Prayer

I am thankful:

~ for reaching 3 1/2 weeks with the puppies. 3 1/2 weeks means I get to move from the floor next to the puppy pen BACK INTO MY BED! The pups can nurse on schedule instead of on demand, and they are finally large enough for the larger puppy pen in the garage. I now just set an alarm to get up and let them nurse twice during the night instead of all night long. Yahoo! I treasure these precious hours in my comfy bed! Just a few more weeks and I’ll be able to sleep through the night again!

3 1/2 weeks also means the pups move to Stage 1 of sold food training. It’s messy and adorable. So fun to watch these sweet babies grow up.

~ for fresh flowers on my table.

~ and the reason for the fresh flowers; our Gold Network CONNECT support group. These courageous moms and dads are battle-worn and weary. But there’s something so special that sparks when shared trauma knits hearts together. People trust the others within the group with their big hurts. With their secret pain. We ate great food and laughed and cried together. It never ceases to amaze and inspire me that these couples go to the trouble of getting a babysitter for the evening and choose to use that evening of freedom to come to CONNECT. Some of them drive over an hour. Because the connection and fellowship and support really matter to them. Thank You Jesus for the ministry of Gold Network ETX, and the beauty You have brought from the ashes of so much pain.

I come tonight to ask for prayers for two of our precious families.

Our friend Trenn is 16, and he’s been in the hospital with severe cancer-related complications since November.

He is currently in the ICU literally battling for his life. Will you please pray for a miracle for Trenn? You can follow his journey and receive updates on his progress here; https://www.facebook.com/groups/424861166077314/permalink/661204522442976/?mibextid=re2LRg

And our friend Liam, a happy, handsome 9 year old cancer survivor, is facing a test that would overwhelm the mightiest of warriors.

The surgery that removed his cancer and saved his life back in 2017 left him with permanent nerve damage which has resulted in additional surgeries, leg braces, muscles atrophy, and excruciating sores.

The doctors and family have together agreed that the best option to improve Liam’s quality of life is to amputate his foot. When I first heard the news from Liam’s mama, I felt like the wind had been knocked from my body. BUT GOD. Instead of being scared and devastated, LIAM IS EXCITED! He is ready to finally be pain-free and can’t wait until he can get his prosthetic SO HE CAN PLAY FOOTBALL! Isn’t that the most incredible miracle?! But even with their faith deeply anchored and their inspirational attitudes, there is a long and challenging road ahead for this family. Will you please lift them in prayer? You can follow Liam’s story here: https://www.facebook.com/liamwilmeth?mibextid=LQQJ4d

I’m so grateful for this space, for the opportunity to share my heart and for your faithful support and encouragement. God is ever faithful. He is big enough for our fears, our doubts, and our questions.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”” (John 6:68-69)

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”” (Mark 9:24)

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalms 56:3-4)

Quietly Grateful

I am thankful:

~ for quite possibly the greatest milestone and the most breathtaking upgrade to our property to date:

A POTTY!

We have experienced varying degrees of ROUGHING IT over the last 8 months, and I could not be more grateful for this glorious convenience!

~ for the sweetest puppy eyes! They are growing every day.

~ for a special 15th birthday for our special Sam girl.

Samantha is such a joy. My right hand around the house, die-hard Cowboys fan with her Dad (boo for tonight’s game!), a sucker for EVERY Hallmark Channel romance, and in love with all things horse/country/cowgirl. It is incredible seeing her growing into the bright and beautiful young woman God has ordained her to be. She enjoyed her homemade cranberry orange muffin breakfast, Whataburger lunch, and crescent chicken, sweet potato fries with homemade ranch, and baked her own birthday cake: classic yellow with chocolate icing. Where did our little Stinky Girl go?

~ for another successful puzzle completion, this one a gift from Colton!

~ for a great opportunity for Cooper, sharing with middle schoolers during chapel as a part of his senior year internship.

~ for a really cool project underway with my wonderful husband. It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to work with our stash of gorgeous reclaimed wood, so I’m totally in love. And my sweetheart is so patient with me, and so talented at bringing my unconventional ideas and imaginings into reality. He’s amazing. I drive him nuts.

Just feeling quietly grateful these days. So thankful for this season. We are busy. We work hard. Our hands and our hearts are full. God is so good.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” (Psalms 5:11)

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalms 5:3)

Never Stop

I am thankful:

~ for one good week completed with Birdie’s sweet pups. If you’ve been here a while, you know puppy season is an intense one for me. It means round the clock observation, making sure everyone gets nursed and cleaned, and no one gets accidentally crushed. Birdie is a great mama, but she needs a little help with 10 pups! I sleep on the floor beside them for a full three weeks to make sure we don’t have any accidents. They are precious, but the commitment is no joke!

