Monday, November 29, 2010

Small Gifts

I unpacked a box of Christmas decorations today, and found a gift we were given last Christmas. It was yet another symbol of God's blessings to us, and a reminder to never forget to count those blessings... those gifts.

281. Beautiful, thoughtful gifts from our former congregation; an expression of thanks to my husband, their shepherd, as we moved on to a new flock.

282. The glow of the Christmas lights on our tree, and how they warm the dark, cold nights of winter.

283. A little girl fascinated by her shoes.

284. The hum of my diswasher and the extra minutes it gives me to do something else that needs doing.

285. Warm baths and giggly, splashing little girls.

286. The holiday scent of apples and cinnamon.

287. The joy of giving.

288. Advent meditations.

289. Laughter -- contagious and real.

290. Sweet memories and old friends.

What are you grateful for?

holy experience

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grateful for "Cheese"

While I may not be American by birth, I have always felt American at heart. Most likely due to the "brainwashing"... err... I mean "educating"... err... of course I mean "lovin'" I've received from my years on the mission field with friends, adopted aunts and uncles, and teachers who all came from the US, celebrating American Thanksgiving has always come more easily to me than remembering that Canadian Thanksgiving is in October! After all, we got several days off school in November, but Canadian Thanksgiving (more commonly known in the US as "Columbus Day") passed by with a mere mention! 

So, as my parents enjoy a visit with my brother, who very wisely married a wonderful Oklahoma girl, and now is raising two mighty fine little Texans, I join my American friends in giving thanks today. I may not be able to say I'm grateful for Turkey, since we'll be having meatloaf tonight, but I am grateful for cheese. The cheesiest of cheese wrapped up in a silly little bundle of energy known as my 2 year old, Abbie Joy:

She makes me grateful every day, for God's unexpected gifts!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Give It Away

Last year, after fighting the holiday crowds in the mall, stressing over last minute gifts and wondering how I was going to pay for it all, I came to a rather disturbing realization. I hated Christmas. Or rather, I hated what Christmas had become. Without realizing it, I had allowed the materialism of the holiday, the anxiety about finding the perfect gift and the pride of ensuring my home looked like a Hallmark Christmas card, to overshadow the true meaning of Christmas! It was a humbling moment.

Not long after this revelation, I tuned in to our local Christian radio station and heard words that led my husband and I make some rather radical changes to how we spend the holidays. “Give this Christmas away.” *

With those words, we did a complete about-face in how we approached the holiday season. Intentionally putting less emphasis on the decorations, the baking (and eating!), and gift giving, we turned our eyes to that lowly manger and chose to follow God’s example by giving of ourselves and from the abundance He has blessed us with. From the lonely widow down the street, to the family struggling to make ends meet, to the orphan in Africa, we discovered a multitude of creative ways to “give this Christmas away."

*"Give This Christmas Away" by Matthew West

Many Thanks

It's been a busy week, full of blessings. 

holy experience

250. Family date nights - out on the town with my best peeps, daddy and Abbie.
251. strolls after dinner
252. "love yous" and hugs unprompted
253. silliness and money to buy fun toys for a silly little girl
254. Sun, crisp morning air and mountains dusted in snow
255. veterans and those who gave their lives for my freedom
256. moments that catch me off guard, and make me pause and say "we are blessed"
257. a hubby who announces that I can sleep in in the morning and that he'll make breakfast!
258. calls home and fun chats with family I don't see often
259. Saturdays with nothing to do but watch movies on TV
260. Panago pizza literally right next door to our home

What are you grateful for?

Monday, November 08, 2010

My Morning Cup of Gratitude

I love it when I can combine my random holiday celebrations with my Monday list of gifts for which I am grateful! Today, in honour of National Cappuccino Day, I give you my ongoing list of all coffee-related gifts (starting with the cappuccino) for which I am thankful in images:

What are you thankful for today?

holy experience

Monday, November 01, 2010

Simple Things...

In the stillness of our quiet home this afternoon, I took stock. While listening to the gentle rain hitting the living room window, I snuggled under a cozy blanket, breathed in the smell of a clean house, and savoured the silence that comes as a energy-filled toddler naps. And I counted.

225. Beautifully knit blankets, full, soft and warm. 
226. The hum of a heater. 
227. Creativity in action. 
228. Christmas lists and plans. 
229. The sounds of praise in a variety of languages. 
230. African brothers & sisters dancing in worship. 
231. Tender moments and stolen kisses. 
232. Warm mugs of coffee on dreary, weary Monday mornings. 
233. A little monkey named Momo. 
234. The smell and softness of my daughter's skin after a bath. 
235. New fragrances and body mists. 
236. Tea party's with little princesses. 
237. Simple meals and full bellies.

What are you grateful for?