Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Christmas Story

*UPDATE: Each of December's The Christmas Story posts are listed at the bottom of this post.*

When I kicked off this blog last year, I focused every single day of December on Celebrating Christmas. It was fun to get up each day and make an effort to share, experience, and enjoy Christmas. I loved it.

For me, it was a memory-making time and stirred something inside me that inspired my 2013 Year Long Adventure of doing a Heart & Spirit Monthly Quest each month for the entire year. 

Now as I finish up this amazing Quest-filled year, I want to do something special in December to celebrate Christmas. This month I really want to keep my focus on the Story of Christmas. The real one. The one about the birth of Jesus.

So, during the hustle and bustle of shopping...baking...singing... preparing... decorating... mailing...and enjoying this fun-filled season, I want to carve out a little time to remember.  Yes, remember and meditate on the miraculous event that took place in Mary's young life that forever changed the world.

For the next two weeks, please join me as I share the Christmas Story from the books of Luke and Matthew. I believe a really good story makes you feel, act, or think. This story, The Christmas Story from the Bible, does all three. This true story will make you feel good...it will make you want to do great...and it will most certainly make you think about the amazing gifts God bestows on us.

Matthew and Luke tell us the beautiful story about love, obedience, goodness, kindness, understanding, acceptance, faith, murder, escape, fear, dishonesty, a miracle birth, and salvation.

The Christmas story isn't just a sweet little tale about a miracle baby born to save the world. It's a real life changing story with real people who trusted God to know better even when things looked difficult, confusing, or maybe even impossible. And that miracle Savior baby? Yes, he is real also and he really was born to save the world...but before we get to that wondrous part...there's so much more to the story.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Feeling Ungrateful on Thanksgiving

What? Not the title you were expecting from me today? Does it sound like something that should be posted on My Stormy Outlook? Well...a post on Facebook this morning prompted me to delete my intended happy, grateful, joyful Celebrate Thanksgiving post for this one.

As I sit here on the eve of Thanksgiving...I am overcome with thankfulness for the blessings God has bestowed not only on me, but many of my loved ones as well. I am ashamed to admit, however, there have been a few Thanksgivings when I couldn't feel that and I certainly couldn't say it. My life truly wasn't that bad, but it wasn't the way I wanted it at the time...and when Thanksgiving came along...even though my head knew there was plenty to be thankful for...my heart stubbornly refused to feel such things.

Trust me when I say, I am fully aware how hard it can be to be away from loved ones during the holidays. Because our little family lived far from our extended family for over twenty years, there were many many years that Thanksgiving was just Hubby, our Scientist, our Engineer, and me. Sure it was hard calling back home and hearing all of the family laughing and having a special time together. And even though I was forever grateful for my family, I was still sad we were apart. There were times I allowed sadness to rob me of the joy of at least being with Hubby and our boys.

Probably the hardest Thanksgiving was the one when Hubby was away on business and it was just the boys and me. Thankfully that year, Miss Sally lived nearby, and she asked us to join some of her family for a feast. And I was really grateful we didn't have to be alone the entire day. I doubt I would have fixed a big Thanksgiving meal for two little elementary aged boys and me.

While I was thankful for the invitation, my heart still hurt. I missed Hubby. The boys missed Daddy. I remember one of our boys turned on the football game on the TV, because Hubby always watches football on Thanksgiving. No one actually watched it that Thanksgiving, but it made us all feel a little better to have it playing. That memory is well over 10 years ago...and yet I remember vividly the pain in my heart as I went to bed that night.

Just like most families...we too have people missing from the table each Thanksgiving. Those loved ones have gone on to heaven and we are left with mournful broken hearts. It's not the same. It never again will be the same. The gloom can overtake us and ruin the time we have with those still with us.

I know first hand the raw emotional ache holidays such as Thanksgiving can bring for those who feel lonely...forgotten...and struggling to get through it. And I think Thanksgiving is particularly difficult because you are supposed to be feeling grateful....and grateful is last thing you want to feel at that moment. Then of course, that can lead to feelings of guilt for feeling ungrateful on Thanksgiving..which adds to the heartache...until all you really feel is numbness.

I truly do know. I have been there. It's not fun. It's not festive. It's not jolly or happy.

