Cultivating a Life of Gratitude

I am committing myself, during 2010, to attempt to cultivate a greater awareness of how much I have to be thankful and grateful for by sharing my daily findings and musings with you. It is my hope that by blogging about gratitude, I will be more aware of what is going on around me in my life, my family, my friends' lives and our world.

January 31, 2010

2 Products to Help One Survive the Frozen Tundra - My Skin and Hair are THANKFUL! :)

Cell Phones and Laughter

I must be really tough on my cell phones. You should see my purple phone … it has seen better days and this proud customer is trying to wait until my husband’s contract is up before we re-negotiate with our provider. Therefore, since my purple phone is utterly dead with no chance of resurrection, I’m attempting to cultivate a thankful heart for Ross’s old cell phone, which accepts my SIM card and works like a charm even if it’s kind of like a dinosaur cell phone.

We had a great time tonight at Laugh for Life at Grace Church, Eden Prairie, MN. It was a benefit for New Life Family Services and the guys from Triple Espresso did their comedy routines … it’s always good to laugh on a cold winter’s night. PLUS – what a phenomenal organization to support! Thanks S and J for the date!

January 29, 2010


Some weeks, Friday in and of itself is enough. :)

Here is a list of things that made me smile today:

1 - Talking 'Love and Logic' with 3 very wonderful girlfriends this morning while Ross watched our kiddos upstairs.
2 - Ross having the day off after a very busy J-term
3 - Going to the MOA with Ross and E-man (we do this about 2 or 3 times a year)
4 - Buying Ross birthday presents :)
6 - Buying a new pair of sunglasses that has a one year warranty (I NEED the warranty)
5 - Qudoba for lunch
7 - $2.99 sale at Children's Place that a friend we ran into told us about ... thanks H.W.!
6 - Starbucks gift card that purchased us each a sweet treat for the ride home
7 - Family 'rest' time upon arriving home
8 - Finishing a good book called "The List" by Robert Whitlow

AND THE BEST PART!  It's only Friday!

January 27, 2010

J-Term is OVER!

We survived! 

Ross has been teaching Introduction to the Bible this January at Bethel.  It was a morning class beginning at 8 a.m. going until 10:45 a.m. every day. Usually I sleep until 8 a.m. (thank you, Ross!).  So, this January E-man and I have had extra morning bonding time.   While this extra hour or so has been okay and mostly good once my body adjusted to a little less sleep, I'm really looking forward to returning to our normal 'schedule'.  I'm spoiled - I know - but I'm also REALLY thankful for a husband who gets up with the boy, feeds him breakfast and brings him to me all happy and ready to play. 

This January has taught me to be very grateful for
1.  A husband who works hard
2.  The extra money from this class he has been teaching

 Most importantly ...
3.  I'm thankful for the way he serves me on our 'regular' mornings by taking care of our early morning riser.  :)

January 26, 2010

Toddler's Busy Book

So it’s winter in MN. The ground is completely frozen – the sidewalks are covered in ice and snow. There is hardly any melting so you really can’t play outside especially during the negative wind-chill temperature days … so before I sound like I’m complaining instead of being thankful … J let me say today I am very thankful for simple books like “The Toddler’s Busy Book” which can be checked out of the local library.

I have a busy little guy. He never stops moving. Therefore, I rarely stop moving. During the warm months this is easy to enjoy by just moving ourselves outside to a playground. However, I’ve been finding it challenging to keep myself from getting bored being inside so much and I have to think E-man gets bored too (although he is so good natured he seems to find fun in every corner of the house). I did some research for idea books and found this one. The ideas are simple but so great. They give a list of things to collect and/or purchase. So much of it is stuff you probably have laying around the house. Today while we were running errands I bought a few things to help us complete some of the activities on my list for this week. I’m looking forward to doing these with E-man. Thank goodness for a mom who took the time to write down 365 ideas of fun things for toddlers to do – age appropriate, developmentally right on … as she says – day care providers and preschools lesson plan to make sure your child is getting lots of different learning experiences, so why not try to pick one or two activities to do a day?

I’m taking the challenge – we’ll see how it goes. So far it has been easy! :) Today’s activities: Sheet tent and maybe a masking tape racetrack on the floor. The busy toddler is waking up from his nap ... here we go!

Piano Students

(End of lesson, last lesson of night)

“L – do you have any questions for me tonight?”

(6 year old, cutie pie, thinking long and hard)

“Yes, I do have one! Why did you become a piano teacher?”

“Well, I had a very fun piano teacher when I was growing up …”

”… and you wanted to be like her and be a very fun piano teacher?”

“Yes, and I also love music and piano and singing.”

“Well I love music and piano and singing, too!!”

