#Thankful365

 photo thankful_zpsyfrlr6h9.jpg

A year and a half ago I started a project that I called “One Year of Thankful”. It was so good. Every day I chose one thing that I was thankful for, and I took a picture. I kept those pictures in an album on my Facebook page and still look through it to remember what went on that year. It was hard to believe when the year ended (on my 27th birthday) and I didn’t “have to” keep taking pictures.

Day 366 I told Dan, “Do you know what I’m thankful for today? I’m thankful that I don’t have to edit or upload any more pictures!”

Yes, the project was great, but the uploading pictures was so time consuming that I couldn’t keep it going.

Well, November hit and suddenly everyone was talking about Thanksgiving. I love hearing what people are thankful for. I love it even more when there are pictures. And, as wonderful as this season is, I don’t want to limit my thanksgiving for this month alone.

Seven months have passed since “One Year of Thankful” ended and some things have changed. Namely, I have a smartphone. I’m so old-school I’ve never even had texting, much less a phone that doesn’t flip or slide open! But I recently discovered a new phone plan that cut my bill in half and with it I got my first smart phone. So I set myself up an Instagram account and I’m taking advantage of my new technology to launch a new thankfulness project, #thankful365. Starting on Thanksgiving Day, I’ll be back to posting my thankful pictures (almost) every day. I’m not committing to every day right now because, well, life happens, and I’m going to go ahead and let life take it’s priority over blog projects. Also, I’m not putting a one-year limit on this one. AND, I’m not necessarily going to try to do this alone.

I’m inviting you to join me. Post what you’re thankful for and give it the #thankful365. I’d have so much fun seeing your pictures too.

So here we go, one more week until Thanksgiving day with all it’s goodies, and one more week before I start another journey of becoming more thankful. Will you join me?

One Year of Thankful…Complete

One year ago, on my birthday, I began a project I called “One Year of Thankful“. My 26th year had been tough. We moved a pile of times, endured unpleasant job changes, suffered through 12 unexpected weeks with a baby in the hospital, and were in the process of adjusting to having two kiddos at home. I was having a hard time, feeling down, getting angry, and realizing the lack of joy in my life. So I began this project: record one blessing a day and take a picture to go with it.

Now my “year of thankful” is complete. I’ve learned a few things along the way and I’ve enjoyed counting my blessings. I’ve learned that it’s not enough to pick one thing a day, an attitude of thankfulness has to be continuous. I’ve learned that blessings come in showers and sometimes there are droughts. At times I would have to choose between a number of blessings in a day. Other times I would go for days struggling to think of anything for my “thankful”.

As I was wrapping up my year, I thought it would be fun to go through my complete album to see what I was the most thankful for. I think this says something about my personality and it definitely says something about what I treasure in life. Here are my top ten:

10. Finding Things – Apparently I lose things somewhat frequently and really dislike it. Every time I find a lost item I have reason to rejoice.

 photo Day054_zpsa03dafc2.jpg

Day 54 – I found my lost phone.

9. Nature and Beauty – From the beauty of freshly fallen snow, to a colorful sunset, to my favorite flowering trees, I love enjoying the beauty God has placed all around me.

 photo Day079_zpsa4e20039.jpg

Day 79 – Baby bunnies.

8. Relief from My Job – You don’t even know how many times I took pictures of dishes washed by someone other than me! Or sometimes it was folded laundry, someone to watch the kiddos, or a discovery that made my life easier. A break from the grueling task of “domestic engineer” frequently made my thankful list.

 photo 216_zpsd62c67f3.jpg

Day 216 – Having my parents here while Dan and I were at the hospital, being able to take it easy as the girls were cared for and all the dishes and laundry done.

7. Material Things and Comforts – Material things were often gifts and comforts often included warmth or sleep. I’m blessed with so many nice “things”: a house, clothing, all sorts of kitchen knick-knacks, and so many comforts like warm blankets, medicine when I’m sick, or the exercise ball that brought so much relief late in the pregnancy.

 photo Day071_zps6851a28f.jpg

Day 71 – Nap time.

6. Love – Originally this was lumped under “Family and Friends”, but it came up so many times I gave it a category of its own. From date nights to flowers, love letters, and special chats with Dan, it’s clear that I enjoy any language of love from my husband.

 photo 315_zps5ccd56c9.jpg

Day 315 – My one and only Valentine.

5. Walking with God and Answered Prayers – This category skyrocketed late in my pregnancy with Paul. Every week was an answered prayer. But it wasn’t just weekly milestones that made the list. During some of the most pressing trials of the year God brought much peace, guidance, and comfort.

 photo 348_zpsn03e4tio.jpg

Day 348 – This moment. I thought it would never happen. Psalm 37:4

4. Quiet, Precious, and Meaningful Moments – I am a creature of habit. Special moments that we enjoyed every day (like breakfasting in the breakfast nook or snuggling with Lydia in the morning) often made my list. I’m also an introvert and any quiet or peaceful moments made it into my thankful album.

 photo Day082_zps8218238f.jpg

Day 82 – This Moment: Snuggled up with his girls.

3. Food and Fun Times – I was amused at how often food came up as my thankful for the day. Especially special occasion food (aka something with cheese) or fruit. Fun times were also a favorite, including family outings, trips up North, and weddings and showers.

 photo 156_zpsd2e1b137.jpg

Day 156 – Another perfect pre-baseball picnic.

