Time to Be Grateful

Truly I believe that there is a season for everything, but I also believe that every day calls for time for gratitude.  After an intense season of waiting (oh, and we’re not done yet!), there are more and more signs that I need to pause and give thanks at least daily.

Often, I have to admit, my thanks don’t come until I finally lay in bed, offering my genuine prayers from a tired body.  The gratitude, the thanks with which I begin my prayers, surrounds me.  I am comforted and renewed, and in this calm and peaceful state, I drift to sleep before I know it.

More often than I probably realize, I am aware enough in my waking hours to realize just how many gifts surround me.  For my senior year in high school, I gave my closest friends a poster with 365 of my favorite things written around a picture of me with the recipient.  I made one for my then-boyfriend, now-husband, too.  The blessings of this life are not lost on me, but I could certainly be more aware.

A friend recently recommended a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Ann has a blog, A Holy Experience, that got her started, I believe.  Her story is rich with her faith and ties into scripture.  Her poetic writing and sense of awareness speaks to a side of me that sometimes feels and gets neglected.  She’s unabashedly intense and devoted.  A kindred I haven’t even met.

Whatever our faith tradition, gratitude speaks deeply and as sweetly as the five-year-old speaking “I love you, Mom” into my ear.

Oh, let me count the ways.

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Day 11


This life is so full.

I fill a page with a schedule for the children for the day to come.  Nearly every minute is occupied, even if with the designation of “free time.”  Every moment of my day is occupied, too, from early morning to late at night.  Even then the unexpected tasks get wedged in between the standing commitments.

I’m reminded of the demonstration of the jar being filled with rocks (the obvious priorities), then smaller pebbles (the commitments and responsibilities), then sand (the everyday stuff), and just when it looks like it’s full and can hold no more, then you add water (I think of this as Spirit).  There was still room for water, a necessity of life.

Somehow in my daily life I still have room for prayer.  I need it.  I need to take the calls from friends.  I need to do the healing work, the holy listening.  I need to play a supporting or even a leading role in various ministries.  These nurture me and in some delightful way, it can help others.  It helps keep me balanced.

Today I felt out of whack.  It could be because I didn’t get up when I should.  I didn’t start the day with prayer.  It could be the whacky weather.  It could be our family routine being turned upside down.  It could be stress.  It could be the striking images I saw in the magazine of the most significant photos of the past 100 years – space, science, society (the Challenger, a growing baby en utero, starving children, a lynching).  It could be any combination of these things or of other things I have yet to consider.

There is so much in this life.  Dear God, I know you don’t expect me to hold it all, to understand it all, so help me to let it go, all of it.  Cleanse the thoughts of my heart . . .

And I give thanks for the rich life I lead.

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Day 2

Gracious God.  You know my heart.  You know my ways, and yet you continue to bless me.  I continue to ask forgiveness and humbly receive your blessings.

I know my faith will be tested — some big ways, some small.  My prayers don’t have to be typed and published the same moment I’m thinking them.  I can write.  Isn’t that part of what I’m supposed to be doing anyway?  You know my heart.

What I didn’t expect was to have so many prayers answered in one day.  My husband had a relatively pain-free day, and he received word that he got the job, with other work in store.  A friend received hopeful words from a tech running a test.  I received a call from a friend who’s been on my heart; I’ve been on hers, too.  Coincidences all in one day?  That was Day 1.

Today is Day 2 (typed into the computer and post-published due to network disruption), and I have a confession.  I’m afraid of prayer, God.  I’m afraid to fully tap into the divine connection with you because I don’t kow if I’m asking the right thing.  I know I’m not good enough, and I don’t know if I can do all you ask me to do.  I guess I’m afraid of the power of ultimate love.

Yet I believe in it.  Yet I show up.  And I ask for strength.

This evening we’re opening our home to an Afghani woman through the University’s international program.  Tomorrow we open our home to host a dinner for a friend’s family.  Sunday we take a child to church camp.  Thank you for the gift of hospitality, for us and for others.

All honor and glory and praise to You, now and forever.  Amen.

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With Thanks

A friend shared this recipe with me several years ago, and I’ve made it every Thanksgiving since.  How grateful I am for our family and friends and the food, shelter, warmth and Love we are so blessed with.

So, I share this with you, with thanks and attribution to Erin W.  🙂

(and this is my kitchen at past-midnight, Thanksgiving-eve)Thanksgiving Eve

Sweet Potato Casserole

This casserole is sweet and yummy, almost of dessert quality, so a little goes a long way.

5 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled

2 beaten eggs

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. butter


1/2 stick butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

*In medium bowl (or the 2 qt. dish you’re baking in, if you’re lazy like me!), mash potatoes.  Add eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, salt and butter.

*Pour into buttered baking dish (if you used a bowl — I always omit this step/forget to butter the dish!)

*Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 min.  Mix the topping ingredients.

*Remove, heat oven to 375 degrees F.

*Sprinkle on topping.  Bake additional 6-8 minutes.

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Mindful Moments

Some days you just have to bask in life, in the little things, and truly give thanks for where you are right now.

A good dream, a quiet yet productive day, content and healthy kids . . . what more should I ask for? 

We have to say thanks for our blessings.  We have to send a surge of heart-felt energy for those who are suffering, whether they be on the other side of the world or right next door.  We have to send our positive energy out there so that it’s there for us, too, when we need it most.

It only takes a moment, a pause, and it does a world of good for yourself and others.

* * *

As I realize that I’ve had this blog up and going for about four months now,  I figure I can ask those of you who are regulars what you prefer best.  Answer for me, if you would be so kind, the following questions by posting a quick comment. I’d love to see something other than spam!

  • What do you like most or would like to read more of?
  • Anything you can do without?
  • Constructive criticism in general?  (I promise I can take it.)

