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I woke up this morning with this idea scrolling through my brain. ¬†It was one of those ideas that wouldn’t go away, and I felt my Daddy saying, “Yup, this is me, wake up Sunshine and get busy!” Yes, He calls me Sunshine sometimes. ūüėČ ¬†It’s an assignment for my kids and I have invited my man into it if he so chooses. ¬†We often do this assignment as a family discussion, but lately the oldest of our kids is out and about, which limits full family discussions. ¬†She’s not home this morning as she spent the night with friends after their high school program at church last night. ¬†This is one of the very fun benefits of home schooling. ¬†She takes advantage of it as much as possible. ūüôā ¬†Thankfully this internet/email technology affords me the ability to send assignments even when she’s gone. ¬†I truly intended this only for my family’s benefit, but then another whisper came. ¬†It would also be fun to invite you all into this assignment. ¬†So, if you feel led, please jot down your list for this day and share with us. ¬†This blogging world has definitely made my list. ¬†I feel like God has introduced me to new friends and sisters and brothers. ¬†He knows just how to connect His kids and when. ¬†Thanks Daddy! ¬†So, I’m just going to paste into this post my original email to my precious Loves. ¬†I am looking forward to reading some of your lists. ¬†Hugs Precious Ones!!

I woke up thinking about this and it wouldn’t go away. Thus, I’m doing it. Cannot promise or threaten, however you all want to see this, that this will happen every day. But for today, here it is! I want you to email me (you do not have to reply to all unless you want all to read it) or both Dad and myself your response. Today is a list. Just a list. You certainly may include explanation with any list item in which you feel led. Personally, I will be adding my list to my eucharisteo journal. I want your list to be as long as possible. When you run out of things, ask God to reveal more. I’m not going to give you a limit or a minimum number of things, just write from your heart and what God reminds you of. Ok, no, it cannot be too short. If it is, I’ll respond back to you asking for more. ūüôā

Today what are you truly thankful for?

I woke up this morning hearing Dad and Garrett getting ready to go to Trader Joe’s and to a warm puppy curled up beside me…my heart immediately began to thank God for:
Daddy and the man he is to me and all of you
a warm puppy who curls up between my knees every day
a promise of eternal life because of Jesus
3 amazing kids that I get to school either home or via email ūüėČ
an upcoming Jamaica trip that brings me to prayer and kind of tears every day
a home to clean and decorate and heal and live in
beautiful trees that surround our home
a season to look forward to gardening and beautiful flowers coming soon
dark mornings so I appreciate the bright ones even more
hand drawn cards
a beautiful girl bent over paper sketching, always sketching something
a beautiful girl standing at keyboard studying and figuring out the notes, singing, always singing and leading me into worship
a beautiful girl singing along quietly with sister adding to my worship
a strong and handsome boy who shows his mumsy affection and kindness and strength every day
my two men hanging out and just doing life together; like yard work or grocery shopping
the humming and silly songs of my man child
the sound of the coffee grinder and aroma of fresh coffee
the sizzling of eggs on an iron skillet
mornings, for His mercies are truly new every morning…all fears from the previous night are gone and He is loving us and preparing us and our future that always is with HIM!
a Sissy that makes us smile and laugh who loves us so
Ben who has come back to Jesus and loves His truth, he’s come back to all of us
the hope that the others will as well…
a big family with lots of littles to knit for and love on!
OakPointe Church and the truth it speaks/Bob, Mark, Chelsie, Rick, Christi, Celeste & Sarah
read alouds with my youngest 2, (I miss you being here for these, Riley Quin)

precious friends that I know are praying for me and are always there

I think I could keep going, but that whole coffee line is distracting me. I love you all to the moon and back and then some. You are each a gift to me every single day. You are my immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine! Thank you Loves. Thank you!

Big hugs & so sweet kisses,
Momma/Lori Jean

It’s 10:10 a.m. where I live. ¬†I’m curious to see if I hear from my kids first or from some of you. ¬†ūüôā

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.

