Happy Thanksgiving!

happy_thanksgiving

No matter where you live, no matter where life finds you, there is always something to be thankful for.

May the Lord bless you and yours always. May He richly fill you with His presence, peace, joy, hope, and love. May He speak to you in the quiet and chaos of the day. For all His gifts, may we be truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!
~Cristina

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7 Gifts Good & Perfect

7 GiftsAbout a year ago, I was perusing Amazon and came across the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I was touched by her gentle manner and her thoughtful insight. It seemed every word she spoke was poetic and meaningful. It didn’t take long to find her website, perusing all of the wisdom she had to share. While wandering her site, I noticed that she had a particular entry about 7 Gifts. This piqued by interest and had me taking a deeper look.

What I found was truly a treasure. 7 Gifts encourages each of us to take a look at the everyday and see it in a new light; to take the ordinary and see its beauty.

If the concept worked for us as adults, why not bring my children in on this unique idea? What better way to teach my children the beauty of everyday life?

7 Gifts Good & Perfect is now a part of our daily routine. Each of my children and I carry a copy with us. When we find something that inspires us, we write it down. During our Bible time, at the beginning of our homeschooling day, we take the time to review each other’s lists.

7 Gifts

It never ceases to amaze me what my children find good and perfect… The smell of their clean sheets, the feel of their pillow, the taste of fresh-baked bread; these things have become meaningful to their lives.

My list for today:

  • The sound of quiet
  • The feel of a warm breeze
  • The calmness of a slowly taken breath
  • The smell of a clean sweater
  • The knowledge that I am not alone
  • The taste of Mexican hot chocolate
  • The feeling of accomplishment, when my day is complete

This has become an important part of our homeschooling adventure. Seeing the wonder and splendor in even the littlest things. Thank you so much, Mrs. Voskamp, for this wonderful idea!

📢 Chime In!: What 7 Gifts have you discovered today?

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Buying a Memory

Buying_MemoryIt’s the little things you remember. The twinkling of lights, the smell of wood burning, the taste of hot chocolate and donuts. You remember tradition deeply rooted in family. Such a simple thing which takes on enormous meaning. It all started with an ornament…

The first Christmas our children were born they received a beautiful ornament commemorating the occasion. Each child received a different ornament: a rocking horse, a baby shoe, and a nutcracker; all sterling silver and engraved with their names. While most parents stop after the first Christmas, we kept going.

At the beginning of each Christmas season, our family begins the search for this year’s ornaments. Each of our children pick an ornament that is completely their own and unique to their personalities. No two ornaments are ever the same and no pressure is permitted; they are free to choose whichever ornament suits them.

Besides having a personalized and unique Christmas Tree, this helps our children feel included in all the decorating fun. My reasons are meaningful and steeped in family.

The goal is for each of our children to have a large collection of ornaments that have sentimental value. Each year we will keep adding to the collection until they are married. Their wedding present from us will be their large box of Christmas ornaments. (I can’t imagine a better way to start your first Christmas off right, than to open a large box of ornaments and to share with your new spouse all the wonderful memories that surround each one.)

Each ornament has a different story, prompts a new memory for them. Each decoration a reminder of family, tradition, and love. This is more than a collection of shiny balls, it is a remembrance of Christmas past and of blessings brought into our lives.

This has become a much-anticipated holiday tradition, one we celebrate fully. This year will be no different. Our family will excitedly pack into the car and head to some of our favorite shops. We will hem and haw, think and then think some more. (It takes us quite some time; this is no simple project to tackle.) Finally, all of our children will find ornaments that embody their own style and personality. We will rush home to put them on the tree and, once again, admire how each of our children are so different and yet complement each other beautifully.

With Christmas right around the corner, the kids are anxiously awaiting this year’s ornament expedition. It’s time to head out into the cold and buy yet another memory. One, prayerfully, our children will remember forever.

🔔Time to Chime In: Is there a special ornament you remember from your childhood?

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Thank God

The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are blessed by the heart of his message. Enjoy!

….. 

School LogoBe anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

We have probably all heard those verses many times before. I know I definitely have; but as we approach the holiday season, two words stand out to me. The verses would flow together without the phrase, and so grammatically, it is not necessary to insert the phrase with thanksgiving; but if we really stop to think about it, the promise of peace found at the end would probably not be true without giving thanks.

The word thanks is found some 72 times throughout Scripture, not to mention variations like thankful, thankfulness, thanksgiving, and more. The sheer volume of times it is mentioned ought to give us an indication of the importance of being thankful.

Human nature is to always desire more, and, while tempered correctly, it can be a good thing, in the context of these verses, it is decidedly not. Striving to do more, to be better, to reach one’s full potential, within the confines of godly behavior, is far better than stagnation to be sure, but thankfulness becomes key in maintaining the right attitude, and a right heart before God.

I am reminded of a story I once read, in which one of the characters was struggling to achieve a level of study that was beyond his abilities. When it was mentioned repeatedly by another that he still had far to go, his response was profound, and true: “Please stop poisoning what I have already achieved by throwing up before me what may be forever beyond my grasp.” Though not a biblical story, the concept is quite true. Lack of thankfulness, because of a desire to have more, do better, or be recognized, can and will poison our hearts toward that which we do have.

Hello, Friend

When we look at the Philippians passage, it tells us to present our requests to God. Note that it does not say “needs” but “requests. “ There is nothing wrong with asking for the desires of our heart, provided, of course, that what we desire is not something which He could not, as a loving and responsible Father, give us in the first place. Thankfulness for what we do have will keep us from becoming bitter if His answer is “no.”  Remember, we are coming before the One who knows our needs and promises to provide for us.

Psalm 100 verses 4 and 5 read, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

If we stop to consider all the blessings that He has provided for us, we have to stop in awe. He has given me salvation, a relationship with Him (and that on a far more personal and intimate basis than a servant has any right to hope for from his King), my wife, our kids, and so much more. I have been blessed with His truth, a barometer that does not change, and so I am able to chart my way through a world that is far too difficult to navigate on my own.

We have been granted access to His very throne, that our needs, pleas for mercy and grace, and petitions might reach the One who has everything, and can do anything, and He says to come boldly.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, take the time, personally, and even as a family, to sit down and actually list out the things that God has provided for you, done for you, and blessed you with, and as you do so, see how your hearts settle before Him. What is the biggest gift of all? He has given us…Himself.

Happy Thanksgiving

Truly Thankful

Helping Out

The kiddos helping to pull pumpkin seeds… Smile, everyone!

From our family to yours, on this special day of remembrance; Happy Thanksgiving!

May the Lord shine upon you and shower you with blessings; may we remember from whence we have come and to what we are striving; and may we be eternally thankful for our many blessings, for which we are undeserving.

 

Let’s Take a Break

Hello, FriendHave you noticed that holiday breaks really don’t seem like much of a break? I mean, sure, we aren’t doing any home schooling, but that doesn’t mean we are necessarily relaxing either.

I thought we would get at least a few days this week to just sit back and relax, but nope. Each day this week is full of fun and needed things to do.

Today quickly flew by, having been filled with cleaning, organizing, food prepping, and running errands. Before I knew it, the bulk of my day was gone!

Perhaps tomorrow, before the food and fellowship, we will find a few minutes to simply kick up our feet and relax.

Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving holiday is calm and restful; that amidst the chaos, you find a moment to simply breathe and enjoy the day for what it is… thanksgiving.