~ for Elsa noodle soup when my little missy was not feeling good. It was just what she needed! Who knew!?

~ for lots of laughs as I have gone round and round with some (nameless) members of my family who claim that I completely made up the concept of a colorful cake with a plastic baby baked in it. Sorry fam, I DID NOT concoct the tradition of the Mardi Gras King Cake! It’s really a thing!

~ for an awesome, HIGHLY ANTICIPATED, and LOOOONG AWAITED addition to the barn: a back door! So excited as this giant project continues to take shape.

~ for my sweet and thoughtful husband who SURPRISED ME by calling in dinner for me when he had to be out of town for work.

~ for Sawyer’s first basketball game. What a hoot! It’s his first time to play (as well as most of his teammates) and they are all learning as they go. So fun to watch him skipping up and down that court, playing his heart out. It never ceases to blow my mind to see Sawyer living a full and normal life after all he has been through and all the obstacles he has overcome. BUT GOD! God is so good. I will never stop praising Him for his mercy and protection; and I never stop testifying of the miracles I have witnessed with my own eyes.

It’s been a good week to count my blessings and rest in His goodness.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalms 143:8)

“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalms 106:1)

Present

I am thankful.

Like truly thankful.

I heard such an encouraging message this morning at church that both challenged and inspired me about living IN THE PRESENT.

Not looking back with longing or regret at what was or what might have been.

Not looking forward with qualifiers and unrealistic expectations that we keep hoping will finally fill the unfillable holes in us.

But loving and serving and living and obeying right where God has us today.

Releasing a past that we cannot change to a merciful, redemptive Father. And trusting a future that we cannot control to a lovingly sovereign Savior.

What if we really lived that way? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be crippled by looking back or paralyzed by imagining what’s around the corner?

So I give thanks…

~ for 10 healthy puppies.

~ for a successfully conquered new family puzzle.

~ for a beautiful wedding.

~ for sweet moments when the kids are enjoying each other.

~ for a delicious chicken salad.

~ for a silly little girl who always makes me laugh.

~ for a beautiful clear afternoon for building a fence with my love.

~ for a full quiver of children, a Christ-centered marriage, for the ability to dream and to work hard, and that we have everything we need (and then some).

The present is a beautiful place to be. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

(Want to listen to the sermon? https://youtube.com/channel/UCZiHTpRl7KvcXVpA8IUieHg)

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 33-34)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

Present

I am thankful.

Like truly thankful.

I heard such an encouraging message this morning at church that both challenged and inspired me about living IN THE PRESENT.

Not looking back with longing or regret at what was or what might have been.

Not looking forward with qualifiers and unrealistic expectations that we keep hoping will finally fill the unfillable holes in us.

But loving and serving and living and obeying right where God has us today.

Releasing a past that we cannot change to a merciful, redemptive Father. And trusting a future that we cannot control to a lovingly sovereign Savior.

What if we really lived that way? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be crippled by looking back or paralyzed by imagining what’s around the corner?

So I give thanks…

~ for 10 healthy puppies.

~ for a successfully conquered new family puzzle.

~ for a beautiful wedding.

~ for sweet moments when the kids are enjoying each other.

~ for a delicious chicken salad.

~ for a silly little girl who always makes me laugh.

~ for a beautiful clear afternoon for building a fence with my love.

~ for a full quiver of children, a Christ-centered marriage, for the ability to dream and to work hard, and that we have everything we need (and then some).

The present is a beautiful place to be. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

(Want to listen to the sermon? https://youtube.com/channel/UCZiHTpRl7KvcXVpA8IUieHg)

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 33-34)

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

New

I am thankful:

~ for a wonderful Christmas break, celebrating Jesus and enjoying our family traditions.

~ for a first-time-ever Christmas trip! We surprised the kids with a trip to a cabin in Branson, Missouri right after Christmas. We had never been before, so it was brand new for all of us. Sadly, our two oldest were not able to join us (growing up is tough!). And even though it was a 9 hour-one-way drive, we made incredible memories all along the way!

~ and to safely make it back home BEFORE Birdie has her pups (yep! Expecting ANY DAY NOW!)

