40 Things for Which to Be Grateful

While I’ve been doing this NaBloPoMo, it’s been interesting to see what I have to write about. I decided for the last day in November, I’d write forty things I was thankful for. So here they are. 

1. The roof over my head. A roof that is also known to be atop a hospitable place, known at least for good food and friendly faces, if not insurmountable messes.

2. The clothes on my back. I am always dressed in clothes without holes, appropriate for the weather, and typically at least a little bit stylish. I can be grateful for each of those things, and the incredible blessing that is all three.

3. My little big girl. At four and a half, EK challenges me every single day to be a better mama, have more patience, and pray about everything. I can see that my strong-willed daughter will be much like I was growing up, and I must prepare my heart for what is to come. But I am also immeasurably grateful for her heart, her energy, her intelligence, and her defiance, because they make her who she is. And who she is is wonderful.

4. My marvelous middle child. Even at not quite three, I can see J’s sweetness and gentle heart blessing others. While he certainly has his moments (I mentioned he was two, right?), he is generally thoughtful and kind. I don’t know how he does it, when the dominating females in his life have little patience (I mentioned EK and I are the same, right?) but he lives with us well. Just like his daddy.

5. My miraculous baby boy D. Spending a month not knowing whether you would live to see us or not was the scariest thing I have ever done, and I will be forever thankful for your healthy, joyous self. So full of smiles and giggles, you are the sunshine of our lives.

6. My kind and talented Hubby. He loves me unconditionally, and is a true saint in the way he treats me and puts up with my messy heart. He is patient with me when I am at my worst. He is an incredible father to our children, and I look up to him in every possible way.

7. The sheer number of good friends we have in our town. We have countless friends, new and old, that we love to hang out with, and that we could depend on in a time of need.

8. My church family. I really, really do consider myself blessed (#blessed, y’all) with a huge group of people who do life alongside me, who encourage me, teach me, push me, challenge me, and celebrate with me.

9. My women’s small group. These women are fun, insightful, encouraging, and genuine. We often have deep discussions, but we also enjoy hanging out together. Those are both so important, and I’m thankful for them and their discipleship alongside me.

10. My community group. These families are kind, funny, loving and helpful. We get together a couple of times a month, but I always find myself wishing we hung out more often.

11. The Bible. I know it sounds a little cliche for a Christian to say they’re thankful for the Bible, but I really am grateful for the comfort, encouragement, and conviction it provides.

12. My jobs. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed at the loosey-goosey, different-every-day nature of my jobs, and I often remember to do something or attend a meeting at the last minute. But these jobs allow me to spend an immense amount of time with my children and my husband. I am very grateful for that.

13. Food on the table. In the fridge. In the pantry. In my belly. Many people in this world – a staggering percentage – do not have enough of this basic thing of which I have an abundance.

14. Clean water. So many places do not have this luxury that we as Americans take completely for granted!

15. Sunshine. It is healing. I know, I know… it also could get you burned, but I think just knowing it’s right outside the window can make you feel better than a rainy, dreary climate.

16. Coffee. That precious, delicious treat that borders on necessity. Whether I make it, Hubby makes it, or the local barista makes it, I do so love it.

17. Wine. That deep red, or that bubbly… it’s a perfect addition to dinner or a snuggle on the couch watching TV. It’s certainly not a necessity, but it sure is a nice treat.

18. My family. For this one, I mean the dynamic between the five people that live in my house. We love each other and play well together. Sometimes we fight and get on each others’ nerves, but that won’t really go away. We work through it and move on. We love being together and for that I’m thankful.

19. My family. Like, the extended, everyone’s included family. I’ve got the best parents, brother, grandmother, and more I could ever ask for. They might live far away, but I love to see them!

20. My in-laws. You guys, I really hit the jackpot with in-laws. It’s a HUGE family, and I love every single person in it. I’ve got cousins, aunts, and uncles galore now, and also three more brothers, three sisters, and adorable nieces and nephews. I win on the family thing.

21. Music. It makes me feel all the feels. It relaxes me. It allows me to be in community with others in a special way.

22. Running and exercise. This is huge for me, since I use it as a stress reliever. I like being healthy enough to go on a run, blow of some steam, and sweat the feelings out.

23. Leggings and boots. They cover a multitude of sins (like not really wanting to be dressed, and feeling fat).

24. My health. I might not be the healthiest person in the world, by choice or genes, but I am far from unhealthy. I exercise, eat fairly healthy, and have been blessed with little sickness or other issues in my life. I’m thankful for that!

