Friday, November 23, 2012

Full of Thanks (and food) and Advent Fast Approaching

We enjoyed a quiet holiday in my neck of the woods. Yesterday we ran around in short sleeves and today we huddled under blankets as snow fell, our second of the season. It never quite feels like Thanksgiving if there is not even a spit of snow somewhere in the days surround Thanksgiving.

I truly have so much to be thankful for. It is one little tradition I work hard at keeping up with the kids. The simplest way to do that is to have it happen at the dinner table. Just a few simple words, "What did you like best about today?" Thankfully, nearly every night - and lunch and breakfast - we are able to enjoy one another's company. Sometimes it still is a mad rush to eat on the rare occasion we are leaving our house post-dinner and many a time it is just a plain, loud, noisy affair and the question is not brought up. It really is fun to hear the answers. At the moment, Miss Bear is always thankful for being three. That's her answer to everything, "Three!"

Giving thanks has kept me sane over the past months as I struggle with a bit of depression. I don't know how it's "a bit" but I do not want to come across as complaining. I have been through this before and no doubt will struggle with it again. And I do feel oh so much better than I did just a few short months ago and for that I am very thankful. I continue to trust in God's healing, even if at times it feels so very, very slow. Now that I can help God out with my own healing, giving thanks each night before bed was truly my saving grace. When the only prayers I could utter were short, pleading prayers, somehow prayers of thanksgiving sprang easily to my mind and I let them pour out. I was constantly reminded of what I did have, and of how very blessed I am.


The month of November always brings two things right to my mind - death and thanksgiving. The kids and I - and even dad joins in some nights - have a tradition that I call our "grateful tree." Back in October I let the kids go wild with newspaper and red and yellow paint. Once it dried I used a template and cut out leaves. The leaves, a handful of paperclips, and a marker come together in a little jar that I keep near the tree. And the tree? It is a nice multi-branched, well, branch from the yard that I spray painted gold a few years ago. I used some foam (the kind from the florist section of a craft store) so the branch stands up in a pretty little pot and then filled it in with some paper and fall colored gem stones. Each night or so the kids say what they are thankful for, I write it down and they hang up their leaf. It is so pretty to look at and it is a great visual reminder of all we have to be thankful for.

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I have had a lot on my mind lately, one of those items being this blog. For a long while I considered the idea of not blogging at all, but I do not think that is the answer. I want to continue but I have a feeling I will be quiet for a bit longer as I figure out where I want to go on here. What I am going to do is prepare my heart and home in joyful anticipation this Advent, which is rapidly approaching!

Along the right side of my blog you will find all the links to last year's posts on all the ideas I use and have used. Over the next few weeks, I focus on emptying and cleaning our home. Of all my traditions, this is one I personally find visually refreshing. One, it prepares my home for the holiday but it also provides a sense of anticipation as I go from a clean, almost spare environment to slowly filling my home with signs of the season. 

For the kids, I most love the Jesse Tree, which shares our salvation history in a nutshell using a fun, hands-on daily activity, starting with the creation of the world to the birth of Christ. All it takes is a few minutes a day, but you could certainly add more to it if you so desired. We simply read the appropriate Bible story, find and hang the matching ornament.

For the family, my favorite tradition is the Advent Wreath, which we light each night at dinner, along with saying additional prayers. This year I am going to try lighting it with the kids in the morning to start our morning devotions along with an appropriate children's Advent prayer.

One new thing this year for the kids that we will try in a fun, let's see how it goes kind of way, is the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure. It's a free daily video/prayer/activity kind of thing. At the very least, the kids will enjoy the videos and they can see other kids living out their faith just as we do here.

I am also going to sign up for this Advent Study: Keeping Our Hearts Focused on Jesus, an Advent journey put together by GoodMorningGirls.org, that begins on November 26th through December 21st. Thanks Lisa for the link! I am excited to see what happens with this.

And now, before Advent carries me away, I look forward to this Sunday's feast, the Feast of Christ Our King, and how appropriate to celebrate such a day at the end of the liturgical year, before we celebrate the birth of Jesus, which also reminds us that Christ will come again. He has ever been, is now, and will always be our king.

God bless.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Nicole, love your tree! I've been through bouts of depression myself and I know how tough it can be...the only thing I can say is lean on Him heavily. Focusing on the things we have to be grateful for does keep the balance somehow, doesn't it?

    I hope you do keep blogging, its always nice to visit your place and I do get some inspiration from you too...as you can see from my blog :) Thanks for the links here, I will check them out.

    I'm glad you're going to do the study. I went through the e-book and it is really well put together and has so many beautiful and inspiring activities to do with the family too.

    Enjoy your preparations...its a busy but beautiful time!

    God's blessings to you and yours!

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  2. Thanks for dropping by Lisa Maria! And for your words of advice. I really am doing better. I am in that shadowy state of doing better but still hovering over the edge, and really that makes it easier for me to help myself.

    I started glancing at the study last night and it does look wonderful. I'm going to print out some pages today and look more closely. :)

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  3. So sorry you are still struggling with depression! I understand slowing down the blogging, but I do enjoy reading what you write! The advent study looks great, we are do a "storybook advent" this year that I put together but will have to remember it for next year! We have a lot of the same favorite traditions that you do!

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  4. Thanks Sylvia. The study is more for me - focus daily on scripture. It does include family stuff but all that is optional. We're also doing a Christmas Around the World mini study that I got free last Christmas but didn't use. We'll see what gets done from that... ;)

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  5. Thanks Sylvia. The study is more for me - focus daily on scripture. It does include family stuff but all that is optional. We're also doing a Christmas Around the World mini study that I got free last Christmas but didn't use. We'll see what gets done from that... ;)

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Thank you for stopping by. I love to chat. God bless!