stretch the time



I just got back from an amazing Thanksgiving vacation with my children and one of my brothers. But like all well deserved vacations, they end too quickly while it's also good to be home.

The time flew by at lightning speed as we visited friends and family. Some stops were filled with pure love and welcoming arms, yet others felt like an imposition. It all seemed to slip through my fingers in equal measure though. I savored every moment moving around plans to stretch the time together, and even still the clock was always in charge of when to say goodbye.

I think that's the hardest part too—having to say goodbye. It's a necessity that hurts. The only way to fix that one is to move, but then there are others to say goodbye to, so I guess time will help things in its way. Somehow it all will sort out. Someday there won't be so many goodbyes.

When all is said and done, I am happy to be home but not happy to be missing part of my heart again.


an audience



As this gratitude month challenge closes, I want to express my gratitude for the chance I've had to share my thoughts with all of you. Without an audience, sometimes writing feels empty or devoid of purpose.

I am thankful for each one of you. I'm thankful for the conversations we've had about what we find important and worthy of mention. I'm thankful for what you have brought to my mind as you have shared your gratitude. 

Thank you for sharing this time with me in whatever capacity. It has made the experience sweet. 



lights



Another tradition to be grateful for is going out to look at Christmas lights. My parents took us each year at least once, and we'd sing Christmas carols as we drove around enjoying the sparkling lights. 

The best part about this tradition is that I keep it going with my own children. Every year, we drive around our neighborhood and stop at this house that has a radio station of their own with Christmas songs synced to their light show. It's phenomenal. Last year, we sat there for almost 45 minutes soaking it in. I'm pretty sure it counts as a different sort of light therapy, and it works! 

I'm also thankful that my children enjoy it. It wouldn't be any fun at all if they didn't like it too. 


Christmas ornaments



I'm thankful for Christmas tree ornaments. My mother began the tradition of getting an ornament for me each year beginning the year I was born, and I have kept up the tradition even after her death. There seems to be a little dash of love and thoughtfulness in every ornament she gave to me, so when I choose ornaments, I try to pick ones that will remind me of something special that Christmas.  

As each Christmas season begins, touching each ornament from Christmases past, I am filled with love and appreciation for the memories I have and the Savior who is at the center.



pumpkin pie


Family traditions. There are so many of these for me that I want to focus on a few over the next few posts.

The first one I will share is pumpkin pie. I first learned how to make pumpkin pie in my twenties, and as per usual, I wouldn't rest until I changed the recipe enough to call it my own. I make pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, and it is a family favorite.

I've gotten so spoilt that I rarely even try anyone else's. 




America



I am grateful for living in this wonderful country. There are flaws. There are problems—even dilemmas. I don't want to focus on those things though. As I ponder what is good about America, I see freedom, opportunity, and a future. 

Life here is something I cherish.







cars



I haven't always had a really nice car, and even still having any car should be something to give thanks for. I am very blessed to have had access to a vehicle ever since I was sixteen years old. First, my parents' cars, then my first car, a 1962 VW Beetle, and then a series of random other vehicles. 

Today, I am especially thankful for being in a beautiful, safe, loaded, amazing car that affords my family and me so much comfort as we go about our driving adventures. It feels wonderful. 




pens



Really nice pens are something to be thankful for. And I'm serious. Ever since the invention of the gel pen, writing has become all the more a pleasure.

Sometimes, I'll grab a sheet of paper and just start practicing my handwriting, trying out new ways of doing cursive. Actually, that's not really a new habit. It began in fifth grade when I saw how pretty Sonya Douglass could write. She simply passed her paper to me to pass to the next child along with mine as we turned in our work, but I'll never forget thinking that if she can write nicely, I can too. So that's when I began practicing writing—grabbing a pen (because I can't stand the scratching of pencils on paper) and a sheet or a stack of sheets of paper and writing and writing—usually just working on the alphabet or my name over and over, but it has always been an enjoyable and relaxing task since then. 

Writing is now my favorite thing to do, and a good pen makes it all the more a delight. 


hotel pillows



Pillows at hotels are something I am very thankful for. However, not all hotel pillows are created equal, and that's why some people bring their own. 