IMG_7705I¬†woke up this morning to a less than bright room. ¬†I figured it was a cloudy day and realized I did actually have to get up and start this day. ¬†I have a most magnificent picture window in the front room of our house which I call our library. ¬†It’s technically the living room of our home, but it is full of books and our piano and there’s no bothersome television and it has a great window with wooden panes that create 9 boxes in which I get to look out over the front garden. ¬†As I came out of the hallway I could see the beautiful snow falling freshly over the garden and piles of old snow. ¬†My heart automatically began to praise our God who created this thing called snow. ¬†Living in Michigan and being on FaceBook, one gets to read all sorts of complaints and various post about our weather. ¬†I’m always surprised at the number of people who are shocked that we have a winter and snow. ¬†These are not people who are new to Michigan. ¬†I’m not trying to be cranky, but it is this time of year that I am truly weary of said complaints. ¬†And it’s not just FaceBook, although that certainly allows for exposure to more complaints. ¬†Any social interaction one has generally ends up in some discussion of our weather. ¬†Perhaps this happens in other states, I do not know as I have only ever lived in Michigan. ¬†I really do love the diversity of our seasons, I am well aware that I am in the minority this day in my delight over this March snow. ¬†As I was scrolling through FaceBook, a certain post caught my heart and I was prompted to write this. ¬†It was not meant in any way other than humor, because I know the heart of this dear one who posted it. ¬†She referred to Mother Nature and it was lighthearted and even funny. ¬†But the Holy One quickly brought to mind the verse posted in the picture above. ¬†This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ¬†Psalm 118:24 ¬†And as I read through other politically charged world events, my heart kept rejoicing in the fact that our God is in charge completely, He chooses ultimately what will happen each day in our lives right down to the weather. ¬†Yeah, I know that weather can be bad, really bad, but I know that I don’t and cannot understand all the ways of God. ¬†But I know that our days are not left up to Mother Nature or whatever the government is attempting to do to take more of our freedoms or grant more freedom, depending on who you are listening to. ¬†I rest in the fact that He does what He does regardless of the season that the calendar dictates. ¬†If He chooses to shower us with lovely snow kisses the third day of March, I’ll take it. ¬†I’ll take whatever He brings because I know who I believe and know that He is able to complete what He has started in my life and the lives of all the people who are in this world in this time period in which He has placed us. ¬†I know that if God is for us, NOTHING can stand against us. ¬†We don’t have to be swept away in the complaints of this world or the fear that is so easily spread through social media or conversations. ¬†We can be still and know that He is God, He will be exalted in the nations and in the world and He will fight for us and never leave us. ¬†We truly can FEAR NOT because He goes before us, surrounds us, and has our backs all at the same time. ¬†That’s our God, our Father, our Savior, our Holy Guide. ¬†Those of you who have accepted His salvation, this is your reality. ¬†Those who have not, please ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way, talk out your doubts or concerns or whatever is holding you back from truly trusting or believing in Him. ¬†He doesn’t dislike our doubts, He came to us to obliterate our doubts and fears. ¬†Believe Him. ¬†He will not let you down. ¬†Oh how He loves us.

YOU unravel me, LORD GOD!! These are the words of the song that spoke to my heart all day yesterday. ¬†I’m no longer a slave to fear. ¬†I am a child of God. ¬†(No Longer Slaves written by Jonathan Helser, Joel Case, & Brian Johnson/2014 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP)). ¬†I encourage you to go to YouTube and watch the video. ¬†It’s just WOW!

And I encourage you to just dance with our God this day.  Ask Him to open your eyes to all He has for you this day.  Enjoy Him, because He is crazy in love with you and rejoices over you with singing and quiets you with His LOVE.

IMG_7654ONE ¬†There is nothing like being engulfed in my farmer’s arms. ¬†I stood in the kitchen swallowed in his embrace. ¬†I could have stayed there all day. ¬†Plus, he has the greatest beard and he’s all warm and fuzzy. ¬†Oh, I love that man!!

TWO  I had the privilege of making breakfast for my fabulous man-child.  Today is Garrett Day.  11 years ago today, I held my boy for the first time.  He was 12 weeks old.  It is an absolute blast being his mom.  He is fun and creative and thoughtful and funny and intelligent and precious and amazing and adorable.  And he loves to eat.  He thinks about food all the time and he loves planning his Garrett Day meals and his birthday meals.  We went out for dinner last night and this morning he wanted a chocolate chip pancake bacon & egg sandwich.  IMG_7649Yum!

THREE ¬†Strolling through my Facebook wall, I came across Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts post. ¬†This quote was my third gift, “Nothing can overwhelm us today, this week, like God’s GRACE can OVERTAKE us.” ¬†To be honest I am a bit overwhelmed with a situation in my life right now, and He knew I needed this reminder. ¬†I’m hanging on to His GRACE. ¬†All is Grace!

