Thankful Thurday #10

Happy Thursday friends! I have been having a blast challenging myself to respond to most of your comments. Truth be known, I have always been an introvert. Not shy, just quiet. Throw me up in front of a room full of people and I can entertain for hours; ask me to go around a room full of people and make conversation, and I suddenly have no idea what to say, feel overwhelmed and quiet. So, point being, I am learning how to small talk and to get to know people over this little thing called a blog. Yes! Thank you! Seriously, thank you for coming by.

 #112 Beaters. Cookie Dough. Enough Said.
 #113 My Husband. He's such a good daddy to our kiddos. Also, the first "World's Greatest Dad" sticker that officially welcomed us into the dorky parents club (because don't you know, all parents who proudly sport their kids #1 Dad and World's Greatest Dad gifts on Father's Day are dorky?! Sorry if I just burst your bubble, but you should know right now that dorky pretty much goes with the whole parenting thing. Ha!). Upon reading the sticker and asking Addy who was the World's Greatest Dad, she, without an ounce of hestitation, proudly proclaimed, "MY Dad!" 
 #114 The smell of fresh bark at the playground.
 #115 Walking hand in hand.
 #116 Frankenstein Toddles
 #117 Brother and Sister. Playing Together.
 #118 My outfit. Pin Stripe skirt, a comfy t-shirt, and leopard print shoes. When I asked my husband if it worked, he said it looked like I belonged in a music video to a song like "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." So, naturally, I wore it. Silly, perhaps, but it made me happy to be my own quirky self in my own quirky outfit. Because really, girls just want to have fun! :)
 #119 Addy wanting to read one of my Bibles... without pictures, right along with me. Makes my heart happy to think of all the things she was saying while she was "reading"


Thankful Thursday #9

Good Morning!

{Have you entered the giveaway yet? It ends June 17th. Go. Enter. :) If you don't understand how to enter, it's as simple as leaving a comment in the comment box below the giveaway.}

#98 These words: "It seems like you had a long day so I brought you home these [holds up klondike bars]"
#99 Seeing just how different Mike and I can be in something simple like wrappers. I do not understand why he neatly folds his wrapper, probably never will... but he does, and I love him, and I love how surprising life is when you get to spend it with someone who does not think or do just like you.
 #100 Jed at the dinner table (The camera missed it, but he totally had his feet kicked up on the table.)
 #101 Jed's first mail. A birthday card from Gigi.
 #102 Enough laundry to "require" a movie to watch while I fold.
 #103 Addy sharing her strawberry with her Nami and Uncle Jono. :)
 #104 This face. Also the way his hair brown hair is gold in the sunshine.
 #105 The girl that always wants snuggles

Did you see that ginormous pile of laundry?? Yeah. I have 2 more loads to add to that and then will be folding it all. I better get to it.


Thankful Thursday #8

Happy Thursday Friends!

If you haven't had a chance, do enter the giveaway. Nothing would make me happier than to give away a homemade journal, the book I keep talking about (not to mention inspired the Thursday posts), and a coffee card to one of you! I seriously appreciate YOU! Your encouragement keeps me going. THANK YOU!

I have been doing a lot of praying and searching, and this blog may be taking a shift soon. I want to be less "me" focused and more "us" focused... like a community of women who want to live full and purposeful lives but struggle sometimes. Because, really, I don't have the answers, and I do struggle, and I need other women alongside me encouraging me that I can do it, and maybe you do too. I am still praying for direction. Consider praying with me? I truly believe God has put words in my heart to write and I believe they are for more than just me. I just feel like I am on a journey of discovering my niche and my voice. I would love to hear your thoughts especially on this community idea if you have got any!

#88 When my sister brings gifts from the dollar store.

#89 Baby Toddles and a cookie for each hand (Yep he's walking!!!)

#90 These words

 #91 Looking up at a branch full of cherries

#92 Hollyhocks... or more like how happy they make my mom.

#93 The way my dad keeps the blueberries on the bush so he can snack while he gardens. I think it's one of the reasons my daughter likes gardening with papa so much.

#94 Strawberry Mustaches

 #95 The way Jed sat and played quietly at my feet during church, reminded me of my brother. Oh and for the back of overalls... they made it easy to grab him when he would try to take off exploring.
I forgot to mention... in case you notice, there is a skip in the numbers from the last post to this post because I am also counting in my JOY! Journal. There will hopefully be a skip in the numbers in each Thankful Thursday post from now on.

