Thankful for this week and hitting 100 followers!

It is officially the week of Thanksgiving! Here are a few things I am thankful for today!

1. Buttermilk biscuits and strawberry rhubarb jam from Denver Biscuit Co. this morning.
2. Coffee. I am thankful for my coffee grinder, coffee beans, and coffee maker.
3. Hot tea, because my throat hurts. I am drinking Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride and Good Earth Sweet and Spicy today.
4. My daughter, because she is a delight. I walked into the living room moments ago after making a cup of tea and found her doing this: cute and cozy in her pack and play, chewing on her pacifier, and eyes wide open watching Yo Gabba Gabba! It was precious. Now she is giving kisses, too!
5. My sister, Holly. I get to meet with this smart and amazing gal a few times a week. She is my opposite, but my best friend. She is that girl who throws off the curve in her economics class, and I was the one in the tutor room trying to grasp the concepts and praying for a C! I am grateful to have Thanksgiving dinner with her tomorrow as we live in Denver together and the rest of our fam are all in other states!
6. My husband. He is making homemade mole and turkey Thursday. This is a feat even many Spanish people do not do. Why is he doing this? Oh, just for fun. His directions are on four pages, and that is just for the mole. I love that he cooks for fun and dares to try new things on a big holiday. That is what life is about! Going for it!

7. Lastly, and in relations to blogging- I am so grateful to have hit 100 followers! I remember starting my blog, not too long ago, and thinking “Will I ever have one follower?”. I know that sounds so silly, but it is true, I wallowed in that ridiculous thought for months! 

So, without further ado, I want to say thank you to some of the people over the past few months who have become followers and encouraged me along my journey of blogging! Yippee!

I encourage you all to check out these bloggers below. They are fab. Thanks again to you all!

Natalie at ohemgee
Her blog is super cute and hilarious. Don’t you love the name?

Simone at Busy as a Honey Bee
This girl reads! Looking for book recommendations? She has them!

Beth at The OC Fit Girl
Ok, so right now she has a Pumpkin Chocolate Walnut Cookie recipe. It looks amazing. Her blog is awesome!

Danette at All My Love for All My Days
Danette is an amazing blogger. I just love her blog. She truly inspires!

Sarah at one sweet tuesday
Sarah’s blog is real and lovely. She has some awesome recipes.

The frenzy of Christmas shopping!

I have a confession to make. I am every marketing executive’s dream. I notice immediately when Starbucks starts advertising their peppermint mocha, feel excited when Target throws up all the Christmas advertisements, and Black Friday?! Don’t even get me started.

Here’s why: my love language is definitely gift giving. I dream all year of what my family members would want for Christmas, then imagine them opening their gifts and squealing with excitement that “THAT-IS-EXACTLY-WHAT-I-WANTED!”.

Here is the problem: I don’t have a job. I am a stay at home momma. My husband is pumping away hours at his job (He is my  hero, I have mad respect!)- to provide for me and our lil’ pumpkin.

No money=No Christmas presents.

Or so I thought. Where there is a will, there is a way!

I am determined. I am getting people something. So guess what? I am one of those weirdo’s who hoards gift cards. I hate using them because it seems like such a commitment. So I have gift cards from my wedding, baby shower, and other events (sorry friends, I have used most of them, I promise!). I have a few left, so I pulled those puppies out and checked the balances. Just enough to get everyone a little somethin’. Hopefully;).

I also have some old workout clothes I barely used. Lululemon tanks, Victoria’s Secret Sport- stuff like that. I am selling them on Ebay! They are never going to fit me again, unless I starve myself, so good riddance!

Here is my plan:
1. Use gift cards for some gifts.
2. Utilize Black Friday and Cyber Monday- but only for places I have gift cards, a list, or a strategy. I have already found some amazing buy one get one free deals. The places I am hitting? Victoria’s Secret (they are supposedly giving away freebies at 6am and are selling hoodies for $25 bucks!), Bath and Body Works, Charlotte Russe (for cute scarfs), Sephora, and Target. Cyber Monday I am hitting Woot, ThinkGeek, and Zazzle, and Amazon for the men in my life. My goal is to get stuff for SUPER cheap- and am using gift cards!
3. I WILL NOT SHOP FOR MYSELF! Thankfully I have been getting used to this, so I am OK  I had to make up my mind early on that good deals do not equal shopping for me. If I buy myself ANYTHING that is one less gift for someone.
4. I have a list, and it is in permanent marker. I already even have the items I want picked out.
5. I have a budget and cannot go over it.
6. If all else fails, which it might, handmade gifts or thoughtful letters are just as wonderful.