IMG_4668These three items are gifts from a precious friend that has been in my life for over 20 years. ¬†I cannot even imagine my life without her and I am so thankful that we get to do this life together as well as worship our Lord together forever! ¬†Her friendship and love for me is a gift that I treasure everyday. ¬†Her laughter and smile and insight enrich my life. ¬†She has taught me so very much over the years. ¬†She has taught me that it’s good to say “no” when your schedule or life really doesn’t permit a “yes”. ¬†She has taught me the necessity of rest and personal retreat. ¬†And she has walked along side me pursuing God’s truth for many years, and I adore her. ¬†She has prayed over me and with me, cried healing tears with me, and laughed with me more times than we can count. ¬†These gifts of tin, glass, and wood are just three of the fun things that Angie has given me over the years. ¬†The gift of tin is a star ornament with a plaque that says “believe” stamped onto it. This adorns my tree each year along with a few other ornaments she has given me. ¬†The gift of glass is the beautiful jar which holds various items throughout the year. ¬†And the gift of wood is a carved heart that rests in different nooks and crannies around my home. ¬†Every time I see these beautiful gifts, I smile knowing that Abba has given us a most beautiful gift in our friendship that is securely bound by His amazing love for us. ¬†Thank You, Abba, for my beautiful Angie.

IMG_4665  a friend loves at all times  Proverbs 17:17IMG_2306

IMG_7334I really love this picture. ¬†I know I used it not long ago in another post, but I¬†don’t care, I want to use it again. ¬†My man-child took this picture with his phone and an after market lens he got for Christmas. ¬†It’s amazing and captures this snowflake beautifully. ¬†It thrills me to see him explore his love for photography and nature. ¬†He’s my nature kid and shares my love of the individual & unique characteristics that cause one to pause and see God’s handiwork in the details. ¬†When I saw today’s prompt, my first thought was snow. ¬†I’ve written about snow before and all it symbolizes to me personally, and I know it truly is a gift to me throughout the year. ¬†Living in southeast Michigan, it’s not always a given that we will get snow. ¬†And I even get kind of inwardly crabby and whiney when we don’t have it for Christmas. ¬†I even like it as early as Thanksgiving. ¬†My enthusiasm for it is not super popular with my fellow Michiganders who complain about it. ¬†But I’m ok with that. ¬†I even bought a picture to frame from Mackinac Island in July of a snow-covered branch and I leave it up all year. ¬†I know, there is no end to my rebellion. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Snow is beautiful, and glistens, and blankets IMG_7635the new life that awaits spring.

Lucy is my next gift of white. ¬†She is 5 lbs of chihuahua sweetness (most of the time) and love and devotion and cuteness and she adores me and tolerates being dressed! ¬†She tolerates it because she is freezing all but one month out of the year. ¬†She does not share my fondness for snow, but will do her best to get to the squirrels despite it. ¬†It’s a quick chase, then back to the couch and blankets! ¬†IMG_7484Lucy is truly a gift from our Abba. ¬†The story of how she came into our family is remarkable and I’m guessing it will make it to a blog post at some point. ¬†But for today, I will give you the very quick version. ¬† Our lab of 13 years died on a Wednesday, on Monday we asked God to give us new life in the form of a puppy if it was His will, on Tuesday the finances were gifted to us, and Wednesday evening Lucy came home. ¬†She is such a delight, and I adore her. ¬†Lucy does sleep in our bed, so she’s on me or near me always. ¬†When we get up in the morning, it doesn’t take long for her to want to be in my lap. ¬†Yes, sometimes I even eat with her on my lap. ¬†I know, not a good habit. ¬†Then it is shortly after I’m up and about that she is trying to get me to sit down so she can curl up next to me. ¬†She never tires of being near me or on me, literally. ¬†I feel like God is saying to me, “That’s how I want you to approach time with me. ¬†You can never be too close or have too much time with me. ¬†I want to be with you, near you, involved in everything all the time.” ¬†I have been told that I spiritualize too many things, but so what. ¬†I do believe that God uses everything to teach us and draw us closer to Him. ¬†And He has certainly given all of us this precious Lucy as a gift.IMG_7331¬†IMG_3269

My third gift of white are The Whites. ¬†The Whites are a family that we met in 2012. ¬†We are involved through our children’s schooling as well as attend the same life group. ¬†Life group is a group of people that we meet with on a regular basis and do life together. ¬†We share the ups and downs of life, prayer requests, and sometimes do Bible studies together. ¬†I have learned much through this lovely family and appreciate their hearts for Jesus and His truth. ¬†I know I can count on Cheryl to always speak truth and point me to God and His word. ¬†I can count on her to give truth regardless if it’s what I want to hear or not. ¬†I can count on her to pray for God’s will over every request regardless if it’s what will make us happy or not. ¬†She knows that a closer walk with God is far more important than feelings of comfort or happiness. ¬†It’s been a gift to watch her kids grow and to pray for them and to know that they are praying for us. ¬†I’m quite thankful for these Whites!