25. My car. I am blessed to be able to get from point A to point B with three children in tow. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to use public transportation with three kids under 5!

26. The right to vote. And to take birth control. And to drive, to stand up for myself, to work, to not work, to make money, to spend money, to be a person who can have any life I want. Women have come a long way. I’m particularly thankful for the right to vote this year, when it seems to have mattered a little bit more.

27. Technology. It’s proven to be dangerous sometimes, and when used incorrectly it can be awful. But it’s nice to be able to do things like check the weather, talk to friends, take pictures, and look up recipes all on my phone.

28. Heat. I’m particularly thankful for this one at this time of year, when it finally has gotten cold here. I’m thankful I don’t have to be chilly at night.

29. Gifts. The fact that we are able to buy gifts for our family and friends without worrying about what we gave up.

30. Humor. We love bent funny in our family. All things silliness are a blessing to me.

31. My love of reading. I truly do love getting lost in a book. It’s an enjoyable activity for me, and has been all my life. I hope I can pass it along to my kids!

32. Books. In addition to my love of reading, I suppose I should be thankful for what I read. I have learned so many things, been transported so many places, and felt so many emotions (all the feels!) due to the books I’ve read.

33. Sunshine. What a mood lifter! I never tire of seeing the sun.

34. God’s glorious creation. He has crafted each colored leaf, each ocean wave, each mountain’s peak, and ray of sunshine into a perfect masterpiece.

35. Modern medicine. I am thankful for vaccines and medicines that keep my family healthy, and the access I have to pretty much whatever we need.

36. The fact my kids are siblings. I love that they’re learning to share, love, give, and solve problems alongside each other. They are fiercely loyal to each other and rude to each other all at the same time. Perfect.

37. The holidays. I love seeing my family, Hubby’s family, lots of friends, and my kids all together. I love celebrating (no matter the reason) and I love all the sparkles and lights this time of year. I love sharing the wonder with my children, and helping them learn about why we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas (and other holidays as well). It’s such a warm and fuzzy time of year right now!

38. Dessert. Specifically cookies. My favorite. I don’t need to explain myself. 

39. The rain. What a cleansing and healing thing for the earth, and often for my soul. Especially thankful for it in the mountains right this moment. 

40. My town. Y’all, I love Winston Salem. I love this community, the diversity, the cool spots and nice places, the parks and playgrounds, the shopping, the eating, the beauty of a perfectly sized downtown. I just love it. 

Things Toddlers Say 

Happy Tuesday! I hope you guys had a nice time getting back to the real world this week. I know it’s been hard for me to find my productivity! It’s getting harder and harder to write things down as the kids say them – they’re so often in the middle of conversations or at a moment that it’s tough to write a note about how funny they are! But here are some funnies I did manage to write down. Enjoy!

J, literally all the time, with perfect inflection: Honey! Where’s my super suit?! (Quoting Frozone/Lucius from The Incredibles)

EK: Look, Mom! Matcheration! (Pointing to the photo below, meaning some sort of cross between matching and organization)

J, at 7:00am: IIIIII waaaant myyyyyy giiiiiingiiiiiin aaaaaale! (Odd time for ginger ale, I think.)

EK and J, angry screaming at each other across the house on Thanksgiving morning: “I’m thankful for you!” and “I’m thankful for you, too!”

EK, about our friends’ chocolate lab: Bella’s a good-looking dog, but man, is she big!

EK, doing something with Necie: G-Daddy! Will you come help your number one girl and your wife?!?!

EK: That’s canfastic! (Fantastic, I think.)

EK and J were practicing clearing their throats. J was clearing his with his mouth closed (hrm hrm, if I had to write it down) and EK was clearing hers with her mouth open (ahem). She kept saying, “No! That’s not they way!” until he did it with his mouth closed, and was able to make the ahem sound. Then she said, “Yeah! That’s the way!”

Me, conversationally, to Hubby: EK is really good at learning songs and lyrics.
EK: You’re still a teacher for me, Mom.
Me: *teacher heart melting*actual tears*

EK, early in the day: Mom, can I wear some of your lip gloss?
Me: This is actually lip stain and stays on for a long time, so I’ll get you some lip gloss.
J, later in the day: Mom, your lipstick looks good!
EK: It’s lip stain.
J: No it’s not! It’s lipstick!
Ek: It’s LIP STAIN!

