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Every day we have so much for which to be thankful.

We woke up – we are alive another day!

We have food.

We have water.

We have shelter.

We have family.

We have friends.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

When you really start thinking about all the reasons you have to be thankful, and digging deep, it can be overwhelming and life-changing. Looking at our lives through the lens of thanksgiving changes our perspective.

And since my recovery has hit a brick wall this weekend and this morning, I need a change in perspective today. So here goes.

  • I am thankful for my husband, who has been the most patient and thoughtful caregiver over the last three weeks (and longer). He has brought me anything I needed. He has been patient with me as my recovery has taken longer than anticipated. He has run kids all over the place. He has allowed himself to be inconvenienced. And not once have I heard him complain.
  • I am thankful for my daughter, who has been quick to “take care” of mom over the last few weeks. From bringing me a glass of water or cup of hot tea, to cleaning bathrooms and floors, she has been a blessing.
  • I am thankful for my son, who, despite his need to constantly be in motion, has taken time to sit with me on the couch and just snuggle.
  • I am thankful for my friends who have helped with food, picking up kids, prayers, and words of encouragement during this time.
  • I am thankful for the hope that comes with faith in Christ. Even when I am down, I know that He is near and that He is at work in my body. He is my rock and my fortress. In Him I trust.

Take a few moments today and think specifically about the things you are most thankful for today. Believe me, it will change how you view your day.

 

In case you have had your head in a whole in the ground and aren’t aware, November starts in two days.

For the last couple of years, I have done some kind of Thanksgiving Challenge both for myself and on my blog.

This year is no different.

Here is the challenge that begins on Friday, November 1:

Instead of finding random things to be thankful for each day, how about finding something about each person in your family to be thankful for each day. For us, I am thinking that our wall of thanks will look a little different this year and we will put notes of thankfulness either in quadrants on the one door that we used last year, or put those notes specifically on the door to the room that each person sleeps in. That way, there is a reminder each time they enter their room that the rest of us are thankful for them and here are some reasons why.

Is this going to be harder than in years past? Absolutely!

But it will really make us look hard at one another and the things that make them who they are and why we are thankful that they are a part of our family.

Are you up for it? Let me know in the comments and let’s practice being thankful for those that we live with!!!!

Friday night I got the opportunity to spend the evening running errands with just my daughter. It was great. We got to spend time with one another talking about life and just hanging out.

In the car on the way there and back, we were listening to music – as always. On the way home, Fifteen by Taylor Swift came on and I was suddenly overcome with the need to talk to Anne (again) about boys, sex, kissing, choices, and more.

We’ve talked before. She knows that I think it is a good idea to not date until after high school. But as we were listening to the song, I was thinking about all the girls (and boys) who at a very young age are already making decisions that are going to affect their lives forever.

So we talked. Or rather I talked. I told her more about my story with boys and why I think dating in high school isn’t worth the heartache. We talked about staying pure – even to the point of not holding hands or kissing a boy. We talked about consequences of not only sex, but of giving your heart to someone before you are mature enough to handle it. And I tried really hard to make sure that no matter what, she would always see that the lines of communication are open. She assured me that if and when she has questions, she’ll talk to me, and I hope that is true, especially in these upcoming teen years.

For some, conversations like this may come easy, but not for me. It makes me nervous. I don’t want to scare her. I don’t want to scar her. I don’t want to give her more information than she is ready for, but I don’t want to hold back and not help her understand these things BEFORE they come up in her social circles. To me, this is one of the trickiest parts of parenting.

I don’t want to make my kids feel like if they mess up they are breaking a law and I won’t love them anymore (in any area – not just sex), but I don’t want to approach it in such a nonchalant way that they don’t see that there are multiple reasons to choose abstinence.

And I definitely want them to hear me before they get to the place where the voices of their parents get drowned out by the voices of their peers and society.

So, as uncomfortable as it is to start the conversation, I dove in yet again.

And it was good. So good.

How do you keep the lines of communication open with your children when it comes to these hard topics?