We also made it back JUST IN TIME to host a dozen or so teenagers for New Year’s Eve out at the farm.

It’s been a good year.

A year of radical change.

A year of listening to the Lord and trusting where He is leading our family. A year of letting go of the expected and waiting expectantly for a new chapter to unfold.

A year of literally building a new life.

And now we stand upon a path laid out before us, and we say “YES!”

Yes, Lord, we will go. Yes, Lord, we trust You. Yes, Lord, we will lay down our plans, desires, dreams, and expectations and submit ourselves to YOUR PLAN ALONE.

This is not “our year.”

It’s His.

May we love like Him; forgive like Him; serve like Him. May we look more like Him at the close of 2023 than we do today.

Happy New Year, friends.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)

Peace

I am thankful:

~ for so many kind words, messages, and prayers after last week’s blog post. I know I’m not alone in dealing with anxiety, especially during the holidays. The range of emotions and the breakneck pace are a volatile combination. But God is so good.

~ for grace during the Christmas CRUNCH! Last minute shopping, searching frantically for the gifts I KNOW I BOUGHT but somehow can’t find (because I tucked them somewhere SO SAFE), the returns of the duplicates I bought to replace the gifts I couldn’t find (but then found🤪)…traffic that makes me need extra Jesus, and 10,364,292 Christmas activities/events/parties that are all scheduled back to back to back.

Kora’s Christmas Choir Concert
After Sawyer’s Christmas Play
Tatum K’s Christmas Pajama Party
Sawyer’s Christmas Pajama Party
AWESOME Annual Christmas with Strangers Concert
My sentiments exactly

~ for a fun road trip to celebrate Grandmommy’s birthday! Which also is the annual kickoff day for a favorite tradition: the 12 Days of Christmas! Grandmommy is so thoughtful and creative to come up with 12 gifts for our family, and we all have a blast singing the song each night and opening a new surprise! So grateful for such a special tradition.

Loved receiving this special window cling nativity, as it brought back a memory of years ago…
It had also been given as a 12 Days gift when Sawyer spent his first Christmas in the hospital during his cancer treatment
Hooray for pickles and okra!

~ for the incredible opportunity to make a special trip to Dallas representing Gold Network of East Texas for a long-awaited, IN PERSON check presentation. Each year we donate toward ongoing pediatric cancer research projects at Children’s Health/UTSouthwestern. The past two years we have helped fund research being conducted by one of Sawyer’s most beloved oncologists, Dr. Sam John, but hospital pandemic precaution protocols prevented us from donating in person. A virtual check presentation just isn’t the same. So it was priceless to actually make the trip to Dallas and reunite Sawyer the Warrior with Dr. John, look him in the eyes, and thank him for the important work he is doing.

2014
2016
2018
2020

And we always love the Hero’s Welcome Sawyer receives when he walks his old halls. These doctors and nurses are so very dear to us.

~ for a great trip for Josh and Cooper to watch the Carthage Bulldogs claim their 9th State Football Championship. The kids and I watched and cheered from home. Way to go, Bulldogs!

~ for lots of good progress and backbreaking hard work going on in and around the casita. Septic went in this week! Looking forward to a REAL POTTY soon!

~ for beautiful encouragement from our Father. It’s so easy to let “the season” sweep us away from the Truth. To get off track, lose heart, lose faith in people (and yourself), and see the ever-darkening darkness creeping in around us.

BUT GOD.

He was and is and always will be the Light of the World. He’s STILL HERE. There’s always HOPE. We will always have questions, but HE IS THE ANSWER. And not just in heaven, when this broken world has been made new. He is the answer RIGHT NOW. As long as we are breathing, we have work to do here: repentance to own, people to encourage, the gospel to share. He has peace and FULLNESS OF JOY for us on this earth, when we take His Hand and offer Him His rightful, Righteous place. Emmanuel, God with us.

May we seek Him.

May we find Him.

May we share Him.

I’m so grateful for you, friends.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1:21-23)

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said; “For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.” (Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Most Wonderful Time…or not

I am thankful:

~ for lots of sweet moments this week…

Out of nowhere. NOWHERE. For no reason at all, relentless waves of anxiety violently attacked. I felt fiery stabs through my heart and hundreds of pounds of weight pressing on my chest forcing the air out of my lungs. I couldn’t breathe. Silent tears began to well as the radio began to mock, “it’s the most won-der-ful tiiiiime of the yeeeeear…” And I knew even in that moment that I’m not alone in this. So many people are hurting and struggling right now. The sensory overload. Family drama. Money stress. Social anxiety. Loneliness. Loss. Anxiety sucks. PERIOD.

