Cyber Monday Gratitude GIVEAWAY!!!!!

parentinghack

How’s everyone’s Cyber Monday going? Ours was great. We did no shopping, but I did go to my cardio aqua-therapy class!!  So fun and invigorating!

This giveaway is for two packs of fill-in-the-blank notes from Lil’ Miss Gratitude!!  One of your packs will be thank-yous, and the other pack will either be birthday cards or “Hello” cards.

The front of the cards come blank so your kids color the front, or you can also send them out uncolored! These are appropriate for ALL AGES of kids.

I colored this one!

No more tears! A solution for kids' thank you notes

My boys colored this one. Creative.

These are an awesome way to get your kids expressing gratitude, brightening someone else’s day, and all without the whining and fussing.

Here’s a sample of a completed card:

Sample of a “hello” card that we used as a thank you note.

Joshua needed to write about 12 thank you notes after his birthday party, and when he saw these fill-in-the-blank cards, he was so relieved, he ACTUALLY SAID, “Oh, phew. Thank you, Mom. Thank you so much for these. This makes it so much easier.”

Click here to learn more about Lil’ Miss Gratitude!

thanks

Giveaway rules! TWO simple ways to enter the giveaway this time.

1.) Subscribe to my newsletter. I have one going out this week! Already subscribed? No problem. That also counts. No need to subscribe again. Just click on the giveaway form below.

OR

2.) Visit Lil’ Miss Gratitude on Facebook, and  give her a “Like.” 

OR You could also do BOTH and get double entries.

I wish you could all win! Merry Christmas!!!!

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A Letter of Hope from 2003

 

a letter to war of hope from 2003

Alan and me the night he left for Iraq, 2003

This week is Veteran’s Day, and as the wife of a veteran it’s a holiday full of meaning for me. In honor of Veteran’s Day, I thought I’d share this letter that I wrote to Alan on New Year’s Eve, 2003. Alan was in Iraq, and I was living in Texas. What started out as this nightmarish, depressing event (sending my husband to war–I was all of 22 years old) had gradually turned into a year of growth and new friendships.

Did you know that we military wives have our own “battle buddies”? We do, and they were a life-saver that year. That was the year I learned that I do not enjoy teaching. I experienced the first major failure of my life when I quit that job before the year was over because it was so hard and miserable I couldn’t handle it.

I found many things I didn’t want to be. I thought I would never figure out what I DO want to be, so I headed back to graduate school, but the answers weren’t there either.

But I was never fully defeated because the Lord sustained me. He sustained me with mentors and friendships and love, and when 2003 closed, I was still full of hope. This is what I wrote to Alan:

**************************

9 months down!!!!!                             I love you!!!!!!!!

Wed.,  Dec. 31, 2003

Day 275

Wow! This is the final day of 2003. But like I read in one of your letters, it was indeed a rotten year. Good riddance, 2003! Don’t let the door hit you on your way out. One thing’s for sure. It’s a year we won’t soon forget.

 But I’m so glad it’s over. For me, 2004 brings so much hope! Much like 2002! I remember New Year’s 2002 so well, and so fondly. I KNEW big things were in store for me that year. I knew you were becoming an important part of my life. And I had a feeling my life would be forever changed. I had a feeling you were “the one.” I remember sitting on my porch, holding my little Sylvester and crying. They weren’t tears of sadness or even tears of extreme joy. I guess it was just a moment in which I was preparing myself for the future. And I was letting go of the little girl inside of me, the innocent girl about to be rescued by her prince, about to grow up.

 I didn’t know I would be getting married that year, or moving far away, or even that I’d be graduating. I knew nothing of what was in store. Yet I can CLEARLY remember that the Lord was preparing my heart.

He was preparing my heart for you. And all the wonderful things you brought into my life. No one changed my life more than you. But it was a wonderful change.

 On the flip side, 2003 was not so wonderful. It was equally eventful. Only the events of 2003 often brought grief and hard lessons to be learned. I know we have grown this year though. We do grow from trials.

 But 2004 means something much different to me than either 2002 or 2003. To me, it is a year of hope, love, and laughter. That’s because when I think about 2004, all I see is you coming home to me, and spending a year together with you. Wow! How amazing it will be! Me and you together at last!

 So from January to March. Those 3 months are the joy of anticipation. And then You. You here in my life again. I can’t wait!

 I don’t have a New Year’s resolution. But I have a New Year’s hope. It’s like the final hump in this long deployment. The halfway mark was hump 1. And the end of 2003 was hump 2 to me. 3/4 of this journey is over!

 Yes!

************

welcomehome

3 months later, I hung this sign at our very first home together. I lived by the airfield, so I got to see Alan’s ginormous cargo plane fly right over my house as it landed. I’ll never forget the elation of that day.

It was a 4 page letter, and that was the first 3 pages, and I actually did write “Yes!” that BIG at the bottom of page 3. I meant it that large. In fact, it’s actually a little bit larger. I wonder whatever happened to the fourth page.

Happy Veteran’s Day, y’all!! I’m so thankful for my veteran.

A Place to Write Out Answered Prayers

 

Yesterday we sang this song at church:

It starts quiet and gets louder. That’s not my church, just one I found on You Tube. This song is powerful, and even more so when you are there in person, singing it with other believers.

I could not stop my tears while singing this song. I have this problem that once my water works start it feels impossible to turn them off!! All of a sudden, I lose all ability to be tough or cool. I become total mush. Does that happen to you? It’s embarrassing, but it’s healing, and sometimes you have no choice really.

So today, why don’t we take time to remember? Do we remember?

There was this movie called The War Room, which starred Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore even had a small role in it. In the movie, an elderly woman served as Priscilla Shirer’s mentor. She had something hanging on her wall that I’d never seen before: a list of answered prayers.

