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Thanksgiving 2013: Perspective and Abundance


Thanksgiving speaks so many things to me.

Pumpkin pie.


Thanksgiving parade.


Time passing on traditions in the kitchen.

No matter where we are, Ohio or New York,

just the four of us or extended family,

I always try to take extra time to reflect on our blessings.

The word God gave me for 2013 was abundance.

What a beautiful word.

And what a faithful God.

Abundance of healing after losing my mother-in-law.

Abundance of family time with a vacation we saved years for.

Abundance of unity with fellow believers as we chose forgiveness together.

Abundance of God’s provision as we have a new pastor we know God handpicked for such a time as this.

Abundance of time to write so I could finish my first novel.

Abundance of prayers from others to help direct my writing steps.

Abundance of laughter as I navigate life as a wife, mom, writer, mentor.

Abundance of healing as my wrist is well.

Abundance of unexpected blessings as I was able to travel to the Adirondacks with my mom.

Abundance of new opportunities as we close doors and open new ones, with His leading.

Abundance of clothes on our backs and closets.

Abundance of food on the table and in cupboards.

Abundance, abundance, abundance.

I also realized this season to have abundance also means choosing perspective, perspective, perspective.

May your perspective this Thanksgiving be about abundant blessings!

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate you!

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The Ordinary Life by Leslie Umstattd

The Ordinary Life

Most of us live what is considered an ordinary life. We go through life each day with the typical routine of getting up, going to work, doing laundry, shuttling children to their events, and retiring for the evening. The days and months pass by and before we know it, November hits and we are reminded to be thankful.

The retail stores force images upon us, the commercials on television have us grabbing the tissue box, and the Hallmark channel releases heart-warming movies with happy endings. It is that time of the year when even the most ungrateful person finds a reason to be thankful. We look around and begin to be appreciative even in the small things.

A few years ago my husband and I decided as parents we wanted to begin to lay the foundations of thankfulness in our children. To be completely honest, instilling the practice of thankfulness in our children forces us, beckons us as parents to model for them an attitude of appreciation.  Beyond Thanksgiving, we wanted our children to recognize how blessed they are and to be thankful for how God has provided for our family daily. We began by asking a simple question,  “What are you thankful for?” Most responses seem so child like. “I am thankful I got to eat lunch at school today.” “I am thankful that I got to jump on the trampoline after school.” “I am thankful I got to stay up, watch a movie, and eat candy!”



As they have grown, their thankfulness focus has turned from “I am thankful I got to watch Veggie Tales today,” to “I am glad I met a new friend at school.” As I listen to my children express their thankfulness for what seems like the “mundane” things in life, I am reminded where Christ tells us to come to him as little children, with child-like faith. A childlike faith finds good in the simple things, gives the benefit of doubt, extends grace when there is hurt, and even can be thankful for getting to eat candy before bed!

Being thankful for the small things helps to provide us with eyes that see how blessed we truly are in our lives. We have opportunities to be thankful for something small like having a friend who can be your running buddy, finding a $5 bill in last year’s winter coat that has been packed away, folding laundry which means we have clothes to wear, or a friend sending a text saying that she is praying for you and thankful for your friendship. These are the things in life that swell our hearts with gladness. It is in the ordinary things of life that we find God moving and blessing us.

It seems this time of year more than any other we find ourselves evaluating, assessing our thankfuls in life. We contemplate because we want to have attitudes of gratitude. The challenge of thankfulness is not just being thankful during the Thanksgiving season but creating mind-set of being grateful in the good, the bad, and the ugly. Being thankful that God is in control no matter the circumstances. Being thankful that we woke up this morning with hands and feet that move and eyes that see. Being thankful we live in a country where we can freely worship. Creating a year around attitude of gratitude starts with a speck of gratefulness for the ordinary life so when the big blessings come we have no trouble recognizing them, but we also realize that the ordinary life is our biggest blessing.



Leslie Umstattd has been involved in women’s and children’s ministry areas for over 15 years. Before moving to Missouri in 2008, she was an elementary school teacher in both the public and private sector. She recently graduated from Midwestern Seminary with her Doctorate in Educational Ministry and currently serves as Adjunct Professor in the Christian Education department at Midwestern. She has been married for 12 years and has two daughters.


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Saturday Confession: I Thought I Was God’s Punchline

Posted by Julie on October 26, 2013 in encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Saturday Confession |

This has been a tough month. If it were only the government shutdown or healthcare issues.

But it seems so much more, you know?

My inbox has been fuller than usual with requests asking, “would you pray for me?”

  • There have been jobs lost
  • New diagnosis
  • Family issues
  • Relationship troubles
  • and more.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was in a season where the hits came coming. They were so fast, so devastating that as a pretty solid in faith Jesus girl, I was reeling. To the point of wondering if God had a punchline, and I was it.