BUT GOD.

He truly is Emmanuel, God With Us.

EL ROI, the God Who Sees

Yahweh-Jireh, LORD will provide.

He is faithful in the good. He is faithful in the hard. He is faithful in that agonizing divide between the good and the hard.

Whether your week has been great or the best part of your week is knowing that it’s almost over, HE IS FAITHFUL.

Count your blessings.

Be somebody’s blessing.

And keep on trucking.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”” (Genesis 16:13)

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalms 119:114)

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24)

Big

I am thankful:

~ for a truly remarkable week! This week has been so full of BIG blessings and the tangible presence of God, my heart is truly BURSTING.

~ for a victory! We moved to our rental back in May, and ever since school started in August, when we left the house each morning we noticed a young man sitting in a chair outside his house, presumably waiting for his ride. Wanting to be neighborly, we would all wave. Every morning, he would turn his head away. Every. Day. I told the kids I was not giving up. I said, “Before the school year is up, that boy is going to like us!” So we kept waving. Every school morning for 4 months. And this week – HE SMILED,, and EVEN WAVED BACK!!!! We all cheered with joy and a couple of us softies shed a tear! It was just the coolest thing, and the perfect opportunity to remind them to never give up being kind. EVERYONE longs for kindness. And the Lord moved on our hearts and the heart of our NEW FRIEND with the Love of Jesus. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

~ for another miracle milestone: Sawyer the Warrior turned 9! I just can’t wrap my mind around it. We never dared dream of NINE.

BUT GOD.

Sawyer continues to beat every odd and amaze us with his quick wit, tender heart, and sparkling eyes. Sawyer started his day with a tower of 9 donuts (don’t worry, he didn’t eat them all),

special lunch with Mom and Dad and Tatum K (Whataburger of course),

passed out birthday snacks to his classmates (lovingly made from scratch by my good friend, Little Debbie).

His menu of choice was lasagna, garlic bread, and chocolate cake with orange buttercream icing, and we celebrated at the farm! It was 50° so we bundled up and served out of crockpots and ran the gas heater and had a blast! Thank You Jesus for the gift of this miracle boy and 9 beautiful years.

~ for finally catching the Christmas spirit and getting the house decorated. I usually struggle a bit during the holidays, and all the changes we have experienced over the last year seemed to add to my emotional overload. So I pulled out a few boxes at a time, and gradually added festive sparkle to our little abode. We cranked up the carols and watched Frosty and Home Alone (again), and now the place finally feels like the Ruckers-at-Christmas.

~ Bear and Birdie caught the Christmas bug as well, sending the excitement and probably some familiar smells from the old house. They eagerly watched when I showed them “their” ornaments,

and stayed by my side and underfoot every moment I was decorating. Bear especially seems to be captivated by the festive atmosphere.

~ for an amazing blessing for Gold Network ETX HEROES from some generous new friends in the community. NobiliTea and Haute Totz partnered to sponsor a Christmas Extravaganza for our 12 and under kiddos and their siblings, as well as a group of local foster families. Hot cocoa, Santa and Mrs. Claus, live reindeer, and a shopping spree were provided for each of the children. It was such a blessing to see all these deserving families enjoying themselves, laughing and visiting and just getting to be kids. So incredibly grateful.

~ and for a surprise blessing that Josh and I will never forget. If you know my husband, you know he has an intense phobia of heights. So his obligatory role in holiday decorating is laced with fear and loathing: putting Christmas lights on the house. But if you know my husband you also know that he would never, EVER consider paying to have that done. So he faces it every year, knowing how much the lights mean to the kids (and to me). This year, in a smaller single story home, he was pretty optimistic, so that was his task for Saturday morning. After organizing the strands of lights and the clips and figuring out his approach, he climbed up on the roof. He did one side of the house with no problem, but when he began to begin the pitch of the garage, he started to shut down. He (not very gracefully) dismounted, and came inside to tell me it wasn’t happening. At least not from on top of the roof. He’d have to get the extension ladder from the farm and just move it around the edges. So we left the lights and headed to the farm with the kids for a day of projects. We finished up, loaded up the ladder, picked up some pizzas, and headed home so he could finish up the lights. When we rounded the corner of our street, we couldn’t believe our eyes. OUR HOUSE WAS FULLY DECORATED, WITH FLAWLESSLY INSTALLED LIGHTS!

