Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Grace...

Naomi decorating her tree

Over this past year, "Grace" has been the theme of many of the books I've been reading.  This has not been intentional, but yet is not a coincidence either.  Grace is more than a small prayer before meals. W.E. Vine defines grace as "the divine quality of goodwill, friendliness, favorable regard, and extravagant loving kindness."  In my devotional this morning, the author, Selwyn Hughes describes grace as "the strength God gives us to live as His Son lived when He was here upon the earth."  

So, as I sit on the eve of December 1, when the hustle and bustle really begins, I pray for grace:  

 - grace for myself to not become overwhelmed by my expectations of what Christmas should or shouldn't be, 

 - grace for the times of rushing and running late, 

 - grace for my children that they will see in me such extravagant loving kindness.

Sophie indulging in the first of the Peppermint Joe Joe's

Chloe's turn to put the star on the tree

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Grumbly Hateful or Humbly Grateful...

Growing up, on one of the many cassette tapes we listened to was a song that went something like this, "Are you Grumbly Hateful or Humbly Grateful?  What's your attitude?  Do you grumble and groan or let it be known you're grateful for all God's done for you?"  To be honest, I've been more of the grumbly hateful this week and I'm disgusted in myself when I'm like that.  Why can't I put a smile on, not out of pretense, but out of a truly grateful heart for all that God has done for me?

I have three precious little girls who love to do things like put raisin smiley faces on gingerbread snowmen, who smile over going to our favorite bakery, and who indulge me in leaf taking pictures.  In the wee hours of the morning, one of them woke up with a bad dream.  But when I entered their room, my sweet middle daughter was comforting the youngest from her bed.  "It's ok, Sophie.  It's ok.  God is with you, Sophie.  It's ok."  My heart melted...  I am thankful this morning for cries in the monitor and for the strength to get up.  Otherwise, I would have missed such precious words.

God, give me a heart that is humbly grateful...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

The year before we had our first child, I heard a radio program with Dennis & Barbara Rainey concerning the holiday of Thanksgiving.  It inspired me to want to teach my children the values, hardships, and blessings found in our nation's history.  I realized how little I knew about the first Thanksgiving with it's rich heritage of freedom and faith.  I immediately bought Barbara Rainey's book, Thanksgiving:  A Time to Remember.  (It also comes with a lovely CD of Thanksgiving music - a rarity!)

It can be read in it's entirety in one sitting, or divided into the days before Thanksgiving, or even just the bold portions read if little ones are present and not able to sit for long.  This has been our main Thanksgiving tradition since our oldest was a baby.  We read through the book in one of those three ways mentioned and write three things as a family for which we are thankful for each year in the back of the book.  There have been years when we read it  around a breakfast of french toast or cinnamon rolls, while other years we read it in the car on our way to my grandma's house.  

Slowly, I am learning that it really doesn't matter how we celebrate each holiday, but instead with what attitude are we celebrating.  I can easily become consumed with expectations (that I have put upon myself) of having the perfect breakfast and spending time everyday before Thanksgiving having my children write notes of gratitude on a perfect little Thanksgiving tree, banner, or whatever else I've stumbled upon on Pinterest.  Please don't get me wrong.  All of these things have the right intentions behind them.  But if I don't have time to do them, and all we accomplish is read books from the library on Thanksgiving, then it's ok.  There are different seasons in life...

Here are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving books; some we've collected, some from the library.  (Thanks again to my sweet husband for putting together these rain gutter bookshelves in our littlest girls' room.)

  • Sarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra
  • T'was the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey (one of our favorites!) - Click on the title to watch a video of the story
  • An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott - classic!
  • A Pioneer Thanksgiving by Barbara Greenwood
  • The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene
  • Saying Grace: A Prayer of Thanksgiving by Virginia Kroll 
  • The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George - beautiful illustrations!
  • Over the River and Through the Woods by Lydia Child - a modern day view.
  • The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern

There really are some incredible ideas out there to help guide our families to have the right perspective for Thanksgiving.  We've done of few of these in the past and may do others in the future.  Once again, I believe the key is having the attitude that Thanksgiving is all about what God has done in the past, what He is doing now, and choosing to be thankful for the blessings He's given us.  

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thanksgiving ideas:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Season of Thanksgiving

After blogging every day for month, it was nice to take a break and reevaluate why I did so and try to actually put into practice some of the ideas that I found through this journey.  Still much to learn... But moving on.  The month of November naturally permeates the sights and smells of fall.  Pumpkins, cinnamon, apple cider, and wood burning does the heart good!  This truly is my favorite season of the year.  But what I love most is the holiday of Thanksgiving.  To me, it is the one holiday that commercialism has not infiltrated.  There are not excessive decorations, candy, costumes, and presents attached to this one day.  Thanksgiving... the day says it all.  It's a day when we can stop, gather with family, (eat way too much food!), and remember all that God has done for us.  Our little family has added a few Thanksgiving traditions over the years.  Over the next week, I hope to share those, our favorite Thanksgiving books, and a few other ideas to help us once again come to a place of gratitude.

Three of my greatest blessings!