Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thank You, Lord

These days, I feel like I am coming out of a fog. There are mixed emotions. My mind is cloudy at times but overall, I am beginning to see more clearly. I am able to decipher my emotions. I am okay with being sad at times or the enjoyment involved in recalling different memories. I am gaining self-control in different areas of my life. My relationship with God is deepening as well as my relationships with others. I desire to know more about God and Heaven. I desire to talk to God and hear Him more. I desire to have our friendships grow. I feel as though I am living more with purpose.

Life's been hard. This month has been good. Being intentional in finding something to thank God for on a daily basis has made for a more joyful me and a more peaceful home life. I've always thought of myself as a grateful human being. It will do my heart and life good to continue to find something each day to intentionally thank God for - even when it may be more difficult to find something.

Although my mind has been blurry and my emotions confused, the Son is beginning to shine in my life once again.

"Thank you, Lord, for a season of life which has grown me and continues to grow me. Thank you for your Son and for the patience you have in allowing me to come out of a fog and naturally work through this difficult time in my life. I know there are still many difficult days ahead. I also know you will be there to carry me when I need it, patiently waiting for me to get to the point where I can walk with you again."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanking for Traditions

We helped Mom decorate the house for Christmas today. Other than last year, this is not a normal thing for us to do. Dad and Mom always decorated and we just enjoyed the environment afterwards.

We're thinking through how we will do things different this year. The fact is, traditions cannot remain the same. It's impossible. It will help us if we can create new traditions.

We've decided that the girls will spend the night at my mom's house prior to Christmas Eve and at Rod's mom's house on Christmas Eve. Not only will this be fun for them but it will hopefully help ease the pain for our moms on these days. We will then begin our new tradition of celebrating Christmas the day after Christmas by opening our gifts that morning. It will likely be a good thing. The girls will be able to sleep in and then they will have more time to play with their toys and enjoy a relaxing day.

"Thank you, Lord, for traditions: both old and new. The memories of the old and the excitement of the new allow healing for the heart."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thank you for Grace

"Thank you, Lord, for your grace. We are so undeserving of everything you give to us. Although we deserve hell, we can look forward to an eternity in heaven because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Thank you over and over again for this gift."

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

"Thank you, Lord, for the abundance of blessings you give to us. It has been no problem coming up with something to be thankful for every day. Thank you that there are so many blessings to choose from."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thank You 26

"Thank you, Lord, for modern day conveniences such as the washer, dryer and dishwasher. They save me a lot of time and energy that I can then invest in what really matters."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12

There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless— a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:8-12)

"Thank you, Lord, for the multitude of friends you have blessed my life with. From my acquaintances to those who walk beside me through the dark times. I am blessed with so many I can call friends."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tack så mycket

Face-to-face. Telephone. Cell phone. Handwritten notes. E-mail. Blogs. And the list goes on. We have so many ways to communicate with one another today. We can get to know people that we never would have been able to meet previously. Although this adds to the busyness of our lives it also can help us keep a deeper level of relationships with those we love.

I have really enjoyed blogging. One of the fun things about blogging is that I can keep in touch with relatives from Rod's side of the family all the way in Sweden! I've been able to form a friendship with a relative I've never even met face-to-face before. (Hej, Agneta!) It does my heart good.

I've learned so much and been able to share so much simply because we have so many options as to how to communicate these days. The challenge is finding the balance in utilizing these tools to benefit our relationships rather than wear them down.

"Thank you, Lord, for so many ways to communicate. Thank you for the way you have strengthened my relationships through these tools and the relationships that have been formed because of them."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thank You 23

"Thank you, Lord, for a comfortable bed to sleep in at night. Thank you for a soft pillow to lay my head on and a blanket to curl up under. Thank you for rest and renewal."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22, 2008

"Thank you, Lord, for warm clothes and shelter. Living in the Chicago area, I need to thank you more often for these."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanks (even though it's not Christmas time yet)

As we were driving to Mokena the other night, Nikelle commented on all the Christmas lights and decorations that were out prior to Thanksgiving. "I'm just confused," she stated. "Thanksgiving isn't even here yet." Aah, Nike. Papa would've been proud.

