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One Thousand Gifts ~ Mother’s Day Give Away!

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

{this post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting this blog!}

UPDATE: give away closed!
WINNER: Jenn from Treasuring Life’s Blessings

It’s no secret that Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite authors.  Every Monday I try to share my gift list that keeps on and on growing…I’ve counted more than 3,600 gifts here on my blog!! Little love letters from my Savior…he keeps giving and giving and loving and loving. I’ve read her book, One Thousand Gifts, twice now. And I’m in the middle of her devotional. So, when I was approached about having a give away of this book, One Thousand Gifts, I jumped at the chance!! To share this book with one of YOU?? Yes, please! :)

Has my life radically changed since reading this book? No.
Have all my problems disappeared? No.

So what is so great about this book? Learning to be thankful in the hard moments is what is changing me…changing my perspective…making me a more truly grateful person. My life is not radically different, but my perspective is. 

There is always something to be thankful for…
In the midst of heartache, He is faithful.
In the midst of a lonely day, He is friend.
In the midst of the valley of the shadow of death, He is comfort.
In the midst of chaos, He is peace.

I am so excited to be able to gift one of these precious books with you, one of my dear readers!! Just in time for Mother’s Day!!

Ann Voskamp is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, One Thousand Gifs: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreShe is also the wife of a farmer, the home-educating mother to a half-dozen kids and a storyteller who keeps a camera shutter close. Ann writes about gritty grace and a magnificent God at www.aholyexperience.com.

Give Away Details:
1. Leave me a comment telling me one hard thing you’ve learned to be thankful for.
2. Leave a comment by Friday, May 2nd, and I’ll post the winner that day.
3. If you’d like an extra entry, share on facebook, twitter, google +.
4. Please leave an email so that I can contact you if you should win!

Making plans {frugality & contentment}

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

So, this is my year of contentment. What started as a simple breath prayer begging God to give me joy in the here and now, contentment in the plenty we do have & peace with who I am in Christ…has bled over into other areas of my life.

I think contentment & simplicity go hand in hand. I recently shared about reading Almost Amish & The Dirty Life and how I long for a more “simple” life. But, what exactly does that look like? Well, for starters, I don’t have a formula for you…there aren’t 3 easy steps to leading a simple life. Bummer, right?

I think God’s path for each of our lives is unique…we all have our burdens, we all have our unique families, we all have to learn these lessons in the context of our own lives. So, in sharing these blog posts on contentment & simplicity, I’m not sharing a formula, I’m sharing from my heart in the places God is leading me…sharing in an effort to be transparent and in an effort to bring some accountability for myself.

When Edie asked us to share posts on our plans for this year {linking up here,} being intentional, making “time” work for us…I thought this would be a great time to outline some of my thoughts & plans for this year…some of which I’ve shared and some of which I just need to “get down on paper.”

I have shared about how I’m terrible at sticking to a budget. I’m not a huge spender, but it’s the $3 candle and $5 clearance shirt that KILL us every month.  Well, I have news in this arena…

JANUARY HAS BEEN A HUGE SUCCESS IN THE BUDGET CATEGORY. Woot. Thank you for letting me share my success and excitement.

Ways we are saving money, living frugally: 

