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30 days of thanks in pictures 2013

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30 days of thanks 2013 | week 4

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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30 days of thanks 2013 | week 3

Take Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalms 37:4 This verse is such a lovely reminder to me each time I read it.  I find such comfort in these words.  I don't read it and believe that God will give me everything I desire. No, I read this verse and realize that the more  I take delight in the Lord, the more I spend time with Him and seek His will for my life, the more my desires will be the same as His.

This is the third week of  my 30 days of thanks in pictures project.  You can go back and view week one here and week two here.   I really love this project and the way it causes me to slow down each day and think of the blessings in my life.

Day 15/30
I walked into the kitchen and found our youngest daughter in the refrigerator. This was not the first time that I have found her like this. This will probably not be the last time.It made me think. My oldest child would have never done this. My 2nd..perhaps, but if told no, he probably wouldn't try again. My 3rd..she is the one that will "push the envelope"-- will risk getting in trouble, to get what she wants. I am grateful for each of their different personalities. I love how they are all special and so unique.Today I will celebrate her independence and determined spirit.

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Day 16/30

These two can play for hours together. It's usually very noisy, rough, and may very well end in one of them hurt or tattling--but their love for one another is undeniable. I am thankful for their relationship. I am so grateful they have each other.

day 16

Day 17/30

In January of 2009 we had a miscarriage. I was heartbroken and devastated. In February of 2009 we were surprised to find out we were expecting another baby which was due in November. Almost two months early, in September of 2009, we welcomed our third child. Those first days with her in the NICU and me still sick in the hospital were some of the hardest I have known. Ultimately, I learned so much during that time.

Today and everyday as I look at our sweet girl, I am reminded of how wonderful surprises are. I am so thankful for all of the unexpected blessings in life. God's plan is always so perfect, even amidst heartaches and trials.

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Day 18/30

When my oldest was 4 our family dynamic was much different. We had a 4 year old and a 1 year old and my husband was at war in Iraq. Life was crazy most days and a bit of a blur as I think back on it.

Today, life can still be crazy, but its so different having older siblings. Having a 9 year old in the house to help is huge. She is such a great big sister; reading, playing pretend, helping with bath time...it just comes natural to her. I am so grateful for all the ways she helps me each and every day. She is a blessing to our family in so many ways.

day 18

Day 19/30

The past week has been filled with a lot of cloudy days and rain and yesterday morning we woke up to blue skies and sunshine. We postponed school and headed out for a fun morning together. I love a morning of exploring. I am thankful for blue skies and sun.

day 19

Day 20/30

Last week on the news we heard that $1 would provide 10 meals in the Philippines. We talked as a family about what the people were going through and the help they needed. Together, we decided we would have a bake sale to raise money. I shared with our children that every little bit makes a big difference.

Yesterday, was spent in the kitchen preparing our baked goods, which we will sell this morning. I am thankful for my children's loving and growing hearts. I feel grateful that we have the ability to give, even in a small way. We will continue to pray for the people of the Philippines remembering Jeremiah 29:11 : For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

day 20

Day 21/30

In the middle of the night my husband and I woke up to find the bathroom light on. My husband went to see what was going on but the bathroom was empty. He then went to check on each of our children. One bed was empty. We did not see our baby girl in her bed. He looked further to find her in her closet changing nightgowns. She had had an accident. When finished changing she came and got into bed with us.

In the morning as I lay there watching her sleep, I couldn't help but think of how grateful I was for "do overs" in life. Sometimes we all know how we should do things (ie. she should have gone to the potty before bed), but we don't do it the right way. Maybe it is inconvenient? Maybe it is uncomfortable? So we don't do "whatever it" is, the correct way. But I am thankful for the times we get to try again. When we can learn from our mistakes and make things better the next time. I mess up a lot and pray for compassion and grace, and I want to extend this same type of love to those I am around.

days of thanks week three day 7

"cultivate the habit of being grateful" -unknown

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30 days of thanks 2013 | week 2

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 Welcome back for week two of my personal project: 30 days of thanks in pictures.  You can go back and read a bit about this project and see week one here.

Day 8/30

Moving back home to Florida has brought many joys, but there are many things I do truly miss. I miss the change of seasons. I especially miss the fall leaves so full of color and the magical feeling of a first snow each year. But, the other night while down by the lake I couldn't help but think of how lovely the weather really is right now. My son was playing in the water and the sun was just setting over the horizon. While I do miss the seasons, I am so grateful for the weather we have in Florida during the fall and winter. It is pretty beautiful most days. And once in a while we get a snap of cool air, but then you know the warm mild days will be back.

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Day 9/30

It doesn't matter if Daddy is gone 9 months, 9 weeks, or 9 days...the excitement seeing his car coming home is always the same. I am grateful to share life with a man that brings us so much love and joy, that sacrifices so much for our family and country, and that makes the most of every day together. No, every day is not bliss in 14 years of marriage; but each day spent living and learning together is something to be so thankful for.

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Day 10/30

"Most of our days are filled with routine duties required for life to continue with any sort of sanity. But if we take the time look closely, we might discover that God is using these normal activities to prepare us for future tasks, each duty pointing to His blessing in our lives." -Priscilla Shirer

Any day of the week you will find me in my home. No make up. Shorts and a t-shirt. Hair on top of my head. Dishes in the sink. Laundry to be done. Teaching my children. This is my ordinary. I am grateful today for my ordinary. For the gift I have been given with such a beautiful purpose to teach, love and guide my children daily. For the right now in my life. I am thankful that God has shown me more blessings than I ever dreamed in these ordinary moments.

