Archives for posts with tag: thankful


DSCN2456My view of his view.  Again. Love seeing things through other people’s eyes.  And love seeing people do their thing. Especially when the eyes I’m seeing through happen to be my child’s.  No matter how old they are (or I am…), so cool to see the world through their eyes.


Wordless Wednesday



Silent Sunday

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121

Sweden6Day One.  I arrive in Sweden just before noon and get to see Austin for the first time in ten months. No words for how great it was to see him face to face.  Whether our children are 3 or 23, it seems that just seeing that they are safe and sound and in your sights give a sense of breathing-deep relief and joy.  Pure joy.  We took the train back to Stockholm and I put my bags (and the beautiful flowers he handed me at the airport) in the room where I’ll be staying and then hit the ground running to see the city.

I loved taking it all in.  The big, grandiose, impressive sights like these…





…and the not-so-big, ordinary, little details like these…








And in the big and the little, I so enjoyed taking in “my view of his view”…Aus loves taking photos probably even more than I do.  Here’s a few of him on day one…because of course, of all the crazy-good things that I was seeing for the first time, the greatest thing was seeing this city that he’s come to love , through his eyes.



Day 2

I slept like a rock that night even though the sun doesn’t go down till 10:30 ish and came up at 4 a.m.  Summer days in Sweden are long.  The day began with breakfast on the balcony.  Aus had toasted bread and lingonberry jam, along with French-pressed coffee.  We sat on the balcony and this was our view…


The first stop after breakfast was to go down to the corner store and get some to-go lunch.  We got pasta salad to go and were on our way to the next stop…getting bikes to ride through Stockholm.  We found the City-rent-a-bikes and were on our way!  I hadn’t been a bike in I don’t know how many years, but as a good friend of mine recently said, “where our children go, we go fearlessly.” (Deb).  Yes, pretty-much fearlessly, but some of the traffic stops were a bit congested and I’m sure people were aware of the wobbly start at each stop.  Ah well….we all survived and there’s nothing like riding a bike right smack-dab through a city to help you see it, sense it, appreciate it. And that’s what we did.  We ended up at a beautiful spot by a bridge and ate our lunch there.   There were daisies everywhere.  Have I ever mentioned that daisies are one of my favorite flowers?  daytwodaytwo5daytwo4daytwo6

So, we ate lunch, took some photos, and then we were off again on our bikes. Austin had wanted to show me his favorite little coffee shop that was a bit on the outskirts of the city.  It has a huge outdoor seating area looking over the water. The ducks seem to like it there as well.




Talk about relaxing.  We had time to catch up a bit on some of Austin’s recent ventures.  He’s had an idea for years that is gaining support and coming into being.  He’s networked with people internationally and was recently flown to Dubai to speak about the project.  So, as I sat and listened to Austin and had a cup of coffee and looked over the water, I kept feeling so thankful for the here and now.  There’s no telling where Aus will be in the coming months, but there is the now and the incredible opportunity to just so enjoy the time and savor the moments for sure. We took more photos and then grabbed our bikes and were off to the next stop…Skansen.





Skansen is a village museum/zoo.  Homes from hundreds of years ago have been taken from all over Sweden and brought to this beautiful site to recreate an old Swedish village to enable the visitors to see what Sweden was like hundreds of years ago.  You can visit the bakery, post office or coffee shop.  We took tons of photos and  then, of course, visited the  bakery/coffee shop.  (We had self-control with regards to the desserts.  I did splurge and add a sugar cube, however!)




One of my favorite surprises at Skansen was a beautiful garden overlooking the water and the city.  It was breathtaking and breath of fresh air at the same time.


The June flowers were in full bloom, the aroma was amazing, and the sky was clear blue.  We spent awhile in the garden and then turned the corner to see this…daytwo51…and the aroma started to change from the fragrance of flowers because just around the corner was the …zoo.


