Joy

Reflections of Joy

My 7-year-old, Parker, has been writing stories lately. These stories are always wildly imaginative. Her latest story is entitled, “The Zoo is the Greatest Place on Earth.” The zoo in her story is not just any ‘ol zoo. Oh, no, it features special animals like polka dotted polar bears and pink penguins. Who wouldn’t love to visit a zoo like that?

My girl is a natural storyteller. When she shares her stories with me, great joy can be seen in her eyes, and heard in her voice.

Her joy of telling a story got me thinking about my 2013 One Word: Joy. We all seems to be quick to move on these days. We’re busy, busy, busy. We move on to the next big thing, leaving little, or no time for reflection.

It’s important that we “stop and smell the roses” on occasion if we truly want to understand where we’ve been, how far we have come, and to see the road ahead more clearly.

2013 Joy |  I think focusing on the word joy for 2013 made me stop and look for it intentionally. Having joy takes effort. It’s a choice we make. And, I chose joy (most of the time).

I took time to do things that brought me joy, of course, but I also took the time to look for joy in the little things around me everyday. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to find. See, looking for it does work!

Joy

Reflecting…

I found Joy in glorious sunrises out my back door. Joy in nature. Joy in autumn smells, color and weather. Joy in His word, usually when I wasn’t looking for it. Funny how that worked. Joy in my children’s’ laughter. Joy in watching the girls grow into the young ladies they are becoming. Joy in the mess of craft days. Oh, yes, there is joy in glitter, everywhere. Joy in photography, and trips to the mountains. You get the idea…

So, before you rush into 2014, take a moment to reflect on the last 365 days you’ve lived. That is a lot of days. Were they well spent? Did you use them to your advantage? Did you accomplish what you wanted in 2013; where did you fall short? How have you grown personally, professionally, or spiritually?

Before we can see where we’re going, we need to know where we’ve been.

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Bring on the new year…

The Christmas season is officially over. You know how you can tell? Because the kids have played with all their toys and are now bored. Commence the bickering! The tree has yet to be packed away. And I don’t care.

I got an extra special gift this year. The flu. Awesome. Parker had it Saturday of last week. Christmas Eve was Alexandra’s turn. But mine was saved for Christmas Day.  At least I didn’t have to cook. We were invited to eat with friends, but I stayed home…holding down the couch.

Ipod

iPod Touch

She got her iPod Touch but not before I made her suffer a little. I wrapped it in her old cell phone box, then placed that in a box, which I wrapped, and repeated two more times. There was confusion, then tears of joy. Priceless.

Giant sock monkey

Giant sock monkey

Her big sis was responsible for finding this giant sock monkey. The boots are hers. She didn’t need anything else!

Shop til you drop

She’s out for the count

A trip to the mall to spend gift cards and cash…we shopped til we dropped. Which in 7-year-old time is approximately 2 hours. If we are lucky.

I woke from my flu coma on Friday, walked outside to the garage for bottles of water, and spotted these loving sights in the backyard:

Frost on branch

Winter branch

The sunrise shining through sleeping leaves. Today is the day He has made.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Now, bring on the new year!

Categories: December Daily, Holidays, In the Moment Photography, Joy, Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank goodness for dogs | Intentional Gratitude

Two years ago, around this time, two dogs came to live in our house. We were shocked by the sudden lost of my hubby’s dear friend, Ed. We were even more shocked by his will. He left his dogs to us.

We had lost our beloved beagle just a few months earlier. The last thing we wanted was to replace her with another dog…let alone two.

One dog is a white toy poodle named Rocco, weighing about 9 pounds and without an ounce of house training. The other being an 85 pound black lab with an uncontrollable, intense bark, appropriately named Thor.

Parker, our 6-year-old, was completely afraid of Thor. Understandable since Thor was almost as tall as she was.

To make a long story short…Parker and Thor become BFFs (she often uses him as a pillow while they watch TV together). We spent hundreds of dollars on dog training services to control the barking (after two years I actually see hope that it is working). We’ve cleaned up a lot of poodle poop & urine (and occasionally still do). We  (hubby and I) take a daily dose of allergy pills. We have re-seeded many, many spots of our backyard, and replaced many dug up plants (Thor is a digger). Being named after the god of thunder, doesn’t stop Thor from barking at it. Rocco owns many cute sweaters that he proudly wears in the winter…strutting his stuff.

These dogs have become a part of our family.

black lab

toy poodle

black labAt night, Thor takes up guard position in the hallway, just outside the girls’ bedroom doors. Rocco still sleeps in his crate because he can’t be trusted not to urinate (or worse) on everything. Thor and Rocco meet me at the top of the stairs when I come home from work…or from anywhere. Thor “talks” to me then. I don’t know if he is cursing me out for leaving, or saying “I missed you”.

We are thankful for these dogs. Although they have their bad habits (don’t we all?). We still love them and couldn’t imagine not having them around.

Ed knew what he was doing when he left the care of his dogs to us…Or, is it the dogs who take care of us?