Still, that triggered discussion about Christmas in the backseat. I informed them that we would help Grams decorate her house for Christmas this year. Nikelle asked Jaycie a series of questions that led to an inquisition by Jaycie.

"Who's Santa, Nike?"
"Santa is the one who brings us our presents, Jaycie."
"At Grams' house?"
"No. Not at Grams' house. The presents under our Christmas tree."
"At Grandma's house?"
"No, Jay. Just the presents that our under our Christmas tree."

Nike continued.

"We're going to put cookies out for Santa this year, Jay Jay...
And carrots for the reindeer."
"Who's Rudolph, Nike?"
"Rudolph is one of the ones who pulls Santa's cart."

The conversation went on and I smiled. I like to allow the magic of Santa in our lives. We don't overly promote it. If Nikelle gave it just a little bit of thought, she would realize where the presents actually come from. [No spoiler here for those who still choose to believe.] When asked questions about Santa, as well as the Tooth Fairy and other topics of the kind, I ask her questions back so that she is forced to answer herself. (Thanks, Mom, for that idea!)

The original Miracle on 34th Street is a great movie for whether or not Santa Claus exists! We plan to watch this with Nikelle along with the movies she usually enjoys like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. My dad was big on Christmas movies and these movies have made a big impact on Nike's imagination.

Today, more than ever, I believe in including the magic of Santa in our Christmas celebrations. My dad dressed up as Santa Claus for the kids. Nikelle even thanked him a couple years ago. Dad, as Santa, are some of the last pictures we have of him. When on the topic of Santa, we can now not only share with our kids the story of St. Nicholas but also of their Papa and the joy he found in Christmas.

We do know there is a huge importance in making certain our girls know the true meaning of Christmas. That is something we attempt to teach them the importance of every day, not just at Christmastime.

We choose to allow the magic of Christmas to include the use of our imaginations. Afterall, who doesn't enjoy a gift from Santa every now and then?

"Thank you, Lord, for people with creative minds. My mind just doesn't work that way. I'm grateful for people who can use their imaginations to add some good, clean fun to my life!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank You

I had a song running through my mind this morning that I can't even remember now. Now, as I attempt to recall it, a new song has taken hold of my mind. Both are songs about God and help my heart start the day in the right condition.

Nikelle attends AWANA which is a Bible memorization club. I attended the clubs when I was growing up as well. Thanks to my mom and some others, many of these verses, as well as the books of the Bible, run through my mind in the form of a song. These days, all the sections that need to be memorized by the clubbers are put to music on a CD you can purchase. This is an investment I have just been thrilled with.

Last night, Nike sang through the books of the Old Testament. This is valuable because she will be able to look up verses easier as she now knows where to find each book of the Bible. (She learned the New Testament books last year.) The thing that thrills my heart even more is that Jaycie, at the age of three, knows many of the books of the Bible. She also knows John 3:16 as well as other verses simply because we listen to them in the van.

If we are driving somewhere, we have the AWANA music playing. It's not my first choice, but I would also have to say that my children are NOT dictating what we listen to. I know the importance of my girls hiding God's Word in their hearts. Music is the best way to accomplish this goal. Years later, a verse will run through their mind in the form of a song as mine does now. It will do their hearts good.

"Thank you, Lord, for music. Thank you that there are talented people out there who take the time to put Bible verses to a tune so we can memorize it and hide it in our hearts for later reflection."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19, 2008

I've heard people say that the Bible is outdated. It doesn't apply to our lives today.

I've heard people say that the Bible is too difficult to understand.

I've heard people say that the Bible is just a book of good stories. It isn't really true.

I've heard people say a lot of things about the Bible that I just have to disagree with. Here's an example from today as to why I believe the Bible very much applies to life today, can be understood and is very much true.

