

Jaw has been years. Why would this song say how long this person has been hiding this pain? Heavy, a burning weight on heart, soul. Draining. Let it out. I want to. I want to scream it from the top of a mountain sometimes. But why? What good would it do? I don't want attention, pity, judgement. I feel scared. Alone.
I thought it would go away. It did at first. Not anymore. It's only worse. Every day...harder. Painful. But it makes no sense. I'm scared.

"You're locked inside of all this fear, inside your crying out, your mind's at war...brave, brave, waters all around you, I'll stay. I'll keep you from sinking down."

Okay. This is for me. This is my moment.
This was orchestrated.

I'm still scared.

Thursday, November 17


A Cure for the Pain
Jon Foreman

I'm not sure whyit always goes downhill 
Why broken cisterns never could stay filled 
I've spent ten years singing gravity away 
But the water keeps on falling from the sky 

And here tonight while the stars are blacking out 
With every hope and dream I've ever had in doubt 
I've spent ten years trying to sing these doubts away 
But the water keeps on falling from my eyes 

And heaven knows, heaven knows 
I tried to find a cure for the pain 
Oh my Lord, to suffer like You do 
It would be a lie to run away 

So blood is fire pulsing through our veins 
We're either riders or fools behind the reigns 
I've spent ten years trying to sing it all away 
But the water keeps on falling from my tries

And heaven knows, heaven knows 
I tried to find a cure for the pain 
Oh my Lord, to suffer like You do 
It would be a lie to run away 
A lie to run, it would be a lie 
It would be a lie to run away 

It keeps on falling 
Water keeps on falling from my eyes 

And heaven knows, heaven knows 
I tried to find a cure for the pain 
Oh my Lord, to suffer like You do 
It would be a lie to run away 

Sunday, November 13

Horses stole my Heart

I grew up surrounded by people who owned and rode horses. A few of my very early jobs were taking care of and exercising neighbors' horses. Riding lessons were my favorite activity I ever did, I spent hours sketching horses in sketch book after sketch book and riding such a majestic animal into wide open areas with no agenda, just room and time to roam was my sanctuary growing up. I have always dreamed of owning horses. Someday I will. ;)

Well, when we were in Oklahoma, my parents are surrounded by neighbors who also own horses and every day, multiple times each day, we would take the golf cart or walk the six (ish) acres to greet them with carrots and nuzzles in our hands.

The kids loved it, and I was in heaven. My breath really stopped a little short each time and I ached to be able to spend time with them all the time. It was such a memorable and enjoyable experience.

My parents' home from the front

Later that afternoon, Poppa pulled out a book he wrote for me when I was a child. It's called The Tale of Loveland and I adored it! It was so neat to watch the kids enjoying the story as much as I did.

Monday, November 7

Gifts 968-1001

Enduring faithfulness
Morning walks and rides with the family
enjoying a sunny but cool break from the rain
not losing my temper when I really thought I would
my 'tree' (christmas, fall, halloween...etc)
forgotten God
ignorance...shows God's wisdom
pulling out extra blankets for cold nights
footie pajamas
dish soap for bubbles
fights with hubby
snickerdoodle blondies
inspiring blog posts
learning that some secrets are kept because of the fear that God is not as big as that secret
Realizing that He is bigger
Not saving face
not worrying about how others see me or think of me
but only that they are thinking of God when they do
still trying
helping in daughter's class
praying with and for Daughter each morning before school
teaching her to be a witness so much earlier than I had anticipated
Public school
so many opportunities to teach her to have compassion
Her teacher's dedication
cinnamon bear scentsy
cinnamon vanilla iced tea
Christmas sparkle coming out around my house
Anticipating Jesus' birthday

30 days of gratefulness...Photo Inspiration

Yeah yeah, another photo challenge. They are everywhere and I've never met someone who hasn't done or seen one yet. I don't know why but they usually end up being overwhelming to me. Maybe because I don't have a smart phone, a decent camera on my phone or internet on my phone. Taking a picture every day involves getting out my Nikon (the only camera I own) and taking a pic and then uploading it to my computer and posting it. A little tedious and honestly, I have a million and three other things to do than take a picture of something green on Tuesday and make sure to post it for everyone. So I've fallen off the photo "challenge" wagon one too many times. Don't get me wrong, I love to take pictures and do so just about every day, but my phone only holds a few at a time and I only upload once a week from my camera, if I'm on top of it.

