Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas/Winter Tag ✽ Only Two More Weeks Til Christmas!





How are we so close to Christmas?! I'm enjoying the season, but feel like it's been really short... I'm glad it happens every year ;).

I'm here to fill out the Christmas/Winter Tag started by Belise from Sparkle for Jesus, thanks to Maddy from Little Bit of Sunshine!

The rules:

Thank The Person Who Tagged You.

Thank you again, Maddy! This looks like so much fun!

Answer The Questions And Tag At Least Three Other People.

1. DO YOU CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS?
Yes :)! I love the time to remember our Savior's gift of love to us, the chance to spoil those around me with some extra love, the cozy smells and sights, and the time together to do things (such as look at Christmas lights) that you can't do the rest of the year! We celebrate Advent every year, and read Christmas books together, and watch Christmas movies and drink lots of hot chocolate ;). I love Christmas!
2. DO YOU CELEBRATE ANY OTHER FESTIVE HOLIDAYS OTHER THAN CHRISTMAS OR IN ADDITION TO?
Our family celebrates St. Nicholas Day each year. We make a special breakfast, open a few gifts, read about the legend of St. Nicholas, and either go to the zoo and look at the lights there, or make some hot chocolate and take a drive around the nearby neighborhoods and look at the house lights. VA's lights are awesome... everybody goes all out for the "Tacky Light Drive", and the involved neighborhoods are SO bright and colorful at night! This was our substitute for the zoo while in VA, but we enjoyed it so much that we decided to do it here, as well, after we moved back to SC... the first attempt was a laughable disaster, haha. Let it suffice to say, we went too early in the season... but besides that, an entire. neighborhood. lost power as we got to it (of course one of the ones that was supposed to be really good). Hahaha! We went again later that season, and it went much better, so we tried again this year, and had a really fun time!

3. WHEN IT COMES TO WEATHER, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 1O DEGREES?
Ehhhhh...  well, 70 degrees does NOT feel like Christmas. But if it gets too cold, I freeze, because I'm cold in the summer anyway half the time, and my family just stares at me in disbelieve when I randomly shiver. So, maybe 60-30 degrees? Because starting at 30 we get our small chance of snow ;). One year (2009?) it snowed 8 inches here in SC... that was a red-letter year for us, haha!

4. RAIN OR SNOW?
Snoooooowwwww. My Gramma got snow while we got rain the other day, and rain in summer and spring is beautiful, soothing, and delightful... but rain falling on the month's dead leaves and making everything brown soggy just makes me sad. Snow is so much prettier at this time of year! And we take fun snow days when it falls, since that's so seldom, so that adds to the appeal ;). 

5. ON THE PERFECT WINTER DAY, WOULD YOU GO SHOPPING OR STAY HOME?
"Winter Day" to me implies blankets, hot chocolate, a book, some knitting, and soups, whether snow is involved or not. So obviously, I would choose to stay home, haha!

6. TRIP TO THE MALL OR WALK IN THE PARK?
I've been to the mall once in the past 18 months or more, haha! I would definitely choose a walk in the park, with people I love and good conversation! (You really can't hear each other in a mall...)

7. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE?
Don't make me choose. I can't.... Lol. I like "It's a Wonderful Life", and "The Fourth Wise Man" (though sometimes we save that for closer to Resurrection), and "The Christmas Shoes" still makes me cry. The "Muppets Christmas Carol" also holds a very special part in our traditions, as it's been our Christmas Eve movie for as long as I can remember. And VeggieTales "The Star of Christmas"... haha!

8. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITION?
Y'all, I can't choose for this one either! The first night of Advent? Meeting up with family? Walking the zoo? Making Christmas candies? Actually, that tradition really sped by last year. There are so many of us working on them now, that it doesn't take long for all the treats to be knocked out... kind of like when we went apple picking last year, and because there are so many of us, we had picked a many as we could use within ten to fifteen minutes. It was sad, haha.
9. WOULD YOU RATHER SAY "HAPPY HOLIDAYS!" OR "MERRY CHRISTMAS!"
I'm laughing right now because we just watched "Christmas With a Capital C" last night, while we stayed up and ate ice cream until I was shivering, per tradition, and yeah. Lol. I say Merry Christmas, and I hear the chair rant from this movie every.time. I hear Happy Holidays ;).