What I can say though is...the bad days don't last forever. They really don't. It might take some time. It might take much longer than you wish it would...but there is hope. You may not be ready today to grab onto that hope. And it's okay. I understand. Maybe you just need to get past Thanksgiving. Yeah, I said it. I know...I know...I heard the gasps too. But maybe for those hurting this Thanksgiving it's not about being full of thanks tomorrow.

If you are just not there right now...or you know someone who isn't...I'm suggesting you don't worry about the numbness. Don't let "ungratefulness guilt" bog you down even further. Just hang on through the next few days, and if you can....if you are up to it....pray. Ask God to get you through today. Then when He gets you through that...ask Him to get you through tomorrow. Just take it one day at a time, doing the best you can in the moment. If you truly can't pray...then rest in this promise from Romans:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.   ~Romans 8:26

If you are too weak to even pray this Thanksgiving...the Holy Spirit has you covered. And don't be afraid to ask others to pray for you as well. Email me and ask me. I will pray for you. I would love to do that for anyone struggling this Thanksgiving.

Hubby's job requires him to be away sometimes. Over the years, we have had to celebrate every single holiday apart at least once. We have done it several times with some of them - including birthdays and our anniversary. It's super difficult. Some I have handled better than others...there was that Christmas I put on 12 "sadness pounds". Ugh.

What I have learned in dealing with heartache during the holidays is that God is always faithful and truly we really are not alone when we allow Him to comfort and guide us through our sadness. Friends or family may be willing to be there for you...they just aren't always sure what to do. Sometimes people do not reach out to those hurting, because they don't want to make it worse.

If you are in need this Thanksgiving, you may need to be the one to reach out to others. Let them console you. If you feel like none of your friends understand or are there for you...it just might be because they have no idea what you need. Give them a chance.

I have also learned that times will get better. Even if this Thanksgiving is one you just want to get past...the next one is a whole year away and your life can change dramatically in a year. Have hope, next Thanksgiving may be one of the best you have ever had and your heart could be filled with thankfulness again.

But what if it's another difficult one? Well...you will be able to look back on this one and know you survived it, and you can again. I remember feeling that way on several occasions through the years. It actually helped.

This year, I am super excited that Thanksgiving week is here and I do feel like I have been Celebrating Thanksgiving all month long. Thanksgiving Break begins today for both of our college boys and I am more thankful than mere words can express that I will be getting to enjoy our Scientist and our Engineer at home for a few days.

I am grateful we will be celebrating Thursday with a feast at Mom and Dad's farm along with all of my siblings and their families. We don't get to do that every year. We all know that each time we are all together as a family, it is special. I plan to cherish it.

There have been Thanksgivings I have struggled with sadness and just wanted to get through them. I get it, I really do. If you know someone who is feeling this way this year...show some kindness and compassion, even if you honestly don't understand. If this is where you are right now...hang on...don't lose hope that the days ahead will get better and you will once again be filled with gratefulness.

Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to you. Thank you for reading. I am grateful.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Operation Gratefulness

Over the weekend I had several opportunities to focus on Celebrating Thanksgiving. The last few days have been filled with reminders that I am blessed with family and friends who love and care about me. I am so grateful for this long list of incredible people. It's humbling when I stop and think about it.

There are times when life is difficult and we experience pain. I believe God uses those kind of times to remind us of the very special network of people He has specifically woven together for each of us. These blessed loved ones surround us when we are in need of prayer and support. Sometimes it is exactly who we expected would be there...but then again sometimes we are totally surprised by some who take the time to come along side us and see us through the terrible times.

So while our heart aches from whatever painful event we are dealing with...it also begins to heal from the love and concern shown to us by those who share the burden with us. It's another reminder of how much God loves us. I truly believe He puts together our healing process even before we are in need of it. How amazing is that? I am so grateful to God!

So this weekend I realized God was already healing my own sadness with friends and family who were there...hurting right along side me....with loving concern...and prayers.  And as I marveled at the beauty of such precious support, I became so incredibly thankful for each of them and for God providing these relationships for such a time as this.

Another way I focused on Thanksgiving this weekend, was putting together Operation Christmas Child boxes. I love this awesome mission project for Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse International Relief. It's a wonderfully simple process of shopping for little gifts for children, packing them into shoeboxes and then sending them off with love and prayers.

