One for the list….

Yesterday’s family trip to get a morning cup of hot chocolate turned out to be one for the list.

What list, you ask? The list, the list that I fear, in the back on my mind, my children are compiling for future reference. The list they’ll pull out as teenagers when they’re looking for a mark against me in the parenting department, the one they’ll pull out when they have children of their own and we’re sitting around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and they want to one-up some parenting deficit of their own. “Oh, yeah? You think that’s bad?” They’ll say when my future grandchildren complain about about some real or imagined parenting unfairness. “When I was your age…”

And then they’ll check the list. They’ll scroll down the line of parenting foul-ups and snafus and find a suitable one, and reference it. The times I yelled over messes made or schoolwork forgotten. The time I thought Eldest was just trying to get out of going somewhere and didn’t believe he felt sick, and then he threw up all over the back seat of the car. And on, and on.

But I digress. Yesterday’s hot chocolate fiasco…

Hubby and I took the kids to a coffee shop which is owned by one of Hubby’s friends. It’s a funky little place, very artsy in a concrete-and-exposed-rafters kind of way. He’s been open for several years now and has made a mark in the community as a supporter of local artists, the shop doubles as an art gallery. Wherein lay the problem. We walked in the door and were immediately confronted with a brilliant and highly realistic display by an artist who goes by the name Elmer Presslee, whose work includes sculptures that are best described as Hieronymus Bosch meets the Telletubbies…with maybe a little Edward Gorey thrown in to round it out.

The first thing we saw was a giant winged monster, with a de-fleshed head and protruding eyeballs. Its fuzzy moth-body sprouted black wings and six legs which were, on closer inspection, highly realistic human fingers. Happy earthworms popped in and out of the leering skull in a whimsical way.

Now to put perspective on this I should really mention something about Youngest Child. This little person has an imagination on her that just doesn’t quit. She has the most vivid and active imaginary friends I’ve ever heard of, and can spin endless amazing yarns involving imaginary creatures of all makes and models. The downside to all this is that she also has the most terrifying and unusual nightmares imaginable. Everyone in our family knows that you do not even say the word “Zombie” after three o-clock in the afternoon, or we can expect a terrified six-year-old to be in our bed by midnight describing dreams that will prevent me from getting back to sleep.

What we should have done was turn around and walk out, but neither of us had had our coffee yet and besides, we’d driven all that way and the older two were eager for some hot chocolate. In fact, Eldest was fascinated with the sculptures and wanted to wander around taking mental notes. Do people make money doing this sort of thing? Do you need a licence or anything? When we get home could he please use some bondo, some paint, and a chop saw?

I tried to find a place where we could sit without staring right at any of the sculptures, but there really wasn’t one. I settled on a couch flanked by two chairs and suggested to Youngest that she sit on one of the chairs with her back to the winged monster, but she felt even less comfortable if she couldn’t keep an eye on it…just in case. Instead, I sat on the edge of the couch and she hid behind me, peeking out every few minutes to make sure it hadn’t moved. We sat that way while Hubby chatted with his friend, and the whole time I mentally calculated the length of exposure to scary monsters and how the increase in time was inversely proportional to the number of hours of sleep we’d be getting in the next week.

We made it out OK. Youngest has forgiven us, although she did ask politely if we would please never, ever take her to get hot chocolate in a building full of monsters. Ever. Again. I feel pretty comfortable that I can safely promise her that it won’t happen again.

Next time, we’ll call first. Oh–and yes, it is possible to drink hot chocolate while your mother is covering your eyes. Just in case you wondered.


RAP: Toward Jerusalem (a poem for lent)

toward Jerusalem

mothers with toddlers
clinging to the hip
holding sticky hands
smoothing rumpled hair
soothing and coaxing
shepherding toward Jerusalem

old men with wooden canes
stooped with the weight
of years and wisdom
bringing with them
memories that span generations
remembering toward Jerusalem

fathers with work-worn hands
and care worn hearts
the weight of responsibility
written in canyons
on their creased brow
leading toward Jerusalem

young men, young women
eager and vibrant
their enthusiasm one step
ahead of apprehension
singing songs of worship
advancing toward Jerusalem

sinners and saints
hearts broken, eyes open
tattered frays of earthly tents
dragging behind scuffed
and worn souls
stumbling toward Jerusalem

I almost let this Friday’s poetry go, due to being over-busy and under-inspired. Happily, others had written great poetry today and the idea of writing about lent worked around in my mind for awhile, and this is what I came up with. I have a sort of vision in my mind related to the season of Lent, where we are all somehow making an internal pilgrimage to Jerusalem and to the garden, the cross, and the empty tomb.

