Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thankful Even When It’s Hard

24 Nov

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” – Psalm 50:23

All your feeds today will be full of messages of thanksgiving–how blessed we are, how much we’ve been given, etc. All of which is true. But a lot of people are also weeping this Thanksgiving, dealing with hard things, and don’t feel like giving thanks. Maybe they’re dealing with something big, like a loved one’s death; with chronic frustrations, like their child’s consistent willful defiance; or their own suffering, emotional or physical. 

That’s me. This is the first Thanksgiving without my mom. And my day today began with Emma unleashing some of her biggest tantrums to date for a good 45 minutes. 

As we drive to my in-laws’ house, I don’t feel thankful. I feel down-trodden, discouraged, and just plain sad. But then Psalm 50:23 came to mind: “Offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” And that reminds me: we don’t offer God thanks simply because we look around at our life and agree that it’s everything we’ve asked for. We don’t primarily give thanks because we’ve been blessed with family or food or a home. Rather, we give thanks to God because HE IS WORTHY of our thanks. And because no matter what we have or don’t have, no matter what we’re going through here on earth, we have a Savior and a guaranteed future in heaven with Jesus. That is why we can give thanks in all circumstances: because wherever we are, we always get God. 

So let’s glorify Him with thanksgiving, today and every day, for the good and the hard. 

Annabelle Lyn: 8 Months

12 Dec

Little Miss Annabelle was 8 months old back on Black Friday, November 27! I failed to take 8-month pictures of her that day because we were busy with preparations for my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower. Travis’ brother Matthew is getting married New Years Day!

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Even though this post is 2 weeks late, I wrote it on time so it’s an accurate description of Annabelle at 8 months. Here’s what Annabelle was up to:


Annabelle is still wearing size 3 diapers and 9-12 month clothes.

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Annabelle is still breastfeeding about 5 times a day and occasionally once at night (usually when she’s teething). She eats 1-2 meals of solid food a day but definitely isn’t as big a fan of it as her sister was at this age — which is unfortunate since she still won’t take a bottle and hasn’t gone for the sippy cups we’ve tried.

Annabelle now has four teeth (two on the bottom and two on top). The fourth popped through a few days before Thanksgiving.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Annabelle threw up for the first (and second, and third, and fourth) time. Emma threw up too so they must have caught a bug or something. But before that, Annabelle tried her first bites of pumpkin pie, watergate salad and mashed potatoes.

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Annabelle is a decent sleeper. From about 2.5 to 5.5 months, she slept a glorious 12 hours straight at night. Then she started teething and got some sniffles, and has only slept through the night a handful times since. Usually I’m up with her just once a night (the time of night varies quite a bit) but sometimes twice. I nurse her for 20 minutes and she’s right back to sleep.

Generally speaking, she naturally sticks to a schedule more than Emma ever did (though Emma has gotten better as she’s gotten older). Annabelle usually wakes up for the day around 7 am, takes her morning nap from 9-10, catnaps in the car around noon if we’re out somewhere (which we usually are since that’s when we run errands, have ECFE, or come back from MOPS), takes her afternoon nap from 1-3 pm, and goes to bed around 7. She wakes up to nurse between 3 and 5 am. I’m pretty much a zombie in the morning but I really can’t complain.

Unfortunately, she’s still sleeping exclusively in her swing. I will admit I’ve only made a few half-hearted attempts at transitioning her. My time is running out though because once she starts crawling, she’ll have to switch.

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Speaking of crawling, Annabelle has shown no interest or effort to become mobile. She hates tummy time, and now that she can sit up without help (though still tips over every once in a while), she no longer enjoys playing with toys on her back. She prefers to either sit up (on the floor or in a high chair) to play with toys or jump in her jumperoo. She also likes being carried around to see what’s going on.

20151123_070604 (Large)She sits up in the grocery cart now too!

20151101_185907 (Large)Annabelle is a very curious little girl — she always wants to see what’s going on and grabs for stuff faster than my mommy brain can register, leading to spills or hands in food.

For example, one afternoon this past month, me, Emma and Annabelle were out to lunch with Auntie Cari (Trav’s sister). As I was trying to get Annabelle out of her carseat, Emma spilled her full water glass all over the table and me. Then when our waitress brought our food out, Annabelle pulled her full container of baby food onto the floor. We were a hot mess.