I told all about this very special yearly family project in a post last December. As I put together the OCC boxes every year, I am filled with such gratefulness for all we have been able to give our own children. When I think about the fact that this little shoebox...with a few little trinkets in it...could be a child's only Christmas, it is so humbling. We truly are overabundantly blessed and so are our children.

After I finished getting the boxes all ready, Hubby and our Engineer helped me load them into the van, and we drove down the road to the local church that is serving as an OCC Drop-off Center. In a few days, those little boxes of goodies will be on their way to children around the world.

When I was teaching in the classroom, I had the privilege of teaching several children adopted from Russia. Because of that amazing opportunity, I know quite a few children who have actually received an OCC shoebox when they were little. I have watched their eyes light up as they shared their stories of the day the Samaritan's Purse workers brought them their special boxes. And yes... I am very thankful for that! It has made me believe in this mission all the more!

It has been a very blessed weekend with many reminders of God's grace of gifts in my life and those around me. And I really am so very very thankful.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Faithful Warrior

Yesterday I awoke to the news that my friend, Faithful Warrior, had passed away. I wrote a bit about her amazing attitude and perseverance in April. I shared about praying for her again in May. She had already been fighting cancer for years at that point.

After two long, hard-fought battles with breast cancer, Faithful Warrior has finished these earthly battles. As her husband put it, "She won the war because she now walks with Jesus". 

She was a wife completely in love with her husband. She often said they were a perfect match and those that knew them, truly agreed. She was a loving mom who dedicated herself to raising her two sons. She was very close to her parents and dearly loved them. Her love for her family and friends was clear to all who knew her.

For years she fought her illness with optimism and faith that the Lord would provide all she needed. She was very open in her belief that God was in control and she relied on Him to see her through. She was an incredible witness to all who came into contact with her. Her bravery, strength, grace, and positive outlook were an amazing inspiration to everyone.

As I mentioned in my post in April, Faithful Warrior was not consumed by her battles with cancer. While she fought hard and tried every option available to her to beat it, she also continued to live an active happy life throughout her illness. She focused on her family and found great joy in the big and little things. 

She continued to think of others when she had every right to be self-focused. I was personally touched when she reached out to my cousin when he received a diagnosis of cancer. Faithful Warrior sent him such sweet encouragement which he really needed at the time. And did I mention that she had never met him? She prayed for him and he prayed for her. And I was overcome with the beauty of it in a time of such worry for both of them. 

I will forever remember that. It reminds me of part of a letter that the apostle John wrote:

"It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 
Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you."                 ~ 1 John 1:3;5

Yes...the name Faithful Warrior suits her well.

The last personal message I received from Faithful Warrior was in October. She, Miss Sally, and I were messaging on Facebook and the last words she sent us were, "Love you guys lots!" 
I am so very thankful for the blessing of knowing Faithful Warrior. I am incredibly blessed by her friendship and the inspiration she leaves with me. 

I can't imagine the number of lives she has touched through the way she lived her own life. My heart, prayers, hugs, love, and deep sympathy are with her husband, two young sons, her parents, and all the family and friends mourning her loss. 

I know her family finds great comfort in knowing she is now cancer-free and enjoying her rewards in heaven. It was a long, hard fought battle...but yes, her husband is right, she has won the war and now walks with Jesus. 

Oh what joyous peace that brings during such a time of heartache.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Support, Storms, Inspiration, and Brunch

I can't believe it's already Tuesday and I have a few days of catching up with you about my Celebrate Thanksgiving Quest.

Saturday
Saturday was a day of Thanks for Hubby. He supports me like no other person in my life. I really needed him to do that this weekend and he did not fail my expectations. I do thank God for him every day. He is the most amazing blessing in my life and his actions and love on Saturday filled my heart with thanksgiving for him even more.

Sunday
As you may have heard, the weather turned nasty here in the Midwest on Sunday. The winds blew...the rains pelted us...and we braced for a possible tornado. Damaging winds swirled around us, but our little area of the world did not take a direct hit. I was reminded on Sunday what a blessing our home is. I am ever thankful that this particular home has a basement for days just like Sunday. We can go down there and safely wait until the dangerous weather passes and I am so very grateful for that.

