Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness Day 24: Love

Photo by Peace
I am so thankful to day to have the unconditional love of God as my Heavenly Father. I am thankful to be forgiven and set free, and to have His peace and strength throughout my days.

I am thankful for the love of my family and friends. It means everything to me to have all of you in my life! 

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankfulness Day 23: Thanksgiving Past

Two years ago- trip to Mexico and my last picture with my grandparents while my Grandpa was still with us.

Thanksgiving is full of traditions for most people, but in our  family, plans tend to change every year. My parents have often spend Thanksgiving Day working at a community dinner and my siblings usually spend the day with their in-laws. Most years we do have a special dinner together, but on a different day and sometimes it's enchiladas! Several times we have used the long weekend as a little vacation with just our kids--to Portland, or the mountains to play in the snow. Twice we have celebrated in Mexico with my cousins (turkey and tamales!). Last year my brother started the first annual "Crepesgiving"--the day after when you make a huge stack of crepes and stuff them with all your Thanksgiving Day leftovers. Although it's always  a little different, I am thankful for the fun and special memories over the years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful Day 22: A Cup of Tea

My favorite mugs with my favorite animals, given to me by my family

Today, and everyday, I am thankful for cup after cup of steaming tea! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful Day 21: Laughter

Gabriel during his Age of Inventions

I came across this picture and it's just how I feel with a cold tonight. I am thankful for my family who keeps me laughing!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankfulness: Adventures in Narnia

2008 Mrs. Beaver

Peace's dance group performed at the mall today to promote their upcoming holiday showAdventures in Narnia . It was a fun surprise for me when she filled in last minute for someone else and played Mrs. Beaver, a role she had a couple years ago. It was such a cute comical part and we all just loved seeing her as the fussy, roly-poly, grandmotherly character in the show.

Today I am thankful for the opportunities the girls have had to dance in "Narnia" , and the things they have learned along the way, including being willing to jump back into an old part unexpectedly!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankfulness Day 19: Sisters

I'm thankful for these girls, who spend a lot of time laughing together!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful Day18: Brothers

I'm thankful for these boys!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Day 17: A Little Break

Today I'm thankful for a couple hours break while my mom takes Ryland to his Karate class-- I really needed to relax a bit!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankfulness Day 16: A Warm Home

It's so chilly today, cold rain and maybe snow in the next few days (which you can be sure will inspire a post of great thankfulness from this Canadian girl). As I open the door, glad to be able to stay home the rest of the day, I think of those who face the night without shelter. Those who bundle up the best they can under a bridge or in an alley, or in a city of tents. 

Tonight I am thankful for the warm, safe and comfortable home my family has. I am also thankful for the many people who work so hard to help the homeless, both here and overseas. Whatever the reasons are that brought  a person to their place of need, I am thankful for those who offer them grace, a warm meal and a place to sleep- just enough hope to make it through another day, and maybe for some, the strength or resources to move toward a different  life. 

I am thankful for my parents who took us along  to rescue missions, to give out food at reservations, and good news at rehab centers. I'm thankful that they took us to an orphanage in Mexico, and to the surrounding tent camps where families  lived under tarps, searching daily  for food and wood. We held babies and scooped oatmeal for the children. I'm glad they didn't keep us from seeing poverty and they showed us how to put our concern into action. 

I am thankful for the experience of living and working in a teen shelter in Hollywood. I learned to see tender, broken hearts underneath the desperate situations the kids were in. Sometime we were able to help them get on a better path, sometimes they could only handle a meal, a blanket, a hug, a place to sleep it off and they were back to the street in the morning. But for a night, they could be safe and warm and part of a family of sorts. 

I am thankful for having had enough hard times that I can have compassion.  To have had  times where we didn't always know how we would pay our bills and to have been blessed by the care of others. Once we were on a trip back from Colorado in our old car and ended up stranded a hotel in Wyoming in a snowstorm for several days (not fun at all with 2 little kids) and thinking without the gracious help of family, we would have run out of money and been really stranded. 