I woke up early this morning and began to write in my prayer journal. To be very transparent, here's some of what I wrote to God:

"Use me...keep me planted solid in You."
"Prevent me from getting a big head."
"Get me in Your Word and keep me there."
"Grow me in the knowledge of You."
"I long for more conversations about You."
"Too often I want to be liked. I have to stand up for you no matter what."
"You need to become more of the focus in my relationships."
"Please give me an illogical love for [specific people]."
"Too often I gripe and complain about my irritations."
"Your love is supposed to be displayed through me."
"Give me an eternal mindest always."
"Make me a wife that honors my husband,
a mother that lives an example for her girls,
a sister that builds up her siblings,
a daughter who loves,
an aunt that sacrifices
and a friend who see through Your eyes."

Then I opened my Bible to Romans 12.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

It seemed like there was an answer from God to every part of my prayer. This is not a daily occurrence where I pray and see an answer directly. Still, it was encouraging and reminded me of how God reveals Himself to us when we seek Him. As I've been praying for my relationships to be more intentional, conversations have come up that have depth and meaning and purpose. I love this!

"Thank you, Lord, for the Bible. Thank you that we can clearly see what your plan is for our lives. Thank you that through the Bible, conversation becomes two-way with you. We can listen through reading your Word as we talk with you through prayer."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busyness - 11/18

I'm a little late in sitting down to write a post today. I didn't have a chance to write one previously so I could schedule a post either.

Usually, I enjoy writing in the morning when my thoughts are clear and I have a little bit of time to myself. This morning, however, I had it calendared that some friends were coming over. I had dishes on the counter and in the sink, groceries on the floor from shopping the night before that I was too tired to put away and toys scattered around the house.

I spent my time cleaning and made a snack for my company to enjoy. As I made the monkey bread, I talked on the phone with a friend, dressed the girls and attempted to straighten up the house a bit. Shortly after hanging up the phone, the baby woke up and my friends knocked on the door.

We visited and had good conversation. The baby slept in my arms and the older kids played so we were able to have some good discussions. Too soon, it was lunchtime. We threw some chicken nuggets in the oven and fed the kids. We picked up the new mess of toys and it was time to get on with our day. Nikelle would be home from school shortly. It was a busy day and it wasn't even 3:00 p.m. yet.

Yesterday was busy, too. As a matter of fact, so was the weekend. Life is busy. Oftentimes, I feel that life is too busy. My obligations can keep me from seeing certain friends, relaxing, exercising, scrapbooking or doing other things that I enjoy. I place my head on the pillow most nights completely exhausted (if I haven't first fallen asleep downstairs).

Today, as I went to get Nikelle from the bus stop, I thought about what I was thankful for. I was too busy to think about it until then. That's when it came to me... busyness is a good thing. Dirty dishes mean we have plenty to eat. A dirty house means we have shelter from the cold and a place to call home. Children to care for means we are blessed with a family. Calendar obligations show that we have an abundance of family and friends. We have a full life and I am grateful.

"Thank you, Lord, for this busy life. Thank you that we have purpose and our life is full. Help our busyness to always be time used for you rather than just a to do list on our calendar."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Disappointing Thank You

I had a disappointment yesterday that made me reevaluate my life. It was nothing overly dramatic. Just something that required action in a territory I really hadn't experienced yet. It pained my heart and brought joy to my heart all at the same time.

My daughter did something she didn't want to tell me about. However, she did tell me. It was difficult for her. I could see that right away. Something inside me told me it was extremely important to encourage her to talk to me. At the same time, I needed to protect this special gift of trust she was relying on.

"I don't want to tell you."
"I'm scared I'll get in trouble."
"I won't do it next time."
"I didn't think it was a good idea."
"I know it wasn't appropriate."

All of this was being said by my little girl prior to her divulging information. I knew I had to take careful guard of her heart. She was entering shaky territory. She knew she needed to tell the truth but at the same time did not want to be punished. I assured her she was not in trouble as I stepped onto the thin ice with her.

She ended up sharing all the details and I had to fight back tears. I was disappointed in my daughter. Not just her, but in myself as well. I had not taught my daughter the importance of this topic. I overlooked her need to be educated.

I sent her upstairs to get ready for bed. As I cried. Gaining my composure, I approached the stairs to her room. And I prayed. I prayed that God would help me to handle this situation appropriately.

I talked with her more and was amazed at how God gave me the right words to say. Earlier that morning, Nikelle was asking me the meaning of her name. I told her it meant "victorious"; "winner". I was able to use this to tell her that she needs to remember that she is victorious and winners make choices that honor God - even if they have to do it alone.

