November 27, 2014

Choosing and every day!

   It is so easy to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day, but do you carry a heart of gratitude throughout the year? Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book Choosing Gratitude helped me immensely as I try to form a habit of being thankful for everything! I followed the 30-day devotional included in this book and it was a wonderful 30 days...I need to do it again!

   CHOOSING GRATITUDE by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to JoyIs the gratitude that flows out of your life as abundant as the grace that flows into your life?

  You may think of yourself as a pretty grateful person, I know I did. I am one of the most thankful people for all the blessings the Lord heaps upon me! But what about the hard times? What about the lessons and trials of life which are sent by God?
As I force myself to realize, being grateful for God's work in your life a year after, is not true gratitude. Imagine how different your life would be if you maintained an attitude of thanksgiving?

As the author emphasizes, ''gratitude is a lifestyle.''
''The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment; it is the fruit of a thousand choices.''

''True gratitude is not an incidental ingredient. Nor is it a stand-alone product, something that never actually intersects with life, safely denying reality out on its own little happy island somewhere'' (pg.23)

Without living with a true heart of thankfulness...
''Gradually, subtly, we become desensitized as layers of entitlement and resentment wrap themselves around our hearts until thankfulness is all but gone from our lives and lips.''
Oh, how I agree! I have felt this too often in my life. This holds true even day by day. As soon as we let go and retreat into our natural way of feeling sorry for ourselves, it becomes like a trap.
The author tells the story of a church leader from India, when asked honest opinion of Americans. He responded carefully ''You have no idea how much you have, and yet you always complain.''
Isn't that (sadly) the case?
What are we going to do about it?

''Where does gratitude rank on your list of Christian virtues?''
 Nancy explains that faith without gratitude results in a heartless practice of religion. Christian love without gratitude culminates in disappointment and disillusionment. Sacrificial giving of self without gratitude will drain you of joy.

   I can't describe what a blessing this book was to me. Nancy gently but firmly encourages the reader to examine his or her heart and to work on changing personal attitudes.
It's not simply a matter of applying a Pollyanna-like attitude to life. It's about how you view God's hand in your life. And about how you view yourself in comparison to God's perfection and holiness! We should be overwhelmed by all that He has given us! I quote loosely from the movie Courageous: ''The question is- are you going to be thankful for the nine years you had Emily, or resentful for the years you didn't have?'

 Nine chapters of wisdom. Plus a thirty-day devotional. I recommend this book with all my heart!

November 20, 2014

September 2014: birthdays, a bridal shower, the Zoo etc!

September started in splendid fashion!
   One innocent Monday morning Elodie and I were gardening at a client's home when we got surprise-invited to a showing of our friends' movie Beyond the Mask
   The showing was in Champaign  IL and that afternoon Jessie and I still had to janitorize the wedding venue where we work, so it was a splendid rush! 
   We managed to whirl through it all and head out the door right on time
 (leaving no minutes to spare, as usual...) with our Dad in our creaky old Volvo! :) 
With Sara after watching Beyond the Mask
I've only been to a movie theatre a couple times, and this one was a vintage one, making it all the more fun! The movie was...amazing! Of course, we'd already seen it last August. So this time we were able to relax and enjoy the whole experience without worrying we were missing important details! And needless to say, it was great seeing it all complete with final edits and music and such! You have to see this movie!!!

Speaking of the Burns family...
The girls of our family attended a bridal shower for Hannah, who married Nick Burns in October! (I was working that afternoon, but this is a family blog so I'm still sharing E's pictures of the event)

the happy bride to be!

a friend

Speaking of weddings...
In the middle of September, I was cooking for another wedding at the Larimore House  and I thought the colours were especially beautiful! The floral arrangements, done by Stems florist were so fallish. I loved them! My sister and I clean the place the Monday after weddings, and to my delight there were at least 8 of the centerpieces and bouquets leftover...we managed to lug them all home (it's only 15 minutes of walking- but arrangements are heavy!)

Just for fun...quick footage of the was a lot brighter there. I was disappointed at how dark the camera made it look.

Now we jump to September birthday! :) My Mum and Nikola decorated in one of my favourite styles ever! Green and Orange...with a 60's/70's twist! It was amazing.
In the recent years, I've expressed my interest in 1960's/1970's fashion styles...and my family remembered!
I like :) 

My 1960's/1970's birthday!
My Mum played music from her younger days to go along with this birthday...we became fans ourselves! ''Happy Together'' by the Turtles especially became a favourite!

little raspberry cream cups

We had raspberry cream cups, egg nog, and persimmon cake!

This is the persimmon cake...I used this delightful unsweetened ''persimmon bread pudding'' recipe, cooking it in a cake pan and slicing it in half. I layered and topped it with fresh whipped cream..mmm! Recipe will come later

Don't you love the bead curtain my Mum found? (at a thriftstore, no less!)
She also made the paper flowers

As for more music....we listened to the Monkees! They look hilarious, but their voices are great. :) 

Always enjoy Peter Paul and Mary!

