Thanksgiving Traditions

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Happy Thanksgiving!! While I am going to miss cooking, laughing, and spending time with my family on this glorious holiday, I am beyond thankful that I get to spend the day with 20 of my favorite 3rd graders. There are so many blessings in life and we each have so many things to be thankful for.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is building  the paper turkey with my family. Each year we sit around our table and are given a piece of colored paper cut into the shape of a feather. We are given about 5 minutes to write down a few things we are thankful for. Once we have all written our blessings we pass them to the person sitting at the head of the table (usually my dad). He will read each feather our loud and we have to guess who wrote each feather. After each feather has been read aloud we attach them to the paper turkey’s body and hang him somewhere near our table. Sharing our blessings with one another always brings such joy to the table and many, many fun stories.

What are your Thanksgiving or holiday traditions?

 

Imagine the image below with words instead of hand prints on the feathers…
and shrink the size down a bit.

Googly eyes are a must ;)

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 8.11.02 PMThe image below could be a fun variation of our tradition!
Just edit the feathers!

This could be a fun variation of our family tradition

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Be Proud of Your Life

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What do you want to be remembered for?
When you look back, what do you want to remember?

Normally, I wait until December to begin thinking about goals and hopes for 2015. But this year I am far too excited to wait. 2015 is a blank slate and if I am being honest… I have NO idea what it is going to hold. Will we stay in Thailand or Asia? Will we jump to Europe? Will we return to America? Literally…no.idea.

But you know what? That is okay. God holds us in His hand. While I will have goals I can physically check off my list- I want to focus on goals that help me become more of who GOD created me to be. This week one quote has been on my mind.

“How you spend your time, is how you will spend your life.”

I want to look back on my life and smile. I want memories filled with love, acts of service, people, family, bravery, and the joy of Jesus. But what does that look like?

Bob Goff points out “the battle for happiness is fought on the pages of our calendars.” 

It is our choice how we fill our schedule. So in 2015, I want to cross off events that don’t matter. I don’t want to waste an hour a minute of my time doing something that does not draw me closer to the woman God created me to be. I am going to be intentional about filling my time with moments that matters.

You and I get to decide how we will spend our time. If we aren’t careful, others will decide how we spend our time for us.

“They say time is money, but that’s not true.
Time is life.
And if I want the fullest life,
I need to find fullest time
.”
Ann Voskamp

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One of my Favorite Blessings

November is one of my favorite months of the year. This month we are reminded to focus on our blessings and to be thankful. And today, I am overwhelmingly thankful for my father. If there was ever a man worthy of sharing a name with our Heavenly Father, it is my dad. Today is his birthday. If you have ever met my father, you know what an incredible man he is. He has never met a stranger. He is an incredible leader, loves unconditionally,  encourages every dream, puts others before himself, and loves the Lord with all of his heart. He truly is a blessing to everyone he meets. I could not be more thankful for the example he set for my family. He set high standards when finding my husband.

So happy birthday to one of my favorite blessings, my role model, my encourager … my dad!
I hope your day is filled with immeasurable blessings! I love you!

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{Scott Cotton Photography}

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Make Magical Moments

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“And above all,
watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you
because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don’t believe in magic
will never find it.” 

Roald Dahl

It’s officially rainy season here in Thailand which means most of our weekends are spent indoors. Over the past few weeks I have learned I should never move to Seattle- I far prefer sunshine to clouds. This past weekend the rain was nonstop. And if I am being honest, I started to get grumpy being stuck inside. But the Lord began to transform my heart.

After hours of being stuck in our home, the Lord taught me to see the rain as beautiful. God was replenishing the earth. He was clearing away the dirty and leaving behind the clean. The rain was no longer simply caging me in the house. The rain became romantic. Caleb and I turned on the song we first danced to at our wedding and made our living room our dance floor. The sound of rain on our roof became peaceful.