After we tucked the girls in bed last night, it was time to reevaluate. Parenting is such a huge responsibility. God has entrusted these little ones to our care. Rod and I are realizing there will be a lot of times where we will tread out onto rough waters not knowing how things will turn out. Nikelle is our first and we will make mistakes. Thankfully, this mistake is not life altering. Thankfully, this encourages us to talk more to our girls about a wider variety of topics. It encourages me to get into my Bible and pray for creativity in teaching the girls about God's plan for their lives.

Today, I'm thankful for disappointments because they require me to take a step back, think and respond. Without disappointments, I might go on my merry way never taking the time to reevaluate and change.

"Thank you, Lord, for disappointments that bring me closer to you."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thank You 16

The sunrise.
The sunset.
A smile.
Beauty of Creation.
A snowfall.
A rainbow.
Children playing.
A loved one's face.
The next step in front of me.

These are all things I can see which I often take for granted.

The other day I was looking through Nikelle's homework during the week of the presidential election. I happened to be on the telephone with a good friend at the time when I busted out laughing. This is what I read:

"John McCain likes to go hikeing. Barack Obama likes baskitball. I vote for John McCain because he fithged in a Whore and he thingks babys shode Not be Cillded When they are born."

Just in case you didn't catch it, John McCain fighted in a war, not a whore.

Our little girl does a fairly decent job spelling phonetically. This, however, is one for the scrapbooks. It just wouldn't have been the same without the gift of sight.

Thank you, Lord, for all the wonderful things I can see because you allow me to see them with my own eyes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November 15th - Thank You

I received a call from my friend the other day. She informed me that her neighbor's son passed away. He was only six-years-old. He battled Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. (If it sounds familiar, that's because Dad's body was attacked by the same cancer.) She gave me the link to a website documenting his battle with cancer.

A few weeks ago, I heard that my brother's neighbor was killed in a motorcycle accident. He left behind three little girls under the age of six-years-old as well as a wife who was expecting their fourth child at any moment. Doctors induced her shortly after and she gave birth to another little girl. These little ones will grow up without their daddy. This wife and mom has no choice but to go it alone.

My heart breaks in both of these situations. I can identify with them as they both share in my stage of life. I find myself thanking God for my kids and my husband. All the things that create stress and build up in my life don't seem nearly as terrible when news like this comes to the surface.

I can hug my kids and kiss my husband. I can wake up in the middle of the night to care for a nursing baby, a child who wants her mommy, or a first grader who has had a nightmare. I can make dinner for my husband and wash his clothes. I can see their smiles, laugh together and receive and give hugs.

I'm certain I'll get caught up in the rat race of life again and be tempted to forget what a privilege I have each and every day. These reminders will always surround me. Every moment is a gift. There is no promise of tomorrow.

"Thank you, Lord, for a change of perspective."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank You - November 14th

I love that I am the one who gets to take my daughter to and from the bus stop. I love that I can do her homework with her and hear about her day when she gets home.

I love that I am in charge of meals, bathtime and naptime. I get to play with puzzles and go on play dates.

I love that I get to see all of the "firsts". Their first smile, first laugh, first time rolling over, first step. It's a privilege to be a part of my girls' lives.

There was a time where I thought I would want to work when I had kids. I had a decent job that I was good at. Knowing this, there was a feeling of satisfaction in a job well done where people depended on me.

Thankfully, God changed my heart. By the time we were pregnant with Nikelle, I found my job stressful - over the top. I quit with no regrets.

Just to be sure I didn't have any regrets, I had the opportunity to fill in one week while I was pregnant with Jaycie. That was followed up with a job offer after Jaycie was born.

It was completely satisfying to say, "As long as I have the privilege of staying home, I will. I don't need to work and I am grateful for that."

I realize we are blessed that Rod has a job where I can stay home with the girls. There are things we have to deny ourselves and we have to watch our money. All in all, it's worth it.