More poetry Friday on RAP: Meditations for Lent
Other Random Acts of Poetry:

Mom2six’s poem by her 8-year-old daughter
For Me by Andy C
Lavonda’s What is Required
Marcus reads from T. S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday
On the Road by nAncY
The Unknown Contributor’s Orchid
12 Steps Closer’s Haiku for Jesus: The Crazy at Night

Community Celebrates Together (Card Party! Winner gets a Starbucks Gift Card)

I remember with fondness the community celebrations our town put on each year. As a child I loved to go to these…the Sweet Pea Festival, which happened each year in August, was one of my favorites. There were booths with food, artwork by local artists, games and face painting for the kids, and live music under the trees or on the old wooden outdoor theater. Children roamed the aisles of booths, sticky with cotton candy. We played on the playground to the sounds of folk guitar and thumping rock, parents lounged under spreading trees and talked while we glued wood shavings onto foam meat trays and wiggled on folding chairs while teen-aged volunteers painted butterflies on our faces. We saw friends we hadn’t seen in a long time, caught up with neighbors, laughed and chatted with our plastic cups of gritty lemonade.

Celebrations! They bring a community together, don’t they? There’s nothing like a good party to give a group of people a chance to relax, get to know each other and enjoy one another’s company. As a smaller community, our family loves to get together with friends and play games. Card games, board games, charades…my favorites are the games that don’t take much concentration and can be played while a lively conversation is in progress.

If a party can draw a traditional community together, can it also help build a virtual one? At High Calling Blogs, there’s a party going on! Tuesday I posted about community becoming the hands and feet of God through working together for a good cause. HCB’s Card Party blends celebration with service by asking members to join together and throw a card party for charity.

The idea is to collect gift cards with money still left on them. A few dollars, a hundred dollars…whatever you’ve got and feel led to give. Write the amount left on the card in permanent marker (if you don’t know the amount, give the company a call at the number on the back of the card, or go to their website and check it that way). The cards can then be sent in to Marcus at The High Calling Blogs (address below) and he will compile them and send them to GiftCardGiver, an organization that uses the cards to purchase goods for people in need. Here’s the address:

Marcus Goodyear
H.E. Butt Foundation
719 Earl Garrett
P.O. Box 290670
Kerrville, TX 78029-0670

Now the fun part! What about getting your community involved? Your local friends and family, or your blogging community, maybe your child’s elementary school…scouts, church groups, anyone who might want to help out. Throw a party! Invite people over to play games or cards, or to watch a movie, or just to hang out and relax and eat some good desserts or h’ours dourves. If you’re throwing a game party, consider offering prizes for the winner and consolation prizes for the loser (oops, maybe “winning challenged” is a better term?). Entry to the party? Gift cards, of course! Decorate a basket and keep it at the door to collect the cards.

Or, just get the word out to others that the Card Party is going on. Send them a link to the Card Party post at HCG, or send them a note in the mail explaining the project. Collect the cards from friends, family, schools etc. and send them in.

Finally, post an online Card Party! The more parties going on, the better. Grab the button off the sidebar here and post it on your website, then blog something about cards…gift cards, playing cards, a picture, a few words, a photo journal of your actual card party, whatever you feel like doing.

Let’s see what our online community can do! Celebrate together, serve together, and make a difference in the real world. I’m so excited to see what we’re able to accomplish!

And, just to sweeten the pot…I’m offering a door prize to the person who contributes the most cards by March 18, 2009. That’s right! I’ll mail you a Real, non-virtual prize if you manage to collect the most cards and send them in to Marcus before March 18th. The prize?

A gift card, of course! A $15.00 Starbucks gift card of your very own, mailed right to your door.

