Category Archives: NaBloPoMo

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. 

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.

Our Thanksgiving Meal

Tomorrow, I’m hosting my family for Thanksgiving. My mom and dad have been here all week, and Mom’s helping Hubby and me get things all ready. It is going to be a beautiful blend of traditional things in my family meeting the gourmet tendencies of Hubby’s family. It’s going to be some kid-friendly items, and some things that my kids likely won’t touch. I’m really  excited.

Here’s our list of things we either have/made already or are making tomorrow:

Prime Rib
Honeybaked Ham
Chicken and Dressing (For you northerners, that is not inside the chicken. The chicken is in the dressing.)
Green Bean Casserole
Potato Salad
Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Onion Pie
Cranberry Salad
Kale (prepared in the southern style of collard greens)

I know. No turkey. But don’t those other meats sound SO GOOD? And a little GBC can’t go wrong, especially coupled with potato salad, and cranberry salad. What’s a southern Thanksgiving without something called “salad” that doesn’t include lettuce?

My aunt is also bringing homemade rolls and various desserts… including her amazing rum cake (yum?!) and at least one meringue pie. FOR THE WIN.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods? Are you hosting or traveling? Either way, I hope you have some fun plans!

Currently 

Happy Thanksgiving week! I know I’m already getting ready for the big day, so I bet you are, too. We’ve had a really busy weekend, resulting in my first NaBloPoMo miss (Saturday). Oops. I’ll try to make up for it this week, and cram an extra one in! Anyway, here’s a little update of what’s been going on around my house.

Listening || to a little bit of Christmas music. I’m planning on justifying myself a little more in tomorrow’s post, but let’s be honest: we all need some cheer!

Watching || Once Upon a Time. We get so behind on this one so quickly. I guess it’s because the episodes are an hour long, so if it’s late at night when we get a minute to watch TV, they’re often too long to want to watch. So now we’ve got four unwatched episodes – oops. Anyway, I saw this “family tree” on Pinterest and I loved it. (If someone knows the source, help me credit it!) (Also, is it really Nealfire? I sorta thought Rumple was saying “Balefire” all this time.)once.jpg

Planning || our Thanksgiving dinner! We’re hosting my family at our house, so we’ve got 12 people total, counting my kids. We don’t care much either way about turkey, so we’re having prime rib instead, and I’m SO excited. My aunt is making a bunch of desserts, and we’re combining some trusty family traditions with some new fun things. It’s going to be a good day!

Anticipating || Advent. It’s my favorite season in the church calendar, and I can already feel the excitement in the air as we plan our Christmas music, services, parties, and events. I can’t wait for this time with my family and my church family!

Well, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with delicious food, relaxation, and sweet time with family and friends. What’s your favorite food to eat this week?!

Bedtime Stories: Best or Worst Time of the Day?

My kids LOVE being read to. I’m glad – really. I enjoy reading to them whether it’s at bedtime or before naps or whatever other random time they ask. We’ve got hundreds of books (not a lie) and we go to the library to borrow more. I get it from my mom: books are the one thing I almost never say no to. I buy them for no occasion at all, simply because I saw it when I was by myself and wanted to read it to them.

So naturally bedtime should be a wonderful opportunity for snuggles and reading. I should pine for this moment all day long, right?
Well. It doesn’t always go as planned.

Sometimes, for whatever reason (over-tiredness, too much energy, the need of potty or water) it gets difficult. They might be too tired to relax. They might be too wound up to concentrate. They beg to watch TV instead. They might just be using the reading time to put off bedtime. But they won’t stay around, won’t actually listen, won’t acknowledge that someone is reading. It’s like I’m shouting nonsense words just to make them giggle.

But those times are fewer and farther between with each passing day. My little sillies love reading more and more, and I look forward to each night that I get to share Charlotte and Wilbur, Pete the Cat, or 12 little girls in two straight lines. Even Rosie Revere (Rosie Revere, Engineer) and Stillwater  (Zen Shorts) make a weekly appearance in our routine.

I’ll take what I can get, if every few nights, they snuggle up next to me for book after book until my voice is gone and my own eyes are droopy. I’ll keep reading until they would rather read to me, or read under their covers with a flashlight. I know these days are passing quickly, so I will read, read, read to them as much as I can.

Here are a few of our favorites, in case you need some fresh suggestions!

Zen Shorts and Hi, Koo! (by Jon Muth)

Yum Yum Dim Sum (by Amy Wilson Sanger)

Rosie Revere, Engineer (by Andrea Beaty)

Dragons Love Tacos (by Adam Rubin)

The Witch’s Hat (by Tony Johnston, and I know this seems Halloween-themed, but my kids LOVE it.)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (by Martin/Archambault, and yes, many children have projects based on this one in kindergarten.)

Harold and the Purple Crayon (by Crockett Johnson)

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (by Virginia Lee Burton, and I remember reading this one to my enamored little brother twenty years ago.)

Little Owl’s Night (by Divya Srinivasan – a GREAT bedtime book)

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child (by Julia Donaldson, and they’re also on Netflix as short cartoons!)

And last but not least, a total favorite: Jesus Storybook Bible (by Sally Lloyd-Jones). You can see how much I love it in this post from last Christmas.