10. WHAT DOES YOUR CHRISTMAS MORNING LOOK LIKE?
We get up and eat cinnamon rolls while we watch a documentary on the Christmas Story together. The rest of the day is then spent making dinner and opening presents, because we typically open the gifts one at a time, youngest to oldest, in rounds... and that takes... a lot of time, hahaha!!! But it's really fun to get to experience it with each person, rather than rushing through it thinking only about yourself ;).

11. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG/CAROL?
I love so many Christmas Songs... "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel", "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", "Once in Royal David's City", "Angels We have Heard on High"... but my favorite might be one we listen to from Todd Agnew's "Do you See What I See" CD (the one we listen to while putting up the tree), "In the First Light"...

"In the first light of a new day no one knew he had arrived
Things continued as they had been while a newborn softly cried
But the heavens wrapped in wonder knew the meaning of his birth
In the weakness of a baby they knew God had come to earth

As his mother held him closely it was hard to understand
That her baby, not yet speaking, was the word of God to man
He would tell them of his kingdom but their hearts would not believe
They would hate him and in anger they would nail him to a tree

But the sadness would be broken as the song of life arose
And the firstborn of creation would ascend and take his throne
He had left it to redeem us but before his life began
He knew he'd come back, not as a baby, but as the Lord of every man

Hear the angels as they're singing on the morning of his birth
But how much greater will our song be when he comes again to earth
Hear the angels as they're singing on the morning of his birth
But how much greater will our song be when he comes to rule the earth!"

Have you noticed I'm not that great at choosing favorites yet? Cause yeah, I'm not. 

12. HOT COCOA, PEPPERMINT TEA, PEPPERMINT MOCHA, PEPPERMINT MILKSHAKE? 
None, thanks. *sips the hot chocolate that I made specifically for doing this Christmas Tag.* Did you know Hot Cocoa is made with water and Hot Chocolate with milk? I think I might actually have like peppermint tea when I was younger, but I don't remember it very well, actually. Never had the other "peppermints", and I really don't care for "true" cocoa very much unless there's marshmallows.
 I'd like to tag my sister Tori from The Book Wyrm (!!!), Ashley from Precious Moments, and Grace Anne from Totally Graced to do the Christmas/Winter Tag next :)! It's so fun to see all the different answers and hear about everybody's different traditions and favorite moments!

(I just at this moment received another order for the music chalkboard in my shop. Again. I've got 4 going out this week... anyone else want one while I'm at it ;)? Lots of music lovers are getting a great gift this Christmas, if I do say so myself ;)...)


Bethi as she puts Noah to sleep: *plays really brisk, happy music*
Me: "Bethi, try something SOOTHING, like 'Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel" or something. It worked for me last time." *gives her a couple other options to choose from, because it always takes me two songs to see him asleep*
Bethi, 3 times in a row on different occasions: "Didn't work. He didn't go to sleep until I turned on (insert some brisk, happy song or another again)"
Me as I was finishing up this blog post: *turns on one instrumental version of "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel"... then another*
Noah: *asleep beside me before the second is over*
Love that silly guy <3. But why?! Lol! Personally, I think Bethi gets restless during the more soothing songs, and it keeps him awake, haha...

Have you filled out this tag? Share the link with me! What would the perfect snow day hold for you? What did you think of Tori's new blog :)?!??!?!! Go follow her for the best sarcastic jokes slipped in in the most natural way. It's wonderful.

Friday, December 8, 2017

November Review ✽ Hello December!

Happenings:

-Josiah composed some music...



-Tori invited Bethi, Andrew and I to join her in a three month bible reading challenge. Then Abbi invited herself ;) (and has done better than I have keeping up :P). I'm loving going through the bible from cover to cover again, and always enjoy it more when I have some accountability. Which I need just now, because. I am so behind. BUT, at least I'm reading far more than I was the couple months before! Just not as fast as my sibs, haha. I'll get there...

-As an extra Reformation day activity, we colored/designed illuminated letters, and wrote some poems (inspired by Martin Luther's penning of songs such as "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" ;).

