Thursday, November 27, 2008

With Thankful, Grateful Hearts

"The First Thanksgiving Observance
A Proclamation Signed in Script Type by George WashingtonAppearing in The Massachusetts Centinel of October 14, 1789

This historic proclamation was issued by George Washington during his first year as President. It sets aside Thursday, November 26 as 'A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer.'
Signed by Washington on October 3, 1789 and entitled 'General Thanksgiving,' the decree appointed the day 'to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.'

While there were Thanksgiving observances in America both before and after Washington's proclamation, this represents the first to be so designated by the new national government. "

-taken from

What a day to thank the Lord for His many "favors" to us. We have so many things to be grateful for. That was the theme of our table this year..."Grateful".

We were so happy to have a table to gather around with special friends and dear family. This year we enjoyed the company of the Shauan Family, Nana (Todd's Mom) and Uncle Brad (Todd's youngest brother). It was a sweet time of conversation, yummy foods and a bit of laughter.

Every year, prior to this, we have had outreach with our students and staff. This has included feeding the homeless, delivering meals to those unable to leave home and delivering whole meals to families in our community. We then would gather, all of us together, for our own Thanksgiving meal.

This year, we were able to collect food and put together, and deliver, over 200 meal boxes for those families in our community that are unable to provide a Thanksgiving meal for their families. These meals included a whole turkey, green beans, mashed potaotes, stuffing, bread, cranberries, butter...all the "fixins", including dessert! What a joy! After we finished deliveries on Monday and Tuesday night, we started preparing for our YWAM Family Thanksgiving. We celebrated, all 30 of us, on Wednesday.

As we shared a wonderful meal, we also took time to share the history of Thanksgiving (for our family members from India, S. Korea and England) as well as what we are most thankful for. Over, and over again, we heard how thankful we all are for this "family", this group of people, this time in our lives, our fellow journeymen...

We really are grateful for the people the Lord has chosen to surround us with. What a privilege to be walking this same road.

May you find JOY in your journey, as you look around and see who the Lord has graciously placed beside you as you journey on.

10 Things I am most grateful for at this very moment...

1. the relationship I have with the Lord

2. my precious family

3. my amazing friends, both near and far

4. the job I get to have with YWAM

5. my dinner club nights

6. the home that the Lord has blessed me with

7. that I get to celebrate Christmas in Minnesota

8. my computer

9. creativity

10. House, CSI Miami, Law and Order

Happy Thanksgiving !!!

A Most Unexpected Bloom

This is my last "Blooms of Summer" posting...seeing as it is Thanksgiving Day, even in the South it is hard to push a bloom this late into the season!

For the past few years, we have had the privilege of going to the Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, for summer holiday. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world to us. (My brother in law's family has a place that they have graciously invited us to enjoy). Due to our busy schedule, we were unable to go this summer.

Because of that busy schedule, we really were desperate to get away. Both Todd and I needed time away, our kids needed it. At one point, I felt that I was crawling through sand just to get a break. I was really wondering if I could even "bloom" in The Wilderness. (Today, it seems like a lifetime ago...for that I am so grateful.) Todd called some friends who have a rental business on Top Sail Island, to see if they had anything open this late in the season. They did! They gave us an amazing deal, and we were off.

I did have a lot of apprehension in going. Jackson was having a hard time, he was upset a lot, showing more and more aggression and just unsettled. Would we have neighbors? Would Jackson's behavior allow me a break? Would I be doing the same thing that I did at home, only in a different location?

Todd went a day ahead of us (scheduling issues) and made all the beds, stocked the fridge, put familiar things around, checked out the location, etc. He called to tell us that we were an arm's throw from the beach, it was beautiful and that someone staying across the path from us had a bumper sticker that said, "I love someone with autism." God, in His mercy, heard my prayer. Hopefully, they would love our "someone" with autism.

Needless to say, our time away was so healing. The sand, the sun, the salty air. We spent whole days at the beach, I'm talking 9:30-4:30! We could run into the condo whenever we wanted something. It was close enough that if Jackson wanted to watch a movie, he could go inside and do that...perfect. His behavior was great. Ashley was a huge help as well. We grilled every night, that made Jackson's whole week!