So grab your cards, pop a little popcorn and join the party! I hope to see you there.

Community takes risks to grow closer

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

If you’ve missed the last few posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about community and how a virtual community can be a living, vital part of society. How people can make a difference in each other’s lives despite never having met in person, how an online community might work together to make a difference in the world.

Being a part of a community involves a certain amount of risk. You have to be willing to let people in, to share parts of your heart that you might not be entirely comfortable sharing, to take relationships a step further in order to get to know people better. For an introvert like me (and I suspect I’m not alone!) the temptation with online communities is to keep strictly to your comfort zone. It’s comfortable “speaking” through the keyboard, in emails and blog posts and within the safe confines of the comment box.

Last week, I was blessed to have the opportunity to take a step out of my comfort zone…twice!

A dear online friend had a family crisis, and I could feel her heart breaking through the words of her email. It broke my heart not to be able to jump into the car, drive over to her house and be with her…and email just wasn’t enough. I realized I needed to hear her voice, needed to be able to talk freely with her and connect in a different way than through written words. We exchanged phone numbers, and spent a long while talking. Dialing the number was a little hard for me…I am not particularly good on the phone and I was nervous. Would we be able to connect the way we do through email? I needn’t have worried, our conversation flowed as easily as if we talked on the phone every day.

Then, fellow blogger L.L. Barkat gave me a call regarding a blogging matter. The phone rang, and I looked at caller ID. “Barkat”? Could this possibly be the L.L. Barkat? I couldn’t believe that I was talking with her, in “real life!” And she sounded just like I’d imagine she would, from her blogs. She’s as sweet and encouraging on the phone as she is in writing. It made my week! Again, I felt the deepening of relationships, the stepping forward out of my comfort zone and into something better.

So many times I’ve indulged myself with the sweet thought that one day, in God’s Kingdom, I’ll get to meet all these dear friends in real life. Real life, and we’ll have eternity to sit together and enjoy a cup of warm tea, some peach pie, and as many hours of conversation as we could ever want. I will still treasure this dream, but along with it I’m thinking…maybe on this side of heaven we can find new ways to deepen these relationships, to help and encourage each other. Maybe we should commit to moving just a little out of our comfort zones and reaching out in a different way.

Of course, discretion is important. We should always be careful with what we share online and be cautious when it comes to giving out too much information. And if you’re reading this and you’re not over, say, age 22, don’t even think about giving your phone number to anyone over the Internet! But for many of us, thinking outside the (comment) box can be a great thing. Is there someone you’ve known online for a long time, and always wanted to talk to? Consider picking up the phone. Take a risk to grow closer, to build community. It will bless you!

Photo: stock photo

Community…becoming the hands and feet of God

Yesterday I posted some thoughts on community. Is it possible to have a virtual community? And if it is, can you take a community that exists only in words and pictures and move with it? Can you bring it into three dimensions? And if it’s possible, what would you do with it?

One online community that has been a blessing in my life is The High Calling Blogs. For those of you who’ve never been there, HCB is a community of Christian bloggers who support each other in areas like writing, faith, parenting, and social networking. If you’re a Christian Blogger, consider joining! And if you just like to read great writing on the topic, head over and bookmark the site. They highlight a wonderful variety of posts and there is always food for thought to be found there!

The HCB community has recently come up with a great idea…an idea which moves online community into real action. The idea is to raise money and goods for charity through an unusual but exciting way….a Card Party! You’re probably thinking: What on earth does a card party have to do with real community, or with charity? Here’s the lowdown. In a nutshell, this community is encouraging its members to collect those gift cards that are lying around the house. Cards with a few dollars left on them, maybe cards for places you don’t usually go or maybe cards that have just a little left on them but not enough for, say, a Carmel Mocha Frappachino at Starbucks. The idea is to collect the cards, send them in, and they will be donated to an organization that uses them to purchase goods for people in need. One Wal-Mart card with $2.18 left on it won’t buy you much, but a hundred cards with that much would provide diapers for a lot of babies! I think it’s a wonderful idea.

I’ll be posting my “Card Party” post later in the week, but I wanted to mention it today…first to get people thinking about it, but also because it is a wonderful example of how virtual community can rally around and make real change happen.

