Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 30 - Thankful to be moving into December!

While I have enjoyed being thankful each day in November, I am really quite anxious to move into December.  With Thanksgiving so late this year, it feels like Christmas will be a bit rushed.  So I am starting today by celebrating Christmas each day of December. 
Photo: New smaller white Christmas Tree!!!  Perfect for us and our house!
Today we put up our Christmas tree!  Over the last couple of years we have been using Ken's childhood "Genuine Aluminum Christmas Tree" from 1962.  We got it in the original box out of Ken's parents attic!  But last year our revolving light broke and we could not find a reasonably priced replacement.  Additionally, the tree was "shedding" small pieces of aluminum all over the ground.  Considering that it is 51 years old, this is not a big surprise.  So, we actually decided to get a replacement this year.  We decided to "down size" to a slightly smaller tree - it is 6 1/2 feet tall rather than 7 1/2 feet tall.  And at the last minute we discovered that we both kind of liked the white version of the tree we had chosen.  So, white it was!  I am very, very happy with it.  It fits perfectly, it was a snap to put up (pre-lit!) and it doesn't take up much room. 
I love putting my tree up.  From 1985 on, this was a part of our Thanksgiving weekend tradition.  My mom always came to our house for Thanksgiving and putting up the tree with Grandma Nona always made it feel like she was part of our Christmas celebration.  Neither Gwen or Doug ever got to celebrate Christmas with my mom - something that makes me feel sad.  And over the years, I greatly missed being with her on Christmas myself.  It is really hard to have so much distance and such bad weather keeping you apart.  Anyway..... the other tree that is currently in our attic is one of the last things that my mom used her Montgomery Wards discount to buy.  It was during her visit in 1998 that we purchased our first "slim tree".  So when we were considering putting that tree up, we knew that it has seen its better days.  Hence the new white tree!
So on this last day of November thankfulness, I am so thankful that I get to spend the holidays with my children and grandchildren.  And I am celebrating that we all live within 75 miles of each other.  This is a very big blessing and I don't want to forget to be thankful every day for this! 
Jesus, thank you for seasons and celebrations and festivals and lights.  Thank you for the Bible that allows us to know the story of your birth and gives us reason to enter into this month with great joy.  Holy Spirit, turn our hearts towards heaven and the story of the birth of Jesus.  Help us to see past the secular and the Santa and to celebrate the amazing gift Yahweh gave us - his Son, Jesus.  Amen

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 28 and 29 - Just plain thankful!

It's been a busy couple of days.   Yesterday was Thanksgiving at our house.  A good time was had by all!  As my status update yesterday said..... Thankful for Family, Food and Fun!. 
With everyone assembled at our house, we didn't really do much.  We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (actually we watched it twice - it was rebroadcast and the kids wanted to watch again!).  We snacked and looked at all the Black Friday sale ads and made our lists.  And we ate turkey, of course!  We also got to play many, many games of "Thanksgiving Bingo"!  This was a fun and easy version that Gwen found on Pintrest.  It kept all of us busy for many hours.  It took me over 15 games to finally win one, but it was great fun.  By 3:00pm the turkey was eaten, the dishes were done, the lists were assembled.  At 3:30pm, Gwen and I headed out to our first store. 

Now I know that shopping on Thanksgiving day is controversial this year.  But let me just say that Gwen and I anticipate and long for this day for the entire year.  It is one of the best times that we have together.  I am a bit confused about the drama of "working" on this particular day since Policemen, Fireman, Bus Drivers, Pilots, Taxi Drivers, Doctors, Nurses (and many other people) ALWAYS have to work on these days. So, really, whats the big deal? But, on with my story.

This year Gwen and I did three stores (Michaels, Walmart and Target).  We got everything on our lists, never waited outside in a line (it was only 20 so it would have been COLD!), and were home by 8:30pm!  We then were able to be in bed by 10:00. (As a side note, Gwen didn't really get much sleep. With three kids and a dog, plus two adults in one room......well, you get the picture.  Add to that, she is about 30 weeks pregnant).  So, since we were up at 5:30am, we left for part two of our adventure.  We managed to hit two more stores and the outlet mall and were home by 9:45am.  Again, got everything on our lists and never waited in a line in the cold.  Yep, I'd say we have lots to be thankful for!  
Now, for today's thankfulness.........  I am very thankful for Chandler, the dog!  Chandler is Gwen and Tim's dog.  A very sweet beagle that they rescued.  I was in the back yard walking Chandler this afternoon when I happened to notice something laying in the park quite a ways down a hill from our yard.  I walked down, grabbed what turned out to be a  piece of siding and turned around to look up at our house (not a view that we normally have) and was stunned to see a hunk of siding ripped off of the side of our house!  Yep that wind last week must have broken it loose and Wednesday's gusts must have torn it off.  So, right now I am so thankful that Chandler was visiting and that I decided to walk back there with him.  Because of that, I have the piece of siding.  We were able to call some local people and we hope to get this fixed quickly.   I am doubly thankful that I found that piece of siding.  Our house is 36 years old and I know that they would never match this old stuff.  Most likely a re-siding job is also in our future, but for now, greatly thankful!

Yes, a very busy couple of days filled with gratitude at every turn.

Jesus, thank you for the times we have to stop and really notice all of the things that we have to be thankful for.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the prompting to step outside and watch Chandler and enjoy the crisp sunny day AND find the siding.  Jesus you are an amazing provider and I am so grateful for all the different ways that you provided for my family in the last couple of days.  Thank you for all the people who worked on this Thanksgiving.  Pour out your blessings on them and their families as they celebrate Thanksgiving on some other day or time.  What an amazing God you are to help us in every way - big and small.  Thank you Jesus.  Amen

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27 - Thankful for good health - part 2

So last night I was thinking of 1972 and tonight I am thinking about 1984.  Doug was just over 2.5 years old.  He had a rather serious urinary surgery in September of that year and the hope was the surgery would fix all of his infection problems.  But, alas, it was not to be.  Doug had an appointment at the "Urology Clinic" at Children's Memorial on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Let me tell you that I was NOT used to driving all over Chicago and prior to this time of Doug's illness I had never driven into Chicago by myself.  But when your kid is sick, you will do whatever it takes.  This was our first visit back to see the Urologist who did the "experimental" surgery on Doug.  He was not a very personable man and rather arrogant.  As a matter of fact, when our insurance refused to cover the cost of the surgery because it was "above reasonable and customary" he told the insurance company that it was HIS procedure and how dare they tell him what it should cost.  Needless to say, we lost that battle and ended up paying for the procedure ourselves.  But I digress........ I took the day off of work to take Doug in because it was clear to us that he was indeed sick again. After driving to the hospital and waiting for 4 hours at the clinic, the doctor told me that it was impossible that he was sick and I should just take him home.  Even though he tested positive for infections.  I was so upset.  So I left Children's Memorial and started home.  Only to discover that the tollway was under construction and it was the busiest day for travel.  And the detour I needed to take was........get this......through O'Hare airport (on the busiest day for travel).  So I spent 4 hours on the lovely tollways around Chicago with a sick, crying child in a car seat.  Somewhere around hour 3, I began to cry.  I was so glad to finally arrive home.  A call to our local doctor (who had the test results) resulted in his urging for us to bring Doug to the local hospital for treatment.  At that point, it was clear Doug and I both just needed to be home (at least long enough to stop crying).  However he had a big heart and told us to stay home in the morning, eat some turkey, and to go to the hospital in the afternoon.  So that's what we did.  I was just so thankful to be close to home.  To be in a hospital that I knew well, and to have a Doctor that seemed to really care about Doug. 
(This picture was actually taken at Christmas of 1984.  Look carefully and you will see the IV dripping into Doug's arm (hanging from our Pole Lamp! We willing gave him cheese puffs because he would sit still for the entire time his medicine was running!)  Doug was in the hospital from Thanksgiving until Christmas.  And that same doctor made a way for us to do an IV at home so Doug could get his medicine and we could be home for Christmas.  This was amazing for 1984 - they just didn't do that.  Jesus provided a way for us)
So, once again today, I am so thankful for Doug's wonderful health now as an adult. Thinking back on these days brings it all back to me and I just feel waves of gratefulness. Most people do not really know all of Doug's health history and only a few have heard this story. For me this was sort of a turning point when I discovered that, as a mom I really knew my child better than any doctor or hospital could. It's that "mother's intuition" that is really the Holy Spirit!