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Day 11/30

"I'm not telling you it's going to be easy - I'm telling you it's going to be worth it." ― Art Williams

When we started homeschooling many people asked me what I was going to do to "entertain" our youngest child while schooling the other children. Some even suggested that I send her to pre-school to make things easier. My husband and I decided that we would have her stay home with our other children. Three years later, I am so grateful for this decision. We have so many memories of us all together during our days. Yes, sometimes, it is a challenge. She is at a busy age, but an age that is so fun to watch and nurture. I love getting to see the older children work with her on skills. I love being able to watch her love of art and learning grow. I love having her with us throughout our days. She learns so much by being around her older siblings....and honestly they even learn quite a bit by having her around too

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Day 12/30

Our home is usually a pretty noisy place. One that is filled with laughter and learning at most times during the day. (And yes, there are bound to be times I hear arguing as well). With three children home there isn't a lot of quiet. But I wouldn't trade our life for any other way. I love the noise and I love having our house filled with children. I love when the cousins and neighbors are in our home. BUT to be honest, by the end of the day, I crave quiet. I love order and I am ready to relax. Some nights, I don't ever find this because I fall asleep getting the kids all to bed. But when I do, it is something I am very grateful for.

 

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Day 13/30

Sometimes, I feel and look just like this when life doesn't seem to go my way. I want to cry, kick and scream, and just ask why? Today I am thankful to know that even though I may not understand God's plan always, I do know He loves me and His plan is always best.

"God's purposes are not for me to understand His plans: His plan is for me to understand Who He is." -AnnVoskamp.com

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 Day 14/30

"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."  -Kahlil Gibran

Even as we teach our children that their beauty is found inside of them, there is something beautiful to me about the magical world of dress up.   Our youngest sits fascinated by make up, dresses, and tiaras.  She twirls and sings and acts out various roles as she plays.  I am grateful for these moments and the beautiful girl I see before me. No, not beautiful because of her dress or her makeup, but because of that shining light in her heart.  That light, that is what I am grateful for.

day 14 blog

"gratitude changes everything" -unknown

What are you grateful for today?

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30 days of thanks 2013 | week 1

I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. Psalm 57:9 It seems like as soon as October 1st hits, the Holiday and Christmas rush begins.  I think November is a wonderful time to slow down and look around our lives at the many blessings God has bestowed on us. It's a time to rejoice in all things.  To be honest, I really want to live with a grateful heart all times of the year.  I am documenting 30 days of thanks in pictures for the second year in a row. I loved looking back on these sweet blessings at the end of November last fall so I knew I wanted to do it again.

I have been reading 1000 gifts by Ann Voscamp since summer (I am a slow reader) and it really is a beautiful way to live...to really seek God in all things.  To live a life seeking  the beautiful gifts awaiting us each day. They may not always seem big, but they are never insignificant.   This way of life doesn't mean we will not face heartache, bad days, rough patches, despair, loss, or any thing else that can bring us down. No,  we will always find valleys in our lives,but you can find beauty and light even in these dark hours. You just have to have your eyes open to it.

Day 1/30

I am thankful that no matter where I look in my home, there are traces of children, traces of life, love and living together as a family. I never want to take these for granted.

This picture is a little reminder of a day painting leaves, because otherwise our leaves here in Florida do not have much color.

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 Day 2/30

I love that many mornings we wake up with one or two or even three extra bodies in our bed; even if it feels super crowded and my sleep is disturbed. I love this because most days it feels like they are growing up way too fast, but this is a reminder that they do still need us..that they still love our comfort, our touch, and our presence. And this fills my heart.

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 Day 3/30

"your lovely even with your scars" -amy grant

I have struggled with people pleasing and perfectionism as long as I can remember. In doing this, many times I have questioned if I am enough? I am starting to see that my oldest daughter struggles in similar ways. Today, I am grateful for the way God brings His message to us through music. We were in the car when Amy Grant's Don't Try So Hard came on the radio. It was a such a blessing to be reminded that we are more than enough in the Lord, and that His Grace is never ending. To be reminded we don't need to try so hard. And what a gift to talk about the meaning of this song with my 9 year old.

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Day 4/30

Over the past six years Alzheimer's has taken so much away from my father-n-law and our family. But today I rejoice and am beyond thankful that there are still precious moments like these. I am so grateful my children get to have this time with their Grandfather and can see the love that he still feels for them. It's a reminder that even in the hardest of circumstances, God is still very much there.

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Day 5/30

At first glance this photograph looks similar to many others I have of our four year old--our sweet child who loves to paint. As her mama, I know the story and feeling behind the pictures making each one unique and special. I could capture her like this daily, in her world, in her element. I feel so blessed to get to watch her enthusiasm, her imagination, and her love for creating come alive. I pray she will always have this spirit.

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Day 6/30

I must admit I am not the best doggie mama at times...somewhere between having our children and my husband leaving for countless deployments our faithful friend seemed to get less of my attention. But, I am so grateful for the 14 years of companionship he has brought us. I am grateful that my children give him the love he deserves. We have so many memories with him and I am forever grateful. My children have never known life without him...he is our family♥

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Day 7/30

This week I realized we had reached a milestone in our home. It was the first time in almost 10 years that no one needed a diaper or a pull-up. (not for day, not for night, not at all) I think back over these years of there always being a baby in the home. I am grateful to all the memories...the life that has been lived. Long nights at times. Tantrums. New Words. Giggles. So much learning in the early years. Today I look at our three little people..our three blessings and I thank God for who they are each becoming. It's hard to realize they are getting older, but I see them in a such a beautiful way with the wings they are growing.

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When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. - Shauna Niequist

You can come back next Friday to see my next week of gratefulness.  And if you are doing a project too, I'd love you to comment. I am enjoying following so many other people on this journey this month.

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