Monday, November 30, 2009

Abundance : 1000 Gifts

Coming off of a weekend full of family and remembering his abundant gifts,
my gift list continues...

My parents. Here with us.

The bustle of the grocery store Thanksgiving week.

A cart full.

Abundant food to nourish and enjoy.

A Thanksgiving morning 10K.

Our church's Thanksgiving worship service.

Hearing the testimonies of His provision.

Running with delight through the field of Christmas trees.

Apple cider doughnuts.

A deep inhale of cold, crisp air.

Smoke rising from chimneys. That wonderful smell.

Decorating the tree with my three exuberant children.

Ornaments that remind us of years past.

Lighting the first Advent candle. Beginning our Advent celebration.

Great is Thy Faithfulness...

holy experience

Thursday, November 26, 2009


O My God,

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing sense to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrow and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou are to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Praise and Thanksgiving from The Valley of Vision,
a collection of Puritan prayers arranged by Arthur Bennett

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Favorite Cookies

These cookies stay soft, freeze well, and look lovely stacked in cellophane bags. They are a holiday staple in our house. Simple and delicious.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup butter
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup additional sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in the 1 cup sugar. Add egg and molasses; beat well. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture.

Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, using about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each. Roll balls in the additional sugar to coat. Place balls about 2 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 10 minutes or until light brown and still puffed. (Do not overbake.) Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

from Better Homes and Gardens, New Baking Book

Monday, November 23, 2009

Delight to Praise : 1000 Gifts

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy

because the praise not merely expresses

but completes the enjoyment;
it is its appointed consummation.

-C.S. Lewis, from his Reflections on the Psalms

Delighting in His gifts, my
list goes on...

Dancing in the kitchen with Hannah.

Her love for the piano. The recital piece in process, filling our home with music.

Our leaf piles at the curb. The wonderful husband who got them there. And the wonderful leaf-vacuum truck that takes them all away.

Hot Chocolate. Daily.

Simple toys.

A walk to the library. Beauty along the way.

Saturday evening soup. Delicious recipes shared.

Time to get down on the floor and play. Just Peter and me.

A fine art gallery of their own. Gathered. Created. Enjoyed.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise...

holy experience

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Few Turkeys

Coffee-painted turkeys.
We used sharpie markers instead of paint for the red and yellow. Sprinkling the coffee painting with salt created a neat texture pattern.

Hannah likes her coffee a little stronger than Will's.

Peter's hand-print turkey...

and another little turkey... and F and G.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Clear November : 1000 Gifts

Wrapped up in His grace, my list of gifts continues...

A slower season.

Wrapped in blankets.

Space heaters and books.

Our dinner club. Many years of friendship around a table.

Slow food.

Lunch dates. Pizza you have to fold.

When we can walk instead of drive.

The brightness that comes when the last leaves fall.

Quiet trees showing their beautiful frame.

He crowns me with steadfast love. Psalm 103.
"...and the crown must be far more precious than if it were made of corruptible things, such as silver and gold; it is studded with gems of grace and lined with the velvet of lovingkindness; it is decked with the jewels of mercy, but made soft for the head to wear by a lining of tenderness." - C.H. Spurgeon

And mercy. New every morning.

holy experience

Consider joining the gratitude community...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Faithful : 1000 Gifts

I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

-Psalm 13:5-6

My gift list continues...

His imagination.

My gatherer. Needing to carry a beautiful river stone all the way home.

Quiet, peaceful games.

Just up from his nap snuggles.

Baby showers.

Warm homemade bread and butter.

The things she will do for him.

The children's choir. Sweet songs of praise.

The quiet and constant falling of leaves.

Walking beside another.

Mourning with those that mourn.

Prayers for a heart-weary friend. Perseverance and petition for all the saints.

Pulling old prayer journals off the shelf. Looking back, remembering, seeing clearly His faithfulness.

holy experience

Consider joining the gratitude community...

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Pumpkin pancakes.
Hiking along the Potomac.
Weekend exhale.

(pancake design how to found here)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The American Girl Party

Was there any doubt about what kind of party Hannah would request? We had such fun pulling it all together.

