11.30.2011

Giving Thanks Conclusion & Random Musings



Remember that you are en route to heaven,
and let your problems fade in the Light of eternity.
~Sarah Young in Jesus Calling



     Well, here it is the last day of November. Another day crossed off from the calendar of my life.
It seems I was just planning all my intentions for the past year and whoosh the year is almost to a close. I know we have the holidays and much merriness ahead and I also am ecstatic, as we are finally heading out to get our Christmas Tree tonight. Yet, I am mourning the passing of another year. Why? Honestly the start of another year fills me with hope and apprehension. This last year has brought many trials, and I am starting to realize as I get older that the trials are not less. They seem to be increasing. Yet, what I also notice is that in all of this turmoil, there is a solid center of peace. Could it be that even I am acquiring the "quiet spirit" that is mentioned in scripture:

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. 
(2 Peter 3:4). 


A girl can hope, right?

Today, I am concluding my "Giving Thanks Challenge" with a big thank you to Leah at South Breeze Farm. I know everyone did a slightly different take on this challenge but I tried to write daily and it has been such a wonderful experience. I hope to join in next year! Thanks, again Leah for hosting!



http://southbreezefarm.blogspot.com/

I also will say I had so many more thanksgivings than could fit here in one month! Two of those are very special posts I want to mention because and I will be writing about my Pastor and his wife, and also the ministry of Moms In Touch and the Retreat which I was grateful to attend this year. I am blessed and grateful for each of these, but have to write as I am led and often when I sit down with a plan to write something, God leads me someplace I did not intend to go! But it is all good- and I will get to these and share the blessings with you soon!


I want to thank Jenny Penton for helping to kick off my Inspiring Women series with the FREE giveaway
and her vision for women and planning. I will be drawing the winner Friday! It's not too late to enter - just click here and leave a comment - after you read the fabulous post by Jenny, of course!  


Last night after having been contemplating this quote that has been making the rounds on the internet,
 I decided to get crafty about it! Here are the results:


On the scrap table!
On the fridge





Because you REALLY want to know, this is the most overplayed Christmas CD I own
Yes, it is playing now! 




 I am trying to read "The Old Man and The Sea" by Ernest Hemingway. A short read, indeed, yet when my head finally hits the pillow lately, this jobless wonder is exhausted! Go figure! 

And now I want to share the beauty I have chased and tried to capture this week!

The sky, which I consider the great canvas of God, has been quite spectacular! 
Or as some old friends used to say, "And now here's something we hope you you'll really like."
I can guess your age, if you recognize this line from a famous cartoon.


Monday night the sky was ablaze with color!
I caught these at the Marina near my house
 ( I was on my way to the market and derailed to chase the sky- life is short, friends!)











Yesterday's walk 








 These waves were rockin' the shoreline today!









Let me ask you this question, did you see anything beautiful today? 
Beauty is everywhere in nature and it refreshes the mind and awakens the senses-
Look around! 








11.28.2011

Jenny Penton on Planning and Purpose + E-Book Giveaway! (Inspiring Women Series)




This month I am kicking off a monthly series called "Inspiring Women" and I am very excited about the wonderful women who will be sharing here at my little place in the Blogosphere! 
My first inspiring Guest is Jenny Penton and I am so excited she is here because I love her vision for women as well as her inspiring posts! 
So, because I have asked her to give us a BIG portion, Real Life Tips and lots of inspiration to take us into the New Year, let's get started! Oh, and be sure to enter at the end to win a free ebook, which Jenny has offered for one lucky winner! 
Here's Jenny!


Hello! I'm Jenny Penton, author of the Planner Perfect, blog. I am a homeschooling mama of seven and have created the Planner Perfect, planner, to not only get women organized, but become visionaries and dreamers for their life; therefore creating a life on purpose.

I'm excited to share with you some insights on getting organized and what this Planner Perfect and its method is all about. And with the holidays already here; with a blink of an eye, it will be New Years. We need a plan!

Thank you, Dawn for asking me to share!

As women, we are always trying to stay organized. And if you're a mother--you know exactly what I mean. Being organized and staying that way is not easy. I've come to know a lot of different women and how they plan. Take a look at some of these planning types:


The Task Manager Girl: Task manager girls love the tote-and-go planners. They work for a little while, but soon will find it unfulfilling. It gets boring just following just our mundane tasks in life. 