Fifteen by Taylor Swift

You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors
It’s the morning of your very first day
And you say hi to your friends you ain’t seen in a while
Try and stay out of everybody’s way

It’s your freshman year and you’re gonna be here
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say
“You know, I haven’t seen you around before”

‘Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them
And when you’re fifteen feeling like there’s nothing to figure out
Well, count to ten, take it in
This is life before you know who you’re gonna be
Fifteen

You sit in class next to a redhead named Abigail
And soon enough you’re best friends
Laughing at the other girls who think they’re so cool
We’ll be outta here as soon as we can

And then you’re on your very first date and he’s got a car
And you’re feeling like flying
And you’re momma’s waiting up and you’re thinking he’s the one
And you’re dancing ’round your room when the night ends
When the night ends

‘Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them
When you’re fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin ’round
But in your life you’ll do things greater than
Dating the boy on the football team
But I didn’t know it at fifteen

When all you wanted was to be wanted
Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now

Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine
And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy
Who changed his mind and we both cried

‘Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them
And when you’re fifteen, don’t forget to look before you fall
I’ve found time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you’re supposed to be
I didn’t know who I was supposed to be at fifteen

Your very first day
Take a deep breath girl
Take a deep breath as you walk through the doors

When we moved into our house about 11 1/2 years ago, my dad told me to never enclose the porch.

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He wasn’t saying it because of how it would affect the value of the house. He was saying it because in this day and age we have lost our front porches.

The front porch is where you sit and have a glass of sweet tea with your neighbors.

The front porch is where you hang out with your family.

The front porch is a place of community.

And my dad is right, we have lost that.

Look around you, how many houses do you see being built today with big front porches? Not many. The front porch has been replaced with the deck in the back yard, and surrounded by a privacy fence.

It all leads back to the individualization of our society.

We don’t live in community anymore. We live our own lives, surrounded by our own stuff, and cut off from the rest of the human world.

We say we are more connected through social media, but we are not.

We have lost the art of face-to-face communication.

But that is where my front porch comes in.

I love to sit on my porch swing, read a book, crochet, and sip a cold (or warm) drink. But I love it even more when members of my family join me. I love it even more when my neighbors come outside and we chat for a bit. I love it even more when some of our friends and/or neighbors join us on the porch for conversation and a bowl of soup.

This is how you live in community – you make yourself available and you choose to interact face-to-face with the people around you.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my iPhone, iPad, Facebook and Twitter as much as the next person, but it feels so much more real to sit on my swing, laugh, share stories, and share life with the people I love, the people I live near, and the people with whom I live.

And these are the memories that stay with me, these real-life moments with family and friends.

How are you instituting “porch time” in your life? How are you purposing to spend time with the people you love and get to know the people who live near you? I would love to hear your stories.

I don’t know about you, but I often wonder if I am getting any of this parenting thing right.

I mean, how many times do I need to say to my children, “when you get up, start on your chores for the day, and do not turn on the TV,” before they actually hear me and do it?

How many times to I need to show them what I mean by “clean” before they get it?

Is it really that hard to remember to brush your hair? Take a shower? Put your shoes in the same place so you can find them the next time you want to wear them?

I am doing the best I know to do to teach them responsibility, how to care for one another and others, how to love Jesus, how to be obedient, and all that other stuff we try so hard to teach our kids. But we don’t always see that coming to fruition in the day-to-day of life.

So, when we get those glimpses that they are getting it, it makes me want to jump up and down in celebration.

One of those moments happened for me about a week ago.

We were planning a family trip to a water park. We had been blessed with free admission for four, but when Mike ended up having to work, we had an extra spot. We tried a couple of friends, but they weren’t available, so we had decided it would just be the three of us and it would be a great day. That’s when my daughter called me up and suggested we take a friend of mine’s daughter. She is younger than both of my kids, but her mom has been struggling with some health issues and this little girl has had to hang out at home, with mom not feeling great, quite a bit this summer.

Needless to say, my heart just swelled with pride that Anne had thought to include this little girl in our day.

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But that was nothing compared to watching the three kids play at the water park together. They had so much fun! They got along. They made choices of what to do together so no one got left out. It was beautiful.

And in those moments, I realized that with God’s grace and help, I must be doing something right, because my kids are getting the stuff that is really important: loving God through loving others.

I would love to hear how your kids are “getting it.” Share a story in the comments.

 

I know I have been talking quite a bit lately about this book I am reading, Sifted, but it is just so good! There are so many nuggets to grab hold of and chew on. This morning as I was standing in the shower, I had a thought cross my mind about fear and risk and whether or not I am holding back on following the Lord’s call because of being afraid to step out and take a risk. And then I read this next section of the book.

