1000 gifts

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.”
– Irving Berlin

One Thousand Gifts…the not-so-little things…

Posted by on May 2, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

It is easy to thank God for the big things. A new job, a sold sign stuck in the front yard, an answer to prayer. But it takes more intention to remember to thank God for the little things. They are there for the taking, but sometimes get swept under the rug of everyday life. But lately, I have been trying to intentionally thank God for those little things, especially when I pray before bedtime with the two girls. I’m usually jammed into Fiona’s toddler bed, holding her little hand while I thank God for things like…

#449: Madi having a best friend to be her twin for “Twin Day” at school

#450: Fiona finally pooping after an all day effort

#451: Dad buying the soundtrack for The Lion King for our family production

#452: Warmer weather for soccer practice

#453: Meals from a friend

#454: Making cards for the people we served at the Renucci House

#455: Fiona’s best friend, Georgia

#456: Wrestling matches with Daddy

#457: May Day packages from Grammy

#458: Colorful dresses

#459: Strawberry mini-cupcakes at intermission of Pinkalicious

#460: Somersaults

#461: Chocolate covered granola bars

#462: Trying out a new instrument at the Art Fair

#463: Gummi worms at the grocery store

Looking at my list, maybe they aren’t so little after all. Building a life of service, culture, relationships, family, fun…that is something to be truly thankful for…

One Thousand Gifts…on kneading bread and counting gifts…

Posted by on Apr 24, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

Somehow, I signed up to bring Strawberry Balsamic Bread to the last women’s Bible study shindig of the year. I found the recipe on Pinterest (where else), bought the ingredients before carefully reading the recipe (bad habit), and started making it at about 6:30 p.m. (even though it had to rise three times).

It was perhaps not the best decision I made today, but when I turned the ball of dough out onto the counter and started my five minutes of kneading, I knew it was not a mistake. After a hectic day of running into work for a few hours, finishing a book review on my lunch break, running soccer practice, and cajoling overtired kids into bed, the rhythmic fold…push…flip…fold…push…calmed my nerves and allowed my mind to drift as I gazed out the kitchen window. Fold…push…flip…fold…push…flip…reflection on a full weekend, on kids who are growing up too fast, on the neighbor’s lilac bush, on my subsiding headache.

And on my gift list for the week…

#435: Warm meals brought over all week…an unexpected blessing as I recovered from my (ridiculous) shingles

#436: Sitting on the front step with Parker under his umbrella while it drizzled…just to talk

#437: Being proud of Madi wanting to be different with her diorama…an Eucalyptus Forest for her Sugar Glider

#438: Tap dancing shows on the concrete basement floor

#439: Seeing the thrill on Parker’s face for his very first soccer game

#440: Visiting with old friends and slipping back into cozy conversation

#441: Looking around the table at my kids and realizing they can all have rational, semi-grown up conversations…at least until somebody “toots”

#442: Writing silly superhero stories with Parker

#443: Feeding off of Fiona’s pure joy and silliness…whether she is wearing five tutus, smashing WikiSticks together, writing her name, running around wildly with Parker or making creepy masks…

#444: Taking my last anti-viral pill and starting to feel like “myself” again

#445: Having friends who will play hooky with you

#446: Reading books on my iPhone…one stolen moment at a time. Most recently? The Expats

#447: Launching the new MCG homepage and having very little to do with it being a success…trust and delegation!

I might have to take up bread making, just for the kneading…

One Thousand Gifts…reflecting on a year with Luke…

Posted by on Apr 16, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

This week I have been reflecting on the past eight months that I have spent studying the book of Luke with a group of women from my church. As I flipped through the pages of my workbook, reading my scribbled notes in the margins, the list of what I learned spilled off the edge of my paper. It was a year of growth for me, learning to trust God’s plan, deepening my understanding of what authentic discipleship looks like, and challenging myself to live a life that honors God.

I started the year in a different place, both physically and spiritually, but looking back, I can see God’s blessings over and over. When the school year began, we were just getting serious about selling our house, they had not even started building on our new street, MomColoredGlasses was just about to get a huge dose of exposure, my Mom had not decided to go to Mayo yet, and I was running on a fuller physical tank.

Things might be a bit more…challenging right now, with physical illness, living in the “in-between” of building a house, uncertainty with my mom’s health, and trying to stay a step ahead of the game, but God feels incredibly close in the midst of it. He knew that I was going to need the things that I learned in Luke to negotiate these choppy waters, and that gives me peace…even with the tingly pain running through my back.

So, the gifts that come to mind…

#424: An amazing group of women…friends…who travelled with me this year

#425: Luke, who took the time to set down a “careful account” of the life of Christ, so that we can be certain of the Truth

#426: Peter, who took his failure and turned it into the cornerstone of the Church

#427: The joy of leading, which means you learn even more

#428: Being mentored by mature Christians who challenged me to push myself

#429: Parables. Stories. The original object lessons.

