Sunday, December 9, 2018

Snow Day = Family Day!

Last night, while we were all asleep, it started snowing like crazy and it hasn't stopped all day. We literally have a foot of snow! I don't remember seeing this much snow, ever! Being stuck inside for most of the day gave us a lot of time to make cookies, play games, watch movies, and spend quality time together. I think snow is beautiful but honestly, I'm not the biggest fan of it, but being able to enjoy a relaxing day and do fun things together as a family all day, makes me love the snow!

We spent all morning making homemade Moravian cookies like the ones I made with my Grandma Davis throughout my childhood. This is one of our favorite Christmas traditions.
I had fun with my fellas! 
So many yummy Moravian cookies! The kids ate a ton of them too. And Tyson made at least 20 for Santa Claus!

We also played in the snow, just for a bit. It was like a blizzard out there so none of us stayed very long. Allison didn't like it one bit so I brought her inside three minutes after taking this picture. We enjoyed watching Peppa Pig by the fire while her brothers played.
Tyson and I wrapped what seemed like 100 presents. He was so much fun to wrap gifts with. He is a great helper!

Allison also enjoyed snuggling with Daddy today. She actually snuggled with me some too. It was the perfect day for it!

We ended the day with Family Movie Night! We watched Mowgli. The kids enjoyed it. It was a nice way to end our day together.

Today I am grateful for the snow that caused us to pause and enjoy quality time together as a family. We had a wonderful family day! I am also thankful for the traditions and activities that we have to enjoy together. It always warms my heart so much to make Moravian cookies with my kids. I love passing on such a special memory of my grandmother.

I believe God gives us these days to slow down and really take it all in....all that He has given us. Regardless of our situations or circumstances, if we just take a moment to truly take pleasure in our many blessings, we will see that there is so very much to be grateful for!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Most Beautiful Place...

Yesterday two of my dear friends and I went to Blowing Rock, NC for a "Moms Day Out." It was a rainy, yucky day but we had a wonderful time shopping, eating, and laughing! (The laughing almost never ended!) The best part of the day, for me, was our visit to the Prayer Garden next to an adorable little shop called, Take Heart. 

As walked toward the garden I felt my heart swell up. All of the little white tags hanging from the trees are prayers! There are thousands of them! Right here, in the middle of a quaint little town, is proof that God's children are crying out to Him. I can assure you He is there, hearing each one of those prayers and all the others that weren't written. His Presence can be felt so fully. There is a breath-taking heaviness in that garden. It was a very emotional experience for me. It is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever experienced. Not because of the aesthetics necessarily, but because of the atmosphere. 

We visited the Prayer Garden again before we left Blowing Rock. We each wrote a prayer to hang alongside the others. It was a sweet moment. Our entire day was filled with laughter except for the two times we were in the Prayer Garden. Both times, I was so filled with emotion and awe. Tears streamed down my face, not because I was sad, but because I was overwhelmed. 

Psalm 116:1-2 (TPT) says, "I am passionately in love with God because He listens to me. He hears my prayers and answers them. As long as I live I'll keep praying to Him, for He stoops down to listen to my heart's cry."

That's what's happening here. God is stooping down. His presence can be felt and it is absolutely overwhelming in the most wonderful way. Today I am grateful to have visited the Prayer Garden and experienced it with sweet friends. I eagerly await the opportunity to visit this special place again.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Here's Why--

I began writing this blog 8 years ago. That absolutely blows my mind! How has it been 8 years? Honestly, deciding to write this blog and sticking with it for 8 years has been such a blessing to me. I truly believe Living a Life of Gratitude has changed my life! 
Gratitude has changed me. 

Here's why---

It is our tendency, as human beings, to focus on what we don't have, what we dislike about a situation, and what we wish could be different. Choosing to seek out all the things we are thankful for (even when it seems like there isn't much) will completely change our perspective. Changing our perspective will cause fear to flee and trust to rise. 

