So here is my list for 2012's 30 Days of Thanksgiving.
Starting small :)
I am thankful for my steam mop and a CLEAN FLOOR (on the ground level anyway).
That feeling I get when I throw open the shutters (after disabling the alarm system, of course), breathe in the fresh air, look around, and think to myself, "I'm living in ITALY!"
That is what I'm thankful for today. :-)
I'm thankful that this time it's only 13 days apart, not 13 months. And we're just over the halfway point.
(Hurry home, Ted! I miss you!!)
Thankful for the right to vote, despite the hassles of trying to get it done overseas. My vote may not be counted on November 6, but it WILL be counted!
I am thankful for the internet, which allows me to feel close to family and friends who are in other countries (or even down the road).
(And an iPhone isn't bad, either. ;-)
I am thankful for so many friends, family members, and mentors who are so passionate about our country! I am grateful for freedoms fought for and preserved, for opportunities to express my political opinions without fear of retribution, and for blessings so abundant in our country that we have plenty to spill over onto those who are in desperate need.
I am thankful I get to share life with 6 precious, noisy, messy, giggly, silly, amazing people--the children God has seen fit to bless me with. Starting tomorrow I will give each one a spotlight, but today I thank God for the whole crew!
I am thankful for my sweet, cuddly, still-crawling-but-close-to-finally-walking, 14-month-old Zaden Ezekiel. Though young, he already has a testimony of God's grace, and I am so humbled and grateful as I reflect on how Zaden's life and God's mercies are intertwined. From his birth at the beginning of Ted's year-long deployment to his struggles with eating and weight gain, God's hand in this boy's life is so evident. He is still my big-eyed boy, taking in all the activity around him, sharing toothy grins with his adoring fans but still preferring to snuggle on Mom's shoulder. Since his name means "sower of seeds," I thank God in faith for the seeds of the gospel that this little guy will sow in the hearts of those who cross his path.
And my mommy friends who followed our journey will understand my awe and delight in the fact that I still get to cuddle and nurse this sweet boy every morning!
I'm so grateful that God knows better than we do! I thought the perfect thing in March 2009 would be to take the kids on a free vacation to Hawaii (courtesy of Stampin' Up!). God gave us something that lasted a lot longer than a vacation--He allowed Lucan Thaniel to join our family instead! Lovable Lucan lives up to the meaning of his name ("light"), bringing joy to our hearts and home. He loves Jesus, Veggie Tales, pirates, one ratty stuffed dog named Doof, singing, humming, building, jumping, and snuggling. He has his own time table and teaches me much about patience and gentleness. He tells me multiple times a day, "Mommy, I just wuv you!"
Why did I ever think I wanted to go to Hawaii?! I can't imagine our lives without our Lucan! Thank you, Lord, for this blessing!
I’m thankful for Kenna Joelle, who arrived on the scene with a bang and hasn’t stopped since. “Little Miss Independent” often helps herself to whatever it is she wants; she is an “ask forgiveness rather than permission” kind of a gal, which keeps me on my toes! Kenna dances and prances just about everywhere she goes, twirling around to the music in her head or to the “demo” setting on our electric piano. She loves princesses but can wield wooden swords with the older boys while bossing them around, even though they are twice her size. She is loving and gentle with her little brothers and insists that we have twin girls soon so the girls can “catch up.” For all her zest, she has a tender, sensitive heart and cries when she gets in trouble because she is genuinely repentant. She loves Jesus, family, friends, and soon-to-be friends, as she has never met a stranger. Thank you, Lord, for the breath of fresh air that is my Kenna!