I'm thankful for my parents, who have a non-profit called Free People . They get people  involved in helping the needy in all kinds of ways. They give of their lives-feeding, listening, lending help, offering spiritual guidance each week. I know there have been many who have simply needed someone to be there and treat them with dignity and not just look right through them. ......It's tiring and it's heartbreaking and only sometimes there's a happy ending to a story. But  it's always a good day when the Free Food and Music sign is up at the park or the Wow Hall!

I'm thankful for my husband who gives of his time and sound business to provide support for this ministry and others. Last night he provided sound for a fundraising event for the cold weather shelter. His generosity and that of many, many others who give indirectly  is what makes it possible to provide help to many.

I am thankful for the moms who make muffins and cookies and kids who make scarves and sandwiches. I am moved to tears when we walk down under the bridge and volunteers are cooking for 500, playing music, sorting clothing donations, cutting hair, painting kids faces and filling balloons. I am reminded that we are all the same on the inside. We all want  to know  like someone cares.

I am also thankful for many who serve the poor in other countries. Our friends the Clays, with Apparent Project, work in Haiti-- finding  ways for families to be able to work and keep their children and to provide housing for those affected by the earthquake.

Tonight as my family members come in out of the rain, eat a warm meal and curl up under a soft blanket, I am thankful for our cozy home and I don't take it for granted.

  Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankfulness Day 15: Even When I Don't Feel Thankful

The beauty of looking at things a different way           Photo By Peace

Over the past two weeks I've written about things I'm thankful for, the easy obvious things, and  it's true that I am very blessed. More than just looking for something to add to my my list, I have been trying to change my attitude my having a  grateful  heart in all things. When I find myself unhappy, frustrated, disappointed or overwhelmed, I have been trying to shift my thoughts to a place of thankfulness--not a feeling, but a choice of where to put my focus.

When I feel like I am failing
When I have more to do than I can do in a day
When my child is angry
When messes pile up
When plans fall through
When my family is sick
When things break

I can choose to be thankful

 For the place I'm in, the struggles that will strengthen me,
 For all things working for good
That I have these loved ones
That I have these things
That I have these opportunities

So as I look ahead to this day: cooking, cleaning, teaching, driving kids to things, getting groceries.... an ordinary day, but there are so many things I can thank God for and that is what will make today feel like the amazing gift it is.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness Day 14: Ryland

I am thankful to have Ryland in our family! At this time last year, we had seen his picture and said that we would be interested in finding out more about him. Now it sometimes feels like he's been here forever because he fits into our family so well.

Ryland has a big personality-- talkative, curious and silly. He knows what he wants and likes to be in charge! He loves to learn and asks a lot of questions. He is very affectionate and likes to wrestle with Dad and Gabriel every chance he gets. He loves to hear stories and make up his own. He loves to run and is interested in all kinds of sports and super heroes. He makes friends everywhere we go. He loves animals, especially dogs. And, as I write this, he wants you all to know that he likes ice cream!

Ryland and I have fun playing games, getting outside and cooking together. I love his smile,and his happy singing and dancing. He has a precious heart and I am blessed to be his mama!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankfulness Day 13: Bethany Peace

Today I am thankful for my daughter Peace, who changed her own name at three years old!  She is a peaceful girl, gentle but fierce when she wants to be. I love to spend time with her.

Peace is unique and confident and doesn't worry about what people think of her. She's not afraid of anything and  wants to travel the world. She is a thoughtful friend and kind to people, enjoying babies and time with grandparents. Peace never stops dancing and when she's on stage her face lights up in such a beautiful way. When she gets a role in a play, it's always the sweet but sassy one. She is creative, always drawing, taking photos, painting and writing and full of ideas. I'm proud to see her working hard to balance her artistic side with being organized and dependable.

Peace looks for beauty and finds it in nature. She reads constantly, drawn to stories of  fairies and dragons and strong warrior girls. She has many dreams and I am enjoying seeing her grow into all that she is meant to be. I'm excited to see where her adventurous spirit will take her in life!

Thankfulness Day 12: Gabriel

Today I am thankful for my 16 year old son, Gabriel. I am a blessed mama in that he gives me a couple of really great hugs every day, and when he does, I am amazed at how tall and strong he is!

