Friday, December 6, 2013

30 Days of Thankfulness, November 2013

God reminds me every single day how blessed we are...and I am so grateful every day of the year. However, during the month of November each year, I try to take a few minutes each day and jot dot some grateful highlights.  Hope yours was a truly blessed Thanksgiving with loved ones this year.

Day 1 of Thankfulness:
A ) I am so deeply thankful for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit beyond my limited knowledge at a given moment, beyond what my own eyes can observe, and beyond what my own emotional reactions might be...His Spirit which guided me even today, so that I could take care of my children to best meet their needs. Thank You, Father, that I do not have to parent my children without Your daily assistance!

B )  We are grateful that Emmi said our family bedtime prayer tonight, for the first time! Dave or I usually just say the bedtime prayer for all of us, and a couple of times in the past, we have asked if Emmi wants to, with no expectation, but she always has said, "No, Mama pray..." or "No, Papa do it..." with a smile, of course. But, tonight, when asked if she wanted to pray, she joyfully accepted, bowed her head, and said the sweetest little prayer.

"Dod, <God,>
Tant <thank> you for a won-erfuh <wonderful> day. Tant you for Papa...for Mama...for Pierson...for Evie.. and for Banjo. <Then she said another phrase or two that we didn't quite make out..> A-men."

This is the same girl who made us wonder a little over a year ago if she would ever put a complete sentence together. I love seeing her blossom and develop in her own time and way.

Day 2 of Thankfulness:
A ) I'm thankful for my dear friends Leslie and Symantha, who live within a reasonable visiting distance. These ladies have taught me so much since I've known them, and my heart rejoices to recognize God's mercy in placing them in my life during this season. It's special also to think all three of us met the men we were going to marry in the singles group at Glenview Baptist Church. Other dear friends of mine live in various states or cities that would require an overnight trip at least, and it's also a treat to spend time with those jewels when I can, but I'm so grateful to the Lord for these kindred friendships with such like-minded women, within daily driving distance.

B ) I’m thankful for Evie’s bent toward music...she was totally keeping beat to a Third Day song with her rattle in the Jetta with me this morning.  Fourteen months old...

Day 3 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful for the various fun opportunities our little family has had lately to celebrate the Autumn Season. We've been to two different Fall Festivals at churches, a neat Pumpkin Patch in Decatur, and a wonderful Fall Festival Pot Luck and Hayride with our new church family this evening. This is truly my favorite time of year, and the cooler weather has been so refreshing. I loved even just witnessing the Glory of God, as I watched the golden leaves cascading from our trees out my kitchen window this morning...

Day 4 of Thankfulness:
Even though he dumped about a pound of ashes from the fireplace, with a toy shovel, all over various baby toys (including stuffed animals) into Evie's Pack 'n Play and onto the floor and rug this morning, while I was making our breakfast smoothies, I'm still very thankful for our son Pierson. Even though I had to postpone my own already-late breakfast for about 45 minutes while I dealt with the matter and cleaned up the mess, before it spread it everywhere, I still love my little boy and I would still want another one someday! Even though, after being disciplined, he then runs around the house laughing and proclaiming, "I'm not adorable!....I'm not adorable!....I'm not adorable," I'm still grateful he has the most adorable personality. While I was wiping the ash remains off of the Pack 'n Play mat, after meticulously cleaning off all the toys, Pierson asks, in a blissfully ignorant manner, "Is it a big mess?" and I say, "Yes, see what a big mess this made??" And, even though he responded by exclaiming, "It's a big mess!...A beautiful mess!...," I have to agree with him: Yes, son, our life is one big, beautiful mess.

Day 5 of Thankfulness:
Today, I am so thankful for the opportunity and privilege of homeschooling my children, including being able to participate in Classical Conversations each week. Emmi and Pierson are both always excited to sit down and learn with me, and my passion to teach them grows stronger continually, as God brings deeper inspiration to my heart and mind. It's not always easy, and sometimes I struggle with conflicting selfish desires to do something else with "my" time, but every week, God is growing my desire to home educate more than I ever would have imagined, and He alone is helping me to develop the needed discipline and consistency for the job. I'm also so thankful we have the ability to weave Bible lessons and scripture into their learning with our Heart of Dakota Pre-K curriculum, with various devotional books, and through our family worship time of reading the Bible, singing praise songs together, and praying in the evening as a family. We definitely haven't perfected the "train up a child in the way he should go" yet, but God is so patient and gracious to help us improve each day in this area, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Day 6 of Thankfulness:
A ) I am thankful for little learning milestones.  Emmi cut out her 6 days of creation for our number six page all by herself and glued them on! So proud of her improving fine motor skills. I helped Pierson cut out his 6 boxes with the funky scissors, and then he glued them on. Earlier, I had selected three different graphics to use for the 6 days, and this is what they each chose for me to print out.  Emmi also drew a very cool picture of an owl on the Magna Doodle today!  She ran over to me and said, "wook! I dwew a owl!"