I am thankful for my “gentle giant,” Arden Daniel. At 9 years old, he is bigger than his older siblings but not too big for Mom’s hugs and cuddles! His tender, sensitive spirit touches the hearts of those around him every day. He truly enjoys playing with his younger siblings and works hard to include them and make them comfortable and happy. He loves to laugh and be silly but continually amazes me with his thoughtful input during our Bible lessons and discussions. His talent for engineering is evident in the complex structures he builds out of whatever set of toys happens to be on the floor (for Lucan to play with!) during our school reading time, and his gift for memorization blesses me every time I hear him quote a Scripture passage. I know God will use Arden’s sensitivity to others’ needs to expand His kingdom and bring glory to Himself, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for my boy!
We interrupt the statuses sharing thankful thoughts about my children. Tonight, I am extremely grateful that God allowed our paths to cross with Stella, Emelia, and Salvatore! Our family is teaching 9-year-old Salvatore English two days a week. This amounts to great fun for Tobin and Arden and takes me back to my days of teaching English in Hungary! In exchange for our "services," Stella, Emelia, and a co-worker clean our house once a week. Today was our first lesson and the first time this house has been clean top to bottom since long before we moved into it! And it took them less than 1.5 hours! Our family looks forward to building relationships with these dear people that God brought into our life. I hope we bless them even half as much as they have already blessed us!
I am thankful for the chance to get a glimpse of what my husband surely was like as he grew up—because Tobin Michael is so much like his daddy! From his sharp wit and keen sense of humor to the ability to lose himself in a good book (with a reading level far above his age), from his blonde hair and blue eyes to slight stature that is just bursting with the effort of waiting for that Growth Spurt that will help him surpass his younger brother, this kid makes me laugh and keeps me on my toes. He dearly loves to scare me out of my wits or try to pull one over on me, but being married to his daddy for 15 years has taught me a thing or two! Tobin is a wonderful big brother and a huge help with his younger siblings, often reading stories to them or teaching them new games (and tricks, ha!). He is just as quick with an apology as he is with a pun, showing his tender heart as well as his preference for keeping things light. I love seeing the growth and maturity that is (finally!) happening in Tobin’s life and am excited to see what God has in the years to come!
I am so thankful for Charis Noelle. Stealing a line from a friend of mine, I give this apt description: "Mature beyond her years and innocent beyond her peers," Charis is indeed a gift of grace (the meaning of her name). She capably handles the responsibilities of being the firstborn of a larger family without complaining (too much!) and already has much wisdom as a result of earnestly seeking the Lord. She is not only thoughtful and creative but also thoughtfully creative, choosing to bless others with the many gifts and talents God has given her. She is proving to be quite the little wit, tossing off saucy quips that could only come from being Ted's daughter. At the same time, there is no denying that she is my mini-me in too many ways to count! We love to laugh, cook, read, and play together. I am so blessed by the young woman that she is becoming and look forward to our relationship developing into a deep friendship in the coming years.
The last few days I have thanked God specifically for the children He has placed in our family. Today I thank Him for the opportunity to home educate these precious souls and the everyday blessings we experience together.
If you're reading this status, it's because I am thankful for YOU! I can't make a list of what I am thankful for without being overwhelmed by God's graciousness in bringing so many wonderful friends into our lives. A bittersweet part of being a military family includes so many hellos and goodbyes. The good thing is that we have such a diverse, far-reaching network of dear people with whom to share life's joys and trials. The bad thing is that we can't always share those things in person.
So I'll add a little P.S. to my day 16 thankfulness post: Dear God, Thank you for Facebook and the internet. Amen.
Was going to be thankful for my first real date night out with my hubby since moving and the first time to enjoy a real Italian restaurant. (Yes. Believe it or not, we have not yet eaten out in Italy!)
"Give thanks in all circumstances..."
So. Instead. I am thankful that we never lack for food, homemade or restaurant prepared. I am thankful that I have a wonderful husband with whom I adore spending time, whether out on the town or curled on the couch. And I am thankful that our quality time together does not depend on everything always going our way. (Thank goodness!)
And let's not forget to thank the good Lord for the ability to download episodes of Downton Abbey so we can have something to enjoy together.