-Daddy's family came to visit. Things are so loud, and hilarious, and memory filled when we all get together. Some of us laugh for days over the predicaments we get into trying to carry on four conversations at once. We had a pizza party, and the little boys gave a fashion show, since they were given some new clothes ;).

-I decided to do the GiveThanksx7 challenge that wasn't being held, in my journal. I was disappointed that it wasn't up this year, but knew that I woudn't have had time to really be involved this year, so it would work out better anyway... I ended up journaling 11 times and blogging 5, so, yeahhhhh, I'm betting that I would have been terribly uninvolved in an actual event this year, since I would have felt I had to make time to interact too. It worked out for the best, I suppose. But even the few days I was able to fit in were such a blessing to me, and I am so thankful for the encouragement to make time for this activity that even just having done it past years set up!

-The blog got a new design. And, according to my about page, I went from 18 to 20 overnight. Hi, I have aging super powers. (Or would that be the opposite, because if I age twice as fast as the rest of you, that might actually mean I was ill? I don't know. I guess it depends on if it ends after I'm an adult but before I'm actually old or not.)

-Mama made some curtains for our room, and I got adorable sheets that match the new spread we got this year, and I love it <3. Now, our closet door needs repaired, and I can finally hang up the picture frame I've been saving as the crowning finishing touch since before we moved in last year, hahaha!

-I got my new glasses <3!!! I love the frames, I'm still adjusting to the totally new prescription. So, we'll see. At least I'm not sick; I know a lot of people can get headaches and nausea from switching glasses, and I've actually never had that except the one time they actually messed my glasses up, so I am thankful for that!




-We had a Christmas decorating, family-only party ;). I loooove getting out the tree and seeing all the lights, and sipping hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music... Lots of Christmas music. It playing daily over here. I love it <3.

-We celebrated Thanksgiving with one child sick to their stomach, one child who's foot ended up bruised when a chair was set on it, and a washer that needed repaired. Despite these unexpected and tragically comic, the day was a great reminder to count blessings, and then ended on a really sweet note as we gathered in the living room to decorate the tree.

-We had our Christmas party with my Mama's family. It was wonderful <3. And we went to see the lights at the zoo with them. Not many animals are up that late at night, but it seems most years there is one animal exhibit that we find something interesting about. This year it was the bears; they were asleep literally RIGHT up against the glass, and they were so fluffy and furry and soft, I admit I wanted to pet one SOOOOOOO bad!!! I made sure Josiah got to see it, because he's still secretly best buds with "Popcorn". We looked at them for a couple minutes, and then as we walked away, Josiah told me he still liked Popcorn better. "I like Popcorn, too, but it was fun to see the real bears like Popcorn so close, wasn't it!?" I answered.
"Yes," he agreed... "...and scary." Poor thing!
By the way, I say secretly best buds, because loving a toy as much as he loves Popcorn is apparently deemed weak in his mind. Last night we went to look at Christmas lights, and the little girls and Noah each brought their special toy with them. Peter forgot his bear until we were all in the car and beginning to leave, haha. So I ran back in for him and got it, and noticed Josiah's bear laying on the floor, so I grabbed it up too. I opened the car door, and Josiah took one look and told me, "I didn't want to take my bear." Of course he didn't, that's a "little guy" thing to do, right? I should have known not to bother... "That's okay. I can hold him instead."
Josiah thirty seconds later: "I want my bear since he is in the car anyway." Yes, he never would have stooped to wanting him if I hadn't been silly and brought him without consulting him ;).
Josiah when I went to tell him good night a few hours later: "Bri, guess what? I'm not even scared anymore, even without a bear."
"I'm glad, buddy." *smiles inwardly at the fact that he might not need that bear to sleep in his own bed... but he's still hugging it regardless* They are all so different, it's adorable.

-My Aunt Amber let us know that they will have another little one joining their house next spring... another precious baby boy <3! James is just a doll, and they will be so close in age, it's really sweet!

-Our church held it's last service in the old worship facility; work has been finished on the new sanctuary in the front, after many months of work!