"Thank you, Lord, that I can be a stay-at-home mom!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 13th

I waited 20 minutes for the bus to come pick my daughter up for school yesterday. Thankfully, it wasn't all that cold in the morning. A substitute bus driver pulled up and I knew to prepare myself for the afternoon.

I told myself to be ready for a bit of a wait as I went to pick Nike up from the bus stop after school. The baby was in her crib sleeping and Jaycie was on the family room floor playing with puzzles. I bundled up, leashed the dog and went to wait.

After 10 minutes, I began to pray that all was well with my oldest daughter as well as my little ones still inside the house. My mind began to create scenarios in my head. I could hear Ande screaming in my mind (she's a block away in a house without the windows open...I certainly couldn't really hear her). That led me to think about Jaycie deciding to take care of her and climbing up to see her in the crib. That would lead to problems and I just had to go back to praying.

I went back and forth in my mind as to whether or not I should ask my sister to go to the house and be with the little ones. After 20 minutes, I called my sister. She lives about a mile away. I asked her to go to my house because I can't be at the bus stop as well as in the house with the girls. In this cold weather, I'm not going to take the girls out to the bus stop with me. Besides, there is generally a 10 minute window I can count on and the girls are better of inside (usually sleeping). I knew my sister being with the little ones would calm my nerves a bit.

The same neighbor that came out the last time the bus was late, talked with me again. This helped time to pass a little more quickly and kept my mind from creating problems. We both agreed the now 30 minute wait was a bit ridiculous. As he went back into his house, I called the school. I figured it was about time to confirm the bus was late simply due to a substitute driver and not because of anything serious. That was confirmed.

Relief was mixed with fear and irritation. It's difficult to get one's emotions reigned in when the wait is 40 minutes long. The bus was over 40 minutes late when I saw it pass the street it was supposed to turn on to bring Nike home. I suppose that's what it had been doing all afternoon.

Once again, no apology came when those bus doors opened. I don't believe I smiled at the driver although I did smile at Nikelle. When it's all said and done, I'm just thankful she's safely home.

Today, I'm thankful for family. My sister is always ready to help when I need her. My brothers and our moms are the same way. Everyone is in fairly close proximity to one another. I have extended family nearby as well. It's nice to have a family support system. I know I am blessed to have them.

Oh, yeah. When I got home, Ande was still sleeping. Jaycie was still in the family room now accompanied by her cousin and Aunt. All was well.

"Thank you, Lord, for family."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank You - November 12th

Thank you for a new day, a new beginning. A fresh start where the failings of yesterday need not haunt me today.

I may have eaten two candy bars too many yesterday. I may have yelled at those I love one too many times the day before. Today, however, I start with a clean slate.

As I begin my day, I have not lost my temper. I can choose to pause and ask God for some self-control.

I can make healthier choices with what I put into my mouth start with my first bite today. I can thank God for the abundance of food at my fingertips.

I can begin to clean the mess that has accumulated on the family room floor. Or I can attempt to finger through the pile of papers on my kitchen counter. Accomplishing one task at a time, I can be that much closer to a clean house.

My day can begin by talking with Jesus despite the fact that yesterday my "to do" list won out. I can give Him my worries rather than attempt to heal my pain through other avenues.

"Thank you, Lord, for brand new mornings. From the moment I step out of bed, my choices are new. Thank you for a new day. Help me to live it for you."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11th - Veterans Day

Today is a day we remember all those who have fought for our country. Those who have given everything they had, even their lives so we can live in freedom.

Too often, we take our freedom for granted. More than not, we live our lives without a second thought for those who have lost because they cared enough to give for us. Even today, we have men and women putting their lives at stake for our freedom and our safety.

Growing up, I recall my dad teaching us respect for our country and for the veterans, both presently living as well as those that had gone before us. I vividly remember looking at a cannon that is displayed in dowtown Mokena as dad talked to us about this gift we'd been given. I don't remember what he said so much as I recall the moment. It was important enough to freezeframe in my mind.

As we attended my brother's basketball games, my parents taught, through their example, to not only stand in respect but to sing when the National Anthem was sung. To this day, I fight back tears when the National Anthem is playing. I trust my girls are watching our example as we attempt to teach them about the great great honor we have to live in the United States of America.