The Post-it Note Lady: The post-it note lady. We can see how this isn't effective! Sticky notes stuck everywhere to remember things we must do, only to neglect the whole woman.








Calendar Girls: There are some who live by just a calendar and fill it all up until every square of their life is full. This is stressful!







List Lovers: Lists a mile long of all and only their to-dos...and then forget where they put them.







Do any of these describe you? 

Well, you're not alone and do you know why these tools for organization never seem to work for long? Because we are created for much more than following mundane tasks and activities. Think about that for a moment... 

We are meant to live for so much more!

If you are a mother, I don't mean that our mothering is not fulfilling in its own right, because it most definitely, is; and to survive, we make lists, run by our tasks and try to be super moms as best we can. What I'm talking about is taking, not only taking our motherhood to the next level, but our lives!

We should be organized, invigorated by our personal goals and dreams, and living life to the fullest. I am a homeschooling mother of 7 children and tasks could actually swallow me whole if I allowed it and let my days pull me around (and sometimes they do if I'm not in balance with my plans). We were meant for more and if we don't take the time to slow down and script our lives we vision...we will always be unsatisfied. This will hinder our ability to be good wives, and mothers by feeling exhausted, pulled around all day and unfulfilled.

Planner Perfect isn't just a planner but an idea. A fresh idea, on organizing your life! It is a tool and method that harnesses everyday basics of life, to our personal dreams and goals. Being a Planner Perfect, gal, means you are a life planner. You are living life, using your strengths and talents, setting monthly goals for you and your family, you are being stretched, personally--which means you are being pulled out of your comfort zone by the personal goals you set for yourself, and you are not just a dreamer, but a dreamer who takes action!



I've taken note of 3 different things I do in my day that create amazing results! When applied, I am in a fabulous mood, have cleanliness, order, and spiritual and mental renewal. Planner Perfect is set-up to keep me on top of my game by harnessing these pinnacle epiphanies in the days when I need them. Written statements of intent create personal growth...and  I need to make these 3 disciplines, habitual...as I have the propensity for scratching my planned days to blog with my pajamas on 'till noon. Of course, I have regret once I look at the aftermath of my neglect... messy dishes scattered throughout the kitchen from children helping themselves to breakfast, blaring music booming through speakers of an upstairs bedroom, and smaller children blissfully making snow angels out of packing peanuts on my living room floor. Where did they find these?

Was pursuing my interests at the expense of chaos worth it? Hardly. No matter what keeps you off track... heed these disciplines and make them a habit because these are 3 habits all Planner Perfect women must keep!

Get up before your children. If I can get some coffee in my system before my 2-year tells me his plans for the morning, I'm starting off well. It is important for moms to have alone time and it is important to plan for it. Also, as you all know, being a mother means you need to always adjust, as things usually never go as planned. Have a plan B such as planning the time for yourself at night when children are asleep.
My initial plan is to have my devotions, look over my planner, and have some coffee in the morning before all seven children come down and hit the ground running. Get it written down, your statement of intent for the day...it's what sets apart the truly organized and the, not-so-much...


Plan a morning routine and stick to it! Make breakfast, take out the clean dishes out of the dishwasher, and clean up breakfast dishes...don't forget to recruit your children to help if and when they can. The kitchen is the main hub of the home, keep this room functioning at it's best and it will keep you feeling organized. Get dressed, make beds, and whatever else you want your family to get done in the morning. Make it a team effort and write these morning routines in your planner to show you're serious. You're half-way there when you write it down. Planner Perfect, harness life plans, beautifully and keeps you organized... it's all in the details.  


Plan time in your day for your interests. Do you ever have that stressed out feeling in your busy days that you'll never get to that project you're working on? Feel that stress no more! When you plan your time slot for yourself...you know it is a saved slot just for you. Depending on where you put it in your day...you could plan to have it out at a coffee shop and arrange babysitting, you can dive in at home and have your kids watch their favorite movie (just make sure they don't find a box of packing peanuts!), or wait until evening when they are in bed. Whatever energizes you, however you want to achieve it, you won't be able to without a plan. Plan out in detail not just when in the day you'll get it done, but how.

