Thankful Thursday #113

Opryland, Nashville 2006
Whoa, who are those kiddos and how in six years did they change so very much? 
1073. twinkling lights on the Christmas tree
1074. stockings hung
1075. telling stories of past ornaments
1076. woolly socks
1077. siblings that make me laugh
1078. Christmas cards
1079. brown paper packages, yes tied up with string
1080. Advent season
1081. turkey leftovers 
1082. just learned piano playing

Alot of Stuff

So as not to pass over any event as trite I am going to designate this post Thanksgiving only.  There, done and done.  This year we decided to stay  put up here in the great North for the holidays.  No driving for us.  Little did we know Grandpa Ron and Mema were thinking about a trip to celebrate with us.  Nice.  Add to that the three girl Things' baptism, a post for another day, and they were in.  Which lead me to planning a feast not just for our six, but the eight of us.  A task I love.
The Things and I planned our menu, grocery shopped and set about to bake and prepare the day before.  Here we are in the kitchen, diligently stirring, chopping and mixing.
 Notice the no shirt-apron look, it's how we roll around here
My girls and me
Just for posterity's sake, Thing 4 made the corn casserole this year, Thing 3 was in charge of pumpkin pie, Thing 2 cranberry sauce and most of the chopping for stuffing, etc., Thing 1 pecan chocolate chip pie.  Me, everything else.  With the exception of lefse, that is Mema's specialty and a few of the Things pitched in to help her once again.  There is nothing like fresh lefse on Thanksgiving morning.
I let Mema take the reigns in the kitchen while Husband Jared and I headed out for a run on a rare but totally appreciated 60 degree day.  I am nothing but determined to be grateful for all that comes with living here in winter's domain. 
Our morning was slow and sweet, just the way I like them and that run propelled me into gratefulness I wasn't quite prepared for.  It was wonderful.  We came home to Things and grandparents sharing snacks, watching football and playing cards.  Once the table was set and the side dishes had cooked we sat down to enjoy the meal and read all the thankfulness that overflowed from the "thankful tank" this year.  Among the tops were Jesus, and all the family time we've spent together during this fall season.  What gifts to remember.

 The family gathered

Our table
 Mother and Son
Card playing that took place morning, noon and night
We had originally planned on a walk around the bluffs and to the creek but the weather had a different agenda.  The rain, then sleet and finally snow came falling and the wind was blistering.  A nap on the sofa was a much better option.  After we rested and talked and laughed some more we enjoyed pie and coffee and some card playing.  Then off to bed for an early morning rise.  For what else but shopping!
 To round out the family Thanksgiving experience us girls, Thing 3 excluded, woke early, made coffee and hit the icy road ready for crowds, Christmas music and fun! And that is exactly what we had.  A few hours of line free shopping at MOA and Mema had taken care of all the Things' Christmas presents and even admitted to rather enjoying her shopping experience.  You must understand Mema and I are not terribly fond of shopping but mix that up with two excitable Things who can navigate the mall like no body's business and we found ourselves laughing the time away.  Memories made.

 The boys and Thing 3 had gone bowling and were ready to share their scores and highlights of the morning as well.  So we did and then we were all set for a friendly game of Catch Phrase.  Or not!  Our family, Hanson 6, is extremely competitive, shocking right?  Needless to say the game was not without arguments and questionable points and belly laughter.  All for the sake of the game.  It is always a hoot to listen to your children describe something from their perspective and then even better when the four of them are on the same wave length and don't even need to use words.  It was as if they had their own secret language.  Interesting.  For the record though, the parents and grandparents won, and the Things had dish duty that night.  After our trip to the movies.  A full day for all of us and one we won't soon forget.  Thanks Grandpa and Mema for making the trek up here and spending a few days making memories with us. 