The Lord is teaching me to look at the world with glittering eyes. He is teaching me to notice His perfectly orchestrated magical moments and beautiful blessings. Sometimes moments of magic are disguised as everyday experiences. You must choose to look for the magic. {tweet that}

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Loy Krathong Festival

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If you love to travel and enjoy experiencing other cultures, Loy Kratong in Thailand is a holiday you must add to your bucket list. It was truly a blessing to be able to celebrate alongside our neighbors and coworkers. Last week I shared a few photos of my students dressed in their traditional Thai attire and shared that we would be making floating lanterns later in the afternoon.

My students are still quite young so they made lanterns out of paper, cardboard, flowers, and candles. They were simple and beautiful. Caleb has older students so his students made lanterns out of banana tree trunks, banana leaves, flowers, and candles. They were absolutely gorgeous!! His students were even sweet enough to make Caleb a special floating lantern. Could they be any more adorable?

We decided to celebrate the holiday by going to the old city wall.  We were completely blown away by all of the activities that were set up. Everyone in our town seemed to be there enjoying the large night market and the live music before placing their floating lantern into the river and sending their flying lantern into the sky. Truly, the night was a fairytale. We met up with our Irish and English friends and soaked in the splendor of the evening. And as if the hundreds of floating lanterns in the sky weren’t magical enough, the night came to a close with fireworks. Best Thai holiday yet.

{sorry in advance for the photo overload. and i broke my favorite lens in vietnam… so please excuse any soft images as I get used to a different lens}

{Caleb’s students who made our floating lantern}

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Thai Lantern Festival

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Today is Loy Krathong in Thailand- aka the lantern festival {like the movie Tangled, but real and glorious}. In honor of todays holiday our students are allowed to dress in true Thai fashion. And in case I didn’t find my little kiddos precious enough already, today their cuteness is intensified. Today we will spend a few hours building floating lanterns out of banana leaves, flowers, and candles. Tonight we will all go to the old wall to release our floating lanterns into the river and to the park nearby to release the flying lanterns. Our rivers will be twinkling and our sky will be glowing.

Technically, this is a Buddhist holiday. Originally celebrating Loy Krathong was supposed to bring good fortune. But today everyone participates- Buddhist or not. Loy Krathong has become  part of the Thai culture. And I could not be more thankful that this holiday fell on a Thursday. Each Thursday I get to lead our school in our morning prayer. So this morning I got to publicly thank God for sending Jesus, for saving us, and for being the only provider of all of our blessings. Hallelujah!

I cannot wait to share all of the photos that we will take throughout the day! But until then, here is a quick preview of my precious class. Can we please laugh at how serious their faces are when I ask them to smile for a photo? But the moment they think the photo is over the smiles return. Silly kids. Could they be any cuter? IMG_8058 IMG_8059

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We are Home!

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{quick iphone snap of a local tribe woman who we found ourselves hiking alongside in the Himalayas}

It’s official, we are home again! And by home I mean home in Thailand {just to clarify}. We returned home from our adventure almost a week ago and I am still mentally processing everything. The entire trip I could not stop singing praises to our Heavenly Father for creating so many beautiful places and people. Vietnam and Cambodia have completely captivated my heart in ways that I still cannot comprehend- from Wonders of the World to floating villages {literally villages where people live on boats full time}. My concept of normal will be forever changed. We met some of the most beautiful souls- young and old, wealthy and poor.

We took far too many photos & my computer doesn’t have enough space for me to upload them all onto the hard drive… {guess it is time to buy another external hard drive and take time to transfer everything}. Words cannot convey how excited I am to share these special places with you all. Let me just say, if you are ever in Asia, these two countries are a must. They will change your perspective forever.

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The Secret to Joy

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God is there in the midst of the good and the bad, the new and the old, the exciting and the mundane, moments of joy and moments of sorrow. Choose to seek Him in them all.

p.s. this is our last week traveling Asia. Hopefully next week I will begin sharing photos with all of you!! Continue following us on instagram until then!
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Beauty in the Ordinary

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I was once posed the question, “what if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked the Lord for today?”  Each day is filled with infinite blessings. Big blessings, small blessings, and all of the in between. I don’t want to take any of them for granted. Today I want to choose to look for the beauty in the ordinary.

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