Gabriel is my quiet one. He really enjoys time alone, but when he opens up it's a gift we all enjoy. I am always interested to hear his thoughtful opinion on things. He has a quirky sense of humor and makes us laugh so much. He has the biggest imagination and is always full of all kinds of ideas. He is an example to me of a person who doesn't judge or criticize, but always finds the good in people. He is serious and very disciplined about the projects he works on. He is quick to help around the house without being asked and do his schoolwork without complaining. He is playful and patient with his new little brother. He is a gentleman to me and his sisters.

Gabriel has a wide range on interests and talents--many of which involve computer things that I will never understand, but like to hear his enthusiasm about them. I  like to see his creativity when it comes to writing, art, graphic design and music. It will be interesting to see what opportunities he has with all these things as time goes on. But for now, I am just enjoying these years with him, buying a lot of groceries, and treasuring every hug and smile!

Thankfulness Day 11:Jessamyn

I am thankful for my first born girl, Jessamyn . I love her as my daughter and my friend and it's so nice to have her home from her world travels, at least for a while!

I admire so many things about Jessamyn.She is independent and confident and honest. She is so creative and has a unique style. She loves to be with people and knows just how to put together a fun party. She is a beautiful dancer and passionate about her beliefs. She is brave and takes  risks. She is thoughtful and generous and has a great sense of humor. She is organized and dependable. 

Jessamyn is the first child I've raised to adulthood and I am proud of the young woman she is becoming. She uses her strong will  to make good choices (something I sure prayed for many days when she was young!) She has an open heart to learn and grow, and love those around her. 

I am thankful for her beauty and sparkling personality and I look forward to see all she will be in her life!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankfulness Day 10: My Kids

                                                        Picture by our talented  friend, Dodi

One of the big kids said something about them being The Three Gingers and Ryland quickly added that he was the Gingerbread Man! 

I'm honored to be the mom of these four amazing kids. Every day they inspire me, make me laugh and teach me things. I'm thankful to have the relationships that we have and the time to be together. I am truly blessed by each one of them!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thankfulness Day 9: Scott

Posted by PicasaToday I am thankful for my husband Scott. He makes me laugh everyday. He calls and tells me to look at the sunset or the moon rise or the snowflakes or rainbows. He watches the roadside wild flowers and picks me a bouquet at just the right time. He brings me his morning espresso for a sip because he knows that's all I want. He is generous and hard working and is a fun loving dad to our kids. He encourages me and supports me in the the things I want to do.  I appreciate how he has been willing to grow together through our 21 years of marriage--richer and poorer, sickness and health, better and worse-- and how he loves me for who I am. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Thankfulness Day 8: Perspective

Daydreaming: view from our balcony in Hawaii

Today was a challenging day, but looking for things to be grateful for helped me focus on the blessings I have!

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Thankfulness Day 7: Play

 Teaching, reading, playing games, taking walks,cooking and doing crafts with kids are things that come pretty naturally to me, but sitting and playing with toys somehow seems harder. I know I'm not the only one and  I'm not sure why it is that way, but kids  sure like it when you take the time to do the thing they want to do.  The older kids always had each other , so it surprised me at first when Ryland was looking for someone to play toys with. His speech therapist also suggested that we use the process of play to help him progress with his use of language (grammar, things like opposites, etc.)

We had this train set out and I took a little time to sit with him and before I knew it a story began to grow. We needed pennies to buy blocks to build towns and the bucket of plastic animals for a farm and wolves in the wooden tree forest. A boy was taking a train ride for his 8th birthday and choosing his favorite animal when the bad guys attacked..... and he became a police kid, and the train crashed.....

Sometimes I can be so focused on accomplishing things or not letting the mess get to out of control. Today was a good reminder to me how time to play is good for both of us.

My sister Rebeca, wrote her thankful blog (featuring my cute nieces and nephews) today about children's imagination. We must be kindred spirits!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thankfulness Day 6: Giving

Every month we give Ryland a certain amount of allowance--some to spend, some to save and some to give. He had saved up $12 in his giving envelope and was very happy to donate it toward filling a box with gifts for a boy his age through Operation Christmas Child. He went to the store with me and picked out things he would like and was quite excited to fill the box, including a picture of us, and take it to church this morning.

