We Gather Together – Thanksgiving 2016

After a year of tremendous division and fear in our country, we need Thanksgiving more than ever. As I thought about giving thanks today, I couldn’t stop singing the classic hymn We Gather Together.

The lyrics seem extra poignant. Maybe, I’ve never really paid attention to them before, but they drew me in today.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Not only is gathering important as friends and family, but especially as Christians for fellowship. Living separate from the world but in it, can be lonely. We gather together to encourage and be encouraged, reminded that we need not fear because we belong to the Lord.

Hebrews 10:25 (NASB) 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
We gather together for fellowship and encouragement, remembering to Whom we belong. #Thankful Click To Tweet

I love how the hymn discusses a body of believers gathering to seek His blessing, His chastening.

Chastening is God’s correction of the sin in our lives. And it is a blessing, He corrects our steps, sets us right. I’m not always grateful for the correction in the moment, but I’m learning to see it correctly.

God promises us He reproves whom He loves.

Discipline isn’t punishment, it’s guidance. When I punish my daughter, it’s never vindictive. I want her to learn, grow, mature so that she’ll be prepared for obstacles to come.

God chastens & reproves those He loves. It is part of His blessings for us. Click To Tweet
Revelation 3:19 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

In the hard times, I’ve learned to seek His face. When I hit a wall in a friendship, my marriage, or parenting, I’ve learned to search out God’s will, even if it means I must change.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

After a year of tremendous division, we need Thanksgiving more than ever & the simple words of the hymn We Gather Together create such a beautiful picture.

I think about all the small ways God ordained my every step this year. The devotionals I read that challenged and convicted me at just the right moment, the lessons I learned at exactly the time I needed them.

I’ve faced some heartbreaking moments this year. But God orchestrated my paths to and through them. He stood by my side through it all. His picture is an eternal one.
I am especially grateful for the way His word is always relevant for me, everyday.
Today’s daily passage was Revelation 3 which reflects the hymn I had already been singing and writing about.
Revelation 3:10 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

We lift up His name in praises today, seeing His leadership and dominion, asking for Him to defend us against the tribulations of the world.

What tremendous safety we have in Him.

And much like the company that shared our feast today, God promises His great desire for communion with us.

Revelation 3:20 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

I imagined the Lord sharing my table today, seeing Him through the blessings of friends who joined our celebration because of providential happenings, and know God is present in our thanksgiving as we gather together.

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A Father’s Day note to my daughter’s dad

Father’s Day is always challenging. You hate being celebrated. The expectations for dads have never been higher, and you often feel like you’re not measuring up. You’re too hard on yourself.

So today, I want to tell you all the ways you are getting it right with our sweet little girl.

She was both the child you were most prepared for and least ready for.

You knew the ins and outs of babies, but you weren’t prepared for the intense little girlness of her, for the effortless way she would wrap you around her pinky and be so totally different from your boys, full of ribbons and bows and imagination and drama!

This Father’s Day, I want to say I see the good job you’re doing.

I love watching her with you, the way she races to your arms the second you pull in the driveway, the way everything is better because daddy is home.

I love hearing you call her baby.

I love watching your gentleness with her, the way you play dress up with her or let her style your hair. Watching you read to her makes my heart full. I love hearing the inside jokes you share only with her. She has softened you in beautiful ways.

Expectations for Dad have never been higher. Love him. Tell him what he's doing right. Click To Tweet
Keep being her dad.

Keep taking her fishing, teaching her to cast and reel and bait her own hooks. Keep taking her to fly kites and pick berries. Keep walking her through the woods, teaching her which plants are safe, which broken branches show deer signs. From you, she learns to honor nature and respect the animals we eat.

Teach her to love adventures and to forget about her hair. Let her get muddy on your watch.

Teach her to love adventures and forget about her hair. Let her get muddy on your watch. Click To Tweet

Keep wrestling and tickling. You’re teaching her so much more than to laugh. Your loving play is teaching her that good men can be trusted. You are teaching her to set boundaries with her body and to defend herself.

Do you remember how special it is to watch TV with your dad, just the two of you? She already so enjoys curling up next to you and watching hunting shows together. You’re building loving memories and creating exciting future plans in her imagination.

You celebrate Father's Day, but often feel like you're not measuring up as a dad. So, I want to tell you all the ways you're getting it right with our girl.

Keep flying her around the house as long as you can. You’ve taught her to feel safe in your strength. And our crazy, dreamer girl will always remember you made her first impossible dream come ‘true.’

