In Everything Give Thanks

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

{1 Thes. 5:18}


1,001. Jessica’s words that encourage me to keep counting {A Diamond in the Rough}

1,002. surprisingly lovable llamas

1,003. trail hikes with Carmella and Chocolate Chip

1,004. a fantastic field trip with dear friends

1,005. a special visit by Great Grandma

1,006. hot tea with breakfast

1,007. introducing Great Grandma to our favorite red wagon, Lacie, at the apple orchard

1,008. slices of Sweet 16, Honeycrisp and SweetTango apples

1,009. sips of hot apple cider

1,010. fruit-seekers crunching through the fallen leaves

1,011. tree branches sagging heavy with ripe apples

1,012. little girls happily snatching apples

1,013. chasing butterflies wildly through the vineyard and orchard

1,014. the monarch that finally lets me capture it on camera

1,015. the brilliant display of fall colors in the trees

1,016. rains that rush in just before we leave the apple orchard

1,017. big hats and a fancy tea luncheon with Great Grandma

1,018. the cheery, busy squeak of our apple peeler

1,019. Great Grandma’s help with our pie baking tradition

1,020. the smell of cinnamon lofting throughout the house

1,021. Piper’s free seminar on Let the Nations Be Glad

1,022. God’s promises in the Psalms and in Isaiah

1,023. prayers and praises in the Psalms

1,024. character lessons in compassion, kindness, creativity and courage from Betsy-Tacy

1,025. little girls bubbling with excitement as they share thoughts about the book

1,026. our own little “Sand Store” of bottles full of colorful sand

1,027. a sunny autumn morning at the park with friends

1,028. another hard eucharisteo: the fall that fractures both bones in her delicate little forearm

1,029. the kind, dear friend eagerly helping so many ways — the help that comes from the Maker of Heaven and Earth

1,030. strength and peace that gets us through a traumatic Friday

1,031. words, freshly memorized in Isaiah 53, that help calm her sobs

1,031. medicine that helps manage her pain and the pastor who speaks healing Words to us

1,032. quiet moments in the hospital room, just before her surgery, watching the sun rise and the birds fly in formation and then later reading Malachi 4:2 – “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.”

1,033. the skilled hands of both surgeons and the kind, familiar face in the pre-op/recovery room

1,034. a real plaster cast for her Girls-n-Grace doll, too

1,035. Debra, Kathy and Stacey, three exceptional nurses on the pediatrics floor

1,036. peace that passes understanding while she undergoes surgery

1,037. the prayers of countless friends and family as we wait

1,038. bendable nails that help keep her bones in place

1,039. her groggy, sleepy smile after surgery

1,040. friends cheering at the curbside as she leaves the hospital — and the sweet little boy who does a “happy jog” of joy

1,041. the soft gray shawl that is just her size and keeps her arms and shoulders warm

1,042. cards and gifts and balloons and callers for the injured one

1,043. homemade soup and bread

1,044. her fearless ambition to become ambidextrous

“Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,  from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the LORD.”

{1 Chronicles 16:36}

You’re invited! Check out other bloggers’ posts in the One Thousand Gifts community by clicking the graphic below. Or click here  to check out all previous posts in my “Counting to 1,000” series.

Counting to 1,000 (869-904)

“I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.”

-Psalm 7:17

Giving thanks as my One Thousand Gifts list grows ever so close to the goal. Here are items 869 through 904:

869. giggles and silliness with “chin men” faces

870. a building to borrow for homeschool classes

871. a tiny butterfly hiding in the bright orange mums

872. teamwork within the church

873. two full days devoted to school preparations

874. the thoughtful, fun daddy who takes them on a day trip to St. Paul

875. his strong hands strumming the red guitar he built himself

876. road-tripping to Northfield with a dear friend

877. relaxing hours spent chatting and catching up with girlfriends at Goodbye Blue Monday