There you have it! 3 fundamental habits Planner Perfect women must keep. But remember, sometimes plans are to be broken and scratching all your plans will be just the right thing to do. Movie watching in the morning with hugs and kisses with your little ones or a special time with your teen just talking amidst a messy home trumps any plans you've made. Don't be rigid with your own plans you've set; remember to be flexible if need be. If you are keeping to it most of the time, you will be set-up for success in your days.


For this week only, you can enter to win Planner Perfect's eBook!
It takes you step-by-step on how to become a master at managing your home using the Planner Perfect Method, other goodies include: how to plan a party, how to be organized with your menu plans, how to plan for your Christmas and other holidays, and much, much, more!  You will also learn how to create your very own life planner. This 40 page plus eBook will inspire you!


Here's how to enter:

Leave a comment telling us why you'd like to win Planner Perfect's eBook.

For a double entry:

Follow Planner Perfect on Google Friend Connect, Facebook, Twitter, or Subscribe by Rss. and leave a comment on Dawn's blog letting her know you did.

That's it!

Contest will close at Midnight Friday. Entries will be drawn at random and Dawn will announce the Planner Perfect eBook winner!

Blessings,
Jenny

www.plannerperfect.com


Jenny Penton www.plannerperfect.com Follow Planner Perfect on Twitter Follow Planner Perfect on Facebook www.plannerperfectmeals.com Follow PPM on Facebook www.homeschoolingbelle.com Follow HB on Facebook

11.27.2011

Inspiring Women Series Announcement

                                   

 Did you say "Inspiring Women"?
Wow! I can't wait to spread the news!
Tomorrow! Tomorrow? Yes, Tomorrow!


Dear Friends, I am excited to announce this next series which I will be launching "officially" tomorrow!
I am squirming in my seat, as tomorrow's guest has already submitted her post and I am chomping a bit at the BIT to share it with you! I am overjoyed at this next direction in my Bloggy Experience and hope that it will bless, encourage and inspire you! Each month I am inviting one special guest to write a post, be interviewed or share a special something of their own unique portion for my friends here at Beneath The Surface: Breath of Faith. I have diverse interests and I greatly enjoy the unique way God gifts each person and love to learn, share and hear about various perspectives from other women, especially those who truly inspire me. 

So stop by tomorrow for a very special Guest Post by an inspirational lady
 (who definitely INSPIRES ME!) who will share how you can think BIG for the New Year AND through the Holidays!
Do you want to catch a fresh vision for your life and be inspired for the season AND beyond?
Then stop back tomorrow for my first Guest in my Inspiring Women Series!

Shhh! It's a SURPRISE! 

Oh - AND I will also be having my very first FREE GIVEAWAY! 
Hooray!


I pray you have all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and are continuing into the holidays with gratitude, peace and joy!


I am thankful today for the many women God has brought into my life, who have challenged, shaped, encouraged, inspired, molded, and impacted me in the ways that continue to influence me!

Thank you Lord for each of these:

Grandmother's -unfailing love and faithfulness
Mother's -sensitivity and compassion
 Great Auntie Pep's- humor and easygoing nature
 Rita's (Step Mom)- gracious heart, patience and thoughtfulness
 Aunt Mona's Chili con Carne- (It is my one awesome dish!), and many happy memories & visits
Cousin Dionne & Maria- for the sweet childhood memories
 "Cousin" Penny -who was my childhood hero and role model, 
I so looked up to her and I always wanted her long red hair!
 "Aunt" Susan's sacrificial sitting by the pool and making my Summers special
Grandma L 's thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity. 
Joyce L - The vision to help others still remains - you are my memory of what that looks like,
even though you  probably wouldn't recall this troubled teen who you tried to reach out to! 
Elaine- A boss who made it personal, and made a difference
Mama Sharon - Wit, intelligence, friendship, business savvy, sacrificial giving - and a "fox"!
what didn't she show or teach me? 
Do-Do - My love for classical music came from you, 
and you modeled well how to grow older with style and punch!
Philly- supported me in all, professionally and personally
Sandy O - A model of excellence, wisdom, grace, strength and beauty
Sharon T - The gift of time and listening she shared, one on one early mornings over coffee
Karen B- always positive, uplifting, encouraging and REAL!
Lori R - always supporting my motherhood, her smile, wisdom and tenacity are a blessing
Ruth G- Her laugh, smile, hospitality, gracious example and heart are such a gift to me, if I ever do grow up I want to be just like her!