Although I am not surrounded with swarms of family members who have fought for our country, Rod's dad and grandpa as well as my grandpa were all in the military. More than that, our fathers and their fathers lived out their respect for this country. It is our responsibility to teach our children and grandchildren the same.

"Thank you, Lord, for our veterans. We are blessed to live in a country where so many are willing to fight and even die for our freedom."

Monday, November 10, 2008

November 10th

In the middle of folding a load of laundry, I pause.

The realization comes to me that all three kids are asleep.

I am folding laundry.

So many times, I long for quiet. Times where I have the opportunity to sort out my thoughts.

This is one of those moments.

I quick finish switching the laundry (I really needed some clean pants that fit).

I pour myself a bowl of cereal, cut up a banana, and fill a glass with water.

Sadly, I don't know where I've placed my Bible.

The computer is always on and I know my husband has the main page set to come up as Bible Gateway.

I open Internet Explorer.

Isaiah 1:18 is the verse of the day. “Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." For more to read, I pull up all of Isaiah 1. I reread verses 15-20.

I wonder about the state of my own life. Where am I? What would God say directly to me?

I need to find more time to hear His voice; more time where I can sit and clear my mind to read the Bible: His Word to me.

There is so much to be grateful for. Today I could pick the Bible, the internet or forgiveness. As none of these posts are in order of importance, today I am grateful for a quiet morning.

Thank you, Lord, for a morning where the girls sleep in and I can be reminded of how fulfilling time spent alone with you can be.

(Now the baby is crying as I finish this. Truly a gift.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thanks on November 9

I'm back to attending my Weight Watchers meetings. Without these meetings, I allow myself to turn to food for comfort. My mindset is completely different when I attend weekly Weight Watchers meetings. With this support, I am encouraged to plan out my meals. To think about why I am eating and what I am eating rather than just reaching to whatever I can find and shoving it in my mouth.

I realize there are people who don't face this struggle. However, my relationship with food is one that has a tendency to control me. Weight Watchers gives me a plan. I don't need to guess which foods are okay to eat. All foods are acceptable in moderation. Their plan works for my life and allows me to feel good about my self-image as well as be healthier overall.

So, probably not one you'll find on many people's Thanksgiving list, but you find it on mine.

Thank you, Lord, for Weight Watchers.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November 8th Thank You

"Her likes me," my three-year-old daughter beems with joy that her baby sister grabs hold of her finger.

"Ah-goo," is the sound my infant forms these days.

My husband laughs from his belly as my six-year-old shouts "You maniac!" as we avoid hitting another car in the parking lot.

I am so grateful to be able to hear the words, "I love you". Blessed to be able to attend to my daughter when her little voice calls. I can experience the echo of laughter. Music stirs my heart. The sound of rain hitting the windows and the rustle of the wind in the leaves connect me with God's creation. Children playing. Birds chirping. Babies crying. Girls singing.

For those times I am overwhelmed with too much noise and beg for silence, I must remember the gift of hearing. Being able to hear these sounds alert me to a need. Words of encouragement and love can warm my heart. A smile to my face or tears in my eyes are a result of the different sounds I hear. These are all a gift.

Thank you, Lord, for the ability to hear.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank You 7

As we walk back from the bus stop, my daughter shuffles through the colorful fallen leaves with her feet. Her face smiles as she watches her feet toss the leaves around her. My thoughts go to wondering why people take time to rake the leaves as I enjoy the colors covering the ground, the sound of the leaves crunching beneath our toes and the smell of fall ever present in the air.

Changing seasons are one reason I enjoy living in the Chicagoland area. We experience Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn every year. Some seasons are longer than others but they're still there. The rain and blooming of the spring season. The swimming and fun of summertime. The snow and warmth that still accompanies the cold of winter with the holidays. The harvest and barrenness of the plants coming with the Fall Autumn.

I don't enjoy every season equally. My body doesn't do well in the heat so I tend to enjoy the colder months more than the dead heat of summer enjoyed so much by my dad. Still, as each season comes to a close, I seem to be ready for it. Ready to experience the joys of the next. I'm ready to shed our hats and gloves by winter's end. The smell of rain in the Spring brings life alive again as I look forward to the girls being able to run, play and swim outside in the summer. And I'm always done with the heat when the leaves start to change and we anticipate going into somewhat of a hibernation again.