You may remember me sharing about our time living in another home, The Red Brick Homemany years ago when the boys and I rode out a F-5 tornado that blew across our town destroying homes and lives along it's path. While we huddled in our neighbor's walk-in closest with them and their pets, we listened to the radio. The tornado was headed straight for us and it was destroying everything in it's path. And we had nowhere safe to go. It was a very helpless vulnerable feeling. Less than a quarter of a mile from our neighborhood, the tornado turned and we were spared.

In the coming days the realization of the destruction would become overwhelming...not just homes...but whole neighborhoods were gone. Just gone. As we ventured out a little we saw cars in trees...piles of rubble where homes once stood...trees uprooted and then driven back into the ground...and a site I have never forgotten, a train car torn into two pieces. Half of it lay on one side of the road and the other half laid on the other side. To this day I still can't believe I saw that. A train car...ripped in half.

But even worse than all of that was the many lives lost on that day. As we learned the names...saw the faces...and heard their stories...it was so painful...heartbreaking. Of course every time the sky darkens and the winds pick up...I pay attention. I take it seriously. It concerns me and I listen for sirens and prepare to head to our basement for shelter. I have seen what a tornado can do. All these many years later, I have not forgotten that experience.

And each time the weather turns and I find myself preparing for the storm...I thank God for a home with a basement. I thank him for the people in my lives. I spend a few minutes in gratefulness with Him because I have seen what storms can do to homes and lives. And I do not take that for granted.

While our town was spared any damage Sunday, there were several communities around us that were not and my heart has been with those who are recovering. Of course we are all thankful that we did not have a high number of people lost during these storms, whether it is hundreds of people perishing or "just a few", each person gone is a huge loss to the people in their lives and my heart goes out to those in mourning after these storms.

Like many I have talked to...Sunday brought me to my knees in thankfulness.

Monday
I spent Monday writing and working on a plan for what I'm going to do with this blog in December. I am excited about doing something new and different than what I have done before...but also a little anxious and hopeful that y'all will enjoy it.

I'm keeping it secret for a few more days...but I will say it is about Christmas (of course - it is December!). As I worked on my new project, I heard from a friend and her words inspired mine. I found myself so thankful for my sweet friend, Dog Whisperer, and the inspiration our conversation ignited in me.

Tuesday
Today I spent the morning with a lovely group of women that I didn't know just a couple of months ago. We have been doing a Bible study together at our church every Tuesday and today's brunch was a sweet end to a special time.

These past eight weeks, I was encouraged....prayed for...prayed with...and I learned so much more about the Bible and myself. It was a delightful experience and I will miss this group as we take a break for the Christmas season.

As we enjoyed our country breakfast...chatted....and laughed, I found myself feeling such great thankfulness for these ladies and their examples of faith. I am grateful for that blessing.

As the days of November count down toward Thanksgiving, I am seeing more and more Christmas. Of course that excites me and delights me, but I also fight the urge to jump into it just yet. I want to truly stayed focused on all that is Thanksgiving...it's meaning as a holiday...and it's meaning in my life.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Just For Fun Friday: Thanksgiving Memories Edition

I'm still Celebrating Thanksgiving every day. The last few days I've been thinking about past Thanksgiving memories. I have some really good ones. Here's my thoughts from the last few days:

Wednesday
One of my favorite photos of Grandma Gem and me was taken on Thanksgiving back when I was probably 18 or 19. We didn't know it then, but we would only have a few years left together on this earth. I don't remember much about that Thanksgiving day...just that the whole family gathered at Mom and Dad's farmhouse to feast together. The picture was taken as Grandma and Grandpa were getting ready to drive back to their house.

It must have been a cold evening...because Grandma and I were both bundled up in winter coats. Looking right at the camera, she offered her usual happy beautiful smile. Her giggling eyes twinkling as they so often did. I snuggled right up next to her, holding tight to her arm with a big grin on my face too.

Grandma loved loved loved being with her family. She adored all of us and truly enjoyed our time together. I love that picture so much because it captured us together in a moment of love and happiness and it truly makes me happy to think about Grandma in those times. I adore her still today and every time I look at that photo...or even think about it...it makes me smile.

