4 Easy Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Yah! That means lots of yummy food and more dessert than any one person should ever consume. It also means we parents have a great opportunity to put some fun traditions in place with our kids. Here are a few Thanksgiving traditions that are both easy and inexpensive.

Easy Thanksgiving Traditions

Easy Thanksgiving Traditions: 

1. Make a Thankful Tablecloth.  

I bought a plain tablecloth at Wal-Mart a few years back. At Thanksgiving every year, each person in my family traces the outline of his or her hand on the tablecloth with a permanent marker and then writes in the handprint one thing for which he or she is thankful.

When my oldest was four, he said he was thankful for “the food of Chex.” I have a feeling this tablecloth will be one of my most treasured possessions 🙂

Thanksgiving Tablecloth

2. Begin a Family Thanksgiving Journal. 

This is a super easy but also meaningful tradition to start with your family. All you do is list things in your journal that you and your family are thankful for. Simple as that. Then look back on the previous year’s blessings and enjoy!

3. Do Thanksgiving Crafts.

Like this fingerprint turkey from Cards by CG.

Or this hand print turkey from Feels Like Home.

Isn’t this Thankful Pumpkin from One Artsy Mama adorable?

Looking for more ideas?
Browse through my Thanksgiving Pinterest page or read this fun post from Parents Magazine for more!!
4. Memorize Thanksgiving Bible Verses. 

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to work with your children on memorizing Bible verses about being thankful. You can download a great (FREE) PRINTABLE resource at Faith Gateway.

Let’s make this Thanksgiving one to remember, not because of the “things” we do but because of the memories we create!

Now, I want to hear from you. What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? 

*This post was first published in 2013, but has been updated.

When Forgiveness is Difficult For You

Can I be painfully honest with you for a moment? It’s been awhile since I wrote a this-is-what-God-is-teaching-me-about-my-broken-self-post…so I guess it’s time to share.

I struggle to let things go. If someone hurts me, I struggle to get past it. And I hate this about myself.

My husband can get over things so quickly. If something offends him, he doesn’t hang onto it. He usually says something like, “Well, that’s just the way it is.” And then he moves on.

I’ve asked him over and over in our 13 years of marriage how he does this. For him, it’s just something he can do. It comes naturally.

For me, the opposite is natural. Instead of letting go of things and moving on – refusing to let things continue to hurt me – I hang on to them. I over-think them day after day, wondering what I did wrong to cause someone to treat me the way they did or wishing things had happened differently.

When Forgiveness is Difficult - Lindsey Bell

There are times that a song will come on the radio that was popular when I was in high school. It reminds me of a person or situation that hurt me, and the feelings are still so raw. It’s like I’m 17 again.

Or now, as an adult, when I run into someone who has hurt me, those feelings resurface.

It would be one thing if the offenses done were huge. Then I would give myself more grace. The hurt feelings would make more sense. But the offenses don’t even have to be big for me to hang on to the hurt.

As much as I want to let go of the hurt and move forward, it’s like I can’t. It’s like I’m stuck.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who has been through more in her life than any one person should have to go through. She has a child with special needs who has been in life-threatening health battles more than any child should ever experience.

She said something as we were talking that stuck with me. You see, we were talking about marriage and the little things that our spouses do that somethings bug us. I told her I was impressed with her ability to let things go. From the outside looking in, it seems like she and her husband do such a great job of working as a team.

Do they do things that bug each other? Sure. But they don’t fight a lot. And she explained why.

“Over the years,” she said, “I guess I’ve just learned that there are bigger things to worry about. Most things just are worth fighting over or hanging on to.” 

Isn’t that so true?

Most things I get upset over or hurt by…in the grand scheme of things…don’t really matter all that much. 

So that got me thinking….if most of the things that bug me or hurt me aren’t worth fighting over, why do I allow these things to taunt me? Why do I over-think them? Why do I allow them to continue to upset me?

Then I read this post about forgiveness over at Sheila Wray Gregoire’s blog.  (It’s a really good post, by the way, if forgiveness is something you struggle with.)

Sheila wrote about how sometimes, the reason we can’t forgive is because we are focusing so much on the forgiveness itself. We’re praying, “God, help me forgive so-and-so for what they did to me.”

And in doing so, we’re focusing on the wrong that was done to us. Instead of doing this, Sheila wrote that we should focus on Jesus.

Focus on getting closer to Him, and He will begin to heal your heart. 

And then, as He’s healing your heart, He’ll help you forgive too.

When you focus on the thing you need to forgive, forgiveness becomes impossible. But when you focus on getting closer to Jesus, Jesus does the work for you.*

I don’t have all the answers. Goodness, I wish I did. I wish forgiveness came naturally for me like it seems to for other people. But this makes sense to me.

When I do those two things…when I remind myself that THIS isn’t worth being upset about and when I seek to get closer to Jesus (instead of focusing so much on the offense itself)….when I do those two things, forgiveness doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.

What do you think? Do you struggle to forgive too? What has helped you? Leave a comment with your tips or thoughts.  

*Though I wish Jesus moved fast, He doesn’t. Sometimes, healing can take years. Or even decades. We can’t rush healing. Or forgiveness…especially for big offenses.

One Thing that Will Make You a Better Parent

This post isn’t long, because it doesn’t need to be. Deep down I know what I need to do to be a better parent.

