Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful November 2012

Every year from November 1 until Thanksgiving, Facebook is flooded with daily "what I'm thankful for" posts.  I mentioned in this "Choosing Joy" post that during a particularly rough point in my life I had been advised to make a daily gratitude list so while I love the idea of Thankful November, I really like to have all of my posts where I can find them.  On those days where nothing seems to go your way, it helps to read back over all of your blessings.  And sometimes I like to re-read it for the big fat puffy heart love of doing it.  I'm cool like that.  So here goes...
November 1:  The first and foremost thing I am thankful for is a loving and merciful God.  I am not a "perfect Christian".  Honestly, left to my own devices, I fail more than I succeed.  I am not worthy of His grace and love and yet He extends it to me.  I am not worthy of salvation, but I have it through the blood of Jesus Christ.  How powerful is that?  I can't even fully put it into words. It just blows me away. 

November 2:  Today, I am thankful for my husband.  We were 19 years old when we got married.  Our oldest is almost 12 and I can't imagine him coming to us in 7 short years to tell us he was getting married.  Oh. my. word.  Some people gave us a year before we threw in the towel, but I'm proud to say we recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary!  I love him more now than I did then.  We've been through some incredibly rough times but we've come through better and stronger than when we went in to them.
Before we had kids, we made the decision that there should be a stay-at-home parent and he's always been willing to do whatever he had to do to provide for his family and support me in being their primary caregiver.  Years ago, my great-grandma gave me this advice "Marry someone you like to talk to."  And that is exactly what I did.  He's my best friend and I am so blessed to have him in my life. 
Us on our wedding day.  Check out those fresh faces!
November 3:  Today I am thankful for my first-born, Lil B.  He was born in the wee hours of a February Saturday morning after 36.5 hours of labor.  He was the most beautiful thing I'd ever laid eyes on...all 8-ish pounds of him.  I loved him so much before I'd ever met him but that moment I "got" unconditional love.  When he was one, his pediatrician said that something didn't sound right when she listened to his heart.  After referrals and testing he was diagnosed as having an atrial septal defect, which pretty much translates to having a hole between the upper chambers of his heart.  He had open heart surgery to close the hole a year later.  That experience and that little boy taught me more about being a parent in those few years than any book I could ever get my hands on.  He's grown into a funny, outgoing, smart little man with a big imagination and a big heart (figuratively--his heart is fine now) and I love him more than I could ever put into words.

November 4:  Today, I am thankful for my second born.  He was nearly 10 pounds of cute squished into a compact 19.5 inches.  He could hardly have been described as "svelte" which is ironic considering how long and lean he is now.  I'd always heard that a mother's love doesn't multiplies.  His birth was complete confirmation of that.  He's a daredevil.  He's creative and artistic.  He learns by doing which means he never sits still.  He's my heart and I love him to pieces.

November 5:  Today, I'm thankful for my my third born son.  My love multiplied once again when he was born.  I was not in the market, so to speak, for another baby when I found out I was pregnant with him.  I was in a rough patch in my life and in my marriage and I questioned God's timing.  Of course, God is always right on time and knew exactly what He was doing.  He's clumsy and overly dramatic, but he's also so smart and funny and one of the most loving children I've ever known.  He's the light of my life and I love him so!

November 6:  Today, I am thankful for my daughter.  Just when I thought my heart could not be any more full of love, she was born.  Pregnant in the southern summer was almost unbearable, but it was worth it when I looked in her sweet blue eyes.  She was so tiny compared to my boys and dainty.  She's only a year old now and just developing what I'm sure will be an interesting personality.  She's already so "girly" and prefers dresses to pants...and the more pink/sparkly/fluffy the better.  Having her is the cherry on top of an already pretty awesome sundae.  I love her to the moon and back.

I'm going to break here to share with you some photos we took at my niece's wedding back in July.  You can so clearly tell the kids personalities here!

Yes, really.  5 photos and not one is Christmas card presentable.  Sigh...

November 7: Today, I am thankful for my parents.  So many of my friends have already lost one or both so I'm especially thankful that I still have both.  I appreciate the lessons they taught me like, "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about" and "Don't do what I do, do what I say do."  Just kidding, even though I do recall those things being said.  Without question, I am the person I am today because of my wonderful parents.  So shout out to my Mom and Dad!  I love you guys!
My parents marveling at my newborn daughter--2011 (My dad doesn't take pictures so this is as current as it gets.)
November 8:  Today, I am thankful for my in-laws.  Yeah, I just said the in-laws.  I know a lot of people aren't particularly fond of theirs but I love mine.  So shout out to my father-in-law and mother-in-law--you guys rock!
My in-laws--GEAUX SAINTS!
November 9:  Today, I am thankful for my home.  My husband was laid off last year and without work for almost 6 months.  I never realized how much our home meant to me until we were in danger of losing it.  And it's not so much the brick and mortar house but the fact that we have a place we belong.  A place where our kids belong.  A place their kids will belong.  HOME.  It's not new, a little too small, and causes me to compile endless lists of projects but I wouldn't have it any other way!

November 10:  Today, I am thankful for my grandparents.  I was blessed to know some of my great-grandparents and one even had the chance to have a relationship with her great-great grandchild.  So many of my friends have already lost all of their grandparents.  My husband has no surviving grandparents either.  My relationships with mine become more precious to me as I get older and I thank God for the ones I still have.