Laughing at:

Proof that our house is loud, but this doesn't keep us from sleeping:

Especially Josiah. That boy can go to sleep as well as Daddy... I'm beginning to wonder if he's not even faster. But again, per Josiah's "tough rules", sleep is for the weak, and so when we point out he was asleep, he lets us know, fighting to look as wide awake as possible, "I was just resting my eyes." Or, in the case of last night, blinking his eyes. For twenty minutes.

Me: "Goodnight Joey."
Joe: "JoSIAH."
"Joe?"
"JoSIAH."
"Siah?"
"JOsiah."
"Joeyakins?"
*taken aback look* (Um, it had been too long since I used that one!!!) "No, Josiah."
.....and on and on...
Me: i have run out of nicknames. now what.
Josiah: "....you can call me hair-hair."
"HAIR-hair?!??!?!"
"Yes."
"Oooooookay, goodnight hair-hair..."
Me: *turns to Peter* "Good night chicken nugget." (This one started with Andrew, don't stare at me like that.)
Peter: "I'm not chicken nugget."
"Goodnight Flynn Nugget?" (What? That was Tori.)
Peter: "That is better."
Josiah: "Um. No. That is not better."

Me: *yawns*
Tori: *sad noise back*
Me: "... I yawned?..."
"Yeah, but it sounded sad."
"I'm actually not sad."
Bethi: "Instead of ba-room-ba-shhhhhh, there was a train noise."
Tori: "Bethi... there was no joke. Why do we need a ba-room-ba-shhhh noise?"
"Eh, I just pretended Bri made a joke, and so then there was a train."
Tori: "Life is bad when you have to pretend people are making jokes..."

Bethi made the PERFECT low bun while watching a movie... without pins, so it stayed for all of 2.4 minutes, until she moved. But I got a picture so she can always look back at what a wonderful hairstylist she is without even trying ;).

 

Andrew continues the tradition of the guy putting lights on the tree wrapping small boys up, the same tradition Daddy started years ago when Andrew was a little guy ;).


Noah, anytime he disagrees with anything: "Never! NEVER!!!"

Noah, after watching a movie trailer that left most of us with terribly mixed up thoughts, and no words as to what we might thing of this sequel: "Um. Blah." Me too, bud. Me too.

And through another trailer of the same movie:
Noah: *silent*
The camera pans over the ocean:
Noah: "I love it! Water!!!!"

Newsflash: Noah is no longer a baby, and is EXTREMELY animated now that he can talk so well.

Emmi constantly: correctly uses a long word in context that we had no idea she knew the meaning of.
Emmi as soon as she does so: "What does that word mean?"
HOW ARE YOU USING IT CORRECTLY?!??!

Reading:

-The Bible. Because I'm supposed to read ten chapters a day and have already gotten quite behind, so I'm reading the old testament pretty much every time I read.

-But also "An Old-Fashioned Girl", because even though it's not fall anymore and that was the only reason I was going to read it... now I was looking forward to it ;).

-Lots of blogs. Does that count?

Quotes I liked:

I'm going to pretend Christmas hymns count, because I'm currently obsessed, 'kay?

"So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come Peasant, King to own Him
The King of Kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe,
The Son,
Of Mary."
-"What is Child is This?", William Chatterton Dix 


"Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men."
-"I Heard the Bells", Longfellow

"Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave his only Son
The Way, The Truth, the Life had come
But there was no room for Him in the world he came to save
Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping."
-"While You Were Sleeping", Mark Hall

The Shop:

-There were lots of fun deals at Under The Tapestry this month. I participated in a discount for baby items, ran a Black Friday special and a Cyber Monday special, and all that good stuff! Plus, there is a clearance section in Under The Tapestry now!

These items found their forever homes...


My second favorite set of beaded bobby pins, because that grey looked stunning after it was entwined!


This chalkboard which I originally designed for a precious friend, and decided to take pictures of and list just cause I could... and, since then, is still my second best seller.


Another little turkey hat... last year I sold one in a preemie size, and I did so again this year, and <3 my heart.


My favorite ever self-designed bookmark. I LOVE the elegance of this one!

And there are more of each of these items, soooooo ;)....

Fails:

Well, while writing this post, I accidentally said we celebrated Christmas instead of Thanksgiving, so I was kind of jumping the gun.