Change is not something I embrace. Yet as I think about the changing seasons, I can't help but wonder if God gives us these to assist us in coping with our seasons of life. Seasons end. New ones begin. We may miss swimming in the pond under the sun but the weather must change to experience the joy of making angels in the snow.

There are many memories with our dads. Some that make me long for seasons past. I must embrace the new season in order to truly experience it though. Longing for seasons that are gone will only bring sadness, grief and frustration. Looking forward to the new seasons allow my heart to beat again. It allows me to find joy in the grief and hope as I know the season of eternity is not far away.

Thank you, Lord, for changing seasons.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November 6th - Thank You

Rod's grandpa came over from Sweden. My great-grandpa came over from Italy. I also have some German in my family tree. All this being said, Rod likes to tell people that my family started the wars and his stayed out of them. This gives you a pretty good visual of our marriage. Rod is quite content hoping things will blow over while I'm coming head down like a bull ready to fight.

I was always attracted to the athletic, popular type of guy. Rod is proud to be a "geek". He loves computers, history, science fiction and other topics that fall into this category. When I met Rod, dating him was far from being in the radar. He is also 7 years older than me. Since I was 17 when our friendship formed, he wasn't interested in dating me either. To be completely honest, I was expressing interest in one of his friends. Over time, however, Rod became one of my best friends and he captured my heart.

There are moments I am overwhelmed with how undeserving I am to have the husband I do. One example is with the birth of our children. It begins while I'm hugging the ceramic of my toilet bowl for the first trimester, continuing while I sleep most of the day away through all three trimesters, and exemplified throughout labor and delivery. From being yelled at for burning toast because the smell was overwhelming and sickening to me, to enduring my ultimate crabbiness for 9 months, and being my main support in delivering the girls, he displays his love for me through it all.

Rod took off work the day our youngest was born after I informed him that the contractions were ten minutes apart. We took Nikelle to the bus stop and called my mom to come out to stay with Jaycie. Soon after, my contractions stopped. All together, I didn't feel a thing. I was discouraged, confused and irritated because I had really thought we were going to meet our third child that day. With the contractions disappearing, I didn't know what to think.

(Understand that any suggestion my husband makes is like walking on ice for him. I'm often like a volcano ready to erupt and spew my anger on those around me - especially during pregnancy.) Rod took charge and made me walk with him around the neighborhood. That didn't last long as I realized the need to go to the bathroom shortly after the walk started. We decided to run errands instead. We went shopping and walked around only to have the contractions come back very sporadically. After lunch, he suggested we walk the neighborhood again. He knew how much I wanted the pregnancy to be over and what the assistance walking could do in the laboring process.

After this walk, the contractions became stronger although still very inconsistent. We went to my previously scheduled appointment with my midwife knowing the baby would be coming sooner than later. Rod was my shoulder to lean on (literally) throughout labor and delivery. He helped me remember how to breathe when the contractions were intense and I honestly forgot how to do this normally thoughtless task. Rod reminded me about the marathon I ran and the battles our dads endured when labor got tough to remind me that I could persevere. Rod was everything and more during the labor and delivery for each of our kids.

This is just one example of the way God gave me the perfect man for me. We've been through thick and thin. We've been through high highs and low lows. We've shared the birth of our daughters and the death of our fathers. We've shared some sunny days as well as dark. Through it all, he's with me in the deep.

I don't have to doubt the faithfulness of my husband or his love for me. Everything Rod does is based on his desire to live for God. I've joked that I'm not married to Jesus but it's about as close as you can get. So many woman have to go it alone even though they're married. I need to remember every day what a blessing I have in this man I've been married to for 12+ years now.

Thank you, Lord, for my husband. He's so much more than I deserve.

And Rod, I don't know how often you get a chance to read my blog, but thank you. Thank you that through it all, you've stayed by my side. Even when I've been the most unlovable, you've loved me unconditionally. I'm so grateful for you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5 - Thank You

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7

This is one of my daughter's memory verses this week for AWANA. Even at her young age, Nikelle is learning that she can talk directly to God.

