Thankful in November, Days 18-30

 I definitely want to finish sharing this month of gratitude with you!  I've been keeping my list and I'm picking up where I left off...
Day 18- Home sweet home!  After being in TX for a few days, seeing people from all over the country at our conference, it still feels good to fly "home" to Minnesota!  And as odd as it felt, it was also nice to come home to a quiet house for a night :) We totally missed the kids at that point, but it was pretty sweet to have our own house to ourselves again!  It's been quite awhile sincce that has been the case.
Day 19- Unexpected delays. 
As we left for our epic roadtrip, we were not 2 minutes on the road when we discovered a tire that was losing pressure rapidly.  As we got to "enjoy" the next 4 hours at the Honda dealership, we weren't thrilled at the interruption in our schedule but we were thankful that we discovered the problem (a nail in our tire) before we were on the road in the middle of the night, with two kids and a flat tire.  When these kind of things happen, I can't help but think about all the things the Lord might be protecting us from without us even knowing.  I didn't love spending money to fix a tire, but it certainly could have been worse!

Day 20- Family time, in the car, making memories.
Yes, hours and hours of family time was actually pretty great.  We had times that were hard (mostly because we were tired) but the Lord granted us much favor and our kids were so, so good.  It was amazing to show the mountains and watch their faces light up in wonder.
 We made time to stop and enjoy the beauty of God's creation, and to stretch our legs a little in the mountain air.  The smokies were as beautiful as we remembered them, what a great drive on a beautiful day!

Day 21- Aunt Stacie and Uncle Jesse!!
What fun to be at their house in South Carolina, finally out of the car and able to rest and enjoy.  I'm so thankful that God gave me the family He did and I'm grateful that we have such a great time together.  Our kiddos love their aunts and uncles and we were so grateful for this chance to go visit them!

Day 22- On Thanksgiving, too many blessings to count!
The Lord has been so good to us, there are so many ways He's been faithful, met our needs and just blessed us in abundance.  We are overwhelmed by His goodness...Our marriage, our kids, our families, a job, a house, our Church, friends...we could go on and on.  We have nothing to complain about and that is a gift that we are trying not to take for granted.  There have been and will be hard seasons too, but for now this is a sweet, sweet season in our lives. 
 Before our feast!  Stacie and I were exhausted pulling off a Thanksgiving meal :) We think we should leave it to our Mom from now on, ha!

Day 23- The beach.
Before we got married, we lived in a town on the water.  We met, fell in love, and got married in Naples, Florida and for the two of us, the beach holds a special meaning.  There is something so incredible and endless about the majesty of the ocean.  It's crashing waves, never ending expanse that melts into the horizon, it's beauty...we love the beach!  Every time I go to the ocean, I am reminded how big our God is and how small I am.  He has numbered every grain of sand and the ocean waves obey the sound of His voice.  It's almost too much to take in...
 Day 24- Trav's job.
What a blessing to be employed full time, to have a job with vacation time, benefits, etc.  We are so thankful that we were able to pack up and spend this time away, grateful for the family-friendly leadership of our Church that knows how good and important pauses are in ministry.  To have back to back weeks together, uninterrupted...what a gift!  We don't want to take that for granted.  We have needed this time to reconnect and reset a little bit.  Ministry can be unbelievably draining, but it's also an incredible privilege and JOY to serve the Lord as a family and to love our Church like family.  Feeling especially grateful for this tonight...

Day 25- Date night!
Stacie and Jesse gave us the chance to eat out together and enjoy a quiet Sunday night in downtown Charleston.  We ate at this amazing little seafood restaurant, Coast, and it was soooo good!  We are foodies and our idea of a great night always involves coffee, food, and dessert :) So that's what we did and we enjoyed every minute!  But almost as fun was coming to see our kids having a great time with their Aunt and Uncle too.  

