Gratitude

 

Gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful word! Today I would like to inspire you to be grateful! It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday activities and stress that we often forget to stop and be grateful for even the smallest of things. I am home recovering from knee replacement surgery. It’s been a week and yesterday I woke up feeling grumpy and frustrated. As I lay back in my bed after putting ice on for the 100 billionth time in a week, I looked to my left and the sun was shining in so bright and beautiful,  I felt guilty for being so grumpy! I pulled out of it immediately. I remembered despite everything, I had so many things to be grateful for. God puts so many things in our life, we just have to stop and remember! What are you grateful for today?

A Day Without a List!

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My last post was about the wonderful gift of a snow day!  As much as I love snow days, I have an uncanny ability to spoil the day off for myself by trying to catch up on my never ending “to do” list . Before I know it, the day is over and I forgot to relax and sip hot chocolate curled up with a good book.  I was so mad at myself that I had “wasted” a perfectly good snow day working on laundry and housecleaning!  So this week when we were blessed with yet another snow day, I was determined that I was going to relax and make it everything I dreamed a perfect snow day should be!

I had been texting a childhood friend who also has the same Type A tendencies of not being able to sit down and relax.  She also works for a school and we agreed that if we both had a snow day, we would relax.  To me the perfect day would be one without a list.  You see, I LOVE lists and have multiple lists and even lists for my lists!  They keep me focused and productive but sometimes I just feel chained to it and would love to have a day where my life is not dictated by the next thing “to do”.  So on this snow day, the first rule was NO LIST!  I decided I would try to sleep in and then whatever I felt like doing, I would just do.  I had some ideas in my mind of what a snow day should look like (The sipping tea, reading a book, watching movies, baking chocolate chip cookies kind of day!) but decided that I would just kind of go with the flow and do what I felt like as the day passed.

After waking up at 6:00, I was able drift back into a deep slumber and slept in and then proceeded to have a leisurely day catching up on some reading, writing letters, exercising without feeling rushed and even a nap!  Before I knew it, the day was almost over and I felt accomplished in a different sort of way.  Although many things were left undone, for the first time in a while, I felt truly relaxed and re-charged.  Throughout the day, I had that antsy feeling that I should be doing something more productive, but I’m glad I stuck with it because I did feel much better.  (Sad to say my friend, who had been texting with me all day for relaxing accountability, only made it until 2:00 before she ditched out plan and went grocery shopping!  There is always next time!)  I survived a day without crossing something off my list!

For many years, I have tried to follow the commandment to keep Sunday a day of rest and worship.  This has always been difficult for me because after working full-time all week, I feel like I am always playing catch up on things that need to get done.  We attend worship regularly, but I need to continue working on the rest part after we leave church.  I want to focus on this because I think it will make a huge difference in how I feel as I start my week on Monday and beyond.  So no more lists on Sunday!  I want to make it a day of worship, rest and time with family and God.

I think (hope) our snowstorms are done for the year, so I’m very happy that I made the most of the last one for the season!  I hope you are all able to find some time to rest and relax this week.

~Blessings,
Jen

Seven Bible Verses To Meditate on During the Season of Lent

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Hi All, I hope everyone is having a great week and that some even got an extra day off for the holiday weekend!  We have been busy as ever and Jules and I are in the midst of a new project that we can hopefully reveal to you in a few weeks!

With Easter being early this year (March 27th), Lent arrived before we barely had the Christmas decorations stored away!  Many people choose to give something up for Lent as a way to draw closer to God during this time of repentance and preparation for Easter.  Personally, over the past few years I have chosen to give up some types of social media in order to gain some time back, which I try to spend in prayer and devotion.

This year Little One and I also decided to also add something during Lent.  She chose to add Bible/devotion reading each evening and I have decided to try to add more words of encouragement to others through spoken and written words.  As part of adding words of encouragement to others, I wanted to share with you seven of some of my favorite Bible Verses (one for each week of Lent).  I hope you find encouragement, hope  and peace as you read these words.

1. “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.” Philippians 4:8

2. “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

3. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

4. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

5. Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

6. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

7. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

 

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Living In The Gap

“Living In The Gap”-This is a phrase Jules uses for those times when you are living in that place of uncertainty and unknowns, of silence in answer to prayers. It is a place where there are more questions than answers and  life may seem unfair.  It is while living in this place that I drew closer to God, learned to trust in His promises and plan for my life and began to understand that silence to my prayers doesn’t always mean no, it might mean-not yet.

Seven years ago on January 13th, we brought home this lively, spunky, loving child from across the world and our lives were forever changed.  Had my prayers for a second baby been answered, we would have never known this precious gift and I could not imagine our lives without her!

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You see as I had been praying for another child, our sweet Little One was not even born yet.  God had plans for our life, but we had to wait for His timing.  That period of waiting for an answer was one of the hardest in my life.  Living in that gap of wondering if we would ever have a second child was challenging.  Every day I had to focus on the blessings in my life- a loving husband, a beautiful healthy daughter, family, friends and good health, as I waited and wondered if our little family of three would expand.  I clung to God and had to give up control to Him and learn to trust in His plan for the situation.  He eventually led us to Russia where we found the missing piece to our family, to our hearts.  The wait was worth it a million times over! God’s perfect, perfect timing.

So if you find yourself “Living In the Gap”, hold on, trust in God and His plan for you!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

This verse got me through some difficult and challenging days.  I hope it brings you comfort too.