Thursday
During the years we lived Way Out West...we enjoyed a tradition of supporting the Youth Mission Fundraiser at our church.  Early every Thanksgiving morning, the teens and a few awesome supporting adults head to the church and make a huge breakfast feast with pancakes, eggs, sausage, and bacon. One year our Scientist participated in cooking and serving the delicious meal even though he didn't go on that mission trip.

So every year we lived there, our family went to the Thanksgiving breakfast and supported our church's youth group. I always loved it. Hubby and I would get up and get the turkey all prepared and in the oven, then as a family we would head off to gather with our church family for a pre-Thanksgiving feast before our at-home one. I have very special memories of those breakfasts - especially the one that our Scientist cooked and served to us. We all really enjoyed that tradition.

Friday
Today I was thinking about the very first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked. It was our first Thanksgiving living Way Out West far from our Midwest Family and we knew we wouldn't be able to travel back to have Thanksgiving with them. It was just going to be the two of us...so we invited our neighbors...and then I started calling all the great cooks I knew to gather some recipes.

I remember being so nervous...the whole Thanksgiving dinner was on me and what if I messed it up? Thankfully I pulled it off! That year is now a great memory of the year I learned how to cook a turkey. And it is also when I began my quest to perfect one of Hubby's favorite dishes - Holiday Dressing.

Over the years I have made both turkey and dressing many times and I think I have become pretty adept at both. I know Hubby loves my Holiday Dressing and is quite happy every time I make it. The last couple of years we have been able to enjoy Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad's again. The pressure has been off of me because Mom makes a great Thanksgiving turkey. She is a wonderful cook. She has asked me to make the dressing these past two years...and I don't know if I have "perfected" the recipe, but I am happy to make it.

I have really enjoyed a little trip down memory lane these past few days as I keep my focus on Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for these sweet memories. Writing about these memories has brought many many more special Thanksgiving memories to mind. I gratefully cherish them all.

And now...Just For Fun...because it's Friday:
Here's a photo of our new Thanksgiving flag that welcomes guests at our front door and Just For Fun....I'm sharing it with you today!
I just love the little birdie.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oh To Get A Letter Like That!

As I was thinking about how I would Celebrate Thanksgiving today, I came across this scripture written by Paul:

"To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people."     ~ Colossians 1:2-4

Wouldn't you love to get a letter that started that way? I sure would. To have someone write to me that they thanked God for me because they heard of my faith in Christ and my love for all God's people? Yes...I would cherish such a letter.

Even more so...I would love for our Heavenly Father to hear such things about me in a prayer.

So in celebrating Thanksgiving, today, I share this scripture with you. I have printed it out and written it down where I will regularly see it to remind me of this "unspoken goal". You see, wanting my faith in Christ Jesus and my love for all God's people to be something I am known for has been a goal of mine for a long time. It's not one I have voiced...it's just a part of me....of my expectations for myself.

Even though this goal has been a part of me for a very long time...it has been in more recent years that I have truly focused on it and worked harder toward reaching it. I'm sure I have read this scripture several times in my lifetime...but today as I read it...it struck a meaning for me. It wasn't just me reading what Paul said to others...but I realized it was something I would want others to say about me!

Have you ever had someone say they have been praying for you? I want to point out the part about praying because I do know what it feels like to have someone say they prayed for me. I have gotten that note and it touched me deeply. It made me feel so good to know that someone took the time to pray for me.

Now...taking the focus off myself...this verse also reminds me that I could pray for and write a letter like this to several people I know. And that inspires another way for me to Celebrate Thanksgiving in the coming days.

So in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I am going to think of those I know that I thank God for because of their faith in Christ and the love they show all God's people. Inspired by Paul, I am going to say a prayer of thanks to God for them and then sit down and write a few notes of my own.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Celebrating Thanksgiving All Weekend Long

Happy Veteran's Day to all our wonderful Active Duty and Retired American Servicemen and Servicewomen! Thank you for your bravery...honor...commitment...and courage. Thank you to all the family and friends supporting them through each mission. We live in the greatest country on earth and I am very grateful to our Troops for protecting us and our freedoms every day. We truly are a grateful nation.

