It's been a few days since I've updated, okay a few weeks, but I've still been faithfully counting my blessings and today I have a big list to share! I'm tucked away in the Smoky Mountains this morning, writing these gifts by the crackle of a fire and with the Praise Baby Christmas DVD playing in the background. We've had an amazing, whirlwind of a month that's taken us all over the country. I was a little worried when I realized we had so many back to back trips planned, but as we come to the tail end of it, I can't believe how wonderfully it's worked out and how needed this "pause" has been for us. I feel like we've been able to breathe some rest into our souls and I'm grateful that we've been able to truly relax and enjoy one another. What a gift! But before I get too far down that tangent, I need to jump back into my list and catch you up to speed...
Day 7- (Election Day) I'm so grateful for the peace of God amidst a culture that seems to grow colder and farther from Him at every turn. He's in control and He's Sovereign over all and no matter what, I can rest in that. That's not to say that these aren't turbulent days and that we don't need to remain defenders of truth, but we belong to Him and we can face the reality of our times knowing this world is not our home or our hope!
Day 8- My girlfriends who are in the same season of life as I am. I'm grateful for the friends the Lord has brought me over the years as we raise small children together. I've not always had friends who have been in similar life stages so I'm extra grateful for my stay at home mom friends who are always up for playdates, coffee dates, phone calls and funny texts to endure days that are harder than others! They bring my heart joy and I love watching our kids enjoy one another too. I'm also thankful for my friends from other places who I've stayed in touch with and who bring me joy through facebook and blogs and phone calls...my heart is full with so many precious women who love Jesus and are like minded in the way we live.
Day 9- I've mentioned them before but my high school group of girls are just a huge blessing to me. I love what the Lord is doing among us and I love the chance we've had to get to know one another and grow this year. In the same vein, I'm so grateful for Trav's full support in doing this. I couldn't do it if he wasn't so willing to spend a few hours on Sunday afternoons with the kids, happily sending me out the door and then asking me all about it when I get home. It wouldn't work if he didn't see the value and refreshment in it, so I'm thankful he does! I'm also loving all the fun activities I've been able to attend in support of these Senior girls! Spending time at the HS State v-ball tournament cheering 2 of them on in the championship game was so much fun! I even brought Ava with me to several games this year and she loved that special time we had together too :) Thank you Lord for the opportunity to do ministry like this!
Day 10- Older wiser women who invest in me. I'm involved in a Titus 2 ministry at our Church, which is based on the Biblical mandate from Titus 2 of older women investing in younger women. There are precious women in my life who I love to learn from, watch, pray with and just be around. They encourage me, support me, challenge me and inspire me. I don't know them all personally and there is no magic requirement or big commitment to be involved. I go to a monthly coffee/training for mentors time that is just a sweet blessing to me. Everyone needs someone who is older than you are in your life! There is so much wisdom to be caught :)
Day 11- Our Church is really digging in deeper to care for orphans and obey the call of the Church in this area. Travis and I have a heart tug for this and we are praying for the Lord to make our next steps known, whatever that means. We went to a documentary tonight on Oprhan care called, "Fautless" and it was incredible. My heart aches for too many kids who have been abandoned, abused, discarded, and tossed aside through no fault of their own. We have to step up as the Church and do something about it. It will never be solved on a global scale, orphan care happens on an individual basis and case by case. I'm grateful for the vision of our Church leadership to seek the Lord and encourage us to seek Him too on behalf of the orphans. We are also asking for the obedience to do what He asks us to...
Day 12- Health. Every time I take our kids to the doctor I'm reminded how thankful we are that they are healthy and not facing a medical hurdle. That's not to say we'll always have our health, none of us know what tomorrow brings, but for now I'm thankful for two busy kids who are able to do everything they want to and for two healthy parents who get to be here to see it.
Day 13- Grandparents! I'm thankful for my parents who took our kids for a week so we could go to Texas for a conference and for Trav's Mom who watches them everytime she comes to town so we can go out or do things we need to. It's a blessing to have grandparents in our lives and I know if we lived closer to everybody, we'd have more help and we'd get to reap the benefits of that relationship more. But we are so grateful for the effort they make, for the time investment and relationship our kids have with their grandparents. I know my parents are over the moon enjoying them while we're gone and we are sure enjoying the freedom and silence! Ha ha!
Day 14- Speaking of being away, we were in Texas for a few days before Thanksgiving at a youth ministry conference. I'm thankful for this FUN opportunity to get away with Travis and soak up some great training and inspiration, but also to relax! We haven't had 4 nights away from the kids ever and this is just what we needed. SUCH a TREAT!!
Day 15- One of the trainings I attended was a mentoring workshop and it was so great! I have a passion for that kind of ministry and it was such a great intensive class. I'm so grateful our Church saw the value in sending us to a conference like this one. It's so great to get some new vision and help as we all attempt to serve students and impact them to trust Jesus as Savior and welcome Him as Lord over their life. Loved this training!
Day 16- In addition to mentoring, I also chose some breakouts on marriage and ministry. Travis and I attended one together, as well as a Q & A, and I went to the other with our HS Pastor's wife. They were so good! And helpful. It was some great perspective and I think we all appreciated the reminders to protect our marriages and our families and not let ministry take over. So easy to agree to, not always easy to live out in the face of other people's expectations on us. Again, we are very blessed to serve under leadership that encourages us to keep family first and set healthy boundaries. It's always wise to stop and evaluate how we're doing and have those conversations regularly as seasons come and go.
Day 17- We are thankful for the partnership we've had with our high school pastor and his wife. We all attended our conference together and it was a great time to laugh and be refreshed in our friendship. We've served together for 5 years I think? In the youth ministry world, that's a long time :) But there are great benefits to longevity in ministry and we are glad to partner with them in our love of students! We had a great time in Texas together!