I sincerely appreciate your feedback.  I’m hoping this summer to do a personal design for the site, though I am fond of the gently rolling hills.  🙂  If you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them.  Don’t be offended if I don’t use them, though.

Blessings to you and yours, and have a beautiful weekend.

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mes raisons d’être

This Friday post before Mother’s Day, I’m inclined to reflect on my
existence as a mother.

The commercial realm has
capitalized on the holiday. Beautiful flowers, cakes, chocolates,
clothes, jewelry, etc., etc., are everywhere, and I must admit, I’ve
thought twice about buying something impractical and not healthy.

But Mother’s Day originally came to be out of mothers’ love for their
children gone to war. It came from a cry for peace so that their
children wouldn’t have to be off fighting battles that were too great
for them alone and which pulled them away from their families. I’m sure
there are many now that cry for peace for such reasons.

I am blessed to have my family close, and my family extends beyond my
husband and children. We are fortunate to have a strong extended family. My aunts,
grandmothers, cousins, sisters-in-law, and friends are part of my
family, too. For them all, I am grateful. In this respect I feel very
young as a mother, feel very much my role as daughter. My grandmothers.
mothers and older friends embody a wisdom and beauty that only come
with age, time and experience.

As a mother myself, though, I can see how far I’ve come in my nine
years of this role. With each passing day, I learn something more —
mainly from my kids. Most days, I’m also given the opportunity to share
something with other mothers, and may this be my mother’s day gift to

You are never alone.

All those before you and all those to come are with you, even during
your bad days, time-outs and moments when you wonder what you were thinking to have children.

daisies.jpgAll the flowers in the world and the shiniest jewelry will never match
the twinkle in your child’s eyes when they smile at you, their beautiful


Nor will they ever match the tearful, joyful pride in your own
mother’s eyes as she watches you and sees the mother you’ve become.


Rest on this your day.

Reflect on who you are at this point in your life,

And love deeply those you help make you the mother you are and the mother you are yet to be.

May you carry with you the blessings of the Mother, now and always.

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Makin’ Memories

Remember me sharing that we went for a hike a couple of weeks ago, stopping by the pottery shop afterwards?  It rained on that hike, especially hard when we actually got to the waterfall.  My kids are still residually snotty from their colds, but I wouldn’t trade that day with family and friends for anything.

This morning I made one of our not-too-frequent stops by our local bread shop, taking the younger two with me to pick up a breakfast sandwich, chocolate muffin,  raspberry scone (the raspberries make it healthy, right?), and bread, of course.  My four-year-old loves “the stone place” (it’s called Stonemill Bread), and I love the feeling of supporting our local business, sharing the morning with my little kids and eating some great food.

Both of these experiences remind me that I’m making memories each moment of my life.  Even as I’m here typing (after taking a break for nursing someone that needed a moment of attentive loving and then having a quick IM chat with my mom), I know I’m making a choice to nurture myself by writing and sharing with you.

The main point is that everything we do is significant, from helping the stranded guy at the post office by offering a jump since you have the cables (which happened last night) to taking the kids to school every weekday.  In every moment we have the opportunity to affirm life and love, to share in our abundance.

Do you have a gratitude journal?  Have you considered how blessed you are to have this day to make new memories?  The best way to assure you’ll continue to have abundance is to give thanks for all that you have.  So, give thanks and then make some new memories.

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A Special Way to Say “Thanks”

You can get some pretty nice cards these days, and they’re even being made to look like they’re hand-made.  In a pinch, it’s great, but when you have to show someone your most sincere gratitude, you’re going to have to put some sweat into it.  Not really, of course.  More the mental variety.

Making things should be fun for you, or you just shouldn’t do them.  By all means, buy a card, dress, or whatever.  I enjoy even making something following instructions or using a design as inspiration, even if it’s just replication.  I keep telling my kids, “It’s okay if they draw the same thing you do.  Feel honored they like your work enough to copy it as they grow as artists.  In time, they’ll develop their own technique.”  Granted, some of us are still copying thirty years later, but, hey, at least we’re still trying.  : )

A design in my Cricut ™ Alphalicious cartridge manual inspired this card, and I really enjoyed it.  I did not like the cheap cardstock that I tried to use first, but it all works out in the end. 

  • Gather materials.  I start with what I know I need then gather the rest as I go.


  • Use Cricut ™ to cut matchbook card with cut-out “thank you” on Bohemian-themed paper.


  • Use aforementioned cheap cardstock to line the card, providing sturdiness and a nice contrast for the “thank you.”  I lined the back of the front and the front of the back, just using a glue stick.  (Sorry for the photo quality; that’s an operator error!)


  • A corner hole punch with a decorative design (from Stampin’ Up!) provides the perfect corners for an index card cut to length to fit into.  On this index card, I write my message (see photo further below).


  • I use some lovely SU! stamps to leave a signature on the back and to decorate the back of the front.  On the inside stamping, I used a white pen (also from SU!) to pull the stamps together and highlight some of the image more.


  • A brad holds a flower in place to embellish the front.


  • Like I said, more tools come out along the way.  Thankfully, everything is in the same room.  When I’m finished (even if it’s early in the morning), everything has to go back to its place.  I wouldn’t want little fingers experimenting without supervision.

My creative process begins with a visualization of what I want, and I create along the way, keeping my eye open to the whole and sensitive to the design.  Soon I hope to make several cards and sell at a local shop or have an Etsy store.  (Beware!  Etsy’s addictive!)

Be the first couple of folks to comment on this site, and I’ll make you a card, too!  Comment and leave me your addy.  I swear I won’t spam you!

Enjoy the Spring!  It’s my days outside that are leading me to stay up late doing this stuff at night!

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