2. Productivity – This one really surprised me. It’s back to those pictures of dishes I guess! The second most frequent thankful has something to do with making progress on housework, organization, research, or projects.

 photo 233_zps4aa0f439.jpg

Day 233 – Finished!

1. Family and Friends – This one isn’t much of a surprise. Family and friends and the special moments we have together were the most common thankful by far. God has blessed me with many loved ones, but most frequent were my loving husband, and crazy kids.

 photo 364_zps31bg1jok.jpg

Day 364 – Adding another little one to our family has only made me love them all more.

First Month of Thankful

 photo Firsteightdays_zps12f20ce7.jpg

It has already been more than a month since I started keeping track of a blessing-a-day, and what a month it has been! Little did I know when I started this project that I would wrap up my first month living in a new home and house-hunting. The past week has been very busy with last minute packing, moving, cleaning, rearranging, and unpacking, but I’ve managed to keep my resolution so far and I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I’ve been learning along the way.

 photo nexttwo2_zpsd8752bca.jpg

1. I am so very thankful for my husband and kiddos. Can you tell? The munchkins make it in to the majority of my pictures and even the ones that don’t include a munchkin usually represent a moment that did involve one or both of them. While two little ones make life busy and sometimes overwhelming, I certainly am grateful for my girls and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Not clean floors or grown-up conversation or free time or sleep or anything else! As for Dan, I’ve been resisting the urge to write down “Dan” or “time with Dan” or anything of the sort, saving those ones for special days. No repeats allowed, you know.

 photo secondeightdays_zps7b615048.jpg

2. I love weekends! I actually keep a journal and during my quiet time each day I try to write down at least three things I’m thankful for. One Friday I looked back and realized that “Friday!” was making the list over and over (exclamation mark and all). I love Fridays because once Dan comes home from work, he doesn’t leave me until Monday. (I do not love Mondays). Saturdays are my Dan day. Sundays are nice too, but with church we spend more time talking to others. My “Fridays” haven’t made it into a picture yet because it feels too easy. I’m trying to make myself be specific.

 photo nexttwo_zps54053464.jpg

3. The real lesson I’ve been learning is that it’s just not enough to be thankful for one thing a day. I can quite vividly recall fuming in frustration one afternoon. I was standing in my kitchen looking out at the messy living room, upset that the day had gone so terribly. There was not a grateful bone in my body as I stood there and this lesson hit me. It wasn’t working. Not that day anyway. And I realized that it’s not enough to make a little list of blessings, even if you do it every day. I want my life to be one of continual gratitude and joy, in each moment, in each difficulty, trusting God and rejoicing in the blessings He’s given me. I am learning to count my blessings and trust God’s long-term plan. It’s not quick or clean or easy, but I can see that God is making me a more grateful person. But I always come back to the place where I am so thankful that it’s not based on me at all but on what Jesus did for me. I’ll never be good enough. This project is just another way that God is showing me I’m not and never will be. Thank God I don’t have to be. He is.

 photo finaleight_zpsbd649305.jpg

And so wraps up one month of twelve. One month closer to my 27th birthday. One month behind me filled with little happy moments. Eleven months to go.

 photo lasttwo_zps1e3b4e39.jpg

One Year of Thankful

Last Wednesday was my twenty-sixth birthday. Reflective person that I am, birthdays always cause me to think back over the past year and notice any blessings, hardships, lessons, or changes in my life. So this year, as I took some time to reflect, I came to a conclusion.

My twenty-sixth year was the hardest one yet.

From moves to job changes to NICU trauma, the year was full of hard things, harder things than I’ve ever gone through before. I started to wonder…was it a particularly hard year? Or is life just hard and I’m noticing it for the first time? It was a depressing thought, but I really was wondering if being a grown up is just plain old hard and I need to get used to it.

Whether it was a hard year or this is a hard life, I decided that I need to work a little more at thoroughly soaking up and enjoying my blessings, and thanking God for them. So I made a resolution. For my twenty-seventh year I want to be more purposefully thankful, deeply thankful.

This is nothing new, I know. But for this year I’m going to try to record one thing for which I am thankful every day. And, since I’m a visual person, I’m going to take a picture for each day, so I can easily look back and literally see some of my favorite blessings. I’m not sure how often I’ll share these on this blog, but I thought I could at least share a few to start.

God is good, all the time, whether life is hard or not. But God has also been so good as to fill my life with blessings. So call them gifts, or Edelweiss, or blessings, or silver linings, or woodchips or flowers…but here we go.

Day 1 – A fresh new year ahead to walk with the Lord

 photo Day001_zpsb39d7a85.jpg

Day 2 – A husband who will stop at nothing to make my birthday special and show me I am loved

 photo Day002_zps1fe24cf6.jpg

Day 3 – The opportunity and creativity to redo Lydia’s room, and enjoy the process

 photo Day003_zps71bf4171.jpg

Day 4 – Even when our plans don’t work out well, Dan and I can laugh about it together and still create happy memories

 photo Day004_zpse47a4e3f.jpg

Day 5 – My first real workout run to train for a 5K

 photo Day005_zps6ffd9b37.jpg

Day 6 – Dan doesn’t have unreasonable expectations. He sympathizes with the challenges of my job and helps me prioritize. Then he is pleased with the things I do and doesn’t care about the things I don’t get done.

 photo Day006_zps4685d956.jpg

Day 7 – Watching my girls play together

 photo Day007_zpsd1de5c5c.jpg

Day 8 – A gradual start to an early morning

 photo Day008_zpsf2940d99.jpg

Eight days down…357 to go!