I was having difficulty with today’s prompt until my farmer sent me his list. ¬†He sends me his because he very much dislikes writing on the chalkboard…sometimes I make him do it just for fun. ¬†I’m going to share his because I’m taking them for my own too in addition to a couple more.

1. renting our house

2.  office location

3.  bankruptcy

None of these ever would have been our first choices, especially that last one. ¬†Not fun, but God’s mercy spoke volumes through the experience. ¬†All of these shifted my own thinking as I was sort of stumped with the whole plan B idea. ¬†Once I saw the wisdom of my farmer man, I knew what I would choose as the greatest plan B gift I have ever, ever received. ¬†And in no way am I demeaning these gifts by calling them plan B’s.

IMG_7354¬† ¬† ¬†IMG_7386I have previously shared my hard eucharisteos which left our story with a 20 month old Riley Quin, 3 precious babes in Heaven, and fallopian tubes that had been destroyed. ¬†If you have read any of my previous blogs, you know we have three amazing kids, which leaves two stories still untold. ¬†Yup, these are two of my plan B’s! ¬†From the time I was a kid, I knew that I wanted to adopt kids who needed homes. ¬†Every Disney movie or Annie-type flick out there, convinced my heart that I would walk up to one of those orphanages some day and take them home. ¬†So, in a way this is a disclaimer because the term “Plan B” means it’s not my first choice. ¬†Thus, this gets jumbled in my head…I think way too much…I’ve been told. ¬†Moving on. ¬†Once I was married, I immediately wanted to get pregnant and start popping out those babies. ¬†My sister already had 2, I was falling behind! ¬†As the years went by and I was not getting pregnant, I told my husband that we needed to get moving on the adoption stuff. ¬†He was quite irritating because his response was always, God will work this all out and tell us when it is time. ¬†He had the audacity to state that it was just not God’s timing yet. ¬†What did he know? ¬†He really bugged me. ¬†At one point, in a rather irritated tone, I asked him if he really thought God was just going to drop a baby on our doorstep. ¬†I knew how long it can take for an adoption to go through and I was getting older by the day. ¬†1999 roles around, and in February I am pregnant for Riley, pregnant again in 2000 and again in 2001. ¬†Just prior to finding out I was pregnant for the third time, like literally the day before, I was in a Beth Moore Bible Study. ¬†It was one of her earlier studies in which she was talking about their decision to adopt their son. ¬†Now I had already taken more ¬†recent studies of hers, so I knew that they no longer had this boy in their home and knew of her heart ache. ¬†The entire time I was listening to her story I already knew the outcome and I felt as if God were asking me, “Do you trust me with this? It’s time to start looking into adoption seriously.” ¬†It was so loud and strong within my heart that I called Parker from the parking lot and told him that God was telling me it was time to start this process. ¬†His response was, “Okay, we’ll do it.” ¬†Then I knew this was in fact God prompting us. ¬†Well, the next day, the doctor office calls with a positive pregnancy test and told me the hormone levels were crazy high. ¬†My sister had twins a few years before, so I immediately called her. ¬†Ok God, I guess this means we put the adoption stuff on the shelf for a few months and see what happens next. ¬†Well, within the next few weeks, we grieve the loss of our twins and I recover from surgery. ¬†Immediately my mind goes right back to adopting, I guess this is where we call it Plan B? ¬†Well intentioned friends told me that adopting would not replace the three we lost. ¬†They said that I needed to grieve and give myself time. ¬†But we both knew that this had nothing to do with replacing anybody…not even possible. ¬†And if I waited until I was done grieving, well, it’s never done. ¬†So we made phone calls and had meetings and got lots and lots of paperwork. ¬†Financially we hit a big roadblock and felt we needed to just wait some more. ¬†By now we are into the summer of 2002 and still waiting. ¬†I had gotten news about a possible birth mother on the way to a meeting. ¬†It was a planning meeting with a friend who was the pastor of a ministry in which we were involved. ¬†Excited, I told him of the possibility and asked him to pray. ¬†His response was, “Oh, I didn’t know you two wanted to adopt.” ¬†Nothing came to fruition with this first birth mother, but very late on July 2, 2002, this pastor called us and said his mom just talked to her good friend whose nephew’s girlfriend is pregnant. ¬†They were considering adoption and wanted a Christian home that would consider an open adoption. ¬†They think she is about 9 months along. ¬†Here’s the number of the birth father’s aunt. ¬†Any guesses who that baby girl might be??? ¬†Grace Trinity Arin Joy was born July 31 at 4:40 p.m., we saw her for the first time in August, and officially took custody of her September 4, 2002. ¬†So, no, God did not place her on our doorstep, but He did just call us. ¬†I’m really glad my farmer is so very wise.