I am not that type of person. I take my nightly comfort into my hands by trusting the hotel people, but I have rarely been disappointed. By uttering these words, I seriously hope I haven't just jinxed myself as I'm prone to do. 






lifeboats



"Is being grateful for being grateful a thing?" said my oldest son. I say it is. 

Not everyone can or will take time to see what is right in front of them making their life good. I'm grateful that I am able and want to take time to recognize the many things that give me something to look forward to every single day.


I am not saying it's always easy to see what I should have gratitude for. Some days, when the tide is high and I am drowning in tears, I would say I don't feel very grateful. I lose sight of the shore because it's buried with so many things that are in my face and won't/can't be settled. However, I do know that even on the worst of days, if I can figure out how to find one thing to be glad for, I end up seeing the brighter side instead of getting drowned in the undertow. 

Yes, I am grateful for being grateful. It has rescued me with the lifeboat of hope and faith on many occasions. 




hymns



I've already written about my gratitude for music, but I'd like to take a moment to share my love for spiritually uplifting music. There are many genres that fall into this category, yet there's nothing quite like hymns of the gospel to teach and bless us through their words and beautiful sounds. 

I'm grateful for the songs that touch my soul, reminding me that there is a God who created me and loves me.

Recently, my oldest son shared this song with me, and I want to share it with you. It's a revival of one of my favorite (of many) hymns. The music and words wrap me in a layer of peaceful comfort. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Enjoy. 




motherhood



Becoming a mother has been transformational for me. I am thankful every day for the things I have learned and am learning in this role. I can hardly imagine who I would be without any children.

There are many friends and family around me who struggle with getting the babies they long for into their homes. And I want so much to take that heartache from them. I imagine it is too much to bear alone some days. 

I do have to say that I have my own little heartache; not being married and realizing that I would very much love to bring another baby into the world create a torture for me as I watch the days, months, and years tick down my biological clock. I haven't really uttered this to many people at all, but now I just fling it out to the world. I don't even know why I feel like I should except for the fact that I know someone might be able to feel comforted by this train of thought I've boarded for the day. 

The point I want to make is that I'm thankful for my sweet children. I'm thankful that I could have them. I am thankful that I have people who love me so much and distract me from feeling the full sting of my wish not coming true. I have a heart full of hope, and I will be thankful for that too. 




unexpected blessings



My baby. Well, he's not a baby anymore. He will be turning ten years old pretty soon, and that's definitely not the time for measuring age by weeks. So anyway. 

This little boy reaches out to me daily for help. He is able to show me my purpose as a mother in his observations. He shows me that I am a teacher of life and that I need to remember my purpose and who I am in order to help my family the best. 

The terrible thing about the whole situation is that I resented getting pregnant. I was ready to be done having babies and begin going to school, but instead, I had to restart the countdown. There were other factors for why I was resentful about being pregnant again, but I don't want to get into all that. The most important part is how I learned so much about life and myself simply in the process of finding peace about having an unexpected baby. 

I'm grateful to have sacrificed to have this sweet little guy of mine. From the day he was born, I could tell he would teach me things, and in his quiet ways, he does. 




my mini-me



My younger daughter. It is no small thing to see yourself so completely in someone else.

This girl reaches out in surprising ways on a regular basis. She is so helpful and kind. Her thoughtfulness, mindfulness, and consideration for the big picture makes family life so good. I marvel sometimes at how she even knows to do some of the things she does. She has a soft heart, but I need to be sure to be glad for being able to see how she is like me. On hard days, I see her do nice things and I am comforted and reminded.

Because she is so much like me, she reminds me that I can excel, that I am helpful and kind, and that seeing the world in a positive light is invaluable. Her example helps me remember who I want to be as I see her becoming a wonderful young woman.

When she talks about things she is excited about, I hear myself. Whenever she gets negative about the world around us, I see myself too. I'm thankful for her beautiful complexity that blesses our family every day. 


finding the fun in life



My oldest son. This guy has always been my little buddy—although he's not so little anymore.

This guy teaches me how to not be so serious, how to find the fun in any situation or task. Being able to laugh at how apparently unlucky we have been while recognizing how blessed we continue to be shows me how to be. Furthermore, I am thankful for his kind heart and resilience when faced with seemingly impossible odds.

I'm grateful to have his unique perspective helping me to see life from a happier angle.


autism and compassion



My oldest daughter. This girl has taught me so much. Because of her unique circumstances and abilities, I've learned what it means to truly need others and to serve others.