 Day 26- History that points to the Lord
Walking around downtown, you can't help but notice all the historical buildings and homes, marveling at their amazing detail and beauty, but equally prominent are the incredible old Churches that dominate the city.  There is a building code in Charleston that allows no architecture to be taller than the tallest Church steeple.  I love that!  Seeing those old, glorious Churches made me think about all the people who worshipped the same Jesus we do today, so many years ago.  He's the definition of timeless, the same yesterday, today and forever.  He was as relevant to people in the 1800's as He is today.  I loved seeing the history of Charleston, but I am reminded that all history points to only One.  It's HIS STORY afterall and we are just one little dot on His kingdom calendar.  It's so comforting to me to imagine all people, all tongues, tribes and nations giving praise to One God.  That day will come, until then, I'm grateful for the many faithful Christ followers who went before us and left tributes and monuments to point future generations to Christ too. 
May we do the same for the generations that follow us...

 Day 27- The wonder of a child.
Exposing kids to new things brings such a delight to the soul of a parent.  Taking our kids to see the mountains, the beach, beautiful places and family we love brought out the simple wonder in each of them and it was so fun to see.  Even fake snow thrilled them!  Sometimes I think it's such a shame that as adults we tend to lose that same sense of wonder or we hide it under a stoic face.  If anything should prompt wonder in us, it's the work of God in our lives.

 Day 28- The mountains!
Nothing causes our mouths to drop like a drive through the gorgeous Smoky moutains.  Their Blue Ridge landscape bleeds into the blue skies and creates such a gorgeous embrace around a city.  We love the mountains, it was so fun to stay in Tennessee for a couple of nights and soak it up. 
Day 29- Old, heart connection friends!
We were able to orchestrate a very last minute, on the spot meet up with one of my sweet, sweet friends from our Seminary days while we were quickly driving through Kentucky.  We met at a Chick-fil-a off the interstate and spent a sweet hour and a half catching up and introducing our kiddos.  We haven't seen each other for almost 7 years, but we talk on the phone and connect here and there.  Nothing replaces face to face however and it was such a treat to see my friend Jen!  I never thought we'd be able to make that work or that we'd be so close to her on our drive, but I'm so thankful God gave us that little present.  She is a dear friend who is a fellow youth Pastor's wife in Kentucky, and now a Mom of 4!   When we met, we were young brides, working so our husbands could go to Seminary, along with 6 or 7 other couples that we grew to love.  We were a tight group of friends and we've stayed in touch, mostly through blogs and facebook, as the Lord has taken each of us to different parts of the country to serve Him in different ways.  I love all of those girlfriends and this makes me ache for a reunion soon!!

Day 30- My husband.
Finally, on this last day in the month of gratitude, I want to say how very thankful I am for the man I married.  God was so faithful to me in bringing Travis and I together and He blessed me beyond anything I could dream or imagine when we became husband and wife.  He is such JOY to my soul, a friend like none other, a leader, a KIND and GENTLE man, and my opposite in so many ways.  He balances my straight, rigid places with grace and a go-with-the-flow personality that has forced me to relax over the years.  I love him dearly and I couldn't imagine a better man to be joined as one with, or a better Father for my kids.  He makes my heart melt daily when he walks through the door after work and as I watch him love and laugh with Ava and Carter.  I have such a sense of fulfillment watching him in action as a Pastor, doing exactly what God gifted him and called him to do.  He isn't perfect, I'm happy to point that out, ha ha!! But he loves the Lord and he loves the kids and I, faithfully and tenderly.  I just couldn't ask for more than that!  

This has been such a treat for me to share some of the things I am thanking the Lord for this month.  It's not a comprehensive list of every blessing I've experienced, but it's a great snapshot of what He's doing in our lives and how easy it is to stop and reflect on the goodness of God, every day.  Being thankful is a great way to prepare your heart for the best gift He's ever given us, the gift of His Son and our Savior, Jesus.  As we walk through December, I hope to maintain a daily sense of gratitude for the miracle of our God who came down....Immaunel, God with us. 
Praying this advent season is full of wonder and gratitude for you and your family as well!

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