So tonight I am celebrating and thanking Jesus for the miracle of my wonderful all grown up healthy adult son! Yes, we have lots to be thankful for!

Jesus, thank you for your protection and your guidance during those very hard years.  Thank you for the plans and purpose you have for Doug and the destiny that you are working out for him.  Holy Spirit, thank you for hearing my heart's cry for Doug in those years.  Thank you Yahweh our healer for the miracle of health for Doug!  Amen

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 26 - Thankful for good health - Part 1

As I have been sharing about various Thanksgivings from years past, I decided I had to blog about Thanksgiving 1972.  I was 18 years old and living at home.  Ken and I were already dating and I was a college student at a local community college.  And I was working at Walgreens.  Each of these facts is important in my telling the story of Thanksgiving in 1972. 

Let me set the stage.... I was a new college student (my first semester) and I was working a lot of hours at Walgreens.  They had just started being open until Midnight and I frequently worked 3pm till Midnight.  And I was dating Ken.  Each of these things led to me not getting much sleep and being pretty stressed.  I had been feeling sick most of October and had already completed several rounds of antibiotics and was still under the weather.  I remember well when the doctor said that I needed to have some blood tests because he suspected that there was something else wrong with me.  Now let me say that I had just recently lost a cousin to Leukemia and when the doctor suggested that my symptoms might be that serious..............we were worried.  So when we received that phone call from the doctor telling me that I had Mononucleosis, we were relieved!!!  Although serious, it was not life threatening.  I remember the day of that phone call very well.  I called my boss and told him I didn't know when I would be returning to work and I called my counselor at college and gave them the same line.  The college wasn't very worried.  They assured me that I could catch up on all my work (which did not happen).  But my boss............well my Walgreens story is one for another blog.  He indicated that I might not have a job when I recovered.  I thought this was really unbelievable since he was a Pharmacist and knew about these things! After these calls were made, I gladly climbed into bed and fell asleep.  I don't remember ever feeling THAT tired!  That was on a Thursday, a week before Thanksgiving.  I have been told that I actually got up for Thanksgiving dinner, but I really don't remember it.  The first thing I really remember is on the Sunday after Thanksgiving - the 26th.  I actually stayed awake to watch a Disney special on TV!  And I finally felt like I was going to be okay.  It was truly a thankful thanksgiving for me (and my parents)!

I hadn't thought about this story for a very long time.  Today as I was thinking about it, I had such a feeling of peace and joy.  Even though, as the time, I didn't really think about the fact that Jesus was the healer and the protector for me, NOW I know that he was totally responsible for my restoration.  And I can even see the working of the Holy Spirit in the path that this illness caused me to walk.  By February of the next year, my life had taken a very different direction.  I was no longer in college and I was working a 9-5 full time secretarial job (which I had for the next 5 years). 

Yes, it was an interesting and very thankful Thanksgiving for me. 

Jesus, thank you for reminding me that you were working in my life, even when I wasn't aware of your presence.  Thank you for restoring me to good health and for providing exactly what I needed at that time.  Thank you for my mom and dad, and their provision for me during this illness. Holy Spirit thank you for helping me to walk on the path that brought me into my destiny.  Amen

***Watch for my blog tomorrow for another Thanksgiving story of restoration!*****

(My Walgreens story is really very interesting.  I promise to share that story sometime in the very near future.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 25 - Thankful for Oreo Cookies.....and fun with little ones


So today I am thankful for Oreo Cookies and all of those smart people who come up with cute, creative ideas to turn a plain old Oreo into a turkey, in honor of Thanksgiving!

Oreo Turkey
I got to help 16 little three year olds create these cute little turkeys to take home.  Ours looked a bit different.  They had a Whopper for the head that was "glued" on with frosting.  The eyes were supposed to work with frosting, but it seemed to just end up being a huge pool of frosting with two tiny eyes.  Then we used frosting pens to make the beak and waddle.  Messy, but you got the general idea.  The most important thing was that the kids were so excited to create these turkeys.  How could you not be thankful when you saw those little faces just light up when they saw their finished projects. 
The best part of this project was listening to the kids tell me what they were thankful for.  I asked each one to share as they were making their turkey.  I heard lots of "Mommy and Daddy" and a few said "toys".  There were a couple who didn't have anything to say (quite honestly, we have some with limited English so I don't think they really understood what I was asking).  And then there were two with special 'thankful for" things.  One little girl said "Teacher Ms. Jackie", who is the lead teacher in this classroom.  How sweet!  This girl has a special relationship to Ms. Jackie and you could tell that she really is thankful for her.  And then there was my favorite of the day.  A little boy that also has some language barrier but does speak English.  He is often seen as a bit of a trouble maker, but I have seen what a sweet boy he really is. He gives great hugs and often comes up and stands by me.  When I asked what he was thankful for, he wrinkled up his face, thoughtfully put his finger on his lip, then broke out in a huge smile and said, "YOU!"   
No further words are necessary today.  Yes, I am thankful for Oreos, time making Oreo turkeys, and sweet little Duvod. 
Jesus, thank you so much for today.  Thank you for your provision of this job for me.  You knew that this was just what I needed.  Holy Spirit, continue to speak thankfulness into all of our hearts.  Help us to see all the things in our life - big and small - that we should appreciate.  Jesus, bless all of these sweet children and their families.  Help me to continue to be thankful every day!  Amen 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 24 - Thankful for a crazy shopping trip!

I just love how the Holy Spirit will remind you of things, if you just stop and ask!  Last night I had one of those nights where I wasn't sleeping very well and I seemed to go from one dream to another.  At one point I woke up and was remembering a day that was very special to me...... November 23, 1973..... 40 years ago. 

Here's what happened on that day.  My mom, my two sisters (Karen and Julie) and I went shopping for my wedding.  We took all the kids with us... that included Amy, Nancy, Susan, Elise and Chris.  And we went SHOPPING - to Woodfield Mall - on Black Friday - FOR WEDDING STUFF!  Okay, were we totally crazy?????? I think so.  But in spite of the crowds, in spite of having all the kids with us, we found what we needed.  Julie chose the bridesmaid dresses from Penneys. Done.  Then we found my veil. Done. We went into one store and found the flower girl dresses. Done.  My sister Karen's mother-in-law Hazel, was an amazing seamstress and she had volunteered to make dresses for Amy and Nancy.  So, we went into the fabric store and found exactly the fabric that I wanted.  Done.  It was a God-thing for sure.  Looking back, I can't believe that we actually thought this was a good idea.  But Karen and Julie were both visiting from out of town and it seemed like the logical thing to do at the time.  I remember, years later, my mom and I talking about this and sort of shaking our heads at how nuts we were to even attempt something like this on Black Friday at Woodfield Mall.  But it must have been the right thing to do since everything turned out so great. 
I just had to include this photo of my niece Susan and I.  Hazel had enough fabric left to make an adorable little matching dress for Susan.  I was so thrilled when I saw that.
So, 40 years ago we had a wonderful Black Friday shopping experience that had nothing to do with Black Friday.  I am so thankful for my family and all of these memories.  And I am thankful for these pictures that help me remember this shopping day, oh so well!  
Jesus, thank you for my family - for my sisters and my nieces.  I am so thankful for all of the times, like this memory, that I have had with them.   Holy Spirit, thank you for reminding me in my dreams about that day 40 years ago. Speak to all of us in our dreams if we are not listening when we are awake!  Jesus, bless Julie, Elise, Chris, Amy, Nancy and Susan. And also my sister-in-law Thoralee!   Amen

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 23 - Thankful for National Monuments.....