#430: Seeing impossible prayers answered

#431: Experiencing community…sharing, praying, providing, laughing…

#432: Friendship that goes beyond studying the Bible together

#433: Walking in feeling entirely inadequate…and watching God work

#434: Being a disciple…a student…a child of God

One Thousand Gifts…my mom…

Posted by on Apr 8, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 3 comments

How do we find gratitude in the middle of a difficult time? Before I started counting my gifts, I probably wouldn’t have even tried. But the conscious effort of carving time out of my life to find things that I am thankful for creates fragments of gratitude that bubble to the surface and force me to refocus my attention on the truth that God is good and doesn’t withhold his gifts from us…from me.

I have also found tremendous strength from watching my mom over the years. She has struggled with debilitating migraines, chronic pain for as long as I can remember, and currently, she is possibly facing a difficult and painful spine surgery in the next month or so. The doctors may need to put in a drain for a cyst that is putting dangerous amounts of pressure on her spinal column. I’m terrified for her, and I know she is too, but she is responding as she always has…finding a way to live through it, and lavishing on the people around her.

As we visited her out at the Mayo Clinic this past week, I could see her love for the people around her showing up over and over. In the bellman who took the time to tell us what a great person she was…in the shopkeeper who ran out after her to hand her a slip of paper with her phone number on it if she needed anything…in the way she snuggled with my kids…in the courage she has in facing difficult days…in how she gives and gives and gives….

Gifts of…

#412: Always being willing to listen

#413: Making sure I take care of myself

#414: Teaching me how to make a great pan of lasagna

#415: Superhuman levels of generosity with her time and resources

#416: Knowing what I need before I know it

#417: Being an amazing example of how to handle adversity

#418: Teaching me how to be a strong woman

#419: Stepping out of her comfort zone to homeschool us, even when I was a cranky junior high kid

#420: Loving me unconditionally

#421: Her bottomless creativity

#422: Her enthusiasm for HGTV and Chopped…

#423: Making me feel special…always…

I could keep going…but it makes me get all teary eyed…

Love you Mom…

One Thousand Gifts…ah, springtime…

Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

 So much to be thankful for…and the gifts seem extra sparkly in the early spring sunshine…

…or is it summer?

 

#402: Butterfly garden smiles

#403: Girl Legos

#404: Bug-Eyed Glasses

#405: Little Scrapbookers

#406: Happy Smiles

#407: Baseball Hats…and Fashion Divas…

#408: Swinging sky-high

#409: Going in for the smooch

#410: Measuring up…

#411: Loving the horse…

#412: and loving this early spring…

One Thousand Gifts…a not so ordinary week…

Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

It has been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks…two birthdays and a whole lot of interrupted sleep…

#378: Extra strength headache medication for a “toddler bed sleeping” induced headache

#379: Fiona making it all better by putting both arms around my neck and smushing our foreheads together

#380: Already being awake in the middle of the night so I could hop over and help Parker recover from his bad dream and tingly arms

#381: Hitting the timing just right to celebrate Java Gym’s 1st birthday

#382: The hilarity of Fiona yelling at the Grand Rapids hockey team mascot (a griffin)…”Hey You Chicken!”

#383: Parker singing “Happy Birthday to…myself”

#384: Parker waking up on his birthday convinced that he was taller now that he was five

#385: Overnight shipping so I would get his Electric Company notebook in time for his birthday

#386: Copycat cousins

#387: Being able to see my dad in person…and being able to see my mom virtually with FaceTime for birthday presents

#388: Slow cooked shredded BBQ pork – I could eat piles of it…

#389: Birthday Giraffe from preschool playing our new drum set

#390: My party planner Madi-girl throwing a birthday “fiesta” at the Farm with Gramma & Papa, complete with mustaches…

#391: Birthday adventures with Daddy…love to see my boys hanging out together

#392: The soothing calm of cooking dinner after a busy weekend

#393: Getting a few things done even though I’m impossibly unorganized right now…

#394: mamalode.com

#395: Legos for girls…why didn’t they think of those before?

#396: Checking out new books from the library

#397: The bewitching power of Mary Poppins

#398: New purple sparkly shoes

#399: Fiona wearing the same ballet costume three days in a row

#400: Going to Parker’s “restaurant” to eat Butterfly Feast and Drumstick Soiree

#401: Quiet moments speaking truth into Madi’s life…”Do not worry. Do not be afraid.”

#402: A not so ordinary week…

One Thousand Gifts…24 hours…

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

This past weekend, I headed off to Greenville, Michigan to spend just about 24 hours with eight other women to scrapbook. It is scheduled about twice a year, and lately I have only been able to pop in for a few hours, but this time I spent one night to give me more time to hang out….I mean…work really hard on my scrapbook pages.

It always surprises me…but then again, not really…how quickly we jump back into the rhythm of working and talking. There is just something about getting out from behind a computer screen, letting the paper scraps pile up, and listening to the conversation flow late into the night. Refreshing…healing…just what I needed….