We were curious about our neighbors. One day, I saw them on the beach. It was a young mom, working with her six year old son in the sand. She would draw the ABC's and together they would stand on them and she would say, "A" and he would repeat. I told her what an amazing job she was doing and introduced myself. She also had a baby girl with her. Her kids were the same age spread of ours.

We had a few conversations through out the week. At the end, she said she was so encouraged by our family. She said, "Watching your family is like seeing our lives, 10 years from now. I do not have to worry about our daughter. We will be able to do things." God, in His mercy...

The week was also filled with long walks, many shark sightings (4, seven foot long, about 10 yards away from me...thank God I was on the beach and not swimming!!!), flying kites, reading, play and laughter!

On my walks I saw these amazing flowers, growing in the sand with intense heat and humidity, the wind whipping around, pelting sand. All summer I had felt the heat, felt like I was crawling through the sand, sometimes crawling against the wind and pelting sand. And yet, here were these beautiful flowers, drawing me in. During the summer, I never doubted the Lord, but I cried out in deep desperate ways...sometimes saying, "How much more Lord? Really..."

He says that He knows me, He knows my frame. He knows that I am but dust. He will not give me more than I can bear. He also knows that He has a destiny, a purpose in my life. He has made me to withstand the heat, humidity, intense sun, the pelting winds. Out of all of that, a flower blooms that has colors that catch your eye. What a wonderment to see a thing of great beauty in a place of seemingly harsh conditions. God, in His mercy...

May He find me, His creation, of great beauty!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Prettiest of Blooms

This is another promised "Bloom of Summer"...

My sweet, dear friend, Janelle, sent me a beautiful Mother's Day package in May. It had amazing goodies wrapped with such care (including my favorite pajamas), but what I cherish most is the hand written letter. Her letters are the kind that I make a cup of coffee for, find a cozy place and then sit down and get lost in their beauty.

This particular letter remains close to me at all times. She wrote many beautiful words, but I found myself treasuring, and smiling at, these, "Ashley finds inspiration and beauty in your relationship, she has also found a friend for life. How cool is that? To birth your own friend?"

Yeah! That is birth my own friend. I have never thought of it that way. Oh, but what a sweet friend she "Prettiest of Blooms".

It is hard to believe that 10 years ago this past June, our little flower came a bit too early. (As life has gone on, we see that it was only that she did not want to miss any of the action!) She was born at 34 weeks and was a tiny little peanut. I got a brief glimpse of her before she was whisked off to NICU. It was days before we were able to hold her. I remember when they said I could hold her. I felt that I had just been crowned Miss America and they were placing the roses in my arms. It was a glorious moment for me...wires and all!

The years have passed, albeit too quickly, and I find many of my adventures are shared with her. She is 10 and can hold a conversation with anyone. She is the most compassionate person I know. She loves children. She is a helper and a friend to many. She is a great traveler. Her giggle is genuine, and when you realize that, you can't help but join in. She loves God and she loves others.

Birthdays are always a fun, BIG deal for us. Life is SO precious, and we do not take it for granted. We have done Hello Kitty, The Incredibles, American favorite, so far, was the Willie Wonka party! The invites were Golden Tickets. We painted huge lollies and stuck them in the front yard. There was candy EVERYWHERE. Kids had to come as their favorite character from the movie. One boy went home saying, "I never thought that I would say this but, I think I ate too much candy!" He was holding his tummy...

As Ashley gets older, she really wants to plan the party. (For a mom who loves to do surprises, it is a bit of a bummer.) This year we got creative together. It was HSM (High School Musical) beach party. We spent the day at the water park and then off to pizza. I made her a t-shirt that says, "Single Digits are SO last year!" What a great day with friends.

I am grateful for the flowers in my garden, my blooms of summer. I am grateful to the Lord for the daughter He has given me. Sometimes, I have been sad for the kids I didn't have, when really, God has given me the greatest gift. I celebrate, and am grateful for, this precious daughter, my life long friend!