Annabelle hasn’t started saying any “words” yet but she loves to squawk, squeal and screech, and blow bubbles with her tongue. She makes the funniest noises and loves it when we make the funny noises back to her.

For Halloween this year, we went to the Pillager Fun Fest with Annabelle dressed up as Snow White (her costume from our Disney-themed family reunion this past summer) and Emma as a fairy (though the wings lasted a good 5 minutes before she wanted them off… of course). I dressed in 80s garb and Travis was a dad. (ha)

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We also made a trip down to Cabela’s in Rogers a weekend in November for Travis to buy a muzzleloader. Emma had fun seeing all the (stuffed) animals and fish. Annabelle was a trouper, as always.

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And that’s Annabelle at 8 months!

Thanksgiving Weekend 2014

2 Dec

I had grand plans for Thanksgiving this year, but apparently God wanted to teach me a lesson in slowing down and letting go because things didn’t go quite as planned.

We hosted the big meal at our house for Travis’ immediate family, my parents and my brother. We’ve never hosted a fancy meal for that many people so it was a learning experience! Monday, I went grocery shopping after Emma went to bed. Tuesday, I deep-cleaned the house while Emma was at daycare. So far so good.

Wednesday, I attempted to repurpose an old tablecloth that didn’t fit our new table into a table runner and placemats. Well, somehow I got my math wrong because the table runner ended up being too short and then my sewing machine broke in the middle of the placemats. I ended up borrowing a tablecloth from my mother-in-law. It worked, but that wasn’t the plan! (Luckily, the table runner fits our table when we only have one leaf in it.)

Some more of our fall decorations:

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My parents, Travis’ brother and his girlfriend arrived Wednesday night and we had elk steaks, roasted vegetables and mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner. After getting everyone mostly situated, I hit the sack for an early morning – running the local turkey trot. Never mind that it was supposed to be about 0 degrees at the start.

Unfortunately, that plan got derailed as well because I developed a horrible sore throat and cough overnight that made me sound like a 50-year-old chain smoker. Running outside in the freezing cold probably wouldn’t be a great idea. So no turkey trot. Money down the drain.

Being sick also meant that I couldn’t help out in the kitchen much, since who wants a sickly person making their food? Instead, I took a nap, a long hot shower and directed people to where things were and what else had to be done. (I must admit, it was nice in some ways.)

The most important things though – food and family – were perfect. We all ate until we couldn’t eat anymore and enjoyed conversation, watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and playing Big Buck Hunter.

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Teeny tiny tableIMG_6055 (Large)

Emma was not impressed with the Thanksgiving fareIMG_6056 (Large)

Quick family picture in the single digits!IMG_6058 (Large)


The cute cupcakes that Travis’ bro and his girlfriend made

Everyone left that evening except my parents and brother. It was nice to have some extra time with them.

Friday morning, Travis and I headed to our 21-week ultrasound while my parents and brother watched Emma. Everything looks great! I have my 22-week appointment with my OB tomorrow.

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Legs up over the head

After my parents and brother left, it was Emma’s naptime – which, these days, means time for mommy or daddy to hold Emma for a nap. She was a little sick and we’re pretty sure she’s getting her 2-year molars. She’s been putting her hands in her mouth a lot, drooling up a storm and seems to be in pain quite often. Poor girl. After Emma’s nap, we attempted some Black Friday shopping but Emma had a meltdown so we just came back home.

Saturday, Travis’ uncle got married so we journeyed down to the Cities for the wedding. It was nice to see his extended family again, and Emma actually did really well. There was another little girl there her age and Emma walked right up to her and gave her a big hug. So cute! I am proud of Emma for being so friendly and outgoing.


Eating a tide-me-over at McDonald’s before the wedding

Sunday, we went to church and then hung out at home until our date night! Some friends watched Emma while Travis and I went to Mockingjay Part One. It was good – different than the other Hunger Games movies and a little slow at first, but we enjoyed it overall. Then we grabbed a quick bite at Buffalo Wild Wings before we picked Emma up.

It was a fun weekend! Unfortunate that I had to get sick (and am STILL sick) but such is life, right?