B ) Today, I am so thankful for my Wednesday Night Bible Study group at Rock Island Family Church, going through this neat book and study guide called "People of the Spirit." The Holy Spirit is really using this study to teach and convict my heart in various ways, and God is also blessing my soul with these wonderful ladies, most of whom are older than me, with their wisdom, life experiences, and tender hearts. I'm also very grateful for my dear husband, who cares for our three little ones, feeding them, playing with them, and putting them to bed for the night, each Wednesday, so that I can go to this group.

Day 7 of Thankfulness:
A ) I'm thankful for Facebook to so conveniently keep in touch with people, especially those I am not able to see often, but I'm also thankful for the opportunities to serve others, that take me away from Facebook...opportunities to be a blessing in person.
B ) So thankful for and proud of Miss Emmi (4 yrs. old), who wrote her name twice by herself when I wasn't even in the room. We have barely even started our handwriting notebooks, and she is venturing out on her own already.

Day 8 of Thankfulness:
Tonight I am thankful for like-minded friends, like the dear Sommerville family, who came over this evening to visit and let the children play, before heading home with their gallons of milk from our co-op, and like the sweet McGaw family that we get to see tomorrow, expecting their 5th blessing (a little prince, after having 4 princesses!), and like LeeandMaia Forde, whom I get the privilege of meeting very soon, and who are also expecting their 7th little blessing any day now! :o) Thank you, Father, for the body of believers in Christ Jesus!

Day 9 of Thankfulness:
I'm especially thankful for my dear husband, Dave Matthews, who not only works diligently and honorably at his job with the Federal Government, but who also works regularly here at home to care for me and our three children. He is an exceptional, loving, playful father to our little ones, and he is also incredibly kind and gracious to me, in spite of my many short-comings. I am grateful for the gift of his life and that I get to share mine with him, raising these little people that God allowed us to help create together! I love you, Dave...glad you are home!

Day 10 of Thankfulness:
I'm so thankful for the three super precious children that the Lord has given us so far... Some moments are sweeter than others, some hours more delightful than others, and some days much easier than others, but overall, I am most richly blessed that God has allowed me the privilege of being their mother. God has used my children to teach me so much about what it means to truly love and to deny self and to put others first. I am so grateful to be able to witness also how they are growing to love each other along the way. It's a constant effort to discipline and guide them in the way they should go, in individual decisions and in relationships, but continuing to teach them God's Word and continuing to help them develop obedient, respectful habits is already yielding fruit for them and for our family. When I look at them, I see beauty, trust, life, potential, joy, and so much hope...every single day. Thank you, Lord, for our children!  

 Day 11 of Thankfulness:
I'm so thankful I get to be married to a United States Veteran!! I have such deep gratitude to my dear Dave Matthews for his faithful and excellent service to our nation. I'm so proud of him and all he has accomplished, serving 5 years in the US Army and also 3 years in the National Guard. So many of our friends and family have also completed honorable years of service in the US Military, and we salute you all today for the hard work, sacrifices, and years you have given to help protect people and freedom. A blessed Veterans Day to everyone! May we always show kindness, care, and generosity, demonstrating gratitude to our Veterans.
Day 12 of Thankfulness:
As simple as this sounds, I am truly thankful that I finally tried Norwex cleaning cloths! I was skeptical for a while and didn't want to participate in another MLM, but they really are the best cloths anywhere and amazingly really do clean surfaces with only water, as they have silver, which is antimicrobial, weaved into the fabric. I loved the cloths so much that I also ordered the mop system and two travel packs of mini-cloths to hang in kitchens and bathrooms, and a dust mitt for my children to help me clean! I don't plan on aggressively pursuing this as a business, but I am so grateful that we use Norwex is much easier and cheaper and safer. If anyone wants to order some Norwex cloths with my discount, sent me a private message, and I would be glad to help you out, before my membership expires.

Day 13 of Thankfulness:
I am so thankful that my talented, hard-working husband Dave Matthews was selected to participate in Fort Worth's largest and most popular event, one of the largest art festivals in the Southwest, the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival!!! This will be his 2nd time to exhibit his canvases and prints at the Main Street Arts Festival, and he was very successful the first time, in 2011, where he sold numerous photos and canvas prints! It's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, and I am always delighted to see how his images bless so many people, reminding them of special events, places, and times in their lives... Dave is an architectural photographer and finds the coolest angles, perspectives, and hidden spots to capture, in Fort Worth and in many other towns and cities. Like his page and check him out at Dave Matthews Photography. We are so grateful for the connections, sales, and many opportunities God has given him through his artistic work!