No longer do I take for granted my ability to find a restroom or get a drink of water when I'm thirsty. Her struggles teach me to be grateful for the ability to care for myself. Without help, she wouldn't be able to survive even though she is technically (but not actually) a grown woman. I am grateful that I have the mental and physical capacities to help her.

How she helps me has been a beautiful surprise. She shows me in each day what compassion looks like—and it's not because I need to show it to her, but because she shows compassion to all those around her. I'm thankful for her ability to see someone who needs a pat on the back and give it. She reaches out to be a friend in ways she knows how even though many people don't invite her into their circle of friendship.

My heart is full of gratitude for having a child who teaches me how to be selfless and glad for the chance.




Seeking to Become - November 2015



Four years ago, I began writing this blog series, "Seeking to Become," in an effort to draw closer to Christ as the days of my divorce began to drag upon my soul. I'm thankful my four-years-ago self recognized a need and did something about it. While there have been a few months here and there when life ran away from itself, I am truly thankful for having these scripture challenges over the years written down in order that I may still draw upon them for focus and spiritual strength.

  • Acts 14:17
    "Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
    Daily life can get jam-packed with challenges and troubling things. However, that does not mean there is no longer anything good about life. Christ gave us an example of doing good and blessing others. 

    For this month, as we head into the Christmas season, I hope you will join me in continuing to watch for the blessings that saturate our lives. Keeping a glad and grateful heart at the forefront makes life bright and more beautiful. Join me in seeking to fill our hearts with those things. 







autumn



Sunshine and fall leaves and the light just before dawn. Crisp mornings and the smell of baking cinnamon on apples. Thoughts of Thanksgiving and Christmas coming around the corner. I'm thankful for the seasons changing to autumn. I'm glad for something new to remind me that, even though this summer brought tired, sad tears to my eyes, I can still find beauty in the world around me and be glad. 








religion



My heart is full of hope all the time. I want to give thanks for my faith in God and the religion I have embraced that puts this hope there. My life is beautiful despite the pain and suffering that pervades it. My days are spent with a sense of meaning and fulfillment. I keep my eyes focused on the promised peace that is mine to enjoy as I strengthen my faith in Christ. Because of my faith, hope and charity seem to come naturally even when it is tempting to become bitter or selfish. I struggle with not being able to see how things will turn out when times are tough, but with faith in my heart, the bright side always comes through sooner than later. I owe that ability to my testimony of God's love for me and everyone, and that all will be made right somehow.




soap



If I could choose one common yet wonderful thing for existence to make mention of this month, I'd pick soap. Soap gets us clean at the very least. And even still, there are beautiful soaps for decoration, ones that smell delightful and help us smell that way. There are soaps for hands, hair, bodies, laundry. One of my most favorite is bubble bath. There's something too perfect about a nice warm shower chased with a long bath filled with bubbles. It feels like pure luxury, and I cannot help but feel gratitude for having a home with a tub that affords me something so delightful and lovely. 




perfectly tiny food



Pine nuts. I know that might sound strange to be thankful for something so small, literally tiny even, but I enjoy them so much. Pine nuts seem to have always been a rarity wherever I've lived. I'm not talking about the packed kind you find at the grocery store either. I savor the pine nuts straight from their thin shell still with the smell of the pine trees they come from hanging on them. You can only find the very best pine nuts in autumn if you get them from the right places. While I'm at it, I'm also thankful for the people who take the time to pick those things. It must be a tedious task. 


grandparents



I'm thankful today and everyday for my grandparents. I didn't get to know my father's parents, but I'm thankful for the rich heritage I was given by his father and the example of a strong, determined Christian woman set by his mother. I've grown up knowing my mother's parents, and they are still alive. It's strange for my children to know their great-grandparents and not their grandparents, but we are just glad to have them around still. I love them so very much. My grandma is a selfless, fun-loving woman who teaches me how to love with her unassuming way. My grandpa is someone who is reserved, but once he gets talking, he tells you the most amazing stories. He has lived life with a quiet zest that I can only hope to imitate. 



road trip reverie



Road trips are a cheap thrill and one of my favorite types of adventure. I've gone on many road trips with my brothers since we've all been alive, and while I used to feel quite tortured being the only girl on these trips, they are some of my fondest memories. Driving down the highway watching for new things, beautiful things, fun things adds to the conversations in interesting ways, which keeps me happy. 