Yes, there were reindeer!  Poor thing was shedding it’s winter coat, so I’m sure it’s had better photo opps but it was so cool to see.daytwo31daytwo32daytwo33daytwo34daytwo41daytwo36daytwo40daytwo39daytwo38

The bears got in a little tussle and I was amused by the mama trying to rally her 3 cubs.  The little guy on the right just caught a fish.   So after the zoo, we continued walking on paths where we found more gardens, more animals (with a very vocal sheep as well as a very loud goose that reminded me of the goose in Charlotte’s Web), and more amazing scenes.




We left Skansen and were very thankful to find our bikes on the bike rack outside of the zoo.  There are tons of bikes everywhere in Sweden, and bike lanes that pedestrians, well…they best stay out of those, for sure!

bike So we rode the bikes on back into the city, and ended up leaving them on the square that would become one of my favorite spots throughout the week. (It’s beautiful, but I think part of the reason why I loved it so much was because I knew where it was.  It was a home base of sorts!)


We checked-in our bikes and then continued to see the city.  Austin showed me buildings where he had had meetings…bike5

And we continued to walk on the water’s edge.  There were huge antique ships, little boats, and seemingly everything in between.  We ended up taking a ferry back to the part of Stockholm where Aus lives.  bike9bike10bike11bike12bike13bike14bike15bike16bike18bike19

bike17After the ferry ride, we took a bus and were close to home.  I always felt thankful when I started to recognize things a bit.  I love exploring, the adventure of it all, but it’s nice at the end of the day, to get back to where you know you are.  bike23bike22

Couldn’t resist take a photo of this sign!

bike20bike24So, the day ended and we ended up back at Austin’s apartment ate dinner with the fun, thoughtful (and thought-provoking) amusing professors that he lives with.  Was a wonderful meal full of lots of conversation.  They realized that we had had a full day of using almost every possible form of transportation-walking, biking, riding a boat, a train, and a ferry, and could probably see that jet-lag was catching up with yours truly.  Even though the sun was shining , my body was definitely saying it was time to stop and rest.  It was around 10…because that sun shines long in Sweden.  My son was shining too, and I’m so thankful for my Aus who was willing to turn tour-guide and help me see parts of his world that I had never seen.  Yes, it was a good day and even though the sun was up, I slept  like a baby.

Well, that’s all for round one of the ten days.  I know there are a million photos and comments…thanks for bearing with me.  I just want to share to remember this time while it’s fresh and to share it with friends and family who could experience the time with Aus in a teeny tiny vicarious way.  So, round 2 will be coming in the next week or so.  Trust me, I have a kabillion photos or so, and still dishes to clean, laundry to fold, and a life to live here.  But it is so incredibly fun to be lifted out and put back in to the beauty, rest and encouragement of those ten days just by looking at some photos. Hope you catch some good glimpses of that beauty as well.

Blessings ~

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,

plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Thankful Thursday


Just got back in from seeing the sunset as my son (pre-drivers licensed son) drove us around town to run a few errands.  I sat in the passenger seat trying to encourage him to leave at least an inch or two for mailboxes, and practiced my breathing.  He’s my last of 6 children to teach how to drive, and well, let’s just say we need quite a few more hours of practice driving under his belt before he goes for his test.  But overall, we’re making progress because I didn’t feel quite so much the need to will the car to stay on the road and I was able to take some photos as we  (oops, I mean “he” ) drove.

The week had lots of highlights.  There was lots and lots of time well spent with four of my six children.  And do you know what some of my favorite moments were?  Coming into the kitchen and seeing all 4 of them sitting on the deck talking …for hours.  Yep, I’d say that’s time well spent.  Then they took goofy pictures and laughed. hopeandboys5

This next photo was taken when I had just finished talking with their brother in Sweden and shared some crazy news with them about some of his fun adventures…Here’s their reaction…hopeandboys1

….and then, here’s the traditional posed shot…


Hope and Josh got to catch up after not seeing each other for a long time…


Yep.  Thankful as all get out.  I also got to see my parents after not seeing them since Christmas, and that was time well spent as well. So fun.