Today I am remembering 50 years ago, as are many others.  I was thinking about the actual day - yesterday.  I was sitting in my Fourth Grade classroom and my teacher left the room and came back crying.  She said that the President had been shot.  We all looked at each other but I don't think many of us really understood the impact of what we had heard.  I just remember my teacher (a stern, older lady who rarely smiled and never spoke much, except to teach.  My dad called her "rocky" since she was mostly interested in geology and had us all searching for rocks through out the year) sitting at her desk sobbing! So when I think of 4th Grade I think of this day and the fact that she gave me a D in handwriting!  At any rate, that day my father and mother talked to  me about Kennedy and his death.  I also found out that we were given time off of school so that we could follow the events on television.  My mom and dad worked, but I remember sitting and watching everything.  I remember seeing the casket loaded onto the Air Force One.  I remember seeing the flag covered casket in the Capitol rotunda, and the entire funeral and burial service.  I remember the riderless horse.  And Caroline and John.  They were so close in age to me........ it was so real.

So in 2010 when Ken and I went to Washington DC - my first ever trip to DC - one of the first places we went was to Arlington Cemetery.  I stood and looked at this marker and the eternal flame and it was as if I was back in 1963 watching it happen.  It was an eerie feeling.  And then, when I turned around and saw the inscription on the wall looking out toward Washington DC and across that sea of tombstones, it took my breath away. (As a side note, it was very early in the morning - about 9am and it was already 103 degrees! We were in DC during the worst heat wave they had ever had! So it was quite possible that the heat had something to do with my reaction) This was one of the most moving parts of my visit to Washington.
On this same visit to Arlington we also watched the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns.  It was impressive.  As we watched in the extreme heat, these guards never missed a beat.  I was imagining the same process during snow or rain or storms.  Amazing.   You can read about Changing of the Guard in the link.  I love the last line of this article from the Arlington National Cemetery website - The Guards of Honor at the Tomb of the Unknowns are highly motivated and are proud to honor all American service members who are "Known But to God." I love that this 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment is honoring all that are not named, but known to God!  I love this acknowledgement of God in this part of our history. 
So, today I am very thankful for the way that the United States of America has maintained these National Monuments and made it possible for all of us to experience the events of our nation in a more personal way.
Jesus, thank you for reminding me today of our vacation in Washington DC.  Thank you for connecting our memories to events and dates.  Holy Spirit, I love how you bring clarity to past events and help us to understand how you were working during all the seasons of our life.  Jesus, thank you for the destiny that you have for the United States.  And thank you for the plans you have for all of us.  Amen

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 22 - Thankful for Great Sales - Even before "Black Friday"!

I had a wonderful shopping day today.  I managed to save a ridiculous amount of money, just by watching for that "special" shopping day at one of my favorite stores.  They send out a coupon for $50 off of a $100 purchase.  And they include a 25% off coupon, good on everything!  So I had assembled a list of Christmas items and managed to get many of the things I wanted (as well as a couple of extra things!) The savings were crazy good.  Then, I stopped at another store and found an item that I really wanted and had not been able to find - again at a really low price!  On top of all of this, I stopped at another store, where I had purchased a couple of items (also Christmas gifts) and today I had an email saying those items were $5 off.  They were very gracious and with no hassle at all, gave me the $10!  Yes, this was a Jesus shopping day.
I just love it when Jesus arranges for us to get the things that we most want!  Especially when they are intended gifts for other people.  We don't have a huge budget for Christmas and it feels so good to be able to bless our family with exactly the right presents. 
Many people might think it is silly to think that Jesus had anything to do with my shopping trip today.  But I know that when I trust Jesus to provide in every way, that includes the provision for gift giving.  I feel so blessed myself, and days like today allow me to pass on that blessing.  I am a bargain hunter and a coupon clipper and price matcher.  And I am not ashamed to say so.  I really see all of these things as just the way that Jesus blesses our family. Yes, I am thankful for amazing great sales!
Jesus, thank you so much for providing for our family in so many ways.  Holy Spirit, remind us all that Jesus IS our provision.  Help us to trust and rely on Jesus to be our provision in ALL things - even our gift giving.  Thank you for great sales and savings.  Amen 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 21 - Thankful for a cozy Fireplace!

Today was one of those grey, nearly winter days.  It was actually "spitting" rain when I stood outside with a large group of kids on the playground.  This playground time left me feeling chilled to the bone.  I even resorted to a late afternoon cup of coffee in the hopes of warming up. But it didn't help. I was glad when I could put on my winter coat and head home!  So, after driving home (in the rain) I was incredibly thankful for our electric fireplace insert!  All I had to do was hit the remote and the warming comfort of "flames"  - even though they are fake flames - filled the room.  It only took a couple of minutes for me to relax and warm up.  So, yes, I am thankful for that electric heater fireplace insert that allows me to have an "instant" fire! 

Of course, over and over we are told that our culture has become much to dependant on instant gratification.  There are warnings about what the world will look like in a few years because our children can't wait for anything!  While I would have to agree that, in some cases, instantly having every need met is not a good thing.  But I have been thinking about some areas that are GOOD to not have to wait!

1.  Topping my list tonight is my fireplace.  Yep, I love an instant fire - with warmth and flickering flames. 
2.  I for one, love INSTANT oatmeal.  I know that many people would say how much better the stuff is that needs to cook for 20 or 30 minutes.  But I would much rather have oatmeal in the morning quickly, than not have oatmeal!
3.  I love digital pictures that are more "instant" than the old Polaroid pictures!  Really, we see our photos the second we take them.  I do not miss waiting for weeks or months to develop those rolls of film. 
4.  I am very fond of my "K cup" coffee maker.  Again, just like the oatmeal, I would much rather have quick coffee (fills my travel mug in about 3 minutes) than no coffee at all! 
5.  I am so glad that I can instantly connect with Jesus.  No need for long winded prayers.  Just a simple "Jesus" does the trick!

Jesus, thank you for all of the wonderful quick and time saving things that we have. 
Mostly, thank you for always being there when we call.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to call out to you any time and any where.  And Jesus, thank you for warming me up tonight!   Amen

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 20 - I am thankful for the Bible

So today I saw the news article about Costco labeling the Bible as "Fiction"!  While I am not surprised given the current cultural levels in the United States, tonight I want to state that I know that the Bible is NOT Fiction! 

Someone very near and dear to me reminded me that one of the most important things that you can do when you are reading a Bible Story to your kids is to remind them that the Bible is a "TRUE STORY"! It is amazing how early children pick up on the difference between fact and fiction.  Actually, I think it would be a good reminder for ALL of us, every time that we open up our Bibles, to say - "This is a true story"!  I am sure that we would read with a very different perspective.  

I just recently blogged about beginning to read "true" stories when I was very young.  I remember that these stories always amazed me - BECAUSE THEY WERE TRUE!  So I want to continue to be amazed in the revelation that the Bible is true! 
Jesus, thank you for your Word, given to us in written form in the Bible.  Holy Spirit, thank you for using today's news article to remind me to celebrate that the Bible is a TRUE STORY!   Please remind each of us, as we pick up our Bibles, that this is a history book -  it is HIS STORY!  Amen

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 19 - Thankful for memories.........and a Blue Bird Group Leader!