There are many nights that Nikelle will wake her daddy because she is having nightmares. My husband will take her back to her bed and pray with her.

The other night, I happened to already be awake after feeding the baby when I saw Nikelle walk into our room. I got out of bed and at her request, climbed into bed with her. After a while, I decided to go back to my own room where I could sleep more soundly. Kissing her head, I told her to dream about the play she wanted to do with her friends.

Thinking I heard her talking to me, I stopped at the doorway of her room. I listened as I heared her voice. "Dear Jesus, please help me to not have anymore nightmares. Help me to dream about the play with Valerie and Page. Amen."

My heart swelled as I smiled and walked back to my bed. Although I had forgotten to pray with her, she was already learning the comfort that can be found at the feet of Jesus.

Prayer carries me through most days. It pulled me through our dads' battles with cancer; the pregnancies, labors, deliveries of all three of our girls; each and every race I've run; it's given me strength through trials and someone to share every joy of life with.

We have the privilege to pray for our family, friends, country and world.

"Thank you, Lord, for a direct line of communication with you. I love that we can lift our sorrows, joys, fears, worries, tears and requests directly to the Creator of the Universe!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4 - Election Day - Thank You

Thank you, Lord, for the United States of America. We live in a country where we have freedom. Freedom to worship you, freedom to disagree, freedom to have a voice as we vote. Thank you for allowing us to live in a nation where we are free.

Today we vote.

My six-year-old's school is doing a mock election today. The kids wore red, white and blue yesterday and brought signs and buttons to support their candidate of choice.

I wanted to inform my first grader of the facts and allow her to choose. What I found is that it's difficult to present both sides without some sort of bias. We all stand for something and when we do, that's what we present.

First and foremost, I had to talk to her about the right to life. I explained to her that some people think it's okay to stop a baby from growing in their mommy's tummy. I explained that they don't believe it's a baby. They want to call it a fetus. Then there are people who believe that the baby should be allowed to grow so it can be born into the world. She then asked me which candidate believed which and I answered her.

Just from these statements, it's obvious where I stand. Although I wanted her to choose who she would vote for on her own, it's okay that I presented her with a biased opinion. Not only am I her mom, but it's part of our freedom. I believe strongly enough on this issue to say I will vote for those who protect the unborn. I want my daughter to vote that way when she is older as well. God created that baby in the womb and His desire is for that baby to get to full term and enter this world. (Psalm 139) Who are we to stop that?

I did go on to talk to her about a few other issues but they were biased as well. As for the topic of single issue voting, Erik's blog had a great post that I would echo. I'm a priority voter and have no shame in stating it.

Freedom is a wonderful thing we take too often for granted. I attempted to stress to Nikelle the value of this gift and the importance of others being able to express this freedom as well. Who knows if friendships could be ruined in first grade over the choice of presidential candidates even before they're of legal age to vote!

A month of Thankfulness

I tend to be an "all or nothing" kind of person. It's not exactly beneficial in my life. For example, if I don't eat right at one meal, I blow the entire day. After all, it has to be "all or nothing" in my world. This is an area I need to change in so many aspects of my life.

I had been tossing around posting one thing I am thankful for each and every day of November. I thought it would help me to quit all the grumbling I so easily succomb to and there is always so much to be grateful for that it shouldn't be a difficult task. Not to mention November is the month of Thanksgiving so it fits a theme. Here's the all or nothing: today is November 4th. Obviously, this is my first post. So, for the three days I missed...

1. Nikelle
2. Jaycie
3. Ande

I generally express gratitude for my girls and their good health. Still, there are times where it really overwhelms me and I want to be certain I do not take it for granted. After the video our Pastor played on Sunday , it hit me more than it does on normal days. After watching our dads die of cancer, I'm more aware of those around me fighting the disease. I'm hit with the greatness of the gift of good health especially when we see little kids battling such diseases. After taking the two youngest girls to the doctor yesterday for their check-ups, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for my girls' good health. It's not something I want to take for granted.

Thank you, Lord, for the three healthy, beautiful little girls you've loaned me for a time.