Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Greetings from Our House to Yours

Tomorrow many of us will be gathering with loved ones to reflect on our blessings and to have a feast together.

Thanksgiving is often pictured as a lovely family time, but often there is a mother who feels very stressed. In my family there are several birthdays that occur during Thanksgiving week, and I usually let them pick what they want for breakfast and dinner. As you can imagine when there is a birthday on Wednesday, Thanksgiving on Thursday and another birthday on Friday, I have been exhausted by the end of the week. This week happens to be lined up that way, but I am choosing not to stress about it. 

I am actually enjoying the planning and preparation this time.

Because a grandson also has a birthday today, we had my son's birthday dinner yesterday - homemade lasagna, salad and some garlic bread with a yummy homemade cheesecake for dessert. 

*We have a rather large family, but this year there will only be about thirteen of us.*

My oldest daughter and her family will be here, and although we don't live too far apart it's been a while since we've gotten together.  I wonder what stories my grandchildren will have to share from their adventures in homeschooling and otherwise. They are so full of life and will bring some much needed excitement into our home.

We will also have my mom and probably all three of my sons joining us. There will be some catching up on news of all their activities, some interesting discussions and possibly a long walk outdoors after the meal to enjoy the beauty of nature and burn some of those calories.

There may be clutter all around, and my house won't be as clean as I'd like.

I may not have a big variety of foods or extravagant desserts. 

It probably will not be picture perfect, but there will be love and laughter and a happy time. We will celebrate and also fondly remember those who are not with us.

Have a blessed day and remember to give thanks!

For those who are sorrowful this Thanksgiving I pray that God will be with you and grant comfort and peace as only He can.

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 
(IICorinthians 1:3,4)

I'm linking up with #ThankfulThursday!

*Due to last minute circumstances there were only four of us today, so it was a rather peaceful and still enjoyable day.*

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Contentment: How Do We Find It?

Contentment is the #wholemama word for this week. Some of the words I found that were considered synonyms were happiness and satisfaction, but I'm not sure they cover the full implications of the word.

To me contentment has a lot to do with an inner peace, the kind that is promised by Jesus when he said,

Is it possible to have a sense of contentment when our circumstances aren't the happiest or most satisfying?

Maybe contentment has more to do with our state of mind regardless of the circumstances. It reminds me of what the apostle Paul said.

Obviously Paul had found himself in situations that were less than desirable, but he had learned to practice contentment anyway. How was he able to come to the point where he could be content in any situation? Certainly not in his own strength. He was a human being just we are. There was nothing special about him that he could manufacture contentment.

What was his secret?

The answer is found in verse 13 of Philippians 4:

Paul's strength came from Jesus, who is the only One able to provide the enduring stamina needed to live a life of contentment no matter what. You and I have that same power available to us, if only we would remember to ask. Of course sometimes we are so down we don't even think about the power within us, but Jesus comes anyway to hold us up. 

I memorized Philippians 4:13 when I was a child, but I learned it as a stand alone verse. I took it to mean that God would help me with anything I needed to do. While this is true it doesn't cover the full extent of the meaning. In its context the verse shows me this:

God doesn't necessarily change my circumstances, but he does give me the strength I need to go through whatever comes my way.

I'm still learning how to be content. It's a long process, and I have not come to the point where I am always content. Often I complain about circumstances when I know complaining doesn't change a thing. It just makes me miserable and also affects those around me. 

What helps is when I look for the good in every day, when I pause to give thanks, when I keep my eyes on my heavenly Father and spend time communing with him. Things don't magically get better, but when my attitude is one of thanksgiving, I am more at peace and can be content even when times are hard.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Feeling Thankful on this Autumn Day

During this month of November it seems most everyone is thinking about giving thanks. Maybe it's because we set aside a day, commonly known as Thanksgiving to spend with family or friends and celebrate our many blessings.

I have much for which to be thankful starting with a God who loves and cares for me even in times of hardship. I have a family who loves me including my dear husband of 41 years and counting.

Today has been a beautiful day. There has been so much rain lately that a sunny day with temperatures in the seventies has been very welcome. This afternoon I went out for a few minutes to snap some pictures of the beauty. 

