Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 30

Day 30: What's Different?

This is the official last day to be thankful. But what has changed? Well, the thing that has changed is that I'm looking at so many things with an eye of thankfulness. This list that I followed was a random one I googled and unlike so many other thankfulness runs it was not based on the things that made me happy in the moment (though there was some of that and nor is that a bad way to be thankful). But this list challenged me to be thankful for things I honestly rarely think about. I'm thankful I took on this challenge and have new eyes for gratitude. I hope you enjoyed the last 30 days as well. For we are now into Advent season and it is a wonderful time of beauty and anticipation. Let's go forward from here and see if we can continue our attitude of gratitude. It can continue on as a daily challenge... I'm even contemplating a longer than 30 days challenge, but don't hold your breath=D

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 29

Day 29: Parenting People

Today I am grateful for those parents out there that do it righter than I do. I'm excited to have people that can parent multiple children without any of them being classified as the typical 'middle child.' For parents that have successfully raised children up to love Christ and have them follow Him in their own passions. I am thankful for parents who have shown me that even through the awkward stages of childhood, the parent can still be the most important influence, voice of reason and friend in that child's life. I'm thankful for parents that have shown me that children do make their own choices but with our help, guidance, passion, honesty and openness they will be fully equipped to make their choices and they will likely make the 'right' choice. I'm thankful for parents that have shown me that even when their children make the wrong choice, that love, grace and forgiveness go further than any punishment. I am thankful for those parents that have no limitations when it comes to loving the children around them, even if they aren't the parents. No child can have too much love! Today I am thankful for those parental units that have crossed my path and shown me that I am not alone and this really is the most difficult and rewarding job I'll ever have.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 28

Day 28: In the Moment.

Well, I am continuing on my day late streak so thinking back to yesterday a moment I was thankful was when I woke up in my warm bed. I woke up without the alarm and before anyone else was up. I'm so thankful for quiet moments like that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 27

Day 27: Medical Miracles

So today I am thankful for Medical Miracles and though I am unaware of most of them I have a few I could be thankful for, like organ transplants! One particularly amazing story I heard on TV about a boy in St. Jude's with bone cancer in his femur was that they were able to replace his femur with a titanium femur that they could regularly, without further surgeries, make grow to match the rate of growth of his other leg. AMAZING!!! It makes me wonder what other kind of awesomeness they do at St. Judes. I'm so thankful for those willing to live life how God has called them and then use their passion and capabilities to improve life. What modern medical miracles are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 26

Day 26: Next Generation

Today as we consider all the opportunities our children allow for thankfulness the attribute I most admire in them is their endless bits of energy and curiosity. They are never left too tired to try something new or even participate in an old favorite. Children are amazing in that they are blank slates that have to learn everything and as their parent I have the opportunity to teach them so much! Children are amazing and I have hope in our next generation, that they continue to be bottomless pits of energy with a never ending curiosity. Together, our children can make an amazing world!

Friday, November 25, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 25

Day 25: Family Traditions

We all have our beloved family members that require us to do the same thing every year and sometimes it's something cool, and other times it's something painful but either way traditions are a great way to create awesome memories. Thinking to some of our Thanksgiving family traditions and the one that we did best was eat! I've learned over the years that I love cooking (most of the time) and preparing a meal for a special time of giving thanks is a wonderful opportunity for me to pour love into those about to consume my tasty treats and curious surprises. Every year the chilly weather brings the desire to cook and bake alive again and though eating too much food creates some difficult challenges, I love my family tradition of eating!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 24

Day 24: Festive Food

Today I am thankful for all the wonderful holiday foods. I love watching cooking shows to get new ideas about how traditional foods are cooked. I also appreciate my family's preference for simple foods. It allows me to make simple holiday meals and pick one or two new things to try each year. I love the warmth that cooking out of love and thanksgiving brings to the house and my loved ones.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 23

Day 23: A Special Memory

Well, we've just completed our most impressive accomplishment as a family of five. We drove to North Carolina to visit my mom for a few days. Whew what a world wind it was and we all had a fantastically relaxing time (even the children on our long days of driving)! I hope we just got done creating some great memories for them, I know I'll remember our first road trip for years to come.