Of course a day like today makes it easy to Celebrate Thanksgiving. Over the past few days...Hubby, our Engineer, and I have had several opportunities to show our love and thanks to many local Veterans. We were blessed to attend a Veteran's Day Program at the very elementary school where Hubby and I attended during our elementary years. It was so special to return and see many familiar faces.

As wonderful memories flooded back, we laughed over how much smaller the building seemed than what we remembered. While there, we got to the shake hands and share our thanks with many Veterans from the local area. It was such a blessed time and we left feeling incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

Our weekend was filled with many moments of Thanksgiving: We visited with Mom and Dad...played in a little tiny cabin with Little Nephew...ate a yummy meal at Aunt & Uncle's Restaurant...and got to visit a bit with them and Pastor Cousin.

Hubby and I enjoyed a date lunch and we laughed and laughed. We went to the movies...were the ONLY ONES in the ENTIRE theater...and it was the coolest experience. Hubby helped me do a huge restock-the-pantry grocery run...our Engineer helped us unload it all...and then Hubby helped me get it all put away. We enjoyed a beautiful fall weekend with sunny weather...a great service at church...and a day off together today enjoying a bit of sweet family time.

I also met up with a new friend. I was praying for her and her sweet family long before she ever moved to the area. We were connected through my dear friend Miss Sally...and after several months of trying to meet, today we finally got to meet face to face and give each other a hug! And it was such a blessing!

For me...often it really is the "little things". So yes...I feel I truly Celebrated Thanksgiving this long holiday weekend as I enjoyed all these "little things" with a grateful song in my heart!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Just For Fun Friday: 200th Edition

Guess what? This post...this very post...is my 200th My Rosie Outlook Blog post! I really can't believe I have written 200 blog posts. 200. Wow!

Today I am so thankful for this blog, my readers, and this incredible experience. It really is another reason why this Celebrate Thanksgiving Quest has been one of the easiest Quests of this 2013 Year Long Journey!

Wednesday I finished up six weeks of Physical Therapy on my injured knee. It was a "graduation" day of sorts as my therapists declared me strong and ready to move on to an at-home routine. It was a good feeling to know that six weeks of hard work had paid off and I have successfully strengthened my knee in a effort to avoid surgery.

In the weeks to come I will continue a little workout at home, and I will always need to be a bit more careful with that knee, but I am on my way to getting back to normal. With great thanks, I hugged both of my therapist and walked out of the PT office feeling better physically. It was then that I praised God right there in the parking lot! Thanksgiving filled my heart as the accomplishment and relief flooded over me.

This week I have had a few people contact me with encouragement. It has been an unexpected blend of local and far away friends. I had not told anyone I was in need of encouragement...but I was. And isn't it just like God to nudge a few someones to reach out just when I needed a little love?

As this all dawned on me Thursday...I found myself saying a prayer of Thanksgiving to our loving Lord for each of those precious friends. They listened to His prompting and took a few minutes of their busy day to lift me up. I am a bit in awe...deeply touched...and just so thankful.

Oh yes...of course I haven't forgotten that it is Friday...so...Just For Fun...Here's a Friday Funny:

And now I'm so thankful it's the WEEKEND!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Three Days of Thanks

Yesterday my cousin posted that it was 24 days until Thanksgiving! I smiled as I thought about this month's Celebrate Thanksgiving Quest! Only 23 days to go...

Sunday I ordered a special surprise for Thanksgiving Day. It was a double blessing because the order gave me a chance to support someone I love and it will be a special surprise to others I love as we celebrate Thanksgiving together. And heeheehee...I so enjoy surprising those I love.

As I recently shared, Mom, Sister, and I enjoyed a wonderful time of renewal at a Living Proof Live event with Beth Moore a little over a week ago. One of my "take-aways" from that weekend was that I really wanted to spend more time in prayer.

A few days later I discovered an awesome prayer journal, purchased it, and began using it. So Monday I sat down and wrote out my thanks to God in my new journal. I also included special prayer requests I have prayed for others.

It seems to me that through conversations, news articles, Facebook posts, email, text, and phone calls, I pray over at least one...usually several...prayer requests every day. I am most grateful to have this new prayer journal to document these prayer concerns as I receive them. Not only is it a written reminder for me to continue to pray, but with each writing, I take the time to pray right then as I write the prayer in the journal. I am so grateful for this new prayer aid.