The soil was three parts shale and one part loam, so in order to plant a garden, we rigged up a four-by-eight sifting frame with a wire screen to sift dirt. We positioned the frame at an angle and threw shovelful after shovelful of dirt through the screen. The topsoil fell through the mesh, and the larger rocks and unusable clods of dirt stayed on top of the mesh to be discarded…

…the topsoil that it separated was a deep, beautiful brown, and the garden vegetables planted in this new soil grew to giant sizes…growth happens best in sifted soil.

Do you want your patience to grow? That area of your life will be sifted. Want your finances to grow? That area of your life will be sifted. How about your people skills? That area of your life will be sifted. But what about your marriage, your family relationships? Do you want those to grow? Remember, nothing grows well until the soil has been sifted.

Often our unstated, default goal in life is our leisure, but God’s clear goal is likeness. He wants us to become like Christ. When we slumber, God shakes us to awaken our dozing faith. He has no trouble disturbing our comfortable equilibrium when we make stability our aim rather than growth…

We grow because we are willing to change — to risk what we have — rather than settling for the status quo. In life, we won’t get what we desire. We will receive what we settle for. So what have you settled for in your marriage? What have you settled for in your family? Have you settled for a marriage that is average? Have you assented to one that is acceptable rather than exceptional?

Yikes! What things have I gotten in life because of settling instead of risking? That is a tough question to ask, and even tougher to truthfully answer.

When we choose the easy route, it isn’t necessarily the best one. When we just let things happen instead of going after what we have been called to go after, we are settling for less than God’s best for us.

What blessings have we missed out on by sticking with the status quo?

What growth has been stunted by avoiding the needed sifting?

These are not questions that are answered in a moment, but rather questions that are asked and answered while in prayer and conversation with the Lord, which takes time and a listening heart.

I’m listening, Lord.

Today is Monday.

Today is Monday, July 29. That means that Thursday is August 1.

And with the onset of August comes the onset of that time of year where we try our best to find routine again…while still in the midst of the chaos of summer. (“Good luck with that!” I just told myself.)

Jr. Comets football games start on August 10 – less than two weeks away!

School starts on August 19, a mere three weeks from today!

Throw in cheer practices for Anne (Jays) and Anne and I (Jr. Comets), marching band practices, back to school nights, fair parade, a couple more summer concerts for me, gardening, preparing fruits and veggies that come into the house from gardening, and of course the regular stuff of jobs, housework, parenting, etc., and it just feels like life is flying. Sometimes it feels like it is passing me up, and others it feels like I am just being thrown around inside it like in a tornado.

While sitting at home yesterday morning, I realized that yesterday was what would likely be the one and only chance I have in the next three weeks to go school shopping.

So off we went to buy a cart full of school supplies (I did check my home stash first so we saved a little money there).

Next a trip to the mall for new backpacks and lunch boxes, followed by Shoe Carnival for four pair of new tennis shoes – two for Ty who is just hard on shoes, one for Anne’s daily wear, and one for cheer/gym shoes.

And of course a run to Sams for the stuff we have been out of for weeks and ending with dinner out for the family.

At the end of the day, both Mike and I were overwhelmed with the sheer amount of money that it takes to get kids ready for school, much less keep our household fed and cared for.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good day. We enjoyed our family time together, worked well and efficiently at getting everything that we needed on our “lists,” and did so with relatively little grumbling.

But this morning I woke up with that old familiar pressure on my shoulders and chest – depression, and thoughts of running away from everything – anxiety.

It happens after a good day. It happens when I have to bleed out large amounts of the little money that we never have. It happens when I realize that time is not my own. I can’t even find a free weekend to meet with one of my good college friends!

But because of learning to recognize the lies of depression, I did what I needed to do right away. I texted a friend who also deals with these issues and she was able to give me some perspective and encourage me to do one of the things that helps me. And while that doesn’t change things immediately, it does help me remember that depression lies and I can rise above those lies to see the truth. And that is much easier when I have a friend that can lift me up to see the truth.

Today, in the mist of time flying by, money disappearing from my bank account, and being bombarded by the lies of depression, I will stand up and look at what is true!

I will cherish the time I have with my kids now because time does fly and children do grow up!

I will use my money to the best of my ability to provide for my family and give back to the Lord whom I trust to provide my every need.

I will not listen to the lies of depression that try to hold me down.