  • menu planning ~ January’s meals, February’s meals
  • not going into walmart! ha! I know, so silly, but when I don’t go in, I don’t spend the money.  Thankfully, my accountant/frugal husband is happy to go grocery shopping for me because he knows he is saving himself money. :)
  • shopping thrift stores when we have a need – I love thrift stores, but even in these places I can “nickel and dime us” to death, ya know? I always seem to come home with things we never needed to begin with. (but hey, at least it was only .50 right?!) So, when we needed a few more measuring cups, I went and found them for .50 at the thrift store instead of $5-10 new at the store!
  • cooking more ~ ugh. I wish I enjoyed being in the kitchen, but this is a true sacrifice of love for my husband and children. Not that my children appreciate it. ha! But, our budget certainly does! See meal plans for Jan & Feb above.
  • Not only am I trying to cook and plan dinners every night, but I’m making our granola, snacks, yogurt – using this method with this maker. The trick to the yogurt is to add dried milk to your recipe!!
  • Using Dr. Bronner’s soap for many, many things: body wash, making my own liquid soap, laundry soap, etc. This soap is frugal, fair trade AND no chemicals. Better for us on all accounts. :)
  • making my own lotion & lip balm with coconut oil l- these are 2 products I love but don’t love spending a lot of money on the good, quality items. These items I’ve been making at home are SO cheap in comparison.
  • shopping with Azure Standard for many things we already use – see if there is a local drop-point in your area!! We have one in Knoxville and these are excellent deals on organics and produce! I’m getting ORGANIC apples for less than regular apples at walmart.
  • not using anymore paper towels or clorox wipes – this has actually been a challenge for me. We used clorox wipes for EVERYTHING. But, it has been fulfilling to use things from around the house – making rags from old t-shirts, using knitted washcloths, etc. I am using a vinegar/water spray to clean most things. It hasn’t really created extra laundry yet, as I just throw in the used rags when I do towels. I’m hoping I get more used to this as time goes on. We’ve used cloth napkins for quite awhile now, that wasn’t as hard to implement for some reason.
  • simple things like taking a big glass of sweet tea in the van with me on our day out of the house instead of going through the drive-thru. Trying to bring snacks and such with us so we aren’t tempted.
Being intentional about cultivating a heart of contentment:
    • memorizing scriptures that I can breathe, speak & pray throughout my day
    • starting each day with a thankful heart
    • not shopping nearly as much – just not going in the stores is huge for my heart
    • deleting a few blogs from my google reader – I love blogs. Lots of blogs…most of them encourage me, but a few of them leave me wanting a bigger home, a prettier home, more, more, more…so I’m choosing to read more blogs that encourage me toward a frugal and simple life instead of those that discourage me and leave me feeling discontent. A few of my new favorites are: Homestead Revival, Like Mother Like Daughter, Backyard Farming
    • reading books that motivate me toward simplicity. books such as:

Simple AbundanceAlmost AmishThe Dirty LifeHannah Coulter

So, leading a simple and frugal life – learning to be content with what we have – is not easy. I’m learning very quickly that simple does NOT equal easy. It takes a lot of work and intentionality. But it’s fulfilling work. It does my heart good to know I’m feeding my husband and children better foods. It does my heart good to know I’m saving more of my husband’s hard earned money. It does my heart good to know and reflect on the fact that we are blessed.
Counting my blessings has such an impact on my heart and my perspective. Continuing to count…day after day…to see God’s faithfulness in our lives…to name the blessings one by one…counting these gifts is truly cultivating a heart of contentment in me. I’m so thankful. 

Start each day…

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}
{this is a picture of my sponsored child’s home & kitchen on the left ~ in Belize. 
This picture is just a small reminder of how blessed we are in this country and in our home.}

As I have prayed about my word of the year {contentment} I have been prompted to begin looking for practical ways to cultivate a habit and heart of contentment in my life.

God is already drawing my heart to Himself and showing me just what contentment looks like.

I pray that with each day in 2013, I will learn to be more and more content in Christ.

I want to be content with who He made me to be. This is a big one for me. As I have struggled with depression off and on in the past, I have been angry at God for giving me the “melancholy” personality. I’m too sensitive. I’m too weepy. I wear my feelings on my sleeve and I.hate.it. God has shown me, in the past few years, that He created me with this sensitive heart for a reason. I can’t say that I fully accept this with a heart full of gratitude each and everyday. But, I’m getting there. :)

I want to be content with the many blessings He has given me…and not always wanting more. I find myself wanting more from myself, more from my children, more for my home, more this, more that. I want to be perfectly happy and content with the MULTITUDE of blessings He has already bestowed and not always looking for the next best thing!!

I want to be content in Christ. I want Jesus to be my joy. I want to not let my circumstances determine my attitude. I don’t want my children’s arguments and complaining to ruin my day. I want to learn to fully BELIEVE that no one can rob me of my joy if it comes from Christ alone.