Anyway, I also love all the daily things I'm grateful for posts this time of year, but I'm still working on my 1000 gifts list and it's pretty much the same thing. So I'm basically a social networking "challenge" failure.

Until today...well maybe I shouldn't speak too soon, but I found this photo/gratefulness challenge and loved it!! Dani over on Positively Present posted this challenge and said a lot of things that, while they are just words and don't really change this challenge all that much, still encouraged me and appealed to me. She said to not think of this is a photo challenge but rather something to inspire you to live presently, appreciating the small things daily. She also made sure to point out that you can start when you want, post where you want and finish when you want. She said she is posting at the END of the thirty days!! LOVE it!  So here it is: Snap a picture of these 30 things to be thankful for, and be encouraged to look for more each day and inspired to live right now so that you don't miss any!

Join me if you like!!

PS: I have NO idea how often I will post, but here's my day one:

At least these are some of my favorites this time of year ;) And TJ's Pumpkin Butter...not pictured, silly me :/

Friday, November 4

Gifts 930-967

Soft peach colored roses, dancing outside the window
Birds flitting to shelter from the rain
Wild sunflowers bobbing in the breezes
Insight that has only come from above
Seeing a spirit so warm and kind
Quiet evenings with my Savior
Pulling over on the side of the road to worship
The Divine Romance I've found myself in
Praying fervently, until tears are streaming
fresh scent of laundry while I'm folding
Cooking meals ahead for my family
Sharing with others
giving up...not knowing what to do or where to turn
feeling God lead me
sorting and cleaning out kids' rooms
unexpected afternoon naps
missing my children while they're away
chamomile tea and raw honey
pinching pennies 
learning to live with less
watching my electric bill online
revealing secrets
trying to live as an open testimony to what I believe
the road less traveled
getting back up after falling
love...unconditional love

Tuesday, November 1

Day Four

I never finished the pics from our Oklahoma trip! Agh! dad called me today to tell me that he saw, smiled at and waved to Garth Brooks at a little pizza joint on his lunch break today. All I could say was "Oh my goodness!" over and over. I'm so jealous. And I so need to move to Oklahoma. I think Garth and Trisha and Hubby and I would become fast friends. His daughters would always be wanting to play with and perhaps even babysit our kids...Hubby would cook up some delicious family BBQ's that we'd invite them over for, they'd have us over for songs around the firepit. And then we'd three-way call PW to join us for a fun family day. 

Anyway...on the fourth day my Dad took the day off work and took us to the air and space museum. It was small, but oh so fun!! The kids had a blast, it was really interactive and the veterans that were working there were so adorable. :)

It really brought a smile to my dad's face to see the kids so interested in everything, considering that he has worked in aerospace his whole life. Right when my dad and I were trying to scoot us out the door to go grab lunch, the kids spotted these Pratt-Whitney engines. They HAD to go see them. No buttons, No noises, No movement and it was just about their favorite part of the museum. They were fascinated! lol

After the museum, my dad treated us to a delicious southern style, hole in the wall fish place. Everything was fried and served with a side of hush puppies and cajun rice. It was heavenly and quite the treat compared to our regular dinner fare. I lived it up with the fried fish combo platter (truly a platter), my kids however, much preferred sharing my dad's grilled fish skewer. Ah, I've raised them so well. ;)

When we got home, Baby napped and the big kids gardened with my mom.


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