I could keep going (this list is NOT all inclusive!) and I am sure you could list the ways you have been blessed by the prayers, input and investment of others IN YOU!
Make your own list, I promise, God will remind you of your own many blessings...

11.26.2011

What God Knows




The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
~ Deuteronomy 29:29


God knows what others don't-
they think they understand,
but my God knows the secret things,
that have been done to me by man.

His eyes
search and roam about the earth
Not a thing escapes His sight,
So I keep my hidden things-
close to me
broken and contrite.

My pain and shame remind me,
of that which I forget,
and in the darkest moments
call to mind my regrets.

Each choice and path did lead me,
further down a road,
although I did not know the way,
and I carried a heavy load.

I ran, I did-
escaping,
 pain that would not depart-
I ran as fast and hard as I could
but could not escape my own heart.

Soiled it felt, soiled it was.
Stained, bruised and scarred.
Until it finally dawned on me- 
You can't run from who you are.

I have come to know Him,
this God who knows it all.
The hidden things, the secret things
the darkness behind the fall.

He does not excuse, or rationalize 
these evils done by man,
He does not turn His back on sin,
because He has a plan.

He sees the things you do not know,
although you try to judge-
a person based on what you see,
without an ounce of love.

What God knows,
you do not know-
be careful what you say.

You're limited, 
in what you know, and hindered by your sight.
Would you rather judge
or bring 
others to the Light?

So fragile, each heart-
be careful not to betray-

be gentle, so gentle
let compassion be displayed,

His eye is on the sparrow
His love will make the way. 

What God knows,
you don't know.

To have His mind, to have His heart...

compassion is displayed.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
   neither are your ways my ways,
            declares the LORD. 
 As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
   so are my ways higher than your ways 
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9


What I know about my God is that He gives beauty for ashes,
and strength for fears, gladness for mourning and peace for despair.
(A little Crystal Lewis in the mix from Isaiah 61:1-3
Today, I praise the name of Jesus, who brings freedom to the captives, release from darkness AND a crown of beauty to the Glory of God the Father. Amen and Hallelujah!

I am Thankful for This God.
Do you know Him?
Do you believe in Him? 





It's been awhile AND I am late BUT, felt like sharing some Crystal- I wanted Beauty For Ashes but could not find a quality version to share! But I love this one as well! Linking up with Amy @ Signs, Miracles and Wonders



11.25.2011

The Three Trees: A Fable about Gratitude



Gandown, Tribec and Stenwed


If you do not believe in tall tales, do not read further, for this, dear friend, is one.

The three trees stood together, rooted down, secure in the life they shared at the small town's only park. Each had seen a good number of years, although they expected a good many more. There was no reason they should expect otherwise. Each had come to be planted at the wish of a human who wanted to give honor to a loved one. Each one came to stand in time by one another, planted in their own season, although chosen to stand as a reminder of the life of another whom they did not know. Each one of the trees started small but had grown and they did vary in size. Each had a heart of its own, which took hold in the place it was, rooted, firm and beautiful. Each was cared for and given enough nourishment and attention to grow, reaching the fullest possible height, stature and breadth it was meant to be. Yet, within each heart of each tree, there was a remnant of the heart of the one who had been memorialized. 

The first tree was called Gandown, and he himself was most stout. He enjoyed many things about his life at the park, especially the laughing children...from a distance. But Gandown also fancied himself more than others. He especially was ungrateful for the details of his existence. Often, he would ponder the many things that he believed would make his life better and more satisfying as a stout tree. He believed he should live among the many, stout trees further away, in the deep wood. He did not feel grateful for the place he stood within the park. Sometimes he was annoyed with the company he was placed in, and felt trapped by their presence. But what was a tree to do? He could not uproot himself from the place he had been planted. For this is the lesson, all trees must come to understand. They each must grow, exactly where the Planter plants them. For it is not for trees to decide. These things are quite out of their limbs reach, and a bit lofty to grasp. 

The tallest of the three trees was Stenwed. A more beautiful evergreen, one would be hard-pressed to find. Tall, beautiful and perfectly shaped; she longed to enjoy the breezes that caused her to bend and sway. Instead she felt distracted from joy by the subtle discontentment which gnawed at her branches. Stenwed was always longing for more, never satisfied and was blind to the beauty which surrounded the three trees. The desire for perfection had clouded her ability to ever enjoy that which was available in the present moment. 