So, what does this look like on a practical level?? Well, that is one thing I will be exploring this year with my word of the year. But, so far, while acknowledging that I do not have all the answers and this is very much a journey, God has impressed on my heart a few things…

Practical ways to cultivate contentment…

1. I want to start each day with a thankful heart. Truly, such a simple thing like counting my blessings has TREMENDOUS impact on my heart and my attitude. Right now I’m using this book. I’m physically writing down and counting my blessings in the mornings as I spend time praying and reading God’s Word. I want to continue this habit until it’s so natural I don’t even have to remind myself.
2. I want to memorize and recite and speak and pray Scriptures so much so that my heart overflows with the words of Christ and not the words of the enemy.
3. I am placing pictures, verses and reminders around my home as VISUAL reminders of these truths.
4. I am not going into stores as often. I am blessed with a husband who doesn’t mind grocery shopping (mostly because he is the frugal one and knows he will spend less! ha!) so the LESS I go in walmart, the LESS money I spend!!
5. When I have items in my amazon cart, I am leaving them a little longer to give me time to realize I don’t need it. ha!

Can you help me think of other ways to practically cultivate contentment in our hearts and homes? I’d love to hear your thoughts!! 

Continuing the counting, naming and numbering of my blessings…believing and trusting that a heart of gratitude truly does breed contentment! 
slow January days
wrapped in blankets, reading a book
hot cider
getting back to routine
new year. new planner.
mom bringing me a large sweet tea after a rough morning
playing scrabble with the family
playing boggle with papa and nana
getting a meal plan finished
working on more homemade recipes
sparkling grape juice on new year’s
starting a new Biblewith my kids (we’re starting in the NT, with Jesus birth)

#3443 – 3454

These are a few of my favorite things…

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

Last year I saw this fun idea on Nester’s blog…and while I never had a “favorite things” party in my home, I did share my favorite things here on the blog and lots of others did on their blogs too! So, we just had cyber space favorite things parties. :)

I thought I would share my favorites again this year….it’s fun to find new favorites!

Here’s Nester’s link for the Favorite Things Party 2012!! {Is it ok that I stole your graphic, Nester, since I’m linking up? I hope so!} :)

My favorite new socks. I love socks. I love cute socks. I know, I’m weird. On my birthday I got to go to a huge super target that’s over an hour away…and they had CUTE SOCKS  on sale big time!! I was super excited. :)

Found the links at Target!  I got these and these and these. The sale at this Target was 5 pairs for $10! can’t beat that for cute socks! ha!

Another new-ish favorite to me is Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, dish soap and all purpose spray. This stuff smells soooooo good! Guess what? They don’t have it at our small town redneck walmart…but I found it at the huge super target on my birthday!! :) This hand soap in HONEYSUCKLE is amazing.

I am not trying to toot my own horn or anything (I didn’t come up with the recipe actually!!) But this new lotion I’ve been making is FABULOUS!! I have been using it consistently for weeks now, have made several batches and still love it so much!! I especially love that each jar is less than $1 when you divide up the costs!! :) And ya’ll, it literally takes MOMENTS to make this. I’m not lying. :) I’ve given quite a few as gifts now…I love giving homemade gifts!! This lotion really is one of my new favorites.

For our anniversary in September, we got a Keurig ! oh my, I never thought I would say I love a coffee pot. But, I do. :)

Along with our Keurig, I love the fact that we got the Ekobrew Cup, Refillable Cup. We do use the k-cups and have them on hand for company as well, but I try to use this refillable cup for my daily coffee. :) Less $$ this way!

What about favorite devotionals…well, Jesus Calling is still one of my all time favorite books ever. God continues to speak to me through this book in amazing ways and I’ve been using it for over a year. But, this year, I have a new devotional that I have also been reading that is FABULOUS…a new favorite! If you loved the book,One Thousand Gifts, you will love this also. And these are new devotionals – same theme on gratitude, but it isn’t just excerpts from her book, if that makes sense! And in the back of the book there are journaling pages for counting to 1000 gifts!! As you know, I’ve been counting my gifts here on my blog each Monday and am at more than 3,400!! Wowzers!! But I started in this journal also… each morning I take time to be thankful. :)

Honestly, counting these blessings…naming the gifts…has increased my faith and trust in God. To see in a tangible way the THOUSANDS of little gifts He has given me — oh, HOW HE LOVES US, friends!!