Thanksgiving Weekend 2013

3 Dec

It was nice staying in town for Thanksgiving this year. On Wednesday night, I went with some of our small group from church to volunteer for Operation Christmas Child while Travis stayed home with Emma. We’ve done this for the past 4-5 years and it is always rewarding and enjoyable. I didn’t go last year because I was pregnant, so I’m glad I got to go this year! We prepared boxes that were going to Guayana and Togo.

On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), we ran the Turkey Chase 5K that benefitted the Denver Rescue Mission with our friends D and Doug. It was Emma’s first race! She did really well – she slept through the first half and was content hanging out for the rest. While I think the Denver Rescue Mission is a great organization, I was a little frustrated with the race. One, the first half mile was on gravel – while that’s nice for running, it’s a little bumpy for a stroller! So Travis and I ended up mostly walking that portion for Emma’s sake. Two, the course ended up being 3.5 miles instead of 3.1. And three, it was an out and back course on a greenway, meaning not much room to get by slower people. Travis and I had quite a time of weaving around walkers and other strollers. But really, those things are just frustrations as a runner with a stroller. If we hadn’t had a stroller, it would’ve been fine, except for the course length.

We had a pretty good race anyway though. Here are our mile splits:

turkey trot splitsWe were cruising for Mile 3! A little too much, because I had to have Travis take over pushing the stroller. I pushed it for the first mile or so, he pushed for the second mile, I pushed it again for about 5 minutes, and then he pushed it the rest of the way. 😉 That was nice. We finished in 38:42, average pace of 11:08/mile.


After the race, we went home, showered while Emma took a nap and then went over to our friends’ house for the feast. We brought pumpkin pie with whipped cream and green bean casserole (which I made for the first time, and I thought it was meh). But the rest of the food was delicious!

1486723_10202757468642641_1227915238_nEmma thought so too – she mostly had her own butternut squash puree, but she tried mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. She loved the pie!

20131128_145135After stuffing ourselves, the guys went downstairs to watch football and the ladies talked and looked through Black Friday ads. It was nice and lowkey, but it certainly wasn’t as relaxing as in past years, with a baby to take care of!

On Friday, Travis went fly fishing with a couple of friends, including my friend Cathy’s husband, so Emma and I went over and hung out at her house most of the day (after I took a much-needed nap during Emma’s naptime!). We drank coffee, talked and watched Miracle on 34th Street – I had never seen it before. I enjoyed it.

Saturday, Travis woke up sick. Major bummer because that’s when we were supposed to have our date night/birthday celebration! I had bought tickets to the Avalanche vs. Wild hockey game, but we ended up selling them. Instead, we just hung out at home watching Monsters University while Emma was at our friends’ house. We have another date night scheduled in a couple weeks, so hopefully that’ll turn out more like we hope. It was a nice night anyway.  And we didn’t have to worry about the volume being too loud! (Emma’s room is right next to our living room – sooo looking forward to a bigger house!)

On Sunday, Emma and I went to church while Travis stayed home. I checked her into the nursery for the sermon, but she lasted only about 5 minutes. When I came back to get her, her face was bright red and she had snot running down her face from crying so hard. Poor baby! She just wanted mommy though because she was perfectly happy with me. The rest of the day, we just bummed at home because I was beat.

Monday was a marathon shopping day for me and Emma. I realized that every weekend until we leave for Minnesota is crazy busy so I needed to get some Christmas shopping done ASAP! We went to Office Max, the post office, Sports Authority, Walmart and the grocery store. Emma was a trouper though! The only noise she made in the stores was a lot of loud squawking at Walmart.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!



Monday Randomness

11 Nov

Here’s some randomness for you on this Monday morning:

1) This is over now, but this past summer/fall, Travis traveled so much for work that his boss kindly gave us a $50 stipend to go out to eat every weekend. And we took full advantage of it! At first, we just ordered food or got takeout, so that we didn’t have to deal with Emma freaking out in a restaurant. But the last month and a half or so, we went out to Red Lobster, Macaroni Grill, Texas Roadhouse, and local restaurants Colorado Plus Brewpub, A Taste of Home Cooking, and Trattoria Stella. Some outings were too late and Emma was fussy but usually she did really well. And now that she can sit up in a high chair, eating out is even easier.