878. a steaming mug of Mexican hot chocolate

879. the princess picture she created for her little sister

880. ice cubes to numb a fat lip

881. frisbee fun in the backyard

882. reflections in the bird bath

883. bumblebees hiding in the hostas

884. the growing little maple tree she inadvertently planted

885. an end-of-summer teddy bear tea party

886. dear friends for my daughters

887. bear brownies

888. raindrops sparkling like jewels on the windshield

889. a bookshelf full of new books

890. bulletin boards

891. new school supplies

892. a freshly re-organized school room

893. fun geography ideas shared on Pinterest

894. the smell of hot dogs and burgers sizzling on the grill while the cicadas sing the song of summer’s end

895. hands ready to minister to a newly single parent

896. a full roster for my “Girls of Character” study

897. how gently she holds the egg that didn’t hatch

898. Jamie Grace pounding out “Hold Me” on her guitar

899. their kind, encouraging words

900. the broken dryer and piles of dirty laundry

901. the smart husband who knows how to take the dryer apart, fix it and put it back together again

902. the beautiful hummingbird that perches long at the feeder

903. the 108-minutes-and-31-seconds phone conversation with my big brother

904. my nephew’s 4 years and the sound of his sweet little voice on the other end of the phone

You’re invited! Check out other bloggers’ posts in the One Thousand Gifts community by clicking the graphic below. Or click here  to check out all previous posts in my “Counting to 1,000” series.

Look at the Birds! Part 2

Now that everyone in our family has seen more than a dozen robins in our yard, we are overdue for our annual First Robin Tea Party — a sure sign of spring in this house!

Sadly, I have not been very good about planning the minor details, such as the party date, the guest list and invitations. Maybe those are the major details! Oh dear. My brain is still in a state of thawing out from our long, harsh winter. Well anway, I have been slowly adding spring decor — mostly birds and eggs — around the house. I’ve also been stumbling across new ideas for the party itself.

New Artwork

I often admire the Christian artwork available through DaySpring, but I’m cheap when it comes to that sort of home decorating, especially when my options are limited. (Or maybe I am just too much of a control freak?) So one evening I was playing around in Photoshop Elements and decided to make my own springy artwork. Here’s what I made:

I had Mpix print it on 12 x 12-inch paper, and then I threw it in a scrapbooking frame and set it up on the bathroom shelf. I think I like it. What say you?

Menu Changes

As in years past, we plan to make mud pies with (gummy) earth worms — the recipe for those is posted here. But this year I have a new recipe for the edible bird nests. I’ll try to report back on how that works out since nobody ever ate the ones we made last year. Sigh. I also added crackers to the menu since I recently found out that Target’s version of Goldfish crackers are bird-shaped and called “Chickadees.” How fitting!

New Literature

What I am thrilled most about for this year’s party is a new picture book! The Story of the Easter Robin, written by Dandi Daley Mackall, is a beautifully illustrated tale about a little girl, her grandmother and a robin’s nest build on a window ledge at the grandmother’s house. The book also incorporates the Pennsylvania Dutch legend of the robin’s red breast — a symbol of Christ’s suffering and love — as well as the tradition of decorating eggs in the style of Pennsylvania Dutch Easter birds. I love this book so much I bought extra copies to send to my nieces!

Memory Work

One of my memory verses for last month was Psalm 91:1,4 — very fitting scriptures for our robin tea party discussion, as is the passage of Matthew 6:25-27

Over the past several months, the girls and I have memorized a new poem that fits quite nicely with our bird theme.

Little Bird

a Mother Goose rhyme

Once I saw a little bird

come hop, hop, hop.

So I cried, “Little bird,

Will you stop, stop, stop?”

And was going to the window

To say, “How do you do?”

When he shook his little tail

And far away he flew.

Of course, the best-ever poem for the first robin tea party is this one, which we all still have memorized from last year’s party. 

To the First Robin

by Louisa May Alcott

Welcome, welcome little stranger,

Fear no harm and fear no danger

We are glad to see you here,

For you sing ‘sweet spring is near.’

Now the white snow melts away,

Now the flowers blossom gay.

Come, dear bird, and build your nest

For we love our robin best.