I have been thinking about 50 years ago a lot in the last couple of days.  I will tell you it is because of November 22, 1963 -  The day that President Kennedy was killed.  I was 9 years old and in the 4th grade.  I was thinking about what I really remembered from around that time - before that event.  And then I remember the above picture. 

I don't have any memories about my 9th birthday, which was in September of that year.  I don't really remember the beginning of school that year, or anything else much about that fall - until the event in the picture above.  I am literally front row center in this picture.  This event was my "Fly- up Ceremony" from Blue Birds to Camp Fire Girls.  (For people in the Chicago area, everything was about Brownies and Cub Scouts and no one knew much about Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls.)

I started in Blue Birds when I was in 1st Grade.  We had weekly meetings after school.  I was able to attend because the leader lived in my neighborhood and offered to drive me home.  My mom was working full time and I would not have been able to be a Blue Bird if it wasn't for that ride home.  For 3 years I had a great time being with these girls.   We made crafts, we sang songs and we just played together.  This Fly-Up to Camp Fire Girls was a really big deal.  In Camp Fire Girls we went on lots of field trips, we earned beads that decorated a vest (and by the way I still have my vest), and we went on overnights!  We actually learned a bunch of folk dances and competed at a big festival in the Auditorium in St. Paul.  And we won some awards!  I visited the Red Wing Pottery Factory, a shipping company in Duluth (large ships on Lake Superior) and we took the train to the Wisconsin Dells!  Really pretty amazing stuff that I would not have gotten to do, if it weren't for that one Leader.  I had to leave this group when I changed schools in the middle of 5th Grade.

I never got a chance to thank that Leader for going out of her way for me. Sadly I am not in contact with anyone from this group of girls.  So this is my official thank you to Mrs. Engstrom! 

A couple of thoughts on this..... don't underestimate the impact you can have on a young child.   This very small action had a major effect on me.  I am going to be looking around for ways that I can touch a child's life.  And now, with my new job, I have lots of chances to touch a child!  So, look around you and see if there is a neighbor kid, or a family member, or friends child or grandchild that you might touch today.  Take a chance and be a memory maker for someone!

Jesus, Thank you for Mrs. Engstrom and the Camp Fire Girls Organization.  Holy Spirit, show us all how we can have an impact on children around us.  Jesus it is so easy to forgot the many, many blessings you have put into our lives.  Help us to remember and appreciate all of these events that helped to shape us and influence our futures.  Give us courage and boldness to step outside of our comfort zones to effect the children we meet.  Bless all leaders of groups like these, that give of their time to shepherd little girls and boys.  Thank you for reminding me of this picture today.  Amen

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18 - Thankful for Goodwill!

Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
Today I am thankful for Goodwill!  We have a pretty small house and several years ago we realized that it was much more comfortable when it didn't have so much junk in it!  Over the last years we have been making trips to Goodwill about 4 times a year.  We have made it our practice to get rid of something whenever we bring something new into the house.  This has helped to keep our closets more clear and our house less cramped. 

So since we need to use our spare room over Thanksgiving, I decided today was the day to clean it out.  That room tends to be the dumping ground for anything that will eventually be taken to Goodwill.  So I gathered everything and made another search around the house before driving to our local Goodwill.  Since our Goodwill is in a rather upscale area, it is always crowded.  It doesn't seem to matter when you go, there is usually a line to drop off items.  And the parking lot is usually full for the store.  Today was no exception.  So after waiting my turn, a nice young man came to my car and emptied my trunk.  With a big smile and a pleasant "have a nice day!", he then said "God bless you for your support of Goodwill!"

I was stunned! This was so unexpected!  I should have been thanking him for taking all of my junk!  But, he was so gracious - and he spoke a blessing over me.  It was one of those times when I knew that he really was sincere.  So I gladly accepted that blessing and returned one with "God bless you, also!"  No question, today I was very thankful for Goodwill. 

I love these unexpected "Jesus" moments.  I went through the rest of my day with a smile on my face.  What a great reminder to just share a simple "God bless you" with people that we meet on the street, at work, in the grocery store, or in our neighborhood.  I was reminded today that these small words can change your day and put a smile on your face.   Yep, I am going to be speaking these words much more often.

Jesus, thank you for that special worker at Goodwill today.  Please pour out your blessings on him and his family.  Holy Spirit, remind me to bless people that I meet each day.  And Jesus, please help us all to remember to be open to share a blessing!  Thank you for the Goodwill organization.  Amen

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 17 - Thankful for a praying mom!

This picture was taken when Lia was just a couple months old!  I love this picture so much!  I am so thankful that we made the effort to have these taken. I got to thinking about this picture today because of an article I read yesterday on the Elijah List. You can read the article here  Doug Addison Article.  Near the end of this article Doug talks about babies that are not yet born.  All I could think about was my new expected granddaughter!  When Lia was born, she was my mom's 20th great-grandchild!  I suspect that some of my mom's 11 grandchildren and (now) 23 great-grandchildren would be surprised to know that she had real insight into the plans and purposes that Jesus had for each of them!  What a blessing it was that she really got to know each child.  After Lia was born we talked a lot about who she might become! I am so blessed to know that she prayed for me, for my children, and for my grandchildren.  How many times have you heard the story of a life changed because of a praying grandma? Well, I believe that is true for our family. 

I believe that this is an important part of parenting and grand parenting.  Once you get a vision for the direction that Jesus might have for your children and grandchildren, you can pray into them. I am so thankful that I saw my mom model this aspect of parenting.  She prayed for all of us.  She listened and cared about what was important to each of us.  She treated each child as an individual and saw the wonder and delight of the direction that each one went.  When some walked off a clear and straight path, she prayed that they would be protected and guided back.  She never judged or lost faith in any one of us.  She truly trusted us all to Jesus.  I believe that she understood the important fact that our children are only loaned to us -  really they belong to Jesus.

So, yes, today I am thankful for a mom that prayed!  And I am so thankful that I can carry on this amazing practice, as I pray for my own children and grandchildren.

Jesus, thank you so much for reminding me, of the many, many prayers of my mother.  Holy Spirit, help me to hold my children and grandchildren in prayer every day.  Jesus, speak to all that are reading this today, to see the importance of covering the children that they know, in prayer.  Thank you for the amazing plans and purposes you have for Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna!  Amen

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 16 - Thankful for Innovative new toys

So today I was doing a bit of Christmas Shopping for my grandchildren.  My 7 year old granddaughter has requested "stacking cups".  Here is a link you need to watch  if you don't know what this is and how they are used - Stacking Cups.  WOW!  Is all I can say about this new "sport".  I guess that my little 7 year old Lia is learning to do this in school!  I read on the Internet that children who practice this "game" actually dramatically improve on their academic scores in both math and reading!  Isn't it great that an activity that kids love, is actually helping them?