~Blessings,

Jen

Snapshot Moments

Life has been moving at breakneck speed around our house since the beginning of September, especially for Eldest. In addition to her twenty plus hour a week competitive marching band schedule and a very challenging course load at school, she has been working on early admissions to colleges.   Some days I feel as if I’m barely keeping all of our heads above water with the day-to-day demands of life.

The other night I was feeling like the day would never end. It had been a long day of work, after-school activities, homework, dinner prep and clean up, lunch making and laundry and I just wanted to sit down when Eldest let us know that we would be needed for proofing her college application essays. The Mister and I exchanged glances and knew that there would be no relaxing on the sofa catching up on our favorite TV shows that evening or probably for the next few nights.

Friends have told me how busy senior year is and that it is over in the blink of an eye and I am beginning to understand what they were talking about. The past two months have disappeared like a vapor and I have hardly had a chance to catch my breath between activities. Back to school nights, school conferences, Homecoming, band performances and more have flown by!

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Last Marching Band Performance at a Football Game

So as we all gathered in the living room together, pouring over her college essays, I realized we had spent more time with Eldest this week working with her on these college applications than we had in a long time. I started getting emotional thinking about the fact that a year from now, she would be gone. In the midst of my weariness and feelings of being overwhelmed with life, I found myself feeling so happy and content in that moment. It was just an ordinary weeknight at home together, but I would cherish the memory of this night. Staring at Eldest, her youth and the excitement of so many wonderful opportunities ahead of her in life, yet still always my little girl, my heart was happy, yet melancholy. I said a silent prayer of thanks to God for the gift of this child no longer a child but a young woman.

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All grown up!

I tried to remember the words of my older, wiser sister Jules who said, don’t be sad when they leave because they come back and give you grand babies one day! I see Jules enjoying that stage of life and realize this isn’t the end, only the beginning of a wonderful life of many “snapshot moments”, these tiny snippets of time with our loved ones that we hold on to and cherish all of our days.

I’m happy to say all college applications were completed this weekend, now we can all breathe and relax a little-oh wait, now I need to start birthday shopping and planning for Little One’s December birthday and Christmas! It’ll be okay; we are just collecting more “snapshot moments” for the memory books!

I wish you a great week and some special “snapshot moments”.

~Blessings,

Jen

Angels Around Us

For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully. Luke 4:10

Our family spent the 4th of July holiday at one of our country’s famous landmarks, Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello.  Monticello sits tucked away majestically at the top of a high hill in Charlotesville, Virginia.  This is one of my favorite areas to visit as the scenery is lush, green and stunning and the opportunity to learn about one of our country’s founding fathers is not to be missed.

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As wonderful as our visit was to Monticello, what happened after we left was the real miracle of the day.  We stayed until it closed at 6:00 and then started out on the trip back to Washington DC about 3 hours away.  About 20 mins. in to our trip we decided to stop for dinner, which was when the Mister realized his wallet was missing.  After tearing apart the car and searching high and low, it was nowhere to be found.  He thought maybe he left it on a bench he was sitting on right before we left.  He had taken it out to give Oldest some money for the gift shop and that is the last time he remembered having it.

We realized we needed to quickly head back to Monticello in the hopes that maybe a cleaning crew or someone would still be around.  I tried calling and only reached a voicemail.  It is distressing enough to lose your wallet, but the Mister had some very important ID cards in his wallet which added to the stress. The whole 20 minute drive back to Monticello, I silently prayed that the wallet might be where we left it or a good samaritan found his wallet and turned it in.

We rushed back and to our disappointment discovered the entrance at the bottom of the drive was blocked with orange cones.  Desperate to get the wallet back, the Mister drove around the cones (you didn’t hear it from me!) and we drove up to a large white gate which was closed and locked.  There was a man and a woman standing near the gate looking at us.

The Mister suggested I ask if they worked there although they did not look like they did as they were dressed in casual street clothes.  When I inquired as to whether they worked there, the man said the woman did.  We explained our dilemma and she said we could try calling security to see if they found the wallet during their check of the premises upon closing.  She then proceeded to point out a sign on the gate with a phone number on it.  We would never have noticed the sign with the tiny phone number printed on it if she hadn’t pointed it out to us.

We called the line for the security officer and Praise God, they had his wallet!  Someone had found it and turned it in.  As I was talking to the security officer, out of the corner of my eye I saw the man and the woman linger by the fence for a bit then climb over it and head up the path to Monticello and disappear.  When the security officer opened the gate to have us drive up to get the Mister’s wallet about 3 mins. later they were nowhere to be seen.  With the wallet safely tucked in the Mister’s pocket and thankful hearts, we headed back home.

Later, as I was re-telling the story to my Mom, it struck me as very odd that those two people happened to be standing at the gate right when we pulled up.  The whole place was deserted, not a soul around except that man and woman.  My Mom and I read an awesome series by Karen Kingsbury called “Angels Walking” and it made me stop and wonder if that man and woman might indeed have been angels!  We never would have found that phone number if the woman hadn’t pointed it out and right after they helped us they just climbed over the gate, walked up the path and were gone.

I will never know for sure whether it was just two helpful people or God’s guardian angels sent to assist a family desperate to recover a lost wallet.  Some people might call it a coincidence or “luck”, but I know it was an answered prayer.  So many amazing miracles are all around us every day, we just have to keep our eyes open to look at them.  One thing I do know for sure is that God is always with us, watching over us, caring for us and loving us and I find such comfort in that knowledge.

How about you?  We would love to hear any “angel stories” you might have.

~Blessings,

Jen