I love the idea of a community becoming the Hands and Feet of God. We are asked by Jesus to abide in his love (John 15:9), and I think one of the best ways to do this is by becoming living, acting members of his body. I think of the members of my imaginary “real life” community….the quiet mowers of the widow’s lawn, the bearers of funeral casseroles, the creator of the lemon pound cake that appears at ever community celebration. When there’s a need, the community moves as one body…each doing it’s own part…to fill that need. 1 Corinthians 12:14 is a wonderful example of how that works in us, as the body of Christ:

14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The community of Christ, taking action as His hands and feet (and eyes, and ears, and mouth…) here on earth! In the same sense, I think a virtual community can become incarnate when its members act together for the greater good. And in the process, the community itself benefits from a new level of closeness and understanding that is always the product of people putting their hearts and minds together to work together for the greater good!

So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Roman’s 12:5

Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup, bread, and salad. There is a nasty virus going around our church, and since many of my friends work in Children’s Ministry (a hotbed of viral fun) I know two families who are sick. I’m making a tankard of chicken noodle soup today for our family and for two others, and even though everyone under this roof is blessedly healthy soup just sounds good! For each pot of soup you need one box of gluten free chicken stock, three chicken thighs (bone-in is fine), three carrots, four stalks celery, one small minced onion, two cloves of garlic, salt, poultry seasoning, and 1/2 package of gluten free noodles (we like Tinkyana pasta, the type with the fun shapes is cheerful and fun). You put the stock in a large pot, add the chicken, garlic and onion and boil until the chicken is cooked through. Take out the chicken and pull it off the bone, chopping it into small pieces. Return the chicken to the pot and discard the bones. Add the sliced carrot and celery and the seasonings and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Then add the noodles and cook until they are done (I usually add them, wait five minutes, then turn off the pot and let them sit another 10 or so).

Tuesday: Meatloaf burgers and home fries, salad. Meatloaf burgers are a good way to save money and stretch your hamburger meat. I add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice to one pound ground beef and stir well. Add 3 eggs and one package of Lipton Onion Soup mix (gluten free! Yea!). Mix well, then form into patties and cook on the stove top until done throughout. Serve on gluten free buns or wrapped in a lettuce leaf, or just serve the patty like a slice of meatloaf! For the fries, I cut up about 1 potato each and toss with olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 450 until crisp and brown.

Wednesday: Tacos. I mix a pound of ground beef with a can of drained, rinsed black beans (there’s the meat-stretching bit again!). Add 1/2 cup salsa, 3 tsp. chili powder, and some garlic salt and cook until done. Serve with corn taco shells, or rice tortillas with avocado, salsa, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, and whatever else you like!

Thursday: Beef Stir Fry and Ham Fried Rice. Make a big pot of rice, and take out 2/3 of the rice for ham fried rice. Throw in ham, lots of peas, and a chopped onion and drizzle olive oil over it all. When it is hot, add 2 or 3 beaten eggs mixed with soy sauce and stir well. Let the rice get browned and the egg cook through. The stir fry will just be sliced beef, water chestnuts, a bag of oriental vegetables (check the label for gluten!) and a sauce of soy sauce, beef or chicken broth, a bit of ginger and some garlic. Check your soy sauce for gluten, most brands DO have gluten! Serve the stir fry with the rice you reserved.

Friday: Cassoulet and braised Brussels sprouts. For Cassoulet, click here and see Thursday’s entry. Cut Brussels sprouts in half and braise them in chicken broth and garlic until browned and tender.

Saturday: Steak with baked potato, beats and kale.

Sunday: Burritos. Refried beans mixed with cooked rice, avocado, lettuce, tomato, salsa, non-dairy sour cream, lettuce, olives, and whatever else sounds good. I like to use a rice tortilla, put the beans on top and cook it in a pan until the tortilla is crisp. Then I add the toppings and fold it in half. Yum!



What do you think of when you hear the word “community?” I’ve been thinking about what make a community, and I’ve found that my vision of what community entails is changing.