It was a powerful film. I hope you get a chance to watch the whole thing later, but for now, here’s a dramatic clip:

This movie was GOOD, but because it was Christian you didn’t hear about it much. Go digging for it on the internet. It’s well worth your time. I mean I saw it a YEAR ago, and I’m still remembering things I learned in this movie!

Amazon sells it for $10, or if you have Starz, you can watch it for free:

The other big thing that stuck with me was having a closet to go pray in. Here at my new house I finally have both a list and a closet to pray in, and I am loving that.

I even made a pretty list to write my lists of answered prayers on. In only 30 minutes, I filled up four of these sheets, so if you want to use this, you may want to print 5, not just one. Yep. I turned it into a free printable, so I can share it with you.
Free Printable for Answered Prayer ListEach list is the size of a sheet of copy paper. Click here to print it. : answeredprayerWord

I have a black and white printer, so mine didn’t have the pretty colors after all. Sad! But yours can so long as you have a color printer.

I feel like I’m living the longest answered prayer ever this year. My list was long, and I won’t bore you with my list, but I do want to share this one with you.

I want to tell you about my support system this year. The hardest months were November 2015-April 2016. It felt like my physical body was crumbling. There were days I limped around with hip pain, and no one could tell me why. I would toss and turn, and I could not sleep because of that obnoxious hip, but no one could fix it. But the worst part was the fevers, because they would zap my energy and leave me feeling useless. Oh! And then the heart problem started. Then when they told me it was v-tach, and I read about v-tach, I thought, “Oh, great. I’m dying? I could just die any night in my sleep?”

Since my doctors couldn’t figure out my hip problem, they labeled me as having “many somatic complaints,” and they sent me to a counselor. Nice. So basically, if you have a sickness that docs don’t know how to fix they decide you need counseling. And there are lots of problems doctors cannot fix.

Many women would fall back on family during times like these, but when you live on the other side of the country from your family, you’d better hope you’ve made some friends.

It felt like a recipe for depression, my friends.

But that wasn’t how it turned out. Sometimes God sends people who are the answers to our prayers. That’s what happened for me. I want to tell you about three people who were answers to my prayers.

analise

Analise, my substitute

Analise

I hired Analise to watch the boys each Friday while I went to my weekly doctor visits and tests at the cardiologist, the rheumatologist, the counselor, the physical therapist, and the chiropractor.

Ladies, don’t ever feel like you are “just a nanny.” Analise was 1000 times more than just a nanny. That is a noble calling. I could not have made it through this year without her, and she was a source of happiness for my boys who were having to cope with having a mom that was “always sick.” She was fun and energetic, but she was also mature enough to handle two boys who were supposed to be doing their schoolwork, along with two pre-schoolers.

Analise was a gift from God. She was the answer to my literal cry for help.

laura

My unofficial support group of friends: Every single one is a blessing. Laura is the one on the far right.

Laura

Laura was Daniel’s best friend’s mother. She had Daniel at her house about as much as I had him at mine, and I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t. I would also come home to little gifts from her all the time: bath fizzies, Bama cupcakes, and her signature sidewalk art.

Laura offered that touch that reminded me that I was still a person of value, even when I was sick and confused.

answered prayers

The incredible women in my home school support group. Paola is the second from the end on the right, on the sofa. Man, I miss these ladies!!

Paola

What you might not know about me is that I have this need to follow the rules and …..win. I like winning. That’s right. I too want to win and win biggly. (Hehe!) I crave success. So when I started failing, it was quite the avalanche of pride. Oh, what a humbling year it was.

I could not keep up as Joshua’s grammar/writing teacher. He had his computer program for math, but grammar was on me. But our grammar/writing tutoring sessions were every Monday afternoon. No matter how hard I tried, doctor appointments kept falling on Monday afternoon. And fevers. And just my general mess!

Fail. Fail. Fail. I felt like I was constantly failing. Joshua actually had to direct himself for most of his school work for most of that school year. I felt like I was setting him up for failure.

When we would make it on Monday afternoons, we’d be behind on assignments, because of me. Plus, JD’s entire day would be thrown off from the lack of nap at daycare, and Joshua would be in misery because he wasn’t getting much out of that class as unprepared as he was.

I didn’t have it in me to stay for Monday afternoons any longer. It took so much of my energy reserves to finish a Monday that I finally realized I could not keep it up.

We could handle the three-hour Monday morning tutoring sessions, but packing a lunch for all of us and staying for the afternoon became too much.

So it was with great humility that I wrote Paola (the Essentials tutor, Joshua’s teacher for the 2 hour afternoon session) a long note explaining why we had to drop Essentials with only five or so weeks left in the program.

And what I got from Paola was something I won’t forget. I’d back that woman up for any battle she may ever need help with. Paola gave me grace. 

She agreed that our course of action was best for us. She sympathized with all we were going through. She allowed Joshua to continue turning in his grammar charts to her, but she didn’t pressure us for anything at all. In fact, when the year was over, she congratulated me on persevering to the finish.

Have you ever known someone who gave you the exact encouragement that you needed and more? I felt like such a flake that whole semester because of all the “no’s” I was having to say. But Paola and the other CC moms accepted us right where we were in life.

It wasn’t just Paola that gave me support last school year. All of my fellow Classical Conversations moms were understanding and helpful. If only I could have brought my California friends with me to the South!

Sometimes God uses people to answer our prayers, and truly even to teach us what grace feels like. Grace, hope, and love. I hope that he will use me to bless others as greatly as my friends and family have blessed me.

What a year of answered prayers. I can’t wait to see what God does next. I want you to all know that I am doing much better now. Thank you so much for loving us through the hard times.

Be sure to get the printable and share what God has done in your life.

 

 

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