November 11:  Today is Veterans Day and so today I am thankful for those who have chosen to serve this country.  God bless each and every one of you.  I am also thankful for military spouses.  You folks keep the home fires burning while your loved ones are away from you so thank you for all you do too!

November 12:  Today, I am thankful for my siblings.  You truly don't know what you have until it's gone and losing one of my siblings has made me realize how important my other sister and two brothers are to me.  And the memories I made with Danielle are all the more precious to me now.  This day is being amended to add this:  Last night I was watching NCIS (LOVE THAT SHOW!) and Ziva was telling Tony why it was so important for her to go to the opera and she said something to the effect of "The love of a sibling...I am glad to have known it."

November 13:  Today, I am thankful for my other siblings--the ones that I got when I married Barry.  He is #3 in a line of 4 boys and when all 4 boys are together things get strange, but it's an awesome kind of strange and I'm thankful that my husband has had that in his life.  I am also thankful for their wives who understand the insanity that comes with being married to one of those crazy guys! 

November 14:  Today, I am thankful for all of the kiddos all of these siblings have given me so far.  Auntie to a whole heap--14 kids in all.  Plus all of the kids who call me Aunt Jen.  Big families = lots of nieces and nephews.  And my brothers don't have kids yet!  No pressure though guys.  HA HA!

November 15:  Today, I am thankful for friends of all kinds.  The kind that call your parents Mom and Dad.  The kind that you can call at 2 AM and they'll come running.  The kind that call you at 2 AM and you go running.  The kind that lift you up when your down.  The kind that make you laugh until your sides hurt.  The kind that bring you dinner when you're sick or upset.  The kind that pray for you when they know you need it...and the ones that pray for you even when you don't ask.  The kind that you've only "met" in the virtual world but encourage you with their friendship.  Because you've supported me with your friendship and love through the good and the bad, I am thankful for you!

November 16:  Today, I am thankful for the friends and cousin who are more like siblings than anything else. 

November 17:  Today, I am thankful for all of my extended family--aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins, cousins (I've got lots of those), the friends who might as well be my family and the cousin who might as well be my brother.  I have been so blessed to have you in my life!

November 18:  I think I covered all of the people I love so today, I am thankful for football.  Yes, football.  Roll Tide!  Geaux Saints!  It's a break from reality and something that my husband and I enjoy watching together.  And both of my teams won this weekend!  WOOT!  And thanks to losses by K-State and Oregon, my Crimson Tide is sitting at #2 with Barry's Fighting Irish sitting at #1.

November 19:  Today, I am thankful for coffee.  It's Monday and I have four kids.  I don't think this requires further explanation.

November 20:  I was having trouble figuring out what to post today.  And then on the way home tonight, I was listening to my kids laughing and talking to each other and was reminded how blessed I am to be their mother. If God never sent another blessing my way, I would still be more blessed than I deserve to be.  So today I am thankful for reminders of God's blessings.

November 21:  Today, I am thankful for my health.  I need it to keep up with all these kids!

November 22:  Today, I am going to try to cram in all the little things I'm thankful for--stargazing, flowers (even though I don't have a green thumb), books, old cartoons, channels that aren't Nick or Disney, Diet Dr. Pepper, Clorox wipes, e-readers, living near a convenience store, homeschooling, my sewing machine, the walking trail, modern appliances, chocolate, wi-fi, 80s music...I could go on and on.  My life is pretty sweet and I'm thankful for all the little things that make it just a little sweeter!

Happy Thanksgiving peeps!  


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012

Believe it or not, this post is not about who was or was not elected.  It's about you.  And me.
First off, let me just say that I've heard some of the most rude things during this election time from both sides.  Facebook has been a cesspool of political feuding.  I don't mean a discussion of political beliefs and the merits or candidates either.  I mean full on verbal assaults.  Name calling.  Verbal abuse.  Threats.  It was really the most insane thing I've ever witnessed.  It's one thing to be passionate.  It's another thing to be a bully.

I had this verse so heavily on my heart yesterday and achingly so today.  "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14.  If you are a Christian in this country, regardless of who you voted for, I believe that God is calling his people into revival.  It's time for us to hit our knees and humble ourselves before our Creator.  Literally folks.  When is the last time you went to your knees, on your face, humbled before Him in sincere prayer and cried out to God?  If this election was the only time you've done it, then folks, we've got problems.  We've become a nation of entitlement.  We as Christians have turned our backs to God and stopped seeking His will and operating under our own agendas.  It's time for our churches--OUR CHRISTIANS--to hit our knees and pray for the Lord to send revival! 

"But Jen.  I'm not a Christian.  So this doesn't apply to me."  WRONG!  (And I'm praying for you, just so you know.)   Keep reading.  I'm on a roll this morning.

So here's the thing.  Obama is president for four more years.  That either thrills you or sickens you.  If people would take just half of the energy they put into their Facebook political posturing and used that to serve their community, it would start an avalanche of kindness.  The greatness of this country was built on the backs of the people, not on the backs of politicians.  So take your excitement or your fury and DO SOMETHING WITH IT!  No, that doesn't mean sitting around and grumbling and complaining because your guy didn't win.  It also doesn't mean resting on your laurels because your guy did win.  It means taking conscious positive steps toward improving your community.

My prayers are with President Obama.  I pray that he uses these four years in a way that is beneficial to its citizens.  I pray that he also seeks God's will for his life and this country.  I know who holds my future though.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him." ~ Psalm 28:7

Peace and love,