Having grown up in a small, Norman-Rockwell worthy town, my idea of community has always had the vague sort of architectural lines that a small town owns. A group of people, living in the same few miles of earth, sharing a firehouse, a library, perhaps a town hall. They know each other’s children, they’ve seen the laundry hanging in their neighbor’s backyards. They know that this family always grows giant sunflowers in the South-East corner of their lawn and that another family tends to let their children wander a little too far from the confines of their yard, and sometimes clad in only a soggy diaper. They know the widow down the street and they sometimes mow her lawn, without letting her know they’ve done it. The widow knows that it must have been one of four or five people, the same four or five that receive a loaf of her homemade banana bread every year around Christmas. And in the kitchens throughout this community, at brunches or gatherings celebrating births or at quiet pot-luck funeral luncheons, any number of people can pick up a slice of cake and say “This must be June Day’s lemon pound cake.”

The community as I pictured it does still exist, but times have changed. I’ve found that community also exists…and thrives! In unexpected places. Places like here, on the Internet. Last week, Sam Van Eman of The High Calling Blogs wrote about real community. What does that mean? Can you have a “real” community through connections made online? Can you truly be part of a community of people you’ve never met? And the more I think about it the more I think the answer is a resounding yes!

The folks at High Calling Blogs have set out to create something unusual but entirely possible: A community of people bound by the common threads of faith and writing, a real community of people who have gotten to know each other, have prayed for one another, have learned an amazing amount about one another’s history, family, beliefs, struggles, joys, and imaginations. A community that encourages, consoles, and celebrates together much like the imagined small-town community I wrote about above. We recognize L.L.’s poetic picture of nature’s beauty, we know Ann’s soft and lilting voice as she takes us through the holiness of every-day living, we laugh together, commiserating over child-made haircuts. We see snapshots of lives and places far from us, brought near by Rebekah’s beautiful photos. We experience the grief and heartache of a fellow blogger’s experience in NICU. And more, much more than I can put in one post! We form a global neighborhood of friends and family, eager to sit and connect over a cup of coffee, able to bridge a thousand-mile gap with a click of the mouse.

How can you have a community in a virtual world? Those of you who have spent a little time in small towns like High Calling Blogs, or have joined social applications like Facebook, or have made good friends through online bulletin boards related to some aspect of your life….you know what I’m talking about. You form intense attachments, you get to know the very core of a person before ever seeing the outside.

But is it enough? Can a virtual community really change anything, really touch the real world in a meaningful way?

Again, I think the answer is a resounding yes.

Years ago Hubby and I worked at a Christian summer camp, and the theme that year was “One community, becoming the hands and feet of God”. I picture the physical embodiment of an online community in much the same way…one community, based on spirit, going out and making a difference as individual parts of one body. People picking up the spirit of the community and taking it out into their own real-life communities, becoming hands and feet of flesh and bone that can use that spirit to make a difference!

This week, I’m going to post some more ideas about virtual community becoming real community. Some thoughts on the meaningful and true friendships developed thought keyboards and pictures, and how they can be taken to new levels. Some ideas on how to support each other in our writing, our spiritual walk, our parenting, and so much more.

Some exciting ideas and projects are coming up that have shifted my thinking in terms of taking an online village and using it to improve things in the real-world global village! I believe we can become the hands and feet of God, and that we can take the spirit of a community and make it a living thing. The possibilities are limitless, and it’s going to be exciting to see what’s in store.

Project 365, Week 8

Project 365, Week 8 February 15-21

Sunday, February 15: A game of connect four with a good friend.

Monday, February 16: Some tiny dinosaurs and a volcano that Sarah made for Isaiah. She made the volcano using her pottery wheel!

Tuesday, February 17: Rachel during a family game of cards.

Wednesday, February 18: Rachel bouncing on her bouncy-ball. I love her hair in the picture!

Thursday, February 19: Finful, Sarah’s beloved dolphin. Finful was given a new pair of beads for eyes due to the fact that one of his eyes somehow ended up inside the stuffing. Sarah performed the surgery herself.

Friday, February 20: A picture Isaiah snapped of one of his Bionicles. There were about 10,000 similar pictures on my camera, which when played one after another made a pretty neat stop-action animation. And also used up a good deal of memory card!

Saturday, February 21: Rachel fell fast asleep on the dog and had to be carried upstairs to her bed.

