Give Thanks Always

November 2022

[This is my monthly newsletter for November 2022. If you’d like to subscribe, shoot me an email at]

This year I’m determined to get ahead of the holiday rush. So far I’m only two months behind schedule. I had big plans to do a massive pre-holiday Costco shopping trip this morning, but my shopping buddy woke with a painful shoulder and arm so we’re delayed. 

In good news, this gives me an unexpected opportunity to write to you. 

Before I forget, if you are an adoptive parent and you’ve ever considered joining The Village (and Hope Circle), we are offering free open-house gatherings in December 2022. Drop in and check it out!

 A Few Highlights

I spent two weeks in Boston with my daughter and son-in-law who just had their first baby. They temporarily relocated to give birth in Boston so my granddaughter could be treated at Boston Children’s for multiple congenital heart defects.

This has been a challenge of endurance—joy and hope mingle with exhaustion and fear. They want nothing more than for baby B to be well enough for them to take her home where her local pediatric cardiology team will continuously monitor her.

Please pray for baby B and her incredible parents.

As we move through November, I invite you to join me in reflection with three questions. Three questions for November:

1. What is life-giving to you right now?
2. What do you feel thankful for in November?
3. Name one thing you’re learning.

I’ll go first. 

1. What is life-giving to you right now?

I recently downloaded this Spotify playlist to keep me company as I work. You can search Spotify for Tsh Oxenreider and her playlist Cozy Writing or try this link. I generally opt for as much silence as possible while I write, but I’m beginning to think instrumental music helps me focus. I also enjoy this playing in the background when I’m not writing. Let me know if you like it!
2. What do you feel thankful for in November?

I originally wrote this question as, “What do you feel deeply thankful for in November?” But that word, deeply, felt too important and I was stumped, so I’ll lighten the thinking load for all of us.

Walking in the dark, that’s what I feel thankful for right now. I love walking and am most consistent when I tie it to another reason for leaving my house. I live outside of town and while I can go down through my pasture and across my neighbor’s driveway to walk on a rural road (as opposed to the highway at the end of my driveway) it often feels like too much effort, especially once we get snow. As a result, I generally drive into town and walk my dog along a nice path.

One of my sons recently started going to football conditioning at 5:00 four afternoons a week. My initial thought was, “That’s a terrible time! How am I going to make dinner?” Then I realized I could get dinner started, drop him off, take a walk, and make it back to finish dinner before everyone got home.

But it’s dark at 5:00, so I wear a reflective hat and vest over my black down jacket and I just got a fantastic lighted dog leash. I’m surprised to find I like walking in the dark, it feels like comfortable solitude.
3. Name one thing you’re learning.

Friends, I had no idea how hard it is to have a baby in the NICU, or in our case, the Cardiac ICU. I knew it would be exhausting, but it’s far more than that. The days are incredibly long with little to no sleep and it is hard to even eat. It got better once we figured out how to order food and trade in and out of the room to eat in the family lounge. Until then it seemed like we subsisted on packets of peanut butter and crackers for far too long after B was born.

There were families at the hospital from all over the world. The depth of the loneliness of being with your child in another part of the world, away from all family, friends, and support is more than I can imagine even after witnessing it. Some families are there for months.

Thankfully, I was able to be with my little family for two weeks and my son-in-law’s mother has continued to stay after I had to leave. I hope to help again once they are back in their home and adjusting to life with a new baby.
How about you? Please hit reply to this email to share your thoughts with me. I wish I could reply to every email, but know I read each one and I’m so delighted to hear from you.

One last thing, if you celebrate Advent (which I love) remember to get your Advent candles! The first day of Advent is Sunday, November 27.

Remember, you’re a good parent doing good work, and I think the world of you.

With love and hope,


P.S. If you’d like to connect with me more frequently, I invite you to join The Hope Circle, where I spend time with the most incredible group of adoptive moms I know. The Hope Circle is now part of The Village which offers even more resources. If you have questions, hit reply and let me know.