A friend of ours at church was horsing around with EK, and said, in a fake mean voice, “What if I said you had to sit right here and be quiet?!” (EK knows he’s kidding, by the way.) J (who apparently didn’t know he was kidding) runs up, hits him on the back, and shouts, “Don’t talk to my sister like that!” (Sibling win.)

In the Starbucks drive-thru, J: We’re at Chickalay, Mom!
Me: We must go to Chick-fil-A a lot.

Hope you enjoyed these highlights! Do your kids argue about random stuff, too? PLEASE make me feel better, ha!

Currently: The Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Monday! Are you all feeling as fat and happy as I am? I dressed in my workout attire all day today, thinking I was going to squeeze in a run or something, and nope. Still doughy from the week of indulgence. I’ll get back on the (exercise) horse tomorrow.

I’ve got a nice update full of photos for ya! I hope you had a wonderful holiday whether it was relaxing at home, traveling to see family, or hosting a million people (what we did). Thanksgiving isn’t a huge holiday as far as big get-togethers or high-stress functions (in my family at least) but we still had a big group come up from Georgia and a few friends around – including a “Friendsgiving” last night! Anyway, here’s a little about what’s going on Currently.

Eating || all the leftovers. You can see the menu we had planned here, but then we ended up with desserts on desserts, and then having a get-together with our friends last night, including even more food than we had had on actual Thanksgiving Day. Now our fridge is full of one serving of this and two servings of that, and we’re ready to just clean it out and stuff it full of salad for a while. Yikes.DSC_0033.jpgDSC_0078.jpg

Enjoying || so much time with family and friends! My parents, aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandmother came up this past week, all staying for a few days to hang out with us, which was AWESOME. We also hosted some friends for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and again Sunday night for Friendsgiving, and frankly, it’s been so nice. It was all pretty low-stress and enjoyable, for which I’m extra thankful.DSC_0053.jpg

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Loving || these placemats I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond just before Thanksgiving. I don’t use placemats all the time, but these were so lovely for a Thanksgiving spread!

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Decorating || for Christmas, of course! I haven’t gotten everything up yet (or even out of the attic) but it’s coming along. For the first time, we strung lights up on our front porch columns today, so I can’t wait for it to get dark and see our work light up! DSC_0325.jpg

Planning || Christmas music for the next few services. My women’s service is having their big Christmas feast and lessons and carols this Thursday, so I’m thinking through what music should be where, etc. And we’ve already begun Advent (I can’t believe it!) so the Sunday services have to include a fair amount of carols from now on, too. I LOVE IT!

Baking || our annual Christmas sugar cookies! We do them every year at least once during the Christmas season, and I’m hoping to get a second time in with some friends in a couple of weeks. I always love how they turn out!

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Well, those are the highlights from our busy week. Who else hosted their Thanksgiving? What’s your favorite Christmas decoration to put up?

From the Manger to the Cross


Oh, how the first Sunday of advent prepares my heart for Christmas. Today is a day of celebrating, and also a day of being intentional about turning our hearts to the manger to await the coming of our King.

To turn my heart away from decorations and gift-buying can sometimes be hard. Often, getting caught up in Black Friday sales and locating the perfect decor for the unfestive corner of my home take precedence after Thanksgiving. Because t this morning, my pastor likened Thanksgiving and Christmas to s kind of homecoming. We typically gather with our families or even travel to our (former? forever?) homes to be with those we love. He nudged us to apply this sense of “homecoming” to the Christian life. A homecoming not for physical things, but coming home to the eternal love of a Father, the spirit of loving, giving no and worshiping a King who has sacrificed everything to bring us home.

We are reminded as Christians, especially during the Christmas and Easter seasons that we are only in a temporary home. This world is not our forever home, and we should never forget that. The home we look forward to joining is the perfect place to spend eternity, together with the saints and our Jesus in heaven. We have been adopted into the most prestigious, loving and healthy family there is, assigning us to a feast table beyond our wildest imaginations. We are accepted and loved and made whole in this familial identity. We have indeed found our worth in the sacrifice that was made on our behalf.

So as you enter Advent, turning your heart to the manger, don’t forget that the manger leads to the cross. We are on this journey together, pointing to the same destination in a few months’ time. This anticipation of the arrival of our King leads to His death, but also His resurrection, the mind-blowing realization that He has done the work to keep us His and whole and bring us home.

I’ve Been So Patient…

Waiting on the right moment for a little Gilmore Girls. 

