The week began with one final flurry of church Christmas events.
We had Sunday morning service and an evening dinner/outreach at our church,
and then a Monday evening dinner/outreach and service at the church my oldest daughter and her husband pastor.
(Our church planted that church almost three years ago.)
After the dinner on Monday, we drove through the dark, foggy evening, 80 miles west,
up and over Oregon's coastal mountain range to the sea.
There our second born daughter and her family were waiting at the rented beach condominium where we would spend the rest of Christmas week.
The next morning we woke up by the sea with blue skies, mild temperatures and no wind.
Good weather like this is a blessing anytime on the Oregon coast,
but at December's end, I'd say it verges on the miraculous.
At first I wasn't quite sure how I felt about being away from home for Christmas...
I do like having Christmas in my own little nest.
I like making Christmas dinner in my own kitchen
and I like serving it on a beautifully set table.
But sometimes, God knows what we need better than we do...
(well, not sometimes, all the time!)
And a laid back Christmas by the sea was just exactly what I, (and I think all of us), needed.
With my youngest daughter and our nephew there for Christmas day,
we had 8 people in that small two bedroom condo.
We managed to cook the same Christmas dinner we have every year at home,
in spite of the small apartment size oven.
And we enjoyed it every bit as much on paper plates as we do at home on the Christmas china!
And then, Christmas day ended like this...
and I kind of wanted to give God a standing ovation.
Yes, I'd say God knows exactly what He's doing,
and exactly what we need, when we need it.
In 2012 I followed the prompts in Ann Voskamp's Joy Dare in counting my thanks.
In 2013 I'm going back to the way I did it in the beginning,
just noticing and recording the many extraordinary blessings in my ordinary life.
And so I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little black journal.
(and capturing some of them via my camera or iPhone)
-the two youngest granddaughter's in their matching sparkly gold tu-tu skirts
-a full house at Hope City's Christmas Eve-Eve dinner
-the people from Truelife Church that showed up to help at Hope City
-a safe drive to Seaside
-sunshine at the beach
-safe travels for our oldest daughter and her family to her in-law's house for Christmas
and for our youngest daughter and nephew to join us at the beach
-letting the Hubs open his present early...I actually surprised him and he loves his gift!
-thank You God for sending Jesus!
-having more than enough
-our traditional Christmas dinner in a different place
-a beach walk at sunset with my youngest daughter
-another stunningly beautiful day
-walking with the Hubs
-a new knit hat that was 50% off, then another $5 off with a coupon, so it only cost me $4.99!
-relaxing with the Hubs at the condo while my daughter and her family went to the movies
-watching the Downton Abbey and Call the Midwives Christmas specials
-our youngest daughter's safe trip back to Portland
-gray skies, but still no rain or wind on my walk
-a seafood lunch at a favorite spot
-taking another walk on the beach, getting to see the sun set and the Christmas lights in town go on
-only grandson and Papa watching the Washington Huskie's football game together
-safe travels home
-making healthy homemade chicken soup after a week of rich food
-putting away the Christmas decor and enjoying a "clean slate" for the coming new year
-an awesome church service on the last Sunday in 2013
-lunch with a friend that I haven't done anything with in a long time
-hanging up my new breadboard that my son-in-law made me for Christmas
Join the community of gratitude gatherers here...