There were some sweet surprises this week.  On the way back home from church, we saw a doe and a fawn…still had spots.  I was amazed at how tiny the little guy was, and he didn’t get more than a few inches away from his mother.  When I stopped to watch, they watched right back, and I was amazed at the lack of fear.  I even had time to grab my camera and take a photo.  deer

The mama doe sure looks proud and protective.  I know just how she feels…

So after the weekend, Monday was full of fun as we celebrated with students at school.  We had awards ceremonies and parties and celebrated victories. One of my favorite moments was when our therapy dog, Skye, granted us one last visit. She comes twice a month to my classroom for reading, but mainly, it’s for connection. So many of my students have some difficult backgrounds and are pretty emotionally detached.  Sweet Skye helps bridge those gaps for a lot of the students, but especially for one little guy. He hardly smiled, except when Skye was around, and he was totally engaged when reading to her.  So on this last day of school, he got to hug her and walk her one more time and we all were thankful for the time well spent. thankfulthurs22

The next day the staff corralled children and tried to keep them occupied which wasn’t easy without much structure in the day.  At 11:00 the teachers lined up and waved gleefully at the buses leaving the campus.  (Dare I say that some of the teachers even danced!!)  And then, we as a staff were off to…an entertainment center to celebrate as a team!  I almost missed out on the fun because my list of “to-dos” was longer than I could stand, but reluctantly went because this team of teachers and staff are a team worth celebrating with.  And I’m so glad I went.  We got to choose from bowling and putt-putt and laser tag, and I chose…laser tag!  Was so much fun I couldn’t stand it! And I came home and announced to my boys that we should all go as a family soon so I can show them my skills, ha!  They laughed so hard and seemed shocked that I’d choose laser tag over bowling or putt-putt. Not sure if I should be offended by that or not, but I’ll let it go for now.

I also got to hold a sweet little brand new baby boy. Has been a while since I’ve held a little one in my arms.  And, it so reminded me of all of the little movements and mannerisms that little ones have.  The sights, the sounds, the smells…nothing like a baby.  I got to hold the little guy for awhile, and when I gave him back found myself just thanking God that I got to be a mom for all those years with little ones in my arms and at my feet. They’re so grown up, now, but my heart and mind can go back to those days in a moment’s notice.  Sweet sweet memories.  Well, most of them, anyway!

So, the next day, Tan’s baseball game was cancelled and  I felt relieved that there was a little space in my day.  We (he) drove, and we ended up down at the Greenway for a walk.  It was absolutely beautiful, and so fun to spend time catching up with Tanner.

The sun was just going down and seemed to dance on the water.  Loved our time.  We even got to see one of his favorite teachers who also happens to be the mom of one of my older children’s friends.  Was so good to see her and catch up a bit. Yep, lots to be thankful for.

The next day, the game wasn’t cancelled and we got to enjoy a good game.  Well, actually, it might not be classified as a ‘good’ game cause we lost 16 to 2.  But boy oh boy did we cheer for those two runs, and every victory.  One of the little victories was a catch that Tan made out in left field!  (It was after missing two out there and when the ball started flying over shortstop my heart started praying like crazy that he’d make the catch.)  He made it and I said “Phew” and a grandmother sitting near me on the bleachers smiled a sweet smile at me and said, “I bet these kids prayer lives are getting pretty strong out there.”  Yep.  Probably so.  And probably their parents’ as well…Oh, and it was cool to hear, “You got this kid” when the “kid” saying it was my kid coaching his younger brother.  Chase is out there for every game helping the  team.  Love that. He’s the one in the photo holding the clipboard and giving me a goofy look.  I guess that’s what I get when I ask to take his picture…

So, that brings me to today, and the ride with Tan, and the conversations.  He and his teen-aged bearded scruffy self did pretty well driving.

