Embracing Fall with Joy & Thanksgiving!

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This past month has been full of wonderful surprises and blessings as we push through to the end of the fall semester.  Our oldest has been doing great on his tests, even completing two comprehensive science tests that spanned 4 pages long each!  His grades were fine when he was in public school, but he learns even more complex details for each subject now, and his grades are still averaging out to all A’s with the harder, more complex material!

There’s just no comparison to how much better homeschooling has been as far as actual learning goes.  We’re beyond elated!!!

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And we still love our weekly outings getting to take in the beauty of Texas.  It really is so incredibly beautiful if you know how to seek it out.  I could not believe the incredible fall colors in these pictures (and these are not edited, this is 100% as much as the camera lens could capture – and even more perfect in person)!

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When our kids come back from these outings, I can sense the change in them immediately ❤ they’re calmer, happier, and have this overall sense of well-being as they relax on the car ride home.  They also seem to have a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for the colors of nature as we’re driving home!  The effects of being surrounded by so much beauty are long-lasting. 😀  I just love it!

I’m so grateful that with the freedom of homeschooling, things like this are doable.

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The ducks, turtles, and egrets around made it even more exciting for them.

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Love having my mom on these trips in the mornings!  She used to paint, so seeing all this beauty in nature really touches her heart, too ❤  And the kids just love being with her – she’s like a real life Mary Poppins in heart and attitude!!!

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Cuties ❤

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They have so many places to just sit and stare at the trees reflected on the water.

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One of my favorite pictures (above), a wooden dragonfly hovering over the still and peaceful water.

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Our boys love hopping over this garden wall.

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Our oldest tried to teach his brother how to play chess, while we just sat there and talked as a couple of hours passed by.  It was so peaceful and relaxing… definitely a luxurious November day.  I do wish we had snow, but then it wouldn’t be as easy to go out and enjoy days like this for as long as we’re able to.

Here’s a link to an article I read (and loved) recently:

Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain

From the article,
“Researchers are now discovering that the heart also responds and that it might actually be the heart that’s responsible for sending these signals to the brain. ….

Their work, among many others, has proven that when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain.

Not only that, but because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, the Institute has been able to gather a significant amount of data.

According to Rolin McCratey, Ph.D, and Director of Research at Heartmath?)

“Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.” (source)

The article goes on to talk about the mysterious power of prayer… give the article a look for some gratitude inspiration!

Something Old & Something New

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Last night out at the field, we had a blast.  I finally was able to work up my nerve to run on the track – the real freaking track – complete with baby in tow in the stroller.  It was intimidating before, especially when you’re around other people LOL.  Run like no one is watching!

Running again felt so wonderful, I felt my muscles wake up, get rejuvenated, and felt so wonderfully exhausted by the end of it.  The baby didn’t mind it, either, he seemed to like the speed and held on tight… success!!!

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And I swear we both fell asleep faster and slept deeper after it… running used to feel easy, lol, I was surprised how exhausted I felt afterwards.

Look out, extremely random & happy baby picture below that will make you want to cuddle!!

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This kid wakes up with joy… it’s so unfair that he doesn’t need coffee! 😉

This last weekend we were gone on a long weekend get-away, a road-trip without the kids, traveling for what seemed like forever ❤  through the beautiful Texan small towns, the big cities and their lights over black waters at night, so fun!!!!  And such a great surprise from what I was expecting.  What was supposed to just be a quick trip to celebrate a good friend’s wedding, turned into a mini-vacation and love-get-away adventure.

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We drove through a little town of only a population of 90 people.  There were antique stores everywhere, with some beautiful things.

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I love finding things like this – looking at the way things were built, once upon a time… to me, walking into an antique store is exciting, full of anticipating wonder.

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Wonder & Joy-Full!

Yesterday morning I met with a group of women for our yearly adventures in Bible study together.  It is SUCH a blessing and wonderful thing to spend all Tuesday mornings with these women.  I’m usually one of the youngest in the class, this year looks to be no different, and I’d not have it any other way!  This is where I find some of the most amazing older women I know, chances for mentorship, guidance, and accountability in my life, and friends who have been pursuing God’s truth longer than I’ve been alive!

It was so good to see them again after this Summer’s break, and to learn about what we’d be studying this Fall – the deliberate pondering of all the intricacies of God’s wonder, and how to “fight back with joy.”

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THE WONDER OF GOD:  A MOMENT OF SPIRITUAL AWAKENING THAT MAKES US CURIOUS TO KNOW GOD MORE.

-Margaret Feinberg

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We talked extensively about what makes us wonderstruck – the beauty of nature, the incredible feelings of joy when we cuddle with our children, or those special moments when someone speaks such truth in our life, that we are taken aback with it’s beauty and power.  The moments that feel like a little bit of Heaven on earth, that make us desire to have more of God – to be curious about Him because of the glimpse of beauty we saw or felt.

When we were on our vacation, it was hard to get up in time to see the sunrise over the ocean, especially with the late nights spent swimming or on the beach – or the feedings with the baby that interrupted the night’s sleep – but each time we managed it, it was always immeasurably worth the difficulty!  The beauty of seeing the sunrise over the ocean was just breathtaking, but we had to be intentional about seeking out that wonder, or otherwise we’d have gone the whole trip and never known what we’d missed.  If we’d slept a little longer, the encounter with God, being wholly captivated by His beautiful character displayed in nature, would have been lost.

God is full of wonder, in fact, we found that His Name is Wonderful… literally, full of wonders.  

Sunrises happen all the time, and people who live in beautiful places may grow accustomed to the constant display of wonder, and begin to take the chances to experience God through nature for granted.  We all do it, all the time.  Every time that I’m annoyed at my children instead of taking the moment to appreciate the gifts they are, or every time I pass by glorious displays of God’s beauty in my surroundings because I’m too busy or distracted to notice, these are chances missed to embrace God’s awe.

Sometimes we can harden our hearts towards God’s captivating wonders in life, relying on science and technology, agnosticism or atheism to guide us through.  Life, with it’s trials, succeeds in hardening our hearts; nothing can more quickly take away joy than experiencing great heartache, pain, or the bottomless feelings of depression.  It’s interesting to me that in the latter part of our study, we’ll be focusing on using Joy as a weapon against such things.

And for insignificant purposes… today I turn 29!!!!  I was reminded last night when filling in my gratitude acknowledgment for the day, how wonderful it is to have my two boys.  They are both such perfect gifts, and it is only that more obvious on my birthday, that they are treasures sent from Heaven. ❤

Here’s to another year full of embracing and chasing the wonders of God, and learning how to fight back with Joy.