#366: Listening to “The Story” on the dark road to Greenville…

#367: Not having to cook every meal…

#368: Eating homemade dip in the middle of the afternoon

#369: Wearing my pajamas until two in the afternoon…

#370: Scribbling book ideas, websites, and kid ideas on a piece of scrap paper

#371: Feeling the creative juices flowing…

#372: A bottomless bowl of Cadbury Mini Eggs…

#373: Talking about nothing…and talking about everything…

#374: The “remember whens”…

#375: One uninterrupted night of sleep

#376: Getting away from our families, just so we can stare at their faces for hours on our pictures, journal our stories, and talk incessantly about them…

#377: Being a part of a community of such amazing women…

I feel truly thankful for my time away, which gave me the perspective I needed after a difficult week. It reminded me that I am not the sum of my challenges, but that I have so much more in reserves that I can draw from. Plus, I ended up with some sweet pages for Fiona’s baby book (Yes, I know…she’s almost three)…icing on the cake.

One Thousand Gifts…from my iPhone…

Posted by on Feb 23, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 1 comment

I am sure that my kids get a little tired of me saying, “Wait! Let me take a picture of that!”, but I love having the ability to capture moments…as they happen. So this week, I flipped through my iPhone pictures from the last week or so, and uncovered a few (and then a few more) gifts…

#356: Fun in the tile shop

#357: Easy Bake Oven cupcakes

#358: Still-blooming roses

#359: Sunday afternoon ice skating with Daddy…

#360: Roller skates

#361: Time with my kiddo…

#362: Paper Moustaches

#363: Walks in the middle of February…

#364: A sneak peek at what our new house is going to look like…

#365: Making it through a “year” worth of gifts…

One Thousand Gifts…working through the stress of daily life…

Posted by on Feb 15, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 2 comments

I feel like there is a lot I could be stressed out about right now.

Let me rephrase.

I am stressed out right now, and it is the kind of stress that shows up in stiff necks, sore jaws after nights of grinding my teeth, and extra snappiness towards the people I love. It is the kind of stress that deems extra prayer, a few more visits to the local yoga hothouse, and lots of extra chocolate. It is also the kind of stress that could use a little mental check of my gifts from the past week, which of course is delayed, because I was too stressed and busy to do it on Monday. And that is exactly part of the problem. There should never be a time where I am too busy to be thankful…too busy to take the time to reflect and pray…too busy to deal with my stress.

So, here I am…with jaws that clench without thinking…and a mind that is too jumpy to settle down…to count a few more gifts…

#340: The homemade valentines that the kids made

#341: Over-the-top thrill over a new Jake and the Neverland Pirates special…Peter Pan is back, kids!

#342: Bright pink roses for valentines day…with a water bottle for a vase (couldn’t find the box of vases)

#343: Walking the perimeter of our lot…and feeling a tiny shred of ownership…

#344: Finding a cabinet color combination that Ben and I could agree on…

#345: The Twisted Rooster House Salad…just love those raisin bread croutons…

#346: Random opportunities to talk about MCG on the local news…

#347: Being able to talk about something I am passionate about…helping people with their career journey

#348: My new Adele Pandora station…

#349: Reading a Boxcar Children story with Parker, all snuggled on the couch

#350: Fiona enjoying running errands with me…even when it means waiting at the Secretary of State office

#351: Play dates at the mall play area

#352: An uninterrupted dinner with Ben

#353: Watching Madi be so excited about her “book report” on The Magician’s Nephew

#354: Warm blankets on cold nights

#355: Successfully completing one wheel pose at yoga this week, along with a shoulder stand…

I could probably keep going…I can tell my jaw is already relaxing. So many things to be thankful for…so many reasons to be joyful…

 

One Thousand Gifts…my Madi girl…

Posted by on Feb 8, 2012 in One Thousand Gifts | 0 comments

I’m finally back to adding to my gift list…and finally rounding out my focus on the kiddos with my homage to Madi, my beautiful six-year-old. It amazes me every day how the tiny baby I brought home from the hospital has somehow turned into a mini grown-up. She has her moments, but I love that she is in that sweet spot between the chaos of toddlerdom and the crankiness of the preteen world. It’s a good place to be.

I’m thankful for…

#327: Her beautiful smile…

#328: When she says, “We are just the same, Mama.”

#329: Her love of reading…

#330: How she loves to run and leap up onto the couch…over and over…

#331: That she doesn’t even want to wear her “Girls Rule” shirt, because the boys at school might feel bad…

#332: Her deep well of compassion…always looking out for someone else…

#333: That she will stop everything to say “I love you”…

#334: Her unbelievable intelligence…

#335: The attention she pays…to everything…even when I don’t want her to notice 🙂

#336: Her willingness to step up to a challenge…just recently she jumped into 3rd grade math without hardly a hesitation…

#337: When we are walking along and she slips her hand into mine…

#338: How she eats dinner without complaining…let me tell you, this is a gift…

#339: When we just talk…

I love this girl.

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