Favorite moment from the week: #87 The gift of being able to explain to my 3 year old that we all make mistakes, but when we make mistakes we need to ask for help instead of trying to hide our mistake. Profound and deep concept, and even though it involved some tough-love discipline and a super messy bathroom (like someone should have cued Pycho's theme music bad), being able to explain that hard concept to a listening 3 year old was priceless. One of those "I am a mom and I do important things" moments.

What is one favorite moment from your week?

Wishing you all a wonderful day and a grace FULL heart!

Thankful Thursday #7

This week I have been making good use of the practice of gratitude and it is paying off. I have been taking pictures, AND scribbling down notes in my Joy Journal. Joy and peace have been mine! (And not because everything is all perfect here... this momma had to pull a tick out of her baby girl's head and battle some "slapped cheek" disease). I even tried applying the whole gratitude thing to my marriage. Mike and I have been fighting much more regularly, I think just from him being gone so much. I decided to intentionally thank him for everything on our love notes board (in my organization station), text him and send him voice mails... thank you for taking out the trash, thank you for unloading the dishwasher, thank you for all your hard work, plus a couple "hey baby you're sexy" notes. I feel better just remembering how much he does, and he does better feeling appreciated. Plus, he remembers to tell me how much he appreciates me. This whole gratitude thing really can change a life, a family, and a marriage!

 #57 The smell and sound of valley oak leaves beneath my feet.

#58 The way a thistle can be even more beautiful when it's found amongst dead grass

#60 My sanctuary

#61 Pink Princess Shoes

#62 The girls who are going places

#63 Hay in the background... just something about the sight and smell of hay bails

#64 Balcony seating for 4

#65 The way a momma can love this face just as much as the happy faces. Grace. Love.

#66 Beautiful sights... the curls of brittle browned ivy around the barbed fence.

#67 Her excitement for friends and her first (non-family) birthday party... but still needing to bring Dawson IN the carseat with her.

#68 The company of this boy, bubbles and the morning sun during my prayer time.

#69 Addy wanting to play school. She's the teacher (in only her underwear) theatrically teaching me about bugs, "It's a hooded praying mantis. A poison praying mantis in the whole wide world. It's SO STRONG. And SO BEAUTIFUL!" Raises arm and twirls in dramatic fashion, plastic praying mantis in hand.

#70 The 5 fleeting and precious seconds this adventure-spirited boy offers his mother before he is off and climbing the heights of the chair (and making his mother's heart stop.)

Heart is full of gratitude!
Hope yours is too!

Thankful Thursday #6

This week has been busy. I am feeling a bit swamped... no really, like one must wade through a pile of papers to get to the computer, a pile of laundry to sit on the couch, and a slew of toys to get, well, anywhere in this house. Welcome to the Swampland! My name is Amanda and I will be your tour guide. I will guide you through the thick of this marshy laundry pile. Do watch out for plastic dinosaurs and various miniature farm animals lurking beneath the surface. They've been known inflict great pain upon your toes...

(Yeah, it's late as I type this. I am a little weird. Hopefully, I am entertaining if nothing else... fingers crossed. ha!)

Needless to say, my thankful list is short. Mostly because I don't have the time to edit many pictures. I know you're understanding :)

#49 Eyes to see a teeny-tiny praying mantis nymph... and the wonder of a child at it.

#50 Watching a serious-faced little girl inhale the sweet goodness of fragrant little blossoms
 #51 Cherry juice lipstick
 #53 The way a carwash can create an intimate family moment... and monkey faces too.
 #54 The look of anticipation before I "get him" and the look of joy after I "get him."
#55 The simple fun of peek-a-boo and the way it never gets boring to a little boy :)

#56 3-year-old prayers. Addy's made-up mumble words when she prays and knowing God understands her heart.  (No picture but I wanted to share it. It was one of those "wow, I am doing something right as a parent" moments. Those need to be written down for the rough days. My little girl prays, and she loves to pray! Why? Because I started letting her sit with me when I pray... and started praying out loud in my car when I drive. I may want to be selfish and keep that time all to myself, but getting to listen to her prayers is a GOOD gift. I've taught her to pray! Heart Is Singing!)

Happy Thursday Friends :)


Thankful Thursday #4

#30 Sunsets in clear skies

#31 Life friends- even though we may not live close to each other or speak often, we are always able to pick up right where we left off as though no time had passed. Oh and for hikes and friends that will help you carry your child.

#32 Mike's random days off. Few and far between, but oh how we savor them when it happens.

#33 The little girl who takes her own path.

#34 Not only did make God big, beautiful, and bright flowers, He also made teeny-tiny, intricately-wrought flowers. I am in amazement.

#35 Man. While this girl stops and smells the flowers, this man gets out his knife and sees how fast he can cut them down. I am in amazement at how different the two sexes are.