And the song ''Downtown'' is fun!

After breakfast and Bible- time to open presents from my generous family!

Laura-Lise was my personal photographer ;)

Typical home life- right? Searching for things under the sofas...

...or practicing ripstick in the house. hm.

a sweet gift from a sister
Next...what to do with this fine birthday? I decided upon the Zoo! Once you get to be a certain age, you enjoy doing things the children love! Besides, I like the Zoo. :) 
Katia at the Zoo in the birthday dress Nikola created for her! It's reversible!

''aww...look at the grizzly bear!''

said grizzly bear.

eXACTly the same expression as our golden retriever. I'm assuming exactly the same quantity of brain as our dog too. Look at those tiny eyes!

happy Zoo times
I do NOT approve of this creature. Just saying. 

A baby camel!
It's my birthday...which means portraits of me! (it really only took 4 minutes)

Thank you Nikola! this is my favourite
Thanks, Elodie for my second-fav! Sorry-no prizes.

Okay...that's enough. :) 
Elodie takes neat pictures :) We shall call this one ''bedtime for the giraffes''
Since the Zoo was closing down for the evening, we headed home to make supper. I have no idea what we ate! was my favourite, so I'm supposed to remember it...especially since I made it's lost. I'll have to do a separate post when I remember. 
Anyhow, I remember dessert! :)  I created another sugarless cheesecake, which we had with healthy ice cream!
It was neat how they decorated it!

Nikko took these pictures...that's why they're not very good. Just kidding. It's nigh impossible to take food pictures at night in our house! But it was delicious cheesecake!

Chocolate sauce (semi-sweet for half the family who needed to add more-ahem-sweetener to their cake, and unsweetened for the other more intelligent half).

If you thought we were done with birthdays...we've only just begun, by the way! The next day, September 19th, was Laura-Lise's birthday! She's 11 years younger than me. 
They decorated just super bright and fun with crazy animals

Upon my late-night suggestion, Jessie miraculously created the funniest and sweetest ''Zinnia creatures'' ever! Which is your favourite?

I loved this Zinnia owl

But this Zinnia amazing. :) 

We played some fun old favourites for this birthday...

my birthday in the background

oh- Jessie also drew on balloons!

would you have the patience to do that on a balloon?

After a breakfast of waffles and little fruit turnovers which my Mum and I got up early to prepare and which Laura-Lise and Katia weren't even hungry for  after eating the other foods (children on birthdays...sigh...) as well as homemade quick-sausages and fruit...
we followed birthday traditions and headed over to Fort Bellefontaine for a lovely walk!

down the sun-dappled lane

I am so brilliant- I brought along this super-heavy arrangement from previously-mentioned wedding, just in case we had time for a photo shoot! I love these colours. My favourite for weddings!

Lovely Nikola

Lovely Elodie!

That night we went to a dance with friends! Sam was working, so we made sure we left early to meet up with him once he got home. :)
seeing double? It's the ''almost birthday twins''!

Alexandre and Hannah


somebody's tired!

dancing Irish Washerwoman!

Irish Washerwoman...this birthday week accidentally took on an Irish flair because we played some Irish 60's/70's music, listened to the Irish Rovers for Laura-Lise's birthday, and listened to the Riverdance CD I got on my birthday!

''Almost-birthday twins''!

Cake-time at home with Sam!
When you get tired of the typical ''me with my cake'' portrait, try something new...

The little lass really wanted to watch Riverdance, but instead Mummy surprised her with Spirit (from the library), which we watched while we ate our cake! We'd never seen the movie before, but had just bought the soundtrack after loving the theme music for over a year...and figured we'd try it out. :) 

At my age, I wasn't a fan of it apart from the beginning. I mean, a a horse. Not a hero. ;)
As for Riverdance, we watched that the  next afternoon, before I hurried off to work (I always hurry off...even if I get dressed a half hour ahead of time...)! :) 

The last Saturday in September we all (besides hard-working Sam) headed back to the Saint Louis Zoo with the sole intent to use up our family pass we had purchased Sept. 2013! We got to ride the train and see the sea lion show. Gracious, there's nothing more baby-ish sounding than that on a adult's blog! But you know. It's fun. :) Esp. with siblings!

To Nikola's delight, we got to see the tiger closeup. (while we waited forever in line for the train! Don't try the train on a lovely Saturday morning!)

...And that's all, folks! I loved September. I'm kind of surprised at the sane amount of photos for the post...but pleased. It was a lovely month. Lots of work and birthdays. 
How was your September? 
Stay tuned for the next posts(s)...OCTOBER! (and they're long posts, I assure you!)