One of my favorite childhood memories is the first memory I have with my Grandma. I was about two and a half when I went to live with her and I remember sitting on the couch watching TV with her and she tooted and I just stared at her. I don't really remember what words were exchanged but I remember getting bonked on the head with a pillow and then laughing hysterically. That was the moment I bonded with my Grandma. A very special, albeit super silly, memory.

P.S. My Grandma told me years later that she said, "Excuse you Leesa Mae," and I said, "I didn't do it!"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 22

Day 22: Life's Challenges

Today I am called to be thankful for life's challenges. I am reminded of a specific time I was challenged a few years back. Without going into details I encountered yet another reason to practice forgiveness and it was the first time I was really confronted with the opportunity to experience grace. I learned to give it and recieve it, not just in the (for lack of a better description) theoretical terms we recieve grace from God, but in real every day terms. I had to ask God to show me grace, how to give grace and then how to receive it. And in the process He did some amazing things for me.

First, I had a change of heart! I no longer was filled with anger or hatred or disgust of the one I was called to love, but geniune love and friendship. Amazing! Second, I gained a wonderful friend and was able to create relationships with several other individuals that were walking through this with me. Overcoming life's challenges with Christ and others helps create an intense spiritual connection with those people, which works even better than exchanging BFF necklaces! Third, I have a fantastic namesake for my only daughter.

Yes life's challenges are difficult but as one who relies on Christ I know all things are used for His glory.

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 21

Day 21: In the Moment Thankfulness.

So there's been several moments I've considered what I would be thankful for "in the moment" today but all times I couldn't think of anything until we went out this afternoon and spent time as a family, with my mom and her husband and took some awesome photos. Those photos will mark an awesome event in so many ways, our first road trip, my mom's baptism, our first family visit to her house.

So today I'm thankful for photographs. The mark time, help us keep memories and allow our children's children to have a piece of family history. How awesome is that!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 20

Day 20: Relaxing Rituals

Relaxing, with three small children as a full time stay at home mommy that volunteers, teaches homeschool and has many other responsibilities is a bit of a funny and foreign idea. But I find time for relaxation, if I didn't I would literally go INSANE!!

Some of my favorite relaxing activities are reading a book, in a room ALL by myself (with no background noise of needy children or loud movies). I love a great cup of tea, a fantastic workout with awesome tunes and a great workout instructor. Some time outside when the weather spectacular and time with my husband.

These are my ways to unwind and relax and I do not always get them when I want them or even when I need them. However, I am thankful for these moments when I get them and I am more thankful that my family benefits from my relaxing rituals almost as much as I do.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 19

Day 19: Wonderful Water

Today I am grateful for water. Rain, rivers, lakes, oceans, from the tap, bottled, salty or fresh, water is remarkable. Useful for all sorts of things. It is pure and without water, life, all life, cannot exist.

Today I'm not just grateful for clean drinking water and the unbelievable beauty water presents us with, but also for the blessing that water offers. Baptism, an induction to Christ's kingdom is a ceremony of water. The symoblism of water washing us clean, presenting us as new beings, offering us a fresh start is precious.

Last week I had the privelage of being thankful for water as I witnessed 6 baptisms and tomorrow I have the privelage of witnessing my husband baptize my mother and it offers me a whole new level of thankfulness for water, remarkable, wonderful, life giving water!

Friday, November 18, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 18

Day 18: Animal Connection

This is a bit of an odd thing to be thankful for in my opinion. I've had pets in the past so I wander through each memory of my pets trying to determine if I have a special connection to any of them, or if one connection is more special than another. I'm not an over the top animal lover, but one thing that I do love and have done in every state or country I've ever been to is visit the local zoo or aquarium. I have strong feelings about seeing the animals upclose and they are SO beautiful.

Yesterday in Little Rock we saw some great tigers and penguins and I think back over the many visits to zoos and aquariums, the first time I touched a snake, the first time I fed a giraffe, the first time I was splashed by a dolphin, touched a crusteacean. All of those are my connections to animals. I love those interactions so much and I love to see how people have managed to care for animals and recreate some semblence of a life when they aren't in the wild. The zoologists and marinebioligists seem to really care for their animals (on a whole, in my expereince).