One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces (One Thousand Gifts Journal)

Happy November! {Contentment & Thankfulness}

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}
contentment

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful,

but gratefulness that makes us happy.”
Brother David Steindle-Rast
November is traditionally a month to give thanks. I love that. But, I am learning to cultivate a heart of contentment and thankfulness ALL year long. That is why I keep a gift list..a thankful journal…and take everyday pictures to remind myself to be thankful in the moment.
Well, I have a confession. 
I cannot stick to a budget. I do not consider myself to be a “big spender” but I get a $3 candle, some new lotion, a pair of flip-flops on clearance, etc.  Our grocery budget is craziness. We go through the fast food drive-thru too much. But, ya’ll, I keep telling myself that we do NOT live extravagant lives. {I think I am justifying the spending.}
I want to do better with what God has given us. I really do. And every month I try and fail. So, I’m hoping for a bit of accountability and prayer by sharing here on the blog.
I consider myself a content person. But, maybe I’m not. I love our home. I love our new kitchen walls. I love that I decorated our new plate wall with thrift store plates for less than $10.
Yet, I still buy new things for our home that we don’t need. (whether they are $2 or not doesn’t matter.)
Where do you draw the line? I don’t know.
So, I’m going to explore contentment, thankfulness and prayerfully a little bit of self-control. Denying myself the small pleasures in the moment for the greater reward of faithfulness and the freedom to give MORE. I know all the talk, I’m married to an accountant, we know all the tricks and we KNOW in our heads the right thing to do. (And yes, it drives my hubby crazy that I can’t stick to his budgets.) So this is all me. Amazon is another little problem I have. {ugh}
So, I say all this to say…pray for me! I hope to share more as the month progresses…
AND, if you have gone from being a spender to a saver, I’d love to hear your story!! 

Praying the Psalms {day 30}

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31 days flower pic

Today I want to share with you some practical ideas that God has used to grow my prayer life. I hope some of these ideas are helpful for YOU. You may also have ideas that would be helpful to others!! Please share your ideas in the comments, or if you have a blog, LINK UP with us on the bottom of this post and we can all glean from each other!!

Here are my favorite practical prayer helps! Please, please, PLEASE do not get the idea that I do each of these daily. :) These are all ideas I have used (and loved) in the past…but I do different things in different seasons…whatever fits with my family life, where I am in my walk with God, how much time I have, etc. I don’t ever do more than 1 of these at a time!! These are just tools that help. Don’t make the tools the god, ya know?

1. Tabbed prayer journals – I think these are neat because I wrote out prayers and verses for the special people in my life – I had a tab for David, each child, my church, our pastors, missions, neighbors, etc. Won’t it be amazing for my kids to look back at prayers I have prayed for them? I hope so!!
2. Index cards – this spiral has verses on it that I usually am working towards memorizing. This is probably my MOST used “tool” for prayer. I love to take this little spiral on my walks! I recite scripture and PRAY the scriptures as I get my exercise!!
3. Books – my other favorite and most used tool. If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I read a lot.  Prayer books and guides have enhanced my life so very much. I’m so grateful for the words of other believers and saints around the world who have gone before me…and who have oftentimes a better way with words, and speak words into my heartfelt prayers.
My favorite books on prayer, many of which I’ve mentioned in this series:
4. Typed up verses on cards – these are cards that I want to put MORE onto than I want to write on an index card. I keep the cards together with the metal craft rings. I had a card for each of my children with specific verses typed up for each of them.
5. Creative Journaling – another more recent favorite! I have a post written about this here, and I love, LOVE journaling the scriptures I am praying!!
6. Thankful journal – I try to always start my prayer time off with gratitude. (the picture above is one of my kids journals!) This focuses my heart on GOD and takes my eyes off of myself. I keep a gift list on my blog, that was inspired by Ann Voskamp, her blog and her book. I also have my kids keep thankful journals. These are PRECIOUS to look back on!! If you have kids, start now!!
7. Daily tabbed journal – this is another way to keep prayer requests organized. I have often struggled with SO many people I want to pray for and not being physically able to pray for each of them daily. So, I wrote out different things I would pray for each day – I’m sure you’ve seen this idea before. Sunday I prayed for my church. Monday I prayed for my marriage and husband. Etc.
8. These yellow cards were my spiritual warfare verses that I took on planes to mission trips. :) I have used them in other settings too…and they immediately calm my fears when I start to pray and read and meditate on these truths.
9. Picture cards that I made for my kids – I mentioned these in my series on praying for our kids last year – some people really like the idea of the VISUAL as you pray. I have taken these cards on the treadmill before and just kept the faces looking at me as I prayed for them. :) sweet moments.
AND…#10 – NOT PICTURED, but the best tool of all!! :)
10. JUST DO IT. JUST PRAY. Don’t focus on having the perfect tools. Don’t worry about not having the right words. Don’t worry that your heart is in the wrong place. Don’t fret about not doing it right. JUST PRAY. Honestly, the more I pray, the more I want to pray. 

