Archives for December 2013

Inspiring Christmas Music

This song has been shared on social media sites and has been on the radio, but just in case you haven’t heard it, I wanted to share it with you.  This group of young people are using their God given talents in such a positive, beautiful way.  I find it amazing that the whole song is performed without any musical accompaniment.  Sit back, relax and listen to a little music that will uplift and inspire you.

~Blessings,

Jen

Little Drummer Boy – Pentatonix

 

Traditions

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas with family and friends, I started thinking about traditions.  Little One had a homework assignment over Thanksgiving weekend and we had to pick four of our favorite Christmas traditions for her to share.  As we worked on this assignment together I realized how special traditions are and how they connect us to our loved ones and give us that warm, cozy  feeling that comes with familiarity .  We have a variety of traditions  in our family,  some are tried and true and can’t be missed, and some have to be more flexible depending on circumstances that are out of our control.  I love traditions that have been around forever, but I also like creating new ones as our family grows and changes.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas traditions:

1. The Friday after Thanksgiving, our family (including my Mom, my brother and his family and Jules and her family) all make the trip out to the cemetery where my Dad is buried to place a Christmas wreath by his grave.  This tradition is comforting as it gives us a chance to honor my Dad’s memory.  We always follow this trip with lunch and the latest family friendly movie.

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2. Jules and I like to do some kind of crafting project.  For this year’s project we made hand-painted ornaments and the wreath for Dad.  I love spending this time crafting with my sister and look forward to it all year.  This year my Mom and Little One joined in on the fun!

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3. The girls, hubby , our pup Louie and I all like to take a drive and look at Christmas lights (this usually involves a stop for hot chocolate).

4. Baking cookies with the girls is a fun-filled adventure every year.

5. New Christmas pajamas for the girls- this is the one gift they get to open on Christmas Eve.

5.It might not always be on Christmas Day, but my siblings and their families and my Mom gather together  each year to celebrate Christmas. This involves lots of good food, games and laughs!  The only time I missed this celebration was the year we were in Russia bringing Little One home, which is a story for another day.

6. Hands down, my favorite tradition is going to the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church.  Sitting in the pew, surrounded by my family in the soft glow of candlelight singing Silent Night and celebrating the birth of Jesus is the best part of Christmas for me!

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How about you?  What are some of your favorite family traditions?  I would love to hear what you do and maybe get some new ideas for my own family.

~Blessings,

Jen

 

God’s Handiwork

I want to thank you for your patience with our sparse posts over the past week.  As Jules mentioned, our Mom is in the hospital with some heart issues and we have been very busy taking care of her.  I am so thankful I was able to be with my Mom this week and help her.  In tough times, as Jules said, we have to choose gratitude and count our blessings.  Although this has been a very difficult week, I am thankful that I got to spend so much time with my Mom and my brother and sister.  I am also thankful for the patient and kind nurses, medical professionals and staff that have taken such wonderful care of my Mom.

A week ago, after having a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with my family, I woke up to this scene:

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It was absolutely breathtaking and I could not stop staring at the beauty all around me.  I was so thankful to be surrounded by family, viewing God’s handiwork and just enjoying one of his special gifts to us!  It is the moments like this which we cherish and hold in our hearts, that help us get through the more challenging days.  God’s gifts to us might not always be as obvious as this beautiful winter wonderland, but they are are there, if we take the time to look closely.

~Blessings,

Jen

8 Reasons to be Grateful

Gratitude

I would like to share with you all the reason for our absence the last few days. In addition to Thanksgiving exhaustion, our mom was rushed by ambulance to the hospital Sunday night with some heart problems. It has been a very tiring few days for all of us. She is having a procedure tomorrow that hopefully will help things. In the meantime I came across this online and though it would be good to share. Something I feel is important and especially so right now, is feeling grateful. We all need to remember to do this more frequently. Something that isn’t on the list that I am also incredibly thankful for is my faith and a loving God that has helped support us through these trying times. What would be on your gratitude list?

 

Peace and love,

Julie

 

Even in the toughest economic or political times, there are numerous reasons to be grateful. The old saying tells us to count our blessings, but sometimes that can be difficult to do. It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving for you to feel grateful and express that gratitude. Every now and then, it doesn’t hurt to take stock of just how good you have it. Here are eight reasons to be grateful.

Life

You woke up this morning, breathing and with a heartbeat. You get to enjoy today and hopefully wake up again tomorrow. You get to see your family and friends, and enjoy food and life’s luxuries. It can sometimes be easy to forget to be grateful for the most basic thing: life itself.

Health

”At least you have your health.” Heard that before? According to Valerie Reiss, holistic living editor for Beliefnet, you should be grateful for your health because it is the foundation of who you are. According to Reiss, you don’t necessarily need to be physically and mentally well to feel healthy, but when you do feel healthy, it’s one of life’s greatest blessings.

Employment

People often complain about their job, calling it the daily grind or worse. But having a job is something for which you can really be grateful. A job probably gets you out of the house every day and adds variety into your daily life so that you are not just sitting at home on the couch. Even more, a job helps you pay your bills and means you’re not standing in the unemployment line or wondering how you’re going to eat each week.

So even if you don’t have the most exciting job in the world, remember to feel some gratitude for it every once in a while, because your life would be a lot different without it.

Family

Some people love ‘em, some don’t: families. If you’re one of those whose family loves and supports you, consider yourself lucky and be grateful. Feel thankful and express that gratefulness if you are lucky enough to have family who is more like friends: They’re people you can confide in and who will be there for you through thick and thin. Many people don’t have that kind of family, so be grateful. And remember to tell them how lucky you are.

Friends

You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends. If you’ve chosen good ones, remember to be grateful for them and express your love and appreciation.

According to Reiss, friends are the families we make. Friends help you remember who you really are and who you can become. They remind you what you want and need, as well as what you deserve. True friends are there through your best and darkest times. Appreciate that connection. Express your gratitude every chance you get.

The outdoors

How lucky are we to have parks and trees and rivers and trails and animals and mountains and hills and oceans? The outdoors is such a blessing, and one for which we should always be grateful. According to Reiss, the natural outdoors helps you feel connected to every aspect of this earth — the ground, the sky and everything and every creature in between.

Free time

You may feel like you never have enough, but you should be grateful for what free time you do have. Free time lets you be you. You get to do your favorite things, no matter what those are. Free time allows you to sleep more, enjoy the outdoors, relax at home, garden, fish— whatever you enjoy most. Be grateful that you get the opportunity to do the things you love.

Modern technology

Though it’s the one material thing on this list, it is important to feel gratefulness for today’s modern gadgets. Think about how much they contribute to your daily life. For some, they help them do their jobs every day. Some people use them solely as a form of entertainment. For some, they provide a beat to keep you motivated during your run or gym workout. Feel even more gratefulness for the modern techno-gadgets that keep people alive, like pacemakers. Today’s gadgets do so much to keep our lives going that we often overlook them. Instead, the next time you’re typing away on that computer, remember to appreciate it and be grateful.