Thanksgiving Wrap Up and the Start of Advent

Jesse tree ornaments 2016

So how was it? How was your Thanksgiving?

Ours was exactly what I should have expected – because it didn’t go as I expected. Two of our big kids didn’t make it home. Mimi wasn’t able to get a plane ticket for a reasonable price and didn’t join us for the holiday.

Samuel arrived Friday afternoon rather than Thursday, thankfully we still had the rest of the weekend to enjoy being with him.

We had three extra friends around our table, which helped fill the empty spaces, and added to the lively conversation. After dinner we played Heads Up!, and ended the evening watching Elf – although Russ and I fell asleep snuggled up in a big chair together.

Russ and Samuel spent Saturday loading a trailer of Russ’ mom’s furniture as she prepares to move to Oregon. Her property in north Idaho sold much more quickly than we expected and she has to be out of the home by December 9th. Russ has been spending lots of time helping her sort and pack.

Last weekend he brought home a box of fascinating treasures from the years his dad spent living and working in a remote region of Irian Jaya in the 1970’s. People he came to know gave him stone axes, currency (shells sewn to long leather straps), penis gourds (yes, you read that correctly), and many other interesting treasures.

This had all been stored in a box since Russ was in third grade and displayed it at his elementary school. So many memories.

Jesse tree 2 2016
Wogauyu hung the second ornament on the Jesse tree before school this morning.

We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent quite imperfectly, just as I expected. We haven’t begun any Christmas decorating, but thankfully, I’ve learned to keep the Advent book on the bookcase in the living room and the Jesse tree ornaments stored in the dining room sideboard.

Our first family dinner of Advent was Dominos Pizza – and it was wonderfully relaxing. With veggies, dip, and leftover pie, it was restful and everyone was happy. Remember, I said I would set the bar low, and I meant it.

We sang the first verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, read the first reading in Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (even if it was meant for Dec. 1 – we’ll fall behind and then be glad we started early), and hung our first ornament on the Jesse tree. The last few years I’ve used a simple metal tree hung on the wall in the dining room as our Jesse tree. Other years I’ve used a bare tree branch in a vase set on the table.

Advent 1 2016
We even forgot to take a picture at the beginning of dinner, so we took one at the end.

This morning, I read today’s reading to the kids as they ate breakfast and did last minute prep before school. Too many of us will be gone during dinner tonight with a basketball game for Eby, cheer practice for Zoe, and I’m not sure what else for other kids.

I grab the good moments when I can.

I hope your Thanksgiving was good, friends. I have posts floating through my mind – one I want to update on teaching kids how to open presents and thank the gift-giver (anyone remember that old post?), I also have a fun LuLaRoe giveaway happening on my Thankful Moms Facebook page now until early Wednesday morning.

The Thankful Moms Etsy Shop has lots of new necklaces as well as new cuffs! We have a Cyber Monday sale going right now, so if you’ve been thinking of ordering something, this is a good time.

Have a great start to your week, friends. Jesus came to bring light to darkness – that is good news.


To Be Sought and Found

It’s been a season of hard, of hearts that feel bruised and sadness that spills out of my eyes more often than I like.

Days pass and I hardly see Russ as we moved through schedules of work and school, homework and sports practices, the demands of our young crew and the needs of our older kids.

I don’t have to list more – you know it too well.

last checks on the car
last checks on the car

Our son, Isaiah, all of 21, packed everything he owns and moved to St. Louis yesterday.

We think we influence our children – and we do – but this boy made me a writer. At the age of 11, he built my first blog and pushed me to put down words for people to read.

I said goodbye to him, waving in the driveway, and when his car was out of view, I hugged Annarose and cried.

What Adds Happiness to Your Days?

these smiles make me happy
these smiles make me happy

[Quick note: One extra bit of happiness today, my article, Let’s Come Alongside Foster Families, is featured on Her View From Home today. Please read and share it. It’s my first time publishing on that site and I hope to be invited back!]

Last week I ran to the store. As I prepared to park, I realized that one small change is making a difference in my happiness.

I no longer try to get a good parking place.

Since the kids gave me a Fitbit for Christmas, getting a minimum of 10,000 steps each day has become a slight obsession. I’ll get my steps nearly any way I can, including parking at the far end of the parking lot.

Thankful Necklaces and Beauty for Ashes

Friends, we are so excited to share these beautiful
“Thankful” and “Thankful Mom” necklaces with you.
(in time for Mother’s Day!)


Handmade exclusively for us by the lovely Cate Florey
(Cate tells us she prays over each and every necklace as she works).


We are particularly excited because a portion of your purchase
will benefit “Beauty for Ashes Uganda!”


The goal for Beauty for Ashes Uganda is to empower women (especially single mamas and widows) to reach long-term sustainability for their families. We help these single mamas to join a cooperative, which works both as a small group for support and encouragement as well as a resource to help them work together towards sustainability. Most groups are 30 women….though some run as high as 59! With the understanding that long-term sustainability is a long-term solution, we also offer short term aid that is thoughtful and helpful without creating systems of dependence.


Visit our Etsy shop to choose your necklace today
(necklaces are $25).
A limited number are available for Mother’s Day delivery
when your order is placed before April 25.

A perfect way to honor someone you love while making a way
for these beautiful Mamas across the world
to sustainably support their families!

Untitled design-2

Betty - 5 children (these 3 are Goretti (far right), Emmanuel and Josephine

Tubor - Ailo Stella, 34 yrs, 5 children

with hope and gratitude,
Lisa and Jennifer

Sunday Gratitude 2.14.16


If people want their souls to grow through loss, whatever the loss is, they must eventually decide to love even more deeply than they did before.    Jerry Sittser 

I read this yesterday (A Grace Disguised) and it’s been rolling over and over in my mind. Once you’ve lost someone you love, or been terribly hurt by someone you love (which is also a loss), it takes courage to love again.

Thankfully, we have a love that will never fail and never end in Jesus. This is a verse sustaining me right now,

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor thing to come, nor power, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

giving thanks #1761 – 1770

dinner out with friends last friday; it’s very hard to make myself go out into big, social situations right now, and I’m relieved that we had a good time