Do you remember when I mopped the floor and broke a peanut butter jar on it half an hour later this summer?
Well, I mopped the floor and then dropped a tub of sour cream on it 12 hours later this month. I am so predictable.

Trust me, there were more fails such as these. I'm just drawing a blank right now, lol. Even despite my Thankful lists and letters and blog posts this month, I feel like I remember less of the humor from this month than usual, even though I know I laughed often?!?!

Grateful for:


 (Yes, I know AND have been informed that this picture is terrible quality. But y'all. That little guy's face <3.

-My Granny, and how just sending her a text with heart emojis in her favorite color makes her day <3.
-Noah's little verbal self. It's sad he isn't a baby anymore... but he is a pretty priceless little stinker!
-Time to sit and write or read.
-Abbi's excitement to be reading through the bible with us.
-Knocking things off of my to-do list in preparation for it getting longer in December ;).
-Grace, Grace, God's grace!
-The company of our little birds for my early morning bible study (of course, they just eat the whole time, but, you know ;)).
-Another wonderful month!!!

My wrap-up post is only a week late - aren't you impressed? And it's December already... how? Years get shorter the more of them there are, I really do believe. What are you most looking forward to this Christmas? How was your November :)?! Tell me the most exciting event you had this past month :)!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thankful Thursday ✽ Christmas Time is Here


We decorate our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving.... but then we decorate our Snowflake tree after the rest of the house has been switched over to Christmas decorations afterwards.


Emmi decided she was more fun to decorate than the tree was ;).


It was Noah's turn to put the "little tree" topper on! Love it...


He clapped for himself with us!


After you've had a busy day having Christmas with extended family and walking around the zoo to look at lights, and you come home exhausted and hangry even though your Grandma kept you supplied with fruit snacks, and even getting in your comfy pjs and eating a slice of cheese can't help... laying on the hard kitchen floor and eating chocolate while sipping your beloved milk is the perfect way to relax if you are a Noah. And holding hands. That helps too <3. Sweetie!

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

Happy, Merry Christmas time, y'all! It may still be November... but just barely. We celebrated Christmas with extended family this week, plan on decorating our room tomorrow, and it's the last Thursday before December... so, this post will be my Thankful Thursday Christmas addition ;). Can you believe that Christmas is in 25 days? I had planned to get waaaaay into Christmas prep this week, because I don't want to be rushing at the last minute again... but I'm also trying to get caught up on EVERYthing else, because I know I won't have time to do so while I'm doing all these Christmas activities, and don't want to worry about them. So that didn't work out very well... ha. I have 3 orders from my shop to make this week, and December was my shop's best month last year, so I'm determined to stay on top of things, this year! I've mostly finished planning and have set goals... now just to stick to them ;).

(After having said that... I got distracted looking up the Christmas crafts I want to make with the girls tomorrow. I made a list so I wouldn't forget. After that, I started remembering where I had decided that I needed to put some of the things. Then I realized I needed to think about how I could fit some stuff on our desk. I re-arranged said desk, then went through the books on my wall shelf. Now I have a stack of things to put away sitting on my bed, and am no further in my day's blog post. I'm really good at sticking to goals. *will finish blog post now* ... hmmm, lunch...)

Through this week and looking forward to the coming weeks, I am thankful for...