Between Gandown and Stenwed, stood little Tribec. Tribec was small and sometimes overlooked in conversation. Standing between the two larger trees, he learned to be an excellent listener. Tribec observed all that went on in the tiny park. He never missed a detail. He quietly listened, observed and enjoyed the sights as he took in the various interactions between the people and animals, that took place in the public park. He felt content and grateful, even though he was overlooked and sometimes only "tolerated" by the other trees. He loved when the birds used him for shelter and he always tried to spread and stretch his branches to accommodate them. Especially when Gandown and Stenwed would complain about "those pesky freeloading critters". Tribec loved his Planter. He knew that He was loved and cared for by the gentle steward who tended him day by day,  month after month, year after year. The Planter always spoke gentle, soothing words of encouragement to Tribec. Tribec looked forward to the times when the Planter would visit, as these were special times of refreshment for him. He would feel sad for Gandown and Stenwed because they just did not seem to appreciate their own Planters. He hated when they grumbled and complained.  He would focus extra hard on a child laughing on the swing during these times, so as not to hear all the bad things. He would offer a word of encouragement but more often than not, they would not hear him. They had stopped hearing anything wise many years before, as they only listened to one another. 

One year the three trees observed their three Planters talking at the entrance of the park.
The trees murmered among themselves and wondered what was being spoken. They watched as the three Planters shook hands, and all but one of them remained. Tribec's Planter went back to his car, and returned with a shovel and an axe. The Planter then walked toward the three trees. He then stood before each one and seemed to be in deep thought, as if he was listening to another voice that only he could hear. Gandown and Stenwed felt fearful. Tribec was calm and inwardly smiling. He felt no fear because He knew his Planter. He watched the Planter with complete trust and expectancy. He knew the Planter was trustworthy. He was, however, curious, as the Planter seemed most interested in the other trees and was thoughtfully stroking his chin as he circled Gandown and Stenwed. Finally, the Planter knelt before Tribec. He tended to him as he always did, pulling up a weed here and there, dragging his fingers in the dirt surrounding Tribec's base, speaking gently and reassuringly to the littlest tree. Tribec felt sad, but understood. The Planter had prepared him for what was to come next. Then the Planter stood, and after saying something about "a shame", took the axe to the trunk of Gandown and then Stenwed. All that remained of them were two stumps. Tribec stood alone, now, unsure of what would be next. The next thing the Planter did surprised the little tree most of all. He took from his car a basket, and sat beside the littlest tree in the park, reclined himself and dined. As Tribec was enjoying the presence of the Planter, a child approached them and asked about the cut trees. The Planter explained about a terrible tree disease that had come upon the trees, and how they needed to be cut down so that the littlest tree, still remaining would not also be infected. The child, satisfied with this answer, smiled and ran off to join the others on the playground. Tribec, still stands and enjoys the pleasure of his time with the Planter, who regularly picnics at his side. 


The moral of the story is beware of the deadliest diseases of Discontent, Dissatisfaction and Ingratitude.


Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 7:19


*This is a completely fictitious story and no part of it represents anyone, tree or person in any way, at all, with all due respect. Thank you.






11.24.2011

A Year With Jesus: Book Review

The book you want to give AND keep for yourself for the New Year!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! This time of year is such a wonderful time for me. Regardless of what has happened during the year, I start to hunker down and count my blessings as I prepare, with my family, for the season of good will towards men, great tidings of comfort and joy, and the wonder of all wonders, the miraculous birth of the baby Savior who came in a manger. So, it seemed like the perfect time for me to share with you a book that you will want to have for the season and beyond, as you begin (or finish - you organized planning types) your Christmas and holiday shopping. Although, I might add, this book would be a perfect gift for any friend or family member you want to know Jesus better in a very tangible, approachable manner- at any time of the year.

In "A Year with Jesus: Daily Readings On Jesus' Own Words", R.P. Nettelhorst delivers a book that is both devotional in style and rich in context. It is a perfect book by design for a daily quiet time with reflection. Some devotionals can be to light and fluffy for my taste. There is enough "meat" and depth here to ponder, as well as springboard some further research for inquisitive minds. Since I am pretty fussy when it comes to devotionals, I hesitate to commit to most. There has to be something almost intangible to put into words to inspire me to commit to someone else's thoughts and conclusions about my Savior in a devotional format. Nettelhorst won me over by delivering what I like to say is a "well turned out word", a variety of scriptural translations for the diversity my palate desires and enough depth to satisfy my appetite.
Sounds a bit like Thanksgiving dinner!

