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?

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.

IMG_4577

IMG_4559

 

IMG_4547

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

A Mother’s Care

Happy Summer! I am officially on summer break this week so hopefully you will see a lot more action on this blog!  Jules and I still continue to battle some health issues, her recent being pneumonia and I am four weeks post-surgery for my foot injury.  We thank you for your patience at the sparse posts but we hope to be back with lots of fun and inspiring ideas to share with you!  Just a teaser-Jules has been working on some pretty inspiring fairy gardens so stay tuned for pictures and directions for an enchanting project!

I’m happy to say the surgery for my foot injury is behind me (for more details on the injury click here).  Hopefully I will be done with the walking boot in a couple of weeks and can move on to physical therapy and be as good as new.  I’m trying to see beyond the temporary inconvenience of this injury and look ahead to days of health and healing but it has been hard to be patient.

I have learned many things through this challenge, one of the biggest being how  important encouraging words and acts of care are to someone under the weather.  I think I knew this on some level but until I actually experienced it first hand, I don’t think I really “got” how important and meaningful it is.  The encouraging e-mails, messages, visits and prayers I received before and after my surgery really helped brighten my day, made me smile and brought me so much comfort.

I realize now how much this means and I want to be better about doing this for others.  It only takes a second to send a message or make a phone call and it can really help to offer hope and cheer to someone who is feeling down.

Were you wondering when I was going to get to the point of the title?  Due to circumstances of the Mister’s work, he couldn’t be with me during my surgery.  My brother and Mom were able to be with me and then my Mom stayed to care for me afterward.  We have mentioned before about my Mom’s health issues, so I think she was feeling pretty good that she was on the caring end of things this time.  I was so thankful for Mom being here and the time we spent together.  There is just nothing like a Mother’s care and I was so comforted by her presence and help following my surgery.  She knew what I needed before I even had to ask.  We spent the days of recouperation talking, watching Hallmark movies and just hanging out.  I thank God daily for my Mom and the time we are able to spend together, as I get older, I realize deeply what a blessing this is. Here she is with Little One.  Thanks Mom for all of your help!

IMG_4147

I apologize for this post being a bit rambly!  I hope these words might inspire you to reach out to someone you know who is going through a health issue.  Even if you can’t be a caregiver like my Mom was to me,  taking the time to send a message, card or pick up the phone to say hi will surely brighten their day.

~Blessings,

Jen

Repurpose Your Christmas Cards

IMG_3837

Most of you are probably starting to pack away your Christmas decorations, which might include Christmas cards you received.  Every year I enjoy hearing from family and friends, but wonder what to do with the beautiful cards when the Christmas season is over.

A couple of years ago I decided to save the cards and each night before we say our dinner prayer, Little One chooses a card from the stack and we include that family in our prayers.  It is a great way to keep loved ones in our thoughts and prayers all year.  If we finish the stack, we just start over until we get new ones the next Christmas season.

How about you?  Do you have any fun and creative way to re-use Christmas cards?  We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

~Blessings,

Jen

The Power of Prayer

Jackie and Girls

Today’s post is a turn from our usual lighter side, but I felt I had to make this plea for prayers for family.  I believe in the power of prayer and I am asking that you please pray for my sister-in-law and two nieces.  They are visiting her family in the Philippines and are now directly in the path of Typhoon Haiyan.  My brother-in-law has not heard from them since Wednesday.

Here is his latest post from Facebook:

“I’ve heard nothing from my wife and the girls or from any of their family in Samar since Wednesday.

Last I knew, they were going to be at exactly the worst place in the Philippines they could be, in Samar, where “Meteorologists say that if initial estimates based on satellite images are borne out, it could be the most powerful storm ever to make landfall,” and where “sustained winds were up to 314 km/h (195 mph), with gusts up to 379 km/h (235 mph).”

Save the Children Philippines director Anna Lindenfors predicted a high casualty rate.

“We expect the level of destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan to be extensive and devastating, and sadly we fear that many lives will be lost,” she said in a statement. “Perhaps the greatest wind damage any city on Earth has endured from a tropical cyclone in the past century”.

Please pray for their protection and all of those that will be affected by this powerful storm.  Also, please pray for my brother-in-law, that he may have the strength he needs to get through the waiting and that he would hear from them soon.

In Matthew 18:20 (NIV) it says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The last I checked, we had 167 blog followers and I know that if together, we lift up this family to God in prayer, He will be there.

~Blessings,

Jen

 

 

Overcoming Fear

overcoming Fear

As I was trying to decide what to write about today, I thought of a devotional I had written for the Upper Room Devotional Magazine on fear.  The devotion below was printed on November 11, 1999, almost fourteen years ago.  I still struggle with fear and worry, but it is less paralyzing for me and I try to take my own advice and give my fears and worries to God through reading scripture and prayer.

“If you make the Most High your dwelling-even the Lord, who is my refuge-then no harm will befall you.” Psalm 91:10 (NIV)

My husband’s job in the military once required him to spend days, sometimes weeks, away from home.  His absence caused me a great deal of stress because I do not like to stay alone.  After checking the locks on all the doors and windows, I would lay awake at night listening for noises.  Fear clutched at my heart as I imagined all the terrible things that could happen.

During those long, sleepless nights, I began to think about fear and its effect on my relationship with God.  I decided to turn to the word of God for guidance in dealing with my fears.  I found many passages that describe God’s promise to love and protect me, but I also saw that I need to trust in God’s love.

     My husband is not away as much as he used to be, but when I am alone, I’m no longer afraid.  When I begin to feel uneasy, I turn to God’s word.  Through reading the scripture and saying prayers, my fear fades away.  I realize I am never alone because I am surrounded by God’s never-ending love.

Prayer: God, help us to remember you are with us always, and when we are afraid, to trust in you completely. Amen

Trusting God can help us to face our fears and to overcome them.  Do you struggle with fear?  How do you cope with it?  We would love to hear feedback from you in the comments.

~Blessings,

Jen