Time spent with family - Enjoying my cousin James' first Christmas time with him - The fact that come next year he will have a little BROTHER joining us!!! - Christmas lights - How much Joey has gotten into Christmas... I love that little guy <3 - Hot cocoa in the early morning as I read my bible, or during quiet time as I spend some time with my siblings - Christmas stories and books - Christmas cookies - Dark chocolate, because Christmas time does not feel like it's really here yet until you have had a dark chocolate kiss... dark chocolate is my favorite, but it's still 3 times better at Christmas somehow - Christmas songs - Getting to finally put together Christmas graphics for a ministry I do volunteer social media content creating for - An impromptu grilled cheese sandwich and chips after browsing shops and picking up my glasses with Mama - The cute boots Mama bought me yesterday <3 - Browsing through books together - Clearance finds - Reds and sparkles and cute typography - Catching up with people I haven't talked to much over the summer - The sweet lady who first taught me to create with my hands through her gift of knitting lessons. I find myself grateful to her every Christmas! That knitting led to crocheting... led to tatting... led to loving to create in any way possible, and now I can sew, transfer lettering, and quill (which I am strongly considering bring to my shop for "real"... would anyone be interested?) - To-do lists and goals... and the reminder that even if I don't get it done when I'd LIKE to, doesn't mean that I can't get it done by when I NEED to - Sitting down to a good book just because it's Christmas and I want to make a little more time to stop rushing through things that can wait if it has to (::cough, cough:: continual Etsy reconstruction... whyyyyyy. They've changed the system again, according to the people in my teams and groups...) - Noah's little hand waving and voice asking me to "come on!" - All my notebooks and pens and pencils, bibles and books available around me - Traditions and "just for fun" activities - Little one's excitement at getting to do something they have looked forward to - The kindness of the stranger at the zoo, who, though he had already cleaned the koala exhibit and was locking up, let us take a peak inside because he heard that some of us had hoped we'd make it in time to see them. And they were AWAKE AGAIN. I think the zoo changed their diet this year, because I've never know koala bears to be this active ;)!

What are some of the things you have been thankful for this month? What Christmas activities are you working on this week? Has someone done a kind act for you lately :)?

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri

Monday, November 27, 2017

Christmas is Coming ✽ Grace is the Reason


One of my favorite things is a cup of something delicious early in the day and creating and designing <3! The past couple of years, we have done little pepper cups with turkey wrappers at lunch. The first year I thought it was just a fun thing we were doing, haha... the second year I didn't realize we were doing it until it was lunch time, and they didn't even turn out that cute, ha. So THIS YEAR, I set aside some time the morning before to make them cute and reusable! I designed this little turkey with elements from three turkey examples I liked (with a little touch of my own as well), and then I SCANNED it, rather than tracing it 11 times like I did last year ;). Now we can print multiple sheets of three out each year and the little ones can color them themselves, so they can be involved! These turkeys are really cute after you put the bell pepper "tail" behind them :). Tori had to take her's a step further... it ended up with eyelashes and impressive coloring, and yeah, she's the artist... I don't know why I'm the one who did this ;)...

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving <3! We had a truly wonderful one. As I shared in my post that day, things didn't go perfectly... but it was full of more blessings and reminders of the gifts I've been given than I could have asked for <3. It was a wonderful day.

The time since has been busy and happy as well. I've had sales going on in my Etsy shop, and been making gifts and cleaning and planning Christmas. We had Mama's family over last night; Grandpa and Grandma, Aunt Tessa, Aunt Amber & Uncle Jason and little James, who isn't nearly as little as he was last time I saw him!

We had a pizza party and exchanged gifts, and we went to the Lights Before Christmas display at the zoo. It was so fun to spend that time with them! Josiah's favorite light display was this 3D zebra... he had to make sure Daddy saw it, and when Daddy let him know that "Yeah, that's cool!", Josiah let him know "But it's not real." We can't let that be confused ;)... And we think maybe they forgot to turn off the Boo at the Zoo recordings. We've never been, so we can't say for sure... but we hit the end of the "cave" exhibit, and SOMETHING started screaming (Daddy and Grandpa stuck around and determined it wasn't the lemurs as Mama thought originally), and most of us just ran for it. I knew it was completely ridiculous, because you could "tell" everything was fine, but I seriously was envisioning part of the wall falling, it was so loud and unexpected, and I was pretty sure it wasn't lemurs, ha! That was more than enough excitement for us ;).

Grandma commented a couple of times on the fact that one thing has changed dramatically since last year... over half of us are now at about the same height. It was sooooooo confusing. In all the past years (well, since Andrew was born, anyway) we've had a bunch of little people in the group. This year, although there are still quite a few little ones, even Andrew has almost hit our average height, and I was NOT finding enough small people when I would try to make sure we had everybody! That's one I'd really not thought of until it happened...