We made it home. Another big “Phew” for sure.  At times it doesn’t feel like such a small miracle, especially when there are 6 cars behind you and your son seems to be looking at them in the rear view mirror more than he’s looking straight ahead.  Great analogy…not good to spend more time looking back than living in the moment of the day and moving forward.  Nope, not good at all, especially when the car seems to have a magnet drawn to all of those perfectly straight mailboxes centimeters away from an encounter with a moving vehicle. So, yes, more praying through things.  The little and the big.  Thankful God doesn’t discriminate between the two, but hears it all and says, “Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.”  Love, Love, Love that.  thankfulthurs23

So,  I have a heart of gratitude. Period.  For this moment, right here, right now, and those moments in the week when I’m so aware that life is a gift. Period. Sometimes the moments lead me to pray hard hard hard urgent prayers, and sometimes, they lead me to just thank God big time.  And sometimes, I just find myself clinging to the fact that I am clueless about the next minute ahead but thankful that God isn’t.  And that chases fears away…sometimes quickly, sometimes not. Amazing the catalysts for prayer like baseball and driving.  Praying that God will use the moments of our days to bless and build up and move forward.  Thankful that the ordinary is extraordinary when seen through eyes of faith knowing that we are not alone and not just our own. How big is that truth?  I don’t think that any of us can really grasp the enormity of that.  But thankful for the glimpses.

Well, I’ll close for now.  Thanks for sharing in my little stories of the week..

Blessings ~



“Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

Psalm 34:8


Lazy golden sun

in a periwinkle sky

Silhouette of trees

On a gentle road that winds

Breathing in the sights

Breathing once again

Thankful for the sights

On this day’s end

Never ceases to amaze me

the wonder of it all

The Creator of the sky

Is the Creator of the small

He Beckons with the sights

He Beckons with the sounds

Yes, creation speaks

And His glory resounds

Creation breathes

and this thankful heart just pounds

with praise

for the beauty

He has made.




purple flowers

Today…am thankful for…

…rain that comes in gently and leaves quietly, but leaves a trail of refreshment and rejuvenation.

I’m thankful for the way the rain revitalized the purple flowers that have bloomed all summer, but seemed a bit tired and in need of a lift…much like the one writing this blog.

I’m thankful for …

…the ability to walk in a store, buy the oil that my car needs, pay for it, drive away with it, and then ‘feed’ it to the car that has clearly let me know with red lights that it’s time for oil.  I’m  so thankful that after putting the oil in, the caution lights on the dash quietly disappeared.   Phew.  Relief.

I’m thankful for…

…the ability to work, and then the gift to be able to have time to rest at home, and then after a little rest, to “work” at home and do some of the little things that make a big difference in the days of those I love.

…quesadillas that are not only delicious, but also the fastest dinner to prepare ever.

…stories of people I meet every day, and the desire to hear them.

…pictures from the other side of the world that are worth a thousand words and bring so much joy and peace.

…an awareness that paths are chosen, but often so very preordained.  Thankful for those who have the ears to hear the One who is leading, and the joy that they have when they can see the way He’s prepared for them all along.

…thankful for creative touches and the way they bring joy to all types…girls in apartments, young men in their workshops, and young men traveling on trains overseas…creative outlets are gifts to be used and shared.  I’m thankful for the joy that happens when art is shared.

…for hugs from little ornery kindergarteners who are trying so hard to stay in line, but just can’t make their little bodies be still, and for the way their little faces light up when they see a smile smiling straight at them.

…for rescued baby squirrels and the lesson the kindergarteners (the same ones TRYing to stand still in line outside while waiting for the bus…) learned as they saw a mama squirrel rush down the tree and rescue the baby squirrel that fell.  I’m so thankful for little lessons that say that life matters.  It matters.  Those little five year olds “in line” knew the life of the baby squirrel matters.  They knew.  Life matters.