“I know L – I can tell! You’re doing such a great job learning the piano!”

BIG SMILE and … as I’m walking out the door of her home, after my second hug of the night, she yells out “I LOVE YOU EMILY!”

“I love you too, L!”

So … yes – I am so grateful for my job. I am grateful for the years and years of piano lessons my parents paid for, drove me to, encouraged me to practice for and hung in there through my nerve-racking recitals.

I am grateful for the teachers who loved on me through music.

I am also grateful for those first students/parents who let me ‘learn’ how to teach and all of my students who continue to help me get better as a teacher as I learn from all of them.

I have many great, generous shoulders I stand and teach on each week and I’m grateful for everyone who has contributed to my career.

January 22, 2010

Health Care in MN

Having health insurance and amazing system of doctors and clinics in Minnesota is something I try not to take for granted.  I am always in awe of the amount it actually costs to walk in the door when I get those print outs in the mail versus my 20 dollar co-pay.  I know people who do not have health insurance because they cannot afford it and I have often thought how stressful it would be to wonder whether or not you should take your child to the doctor because the total bill could totally put you in greater debt.  My biggest annoyance is wondering whether I will have thrown away 20 dollars to know for certain if E-man has an ear infection or not - that's a big difference in mentalities and even stress levels.  I realize what a privilege it is to be 'covered'. 

I've been thinking about health care again this week and I'm thankful for kind doctors, nurses and lab technicians who will take their time talking to you and answering your questions.  I'm also thankful for very little wait time - in PA, I always remember planning for waiting times of at least 20 minutes if not more - in MN, it is a rare day that I actually have had to wait for 20 minutes or more and they often have a chart telling you if your doctor is behind and by how much - isn't that a nice courtesy?  All of this has been so helpful especially when waiting with a small child and having a small child who frequents the doctor often.  So, today I am thankful once again for health care and insurance.   

January 21, 2010

Jimmy John's

Tonight I was especially thankful for the fact that Jimmy John's delivers.  The driver arrived  7 minutes after I called and brought my order right to my piano lab/classroom.  Even better - I had a gift card from a piano student which covered my yummy dinner AND I had a few spare ones to tip the driver.  To top it all off - the guy on the phone asked if I wanted a drink and said if I added one he'd give me a free sub card - so next week, when I go to work - I can get a free sub!  Thank you Jimmy John's! 

January 20, 2010

Hand Holding

Holding hands or hand holding?  Either way, I'm really grateful E-man is figuring this out.  It was very important today for several different things that happened and I'm proud of him for even reaching for my hand once or twice and waiting for me to grab is before walking away.  As he gets more independent and walks to and from the car (saving my back!) this is a huge blessing for this momma of a 20 month old. :)

January 19, 2010

Found Alive


This is my sister's coworker, Dan and his wife.  My sister works closely with him at Compassion.  He was missing for 65 hours.  Not only am I incredibly thankful that he was found alive, but I am in awe of his attitude and great faith.  Here is someone who literally faced death head on and is living to tell about it.  What an example of unwavering faith.   I am amazed at how Jesus shines so clearly through this man and his wife in this interview with Meredith.  PTL!  Seeing the wreckage is also a powerful reminder to be in prayer for the recovery efforts that continue on in Haiti. 

January 18, 2010


Today's moment of gratitude is simple.  I am thankful for the very quick bank teller at Premier Bank this afternoon.  Although depositing money at most banks can be done through a drive-through situation, Premier Bank does not have this option.  So, every week, I make the trek (usually with E in tow) into Walmart to deposit money for our church.  I'm happy to do this but it does take a little bit of extra effort on my behalf and a desire to drag the precious child out of the house in the dead of winter in MN.  So, today, I decided to make a quick stop on my way to teach piano.  I had already safely deposited E-man at my parents home and was keeping my fingers crossed that I would get a teller who would quickly print my receipt because I had literally a 5 minute window before I needed to be back in my car and driving down Lexington.  So - today - I'm thankful for the girl who did my deposit in under one minute.  This probably means I avoided talking with the other women who know me as a 'regular' and I have become friendly with - but it was necessary and I was thankful for someone who did her job so efficiently that it sent me on my way on time and saved me another trip out of the house with E-man.  :)

January 17, 2010


A great win for the Vikings against the Cowboys happened today.  I think we have our beloved Eagles to thank for letting the Cowboys get lazy ... so ... Eagles - thank you for tricking the Cowboys into thinking everyone would be that easy to beat.  :)

On a more serious note - I am thankful for my little e-man and all of his many words.  He is just learning language like nobody's business.  From the back seat today, while we were waiting for Ross to come out of Target, I hear "Oh myyy ... ohhh my".  It made me think about how often I must say that phrase.  It was so cute coming out of his little mouth.  He's got quite a few in his arsenol right now.  Some favorite words are "duice", "Dada Ross", "Elmo", "nuky", "puuush", "help", "Mama", "booook,  "gaama", and "Dosh!" (d - for the j sound :)).  Every once in awhile he will just come up with a whole sentence which amazes us and makes us wonder just how much he has going on in his little head.  He more often babbles enter sentences and I know eventually those sentences will become more and more clear but right now I'm just loving the intensity with which he shares his sentences that no one understands.  It's so cute!  I'm just in awe of how the human brain processes language development.  What a treat to have a front row seat, watching how amazingly complex God has created us to be as our little guy grows and develops! 