#36 The 20 minutes of entertainment this little guy provided.

#37 Papa's helper

#38 The moment she started goofing off and got her Papa wet.

#39 Truck bed sand box? Who needs a sand box when Papa's truck has a pile of sand in it (for his garden)?!

#40 My grandma. And the chance for my kids to get to know her. Also, her fried chicken and biscuits and gravy.

Wishing you all a wonderful end to your weeks and many things to be thankful for.

Thankful Thursday #3

Yesterday, I embarked upon my last year before I turn 30. For some reason it feels like I just got diagnosed with some illness and have a year to live. I am finding myself wanting to go on bucket-list adventures, my procrastinated attempt to get all my living in before 30. NO AMANDA life does not end at 30!!! I would just like to formally apologize for all my careless encouragement to all the friends who have gone before me in this growing older journey: "29 and feeling fine" and "one year before 30 flirty and thriving," I so don't feel "fine" and definitely not flirty. Oh well, another year. I will eat my words and just be thankful. Another year of life! Thank you God for another year of life: of wildflowers, baby toddles, neck squeezes, back rubs, chocolate, and friendship... LIFE! Another year of it! Hooray!

After all the messes of last week, this week was pretty blah... and I mean that in a really good way!

I am grateful for...

Grandpas and grandkids on front porches,

3 year old conversations with a wise grandpa,

Rusty old farm equipment resting in green grass, 

My dad's love for gardening... and whatever a "hot dog" is... it just simply has to grow into something wonderful with a name like that,

 Easy preschool time on the bathroom mirror and the little girl who can create a person out of shapes,

 Fresh crayons with sharp tips and paper covers still intact,

 peek-a-boo happiness around the high chair,

 and funny scrunchy faces,

the little girl who exclaimed to her dad, "Look at my BU-tiful flower bow, Dad!" "I need to take a picture of it!" Awe! She's trying to create stuff with measuring tape and take pictures of it... she's trying to be like me!
Photo courtesy of Addy.

 and the little girl who has no problem acting silly with me!

AHHH! Sorry if I scared ya! That's a pretty intense face. Sometimes ya just gotta get on the floor with your kids, throw your hair up, bug out your eyes, and yell.

Happy Day to you friends!


Thankful Thurday #2

This week...

was a little harder to find the gifts God has for me. I took off on a Beauty hunt (i.e. car ride and then because that didn't quite improve the anger/yelling I kept feeling rising up in this tired housewife, I took a walk as well). I had plenty of chances to find joy in messes... because, well, my home is a mess and my kids have been great mess-makers (in a serious way) this week!

Needless to say I have lots of pictures... because this girl had a lot of things that she needed to be thankful through!

The gift of Thistle, delicate flower seeking the sunlight's grace amongst it's many thorns.

The gift of exotic flowers flowers, reaching above the trellis, seeking open air and opening full in the sun.

 The gift of an empty chair parked next to the sidewalk, determination to be a friendly neighbor.

The gift of convenience and ingenious ideas that make a mom's life a little easier.

The gift of eyes like watery jewels complemented by rosy cheeks and painted pink nails (also love the little bit of yogurt still on the corner of her mouth... one can only be so dainty).

The gift of carpet warmed by the sun and the little boy playing with his ball on it.

The gift of orange juice: room temperature, fresh squeezed, and full of pulp.

The gift of being needed... the two chubby little hands that cling to my pants legs... he needs me, wants me... to be able to walk. How soon this will change!

The gift of an army-crawling, little man on a mission. Covert operations from a double-wide diaper butt.

The gift of my own little, curious, fairy-dust dumper. (She found the baby powder, got curious, and sprinkled dumped it everywhere.)

The gift of a big glumps of pink, princess, sparkle toothpaste left on the counter... evidence of a big-little girl who likes to brush her teeth (and so glad she actually likes brushing her teeth)

The gift of speedy little boys who keep mom's heart rate up. (I strapped him in for diaper change, changed the diaper, realized I had forgotten the onesie, ran to grab it from the dryer--not far at all--and returned a few seconds later to find him happily out of the strap, standing up, and playing with the little light on the wall. Thank you Lord for keeping him from falling! And in case you are wondering, no, I did not leave him like this to grab my camera!)

The gift of the little mess maker peeking out from the long line of toys he's been busy playing with.

Anyone else have to figure out how to give God thanks in their messes this week??

Wishing you wonderful weekends!

Thankful Thursday #1

Welcome to the very first Thankful Thursday posting ever!

This is a challenge to myself after reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. If you have been on my site recently, you've probably noticed... the truth found in that book has changed my life! I can't help but continuously refer back to it. Do check it out! Or if you want to check into some of the truths found in the book right now, check out Ann Voskamp's blog.