It seems that I find ways to go on a road trip at least once a year, even if it's just nearby. A little hotel stay or a visit with family and friends does the trick for me. I feel the joy in my heart surface, and I am rejuvenated. All the fondness I have for my brothers and parents comes to my mind. All the happy times with friends flood my heart. I feel every memory come alive, and the addition of new layers of happy times adds to the store of joy that I draw upon when in between such delightful memories and making more.

Driving places with my children and my brothers and parents has been something I cherish, along with all the trips I've taken with friends. It all means so much to me. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to have these great memories to hold onto.

Road trips are more than a trip; they are part of the fabric of every good relationship I enjoy. 







family ties



Since my parents passed away over a decade ago, I have come to value even more so the family I still have in my life. It's a strange thing to realize that no one on this earth has to love me except for my children, and even then, that's debatable. I am thankful for the blessing of family. I am thankful that families can be eternal. Understanding how I fit into something so wonderful brightens my vision of life. I see how challenges can be overcome when I remember the family I have, the ties that bind me to loved ones I haven't even met. 


flowers



I'm truly thankful for flowers. I love fragrant flowers, beautiful flowers, spring tulips and lilacs, summer roses and sunflowers, and all of the more rare autumn blooms. Flowers in my yard, hanging in baskets, or cut in a vase, there's something about flowers that I love. 


home



My home is a place of comfort for me. I grew up in the same house since I was two years old, and it's still owned by my family, so settling in somewhere of my own has felt right.

Although, over the past year, I have realized that home is where the heart is, so I don't feel so attached to the actual location but more of the idea of home. Having a place to share with my loved ones, to spend time and to feel safe and cherished with them, grants peace in my crazy world. My heart is full at these thoughts.

Home seems to be less and less of a physical place as the realization that people are what make a place feel like home sinks in. I hope to build a home for someone in my heart because they are building a home for me too.









good music



I am thankful for music. I enjoy songs from almost every genre created. It began with show tunes in movie musicals and classical music, expanding my horizons to oldies, country/western, and then in the 80s, it exploded from there. My love of music has yet to cool. 




caring for my family



Being able to care for my family as well as I do fills me with gratitude and humility. I have strength of mind and body (well, that first part is debatable.).  I have a job that I love, which makes it possible for me to provide for their needs as well as mine. And there are innumerable people who give us support in many ways in which I cannot help us. Because of others helping me, I am able to do more for my family than is humanly possible otherwise.

I'd like to express heartfelt gratitude for everyone who takes time to help my family. 




fresh water



I'm grateful for fresh water. That might sound basic to you, but I mean it. Every once in awhile I catch myself taking it for granted; however, as soon as I notice, I correct myself. Not everyone around the world has access to such plentiful and clean water. We wash our clothes, prepare and cook our food, and bathe hands, faces, and bodies, yet do we stop to remember what a luxury it is to have something so good?

It is something I hope I never forget to have gratitude for. 






watching movies



Taking time out to watch movies with the people I love is one of my favorite things. Whenever we can, my children and I love to flop down on our giant bean bags in the basement and watch movies as a family. When I get together with my lady friends for a girls night out, we go to the movies. When I go to visit family out of state, we are always trying to figure out a way to make a trip to the movie theater happen.

Another movie related experience I enjoy is how I have one particular friend that I watch movies with long distance, calling it a watch-along. These watch-alongs have become a cherished time just for us—a source of gladness for me. There is a charm to having something that you share with no one else and even have your own name for it. There is something that sets it apart in your mind and heart. And I'm especially thankful for these movie moments.

On the flip side, one thing I don't like much—at all—is going to the movies on dates with people I barely know. Seriously. I can't even do it. I went to a movie on a third date once last year, and it still seemed too weird. There's no time to talk and get to know the other person. I'd much rather do something active and engaging with random people I should be getting to know if they're even someone I'd want to let a memory of them get tied to a particular movie. Does that make any sense? If you imagine me saying that really quickly without taking a breath, it should be understandable then.

So anyway, watching movies makes me happy, and I am thankful to be able to enjoy this form of entertainment with the people I care about.