You deserve a great Father’s Day!

Keep teaching her all the things you do. From you, she learns animals and biology better than any high school lab. She learns to try every new food at least once, even sushi or spicy octopus. 😜

She watches you decide to learn something and do it, going from novice to expert in front of her eyes.

From you, she learns that work is how we have our nice home and good food. She sees you work hard as a soldier and at home. She will learn to work hard and expect that from others.

Dad's teach daughters so much, including how to be loved. Keep loving her unconditionally! Click To Tweet

Keep loving her unconditionally. Someday, too soon, she will equate how you loved her with how a man should love her. Keep building a great foundation with whisker kisses on her cheeks and bear hugs.

She believes you are a superhero. She is right.

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Memorial Day Grace and Perspective from one Army Wife

Before 2005, Memorial Day wasn’t really on my radar, even coming from a family of servicemen.

It was the beginning of summer, and I could wear white shoes again.

But wasn’t real in a tangible way, until I kissed my young man goodbye and sent him to war.

I’m lucky that when I gave my heart to a soldier, he came home to me.

Not every military spouse, child, sister, parent, or friend is as lucky as I have been, and I cannot speak for them.

I can only speak for my heart on this issue.

Starting a few days ago, posts began circulating on social media about knowing the difference between Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day.

Spreading knowledge is admirable, but the tone of some posts was almost hostile.

“Don’t thank my husband on Memorial Day.”

“If you wear the uniform, Memorial Day isn’t about you.”

I can only imagine the grief that spurred those posts, but they missed the real point of honoring military service.

Absolutely, Memorial Day is about those who gave all.

It honors those who won’t ever come home: Dads, daughters, sons, mothers who sacrificed everything to stand for our nation.

Absolutely, Memorial Day honors those who gave all, but all gave some. Don't miss a chance to thank them. Click To Tweet

The depth of that sacrifice is too great to quantify. Boys left home and never returned to marry waiting sweethearts. Men left pregnant wives never meeting their child. Mothers kissed babies goodbye and will never kiss them goodnight again. Sons graduated, but never had the chance to live the lives they imagined.

It’s too heavy to grasp unless you’ve lost someone.

Not sure what to say on Memorial Day? or if you should say Thank you? Here's some Memorial Day Grace from one Army Wife's perspective

But I look at those white crosses lining green fields and see people who will never hear another heartfelt, “thank you for your service” and my husband who came home but will never be the same.

And I think, who cares if you get it wrong and thank a living soldier on Memorial Day? or an active service member on Veteran’s Day?

Gold Star families who lost someone might answer differently, but I imagine if they could say thank you or invite you to thank their loved one one more time, they would.

So I want everyone to know why we celebrate Memorial Day, to recognize and honor those who paid the ultimate price. We stop to pay homage because if we don’t honor those who sacrificed all, the next generations won’t understand how valuable their freedom is.

But if you also thank a living veteran or active soldier, GOOD.

Because All gave Some, too. No one came home the same. No one serves without risking it all.

Take every chance to say thank you while they are alive.

Memorial Day is also remembering those, like my husband, who went willing to make that sacrifice, and knowing he lived things that haunt his nightmares so I can sleep in peace.

Not sure what to say on Memorial Day? or if you should say Thank you? Here's some Memorial Day Grace from one Army Wife's perspective

As a military spouse, I want to invite you to understand this military life, its costs and sacrifices as well as its joys and adventures; but there is a price, and I don’t think we can honor those who pay it too often.

Last week, my husband didn’t stand when they honored all service members at his son’s graduation, because he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

I love his humility, but later, I held his hand and reminded him that he stands not for himself, but for those around him: so his family recognizes that his service matters to our country, that what we all lost carries weight, and so that those around him can connect a face to the sacrifice of those who serve.

Memorial Day may be about those who’ve died, but it’s for the living, for us to remember the cost of our freedom. And there is no wrong way to do that.

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How Motherhood Changed my Perspective on Mother’s Day

My Mother’s Day perspective has completely changed through the challenging and exhilarating moments of motherhood. Each year has added to the fullness of the beauty of mothering.

I’ve learned Mother’s Day is for celebrating BEING a mother. I’ve learned that card company expectations are the enemy of joy, while macaroni necklaces, dandelions, and crayola cards are priceless.

I’ve learned to celebrate the messy work of being a mother.

As my daughter is growing independent, my role is shifting from primarily physical needs to more emotional and spiritual guidance, which is teaching me so many new aspects of motherhood.