See, in the end, my family and friends know I adore them (at least I hope!). Gifts are icing on the cake. My prayer for this season is that I can stay grounded and sane, and live within my reality. Christmas is about Christ coming to give us the greatest gift ever- a restored relationship with God and a new heart! Everything else is just for funsies. I hope I can maintain this perspective and not be one of those crazy people in the Wal-Mart parking lot screaming profanities on Christmas Eve for someone cutting me off for a parking spot (you all know what I mean!).

What are your Christmas shopping guidelines? Are you as excited as I am to give gifts? Anyone have any neat handmade or thoughtful gift ideas that are inexpensive? 🙂

Cheers to the Christmas spirit!

Turning complaints into praise

Here is a sampling of some of the complaints I had this week: 

Ugh, I have to get so much dental work done. Two root canals, wisdom teeth extracted, and cavities. Our dental insurance barely covers the work! 

Lord, thank you that I have dental insurance through my husbands job to cover most of my dental work. Thank you that I live in a country where modern dentistry exists- where I can have the option of anesthesia and sanitary conditions. Thank you that I have the luxury of keeping my teeth.

I feel so “mommy-ish”. I barely have time any more to do things like paint my nails, work out, cut my hair, or put on cute clothes. 

Father, thank you that I am a mother to a beautiful daughter. Thank you that you change my priorities and my heart to become more sacrificial and to think of her first before myself, which is the way you love us. Thank you that you still make me beautiful without the fashions or trends of this world that we cling to tightly to for affirmation. Thank you that you make me realize that I am lovely without any additional help from the world, because you make me that way. 

Lillian woke me up four times last night! I barely got any sleep! 

Lord, thank you that I get to stay home during the day with my daughter. Thank you that my full time job is devoted to loving her and helping her grow into a child that is secure in your love. Thank you that my husband supports this. Thank you that I have the opportunity to wake up gratefully at night to be with her, knowing that the following day I can get rest if need be. Thank you for helping me live simply so that this can happen for our family. 

I feel so lonely. It seems like I spend most of my day at parks alone or on walks. I feel like I have no friend that is kin in spirit with me here in Denver
Jesus, thank you that you have provided me some good friends here that I can rely on for comfort and support. Thank you that you are guiding me towards a church I can call home. Thank you that you have given me my sister here in Denver, my husband, and my daughter. While I sometimes get lonely- I have you which is more than enough. Thank you for teaching me that loneliness can guide me into conversations with you. 
These are just a few of the complaints I verbalized this week. I caught myself saying these things out loud. How often do I take for granted the things that I have been so richly and undeservedly blessed by? Am I worthy of my husband, daughter, or  my relationship with Jesus? Absolutely not! Yet I find myself sometimes acting as though these people are burdens on my life. I truly grumble under my breathe before I even realize what I am doing. 

Gratitude. Praise. Grace. 

I do not deserve these blessings, yet my heavenly Father above has graciously given these things to me, as precious gifts that I ought to be praising him for. 

We live in a culture of entitlement. There is not a system in place in our capitalistic society where we are given something for nothing. We are paid for our work, and we pay for our goods. As we are taught in school- “there is no free lunch”. Our grades are earned by good test scores and our annual reviews are earned by work performance. 

Yet God’s scale for us is a scale of Grace. We can never earn our salvation, or anything for that matter, and he freely gives us love. It is an uncommon economy to us, and we have a very hard time differentiating it from ours. 

Entitlement. Greed. Right. 

Jesus, as I enter this week of Thanksgiving, may I understand the rich abundance of your grace. I deserve nothing, yet you give me everything in You. Help my eyes to be open to all the areas in which you have given me great things. Help me to praise you for the people in my life, the roof over my head, and the food I consume. May I be filled with overwhelming thanks for every little thing I am given, knowing fully that I am no better than anyone else- just your child. May my gratitude spill over into other people’s lives- giving them the gift of love and grace as you have given me. Help me to love people like you do, offering everything, extending unending mercy, and wanting them to know the gift of healing that you have given me. Give me new eyes and a clean heart. Keep me from grumbling or complaining for the lot you have given me, even if it is difficult. Help me to praise you even in hard times, because hard times are when we see you even more clearly. Help me to love your children- those who know you and do not- because you love us all with a perfect love and your command to us is to love each other, do good for one another, and extend grace to our enemy. Help me to show those who do not know you the medicine you give our souls, medicine of forgiveness, unconditional love, and purpose that we all long for. Keep me from judging anyone, for sin has no rank, and you call us to love only. Keep me from becoming religious or self-righteous, but rather filled with love and grace and joy. May I laugh at the coming future and enjoy life as you wish me to! 

I am overwhelmed with the topic of gratitude. Do we really think we earn things in this world? Do we judge others by their appearance, faith, or sin? If so, what do the verses below encourage us to believe? 

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
Jeremiah 31:2-3 Thus says the LORD:”The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.