The First Snow

There is just something so beautiful about the first snow. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but tonight, I sit, watching snowflakes fall. As they cover the branches  of the trees in the backyard. As the pines become a beautiful winter white. I cannot help but feel something special. Something new.

As I stare out at the sleeping wonderland around me, I feel peace. It is quiet and still. The snow is pure and white. There is nary a footprint to mar it’s beauty.


Perhaps this first snowfall of the season is even more special because it began at night. After (or rather, as) my little ones were tucked quietly into their beds, the snow began its magical and wondrous decent. It quietly began to cover the ground. Nudging the earth to sleep once more.

And it is there that the beauty begins, isn’t it? In the quiet. You know my life is really, anything but quiet. But here, as the snow silently falls, it is. I simply stare out the window. Marveling at the beauty of a snow-covered branch. And it reminds me of more. It reminds me of Him. The Creator. His marvelous works.

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Creating a Gratitude Journal

You all know how much I love gratitude and crafting, right? I know I haven’t shared many crocheting posts lately, but if you follow me on Instagram (nudge, nudge) you will see a steady stream of crochet goodies and maybe even some other crafts. (Probably not, but you never know.)

This Thanksgiving season reminds us of the importance of gratitude. Of giving thanks. It encourages us to take time and remember. And I love seeing social media taken over with friends spending time in daily gratitude.


I remember when I first learned about this idea of year long, daily gratitude. I was given the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Ann was living her life as a homesteading, homeschooling, mother and wife. She was wrapped in the typical. In the normal. And friends, isn’t that right where we find ourselves too? Wrapped in the small, average, daily moments of life. So a friend challenged her to list 1,000 gifts. To practice daily thankfulness. And she said yes. This daily practicing of Thanksgiving changed her life. And her heart.

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Lessons in Thankfulness: 4 Tips to Practicing Gratefulness

I find myself writing a lot about gratitude. I talk about thankfulness and how it has affected me. And my life. But then I continue on. I continue with life without ever going into details. I continue on without sharing what thankfulness means and how to practice it in a practical way.  So today, today I will stop rushing past. Yes, today I am pausing and reflecting. Today, I will share what gratefulness is to me and what it has done in me.

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ONE THOUSAND GIFTS

About a year ago I was given a book. One Thousand Gifts by Ann VoskampThis book changed my life. Seriously, I don’t say this lightly. At all. I have never read something so profound (you know, other than the Bible), that it literally changed the way I lived and viewed my life. Ann shares so vulnerably, so personally her own journey of gratitude and grace. She walks us through her life, her story, and her journey through thankfulness. Her journey began with a challenge. A challenge to document 1000 gifts. A challenge to live this life, with the ups and the downs, to the full. She began with a journal and a pen and then began using a camera to document the small and big ways she experienced gratefulness. The small and big ways she experienced the love of her Heavenly Father.

MY JOURNEY OF THANKFULNESS

That is where I met, Ann. I met her in the middle of the easy and the hard. I met her on my own journey through life with a special needs child. I met her on my own journey of understanding who I am outside of motherhood or marriage. I met her on my own journey to understanding the love of the One who created me. And honestly, I began this journey of gratefulness thinking it was a bit silly, even unnecessary. I practice thankfulness at the dinner table daily, with my children. We recount our days for one another, grateful for the hearts that beat so closely together.

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Greece Favorites: Part Two

I am joining in with Andrea at Momfessionals, Narci at Grace and Love Blog, &Erika at A Little Bit of Everything Blog for Friday Favorites. And sharing my favorites from my Greece trip, Part Two! (If you haven’t read Part One, you totally should!)

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I think the second half of my time on Crete was my favorite. But that may not be fair. I truly loved every moment. But there is something magical about adventuring alone. I never understood it, as I have never been alone. But when I visited the Acropolis and had Wednesday, a free day, I felt a freedom I have never experienced before. I learned more about myself, relied on myself. And found how strong my comfort zones really are. I look back and wish my solo day came later in the trip, so I could have felt more at ease really exploring each alley, each street. But I know I will be back.

The second half of the stay also held visits to my Yia-Yia’s ancestoral homes. Seeing where your roots are, where they come from is powerful. It was always something I held onto loosely, but seeing the home my Yia-Yia was born in caused my heart to leap. The connection ran deep. Deeper than I ever imagined, even with the strong connection my Yia-Yia and I share.

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Greece Favorites: Part One

Today I am joining in with Andrea at Momfessionals, Narci at Grace and Love Blog, & Erika at A Little Bit of Everything Blog for Friday Favorites. And I am sharing some of my Greece Favorites! Because, if you follow me on any of my social media platforms, you know I was in Greece last week! (And if you don’t follow me yet, you should: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin.)