It Occurred to Me…

I’ve loved this blog for so many years but I rarely make it here. I don’t know if anyone still checks it! Most months I send an email to my readers and it occurred to me I can share it here too. This is what I sent last week – October 2022.

Hello friend,

October is one of my favorite months. I always dreamed of having an October wedding like my parents. One of my favorite photos was taken of them running outside the church as the crowd lovingly pelted them with rice. Russ and I got married in June, which was what you did when you were undergrads and wanted as much time together as possible before another semester began. No regrets – but I love an October day.

As I write today, I’m sitting outside in the front yard soaking up the warmth of this early fall day, a black shawl wrapped over my shoulders. When we were in the accident, a helpful person pulled this from her car to wrap around us. At first, this shawl, and everything related to that tragic day, made me anxious and I didn’t want it near me. But as the years have passed, a sad sweetness has taken its place. We’ll never know who generously offered this to us. She probably had no idea she’d never get it back, but in the chaos of that day, many things were lost on the side of the highway. I think of this kindness every time I use it. 

A Few Highlights

September held the start of the school year for my teens. My guys love football and are playing their hearts out despite their team not winning a single game yet. It’s been painful and character-building. 

After a summer packed with travel, I was very happy to be home for nearly the entire month of September. The one exception was four days at Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon for my spiritual direction program.

I’ve had the joy of babysitting my sweet granddaughter a few times lately and her cuteness is unbelievable.

The last two months have been absolutely packed with the people I love and my heart is overflowing. 

As we move through October, I invite you to join me in reflecting on just one question.


A question for October: What’s saving your life right now?

One of my favorite authors, Emily P. Freeman, asked this on her podcast recently and it got me thinking. What is saving your life? What is making your days just a little easier or adding joy?

I’ll go first.

1. Jade green

My favorite color has always been blue, I like a little pink too, but most often I gravitate toward blue. Not just any blue, more of a toned-down robin egg blue. I also love the peaceful green of vintage Jadite dishes, although I don’t own a single piece. Not for lack of trying; I always look when I’m thrifting. 

Not long ago I looked up from my computer and noticed a collection of green on the corner of my desk. A beautiful green glassbaby candle given to me by my son last Christmas held a flickering tealight. A small green dish cradled a wooden rosary I brought home from Germany which I often hold in my hands when meeting with coaching clients online. Rolling the beads between my fingers is very calming. Lastly, a small green plant offered evidence of growth and life. 

I’ve also always loved jade. Russ bought me a simple jade necklace when we were on vacation last June. This inspired me to take the vintage jade earrings I inherited thirty years ago and have the screw-on backs replaced with dangly hooks for my pierced ears. These sit in a tray on my bathroom counter. Next to them are two little white dishes with small green shamrocks, one a gift from my Mom and one from Goodwill.

I feel surrounded by this beautiful green and somehow it’s life-giving to me. I’m still surprised by how much I love it.

2. EZ-DUZ-IT Can opener

I’ve had a succession of bad can openers, the type that leaves at least two places still connected and I risk cutting myself trying to dump out the black beans. I ordered a new one a few weeks ago and even spent a bit more than usual because I was done with this challenge. The fancy can opener let me down the very first time I used it. Leave it to one of my big kids to find the Wirecutter review of the best can opener. My EZ-DUZ-IT can opener arrived yesterday and flawlessly opened a can of diced tomatoes. My life is better now. 
For the small price of $13.33, you too, can own an EZ-DUZ-IT can opener! Check out this link in my Amazon shop.

3. Libby app
I absolutely love the Libby app for borrowing audiobooks from the library. It’s easy. It’s free.I put lots of books on hold and eventually I get to borrow them. Try it.