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽


I was reading John 11 recently, with the story about the death and resurrection of Lazarus. I have heard someone say once that there must have been something about that family that we don't think about when we read about them. That even though Martha was so "cumbered with much care" and had deep doubt seated in her heart; even though Mary was a follower to the point of questioning Jesus as Martha did, though she had sat at His feet so intently when things were going well; even though it is questionable that Lazarus was the real leader of the home in more than just social status, since he isn't mentioned in the most talked about story of the two sisters, and it is Martha who invites the Savior to the home; there must have been something about them, that the Lord loved them so much and loved their home out of all the ones in the area.

John 11:5... "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus". And John 11:3... "So the sisters sent to Jesus, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." John (the "disciple whom Jesus loved") and, as we learn from the narrative, Mary and Martha, were confident that Jesus loved this family. There was no question about this. But I don't think it was because this family had any better qualities than we see.

They believed in Christ and loved Him. Mary hung on his word; the sisters knew he was their only hope when they faced the fear of losing the loved brother who was their only means of support. But we get that from the story.

They were generous and hospitable. We see Jesus staying at their home in the story of Martha and Mary's choice of what to do with the time they were given, and we see him staying at their house during the passover in chapter 12, and I imagine they gave him a room when he came to raise Lazarus. They were kind and their door was open... but that is in the story, too.

So we see all that. You could say that maybe those qualities out weighted their shortcomings. Or you could say that maybe they did things that maybe we don't see in the story. Or you could say that it wasn't anything that they did at all.

It was simply the grace of God. He opened their hearts to His word, and he loved them as His children, for that's what they were... from no deed of their own, but just because of the grace and the love of our glorious Redeemer.

The same grace that is given to you and to me. The same grace that is the only means of our hope.

How thankful I am for this grace... and for that love.

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful Thursday ✽ Happy Thanksgiving


It's been a wonderful day. Not without it's difficult moments, for it's still just a day on earth, of course. Some sickness, some bumps and bruises, broken washers and mistakes have all been included in our Thanksgiving. But the beauty of Thanksgiving isn't that it's a day when everything goes completely right, and we say, oh how wonderful is a break from our daily life filled with woe. No, the beauty of Thanksgiving is that no matter what happens, it's existence reminds us to give thanks for what God has blessed us with, no matter what may seem to go wrong, or how rough things may be. And it gives us a wonderful excuse -or reminder, whichever you want to consider it- to spend time with those we love <3.

In between reading Thanksgiving story read-alouds, baking, and eating goodies together with my family today, I'm trying to take time to dwell on the grace and mercy of the Lord in all the blessings he has given me this past year. This year... it didn't go like we expected. It especially didn't go as we would have hoped going into it. We still don't understand why some of the things we went through had to happen. But even these circumstances have been used for good and have brought hope with them. And through this trying year, the Lord has upheld us. I'm going to sit down to a table tonight around which will be ten of the people I love most in the world, and we'll have plenty of good food with which to nourish our bodies, and we'll have memories to look back on, and be making new memories together, as well. We'll clean up this big mess all this cooking creates, and then we'll gather in the living room to decorate our Christmas tree, with ornaments that directly point to Jesus, and we'll discuss their meaning.

I've also tried to make some time to text each of the people outside my family I care about most today, because I believe this day is the perfect time to remind people that we are thankful for them, as well. It's funny that I've often said it's a bit lonelier here then it was last time we lived here.. which is true, I don't have as many local friends. But as I was texting the people that I most especially wanted to know I was thinking of them; family, best friends, people who have gone out of their way to bless me this past year; I was reminded again of how blessed I have been with wonderful, encouraging, beautifully caring friends, even if they aren't very close travel-wise. And those were just the people I could text! There are some people at the churches I volunteer at and, yes, even our church that I still feel rather new to, that deserve thanks for the ways they have blessed us this past year as well, if I had only had their number. I've been immensely blessed with the people God has put in my life! And I am also thankful for you blog readers. Some of you are becoming friends to me as well, and thank you for caring about me and what is going on in my life!

Above all I am thankful for my Father in Heaven, His love for me, His patience with my slow-to-learn heart, and His rest for the weary spirit. And I'm thankful for a Savior who walks alongside us with such marvelous love, that He would give Himself over to death, that we need not live without Him.

"Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I'll praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above."

"I  will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD." -Psalm 116:17