Her birthday fell on a Sunday this year, so we had an "American Girl Luncheon" after church. She invited nine of her friends and asked each of them to bring their American Girl doll with them. Yes, they all have one... at least.

The girls arrived hungry, so we ate first. The Menu: Star-shaped sandwiches, turkey roll-ups, homemade mac-n-cheese, carrot sticks, grapes, apple slices with apple dip. Apple cider and chocolate milk to drink.

I prepared 10 conversation starters, one for each girl to ask during lunch. I had them on strips of paper in a bowl they passed around the table. The girls really liked the questions. I loved hearing their answers.

If you could be any American Girl doll, which one would you be? Why?
If you could eat only one type of candy for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If you could meet any famous person (from history or today), who would it be?
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
If you had to be one age for the rest of your life, what age would you pick?
What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Or create the perfect ice cream flavor.
What would you like to be famous for?
If you were an animal, what would you be?

After lunch, we played American Girl Bingo and Don't Eat My Girl (found this game at Tip Junkie). We used marshmallows for game pieces.

I decorated the cupcakes with mini wands I found at the party store.

We opened gifts. Took a group photo of all the girls with their dolls. And sent each of her friends home with personalized American Girl stationery (designed by me, printed on white cardstock, tied up with a bow) and a fun pen.

Hannah loved every minute.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Homeschool Report

As the local public school's first marking period ends, I thought it a good time to evaluate our first quarter.

So many days I feel we are still not in a groove. The kids seem surprised, even shocked, some mornings when I tell them it's time to gather for lessons. These lessons that we start at the same time every day.

I've been really happy about our curriculum choices. And the kids are all doing very well. We've had many good days. And on those days, it's really easy to love homeschooling.

And then there are the days that we just seem to bump into one another. The house seems crowded. We pick and poke. And I start to compare my day to others. Think about all I can't do, all my kids might miss. I start to tally all that homeschooling costs me. I forget the blessings. Comparison is truly the thief of all joy.

I pray, Lord, help my eyes to see. Please show me fruit in all this laboring.

Last night, as I sat on the floor sorting and filing all the work the kids have completed over the past several weeks, He brought so much to mind...
Will is learning to read. And I can watch and see so many little triumphs followed by high-fives and hugs when he finishes a book.

Hannah and I have great conversations about our history lessons, poetry, nature studies. We are connected by shared experiences.

Peter loves to be a part of our history lessons. And turning what he has gleaned into imaginative play. Hannah and Will join in. They are learning and reading and exploring and experiencing together.

Will loves math and asks for more. He wants to be challenged; and I can move at his pace.

Hannah spends time with Peter while I am teaching Will. She loves to read his story Bible to him, work on his letters, play games. Peter adores her.

We have so many, I don't know - let's find out moments. And we investigate, together.

When given free time, Hannah reads and writes. She writes letters and poetry, practices cursive, reads stacks of books. She is becoming a lover of language.

When they battle and wound each other, and they often do; we can stop, correct, and bind up wounds. Heart lessons abound. Like sandpaper, rubbing sometimes all day long, we become smoother.

Our afternoons are free to read, rest, explore, create, be involved in sports and music lessons. Family dinners are filled with conversations about things we learned that day. We end our days reading together. We have time.
So, while I had intended to write about our marked progress in individual subjects and review our curriculum choices. This tells more of our first quarter experience, the blessings of being home, a heart and mind progress report.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Heart Expanded : 1000 Gifts

This practice of God-seeking, blessing-counting, beauty-finding ...
it has a way of expanding a heart with joy.
And helping eyes to see through His lens.

So with a heart full, I grab my gratitude journal and pen more of His blessings....

Hayrides and kettle corn.

Little boy joy.

Dirty knees.

The thrill and delight of a really big slide.

Roasting pumpkin seeds.

An extra hour of sleep.

And yesterday, we celebrated...

My girl. Eight years old.

Remembering her first day.

Big hugs of thanks for a special gift. And little brothers keeping a secret.

'Happy Birthday' sung over the phone. Connecting with far-away family.

Sitting and brushing her hair.

Picking out a special dress together.

The giggles of gathered girlfriends.

Seeing His work in her heart.

holy experience

Consider joining the gratitude community...


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