When we are trusting in the Lord, believing He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do and then pointing out to ourselves and others all the sweet blessings we have, suddenly there is an abundance that we never noticed before. It might be an answered prayer, much-needed provision, or even a change in our circumstances. It might actually be none of those things. Even still, the absence of negativity and fear allows love and joy to swell up all around us.

Living each day from a place of gratitude instead of a place of self-pity and entitlement will inevitably lead to worship. If we are living in a way that causes us to notice the abundance of gifts and blessings all around us, how could we not worship the Giver of these gifts!?

Maybe this is the abundant life Jesus mentions in John 10:10 which says, "The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy but I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly."

I love the second part of this verse in the  Passion Translation. It says,"But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expectlife in its fullness until you overflow!

Today I am grateful for the abundance that is all around us. I am grateful for the change in perspective this blog has produced in me so that I might be more aware of that abundance. I am grateful for the trust that has developed and the joy that has been imparted to me.

When I look back over these 8 years of blog posts, there are SOOOO many gifts and blessings even though my family has also endured many hard, scary, difficult things. God is doing His thing all the time. He never turns His back on us. 

If you ever wonder if there is something to be grateful for, consider what you entered this world with. Nothing. Everything else is a gift, even if it doesn't look the way you thought it should. 

Choosing to live from a place of gratitude gives us eyes to see the abundance all around.

Let everyone give all their praise and thanks to the Lord! Here's why-- He's better than anyone could ever imagine. Yes, He's always loving and kind, and His faithful love never ends. So, go ahead---let everyone know it! Tell the world how He broke through and delivered you from the power of darkness and has gathered us together from all over the world. He has set us free to be His very own! Psalm 107:1-3 (TPT)

Monday, November 19, 2018

An Eventful Monday Evening....

Tonight as I was driving the boys home from Cub Scouts, I turned left to get on the highway. I got about half a mile down the highway when I saw something in the middle of the road. It took me a minute to make out what it was but I finally realized that a deer was crossing through the middle of Hwy 311. It was headed away from my lane but I slowed down anyway. As soon as I started to press the break, for some strange reason, the deer turned and darted in front of my car. I slammed my foot on the break as hard as I could but I couldn't stop in time. The front passenger side of the car rammed into the deer. I pulled over as soon as quickly as I could. My entire body was shaking. 

My 7-year-old and 10-year-old were freaking out in the back seat. This is the first time any of us had been in a car that hit a deer. It was terrifying for them. Once they realized everything was ok and some of the shock faded, I overheard them saying, "I really hope that wasn't one of Santa's Reindeer!"

As hard as we hit the deer, I fully expected to it see laying in front of my car but he must have been well enough to run into the woods because I didn't see him anywhere. The car's bumper was pushed out in a couple of places and there was some hair stuck in the grill but overall, the car is fine. 

I'm honestly not sure how the deer walked away and the car wasn't seriously beat up.  I didn't just bump into the deer. I hit him really hard. Honestly, this experience shook me up! I am so incredibly grateful for God's protection this evening.  It could have been really bad but the damage is minimal and everyone is safe.

I am also thankful for the evening conversations with the boys because of our eventful ride home. They asked a lot of questions and realized how blessed we are to be safe. They both praised God for His protection in their bedtime prayers this evening. 

I want to encourage everyone to be on the look-out for deer as you travel at night. This deer was walking across a busy 4 lane highway at 7pm on a cold night. I wasn't in the mountains, on an untraveled road, in a deer crossing area, or in a wooded spot. If a deer is hanging out on Hwy 311 in High Point, one could be anywhere. Over the past couple of weeks, I've seen tons of deer running around and several dead ones on the side of the road. It's definitely something we need to be looking out for!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Joys of Homeschooling!

 Every now and then I take a step back and stand in awe as I watch my life. It's funny because I never, ever dreamed I would homeschool my kids. When I graduated college my plan was to teach Kindergarten in a public school forever! I thought we would probably have 2 or 3 kids and they would attend the elementary school I taught at. I could have never, ever imagined the path God had planned. I have to say though, His plan is so much better! I absolutely love the life He has blessed me with.