RAP: Red


The desert is red
red soil
stained rust-red
saturated with the blood
of nations
this dry dust
like parched parted lips
consumes the blood
of brothers
the blood of brothers
cries out to God
from the ground
red, red
the list of transgressions
written in red ink
red, red
ink like blood on paper
red, coursing through
living arteries
with every beat
red, red
offering of wine
how it goes down
how it moves in the cup
like blood
red, red
the cup passed
and not passed over
spilled on the desert dust
which pulls it in
silencing the cries
with the pure
and quenching red
of atonement

I took a chance with this one…it’s just sort of a free-association poem on the color red. It turned out much darker than I had planned, I was actually in a pretty good mood when I wrote it so I’m not sure where that came from. I sometimes think about Israel and how such a small piece of land holds so much history, how some places just feel holy and how the history of a place does sometimes seem to cry out from the ground.

Poetry this Friday:

L.L. writes of Scarlet….unplanned and on the same morning! Maybe you’ll write a color poem, too?
The High Calling Blog’s RAP: Changing the World
Nancy’s Awaken
August Evening by Jim
Andy’s Would You Have Known Him


A little enthusiasm at work…

Emergent reader…that’s what Youngest has recently become. What a joy it’s been to see the unfolding! One of the true joys of homeschooling is seeing your child really “get it” for the first time, and seeing their delight at the accomplishment.

We’ve used the book “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” for each of our childrens‘ early reading instruction, and out of the three Youngest has had the longest struggle with learning. She is just so busy that although she was able to understand and remember what she learned, she just couldn’t seem to sit still for the time required to do the lessons…so we’ve taken a good deal longer with her than we did with her siblings. However, what she lacked in speed she is now making for in enthusiasm!

One of the things I’ve loved about this process is watching the joy on her face as she realizes that her ability to read exists beyond the confines of the big yellow lesson book. I see her light up as she reads familiar signs on the sides of buildings all by herself, as she sounds out the names on people’s name tags at church functions, or the words on somebody’s shirt. She brings me early-reader books and begs to sit down with me to read, then she reads determinedly and painstakingly thirty, even forty pages of silly rhyming prose. The child who couldn’t sit still for five minutes now happily sits for half an hour and more, reading with enthusiastic glee! What a blessing to be the one who gets to see that, to be able to give her free reign to read and read and read to her heart’s desire.

Enthusiasm: That’s the word for this week. Youngest was happily chanting the word over and over all afternoon for some reason, and at dinner she proudly asked Hubby if he knew what it meant. He started to answer but she stopped him. “No, wait!” she said. “I wanted to tell you what it means. It means: Excited!”

Indeed. I realize that right now I’m lacking in that department. Enthusasim…joy…desire to live and learn fueling the drive to do more. We’ve hit a rut in homeschooling, where learning for the older two children has become a chore and a routine rather than a joy. I’m in the process of changing some of the things we’ve been doing to make things more fun, to bring more joy back to the learning process. We’re switching to a much more hands-on approach, which I think will be good.

It’s amazing how quiet and incremental the loss of enthusiasm can be…whether it’s a loss of the joy of learning, or of faith, or of relationships. Sometimes you don’t really notice your lack of enthusiasm until you see the abundance of it in another’s life! It makes me want to slow down, to take notice, to appreciate…even revel in!…the fact that I get to do this. I get to teach my kids each day, because I’m blessed with three wonderful little lives in my care. I get to clean my house, the home we’ve made and have been blessed with. I get to prepare meals each day, because we’re blessed with enough to eat. I get to read my Bible and go to Bible study with good friends, because I’m blessed with living in a country where I’m allowed to do that freely. I get to fall asleep in the arms of the the love of my life every night, a daily blessing many don’t have. I get to be present here and now, and be enthusiastic about that…if I just choose to be.

Joyful enthusiasm, for the things that might normally pass by unnoticed. That’s what I’m praying for today!

A help for maintaining joy and enthusiasm in daily life has been keeping a Gratitude Journal….it reminds you to appreciate the little blessings that are so abundant in life. Stop by Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience, to learn more about the Gratitude Journal and join the growing group there who are keeping a record of God’s grace in their lives!