Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Thanksgiving Dream Come True

Before I got married, I thought every family watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as part of their Thanksgiving traditions....because my family does. I grew up watching the parade every Thanksgiving morning and then discussing it over dinner with family who'd watched it on their own. It's always been a major part of our day.

This year, Tyler and I did not spend Thanksgiving in Florida. With the prices of flights and the limited amount of time we'd be down for... we decided to just go home for Christmas. So we were stuck with the "what to do for Thanksgiving" question. We were open and even planning on hosting athletes until pretty last minute when everyone had a place to go.

While in conversation with a softball girl, she mentioned she was going into the city for the parade. Then it hit me. We could forgo the pumpkin coffee cake and parade watching from our couch that I had planned and actually GO TO IT. After some discussion and logistical research... it was set... the Stowell's were headed to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

It was a joyous morning, early but joyous. I had a fabulous time, even amidst the crowds and in the freezing temperatures. In fact, I would do it again, hands down. It was one of the coolest things I think I've ever done. My biggest let down... that the Rockettes don't go through the parade (they must just perform in front of Macy's).

Our intimate Thanksgiving here in New Jersey was an excellent way to end (well basically end) the month of November. I thoroughly enjoyed focusing on rejoicing. gratitude, and prayer this month. I wasn't perfect but it was great to have a focal point all month... something to direct my heart towards the Truth. Another fun, adventurous, blessed month in the books.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Anthem

With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, this is on repeat today in the Stowell Home in efforts to fill my mind with Truth and move my heart towards thanksgiving to the Lord! Enjoy =)

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." - Psalm 100:4-5

Monday, November 25, 2013

10 Things I Love About New Jersey

Tyler and I have now been living in New Jersey for a! I can't believe it's already been a whole year. We unintentionally celebrated tonight over dinner with some friends we met the day we moved in, as they showed up to help us unload the truck. It was fun to recount meeting them and a year later have a growing friendship.

In honor of our year in Jersey, I thought I'd take some time to reflect and share...

10 of my favorite things about New Jersey

1. The Weather. More specifically, seasons. This Florida girl had no idea what seasons were before New Jersey. Spring and fall are beyond gorgeous here in Jersey. And I have to say, winter can also be quite beautiful! Summer....reminds me too much of Florida with it's heat and humidity to be noteworthy. ;-)

2. Rutgers Athletes in Action. We walked right into a community of student athletes, coaches, and fellow AIA staff who are fabulous. It's a movement where God is evident and the Gospel is center.

3. Proximity to....just about everything. New Jersey's location is prime! Since living here, we have ventured to several surrounding places, with ease! [Philadelphia, New York, The Pocono's, and quaint spots within New Jersey] 

4. Princeton, New Jersey. The town is my favorite place to spend time! It's quaint, old, and has some really unique shops and restaurants. Anybody who knows me here, knows I love Princeton. 

5. People are surprisingly not rude. When many people, at least those I know in Florida, think of New Jersians, they think of rude folks. I have found that is just not true! The stereotype is incorrect folks. During our year here, I have had many friendly conversations with people in stores, lines, and restaurants. Although I will say, the common "smile as you pass" trend that I was familiar with growing up, isn't reciprocated here.

6. Food. Food is big deal here in New Jersey. Diners can be found on almost every street, Italian restaurants are commonplace, and "hole in the wall" joints have food that far surpasses their storefronts. 

7. Jacob's Well. Our church here in New Jersey has quickly become a place where we feel at home. We have many friendships within the community of people at Jacob's Well and it's a place where we often bring others! Any place with a good church community, is a good place.

8. Not only is New Jersey close to big cities, but it is also The Garden State, which means it offers rural fun such as apple picking (on next fall's bucket list), fresh markets, and bangin' produce!

9. There is rich family history here for me. My grandfather was born here and for generations before him, my ancestors dwelled and even fought in battles on New Jersey soil.

10. And last but certainly not least.... WE DON'T PUMP OUR GAS! It's a glorious luxury, especially in freezing winter temps. I am oh so grateful for the gentlemen who suffer for me.

And there you have it. Broken down. It's true. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Choosing Gratitude

This month, to stick with the theme of thankfulness and gratitude, I am reading and going through the 30 day devotional by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Gratitude.

I have enjoyed being more disciplined in the area of reading-- I feel accomplished and enlightened with each book I read! This book has given me a fresh perspective on having an attitude of gratitude and that it is indeed a choice. I'm not too far along, but even practically speaking, the devotional required me to make a list of things I'm grateful God has given me and things others have given me.... I could've been writing all day! The Bible is clear on where good things come from-- "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." - James 1:17 and God sure has been good to me, in many many ways. Although I can find myself complaining or lusting after the things others have, this month as I focus on rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in all circumstances [1 Thessalonians 5:18-19] I am finding my heart is filled with peace and my heart is humbled.

How is the Thanksgiving season going for you in regards to giving thanks and expressing gratitude?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rejoice, Pray, & Give Thanks

The Bible is clear on many things. One being how often we should rejoice, pray, and give thanks. November tends to, and understandably so, be a month focused on gratitude. And I'm all for it. But I'd like to personally take it a step further. 

This passage will be the meditation of my heart as I seek to rejoice (feel or show great joy or delight), pray, and give thanks-- no matter what. It WILL be challenging. And I will not be perfect. I probably won't even come close to perfect. But it's my goal, what I will aim for this month. All by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Want to join me? I'd love to know that you also are committing to rejoice, pray, and give thanks thoughtfully throughout the month of November!