Community Brew / Vol. 4 / Gratitude

Friends I am so excited about this month's Community Brew topic. Madison and I have so deeply enjoyed getting to know each of you and hosting this link up. It truly is a joy for both of us. I feel as if thanksgiving and gratefulness have been two things the Lord has been teaching me for several months lately and I am eager to share some thoughts with you today. 

First, we want you to meet our co host this month, Martha Kate of Seasons with the Strattons. Love Martha Kate, and fun fact, we both went to the same college and even had a super fun English class together in which we sat by each other and loved every minute of the super boring class...remember that MK? Meet Martha Kate!

Seasons with the Strattons is a lifestyle blog focused on bringing Glory to God while living out the Minor League Baseball lifestyle.  You will find stories from my adventure of being a Minor League wife, recipes, home projects, and faith posts.  Mostly, Seasons with the Strattons is a creative outlet for me to share glimpses of our life and the way God uses it. 

The rules for the link up are the same as they have been...
1. Follow your hosts and co hosts
2. Comment on at least 2 other blogs
3. Share your heart on the topic we provide for the month!

So gratitude. Where do I even begin. I feel as if lately the Lord has pressed the slow motion button on my life, and been patiently showing me how to slow down and notice the smallest moments in my days. It has been so easy for me to just blaze a trail every day full speed ahead ready to tackle anything and everything in my way. I hit the pillow at night wiped out emotionally, physically, and mentally...I am so empty. Yet, I arise the next morning with the same goal...get everything done as quickly as possible. 
I fly through my days and fail to notice the beauty of sun rays pouring in through the bedroom. Or the way that it seems like magic to smell bread baking that has taken three days to get prepared for the oven. Gratitude means so much more than saying thanks for physical items. or the big things in life. In fact, I feel as if I am seeing in my own life that I simply cannot be truly grateful for the big things if I do not have the ability to express thankfulness for the small things. 

So now I name things. I take time daily to write in my journal, take pictures or document things in my phone and count the little moments, and speak them. If I do not speak my joy, awe, and thankfulness for the yellow leaves falling life gold to the ground, I will forget and blaze my selfish trail without stopping. 

Here are a few things on my list from the past few weeks. 

Homemade whipped cream
Movies that make me cry
projects using my hands alongside my husband
Wind that whips my hair 
relaxing days that end with naps on the couch
lunch with friends that is not awkward
the beauty of onions becoming caramelized
sourdough does it become bread?! Magic!
Air that is easy to breath and cool on your skin
muscadine wine that reminds me of summer
baby messes and drool
I love these lists. Some people may think they are silly, or shallow, but they mean so much to me. They truly do teach me how to practice gratitude. They remind me of moments I would normally storm on by and forget before they are even over. They remind me to rejoice in the Lord daily. 

What does gratitude mean to you? 

PSA- if you would like to purchase one of my handmade crochet headwarmers I am having a Flash Sale on my @ohsimplethoughts instagram account today until 3:30 pm CST. It is Auction style so everyone has a chance to win a headwarmer! 

The Gratitude Journal - Finding Contentment in the Everyday

I have been looking forward to writing this post for several days now. One of my anniversary presents from Ben was a book many you of you have probably heard of, "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp (we went traditional this year with paper gifts). When I first got the book I had a hard time not being a little disappointed. You see, I have an Amazon wishlist FULL of books I want to read, I am really quite the book worm, and this particular book was not on my list...or so I thought. Initially I was wishing Ben had bought me a different book. I thanked him, and told him I would bring it on our beach trip. 

Later when we were on the beach I pulled it out, and Ben and I started discussing why he chose the book...come to find out, the book was on my wishlist all along! And wow, am I so glad now that it was. Many of you read me gushing over "Bread & Wine" last month...I am still in love with that book. But let me tell you...this book is topping Bread & Wine. 

The whole premise of the book is the idea of finding what it takes to live a "full life". The author explains that this can only be found through giving thanks...yeah, yeah, we have all heard for our entire lives to be thankful, count your blessings, say thank you, and be grateful for what you have. This book is not talking about that. Ann begins to unpack how we can truly be thankful and she says it is through recognizing the gifts the Lord has given us. 

Thankfulness is not a blanket that can be thrown over every area in our life...if this is what we practice we will find ourselves coming up short, and discontent at the end of the day. Thankfulness must be is a practice that must be trained into us, day after day, over and over and over again. The way that Ann Voskamp began to learn thankfulness was to write down the Lord's daily gifts to her. So that is the inspiration behind this new project I am introducing today. 

The Gratitude Journal, this is what it sounds like. A journal to record daily gifts from the Lord that I can rejoice in. Part of the book "One Thousand Gifts" talks about how the key to gratitude is in the naming, stopping to take time to name the gift the Lord has given. Like this:

3. The sizzle of thick cut bacon and the smell of strong coffee
5. White clouds that look like cotton
7. The serenity of him sleeping next to me

By picking up my pen and journal, and writing down gifts, I am receiving things that go unnoticed, rejoicing in them, and then awakening my heart to the glory of my Savior. I am nailing out discontentment, and beginning to see the deep love my Heavenly Father has for me. 