Oh, and I'm also thankful animals give us food!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 17

Day 17: My Mentor or Hero

Well, if you know me a little you might not know my hero. However, if you know me more than a little then you've probably at least heard of my hero, maybe even been friends with me long enough to have met her (lucky you!). My hero was a wonderful woman, brave and responsible, full of joy and love. Determined with a let's get down to business attitude. Capable of loving everyone and accepting people as they are, but then taking that relationship to the next level and letting them know in love that they aren't where they should be. She set an amazing example and had a great sense of humor. She was incredibly strong and yet gentle with both feelings and (most importantly) when brushing my hair into pigtails. Things she said to me over my life I still remember on a daily basis. The hardest part of living the life I live right now is that my hero isn't here to share in all this awesomeness I've been blessed with.

My Grandma, my hero. She was there when I needed her, whether it was love, friendship, community, guidance or correction she never failed me. And even better when I didn't know I needed her for lessons in humility, confidence building, a relationship with Christ and life lessons that I had no idea would stick with me. If only I had cared a little more about cooking I would know how to do something other than bake (though that was one of our most favorite past times, next to doing puzzles, playing cards, watching movies and soaking in the hot tub!)

My Grandma was really the most awesome woman I have ever had the privilege to know and I'm thankful beyond words that I spent the majority of my formative years with her. She is largely responsible for the person I am today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 16

Day 16: Mode of Transportation

Although I may be less thankful for our automobile this time tomorrow and even less thankful this time next week, today I am thankful for our van. Our van can fit our whole family plus two and it can take us to all sorts of regular, everyday, boring places as well as new, exciting and adventurous places. One of my oldest son's new desires is to visit all 50 states and our car (or a rental) will play a huge roll in accomplishing that goal. Yay cars!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 15

Day 15: Local Treasures (as in shops or groups, not pirates!)

So I'm just going to say it and then explain it and then hope it doesn't sound conceited at the end of it. Today, the local treasure I'm thankful for is my church. Known by a few different names, I lovingly refer to it as Region Seven. The idea behind the term 'region seven' is that the U.S. is now a mission field and is referred to worldwide as the seventh region. We moved to Richardson a little over a year ago with this idea as our new life mission and we've grown leaps and bounds learning to live like missionaries in America. I've met people and become friends with people that are super wonderful and allowed me the opportunity to love them in Christ's name, changing both their lives and mine. Without Region Seven I would NEVER have done that. So today I am thankful for the organic church movement happening here in America, the seventh region of the mission fields in the world, right here in Richardson, Texas.

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 14

Day 14: What's around you.

Today I am thankful for my 3 little 'mirrors'. Though it is often difficult to look into them and see what they are projecting back it is always important to know how you are acting and portraying the love of God. Are your children actually that rude and disrespectful or are they just repeating what they've seen? It's tough to swallow, but even still I am thankful for the constant reminders of their behavior and choices that I will always have room for improvement and leaps and bounds to grow to truly be like Christ.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 13

Day 13: Home.

Today is the day I'm supposed to be thankful for my home, and I am thankful for having a home in which my family lives, eats, plays, sleeps, is safe, kept warm (or cool depending on the weather outside) and for so many enormous other reasons. But today I'm not thankful for my home as much as I'm thankful for my neighbor's homes... and my friend's homes. I'm thankful to know people who love other people enough to welcome them into their home, dirty shoes and all. For the places we gather to share with one another, living life together, trudging through the trenches and eating birthday cake together. Our home is our sacred place and when we have people come into it we are sharing our most intimate space, where our walls are knocked down and a great space is made for love. I was blessed to experience that today and am so thankful for each time people gather to love one another not only in my home, but in the homes of others as well.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 12

Day 12: Cultural Heritage.

Today I am grateful for the cultural heritage of lots of people. My family however, was like many others and escaped to America to leave a nasty past behind. With that beginning there was very little cultural heritage saved on that side of the family and the children were all raised to be American. Thinking very little about their Spanish and Indian roots. The other side of my family has a very long history and can be traced back to the 1400s in America. But this family history I knew nothing of until I was an adult and had already started developing my own traditions.