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Okay, moving on from my shameful self promotion…

|| DAY ONE: SUNDAY ||

My flight out began Sunday night. Sunday afternoon, I began freaking out. I have never traveled alone (without Greg or my family) and I was becoming fearful. I fed that fear and finally, had to make the hard choice: to continue living in irrational fear or to remember God’s faithfulness and trust. I chose the latter. You can read more about the fear, here.

Before I had to face that fear, I tried to prepare myself as best I could. I decided to pack only carry-ons. You know, so I wouldn’t have to worry about my bags making it all the way to Greece and so I wouldn’t have to conquer the baggage carousel. (I told you my fears are irrational.)

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Thankful Heart: Greece

In the airport. Preparing to leave for Greece. Honestly I have been preparing for this for weeks. Counting down the hours, the minutes. And now that the time is near, I wonder how it is already here. How I am already leaving.

But now. Today, today fear is crippling me. Please, don’t get me wrong. I am still excited. But the fear. The fear grew. Unabated. Free. And this afternoon, when I realized I would have enough time to leave the Athens airport and get a peak at the Acropilis, fear reared its ugly head. I debated not leaving the airport. Because fear. Because if I take a taxi alone, bad things could happen. (Yes, I seriously have not even taken a taxi in Chicago alone!) Because what if 100 (or even 10) things happen and I miss my flight to Crete. But my husband and a dear friend reminded me – even if I miss my flight, I can book a new one and to pray. That I am not being foolish. That I am choosing to trust. That I am choosing adventure. And it will be amazing.

But still. Fear reigned. And as Greg drove me to the airport, fear continued to grow. It tried to overtake my excitement. To steal it from me. Tearing away my adventure. My courage.

And now. Here I sit. Through security. In the international airport I have rarely visited. And even rarer by myself. And I am deliberately, intentionally choosing to trust.

Because I will not fear. I need not fear. With the next step I take, I will choose to embrace adventure. Trust. Courage.

Because this is an amazing experience. This is a wonderful gift. And I will not squander it on fear. So instead, I will remember. I will spend time in thankfulness. Because what better way to combat fear than by remembering God’s provision.

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June: Celebrating Grace

June has been a month of transitions. School ended. Summer began. Family trip to Florida. Potty training. Change upon change. Transition upon transition. And I know we still aren’t done.

Life is tricky like that. We get used to it. We accept the hard and the beautiful parts of our season. And then. Just like that, it changes. It alters before we even notice the last season is gone. Before we really get to celebrate it, it passes. So this month, we have been trying to celebrate. Each milestone. Each change. Each new word. Because we know. We know how easy it is to move on. To move on before we even realize it is happening. We know the kids get older and older and time won’t stop. We know that the summer will race past us, hopefully filled with adventures, and then it will be gone and we will be frantically purchasing school supplies and preparing for a new year.

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Joy: A Product of Thankfulness and a Provider of Freedom

I have been thinking a lot about JOY lately.

As I was getting my littles down for naps, the other day, I was struck by their joy. It seems so easy for them to find it and to express it. Just a smile or a tickle from me elicits free and wild laughs. Giggles that never end. They experience extreme and boundless joy when their dad comes home from work. They surprise me with the depths of their joy over simple and small blessings.

I find myself watching them and wondering: When was the last time that I laughed so free. When a simple act made me feel so joyful.

I don’t want to give you the wrong idea – I am a happy person. I find time for myself and I have the honor of being a stay at home mom. I love my life, my family, my home… But am I “tilt my head back with laughter” joyful?

JOY + THANKFULNESS

As I think on joy, I keep coming back to thankful. Shouldn’t a posture of thankfulness produce joy?

If I am truly listing and numbering those gifts, those blessings, the small and big ways that I am thankful – shouldn’t I be experiencing that same boundless joy? If I am thankful each day, shouldn’t I be overly and abundantly JOY-FILLED?

Maybe. And maybe not. I know that I do find and feel joy as I take the time to remember all the things I am thankful for. I know that I find joy in the act of remembering God’s faithfulness.

I think it’s the way joy looks. It can be harder to see joy in this stage of life. Between the constant movement, the interruptions, the watchfulness, the constant noise, the activities and schedules. Joy can seem fleeting. It almost feels like it’s hiding.

REMINDERS OF JOY

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine was at church. They had just had a baby and I was genuinely surprised to see them. And I was JOYFUL. I literally (and perhaps, embarrassingly) ran up the steps to sit near them, to hug them.

