It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn toward gratitude, and we are made more aware of the many gifts and blessings we share. Here is my list of the top 10 things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

I love spending an evening at home with my family, and I’m grateful anytime we can share a quiet dinner together.

 

Apple pie and coffee are a perfect ending to that dinner at home.

I’m starting a new quilt to wrap around someone I love. I’ve collected a pile of old tee shirts that will soon become something new and useful.

 

I love to spend an afternoon reading on the couch. This is what I’m reading now.

 

 

This cute electric heating stove creates cozy warmth for my home.

 

I love my old soft, fuzzy slippers,

 

 

And my old owl print pajamas.

 

 

Every year I get nostalgic about classic Christmas films. My favorites are: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and Elf. Click here to check out the Freeform Channel’s 25 Days of Christmas movie schedule.

 

I love this great source for Christmas presents. I won’t spoil the surprise by showing photos of the gifts I bought, but I recommend ordering from John’s Crazy Socks. When I received my order, I was touched to also find a personal note from the company’s co-owner, John. A portion of sales proceeds supports the Special Olympics and Down syndrome awareness.

I am grateful for my family, for my husband, my daughter, and son-in-law, for Bratty Maddie, and all the friends who have supported and encouraged me throughout this year. Thank you all, and I wish you the happiest holidays!

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

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I am thankful for the autumn leaves, cooling breeze, and sunlit skies.

I am thankful for God’s constant care and the ways he shows his faithfulness each day.

I am grateful for warming mugs of coffee or cider and all the tastes this season brings.

I give thanks for another day to make a difference and move a step closer to fulfilling my goals.

I am grateful for time to spend with family and friends, for warm dinners around the table, and for the home that shelters and comforts us.

I am grateful for the knowledge that all life has meaning and we are all loved by God.

I hope that you will know you are blessed and feel the love and presence of God. This Thanksgiving season, I offer a prayer of gratitude for God’s unending love and grace.

What are you grateful for this season?

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Choosing a Life that Matters by Dennis Rainey is a smallish book, only 125 pint-sized pages, but it contains a great deal of inspiration about making the decisions that draw us closer to God. The small size makes it convenient to carry, so I stashed my copy in my purse to read while enduring a long wait in the dentist’s office.

Rainey arranges his seven decisions into a do/don’t instructional format. His seven chapters are: Seek God, Not Sin; Fear God, Not Men; Love God, Not the World; Believe God, Not the Deceiver; Obey God, Not Your Feelings; Worship God, Not Comfort; Serve God, Not Self. Chapters are short and written in an easy to read, conversational tone; and each chapter includes a “Life Skills” section that offers specific instruction on how to apply the concepts to daily life.

Choosing a Life that Matters by Dennis Rainey makes a simple and inspiring read for anyone seeking to feel more of God’s presence every day.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for writing a review.

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When my daughter was in kindergarten, I volunteered as classroom mom on a field trip to the pumpkin farm. Students rode trudging ponies around a muddy circle, patted bleating goats in a pen, and chased kittens and piglets around hay bales in the barn.

And I learned a few lessons from herding 40 kindergarteners around the barnyard that day.

Pack a lunch, wear good shoes, and always have an extra pair of glasses. Straw dust and grit invaded my contact lenses, and because I had no mirror or means to wash my hands, I had to make a staggering, half-blind hike to the farmhouse to find a bathroom. If we don’t plan ahead and take care of ourselves, we are not able to take care of anyone else. Anticipating circumstances and giving ourselves what we need frees us to be available and present for others.

Don’t be afraid of the dark. Inside the musty and cavernous barn lurked amazing discoveries: strange old tools, elusive farm cats, secreted hiding places. When we brave uncertainty and explore the unknown, prizes are captured and answers are revealed. Always be willing to step inside and investigate the mysterious, unseen places.

Help someone else carry their burden. Little people who chose a too-large pumpkin to take home, staggered under the weight, often dropping and shattering their prize. We are not meant to struggle with heavy burdens by ourselves. When we work together and help others, we find we can accomplish much more than we can carry on our own.

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

Travel where the driver takes you. The day of the kindergarten field trip, we had planned to ride a hay truck into the meadow for a lunchtime picnic, but a sudden rainstorm sent us running for the bus and returning early to school. Instead of lunch in the meadow, we ate on the warm and dry classroom floor. Sometimes our plans change and we encounter circumstances we didn’t expect, but the best memories are made when we are grateful and appreciate every moment together. Sometimes we discover that the surprises of our lives are more fun and interesting than the events we had planned.

This fall I pray you explore the mysteries of the season. Know God is with you every day of the year.

What are you learning about life today? Where is God taking you?

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I am very grateful to be included as a guest blogger on the website of my good friend Jolene Philo: Different Dream Living.

Please read my article, "A Grandmother's Prayer for a Grandchild with Special Needs."

And thank you, Jolene, for all you do to help the parents of children with special needs!

How has prayer affected your faith? How do you teach prayer and faith to your children?

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