4. Extra pairs of eyes

Not literally, of course. I recently finished a draft of a book I’m writing with Melissa Corkum, who cofounded The Adoption Connection with me. Before I send it to our editor, a few folks are reading the manuscript and offering suggestions to make it a bit better. At this point in the book project, I’m so tired of looking at it that I feel like I never want to read it again. Extra eyes are just what I need.

5. A Breakfast Burrito bar
We had the most fun birthday celebration last Sunday for our teen son. I created a breakfast burrito bar that included tortillas, cilantro lime rice, eggs, sausage, bacon, cheese and lots of other yummy things. Hashbrown patties baked to crisp perfection in the convection oven were a hit. It may have been brunch but we still had cake. It was a fun way to celebrate and a nice change from doing dinner.

How about you? Hit reply to this email to share your thoughts with me. What’s saving your life this fall? I wish I could reply to every email, but know I read each one and I’m so delighted to hear from you.

Remember, you’re a good parent doing good work, and I think the world of you.

With love and hope,


P.S. If you’d like to connect with me more frequently, I invite you to join The Hope Circle, where I spend time with the most incredible group of adoptive moms I know. The Hope Circle is now part of The Village which offers even more resources. If you have questions, hit reply and let me know.

A Long Overdue Hello

Hello friend! It may seem like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, but I’ve just been a little quiet in this space. I’ve missed you!

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the release of The Connected Parent. It’s been amazing to see this dream come true. Due to Covid, there were no book signings and no launch party, but my days were packed with online interviews and speaking. The book continues to do very well and I’m so thankful.

The Connected Parent

I began working on my sibling book again but found it hard to make progress. I love the topic so much, but with the kids doing school at home during quarantine, progress was terribly slow. Because I was eager to get the content out to you, Annarose and I did a live webinar which was a huge success. The replay is now available for purchase.

Caring for the Siblings in Adoptive and Foster Families

The Hope Circle continues to grow and give me so much joy! If you’re an adoptive mom looking for a safe, loving, supportive community, I invite you to join us. This is the space where I’m able to personally interact with foster and adoptive moms.

The Hope Circle

Work at The Adoption Connection continues to expand. What began as a podcast is now a resource-rich website with courses, webinars, private and group coaching, and more. In order to make it easier for everyone to find things, and to simplify my life, I’m bringing more of my work under The Adoption Connection.

The Adoption Connection

One Thankful Mom will continue to be my personal and author website.

This summer we have a family wedding in Mexico. The boys are busy with daily football workouts and summer jobs. I hope to get back to writing more in the fall!

If you want to connect more personally, I spend most of my personal online time in the Hope Circle. You can also find me on Instagram at One Thankful Mom and The Adoption Connection.

All my love,


Fifty-Four Favorite Fiction Books

I asked for your all-time favorite works of fiction and the answers poured in! I didn’t expect such an amazing response to a 24-hour Instastory but you went above and beyond to share your favorites.
[This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means if you click on a link and choose to make a purchase I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.]

In no particular order, these are the novels you recommended. If a series was recommended, I tried to list the first book in the series. When an author was recommended, I listed their most popular book.

Your Favorite Fiction

Les Miserable
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
American Dirt
The Bluest Eye
A Man Called Ove
The Prince of Tides
The Stand
These is My Words
The Book of Lost Friends
Dandelion Wine
Call Your Daughter Home
Crossing to Safety
The Language of Flowers
All the Light We Cannot See (recommended by two people)
The Thornbirds
Cormorant Strike Series
News of the World
Redeeming Love (recommended by three people)
My Dear Hamilton
Stone Fox
The Family Under the Bridge
The Pelican Brief
Hannah Coulter
The Glass Castle
Peace Like a River (recommended by two people)
So Brave, Young, and Handsome
The Count of Monte Cristo
Pride and Prejudice
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
No Ballet Shoes in Syria
The Nightingale
Dear Mr. Knightley
Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption, and an Unlikely Family
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (recommended by two people)
Winter in Paradise
The Poisonwood Bible
A Girl of the Limberlost
I Capture the Castle
Where the Crawdads Sing
The Thirteenth Tale
Anne of Green Gables
My Family and Other Animals
My Brilliant Friend
If I Gained the World
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
The Circle
The Masterpiece: A Novel

I’m already adding some of these to my Amazon cart and my library app. I hope you find some treasures here too!

