Monday, November 28, 2011

Stationery card

Rejoice In Him Religious Christmas Card
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Thanksgiving trail

Our family recently enjoyed a Thanksgiving road trip to the great state of Alabama.  It was our first lengthy road trip since Daddy’s return and BOY did we have a car full!  The two of us plus two kids and two dogs…Whew...Equals one packed car!  Before we left, we enjoyed a mock-Thanksgiving meal in our own home complete with fine china and candlelight.  D thought it was really something special.  He took one look at the table and said, “Oh, Momma!  Thank you so much for doing this!”  His heart of gratitude made me smile in satisfaction, for our family began a new tradition this year: 30 days of Thanksgiving.  Using a piece of paper from the kids’ giant art tablet, we began to list out daily one thing we were thankful for.  Each of us took turns writing, even D.  It became something to look forward to daily.

My dad had recently undergone knee surgery to replace his left knee.  So things were a little different than normal at my parent’s house.  Dad had a rough go of things following surgery, so we were very anxious to see him for this holiday.  He improved by leaps and bounds right before our very eyes while we were visiting!  He went from barely ambulating to walking the house with a cane in a matter of days.  The kids weren’t sure what to think of their “Poppy” in his condition.  D kept asking how his knee was doing and J wanted to check on his “boo-boo”.  My mom was doing a wonderful job of running the house (of a sorts) and keeping up with Thanksgiving traditions.  Thankful for their 35 years together!

One of our stops along the way was to visit Tim’s widowed grandmother, affectionately known as “Granny”.  Our kids had a wonderful time at her house.  It is an old Alabama country home, but it is so much more than that to my husband.  As a missionary kid, it was one of the few “constants” in his life.  The place is full of things to do and tinker with.  Stuff of a boy’s childhood dreams.  And now Tim is getting the chance to share it with his son.  On our visit they explored the upstairs of the “apartment”, shot 2 kinds of BB guns, went to the wood’s edge, and told tales of nearly-legendary motorcycle jumps.  D’s fascination grew until he was hooked.  He cried when it was time for us to leave.  J, too, had fun living vicariously through her brother’s adventures, though most of his exploring was done during her nap.  As I laid her down to sleep in Granny’s room gently warmed by an antique gas heater, I too rested my head for a bit on the king-sized bed.  For a moment, all was quiet and it gave me pause to think.  My heart felt grateful for the chance to be so full of things to be thankful for, for holidays, and silence, and family.  For old houses and deep memories.  For things that change and things that do not.  For a sleeping baby and an adventure-some boy.  For the man whose Army medals hung across the bedroom on the wall.  For his service in Korea to our country.  For the life he lived and the love he shared.  For the time my son had to know him.  For the soldier we welcomed home this year and his selfless service too.

It was on our travels that I really took time to notice what great playmates our two little arrows have become.  They prefer each other’s company and the number of fights I have to break up is beginning to decrease.  They seek each other out for play and she can do JUST about anything he can.  At three and a half years apart he is old enough to look out for her but still young enough to play her kinds of games.  My prayer is for a life of peace and friendship between them.

As I blog, our family is making its way back to our Army homestead, traveling this long stretch of rainy highway.  This week will no doubt be filled with decorating for the great December celebration.  I love that Thanksgiving (which our family DOES celebrate as a separate holiday-entity unto itself!) ushers in the Christmas season each year.  What more perfect way to ready our homes and our lives for the greatest, most needed gift to humanity than with thankful hearts?!  Finally I can say it…Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

thankFUL

Another week is digested down and the calm pause of the weekend is upon us.  Time for reflection.  Time to breathe.  This the first weekend of November also brings with it thoughts of the season: the season of thanksgiving.  Our family has begun a list, adding to it each day as we take turns putting to paper what our hearts are most grateful for.  And, oh, the things that kids can come up with to give thanks for!  An attitude of gratitude is what we are after.

A good friend (who also yields the pen well) recommended a book to me entitled "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  I, who am a painfully slow reader, have been gnawing away at this book since late summer.  It is not a speed read.  It is a book to nibble on, to mentally savor, to let marinade over on the heart for a while before coming back for more.  The premise of the book is that every day is filled with blessings and joy, it's just up to us to find them and purpose to be grateful for what God has graciously given us, in all things.  On a good day, most of us would agree with that premise if it weren't for the last phrase, '...in ALL things."  And it is that phrase which Voskamp works so diligently at bringing to light.

Less than halfway through this read I find myself, as the providence of God would have it, in the pages about giving thanks during, when else, but the SEASON of giving thanks.  (I love how He watches over us in even the smallest of ways.  His attention to detail, so intimate.)  A look into the New Testament reveals a couple of instances when Jesus Himself gave thanks.  Jesus, the God-man, gave thanks?  Must be an important cause, this cause of giving thanks.  It was round the table with His dearest of worldly friends close by, them not fully understanding the symbolic feast that was before them, that He uttered the words.  "He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (Luke 22:19) This bread, the symbolism of his body soon to be broken, caused Him to give thanks.  What was He thankful for?  The pain?  The physical agony?  The separation to come between He and the Father?  All of it.  For through all of it would come the redemption of mankind, the purpose for which He entered our sphere.  Jesus' work wasn't complete until He himself showed gratitude for the hard thing that God would bring about.

Earlier in the Scripture Jesus was again with those men-friends in the midst of a large crowd.  The crowd was hungry for truth and food.  The Savior had just finished feeding their souls and was ready to feed their stomachs.  What was He given?  Five loaves of bread and two fish.  Only enough food for a small boy.  How did he handle such an offering?  By saying, "Take it back, boy.  It is but a drop in the bucket"?  No.  "Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted." (John 6:11)  As Voskamp says:

"Jesus embraces His not enough...He gives thanks...And there is more than enough.  More than enough!  Eucharisteo (giving of thanks) always, always precedes the miracle."

Twice Jesus shows us how to give thanks in the midst of hard things, the too-tough and the too-little.  Recently a conversation with friends reminded me of the "hard eucharisteo" (to use Voskamp's terminology) Corrie Ten Boom encountered. The lice and fleas were so thick in their concentration camp barracks that the German guards refused to enter, thus allowing those Jews to escape certain abuse and torture.  Corrie encouraged the other Jewish women to give thanks for the lice and fleas.  Thanks for lice and fleas?  When God is Sovereign over all, yes, thanks for lice and fleas.

In this season of Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks IN ALL THINGS.  You never know what miracle is around the corner...and up His sleeve.  Ephesians 5:20 - "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oh, the times they are a-changin'

While fall may have arrived on the calendar it has not quite fully made its appearance in our wardrobes, yet. Besides the seasons, things are changing on the homefront as well. Our once fiercely strong-willed boy who spent everyday in a costume of some form or another now spends his days in a school uniform and has taken to the likes of reading...small books with short words, mind you. But reading nonetheless! Our tiny and "easy" baby girl has become a tall 2 year old with a will that could rival the strength of tungsten metal. Diapers have given way to pull-ups and we are halfway to not needing even those anymore! It feels that babyhood has left this home all together. My point in saying all this is not to discuss whether we are going to have more babies, but to say that our family has changed and moved into a different season. I'm sure we've done it a dozen times before, but this one seems more tangible, more defined than previous times. Sometimes in the sleep deprived craze of having a small baby, I lost sight of our family ever moving past that. I am reminded once again that families DO! And what a joy to watch as my children grow and unfold like a flower opening its blossom upward toward the heavens, revealing their full potential given them by the great Creator.

*Update: since first typing out this post, we have gone back to square one in the pull-up department.  Que sera, sera!!
Our street gang...quite a cute sight, right?!