And that has only come with time. And prayer.

So…these are my favorite tools for prayer — WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITES?? Please share in the comments or by linking up with a specific blog post (or 2) that you have written about prayer!! Let’s encourage one another to get on our knees!!

**If you’d like to read all the posts in this series, click here for a full list

Day 10: Praying for Hearts of Graditude

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

 

thankfuldogwood
Last Monday I combined my 31 days series with my weekly Gift List of counting my blessings…today I want to do the same, but a little differently. :)
Today I want to pray prayers of blessing and gratitude for my children’s hearts…that God would grow in them a heart of gratitude and contentment.
“May my child learn to be content whatever the circumstances. Knowing what it is to be in need, and knowing what it is to have plenty. May my child learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. May my child do everything through Him who gives her strength.” Phil. 4:11-13
“Just as my child received Christ Jesus as Lord, may he continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.” Col. 2:6-7.
“May my child shout for joy to You. May my child worship You with gladness; may he come before You with joyful songs. May my child know that You are God. It is You who made us, and we are Yours; we are Your people, the sheep of His pasture. My my child enter Your gates with thanksgiving, and Your courts with praise; may my child always give thanks to You and praise Your name. For You are good, Lord and Your loves endures forever; Your faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100
As I count my blessings each week with Ann at A Holy Experience, I am also praying that God would instill in my children a heart of gratitude. Thankfulness. Peace and contentment through it all…thankful for each moment.

 

Broken ~ the next chapter in my depression story…

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}
I have had so many thoughts running through my mind to share with you, dear friends. Most of them haven’t made it to this little space, but tonight, I write with the goal of awareness.
I am a wife, mom and home schooling mom and I struggle with depression. Right now I find myself falling fast, head first into another low period in my life. I have been here before. Strangely, I thought that if I had been here before, surely I would never feel this badly again.
I was mistaken.
Most of you know, I weaned off the lexapro due to side effects I was growing weary of…I hoped, I prayed, I begged God to let me be ok without meds. He did not answer those prayers in the way I had hoped. I started a new medication almost 3 weeks ago.
I have been through the feelings of anger towards God. I have cried out to Him, telling Him how I thought it should go…what I thought He could do…even telling Him how I would give Him the glory if He would heal me.
But, He allows me the path of suffering. I know, with all my heart, He has chosen me for this road…and there is a purpose in my hurting. I do not doubt this at all. For this, I give thanks…truly, I can say, “thank you” through the tears. I cling to the Psalms during these days…and He gives me hope.
Even reading through my gift list, even knowing that He is a good God, even believing that He allows those He loves to suffer, believing these things with my head and even deep into my very soul does not take the pain away.
Jesus cried, “take this cup from me…” and when God did not take the cup, He faced the cross.
I do not compare my suffering to that of Jesus. I just pray that through this He will make me more and more like Him, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.