Nothing taught me to appreciate my mother more than motherhood itself. #ThanksMom Click To Tweet

Being a mother has taught me to appreciate my mother more with every challenging stage and new accomplishment in my daughter’s life.

Previous years, I’ve focused experiencing Mother’s Day, since motherhood was a long awaited answer to prayer, but as I inscribed my mom’s Mother’s Day card, I was struck by how much I still need to thank her for the million thankless jobs of motherhood.

My Mother's Day perspective has changed through the challenges and exhilarating moments of motherhood over the years. All I can say is thank you, Mom.

Thank you, Mom for reading me a thousand books, some a thousand times, even when you were tired, even when dinner needed cooking. I remember quietly reading about a silly detective with an umbrella and knowing I was loved. I developed a love for stories and words and discovery on your lap.

Thank you, Mom for getting up before we did everyday and making breakfast. We probably complained about the cold cereal one day only to pitch a tiny rebellion the next over oatmeal or scrambled eggs. I’m sorry about the Grape Nuts episode. To be fair, I still think it’s gross. 😉

Thank you, Mom for the hours you put into keeping house without many modern conveniences I take for granted. It was never done, never perfect, and you kept on doing it. Now, you even sometimes come do it at my house.

As I look around the chaos in my living room today, I wonder how you kept everything so spotless despite our efforts otherwise.

Thank you for all the secret tears you must have shed in frustration when we wouldn’t stop arguing, broke your favorite vase; tears cried in hurt when we screamed that’s not fair or I hate you in teen angst, or times you cried from sheer exhaustion.

Thank you for the years of sleep you gave up in the raising of three young ladies, nights you were up until you couldn’t see straight, nights you couldn’t sleep until hearing the door three minutes past curfew.

I may not have understood the sacrifices, but I couldn't miss the love. Thank you, Mom. Click To Tweet

Thank you, Mom for Bible stories and rides to school, swimming, play practices, for all the clothes and formal dresses you quietly stitched in your free time.

Thank you for the million ways you invested in my life, putting aside yourself to develop character in me.

You didn’t get it all right, but neither will I.

While I may not have understood your sacrifices, I couldn’t miss the love.

And I can only hope my daughter will be able to say the same about me someday.

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Valentine’s Day Tradition

Our Valentine’s Day tradition started a few years ago. She was just old enough to start understanding that there was a holiday, and it involved presents and chocolate. I mean, what else does a girl need to know? She was all in.

But I wanted to find just the right way to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family. When I saw John 3:16 written so the word VALENTINE was created, I knew that was the message I wanted for her, because it was the message I know I still need written on my heart.

It helps remind us to celebrate Christ’s coming everyday and focuses on Godly love, not just romantic love.

But I have all these cute ideas and by the time one holiday is put away, the next one is looming. I had always wanted to be the fun pinteresty mom that makes every holiday special, but frankly, those suckers sneak up on me like ninjas.

Free Valentine's Day printable for your children. Fill their love tank with God's love. Click To Tweet

One trick I’ve learned is to keep everything grouped together and labeled. For Valentine’s Day, I keep everything in a clear project folder I can just pull out and put up.

Our Valentine’s Day tradition is that we post a handwritten copy of the John 3:16 Valentine’s Day printable (link at the end of post) on her door. Then everyday we add a heart with a character trait we love about her. This is day 1.

Character hearts for a Valentine's Day tradition that will build self-esteem.

I used colored construction paper and just cut out several different sizes and colors of hearts, but you could buy heart shaped wall decor or doilies from Walmart or Dollar General if you wanted.

We start on the first and go through the 14th, but you can do however many days you want. You could start on the 14th and go through the end of the month as well.

Free Valentine's Day John 3:16 Printable with love tank filling traditions to celebrate Valentine's Day with your littles.

What I really love about this tradition is that my daughter spends the month of February being told she is loved and special because she was fearfully and wonderfully made by her creator and was so deeply loved by Him that he sent his Son to die for her.

Psalm 139:14 ESV  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My daughter has many wonderful traits, but I made a point to choose traits that I really want to encourage in her: her faith, her kindness, her curiosity, her joy.

We read each trait together everyday as we add the new traits to the door, so she gets to be reminded of each one. Then we continue to read them everyday until the end of February.

This tradition will build on the love we show her daily to create a memory of being valued for who she is. We can fill her love tank with pride and self-esteem based on the qualities and gifts God has given her.

Valentine’s Day Printable

And establish a good foundation for what true love looks like for the Valentine’s Days her future holds.

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