2) I finally spent a couple hours Saturday and yesterday making baby food for Emma. I made butternut squash, green beans (which she didn’t like!), carrots, spinach (pureed with a banana to make it a bit thicker), and sweet potatoes. I think we’re set for a while!

3) I wasn’t sure how I would like cloth diapers once we started getting into solid foods, since Emma’s poo would also be more solid. But it actually hasn’t been bad at all. Her business comes off really easily, either all by itself or with a little spray from our shower hose, and it really doesn’t gross me out at all. So I think we’ll keep going with the cloth!

4) Our church’s single and young married group had our annual Chili Cook-off yesterday. Travis and I have won twice with our elk chili, but we did not take home the trophy this year. No matter. There were some really good chili recipes this year! And the chili that won was the one that I voted for. It was called ‘For the Faint of Heart’ and had no heat and no meat. Unconventional, but delicious!

5) We’ve started packing up our house in preparation for moving/showing. We also went to Home Depot and got a new exterior light, a wireless doorbell (since ours was broken), and some paint samples. Moving at this time of year definitely presents some challenges, especially when there are things outside that need to be painted and stained. We weren’t really planning to move this quickly, but with the condition of my mom’s health, we’d like to move as soon as possible. So we’re trying to figure it all out quickly and try to get this stuff done while the weather is still nice.

6) Emma has been sleeping better since last Friday but still doesn’t seem to quite be herself. At church yesterday, she lasted 5 minutes in the nursery before having an inconsolable meltdown. She was fine sitting and playing with me though. I might take her into the doctor today to see if it’s an ear infection.

7) Travis’ birthday is coming up at the beginning of December and I’ve actually taken the time and effort to plan something fun. He’ll be traveling for work on his actual birthday but we are going on a date night the Saturday before his birthday (for the first time since… a long time!) and I am so excited! God has really put it on my heart to make our marriage more of a priority, so I’m doing that.

8) We’re volunteering for Operation Christmas Child again this year, the day before Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to that too. I didn’t go last year because I was pregnant and didn’t think I could handle standing for 4 hours straight, but I’m ready this year!

9) We’ve decided that we’re going back to Minnesota for Christmas and will stay 2 weeks – the week of Christmas and the week of New Year’s. While it won’t be as relaxing as Christmas past, it’ll be Emma’s first Christmas, which I’m really looking forward to! She is too, though she doesn’t know it yet. And it’s always great to see our families.

10) We’re staying here for Thanksgiving though. I’d like to do a Turkey Trot but Travis might go play in our church’s Turkey Bowl. Maybe Emma and I will do it ourselves… Or maybe I’ll try to find a friend who’d be interested. For dinner, we’re getting together with friends from church who also won’t be with family. Can’t wait! I love the holiday season! I might just start putting Christmas decorations out now…

{Repost} Breathe in freedom.

28 Sep

So our Minnesota trip was a little rough. It was great seeing my parents but Emma had a hard time napping and sleeping at night – I think it must’ve been that she was in a new place, and she has a little bit of a stuffy nose. I’ll admit that I was VERY angry that Emma needed to be bounced and rocked, and sometimes held, or she refused to sleep. I was there to help my parents and she was making that next to impossible.

That situation, combined with the rest of everything going on and my general feeling of ‘meh’ and stress, has sent me back to blog posts from last year, to remind myself of the Truth I was learning then, and am still learning – or needing to relearn – now. That’s where this post comes in. It’s just as true now as it was when I wrote on June 1, 2012. Enjoy.


When your body is challenged in yoga and weight lifting, the natural response is to hold your breath. We need to be reminded to breathe with the movements. Inhale, lift. Exhale, lower. Inhale vitality. Exhale tension. It may not seem like it at the time but breathing actually makes the postures and exercises easier because it gives you something else to concentrate on than just the muscle fatigue and supplies your muscles with oxygen.

I’ve been thinking about this the past couple of days because I realized that this applies to life too. This week, I have felt tired and lazy. And I found myself emotionally gritting my teeth to “just get through” the week – essentially, holding my breath to survive.

But is that really what God wants for me? Are I really reduced to just gritting my teeth to get through life?

