It’s not how much you give, It’s how much love you put into it!

What are the most cherished gifts you have ever received?

For me that list is easy.  They are the most thought-filled gifts and probably some of the least expensive ones I’ve been given.

  1.  There is the Christmas stocking my parents purchased for me when I was four months old because they could not afford any other gifts.
  2.  There is the memory of the first gift my husband ever purchased for me, after hearing about a song I loved.   (This is years before instant downloads, so he visited every music store possible looking for that tape and finally had to ask if a store had it.)  …It had just come in and had to be unpacked and priced before they could sell it to him.
  3.  Then there’s a special collection of Hallmark tree ornaments, that remind my husband and I of a special memory from our dating years.  In order to purchase all four of them, he had to go to the mall every week for a month…

Expat Christmas TreeThis year I am especially inspired by two expat families who are determined to make Christmas memories for their children in spite of the land that we live in.  For little cost, they have created memories that their family will cherish for years to come:

One named a plant Mohammed, created their own decorations, and turned that plant into their Christmas tree last year.   Their kids liked it so much that this year when they had the option of a more traditional tree, they wanted Mohammed!

What has CHANGE taught you this year?

This time last year we had just said yes to our first expat adventure.  We were facing massive unknowns, planning for the transition that this change would bring and choosing our attitudes.

This year as I reflected on that season in our lives the thoughts and feelings came back in a flood.  In order to fully share that experience I have to take you back in time…

5 Reasons Thankfulness is more than Child’s Play

5 Reasons Thanksgiving is More Than Child's Play iStock_000027703277XSmall

Although it sounds like something that small children can do, it takes a clear vision of the value of gratitude and a strong mind to practice thankfulness.

Below are 5 powerful reasons for adults and children to practice thanksgiving:

  1. It focuses us on what we have instead of what we don’t.
  2. It frees us from the illusion that we need to be in control to be happy.
  3. It takes our focus off of ourselves and places it on others.
  4. It reflects light like a beacon to dark places in individuals and in our world.
  5. It drives out pride and depression.

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff.  Max Lucado

Rapt AWE! The spark that ingites the fire and engages others

October was a tough month.

Rapt Awe
  • I came down with a bad cold/flu and was sick for two weeks.  During which time I spent way too much time watching news about the brokenness of the government in the country I love and call home.
  • I also spent too much time thinking about the fact that I’ve been in this new land six months and wondering “now what?”
  • (Note to self and to the world – it is never a good idea to do a lot of reflection when you are sick, tired, and run-down!)

As soon as I felt well enough to get out of the house I said yes to everyone I had been saying no to while I was sick.  And although I was thrilled to see them, I tried to do too much too soon.

iStock_000019482062XSmallThe good news is that October ended better than it started.

  • A book that we read for book club fueled deep reflection, a passionate debate and further dialog.
  • As soon as the posts on fear went live on Monday I felt lighter.
  • I spent this week doing a variety of things that challenged and fueled my heart, my soul, and my mind.

And I came home today feeling so thankful.  As always, I turned on the music that would reflect my heart and speak to me.  And then sat down to write.  As I looked through interviews I’ve done and thoughts I’ve been noting, I stumbled across this quote from Einstein.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.