Today I mailed off a card to someone I am very thankful to know in this life. She is a wonderful young lady that has a true heart for missions and a great artistic talent from God. In a effort to raise money for a special missions program, she is using her talent to create cards.

I am incredibly proud of this former student of mine. It makes me so thankful to know her. So I sent off a card happily supporting her mission fundraising efforts. I am very thankful we have the means to support such important mission work. And I can't wait to receive a few of her beautiful drawings in the mail!

How about you? As Thanksgiving approaches, do you feel thankful?
Did you find a way to Celebrate Thanksgiving today?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Quest: Celebrate Thanksgiving

It's November - my very last Heart & Spirit Monthly Quest month! I can't believe I have just 30 days left in my 2013 Year Long Adventure! It has been an amazing journey for me. Most days I really enjoyed it...some days I didn't want to take the time for it...a few days here and there I dreaded it...but all in all...I really needed to take this challenge.

It changed me. It changed my attitude...thought process...and even helped me develop a Rosier outlook. I learned new things about myself...I surprised myself (and maybe even a few of you) at times...and it was one of the most encouraging experiences of my life.

But it's not over yet! So for the month of November, my Heart & Spirit Monthly Quest is to Celebrate Thanksgiving Every Day. I plan to do something every day to help me focus on and celebrate this wonderful holiday. It will be similar to how I Celebrated Christmas Every Day in December. I originally had a different idea for this month, but changed the whole plan yesterday.

Just two days into November, and it feels like I have already been "bombarded" with Christmas. That might be a slight exaggeration... maybe... probably...but seriously...it feels like everywhere I look there are Christmas references. I have seen them on Facebook, online, on TV, and in my email.

I have already gotten several Christmas catalogs in the mail and our local floral/decorating shop has moved what's left of their small selection of Fall/Thanksgiving decorations to a corner of the shop so they could fill the rest of their two-room store with Christmas gifts and decorations.

It kind of feels like: Thanksgiving who?

If you followed me through my very first Quest last December, you know I LOVE Christmas. It is my favorite holiday and I personally celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ because His gift of salvation has completely changed my life. I love all things Christmas from decorating...gift giving...family celebrations...parties...special Christmas treats...and the list goes on and on.

Yes, I LOVE Christmas...but come on! Thanksgiving is quite a special holiday as well. It is a reminder of the people we come from. There is so much good we can remember and take from that very first Thanksgiving in 1621.

This is such a special time of year to gather with family and friends to share in our gratefulness. With all of the excitement of Christmas coming...I don't want to miss this time to pause and take in all that is great and good...not only in my own life...but in my friends and family lives...and in this amazing country we get to call our home.

So yesterday I kicked off this Thanksgiving Celebration by taking some time to stop and thank our Lord for Hubby. He is so much more than my spouse. He is truly the closest person in my life. And while it means everything to me that he loves and adores me, I am most grateful that he likes me.

He really likes the person I am. And that is saying a lot since he sees pretty much all of it...the good days and the horrible days. He's seen me at my worst and somehow he is (in his words) still "mesmerized" by me after all these years. Oh yes, I totally love and adore him too....but even better I really like him back.

So yesterday, I just poured all this out to God thanking him for creating such a wonderful helpmate...partner...and friend...my husband. I absolutely cherish being his wife.

Today I celebrated Thanksgiving by getting out my decorations. As you know from my recent Fall post, I already have plenty of pumpkins and leaves adorning our home. Today I packed up the Halloween decorations and put a few Thanksgiving favorites out among the pumpkins and such:


The turkey wreath always makes me smile when I hang him on our house for all to see. His legs actually swing freely which I think is a unique feature.

I just love getting Mr. & Mrs. Pilgrim out each November. They are my favorite Thanksgiving decoration and they hang out on the front porch and greet our guests every year.


This little turkey made an appearance in my classroom each year that
I taught. My student's really enjoyed plucking his feathers!


                                                                                                                                                                       

Just two days in and I feel I made the right choice to spend this month focusing my final 2013 Quest on Celebrating Thanksgiving!

And...I am so thankful for all of you!