Thankful Thursday #112

A view from a dear friends' home in Urla, Turkey...missing them and that place, but ever so grateful for our time there
1063. family visits to celebrate important stuff
1064. everyone in the kitchen, helping
1065. hearing thankfuls from the thankful tank around the table
1066. an outdoor run in shorts
1067. snow the same day
1068. a new warm coat
1069. movies and snuggles
1070. three girls who made a life changing decision on the eve of Thanksgiving
1071. sweet sounds of Things and Mema and Grandpa
1072. phone calls and Face time and talking with far away family

Love, Thanksgiving and Letters

I know I've said it here on the blog before and those of you who know me in real life must know by now I have an affinity for the written word.  It must have started with my mother.  Whom as far back as I can remember wrote letters and cards.  In fact she had a box organized by month with birthday cards, thank you cards, etc.  She encouraged me to have a pen pal, a cousin in Michigan.  We would write back and forth and when we moved away from my first child hood friend in the first grade I was told to write to her.  And I did.  More than the actual writing, which seems to be a lost art these days, is the thought, the time and the love that flows onto the page when penned.  Letter writing seems to be in the midst of a revival though.  Lest you think letter writing is not for you, I encourage you to watch Hannah Brencher and listen to this young woman share her story.  Teary eyed I made it through the entire video, so moved that I sat down to write what else but a letter.

The very next thought I had after viewing the video and reading some of Ms. Brencher's writings was how unmistakably powerful words can be.  Whether they are random notes found by strangers, thought provoking billboards, articles from your favorite magazine, a few paragraphs on a friend's blog; There is a realness and vulnerability to sharing life in that way. 

Which brings me to how incredibly thankful I am for words.  For letters written past, present and future.  From historians, theologians, friends, family members, love letters and those sweet, innocent letters I receive from my Things now as a Mama.  Pure thanksgiving.  To say I was inspired by the clip above isn't completely accurate.  I did experience joy in her words, in the mission field she chose and the impact it is having.  And don't we all have that capability?  A note in a lunch box?  A letter to say thank you?  Birthday card? An I miss you card?  A letter to say you matter, I believe in  you, let me share my joy.  Go and write in your penmanship and let someone know just how much you truly care.  Yes, even a stranger. 

Thankful Thursday #111

fun on the swings, love those smiles
1053. thing 2 finishing dinner for me on a late work day
1054. thing 3 baking cookies for a friend's family
1055. sweet time sharing deep with a friend
1056. forgiveness from a friend, a sweet gift
1057. thing 4's surprise note on my phone
1058. thing 1's excitement for her job interview
1059. menu planning for a Thanksgiving feast
1060. knowing it's only a season 
1061. learning again and again
1062. LOVE


Heavy heart after a fitful night's sleep.
What's ailing you my daughter.  Why won't you say.
How do I uncover what lies beneath the surface. 
We throw around words like authentic and genuine, community, and yet emptiness is what fills.  The elephant in the room.  Am I the one blocking.  Do I build the walls.  Have shattered expectations. 
Place my trust, my fulfillment in man.  In idols.  Things that do not live eternal. 
Sure I pray.  I seek.  I knock.  Am I relentless though.  A wild at heart desperate for the gospel, the man behind the gospel.  Jesus. 
Do I give life in my relationships.  Or am I the one that takes and doesn't give.  I desire to give and give more.  Serve like never before.  In small ways.  Unexpected and deliberate always. 
Does the Spirit lead.  Is peace found in the Life giver Himself.  Not in the world that surrounds. 
 I hope.  I cling.  I am down on my knees.  Here is where I beg for my soul to be invaded.  For my heart to break over what breaks His.  For the head knowledge I know to be true to be felt throughout.  Felt so that it pours over.  A life lived well.  Radically pursuing a God I can not see. 

