Life around here lately has been so good.  I'm celebrating the small things and looking for beauty in everything around me. 

I'm reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. She looks deeply at Luke 22:19 which simply says, "And he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them . . ." The Greek word for thanks she found to be eucharisteo, which when broken down means grace, joy, and thanks. My mom's support group who gave me Voskamp's book, challenged us to journal 1,000 things we were thankful for. During my morning quiet times, which honestly aren't very consistent, I've been accepting the challenge and taking time to think of all the little things that I'm thankful for. And not just list my thankfulness, but revel in the joy in thinking about them and then accept the grace given to receive it. 

My new designated devotion time spot is the window seat on our staircase where I can look out the window at the fall colors. It's a calm place in our home that feels almost private even though it's in the middle of everything. It's usually there in that little nook that I've been meditating on these small little things that I am so thankful for, and it's as if my eyes have been opened and I'm seeing the small beautiful details in life that I never saw before. 

Lying down on our family room floor, allowing my daughter to brush my hair, this was my view. So peaceful and beautiful to me. This is something I'm thankful for.

I look down from the window and onto my couch. There is my new pillow I got at TJMaxx for only $10. So trivial, but makes me smile. It is exactly my style and looks perfect on my couch. I snap a photo quick. Eucharisteo.

And how sweet that my daughter loves to pamper me. I'm trying to cherish these moments and actually live them. I've used my iPhone and Canon for photos even more as I try to capture these little moments to remind me forever that I was there and actually lived that moment to it's fullest in true thankfulness and joy.

When I wake up in the morning to sunshine peaking through my bedroom window instead of the alarm . . .

When I walk up to my front porch and see my fall wreath . . .

When I get the privilege to cheer my son up after a rough day by taking him and his sister out for cookies . . .

When I get to use all the colorful leaves my children collected a day earlier in my dining table centerpiece .  .  .

When I taste the creamy goodness of pumpkin soup and hear the affirming comments from my family that I did good tonight . . .

When I look up in the sky and the clouds have formed a majesty that I cannot describe . . .

And each time I look up the cloud formation changes to form more magnificent beauty . . .

And when the view outside my staircase windowseat where I'm jotting down these moments shows me a rainbow that reminds me of a promise from God made thousands of years ago . . .

And the beauty is so great that my camera can't even capture it all . . .

And a little downtown church steeple is covered in beautiful Fall sunlight . . .

So I have to park my car and hang out the window snapping photos of it's grandeur . . .

And our downtown courthouse is covered in a warming glow of light, making me feel so blessed to be apart of this town and community . . .

Isn't this what life is all about? These little moments?

Then I step back in awe. This is worship. I can't help it. I have to stop and worship my Creator. Thank  Him for all the beauty around me and treasure these moments that I do not deserve - acknowledge His grace and walk forward in peace and joy.


The Colors

We collected leaves last week down the road from Grandma's house. Trying to take in all the beauty while it lasts.


Capri Raylissa

Having baby number three was so anti-climatic to me. There was nothing new about it. We already had one boy and one girl. I really struggled with looking forward to meeting her. With each baby I've worried about not being able to love them enough, but with this one I couldn't even get excited about that first meeting. 

Like the other two, I remained sick through the entire pregnancy, swelled a lot, was always lightheaded, would faint on some occasions, got constant remarks about how much weight I had gained, slept terribly (if at all), and to make matters worse, my husband was going through some of his own health problems, making me feel completely unsupported and alone through it all. 

On the Fourth of July, right before we found out that we were having a girl, I went for an hour long walk. Usually walking made me that much sicker, so that long a walk was rare for me - I could usually only stand 30 minutes. But that day was different. I prayed the entire time. I earnestly asked God to help me to bond with this baby. To get excited about it. I also asked Him to help me decide on a middle name if it was a girl (we already had a boy's name picked out). He spoke to me so gently, so subtly, but so clearly.

You see, my first three sibling line up is the same as my children. Boy, girl, girl. I have an older brother named GJ, I'm next and my sister, Melissa (Missi) is the second girl (#3 in the family). Growing up Missi and I were always especially close since we are only 19 months apart. Our relationship has just grown stronger the older we've gotten. I would say that Missi is my absolute best friend.

So that day on my walk God reminded me of the bond I have with the #3 child in my family. Memories of our childhood danced on the cinema screen of my mind and I cried. Yes. That's right. That #3 child is very very special to me. I knew then that this baby was a girl. Then God told me that her middle name should be a name that reminded me of my sister Melissa. Chris and I have chosen to use the C R initials with all of our children, so I immediately came up with Raylissa for Capri's middle name because it reminds me of Melissa. 

From that moment on I started to bond with Capri. I imagined how Cassi and Capri would be close. I remembered the thoughts and feelings my sister Melissa had being the #3 in our family and I chuckled to myself thinking that Capri might have those same feelings.

I continued to gripe and groan about my pregnancy, even with the new excitement about meeting her, but my griping got even worse when Capri decided to arrive later than I hoped.

The day she came, I broke down in front of a friend and shared with her my selfish immaturity about the situation. She so very sympathetically prayed over me. She prayed that I would have the baby right after a party I was going to that night. She prayed the baby would come quickly and that there would be enough time to get an epidural (something I decided to plan on after the trauma of my first two). She also prayed over the baby--that Capri would touch lives and be a powerful woman of God.

Capri's labor started right after the party that night that I was prayed over. My labor was very quick, but there was still enough time for an epidural for the last hour of my labor. The whole experience was super easy and as pain free as it could possibly be. And then there was Capri. Right there in my arms. The doctor let me have her right away and nurse her for quite a while before they took her away to clean her. In those special moments I knew that we were already bonded.

My little Capri has been more attached to me than my other two children. She actually cuddles, hugs, and kisses me and she did so at an earlier age than the other two.

She just turned 1 on Saturday. God was gracious to me even in my time of doubt, selfishness, and immaturity. Capri is a very precious gift that I did not deserve and I am so thankful for the past twelve months that I have had with her!

Happy Birthday Capri Raylissa!


School and Fall

Our unit study on ancient times and civilizations finished this week with a study on Jewish customs, so we ended our week with a makeshift Seder meal. Note that instead of a lamb bone we used sweet potato (my Google search informed me that Jewish vegetarians use the potato instead, and of course I believe everything I read on the internet).

Feels good to wrap up an entire unit for our history course at least. Looking forward to what's in store for the next unit!