Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts Shining

The kids and I are loosely following along with the Joy Dare that Ann Voskamp does. I say loosely, because I never finish anything.

But we’ve got the December dares on the fridge and we’re keeping our eyes open for things that we are grateful for this month.

Three Gifts Shining.

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Truxton and Kinsley both thought of the Christmas tree. Having a Christmas tree in the living room is pretty much the single most exciting thing these guys can imagine. Does it really get any more cozy than that?

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Gillian thought of our candles.

Those are supposed to be advent candles there in the middle, but, uh, someone forgot that there were supposed to be five when she bought them. Also, the afore mentioned someone had intended to come up with some clever way of denoting the first three as lavender and the fourth as pink, and has yet to do so.

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And Sophie, never one to be hindered by what she can actually see at the moment, thought of the stars.

“Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.'”
CS Lewis

 

Wrapping up November

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Reflecting back on November, there is really so very much to be thankful for.
Mainly coffee.

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I kid.

Kinsley has done very well on her prednisolone course, and amazingly, we’ve stayed essentially healthy.

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We have seen the tender hand of our God relentlessly working on a situation which we have prayed about for ten years.

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And as always (but even more obviously to us this last month) He has provided in extravagant and surprising ways.

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Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23

 

Joy Dare Blog

Chelsie’s Fitness Challenge

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The kick in the pants I have been needing this week came from my sweet sister-in-law Amber, of the English Travelers, via her sister, Chelsie.

I’m still thinking about a specific reward, but the satisfaction of being this focused is a huge motivating factor right now. I will be shooting for 150 points, thinking that will take me up to my birthday, if I work hard.

Want to join in? Check out Amber’s post for more details!

Is it going to be like it is here?

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It was bedtime, and we were wrapping up our evening with family devotions.

On this night, Truxton was ready with a barrage of questions.

When we see God when we go to live with Him, will he be wearing clothes?

When we live with God, will there be toys there?

What if a monster already got me and you and Mama and Gillian and we are already with God?

Does it take a long time to get to God when we die?

But if someone shoostes us, or kills us with a sword or a speared, then how are we going to get the blood off of us when we are with God?

With God, is it going to be like it is here, and will we still be all together?

Oh, sweet little boy.

In a way I am glad that he can’t imagine a life sweeter than his own, but we also want to instill a surety that it will be so much better than we can imagine.

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May God give us wisdom as we tend these little souls for Him.

Monday

It’s one of those Mondays. You know the kind – they come after a busy week and they lead the way into another busy week. They bring with them heaps of laundry and dishes, and cranky children and messy bedrooms. They often do not accommodate school schedules, naps, or well rested mothers. They often do accommodate freak accidents like pudgy baby fingers stuck in heat vents, chalk drawings on the floors, and leaking washing machines.

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It’s the kind of Monday where I consider breaking my habit of procrastination by watching a marathon of Downton Abby (because really, I have been meaning to start that series!)

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I decide to wash the towels, since we are all out of clean ones and it’s quite possible that one of the parents in this house might get a shower in at some point today.

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There’s a load in the dryer that has probably been there since sometime early last week. That explains where all of our napkins have been! I heap it out onto a kitchen chair because there are no empty laundry baskets to be found and sit and stare at it while I consume my second cup of coffee this morning.

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Gillian gets right to work on the laundry. Oh, the energy of the twenty one month old! As I admire her cuteness, I remember my recently formed (even still forming) conviction to express my gratitude in all things. I begin to thank Him for pudgy baby hands and cheeks, Gillian’s frizzy baby ‘fro, clean laundry, the warmth of the kitchen, the heaps of dishes reminding me that my children have full bellies, the health of my children.

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I am blessed beyond measure. I am loved by a good God.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Thoughts at a concert

Last night we attended a Christmas concert performed by the 399th Army Band from Fort Leonard Wood.  It was very good, and the kids danced the entire hour away.

Halfway through, one of the sergeants invited the audience to join her in a moment of silence to honor those who had lost loved ones that morning. Afterward she commented that music connects people of every creed, race and religion, and how if we focus on the beautiful, it can prevent the ugly things in our world.

I was struck with sadness at how utterly hollow those words must seem to those who had lost their loved one to any kind of senseless violence.

The sergeant then began to sing beautifully one of my favorite songs “What a Wonderful World,” and the song struck me as almost ludicrous to follow up the moment of silence designed to commemorate such carnage as some families had suffered.

Maybe I really over thought the entire thing, but as I listened to the words: I see trees of green…….. red roses too… I began to think of how all the ugliness of this world must make a heart hunger for what is not ugly, what is Light, and Beauty and What is Utterly Good. As Ann Voskamp penned in her book 1000 Gifts:

That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him.” 