My new medication is not working, apparently and obviously. It is discouraging to think that I have another week before seeing the doctor and then 4-6 more weeks of wondering if yet another medication will work. Sometimes, it is hard to imagine making it through the next hour. Not all my hours are bad…but when they are, they are bad.

Generally, my mornings are hard when I am struggling and down. However, this time around, the evenings have been bad. Supper is disastrous, and I go find somewhere to cry.

Please, please, I’m not sharing all of this for pity. I share all of this because so very often if you ask how I am, I will not know what to say. I’m sorry, I know a few of you (dear mom) will want to call me…I won’t know what to say. So, I write here for tonight. Please accept my words as a personal letter to you, my friends…I have never been good at communicating my feelings, but I realized that I do have this outlet – and for tonight, I use this to bring awareness to those of you who have no clue how I’m feeling…and to bring encouragement to those of you who are suffering right now, too. I have learned that I can write out my feelings much more than I can speak them.

People who struggle with depression struggle with incorrect feelings or thoughts. About myself, I usually say “irrational feelings” because I know in my head that what I’m thinking and feeling at this moment is, indeed, irrational. Knowing that does not help, however.

Tonight, the irrational thoughts that crossed my mind, as I sat on my bed and cried, were:
  • I’m a bad wife – I cannot get a good, decent meal on the table.
  • I’m a bad mom – I am not “fun” and my kids are going to be ruined because of my struggles to keep being mom day in and day out. One of my biggest fears, as I have walked this road of depression, is how much I am failing my children.
  • I’m a bad homeschool mom – I cannot be consistent with anything when I’m in a low period.
  • I’m a bad Christian – I had to start taking medication again AND it’s not even helping. I can’t help more at church, I can’t serve here, I have to say “no” and have tremendous guilt over it.
  • I’m a bad friend – I can’t bear to even read facebook to see the “normal” and “fabulous” lives that everyone else is living. (I know – I KNOW, everyone has problems!! I know this, yet I can’t read facebook without the statuses of those I know haunting my thoughts – just being very real.)
  • I’m also a bad wife because I can’t control my spending.
  • I’m also a failure at this healthier journey thing.
  • I’m a failure as a friend because I don’t know how to be one. I don’t know what to say on the phone. I don’t know when to call people. Those “incorrect thoughts” tell me that people are annoyed with me…so why would I want to call?
  • I have a hard time in big groups usually when I am like this. I get this overwhelming feeling that I don’t belong in whatever place I’m in.
There you have it, I’m broken. I’m needy.

I guess I want people to know that you can cling to God with all your heart and still hurt.

I’m being very real here. I wanted to type out my feelings…still haven’t decided if I’m going to hit the “publish” button. This is me in the midst of depression. This is what it is like. These are the thoughts running through my mind. It’s not just that I think I’m a bad mom, I physically CANNOT get it out of my mind…I start thinking about how this is my fault that I struggle, if I were more this or more like that…if only I knew how to relate better to people, if only I enjoyed cooking, if only I was a people peron, if only. (See, very irrational, I know.)

Just a little glimpse into the heart of a depressed girl…your prayers are very much coveted. I know I will be ok. I know God is with me, He loves me, He has a purpose even in this.

Part of His plan is to give me the gift of brokenness. Do not think that I am wallowing in self-pity. I am humble and broken and learning more and more daily about how desperate I am for God. His grace truly is sufficient. I am a different person than I was 10 years ago. And you know what, I think I can safely say now – even through the valleys – that I am better for it. I can say that because I know He is making me more and more like His son. He is showing me a tiny glimpse of Himself…

He is a good God…and I praise Him in this storm.

God Smiles…

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

“The gift list is thinking upon His goodness – and this, this pleases Him most! And profits my own soul and I am beginning, only beginning, to know it. If clinging to His goodness is the highest form of prayer, then this seeing His goodness with a pen, with a shutter, with a word of thanks, these really are the most sacred acts conceivable. The ones anyone can conceive, anywhere, in the midst of anything. Eucharisteo takes us into His love. ” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 61.

“All of these things we are listing in our thankful journals, they are all ways that God is showing us He loves us! Look at how long your list is! Look at how much He loves you!”