…thankful for a son that went to church yesterday and couldn’t wait to go to Young Life tonight.  Praying for open ears and hearts and for God to use these moments to help direct the paths of the youth who show up.  Praying that there’s unity and inclusion and hope for all there…that none feel like that little squirrel abandoned on the sidewalk.  And if any do feel that way? That there’d be someone who comes to rush in and rescue and love well.  LIfe matters. Every life. And how we treat each other matters.  It so matters.

…thankful for conviction and the desire to respond.  For lessons learned and grace that covers and makes me want to do better.

…thankful for the Word of God and how it convicts of sin and covers with grace all in one fair swoop….the key is eyes to see, a heart to confess, and an awareness of the incredible price that was paid.

…I’m thankful that God often comes like that gentle rain that came and left so quietly today. It didn’t leave without a trace, and God doesn’t either.  Thankful for refreshment that comes as I seek His Presence.  Thankful for the traces He leaves behind and the rejuvenation that He calls us to. Like a flower after a gentle rain, He refreshes and renews.

…thankful for “Thankful Thursdays” because it makes me think about the day and all of the amazing little moments in a day that are nothing but pure gifts.

Blessings ~

On this Thankful Thursday, my heart is so full.  We’ve had a full day…a last hurrah of sorts before the exodus of my children begins… Up early, turkey in the oven because even with this full day of family time white water rafting and kayaking and traveling, we have a surprise Christmas dinner (slash birthday dinner, slash Easter dinner, slash every holiday that my son will be missing in the next year as he is overseas and we are here…) So after the extreme fun and workouts at the National Whitewater rafting center in Charlotte, we came home to a house decorated for Christmas, with a turkey that was very well done, and mashed potatoes and ‘fixins’ prepared by my daughter and her friend and my oldest son.  All hands were helping to get things ready.  Even though the dinner wasn’t hot, it was delicious, and we had precious people around the table to enjoy it and then watch as Austin opened “Christmas gifts” from his family.  So thankful for little things that are big things.  So aware of how precious each little hug or laughter or tears are when you’re aware that transitions are just around the corner and you won’t have that time at the table or in the car or on the couch.  So, today, here’s my list of some of the many things I’m thankful for…

For Family.

For answered prayer.

For the God who answers prayer and is in the little and the big.

For interventions with good intentions and humbled responses.

For breakthroughs that come through listening and hearing, and speaking and sharing.

For adult “children” who are willing to get in there to laugh, hug, love, speak, share, and encourage one another to move towards the best rather than to settle with the status quo.

For little things that become the big things we remember when we’re not together.

For strong bodies and tenacious, determined minds that will the bodies to move when it’s not easy.

For the willingness to take huge leaps of faith.

For courage and the determination to “do it afraid”.

For second chances, forgiveness, and the truth that we are all in this together and need each other.

Thankful for a God who truly hears, answers, and so knows what He is doing.  He goes before us and behind.

For rest and soft pillows and the ability to slow down and just stop after pushing and working and dealing with details.

For the fact that for a few short days, I can have all of my children under one roof and look them in the eyes, hug them, and know that for right here, right now, everyone is safe and sound.

For the many worlds that my children are seeing and for how we get to vicariously see and experience them as they share about them.

For seven layer bars with chocolate chips and nuts and coconut and for the Grammie that prepared them.

For grandparents that love well.

For people getting in there with details like moving and packing and sharing trailers, and cleaning and the fact that we need each other…we really need each other.

For good byes that hurt so bad that dams burst that we didn’t even know were there and allow tears to fall that need to cleanse the heart of the vain attempts to not feel so daggone bad when we need to say good byes.

For siblings that truly do love each other and are still so who they were from the get go in their lives.

For feet that are about to go so many different places, but that know their way home.

For home…and the reality of the fact that home is more about the who than the what.

Thankful for the ‘whos” in my world, and the ‘whats’ that brings us together and help us to make memories that no one can take away.


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