Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1 This is the final week of my 30 days of thanks project.  You can see the first three weeks : here, here and here.

Day 22/30

I see my daughter here running barefoot, seemingly carefree, and think that I should still be seeing a 3 year old. Where did the time go? She's 9 now, actually halfway to ten, and I feel like this has been the year with so many questions. She's right there....somewhere between childhood and teen...wondering about things around her, curious about what is to come. Some days I am really sad, I am, that my time with her (with all my children) goes by so quickly.

Today, I want to give thanks. For each day as a mother. Every phase has been as beautiful as the one before. I've learned so much along the way. Today I will celebrate the present and the conversations we now have, the bond we have built in these nine years. And once again, I thank God that I have been blessed with the gift of motherhood.

day 22 blog

Day 23/30

She gets lost in her world as she cares for her babies. She is their mama and they need her love and attention. I remember playing make believe for hours when I was a child. I am grateful for the gift of imagination...dolls, trains, blocks, forts; whatever form it may take. It is something special to create a world for even a moment that is just as you see it. What an amazing gift from our Creator.

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Day 24/30

There are certain friends in our lives that it doesn't matter how often we see each other or how long it has been since our last visit, it always feels like no time has passed. With these friends there is a comfort and a peace just being in one another's presence.

I am grateful for these special friendships. Today, I am thankful for a Saturday afternoon spent on the ranch filled with conversations that left me encouraged and inspired, for an afternoon of exploring and running wild in the open, and for friendships that I will always cherish.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

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Day 25/30

Childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons. -Unknown Author

I often watch my children and am filled with so much joy as I see them enjoying their childhood in such a special way. I feel so blessed that I can remember my own childhood filled with love and beautiful memories. I am so grateful for that time in my life. I feel blessed that I had two parents willing to do whatever it took to put family first.

As I have gotten older, I realize this is not always the case with others, and it breaks my heart. I wish that every child could have memories of being loved and happy. I will not take what I know for granted and pray to be able to give love and comfort to all those I am around.

day 25 blog

Day 26/30

I left my hometown for college when I was 17 and married my husband a little over a year after my college graduation. We then lived states away from our family for the next 12 years. I was the child who never went to summer camp, left home etc. The years away from my family taught me so much about myself, life and love.

I remember one Christmas we were all home and sitting around my parents' dining room table talking about our thanksgivings and dreams. I will never forget my dad telling us that his dream was to have all four of his children and their families living back home together. I dreamed this too. I prayed for this, but didn't think it was even a possibility for many more years.

I underestimated the power of our God, because in 2012 this became a reality. We are all living on the same street, raising our 8 children together. There is not a day I don't thank God for this time in our life. I am so grateful for parents that really taught us that family is a priority. I am grateful for siblings I love and truly enjoy being around. And I am so grateful for these 8 children. I love having them in my home and hearing them all together. It is truly one of the greatest blessings of my life.  I continue to be grateful for each day we get to live with our family as our neighbors.

day 26 blog

Day 27/30

My mother n law is so much more to me than just my husband's mother. She is honestly a second mother to me and I am so grateful to have her in my life. Her faith in God and her love of others is something I am inspired by daily.

I received a call from her the day I took this image. She had noticed my pots of flowers around the yard were empty or dead and she asked if I would mind if she bought some new flowers and came and spent some time planting. As most of you know, her plate is pretty full with her husband having Alzheimer's, yet, she continues to give of herself and think of others. She serves with an open and loving heart and it is an inspiration to anyone around.

I am so grateful to be a part of this special family. My husband has three brothers and they each are loving, compassionate men. I am so thankful to have all of them and their families in my life. And I am so grateful my husband was raised in a home filled with so much love.

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Day 28/30

The process of shaping the child...shapes also the mother herself. Reverence for her sacred burden calls her to all that is pure and good that she may teach primarily by her own humble, daily example. - Elisabeth Elliot

I began to see my parents so differently once I became a parent myself. I took so much for granted as a child. At the time, I didn't appreciate all that my parents sacrificed for our family and I deeply regret that now.

I am so thankful to have had a mother who gave me such a beautiful example of motherhood through her own daily example. I never questioned if she would be there for me and I always knew I was loved. Family always came first in our home and it still does. I am so grateful for the love my parents share and the example they exemplify through over forty years of marriage. I am so thankful for my loving father who worked hard, so that my mother was able to stay home and be there to meet all of our needs. I always felt secure, safe, and taken care of and I believe this is important as a child. So much of what I know about being a parent, I learned from watching my own parents. I am thankful for their example.

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Day 29/30
My husband and I didn't have children for almost 5 years after we got married. I remember those early years together. Saturdays were spent sleeping in followed by long afternoon naps. Then I remember having our first baby and I would sleep whenever I got the chance while she was sleeping. This became more rare with our second child, and a novelty when we had our third. It seems whenever I lay down to take a nap these days my mind wanders to what I should be doing and I don't end up falling asleep.Sadly, a scheduled nap is no longer part of the daily routine for any of our children. Our youngest recently gave hers up when it seemed to make her stay up later and later at night. But I do love that when she needs her sleep, she usually finds a way to get it. That may be in the car, the sofa, the floor, or mama's bed. You never know where you might find her taking a little snooze. Today I am thankful for naps. Yes, it is something so simple, but it can make a big difference in a day. It can turn everything around.

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Day 30/30

Thirty days hardly seem like enough to give thanks for the many ways God has blessed my life. As I look through the month of images, something is very evident. None of these blessings would be possible without Him. I am most grateful for the gift of Salvation and the life I have only through Jesus Christ.  As I think about all of the blessings in my life, one word comes to mind and that is grace.  Some days it is almost too much for me to understand;  the love He has for me, the way He accepts me just the way I am and the underserved blessings He lavishes on me. But this is our God and there is nothing more I could ever desire. Hillsong United’s song Scandal of Grace beautifully says what I struggle to find the words to share.

Grace what have you done Murdered for me on that cross Accused in absence of wrong My sin washed away in your blood

Too much to make sense of it all I know that your love breaks my fall The scandal of grace You died in my place So my soul will live

day 30

“The practice of giving thanks...eucharisteo...this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see.” ― Ann Voskamp

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