Today as I took a look at my life, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to homeschool my kids. One of the things I love most is the ability to move at our own pace in the mornings. Ankylosing Spondylitis causes me to have overall muscle stiffness and in terrible pain in the mornings. It takes an hour or two to be able to move around the house without pain. It would be next to impossible for me to get the kids to school by 8:00am. God knew all along that I would suffer from this disease--His plans are perfect!

I took some pictures to help show why I love this homeschooling life. Here are just a few reasons.

We aren't just a family, we're also a school! When we registered our school with the state of North Carolina, we had to give our school a name. We decided on Carlisle Christian Academy. Carlisle is the name of the road we lived on during our first year of homeschooling. It will always be a special name because we took a giant leap of faith that year! The boys decided on our school colors (red and black) and our school mascot, the Fire Ant! I ist based upon Proverbs 6:6  which says, "Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!"

This morning, the boys got dressed and headed downstairs before me. It often takes a while for me to feel up to walking around. Thankfully Bryan works from home a few days a week, so he helped them with breakfast. Dylan and Evan made homemade pancakes from scratch for their younger siblings. 

I don't think too many other 7 and 10-year-olds are learning to cook on a Thursday morning! That's a neat perk of homeschooling! We get to be flexible and learn through life's normal tasks. One of my goals is that my boys will be able to cook for their wives! That's not on the NC standard course of study but with homeschooling, we can focus on more than just math and science!

Another thing I love about homeschooling is that the boys get to spend time with the little princess! We are all together, all the time. I know it seems like we probably get tired of one another, but we don't for the most part. Its really a joy to be together. I love watching the boys interact with Allison!

Each morning, after breakfast, the kids have to complete all their chores before we start school. I know they wouldn't see chores as a positive part of homeschooling but I sure do! I have heard so many families say their kids don't have chores because they're time at home each day is so limited. I completely understand that but I think its important for everyone in the family to help out. I'm glad my kids are able to have some responsibility and it's also helpful because they take some of the burden off of me.

I absolutely love doing arts and crafts with kids! I often try to incorporate an art project with the lesson plans. Today Evan read in his Science textbook about the 4 seasons, how the Sun's location affects each season, and how God created them purposefully. So, we made a tree for each season! 
Tyson is currently in Pre-K. He has actually already completed all of the Pre-K work and is already reading very well! He moves at his own speed! Some days he doesn't want to do school work at all. Other days he will spend hours doing his work. Today he practiced writing letters and numbers, painted for a bit, put letters in alphabetical order, and sorted geometric shapes. Oh, and he had to put together this Alphabet train puzzle! He loves puzzles! Because of homeschooling, I can teach my kids at their level and at their own pace. The pressure is minimal and they feel the freedom to learn in ways that suit them best. That's really incredible!

Dylan spends about an hour and fifteen minutes each day on the computer. He is learning French and how to play the guitar. He has also taken online Spanish and typing in the past. I could never teach him the guitar or French and he wouldn't learn those in public school either. I am grateful to have access to online programs to help him have a well-rounded education. I am so proud of him! He has learned so much! Just listen to that video!

I could go on and on honestly. Each day is different but there is never a dull moment! My one goal for each day is to complete all the school work I have planned. Sometimes we're done by lunchtime, other times it's much later in the day. The flexibility is really perfect for our family. My kiddos are doing very well academically and they're learning a lot of things that wouldn't be possible if they weren't home with me. I never dreamed I would spend each day at home with my kids, teaching them every subject but now I consider it one of my greatest blessings! It isn't always easy but there is so much joy that comes along with homeschooling and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is something I find very valuable.  That might be obvious since I've been writing this gratitude blog for 8 years now!!! (That is super hard for me to believe!!!) Each November I try to find something fun for my kids to do that helps to develop an Attitude of Gratitude.