I visited a new toy store in our neighborhood.  It was simply a wonderful spot.  There were so many unusual and amazing toys that I could literally spend hundreds of dollars at that store without even making it all the way through the store.  And the best thing about these toys was that they were all DIFFERENT than what you might find at Toys R Us or Walmart.  Yes, some of them cost a bit more, but they were all so worth it!  I saw things that I have never even heard about.  Like "Liquid snow" - which apparently you pour out and as you pour it, it turns from a liquid to snow flakes?  I saw a wonderful new building toy that was suction cups that stuck together.  I could have played with these for hours.  There were so many science things, so many art and craft things, so many amazing books, so MANY things!  And the most amazing thing was that I don't think I saw an electronic thing in that store! 
So I suppose it seems kind of contrary to post about NON-electronic things after my yesterday's thankful post about Facebook and the Internet.  I simply see this as the wonderful way that Jesus works.  He is using all those electronic/computer/Internet things, but he is also giving people creative ideas for new NON-electronic toys.  I don't know the history of this new sport of "Cup Stacking" but the kids are loving it.  And it is benefiting them.  So, I happily bought a set for Lia, for Christmas!  (Thankfully Lia is not old enough to be reading my blog!) 
I remember my mom talking about Aunt Anna and her dad.  They both loved all the new things, as they became available.  My mom always had a telephone in her house, which wasn't a normal thing back in the 1920's.  And thanks to my mom and dad I had one of the first "play" computers - a "Think A Tron".
Hasbros Think-A-Tron Box
I got this for Christmas in 1961.  I was just about Lia's age.  It was quite the thing.  You put a card that had a question on it, in the machine and it would light up the answer - either True or False or the number of the answer 1, 2 or 3.  Boy I wish I had saved this item.  I just saw on Ebay that one like mine is selling for $600!  So I guess that I have liked the new and different toys since I was a child!  As did my mom and dad! So I am thankful for the people who dream up these new toys!

I have been thinking about that creative genius spirit that has been given to some people. Because Yahweh IS THE creator, that spirit comes from him. I love that people are still inventing and creating and coming up with new things. I see this as a present revelation of the creator! Since the Bible tells us that the Kingdom of God is constantly increasing, it should not be a surprise that new and creative inventions are increasing. I get excited thinking about what new things are just around the corner.
Jesus, thank you for Lia and her desire for this new game!  Holy Spirit, thank you for your inspiration that brings about these new and amazing toys that stretch the imagination of children.   Thank you for your creative spirit that you share with us.  Jesus, give wisdom to all those who are shopping for gifts for the children in their lives.  Help them to find these creative, wonderful toys.  Thank you for moments of joy spent looking through a toy store.  Amen

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 15 - Thankful for Facebook!

Okay, I am sure many of you are thinking, "you have got to be kidding me!"  But seriously, I am so thankful for Facebook!  Let me just say that I am really kind of new to Facebook.  It really been all that long, but it would be a sad day for me to not have Facebook.  Why you ask?  Here goes......

1.  I love that I can follow my friends - near and far.  I can stay in touch, keep updated on important events and best of all - see pictures.

2.  I love that I feel much closer to all of my family - even distant relatives - because I am friends with them on Facebook.  Again, news and photos is wonderful.

3.  I love that I feel that instant connection to lots and lots of praying people when I post a Facebook prayer request.  There is nothing better than knowing that almost instantly you can have people all over the world praying for you. 

4.  Which brings me to the the International aspect of Facebook.  Just a few years ago it would have seemed silly to imagine having so much contact with people all over the world.  I LOVE THIS! 

Isn't this just how Jesus would work?  I love that Jesus' plan for us all included all the new fangled things like the Internet!  And the cell phone, and computers and, AND, AND!  We are so blessed!  And tonight I am thankful for all of these things - but focused on Facebook.  Think about it.  The plan was that EVERYONE - all over the world would hear the good news about Jesus and our salvation through the cross.  And now, even in the most remote places in the world, people have cell phones with internet and computers.  They are able to see and hear all about God's amazing plan for them!  And they are able to read the Bible.   What an incredible, out of this world, plan to spread the Gospel.

Jesus, thank you for reminding me of the much bigger purpose for Facebook.  Thank you for all that Facebook brings into my life.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to appreciate and see your purpose in all the amazing things that we take for granted.  Thank you for all of my Facebook friends.  Amen

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 14 - So thankful for a day off!

So today I am so, so thankful for a day off!  I am convinced that Jesus knew exactly what I needed when he provided this new job.  I know that you have heard that I am IMPOSSIBLY tired after some of the very long days I have had, but in spite of those days, having a day off every week is simply heavenly!  Over the last years I have been longing  for a day off every week.  It makes me feel as if I am not really working. 
This has had me thinking about compromise.  In so many ways this new job is all about compromise and weighing the not so great things against the really good things - like the day off!  It is also about knowing what is really the most important thing.   So when thinking about the first couple of weeks that I've been on this job, I made a couple of lists!  (Okay - honesty here once again.  I am a list maker.  I tend to make lists for EVERYTHING!).  So the first list I made was the "non-negotiable" items.  This list had things that any job must have.  A sample of what was on this list is item number 3 - location (within 10 miles of my house). After making that list, I moved on to the pros and cons list.  I am sure that many of you have made this kind of list when making an tough decision.  
So while there may not be ALL good about this job, it is worth sticking with for a while.  It has been a good process for me.  I know that there are many shifts and changes happening right now for me, in lots of areas.  So after looking at this again today, as I was preparing to write this blog, I am feeling much more peaceful.  It feels like I can approach these shaking situations with more confidence knowing that there is a plan I can follow to help me get through to the end.  Yes, Jesus really knew what he was doing, when he provided this particular job for me at exactly the correct time. 
A very long time ago I remember thinking that waiting for an answer to a prayer was so frustrating!  There was a time when I said I just want a telegram to arrive at my door  (you know, not many words just the answers to my questions! #1 Yes, #2 No).  I know that I am showing my age.  Right now, I might say I would like a text in response to my prayers!  But the truth is that I have learned that the answers to our prayers often come in our working out the best answer through a process.  The good news is that we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the assurance that Jesus has a good plan for us.  So I encourage you to make those lists and be willing to compromise when you have a situation that seems to be stumping you.   
Jesus, thank you for your plan for me that included this day off!  What an extra blessings that I really didn't see coming!  Holy Spirit, remind everyone that you are ready and willing to help us with the tough decisions and during those shaking times.  Thank you for your great care and concern for us!  Amen

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 13 - Today I am thankful for books!

Today I am so thankful for the stacks and stacks of books that I have!  I am also so thankful for the amazing library systems that we have in the United States.  This picture is my grandson Zeke at around 15 months old.  He already loved the library! What a blessing books are to me.  I know that I have posted about my Kindle and I DO love my Kindle!  But there is something about holding a book in my hands and turning the pages.   

Part of the reason that I am so feeling so thankful for books today, is that I have seen the power of a simple children's book in calming down a room full of overactive kids.
Even the most active little 2 year olds will sit quietly if you engage them in a story.  Today it was "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom"!
If you are not familiar with this book (and I am sure most of my friends over the age of 40 have not heard of this book), go online and watch some of the videos and hear the songs from this book.  I don't know what it is about this book, but the kids ask for it over and over and especially love it when we play the music with the book.  For me, there are moments of sanity as the large group of kids are silent when this book comes out. 

Books in general are a big part of my life.  I was certainly one of those "reader" kids.  One of my earliest memories (and in fact one of the few memories I have of the town I was born in) is of the library.  When I was in first grade my mom insisted that I be given a library card and allowed to go to the "bookmobile" at school.  This was totally unheard of since kids were not allowed to have library cards until 4th grade!  My mom won that battle and I happily checked out books every week.  During the summer the bookmobile would come to our local shopping center.  I remember sitting on the sidewalk outside of the store waiting for the arrival of that large trailer filled with adventures, in books.  I still own a couple of the first books I ever had as my very own. Even though we lived in a large city, I often went to the "big library" downtown - all by myself!  When I was in late gradeschool, my mom would let me walk the mile to the bus stop, take the city bus downtown to the Library.  I would spend the entire day just looking at books and magazines.  Then, my mom would pick me up on her way home from work. (****I know that this sounds just impossible, but remember that this was the 1960's and it really wasn't that big of a deal to go on the bus by yourself!) I am so thankful for the librarian who directed me to series of books like Nancy Drew and also classics that I might never have picked up.  And I am so grateful for the discovery of "true" stories.  I read about Ann Frank and Helen Keller and Marie Curie.  And I still love those stories to this day. 