>>> A month long giving thanks fest brought to you by the Joy Dare. What are you thankful for? Studies show that people who write 3 things they are thankful for every day are 25% happier. So, write it down and get happy!

Christmas at the farm Ann Voskamp, along with Liz Curtis Higgs, is hosting a free webcast called Christmas at the Farm on November 21 at Noon ET. “Unwrap the full love story of Christmas”.

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3 Gifts of Verse

Continuing our month of giving thanks intentionally…

give thanks quote

*****

November 10: 3 thing read in the Bible

1 Corinthians 10:30-31

30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

I turn on the Today Show. How can I give thanks when half a world away a projected 10,000 people are dead from a typhoon? When every time I turn on the TV I am met with tragedy, and  senseless violence? So many things that I feel are out of my control. My little list means nothing in the grand scheme of the hurt of the world. Is it “right” of me to think that coffee is something to be thankful for when people pray that they have a blanket to cover themselves tonight? My head hurts and just because of the news.

Ecclesiastes 3:10-12

10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

And, what can His plan be for the suffering? What is beautiful about the bad news seen every day? How can I be happy with so much hurt in the world? Some days it is so hard to be happy. I am not in a happy mood today.  I have been suffering with severe allergies for two days (and nights) straight. I am in no mood to write down any thing I am thankful for. The TV is too loud. It makes my head hurt more. My head is going to explode…give thanks in that?

Genesis 3-5

“In the days you eat from it your eyes will be open…”

From the beginning, Adam and Eve were not thankful for all they had. They let Satan deceive them into thinking that to eat the fruit is to see the truth. When in reality to eat the fruit is to be blinded. So blinded by all that is bad and wrong in the world. Blinded that they (we) don’t see the good. Blinded so much that we don’t give thanks for the little, happy things.

The first sin in the history of mankind was ungratefulness.

Adam and Eve where ungrateful for what was given to them by God. They tasted the forbidden fruit and wanted more. They didn’t see what they had because they saw everything, good and bad. Satan side tracked them.He filled their head with lies.  I don’t want to pull an Adam and Eve. I want to be grateful…even if it is for my little cup of morning coffee. I push on in spite of my headache.

These 3 verses were read today in unexpected places; when I wasn’t looking for verses. God can be funny that way.

Sometimes thankfulness comes when you least expect it…and in a time when you most need it.

give thanks printable

Printable by Positively Splendid

Get this lovely and FREE printable here.

I am also thankful that I could go back to bed this morning for an hour…for little pink allergy pills that finally took my screaming headache away…the ability to shop at a grocery store (I went to 3 different stores today! *Insert eye-roll here*)…and that my old mini van took me there.

>>> A month long giving thanks fest brought to you by the Joy Dare. What are you thankful for? Studies show that people who write 3 things they are thankful for every day are 25% happier.. >>> Giving thanks quote prints now in the shop. Prints are as low as $6.60 and greeting cards are as low as $2 each.

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Giving Thanks Intentionally.

About four years ago we started a November tradition of giving thanks intentionally. To make it more fun for the girls, I try to come up with a different way to display our thankful list.

The first year we made a turkey “stuffed” with blessings. Year two was a thankful tree. Year three was a thanksgiving basket.

This year I was stumped, that is, until I clicked over to a blog I hadn’t read in a long time: A Little Grace and Mercy.

Apparently, her family has the same tradition of giving thanks. So, this is our Gratitude Web. The photos are mine, the idea is all A Little Grace and Mercy.

thanksgiving craft

Displayed on our dining room wall

thanksgiving craft

Lots of gratitude

thanksgiving craft

One of my favorites so far…

thanksgiving craft

Fun fabric bunting I sewed

We will be adding to the thankful web throughout November. It’s a month of gratitude…intentionally.

>>> Scientific research shows that giving thanks for just 3 things a day makes you 25% happier. A month long giving thanks fest brought to you by the Joy Dare. What are you thankful for? Write it down…and get happier.

Categories: Faith, Holidays, Joy, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A month of giving thanks

thanksgiving quote

Scientific research shows that giving thanks for just 3 things a day makes you 25% happier.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s the calm before the rushed craziness of December. It’s a time of family and friends. It’s a time to openly give thanks for all we have…even if you are struggling financially, have health issues, emotional problems, whatever, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. And, November is the perfect month to celebrate that.

November 1 : 3 gifts eaten

  1. Larmar’s chocolate donuts
  2. coffee
  3. breakfast for dinner

November 2: 3 gifts worn

  1. winter coat
  2. Halloween costumes
  3. gloves on Halloween night

November 3: 3 gifts that start with N

  1. sewing pal Neighbor
  2. Nighttime
  3. November

November 4: a gift gathered, given, good

  1. food bank donation (1. Gathered–food; 2. Given–money; 3. Good–good food, not stuff in the back of my cupboard that I won’t ever eat.)

>>> A month long giving thanks fest brought to you by the Joy Dare. What are you thankful for? Write it down…and get happier. >>> Giving thanks quote prints now in the shop. Prints are as low as $6.60 and greeting cards are as low as $2 each.

Categories: Faith, Joy, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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