Instead, I will focus on the truth that I am loved – by my family, my friends, my Lord!

What truths do you need to focus on today?

I would love to hear from you!

We share lots of things with our kids: DNA, our attitudes, our neuroses, certain phrases we use, types of food we like, and much more.

One of the things I have always loved doing is introducing my kids to things that I loved when I was younger.

  • The Anne of Green Gables books and movies (for Anne)
  • Breakfast Puffs
  • Various musicals
  • Star Wars (starting with the original trilogy, of course)
  • Peppernuts, peanut butter balls, caramels, crescents, and all the other special Christmas treats from our family traditions
  • Pajamas for Christmas Eve
  • Games like Yahtzee and Blewitt

There are so many foods, movies, games, and activities that bring back such good memories for me and I want my kids to have those same kinds of memories.

A couple of weeks ago, Mike and I got to watch Batman (Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson version that I watched I don’t even know how many times at the theater when it came out) with Ty and he loved it. Then yesterday, SyFy was running a Batman marathon so Ty and I curled up on the couch and watched Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. He was in heaven. Those movies are right up his alley and he loved every minute. And I was pretty happy, too, just watching him enjoy the movies and enjoying them myself. As we talked about things like the changes in Batman – Michael Keaton to Val Kilmer to George Clooney – and the stories of Robin, Batgirl, and even the nature of the Mr. Freeze character who does good in the end, it was fun to relive some of my past and share that with my son.

At the end of the day, I asked him what he thought and he was so excited and told me it was a great way to spend an Sunday afternoon and evening. And I agreed.

What are some of the things from your past that you enjoy sharing with your kids?

 

Remember how I was telling you that my June was CRAZY-busy?

Well, guess what happens when CRAZY-busy is done.

CRASH!

My body finally got fed up with my constant running, commitments, exercise, stress, etc., and decided to quit on me.

Saturday I slept late, ran the kids out for a quick, but fun, outing with friends, ran one errand, and then proceeded to take a two-hour nap on the couch and other than forcing myself out for my run-streak run, spent the rest of the day and evening on the couch.

Sunday I woke up feeling nauseated, went back to sleep, moved to my couch when I woke up, cat-napped off-and-on all day, fought nausea, made myself workout anyway (because I couldn’t feel much worse), and went to bed by 9:30.

I didn’t cook all weekend. I ate things like peanut butter and raisins on celery, Pringle’s, pancakes and waffles;  not my typical meal plan.

The collapse was so complete that I was even getting concerned that the ugly depression I have been fighting my way out of over the last few weeks was pulling me back down.

But this is kind of how it is for me. I run, run, run, go, go, go, and then I just can’t go anymore.

I know this about myself, but it still manages to surprise me when it happens.

I wish I was better at scheduling my time so this doesn’t happen, but some things in the schedule are out of my control.

I wish I was better at scheduling in down time so this doesn’t happen, but I am not.

So, in July, I am going to work harder at making down time and saying no to the unnecessary.

Wish me luck!

Do you struggle with any of these issues? How do you deal with them?

June is one of my most loved and loathed months of the year. Why? Because I swear that summer is going to be so much more laid back than the school year and then June happens. And June is anything but laid back.

  • Church camp the first week of June for the youngest kid.
  • Family camp the second week of June for all of us (except Mike who still has to work :().
  • Church camp the third week of June for the oldest kid. Basketball camp for the youngest.
  • Working at basketball camp all week for me, while also doing my job.
  • FCA camp for the oldest the fourth week of June. And FCA camp for me, too, where  I partner with a friend to do the cheer portion. Again, while doing my job when I am not at camp.
  • Throw in baseball games for Ty, junior high cheerleading for Anne, concerts for me (because my loving, amazing husband bought me a country mega-ticket for all the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater country shows this summer), overtime for Mike, and the other miscellaneous commitments and you can see why I feel the way I do about June!

Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these things. They are fun, have purpose, and I am glad we do them, but I will also be glad when things slow down a bit in July before my cheerleading season starts up again.

I want to lay on a raft in the pool. I want to read on my front porch. I want to work in my yard. I want to have a clean house again.

But I want to continue to make memories with and for my kids. Both the fun and crazy kind, and the laid back, hanging out with family kind. And  I think we are doing it.

I am curious, does your June look like mine? Are you hoping for more laid back days of summer?

Oh, the things you learn as a Daughter of the King, if only you listen.

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