One Thing That Will Make You A Better Parent:

I don’t need to find another educational activity on Pinterest. I don’t need to read another book on parenting. I don’t need to listen to another podcast.

One thing that will make you a better parent today -

What I do need to do is this:

Put the phone down. Turn off the TV. Shut down the computer. Turn off Facebook notifications. (Better yet, turn off all notifications on my phone. Since when do I NEED to know what’s happening with someone half way across the country at the second it’s happening?) Close the book. Leave the dishes for another day.

I need to stop running through my to-do list while I’m simultaneously playing Uno with my kids.

I need to be present. I need to be in the moment. 

My kids are only going to be five and eight once.

When I look back on my life twenty years from now, I’m not going to wish I spent more time on Facebook or watched more TV or did the dishes sooner or kept up with laundry better.

I will never regret time spent with those I love….but I might regret the time lost.

Will you join me this coming week in being in the moment?

I love this quote by Jim Elliot:

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

*This post was originally published in 2012, but has been updated here.

Dealing with Grief Over the Holidays

All this month, I’ve been writing about miscarriages. For some reason, our miscarriages were often around holidays. This made the holidays especially difficult, so I wanted to share a post about how to deal with grief over the holidays.

One time, we found out I was pregnant right around Christmas. Then I miscarried on New Year’s Day. Nothing like a miscarriage to start the year off, right?

Another time, I miscarried four days before Thanksgiving. Needless to say, I didn’t feel super thankful that year.

Holidays are hard when you’re grieving.

If you’re in a similar spot this year, here are a few things that might help you deal with grief over the holidays:

Dealing with Grief Over the Holidays

How to Deal with Grief over the Holidays:

1. Give Yourself a Break.

Don’t expect to be all smiles this year. It’s okay if you’re not.

Don’t worry so much about what other people think, and allow yourself a chance to grieve.

Cut yourself some slack this year. It does get easier.

2. Give Yourself Permission to Have Fun (or not).

On the one hand, if you’re having a good time, don’t feel guilty about it. One thing I had to tell myself over and over again was this: your happiness doesn’t mean you love your baby any less. It’s okay to smile every now and then 🙂

On the other hand, if you’re struggling to smile, that’s okay too. Don’t be so hard on yourself, especially the first year.

3. Give Yourself an Out. 

Prepare ahead of time what you will do if you get upset at a family gathering.

Are you comfortable crying in front of people, or would you rather head to the restroom? Should you skip out on some of the family gatherings this year?

4. Go with Someone.

Don’t do it alone. If you can go to family gathering with someone who “gets you,” that can be very helpful.

5. Do Something Special to Remember The One You Lost.

Our first Christmas after losing a baby, we bought Christmas ornaments in memory of him or her. Sure, I cried. But it also helped me grieve. We now hang these ornaments each year in remembrance of the babies we lost.

6. Get Out of the House (or stay in).

Are you overly depressed when you’re at home alone? Then stay busy. Or does it depress you to be around family? Then stay in.

Do whatever works for you this year. You’ll have plenty of future holidays to do the opposite.

What else would you add to this list? 

*I originally wrote this post in 2011, but have updated it here.

5 Things That Help After a Miscarriage

Here are 5 things that can help after a miscarriage.

Seven years ago this week, my husband and I lost baby #1 to miscarriage. We named her Eden. Three months later, we lost baby #2: Jesse. Six months after that, we lost baby #3: Ella. And one year after that, we lost baby #4: Jadon.

Losing four babies within two years was really hard for me. Devastating, in fact. But there were a few things that  helped me get through that time.

If you’re in the midst of a similar season right now, I wanted to share with you a few things that helped me heal after our miscarriages:

5 things that can help after a miscarriage

What Helps After a Miscarriage?

1. Talking about it with someone you trust, someone who won’t judge you for feeling angry or abandoned by God or whatever else you might be feeling. 

This was huge for me. For several months after our miscarriages began, I stuffed emotions I didn’t want to feel, thinking they would eventually go away.

They didn’t.

Instead, they just got worse.

When I finally opened up about all of my emotions, that’s when I finally started to heal.

If you don’t have anyone like this in your life, a counselor might be a good place to start. I know it’s expensive. But if it helps you heal, a few sessions are worth the money.

2. Allowing yourself to feel any and every emotion. 

For months, the emotion I didn’t want to feel was anger. I buried anger because I mistakenly thought I wasn’t supposed to feel mad.

It was only when I allowed myself to feel that I started to experience some relief.

3. Reading other people’s miscarriage stories.

I cried when I read other people’s stories. A LOT. But it helped to know I wasn’t alone.

4. Doing things to remember the babies you’ve lost. 

We did a memorial service for a couple of our miscarriages. We also remember them every year on October 15th by lighting candles for each of them. We also named them.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but if you feel this could be helpful to you, I suggest you give it a try. It was very helpful for me.

5. Telling yourself the truth, even when your heart doesn’t believe it.

I had to tell myself over and over again, “It’s not my fault. I didn’t cause this. It’s not my fault.”

I also had to tell myself, even when my feelings didn’t agree, “God is still with me. He hasn’t abandoned me. He loves me.”

Our minds don’t always tell us the truth.

Sometimes, we have to choose to believe what we know to be true, even when it doesn’t feel true at the moment. 

Let’s talk: Those of you who have miscarried, what else has helped you? 

*I originally wrote this post in 2012 but have updated it here.