The trouble is that I associate the fullest life with being on top of things, things going my way, falling into place, being easy.

The fullest life is still available even when life isn’t that way (which is often). Even on the days, weeks, or months when things are hard, I’m tired and feel overwhelmed, and everything feels like a burden. Instead of holding my breath to survive, I can breathe through life’s challenges with God. 

Just like holding my breath doing a Half Moon, it seems easier and less painful to not think too much and just go through the motions. To not care. To resign myself to life being crap for the next few days.

In reality, I’m making the situation worse. And when I actually think about what I’m doing, it seems ludicrous. Why do I think that hard situations are easier to handle without God?

It’s because I think He’ll make me (wo)man up and deal with the situation. And the last thing I want to do is deal with the situation. I want to escape, withdraw, ignore.

What I forget, though, is that living in dependence on God is where I find joy always. Not just when I feel up to it, or when life is going well, or when I’m naturally happy. Always.

I also forget that living in dependence on God doesn’t require me to feel me up to it, or life to be going well, or me to be naturally happy. In fact, living in dependence on God comes most easily when I am starkly aware of my weaknesses and insufficiency. When I feel too small for something too big. When I’m struggling with the same thing yet again. When I’m having trouble even mustering up the energy to not give up.

I find freedom in acknowledging reality. Instead of shutting down and going through life on autopilot, I can admit that the situations I’m facing are affecting me and that it’s not all coming up roses. Jesus promised us peace in the midst of difficulty – not peaceful circumstances.

I stop trying to change reality. Once I acknowledge the tough circumstance, I stay there. I don’t try to change, fix, or manipulate it. That’s God’s job. My job is trust. This is the challenge I come back to time and time again. Asking me to live with God in the midst of my weaknesses and insufficiency is like asking a dog to walk on its hind legs. It’s not impossible but it takes a lot of work to actually stay there because it’s not my natural inclination.

I focus on the moment and give thanks. In yoga, you breathe with the movements to get your mind focused on the here and now. Stop thinking about all the things you’re going to do later in the day, all the bills and laundry and dishes piling up at home. Live in the now. Jesus told us this too: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). I especially like The Message’s paraphrase:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

And the best way to live in the moment (I’m discovering) is to give thanks, for everything. Specifically. Audibly. Remember God’s blessings. Remember His faithfulness. Remember His grace.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a quote or two from Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts:

“Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow.”

“Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.”

Goal for 2013: Thanksgiving

17 Jan

gratitudeI’ve been thinking about the year ahead and what I want to focus on, and I keep coming back to Thanksgiving. Since reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp a year ago, I have seen what an amazing difference being thankful for God’s blessings makes in my experience of joy.

It keeps me focused on What Is, instead of What Should Be.

It reminds me that because of God’s intimate involvement in my life, my cup can always be full.

It satisfies me with God’s goodness (Jeremiah 31:14).

It enables me to love and serve others from a place of abundance and contentment, giving new meaning to ‘natural overflow.’

It highlights the grace that God provides even in hard situations and challenges.

It turns to me the ultimate thing to be thankful for, the reason why I have God’s favor and not His wrath – Christ’s death in my place and resurrection to eternal life.

Despite of all these benefits, it’s hard to remember to give thanks. Left to my own devices, I always run back to being consumed with The Way Things Should Be, which is really just me saying that The Ways Things Are isn’t good enough. Whether those ideas of ‘should’ are born from discontent with all that God freely gives, or an attempt to make my life conform more to the Christian ideal, they all lead to the same place: Guilt. Condemnation. Bondage.

Giving thanks for the reality of life is the freedom from that.

In giving thanks, I recognize God’s sovereignty in my life. I rest in the knowledge that He has created me to be who I am, given me the life that I have and provides sufficient grace for all that He calls me to. Who am I to say that things should be different?

Really, thanksgiving paves the path to contentment in God, and enables the full living of life in the moment, no matter what that reality entails.

So to practice thanksgiving regularly in 2013, I’m taking Ann Voskamp’s idea of writing down 1,000 gifts and tweaking it a bit.

My one goal is to write down one thing each day that I thank God for.

I plan to write it down at the end of the day or first thing the next morning, when I can reflect back on the day and be reminded of the ways God blessed me.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)