Then the sermon was about JOY. About how joy, blessing, comes after obedience. You know how I get message after message until I finally stop to listen. So here it was. Again. Something I had been thinking on myself, mulling over. Joy.

So I thought. I listened. I took notes. And I realized. I AM JOYFUL. God was, and continues to, show me joy. It is there, it is for me. And it is in my life. It is in my thankfulness list, and I am continually reminded of it as I add and continue to number my thankfulness.

JOY + FREEDOM

But what’s more, there is FREEDOM in JOY. There is freedom to lean in, to trust God. And to KNOW His blessing.

Psalm 97:1 (Yes, this is the Psalm I read today. If you haven’t read the Psalms before, I would love if you would join me in reading a Psalm, or 2, each day!) says this:

“The Lord REIGNS, let the earth REJOICE…”

It is so simple. Just 7 words. The Lord reigns… So rejoice! That’s it. There aren’t any constraints on joy, true joy. It doesn’t say – If the Lord reigns AND your life is easy and happy, THEN rejoice. No, I can find joy because God is in control. Period. That’s it.

I can be joyful because God is sovereign. I can find rest in His power, knowing that He is in control. And because God is in control, I can rejoice. And again, because He is in control, I have freedom.

My friend, Lori of the Boutelle Family, told me this week, after our feedback appointment for my sweet Boy Child (more about that appointment this week. You can read more about our journey, here), that it is okay to embrace the joy. To find freedom in it. I don’t know why, but sometimes, freedom can be a hard thing to embrace. It recognizes that you do not have the control you thought you did. Freedom can be hard. It can look different that you expected. But it feels…oh it feels JOYFUL. This week has been a roller coaster, but through it all, I have been challenged to be obedient. To find my joy. And to let it free me. And to rest in the God of All.

CHILDLIKE JOY

Now does my joy look different than my children’s joy? Sometimes. And that’s okay. I don’t find joy from climbing onto a chair. And the most difficult part of my day is not getting back down from said chair. We are different. Our goals, our knowledge, our tasks are different. Why wouldn’t we experience and express joy differently as well? And when I do feel that joy like a child, the joy I felt when I ran to my friend, it is equally beautiful and freeing. It reminds me of the joy I  felt when I was a little, myself. And in this instance, it reminded me of the beauty in community, the treasure of a friend, and the joy found in relationship.

Today, as I dug in the dirt, pulling weeds, preparing the gardens, my joy looked different. (And no, the irony that I was cleaning out the garden and removing the weeds, while thinking on my own heart and clearing away the lies, is not lost on me.) My joy rested. It was thankful. Thankful for this land to care for and for a job well done.

Though my joy may look differently than it did when I was little, it is still JOY. It is beautifully perfect because my joy can rest. It rests in obedience to my God. My joy is whole and unshakable because it KNOWS the God of the universe. Because He cares for me and loves me.

So I will continue to obey. To walk in faith. I will follow Him. I will continue to number my thankfulness. And I will continue to find and experience joy. Simple and pure JOY.

I hope you join me, as I choose joy. 

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Next week, I will again be hosting a link up with my friend Lori from The Boutelle Family. It will be about finding our quiet time, our me time. This is something I have really been embracing lately, and would love for you to join us! For more information about how the link up works, please visit our first link up

A Thankful Heart

THE BALL

This past weekend, my husband and I were invited to attend a ball! Yes, that’s right, a ball. We were excited to attend an event that was outside our “normal.” Really, just getting to go out was great. This is my husband’s busy time at work, so a night out (and a FREE one at that!) was exactly what we needed.

But as we drove around to find a parking spot, we drove past people living in homelessness. I realized that something had changed within me – I was heart broken that people had paid thousands of dollars to attend this function tonight. Yet, right here were people – left forgotten, broken, and alone. Walking into the ball, I was struck with the extravagance of it all. It was beautiful, but it was too much.

Please know, I am not against beautiful events or parties. I am not against having a nice home or nice things. I enjoy all of those things, and I think that is okay. I am, however, struck by the extreme differences and saddened that if some of this money was given to organizations focused on helping people, the world could be a different, better place. And really, it should be.

ONE THOUSAND GIFTS 

Earlier that day, I had been reading from Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts, about thankfulness. She recounted how living in thankfulness had begun to cultivate a life of trust. A life without constant worry and fear; because we spend time remembering, recounting God’s prior faithfulness.

I had realized that this was also true in me. I have found freedom from my fears, my parental worries. And when I forget, I return to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to help me leave these bags at His feet. I return to my list of thankfulness, and I try again. I have also found contentment. Happiness with what I have, and truly seeing the fullness of it all.

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