Thankful Thursday #110

1043. dishes cleaned by Husband Jared
1044. hot coffee in my hands on a cold night
1045. prayers answered
1046. a mess of wires in the basket
1047. clean sheets
1048. blank calendars
1049. music loud in an empty house 
1050. dreaming big
1051. awaiting family visits
1052. sweet words spoken

A Melt Down

How to begin this post?  I am reflecting on an incident that took place with Thing 3 on Friday night.  More like all day Friday but that is not necessarily important.  I have thought about this, prayed about it and now I felt compelled to write about it.  Because that my friends is how I process best. 
Let's begin with the back story.  There is a special opportunity at our church that presents itself once a month to junior and senior high students.  A chance to put others before self and experience life on the streets of our city.  For the record, I have never pressured or prompted our Things to serve in this capacity, this is something they have taken on as their own.  So, this month is the junior high students turn, which is where Thing 3 comes into play.  She requested I sign her up and notify her leader that she would like to attend said outing and serve.  Great.  Done and done. 
Only come the scheduled day we encounter reluctance.  And not just passive I don't really want to go but a definite attack of the spirit.  Any excuse possible surfaced, I'm tired, I don't feel well, and my personal favorite, none of my friends are going.  Now let me tell you, Husband Jared and I had responded in kind all day.  You are going, you made the commitment, let's move on.  It wasn't until an hour before that this all came to a head.  Standing in the kitchen Thing 3 began sobbing.  This girl tends to have a dramatic flair but this was very out of character.  My initial response would have been to let loose on her, unleash the proverbial parenting nonsense and then I felt the prompting and it could not be ignored.  That is after my threat of taking certain privileges away and seeing the shoulders drop and the heaviness enter her and then it became crystal clear more was at stake here then just a night of serving.  I took a step back and a rather deep breath and looked into her heart. 
We talked.  Females are social, relational creatures by design.  Upon learning she would be on her own in an already uncomfortable situation she resisted.  She understood this night was not about her or her friends. It was serving.  Taking on a servant's heart and being the hands and feet to those that don't know.  A Great Commission.  I had no words, the disappointment had struck and I wasn't sure I would be speaking words that would make her soul stronger.  So I prayed and asked for them.  And I still didn't have them.  I let her off the hook and sent her upstairs.  Note:  another fine parenting moment goes down in the books.  I thought after the first prompting that I had it.  I clearly didn't. 
Thing 2 entered the equation and talked to her and I tried effortlessly to listen.  She said something that stirred Thing 3 and they both bounded downstairs and I received an apology.  Seems as though missing out on other activities wasn't worth not going.  I prayed her motivation might be turned from the thought of her comfort and social calendar to those that would cross her path that night.  I forgave her and in that asked for her forgiveness too for losing it and not seeing straight.  It happens and more often than I care to admit. 
There we were.  In the parking lot and her ready to go.  We stopped for a moment and prayed.  Prayed over the night, the leadership team the students, we prayed for safety and opportunity and we asked the Holy Spirit to rain down on them.  On all of them.  I prayed for her, Thing 3, that she would know Jesus better because of this  and that her heart would break for what breaks His.  I thanked Him for allowing me to be her Mama and for the gift she is.  We asked for forgiveness and accepted His grace, offered again and again.  Then she left.  And not more than two hours later I received this text, "Thanks Mama for making me come tonight, I love you."  Still brings tears to my eyes.  A sweetness that I certainly did not deserve and one I am grateful for all over again. 
The night ended and when we picked her up we heard all the stories of the people she met and served and all the laughter and fellowship she experienced.  And here I sit on a Monday morning thinking about the lesson I learned in all of this.  Our Father in heaven deals with this repeatedly in my relationship with Him.  He calls me into sanctification.  To His holy presence.  Walking with Him and following His commands.  Obedience at it's purest.  Yet I resist.  Over and over again.  Too many times to count.  I don't want to serve.  I fool myself into thinking that what the world offers is better.  My comfort should come first.  I know better than He.  Obviously not my friends.  In all transparency here can I just get an Amen?  I know only what He has allowed me to know.  And in my quest to know Him better than more is revealed.  Only then.  Full surrender is what He's after.  Mind, body, spirit.  All I can do in my humanness is fall on my knees, ask for forgiveness and accept His grace that He freely gives.  Then I can offer that to others.  Not because I love Him so much or I am capable in my flesh but because He loves us infinitely more than we can fathom. 
That is when I can say to Thing 3, I love you and like our Jesus I am more concerned about who you will be in five years than your temporal happiness and comfort in the now. 