Our family has been very blessed in many ways and I believe doing things like this throughout the holidays not only will help someone else, it helps kids learn to be generous instead of just thinking about how much they can get get under the tree. The older kids have been more than wiling to  give of both their time as well as have less materially in the past few years so we can share more.  I'm glad to see them have that value for themselves.

I'm looking forward to this first holiday season with Ryland.... so much fun to share. This morning he was telling me how the Sunday School kids will be singing some songs they are practicing: Silent Night and something about jumping over a mountain! (Go Tell it on the Mountain). I am also listening about the holidays in his  past so we can do some things in a way that's familiar to him.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thankfulness Day 5: Flowers in November

                                                         View from our front door

Having grown up in a much colder climate, I am always amazed and thankful that we still have flowers in November, and a few that will probably survive the winter. I'm especially liking the yellow and red  sunflowers we planted aloing the street this year.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Thankfulness Day 4:Joy

Visiting a coffee plantation in Hawaii

This morning two ads caught my eye:
INSTANT JOY (choose 10% off my entire purchase, or $10 off my $40 purchase or $30 off my $80 purchase)
JOYLICIOUS (trademarked) (the bliss my heart can experience when I bite in to a poptart--really?)

As the holidays aproach, retailers are already promising us love, joy, and peace, family harmony, beauty and all our wishes come true if we will only shop at thier store.

May we remember things that bring true and lasting joy in our hearts , even when life's circumstances are hard:

The peace of God
Unconditional love
The gift of time with family and friends
The beauty of creation
The fulfillment of helping others
Freedom and opportunity
A child's smile

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thankfulness Day 3 : Backyard Tree

This is the view from our dining room window. This maple tree is so pretty through each season: the new tiny leaves of spring, the dark green shade in summer, now beginning to turn red. When it's bare in the winter we can see lights of the two story houses back behind us, which makes me appreciate the privacy we have the rest of the year.

As long as we put food out, this tree is a playground for many bluebirds and squirrels. It's been a good climbing tree and hiding place for certain boys, and a perfect spot for agirl with a book and a glass of iced tea on a sunny day.

We like this tree so much we have another ready to plant in the back and have planted a similar, more golden, one in the front. It's already grown a lot and will soon give us shade.

I'm thankful to live surrounded by trees, to watch them grown and change and for our family to put down our roots in this home.
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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Thankfulness Day 2: Morning

I am a morning person. I like to be up early…not everyone in my family feels the same, but they all do on the weekdays so we can have time together.

As our kids became teenagers, they all began to have their own evening activities and Scott started working later. This made it hard to have a family dinner with all of us many nights. So our solution became having breakfast together in the mornings. We make our tea, coffee, and breakfast for those who are ready and gather around the table or in the living room. Some may be wrapped in blankets, sleepy. We use the time to talk about anything and everything. Some may be on a laptop sharing a news story, checking in with each other about as our calendars or budget, planning the day’s or week’s  events. Sometimes we don’t say a lot, sometimes we end up having a deep and meaningful conversation. Then it’s time to send Dad out the door with hugs and a check to make sure he has his phone! And our day begins…

We have dinners together on the days we can and often all end up chatting in the living room for a while at night, too, but these morning times have become a good routine and I am thankful for them. 

Hobbit Breakfast 

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Thankfulness Day One: The Scents of the Season

As we walked down the road with friends, crunching through the leaves on a sunny afternoon, I breathed deep the scents of the maple leaves and sighed. I love this time of the year, October blue skies and all the changing colors. One of my favorite parts of fall is the great smells:
Wood smoke
Spicy Tea
Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes
Apples and Pears
Thanksgiving dinner
They make me feel like staying home, cozy, and with my family. They remind me to breathe deep, the season is short. 

                                                         Ginger Cookies 
(I found this recipe that my mom has had for years and they turned out perfectly)

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

2 cups flour
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp each: cinnamon, ginger, cloves

Roll into 1" balls, roll in sugar and place 2" apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350. 

They turned out both chewy and crunchy and made the house smell so good. Perfect with either a glass of fresh cold apple cider, or with pumpkin ice cream.