 If I ever actually stop piddling around with minor details, set a date and invite real-live people to the party, I will take pictures and share a slide show of the celebration.

In the meantime, let’s all go get some fresh, spring air! Shall we?

Fairy Tea: Take 2


When my oldest daughter turned 6, I threw a fairy tea party for her. Evidently, she has fond memories of it because she wanted another fairy tea for her 8th birthday earlier this month.

This year’s menu was much simplier! We served mini-pizzas from Pizza Hut, baby goldfish crackers, fairy-sized carrot sticks, raspberries and blackberries, ginger peach tea, lemonade, chocolate cake, and raspberry floats.

Here are the photo highlights:

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5 Tips for a Tiny Tea Party

1. If sending out invitations, hand-written and hand-delivered adds a very special touch.

2. If eating on the patio with two dolls, two female relatives and too many mosquitoes, make it short and sweet. What’s more, be especially thankful when the mosquitoes land on your doll instead of you.

Linnea: “Ha-ha! Linn keeps tricking the mosquitoes!”

3. If serving things that your 4-year-old guest particularly likes to eat, expect to discover some unexpected food allergies.

Laurel: “My Strawberry Shortcake doll is allergic to bread, so can I eat hers? Strawberry Shortcake is allergic to vanilla wafers… Strawberry Shortcake is allergic to chocolate…”

4. If hand-washing the dishes afterward, try not to break the dishes or your sister’s heart.

Mom: Careful, Laurel! Don’t toss the dishes into the sink. They are breakable.

Linnea: And especially because it’s my tea set and I would be horrified!

5. If you are hosting, keep it simple (and spontaneous) so you can embrace the precious time with your special guests. 


Our First Robin Tea Party

To the First Robin

by Louisa May Alcott

Welcome, welcome little stranger,

Fear no harm and fear no danger.

We are glad to see you here,

For you sing, “Sweet spring is near!”

Now the white snow melts away,

Now the flowers blossom gay.

Come dear bird and build your nest,

For we love our robin best.

Last month spring arrived in the Frozen Tundra. It came early — about a month earlier than usual — and our family celebrated with a First Robin Tea Party on the last day of March. 

These teas are becoming an annual tradition around here, and we have a lot of fun with them. The only rule for our tea party is that everyone in the family must see a robin in our yard before we can have the party. (By the way, we stole this rule, and the whole tradition actually, from my aunt who also raised two girls in Minnesota.)

My daughters each invited one friend to join us. This way the party counted as lunch and two playdates! I would say we killed three birds with one stone, but that just seems disrespectful in a posting about the first robin.

Anyway, on our menu this year was an assortment of daisy sandwiches served with pretzel sticks, fresh strawberries, and cheese sticks. Laurel enjoyed a cucumber sandwich.

Linnea’s was cheese, and we also served a PB&J sandwich to one of our guests.

The day before the party, the girls and I made these edible nests using chow mein noodles mixed with melted chocolate chips and melted butterscotch chips. I forgot to include melted marshmallows, which really help the “twigs” stick together better. But these turned out pretty cute anyway, especially with the chocolate robin egg candies nestled in them.

During the party, we listened to some music — Carmen MacRae’s “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bobbin’ Along;” Joel Hansen’s “Songbird;” and “Carnival of the Animals: Aviary” by Saint-Saëns.

The best highlight of the party, though, was when the girls took turns making their own mud pies with earthworms. Here’s Laurel showing the ingredients for such a pie.

  • small graham cracker pie shells (ours were from Keebler)
  • finely crushed chocolate Teddy Grahams (the dirt)
  • milk chocolate pudding (the mud)
  • gummy worms
  • whipped cream (melting snow)

Stick the worm(s) in first and then assemble as desired for a delicious mud pie!

Prior to the party, my daughters and I read A Nest Full of Eggs, by Priscilla Beltz Jenkins, which would have been great to include during the tea party. And, incidently, we found the robin poem by Louisa May Alcott earlier this year when we read a book called Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau’s Flute, which was also a great book.

Happy spring!