Happy Reading,


My Word for 2021


It’s taken me a while to find my word for 2021. But several things dropped into place giving me a clearer vision, and “Pause” is the answer.

I want to Pause in several areas of my life.

Relational: I want to Pause when interacting, especially when tension is high. In that Pause, I can choose to respond rather than react. Last night, the final thing I did before going to bed was apologize to my son for the way I had reacted to him earlier that evening. A two-second pause would have made all the difference.

Spiritual:  Friends reminded me of the beauty of sabbath. Our family has gotten away from the joy of a day to rest from work and enjoy each other. I’m finding my way back.

After reading through the Bible in 2020, I’m also slowing down and settling more deeply into a smaller portion of the Word. I’m taking more time to pray and listen to the Lord.

Physical: The first book I read in 2021 was Why We Sleep. I’ve struggled with sleep for years and I know it’s important. But I didn’t realize how profoundly essential sleep is for our physical and mental health. Russ and I have set a 9:00 bedtime giving us the opportunity for eight hours of sleep. We’re Pausing our evenings earlier and making sleep a priority.

Emotional: Often I set my feelings aside and press on with my work-it’s the Enneagram 3 in me. I’m learning to Pause and feel my feelings, even when they hurt. Over the holidays I had a very sad day. I consciously let those feelings come, telling myself, “Feelings come and go,” knowing the deep sadness would lift.

Vocational: I’m choosing a slower pace in 2021. In preparation for the book launch, I got some great advice, “Say yes to everything.” And I did. Even without travel, book signings, and conferences, I managed to pack my days. It was exhilarating, exhausting, and totally worth it. Now I’m slowing my pace, taking more time for thinking, writing, and people.

Is there an area of your life you need to Pause?

Do you have a word for 2021? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear.

I hope your year is off to a hopeful start.

With love,


The Connected Parent, Dr.Karyn Purvis, and Confetti

It’s been a confetti kind of month! My family celebrated our happiness in a big Covid-style way.

Nearly one month ago The Connected Parent released into the world. After eight years of work, the book was born. There were many times when I didn’t know if it would be completed and I’m deeply thankful to God for allowing this dream to be fulfilled.

I’m also thankful to you. I truly have the best readers in the world. Many of you have been with me for years and that means more than you can imagine. The most helpful thing you can do for the book is to leave a review on Amazon. It helps the book continue to gain traction.

Dr. Karyn Purvis was a gift to the world. Together with Dr. David Cross, she developed Trust-Based Relational Intervention, an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. I met her through Empowered to Connect when we were speaking together.

I had an idea for a book combining her incredible scientific knowledge and wisdom with my real-life experiences of a mom doing my best to apply what I had learned. Thankfully, she thought it was a great idea and we started writing in 2012.

Through her cancer treatments and my parenting challenges, we persevered. When we lost our daughter, Kalkidan, in a car accident, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to finish the book. As I recovered I decided to see the book through in honor of Kalkidan and children like her who had experienced early adversity.

Sadly, Dr. Purvis did not live to hold this book in her hands, but her family wanted this final written work published in her honor.

I’ve had a great time being a guest on multiple podcasts since the book released and more are coming soon:

The Real-Mom podcast by Foster the Family
Honestly Adoption
The Empowered Parent
Empowered to Connect
Creating a Family
Orphans No More

Whether you listen to my interview or not, I highly recommend these great podcasts for adoptive and foster parents.

The book is available in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook. I was honored to narrate the audiobook myself. It was a joy. I’m hopeful that The Connected Parent will be published in Spanish too!