No Photos

Well there are no photos of all my Things together in their costumes and not even one photo of Thing 3 in her costume.  Nada.  Zilch.  Not even one of her with her friend.  Can you believe that?  When I asked Husband Jared that question his reply was, "absolutely".  You see, in my defense, we had a house full of people.  And while I do love the house being full of friends and food and laughter I was a bit off my game.  There were two boys that were so excited they could hardly stand themselves.  All geared up in the morphsuits they were hoping, fingers crossed and all, that they would be able to brave the neighborhood on their own this year.  Sans parents.  Um excuse me, but when did my baby grow up enough to trick or treat by himself?  Alright then, the boys received clearance from both sets of parents and they hit the ground running.  Literally.  I did manage to snap a photo of them before chaos ensued.  Take a look and if you understand the premise behind these morphsuits please explain.  I just don't get it.  Regardless these two, Thing 4 on the left and his buddy on the right are what we refer to as the "boy wonders" and they rocked the morphsuits.

I suppose I should share a photo or two of crew we had at our house, at least to begin with.  We ended the night with more than we started with and like I mentioned above, no photos of Thing 3 to be found.  Still puzzled by that one. 

Let me explain.  We, well I, made two crock pots of chili, one red, white, I baked some mini corn dog muffins, had a friend bring over her famous apple cider and we proceeded, oops, I, proceeded in inviting over friends and neighbors.  Said friends and neighbors have small children and in the photo they are all preparing themselves for trick or treating.  Costumes, gloves, hats, coats and of course plastic pumpkins for carrying the candy.  It wasn't until all the littles left with my big Things that I took a deep breath.  Then another friend of teenage daughters and I looked at each other and really exhaled and realized that it was quiet.  That's when we quickly grabbed another bowl of chili and sat down for some grown up conversation.  I had forgotten what it was like when my Things were that age.  All the preparation and excitement and non stop activity and all the needing of  Mama.  While I loved that stage and sometimes miss it I am so grateful for how good it was then and how good it is now.  

All of this excitement and chaos and littleness consumed me.  I was taken with it.  I tried to remain a welcoming and helpful hostess through it all and yet I was too distracted to take photos of my own Things.  Way to go Mom of the year!  I do however have a few photos of our pumpkin carving that took place the night before.  The Things chose, cleaned and carved their own pumpkins.  No help required.  Maybe a few nods of approval or encouraging words, that was all.  They did a fantastic job if I do say so myself.  Take a look for yourself.

Thing 1- classic jack-o-lantern

 Thing 4 - grim creeper stencil, challenging

 Thing 2 - haunted house stencil - very challenging,
she even managed a blister and good hours work on this one
 Thing 3 - an eclectic collection of eyes and mouths, creative, inventive and entirely her
I do think that these may make up for my lack of photos from Halloween night.  Maybe?  Hopefully the Things will forgive me, we have bigger fish to fry, right?

The group left for trick or treating and then Thing 3's friend and her family joined us.  Then Thing 3 and said friend hit the neighborhood in hopes that there would still be porch lights on.  All returned a while later their bags full and a trail of wrappers behind them.   Candy trading went down and some intense negotiations took place, both with the girls and the boys.  Then in between them all.  Entertaining.  More laughter ensued, too much sugar was ingested and I think it fair to say that we all ended our night happily with our bellies full.

Thankful Thursday #109

The pumpkins on Halloween night
1033. a full house
1034. Things that help the littles
1035. fellowship
1036. new friends being introduced
1037. breaking bread
1038. Thing 2 speaking truth to a stranger
1039. real laughter
1040. learning the history
1041. inside jokes with my people
1042. laundry basket emptied, washed, folded
and put away all in the same day