I am thankful beyond words for the capital C Church. No matter where in the world we live, God always puts us with a local body of Christ so we can worship, fellowship, learn, and serve together. Believers in Christ are my forever family, and I'm so glad we get to have all of eternity together!
I am thankful for the living and active Word of God, an unchanging revelation of our holy and eternal God, a God who loves us with an everlasting love. I am thankful that true wisdom can be found in the pages of Scripture, that there is purpose and unity in this most sacred and awesome story, and that there is absolutely nothing we face that Scripture does not speak to. I am thankful for parents who taught me to reverence and hunger for the words of life and for all those who have encouraged me to memorize verses and passages that are now as much a part of me as physical DNA.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
I am thankful for my godly parents who will have been married 40 years this December! What a legacy they have given to my brother and me and in turn to their grandchildren! I am so grateful for their sacrifice and commitment to our Christian education and for how they have lived out their faith in good times and in bad. I am thankful for all the fun family memories we have from growing up and road tripping all over the U.S. I am thankful for the way they fueled my passion for reading and learning and for how they have supported me in the various whims that catch my fancy, whether big or small. I am thankful that they have never said, “What?! You’re having ANOTHER baby?!” when we’ve announced our pregnancies but that they have celebrated with us joyously as God has expanded our family. I am thankful that I can talk to Mom or Dad about anything on my heart and they listen without judgment, and I am SO thankful for the thousands upon thousands of prayers that I KNOW have arisen from their hearts on my and my own family’s behalf!
I love you, Mom and Dad!!!!
I am so thankful for our current assignment! A year ago we were slogging our way through a deployment, and all I wanted was for our family to be together...anywhere. But God, in His infinite mercy and grace, blessed us with the opportunity to experience life abroad. Our adventures are just beginning!
A month ago today we moved into our Italian casa! I am so thankful for God’s provision of the perfect home for our family. He has led us all over the world, and we have always had a place to live that has been just right for us. As God has blessed us, we pray we can bless others through the gift of hospitality, sharing our home, food, and fellowship as often as possible.
I'm thankful for the breathtaking beauty of God's creation and the opportunity to explore a small part of it with my family.
I am thankful beyond words for the amazing gift God gave me in my husband Ted! He is my best friend, my partner in crime, my forever and always love, my joy, my laughter, my shoulder to lean or cry on, my prayer partner, my encourager, my fellow adventurer, my whole world (on this earth). 15 years and counting...and the best is yet to come!
I am thankful for rest.
I'm thankful for my one and only sibling, my "little" brother John. While I thought he was a pest during our growing up years, we got a lot closer after I moved out and went to college (go figure!). We don't get to see each other very often, but I love him and I'm proud of him!
I am very, very thankful for wonderful in-laws! I love my extended family and am so grateful for their prayers and support as well as the privilege of praying for and supporting them. I am very thankful for the amazing mother-in-love God gave me in Rhonda and for the close relationship we share. I am thankful for the privilege of knowing Jim and seeing the impact he made on his family and community before God called him to heaven. And I am thankful for the brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and cousins and aunts and uncles that have appeared in my family tree through marriage!
As this month of thanksgiving draws to a close, I want to take these last few days to attempt to put into words the gratitude in my heart for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Today I am so thankful for His sacrifice--for His humility in coming to earth, God in flesh, forsaking the riches of heaven to embrace poverty for our sake, becoming obedient until death: the death required as a once-and-for-all sacrifice to atone for sins. The amazing, overwhelming love He has for us continues to take my breath away; oh, Jesus, may I never take for granted what we sing to our little ones every night: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
I am thankful that God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His Word is timely and timeless; His Truth is everlasting and never needs revised or updated.
I am thankful for the eternal hope we have through Jesus Christ. We can look forward to everlasting life and joy with our Creator; this anticipation helps me have a wiser and more thoughtful perspective of the temporal things related to life on earth. It gives me purpose and meaning for the time God has given me, for I know He created me for a reason. Oh, that I may be worthy of the calling I have received.