Day 14 of Thankfulness:
Tonight, I'm thankful for the encouraging older parents that cross my path from time to time. Almost every time we go to eat at a sit-down restaurant (a few times a month), someone comments on how well behaved and beautiful our children are... This one lady, who kept playing peek-a-boo with Evie during dinner tonight, kept doting on all three of them, while we were heading out. Times like these, with our 4.5-year-old, almost 3-year-old, and 14-month-old, make the tough days of discipline and parenting all the more worth it. Reminds me to be an encouragement to other mothers I see, as well... Sometimes it takes someone else looking on from the outside to point out the progress and fruit of daily labor. Thank You, Lord, for Your Grace in it all, continuing to teach and guide us!

Day 15 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful we get to celebrate every new year in our children's lives, in fun ways that are special to each of them. Pierson has no idea all of this is going to be here in the morning... Our amazing little boy is turning 3!!!

Day 16 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful for some Alison Krauss and Pandora helping me wind down this evening after a lot of hard work in the past few days...

Day 17 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful for the opportunity to play keyboard with our worship music team at Rock Island Family Church! It fulfills a special longing in my spirit and pours into a unique crater in my soul, in wonderful ways! Our sweet new friends there had been been praying for another keyboard player, after their previous keyboard player of ten years just moved a few months ago... I'm grateful and delighted to "pick up the mantle," so to speak. Thank you, Lord, for the various ways in which we all can worship You and serve Your body of believers...

Day 18 of Thankfulness:
Today, I am overwhelmingly thankful for the gift of our son, Pierson Everett, who just turned 3 today. He arrived 2 weeks and 2 days later than his "due date," and he was also my first all-natural, non-medicated birth. He taught us so much in his first two years of life, as we never realized how troublesome, stressful, wearisome, and heartbreaking eczema and food allergies could be. But, now, at 3 years old, he is a beautiful, living testimony to God's healing and restoration...and, if I may add, *the* cutest, smartest, sweetest, funniest, most affectionate 3 year old boy I ever knew!!! His sisters adore him and his Daddy thinks he's pretty cool too. I can't imagine my life without this incredible little guy telling me he loves me, So undeserving, yet so grateful...

Day 19 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful for the protection of God in so many ways, in our lives. Through the guidance and admonishment of the Holy Spirit, through actual angels He directs, through the blood of Jesus, by the Father's creation, and by His own almighty outstretched hand, we are shielded and protected from evil and harm, each and every day. Sometimes it's easy to imagine the worst, when surrounded by so much potential danger in the world, but how much better it is for me to imagine the best of Him and place my trust in Him, as the Sovereign Lord of all... He cares for us.

Day 20 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful for Bellwether Farms who makes the most amazing sheep yogurt ever! Someday, I'd love to get our own sheep and make our own yogurt from the sheep milk, but we will likely get goats before sheep, as they may be more fun and manageable for our little ones in this season of life, and provide dairy also.

Day 21 of Thankfulness:
I'm especially thankful for such a loving, kind, gracious, and faithful husband. So grateful that my wonderful man sees beyond all my imperfections and still loves my heart. I'm so blessed to be yours, Dave Matthews. I love you always.

Day 22 of Thankfulness:
We are so grateful that Emmi's speech and language has been steadily improving this year. Today, as we were practicing together, she pronounced the /l/ sound more easily and better than she ever has, at the beginning of a word, several times. Before now, she has mainly just had success with that sound in isolation, not in words. We are pretty sure her speech delays have had something to do with her personality, but also they have had something to do with the fact that she had a mild - moderate tongue tie (which also explains her initial problems latching and sucking, when she was learning to nurse as a newborn.) Our pediatric dentist assured us that, as she practiced her speech and began to articulate more, her lingual frenulum would gradually stretch out more, enabling her to use her tongue in speech more easily, without requiring a surgical procedure to loosen it. And, he was right: it has done just that. I'm so thankful for the wonderful progress Emmi has made in her speech and language, but one day I will miss how she says things like "Tant you, Mama" and "Buzz Yightyeah!" and "I yuhv you too.." and "I'm a puppy dod!" and "mmm....I yuuuuhv bir-day tate!"

Day 23 of Thankfulness:
A ) I'm thankful for the opportunity to take a free self-defense class today at Keller ATA with my sweet friends, the Cody ladies. Thank you for organizing that, Ashlie...and, thank you for being my tackle partner, Tina - you are a strong woman! I learned so much, and will be all the wiser and safer and better prepared to "get away," if ever the situation arose.