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I learned a lot from that season, and the ones that have followed it. Earlier this week I was at Christians Read and I shared what my husband did to help me.

His answer may help you, too.

Do you have a confession? If so, share here. Let’s encourage each other. You are not alone.


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Thankful: Tiffany Amber Stockton’s Gratitude Born From Selfishness



I sat for a bit, pondering what I would say in this post on being thankful. Sure, I could start a long list of reasons for giving thanks, but so can anyone else. Then, it hit me. Although I have a lot of reasons to give thanks today, I didn’t always do that in the past. Instead, I spent a lot of time lamenting over what I did NOT have than praising God for what I DID have.


After growing up in a Christian household, graduating with honors from high school and a private college, finding consistent work, and having parents who graciously accepted me back home after I made some critical mistakes and had no place to live, I still wasn’t happy. On the contrary, I drifted more toward asking God why I had never had a boyfriend, or why I wasn’t married yet, or when I would land that “dream” job, or why I was living at home again, or where were those close friends I’d always wanted. Looking back now, it was quite selfish of me to demand all those things in light of all God had given me in other areas. And in hindsight, I see how God protected me in so many ways. Had He given me what I wanted when I wanted it, the end result would have been certain disaster.


But we are all human, aren’t we? And selfishness reigns supreme when we don’t allow God to guide our thoughts and hearts. As hard as it is to admit this, being selfish seemed to be a way of life for me. Sure, I *thought* I was looking out for others or putting others before me, but in reality, I was only doing that because it would give me something in return. It was *my* interests at the core of everything I did or said.


It’s amazing God stuck with me and continued to bless me in spite of my ungrateful behavior.


Yet bless me He did. And after a hard lesson where I lost several jobs in a row and had to humbly approach my parents for financial assistance, I finally “saw the light” so to speak. Immediately, I hit my knees and prayed for forgiveness, admitting my selfishness, my mistakes, and thanking God for not turning His back on me. I certainly turned my back on more than one person who didn’t seem to bring me benefit. And now, I cringe when I think of how callous I used to be.


Today, though, I’ve had a landfall of blessings hit me in a relatively short amount of time. It’s almost as if God said, “All right. You finally admitted you need me, and you’ve admitted your shortcomings. Now, I’m going to give you the desires of your heart. So, in the span of 4 years, I sold my first novel (which has led to 10 more), met and married the love of my life, moved to Colorado and the mountains I’ve always loved, and added a daughter and son to our family. Talk about everything hitting at once. I’m still reeling from the after-effects of it all, and it’s a daily process adjusting to it all.


One of these days, I’ll get a handle on things…perhaps when my kids are grown and out of the house. *grins* Until then, I daily remember to give thanks to God for His abundant blessings and protection. After all He’s done for me and the many bad situations from which He’s protected me, how can I do anything less?


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an award-winning author, speaker, online marketing specialist, and a freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a  daughter, a son, and a vivacious Flat-Coat Retriever/Australian shepherd named Roxie.


Her writing career officially began in high school with the publication of her first children’s book, but she didn’t pursue adult fiction until college where she dabbled in fan fiction and received continuous requests for more stories. Amber wrote her first novel in 1999, but it wasn’t until joining ACFW in 2002 and attending their annual conferences that she received a request for a full manuscript in September 2004. Two years later, in December 2006, the request resulted in her first sale. And in January 2008, her debut novel released.


She has since sold eleven books and one novella to Barbour Publishing with more on the horizon. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards and in 2009, she was voted #1 favorite new author for the Heartsong Presents book club. Other writing credits include writing articles for various publications, five short stories with Romancing the Christian Heart, and nine contributions to the book, 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage.


A born-again Christian since the age of seven, her faith in Christ has often sustained her through difficult experiences. She seeks to share that with others through her writing. Read more about her at her web site:


Web site:

Facebook Page:



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As of Late…A Bit Late

Posted by Julie on March 24, 2011 in About Me, Julie Arduini, surrender |

I’m coming in WAY late on this one but I’ve been blogging ahead to keep up with a busy schedule. I love this meme, I learned about it from Lynda at On the Write Track and Joanne at an Open Book.   It’s called “As of Late”. It’s a great way to reflect and share.  I think Critty Joy is keeping the meme up through today, but it is typically the third Thursday of each month. Join us, won’t you?

As of Late…

As of Late…

-God is using me in mighty ways that is making me lean hard on Him.

-I’m watching faith unroll and it is awesome.

-I’m teacher and student.

-I’m reading more than writing and going with it.

-I’m buried in paperwork but tackling it.

-I’m busier than ever in every role God has me.

-I’m learning about tabernacles, craving God, and insights.

-I want to smell real lilacs.

-I want people to live free in Christ more than I ever have.

-I’m looking forward in a weird way to April 28 for the laparoscopy.

-I’m blessed, God is moving everywhere around me, and through me and I love it.

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