This Thanksgiving, and many other days, I remind myself and my kids that even though things have not gone as we would have liked lately, we still have plenty to be thankful for (and then we go on to list several things we're grateful for and try to keep our focus on our blessings). All our feelings of loss, disappointment, hurt, sadness, even anger at times are valid. I'm teaching my kids that it's totally normal and okay to feel each of the feelings we have.. but then to talk about them, pray about them and release them, so that we don't become bitter. God wants us to have joy-filled lives. We can choose to focus on the pain, or we can determine to focus on the positive. I choose joy. (Disclaimer: I struggle too sometimes, and I have to remind myself just like I do my kids. I'm so thankful for them.. I keep going and choosing joy because that's what I want for them, and I know they learn best by example.)
One of the things I'm most thankful for right now is the love of friends and family. Here are some pictures of our family at Thanksgiving.
My sister Michelle and her husband Mark. They were the hosts of this year's Thanksgiving festivities. I'm the middle of three sisters, and we take turns hosting each year.
It's become a tradition to play this silly game we call "Pluck the turkey". Brooklyn cut out a bunch of paper feathers, and we taped them all over Mark and Michelle. They run around the backyard "gobbling" while the kids chase them and try to pluck their feathers!
My niece Emily (17), third from the left above, had just finished this art project on her bedroom wall. She wallpapered an entire wall with scrapbook papers. I love how colorful and bright it is!
Between the three of us we have 10 children, ranging in ages from 17 to 2. They're all very close and have so much fun when we're together.
I had to work the next morning (Black Friday) at 3:00am! (I usually start at 4:00, but we had to get there early for the eager shoppers!) My kids stayed the night at my sister's house and we all got together again later for some go-cart fun.
Sisters... that's me on the left, Michelle and Kelly.
Oldest and youngest ready to ride! (Judah LOVED it!)
Kelly and I took a turn too. I'm not sure why I let her drive first... I guess it's because I'm the nice one! =)
My brother-in-laws are the best! Black Friday this year also happened to be our anniversary.
I had no idea I'd be mourning on this day, our 16th wedding anniversary. Some very dear friends knew it would be a hard day and brought me flowers at work, and later when I was with my family, my brother-in-laws went out to buy me flowers too. They're the best.
A few days later, I was at a meeting and Michelle was going to watch the kids. Instead of taking them to her house, they stayed at our house and put up some Christmas lights for us! My nieces even chipped in some of their allowance to help buy the lights! Such a nice surprise!!! The girls also made hot chocolate from scratch... so I came home to a bright, smelly good home! I am so thankful.