However, there is one cultural heritage I am grateful for and it was given to me by my Grandmother, my hero! She gave me Jesus. She gave many people Jesus and I see all those around her that she offered this cultural gift to and very few accepted it. They believed themselves unworthy of such a gift, even still today. I am thankful beyond belief I was capable of accepting such an amazingly rich and deep cultural heritage.

As I have grown in Christ over the years I recognize that I too am unworthy of this amazing gift and am hopeful as I have embarked on the adventure of offering others this cultural heritage for themselves and their families. Americans are desperate today and those of us who love the Lord have hope to offer them. What an amazing heritage!

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 11

Day 11: Those Who Protect.

Be it a solider, police officer, fire department member or an ordinary security guard today I am thankful for those who protect everything that is precious to me. Our families would be in danger without these every day heroes and having known a few of them in my lifetime I recognize the sacrifice they make and am honored. Those who protect are courageous, brave and specially made individuals. Thanks be to God for making such amazing people!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 10

Day 10: Aha Moment!

There are so many aha moments that I remember. One of my favorite ones, that I'm most thankful for was when I realized that Jason was The One for me. He was doing dishes and placed the forks pointy side down! I was blown away but saw a vision that was us on our wedding day and I smiled. What a silly little thing but SO many times have I hurt myself when people point the forks up (no offense to those of you who do point your forks up, I know you have your reasons). I saw a man who would protect and care for me in this little tiny action. Recognizing my then boyfriend as my one day husband changed my life and look, here we are 8 years, 3 children, 3 houses, 2 states and 1 minivan later. =D Goofy I know but a really cool Aha moment!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 9

Day 9: Good Friend

Today I'm thankful for my local bff. It's nice to have someone to hang out with, be silly with, talk to and relate to that lives just a few minutes away. Friendship is an awesome thing that should never be taken for granted and today I'm very thankful to have a friendship like that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 8

Day 8: Part of your body.

So this can be a tough one for an overweight woman in America. But thinking for a few seconds there are several parts of my body that I guess I am kind of thankful for. I've narrowed it down to two. The first one being very odd so forgive me, but I'm thankful for my womb that has allowed three perfectly healthy babies to reside in for nine months each. The second are the muscles on my body that allow me to do the fun activities I like to do. I've got work to do on my body but these two parts in particular have yet to fail me and I'm blessed to have them as I know so many others would give their world for their womb or muscles to work as well as mine do. What a neat thing to be thankful for today!

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 7

Day 7: In the Moment.

Right this moment I'm thankful for cottage cheese, the gym, Jason's job and quiet games. I'm making lunch after my workout and thanks to a small snack of cottage cheese won't be killing half the children's lunch while I work on it. I hear Jason on a work call and am glad his job provides so well for us. And the children are quietly playing games in playroom. Life is wonderful and I'm thankful for that!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 6

Day 6: Nice Surprises.

Today I'm thankful for fun little surprises. One of the best surprises is getting a card in the mail just because I'm special! It's so heart warming and puts a smile on my face for days! I notice my children love it as well and we have tried to do a better job of sending notes and cards to our loved ones just because. It's the smallest things sometimes that make such a big impact.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 5

Day 5: Tough Jobs.

Today I am thankful for all the people out there that have thankless tough jobs. Of course in my selfishness I would recognize all Mommies first! But then I look at all the waste management people, UPS guys, mailpersons, stock boys, waiters/waitresses, and the list goes on! It's tough to work and it's even tougher to do those jobs no one else really wants to do. I'm thankful that those individuals are productive members of society, setting a good example for their children (if they have any) and their willingness to do those jobs. Those of you who do those jobs, you are the ones that make the world go around and today I'm thankful for you!

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 4

Day 4: Special Nature Spot

So today I am thankful for the great outdoors. There are a few times I remember the nature of a spot being incredibly overwhelming and my top three favorites are as follows (not in any particular order).

The top of the volcano, Haleakala in Maui. We watched the sunrise above the clouds from the top of the mountain and then road a bike to the bottom. It was the most breath taking sunrise I've ever seen.

A hiking path on the pacific ocean cliffs in Pacifica, CA. I was able to go once a year several years in a row for a swim meet, and as exciting and fun as the meet was, the hike was my favorite part! Right on the edge of cliffs, waves crashing below, it was awesome!