January 16, 2010

Close Call

On this beautifully "I can actually feel the sun" Saturday in Minnesota, I am very thankful that my friend Melissa and I were not in a head on collision this morning.  You see, as I was waiting at a stop sign to turn out of her subdivision we were almost hit head on by a truck that wasn't paying ANY attention to where he was going or staying in his lane.  I was in my lane waiting to turn left - not sure how that would have been 'no fault' (stupid MN no fault crashes).  It really was a close call.  So - I'm thankful for the guardian angel that was with us and for my car still being in one piece.  We were headed on our way down to Roseville for Schmitt Music's Piano Teacher Recital workshop.  Well worth the 2 hours we spent there!  It was so nice to have a friend to go with this year.  I'm also thankful for job security.  Looking around the room, I left feeling very young and fashionable (lots of ugly sweaters) and it reminded me that I have great job security in the piano teaching world.  The average age of piano teacher in that room today - probably 47.  :)

January 15, 2010

First time for everything

(BEGIN SIDE NOTE) So, awhile back, a friend recommended using blogspot.  Many friends use blogspot.  It is SO much easier for me to figure out than Xanga, so here I am.  (END SIDE NOTE)

Yesterday as I was beginning my drive to work, I was struck by just how incredibly thankful I should be for everything in my life.  I'm not sure why it hit me as I was sitting at the light, waiting to turn left, but it did.  I think it partly had to do with being SO thankful the roads were clear and dry for my long drive.  Almost within the same second I thought to myself - I really should start a blog where I document each day something that I am thankful for ... wouldn't that be something to reflect back on after a year?  Well - I decided to try it.  These thoughts may not be profound.  They actually may be rather simple.  I guess that's part of what I'm trying to grow in myself though - having an attitude or lense through which I view the world with gratefulness rather than (you fill in the blank).

Some of these thoughts were inspired by a sermon series I recently listened to about how generosity is THE way of life. I think it reminded me that I often take for granted such simple things like having a roof over my head, food to eat, having love in my life, clean water to drink, etc. I think it also reminded that we have such an incredibly generous God with an amazingly generous message and I was challenged to think about whether or not people in my every day life are aware of just how generous God has been to me when they hear me talk or reflect on my life and it has also challenged me in the area of how I give of my time, talents, treasure and touch (listen to the sermons ;)).

In an effort to attempt to daily remind myself of all that I have been given and that which I often overlook or take for granted, here is my second attempt at entering the blog-o-sphere.  I am pretty passionate about this topic and hopefully it will be a good challenge for me to daily share my moments or reflections on generosity and being thankful.  We'll see how it goes!

Today, 1/15/2010,  I am thankful for the way people around me are living, breathing examples of generosity.

Here are two examples:

1.  We have some friends who decided to donate their car to a single woman in their church.  I respect them a lot for choosing to do this with their car.  They could have traded it in or done other things with this car but they are people who God has been cultivating generosity in for several years.  It's been fun to watch them on their journey and to be inspired by them to give in practical ways.  I also believe there are people in their lives who have been great examples of generosity to them - so it's neat to see it being passed on from grandparents to grandchildren to people outside of their family. 

2.  My parents are another great example who continually bless us with diapers for Ethan and just about anything else Ethan needs or would like :) ... and they are always quick to feed us or help us in so many ways.  My mom treats me and Ethan to lunch at least once a month and it's a special mom, daughter, grandson bonding time that I do not want to take for granted.  We did that today after a trip to Costco and I'm just thankful for that time and the yummy Panera food that my hands did have to prepare or pay for ... :) and while we sit there and talk about life, the events in Haiti, parenting, etc.  I'm thankful - so VERY thankful - for the conversation we get to have face to face while we both live in the same state.  It's such a blessing to be friends with my mom and to enjoy time together and to have her help tackling Ethan when he turns into a wild monkey ;). 

Those are my reflections for today in the quiet of nap time ... we'll see what tomorrow holds!  Until then ... may we be reminded to "give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for [us] in Christ Jesus".