1. salvation and God's grace--knowing the Lord intimately because He holds on to me
2. my husband--he's absolutely amazing. He just built the coolest play structure for our kids out of scrap lumber and it looks awesome! He loves me and does so much to express that love. He is an outstanding father--the best! He challenges me in my faith and is a great partner in life.
3. Rylee--she is so sweet. I love watching her grow. It always blesses me to see how her heart is absorbing the little things I try to teach her. Just yesterday she was telling Asa that the Bible says we shouldn't say "poopy" (a word they have picked up as funny, and we're trying to teach them it's not okay). She went on to explain that God says we should be loving and kind to one another.
4. Jenna--she is a hoot. Just scroll down below and you'll see a bit of her adorableness.
5. Asa--he is Joel as a mini-me. He looks like him and even acts like him in some ways. When he gives his adorable smile, my heart melts. Really, it melts inside me.
6. My family--they love me. They like to laugh and enjoy being together at the holidays. I miss them.
7. Joel's family--His parents taught him hard work and community. After 50 years of marriage they are still going strong. They pick and laugh and talk about old times.
8. the missionaries in Asia--their commitment to the Lord humbles me and challenges me
9. our church family here--God has blessed us with neat friends. some through GFA staff, others through our church. They encourage us, do life alongside us, love God, and make us laugh.
10. my house--I really like it. It's not anything spectacular, but it's ours. It's roomy and yet cozy. It's all one floor, which I love. We have a great backyard and our kitchen is now so great (goes back to my wonderful husband...he's so handy). I never imagined God letting us have such a great house for our family. We are so incredibly blessed!
okay 11. I have thought about this a lot lately. I am really grateful that I was born in America. I'm grateful that God allowed me to live where freedom is valued and fought for. I'm grateful that I can worship God without hindrance. I'm grateful that I can write this blog--about all the little or big things I think. I'm thankful for all the men and women who sacrificed their lives, their time, their comforts for me. I am so grateful that I have so much to be grateful for!
I actually did a toddler project recently. I made turkeys and the kids added feathers for the last week or so with things they're thankful for.
Asa is thankful for cheese noodles (what we had for dinner that night), his friends, The Ridge Church, his sisters, his daddy, his mama, Jesus giving love to us (that was actually his second feather and completely NOT initiated by me), Bhutan (another on his own!), and Piccolo, Cassie, Luke, Case, Daniel.
Jenna is thankful for Scooby, her Rowell blanket, the Rowells, her mama, her daddy, food to eat, her brother and sister, and lunch and apples. (Actually Jenna said "food" --or a food item--almost every single time we asked her.)
Rylee is thankful for Pooja (our Bridge of Hope child), Ms. Amy (her preschool teacher), Asa, her mama, Jenna, her daddy, Grandma and Papa, friends (the interns who came to our house), our food, the Carnines, Jesus, and The Ridge Church.
It was precious to hear their thoughts of Thanksgiving throughout the week. Some nights we missed it and would do multiple feathers other nights. It was a great way to teach them what Thanksgiving is all about. I think they got the point that it's a day of giving thanks!
Okay, here's the clip about Jenna's cuteness I promised above.
I really do have so many reasons to be thankful. We want this season of thanksgiving to continue in our home. We want to continue remembering God's goodness to us and then respond to Him. I think that's really what a walk with God is all about. After all, He starts it in us. He creates us, we respond. He blesses us, we respond. He saves us, we respond. Our life is just a response to Him--His existence, His care for us, His love for us.
Our church is taking part in Advent Conspiracy. You can check it out here. The bottom line is that we want to choose compassion over consumption. Choose to give. Sure, I can give my kids more toys, but that's really giving to myself. They can give me a gift, but it's really me giving myself a gift. There are missionaries in Asia who need warm clothes and tools to share the Gospel. There are families in Asia who need a way to make a living and we can provide that through a gift via Gospel for Asia's Gift Catalog. (Click here to learn more.) So, we want to give.
We aren't entirely sure what God is telling us to do this year. Several thoughts are on the table and we're waiting on the Lord. Do we match what we give to "ourselves" and give the same to missions? Do we give a first fruits offering of everything we receive as a gift? We're praying.
But, I have to say that while we're waiting to see what the Lord wants us to do, we've been talking a lot about the GFA gift catalog. (I'm also coordinating the childrens skit for our GFA staff Christmas party and it's about, in part, the gift catalog.) So, we've been talking a lot about animals (one of the many things you can give). Yesterday, we went to Ft. Worth to the stockyards.
There was a petting zoo. My kids got to pet a pig, a goat, a lamb, see rabbits, ride horses.... How awesome! It was a perfect opportunity to talk to them about what they'd like to give to the people in Asia! God is so good! (We actually went inside the pen at one point, but we were too busy to snap pictures.)
In any event, we're talking about giving around here. It's always a challenge. I could make a long list of my wants. My kids can too. But, what will really matter in the long run? I know I won't be impacted for eternity by any gift I get this year. But, those in Asia might. We hear stories of precious people coming to know Jesus because they received a lamb. Oh, I want to know I did something that really counts! I want to know more people will be in heaven in a few months because of what I did to celebrate Jesus coming to earth this year. Jesus gave. So should we.