I didn’t kick anyone out or neglect any family members, but now that everyone has gone for the night and Hubby’s working, so now I’m enjoying the first episode. Indulging, you might say. 

You see, nothing could really be as good, right, as the first round. Everything is… off. Not terribly. But it’s a little odd. 

I suppose I’m being harsh and I haven’t seen it all. I’m still going to watch it all. 

So night night, Gilmore Girls it is.  

The Case for Starting Christmas Celebrations Early. 

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

As a musician, I’ve been early to the Christmas spirit every single year of my life. I’m usually practicing in October for this Christmas concert or that caroling event, because inevitably someone wants perfectly polished holiday music at their event, which happens to be the first Tuesday in December. Or whatever the case may be.

But for some reason, this year, I hadn’t really been feeling it – which is especially odd, given that Advent starts ridiculously early (as Thanksgiving is ridiculously late) and I should’ve been anticipating its arrival. The weather has been unseasonably warm, I’ve been focused on other things, and Christmas, well, is sneaking up on me.

However, I’ve made a decision. I will no longer feel bad for starting to decorate early. I won’t feel bad when I tune my radio to the station that plays Christmas music on November 1st. I won’t get snarky about Starbucks’ holiday cups, no matter what they look like. I won’t post on Facebook about how it’s annoying that the local shopping centers have wreaths hung up the day after Halloween. I won’t feel bad about asking my husband to get our tree and garlands from the attic before we’ve hosted our Thanksgiving meal.

You know why?

Because we all need some cheer. There’s not a single person in this world who doesn’t benefit from a little cheering up, a little extra love sent their way, or a sparkly card in the mail. There isn’t a single person who doesn’t need to hear good news, a joyful message, or to be reminded that there is at least one thing we can latch on to that will forever be positive: Jesus loves us.

He loves us so much that he came to save us, even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:6). He IS the Good News, the reason we turn our thoughts during Advent to his humble arrival, and get up on Christmas morning with unspeakable joy in our hearts. And those things are worth celebrating even longer than 25 days a year, longer than the month that’s between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I will celebrate his blessed coming, his incredible life, his terrible death, and his glorious rising on the third day. I will celebrate these things every single day, and live my life with the light that comes from knowing him personally. I won’t feel a bit guilty if I need to hear a little Christmas music in June just because I feel like it. He is worth celebrating no matter what time of year it is.

Be thankful. 

I’ve got all the feels right now, after a day of cooking, playing, hugging, visiting, enjoying family and starting to think about (gasp!) Christmas. 

I’ll be honest. I began the day super grumpy because the boys didn’t sleep that well, and I was tired from the get-go.  I struggled through making breakfast (including muffins from scratch, so I give myself a few bonus points). I separated rude siblings once, twice, thrice. We visited with my in-laws since we wouldn’t be dining with them today. I snatched a nap from 11-12, then showered. I put on a sparkly sweater and some lipstick and called it good. Then the task was readying my home for 12 guests. 

Once I got a big coffee (complete with copious amounts of bourbon) and some salad (a nice, light lunch before a huge dinner) I felt great. Cleaning the floors and tables, prepping everything I could (which mainly consisted of chopping onions, as it so happened) and dancing around my parents and Hubby in the kitchen put me in a great mood. 

You can see the menu I posted yesterday, but believe me when I say it was a lot of food. There were several chefs, of course, but I ran the dishwasher four times. Two were before we finished cooking, and the last two were the dinner dishes, utensils, and the last bit of dishes from cooking.

I could choose to still be grumpy. I could choose to be frustrated at the amount of dishes I’ve done, the two friends that showed up, or the fact that my kids didn’t make it to bed until ten. But instead, I’m choosing to be thankful. 

I’m glad I have so many family members willing to travel to me. I’m grateful for the abundance of food we have. I’m thankful for friends who feel like family, and who know they can just call last minute and come eat at our feast. I’m thankful my table is large, and my tribe is larger. 

So tonight, find something to be thankful for. Whatever it is, surely there’s a single thing to thank the Lord for. The kindness of strangers, the ability to live and move and breathe, or any amount of food to eat will work. Anything you can think of to thank Jesus for is a win. He wants to hear from us and get to know us even better. He wants to show himself to us as we bare our souls about how today wasn’t as we planned. He has grace and forgiveness for the yuck and the stress of your Thanksgiving. Will you let him take it away?

Jonathan Camac

Student of Life. Advocate for serious joy in Christ.

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