I am thankful to live in a place where I can enjoy the change of seasons finding something to like in each one. My favorite season is Autumn. 

I love the colors, the cool breezes and the hint that changes are in the air.

I even saw the pale half circle of the moon this afternoon as it sat in the vast blue ocean of sky.

There is much sadness and horror in the world, but there is also hope. May our God be near to those oppressed and hurting. May we show love to those we hold dear and to whoever God brings across our paths. May we remember the faithfulness of God.

I'm linking up with 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Our Carolina Hilltop Home

Our #wholemama linkup this week is all about home. To me home is where my family is and except for a short time away, our home has been here in the Carolina foothills since 1998. I wrote this poem last year but recently changed it up a bit. I hope it conveys to you a little bit about my home. Enjoy!

Near the Carolina foothills
stands a house made of logs
Front porch view will give you chills
Back boasts forest scenes

In spring of nineteen ninety-eight
our family of nine
moved into this hilltop home
filled with scent of pine

Our dwelling place of many years
holds hidden memories
of laughter and of tears
deep within its walls

We shared our space with friends in need
with teens from distant lands,
We celebrated birthdays
weaving tighter strands

Toasty warm from wood stove heating
sipping homemade cocoa
talking, laughing, eating
Fun times wrapped with love

Be sure to visit Erika Shirk and #wholemama to join the linkup and read what others have written about home. I'm also linkup up with #IntentionalTuesday.

*The outdoor photos are my own taken outside my house. The other one was taken in 2001 when for a time there were 13 people living in our home. We had two exchange students - one from France and one from Spain, and a friend with her little girl.*

Sunday, November 15, 2015

When Weary, Turn to God

Many of us are weary these days. There is so much hate and destruction in the world and we are weary of hearing about it. We feel like we are small and wonder what difference we can make when it is so widespread.

We also are weary from our day to day activities. We push ourselves to do one more thing until we are finally exhausted. Sometimes then we can't sleep because we are wound so tightly it is hard to relax.

Day after day it seems like more is piled on to our already long to do lists and we feel like we never get finished.

Maybe our lists are too long. Maybe they should include time to rest scheduled right in there amongst cleaning the floor or making an appointment, or finishing that dish for supper.

Sometimes our weariness can't be helped. A sick child needs our attention and we sit up all night caring for them.

Sometimes we bring on weariness because we just don't want to stop for the night. We don't want to face the quiet when we crawl into bed. 

In those times when your very soul is weary, turn to God and find rest in him.

I'd like to leave you with this prayer I wrote back in June in hopes that it will encourage you to relax and go to God when you are weary and tired.

I'm linking up with

*All photographs are my own*

Sunday, November 8, 2015

On This Day of Rest

Jesus said,

May we all find peace and rest today wherever we are. 

May we know the presence of the Holy Spirit as we move through our day. 

May we be filled with a sense of childlike wonder and find the beauty in ordinary every day objects. 

May we worship God with our whole being, and may we be blessed.

I'm linking up with:

*An earlier version of the poem on the photo was published last month* (Sorry about the duplication)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Come Dancing With Me

It's interesting this week that both the #wholemama and #FiveMinuteFriday linkups had the same prompt which is the word DANCE.

I love to watch people dance. Ever since I was a child I loved musicals. Watching the couples dance during a song, I could imagine myself whirling and twirling across the floor. It always looked like such fun!

A few years ago my husband and I took some dancing lessons from some friends. It was a lot of fun and I wish we had kept up with it. But we never got very good at it. At least we had a good time. 

I think it's about time to revive it again. It's a great way to get exercise and have fun at the same time.

Also, I think of a myriad of leaves dancing along as the wind blows them to the ground. When the colored leaves are all piled on the road it looks like a wild dance when the cars go by and force them to rise and twirl and fall again.

I like to think of my life as a dance. Jesus is beckoning me to take his hand and follow his lead on this journey of life.

Sometimes the dance is happy and fun.
Sometimes it is sad.
Sometimes it is hard.
All times I feel safe and secure in his arms.