This book opens with a William Barclay quote, " Jesus is not a figure in a book; He is a living presence."
That reflects nicely the flavor of this title. This book is set up as a an undated daily read, so you can begin any time. This is nice for those who favor reading in a less structured manner such as: every other day, weekly or jumping around based on their topical interest. The book is sectioned off further into ten parts with the following titles: Love and Hate, Truths and Lies, Arrogance and Humility, Friends and Enemies, Belief and Disbelief, Patience and Impatience, Deserved and Undeserved, Good and Evil, Fidelity and Treachery, Life and Death. In each reading there is a scriptural passage from various translations of the Bible. I really appreciate that each reading included a different translation as I often will compare with a Comparative Study Bible or by an online source myself. As the title states, these are the words of Jesus, which means the readings themselves are from the New Testament. I remember when I was a New Believer, a wise woman gave me this advice: "No matter what else you read or do, make sure to read Jesus' words every day." She was earnest in her appeal, and a believer in the faith for many years, wanting to impart some spiritual gift to me with her sage like directive. I came to realize after many years how valuable this advice truly is. Nettelhorst addresses the "why" well in Day 212. "After Jesus healed the first Blind man, people were amazed. After the hundredth, it probably didn't feel so remarkable anymore. How many demon expulsions happened before the disciples started yawning?" and  "It is easy for us to grow so familiar with Jesus that we lose sight of how marvelous He is. Every day, lives are saved, homes restored, sins forgiven, relationships mended. One person's miracle is much like another. The blessings of God surround us. Don't lose sight of them!" Yes, I have a lot of pen marks and highlights as I scoured for quotable worthy quotes. Nettelhorst stands before us as scholar, sharing some specific historical detail that enriches the readings. He also comes alongside us, as encouraging coach, reminding us to fight the good fight and keep our eyes on the prize! He stands beside us as friend, in conversation with us and the words of Jesus, sharing light and truth with timely wisdom - Just like my wise friend, did back in the early days of my walk with my Lord. The last page concludes with two quotes: The first by W.H. Griffith Thomas, "Christ's words are of permanent value because of His person; they endure because He endures." and the second by the writer of  Hebrews, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." My conclusion is, that this book is a valuable, useful resource and supplement for your personal, ministry or family devotional time.
The one downside of reading this book for me was the hurry to review! This is a book to be savored slowly.
So my gift of advice to you is, buy it for yourself, or for a friend, or both. What better gift for the season!
Please let me know if I gave you enough information to make a decision about this book, or feedback on how I can be a better reviewer for you! Thank you, friends!


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.



Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

I am thankful today for being able to partake in the receiving of free books for the purpose of review with the wonderful Booksneeze program.

I review for BookSneeze®

11.23.2011

The Gift of Laughter


The whimsical artwork of Mary Engelbreit-another favorite artist of mine!


 A cheerful heart is good medicine, 

   but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22


Last night I had the most wonderful time of laughter with my daughter.
My hubby was working until late as he often does, which meant it was a girl's night.
No school the next day for my sweet girl, so some fun was definitely in order. 
I was grateful for the fact that we were able to laugh so hard together.
I had tears in my eyes. It was just complete abandon to the moment. 
A really random comment after two rounds of the game Trouble set it off. 
Our dog Banjo and we two girls
 were sprawled out on our King sized bed. That's when it happened, Banjo was gnawing on various parts of his body as dogs sometimes will do. Not unusual but somehow, tonight that seemed funny. I am sure we bordered on what could only be described as mild "potty humor"; but our funny bones had been tickled and there was no turning back. When we were calm again after the fits of laughter and silly comments, we just lay together quietly smiling and snuggling. She said, 
"We haven't laughed that hard in a long time". 
"You're right", I replied, enjoying the closeness. Our beloved Banjo is none the wiser. At the end of the night, my tween girl, snuggled into her own bed and held out her arms, "Can I have a hug?". 
As if there should ever be such a question. 

So today with a cheerful heart, I give thanks to God for the gift of laughter.

How it heals, binds up and brings closeness.
I am sure my Jesus did not hold back from laughing with children and adults.


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17