Yes, today I am thankful for books.  And so glad that my grandchildren have shelves and shelves of books and make frequent trips to the library! 

Jesus, thank you for books - for authors, and illustrators, for publishers.  Thank you for libraries and librarians.  Holy Spirit, thank you for using books to bring us information and joy!   Jesus, bless all of these special children I work with.  Thank you for providing "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" at just the right time!  Amen

Day 12: Thankful for sources of information that are trustworthy.

Okay -  honesty here again.  This blog post for the 12th is being written on the 13th!  I was simply impossibly tired last night when I finally got home at 9:30.  By the time I ate dinner, all I did was fall into bed.  So this is an early morning update for yesterday!  Another thankful post will happen tonight, God willing!
Today, I am so thankful for people that I can trust - like Tony and Mary Ann Bianchi. 
When I first met these amazing people, they were missionaries in the Philippines.  Currently they are at their mission agency home base in Texas, serving other missionaries around the world. 

IMMEDIATE NEED!!! We are raising Disaster Relief funds to help meet some of the critical needs of the beloved Filipinos on the island of Leyte. We have a direct contact who will personally get 100% of the funds there asap. If you can help in any way or would like further information, please message me on Facebook now.
After years in the Philippines they have many friends and contacts there. When they say that 100% of the funds will go to the people, they are totally trustworthy. If you want to donate through this fund and can't find Mary Ann Bianchi on facebook, please message me and I will get the information to you.
This is a time for all of us to stand together and reach out to these people who have lost everything.  Please add all of the disaster relief workers and agencies to your daily prayers, as well as the people affected by this. 
Thank you Jesus for providing trustworthy means of reaching out to others around the world.  Holy Spirit speak to the hearts of the people reading this blog to be generous in their gifts and prayers.  Watch over all those who are a part of the rescue and relief operation and give them courage and grace to walk through these impossible situations.  Thank you Jesus that you are a God of the impossible. Amen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 11 - Today I am thankful for all the Veterans in my family

Today I am thankful for and want to honor all of the family members I have that have served in the Armed Forces.  Starting with my dad.  My dad was in the Navy during World War II.  Ken's father was also in the Navy during World War II.  My brother Jerry was in the Army, my brother Greg was in the Air Force. My brothers-in-law - Wayne,  Roy, and Roger also all served.  Quite a family of veterans.  And I am very proud and very thankful. 

The freedom that we enjoy in the United States is wonderful and I am so thankful that my family members served our country.  This is a wonderful part of my family legacy. 

Jesus, bless all those who are serving right now in the Armed Forces.  Give grace and peace to their families and surround them with your peace.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to stand with our brothers and sisters who are protecting the freedoms that we enjoy. Jesus, help us to remember to be grateful for what we have.  Amen

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 10 - Today I am so thankful for my house!

I've been gone for the last couple of days at a wonderful, relaxing scrapbook retreat.  It was a great time with Gwen and Susie and some other wonderful women.  A time of laughing, talking, eating, talking, listening, talking, scrapping, eating, sleeping, swimming, resting, talking ........   well, you get the idea!  At any rate, it was FUN!!!  The time away was a break from the routine and from my new job.  I accomplished a lot of scrapbooking - 56 pages!  Yet, it was a calming, restful time. 

When I pulled up to the house, I was struck by a powerful wave of gratitude and thankfulness for my home!  Ken and I are so blessed to have this house.  We bought this house 36 years ago.  We were young and never expected to be here for even 10 years.  We brought Gwen and Doug home from the hospital here.  We have celebrated birthdays and holidays and graduations here.  Circumstances have kept us in this house, but more than that, we have been BLESSED in this house.  When you see the statistics that less than 28% of homes are OWNED with no debt, it seems miraculous that we have accomplished that.  And it was not because of great planning on our part.  As a matter of fact, it was a real roller coaster over the years.  But Jesus provided this home, and he enabled us to get through those ups and downs and that long twisting path that has led us to this day. 

Our house is very small.  There were some years that our house felt VERY crowded.  I always regretted that we did not have a place for our kids to play. But now I am beginning to understand what a blessing it was that we had to stay physically close.  This weekend, listening to Gwen talking to Susie about her growing up years, blessed my heart.  And now (other than the stairs) this house is perfect for Ken and I. 

Even as I was writing this I was hearing - a house is just a building - but the people and the memories make a home! I am thankful for this "HOME" but I am also thankful for the building that houses us! Yep, it changes your perspective when you think about all of the "stuff" that is important to us, that could be gone in an instant.  I've been thinking about the terrible cyclone that hit the Philippines. And then there are hurricanes, tornado's, fires, floods that could take away these things.  But, in all of this, I know who is in charge of everything!  It is really a comfort to know that everything that I have is really just a gift provided to me by Jesus.

I encourage you today to be thankful for all of the "stuff" that fills your life.  Be thankful for your "home" as well as your "house"!  And take time to celebrate all the people in your life that make those amazing memories. 

Jesus, thank you for your provision for everything in my life.   In fact, thank you for my life!  Holy Spirit, thank you for reminding me that even in my thankfulness for my physical house, the most important part of the building is the people and the memories.  Jesus, thank you for blessing my children with wonderful families, with great memories, and exactly the right houses for them.  Holy Spirit, bring comfort and courage and great faith to all those effected by the cyclone in the Phillipines.  Pour out your blessings on your people!  Thank you.  Amen

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 9 - Today I am thankful for aunts and uncles


Today I am thankful for aunts and uncles.  And the reason is, that I got to see Susie with Lia, Ellie and Zeke.  I am so happy that they get to spend time with their aunt and uncle.  And this reminded me of my own experience with my aunts and uncles.  The top picture is my mom and dad with some of my favorite aunts and uncles on my dad's side.  The second picture (I actually managed to get into this shot) are my aunts and uncles on my mom's side.  What I was remembering today were all of the wonderful times I had with my Aunt Mable and Uncle George and Aunt Avis.  They lived right by "the lake" (our cabin on Lake Maud) and I was the youngest and often not included by the older kids.  So often, I got to spend time with Mable and George or Avis.  I loved that George treated me as a "big girl" and would let me play cards with them.  I learned how to play many kinds of rummy and canasta at their kitchen table.  I loved going to their house.  It was a big, old farm house and they had an amazing "sun porch".  On that sun porch was an accumulation of years and years of magazines.  I could sit there for hours and look through old Life magazines and Better Homes and Gardens from the 1930's.  And my Aunt Mable was an amazing cook and baker.  She always showed up to visit with some wonderful desert.  And Aunt Avis made the most amazing bread and rolls - on a WOOD cook stove.  (I can't quite imagine how you regulate the temperature on one of those, but she sure did it!).  And then there was the telephone -  You know the kind where you pick up the phone and "call" the operator by turning the crank?  And then you listened for your "ring" (I seem to remember - a long, two shorts and a long).  Plus, it was a party line and there could be conversations going on with your neighbors.  At any rate, these times with my aunts and uncles were so special to me.  I got to be on a farm and see all the animals - something very neat for a city girl like me.  All that to say, I cherish the times I had with my aunts and uncles.  It is a wonderful thing to know that my grandchildren are benefiting from their relationships with their aunts and uncles. 