The ladder and supplies were neatly stacked next to the house. WHO could have done this!!??? We had no idea. We thought MAYBE our next door neighbor, who is exceptionally kind (and who had joked with Josh while he was out there struggling that morning) could have done it. Nope. Wasn’t him. But our neighbor said, “I saw your boy up there…”

Our boy?

No way.

So Josh called Cooper on speaker phone, and asked him if he knew who had hung our lights.

“Yeah, it was me. I thought it would be kinda funny if you came home and all the lights were up.”

We stood there in shock, staring at the lights, while he continued.

“I had no idea what I was doing, and I almost quit because it was way harder than I thought it would be. But I psyched myself up and I figured it out. Took me about 3 hours. Dad, it’s pretty bad, I can see why you don’t like getting up there! But I was glad I could do it for you.”

We just stood in the yard and cried. You just don’t expect an 18 year old kid to be thoughtful and self motivated. Cooper is a terrific kid, but he’s never done anything like that before. And the very Cooper-esque fact that he was honest that he “thought it would be funny” instead of having an underlying self-serving motive to impress us with a grand gesture showed his genuineness and humility in a way that truly knocked our socks off. To say we were blessed and proud as parents is the greatest of understatements. And of course, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Wow. Just WOW.

So very thankful for big blessings. We should always be on the lookout, tuning our eyes and our hearts to see the little blessings that are everywhere. But when those BIG BLESSINGS come, the ones that sweep you off your feet; the ones where Light is created by a Word and the Red Sea parts…those moments can jolt us out of our sleepwalk and thunder, “Be still and know that I am God.”

He’s really there.

He really sees.

He really cares.

And He’s really good.

In the small and the big. HE IS.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”” (Psalms 46:10)

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”

(Psalms 126:3)

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” (Psalms 40:3, 5)

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect…

I am thankful:

~ for a glorious week of lazy mornings, endless cups of coffee, stirring and mixing and baking. We even enjoyed an outdoor movie night with friends complete with campfire and hot cocoa!

But ok, let’s be real – it wasn’t all glorious. Teenagers were teenagers, kids got on each other’s nerves, on my nerves, and the kitchen looked like a war zone. But it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

~ for a wonderful, memorable Thanksgiving. The food was delicious and plentiful, and the company was rowdy and loud and jolly. We paused to reflect on Thanksgivings past, and shared hilarious and heartfelt stories from years gone by. We chicken danced in our chicken hats. It wasn’t all refined and Norman Rockwell-esque. It rained all day, we had to drastically modify Pumpkin Olympics, some folks were late, and some couldn’t come at all. Someone locked the kids out of the playhouse, and there were no sweet potatoes. But it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

~ for an awesome post-Thanksgiving huddle at our house to stuff our faces a second time with leftovers while cheering on the Carthage Bulldogs to a playoff victory. We ate and munched on delicious fried turkey and succulent glazed ham, and even sweet potatoes made it to the party. Family and old and new friends filled our little home, and we all had a ball. Not quite everyone was able to make it, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

We started the swap from fall decor to Christmas today. Everything is different from years’ past, and we are figuring it out as we go along. We don’t have the space we used to have, or the ability to DIY or modify anything. I get kind of grumpy and overwhelmed when faced with the seemingly monumental tasks before me (but remain too much of a control freak to delegate). PTSD and anxiety love to creep in (or clobber) unexpectedly, and rob the joy from the simple pleasures like watching the kids overflow with excitement as familiar decorations emerge from their boxes.

But I’m thankful for the reminder that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. We miss our loved ones who are gone while we hold tight the ones who are here another year. We wipe up the spilled cocoa and add a few more marshmallows to the cup. We eat the burned cookies and ignore the clumpy icing. We run endless errands in violent traffic and spend more money than we should even when we promised we’d stick to the budget this year. We’ll get the wrong size sweater or forget to make a vegan side dish for Aunt Fran and forget the White Elephant gift for the party.

But Jesus still came.

He left His perfect home with His perfect Father to come down to this broken world.

He came to a terrified teenager in a filthy barn, to a people who didn’t recognize or appreciate Him.

Yet He came.

He came and He stayed and He taught and He healed and He LOVED.

And then He willingly sacrificed Himself for our sins, the sins of then and the sins of now and all the sins yet to be.

Imperfect life.

Perfectly beautiful Savior.

Lord, give us eyes and hearts to see YOU in the midst of the mayhem we create.

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20)

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12)