I see skies of blue….. clouds of white…  And I thought, maybe this song is more fitting than I first thought, especially to those of us who have a Hope.  God has given us so much beauty, and yes, it is a wonderful world, because He is a wonderful Creator God.

We are here, in this undeniably imperfect and hard world, but we can choose to see the beauty with the ugly through a lens of true thanksgiving and remember that God is with us and for us. He weeps with us, treasures our tears, and He is good.

“…the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.”
― Ann Voskamp

The sergeant may speak of an overly simplistic view of life, perhaps because she failed to acknowledge God where we most need to see His face, but as a Christian, I was thankful for Louis Armstrong’s reminder, intentional or no, of the beauty that abounds here, and how much we do have for which to be  thankful and joyful.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  Phillipians 4:8

Joy Dare :: 3 Gifts From Your Saviour

This Joy Dare has had me pretty well stumped. When we think of the gifts given by our Saviour, we realize of that course every good and perfect gift comes from Him, our abilities to recognize, and our affinity to enjoy those gifts is God breathed into us and then it becomes hard to name just three. 

The first thing I thought of were my children. I watched them play around the Christmas tree last night and even took pictures of them, (which our decrepit, greedy computer then completely destroyed.)  But watching the little rascals got me thinking, and I kind of switched gears.

These are three gifts I am loving to contemplate.

I am thankful for imagination. We surely could have survived this life without imagination, but just think how dull it might have been!  Our Creator lovingly formed us to reflect Himself, I think we can be pretty certain that our God is an imaginative God.

How I love to see our children testing, developing, exercising this amazing gift in their play, and we already see them applying this gift to all that they know. The world is a wide, startling and amazingly beautiful place given them by the God who has so much more in store for their souls. They see that God might have created anything, but the wild goodness of possibility is what He imagined, and their tender little hearts are filled with love and awe.

Which makes me think of the second gift of the Saviour which I am thankful for tonight, and that is Life. Because it is so fascinatingly wild and interesting, and because it is the foretaste of all the Life that is ahead of us in this eternity which we have already begun. The girls have been memorizing Longfellow’s Psalm of life, and I often think of those lines:

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
  Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
  And things are not what they seem.
 
Life is real! Life is earnest!
  And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
  Was not spoken of the soul.

As I continued to watch the children play around the Christmas tree, I absentmindedly began snapping pictures of the twinkling lights. I thought of how many times we are reminded that God gave us Himself as Light. How He is Light, with no room for darkness. I am thankful there is no darkness in Him at all and that he has given us the ability to know the difference between what is darkness and what is Light and to choose the Light. It is amazing that He also gives us the task of reflecting that Light into the darkness, imperfect mirrors that we are.

Imagination, Life and Light make me think of this:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

I am most thankful for what He is.

pretty, happy, funny, real – photo heavy edition

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life
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Sometimes when I participate in (or even read) these “pretty, happy, funny, real” blog posts, they are more of a reminder for me to be content.  Actually, maybe that’s the case most of the time, when I sit down and think of what photos or thoughts illustrate those four words I am reminded of how content I really am.  And that’s great.  I think that this might even be the purpose of this weekly exercise.  But this week, I was feeling exuberantly content even while I was taking these pictures.  How wonderful it is to spend time with these four little crazy people!  And gee-whiz, aren’t they pretty?
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Just popping in to say hello!

This last week was filled with stress and trials.  As of today everyone except for Kinsley is sick with the flu.  The real flu.  I have been really wanting to blog, but I have not been able to find a second before now.  All of my feverish little children are finally in bed, and instead of catching up on blogging, I plan to catch up on sleeping.  So all the posts I had wanted to write will have to wait, but for now, I will leave you with a little bit of Gilli cuteness…

pretty, happy, funny, real

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~


{pretty}


In the midst of our hectic, busy and messy school day, every once in a while some beautiful little scene catches my eye.  This was one of those scenes.  After a lovely walk on a beautiful afternoon, the kids were making some pretty leaf prints at the school table, and this little leaf got knocked out of the basket.  Maybe I’m weird – but it sure looked pretty to me!

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Truxton insisted on wearing this necktie all day long.  We worked on potty training a bit this morning, and I usually let him run around with a bare hiney when I’m trying to focus on potty training.  This morning he insisted on wearing a bright yellow striped t-shirt, red plaid tie, and nothing else.  When the yellow shirt got dirty at lunch, he insisted that it was time to wear his PJs, but with the tie.

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This picture cracked me up, cause that’s about as real as it gets around here.  Trusxton being a stubborn stinker, Kinsley huffily rolling her eyes, and Sophie trying to mediate between the two.
But they really are worth it all!