So, once again, can I just say that it is an amazing part of God's plan that included an extended family.  Some of the experiences that I had with my aunts and uncles would never have been part of my life without them.  And today, I am thankful for that.  Unfortunately, all of my aunts and uncles are now dead.  As a matter of fact, my mom was the last of her generation (on both my mom and dad's side).  What is on my heart is an encouragement to you to hold on the memories of your extended family.  And to be sure to share these stories with your children and grandchildren.  I am convinced that there are wonderful generational blessings hidden in our stories.  And as we tell the stories, the long-ago seeds spring into life and grow into plants of blessings that live on in the next generations.  

Jesus, thank you for reminding me tonight of all the special times I had with my aunts and uncles.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to hang on to the memories of our families and to share them with our children and grandchildren.  Jesus, help us to see with your eyes, the many ways you have been working in our families throughout the years.  Amen

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 8 - Thankful for people who know me - REALLY know me!

Today I had coffee with a very dear friend that I have known for over 25 years.  It is always good to spend time just catching up.  Even though we live less than a mile from each other, we don't seem to see each other very often.  This morning she blessed me with a "belated birthday" gift of a new CD.  That in itself, is reason to be thankful.  But here's the thing.  She bought this CD for me because there was a specific song that spoke to her- FOR ME!  Not only did I not already own this CD, but I had never heard the song that she said was for me.  The song is by Matt Redman and it is called "I Need You Now".  Here are the lyrics.....
  On this thirsty desert ground,
in a dry and barren land,
I bow down  I need You now
You will call and I will come
To Your river I will run
I bow down I need You now
Oh, living water. Oh, God, my Savior,
If I ever needed You, I need You now
Oh, living water, Oh, God, my Healer,
If I ever needed You, I need You now
You're the start and You're the end
You complete what You begin
I bow down, I need You now
You will call and I will come
To Your river I will run
I bow down, I need You now
Just like the desert needs the blessing of the rain
Just like the winter, waiting for the sun again
I need you now
Just like a river as it reaches for the sea
Just like a song, it needs the sound of melody
I need you now
I need You now
If I ever needed You, I need You now
Just like the desert needs the blessing of the rain
Just like the winter, waiting for the sun again
I need You now
Oh, living water. Oh, God, my Savior,
If I ever needed You, I need You now
Oh, living water, Oh, God, my Healer,
If I ever needed You, I need You now
This is the CD that this song is on.
Yes, this song is most definitely for me, right now.  When I listened to it, it was like a resounding cry from within my spirit.  Have you ever experienced that with a song?  It just resonated in my heart and I felt as if Matt Redman had gotten into my head and heard my very personal cry to Jesus. 
But more than the song, is the fact that this friend was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and knew me so well, that she knew that this song was for me.  Isn't that amazing?  If there was ever a time when I wanted to tell the world WHY it is a good idea to be open and transparent with those you call friends, this is it.  If Becky didn't really know and understand me, she would not have had the ability to hear this message.  You know, there was a time in my life when I had very high and thick walls built up around my heart.  I really didn't let very many people in.  I had decided to be what the world thought I should be.  I am so thankful that Jesus and the Holy Spirit broke down those walls.  Being free of those walls allowed me to enter into friendships and family relationships is a new and deeper way.  And without those walls, I could go deeper and higher with Jesus.  It's scary to think about this kind of openness, but it is so, so worth it.  I encourage you to stop and ask the Holy Spirit if there are any walls that you may have built up around your heart and spirit.  It's worth the process to be really free of this hidden hindrance to all that Jesus has destined for you! 
Jesus, thank you for the amazing work you have done in my life and the process that you are still leading me through.   Holy Spirit would you speak clearly and help those that are willing to break down those hidden walls that are keeping not only people but also YOU out.  Bless my dear friend and remind her that you are so pleased with her!
Thank you for the amazing blessing of our brothers and sisters in faith.  Amen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 7 - Thankful for Gwen and Doug - and the miracle of life!

So I am sure that part of my thankful post today is working with all the little ones.  Yesterday I even got to feed and diaper a 6 week old!  Really, is there anything better than sitting in a rocking chair, cuddling with a tiny baby that is eagerly eating his bottle?  I don't think so.  So tonight I have pulled up these very early pictures of Gwen and Doug.  Gwen's picture is especially important to me.  Ken took this picture the first time I ever saw Gwen. After an emergency C-section and a long recovery room stay (this was a general anesthesia section - before they were doing spinals), Gwen arrived in my room in a little dress with a bow in her hair.  I have always been sorry that I missed seeing her right after she was born.  I was very glad that Ken had stood outside the operating room door and walked with Gwen to the nursery and watched them clean her up and dress her.  So when Doug was born, I was very grateful for the epidural and being awake to actually see him in the operating room.  It was especially important since he was born at 31 weeks and ended up in the NICU.  The picture above is the first time I actually got to hold him.  He was 3 days old.  You can see that his little hand is bruised from the IV's and his face is marked up from the tape and tubes. 

Yes, today I am very thankful for my children.  Actually, I simply can't imagine my life without them.  It is such a blessing to watch your children change and grow.  I loved them just born, I loved them as young children, even as teenagers and especially now as adults.  It's an amazing thing that God sees fit to loan us these precious little beings and trusts us to raise them up to adulthood.  So many times during the years of child rearing, I remember thinking, "I don't think I can do this!"  But, somehow, I did. As with most things, you tend to forget all the tough things and remember the good. And I think all parents hold on to some of those "just wait till you have children" stories.  But as a word of encouragement to anyone in that "parenting" stage.... you CAN do this and you WILL get through this.  No matter how many bumps in the road, or how many sleepless nights - eventually your task is completed. 

Isn't it an amazing part of Yahweh's great plan, to establish families?  I love that he knew just how difficult it would be, yet so wonderful all at the same time.  And I also am thankful that he knew how much we would treasure our grandchildren, once our children were grown and gone.  I so valued my mother's wisdom when it came to raising my children.  Her calm reassurance and guidance helped me relax and enjoy the ride. And I am hopeful that I can be that voice of reason for my children. 

I love how Jesus loved the little children. How he took them on his lap and blessed them.  I love how he valued the little boy with the loaves and fish.  He really cared about and SAW the little children.  So I know that he loves and cares for all of our children.  And he is helping us all along the way.
Jesus loves me this I know,
for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me - the Bible tells me so! 

Jesus, thank you for the gift of my children.  Holy Spirit, comfort and encourage all those reading this blog, who have young children.  Remind them that Jesus loves them and their children and this season will pass.   Thank you for reminding me of this special and amazing part of your plan for my life!   Amen

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 6 - Thankful for cinnamon rolls!