Part two to Plan B began with a birthday card for sweet Gracey in July of 2003. ¬†Her birth mother let me know that although it was not intended, she was pregnant again. ¬†I had no idea how all of this would play out, but I knew that God’s will would be done regardless of where the four of us would fit into it. ¬†Ethan was born November 29, 2003. ¬†We took custody of him February 24, 2004. ¬†Ethan Garrett Lewis was home.

I want to note here that we do have an open adoption and have contact with their birth family.  They are full siblings and we have had the privilege to get to know some of the family members and I adore them.  God united us not only with two precious ones to raise but united our hearts with other people who love them dearly.

The Holy One gave us specific verses for each of them as we walked through this process, but the verse He brought to mind as I write on this Plan B prompt is a favorite of mine.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

You see, our Plan B’s are not Plan B’s. ¬†If it’s happening, it’s His plan! ¬†And His plans are to not harm you but to give you hope and a future. ¬†That is why my farmer listed us renting instead of owning our home, an office location change that he never would have chosen but has been such a blessing, and going through bankruptcy. ¬†These things were not on the Five Year plan, but I assure you we would not go back for anything. ¬†The way in which we ended up adopting our loves was not how we planned it, but there isn’t one factor of our story that I would ever change, ever. ¬†And through all of it, He has taught us, proven to us even (which He so does not have to do), that He is totally on the Throne, in charge, and amazingly Good!

“BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD; I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE NATIONS, I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH.” ¬†The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. ¬†Psalms 46:10-11

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably  more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Yup, I threw in the verses He gave us as we journeyed through each adoption. ¬†I did so because I realized how much He encouraged us with these same truths as we journeyed through my farmer’s plan B’s. ¬†Rest and trust Him, dear ones. ¬†Count the eucharisteo, for “eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.” Ann Voskamp

IMG_7627ONE

My Christmas journal from Grace Trinity Arin Joy is one of my most precious possessions.  This child of mine is just scrumptious.  I adore her.  This past Christmas she had the idea to buy blank journals and then draw and write on the cover for her older sister, Riley.  She found a three pack so she made one for me and my sister, affectionately known as Sissy.  I cried when I saw what she drew and wrote on the inside cover.  I specifically use this journal as my doodling journal.  Doodling is a hobby that Grace and I have in common.  She is fabulous and teaches me lots.  IMG_7628

TWO

Valentines!!! ¬†Generally, as a family we make all our cards. ¬†So when Valentine’s Day rolls around, the card making begins. ¬†The Pinterest boards are brought up on the phones and the ideas flow onto blank cards. ¬†In all fairness to my man-child, he does not pull anything up on Pinterest but does all of his own designs. ¬†It’s really me and Grace. ¬†Riley made the family heart-shaped pancakes instead¬†of cards. ¬†And I let the farmer in on my cards for the kids. ¬†He commissioned Grace to draw one for me ūüôā¬†IMG_7547Nothing like home-made Valentine’s Day cards & almond pancakes to express our love for each other.IMG_7559

THREE

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this book first when I was in ninth grade. ¬†Mr. Stock was my English teacher that totally made me fall in love with this book. ¬†I still remember his enthusiasm, and I soaked in this book. ¬†Fast forward quite a few years and my oldest is in 8th grade and this treasure shows up on her reading list. ¬†I read it again and could not put it down. ¬†It was so fun to read it along with my baby girl. ¬†And my farmer read it for the first time ever. ¬†It’s just such a fabulous literary work. ¬†Needless to say I am thrilled that Harper Lee has released the manuscript that was written prior to To Kill A Mockingbird. ¬†Earlier today I was reading another blog entitled How Harper Lee Saved Me by Exile on Pain Street. ¬†I encourage you to read it, it’s a great story.