The other time was the only time I remember camping as a young teenager and I woke up in the morning just before sunrise and watching the forest grow lighter and listening to the animals wake up. It was a really cool moment.

So I'm thankful for these favorite spots in nature, but I generally enjoy all nature under 95* but then water is required for the outdoors to be enjoyed=D

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 3

Day 3: Family Member?

Today I'm thankful for my husband. For his hard work and commitment to us. He is a wonderful and amazing father, husband, friend, boss, co-worker, pastor, guild mate, dungeon master, neighbor and do-it-yourselfer. There are always so many options for ways to spend time and money and I'm thankful for a man that constantly strives to use all his resources more efficiently, keeping me honest to my faith, beliefs, goals and responsibilities.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 2

Day 2: Governing Body

Without getting into politics, today I am grateful for people who want to improve our country, states, cities and even school districts! Politics is messy as is everything that is run by humans, but it is truly awesome to see when people mix their passions with their talents in hopes to make things a little better.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 1

So yes, it's November 2nd, but what the heck! I'll be grateful twice today!

I'm sure this will get more difficult as the month moves on, but I'd like to take this challenge and post everyday something I'm thankful for.

Day 1: Where you live?

Today I am thankful for living both in America, in Texas and in Richardson. So many things around me I love. Of course it's easy to love the ever changing Dallas weather this time a year as it's always awesome outside (even when it's raining!). I love the neighbors we've gotten to know, our friends nearby, the parks and walking spaces near our house and the schools around us. We live in a very privileged area of the world and I am thankful that I don't have to worry about feeding my children, or keeping them safe. We have clothes, food, a house, vehicles and lots of love. Today I am thankful for all of it.

Best Wishes, Thoughts and Prayers

So when something bad or scary is happening or has happened most people respond either with something ridiculous because they are insensitive or don't know what to say OR they respond by giving you best wishes, thoughts and prayers.

Do you ever wonder what best wishes, thoughts and prayers involve?

What are best wishes? A good luck statement to let you know they hope it turns out OK for you but in the meantime you're on your own, so hopefully you have some really awesome people that love you somewhere.

What are thoughts? Random things that fly through your head, most unworthy of speaking or writing down (unless you are one of those awesomely creative individuals!). Occasionally our thoughts will lead to something awesome, but rarely as it is the action upon those thoughts that lead to the awesomeness.

Then of course you have prayers. We all know prayers are our conversation with God and the rest of the Trinity. I believe prayer can change everything, it has for me, several times in my life. A sincere commitment to prayer can radically change lives all around you and it's awesome when you meet a prayer warrior that does radically change lives. However, the rest of us struggle to pray. We can't always remember to talk to God every meal, much less everyday. And when we do remember to pray, it's often loaded with selfishness or some formality we take lightly. Sure we hit our knees when we encounter a crisis and occasionally when we celebrate an awesome event, but really prayer is one of our weakest links. So we tend to treat it as a failure and say, "goodbye," even without realizing it.

Well, when you hear someone say they will pray for you, does it impact you? Does it give you hope? Do you feel the instant comfort that comes when you've been prayed for, the awesome sensation of the Holy Spirit resting on your soul? Or instead do you feel like it's an empty promise, offered to you because the respondent has nothing else to give?

In this cynical world I'm going to hope for the positive. I'm going to say, even if it doesn't offer you the same great feeling as when someone takes the time right then and there to pray for you, it offers something bigger. I believe the offering of prayer allows someone to express their deepest desire to emotionally help you out and in that moment the Creator is hearing the prayer. Even if they never remember to pray for you again, the Lord has heard the plea on your behalf.

As a Christian, I find it challenging to keep up with my offerings of prayer and occasionally will even say a blanket statement like, "Lord, you know who I encountered this week that needs prayer, please be with them." I desire so much for everyone, but everyone wears me so thin and I don't have a prayer log or journal to keep it all straight. So I hope to not just take more time to pray, but to take more time to pray in the moment. So instead of offering to pray for someone, I actually do. It'll only take a minute. And who knows, maybe it'll speak miracles into the heart of those well wishers and thinkers, giving them confidence and courage to seek Christ.

So here's to being a prayerful individual, offering hope, peace, love, acceptance and encouragement when others need it most. We can't give them those things, but God can.