Okay, confession here!  If I have one major weakness in the food category, it is for cinnamon rolls.  They are my "go to" comfort food.  We almost always have a tube of this heavenly goodness in our refrigerator.  I know, I know.  These are terrible for you.  They are chocked full of fat and calories and preservatives.  So many of you most likely are gasping in horror that we would eat these.  Sorry, I just love them!  And I love how the house smells when they are baking in the oven! 
So tonight, after another very long day of work, and after cooking a very well balanced meal (that did include green vegetables) - I just needed some additional comfort.  So I baked up a tube.  And therefore, tonight I am most thankful for the Doughboy.  And these delicious cinnamon rolls. 
Its funny how such a small thing can help you feel better.  I am sure that the extra calories are not good, but the lifting of my spirit is very worth it.  I am so thankful that I am aware of these kinds of triggers.  It reminds me to think before I just consume lots and lots of cinnamon rolls.  But also, knowing that something that is really not that bad for me, will make me feel better, is also good! 
Now I am also aware that there may be some people who would challenge me on my need for this "comfort" food.  They might say that I should be fully happy with the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in me and not "need" any food to feel better.  I am also very aware of the fact that it is a huge blessing to have access to so many foods, as we do in the United States.  I don't take this lightly!  As a matter of fact, I think that because I do know the extent of the food shortages around the world, I fully appreciate having cinnamon rolls available to me.  
This brought to my mind an amazing little visual display that I did with children in an after school program I was running.  The purpose of this exercise was to show the children (and the adults) very clearly what the food distribution around the world really is.  First the children were divided to represent the population around the world. (North America gets 2 kids, South American gets 7 kids,  Europe gets 3, Africa gets 10, Asia gets 20)   Then you pass out the "food".  North America's 2 kids get a large clear bag filled with 150 M & M's.  Europe's 3 kids get 100.  The South American kids get 25,  Africa gets 12  and Asia gets 7.  It doesn't take long for the kids to realize that this is just NOT fair.  The biggest groups of children get the least candy!  I remember the looks on the faces of the adults who were present during this "game".  They couldn't believe that this was true!  Sadly, it does represent the available food in these places.  Then the biggest surprise is when all the M & M's are mixed together and passed out "fairly" all of the 42 kids each get 7 M&M's.  Something to think about. God does have enough food on the earth, it just isn't distributed "fairly"!
So tonight, I am thankful for those cinnamon rolls.  But I am also very grateful to live in the United States.  And I understand that with this blessing comes a great responsibility.  I am thankful for the reminder to seek ways to make a difference around the world.  One thing I am certain of - Jesus is in control of this.  He has a plan and purpose and a destiny for the WHOLE world.  And He is also in charge of the food supply.  I believe that this message tonight is to remind us all that we need to be better stewards of all that Jesus has provided for us.  We need to lift up those that live in places without good food sources.  And we need to declare God's plans for the world! I believe that Jesus is gifting creative ideas to people right now that can solve this issue. 
Jesus, thank you for the amazing food that is available to us in the United States.  Help us all to be thankful when we walk in the aisles of the supermarket and prepare our family meals.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the reminder of the M&M game.  Please release those new ideas that will bring food where it is most needed.  Jesus, thank you for your great plan for the whole world!  And thank you for my cinnamon rolls. Amen

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day Five - Thankful for my bed...........

So, I bet you can guess how I am feeling today, especially since the title of this post sort of gives it away.... yep, I AM TIRED!  I guess it has just been a very busy couple of weeks and tonight I feel like it is catching up to me.   I have had a couple of very challenging days at work, but this feels like more than just the last couple of days.  This is several weeks of being on the go.  Coupled with two intense conferences and a new job.  I had really hoped that my new job would be less stressful and more restful, but so far that has not been the case.   But I am just giving it some time.  However, tonight my body is just saying ENOUGH!   So I made my way to my bed at 6:30pm. While I haven't been asleep, I have been resting.  The good news is that I don't work until 10:30 tomorrow morning.  So I plan to have a lazy morning without rushing. 
At my new job, all of the kids rest from 12:30 to 3:00.  Now you would think that if all the kids were sleeping this would be a piece of cake!  But the truth of the situation is that not every kid goes to sleep and when they don't, it is very difficult.  Let me tell you that one screaming kid can wake a room full of sleeping friends.  And it is the policy of the center that all children remain on their cots during this rest time.  So, you can not hold a screaming child to quiet them down.  The option is to sit on the floor and pat or rub a back and hope that the child calms down and goes to sleep.  They firmly believe that all children can be trained to sleep.  What is already obvious to me, is that some children sleep and some don't.  And all that has been trained is the workers who follow the rules and hold kids down on cots.  In every room there is at least 1 or 2 children who never go to sleep.  So this "rest time" is not restful for the workers.  Additionally, all of the paperwork and planning and preparing happens during this time, as well as lunch breaks for the workers.  Makes you rethink "rest"time, doesn't it?
Today, to just add a little extra excitement to the day, a 23 month old child managed to pull the fire alarm - just as the children were getting ready to eat lunch.  And it was cold and rainy.  I had a momentary feeling of panic since I was not trained on the procedure for fire alarms.  I did the obvious thing.  Got the kids out of the building. So we were outside for about 20 minutes, in the cold with kids who were hungry and tired. After about 10 minutes, someone was able to get the coats for the kids.  However, they did not get the teachers coats!  That might be why I am still feeling chilled tonight. 
As I have been praying and keeping my eyes and ears on Jesus, there has been a couple of things that have become more clear to me.  First -  sometimes you just need to stop.
At the conference (okay, here I go again) a speaker said "When God pushes the pause button, you need to pause!"  So that is why I am in bed tonight.  Jesus made it clear to me that I need to rest.  He knows what I need!  I was thinking about those kids that never sleep during rest time.  I don't want to do that.  So, I will be resting tonight and taking advantage of extra sleep tomorrow morning.  Second - the fire alarm.  There are some things going on in my life right now and I have been hearing the sound of alarms.  Over the next couple of days I will be seeking additional revelation about these warnings.  I want to make sure that I am doing the right thing, even if the exact "procedure" is not clear to me right now. 
Jesus, thank you for the reminder that I need to rest.  I need to rest to recuperate from the last few weeks, but more than that, I need to rest to know how to handle the alarms I am hearing.  Thank you Holy Spirit for speaking to me and reminding me that you care for me and about my life.  Would you help others who might be feeling under the weather to PAUSE and rest?  And Jesus, help us to keep our eyes and ears on you and the amazing things you are speaking to us and showing us.   Amen

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day Four - So thankful for Ken

Okay, this is probably sort of a no-brainer.  But today I am sooooooo thankful for Ken.  This is a VERY OLD picture of us, back in the "good old days" when we were young and just married.  I am sure that you can guess the date, just by looking at our hair styles and clothes!  At any rate, today I have just been thinking about how good it is to remember what a blessing Ken is to me.  The fact that we ended up together is kind of amazing.  We went to the same high school (Elk Grove) and Ken was one year ahead of me.  We had many, many common friends and frequently attended parties and events at the same time.  I had one good friend who told me over and over, how much she wanted to date Ken.  He was "older" and more importantly, he had his own car.  Now I didn't think very much of Ken in high school.  And I told my friend over and over that there is no way that dating Ken was a good idea.  Nevertheless, after both of us were out of high school, we connected again at a party at a mutual friends house.  We really hit it off and, as they say, the rest is history. 
I've been thinking about God's plan for me that included Ken.  Wow, does he know what he is doing!  Even though we certainly don't agree on many things, we are really good at compromise.   I am thankful that Ken has encouraged me to go places and try things that I most likely would not ever have done.  Quite frankly, I never imaged that I would Kayak.  Yet, because Ken wanted to try this out, I agreed.  And let me tell you those Kayaks have given me adventures that I never would have had!  I mean really, how many people get to be in a kayak lifted out of the water by a Manatee? I am so looking forward to the years ahead. I am so thankful for the wisdom that Ken has, and the support that he has given me over the years regarding my work.  Just today, during a very challenging day on my new job, I was thinking about Ken's words to me.  He has assured me that if this job doesn't work out, it will be okay!  Something else will always come and I do not have to stay in a job that I don't want.  That is so freeing for me.  And I know that many people don't get that kind of support from their spouses.  I am so thankful!!!   I love the way that we laugh at the same things and can find something funny in almost anything.   (Aside to Ken..... I am still laughing about the "sleevies").   All this is to say that Jesus knew exactly who I needed.  I am so thankful  for his great plan that included giving Ken to me.

Jesus, thank you for knowing me so well and also knowing exactly the right person for me to spend my life with.  Holy Spirit, remind all reading this blog to be thankful for the people you have given them.  And Jesus, thank you for the opportunity to express my gratitude over this month!  Amen