IMG_7618For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” ¬†Mark 10:45

ONE

I have an aunt who is now in Heaven after a battle with cancer. ¬†We lived about two hours away¬†from my aunt and her family and saw them usually once or twice a year. ¬†But she had a huge impact on my life. ¬†I love her and miss her and look forward to spending eternity with her. ¬†I had the privilege of spending time with her in the last days that she was here on earth. ¬†My cousins invited my sister and my husband and me to come and see her and accepted our offer to be of any help that we could. ¬†We took the night shift so they could sleep. ¬†It was very difficult to see her in this state. ¬†She was a powerful and strong woman, the one who always gave and gave and gave and did. ¬†She took care of everybody. ¬†I had never seen her in a position to need anything. ¬†Now she needed everything and God had placed me right in the thick of it. ¬†It was hard. ¬†Physically it was hard, but more so emotionally heart breaking to see someone in pain and needing everything. ¬†I was truly happy to be there to give back to this amazing woman who loved us all so richly. ¬†I talked to her and prayed over her and I had the awesome privilege to read to her from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. ¬†It was November 23 just before 9:00 a.m. ¬†I read the devotional page then the scriptures listed. ¬†I looked up and out the window and the snow was just coming down in huge flakes. ¬†He beckoned me to come outside and be with Him. ¬†I knew Aunt Shirley wouldn’t mind. ¬†She was finally resting. ¬†I ran outside and flung open my arms and embraced His snow kisses and wept and worshiped. ¬†He gave me the gift of reading His word to her within hours of her seeing His face. ¬†One of the passages for that day was Psalm 4:7-8. ¬†“You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. ¬†I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” ¬†This verse had significant meaning to me and for Him to give us that verse that day then call me out to be embraced in His snow were precious gifts. ¬†Thank You, Lord God, for my precious Aunt Shirley and for that time with her.

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TWO

We moved into this house in the spring of 2010. ¬†Shortly after being here I told my husband that I wanted to have a Christmas party with our friends. ¬†We do not have a huge house by any means but the layout is such that is a great party house. ¬†I could just picture it, it would be lovely! ¬†We wanted to bless others and celebrate our Jesus with this amazing home in which He had placed us. ¬†That was the first year of the annual Christmas party. ¬†We cut down our tree the Friday after Thanksgiving and the decorating begins. ¬†The evites are chosen and sent and lists are made. ¬†It really is a ton of fun. ¬†It’s a ton of work as well, we make several different dishes and desserts and stack piles of dishes to be used for the event. ¬†We serve chicken and dumplings, vegetable beef soup, cabbage soup, sometimes chili, enchiladas, home-made mac-n-cheese, along with appetizers and desserts of all sorts. ¬†I just could not imagine serving my chicken and dumplings in paper bowls. ¬†I had to use real ones and real spoons. ¬†People thought me daft given the number of people invited to said event. ¬†The first year, we borrowed some stuff, but have collected various sets of dishes here and there. ¬†Nonetheless, it still requires that some dishes get washed throughout the party. ¬†I really had no idea how this would all work out that first year, and you must be thinking, “Who really cares!?”. ¬†It is relevant, I promise. ¬†I really am very good at winging it and dealing with things as they come, so that’s how we approached it. ¬†It was only moments in to the first party when one of our friends expressed how excited he was to be using real utensils and dishes. ¬†I was thrilled. ¬†Now I must explain that we had invited over 100 people to this event, and it was a chance to bring together people we have known for years and some we had just met like our new neighbors. ¬†I think that first year between 60-70 people attended. ¬†Needless to say, the kitchen was a very busy place. ¬†Dishes had to be stacked and put in the dishwasher, forks needed to be washed by hand for the dessert round, hot pans of enchiladas had to be delivered to the table, it was a whirlwind of work and great fun. ¬†Cuz, you know what happens? ¬†Some people love to serve and feel most comfortable with a dishtowel in their hand. ¬†People met people at my sink and talked with old friends. ¬†Others collected plates from various parts of the house and brought them to the kitchen. ¬†People served and celebrated at the same time. ¬†It was sheer craziness, and they loved it! I loved it. ¬†I never sat down, and it was great! ¬†So great, in fact, that we have had such craziness every year since. ¬†And the friend that commented that first year about the real bowls and spoons is the first to get his hands in the dishwater, because he really wants me to keep using real dishes. ¬†It makes my heart happy. ¬†People connect and look forward to celebrating with each other. ¬†That is a precious gift. ¬†Happy Birthday Jesus!