For each day of November, the kids and I have thought of one person that we are thankful for. On that day we are writing a special thank you card to that person, letting them know how much we appreciate them. If you receive a card from us in November, its because we are thankful for you! If you don't, its because there aren't enough days in November!

Today I am grateful for all the lovely people God has placed in our lives. My boys had no problem filling up the calendar with the names of folks they are thankful for. We have so many beautiful friends and family which is truly a blessing! I am also thankful for that my kids enjoy doing projects like these with me. They think its fun but I know how important it is also! Teaching them to count their blessings and thank God for each one of them is something I am honored to do!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"But I don't want to!"

Have you ever met a very determined, very stubborn 4-year-old? If not, you are welcome to visit our home! Our Tyson is the sweetest, most loving, most gentle, little boy I've ever met but, he is also the most headstrong! Lately, if we ask Tyson to do something that he doesn't want to do, we hear, "But I don't want to" over and over again. 

Yesterday, Tyson took a toy from Allison while she was playing with it. She started crying because she was broken-hearted, of course. I asked Tyson to give the toy back to Allison and he immediately screamed, "But I don't want to!"  He probably said that sentence at least ten times. Each time I would respond with, "It doesn't always matter what we want to do." This continued for a while and eventually, I took the toy from Tyson and gave it back to Allison. It took a bit but Tyson did end up getting over it and found something else to play with.

I seriously believe that Tyson would have argued with me all day. In fact, this happens repeatedly over all sorts of things like putting on his pajamas, (But I don't want to!) eating his dinner, (But I don't want to!) and buckling his seatbelt (But I don't want to!) This is a kid that will stand his ground! I'm choosing to believe this will be a really good trait when he's older and dealing with peer pressure! Until then, it's difficult!

As we've been dealing with this over the past few weeks, God has been revealing something to me. As adults we may not scream, "But I don't want to," but how often do we have this same type of attitude toward the situations life throws at us?

Selfishness is something we all deal with but I truly believe it is so much more of a problem than we admit. If we honestly think about it, we almost always have selfish motives in one way or another. Asking God to reveal this in your heart can be scary and saddening. I've noticed it more in myself lately than I care to share. I may not yell out, "But I don't want to," like Tyson does but that's only because I've learned to bite my tongue.

At church today we read Galatians 5:19-21 from the Passion Translation. It says, "The cravings of the self-life are obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, chasing after things instead of God, manipulating others, hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties, and all other similar behavior. Haven’t I already warned you that those who use their “freedom” for these things will not inherit the kingdom realm of God!"

Most of those things obviously come from selfish motives and we have no problem labeling those as inappropriate or evil. But what about hatred of those that get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of other's blessings, etc? Most of us get aggravated when someone gets in our way and we'll argue all day about things that really don't matter. Our world is full of opinions and everyone KNOWS their opinion is the only one that is worthy of being heard. Comparision and being envious of others is just the norm for most people and resenting others instead of celebrating with them is common for most as well. We see those things as pretty typical nowadays but God puts them in the same category as murder, uncontrolled addictions, and sexual immorality. Why? Because at the core of all of these issues, is SELF.

God has been showing me this through Tyson for a couple weeks now but hearing it also today at church really got my attention. Being self-centered, always desiring comfort for ourselves, wanting to be right and manipulating people and situations around us to make things better for ourselves may be the norm in our culture but its not acceptable in God's culture. 

Today I am thankful that God will always gently reveal things that are hindering our growth if we allow Him to. He uses our children, our situations, our friends, and so much more to teach us and correct us. I am also grateful that He will restore us, change our perspective, and help us to place our focus on Him instead of ourselves.

Each time I hear Tyson yell, "But I don't want to," I pray that it will remind me how selfish humans naturally are. And when I respond to him by saying, "Its not always about what we want," I pray that I will refocus my attention on God and all that He is doing around me.

Snow Day = Family Day!

Last night, while we were all asleep, it started snowing like crazy and it hasn't stopped all day. We literally have a foot of snow! I ...