More than a list, more than a task to do, more than the next latest and greatest thing in the Christian world... this girl wants to live a full life. This girl wants to have Joy. This girl has found herself feeling exhausted, completely spent, grumpy, and yelling. I so don't want to be that sort of wife or mom. I know that supposedly Christ died so that I might "have life, and life abundantly." But I so am not feeling the abundance.

So, I am stopping throughout my days. Watching. Paying attention. Finding the gifts that God gives, the beauty I am surrounded with, the fleeting preciousness in my small ones. I have started an ongoing conversation with God that is full of gratitude and wonder in stead of "I want.. I need..."

It is changing my life. Slowing me down. When I feel stress build in me and I begin to yell over the dumbest of things, I stop and I look.

Where are you God in this moment?

And I always find Him too.

I caught the truth of this Great Gift Search one night while driving to my in-laws. I was running late. It had been a long day. Jed was especially fussy. Addy was especially obnoxious. I was stressed. And then I saw it. The faintest, tiniest hint of a rainbow just barely peeking it's head out from under the cover of the horizon. I decided to consciously thank God for it. I told Addy about it, but she couldn't see it. So I did something I never do, least of all when I have somewhere I have to be. I stopped. I got Addy out of the car. We looked at the rainbow on the side of that country road. She couldn't spot it, so I grabbed my phone to take a picture of it so I could point out the rainbow right there on the screen. We out loud thanked God for rainbows. I can't put it into words but something in me changed at that moment. Gratitude entered my stress-riden heart. It took worry, disbelief, selfishness, pride, anger off of the saddle and put God back over my heart. Peace and Joy--the beautiful fruit of a life lived trusting God. And Addy still talks about that tiny rainbow that never made it across the sky. Addy found God in that moment too.

It might sound strange, but I have found an overwhelming joy in grabbing my camera and trying to capture Beauty with it. I am not a great photographer. I know very little about what makes a good picture and even less about how to take one. I have a great family camera (Canon Power Shot SX120IS if you are curious), but it is by no means a "professional" camera. This blogging wordsmith could totally grab a pen and paper and write down her gratitude in a journal, but for whatever reason, attempting to angle a shot, pushing the zoom button, adjusting the ISO and shutter speed, is fun, soothing, and gives me Joy. It makes me step outside, step away from dishes, pull over the car, pause and worship with... a camera. Strange. No out-stretched arms or music involved.

But it is worship. And no, not of things, not of the created, but of the Creator. I see Him. I commune with Him. And He feels my tired mother-heart with strength.

I feel like Moses looking up and catching a glimpse of God's walking by. I am a poet-painter and as close as I can get to beholding God, grasping Him in a picture.

When I sit down to edit the pictures, Addy loves to crawl up in my lap and have me explain each picture. Even her 3-year-old heart is hungry for Beauty, hungry to know God. I have loved the chance to tell her about Him.

So, there you have it.

Thankful Thursday.

My chance to stop and frame a glorious God-given moment. (They may not always be pretty for I want to see God in the hard moments too.)

My challenge to allow God to change me. To live a full life.

Here and now.

The gift of a setting sun setting a rain-drenched pine on fire.

The gift raindrops on trees, crystal adornments, garlanding a tree in royal splendor.

The gift of a gnarled tree against a silhouetted Mt. Diablo.

The gift of the sound of a thousand honking geese flying home in the warming weather... and not feeling a drop of poo. (If you read this post you would know why I am thankful for this, lol) (This is just one of at least 30 formations that flew overhead at one time... amazing!)

The gift of that handsome cowlick in the warm sunshine and enough hair to spike it up. (By the way, as a warning this cowlick could be a reoccurring theme. I don't know what it is about a cowlick on a little boy, but I just adore it. Ever time I notice it, I can't help but smother that face in mommy-kisses.)

The gift of already, all-boy mischief at almost 10 months. How quickly he was able to army crawl his way into the bathroom and begin throwing items into the toilet! I wish I could have captured the look on his face when I found him... mischievous, boyish grin. (By the way, just in choosing to see this moment as a gift, it melted the really-now-I-get-to-fish-stuff-out-of-the-toilet-on-top-of-everthing-else-I-have-done moment I could have had. It brought me Joy instead of stress... Peace rather than frustration... all because I was thankful for it.)

Thanks for stopping by Thankful Thursday. If you are doing something similar or want to do something similar (on a blog, putting pictures in a folder on facebook or just writing something down in a journal, do tell me about it in the comments or on my facebook timeline. I would love to be connected with some other people on this life-changing journey)