THREE

This one is short, I promise. ¬†Cooking for my family provides gifts everyday. ¬†They are nourished. ¬†They are learning how to cook and eat real food from scratch. ¬†Each of them can cook at this point, so we often do it together. ¬†And my favorite gift is when they actually really like what I have cooked. ūüôā Thank You, Abba, for sweet and savory gifts.

It seems as though I have fallen quite behind in my counting. ¬†Truth be told it’s been a challenging four days. ¬†So here I am with a list of 12…better late than never. ūüôā

3 Gifts Behind a Door

1. & 2. ¬†Outside is behind two of our doors in our home. ¬†One leads to our backyard, and one to our front. ¬†I love both of these spaces equally. ¬†Our backyard is a beautiful sanctuary now covered with snow and ice and is a feeding area for a plethora of birds and squirrels. ¬†The chubby squirrels look at me through the window when they can find no more sunflower seeds or apple cores. ¬†They make me smile. ¬†They remind me of how God continually provides for me. ¬†I love my backyard animals. ¬†IMG_7516And my front door leads to our front garden. ¬†We inherited a beautiful flower garden from the previous owner and then incorporated a small vegetable garden within it a few years ago. ¬†And of course, there are a few bird feeders tucked in here and there. ¬†Year round I see God’s life all around me. ¬†IMG_2941

3.  Solitude.  Quiet moments in which I can just sit silently and hear and see His love for me.

3 Ways You Feel the Love of God

1.  I think it is obvious at this point that I feel His love through His creation every day.  I cannot get enough of it.  My heart soars when I see tiny toes of infants, shining eyes of children, wrinkled smiling eyes of the aging, the bright red of the cardinals, or the variations in all the sparrows.  And how do I even begin to describe the textures and shapes of all the leaves of the trees and flowers?  And the sunrises & sunsets?  The brilliance of the moon!  And I love rocks of all sorts and sizes.  I really could just keep going. IMG_7588

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2.  My farmer.  His voice.  His smile.  His touch.  His warmth.  His heart.  His unconditional and continual love.  His covering of prayer over me always.  His creativity.  His intentional acts of service.  His absolute love of Jesus.IMG_7399

3. ¬†God’s Word. ¬†It is a constant that I absolutely cannot live without. ¬†Through it, He instructs, warns, admonishes, and sings over me. ¬†He tells me who I am and who He IS! ¬†It is my life line and He has given it to me in written word but has taught me how to hide it deep in my heart. ¬†Oh, Abba, my heart must sing out to you in praise! ¬†Thank YOU!

A Gift in Losing, Finding, Making Something

I count as a gift losing fear. ¬†I believe Him. ¬†He tells me not to fear because He is with me, that He will fight for me. ¬†He has gone before me and comes behind me and encompasses me with His power and protection and wisdom. ¬†He tells me that nothing is impossible with Him. ¬†He asks me, “If I am for you, who can stand against you?” He tells me that He can do immeasurably more than all I could ever ask or imagine. ¬†He tells me that I am His. ¬†I believe Him. ¬†And when I can’t, I call out His Name and He helps me believe Him. ¬†And I believe Him…again.

Finding peace is the next gift I count. ¬†See above paragraph. ¬†A verse I often recite while falling asleep is Psalm 4:8. “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”¬†In losing fear, I find absolute peace.

A gift I count in making something is the ability to knit. ¬†I have been knitting since 2007, and it has been a fun gift. ¬†I enjoy teaching others to knit and making all sorts of gifts for friends and family. ¬†Rarely a day goes by when I don’t knit something.

3 Gifts in Shadows

In order for a shadow to exist, light must be present.

1. ¬†The Light of the World…our Jesus

2.  Lamplight and electricity

3.  Candlelight.  I love the dancing shadows that a flickering candle creates.

So much to thank Him for each day.