At the beginning of Lent I helped my children to get started on their own gift lists. I really felt like the Lord prompted me to try this with them, and now I know why.

I encourage the girls everyday, just whenever I think about it, to jot down something they love or something they are thankful for. With Caleb, I will just ask him every now and then and write down his items for him.

Every few days I gather the kids up, we all bring our journals to my bed or outside on the patio and we share a few items from our own gift lists. The kids have absolutely *loved* hearing items from my list, especially when it is something about them that I am thankful for! {grin}

“Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 151.

Here are a few from Hannah’s list:

  • the plants growing
  • swimming
  • eating lunch at church
  • eating cheesecake with Nana
  • penguins
  • my birthday
  • folding clothes with Nana
  • going to visit grandma
  • wearing a new dress
  • playing with Will outside

Here are a few from Emily’s list:

  • building at Lowe’s with daddy
  • planting flowers
  • swinging
  • my brother and sister
  • doing school with mommy
  • going out to eat
  • Nana and Papa
  • Kari Jobe songs
  • woodpeckers
  • painting

Here are a few from Caleb’s list:

  • Buddy
  • playing with Buddy
  • swimming
  • swinging
  • Buddy licking me
  • Katie coming over to play
  • swimming with Jacob and Mattie
  • playing outside with Will, Colin and Jack
  • banana with peanut butter
  • orange juice
  • pumpkin muffins

As you know, I have been keeping my gratitude list or “gift list” since September of 2009 on this blog. I have counted over 1500 gifts thus far…and am still counting. Grace after grace. Gift after gift. Moment after moment. And God keeps on giving. He keeps on showing me His love.

And this week, well He gave me a new gift as I listened to my children read to me from their lists. My heart just wanted to burst with joy as I listened to the little, everyday, simple pleasures that my children were thankful for. My prayers are being answered…God is growing in each of us a thankful heart.

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

And, in that moment of joy, when my heart was so proud of my kids and so full of God’s joy…in that moment, I had a realization. If I am this happy over my children naming God’s gifts…just imagine God’s joy as I list my gifts each day. Just imagine.

I believe that as I’m naming His graces in my life, as I’m counting my blessings, as I’m giving Him the glory, that He smiles.

Thankful for God’s Word…

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This post is going to be a little bit different. I was thinking of what to write for my Bible in 90 Days ~ Week 5 ~ post, while at the same time counting my blessings for Multitude Monday, while at the same time enjoying a quiet morning at home alone.

I stayed home from church this morning. All by myself. :) Ahhhh…don’t get me wrong, I love my church. I love worshiping with a body of believers. I love the fellowship. I believe in small groups and the power of encouragement.

But, sometimes, this introvert just needs a little bit of quiet. I can always tell when it’s been a few weeks without this quiet time. I need it. I don’t mean “quiet time” with the Lord, I pray and read God’s word daily because I need it so desperately. But, I just mean quiet. No screaming, fighting, Wii, running and stomping through the house…

Sometimes I just need a break. And that’s ok, I think. I’ve come to accept that about myself. (hopefully my hubby has too!! ha!)

So this morning as I stayed home I spent a long while sitting on my bed with my Bible, my prayer books and my notebook. I opened my Bible and just read and prayed outloud to God. I said Psalm 91 to Him…and for me.

I hungrily devoured the Words of God…the very Bread of Life that sustains me. I drank from the River of Life…the Fountain of Joy…

And I am refreshed. I am at peace. I am filled with joy. I woke up with feelings of despair, but He has filled me with Himself and given me hope.

For all of this, I give thanks.

His Word…alive and breathing into my soul.

His voice…that I can hear so clearly through His Word.

His peace…that He gives with Himself.

His love…that envelops my heart as I reach out to Him.

Bible in 90 Days readers and prayer warriors!!

prayer books that speak my heart when I have no words…

talking to God about my struggles

giving Him my heart. again and again.

those noisy children, without whom life would be WAY too quiet! :)

the noise that makes me appreciate the quiet even more

the moments of despair that make me appreciate the joy

the love of my Savior, nothing like it

#1330 ~ 1341