It is our natural tendancy to cast out what we label as "small things". We long for better vacations, nicer clothing, prettier houses, and more money...I love this quote by Simone Weil, "Sin is an attempt to flee from emptiness." We deem our lives empty so we chase after more...we are discontent so we complain, covet, and become jealous of others. But what if we were to stop, and reevaluate those small things. 

"Do not disdain the small. The whole of life, even the hard, is made of minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole...There is a new way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. Moments will add up." - Ann Voskamp

I love this. So rather than continuing to write my thoughts on all that I have read (we would be here all day) I wanted to share a few of my "gifts" that I have written in my gratitude journal so far. I would like to challenge you to join me. Just pick up your pen and start writing. 

9. Flaky white fish smothered in cream and parmesan
10. The smell of summer rain
12. Kissing him upon waking up
14. Children catching fireflies

I plan to write in this journal every day, and I am not planning to stop at 1,000. I want this to become a part of me. I desire to see Jesus and his love for me as his child in every little thing, so that is why I am starting this Gratitude Journal. Will you join me? I would love to spur one another on in this journey towards contentment and joy! 


Hello friends. bet you thought I fell off the planet after almost one month of no posting. my excuse is....well honestly I don't have one, but sometimes a break is necessary and October seemed to be break time for me. But now it is November so I plan to do much better about posting. 

This is the month of thankfulness. A month dedicated to reflecting on the many God-given blessings in our lives...and wow I am blown away by the way the Lord has blessed me and my family of two. Marriage is the sweetest, hardest, most sanctifying and joy-filled experience I have ever been a part of. I would not trade it for anything. I have an incredible family with siblings that are some of my closest friends. My "in-laws" are some of the most loving and selfless people I know and it truly is a joy to be a part of such an amazing family. My job brings me such happiness, I am so extremely grateful to have a daily job that allows me to get coffee with college girls, unpack the Word with them and teach them how to hunger and thirst after righteousness. It is the sweetest thing to do life alongside so many incredible young women who are learning to love Jesus in deep ways. I could go on and on and I am going to stop, and reflect on other sources of gratitude via pictures. 

First I am grateful for a trip home to Georgia a few weeks ago and for some really godly fellowship with new and old friends. Also, I am thankful for this guy...anyone who knows me in the slightest knows how much my little sister and brother mean to me. This is my brother Reed. He is a published writer now at the age of 15. He, along with several others from my home church, wrote devotionals in this newly published book for teenagers. I am so proud of Reed and his commitment to our Savior. This guy loves Jesus, and is a hard worker, not very many guys his age are like this. I am thankful for his dedication in all he does and the loving way he is with everyone he knows. Proud of ya Reedman!

I am so thankful for my husband. He is passionate about Christ, the gospel and the Scriptures and I will never get over how lucky I am to be married to a man who loves the Lord deeply and fully. He desires to sanctify me in the truth of God's Word, and you know what, sometimes I make that so hard for him, I fight sanctification, but he patiently and graciously bears with me loving me the way Jesus Christ faithfully and patiently loves his rebellious bride, the church. I had to speak at an event for a sorority at MSU Sunday night and Ben so willingly took time to sit down night after night leading up to the talk to walk me through the Word in order to help me piece all my thoughts together...yeah basically he is my favorite.
I am thankful for Friday nights in a small (ish) town where all you have to do is go to Wal-mart and walk around. I love baking, and Ben's dreams of being a farmer...these basically were ornaments made for us. 

Below are craft supplies, and while yes I am thankful for them and the impending Christmas season...I am more thankful for my sweet friend Nikki that I got to spend my Saturday morning with getting these craft supplies. We had a girls morning drive to Tupelo, MS and just knocked around a few stores and enjoyed some much needed catch up time. It was great!
Crafts. yes okay I am super thankful for crafts, for the free time to make them. For my grandmother and mom's own piano sheets that make up this wreath, for Miss Mustard Seed's awesome home decor book, and for CHRISTMAS. :) 

Last but certainly not least I am thankful for the ability to love my church family through service. My way of loving often is translated through food. Through baking, cooking, and sharing meals with our family of believers at Redeemer. This is a fresh apple cake made for some very special friends of ours that go to our church. I am thankful most of all for a church of people that do life together outside of a Sunday meeting. Who love each other well every day of the week and seek to be God's people as much on Wednesday nights at small group as we do on Sundays when we got together for our church meeting.

I think it is so special and needed sometime to stop and reflect on things we are grateful for. I encourage you to do this. What has the Lord blessed you with this year? these past months, weeks and days? 

Take care!