This is a hard post to write. ¬†I have known of the verses in God’s word that tells us to give thanks in everything. ¬†We all know that it means to be thankful regardless of what happens. ¬†This is much easier to recite, much harder to practice when the time comes to count the hard eucharisteo. ¬†I had hard things growing up. ¬†Parents divorced when I was 4, Mom married a rather controlling man when I was 6, living between two completely different households and trying to figure out where I actually belonged; none were fun but I just took each day as it came. ¬†I didn’t think much about whether I should be thankful or not. ¬†At times I saw bright spots or positive aspects, but I don’t think I really thought about thanking God for my situation. ¬†I did ask God lots of questions though. ¬†And He always made it known that He was there. ¬†I hung on to Him and knew I wanted Him. ¬†I left home rather quickly to go away to school right after I graduated, and was married at 23 to my farmer, Parker. ¬†It would be 6 years before God would give us our first daughter, Riley Quin. ¬†We had tried for almost that entire time to get pregnant, but I did not have peace until 6 months prior to becoming pregnant. ¬†I fought God and Parker the entire time sure they both were against me. ¬†Parker kept asking for God’s will, not for a baby. ¬†I was just kind of mad. ¬†I didn’t thank Him for not creating a baby with us, but I finally released it to Him. ¬†Six months later, I held my first positive pregnancy test in my hand. ¬†It truly was a wonderful pregnancy, without issue, and Riley Quin was in our arms safe and sound. ¬†My fertility issues seemed to be gone. ¬†When Riley was 10 months old, I went to the ER in much pain due to an ovarian cyst that had ruptured. ¬†While there, it was discovered that I was 5 weeks pregnant. ¬†Within the next hours we found out that the baby had already died in my right tube. ¬†Within the week, the tube basically ruptured and it was lost as well. ¬†Ten months later I heard from my doctor that I was pregnant again. ¬†We didn’t have time to celebrate our second child, we were so excited about this baby and the 7 week ultrasound was set up. ¬†I was at risk for another tubule¬†pregnancy, so this ultrasound was necessary. ¬†Parker couldn’t be with me, so I took my 20 month old Riley with me and went praying for a heartbeat in the right place. ¬†The ultrasound tech took Riley out of the room as the doctor told me that this pregnancy wasn’t going to work out. ¬†There was no heartbeat and he recommended a D & C. ¬†As I had no signs of miscarriage I refused the procedure and said I would wait to see what happened. ¬†I returned home with my Riley, devastated. ¬†I walked into her room, the room in which she was supposed to share with her sibling. ¬†I cried out to God with arms up to help me praise Him. ¬†It was Wednesday and our church had a midweek service. ¬†It was not an option to not go. ¬†Both of us needed to be in church. ¬†We cried as we worshiped. ¬†We cried as we prayed with our pastors and friends. ¬†We cried and we worshiped and lived the hard eucharisteo. ¬†Within the week, I was back in the hospital in immense pain, but still the ultrasound showed no heartbeat anywhere. ¬†The pain eased, they were releasing me. ¬†In the hallway, I was caught by somebody and told that another doctor had ordered a higher sonogram. ¬†Apparently, the ultrasound tech in the office the week prior noted to the doctor that she was measuring a heartbeat in my left tube. ¬†He ignored her. ¬†My regular doctor was unavailable and this one was a specialist in reading early ultrasounds and refused to listen to the tech. ¬†Thankfully God had another doctor from the office check my chart and he ordered the higher sonogram. ¬†Immediately there were many doctors surrounding me when they found a baby in my left tube. ¬†The tube had already ruptured and I was bleeding out. ¬†They were buzzing about the rare condition of having twins with one in the uterus and one in a tube. ¬†All I heard was that two more babies were gone and one’s heart was still beating. ¬†And they were yelling that if I didn’t consent to surgery immediately I would die. ¬†Again, I cried out to God that He had to do this hard thing, I could not choose. ¬†The doctor knew my concern over the baby’s heart beating in that lethal tube and assured my husband that I had already lost so much blood that by the time he got to my tube, the baby’s heartbeat would have stopped. ¬†God did the hard thing. ¬†I thanked Him again. ¬†He didn’t have to tell me that. ¬†May I tell you how very tender our God is when He cries along with us when He chooses to do hard things? ¬†He assured me that He was the One who chose to create three souls and that He chose to take them home at His appointed time. ¬†He assured me that my kids were very much alive with Him and I would know them some day. ¬†They were not lost to me but waiting for me while worshiping our Lord Jesus. ¬†They would never know sin or pain, only Him. ¬†So, I thanked Him¬†for His amazing gifts of giving me three more children, then taking them home. ¬†These precious ones are my hard eucharisteo. ¬†Thank You, Sweet Abba. ¬†Please tell them I do miss them and look forward to looking into their precious faces some sweet day. ¬†I love You and praise You!

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