B ) I'm thankful for our funny and adorably verbal 3 year old son who prayed for the first time on Thursday evening, quietly, yet sincerely. He said, "God, thank you for Mr. Steadham <our dairy farmer, whom we were going to visit the next morning>, Evie, Emmi, Mama, Daddy, Grandma, and Mr. Steadham <yes, again.> ... In Jesus' name, Amen." Then, today at Costco, a.k.a. "Saturday Sampling Feast-co," Pierson was begging Dave to get him these two samples, that Dave was pretty sure he wouldn't like...some brand of reconstituted mashed potatoes and some brand of ready-made green bean casserole. So, Dave just gave in and gave him the potatoes. Pierson got the sample, examined it, and promptly looked up at Dave (offering it back) saying, " it Emmi's?" When Dave later gave Pierson the green bean casserole sample for which he was begging, Pierson took it, examined it, and once again said, "Uhm, is it Emmi's?" We laughed ourselves to tears.

C ) I'm thankful for some phone time in the van, on the way home this evening, catching up with my beloved best friend. I don't care for hanging out on my cell phone anymore, for any length of time, but this lady is worth every minute we both can spare.

Day 24 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful for health in all three of our children...something I do not take for granted. It's not an easy thing for parents to see their children suffer, and I'm so grateful God's healing hand has touched all three of these precious ones, in various ways. He has healed Evie of her dairy and soy induced reflux problems, healed Pierson of his dairy food allergy and eczema, and the Lord has also blessed Miss Emmi's mind with a better developed expressive language and her mouth and tongue with ever-improving speech and articulation. So grateful that I can't even remember the last time any of them was physically sick -- it must be a number of months now; if you have little ones, you will appreciate that, knowing how easily they can pick up bad bacteria or viruses. Thank You, Jehovah Rapha, for restoring and sustaining their little bodies!!!

Day 25 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful for our friends the Jensens. In a new season when most of our good friends are now over forty minutes away, it's so nice to live within ten minutes of these neat people and get to know them better. We also found our new church home, Rock Island Family Church, through the Jensens. I went to take them a bit of food tonight, and they had me in stitches with all their stories....these people are some of the funniest ever! "A merry heart does good, like medicine..." Thank you!

Day 26 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful today for our CC Tutor, Mrs. Jerri, who hosted all of the 4 year-olds in our homeschool class, including a couple of the younger brothers ;o), over to her home to watch The Lion King, which Emmi and Pierson had not seen yet. They have been talking about it for almost a week now, ever since I mentioned it, and Emmi especially loved it. Mrs. Jerri gave all the moms a chance to go run a couple of errands during the movie time, and so it was nice to be able to get a few things done with just Evie. Many in our group also went afterwards to Chick-Fil-A, where the children had a lot of fun eating with their friends and hanging out, climbing and sliding in the playscape area. Finally, I needed to run over to the Dollar Tree nearby, and Mrs. Jerri helped me out greatly by sitting with Evie, Emmi, and P in the van, while I ran in for a few things, without having to get them all out of their seats again. My heart is so grateful for this fun, sweet, servant-hearted, kind lady we've been blessed with as our CC Tutor this year.

Day 27 of Thankfulness:
Tonight, I am thankful for the inspiration and ability to break a few rules and create my own unique Thanksgiving table with many things we already had, mixed with some pretty disposables, topped off with some afforable Central Market flowers Dave brought home.

Day 28 of Thankfulness:
Happy Thanksgiving, dearest loved ones, newest friends, and everyone in is my favorite day of the year. I have so many things to be thankful for today, that it's overwhelming trying to think of what to list. First of all, I could have cried when Dave walked in the door this morning and told me Banjo (our border collie) had come home, after having gone missing for a week. He has a pretty bad flesh wound on his leg, and it looks like his back is out of alignment, so we'll be taking him to an animal hospital in the morning, but we are so thankful to have him home, after wondering if he was even alive anymore. I never thought I'd be willing to give a pet pain killers, but when I saw him suffering, I wanted the quickest thing to aid his relief, so we gave him a couple of pills in a spoon of peanut butter and then treated the wound with oils. In addition, I am so very thankful that we had such a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday today with some beloved family at our home (some blood-related and some spiritual family.) Grateful that today was the first time our children were able to spend time with both of their grandmothers together at one place. Grateful that we have a little guesthouse on our property to host family and friends, especially on holidays like this. Grateful for courageous pioneers like the pilgrims, who endured much more hardship, loss, and suffering than we can possibly imagine in our modern lives of convenience and luxury, in order to pave a path for many of our ancestors to settle and start new lives in this great land.  I am thankful for my husband and children, who represent in many ways the opportunity of a renewed Godly heritage for our future generations. Thankful for Christ Jesus and all that his birth, life, death, and resurrection mean to true believers, as we approach this holy Christmas season…

Day 29 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful for the 3-hour nap my husband let me take today, while he cared for the children. I am hardly ever able to nap, not just because of the children needing me, but because it is usually hard for me to sleep in the middle of the day. But, not today...

Day 30 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful that, even when things may not go as planned and life is less than perfect, we still have a roof over our heads, food for our table, and clothes on our backs.

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